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SOCIAL POSITION

II

305

without water from a Guria, but katchi food from nobody. Only the lowest castes will take food from them. They drink liquor and eat fowls and rats, but not beef or pork. A man who gets his ear torn is temporarily excluded from caste, and this penalty is also imposed for the other usual offences. A woman committing adultery with a man of another caste is permanently expelled. The Kalangas are somewhat tall in stature. Their features are Dravidian, and in their dress and ornaments they follow the Chhattisgarhi style.

VOL. III

X

KALAR

LIST OF PARAGRAPHS

1. Strength of the caste.
2. Internal structure.
3. Dandsena Kalārs in Chhattīs-

garh.
4. Social customs.
5. Liquor held divine in Vedic

times.
6. Subsequent prohibition of

alcohol.
7. Spirits habitually drunk in

ancient times.

8. Drunkenness and divine in

spiration. 9. Sanctity of liquor among the

Gonds and other castes. 10. Drugs also considered divine. II. Opium and gānja. 12. Tobacco. 13. Customs in connection with

drinking:

1. Strength
of the
caste.

2. Internal structure,

Kalār, Kalwār:1—The occupational caste of distillers and sellers of fermented liquor. In 1911 the Kalārs numbered nearly 200,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār, or rather more than one per cent of the population ; so they are a somewhat important caste numerically. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Kalyapāla, a distiller of liquor.

The caste has a number of subdivisions, of which the bulk are of the territorial type, as Mālvi or the immigrants from Mālwa, Lād those coming from south Gujarāt, Daharia belonging to Dāhar or the Jubbulpore country, Jaiswār and Kanaujia coming from Oudh. The Rai Kalārs are an aristocratic subcaste, the word Rai signifying the highest or ruling group like Rāj. But the Byāhut or Married' are perhaps really the most select, and are so called because they forbid the remarriage of widows, their women being thus married once for all. In Bengal they also decline to

1 Some information for this article Tahsildār, and Sundar Lāl Richaria, has been supplied by Bābu Lāl, Excise Sub-Inspector of Police. Sub-Inspector, Mr. Adurām Chaudhri,

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distil or sell liquor. The Chauske Kalārs are said to be so called because they prohibit the marriage of persons having a common ancestor up to the fourth generation. The name of the Seohāre or Sivahāre subcaste is perhaps a corruption of Somhāre or dealers in Soma, the sacred fermented liquor of the Vedas; or it may mean the worshippers of the god Siva. The Seohāre Kalārs say that they are connected with the Agarwāla Banias, their common ancestors having been the brothers Seoru and Agru. These brothers on one occasion purchased a quantity of mahua 2 flowers ; the price afterwards falling heavily. Agru sold his stock at a discount and cut the loss; but Seoru, unwilling to suffer it, distilled liquor from his flowers and sold the liquor, thus recouping himself for his expenditure. But in consequence of his action he was degraded from the Bania caste and his descendants became Kalārs. The Jaiswār, Kanaujia and Seohāre divisions are also found in northern India, and the Byāhut both there and in Bengal. Mr. Crooke states that the caste may be an offshoot from the Bania or other Vaishya tribes; and a slight physical resemblance may perhaps be traced between Kalārs and Banias. It may be noticed also that some of the Kalārs are Jains, a religion to which scarcely any others except Banias adhere. Another hypothesis, however, is that since the Kalārs have become prosperous and wealthy they devised a story connecting them with the Bania caste in order to improve their social position.

In Chhattīsgarh the principal division of the Kalārs is 3. Dandthat of the Dandsenas or 'Stick-carriers,' and in explanation Kalars in of the name they relate the following story: “A Kalār boy Chhattiswas formerly the Mahāprasād or bosom friend of the son of garh, the Rājpūt king of Balod. But the Rāja's son fell in love with the Kalār boy's sister and entertained evil intentions towards her. Then the Kalār boy went and complained to the Rāja, who was his Phūlbāba,4 the father of his friend, saying, ' A dog is always coming into my house and defiling it, what am I to do?'. The Rāja replied that he must kill the dog. Then the boy asked whether he would be punished 1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art.

