Introduction / History
History The Matangi are a small group of Dalits who live in southwest India. Dalits are considered outside the standard four caste Hindu social system and face daily discrimination by other Hindus. According to Buddhist legend, a Matangi girl was asked by a follower of the Buddha for water. The girl answered that she could not give him water due to the fact that she was a Dalit, or a person outside of the Hindu caste system. The Buddhist man said he wanted water and did not care what caste she was from. The girl left her village and became a Buddhist nun. The primary language of the Matangi is Telugu. Many resources are available in Telugu including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film. The gospel will need to be presented to the Matangi in visual and oral forms. The greatest numbers of Matangi of India live in the Indian state of Telangana. Some also live in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Matangi do manual labor such as digging holes for construction sites. Some do farm work on land owned by others. Most of Matangi live in extreme poverty. Most cannot read or write. A few have taken advantage of India's public schools and found better jobs. The Matangi are known for having tattoos. They have their own music and drama based on oral tradition. Families arrange marriages within the Matangi group. Cousin marriages are common with the girls marrying as young a 11 or 12. A man can have multiple wives if he can afford them. Property is inherited by the sons. Their dead are cremated. Village elders settle legal issues and promote Matangi interests
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Matangi practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They may get their name from the Hindu goddess, Matangi. She is worshipped as the goddess of music and supernatural power by her devotees. She is one of the many forms of the mother goddess Devi. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Matangi people visit Hindu shrines 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 like Christians do. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Matangi people are 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 caste system divides Hindus into four main categories. Dalits and tribal peoples are outside of the caste system. Unfortunately, the Matangi belong to this last Dalit group.
What Are Their Needs?
As a Dalit group, the Matangi people have huge needs. Most of all they need to hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. The Matangi would benefit by teams of teachers and medical workers coming to them. The Matangi need job skills that can help raise their low standard of living.
* Scripture Prayers for the Matang (Hindu traditions) in India.
Pray that village elders come to Jesus Christ and lead the others of the Matangi to salvation also. Pray that God has teams of workers go to the Matangi to help with their physical needs. Pray for an unstoppable disciple making movement begins and flourishes among the Matangi. Pray that the Lord sends Hindu background believers to tell the Matangi about Jesus.