Introduction / History
The Nahal are an indigenous people who live in the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Most live in forested, hilly rural areas away from the cities. Traditionally, the Nahal were nomadic hunter-gathers. In recent times they have settled down to live in one area. Their primary means of living is agriculture and animal husbandry. They work on land owned by others and receive a place to live and a small wage for their labor. The Nahal are a Scheduled Tribe meaning that they are guaranteed pubic jobs and special consideration for university admissions. Unfortunately, the Nahal have not been taking advantage of these privileges. The Nahal speak their own languages of Nimadi and Bhili. Some men are able to speak Hindi, so they are able to communicate with outsiders. Illiteracy is a huge issue for the tribal Nahal people. The gospel must be shared with them in oral and visual forms. A tiny fraction of the Nahal claim to be followers of Jesus.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Nahal live impoverished lives both spiritually and materially. Many Nahal children to not attend school. If the crops they are growing fail, the Nahal face starvation. As a tribal people, the Nahal face discrimination in the Hindu caste system. The Nahal are monogamous, which means marriage is between one man and one woman. The Nahal marry within their own group. They have caste councils and village elders to look after them and settle legal disputes. Most Nahal work as agricultural laborers for others. Some work as tenants on tea, coffee, palm and coconut plantations.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Nahal claim to be Hindus. Their brand of Hinduism is heavily influenced by folk religion and ancestor worship. The identity of the Nahal is in being Hindu, so when people take the gospel to them, they are likely to feel threatened by the idea of making the God of the Bible their only God. They believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as rocks, tree, animals and rivers. These evil spirits must be placated, or they can bring disaster upon the Nahal. They go to a village shaman for spiritual and medical needs.
What Are Their Needs?
The Nahal people need to accept the abundant life that only Jesus can offer them. The Nahal would benefit from solar panels being installed in their villages. They need modern medicine and access to clean water. The Nahal need to learn literacy and new job skills. Most of all the Nahal must hear and understand the gospel of Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and deliver them from their fear of evil spirits.
Pray that the council and village leaders of the Nahal come to Jesus Christ and lead others to Him. Pray that gospel recordings will lead them to salvation. Pray the Bible becomes available in the language of Nimadi. Pray that Indian believers go to the Nahal and tell them about the Lord Jesus. Pray that God raises up a disciple making movement among the Nahal in this decade.
Scripture Prayers for the Bhil Nihal in India.