Mali caste

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Malis in western India (c. 1855-1862).

The Mali are an occupational caste found among the Hindus who traditionally worked as gardeners and florists. They also call themselves Phul Mali, who derived their names from their occupation of growing flowers. The Mali are found throughout North India, East India as well as the Terai region of Nepal and Maharashtra.[1] In Maharashtra, Malis have agriculture as their traditional occupation and are categorized under OBC (Other Backward Communities) for reservation purposes[2]


There are many endogamous groups within Malis. Not all Mali groups have the same origin, culture, history or social standing and there is at least one group, namely, Rajput Mali, from Rajasthan that overlaps with Rajputs and was included under the Rajput sub-category in Marwar State Census Report of 1891 CE.[3][a]

Adoption of surname Saini[edit]

1937 Jodhpur State Order in respect of renaming of Mali caste to "Saini" or "Sainik Kshatriya in order to uplift them.". Source: Jodhpur State Archives.[4][5]

The Mali community of Rajasthan and other north Indian states adopted the surname Saini during the 1930s when India was under British colonial rule.[4][6]



  1. ^ The census operations of the British Raj were, however, unreliable.


  1. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Two edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 929 to 932 Manohar Publications
  2. ^ Baviskar, B.S.(Author and Editor); Mathew, George (Editor) (2008). Inclusion and exclusion in local governance : field studies from rural India. London: SAGE. p. 22. ISBN 9788178298603. 
  3. ^ Action sociology and development, pp 198, Bindeshwar Pathak, Concept Publishing Company, 1992
  4. ^ a b "...the Malis (ie gardners who call themselves Saini now).." A Muslim Sub-Caste of North India: Problems of Cultural Integration Partap C. Aggarwal Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Sep. 10, 1966), pp. 159-161, Economic and Political Weekly
  5. ^ Singh, Kumar Suresh; Lavania, B. K.; Samanta, Dipak Kumar; Mandal, S. K.; Vyas, N. N., eds. (1998). People of India: Rajasthan. State series. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, for the Anthropological Survey of India. p. 845. ISBN 9788171547692. 
  6. ^ "At the time of 1941 Census most of them got registered themselves as Saini (Sainik Kshatriya) Malis." pp 7, Census of India, 1961, Volume 14, Issue 5 , Office of the Registrar General, India.