Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

the birth of a child, and anointing the infant's forehead with its blood. They have not retained their Telugu language, however, and like the Kawars now speak a dialect of Chhattisgarhi at home, while many also know Uriya. The Kalangas have no real endogamous divisions but a large number of exogamous groups or bargas, the names of which are derived from animals, plants, or material objects, nicknames, occupations or titles. Instances of the totemistic groups are Barha the wild boar, Magar the crocodile, Bichhi the scorpion, Saria a variety of rice, Chhati a mushroom, Khumri a leaf umbrella, and several others. The members of the group revere the animal, plant or other object from which it takes its name and would refuse to injure it or use it for food. They salute the object whenever they see it. Instances of other group names are Mänjhi a headman, Behra a cook, Gunda dusty, Kapāt a shutter, Bhundi a hole, Chika muddy, Bhil a tribe, Rendia quarrelsome, and Bersia a Thug or strangler. Some of the nicknames or titles are curious, as for instance Kapāt, a shutter, which stands for gate-keeper, and Bhundi, a hole, which indicates a defective person. Some of the group names are those of other castes, and this probably indicates the admission of families of other castes among the Kalangas. One of the groups is called Kusundi, the meaning of which is not known, but whenever any one of the caste gets maggots in a wound and is temporarily expelled, it is a member of the Kusundi group, if one is available, who gives him water on his readmission into caste. This is a dangerous service, because it renders the performer liable to the burden of the other's sin, and when no Kusundi is present five or seven men of other groups combine in doing it so as to reduce the risk to a fraction. But why this function of a scapegoat should be imposed upon the Kusundi group, or whether it possesses any peculiar sanctity which protects it from danger, cannot be explained. Marriage within the same barga or group is prohibited and also the union of first cousins. Marriage is usually adult and matches are arranged between the parents of the parties. A considerable quantity of grain with five pieces of cloth and Rs. 5 are given to the father of the bride. A marriage-shed is erected and a post of the mahua tree fixed inside it. Three days before the wedding a Gânda goes to the shed with some pomp and worships the village gods there. In the ceremony the bridegroom and bride proceed separately seven times round the post, this rite being performed for three days running. During the four days of the wedding the fathers of the bride and bridegroom each give one meal to the whole caste on two days, while the other meal on all four days is given to the wedding party by the members of the caste resident in the village. This may be a survival of the time when all members of the village community were held to be related. Widowmarriage is allowed, but the widow must obtain the consent of the caste people before taking a second husband, and a feast must be given to them. If the widow has no children and there are no relatives to succeed to her late husband's property, it is expended on feeding the caste people. Divorce is permitted and is effected by breaking the woman's bangles in front of the caste panchāyat. In memory perhaps of their former military profession the Kalangas worship the sword on the 15th day of Shrāwan and the 9th day of Kunwär. Offerings are made to the dead in the latter month, but not to persons who have died a violent death. The spirits of these must be laid lest they should trouble the living, and this is done in the following manner: a handful of rice is placed at the threshold of the house, and a ring is suspended by at hread so as to touch the rice. A goat is then brought up, and when it eats the rice, the spirit of the dead person is considered to have entered into the goat, which is thereupon killed and eaten by the family so as to dispose of him once for all. If the goat will not eat the rice it is made to do so. The spirit of a man who has been killed by a tiger must, however, be laid by the Sulia or sorcerer of the caste, who goes through the formula of pretending to be a tiger and of mauling another sorcerer.

2. Subdivisions.

3. Marriage.

4. Social The Kalangas are at present cultivators and many of

Position them are farmservants. They do not now admit outsiders into the caste, but they will receive the children begotten on any woman by a Kalanga man. They take food cooked

II SOCIAL POS/TZOAV 305

without water from a Guria, but katchi food from nobody. Only the lowest castes will take food from them. They drink liquor and eat fowls and rats, but not beef or pork. A man who gets his ear torn is temporarily excluded from caste, and this penalty is also imposed for the other usual offences. A woman committing adultery with a man of another caste is permanently expelled. The Kalangas are somewhat tall in stature. Their features are Dravidian, and in their dress and ornaments they follow the Chhattisgarhi style.

