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This article is about Muslim caste in India. For film in Marathi, see Pinjra (film).
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The Pinjara (Rajasthani: पिंजरा (Devanagari) پِنجارہ (Perso-Arabic)) are a Muslim community found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in India. They are also known as Shaikh Mansoori, especially in Gujarat, where the name Pinjara is no longer used. The Pinjara is the traditional cotton carder of Central India, just like the Behna are the traditional cotton carders of North India.[1][2] Some members of Pinjara community have migrated to Pakistan after the independence in 1947 and have settled in Karachi, Sindh.

History and origin[edit]

The community gets its name from the word pinjna, which means ginning in the Hindi language. The community embraced Islam during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and then took up the occupation of cotton ginning after their conversion to Islam. Some traditions make the community of Muslim Rajputs extraction.[1] In Maharashtra, the Pinjara have two subdivisions, the Teli Pinjara and the Ghatore. The Teli Pinjara get their name from the fact that the community took to oil pressing, an occupation associated with the Teli community. While the Ghatore are said to get their name from the Ghat area of Chhindwara District in Madhya Pradesh, where the community are said to have originated.[2] While in Madhya Pradesh, where the community is found mainly in Nimar, and Sagar districts. They are further divided into a number of clans known as biradaris, the main ones being the Badharia, Sarsutia and Pardesi.[3] Pinjara's origin seemed a complex issue, 'Pinjaras Association' in Dharwar of Karnataka State suggest that they were migrated from Afghanistan during Aurangzeb's time. They joined his army as soldiers but after defeat they were scattered throughout India and followed their original trade. that is, cotton-cleaning and mattress-making. (TT-I' archives).

Present circumstances[edit]

In Rajasthan, the Pinjara are found mainly in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Alwar and Bikaner districts. They speak a variety of Rajasthani, and have a working knowledge of Urdu. The community are divided into two major exogamous groups, the Baone and Terpane, the former is further divided into fifty two clans, and the latter is divided into fifty three clans. Some of their major clans are the Sherani, Asan, Galhot, Bhati, Chauhan, Aravalli, Tak, Aguan, Khokhar, Ajmeria, Bhulta, Bahaleem, Chitta and Multani. These clans are exogamous in nature...[1] The main situated area of clan sherani's is a town "kanore" near Udaipur.Wasim Ahamad sherani is a teenager in Sherani clan. In Maharashtra, the community is found mainly in the districts of Bhandara, Nagpur, Amravati and Wardha. They speak Marathi, although most also speak Dakhani. Unlike the Rajasthan Pinjara, the Maharashtra Pinjara do not practice clan exogamy. Most prefer marrying close kin, and practice parallel cousin marriage. The Pinjara are Sunni Muslims, although they incporporate a number of folk beliefs.[2]

In Rajasthan, the Pinjara are a landless community, and live by cotton ginning and making quilt and pillows. The Pinjara purchase cotton from the villages in their neighbourhood. They also started selling quilts in the local towns. A small minority of the Pinjara are now cultivators. The community is Sunni Muslim and perceives itself of Shaikh status.[1]

In Maharashtra, the Pinjara have abandoned their traditional occupation of cotton gining and the manufacture of quilts and pillows. A process that began in the 19th Century, when many members of the community took to agriculture has accelerated. Most Pinjara are now small and medium sized farmers. Most live in multi-caste villages which they share with the Maratha, Mang, Gond and Bandha communities.

In Karnataka Pinjaras population is about 1.3 million. They are found all over the State but majority of them live in Bijapur and Belgaum districts. Literacy is claimed to be less than 1 percent in the State. In some parts of the State their traditional occupation continues with modern machines but overall they are badly affected by modern mattress makers. Some are agriculturist and others run petty-shops. Economically they are weaker section of the society and are struggling to embrace change per se.


  1. ^ a b c d People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 750 to 755 Popular Prakashan
  2. ^ a b c People of India Maharshtra Volume XXX Part Three edited by B.V Bhanu, B.R Bhatnagar, D.K Bose, V.S Kulkarni and J Sreenath pages 1733- 1737
  3. ^ Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India by R.V Russel