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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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  • 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

Three Projects Help India to Stop its Share of Water to Pakistan after Pulwama

The waters of the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab - averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan.

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Picture Courtesy:-www.economylead.com

The government has envisaged three projects to give intent to its decision to stop its share of water from three eastern rivers of the Indus system – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – from going to Pakistan.

The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack though the Union cabinet had approved implementation of one of the key projects – Shahpurkandi dam – in December last year.

The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan except for “specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India”, according to a treaty.

India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.

pakistan, india, water ban
However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. VOA

To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers, India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.

However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. The other two projects are Ujh multipurpose project and the second Ravi Beas link below Ujh.

Here’s the reality check of the three projects:

Shahpurkandi Project: It aims to utilise the waters coming from powerhouse of Thein dam in order to irrigate 37,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by generating 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the two states, work was suspended in August 2014 but they reached an agreement last September and the construction work has now resumed with the Centre monitoring its progress. The central government had in December last year announced assistance of Rs 485 crore for the project and it would be completed by June 2022.

 

India, pakistan, pulwama, water ban
The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. VOA

The project will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectare in Punjab and 32,173 hectare in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The total balance cost of pending work in ShahpurKandi Dam project is estimated Rs 1,973.53 crore (irrigation component: Rs 564.63 crore, power component Rs1408.90 crore).

The Shahpurkandi Project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in November, 2001. Revised costs were approved, but there was delay in its execution both because of lack of funds with Punjab and inter-state issues with Jammu and Kashmir.

An agreement was finally reached between the two states under the aegis of Water Resources Ministry in September last year.

Ujh multipurpose project: Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,850 crore and the Central assistance of Rs 4,892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration. The project is yet to be implemented and it will take about six years for completion.

Second Ravi Beas link below Ujh: The project has been planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through Ravi by constructing a barrage across it for diverting water through a tunnel link to the Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to the Beas basin.

 

india, pakistan, water share, pulwama
Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia

The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system of rivers originating in India.

 

ALSO READ: IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

The Indus system comprises Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.  (IANS)