Introduction / History
In 1871, British colonialists labeled the Perna as a "criminal tribe" and a "Denotified and Nomadic Tribe." Both of these labels stigmatized them, and it still causes them problems today, more than 60 years after the newly independent Indian government took them out of these categories. Though they were once nomads, they are now in settled communities. They are now a Scheduled Caste, which means they have low status. They do not have the political clout to be given "reservations" for better jobs or entrance to prestigious colleges. Ironically these reservations seldom trickle down to those who need them the most. Also, many Pernas do not want to come out publicly and say that they are from a "criminal" tribe. Most do not know about their rights.
Where Are they Located?
Hindu Perna people live in Odisha, but mainly in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana. Many live in New Delhi as well. The Hindu Perna community is larger than the Muslim one, which is mainly in Pakistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most are landless farm workers, though some own their own farms. Commonly they are moving to cities to take on construction jobs. Unfortunately, it is common in the Perna community for a wife to be sold into prostitution by her in-laws after she bears her first child. Her husband usually doesn't work. She must "work" from 11 at night till 7 in the morning, come home and take care of the needs of her family members. Her mother in law usually collects the money from her. Perna women adamantly do not want their daughters to go into sex work, so they try to get them into good schools.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most Perna people 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. 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 like Christians or Jews. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs.
What Are Their Needs?
The main yearly holidays of the Perna 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 Perna people need a constructive way to earn a living. Perhaps believers can help their women with the trauma of being prostitutes and teach them marketable skills.
Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Perna families.
Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Perna.
Pray for the Perna people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Perna people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Perna disciples to make more disciples.
Scripture Prayers for the Perna (Hindu traditions) in India.