Introduction / History
The Jatapu are located in the hills of central India. They are mainly concentrated in the Srikakulam and Visadhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh, although there are some communities in the states of Tamil Nadu and Orissa. The Jatapu have no deep history or heritage. Many have even forgotten their original language, Jatapu, which belongs to the Kui-Kuvi branch of Central Dravidian languages. Most of the Jatapu speakers have adopted Telugu as their mother tongue.
As a people, the Jatapu are developing both materially and politically. They own fertile lands and rich forests, and possess more wealth in cash, jewelry, and property than their neighbors. In addition, they hold most of the local government positions. They are now aspiring to higher district and legislative positions. In general, the Jatapu have a friendly, considerate spirit that prevails at all times. They are exceptionally clean, and most Jatapu men are loving fathers.
What are their lives like?
The Jatapu predominantly work as farmers and forest laborers. Rice is their staple crop, and grains, peas, beans, chilies, and tobacco leaves are also grown. In addition, they collect and sell minor forest produce. A few Jatapu sell pottery, baskets, or bangles, but very few work as craftsmen. They generally do not spin, weave, make pottery, or work as carpenters until they come in greater contact with the plains peoples.
A typical Jatapu village consists of mud houses lined in rows. The homes are joined to each other with common outer walls and a long thatched roof. There are usually four separate rooms in each house to provide privacy. The homes have very few possessions, mainly earthen pots, baskets for grains, and mats for sitting. There is no bedding material; they stay warm in the winter by burning fires. The village street serves as a courtyard and playground. Cattle are either kept in sheds or tied to posts in the middle of the streets to avoid cattle theft. The streets are kept extremely tidy at all times.
Among the Jatapu, lineage is patrilineal (traced through the males) and leadership always rests with the men. However, the women enjoy equal status with men and share in family decisions. Boys begin working in the fields and forests at the age of five. Women rear the children, draw water, cook, clean, and keep the house. They take special care of their hair and also use artificial hair pieces that are sold in the markets. Shining black tassels are gathered into a hair bun. They also enjoy wearing necklaces, bangle bracelets, several nose rings, and many earrings.
Among the Jatapu, there are three types of marriages: by consent, by elopement, and by bride-service (the groom works for the bride's parents). The Jatapu only marry within their own tribe, but never within the same clan (extended family). They prefer to live as nuclear families (husband, wife, and their children); however, some live as extended families.
What are their beliefs?
The Jatapu are virtually all Hindu, worshiping millions of gods and goddesses. The only native god of the Jatapu is Jakeramma, who has one shrine in each village. In general, there are no sayings, folk beliefs, or taboos among the Jatapu. There are no idols and sacred places of worship in their homes; neither are there temples in or around the villages. They offer buffalo in animal sacrifices, but do not eat its meat. They have hardly any myths about jungle gods, spirits, or ghosts. This is perhaps because they have been stripped of their beautiful forests through slash and burn agriculture and commercial exploitation of trees.
What are their needs?
A majority of these precious people have not yet heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Their focus on the family and fatherly love has already prepared their hearts to understand the Father's love for them. They simply need to hear the Truth. Compassionate Christians are needed to minister Life and love to the Jatapu.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Jatapu.
* Pray for God to grant His wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Jatapu.
* Ask God to use the small number of Jatapu believers to share the love of Jesus with their friends and families.
* Ask the Lord to raise up teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Jatapu.
* Pray for God to save key Jatapu leaders who will boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.