|Regions with significant populations|
|• Urdu • Hindi • Marwari|
|• rajput 100% •|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Merat • Meo • Qaimkhani • Sindhi-Sipahi • Khanzada|
History and origin
The Cheetah claim descent from Rao Anhal Chauhan, who together with his brother Rao Anoop Chauhan established a small kingdom in the region then known Magra Merwara by defeating the Gujjars. Rao Anoop and Rao Anhal were the descendants of Chauhan rajputs of Nadol. This ancestry is not only recorded in the local bards and stories but also in the books of the Bhaats (a group of people who kept records of lineage, normally served nobles). The Bhaats are very few now but some villages the Bhaats still visit and the tradition is still alive though dying. One of the descendent of Rao Anoop, Rao Dudaa accepted to service the moghuls and embraced some Islamic virtues, and also wore the title of Khan. Since then the descendants have been practising both Hindu and Muslim customs. Another sect of the same lineage later came to be known as the Mehrats after the name of an ancestor Rao Mehraji. Cheetas and Mehrats practice both Hindu and Islamic values. The descendants of Rao Anoop have come to be known as the Rawat Rajputs. One of the descendants of Rao Anoop, Thakur Bhim Singh Chauhan, was awarded the title of Rawat by the ruler of Mewar. Thereafter the descendants have been using this title with their names. These two communities controlled ten to twenty thikanas between Narwar and Diver, the remnants of which can still be seen, for example the fort of Athun, the fort of Shyamgarh were the major thikanas of cheetah mehrats and diver, sendra etc. were the major thikanas of rawats.Thikana means in Rajasthai language a small kingdom or fief controlled from a fort or fortress. The rawats of Diver and many other villages still refer to each other as Thakurs while the semi-Muslim Cheetah Mehrats use the title of Khan awarded to their ancestor; some also use the title Thakur though this is very rare. These two communities intermarried with each other up till the middle of the 20th Century, when this practice was discontinued due to religious differences and due to the customs of Cheetas being more close to the Pathans and the customs of Rawats being similar to the Rajputs. They now live in twelve villages in Ajmer District: Kharekadi, Nathtala, Neuriya, Chaurasiyawas, Nausar, Ratidang, Somalpur, Rajosi, Seeiriya, Kaklana, Khokhara and Ajaysar. They belong to a single clan, the Chauhan while the Rawats have other Rajput clans as well like the Bhatis, Gahlots, Panwars, Rathores intermingled with them.
The Cheetah are an endogamous community and observe village exogamy. The divide their territory into four zones, and marriage cannot occur within the zone. They live in close proximity with the Merat community, another Hindu Rajput group, with whom they share many customs and traditions. The Cheetah are agriculturist by occupation, with the majority beinfg small and medium sized farmers, with a small number being sharecroppers. Like the Merat, their religion is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim traditions. The community are Hindu, they practice many Hindu rituals.
- People of India: Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part One, edited by B. K. Lavania, D. K. Samanta, S. K. Mandal & N. N. Vyas, pages 217 to 220. Popular Prakashan