3 The headquarters of the Sanjāri 2 Bassia latifolia, the tree from tahsīl in Drūg District. whose flowers fermented liquor is 4 Phūlbāba, lit. "flower-father.'

3

made.

Kalār.

4. Social

for killing him, and the Rāja said, No. So the next day as the Rājpūt boy was entering his house to get at his sister, the Kalār boy killed him, though he was his dearest friend. Then the Rājpūts attacked the Kalārs, but they were led only by the queen, as the king had said that the Kalār boy might kill the dog. But the Rājpūts were being defeated and so the Rāja intervened, and the Kalārs then ceased fighting as the Rāja had broken his word. But they left Balod, saying that they would drink no more of its waters, which they have not done to this day.” 1 And the Kalārs are called Dandsena, because in this fight sticks were their only weapons.

The marriage customs of the caste follow the ordinary customs. Hindu ritual prevalent in the locality and are not of special

interest. Before a Kalār wedding procession starts a ceremony known as marrying the well is performed. The mother or aunt of the bridegroom goes to the well and sits in the mouth with her legs hanging down inside it and asks what the bridegroom will give her. He then goes round the well seven times, and a stick of kāns 2 grass is thrown into it at each turn. Afterwards he promises the woman some handsome present and she returns to the house. Another explanation of the story is that the woman pretends to be overcome with grief at the bridegroom's departure and threatens to throw herself into the well unless he will give her something. The well-to-do marry their daughters at an early age, but no stigma attaches to those who have to postpone the ceremony. A bride-price is not customary, but if the girl's parents are poor they sometimes receive help from those of the boy in order to carry out the wedding. Matches are usually arranged at the caste feasts, and a Brāhman officiates at the ceremony. Divorce is recognised and widows are allowed to marry again except by the Byāhut subcaste. The Kalārs worship the ordinary Hindu deities, and those who sell liquor revere an earthen jar filled with wine at the Holi festival. The educated are usually Vaishnavas by sect, and as already stated a few of them belong to the Jain religion. The social status of the Kalārs is equiva

(Rajasthän, ii. p. 441).

1 This story is only transplanted, a similar one being related by Colonel Tod in the Annals of the Bundi State.

2 Saccharum spontaneum.

II.

SOCIAL CUSTOMS

309

lent to that of the village menials, ranking below the good cultivating castes. Brāhmans do not take water from their hands. But in Mandla, where the Kalārs are important and prosperous, certain Sarwaria Brāhmans who were their household priests took water from them, thus recognising them as socially pure. This has led to a split among the local Sarwaria Brāhmans, the families who did not take water from the Kalārs refusing to intermarry with those who did so.

While the highest castes of Hindus eschew spirituous liquor the cultivating and middle classes are divided, some drinking it and others not; and to the menial and labouring classes, and especially to the forest tribes, it is the principal luxury of their lives. Unfortunately they have not learnt to indulge in moderation and nearly always drink to excess if they have the means, while the intoxicating effect of even a moderate quantity is quickly perceptible in their behaviour.

In the Central Provinces the liquor drunk is nearly all distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree (Bassia latifolia), though elsewhere it is often made from cane sugar. The smell of the fermented mahua and the refuse water lying about make the village liquor-shop an unattractive place. But the trade has greatly profited the Kalārs by the influence which it has given them over the lower classes. “ With the control of the liquor-supply in their hands," Mr. Montgomerie writes, "they also controlled the Gonds, and have played a more important part in the past history of the Chhindwara District than their numbers would indicate." I The Kalār and Teli (oil-presser) are usually about on the same standing; they are the creditors of the poorer tenants and labourers, as the Bania is of the landowners and substantial cultivators. These two of the village trades are not suited to the method of payment by annual contributions of grain, and must from an early period have been conducted by single transactions of barter. Hence the Kalār and Teli learnt to keep accounts and to appreciate the importance of the margin of profit. This knowledge and the system of dealing on credit with the exaction of interest have stood

1 Settlement Report, p. 26.

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