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Chali in Bhutan


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
1,800 Chalikha Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Chali in Bhutan

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More than one thousand people belonging to the Chali ethnic group live in eastern Bhutan, the landlocked, mysterious Buddhist Himalayan kingdom. They inhabit a few villages in the Mongar (also spelled Monggar and Mongaa) District.

The linguist George van Driem has provided an extremely detailed description of where the Chali language is spoken. 'The Chali language is limited to a small area north of Mongar on the east bank of the Kurichu. At the southern end, the Chali speaking area proper begins north of Mongar at the Gangg'o La, which is just five kilometers [three miles] south of the village of Chali itself. The Chali speaking villages are Chali and neighboring Wangmakhar. The language is also spoken in the tiny hamlets surrounding these two villages. In the west, the Chali speaking area is bound by the Kurichu and in the north by the Threwenchu, a lateral tributary of the Kurichu. The easternmost Chali speaking hamlet is G'ortshom up on the ridge above Chali village. Outside of the Chali area proper, in the immediate vicinity of Tormazhong village in the Chocangacakha speaking area north of the Threwenchu, approximately one third of the households are also reported to be Chali speaking.'

Mongar is a small, nondescript town with a population of about 1,500 people. It sits on the top of a ridge and is protected from the wind by a row of large eucalyptus trees. Mongar proudly boasts one bank, a hospital and a post office. It also has a small Buddhist monastery, housing fifty or sixty monks, some of whom are young boys not yet in their teens. Although the town itself is of minor interest to visitors, the area has strikingly beautiful scenery, as does most of Bhutan.

The Chali language is different from all other Eastern Tibetan varieties spoken in Bhutan. One source notes, 'The Chali area is bound to the north and west by the Chocangacakha speaking area, and to the south and east by the Tsangla speaking area. Chali has a massive component of loan vocabulary resulting from its location at the crossroads of Tsangla and Chocangacakha speaking areas as well as from historical circumstances.'

Tibetan Buddhism has been the dominant religion in Bhutan since its reported introduction in AD 746, when 'Sendha Gyab, the king of Bumthang, had a conflict with another Indian king in the south of Bhutan. As a result of this dispute, Sendha Gyab became possessed by a demon, and it required a powerful tantric master to exorcise it. The greatest master was the teacher Padmasambhava, better known as Guru Rimpoche (precious master). After an extended process involving trickery and magic dances, the guru captured the demon and converted it to Buddhism. For good measure, he also converted the king and his rival, restoring the country to peace. The first visit of Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang is recognized as the true introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan.'

There are no known Christians among the Chali people. Few have ever heard the gospel in a meaningful manner.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2018-08-05
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Country: Bhutan
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, South
Persecution Rank:45 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population in Country:1,800
Largest Provinces:
Eastern (1,700)Western (20)
Location in Country:They inhabit a few villages in the Mongar District....The Chali speaking villages are Chali and neighboring Wangmakhar.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Chali
People Name General: Chali
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114869
Joshua Project People ID: 18909
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 1,800
Population all Countries: 1,800
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
People Name General: Chali
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Chalikha (1,800 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tgf    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 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Chali in Bhutan

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

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