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|Religions||Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism|
|Populated States||Punjab, Punjab, Pakistan|
Sethi (Punjabi: ਸੇਠੀ) (Hindi: ) is a common Punjabi surname among the Arora and Khukhrain clans of the Punjabi people. Sethis are found in Punjab, India and Pakistan. They are also found among the Rajasthani Jain community.
Sethi is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word "Sresthi" which means Shreshth "The Best Among all".
The Sanskrit term "sresthin" and the Pali term "setthi" are similar yet distinct. While the Sanskrit term found in the Brahmanas means "the best, then a leader, a nobleman, and a man of honour," the Pali term is associated with the beginning of commerce in the first third of the millennium before the common era.:175
Sethi was later referred to one who was a head of a tribe or businesses. The clan was developed as warriors and defenders of their land and they have also been in the civil, government, and military administration roles for centuries.Sethis are believed to be one of the bravest clans of Arora's. They have also expanded into trade and mercantile businesses.
Originally from the town of Bhera in the Jech doab (Jhelum - Chenab interfluve) region of Sargodha district of Pakistani Punjab. Bhera was an important trading outpost on the road to Kabul, and a 'taksal' (mint) during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Bhera has two Sethian de Mohallas (Vadda Sethia da Mohalla) that starts from Jethu di Khuee and the other, (Chhota Sethian da Mohalla), that takes off near Kacheri Bazaar and terminates near Circular Road close to the pre-partition-era Ram Leela Grounds. The houses in the main mohalla were famous for their carved doors.
Style of living was simple. Indian Sethis tend to be modest, self made and hardworking. They greatly respect the Dalai Lama as he believes in fighting for basic human rights and standing up for religious harmony. There was active participation from the Sethis in the Independence struggle against Britain.
Sethi's are Indo-Scythian people and have originally followed Hinduism, however a significant number adapted Sikhism during the 18th and 19th centuries. This, and also because many Hindu Sethi families, as well as other Arora (Khukhrain) clans, raised at least one Sikh son after the formation of the Khalsa. This resulted in Khukhrain family names being present in both Hindu and Sikh communities worldwide.
The present day Sethi's are descendents of Raja Khokard Maal who ruled a part of West Punjab with his seat at Bhera. He was instrumental in forging unity of all other sections and laid the foundation of a single powerful kingdom, which came to be known as Khukhrain clan. The various constituents were so brave a people that Mehmood Ghaznavi while invading India was always scared of the Sethi clan and had instructed his generals not to antagonise them and keep off their territories while conducting their campaigns.
A predominant section of the Hindu Khukhrain continue to follow dual religious traditions of both Sikh as well as Arya Samaj mores. This has been in spite of the religo-political competitive zeal of both the Arya Samaj and Tat Khalsa effort at creating purified identities.
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- Ivo Fiser, "The Problem of the Setthi in Buddhist Jatakas," in Trade in Early India, edited by Ranabir Chakravarti (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001).