WOL. III X

KA LAR

LIST OF PARAGRAPHS

1. Strength of the caste. 8. Drunkenness and divine in2. Internal structure. spiration. 3. Dandsena Kalārs in Chhattis- 9. Sanctity of liquor among the

garh. Gonds and other castes. 4. Social customs. Io. Drugs also considered divine. 5. Liquor held divine in Vedic 1 I. Opium and ganja.

times. 12. Tobacco. 6. Subsequent prohibition of 13. Customs in connection with

alcohol. drinking.

7. Spirits habitually drunk in ancient times.

Kalār, Kalwār;"—The occupational caste of distillers and sellers of fermented liquor. In 1911 the Kalārs numbered nearly 200,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār, or rather more than one per cent of the population; so they are a somewhat important caste numerically. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Kalyapāla, a distiller of liquor. The caste has a number of subdivisions, of which the bulk are of the territorial type, as Mālvi or the immigrants from Mälwa, Lăd those coming from south Gujarāt, Daharia belonging to Dāhar or the Jubbulpore country, Jaiswär and Kanaujia coming from Oudh. The Rai Kalārs are an aristocratic subcaste, the word Rai signifying the highest or ruling group like Rāj. But the Byåhut or “Married are perhaps really the most select, and are so called because they forbid the remarriage of widows, their women being thus married once for all. In Bengal they also decline to 1 Some information for this article Tahsildăr, and Sundar Lāl Richaria,

1. Strength of the CaSte.

2. Internal Structure.

has been supplied by Bābu Läl, Excise Sub-Inspector of Police. Sub-Inspector, Mr. Aduråm Chaudhri,

PART II KA LAR 307

distil or sell liquor. The Chauske Kalārs are said to be so called because they prohibit the marriage of persons having a common ancestor up to the fourth generation. The name of the Seohāre or Sivahāre subcaste is perhaps a corruption of Somhâre or dealers in Soma, the sacred fermented liquor of the Vedas; or it may mean the worshippers of the god Siva. The Seohäre Kalārs say that they are connected with the Agarwāla Banias, their common ancestors having been the brothers Seoru and Agru. These brothers on one occasion purchased a quantity of mahua” flowers; the price afterwards falling heavily. Agru sold his stock at a discount and cut the loss; but Seoru, unwilling to suffer it, distilled liquor from his flowers and sold the liquor, thus recouping himself for his expenditure. But in consequence of his action he was degraded from the Bania caste and his descendants became Kalârs. The Jaiswär, Kanaujia and Seohāre divisions are also found in northern India, and the Byåhut both there and in Bengal. Mr. Crooke states that the caste may be an offshoot from the Bania or other Vaishya tribes; and a slight physical resemblance may perhaps be traced between Kalārs and Banias. It may be noticed also that some of the Kalārs are Jains, a religion to which scarcely any others except Banias adhere. Another hypothesis, however, is that since the Kalārs have become prosperous and wealthy they devised a story connecting them with the Bania caste in order to improve their social position. In Chhattisgarh the principal division of the Kalārs is that of the Dandsenas or ‘Stick-carriers, and in explanation of the name they relate the following story: “A Kalâr boy was formerly the Mahāprasād or bosom friend of the son of the Rājput king of Balod.” But the Rāja's son fell in love with the Kalâr boy's sister and entertained evil intentions towards her. Then the Kalâr boy went and complained to the Rāja, who was his Phulbäba, the father of his friend, saying, “A dog is always coming into my house and defiling it, what am I to do?’ The Rāja replied that he must kill the dog. Then the boy asked whether he would be punished

* Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. made. Kalâr. * The headquarters of the Sanjäri * Bassia latifolia, the tree from tahsil in Drug District. whose flowers fermented liquor is * Phulbaba, lit. “flower-father.’

3. DandSena Kalārs in Chhattisgarh.

« PreviousContinue »