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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
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  • 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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  • billa

    Liars,according to hindustan times gujjars are as much as 10 percent of indian population and there are 50 million gujjars in pakistan and u r saying there are only 5.6 million gujjars.please do some research.

Next Story

India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.