Introduction / History
Gahoi is a subgroup of the Banias or Baniya. It is a Sanskrit word that means "trader." The Startup Journal, a secular Indian paper, reports they are experts in number-crunching and trading. They seem to have the business gene and know-how to take financial risks. They are bookkeepers who never miss opportunities to make money. The Gahoi Bania live in north central India and they have a curious story of their origin which indicates they are of mixed descent from several castes. Once upon a time there was a certain schoolmaster, a Biya Pande Brahmin, who could foretell the future. One day he was in his school with his boys when he foresaw that there was about to be an earthquake. He immediately warned his boys to get out of the building, and he led the way out. Only 12 of the boys followed, and the others were still hesitating. When the earthquake began, the school fell in, and the remaining in the classroom were all buried in the ruins. The schoolmaster formed the boys who had escaped into one caste, calling them Gahoi, which is supposed to mean that which is left or the residue. The teacher determined that he and his descendants would be the priests of the new caste. At Gaho weddings, an image of this schoolmaster is painted on the house wall, and the bridegroom worships it with offerings of butter and flowers.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Gahoi trade in grain and groceries. Many work as bankers, moneylenders and in the finance industry. Marriage to one spouse is their norm. Among the Gahoi Banias a man must not marry within his own clan nor in that of his mother or either grandmother. They always hold their weddings at the bride's house, and no ceremonies are performed at the bridegroom's. At the ceremony the bridegroom stands in the center of the shed by the marriage-post and the bride walks seven times around him. At their weddings the Gahois still use the old rupees of the Nagpur Kingdom for presents and payments. They hoard this one type of rupees for this special purpose.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The rupee is sacred with the Bania, and this is an instance of the preservation of old coins for religious ceremonies. The Gahoi employ Bhargava Brahmins for their priests, and these are presumably the descendants of the schoolmaster who founded the caste. At the thirteenth-day feast after a death the Brahmins must be fed first before the members of the caste. On this occasion 13 brass or earthen vessels are filled with flour and a piece of money and presented to 13 Brahmins, while the family priest receives a bed and piece of cloth. At the Diwali festival the Gahoi worship the implements of their trade, pen and ink, and their account-books. The Gahoi are Vaishnava Hindus and abstain from all meat and alcoholic drinks.
What Are Their Needs?
The Gahoi Bania need to look to Jesus Christ for hope and joy rather than to worldly riches. He alone can forgive them of their sins and give them a meaningful life.
* Scripture Prayers for the Bania Gahoi in India.
Ask God to give the Gahoi a desire to investigate the claims of Jesus. Pray for a disciple making movement that will bless the Gahoi Banias this decade. Pray for the Lord to send out workers to the Gahoi Banias to tell the them about Jesus.