Open Collections

UBC Press

Tribal Christianity (and allied castes) in the Himalayas Christopher, Stephen Jun 15, 2018

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


641-Christopher_Stephen_Tribal_christianity_himalayas_2018.pdf [ 599.73kB ]
JSON: 641-1.0385837.json
JSON-LD: 641-1.0385837-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 641-1.0385837-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 641-1.0385837-rdf.json
Turtle: 641-1.0385837-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 641-1.0385837-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 641-1.0385837-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Poll: Religious Group (v6) Published on: 15 June 2018Date Range: 1950 CE - 2018 CERegion: Himalayan tribal Christianity (and tribal-allied groups)Region tags: Asia, South Asia, Nepal, Bhutan, India,North India, Himalayas, Northeast IndiaThe spread of Christianity (predominately Anglican,Catholic and United Evangelical Lutheran) into theTribal Christianity (and allied castes) in theHimalayasBy Stephen Christopher, Kyoto UniversityEntry tags: Catholic, Protestantism, Dalit Christianity, Tribal Christianity, Himalayan Christianity, Anglican,Christian Traditions, Religious GroupThe tribal Christian population of the high Himalayas and low-lying hills spans five countries (India, Nepal,Pakistan, Bhutan and China) and contested boarderlands (Tibet, Sikkim, Aksai Chin and Kashmir, amongothers). It encompasses approximately 6 million people. The largest Christian tribal populations are 4.9million converted Baptists, Presbyterians and Catholics in Northeast India and 375,000 EvangelicalProtestants in Nepal (a figure sometimes rounded up to 1 million) -- arguably the fastest-growing Christianpopulation in the world. Small but important Christian tribal communities are in Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh,Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir. The historical timeline of tribal conversion toChristianity depends on the region and date of missionary penetration into the hills. The Portuguese JesuitJoão Cabral was arguably the first European to access the Himalayan region in 1627 with missionarydesigns. Since then, thousands of missionaries have come into the Himalayan region, from the London-based Church Missionary Society (Punjab region through the 20th century) to the recent explosion ofSouth Korean missionaries populating language institutes and centered in the Kathmandu Valley.Indigenous house churches have sprouted up in remote tribal villages. Himalayan tribal Christianity fallsinto a broad spectrum of official affiliation. Some expressions of tribal Christianity are largely indigenousand invisible; they address local aspirations and offer respite from spiritual affliction and castediscrimination within circumscribed tribal cosmologies and social stratifications. Other expressions of tribalChristianity are hooked into international NGOs and global ideoscapes promoting salvation that arebacked by foreign patronage and theological instruction; they are networked through social mediaplatforms and employ a range of conversion techniques associated with Western (and South Korean)Evangelicalism. In some cases, tribal Christianity in the Himalayas allows discriminated-against Dalitgroups who are embedded within tribal formations to find self-respect and social validation within thenew idiom of salvation and equality under Yesu Masih (Jesus Christ). Although Christians are persecutedthroughout South Asia, overt violence against the minority religion is not as strongly evident in theHimalayan tribal range as it is in Pakistan and non-Himalayan India states (especially Tamil Nadu, UttarPradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, where in 2007-08 in Kandhamal District 50 Christians were killed and95 churches burned down). The rise of right-wing Hindutva politics since 2014 and the disproportionatecriminalization of Christian conversion as coercive have pushed Christianity further into the social marginseverywhere through India, including the Himalayan tribal belt. As would be expected, Christian tribals inthe Himalayas are not strongly unified around their minority religious status; divided by language,geography and often theology and sectarian affiliation, they are sometimes balkanized into subdividingcommunities. Nevertheless, they are conceptually and anthropologically interconnected as a Pan-Himalayan community of faith, spiritual aspiration and unique forms of theological syncretism.DOI: URL: work is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution 4.0 International license.Please see our Terms of Use here: 1 of 43© 2019 Database of Religious History.The University of British Columbia.For any questions contactproject.manager@religiondatabase.orgHimalayan region and among tribal and tribal-aligned communities at its greatest extant in thecontemporary period.Status of Participants:✓ Non-elite (common people, general populace)SourcesPrint sources for understanding this subject:Notes: Taken together, these scholarly works describe the historical interplay of Christian missionariesand colonial power in the Punjabi foothills of the Himalayas, the effects of rapidly-rising Christianaffiliation among Tamang (loss of traditional authority and increased individualism, among others), anda historical overview of Christianity in a broader context. For other important works on Scheduled TribalChristianity in South Asia and especially the Himalayas, see: 1. Augustine, Sali. 2011. "Violence agaisntChristians in India: Mobilization of Adivasis and Dalits as the Un-reached and the Foot-soldiers." TheJournal of Sophia Asian Studies 29(39-54). 2. Hedlund, Roger E. 2000. Christianity is Indian: theemergence of an indigenous community. Mylapore: ISPCK. 3. Chaube, S.K. 1999. "The Scheduled Tribesand Christianity in India." Economic and Political Weekly 34(9):524-526. 4. Roy-Burman, B K. 1972."Integrated Area Approach to the Problems of the Hill Tribes of the North-East" in K Suresh Singh TheTribal Situation in India. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. 5. Sinha, Surajit Chandra. 1982."Tribal Solidarity Movements in India: A Review" in Buddhadev Chaudhuri Tribal Development in India. 6.Minz, Nirmal. 1997. Rise up, my people, and claim the promise: the Gospel among the tribes of India.Delhi: Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 7. Christopher, Stephen. 2018. "Dalit Margins:Tribal Belonging and State Recognition in the Western Himalayas." PhD diss., Syracuse University. 8.Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity in India. 2010. Edited by Rowena Robinson & JosephMarianus Kujur. Delhi: Sage Publications.Online sources for understanding this subject:Source 1: Cox, Jeffrey. 2002. Imperial Fault Lines: Christianity and Colonial Power in India, 1818-1940.Stanford: Stanford University Press.—Source 2: Ripert, Blandine. 2002. “Improbable Globalization: Individualization and Christianizationamong the Tamangs.” In Facing Globalization in the Himalyas: Belonging and the Politics of the Self,edited by Gerrard Toffin and Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, 45-62. London: Sage Publications.—Source 3: Webster, John C.B. 2007. A Social History of Christianity: North-west India Since 1800. Delhi:Oxford University Press.—Source 1 URL:—Source 1 Description: Created in 2008, the Himalayan Mission Archive Collection at the Yale DivinitySchool Library. It includes the archives of Christian organizations operating in the Himalayas. Included isThe Nepal Church History Project, a 1985 Nepalese project to preserve church history; The InternationalNepal Fellowship, which preserves health-related documents by a Christian medical NGO; the CentralAsia Fellowship, founded in 1989 in order to convert Tibetan Buddhists living throughout the Himalayas;and The United Mission to Nepal, an INGO started in 1954 dealing with health and agriculture.—Source 2 URL:—Source 2 Description: An example of an American-Scandinavian Evangelical NGO. Their motto is "LinkingGod’s People to Reach the Unreached". Although global in scope, it incldues posts about Christian—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 2 of 43Notes: Taken together, these resources span an archival database of major Christian missionary efforts,an example of Western-backed missionary efforts in the region, and an indigenous missions groupfocused on small-scale house churches.Relevant online primary textual corpora (original languages and/or translations):Notes: A representative sample of an indigenous effort to promote Christianity within a small tribaldialect (Gaddi), a large-scale effort to promote Christianity in a national language (Nepalese), and asocial network of Himalayan Christians.General VariablesMembership/Group InteractionsAre other religious groups in cultural contact with target religion:missionary work in the Himalayas -- such as the above testimonial by a Bhutanese former TibetanBuddhist and his description of the spread of 200 house churches under the auspies of the Free Churchof Finland Mission.Source 3 URL:—Source 3 Description: A small-scale, Kathmandu-based missionary group. Founded by David Prasai, it isrepresentative of many such grassroots Christian movements in the Himalayas.