People & Culture

Population

The population of the district in the census of 1991 resulted to be 4242310 (Auraiya district's population included) with the density of about 946 persons per sq. km. The sex ratio is 816 females per 1000 males in rural area and 870 females per 1000 males in urban area.
  

Language and Script

The language of practically the entire poopulation is what is known as western Hindi. The returns of the census 1981 showed that this language was spoken by about 96.8 per cent of the population. In 1971, the percentage of Hindi speaking persons was 96.4. Western Hindi is split up into several subdivisions. In 1981, the language known as Hindustani or Urdu was spoken by about 3.10 per cent (3.35 per cent in 1961) of the people, representing for the most part the inhabitants of Etawah city, while the bulk of the people spoke Antarbedi, or its varient called Pachharua, so called after the tract of that name. In the trans-Yamuna portion of the district the dialect is known as Bhadauri, which is a form of Bundelkhandi, itself a branch of Hindi. It derives its name from Bhadawar, the home of the Bhadoria Rajputs. A few people also speak Punjabi, Bengali or Sindhi. Devannagri script is being used for Hindi and its allied branches such as Garhwali, Kumauni etc. and the script used for Urdu is Persian. The other languages generally using their own scripts.
  

Religion and Caste

In 1991, Hindus percentage was 92.79% against the state average of 83.76% and 6.63% of Muslims as compared to the state average of 15.48%. The remaining 0.58% of the district population was comprised of  Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Buddhists.
Hindu
The major community was originally divided into four branches, Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. This ancient division was mainly occupational but gradually developed into a hereditary order. Now in modern society, due to the impact of progressive social and economic forces, the old cast structure is crumbling though somewhat slowly. It has already lost its rigidity. There are several social  groups like Kayasths, Gujars etc. present for this community.

Hindu castes.
According to the returns of the last census the Hindu population of the district was composed of representatives of 69 different castes, while in the case of 39 persons no caste was specified. Only a few of these however, are of any great importance. There are five castes with over 50,000 members apiece together accounting for 56.39 per cent of the Hindu inhabitants: six others occur in numbers exceeding 20,000 making up 17.87 per cent and 8 more are represented by over 10,000 souls, an additional 12.32 per cent. The remainder, 13.42 per cent in all, comprises persons belonging to a great variety of castes, the majority of which are common to all parts of the the country and are not specially noticeable.

Scheduled Caste/Harijans
First in point of numbers among the Hindu castes of the district come Scheduled Caste/Harijans, of whom in 1991 there were 5,31,885 forming 12.5 percent  of the Hindu population. Their numbers are almost equally divided among the five tahsil of the district and there is nothing particular to note concerning them. As elsewhere, they occupy almost the lowest place in the social scale and form the bulk of the labouring population.

Ahirs
The second place is held by Ahirs with 102,698 representatives or 13.56 of the Hindu population. Like Scheduled Caste/Harijans they are very equally divided in all tahsils, but are a litle more numerous in Etawah than elsewhere.  Neither Nandbans nor Gwalabans Ahirs are numerous, and other subdivisions are very scantily represented. Ahir occupy a considerable amount of land as tenants, and are found much scattered in hamlets on outlying lands, where they have a readier access to the available pasture grounds in the village. As cultivators they can, on the whole, rank on an equality with Brahmans and Rajputs, but fall far behind Kachhis and Lodhis.

Brahmans
Third on the list come Brahmans, of whom in 1991 there were 96,943 or 12.77 percent of the Hindus. They are considerably more numerous in Bharthana and considerably less numerous in Bidhuna than in the other tahsils. Throughout the district,they belong chiefly to the Kanaujia division. Most of the Kanaujia Brahmans are of the Dube family. One celeberated member of this family, by name Sheo Nath, is said to have accompanied the Chauhans in their first immigration to Etawah under Sumer Sah. There does not appear to have been any great clan movement into this district on the part of the Kanaujias. The ancestors of the present families came in by degrees as the purohits of the conquering tribes, and, after first obtaining grants of land for subsistence, gradually accumulated considerable possessions. Under the Government of the Nawab Wazur the old hereditary landholders were often glad to allow their purohits to act for them in their dealings with the amils of the Oudh court. This system was continued under British rule with the result that Brahmans became recorded as proprietors of countless estates to the total disregard of the claims of those who had held possession of them for six hundred years. The Kanaujia houses of Lakhna and Dalipnagar are said to be descended from Dhan and Man, who came into the district from Nandhana in the Kanpur district in the sixteenth century. 

