|Populated States||Punjab (India), Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh and Delhi|
Saini ( pronunciation (help·info)) is a caste of North India who were traditionally landowners. Sainis claim to be descendants of a king, Shurasena, as well as of Krishna and Porus, and to be related to the ancient Shoorsaini clan, noted in Puranic literature. This is disputed and the 1901 census noted that people using the Shoorsaini name were by then found only in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. Sainis also claim themselves to be Rajputs of Yaduvanshi descent.
As both a statutory agricultural tribe and a designated martial race during the British Raj era that followed the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Sainis had been chiefly engaged in both agriculture and military service since then until recent times. However, since the independence of India, Sainis have diversified into different trades and professions other than military and agriculture. Sainis are now also seen in increasing numbers as businessmen, lawyers, professors, civil servants, engineers, doctors and research scientists, etc.
Sainis profess in both Hinduism and Sikhism.
They also have a national level organization called Saini Rajput Mahasabha located in Delhi, established in 1920.
During the British period Sainis were classified as both a statutory agricultural tribe and a martial race. The latter was an administrative device based on the now-discredited theories of scientific racism: ethnic communities were categorised as being either martial or non-martial, with the latter being those who were thought to be unfit to serve in armies due to their sedentary lifestyles.
In 1937, the ruler of the princely state of Jodhpur granted the request of the Mali community of Rajputana to be recorded as "Saini" or "Sainik Kshatriya" in official records. as part of the Sanskritisation movement of British India.
Traditionally, Sainis have been married through Vedic ceremonies performed by Brahmins of Sanatani tradition. However, in the 20th century some Hindu families started opting for Arya Samaj based vedic ceremonies and Saini Sikhs started opting for Anand Karaj ritual.
According to the Anthropological Survey of India, "The Saini are endogamous community and observe exogamy at village and gotra level." Remarriage after the death of a spouse is permitted nowadays, as is divorce.
- This article incorporates text from The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia: commercial, industrial and scientific, products of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, useful arts and manufactures, by Edward Balfour, a publication from 1885 now in the public domain in the United States.
- "The Sainis believe that their ancestors were Yadavas and that it was the same lineage in which Krishna was born. In the 43rd generation of the Yadavas there was a king known as Shoor or Sur, the son of King Vidaratha....It was in the name of these, father and son, that the community was known as Shoorsaini or Sursaini." People of India: Haryana, p 430, Kumar Suresh Singh, Madan Lal Sharma, A. K. Bhatia, Anthropological Survey of India, Published by Published on behalf of Anthropological Survey of India by Manohar Publishers, 1994
- "In the Punjab in the sub- mountainous region the community came to be known as 'Saini'. It maintained its Rajput character despite migration." Castes and Tribes of Rajasthan, p 108, Sukhvir Singh Gahlot, Banshi Dhar, Jain Brothers, 1989
- "The members of Saini community are employed in business and white-collar jobs and as teachers, administrators, lawyers, doctors and defence personnel." People of India, National Series Volume VI, India's Communities N-Z, p 3091, KS Singh, Anthropological Survey of India, Oxford University Press, 1998
- People of India: Haryana, p 437, Kumar Suresh Singh, Madan Lal Sharma, A. K. Bhatia, Anthropological Survey of India, Published by Published on behalf of Anthropological Survey of India by Manohar Publishers, 1994
- Rajit K. Mazumder (2003). The Indian army and the making of Punjab. Orient Blackswan. pp. 99, 105, 205. ISBN 978-81-7824-059-6. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Rand, Gavin (March 2006). "Martial Races and Imperial Subjects: Violence and Governance in Colonial India 1857–1914". European Review of History (Routledge) 13 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1080/13507480600586726.
- Streets, Heather (2004). Martial Races: The military, race and masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857-1914. Manchester University Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-7190-6962-8. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- History of Hisar: From Inception to Independence, 1935–1947, p 312, M. M. Juneja, Published by Modern Book Co., 1989
- Order No. 2240, Jodhpur, 6 February 1937, D.M.Field, Chief Minister, Government of Jodhpur, Jodhpur State Archives
- People of India, National Series Volume VI, India's Communities N-Z, p 3090, KS Singh, Anthropological Survey of India, Oxford University Press, 1998