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allowed to join in the praises of Fátima and her son.” And a current saying is: “A woman who sings in the house as she goes about her work and one who is fond of music can never be a Sati”; a term which is here used as an equivalent for a virtuous woman. Buchanan wrote a hundred years ago, and things have no doubt improved since his time, but this feeling appears to be principally responsible for much of the prejudice against female education, which has hitherto been so strong even among the literate classes of Hindus; and is only now beginning to break down as the highly cultivated young men of the present day have learned to appreciate and demand a greater measure of intelligence from their wives. Among the better class of Kasbis a certain caste feeling and organisation exists. When a girl attains adolescence her mother makes a bargain with some rich man to be her first consort. Oil and turmeric are rubbed on her body for five days as in the case of a bride. A feast is given to the caste and the girl is married to a dagger, walking seven / times round the sacred post with it. Her human consort then marks her forehead with vermilion and covers her head with her head-cloth seven times. In the evening she goes to live with him for as long as he likes to maintain her, and afterwards takes up the practice of her profession. In this case it is necessary that the man should be an outsider and not a member of the Kasbi caste, because the quasi-marriage is the formal commencement on the part of the woman of her hereditary trade. As already seen, the feeling of shame and degradation attaching to this profession in Europe appears to be somewhat attenuated in India, and it is counterbalanced by that acquiescence in and attachment to the caste-calling which is the principal feature of Hindu society. And no doubt the life of the dancing-girl has, at any rate during youth, its attractions as compared with that of a respectable married woman. Tavernier tells the story" of a Shāh of Persia who, desiring to punish a dancing-girl for having boxed the ears of one of her companions within his hearing (it being clearly not the effect of the operation on the patient which annoyed his majesty) made an order that
5. Caste CuStonS.
1 Persian Travels, book iii, chap. xvii.
she should be married. And a more curious instance still
Staff Officer in India, written by Sir 5th February 1910.
6. First pregnancy.
7. Different classes of Women.
known as Deogarhni, and are supposed to have come from Deogarh in Chhindwāra, formerly the headquarters of a Gond dynasty. The Sărangias or fiddlers are now a separate caste. In the northern Districts the dancing-girls are usually women of the Beria caste and are known as Berni. After the spring harvest the village headman hires one or two of these girls, who dance and do acrobatic feats by torchlight. They will continue all through the night, stimulated by draughts of liquor, and it is said that one woman will drink two or three bottles of the country spirit. The young men of the village beat the drum to accompany her dancing, and take turns to see how long they can go on doing so without breaking down. After the performance each cultivator gives the woman one or two pice (farthings) and the headman gives her a rupee. Such a celebration is known as Rai, and is distinctive of Bundelkhand. In Bengal this class of women often become religious mendicants and join the Vaishnava or Bairägi community, as stated by Sir H. Risley: * “The mendicant members of the Vaishnava community are of evil repute, their ranks being recruited by those who have no relatives, by widows, by individuals too idle or depraved to lead a steady working life, and by prostitutes. Vaishnavi, or Baishtabi according to the vulgar pronunciation, has come to mean a courtesan. A few undoubtedly join from sincere and worthy motives, but their numbers are too small to produce any appreciable effect on the behaviour of their comrades. The habits of these beggars are very unsettled. They wander from village to village and from one akhāra (monastery) to another, fleecing the frugal and industrious peasantry on the plea of religion, and singing songs in praise of Hari beneath the village tree or shrine. Members of both sexes smoke Indian hemp (gánya), and although living as brothers and sisters are notorious for licentiousness. There is every reason for suspecting that infanticide is common, as children are never seen. In the course of their wanderings they entice away unmarried girls, widows, and even married women on the pretence of visiting Sri Kshetra (Jagannāth)
1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. refers only to the lowest section of Vaishnava. The notice, as stated, Bairägis.
Brindăban or Benares, for which reason they are shunned by all respectable natives, who gladly give charity to be rid of them.”, In large towns prostitutes belong to all castes. An old list obtained by Rai Bahādur Hira Lāl of registered prostitutes in Jubbulpore showed the following numbers of different castes: Barai six, Dhimar four, and Nai, Khangār, Kächhi, Gond, Teli, Brähman, Rājpüt and Bania three each. Each woman usually has one or two girls in training if she can obtain them, with a view to support herself by their earnings in the same method of livelihood when her own attractions have waned. Fatherless and orphan girls run a risk of falling into this mode of life, partly because their marriages cannot conveniently be arranged, and also from the absence of strict paternal supervision. For it is to be feared that a girl who is allowed to run about at her will in the bazār has little chance of retaining her chastity even up to the period of her arrival at adolescence. This is no doubt one of the principal considerations in favour of early marriage. The caste-people often subscribe for the marriage of a girl who is left without support, and it is said that in former times an unmarried orphan girl might go and sit dharma, or starving herself, at the king's gate until he arranged for her wedding. Formerly the practice of obtaining young girls was carried on to a much greater extent than at present. Malcolm remarks: “Slavery in Målwa and the adjoining provinces is chiefly limited to females; but there is perhaps no part of India where there are so many slaves of this sex. The dancing - girls are all purchased, when young, by the Nakins or heads of the different sets or companies, who often lay out large sums in these speculations, obtaining advances from the bankers on interest like other classes.” But the attractions of the profession and the numbers of those who engage in it have now largely declined. The better class of Kasbi women, when seen in public, are conspicuous by their wealth of jewellery and their shoes of patent leather or other good material. Women of other castes do not commonly wear shoes in the streets. The * Memoir of Central India.
8. Dancing and singing.
Kasbís are always well and completely clothed, and it has been noticed elsewhere that the Indian courtesan is more modestly dressed than most women. No doubt in this matter she knows her business. A well-to-do dancing-girl has a dress of coloured muslin or gauze trimmed with tinsel lace, with a short waist, long straight sleeves, and skirts which reach a little below the knee, a shawl falling from the head over the shoulders and wrapped round the body, and a pair of tight satin trousers, reaching to the ankles. The feet are bare, and strings of small bells are tied round them. They usually dance and sing to the accompaniment of the fabla, sārangi and majira. The tabla or drum is made of two half-bowls—one brass or clay for the bass, and the other of wood for the treble. They are covered with goat-skin and played together. The sarangi is a fiddle. The majira (cymbals) consist of two metallic cups slung together and used for beating time. Before a dancing-girl begins her performance she often invokes the aid of Sāraswati, the goddess of music. She then pulls her ear as a sign of remembrance of Tänsen, India's greatest musician, and a
confession to his spirit of the imperfection of her own sense of music. The movements of the feet are accompanied by a continual opening and closing of henna-dyed hands; and at intervals the girl kneels at the feet of one or other of the audience. On the festival of Basant Panchmi or the commencement of spring these girls worship their dancing-dress and musical instruments with offerings of rice, flowers and a COCOanut.
Katia, Katwa, Katua. — An occupational caste of cotton - spinners and village watchmen belonging to the Satpura Districts and the Nerbudda valley. In 1911 they numbered 41,000 persons and were returned mainly from the Hoshangābād, Seoni and Chhindwära Districts. The caste is almost confined to the Central Provinces. The name is derived from the Hindi kātna, to spin thread, and the Katias are an occupational group probably recruited from the Mahārs and Koris. They have a tradition, Mr. Crooke states," that they were originally Bais Rājpüts, whose
I. General notice.
1 Tribes and Castes of the AW.-W. P., art. Katwa.