Sub-divisions of the Jats

            A list of different sub-divisions of the Jats and their distribution by tahsils is discussed hereunder :

            (i) Sandhus.-The Sandhu6 Jats are the strongest clan in the district. They are found in detached villages in the three tahsils of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ajnala, but muster especially strong in the south-east corner of Tarn Taran. The central village of this group is Sirhali kalan, and from this they have founded and peopled the ring of villages which lie around it. here, they held thirty-two villages. This part of the tahsil was formerly known as the Khara Majha, a bleak treeless tract with deep brackish wells, a soil sometimes poor and sandy, but generally hard and unpromising, and an uncertain rainfall. Canal irrigation has changed the appearance of the country. The holdings being small, the Sandhus have always taken eagerly to military service. Military service is traditional among the Sandhus, and from this tribe the Sikhs drew many of their best men. They are the best specimens of the Majha Jat which the district can show. Men in service find it easy to dispose of their land by mortgage during their absence. It is easily redeemed out of savings on their return, and in every village there are pensioners who are only too ready to take it up, and advance money on it. The clan is found in some strength in the neighbouring corner of the Patti Tahsil, and also across the Satluj in Firozpur, but there is no other collection of Sandhu villages in Amritsar. The Sandhus of the Sirhali Kalan, ilaqa have an ancient feud with the Pannuns of Naushehra and Chaudhriwala, which is said to have arisen from a murder by a Sirhali Kalan man of a Pannuan connection by marriage. The two clans are now on fairly good terms but things have not improved so much as to permit marriages between the Pannuns of these two villages and the Sandhus of the Sirhali Kalan neighbourhood. The Sandhus are independent and not much given to abide by the law, and their headmen have little authority.

            (ii) Gills.-Gills are the next strongest clan. They are known as excellent and hardworking cultivators. They hold about twenty-five villages in whole or in part in Tarn Taran, but they are scattered all over the tahsil. They muster strongest in the Amritsar Tahsil, near Majitha. Majitha and Sohian Kalan (part) in the Amritsar Tahsil, and Dhotian in Tarn Taran are the largest settlements of this clan.

            (iii) Dhillons.-The Dhillons are found mostly in Majha, in fact, along with the Sandhus, Gills, Pannuns, Aulakhs and Sidhus, they take up nearly the whole of Majha proper. But the Dhillons reside farther up the Tarn Taran Tahsil, in the upper half of it – the country in which the Bhangi Misl was once supreme. They hold twenty-eight whole villages and parts of others, and many of their villages are among the largest in the tahsil, such as Kairon, Paddri, Gaggobua, Panjwar, Jhabal, Dhand, Kasel, Gandhwind, Serai Amanat Khan and Leian. All these are typical Majha villages, and supply manyrecruits to the army, especially the villages of Dhand and Kairon. In the other tahsils, the clan is more scattered, but they are fairly scattered over the Amritsar Bangar, and across the Beas in Kapurthala. The Amritsar Dhillons say that they came originally from the Majha, but this is doubtful. They marry all gots except the Bals. The story is that a family bard, or mirasi, from a Dhillon village was refused help, when in difficulty in the Bal ilaqa, and in revenge cursed the whole Bal clan. Mirasis were in those days more of a power than they are now, and the Dhillon clan took up the feud, which survive to this day in the refusal to intermarry. The Dhillons of Amritsar, who live alongside the Bals of the Sathiala ilaqa, do not carry the feud further than this, but those of Majha will not eat or drink in a Bal village, or from the same dish as a Bal.

            6The name of the Jat clan Sandhu is a mre variant of Sindhu

            (H.A. Rose, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province, Vol. III (Reprinted 1970), p. 351

            (iv) Randhawas.-The Randhawas come next. They are hardly met within the Tarn Taran Tahsil but are very strong all along the Batala border, and down the sand ridge in the Amritsar Tahsil, especially near Mahta and as far as Kathunangal. They rank high as cultivators, and cane-growing is their speciality. Several leading men during the Sikh period belonged to this got.

