Gaddis Tribe (Shiva’s follower)

In the Northern state of Himachal Pradesh lives a tribe known for their rich cultural heritage, captivating traditions, and close connection with nature. Himachal is the abode of snow and Gadhika is the cultural heritage of the Gaddi community. Gaddis have faith in God and Goddesses especially Lord Shiva. Typically, nomadic people but now have settled in places still preserving their original folk culture. They are mainly found in Himachal Pradesh.  The community occupies the inaccessible, inhospitable terrain in between the Pir-Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges, between Ravi and Chenab rivers. The word Gaddi is a generic name, and it includes all sects of Hindu society. The language spoken within the community is Gaddi. They have annual fairs and festivals which they celebrate with music and dancing.

Gaddi is a generic term which includes the Brahmin, the Rajputs, the Thakurs, the Khatris and many more.  Due to the hilly terrain, there is less agricultural land, so they had adopted their main occupation by rearing sheep and goats in the surrounding green wild pastures. Due to heavy snowfall in winters, most of these people migrate with their flocks of sheep and goats to the lower hills in the district Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Bilaspur, and Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.  The truth is that though only a fraction of them today lives a pastoral life, most of them remain religiously devoted to their old lifestyle. The main occupation of the Gaddi tribe is shepherding, and they make their livelihood by rearing and selling sheep’s, goats, mules, and horses.   Gaddis shepherds are not nomads anymore. They have homes and land which they or their families cultivate. Now people from Gaddi community have also started adopting several other occupations for earning their livelihood.

Semi-nomadic, the Gaddi migrate with their livestock during summers and wait out winters in their homes, mostly in Chamba and Kangra District. Since their farms yield little, they depend on selling their sheep, wool, and goatskin to traders, often exchanging meat for food grains in the villages they pass during migrations. The four major livelihood activities for Gaddi’s are transhumance, agriculture, shopkeeper, and services. 

The main occupation of Gaddi is herding sheep and goats and preparing Khadi costumes for them. They turned wool into charkha, then used the wool to make blankets, trousers, long coats, Dhoru(woolen sari) caps and shoes. Even sheep wool is used for making shawls, carpets and blankets which are spun in traditional style at their homes as they are experts in weaving.

Gaddi Tradition:

The Gaddi’s wear simple traditional dress normally. On special occasions they wear full traditions dresses with full ornaments.

Gaddi is an Indo-Aryan language of India, which is spoken by the Gaddi tribe primarily residing in Bharmaur region of Chamba district and upper Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Gaddi- The semi-agriculture tribe of Bharmaur area of Chamba district is identifiable due to their typical dress comprising topi, Chola, and Dora. They support a hukkah in their hand and Khairi containing cereals and their essentials in their back.

The difference among the Gaddi community is due to their dressing style. The Gaddi tribal men wear Chola, Turban or Safa and Dora. While Gaddi women wears Launchiri, the full-length traditional dress with dora. Gaddi tribal women and men both use ornaments of Gold mostly gold earrings and used by the males of the Gaddi community.

Majority of Gaddi tribe people are Hindus, you will also find Muslim Gaddi people in their community, around Lahaul and Chamba District.

Shiv-Parvati Vivah:

It is believed that there is a mutual relationship between Shiva- marriage and Gaddi tribal marital tradition. It is known as every tradition and customs of Gaddi tribe relate to Lord Shiva. What this means is that kind of auspicious rituals that Mahadev had performed on his marriage ceremony the people of Gaddi community have been following similar customs and traditions on the occasion of their marriage ceremonies for centuries. Anyone who wants to see the Shiv Parvati vivah can become a part of this great culture heritage and get the honor of witnessing the ‘Shiv-Parvati’ marriage themselves.

Colorful Festivals:

The Gaddis celebrate some other festivals of Hindu tradition i.e. Bisu /Baisakhi, Sair, Lohri and Dholra.

 Bisu festival is celebrated on 1st Baisakh. It is called Baisakhi in other parts of India. At this festival a dance is performed by the girls only. They take cakes Of Bhares and wheat flour on this day.

Sair: “Sair is celebrated by Gaddi tribe with great enthusiasm on 1st of Asuj (Sep-Oct) month. Meat is eaten with locally made sur (homemade Beer) and roti is eaten with a variety of vegetables. Married daughters visit their parents. This day is considered the end of rainy season, and new clothes are purchased on this occasion.

Lohri: Lohri is also celebrated by Gaddi tribes, Khichri or rice and mashed dal is eaten with desi ghee and curd on this day.

Shivratri : Favorite festival of Gaddi tribe is Shivratri as it is associated with Lord Shiva in the month of Phaigun (Feb-March) Some people keep fast and cereals are not taken by many persons.

Patroru Sagrand:  It is celebrated on 1st of Bhadon (August- September) month. On the eve of the day ‘Kachalu leaves’ rolled with gram flour are fried in oil. Babrus are also eaten on this day.

In addition to these other festivals like holi, Dussehra and Janamashtmi festivals are also celebrated in the same manner by the Gaddi tribal community.

Gaddi Fairs:

Gaddis are known for their simple living style and are very religious. Most of them still practice their old traditions and customs. They are also fond of music and dance and their important fairs are Minjar in Chamba, Bharmour Jatra and Sui mela.

Some of them even go to Chamba to attend the Minjar Fair. Many go to Mani Mahesh also to have a dip in the holy waters and perform Puja. In Kangra District Dal fair, Khanyara fair, Dari fair and Holi fairs at different places are held which are equally attended by Gaddis. To the fairs they go well dressed in their traditional attractive clothes. The use of Sur and Jhol is very common in the fairs.  Very few Gaddis go to attend the ‘Suhi’ fair which is held at Chamba. In this fair “Naina Devi” is worshipped. A six-day long fair which is held at Bharmour, is also attended by a few Gaddis of Kangra District.

Facts about Gaddi Tribe:

1) The Gaddi lives around Himachal Pradesh Dhauladhar range, mostly in Bharmour region and Chamba District and near Dharamsala.

2) The Gaddis derive their name from the name of the land they live in – Gadheran.

3) Their main occupation is herding sheep and goats.

4) The Gaddis can walk for several miles together, traverse difficult terrain and can pass high peaks without any significant damage. These same trails are used by trekkers nowadays to meet their adventures needs.

Gaddis Tribe (Shiva’s follower) - Sheeraz Ahmad

Share post :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *