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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Ghirth (घिर्थ) is a Jat community found in Himachal Pradesh. Ghirth is a pahari word and Chang is a Punjabi word. Presently this community is known as Choudhary peoples of Himachal Pradesh. The Ghirth, including the Chahang and Bahti, are classified among the Other Backward Classes by the government of India.[1] The Ghirth, Chahang, Bahti Mahasabha, established in 1932, represents the interests of these three communities.[2]


Folk etymology derives Ghirth from ghi, because Shiv made them out of ghi.[3]


Jat clans

There are several jat gotras in this community like:

Badiar, Bhati, Chang, Kaundal, Kondal, Kundhal, Nara, Rard, Sial


H.A. Rose[4] writes that Folk etymology derives Ghirth from ghi, because Shiv made them out of ghi. In Hoshiarpur Ghirths are called Bahti. In Hindustan they are called Kurmi. Chang is the Punjabi name, and Ghirth the Pahari word.

H.A. Rose[5] writes....Ghirth (घिर्थ). — The Ghirths fill much the same position in Kangra proper and the hills below it as do the Kanets in the parts to tho east. They correspond also to the Bahti in the eastern and the Chang in the western portion of the lower ranges. All three intermarry freely, and were considered by Sir James Lyall as identical. The Ghirths of Kangra and Hoshiarpur were thus described by Barnes : —

" My previous remarks (sec Rathi) will have introduced the reader to the Ghirths. They form a considerable item in the copulation of these hills, and in actual numbers exceed any other individual caste. With the Ghirths I have associated the few Jats that reside in this district, and the Changs, which is only another name for Ghirths, prevalent about Haripur and Nurpur. They amount altogether to 111,507 souls. The Ghirths are sub-divided into numerous sects. There is a common saying that there are 360 varieties of rice, and that the sub-divisions of the Ghirths are equally extensive, the analogy arising from the Ghirths being the usual cultivators of rice. The Ghirths predominate in the valleys of Palam, Kangra, and Rihlu. They are found again in the Hal Dun, or Haripur valley.

These localities are the strongholds of the caste, although they are scattered elsewhere in every portion of the district, and generally possess the richest lands and the most open spots in the hills. The open valleys, although containing the finest lands, are also the only accessible portions of the hills. The more relined castes preferred the advantages of privacy and seclusion, although accompanied by a sterner soil and diminished returns. They abandoned the fertile valleys to less fastidious classes, whose women were not ashamed to be seen nor to work in the fields, and the men were not degraded by being pressed as porters.

The Ghirths are a most indefatigable and hard-working race. Their fertile lands yield double crops, and they are incessantly employed during the whole year in the various processes of agriculture. In addition to the cultivation of their fields, the Ghirth women carry wood, vegetables, mangoes, milk and other products to the markets for sale ; many sit half the day wrangling with customers until their store is disposed of. The men are constantly seized for begar, or forced labour, to carry travellers' loads, or to assist in the various public buildings in course of construction. From these details it will be perceived that the Ghirths have no easy time of it, and their energies and powers of endurance must be most elastic to boar up against this incessant toil.

To look at their frames, they appear incapable of sustaining such fatigue. The men are short in stature, frequently disfigured by goitre (which equally affects both sexes), dark and sickly in complexion, and with little or no hair on their faces. Both men and women have coarse features, more resembling the Tartar physiognomy than any other type, and it is rare to see a handsome face, though sometimes the younger women may be called pretty. Both sexes are extremely addicted to spirituous drinks. Although industrious cultivators, they are very litigious and quarrelsome ; but their disputes seldom lead to blows ; and though intemperate they are still thrifty, — a Ghirth seldom waste? his substance in drink. In their dealings with one another they are honest and truthful, and altogether their character, though not so peaceable and manly as the Rathi, has many valuable and endearing traits. The Ghirths do not wear the janeo or thread of caste. They take money for their daughters, but seldom exchange them, The younger brother takes his brother's widow ; if she leave his protection, he was entitled by the law of the country to her restitution, and under us he should at all events receive money compensation."

