Sri Lanka's inhabitants are divided into numerous ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The Javar Malay make up one of the many minority groups in Sri Lanka. They represent a very small percentage of its population. The word "Javar" refers to their roots in the Indonesian island of Java.
In the 1200s, a small number of Buddhist Malay settled in northern Sri Lanka. It was in the early 1700s, the Dutch brought the Malays from the Indonesian island of Java, a Dutch colony, to Sri Lanka. By that time, the Malay people were solidly Muslim. The Dutch proceeded to colonize the majority of the islands of Southern Asia. The Malays served as a defense for the island of Sri Lanka. They were tough fighters, and the Dutch colonialists granted them land after they had victory over their Portuguese rivals. When the British took Sri Lanka from the Dutch as their colony, they organized the Malay Regiment of Sri Lanka, a military force that won the British Queen's colors, a high honor.
As time passed, the Javar Malay intermarried with other inhabitants of the island. Eventually, their distinctive mongoloid features were lost, and their language became a mixture of Tamil and Malay. Most Malays speak Malay Creole (or Java Jati) at home. This hybrid language is slowly dying out. Muslims in Sri Lanka speak Moorish Tamil in the mosques and English in educational settings.
Though the Malay Creoles live spread across the island of Sri Lanka, most are concentrated in major cities such as Colombo (Sri Lanka's capitol), Kandy, and Badulla.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Today the Javar Malay still have their own associations that hold social and cultural events. They have their own cuisine which includes yellow rice, beef sate, and a beef dish marinated in vinegar and infused with spices. Though they are citizens of Sri Lanka, the Javar Malay have always kept a good relationship with Malaysia. Many of them are now employed in the military, police forces, as civil servants, and as plantation owners in Sri Lanka.
What Are Their Beliefs?
While most of Sri Lanka's population is either Buddhist or Hindu, Muslim account for only a small percentage. Practically all Malay Creoles are professing Sunni Muslims. They do not adhere to the strictest form of Islam, however, but have simply incorporated Islamic practices into their own beliefs in spirits and ghosts. Deep-rooted beliefs in Islam and spiritism have caused a tremendous resistance to the gospel.
What Are Their Needs?
The Javar Malay need the chance to put their identity and hope in Jesus Christ, the resurrected Savior who came to give them life to the full.
Pray for spiritual openness to the only Savior, Jesus Christ, among Javar Malay in Sri Lanka.
Pray for Javar Malay leaders to open their community to Christ's ambassadors.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out His workers to this untended harvest field. Pray for God's favor to surround his disciples as a shield.
Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among Javar Malay families.
Joshua Project data is drawn from many sources and of varying accuracy depending on source and editorial decisions. Populations are scaled to the current year. Other data may have varying ages. We welcome updates.
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