|2.5 Million (2011)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Jammu region, Himachal Pradesh, East Punjab in India and Pakistan Administered Kashmir, West Punjab in Pakistan|
|Predominantly Hinduism, with a minority of Muslims and Buddhists|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Dogras are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group in India and Pakistan consisting of the Dogri language speakers. Dogra Rajputs ruled Jammu from the 19th century, when Gulab Singh was made a hereditary Raja of Jammu by the Sikh Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whilst his brother Dhian Singh was the empire's prime minister, until October 1947. Through the Treaty of Amritsar (1846), they acquired Kashmir as well. They live predominantly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, and in adjoining areas of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and northeastern Pakistan. The Brahmin Dogras are predominantly Saraswat Brahmins, genetically of common origin with Saraswat Brahmins of Kashmir.
The term Dogra is thought to derive from Durgara, the name of a kingdom mentioned in an eleventh century copper-plate inscription in Chamba. The inscription mentions the Raja of Chamba facing an attack by Kiras aided by the Lord of Durgara (durg?re?wara). In medieval times the term Durgar is believed to have turned into Dugar, eventually transforming to "Dogra". Kalhana's Rajatarangini makes no mention of a kingdom by any of these names, but the kingdoms could have been referred to by their capital cities (such as Vallapura, modern Billawar, or Babbapura, modern Babor). In modern times, the term Dogra turned into an ethnic identity, claimed by all those people that speak the Dogri language, irrespective of their religion.
Scholar Omachanda Handa believes that the Durgara people were originally migrants from Rajasthan to the Terai belt, similar to the Gurjaras (or "Gujjars"). The allusion to durg (fort) in their name indicates that they may have remained a warrior people, eventually founding powerful kingdoms between Chenab and Ravi, and possibly dominating up to the Sutluj river.
According to M. A. Stein, there were some eleven Dogra states in the region, all of which were eventually absorbed into the Jammu state, which emerged as the most powerful among them. Prior to the rise of Jammu, Babbapura (Babor) is expected to have been the chief state of Dogras. Lying 45 km east of Jammu, Babor contains the ruins of six magnificent temples representing a "thriving artistic activity". The Rajatarangini mentions the Raja Vajradhara of Babbapura, vowing allegiance to Bhikshachara of Kashmir in 1120 AD, along with the chiefs of neighbouring kingdoms.
The Jammu region, one of the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir state (the others being the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh), is bound on the north by the Pir Panjal Range of the middle Himalayas, in the south by Punjab, to the east by Ladakh, and close to the west by Pakistan. The lower Himalayan ranges begin behind the town of Jammu, which rests on a slope over 1,300 feet (400 m) above sea level, overlooking and commanding the plain watered by the Chenab, Ravi, Tawi and Ujh rivers. The Jammu region consists of ten districts: Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Poonch, Kishtwar, Reasi, Samba, Ramban and Rajouri. The city of Jammu is the winter capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Jammu Dogras traditionally inhabited the area between the slopes of the Shivalik range of mountains, the sacred lakes of Saroien sar and Mannsar but later spread over whole of Jammu region. They generally speak Dogri and other dialects similar to Dogri. The majority of the Dogra are followers of Hinduism, but a large number in Jammu and Kashmir believe in other religions. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some Dogras embraced Islam. These factors, together with the effects of immigration into the region, have resulted in the Dogra population of Jammu and Kashmir including members of all three religions.
The Dogra Raj emerged as a regional power, particularly after Maharaja Gulab Singh emerged as a warrior and his subjects received special martial recognition from the British Raj. The rule of Gulab Singh's Raj extended over the whole of the Jammu Region, a large part of the Ladakh region as early as March 1846, and a large part of the Indian Punjab (now Himachal Pradesh). The Kashmir Valley was handed over to Gulab Singh by the British government, as part of the territories ceded to the British government by Lahore State according to the provisions of Article IV of the Treaty of Lahore dated 9March 1846. Under the Treaty of Amritsar in the same year, the Dogra king of Jammu and the state was thereafter known as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir State (Raj), also thereafter referred as Kashmir State. The term Dogra hence is more akin to the subjects of Himachal Pradesh, some areas of Punjab and the whole region of Jammu that was ruled by Raja Gulab Singh as part of the Dogra Raj irrespective of the religion of the inhabitants.
The Dogra dynasty was a dynasty of Hindu Rajputs who ruled Jammu & Kashmir from 1846 to 1947. They traced their ancestry to the Ikshvaku (Solar) Dynasty of Northern India (the same clan in which Lord Rama was born; he, therefore, is the 'kuldevta' (family deity) of the Dogras).
Among the enlightened rulers of Jammu was Raja Ranjit Dev (1728-1780) who introduced certain social reforms such as a ban on 'Sati' (immolation of the wife on the funeral pyre of the husband) and female infanticide. Later, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the state became part of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab after it was captured from its Afghan rulers. Ranjit Singh rendered this state to his general, Maharaja Gulab Singh Jamwal, who belonged to the Jamwal Rajput clan that ruled Jammu. He extended the boundaries of Jammu to western Tibet with the help of General Zorawar Singh.
The Sikh Empire rule extended beyond the Jammu Region and the Kashmir Valley to the Tibetan Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh and the Emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar. After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, the British gave Kashmir and the title of 'Maharaja' to Gulab Singh -- the chief minister -- as a reward for aligning with them against the Sikhs.
Wheat, maize and bajra are staple food besides rice, cereals and a tangier preparation made out of mango or tamarind popularly known as maani. The whole dish is called dal puth maani and is savoured as a combination. Mitha madra is a favourite and is cooked from milk, dry fruits, and semolina. Preparations of rajmash (a special variety of red kidney beans); auria a dish of curd fermented by rye; ambal made from pumpkin, jaggery and tamarind are favourites, especially during ceremonial cooking. The expert cooks are called Siyans, usually Brahmins. Kalari is a milk preserved by cogulation of proteins and then fried in a pan to make it delicious.
Non-vegetarian food was limited to Rajputs and Vaish (Mahajans). 'Khatta meat' is mutton cooked with sour pomegranate seeds (Anardana) or lime juice and flavoured with fumes of a burning charcoal soaked in mustard oil. Keur is one of the well known foods of Dogras. It is prepared by flour and butter and served with sugar and curd. Mostly, it is served to bridegroom at the time of marriage by the in-laws. Kalaari is a favourite food of Dogras in the rainy season. It is prepared by flour mix, cottage cheese and milk cream (malai) with water with help of a small cup shaped pot. Kalari is served with milk. Kalari cheese is popular in the Jammu region and in Jammu and Kashmir state more generally. Babbru/pathoru are prepared with flour and fried in mustard oil. Babbru is served with maani/potato/kheer/curd.
Kheer is a dish prepared from milk by adding some rice and dry fruit in it. It is served at all the special occasions and festivals. Another popular exotic dish is guchiyyan (dried black morel), usually added as an ingredient in pulao. As it grows naturally in forests and cannot be cultivated, it is a priced commodity (approx 500 Rs. per 100 g) and makes an excelled dish with mountain potatoes (pahadi aloo). Saffron or kesar is extensively used to flavour sweet dishes and for its anti-oxidant benefits.
The Dogra Regiment was among the regiments of the British Indian Army, which made significant contributions in both the world wars on all fronts from East Asia to Europe and North Africa. At Independence, it became an infantry regiment of the Indian Army composed largely but not exclusively of the Dogra people. The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, another regiment of the Indian Army, consisting of mainly Dogras was formed out of the former army of the Kingdom of Jammu & Kashmir after it was absorbed into the Indian Army.
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