Dusadh Bahelia in Bangladesh

Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Dusadh Bahelia
Country: Bangladesh
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 5,600
World Population: 816,600
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Dalit - Dusadh
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Bahelia people are now Dalits, but they were once higher in the Hindu caste system. They were soldiers in Rajput-led armies. After a key military defeat, the Bahelia had to flee and hide in the jungles, where they survived by catching birds and animals, honey extraction, all considered low status jobs. Taking such jobs led to them losing their favorable caste status. During colonial times, the Dusadh were also known as robbers, looters and criminals. As a result, the Bahelia are often not welcomed by other communities.

Where Are they Located?

This Hindu people group lives in eastern India in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, and the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. Some live in Bangladesh where they are part of the Hindu minority in a Muslim country.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Dusadh work as landless agricultural laborers. They have a tradition of making fans with peacock feathers and selling the birds they catch. They collect honey from the forest. Modern India's development programs are improving the lives of some Bahelia people. They are taking advantage of greater educational opportunities, and their literacy rate is improving, especially for boys. Their health care is also slowly improving.

The Bahelia marry within their own group. Sons inherit their father's property. A caste council settles legal disputes and promotes the Bahelia's interests.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Dusadh Bahelia people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. At the popular level where the Dusadh people are, Hindus worship and serve the gods whom they believe will give them favor and protection. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. They also believe that spirits inhabit their forests. These spirits must be appeased through offerings and rituals or they can bring disaster upon the community.

What Are Their Needs?

The Bahelia need to learn new job skills. Most of them need access to modern medicine. Many of their women need to learn to read and write. Most of all, the Bahelia need to hear and respond to the message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and get them right with the one, true God.

Prayer Points

Pray that God will send culturally sensitive missionaries who will show the Bahelia the way to the cross.
Pray that the tiny group of Bahelia believers would grow spiritually and share the good news with their people.
Pray for this people group to be blessed with peace, joy and spiritual prosperity as they follow Jesus Christ.

Text Source:   Keith Carey