Bhumij in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Munda-Santal of northeastern India and Nepal are comprised of nine different, but very closely related people groups. They are distributed politically throughout the states of Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa, India. Most of the tribes live in the hilly areas of the Chotanagpur Plateau, located in southern Bihar. Others prefer living in the plains. Beyond this region, they have spread widely throughout India as agricultural and industrial laborers.

The seven groups who occupy territory farther north include the Santal (of India and Nepal), the Bhumij, the Koda, the Mahili, the Ho, and the Agariya. The two remaining groups, the Juango and the Gadaba, are located in the southern portion of India, nearer to the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The native language of the Munda-Santal, called Munda, belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family.

Tribal culture among the Munda-Santal is quickly changing under the impact of external influences such as industrialization, new communication links, tribal welfare schemes, and community development projects.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Traditions regarding the origin of the Munda-Santal tribes are uncertain; but originally, the forested area of Chotanagpur was ruled by chiefs of various native tribes. Gradually, British authority was established in the plains.

There are records of a Munda revolt in 1831-1832 and a Santal rebellion of 1855-1858. Of the nine Munda-Santal groups, only the Bhumij have been rulers. For this reason, they claim a higher social status than the others.

Most of the Munda-Santal population depends on farming for survival. Some rural families depend on village or cottage industries such as weaving. They supplement their meager agricultural earnings with hunting and gathering.

Today, the government is trying to preserve forests, so cultivation shifting is limited. There is also an increase in the amount of irrigated land. As a result, other sources of income have been developed. They include such jobs as working in the tea plantations of the Northeast, working in the steel industry, or working as day laborers for local Hindu landowners. Since the Chotanagpur Plateau is the richest mineral belt in India, some of the Munda-Santal earn wages by mining. Both men and women work to bring home adequate income for their families.

Although very few of the tribes live by trade, some have traditional artisan or specialist occupations. Two such groups are the Koda, who are ditch diggers, and the Gadaba, who are known for their wall-paintings. Generally, though, Hindu artisans supply most of the tribes' needs.

The weekly market plays an important part in the economy of these tribes. For example, some Mahili sell their bamboo basketry in local markets.

Munda-Santal settlements are usually located in river valleys; deforested, eroded areas; and mineral and industrial belts. The majority of the people live in clustered villages or villages with one street.

The Munda-Santal are divided into clans which recognize a common ancestor. The clans often marry those who are from other tribes; however, there are smaller sub-tribes who are permitted to marry only those within their group. There is also a bachelor's dormitory, dhumkuria, in all Munda-Santal groups except the Juango.

The Munda-Santal have a rich artistic heritage, especially in music and dance. Most tribal villages have a dance floor where worship is offered by a village priest. Though the villages are run by "headmen," the panchayat (religious scholar or monk) is consulted concerning the most important matters. Most conflicts within the tribes concern land rights or marriage.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The Munda-Santal tribes tend to preserve their own beliefs, values, and separate identity. In all of the groups, most are Hindus, while the others practice ethnic religions.

In Don Richardson's "Eternity In Their Hearts," we learn about their ancient God called Thakur Jiu, or "Genuine God." They thought that He had forgotten them because they had turned away from Him in fear of the Maran Buru, or "spirits of the great mountains." Their ancestors had made an oath with the Maran Buru when migrating to their present lands. They began to practice spirit appeasement, sorcery, and sun worship.

Today, their supreme god is the sun god. However, they have also adopted the Hindu deities in addition to tribal gods and goddesses. The Hindu village priest is the ritual specialist, and they observe many Hindu festivals. They do have a firm belief in an almighty creator and also in "mother earth."


What Are Their Needs?

In places where the Gospel is being preached to the Munda-Santal, the listeners almost immediately receive after the village council talks it over. These precious tribes are ripe unto harvest; they simply need people to show them the way to the true God!


Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and Nepal and share Christ with these tribes.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts towards the Gospel.
* Ask God to call out prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to encourage and protect the small number of Hindus who have converted to Christianity.
* Pray that God will complete the work begun in the hearts of these believers through adequate discipleship.
* Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant Church among each of the Munda-Santal tribes for the glory of His name!


