Introduction / History
The Balai or Balahi live in the central states of India. "Balai" means messenger in Hindi. Their traditional occupations were that of landless farm laborers, weavers and village watchmen. The Balahi are a Scheduled Caste, which means they are eligible for special benefits from the Indian government because of their poverty. This includes reserved places in education and public jobs.
Some Balai have risen in Indian society to careers as masons, carpenters and business owners. Unfortunately, many Balai are still illiterate.
The primary language of the Balai is Hindi. They also speak other regional languages such as Dhundari, Nimadi, Mewari and Malvi.
Where are they located?
The large majority of Balai live in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajastan. Many also live in the Capital Territory of Delhi.
What are their lives like?
Most Balai people are very poor by Indian standards. Although they can eat meat except for beef and pork, they seldom can afford it. Their diet consists of rice, grains and whatever roots and vegetables they can obtain.
Balai do not marry members of their families such as cousins. They do marry within their gotra or clan and community. Brahmin priests perform the weddings. Adult marriage is the general practice. Brides go to live with the groom's family. Sons inherit family property. Women often work as domestic servants to supplement family income. The Balai live in multi-caste villages in their own areas. They bury their dead.
What are their beliefs?
Almost all Balai are Hindus. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Balai give special service and attention to Durga, the mother-warrior goddess. They visit her temples and travel to her shrines. Balai celebrate the traditional Hindu holidays such a Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the festival of the beginning of spring.
A tiny minority of Balai are Christians.
What are their needs?
The Balai need to hear the life-changing gospel of Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see that true spiritual wealth is found in Jesus not in the gods of Hinduism. They need help in becoming literate so they can read the Bible in Hindi and raise their position in Indian society.
* Pray that the small group of Balai Christians would be built up and trained to share the gospel with their brothers and sisters.
* Pray the Lord sends Christian workers to live among the Balai and demonstrate the love and care of our Father and Savior.
* Pray that God is honored by the planting of many Bible-believing churches in the Balai community.
Text source: David Kugel