Kolhati in India

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Kolhati
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 34,000
World Population: 34,000
Primary Language: Marathi
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kolhati are a nomadic caste that lives in western Indian. The word Kolhat comes from a word meaning bamboo pole, which they use for jumping. During the British period they were classified as a vagrant and criminal class. One British account has Kolhati men hunting wild boars with only spears and dogs, an act which takes considerable courage. The wild pigs do much damage to crops so the farmers would hire Kolhati men to decrease the local boar population. A successful hunt would also provide a feast for the village.

The traditional occupation of the Kolhati was as traveling entertainers. They would play music, sing, dance, perform dramas and do acrobatics for rural villages for Hindu holidays and family celebrations. Women would tell fortunes at the villages where the Kolhati visited.

The main language of the Kolhati is Marathi. Many also speak Hindi, Kannada and Gujarati, which allow them to conduct business with outsiders. Many Christian resources are available in Marathi including the whole Bible and JESUS Film. Since many Kolhati are unable to read, the gospel will need to be presented to them in visual and audio form.

Where Are they Located?

The Kolhati are a Hindu people living mainly in Maharashtra, a state in western India. A smaller group resides in Karnataka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Now many Kolhati are employed as landless agricultural laborers. They still perform at Hindu temples although this is no longer their man source of income. Their women and girls are known for tamasha, a Marathi dance which combines singing and drama.
The Kolhati marry within their group with families arranging marriages. Sons inherit property with the eldest son becoming head of the family upon the death of his father. A caste council promotes their interests and settles legal disputes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kolhati people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They pay special reverence to Vishnu, the preserver god. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. 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 like Christians or Jews. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs.

The main yearly holidays of the Kolhati people are 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.

What Are Their Needs?

Being a nomadic group presents many problems for the Kolhati. Often Kolhati children are unable to attend school on a regular basis. They need to learn new job skills so they can improve their standard of living and overcome their reputation as thieves. Most of all, the Kolhati need to hear and understand the message of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and get them right with the one, true God.

Prayer Points

Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Kolhati people that will transform them to be more like Christ.
Pray for the Kolhati people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Kolhati people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Kolhati disciples to make more disciples.
Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Kolhati communities.

Text Source:   Keith Carey