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pakki and drink water at their hands." Sir D. Ibbetson says of the Kahār: “He is a true village menial, receiving customary dues and performing customary service. His social standing is in one respect high ; for all will drink water at his hands. But he is still a servant, though the highest of his class." This comparatively high degree of social purity appears to have been conferred on the Kahārs and Dhimars from motives of convenience, as it would be intolerable to have a palanquin-bearer or indoor servant from
whom one could not take a drink of water. 2. The doli The proper occupation of the Kahār is that of doli or or palan litter-bearer. When carts could not travel owing to the quin.
absence of roads this was the regular mode of conveyance of
2 Ibidem, iii. pp. 119, 120.
THE DOLI OR PALANQUIN
slowly with frequent stops to change shoulders or substitute other bearers. But the Kols of Mandla still retain the art, and will do more than four miles an hour for several hours if eight men are allowed. Under native governments the privilege of riding in a palanquin was a mark of distinction; and a rule was enforced that no native could thus enter into the area of the forts in Madras and Bombay without the permission of the Governor; such permission being recorded in the order book at the gates of the fort and usually granted only to a few who were lame or otherwise incapacitated. When General Medows assumed the office of Governor of Bombay in 1788 some Parsis waited on him and begged for the removal of this restriction ; to which the Governor replied, “ So long as you do not force me to ride in this machine he may who likes it”; and so the rule was abrogated. A passage from Hobson-Jobson, however, shows that the Portuguese were much stricter in this respect : "In 1591 a proclamation of the Viceroy, Matthias d’Alboquerque, ordered : 'That no person of what quality or condition soever, shall go in a palanquy without my express licence, save they be over sixty years of age, to be first proved before the Auditor-General of Police . . . and those who contravene this shall pay a penalty of 200 cruzados, and persons of mean estate the half, the palanquys and their belongings to be forfeited, and the bois or mouços who carry such palanquys shall be condemned to His Majesty's galleys. The meaning of the last sentence appears to be that the bearers were considered as slaves, and were forfeited to the king's service as a punishment to their owner. As the unauthorised use of this conveyance was so severely punished it would appear that riding in a palanquin must have been a privilege of nobility. Similarly to ride on a horse was looked upon in something of the same light; and when a person of inferior consequence met a superior or a Government officer while riding, he had to dismount from his horse as a mark of respect until the other had passed. This last custom still obtains to some extent, though it is rapidly disappearing.
As a means of conveyance the litter would be held sacred
1 Moor, Hindu Infanticide, p. 91.
3. Female bearers.
by primitive people, and Mr. Crooke gives an instance of the
Even after pass-
At royal courts women were employed to carry the litters of the king and the royal ladies into the inner precincts of the palace, the male bearers relinquishing their charge outside. Another class of attendants at the palace peculiar to Lucknow were the female bearers. Their occupation was to carry the palanquins and various covered conveyances of the king and his ladies into the inner courts of the harein. These female bearers were also under military discipline. They had their officers, commissioned and non-commissioned. The head of them, a great masculine woman of pleasing countenance, was an especial favourite of the king. The badinage which was exchanged between them was of the freest possible character-not fit for ears polite, of course; but the extraordinary point in it was that no one hearing it or witnessing such scenes could have supposed it possible that a king and a slave stood before him as the two chief disputants.” 2 Similarly female sepoys were employed to guard the harem, dressed in ordinary uniform and regularly drilled and taught to shoot. A battalion of female troops for guarding the zenāna is still maintained in Hyderabad.*
From being a palanquin-bearer the Kahār became the regular indoor servant of Hindu households. Originally of low caste, and derived from the non-Aryan tribes, they did not object to eat the leavings of food of their masters, a relation which is naturally very convenient, if not essential, in poor Hindu houses. Sir H. Risley notes, however, that in Bengal a Kahār engaged in personal service with a Brāhman,
