Introduction / History
The Chura are one of the poorest peoples and most discriminated against peoples of India. The other castes of India including the Muslims and Sikhs consider them to be Dalits or untouchables. The main occupations of the Churas have been sweeping the streets, cleaning up excrement and disposing of dead animals. They are frequently denied entrance into Hindu temples and Muslim mosques. Less than half of Churas can read and write.
Where Are they Located?
The Churas are a Scheduled people in India. The government provides special places for them in public jobs and education due to the past discrimination. The Churas are now legally referred to as Balmiki.
As Churas move into the cities, their young people now have the opportunity to attend schools and hope to better their position in life. Chura unions have secured better salaries and working conditions.
The large majority of the Churas live in the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. Others live in other north and west regions of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Even with the help of the Indian government, the Churas or Balmiki live very challenging lives. Although the caste system has been officially eliminated, the Churas experience daily discrimination by higher castes particularly in the rural areas. They must live outside of villages in mud huts without electricity and plumbing. Only the lowest jobs are open to the Churas. Basket weaving is a source of income to Chura women. In the cities, Chura men often work in sewers and unclog drains and pipes. In rural areas, they often work as day laborers.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Churas marry within their clan. Families arrange marriages. Girls are often married before they reach puberty. Sons inherit what little property families own.
The Churas are non-vegetarians but can often afford only the simplest foods of rice, millet and seasonal vegetables. Churas must frequently walk long distances for clean water because villagers do not allow them to use the village well.
Alcoholism and opium use is a problem among the Churas.
The Churas seems flexible in their beliefs. Although most consider themselves Hindus, they adopt the religious practices of the villages where they live whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh.
What Are Their Needs?
The Churas often believe in evil spirits and ghosts. They employ shaman, priests and charms to drive them away.
Since the Churas are not allowed into temples and mosques, they build their own shrines and altars out of brick or mud.
The Churas need to hear and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to see themselves as valuable in God's eyes and that His Son dies for them. Young Chura people need education so they can begin to break out of the extreme poverty, which plagues their people.
* Scripture Prayers for the Chuhra in India.
* Pray the Lord would send loving Christian workers to help the Churas in both their spiritual and physical needs.
* Pray the Christian Churas of Pakistan would reach out to share the gospel and disciple their brothers and sisters in India.
* Pray the Lord provides Christian schools and teachers to help educate the Churas.