The Ghirth septs

The Ghirths are said to be of Kshatriya origin. They are essentially gricultural, and the proverb says : — " As the rice bends in the ear the Ghirth lifts his head." Their social position is low. "You can no more make a saint of a Ghirth than expect chastity of a buffalo," and they practise widow marriage, for " You can't make a Ghirthni a widow, any more than you can turn a hill buffalo into a barren cow."

Folk etymology derives Ghirth from ghi, because Shiv made them out of ghi. In Hoshiarpur Ghirths are called Bahti.* In Hindustan they are called Kurmi. Chang is the Punjabi name, and Ghirth the Pahari word.

The Ghirths have few large sub-divisions. The eight largest are the Kandal, Bhardwaj, Pathari, Chhabru, Reru, Badial, Chhora, and Bhattu.

Bhardwaj (a Brahtninical gotra), is also found as an al among the Brahmans of Chamba. Chhabru is found only in Hoshiarpur, and Chhora and Bhattu only in Kangra. The others occur in both Districts. But the Ghirths say that they have a large number of als or septs — 360 in all. A great part of these are named after villages. Others are named after trades, occupations, etc., etc. A very few are possibly totemistic in origin.

Among these septs occur the following names :—

A. — Names of animals or plants : —

(1) Dhare, fruit of the wild fig.
(2) Ghora, horse.
(3) Khunla, a kind of bird.
(4) Gidar, jackal,
(5) Gadohari, a kind of bird.
(6) Garuri, 'an animal like a pig-'

B. — Names of occupations or nick -names : —

(]) Surangiala, miner.
(2) Nande, nandhi, dumb.
(3) Mormar, peafowl-hunter.
(4) Jokhnu, weighman,
(5) Paniari, paniārd, water-man.
(6) Masand, long-haired (said to be its meaning).
(7) Lakria, woodman.
(8) Ghora, jockey.
(9) Hariala, born on the Rihāli or 3rd Bhadon.
(10) Saini, vegetable-seller,
(11) Hutla, stammerer.
(12) Khangar, khansi, a cough.
(13) Lahu, charred or burnt.
(14) Topa, bought for a topa or 2 seers of grain.
(15) Kumhar, potter.
(16) Naul, neola.
(17) Pathrala, founded by a leaf-seller (patta,leaf).

C. — Names of colours :—

(1) Kala, black.
(2) Kahra, red-brown.
(3) Nila, blue.

* Bauhtia appears to be a variant of Bahti. Possibly, this suggests, Bahti means simply 'ploughman.'
According to the account of the Ghirths compiled by the late Mr. A. H. Gunter, C.S., the Brahmanical-gotras are preserved but each comprises a number of als, e.g.,
the Kundal got(ra) includes the Chang, Sial, Thetar and Tholi zāts (= als),
the Konsal got includes the Panihari,
the Tul got the Pataku al, and
the Kasab the Katti.

The gots, it is distinctly stated, are named after common ancestors 'who were rishis.'

Ghirth observances

D. (1) Khera, founded by a woman whose child was born under a kher tree.

(2) Banyanu, founded by a woman whose child was born under a ban or oak.
(3) Daddā, founded by a woman whose child was born near a bamboo and laid on the tree.
(4) Khunlā,, an animal of some kind. The name was given to a child as a token of affection. Hence his descendants are still called by the name.
(5) Ladhdriā, from ladhār, a kind of tree.
(6) Ghurl, a wild goat ; so called because its progenitor cried like one.
(7) Khajurā, date-palm (cf. the Nagarkotia Brahman al of this name) ; so-called because its founder was born under a date-palm.
(8) Khattā, from khattā a kind of tree : for a similar reason.

Other exogamous sections (gots) are Balaru, Banjara, Barol, Chakotra, Bhut, Dialu, Hangaria, Jalarich, Kaṭhe, Narotra, Panjla, Panyau, Panyaria, Sākṛe, Sial, Thimbu, Thirku, etc., all of unknown derivation.

The Ghirth social observances are typical of the usages among all the Hindu castes of the Kangra Hills and not as peculiarly characteristic of the Ghirths. They resemble generally those in vogue among the Gaddis of Kangra, but the local variations appear to be endless.

