CHAMARS. Chamars are very strong physically. They trace their pedigree to Ravidas, the famous disciple of Ramanand. Whenever a Chamar is asked what he is, he replies that he is a Ravidas. Another tradition current among .them suggests that their original ancesuor was the youngest of four Brahman brothers who went to bathe in a river and found a crow struggling in quicksand. They sent the youngest brother in to rescue the animal, but before he could get to the spot, it had been drowned. He was compelled by his brothers to remove the carcass and after he had done this, they turned him out of their caste and gave him the name of Chamar.
In marriage bride price has to be paid. Widows are permitted to marry again in the sagai form. The dead bodies are cremated in ordinary Hindu fashion and sradit is performed on the 13th day after death. Libation of water and balls of rice called pind are offered to the spirit of the departed. A chamar breeds large herds of pigs. His occupations are tanning leather, making shoes and saddlery and grooming horses, working as ploughman and serving as musician of wedding. His favourite instruments are Dhol, drum, cymbals, khaniaii, Dhak, Binga and Bansari. As a clan they are intelligent and given proper raciljties of education they could absorb knowledge quickly. They have been trying to upgrade themselves in spite of their low economic status. There is wonderful human material in them.
Female Chamars are the midwives of our country. A Chamar woman is as hardy and strong as the male. She also works as labourer in field.
Dhanuks are a cultivating class of people. Many people of this caste are employed as personal servants in the households of members of the higher castes. Buchanan considered them a pure agricultural tribe, who from their name implying archers were probably in farmer times the militia of the country and are not much different from the Kurmis.
Dhanuks are divided into many sections-Magahiya, Tirhutia, Kanaujia, Dhudhwar and Kathautia, Magahiya, Tirhntia and Kanaujia are common territorial names used by many castes to denote sub-castes, who resided in and migrated from such tracts of land as Magah, Tirhut and Kanauj. They follow Hindu usages in the matter of their marriage and death. Widow marriage is permitted. Dhanuks are employed in the villages by the richer sections for ploughing the fields, bearing palanquins or do domestic chores. Owing to economic changes there is less of chance of employment in these occupations for the Dhanuks who have now taken to work in the mills, factories, small business, etc.
DROBI. They are divided into many sections such as Kanaujia, Magahiya, Awadhiya, etc. In case of marriage, preliminary negotiations are conducted by a matchmaker (agua) who mayor may not be a relative of the bride. A small customary price (tilak) is usually paid to the parents of the bridegroom. Hindu Dhobies generally worship Siva, Vishnu and Sakti.n Most of the Hindu Dhobies living in villages has taken to agriculture. In this district a Dhabi gets a special fee in cash or in kind at child birth or on the occasion of sradh.
DOMS. . Caldwell in his Grammar of the Dravidian Languages considers these people as the surviving representatives of an older, ruder and blacker race who preceded the Dravidians in India. According to Sir Henry Elliot they were one of the aboriginal tribes of India. Manu, the Hindu Law Giver, speaks of Doms (Chandals) as the result of the union of a Brahman woman with a Sudra male.
Several old forts neither testify to their former importance and still retain the names of their founders as nor instance, Domdiha and Domangarh. Buchanan calls Domingarh, the castle or the Dom lady. Carnegi in his notes on the Races of Audh observes that the fort of Domangarh was the stronghold of the Domar, a degenerate class of Rajputs and suggests that these Domars or Donwars may have been a family of Dams who had risen to power and got themselves enrolled in the conveniently elastic fraternity of Rajputs. In support of this theory he refers to the case of Ali Bakash Dam, who became Governor of Ramlabad, one of the districts of Audh.
Dark complexioned stodgy in stature and with rather unseemly features, the Dams are readily distinguishable from the other castes of Hindus. For centuries they have been subjected to menial duties and have served as helots of the Hindu community and this bas gone to obliterate all structural traces of their origin.
Magahiya Dams of Bihar have a legend of their origin. It is said that once Mahadeva and Parvati invited all castemen to a feast. Sufat Bhakat, the ancestor of the Dams, came late and being very hungry mixed up and ate the food which the others had left. Owing to his unseemly behavior, he and his descendants were degraded and condemned to eat the leavings of all other castes. There are Magahiva Dams in Palamau. They are also called Bansphor, bamboo-splitters as they make baskets out of bamboos.
