The Tripuri of Bangladesh
Over 83,000 Tripuri live in the central region of eastern Bangladesh, bordering the Indian state of Tripura. Tripura is their native land and is known as the Tripura Plains, a part of the greater Brahmaputra-Ganges Plains. The largest tribe in the state, the Tripuri once extended over much of Bangladesh, Assam, and northern Burma. Their ancestors, the Bodo tribes, were once the most important Indo-Mongoloid people in eastern India. Even now, their Tripuri descendants have special legal privileges in the state of Tripura. Forty-two percent of state services are reserved for "scheduled tribe" candidates (formerly known as "the untouchables").
Their dialect forms part of the Bodo group of Baric languages in the Tibeto-Burman linguistic family. Kok Borok literally means "language people", and it is the medium of instruction through the primary level in education.
What are their lives like?
Most Tripuri in Bangladesh are semi-nomadic farmers. They still practice "slash and burn" agriculture on the hill sides, going to new fields every two years. The hill peoples are hunters and gatherers of forest products as well as farmers, but their practice of shifting cultivation prevents them from establishing permanent villages.
In the vast alluvial plains, the Tripuri grow jute, rice, wheat, and sugarcane. Bangladesh has few natural resources apart from its farm land, which is inadequate to feed the large and rapidly growing population. Rice and wheat are the main crops, occupying most of the cultivated land. Their biggest fear is seasonal cyclones that flood the area and cause great damage to the crops and villages. Boats are used as a primary means of transportation, especially in the rainy season.
The Tripuri are a very poor people. They have no access to pure drinking water and are in understandably poor health. Their villages are small, nuclear settlements huddled close to the river valleys. Their tiny, one-room houses are generally made of perishable materials such as mud or bamboo, though some have tin walls. Wealthier homes are occasionally made of wood and have tile roofs. The village is run by a village headman and is divided into clans and castes (rigid social classes).
All Bodo tribes observe tribal and often village endogamy (marriage only within the designated group). Young people are generally free to pick their marriage partners, needing only their parents' permission. Promiscuity before marriage is freely tolerated, although an unplanned pregnancy leads to immediate marriage. Polygamy (having multiple spouses) is permitted, but uncommon. Newlywed couples generally live with one set of in-laws after marriage. Only after they have had several of their own children will they build a separate home of their own.
What are their beliefs?
The Tripuri are primarily Hindu, worshipping millions of gods and goddesses. Most Hindus, but not all, believe in a supreme being. Some respect all life and eat only vegetables, while others will gladly eat meat from sacrifices in the temple. An almost universal belief in reincarnation (continual cycle of death and rebirth) is one of the few unifying features. Contrary to popular belief in the West, Hinduism is not an ancient, static set of beliefs that are easily described; it is a body of customs, practices, and beliefs which go through major changes every few hundred years.
What are their needs?
Severe overcrowding, an inadequate food supply, and poor sanitary conditions all create extremely poor health conditions in Bangladesh. A significant number of citizens suffer from such infectious diseases as malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis. Government efforts to improve health conditions in Bangladesh have failed, mostly because of the country's shortage of physicians and modern medical facilities.
As of 1995, the New Testament was reported to be at press in the Kok Borok language. However, the Jesus film and other Christian materials are still needed to effectively reach these precious people with the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities that are keeping the Tripuri bound.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Tripuri.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that the Lord will raise up long term workers to join the few who have already responded.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other Christian materials into the Kok Borok language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Tripuri Christians.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tripuri.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Tripuri
- Country: Bangladesh
- Their language: Kok Borok
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 1%
- Church members: 840
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 4
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 20,900 (25%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 62,800 (75%)
- Country: Bangladesh
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 43
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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