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KĀCHHI

LIST OF PARAGRAPHS

1. General notice.
2. Subdivisions.
3. Marriage customs.

4. Child-birth.
5. Ear-piercing
6. Disposal of the dead.

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 al 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.

divisions.

3. Mar

riage customs.

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 (lii 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

II

CHILD-BIRTH

287

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bridegroom has to search for her. Sometimes the bride's younger sister is dressed up in her clothes and the bridegroom catches her in mistake for his wife, whereupon the old women laugh and say to him, 'Do you want her also ?' If finally he fails to find the bride he must give her some ornament.

After the wedding the bridegroom's marriage-crown is hung to the roof in a basket. And on the sixth day of the following month of Bhādon (August), he again dresses himself in his wedding clothes, and taking his marriage-crown on a dish, proceeds to the nearest stream or river accompanied by his friends. Here he throws the crown into the water, and the wedding coat is washed clean of the turmeric and unsewn and made up into ordinary clothes, This ceremony is known as moschatt and is common to Hindu castes generally. Widows are permitted to marry again, and the most usual match is with the younger brother of the deceased husband. Divorce is allowed at the instance either of the husband or wife, and may be effected by a simple declaration before the caste committee.

After a birth neither the mother nor child are given 4. Childanything to eat the first day ; and on the second they bring a young calf and give a little of its urine to the child, and to the mother a little sugar and the half of a cocoanut. In the evening of this day they buy all kinds of hot spices and herbs from a Bania and make a cake with them and give it to the mother to eat. On the second day the child begins to drink its mother's milk. The navel-string is cut and buried in the room on the first day, and over it a fire is kept burning continuously during the period of impurity. The small piece which falls from the child's body is buried beneath the mother's bed. The period of impurity after the birth of a girl lasts for four days and five days for a boy. On the sixth day the mother is given rice to eat. Twelve days after a child is born the barber's wife cuts its nails for the first time and throws the clippings away.

The ears of boys and girls are pierced when they are 5. Earfour or five years old; until this is done they are not con

piercing. sidered as members of the caste and may take food from any one.

The ear is always pierced by a Sunār (goldsmith), who travels about the country in the pursuit of this calling.

birth.

of the dead.

A brass pin is left in the ear for fifteen days, and is then removed and a strip of wood is substituted for it in a boy's ear and a peacock's feather in that of a girl to enlarge the hole. Girls do not have their nostrils pierced nor wear noserings, as the Kāchhis are a comparatively low caste. They are tattooed before or after marriage with patterns of a scorpion, a peacock, a discus, and with dots on the chin and cheek-bones. During the period of her monthly impurity a girl is secluded in the house and does not eat flesh or fish. When the time is finished she goes to the river and bathes and dresses her hair with earth, which is a necessary ceremony

of purification. 6. Disposal

The bodies of children under five and of persons dying from smallpox, snake bite or cholera are buried, and those of others are cremated. In Chhindwāra they do not wash or anoint the corpses of the dead, but sprinkle on them a little turmeric and water. On the day of the funeral or cremation the bereaved family is supplied with food by friends. The principal deity of the Kāchhis is Bhainsāsur, who is regarded as the keeper of the vegetable garden and is represented by a stone placed under a tree in any part of it. He is worshipped once a year after the Holi festival with offerings of vermilion, areca-nuts and cacoanuts, and libations of liquor. The Kāchhis raise all kinds of vegetables and garden crops, the principal being chillies, turmeric, tobacco, garlic, onions, yams and other vegetables. They are diligent and laborious, and show much skill in irrigating and manuring their crops.

1

1. Histori Kadera, Kandera, Golandāz, Bandar, Hawaidār._ cal notice. A small occupational caste of makers of fireworks. The

Kaderas numbered 2200 persons in 1911, and were most numerous in the Narsinghpur District. They consider themselves to have come from Bundelkhand, where the caste is also found, but it is in greatest strength in the Gwalior State. In former times Kaderas were employed to manufacture gunpowder and missiles of iron, and serve cannon in the Indian armies. The term Golandāz or 'ball-thrower' was also applied to native artillerymen. The Bāndar or 'rocketthrowers' were a separate class, who fired rockets containing

1 Partly based on a paper by Munshi Kanhya Lāl of the Gazetteer office.

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SUBDIVISIONS-SOCIAL CUSTOMS

289

1

missiles, the name being derived from vān, an arrow. With them may be classed the Deg-andāz or 'mortar-throwers,' who used thick earthenware pots filled with powder and having fuses attached, somewhat resembling the modern bomb

-missiles which inflicted dreadful wounds. Mr. Irvine writes of the Mughal artillery as follows: “The fire was never very rapid. Orme speaks of the artillery firing once in a quarter of an hour. In 1721 the usual rate of fire of heavy guns was once every three hours. Artillery which fired once in two gharis or forty-four minutes was praised for its rapidity of action. The guns were usually posted behind the clay walls of houses; or they might take up a commanding position on the top of a brick -kiln; or a temporary entrenchment might be formed out of the earthen bank and ditch which usually surround a grove of mangotrees.” Hawāidār is a term for a maker of fireworks, while the name Kandera itself may perhaps be derived from kand,

an arrow.

divisions.

In Narsinghpur the Kaderas have three subcastes, 2. SubRājpūt or Dāngiwāra, Dhunka, and Matwāla. The first claim to be Rājpūts, but the alternative name of Dāngiwāra indicates that they are a mixed group, perhaps partly of Rājpūt descent like the Dāngis of Saugor. It is by no means unlikely that the lower classes of Rājpūts should have been employed in the avocations of the Kaderas. The term Dhunka signifies a cotton-cleaner, and some of the Kaderas may have taken up this calling, when they could no longer find employment in the native armies. Matwala means a drinker of country liquor, in which members of this group indulge. But with the exception of the Rājpūt Kaderas in Narsinghpur, other members of the caste also drink it.

They celebrate their marriages by walking round the 3. Social sacred post.

Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. They have a caste committee, with a headman called Chaudhri or Mehtar, and an inferior officer known as Diwān. When a man has been put out of caste the Chaudhri first takes food with him on readmission, and for this is entitled to a fee of a rupee and a turban, while the

1 Irvine, Army of the Mughals, pp. 158, 159. VOL. III

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customs.

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