Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 7,000 Tai Kaleun people live in central Laos. The majority are located in the Khamkeut District of Borikhamxai Province, where they comprise a considerable proportion of the overall population of the district (47,805 in the 1995 census). The average size household in Khamkeut District is 6.4 people.
A small, geographically separated number of Tai Kaleun have moved to the Nakay District of Khammouan Province. In addition, Tai Kaleun are reportedly located in Thailand, although it is very difficult there to distinguish them from the Isan. Why or when the Tai Kaleun migrated to Thailand is uncertain.
The Tai Kaleun were not counted separately in the 1995 Lao census. They were probably either counted as part of the Lao or Phutai ethnic groups.
Even though the Tai Kaleun view themselves as a distinct ethnicity, their language is considered only a dialect of Lao and not a separate variety. In Thailand, the Tai Kaleun have been listed merely as a dialect group of Thai Isan.
The Tai Kaleun practice a mixture of Theravada Buddhism and animism. In Laos, there are major differences between the two Buddhist sects.
Maha Canla, a Buddhist monk from the Lao Thammayut sect, wrote. "In Laos the division was very wide. It was if neither sect recognized the other as made up of Lao people. They were completely distinct from each other, and were always trying to get the better of each other.. The entire Lao population was divided on the same basis, so that a young man who was an adherent of the Mahanikai could on no account marry a young woman who was an adherent of Thammayut, because their parents would not allow it. The trouble was the political left was aware of this weak point and they managed, by inciting the two sides and spreading evil rumors, to make the gap wider and wider."
Over the course of many centuries, while the two Buddhist sects in Laos struggled for supremacy, the Tai Kaleun have waited to hear the Gospel for the first time. Today, they are still waiting.
* Pray the Tai Kaleun would soon receive a powerful and culturally-relevant presentation of the Gospel.
* Ask God to thrust forth laborers into His harvest field of Borikhamxai.
* Pray Lao Christians would be motiv-ated to take the Gospel to the linguistically similar Tai Kaleun people.