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Introduction / History
The Bishnupriya (Manipuri) are a 100% Hindu community living in the northeastern corner of Bangladesh mostly in the Moulvibazar district of Sylhet division. They point to Manipur state of India as their homeland, and they still have a majority of their people in various northeastern states of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
They are mostly farmers, though their younger generations are becoming increasingly more educated and looking for other opportunities. They are very proud of their culture/religion and are well-known in Bangladesh for their dances; their identity is very much tied to their Hindu culture/religion. Largely because of this, there is still not a single known Christian among the Bishnupriya in Bangladesh.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Bishnupriya people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. 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 other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins. Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like 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?
Missionary activity among them has been and is limited because of their belief that to be Bishnupriya is to be Hindu. Outsiders trying to spread the gospel are not tolerated, and individuals may resist the gospel for fear that they will lose their place in the Bishnupriya society if give Christ their allegiance. Still, because of the Bishnupriya community's desire for development and aid, missionaries can easily gain access to the community by engaging them in the social, economic, and health sectors. Going beyond merely providing aid may prove difficult, however.
Pray for the Lord to provide for their physical and spiritual needs as a testimony of his power and love. Pray that the Bishnupriya people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings. Pray for workers who are driven by the love and boldness of the Holy Spirit to go to them. Pray for a movement to Christ among them to begin this decade.
Scripture Prayers for the Bishnupriya Manipuri in Bangladesh.