« PreviousContinue »
after other castes, as Bharia (forest tribe), Gadaria (shepherd), Sunār, Naua (Nai), Thakurel (Thākur or Rājpūt), Kachhwāha and Chauhān (septs of Rājpūts), and Kuria or Kori (weaver), and indicate that members of these castes took to the profession of bangle-making and became Kacheras. It may be surmised that, in the first instance perhaps, when the objection to using the product of the Muhammadan workman arose, if the theory of the prior use of lac bangles be correct, members of different castes took to supplying bangles for their own community, and from these in the course of time the Kachera caste was developed. Other names of sections worth mentioning are Jharrāha, one who frets or worries ; Kharrāha, a choleric person ; Dukesha, one who carries a begging-bowl; Thuthel, a maimed man, and Khajha, one suffering from
the itch. 3. Social
The exogamous sections are known as baink. The customs. marriage of persons belonging to the same section and of
first cousins is forbidden. Girls are generally married at an early age, as there is a scarcity of women in the caste, and they are snapped up as soon as available. As a natural consequence a considerable bride-price is paid, and the desire of the Kachera to make a profit by the marriage of his daughter is ridiculed in the following saying, supposed to be his prayer: "O God, give me a daughter. In exchange for her I shall get a pair of bullocks and a potful of rupees, and I shall be rich for the rest of my life. As her dowry I shall give her a sickle, a hoe and a spinning-machine, and these will suffice for my daughter to earn her livelihood.” The usual sum paid for a girl is Rs. 50. The marriage ceremony is performed by walking round the sacred pole, and after it the couple try their strength against each other, the bride trying to push a stone pestle on to a slab with her foot and the groom pushing it off with his. At the end of the wedding an omen is taken, a silver ornament known as dhāll which women wear in the ear being fixed on to a wall and milk poured over it. If the ornament is displaced by the stream of milk and falls down, it is considered that the union will be a happy one. The proceeding perhaps symbolises roughly the birth of a child. The marriage of
1 Dhāl means a shield, and the ornament is of this shape.
widows is permitted, and in consequence of the scarcity of women the widow is usually married to her late husband's younger brother, if there be one, even though he may be only a child. Divorce is permitted. Liaisons within the caste are usually overlooked, but a woman going wrong with an outsider is expelled from the community. The Kacheras commonly burn the dead. They employ Brāhmans for ceremonial purposes, but their social status is low and no high caste will take water from them. They eat flesh and fish, and some of them drink liquor, while others have given it up. They have a caste committee or panchāyat for the punishment of social offences, which is headed by officials known as Mālik and Diwān. Their favourite deity is Devi, and in her honour they sow the Jawaras or pots of wheat corresponding to the gardens of Adonis during the nine days prior to the Rāmnaomi and Dasahra festivals in March and September. Some of them carry their devotion so far as to grow the plants of wheat on their bodies, sitting in one posture for nine days and almost giving up food and drink. At the Diwāli festival they worship the furnace in which glass bangles are made.
The traditional occupation of the caste is the manufacture 4. Occupaof glass bangles. They import the glass in lumps from northern India and melt it in their furnace, after which the colouring matter is applied and the ring is turned on a slab of stone. Nearly all Hindu married women have glass bangles, which are broken or removed if their husbands die. But the rule is not universal, and some castes do not wear them at all. Mārwāri women have bangles of ivory, and Dhangar (shepherd) women of cocoanut - shell. Women of several castes who engage in labour have glass bangles only on the left wrist and metal ones on the right, as the former are too fragile. Low-caste women sometimes wear the flat, black bangles known as khagga on the upper arm. castes the glass bangles are also broken after the birth of a child. Bangles of many colours are made, but Hindus usually prefer black or indigo-blue. Among Hindus of good caste a girl may wear green bangles while she is unmarried ; at her wedding black bangles are put on her wrists, and thereafter she may have them of black, blue, red or yellow, but
Muhammadans usually wear black or dark-green bangles. A Hindu woman has the same number of bangles on each wrist, not less than five and more if she likes. She will never leave her arms entirely without bangles, as she thinks this would cause her to become a widow. Consequently when a new set are purchased one or two of the old ones are kept on each arm. Similarly among castes who wear lac bangles like Banjāras, five should be worn, and these cover the greater part of the space between the wrist and the elbow. The men of the caste usually stay at home and make the bangles, and the women travel about to the different village markets, carrying their wares on little ponies if they can afford them. It is necessary that the seller of bangles should be a woman, as she has to assist her customers to work them on to their wrists, and also display her goods to high-caste women behind the purda in their homes.
