The Teli Samaj are a caste of people in India who are known as the “oil pressers” The lower ranked caste has a population of over 18 million people and more than 99% of them are Hindu. ‘The Teli community is one of these: “A community which derives its name from the Sanskrit word talika or taila, used for the oil extracted from sesame and mustard, thus alluding to their traditional occupation… Mythological origin of the Teli is traced to Lord Shiva who created them to destroy five demons. However, their legend also says that the first Teli was created by Shiva to rub him with oil.” (Singh, K. S., India’s Communities, p. 3462, www.joshuaproject.net)
There are many of the Teli who are living in Bihar and Jharkhand states. The Teli have mostly kept to themselves not marrying outside of their caste. They don’t usually go outside of their caste for community growth including in the medical and healthcare fields. Our Rural Medical Services (RMS) recently visited a village of Teli. They shared information on health education and did free health checks. On June 22nd the RMS team conducted a Blood donation awareness camp. The District Commissioner, the Superintendent of Police and the CS were present at the occasion to hand out certificates to those who donated blood. This was a big deal where the Teli are concerned because the majority of them have never given blood before. They have always had the primitive mindset of “why should I give my blood to someone else, I need it!” When they were educated on blood and how our bodies make blood and what donated blood would do for others, they became interested and wanted to help.
About 30 of the Teli community came to the camp that day and 13 of them gave their blood! This camp helped fight against the traditions of old. Now that others in the community can see that donating blood is easy and won’t harm you they will be more willing to do so in the future. The Teli villagers are eager for our RMS team to visit again soon.