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Aroras (Hindi: अरोड़ा, Punjabi: ਅਰੋੜਾ) (or Aror-vanshis, Aror Bans) are an indo aryan /indo European community of Punjab. They are Kshatriyas according to Hindu caste system of four varnas.

Even though Aroras are of the warrior caste they are usually well educated people and the community has produced a Nobel Laureate like Dr. Hargobind Khorana, an astronaut like Kalpana Chawla and distinguished army personnel like Lt. Arun Khetarpal, Captain Vikram Batra (both recipients of Param Vir Chakra), Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, Lt. General Harbaksh Singh Arora and Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora. Aroras are generally good looking people with sharp features, fair complexion and well built bodies.

The word 'Arora' means one belonging to ancient city of 'Aror' situated on the banks of river Indus in northwestern part of Sindh province of Pakistan. Aroras are a sub-group among Khatris, they Aroras and Khatris resemble in most of the traits including the type of work engaged in, accent (accent of Aroras and Khatris of same region is same), physical appearance, traditions, rituals etc. There is also a significant overlap of surnames/subcastes among two communities i.e. there are many surnames which are common to both Aroras and Khatris. Both communities are closely related to each other and even intermarriages between the two communities also take place. Where in history they bifurcated and separated from each other is not exactly known.

Prior to independence and partition of India, Aroras were mainly concentrated in West Punjab (now Pakistan) (along the banks of river Indus and its tributaries) and Malwa region in Indian Punjab apart from North-West Frontier Province, Sindh (mainly as Sindhi Aroras and but there were many Punjabi speaking Aroras as well) Rajasthan(as Jodhpuri and Nagauri Aroras/Khatris) and Gujarat. (Khatris were more numerous in, northern, Potohar and Majha, regions of Undivided Punjab.) In post-independence and post-partition India, Aroras mainly reside in Punjab (India), Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and other parts of the country. After partition, from these parts of Pakistan, where they mainly lived i.e. Punjab, NWFP and Sindh they migrated to different parts of divided India from Jammu in North to Madras Presidency down south. They have also spread to all parts of the world, owing to desire to make life better and better, and have prospered in a short duration after losing almost all their belongings while bearing the brunt of partition.

While Khatris were more numerous and dominant in northern-Potohar and Majha regions of undivided Punjab (before partition of India), Aroras were more numerous and dominant in central and south-western parts of undivided Punjab (including Bahawalpur province), along banks of Indus river. Though there was still a significant presence of Aroras in NWFP and north-western districts of Punjab Aroras were more or less absent in North-eastern districts of Punjab like Hoshiarpur. (Read below for more details). In some parts of Punjab, both Aroras and Khatris were also present in nearly equal strengths.

Contents

History

The land populated by Aroras before partition of India corresponds literally with the historic-'Arachosia'.Around 2 A.D. Aroras were settled in central punjab of Pakistan, in districts Multan, and nearby areas like Montgomery (now sahiwal) and Dera Ghazi khan, Mian wali, Zhang, Ubbhey, Bahawalpur in a big number, all other districts in Pakistani punjab were also having significant population of aroras but dominated with khatris and Muslims. After 1947, most of Aroras settled in eastern punjab districts like Rohtak, Hisar, Faridabad,Fatehabad, Jhajjar, Sirsa, Bhiwani, Gurgaon and own business shops in these areas.

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Origins

Aroras seem to have settled in bisla during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or even earlier. There is a street in Amritsar named as ‘Arorianwali Gali’.[1].

Rohri - Sukkur, seven sisters' samadhi

Later, Aroras got unsettled from Aror by either the numerous Muslim invaders or a curse of an angered saint (as per folklores). But from there, they did get dispersed (for whatever reasons) to various parts of Punjab (especially southern and western parts), Rajasthan (mainly Nagaur and Jodhpur) Sindh and Gujarat. Many Sindhis, Gujaratis (of Lohana community) and Rajasthani Khatris (Nagauri and Jodhpuri Khatris) have surnames of Punjabi Aroras.[2].

According to another account, the name of the community was derived from a place named Aror .[3].

Aror (or Alor) is located 8 km east of Rohri. It was the ancient capital of Sindh, predating Sukkur, and was once located on the banks of the Indus. Due to its location, where the Indus takes a sharp turn towards the west, it was a center of commerce and was a prosperous city. It was the capital of Sindh when it was ruled by King Dahir. In 711] this city was conquered by the Arab general, Muhammad bin Qasim, who moved the capital some 300 km south to Mansura near Hala. In the 10th century it received another blow when the river Indus changed its course, which was probably caused by a massive earthquake in 962 [4]. The present course of Indus is west of Aror. The modern towns of Sukkur and Rohri are situated on both sides of the river. Aror is now a small dusty village.

