The Attar are a Muslim community found in the state of Maharashtra in India. This community has no connection with the Attarwala of Gujarat, except for the fact that both communities were at one time involved in the manufacture of ittars.
The community gets its name from the word ittar, which means a perfume in the Arabic language, They were historically a community of perfumers. According to their traditions, they were originally Hindu, who converted to Islam sometime between 1294 to 1674. The exact circumstances of their conversion to Islam remain unclear. They are now found mainly in western Maharashtra, particularly in the districts of Nasik, Pune, Ahmadnagar, Sholapur, Kolhapur, Dhulia and the city of Mumbai. Like most Maharashtra Muslims, they are bilingual, speaking both Marathi and the Dakhani dialect of Urdu.
The traces of Attar community also found in modern Pakistan occupied Punjab, Indian Punjab and Haryana. Historically, 'Attar' caste has its roots with «KHING»खिँग community, whose small center can be found in village Bhartan in Gurdaspur, District in Indian Punjab. Maharaj Chanan Shah, a follower of the Sufism was the head founder of the «KHING»खिँग community. There are many other last names apart from 'ATTAR' associated with this community. Mostly, now followers of sikhism.
Attars are basically small farmers with small land holdings. They belong to Jatt Clan in North India. Many families now settled in cities and have discarded farming. Some families have moved abroad and settled in USA, Canada and Europe.Freedom fighter Teja Singh prominent for 'Gurdaspur Conspiracy' Case against Britishers belonged to 'Attar' community.
In other parts of India 'Attar' are a landless community, and their livelihood depends on selling different products needed by Hindus. They have developed a patron client relationship with neighbouring Hindu communities, whom they have supplied these goods for centuries, such as incense sticks, dried coconuts, scents and oils.
The Attar have set up their own caste association, the Attar Council, which acts as a community welfare organization as well as a pressure group. They are Sunni Muslims, and now fairly orthodox. The community is endogamous, although there are few cases of intermarriage with the Momin, Pinjara and Tamboli. There is no concept of clan exogamy, and the community practices both parallel cousin and cross cousin marriages.
- People of India Maharshtra Volume XXX Part One edited by B.V Bhanu, B.R Bhatnagar, D.K Bose, V.S Kulkarni and J Sreenath pages 88-98 Popular Prakashan