The Assamese of Bhutan
The Assamese primarily inhabit the state of Assam, which is located in northeastern India. However, more than 160,000 Assamese can also be found in neighboring Bhutan. Their native language is called Asami, an Indo-Aryan language that is closely associated with Tibeto-Burman dialects.
The Assamese first came to the southeastern regions of Bhutan from nearby India. However, their attempts to settle were challenged by confrontations with the native Bhutanese. In the seventeenth century, the British fixed the Assam-Bhutan border, thus resolving the conflict.
Today, the Assamese form only a small minority in Bhutan, the "land of the dragons". They dwell in southern Bhutan's humid, subtropical climate, where an average of 80 inches (2,000 mm) of rain falls each year. The land and climate are much like that of Assam, where they originated. It is a country filled with beautiful rivers, valleys, and mountains reaching 5,000 ft (1,500 m).
What Are Their Lives Like?
Since most of the land inhabited by the Assamese is used for cultivation, a majority of them are farmers. An abundance of rice, corn, potatoes, wheat, and citrus fruits is grown. Medicinal herbs also flourish throughout the hillsides. Pigs, cattle, and chickens are usually raised on the farms.
Highways have been constructed through the area, linking India with Bhutan. This facilitates free trade between the two countries. In addition to farming, some Assamese work at local manufacturing industries that specialize in the production of such things as food, cement, and lumber.
Small villages are scattered throughout the region. Houses are usually made of bamboo, mud, and thatch, much like the huts of the Assamese who live in India. They grow rice in small fields around their homes, which allows them to easily keep an eye on the crop. Most villages are self-sufficient and have enough food, so there is little need for response to outside influence and change. In contrast to Assam, there are no cities or towns in this region of Bhutan, allowing the Assamese to continue enjoying a rural lifestyle.
Rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, monkeys, and other wild animals roam the area. The grasslands often grow so dense and high that even elephants have difficulty wandering through the region.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Although Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist, 80% of the Assamese living there are Hindus. Hindus worship millions of gods, including the "creator god" and the "god of destruction." Animals as well as humans are believed to have souls. Cows are sacred, but animals such as snakes and monkeys are also revered.
Hindus believe that horoscopes and astrology can determine a person's fate. They use these methods to choose the right mate, to select an occupation, and to calculate a person's time of death. Another important teaching is that the soul never dies. They believe that when the body dies the soul is reborn, or reincarnated, as either an animal or a human. Religious rituals are constantly practiced to ensure the next life will be better than the present one. Prayers are recited upon waking; baths are usually taken before meals; certain foods are only eaten on particular dishes; and different garments are worn while eating and sleeping.
Hindus are divided into social classes known as "castes." Generally, those belonging to the lower castes are poor, while those in the upper castes are educated and wealthy.
What Are Their Needs?
Currently, there are two missions agencies working among the Assamese of Bhutan. Both the Jesus film and the Bible are available in the Asami language. Despite all of this, there are still less than 500 Assamese believers in this region.
About 90% of the adults in Bhutan cannot read or write. Perhaps the need for teachers will open a door of opportunity for Christians to live among the Assamese and share the love of Christ with them.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Assamese bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies targeting the Assamese.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film as it is shown among the Assamese.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in the Asami language.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will create a hunger in the hearts of the Assamese to know the one true God.
- Ask God to encourage, and protect the Assamese believers in Bhutan.
- Pray that God will raise up Christian teachers who are willing to live and work among the Assamese.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Assamese.
See also the following Assamese groups:
The Assamese of India;
The Assamese of Bangladesh.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Assamese
- Country: Bhutan
- Their language: Asami
- Largest religion:
- Christians: Less than 1%
- Church members: 491
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 74,200 (46%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 89,600 (54%)
- Country: Bhutan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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