Hindi in Myanmar (Burma)

Photo Source:  Sonam Prajapati - Pixabay 
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People Name: Hindi
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 131,000
World Population: 2,733,900
Primary Language: Hindi
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.70 %
Evangelicals: 0.25 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language. Many Hindi words stemmed from the Sanskrit language. Hindi is so similar to Urdu that the two languages are mutually intelligible. The major difference is that Urdu speakers are almost always Muslim and Hindi speakers are Hindu. Of all the Hindi speakers living outside India, the majority live in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan. Others live in various countries throughout the world.

Hindi is more of a language than a people group distinction. Hindi-speakers are a collection of ethnic and social groups. For the Hindi-speaking Diaspora, things change. South Asians in a foreign setting often come together for various events that are unique to South Asia.

It is mostly the higher castes and educated people who leave India and migrate to other countries. These people now hold a wide variety of occupations. While most have kept various aspects of the Hindi culture, they are all influenced by the local cuisine, culture and language.

Hindi speakers have a long history in Myanmar. They were brought to Myanmar during British colonial days to work on farms. The first wave was in 1889, and there was a second wave in 1902. The British also used them as civil servants, merchants and dock workers. A good percentage of them left Myanmar in the 1930s with the anti-India riots and in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Myanmar. Even more left when, in the early 1960s, the new independent Myanmar government started to nationalize Indian-owned businesses.

Today the Hindi speakers in Myanmar are concentrated in Mandalay and Rangoon. There are far fewer of them in that country than there were 60 years ago.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In Myanmar, Hindi speakers have set up Indian spice shops, video stores, and small businesses in urban settings. They are commonly working in the tech industry, as engineers or in the medical profession. A smaller number of them have low-paying jobs in Indian restaurants or as construction workers.

In diaspora, Hindi speakers are losing some of their South Asian ways. They often wear Burmese style clothes. Many every kind of meat except beef. Though it is still common to have an arranged marriage, these people often select their own spouse from internet sources. Others choose their own spouse with parental approval.

Most of the Hindi speaking diaspora in Myanmar have never been to India. They try hard to stay on top of events in India such as elections and make sure their children learn Hindi in special classes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Hindi speakers in Myanmar practice Hinduism. Hinduism is more an identity than a religion. The Hindu religion offers a reason to come together with other South Asians for social events. These events include Diwali and other Hindu celebrations.

Members of the high castes usually view Hinduism as a philosophy. Others view it as a religion. They worship gods that they believe can benefit them in practical ways. They make sacrifices and offerings to their gods to earn their favor, appease them and avoid calamity. To get along with the local population, they often have a statue of the Buddha in their Hindu temples.

Orthodox Hinduism teaches that the soul never dies. When the body dies, the soul is reborn or reincarnated. The soul may be reborn as an animal or as a human. They worship some gods in the form of animals. The law of karma states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. If a person lives a good life, the soul will be born into a higher state. If a person leads an evil life, the soul will be born into a lower state.

What Are Their Needs?

The Hindi speaking diaspora needs to find a new love—a love for Jesus Christ, the one who offers them life to the full. As it stands, most are satisfied with religion.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Hindi speakers in Myanmar to have hearts that are open to the abundant blessings of Jesus Christ.

Pray for Hindi families to prosper financially and spiritually as they experience a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pray for a movement to Christ among Hindi speakers that will spread joy, peace and salvation to other peoples.

Pray for the leaders of the Hindi speakers in Myanmar to have a spiritual hunger that will drive them to the empty grave.

Text Source:   Joshua Project