Introduction / History
The Hindu Vaddar or Bhovi people trace their origin from Odisha in east central India. Vaddar are believed to have migrated to various southern states of India and eventually to Pakistan. The word Bhovi is a corrupt form of Bhavi which means in Kannada “earth-digger.” They have been involved in the digging of wells and graves since ancient time. In the Partition of India in 1947, most Hindu Vaddar moved to India while the majority of Muslim Vaddars relocated to Pakistan. The Vaddar are immigrants from South India mainly from Andhra Pradesh, though a smaller number are in Pakistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
There are three main groups, namely Kallu Bhovi who are masons and stone cutters, Mannu Bhovi who are earth-workers and Uppar Bhovi who work as menial laborers.
The primary language of the Vaddar in Pakistan is Sindhi. Many resources are available in Sindhi including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film.
The Vaddar in Pakistan have decreased in population over the years. They are earth-workers and are constantly moving about in search of work. Their main occupation as well and grave diggers has been replaced by modern machinery. Some Vaddar now are employed as unskilled agricultural workers. Vaddar farm on land that is owned by other higher castes or Muslims. Vaddar women have a role in the economic, social and religious spheres of their community and contribute to the family income.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Vaddar tend to marry within their group. The Hindus and Muslims generally treat them as having low caste status. The girls often marry in their teens while the young men are typically older, so they are able to support a new family. Families arrange marriages with the input of the young people.
Lack of education is a huge problem for the Vaddar people. Most men have only the rudiments of literacy while many women are unable to read and write. Children who attend school often quit early in order to help their families earn a living.
The Vaddar practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins.
What Are Their Needs?
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring / Diwali, the festival of lights / Navratri, the celebration of autumn / and Rama Navami, Rama’s birthday.
The patron deity of the Vaddar is Muneshwar, a family goddess. They also pay special reverence for Shiva, the destroyer god.
The Vaddar need new job skills and education to improve their place in Pakistani society. Many rural Vaddar lack access to modern medicine and clean water. Solar panels would provide electricity for cell phones and appliances. Most of all, the Vaddar need to hear and understand a presentation of the good news about Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and give them the hope for abundant life.
Ask the Lord to send Holy Spirit anointed workers to the Vaddar of Pakistan.
Pray the literacy level of the Vaddar improves so they can read the Bible.
Pray that the elders and leaders of the Vaddar would be open to hearing the gospel.
Pray that Vaddar parents would be able to provide for their children.
Ask the Lord to raise up a disciple making movement among the Vaddar of Pakistan in this decade.
Scripture Prayers for the Vaddar (Hindu traditions) in Pakistan.
India Missions Association - Edited by Philipose Vaidyar, Copyrighted © Used with permission