—Source 1 URL:—Source 1 Description: A Gaddi-language website for biblical study created by Christian converts amongthe Hali sub-caste of the Gaddi community.—Source 2 URL:—Source 2 Description: Based in Kathmandu, NBS is a online resource provided through United BibleSocieties (UBS). It went online as an officially-registered NGO in 2007, although it was created in 1975. Itprovides Nepali-language biblical resources (textual and audio) and gives news and updates regardingChristian observances.—Source 3 URL:—Source 3 Description: A community Facebook page with over 25,000 subscribers of Nepalese Christians.It is described as "a common place where Nepali Christians can share, participate, request payers andbuild up their own community profile." The Facebook page has 100s of uploaded videos and picturesshowing Nepalese Christian worship conferences and teachings.—Source 1 URL:—Source 1 Description: Ladakh Buddhist Association interrogation of a blind Christian Ladakhi who wasbeaten by locals (allegedly LBA employees) and pressured to reconvert to Buddhism. Such videos arecommon throughout the Himalayas and are used by both parties: Christians to show persecution andnon-Christians (usually Hindus and Buddhists) to show social breakdown due to coercive conversiontactics.—Yes—Is the cultural contact competitive:Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 3 of 43Notes: The Christianization of Himalayan tribal groups often runs into cultural contestationwith traditional forms of knowledge and sociality. For example, the Christian Lepchas inDarjeeling District and in southern Sikkim face intense criticism from Buddhist Lepchas (see"Vanishing Lepcha: Change and Cultural Revival in a Mountain Community of Sikkim" by JennyBentley in the Bulletin of Tibetology).Yes—Is the cultural contact accommodating/pluralistic:Notes: Even in the Lepcha case described above, Buddhists and Christians are still integratedin village dynamics. Virouland (2004) argues that Magar converts in Nepal experiencePentecostalism as congruent with Tibeto-Burman shamanistic possession rituals. Christianity isseen as revitalizing and integrating extant syncretistic practices and not as a conceptualdeparture. Likewise, Blandine Ripert (2014) cites Nima Ghising, a globetrotting Tamang pastorwhose sermons are widely disseminated on YouTube, as arguing for the conceptual crossoverof Tamang and Christian themes of malign spirits and the afterlife. These harmonizing aspectsof Christianity within a tribal milieu suggests pluralism and accommodation, not culturalrupture and group competition.Yes—Is the cultural contact neutral:Notes: In some cases, Christian conversion is treated neutrally by the dominant tribalcommunity. This may be due to relative ignorance about what Christianity is and how it ispracticed (as is the case among Gaddis, a Hindu tribe in Himachal Pradesh). Gaddi tribals arecaste Hindus who often disregard the low-status Gaddi groups who convert to Christianity. Thisdisregard is not necessarily negatively coded and can be described as neutral cultural contact.Yes—Is there violent conflict (within sample region):Notes: See Nicholas Gier's "The Origins of Religious Violence" (2014, Lexington Books) for stateviolence against Bhutanese Christians during the First Shabdrung. On the other hand, allegedviolence enacted by Christians in the Himalayas is documented here( In India, the VHS, BJP and even the Congress in Himachal Pradesh routinelywarn the legislature about the danger of Christian conversion and their coercive tactics(warnings that fuel anti-Christian violence).Yes—Is there violent conflict (with groups outside the sample region):Notes: Christians are generally a persecuted minority in India and face extreme violence byHindu extremists. For a scholarly review of the situation across India, see Chad Bauman's"Hindu-Christian Conflict in India: Globalization, Conversion and the Coterminal Castes andTribes" (The Journal of Asian Studies 72(3):633–53).Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 4 of 43Does the religious group have a general process/system for assigning religious affiliation:Yes—Assigned at birth (membership is default for this society):Notes: Although Christian affiliation is based on personal conviction at the theological level, ineveryday practice it is often assumed at birth and correlates with caste/clan affiliation.Anglicans and Catholics may be more likely to consider their religious belief default if born intosuch a family, while Protestants and Evangelicals may emphasize the importance of childrentaken personal declarations of faith to be formally inducted into the Christian community.No—Assigned by personal choice:Notes: Many Evangelical and Protestant tribal Christians emphasize the personal choice ofreligious conviction and de-emphasize the strong correlation between clan belonging andChristian conversion. In short, caste/clan groups may convert to Christianity en masse andcreate strong communal ties to the faith that in a sense de-emphasize personal choice.Yes—Assigned by class:Notes: For example, Halis are both the lowest caste and class of the Gaddi community (inChamba and Kangra Districts of Himachal Pradesh) and the most likely to convert toProtestantism. See Stephen Christopher's PhD dissertation Tribal Margins, especially Chapter 4Protestant Promises: Spiritual Torment and Aspirational Hermeneutics.Notes: For example, Halis are both the lowest caste and class of the Gaddi community (inChamba and Kangra Districts of Himachal Pradesh) and the most likely to convert toProtestantism.Yes—Yes—Assigned at a specific age:No—Assigned by gender:Notes: Nathanial Roberts's "To Be Cared For" (2016, 186) describes “two ways of conceptualizingspiritual power” among house churches in Chennai slums: “The first was overt and hierarchicaland centered on the person of the pastor. Of equal or greater significance, however, werequasi-autonomous organizational networks among church women”. These two bases ofspiritual authority – literate and charismatic male pastors hooked into NGOs and churchcongregants, largely women, who draw on experiential authority and local prestige – exist in asometimes complementary, sometimes combative dialectic (Roberts 2016, 186). He goes on toattribute the lopsidedness of female Christian devotion to structural dependence on men,poverty, and higher rates of self-reporting worry. Although his work is grounded in Chennai, itYes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 5 of 43Does the religious group actively proselytize and recruit new members:certainly holds true to Himalayan tribal Christian affiliation, as well.Assigned by participation in a particular ritual:Notes: Tribal Christians in the Himalayas participate in the expected range of rituals ofbelonging: 1) Baptism (based on Matthew 28:19) as a mode of church initiation that follows inthe biblical account of Jesus receiving baptism from John the Baptist; 2) Confirmation as asacrament of strengthening the grace of the Holy Spirit; and 3) the Eurcharist (HolyCommunion, prabhu bhoj in Hindi) as a monthly affirmation of the Christian community andanticipation of the return of Christ in body. While these rituals often mark Christian/Catholicparticipation among Himalayan tribals, others emphasize the need for personal conversionthrough accepting Christ into one's heart. For these Christians (often Evangelicals),testimonials of miraculous conversion are central markers of participation. For example, HaliChristians among the Gaddi community emphasize the conversion testimonial as animportant ritual marker of belonging.Yes—Assigned by some other factor:Yes [specify]: Class, gender, ritual and personal cholice are all important factors in tribalChristian belonging in the Himalayas. In addition, caste and clan are important matrices forunderstanding coversion among tribals.