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Ancestors from the Indian subcontinent

Religion and records in India

Religion

There has been a lot of migration into and within the Indian subcontinent.

It is important to know where your family originated from, and religion and names are important in establishing this.

A useful book for understanding naming patterns is V Hallan, Asian Names: Guide to Assist Understanding of the Naming Systems of People from the Indian Subcontinent (Walsall, 1993).

Indian National Archives

The following records can be found at the Indian National Archives:

  • Records created by Indian local rulers
  • Hindu temple records
  • Records from Islamic shrines
  • Records from Sikh gurdwaras
  • Waqf authority records
  • Census details 1871-1923
  • Indian army personnel records
  • Copies of LDS films

A digitisation project is under way, but the best chance you have of finding records relevant to your family history is to employ a local researcher.

Apart from the records held at the national archives, there are others in local libraries and museums and a local researcher will have good knowledge of where to find the appropriate records.

There are various offices across India for the National Archives - see their main website for contact details:

  • National Archives of India , New Delhi  
  • Record Centre, Puducherry  
  • Record Centre, Jaipur
  • Regional Office of Bhopal  
  • Record Centre, Bhubaneswar  

Other records

  • Each Indian state has a regional passport office which holds passport records
  • Births and deaths registers are held by the district registrar’s offices (although deaths are only registered in circumstances where there is a legal case, where land or money is left, where there is a pension to be claimed, or where the death was in unusual circumstances)
  • Local register offices hold some wills
  • Local Marriage Registration Offices hold records of legal marriages
  • Churches hold records of Anglo-Indian and Goan marriages
  • Mosques hold records of Muslim marriages, but survival of these records is patchy
  • Some Hindu temples hold records of Hindu marriages, but again survival is patchy
  • Wealthy families usually announce marriages and deaths in local or national newspapers - The Hindu has had an obituary column since 1878
  • Post-1947 censuses are held at: The Central Secretariat Library (CSL), Indian Official Document Collection, G Wing, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi, 110001, India