South Asian, Bengali-speaking in Turkmenistan

South Asian, Bengali-speaking
Photo Source:  COMIBAM / Sepal 
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People Name: South Asian, Bengali-speaking
Country: Turkmenistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 800
World Population: 1,898,000
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Bengali people are the third largest ethnic group in the world behind the Han Chinese and Arabs. The homeland of the Bengalis is northeast India and Bangladesh. The Bangla language is the seventh most spoken language in the world. During the era of the British Empire, thousands of Bengali people left India and migrated to areas all over the world. Some have found their home in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic located in Central Asia. In Middle Ages it was a wealthy land due to its position on the Silk Road. Russia annexed Turkmenistan in 1881. In 1925 Turkmenistan became a member of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan gained its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Today the country has the fourth highest reserved of natural gas in the world. The Karakum Desert takes up most of the land area of Turkmenistan. Crops must be irrigated.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Production of natural gas and oil are the main sources of income in the economy of Turkmenistan. The government is attempting to diversify the economy due to the fluctuating prices of gas and oil. Turkmenistan exports electrical power to its neighbors. Cotton and wheat are the main crops. All citizens including physicians and university professors are required by the government to pick cotton during the harvest. Tourism is a growing industry. Most Bengalis occupy a middle class position in Turkmenistan. They own shops, restaurants, small business and work as managers and clerks in the petroleum and tourist industries. The ability to speak English as well as Russian and the native Turkmen language gives the Bengalis an advantage in their business dealings. The father is the head of the Bengali family. He shares leadership with his wife over the children. A woman has a higher place in the Bengali home than in many Asian cultures. Parents encourage their sons and daughters to excel in education and obtain college degrees. Bengalis try to maintain their ethnic identity. In traditional Bengali culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed where young people frequently choose their life partner with their parents' guidance. Parents strongly encourage their sons and daughters to marry within Bengali people and culture.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of the Bengalis in Turkmenistan practice Hinduism although there is a sizable group of Muslims among them. The Hindu Bengalis need to be very careful in the expression of their faith in Muslim Turkmenistan. Many Muslims consider Hindus to be idolaters. Hindus 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. The Bengalis visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hope of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians do with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Bengali Hindus 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. A small number of Bengalis in Turkmenistan are Russian Orthodox believers.

What Are Their Needs?

The Bengalis of Turkmenistan need to come to understand that Jesus is more than another Hindu guru or Muslim prophet. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray for an opening of spiritual understanding among all Bengalis. Ask the Lord to lead Christian believers and churches in Turkmenistan to reach out and build friendships with the Bengalis. Pray that the small number of Christ followers in Turkmenistan will be a light for the Bengali people. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Bengalis Muslims and Hindus towards Christ so that they will be receptive to the gospel. Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Bengalis of Turkmenistan in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project