Dewas Rai in Nepal

Dewas Rai
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People Name: Dewas Rai
Country: Nepal
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 10,000
World Population: 10,000
Primary Language: Dewas Rai
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Wikipedia indicates that Rai means King. They are descendants of the Kirat Kingdom. The Dewas Rai belong to a cluster of people known as the Rai, the largest ethnic group in eastern Nepal. Each of the Rai groups speaks a different dialect and has its own religious beliefs. Their languages have transformed from the original language to a mixture of local dialects, from which most take their names. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Rai are also called Khambu. They are indigenous to eastern Nepal, living west of the Arun River in the area drained by the Sun Kosi River, at elevations of 5,500–7,700 feet. Some Rai also live in southwestern Bhutan. With the Limbu and Magar peoples, the Rai communities supplied the bulk of the Gurkha contingent to the British-Indian armies.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Collectively, the Rai are known as very courageous, daring and fearless people. In recent history, they have won worldwide respect for their bravery in the Royal Nepalese Army. Joining the army is often a way out of enduring economic hardship, but it also brings respect and honor, especially for those who reach high military rank. The Encyclopedia Britannica indicates that the Rai are subsistence farmers and stock raisers, depending primarily on crops of rice, corn (maize), and millet. They terrace the mountains for wet rice paddies and build their stone houses in the dry rice fields. They are also expert weavers. In the past the Rai traded grains and buffalo hides for salt and other goods with the Sherpas. Their basic economic and political unit is the kinship group, which contains several endogamous subdivisions. Among the Dewas Rai, weddings are very festive occasions. Some marriages are facilitated by middlemen, who work out the details of the marriage. Families receive gifts; if accepted, they will set a marriage date. Other marriages are facilitated by the "arranged kidnapping" of the girl of one's choice. Many believe that this method brings about good results. At the wedding, the parents of the bride and groom receive gifts, as well as to a long line of family members and village elders. They might sacrifice an animal, usually a pig or rooster, at this time. They serve an abundance of meat and drinks at their weddings. One favorite beverage is made from barley and potatoes. Often the whole night is spent in singing and celebration.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although influenced by both Buddhism and Hinduism, the Rai retain their traditional religion, a worship of local deities and common ancestors. The Dewas Rai subgroup are considered 100 percent Hindu, with few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christian of any kind. They have little, if any, history of Christianity.

What Are Their Needs?

Nepal has long been hidden away and forgotten by much of the world. The government of Nepal is opposed to any form of proselytizing; and so government restrictions apply, but most of the time Christians can follow their religion. There is more interference from family members than from the government. All Dewas Rai people in Nepal use their Dewas Rai language as their primary language. However, SIL research as of 2019 indicates the language vitality of the Dewas Rai is slowly weakening. Bible portions and audio Bible teaching (GRN) are available in Dewas Rai, though there’s not yet a complete New Testament or Bible, and the JESUS Film is not yet available.

Prayer Points

Ask God to call out prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will raise up long-term laborers to live and work among the Rai. Ask for more Bible translation that would lead to a complete New Testament and Bible in the Dewas Rai language. Pray also for other audio-visual resources in the Dewas Rai language, including the JESUS Film. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the Dewas Rai to receive Christ. Pray for believers to arise and be discipled, leading to a Disciple Making Movement that blesses Dewas Rai leaders, families and communities throughout this Rai subgroup. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of Nepal's governmental leaders to the gospel. Ask the Lord to raise up a holy Church among Nepal’s Dewas Rai for the glory of His name!

Text Source:   Joshua Project