Introduction / History
The name Silpakar is generally used for the communities categorized lowly and residing in the hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh. The Silpakar are also known as Dom, Dum, Ram, Arya and Harijan. They belong to an aboriginal non-Aryan stock and it is said that they were reduced to a state of slavery by the Khasia and later on by the immigrant high castes in the historical past.
All Silpkar people were once Hindus, but a small number converted to Islam, dividing the community in two. Today the Hindu community is far larger than their Muslim counterpart.
Where are they located?
Muslim Silpkar people live in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
What are their lives like?
The Silpkar are divided into different hierarchically arranged groups based on their hereditary occupations. The first group is referred to as Mistri, which includes Lohar, Tamta and Orh, etc. The second group includes drummers such as the Dhobi, Damai and Bajgi. The third group includes serfs, vagrants and beggars.
Various occupational groups of the Silpkar still pursue their traditional hereditary occupations such as black smith work, copper smith work, basketry, masonry, oil-pressing, drum-beating, and leather-work, etc. They also engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, manufacture agricultural implements, making baskets and household utensils, etc.
What are their beliefs?
Muslim Silpkar people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, spoken through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
In most of the Muslim world, peoples like the Silpkar depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. The often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
What are their needs?
The Silpkar people, be they Hindu or Muslim, need to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the only one who can bless them with abundant life and eternal salvation from sin and death.
* Pray for the Lord to raise up a strong disciple-making movement to saturate the hearts and minds of the Silpkar people.
* Pray for God's blessing, strengthening and healing of Muslim Silpkar families and communities within this people group through the abundant life Jesus offers to all who call on His name.
* Pray for God's blessing on the leaders in this people group, along with their families, and for their communities to welcome and enjoy God’s blessing.
* Pray for the Lord to multiply the reception and influence of His Word among the Muslim Silpkar people group, leading them to love Him with their whole being.
Text source: Keith Carey