Page images

“ The

13. Occupation and character.

knot on the right side of the head, and women on the left. The women are tattooed, but not the men.

Colonel Dalton writes of the tribal dances : 1 nuptial dances of the Kharias are very wild, and the gestures of the dancers and the songs all bear more directly than delicately on what is evidently considered the main object of the festivities, the public recognition of the consummation of the marriage. The bride and bridegroom are carried through the dances seated on the hips of two of their companions. Dancing is an amusement to which the Kharias, like all Kolarians, are passionately devoted. The only noticeable difference in their style is that in the energy, vivacity and warmth of their movements they excel all their brethren."

The Kharias say that their original occupation is to carry dhoolies or litters, and this, as well as the social rules prohibiting them from carrying those of certain castes, is in favour of the derivation of the name from kharkhari, a litter. They are also cultivators, and collect forest produce. They are a wild and backward tribe, as shown in the following extracts from an account by Mr. Ball : 2 “ The first Kharias I met with were encamped in the jungle at the foot of some hills. The hut was rudely made of a few sāl branches, its occupants being one man, an old and two young women, besides three or four children. At the time of my visit they were taking their morning meal ; and as they regarded my presence with the utmost indifference, without even turning round or ceasing from their occupations, I remained for some time watching them. They had evidently recently captured some small animal, but what it was, as they had already eaten the skin, I could not ascertain. As I looked on, the old woman distributed to the others, on plates of sāl leaves, what appeared to be the entrails of the animal, and wrapping up her own portion between a couple of leaves threw it on the fire in order to give it a very primitive cooking. With regard to their ordinary food the Kharias chiefly depend on the jungle for a supply of fruits, leaves and roots.

"The Kharias never make iron themselves, but are altogether dependent on the neighbouring bazārs for their 1 Ethnology of Bengal.

? Jungle Life in India, p. 89.




supplies. Had they at any period possessed a knowledge of the art of making iron, conservative of their customs as such races are, it is scarcely likely that they would have forgotten it. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that there was a period prior to the advent of the Hindus when iron was quite unknown to them—when, owing to the absence of cultivation in the plains, they were even more dependent on the supply of jungle food than they are at present. In those times their axes and their implements for grubbing up roots were in all probability made of stone, and their arrows had tips of the same material.

“In their persons the Kharias are very dirty, seldom if ever washing themselves. Their features are decidedly of a low character, not unlike the Bhumij, but there seemed to me to be an absence of any strongly-marked type in their faces or build, such as enables one to know a Santāl and even a Kurmi at a glance.”

Of the Kharia dialect Sir George Grierson states that 14. Lanit is closely allied to Savara, and has also some similarity to guage. Korku and Juāng:1 “Kharia grammar has all the characteristics of a language which is gradually dying out and being superseded by dialects of quite different families. The vocabulary is strongly Aryanised, and Aryan principles have pervaded the grammatical structure. Kharia is no longer a typical Munda language. It is like a palimpsest, the original writing on which can only be recognised with some difficulty.”2 An account of the Kharia dialect has been published in Mr. G. B. Banerjee's Introduction to the Kharia Language (Calcutta, 1894).

Khatik.A functional caste of Hindu mutton-butchers and vegetable sellers. They numbered nearly 13,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār in 1911, and are, as might be expected, principally returned from the Districts with a considerable urban population, Amraoti, Jubbulpore, Nāgpur and Saugor. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Khattika, a butcher or hunter. In northern

1 Linguistic Survey, vol. iv. Munda and Dravidian Languages, p. 22.

2 Ibidem, p. 129.

3 Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. Khatīk.

India Mr. Crooke states that the caste are engaged in keeping and selling pigs and retailing vegetables and fruits, and does not specially mention that they slaughter animals, though in Agra one of their subcastes is named Būchar, a corruption of the English word butcher. In the Punjab Sir D. Ibbetson says of them that, “They form a connecting link between the scavengers and the leather-workers, though they occupy a social position distinctly inferior to that of the latter. They are great keepers of pigs and poultry, which a Chamār would not keep. At the same time many of them tan and dye leather and indeed are not seldom confused with the Chamrāng. The Khatīk is said sometimes to keep sheep and goats and twist their hair into waistbands for sale." Sir H. Risley again describes the Khatiks of Bihār as a cultivating and vegetable-selling caste. S The differences in the principal occupations ascribed to the caste are thus somewhat remarkable. In the Central Provinces the Khatīks are primarily slaughterers of sheep and goats and mutton-butchers, though they also keep pigs, and some of them, who object to this trade, make their livelihood by selling vegetables. Both in the United Provinces and Punjab the Khatīks are considered to be connected with the Pāsis and probably an offshoot of that caste. In the Central Provinces they are said to be an inferior branch of the Gadaria or shepherd caste. The Gadarias state that their old sheep were formerly allowed to die. Then they appointed some poor men of the community to kill them and sell the flesh, dividing the profits with the owner, and thus the Khatīk caste arose. The Khatīks accept cooked food from the Gadarias, but the latter do not reciprocate.

