Shafiq R Khan


Tribes of Himachal Pradesh

In the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh, there is a handful of tribal communities who have resided in every hook and corner of the region. Due to this reason, very naturally, the famous anthropologists of the Indian subcontinent have thronged the state in order to study various aspects of the life style and tradition of the tribes of Himachal Pradesh. Just like any other tribal communities of the Indian subcontinent, these tribes of Himachal Pradesh too have showed the cultural exuberance. Dancing, musical melodies, festivals, fairs etc bore evidence to it.

By nature, these tribes of Himachal Pradesh too are extremely social and love to make friends with other tribal communities. Majority of these tribes of Himachal Pradesh state belong to the famous Indo - Aryan family group. As far as the physical appearances are concerned, these tribes of Himachal Pradesh also have got identifiable features of that of an Indo - Aryan or Mongoloid.

Kinnaura Tribe As far as the occupations are concerned, these tribes of Himachal Pradesh have taken up the occupations including rearing of cattle and also raising of wool. There are quite a handful of tribes of Himachal Pradseh who have adapted to occupations like cultivation and also horticulture.

Dresses that these tribes of Himachal Pradesh wear also are quite exquisite to look at. The male dresses include long coat and woolen pyjama, and also the women tribes of Himachal Pradesh have a woolen sari, popularly known as Dhoru as their attires. Shoes that are made up of wool and goat hair protect their feet.

Although these tribes of Himachal Pradesh fete all the important festivals , these tribes of Himachal Pradseh also have added fervor to the festive season by incorporating their own traditional customs and beliefs

Here is the list of the tribes of the Himachal Pradesh :

GUJJAR : - Gujjar TribeIn the heartland of Himachal Pradesh, a multitude of tribal communities have settled down over the years. Amongst them, the Gujjar tribal community has been held in high esteem. Some people even identify this Gujjar tribal community in different names like Gurjara, Gujar, Goojar. According to the anthropological evidences, theses Gujjar tribes has been regarded as one of the Scheduled tribes of the Indian subcontinent with their major concentration in the north western provinces of the Himachal Pradesh. As per the Census report of Indian subcontinent of the year 1931, the total population of the Gujjar tribal community has been enumerated to be 2,038,692 in the panorama of the entire world.

Gujjar Tribe of Himachal PradeshThe origin of these Gujjar tribes also is quite interesting. However, there are various opinions that had been cited by eminent anthropologists of the Indian subcontinent. According to some , during the time of Hun invasions, these Gujjar tribes came down to the northern part of India, including the Himachal region.

The famous scholar V. A. Smith, claimed that the Gujjar tribes were foreign migrants, perhaps belongs to the group:a branch of Hephthalites , better known as "White Huns". Also D. B. Bhandarkar (1875-1950) assumed that Gujar tribes migrated to India along with the Huna tribes.

Another school of thought have assumed that these Gujjar tribes of Himachal Pradesh are the descendants from the nomadic Khazar tribes. Also the term "Gujjar" is a derivation of the "Khazar". Interestingly, the Indo-Aryan languages are devoid of the use of the sounds "kh" and "z", which got converted respectively into "g" and "j". To top it all, the `Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency`, the British official James M. Campbell also distinguished Gujjar tribes with Khazar tribes. The relation of these Gujjar tribal community has also been established with other tribal communities, namely, Chechen tribes etc.

Cultural exuberance of these Gujjar tribal communities has nicely being depicted in several of its aspects like dancing, religious rites and customs etc. These Gujjar tribal community have got inclination towards religion. Quite a handful of these Gujjar tribes have been converted to Hinduism and also Islam . Only few Gujjar tribal members are there who have adapted to other religions as well.

In order to carry on conversation, these Gujjar tribal community use the beautiful language of Gujari , also called Gojri. This Gujari language belongs to the famous Rajasthani language group. In the ancient times , however, Rajasthani had been the main language spoken by all the Gujjar tribal community. In the present day , due to rapid interaction with the people of the modern community , many members of this Gujjar tribal community also have developed fluency in several other Indian languages. These are namely Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Pahari languages (such as Dogri and Kangri), Pashto Language, Dardic languages (such as Kashmiri and Khowar), and Balti.

