Introduction / History
The Bahelia are said to have come from a Rajput status and Hindu Bahelia have been known to refer to themselves as Chhetri jati. Legend says that they were once of an honoured social status, but after a key defeat as many soldiers retreated to the jungle and resorted to killing and eating wild animals. Since that time the Bahelia have been considered as low in status. As Bahelia they are known as Scheduled Caste in the states of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Today the Bahelia remain as a primarily a Hindu group, especially in India. They can be found in all types of wage labor jobs and in some areas still are involved in bird catching and selling. The Bahelia women in some parts of India have a tradition in the making of fans from the peacock feathers. Based on their low position they tend to have low literacy. In Nepal the Muslim Bahelia speak Bhojpuri and Urdu.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Bahelia people are Sunni Muslims who believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke 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.
What Are Their Needs?
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.
Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.
In most of the Muslim world, people 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. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
In India the Bahelia people have a reputation for working with government programs for income generation and self-employment. Development projects have succeeded among some Bahelia that have improved the economy of the community. Pray that similar Christian projects could bring both economic and spiritual blessing to the Muslim Bahelia of Nepal as well. There are no known believers among the Muslim Bahelia in Nepal.
Ask God to raise up Bahelia who are more desirous to know the truth than to stay on the broad road to death.
Ask God to send loving, committed workers to the Bahelia in the near future.
Pray the Bahelia would no longer be hidden away from the influence of Christ.
Scripture Prayers for the Bahelia (Muslim traditions) in Pakistan.