Introduction / History
The Panchpargania language is spoken by several communities around Ranchi in the state of Jharkhand, almost as a regional language. The area is also known for militant communists, commonly referred to as Naxalites. Any cross-cultural missionaries who desire to work in the area must win the confidence of the villagers, the Naxalites and the officials. They must also be extremely careful to maintain a balance so that they are not branded as siding with one group or the other. Thomas and Vijay's experience while doing language research is typical.
Most Panchpargania speakers live in villages away from towns, where little development of the infrastructure has taken place. Villagers distrust anyone from outside their area. Thomas and Vijay knew they could not stay overnight in any village, but the only transport available was a bus coming into the town in the morning, and returning to the village in the evening. On one occasion they needed to visit a village called Baranda, about 35 kilometres away from the nearest town, and they knew no one there. The only solution was to hire two bicycles and they pedalled to the village early one morning, completed their research, and cycled back to the town by evening. Since the Panchpargania region consists largely of plains, the land is easy to cultivate.
Most people have their own land on which they grow rice, vegetables, sugar cane, millet etc. A few of them work for others as labourers. They also make different types of baskets, trays, rope, carpets made of ropes, mats, brooms, etc.
Panchpargania speakers are mainly Hindus by faith. There are several Catholic and Protestant churches in the region. However, the ministries of these churches are not specifically focused on Panchpargania speakers. Those who have responded to the Gospel from the region originally belonged to lower castes such as Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Though Christians, they still carry the stigma of being low caste and other communities look down on them, with the Christian faith considered to be the religion of outcastes. Several Christian messages are available in Panchpargania in audio format. However, God's Word in Panchpargania is essential for the Christians to understand and practise their faith properly. It will also be a great tool to communicate the Gospel message to others.