Chamar (Sikh traditions) in Pakistan

Chamar (Sikh traditions)
Photo Source:  Balhar Singh 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Chamar (Sikh traditions)
Country: Pakistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 800
World Population: 1,808,800
Primary Language: Punjabi, Western
Primary Religion: Other / Small
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Dalit - Chamar (Bhambi)
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Sikh Chamar are Hindus who converted to Sikhism under the teaching of the Ten Gurus who lived from 1469 to 1708. Sikhism teaches that there is no caste system. All men and women are equal in God's eyes. Many of the Hindus who became Sikhs were from the Dalit caste. The original occupation of the Chamar was that of leather worker, a job despised by upper caste Hindus. Later, many Chamar became weavers and landless agricultural workers. Though most live in western India, a small number live further west in Pakistan’s Punjab Province where there are few Sikhs.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today the Sikh Chamar live diverse lives. Educated Sikhs enjoy middle to upper class positions in cities. Uneducated Sikh Chamar still live in rural villages much like their ancestors. A Sikh Chamar can marry any other Sikh since one of the basic tenets of Sikhism is rejected of the caste system and equality for all. Sikhs are monogamous, that is they marry only one spouse. They forbid child marriage. A newly born baby is taken to a Gurdwara or Sikh place of worship for naming. Each Sikh boy is given the name of Singh or lion while the girl receives the name Kaur or princess. By giving each Sikh the same last name, the 10 Gurus wanted to eliminate the caste system, which is often revealed on one's last name. The Sikh Chamar are not vegetarians. However, they do not eat pork. Their main foods are rice, other grains, vegetables, and fruit.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Though there are Chamars who are Hindu or Muslim, there are also Sikhs among them. Sikhism originated from a 15th century teacher named Guru Nanak Dev as a reform movement. He rejected the Hindu caste system, taught that all people were equal and that all have equal access to God. The Sikh God is formless, without gender and is to be found in everyone. One gets closer to God by living a good life and by practicing charity. Like Hindus, Sikhs believe in reincarnation and the law of karma; you reap what you sow in your previous life. Like Muslims, the Sikhs worship only one God. One may recognize a Sikh man by his distinctive turban. All the 10 great Sikh gurus wore turbans. Sikh teaching mandates that a person not cut his or her hair. They worship their holy book, the Granth Sahib, which is a collection of hymns. There are roughly the same number of Sikhs as there are Jews in the world, but Sikhs are most concentrated in Punjab, their homeland. However, you will find smaller numbers of Sikhs all over the world. Many of the best Indian restaurants in the West are owned and operated by Sikhs.

What Are Their Needs?

The Sikh Chamars need to put their identity in Jesus Christ and accept His abundant life.

Prayer Points

Pray for workers needed to sow God's Word into Sikh Chamar families, healing and strengthening households with God's blessings. Pray for movements to Jesus to sweep through Sikh families, permeating the group from within. Ask God to deliver families and communities within the Sikh Chamar people from fears that hinder them from embracing His blessings.

Text Source:   Joshua Project