Introduction / History
The name, "Baloch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means "nomad," while others claim that it is an old Persian word meaning "the cock's crest." Their history is just as mysterious. Some have traced their origins to Nimrod, son of Cush (Noah's grandson). But while some things are uncertain, we do know that they first moved to the region in the twelfth century. During the Moghul period, this territory became known as "Balochistan."
Where Are they Located?
The Eastern Baloch are part of a much larger population of Baloch numbering about 13 million. The various groups speak different languages, each with distinguishing characteristics. The Dashtis are one of these in Pakistan.
Their homeland reaches from eastern Balochistan to southwestern Punjab, which borders India. This high, dry region was once a very populated country watered by a large number of flowing rivers. Today, it is a barren area of rocky mountains and dry river valleys mixed with desert land. Most Baloch live in this region, which carries their name, but there are smaller Baloch communities in India, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Dashti Baloch traditionally earn their living by a combination of farming and semi-nomadic shepherding. They usually raise sheep, cattle, or goats. Agriculture is limited because of the harsh climate; nevertheless, it plays a large role in the economy. The chief crop is wheat. To aid in the household economy, some farmers raise chickens. They also depend on wild fruits and vegetables.
What Are Their Beliefs?
One wild plant, called the "dwarf palm," is used as a dietary supplement. The Baloch peoples eat the meat of the palm and use the leaves to make ropes, shoes, mats, spoons, tents, and pipes. Techniques of survival differ from valley to valley and from high mountain areas to lowland plains. However, each community tries to keep as many different farm animals as possible and to grow a wide variety of crops.
The Dashti Baloch have overcome the obstacles of living in an extremely harsh, arid climate. Today, most of them live in two types of settlements that are conducive to their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Their permanent villages consist of clusters of mud houses, loosely organized around the home of the local chief. They live in these mountain and valley settlements in the summertime. However, in winter, they migrate to the plains and coastal areas, seeking green grass for their livestock. During this time, they live in tents, and move freely across the landscape as weather conditions dictate. These temporary settlements are smaller, consisting of closely related kin.
Dashti Baloch marriages are arranged between the bride's father and the prospective groom. Once a woman is married, she passes from the authority of her father to that of her husband. Marriages are monogamous and lifelong, and marrying a non-Baloch is strictly forbidden.
Baluchmayar, or the "Baluchiway," is the honor code by which the Baloch live. These principles include extending hospitality and mercy, dealing with each other honestly, and offering refuge to strangers. They are preserved through both songs and poetry. Children learn proper behavior by watching their elders and are taunted whenever they misbehave.
Many Baloch cannot read or write and until recently, their language was unwritten. However, they have a long tradition of poetic compositions. They have high regard for poets and professional musicians.
The Dashti Baloch are Sunni Muslims. All forms of secular authority are separated from the spiritual authority held by religious leaders.
What Are Their Needs?
The Dashti Baloch have been isolated for many years due to harsh climate, the difficulty of communicating in mountainous terrain, and their reputation as bandits. The Pakistani government has begun building roads and developing agriculture programs in Balochistan. However, the Baloch have remained largely unaffected by these developmental changes.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Dashti Baloch people teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Dashti Baloch families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Dashti Baloch families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.
Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Dashti Baloch family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.
Scripture Prayers for the Baloch Dashti in Pakistan.