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9. Funeral rites.
Io. Bringing back the souls of the dead.
The tribe bury the dead, placing the head to the north. When the corpse is taken out of the house two grains of rice are thrown to each point of the compass to invite the ancestors of the family to the funeral. And on the way, where two roads meet, the corpse is set down and a little rice and "cotton-seed sprinkled on the ground as a guidingmark to the ancestors. Before burial the corpse is anointed with turmeric and oil, and carried seven times round the grave, probably as a symbol of marriage to it. Each relative puts a piece of cloth in the grave, and the dead man's cooking and drinking-pots, his axe, stick, pipe and other belongings, and a basketful of rice are buried with him. The mourners set three plants of orai or khas-khas grass on the grave over the dead man's head, middle and feet, and then they go to a tank and bathe, chewing the roots of this grass. It would appear that the oral grass may be an agent of purification or means of severance from the dead man's ghost, like the leaves of the sacred nim tree.
On the third day they bathe and are shaved, and catch
, a fish, which is divided among all the relatives, however
small it may be, and eaten raw with salt, turmeric and garlic. It seems likely that this fish may be considered to represent the dead man's spirit, and is eaten in order to avoid being haunted by his ghost or for some other object, and the fish may be eaten as a substitute for the dead man's body, itself consumed in former times. On the tenth night after the death the soul is called back, a lighted wick being set in a vessel at the cross-roads where the rice and cotton had been sprinkled. They call on the dead man, and when the flame of the lamp wavers in the wind they break the vessel holding the lamp, saying that his soul has come and joined them, and go home. On the following Dasahra festival, when ancestors are worshipped, the spirit of the deceased is mingled with the ancestors. A cock and hen are fed and let loose, and the headman of the sept calls on the soul to come and join the ancestors and give his protection to the family. When a
• man is killed by a tiger the remains are collected and burnt
on the spot. A goat is sacrificed and eaten by the caste, and thereafter, when a wedding takes place in that man's family,
* Melia indica.
a goat is offered to his spirit. The Kharias believe that the spirits of the dead are reborn in children, and on the Bärhi day, a month after the child's birth, they ascertain which ancestor has been reborn by the usual method of divination with grains of rice in water. The strict taboos practised by the tribe as regards food have already been mentioned. Men will take food from one another, but not women. Men will also accept food cooked without water from Brähmans, Räjputs and Bhuiyas. The Kharias will eat almost any kind of flesh, including crocodile, rat, pig, tiger and bear; they have now generally abandoned beef in deference to Hindu prejudice, and also monkeys, though they formerly ate these animals, the Topno sept especially being noted on this account. Temporary expulsion from caste is imposed for the usual offences, and also for getting shaved or having clothes washed by a barber or washerman other than a member of the caste. This rule seems to arise either from an ultra-strict desire for social purity or from a hostile reaction against the Hindus for the low estimation in which the Kharias are held. Again it is a caste offence to carry the palanquin of a Kāyasth, a Muhammadan, a Koshta (weaver) or a Nai (barber), or to carry the tāzias or representations of the tomb of Husain in the Muharram procession. The caste have a headman who has the title of Pardhān, with an assistant called Negi and a messenger who is known as Gânda. The headman must always be of the Samer sept, the Negi of the Suren sept, and the Gânda of the Bartha or messenger sept. The headman's duty is to give water for the first time to caste offenders on readmission, the Negi must make all arrangements for the caste feast, and the Gânda goes and summons the tribesmen. In addition to the penalty feast a cash fine is imposed on an erring member; of this rather more than half is given to the assembled tribesmen for the purpose of buying murra or fried grain on their way home on the following morning. The remaining sum is divided between the three officers, the Pardhān and Negi getting two shares each and the Gânda one share. But the division is only approximate, as the Kharias are unable to do the necessary calculation for an odd number of rupees. The men have their hair tied in a knot on the right side of the head, and women on the left. The women are tattooed, but not the men. Colonel Dalton writes of the tribal dances: “The nuptial dances of the Kharias are very wild, and the gestures of the dancers and the songs all bear