Introduction / History
The Beda Budiga Jangam entertain with their oral storytelling technique and beg money for their living. Usually, a band of two to three people join to perform this art form. They narrate Hindu mythological stories.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Begging money in costumes by daylight is called 'Pagati Veshalu'. Artists portray different characters by donning a costume and assuming another's role. In the evening, they perform dramas in colorful dress either in village panchayats or community halls.
Their job also includes performing dances, telling poems, singing songs and solo performances. By using all these means they propagate patriotic ideas of their nation.
Tambura is a musical string instrument with a hollow shell which is made up of either dried pumpkin or of wood and bronze. It is usually carried on the shoulders. They also wear anklets and metal rings on their hands. Ghumot is a drum made of an earthen pot with animal's skin as a drum membrane. A coat on their upper body and a turban on their heads is their style of dress.
Before they begin to tell a story, music is played on tambura and at the perfect timing, the story begins. Jokes are also a part of their act. In the middle of the story they perform comedy, mostly from the elements within the story. All the way through, they rhythmically play the instruments to add more beauty to their performance.
Their survival depends on the generosity of their audience. They go around to beg money from village to village and even in small towns. They live in poor tents made of date palm leaves. They barely earn to have proper clothing and good food. They live like outcastes in society and have no interest in education.
They believe in gods - Shiva, Shakthi and Panchacharyas. Peddagusai is one of their deities to which they offer pigs as a seasonal sacrifice. They do have a special language but without script. They strictly adhere to the practices and principles of their community. The community elders are the ultimate authority and their words are law.
Budega Jangam which is also called 'Balasantha' community in the village of Tharigoppula in Narmetta Mandal in Warangal of Telangana State, India was reached with the gospel in the 1980s through missionary efforts, particularly through a holistic adult literacy program.
Five young men named Matthew, Mark Luke, Yohan and Elisha who benefitted from literacy opened their spiritual eyes and received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. This brought a great holistic change in their lives and also impacted the whole community of 30 families who were the generation of one man, Balaiah. As a result of it 150 people came to Christ and began a church in their community. Yohan, a neo-literate, who at a later stage acquired the skills of literacy, became the first pastor of the church. The holistic transformation impacted them so radically that their lifestyle itself changed greatly with a living relationship with Christ.
After experiencing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, they have given up alcohol consumption, which was one of the daunting life habits. Even their relationships have improved drastically, living in harmony with peace and joy. Even their mode of survival has been changed. Instead of begging they have adopted various dignified ways of earning money. They don't have to depend solely on Burra Katha, street dramas, dancing, and singing now. They have begun to live by selling, making plastic, steel and other domestic utensils. Some have learned the skills of repairing gas stoves and are earning a good income for their survival. Many of them became farmers and owned fields. Some of them have become politicians and money lenders too.
They have decent houses with two and three bedrooms.They own not just bicycles but motorbikes, cars, tractors and harvesting machines.
Today here are 105 families in the same village worshipping in two churches. Once they thought of education as unimportant but today, they are ignited by the essential need of it in the current scenario. So, they are now sending their children to schools to acquire education and some of them are now graduates.
In Madikonda, the gospel was first preached to this group by Markandaiah an evangelist in 1993. He established a church at Manikonda where about 500 believers gather to worship the Lord today. The response was so encouraging that he began to minister to this community in different locations such as Warangal, Jangaon, and about twenty-five other villages and towns in the Telangana state. Today, 5,000 people came to Christ and are worshipping Him. Solomon is one of the beneficiaries of his ministry efforts. He is ministering among the Budega Jangala in Atmakur. He has planted four churches in Atmakur, Aleru, Koratikala and Ambala-Anantharam villages. More than 500 believers were baptized and are worshipping in a church in Athmakur. While in other places there are 50 to 200 baptized believers. Some of them are serving the Lord faithfully in their own community.
* Scripture Prayers for the Budaga Jangam in India.