Introduction / History
The Bania Gandha Banik are called the "businessmen of northeast India". Their chief occupation is trade. They were originally sellers of spices, incense and perfume.
Where Are they Located?
Today the Gandha Banik are known for selling almost anything except alcohol. Some of them are informal pharmacists for traditional Indian medicine. When an Indian gets ill, he or she will frequently go to a shop owned by a Gandha Banik for a herbal potion designed to heal the health issue.
Some Gandha Banik are classified in the Vaishya or merchant caste of Hinduism. Others are seen as being in the Shudra or fourth laboring caste.
The primary language of the Gandha Banik is Bengali. Many also speak English and Hindi.
The vast majority of the Gandha Banik live in the Indian state of West Bengal.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The lives of the Gandha Banik vary depending on their income. Some are very wealthy business owners while others run small grocery stores in villages.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Gandha Banik generally marry within their own community. They have an unusual wedding ceremony in which the groom climbs a tree or log and the bride is carried around the tree seven times. The Gandha Banik practice adult marriages arranged by the families of the bride and groom. Their dead are cremated. The Gandha Banik are not vegetarians but as Hindus they will not eat beef.
The Gandha Banik practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They give special attention to Vishnu, the preserver god, and his avatars of Rama and Krishna. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Gandha Banik visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs.
What Are Their Needs?
The main yearly holidays of the Gandha Banik people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.
The Gandha Banik need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see Christianity lived out before them in practical ways. There may be no believers among the Gandha Banik at the present time.
* Pray that God sends laborers to the Gandha Banik to live among them and tell them about Jesus.
* Pray the Lord will start a movement of Gandha Banik families experiencing God's blessings.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Gandha Banik people a love for God's Word and a desire to spread its influence.