Nomadic Gujjar TribeFolllowing the tradition of most of the tribal communities of the Northern hilly regions of Indian Territory, this Gujjar tribal community has adapted the occupation of semi nomadic tribal community. Majority of this Gujar tribal community used to herd animals like sheep, goats and buffalo. In some way the Gujjar tribes even cope to manage even an `old rag elegant`.

These Gujjar tribes transmigrate from the lowland plains in the winter to the upper ranges of the Himachal Pradesh during the summer season. However to go hand in hand with the demands of the changing situations , many of the Gujar tribes of the contemporary period have taken various other occupations. Instances are found where these Gujjar tribes even would serve themselves out as `porters` or pony men for the tourists who got for trekking in the Himachal Mountains.

Dresses of these Gujjar tribal community are quite exquisite . Both Gujjar males and females have got distinctive style of wearing dresses . The colorful turban with the unique style of wrapping has been a style mark of this Gujjar tribal community. The aged Gujjar males tie an Afghani hat, locally known as topi.

Gujjar Tribal LadyHowever , a Gujjar female`s beautify is greatly enhanced by the beautiful clothes called Dupatta . It looks like a shawl . Also these Gujar tribal females are very fond of the jewelries. These Gujjar females have got fascination for the necklace with a triangle pendant , studded with a beautiful stone in the center of it . It has a religious signification. It symbolizes "evil eye" and mainly utilized to avert bad luck.

There is a peculiarity in the way the Gujjar children used to dress up. Many a time the Gujjar boys are arrived at resembling little girls to fool the evil spirits.

The societal structure too follows the trend of almost all the tribal communities of the Indian subcontinent. Patriarchal norms are prevalent. Gujjar males also are very much family oriented. It is the Gujjar tribal female who has had the duty and responsibility of fulfilling all the activities of the households.

Festivals and fairs are also part and parcel of the life of this Gujjar tribal community. Apart from celebrating all the festivals of the national significance, these Gujjar tribes too have incorporated their religious beliefs and customs. Id is one of the main festivals of the Gujjar tribal society, which they fete, in great festivity and enthusiasm.

Gaddi Tribe, ChambaThe concentration of these Gaddis tribes is mainly found on both sides of the Dhauladhar Range of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Quite a number of Gaddi tribes who also dwell mainly in the Brahmaur region of Chamba District, in the higher regions of the Ravi River and also the valleys of the Budhil river. Other regions include Kangra district, chiefly in the villages of the Khaniyara, Tota Rani, near Dharamsala.

As per the records of the anthropologists, the origin of these Gaddi tribes has got a rich history behind it. In fact about their origination, popular myths are quite popular in whole of the state of the Himachal Pradesh. It has been assumed that the Gaddi tribes came down from emigrants who had taken refuge in the plain lands of Indian territory. These Gaddi tribes chose these regions for the comparative security of the hills during critical times.

Gaddi Tribe - KangraThere is also another famous legend . According to this Gaddi tribal community, it is thought that various castes of the Gaddi tribal community have been transmigrated at different times . For instance, in the ancient times , say around, 850-70 CE, the Brahman Gaddi tribes migrated to Chamba, their present home. Majority of the other castes of Gaddi tribal community have descended to the mountain ranges to run away from the threats of the famous Mughal emperor, namely, Aurangzeb at the time of seventeenth century CE.

If one dissects the whole of the Gaddi tribal society, one can find that there are several castes that are present here. These include Brahmin, Rajput, Dhangar, Khatri, Rana and Thakur. Just like majority of the tribal communities of the Indian Territory, these Gaddi tribes too are oriented towards religion as well as spiritualism. Both the religions of Hinduism Gaddi Tribal Customsand also Islam are being practiced by a large section of the Gaddi tribal community.

The Indian anthropologist has duly highlighted another aspect; by nature, these Gaddi tribes are largely esteemed for their honesty, friendly disposition and peaceable life-style. Crime is almost obscure in almost all the villages of the Gaddi tribal community.

In order to meet the requirements of day to day living, these Gaddi tribes have taken up diverse occupational activities. Since these Gaddi tribes have built their settlements in the villages, they are not considered to be nomads. However, seasonal movement of sheep and goats to higher or lower pasture is a conventional practice. In general, these Gaddi tribes go with their livestock to several pastures of the upper regions of the state at the time of summer season.

