About Oad People

The Oads of Pakistan

Most of the Oad live in the province of Sindh in southeastern Pakistan, an area that is mostly desert. They are divided into two distinct socio- economic classes: professionals and laborers. Those of the professional class, having obtained higher education, have become doctors, lawyers, or government workers. The majority of the Oad, however, are construction laborers as they have been since the late 1800's when the British governed what is now Pakistan.

Believing that they are of Rajput (Raj means king) origin, the Oad are proud of their heritage and possess a strong sense of unity and family. In general, they are a shy, reserved, hospitable, and very hard working people.

Their language, Oadki, is an Indo-Aryan language, but writers are not certain about further ethnological origins or cultural connections. It is believed that about 80% of the Oad are also fluent in the Sindhi language.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Until the introduction of irrigation into the area at the end of the nineteenth century, much of the land in the Sindh province was desolate. The use of irrigation now provides the possibility of cultivation. Problems persist, however, as the groundwater in the region is mostly salty and unfit for agricultural use.

The Oad live a relatively mobile lifestyle. When one building project is finished, the group will relocate to wherever other work is found. They are not property owners, but rather live in a designated area provided by the employer until completion of the project. The sizes of their villages varies from 10 to 15 families, depending on the work available.

Laborers that are involved in making bricks, digging canals and wells, as well as building mud walls, railroad tracks, and roads, conduct their work by hand. Donkeys are used to carry the dirt needed for their construction projects. As machinery is introduced, manual laborers are needed less and less. As a result, many of the younger men have begun moving to other areas in search of various occupations in the labor market. Many are now learning to drive vehicles.

The Oad live in patriarchal (male-dominated) extended family units, usually with at least six people under one roof. The father is the provider of the family, while the mother tends to the household duties and handles most of the discipline. After the children are grown, the women work alongside the men, herding donkeys and helping with the construction projects.

The Oad wear long, loose-fitting clothing. Turbans are worn by the older men. The women wear distinctive full skirts called gagaros, which extend to the ground and have colorful hems. They also wear large head scarves, but no veils to cover their faces, as do the Muslim women of Pakistan.

The Oad diet is similar to that of most Hindu Pakistanis, although they will also eat any kind of meat except cow and tortoise. Flat breads, spicy vegetables, and lentils are common. Men eat outside on a mat. The women serve the men, then eat inside with the children. The Oad are generally very clean people.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Oad consider themselves to be Hindu, although there is a portion (8%) who have converted to Islam. These Muslims are strict in their religious practices and pray regularly. Though lacking in secular education, they are enthusiastic about learning the Koran.

The Hindu Oad still follow the customs and ceremonies that have governed the lives of the Oad for generations, yet they are only casual observers of the Hindu religion. They celebrate the Hindu holy days, but are considered outcasts because of their animistic tendencies (believing that non-human objects have spirits).

What Are Their Needs?
They need education and awareness, so they can solve their problems themselves.

(Content of this page are taken from http://kcm.co.kr/bethany_eng/p_code4/732.html )
(Map is used by permission of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.)