The Kacheras' bangles are very cheap, from two to fourteen being obtainable for a pice (farthing), according to quality. Many are also broken, and the seller has to bear the loss of all those broken when the purchaser is putting them on, which may amount to 30 per cent. And though an improvement on the old lac bangles, the colours are very dull, and bracelets of better and more transparent glass imported from Austria now find a large sale and tend to oust the indigenous product. The Kachera, therefore, is, as a rule, far from prosperous.
The incessant bending over the furnace tends to undermine his constitution and often ruins his eyesight. There is in fact a Hindi saying to the effect that, “When the Kachera has a son the rejoicings are held in the Kundera's (turner's) house. For he will go blind and then he will find nothing else to do but turn the Kundera's lathe.”
LIST OF PARAGRAPHS
I. General notice.
Kāchhi.--An important cultivating caste of the northern 1. General Districts, who grow vegetables and irrigated crops requiring intensive cultivation. The distinction between the Kāchhis and Mālis of the Hindustāni Districts is that the former grow regular irrigated crops, while the latter confine their operations to vegetables and flower-gardens; whereas the Māli or Marār of the Marātha country is both a cultivator and a gardener. The Kāchhis numbered about 120,000 persons in 1911, and resided mainly in the Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore and Narsinghpur Districts. The word Kāchhi may be derived from kachhār, the name given to the alluvial land lying on river banks, which they greatly affect for growing their vegetables. Another derivation is from kāchhni, a term used for the process of collecting the opium from the capsules of the poppy. The caste are probably an offshoot of the Kurmis. Owing to the resemblance of names they claim a connection with the Kachhwāha sept of Rājpūts, but this is not at all probable.
The caste is divided into a number of subcastes, most of 2. Subwhich take their names from special plants which they grow. Thus the Hardia Kāchhis grow haldi or turmeric; the Alias cultivate the āl or Indian madder, from which the well-known red dye is obtained; the Phūlias are flower-gardeners ; the Jirias take their name from jira or cumin ; the Murai or Murao Kāchhis are called after the muli or radish ; the Pirias 1 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, article Kāchhi.
take their name from the piria or basket in which they carry earth; the Sanias grow san or hemp; the Mor Kāchhis are those who prepare the inaur or marriage-crown for weddings; and the Līlia subcaste are called after the indigo plant (līz or nil). In some localities they have a subcaste called Kāchhwāhi, who are considered to have a connection with the Rājpūts and to rank higher than the others.
The social customs of the Kāchhis resemble those of the Kurmis. The descendants of the same parents do not intermarry for three generations. A man may have two sisters to wife at the same time. In the Damoh District, on the arrival of the bridegroom's party, the bride is brought into the marriage-shed, and is there stripped to the waist while she holds a leaf-cup in her hand; this is probably done so that the bridegroom may see that the bride is free from any bodily defect. Girls are usually married before they are ten years old, and if the parents are too poor to arrange a match for their daughter, the caste-fellows often raise a subscription when she attains this age and get her married. The bridegroom should always be older than the bride, and the difference is generally from five to ten years. The bridegroom wears a loin-cloth and long coat reaching to the ground, both of which are stained yellow with turmeric; the bride wears a red cloth or one in which red is the main colour. The girl's father gives her a dowry of a cow or jewels, or at least two rupees; while the boy's father pays all the expenses of the wedding with the exception of one feast. The bridegroom gives the bride a present of three shoulder-cloths and three skirts, and one of these is worn by her at the wedding; this is the old northern method of dress, but married women do not usually adhere to it and have adopted the common sāri or single body-cloth. The principal ceremony is the bhānwar or walking round the sacred post. While the bride and bridegroom are engaged in this the parents and elderly relatives shut themselves into the house and weep. During the first four rounds of the post the bride walks in front bowing her head and the bridegroom places his right hand on her back; while during the last three the bridegroom walks in front holding the bride by her third finger. After this the bride is hidden somewhere in the house and the