The link between Indians and Europeans is also established by common surnames of Aroras. Pruthi subcaste of Aroras is also a common surname of Albanians.

The above three traditions are reported here as claimed by different sections of Aroras and recorded by Ibbetson et al. in the late 19th century. Supporting this historical perspective, Aroras are divided into three main groups: Uttradhi, Gujarati (Dahra) and Dakhna. Prior to India-Pakistan partition of 1947, they intermarried within each of three groups; however after partition they started intermarriages among other groups of Aroras,khatri Bhatias and Soods, but of different Gotra's. [1]

The link between Indians and Europeans is also established by common surnames of Aroras. Pruthi subcaste of Aroras is also a common surname of Albanians.

Independence

Aroras joined with the rest of India to fight for Indian independence.[5] Many were imprisoned for satyagraha. Some were involved in the Hindu Mahasabha in fighting for independence, including Madanlal Pahwa. As the Aroras are mainly from the Western Punjab region, most Aroras had to migrate to India during the Partition of India in 1947.

Demographics

Before the partition

Prior to India-Pakistan partition in 1947, Aroras generally lived in the southwestern parts of the Punjab including Dera Ghazi Khan District (and recently created districts of Rajanpur), Multan, Bahawalpur, northern Sindh and Dera Ismail Khan Division of the North-West Frontier Province. The main language of this area is Lahnda, now known as Seraiki in Pakistan. Beside the Derajat, Aroras dwelled in varying numbers further north in the districts of Jhang, Mianwali, Lahore, Amritsar and Lyallpur (now known as Faisalabad), and south of Derajat in Sukkur, Shikarpur and as far as Karachi. In Kohat, the Aroras were split into autochthonous and immigrant Aroras, in which most of the immigrants were Sikh while the autochthonous were Hindu.[6]

Half of the Aroras of the Punjab were living in southwest in the areas of Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Mianwali, Muzaffargarh, Multan and Bahawalpur [7]. According to Imperial Gazetteer of India (1901), the three major mercantile communities (of the Punjab province),the Aroras, the Banias and Ahluwalias were dominant in southwest (Multan division), southeast (Delhi division including present Haryana), and northeast (Jalandhar division) parts respectively; in central (Lahore division) and northwest (Rawalpindi division) parts, Aroras and Khatris were almost equal in numbers.[7]

The numerical strength of three communities in the 1901 census of the province (which included Delhi) was as follows: Aroras 653,000; Banias 452,000;. In the former princely state of Bahawalpur practically the entire commerce was in the hands of Aroras, while Ahluwalias dominated in the state of Patiala. A majority of the government employees were also Aroras. In the same census of 1901, the numbers of Aroras and Khatris in North-West Frontier Province were 69,000 and 34,000 respectively; in the province of Sind and the princely state of Khairpur, both Aroras and Khatris were probably counted as Lohanas, the mercantile community of Sind. Many Aroras were promoted in all departments of the Indian government as Extra Assistant commissioners, accountants, professors, doctors, civil surgeons, engineers, military officers and court officers etc. [14] After the partition of India in 1947, the majority of Sikh and Hindu Aroras from all over the newly created nation of Pakistan went through great fights and migrated to India.[7]

Previously, Aroras only used to intermarry amongst their subgroup only (Uttradhi, Gujarati and Dakhan), but after continued migrations, Aroras have become more lenient towards marriage choices and have widened their sphere of matrimony to Khatris. .[1]