            (v) Aulakhs.-The Aulakh Jats are most numerous in the Ajnala Tahsil, but there is also a cluster of nine villages around Shahbazpur in the Tarn Taran Tahsil, held by this lcna. Though quite a small village, Shahbazpur is well known, and the corner of the Majha in which it lies takes its name from the village and is generally known as “Shahbazpur ki taraf”. But it is around Kohala in Ajnala that the Aulakhs are encountered in strength and their chief villages are Kohala, Kohali, Lopoke, Chawinda Khurd and Chawinda Kalan, Mandoke, Barar and Chogawan. The larger portion of their country is profusely irrigated by the Upper Bari Doab Canal, and they are a prosperous and well-to-do clan, though with small holdings.

            (vi) Chahils.-They own sixteen villages near Sheron Baga in the Amritsar Tahsil.

            (vii) Sidhus.-The Sidhus hold, around Atari and Bhakna, fourteen villages in all. The Atari family belongs to this clan. They have a few representatives in other parts of the district, their country being mostly in the Firozpur and Faridkot Districts where they hold the entire south and west of Moga, the Mehraj villages, the greater part of southern Muktsar and numerous villages in the sandy tracts of the Firozpur and Zira Tahsils. They trace their descent from Raja Jaisal, a manj Rajput, from one of whose descendants, Barar, have sprung the ruling families of Patiala, Faridkot, Nabha and Jind. Other details of the Sidhu clan, also known as the Barars in Firozpur, will be found in the Gazetteer of Firozpur District, where the clan is of the first importance. The Sidhus of Amritsar are almost entirely Sikhs and live in the Tarn Taran Tahsil.

            (viii) Other Gots of Jats.-The Bal Jats hold the large villages of Bal Khurd and Bal Kalan near Amritsar, besides Sathiala, Butala, Jodha and Bal Serai, in the Bangar of Amritsar, and twenty-three villages in all. The Pannun Jats, who have spread from the Doaba, own seven large estates in the Majha, including Naushehra and Chaudhriwala. The principal village of the Chhina Jats is Harse Chhina, near Raja Sansi, in Ajnala. The Sadal Jats, all inhabit the Amritsar Tahsil. The Bhullars are a fairly numerous clan and with the Mans and part of the Hers have the honour of being known as asli or original Jats, all others having enrolled themselves in the great tribe of Jats at a later date. No satisfactory explanation is forthcoming for all the Hers not being ranked as originals nor is it clear whether any particular village or family belongs to the original clan or not. The Bhullars hold the large villages of Khihalla (Khurd and Kalan) in the Ajnala Tahsil. They and the Sohals, inhabiting the village of that name in Tarn Taran, have the notoriety of being among the most lawless people in the district. The Kangs hold a compact cluster of villages near Tarn Taran, chief among which are Kang, Kalla and Mal Chak. The Jhawara Jats of Matewal and the neighbourhood and the Mahil Jats of Ajnala are not now classed separately in the census returns.

            Kambohs.-The Kambohs take quite the first rank as cultivators in the district. Their industry is proverbial, and they seem to get more out of the land than even the Jats. They are found principally to the right and left of the Grand Trunk Road, on each side of Jandiala Guru, their best villages being bahoru, Nizampurah, Nawanpind, Taragarh, Thattian and Jahangir. The Sikh Kambohs are in every way similar to the Jats. They take the pahul. In appearance they are usually shorter and more thickest than Jats, with less pronounced features, and altogether showless breeding. They have their gots just as the Jats have (the chief being Marok, Josan and Jand) and marriage within the got is forbidden. But they never marry outside the tribe, with Jats or other Sikhs, and even with the Sainis of the Doaba they have no connection. It is probably only within the last hundred years that they have come to be recognized as owners of land in Amritsar, and that in former times the highest status they could aspire to was that of tenants with some right of occupancy in the land on which they had been settled, and had broken up. There are numbers of them in the city, where they excel as market-gardners, but the city Kambohs are often in debt and are not so prosperous as those living in the villages. Like Arains, they are easily induced to leave home in the hope of extra profit as cultivators in the canal-irrigated tracks. At home, they are generally found cultivating as tenants in several villages around their own, and, having little land of their own, and being given to multiplying fast, they are willing to pay a high rent. As farmers they are unsurpassed, being careful of their land and their cattle, and never sparing themselves.

