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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 Dangis 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.
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 ghī 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
marriage-crown of date-palm leaves. He has the silver ornaments usually worn by women on his neck, as the khangwāri or silver ring, and the hamel or necklace of rupees. In order to avert the evil eye he carries a dagger or nutcracker, and a smudge of lampblack is made on his forehead to disfigure him and thus avert the evil eye, which it is thought would otherwise be too probably attracted by his exquisitely beautiful appearance in his wedding garments. The binding portion of the ceremony is the bhānwar or walking round the sacred post of the munga tree (Moringa pterygosperma). This is done six times by the couple, the bridegroom leading, and they then make a seventh turn round the bedi or sacrificial fire. If the bride is a child this seventh round is omitted at the marriage and performed at the Dusarta or going-away ceremony. After the marriage the haldi ceremony takes place, the father of the bridegroom being dressed in women's clothes; he then dances with the mother of the bride, while they throw turmeric mixed with water over each other. Widow-marriage is allowed, and the widow may marry anybody in the caste; the ceremony consists in the placing of bangles on her wrist, and is always performed at night, a Wednesday being usually selected. A feast must afterwards be given to the caste-fellows. Divorce is also permitted, and may be effected at the instance of either party in the presence of the caste panchāyat or committee. When a husband divorces his wife he must give a feast.
The Khangārs worship the usual Hindu deities and especially venerate Dūlha Deo, a favourite household godling in the northern Districts. Pachgara Deo is a deity who seems to have been created to commemorate the occasion when the Dāngi distributed the marriage cakes five times to the fugitive ancestress of the caste. His cult is now on the decline, but some still consider him the most important deity of all, and it is said that no Khangār will tell an untruth after having sworn by this god. Children dying unmarried and persons dying of leprosy or smallpox are buried, while others are buried or burnt according as the family can afford the more expensive rite of cremation or not. other castes a corpse must not be burnt between sunset and
sunrise, as it is believed that this would cause the soul to be born blind in the next birth. Nor must the corpse be wrapped in stitched clothes, as in that case the child in which it is reincarnated would be born with its arms and legs entangled. The corpse is laid on its back and some ghi, til, barley cakes and sandalwood, if available, are placed on the body. The soul of the deceased is believed to haunt the house for three days, and each night a lamp and a little water in an earthen pot are placed ready for it. When cremation takes place the ashes are collected on the third day and the burning ground is cleaned with cowdung and sprinkled with milk, mustard and salt, in order that a cow may lick over the place and the soul of the deceased may thus find more easy admission into Baikunth or heaven. Well-to-do persons take the bones of the dead to the Ganges, a few from the different parts of the body being selected and tied round the bearer's neck. Mourning is usually only observed for three days.
The Khangārs do not admit outsiders into the caste, 5. Social except children born of a Khangār father and a mother belonging to one of the highest castes. A woman going wrong with a man of another caste is finally expelled, but liaisons within the caste may be atoned for by the usual penalty of a feast. The caste eat flesh and drink liquor but abjure fowls, pork and beef. They will take food cooked without water from Banias, Sunārs and Tameras, but katchi roti only from the Brāhmans who act as their priests. Such Brāhmans are received on terms of equality by others of the caste. Khangārs bathe daily, and their women take off their outer cloth to eat food, because this is not washed every day. Food cooked with water must be consumed in the chauka or place where it is prepared, and not carried outside the house. Men of the caste often have the suffix Singh after their names in imitation of the Rājpūts. Although their social observances are thus in some respects strict, the status of the caste is low, and Brāhmans do not take water from them.
The Khangārs say that their ancestors were soldiers, but 6. Occupaat present they are generally tenants, field-labourers and village watchmen. They were formerly noted thieves, and
several proverbs remain in testimony to this. “The Khangār is strong only when he possesses a khunta (a pointed iron rod to break through the wall of a house).” The Sunār and the Khangār only flourish together'; because the Sunār acts as a receiver of the property stolen by the Khangār. They are said to have had different ways of breaking into a house, those who got through the roof being called chhappartor, while others who dug through the side walls were known as khonpāphor. They have now, however, generally relinquished their criminal practices and settled down to live as respectable citizens.