Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Gaddi, also known as the Pahari Bharmauri, live in northern and central India in the states of Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. In Punjab, they were once a scheduled tribe. This means that they belonged to a class known as "the untouchables." However, because of their economic growth, they are no longer listed as one of the scheduled tribes. Tradition says that Gaddi ancestors originally came from the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, and fled before Muslim invaders in the plains. They later fled to the Himalayan Mountains for refuge.
The Gaddi community lives in the hilly tracts of Himachal Pradesh and in the north-western and northern parts of the country making a livelihood through sheep-herding and cultivation. Gaddi encompasses a number of groups with unequal status such as the Brahman, the Rajput, the artisan and lower castes of the area. The name "Gaddi" is derived from the word "Gaderan" which is the name of the hilly tracts of Himachal Pradesh. They speak a number of languages which are of Indo-Aryan origin and are conversant in other regional languages too. They use the Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts.
The word Gaddi refers to a territorial group, or a special class of people who wear distinctive clothes. It also refers to the union of the castes of Rajputs, Khatris, Ranas, and Thakurs. In general, the Gaddi are a people of rugged character. They travel and bear endless hardships in the pursuit of their profession-shepherding. They are known as honest, hospitable, and mystic people.
The Gaddi are self-sufficient shepherds whose lives revolve around caring for their herds and camping at grazing grounds. They move from high pastures to low pastures during the year, leaving for the low hills and plains in October and returning to their fields in April.
The Gaddi population outside Himachal still depends heavily on shepherding. However, they are also becoming much more involved in farming. The recent trend towards settling in more hospitable climates has brought agriculture to the forefront of their economy, and shepherding is beginning to take a secondary position. The variety of crops (maize, wheat, and barley) together with the practice of allowing the plots to remain fallow, rotating the crops, and mixing the crops all enhance the reliability of their food supply.
The traditional dress of the Gaddi, worn only on special occasions, is quite striking. The men wear headdresses adorned with dried flowers or beads and wool coats tied around their waists with black rope. The women wear straight dresses tied around their waists with woolen cords. Their heads are covered, but their legs and feet remain bare, accented with heavy brass anklets.
Gaddi villages are usually located on steep slopes. Each household consists of a nuclear family. The homes inside the villages are built very close together, with little room for expansion. Houses are generally two or three stories, with balconies and paved courtyards. The ground floor is used for keeping cattle; while the second story is used for living, sleeping, and cooking. All of the family members sleep in the same room. When a guest reaches the home of a Gaddi, he washes his feet. All guests are believed to be sacred, so their blessings are valued.
The Gaddi, like other Indians, are divided into social classes based on the Hindu "caste" system. The Gaddi castes are divided into two basic classes: clean and unclean. The Gaddi are monogamous (one husband, one wife), and have a successful community life based on mutual aid. The family is the only social institution other than religion. All marriages are arranged by the parents. The young couples have no choice in their parents' decisions.
What are Their Beliefs?
The Gaddi follow Muslim or Hindu traditions, although many of their own animistic traditions (belief that non-human objects have spirits) are still practiced. Animal sacrifice is a common feature of their rituals.
What are Their Needs?
They need to know that Jesus has already served as the supreme sacrifice for their sins.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Gaddi.
* Pray that God will grant favor to missions agencies focusing on the Gaddi.
* Ask God to use the few Gaddi believers to share the Gospel with their friends and families.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Gaddi towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of India's governmental and religious leaders to the Gospel.
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