Rajputs
Next to Brahmans come Rajputs, of whom in 1991 there were 69,050 representatives, forming 9.12 percent of the Hindu population. They are most numerous in Bharthana  tahsil, and fewest in Bidhuna. At last settlement they held as much as 34.83 percent of the total area as landlords, even exceeding Brahmans; while as tenants their holdings fell somewhat short of that caste. There are one or two large Rajput proprietors, but their villages are generally held in copareenary tenure, and as cultivators they are indifferent.

Chauhan
First in point of number these clans is the Chauhan. In 1991 they numbered 11,134 persons, scattered over all tahsils, but considerably more numerous in Bharthana tahsil, and to a less extent, Etawah, than elsewhere. Tradition makes Sumer Shah, the fourth in descent from Prithviraj of Delhi, their leader at the time of their migration to Etawah; and their first acquisitions were wrested from the Meos. As the colony progressed it is said to have taken possessions of the whole country from Chhibramau in Farrukhabad to the Yamuna, including 1,162 villages. Aat all events from an early date the Chauhans colonised the western portion of the district, leaving a debateable land bedtween themselves and the Sengars, which their Brahman dependants soon occupied. From this stock is sprung the Raja of Partabner, the Chakarnagar and Sakrauli families who lost their estates for rebellion, and the former Raos of Jasohan and Kishni, who have sunk into the position of petty zamindars.

Sengars
The Sengars, who number 7,201 persons, are probably the earliest Rajput settlers in the district. Their stronghold is Bidhuna and in Etawah their numbers are insignificant. The Sengars claim descent from one Singi or Sringi Rishi ( so called from a horn which he had on his forehead), a Brahman, who married the daughter of a Gaharwar Raja of Kanauj. From one of his sons came the Gautams of Argal in Fatehpur, and to another, Padam, the Sengars trace their origin. 

Muslim
The majority of Muslims in the district belong to the Sunni sect. Among them the most numerous are the Sheiks. Their main subdivisions represented here are the Qurreshis and Siddiqis and most of them are residing in Etawah tahsil. Pathans are more evenly distributed than Sheiks, but like them are more numerous in Etawah than in the other tahsils; they belong for the most part to the Gori, Lodi and Yasufzai clans. The remaining Muslim subdivisions, mostly occupational are the Darzi, Hajjam, Dhobi, Qassab, Faqir, Lohar and Bhisti etc.

Sikh
In 1971, there were 1,766 Sikhs in the district, of whom 928 were males and 838 famales, residing mainly in urban areas and only 428 in the rural areas. They constitute 0.12 per cent. of the district population. 

Christian
In 1991, there were 301 Christians of whom 201  were residing in urban areas. They constitute only 0.01 per cent of the district population.

Jain
They numbered 3610 in 1991, with 3087 residing in urban areas and share 0.17% of the total population. They are usually called Saraogis.

Buddhist
In 1991, they numbered 5659 of whom 5510 were of them were residing in rural areas. They constitute about 0.27 percent of the district population.

 

Festivals and Fairs

Hindu Festivals
The series of festivals commence with Sheetla Ashtmi, which falls on the 8th day of the first fortnight of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calender, when goddess Sheetla is worshipped. The 9th day of the bright fortnight of that month is called Ram Navmi, when the birthday of Lord Rama is celebrated with great rejoicings and fairs are held at Lakhna and other places. The 10th day of the latter half of Jyaistha is called the Ganga or Jeth Dasahra, when the Hindus take a bath in the river. Nag Panchami falls on the 5th day of the bright half of Sravana, when the Nagas or serpent gods are worshiped by offering of milk, flowers and rice. On Raksha Bandhan, which falls on 15th day of bright half of the same month, rakhis (thread symbolising protection) are tied by sisters around the right wrist of their brothers and by Brahmana priests to their patrons. Janmashtmi is observed on the 8th day of the dark half of Bhadra to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. The 30th day of Asvina is the Pitra Visarjan Amavasya, when manes are propitiated.

