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Chenchu in India


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Chenchu in India map

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
82,000 Telugu Hinduism 1.78 % Unknown   

Chenchu in India

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Introduction / History
The Chenchu live in the hills of southern India, primarily in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The higher ranges of the Amrabad Plateau are pure, dense forests and are almost exclusively inhabited by the Chenchu. Other Chenchu communities can be found in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Orissa. Their native language (also called Chenchu) belongs to the Dravidian language family. Many also speak Telugu, the language of their Hindu neighbors.

Life for the Chenchu revolves around the struggle to survive. Whenever food resources become scarce, they migrate to another place in search of new possibilities. A market economy and sophisticated machinery are totally absent from this group of hunters and gatherers. Likewise, concepts such as 'profit' or 'accumulation of wealth' are unknown to them. As Hindus, the Chenchu hold a relatively high caste (social class) status. They prefer to remain segregated from other groups, living on the outskirts of multi-ethnic villages.

What are their lives like?
The Chenchu depend on nature for nearly all of their food supply. They are hunters and gatherers, just as they have been for many generations. In former times, they hunted as a unified tribe. Today, they still hunt with spears or bows and arrows, but it is no longer a cooperative effort. Instead, each individual is responsible to provide for his own family, and their efforts are not very productive. The men are known as expert bamboo cutters and honey collectors. Very few crops are cultivated: tobacco, corn, and some millet. A few cows may be kept in a village for milk, but they are not eaten.

Many Chenchu have been forced out of their wandering, food-gathering lives by the growing number of peasant farmers. They now work as farmers or forest laborers and live in towns and well-settled villages. Their permanent villages have an average of seven houses and are occupied for only 10 to 15 years-unless disease ravages the community and causes a massive number of deaths. They live in hive-shaped houses made of wattle thatch (poles intertwined with twigs, reeds, or branches). Temporary shelters, which take only three or four hours to build, are made of grass or leafy branches.

Chenchu society consists of clans (extended family units), local groups, and families. They are exogamous, which means that they do not allow marriage within the same clan. They are also patrilineal, tracing the line of descent through the males. There are four main groups on the upper plateau, and villages usually have a mixture of various clans. The nuclear family (husband, wife, and unmarried children) is the basic unit of Chenchu society. One distinguishing factor of their tribe is the clear division of labor. The men hunt, gather honey, and make baskets, while the women prepare the food. The husband and wife are considered partners with equal rights; even their property is jointly owned.

Within the tribe, there are a number of differences between the older and younger generations. The older people remain rather scantily dressed, while the younger boys like to wear shirts and pants. Girls still wear the traditional sarees (colorful wrap-around dresses) or skirts and blouses, and some may wear more modern styles. Traditionally, both the men and women wore long hair that was tied up in a knot. Today, the older generation still lets their hair grow long, but the young people often cut their hair.

What are their beliefs?
Due to increasing exposure to the plains peoples, the Chenchu have adopted the Hindu deities of the neighboring Telugu tribe. Today, they are virtually all Hindu, worshiping millions of gods and goddesses. Chenchus worship Bhagwan Taru who they believe lives in the sky and looks after Chenchus in all their doings. They also worship Garelamai Sama, the goddess of forest. They believe she protects them from any danger.

What are their needs?
Alcoholism is a serious problem for many of the Chenchu. Their addictions allow them to temporarily escape from the reality of their difficult lives, but they need to find the permanent source of peace. Missions agencies focusing on the Chenchu have had very little success. Prayer is the first step toward reaching these precious people with the Good News.

Prayer Points
Ask the Lord to send laborers to India to share the hope, peace, and love of Jesus Christ with the Chenchu.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Chenchu who will boldly declare the Gospel.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin faithfully interceding for the Chenchu.

View Chenchu in all countries.

Prayer Links
  Submit Update:
Country: India
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, South
Persecution Rank:10 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population in Country:82,000
Largest States:
Andhra Pradesh (56,000)Telangana (20,000)
Tamil Nadu (4,100)Karnataka (1,100)
Puducherry (90)Kerala (60)
Maharashtra (60)Odisha (20)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Chenchu
People Name General: Chenchu
Alternate People Names:
AdiBoathuk Savara
ROP3 Code: 111775
Joshua Project People ID: 16581
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 82,000
Population all Countries: 82,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
People Name General: Chenchu
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Telugu (37,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tel    Ethnologue Listing
Secondary Languages:
Chenchu (32,000)Odia (900)
Kannada (700)Koya (100)
Tamil (100)Hindi (100)
Marathi (30)Kuvi (20)
Gondi, Northern (Unknown)Nepali (Unknown)
Note: Only 10 largest secondary languages listed
Total Languages: 16
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity1.78 %(Evangelical: Data not available)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism97.63 % 
Islam0.28 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.02 % 
Unknown0.29 % 
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 4   Greater than or equal to 2% Evangelical
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1812-1966
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1854-2022
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
Audio RecordingsLove letter to you from scripture
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsOral Bible stories
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio
Film / VideoFollowing Jesus video
Film / VideoGod's Story video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Telugu
Film / VideoLUMO film of Gospels
Film / VideoMagdalena video
Film / VideoMy Last Day video, anime
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children
Film / VideoThe Hope Video
Film / VideoThe Story
GeneralBible for Children
GeneralBiblical answers to your questions
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGospel resources links
GeneralGospel website in this language
GeneralZume Resources
GeneralZume Training
Mobile AppDownload audio Bible app as APK file
Mobile AppDownload audio Bible app as APK file
Mobile AppDownload audio Bible app from Google Pla ...
Mobile AppDownload Bible from Google Play Store
Text / Printed MatterBible: Telugu
Text / Printed MatterChildren and youth resources
Text / Printed MatterLiteracy primer for Telugu
Text / Printed MatterOnline New Testament (Bibles India)
Text / Printed MatterThe Ancient Path
Text / Printed MatterTools for faith conversations
Text / Printed MatterTopical Scripture booklets and Bible stu ...
Ministry Activity
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Networking: Visit for networking possibilities.
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

Chenchu in India

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    South Asia Tribal - other     Asia, South    
      Chenchu India    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Chenchu in India          
      Religion Language  
      Hinduism     Telugu  
    All Religions                              

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