Monpa Tawang in Bhutan

Monpa Tawang
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Monpa Tawang
Country: Bhutan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 500
World Population: 54,000
Primary Language: Brokpake
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tawang Monpa are named after their town, which in turn is named after the Tawang Monastery located there. This group, call themselves Brahmi Monpa, while their language is called Monkit.

The Tawang Monpa are different from other Monpa groups in terms of both language and culture. Despite these differences, most researchers presume that the various groups who call themselves 'Monpa' must all be the same. This is far from true, as the generic term 'Monpa' is used to designate people living in the lower areas of the Himalayas, rather than to indicate a cohesive ethnolinguistic or historic group.

Where Are they Located?

Most of the Tawang Monpa live in northeastern India, but a small number have migrated to Bhutan, where they live among other Buddhist peoples.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The diet of the Tawang Monpa is varied. They eat and drink pulses, fish, meat, vegetables and bung chung (local beer brewed from maize, rice, millet, wheat or buckwheat). They consume milk products like churpi, ghee and butter. They eat beef, pork, mutton and the meat of fowl and yak. They also eat venison and the flesh of wild boar. The fruits consumed are oranges, peaches, pomegranates, apples and sugarcane.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The 1981 census returned 99.94 per cent of Tawang Monpa as Buddhists. Tawang is the spiritual center of the area and home to several important monasteries, including the Tawang Monastery, where many festivities and traditional dances are held every year. Other important Buddhist landmarks include the 460-year-old Urgelling Monastery, which was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama; the Rigyalling Monastery; and the more distant Taktsang Monastery. Together these institutions house more than 1,000 monks, 700 of which reside at Tawang Monastery alone.

In the past few years a few Tawang Monpa individuals in India, mostly young people, have believed in Jesus Christ. They immediately faced strong pressure from their families and communities to renounce their new faith. Some did, but others counted the cost and continue to follow Christ as Lord. The Christians who brought the gospel to Tawang have been persecuted.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tawang Monpa people need to know that they can find eternal refuge in Jesus Christ and in God the Father. They do not need to rely on spirits which come to kill, steal and destroy.

Prayer Points

Pray that the few Twant Monpa people who have put their faith in Jesus will be salt and light to their neighbors and family members who remain Buddhist.
Pray that the Lord will reveal himself to them through dreams, visions, and through Christian materials like the JESUS Film and gospel recordings.
Pray for a powerful disciple making movement to spread through their communities in Bhutan and in India.

Text Source:   Keith Carey