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|Regions with significant populations|
|Mewati • Haryanvi|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Cheetah • Merat • Qaimkhani • Sindhi-Sipahi • Deshwali • Khanzada • Ranghar • Ahir|
Meo (pronounced as May-o & Mev) (also called Mewati) were Hindu Rajputs and Meena who converted to Islam between 12th and 17th century, who live in and around Mewat that includes Nuh district of Haryana and parts of adjacent Alwar and Bharatpur districts in Rajasthan. Meos speak Mewati.
Meos believe that they are direct descendants of Krishna, Rama and Arjun. Meos were Hindu Rajputs and Meena who converted to Islam between 12th and 17th century,[page needed] until as late as Aurangzeb's rule, but they have maintained their age-old distinctive cultural identity until today. According to S. L. Sharma and R. N. Srivastava, Mughal persecution had little effect of strengthening their Islamic identity, but it reinforced their resistance to Mughal rule.
Hindu inhabitants of Mewat, although 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. Apparently, Meos come from many Hindu clans who converted to Islam and amalgamated as Meo community.
Syncretic Hindu-Muslim culture
Meo profess the beliefs of Islam but the roots of their ethnic structure are in Hindu caste society. The neighbouring Hindu Jats, Ahirs, Minas, and Rajputs share the same mores (core social norms). Meos epics and ballads are derived from Hindu heritage, such as the most popular Mewati version of the Mahabharata called "Pandun ka kada".
Hindus names and festivals
Many Rajasthani Meos retain mixed Hindu-Muslim names. Names such as Ram Khan or Shankar Khan are not unusual in the Meo tracts in Alwar. Meos still use Singh in their name, such as Ram Singh, Til Singh and Fateh Singh are typical Meo names.
Marriage and kinship customs
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. Raymond Jamous studied kinship and rituals among the Meo and wrote a book.
They do not marry within one's Gotras like Hindus of the north though Islam permits marriage with cousins. Solemnization of marriage among Meos was not complete without both Hindu rituals and Nikah as in Islam. Meos generally do not follow the Muslim law of inheritance and so among them, like various other communities in the region, custom makes a younger brother or a cousin marry the widow of the deceased by a simple Nikah ceremony.
Meos in Mewat
There are 400,000 Meos in Mewat area spread across tri-junction of borders Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. They are found in Nuh district (including Ferozepur Jhirka) in Haryana, in Alwar district and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, and Chhata tehsil of Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.
Meos outside Mewat
In Uttar Pradesh, the Meos are found mainly in the western regions of Rohilkhand and Doab. Unlike those of Mewat, the Uttar Pradesh Meos 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 Meos maintain a system of community endogamy, and gotra exogamy. The Meos of UP are a community of small farmers, and urban wage labourers. The Meo also extend to Meerut District. The Doab Meos 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.
The Meo in Delhi are found mainly in the neighbourhood of Walled City (Kucha Pandit Lal Kuan, Gali Shahtara Ajmri Gate and Bara Hindu Rao), Azadpur, Hauz Khas, Mehrauli and various outlying villages with names ending in Sarai which have become urbanised. All their villages have been swallowed up by the expanding Delhi city. The growth of urban Delhi has led to the abandonment of the Mewati dialect in favour of Hindi, which is now their main language. Similarly, there has been a decline in the power of the caste council (panchayat). The Meos of Delhi have maintained gotra exogamy, very rarely marrying into their own gotra.
- Trikha, Pradeep (2006). Textuality and Inter-textuality in the Mahabharata: Myth, Meaning and Metamorphosis. Sarup and Sons. p. 84. ISBN 9788176256919. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
- Emerging Social Science Concerns: Festschrift in Honour of Professor Yogesh Atal by Surendra K Gupta pg.365
- Resisting Regimes: Myth, Memory and the Shaping of a Muslim Identity by Shail Mayaram.
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- Mayaram, Shail (2003). Against History, Against State: Counterperspectives from the Margins. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12730-1.
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- Guru Nanak Dev University. Sociology Dept (1 January 2003). Guru Nanak journal of sociology. Sociology Dept., Guru Nanak Dev University. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
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- Kinship and Rituals Among the Meo of Northern India : Locating Sibling Relationship/Raymond Jamous. Translated from the French by Nora Scott. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2003, xiv, 200 p., ills., tables, $31. ISBN 0-19-566459-0.
- Hashim Amir Ali; Mohammad Rafiq Khan; Om Prakash Kumar (1970). The Meos of Mewat: old neighbours of New Delhi. Oxford & IBH Pub. Co. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas page 638 to 640 Popular Prakashan
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