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letter to his relatives informing them of his death, on condition that he said nothing as to its manner.
But in the letter he disclosed the murder, and the Ghasias, who could not read, were duly brought to justice. In the Ratanpur story as reported from Bilāspur it was stated that “ Somehow, even from down the well, the minister's son managed to get a letter sent to his father telling him of the murder.” And this sentence seems sufficient to establish the fact that the Central Provinces story has merely been imported from Orissa and slightly altered to give it local colour. The real reason for the traditional aversion felt by the Ghasias and other low castes for the Kāyasths will be discussed in the article on that caste.
Ghosi. —A caste of herdsmen belonging to northern India and found in the Central Provinces in Saugor and other Districts of the Jubbulpore and Nerbudda Divisions. In 1911 they numbered 10,000 persons in this Province out of a strength of about 60,000 in India. The name is said to be derived from the Sanskrit root ghush, to shout, the word ghosha meaning one who shouts as he herds his cattle. A noticeable fact about the caste is that, while in Upper India they are all Muhammadans—and it is considered to be partly on account of the difference in religion that they have become differentiated into a separate caste from the Ahīrs—in the Central Provinces they are nearly all Hindus and show no trace of Muhammadan practices. A few Muhammadan Ghosis are found in Nimār and some Muhammadans who call themselves Gaddi in Mandla are believed to be Ghosis. And as the Ghosis of the northern Districts of the Central Provinces must in common with the bulk of the population be descended from immigrants from northern India, it would appear that they must have changed their religion, or rather abandoned one to which their ancestors had only been imperfectly proselytised, when it was no longer the dominant faith of the locality in which they lived. Sir D. Ibbetson says that in the Punjab the name Ghosi is used only for Muhammadans, and
1 This article is based partly on a paper by Khān Bahādur Imdād Ali, Pleader, Damoh.
is often applied to any cowherd or milkman of that religion, whether Gūjar, Ahir or of any other caste, just as Goāla is used for a Hindu cowherd.
It is said that Hindus will buy pure milk from the Musalmān Ghosi, but will reject it if there is any suspicion of its having been watered by the latter, as they must not drink water at his hands. But in Berār Brāhmans will now buy milk and curds from Muhammadan milkmen. Mr. Crooke remarks that most of the Ghosis are Ahīrs who have been converted to Islām. To the east of the United Provinces they claim a Gūjar origin, and here they will not eat beef themselves nor take food with any Muhammadans who consume it. They employ Brāhmans to fix the auspicious times for marriage and other ceremonies. The Ghosis of Lucknow have no other employment but the keeping of milch cattle, chiefly buffaloes of all kinds, and they breed buffaloes.” This is the case also in Saugor, where the Ghosis are said to rank below ordinary Ahīrs because they breed and tend buffaloes instead of cows. Those of Narsinghpur, however, are generally not herdsmen at all but ordinary cultivators. In northern India, owing to the large number of Muhammadans who, other things being equal, would prefer to buy their milk and ghi from co-religionists, there would be an opening for milkmen professing this faith, and on the facts stated above it may perhaps be surmised that the Ghosi caste came into existence to fill the position. Or they may have been forcibly converted as a number of Ahīrs in Berār were forcibly converted to Islam, and still call themselves Muhammadans, though they can scarcely repeat the Kalma and only go to mosque once a year.' But when some of the Ghosis migrated into the Central Provinces, they would find, in the absence of a Musalman clientele, that their religion, instead of being an advantage, was a positive drawback to them, as Hindus would be reluctant to buy milk from a Muhammadan who might be suspected of having mixed it with water; and it would appear that they have relapsed naturally into Hinduism, all traces of their profession of Islām being lost. Even so, how
1 Punjab Census Report (1881), para. 272. 2 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art.
3 From a note by Mr. Hira Lāl.
ever, in Narsinghpur they have had to abandon their old calling and become ordinary cultivators, while in Saugor, perhaps on account of their doubtful status, they are restricted to keeping buffaloes. If this suggestion turned out to be well founded, it would be an interesting instance of a religion being changed to secure a professional advantage. But it can only be considered as a guess. A parallel to the disadvantage of being unable to water their milk without rendering it impure, which attaches to the Ghosis of the Punjāb, may be adduced in the case of the Telis of the small town of Multai in Betül District. Here the dairyman's business is for some reason in the hands of Telis (oilmen) and it is stated that from every Teli who engages in it a solemn oath is exacted that he will not put water in the milk, and any violation of this would be punished by expulsion from caste. Because if the Hindus once found that they had been rendered impure by drinking water touched by so low a caste as the Telis, they would decline any longer to purchase milk from them. It is curious that the strict rule of ceremonial purity which obtains in the case of water has apparently no application to milk.
