Introduction / History
The Ghatwar Bhuiya are a Hindu agricultural people who live in the northeastern Indian states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. A much smaller population lives in Bangladesh. Their name means "owner of soil." At one time they were nomadic hunter-gatherers but now they are settled agricultural workers. Ironically unlike their name meaning, most Ghatwar are now landless. They toil in fields owned by other higher castes. The Bhuiyas include six subgroups, one of which is the Ghatwar. The primary language of the Bangladeshi Ghatwar is Bengali. A tiny fraction of the Ghatwar claim to be followers of Christ. Many Ghatwar are unable to read and write so the gospel must be shared with them in oral and visual forms.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The majority of the Ghatwar are landless farm workers. In urban areas some Ghatwar work as day laborers in construction and in factories. They are not vegetarians but as poor Bangladeshi most of their diet is composed of plants since meat is costly. As Hindus they will not eat beef. The Ghatwar marry within their group. Marriage to one spouse is theirs regular practice. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Young people often marry in their teens. Sons inherit property upon their father's death. A caste council settles legal disputes and promotes their interests.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Bangladeshi Ghatwar practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Their Hinduism is influenced by animism. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Ghatwar visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Ghatwar people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday. The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories. Dalits and tribal peoples are outside of the caste system. The Ghatwar fit into the working caste.
What Are Their Needs?
The Ghatwar Bhuiya people need to accept the abundant life offered only by Jesus Christ. They need to learn new job skills to improve their place in Bangladeshi society. Their children need good schools and teachers. Most of all the Ghatwar must hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and give them the hope of eternal life.
* Scripture Prayers for the Bhuiya Ghatwar in India.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will lead the Ghatwar to seek and find Christ. Pray that gospel recordings and other Christian resources will provide them with the means to begin an unstoppable disciple making movement to Christ. Pray that they will be lifted up in prayer by many in the family of God. Pray that Bangladeshi believers will go the Ghatwar and tell them about Jesus.