Lohar

Who are they?

The Lohar or Luhar are an occupational caste of traditional traveling blacksmiths that number more than 7.5 million people. The term Lohar is derived from the Sanskrit word lauha-kara, meaning ‘a worker in iron’. In Rajasthan, they are called Gaduliya (which refers to the open carts in which they travel and live) and Shilpkar in Himachal Pradesh.

The Lohar are spread over 68 districts of India. They live in Uttar Pradesh (2.1 million), Bihar (1 million), Jharkhand (200,000), Madhya Pradesh (940,000), Orissa (900,000), Maharashtra (510,000), Haryana (370,000), Gujarat (350,000), Rajasthan (330,000), Punjab (210,000), Himachal Pradesh (170,000) Jammu and Kashmir, and West Bengal (230,000).

Origins

One legend regarding the caste’s origins written by R.E. Enthoven (The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, 1922), states that the Lohar of Gujarat claim descent from Pithuo, who was created from dust by Parvati, to make weapons for her husband, Shiva, which were used by him to fight with two demons, Andhir and Dhamdhkar. The Lohar of Orissa, tell a similar story according to which Kamar, the celestial architect, had twelve sons. The eldest, who was accustomed to propitiating the family deity with wine, once drank some of the wine himself which led to his rejection by his siblings. He then became a worker in iron and laid a curse upon his brothers that they should not be able to practice their calling except with the implements he made.

However, in most of the states, the Lohar attribute their origins to the god Vishwakarma. According to the ethnologist William Crooke (Tribes and Castes of the North-Western India, 1896) this god is believed to be the architect and handicraftsman of all gods, the maker of ornaments and the most eminent of artisans. It is from him that craftspeople get their talent and who they offer worship to. He is believed to have made the chariots of the deities.

Other Names

They are also known as Vishwakarma and Panchal in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In Rajasthan and Gujarat their synonyms are Panchal or Shree Panchal. In Orissa, they are called Lohura and Nar in West Bengal. In Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra they are also known as Mistry, and in Jammu & Kashmir as Khar or Ahangar.

Language

They speak the languages of the states they live in – Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kashmiri, Oriya and Pahari in Uttar Pradesh. They also speak Hindi.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Lohars are traditionally iron-workers and blacksmiths, along with a subsidiary occupation of agriculture. They are skilled at making and repairing agricultural implements like the sickle, spade, hoe, axe and plough, as well as buckets, pans, knives, scissors, grills and cages. They also fix iron shoes on the hoofs of bullocks. Some of those living in cities work in government and private service or industrial work. The landless among them are increasingly are migrating to urban centres in search of employment. They supplement their income by selling bullocks and cattle. Some Lohars keep camels.

Some of the Lohar practice share-cropping and work as daily-wage laborers. In some towns and cities, some Lohar own workshops that are fitted with modern machinery for making fine implements. In the prosperous states of Punjab and Gujarat, where many run small-scale industries, some have become wealthy industrialists. At times the Lohar do woodwork or carpentry, as in Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, or weaving, as in Jammu & Kashmir. The community also has teachers and administrators.

Literacy is low, but their attitude towards formal education ranges from favorable (Delhi, Punjab and Maharashtra) to partly favourable (Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat) to unfavourable (Orissa). They use both modern and traditional medicines and generally are open towards modern family planning methods. They also make use of various official development programs and the Public Distribution System.

Customs

They marry only other within their community but select spouses from another clan to their own. The number of subgroups varies from region to region. The Lohar are also divided into a number of exogamous gotras or clans of equal status. In Orissa the clans are Kaithwas, Hanswar and Soken which are based on certain sacred totemic objects.

All marriages are arranged for them by their parents when they are still children but officially marry when they are older. A dowry of cash and household goods is given by the bride’s family. Monogamy is the norm although a second wife is permitted in exceptional circumstances (such as barrenness of the first wife). Divorce is rare although socially sanctioned as is the remarriage of widows, widowers and divorcees. Junior sororate and junior levirate are accepted forms of remarriage. Women wear sindur (vermilion), ivory, glass or plastic bangles, toe-rings and nose-pins as symbols of their married status.

