Dinka religion

Dinka mythology refers to the traditional religion and folk tales of the Dinka, or Muonyjang, ethnic group of South Sudan.

The Dinka have a pantheon of deities. The supreme, creator god is Nhialic he is the god of the sky and rain, and the ruler of all the spirits.[1] He is believed to be present in all of creation, and to control the destiny of every human, plant and animal on Earth. Nhialic is also known as Jaak, Juong or Dyokin by other Nilotic groups such as the Nuer and Shilluk.

Dengdit or Deng, is the sky god of rain and fertility, empowered by Nhialic.[2] Deng's mother is Abuk, the patron goddess of gardening and all women, represented by a snake.[3] Garang, another deity, is believed or assumed by some Dinka to be a god suppressed by Deng whose spirits can cause most Dinka women, and some men, to scream. The term "Jok" refers to a group of ancestral spirits.

Dinka people respect African puff adders because of divinities believed to be found in the snakes. The most commonly respected snakes are Atemyath, Biar keroor, and Maluang. These snakes are given local made molten cheese to appease them, after which they are released into the forest. Killing these snakes is believed to be a bad omen for the community or the individual, with the assumption that spirits may strike the killer.


  1. Lienhardt, p 29
  2. Lienhardt, p 104
  3. Lienhardt, p 90


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