Introduction / History
Their name comes from an ancient Sanscrit word, Saumik, which referred to their occupation of making salt. Some were cement makers and lime burners. They originally came from Uttar Pradesh, but most now live in Maharashtra. They speak Marathi and read and write in Devanagari.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Some of the Kunbi Lonari now own land and work in cultivation. They sell vegetables and other food at the market. Some work for the government. They are more likely, however, to still make cement or burn charcoal. Some still prepare salt like their ancestors. Their marriage ceremonies have several stages. Like most Hindu people groups, family elders arrange for marriages. A Brahmin priest picks an auspicious day based on astrological forecasts and a series of rituals involving heaps of rice and a betel nut. Each couple has a chosen deity to protect their marriage. They are endogamous (they prefer to marry within the caste) and have cousin marriages but do not marry others with the same surname. They allow for divorce and remarriage for various reasons including incompatibility, foul temper, adultery, and impotency. The divorced and bereaved can only marry those in a similar position to themselves. For example, a bachelor cannot marry a widow. Sons inherit the property and the dead are usually cremated.
What Are Their Beliefs?
They worship all Hindu gods and participate in all Hindu festivals. They also worship saints and gurus. They also worship certain animals such as the cobra, the horse, and the cow. Some worship banyan trees. When there is an outbreak of cholera or smallpox they worship Mari and Shtala. The cremate the dead but bury those who are small children and those who died of smallpox or leprosy.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kunbi Lonari people need to have the chance to make Jesus Christ their Lord so they can experience His life to the full.
Pray for spiritual hunger that will lead these people to the foot of the cross. Pray for intercessors and workers to bless them with the presence of Christ. Pray that gospel materials and the internet will lead them to begin their own disciple making movement.
Scripture Prayers for the Kunbi Lonari in India.