Introduction / History
The Jats are not a homogeneous ethnic group living in a particular area and speaking a single language. Rather, they are a people who live scattered around the world among several ethnic groups, yet retain their own identity. This distinction is often based on occupation and heritage.
Where are they located?
The Jats are primarily located in northwestern India and southern Pakistan, although there are also significant communities in Maldives, Russia, and Ukraine.
What are their lives like?
Overall, the Jats have a very good self image. "Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever," is a well known Jat proverb. They are brave, hardworking people who possess both the desire and ability to rule. It has been said that no Jat wants to be ruled. Rather, he desires to have power over a group, if not over an area.
Known for their military prowess, many Jats were recruited into the British-India army during World War I. Before that, they served as fighters in the Persian army. Today, the Jats are well read, and some occupy high positions in academic and technical arenas.
In India and Pakistan, the Jats are usually either farmers or nomadic herdsmen. Different tribes of nomads raise different types of animals. Because they value thriftiness and diligence, the Jats are often regarded as miserly. The settled Jat farmers grow cereals such as wheat, maize, and millet. They also raise sugarcane as a cash crop. Fruits, vegetables, and rice are grown in certain areas. The basic diet of peasant Jats consists of unleavened bread and curry, seasonal vegetables, ghee (a type of butter), and milk.
Conservative by nature, the Jats rarely marry people from other ethnic groups. Great pride is placed in their ancestry. In fact, all the Jats in a particular village consider themselves to be the descendants of the man whom they believe founded it by the power of the sword.
What are their beliefs?
Most Jats are either Muslims, Hindus, or Sikhs. The Jats living in Pakistan, Russia, and Ukraine are primarily Muslim; while the great majority of the Jats in India are Hindu.
The Muslim Jats are Sunnis of the Hanafi school, but are known to have a strong tradition of worshiping many local saints. The Hindu Jats adhere to the traditional practices, as well as a wide variety of additional beliefs and practices.
What are their needs?
The Jats who live in India and Pakistan need clean drinking water and proper health care facilities. Christian medical teams and humanitarian aid workers are needed to work among them and show them God's love in practical ways.
Most of the Jat believers live in India. Missionaries, Christian broadcasts, and evangelistic literature are needed to effectively reach the Jats with the Light of the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth additional laborers to work among the Jats.
* Pray that Christian doctors, nurses, and humanitarian aid workers will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
* Ask God to save key leaders who will boldly proclaim the Gospel to their own people.
* Pray that churches and missions organizations will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Jats.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth growing churches among the Jats for the glory of His name!