Introduction / History
Collectively the Rai are known as very courageous, daring, and fearless people. In recent history they have won worldwide respect for their bravery in the Royal Nepalese Army. Joining the army is often a way out of enduring economic hardship. It also brings respect and honor, especially for those of high military rank.
Where are they located?
The Rai peoples are most likely to be found in Nepal and Bhutan, but a smaller number live in India and Bangladesh.
What are their lives like?
Among the Rai, weddings are very festive occasions. Some marriages are facilitated by kongpi, or middlemen, who work out the details of the marriage. Gifts are presented to the families; and if accepted, the family sets a marriage date. Sometimes marriages are facilitated by the "arranged kidnapping" of the girl of one's choice. Many believe that this method brings about good results, though it probably opens the door for abuse of the woman.
At the wedding, guests give gifts to the parents of the bride and groom, as well as to a long line of family members and village elders. They often sacrifice an animal, usually a pig or rooster at this time. There is an abundance of meat and drinks at these weddings. One favorite beverage is made from barley and potatoes. Often the whole night is spent in singing and celebration.
What are their beliefs?
While the majority of Rai are Hindus, there are also a large number of animists who believe that non-human objects have spirits. In addition, they have been heavily influenced by Buddhism. This mixture has created a wide variety of gods and worship practices among them. These customs are most evident during such events as births, marriages, and deaths. The influence of Hinduism has led to many of the dead now being cremated instead of being buried.
What are their needs?
The Rai people need ways to earn a living in such a way that they can afford higher education for their children. They also need believers to go to them as Christ-bearers so that they have the chance to experience life to the full (Jn 10:10).
Ask God to call out faithful prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
Pray that the Lord of the harvest will raise up long-term laborers to live and work among the Rai people in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and India.
Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work begun in the hearts of the few Rai believers through adequate discipleship. Pray that this will lead to an unstoppable Disciple-Making Movement.
Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant church among the Rai for the glory of His name!
Text source: Keith Carey