Profile Source: Anonymous
Introduction / History
The Hanji are from Kashmir in India. They are boatman whose work is from the Kashmir lakes. They are usually the people who visitors to the valley come in closest contact with. They are said to be descendants from a group called the Nishads. Some say they have descended from Noah (an opportunity here to discuss the Bible). It is believed they were Kshatriyas before they became Muslims.
The Hanjis work hard. They live in one or two small rooms on their boats. They have a large knowledge of boat work. Children begin paddling and towing work when they are very young. There are differing classes of Hanji according to their boats and how they are socially. There are the Demb Hanji who are vegetable growers, the Gad Hanji who are fishermen, the Gari Hanji who are carriers of water nuts, the Dunga Hanji who own passenger boats, the Mata Hanji who are wood dealers, the House Boat Hanji and also the Haka Hanji, the Shikara Hanji and the Bahatchi Hanji.
The Hanji use different shapes, sizes and classes of boats. The class of boat that a Hanji has and uses for work or the products he works with largely reveal what class he is socially. The Bahts who are barge boatmen are now in the grain and timber occupations and that has given them a higher status than other Hanjis. They are clever and can do the work of a butler, cook or guide more or less straight away. The Dunga and House Boat Hanji speak Hindustani and English quite well.
The Hanji are mainly in the Anchar lake, Dal lake, Wular lake and the Jhelum river regions, mostly between Chhatabal and Khanabal.
The Hanji are the people who take tourists to Kashmir on a journey to the valley and this could be a way of making contact with them regards the gospel.