Tiyar in India

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Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Tiyar
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 584,000
World Population: 637,000
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.15 %
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

The Tiyar are a group of people who live in northeast India and Bangladesh. Tiyar comes from the word for hunter in Sanskrit. The Tiyar were traditionally hunters in the forests of ancient India. With the forests mostly gone, the Tiyar work in the fishing industry and as landless agricultural laborers.

The Tiyar are a Scheduled Caste, which means they are eligible for special consideration in public jobs and university admission. Many Tiyar live in rural villages without electricity, access to clean water and indoor plumbing. Illiteracy is a problem among the Tiyar. The Indian government is working to improve the living conditions of the Tiyar.

The primary languages of the Tiyar are Bengali and Hindi. They also speak other regional Indian languages.

Where Are they Located?

The largest groups of Tiyar live in the northeast Indian states of Bengal, Bihar and
Odisha. Other smaller groups live in other sections of India and Bangladesh.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The lives of the Tiyar are challenging. When fishing is good they make enough money to feed their families. When fishing is not good, they suffer great need.

The landless farm workers are often dependent on the landowners they labor for.

The Tiyar marry within their caste but not within their gotra or clan. They hire Brahmin priests to officiate at their life ceremonies. Families arrange marriages with the newly married couple living near or with the groom's parents. Sons inherit their father's property. Caste associations promote their interests and settle legal disputes.

The main foods of the Tiyar are fish, rice, vegetables, fruit and other grains. They do not eat beef, as is the custom of Hindus.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Tiyar practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They 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 Tiyar visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods. Their villages often have their own protector god or goddess.

The main yearly holidays of the Tiyar people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the celebration of autumn.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tiyar as a Scheduled Caste have pressing needs. They need help in educating their children. They need electricity, clean water and indoor plumbing in their villages. Most of all they need to hear and respond to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ that alone can forgive their sins.

Prayer Points

Ask God to send Christian workers to share the good news of Christ with the Tiyar.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through those ministering to the Tiyar people.
Pray the Lord will start a movement of Tiyar families experiencing God's blessings

Text Source:   David Kugel