Introduction / History There are different opinions as to the origin of the Jats, but most seem to recognize them to be from Indo-Aryan tribes native to the Punjab region that straddles modern Pakistan and India. There is a theory suggesting that they may be the predecessors of Gypsies. They probably reached Egypt with the Muslim conquerors, lived in Afghanistan before the Muslims, and invaded China with the Mongol Army. They also proved to be a threat to Tamarlane in Persia and Uzbekistan in the 1400s.
There are very few records concerning Jats prior to the 1600s. They rose to prominence following the 1669 Jat uprising against Mughal rule, and they ruled various princely states throughout the 18th century. For centuries the Jat lifestyle was designed to foster a martial spirit. Whenever they lost their kingdoms, Jat people became landlords who were ready to defend their land against any invaders.
After 1858, under the British Raj, the Jats were known for their service in the Indian Army, being categorized as a "martial race" by the British. For a couple hundred years Jats were a force that could not be ignored by South Asians or British imperialists.
Though Jat Sikhs are much more numerous in India, some have migrated to the West, including Canada. The first Jat Sikhs came to Canada in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, the Sikh men who moved to Canada were able to have their wives and children join them. Immigration to Canada from Jat Sikhs stopped between the 1920s and 1960s. During that time, Jats still attended their religious institutions, the gurdwaras, but they began to conform to Canadian customs. Men cut their hair and beards. Women exchanged their traditional salwar kameez for dresses. That changed when more Sikhs arrived starting in the 1960s. That was when the Jats and other Sikh peoples began to reinforce their traditional culture.
Jat Sikhs in Canada had their start in the western province of British Colombia. As they have become more urbanized, they now live in Canada's other major cities, even Montreal.
What are their lives like? Jat Sikhs have deep roots in India's rural sector. Some remain farmers, though they use modern farming equipment, and they are noted for their agricultural expertise. Some are truck drivers. In the new environment, they are more likely to be urban. The Jat Sikhs who reside in Canada are often professionals: businessmen, medical professionals, etc.
Like other Sikhs, the Jats have faced their share of culture shock in Canada. Sikh customs require a man to always have a kirpan, a dagger which is intended to be used to protect the innocent. There have been situations when Sikhs have run afoul of local rules at public schools and local laws against weapons.
Like many second generation immigrants, the Jat Sikhs are trying to maintain the old culture in a foreign environment. For this reason, they often send their children to special Sikh schools. The children learn Sikh history, culture, and the Punjabi language. Though they are united in their Sikh religion, these efforts are usually at the local level.
What are their beliefs? Sikhism originated from a 15th century teacher named Guru Nanak Dev as a reform movement within Hinduism. He rejected the Hindu caste system, taught that all people were equal and that all have equal access to God. The Sikh God is formless, without gender and is to be found in everyone. One gets closer to God by living a good life and by practicing charity. Like Hindus, Sikhs believe in reincarnation and the law of karma; you reap what you sow in your previous life. Like Muslims, the Sikhs worship only one God.
One may recognize a Sikh man by his distinctive turban. All the 10 great Sikh gurus wore turbans. Sikh teaching mandates that a person not cut his or her hair. They worship their holy book, the Granth Sahib, which is a collection of hymns.
There are roughly the same number of Sikhs as there are Jews in the world, but Sikhs are most concentrated in Punjab, their homeland. However, you will find smaller numbers of Sikhs all over the world. Many of the best Indian restaurants in the West are owned and operated by Sikhs.
What are their needs? The Jat people need to put their hope in the King of kings, realizing that he is the one who gives them worth and dignity.
Prayer Points Pray for the Lord to bless the Jat people so abundantly that they will see he is the only one worthy of praise and worship.
Pray for loving workers to go to the Jat Sikh people until there are disciples who make more disciples.
Pray the Lord will prepare the hearts of the Jats to understand and to believe the gospel.
Pray for the Lord to bless the Jat Sikh people with adequate education and medical facilities.