Introduction / History
There are a number of Paharia peoples in India and Bangladesh. The Sauria are one of the subgroups. They are also called Hill Paharia or Santal Paharia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Though they are more numerous in India, there are Sauria Paharia people in Bangladesh, mainly in the Rajshahi and Rangpur districts. These districts are in the northern hill tracts and forests of Bangladesh.
Most of the Sauria Pahari are meager, honest farmers. They cultivate terraces on hillsides which produce only sparse crops twice a year. Their principal crops are potatoes and rice, and a variety of other vegetables are also grown. They use fertilizer and a system of plot rotation in which the ground is allowed to lie fallow. They grow wet rice during the monsoon season, whereas dry rice, maize, millet, and wheat are raised on the drier land during the summer and winter months. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk. The villagers live on a simple diet of milk, lentils, a few vegetables, a little fruit and occasionally meat.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Sauria live in extended families in villages that consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by the farmland. The villages are generally situated near rivers or springs, and the homes are connected by footpaths. Sometimes the paths meet together near a large tree that is used as a meeting place for the villagers as well as a resting place for travelers.
Their houses are rectangular with stone and mortar walls. The roofs are made of slate, wood or thatch. Doors, windows, and door frames are often ornately carved and painted. The houses usually have two or more stories, with the people living on the second floor and the animals roaming freely on the ground floor.
During religious festivals or village fairs, the women like to wear brightly colored clothes, heavy silver nose rings and earrings, and colorful head scarves.
There are many rites of passage for children such as the first rice feeding and the first haircut. Also, girls go through puberty rites and boys go through initiations known as sacred thread ceremonies. When they are about eight years old, the children begin doing domestic chores. Girls care for the younger children, haul water and carry food for the animals. Boys tend the animals, help in the fields or carry milk to the market. Many children walk up to five or six miles a day to school.
The vast majority of the Sauria Pahari are Hindus, and nearly all of the others practice ethnic religions. Those who are Hindus are generally not as strict in their observance of religious laws as other Hindus. Though they worship other supernatural beings Hindus believe gods and goddesses are as the most powerful. They live in fear of these gods, and regularly try to appease them with offerings. Both village gods and household gods are worshipped. These include ancestral spirits, ghosts, demons, spirits and fairies. The Sauria Pahari also recognize the five Pandava brothers (heroic warriors of a Hindu epic) as deities, although other Hindus do not.
What Are Their Needs?
Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Bangladesh and share Christ with the Churahi Pahari.
Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask God to give Bangladeshi Christians boldness to share the gospel with the Churahi Pahari.
Scripture Prayers for the Sauria Paharia in Bangladesh.