Jhalo Malo in Bangladesh

Jhalo Malo
Photo Source:  Gerald Roberts 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Jhalo Malo
Country: Bangladesh
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 250,000
World Population: 658,000
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Dalit - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Jhalo Malo are a Dalit group of people who live in Bangladesh and India. Malo means "boatman" in Arabic. The traditional occupation of the Jhalo Malo is that of fishing. They fish with nets in the Bay of Bengal and in the rivers of Bangladesh
The Jhalo Malo people are mostly employed in activities related to fishing. Many supervise fish trade while some are employed in fisheries and fishing cooperative societies. Some are self-employed, while others are in salaried jobs. Rural development programs have helped them secure loans for fishing. They have established a caste association for the all-round development of their community.

The Malo also work as landless laborers in agriculture. Unfortunately, the Malo are looked down upon by Hindu and Muslim society. Brahmin castes will not receive food or water from them. Illiteracy is a big problem with many Malo people unable to read or write. The Bangladeshi government is trying to raise the educational and economic levels of the Malo. Much work still needs to be done.

The primary language of the Jhalo Malo is Bengali. Some others speak regional languages of Bangladesh.

Where Are they Located?

The most Jhalo Malo lives in the Bangladeshi states of Dhaka, Rajshahi and Khulna. Smaller groups live in other Bangladeshi states. A large population of Jhalo Malo lives in northeast India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The lives of the Jhalo Malo are difficult. When fishing is good, they can earn enough money to feed their families. When fishing is bad, they can starve. Landless farm workers often live by the whim of the landowners.

The Jhalo Malo marry within their caste but not within their particular clan or family. Families arrange marriages. Fortunately, child marriage of Jhalo girls is disappearing. Sons inherit their father's property.

Since most Brahmins refuge to associate with them, the Malo priests officiate at important life ceremonies such as births, weddings and funerals. The Malo dead are cremated often near a river.

The main foods of the Jhalo Malo are fish, rice, curries, vegetables and other grains.

As Hindus, they do not eat beef.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Jhalo Malo are Hindus and devoted to Vishnu, the preserver god and his avatars, especially Rama and Krishna. Malo are often denied entrance into Hindu temples so they have their own shrines and places of worship.

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 Malo visit shrines and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their god Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi.

The main yearly holidays of the Jhalo Malo people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the celebration of autumn.

What Are Their Needs?

The Jhalo Malo have many spiritual and physical needs. They need help in educating their children. They would benefit by modern medicine. They need help in learning new job skills. Most of all, they need to hear the life changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand.

Prayer Points

* Pray that the Lord sends Christian workers to help the Jhalo Malo.
* Pray that the Jhalo Malo turn away from Vishnu and open their hearts to Jesus.
* Pray that whole families of the Jhalo Malo are brought to the Savior and that Bible believing churches are planted in the Malo community.

Text Source:   David Kugel