            The Sikhs have great respect for their Ten Gurus. Their holy book is the Adi-Granth, i.e. the Granth Sahib. They have uncompromising belief in monotheism. Their place of worship and the center of their community life is the gurdwara. The Adi-Granth is kept in it for devotional study and recitation. This book is installed in a gurdwara with great devotion and reverence. The Dasam Granth (composition of the Tenth Guru) is also shown great reverence, but it is not placed in a gurdwara.

            The Amritsar District is the biggest center of the Sikh religion. Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Hargobind mostly resided in the district. The historic gurdwaras in their memory are at Khadur Sahib, Govindwal, Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

            The seasonal festivals of the Sikhs are almost the same as observed by the Hindus. Besides, they celebrate the gurpurbs, i.e., the birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, and the martyrdom days of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Hola Mohalla is celebrated instead of Holi.

            A few sects among the Sikhs are Nihangs, Namdharis, Nirankaris, etc. The Nihangs have a dozen of deras in the district.

(d) Social Life

            The Indian Society is caste-ridden. No religion in the country can boast of having eliminated it. This district could not be an exception to it. Not long ago, people would mix up more freely within their castes. They had, however, great attachment with their community, village and mohallas, and were quite social with one another. They lived in localities, organized caste-wise or grou-wise. A particular caste or community of Hindus, Sikhs and Muhammadans had settled in a particular street or mohalla. The residents of the streets were generally from the same stock, forming a bradari. The bradari exercised a powerful influence over the individual in regard to his social and personal behaviour. Every man was bound to abide by the decisions of the bradari and was also required to have fellow-feelings.

            With the advent of the railways, construction of roads, spread of education, increase of trade and commerce, and development of industry, the avenues of liveihood radically changed. The socio-economic changes have thrown up tremendous opportunities of employment in the urban areas. This has, therefore, considerably lessened the control of the particular caste or group in particular areas. People have left their adobes for better avenues elsewhere and they have been replaced by others. The supremacy of the bradari has broken, but the mohalla feeling in the urban areas still persists in a milder form. The villages, however, have not experienced any rapid change. People are quite social with their neighbours and mix with one another freely. Though the sting of hatred for Scheduled Castes stands extracted with the passage of Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1956, yet the people of other castes and groups do not freely mix with them in the mohallas. Surprisingly enough, they have no such scruples while sitting in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, railway trains and buses. The Scheduled Castes generally live in separate bastis.

            The joint-family system appears to have outlived its utility. If seen more minutely, it still exists in a changed form. A person working in the urban areas as a labourer or workman generally keeps his family in his home village. Even when he is keeping his family with him, he has to do something to help the aged parents residing in the village in the shape of financial help on special occasions, e.g., a marriage, the construction of a house, and illness. He has to think also of ultimately returning to his ancestral village during old age unless he is properly provided for in the urban area. Similarly, a man belonging to the urban areas and working somewhere else has connections with his family in his home district. This arrangement continues till he becomes the head of a separate family after the marriage of his son and daughters.

            Despite tremendous scientific progress, people still generally believe in superstitions and sorcery. Although the spread of education and advances in medical science have considerably enlightened the people, yet the belief in superstitions persists. Uneducated people believe in sorcery to a great extent and the educated people also cannot be said to be entirely free from its influence. While going oit for some piece of work, if someone sneezes, or if a cat crosses the path or if anybody calls from behind, these are taken as bad omens. Instead of running to a doctor when one is sick among the lower strata, they rush to ascetics practicing sorcery-believed to be a cure for their ills.

            After independence, the practice of purdah has almost disappeared from among the Hindus and the Sikhs. The middle-aged ladies in the villages, however, still observe it. The practice may be expected to disappear in a decade or so. Elderly Muhammadan ladies, however, observe purdah, but it is on the wane among modern educated girls.

(i) Property and Inheritance

            The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, governs the inheritance of the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. In accordance with the Act, the property of the deceased is distributed among his sons, daughters, widow and mother. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, governs the adoption of the children and the maintenance allowance to the wife.

