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II

KHANDAIT

437

from the Uriya khanda, a sword. Sir H. Risley remarks of the Khandaits : “ The caste is for the most part, if not entirely, composed of Bhuiyas, whose true affinities have been disguised under a functional name, while their customs, their religion and in some cases even their complexion and features have been modified by long contact with Hindus of relatively pure Aryan descent. The ancient Rājas of Orissa kept up large armies and partitioned the land on strictly military tenures. These armies consisted of various castes and races, the upper ranks being officered by men of good Aryan descent, while the lower ones were recruited from the low castes alike of the hills and the plains. In the social system of Orissa, the Sresta or 'best' Khandaits rank next to the Rājpūts, who have not the intimate connection with the land which has helped to raise the Khandaits to their present position.” The Khandaits are thus like the Marāthas, and the small body of Paiks in the northern Districts, a caste formed from military service; and though recruited for the most part originally from the Dravidian tribes, they have obtained a considerable rise in status owing to their occupation and the opportunity which has been afforded to many of them to become landholders. The best Khandaits now aspire to Rājpūt rank, while the bulk of them have the position of cultivators, from whom Brāhmans will take water, or a much higher one than they are entitled to by descent. In the Central Provinces the Khandaits have no subcastes, and only two gotras or clans, named after the Kachhap or tortoise and the Nāgas or cobra respectively. These divisions appear, however, to be nominal, and do not regulate marriage, as to which the only rule observed is that persons whose descent can be traced from the same parent should not marry each other. Early marriage is usual, and if a girl arrives at adolescence without a husband having been found for her, she goes through the ceremony of wedlock with an arrow. Polygamy is permitted, but a person resorting to it is looked down on and nicknamed Maipkhia or wife-eater. The essential portion of the marriage ceremony is the bandan or

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. 2 The following particulars are from Khandait. In 1911, after the transfer a paper by Mr. Kāshināth Bohidār, of Sambalpur, only 18 Khandaits Assistant Settlement Superintendent, remained in the Central Provinces. Sonpur.

kusha grass.

tying of the hands of the bride and bridegroom together with

The bridegroom must lift up the bride and walk seven times round the marriage altar carrying her. Widow-marriage and divorce are permitted in the Central Provinces, and Brāhmans are employed for religious and ceremonial purposes.

KHANGĀR

LIST OF PARAGRAPHS

1. Origin and traditions.
2. Caste subdivisions,
3. Marriage.

4. Religion.
5. Social status.
6. Occupation.

Khangār, called also Kotwal, Jemādār or Darbānia 1. Origin (gatekeeper).—A low caste of village watchmen and field- and

traditions. labourers belonging to Bundelkhand, and found in the Saugor, Damoh, Narsinghpur and Jubbulpore Districts. They numbered nearly 13,000 in 1911. The Khangārs are also numerous in the United Provinces. Hindu ingenuity has evolved various explanations of the word Khangār, such as 'khand, a pit, and 'gar,' maker, digger, because the Khangār digs holes in other people's houses for the purposes of theft. The caste is, however, almost certainly of nonAryan origin, and there is little doubt also that Bundelkhand was its original home. It may be noted that the Munda tribe have a division called Khangār with which the caste may have some connection. The Khangārs themselves relate the following story of their origin. Their ancestors were formerly the rulers of the fort and territory of Kurār in Bundelkhand, when a Bundela Rājpūt came and settled there. The Bundela had a very pretty daughter whom the Khangār Rāja demanded in marriage. The Bundela did not wish to give his daughter to the Khangār, but could not refuse the Rāja outright, so he said that he would consent if all the Khangārs would agree to adopt Bundela practices. This the Khangārs readily agreed to do, and the Bundela thereupon invited them all to a wedding feast, and having