more directly than delicately on what is evidently considered the main object of the festivities, the public recognition of the consummation of the marriage. The bride and bridegroom are carried through the dances seated on the hips of two of their companions. Dancing is an amusement to which the Kharias, like all Kolarians, are passionately devoted. The only noticeable difference in their style is that in the energy, vivacity and warmth of their movements they excel all their brethren.” The Kharias say that their original occupation is to carry dhoolies or litters, and this, as well as the social rules prohibiting them from carrying those of certain castes, is in favour of the derivation of the name from kharkhari, a litter. They are also cultivators, and collect forest produce. They are a wild and backward tribe, as shown in the following extracts from an account by Mr. Ball:” “The first Kharias I met with were encamped in the jungle at the foot of some hills. The hut was rudely made of a few sål branches, its occupants being one man, an old and two young women, besides three or four children. At the time of my visit they were taking their morning meal; and as they regarded my presence with the utmost indifference, without even turning round or ceasing from their occupations, I remained for some time watching them. They had evidently recently captured some small animal, but what it was, as they had already eaten the skin, I could not ascertain. As I looked on, the old woman distributed to the others, on plates of sál leaves, what appeared to be the entrails of the animal, and wrapping up her own portion between a couple of leaves threw it on the fire in order to give it a very primitive cooking. With regard to their ordinary food the Kharias chiefly depend on the jungle for a supply of fruits, leaves and roots. “The Kharias never make iron themselves, but are altogether dependent on the neighbouring bazārs for their Ethnology of Bengal. * /ungle Life in India, p. 89.
II. Social customs.
12. Caste rules and organisation.
supplies. Had they at any period possessed a knowledge
Khatik.—A functional caste of Hindu mutton-butchers and vegetable sellers. They numbered nearly 13,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berär in 19 II, and are, as might be expected, principally returned from the Districts with a considerable urban population, Amraoti, Jubbulpore, Nägpur and Saugor. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Khattika," a butcher or hunter. In northern
Linguistic Survey, vol. iv. Munda 3 Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes, and Dravidian Languages, p. 22. art. Khatik. * Ibidem, p. 129.
India Mr. Crooke states that the caste are engaged in keeping and selling pigs and retailing vegetables and fruits, and does not specially mention that they slaughter animals, though in Agra one of their subcastes is named Büchar, a corruption of the English word butcher. In the Punjab Sir D. Ibbetson" says of them that, “They form a connecting link between the scavengers and the leather-workers, though they occupy a social position distinctly inferior to that of the latter. They are great keepers of pigs and poultry, which a Chamär would not keep.” At the same time many of them tan and dye leather and indeed are not seldom confused with the Chamrång. The Khatik is said sometimes to keep sheep and goats and twist their hair into waistbands for sale.” Sir H. Risley again describes the Khatiks of Bihār as a cultivating and vegetable-selling caste.” The differences in the principal occupations ascribed to the caste are thus somewhat remarkable. In the Central Provinces the Khatiks are primarily slaughterers of sheep and goats and mutton-butchers, though they also keep pigs, and some of them, who object to this trade, make their livelihood by selling vegetables. Both in the United Provinces and Punjab the Khatiks are considered to be connected with the Päsis and probably an offshoot of that caste. In the Central Provinces they are said to be an inferior branch of the Gadaria or shepherd caste. The Gadarias state that their old sheep were formerly allowed to die. Then they appointed some poor men of the community to kill them and sell the flesh, dividing the profits with the owner, and thus the Khatik caste arose. The Khatiks accept cooked food from the Gadarias, but the latter do not reciprocate. The Khatiks are both Hindu and Muhammadan by religion, the latter being also known as Gai-Khatik or cowkiller; but these may more suitably be classed with the Kasais or Muhammadan butchers. In the Marātha Districts the Hindu Khatiks are divided into two subcastes, the Berāria or those from Berār, and the Jhādi or those of the forest country of the Wainganga valley. These will take
* Census Report (1881), para. 502. the Chamārs of the Central Provinces. * Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. * This statement does not apply to Khatik.