The Southern Marwari of Pakistan
The Southern Marwari live in the Sindh and southern Punjab provinces, east of Hyderabad on the Nara Canal. They are distinguished from the Northern Marwari by their location (south of Dadu and Nawabshah) and by some differences in the language. The Marwari language is mostly a spoken tongue, but newspapers are sometimes written in it. The people are moderately bilingual in Sindhi and some also speak Urdu.
When Pakistan and India were separated in 1947, millions of Hindus and Muslims became refugees. Most of the Hindus fled to India, but some of the lower castes, such as the Marwari, chose to remain in their homeland. The partition did nothing to ease the ancient antagonism between the Muslims, who are now the vast majority of the population, and the minority Hindus. Despite their classification as "outcastes," the Marwari take great pride in their tribe.
What are their lives like?
The Southern Marwari belong to the Hindu "scheduled castes," traditionally known as the "untouchables." Members of the higher castes, such as the Brahmans (scholars and Hindu priests), despise those belonging to the scheduled castes.
Some of the Southern Marwari have become prosperous business owners and now live in cities around the Sindh province. However, many of those in rural areas scratch out a living as farmers and/or migrant farm workers. They follow seasonal crops to earn extra income for their families. The farmers depend on the monsoon rains and on irrigation from canals to nourish the arid soil. Their main food crops are wheat and millet (a cereal grass); they also grow rice, corn, and cotton lint.
The long petticoat-type skirts worn by rural Marwari women make them easy to identify from a distance. Village parents forbid girls to abandon the traditional dress, which is worn at all times. However, when young women travel to the city they convert to the Pakistani women's full pants and long top so they will blend in with the rest of the population.
Among the Marwari, marriage is considered more a union between two families than between two individuals. Most marriages are arranged, with much care given to the caste and social rank of the bride and groom. In rural areas, a young couple generally lives with the groom's family.
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?
Almost all Southern Marwari are Hindus, but their beliefs are mixed with various elements of Islam and animism (the belief that non-human objects have spirits). One example is an animist ritual for the dead that calls for sacrificial dough balls made of wheat flour and water to be left out for the crows. If the crows eat the dough balls, the Marwari believe the spirit of the departed person is in torment. There have been reports that no birds approach the dough balls of those who have accepted Jesus!
What are their needs?
The earliest evidence of successful evangelization among the Southern Marwari dates back to the 1900's. However, little was done to foster and preserve those beginnings, and currently there are very few known Southern Marwari believers. A few missionaries are working among the Southern Marwari, but more dedicated Christian workers are urgently needed.
- 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 additional long-term workers to join those who have already responded.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the few Marwari Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Southern Marwari.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Hindu Marwari towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Southern Marwari by the year 2000.
The Marwari of Pakistan, and the
Dhatki Marwari of Pakistan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Southern Marwari
- Country: Pakistan
- Their language: Marwari
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 169
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions
- 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: 26,300 (32%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 58,000 (68%)
- Country: Pakistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 37
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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