South Asian, Telugu-speaking in United States

South Asian, Telugu-speaking
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2024
Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: US Census ACS Language Spoken at Home. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: South Asian, Telugu-speaking
Country: United States
10/40 Window: No
Population: 431,000
World Population: 1,174,700
Primary Language: Telugu
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 3.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.60 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Many of India's states are named after a particular Indian language. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are home of most of India's Telegu speakers. Broadly speaking Indian languages are divided into the northern Aryan and the southern Dravidian branches. Telegu is a Dravidian language. Approximately 80 million people speak Telegu as their first language. Educated Telugu people speak fluent English. Many Telegu speakers come to the West and the USA seeking a better life for themselves and their children.

A complete Bible and many other Christian resources are available in Telegu.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In the United States, South Asian communities jokingly call themselves "desis." A desi is an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi person who lives abroad. Old religious and communal animosities are frequently put aside in this foreign land and these people become friends. They use English as their common language in South Asia and in the US.

However, each language group strives to have their own associations where they can speak the language of their hearts. For this reason, there are Telugu associations throughout the United States. Most of the Telugu speakers, or other South Asians are from professional backgrounds. Many own businesses or work in science, technology, education, and medicine. The children of the Telegu speakers often become indistinguishable from other American young people. Still the parents want their children to learn to speak Telegu and to continue to honor south Indian customs and culture.

Those who follow Christ in India tend to be from "backward" (lower, less powerful) caste backgrounds. Forward (higher, more powerful) caste members are the ones who have the opportunity to move to Western countries like the United States. For this reason, there are few believers among the Telugu speakers in the West. Pray for a breakthrough among forward caste Telugu speaking Hindus both in India and in the West.

What Are Their Beliefs?

South Asian Hindus are a small minority in a large nation like the United States. Hindu parents want their children and grandchildren to attend Hindu temples and to celebrate Hindu holidays. Young people are already losing much of their cultural uniqueness by speaking English as their first language.

The majority of the Telegu speaking people in the USA claim to be Hindus. Hinduism is 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 as Christians do. 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 is the festival of lights. Navratri the celebrates autumn and the harvest. Rama Navami remembers Rama's birthday.

Only a small fraction of the Telugu speakers in the USA claims to be followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Needs?

Some "desi" groups like Tamil speakers already have fellowships of strong believers. Christians will have to find ways for Telugu speakers to follow Jesus without feeling like they are abandoning their traditional culture. Christians can help newly arrived South Indians in finding jobs and places to live.

Prayer Points

Pray for the kingdom of God to penetrate hearts of Telugu speakers in the West and in South India.

Pray that American churches reach out and share the good news with Telugu speakers in the USA.

Pray that the Telugu believers in the USA would grow strong in the faith and take the initiative to get the gospel to their family and friends.

Pray that Telugu in the USA would become open to spiritual things and realize that material wealth ultimately does not satisfy the human heart.

Text Source:   Joshua Project