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Aheer
Total population
ca. 200,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Punjab (Pakistan) 150,000
Sindh 50,000
Languages

Punjabi, Seraiki, Sindhi, and Urdu

Religion

Islam

Related ethnic groups

other Punjabi communities,Ahir

Aheer is a Muslim tribe of Rajput status found mainly in the Thal desert region of Punjab, Pakistan.There are also Hindu and Sikh clan of Aheers among Gurjar, Chamar and Jats of Punjab.

They are also found in Sindh, Pakistan.

Contents

Scythian origin

Avar warrior with captive, c. 800 CE.[2]

The origin of the Aheer is controversial, with various scholars claiming different origin. Some historians hold that they were a powerful ethnic group of nomad cowherds from eastern or central Asia[3] who entered India via the Punjab region in large hordes about the same time as the Sakas and the Yuezhi, in the first or second century BC. They were believed to have gradually spread over large parts of Northern, Eastern and Central India.

Other views are that they came from Syria or Asia Minor about the beginning of the Christian Era and lived in India long before the Aryan invasion. The earliest Scythians who entered the northern regions of South Asia were from this group.

History and origin

Central Asia c. 500 AD, showing possible homelands of the Avars

There are two traditions about the origin of the aheers

One connects them with the Ahir ethnic group found in North India. The Aheer are a sub-caste of the Yadav or Yaduvanshi division of the Chandravanshi Kshatriya tribe who are Rajputs in North India and Nepal. Amongst them the most famous one was a Rao Tula Ram Aheer a famous freedom fighter of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The Aheer and Yadav make form a single community in India amounting to about 10% population of India.The Aheer’s also referred as 'Abhira'[1] or 'Abhir' are one of the most ancient martial tribes [2][3], of India, who ruled over different parts of India and Nepal[4] since the ancient times. The word "Abhira" means 'fearless'. Right from the times of the Shakyas, the Kushans and the Synthians (6000 BC) they have been warriors par excellence, and only then agriculturists and farmers. Aheer’s have long cherished the tradition of bravery and warfare [5], which is evident by their large-scale presence in the Indian army and police forces. As a mark of respect towards the Aheer bravery, the British Rulers of India included Aheer amongst the martial races. Aheer community resides in large numbers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat,[Maharashtra] and [Tamil Nadu]. They are also present in large numbers in Terai, the plains that lie in the southern part of Nepal.A majority of Aheers occupy the Rewari Thesil of Gurgaon district. This area is known as Aheerwal. When Shershah Suri fought against Mughal chief, Humayun, the Aheer ‘Khap’ helped Humayun under the leadership of Rao Rura Singh. When Humayun occupied the throne of Delhi again he made Rao Rura Singh the Chief of a Pargana and the Head Quarters of the Pargana was named Rewari. During the reign of Mughals the Aheer State remained as their trust-worthy friend and Rao Tej Singh made a name with them. In 1803 Lord Lake reduced the power and position of the Mughals and captured the Aheers State which was at that time ruled by Puran Singh. Rao Tula Ram was born in 1825. When he was thirteen, Rao Puran Singh died.

The word Aheer is said to be derived from abhir or abhira which means fearless. According to other traditions, the Aheers are the descendants of the famous Qutabshah, ancestor of the Khokhars and Awans, and himself descended from Hazrat Ali(R.A) the fourth Muslim caliph of Islam.[4] The Harals of Chiniot, Sargodha and Gujranwala Districts of Punjab are also said to be a sub-caste of the Aheers.

Malik is title used by aheers in chiniot and khushab while in jhang title of mehar is used.In India they use title of Rao,especially quiet abundant in Rewari (district Gurgaon) of Haryana state.The name of haryana is derived due to abundance of aheers there and the language of aheerwati is spoken there.

Language

The Aheer in Punjab speak Jhangochi and Seraiki, while those in Sindh speak Sindhi.

Location

  • Found principally in Khushab, Bhakkar, Mianwali, Jhang, Sargodha, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Chiniot, Khanewal,Rahim Yar Khan Districts of Punjab, Pakistan.
  • In Chiniot District Chak 142J.B ( Khai Aheeran), Chak 235JB (Haiboana), Langrana and Mouza Lodhran are important Aheer villages.
  • In Jhang District the main village is Chak 452 JB(Aheeranwala).
  • In Sargodha district Aheer are found mainly near Sahiwal, where there are several villages such as Ahir Fateh Shah and Ahir Surkhru.
  • In Rawalpindi District, Ahir and Bher Ahir in the Gujar Khan Tehsil are important villages.
  • In Mianwali District there are many villages of Aheers, most notable: Aheeranwala, Aba Khel, Ahheranwala, Jandanwala and Wandhi Aheeranwali near Pai-Khel.
  • In Lodhran District, the villages of Basti Aheer and Jhok Aheer.
  • In Khanewal District they are found in Kabirwala and near Qadirpur Raan.
  • In Mandi Bahauddin District in Malakwal Tehsil there is the famous village of Chak 7 (Aheeranwala).
  • Also found in Khushab District. In Khusab they are in large numbers along with Tiwanas and Awans and are quite active in the politics, and found mainly in Mohallah Aheeranwla in main Khushab city and in satellite town Jouharabad. The most influential are the aheers of the Khusab district.Their main villages in Khushab are Aheerpur and Rakh Baghoor. Migrated from East Punjab of India in 17th century and settled in District Khushab. Malik Sher Bahadur Aheer was DSP of Punjab in 1890 and was appointed Honourary Magistrate in 1903 in East Punjab of India. Aheer tribe is basically associated with agriculture. Mr. Naseem Ahmed Aheer was Minister for Interior in 1986. Most of the land in Jauharabad, District Khushab belongs to Aheer family. Hence this family is the dominant agriculturist family in the region.
  • The tribe is also found in Larkana District and Qambar Shahdadkot District of Sindh province of Pakistan.

See also

References

  1. ^ population figures from joshuaproject.net
  2. ^ The image is based on a reconstruction by Norman J. Finkelshteyn of an image from an 8th-century ewer found at Nagyszentmiklos in Transylvania (original at [1]). Some scholars regard the image as that of a Khazar warrior.
  3. ^ http://www.everyculture.com/South-Asia/Ahir.html
  4. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes & Castes of Punjab by H. A Rose

External links

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