|Punjabi • Saraiki • Sindhi • Hindi • Gujarati|
|Hinduism • Sikhism|
The Arora is a community of the Punjab region closely related to the Khatri community. Aroras were mainly concentrated in West Punjab in modern Pakistan along the banks of the Indus River and its tributaries; in the Malwa region in East Punjab in India, although not greatly in what became the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from 1901; in Sindh (mainly as Sindhi Aroras but there were many Punjabi and Multani speaking Aroras as well); in Rajasthan (as Jodhpuri and Nagauri Aroras/Khatris); and in Gujarat. In post-independence India, Aroras mainly reside in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat.
Denzil Ibbetson, who wrote the Report for the Indian census of 1881, notes that "The Aroras are often called Roras in the east of the Panjab". However, he considers the community calling itself Ror to be distinct from the Punjabi Arora, stating that "I can hardly believe that the frank and stalwart Ror is of the same origin as the Arora" even though they shared a common account of their origin. The account was that in the past they had denied their original status in order to avoid persecution, and were in fact "Rajputs who escaped the fury of Paras Ram by stating that their caste was aur or 'another'", from which word their name came.[a]
According to Ibbetson, the belief of the Punjabi community is that in fleeing the persecution there was at some point a bifurcation, with some members moving north and others moving south. From this arose the two major endogamous divisions within the Arora, respectively known as Uttradhi and Dakhna, which in turn had subdivisions. H. A. Rose is more specific, considering this to be the belief of the Arora of Gujarat, who maintain that Paras Ram pushed the community towards Multan, where they founded the town of Arorkot,[b] probably near to the present day Rohri. That town was subsequently cursed and its inhabitants fled in different directions through its north, south and west gates. While Rose agrees with Ibbetson that the Dakhna division is sometimes thought to include a subdivision called Dahra, he states that the Dahra went westwards, rather than south, and that there is also another major division known as the Sindhi of Sindh.
For the purposes of his report on the census, Ibbetson treats the Arora as a separate community from that of the Khatri, although similarly one of the "great mercantile castes". He notes that the Arora claimed to be of Khatri origin, evidenced by their claims to have denied their true origin to avoid persecution, but that the Khatri themselves rejected this. Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya, writing in 1896, goes further and states that only the Arora believe this connection to be true. However, a more recent commentator, Scott Cameron Levi, believes that they are a "sub-caste of the Khatris".
Occupation and demographics
The Aroras settled in Amritsar during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or even earlier. It is presumed that they migrated from Sindh or Multan to Lahore, and then to Amritsar. This is inferred from the fact that, after a very long stay in the central Punjab, they ceased to speak their Lahnda dialect. The Arora Sikhs are mostly found in big towns, especially in Amritsar. They were living there even before independence. Their Hindu counterparts, the majority of whom migrated from Pakistan, arrived in India in 1947. Aroras not only have survived but have prospered. The Amritsar Gazetteer claims Aroras are very energetic and intelligent. They are mostly engaged in trade and industry. They are superior in business acumen to their counterparts settled in the district. A good number of them have also joined public and private services. The Hoshiarpur Gazetteer says
Before independence, the Aroras did not constitute a sizeable population in the district. With the migration of the non-Muslim population from Pakistan to India in 1947, they settled here, though in small numbers. The Aroras were generally settled in West Punjab (Pakistan) and in the Firozepur District. Their representation in the eastern districts of the Punjab was not notable. According to Ibbetson, the Aroras are the Khatris of Ror (Rori Sukkur, Sindh, in Pakistan). Whatever be their origin, the fact is that they resemble Khatirs in certain traits. In certain respects, they are even superior to them. They are also divided into many groups and castes, Uchanda, Nichanda, etc., but in social life, these groups are of no importance. They intermarry in their groups like others. They also intermarry among Khatris. In the All-India meeting in 1936, held by the Khatris at Lahore (Pakistan), it was decided that the Aroras, Soods and Bhatias were Khatri for all intents and purposes. And, as such, they should be admitted to the Khatri stock. This interpretation did not find much favour then, but with the lapse of time, it has almost been accepted.
Before the independence, Aroras used to marry only among their sub-group i.e. Uttradhi, Dakkhna or Dahra and members of the same geographic region. But after the independence, spheres of permissible arranged matrimonial alliances were widened to others of Punjabi origin.
- Ibbetson (1916), pp. 178, 251
- Ibbetson (1916), p. 251
- Rose (1911), p. 17
- Ibbetson (1916), p. 214
- Bhattacharya (1896), p. 140
- Levi (2002), p. 107
- "Religions And Castes". District Gazetteer - Amritsar. Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management, Government of Punjab. 1976. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
- Chapter Iii
- Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath (1896), Hindu castes and sects: an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems, Calcutta: Thacker, Spink
- Ibbetson, Denzil (1916), Panjab castes; being a reprint of the chapter on "The races, castes and tribes of the people" in the report on the census of the Panjab published in 1883 by the late Sir Denzil Ibbetson, Punjab: Government Printing Press, retrieved 2011-10-23
- Levi, Scott Cameron (2002), The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550–1900, Leiden: BRILL, ISBN 978-90-04-12320-5, retrieved 2011-10-23
- Rose, H. A, (1911), A Glossary of The Tribes & Castes of The Punjab & North West Frontier Province, II, Lahore: Samuel T. Weston, retrieved 2011-10-23