The Shikligar are a community found in the states of Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab in India. They also known as the Mathuria Lohar, Kamgar, Kuchband and Panchal. They are Hindu in Gujarat and Sikh in Punjab, and partly Hindu and partly Sikh in Haryana.
The Arabic word saiqal means a polisher, and the Sikligar are those who had the hereditary duty of polishing weapons. Many administrators of the British Raj period who also wrote books - such as H. A. Rose, Denzil Ibbetson and William Crooke - referred to the blacksmith communities as Lohars, although in fact that term refers to a specific group of people and is not the synonym that they supposed. The Sikligar were possibly one such case of mistaken identity.
They are a nomadic community, often having encampments at the edges of towns and cities. The community claim to have been Rajputs, who had flee to Muslim invading armies, and took their ancient occupation to disguise themselves from their Muslim foes. Their ancestral home to said to be the city of Kannauj. They now speak Gujarati. The community is strictly endogamous and divided into twelve clans of equal status. These are the Kanthiwala Bhand, Mole Bhand, Gandhiwala Bhand, Jumarwala, Jilpatia, Pathlerde, Juni, Mat and Bardika.
In Haryana, according to their traditions, during the period of the Hindu deity Rama, there were a people called the Chakreli. These Chakreli were the traditional manufactrers of swords and shields. These Chakreli lived in Chitor in Rajasthan. Their ancestors then fled their home to flee Muslim invaders, and the ancestors of the Haryana Sikligar moved into the region in the distant past. Other traditions make the community of Rajput origin. According to this traditions, they were Rajput soldiers in the army of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, and subsequent to his defeat at the hands of Mohammed Ghori, the community took to blacksmithing.
In Punjab, the Sikligar claim to have immigrated from Rajasthan, where they were involved in the manufacture of swords. Subsequent to their settlement in Punjab, the community converted to Sikhism. They are now found through Punjab, with concentrations in the districts of Bhatinda, and Ludhiana. The Sikligar are divided into a number of clans, the main ones being the Junni, Dangi, Bhond, Bhori, Khichi, Tilvithya, Ghor-chare Tok, Kalyani and Churi te Biori.
The Hindu Sikligar of Gujarat continue their traditional occupation of sharpening knives, scissors, household articles and agricultural implements. Economically, they are extremely marginalized, with cases of child labour existing.
The Sikligar are in Haryana are now divided into two groupings, the Hindu Sikligar and Sikh Sikligar. These religious divisions mean, that the groupings are effectively distinct communities, with no inter-marriage. The community speak the Haryanvi dialect. They are found mainly in the districts of Hissar, Jind, Rohtak, Sirsa and Mohendargarh. The community is settled in hamlets on the outskirts of towns and villages, living often in thathched huts. They are further divided into eighty four clans, known as gotras. The main ones being the Chauhan, Nirban, Tank, Kalilot, Mohil, Joone, Dugoli Ke, Moyal, Padyar, Khankhara, Bhati, Dhare, Khichi, Ghelot, Badke, Dangi, Jaspal, Patwa, Solanki, Matlana, Dagar, and Banwari. Their main occupation remains metal barnishing. They are involved in the manufacturing of implements such as spades, sickles, sieves and iron baskets. A small number are now farmers, raising poultry and cattle.
In Punjab, the Sikligar are still engaged in the manufacture of swords, knives, daggers and buckets. They sell these implements directly to villagers. The Sikh Sikligar are strictly endogamous, and practice clan exogamy. Their customs are similar to other Sikh communities in Punjab. They speak Punjabi, with most understanding Hindi. The community now have scheduled caste status.
- Lal, R. B.; Padmanabham, P. B. S. V.; Krishnan, G. et al., eds. (2003). People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Three. State series. Singh, Kumar Suresh (General Editor). Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, for the Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 1287–1291. ISBN 9788179911068.
- Bansal, I. J. S.; Singh, Swaran, eds. (2003). People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII. State series. Singh, Kumar Suresh (General Editor). New Delhi: Manohar, for the Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 410–414. ISBN 9788173041235.
- Sharma, M. K.; Bhatia, A. K., eds. (1994). People of India Haryana Volume XXIII. State series. Singh, Kumar Suresh (General Editor). New Delhi: Manohar, for the Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 453–459. ISBN 9788173040917.
- Judge, Paramjit S.; Bal, Gurpreet (1996). Strategies of social change in India. M.D. Publications. p. 54. ISBN 978-81-7533-006-1. Retrieved 2012-03-21.