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This article was written in 1916 when conditions were different. Even in
1916 its contents related only to Central India and did not claim to be true
of all of India. It has been archived for its historical value as well as for
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From The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India

By R. V. Russell

Of The Indian Civil Service

Superintendent Of Ethnography, Central Provinces

Assisted By Rai Bahadur Hira Lal, Extra Assistant Commissioner

Macmillan And Co., Limited, London, 1916.

NOTE 1: The 'Central Provinces' have since been renamed Madhya Pradesh.

NOTE 2: While reading please keep in mind that all articles in this series have been scanned from the original book. Therefore, footnotes have got inserted into the main text of the article, interrupting the flow. Readers who spot these footnotes gone astray might like to shift them to their correct place.


i. Origin

A caste of degraded Rajputs found in Bilaspur and Raipur, and numbering about 2000 persons.

Daharias were originally a clan of Rajputs but, like several others in the Central Provinces, they have now developed into a caste and marry among themselves, thus transgressing the first rule of Rajput exogamy. Colonel Tod included the Daharias among the thirty-six royal races of Rajasthan.^ Their name is derived from Dahar or Dahal, the classical term for the Jubbulpore country at the period when it formed the dominion of the Haihaya or Kalachuri Rajput kings of Tripura or Tewar near Jubbulpore. This dynasty had an era of their own, commencing in A.D. 248, and their line continued until the tenth or eleventh century.

The Arabian geographer Alberuni (born A.D. 973) mentions the country of Dahal and its king Gangeya Deva. His son Kama Daharia is still remembered as the builder of temples in Karanbel and Bilahri in Jubbulpore, and it is from him that the Daharia Rajputs take their name. The Haihaya dynasty of Ratanpur were related to the Kalachuri kings of Tewar, and under them the ancestors of the Daharia Rajputs probably migrated from Jubbulpore into Chhattlsgarh. But they themselves have forgotten their illustrious origin, and tell a different story to account for their name. They say that they came from Baghelkhand or Rewah, which may well be correct, as Rewah lies between Chhattlsgarh and Jubbulpore, and a large colony of Kalachuri Rajputs may still be found about ten miles north- east of Rewah town. The Daharias relate that when Parasu- rama, the great Brahman warrior, was slaying the Kshatriyas, a i^"^ of them escaped towards Ratanpur and were camping in the forest by the wayside.

Parasurama came up and asked them who they were, and they said they were Daharias or wayfarers, from ddJiar the Chhattlsgarhi term for a road or path ; and thus they successfully escaped the vengeance of Parasurama. This futile fiction only demonstrates the real ignorance of their Brahman priests, who, if they had known a little history, need not have had recourse to their invention to furnish the Daharias with a distinguished pedigree, A third derivation is from a word daJiri or gate, and they say that the name of Dahria or Daharia was conferred on them by Bimbaji Bhonsla, because of the bravery with which they held the gates of Ratanpur against his attack. But history

is against them here, as it records that Ratanpur capitulated to the Marathas without strikinjj a blow. As already stated, the Daharias were originally a clan 2. Sept of Rajputs, whose members must take wives or husbands su^sept. from other clans. They have now become a caste and marry among themselves, but within the caste they still have exogamous groups or septs, several of which are named after Rajpijt clans as Bais, Chandel, Baghel, Bundela, Main- puri Chauhan, Parihar, Rather and several others. Certain names are not of Rajput origin, and probably record the admission of outsiders into the caste.

Like the Rajputs, within the sept they have also subsepts, some of which are taken from the Brahmans, as Parasar, Bharadwaj, Sandilya, while others are nicknames, as Kachariha (one who does not care about a beating), Atariha, Hiyas and others. The divisions of the septs and subsepts are very confused, and seem to indicate that at different times various foreign elements have been received into the community, including Rajpiits of many different clans. According to rule, a man should not take a wife whose sept or subsept are the same as his own, but this is not adhered to ; and in some cases the Daharias, on account of the paucity of their numbers and the difficulty of arranging matches, have been driven to permit the marriage of first cousins, which among proper Rajputs is forbidden.

