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The Porja of India

[IMAGE] The Porja (or Konda-Dora) are located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Orissa, primarily in the Koraput district of Assam. They speak a Dravidian language called Konda-Dora, (konda meaning "hill" and dora meaning "leader"). This name was given to them because of their descent from the great Kondh tribe. Some of the educated Porja are bilingual, speaking both Telugu and their native language. Many who live along roads through Araku are also fluent in Adiwasi Oriya.

The Porja are well established as two groups: the Pedda ("big") Kondalu and Chinna ("small") Kondalu. The Pedda Kondalu have retained most aspects of their traditional culture; however, the Chinna Kondalu have been heavily influenced by the Telugu. The Porja classify all non-Porja as paik-lok, which literally means "policeman" or "revenue official." It refers to an untrustworthy and harmful character who is responsible for their present wretched condition.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Porja are farmers and day laborers. They use bulls to cultivate burned clearings called swiddens. After farming an area for two or three years, they abandon their houses, move to a different location, and make new land clearings. In Andhra Pradesh, the state government has planned a massive irrigation program for the next 15 years. However, most of the Porja in that area continue to use dry farming and are very dependent on rainfall. Consequently, they can only raise crops of low value. To supplement their meager earnings, many of the men collect firewood for the women to sell. A large number of others breed goats.

The Porja live in houses made of wattle thatch (poles intertwined with twigs, reeds, or branches). Wealthier families have larger two- or three-room houses made with stone pillars and brick walls. Each village is a "land owning unit" with boundary lines that were marked during the days of feudal chiefs. There is also a system of inter-village lending of land for temporary cultivation.

The Porja are one of India's "scheduled" tribes, formerly known as "the untouchables." It is said that about half of the fertile land in the Scheduled Tribal Areas is under cultivation by non-tribal groups. Therefore, the Porja are waiting for government officials to enforce the land transfer regulations, which would evict the non-tribals. Unfortunately, the officials are making very little effort to enforce this policy.

Among the Porja, the family is the smallest social unit. It is both patriarchal (male dominated) and patrilineal (descent through male lineage). The eldest male is the head of the family. Cross cousin marriages are preferred, and marriages are often polygamous (having multiple spouses).

The Porja are expert dancers, singers, and musicians. Their tribal dance is quite unique, and without it they feel that their lives would be mundane and meaningless. In the dance, women imitate certain animal movements and elements of nature, while men play the instruments and sing.

The Porja dress much like the Telugu. Men typically wear shirts and dhotis (loin cloths), and women wear blouses with long saris (colorful wrap-around dresses). They also enjoy wearing glass bangles, nose-rings, earrings, and beaded necklaces.

What are their beliefs?
The religious system of the Porja blends their traditional beliefs with Vaishnavite Hinduism. This Hindu sect worships Vishnu ("the protector and preserver of the worlds"), as well as millions of other deities. They believe that the gods and goddesses dwell in the trees and stones.

What are their needs?
The Porja need improved health care facilities and greater educational opportunities. Perhaps Christian teachers, humanitarian aid workers, and medical missionaries will have the greatest opportunities to minister to them. Sadly, the three missions agencies targeting the Porja have had very little success. A translation of the Bible, Christian broadcasts, and increased missions efforts are needed. Above all, intercession must be made so that the spiritual strongholds surrounding the Porja may be broken.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to begin breaking up the spiritual soil of India through worship and intercession.
  • Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Porja.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up long term workers to join the few who have already responded.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work begun in the hearts of the Porja believers through adequate discipleship.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Konda-Dora.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Porja towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Porja bound.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Porja church for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Porja
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Konda-Dora
  • Population: (1990) 23,500
    (1995) 25,800
    (2000) 28,200
  • Largest religion: Hindu 99.1%
  • Christian: <1%
  • Church members: 227
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 5,900 (23%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,500 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 4,400 (17%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 19,900 (77%)
  • Country: India
  • Population: (1990) 850,638,100
    (1995) 935,744,300
    (2000) 1,022,021,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Hindi (High Hindi) 9.5%
    Telegu 7.8%
    Maratha 7.4%
    Bengali 6.4%
    Hindi (Bazaar, Popular) 5.5%
  • Major religions: Hindus 78.2%
    Muslims 12%
    Christians 4.3%
  • Number of denominations: 163

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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