Ancient tribes of Himachal Pradesh:
Dasas (Dasyu) – Inhabitant of Shivalik Hills during Pre-Vedic period. Dasas were accepted into the Aryan fold due to the constant efforts of Rishi Vishwamitra and Rishi Bhardwaj.
Khasas – Inhabitant of Shimla, Sirmaur, parts of Kullu and Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh and Tehri, Kumaon and Garhwal area of Uttrakhand. In Kinnaur, they call themselves Khashiya and associate themselves with Rajputs. Khasas at present represent both the Brahmin and Kshatriya part of the population.
Kinners – Kinner originated from the two Sanskrit words; Kim + Nara, means what kind of person are they? The look of the Kinner is that of a ‘half man and half horse’ means the people with ‘Ashwamukha’. They are believed to have inhabited the inner Himalayan terrain right from the River Ganges up to the River Chandra Bhaga till Gupta Period.
Kiratas – In the history of Kashmir, ‘Chandalas’ and ‘Kaivaratas’ have been mentioned as the low caste people. Later on, Kiratas came to be known as ‘Mavies’ or ‘Mavanas’ in the region across the River Satluj and Yamuna. The Kirata’s King ‘Sambhar’ fought against the Aryan King ‘Divodasa’ and the war lasted for forty years, discussed in the Rig Veda by Rishi Vashista and Vamdeva. In this war, Kiratas had to suffer. ‘Sambhar’ and his ally ‘Verchi’ were killed at a place named ‘Udubraj’.
Nagas – They were the worshiper of Nagas (Serpents) and believed to have inhabited the Himalayan region. Their famous Kings were Vasuki, Kali and Takshaka.
Pishachas – This tribe is known as ‘Rakshsas’ in Vedic times. They were the consumer of raw flesh and believed to have inhabited North Frontier and the adjoining Himalayan tract.
Yakshas – They were known as the tree gods, endowed with mysterious super human powers.
Modern Tribes of Himachal Pradesh:
Swangla – The Swangla is a Schedule Tribe living in the Pattan valley tract along the River Chandra Bhaga in District Lahaul – Spiti. They are Rajput and Brahmins. The languages spoken by them are Manchhad (mixture of Tibetan and Hindi), Chinnali (spoken by the Sipi and the Lohar), Bhoti (spoken by Bodhs), and Tinan or Tinent (spoken by people of Sisu area).
Khampa – They are believed to have migrated from Tibet. They settled in Kullu, Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul – Spiti Districts. In Kullu valley they are known as ‘Bauddh’ and in some other parts they are known as Tibtees. In Spiti division they are known as ‘Piti Khampa’; in Kinnaur as ‘Kunnu Khampa’; in Kullu as ‘Neondi Khampa’; in Chamba ‘Thava Khampa’; in Lahaul as ‘Gharja Khampa’. They have been included in the Schedule Tribe category. The Dialect spoken by them is known as ‘Khampa’.
Pangwal – The Pangwals are the residents of Pangi Valley of District Chamba. According to Census of India, 1961 village monograph on Kupha, Pasams, Tamoh and Malet (Singh 1961) because of the difficult terrain of the area, the authorities considered it the best place to send those criminals who were condemned to life long sentences. The criminals supposed to have been settled here permanently.
Kinner or Kannaura – The inhabitants of District Kinnaur are known as Kinnaura, Kinara or Kannuaura. Kinner originated from the two Sanskrit words; Kim + Nara, means what kind of person are they? The look of the Kinner is that of a ‘half man and half house’ means the people with ‘Ashwamukha’. The Kinners speak the Kinnauri dialect, which, according to G.A. Grierson comes under the Himalayan group of Tibet – Burman family of language. Besides, Bhoti is also spoken in upper Kinnaur. Kinnaur is called ‘Khunu’ by the Tibetans. Janetang or Janekang is a most common, legal and widely practiced marriage system by the Kinnauras.
Lahaulas – The dwellers of Lahaul area are known as Lahaulas. They are mainly Buddhist and their dialect resembles Tibetan. Arrange marriage in Lahaulas called ‘Tabhagston’ and Love marriage is called ‘Kumai Bhagston’. Their famous local drink is ‘Lugri’.
Gujjars – The Gujjars are identified by General Cunningham with the ‘Kushan’ or ‘Tochari’ or ‘Yachi’, a tribe of the Eastern Tartars. The Gujjars are supposed to be the descendants of ‘Huns’ of Gurjaras.
Jads – Jads are mainly Buddhist. They have occupied the area of Pangi and Chamba. They earn their income from agriculture and wool trade. Unmarried girls in the region are known as ‘Jomo’.
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