Introduction / History
Long ago, the prosperity of Gujarat state enticed people of surrounding states and made it a target of various Muslim tribes. The Islamic rulers reached their greatest power under the Monghal Dynasty and overtook the Gujarat kingdom by the end of the thirteenth century. However, the Hindu Maratha fought the Monghals and also established an empire in Gujarat. Apparently, the Pardhi came under Maratha influence. As these groups continued warring over the Gujarat territory, the British rose to power by 1817. They scattered the Pardhi into other areas, taking whatever jobs were available. The British damaged their reputation labeling them a "criminal" caste.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Today, the Pardhi Bhil comprises many distinctive sub-groups. Their language, Pardhi, is one of the Bhil languages. They derive their name from the Marathi word paradh, which means "hunting." They are a migrant people, scattered over a wide area of central India in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
The Pardhi are a wandering tribe of game and bird hunters, living in simple huts that are made of mud and sticks. Those who live in Kutch (northwestern Gujarat) enjoy catching snakes, and many of them have become snake charmers. Many Pardhi communities make and sell baskets, while others make black-stone vessels. Some of the Pardhis sell oil from crocodiles or perform monkey shows. Commonly, the Pardhi hire themselves out as day laborers. Many are scavengers or ragpickers, and they sometimes get harassed by the police.
What Are Their Beliefs?
They are having trouble adjusting to modern Indian society. Their nomadic background and their reputation as petty criminals make other communities suspicious of the Pardhis. Some Pardhis have risen above this by leading tours where they show the flora, fauna and wildlife to tourists in their central Indian homeland. One of their women is making a point of getting Pardhi children into classrooms so they can get the education they need as India modernizes. This is difficult to do for a nomadic people.
As is the practice of most Bhil tribes, the Pardhi marry only within their own sub-groups.
Though they are officially Hindu, most of the Pardhi practice ethnic religions. They are firm believers in the spirit world and its influence on the physical world. They worship millions of gods and goddesses in their houses. They believe these deities must be worshipped and appeased in various ways.
What Are Their Needs?
Believers with the right skills can help the Pardhi community learn needed vocations so they can earn a good living in the modern age.
Pray that God will send culturally sensitive missionaries who will show them the way to the cross.
Pray for a Christ-ward movement to flourish among the Pardhi community in the 2020s.
Pray for the Pardhi people to be blessed with peace, joy and spiritual prosperity as they follow Jesus Christ.
Pray for their leaders to have dreams and visions that will open their hearts to Jesus Christ and his ambassadors.
Scripture Prayers for the Pardhi in India.