Introduction / History
In various census of India, Bishnois are found in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, MP and UP. Bishnois were founded by a Rajput of Bikaner, who was born in 1451 A.D, and was therefore a contemporary of Baba Nanak, the originator of Sikhism, and is buried in Talwa/Mukam in Bikaner. His spiritual name was Jambhaji. He left his followers a scripture in the Nagri character called Shabdwani. The adherents of the sect are the descendants of immigrants from Bikaner, parts of Haryana and Punjab and are exclusively Jats or some Rajputs by caste, though they often abandon the caste name and describe themselves simply as Bisnois. They are freely involved in marriages with Jat people, Rajputs or among themselves. They are good cultivators, and keep cattle in large numbers. They have a ceremony of initiations, somewhat similar and known by the name as that of Sikhs. Beside this there were followers from many other castes like vaishyas like agarwals and guptas which are found mainly in UP and there main occupation is business, though today Bishnoi's have drastically grown in the fields of IT jobs as Engineers or Government sectors as Militants or Social Workers.
Where are they located?
The most prominent pilgrimage place of the Bishnois is situated at village called Mukam in Nokha Tehsil, Bikaner District, Rajasthan. Other important pilgrimage places belonging to the Bishnois are Samrathal Dhora situated 3 km from Mukam, Pipasar, Jangloo, Lohawat, Lodipur, Bhur Tiba and Prachin Vishnoi Mandir Kanth DIST. Moradabad, Sameliya, Rotu, Lalasar and Jambolav.
What are their lives like?
Bishnois are strong lovers of wild animals. It is because of their protection that in Bishnoi-dominated areas, deer and antelope (such as blue bulls, black bucks, chinkaras and chowsinghas) are seen grazing in their fields despite the fact that the State of Rajasthan where the Bishnois mainly live, faces severe water shortages.
In recent years, the Bishnoi community has launched strong protests against the killing of black bucks by Salman Khan, a Bollywood film star and Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi, a former Indian cricketer.
The Bishnois are presently spread over the western parts of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh. They are teetotalers and normally they wear white shirt, dhoti and turban. This dress pattern is ideal for the hot dry desert climate. They pay special attention to cleanliness in their houses. Only one crop of pearl millet (bajra) is grown during the monsoon season. The bushes, which grow in the fields, protect the loose sand from wind erosion and provide the much-needed fodder for animals during a famine. Bisnois often live in little hamlets called 'Dhannis', with just a few round huts with intricate thatched roofs. The mud floors are plastered with cow dung to keep vermin away. The interiors are airy and clean. There is a granary to guard their rations and a sump for stored water. Bishnois in Haryana and Punjab are much wealthier then other castes.
Text source: Anonymous