The Hindu Banjara, who are known by 53 different names, primarily speak Lambadi or Lamani. They are the largest nomadic group in India and are known as the root Romani of the earth. The Romani began traveling from India to different regions of Europe hundreds of years ago, and differing dialects evolved in the regions in which each group settled. Some are in Sri Lanka.
The Banjara’s name is derived from the word bajika, which means trade or business, and from banji, meaning peddlers pack. Many consider them descended from Jews who were exiled to Egypt, as they came to South Asia from Egypt and Persia. Some believe they were expelled from their homeland by Muslim invaders.
The vast majority of the Banjara people live in India, but a small number are in Sri Lanka.
The various Gypsy/Banjara/Romani groups are the last of Sri Lanka’s nomads. They live in small, portable tents made of palm fronds or grass before moving to other locations to sell their wares such as salt, hand-made broomsticks, iron tools, needles, and intricately embroidered colorful clothes with shining discs and beads. They make ornaments and ornate jewelry, which the women also wear. They may also repair tools or work with stone. Due to the work of NGOs and mission societies, some are now living in villages where they work as farm hands and do subsistence farming. Because they are poor, they eat what they have grown in their gardens (if they have them) along with dairy products.
The Banjara love music, playing folk instruments, and dancing. The Banjar are also acrobats, magicians, tricksters, story-tellers, and fortune-tellers.
The Banjara families are closely knit, having minimal relationships with other communities. The role of leader of the community is passed down to the leader’s son. All biological sons get an equal share from parental property. Marriages may be arranged, especially to avoid the union of relatives to three generations back. In some groups, however, cousins are allowed to marry.
The majority of Banjara are Hindu; some have combined Hindu practices with their own animistic beliefs. Romani often follow folk beliefs and mixed with these religious beliefs are many taboos (things one must never do.) One Hindu taboo is that a woman’s hair must not be combed or let down long in the presence of men. Another is that a woman should not pass in front of a man who is sitting, but rather behind him. Even though Romani are unreserved in speech, many have high moral standards. For example, chastity is very important. In the past, some girls who were involved in prostitution were buried alive. Unmarried girls are still discouraged from going into the cities, and they usually wear veils over their hands and feet while sitting with strangers.
Many Banjara in Sri Lanka live in poverty. Usually the only clothes a Banjara owns are the ones on his back. An unsanitary lifestyle has created many physical needs among them.
Most children do not attend schools because their families are always on the move. The Banjara do not have a written language, so depending on whatever state of India they are in, if they read, it must be in that states’ script.
* Scripture Prayers for the Banjara (Hindu traditions) in Sri Lanka.
* Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Banjara people in Sri Lanka for Jesus and that in God’s sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow Him.
* Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
* Pray for the spiritual lives of the Banjara people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
* Pray for the lives and culture of the Banjara people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.
|Profile Source: Keith Carey|
|People Name General||Banjara (Hindu traditions)|
|People Name in Country||Banjara (Hindu traditions)|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|Frontier People Group||Yes|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||1|
|Alternate Names||Bagora; Bajari; Banjara; Banjare; Banjari; Bepari; Bhanja; Bhanjara; Brinjara; Daiya; Dhari; Dhead; Gavara; Gawalia; Gormati; Gour Banjara; Guwaria; Jogi Banjara; Ka; Kanjar; Kongadi; Laban; Labham; Labhan; Laman; Lamani; Lambadi; Lambana; Lambani; Lavan; Lavana; Lavana Banjara; Lavana Banjarara; Lohana; Manu Banjara; Mathura; Naik; Navi Banjara; Sirkiband; Soopdasi; Sukali; Vanjara; Vanjari; Wanjara; Wanjari; बंजारा (हिंदू ट्रेडिशन्स)|
|National Bible Society||Website|
|Persecution Rank||30 (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)|
|Total States on file||5|
|Specialized Website||South Asia Peoples|
Primary Language: Hindi
|Bible Translation ▲||Status (Years)|
|Bible-New Testament||Yes (1811-1998)|
|Possible Print Bibles|
|Forum Bible Agencies|
|National Bible Societies|
|World Bible Finder|
|Resource Type ▲||Resource Name|
|Audio Recordings||Audio Bible teaching (GRN)|
|Audio Recordings||Online New Testament (FCBH)|
|Audio Recordings||Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)|
|Audio Recordings||Oral Bible stories in Hindi|
|Audio Recordings||Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)|
|Film / Video||A Beautiful Hope (EngSub)|
|Film / Video||Coconuts|
|Film / Video||Creation to Christ|
|Film / Video||Father's Love Letter|
|Film / Video||Following Jesus (India, JF Project)|
|Film / Video||God's Story Video|
|Film / Video||Indigitube.tv Video / Animation|
|Film / Video||Jesus Film: view in Hindi|
|Film / Video||Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)|
|Film / Video||My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)|
|Film / Video||Rivka (Jesus Film Project)|
|Film / Video||Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)|
|Film / Video||The Hope Video|
|General||Four Spiritual Laws|