Day 31: Holi Festival

In the month of May, we will share a story and prayer request each day for our 31 days of prayer for India. Please join us in praying for India. Stay tuned for more ways to pray. 

Holi is one of the most widely known festivals in India and is often called the festival of colors. During Holi people from all walks of life celebrate in the streets with bright colors and water balloons. Typically celebrated in March or April, Holi welcomes in the spring season, which is a season of renewal. 

No Holi celebration is complete without the special menus of sweet dishes and cool summer drinks. Once Holi has begun, it is hard to find someone who is not covered in the bright colored powder that makes Holi famous throughout the world.

For many, Holi is a time to remember a spirit of oneness and devotion to the gods. Several mythical events portray good versus evil and commemorate certain Hindu gods. People often burn offerings from the recent harvest to invoke Agni, the god of fire. Some take fire from the large bonfire to rid their homes of disease. Many believe that being covered in color and then washed by water represents ridding oneself of hatred and gaining love for all people, even those of a different caste. 

Some say that the Hindu religion views Holi as a day that celebrates life by allowing the Hindu believer a “free day” to sin and not have punishment. Others say it is a time to celebrate oneness with everyone, even those from different castes.  

Holi is also a time when people welcome in the spring season, which is a season of renewal. It is a time for the non-religious to have fun in the color, but it is also a time for the deeply-religious to perform yearly rituals. Many believe that being covered in color and then washed represents ridding oneself of hatred and gaining love for all people. 

The bonfires that light up the country on the first day of the holiday is a time when Hindus burn Holika as a symbol of society’s evils. Holika, the demoness, and Prahlada, Vishnu’s devotee, are the main deities of Holi who are worshipped during the festival. 

Pray for Holi participants to hear about oneness with the True God and become part of his family. 

Pray for Christians who participate in Holi to have opportunities to build relationships and share the gospel at a time when togetherness is valued. 

Day 30: Jainism in India

In the month of May, we will share a story and prayer request each day for our 31 days of prayer for India. Please join us in praying for India. Stay tuned for more ways to pray. 

Though it is a little-known religion, Jainism has over 4 million followers in India. Read below about Jains in India and learn how you can pray for them. 

Overview

There is no single founder of Jainism but rather a collection of tirthankaras (teachers) who have revealed truth at different times. Jain comes from the word Jina, which means one victorious over self and worldly passions. Jains practice non-attachment to avoid enemies of the inner self such as pride, anger, and greed. They also believe in reincarnation and see karma as a physical thing that they must eliminate from their lives. 

Teachers or Holy Men

Jainism has 24 tirthankaras who are believed to have reached the highest spiritual existence and then taught their ways to others. Tirthankaras appear in the world in order to teach others the way to moksha, or freedom from reincarnation. Jains do not believe that tirthankaras are gods but ordinary people who become tirthankaras through intensely disciplined lives of penance, equanimity, and meditation. To Jains, tirthankaras represent the purest developed state of the human soul.

Jains, God and the Soul

Jainism is a religion of self-help. They do not believe in a creator God and think that humans can become gods after they achieve perfection and liberate their own souls. While they do pay homage to Jinas, or people they believe have achieved perfection, Jains do not worship a god or gods the way many religions do. Each person, according to Jains, has the opportunity to achieve the status of god if they practice right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct. This kind of living rids the soul of karma, resulting in a pure, omniscient, and perfectly happy soul.

Two Major Sects

Followers of Jainism are in two major sects—the Digambara (sky clad) and the Svetambara (white clad). While the two groups agree on the basics of Jainism, they tend to disagree on the following:

  • Details of the life of Mahavira, the last known tirthankara
  • Texts regarded as scripture
  • Women’s spiritual status: Digambaras believe that women cannot achieve liberation (freedom from reincarnation) without first being reborn as men. 
  • Whether or not monks should wear clothes: Digambara monks live completely naked with no worldly possessions. Svetambara monks are allowed to have a few possessions including simple white clothing. Nuns of both sects wear clothing. 

