Dhimal in India

Dhimal
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2021
International Mission Board-SBC  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Dhimal
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 4,800
World Population: 30,800
Primary Language: Rangpuri
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Most Dhimal people live in mountainous nation of Nepal. Some also live in the Indian states of West Bengal and Bihar. The Dhimal are an indigenous people whose former lifestyle involved hunting and gathering in the forests of the Indian subcontinent. Today most Dhimal work as landless, agricultural laborers. Most Dhimal live in poverty with little hope for the future. Illiteracy is a major problem for the Dhimal, especially among women. As a tribal people, the Dhimal are outside of the Hindu caste system. Many Hindus therefore will not associate with them.

The main language of the Dhimal depends upon where they live. They speak Rangpuri, Maithili, Dhimal and Hindi.

Where Are they Located?

The Dhimal live in villages in northeast India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Indian government has curtailed Dhimal’s former livelihood of hunting and gathering. The Dhimal work long hours in fields owned by others. Besides working in the fields, Dhimal women weave baskets, mats and rugs for cash. If crops fail, the Dhimal face starvation. Dhimal children are often not welcomed at government schools so their cycle of poverty continues.
The main foods of the Dhimal are rice and grains. They are not vegetarians but as Hindus they will not consume beef. Meat is often reserved for special occasions.

The Dhimal marry within their group. Families arrange marriages. Sons inherit what little property their father owns.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Dhimal consider themselves Hindus but orthodox Hindus think they are more animists than members of their religion. The Dhimal worship and serve Chaitanya and Nityananda, Hindu mystics of the 16th century, as their patron deities. The Dhimal also worship other deities like Buda Thakur, Sadi Buri, and Kali, the goddess of sex and destruction.

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 Dhimal visit their Hindu shrines and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs.
The main yearly holidays of the Dhimal people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama’s birthday.
There are a few hundred believers among the Dhimal.

What Are Their Needs?

The Dhimal have huge needs. They need help in educating their children and in learning new job skills. They need access to electricity, indoor plumbing and modern medicine. Most of all, the Dhimal need to hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ who alone can forgive their sins and give them hope.

Prayer Points

* Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Dhimal people in India teachable and understanding hearts.
* Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Dhimal families into a rich experience of God’s blessing.
* Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Dhimal family leaders to experience God’s blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.

Text Source:   Keith Carey