Introduction / History
The Paravan are a sea people who live along the coast of South India and Sir Lanka. Since ancient times, they have been involved in sea trade, boat building and fishing. Devout, educated Hindus considered these jobs to be degrading so they placed the Paravan outside the Hindu caste system as Dalits. The Paravan have been primarily an oral culture since reading and writing were unnecessary for their occupations.
What Are Their Lives Like?
For hundreds of years the Paravan of South India have made their living from the sea. They have dived for pearls, collected shells, fished, and made salt for their living. They have moved goods in their boats and made boats and fishing nets for sale. When fishing was poor, the Paravan were in danger of starvation. The public educational system of India gives the Paravan children the opportunity to gain literacy and improve their economic situation. Still many Paravan children leave school after a few years in order to help their parents provide for the family. If the Paravan do graduate from secondary school, they will be able to participate in a growing Indian economy. These man industries of India include tourism, the export of tea, textiles, computer science, and telecommunication. Paravan parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their group. Monogamy or marriage to one spouse is the norm.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Paravan practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. 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 Paravan visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hope of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians do with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Paravan 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.
What Are Their Needs?
The Paravan children need to be in school and to gain literacy skills to help their families. Adult Paravan would benefit from learning new job skills. The Paravan must understand that Jesus is more than another Hindu god or guru. He is the Son of the one, true God of the Bible. Only through Christ can their sins be forgiven.
Pray the Lord of the harvest sends workers to the Paravan in India to tell them the good news. Pray that Paravan parents can provide for the needs of their children. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Paravan in this decade. Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Paravan community leaders. Pray for many showings of the Tamil JESUS Film in Paravan areas.
Scripture Prayers for the Paravan (Hindu traditions) in India.