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Religious Minorities of Bundelkhand

  Jain religious idols in Deogarh, Lalitpur district

A sizable Muslim population is found in Bundelkhand only in a few districts of UP (see table in Religious Groups in Bundelkhand).

According to Census 2001 figures, the largest  Muslim population was found in Jalaun (around 150,000 persons), followed by Banda (130,000) and Hamirpur (83,000) districts.

All three districts were centres of power of Muslim rulers in pre-British-rule times for a considerable period, and Urdu continues to be used and taught there.

The majority of the Muslims are Sunnis, divided into several groups including Sheikhs, Pathans, Qureshis, Siddiquis, Sayids, Ghoris and Muslim Rajputs.

There are also several Muslim occupational groups like Behnas, Julahas, Kunjras and Qassabs.

Relative to their presence in the rest of UP and MP, Jains are found in large numbers in parts of Bundelkhand.

According to Census 2001, the largest population of Jains in the region was in Sagar district (around 60,000 persons). Outside of  Meerut and Agra, the highest number of Jains in UP were found in Lalitpur (20,000). Damoh (24,000) and Tikamgarh (15,000) were other districts with a sizable Jain population.

Bundelkhand has several important places of Jain pilgrimage that attract people of the religion from all over the country. The majority of the Jains belong to the Digambar sect and are traders or moneylenders.  

Jhansi was a major centre for Christian missionary activity during British rule, but converts in the local population are found only in small numbers.

In the Patha region of Chitrakoot district, there is a church establishment dating from the 1930s, and there are a few Christian families among Kol tribals, who live separately and have a distinctive lifestyle.

Buddhists, or more precisely neo-Buddhists—SC groups who have converted to Buddhism following Dr BR Ambedkar’s example—constituted a significant minority only in Datia district, according to Census 2001.

However, there appears to be a small but growing trend of SC families following simple neo-Buddhist rituals during marriage.

A few Parsi families are found in Jhansi city.

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