Introduction / History
The Balai or Balahi live in the central states of India. "Balai" means weaver in Hindi. Their traditional occupations were that of landless farm laborers, weavers and village watchmen. Currently Balai are grow cotton and other crops.
What Are Their Lives Like?
In India the primary language of the Balai is Hindi. They also speak other regional languages such as Dhundari, Nimadi, Mewari and Malvi. The large majority of Balai live in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Many also live in the Capital Territory of Delhi. There is a small group of them further west in Pakistan who speak Sindhi.
Most Balai people are very poor. Although they can eat meat except for beef and pork, they seldom can afford it. Their diet consists of rice, grains and whatever roots and vegetables they can obtain.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Balai do not marry members of their families such as cousins. Instead, they marry within their gotra or clan and community. Brahmin priests perform the weddings. Adult marriage is the general practice. Brides go to live with the groom's family. Sons inherit family property.
Women often work as domestic servants to supplement family income. Some Balai have risen in Indian society to careers as masons, carpenters and business owners. Unfortunately, many Balai are still illiterate.
Almost all Balai are Hindus. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Balai give special service and attention to Durga, the mother-warrior goddess. They visit her temples and travel to her shrines. Balai celebrate the traditional Hindu holidays such a Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the festival of the beginning of spring. Unlike most Hindus they bury their dead.
What Are Their Needs?
The Balai need to hear the life-changing gospel of Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see that true spiritual wealth is found only in Jesus. They need help in becoming literate so they can read the Bible in Hindi and raise their position in Indian society.
Pray that the small group of Balai Christians would be built up and trained to share the gospel with their brothers and sisters.
Pray the Lord sends gospel workers to live among the Balai and demonstrate the love and care of our Father and Savior.
Pray that God is honored by the planting of many Bible-believing churches in the Balai community.
Scripture Prayers for the Balai (Hindu traditions) in Pakistan.