Sadhu Bela ashram on Sindhu river

After the partition

As mentioned earlier, the Aroras settled in Amritsar during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or even earlier.[1] It is presumed that they migrated to Amritsar from Lahore to which place they might have originally migrated from Sind or Multan. This is inferred from the fact that, after a very long stay in the central Punjab, they ceased to speak their Lahnda dialect[1]. The Arora Sikhs are mostly found in big towns, especially in Amritsar. They were living there even before the partition. Their Hindu counterparts, majority of who migrated from Pakistan, arrived in India in 1947 after a terrifying journey, lasting up to a month or more to cross only 100 to 400 miles, starved, dehydrated, ill and often with only the clothes they were wearing. The government of newly independent India was inexperienced and dysfunctional, and the local established groups in India including Hindu,jats and Sikhs, Banias and others were being opportunistic and exploitive of their helpless, homeless and penniless status. However, Aroras not only have survived their third holocaust (Parasurama, Arab invasion of Aror/Alor, and Indo-Pakistan partition of 1947) but, have also prospered because of strong work ethic, education, enterprise, and survivor instincts sharpened by the centuries of a minority status among violent, monotheistic and colonial groups of various Mediterranean and Central Asian invaders, Muslims and the British.[1] The Amritsar Gazetteer claims that the hard work of the Aroras made them prominent among all of the migrants from Pakistan, as they quickly began to rival local communities in influence.[1] Ludhiana Gazette of Revenue department of Govt. of Punjab describes Aroras to be of tougher disposition and more shrewd and intelligent than Khatris; and having superior business acumen than their local Khatri shopkeepers counterparts. Similarly, Hoshiarpur gazetteer says "Before independence, the Aroras did not constitute a sizeable population in the district. With the migration of the non-Muslim population from Pakistan to India in 1947, they settled here, though in small numbers. The Aroras were generally settled in West Punjab (Pakistan) and in the Firozepur District. Their representation in the eastern districts of the Punjab was not notable. According to Ibbetson, the Aroras are the Kshatriyas of Ror (Rori Sukkur, Sindh, in Pakistan). Whatever be their origin, the fact is that they resemble Khatris in certain traits. In certain respects, they are even superior to them. They are also divided into many groups and castes, Uchanda, Nichanda, etc., but in social life, these groups are of no importance. They intermarry in their groups like others. They also intermarry among Khatris. In the All-India meeting in 1936, held by the Khatris at Lahore (Pakistan), it was decided that the Aroras, Soods and Bhatias were Khatri for all intents and purposes. And, as such, they should be admitted to the Khatri stock. This interpretation did not find much favour then, but with the lapse of time, it has almost been accepted." (Reference- http://punjabrevenue.nic.in/fdigs.htm)

Before partition Aroras used to marry only among their sub-group i.e. Uttradhi, Dakkhna or Dahra and members of the same geographic region. But after partition, spheres of permissible arranged matrimonial alliances were widened to others of Punjabi origin especially Khatris, Bhatias and Sood. These sub-castes were mixed so overwhelmingly that all of these castes together are now referred to as the Punjabi Aroras or simply 'Punjabi' community. Aroras have been increasingly shunning the caste system, the Aroras (and all Punjabis in general) have become liberal especially the populace in bigger towns and cities. Inter-caste marriages with other communities of Punjab (with Brahmins and Baniyas especially) and other parts of India and world have also become quite common and are becoming more common with each passing day. Among Punjabis, socioeconomic status has replaced caste as the primary concern in matrimonial alliances of the present era.

Role in Indian society

Arora families in India place great emphasis and attention to the education of their children including their daughters; because of this, they have become prosperous and are successful in many diverse professions such as trade, education, medicine, finance, technology, engineering, manufacturing, entertainment, arts, armed forces and bureaucracy. They have achieved remarkable success despite being a very small minority, lack of a political power-base, vigorous attempts to disparage and/or to suppress them by Muslims in pre-partition Punjab and Sind, and loss of their homes, businesses, properties and bank deposits (at Punjab & Sind Bank owned and controlled by three Sikh Khatri families) at the time of partition in 1947. Another prominent bank of the masses at that time in Punjab ( Punjab National Bank) is reported to have played a very positive role by encashing bank deposits of migrants based on pass book entries even though the bank had lost its records in Pakistan ( Ref: Banking Century by Parkash Tandon Panguin.

Aroras have taken roles in the Indian Armed Forces. Late Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora and Gen. J.J. Singh are two prominent contributions of the Arora community to Indian Armed Forces. Aroras were particularly prominent in the recent Kargil War also. Vikram Batra was declared a war hero in India, as was Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, both of whom died during the conflicts.

Religion

Most of the Aroras in India are Hindus but approx 20% of Aroras are Sikh, because in some parts of Punjab they were influenced by Sikhism as a big part of population practised sikhism and they donated their first son to sikhism, though aroras are least inclined towards sikhism in whole aryan clans of aryans, because they were much devoted to Sanatan Dharam(hinduism) . Hindu Aroras are very tolerant in their religious faith. Most are followers of Sanatana Dharma; however, they respect the sanctity of and frequently visit Arya Samaj temples, Jain temples, Sikh Gurdwaras, and Dargahs (tombs) of Muslim Sufi saints. For several centuries in the past, the eldest son of an Arora Hindu family voluntarily changed his religion to Sikhism as a family devotion to the Sikh Gurus in 18th century.[1] . Arora community is in charge of most of temles in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab areas, most of the Shiv mandirs, Hanuman Mandirs, Sanatan Dharma Mandirs, Durga Mandirs and Krishna Mandirs are managed by arora communities in the provinces with significant arora polulation.

