The Bharwad are a Hindu caste found in the state of Gujarat in India. Their exact population is unclear, but an older census numbered them around 98,000.
The term Bharwad is thought to be a modified form of the word ‘Badawad’; ‘bada’ means sheep and ‘wada’ in Gujarati refers to compound or enclosure. Most of the people tend to be farmers, and are herders of cattle, goats and sheep.
Their literacy rates are low and they are rarely educated beyond a primary level. Members of this tribe practice monogamy and marriages are arranged.
The Bharwads believe they are descendants of Nanda, the foster-father of the supreme deity Krishna.
Some important facts about the Bharwad:
- As typical Hindus they pay special reverence to Krishna and are vegetarian.
- They believe in gods and goddesses like Machhu, Khodiar, Nag Bai, Mahamai, Chamunda, Sindhui, Jatral and Havechi. They also worship the sun, moon, earth, rivers, mountains, forests, trees, animals & snakes, and are known to practice witchcraft and magic.
- Some people still practice arranged marriages while their babies are in the womb; the engagement ceremony happens when they are 2 – 3 years old and the marriage happens between ages 18 – 20 for women, and 20 – 22 for men.
- Their low literacy rate is an obstacle for the Gospel that sometimes comes in printed form, and prevents them from being able to read the Bible themselves. Pray for an increase in literacy and also an increase in evangelism strategies appropriate for Oral Culture people.
- Teams to carry Gospel films, recordings and stories from Scripture.
- Pray that the Christian believers among the Bharwad community will become mature in the faith and be able to share a bold, kind witness for Jesus to their neighbors.
- Pray the Bharwad will increasingly hunger to know the creator God in a personal way.