Chaudhary

ChoudhuryUrdu: چودهرى‎; Bengali: চৌধুরী; Hindi: चौधरी ) is a term in Indo-Aryan languages, literally meaning "holder of four". Choudhury (also spellt Choudhury, Chaudhari, Chaudhary, Chowdhury, Chaudhury, Chaudhry, Choudhury, Chowdhery, Chaudhary, or Choudhry) is a hereditary title of honour, awarded by Mughal Emperors to persons of eminence. Traditionally, the term is used as a title indicating the ownership of ancestral land, but in contemporary usage it is often taken as a surname or title.

In the Delhi,Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Gurjars,Arrain,Jat(Jatt),Rajput,Tyagi are known as Chaudhary. With the passage of time, the communities living in the similar lifestyle also started using the title Chaudhary, as being landed barons.

During the Mughal era, a taluqa or district usually consisted of 84 villages and a central town. The Taluqdar was required to collect taxes, maintain law and order, and provide military supplies and manpower to the provincial government. In most cases the Taluqdars were entitled to retain a tenth of the collected revenue. However, some privileged Taluqdars were entitled to a quarter and hence were called Chowdhury, which also literally means owner of the fourth part. According to the Glossary of Punjab Castes, the Taluqdars Minhas and Kassar tribes of the Dhanni country (present day Chakwal) in the northwest of Punjab were among the first few to receive this honorific title from the Mughal Emperor, Zaheerudin Babur around the empire. During the Mughal era, this title was only conferred upon a few privileged.

However, during the Sikh rule in Punjab this title became very common and quite a few village headmen or "Lumberdars" were given "Chowdhary" as a title by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ever since, the Chowdharys of Chakwal style themselves as "Chowdharial" to distinguish themselves from the newly appointed men. In northern Indian states such as Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the title is used by landowning ethnic group and communities like Jatt, Arains, Gujjars, Tyagi and Maithil Brahmin, in Pakistan Arains, Gujjars, & Jatts use this title.

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