India – History and Society – for those who wish to think and learn for themselves
The people of this tribe are famous for their exotic and colourful costumes and jewellery. Both hindu as well as muslim, they are found in an area extending from the deserts of Rajasthan, into Gujarat and across the border into Pakistan. Their numbers are probably less than a million. Depending upon the districts where they reside in, they may speak Marwari, Dogri, Punjabi or Urdu.
Megh means rain in Hindustani and therefore the Meghwal consider themselves to be descendants and followers of the Saints who borught down rain into these more arid parts of India.
In terms of ethnicity, it is speculated that they were early migrants into India from perhaps Assyria. However, over the centuries further migrations and marriages certainly led to a blending with more indigenous tribes and groups, including those from Kashmir. Shia Islamic beliefs were also imbibed and certain Islamic beliefs and practices are still found in the day to day lives of the current Meghwal who are in most practical purposes followers of Hindu practices.
Please watch this video from Conde Nast:
Picture courtesy of Retlaw Snellac – flickr.com