Jat is Muslim community living in Banni and Lakhpat area, migrated from Persia and from Sindh. They are classified as Fakirani Jat, Garasia Jat and Dhaneta Jat.
Being born and brought up in Kutch region and especially hosting and guiding tourists for the last 7 years I’ve met so many interesting local tribes/communities living in Kutch who have impressed many visitors with their colorful culture and way of harmonious existence in the Great Rann of Kutch.
Here is the brief introduction of these communities:
Rabari people are on top of the list. They moved in Kutch from Sindh region, Jaisalmer-Rajasthan and settled in Kutch about 700-800 years ago. They are classified in 3 groups. One group of Rabari known as ‘Dhebar’ or ‘Dhebariya’, is still wandering in the wild with their sheep, camels while other two Kachhi and Vagadiya have been settled. Rabari Men are wearing white and tight jacket with bit of Rabari embroidery, White Turban over the head, white loose trouser (kind of dhoti styled) and their ears are pierced. They have innocent and attractive features. Rabari Women wears mostly black cloths with embroideries, identically women’s top (blouse) embroidered with colorful Rabari stitches and black headgear with embroidery. Their arms and feet are tattooed and they wear long/big golden/silver ornaments. Bhujodi, Anjar, Nakhatrana and Vagad are best place to find these people. However wandering group can only be spotted by chance.
Harijan is another interesting community. They migrated from Marwar (Rajasthan) about 500 years ago. They lives in most parts of Kutch yet the most traditional Harijan are Marwada Harijan, who moved down in the Kutch from Marwar (Rajasthan). They lives in Banni area surrounded by the Great Rann of Kutch, living in Bhunga” a traditional Hut made of grass, mud, wood and decorated inside with lot of mirror and mud work. Sometimes outside also painted with colors. Harijan Men wears simple white (Pathani suit-seems they have adopted this from their Sindhi (Muslim neighbors) and white and blue checkered turban. However they look bit bland compare to ladies who wear most beautiful and colorful cloths. They wear stunning Kanjiri (women top-completely hand embroidered with mirrors, Skirt and headgear, some of them wear quite big nose-ring and lot of other ornaments, They make their own beaded necklace, wrist belts and some other accessories. Hodka, Bhirandiyara, Ludiya, Khavda are well known villages to meet them.
Mutva, Halepotra, Pathan, Raysipotra
They are some of well-known Muslim communities, living in Banni and Pachchham area (northern part of Kutch). They are buffalo breeders since they moved in Kutch from Sindh in search of grass & water while, once upon a time, Kutch region had Asia’s finest grassland-Banni Grassland. They are traditional as well as conservative but yet they are quite friendly with visitors and one must not miss chance to meet them. They are some of the most hospitable people in the world. People in Banni, in general, are taller than others. They wear bright and one-colored Pathani suit, they have long and sharp nose as well as chin, some with red beard (due to Hena/mahendi) Bhirandiyara is junction village in Banni to get to see all these people in their day to day lifestyles. Mutva women are famous for Mutva Embroidery which is done by using tiny mirrors, thick stitches and sometimes with metal threads known as Mukko embroidery.
Ahir is also well known and quite populated Hindu community living in Kutch and believed to be descendent of Lord Krishna. Ahir Men are farmers living in villages around Bhuj and Anjar.
Men wears white shirt, white turban (different style of wearing) white (vanjno-kind of dhoti styled) Ahir women wears mostly black skirts, colorful top (choli, mostly green or pink) and headgear (Bandhni-tie & dye) Ahir women are also famous for their extra-ordinary embroideries known as Ahir Bharat” They use motif represents parrots, elephant, peacocks and big round mirrors (generally) Sumrasar Shaikh, Ratnal, Dhaneti, Chapredi and many other villages of Anjar Taluka, Bhuj Taluka(block) are area to meet them.
Jat is another interesting Muslim community living in Banni and Lakhpat area, they are also buffalo breeders, some are camel herders, believed to be migrated long ago (500-600 years) from Persia and from Sindh. They are classified as Fakirani Jat, Garasia Jat and Dhaneta Jat. Jat women wear one long cloth (reaches almost down their knee) they wear very large nose-ring, perhaps the largest nose ring being worn today in entire Kutch, perhaps in India. They are also skilled embroiders and their work known as Jat Embroidery. You can also see them at Bhid gate, in Bhuj, unloading their milk cans and loading jeep with cattle feed. Udhma, Bhitara, Sarada, Bhagadiya, Servo are their populated villages.
There are some other communities living in Kutch. Some of them are Koli, Vaghri, Vadi, etc. They don’t wear any distinguish outfits though they have kind of different looks/appearance that I personally consider them having photogenic faces. You can find them selling vegetables, pulling carts, earlier some of them were snake charmers (now it’s prohibited in the name of Cruelty to Animals, Thank goodness as we are not aware of great harm to many other animal spices, became victim of pollution caused by so called Industrialization in Kutch.
Every year many visitors comes to Kutch because of above mentioned communities who have preserved their traditional lifestyles, outfit and consider as traditional communities of Kutch. Many of them are either cattle breeders or farmers and living in close contact with Nature. However the growing tourism in recent decade affected some of these people in vary manner and so one must be careful, respectful to locals and must gain their consent before visiting their villages/homes. Friendly introduction or local reference would change the game and you will be able to know them better and also would be invited for a cup of tea or meal.