Rath tribe

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Rath
Total population
28,000
Regions with significant populations
 India Pakistan
Languages
UrduHindiMarwari
Religion
Allah-green.svg Islam 100% •
Related ethnic groups
Sindhi-SipahiQaimkhani

The Rath (Rajasthani: रथ (Devanagari) رتھ (Perso-Arabic)) are a Muslim Rajput community, found in the state of Rajasthan in India.[1] They also settled in Punjab and Sindh provinces Pakistan. They are also known as Rathi, although their preferred self-designation is Rajput.

History and origin[edit]

The Rath are said to get their name from the Rathi breed of cattle, which they used to and still herd. They are divided into three major sub-groups, the Parihar or sometimes referred to as Parhar Rath, the Johiya and the Bohar, and a number of minor lineages, such as the Chanar, Larr, Chhachhar and Chandani. According to the traditions of the Parhar Rath, they were originally Parihar Rajputs of Mandore, who were defeated by the Rathores, and fled to Sindh. During their period of exile, the Parhar were converted to Islam. The community than moved to the desert regions of Bikaner State, and spread over time to the Cholistan desert region. While the Bohar and Johiya Rath both claim descent from the Bhatti Rajputs, and have different traditions as to their conversion to Islam. As a community, they have a strong self-identification as being a Rajput community. They are culturally close to tribesmen of the Cholistan region of Punjab, Pakistan, who are also largely Rath.[2]


Historically, the Rath were a community of pastoral nomads, breeding mainly cows and sheep, as well as cultivating dry crops, and migrating three to nine months of the year. Till about the 1950s, no recognized rights to the land existed. This was in marked contrast to the related Pachhada community, who were found in Hissar and Mahendargarh districts of Haryana, who was forced to settle down by the British authorities in the late 19th Century. With the construction of the Indira Gandhi Canal, land was divided up, and a large number granted to settlers. This led to a drastic reduction in the grazing area, and process that has led to the abandoning of the nomadic lifestyle. The community are now only partially nomadic, with some members taking the cattle and sheep to their grazing areas, while the majority remaining in the village.[3]

The Rath speak Seraiki among themselves, and Marwari with others. They are also closely related to the Pachhadas, a community once found in Hissar and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana, but now found in Punjab in Pakistan.[4]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Parhar Rath community is further divided into a number of clans, known as gotras. Their main clans include the Parihar, Kotowar, Daiya, Seikh, Lad and Koria. The various gotras observe a set pattern with regards to marriage. For example, the Parihar and Kotowar receive girls from the Koria, while the Daiya and Parihar give girls to the Kotowar and Seikh. Other Rathi communities include the Bohar and Johiya tribal groupings, found mainly in the Bikaner, Ganganagar and the neighbouring region of Cholistan of Pakistan. Marriages tend to take place within the three sub-divisions, but marriages are forbidden within the gotra.[5]

The Rath are found mainly in Barmer, Bikaner, Ganganagar and Jaisalmer districts. They are still essentially a community of pastoralists. Agriculture is the other main pursuit of this community. For six months of the year, from May to October, they cultivate their fields, and for the other six months, they herd their cattle. Their villages are found in the Thar Desert region, and most of their villages are without electricity.[6] Like other North India communities, they have a council of elders which settles intra-community disputes, and punishes the guilty. Each lineage has an informal caste council, known as a biradari panchayat. This acts as an instrument of social control, by punishes those who breach community norms, such as marriage out with the community, or marriage within the gotra. The Rath are Sunni Muslims, but incorporate many folk beliefs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 808 to 811 Popular Prakashan
  2. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 808 to 811 Popular Prakashan
  3. ^ Resisting Change? Adaptations by Traditional Pastoralists to the Rajasthan Canal Project by Saurabh Sinha International Institute for Environment and Development, Dryland Development Project page 21
  4. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 808 to 811 Popular Prakashan
  5. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 808 to 811 Popular Prakashan
  6. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 808 to 811 Popular Prakashan