Community and Way of Life

Jains tend to live in isolation from other communities, and the two sects are rarely seen together. In India, Jains are some of the wealthiest and influential, especially in the worlds of business and finance. They have also made significant contributions to Indian arts and sciences. 

Because of their fundamental beliefs in non-violence, Jains are some of the strictest vegetarians, excluding all meat and eggs. Some followers refuse to eat anything grown underground because the plant is harmed when it is uprooted. They avoid professions like farming because too many insects are killed in the process. 

How to Pray for Jains

Pray for God to raise up faithful people to intercede for Jains in prayer and for Christians who will carry the gospel to the Jain people. 

Pray that Jains will see that they cannot obtain salvation on their own and begin looking for Jesus who is the answer.

Day 29: India's Techy City

In the month of May, we will share a story and prayer request each day for our 31 days of prayer for India. Please join us in praying for India. Stay tuned for more ways to pray. 

Name: Bangalore (Bengaluru)

Population: 8.6 million

State: Karnataka

Significance: Information Technology Hub

Bangalore, officially known as “Bengalaru,” is called the “Silicon Valley of India” because it is India’s leading exporter of information technology. People from all over India and the world have been relocating to Bangalore in search of a more peaceful life and good jobs. With that comes increased strain on sanitation, electricity, and water supplies. 

Karnataka state, where Bangalore is the capitol, is one of the worst areas for Christian persecution in India. However, the church continues to grow in Bangalore and the rest of the state. 

Pray for the affluent communities of Bangalore who are in search of fulfillment through possessions. Ask that God would become their one desire. 

Pray for God to strengthen believers in Bangalore and around Karnataka state to stand firm in their faith despite opposition.

Day 28: The Gospel and Culture

In the month of May, we will share a story and prayer request each day for our 31 days of prayer for India. Please join us in praying for India. Stay tuned for more ways to pray. 

Sandeep* saw a problem with the way outsiders viewed the church. He noticed that although churches in India are filled with Indian people, they tend to use Western styles of worship, especially with music and instruments. Sandeep realized that many Hindus see Jesus as the foreign, Western god because of this. He prayed for God to guide him in how to change this. 

“God told me to preach to people how they would understand,” Sandeep said. “So then I started using Hindu style songs and I came to realize many were saved when I changed my method.”

Sandeep now seeks to bridge the cultural gap between Indians and Christianity by showing his fellow Indians that Jesus died for all cultures. How can you communicate this to someone from another culture today? 

Pray for Indian pastors like Sandeep who are seeking to reach their people in ways they can relate, with common cultural practices that lead to the gospel.

Pray for more people to learn ways to contextualize the gospel in India and reach a broader audience with the truth of Christ. 

*Name changed

Day 27: The Untouchables

In the month of May, we will share a story and prayer request each day for our 31 days of prayer for India. Please join us in praying for India. Stay tuned for more ways to pray. 

All over India, about 250 million people suffer through life labeled as “untouchables.” These are the Dalits, the lowest caste, so low that they are not included in the four castes defined in traditional Hinduism. The Dalits are the most marginalized and exploited people in Indian society, segregated and looked down upon. Among all of India’s trafficking victims, 90 percent are Dalits and more than 90 Dalits are victims of crime every day. These untouchables live their whole lives feeling unwanted and unloved. 

The Indian Constitution outlawed caste discrimination; however, Dalits still have a hard time in society. A few things have gone in their favor in recent years, such as quotas for government jobs and stigmas against using the term "untouchable." Yet, caste is still a major deal in India, in marriages and politics especially. Upper castes have begun rioting because of the job quotas saying that they are now discriminated against as well.

Pray for the Dalits to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and become children of the God who created them and loves them. 

Pray for Christians in India who are working to help Dalits and seeking to bridge the gap between them and the upper classes.