The Rajputs are in a majority in Himachal. They are the descendants of
immigrant Rajputs who came here to establish small princely states or
who were driven to the hills by the Muslim invaders. The earlier inhabitants,
the Khasia (descendants of the Khasas) joined the Rajputs and adopted
some of their sub-castes. But a certain distance has always persisted
in their social relationship. Rajputs are mostly landed people and are
engaged in agriculture. They are also good soldiers. In relation to its
population Himachal has contributed the maximum number of Rajputs to the
Indian army. The Rajputs soldiers from Kangra and Hamispur areas are well
known for their qualities of bravery and loyalty. Kotoch, Bana, Pathaniya
and Baliriye are the main branches of the Rajputs in the area. The Kanait
Rajputs are considered a little below these and they have taken to farming.
The Brahmins, who were the priests of Rajputs are the
second largest group. Shrotriyas, the Dixit, the Nagas, the Panch Karmas
and the Padhes are some prominent Brahmin branches. They have more influence
in the lower hills than in the higher regions.
The Ghirats are next in number. They are the descendants
of Kirats according to some sources. But according to ethnographic evidence
they are of Indo-Aryan origin. They are farmers.
Mahajans and Soods, the business communities are sprinkled
all over. They wield great influence even though they are a small minority.
They have a shop in almost every village right up to the Tibetan border.
Traditionally they used to be the main exporters and importers of the
products in the state. Now co-operatives and corporations are taking up
Chahang, Saini etc are other castes where people are
professional farmers. The Ahirs own windmills and catch fish. The Darai
have settled along the river Beas. Their forefathers were boatmen. Lohar
(ironsmiths), Tarkhan (carpenter), Nai (barbers), Dusali, Doomna, Chamar
(cobblers) and Julahas (weavers) follow their paternal professions.
The educated in these castes are moving towards other
professions and also into farming. The caste system has weakened and there
is a greater intermingling among the people in the society. The untouchables
are being specially protected and helped by the government by special
acts. A few peasant families belong to the backward classes. All these
castes are divided into the categories of Kachha, Pakka, Nagar Kotiya