Major Ethnic Groups - J&K

Topics: Ladakh, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Pages: 13 (5081 words) Published: March 18, 2013
The history of peopling of Jammu and Kashmir State is a record of constant impulses of immigration from the north-west, west, south and east directions. The alien races, ethnic groups and various religions have influenced the cultural ethos and mode of life of the people of this region. Ethnic group, in the opinion of Jordon is a group of people possessing a common ancestry and cultural tradition with a feeling of belonging and cohesiveness, living as a minority in a larger society. Each social group is the keeper of distinctive cultural traditions and the nucleus of various kinds of social interactions. An ethnic group provides not only group identity, but also friendship, marriage patterns, business success, and the political power base. The mosaic of ethnic group in Jammu and Kashmir State is complex and the race structure cannot be explained without understanding the pre-historic movements of people. In the process of peopling of the region, the Dards in the northwest, the Ladakhis in the east, the Gujjars and Rajputs in the south and Paharis in the south-east have closely influenced the existing ethnicity of the people. The racial composition of the State was also influenced by the immigrants from the territories of Turkmenia, Tadzkistan, Uzbaikistan, Kazakistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan (U.S.S.R.) Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The various ethnic groups of the Jammu and Kashmir State though intermingled have their areas of high concentration. For example, Kashmiris are mainly concentrated in the Valley bottom; Dards occupy the valley of Gurez; Hanjis are confined to water bodies of Kashmir; Gujjars and Bakarwals are living and oscillating in the Kandi areas; Dogras occupy the outskirts of the Punjab plain, while Chibhalis and Paharis live between Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Moreover, there are numerous small ethnic groups like Rhotas, Gaddis and Sikhs which have significant concentration in isolated pockets of the State.

Kashmiris Kashmiris are well spread in various parts of the State but their major concentration lies in the Valley of Kashmir, Kishtwar, Bhadarwah, Doda and Ramban tehsils of the Jammu Division. 'Kashmiri' is a wide term which has loosely been applied for several streams of A Kashmiri woman carrying a immigrated mainly from Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and settled in the samavar of tea to the fields. valley. There is a close bearing of the Indo-Aryans on the racials composition of the Kashmiris. In fact, the Indo-Aryan religions and languages have substantially affected the mode of life of the Kashmiris. The influence of Sanskrit on Kashmiri language is strong and cogent to this day. Moreover, Kashmir has also received racial impulses from Indo-Greeks which have influenced the race structure of the people considerably. The influence of Dards, Ladakhis and Punjabis has also moulded the ethos of Kashmiri culture. Kashmiris are broad shouldered and usually of medium to tall stature. They are much dolichocephic, have a welldeveloped forehead, a long narrow face, regular features and a prominent straight and finely cut nose. They wear short pyjamas, a long loose large sleeved gown locally known as Pharan, and a skull cap. In intellect they are superior to their neighbours and efficient in business. In disposition they are talkative, cheerful and humerous. Most of the Kashmiris live in villages and are dependent on agriculture. Paddy, orchards, saffron are the main crops grown by them while the urban Kashmiris are engaged in business, tourism, hotel-management, carpet making, silk industry, shawl-making, wood work, pieper-mache and several other handicrafts.

Kashmiri Muslim women at work in a village of Kashmir. .

Dards Dards have a long history. Ptolemy in his book 'Almagast' has used the word Daradrai for Dards of the western Himalayas. Before embracing Islam, they were the followers of Budhism and Hinduism. At present their major concentration lies in Dardistan (Derdesa), the area...
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