(Last Updated on : 14/01/2010)
One of the endogamous sections of the Gujjar community
is the Muslim Gujjars in India. A Muslim Gurjar male is generally recognized by his typical beard and dress. The Gurjar men generally wear a specially embroidered conical headgear called Gurjari, Jawaharcut coloured embroidered jacket, a loose kurta and a tamba, while the Muslim Gujjar women wear chooridar pyjama and loose kurta. Mostly Muslim Gurjars are non-vegetarian, but they consume mutton occasionally and on important occasions. Their staple diet consists of maize chappati, pulses and leafy vegetables. Their cooking media are mustard oil. Various preparations of milk products also form part of their daily diet, which are their home products. They also consume non-alcoholic beverages like salted tea. Special dishes of marriages and other auspicious occasions are cooked.
There are basically two groups in Muslim Gujjar community and these are Bhatariye and Bhanariye. These groups do not intermarry. They are further segmented into exogamous gotras, such as Bhatti, Chandel, Chauhan, Banja, Lodha, Kasana, Bhensi, Chopra, Chij Khatana, Padha, which indicate their Rajput clans. Marriages in Muslim Gurjars are performed nowadays in adulthood by negotiation. A distinctive feature of their marriage is that consanguineous marriages take place. A boy can marry his cousin, either on the father's or mother's side. The marriage is actually a set of elaborate ceremonies however; the actual marriage function takes place at the bride's place by 'nikah'. In Muslim Gujjar community, the family is mostly of the vertically extended type, but occasionally nuclear families also come up on account of bickering in the family. There is a feeling of mutual love and respect in the family. The eldest male member of the family is the head of the family matters. The inheritance of property is from father to sons.
In the Muslim Gujjar community of India, the women play a considerable role in the economic activity of their pastoral economy. She is also responsible for controlling the family expenditure. The dead are buried in this community and the mourning lasts for three days. Congregational prayers are held on Friday following the day of demise at a graveyard. Rituals connected with the dead are also observed religiously. Moreover, offerings are made on the grave of the departed soul on each death anniversary. The Muslim Gujjars continue their traditional occupation of selling of milk and milk products to their clients. Women of this community are skilled in embroidery with coloured thread on caps and Jawahar jackets. They also decorate the walls of the house by making floral and animal designs.
As a majority of the members of the Muslim Gujjar community are pastoral, they do not have patron-client, landlord-tenant and cultivator- labour relationship, but such of them who are now leading a sedentary life have started developing these relationship. Sufficient effort has been made by the Government of India
to rehabilitate the Muslim Gujjars communities by providing facilities of electricity, water, school, medicine and health are available. Education is viewed by them partly favourable. Both the boys and girls are sent for education, yet they study only up to the secondary and primary level, after which they dropout for economic and social reasons. They make moderate use of traditional and modern system of moderate but are not in favour of family welfare programmes.
Drinking water is available through streams, springs and taps. Because of lack of awareness and literacy some are unable to procure loans under the Integrated Rural Department Programmes or from banks. However, a majority of the members of the Muslim Gujjar community are self employed in agriculture. Roads and other communication media are available in the urban peripheries and they avail themselves of communication and mass media facilities.