Introduction / History
The Khatri of India came from the Punjab and have gone to live in other states also. They are traders and merchants. In addition to the Punjab, they live mainly in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The Khatri say they are Rajputs who are the second highest class of warriors in the Hindu caste system. They have gone from strength to strength in the last few years. They have much influence in northwest India. The Khatris, when Christians, could lead people to Jesus Christ in this region.
In the Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and in Haryana, the main language of the Khatri is Punjabi and they read and write in Gurumukhi. In Jammu and Kashmir, they speak Dogri and Bhadrawahi. In Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Hindi is the main language and they read and write in Devanagari. They speak Maithili in Bihar, Kacchi in Gujarat, Pahari in Himachal Pradesh and Mewari in Rajasthan. Most Khatri speak Hindi and some can speak English.
What Are Their Lives Like?
In addition to being traders, some of the Khatri are financiers and moneylenders. Some have small shops and others are industrialists. Also some are agriculturists and breed animals. Others are transporters and contractors and a few do government work. The Khatri in Gujarat print and dye cloth and in Maharashtra they weave silk saris. Some of the Khatri are in professional work too such as being in the police and being doctors and scientists. They use modern and local medicine and do family planning.
The Khatri are endogamous, meaning they choose marriage partners within the group. In the Punjab they live mainly in the regions of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. In Haryana many live in the regions of Ambala, Faridabad, Hissar and Rohtak.
Marriages are arranged by the parents and the elders. Adult marriages are favored. They believe in Monogamy and they give a dowry. They dislike divorce but it is allowed in certain cases such as not being able to have children. Divorcees and the bereaved can marry again. In some states such as Bihar though, widows cannot marry again. There are some larger families but young couples now prefer to not live in the homes of their parents and in-laws. Only the sons have property inheritance. It is equally divided and the oldest son becomes in charge of the family. Khatri women do the housework and are involved in social and religious matters. Sometimes they help with money for the family. The Khatri do folk songs. They have councils who judge on marriage, divorce and property issues.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Khatri are mainly Hindu. They worship all the Hindu gods. They worship ancestors too. The Brahmin priests do the rituals that relate to births, marriages and deaths. The deceased are cremated and the ashes are immersed in a river with the River Ganges at Haridwar being the favorite one. There is a thirteen day pollution period. Young children are buried. Their main festivals are the same ones that are done by the other Hindus.
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