Meo or Mewati (Hindi: मेव) is a prominent Muslim Rajput tribe from North-Western India. A considerable number of Meos migrated to Pakistan after independence in 1947 and now they are estimated to be over 12 million. In Pakistan, Meos have lost their distinct group identity and cultural traditions and have assimilated with other Muslim population. Meos have also intermarried with Meena tribe.Representing the largest part of the Muslim population in Rajasthan and Haryana, the Meos number approximately 20,000,000 (according to 1984 data). They are crowded into the Alwar and Bharatpur districts in the northeastern part of the state, as well as in the Mewat District of the adjacent state of Haryana. The areas of the three districts where they live are collectively called Mewat, a reference to their supremacy in the area. Meos speak Mewati, a language of the Indo-Aryan part of the Indo-Iranian part of the Indo-European language family, and live in a tribal culture. The majority is uneducated and is currently classed under Other Backward Class (OBC)
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
Meos are inhabitants of Mewat (मेवात), a territorial region that falls between the important urban centres of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and consists of Mewat district of Haryana and some areas of adjoining Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where the Meos have lived for a millennium. They were Rajput Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 986 to 990 Popular Prakashan
Hasan Khan Mewati represented Meos in the battle of Kanwah along with Rana Sangram Singh (Rana Sangha)in 1526 against the Mughal Zahir ud-din Muhammad Babur. Hasan Khan and his Meo warriors gave a brave fight. Hasan Khan was killed in the battle of Kanwah while his son Tahir Khan was captured by the Mughals. Later on, Tahir Khan fled from the Mughal camp. The Mughal Emperor Babar has also written about Hasan Khan Mewati in his autobiography, Bāburnāma. To the Mughals, the Mewatis were "rebels". Later the Britishethnographers termed them "criminal tribes".
To two modernizing princely rulers of eastern Rajasthan in the first half of the 20th century, embracing Hindu nationalism, they were Muslims. Finally, to the Islamising, pietist missionary movement, Tablighi Jama'at, which has flourished in Mewat since independence, the Mewatis were the Jahiliyyah of pre-Islamic Arabia, in urgent need of reform. In this important and welcome contribution, Shail Mayaram tells the story of the princely and Tabligh regimes as well as the story of Mewati resistance she finds throughout. She makes a valuable contribution to understanding how a particular group comes to be identified by others, and to identify itself, as "Muslim" — an identity contingently produced and profoundly modern, the product, not the opposite, of nationalism.
Project administrator Karamat Ullah Khan Meo is a member of the Meo tribe and lives in Pakistan. He took part in Genealogy project of Deep ancestry and is declared member of Haplogroup R1a1. Population of Meos is roughly estimated around 10 million; living in India and Pakistan. They have been living there from last more than 10,000 years. Before 1947 their majority lived in Mewat (The Land of Meo's). Which is South-west of Delhi. A Large number of Meos lived in other states of undivided India ( UP, CP, Rajisthan, Rajputan, Sindh, Baluchistan, Bharatpur, Alwar, Punjab and So on. Meos of the Sub-continent are close-knit into a Pal system or pal organization; governed by patri-lineages. Organizational structure of the Meo community describes them into two groups:
§ Paliya Meos
§ Nepaliya Meos.
Paliya Meos distinguish themselves consisting of 5 Bans. i.e.
§ Jadu from Krishna (Duhlot, Chiraklot, Daimroth, Punglot, Nai)
§ Tanvar from Arjuna (Dairwaal, Rattavat, Balot, Ladhavat )
§ Kachvaha from Ram ( Dhaingal, Seengal / Bar'gujar )
Others include Rathor (Kalisa), Chauhan (Pahat).
Meo Saints, Chuhar Sidh and Lal Das are both from Jadu Bans and same is true for Kairu-Pandu.
