Rajbansi (Hindu traditions) in Nepal


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Rajbansi are one of many different ethnic groups who live in the small, mountainous country of Nepal. Their almost forgotten, rugged land lies sheltered at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, sandwiched between India to the south and Tibet to the north. Most live in India and the eastern section of the Jhapa District and in the adjoining Morang District of Nepal.

The Rajbansi are a dark-skinned people of medium height who have been described as tough. Their language is also called Rajbansi and is similar to that of the Bengali of West Bengal. Many of the younger generation are bilingual in Nepali, Nepal's official language, but older Rajbansi only speak their native language.

The Rajbansi migrated to Nepal approximately 300 years ago, and although their origins are unclear, they may be related to the Koche of India. One legend says they are the descendents of the children of a Bengali man and an Arakan woman. Other legends declare them to be an ancient people descended from the Dravidian race who lived in southern India.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Rajbansi are farmers who survive on the produce of their own labor. Although they raise some livestock, they do not seem to consider the animals as a primary source of income. Instead, animal products are used as items to sell to purchase necessities that they can't make or grow themselves. A shortage of suitable arable land, overpopulation, and poor farming methods all contribute to a subsistence level of food production. They are excellent weavers, and some have begun to earn money by their weaving. Others work for the government or find employment in the private sector. As a whole, they live impoverished lives. The Rajbansi are hesitant to change their lifestyle, and they struggle in their adaptation to different types of work.

Houses made of wood, bamboo, thatch, and mud are clustered in villages ranging from ten to one hundred buildings. As in all patriarchal societies, the father is the undisputed head of the household. Most homes are composed of a basic family unit (parents and their children) until the oldest son marries. He and his wife then live with his parents until the second son marries. When the family head dies, all authority and responsibilities are transferred to the eldest son. Most marriages are arranged, and weddings are conducted according to traditional Hindu rites and rituals.

The Rajbansi dress very simply. Men wear knee length dhotis and langautis (loincloths), and women wear paetanis (pieces of cloth wrapped around their bodies that provide a covering down to their knees). Western style clothing is slowly becoming more common.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The Rajbansi are Hindus who worship millions of gods and goddesses. Every village has a separate hut dedicated to the worship of the creation goddess, Kali. Festivals are called Pawni. Though they celebrate the Hindu festivals of Dasai and Tihar, the Rajbansi do not observe them the same way Hindus do in India.


What Are Their Needs?

Christians were not officially allowed to live in Nepal before 1960. Although since that time religious freedom has increased, it is still very limited. The government is fiercely opposed to any form of evangelism and has implemented severe restrictions. During the 1990s, a number of Christians were arrested, imprisoned, and even killed for preaching the Gospel. This repressive conduct is being influenced by militant Hindus in India. Their goal is to drive out all Christians from the country. Much prayer is needed for full religious freedom to be both guaranteed in the constitution and upheld by the authorities.

The Jesus Film is available, and Christian audio recordings are useful evangelistic tools.

The Rajbansi have had limited chances of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their isolation also makes it difficult for outsiders to reach them. In addition, people like the Rajbansi who practice pantheism (the worship of many gods) find it very difficult to lay aside such beliefs and put all of their faith in one God.


Prayer Points

* Pray that God will strengthen and protect the small number of believers among the Rajbansi in Nepal.
* Pray that God would bless plans to begin church planting among the Rajbansi.
* Pray that God will touch the hearts of Nepal's government leaders so the restrictive anti-evangelism laws will be lifted.


Prayer / Resource Links:
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-09-07
People Name General Rajbansi (Hindu traditions)
People Name in Country Rajbansi (Hindu traditions)
Population in Nepal 112,000
World Population 6,912,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous Yes
Unreached No
Progress Scale 2
GSEC 2  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Alternate Names Bahey, Desi, Kocch, Koch, Konch, Paliya, Raghubansi, Rajbanshi, Rajbansim, Tajpuri, राजबांसी
People ID 14513
ROP3 Code 108268
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Bengali
People Group Rajbansi (Hindu traditions)
Ethnic Code CNN25b
Total Subgroups on file 4
Largest Subgroups
Rajbansi
3,800
Pali
1,900
Bhanga Kshatriya
1,800
Deshi
500
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Bengali
People Group Rajbansi (Hindu traditions)
Ethnic Code CNN25b
Total Subgroups 4
  Rajbansi 3,800
  Pali 1,900
  Bhanga Kshatriya 1,800
  Deshi 500
Country Nepal
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 25  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 12
Largest States
Mechi
72,000
Kosi
38,000
Bagmati
1,100
Bheri
600
Seti
200
Narayani
200
Sagarmatha
100
Lumbini
100
Janakpur
100
Gandaki
40
Rapti
30
Mahakali
30
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country Nepal
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 25  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 12
  Mechi 72,000
  Kosi 38,000
  Bagmati 1,100
  Bheri 600
  Seti 200
  Narayani 200
  Sagarmatha 100
  Lumbini 100
  Janakpur 100
  Gandaki 40
  Rapti 30
  Mahakali 30
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Rangpuri (1,400 speakers)
Language Code rkt   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
Maithili
2,200
Bengali
300
Nepali
100
Assamese
100
Santhali
20
Koch
20
Other People Groups Speaking Rangpuri
Primary Language Rangpuri (1,400 speakers)
Language Code rkt   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
  Maithili 2,200
  Bengali 300
  Nepali 100
  Assamese 100
  Santhali 20
  Koch 20
People Groups Speaking Rangpuri

Primary Language:  Rangpuri

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2008–2011)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon National Bible Societies
Forum of Bible Agencies World Bible Finder
Gospel Go World Bibles
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Rangpuri
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible (Bibles India)
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
5.40 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
91.20 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
2.01 %
Unknown
1.39 %
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2018  International Mission Board-SBC  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center / GAAPNet 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
* Religion Values From latest Nepal census data.  Current values may differ.


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