The Khatīks are both Hindu and Muhammadan by religion, the latter being also known as Gai-Khatīk or cowkiller ; but these may more suitably be classed with the Kasais or Muhammadan butchers. In the Marātha Districts the Hindu Khatiks are divided into two subcastes, the Berāria or those from Berār, and the Jhādi or those of the forest country of the Wainganga valley. These will take

1 Census Report (1881), para. 502.

the Chamārs of the Central Provinces.

3 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Khatīk.

2 This statement does not apply to




food together, but do not intermarry. They have the usual set of exogamous clans or septs, many of which are of a totemistic nature, being named after plants, animals or natural objects. In Jubbulpore, owing to their habit of keeping pigs and the dirty state of their dwellings, one of their divisions is named Lendha, which signifies the excrement of swine. Here the sept is called bān, while in Wardha it is known as kul or ādnām. Marriage within the sept is forbidden. When arranging a match they consider it essential that the boy should be taller than the girl, but do not insist on his being older. A bride-price is sometimes paid, especially if the parents of the girl are poor, but the practice is considered derogatory. In such a case the father is thought to sell his daughter and he is called Bad or Bhānd. Marriages commonly take place on the fifth, seventh or ninth day after the Holi festival, or on the festival of Badsāvitri, the third day of Baisākh (light fortnight) When the bridegroom leaves the house to set out for the wedding his mother or aunt waves a pestle and churning-stick round him, puts a piece of betel-vine in his mouth and gives him her breast to suck. He then steps on a little earthen lamp-saucer placed over an egg and breaks them, and leaves the house without looking back. These rites are common to many castes, but their exact significance is obscure. The pestle and churning-stick and egg may perhaps be emblems of fertility. At the wedding the fathers of the couple split some wood into shreds, and, placing it in a little pit with cotton, set a light to it. If it is all burnt up the ceremony has been properly performed, but if any is left, the people laugh and say that the corpses of the family's ancestors were not wholly consumed on the pyre. To effect a divorce the husband and wife break a stick in the presence of the caste panchāyat or committee, and if a divorced woman one who has deserted her husband marries again, the first husband has to give a feast to the caste on the tenth day after the wedding ; this is perhaps in the nature of a funeral feast to signify that she is dead to him. The remarriage of widows is permitted. A girl who is seduced by a member of the caste, even though she may be delivered of a child, may be married


to him by the maimed rites used for widows. But she cannot take part in auspicious ceremonies, and her feet are not washed by married women like those of a proper bride. Even if a girl be seduced by an outsider, except a Hindu of the impure castes or a Muhammadan, she may be taken back into the community and her child will be recognised as a member of it. But they say that if a Khatīk keeps a woman of another caste he will be excommunicated until he has put her away, and his children will be known as Akre or bastard Khatīks, these being numerous in Berār. The caste burn or bury the dead as their means permit, and on the third day they place on the pyre some sugar, cakes, liquor, sweets and fruit for the use of the dead man's soul.

The occupation of the Khatīk is of course horrible to Hindu ideas, and the social position of the caste is very low. In some localities they are considered impure, and high-caste Hindus who do not eat meat will wash themselves if forced to touch Khatīk. Elsewhere they rank just above the impure castes, but do not enter Hindu temples. These Khatīks slaughter sheep and goats and sell the flesh, but they do not cure the skins, which are generally exported to Madras. The Hindu Khatīks often refuse to slaughter animals themselves and employ a Muhammadan to do so by the rite of halāl. The blood is sometimes sold to Gonds, who cook and eat it mixed with grain. Other members of the caste are engaged in cultivation, or retail vegetables and grain.


1. Rājpūt origin.

Khatri.--A prominent mercantile caste of the Punjab, whose members to the number of about 5000 have settled in the Central Provinces and Berār, being distributed over most Districts. The Khatris claim to be derived from the Rājpūt caste, and say that their name is a corruption of Kshatriya. At the census of 1901 Sir Herbert Risley approved of their demand on the evidence laid before him by the leading representatives of the caste. This view is assented to by Mr. Crooke and Mr. Nesfield. In Gujarāt also the caste are known as Brahma-Kshatris, and their Rājpūt origin is considered probable, while their appearance

« PreviousContinue »