|Regions with significant populations|
|• Pakistan • India|
|• Urdu • Hindi • Marwari|
|•[Islam] 20% hindu 80% •|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Cheetah • Meo • Qaimkhani • Sindhi-Sipahi • Khanzada|
History and origin
The Merat (alias Mer and Merat-Kathat.) is a Muslim community from the Merwara area of the Ajmer District in Rajasthan state, India. Languages of the 334,000 community, including the diaspora, are Marwari, Hindi, and Urdu. Originating in India the community spread north after India’s independence led to civil war between Hundu’s and Muslims, birthing Islamic Pakistan. Many of them settled in Punjab and Sindh provinces.
The history of the Islamic Merat community of Rajasthan goes back many centuries. Those Muslims that had adopted Hindu Rajput faith eventually, for one reason or another, returned to their original religion. The ancestral founder of the Merat line dates back to its patriarch Mehraji Rao, a Chauhan descendant. Three of his sons designed the Islamic gotras of wisdom. The ancient ruins of the first settlement can still be viewed in the former autonomous region of Beawar (1835) including domestic and military structures. It was acceded by Britain after Merat warriors’ successive victories in battle over occupying troops of the British Army. However their practices had been a mixture of Hindu and Muslim religion since Duda Rao, accepted Islam during the rule of Aurangzeb. Three noted Muslim customs of the Merat are: circumcision, halal butchering, and Islamic burial rites, from the Mughal era. Although in the past the Merats were divided by Hindu purists into two categories: Hindu and Muslim, today their populace is 100% Islamic.
The Merat are composed of four exogamous sub-divisions, known as dangs. The dang are arranged in hierarchy, with those descended from younger siblings having a lower status. So the dang of Chang village, descended from Karnaji, have the highest status. Each dang is headed by a patel, and there is no marriage within the dang. They also claim to be related to the Rawat, as one of the ancestors of the tribe Harraj, or Kathaji, was the brother of Goraji, the ancestor of the Rawat.
The Merat speak Marwari among themselves, and Urdu and Hindi with outsiders. Like other North Indian communities, they have a well organised council of elders. Each village has its own council of elders who settle disputes within the community over land or theft. These councils often impose fines on those who commit acts which are seen to transgress the local norms. The dang are headed by tikayats, who sit on these councils, and the tikayat of the Chang dang heads the caste councils. The Merat are a community of farmers, but their landholdings are extremely small. Many Merat are daily wage labourers. The Merwara region also suffers from drought.
The Merat, unlike other Muslim Rajput communities of Rajasthan, such as the Qaimkhani, Meo, Sindhi-Sipahi and Rath, have maintained a culture which is a hybrid of Hindu and Muslim traditions. Often their personal names are a mixture of both Hindu and Muslim names. Until recently, marriages took place with the Rawat, a neighbouring Hindu community, but now they either marry within remaining dangs or into cheetahs of ajmer. The Merat visit the Lake Pushkar on the Kartik Poornima, as well as the famous Muslim shrine of Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer. However in the last decade, a large number of madarsas and mosques were built in the ajmer-beawar region.
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 641 to 646 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandl & N.N Vyas page 642 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 641 to 643 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 645 Popular Prakashan