Introduction / History
The Raigar or Reger are a subgroup of the large Chamar peoples. The Chamars have very little status since they deal with leather in a land where the cow is sacred. They make belts, shoes and handbags from leather. Their name comes from the Sanskrit word for "leather worker." Like other Chamars, the Raigar are seen as being outside or beneath the four main castes of Hinduism. They are a Scheduled Caste meaning that they are eligible for public jobs and special consideration for university admissions. Unfortunately, illiteracy is high among the Raigar especially in their women.
Where Are they Located?
The primary language of the Raigar is Hindi. They also speak other regional languages. Many Christian resources are available in Hindi including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film.
Though other Chamar communities live throughout India, the Raigar subgroup lives in Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Like other Dalit groups, the Raigar Chamar live impoverished lives. They often have to live outside of villages due to the smell of the leather and the chemicals used to treat it. Even though they are Hindus, they are often not allowed to visit and worship at Hindu temples. They must build their own shrines for serving their gods.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Raigar marry within their group but not within their particular clan. Sons inherit the property of their father. Most boys go to school for a few years while the girls stay at home to help their mothers.
Raigar are not vegetarians. With few exceptions, they don't eat beef due to their Hindu faith. Their main foods are rice, millet, maize, wheat, and vegetables. Meat is often reserved for special days.
Many Chamar groups have banded together with other Dalits to form their own political party. Some Chamar have been elected to offices that were traditionally reserved for upper castes. The Chamar are rich in oral tradition and has a large repertoire of folk songs, sung to the accompaniment of drums.
The Raigar Chamar people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. Shiva, the destroyer god, and Ganesh, the god of good fortune, are given special attention by them. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods whom they believe will give them favor and protection. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians.
What Are Their Needs?
As a Dalit group, the Raigar Chamar have tremendous needs. They need to see Christianity lived out before them in practical ways. If the Raigar are to make any progress, they need to learn to read and write. Most Raigar need access to modern medicine. They need to learn new job skills. Most of all, they need to hear and respond to the message of Jesus Christ. He alone can give them hope of a better life and get them right with the one, true God.
* Scripture Prayers for the Chamar Raigar in India.
Pray for the Raigar Chamar people to have hearts that are open to the abundant blessings of Jesus Christ.
Pray for their families to prosper financially and spiritually as they experience a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray for a disciple-making movement among the Raigar Chamars that will spread joy, peace, and salvation to other peoples in India.