4. Indoor servants.
1 Tribes and Castes of the N.W.P., art. Kahār.
2 Private Life of an Eastern King.
3 Ibidem, pp. 200, 202.
Rājpūt, Bābhan, Kāyasth or Agarwāl, will only eat his master's leavings so long as he is himself unmarried. It seems that the marriage feast may be considered as the sacrificial meal conferring full membership of the caste, after which the rules against taking food from other castes must be strictly observed. Slaves were commonly employed as indoor servants, and hence the term Kahār came to be almost synonymous with a slave. "In the eighteenth century the title Kahār was at Patna the distinctive appellation of a Hindu slave, as Maulazādah was of a Muhammadan, and the tradition in 1774 was that the Kahār slavery took its rise when the Muhammadans first invaded northern India.” 2
As the Kahār was the common indoor servant in Hindu houses so apparently he came to be employed in the same capacity by the English. But he was of too high a caste to serve the food of a European, which would have involved touching the cooked flesh of the cow, and thus lost him his comparatively good status and social purity among the Hindus. Hence arose the anomaly of a body servant who would not touch his master's food, and confined himself to the duties of a valet; while the name of bearer given to this servant indicates clearly that he is the successor of the old-time Kahār or palanquin-bearer. The Uriya bearers of Bengal were well known as excellent servants and most faithful ; but in time the inconvenience of their refusal to wait at table has led to their being replaced by low-caste Madrasis and by Muhammadans. The word 'boy' as applied to Indian servants is no doubt of English origin, as it is also used in China and the West Indies; but the South Indian term boyi or Hindi bhoi for a palanquin-bearer also appears to have been corrupted into boy and to have made this designation more common. The following instances of the use of the word 'boy' from Hobson-Johnson may be quoted in conclusion : “The real Indian ladies lie on a sofa, and if they drop their handkerchief they just lower their voices and say ' Boy,' in a very gentle tone” (Letters from Madras in 1826). 'Yes, Sahib, I Christian Boy. Plenty poojah do. Sunday time never no work do' (Trevelyan, The Dawk Bungalow,
1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Kahăr.
2 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, ibidem,
3 S.v. Boy.
in 1866). The Hindu term Bhoi or bearer is now commonly applied to the Gonds, and is considered by them as an honorific name or title. The hypothesis thus appears to be confirmed that the Kahār caste of palanquin-bearers was constituted from the non-Aryan tribes, who were practically in the position of slaves to the Hindus, as were the Chamārs and Mahārs, the village drudges and labourers. But when the palanquin-bearer developed into an indoor servant, his social status was gradually raised from motives of convenience, until he grew to be considered as ceremonially pure, and able to give his master water and prepare food for cooking. Thus the Kahārs or Dhīmars came to rank considerably above the primitive tribes from whom they took their origin, their ceremonial purity being equal to that of the Hindu cultivating castes, while the degrading status of slavery which had at first attached to them gradually fell into abeyance. And thus one can understand why the Gonds should consider the name of Bhoi or bearer as a designation of honour.
1. Origin and traditions.
Kaikāri, Kaikādi (also called Bargandi by outsiders). — A disreputable wandering tribe, whose ostensible profession is to make baskets. They are found in Nimār and the Marātha Districts, and number some 2000 persons in the Central Provinces. The Kaikāris here, as elsewhere, claim to have come from Telingāna or the Deccan, but there is no caste of this name in the Madras Presidency. They may not improbably be the caste there known as Korva or Yerūkala, whose occupations are similar. Mr. Kitts? has stated that the Kaikāris are known as Korāvars in Arcot and as Koryas in the Carnatic. The Kaikāris speak a gipsy language, which according to the specimen given by Hislop contains Tamil and Telugu words. One derivation of Kaikāri is from the Tamil kai, hand, and kude, basket, and if this is correct it is in favour of their identification with the Korvas, who always carry their tattooing and other implements in a basket in the hand.4 The Kaikāris of the
1 This article is partly compiled from papers by Mr. G. Falconer Taylor, Forest Divisional Officer, and by Kanhyā Lāl, Clerk in the Gazetteer office.
2 Berār Census Report (1881), p. 141.
3 Hislop papers. Vocabulary.