On the occasion of the funeral ceremony of all Hindus the services of Dams are taken. The dams eat pork, fowls, ducks, and field-rats. But no Dam will touch the leavings of a Dhabi. Nor will he take water, sweets or any sort of food or drink from a man of that caste.
The Doms make basket, mat, jhanpi, and they rear pigs also. Doms are usually watched by the police, for they commit burglary by digging through .the walls of houses.
They economically belong to the lower group of population. Their house furniture and clothing are similar to those of Bhuiyas and Chamars. They are still a neglected tribe of people. The uplift of the Doms is necessary. The picture given by Caldwell is not correct now. The Doms are no longer the helots of the village.
Dosadhs are mostly the cultivating class of Hindus. The member of this community are largely employed as village watchmen and messengers. They claim to be descended from Dushasan, the brother of Kuru Prince, Duryodhan. They worship Rahu and trace their origin to him. They are divided into many sections-Kanaujia, Magahiya, Bhojpuria, Silhotia, etc. The members of all these groups will eat cooked food together but do not intermarry.
The marriage ceremony of Dosadhs is a meagre copy of the ritual in vogue among Hindus. Well-to-do Dosadhs employ Brahmans to officiate as priests. They follow Hinduism. Rahu is their chief deity. To avert diseases and in fulfilment of vows, sacrifices of animals and the fruit of the earth are offered to him at which a Dosadh Bhakat or Chatiya usually presides.
Dosadhs perform Arkhar. The sacrifice is generally performed on the 4th, the 9th or the day before the full moon of the months of Aghan, Magh, Phalgun or Baisakh. The Dosadh who is to officiate fire sacrifice to Rahu builds a hut for a Bhakat who is to officiate at the sacrifice. The latter spends the night sleeping on Kusa grass. In front of the door facing east a trench 6 cubits long, a span and a quarter wide and of the same depth running east and west is dug. The trench is filled with mango-wood soaked in ghee. The Bhakat bathes and puts on a dhoti dyed in turmeric. He mutters a number or mystic formula and worships Rahu on both sides of the trench. The fire is kindled and the devotee walks three times round the trench. When the actual flames subside and the cinders are aglow the devotee walks with pare foot on fire ill that narrow trench. Usually the trench is so narrow that very little dexterity is required for a man for walk with his feet on either edge so as not to touch the smouldering ashes at the bottom. By passing through the fire the devotee is believed to have been inspired with the spirit of Rahu. Excited by drink and ganja he chants mystic hymns and distributes to the crowd Tulsi leaves which are supposed to heal diseases otherwise incurable and flowers which have the virtue of curing barren women to conceive. The proceedings end with a feast and religious enlightenment soon passes into a drunken revelry lasting long into the night.
Besides Rahu, Dosadhs worship Goreya, a Dosadh bandit-chief, to which members of all castes resort. Bhairava, Jagdamba mai, Kali are also worshipped. The Dosadhs themselves work as priests. This is a prominent complex among the Dosadhs and shows their advanced views.
Dosadhs usually burn their dead and perform sradh. They used to eat pork, fowls and indulge freely in strong drink. Food habits are rapidly changing now. They used to keep pigs and serve as Chaukidars. They serve as grooms, elephant drivers, grass and wood-cutters. Some of them are excellent cooks and domestic servants. During Muslim .rule in Bengal the Dosadhs served in the army. According to Mr. Reade, most of the sepoys who served under Lord Clive were Dosadhs. The Dosadhs are in better position than Bhuiyas and Chamars. Their houses are built of mud and straw-thatched. Some Dosadhs have tiles on their houses. Economically they are people of lower income-group. Males put on Dhoti and females coarse sari and jacket. The poorest among them make use of bhagowa. They work as ploughmen also.
