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The Vasava of Pakistan

[IMAGE] The Vasava live in villages scattered in the richly wooded, hilly lands around Western India's Tapti River, which flows through the Surat and Bharuch Districts of Gujarat.

Historically, the Vasava were influenced by the Marathi, who had fought the Muslims of the Moghul dynasty and established their own empire in Gujarat. In 1817, while war raged among the Moghuls, the Marathas, and the Portuguese over the Gujarat territory, England slipped in and established its own power in the region. One of England's actions on behalf of the native people was to distribute farmland to Vasava settlers.

The Vasava consider themselves to be superior to other District Bhil groups because their raja ruled the Kingdom of Sagbara in the Baroda District until the beginning of the twentieth century. The Vasava language, Vasavi, is part of the Indo-Aryan linguistic family.

What are their lives like?
Surrounding Bhil tribes avoid the Vasava because they are aggressive and warlike. Traditionally, outsiders feared the women because the women chose their partners by spitting on them. If a woman succeeded in spitting on a stranger, he was accepted and did not dare refuse admittance to the tribe for fear of his life. Another custom required the bride and groom to spit into each other's mouths during the wedding ceremony. Today Vasava men usually buy their wives and marry while the girls are still adolescents. Cross-cousin marriage is acceptable. If a man cannot afford a bride price and the girl agrees to the marriage, the couple elopes. They return home after several months to have their union sanctioned.

The Vasava's economy depends on successful hunting in the lush forests—especially in the forests north of the Tapti River where there is an abundance of rabbits and birds. During the short summer monsoon period the Vasava catch fish in the nearby swollen rivers and streams.

The Vasava often travel for miles on foot or in ox-carts to participate in weekly village markets. They bring honey, wild roots, and berries to sell; in exchange they buy the majority of the materials they need for daily living (tools, clothing, and jewelry). Their contact with other Bhil groups and Hindu shopkeepers during these weekly market visits is superficial and wary.

Prosperous Vasava build houses with bamboo walls and tiled roofs. The poor enlist the help of family and friends to build mud huts. They build the houses near streams and rivers to be near water for household purposes, but they are careful to locate the buildings above the tidal flow or flood line.

What are their beliefs?
Although the Vasava have a high opinion of their own social standing, other tribes consider them to be a low social class. In fact, only the Kotwalia, or bamboo workers, and Kokni, woodcutters, are ranked as low. However, other groups do respect the Vasava for their strong powers of magic. They are masters of magic religious type ceremonies. They worship the crocodile and make offerings to Moghra Deo, the crocodile god. The people are extremely superstitious and hold deep-rooted beliefs in demoniac influence. They believe that witches are possessed by the ghosts of people who died unnatural and violent deaths. On the other hand, they appear to know how to cure illnesses.

What are their needs?
Because of their primitive lifestyle and aggressive reputation, they have been rejected by their own tribal brothers. They need to be loved and accepted for the people they are and to receive direction for channeling their courage and boldness into God's service.

Additional Christian teachers are needed to help raise their very low literacy rate and to assist the missions agencies laboring among the Vasava. Few Christian resources are available in the Vasavi language. None of the Bible has been translated; neither the Jesus film nor Christian broadcasts are available in Vasavi.

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Vasava.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Vasavi language.
  • Pray for God to send Christian teachers to the Vasava.
  • Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Vasavi language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Vasavi Christians.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant Vasava church for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Vasava
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Vasavi
  • Population: (1990) 331,700
    (1995) 364,900
    (2000) 398,600
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 99.1%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 3,284
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 90,900 (25%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 21,500 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 69,400 (19%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 274,000 (75%)
  • Country: India
  • Population: (1990) 850,638,100
    (1995) 935,744,300
    (2000) 1,022,021,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Hindi (High Hindi) 9.5%
    Telugu 7.8%
    Maratha 7.4%
    Bengali 6.4%
    Hindi (Bazaar, Popular) 5.5%
  • Major religions: Hindu 78.2%
    Muslim 12%
    Christian 4.3%
  • Number of denominations: 163

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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