Social customs of Jats

Social customs of Jats

The social customs of Jats are those of Vedic Aryans. All Jats, irrespective of their official or financial positions in life, have equal social status. The only criterion of superiority is age. The Jats are required to marry within their community. Jat marriage ceremonies are traditionally conducted in according with vedic rituals. The Joint family system was popular amongst the Jats and large families use to share the same house and hearth. With the advancement of modern civilization, as people are becoming less dependent upon and less tolerant towards each other, the joint family system is going out of vogue. It is still prevalent in the less advanced areas. [Ram Swarup Joon: History of the Jats, Rohtak, India (1938, 1967)]

Jats differ in two traditions from Rajput community. Firstly they do not wear the sacred thread "janeu". Secondly Jats permit the remarriage of widows. [Mangal sen Jindal (1992): History of Origin of Some Clans in India (with special Reference to Jats), Sarup & Sons, 4378/4B, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110002 ISBN 81-85431-08-6, Page-37, 39]

Jat Marriages

Jat marriage ceremonies are traditionally conducted in according with vedic rituals. The Jats are required to marry within their community. Widow marriage is not only permitted and practiced but is also a social obligation. Widows are looked upon with sympathy and not despised as evil beings .

The Jat people are required to marry within their own people and community. Historical records show from 1000AD, when the population of jats was small and marrying within ones own gotra was not encouraged. However, from about 1650 AD onwards marrying within same gotra became more common. Scholars have reasoned this had to do with the size of the Jat population becoming much bigger and the chances of being related to someone, in the same gotra, became very small. For example the Sidhu-Brar gotra in 1991 was over 3 million strong [1991 Indian Census.] (the size of a small country). The Sidhu-Brar gotra is bigger in population than the following countries Latvia, Mongolia, Republic of Macedonia, Estonia and Slovenia. According to population theorist the chances of someone being related in this gotra is tiny (within 4 generations). The modern day yard stick (check) that Jat people use in marriage now is if the girl and boy do not have the same great-great-grandparents (not related for 4 generations). If they have the same gotra but are not directly related for 4 generations then it is considered acceptable. The ancient gotra marriage rules are rarely used in modern times and someone using them is generally considered backwards (behind the times) by the Jats, it is being replaced by the (4 generations Jat rule). A Jat boy marrying a non- Jat girl though not encouraged or approved, is nevertheless acceptable. A Jat girl marrying a non Jat boy is "taboo" should it happen it is considered a permanent blot of disgrace on the girl's family. The girl's family is rejected by most Jat tribes even her own gotra (the incident is recorded verbally through stories and writings).

Marriage traditions of Jats

Jat marriage ceremonies are traditionally conducted in according with vedic rituals. These rituals have evolved since traditional times and differ in many ways. The Jats attach a lot of importance to weddings and the ceremonies are very colourful and extend for several days. The following steps are involved in a wedding:

* Sagai (Devanagari: सगाई) - Engagement. "Sagai" is an agreement or promise to marry, and also refers to the time between proposal and marriage. In traditional families boy or girl had no say in engagement. That was purely a duty left to parents. Important considerations in the selection is the health, the reputation of the family, and area of the land which the selected family owns for cultivation. This system is changing now-a-days.
* unicode|Aṃgūthī pahanānā (Devanagari: अंगूठी पहनाना) - Engagement ring. When engagement is fixed bridegroom comes with relatives to the house of bride and presents the engagement ring. It is a ring worn by a woman on her left-hand ring finger indicating her engagement to be married. It represents a formal agreement to future marriage.

* Bhāt nūtanā (Devanagari: भात नूतना) - Inviting maternal uncles for bhāt by the mother of bride or groom about a month prior to marriage.

* unicode|Mugdaṇā (Devanagari: मुगदणा) - green and dried twigs of khejri tree brought from farm on a cart on the day of Bān which are worshipped by mother or sister of a boy or girl prior to marriage.

* Bān unicode|baiṭhānā (Devanagari: बान बैठाना) - Ganesha pujan ceremony at the beginning of a marriage.

* Pīthī lagānā (Devanagari: पीठी लगाना) - Paste made of grounded barley, turmeric and ghee used as a fairness cream.

* Banorī (Devanagari: बनोरी) - After the "unicode|Bān baiṭhānā" cetremony the bride or groom do not take food at their home. First meals are at priest's house known as baman "banori". Subsequent meals at close relative's house till marriage.
* Ratijkā (Devanagari: रातिजका) - Keeping awake all night. On the first night prior to marriage all family members sing songs, dance and worship deities without sleeping.
* Mehandī lagānā (Devanagari: मेहन्दी लगाना) - Another name for wedding in India is “hāth pīle karanā” or simply translated, making hands yellow. Mehandi (henna) is applied to the bride’s hands and feet. In the right hand, a round spot is left open for "Hathlewā".

