Iruliga in India

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Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Iruliga
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 16,000
World Population: 16,000
Primary Language: Kannada
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.01 %
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 Iruliga are a small tribal people who live in south India. The Iruliga were traditionally hunters and gatherers of forest products. They call themselves the devotees of the forest. They used to live in caves but with the help of the government have built houses of stone with tile roofs. The Iruliga used to catch and eat rats and snakes, which gained them the distain of others. As the wildlife of the forests declined, the Iruliga became agricultural workers.

The Iruliga are a Scheduled Tribe meaning that they are eligible for public jobs and special university admissions. The literacy of the Iruliga is quite low although this is beginning to change with access to government schools for their children. The main language of the Iruliga is Kannada. A whole Bible and many Christian resources are available in Kannada.

Where Are they Located?

The Iruliga people live in the south Indian state of Karnataka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Like most tribal peoples of India, the Iruliga live in poverty. The government gave their forestlands to others. Most Iruliga, including their children, now work as landless farm workers. They work on land that produces tea, coffee, rice, bananas, palm products, and nuts. Some collect and sell firewood. The Iruliga marry within their group. Marriage to one spouse is the normal practice. Sons inherit the property of their father. Families arrange marriages. Girls are often married at a young age. The Iruliga are not vegetarian but as Hindus will not eat beef. Rice and vegetables are their stables.

Dancing plays a large part in Iruliga life rituals. Both the men and women dance to drums in funerals, weddings and births.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Iruliga people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. At the 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 as Christians do. The Iruliga make statues of their gods with mud.

As with other tribal peoples, the Hinduism of the Iruliga is heavily mixed with animism, the belief that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. These spirits must be appeased or they can bring disaster upon the Iruliga community.

What Are Their Needs?

The Iruliga have many needs. They need access to modern medicine and schools for their children. Solar panels can bring electricity for appliances. They need to learn new job skills so they can advance in Indian society. Most of all, they need to hear and respond to the message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and deliver them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to raise up a strong disciple making movement to saturate the hearts and minds of the Iruliga people.
Pray for God's blessing, strengthening and healing of Iruliga families and communities within this people group through the abundant life Jesus offers to all who call on His name.
Pray for God's blessing on the leaders in this people group, along with their families, and for their communities to welcome and enjoy God's blessing.
Pray for the Lord to multiply the reception and influence of His Word among this people group, leading them to love Him with their whole being.

Text Source:   Keith Carey