As far as the languages are concerned, majority of this Gaddi tribal community converse with each other in the beautiful language of the same name. For writing, however, this Gaddi tribal community uses Takri language. However, the language had gone into oblivion only few years back. Devangiri script is in vogue. Also under the impact of the modern day culture , these Gaddi tribes also speak Hindi language quite fluently.


Kinnaura Tribe,Himachal PradeshQuite a handful of tribal communities have settled down in large numbers in several provinces of Himachal Pradseh. Amongst them , the tribal community of Kinnaura has drawn the attention of almost all the anthropologists of the Indian subcontinent. There are some people of Indian subcontinent who call Kinnaura tribal community in another name. It is Kinor. Not only that, as per the provision of the Constitution of India , these Kinnaura tribal community has been considered to be one of the Scheduled tribes of the state of Himachal Pradseh.

Numerous surveys have been conducted in the region in order to know the exact location of the settlement of this Kinnaura tribal community. In the western Himalayas, this Kinnaura tribal community is found in Baspa/Sangla valley that is located in high altitude of the Kinnaur district. Other regions where these Kinnaura tribes are located include Batseri/Bosering, Rakchham and Chhitkul.

Kinnauri FestivalNo tribal community is considered to be enriched unless there has been exuberance in the culture and tradition of that society. In that regard , it can be rightly said that this Kinnaura tribal community is ennobled as depicted in all the elements . Dancing , singing , festivals and languages - all these bore witnesses of it.

This Kinnaura tribal community has got physical stature that has got resemblance to the race of the Mongoloid. This obviously establishes the fact these Kinnaura tribal community too have been descended from the Indo- Aryan tribal groups, also called Mongolians.

In order to sustain their livelihood, this Kinnaura tribal community has developed expertise in speaking the beautiful dialect of the Kinnauri. Under the influence of the tribal communities of Indian subcontinent, this Kinnaura tribal community have developed fluency in other languages like Hindi . Amongst these Kinnaura tribal community , there are Bhoti speakers also.

Kinnauri Tribal WomenAs far as the occupations of this Kinnaura tribal community are concerned, they following the tradition of most of the tribes of the Indian Territory, have taken up the profession of cattle rearing. In fact these Kinnaura tribes have the tradition of maintaining herds of cattle in their houses. Quite a few also practices cultivation. What is really interesting is to note the status of the women of this Kinnaura tribal community. Women of this Kinnaura tribal community are quite hardworking. Especially females of the Kinnaura tribal community practice weaving. This Kinnaura tribal community produces exquisite baskets and other utensils, which have got demand not only on the local markets but also in the entire nation.

As has been evidently pointed out by the anthropologists of India, this Kinnaura tribal community has less orientation towards education and learning. However, due to the initiatives of lot many NGOs and other social welfare organizations in the recent times, many of the Kinnaura tribal communities have showed interests to academics, Festivals , are also an integral part of the Kinnaura tribal community.

Lahaula Tribe, Himachal PradeshThe beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh houses a multitude of tribal communities. No wonder , amongst them , the name of the Lahaula tribal community deserve special mentioning. Infact this Lahaula tribal community has been bestowed upon the status and prestige of being one of the Scheduled tribes of the state. Mostly this Lahaula tribal community is found in several regions like Lahul Valley, Pattan, Chamba-Lahul, and lower Mayar valleys.

As far as the languages are concerned, these Lahaula tribal community converse with each other in the language of Pattani. In fact there are alternative names of this language, which are popular amongst the Lahaula tribal community. Manchati, Manchad, Patni, Chamba, Chamba Lahuli, Lahuli, Swangla, Changsapa Boli are some of them. Apart from these, there are certain dialects of this language, which are also prevalent in this Lahaula tribal community.

Just like many other tribal communities of the whole of the Indian subcontinent, this Lahaula tribal community too is oriented to religious customs and beliefs. Hinduism is the chief language that is prevalent in the whole of the Lahaula tribal community. That the culture and the tradition of this Lahaula tribal community is quite exquisite is revealed from the fact that it has a plethora of dance forms , music , fairs and festival.
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