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Dowaniya in India


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Map source: Omid / Joshua Project
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
2,900 Assamese Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 %   

Dowaniya in India

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Approximately 3,000 members of the Dowaniya community live in the north-east Indian state of Assam. They inhabit a number of different locations on the Assam plain, but many live in the district of Sibsagar, a short distance from the Brahmaputra River.

In India the government has not recognized the Dowaniya as a Scheduled Tribe, so their unofficial designation has caused them to be largely forgotten by the outside world. Knowledge of the Dowaniya's existence comes from the work of eminent Indian anthropologist K S Singh, who included them in his massive project identifying nearly 5,000 distinct ethnic communities in India.

The Dowaniya have a history closely linked to that of the Singhpo, a tribe of similar size who live in the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Singhpo are cousins of the large Jingpo (Kachin) tribe of northern Myanmar and southern China, who number more than half a million people. The forefathers of the Singhpo migrated from northern Myanmar (then Burma) to northeast India in 1793 to flee persecution and terror caused by the Ahom king Gaurinath Singha. The Singhpos disposed the Khamtis from their land and settled in their present location.

The ancestors of the Dowaniya people were also among those early Singhpo settlers. Singh comments, 'It is said that the mingling of the Singhpo with the members belonging to several other communities, such as the Moran, Matak, Mishing, Kachari, Chutiya and Ahom, brought the Dowaniya into existence. In 1825 and 1826, Captain Neufville released several thousand Singhpo serfs. The descendants of these serfs constitute the Dowaniya community…. In the Singpho dialect dua means leader or head, and ni denotes its plural form, hence, the word dowani means headmen or leaders.'

The Dowaniya language is part of the Jingpo branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. Despite coming from the same roots as the Jingpo, more than 200 years of separation has now made Dowaniya very different from its original form. The Singhpo language in India today reportedly only has 50 per cent lexical similarity with Jingpo of Myanmar. The Dowaniya also speak Hindi and Assamese and use the Assamese script for writing.

The Dowaniya people retain their traditional customs to this day. They have managed to keep the all-pervading Hindu culture at arm's length, especially those Dowaniya living further away from the towns. One source notes that 'they are experts in woodcraft, basketry and weaving'.

When the Singhpo first entered India they brought their belief in Theravada Buddhism with them. Most Dowaniya have continued as Buddhists, although their faith is now mixed with Hinduistic and animistic infl uences. They have their own Buddhist monks, who preside over birth rituals, weddings and funerals, and are also entrusted with the preservation of the ancient Buddhist texts.

There are no known Christians among the Dowaniya people. Throughout their long and troubled history they have been waiting to hear the good news that Jesus loves them and has made a way for them to know the true God.

View Dowaniya in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-08-30
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-08-25
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Country: India
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, South
Persecution Rank:10 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population in Country:2,900
Largest States:
Assam (2,900)
Location in Country:Approximately 3,000 members of the Dowaniya community live in the north-east Indian state of Assam. They inhabit a number of different locations on the Assam plain, but many live in the district of Sibsagar, a short distance from the Brahmaputra River.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Dowaniya
People Name General: Dowaniya
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 115491
Joshua Project People ID: 19194
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 2,900
Population all Countries: 2,900
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
People Name General: Dowaniya
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Assamese (1,300 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): asm    Ethnologue Listing
Secondary Languages:
Hindi (100)
Total Languages: 2
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: 1822-1974
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1833-1995
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsChristassam recordings
Audio RecordingsOnline Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoFollowing Jesus (India, JF Project)
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / Video / Animation
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Assamese
Film / VideoMagdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / VideoThe Path of Light
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGod's Simple Plan
GeneralGospel website in this language
GeneralGot Questions Ministry
Mobile AppDownload Bible from Google Play Store
Text / Printed MatterBible: অসমীয়া - Assamese
Text / Printed MatterChrist for the Nations
Text / Printed MatterJesus Messiah comic book
Text / Printed MatterOneHope resources for children and youth
Text / Printed MatterOnline New Testament (Bibles India)
Text / Printed MatterWorld Missionary Press Booklets
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Dowaniya in India

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    South Asia Buddhist     Asia, South    
      Dowaniya India    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Dowaniya in India          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Assamese  
    All Religions                              

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