Chura or Bhanghi is a caste in India and a tribe in Pakistan. Populated regions include the Punjab region. Their traditional occupation is sweeping, a "polluting" occupation that caused them to be considered untouchables outside the caste system.
Churas in Indian Punjab are largely followers of Sikhism or Hinduism. A large numbers outside Punjab also practice Valmikism, an offshoot [full citation needed][need quotation to verify] form of mainstream Hinduism.[page needed] In Pakistani Punjab 90-95% of its Christian population are from the Chura caste.
Despite placing great emphasis on social equality and brotherhood among all Muslims, Islam did not address the problem of untouchability for the Churas or Bhangis. As a result, only a very few members from this community ever embraced Islam, most converting to Christianity. Churas adopted the externals of Islam by keeping Muslim names, observing Ramadan and burial of the dead. However they never underwent circumcision. Only a few cases of circumcision have ever been recorded for Churas or Bhangis and these were Churas who lived very near Jama Masjid. The Churas did not accept Mohammed as their prophet and also continued observing traditional Hindu festivals, such as Diwali, Raki and Holi. Just like their Hindu brethren they continued with their traditional caste work. In India the caste system was fully observed by Muslims. Untouchability was fully accepted and justified by the Muslim Orthodoxy in India and the caste system was fully observed by Muslim society. In the same way that Hindu Churas who were barred from entrance to temples in historical times, Muslim Churas are still today barred from entrance to mosques and never allowed to go past the outside steps to Muslim religious places. Untouchability in Islam even extended after death; Churas were to bury their dead in separate graveyards away from other Muslims.
In Punjab Churas who follow Hinduism are known as Valmikis
- Sharma, Rana (1995). Bhangi, Scavenger in Indian Society: Marginality, Identity, and Politicization of the Community. M. D. Publications. p. 17. ISBN 978-8-18588-070-9.
- Phan, P.C. (2011). Christianities in Asia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 25. ISBN 1405160896.
- Bodley, J. H. (2011). Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System (5th ed.). Rowman Altamira. p. 315.
- "Census" (PDF).
- Leslie, J. (2003). Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0754634302.
- Sharma, Rana (1995). Bhangi, Scavenger in Indian Society: Marginality, Identity, and Politicization of the Community. M.D. Publications. p. 128. ISBN 978-8-18588-070-9.
- Leslie, J.(2003) Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki. Ashgate publishing. ISBN 0754634302
- Cox, Jeffrey (2002). Imperial Fault Lines: Christianity and Colonial Power in India, 1818-1940. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-80474-318-1.
- Harding, Christopher (2008). Religious Transformation in South Asia : The Meanings of Conversion in Colonial Punjab: The Meanings of Conversion in Colonial Punjab. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19156-333-1.
- Hunt, Sarah Beth (2014). Hindi Dalit Literature and the Politics of Representation. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-31755-952-8.
- Kumar, Ashutosh, ed. (2012). Rethinking State Politics in India: Regions Within Regions. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13670-400-0.
- Kuortti, Joel; Valmīki, Omaprakasa (2003). Joothan: A Dalit's Life. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-8-18560-463-3.
- Mukherjee, Mridula (2004). Peasants in India's Non-Violent Revolution: Practice and Theory. SAGE. ISBN 978-0-76199-686-6.
- Shyamlal (1992). The Bhangi: A Sweeper Caste, Its Socio-economic Portraits : with Special Reference to Jodhpur City. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-8-17154-550-6.
- Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E., eds. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19969-930-8.