NAl OR NAUA. Nai or Naua is a barber caste of Palamau. There are several sub-castes among barbers-Awadhia, Kanaujia, Biahut, Magahiya and Turk-Naus. Of these Awadhias claim to have come from Audh. Kanaujia from Kanauj, Magahiya from Magadh Turk-Nauas are, Mohammedans.
Barbers pay a small tilak varying with the means and the relative status of the families. The ceremony of marriage is of he standard Hindu pattern. Sindurdan is considered essential. There is a panchayat among barbers to decide the question of divorce. Divorced Women may marry again by the sagai form. Nauas have Brahman priests.
The barber performs the Chaudakaran ceremony of a Hindu child, which takes place compulsorily at the age of six months or a year. In funeral ceremony he also plays a very important part. He shaves the head and pares the nails of the dead preparatory to cremation. He also shaves the head of the man who puts the first light to the pyre. Ten days afterwards he shaves the head of every member of the male house hold. The female barber pares the nail of the female household. By this time, after taking a final bath, they are purified of the contagion of death.
In the celebration of the marriage of high Hindus he acts as Brahman's assistant and to the lowest caste or tribes, be is himself the priest. He is also the match-maker among all respectable castes. The regular village barber is paid in kind annually by each house-holder. Beside this annual fee in kind, he gets a panja of paddy and rabi crop from every house-bolder he serves.
The social position of the barber is high. His clothing, housing, and mode of living are of middle class people. Barber as a class is very intelligent.
Kahars are the cultivating and palanquin bearing caste of Hindu. Many members of this group are employed as domestic servants. They also serve as cooks. Some of the Kahars have received education and, claim their descent from Chandrabansi Rajputs. They wear sacred thread also.
Kahars as a class claim Jarasandh, king of Magadh of Mahakavya age as their ancestor. Rawani, Magahiya are their sub-castes. It is said that there were no sections among the Kahars and they all lived at Ramanpur, near Gaya. The chief of Kahars married two wives who quarreled very much among themselves. So the chief removed one of his wives to Jaspur. Her descendants formed the Jaswar section while the members of the family who remained at Ramanpur were known as Ramanis or Rawanis. The marriage is of the usual Hindu type. Widows are permitted to marry again by the sagai form. Bride price of varying nature is paid to the relatives of the bride. There is a panchayat in Kahar community. Kahars have titulary deities. They too worship Sokha. They have Brahman priests and Brahman gurus. The gurus are also Bairagi or Nanak Shahi Yogis.
KANDU. Kandu is the grain-parcher caste of Hindu. Madhesia, Magahiya, Kanaujia are some of the sections of Kandu. In tilak cloth and ornaments are usually exchanged; the first gift is presented by the parents of the bride and it is followed by the parents of the bridegroom. In case of poor parentage bride price is paid to her father. Marriage of poor bride is performed in the house of the bridegroom.
Kandus in village make sweets and fried rice (chura) out of paddy. Some follow cultivation and the poorer among them are employed as labourers. In this district they are economically of middle lower group.
Kayastha is the writer class of the district. The earliest reference to the Kayasthas as a distinct caste occurs in Yajna Valkya who describes them as writers and village accountants, very exacting in their demands from the cultivators. In the Padma and Skanda Puranas the Kayasthas are said to be the children of Chitragupta, the supreme recorder of man's virtues and vices, who sprang from the body of Brahma and this was the' first Kayastha. There is much controyersy regarding their origin and this is not the place to enter into details about their origin.
Kayasthas are very influential people in the district. Ambastha, Sriyastava, Karan are some of their sub-castes. In this district the Akhauris and Thakurs are notable and influential people.
Their marriage is of standard Hindu type. But in Kayastha family there is an exorbitant demand of tilak and dowry by the parents of the bridegroom. Hence much delay is caused in the marriage of grown-up girls.
Kayasthas follow various occupations. Besides service, they carryon cultivation, trade and various other professions. The social position of Kayasthas is very high and respectable. They belong to middle upper class of people and some of them may be classed under higher income-group of people in this district. They have a higher standard of life and have better type houses and household.
KEWATS OR MALLARAS.
