Introduction / History The Bathudi live primarily in the districts of Mayurbhanj, Kendujhargarh, and Balasore in the state of Orissa, East India. Most Bathudi are bilingual, speaking their native language, Bathudi, and Oriya. Bathudi is an unclassified language that is perhaps unlike all other tribal languages. Like most Indians, the Bathudi are primarily Hindu.
The ancestors of the Bathudi emigrated from Bakua in the Similipal hills, following the course of the Godavari River. After a time of bitter conflict and tribal warfare with the Gond, the Bathudi were eventually defeated. Today, the Bathudi live among the Santal, the Gond, the Munda, and the Ho people groups.
The social organization of the Bathudi maintains a hierarchy of "castes" (social classes) and sub-groups, some of which are the same as those of the neighboring Hindu groups. Presently, the Bathudi are considered to be a "clean" caste in the caste hierarchy of Hindu society.
What are their lives like? The Bathudi were traditionally fishermen. Today, however, they depend primarily on farming or wage-earning jobs. They live in the plains areas in the midst of different castes and tribes. The amount of land they own is insufficient for meeting their basic needs, and hunting and fishing are no longer practiced as an added income. Therefore, many are dependent on income from petty businesses, such as buying rice and selling it for a higher price.
The Bathudi tribe is divided into more than 56 sections, or khili. Marriage within the same section is prohibited. Weddings are expensive for the poor Bathudi. Most marriages are arranged by the groom's parents. Before the parents seek a wife for their son, they consult an astrologer to see if his marriage to a particular woman will be successful. Once the marriage is arranged, a ceremony takes place in the bride's village. In the past, marriages were celebrated with dancing, but now the guests are entertained with a festive meal.
The Bathudi have given up drinking alcohol and eating beef or pork. Instead, they enjoy eating termites and red ants. Rice is their staple food, accompanied by green leaves or vegetables. They are mostly vegetarians, due to the non-availability of game and their low incomes. For religious ceremonies, however, the Bathudi will eat fowl.
The Bathudi live in villages consisting of various tribes. However, within these villages, the Bathudi have separate settlements. Their houses are arranged in two rows alongside the main street. Their mud-walled huts generally have two rooms. The inner room is used for sleeping and cooking, while the goats and poultry roam freely in the outer room. The Bathudi usually paint the walls of their homes red or white. They sleep on palm leaf mats, and wooden furniture is rarely found.
The dress of the Bathudi is similar to the surrounding tribal dress. An older man will wear a dhoti, or a cotton loincloth. An older woman will wear a sari, or a piece of cloth that has one end wrapped around the waist as a skirt and the other draped over the shoulder or covering the head. The younger girls and boys are more influenced by outside contact and often wear Western-style clothing. Women typically wear glass bangles on their wrists, rings on their fingers and toes, nose-rings, and earrings. Necklaces, anklets, and hair clips are also worn. The wealthier Bathudi wear gold and silver jewelry.
What are their beliefs? The Bathudi are mostly Hindu, and their beliefs and practices are the same as those of the neighboring Hindu tribes. The village gods are worshipped by the village priest, who serves as a mediator between the villagers and the gods. The Bathudi have not yet completely lost their belief in magic and witchcraft.
What are their needs? Additional Christian laborers are needed, as well as much prayer.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers who will minister to the Bathudi.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is focusing on the Bathudi.
* Pray that God will use the Bathudi believers to share Christ with their families, friends, and neighbors.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin fervently interceding for the Bathudi.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Bathudi church for the glory of His name!