« PreviousContinue »
Io. Magic and witchcraft.
animal passes by and winds it up over a branch, and many cattle have lost their tails in this way. Every tank in which the lotus grows is tenanted by Purainha, the godling who tends this plant. The sword, the gun, the axe, the spear have each a special deity, and, in fact, in the Bangawān, the tract where the wilder Kawars dwell, it is believed that every article of household furniture is the residence of a spirit, and that if any one steals or injures it without the owner's leave, the spirit will bring some misfortune on him in revenge. Theft is said to be unknown among them, partly on this account and partly, perhaps, because no one has much property worth stealing. Instances of deified human beings are Kolin Sati, a Kol concubine of a zamindår of Pendra who died during pregnancy, and Sārangarhni, a Ghasia woman who was believed to have been the mistress of a Rāja of Sārangarh and was murdered. Both are now Kawar deities. Thākur Deo is the deity of agriculture, and is worshipped by the whole village in concert at the commencement of the rains. Rice is brought by each cultivator and offered to the god, a little being sown at his shrine and the remainder taken home and mixed with the seed-grain to give it fertility. Two bachelors carry water round the village and sprinkle it on the brass plates of the cultivators or the roofs of their houses in imitation of rain. The belief in witchcraft is universal and every village has its tonhi or witch, to whom epidemic diseases, sudden illnesses and other calamities are ascribed. The witch is nearly always some unpopular old woman, and several instances are known of the murder of these unfortunate creatures, after their crimes had been proclaimed by the Baiga or medicine-man. In the famine of 190o an old woman from another village came and joined one of the famine-kitchens. A few days afterwards the village watchman got ill, and when the Baiga was called in he said the old woman was a witch who had vowed the lives of twenty children to her goddess, and had joined the kitchen to kill them. The woman was threatened with a beating with castor-oil plants if she did not leave the village, and as the kitchen officer refused to supply her with food, she had to go. The Baiga takes action to stop and keep off epidemics
by the methods common in Chhattisgarh villages. When a
12. Occupation and social rules.
tional occupation, but the bulk of them are now cultivators and labourers. Many of them are farmers of villages in the zamindāris. Rautias weave ropes and make sleeping-cots, but the other Kawars consider such work to be degrading. They have the ordinary Hindu rules of inheritance, but a son claiming partition in his father's lifetime is entitled to two bullocks and nothing more. When the property is divided on the death of the father, the eldest son receives an allowance known as jithat over and above his share, this being a common custom in the Chhattisgarh country where the Kawars reside. The tribe do not admit outsiders with the exception of Kaurai Răwat girls married to Kawars. They have a tribal panchayat or committee, the head of which is known as Pardhān. Its proceedings are generally very deliberate, and this has led to the saying: “The Ganda's panchayat always ends in a quarrel; the Gond's panchayat cares only for the feast; and the Kawar's Panchâyat takes a year to make up its mind.” But when the Kawars have decided, they act with vigour. They require numerous goats as fines for the caste feast, and these, with fried urad, form the regular provision. Liquor, however, is only sparingly consumed. Temporary exclusion from caste is imposed for the usual offences, which include going to jail, getting the ears split, or getting maggots in a wound. The last is the most serious offence, and when the culprit is readmitted to social intercourse the Dhobi (washerman) is employed to eat with him first from five different plates, thus taking upon himself any risk of contagion from the impurity which may still remain. The Kawar eats flesh, fowls and pork, but abjures beef, crocodiles, monkeys and reptiles. From birds he selects the parrot, dove, pigeon, quail and partridge as fit for food. He will not eat meat sold in market because he considers it halāli or killed in the Muhammadan fashion, and therefore impure. He also refuses a particular species of fish called rechha, which is black and fleshy and has been nicknamed ‘The Teli's bullock. The higher subtribes have now given up eating pork and the Tanwars abstain from fowls also. The Kawars will take food only from a Gond or a Kaurai Răwat, and Gonds will also take food from them. In appearance and
11 OCCUPAT/OAV AAVID SOCIAL RULES 403
manners they greatly resemble the Gonds, from whom they are hardly distinguished by the Hindus. Dalton' described them as “A dark, coarse-featured, broad-nosed, wide-mouthed and thick-lipped race, decidedly ugly, but taller and better set up than most of the other tribes. I have also found them a clean, well-to-do, industrious people, living in comfortable, carefully-constructed and healthily-kept houses and well dressed.” Of their method of dancing Ball” writes as follows: “In the evening some of the villagers–Kaurs they were I believe—entertained us with a dance, which was very different from anything seen among the Santāls or Kols. A number of men performed a kind of ladies' chain, striking together as they passed one another's pronged sticks which they carried in their hands. By foot, hand and voice the time given by a tom-tom is most admirably kept.”
* Ethnology, pp. 136, 137. * /ungle Life in India, pp. 31.5, 316.
LIST OF PARAGRAPHS
1 General notice and legend of 7. Subcastes.
3. The rise of the Kayasths under 9. Marriage customs.
foreign rulers. Io. Marriage songs.
Kāyasth, Kaith, Läla.—The caste of writers and village accountants. The Kāyasths numbered 34,000 persons in 1911 and were found over the whole Province, but they are most numerous in the Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore and Narsinghpur Districts. In the Marātha country their place is to some extent taken by the Prabhus, the Marātha writer caste, and also by the Vidürs. No probable derivation of the name Kāyasth appears to have been suggested. The earliest reference to Kāyasths appears in an inscription in Mälwa dated A.D. 738–739. The inscription is of a Maurya king, and the term Kāyasth is used there as a proper noun to mean a writer. Another dated A.D. 987 is written by a Kāyasth named Kānchana. An inscription on the Delhi Siwālik pillar dated A.D. I 164 is stated to have been written by a Kāyasth named Sispati, the son of Māhava, by the king's command. The inscription adds that the Kāyasth was of Gauda (Bengal) descent, and the term Kāyasth is
I. General notice and legend of origin.
* This article is based partly on Assistant Commissioner, Saugor, and papers by Münshi Kanhya Lāl of the Mr. J. N. Sil, Pleader, Seoni. Gazetteer office, Mr. Sundar Lāl, Extra