—Yes—Is proselytizing mandated for religious professionals:Notes: Not exactly mandated, but Christian tribal pastors and leaders often proselytize basedon their inner conviction of the importance of salvation. This is often attributed to Matthew28:19 and the injunction to "make disciples of all nations."Yes—Is proselytizing mandated for all adherents:Notes: Again, biblical passages are proffered among Evangelical and Protestant Christiantribals and tribal aspirants about the need to spread the "good news" of Christianity. Amongthe Hali Christian converts within the Gaddi community, the case study I know best, adherentswere often implored through weekly sermons at house churches to set good examples forHindu neighbors. The intensity of proselytizing depended on individuals. However, it is not asafe legal environment to conduct missionary work in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh isthe first Congress-led state to adopt anti-conversion legislation, a move widely understood tobe politically motivated. Without a single registered case of forced conversion, Chief MinisterVibhadra Singh warned that “unless checked well in time this practice may erode theconfidence and mutual trust between the different ethnic and religious groups in the state”(Tribune News Service, 2006).Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 6 of 43Does the religion have official political supportNotes: It is more often the case that Himalayan states and nations actively promote anti-conversionlaws to prevent the Christianization of predominately Hindu and animist groups. In Bhutan, forexample, Article 7 of the 2008 constitution guarantees religious freedom while forbidding conversion"by means of coercion or inducement". Such a clause is often pretext to target Christianity, sometimeswithout strong cause. A similar law was passed in Himachal Pradesh recently without a registeredcase of coercive tactics to convert tribals to Christianity.Is there a conception of apostasy in the religious group:Notes: In cases where Christian belonging closely parallels clan and caste affiliation, apostasy is rarely(if ever) a matter of public denunciation/abandonment of faith because it is so intimately tied to socialnetworks and social belonging.Is missionary work mandated for religious professionals:Notes: Not in the sense of conducting extensive missionary work. Opening a village housechurch is often the strategy of Christian leaders.No—Is missionary work mandated for all adherents:Notes: Most Himalayan tribal Christians are unable to conduct extensive missionary work,either at home or abroad, due to financial restraints and family responsibilities.No—Is proselytization coercive:Yes—Does the coercion take the form of physical force:No—Does the coercion take the form of economic sanctions:Notes: Not sanctions, but inducements. This is not all the time. I was struck byindigenous Christian tribal communities that offer not economic inducements butrather protection from witchcraft and spiritual torment. However, there certainly arecases of economic and psychosocial pressures put on tribals to convert. Such convertedindividuals are sometimes dubbed "Rice Christians". This phrase was coined by ThomasHale Jr, a physician and missionary in Nepal. He described the injustice of convertingtribals by exploiting their social condition and offering material allurements (i.e. rice)for conversion.Yes—No—No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 7 of 43Size and StructureNumber of adherents of religious group within sample region (estimated population,numerical):Notes: It is very difficult to accurately estimate the population of Christian tribals in the Himalayas. InNepal, Christianity is the 5th most practiced religion (2011 census) with 375,699 adherents, or 1.4% ofthe population. But this may be severely under-reported, and others estimate over 1,000,000Christians in Nepal. Sikkim has 9.9% Christianity (2011 census) -- mostly members of the EvangelicalPresbyterian Church of Sikkim -- approximately 61,000 members. Bhutan has .9% Christianity --approximately 12,255 members (according to Aide à l'Eglise en détresse). Himachal Pradesh has .18%Christianity. Kashmiri Christians number in the hundreds and face intense governmental and socialpressure. See: In the Northeast of India, Christianity has a strong presence: 1,851,290Baptists, 1,711,495 Catholics, and 1,405,781 Presbyterians. In Uttarakhand, Christianity is 0.37%.Number of adherents of religious group within sample region (% of sample regionpopulation, numerical):Notes: There are about 52,000,000 people in the Himalayas and as many as 450,000,000 settledaround the base of the Himalayas. Among this population, a fraction is Scheduled Tribe or aligned totribal identity.ScriptureDoes the religious group have scriptures:Scripture is a generic term used to designate revered texts that are considered particularly authoritativeand sacred relative to other texts. Strictly speaking, it refers to written texts, but there are also “oralscriptures” (e.g. the Vedas of India).Estimated population, numeric: 5500000—Estimated population, percentage of sample region: 1—Yes—Are they written:Notes: Many efforts are underway to provide the Bible in tribal languages.Yes—Are they oral:Notes: As many tribals are non-literate, Christian missionaries often provide audio transcriptionof the Bible in tribal languages.Yes—Is there a story (or a set of stories) associated with the origin of scripture:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 8 of 43Architecture, GeographyIs monumental religious architecture present:Revealed by a high god:Notes: Revealed by God the Father to Moses and later apostles.Yes—Revealed by other supernatural being:No—Inspired by high god:Notes: It is believed by highly literate and scholarly Christians that God the Fatherinspired the selection of texts to be included in the biblical canon at the First Council ofNicaea. Similarly, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, was inspired by God when heformally organized the New Testament canon.Yes—Inspired by other supernatural being:No—Originated from divine or semi-divine human beings:Notes: Biblical patriarchs and church leaders were not divine in any sense but in aspecial albeit human covenant with God.No—Originated from non-divine human being:Notes: Written by man, inspired by God.Yes—Yes—In the average settlement, what percentage of area is taken up by all religiousmonuments:Notes: Colonial-era churches remain in Himalayan hill stations not destroyed by the massiveKangra Earthquake of 1905. These monuments are still used by Christians in the Himalayas --tribal and non-tribal alike.Percentage: 0—Size of largest single religious monument, square meters:Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 9 of 43Are there different types of religious monumental architecture:Notes: In addition to cathedrals, colonial-era Christian cemeteries are common in the Himalayas.Is iconography present:Field doesn't know—Height of largest single religious monument, meters:Field doesn't know—Size of average monument, square meters:Field doesn't know—Height of average monument, meters:Field doesn't know—In the largest settlement, what percentage of area is taken up by all religiousmonuments:Percentage of area: 0—No—Yes—Where is iconography present [select all that apply]:Notes: For some Hindu tribals, the lack of certain Hindu body markers (dupatta and tikka, forexample) are themselves indicative of Christian conversion -- a kind of iconography throughabsence. Typically Christian iconography take the form of poster art and statues andassociated symbols (crosses, for example) in homes, cars, public buses, churches and so on.At home—Only religious public space—Some public spaces—Are there distinct features in the religious group's iconography:Notes: Himalayan tribals do not have distinct aspects of Christian iconography when comparedto the larger South Asian context. Their poster art, paintings, statues, crosses and so on are notdistinctly Himalayan. I am unaware of iconographic syncretism beteween tribal religious formsand Christianity. At the level of theology, however, syncretism is to be expected.No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 10 of 43Are there specific sites dedicated to sacred practice or considered sacred:Are pilgrimages present:BeliefsBurial and AfterlifeIs a spirit-body distinction present:Answer “no” only if personhood (or consciousness) is extinguished with death of the physical body.Answering yes does not necessarily imply the existence of Cartesian mind/body dualism, merely thatsome element of personhood (or consciousness) survives the death of the body.Belief in afterlife:Yes—Are sacred site oriented to environmental features:"Environmental features" refers to features in the landscape, mountains, rivers, cardinal directionsetc...Notes: Churches and cathedrals, often of colonial construction. Among some tribal groups,miraculous faith healing has created sacred sites in unlikely places (such as village mud huts).No—No—Yes—Spirit-mind is conceived of as having qualitatively different powers or properties thanother body parts:Notes: Spirit transcends death; the body is temporal and rots.Yes—Yes—Is the spatial location of the afterlife specified or described by the religious group:Yes—Afterlife in specified realm of space beyond this world:Notes: Heaven is understood to be a realm existing outside this world (based onvarious biblical references, such as (John 14:1-3 -- Jesus is actively preparing a place forbelievers in Heaven; preparing a place for us to live; and Isaiah 65:21 -- believers willplant vineyards and eat eat of the produce).Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 11 of 43Reincarnation in this world:Notes: However, for many Christian tribals in the Himalayas their Buddhist/Hindu backgroundscontinue to shape their innermost conceptions of karma/rebirth and oftentimes put believers in asocial bind when it comes time to perform death rituals of kin.Are there special treatments for adherents' corpses:Are co-sacrifices present in tomb/burial:Are grave goods present:Are formal burials present:Afterlife in vaguely defined “above” space:Notes: Although the Bible goes to some length to describe the placeness of Heaven,most tribal Christians in the Himalayas describe eternal life in Heaven in material andspiritual terms and less in spatial qualities.Yes—Afterlife in vaguely defined “below” space:Notes: Hell is variously described in the Bible as a below space of eternal damnation --as a burning sulfuric lake (Revelations 21:8) and as a downwards realm of the dead(Psalms 9:17).Yes—Afterlife in vaguely defined horizontal space:No—Afterlife located in "other" space:Yes [specify]: Catholics believe in Purgatory as an intermediate space of purification.—No—No—No—No—Yes—As cenotaphs:No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 12 of 43Supernatural BeingsAre supernatural beings present:In cemetery:Notes: However, Christian tribals in the Himalayas sometimes immolate corpses because ofcommunity pressure. This leads to theological concern about the state of the soul.Yes—Family tomb-crypt:No—Domestic (individuals interred beneath house, or in areas used for normal domesticactivities):No—Other formal burial type:No—Yes—A supreme high god is present:Yes—The supreme high god is anthropomorphic:Notes: According to standard Trinitarian beliefs, the supreme high god is one but inthree forms including the incarnate human-divine form of Jesus Christ.Yes—The supreme high god is a sky deity:Yes—The supreme high god is chthonic (of the underworld):Notes: Although God in a sense authorizes the underworld and is described as havingtraveled there to retrieve the Keys of Life and Death (Hebrews 2:14, among others).No—The supreme high god is fused with the monarch (king=high god):No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 13 of 43The monarch is seen as a manifestation or emanation of the high god:No—The supreme high god is a kin relation to elites:Notes: Although some tribal Christians have fascinating exegetical moves andhermenutic strategies to link up their lifeways and ancestry with Christ. For example,Gaddi Dalits in Himachal Pradesh describe how Jesus was revealed to shepherds andhas special blessings and relationship to shepherds like themselves.No—The supreme high god has another type of loyalty-connection to elites:No—The supreme high god is unquestionably good:Yes—Other feature(s) of supreme high god:Yes [specify]: The hermenutic twist of tribal Christians in the Himalayas is how God islocalized and harmonized with existing tribal culture, lifeways and beliefs.—The supreme high god has knowledge of this world:Yes—The supreme god's knowledge is restricted to particular domain ofhuman affairs:No—The supreme high god's knowledge is restricted to (a) specific area(s)within the sample region:No—The supreme high god's knowledge is unrestricted within the sampleregion:Yes—The supreme high god's knowledge is unrestricted outside of sampleregion:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 14 of 43The supreme high god can see you everywhere normally visible (inpublic):Yes—The supreme high god can see you everywhere (in the dark, at home):Yes—The supreme high god can see inside heart/mind (hidden motives):Yes—The supreme high god knows your basic character (personal essence):Yes—The supreme high god knows what will happen to you, what you will do(future sight):Yes—The supreme high god has other knowledge of this world:Yes [specify]: Omniscient and yet this doesn't imede free will.—The supreme high god has deliberate causal efficacy in the world:Yes—The supreme high god can reward:Yes—The supreme high god can punish:Yes—The supreme high god has indirect causal efficacy in the world:Yes—The supreme high god exhibits positive emotion:Yes—The supreme high god exhibits negative emotion:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 15 of 43The supreme high god possesses hunger:No—Is it permissible to worship supernatural beings other than the high god:Notes: Not permissible, although common.No—The supreme high god possesses/exhibits some other feature:Field doesn't know—The supreme high god communicates with the living:Yes—In waking, everyday life:Yes—In dreams:Yes—In trance possession:Yes—Through divination practices:Yes—Only through religious specialists:No—Only through monarchNo—Other form of communication with living:Yes [specify]: Intercession, possession, tongues.—Previously human spirits are present:No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 16 of 43Non-human supernatural beings are present:Yes—These supernatural beings can be seen:Notes: Among Catholics, supernatural beings can be benevolent patron saints; amongEvangelicals and Protestants, supernatural beings are more often demonic forces thatcan take specific forms. For example, Hali Gaddis (in Himachal Pradesh) believe thatevil spirits associated with the devil in Christianity either inhabit Hindu deities ormanifest as Hindu deities.Yes—These supernatural beings can be physically felt:Notes: Oftentimes maliciously.Yes—Non-human supernatural beings have knowledge of this world:Yes—Non-human supernatural beings have knowledge restricted toparticular domain of human affairs:Yes—Non-human supernatural beings have knowledge restricted to (a)specific area(s) within the sample region:No—Non-human supernatural beings have knowledge unrestricted withinthe sample region:Notes: Angels and heavenly beings can intercede in believers' lives multifariousways; demonic spirits can exert malign influence in similar ways.Yes—Non-human supernatural beings have knowledge unrestricted outsideof sample region:Yes—Non-human supernatural beings can see you everywhere normallyvisible (in public):Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 17 of 43Non-human supernatural beings can see you everywhere (in the dark, athome):Notes: Psalms 139:7-11 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee fromYour presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol,behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotestpart of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will layhold of me.Yes—Non-human supernatural beings can see inside heart/mind (hiddenmotives):Notes: Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the eviland the good.Yes—Non-human supernatural beings knows your basic character (personalessence):Yes—Non-human supernatural beings know what will happen to you, whatyou will do (future sight):Notes: Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestinedaccording to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with thepurpose of his will...Yes—Non-human supernatural begins have other knowledge of this world:Yes [specify]: Depending on personal beliefs and interpretations of the Bible,supernatural beings (of good and evil design) have more or less jurisdictionover people's lives and futures.—Non-human supernatural beings have deliberate causal efficacy in the world:Yes—These supernatural beings can reward:Notes: Revelations 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is withMe, to render to every man according to what he has done...Yes—These supernatural beings can punish:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 18 of 43Notes: Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loatheHis reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects theson in whom he delights...These supernatural beings have indirect causal efficacy in the world:Notes: As commonly practiced, Christianity among Himalayan tribals is associated withindirect causal efficacy in diverse arenas of personal welfare, harvest size, livestockproductivity and so on.Yes—These supernatural beings exhibit positive emotion:Notes: When heavenly.Yes—These supernatural beings exhibit negative emotion:Notes: When evil.Yes—These supernatural beings possess hunger:Notes: Not in the Hindu/Buddhist sense. However, in 1 Peter 5:8 Satan is described aspossessing a kind of symbolic hunger. "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversarythe devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."No—These supernatural beings possess/exhibit some other feature:Notes: According to Revelations 12:7-9, demons are evil angels and have similarfeatures of their heavenly counterparts. Demons are not omniscient but may havespecific knowledge within a certain domain. They are not omnipotent but constrainedto the power that God allows them to possess.Yes [specify]: Evil spirits have various theological characteristics as outlined in Christiandemonology.—Mixed human-divine beings are present:Notes: This depends on terminology and the ways in which one considers Christ as human,divine or "mixed".No—Does the religious group possess a variety of supernatural beings:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 19 of 43Supernatural MonitoringIs supernatural monitoring present:This refers to surveillance by supernatural beings of humans’ behaviour and/or thought particularly as itrelates to social norms or potential norm violations.Organized by kinship based on a family model:No—Organized hierarchically:Notes: Demonic spirits within Christian cosmology are often overlaid onto tribalHindu/Buddhist nature spirits/pantheonic deities. These deities are ranked by theirpotency and ability to harm.Yes—Power of beings is domain specific:Notes: As demonic spirits within Christianity are often overlapping with localtribal/animist/Hindu/Buddhist spirits, such spirits are often localized in places.Yes—Other organization for pantheon:No—Yes—There is supernatural monitoring of prosocial norm adherence in particular:Prosocial norms are norms that enhance cooperation among members of the group, includingobviously “moral” or “ethical” norms, but also extending to norms concerning honouring contractsand oaths, providing hospitality, coming to mutual aid in emergencies, etc.Notes: As practiced elsewhere, tribal Christianity in the Himalayas is concerned with ethicalnorms as outlined in the Bible and enforced by God.Yes—Supernatural beings care about taboos:Yes—Food:Notes: The Christian God is generally opposed to animal sacrifice. In John 1:29, Jesus isdescribed as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." AmongHimalayan tribal Christians, they must often negotiate social expectations toYes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 20 of 43participate and even host goat/sheep sacrifices as prosocial feast rituals and Christianbeliefs banning such behavior as taboo.Sacred space(s):Notes: Not to desecrate churches, for example.Yes—Sacred object(s):Notes: Not to desecrate sacred objects. However, such prohibitions are considerablyless in Christianity than "typical" expressions of tribal religion.Yes—Supernatural beings care about other:Yes [specify]: They care about the interior spaces of belief.—Supernatural beings care about murder of coreligionists:Notes: Jesus warned that those who take the sword perish by the sword. Murder is prohibited.However, in 1 John 3:15 Jesus states that "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, andyou know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."Yes—Supernatural beings care about murder of members of other religions:Yes—Supernatural beings care about murder of members of other polities:Yes—Supernatural beings care about sex:Yes—Adultery:Notes: Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bedbe undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.Yes—Incest:Notes: Leviticus 18:10 The nakedness of your son's daughter or your daughter'sdaughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours.Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 21 of 43Other sexual practices:Yes [specify]: All manner of "sexual perversions" as scattered throughout the Bible.—Supernatural beings care about lying:Notes: Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfullyare His delight.Yes—Supernatural beings care about honouring oaths:Notes: Leviticus 5:4 Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, inwhatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, andthen he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these.Yes—Supernatural beings care about laziness:Notes: Proverbs 10:26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one tothose who send him.Yes—Supernatural beings care about sorcery:Notes: Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son orhis daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, orone who interprets omens, or a sorcerer... However, it is notable that tribal Christians oftenunderstand the vicissitudes of life as sorcery done against them (jadu tona in India) andsometimes employ the services of witchdoctors (mantra-tantra, celas) to combat sorcery withsorcery -- despite Christian prohibitions.Yes—Supernatural beings care about non-lethal fighting:Yes—Supernatural beings care about shirking risk:No—Supernatural beings care about disrespecting elders:Notes: Respect for elders (although laid down in biblical verses) is not central to Christianpractice as it is among Hindu/Buddhist practice. This often leads to the overthrow of traditionalauthority that causes social rupture among tribal groups divided by Christian conversion.No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 22 of 43Do supernatural beings mete out punishment:Supernatural beings care about gossiping:Yes—Supernatural beings care about property crimes:Yes—Supernatural beings care about proper ritual observance:Notes: However, Christian practice is notably less focused on correctness of ritual observancethan tribal religion and Hinduism/Buddhism.Yes—Supernatural beings care about performance of rituals:Notes: Less than tribal religious traditions, however.Yes—Supernatural beings care about conversion of non-religionists:Notes: Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."Yes—Supernatural beings care about economic fairness:Notes: Although the radical economic egalitarianism of Jesus's teachings (aligned withZealotry) is not often prioritized among tribal Christians in the Himalayas (or really anywhereelse for that matter).Yes—Supernatural beings care about personal hygiene:Notes: 1 Corinthians 6:20 For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.However, Christian expressions in the Himalayas are markedly less focused on personal andsymbolic hygiene. For example, Hali Christians (part of the Gaddi tribal community inHimachal Pradesh) drink from the same cup during Communion (Prabhu Bhoj) in an act ofgroup solidarity that violates "normal" Hindu hygiene about the sharing of utensils betweenmembers of different castes.Yes—Supernatural beings care about other:Field doesn't know—Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 23 of 43Is the cause or agent of supernatural punishment known:Yes—Done only by high god:Notes: God allows the punishment of sin.Yes—Done by many supernatural beings:No—Done through impersonal cause-effect principle:Notes: Punishment for sin is not causal in a karmic sense since Jesus's death allows forunrequited forgiveness.No—Done by other entities or through other means [specify]Field doesn't know—Is the reason for supernatural punishment known:Yes—Done to enforce religious ritual-devotional adherence:Yes—Done to enforce group norms:Yes—Done to inhibit selfishness:Yes—Done randomly:No—Other [specify]Field doesn't know—Supernatural punishments are meted out in the afterlife:Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 24 of 43Yes—Supernatural punishments in the afterlife are highly emphasized by thereligious group:Notes: Depending on the tribal Christian community in question, eternal damnationcan be highly emphasized.Yes—Punishment in the afterlife consists of mild sensory displeasure:No—Punishment in the afterlife consists of extreme sensory displeasure:Yes—Punishment in the afterlife consists of reincarnation as an inferior life form:Notes: Although tribal Christians often retain certain karmic attitudes aboutreincarnation despite Christian opposition to it.No—Punishment in the afterlife consists of reincarnation in an inferior realm:Notes: The soul moves from this world into hell. Not a reincarnation.No—Other [specify]No—Supernatural punishments are meted out in this lifetime:Yes—Supernatural punishments in this life are highly emphasized by the religiousgroup:Yes—Punishment in this life consists of bad luck:Notes: Not in the sense often stressed in tribal religion.No—Punishment in this life consists of political failure:Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 25 of 43No—Punishment in this life consists of defeat in battle:No—Punishment in this life consists of crop failure or bad weather:Notes: Tribal Christians are divided about the effects of sin in this life. Certainly eternaldamnation in the next life is guaranteed without proper forgiveness. In this life,believers are divided about the impact of sin on everyday domains of crop failure,weather, defeat, misfortune and so on. The so-called Prosperity Gospel so popular inthe USA has vague resonance in the Himalayas depending on the sectarian emphasisand the imagination of the believer.Yes—Punishment in this life consists of disaster on journeys.No—Punishment in this life consists of mild sensory displeasure:Yes—Punishment in this life consists of extreme sensory displeasure:Notes: Depends on individual belief.Yes—Punishment in this life consists of sickness or illness:Yes—Punishment in this life consists of impaired reproduction:Yes—Punishment in this life consists of bad luck visited on descendants:Notes: The inter-generational curses outlined in the Bible resonate with tribal religiousbeliefs.Yes—Other [specify]No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 26 of 43Do supernatural beings bestow rewards:Field doesn't know—Yes—Is the cause/purpose of supernatural rewards known:Yes—Done only by high god:Notes: Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where mothand rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselvestreasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do notbreak in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Yes—Done by many supernatural beings:No—Done through impersonal cause-effect principle:No—Done to enforce religious ritual-devotional adherence:Notes: Storing up treasure in heaven is based on devotion and giving glory to God inthis world.Yes—Done to enforce group norms:Notes: Although this is a consequence of such beliefs, it is not its point of origination.No—Done to inhibit selfishness:No—Done randomly:No—Supernatural rewards are bestowed out in the afterlife:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 27 of 43Supernatural rewards in the afterlife are highly emphasized by the religiousgroup:Notes: Among Hali Protestant converts in Kangra, for example, weekly services in localhouse churches emphasized the supernatural rewards of the afterlife as compensationof sorts of this-worldly injustices.Yes—Reward in the afterlife consists of mild sensory pleasure:Notes: John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I havetold you that I go to prepare a place for you?Yes—Reward in the afterlife consists of extreme sensory pleasure:Notes: 1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, northe heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him."Yes—Reward in the afterlife consists of eternal happiness:Notes: John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoeverbelieves in him should not perish but have eternal life.Yes—Reward in the afterlife consists of reincarnation as a superior life form:No—Reward in the afterlife consists of reincarnation in a superior realm:No—Other [specify]No—Supernatural rewards are bestowed out in this lifetime:Yes—Supernatural rewards in this life are highly emphasized by the religious group:Notes: This depends on the sect and the emphasis of individual teachers and believers.Among Hali converts in Hali, for example, this-world rewards were praised weeklyduring a time to give testimonials about the supernatural blessings given to individualchurch members. Pastor Vinay gave this speech one Sunday, by way of example: ThereYes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 28 of 43is so much suffering in the world. And we thank you God for keeping us safe, formaintaining our life (jīvit rakhnā); there are many people who have not made it to seetoday, died from diseases and accidents, from so many factors outside human controlthey have left this world. We thank you God (śukraguzār karnā) for taking care of us inevery moment, in every situation. Hallelujah? Hallelujah! I often hear the testimoniesfrom believers, how we are saved by the hand of God from daily accidents, like fallingon the road at night, getting a wound and needing to go the hospital. These thingshappen all the time, but we live in the grace of God and are saved. He doesn’t permitthese things.Reward in this life consists of good luck:No—Reward in this life consists of political success or power:Yes—Reward in this life consists of success in battle:No—Reward in this life consists of peace or social stability:Notes: Especially with regard to discrimination and social/caste exclusion and the lackof state support that falls to the weakest and often marginalized groups within tribes.Yes—Reward in this life consists of healthy crops or good weather:Yes—Reward in this life consists of success on journeys:Yes—Reward in this life consists of mild sensory pleasure:Yes—Reward in this life consists of extreme sensory pleasure:Yes—Reward in this life consists of enhanced health:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 29 of 43Messianism/EschatologyAre messianic beliefs present:Reward in this life consists of enhanced reproductive success:Yes—Reward in this life consists of fortune visited on descendants:Yes—Other [specify]Notes: Supernatural rewards are described as testimonials in house services amongmany tribal Christians. Below are categories of supernatural blessings recorded amongHali tribal aspirants in Kangra. In-church testimonials can be roughly categorized aspertaining to: a) safety (“I went to Ludhiana for the first time, and there was noproblem while traveling and God helped me to get there safely.”); b) avoidance ofdisaster (“A few days ago I got distracted, and thank God that his concentration alwaysfalls on us because my daughter went on the roof and was horsing around, and thankGod my landlord heard her and went and grabbed her and brought her inside, andthere was no accident and she didn’t fall.”); c) procurement of work (“I was sittingaround not getting any work, and I prayed to God, give me anything! I gave God all myanxieties – there should be work! Finally, the phone call came and I got work, and I wasso happy that I didn’t even properly hear the name of where I was supposed to go.”); d)family discord (“My family members are always fighting but thanks to Yeśu Masīh I wasable to pray and not get drawn into it.”); e) spiritual torment (“I went to Bharmaur forwork and fell into a depression. I couldn’t eat a thing. I was vomiting. I felt like no onecould take me out of my sadness. I went to the hospital, but the doctor did nothing. Iwas feeling so small. I prayed to the Lord (Prabhu), and he touched my body with hisHoly Spirit (pavitra ātmā) and removed the evil spirt.”); and f) negotiation of Gaddiidentity (“I returned to Bharmaur, and my relatives were bothering me about how I leftour Gaddi family deities. They told me about all the things their deities did for them. Itold them, ‘It’s okay, keep your deities, they are not for me. My God created the heavensand the earth and sustains me in health. Before I was sick; now I am healed.’”).Yes—Yes—Is the messiah's whereabouts or time of coming known?Notes: Matthew 24:36 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels inheaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.No—Is the messiah's purpose known:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 30 of 43Norms and Moral RealismAre general social norms prescribed by the religious group:Is there a conventional vs. moral distinction in the religious group:Messiah is a political figure who restores political rule:No—Messiah is a priestly figure who restores religious traditions:No—Other purpose:Yes [specify]: The Second Coming of Christ has various interpretations (Preterism, LDS,Evengelical and so on).—Yes—Yes—What is the nature of this distinction:Present and clear—Are specifically moral norms prescribed by the religious group:Yes—Specifically moral norms are implicitly linked to vague metaphysical concepts:Notes: As many tribals are non-literate, explicit biblical exegesis is not the norm.Yes—Specifically moral norms are explicitly linked to vague metaphysical entities:Yes—Specifically moral norms are linked to impersonal cosmic order (e.g. karma):Yes—Specifically moral norms are linked in some way to an anthropomorphicbeing:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 31 of 43Are there centrally important virtues advocated by the religious group:Notes: However, particular tribal converts may emphasize different virtues (such as social equality)based on their own subject positionality within the larger community. Emphasizing such virtues ofequality may restructure social behavior.PracticesMembership Costs and PracticesDoes membership in this religious group require celibacy (full sexual abstinence):Does membership in this religious group require constraints on sexual activity (partial sexualabstinence):Notes: Anthropomorphic in the sense of Jesus as incarnate God in human flesh.Specifically moral norms are linked explicitly to commands ofanthropomorphic being:Yes—Specifically moral norms are have no special connection to metaphysical:No—Moral norms apply to:Notes: The egalitarianism and lack of social exception based on caste and class is a majorattraction for low-status converts within tribes. This speaks to a larger issue about theinegalitarianism of tribes and the appeal for Christianity among those commonlydiscriminated against in tribal social formations.All individuals within society—No—No—Yes—Monogamy (males):Yes—Monogamy (females):Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 32 of 43Does membership in this religious group require castration:Does membership in this religious group require fasting:Notes: Not required, but some Christians draw from passages in the Bible and practice fasting.Does membership in this religious group require forgone food opportunities (taboos ondesired foods):Does membership in this religious group require permanent scarring or painful bodilyalterations:Does membership in this religious group require painful physical positions or transitorypainful wounds:Does membership in this religious group require sacrifice of adults:"Adults" here referring to an emic or indigenous category; if that category is different from the popularWestern definition of a human who is 18-years-old or older and who is legally responsible for his/heractions, then please specify that difference in the Comments/Sources: box below.Does membership in this religious group require sacrifice of children:"Children" here referring to an emic or indigenous category; if that category is different from the popularWestern definition, please specify that different in the Comments/Sources: box below.Other sexual constraints (males):Notes: Among some tribal groups, forms of marriage exchange (like batta satta among Gaddiswherein the bride's brother would marry the groom's sister or vice versa) and polygamy havefallen away, although sexual laws are still comparatively lax in an Indian context. Christianconverts are further instructed in biblical teachings about chastity and sexual purity.Yes—Other sexual constraints (females):Notes: The wearing of the ghunghat (dupatta headdress) is sometimes practices to encouragesexual modesty.Yes—No—No—No—No—No—No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 33 of 43Does membership in this religious group require self-sacrifice (suicide):Does membership in this religious group require sacrifice of property/valuable items:Does membership in this religious group require sacrifice of time (e.g., attendance atmeetings or services, regular prayer, etc.):Notes: Adherents are instructed to attend church regularly (usually in the form of house churchattendance).Does membership in this religious group require physical risk taking:Notes: In some cases, physical violence is threatened against Christian tribals (see the video about theLadakhi Christian in "sources". In the case I am most familiar with, Hali Christians in Kangra werevisited by Hindu fundamentalists who physically threatened them for worshiping on Sundays.Does membership in this religious group require accepting ethical precepts:Notes: Interestingly, when tribals become Christian they often adopt ethical norms that are viewed asdistinctly untribal by the majority community.Does membership in this religious group require marginalization by out-group members:Notes: Like the above answer, when tribals convert to Christianity they are often put in the dilemma ofrejecting "tribal" practices like animal sacrifice and the taking of intoxicants.Does membership in this religious group require participation in small-scale rituals (private,household):Notes: Weekly communion and, in extraordinary situations (that nevertheless happen with somefrequency) for prayer intercession to cast out demons and evil spirits -- a practice that parallelswitchcraft practices in many tribal communities.No—No—No—Yes—Yes—Yes—Yes—Yes—What is the average interval of time between performances (in hours):Performances here refers to small-scale rituals.Field doesn't know—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 34 of 43Does membership in this religious group require participation in large-scale rituals:I.e. involving two or more households; includes large-scale “ceremonies” and “festivals.”Notes: Among the Halis in Kangra, for example, house churches would meet at regularintervals (normally Sunday mornings) and for special intersession prayer periods -- about oncea week.Yes—On average, for large-scale rituals how many participants gather in one location:Notes: Large-scale rituals include yearly Christmas and Easter celebrations. Some tribals aremembers of house churches that set up tents and small-scale celebratory rituals; other tribalsare part of larger institutional churches with massive membership (such as Northeast India)where celebrations happen in the thousands.Field doesn't know—What is the average interval of time between performances (in hours):Performances here refers to large-scale rituals.Field doesn't know—Are there orthodoxy checks:Orthodoxy checks are mechanisms used to ensure that rituals are interpreted in a standardizedway, e.g. through the supervisory prominence of a professionalized priesthood or other system ofgovernance, appeal to texts detailing the proper interpretation, etc.Notes: Priesthood or qualified religious leaders (padres, pastors and so on).Yes—Are there orthopraxy checks:Orthopraxy checks are mechanisms used to ensure that rituals are performed in a standardizedway, e.g. through the supervisory prominence of a professionalized priesthood or other system ofgovernance, appeal to texts detailing the proper procedure, etc.Notes: Not like Brahmanical checks.No—Does participation entail synchronic practices:Notes: Not as a rule, although "tribal practices" do seep into Christian forms of worship andritual.No—Is there use of intoxicants:No—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 35 of 43Are extra-ritual in-group markers present:E.g. special changes to appearance such as circumcision, tattoos, scarification, etc.Notes: Tribal Christianity is generally opposed to intoxicants and generally describes drugs andalcohol as not only "tribal backwards" but also anathema to Christian virtue. They draw from arange of biblical sources to make this claim.Yes—Tattoos/scarification:No—Circumcision:No—Food taboos:Notes: The banning of prasad (sanctified food) in Hindu/Buddhist traditions. This createssociality problems as the rejection of food from neighbors and affines is tied into a history ofstatus jockeying and the rejection of the cooker or food presenter (since food is often felt to bea biomorphic substance imbued with the essence of the giver).Yes—Hair:No—Dress:Notes: Although some Christian tribal groups discourage the wearing of traditional tribalcostumes -- creating social breaches.No—Ornaments:No—Archaic ritual language:No—Other:Yes [specify]: Markers of Christian identification among tribals are usally noticable for theirabsence -- the absence of tikka and maang and dora and choti and other physical bodymarkers associated with some tribal traditions.—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 36 of 43Does the group employ fictive kinship terminology:Society and InstitutionsLevels of Social ComplexityThe society to which the religious group belongs is best characterized as (please chooseone):Notes: Christian conversion among tribal segments is not often individual but group oriented. Sub-groups and clans/castes with tribal communities may convert not en masse but one after the other. Sothe "society" of tribal Christians is often a low-status segment. Between tribes, however, there is nowidely-recognized Christian society as such.WelfareDoes the religious group in question provide institutionalized famine relief:Notes: From larger denominational churches to small house churches, there are forms ofsocioeconomic support. When someone is ill or when crops fail, collections/tithes may be taken for thatindividual family in question.Is famine relief available to the group's adherents through an institution(s) other than thereligious group in question:Notes: IRDB and poverty assistance in India and elsewhere in the Himalayas.Does the religious group in question provide institutionalized poverty relief:Yes—Fictive kinship terminology universal:No—Fictive kinship terminology widespread:Notes: Adherents become brothers and sisters in Christ, of one body.Yes—Fictive kinship terminology employed but uncommon:No—Other [specify in comments]—Yes—Yes—Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 37 of 43Is poverty relief available to the group's adherents through an institution(s) other than thereligious group in question:Does the religious group in question provide institutionalized care for the elderly and infirm:Notes: Family units and extended relatives are normally responsible for the care of the elderly.Is institutionalized care for the elderly and infirm available to the group's adherents throughan institution(s) other than the religious group in question:EducationDoes the religious group provide formal education to its adherents:Is formal education available to the group’s adherents through an institution(s) other thanthe religious group:Notes: For example, Agape Christian Missions ( is a South Indian group focusedon tribes outside of the Indian Himalayas; however, they fund theological training and thedissemination of audio recordings of the bible in local dialects to tribal groups in Himachal Pradesh.BureaucracyYes—No—No—Yes—Is formal education restricted to religious professionals:Notes: Many primary and secondary Christian schools are in Nepal and Northeast India. On theother hand, there are many seminaries in the Himalayas that cater to tribal populations andare designed for aspiring religious leaders. For example, the Council of Baptist Churches inNortheast India (with more than 1,000,000 members) in Northeast India has the EasternTheological College which has minted more than 2500 graduates and 800 pastors.No—Is such education open to both males and females:Yes—Yes—Is extra-religious education open to both males and females:Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 38 of 43Do the group’s adherents interact with a formal bureaucracy within their group:Notes: Just in Northeast India, for example, tribal Christians are often affiliated with sectarian churchesoperated on formal bureaucracies. See, for example, "Church-Mission Dynamics in Northeast India" byLalsangkima Pachuau (International Bulletin of Missionary Research 27:4).Do the group’s adherents interact with other institutional bureaucracies:Public WorksDoes the religious group in question provide public food storage:Is public food storage provided to the group’s adherents by an institution(s) other than thereligious group in question:Does the religious group in question provide water management (irrigation, flood control):Is water management provided to the group’s adherents by an institution(s) other than thereligious group in question:Notes: State governments and IRDB poverty quotas.Does the religious group in question provide transportation infrastructure:Is transportation infrastructure provided for the group’s adherents by an institution(s) otherthan the religious group in question:Notes: State governments. In all the questions relating to public works, the answers are highly variable.It is uncommon for churches in the Himalayas with tribal congregants to provide storage of publicfood, for example. But the larger institutional churches in the Indian Northeast and Nepal, along withvarious NGOs and missions groups do offer significant forms of social support and emergency funds forsituated problems. And small-scale house churches often collect tithes for redistribution to memberssuffering from various misfortunes.TaxationYes—No—No—No—No—Yes—No—Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 39 of 43Does the religious group in question levy taxes or tithes:Notes: Based on church tradition, congregants are encouraged to give what they can (typically 10% ofearned income). This is based on Deuteronomy 14:22 (Make an offering of ten percent, a tithe, of all theproduce which grows in your fields year after year).Are taxes levied on the group’s adherents by an institution(s) other than the religious group inquestion:Notes: Various state and local taxes.EnforcementDoes the religious group in question provide an institutionalized police force:Do the group’s adherents interact with an institutionalized police force provided by aninstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:Notes: Many tribal Christians interact with heightened security forces, especially in sensitive borderand disputed areas.Does the religious group in question provide institutionalized judges:Do the group’s adherents interact with an institutionalized judicial system provided by an aninstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:Notes: Legal systems particular to each state/country. Also tribal Christians are often under localjudicial systems (panchayat).Does the religious group in question enforce institutionalized punishment:Are the group’s adherents subject to institutionalized punishment enforced by aninstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:Yes—Yes—No—Yes—No—Yes—No—Yes—Do the institutionalized punishments include execution:Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 40 of 43Does the religious group in question have a formal legal code:Are the group’s adherents subject to a formal legal code provided by institution(s) other thanthe religious group in question:WarfareDoes religious group in question possess an institutionalized military:Do the group’s adherents participate in an institutionalized military provided byinstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:Are the group’s adherents protected by or subject to an institutionalized military providedby an institution(s) other than the religious group in question:Written LanguageDoes the religious group in question possess its own distinct written language:No—Do the institutionalized punishments include exile:No—Do the institutionalized punishments include corporal punishments:No—Do the institutionalized punishments include ostracism:No—Do the institutionalized punishments include seizure of property:No—No—Yes—No—Yes—Yes—Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 41 of 43Is a non-religion-specific written language available to the group’s adherents through aninstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:Is a non-religion-specific written language used by the group’s adherents through aninstitution(s) other than the religious group in question:CalendarDoes the religious group in question possess a formal calendar:Notes: Although the Christian calendar is in a sense the standard calendar throughout the Himalayasto mark secular time, the Christian calendar with its distinct religious observances and monthlybreakdown differs significantly from how most tribal communities measure time (either using a Hinducalendar (panchang) or animist/Buddhist spiritual time or, as is often the case, using agricultural orpastoral measurements of time).Is a formal calendar provided for the group’s adherents by an institution(s) other than thereligious group in question:Food ProductionDoes the religious group in question provide food for themselves:Notes: Although through redistribution of tithes and international missions works/support churchmembers in distress are often helped -- including food donations.Is food provided to the group’s adherents by an institution(s) other than the religious groupin question:Is use of this distinct written language confined to religious professionals:Notes: Although trained pastors and much more likely to be literate than their congregants.For an analysis of the translation of the Bible into tribal dialects in the Himalayas, especiallythrough Summer Language Institute of Linguistics, see Fredrick A. Aldridge Jr's unpublisheddissertation on the subject -- available here:—No—No—Yes—No—No—Yes—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 42 of 43Please characterize the forms/levels of food production [choose all that apply]:Gathering—Hunting (including marine animals)—Fishing—Patoralism—Small-scale agriculture / horticultural gardens or orchards—Large-scale agriculture (e.g., monocropping, organized irrigation systems)—Christopher, Database of Religious History, 2019 Page 43 of 43


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items