From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Bharai are a Muslim community found in India and Pakistan. They are settled in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in India. While in Pakistan they have settled in Punjab province and in Karachi. They are also known as Parahin and in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharai are also commonly known as Sheikh Sarwari.[1][2]


The Bharai were traditionally priests of the Sultani sect, a syncrethic sect with combined elements of Hinduism and Islam. The Sultanis were followers of the Sufi saint Sultan Sakhi Sarwar of Dera Ghazi Khan in what is now Pakistan. Most Sultanis were members of the Hindu Jat community, but the Bharai were always Muslim, and belonged either to the Jat or Rajput castes. The Jat Bharai claim descent from one Garba Jat, a Hindu attendant at the shrine of Sakhi Sarwar, who said to have been instructed by the Sakhi Sarwar to convert to Islam in a dream. There are various theories as to the origin of the word Bharai. According to early 20th Century British ethnographers such as Sir Denzil Ibbetson and Horace Arthur Rose, the name Bharai was a distortion of the word chauki bharna or those who keep a vigil. According to other sources, the Bharai get their name from Punjabi and Hindi word bhadai, which means to welcome. They are said to have acquired this name on account of one of their traditional occupation, which to sing and beat drums on various ceremonial occasions for their client families.[3]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Bharai are now mainly settled agriculturists, although many are still involved in their traditional occupation of drum beating, and are often invited to cattle fairs and other public events, as well as private ceremonies such as weddings. Many Bharai are involved in rearing cattle, ands the community are considered fairly skilled in this activity. Important subsidiary occupation includes service in the army, police and forestry service.[4]

Although Sunni, the Bharai still pay special reverence to Sultan Sakhi Sarwar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 102 to 105 Manohar
  2. ^ People of India Himachal Pradesh Volume XXIV by B.R Sharma and A.B Sankhyan Manohar 1996 pages 88 to 91
  3. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab Volume II by H. A. Rose pages 84 to 86
  4. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 102 to 105 Manohar