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Muslim Halwai

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Muslim Halwai


The Muslim Halwai (Urdu: حلواى ) are a Muslim community found in Pakistan, and in Uttar Pradesh state, India. They were former members of the Hindu Halwai caste, who have converted to Islam.[1] Halva means sweets in Urdu and Halvai or Halwai are sweet makers. Their preferred self-designation is Shaikh.

History and origin

The Halwai are a community associated with the manufacture of sweeatmeats. Their name comes from the Arabic word Halva, which means a sweatmeat. The Halwai claim descent from Bhalandan, who belonged to the Vaishya caste. Like other Vaish groups that have converted to Islam, they belong to the Shaikh category.[2]

They have the following subdivision, the Purbi or eastern and Pachaon or western group, and speak Urdu, as well as local dialects of Hindi. These sub-divisions are further divided into clans, known as biradaris, which claim descent from a common ancestor. Important biradaris include the Kanaujia, Jaiswar, Allahabadi, Hajipuria and Makhdumpuria. Marriages are preferred within the biradari, and only rarely will take place outside the community.

Present circumstances

The Halwai are a Sunni Muslim community. They also visit the shrines of various Sufi saints found in North India, such as Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.[1]

They are a landless community, involved in the selling of sweetmeats, tobacco, and well as the occupation of dyeing clothes. Members of the community members have taken up jobs in government and private service. They are largely an urban community, living in their residential quarters. Almost all older cities in North India and Pakistan have a Halwai Mohalla[3]

The Halwai have their own council of elders to deal with matters relating to the community. This caste council or panchayat deals with issues such as elopement, fights, thefts and disrespect of community norms. The community head or chaudhary, is also involved in resolving disputes within the community. They are an endogamous community, and cross cousin and parallel cousin marriages are prevalent.

Distribution

In Uttar Pradesh, they are found throughout the state. Important concentrations exists in the Doab, Rohilkhand, and Awadh. Outside Uttar Pradesh, the community is also found in Delhi.[4]

Quite a few Halwai have immigrated to Pakistan, where they form an important element in the Muhajir community.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1042 Manohar Publications
  2. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 597 Manohar Publications
  3. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1240 Manohar Publications
  4. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1041 Manohar Publications
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