GADDI'S OF BHARMOUR
The word Gaddi means ‘seat’ and since Bharmour
was the seat of the emperor of Chamba, all the people of the
Gadheran called themselves Gaddies. The "Gaddi"
are a tribe living mainly in the Indian states of Himachal
Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir. The Gaddies are Hindus and belong
to several castes including Brahmin, Rajputs, Dhangar, Khatri,
Rana and Thakur. Gaddies are widely respected for their honesty,
friendliness and peaceful lifestyle. They have great faith
in Gods and Goddesses especially Lord Shiva. The language
spoken within the tribe is Gaddi.
Old people used the Taakri script. Crime is almost unknown
in Gaddi villages. Gaddi is a generic term used for all of
the indigenous population of the Bharmour area of Chamba district
and some regions of Jammu and Kashmir. The Gaddis include
the Savarnas such as Brahman, Rajputs, Khatri, Thakur Rathi
and the non–Savarnas like Hali, Rihare and Dom. Although
all are categorized as scheduled tribe by virtue of their
living in a scheduled area, the non-Savarnas are also included
separately as scheduled caste.
Traditionally domiciled on both sides of the Dhauladhar
Range in Himachal Pradesh. They reside mostly in the Bharmour
region of Chamba District, in the upper reaches of the Ravi
River and the valleys of the Budhil River. They are also found
in the Kangra district, particularly in the villages like
Palampur, Draman, Nurpur, Shahpur and Dharmashala. The Gaddis
are not fully nomadic, since they have homes in villages;
Gaddies are shepherd and generally travel with their flocks
to higher reaches in the summer and lower areas in winter.
Mainly they travel Lauhal & Spiti in summer, Kangra and
other lower district of Himachal even in Punjab in winter
with their folks. Over a period of time they have settled
down and practice agriculture. Horticulture in the area has
been quite successful in the recent years. Red Royal Apple,
golden apple and Chestnut grown in the area is one of the
best varieties in the world.
HISTORY OF GADDIES
In regard to the history of Gaddies as per their own traditions,
the Gaddis descended from migrants who fled the plains of
India for the relative security of the hills during times
of trouble. It is thought that the Chauhans Rajputs Gaddies
and Brahman Gaddies emigrated to Bharmour from Rajasthan.
Most of the other castes of Gaddis are thought to be descended
from people who fled to the hills to escape from the Mughal
emperor Aurangzeb's persecutions in the 17th century. The
history confirms that Gaddi Rajputs migrated from Lahore (Pakistan)
to this place in order to avoid religious persecution. One
of the most dominant Rajputs 'Lalhal’ migrated from
a city named Lalhal near Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) during
the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Presently the bulk of the population lives in Bharmour of
Chamba district, but a scattered population of this tribe
is also found in the adjoining districts of Kangra and Mandi
of Himachal Pradesh even in Jammu and Kashmir. The community
occupies the inaccessible, inhospitable terrain in between
the Pir-Panjal and Dhauladhar range, between Ravi and Chenab
valley. It is a high altitude area and remains cut off most
of the time because of heavy snowfall. The language spoken
within the community is Bharmouri Gaddi. Taakri was the script
used by the ancestors. The Gaddi man is identified by typical
dress which consists of a chola, Dora and white turban (Saffa).
The majority of the Gaddies are landowners and practice
agriculture and horticulture as their primary means of livelihood.
They are also pastorals and own large flocks of sheep and
goats, as a subsidiary occupation. This has also resulted
in their bartandari (customary) rights on forest land which
are government owned. Today, many of them have also taken
up many high ranking jobs in government and private organizations
and other white collar jobs. Most of Gaddi shepherd spent
their whole life with their flock. They travel with their
flocks to high riches of Himalaya, generally the goes to Lauhal
valley in summer through Chobia, Kalicho and Kugti Passes
and in winter they goes to Kangra valley, Una and even in
The majority of Gaddies are landowner, the wheat and maize
are main grains and mah and rajmah are main pulses of Bharmour.
Gaddies also practice in horticulture and developed world
famous variety of red royal and golden delicious apple, chestnut
and almond trees.
The majority of community is non-vegetarian and they mostly
eat the meat of sheep, chickens Families, who keep poultry,
also eat their eggs. The staple food of Gaddis consists of
cakes of maize and wheat with mah and rajmah. They also make
moderate use of vegetables, including roots and tubers, and
fruits. Mustard oil is the usual cooking medium. People are
very fond of sur which is taken on religious functions. Their
special dish madra along with a sweet preparation is a must
on all social and festive occasions. Gaddi stock their eatables
and fire woods in the month of October for winter session.
FAIR AND FESTIVALES
The Gaddi community celebrates all the national festivals.
But they also celebrate local festive like Manimahesh Jatra,
lohri, Bhaishaki, Patrodu, Dolru, etc. Manimahesh fair is
best occasion to see and study the custom and rituals of Gaddies.