The Od of Pakistan
Most of the Od live in the province of Sindh in southeastern Pakistan, an area that is mostly desert. They are divided into two distinct socio- economic classes: professionals and laborers. Those of the professional class, having obtained higher education, have become doctors, lawyers, or government workers. The majority of the Od, however, are construction laborers as they have been since the late 1800's when the British governed what is now Pakistan.
Believing that they are of Rajput (Raj means king) origin, the Od are proud of their heritage and possess a strong sense of unity and family. In general, they are a shy, reserved, hospitable, and very hard working people.
Their language, Odki, is an Indo-Aryan language, but writers are not certain about further ethnological origins or cultural connections. It is believed that about 80% of the Od are also fluent in the Sindhi language.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Until the introduction of irrigation into the area at the end of the nineteenth century, much of the land in the Sindh province was desolate. The use of irrigation now provides the possibility of cultivation. Problems persist, however, as the groundwater in the region is mostly salty and unfit for agricultural use.
The Od live a relatively mobile lifestyle. When one building project is finished, the group will relocate to wherever other work is found. They are not property owners, but rather live in a designated area provided by the employer until completion of the project. The sizes of their villages varies from 10 to 15 families, depending on the work available.
Laborers that are involved in making bricks, digging canals and wells, as well as building mud walls, railroad tracks, and roads, conduct their work by hand. Donkeys are used to carry the dirt needed for their construction projects. As machinery is introduced, manual laborers are needed less and less. As a result, many of the younger men have begun moving to other areas in search of various occupations in the labor market. Many are now learning to drive vehicles.
The Od live in patriarchal (male-dominated) extended family units, usually with at least six people under one roof. The father is the provider of the family, while the mother tends to the household duties and handles most of the discipline. After the children are grown, the women work alongside the men, herding donkeys and helping with the construction projects.
The Od wear long, loose-fitting clothing. Turbans are worn by the older men. The women wear distinctive full skirts called gagaros, which extend to the ground and have colorful hems. They also wear large head scarves, but no veils to cover their faces, as do the Muslim women of Pakistan.
The Od diet is similar to that of most Hindu Pakistanis, although they will also eat any kind of meat except cow and tortoise. Flat breads, spicy vegetables, and lentils are common. Men eat outside on a mat. The women serve the men, then eat inside with the children. The Od are generally very clean people.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Od consider themselves to be Hindu, although there is a portion (8%) who have converted to Islam. These Muslims are strict in their religious practices and pray regularly. Though lacking in secular education, they are enthusiastic about learning the Koran.
The Hindu Od still follow the customs and ceremonies that have governed the lives of the Od for generations, yet they are only casual observers of the Hindu religion. They celebrate the Hindu holy days, but are considered outcasts because of their animistic tendencies (believing that non-human objects have spirits).
What Are Their Needs?
There is much hatred between the Hindus and the dominant Muslims in Pakistan. Hindu temples and idols are not tolerated, and Od women are sometimes abducted by Muslim men. The Od need to know that peace and love can be found through Jesus Christ.
- Ask the Lord to call missionaries and teachers who are willing to go to Pakistan and share Christ with the Od.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Od bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Od.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Od who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
- Pray that the Lord will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Odki language.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant church among the Od for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Od
- Country: Pakistan
- Their language: Odki
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 2%
- Church members: 1,049
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 13,100 (25%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 39,400 (75%)
- Country: Pakistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 37
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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