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Kheng in Bhutan


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Kheng in Bhutan map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
35,000 Khengkha Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Kheng in Bhutan

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A 1991 source listed a population of 40,000 Kheng people living in south-central Bhutan. It is the most widely spoken of the Eastern Tibetan languages in Bhutan. The Kheng inhabit a widespread area in the south-central part of the kingdom, concentrated in Zhamgang District and western Mongar District. Zhamgang was once a collection of tiny principalities that were absorbed into Bhutan in the 17th century. One source gives specific details regarding the distribution of the Kheng: 'Near Zhamgang, the northernmost Kheng speaking village is Wangdugang on the Mangdechu [River]. Around Zhamgang the Mangdechu forms the boundary between the Kheng and Nyenkha speaking areas. South of the village of Takma, however, Kheng is spoken on both sides of the Mangdechu. In the east, the Kurichu River forms the boundary between the Kheng and Tsangla speaking areas. As one crosses the high mountain ridge traveling south from Zhamgang on the main road, one enters Nepali speaking territory. '

The southernmost areas inhabited by the Kheng are off-limits to foreign travellers, because of the threat posed by separatist groups across the border in the Indian State of Assam. Several guerilla groups there have been waging a war against Indian rule, and senseless acts of violence are commonplace.

The Kheng language is part of the Eastern Tibetan branch of Tibeto-Burman. It is closely related to, yet distinct from, Bumthang and Kurtop. Kheng reportedly has 92 per cent lexical similarity with Bumthang, and just 47 per cent with Dzongkha (the national language of Bhutan). George van Driem says, 'Although it could be argued that the two languages Kheng and Kurtop are dialects of Bumthang on grounds of mutual intelligibility, there are essential differences between the phonologies of Kheng and Kurtop on one hand and that of Bumthang on the other. Moreover, the speakers of these three languages identify strongly with their respective homelands in Bumthang, Kurto and Kheng.... The district capital of Kheng is Zhamgang proper. It has three dialects, all of which have significant differences. Within the vast Kheng area there is considerable dialect diversity, both lexically and in the way certain tenses are formed. The differences between the individual Kheng dialects are in some cases as great as the difference between any one of these and a given dialect of Bumthang. '

Tibetan Buddhism is the professed religion of the Kheng, although the pre-Buddhist religion of Bon also yields great influence. 'The Bon religion is widespread throughout Kheng, where it is practiced in syncretic coexistence with Buddhism, and there is a panoply of different local traditions.' One expert on Tibetan Buddhism noted, 'When tantric Buddhism entered Tibet ... it began a centuries-long battle with Tibet's native shamanism. In the end, tantric Buddhism prevailed only by absorbing much shamanist practice, and the shamanists survived by adopting a thin veneer of Buddhism. '

In the early 1990s, the first Kheng people believed in Christ. Today there is a small group of believers, struggling to establish the Christian faith among this unreached people group.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-08-22
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Country: Bhutan
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, South
Persecution Rank:43 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population in Country:35,000
Largest Provinces:
Southern (18,000)Eastern (15,000)
Western (2,200)
Location in Country:The Kheng inhabit a widespread area in the south-central part of the kingdom, concentrated in Zhamgang District and western Mongar District.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Kheng
People Name General: Kheng
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 104937
Joshua Project People ID: 12658
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 35,000
Population all Countries: 35,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
People Name General: Kheng
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Khengkha (35,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): xkf    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism100.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 2008
New Testament:
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Ministry Activity
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Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Kheng in Bhutan

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    South Asia Buddhist     Asia, South    
      Kheng Bhutan    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Kheng in Bhutan          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Khengkha  
    All Religions                              

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