Introduction / History
The Tharu are a tribal people who live in Nepal and India. They live in the foothills and forests of the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. The Tharu see themselves as people of the forest. They gather food and materials from the forests where they live. They hunt animals and fish in the lakes and rivers.
Where Are they Located?
The Indian government has recognized the Tharu as a Scheduled Tribe, meaning they are eligible for public jobs and special university admission. The primary language of the Tharu is Tharu Rana. A New Testament became available in this language in 2017.
The large majority of this tribal people live in Nepal. A smaller group lives in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Tharu were a traditional hunter/gatherer people. They are increasingly moving to an agricultural way of life. The Indian government has outlawed the killing of many animal species that the Tharu are accustomed to hunting. The Tharu plant and harvest rice, maize, lentils and vegetables to supplement the wild fruits, honey and roots they gather from the forest. The Tharu raise chickens for meat and eggs and goats for their meat, milk and hides.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Many of the Tharu villages have an elected leader called a Badghar, a chief elder, to settle legal issues and make important decisions. Many of the Tharu live in long houses with large extended families. Families arrange marriages. Marriage to one spouse is the norm. The Tharu children have only recently started to attend schools. Many Tharu adults are unable to read and to write.
The Tharu Rana people practice Hinduism, heavily influenced by animism. At this popular level, 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. These Hindus believe that in a long run, by performing rituals and good works, they have the chance to attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Tharu also believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. These spirits must be appeases by prayers and offerings or they can bring disaster upon the community.
What Are Their Needs?
The Tharu need to see people following Christ in practical ways. Solar panels could bring them electricity for appliances and cell phones. Agricultural experts can teach the Tharu better ways to farm. Both adults and children need to learn to read and write. They need access to modern medicine. Most of all, the Tharu need to hear and respond to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and get them right with the one, true God.
* Scripture Prayers for the Rana in India.
Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Tharu Rana people.
Pray for the Rana people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Tharu people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Tharu Rana disciples to make more disciples.
Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Tharu communities.