Banjara (Hindu traditions) in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Subgroups: 54 (10 largest shown)  Show all

Subgroup Name Population
Naik 471,000
Chauhan 35,000
Mathura 32,000
Sanar 23,000
Labana 19,000
Mukeri 16,000
Bhanjra 14,000
Panwar 14,000
Bahrupi 9,100
Bhutia Khola 5,900

Introduction / History

The Hindu Banjara, who are known by 53 different names, primarily speak Lambadi or Lamani (53%), and Banjara (25%).

They are the largest nomadic group in India and are known as the root Romani of the earth. The Romani began traveling from India to different regions of Europe hundreds of years ago, and differing dialects evolved in the regions in which each group settled. The Banjara's name is derived from the word bajika, which means trade or business, and from banji, meaning peddlers pack. Many consider them descended from Jews who were exiled to Egypt, as they came to India from Egypt and Persia. Some believe they were expelled from their homeland by Muslim invaders. They are now located in over fifty percent of the districts of India.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Indian Romani have olive skin, dark hair, and brown eyes. Although we usually associate these groups with bands of fortune tellers traveling in colorful caravans from place to place, this is no longer the case with the Banjara. Historically they were nomadic and kept cattle, traded salt, and transported goods. Now, most of them have settled down to farming and raising cattle or grain. Others still trade in salt and other commodities. In some regions, a few hold white collar positions or work as government servants. They also sew intricately embroidered colorful clothes with shining discs and beads. They make ornaments and ornate jewelry, which the women also wear.

Not only do the Banjara usually have more than one occupation, they also use additional skills to supplement their incomes, depending on the societies needs at the time. Some specialize in making items such as broomsticks, iron tools, and needles. They may also repair tools or work with stone. Others believe that one does not have to work for a living and gain income by "religious begging." They sing and wear special make-up while begging in the name of a specific deity. The Banjara love music, playing folk instruments, and dancing. The Banjar are also acrobats, magicians, tricksters, story-tellers, and fortune-tellers.

Because they are poor, they eat what they have grown in their gardens along with dairy products. Many live in grass huts, often with extended families. The Banjara families are closely knit, having minimal relationships with other castes. The role of leader of the community is passed down to the leader's son. All biological sons get an equal share from parental property. Marriages may be arranged, especially to avoid the union of relatives to three generations back. In some groups, however, cousins are allowed to marry. Dowries can be as high as 20,000 rupees or almost $450.00. Married women wear ivory armbands.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Banjara are Hindu; some have combined Hindu practices with their own animistic beliefs. Other groups follow Islam; yet others are Sikh. Romani often follow folk beliefs, and mixed with these religious beliefs are many taboos ( things one must never do.) One Hindu taboo is that a woman's hair must not be combed or let down long in the presence of men. Another is that a woman should not pass in front of a man who is sitting, but rather behind him. Even though Romani are unreserved in speech, many have high moral standards. For example, chastity is very important. In the past, some girls who were involved in prostitution were buried alive. Unmarried girls are still discouraged from going into the cities, and they usually wear veils over their hands and feet while sitting with strangers.


What Are Their Needs?

Many Banjara live in poverty. Usually the only clothes a Romani owns are the ones on his back. An unsanitary lifestyle has created many physical needs among them.

Most children do not attend schools because their families are always on the move. The Banjara do not have a written language, so depending on whatever state of India they are in, if they read, it must be in that states' script.


Prayer Points

* Pray that the Banjara, rejected by society, would feel accepted by God.
* Ask God to provide creative ways to evangelize the Banjara, such as the Hosanna music tape with Lambadi songs and the Gospel message.
* Pray for witnessing opportunities to Banjara children.


Prayer / Resource Links:
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-09-19
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-08-09
People Name General Banjara (Hindu traditions)
People Name in Country Banjara (Hindu traditions)
Population in India 6,011,000
World Population 6,011,800
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 120
Alternate Names Bagora, Bajari, Banjara, Banjare, Banjari, Bepari, Bhanja, Bhanjara, Brinjara, Daiya, Dhari, Dhead, Gavara, Gawalia, Gormati, Gour Banjara, Guwaria, Jogi Banjara, Ka, Kanjar, Kongadi, Laban, Labham, Labhan, Laman, Lamani, Lambadi, Lambana, Lambani, Lavan, Lavana, Lavana Banjara, Lavana Banjarara, Lohana, Manu Banjara, Mathura, Naik, Navi Banjara, Sirkiband, Soopdasi, Sukali, Vanjara, Vanjari, Wanjara, Wanjari, बंजारा (हिंदू ट्रेडिशन्स)
People ID 16315
ROP3 Code 111445
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Banjara
People Group Banjara (Hindu traditions)
Ethnic Code CNN25f
Total Subgroups 54 (only 15 largest shown)
  Naik 471,000
  Chauhan 35,000
  Mathura 32,000
  Sanar 23,000
  Labana 19,000
  Mukeri 16,000
  Bhanjra 14,000
  Panwar 14,000
  Bahrupi 9,100
  Bhutia Khola 5,900
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 28
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
Telangana
2,049,000
Karnataka
1,181,000
Maharashtra
1,028,000
Madhya Pradesh
486,000
Andhra Pradesh
361,000
Rajasthan
348,000
Uttar Pradesh
182,000
West Bengal
90,000
Tamil Nadu
74,000
Chhattisgarh
70,000
Gujarat
46,000
Uttarakhand
28,000
Delhi
23,000
Odisha
18,000
Himachal Pradesh
11,000
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 28  (only 20 largest shown)
  Telangana 2,049,000
  Karnataka 1,181,000
  Maharashtra 1,028,000
  Madhya Pradesh 486,000
  Andhra Pradesh 361,000
  Rajasthan 348,000
  Uttar Pradesh 182,000
  West Bengal 90,000
  Tamil Nadu 74,000
  Chhattisgarh 70,000
  Gujarat 46,000
  Uttarakhand 28,000
  Delhi 23,000
  Odisha 18,000
  Himachal Pradesh 11,000
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Lambadi (2,667,000 speakers)
Language Code lmn   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 59
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Hindi
2,151,000
Telugu
609,000
Kannada
189,000
Marathi
94,000
Marwari
60,000
Bengali
35,000
Dhundari
34,000
Chhattisgarhi
29,000
Bagri
28,000
Gujarati
23,000
Mewari
12,000
Malvi
12,000
Merwari
11,000
Shekhawati
9,800
Odia
9,300
Other People Groups Speaking Lambadi
Primary Language Lambadi (2,667,000 speakers)
Language Code lmn   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 59
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Hindi 2,151,000
  Telugu 609,000
  Kannada 189,000
  Marathi 94,000
  Marwari 60,000
  Bengali 35,000
  Dhundari 34,000
  Chhattisgarhi 29,000
  Bagri 28,000
  Gujarati 23,000
  Mewari 12,000
  Malvi 12,000
  Merwari 11,000
  Shekhawati 9,800
  Odia 9,300
People Groups Speaking Lambadi

Primary Language:  Lambadi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1963-1977)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1999)
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 Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Lambadi
Film / Video Transformation (Indigitube.tv)
Text / Printed Matter OneHope resources for children and youth
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.41 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
99.43 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.03 %
Unknown
0.12 %
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2018  Matt Brandon  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center / GAAPNet 
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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