Introduction / History
The Sinhalese are the native people of Sri Lanka where they make of 74% of the population. Some of these people left their island during the three decades long Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009) and settled in India. The name Sinhala comes from the Sanskrit word for lion.
The Sinhalese in India speak their language of Sinhala among themselves. They also speak English that allows them to communicate and work with other educated Indians. The Sinhalese are employed in computer science, business and government jobs.
Where are they located?
The Sinhalese of India primarily live in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Maharashtra and Kerala. Small groups also live in Indian states.
What are their lives like?
The Sinhalese left Sri Lanka to escaped the violence of the civil war. The war is over but many have decided to remain in India for the economic opportunities that India offers.
The Sinhalese have a rich and ancient culture that those living in India strive to maintain. Their cuisine is rice and curry based with the abundant use of hot spices and coconut milk. The traditional dress for men and women is a sarong although they generally wear western clothes for work. Dance is an important cultural heritage. The Sinhalese have their own type of martial arts called Angampora.
The Sinhalese practice monogamy, marriage to one person. Their marriages involve performing the ceremony on a Poruwa, a raised wooden platform. The groom at the close of the wedding breaks a fresh coconut.
What are their beliefs?
The large majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhist. Theravada means "doctrine of the elders." It is the more conservative of the two main branches of Buddhism. It is the dominant type of Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asia.
The Buddha or "Enlightened One" taught his disciples the Four Nobel Truths to escape suffering and the Eightfold Path, personal qualities to be developed.
Buddhists visit temples for worship, meditation and prayer. Buddhists make offerings of food, burning incense, candles and flowers.
Buddhists celebrate Vesak or Buddha's birthday in May, Dharma Day in July, Bodhi Day which celebrates the Buddha's enlightenment experience and the Buddhist New Year for three days in April.
A small group of Christian Sinhalese lives in Sri Lanka.
What are their needs?
The Sinhalese living in India need to hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. They need to realize that they are sinners and in need of the Savior.
* Pray the Lord would send Christian workers to befriend and share the gospel with Sinhalese of India
* Pray that God creates dissatisfaction with Buddhism and a hunger for spiritual truth among them.
* Pray that the Sinhalese Christians in Sri Lanka would reach out to their brothers and sisters in India.
* Pray that the Lord would begin and grow a Bible believing church among the Sinhalese of India.
Text source: David Kugel