Introduction / History
The Gamit people live mainly in the Surat and Broach districts of Gujarat, India. Among the Bhil, the word gamta means headman, possibly giving the Gamit a feeling of superiority over other Bhil tribes. The Gamit are a regimented tribe and consider themselves distinct from the main lineage of Bhil. Their language, Gamit, is one of the Bhil languages. Long ago, the prosperity of Gujarat state enticed people from the surrounding states, thus becoming a target of various Muslim tribes who made annual raids to the region for many years. The Islamic rulers reached their greatest power under the Moghal dynasty and overtook the Gujarat kingdom by the end of the thirteenth century. However, the Hindu Maratha fought the Moghals and also established an empire in Gujarat. While war continued between these and other groups over the Gujarat territory, the British rose to power by 1817. Attempting to mend what the Maratha left behind, they began dispersing farmland to the settlers. Most of the Hindu Gamit people live in Gujarat and Maharashtra, but a small number of them live in Pakistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Cross-cousin marriages are permitted among the Gamit people. The men have more than one wife when they can afford it. The wives are "bought" while they are still girls. At the wedding parties it is customary for the men to sing rather than the women. If a young couple wishes to marry but cannot afford the bride price, it is common for the girl to be willingly abducted by the young man. They return home after several months and have their union sanctioned. The Gamit and the Chodhari are culturally very similar, but the traditions of the Gamit are much stronger. The Gamit, unlike the Chodhari, do not have theatrical dramas at their festivals. Instead, community singing gives variety to their festivals. While the Dhodia women wear necklaces made of beads and coins, the Gamit women wear necklaces made of rows of shells. Most of the Gamit have given up the nomadic lifestyles of their ancestors and have settled into farming. They inhabit the more richly forested eastern areas of Surat district, an area well known for its rich soils and fine cotton crop. Many others live in areas where, because of the heavy rainfall, they are able to cultivate rice. Forest labor, hunting, and fishing are secondary to agriculture, as well as trade labor in the cities. Among the Gamit, the town leaders (headmen) have only social functions to perform. Village houses are usually scattered near the streams so that the people might easily draw water, fish, and water their cattle. Homes are typically built by hired labor. They are small bamboo huts made with tiled roofs. The poorer villagers live in mud huts that they build themselves. The important thing to note is that the Gamit residences are all beyond the tidal flows of the rivers. Unlike many of the Bhil tribes, most of the Gamit have a high school or college education. Unfortunately, many Gamit are addicted to alcohol which undermines their efforts to advance economically.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Gamit have deep-rooted beliefs in demons and witches. Beside the crocodile, which is considered a god, they worship groups of deities made of shapeless pieces of stone or wood, placed under trees, where the supernatural beings are believed to dwell. The Gamit have no temples in which to hold their religious ceremonies.
What Are Their Needs?
Much intercession must be made for the Gamit so that their eyes will be opened to the Truth.
* Scripture Prayers for the Gamit in Pakistan.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth quality laborers to live among the Gamit and show them Christ's love. Pray for the effectiveness of the JESUS Film among the Gamit. Ask God to give the Gamit believers in India boldness to share the gospel with their own people in Pakistan.