* Khīchaḍī (Devanagari: खीचड़ी) - The function at the time of a boy's marriage in which all relatives and villagers are invited on lunch one day before the phera ceremony, a recipe made of daal and rice, kheechad gotra.

* unicode|Meḷ (Devanagari: मेळ) - gettogether ceremony on previous day of marriage by the side of bridegroom
* Māndā (Devanagari: मांडा) - a pole made of khejadi tree put on the day of marriage of a girl
* Mandap (Devanagari: मंडप) - The wedding is normally conducted under a mandap, a canopy traditionally with four pillars, and an important component of the ceremony is the sacred fire (Agni) that is witness to the ceremony.

* Bhāt (Devanagari: भात) - also called Mayero, maternal uncles bring gifts for the mother.

* Chāk Pūjā (Devanagari: चाक पूजा) - Worship of Potter's wheel. Jats marriages start with the function of Chak Pooja, which means the worship of the potter's wheel. It is done in Jats of all the states. The analysis our marriage customs tells step by step how they evolved and developed these traditions. Now in the history of Gutians in Sumerian civilization we find that the potter's wheel was invented by them and they made it a custom to remember it for generations to come. This still persists in Jats and it indicates the linkages between Jats and the Gutians of Sumer. [ [ The Jat traditions - Chak Pooja] ]
* Sarpech (Devanagari: सरपेंच) - musculine ornament worn in front on the turban. It was often extended into a golden band set with emeralds, rubies, diamonds.

* Barāt nikasī (Devanagari: बरात निकासी) - Departure of wedding procession. The groom leaves for the wedding venue riding a decorated horse. This is a very colorful and grand ceremony. The groom is dressed in a sherwani (long jacket) and 'churidars' (fitted trousers). On his head he wears a 'safa' (turban) with a 'kalgi' (brooch) pinned onto it. Before he departs all his relatives apply the ceremonial 'tilak' on his forehead. The barāt is headed by the dancing of the congregated folks. Accompanied by the rhythm of the north Indian dholak the barāt finally reaches the place of the wedding.

* unicode|Ghuḍ chaḍhī (Devanagari: घुड चढी) - Horseriding. This is a vedic tradition of Jats in which the groom rides a horse and goes to bride's house. It seems to be adopted from vedic times. Jāt word in Latvian language means cavalier. [ [ Ghuddchaddi Aur Chawal Marna] ]

* Chāwal unicode|chaḍhanā (Devanagari: चावल चढाना) - Rice offering. It is an Aryan tradition. Rice is also called as "akshat (अक्षत)" in Sanskrit, which means an unbroken grains of rice known as "pinda". Rice is a very important grain in almost all the rituals in India and also in Foreign Countries. This can be attributed to the fact that rice is the first known food grain to be cultivated and even in india wheat was introduced from the middle east quite later on and as a result rice is the grain used by all the Hindus in their rituals. Rice is a symbol of prosperity. [ [ Ghuddchaddi Aur Chawal Marna] ]

*unicode|Sehḷā (Devanagari: सेळा) - barati's reception ceremony.
* unicode|Toraṇ māranā (Devanagari: तोरण मारना) - a symbol of victory put on the door of dulhan on arrival of baraat,Been comes and touches it with his sward or a neem or Zhaadi [berry] stick.

* Var mālā (Devanagari: वरमाला) - The groom is led to a small stage where he is “attacked” by the bride with flowers. Following this, the groom and bride exchange garlands, known as"Var mālā", signifying their acceptance of each other as husband and wife. Then, the groom’s mother-in-law measures the groom’s chest, and pokes and prods him to make sure he is tough enough to defend her daughter. She then puts kajal on the groom to ward off evil spirits. This is followed by aarti.
* Hathlewā (Devanagari: हथलेवा) - After being led to the wedding mandup, the bride and groom have their hands tied together. The Pandit does a puja to Lord Ganesha and then puts a coin and mehendi on the groom’s right hand where the round empty spot is (where no mehendi was put) and ties his hand with the brides. This puja is done schedule in advance based on an auspicious time & date.

* unicode|Gaṃjoḍa (Devanagari: गंजोडा) - The priest ties the end of the groom's dhoti or the kurta; whichever he is wearing, with that of the bride's saree, the knot signifying the sacred wedlock.

