Introduction / History
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is extremely difficult to adequately describe any single people group.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan Plateau, and the Eastern and Western Ghat Mountains. Because of numerous geographical features, climatic conditions are also widely diversified on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
In the midst of this complexity can be found the Awadhi Baiswari. They are located predominantly in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur, and Dekhi. Their language is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family.
What are their lives like?
Most of India's population lives in rural areas and is engaged in some form of agriculture. Many are farmers who barely grow enough to survive. Farms are extremely small and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the economy. Because of Hindu influence, however, these animals are used almost exclusively as beasts of burden rather than sources of meat.
Uttar Pradesh, where many Awadhi live, contains four of the seven holy cities of Hinduism: Haridwar, Mathura, Varanasi, and Ayodhya. Ayodhya is believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu (preserver of the universe). Other Awadhi live in Bihar, an agricultural state. Their chief crops are barley, maize, rice, sugarcane, and wheat.
Indian culture is primarily Hindu-oriented. Many Hindu institutions, including the rigid caste system, have wide-ranging effects on Indian society. The word "caste" basically means breed, race, or kind. Indian society is divided into hierarchical castes which are usually endogamous (marriage only within the caste). Castes may be defined by occupation or by kinship and lineage, but there are exceptions. Nevertheless, the caste is so fundamental to the social organization of India that it prevails in all parts except some of the tribal populations. Not enough is known about the Awadhi to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their particular lifestyle cannot be adequately described.
What are their beliefs?
The Awadhi Baiswari are largely Hindu and follow basic Hindu customs and traditions. The term "Hinduism" came into use about 1200 A.D., but clearly identifying what Hindus believe is difficult. The religion has no founder, no prophet, and no instructional structure. It is a way of living much more than a theology; it is a philosophy more than a religion. Contrary to popular belief in the West, Hinduism is not an ancient, fixed set of beliefs. It is, rather, a body of customs, practices, and beliefs that go through major changes every few hundred years.
The majority, but not all, of Hindus believe in a supreme being. Some respect all life and eat only vegetables, while others will gladly eat meat from sacrifices in the temple. To some, their religion is highly personal; to others, it is impersonal. While most Hindus worship Brahman (the creator of the universe), Shiva (its destroyer), Vishnu (its preserver), and the goddess Shaktri, they also worship a pantheon of other minor gods, their incarnations, spouses, or offspring. A belief in reincarnation (continual cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features of Hinduism.
What are their needs?
Being one of the major language groups, the Awadhi do have the Bible and the Jesus film available in their own language. However, few have become Christian. The believers need discipleship materials to encourage and strengthen them in their Christian walk. Intercession and missions efforts are still necessities for reaching the Awadhi with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Awadhi Baiswari of India.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to give creative ideas for evangelism to missions agencies focusing on the Awadhi.
* Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Awadhi, with many conversions resulting.
* Pray that God will use the Awadhi believers to minister the love of Jesus to their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Awadhi Baiswari church for the glory of His name!