They are fishing and cultivating people. The marriage ceremony, of these people is of absorbing interest. In their marriage the bridegroom's people pay a visit to the bride's house for the purpose of seeing the bride. This is followed by a return visit on the part of the bride's people known as Baradekhi-seeing of the bridegroom. Then comes tilak. The bride's father goes to the bridegroom's house with a present of money, clothes, etc. After that a day is fixed for wedding. When the bridegroom's party comes to the bride's house, it is lodged in Janawasa. There the females of the bride's household, one of them bearing on her head a ghara of water go in a body to the Janawasn and assail the bridegroom's party with abusive songs and personal ridicule. This is kept up until one of the bridegroom's friends comes out and drops some prepared betel and some money. Then the women retire. Thereafter the wife of one of the brothers of the bride returns to the Janawasa with a scarf and she throws it round the neck of the bridegroom and drags him away to the courtyard of the bride's house. There, in the Marwa he is made to walk round it scattering on the ground the paddy parched in the Matkorwa ceremony of the preceding day. Both parties are then seated under the Marwa. The family first then performs the ceremony. After Sindurdan the bridal pair are taken into one of the rooms, where two dishes of fried rice and milk are standing ready. A. tiny scratch is then made in the little finger of the 'bridegroom's right hand and of the bride's left. The drops of blood drawn from these fingers are mixed with the food. Each then eats the food with which the other's blood has been mixed.
Mallahas also work as labourers in forest and prepare catechu. Economically these people are not better off. They live in mud-houses.
KOERIS. Koeris are the numerous cultivating caste of people in the district. Many koeris ate prosperous cultivators holding occupancy rights. They grow all kinds of vegetables and sell them. The landless among them work as labourers also. Their skill and industry are so notorious that a Koeri, even if he has no land of his own, is usually in demand as a partner on the system of cultivation.
In marriages and funerals they follow Hindu usages, A widow is permitted to marry again by a sagai form.
There are sections among this caste. Banafar, Barki Dagin, Chhotki Dagin, Jaruhar are some of the sub-castes of this tribe.
Economically they are people of middle lower class. They grow every kind of crop.
KUMRARS. Kumhars are people whose occupation is to make earthen pots, tiles etc. In Palamau Magahiya, Ranaujia and Audhiya Kumhars are in abundance.
Kumhars have their kiln, store house and dwelling house beneath the same thatched roof. They prepare their clay at the door. They make use of grass, reeds or bamboo-stems and dried leaves for heating the kiln.
Kumhars make pottery during winter but in summer they make tiles. Kumbar women also assist their males in fashioning the globular part of the vessels. In this district most of the Kumhars have cultivating lands.
Koeris and Kumhars are economically better off. They follow Hindu usages in matter of marriages and funerals. There has been a considerable advancement in them recently.
Rajputs form the most influential caste in the district, Most of the rich zamindars belonged to .this class. But owing to the abolition of zamindari they too have become tenants and their influence is waning. The number of Rajputs is very great in Hussainabad. Several classes of Rajputs inhabit this district. Some are Chandrabansi, Surwar, Surajbansi and Nagbaansi. The Namudag family of Surwar class is very prominent. The families of Ranka and Chainpur are descended from the families of Diwans or Chief Ministerial Officers under the old Chero-rulers. The heads of both these families always helped the British Government in times of emergency and difficulties. They had received the title of Rajas from the past rulers. The Raj Family of Ranka is noted for its princely contributions to the cause of secondary education of the district. Govind High School of Garhwa and the Girwar High School of Daltonganj owe their origin to the generosity of Raja Girwar Prasad Sinha of Ranh. The Sonepura and Untari families were very influential and have still large cultivation. Economically the position of the Rajputs is good. Some of them belong to higher income-group. They have pucca houses and investment in banks. Their standard of life is high. They have a tradition and a past.
BRAHMINS. Brahmins are well-to-do cultivators. They are most numerous near the towns of Daltonganj and Garhwa. Some of them held rent tree land granted by the Raksel and Chero chiefs. Brahmins first came to Palamau as the priests of the Raksel Rajputs. A large number of them came also along with the Chero invaders. They acted as Gurus, and Purohits of Chero Rajas. Some of the Brahmins are now highly educated and hold responsible posts in the State. Physically they are fine and well-built. Usually intelligent, they appear to be fond of litigation. As a class they are quite distinct.
