Ambalavasi in Sri Lanka

Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Ambalavasi
Country: Sri Lanka
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 16,000
World Population: 199,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 14.98 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

It is estimated that the first inhabitants arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C., from northern India. Buddhism was introduced circa 250 B.C. In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The Portuguese controlled the coastal areas of the island in the 16th century and the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was united under British rule by 1815. It became independent in 1948 with the name of Ceylon; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Though there are two major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, there are smaller ones as well. The Hindu Ambalavsi people are one of the smaller ethnic groups of Sri Lanka.

Where Are they Located?

Sri Lanka is an island country lying in the Indian Ocean, not far from southern India. The Ambalavasi people live in southern India as well as Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Ambalavasi people live in rural areas. They grow tea, sugar, cinnamon, and rubber as sources of income. Often they supplement their income by producing textiles. Many who are city dwellers work in tourism. The Ambalavasi people primarily speak, read and write in Malayalam. There are many believers who speak this language in southern India. Many Christian resources are available in Malayalam, including the complete Bible, audio Bible, and the JESUS Film.

The Agamudaiyan people favor cross-cousin marriages, and they avoid marrying individuals outside of their ethnic group. Upon the death of the father, property goes to the sons, the oldest son being in charge of the estate. Unlike many Hindu groups they bury their dead rather than cremate them. They have traditional caste councils that settle disputes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Ambalavasi people are 100 percent Hindu. Many Sri Lankans view Christianity as foreign and evangelism as unethical. Information regarding the specific Hindu practices of the Ambalavasi people are not unavailable. In general, Hindus are pragmatic in their spiritual beliefs, offering worship to gods in exchange for benefits rather than out of love or devotion.

What Are Their Needs?

Ambalavasi people who leave Sri Lanka to work abroad are subjected to hardships and abuses. Many women endure the risk to send money home. Their absence is very difficult on the children they leave behind. They need the opportunity to earn a good living in Sri Lanka.

Prayer Points

Pray that the hardships suffered by Ambalavasi people in Sri Lanka will give them the willingness to seek and find Jesus as their savior and Lord.
Pray against powers and principalities that heavily influence the very religious Ambalavasi culture.
Pray for a mighty disciple making movement among the Ambalavasi people in Sri Lanka.

Text Source:   Keith Carey