Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
The name Barua is derived from two words, bara meaning "renowned" and ua meaning "ruler." In ancient times, the most highly ranked military ruler of Chattagram under the king of Arakan was a man called Barua.
The Barua are unique among all the peoples of India in that they are Buddhists who speak a derivative of the Bengali language. Those living in Bangladesh as well as in parts of India speak Chatgaiyan (i.e. Chittagonian), a dialect of Bengali which has a similarity to Burmese, Assamese and Bengali, in vocabulary, phonology as well as enunciation. Although almost all Bengalis are Hindus or Muslims, for historical reasons that are not clear the Barua have survived as a Buddhist enclave in the midst of the two giants of Islam and Hinduism.
Several thousand people belonging to the Barua ethnic group live in the north-east India state of Tripura. They live intermingled in villages with people from other ethnicities, in the Sadar Subdivision of the West Tripura District (also known as Agartala) and the Udaipur Subdivision of the South Tripura District.
What are their lives like?
Traditionally the Barua earned their livelihood through farming, fishing and hunting. As waves of migrants have entered Tripura the number of wild animals has diminished, making hunting a fruitless exercise unless the participants are willing to trek deep into the forests. The Barua raise goats and chickens today as their main sources of protein. In recent decades, as education levels among them have improved, a number of Barua men and women have obtained jobs as office workers, teachers and administrators in the towns of Tripura.
After Barua women marry, they wear vermilion and conch-shell bangles as marriage symbols and as a sign of their unavailability to men. After marriage the couple lives in the home of the groom. Although either spouse can seek divorce, it is rare. Nowadays, the practice of paying bride-price in cash is being replaced by a dowry.
What are their beliefs?
Perhaps the most fascinating mystery concerning the Barua people is their belief in Theravada Buddhism. The nearest Buddhist communities to them are probably the Chakma and other Theravada Buddhist peoples in the Chittagong Hill tracts of Bangladesh. Just how the Barua came to believe in Buddhism, and equally how they have managed to preserve their faith under pressure from all sides, is difficult to ascertain because they have no written history. Families linked with a Buddhist temple are brought under their traditional association, which is headed by a marubbi. They worship at the family level and participate in traditional festivals.
As the Barua have slowly lost their culture, their Buddhist beliefs have gradually become mixed with Hinduism. The Barua are now allowed to marry people from non-Buddhist communities such as the Brahmin, Kayastha and Magh, which means that Buddhism may become extinct among them in the next generation. There are no known Christian believers among this interesting and unique unreached people group.
What are their needs?
The Barua people need to accept the warm embrace of the only savior so they can enjoy spiritually meaningful lives.
Prayer PointsView Barua in all countries.
Pray for the authority of Christ to bind hindering spiritual forces to lead the Barua people from darkness to light.
Pray for signs and wonders among them and for great breakthroughs with a rapid multiplication of disciples and house churches.
Pray for bold workers who are driven by the love of the Holy Spirit to go to them.
Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them.