Banjara (Hindu traditions) in India

The Banjara (Hindu traditions) have only been reported in India
Population
6,226,000
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

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. Only 12% of men and 3.6% of women can read. 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 6,226,000
World Population 6,226,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Unreached Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 124
Progress Scale 1
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, Manu Banjara, Mathura, Naik, Navi Banjara, Sirkiband, Soopdasi, Sukali, Vanjara, Vanjari, Wanjara, Wanjari, बंजारा (हिंदू ट्रेडिशन्स)
People ID 16315
ROP3 Code 111445
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 15  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 28
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
Telangana
(2,233,000)
Karnataka
(1,176,000)
Maharashtra
(1,025,000)
Madhya Pradesh
(479,000)
Andhra Pradesh
(408,000)
Rajasthan
(347,000)
Uttar Pradesh
(181,000)
West Bengal
(89,000)
Tamil Nadu
(74,000)
Chhattisgarh
(70,000)
Gujarat
(44,000)
Uttarakhand
(28,000)
Delhi
(23,000)
Odisha
(22,000)
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 15  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 28  (only 20 largest shown)
  Telangana (2,233,000)
  Karnataka (1,176,000)
  Maharashtra (1,025,000)
  Madhya Pradesh (479,000)
  Andhra Pradesh (408,000)
  Rajasthan (347,000)
  Uttar Pradesh (181,000)
  West Bengal (89,000)
  Tamil Nadu (74,000)
  Chhattisgarh (70,000)
  Gujarat (44,000)
  Uttarakhand (28,000)
  Delhi (23,000)
  Odisha (22,000)
  Himachal Pradesh (11,000)
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Lambadi (2,802,000 speakers)
Language Code lmn   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 59
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Hindi
(2,249,000)
Telugu
(581,000)
Kannada
(188,000)
Marathi
(93,000)
Marwari
(60,000)
Bengali
(35,000)
Dhundari
(34,000)
Chhattisgarhi
(29,000)
Bagri
(28,000)
Gujarati
(23,000)
Mewari
(12,000)
Merwari
(11,000)
Odia
(11,000)
Malvi
(11,000)
Shekhawati
(9,800)
People Groups Speaking Lambadi
Primary Language Lambadi (2,802,000 speakers)
Language Code lmn   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 59
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Hindi (2,249,000)
  Telugu (581,000)
  Kannada (188,000)
  Marathi (93,000)
  Marwari (60,000)
  Bengali (35,000)
  Dhundari (34,000)
  Chhattisgarhi (29,000)
  Bagri (28,000)
  Gujarati (23,000)
  Mewari (12,000)
  Merwari (11,000)
  Odia (11,000)
  Malvi (11,000)
  Shekhawati (9,800)
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
0.01 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
2.93 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
96.95 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.02 %
Unknown
0.09 %
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2017  Matt Brandon  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Omid / Joshua Project / Global Mapping Intl  
Profile Source GAAPNet: Updated original Bethany people profile 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
Religion Values * From India census data.  Current values may differ.


Copyright © 2017 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.