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Banjara woman in traditional dress
Total population
ca. 5.6 million
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh 2.2 million
Karnataka 1.1 million
Maharashtra 0.9 million
Madhya Pradesh 0.4 million
Rajasthan 0.3 million
Lambadi, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Marathi, Gormati
Related ethnic groups
other Hindustani populations

The Banjara, also called Lamani are a class of usually described as nomadic people from the Indian state of Rajasthan, North-West Gujarat, and Western Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,Maharastra and Eastern Sindh province of Pakistan. They claim to belong to the clan of Agnivanshi Rajputs, and are also known as Lakha Banjara means Lakhapati, Banjari, Pindari, Bangala, Banjori, Banjuri, Brinjari, Lamani, Lamadi, Lambani, Labhani, Lambara, Lavani, Lemadi, Lumadale, Labhani Muka, Goola, Gurmarti,dhadi, Gormati, Kora, Sugali, Sukali, Tanda, Vanjari, Vanzara, and Wanji. Together with the Domba, they are sometimes called the "gypsies of India".[1]

They are divided in two tribes, Maturia, and Labana.[2]


According to J.J Roy Burman, in his book titled, “Ethnography of a Denotified Tribe The Laman Banjara”, The name Laman is popular long before the name Banjara and the Laman Banjaras originally came from Afghanistan before settling in Rajasthan and other parts of India. He states that according to Motiraj Rethod, the Lamans were originally from Afghanistan and there is an independent province and village called Gor in that country.[3]


The most numerous Banjara or Lambadi community is in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh at 2.2 million where they speak their own dialect along with Telugu. In Karnataka, they are spread in northern parts of the state.[4] In Uttar Pradesh, they are concentrated in Saharanpur, Bijnor, Pilibhit, Bareilly, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Etawah, Moradabad, Tanda [Rampur], Mathura, Etah, Nainital and Agra districts. [1] In Madhya Pradesh, they are found in the districts of Jabalpur, Chhindwara and Mandla. While in Gujarat, they are found in the districts of Panchmahal, Kheda, Ahmedabad, and Sabarkantha. Many members of this community migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and have settled in Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh. The Banjara community is concentrated in the Rohilkhand region of western Uttar Pradesh. Their settlements are generally known as tandas, which means camp, reflecting their nomadic background. In Pilibhit District, the main villages are Neoria Hussainpur and Bhikarpur, and the Naiks or headmen of these villages were substantial landowners at one time. In neighbouring Bareilly District, the community are found mainly in Baheri tehsil, where they were at one time substantial landowners. The main villages in Bareilly District include Tanda Dayanatpur, Tanda Chhanga and Tanda. The Largest Muslim Banjara populated town is Tanda, District Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. Here population of Muslim Banjaras is more than 30,000 (thirty thousand). Here All Muslim Banjaras are from sunni sects. But Banjara community in Tanda, Rampur is lagging in the field of education. No government school could be opened here after 1952. Education specially female educational infrastructure is non-existing. Shahabuddin Ghauri is the first person in Tanda, Rampur who got Masters Degree, He is a social activist and is trying to establish basic educational infrastructure in the town with the help of some NGOs.


The word "Banjara" must have evolved from Prakrit and Hindi and Rajasthani words "Bana/Ban or Vana/Van" meaning Forest or Moorlands and "Chara" meaning 'Movers'. The Banjara are (together with the Domba) sometimes called the "Gypsies of India".[5]



The traditional food of Banjara is Bati (roti). Daliya is a dish cooked using many cereal, such as wheat or jawar. Banjara people also enjoy many non-vegetarian foods. Among the non-vegetarian dishes unique to them are saloi, made from goat blood and other goat parts. In Andhra, fish is their main food. The Banjara are also known for preferring spicy food. In U.P, they are very fond of Malida (mixing Moti Roti, Gud and deshi Ghee).


Traditional banjara dress

Women are known to wear colorful and beautiful costumes like phetiya (as ghagra) and kanchalli (as top) and have mehendi tattoos on their hands. The dress is considered fancy and attractive by Western cultures. They use mirror chips and often coins to decorate it. Women put on thick bangles(bandiya) on their arms (patli). Their ornaments are made up of silver rings,ivory bangles, coins, chain and hair pleats are tied together at the end by chotla.

Men wear dhoti and kurta (short with many folds). These clothes were designed specially for the protection from harsh climate in deserts and to distinguish them from others.

Arts, literature and entertainment[edit]

Gypsies-Painting of Raja Ravi Varma

Their customs, language and dress indicate they originated from Rajasthan. They live in settlements called thandas. They lived in zupada (hut). Now many of them live in cities. They have a unique culture and dance form. On many occasions they gather, sing and dance.

Their traditional occupation is nomadic cattle herding. Later they slowly moved into agriculture and trade.

It is believed that fought for Prithvi Raj Chauhan against Muhammad of Ghor. The trail of the Lambadi/Banjara can be verified from their language, Lambadi borrows words from Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi and the local language of the area they belong to.

