Caste system in Himachal Pradesh

By | November 6, 2016

Koli – Kolis are believed to have sprung from abandoned Kanets who volunteered to remove carcasses in the absence of Chamar when disease claimed the lives of large number of cattle. In the Shivalik Hills Kolis call themselves New Rajput or Kshatriya.

Chamar – Traditional leather workers are called Chamar. It is a widely spread community in the state of Himachal Pradesh. They worship ‘Sidh Chano’ as their community deity in the name of ‘Garha Devta’.  Chamars are known by various names as Mochi, Ramdasis and Ravidasi.

Chanal – The Chanals corresponds regarding their occupation, rituals and customs closely to the Hali of Chamba and Dagi and Koli of Kullu and Shimla. In district Kangra, Chanals are treated somewhat lower to the Kolis. Majority of this community work as agricultural labours for the Brahmins and Rajputs in lieu of a certain share of the produce.

Hali – The Hali means a person who earns his livelihood by hal (plough). Hali’s traditional occupations were to skin and tan dead animals, to remove carcasses, and to play music on marriages and other social and religious ceremonies.

Hesi – The Hesis are the traditional vagrant minstrels, who used to subsist by playing a Shehnai and beating Dholak or Tamborium, and singing wedding greetings and folk songs.

Sippi – Sippis are described as a ‘weaves of the Gaddi tribe’ and virtually same as Hali. They are mostly found in Bharmour, district Chamba.

Rihara – According to Ibbeston, the Riharas appears to be closely allied to Dumna. In district Shimla they earn their livelihood by making Kirri (Kilta basket) and removing cow dung whereas the Riharas are primarily engaged in silver smithy and tin smithy.

Turi – Turis are the agriculturist but their main occupation is music and dancing. They are also known as ‘Dayal’ (in Chopal) or ‘Dhakis’ or ‘Bajgir’. Their main concentration is in trans- Giri tract of district Sirmaur and their commonly spoken language is Sirmauri.

Acharaj – The Acharaj or Charaj are the Brahmin who seeks offerings (dan) in the name of dead by performing death rites – Kriya-Karam for various Hindu communities.

Battarha – The Battarhas are occupationally stone – workers or dresser/breakers. They are commonly known as ‘Mistri’ or ‘Rajgir’ or ‘Raj’ or ‘Sangatrash’.

Sunar – Sunar is basically the jeweller of the village. He is also a money lender, taking ornaments in pawns and making cash advances upon them. Soni, Kapila, Jargar and Zargar are the synonyms of this community. Tank and Mair are the subgroups of Sunar community.

Thathera – Thathera is the man who makes vessels of brass, copper and other mixed metals. The community is divided into different gotra/got viz. Mehta, Wadhvan, Uppal, Chadha, Varma and Anand.

Kumhars (Potters) – Kumhar is the man who makes earthen pots. These pots are used in the village to store the grains. Some of their got/gotras are Shandil, Kashab and Bharapdariye.

Dumna – Dumna’s working material is bamboo. The Dumna are mostly found in Chamba, Kangra and Shimla Hills. They makes sieves (tokri), winnowing pans, fans, matting, baskets, grass rope,  string, furniture and other articles made of bamboo.

Ghirath – The Ghirath or Chowdhary come next to the Brahmins and Rajputs as a predominant Hindi community. They are mostly found in western part of Himachal Pradesh viz. Hamirpur, Kangra, Una and Bilaspur districts. The Ghirath is a local name and its origin from ghee reveals their traditional occupation of animal husbandry and farming. Although Ghiraths community claim their descent from Rajput or Kshatriya. The sub-division of Ghiraths is – namely Kaundal, Bhardwaj, Bhattlu, Badial, Pathari, Chhabru, Reru and Chhora.

Lohar (Blacksmith) – The Lohar is one of the village menials, receiving customary dues in the form of a share of the produce, in return for which he makes and mends all the iron implements of agriculture. They write Devnagari script and speak local dialect of Pahari within and outside the community.

Brahmin – The Brahmin from one of the largest social group in India. The Brahmins have their ‘gotra’ associated with various Rishis of ancient times. They consider themselves descendents of seven Rishi ancestors, namely Jamdagni, Gautama, Bhardwaj, Attri, Agatsaya, Kashyapa and Vashista. The famous Brahmin gotras are – Sarswat, Gauda, Vatsya, Upamanyu, Attri, Shandilya, Garga, Prashar, Gautam, Vatsa, Sankhyayan, Vatsyayan, Upadhyaya, Awasthi Sukla, Pathak, Vashistha, Kaushal, Kashyap, Bhardwaj and so on.

Rajput – The Rajput, one of the erstwhile principal warrior and ruling community of Himachal Pradesh, ‘”are said to be Brahmin by original stock”. The Rajputs are divided into six status groups, including Raja, Rajput, Mian and Thakur which include first grade and second grade Ranas and Rathis.

Mahajan – The Mahajan literally means “the great folk” are also known as Shah or Sahukar. The main castes in the Mahajan community are Khatri, Kayastha and Baniya.

Sood – Sood constitute of an important group of the traditional traders and shopkeepers like the Bania, Khatri and Mahajan. Their clans are Butel, Gupta, Chimre, Bante, Bagle, Mahdudiye, Parkhoee, Chab, Kodel, Wahi, Kalander Baddhu, Baggha and Augarh.

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