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Prayer / Resource Links:
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-10-26
People Name General Bhumij
People Name in Country Bhumij
Population in India 1,128,000
World Population 1,157,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Unreached Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 22
Progress Scale 1
GSEC 2  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Alternate Names Bhumij Desua, Bhumija, Bhumjia, Chai Bin, Desua Bhumij, Kisan-Bhumij, भूमीज़
People ID 16447
ROP3 Code 111603
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Bengali
People Group Bhumij
Ethnic Code CNN25l
Total Subgroups on file 26
Largest Subgroups
(only 15 largest shown)
Sikharia
29,000
Manki
28,000
Barabhumia
15,000
Desi
15,000
Shelo
15,000
Tamaria
15,000
Athais
14,000
Barabhuiya
14,000
Chatoathasa
14,000
Deshva
14,000
Haldi Pukuria
14,000
Tamadia
14,000
Thatva
14,000
Borabhui
13,000
Chaibasa
13,000
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Bengali
People Group Bhumij
Ethnic Code CNN25l
Total Subgroups 26 (only 15 largest shown)
  Sikharia 29,000
  Manki 28,000
  Barabhumia 15,000
  Desi 15,000
  Shelo 15,000
  Tamaria 15,000
  Athais 14,000
  Barabhuiya 14,000
  Chatoathasa 14,000
  Deshva 14,000
  Haldi Pukuria 14,000
  Tamadia 14,000
  Thatva 14,000
  Borabhui 13,000
  Chaibasa 13,000
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 16
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
West Bengal
378,000
Odisha
288,000
Assam
228,000
Jharkhand
211,000
Tripura
13,000
Bihar
5,200
Arunachal Pradesh
1,900
Andaman and Nicobar
1,500
Delhi
500
Manipur
200
Maharashtra
100
Meghalaya
100
Chhattisgarh
60
Madhya Pradesh
40
Andhra Pradesh
10
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 16
  West Bengal 378,000
  Odisha 288,000
  Assam 228,000
  Jharkhand 211,000
  Tripura 13,000
  Bihar 5,200
  Arunachal Pradesh 1,900
  Andaman and Nicobar 1,500
  Delhi 500
  Manipur 200
  Maharashtra 100
  Meghalaya 100
  Chhattisgarh 60
  Madhya Pradesh 40
  Andhra Pradesh 10
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Bengali (534,000 speakers)
Language Code ben   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 45
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Assamese
176,000
Odia
174,000
Mundari
147,000
Hindi
35,000
Ho
29,000
Santhali
23,000
Munda
16,000
Kuvi
1,700
Bhojpuri
700
Bhunjia
600
Kok Borok
300
Maithili
300
Kurux
200
Telugu
200
Tamil
100
Other People Groups Speaking Bengali
Primary Language Bengali (534,000 speakers)
Language Code ben   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 45
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Assamese 176,000
  Odia 174,000
  Mundari 147,000
  Hindi 35,000
  Ho 29,000
  Santhali 23,000
  Munda 16,000
  Kuvi 1,700
  Bhojpuri 700
  Bhunjia 600
  Kok Borok 300
  Maithili 300
  Kurux 200
  Telugu 200
  Tamil 100
People Groups Speaking Bengali

Primary Language:  Bengali

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1800-1980)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1801-1984)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1809-2000)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
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 Online New Testament - Bangla Version (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament - Mussolmani Version (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament- Common Version (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories in Bengali
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Following Jesus (India, JF Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video I Am Guilty (Indigitube.tv)
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Bengali
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Rivka (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Burning Heart (Indigitube.tv)
Film / Video The Prophets Story (Indigitube.tv)
General Bible Visuals
General Four Spiritual Laws
General God's Simple Plan
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.01 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
1.13 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
94.27 %
Islam
0.11 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.03 %
Unknown
4.46 %
Photo Source Bethany World Prayer Center 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
* Religion Values From latest India census data.  Current values may differ.


Copyright © 2018 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.