Gujjars are mainly found in the Indo-Gangetic plains and Himalayan Regions. Presently they are settled in Rajasthan and other parts of North India. Their languages include Gujari, Urdu language, Hindi language, Punjabi language, Pasto, Pahari, Kutchi, Gujarati language, Khowar, Balti, Kashmiri language, etc.
History of Gujjar Community
Many Gujjars claimed to be the descendent of Suryavanshi Kshatriyas. According to one view, the Gujjars are identified with the Kushans, Yuchi or Tochari, a tribe of eastern Tartars. About a century before Christ, their chief conquered Kabul and the country around Peshawar. Later his son, Wima Kadphises, extended his sway over whole of the upper Punjab and along the banks of the Yamuna and as far as Mathura and the Vindhyas. His successor, Kanishka, the first Buddhist Kushana Indo-Scythian ruler, annexed Kashmir to the kingdom of the Tochari.
An ancient kingdom, named ‘Gujjara’, existed to the east of the lower Indus for at least 4 centuries from 400 AD to 800 AD. The Gujjars are the only people whose tribal names seem to offer a clue to their descent from the Kushanas. In the late 19th century, they were found in great numbers in every part of the north-west of India, from the Indus to the Ganga and from the Hazara mountains to the peninsula of Gujarat. They have also spread to the riparian lowlands of the Yamuna River in considerable numbers.
Religion of Gujjar Community
Gujjars are largely Muslims, some of whom have retained certain Hindu observances. Hindu Gujjars are found in pockets but they are relatively a minority. There is a view that the cult of the Lord Krishna, who loved milk and butter, may have originated with the Gujjars who were a pastoral people dealing in milk and milk products. This cult is evident among the traditions of the Ahirs, certain groups of whom (Nandbansi and Gualbansi) appear to be of Gujjar origin.
In certain parts, Gujjars date their conversion to Islam from Hinduism to the time of Aurangzeb. Eid is one of the main festivals of the Muslim Gujjar society, which they fete, in great festivity and enthusiasm. They also observe Hindu rites and on the birth of a son the women make an idol of cow dung of Govardhan and worship it.
Society of Gujjar Community
They have a close-knit social structure where early marriages of girls are accepted. Throughout the hill country of Jammu, Chibhal and Hazara and in the territory lying to the north of Peshawar, the Gujjar herdsmen are found in great numbers. Here they are a purely pastoral and nomadic group. This community practices transmigration, takes their herds up to the higher ranges in summer and descends to the valleys in the cold weather.
Profession of Gujjar Community
Conventionally, the Gujjars have been cattle breeders and milkmen. They were usually associated with herdsmen and shepherds and were a pastoral people. A large number of Gujjars have now settled down and taken to farming and combine agricultural work with animal husbandry.