The worship of Durga is continued for nine day during the bright half of Asvina, known as Nav-Ratri and the 9th day of that is known as Durga Naumi. The next day is Dasahra or Vijaya Dashmi, dedicated to the worship of goddess Vijaya, also commemorating the victory of Rama over Ravana. The Ramlila celebrations are held at various places in the district. The 4th day of the bright half of Kartika is called Karva Chauth, when married women keep fast for the well-being of their husbands. Deepawali falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of Kartika, but festivities start two days earlier with Dhan Teras, celebrated as the birth day of Dhanvantri, the divine physician. On the main day of the festival every Hindu house is illuminated and the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. On the third day of Deepawali, after Goverdhan and Chitragupta or Dawait puja, Bhaiya Dweej is celebrated when ladies put Roli mark (tika) on the forehead of their brothers. On the 8th day of bright half of that month, the Gopasthmi is celebrated when the cow is worshipped. A big bathing festival is organised on Kartika Puranmashi, the full moon day, when people take a bath in the river and fairs are held at different places in the district. The Sakat Chauth falls on the 4th day of the dark half of Magha when the male children cut the figure of a goat made of til and their mothers keep fasts. 

The Makar Sankranti coincides with the transit of the sun from Dhanu to Makara and is celebrated as a bathing festivals and falls on the 11th day of dark fortnight of Magha. Vasant Panchami, which falls on the 5th day of the later fortnight of Magha, is devoted to the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Shivaratri is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva's wedding and falls on the 13th day of the dark half of Phalguna. A fast observed and the temples of Shiva are specially decorated. For the Arya Samajists, Shivaratri is a memorable day because Dayananda, the son of a devotee of Shiva and the founder of this school got enlightenment on this night. They celebrate the week preceding this day as Rishi-bodha-saptah and arrange discourses by learned scholars for the seven days. 

Holi is the concluding and important of festivals of Vikram Era falling on the last day of Phalguna, when bonfires are lighted on cross-roads at a fixed time, to commemorate the annihilation of all evil forces of the previous year represented by the demon god's sister Holika. The ears of the newly harvested barley are roasted in them to serve as on offering to the god. The most interesting feature of this festival is the squirting of coloured water and the rubbing of coloured powder (abir and gulal) in a frolicsome mood. On this occasion people exchange greetings by visiting the houses of their friends and relations. The rural inhabitants also sing phaags on dholak, the favourite songs of the season. This festival is gradually assuming the status of a national festival celebrated by all sections  Sikhs, Muslims and Christians also participating except the very orthodox among them. 

About sixty fairs, big and small, are held annually in the district. Most of the festivals are accompanied by local fairs too. Of these, the exhibition and cattle fair of Etawah is the most important. They are attended by about 2,00,000 persons and heads of cattle sold number between 10,000 and 15,000.

Muslim Festivals
They celebrate almost all the important festivals, but the number of their festivals is limited. The important ones are being given below. Their festivals start with the Ashra (Muharram), which falls on the 10th day of Muharram. The first ten days of the month of Muharram are devoted to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet of Islam and His companions on the battle field of Karbala, and are particularly observed as a mourning period by the Shias. On Ashra, the last of the ten days being the most important one, when Imam Husain was killed, the tazias are taken out in procession for burial at Karbala. Chehlum, on the 20th of Safar, failing on the 40th day from Ashra, usually marks the end of the period of moukrning. On the 12th of the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal falls Barawafat mwhich marks the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, when alms art distributed amd discourses on His life and missions are hedld. Shabe-barat the 14th day of Shaban, is a festival of rwejoicing marking the birth of the 12th Imam. It is celebrated by a display of fireworks, distribution of sweets, and fatiha prayers for the peace of the souls of departed ones. Ramzan is the month of fasting and on its expirty i.e. on visibility of the moon the festival of Id-ul-fitar is celebrated on Shawwal Ist by offering namaz in Idgahs and mosques, and exchanging gifts and greetings. The Id-ul-Zuha their last festival, is celebrated on the 10th of the month of Zilhij, to commemorate the occasion when Prophet Ibrahim resolved to treat his son Ismail as an offering to mark the highest form of the sacrificial spirit which was blessed by God the mercifulo who rewarded him by not busting Ismail and having a sheep to sanctify the altar instead. The Muslims say their namaz (community prayers) in Idgahs and sacrifice sheep and goats. The typical feature of these two festivals is the eating of sewain. 

Their important fairs held in the district are the urs celebrations of some important pirs (Muslim saints), who flourished here at one time or the other. Among these, the urs performed at Karwa Buzurg village and Phaphund are of most importance.

