Rai Sikh

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—The Rai Sikh are a Sikh community found in the states of Haryana and Punjab in India.[1][2]

Origin

Rai Sikh are members of the Mahtam ethnic group who have converted to the Sikh faith. The term Mahtam is now used mainly for those members of this ethnic group who profess Hinduism and Islam. Historically, the majority of the Rai Sikh were found in territory that is now Pakistan, mainly in Sahiwal, and Multan districts, and the erstwhile Bahawalpur State. A small number were also found along the banks of the Sutlej in Jalandhar and Firozpur districts, as well the princely state of Kapurthala. In terms of distribution, the Rai Sikh are found mainly in over two hundred villages in Firozpur District, sixty villages in Kapurthala District, fifty villages in Jalandhar and Ludhiana districts.[3] In neighbouring Haryana, the Rai Sikh are now found in the districts of Karnal, Hissar and Kurukshetra. Almost of all these are refugees from Shaikhupura District in Pakistan.[4]

Sections of the Rai Sikh were declared a criminal tribe under the Criminal Tribes Act by the British colonial authorities in India. After independence, they were denotified in 1952, when the Criminal Tribes Act was replaced with the Habitual Offenders Act and on that basis members of the community have demanded that they be granted Scheduled Caste, which has been denied to them. However, the community has been granted Other Backward Classes status, that allows the benefit of some affirmative action schemes such as job quotas in the public sector. now they are a part of sikh communities and they also called "sikh-rajputs". They are found all across the Pakistan-India border . mainly they are living in north India and rajasthan.the government of India provide them shelter and land nearby border areas.

Present circumstances

The Rai Sikh are strictly endogamous, and practice clan exogamy. Their main clans are the Baksawan, Rai, Bawara, Rawari, Bhatti, Sanora, Bhichar, Sardia, Chuahan, Gogha, Saroya, Dandal, Seotra, Dilsari, Sarari, Dosa, Sauni, Toor, Jandi, Kachauri, Tonwar, Karanwal, Vanura, Katwal, Wachwala, Khokhar, War, Madha, Malhi, Mandal, Manha, Parbar, Warwal, kachura, sawna, Boock, tetru, and Panwar. Their customs and traditions are similar to neighbouring Sikh communities such as the Jatt Sikh, and they speak Punjabi. Basically they have a good knowledge of Urdu. In Haryana, the Rai Sikh continue to speak Punjabi which distinguishes them from their neighbours.[5]

Historically, the Rai Sikh were a community associated with rope making and the manufacture of a particular type of net used for snaring wild boar. Their settlements were found mainly along river banks, where the community harvested reed. However, with the partition of India, the Rai Sikh as refugees from Pakistan, were allocated lands of the departing Muslim peasants. The community are now mainly cultivators, with a steady immigration to towns and cities, where many have taken up blue and white collar jobs. Rope making has almost disappeared as an occupation, and is unheard of among the Haryana Rai Sikhs. A small number are also employed as agricultural labourers. Like other caste, the Rai Sikh have also set own their own caste association, the All India Rai Sikh Welfare Association (Registered), which deals with issues of community welfare as well as a pressure group.[6]

See also

References

  1. People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 367 to 372 Manohar
  2. People of India Hayana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 416 to 418 Manohar
  3. People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 367 to 372 Manohar
  4. People of India Hayana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 416 to 418 Manohar
  5. People of India Hayana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 416 to 418 Manohar
  6. People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 367 to 372 Manohar