Introduction / History
The Eastern Baluch are part of a much larger population of Baluch numbering about 13 million. The various groups speak different languages, each with distinguishing characteristics. Their homeland reaches from eastern Baluchistan to southwestern Punjab, which borders India. This high, dry region was once a very populated country watered by a large number of flowing rivers. Today, it is a barren area of rocky mountains and dry river valleys mixed with desert land.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Their name, "Baluch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means "nomad," while others claim that it is an old Persian word meaning "the cock's crest." Their history is just as mysterious. Some have traced their origins to Nimrod, son of Cush (Noah's grandson). But while some things are uncertain, we do know that they first moved to the region in the twelfth century. During the Moghul period, this territory became known as "Baluchistan."
The Baluch traditionally earn their living by a combination of farming and semi-nomadic shepherding. They usually raise sheep, cattle, or goats. Agriculture is limited because of the harsh climate; nevertheless, it plays a large role in the economy. The chief crop is wheat. To aid in the household economy, some farmers raise chickens. They also depend on wild fruits and vegetables.
What Are Their Beliefs?
One wild plant, called the "dwarf palm," is used as a dietary supplement. The meat of the palm is eaten, and the leaves are used to make ropes, shoes, mats, spoons, tents, and pipes. Techniques of survival differ from valley to valley and from high mountain areas to lowland plains. However, each community tries to keep as many different animals as possible and to grow a wide variety of crops.
The Baluch have overcome the obstacles of living in an extremely harsh, arid climate. Today, most of them live in two types of settlements that are conducive to their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Their permanent villages consist of clusters of mud houses, loosely organized around the home of the local chief. They live in these mountain and valley settlements in the summertime. However, in winter, they migrate to the plains and coastal areas, seeking green grass for their livestock. During this time, they live in tents, and move freely across the landscape as weather conditions dictate. These temporary settlements are smaller, consisting of closely related kin.
Baluch marriages are arranged between the bride's father and the prospective groom. A "bride price" of livestock and cash is paid. Once a woman is married, she passes from the authority of her father to that of her husband. Marriages are monogamous and lifelong, and marrying a non-Baluch is strictly forbidden.
Baluchmayar, or the "Baluchiway," is the honor code by which the Baluch live. These principles include extending hospitality and mercy, dealing with each other honestly, and offering refuge to strangers. They are preserved through both songs and poetry. Children learn proper behavior by watching their elders, and are taunted whenever they misbehave.
Many Baluch cannot read or write and until recently, their language was unwritten. However, they have a long tradition of poetic compositions. Poets and professional minstrels are highly regarded.
The Baluch are Sunni Muslims. Their religious practices remain private, and there is no concept of a "state religion." All forms of secular authority are separated from the spiritual authority held by religious leaders.
What Are Their Needs?
The Baluch have been isolated for many years due to harsh climate, the difficulty of communicating in mountainous terrain, and their reputation as bandits. Since the governments of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all have a share in Baluchistan's welfare, they have begun building roads and developing agriculture programs. However, the Baluch have remained largely unaffected by these developmental changes.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go and share Christ with the Baluch.
* Pray that Christian broadcasts will be made available as communication improves.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect missionaries that are trying to reach the Baluch with the Gospel.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Baluch towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Baluch.
Bethany World Prayer Center