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Among the Paharias of northern India
Earlier this year Swapan Roy, senior recordist in India wrote...
In 1993, I was in Mukri Pahar where I made first recordings in common Paharia language and produced outreach cassettes for the Paharias. Those recordings were used by the "Friends Missionary Prayer Band" missionaries for years and gave excellent results. Many new congregations were formed and a number of churches started. Then FMPB missionaries bought many of our Good News picture books and Look Listen and Live Picture books and still they are using those to teach believers as well as non-believers and children. Recently I met my old friend Solomon, who again asked me to work with him, and make some new recordings in SAURIA, KUMHAR BHAG and MAL PAHARIAS (Pahari dialects). I agreed and sent him scripts and instructions.
Solomon called his co-workers from the 3 different Paharia language groups. They worked together and translated the scripts, composed songs and chose musicians, singers and speakers. Most of our language helpers were illiterate and they had to work night and day to prepare their respective groups. It took more than a week of hard work - and that was only the beginning!
Getting to the place for recording was very tiring and difficult. Roads were bad and public transport non-existent. When we arrived we found that there was no electricity and no telephones. The nearest market was 20km away and we had to hire a jeep to bring a generator and other vital supplies.
Over the next 6 days 37 short scripts, 41 songs and a Good News commentary were recorded in three Paharia dialects. We hadn't even completed the recording when the orders started flooding in! The helpers themselves wanted more than 1100 CDs for use in outreach in the area along with CDs in other languages recorded previously. They wanted more recordings as well. Indian missionaries and local believers hope to reach many homes with the Gospel on these recordings.
Its a great partnership and a privilege for GRN to be able to support and provide resources for this ministry. Swapan asks for prayer for local converts and Christian leaders who are often harassed and persecuted by political and religious leaders and other villagers in the area. Pray too that many will turn to the Lord through hearing the recordings.
Recordists face many frustrations! Here are some more excerpts from Swapan's letters...
"... we called them for the recording of songs. Many promised to help us, but when the time came only 5 of them arrived. With the help of a musician, they could sing 10 songs, which took a whole day. Often they lost the link with music while singing, rhythms were mistaken and so on. The singers said that they have never sang before through a microphone, and so they were afraid. We always encouraged them, but could not remove their fear. Praise God, at last that they did their work...."
"Our recording started in MARWARI:Dhundari language... Seven language helpers came from the villages and I gave them those scripts. (I sent our GRN scripts in January, but no translation was done.) Each person took two/three scripts and they started to practise in their local language;. We assisted them each time they needed help. Their job was not easy as they cannot read very well...from 2nd May to 6th May we worked with them and recorded 12 messages and songs in their language. Even after the translation was done, none of the speakers could read the text well. They had never done this before. So, I had to read the script in Hindi before them many times and prepare them to speak. Often we were discouraged too..."
"... Next two days we used them to speak the messages. I took each person and read the scripts in Hindi before them several times, and then asked them to speak. I had to remind them again and again what and how they should speak. It was a very tiresome job as the temperature in Lucknow was very high, and no fan was installed in our recording room..." About the Paharias
"Pahar" means mountain and the Paharia are hill dwellers living in areas about 2-300km north west of Kolkata. Formally nomadic, they now live on very unproductive lands and struggle for existence. Largely illiterate, frequently under nourished and prone to disease and often exploited by others, the Paharias are in great need. Most of them are animists though some have converted to Christianity and Hinduism.
Their spiritual need is even greater than their physical need.
"...When we reached Jodhpur, our field contact called several people to his home. One by one they came to help our work, but later one by one they also left saying, " I can't do this work, and I do not have time for it", Still there were few who gave their time for this job. By the grace of God, we recorded 12 messages and two testimonies..."
On another trip "...Even though we sent the scripts two months ago, they did nothing. They could not read Hindi, and so gave up the translation process. Every time I called my contact before my departure, I heard, 'Sir, everything is ready'. 'What a wonderful people', I thought. But when I reached there, I found nothing was ready. So, what to do now. I was angry in heart, but could not express to them. I showed patience and explained to them how they should help us."