Bakkarwal in India

The Bakkarwal have only been reported in India
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Introduction / History

Most likely the name Bakkarwal is derived from the word bakriwale, meaning goat herders, or goat, cattle or sheep producers.

The Muslim Bakkarwal (also Bakarwal) people live in the northern Indian provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. The two most spoken languages among the Bakkarwal are Gujari and Kashmiri. Some audio Scriptures and Bible portions are available in both languages. A tiny fraction of the Bakkarwal claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Violence and unrest are common in the region where the Bakkarwal live. Muslim groups fight among themselves and against the Indian government.

The Bakkarwal have permanent homes but move from one altitude to another in search of green pasture and water for their goats, cattle and sheep. The identification marker of the Bakarwal males is their turban, called dastar. The women, too, wear a special cap, called the topi. They bury their dead and perform special ceremonies on the fourth and fortieth days after death.

Their main occupation is animal husbandry, taking care of goats, sheep and cattle. Men take goats skins and make them into tents. Men produce leather products from the cattle. Women use wool to weave rugs and clothing. The Bakkarwal trade meat, dairy products, wool, leather and goat skins for things they cannot make for themselves such as cell phones and appliances.

Village elders make judicial decisions and enforce caste norms. A man can have up to four wives if he can afford them. The norm is one wife. Bakkarwal tend to have large families as children are viewed as blessings from Allah. The Bakkarwal marry among their group. Families and young people arrange weddings. Sons inherit their father's property. It is the sons' responsibility to take care of elderly parents. Children frequently quit school after a few years to help their family earn a living. Some Bakkarwal young people are leaving their traditional way of life and moving to Indian cities in search of a better life. In rural areas Bakkarwal often lack access to modern medicine and clean water. Life expectancy is low and child mortality is high. Many Bakkarwal, especially their women, are unable to read and write. The nomadic lifestyle of the Bakkarwal makes it difficult for their children to attend school.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Almost all Bakkarwal people are Sunni Muslims. Sunni Bakkarwal believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.

The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.

Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.

In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.

What Are Their Needs?

Bakkarwal people need new job skills. They need good schools for their children. They would benefit from modern medicine and clean water. Like all other peoples of the world, this people group desperately needs the blessings and guidance that only Jesus Christ can offer.

Prayer Points

Ask God to help the tiny number of Bakkarwal believers to find fellowship and grow in the faith.

Ask God to send loving, committed workers to the Bakarwal.

Pray that Bakkaral children may be able to attend school and gain literacy skills.

Pray for a spiritual hunger among Bakkarwal leaders.

Pray that God raises up a growing Bakkarwal church in this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Bakkarwal in India.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Bakkarwal
People Name in Country Bakkarwal
Pronunciation BAH-kar-vahl
Alternate Names बक्करवाल
Population this Country 134,000
Population all Countries 134,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 3
People ID 16305
ROP3 Code 111433
ROP25 Code 300739
ROP25 Name Bakarwal
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 2
Largest States
Jammu and Kashmir
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 2
  Jammu and Kashmir 134,000
  Ladakh 40
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent *
0.02 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.05 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
1.24 %
98.66 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.01 %
0.02 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Kashmiri (53,000 speakers)
Language Code kas   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Kashmiri (53,000 speakers)
Language Code kas   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 7
Secondary Languages
  Gujari 52,000
  Dogri 6,400
  Bhadrawahi 700
  Urdu 400
  Pahari 300
  Khah 200
People Groups Speaking Kashmiri
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Copyrighted © 2024  Isudas  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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