Introduction / History
The Baira are a tribal people and considered Dalits, people outside of the Hindu caste system. The traditional occupation of the Baira has been hunter-gathering. The men hunted for animals for food, feathers and hides. The women gathered edible items from the forest such as berries and roots. The Indian government has made hunting illegal because many of the animals used for food by the Baira have become endangered.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Since Kannada is the language of Karnataka, it is the one the Baira people use the most. Many resources are available in Kannada including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film. There are few if any believers among the Baira.
Most of the Baira people live in India's southern states of Karnataka and Kerala.
Illiteracy is a major issue for the Baira. Though they like to have their sons get a primary education, their daughters usually stay home and help their mothers. A high portion of the Baira women and girls are unable it read and write. Children often quit school after a few years to help their parents make a living. The Indian government has encouraged the Baira to live in one place not following the nomadic ways of their ancestors. Most Baira families have a few goats and chickens to supplement their diet of rice, roots, coconuts and vegetables. The main livelihood of the Baira is working in agriculture on land owned by others. They work on tea, coconut and palm tree plantations and in rice paddies.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Baira tend to marry within their group. As a Dalit people, few Hindus from higher castes would want their children to marry a Baira person. Monogamy or marriage to one spouse is the norm. Baira parents have large families. Since the Baira lack access to modern medicine, many children die before their 10th birthday of preventable diseases. It is the responsibility of sons to take care of elderly parents. Sons inherit their father's property. Village elders make judicial decisions and set behavior rules.
Some Baira young people are moving to Indian cities in hope of a better life. Unfortunately, they have to work the lowest paying jobs due to their lack of job skills and education.
The Baira people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins. Since the Baira are a tribal people, they have their own priests, shamans and shrines.
What Are Their Needs?
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring / Diwali, the festival of lights / Navratri, the celebration of autumn / and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.
The Baira need good schools and teachers, so they improve the educational level. They also need new jobs skill to that their young people can compete in the modernizing Indian economy. Solar panels can bring the blessings of electricity to the Baira villages. Most of all, the Baira need to hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.
Ask the Lord to send loving workers and teachers to the Baira.
Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Baira.
Pray for the Baira people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Baira people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers disciples to make more disciples.
Scripture Prayers for the Baira in India.