Lohana

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Lohanas
Regions with significant populations
• India • Pakistan • United Kingdom • East Africa
Languages
Primarily Gujarati, Kutchi, Sindhi, Punjabi and Hindi. Also local languages in diaspora countries.
Religion
Primarily Hinduism. Those who converted to Islam are referred to as Kataria, Memons and Khojas and are now separate independent communities.
Related ethnic groups
Gujarati peopleSindhi peopleKhojaMemon

The Lohana, also referred to as Luvana and Luhana, are an Indian caste, traditionally largely occupied as merchants.

The Lohanas are divided into three separate cultural groups as a result of centuries apart in different regions. Thus there are significant differences between the culture, language, professions and societies of Gujarati Lohanas, Sindhi Lohanas, Kutchi Lohanas.[1] [2]

History[edit]

Lohana women in western India (c. 1855–1862).
Lohana men in western India (c. 1855–1862).

Although considered to be Vaishya in the Hindu ritual ranking system known as varna, the Lohanas,particularly the ones from Sindh and Kutch, favour a mythical origin as members of the Kshatriya varna.[3]

In the 7th century, there was a Buddhist ruler named Agham Lohana[4] ruled a part of Sindh and was Governor of Brahmanabad and contemporary of Chach of Alor. Agham Lohana is referred to in Chach Nama and the city of Agham Kot is said to be named after him. Even the sea around was known as Lohana Darya (Darya means Sea).[5] Chach of Alor killed Agham Lohana in battle of Brahmanand and married his widow and also married his niece to Agham's son Sirhind.[citation needed] Further, Chach is said to have laid restrictions of Lohana and Jat tribes from wearing headgear and carrying weapons. He further placed upon the Jat and Lohana restrictions such as:[6]

  • Forbidding them riding horses with saddles
  • Forbidding them from wearing silk or velvet
  • Forbidding them from wearing headgear or footwear
  • Forcing them to wear black or red scarves

Gujarati and Kutchi Lohanas[edit]

Gujarati Lohanas are those having ancestry in Saurashtra and speak Gujarati as their mother-tongue.[7] Kutchi Lohanas speak Kutchi as their mother-tongue and are native to Kutch.[8]

Sindhi Lohanas[edit]

Sindh fell under the Muslim rule of Muhammad bin Qasim after defeat of Dahir. Its Hindus were increasingly pressured to convert to Islam. It was around this time that Uderolal - a Sindhi Hindu Lohana also known as Jhulelal, Dariyalal and Jinda Pir - assumed the mantle of Lohana and Hindu leadership. Today Uderolal is revered by both Sindhis and Sufis, thus both Hindus and Muslims visit the site of his samadhi. For two centuries after him, Lohanas took samadhi and lived without fear until, again, they found themselves being increasingly threatened and persecuted in Sindh due to their Hindu identity. It was then that they began to migrate mainly towards Kutch and Saurashtra.[9][10]

Sindhi Lohanas have since been divided into several groups, among which are:[11]

  • Amils: generally involved in clerical jobs in government offices, as working in posts of revenue collectors and other senior positions
  • Bhaibands: mainly involved in trade and commerce and so mostly merchants.The community was involved in international and trade in interior of Sindh even before the arrival of the British. They also played an important part in the development of the city of Karachi[12]
  • Sahitis: placed somewhere between Amils and Bhaibands, they could be either in government service or traders

Society and culture[edit]

Lohanas largely follow Hindu rituals and worship Hindu deities such as Shiva.They worship avatars of Vishnu such as Rama with his consort Sita and Krishna in the form of Shrinathji.They worship Shakti in the form of Ravirandal Mataji, and Ambika.The 19th century saints Jalaram Bapa, and Swaminarayan also attract many Lohana devotees.Their main clan deities are Veer Dada Jashraj, Harkor, Sindhvi Shree Sikotar Mata and Dariyalal.The Sun is also worshipped by the community.[9]

Lohana celebrate all festivals that are other Gujarati Hindu community such as Diwali, Navratri and Holi. They also celebrate the birthday of 19th-century saint Jalaram.[citation needed]

Formation of Khoja and Memon Islamic communities[edit]

The community's oral history says that the decline of their kingdom began after the death of Veer Dada Jashraj. It also says that their name derives from the city of Lohargadh (/Lohanpur/Lohkot) in Multan, from which they migrated in the 13th century after the establishment of Muslim rule there.[9]

Pir Sadardin converted some Lohanas to the Shia Ismaili Nizari sect of Islam in the 15th century. As Lohanas were worshippers of Shakti, the emergence of a devotional Ismaili oral tradition that incorporated indigenous conceptions of religion, known as ginans, played a role in the forming of a new ethnic caste-like grouping.[13] This group came to be known as Khojas (from Khawaja), a title given by Sadardin,[14] that would predominantly merge into what is now understood as the Nizari Ismaili branch of Shia Islam.[13]

