Chenchu in India

The Chenchu have only been reported in India
Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

The Chenchu live in the hills of southern India, primarily in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The higher ranges of the Amrabad Plateau are pure, dense forests and are almost exclusively inhabited by the Chenchu. Other Chenchu communities can be found in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Orissa. Their native language (also called Chenchu) belongs to the Dravidian language family. Many also speak Telugu, the language of their Hindu neighbors.

Life for the Chenchu revolves around the struggle to survive. Whenever food resources become scarce, they migrate to another place in search of new possibilities. A market economy and sophisticated machinery are totally absent from this group of hunters and gatherers. Likewise, concepts such as 'profit' or 'accumulation of wealth' are unknown to them. As Hindus, the Chenchu hold a relatively high caste (social class) status. They prefer to remain segregated from other groups, living on the outskirts of multi-ethnic villages.


What Are Their Lives Like?

The Chenchu depend on nature for nearly all of their food supply. They are hunters and gatherers, just as they have been for many generations. In former times, they hunted as a unified tribe. Today, they still hunt with spears or bows and arrows, but it is no longer a cooperative effort. Instead, each individual is responsible to provide for his own family, and their efforts are not very productive. The men are known as expert bamboo cutters and honey collectors. Very few crops are cultivated: tobacco, corn, and some millet. A few cows may be kept in a village for milk, but they are not eaten.

Many Chenchu have been forced out of their wandering, food-gathering lives by the growing number of peasant farmers. They now work as farmers or forest laborers and live in towns and well-settled villages. Their permanent villages have an average of seven houses and are occupied for only 10 to 15 years-unless disease ravages the community and causes a massive number of deaths. They live in hive-shaped houses made of wattle thatch (poles intertwined with twigs, reeds, or branches). Temporary shelters, which take only three or four hours to build, are made of grass or leafy branches.

Chenchu society consists of clans (extended family units), local groups, and families. They are exogamous, which means that they do not allow marriage within the same clan. They are also patrilineal, tracing the line of descent through the males. There are four main groups on the upper plateau, and villages usually have a mixture of various clans. The nuclear family (husband, wife, and unmarried children) is the basic unit of Chenchu society. One distinguishing factor of their tribe is the clear division of labor. The men hunt, gather honey, and make baskets, while the women prepare the food. The husband and wife are considered partners with equal rights; even their property is jointly owned.

Within the tribe, there are a number of differences between the older and younger generations. The older people remain rather scantily dressed, while the younger boys like to wear shirts and pants. Girls still wear the traditional sarees (colorful wrap-around dresses) or skirts and blouses, and some may wear more modern styles. Traditionally, both the men and women wore long hair that was tied up in a knot. Today, the older generation still lets their hair grow long, but the young people often cut their hair.


What Are Their Beliefs?

Due to increasing exposure to the plains peoples, the Chenchu have adopted the Hindu deities of the neighboring Telugu tribe. Today, they are virtually all Hindu, worshiping millions of gods and goddesses. Chenchus worship Bhagwan Taru who they believe lives in the sky and looks after Chenchus in all their doings. They also worship Garelamai Sama, the goddess of forest. They believe she protects them from any danger.


What Are Their Needs?

Alcoholism is a serious problem for many of the Chenchu. Their addictions allow them to temporarily escape from the reality of their difficult lives, but they need to find the permanent source of peace. Missions agencies focusing on the Chenchu have had very little success. Prayer is the first step toward reaching these precious people with the Good News.


Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send laborers to India to share the hope, peace, and love of Jesus Christ with the Chenchu.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Chenchu who will boldly declare the Gospel.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin faithfully interceding for the Chenchu.


Scripture Prayers for the Chenchu in India.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Chenchu
People Name in Country Chenchu
Population this Country 82,000
Population all Countries 82,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 4  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 2
Alternate Names Adi; Boathuk Savara; Chenchwar; Chenswar; Lambada; चेंचू
People ID 16581
ROP3 Code 111775
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 8
Largest States
Andhra Pradesh
56,000
Telangana
20,000
Tamil Nadu
4,100
Karnataka
1,100
Puducherry
90
Maharashtra
60
Kerala
60
Odisha
20
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
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 8
  Andhra Pradesh 56,000
  Telangana 20,000
  Tamil Nadu 4,100
  Karnataka 1,100
  Puducherry 90
  Maharashtra 60
  Kerala 60
  Odisha 20
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Telugu (37,000 speakers)
Language Code tel   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 16
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Chenchu
32,000
Odia
900
Kannada
700
Koya
100
Tamil
100
Hindi
100
Marathi
30
Kuvi
20
Gondi, Northern
Nepali Urdu Gondi, Adilabad
Gondi, Aheri Gadaba, Bodo Munda
Primary Language Telugu (37,000 speakers)
Language Code tel   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 16
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Chenchu 32,000
  Odia 900
  Kannada 700
  Koya 100
  Tamil 100
  Hindi 100
  Marathi 30
  Kuvi 20
  Gondi, Northern 10
  Nepali 10
  Urdu 0
  Gondi, Adilabad 0
  Gondi, Aheri 0
  Gadaba, Bodo 0
  Munda 0
People Groups Speaking Telugu

Primary Language:  Telugu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1812-1966)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1818-1989)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1854-2022)
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 Love letter to you from scripture
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio
Film / Video Following Jesus video
Film / Video God's Story video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Telugu
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
Film / Video The Story
General Biblical answers to your questions
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
1.78 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
97.63 %
Islam
0.28 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.02 %
Unknown
0.29 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Copyrighted © 2022  Isudas  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more