            Muslims are governed under the Shariat Act, 1937. Under Islamic law, the son/sons, wife/wives and daughter/daughters inherit the property of the deceased. Wife is the sole owner of mehr given to her at the time of marriage.

            Inheritance among Christians is governed under the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

(ii) Marriage and Morals

            Marriage.-Amonsg the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims, marriage is performed according to the customs prevalent in their respective communities. These may vary from place to place but not to any significant extent. A civil marriage is performed in accordance with the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It is open to any community and is performed in case of inter-caste or inter-religion marriage.

            Among Hindus, marriage is considered most sacred and obligatory. manu, the famous Hindu law-giver, classified marriages into eight types. Marriage amongst the Hindus and Sikhs is generally arranged by the parents. When the preliminaries are settled by the parents, the father of the girl, accompanied by certain relations or friends, visits the house of the boy and offers money and sweets. This custom is called thaka. It is not prevalent in the villages. When the regular engagement takes place, the boy is given seven dry dates by the father of the girl along with money and sweets. Some clothes and ornaments are also sent by the boy’s parents for the girl. After consulting the horoscope, the date of the wedding is fixed. A day before marriage, the ghori (mare) ceremony is observed. After the ghori ceremony, the boy stays either in a temple or with some friend.

            On the following day, the brat (marriage-party) moving in a procession, with the boy riding a mare, and led by bandsmen, proceeds to the bride’s house with great pmp and show. The latest trend is performance of bhangra, i.e. a dance, in front of the marriage procession by men and women. Fireworks are also displayed. The pmp and show of the brat depends upon the economic position of the boy’s parents. In front of the bride’s house, the milni (reception) takes place among the relations of the boy and the girl. Gifts and money are given by the girl’s relations. The brat is cordially received and is served sumptuous meals. The ceremony of lawan or phere is performed and the preist solemnizes it. The next day (or even the same day), the brat returns to the boy’s home with the bride and dowry. The bridegroom’s mother receives the bride with shagun.

            The commercial class of the Amritsar city, popularly known as lalas, spend lavishly on marriages, particularly on those of girls.

            The marriage among the Sikhs is performed according to the Anand Karj Act, 1909. The lawan or phere are performed by taking four rounds of the Holy Granth. The bridegroom and the bride are required to receive the Pahul or Amrit before marriage. In certain cases, the condition is relaxed and the Amrit is taken after marriage.

            The marriage among the Namdharis is very simple. The parents of the boy and the girl settle the marriage, but the final approval of the Namdhari Guru is a must. The marriage ceremony is performed by the Guru en masse. The prospective matches assemble in a big circle, duly bathed and robed in white. Their kierchiefs are knotted together. The lawan ceremony is performed by chanting hymns from the Granth Sahib. Five stanzas of Anand Sahib are recited. The distribution of prasad completes the wedding ceremony.

            Among the Muhammadans, the marriage is called nikah, which is mutual contract agreed upon by both the parties. The marriage is arranged by the parents of the boy and the girl, either through direct negotiations or through some mediator. The initiative is taken by the groom’s parents. The amount of the mehr by the bridegroom to the bride is settled. Mangni, i.e., betrothal, takes place at the bride’s house. With the usual feast, the nikah takes place. The bride’s vakil (agent) obtains her consent in the presence of two witnesses and conveys it to the groom. The mullah or deputy obtains the consent of the bridegroom and sanctifies the nikah.

            Among the Shia Muslims, the consent of the bridegroom is obtained first. The vakils of the bride and the bridegroom stand before each other and one asks the other if the consent has been obtained.

            Marriage among the Christians is performed in the church. The priest performs the marriage ceremony after baptizing the bride and the bridegroom. The relations and friends of boty assemble to greet the couple and are served with a feast.

Widow remarriage

            It is not very popular amongst the higher classes of Hindus. The vigorous propagation by the Arya Samaj in favour of widow remarriage has not achieved any tangible results. The widow remarrige with dewar (younger brother-in-law) in the villages by customary law – chadar-andazi is, however, generally practiced among the Sikhs. Muslims believe in widow remarriage, but their number being negligible in the district, no effect of this custom is noticed. The Christians also believe in widow remarriage.

