Jhalo Malo in India

Jhalo Malo
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Jhalo Malo
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 487,000
World Population: 711,000
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.10 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Dalit - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Jhalo Malo are a low class group of people who live in Bengali region of northeast India and Bangladesh. Malo means "boatman" in Arabic. The traditional occupation of the Jhalo Malo is that of fishing. They fish with nets in the Bay of Bengal and in the rivers of northeast India.

The Malo also work as landless laborers in agriculture. They constitute a Scheduled Caste in India meaning they are eligible for special consideration for public jobs and university admission.

Unfortunately, the Malo are looked down upon by Indian society. Brahmin castes will not receive food or water from them. Illiteracy is a big problem with many Malo people unable to read or write. The Indian government is trying to raise the educational and economic levels of the Malo. Much work still needs to be done.

The primary language of the Jhalo Malo is Bengali. Others speak Assamese, Hindi and other languages of India.

Where Are they Located?

The largest community of Jhalo Malo lives in the Indian states of west Bengal and Assam. Smaller groups live other regions of north and central India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The lives of the Jhalo Malo are difficult. When fishing is good, they can earn enough money to feed their families. When fishing is bad, they can starve. Landless farm workers often live by the whim of the landowners.

The Jhalo Malo marry within their caste but not within their particular clan or family. Families arrange marriages. Fortunately, child marriage of Jhalo girls is disappearing. Sons inherit what little property a father possesses.

Since most Brahmins refuge to associate with them, the Malo priests officiate at important life ceremonies such as births, weddings and funerals. The Malo dead are cremated often near a river.

The main foods of the Jhalo Malo are fish, rice, curries, vegetables and other grains.

As Hindus, they do not eat beef.

Caste councils promote the Malo interests and decide legal disputes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Jhalo Malo are Hindus and devoted to Vishnu, the preserver god and his avatars, especially Rama and Krishna. Malo are often denied entrance into Hindu temples so they have their own shrines and places of worship.

Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Malo visit shrines and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their god Vishnu and his consort.

The main yearly holidays of the Jhalo Malo people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the celebration of autumn.

What Are Their Needs?

The Jhalo Malo have tremendous spiritual and physical needs. They need help in educating their children. They would benefit by modern medicine. They need help in learning new job skills to escape their poverty. Most of all, they need to hear the life changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Lord sends Christian workers to help the Jhalo Malo.
Pray that the Jhalo Malo turn away from Vishnu and open their hearts to Jesus.
Pray that Indian Christians would reach out and share the gospel with them.
Pray that whole families of the Jhalo Malo are brought to the Savior and that Bible believing churches are planted in the Malo people.

Text Source:   David Kugel