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Sinhalese in Malaysia


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Sinhalese in Malaysia map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
4,600 Sinhala Buddhism 2.00 % 0.10 % No   

Sinhalese in Malaysia

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Introduction / History
Singhalese are believed to be of Aryan descent. They migrated from India (Bengal, Orissa, and Gujarat) to Sri Lanka as early as the 6th century B.C. where they were known as Singhalese. The Singhalese King, court, and people converted to Indian Buddhism in the 2nd century B.C.

Singhalese, mainly jewel merchants, began migrating to Malaysia as early as 1890. Many of these early Singhalese immigrants returned to Sri Lanka after earning enough money. The Singhalese consider themselves Indians. There are no distinct physical features that set the Singhalese apart from other Indians.

What are their lives like?
In the early 20th century, Singhalese youth migrated to Malaysia with intentions of settling down permanently. Unlike the Sri Lankan Tamil, these Singhalese youth had no family or friends already settled in Malaysia to assist them. However, with the growth of Malaysia's rubber plantations and tin industries, there was an increasing demand for railroad transport providing a major source of employment to migrants from Sri Lanka. The Singhalese primarily settled in the Kuala Lumpur and Taiping where they work as drivers, security guards, bus ticket inspectors, and later on as station masters. Those with an excellent command of English work as government employees. On the rubber plantations, they held positions such as conductors, bookkeepers, clerks, and hospital assistants. There were a few Singhalese craftsmen and surveyors.

Today, there are less than 800 families bearing Singhalese names living in Malaysia. With the number of mix marriages with Indians and other Malaysian communities, the number of Singhalese continues to decrease in Malaysia. The majority of Singhalese prefer to use English and Malay despite efforts of the older generation in trying to maintain their mother tongue. Western clothing is becoming the norm among Singhalese in Malaysia, with the exception of ceremonial functions. Many Singhalese practices such as burial rites have strong Indian influences.

What are their beliefs?
The majority of Singhalese in Malaysia are Theravada Buddhist and the temple is the focal point of their activities. Minorities of Christian Singhalese maintain their ties through the church. Besides the religious Wesak day (a Buddhist celebration of Buddha's enlightenment), the Singhalese Buddhist community also celebrates the New Year usually on 14th April. New Year's Day begins with lighting a lamp and placing it in a prominent position in the house and it is believed to drive away evil spirits. Certain foods are required, and it is believed that eating these foods on an auspicious day will bring one good fortune throughout the year. This custom is still practiced despite disbelief among people in their community today.

What are their needs?
Though they are proud of their heritage, this small Singhalese community continues to struggle to preserve its cultural distinction as they blend more with the mainstream Malaysian society. As they integrate into the society, pray that they will be open to Indian believers and see the Truth in their lives. Pray that local believers will relate and respond to the unique needs of the Singhalese.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2019-03-27
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Country: Malaysia
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:43 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Sinhalese
People Name General: Sinhalese
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 109305
Joshua Project People ID: 14196
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 4,600
Population all Countries: 396,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Engagement Status:Unengaged (per Finishing the Task)
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
People Name General: Sinhalese
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Sinhala (4,600 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): sin    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Sinhalese
Dialect Code:345
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism95.00 % 
Christianity2.00 %(Evangelical: 0.10 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious3.00 % 
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
Engagement Status:Unengaged (per Finishing the Task)
GSEC Status:Level 4   Greater than or equal to 2% Evangelical
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1739-1966
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1823-2009
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
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio
Film / VideoGod's Story video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Sinhala
Film / VideoMagdalena video
Film / VideoMy Last Day video, anime
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children
Film / VideoWorld Christian Videos
GeneralBible for Children
GeneralBiblical answers to your questions
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGospel resources links
Mobile AppDownload audio Bible app as APK file
Text / Printed MatterBible: Sinhala
Text / Printed MatterLiteracy primer for Sinhala
Text / Printed MatterTools for faith conversations
Text / Printed MatterTopical Scripture booklets and Bible stu ...
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Sinhalese in Malaysia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    South Asia Buddhist     Asia, Southeast    
      Sinhalese Malaysia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Sinhalese in Malaysia          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Sinhala  
    All Religions                              

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