Introduction / History
The Rajwar are a Dalit or untouchable caste in northeast India. They are a recognized scheduled caste, which means the Rajwar are have low status among Hindus. Since the Middle Ages, the Rajwar have served as soldiers in the armies of the northeast India.
Where are they located?
The large majority of the Rajwars live in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Smaller groups of them live in other areas of India and in Bangladesh.
What are their lives like?
Today, most Rajwar work as landless farm laborers. Unfortunately, many Rajwar still live in primitive conditions in rural villages without electricity or indoor plumbing. Illiteracy is a major problem for them. Without a basic education there is little hope they can move beyond the mere subsistence level. Some educated young Rajwar have moved to the cities and taken jobs in factories and in public service.
Poverty is a huge problem for the Dalit Rajwar people. Much of this issue has to do with their lack of education and Hindu religion. An unspoken belief is that Dalits or Untouchable castes "deserve" their low status due their sins in their previous lives according to the tenets of Hinduism. Even though they are Hindus, they are often denied entrance into Hindu temples and the services of Brahmin priests.
They are endogamous, that is, they marry within their own group. Families arrange marriages, which are officiated by their priests not Brahmins. Sons inherit what little property a father may possess.
The Rajwar are not vegetarians. However, due to their economic condition, meat is reserved for special days. As Hindus, they will not eat beef. Their main foods are rice, wheat and vegetables.
The primary languages of Rajwar are Hindi, Bengali and Magahi. They also speak other regional languages.
What are their beliefs?
The Rajwar practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Since they cannot enter Hindu temples, they build their own shrines to their gods. The Rajwar offer food, flowers, prayers, and incense to their gods. They believe that by performing rituals and living a good life, they can attain a better life in their next reincarnation. They also engage in folk religion to ward off evil spirits.
The Rajwar participate in the yearly Hindu holidays of Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights and Navratri, the nine-day celebration of autumn.
What are their needs?
The needs of the Rajwar people are great. Most of all they need to hear and believe the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. They need help in the education of adults and children. They need job training so they will break out of the cycle of poverty. They need to see that there is hope in Jesus.
* Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Rajwar people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing the hearts of the Rajwar people would be open and ready to follow Him.
* Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
* Pray for the spiritual lives of the Rajwar people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
* Pray for the lives and culture of the Rajwar people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.
Text source: Keith Carey