|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 (Merat-ghodat Kathat.) is a Hindu 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.
Mehrat are the descendends of Rao Meraji Chauhan.As per the recorded history in local bards Rao Meraji had two sons - Kunwar Harraj ji Chauhan and Kunwar durraj ji Chauhan. Both of the brothers were employed by the Delhi Sultan in his army who impressed by their bravery and skills awarded the title of Katha (Katha means strong and steadfast) to Harrajji and Ghoda to durraj ji ( Ghoda means horse as Gajraj ji had unmatched horse riding skills). The descendents of Katha (Harrajji Chauhan) came to be known as Kathat-Mehrats and the descendents of Ghoda (Gajrj ji Chauhan) came to be known as Ghodat-Mehrats. As both the brothers were in company of the Mohammaden rulers, due to peer pressure for safety of local people accept some Islam costoms, they accepted three Muslim practices-Halal (eating halal meat),khatna (circumcision) and dafna (burying the dead). These practices were then carried on by their descendents. But after three generations the descendents of Gajrajji or Ghodats abandoned these Muslim practices and returned to the Rajput fold and later up to the present time are now fully integrated in the rawat rajput society and are recognised as Rawats only. On the other hand the Mehrat-Kathats have continued to follow these semi Islamic practices and later due to the activities of Jamat activists have leaned towards Islam. As a result the Rawat-Rajputs who have had marital relations with the kathats up to the middle of 19th century, in a community meeting severed the marital ties with the Kathats. Harraj ji had three sons - Kunwar Karnaji, Kunwar jodhaji and Kunwar Gajiji. Karnaji built the fort of Chang. As the eldest son of Harraj ji the head of the Karnawat clan (known as Karna ji ki daang among Kathatas) is the titular head of all the Kathats. Present Thakur of Chang is Thakur Kalu Khan. Jodha ji built the fort of Borwa. Gaji ji built the fort of Shyamgarh. It is the most famous village of Mehrats historically. 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 70% Hindu.
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 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