* Pherā (Devanagari: फेरा) - Ceremony performed during marriage when the couple take Vachan in front of Agni devata

* Sātphere (Devanagari: सातफेरे) - Seven rounds around fire. The groom and the bride then circle the holy fire seven times, making seven promises to be fulfilled in the married life, after which they are considered to be 'married' to each other. This ritual is called "phere".

* Kanyā Dān (Devanagari: कन्या दान) - the bestowing of a girl in marriage. Kanyā Dān is performed by the father of the bride in presence of a large gathering that is invited to witness the wedding. The father pours out a libation of sacred water symbolizing the giving away of the daughter to the bride groom. The groom recites Vedic hymns to Kama, the God of love, for pure love and blessings. As a condition for offering his daughter for marriage, the father of the bride requests a promise from the groom for assisting the bride in realizing the three ends : "dharma", "artha", and "kama". The groom makes the promise by repeating three times that he will not fail the bride in realizing dharma, artha and kama.

* Thāpā lagānā (Devanagari: थापा लगाना) - Imprint of hand of bride or bridegroom in mehandi or haldi are marked on wall.
* Kanwar Kalevā (Devanagari: कंवर कलेवा) - ceremony of offering breakfast to bridegroom by bride's side during marriage in which bridegroom along with close friends and associates relish the royal breakfast

* Rangbarī (Devanagari: रंगबरी) - the ceremony of showing ornaments and clothes of a bride

* unicode|Samtuṇī (Devanagari: समटुणी) - function to honour the baraatis and guests in marriage

* Dāt (Devanagari: दात) - utensils, clothes, ornaments etc offered to bridegroom and his relatives by bride side in marriage.

* Jhūnwārī (Devanagari: झूंआरी) - paying respect to a relative by putting tilak on forehead and offering gift
* Vidāī (Devanagari: विदाई) - A send off. This is considered to be the most emotional ritual, when the bride leaves her parents' home and makes her way to her husband's. Family and friends, who also shower her with blessings and gifts, give her a tearful farewell. The male members of the bride's family bid farewell to the groom by applying the traditional 'tilak' (vermilion) on his forehead and shower him with gifts. The couple leaves in a decorated car.
* unicode|Kānkaḍ doraḍā (Devanagari: कांकड़ डोरड़ा) - the secred threads put on the hands of bride and bridegroom in marriage are removed and put at the boundary of village when bridegroom returns with bride to his village.

* Dwār Rukāī (Devanagari: द्वार रुकाई) - stop the couple at door. After leaving the groom’s father-in-law’s house, the couple come home. They are stopped at the entrance of the house by either the groom’s sister or his father’s sister. There, in an earthen vessel, the sister/aunt uses a mixture of salt and water to ward off evil spirits from the groom. After this, the pot is thrown on the ground and destroyed. After this, the couple enter the house.

* unicode|Gṛha Pravesh (Devanagari: गृह प्रवेश) - When the bride arrives at her new home, her mother-in-law, who welcomes her with the traditional "Aarti". At the entrance, she puts her right foot onto a tray of vermilion powder mixed in water or milk, symbolizing the arrival of good fortune and purity. With both her feet now covered in the red powder paste, she kicks over a vessel filled with rice and coins to denote the arrival of fertility and wealth in her marital home.

* Chandvā (Devanagari: चँदवा) - canopy made of a cloth on bride-bridegroom to give shelter.

* Mūh Dikhāī (Devanagari: मूह दिखाई) - A post-wedding rituals, amidst much laughter to make the new member feel comfortable. Literally translated, it means 'show your face', but this is a ritual, which helps to introduce the newly wed to members of her husband's family! Each member of the groom's family comes in turn to make an acquaintance with the new bride and offers her some gifts.

* Pesgarā (Devanagari: पेसगारा) - the function on next day of return of barat by the side of bridegroom from marriage

* Muklāvā मुकलावा - gona, second part of marriage after which the bride starts living with his husband

* Sinjhārā (Devanagari: सिंझारा) - function in which gifts are offered to a young lady prior to marriage and after marriage also on the occasion of previous day of teej and gangaur

* unicode|Ānkhaḍlī (Devanagari: आंखड़ली) - song is sung when the husband of daughter comes first time to his in-laws
* Badhawā (Devanagari: बधावा) - Song is sung when daughter is sent to sarural(in-laws).

