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)
Where Are they Located?
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.
Most Teli people live in the central regions of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Teli communities 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, and some have applied to be considered "Other backward castes" so they can receive special treatment from the Indian government. A smaller number of them are businessmen or hotel managers, metal workers, cart pullers, or common laborers. Many work in government jobs, and they are active in politics.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most 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.
Telis are mainly Hindus who have special celebrations at weddings and the birth of a child. They cremate the dead, and scatter the ashes in a river, preferably the Ganges, a river that Hindus consider to be holy. 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?
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 the opportunity to follow Him.
* Scripture Prayers for the Teli Sahu in India.
* Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among Teli communities in India.
* Pray for Teli people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
* Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Teli disciples to make more disciples.
* Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Teli communities