The Garhwali of India
With a culture over 4,000 years old and the world's second largest population, India contains a multitude of closely related people groups. Over thousands of years, these countless groups have migrated into this subcontinent, and many have maintained distinctive cultures. Today, more than 800 languages are spoken in India, and the complex Hindu "caste" system has further divided the people into an endless number of social classes.
The Garhwali (also known as the Central Pahari) are one of the many Hindu people groups of India. They are primarily located in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir. This is a rugged mountain region in which roads are merely mule tracks or footpaths winding around the outer slopes of the Himalayas.
The Garhwali are a hardworking and often isolated people. Many of their villages are snowbound for up to four months a year, and the people must live on what they have stored away.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most of the Garhwali are poor, honest farmers. They cultivate terraces on hillsides which produce only meager crops twice a year. Their principal crops are potatoes and rice, and a variety of other vegetables are also grown. Fertilizer is used, as well as a system of plot rotation in which the ground is allowed to lie fallow. Wet rice is grown during the monsoon season, whereas dry rice, maize, millet, and wheat are raised on the drier land during the summer and winter months. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk. The villagers live on a simple diet of milk, lentils, a few vegetables, a little fruit, and occasionally meat.
The Garhwali live in extended families in villages that consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by the farm land. The villages are generally situated near rivers or springs, and the homes are connected by footpaths. Sometimes the paths meet together near a large tree that is used as a meeting place for the villagers as well as a resting place for travelers.
The houses are rectangular in shape with stone and mortar walls reinforced by wooden beams. The roofs are made of slate, wood, or thatch. Doors, windows, and door frames are often ornately carved and painted. The houses usually have two or more stories, with the people living on the second floor and the animals roaming freely on the ground floor.
During religious festivals or village fairs, the women like to wear brightly colored clothes, heavy silver nose rings and earrings, and colorful head scarves.
There are many rites of passage for children such as the first rice feeding and the first haircut. Also, girls go through puberty rites and boys go through initiations known as "sacred thread ceremonies." When they are about eight years old, the children begin doing domestic chores. Girls care for the younger children, haul water, and carry food for the animals. Boys tend the animals, help in the fields, or carry milk to the market. Many children walk up to five or six miles a day to school.
The women do most of the work in the fields. They sow, plow, weed, and reap. They also care for the children, keep the house, and tend to the animals.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Virtually all of the Garhwali are Hindus; however, they are not as strict in their observance of religious laws as other Hindus communities. They recognize the five Pandava brothers (heroic warriors of a Hindu epic) as deities, although other Hindus do not. Altogether, they worship more than five hundred gods and goddesses that must be appeased with sacrifices.
What Are Their Needs?
Very few Christian resources are available to the Garhwali. At the present time, only portions of the Bible have been translated into their native language, Tehri. Christian radio broadcasts and a translation of the Jesus film are still needed. Although five missions agencies are currently working among the Garhwali, there are only 281 known Garhwali believers.
- Pray against the spirit of Hinduism that has kept the Garhwali bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Garhwali.
- Pray for God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to give the Garhwali Christians boldness to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete translation of the Bible into Tehri.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the people toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of India's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Garhwali by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Garhwali (Central Pahari)
- Country: India
- Their language: Tehri
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 281
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 5
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 187,400 (20%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 748,300 (80%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 163
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.