Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Tamil is one of the major languages of India. It is the 17th most spoken language in the world with 78 million speakers. Tamil is one of the oldest written languages with a history going back over 2000 years. Tamil speakers are proud of their culture and literary tradition. Large populations of Tamils have left southeast India and come to live in over 20 nations. Many Tamils live in Bahrain, the island nation located in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is a wealthy nation due to its oil and natural gas industry. Most Tamil men came to Bahrain as laborers in the construction, oil, chemical and tourist industries. Some Tamils had had some economic success and been able to bring their families to live with them. Other Tamils live as cheaply as possible so that they can send money to their families in India or Sri Lanka. A small fraction of Tamil has become believers in Jesus Christ.
What are their lives like?
The Tamils living in Bahrain live diverse lives. Educated Tamils who speak fluent Arabic are able to obtain middle class jobs as managers in Bahrain's businesses and government. Uneducated Tamils who do not speak Arabic take labor jobs that Bahraini citizens will not do themselves. These Tamils are not paid or treated well. Many see living in Bahrain as a temporary assignment and hope to move back to India if financial circumstances permit. Arabic speaking, educated Tamils see Bahrain as their home and try to bring their families from India to live with them. Their children learn Arabic and attend Bahraini schools. They hope to graduate from universities and gain professional occupations in Bahrain. The father is the head of the Tamil family. He shares leadership with his wife over the children. A woman has a higher place in the Tamil home than in most Asian cultures. Tamils in Bahrain try to maintain their ethnic identity and at the same time become model Bahraini citizens. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed in modern society where young children frequently choose their partner with their parents' guidance.
What are their beliefs?
The large majority of Tamils in Bahrain practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. The main god of the Tamils is Murugan, the Hindu god of war. Hindus 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 Tamils visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as 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 Hindu Tamil 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 Tamils in Bahrain also frequently celebrate Muslim holidays.
What are their needs?
The Tamils in Bahrain need to understand that material success will not bring them the happiness they are seeking. Jesus Christ is much more than a Hindu god or guru. Only through Christ can a Tamil receive the forgiveness of his or her sins and the gift of eternal life.
Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Tamils in Bahrain in this decade. Pray the Lord moves believers and churches to reach out and share the good news with the Tamils. Pray that more Christian literature and videos become available in the Tamil language. Ask God to bring Tamil leaders and heads of families into His kingdom.
ReferencesView Tamil (Hindu traditions) in all countries.