Introduction / History
Traditionally the Siyal people tapped palm trees for a juice that can be made into either molasses or toddy, an alcoholic beverage that is popular in rural India. They have Scheduled Caste status, which means they are near the bottom of the Hindu pecking order.
Where Are they Located?
Most of the Hindu Siyal people live in Odisha, though they also live further south in Tamil Nadu.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Though they sometimes still harvest juice from palm trees, the Siyal people sometimes own small farms in which they grow their own food. Many others are landless, and they work as laborers for others. They are so poor that only the few wealthy members of their community can afford to cremate their dead, something that is taken for granted with most other Hindu peoples. Also because of their poverty, their children rarely attain an adequate education.
What Are Their Beliefs?
When a Siyal girl attains puberty, she is secluded for a week. The morning of the seventh day, she applies turmeric paste to her body, takes a bath, then puts on new clothes before going to a Shiva temple to make an offering of a coconut as a form of worship.
This people group has plenty of contact with other communities since they share the same roads, villages and Hindu shrines. They attend the same Hindu festivals as others.
The Siyal people practice Hinduism, and they worship various gods as well as their ancestors. They have village deities, and they visit shrines along with other Hindu communities.
What Are Their Needs?
This Hindu people group needs to put their faith in the King of kings, who alone can provide for all their spiritual and economic needs.
Pray for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done among the Siyal people.
Pray for a movement of Siyal households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Siyal people to the arms of Jesus.
Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Siyal people.
Scripture Prayers for the Siyal in India.
Peoples of India: Odisha, vol XVI, part 2, pp. 1408-12, K.S. Singh