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worship their implements of agriculture on the last day of Chait (April), applying turmeric and vermilion to them. In May they collect the stumps of juāri from a field, and, burning them to ashes, make an offering of the same articles. They have a curious ceremony for protecting the village from disease.
All the men go outside the village and on the boundary at the four points pointing north-east, northwest and opposite place four stones known as bandi, burying a fowl beneath each stone. The Nāik or headman then sacrifices a goat and other fowls to Sīta, and placing four men by the stones, proceeds to sprinkle salt all along the boundary line, except across one path on which he lays his stick. He then calls out to the men that the village is closed and that they must enter it only by that path. This rule remains in force throughout the year, and if any stranger enters the village by any other than the appointed route, they consider that he should pay the expenses of drawing the boundary circuit again. But the rule is often applied only to carts, and relaxed in favour of travellers on foot. The line marked with salt is called bandesh, and it is believed that wild animals cannot cross it, while they are prevented from coming into the village along the only open road by the stick of the Nāik. Diseases also cannot cross the line. Women during their monthly impurity are made to live in a hut in the fields outside the boundary line. The open road does not lead across the village, but terminates at the chauri or meetinghouse.
Though the Kolāms retain some very primitive customs, those of Yeotmāl, as already stated, are hardly distinguishable from the Kunbis
the Kunbis or Hindu cultivators. Colonel Mackenzie notes that they are held to be lower than the Gonds, because a Kolām will take food from a Gond, but the latter will not return the compliment. They will eat the flesh of rats, tigers, snakes, squirrels and of almost any animals except dogs, donkeys and jackals. In another respect they are on a level with the lowest aborigines, as some of them do not use water to clean their bodies after performing natural functions, but only leaves.
Yet they are not considered as impure by the Hindus, are permitted
to enter Hindu temples, and hold themselves to be defiled by the touch of a Mahār or a Māng.
a Māng. A Kolām is forbidden to beg by the rules of the tribe, and he looks down on the Mahārs and Māngs, who are often professional beggars. In Wardha, too, the Kolāms will not collect deadwood for sale as fuel.
Here their houses contain only a single room with a 6. Miscelsmall store-house, and all the family sleep together without laneous
customs. privacy. Consequently there is no opportunity at night for conjugal intimacy, and husband and wife seek the solitude of the forest in the daytime. Colonel Mackenzie states : " All Kolāms are great smokers, but they are not allowed to smoke in their own houses, but only at the chauri or meeting-house, where pipes and fire are kept; and this rule is enforced so that the Nāik or headman can keep an eye on all male members of the community ; if these do not appear at least once a day, satisfactory reasons are demanded for their absence, and from this rule only the sick and infirm are exempt. The Kolāms have two musical instruments: the tāpate or drum, and the wāss or Alute, the name of which is probably derived from the Sanskrit wāunsh, meaning bamboo (of which the instrument is made). In old times all Kolāms could read and write, and it is probably only poverty which prevents them from having all their children educated now.” This last statement must, however, be accepted with reserve in the absence of intimation of the evidence on which it is based. At present they are, as a rule, quite illiterate. The Nāik or headman formerly had considerable powers, being entrusted with the distribution of land among the cultivators, and exercising civil and criminal jurisdiction with the assistance of the panchayat. His own land was ploughed for him by the villagers. Even now they seldom enter a court of justice and their disputes are settled by the panchāyat. A strong feeling of clannishness exists among them, and the village unites to avenge an injury done to one of its members. Excommunication from caste is imposed for the usual offences, and the ceremony of readmission is as follows: The offender dips his head in a river or stream and the village barber shaves his head and
moustaches. He then sits beside a lighted pile of wood, being held to be purified by the proximity of the holy element, and afterwards bathes, and drinks some water into which the caste-fellows have dipped their toes. A woman has to undergo the same ceremony and have her head shaved If an unmarried girl becomes with child by a member of the caste, she is married to him by the simple rite used for widow-remarriage. A Kolām must not swear by a dog or cat, and is expelled from caste for killing either of these two animals. A Kolām does not visit a friend's house in the evening, as he would be suspected in such an event of having designs upon his wife's virtue. The tribe are cultivators and labourers. They have not a very good reputation for honesty, and are said to be addicted to stealing the ripe cotton from the bolls. They never wear shoes, and the soles of their feet become nearly invulnerable and capable of traversing the most thorny ground without injury. They have an excellent knowledge of the medicinal and other uses of all trees, shrubs and herbs.
[Bibliography: Mr. Kitts’ Berār Census Report (1881); Major Gunthorpe's
Criminal Tribes of Bombay, Berar and the Central Provinces (Times Press,
LIST OF PARAGRAPHS
1. Introductory notice.
4. Funeral rites.
Kolhāti, Dandewāla, Bānsberia, Kabūtari.—The name 1. Intro
ductory by which the Beria caste of Northern and Central India is
notice. known in Berār. The Berias themselves, in Central India at any rate, are a branch of the Sānsias, a vagrant and criminal class, whose traditional occupation was that of acting as bards and genealogists to the Jāt caste. The main difference between the Sānsias and Berias is that the latter prostitute their women, or those of them who are not married.? The Kolhātis of Berār, who also do this, appear to be a branch of the Beria caste who have settled in the Deccan and now have customs differing in several respects from those of the parent caste.
It is therefore desirable to reproduce briefly the main heads of the information given about them in the works cited above. In 1901 the Kolhātis numbered 1300 persons in Berār.
In the Central Provinces they were not shown separately, but were included with the Nats. But in 1891 a total of 250 Kolhātis were returned. The word Kolhāti is said to be derived from the long bamboo poles which they use for jumping, known as Kolhāt. The other names, Dandewāla and Bānsberia, meaning those who perform feats with a stick or bamboo, also have reference to this
1 Based partly on papers by Mr. Gazetteer Office. Bihāri Lāl, Naib-Tahsīldār, Bilaspur, 2 For further information the articles and Mr. Adurām Chaudhri of the on Sānsia and Beria may be consulted.
pole. Kabūtari as applied to the women signifies that their dancing resembles the flight of a pigeon (kabūtar).
They say that once on a time a demon had captured some Kunbis and shut them up in a cavern. But the Kunbis besought Mahādeo to save them, and he created a man and a woman who danced before the demon and so pleased him that he promised them whatever they should ask; and they thus obtained the freedom of the Kunbis. The man and woman were named Kabūtar and Kabūtari on account of their skilful dancing, and were the ancestors of the Kolhātis. The Kolhātis of the Central Provinces appear to differ in several respects from those of Berār, with whom the following article
is mainly concerned. 2. Internal The caste has two main divisions in Berār, the Dukar structure,
Kolhātis and the Khām or Pāl Kolhātis. The name of the
In Bilāspur they are said to have four subcastes, the Marethi or those coming from the Marātha country, the Bānsberia or pole-jumpers, the Suarwāle or hunters of the wild pig, and the Muhammadan Kolhātis, none of whom
1 Andropagon Schoenanthus.