* unicode|Jākhḍī (Devanagari: जाखड़ी) - Song sung to welcome Batawoo, husbands of their daughters

Widow marriages

Widow marriage is not only permitted and practiced but is also a social obligation. One year after the death of her husband the widow is asked in the presence other and her late husband's near relatives, whether she would like to remarry and so, with whom. Her choice is expected to be limited to the brothers or first cousins of her late husband. A man may marry the widow of his elder brother. The youngest brother has the first to marry the widow of a deceased brother. [Hindu Tribes and Castes, Vol III, Page 75] The boy, thus chosen, is obliged, by custom a tradition to accept. Widows with children and those past their youth do not normally remarry. The burden of their support is however automatically taken on by the nearest relatives of the deceased.

The young and childless widows invariably remarry and are encouraged and even persuaded to remarry even when they don't feel inclined to do so in their state of emotional disturbance. Widow marriage is called "nata"

Widows are looked upon with sympathy and not despised as evil beings .

Children's ceremonies

* Sāthia (Devanagari: साथिया) - Swastika. When a male child is born in Rajasthan, signs of swastik are made on door by using cowdung and clay. On both sides of the door two "sathias" are made. One bears sign of Swastika and other the Sun. These are preserved for lifelong.

* unicode|Pīḷapotrā (Devanagari: पीळापोतड़ा) - Yellow baby clothes. On the birth of a male child "nai" (barber) is sent to maternal side with a cloth coloured with turmeric to give a message of birth of a male child.

* unicode|Jaḷwā (Devanagari: जळवा) - Water worship (Also called Kuan Poojan - worshipping water well). Function done after about a month of the delivery. In that function new mother worships at the Well and gifts are exchanged between relatives and new mother and after that function the mother starts doing routine household work.

* Chhuchhak (Devanagari: छुछक) - a ceremony performed by maternal side after a month of birth of a male child.

* unicode|Karṇa chhedan कर्ण छेदन - "unicode|Karṇa chhedan" unicode|saṃskāra is performed of a boy during teens, when a particular vein of the ears is penetrated with a needle and a little gold ornament called "murkī" is worn through it. This particular penetration has got medical significance since it saves the person from many future ailments, particularly of testicles.

Joint families

The Joint family system was popular amongst the Jats and large families use to share the same house and hearth. With the advancement of modern civilization, as people are becoming less dependent upon and less tolerant towards each other, the joint family system is going out of vogue. It is still prevalent in the less advanced areas.

Death customs

* Dāh-samskār (Devanagari: दाह-संस्कार) - the cremation is the practice of disposing of a human corpse by burning which often takes place in a crematorium or crematory. This is done by vedic system through chanting of mantras for the peace of soul. The dead body is taken on "arthi' on the shoulders of sons or near relatives to the place of cremation.
* Asthi-visarjan (Devanagari: अस्थि-विसर्जन) - the ceremony of disposal of the bone pieces collected from the "shamśān" on the third day are disposed in to the River Ganges at Haridwar.
* Mausar (Devanagari: मौसर) - the ceremony after death of a person on 13th day in which all relatives and villagers are invited on food. It is also known as "teravin (तेरवीं)". On the thirteenth day, a death feast is offered to all the relatives of the family, including the elders and children of the locality.

Jat festivals

Jats celebrate following festivals with great fanfare -

* Akshyatratiya or Ākhātīj is the special festival of Jats celebrated on the eighteenth day of vaishakh. No muhurt is required for marriages on this day. It is believed that the attempt of Dushasan to Draupudi be shamed by being disrobed in front of the whole court was made imperishable (akshya) by Krishna.

* Gangadashhara is observed due to belief that their ancestor Pandavas had gone for firsttime Gangabath on this day.

* Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection) or Rakhi (Devanagari: राखी) festival which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Shraavana. It is associated with Draupadi and Krishna during the Rajsuya yagya. After Shishupala's death, Krishna was left with a bleeding finger. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna's wrist to staunch the flow of blood. Touched by her concern, Krishna had declared himself bound to her by her love. He further promised to repay the debt manifold. Many years later when Draupudi was about to be shamed by being disrobed in front of the whole court by her evil brother-in-law Duryodhana, she called on Krishna to help her, and he did by divinely elongating her sari so it could not be removed.

* Krishna Janmaashtami (Devanagari: कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी) or "Janmaashtami", is a festival celebrating the birth of Krishna.

* Teej (तीज)is celebrated in many parts of Rajasthan. They worship Goddess Parvati. A day before this festival is celebrated as Sinjara wherein girls/ladies put on mehandi on their hands and eat ghewar/feeni and other sweets. On Teej, married women pray to Goddess Parvati for well being of their husbands. Idols of goddess Parvati are decorated and taken in a procession in the streets accompanied by singing, music, and dancing.

