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History and origin
The Ramaiya are a community that are partly Sikh, and partly Muslim. They get their name from the Hindi word ramna, which means to wonder. The community acquired this name on account of the fact that they were salesman, and are said to have belonged to the Bhatra community, a well known Sikh caste of Punjab. Like the Bhatra, they are said to be Kshatriyas. They migrated into Uttar Pradesh in the 17th and 18th Century. The community were originally Sikh, and said to have come from Amritsar. However long residence in Uttar Pradesh has meant that Ramaiya are more properly Nanakshahi, rather than Sikh. A significant number of Ramaiya in the Rohilkhand region have converted to Islam. The Nanakshahi are sub-divided into a number of exogamous clans, known as gotras. Their main gotras are the Bamra, Bank, Barsari, Bhat, Bhatti, Bisati, Dargal, Gajra, Gaur, Gujjar, Hardoiri, Nomain, Radi, Rai, Ranipari, Rathore, Sinha and Sipmatua. While the Muslim branch consists of the following divisions, the Banjara, Rajput and Ramai.
The community were traditionally salesman and village shop keepers. Many are now successful businessmen. They are found mainly in western Uttar Pradesh in the districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad and Jyotiba Phule Nagar. Their main settlements in Bijnor District are Nurpur, Rohunagli, Nahilpur and Hasupur. In Saharanpur District, their main settlement is Chilkhana. Like other North Indian Hindu communities, they maintain strict clan exogamy. While the Muslim section prefers marrying close kin, and practice both parallel cousin and cross cousin marriages. Many Nanakshahi Ramaiya are now orthodox Hindu.
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 336 to 339
- Tribes and castes of Northwestern Provinces and Oudh by William Crooke