The Muslim Rajput Ponwar or Panwar live in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Rajput means "son of a ruler" in Sanskrit. Ponwar means descendants of the Paramara dynasty. This middle-sized kingdom flourished in the late medieval period in north central India. and Nepal. All Rajput Ponwar were originally Hindus. With the coming of the Muslim sultanates, some Ponwar converted to Islam for spiritual and political reasons. They converted to Islam by clans not as individuals.
The Ponwar take pride in their warrior history. The British recruited them as soldiers during the colonial period. The Ponwar became landholders of large estates. Some Rajput Ponwar are wealthy landowners who have other castes work their land. Some are less wealthy and till the soil themselves. Their military tradition continues in the Nepali Army. They hold positions of leadership in government.
The primary language of the Ponwar is Urdu.
Where Are they Located?
The Ponwar live in the south central region of Nepal.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Rajput Ponwar enjoy a high status in Nepali society. They encourage their young people to pursue higher education. As Muslims, their women are often secluded in the home. When the women go out, they wear very modest clothing that covers their heads and bodies. Families arrange marriages within the Rajput caste but not within the near clan members. The ancient practice of child marriage is no longer followed. Sons inherit property. They are non-vegetarians but as Muslims they do not eat pork.
The Rajput Ponwar lives revolve around the five daily prayers. They attend services at their local mosque on Fridays where they mingle with other groups of Muslims.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Rajput Ponwar of Nepal are Sunni Muslims, the large majority section of Islam. Once in their lives they make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is called the Hajj. During the Hajj they perform certain rituals that reinforce their identities as Muslims.
The Rajputs participate in the two yearly Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration of the breaking of the monthly fast of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice that celebrates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Since the holidays are based on the lunar calendar, the dates change every year.
What Are Their Needs?
The Rajput Ponwar need humility and God's grace to see themselves as sinners who need a Savior. They must realize that no human works will ever satisfy a holy God. They need to see the love of Christ lived out before them in practical ways.
Pray the Lord sends Christians to befriend the Rajput Ponwar and show them the love and mercy of God.
Pray that Rajputs living outside of Nepal would become Christians and return to India to share the gospel with their people.
Pray that the Holy Spirit leads many Rajputs to Christ and that growing
churches are planted among them.
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