Introduction / History
The Kalwars were traditionally distillers and sellers of alcohol in north and central India. Their name comes from the Sanskrit word for "distiller of liquor." Since this profession was considered demeaning by most castes in Indian society, many Kalwars around the year 1900 began to leave their original trade for other careers. The Kalwar speak the primary languages of the states where they live. The majority of the Kalwars live in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Smaller numbers live in Bangladesh.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Although some of the Kalwars still are in the liquor business, most have taken jobs in agriculture, business, the military, government service, medicine, accounting, education, and engineering. Alcoholism is a problem among the Kalwars. The Kalwars are not vegetarians, but they will not eat beef or pork. Rice and wheat are their staples along with vegetables, fruit and dairy products. The Kalwars are endogamous, that is they do not marry outsiders. Marriage outside of the immediate clan is permitted. Families arrange marriages that are officiated by a Brahmin priest. The newly married couple lives with or near the groom's family. Monogamy (marriage to one spouse) and adult marriage are the general rule. Most Kalwars live in extended families. Sons inherit property with the oldest son receiving the family house and father's authority.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Kalwars of Hindu tradition worship all the deities of the Hindu pantheon and especially Vishnu, the preserver god and his consort Lakshmi. They also worship two of Vishnu's incarnations, Rama and Krishna. A priest from their own community performs ceremonies that cure diseases and protect against evil spirits. They cremate their dead and scatter the ashes, preferably in the holy Ganges River. The Kalwar participate in Hindu holidays like Holi, the festival of colors, Navratri, celebration of nine nights, Ramanavmi, the birthday of Rama and Janamashtami, the birthday of Krishna.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kalwar need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ who died for their sins. They need to see biblical Christianity lived out of Christ followers. They need to have the opportunity to join Bible-believing fellowships led by their peers.
Pray the Lord would send believers to befriend and work with the Kalwars. Pray that each Kalwar would have the opportunity to hear the gospel in an understandable way. Pray for a spiritual openness that will draw the Kalwar people to the cross and the empty grave.
Scripture Prayers for the Kalwar (Hindu traditions) in Bangladesh.