Gujjars (Download PDF)

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  • Mainly inhabit in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

  • Alternative spellings include Gurjara, Gujar, Gurjjar, Gujjar and Gojar.

  • They mainly follow Hindu and Muslim religions.

  • They regard themselves as equivalent to the Jat, Ahir and Rajput in social status.

  • Tall, strong and sturdy people with fair skin color and sharp features.

  • They belong to the category of semi-nomadic tribes.

  • The main occupation is herding of goats, sheeps and buffaloes.

  • Keep on moving from one place to another and therefore have very rare permanent settlements.

  • Mostly reside in shacks or huts made of grass, wood or bamboos depending upon the availability of raw materials.

  • The Banhara Gujjars live in “Kullas” made from special type of grass.

  • The settled Gujjars mainly live in “Kothas”.

  • Bakarwals live in temporary Doharas and Tamboos.

  • To sustain their living, they sell milk, ghee and their cattle.

  • Gujjars have given their names to several places in Pakistan:

    • Gujranwala

    • Gujjar Nallah

    • Gujar Khan

    • Gojra and Gujrat

Languages Spoken

  • Hindi

  • Urdu

  • Kashmiri

  • Dogri

  • Pahari

Traditions and Customs

  • Strictly follow old traditions and customs.

  • Custom of early marriages:

    • Girls are married at an age of 14 – 15 years.

    • Boys at 17 - 18 years.

  • Wears traditional dresses.

  • Men wear turbans on their head:

    • Mughal style

    • Long and loose ‘Kurtas’ or shirts with ‘Salwars’

    • Vest-coat called ‘Basket’ (over the shirt)

    • Wrap ‘Chaddar’ or shawl around their shoulders to save them from cold

  • Women wear loose ‘Kurta’ (shirt):

    • Collars and cuffs

    • Suthan’ or ‘Salwars’ in Churidar style

    • Flaunt vest-coat over ‘Kurta’ like men

    • Wrap a ‘Chaddar’ around their heads (Neelak)

    • Fond of jewellery like necklace, nose rings and ear rings (made of silver)

Foods

  • Depends mainly on milk products besides cereals, wheat and maize.

  • Mostly vegetarians.

  • Other favourite dishes include Maki ki Roti Ganhar and Sarson ka Sag, Lassi, Kalari, Karan etc.

Economy

  • An exploited component with Gujjar politics.

  • Poor economic condition.

  • The basic characteristics involve:

    • Labour Class

    • Agriculture Class

    • Service Class

    • Business Class

  • The business class deals with milk and milk based products, mutton and woollen products apart from other business related activities.

  • The Artisans class is involved in professional handicrafts, handloom and all semi-skilled activities.

Their Needs

  • Education to shun their out dated rituals such as child marriages etc.

  • Reservation in jobs along with latest teaching techniques in animal husbandry and agriculture.

  • Their needs are for better health, literacy, stability and a reliable source of income.

Beliefs

  • Gujjars were the original inhabitants of Gurjia or Georgia.

  • They reached Gujarat crossing Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • Gujjars were earlier Rajputs.

  • After losing to Aurangzeb they changed their religion to Islam.

  • With the invasion of various Muslim groups in India and Pakistan in the eleventh century, the Gurjar Hindus converted to Islam.

  • Their wanderings took them into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  • Tribal migrations also occurred at the time of India Pakistan partition in 1947.

  • Muslims migrated to Pakistan while the Hindus flocked to India.

Van Gujjars

  • Found in the Shivalik hills area of Uttarakhand.

  • They follow Islam.

  • They have their own clans similar to the Hindu gotras.

  • A pastoral semi-nomadic community.

  • Buffalo-herders inhabiting the foothills of Himalayan states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

  • This community has been in conflict with the forest authorities due to increased poaching and timber smuggling incidents in a reserved park.

  • They were asked to shift to a resettlement colony at Pathri near Haridwar.

Hindu Gujjars

  • Mostly found in Indian states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab Plains and Maharashtra.

  • Hindu Gujjars were assimilated into various varnas in the medieval period.

  • They worship the gods and goddesses like Shiva (Destroyer), Vishnu (Preserver), Kali (wife of Shiva), Durga, Krishna (who has pastoral attributes), Rama (righteous prince), Hanuman (the monkey god regarded as a protector against danger).

  • They celebrate all Hindu festivals like Holi (festival of colours), Diwali (festival of lamps), Dussehra and Janamashtami (Krishna’s birthday).

  • Teej and Mavasa are the other festivals celebrated.

Muslim Gujjars

  • Mostly found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indian Himalayan regions such as Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Garhwal and Kumaon divisions of Uttarakhand.

  • The Muslim Gujjar of Himachal Pradesh also are made up of two subgroups – the Bhatariye and Bhanariye.

  • A mullah, imam or maulavi performs all rituals relating to life cycles.

  • They celebrate Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Zuha, Shab-I-qader, Miraj-alam and others.

Sikh Gujjars

  • Found only in India.

  • Part of the Rajasthan people cluster within the South Asian Peoples affinity bloc.

  • Primary language is Gujari.

  • Primary religion practiced is Sikhism.

  • Punjabi Gujjars worship the sun as Surya Narain.

  • They also worship:

    • Sitala (goddess of smallpox)

    • Pyareji and Baba Sabha Ram

    • Kheda Devta

    • Khota

    • Satti and Bhumia

Status of Gujjars

  • Classified as Other Backward Class (OBC) in some of India’s States and UTs.

  • They are also categorised as a Scheduled Tribe in Jammu and Kashmir and some parts of Himachal Pradesh.

- Published/Last Modified on: July 27, 2020

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