Introduction / History
Gujjars (also known as Gurjars) entered India along with White Huns in 5th century A.D. from central Asia. Some of their clan names such as Hun, Aftali, etc. indicate that they were a part of the Hun tribe. They established their rule in present day Rajasthan by the name Gurjaratra in the 7th century A.D. Mihr Bhoja became their great emperor, who expanded the Gujjar ruled area to almost the entire northwestern part of India.There are several places in India and Pakistan named after their caste name as well as their different clans names such as Gujarat, Gujjaranwala, Gujjarkhan, Gujargarh, Gujarpur, Basigujjaran, Chachian, Khatanian, Kharian, Hunwara and many others. Three states ruled by Gujjar kings were even present at the time of Independence Day of India in 1947, which got emerged into India along with other states later on.
Where Are they Located?
Today they are found living in almost all the northwestern Indian states such as Rajasthan, Madhyapradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttaranchal Pradesh. They also live in large numbers in Pakistan's West Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Sindh and Azad Kashmir and also in Eastern Afghanistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
In Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal areas, Gujjars are mostly pastoral nomads, having no villages or other permanent settlements. They roam behind their herds of cattle on carts and horses and make their temporary settlements under tents in forest areas. They move to high altitude hills in summer while came back to pastoral grounds of lowlands in winter. In Haryana and Rajasthan and Gujarat a very small section of Gujjars is semi nomadic while the rest of them in these areas and other areas are well settled people participating in animal husbandry and agriculture. Gujjars of some areas are also viewed by other people as a community of criminals such as cattle thieves, horse thieves and looters. However, this is a misconception. Some of them are very well-to-do and rich landlords. Generally Gujjars are tall, strong and sturdy people with fair skin color and sharp features. They are considered wrestlers from birth in some areas while their other favorite sport is to lift huge, heavy stones. They are also good horse riders.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Gujjars are mostly Hindus in India, though in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh they are mostly Sunni Muslims. Muslim Gujjars are also present in Uttaranchal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in small numbers while in East Punjab they are Sikhs too. The nomadic Gujjars are almost all Sunni Muslims. Gujjars believe in their customary laws regarding their social life amongst themselves.
What Are Their Needs?
They need education and to shun their out dated rituals such as child marriages etc. They need to be uplifted from their backwardness by incorporating policies such as of reservation for them in jobs and by teaching them the latest techniques in animal husbandry and agriculture. Efforts should be made to inspire them to leave their pastoral nomadic life by lending them material support they require.
* Scripture Prayers for the Gujjar (Muslim traditions) in India.