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The Ahir community in Dwarka belongs to the ethnic Indian group that identifies themselves with the Yadav community as they consider the two terms to be similar. Ahir group is also described as a clan, caste, tribe, group or community. Most of the groups in the Ahir community are Gwalvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Yaduvanshi. The different divisions represent different myths of the origin. As the name Gwalvanshi or Nandvanshi suggests, they are said to be the offspring of Lord Krishna.
The traditional and main occupation of the Ahir group is cow-herding. They are particularly concentrated on the northern part of India. They are known by different names like Gaddi, ghosi and Gavli.
Etymology of Ahir Community
The Ahir group is considered a descended from ancient Abhira community. According to Ganga Ram Garg, Ahir has been derived from the Sanskrit word Abhira and he further notes that the term Abhir is present in Marathi and Bengali languages as well. Garg distinguishes Brahmin community who uses the Abhira name and is found today in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
History about Ahir Community
Theories concerning origins of the ancient Abhira are shrouded in mystery and there are plenty of controversies regarding the same. There are many theories that link the Ahirs to the community of the Abhiras.
According to A. P. Karmakar, Abhira is a Proto-Dravidian tribe. He states evidence from the Puranas that they migrated to India. Such theories are dismissed by Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya, who says that Abhira was there in India in the 1st century CE, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Irrespective of whether they are a tribe or race, with origins in Central Asia or Indo-Scythia, Dravidian or Aryan, there is a lot of disparity and differences of opinion about the fundamental historiography aspects like controversies about writing of Mahabharata and acceptance of Aryan invasion theory.
Likewise there is very little certainty about the Abhira’s occupational status. The ancient texts refer to them as cowherders and pastoral and again as robber tribes at times.
Ahir Community into Army Services
The British rulers in 1920’s classified the Ahirs as “agricultural tribes”, which was synonymous to “martial race”. They were recruited in the army at 1898. The British in the same year raised four Ahir companies, of which two of them were located in 95th Russell's Infantry.
Ahirs from Kutch
The five main Ahirs in Kutch are Vagadia, Sorathia, Mochhaya, Prantharia and Boricha. They are mainly farmers who sold milk and ghee once. Today they have a diversified businesses because of insufficient and irregularities in rain. Many have left their native place in search of another means of living, yet some are still there leading their lives somehow.
Ahir community belonged to the militant group. In 1930 about 200 Ahirs marched towards the Trilochan shrine and performed puja to voice protests against Islamic tanzeem processions. Many groups from Ahir community reside in Dwarka.