* Chhath denotes the number 6 in Hindi and the festival begins on the sixth day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Kartik, which corresponds to months of October-November in the Gregorian calendar. The festival of Chhath begins a week after Diwali.

*Vijayadashmi or Dussehra celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is the anniversary of the day when Rama killed Ravana in the ancient Hindu epic, Ramayana.

*Diwali celebrates arrival of prince Rama back to Ayodhya after his victory over the evil Ravana as depicted in major Hindu epic of Ramayana. Diwali is one of the most well-known Jat festivals, and is celebrated with great fanfare.

*Makar Sankranti is a mid-winter festival of India. The day celebrates the northward journey of the Sun. Makar Sankranti is celebrated on 14 January, the day the Sun enters the next zodiac sign according to Hindu astrology.

*Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of a Hindu lunar year (or Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami). This day is the birthday of Rama.
*Holi is a festival of colours and celebrates the arrival of spring. Legends has that it is celebrated as victory of the faith of Prahlada over evil designs of Hiranyakashipu, who tried to kill him.

* unicode|Bāseḍā (Devanagari: बासेङा) festival in which people worship "Sheetla Mata," the goddess of small-pox on Sheetla Ashtama day; People don't cook any food and would eat the food made of earlier day. They make seven dishes, the day before and then do pooja and they eat those the whole day. Small pox is supposed to be caused by heat, that is the myth behind this festival.

* unicode|Gaṇgaur (Devanagari: गणगौर) - The spring festival of Gangaur, symbolic of the ripened harvest is held in honour of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. The image of the deity is carried in a procession by gaily dressed men and women. A sight more exhilarating than the entire population of a city thus assembled for the purpose of rejoicing is hard to imagine.

* unicode|Haḷsotiā (Devanagari: हळसोतिया) - festival at the start of plaughing a field

* Gogaji (Devanagari: गोगाजी) - Gogaji is a folk deity of Jats in Rajasthan. He is an eminent warrior-hero of the region. Hindus and Muslims alike honor him. He is also venerated as a saint and even as 'snake-god'. He is known as Goga among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslims. The Kaimkhani Muslims claim descent from him and regard him as a peer (saint). Gogaji is popular as a snake-god and almost every village in Rajasthan has a "than" (sacred place) dedicated to him. The devotees of Gogaji can be found in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Gujarat, an annual procession is taken out in honour of the great warrior.

:Gogaji fair - A grand fair is held at Gogamedi, which is 359 km from Jaipur, in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan in August in memory of Gogaji. It is believed that Gogaji went into samadhi at Gogamedi. Thousands of devotees gather to pay homage at this memorial annually in the month of Bhadrapada during the Gogaji fair, which lasts for 3 days.The fair is held from the ninth day of the dark half of Bhadrapada (Goga Navami) to the eleventh day of the dark half of the same month. The inscription in Persian at the main entrance describes Mahmud of Ghazni's regard for Gogaji. It is quite a sight to see people singing and dancing to the beats of drums and gongs with multicolored flags called 'nishans' in their hands.

* "'Tejaji ( district in Rajasthan.:Veer Teja was a great saint. A large number of temples of Veer Teja have been built in entire Rajasthan. It is believed that if a person suffering from snakebite goes to samadhi of Teja or puts a chord (tanti) in Tejaji's name, he is cured.

:Tejaji fairs-A large fair, Mela Tejaji, Takes place on the eleventh lunar day of Bhadrapada Shukla Paksh (Aug.-Sept.) every year in village Parbatsar, District Nagaur in Rajasthan. Veer Tejaji Cattle Fair at Parbatsar near Makrana is also organized every year. Many fairs are held in Malwa region on the tenth day of the month of Bhadra to mark the birth of Tejaji. A fair of tejaji is also organized at village Bhamawad of Guna district in Madhya Pradesh on this date. [ [ Article on Tejaji] ]

Equal social status

All Jats, irrespective of their official or financial positions in life, have equal social status. The only criterion of superiority is age. If two Jats sit on a bed the elder, even if he is a poor farmer will sit towards the head of the bed, and the younger, even if he is a very well to do, or is a senior civil or military officer, will sit towards the foot of the bed. If a number of Jats are sharing the same "hooka" (hubble-bubble) it is the duty of the youngest to hold the 'hooka' and pass it around in turn to the others. The system is thus of a very socialistic nature.


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