हिमाचल का जाट कबीला - घिर्थ

घिर्थ हिमाचल का जाट कबीला है जिससे ज्यादातर लोग अनजान है। यहाँ घिर्थ के संबंध में एचए रॉस के अंग्रेजी विवरण से कुछ तथ्य दे रहे हैं। घिर्थ एक पहाड़ी शब्द है जिसका मतलब घृत यानि घी से है। यह समाज मूल रूप से जाट है जो 700 वर्ष पहले राजस्थान , पंजाब से पहाड़ी क्षेत्र में आकर बस गए। जेम्स लिप्पिन ल्याल पेज 640 पर लिखते है कि पहाड़ी क्षेत्र में जाट लोगों को घिर्थ बोला जाता है जिसका कारण उनका अधिक मात्रा में घी का सेवन करना है। इसलिए इनको घी अहारी यानि घिरथ बोला जाता है | हिमाचल के चौधरी घिरथ कहे जाते हैं। जबकि सम्पूर्ण भारत वर्ष में चौधरी जाटों का पर्यायवाची माना जाता है। घिरथ लोग भी अपनी उत्पत्ति भगवान शिव से मानते हैं क्योंकि हिन्दुओं के पवित्र ग्रन्थ देव संहिता में जाटों की उत्पत्ति शिव से बताई गयी है। अपने मैदानी जाट (जट्ट) भाइयों की तरह यह पहाड़ी जाट भी एक उत्तम कृषक और बहादुर सैनिक है। इन में औरतों को जाटों के सम्मान पूजनीय स्थान प्राप्त है इसलिए यह विधवाः होने पर जाटों की तरह पुनः विवाह कर देते हैं जोकि इनके जाट क्षत्रिय होने का प्रमाण है। पंजाब में राजा महाराजा जाट (जट्ट) ही हुए हैं। इन वीर जाटों ने मोहम्मद तुगलक के कराचील यानि नगरकोट के हमले को नाकाम किया। हिमाचल में चौधरी के 360 गोत्र हैं जो काँगड़ा , ऊना और उस से लगते पंजाब के होशियारपुर में निवास करते है | इनके सम्पूर्ण गोत्र जाट समाज से मिलते हैं। पूर्वी भाग में इनको बाहति, पक्ष्चिम में चांग/चाहंग बोलते हैं| यह चाहंग शब्द मूल रूप से चाहड़ है जो जाटों का गोत्र है जिसको ब्रज क्षेत्र में चाहर तो पंजाब में चाहल बोलते हैं। इनके 8 मुख्य भाग -

  • 1 कुण्डल /कोंडल - राजस्थान के टोंक और जयपुर जिलों के 28 से ज्यादा गामो में है 1881 में हिमाचल में इनकी जनसँख्या 24,392 थी
  • 2.भादू /भरद्वाज -जिसके गाम सम्पूर्ण भारत में 100 से ज्यादा हैं इनकी 1881 में आबादी 8330 थी
  • 3. पाथरी - इस गोत्र क जाट मध्यप्रदेश और राजस्थान में है हिमाचल में इनके 3091 आबादी थी
  • 4. छाबरु /छाबा - इस गोत्र के 60 गाम राजस्थान में हैं 1881 में हिमाचल में इनकी 2717 आबादी थी
  • 5. रेडू - यह गोत्र हरयाणा और पंजाब में बहुत मिलता है हिमाचल में यह 1881 में 2532 थे
  • 6. बढियाल यह गोत्र [बैदवान/ बडियार भी बोला जाता है जिसके 70 गाम हैं इनकी 1881 में 2058 आबादी थी
  • 7 छोड़ा - इनकी 1881 में 1695 आबादी थी
  • 8 बट्टू /भट्टू यह गोत्र पंजाब के जट्ट लोगो में और हरयाणा के जट्ट लोगों में बहुत संख्या में है इनकी 1881 में 1122 आबादी थी

जाटों (जट्टों ) और हिमाचल के चौधरीओं के समान गोत्र की कुछ सूची नीचे दी गयी है, लगभग 100% गोत्र पंजाबी और हरियाणवी जाटों के है:

Distribution in Himachal Pradesh

This community mainly found in Kangra, Hamirpur and Una district of Himachal Pradesh.

Notable persons


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