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Arora, Community of Punjab

December 31, 1842
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Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
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The Arora is a community of Punjab, comprising both Hindus and Sikhs. The name is derived from their native place Aror. Historically, the Arora section of the Khatri community had been principally found in West Punjab, in the districts to the south and west of Lahore. Scott Cameron Levi, believes that they are a "sub-caste of the Khatris". After Partition of India, Punjabis who migrated from erstwhile Punjab were mostly Khatris and Aroras. Studies reveal that "Arora Khatri, Bedi, Ahluwalia etc. are some of the important castes among the Punjabis".


Mughal era

In the eighteenth century, Afghanistan was the conduit for the trade between Central Asia and India. Grain trade in Afghanistan was carried out by the Hindu Punjabi Khatri and Arora merchants. Reportedly, they lent money to the Afghan rulers at high rates of interest (50%) to carry out military expeditions into India. On the other side, Diwan Kaura Mall, a Hindu Arora, "died while fighting against the army of Ahmed Shah Durrani on March 6, 1752". He was the Governor of Multan and had also served as the Minister of Lahore twice. He led the Lahore Darbar and "made a joint-attack on Multan in 1749", along the Sikhs led by Jassa Singh. After his victory, "Diwan Kaura Mall was given the title of Maharaja Bahadur". Prior to the British colonial rule, Aroras were one the three main money-lending castes of Punjab. In Muslim dominated districts of West Punjab, The Aroras were often subjected to discrimination and humiliation by Muslim farmers. Bose narrates that the arrival of the British freed the Arora community from this treatment.


British Colonial Era

Pettigrew notes that in the 19th century, the Aroras were working as shopkeepers and small traders within the Sikh community in Punjab. During the British Raj, in some parts of Punjab their population was so high that they had to seek employment outside their traditional occupations shopkeeping, accountancy and money-lending For the Hindu merchant castes, Agarwal Banias, Khatris and Aroras, Timber trade was also one of the trades they followed before 1900. However, since 1900 the smallest merchant sect, the Suds, started this trade and later dominated it in eastern Punjab.



McLeod notes that marriages between Aroras and the Khatris are common.

According to the University of Utah sociologist, Bam dev Sharda, in the "status allocation in village India", they are considered a mercantile caste belonging to the Vaishya varna - like the Khatris, Agarwal, Bania and Ahluwalia. So does historian Kenneth Jones by citing Denzil Ibbetson's study. According to the University of Toronto anthropologist, Nicola Mooney, the Sikh Aroras are of Kshatriya varna, along with the Sikh Khatris. Similarly, Grant Evans describes Arora as a "sub-group of the Khatri jati of the Kshatriya Varna". According to one legend, the Aroras are of Kshatriya stock, but dissociated themselves from the other Kshatriyas and escaped prosecution by Parashurama, calling themselves aur (someone else). In the opinion of a "Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies" at Syracuse University, the merchant-type castes such as the Rajasthani Baniyas, Agarwals, Guptas, Mittals, Goels are twice born castes, unlike the caste of Sikh and Hindu Aroras of Punjab in a "all-Hindu ranking". Despite this, they have similar status as prior communities in the "wider regional ranking" of Punjab. He calls this "deferred caste denial" which he explains as the rule that "hierarchy persists in the Hindu mind even where caste is denied in any of the senses and by any of the strategies adumbrated".



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