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Introduction / History
The Sherdukpen reside in the hilly regions of Western Arunachal Pradesh, at altitudes above 1450 metres above sea level. Most of Arunachal Pradesh in North East India is mountainous with high ridges and deep valleys. The great river Brahmaputra flows out of this region, having many tributaries flowing in and out of the deep valleys. The foothills have a subtropical climate, whereas the temperature as one climbs into the mountains decreases rapidly with the altitude. The region has high humidity for most periods of the year.
Most Sherdukpen are farmers, growing crops - buckwheat, millet, cereals and vegetables - just sufficient for their needs. They also rear a wide range of livestock - ponies, cows, goats, sheep, bullocks and fowls. Being close to forests, hunting with bows and arrows is a favourite hobby as well as a means of gathering food - yak, wild boars and bison! They venture into forests for hunting in large groups. Their diet also consists of fish and the meat of home grown sheep, local alcoholic drinks are brewed from millet and maize.
They drink tea in the typical Tibetan fashion - with salt and butter! Women are engaged in farming and looking after their children and homes. Weaving is a highly skilled feminine art, with girls competing at producing beautiful designs, mostly for their own use.
Though their population is small, the Sherdukpen are divided into three social classes. The highest in order are the Thongs, followed by the Chhaos and the Yanlo. The majority of Sherdukpen follow Buddhism (93%). There are very few Hindus (5%) and a handful of Christians. Unlike most other North Eastern states, Arunachal Pradesh in general and Sherdukpen in particular have almost no representation of Christians. The few Sherdukpen Christians need tools to grow in their Christian walk - they require the Scriptures, church services, Biblical teaching etc. in their own language. With this equipping, the Sherdukpen will be able to reach out to their own community for themselves.
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