There are sub-castes among the Brahmins-Kanaujia, Sarjuparin, Sakaldwipi and Maithil. The number of Kanaujia Brahmins is exceedingly large.
Brahmins economically belong to middle upper class. Their occupations are cultivation, trade and mahajani. They take rice, pulse, wheat and sattu and vegetables. Many Brahmins have become meat-eaters now. Males wear dhoti, kurta and ganji and females wear sari and blouses. On the occasion of marriages males put on pagri and caps. Sari and dhoti dyed in yellow colour are used. Houses of Brahmins are mostly mud-built. Among Brahmins Satyanamyan $atha and Bhagwat Puran are very often recited. When Bhagwat Puran is recited by Pandit for seven continuous days, a great Yajna follows. Hundred of Brahmins are fed, gifts are distributed and great rejoicing takes place. Their influence as priests or leaders in the society is on the wane.
Vaisyas are generally traders. They have many sections or subcastes. Agrawals, Ralwars, Telis and others are included in this group of these people Agrawal is a wealthy section. People of this group deal in grain and jewellery. They are also bankers. Raja Agranath, was the first son of this tribe. According to Nesfield people taking to the calling of trading in Aguru (sandal) was caned Agrahari. The bulk of Agrawals belong to the Vaishnava form of Hinduism. A few are Saivas and Saktas also. The social status of Agrawal is very high. They wear sacred thread. In marriages the standard form of Hindu ritual is used. Brahmins act as priests.
This caste has produced two historical persons-Madhu Sah and Todar Mal. They were Akbar's ministers.
Some Agrawals have landed properties. The poorer members of the caste work as brokers, touts, workers in gold and silver embroidery. The other sections of Vaisyas also follow Hindu customs. But their social status is inferior to Agrawal Vaisyas. Among some sections of Vaisyas widow marriage is permitted by a sagai form.
BARAIS. Barais are essentially cultivators. Barais are orthodox Hindus and they bear the title of Raut. They worship both Mahabirjee and Goreya, a godling of the Dusadhs. They engage Brahmin priests for worshipping Mahabirjee and engage Dusac1hsfor worshipping Goreya godling. Betel cultivation and agriculture are their chief occupations. They are also engaged in preparing lime and Katha. They are very fond of ktrtans and kathas.
BHUINYAS. Bhuinyas are scattered ail over the district and they claim to, be the original clearers of the jungles and claim to be the first settlers. They are dark-brown people with black straight hair on head, middle sized and capable of enduring great fatigue. They regard Rikhmuni as their patron deity and claim their descent from him. They form usually the landless labour force for the field. Divorce and widow marriage are permissible. A divorced woman may marry again in sagai form.
Bhuinyas have barber priests. They worship Rikbmuni and Tulsi Bir. They also appease spirits like Goreya, Sokha and Darha. They have great belief in witchcraft. When a member of the tribe falls ill he seeks the aid of village ojha. Economically they belong to a lower group of rural people. Most of these people wear a Bhagwa, a narrow piece of cloth about three feet long and a few inches broad. It is passed between the thigh and is fastened in front and behind to a string worn round the waist. Women wear a very coarse sari. They have hardly more than one san. The Bhuinyas males and females do not bathe for months together. Their houses are very small and straw-thatched. A small house of ten to fifteen cubits long and four to five feet wide serves the purposes of a kitchen, sleeping room, dining room and a guest room. Their poor life is more to be imagined than described.
Some of them rear goats and pigs and fowls as well. Coarse food consisting of maize, kodo, sawan, Khesari and other crop is their lot. Some times they take rice and chapati also. They are given to drinking. There is hardly any family of Bhuinyas where khaini (tobacco) is not taken. Even little children of eight or nine years old are found taking khaini. Despite their hard life these people appear cheerful and in the evening most of them play upon mahar (a musical drum). They sing and dance merrily. This is the only source of recreation to these people. Women also work as labourers. Transplantation of paddy is generally done by these women. They are also very hardy.