In the Central Provinces the Ghosis have two subcastes, the Havelia or those living in open wheat country, and the Birchheya or residents of jungle tracts. In Saugor they have another set of divisions borrowed from the Ahīrs, and here the Muhammadan Ghosis are said to be a separate subcaste, though practically none were returned at the census. They have the usual system of exogamous groups with territorial names derived from those of villages. At their marriages the couple walk six times round the sacred post, reserving the seventh round, if the bride is a child, to be performed subsequently when she goes to her husband. But if she is adult, the full number may be completed, the ceremony
known as lot pata coming between the sixth and seventh rounds. In this the bride sits first on the right of her husband and then changes seats so as to be on his left; and she is thus considered to become joined to her husband as the left part of his body, which the Hindus consider the wife to be, holding the same belief as that expressed in Genesis. After this the bride takes some child of the household into her lap
and then makes it over to the bridegroom saying, 'Take care of the baby while I go and do the household work. This ceremony, which has been recorded also of the Kāpus in Chānda, is obviously designed as an auspicious omen that the marriage may be blessed with children. Like other castes of their standing, the Ghosis permit polygamy, divorce and the remarriage of widows, but the practice of taking two wives is rare. The dead are burnt, with the exception that the bodies of young children whose ears have not been pierced and of persons dying of smallpox are buried. Children usually have their ears pierced when they are three or four years old. A corpse must not be taken to the pyre at night, as it is thought that in that case it would be born blind in the next birth. The caste have bards and genealogists of their own who are known as Patia. In Damoh the Ghosis are mainly cartdrivers and cultivators and very few of them sell milk. In Nimār there are some Muhammadan Ghosis who deal in milk. Their women are not secluded and may be known by the number of little rings worn in the ear after the Muhammadan custom. Like the Ahīrs, the Ghosis are considered to be somewhat stupid. They call themselves Ghosi Thākur, as they claim to be Rājpūts, and outsiders also sometimes address them as Thākur. But in Saugor and Damoh these aspirations to Kshatriya rank are so widespread that when one person asks another his caste the usual form of the question is 'What Thākur are you?' The questioner thus politely assumes that his companion must be a Rājpūt of some sort and leaves it to him to admit or deny the soft impeachment. Another form of this question is to say "What dudh, or milk, are you?'
Golar, Gollam, Golla, Gola, Golkar.— The great shepherd caste of the Telugu country, which numbers nearly 1} million of persons in Madras and Hyderābād. In the Central Provinces there were under 3000 Golars in 1901, and they were returned principally from the Bālāghāt and Seoni Districts. But 2500 Golkars, who belonged to Chānda and were classified under Ahīrs in 1901, may, in view of the
1 This article is compiled from papers by Kanhya Lāl of the Gazetteer
Office, and Mādho Rao, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Bālāghāt.
information now available, be considered to belong to the Golar caste. Some 2000 Golars were enumerated in Berār. They are a nomadic people and frequent Bālāghāt, owing to the large area of grazing land found in the District. The caste come from the south and speak a dialect of Canarese. Hindus liken the conversation of two Golars to two cocks crowing at each other. They seem to have no subcastes except that in Chānda the Yera and Nāna, or black and white Golkars, are distinguished. Marriage is regulated by the ordinary system of exogamous groups, but no meaning can be assigned to the names of these.
In Seoni they say that their group-names are the same as those of the Gonds, and that they are related to this great tribe ; but though both are no doubt of the same Dravidian stock, there is no reason for supposing any closer affinity to exist, and the statement may be explained by the fact that Golars frequently reside in Gond villages in the forest; and in accordance with a practice commonly found among village communities the fiction of relationship has grown up. The children of brothers and sisters are allowed to marry, but not those of two sisters, the reason stated for this prohibition being that during the absence of the mother her sister nurses her children ; the children of sisters are therefore often foster brothers and sisters, and this is considered as equivalent to the real relationship. But the marriage of a brother's son to a sister's daughter is held, as among the Gonds, to be a most suitable union. The adult marriage of girls involves no stigma, and the practice of serving for a wife is sometimes followed. Weddings may not be held during the months of Shrāwan, Bhādon, Kunwār and Pūs. The marriage altar is made of dried cowdung plastered over with mud, in honour perhaps of the animal which affords the Golars their livelihood. The clothes of the bridegroom and bride are knotted together and they walk five times round the altar. In Bhandāra the marriages of Golars are celebrated both at the bride's house and the bridegroom's. The bridegroom rides on a horse, and on arrival at the marriage-shed is presented by his future mother-in-law with a cup of milk. The bride and bridegroom sit on a platform together, and
1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer (C. E. Low), p. 80.