In 1422, Jam Rai Dan was tribal leader in Sindh during the Samma Dynasty; he was converted to Islam by Sayad Eusuf-ud-Din and he adopted a new name Makrab Khan. At that time a person named Mankeji was head of 84 nukhs of Lohanas, who were in favour in court of that Samma king. He was persuaded by ruler and the Qadri to convert to Islam. However, not all Lohanas were ready to convert from Hinduism.[10] But 700 Lohana families comprising some 6,178 persons converted in Thatta, Sindh. These are now known as Memons (from Momins).[10][dubious ]

Diaspora[edit]

Thousands of Hindu Gujaratis left India between 1880 - 1920 and migrated to British colonies in the African Great Lakes region of Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika. At that time there was already a bustling merchant class diaspora of Gujarati Muslims.[15] A significant number of these came from the Patidar and Lohana communities.[16]

The Lohana migrants to East Africa, of which there were 40,000 in 1970,[17] came mainly from the Saurashtran cities of Jamnagar and Rajkot.[18] Many Lohanas set up businesses in those countries, two of the most successful being those set up by Nanji Kalidas Mehta and Muljibhai Madhvani.[19][20]

In the later part of 20th century, following the independence of British colonies, and particularly after Idi Amin's expulsion order for South Asians in 1972, most Lohanas moved to the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent to United States and Canada.[21] In the UK, the highest concentration of Lohanas and other Gujarati Hindu communities is around the West London suburbs of Wembley and Harrow, and the city of Leicester in the East Midlands region of England.[22],[23] In 1979, there were 30,000 Lohanas in Britain.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh. India's Communities. p. 2011. 
  2. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh. India's Communities. p. 2011. 
  3. ^ Falzon, Mark-Anthony (2004). Cosmopolitan Connections: The Sindhi Diaspora, 1860-2000. Leiden: BRILL. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9789004140080. 
  4. ^ Vinayak Vaidya, Chintaman (1979). History of mediaeval Hindu India, Volume 1. Cosmo Publications. pp. 161–163. 
  5. ^ HISTORY OF SIND. VOLUME II. (IN TWO PARTS.) Part II—Giving the reigns of the Kalhórahs and the Tálpurs down to the British Conquest.
  6. ^ The Chach-nama. English translation by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Delhi Reprint, 1979.
  7. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh. India's Communities. p. 2011. 
  8. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh. India's Communities. p. 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c Lachaier, Pierre. Firmes et entreprises en Inde: la firme lignagère dans ses réseaux (in French). pp. 70–73. 
  10. ^ a b c Engineer, Asgharali (1989). The Muslim communities of Gujarat: an exploratory study of Bohras, Khojas, and Memons. Ajanta Publications. pp. 42–44. 
  11. ^ Falzon, Mark-Anthony. Cosmopolitan connections: the Sindhi diaspora, 1860-2000. pp. 34, 35. 
  12. ^ Askari, Sabiah (2013). Studies on Karachi: Papers Presented at the Karachi Conference 2013. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 55, 65–66. ISBN 978-1-44387-744-2. 
  13. ^ a b Asani, Ali S. (2001-07-01). "The Khojahs of South Asia: Defining a Space of their Own". Cultural Dynamics. 13 (2): 155–168. doi:10.1177/092137400101300202. ISSN 0921-3740. 
  14. ^ Nanji, Azim (April 1979). The Nizari Ismaili Tradition in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent. Delmar, NY: Caravan Books. ISBN 9780882060200. 
  15. ^ Oonk, G.. (2004). "The Changing Culture of Hindu Lohanas in East Africa" (PDF). Contemporary Asians Studies. 13: 83–97. 
  16. ^ Herbert, J. (2004). Contested terrains: negotiating ethnic boundaries in the city of Leicester since 1950 (Doctoral dissertation, History). p. 25. 
  17. ^ Gregory, Robert G. (1992). The rise and fall of philanthropy in East Africa : the Asian contribution. New Brunswick, U.S.A.: Transaction Publishers. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-56000-007-5. 
  18. ^ Kalka, I. (1986). A case study of urban ethnicity: Harrow Gujaratis (Doctoral dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom) (PDF). p. 74. 
  19. ^ Gregory, Robert (1992). The Rise and Fall of Philanthropy in East Africa: The Asian's Contribution. p. 53. 
  20. ^ Bennett, Charles Joseph (1976). Persistence Amid Adversity:The Growth and Spatial Distribution of the Asian Population of Kenya, 1902-1963. Syracuse University. p. 182. Probably the success of the most prominent Lohana families in Uganda, Nanji Kalidas Mehta and Sons, M. P. Madhvani and D. K. Hindocha had much influence on Lohana migration from Porbandar and Jamnagar 
  21. ^ Burghart, Richard. Hinduism in Great Britain: the perpetuation of religion in an alien cultural. 
  22. ^ Thompson, Linda (2000). Young bilingual children in nursery schools. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-1853594540. 
  23. ^ Firth, Shirley (1997). Dying, death and bereavement in a British Hindu community. Leuven: Peeters. p. 21. ISBN 978-90-6831-976-7. 
  24. ^ Kalka, I. (1986). A case study of urban ethnicity: Harrow Gujaratis (Doctoral dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom) (PDF). p. 79. 

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