Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
The Wattal are also called Batal, Tattal and Batul, though they consider these names to be pejorative. They prefer to be called Ganai, Seraj or Sheikh. They are often sweepers, which gives them low status. Their appearance is like that of the Gypsies, which makes them stand out as lower status. They are forced to live at the edge of the village, away from others.
What are their lives like?
The low status of this small community means they have fewer marital options. Other Hindu communities do not want to intermarry with them as a matter of honor. The Wattal feel isolated and rejected.
Young men are becoming more independent from their parents. For this reason, they insist on having a say in whom they marry. Young women are also reluctant to marry unless they know something about their potential husband. It is becoming more common for couples to meet on the sly before marriage.
Within a nuclear family, sons inherit 2/3 of the property while daughters get 1/3. This is not distributed until the father has died.
Their diet is good. Like most peoples in India, they have a grain-based diet, but they also enjoy meat, so long as it’s not beef. Kashmir is home to excellent cherry, apple and pear orchards. They enjoy these fruits along with green vegetables and rice.
Though many are sweepers, they often use their young sons as shoe-shine boys. These boys earn much money for the family during the tourist season. Some Wattal people repair shoes at a cobbler shop.
What are their beliefs?
Most Wattal people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians or Jews. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins.
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring / Diwali, the festival of lights / Navratri, the celebration of autumn / and Rama Navami, Rama’s birthday.
What are their needs?
These people need to put their hope and identity in the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Pray for workers to go to the Wattal people, and for their hearts to be ready to receive their Savior.
Pray for families of believers loving and serving others to grow reproducing churches.
Pray for a chain reaction of families reaching families that results in thousands of new believers who share their faith with others.
Pray for grace and truth expanding into their entire society as all believers learn to love others.
ReferencesView Wattal (Hindu traditions) in all countries.
People of India, Vol 25. K.S. Singh. 2003