Gaddi Tribes constitute a sizeable population of tribes habitating in Himachal Pradesh. These tribes mainly dwell around Dhauladhar mountain range, Chamba, Bharmaur and the areas near to Dharamshala. It is believed that these people migrated to the foothills of Himalayas from Central Asia, Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is also believed that some castes of Gaddi tribes ran away and took shelter in hills because of the threat of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb in 17th century.
The pace of evolving changes with time, in contemporary society, has also affected the living style of Gaddi tribes, which poses a great threat to their culture, costume, jewellery, folklore and lifestyle. Characteristics of Gaddis are diminishing fast because of the cultural invasion by other communities.
The main occupation of Gaddi tribes is shepherding and they make their livelihood by rearing and selling sheeps, goats, mules and horses. Though these tribes were more nomadic in older days but now they have made their settlements in the villages and make seasonal movements with their livestock to pastures in upper hills during summer season and to the foothills in chilly winters. Now people from Gaddi community have also started adopting several other occupations for earning their livelihood.
Related with the occupation of sheep grazing, Gaddis flaunt woolen attire made of sheep wool, like woolen pyjamas (trousers), long coats, dhoru (woolen sari), caps and shoes made up of wool and goat hair. Even sheep wool is also used for making shawls, blankets and carpets which are spun in traditional style at homes as they are expert in weaving. Gaddi women are also fond of jewellery made of semi precious stones, gold and silver.
Though most of the Gaddi community is Hindu, but one can also find Muslim Gaddis in the upper areas of Chamba and Lahaul Spiti districts. Where these tribes speak in local dialects, they can also understand and converse in Hindi as well. Gaddis are also known for their simple living style and are religious. Most of them still practice their old traditions and customs. They are also fond of music and dance and their important fairs are Minjar, Bharmaur Jatra and Sui Mela. They are worshipers of Lord Shiva and also celebrate Shivratri festival with pomp and show.
Most of the people in Gaddi tribe are non-vegetarians and they also consume goat milk. Though in the earlier days child marriages and polygamy were in practice but with the change in lifestyle the community has also grown up educationally.