Tha Kashtwari of India
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is extremely difficult to adequately describe any single people group. Ranking second only to China among the world's most populous nations, India has a population of more than 935,000,000. The overall population density is about 762 people per square mile.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan, and the Eastern and Western Ghats Mountains. Because of numerous geographical features, climatic conditions vary on both a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
In the midst of this complexity can be found the 20,000 Kashtwari. They are located mainly in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. Their language, Kishtwari, is part of the Indo-Aryan language family. Little is known about their specific lifestyle.
What Are Their Lives Like
About 73% of India's population lives in rural areas and is engaged in some form of agriculture. Many are farmers barely growing enough to survive. Farms are extremely small and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the economy. Because of Hindu influence, however, these animals are used almost exclusively as beasts of burden rather than sources of meat.
Indian culture is primarily Hindu-oriented. Many Hindu institutions, including the rigid caste (social class) system, have wide-ranging effects on Indian society. The word "caste" basically means breed, race, or kind. Indian society is divided into hierarchical castes that are usually endogamous (marriage only within the caste). Castes may be defined by occupation or by kinship and lineage, although there are some exceptions. Nevertheless, caste is so fundamental to the social organization of India that it prevails in all parts, except some of the tribal populations. Not enough is known about the Kashtwari to accurately place them in the caste system; thus, their particular lifestyle cannot be adequately described.
Since independence, the Indian government has been attentive to the health problems of the nation. Despite vigorous efforts in the areas of preventive medicine, sanitation, and nutrition, health conditions remain poor. Much of the population continues to suffer from malnutrition, and starvation is a frequent result of drought.
The various ethnic groups of Jammu, which include many Kashtwari, are simple and open-hearted with a good sense of humor. They are generally good-looking, smart, tall, and well built. Most people eat three meals a day and have been known to drink alcoholic beverages. Their social life is reflected in their festivals and fairs, most of which are associated with religious events.
What Are Their Belief?
About 12% of India's population practices Islam. Most of the Muslims are located in the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir. An armed conflict over independence continues in that area today. Islam, which was first brought to India from Central Asia in the twelfth century, has provided India with some of its most impressive architectural traditions. One of the most famous examples is the world-renowned Taj Mahal, located in Agra, northern India.
The Kashtwari are 90% Muslim. As such, they adhere to the five "pillars," or duties, of Islam. These include affirming that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet;" praying five times daily; giving alms generously; fasting during the holy month of Ramadan; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca, if possible. Most of the Kashtwari, however, do not have the opportunity to travel to Mecca on the Haj, or pilgrimage.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kashtwari do not have any Christian resources available to them, and there are no missions agencies currently targeting them. Presently, there are only four known believers among them. Faithful intercessors are the key to seeing the Gospel advanced among the Kashtwari.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to call missionaries who will share the Good News with the Kashtwari.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and evangelical literature will be made available to the Kashtwari.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the Kashtwari to receive the Gospel message.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Kashtwari through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Kashtwari who will openly confess Jesus as Lord.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Kashtwari bound.
- Ask God to raise up a mighty army of intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Kashtwari.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Kashtwari by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kashtwari
- Country: India
- Their language: Kishtwari
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 4
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,400 (12%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 17,600 (88%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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