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Gaddi, a Hindu community of the Western Himalayas Christopher, Stephen


The Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh are a community of tribal Rajputs and Bhatt Brahmans, and five partiallyassimilated Dalit castes. They straddle both sides of the Dhauladhar Mountains and share a matrix of commonalities often described as tribal -- distinct dialect, ritual practice, clan-based social organization, transhumant pastoralism, place-making ties to the mountains, and Shavite spiritual beliefs that are distinctly Gaddi. Gaddis are commonly called a tribe, although they have a complex history in being awarded Scheduled Tribe status in Kangra and ethnopolitical mobilizations are underway to include Dalits within the Gaddi tribal fold. The community is heterogeneous, spread across a large swath of the Western Himalayas extending into Kashmir. Primarily Shaivite, some low-status Gaddis have converted into a range of new spiritual beliefs. These include Protestantism, Sikhism, Devi worship, Radhasoami and Arya Samaj, among other Nirankar traditions.

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