Khowa in India

Joshua Project has identified the Khowa only in India






Largest Religion

Main Language



Approximately 800 people speak the Khowa language, which is commonly called Bugun, in north-east India. About half of all Khowa people 'reside in the two villages of Wanghoo and Singchung near the district headquarters at Bomdila in West Kameng District'. These communities are on the hillsides along both sides of the Rupa River (also known as Enga). 'The upper reaches of their land are lined by oak forests. The climate of the area is cold. In the upper reaches of the area, snowfall occurs in the months of January and February. The area experiences heavy rainfall in the months of May to August.'

The 1981 Indian census listed 625 Khowa people, down from a figure of 703 Khowa returned in the 1971 census. The Khowa 'are surrounded by the Sherdukpen on the west, with whom they share part of the Tanga valley, by the Monpas on the north, the Mijis or Dhamais on the east, and the Hrusos or Akas on the south'.

The Khowa language—which is an unclassified part of the Tibeto-Burman family—was first studied in the winter of 1913–14, when the British authorities compiled a 100-word list. Little research has been conducted since, except for brief reports by Ivan Simon (1976) and Rinchin Dondrup (1990). J N Chowdhury (1983) briefly mentions that the Khowa have 'a distinctive language which they zealously preserve'.


The Khowa say they originated in the north, in today's Tibet, before they moved southward in search of a new place to live. Locals believe that they arrived in the area before the Sherdukpen. For many years the Khowa were oppressed by the Aka tribe, who used to plunder them on the pretext of collecting taxes. The Khowa responded by relocating away from them. The Khowa are a colourful people. 'Their dresses during day-to-day occasions are very colourful which they also use during dances and festive occasions. That means they do not have any special dress for their dances and festivals, since they are colourful round the year.'


When the 1981 census was conducted, 606 of the 625 Khowa people stated that Buddhism was their religion. Two individuals said they were Hindus, eight were followers of 'other religions' (i.e., animists), and the remaining nine people did not state their religion. Other sources say that the Khowa believe in a mixture of traditional animism and Tibetan Buddhism. One researcher has found that the Khowa 'believe in one Supreme being who created the universe and life therein. They respect the Supreme God but do not worship [him].' Fear of demonic forces plays a major role in everyday Khowa life. For example, children are named immediately after birth, because 'the Khowas believe if there is a delay, some evil spirit will name the baby, and as a result the baby will suffer. When the child grows up to 16 to 17 years, the parents hold a worship called chhoacshao. This ritual is performed to please the spirit responsible for the welfare and betterment of the children.'


There has never been a known Christian among this small tribe. Gospel audio recordings are available in the Khowa language, but are rarely utilized.

Profile Source:   Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

Video Links:
A Pilgrimage
People Name General Khowa
People Name in Country Khowa
Population in India 600
World Population 600
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bugum, Bugun, Bunan, Bunun, Khoa
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Hindi
People Name General Khowa
Ethnic Code CNN25g
People ID 17180
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country About half of all Khowa people reside in the two villages of Wanghoo and Singchung near the district headquarters at Bomdila in West Kameng District..   Source:  Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004
Total States on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Arunachal Pradesh (600)
Total States on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Arunachal Pradesh (600)

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  2  (up to 20 largest shown)
Nepali Hindi
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Nepali 0 Hindi
For Primary Language: Hindi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1806-1962)
New Testament Yes   (1811-1998)
Complete Bible Yes   (1818-2000)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible Visuals General
Bible: Hindi Holy Bible Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Hindi Holy Bible Text / Printed Matter
Bibles, Bible League Text / Printed Matter
Christ for the Nations Text / Printed Matter
EasyBibles Text / Printed Matter
EasyBibles Text / Printed Matter
Fathers Love Letter Film / Video
Following Jesus (India, JF Project) Film / Video
God's Story Video Film / Video
Gods Simple Plan General
Got Questions Ministry General
Hindi Bible Text / Printed Matter
Hindi Bible stories Audio Recordings
International Bible Society Text / Printed Matter
Jesus Film: view in Hindi Film / Video
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online Bible (Bibles India) Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
51.79 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
3.57 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
42.86 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
1.79 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Video Source: Create International
Profile Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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