The Dhatki Marwari of Pakistan
The Dhatki Marwari is one of the people groups traditionally considered as "untouchable" by the caste-conscious Hindus. The partition of India into two countries (India and Pakistan) in 1947 created millions of Hindu and Muslim refugees, and the majority of Hindu Marwari probably fled to India. Sadly, the ancient antagonism between the majority Muslim and minority Hindu Marwari tribes was not lessened by the partition. The lower Sindh in the Tharparkar and Sanghar districts of southeastern Pakistan, where the Dhatki Marwari live, was the scene of bitter border disputes from 1965-1971.
Their language, also called Dhatki Marwari, is a sub-group of the Bhil languages and part of the Indo-Aryan linguistic family. The Dhatki Marwari language is mostly a spoken tongue, although there are some newspapers written in the language. Many of the Marwari are also moderately bilingual in Sindhi.
What are their lives like?
The majority of Marwari are farmers and/or migrant farm workers who follow the seasonal crop harvesting to bring extra income to their suffering families. Farming requires irrigation because the land is arid, so monsoon rains are vital to their existence. Wheat and millet (a cereal grass) are staple food crops, followed by rice, cotton lint, and corn. The few Marwari, who live in urban areas are book and cloth makers.
Marriage for the Marwari is a union between two families more than two individuals. Most marriages are arranged, with much consideration given to caste and social rank. For those who are Hindus, Brahmans are the highest caste; whereas the scheduled castes (which include most Marwari), are regarded as the lowest, and are usually poor peasants and agricultural laborers. In rural areas, young couples generally live with the husband's family.
Marwari women are easily spotted because of their long red petticoat skirts. In the villages, parents forbid the abandonment of this traditional dress, which is worn in every activity; but when young women go to the city they convert to the Pakistani women's full pants and long top so they blend in with other women.
Many Marwari have been abused, brutalized, and subjected to the indignity of slavery. A recent Pakistani task force sent to rural Sindh identified private jails maintained by Pakistani landlords with freed bonded haris (Marwari slaves) being kept there, often in chains. In a series of raids, the Human Rights Commission volunteers accompanied by journalists released about one thousand haris, some of whom had been in bondage for twenty-four years. Landlords justified such actions by stating that the Marwari were indebted to them for sums borrowed years ago (but repaid many times over through hard work). The landlords called it a "partnership between tenant and landlord."
What are their beliefs?
Strong religious tensions exist between the majority of the Marwari, who are
Muslim, and the minority, who are Hindu. The Hindus celebrate the birthday of the Hindu god Krishna. They also practice many animistic rituals, which reflects the belief that non-living objects have spirits. All of the Marwari seem to have some remnant of animistic practices, but this appears to be insignificant among the Muslims because the strength and influence of Islam in Pakistan is much stronger than in other places.
What are their needs?
The earliest evidence of successful evangelism in the Sindh area was 1925. However, little was done to foster and preserve those beginnings, and at present there are only a handful of Marwari Christians. A few missionaries are working among the Marwari, but dedicated Christian workers are urgently needed. Researchers say that if the remaining Marwari are not reached soon they will become Muslims within ten years.
The New Testament and the Jesus film are available in the Marwari language, but Christian broadcasts in their language are not yet available.
- Pray that God will supply qualified linguists to complete the translation of the Bible into the Marwari language.
- Pray that the Lord will raise up long-term workers to join the few who have already responded.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Dhatki Marwari.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Dhatki Marwari Christians.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Take authority over the principalities and powers that are keeping the Dhatki Marwari bound in spiritual darkness.
- Pray that God will raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Marwari church for the glory of His name!
The Marwari of Pakistan,
The Southern Marwari of Pakistan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dhatki Marwari
- Country: Pakistan
- Their language: Marwari Dhatki
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 262
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 34,400 (27%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 96,800 (73%)
- Country: Pakistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 37
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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