Caste system in Himachal Pradesh

In our previous posts, we talked about Tribes of Himachal Pradesh and History of Himachal Pradesh.

In this post, i have made a humble attempt to compile the reliable information about the caste system of Himachal Pradesh with regard to the various competitive exams of HPPSC and HPSSSB. 

Caste system in Himachal Pradesh: 

Koli – Kolis are believed to have sprung from abandoned Kanets who volunteered to remove carcasses in the absence of Chamar when disease claimed the lives of large number of cattle. In the Shivalik Hills Kolis call themselves New Rajput or Kshatriya.

Chamar – Traditional leather workers are called Chamar. It is a widely spread community in the state of Himachal Pradesh. They worship ‘Sidh Chano’ as their community deity in the name of ‘Garha Devta’.  Chamars are known by various names as Mochi, Ramdasis and Ravidasi.

Chanal – The Chanals corresponds regarding their occupation, rituals and customs closely to the Hali of Chamba and Dagi and Koli of Kullu and Shimla. In district Kangra, Chanals are treated somewhat lower to the Kolis. Majority of this community work as agricultural labours for the Brahmins and Rajputs in lieu of a certain share of the produce.

Hali – The Hali means a person who earns his livelihood by hal (plough). Hali’s traditional occupations were to skin and tan dead animals, to remove carcasses, and to play music on marriages and other social and religious ceremonies.
Hesi – The Hesis are the traditional vagrant minstrels, who used to subsist by playing a Shehnai and beating Dholak or Tamborium, and singing wedding greetings and folk songs.

Sippi – Sippis are described as a ‘weaves of the Gaddi tribe’ and virtually same as Hali. They are mostly found in Bharmour, district Chamba.   

Rihara – According to Ibbeston, the Riharas appears to be closely allied to Dumna. In district Shimla they earn their livelihood by making Kirri (Kilta basket) and removing cow dung whereas the Riharas are primarily engaged in silver smithy and tin smithy.

Turi – Turis are the agriculturist but their main occupation is music and dancing. They are also known as ‘Dayal’ (in Chopal) or ‘Dhakis’ or ‘Bajgir’. Their main concentration is in trans- Giri tract of district Sirmaur and their commonly spoken language is Sirmauri.

Acharaj – The Acharaj or Charaj are the Brahmin who seeks offerings (dan) in the name of dead by performing death rites – Kriya-Karam for various Hindu communities.

Battarha – The Battarhas are occupationally stone – workers or dresser/breakers. They are commonly known as ‘Mistri’ or ‘Rajgir’ or ‘Raj’ or ‘Sangatrash’.

Sunar – Sunar is basically the jeweller of the village. He is also a money lender, taking ornaments in pawns and making cash advances upon them. Soni, Kapila, Jargar and Zargar are the synonyms of this community. Tank and Mair are the subgroups of Sunar community.    

Thathera – Thathera is the man who makes vessels of brass, copper and other mixed metals. The community is divided into different gotra/got viz. Mehta, Wadhvan, Uppal, Chadha, Varma and Anand.

Kumhars (Potters) – Kumhar is the man who makes earthen pots. These pots are used in the village to store the grains. Some of their got/gotras are Shandil, Kashab and Bharapdariye.  

Dumna – Dumna’s working material is bamboo. The Dumna are mostly found in Chamba, Kangra and Shimla Hills. They makes sieves (tokri), winnowing pans, fans, matting, baskets, grass rope,  string, furniture and other articles made of bamboo.

Ghirath – The Ghirath or Chowdhary come next to the Brahmins and Rajputs as a predominant Hindi community. They are mostly found in western part of Himachal Pradesh viz. Hamirpur, Kangra, Una and Bilaspur districts. The Ghirath is a local name and its origin from ghee reveals their traditional occupation of animal husbandry and farming. Although Ghiraths community claim their descent from Rajput or Kshatriya. The sub-division of Ghiraths is – namely Kaundal, Bhardwaj, Bhattlu, Badial, Pathari, Chhabru, Reru and Chhora.   

Lohar (Blacksmith) – The Lohar is one of the village menials, receiving customary dues in the form of a share of the produce, in return for which he makes and mends all the iron implements of agriculture. They write Devnagari script and speak local dialect of Pahari within and outside the community.

Brahmin – The Brahmin from one of the largest social group in India. The Brahmins have their ‘gotra’ associated with various Rishis of ancient times. They consider themselves descendents of seven Rishi ancestors, namely Jamdagni, Gautama, Bhardwaj, Attri, Agatsaya, Kashyapa and Vashista. The famous Brahmin gotras are – Sarswat, Gauda, Vatsya, Upamanyu, Attri, Shandilya, Garga, Prashar, Gautam, Vatsa, Sankhyayan, Vatsyayan, Upadhyaya, Awasthi Sukla, Pathak, Vashistha, Kaushal, Kashyap, Bhardwaj and so on.  

Rajput – The Rajput, one of the erstwhile principal warrior and ruling community of Himachal Pradesh, ‘”are said to be Brahmin by original stock”. The Rajputs are divided into six status groups, including Raja, Rajput, Mian and Thakur which include first grade and second grade Ranas and Rathis.

Mahajan – The Mahajan literally means “the great folk” are also known as Shah or Sahukar. The main castes in the Mahajan community are Khatri, Kayastha and Baniya.

Sood – Sood constitute of important group of the traditional traders and shopkeepers like the Bania, Khatri and Mahajan. Their clans are Butel, Gupta, Chimre, Bante, Bagle, Mahdudiye, Parkhoee, Chab, Kodel, Wahi, Kalander Baddhu, Baggha and Augarh.

See Also: Recommended Books for HAS/HPAS
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Author: Karun Bharmoria

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  1. Keep up the good work bro!!!

  2. sippy are not same as hali i , its mentioned wrong .sippy wear traditional sacred thread called "jehnau"sippy are next to gaddi, and bhatt brahmin in traditional gaddi hierarchy..

  3. can't search about dhogri caste in himanchal Pradesh plz search about our caste

  4. search about Tarkhan too

  5. Soods are khatris, decendents of aancient kshatriyas,sodha parmar clan who after the wrath of lord parshuram resorted to alternate jobs.Moved to sirhind on banks of beas in around 11 century after destruction of ancient city Mt.Abu.

  6. Hello sir
    Sir mje ek questions puchna h himachal pardesh me dogra surname jo h or kondal surname jo h wo konci caste m aate h please tell me sir

  7. Sir dogra or kondal surname konci caste se h please tell me

    1. Not Kolis. chaudhary girth

    2. Chaudhary mtbl jatt hote h kya dir

    3. Kaundal mtbl - chaudhary hote h kya .
      Or chaudhary mtbl jatt hote h kya

  8. Hi .. I want to know about Thakral cast. If one belongs from shimla from tatta pani place nd uses surname of Thakral so wat is his gautar? Basically wat is this thakral cast? Pls reply soon.

  9. Kolis were associated with works of irrigation as far as we know. You have classified them as carcass removers.Can u cite some references in favour of that fact?

  10. Here we see all chutiya himachalis worried about castes and gots. LOL Thats why you guys are left before the whole world. Grow up from your idiot mindset. This info is for educational purposes I believe. Does it make you more healthy, rich or powerful to know your caste?? lol

  11. I appreciate your work on history of himachal. Can you write about the two main cultural groups of himachal namely dogras who reside in lower hills like una, kangra, hamirpur, etc. and the people from upper himachal area like shimla, solan,etc.

    1. We will surely write about Dogra's in the upcoming days. Thanks for your valuable comment.

  12. Dhiman kon si cast m aaye?plz tell me


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