Lohana

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Lohanas
Regions with significant populations
• India • United Kingdom
India (primarily Gujarat, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Delhi) <0.5 Million[1]
United Kingdom 30-35,000[2]
Languages
Primarily Gujarati, Kutchi, Sindhi and Hindi. Also local languages in diaspora countries.
Religion
Primarily Hinduism. Those who converted to Islam are referred to as Memons or Khojas and are now separate independent communities.
Related ethnic groups
Gujarati peopleSindhi peopleKhojaMemon

The Lohana, also referred to as Luvana,[3] are an Indian caste, traditionally largely occupied as merchants.

The Lohanas are divided into three separate cultural groups as a result of centuries apart in different regions. Thus there are significant differences between the culture, language, professions and societies of Sindhi Lohanas (those who migrated from Sind after partition of India), Kutchi Lohanas (those living or having ancestry in Kutch), and those of Gujarati Lohanas (those living or having ancestry in Saurashtra).[4]

History[edit]

Lohana women in western India (c. 1855-1862).

Although considered to be Vaishya in the Hindu ritual ranking system known as varna, the Lohanas favour a mythical origin as members of the Kshatriya varna.[5] Their claim is to be of Suryavanshi descent from a lineage tracing back to Lava, son of Rama. At least some of them believe that they belong to the Rathor clan, which they consider to be kshatriya.[citation needed] They claim that their name is derived from Lavnam, one of the 18 grades of Kshatriya, ultimately derived from Lava himself.[6][full citation needed][7][page needed]

In the 7th century, there was a Buddhist ruler named Agham Lohana[8] ruled a part of Sindh and was Governor of Brahmanabad and contemporary of Chach of Alor. Agham Lohana is referred to in Chach Nama and the city of Agham Kot is said to be named after him. Even the sea around was known as Lohana Darya (Darya means Sea).[9] Chach of Alor killed Agham Lohana in battle of Brahmanand and married his widow and also married his niece to Agham's son Sirhind.[citation needed] Further, Chach is said to have laid restrictions of Lohana and Jat tribes from wearing headgear and carrying weapons. He further placed upon the Jat and Lohana restrictions such as:[10]

  • Forbidding them riding horses with saddles
  • Forbidding them from wearing silk or velvet
  • Forbidding them from wearing headgear or footwear
  • Forcing them to wear black or red scarves

Conversion to Islam and migration of Hindu Lohanas[edit]

The community's oral history says that the decline of their kingdom began after the death of Veer Dada Jashraj the decline of Lohana . It also says that their name derives from the city of Lohargadh (/Lohanpur/Lohkot) in Multan, from which they migrated in the 13th century AD after the establishment of the Muslim rule there.[11]

Pir Sadardin converted many of them to the Shia Ismaili Nizari sect of Islam in 14th Century AD. As Lohanas were worshipers of Shakti, in order to convert them Ismaili missionaries made certain modifications in their doctrines to convert them. They are known as Khojas or Khawaja.[citation needed]

In 1422, Jam Rai Dan was tribal leader in Sindh during the Samma Dynasty, he was converted to Islam by Sayad Eusuf-ud-Din and he adopted a new name Makrab Khan. At that time a person named Mankeji was head of eighty-four nukhs of Lohanas, who was in favor in court of that Samma king. He was persuaded by ruler and the Qadri to convert to Islam. However, not all Lohanas were ready to convert from Hinduism.[citation needed] But 700 Lohana families comprising some 6178 persons converted to Islam at the hands of one in Thatta Sindh. These are now known as Memons.[12][13]

Sindh which had fallen under Muslim rule of Muhammad bin Qasim after defeat of Dahir and the Hindus were increasingly pressurized to either convert to Islam or face persecution and were living in constant fear. It was around this time, that Uderolal who is revered as Jhulelal ( by Sindhis ) or Dariyalal (by Gujaratis and Kutchis ) and Zinda Pir ( by Muslims ) who was born in to Ratanchand (Ratnarai) Thakkur and Devki, a Hindu Lohana family of Nasarpur in Sindh. He took upon the mantle of Lohana and Hindu leadership. Uderolal showed his miraculous powers and preached Muslim chief Mirkshah, and initiated him into the true meaning of religion that Allah and Ishwar are one and same. Uderolal, thus won the freedom of religion for Hindus from the Muslim rulers and devoted the rest of his life to spiritual and community service. Today Uderolal is revered as Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis and also considered to be as Pir and revered as Jinda Pir, as such, both Hindus and Muslims visit the site of his Samadhi. The Lohanas after Dariyalal took samadhi for almost two centuries Hindus and Lohanas remained fearless[11] but later again due to their Hindu identity being discriminated and increasingly threatened in Sindh and they began to migrate mainly towards Kutch and Saurashtra[11][12]

