Introduction / History
For most of their history the Vaddar (aka, Bovi) people wandered the subcontinent looking for jobs to support their families. The word Bhovi means "earth-digger". During the Partition of 1947, the Muslim Vaddars tended to move to Pakistan while the Hindu Vaddars remained in India. The large majority of the Vaddars (aka, Bhovi) are Hindus but there are also a sizable number of Muslims and a small group of Sikhs.
Where are they located?
The Muslim Vaddar people live in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab, three states in northern India.
What are their lives like?
The traditional occupations of the Vaddars have been as stonecutters, diggers of wells and canals and as transporters of earth and stones. Many Vaddars now have settled in villages and work as farm laborers on other people’s land. The primary language of the Muslim Vaddars in Pakistan is Oadki. Many also speak Punjabi and Urdu, which allow them to speak with others outside their group.
The Vaddars of Pakistan and India are endogamous, that is, they marry within their own community. The Vaddar women have a role in the economic, social and religious spheres of their community and contribute to the family income. Caste councils promote their interests and settle legal disputes.
What are their beliefs?
The Vaddar 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 Vaddar 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 Vaddar people 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 Holy Spirit to give the Vaddar people teachable and understanding hearts.
* Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Vaddar families into a rich experience of God’s blessing.
* Pray for Vaddar families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ’s work on the cross.
* Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Vaddar family leaders to experience God’s blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.
Text source: Keith Carey