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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
In 1991, there were 301 Christians of whom 201 were residing in
urban areas. They constitute only 0.01 per cent of the district
They numbered 3610 in 1991, with 3087 residing in urban areas and share
0.17% of the total population. They are usually called Saraogis.
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
Festivals and Fairs
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.