Introduction / History
Within the caste system of India there are numerous communities which have a given task to benefit others. The Teli community is one of these. "A community which derives its name from the Sanskrit word talika or taila, used for the oil extracted from sesame and mustard, thus alluding to their traditional occupation... Mythological origin of the Teli is traced to Lord Shiva who created them to destroy five demons. However, their legend also says that the first Teli was created by Shiva to rub him with oil." (Singh, K. S., India's Communities, p. 3462) Telis were traditionally considered one of the the Vaisya, or trading communities. That put them as part of the third highest of four caste clusters.
Where Are they Located?
Most Hindu Telis live in India, but there are some in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and a very small community in Pakistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Teli community once did the labor-intensive job of pressing and extracting oil, but now that job is done by mechanical means. For this reason, they have mainly resorted to farming or animal husbandry. A good many of these are landless. A smaller number of them are businessmen or hotel managers, metal workers, cart pullers, or common laborers.
The Teli people are endogamous, meaning that they only marry within their own community. Family heads and elders arrange their marriages, and the dowry is paid with cash and valuable goods. In today's world, Teli people live mainly in nuclear families.
Like all other South Asian communities, women have lower status and power than men; however, women take a leading role in social and religious activities. Women also help with the family income through embroidery and other money-making activities.
The perception of Christianity as an invading influence that breaks up families and promotes many social problems is a serious obstacle to Teli families and communities humbly accepting God's blessing for their families.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Teli Hindus in Pakistan have special celebrations at weddings and the birth of a child. They cremate the dead and scatter the ashes in a river. They worship their ancestors and seek protection from evil spirits. This people group is pragmatic in their spiritual practices. They worship a "wish-fulfilling goddess" whom they hope will answer their prayers.
What Are Their Needs?
The Teli people are not usually poor, but they need better access to higher education and good job opportunities. They also need access to meeting the Risen Christ and opportunity to follow Him.
Pray for workers to go to the Hindu Teli people in Pakistan and for their hearts to be ready to receive their Savior.
Pray for the Lord to bless Hindu Teli families with his presence and mercy.
Pray for believers among this people group to disciple others who will disciple still others.
Pray for Bible believing fellowships and churches among the Teli people in Pakistan.
Scripture Prayers for the Teli (Hindu traditions) in Pakistan.