            Widow remarriage is not only a progressive step in itself in the social field, but it is also an economic necessity. The new avenues of employment for women have, however, considerably eliminated it as an economic necessity. Even widows are able to earn their livelihood by getting themselves employed in government or private service.

            Morals.-There is nothing special in the district to justify the describing of any separate standards of morals. Every person eventually adopts the customary relations of conjugality. The disreputed persons or those who are extremely poor or are otherwise disabled or are suffering from infectious diseases do not marry or cannot get married. The percentage of well-to-do persons remaining unmarried is extremely small. This percentage is negligible among girls. Polygamy is not practiced, or it is only a rare phenomenon. Those, with more than one living wife, are debarred from Government service. In villages, people marry the widows of their brothers according to the custom of chadar-andazi owing to economic necessity or to check the spread of immorality. Sometimes, persons already married contract conjugal relations with the widows of their brothers, whom they keep as their second wives under the above-mentioned custom.

            Prostituion ended in the Punjab with the exodus of Muslims much earlier than the passage of the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956.

            The cases of immoral traffic in women generally escape the notice of the police. Only such cases as are reported to the police are investigated. The cases of immoral traffic in women and girls occur, because the labourers generally keep their families in the villages owing to the high cost of living in the cities and also owing to their irregular employment. They are, as much, addicted to liquor or other such vices and commit immoral traffic in women. This lapse is also not altogether absent amongst therich who indulge in such practices on account of their affluence and privileged social status. The growing disregard of the tradition cultural values among the people-rich and poor alike-is also one of the causes of increased moral laxity.

            The cases of elopement, enticement and abduction also cannot be properly checked, as these are generally caused by mutual consent. Since the percentage of such cases is negligible, it can hardly be inferred that these cases have anything to do with the prevalent moral standards.

            Birth and Death Ceremonies.-Among the Hindus, the ceremonies begin even before the birth of the child. When the mother is expectant, she is served with gifts (reet) amid rejoicing among relations and neighbours (women). When the child is born, the dai announces the birth to the members of the family. In case of a male child, the dai hangs some branches of sarish-tree from the top of the outer door of the house. An iron bangle is also tied to the cot of the mother. The oldest member in the family, father-in-law, if the delivery takes place in her in-laws’ house, or her father, in case the delivery takes place in her father’s house, consults the priest if the time of the birth is auspicious. If otherwise, upai (expiatory ceremony) is held. If the child is stated to be gund mool (born under bad stars), necessary remedies are practiced by the priest after a certain number of days and, only after that, gund mool is deemed to have been removed. No such formalities are observed when a female child is born. The child is named after consulting the priest. Nowadays, people do not bother the priest and name the child themselves. The mundan ceremony at the holy shrines of Vaishno Devi (near Jammu) or Chintpurni (near Hoshiarpur). These customs, however, vary from family to family and from individual to individual.

            The ceremonies among the Hindus and the Sikhs are practically the same. The sutak period of 40 days is not strictly observed by mothers, especially in the rural areas. Instead of the mundan ceremony, the Sikhs perform kesi dahi by putting curd into the hair of the male child and bathing him. The custom is practically extinct amongst the Jats.

            Among the Muslims no ceremony is observed when a female child is born. On the birth of a male child, the mullah comes on any day between the first day and the third day of the birth and utters the kalma in the ear of the child. After three days, the mother comes out with the child in her lap and gazes at the sky and the stars. The period of impurity ends with the fast (iqiqa). The child is named in consultation with the mullah.

            Circumcision (sunnat) of the male child is performed before he attains the age of twelve. A child born circumcised is called a Rasulia.

