The Kachhwaha or Kushwaha are a people who live in north central India. They are traditionally farmers and beekeepers. Since their country's independence have branched out into other occupations. Up until the 20th century they were considered the fourth and lowest caste in Hinduism. Starting in the late 1800s an attempt was made to claim Kshatriya status as descendants of Rama, the avatar of Vishnu. The British favored the Kushwaha because they grew opium poppies, a very lucrative crop for the British. Today some members of the Hindu caste system reject the higher Kshatriya Varna of the Kushwaha and still see them as laborers.
Some Kushwaha have become educated and left the agricultural work of their ancestors. They have moved to Indian cities and attained middle class position with jobs in teaching, engineering, medicine, science and public service.
The main language of the Kushwaha is Hindi. They also speak other regional languages of India. College educated Kushwaha speak English.
Where Are they Located?
The large majority of the Kushwaha live in the Indian states of Rajastan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Smaller groups live throughout the country of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The lifestyle of the Kushwaha depends on where they live and their level of education.
They Kushwaha eat meat except for beef. Rice and wheat are their staple foods, supplemented by dairy products, vegetables, fruit and beans.
The Kushwaha encourage both their sons and daughter to get a university degree.
The Kushwaha marry within their caste but not within their particular clan. Families arrange marriage with the groom's family making the proposal. The newly married couple lives near the groom's parents. A dowry is paid to the groom's family. Only the sons inherit parental property, which is shared equally. The father's authority is inherited either by the eldest male member in the family.
The Kushwaha have caste and village councils, which settle legal disputes and enforce social norms.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Kushwaha practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Special attention is given to Kali, the goddess of death and sexuality, Durga, the mother goddess, Rama, and Hanuman, the monkey god. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Kushwaha visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods.
The main yearly holidays of the Kushwaha people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn, and Maha Shivaratri, the great night of Shiva.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kushwaha need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see the love and mercy of Christ lived out in practical ways before them.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through those Christians ministering to the Kushwaha people.
Pray that strong movements to Jesus will bring whole Kushwaha families into rich experiences of God's blessings.
Pray that many of the Kushwaha people will come to love God with their whole being and walk in His ways.
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