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RangrezMuslim ChhipiShaikh

The Rangrez are a Muslim community found in North India. They are also known as Sabagh.[1] Many members of Muslim Rangrez community have migrated to Pakistan after independence and have settled in Karachi, Sindh.

History and origin

The word rangrez (رنگریز) means a dyer in the Persian language, and the community has been connected with this occupation, while others were tailors and washermen of the people. Many now claim Central Asian descent, and it is quite possible that some may be of Turkic ancestry. They may be converts from the Hindu Rangrez caste, or it is more likely that they are a community of diverse origin, who over time have evolved into a community which is now bound by rules of endogamy[2] They are now associated with the dyeing of clothes.

They have the three subdivision, the Lalgarh, Nilgarh and Chhipi, and speak Urdu, as well as local dialect's of Hindi. The basis of these social divisions is occupation. In this social hierarchy, the Chhipi are placed in the lowest position, because they dyed and printed clothes, where as the Lalgarh and Nilgarh generally prepare colour from indigo. In fact, the Chhipi form a distinct endogamous sub-group within the larger Rangrez community. The word Rangrez has now been replaced by the word Sabbagh, which is an Arabic word meaning garden. They are a Sunni Muslim community. They also visit the shrines of various Sufi saints found in North India, such as Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The Rangrez now have other backward caste status in most states of North India.[3]


The Rangrez are found in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.[4] There are a number of Rangrez caste associations, with the Kul Hind Anjuman Sabbagh being an all India organisation of Rangrez with its headqurter at Delhi. Another Organisation is All India Rangrez Organisation with its office at Gaya in Bihar. Mr. Mustaqeem Akhtar Rangrez, a social worker is its president.[citation needed]

Quite a few Rangrez have immigrated to Pakistan, where they form an important element in the Muhajir community.[citation needed]

Present circumstances

In Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, they are a landless community, involved in textile dyeing and printing. Many have given up their traditional occupation, and recent surveys show only ten percent are still involved in their traditional occupation. Many have now become rickshaw pullers or are employed as laundrymen. The community is found throughout Uttar Pradesh, and are entirely Sunni. They live in multi-caste and multi-religious villages, but occupy their own distinct quarters. Most speak Urdu, as well as local dialects of Hindi, such as Awadhi.[5]

The Rangrez have their own council of elders to deal with matters relating to the community. This caste council or panchayat deals with issues such as elopment, fights, thefts and disrespect of community norms. The caste council has an elected president, secretary and treasurer, and no longer operates as a traditional caste council. They are an endogamous community, and cross cousin and parrelel cousin marriages are prevalent. Traditionally marriages take place between the Lalgarh and Nilgarh sub-groups, but not with the Muslim Chhipi. These three sub-groups are further divided into biradaris, clans which claim descent from a common ancestor. Marriages are preferred within the biradaris. Important biradaris include the Chandelwal, Ghosi, Siddiqi, Usmani, Shaikh and Khatri.[6]

In Rajasthan

In Rajasthan, the community claim to have come from Delhi during the rule of Mohammad Ghori. They are found mainly in Alwar, Jaipur, Sikara and Sawai Madhopur districts. The community is sub-divided into several clans, known as gotras, the main ones being Lodhi, Chauhan, Bagadiya ,Singhania, Mandawariya, Khokhar, Solanki, Aarbi, Salampariya and Sabuka. They maintain a system of clan exogamy, which a practice unique to the Rajasthan Rangrez. The Rangrez are involved mainly involved in the dyeing of clothes. Like in Uttar Pradesh, the Rajasthan Rangrez live in multi-caste and multi-religious villages, but maintain a social distance with neighbouring Muslim castes such as the Meo and Manihar.[7]

In Bihar

In Bihar, they are found in the districts of Patna, Siwan, Saran, Munger, Gaya, Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur. They speak Urdu, as well as Magadhi and Bhojpuri. Their traditional occupation is textile dyeing and printing. Unlike Uttar Pradesh, there is no distinct caste of printers, both occupations being done by the Rangrez. The majority of the Rangrez in Bihar however no longer practice their traditional occupation. Many Rangrez are now petty businessmen, while some are cultivators.[8]

See also


  1. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1211 Manohar Publications
  2. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1201 Manohar Publications
  3. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1204 Manohar Publications
  4. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1041 Manohar Publications
  5. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1042 Manohar Publications
  6. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three by K S Singh page 1205 Manohar Publications
  7. ^ People of India Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 709 to 712 Popular Prakashan
  8. ^ People of India Bihar Volume XVI Part Two edited by S Gopal & Hetukar Jha pages 814 to 817 Seagull Books