Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
The Paravan or Paravars are a sea people who live on the coasts of South India and Sri Lanka. Since fishing, pearl diving and collecting of shells were considered as degrading occupations by devout Hindus, the Paravars were labeled as being Dalits or outside the Hindu caste system.
What are their lives like?
From ancient times, the Paravan have made their living from the sea. They fish, move products by boat, dive for pearls and make salt. The Paravan are an oral culture since learning beyond the rudiments of reading and writing were unnecessary for their occupations. The free educational system of Sri Lankan gives Paravan children the opportunity to gain literacy and improve their economic situation. Still many Paravan children leave school after a few years in order to help their parents provide for the family. If the Paravan do graduate from secondary school, they will be able to participate in Sri Lankan's main sources of income. These include tourism, the export of tea and rice, textiles, and mining minerals. Paravan parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their group. Monogamy or marriage to one spouse is the norm.
What are their beliefs?
The Paravan practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Paravan visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hope of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians do with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Paravan people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday. The Paravan of Sri Lanka also celebrate Buddhist holidays.
What are their needs?
The Paravan would benefit by having their children receive at least a secondary education. The Paravan need to hear an oral presentation of the gospel that they can understand. Jesus more than another Hindu god or guru. Only through Christ can the Paravan have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to the Paravan of Sri Lanka to tell them about Jesus Christ. Pray that Paravan parents are able to meet the needs of their children. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Paravan in this decade. Pray for increased literacy among the Paravan so they can read the Tamil Bible for themselves.
ReferencesView Paravan (Hindu traditions) in all countries.