            In case of death among the Hindus and the Sikhs, the dead body is bathed and wrapped in a piece of white cloth and placed on the bier. In case of the death of a very old person, the bier is tastefully decorated and taken to the cremation-ground without any usual mourning and is sometimes accompanied by a band. At the cremation-ground, the dead body is placed on the pyre and burnt by adding ghee and samagri to it. On the third day, the ashes, i.e., charred bones (phul, as these are called) are collected and, subsequently, immersed in the holy Ganga at Hardwar (U.P.). The Sikhs generally immerse the ashes in the Satluj at Patalpuri near Kiratpur (District Ropar). The mourning period lasts for thirteen days amont the Hindus and seven days among the Sikhs.

            The Jains also burn their dead. The obsequies are performed by their priest. The notable difference is that they do not mourn their dead and instead forget everything about them after their cremation.

            Among the Muslims, the dead body is covered with cloth, put on the bier and taken to the graveyard. The last prayer is offered near the graveyard. The dead body is laid to rest in the grave, the head being towards the north and face towards the west. After filling the grave with the earth the mullah recites verses from the Koran. The relations and friends, who have assembled, pray for the deceased. After forty days, alms are distributed among the poor and the needy.

            The Christians also bury their dead. They put the dead body in the coffin (a wooden box) and the priest offers prayers. The coffin is taken to the cemetery and laid to rest in the grave. After closing the grave, they line it with bricks. Sometimes an epitaph is installed towards the head of the dead body, giving brief particulars about the person.

(iii) Home life

            Types of Dwellings.-From the earliest times, the types of dwellings of the people have reflected their material, cultural and social progress. The rich and well-to-do persons generally constructed their houses in the center of the villages. The lofgy havelis, rising among the clusters of small houses, are an index of the economic status of the owners. Similarly, in the towns, the rich persons constructed houses which ensured the greatest security for the occupants. Amritsar could easily boast to be one of the biggest cities of the Punjab during the ninettenth century, and, in the truncated and reorganized Punjab, the city continues to enjoy the highest status. The maximum number of houses were built within the walled city. Around the city, there was a ditch. The open space in the houses served as courtyards which have generally disappeared in case of small houses. It was after the eighties of the ninettenth century when the said ditch was got filled with debris by the Municipal Committee that the people started residing outside the walled city.

            Amritsar is one of the most congested cities in the State. It has 7398 houses per square mile (only next to Ludhiana having 8202 houses per square mile). Patti, primarily a Muhammadan town before 1947, is also an equally congested town. The main cause of congestion in Amritsar has been that, being a trading center, more and more people wished to settle here. Additional accommodation could only be found by raising more structures in the courtyards. As against Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jandiala Guru and Khem Karan have been comparatively free from congestion.

            After the partition, the concept of the types of houses has altogether changed. Houses are now built on modern designs and are generally provided with all the amenities, including underground drainage.

            In the rural areas, the improvement in this respect has not been so marked. The houses in the Amritsar and Tarn Taran tahsils are mostly pucca. Some of the villages in the Ajnala Tahsil and in the Patti Tahsil (near Khem Karan) are completely kachcha. This is due to the economic backwardness of the people or due to their keen desire to invest their money in agriculture. However, the villages have mostly been electrified.

            The houses in the villages are quite commodious. The cattle are tied there. Fodder and foodgrains are also stored. The middle-class farmers construct a pucca outer room, called baithak (sitting-room). Generally, they do not make any provision for bath-rooms and latrines in the houses.

            The houses of well-to-do people in the rural areas are mostly pucca. These are generally on the pattern of the houses built in the towns.

            There are 359335 houses in the district. Out of these 122281 are in the urban areas and 237054 in the rural areas. Out of the 122281 urban houses 90180 are in Amritsar. Out of the total number of houses, 1066 are shop-cum-dwellings in the rural areas and 714 in the urban areas, and 148 workshop-cum-dwellings in the rural areas and 210 in the urban areas. The tahsil-wise break-up of the houses is as under :-


Name of Tahsil

Number of houses





Ajnala Tahsil
















Amritsar Tahsil




















Tarn Taran Tahsil




















Patti Tahsil




















(Census of India, 1961, Punjab District Census Handbook No.13, Amritsar District, p. 292)

            Furniture and Decoration.-The items of furniture and decoration in the rural and urban areas of the distridt do not differ much from those generally prevalent in the rest of the State.

