Introduction / History
The Kalwars were traditionally distillers and sellers of alcohol in north and central India. Their name comes from the Sanskrit word for “distiller of liquor.” Since this profession was considered demeaning by most castes in Indian society, many Kalwars around the year 1900 began to leave their original trade for other careers. Although some of the Kalwars still are in the liquor business, most have taken jobs in agriculture, business, the military, government service, medicine, accounting, education and engineering. The Kalwar speak the primary languages of the states where they live including Hindi, Bengali and Magahi.
Where are they located?
The majority of the Kalwars live in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
What are their lives like?
The Kalwars are not vegetarians but they will not eat beef or pork. Rice and wheat are their staples along with vegetables, fruit and dairy products.
The Kalwars are endogamous, that is they do not marry outsiders. Marriage outside of the immediate clan is permitted. Families arrange marriages that are officiated by a Brahim priest. The newly married couple lives with or near the groom’s family.
Monogamy (marriage to one spouse) and adult marriage are the general rule. Most Kalwars live in extended families. Sons inherit property with the oldest son receiving the family house and father’s authority. Alcoholism is a problem among the Kalwars.
What are their beliefs?
The Kalwars of Hindu tradition worship all the deities of the Hindu pantheon and especially Vishnu, the preserver god and his consort Lakshmi. They also worship two of Vishnu’s incarnations, Rama and Krishna.
A priest from their own community performs ceremonies that cure diseases and protect against evil spirits. The dead are cremated and the ashes are put into a river preferably the holy Ganges.
The Kalwar participate in Hindu holidays like Holi, the festival of colors, Navratri, celebration of nine nights, Ramanavmi, the birthday of Rama and Janamashtami, the birthday of Krishna.
What are their needs?
The Kalwar need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ who died for their sins. They need to see Biblical Christianity lived out in the lives of Christians. They need to have the opportunity to join Bible-believing churches in their own people group and language.
* Pray the Lord would send Indian Christians and other believers to befriend and work with the Kalwars.
* Pray that each Kalwar would have the opportunity to hear the gospel in an understandable way.
* Pray the Lord would begin evangelical churches in the Kalwar community.
ReferencesView Kalwar (Hindu traditions) in all countries.