Bengali

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Immigrants from: Bangladesh, India

Population in Australia: 62,000

Where in VIC: Wyndham, Maribyrnong, Oakleigh, Coburg, Sunshine, Casey, Dandenong

Languages: Bengali

Religion: Islam, Hindu

Christian witness: 0.46% evangelical in Australia

The Bengal homeland is the land between the Himalayas and the sea, to the east of mainland India. This region is most of the country of Bangladesh and some provinces of Eastern India. 

The Bengali are the third largest people group in the world (following the Chinese and the Arabs) They are also the world’s largest unreached people group (defined as less than 2% Christian).

There are two distinct cultures of Bengali people. The West Bengali, in India, and the East Bengali in Bangladesh. This distinction is less significant in a diaspora context but should still be noted.

The largest populations of Bengali immigrants are in NSW but there are significant communities in Melbourne too. The most common reason for Bengalis immigrating from the 1990s onwards was assistance under the Australian Federal Government Humanitarian program. Some also immigrated as skilled workers filling labour shortages, and some immigrated as family repatriation to rejoin those skilled workers. 

The Bengali people love a good story, especially an emotional one with aspects of struggle and romance woven in. They love a good argument and are not strangers to political protests. Bengalis value education and are usually up to date with world events and also aware of many cultures and respect diversity. 

The famous Mother Teresa (of Albania) spent most of her life in Calcutta (Kolkota), which is a Bengali city. Many upperclass Bengali converted during the time of British rule. The numbers can seem large but quickly dissappear when taken as a percentage in this large people group. Multiplication, not addition will be the key.