Introduction / History
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.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Churahi Pahari are one of the many Hindu people groups of India. They are primarily located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. This is a rugged mountain region in which roads are merely mule tracks or footpaths winding around the outer slopes of the Himalayas.
The Churahi are a hardworking and often isolated people. Many of their villages are snowbound for up to four months a year, and the people must live on what they have stored away.
Most of the Churahi Pahari are meager, honest farmers. They cultivate terraces on hillsides which produce only sparse 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 Churahi 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.
During religious festivals or village fairs, the women like to wear brightly colored clothes, heavy silver nose rings and earrings, and colorful head scarves.
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 care for the younger children, haul water, and carry food for the animals. Boys tend the animals, help in the fields, or carry milk to the market. Many children walk up to five or six miles a day to school.
The vast majority of the Churahi Pahari are Hindus, and nearly all of the others practice ethnic religions. Those who are Hindus are generally not as strict in their observance of religious laws as other Hindus.
It is said that the Hindus worship more than 300 million gods. Though other supernatural beings are also worshipped, the gods and goddesses are considered as the most powerful. They live in fear of these gods, and regularly try to appease them with offerings. Both village gods and household gods are worshipped. These include ancestral spirits, ghosts, demons, spirits, and fairies. The Churahi also recognize the five Pandava brothers (heroic warriors of a Hindu epic) as deities, although other Hindus do not.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Churahi Pahari.
* Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to give the Churahi 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.
Bethany World Prayer Center