Both nuclear and joint families are found among the Lohar. Property is equally inherited among sons only, and the eldest son succeeds as the head of the family. The women grind the grain and cook, raise the children, but unlike many Indian women, they are permitted contact with other people, including men. Despite this, they are considered lower than men. This is because the women work with the men, a wife often swinging the hammer or working the bellows for her husband until her sons are old enough to help. In West Bengal the women catch and sell fish while in Chandigarh and Punjab they are good in embroidery and knitting woolens. Both men and women sing folk songs and the women dance during festivals. In Bihar women sing at births and weddings and traditional stories and folk tales are told exclusively by men.

In most states the Lohar have a Biradari Panchayat (Community Council). This informal committee looks after their social welfare and works to improve their circumstances. In Delhi this body is called Panchal Mahasabhat.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Lohar are primarily Hindu by faith, though some are Sikh and Muslim. The Muslim Lohar of Jammu & Kashmir belongs to the Sunni sect of Islam and revere Muslim saints like Maqdoom Sahib and Miraj Shah. The Lohar of Haryana, even though they are Hindu, revere a Muslim saint called Googa Pir. Many Lohar, such as those of Delhi, have see themselves as Brahmin. Others, as those of Chandigarh, rank themselves next to the Brahmin. However, among other Hindus, they are considered to be of middle or low rank in the caste system.

They are a fervent Hindu community, worshipping Ram and the goddess Kali of Chittorgarh. They carry a small image of her in a cupboard where small stores and valuables are kept on their carts. In addition each clan worships its own deity and offers daily prayers to the god of the anvil. They celebrate all Hindu festivals. A Brahmin priest conducts all rituals relating to births, marriages and death. The dead are cremated and the ashes immersed in a river, except in Orissa, where the dead are buried. In Rajasthan a stone pillar is erected in memory of the deceased. Both birth and death pollution for specified periods is observed. Ancestor worship is prevalent.

What Are Their Needs?

As the Lohar move from place to place in their carts and need the help of their children to earn a living, education is not an option. There is a need to provide education, health awareness and to use their skills as ironworkers in other ways as it is difficult for them to compete with factory-made products. They need a better self worth and identity and to overcome the limitations of the caste system and their traditions.

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40 Comments on "Lohar"


