History of Banjaras Who are Banjara? - An Historical Context
The accurate history of Lambanis or Lambadis or Banjaras is not known but the general opinion among them is that they fought for Prithvi Raj against Muhammad of Ghor. The trail of the Lambadi/Banjara can be verified from their language, Lambadi borrows words from Rajasthani, Gujarathi, Marathi and the local language of the area they belong to Rajasthan and they were Rajputs who migrated to southern parts of India for trade and agriculture. They settled down in the southern or central area of the country and slowly loosened contacts with Rajasthan, and their original community. Lambadi is the heart language of the Banjara, but it has no written script. The Banjara speak a second language of the state they live in and adopt that script.
They are listed under 53 different names. Historically, these are the root Gypsies of earth. During the British colonial rule, these gypsy nomads of India were given the name Banjara, but they call themselves Ghor. The Banjaras are a colorful, versatile and one of the largest people groups of India, inhabiting most of the districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The Banjara are a sturdy, ambitious people and have a light complexion. The Banjara were historically nomadic, keeping cattle, trading salt and transporting goods. Most of these people now have settled down to farming and various types of wage labour. Their habits of living in isolated groups away from other, which was a characteristic of their nomadic days, still persist.
Their unique dress, heritage, customs and language distinguish them from the majority population, and they maintain a separate lifestyle. The banjara gypsies love storytelling, music, songs and dance. Men play drums and women dance in a circle chanting to the rhythmic beat. The Banjara are now experiencing rapid changes, and their traditional customs, practices and institutions are undergoing far-reaching transformations. They are now settled as agricultural labourers.
The Banjaras are located in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Banjara are primarily Hindu-Animists with their own gods and goddesses, festivals, and animistic worship practices. They offer goat sacrifices and are also bound by superstitions, fears and witchcraft.