Banjara (Hindu traditions) in Pakistan

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

The Hindu Banjara, who are known by 53 different names, primarily speak Lambadi or Lamani (53%), and Banjara (25%). They are the largest nomadic group in India though a smaller number live in Pakistan. The Romani began traveling from India to different regions of Europe hundreds of years ago, and differing dialects evolved in the regions in which each group settled. The Banjara's name is derived from the word bajika, which means trade or business, and from banji, meaning peddlers pack. Many consider them descended from Jews who were exiled to Egypt, as they came to India from Egypt and Persia. Some believe they were expelled from their homeland by Muslim invaders.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Although we usually associate Banjara groups with bands of fortune tellers traveling in colorful caravans from place to place, this is no longer the case. Historically they were nomadic and kept cattle, traded salt and transported goods. Now, most of them have settled down to farming and raising cattle or grain. Others still trade in salt and other commodities. In some regions, a few hold white collar positions or work as government servants. They also sew intricately embroidered colorful clothes with shining discs and beads. They make ornaments and ornate jewelry, which the women also wear. Not only do the Banjara usually have more than one occupation, they also use additional skills to supplement their incomes, depending on the societies needs at the time. Some specialize in making items such as broomsticks, iron tools and needles. They may also repair tools or work with stone. Others believe that one does not have to work for a living and gain income by "religious begging." They sing and wear special make-up while begging in the name of a specific Hindu deity. The Banjara love music, playing folk instruments, and dancing. The Banjar are also acrobats, magicians, tricksters, story-tellers, and fortune-tellers. Because they are poor, they eat what they have grown in their gardens along with dairy products. Many live in grass huts, often with extended families. The Banjara families are closely knit, having minimal relationships with other castes. The role of leader of the community is passed down to the leader's son. All biological sons get an equal share from parental property. Marriages may be arranged, especially to avoid the union of relatives to three generations back. Married women wear ivory armbands.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Banjara are Hindu; some have combined Hindu practices with their own animistic beliefs. Other groups follow Islam, yet others are Sikh. Romani often follow folk beliefs and mixed with these religious beliefs are many taboos (things one must never do.) One Hindu taboo is that a woman's hair must not be combed or let down long in the presence of men. Another is that a woman should not pass in front of a man who is sitting, but rather behind him. Chastity is very important. In the past, some girls who were involved in prostitution were buried alive. Unmarried girls are still discouraged from going into the cities, and they usually wear veils over their hands and feet while sitting with strangers.

What Are Their Needs?

Many Banjara live in poverty. Usually the only clothes a Romani owns are the ones on his back. An unsanitary lifestyle has created many physical needs among them. Most children do not attend schools because their families are always on the move. The Banjara do not have a written language, so depending on whatever state of India they are in, if they read, it must be in that states' script.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Banjara, rejected by society, would feel accepted by God. Ask God to provide creative ways to evangelize the Banjara, such as the Hosanna music tape with Lambadi songs and the gospel message. Pray for witnessing opportunities to Banjara children. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Banjaras in Pakistan this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Banjara (Hindu traditions) in Pakistan.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Banjara (Hindu traditions)
People Name in Country Banjara (Hindu traditions)
Pronunciation bahn-JAR-ah
Alternate Names Bagora; Bajari; Banjara; Banjare; Banjari; Bepari; Bhanja; Bhanjara; Brinjara; Daiya; Dhari; Dhead; Gavara; Gawalia; Gormati; Gour Banjara; Guwaria; Jogi Banjara; Ka; Kanjar; Kongadi; Laban; Labham; Labhan; Laman; Lamani; Lambadi; Lambana; Lambani; Lavan; Lavana; Lavana Banjara; Lavana Banjarara; Lohana; Manu Banjara; Mathura; Naik; Navi Banjara; Sirkiband; Soopdasi; Sukali; Vanjara; Vanjari; Wanjara; Wanjari; बंजारा (हिंदू ट्रेडिशन्स)
Population this Country 7,900
Population all Countries 7,428,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 16315
ROP3 Code 111445
ROP25 Code 300842
ROP25 Name Banjara
Country Pakistan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 7  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 2
Largest States
Country Pakistan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 7  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 2
  Punjab 4,000
  Sindh 3,800
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
* From latest Pakistan census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Saraiki (2,800 speakers)
Language Code skr   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 6
Secondary Languages
Marwari (Pakistan)
Punjabi, Western Urdu
Primary Language Saraiki (2,800 speakers)
Language Code skr   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 6
Secondary Languages
  Sindhi 2,300
  Marwari (Pakistan) 1,600
  Dhatki 1,100
  Punjabi, Western 0
  Urdu 0
People Groups Speaking Saraiki
Photo Source Anonymous 
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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