The Sansi Bhil of Pakistan
The Sansi Bhil inhabit the rural areas of northwest Pakistan's Sindh Province. They are classified as a Bhil ethnic group, and their native language, Sansi, belongs to the Indo-Aryan linguistic family. Most of the Sansi Bhil are bilingual, speaking both Sansi and the language of their particular region, such as Sindhi, Urdu, or Punjabi.
The known history of the Sansi dates back to their defeat in the Moghal wars, which took place between the 1500's and the 1700's. When they lost their lands in these wars, the Sansi began to roam northern India and became known as a wandering community. Due to ongoing conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims, Pakistan was established as a separate Muslim state in 1947. At the partition, the Sansi, along with other Muslims of the Eastern Punjab region, migrated to Pakistan. There, they lived below the poverty line and were forced to beg for food. In order to survive, some adopted habits such as stealing and cattle-lifting, and became part of the "criminal castes."
What are their lives like?
Working as cattle herders and field hands for wealthy Pakistani landowners, the Sansi scrape out a meager livelihood. Because no land provisions were made for them when Pakistan was created, very few of the Sansi own their own land. Many are slaves, and the landowners that have kept them for generations are reluctant to set them free—an issue that is causing significant dissension within Pakistan.
Many of the lower caste Hindu Sansi are migrant farm workers. They follow the seasonal crops to bring extra income to their suffering families. Wheat and maize are the staple crops, followed by rice, cotton lint, and millet. Skilled and unskilled Sansi laborers also have jobs in factories and mills.
Women have an honorable position in Sansi culture. Adult marriages are the norm, with the bride leaving her family to live with the groom's family until they can set up their own household. For many years the Sansi lived in extended family units. However, the number of nuclear families is now increasing.
Some of the Sansi villages are very small, containing only one or two extended families. The Sansi villages that are located near other Sindh villages usually remain isolated. The Sansi have very little in the way of wealth, and their traditional plaster houses are cramped and dirty. Today, some of them are building houses that have more rooms so joint family living will not be so congested.
For the Sansi who are Hindus, Brahmans (Hindu priests and scholars) make up the highest caste. The "scheduled castes," which include most Sansi, make up the lowest social class. The Hindu Sansi are divided into patriarchal clans, which means that the father is the head of the family.
The standards of education, health, and diet are very poor among the Sansi. They also lack quality drinking water. Unfortunately, many of the Sansi have become alcoholics. Though poor, the Sansi have a rich folklore history, which they have passed on to their children through verbal tales.
What are their beliefs?
While many of the Sansi who immigrated from India to Pakistan in 1947 quickly became Muslims, others maintained their Hindu traditions, which include superstitions, omens, and fears. For Hindus, all animate and inanimate objects may be the abode of all sorts of spirits. They are extremely fearful of the spirit of a person who dies suddenly and of the "evil eye," a jealous look that carries a curse with it.
What are their needs?
The Sansi desperately need to be socially educated. Spiritually, their greatest need is justice—to be treated as valuable people and lifted out of oppression and depression. Only God can bring inner healing to the Sansi and give them the stability and security they have needed for so long.
Few Christian resources, including the Bible, are available in the Sansi language. Neither the Jesus film nor Christian broadcasts have been translated into Sansi. No missions agencies are currently working among these desperately needy people.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to live and work among the Sansi Bhil of Pakistan.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Sansi language.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Sansi language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Pray that the doors of Pakistan will soon open to missionaries.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Sansi bound.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant Sansi Bhil church for the glory of His name!
See also the following Bhil Groups:
The Central Bhil;
The Chodhari Bhil;
The Dangs Bhil;
The Dhatki Bhil;
The Eastern Bhil Bhilbari;
The Pardhi Bhil;
The Pawari Bhil;
The Tadvi Bhil;
The Rajput Garasia;
The Adiwasi Garasia;
The Meghwar Bhil.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Sansi Bhil
- Country: Pakistan
- Their language: Sansi
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1%
- Church members: 141
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: None
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,100 (22%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,000 78%
- Country: Pakistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 37
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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