Introduction / History
The Muslim Bhangi, a Scheduled Tribal Caste in India, are traditionally associated with scavenging, sweeping, basket-making and cleaning latrines. They are among the lowest caste of Dalits or Untouchables in India. In the colonial period they were brought into urban areas to perform roles that other castes would not do. They take care of dead animals and human corpses. In addition, they also prepare bamboo articles and work as drumbeaters.
Where Are they Located?
Only a few of the Bhangi living in cities are educated. Most Bhangi in South Asia are Hindu, but a sizable subgroup is Muslim, living in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Most of the Bhangi are illiterate so the gospel must be presented to them in oral or visual form.
Urdu is the main language of the Muslim Bhangi.
Most Bhangi of India live in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Other smaller groups live throughout India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
How many people would clean out clogged sewer pipes for a living? That is what the Bhangi do. Because of their distasteful jobs, they are excluded from many parts of Indian and Muslim society. Many of their children do not attend school because of the roles their group performs. Not being able to read or write perpetuates the tragic condition of Bhangi lives. They are endogamous meaning that they marry within their own group. Few if any Indian Muslims would want their son or daughter to marry into a Bhangi family.
What Are Their Beliefs?
As Muslims, the Bhangi do not eat pork. Meat is reserved for holidays. Their main foods are rice, wheat and vegetables.
Bhangi caste councils do try to promote their interests and settle legal disputes among them.
The Bhangi are Sunni Muslims. Although they are sometimes denied entrance to mosque services, they continue to cling to Islam. Islam is a major world religion that is based on five essential duties or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day one must pray while facing Mecca. (3) One must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) One must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) One must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited to drink alcohol, eat pork, gamble, steal, use deceit, slander, and make idols.
What Are Their Needs?
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
The Muslim Bhangi people like all Dalit groups have tremendous needs. Most of all they need to hear the life-changing message about Isa or Jesus. The Bhangi need help in educating their children so that the cycle of poverty may be broken. They need to learn new job skills so they can make enough money to support their families. Rural Bhangi need access to clean water, electricity and modern medicine.
* Pray that God sends workers to the Bhangi to tell them about Jesus and the new life in Him.
* Pray that the Lord moves the Bhangi away from Islam and into the arms of Jesus.
* Pray for Bhangi families and communities to discover and embrace the free gift of life found by trusting Christ and his finished work.
* Pray that the Bhangi receive gospel materials in oral form so they can learn about their Savior.