Introduction / History
The Kharia have gotras (clans) such as Shendilya, Kashyap and Bharadwaj. They are also known as Lewa Patil. They speak the Marathi and Telegu languages and use the Devanagari script. A few of them also speak Hindi. The Kharia (Lewa Kunbi) people live in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. A smaller number are in Bangladesh.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Kharia men are non-vegetarian, but their women are vegetarian. Jowar is their staple cereal, and they eat rice occasionally. The economy of the Lewa Kunbi is mainly based on agriculture. They either cultivate their own land or work for others on a share-cropping basis. They participate in the local weekly markets. The problem of alcoholism is prevalent among the men. Five percent of the Kharia population is color blind. The Kharia usually have monogamous marriages, between one man and one woman. The women contribute to the family economy as wage earners and take part in socio-religious activities. During weddings, the perform rituals at the bride and groom's residences. These marriage rituals include the thread wearing ceremony, the exchange of garlands and circumambulating the sacred fire seven times. The Kharia have an association which looks after the socio-economic development of the community.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Kharia worship both family and village deities. The Brahmin officiates as a priest at their rituals. Their traditional customs prevent them from exchanging water and cooked food with certain communities. They worship their ancestors. They love to celebrate the Hindu festival, Diwali. They cremate the dead and observe death pollution for ten days.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kharia people need to address the issue of alcoholism, especially among the men. This problem drains families of needed resources and greatly harms the father’s role as breadwinner and head of the household.
* Scripture Prayers for the Kharia in Bangladesh.
For the salvation of the Kharia people and that God may send several disciplers to work among them and meet their spiritual and physical needs. Pray that the Kharia people may be freed from alcoholism, ancestors' worship, color-blindness, and be able to accept all the communities without caste prejudice. Pray for the Lord to send dreams to their elders, opening their community to the transforming work of Jesus.