Guest
AMIT KUMAR
1 day 14 hours ago
You all people are unnecessarily fighting .Because according to sastra no one in this age of Kali are of high class or low class. All are shudras in this age of kali according to sastra. You all need to study sastra from some very authentic source.In this age of Kali no one is much qualified whether they are brahmin or vishwakarma brahmin.All are same in this Kaliyug.So all need to take advantage of this age and can become high class by their deeds and vedic knowledge and not by birth.If 1 is brahmin and he is doing all nonsense by breaking rules of shatras and eating non-veg and other here and there , then they are even more worst than lowest of all.So u all need to take advantage of this age and live life of human of character by living 1st class brahmin by following vedic lifestyles without any birth qualification.This is the mercy given in this age to all unqualifed soul by shri Caitanya mahaprabhu.So do not fight, all are same(shudras) in this Kaliyug.This is the greatest truth u all need to know and focus on this to become high class brahmin and any one can become rather than uselessly trying to prove supermacy over others .This can not help u at all.Even if you are brahmin and doing all nonsense thing then u are worst than shudras.So plz people know the truth and do your best to become perfect brahmin either u r anyone by birth.
Guest
RAHUL DHARU
10 days 2 hours ago
lohar sikligar gotra dharu ki kuldevi kaam btaao plz
Guest
Abhilash.V
1 month 13 hours ago
I'm a Nair, black smith are getting reservation, that's why they have money and prosperity. But you are not vaidic brahmins.
Guest
Abhilash.V
1 month 13 hours ago
Only the vaidic brahmins have the right to study the sasthras ( 4 vedas ).
Guest
Ravi PANCHAL
10 days 17 hours ago
Mr. Abhilash for your kind information i would like to tell you that lohar is the scion of THE world creator Bhagwan SHREE VISWKARMA SO FIVE SONS OF Bhagwan SHREE VISWKARMA all were rishi and the lohar is the one of son of among five
even they have rights for performing ritual ceremony.
Guest
Prashanta bindhani
1 month 7 days ago
7.5 million people lohar meane worker in iron.
mera echha hai ki hamara somaj ko aage le jainge is liye sobko ek hona chaiye.
Guest
Priya
2 months 2 days ago
Shandil gotra means brahmin or not ??????
Guest
Parvin Sharma
20 days 2 hours ago
Shandilya gotra brahmin me bhi hota hai aur Lohar me bhi hota hai.
Guest
Dinesh panwar[devvanshi malvi lohar}
2 months 2 days ago
lohar samaj srasty rachyita vishvkarma ji ki santan hai,duri v vicharo ke badlav ke karan sab alg 2 hai.shabhi ka kam ak saman kintu lohar hai phir bhi bhed jyada hai.ise mita ker lohar samaj ko globelisation karana chahiye.
Guest
Abhilash.V
1 month 4 hours ago
Dineshji you should remember one thing that this Lord Vishva karma is merely a demi god who cannot give any benediction without taking any permission from supreme personality of god Vishnu. In the early ages where caste system were practicing, Brahmins know the importance of these people - the workers on metals , the workers on jewellery makers, the workers on wood in the human society. Since these people were out from the 4 class of men, they were not allowed to worship Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu etc.So Brahmins on that time allowed them to worship Lord Vishva karma. Although you are following brahmin's culture, you are not considered to be true Brahmins.
Guest
RP Dhiman
2 months 25 days ago
In north India, most of them are from Brahmin gotra, such as Bhardwaj, Vashist, Kaundinya etc. and therefore, they right in claiming their lineage from among the Brahmins. State of Haryana has already declared them Dhiman brahmin and Panchal Brahmins. A lot needs to be done raise consciousness.
Guest
awanish
3 months 20 days ago
can anyone tell me that what is the reservation we get for addmissions to iim for blacksmith castes......
Guest
Madhukar Pakale
4 months 4 days ago
you have mentioned here that lohar community constitute (510,000) population in Maharashtra would you please specify the source of the information please i am belong to the gadi lohar community.
Guest
ajay chouhan
4 months 13 days ago
meri caste lohar hai but mere gotra chauhan ke log nahi mil rehe na hi mere jthere mil rhe hai
Guest
niranjan sharma
5 months 5 days ago
I am niranjan sharma mechanical engineear from bihar west champaran bihar.i support lohar group.jai viswkama baba...
Guest
manoj thakur
7 months 1 day ago
my good wishes to global viswakarma brahmin .
Guest
hardeep panchal
7 months 6 days ago
Hii .it's not so that the all panchal are illiterate .now there are a big chsngement most are doc.eng. teachers n have s good jobs I m from karnal haryana I myself serve in army
Guest
lalit panchal
6 months 6 days ago
M agree with u
Guest
dev panchal ( gujarat )
1 year 7 days ago
Hi ,Its nice to see comments. But in Gujarat Panchals are very prospurous & educated. Particularly those frome kheda district have very good life & highly influencial Because of OBC status lots of panchals are doctors ,superspecialists ,engineers ,CAs Plz ,allow your child to study & encourage them to get higher education ,rest will be taken care by it self
Guest
sisodia digvijaysinh navghansinh (LOHAR)
1 year 1 month ago
jay hind ,jay chittod
Guest
pardeep panchal(haryana)
1 year 1 month ago
It is incorect infomation becouse gaderia lohar not in panchal commnity
Guest
vivek sharma
1 year 1 month ago
most backworld classes of india ne pure u.p. me backworld ko 27% reservation me 20% and 7% ka batwara hona chahiye.and . all india me 27% OBC/MBC 15%&12% ka reservation milna chahiye. then hamare samaj ka samman / adhikar milega.
Guest
Shiv kumar
6 months 17 days ago
Is the Sharma in panchal cast ......known as lohar ??? Plzzz tell me that panchal Sharma is also in lohar community ????
Guest
shital
1 year 5 months ago
stragd community
Guest
Dinesh sharma
6 months 8 days ago
Dinesh
Guest
Pawan Panchsl
1 year 6 months ago
This is best Information Regarding the panchal's
Guest
Mr. Vishwakarma
1 year 10 months ago
Lohars are Vishwakarma Brahmins, like rest of the Vishwakarma castes. God Vishawakarma, the forebearer of lohars is mentioned in rig veda (sukta 80,81). This article is half baked.