Divisions

Genetically, Many of the Sindhi Hindus in India are also Aroras (although they are classified as Lohanas) and live in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Many Gujaratis (Lohanas) and Sindhis (Sindhi Khatris) have family names similar to Aroras like Ahuja, Chawala, Thakkar etc. In Rajasthan, there is a distinct Khatri community. They subclassify themselves into Jodhpuri and Nagauri Khatris. They also carry Arora family names like Juneja, Gaba etc. They have about 84 clans and 201 sub clans, of Aroras among themselves. Like their Punjabi Arora brethren, they have also prospered and migrated further to various parts of India and various other countries. There are still some Sindhi Hindu Aroras living in Northern Sindh and are mostly involved in trade.

There are three main divisions among the Aroras: Uttradhi, Dakhna and Gujarati. The Uttradhi Aroras used to live in the northern regions. The Dakhna Aroras used to live in southern regions nearer to the coast and the Gujarati Aroras used to live in the west, nearer to Gujarat.[1][8].

Aroras share cultural and genetical similarity with khatris/Kukhrans, Aroravanshis existed in western districts of punjab, and only influenced towards sanatan dharma or Shiv Lingam Poojan, but khatris existed in eastern punjab areas influenced more with more sikh and/or different kinds of beliefs. After the Khatris started condemning brahmins, Arorvanshis stopped themselves known by the name of khatri. Other genetically similar group living in Pakistan who shares genetical similarity with arora community is called Memons in Pakistan. In folklore, Folk dance of Arora community is Jhumar and Khatri community is Bhangra, Jhumar is a very slow moving and expression enabled dance, while bhangra is aggressive, Rest all is same in both.

Famous Aroras

Aroras have had an impact in almost all the streams of human endeavour after Indian independence and have had an indelliable role in India's development.

Science- Nobel laureate for science Har Gobind Khorana and NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla and ISRO scientist Satish Dhawan are among eminent Aroras who have earned great fame in the realm of science and technology. Samir Arora holds 13 patents in the field of computers. Sanjeev Arora is a professor of computer science at Princeton University who is known for his seminal work on Probability Checking Proofs (most notably the proof of the PCP theorem.

Defense- Contribution of Aroras to Indian Armed forces is also unforgettable..Lieutenant General Harbakhsh Singh Arora played a pivotal role in 1965 war against Pakistan in Khemkaran sector near Amritsar. Under the brave leadership of 6'2" tall Gen. Arora, Indian Army defeated a much better endowed Pakistani Army (equipped with American Patton M-48 tanks) and made Khemkaran sector a "Graveyard of Patton tanks" by destroying or capturing nearly 300 Pakistani tanks thus delivering a deadly blow to the strength and morale of Pakistani defense establishment. This was then when he had been given an option to retreat behind river Sutlej by Indian High Command leaving half of Punjab under Pakistani occupation. But he not only stood up against Pakistani Army and as well defeated them. Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora displayed his leadership in 1971 war. In his apt leadership Indian Army made 90,000 Pakistani soldiers surrender and thus put an end to the war in eastern sector. In 1971 war, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his bravery. In Kargil war, Captain Vikram Batra laid his life in the mountains of Kargil region during Kargil war. He was awarded highest gallantry award of India Param Vir Chakra posthumously. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja (Vir Chakra) also laid his life in the service of motherland during Kargil war.

Government- Harpreet Singh Pruthi[IRSS],

Mr.Bhagwant Singh Nirula IPS(ret'd) distinguished career in Indian Police Service, 1960 batch, retired as Director General of Police for Gujarat State in 1992 during which post he was responsible for all law and order matters in the state of Gujarat, India.

Dr. Ashok Dhamija is an ex-IPS officer of Maharashtra Cadre. He has handled many high profile cases and is now a leading Advocate in Mumbai High Court and the Supreme Court of India.Books authored by him: 1. Prevention of Corruption Act, Second Edition (2009), about 2250 pages, published by LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur, New Delhi. 2. Need to Amend a Constitution and Doctrine of Basic Features, (2007), about 600 pages, published by Wadhwa and Company Nagpur, New Delhi. 3. Law of Bail, Bonds, Arrest and Custody, (2009), about 1625 pages, published by LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur, New Delhi.

