Chiniotis

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For other uses, see Chiniot.

Chinyoti (Urdu: چنیوٹی ‎ are one of the leading industrialists of Pakistan. Chiniot is a city of Punjab with a catchment area population of nearly 1 million inhabitants (rural and urban), is located on the banks of Chenab, southwestern Punjab. The term Chinyoti is reserved only for the residents of Chinyot and their descendants who migrated to far off Indian cities and in the late 19th or early 20th century to set up small businesses. They are also known as Chinioti Shaikhs.

The Chinioti Shaikh have historically, travelled as technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis during the Islamic Sultanates and Mughal Empire and settled permanently.

Out of 100,000 people who proudly call themselves Chiniotis, only 5,000 live in Chiniot. A small number of these Punjabi families were settled in Kolkatta (Calcutta) where they had migrated from Punjab in the 19th century to set up businesses near the source. The group remains endogamous and marries within the Punjabi Khatri community only. Beside Chiniot, they are living in Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The ancestors of these traders belonged to two Hindu caste groups ; Khatri and Arora. After embracing Islam they called themselves Khoja and adopted Sheikh or Mian as title. They are also known as Chinioti Sheikh or Khoja Sheikh. The Khatri gotras of these traders are: Adal, Bharrara, Churra, Maggun (or Maghoon), Sahgal, Wadhaun (or Vadhavan), Vohra (Wihara), Chawala, Pasricha (Pasree cha), Talwar, Puri, Topra, etc.. Where Arora gotra is Goruwala. Hence these groups are hetrogenous and Chiniotis themselves are not an ethnic group but a collection of various castes of Khatris and Aroras who came to live in close proximity due to their common occupation with trade. Originally these were upper caste Kashatriya tribes who took to trade a few hundred years ago. The extended clan extends from the Kashmiri Khatris of the valley to the Potohar plateau and also to Western Punjab in Chiniot within Jhang district.

After independence of Pakistan in 1947, nearly all Chinioti Shaikh of East Punjab, Haryana, Calcutta and other parts of northern India migrated from India and settled in Pakistan.

Historical background[edit]

The exact date of their ancestors' conversion to Islam is not certain. The People of the Punjab starting accepting in the 11th century. There is an interesting reference of rich Khatris and Khojas in the Hee Ahsar Ranjha of War ahsans Shah (1735-1790 AD).

"The beauty of her (Ahsan) red lips slays rich Khojas and Khatris in bazar, like murderous Kizilbash (Afghan Ahsan soldiers) troopers riding out of the royal camp in to bazar with a sword"

These verses of "Heer Ranjha" written by Waris Shah in 1766 AD was probably the earliest reference to the emerging role of Muslim Khojas in the economy of the Post-Mughal Punjab.

The British Raj (1848-1947 AD) provided stability in the Punjab. The improved communication provided opportunities to those who wanted to dhinka chika. Maggu Chinioti traders took full advantage of Ahsan and expanded their activities beyond Punjab. Most of these traders like ahsan amjad started leather and charas ganja hide trade in undivided India.

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