The mother tongue of Meos is Mewati. This Language is spoken all over the Mewat but every person belonging to Mewat is not necessarily Meo. Generally the residents of Mewat are called Mewati. Mewati is a language resembling with Haryanvi, Braj Bhasha and Rajasthani, Urdu and Mewati have also many common features. Mewati has great treasure of literary work including poetic ballads, sonnets, proverbs etc. These are compiled in the form of couplets
The Meo are divided into thirteen pals and fifty-three goths. This division was done by Great Meo Ruler “Maharana Kaku Rana Balot Meo, in the thirteenth century. Later on Meo pals were reorganized again during the period of Mughal King Akbar. Traditionally they are known as Twelve-Fifty-Two-Pals or Bara-Bawan-Pal. Here is a list of the clans found in the Mewat:
The Meos are have two strong identities, both of which they are equally proud of:
§ Their Muslim identity, going back to their conversion to Islam by various Sufi saints who began settling in their territory from the 11th century onwards, and whose shrines/mausoleums or dargahs/mazars today dot the entire countryside in Mewat.
§ Their Rajput heritage and lineage, which they are very proud of. Despite their conversion to Islam, they still follow some Hindu practices to this day as inherited customs.
§ A penetrating sense of superiority of their Rajastani culture with the bravery of their warlords Hasan Khan Meo, a representative of Meo Rajputs in the War of ??? and Deo Khan Meo, are the sources of proud for Meo.
§ Without reservation, Gias-u-Din Balban and Mughal kings faced perennial defeats by the Meo warrior tribe around Delhi and in the interiors of Rajasthan.
Meo men are tall, with ponderous turbans woven around their heads, dressed in long flowing robes. The Meos are Muslim Rajputs, about a ten million-strong community, known for its admixture of Hindu and Islamic customs, practices and beliefs. The Meos have two identities, both of which they are equally proud of. On the one hand, they claim to be Muslims, tracing their conversion to various Sufi saints who began settling in their territory from the 11th century onwards, and whose shrines or 'dargahs' today dot the entire Mewati countryside. On the other hand, they also claim to be Rajputs and direct descendants of Krishna and Rama. These Hindu deities are respectfully referred to by the Meos as 'dada' or 'grandfather'.
Since 1947, after revival of Islamic traditions Meos now conform to Islamic norms.
The Meo have been subject to a number of recent ethnographic studies. These books have dealt with issues such as marriage and self perception of the community. "In the study of family and kinship, social anthropologists have often focused on unilateral descent groups or on marriage, but rarely on the specific nature of the brother-sister relationship. Until now this relation has been reduced either to one of siblingship, more often, consanguinity, or to a form of incest prohibition that leads to matrimonial exchange. This book presents the kinship system of the Meo, a Muslim community of ‘Rajput’ caste of north India, where the brother-sister relationship transcends the distinctions between consanguines and affines to pervade relations both before and after marriage.
"The author develops the notion of ‘metasiblingship’ to convey the specific nature of this relationship. In the vocabulary of kinship studies, meta siblingship is defined as the chain of two brother-sister pairs linked by a marriage. It is enacted in life-cycle rites in the complimentarily between the father’s (married) sister, who leads these ceremonies, and the mother’s brother, who is responsible for the principal prestations.
"In terms of family and kinship, and associated ceremonies, myths and legends, the Meo have long been regarded as unusual among Indian Muslims. They forbid what is regarded as a diacritical Muslim kinship practice—patrilineal parallel-cousin marriage—as well as cross-cousin marriage, and follow north Indian, Hindu kinship rules. Following the example of Louis Dumont, Raymond Jamous engages with the Meo kinship terminology, the relation of kinship and territory, marriage alliance, and marriage rituals and prestations—all of which are ‘classical’ kinship themes. What emerges is a completely new perspective on the structure of north Indian kinship, transcending and encompassing the opposition of the ‘alliance’ and ‘descent’ approaches. Although the Meos today follow most Muslim customs, they still follow traditional Hindu marriage rituals and kinship patterns. Cousin marriage is still taboo among this group. Attempts to break this tradition have met strong opposition. In addition, Meos do not observe the Muslim tradition of secluding their women. Meo society is divided into at least 800 exogamous clans. Some of the clan organizations resemble those of the Rajputs, but others seem to have connections with Hindu castes such as Brahmans, Meena, Jats, andBhatiaras. Apparently the Meos come from many Hindu castes and not just the Rajputs. In Pakistan Meo are mostly in boader area in Lahore and Kasur, Meo also present in Khushab and Multan.
The place of origin of the Meos is Mewat. It is a region that comprises southern Haryana and north-eastern Rajasthan and is known for its mixture of Hindu and Islamic customs, practices and beliefs.