They also practise hypergamy, as members of the Mainpuri Chauhan, Hiyas, Bisen, Surkhi and Bais septs or subsepts will take girls in marriage from families of other septs, but will not give their daughters to them. This practice leads to polygamy among the five higher septs, whose daughters are all married in their own circle, while in addition they receive girls from the other groups. Members of these latter also consider it an honour to marry a daughter into one of the higher septs, and are willing to pay a considerable price for such a distinction. It seems probable that the small Daraiha caste of Bilaspur are an inferior branch of the Daharias. The Daharias, in theory at any rate, observe the same 3- Social ru^es in regard to their women as Brahmans and Rajputs. Neither divorce nor the marriage of widows is permitted, and a woman who goes wrong is finally expelled from the


Their social customs resemble those of the higher Hindustani castes. When the bridegroom starts for the wedding he is dressed in a long white gown reaching to the ankles, with new shoes, and he takes with him a dagger ; this serves the double purpose of warding off evil spirits, always prone to attack the bridal party, and also of being a substitute for the bridegroom himself, as in case he should for some unforeseen reason be rendered unable to appear at the ceremony, the bride could be married to the dagger as his representative.

It may also be mentioned that, before the bridegroom starts for the wedding, after he has been rubbed with oil and turmeric for five days he is seated on a wooden plank over a hole dug in the courtyard and bathed. He then changes his clothes, and the women bring twenty- one small cJmkias or cups full of water and empty them over him. His head is then covered with a piece of new cloth, and a thread wound round it seven times by a Brahman.

The thread is afterwards removed, and tied round an iron ring with some mango leaves, and this ring forms the kankan which is tied to the bridegroom's wrist, a similar one being worn by the bride. Before the wedding the bride goes round to the houses of her friends, accompanied by the women of her party singing songs, and by musicians. At each house the mistress appears with her forehead and the parting of her hair profusely smeared with vermilion. She rubs her forehead against the bride's so as to colour it also with vermilion, which is now considered the symbol of a long and happy married life.

The barber's wife applies red paint to the bride's feet, the gardener's wife presents her with a garland of flowers, and the carpenter's wife gives her a new wooden doll. She must also visit the potter's and washerman's wives, whose benisons are essential ; they give her a new pot and a little rice respectively. When the bridegroom comes to touch the marriage - shed with his dagger he is resisted by the bride's sister, to whom he must give a rupee as a present. The binding portion of the marriage consists in the couple walking seven times round the marriage-post. At each turn the bridegroom seizes the bride's right toe and with it upsets one of seven little cups of rice placed near the marriage-post. This is probably a

symbol of fertility. After it they worship seven pairs of little wooden boxes smeared with vermilion and called singJwra and s'uigkori as if they were male and female.

The bride- groom's father brin<^s two little dough images of Mahadeo and Parvati as the ideal married pair, and gives them to the couple. The new husband applies vermilion to his wife's forehead, and covers and uncovers her head seven times, to signify to her that, having become a wife, she should hence- forth be veiled when she goes abroad. The bride's maid now washes her face, which probably requires it, and the wedding is complete. The Daharias usually have a guru or spiritual preceptor, but husband and wife must not have the same one, as in that case they would be in the anomalous position of brother and sister, a gUTu's disciples being looked upon as his children.

The Daharias were formerly warriors in the service of the Ratanpur kings, and many families still possess an old sword which they worship on the day of Dasahra. Their names usually end in Singh or Lai. They are now engaged in cultivation, and many of them are proprietors of villages, and tenants. Some of them are employed as constables and chuprassies, but few are labourers, as they may not touch the plough with their own hands. They eat the flesh of clean animals, but do not drink liquor, and avoid onions and tomatoes.

They have good features and fair complexions, the traces of their Rajput blood being quite evident. Brahmans will take water from them, but they now rank below Rajputs, on a level with the good cultivating castes.

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