Introduction / History
The Sikligars (or Moyal or Panchal) of the Indian subcontinent are best known as polishers of metal, especially fine swords. Their name comes from a word which means, "to polish." The Sikligars say they were once Rajputs or sons of rulers. The Sikligars are also known for making, selling and fixing agricultural implements, such as spades, sickles, sieves, and iron buckets. Traditionally, the Sikligars traveled from village to village selling and mending metal tools. Originally all Sikligars were Hindus. During the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal period, some Sikligars became Muslims. Some Sikligar in Punjab have become Sikhs. In Bangladesh they are Muslims.
Where Are they Located?
Most of the Muslim Sikligars live in India, but there are some in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Most Pakistani Sikligars live in the Punjab and Sindh provinces.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Many of the Sikligars wander, traveling from village to village selling their wares and their blacksmithing skills. Farmers hire them to make farming tools or to work as day laborers. Some Sikligars are still engaged in the manufacture of swords, knives and daggers. The swords and knives are now used for ceremonial purposes, not as weapons of war. Others are becoming landless agricultural workers due to the fact that their ancient trade of metalworking is being replace by manufactured metal goods. Many of the Sikligars are unable to read and write. Many Sikligar children must quit school early to help their families make a living. The nomadic lifestyle of the Sikligars also hinders the educational opportunities of their children. Muslim Sikligars marry within their group but not within their particular clan. Families arrange marriages. The newly married couples often live with or near the groom's parents. Sons inherit property upon the death of their father with the eldest son becoming head of the family. Caste councils settle legal problems and promote their interests. The main foods of the Sikligars are rice, wheat, barley, vegetables, and dairy products. They eat meat on special occasions. Muslim Sikligars will not eat pork.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Sikligars can be Hindu, Sikh or Muslim. The vast majority of Sikligars in Bangladesh are Sunni Muslims. The Sunni are the largest branch of Islam. They try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. They believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited to drink alcohol, eat pork, gamble, steal, use deceit, slander, and make idols. 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.
What Are Their Needs?
The Sikligar need help in learning new job skills and educating their children. Most rural Sikligars do not have access to clean water, electricity and indoor plumbing. The introduction of modern medicine would greatly improve the lives of the Sikligars. Most of all, the Sikligars need to hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
Pray for a chain reaction of Sikligar families reaching families that results in thousands of new believers who share their faith with others. Pray that churches and believers will bless their entire people group in such a way that God's love will change the Muslim Sikligar people like yeast changes dough. Pray for Sikligar people to have a spiritual hunger that will be satisfied by a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scripture Prayers for the Sikligar (Muslim traditions) in Bangladesh.