Banjaras originally belong to Rajasthan and were Rajputs[citation needed] who migrated to southern parts of India. They settled down in the southern or central area of the country and slowly loosened contacts with Rajasthan, and their original community. Over a period of time both the communities separated and they adopted the local culture. The language spoken by Banjaras settled in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha, Maharashtra is an admixture of Hindi, Rajasthani and Marathi known as Gormati.

Lambadi Dance is a special kind of dance of Andhra Pradesh. In this form of dance, mainly the female dancers dance in tune with the male drummers to offer homage to their Lord for a good harvest. At Anupu village near Nagarjunakonda, Lambadi dance originated. They are actually semi-nomadic tribes who are gradually moving towards civilization. This dance is mainly restricted among the females and rarely the males participate in Lambadi dance. Lambadi is a special kind of Folk Dance which involves participation by tribal women who bedeck themselves in colorful costumes and jewelry.

In the state Rajasthan, they are Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. In Karnataka, they are categorised as Scheduled Tribes since 1977.[6] The Lambadi people have large white bangles, called "bhalia". The bhalias are part of a dress code and it is believed to save anyone wearing them from curses or evil.In Maharashtra also they are OBC category.


Apart from other Hindu festivals, Banjara girls celebrate, Teej,holi, Diwali. Teej is important festival for girls (unmarried).In shravan month this festival celebrated and to pray lord shiva specially .

Related communities[edit]

Three other castes that claim kinship with the Banjara are the Labana of Punjab, the Gawaria of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and Lavana of Rajasthan. In Maharashtra they are called the Laman, Gormati,dhadi and Banjara and in Telangana where they are in a large number, they are called Lambadi. The banjara community needs to be compared with the 'Harappa and Mohenjodaro' history to trace the origin and the pali language and the deep study of Sanskrit words to locate the foundation of their spoken language. Dhadi branch of the Mirasis are musicians, balladeers and panegyrists. Under the patronage of the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind (1595 to 1644), the community prospered and converted in their entirety to Sikhism. Their name is derived from a dhad, which is a small drum, which they use. Other instruments used are the sarangi, the pakhwai (two ended drum) and daf (a tambourine). The Dhadi are associated with singing stanzas called karkha praising the soldiers of the Sikh guru’s armies as well as other hymns.[13] dhadi equated with bhats the dhadi clans 1 Tajnoth surname is kale 2pochalat 3 rathnavat or rathne 4 dongre 5 sehravat shere 6 rudha or rude 7 Baji 8 saglawat sagne or sugunavat 9 Bhimla 10 Bhanawat 11 ramdas 12 dehavat or Dey. avat, Hindu cast dhadi is original bhat cast


The Banjaras are grouped into five gotras, or super-families, also called goth or pada in Lambadi. Banjara are subdivided with sub caste as follows :-

  • badawath / Jadav :- 52 "padha" or sub cast
  • bhukya/Rathod :- 27 "padha" or sub cast
  • pawar :- 12 "padha" or sub cast
  • chavan :- 6 "padha" or sub cast (moodu)
  • Ade :-

Some believe the Rahtod/Bhukya gotra is split into two, making Banoth as a separate gotra by itself and bringing the total to five gotras. Others claim the Turi/Badawatis form an additional (sixth) gotra. Each gotra is divided into subdivisions called 'jaath's, which are generally used as surnames of its members. In Rathod goras have many sub gotras Like Ramavath, Rajavath, Dungavath, Dhegavath, Ketavath, nenavath, Dharamshot, Pathlavath,khatrot etc.banoth has sub groups called lahori, jatoth, dhanavath, dheeravath, rupavath, pangoth etc... dhadi equated with bhats the dhadi clans 1 Tajnath 2pochala 3 rathnavat or rathna 4 dungroth 5 sehravat 6 rudha or rudi or rudavath 7 Baji 8 sagrawat or sugunavat 9 Bhimla 10 Bhanawat or banavath, bane bani 11 ramdas 12 Devasot or dehavat or Devavat, Hindu cast. dhadi is original bhat cast.


Members of the same gotra cannot marry as they are considered brother and sister, a term known as bhaipana (brotherhood). Members of different gotras may marry, and this state is known as kai-laageni (not-related). Traditionally, the jaaths of prospective couples are checked by experts known as dhadi bhaat who knew the gotra/jaath system and could identify proper marriages. Nowadays the Banjarpoint website (coded by two Banjara software engineers) fulfills a similar function with gotra/jaath webpages to identify which can marry which. In Banjara community marriages will take place for around three months with many celebrations.

Bamniya Banjara[edit]

Bamniya Banjara are a class of usually described as nomadic people from the (Bamniya Kala) state of Rajasthan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lamani Economy and Society in Change. Mittal Publications. pp. 16–. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  2. ^ (sir.), Alfred Comyn Lyall (1870). "Appendix A : Sketch of Banjáras of Berár". Gazetteer for the Haidarábád assigned districts commonly called Berár. Printed at the Education Society's Press. p. 195. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  3. ^ J.J Roy Burman, “Ethnography of a Denotified Tribe The Laman Banjara" A Mittal Publication
  4. ^ Halbar p. 16
  5. ^ "Lambanis or Gypsies". Kamat. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007. [unreliable source?]
  6. ^ Halbar. p 19


External links[edit]