            Normally, a house in the rural areas has charpoys, pihris, muhras, bara muhras and occasionally a chair and a table. Better-class rural people have also a radio or a transistor for recreation.

            The items of decoration include calendars of gods and goddesses, the Gurus, national leaders, actresses, etc. hung on the walls. Sometime they also fix wooden plank, supported by pegs, to a wall to keep on it pieces of crockery, toys, etc. They also plaster the inner walls and the floor of the house (if it is kachcha) with cow-dung. Occasionally, they also paint some figures of animals and birds on the outer gate of decorate the house. The pucca houses have also some painted work at the gate for ornamentation. The interior of such houses is decorated with framed pictures and calendars. Such houses have some items of furniture, e.g., chairs and tables, besides niwari plangs.

            In the urban areas, normally plangs, tables and chairs are used. Radiosets and transistors are also commonly seen. There are also pieces of crockery although cheap, e.g. tea-sets, tea-cups and plates; someties the middle-class people can afford more items of furniture, but the acute shortage of accommodation discourages them from buying these.

            The houses of rich people in the rural and urban areas have all the modern items of furniture, e.g. sofa-sets, divans, carpets, and decoration pieces. In the urban areas, such houses have even refrigerators. These people have generally spacious accommodation.

            The side-effect of the rapid urbanization and industrialization of Amritsar is the emergence of slums. The industrial labourer, getting better wages than the village labourer, is obliged to find shelter in dingy slums. He can at best afford to hire a one-room set which is to serve as bed, drawing and dining room. The Amritsar Improvement Trust has undertaken certain housing schemes to eliminate the slums.

Dress and Ornaments


            The climate, tradition and heritage of a locality play an important part in the development of the dress of the residents. The people of the surrounding areas and countries also have significant impact on the dress pattern of the people of a particular area. For instance, the Muhammadans left a notable impact on our dress, Shalwar and qamiz, put on generally by unmarried Hindu and Sikh girls, is essentially a Muhammadan dress. During the British rule in the Punjab for about a century, following the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, the European dress also gained considerable popularity, especially among the educated people.


The dress of men in rural areas is kurta, tahmad made of long-cloth and a turban. They generally wear desi jutti (country shoes). The Western type of shoes are also fairly common. The notable thing among the Majha people is that they keep a sheet of long-cloth on their shoulders in summer and woollen or shoddy shawl in winter. They generally apply starch to their turbans but do not colour them. They tie the turban in a quaintrope like fashion in a loose manner. From his typical turban, a Majha Jat can be recognized without much difficulty. The people of rural areas, belonging to the Khem Karan side, leave one end of the turban on the back. In winter, they generally put on a black woollen jackets. The women of rural areas have no peculiarity about their dress. They wear shalwar, qamiz and dupatta (orhni). The wearing of a sari is almost unknown in the villages.


            The dress of lower classes and the Scheduled Castes in the rural areas is not different from that of the other residents. The only difference is that they have a marked liking for gaudy colours.


            The dress in the urban areas, especially of the people of Amritsar, is noteworthy. The educated people dress themselves in the European fashion and their dress is not different from that of the people in other parts of the State. The members of the commercial community, called lalas, dress themselves in white. They wear either a fine dhoti or a white pyjama, a white shirt and a black cap. In winter, they also wear sweaters and coats. Besides, they keep a woollen chaddar on their shoulders. They are well dressed and change their clothes daily. Nowhere in the State, the commercial class is so well dressed as the lalas of Amritsar.

            The women of the urban areas are most fashionable. They put on sari, blouse, shalwar, qamiz, kurta and churidar pyjama. The ultramodern women also put on the Western types of dress. The commercial community being very rich, their women put on costly clothes. The women of Amritsar have a special liking for silk. The old ladies keep a silken dopatta over the muslin dopatta. Thus they use a double headwear. The girls in the urban areas generally wear shalwar and qamiz, and kurta and churidar pyjama. In Amritsar, the girls also wear Western types of dress, i.e., skirts and jeans. The young boys of the middle-class families in Amritsar are dressed in the traditional manner. The children of ultramodern families are dressed in the Western style.


Contents    Next