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marriage-crown of date-palm leaves. He has the silver ornaments usually worn by women on his neck, as the khangwāri or silver ring, and the hamel or necklace of rupees. In order to avert the evil eye he carries a dagger or nutcracker, and a smudge of lampblack is made on his forehead to disfigure him and thus avert the evil eye, which it is thought would otherwise be too probably attracted by his exquisitely beautiful appearance in his wedding garments. The binding portion of the ceremony is the bhānwar or walking round the sacred post of the munga tree (Moringa pterygosperma). This is done six times by the couple, the bridegroom leading, and they then make a seventh turn round the bedi or sacrificial fire. If the bride is a child this seventh round is omitted at the marriage and performed at the Dusarta or going-away ceremony.

After the marriage the haldi ceremony takes place, the father of the bridegroom being dressed in women's clothes ; he then dances with the mother of the bride, while they throw turmeric mixed with water over each other. Widow-marriage is allowed, and the widow may marry anybody in the caste; the ceremony consists in the placing of bangles on her wrist, and is always performed at night, a Wednesday being usually selected. A feast must afterwards be given to the caste-fellows. Divorce is also permitted, and may be effected at the instance of either party in the presence of the caste panchāyat or committee. When a husband divorces his wife he must give a feast.

The Khangārs worship the usual Hindu deities and especially venerate Dūlha Deo, a favourite household godling in the northern Districts. Pachgara Deo is a deity who seems to have been created to commemorate the occasion when the Dāngi distributed the marriage cakes five times to the fugitive ancestress of the caste. His cult is now on the decline, but some still consider him the most important deity of all, and it is said that no Khangār will tell an untruth after having sworn by this god. Children dying unmarried and persons dying of leprosy or smallpox are buried, while others are buried or burnt according as the family can afford the more expensive rite of cremation or not. other castes a corpse must not be burnt between sunset and

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II

SOCIAL STATUS

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status.

sunrise, as it is believed that this would cause the soul to be born blind in the next birth. Nor must the corpse be wrapped in stitched clothes, as in that case the child in which it is reincarnated would be born with its arms and legs entangled. The corpse is laid on its back and some ghi, til, barley cakes and sandalwood, if available, are placed on the body. The soul of the deceased is believed to haunt the house for three days, and each night a lamp and a little water in an earthen pot are placed ready for it. When cremation takes place the ashes are collected on the third day and the burning ground is cleaned with cowdung and sprinkled with milk, mustard and salt, in order that a cow may lick over the place and the soul of the deceased may thus find more easy admission into Baikunth or heaven. Well-to-do persons take the bones of the dead to the Ganges, a few from the different parts of the body being selected and tied round the bearer's neck. Mourning is usually only observed for three days.

The Khangārs do not admit outsiders into the caste, 5. Social except children born of a Khangār father and a mother belonging to one of the highest castes. A woman going wrong with a man of another caste is finally expelled, but liaisons within the caste may be atoned for by the usual penalty of a feast. The caste eat flesh and drink liquor but abjure fowls, pork and beef. They will take food cooked without water from Banias, Sunārs and Tameras, but katchi roti only from the Brāhmans who act as their priests. Such Brāhmans are received on terms of equality by others of the caste. Khangārs bathe daily, and their women take off their outer cloth to eat food, because this is not washed every day. Food cooked with water must be consumed in the chauka or place where it is prepared, and not carried outside the house. Men of the caste often have the suffix Singh after their names in imitation of the Rājpūts. Although their social observances are thus in some respects strict, the status of the caste is low, and Brāhmans do not take water from them.

The Khangārs say that their ancestors were soldiers, but 6. Occupaat present they are generally tenants, field-labourers and tion. village watchmen. They were formerly noted thieves, and

several proverbs remain in testimony to this. “ The Khangār is strong only when he possesses a khunta (a pointed iron rod to break through the wall of a house).” “The Sunār and the Khangār only flourish together’; because the Sunār acts as a receiver of the property stolen by the Khangār. They are said to have had different ways of breaking into a house, those who got through the roof being called chhappartor, while others who dug through the side walls were known as khonpāphor. They have now, however, generally relinquished their criminal practices and settled down to live as respectable citizens.

KHARIA

LIST OF PARAGRAPHS

1. General notice.

8. Religion. 2. Legend of origin.

9. Funeral rites. 3. Subcastes.

10. Bringing back the souls of the 4. Exogamy and totemism.

dead. 5. Marriage.

II. Social customs. 6. Taboos as to food.

12. Caste rules and organisation. 7. Widow-marriage and divorce. 13. Occupation and character.

14. Language.

Kharia. A primitive Kolarian tribe, of which about 1. General 900 persons were returned from the Central Provinces in notice. 1911. They belong to the Bilāspur District and the Jashpur and Raigarh States. The Kharias are one of the most backward of the Kolarian tribes, and appear to be allied to the Mundas and Savars. Colonel Dalton says of them : " In the Chota Nāgpur estate they are found in large communities, and the Kharias belonging to these communities are far more civilised than those who live apart. Their best settlements lie near the southern Koel river, which stream they venerate as the Santāls do the Dāmudar, and into it they throw the ashes of their dead.” Chota Nāgpur is the home of the Kharias, and their total strength is over a lakh. They are found elsewhere only in Assam, where they have probably migrated to the tea-gardens.

The Kharia legend of origin resembles that of the 2. Legend Mundas, and tends to show that they are an elder branch of of origin. that tribe. They say that a child was born to a woman in the jungle, and she left it to fetch a basket in which to carry it home. On her return she saw a cobra spreading its hood

1 This article is mainly based on Dalton's and Sir H. Risley's accounts notes taken by Rai Bahādur Hira Lāl of the tribe. at Raigarh, with extracts from Colonel

over the child to protect it from the sun. On this account the child was called Nāgvansi (of the race of the cobra), and became the ancestor of the Nāgvansi Rājas of Chota Nāgpur. The Kharias say this child had an elder brother, and the two brothers set out on a journey, the younger riding a horse and the elder carrying a kāwar or banghy with their luggage. When they came to Chota Nāgpur the younger was made king, on which the elder brother also asked for a share of the inheritance. The people then put two caskets before him and asked him to choose one. One of the caskets contained silver and the other only some earth. The elder brother chose that which contained earth, and on this he was told that the fate of himself and his descendants would be to till the soil, and carry banghys as he had been doing. The Kharias say that they are descended from the elder brother, while the younger was the ancestor of the Nāgvansi Rājas, who are really Mundas. They say that they can never enter the house of the Nāgvansi Rājas because they stand in the relation of elder brother-in-law to the Rānis, who are consequently prohibited from looking on the face of a Kharia. This story is exactly like that of the Parjas in connection with the Rājas of Bastar. And as the Parjas are probably an older branch of the Gonds, who were reduced to subjection by the subsequent Rāj-Gond immigrants under the ancestors of the Bastar Rājas, so it seems a reasonable hypothesis that the Kharias stood in a similar relationship to the Mundas or Kols.

This theory derives some support from the fact that, according to Sir H. Risley, the Mundas will take daughters in marriage from the Kharias, but will not give their daughters to them, and the Kharias speak of the Mundas as their elder brethren. Mr. Hīra Lal suggests that the name Kharia is derived from kharkhari, a palanquin or litter, and that the original name Kharkharia has been contracted into Kharia. He states that in the Uriya country Oraons, who carry litters, are also called Kharias. This derivation is in accordance with the tradition of the Kharias that their first ancestor carried a banghy, and with the fact that the Kols are the best professional dhoolie-bearers.

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Kharia.

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