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Ghirth

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The Ghirth are a Hindu caste found in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India. They are also known as the Chaudhary.[1]

Contents

History and origin

The Ghirth are said to be of Rajput origin(Thakurs) , and the community is essentially agricultural. According to folk etymology, the word Ghirth is derived from the Hindi word ghee (clarified butter), as the god Shiva is said to have made them out of ghi.In Sanskrit the word for ghee is ghrith and thus over a period of time ghrith got corrupted to ghirath.present day community members are also called as choudhary They are concentrated in the Kangra region, as well as neighbouring Una and Hamirpur district.

They are considered earliest settler of kangra,jammu and nearby areas and hence many of them still have huge tracts of land and engage in agricultural pursuits.originally rajputs(ruling over the area)they were later on subjugated by the other clans of rajputs and agriculture became their main occupation.thus many scholars consider them as jatts[KANGRA] too.the fact more supported by the fact that during initial days of sikhism and almost as recent as 1900s they used to make the elder son as sikh warrior ,which was a common practice of jatts. They are tough people and large number of people are serving in defence forces.

The community has several large sub-division, the largest ones being the Kandal (kondal/kaundal/KOUNDAL), Bhardwaj, Rana, Dogra, Pathari, Chhabru, Reru, Badial, Chhora and Bhattu. Most of their subdivisions are named after the villages they reside or their occupations.[2] Their other clans include:

  • Dhare
  • Durngal
  • Ghora
  • Khunla
  • Surangiala
  • Mormar/Marmar
  • Jokhnu
  • Paniari
  • Masand
  • Lakria
  • Kahra
  • Khera
  • Banyanu
  • Dadda
  • Khunla
  • Ghurl
  • Khajuria
  • Naryalia

culture

The culture is very much similar to other communities of himachal.male members wear the sacred thread i.e. janewoo.Before wearing the sacred thread initiation is done which basically includes elaborate rituals and is cumbersome as well as costly affair.presently however owing to modern views,paucity of time,economic prudence and strict code of conduct associated with the thread it is usually worn only a day or two before the marriage ceremony , more like a formality because of sacred vows being null and void if the thread ceremony is not performed on the male child.Thus to complete formalities of sacred thread rituals are shortened ,for example,instead of full shaving of head only six-seven hair strands are cut

Ear piercing is another essential ritual for males.which also is for the reasons of sacred offerings to God being rejected if done by someone with unpierced ears,more importantly the rituals dealing with death of family members like mukhagni to funeral pyre (i.e. lightening the pyre) and pind-daan during shraddhs (yearly remembrance ritual for dead of family)

another peculiar feature is insistence on strict gotra system in marriage issues.although love marriages are common now but arranged marriages demand strict gotra system.The bride and groom should not share the same surname.even the surname of mothers,grandmothers of groom as well as of bride should not coincide.only after 3 generations can somebody marry in a gotra which is same as grandmother/greatgrandmother .some ultra orthodox ones even exclude marriage in families having surname same as of surnames of father's brother's wife ...due to the mother like status and respect given to the aunts.the probable reason could be the already small size and concentration of community in small area and thus to avoid dangers of within clan marriages like genetic diseases etc.

another praiseworthy practice is support for widow re-marriage.even the elder brother's widow if very young and with small kids ,with her consent and willingness can marry the husband's younger brother,or even some other eligible male of same community.the practice although needs consent of widow,her family,the new groom,his family. at some places in kangra district the marriage, if both the parties are widowed is known by namejhanjhrada.

this practice in olden times was criticised by some orhtodox elements of Brahmin and other rajput clans who prided themselves in treating women as sub-human.(the practice is also seen in some jatt clans of haryana and punjab )

Mostly they worship Hindu gods and goddesses. Jakh (a form of God Shiva) and nag (snake) are also worshipped. On ripening of grains a goat is sacrificed.

The Hindu law of inheritance is followed. The property is equally shared among children even if he/she is an adopted child.

Prominent Figures'

1. Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar

Women's position

the community treats women with great respect.the instances of female infanticide were negligible as people used to worship little girls as a form of Goddess.however the recent trend of misusing technology to kill babies is unfortunately catching up. females are given equal say in family matters.As the malpractice of dowry is not followed by most of himachali people thus the community also is free from it

Present circumstances

The Ghirth are essentially agricultural, found largely in the lower hills, leaving higher regions to the Brahmins and Rajputs.for the reasons of them being already in possession of these fertile lands on the lower hills since ancient times .In customs and manners, they are similar to the Kanet, another Hindu cultivating caste found in Himachal Pradesh.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab by H.A Rose pages 287 to 295 Low Price Publications
  2. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab by H.A Rose page 294 Low Price Publications
  3. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab by H.A Rose page 294 Low Price Publications
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