Introduction / History
The Tanti are said to have originated as the weavers, providers of cloth, back in history as far as ancient Bengal. They were known for great skill in weaving and the ability to produce both fine linens as well as more common everyday fabrics. Not too long ago, virtually every Tanti home would have had a loom and cloth present. Today, much of their trade has been taken over by factory production and imported goods. Many are now doing subsistence level work either of weaving or other manual labor within villages.
Where are they located?
The vast majority of the Tanti people are Hindus who live throughout northern India, but there is a small Muslim Tanti community in West Bengal.
What are their lives like?
They tend to live in villages outside of major metropolitan areas. They are slightly less concentrated than some groups because their designation started with their occupation rather than a particular tribe or group. They tend to be mixed with other lower caste groups that are also spread throughout the region. This makes it difficult to identify any one area as specifically "tanti". There are, however, villages that have been found to be primarily Tanti scattered throughout the areas mentioned.
They often do not have clean water or steady food supply. In relation to the rest of India they are seen as being part of the backward castes or the scheduled classes. Evidence has been seen of both designations. Regardless of which is exactly right, they are definitely considered among the lower castes of India. They are also near the bottom of the nation economically. A few have moved into cities and achieved an education and greater roles in society. This is still, however, limited to a small percentage of the overall people group.
What are their beliefs?
Muslim Tanti people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, spoken through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
In most of the Muslim world, peoples like the Tanti depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. The often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
What are their needs?
The Tanti people, be they Hindu or Muslim, need to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the only one who can bless them with abundant life and eternal salvation from sin and death.
Pray for the Tanti culture to be renewed and enhanced by a work of the Holy Spirit and shaped into a God-centered and God-honoring mold.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among Muslim Tanti family and community leaders to seek His face and enjoy His blessings.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers who will be compelled to nurture a disciple making movement among the Tanti people.
Pray that soon the Tanti people will have faith that will lead them to live honorable lives that will draw others to the Savior.
Text source: Keith Carey