Sindhi Lohanas have since been divided into several groups, among which are:[14]

  • Amils : Amils were generally involved in clerical jobs in government offices, as working in posts of revenue collectors and other senior positions.
  • Bhaibands : Bhaibandhs are Lohanas, who are mainly involved in trade and commerce and are as such mostly merchants.
  • Sahitis : They are somewhere placed between Amils & Bhaibands, and could be either in government service or traders

Rituals[edit]

Lohanas largely follow Hindu rituals and worship Rama, Shiva, Surya, Randal, Ambika, Shakti and Shrinathji apart from their clan deities like Veer Dada Jashraj, Harkor, Sindhvi Shree Sikotar Mata and Dariyalal.[11]

Diaspora[edit]

Thousands of Lohanas left India between 1880 - 1920 and migrated to British colonies in the African Great Lakes region of Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika, where there was already a bustling Gujarati Muslims merchant class diaspora.[15] Later following Idi Amin's expulsion of South Asians in 1972, most of them moved to the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent to United States, and Canada.[16]

Notables[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dwarakanath Gupta, C (May 1999). "Socio-cultural history of an Indian caste". ISBN 978-81-7099-726-9. 
  2. ^ Burghart, Richard (1987). "Hinduism in Great Britain: The perpetuation of religion in an alien cultural milieu". ISBN 978-0-422-60910-4. 
  3. ^ The Rajputs of Saurashtra By Virbhadra Singhji. p. 12. 
  4. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh. India's Communities. p. 2011. 
  5. ^ Falzon, Mark-Anthony (2004). Cosmopolitan Connections: The Sindhi Diaspora, 1860-2000. Leiden: BRILL. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9789004140080. 
  6. ^ Report on the History of Lohanas (1993) Dr Katherine Prior
  7. ^ "Warriors and Merchants: Gujarati sources on the History of Lohanas" - Rohit Barot, Dept. Sociology Bristol University
  8. ^ Vinayak Vaidya, Chintaman (1979). History of mediaeval Hindu India, Volume 1. Cosmo Publications. pp. 161–163. 
  9. ^ HISTORY OF SIND. VOLUME II. (IN TWO PARTS.) Part II—Giving the reigns of the Kalhórahs and the Tálpurs down to the British Conquest.
  10. ^ The Chach-nama. English translation by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Delhi Reprint, 1979.
  11. ^ a b c d [1] Firmes et entreprises en Inde: la firme lignagère dans ses réseaux By Pierre Lachaier, page 70-73
  12. ^ a b The Muslim communities of Gujarat: an exploratory study of Bohras, Khojas, and Memons. 
  13. ^ Gujarat, Volume 1 By Rash Bihari Lal, Anthropological Survey of India. 
  14. ^ Cosmopolitan connections: the Sindhi diaspora, 1860-2000 By Mark-Anthony Falzon. pp. 34, 35. 
  15. ^ Oonk,G, The Changing Culture of Hindu Lohanas in East Africa, in Contemporary Asians Studies, 13, 2004, 83-97.
  16. ^ [2] Hinduism in Great Britain: the perpetuation of religion in an alien cultural By Richard Burghart
  17. ^ a b Gregory, Robert (1992). The Rise and Fall of Philanthropy in East Africa: The Asian's Contribution. p. 53. 
  18. ^ a b Bennett, Charles Joseph (1976). Persistence Amid Adversity:The Growth and Spatial Distribution of the Asian Population of Kenya, 1902-1963. Syracuse University. p. 182. Probably the success of the most prominent Lohana families in Uganda, Nanji Kalidas Mehta and Sons, M. P. Madhvani and D. K. Hindocha had much influence on Lohana migration from Porbandar and Jamnagar