Yenadi in India

Photo Source:  John Kless 
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Yenadi
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 644,000
World Population: 644,000
Primary Language: Telugu
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.84 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Yenadi are located in Andhra Pradesh, southern India. They live primarily in the districts of Nellore and Chittoor, as well as other nearby districts. They speak Yanadi, which belongs to the Telugu language family.

For many years, the Yenadi lived in isolation on the island of Sri Harikota, off the Nellore district. In 1835, the British government took possession of the island. Schools and industries were opened to try to "civilize" them by showing them a more modern way of life. The government's effort, however, was of no avail. When India became independent in 1947, and British administration ended.

The Yenadi are dark skinned people, short in stature. Many believe them to be tribal because of their simple ways; others believe them to be a part of a caste system. They are divided into two groups: the Manchi Yenadi, who belong to the small superior class; and the Challa Yenadi. The two groups seldom intermarry.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Yenadi are mainly rural farmers, although some work as dairy farmers. Seasonal forest products such as herbs, wood, and grass for making brooms, provide extra income. Some of the urban Challa Yanadi do toilet and street cleaning. They may also catch frogs and snakes for trade, or gather honey to sell in the markets.

Some of the Yenadi are semi-nomadic, moving every few years in search of work or good sources of forest products. Unfortunately, many of the forests have been depleted in recent years, and the best farm areas are now owned by wealthy landowners. For this reason, some of the Yanadi work as hired farm hands.

Yenadi villages consist of low, cone-shaped huts built of bamboo and palm leaves, grass, or millet stalks, and smooth mud walls. The government has also supplied cement structures in some locations. Since the Yenadi generally eat, cook, and sleep outside, the huts' are built only as a protection from the sun and rain. Each village has a headman who is strongly respected and obeyed; his word is law.

The Yenadi diet includes rice eaten with vegetable soup, various wild greens, and other vegetables. Their food tends to be spicy. Meat is only eaten a few times a month. Wild pigs, rabbits, lizards, and rodents are eaten by those living near the forests.

The Yenadi have a freedom in marriage of which many other Hindu groups disapprove. For instance, separations are common and if someone wants to change his marriage partner, he is free to do so. The women seem to have more rights in choosing their husbands than do the typical rural, southern Indian women. A thin cord with a small pendant is worn around a married woman's neck. A toe ring is also worn on her second toe.

Education standards are low for the Yenadi. Only about one-tenth are literate. India's government has set up schools to increase the literacy rate. However, in some villages, this effort seems worthless, since even the teachers may fail to show up at the schools.

The Yenadi are friendly and are more open with their emotions than other groups in the area. Their special love for music and dance also makes them unique. Their favorite instruments are drums and small stringed instruments.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yenadi are nearly all Hindu. They have pictures of their gods in their homes and small shrines are usually located in each village. Annual festivals are held in worship of their favorite gods. The gods supposedly favor some and dislike others, depending on whether or not a ritual or penance is done to the god's satisfaction. Good luck and fate are important to the Yenadi. Charms, amulets, and "lucky people" are believed to generate good fortune.

What Are Their Needs?

Better educational and housing facilities are needed. Perhaps Christian teachers and humanitarian aid workers will have open doors to reach the Yanadi.

Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Yenadi.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect missionaries that are trying to reach them.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Yenadi towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.

Text Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center