Introduction / History
In Sanskrit Rajput means, "son of a ruler or king." The Rajput communities fall into the second highest caste of Hinduism, the Kshatriyas, one step below the Brahmins, the high priestly caste. Over the centuries, the Rajputs acquired land as a payment for their military service to the rulers of South Asia. Though there are a few Hindu Rajput communities in Pakistan, most of them are Sunni Muslims. Among the Hindus are the Ponwar.
What are their lives like?
Today the Rajput of Pakistan are primarily an agricultural community. Some educated Rajputs operate at the top level of Pakistani society as professors, entertainers, athletes, and business owners. Rajputs farm their land themselves and frequently hire lower caste people to help them. The Rajputs are traditionally the landowner caste of Pakistan. Those who lose their land become employed in service and even wage labor jobs. Rajput women earn money through weaving, embroidery and by making of handkerchiefs. Taking care of children is primarily the women's responsibility. For women, toe-rings, nose-pins and glass bangles are common symbols for being married. Hindu Rajputs like the Ponwar marry within their group.
Hindu Rajputs are non-vegetarian but they avoid beef and pork. They enjoy foods like wheat, rice, vegetables and dairy products.
The military tradition is still strong among the Rajputs. Many Rajputs serve today in the Pakistani Armed Forces, but this is more common among the Muslim Rajput communities than it is among the Hindus.
What are their beliefs?
Though it is much safer to be Muslim in Pakistan, some of the Rajputs, including the Ponwar, are Hindu. 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?
As people of influence and social status, the Rajputs are a key Pakistani people to reach with the gospel. Praise God that some Hindu Rajputs have become followers of Christ, but very few if any of these are included among the Ponwar subgroup. Pride at one's high place in society can be a hindrance to following Isa or Jesus.
Pray the Ponwar would understand they can enjoy abundant life if they put their trust in Jesus Christ.
Pray for the Lord to intervene in Ponwar families, calling people to his side and blessing them in every way.
Pray for loving workers to go to the Ponwar Rajputs.
Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities in this decade.