Bhanjra Banjara in India

The Bhanjra Banjara have only been reported in India
Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Introduction / History

The Hindu Banjara, who are known by 53 different names, primarily speak Lambadi or Lamani and Banjara.

They are the largest nomadic group in India and are known as the root Romani of the earth. The Romani began traveling from India to different regions of Europe hundreds of years ago, and differing dialects evolved in the regions in which each group settled. The Banjara's name is derived from the word bajika, which means trade or business, and from banji, meaning peddlers pack. Many consider them descended from Jews who were exiled to Egypt, as they came to India from Egypt and Persia. Some believe they were expelled from their homeland by Muslim invaders. They are now located in over fifty percent of the districts of India.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Although we usually associate Banjara groups with bands of fortune tellers traveling in colorful caravans from place to place, this is no longer the case. Historically they were nomadic and kept cattle, traded salt, and transported goods. Now, most of them have settled down to farming and raising cattle or grain. Others still trade in salt and other commodities. In some regions, a few hold white collar positions or work as government servants. They also sew intricately embroidered colorful clothes with shining discs and beads. They make ornaments and ornate jewelry, which the women also wear.

Not only do the Bhanjra Banjara usually have more than one occupation, they also use additional skills to supplement their incomes, depending on the societies needs at the time. Some specialize in making items such as broomsticks, iron tools, and needles. They may also repair tools or work with stone. Others believe that one does not have to work for a living and gain income by "religious begging." They sing and wear special make-up while begging in the name of a specific deity. The Bhanjra Banjara love music, playing folk instruments and dancing. The Bhanjra Banjar are also acrobats, magicians, tricksters, story-tellers, and fortune-tellers.

Because they are poor, they eat what they have grown in their gardens along with dairy products. Many live in grass huts, often with extended families. The Banjara families are closely knit, having minimal relationships with other castes. The role of leader of the community is passed down to the leader's son. All biological sons get an equal share from parental property. Marriages may be arranged, especially to avoid the union of relatives to three generations back. In some groups, however, cousins are allowed to marry. Dowries can be high. Married women wear ivory armbands.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Bhanjra Banjara are Hindu; some have combined Hindu practices with their own animistic beliefs. Other groups follow Islam; yet others are Sikh. Romani often follow folk beliefs and mixed with these religious beliefs are many taboos (things one must never do.) One Hindu taboo is that a woman's hair must not be combed or let down long in the presence of men. Another is that a woman should not pass in front of a man who is sitting, but rather behind him. Even though Romani are unreserved in speech, many have high moral standards. For example, chastity is very important. In the past, some girls who were involved in prostitution were buried alive. Unmarried girls are still discouraged from going into the cities, and they usually wear veils over their hands and feet while sitting with strangers.


What Are Their Needs?

Many Banjara live in poverty. Usually the only clothes they own are on their backs. An unsanitary lifestyle has created many physical needs among them.

Most children do not attend schools because their families are always on the move. The Banjara do not have a written language, so depending on whatever state of India they are in, if they read, it must be in that states' script.


Prayer Points

Pray that the Bhanjra Banjara, rejected by society, would find God’s acceptance as a community.

Ask God to provide creative ways to evangelize the Bhanjra Banjara, such as the Hosanna music tape with Lambadi songs and the gospel message.

Pray for witnessing opportunities to Bhanjra Banjara children.

Pray for spiritual hunger among every Banjara group, so they will seek and find Jesus.


Scripture Prayers for the Banjara Bhanjra in India.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Banjara Bhanjra
People Name in Country Banjara Bhanjra
Natural Name Bhanjra Banjara
Population this Country 3,600
Population all Countries 3,600
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Bhanjra; Bhanjre
People ID 21622
ROP3 Code 118414
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 3
Largest States
Haryana
2,300
Himachal Pradesh
900
Chandigarh
400
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 3
  Haryana 2,300
  Himachal Pradesh 900
  Chandigarh 400
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Hindi (3,000 speakers)
Language Code hin   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 5
Secondary Languages
Pahari, Mahasu
80
Marwari
30
Bhattiyali
Kangri
Primary Language Hindi (3,000 speakers)
Language Code hin   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 5
Secondary Languages
  Pahari, Mahasu 80
  Marwari 30
  Bhattiyali 0
  Kangri 0
People Groups Speaking Hindi

Primary Language:  Hindi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1806-1962)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1811-1998)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1835-2019)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings DAVAR Partners recording, Old Testament DAVAR Partners International
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories One Story
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video A Beautiful Hope (EngSub) Create International
Film / Video Coconuts Create International
Film / Video Creation to Christ Create International
Film / Video Following Jesus video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Hindi Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
99.15 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.85 %
Unknown
0.00 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more