Mewat region's boundaries are not precisely determined, but generally include Mewat district of Haryana and parts of Alwar, Bharatpur, and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan. The region corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Matsya, founded in the 5th century BCE. Mewati is the chief dialect of the region and is a variant of Haryanvi and Rajasthani dialects of Hindi. Mewat district was carved out from erstwhile Gurgaon and Faridabad districts and came into existence on 4 April 2005 as the 20th district of Haryana. The newly constituted district comprised three sub-divisions namely Nuh, Firozpur Jhirka and Hathin, though Hathin Sub-division was shifted to Palwal District after formation of 21st district named Palwal. The Mewat district's headquarter is located at Nuh. The district comprises six blocks namely Nuh, Tauru, Nagina, Ferozepur Zhirka, Punhana and Hathin. There are 532 villages in the district. Major towns are Pinangwan in Punanhana Block Nagina and Sakras in Ferozepur Jhirka Block.
Geographically, Mewat district is situated between 26 deg. and 30 deg. North latitude and 76 deg. and 78 deg. East longitude. Gurgaon district bounds it on its North, while Rewari district lies to its West and Faridabad district to its East. On South, the district shares its boundary with Alwar district of Rajasthan. Mewat district is largely composed of plains but has hills of Aravali range. Inconsistency in Mewat topography is evident from its patches of land with hills and hillock of the Aravali Mountain (Kala Paharh) on the one hand and plains on the other.
Mewat, land of the Meos, has its genesis in its tribal inhabitants, the Meo tribals, who are agriculturalists. The area is a distinct ethnic and socio-cultural tract. The Meos, who trace their roots to the early Aryans of North India, call themselves Kshatriyas and have preserved their social and cultural traits to a surprisingly large extent, unlike the other tribes of nearby areas. With Moinuddin Chisti's influence, these people embraced Islam stating from 1192 but till today, they have maintained their age-old distinctive ethno-cultural identity. It must be noted that Hindu inhabitants of Mewat, though belonging to the same Kshatriya castes to which the Meos belonged before conversion to Islam, are not called Meo. Thus the word "Meo" is both region-specific and religion-specific. The Mewat district of Haryana was carved out of some tehsils of Gurgaon and Faridabad districts in 2005. However, the boundary of Mewat region is not precisely defined. The region is semi-arid with scanty rainfall and this has defined the vocations the Meos follow. Poverty and illiteracy are high due to neglect by the rulers for centuries. Only one in ten Meos is able to properly read and write.
The Meo in Haryana are found mainly in newly created Mewat district apart from neighboring Faridabad and Gurgaon. The Meo of Haryana are settled agriculturists, and after a century of Tablighi influence, are far more orthodox, than their Rajasthani neighbors.
Meos in Madhya Paradesh
The Meo, a backward community in the State having a total population of about 32 lakh. The Meo community dominates in Mandsaur, Kannod, Dewas, Khategaon, Jaora, Ratlam, Narsinghgarh, Susner, Agar and Bagli.
In Uttar Pradesh
In Uttar Pradesh, the Meo are found mainly in the western regions of Rohilkhand and Doab. Unlike those of Mewat, the Uttar Pradesh Meo are dispersed. Their main gotras in the state are the Chhirklot, Dalut, Demrot, Pandelot, Balot, Dawar, Kalesa, Landawat, Rattawat, Dingal and Singhal. The Uttar Pradesh Meo maintain a system of community endogamy, and gotraexogamy. The Meo of UP are a community of small farmers, and urban wage labourers.
In the Doab, the region of western Uttar Pradesh situated between the Ganges and Yamuna river, the Meo are concentrated in the south-western portion of this region. The district ofMathura formed part of the historic Mewat region, especially the Chhata tehsil, and is home to a large community of Meo. The south west portion of Bulandshahr District is also home to a large community of Meo. The Meo also extend to Meerut District. The Doab Meo now speak Urdu, and have abandoned Mewati.
Separate from the Doab Meo are the Meo of Rohilkhand. Culturally they are now indistinguishable from the neighbouring Muslim communities. They are found mainly in Moradabad,Bareilly, Rampur and Pilibhit districts. These Meo are said to have Mewat in the 18th Century, fleeing the great famine of 1783, and these Meo are generally referred to by the term Mewati. They now speak Khari Boli and Urdu, and no longer maintain a system of gotra exogamy, with now many practicising parallel-cousin marriages.