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Introduction / History
The classification of the Kinnaura is complicated. Although the Indian government has granted them status as a scheduled tribe, there appear to be at least several different language and people groups within this group called Kinnaura. The Ethnologue, which attempts to list every language in the world, has several listings.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Kinnaura people inhabit extremely high-altitude locations in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Kinnaura are the largest ethnic group in the district that gives them their name—Kinnaur District. The Kinnaura inhabit villages between 5,000 and 6,770 metres (16,400 to 22,200 ft.) above sea level, in an area described as having "mountainous topography, cold climate, dense forests, low rainfall and heavy snowfall." The Kinnaura people comprise approximately 70 per cent of the total population in the Kinnaur District. Small pockets of Kinnaura also reportedly live in the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kanaura people make their living through agriculture, growing grain and raising livestock. It is difficult to do this at such a high elevation.
What Are Their Beliefs?
From a religious standpoint, the Kinnaura are an extremely interesting group. Their territory forms the border between the Buddhist and Hindu worlds, and accordingly the Kinnaura's religious belief is a fusion of the two. They acknowledge their strong links to Hinduism by claiming that they originated in the shadow of Lord Brahma. Another legend says that "they have sprung from the toe of Brahma along with the Yakshas." Hinduism has gained in popularity in the Kinnaur District in the past few generations, as thousands of Hindus have migrated into north Himachal Pradesh. Previously, Tibetan Buddhism held sway in these remote Himalayan regions. One source notes, 'Kinnaur is a place of curious coexistence of Hinduism and Mahayanist Buddhism. People embracing Buddhism belong to the Nyingmapa, Dukpa, Kargyutpa, and Gelukpa sects. On entering a Buddhist village, one finds a tomb and chorten in various [parts] of the village and also in individual houses, which are meant to ward off evil spirits." Many Kinnaura people do not see a conflict in their mixture of faith. If asked whether or not they believe in Hinduism they reply yes, and if asked if they follow Buddhism they also reply yes. Many celebrate both Buddhist and Hindu festivals. The Kinnaura also believe and practice animistic rituals in a bid to ward off evil spirits.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kanaura people need to put their hope in the King of kings, realizing that he is the one who gives them worth and dignity.
Pray for loving workers to take the gospel message to the Kanaura community.
Pray the Lord will prepare the hearts of the Kanaura to understand and to believe the gospel.
Pray for the Lord to bless the Kanaura people with adequate education and medical facilities.
Pray for the Lord to bless the Kanaura people so abundantly that they will see he is the only one worthy of praise and worship.
Scripture Prayers for the Kanaura in India.
Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission