Indian Culture

Indian Culture

Indian culture is hard to define. Thousands of small tribal and ethnic groups make up the Indian culture. In the tribal Indian culture livestock in a main income generator.

India Tribal Regions

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Each day, this couple herds their sheep to nearby pastures for grazing. Raising livestock is the traditional employment of India’s tribal groups. India men herding sheep
  • The Compassion curriculum, customized for India, gives this tutor the confidence that she is providing children the learning experiences they need. India children in the project classroom
  • Without ready access to clean water, people in tribal regions must rely on such unsafe sources as rivers. India man in water
  • This young man enjoys nutritious food at his Compassion-assisted child development center. India small brick home
  • Compassion-assisted children at child development centers are encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God through prayer. India young girl praying
  • Each of the many tribal groups in India has its own customs and style of dress. India woman carrying bag on head

Overview: Tribal Regions

Among India’s 1.1 billion people, between 8 and 9 percent are from small ethnic and tribal groups, which number in the thousands. In two of the states where Compassion India ministers, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, 6 percent of the people belong to these tribes.

Tribal groups live primarily in remote, hilly regions among dense forests. The tribes in these areas have little contact with the modern world, as well as little influence from India’s economy or political life.

Each tribal group has its own customs. The Toda tribe, for example, uses this tribal stone in one of their marriage traditions. Before a man can marry, he must demonstrate his strength by picking up the stone, circling it over his head, and then throwing it as far as he can. Only if he is able to perform this feat will a young woman from the tribe be given to him to marry. The Toda tribe numbers only 1,600 people, living primarily in Tamil Nadu state in southern India.


Culture Corner

indian culture


Try this simple Indian dish.


1 c. red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
3 c. water
¼ c. canola oil
½ tsp. cumin seeds
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
¾ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. butter
¾ tsp. salt
¼ c. minced cilantro leaves (optional)


Place lentils, tomato and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add small amounts of water as needed while cooking. Pick out tomato skins and blend the dal (lentils) with a whisk. Keep warm over low heat.

Make the tadka (Indian spice preparation): Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat. As the oil begins to smoke, add cumin seeds. After seeds have stopped sputtering, add the garlic and onion and sauté over medium heat until onion has turned dark brown (5 to 10 minutes). Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne.

Pour the tadka over the dal. Add butter, salt and cilantro. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot over rice.


Life in Tribal India

The multicultural country of India has thousands of small tribal and ethnic groups. Each has its own language, style of dress, and customs. Tribal groups typically live in small villages in remote, hilly, forested regions.

In general, southern India has more tribal groups than the north, especially in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Traditionally, tribal families raised livestock to earn a meager income. Today, however, more are becoming involved in more diverse small-scale farming and other income-generating activities.

India’s tribal people are known for their warm hospitality, simple way of life, and candid honesty. Groups worship their own gods and goddesses, and they celebrate their own religious festivals, which typically reflect their dependency on nature.

Children at Home

India’s traditional tribal homes, called munds, are small, simple one-story mud structures with dirt floors and thatched roofs. These homes typically have no windows and contain only a few furnishings. In one corner of the house, or in an exterior court, is an earthen hearth where the women cook meals over a wood fire. Most homes lack electricity, running water, and toilet facilities.


Community Issues and Concerns india tribal community

Members of India’s tribal groups are among the country’s poorest people. Living in small, isolated hamlets, their children often suffer from malnutrition and a lack of access to such basics as health care and education.

Witchcraft and alcohol abuse are common issues among India’s tribal groups. Another pressing problem is illiteracy. Christianity is slowly progressing into India’s tribal areas, but many have yet to hear about God’s Word.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in India’s tribal regions face many daunting challenges. Among the poorest of the poor, they often suffer from malnutrition and inadequate access to medical care. Their homes typically lack the basics of electricity, running water, and toilet facilities. The shortage of education opportunities also works against their ability to escape poverty. Few children complete elementary school, and rarely do secondary schools exist in their communities. As a result, illiteracy is a significant issue among tribal groups.


Schools and Education india tribal education

Tribal children typically start primary school, but abandon their education after the first three or four years. Many tribal areas have no secondary schools, and few children have the means or desire to leave home to continue their education. Likewise, tribal youth rarely attend India’s colleges and universities.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers in India’s tribal communities, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to grow and thrive. Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. They are encouraged to stay in school, and tutoring makes up for education deficiencies. Most important, they learn how much they are loved and valued by God.


Working Through the Local Church

At Compassion, we believe God’s mandate to serve the world’s poor and oppressed rests on the shoulders of the church. That’s why being “church-based” is an important Compassion distinctive. In other words, Compassion comes alongside local churches, empowering them to carry out God’s mandate to bring real and lasting transformation into the lives of impoverished children. Local churches understand well the challenges of the poor in their communities, as well as the best ways to address those challenges.

For more than 40 years, this unique partnership between Compassion and local Indian churches has been releasing children from poverty and providing them the opportunities they need to grow into happy, healthy, responsible God-honoring adults.

How Compassion Works in India india tribal compassion in india

Compassion’s work in India began in 1968. Currently, more than 75,000 children participate in 334 child development centers (not including eastern India).

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide India’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are the “face” of Compassion to the local churches that operate our program of holistic child development. In India, these dedicated women and men each work alongside 12 church partners, helping them meet the needs of the children they serve with excellence. Partnership Facilitators also represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

A Partnership Facilitator visits each church at least once every three months. Travel to churches in remote areas can be long and difficult. Often, facilitators are away from their families for days at a time. But for India’s Partnership Facilitators, committed to improving their country’s future one child at a time, the effort is more than worthwhile.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the health of children who don’t have adequate nutrition, clean water or sanitation facilities in the tribal areas.
  • Pray that the tribal families who depend on agriculture will have abundant harvests.
  • Pray that children will stay in school and be excited about learning.
  • Pray that such evils as alcoholism and witchcraft will be eliminated in assisted children’s communities.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.