Gaddis of Himachal

By: Jul 18th, 2015 12:30 am

Mast Ram Dalel       Cover Story

Gaddis of HimachalDominated by Gaddis Bharmour, earlier known as Brahmpur, is also known as Gadheran in lower areas of the state. Located 65 kilometers away from Chamba, Brahmpur principality got attention during 680-710 AD during Raja Meru Verma. According to information, first ruler of Brahmpur principality was Shiv Dass 1st B.C. If old literature is to be believed, gaddis had settled in Bharmour even before that period though there are many legends attached with arrival of gaddis here. The most famous is Ujarya Lahore, basya Bharmour’. Other legends say that Gaddis came to Bharmour from Rajasthan. They had chosen Bharmour as a safe place to escape religious conversion because this area is surrounded by high hills and invaders found it difficult to reach here. Brahmpur principality remained undefeated even during the time of mughal rulers. Not even one mughal ruler could attack this principality that was spread up to Kullu that had seat in Brahmpur. As a result, all residents of old Brahmpur and now Bharmour were called gaddis. With the changing time, lifestyle of gaddis too has witnessed changes as many of them migrated from Bharmour to lower areas. They have achieved high literacy percentage, entered business of cash crops, married foreign girls and are working at high posts at different places.

Gaddi Communities

Rajputs and Khatris are two major communities of gaddis followed by Brahmins. Gaddis also include Thakurs and Ranas besides Hali, Koli, Sippy, Bari, Dumna, Rehara, Lohar and others. Muslim Gaddis community is also settled in Allahabad, Aligarh, Merrut, Badayun, Bulandshehar, Sitapur, Lakhimpur and Bareilly areas of Uttar Pradesh. Gaddi people settled in Amabala and Karnal areas of Haryana are engaged in agricultural activities. Gaddis who migrated to Boondi, Bharatpur, Sawai and Madhopur areas of Rajasthan have converted to Muslims. Gaddis settled in Himachal and Delhi are Hindus. Gaddis living in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states migrated to Pakistan after partition in 1947. It is said that they converted during Sultan Mahmud Ghazni period and shifted to Pakistan during partition.

Tough, Nomadic Lifestyle

Gaddis of HimachalGaddis are considered to be the most hardworking tribe of Asia as they spend their life while living on high altitudes. Traditionally they wear woolen clothes. Their marriages are also solemnized like marriage of Shiva as they are true followers of Lord Shiva. Their entire life is spent while traversing hills and plains as they are associated with sheet and goat rearing. Nomadic in nature, they remain with their sheep and goat flocks all the time. Talang and Manimahesh Lake situated at a height of more than thirteen thousand feet are true examples of their lifestyle.

Devilry at High Altitudes

Gaddis use traditional herbs to treat patients at high altitude and they show dare devilry in passing high altitudes. Few years ago, all agencies had failed to retrieve the body of a foreigner trapped in high hills and it was ultimate to shepherd Shyam Lal to do the job who proved his skills on high hills.

Hydro Projects, Cash Crops Changed Lifestyle

Over the year, their lifestyle too has changed commensurate with today’s requirements. They are no more called ‘Gaddi Mitter Bhola’. Engaged in sheep and goat rearing, gaddis have also become businessmen as hydel power projects and cash crops have changed their mindset. As a result, they have also changed their lifestyle after 90s and their children are now studying in big cities. Gaddis who migrated from Bharmour to lower areas are working in government and private sectors and in other sectors like agriculture and trade.

Important Traditions

Gaddis of HimachalChola Dora and churidar pyjama are traditional attires of gaddi men and luanchari of women. A dupatta for women and a cap or pagri is must for men. Most of the community people don’t celebrate birthday. The community organises a dham on rasam pagri after death of a person in a family. Marriage ceremony continues for three-four days with men and women dancing. Approximately three male goats and 100 liquor bottles are served during a marriage ceremony with people offering obeisance to Shiva and Kali. People of the community observe fast only on Shivratri. Interestingly, male goat is sacrificed by holding religious offering during jatar with most of these functions being organised on Tuesday and Thursday.

Marriages with Foreigners

Many foreign girls have also married gaddi youths in the recent past especially at Naddi, Dharamkot and Bhagsu areas near Dharamshala. According to information, 16 gaddi youths have tied nuptial knots with foreigners. Interestingly, two foreign girls married in Dharamkot and Satowari have adopted gaddi culture fully.

Affluent Gaddis of Bharmour

Gaddis living in Bharmour have better economic prosperity than others. Nearly 40 small and big hydropower projects have changed their economic condition of influential people of the area. Youths have shifted to cash crops and apple whereas medicinal herbs of Bharmour valley also fetch remunerative prices in the market.

Nearly 6 lakh Population of Gaddis

Literacy Rate is More Than 90%

According to a book written by Engineer Rattan Chand Verma on ‘Chamba key Sansthapak veer Gaddi’, people of this community reside in the country and Pakistan also. It has been estimated that nearly 6 lakh gaddis reside in Himachal, including 4 lakh in Chmba, 1.75 lakh in kangra and rest in other districts.

Famous Gaddi Folk Songs

Like us, Gaddis sing folk songs and dance to entertain themselves. The folksongs are common in the Region. Folklores and folktales about the heroic deeds of their ancestors and about beauty of the women folk are also prevalent. There has been contribution for Gaddi folk songs by favourite singers Suresh Chauhan, Sunil Rana, Seema Rana, Swarchala Sharma and many others. Karnail Rana, the famous pahari singer also dedicated some of his songs to the community like ‘bheda teriyan ho…’

Some Famous Gaddi Songs

‘Bholeya Swamiya’, ‘Lal Chidiye’ ‘Ghar tere door’, ‘Chambe Diya Vo’, ‘Mereo Mandi Rio’, ‘Jali Jaandi’ Chanani Ri, ‘Thande Bharmoura’, ‘Jota Pur Liskua’, ‘Bane-Bane Bakre’, “Pal Bhar Baiyee Liyan,’ ‘Dhantaru ra Baja’, ‘Niru Chali’

Shining Faces of Community