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Gujjars: Know about the History of India’s Religiously inclined Tribal Community!

Earlier Gujjar were nomads, but now they are settled and practice animal husbandry along with cultivation of crops like wheat, gram and maize

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The nomadic tribe of Jammu Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
  • Quite a few number of Gujjars claim to be descents of the  Suryavanshi Kshatriyas or the  Sun Dynasty and connect themselves with the Hindu deity Rama
  • Gujjars are a large community concentrated in the Indo-Gangetic plains, the Himalayan region
  • Earlier Gujjars were nomads, but now they are settled and practice animal husbandry along with cultivation of crops like wheat, gram, and maize

The ethnic group of the Gujjars is basically a pastoral and nomadic community and now lives in settled communities. They are also known as Gurjara, Gurjar and Goojar. In India, they are categorized as ‘other backward classes’ or ‘OBC’ and are present in large numbers in Rajasthan and other parts of North India.

In Sanskrit, Gurjar means “Destroyer of the enemy”. Gujjars are about 5.6 million in number distributed mainly across the states of Rajasthan (2.1 million), Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (1.4 million), Madhya Pradesh (840,000), Haryana (640,000), Maharashtra (230,000), Delhi (210,000), Punjab (120,000), Orissa (13,000), Chandigarh (7,000), Himachal Pradesh (3,300), Jammu and Kashmir and Gujrat (2,800).

The origin of the Gujjar is debatable as the origin of the word ‘Gujjar’ can be viewed from many angles. While many of them claim to be descents of the Suryavanshi Kshatriyas or the  Sun Dynasty and connect themselves with the Hindu deity Rama; but scholars are of the opinion that Gurjars were foreign immigrants.

In Ramayana, it is said that Gurjars fought against the demons under the leadership of King Dasharatha and during the Mahabharata, the Gurjars  are said to have moved along with lord Krishna migrated from Mathura to Dwarka in Gujarat. There is also a view that they were a pastoral community dealing in milk and dairy products because they adore Lord Krishna (a Hindu diety), who loved milk and butter.

A woman belonging to Gujjar Community. Image source: sophiaindia.org
A woman belonging to Gujjar Community. Image source: sophiaindia.org

The others believe that the name “Gujar” was sanskritized to “Gurjara” or “Gūrjara after they migrated from Central Asia,  from places such as “Gurjistan”,  that is named after them. Also an ancient kingdom to the east of lower Indus named Gujjara is said to have existed from 400 AD to 800 AD. Found in great numbers in most parts of the northwestern India, these are the only people whose tribal names seem to offer a clue to their descent from the Kushans.

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A majority of Gurjars follow Hinduism or Islam, but a few of them follow other religions as well. The Gujjars who practice Islam still follow Hindu traditions and ideals. Some Gujjar communities say they converted to Islam from Hinduism during Aurangzeb’s rule. Though Eid is celebrated by them with great enthusiasm, they also observe Hindu rites like making an idol of Govardhan out of cow dung and worshiping it as a newborn in the family.

The Gujjars living in some states like Himachal Pradesh and Haryana speak Gujjari, an Indo-Aryan language, while the others have adapted the language of the states, they reside in. The Gujjars of the Muslim community speak Urdu as their first language and use the Persian-Arabic script to write it. They speak Hindi among themselves and use the Devanagari script in regions like Chandigarh, Punjab, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh. They also speak languages like- Punjabi, Pasto, Pahari, Kutchi, Gujarati language, Khowar, Balti, and Kashmiri language depending on the type of locality they are in.

 

Image Source: indianetzone.com
Image Source: indianetzone.com

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Earlier Gujjar were nomads, but now they are settled and practice animal husbandry along with the cultivation of crops like wheat, gram, and maize. They rear domestic animals and sell dairy products in the market. Pulses, vegetables and sugarcane and green fodder for the cattle are cultivated.

The level of literacy among the Gujjar is low. Many Gujjars have also found themselves in the public and private services. Some of them who are living in urban centers run businesses like grocery shops and some work as contractors and traders.

Child marriages were common and but slowly it has been replaced by adult marriages. According to peoplegroupsindia.com, marriage by an exchange is also practiced by some Gujjars of Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

– by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County Hoshiarpur

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Wheat field in Phagwara Punjab India. Wikimedia

Hoshiarpur, Oct 2, 2017: Punjab is better known for India’s “green revolution” in agriculture and for contributing the maximum foodgrain to the national kitty. And now a progressive horticulturist and entrepreneur is offering hands-on experience to visitors to try their hand at how farming is actually done.

“Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County — Hoshiarpur. Get your kids to the farm to give them a unique experience in a typical farm in Punjab. Let then come and indulge in plucking fruit and sowing vegetable seeds in the fields on their own.” This is how Harkirat Ahluwalia, owner of the Citrus County farm resort, puts it.

“We are offering guests, especially children, first-hand experience of doing farming. This is something that people have never tried before. The experience gives them the satisfaction of doing hard work and experiencing what life is like in the countryside,” Harkirat, who along with his wife Jasveen runs the resort, about 140 km from Chandigarh, told IANS.

The guests at the farm can sow seeds, pluck citrus fruit, plough the fields, milk cows, drive a tractor and take a ride to a nearby forest and rivulet in a tractor-trolley.

Fresh home-cooked food, which is prepared on earthen stoves at the ground level, home-grown organic vegetables and warm hospitality add up in equal measure to make the experience a refreshing one.

“Glamping”, or luxury tenting, as Harkirat puts it, is also part of the farm experience.

The nine air-conditioned tents at Citrus County, with attached bathrooms, offer luxury stay with king-sized beds in the midst of the sprawling orchards of kinnow (a citrus fruit) and tall poplar trees.

Also Read: Indian Agriculture status, Importance & Role In Indian Economy 

The farm resort is located in Chaunni Kalan village, five km short of Hoshiarpur on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh highway.

“Cycling enthusiasts are welcome to get their wheels along and we will provide them the best possible tracks,” said Harkirat, who is a post-graduate in Mass Communication from Panjab University and himself a cycling and biking enthusiast.

In the past, the resort has seen couples from other countries going through wedding rituals the Indian way to give them a real-time feel of the country’s culture and marriage ceremonies.

The unique thing in couples opting for the Indian-style wedding is that they are already married and are middle-aged or even older. The couples are accompanied by their friends, relatives and even children and grandchildren for this unique experience. (IANS)