People of higher caste consider the millions of Chamar, "the untouchable" scattered throughout India, unclean. The Chamar are despised because of their work skinning and tanning animal hides, which involves handling the carcasses of animals. Hindus believe that those who handle unclean objects, such as leather are defiled. No Indian would chose such a trade; the Chamar are born to it. Hindu teachings explain that the Chamar were born into their families as punishment for the evil deeds of their past lives. They therefore deserve to be treated poorly. The Chamar and other Dalits, or oppressed people, as they call themselves, often live on the outskirts of towns and villages. Some Dalits are leather-workers, while others are responsible for burying or cremating the dead, or scavenge for a living. In 1949 the Indian government passed laws forbidding the use of the term "untouchables" and prohibiting discrimination against the Dalit. Caste barriers have now relaxed to the point where Dalit children may attend local schools. Enough of these untouchables came to Christ through people movements in the last century to brand Christianity as the religion of despised classes in the eyes of many Indians. Yet today many Dalit groups remain totally unreached with the gospel.
Righteous God, we rejoice that the Chamar people will one day know justice. Save them from bitterness and protect them from abuse from higher castes within their communities.
Radia was born into a world that always works. At age ten, she has already worked for five years as a sweeper. Her employer belongs to a higher middle class caste. There she does the washing, cleaning, sweeping, and shopping. She earns only 21 rupees per month, which she hands over to her mother for food and clothing. Radia does not play any childhood games. She has no toys, no money, no education, and no entertainment. Radia is a member of the Balmiki caste, a sweeper or sanitation worker. Like the leather-workers, sweepers are outcasts, considered unclean by other Hindus. Most sweepers, like Radia, live in the present moment, unaware that there are luxuries in life. Their lives revolve around work, the next meal, and a dry place to lay their head in the monsoons. They live in poverty and without education. The Balmiki have little or no knowledge of the Bible or Jesus. Thankfully, a number of Christian agencies are rising to the challenge of reaching these people, trying to reach entire families for Jesus.
God of hope, show the Balmiki the powerful truth of your love for them.
|Landless Laborers||Homeland: India|
While many of India's Hindus define themselves and others by caste or language, both of these are often linked to occupation. Many Indians live in communities with others who make their living in the same way. When the gospel comes into an Indian society, it often spreads through these occupational communities. Even in their loss of an occupation, groups like the landless laborers see themselves as having something in common and feel camaraderie with one another. These landless laborers find their place in Indian society as the result of an extremely powerful landlord class established by the British. Today this class has thwarted the government attempts at land reform. Theoretically, feudalism has been abolished and replaced with fair limits on the amount of land an individual can own. In reality the landlord class continues to monopolize the agricultural market. Poor farmers cannot afford expensive seed and fertilizer, machines, and irrigation systems. They are forced to either work for the more successful farmers or seek another role in society. Each year more migrants move to the large cities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi looking for work.
Lord, you are the refuge for the oppressed. Provide employment and salvation for these workers.
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