Western Indian ǀ South Asia
The Dhangar people are associated with some of the oldest shepherding communities in India. Numbering 2.5 million today, the Dhangar are peasants who thrive on cultivating crops in agricultural communities. Though they have a notable population, not only in Maharashtra but also in India at large, and a rich history, today they are still a politically highly disorganized community. They lived a socially isolated life due to their occupation, wandering mainly in forests, hills and mountains. In Maharashtra, the Dhangars are classified as a Nomadic Tribe but in 2014 were seeking to be reclassified as a Scheduled Tribe in India’s system of reservation.
Dhangars worship various forms of gods, including Shiva, Vishnu, Parvati and Mahalakshmi as their kuldevta/Kuldaivat or kuldevi. Initially there were twelve tribes of Dhangar, and they had a division of labor among brothers of one family. This later formed three sub-divisions and one half-division. The three subdivisions are Hatkar (shepherds), Ahir (cowherds) and Khutekar (wool and blanket weavers).
The India – Dhangar population data represent DNA samples from 80 individuals in one of the major population groups occupying the state of Maharashtra, India. Samples were obtained by the DNA Typing Unit of the Central Forensic Science Library, based in Calcutta/West Bengal, India.
Source publication: Polymorphism at fifteen hypervariable microsatellite loci in four populations of Maharashtra, India, FSI, 2002, p267-271.