Introduction / History
The Gawaria consider their ancestry to be from the three brothers Tapasvi Singh, Lakhi Singh and Bhumi Singh, who ruled at some point of time near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. They claim equal status with other nomadic and semi-nomadic communities. Their literacy level is very low due to poverty and their nomadic lifestyle.
Where Are they Located?
According to legend, this community's name was changed from Banjar to Gwariya to avoid a clash with Nar Sultan. The name "Banjar" probably comes from one of two similar words, "banij" which means "trader", or "banji", meaning "a peddler's pack."
They live primarily in Rajasthan State in northwestern India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Previously they were traveling traders and carriers. They became traders after their land was no longer able to sustain agriculture. They used herds of bullocks to carry their goods for trade. However, with the advancement in the transportation industry, they have turned to other careers. Some make household articles and from cane or wild grass and weave mats.
What Are Their Beliefs?
There are subgroups and clans, with rules regarding marriage between those clans. They marry outside of their clan and not with members of their mother's clan or their grandmother's clan. Dowries are paid at marriage and the couple goes to live with the groom's family. At the marriage ceremony, presided over by a Brahmin priest, the bride and groom circle a sacred fire seven times. Divorce and remarriage are permitted, but only by consent of the community council.
The naming ceremony for a newborn is performed by a Brahmin priest on the seventh or ninth day after birth.
Inheritance is equally divided among sons and the eldest takes over the guidance of the family in place of the father. They eat meat, but not beef. They also do not avoid alcohol.
The Gawaria are Hindu. They also worship their ancestors, offer grain to birds, and have rites of purification and water-worship.
What Are Their Needs?
The Gawaria speak several languages, as most communities do in India. Evangelistic and church planting strategies need to accommodate this. Low literacy rates suggest oral means of communication, using scriptural stories, films, and recordings.
* There may be no believers among the Gawaria today, but pray for those that will soon emerge.
* Pray they will be properly instructed in the faith, and that God will give them capable pastors to help them mature as believers.
* Pray for workers to take the Gospel message to each individual in the Gawaria community.
* Pray the Lord will prepare them to understand, and to believe
Singh, K. S., ed. "India's Communities A-Z", Oxford University Press, USA 1999