Profile Source: Etnopedia
Introduction / History
This is a cluster level profile for all Assamese people.
Most live in villages, and only a small fraction live in towns or cities. More than half of the villagers are farmers. Rice is the principal crop, followed by tea and a fibrous Indian plant called jute. Mustard plants, potatoes, and fruits are also grown. Because the area has an abundance of rain, the farmers are able to produce rice year-round. About half of India's tea is grown on plantations that are located in Assam. Other occupations that are held by villagers include small shops, fishing, and basket weaving. Those living in towns sometimes work as school teachers or office assistants. Their villages are typically surrounded by groves of bamboo, banana, and mango trees. Each farmer has a kett or rice plot, on the swampy plains near his home. This enables him to keep an eye on the rice fields year-round. Although only a few live in cities or towns, the cities play an important role in the lives of the villagers. Markets, bazaars, parks, and cinemas attract and entertain those living in rural areas. Hospitals and universities provide important services for them as well. Hindu girls living in Assam have long, glossy, black hair. They are usually engaged by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, and marry by the time they turn 14. Horoscopes are commonly used to find mates for the children.
Where are they Located?
They live in the state of Assam, which is located in the northeastern corner of India. Other Assamese communities can also be found in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Bhutan. Assam state (together with eight other states) is fairly isolated from central India, linked only by a small area between Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The culture, population, and religious beliefs of the Assamese have been greatly affected over the years by the countries that surround them. Those who live in Assam do not suffer from the extreme heat that plagues much of India. On the contrary, very mild temperatures are enjoyed throughout the year. Assam is primarily rural land consisting of river valleys, plains, and forests. Unfortunately, flooding and earthquakes are common occurrences. Wild elephants roam freely in the area, while domesticated elephants often are used as a means of transportation.
What are Their Beliefs?
Most of all Assamese are Hindus. However, because of the various belief systems that have been integrated into their culture, their Hindu practices are often unorthodox. This particular people group practices Sikhism. Some of the Assamese have combined animism (the belief that non-living objects have spirits) with Hinduism. Others eat meat, which is strictly forbidden in Hinduism. They may also refuse to worship elephants, as is customary among Hindus. Nevertheless, many of the well-educated (those belonging to the upper class of the Hindu "caste system") are devout, orthodox Hindus. They observe every ritual without compromise, such as bathing before each meal and eating rice from brass dishes. They also typically name their children after Hindu gods and heroes. For the most part, almost every aspect of daily life reflects Hinduism. Eating, finding a mate, planting in the fields, and celebrating festivals are all done according to Hindu custom. They worship millions of gods, some of which are animals. They also trust in astrology to determine their fates. Practices such as meditation are often used to "open their minds."
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies focusing on the Assamese.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work begun in the hearts of the Assamese believers through adequate discipleship.
* Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Assamese.
* Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in the Asami language.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will create a hunger in the hearts of the Assamese to know the one true God.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Assamese by the year 2000.