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History and origin
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The Merat (Merat-ghodat Kathat) is an ancient Rajput community and descendant of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan III from the Merwara area of the Ajmer District in Rajasthan state, India. Languages of the community, including the diaspora, are Marwari and Hindi The Mehrat are the descendants of Rao Meraji Chauhan. According to the recorded history in local bards Rao Meraji had two sons - Kunwar Harraj ji Chauhan and Kunwar durraj ji Chauhan. Both of the brothers were employed by the Delhi Sultan in his army who impressed by their bravery and skills awarded the title of Katha (Katha means strong and steadfast) to Harrajji and Ghoda to Durraj ji (Ghoda means horse as Gajraj ji had unmatched horse riding skills). The descendants of Katha (Harrajji Chauhan) came to be known as Kathat-Mehrats and the descendants of Ghoda (Gajrj ji Chauhan) came to be known as Ghodat-Mehrats. As both the brothers were in company of the Gori ruler of malwa kings uring[clarification needed] region of akbar and was awarded the honorary title of katha in view of their bravery and warfare and excellence. but during the British rule they stopped marrying with rawats and hence no marriage between rawats and rajputs are practised. On the other hand, the Mehrat-Kathats usually dharam poots have continued to follow the practices of Hinduism and marry dharampoots of rawats and later due to reinforcement work was done by Jamat activists. As a result, the Rawat-Rajputs who have had marital relations with the kathats up to the middle of the 19th century, in a community meeting severed the marital ties with the Kathats.
Mehra ji had four sons - Karnaji, Jodhaji, Gajiji and Happa ji.
Karnaji built the fort of Chang. As the eldest son of Harraj ji the head of the Karnawat clan (known as Karna ji ki daang among Kathatas) is the titular head of all the Kathats. The present Thakur of Chang is Thakur Kalu Khan.
Jodha ji built the fort of Borwa. Gaji ji built the fort of Shyamgarh. It is the most famous village of Mehrats historically. The ancient ruins of the first settlement can still be viewed in the former autonomous region of Beawar (1835), including domestic and military structures. It was acceded by Britain after Merat warriors’ successive victories in battle over occupying troops of the British Army. Three noted Muslim customs of the Merat are: circumcision, halal butchering, and Islamic burial rites proves beyond doubt that are following Islam. Mass conversion programs were started by VHP and other saffron groups but in vain.
The Merat are composed of four exogamous sub-divisions, known as dangs. The dang are arranged in hierarchy, with those descended from younger siblings having a lower status. So the dang of Chang village, descended from Karnaji, have the highest status. Each dang is headed by a patel, and there is no marriage within the dang. They also claim to be related to the Rawat, as one of the ancestors of the tribe Harraj, or Kathaji, was the brother of Goraji, the ancestor of the Rawat.
The Merat speak Marwari among themselves, and Urdu and Hindi with outsiders. Like other North Indian communities, they have a well-organised council of elders. Each village has its own council of elders who settle disputes within the community over land or theft. These councils often impose fines on those who commit acts which are seen to transgress the local norms. The dang are headed by tikayats, who sit on these councils, and the tikayat of the Chang dang heads the caste councils. The Merat are a community of farmers, but their landholdings are extremely small. Many Merat are daily wage labourers. The Merwara region also suffers from drought.
The Merat, unlike other Rajput communities of Rajasthan, such as the Qaimkhani, Meo, Sindhi-Sipahi and Rath, have maintained a culture which is hybrid of Muslim and Hindu traditions. Until recently, marriages took place with the Rawat, a neighbouring Hindu community, but now they either marry within remaining dangs or into cheetahs of ajmer. The Merat visit the Lake Pushkar on the Kartik Poornima, as well as the famous Muslim shrine of Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer. However, in the last decade, a large number of madarsas and mosques were built in the ajmer-beawar region.
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 641 to 646 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandl & N.N Vyas page 642 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 641 to 643 Popular Prakashan
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 645 Popular Prakashan