Sikh Festivals
The important festivals of Shikhs are the birthdays of Guru Nanak Deva and Guru Govind Singh when processions are taken out, congregational prayers are held in gurdwaras and extract from the holy Granth are recited. Their festivals are Baisakhi and Lohri, local fairs are held at gurdwaras on each occasion.

Christian Festivals
The important festivals of the Christians are Christmas, falling on December 25th, marking the birthday of Jesus Christ, Good Friday which commemorates his crucifixion, and Easter in memory of his resurection. New Year's Day (1st day of January) is also celebrated by them and the Christmas celebrations usually end with new year.

Jain Festivals
They celebrate the birth and the nirvana anniversaries of the last Tirthankara, Mahavira, the former on the 13th day of the bright half of Chaitra and the latter on the Deepawali day. The Paryushan or the Dashalakshanaparva, during the last days of Kartika, Phalguna and Asadha are the periodical holy days when the devotees observe a fast and perform worship in temples.

Buddhist Festivals
The prinipal festival of the Buddhists is the Buddha Purnima, celebrated on the last day of Vaisakha, which marks the birthday of Buddha as well as his nirvana.

  

Dress

The people of Etawah have colorful and different attires. The Sari-blouse-petticoat trio is the most favourite dress of ladies of all denominations, though women in Dupatta-kurta-salwar combinations are usually met with.

The best known Etawah's outfit is the 'Sari'. This graceful attire is a rectangular piece of Cloth, normally 5 to 6 meters in length and over a meter in width. It is worn without any pins or buttons or fastenings. The tightly fitted short blouse worn under a sari draped over the wearer's shoulder, is known as the Pallav or palloo. The style, color and texture of a saree varies from one to another and may be made from cotton, silk or one of several man-made materials. Its ageless charm is provided from the fact that it is not cut or tailored for any particular size, and can fit any woman. 

Another form of outfit supported by Indian women is  known as Salwar-suit. Kurta is a long tunic worn over pyjama like trousers, drawn in at the waist and ankles, known as 'Salwar', or a tight fitting trouser known as 'Chudidaar'. This dress is popular among the Muslim and Punjabi ladies and unmarried Hindu girls. The collarless or mandarain collared kurta, can be worn over a chudidaar and is popular with both men and women.

The men in village use to wear the traditional attires like kurtas, lungis, dhotis and pyjama. The collerless  Khadi (homespun cloth) jackets known as 'Nehru Jackets' are popular also popular. The muslim women wear the traditional all enveloping 'Burkha' and the men use to wear a round cap on their head.

  

Ornaments

  
Men are not so fond of ornaments, sometime they wear a gold or silver ring on their finger, and a thin chain around the neck. Women, generally, adorn their wrists with churis (banglse) made of glass, silver or gold, anguthis (finger rings), necklaces, nose-ring, nose-pendent, nose-stud, ear-ring, payal, bichua (only maried women) waist girdle and the like. The poor people usually go in for silver ornaments and the rich have gold pieces sometimes studded with precious stones and pearls. The lust for heavy jewellery is, however, on the decline partly due to the high prices of gold and silver, and poartly because of social transformation and fear of loss.
  

Food

  
Wheat constitutes the staple food of the people, other materials commonly consumed here as food being maize, barley, gram and jowar. Chapaties prepared from kneaded wheat or corn flour are generally eaten with dal or gur and milk. The pulses consumed here are urd, arhar, moong, chana, masur etc. One major meal is taken at about 1 P.M. in the day. Breakfast consists of tea and any of the Indian or western stuff. At nightfall the people take a light meal. Among edible fats ghee, vanaspati and mustard oil are more commonly used. The pure ghee of Etawah is quite famous for its thickness and purity. Spicy diet is not preferred though people are quite fond of pickles, chutneys and bari-mangauris.

Dance & Music

Regional Music and Dance
Popular varieties of folk music prevalent through out western U.P. e.g. the Allaha, Phaag, Kajari and Rasiyas, etc. are popular in this district as well, and are sung at different times of the year. Folk songs known as Dhola, Unchari and Langadia are also very common in the villages. Bhajans, Kirtan in a chorus to the accomplishment of musical instruments is very much liked by the inhabitants of the district.

A number of open air performances, combining the rural style of folk music and dancing with a central theme are a regular feature of rural life in the district. The dance named Banjasha is one of the most popular folk dances of villagers of the district. Nautankis and dramas based on mythology are often staged and attract large gatherings, particularly in the villages.

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NIC District Centre, Etawah (UP)