|Regions with significant populations|
|• India • Pakistan|
|• Urdu • Hindi • Marwari •|
|• Islam 100% •|
|Related ethnic groups|
|• Salaat • Shaikh of Rajasthan • Khumra|
History and origin
The Silawat were a community historically associated with the occupation of stonemasons and builders. The word Silawat is a corruption of the Sanskrit slipwat, literally signifying a follower of the Hindu god Slip-shastar, who is traditionally associated with the art of architecture. They were also known by the name Sootardhar from the Sanskrit soot meaning a thread, which they kept for measurements.
The Silawat have two major divisions - the Mertia and the Nagauri - so called after the towns of Merta and Nagaur. Both divisions include a large portion of converted Rajputs. But there are also groups such as the Khilji and Behlim, claim Turkic ancestry. This possibly reflects the fact that the Silawat are of a heterogeneous origin, incorporating a number of groups who took to the profession of stonemasons. The community is now bound by the rules of endogamy, and there is also no intermarriage with non Silawats.
During the 19th Century, there was a steady migration of Silawat to the cities of Ahmednagar, Hyderabad in India, Karachi in Pakistan. This laid the foundation of what is now a large community of Silawat in Pakistan. They almost all gave up their traditional occupation as stonemasons, and took to trade.
Mertia Godwad Silawat
The Mertia Silawat have the following clans:
Behlimgauri Silawat === The Nagauri Silawat have the following sub-divisions:
Religion and customs
The Silawat are a Sunni Hanafi Muslim community, with many particular customs, like the making of joyful public announcement by a common man or woman through beating a dish with a spoon or something loudly for making huge sound that can be heard publicly. In Rajasthan, they speak the Marwari dialect of Hindi. Most educated members of the community are also conversant in Urdu. In Sindh, although the community still speaks Marwari, most Silawat now also speak Sindhi, Urdu and English.
The Silawat in India are a strictly endogamous community, practising mainly parallel cousin marriage. They also tend to occupy distinct neighbourhoods in the towns and cities they live in. Each of their settlement also contains an informal caste council, known as a biradari panchayat, which acted as instrument of social control. The Silawat have now set up an India-wide caste association known as the Silawat Anjuman. This acts mainly as a community welfare association.
In Rajasthan, the Silawat are an urban based community, found mainly in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. Smaller communities are also found in the districts of Dangarpur, Udaipur, Ajmer and Nagaur.
In Sindh, the Silawat are concenterated in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. The city of Hyderabad is a particular stronghold of this community. Muhammad Hashim Gazdar, a former Mayor of Karachi belonged to the Silawat community.
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Three edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas Popular Prakashan pages 914 to 916
- The Castes of Marwar by Munshi Hardyal Singh page 211
- The Castes of Marwar by Munshi Hardyal Singh page 212
- i am myself a nagori silawat
- Politics in Sindh, 1907-1940 : Muslim identity and the demand for Pakistan / Allen Keith Jones Oxford University Press
- Muhammad Hashim Gazdar - Dawn