Khamti, Khamti Shan in Myanmar (Burma)

Khamti, Khamti Shan
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
People Name: Khamti, Khamti Shan
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 8,900
World Population: 29,900
Primary Language: Khamti
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Khampti people live in the border area where the three countries of Myanmar, India and China meet. Most Khampti live in northern Myanmar, having first settled along the Chinwin River in the 12th century AD. Those Khampti escaped enslavement by the Burmese and settled in their present location in the fertile triangle of northern Myanmar. More Khampti people live across the border in northeast India's states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, where they are recognized as a scheduled tribe.

The Khampti speak their own language of Khampti. Only gospel recordings are available in Khampti at the present time. The Khampti language is related to Shan, but after centuries of geographical separation Khampti has developed its own characteristics. They have their own script, called Lik-Tai, which resembles the script used by the Mon in southern Myanmar.

In modern times, Myanmar has had a long history of coups, wars and rebellions. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burmese kingdom in the eleventh century. Myanmar gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Much of modern Burmese history has been one of civil wars between the Burmese majority and the nation's minority groups that includes the Shan, Karen, Lahu and Rohingya. The military launched another coup in 2021 and is currently ruling the country.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Due to the almost complete lack of ethnographic material available in Myanmar, most of what is known about the Khampti comes from India. The staple food of the Khampti is rice. Along with rice the Khampti cultivate tropical fruits, vegetables, coconuts, and palm trees. They eat a variety of fish. They consume the meat of fowls, pigs, and goats. Eating beef is a forbidden.

Khampti society is hierarchical, with the village chief at the top, followed by the Buddhist monks, the common people and then then former slaves at the bottom.

When a Khampti couple gets married, a mediator accompanies the groom's relatives to the bride's house in a procession. The groom's party offers a basket of dried fish and rice beer to the bride's parents. When the entertainment is over the mediator negotiates with the bride's father, whereupon he hands over his daughter to the groom's party.

The Khampti are primarily an oral people. They have a rich tradition of songs, poetry, dances, and art which becomes apparent at their festivals and Buddhist holidays.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Theravada Buddhism is the religion of almost every Khampti person. Most villages have their own monastery, where proud parents send their sons to study the teachings of Buddha. Buddhism is the major world religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha, who lived in the 6th and 5th century BC in ancient India. The Khampti's brand of Buddhism is heavily mixed with animism. The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths by which one can gain spiritual knowledge and escape the endless cycles of reincarnation. Theravada, one of the two major branches of Buddhism, declares that by following the Noble Eightfold Path of right intentions and right actions that a Buddhist can achieve nirvana or a state of freedom and salvation.

To most Buddhists, however, these things have far less meaning than their traditional beliefs, which are usually animistic. In animism, evil spirits must be appeased through prayers, sacrifices and rituals. Buddhism allows people to mix Buddhist teachings with traditional folk religion.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday in December or January which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

What Are Their Needs?

Few Khampti have any awareness of the Son of God who died for their sins. Teams of workers can bring modern medicine to Khampti villages. The Khampti would also benefit from solar panels. Some isolated Khampti villages lack schools for their children. Christian teachers can come and start schools.

Prayer Points

Pray for the spiritual blindness and bondage to the evil one to be removed so the Khampti can understand and respond to Christ.

Pray for the Lord to provide for the Khampti's physical and spiritual needs as a testimony of His power and love.

Pray the Khampti people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings.

Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Khampti of Myanmar in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project