has been defined as a way of life involving 'repeated
shifting of habitat in search of subsistence'. Nomads can
either be 'true', 'semi-nomad' or 'semi-sedentary'
depending, respectively, on whether their peregrinations are
permanent or round the year, combined with some agriculture
at their base-camps, or seasonal. Rajasthan has had a
substantial incidence of seasonal migrations either as an
adopted way of life or a scarcity-induced aberration.
Gadolia Lohars: The Gadolia Lohars
(bullock-cart blacksmiths) of Rajasthan form a major and
substantial group of nomads. Also referred to as
Gaduliyas, they are found in Rajasthan, Gujarat,
Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, western Maharashtra and western
Uttar Pradesh. In Rajasthan, an estimate made in 1955
gave their population at about 17,000. The 1931 Census
classified them as a functional caste and described them as
a sub-division of Hindu lohars or blacksmiths. It also
mentioned the tradition according to which they were
expelled by the Brahmins of Chittaur. The more romantic
version now generally current is that the Gadoliya Lohars
left Chittaur at the time of its sack in 1568 and took five
vows namely, that they would not enter the fort, build
houses and live in them, sleep on cots, light lamps, or keep
ropes for drawing water from wells, until such time as the
fort again gained freedom. It was in accordance with this
version that in 1955 a function was arranged signalling the
fulfilment of their vow. It is another matter that they
continue to lead a nomadic life or build makeshift 'houses'
at what used to be their roadside camping sites while being
averse to living in houses specially built for their
A wandering, artisan class, they stay at a place while there
is a demand for their services, and then move on in search
of newer clients. The fact of their becoming 'roadside'
lohars in many instances signifies the availability at such
sites of custom round the year. For itinerant Gadoliyas, the
working season begins after the rains, in September, while
April-June forms the off-season.