Introduction / History
The Gujar are comprised of three very closely related people groups that are collectively known as the "Gujar Rajasthani." As various Muslim groups began invading India and Pakistan in the eleventh century, the Gujar Hindus converted to Islam. When this happened, their resentful Hindu neighbors began to rise up and take control of the area. The Gujar were forced to leave the region and search for good pastures elsewhere. Their wanderings took them into Pakistan and Afghanistan, where thousands have remained until this day. The partition of Pakistan and India in 1947 also caused many migrations. Masses of Muslims immigrated to Pakistan, while the Hindus flocked to India. There are both Hindu and Muslim Gujar people in India today.
What Are Their Lives Like?
They are located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several states in northeastern India (Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan). In addition, the Gujarat state of western India is named after the historic Gujar peoples.
Some Gujar in India are seasonal nomads or semi-nomadic. Others live and work in towns. The few who live in forests are not integrated into Indian society.
What Are Their Beliefs?
In general, they are a simple, inoffensive people with a generous nature. Today, most of the Gujar living in India live as law-abiding shepherds and farmers. Unfortunately, members of higher castes still belittle them and often label them as thieves and vagrants. Gujar nomads who live in Jammu and Kashmir are often cheated by the middlemen who take their agricultural products to the city markets and sell them as their own.
The Gujar are divided into hundreds of clans. Their societies are patrilineal, which means that inheritances are passed down through the males. Marriages are usually arranged by the parents, and the groom's family must provide a bride price of either cash or livestock. They are permitted to marry outside their clans, and young couples generally live near the grooms' parents. Most live in extended families under a community council.
Centuries past, they were all Hindus. A Muslim invasion in the 11th century forced many to convert to Islam. Though there is a good percentage of Gujar Hindus in India, most are Sunni Muslim. They believe in the tenets of Islam and seek to obey the teachings of the Koran, as given by Mohammed. Few are familiar with more than a surface level Muslim theology. For this reason, they depend on amulets and the intercession of Muslim saints for their daily needs. Allah is too distant to help them.
What Are Their Needs?
The Gujar people need loving, patient Christ followers to show them the way to the cross and the empty grave. They need to put their faith in the one who rose from the dead, not saints who remain in the grave.
Pray that God will send culturally sensitive missionaries who will show them the way to the only Savior.
Pray for a Christ-ward movement to flourish among this people group in the 2020s.
Pray for the Gujar people to be blessed with peace, joy and spiritual prosperity as they follow Jesus Christ.
Pray for their leaders to have dreams and visions that will open their hearts to Jesus Christ and his ambassadors.
Scripture Prayers for the Gujar (Muslim traditions) in India.