|Regions with significant populations|
|• Pakistan • India • Nepal•|
|• Urdu • Khari Boli • Awadhi|
|• Islam 100% •|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Muslim Gujjar • Gujjar • Ahir • Muslim Gaddi|
The Ghosi (Urdu: غوثی, Hindi: ग़ोसी) are a Muslim community found mainly in North India. The meaning of Ghosi (Sanskrit ghosa, root ghush) is "to shout" as he herds his cattle. They are associated with the occupation cattle rearing and the selling of milk. According to ethnographies written by British civil servants such as H.A. Rose and Denzil Ibbetson, the Ghosi are Hindu Ahirs converted to Islam. Also Crook remarks that most of the Ghosi's are Ahirs who were converted to Islam and are said to rank below ordinary Ahirs. Edward Albert Gait stats that Ghosi and Gaddi are branches of Mohammadan Ahirs are chiefly occupied in pasturing cattle. A small number of Ghosi are also found in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
History and origin
Different groups within the Ghosi community have different origin myths. The Rajasthan Ghosi claim to have originally been Gujjars, who converted to Islam, however British historian William Crooke has mentioned that Ghosi's of the east (Bihar) and eastern Uttar Pradesh are Gujjars, while Ghosis of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar claim descent from the Ahir community, and indeed are known as Muslim Ahirs.
The Ghosi in West Bengal claim Rathore Rajput ancestry. Traditionally, the Ghosi were a cattle rearing community, involved in the selling of milk and milk products such as ghee. One of their origin myth relates to a legend, where they were once invited by disciple of a saint to rescue him from a rajah's tyranny. This they did, only armed with sticks and clubs, and as their reward the saint gave them a gown to wear. The gown was known as a ghosi, and community got their name from this gown.
In Uttar Pradesh, they have the following sub-divisions, Thena, Chauhan, Dogar, Chikange and Bam. These sub-divisions are known as shijras, and the Ghosi prefer to marry within the shijra. Consanguineous marriages are now starting to take place. They use the surname Khan, which also used by other pastoral or agricultural Muslim communities of North India. The community is landless, and their main economic activity is the rearing of the cow or buffalo, and selling milk. Many now are employed as labourers as well. They are found throughout North India, and in Uttar Pradesh are concenterated in the districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, Sultanpur, Meerut, Bahraich, Gonda and Kheri. They speak Urdu and various local dialects of Hindi, in particular Awadhi.
The Ghosi have a traditional caste council or panchayat, which is headed by a chaudhary. Each major Ghosi settlement has a panchayat, whose main function is to resolve disputes within the community and maintain group identity .The community are Muslims of the Sunni sect. [The All India Muslim Ghosi Association is their nation association, which established in 1979 in Baswari, Allahabad.Wali Ullah Engineer is national president].
The Ghosi of Rajasthan claim to be of Gujjar origin. They keep large herds of cows and buffaloes and sell the milk. In Jhunjhunu and Jaipur districts, they are known as Ghosi, while in Churu, Jodhpur and Sikar districts, they are known as Gujar Ghosi. A good many Ghosi are also cultivators, and many are now landless agricultural labourers. The community are divided into a number of clans, known as gotras, the main ones being the Tinna, Khaleri, Moel, Balhud, Tatar, Bhati and Chauhan. They practice clan exogamy, while maintaining strict endogamy. All the Ghosi clans intermarry and are of equal status. The Ghosi are Sunni Muslims and speak the Shaikhawati dialect of Rajasthani.
The Ghosi of West Bengal are found mainly in the districts of 24 Parganas and Midnapore, in particular near the towns of Barrackpur and Kharagpur . According to the traditions of this community, they emigrated from Kanpur, in what is now Uttar Pradesh some five centuries ago. They claim to be descended from Amar Singh Rathore, a Rajput nobleman from Jhansi, on whose conversion to Islam was disowned by his caste. The community thus took up the occupation of cattle rearing, and settled in Midnapur.
The community is now divided between into those who still engage in the selling of milk, and the rest of the community who are now small and medium sized farmers. They reside in multi-caste villages, which tend to have ghosiparas, "Ghosi areas". The community now speak Bengali, although most have knowledge of Hindi. They remain strictly endogamous, and are unique among Bengali Muslims in practising clan exogamy. Their main clans are the Rathore, Dogar, Chauhan, Khelari, Tatar, Lehar and Maidul. The Ghosi of West Bengal have an informal caste council, known as a panchayat, which acts as an institution of social control, resolving disputes within the community, and providing social welfare.
- Kumar Suresh Singh; Amir Hasan; Baqr Raza Rizvi; J. C. Das, Anthropological Survey of India (2005). People of India: Uttar Pradesh. Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 542–545. ISBN 978-81-7304-114-3. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- William Crooke (1896). The tribes and castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh. Office of the superintendent of government printing. pp. 419–. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- H.A. Rose; IBBETSON; Maclagan (1 December 1996). Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province. Asian Educational Services. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-81-206-0505-3. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- H.A. Rose (1 January 1997). A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province: A.-K.. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-81-85297-69-9. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Francis Bradley Bradley-Birt (1903). Chota Nagpore, a little-known province of the empire. Smith, Elder, & co. pp. 1–. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
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- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part two by K S Singh page 541 Manohar Publications
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- Marginal Muslim Communities in India edited by M.K.A Siddiqui pages 295-305
- Verma, V. 1996. Gaddis of Dhauladhar: A Transhumant Tribe of the Himalayas. Indus Publishing Company, New Delhi.