1 Compiled principally from a paper by Kanhyā Lāl, clerk in the Gazetteer Office.

summoned his companions and plied the Khangārs with liquor until they were dead drunk, cut them all to pieces. One pregnant woman only escaped by hiding in a field of kusum or safflower,' and on this account the Khangārs still venerate the kusum and will not wear cloths dyed with saffron. She fled to the house of a Muhammadan eunuch or Fakīr, who gave her shelter and afterwards placed her with a Dāngi landowner. The Bundelas followed her up and came to the house of the Dāngi, who denied that the Khangār woman was with him. The Bundelas then asked him to make all the women in his house eat together to prove that none of them was the Khangārin, on which the Dāngi five times distributed the maihar, a sacrificial cake which is only given to relations, to all the women of the household including the Khangārin, and thus convinced the Bundelas that she was not in the house. The woman who was thus saved became the ancestor of the whole Khangār caste, and in memory of this act the Khangārs and Nadia Dāngis are still each bidden to eat the maihar cake at the weddings of the other, or at least so it is said ; while the Fakīrs, in honour of this great occasion when one of their number acted as giver rather than receiver, do not beg for alms at the wedding of a Khangār, but on the contrary bring presents. The basis of the story, that the Khangārs were the indigenous inhabitants of Bundelkhand and were driven out and slaughtered by the immigrant Bundelas, may not improbably be historically correct. It is also said that no Khangār is even now allowed to enter the fort of Kurār, and that the spirit of the murdered chief still haunts it; so that if a bed is placed there in the evening with a tooth-stick, the tooth-stick will be split in the morning as after use, and the bed will appear as if it had been slept in.?

The caste has four subdivisions, named Rai, Mirdha or Nakīb, Karbal and Dahāt. The Rai or royal Khangārs are the highest group and practise hypergamy with families of the Mirdha and Karbal groups, taking daughters from them in marriage but not giving their daughters to them. 1 Carthamus tinctorius.

slightly different version of the story is

given by Captain Luard. The Dāngis, 2 In the Ethnographic Appendices it must be remembered, are a high to the India Census Report of 1901 a caste ranking just below Rājpūts.

2. Caste subdivisions.

11

MARRIAGE

441

The Mirdhas or Nakībs are so called because they act as mace-bearers and form the bodyguard of princes. Very few, if any, are to be found in the Central Provinces. The Karbal are supposed to be especially valorous. The Dahāts have developed into a separate caste called Dahait, and are looked down on by all the other divisions as they keep pigs. The caste is also divided into numerous exogamous septs, all of which are totemistic; and the members of the sept usually show veneration to the object from which the sept takes its name. Some of the names of septs are as follows: Bachhiyā from bachhră a calf ; Barha from barāh a pig, this sept worshipping the pig; Belgotia from the bel tree; Chandan from the sandalwood tree; Chirai from chiriya a bird, this sept revering sparrows; Ghurgotia from ghora a horse (members of this sept touch the feet of a horse before mounting it and do not ride on a horse in wedding processions); Guae from the iguana; Hanumān from the monkey god; Hāthi from the elephant; Kasgotia from kānsa bell-metal (members of this sept do not use vessels of bell-metal on ceremonial occasions nor sell them); Mahiyar from maihar fried cakes (members of this sept do not use ghi at their weddings and may not sell ghi by weight though they may sell it by measure); San after san-hemp (members of this sept place pieces of hemp near their family god); Sāndgotia from sānd a bullock; Tāmbagotia from tāmba copper ; and Vishnu from the god of that name, whom the sept worship. The names of 31 septs in all are reported and there are probably others. The fact that two or three septs are named after Hindu deities may be noticed as peculiar.

The marriage of members of the same sept is prohibited 3. Marand also that of first cousins. Girls are usually married at riage. about ten years of age, the parents of the girl having to undertake the duty of finding a husband. The ceremonial in vogue in the northern Districts is followed throughout, an astrologer being consulted to ascertain that the horoscopes of the pair are favourable, and a Brāhman employed to draw up the lagan or auspicious paper fixing the date of the marriage. The bridegroom is dressed in a yellow gown and over-cloth, with trousers of red chintz, red shoes, and a

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