Tharu in India


Population
454,000
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Tharu people live in the Tarai, a narrow strip of land which extends across 550 miles of the southern border of Nepal, next to northeast India. The land is forested and fertile. The Tharu people are divided into several subgroups; the Rana Tharu live in the southwestern corner of Nepal. Ethnically, their background is Rajput, members of a high caste in Rajasthan. Legend has it that after the Moguls invaded India in the 16th century, a Mogul king wanted to marry one of their women. The women and children fled east and settled in this forested region while their men stayed behind to fight the Moguls. When the women heard that all their men had been killed, they married the slaves who had attended them in their travels, and settled permanently in their new home. The forests of the Tarai are full of tigers and snakes and malarial swamps. The swamps kept outsiders away, and the Rana Tharu developed resistance to the malaria. Over the next four centuries their own unique culture and language emerged.


What Are Their Lives Like?

The Rana Tharu have lived quiet, simple lives for four centuries. They are a gentle people. They live in villages in houses plastered inside and out with mud and cow dung, so fine it feels like silky skin. They make almost everything they use themselves, with a touch of art in everything. Their walls are decorated with relief plaster sculpture and windows in geometric patterns. Their houses are large and communal; a family group lives together, and the women cook together, care jointly for their children and pass on their culture and traditions to the next generation. Their clothes are colorful and beautifully embroidered; they buy scraps of left-over fabric from the fabric merchant and each woman puts her own dress together in a unique and gorgeous fashion. They wear beautiful jewelry. They make their own clay pots cook stoves, woven baskets and fishing nets that look like butterfly wings. Rice is their staple crop; they also grow corn. The men plow, plant and weave the nets that the women use to fish. They also hunt in the forest that is the backdrop to their neat fields and villages. The women plaster their houses and make the pots and baskets.


What Are Their Beliefs?

They have their own gods and follow a Bharra (shaman). Their religion is animist. Besides the Bharra, who treats their diseases, the village headman, bhalamansa, and the Desi-Mahajan - an Indian moneylender, are important people within the village.


What Are Their Needs?

Foreigners brought DDT in the 1950s and sprayed the swamps to get rid of the mosquitoes. Ironically, with the malarial pests gone, the culture has come under increasing pressure from the outside. Unscrupulous moneylenders have been able to get control of their land because of their illiteracy, and now many have to pay rent for land that they once owned. People from the hill country to the north are moving in and cutting down the protective forests. The large animals, the tigers and elephants, are becoming increasingly scarce. There is increasing pressure to speak Nepali instead of Rana Tharu, and many of the children and men are wearing more western dress. Even their houses are beginning to change, and brick houses are starting to be built. They are becoming more aware of outside issues and fireside chat in the evenings is becoming more outward focused, reflecting these changes. Their traditional houses have no doors, but the new ones do. This is symbolic of the whole pressure to change coming to bear on these people. New schools are coming to the villages, but the classes are taught in Nepali rather than Rana Tharu, and the parents are afraid their children will lose their language and culture. Similarly, more and more people are adopting the Hindu religion rather than their native animist beliefs.


Prayer Points

* Pray for missionaries who know or are willing to learn their language to come to these people with the gospel.
* Pray for their rich culture to be preserved.
* Pray for good medical care.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Tharu
People Name in Country Tharu
Population in India 454,000
World Population 2,119,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Unreached Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 9
Progress Scale 1
GSEC 3  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Alternate Names Kathoriya, Kathoriya Tharu, Mahatos, Mahatu, Tharu Rana, थारू
People ID 15464
ROP3 Code 110011
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Hindi
People Group Tharu
Ethnic Code CNN25k
Total Subgroups on file 9
Largest Subgroups
Dangue
13,000
Khatheria
13,000
Bantar
7,000
Chitwania
7,000
Garhwalia
7,000
Khawas
7,000
Lampochwa
7,000
Mahawat
7,000
Rautar
7,000
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Hindi
People Group Tharu
Ethnic Code CNN25k
Total Subgroups 9
  Dangue 13,000
  Khatheria 13,000
  Bantar 7,000
  Chitwania 7,000
  Garhwalia 7,000
  Khawas 7,000
  Lampochwa 7,000
  Mahawat 7,000
  Rautar 7,000
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 21
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
Bihar
160,000
Uttar Pradesh
109,000
Uttarakhand
91,000
Assam
50,000
West Bengal
25,000
Sikkim
15,000
Arunachal Pradesh
900
Manipur
600
Meghalaya
600
Maharashtra
400
Madhya Pradesh
300
Himachal Pradesh
200
Jharkhand
100
Punjab
50
Telangana
40
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 21  (only 20 largest shown)
  Bihar 160,000
  Uttar Pradesh 109,000
  Uttarakhand 91,000
  Assam 50,000
  West Bengal 25,000
  Sikkim 15,000
  Arunachal Pradesh 900
  Manipur 600
  Meghalaya 600
  Maharashtra 400
  Madhya Pradesh 300
  Himachal Pradesh 200
  Jharkhand 100
  Punjab 50
  Telangana 40
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya (119,000 speakers)
Language Code thq   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 21
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Nepali
81,000
Hindi
81,000
Tharu, Kathariya
70,000
Kumaoni
50,000
Bhojpuri
18,000
Tharu, Rana
9,200
Kanauji
8,000
Buksa
6,300
Maithili
4,800
Bengali
2,100
Odia
1,000
Kannada
200
Awadhi
100
Garhwali
100
Punjabi, Eastern
70
Other People Groups Speaking Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya
Primary Language Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya (119,000 speakers)
Language Code thq   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 21
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Nepali 81,000
  Hindi 81,000
  Tharu, Kathariya 70,000
  Kumaoni 50,000
  Bhojpuri 18,000
  Tharu, Rana 9,200
  Kanauji 8,000
  Buksa 6,300
  Maithili 4,800
  Bengali 2,100
  Odia 1,000
  Kannada 200
  Awadhi 100
  Garhwali 100
  Punjabi, Eastern 70
People Groups Speaking Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya

Primary Language:  Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions No
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Tharu, Madhya-Purbiya
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.56 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
1.47 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
97.40 %
Islam
0.23 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.06 %
Unknown
0.27 %
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source Omid / Joshua Project / Global Mapping Intl  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
* Religion Values From latest India census data.  Current values may differ.




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