Burmese in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Introduction / History

Burmese civilization probably goes back 3500 years in the Irawaddy Valley, where people were using bronze tools, growing rice and raising livestock. By the 500s, they had adopted Buddhism, which was a turning point for their culture. In the 1000s, the Bama people arrived from the hills of Tibet, and King Anawrahta unified Burma as a nation in 1057. Other kings followed who established Buddhist pagodas, monasteries, libraries, and even places of higher learning. They could control their water supply in such a way that they increased their rice harvests. This civilization waned in the 1300s partly because they gave too much of their resources to the Buddhist monks. This left them more vulnerable to the ravishes of the Mongol Empire and the Tatars. It took another 200 years before a new, expansionist Burmese leader arose, Bayinnaung. He unified Burma for a short time through conquest. After his death, sections of his empire broke away. The Burmese expanded in the early 1800s, but the Chinese stopped them. Soon the British Empire made Burma a province of India for a season.


Today, the Burmese are the political, economic and religious leaders of Myanmar. Myanmar has had a long history of coups, wars and rebellions. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burmese kingdom in the eleventh century. Today, the Burmese military maintains forcible control over the ethnic groups who want equal power in the government and in commerce. The military promises a ceasefire, but they attack at the slightest note of rebellion. The ethnic groups of Myanmar, including the Burmese majority, have lived in a constant state of instability and fear. Thousands have fled to nearby Asian countries like Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka, India, and especially Bangladesh.


Though most refugees from Myanmar in India are from the ethnic Chin people, there are also some Burmese as well. The Burmese in India are usually either in Delhi or India’s northeastern states.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burmese kingdom in the eleventh century. Many Burmese eventually fled to Bangladesh, Thailand, and India in hopes of finding a more peaceful climate. Unfortunately, India is reaching their limit as to the number of refugees they can take in. In addition, India has had several problems because of racial prejudice. The Burmese stand out with their East Asian features, and India does not offer legal protection. Women are sometimes harassed, and Indian government officials can deport Burmese individuals.


The fertile valleys support intense rice cultivation. Industrial development is limited, however, because of East India’s isolation from the rest of India, their poor transportation system, and small local markets. Therefore, the Burmese are limited to farming for survival.


The Burmese ideally grow rice in irrigated fields; however, they also resort to "slash and burn" cultivation. In this process, they first clear the plots by burning off the vegetation. Then they grow crops on it for one or two years before moving to new territory.


The Burmese do not recognize clans or lineages. Marriages are monogamous (one husband, one wife), and are rarely arranged by the parents. Newlyweds live with the bride’s parents for the first two or three years after marriage. Then they will set up their own independent households.


The Burmese live in villages that are clustered among trees, or along roads or riverbanks. There are many types of houses in Burmese villages. The wealthier people often live in sturdy, mahogany homes that are raised off the ground and have plank floors and tile roofs. Those with lower incomes may live in thatched roof, bamboo houses that have dirt floors. All activities take place on the dirt floors, including eating and sleeping. Therefore, it is extremely impolite to enter a Burmese house wearing shoes.


The single most important social institution in the village is the temple. It symbolizes unity among the villagers and provides a wide variety of activities for the people.


What Are Their Beliefs?

The Burmese are predominantly Buddhists. The traditional goal in Buddhism is to seek the middle path to Nirvana, or ultimate peace. They believe that death is not a threat to one who has done good deeds. Instead, it is simply a "passing" from one life to another. They believe that those with less merit are reborn as demons, ghosts, animals, or inhabitants of hell.


Though the Burmese are predominantly Buddhist, they have mingled many animistic practices (based on the belief that non-human objects have spirits) with Buddhism. Their animistic beliefs center on inherently evil spirits called nats. Sadly, they spend their lives trying to appease the nats so that they will be protected from any other evil spirits that may seek to harm them. All of their homes have altars for the spirits, as well as a statue of Buddha.


What Are Their Needs?

The Burmese left their homeland in search of peace. Unfortunately, they are not finding peace in India. They need loving Christ followers who will introduce them to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Fervent prayer and increased evangelism efforts are the keys to seeing them reached with the gospel.


Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Burmese in India.

Pray that the sheer wonder of knowing Jesus and the impact he has on lives will become apparent to the Burmese in India.


Pray the hearts of the Burmese people would be stirred by a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit readying them for the time when they hear the gospel message being shared with them.


Pray they will experience dreams and visions of Jesus leading them into a saving relationship with him.


Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Burmese people in India.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-08-27
People Name General Burmese
People Name in Country Burmese
Pronunciation burr-MEEZE
Population this Country 17,000
Population all Countries 32,047,000
Total Countries 18
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Bama; Bamar; Bamas; Burman; Man; Myan; Myan, Myen; Myanmas; Myen; Yaw; बर्मीज़
People ID 11029
ROP3 Code 101776
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 29
Largest States
(only 15 largest shown)
Arunachal Pradesh
8,600
Manipur
1,400
Maharashtra
1,200
Assam
1,000
West Bengal
900
Delhi
800
Tamil Nadu
500
Tripura
300
Uttar Pradesh
300
Mizoram
300
Gujarat
200
Meghalaya
200
Madhya Pradesh
100
Kerala
100
Andhra Pradesh
100
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 29  (only 20 largest shown)
  Arunachal Pradesh 8,600
  Manipur 1,400
  Maharashtra 1,200
  Assam 1,000
  West Bengal 900
  Delhi 800
  Tamil Nadu 500
  Tripura 300
  Uttar Pradesh 300
  Mizoram 300
  Gujarat 200
  Meghalaya 200
  Madhya Pradesh 100
  Kerala 100
  Andhra Pradesh 100
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Burmese (17,000 speakers)
Language Code mya   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Burmese (17,000 speakers)
Language Code mya   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Burmese

Primary Language:  Burmese

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1815-1985)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1832-1987)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1835-2014)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio
Film / Video A Greater Love
Film / Video Creation to Christ
Film / Video Freedom from Suffering
Film / Video God's Story video
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Burmese
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video Magdalena video
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children
Film / Video The Hope Video
General Biblical answers to your questions
General Four Spiritual Laws
General Gospel resources links
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
95.43 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
4.57 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2022  Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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