Open main menu

Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/126

This page needs to be proofread.

division is often a landowner and a first-class fighting man. Some of our strongest Indian civil officials have been Aroras. In the Delhi division the place of the Arora and Khatri is taken by the Bania, and in Kangra by the Slid or the Brahman. Khojas and Parachas are Muhammadan traders.

Artizans and Menials.— Among artizans and menials Sunars (goldsmiths), Rajes (masons), Lohars (blacksmiths), and Tarkhans (carpenters) take the first rank.

Impure Castes.— The vast majority of the impure castes, the " untouchables ,: of the Hindu religion, are scavengers and workers in leather. The sweeper who embraces Islam becomes a Musalli. The SikhMazhbis, who are the descendants of sweeper converts, have done excellent service in our Pioneer regiments. The Hindu of the Pan jab in his avoidance of "untouchables" has never gone to the absurd lengths of the high caste Madras!, and the tendency is towards a relaxation of existing restrictions.

Mendicants.— Men of religion living on charity, wandering fakirs, are common sights, and beggars are met with in the cities, who sometimes exhibit their deformities with unnecessary insistence.

Kashmiris.— According to the census return the number of Kashmiri Musulmans, who make up 60 p.c. of the inhabitants of the Jhelam valley, was 765,442. They are no doubt mostly descendants of various Hindu castes, perhaps in the main of Hill Brahmans, but Islam has wiped out all tribal distinctions. Sir Walter Lawrence wrote of them: "The Kashmiri is unchanged in spite of the splendid Moghal, the brutal Afghan, and the bully Sikh. Warriors and statesmen came and went; but there was no egress, and no wish .... in normal times to leave their homes. The outside world was far, and from all accounts inferior to the pleasant valley .... So