Ethnographic Study of Muharram Rituals in a Punjabi Village in Pakistan

By Khan, Sarfraz; Chaudhry, Waheed Iqbal et al. | Journal of Asian Civilizations, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Ethnographic Study of Muharram Rituals in a Punjabi Village in Pakistan


Khan, Sarfraz, Chaudhry, Waheed Iqbal, Badshah, Ikram, Journal of Asian Civilizations


(I)

Background of the Village and Main Ethnic Groups

The village, ChakNo. 253/JB (Nangay Sundray) is situated approximately 35 kilometers on the Jhang-Faisalabad road in the East of the Jhang city. This village was established during 19th century under Sawan Mai's property right initiative. Linder Sawan Mai initiative any person who broke up land in any portion of the district, or who set to work a well that had been deserted, become a proprietor of that land or well. According to Gazetteer of the Jhang District (1883-84) records shortly after annexation, the regular settlement commenced, and it became necessary to fix village boundaries and to create private proprietary rights in land where they had never been before. Before the establishment of formal villages, the masses were living in a state of disarray in houses with their cattle since most of them were predominantly depending on these flocks for their food and livelihood. The village Nangay Sundray was named after the inhabiting Nanga- a sub-clan who relate themselves to Sial tribe.

The Sial probably was a pastoral tribe, but little given to animal husbandry, dwelling on the banks of the rivers, grazing their cattle during the end of the cold and the first month of the hot weather in the lowlands of Chenab, and during the rainy season in the uplands of the Bar (Gazetteer of the Jhang District, 1883-84). The inhabitants of this village were predominantly living in the region alongside some other ethnic groups. They still recall the Hindus cohabiting with them. Most of them at that time were economically depending on Hindu Baniya-the merchant group. The population of the locale was majorly constituted by the Nanga families. In addition to the Nanga families there were some other castes who inhabit in the village like, Bharwana, Chiryana, Bajwa. There were some working castes in the locale that provide support to the landed classes in agriculture related activities. There were about 2500 acres of agriculture land in the village. About 95 percent of village land was irrigated through canal irrigation. Although, the ground water was sweet and easy to approach but most of the people were relying on canal irrigation as it was also inexpensive.

There were two major cropping seasons in the area while wheat, sugarcane, rice, cotton, maze, barley, and some other fodder crops were yielded. Most of the working classes work on lands on share cropping, fixed rent, or monthly and annual remuneration while fewer of them still work for the landowners under the practice of sepi system (in this practice these workers provide services to the landowners with their specializations and get in-kind remuneration during harvesting seasons). In addition to the agricultural activities local communities were also practicing dairy farming. Recently, a change in the food habits was witnessed in the village. Predominantly, the villagers were using dairy products for diet patterns but recently a trend of selling milk emerged in the village-where four commercial milk collection centers of nationally renowned companies established to collect milk twice a day which consequently reduced the consumption of dairy products.

(II)

Convergence to ShVism

Nanga families were converted to the Shi 'ism Islam by Syed Shahbal Shah Bukhari-a descendant of Shah Surkh Bukhari and Sufi Saint Mehboob Alam, popularly known as Hazrat Shah Jewana (or Pir Karorya) about a century back. A family of descendants of Shahabal Shah's was settled in the village. The villagers regularly pay visits for spiritual blessings like for breath {dam), to take amulets {taweez), and making of vows {mannat). They also consult the pir for conflict resolution and political participation.

Imambargah Hussainyia was established by Kuryana familiesanother sub-clan of Sial tribe, at crossroad of two villages (Chak No. 253/JB and 254/JB) about a century ago. One of their grandfathers went on to pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. …

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