Introduction / History
The Jaunsari Pahari live primarily in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The term "Pahari" can refer to any mountain dwelling people, but in North India it generally refers to the Indo-European speaking peoples of the Himalayas. The different Paharia groups can be distinguished by region, religion, and caste.
What Are Their Lives Like?
With a culture over 4,000 years old and the world's second largest population, India contains a multitude of closely related people groups. Over thousands of years, these countless groups have migrated into this subcontinent, and many have maintained distinctive cultures. Today, more than 800 languages are spoken in India, and the complex "caste" system has further divided the people into an endless number of social classes.
The Jaunsari caste system has only three categories: landowners, servants (those involved in a service occupation or art), and Brahmins (Hindu priests). One's "assignment" to a caste is determined by birth.
Most of the Jaunsari are farmers. They cultivate terraces on hillsides which produce only meager crops twice a year. Their principal crops are potatoes and rice, and a variety of other vegetables are also grown. Fertilizer is used, as well as a system of plot rotation in which the ground is allowed to lie fallow. Wet rice is grown during the monsoon season, whereas dry rice, maize, millet, and wheat are raised on the drier land during the summer and winter months. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk. The villagers live on a simple diet of milk, lentils, a few vegetables, a little fruit, and occasionally meat.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Jaunsari live in extended families in villages that consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by the farm land. The villages are generally situated near rivers or springs, and the homes are connected by footpaths. Sometimes the paths meet together near a large tree that is used as a meeting place for the villagers as well as a resting place for travelers.
The houses are rectangular in shape with stone and mortar walls. The roofs are made of slate, wood, or thatch. Doors, windows, and door frames are often ornately carved and painted. The houses usually have two or more stories, with the people living on the second floor and the animals roaming freely on the ground floor.
Like most Hindus, the Jaunsari are required to marry within the same caste. Children, whether born to landowners or to servants, are generally treated well. Breast-feeding may continue until a child is two or three years old. There are many rites of passage for children such as the first rice feeding and the first haircut. Also, girls go through puberty rites and boys go through initiations known as "sacred thread ceremonies." When they are about eight years old, the children begin doing domestic chores. Girls help care for the younger children, haul water, and carry food for the animals. Boys usually tend the animals.
Among the landowners, both the men and women share the farming duties. Men use the animals to plow and sow seed, while the women prepare manure for fertilizer, and sift and grind the grain. They also care for the children, cook, keep the house, and tend to the animals, while their husbands are responsible for building the homes, as well as trading goods outside the villages. In families of the lower caste, the men work at a specified occupation.
Virtually all of the Jaunsari are Hindus; however, they are not as strict as most Hindus. They believe in ghosts and demons that haunt the crossroads and rivers, and regularly try to appease them with offerings. The Brahmins (Hindu scholars and priests) perform important domestic rituals and teachings for the people.
What Are Their Needs?
There is a need for gospel materials Jaunsari. Only a few have converted to Christianity.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Jaunsari.
* Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to give the Jaunsari Christians boldness to share the Gospel with their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the people toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of India's governmental leaders to the Gospel.