|Regions with significant populations|
The Mirshikar are a Muslim community, found in North India who were traditionally hunters and trappers of birds and small animals. This should not be confused with the title of the same name used for the high position of "chief huntsman" in the courts of Persian and Mughal rulers.
History and origin
The word Mirshikar is a combination of two Urdu words, mir meaning lord and shikar meaning a hunt, and their name means a leader of a hunting party. They are mostly concentrated in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar pradesh. The Mirshikar speak a dialect which is a combination of Urdu and Hindi. Mirshikars in Bihar hunt both by day and night and work alongside other trapper communities like the Mallahas. In some parts of Uttar Pradesh the tribe name is reduced to maskar.
In one Mirshikar community in Bihar, young men needed to prove themselves fit for marriage by catching a loha sarang, the black-necked stork known for being vicious. The practice was stopped when a boy was killed in the process.
Ali Hussain from a mirshikar community in Manjhaul in Begusarai is acclaimed for his work as a bird trapper for the Bombay Natural History Society. He worked with Salim Ali and many other ornithologists to aid the marking and study of birds. In 1998 he was flown to Jackson County, Mississippi and during his 1-week visit, he demonstrated his clap-trap and noose-trap techniques and helped capture 10% of the sandhill crane population of Mississippi. His method is now a standard in crane research. In 1998, the Indian government Films Division recorded a documentary featuring Ali Hussain.
The Mirshikar are scattered are across Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They are an endogamous community, marrying close kin. The majority are landless agricultural labourers. There has also been a steady emigration of the Mirshikar to other states of India, where many are now found. A few are also involved in the manufacture of bamboos flute.Just like other Muslim community in India they are also an extremely marginalized community, with a poor literacy rates. The Mirshikar are Sunni Muslims, and are fairly orthodox.
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