Introduction / History
In 1949, the Indian government allowed one representative from each tribal group to be in the legislature. The state of Cutch was the least developed at that time. However, in spite of their disadvantages, some of the Cutch have become very successful. Many migrated to Kenya and Tanzania and now live in the main cities and along important trade routes. Although living conditions in these countries vary, the Cutch who have emigrated are usually from the higher, wealthier castes and have maintained several aspects of their own culture. Many of them work as masons and merchants.
Where are they located?
The Cutch Indians are concentrated primarily in Central India, particularly Uttar Pradesh. Their language, Kachchi, is one of the Sindhi languages. Many of the Cutch who live in India also speak Hindi.
What are their lives like?
Since the Cutch are scattered throughout various states in central India, their lifestyles differ from place to place. They are classified into several divisions and subdivisions that may eat together, but not intermarry. Child marriages are common, even as early as age ten.
The average Cutch tribe is made up of a caste of vegetable growers or gardeners. Some grow grains and cotton. In southern Pakistan and west central India, there are Cutch who live in Rann of Kachchh. There, salty sand bars have been deposited for centuries, causing flooding during monsoon season. For that reason, settlements are limited to low, isolated hills. There, the Cutch live in bamboo houses made with thatch roofs. Their gardens are located next to their homes.
Although it was a long time in coming, the Cutch in the lowland districts of Kutch obtained permission to have a local legislature. For decades, the government had appointed chief commissioners to be in charge of village politics. The local legislatures provide them with the right to manage their own affairs. Many important and very wealthy Muslim merchants, who originated in the Kachchh District of western Gujarat, are now widespread throughout India.
The Kutch shield, which reads "courage and confidence," accurately represents the general character of the Cutch. They were a neglected people for centuries, until in the 1950's when they were finally introduced to modern conveniences, roads, and a railway proposal. Their courage and confidence have enabled them to make much progress since that time.
In Kenya and Tanzania, Kachchi is only spoken at home. Schools are taught in English, even though only some of the Cutch in Tanzania have learned English. The Cutch in Kenya are often bi- or trilingual, speaking either English and/or Swahili as well as Kachchi.
What are their beliefs?
The Cutch are largely Hindu, with the remainder following Islam. The religious practices of the Hindus vary greatly, however. In Gujarat, for example, their beliefs are a mixture of Islam and Hinduism. Both Muslims and Hindus observe the special Hindu festival of Holi, and have household gods. Those in Africa, on the other hand, are not quite as superstitious. This can be attributed to their introduction to and familiarity with technology and education.
All Hindus worship many gods, some of which are animals. Cows are sacred, but they revere monkeys, snakes, and other animals as well. They teach such things as yoga and reincarnation (a continual cycle of death and rebirth). They believe that the soul may be reincarnated as an animal or as a human. The law of karma states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next life. If a person lives a good life, his soul will be born into a higher state. Whereas, if he leads an evil life, his soul will be born into a lower state, perhaps even as a worm! The cycle continues until spiritual perfection is achieved. Then the soul enters moksha, a new level of existence, from which it never returns.
Hindu shrines contain sculptured images of their gods. Everyday priests wash and dress the images and bring them food. This is not considered idol worship since they believe the gods are actually present in the images.
The Cutch Hindus hope to better their positions in this life and in the life to come by exhibiting charity, being devoted to the gods, and showing mercy to fellow humans and cows.
What are their needs?
Though the Cutch have overcome many physical obstacles since the 1950's, they remain in bondage to spiritual chains of the past. Both Hinduism and Islam are formidable influences.
Even in Kenya (a Christian state), very few Cutch are Christian. Resources such as Christian broadcasts and literature are needed to help spread the Gospel more effectively. Most of all, laborers are needed to live among them and demonstrate the love of God towards them. Unless the Cutch see Christianity lived out, they will never understand that true peace is found in Christ alone.
The power of evil expressed in the thousands of Hindu gods must be broken before the Cutch can respond to the Gospel. Intercessors are needed to stand in the gap for these precious people. Likewise, only prayer can break the strongholds of Islam.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to live among the Cutch and share Christ with them.
* Pray that the Cutch who speak English will be evangelized and take the Gospel to their own people.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number Cutch believers.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these Hindus and Muslims towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up Kenyan believers to share Christ with the Cutch living in their country.