Introduction / History
The Adi Dravida of southern India were called the Paraiyar. Due to the negative connotation of the name Paraiyar or pariah in English, the leaders of this community in the early 20th century requested that their name become Adi Dravida or "original Dravidians." Today, the Adi Dravida are a scheduled caste which means they receive special benefits for government jobs and places in education to rectify past societal wrongs. In the past, many of the Adi Dravida were indigent agricultural workers tied to the land. They were also forced to live by themselves in hamlets outside the other villages and towns.
Where are they located?
The Adi Dravida live primarily in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kanarkata. Some are scattered across the rest of India. They speak Tamil and other regional languages.
What are their lives like?
The Adi Davida have been poor farmers and agricultural workers. Some own their own land while others labor for land owners. Some Adi Dravida are shoe makers and leather workers. Others dig graves and take care of funerals.
The Adi Dravida are endogamous; that is, they marry within their caste. They do not practice child marriage.
The men spend the day working the soil growing rice, other grains, fruits and vegetables. Women tend to family responsibilities and also help the men in the fields. Unfortunately, illiteracy is high among the Adi Dravida. By giving the Adi Dravida scheduled status the Indian government is trying to increase literacy and access to higher paying jobs. Some Adi Dravida are educated and entered professions like medicine, engineering and law.
What are their beliefs?
Most Adi Dravida are Hindu. They worship the Hindu gods like Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, Krishna and Hanuman. Due to their low caste, sometimes Adi Dravida have not been allowed entry into Hindu temples. This fact has led some leaders to encourage the people to leave Hinduism and to embrace Buddhism.
* Pray that God would create a hunger for His Word among the Adi Dravida. The complete Bible is available in Tamil.
* Pray that the Lord would lead Indian Christians to become friends with the Adi Dravida to help them with their educational and vocational needs.
* Pray that the small number of Adi Dravida Christians will be discipled and share the gospel with their brothers and sisters.
Text source: David Kugel