Prayer Profile
The Marwari of Pakistan

[IMAGE] The Marwari live in south Punjab Province, east of Khanpur and near the border of India in the Thar Desert. They are distinguished from the Southern Marwari by their location (north of Dadu and Nawabshah) and by some differences in 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 Hindu 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. The Marwari tribes are traditionally considered an "untouchable" caste by the caste-conscious Hindus.

What are their lives like?
The Marwari live in either the countryside or the cities. Those living in rural areas scratch out a living as farmers and/or migrant farm workers who follow seasonal crops to earn extra income for their families. The farmers depend on the monsoon rains to grow their main crops of wheat and millet (a cereal grass), plus crops of rice, cotton lint, and corn. Irrigation is the key to making the arid land productive. The large irrigation and power project that is now operating in southeastern Pakistan is important in helping to reclaim desert areas for farming. It will also offer economic hope to the farmers.

Some rural dwellers earn their living by tanning leather; others work in the wool industries. City residents support themselves through occupations such as tanning leather, weaving, or a variety of similar commercial activities.

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.

The Marwari are a generous and hospitable people who gladly share what they have with passing caravan travelers. Marwari families are patriarchal (the father is head of the family). Marriage is considered more of 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.

What are their beliefs?
Almost all 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!

Pakistani Muslims criticize the small number Muslim Marwari because of the strong influence created by the Hindu Marwari. However, Marwari Muslims are now more acceptable to other Muslims because all Muslims have united against the country's minority Hindu population (less than two percent in all of Pakistan).

What are their needs?
The Marwari have been deeply scarred by war and religious division. Missions agencies are currently laboring among the Marwari, but additional Christian workers are urgently needed—especially workers who are native to the country. The tiny number of Marwari Christians desperately need help and support.

Portions of the Bible and the Jesus film have been translated into Marwari, but Christian broadcasts are not yet available.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that God will grant His wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are currently working among the Marwari.
  • 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 small number of Marwari Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams that will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Marwari.
  • Pray that Christian broadcasts will soon be made available in the Marwari language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Marwari church for the glory of His Name!

See also:
The Southern Marwari of Pakistan, and the Dhatki Marwari of Pakistan.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Marwari
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Their language: Merwari
  • Population: (1990) 61,000
    (1995) 70,200
    (2000) 80,900
  • Largest religion: Hindu 86%
    Muslim 13%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 702
  • 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: 2
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 21,100 (30%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 4,900 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 16,200 (23%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 49,100 (70%)
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Population: (1990) 121,933,300
    (1995) 140,496,700
    (2000) 161,827,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Western Punjabi 42.5%
    Sindhi 11.6%
    Southern Punjabi 9.8%
    Eastern Pathan 7.9%
    Urdu 7.4%
  • Major religions: Muslim 96.7%
    Christian 1.8%
    Hindu 1.5%
  • Number of denominations: 37

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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