Industry- Brij Mohan Munjal & family of Hero Honda Group, Karam Chand Thapar, Nirula's chain of fast food joints, VLCC (Vandana Luthra Slimming Centre), the famous Batra Hospital in New Delhi and Dr. Batra's chain of Homeopathy clinics, Chhabra555 are just a few examples of entrepreneurial skills of Aroras. In Singapore, Kartar Singh Thakral has built up his family's trading business, Thakral Holdings/Corp. Thakral is Singapore's 25th richest person. (Ref- http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/79/06singapore_Kartar-Singh-Thakral_UEZJ.html) Lord Swaraj Paul of Caparo is also an Arora (Paul is used by certain Aroras with suffix -pal in their surnames, like Nagpal, Kathpal etc.). Bajaj family of Bajaj Motors are also of Arora lineage (Aroras settled in Rajasthan).

Entertainment-A large number of Aroras are also involved in business or showbusiness, including the likes of Gulzar (real name Sampooran Singh Kalra), Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raj Babbar, Vijay Arora, Jas Arora, Govinda (Govind Arun Ahuja), Pooja Batra, Shiney Ahuja, Juhi Chawla, Gulshan Grover, Harman Baweja, Nitin Arora (Actor-Music Director ),Electronic music producer Aditya Arora, Malaika Arora, Singer Jaspinder Narula among many others.

Fashion-Manish Arora, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Gandhi Neeta Lulla, Vijay Arora are famous fashion designers.

Politics- Gopal Singh Qaumi was a leading freedom fighter from Punjab and leader of Shiromani Akali Dal. Madan Lal Khurana, former CM of Delhi is also an Arora, among many others.

Media- Khushwant Singh the noted Sikh historian and MP who was the editor of Illustred Weekly, Surya and Hindustan Times. Ravinder Singh Chugh is well known person in media also belong to arora community Famous as Ravinder Singh Laddi, Shiv Khera, Prabhu Chawla, Vinod Dua,Nalin Mehta

Sports-Gautam Gambhir and Nayan Mongia are eminent cricketers.

Socila Service- Mandeep Pujara youth leader represented Indian and Asian youth on various platforms of social changes especially Rotary international.

Religion- Avtar Singh Makkar, President of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee

And there are numerous people from Arora community who are successful doctors, engineers, politicians, entrepreneurs, painters and sportspersons.

Some of the family names of the Aroras include - Ahuja, Alreja, Aneja, Asija, Bajaj, Balana, Bakhru, Batra, Baweja, Bhathheja, Bhatia, Baseeja, Bhutani, Buddhiraja, Chawla, Charaipotra, Chhabra, Chhabaria, Chugh, Chuggha, Dhamija, Dawar, , DOOMRADhingra, Dua, Gambhir, Gaba, Gandhi, Ganda (now changed to Gandhi because of cosmetic reasons) , Gagneja, Gera, Girdhar, Gogia, Gulati, Guliani, Grover, Hangal, Jhandai, Juneja, Kalra, Kamra, Kataria, Kathpal, Kharbanda, Khurana, Khorana, Kumar, Khera, Lal, Lekhi, Loona, Lulla, Madaan, Makhija, Makkar, Manocha, Mehndiratta, Mendiratta, Middha, Miglani, Monga, Munjal, Nagpal, Narula, Nijhawan, Pahwa, Pahuja, Papneja,Pruthi,Pujara, Rahuria, Rajpal, Sidana/Sardana, Sachdev/Sachdeva, Saluja, Sethi, Setia/Sehtiya, Siddhar/Shreedar, Sikri, Sindhwani, Suneja, Taneja, Wadhwa,Vasant etc. A total of 1500 plus gotras exist among Aroras. A more detailed list (though incomplete) of Arora surnames is available at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Arora_surnames

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Punjab Revenue See section on Aroras
  2. ^ ibid, pp 17 Vol II, footnote
  3. ^ Denzil Ibbetson, Edward Maclagan, H. A. Rose, " A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North West Frontier Province", 1911, pp 17 Vol II
  4. ^ Isobel Shaw,"Pakistan Handbook", (The Guidebook Co., Hong Kong, 1989), pp 117
  5. ^ Example of Gulzarilal Nanda
  6. ^ Sikh Heritage Various Sects
  7. ^ a b c D. Ibbetson, E.MacLagan, H.A. Rose, " A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North West Frontier Province", 1911, pp 17 Vol II
  8. ^ D. Ibbetson, E.MacLagan, H.A. Rose, " A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North West Frontier Province", 1911, pp 17 Vol II
  • Short Ethnographical history of the Aror Bans, "Proceedings of the General Meeting of the Aror Bans Punchayat", Lahore, held on July 20, 1888.

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