Introduction / History
The Kalwars were traditionally distillers and sellers of alcohol in north and central India. Their name comes from the Sanskrit word for "distiller of liquor." Since this profession was considered demeaning by most castes in Indian society, many Kalwars around the year 1900 began to leave their original trade for other careers. Although some of the Kalwars still are in the liquor business, most have taken jobs in agriculture, business, military and government service.
The Kalwar speak the primary languages of the states where they live including Hindi, Bengali and Magahi. In some of the Indian states where the Kalwar live, they are given the status of being a Scheduled Caste, meaning they get public jobs and special access to university admissions.
Where are they located?
The Hindu Iraqi Kalwar people live in the northern and eastern sections of India. A smaller number live in Nepal.
What are their lives like?
The Kalwars are not vegetarians but they will not eat beef or pork. Rice and wheat are their staples along with vegetables, fruit and dairy products.
The Iraqi Kalwars in Nepal are endogamous, that is they do not marry outsiders. Marriage outside of the immediate clan is permitted. Families arrange marriages that are officiated by a Brahmin priest. The newly married couple lives with or near the groom's family.
Monogamy (marriage to one spouse) and adult marriage are the general rule. Most Kalwars live in extended families. Sons inherit property with the oldest son receiving the family house and father's authority. Alcoholism is a problem among the Kalwars.
What are their beliefs?
Hindu Iraqi Kalwars in Nepal worship the deities of the Hindu pantheon, especially Vishnu, the preserver god and his consort Lakshmi. They also worship two of Vishnu's incarnations, Rama and Krishna.
A priest from their own community performs ceremonies that cure diseases and protect against evil spirits. They cremate their dead and scatter the ashes in a river, preferably the holy Ganges.
The Kalwars in Nepal participate in Hindu holidays like Holi, the festival of colors, Navratri, celebration of nine nights, Ramnavmi, the birthday of Rama and Janamashtami, the birthday of Krishna.
What are their needs?
The Hindu Iraqi Kalwar in Nepal need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ who died for their sins. They need to see Biblical Christianity lived out in the lives of true believers. They need to have the opportunity to join Bible-believing churches in their languages.
Pray the Lord would send Indian believers to befriend and work with Kalwar communities.
Pray that each Hindu Kalwar would have the opportunity to hear the gospel in an understandable way.
Pray the Lord would win Hindu Iraqi Kalwar families in Nepal to Himself and begin Bible believing fellowships in their midst.
ReferencesView Kalwar Iraqi (Hindu traditions) in all countries.