Thursday, February 9, 2023
Jammu and Kashmir

The People

People of Jammu


Jammu province is inhabited by diverse castes and sects. The Dogras inhabiting the hilly tract bounding the mountains of the Kashmir valley on the south and extending to the plains of the Punjab, are descended

from Aryan stock. They speak the Dogri language - a mixture of Sanskrit, Punjabi and Persian - whose origin goes back to the Indo-Aryan branch of Sanskrit. Their staple food consists of rice, wheat, and pulses. Their dress is simple, a short coat or a flowing shirt with pyjamas at the knees and tight-fitting at the ankles. The men's turban on the head is generally complemented by a kamarband at the waist. With a shawl or dupatta thrown over the head, women put on tight-fitting bodice or jumpers over pyjamas which resemble those of the men folk.

The Dogra Rajputs, who have traditionally made the Army their profession are not big build, their average height being 5'4" (160 cm). The men's complexion is light brown, the women's lighter still.

The dishes are delicious, with abundant nutritional value. One of the dainties of Dogra dishes is auria, made from yoghurt and potatoes. Other Dogra specialities are ghiwar, a sort of bread fried in ghee; thothru, well-kneaded fermented balls cooked in dried wheat flour pieces, also fried in ghee.

Distinct and remarkable, Dogra cuisine complements the people's achievements as soldiers, painters and builders of temples and forts. Through the Basohli school and other paintings, Dogras have made a notable contribution to the development of painting in India. Basohli emerged as a great centre of painting early in the 18th century. Outstanding paintings of this school depict Krishna's frolics, scenes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata etc. Basohli paintings have been characterised as ' poems in colour ' for their extraordinary lyrical quality.

The Dogras are deeply attached to their land. Much of their folklore - myths and legends - relates to their shrines. Religion also contribute to the mass entertainment of the people in the form of Ras dances.

The Brahmins of the Jammu province are mainly engaged in agriculture. A minority among them comprise the priest class. The Chibbalis and the Sudans - the chief sects among the Muslim Rajputs - are also a martial race.

Khatris and Mahajans are of Punjab stock. They generally follow sedentary occupation like trade and commerce. Harijans constitute another large segment of population. They are agriculturists and pursue semi-skilled professions, including those of  cobblers and scavengers.

Strong muscled, virile, simple and truthful, the Paharis inhabit the hilly tracts of the 'middle mountains'. Theirs is a hard life, rearing sheep and cultivating the sparse available tracts of land on hilly, sloppy terraces for barley, wheat and maize. Many people of this area recruits to the Army. Their hospitality is exemplary. Their diet is simple and sparse - wheat bread with whey and lentils. Their language is a mixture of Dogri, Punjabi and Hindi. Generally dressed in grey woolens and loose pyjamas, they also flaunt a kamarband. Women wear long, loose tunics, close-fitting chudidars and dupatta or cap to complete their charming ensemble. The Kashmiris who have immigrated into this region have adopted the same dress and speak a mixture of Pahari and Kashmiri dialects.

The physical features of a Kishtwari are unmistakably those of an Indian-dark complexion , thick protruding lips and broad noses, akin to Dravidians. They are of short stature, simple and unsophisticated but are very hardy. They are sure-footed mountaineers. Guileless and credulous, they are superstitious. Witchcraft prevails among some of them. The people speak the Kishtwari dialect, which is a mixture of Dogri and Kashmiri.