Introduction / History
The Teli Gangauta of Bangladesh are a people whose traditional occupation was oil pressing. The word Teli comes from the Hindi word for oil. The Teli would use oxen to crush mustard, sunflower, sesame seeds and groundnuts to obtain oil. The oil was used for cooking, lighting and medicine.
Today industrial, mechanical means are used to crush the seeds or nuts. Some Teli are still involved in the production and distribution of oils. Many Teli have taken up other professions like factory work, trade, banking, transportation and hotel work. The Teli are considered to be of the Vaishya or merchant caste, the third of the four major castes of Hinduism. Land is the main economic resource for the majority of the rural Teli community. Some have taken up animal husbandry as a vocation rearing sheep and goats.
The Teli encourage education for both their sons and daughters. The primary language of the Teli of Bangladesh is Bengali.
Where are they located?
The Teli Gangauta of Bangladesh live in the states of Dhaka, Rajshahi and Rangpur.
The largest numbers of the Teli Gangauta live in India. Some also reside in Nepal.
What are their lives like?
The Teli Gangauta marry only within their community. Family elders arrange marriages on both sides. The bride's family pays a dowry. Sons inherit parental property. In past times the Teli lived in extended families in which sons' families lived with or near their parents. They are now gradually changing to nuclear or single unit families. Women contribute to family income by weaving cotton into clothes and other useful items.
The Teli people have many folk songs and tales, and the women sing and dance to the accompaniment of the drums on holidays and special occasions.
A council of elders promotes the Teli's interests and decides legal disputes.
What are their beliefs?
The Teli Gangauta of Bangladesh practice Hinduism, influenced by folk religion. 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 Teli Gangauta visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. Their primary deity of the Teli is Shiva, the destroyer god. The Teli also worship clan deities and their ancestors. Their dead are cremated and the ashes put into a river.
The main yearly holidays of the Teli Gangauta people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami,
What are their needs?
The Teli Gangauta of Bangladesh need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see the love and mercy of Christ lived out in practical ways before them. The Teli would benefit by Christian agricultural experts teaching them how to increase their crops yields.
Pray for Christian workers to be effective in demonstrating how Jesus blesses and heals families and communities.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Teli Gangauta people a love for God's Word and a desire to spread its influence.
Pray that God will overthrow spiritual forces of darkness opposing the spread of His Gospel among the Teli Gangauta community.
ReferencesView Teli Gangauta (Hindu traditions) in all countries.