Charumba in India

Joshua Project has identified the Charumba only in India






Largest Religion

Main Language



Much confusion surrounds the tiny, little-known Zakhring tribe of north-east India. They inhabit the hilly terrain and the banks of the Lohit River in the Walong and Kibithoo area (Hayuliang Subdivision) of the Lohit District in Arunachal Pradesh.

The 1981 census returned a figure of just 14 Zakhring people. However, 235 additional people identified themselves under the ethnic name 'Meyor', which is a synonym for the Zakhring. Together, then, the total population for this group was 249. In the years since the 1981 census the population for the Zakhring is thought to have surpassed 300. To further complicate their identification, various sources note that neither Zakhring nor Meyor is the name these people use for themselves. In their own language they call themselves Charumba.

Regardless of their small size and the multiplicity of names, the Indian government has granted official status to this group as a Scheduled Tribe, under the name Zakhring.


Scholar Dutta Choudhury says the Zakhring arrived from the north (Tibet) in two waves of migration—the first in the late 1800s and the second wave a few years later in the early 1900s. These two separate migrations may explain why such a small group of a few hundred people speak two distinct dialects, which the Ethnologue labels Lower Zyphe and Upper Zyphe. When they first arrived in the Lohit District they 'had to face bitter opposition from the Mishmis. However, the Zakhring migrants overcame the opposition and settled in and around Walong.'


The Zakhring enjoy close relationships with the Tibetans and Monpa, and intermarriage with these groups is encouraged. Many Tibetan refugees live nearby. In both the 1971 and 1981 censuses, 100 per cent of Zakhring people declared themselves to be followers of Buddhism. Zakhring art reflects their origins in Tibet and their faith in Tibetan Buddhism. The Zakhring 'paint scrolls and murals, make wooden images of Buddha and produce some hand painted wooden objects and masks'.


Elements of the pre-Buddhist Bon religion seem to have been retained by the Zakhring. 'The Zakhring's Buddhism is tinged with beliefs in animism and shamanism. Their shamanistic priest is known as kahu who practises witchcraft. He is often called in to cure a person suffering from a disease. Besides Lord Buddha and the Bodhistatvas, the Zakhrings also have a community deity or village deity known as Yong or the deity of the hills. Thus each village has a separate Yong.'


The tiny Zakhring tribe must rank as one of the most unreached Buddhist people groups in the world. They are isolated in a small area that has little or no access to gospel witness. There has never been a known Christian among the Zakhring. One Christian source states, 'They are a small and insignificant tribe mostly dependent on others. They do not have a Bible nor literature of their own. They are in need of development.'

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

People Name General Charumba
People Name in Country Charumba
Population in India 600
World Population 600
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Meyor, Zakhring
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster South Himalaya
People Name General Charumba
Ethnic Code MSY50z
People ID 18354
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 The Zakhring (Charumba) inhabit the hilly terrain and the banks of the Lohit River in the Walong and Kibithoo area of the Lohit District in Arunachal Pradesh, India..   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:  5  (up to 20 largest shown)
Chin, Zyphe (500) Miju-Mishmi Monpa, Tawang Adi
Tibetan, Central
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chin, Zyphe 500 Miju-Mishmi 10
Monpa, Tawang 10 Adi 10
Tibetan, Central 10
For Primary Language: Chin, Zyphe

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes
New Testament Yes   (2010)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible: Biahrai Tha, Zyphe rei Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
94.79 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
2.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
3.21 %

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
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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