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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.
A caste belonging exclusively to Chhattlsgarh, i. Origin which numbered 3000 persons in 191 i. Dhuri is an honorific abbreviation from Dhuriya as Bani from Bania.
The special occupation of the caste is rice-parching, and they are an off- shoot from Kahars, though in Chhattisgarh the Dhuris now consider the Kahars as a subcaste of their own. In Bengal the Dhuriyas are a subcaste of the Kandus or Bharbhiinjas. Sir H. Risley states that " the Dhurias rank lowest of all the subcastes of Kandus, owing either to their having taken up the comparatively menial profession of palanquin-bearing, or to their being a branch of the Kahar caste who went in for grain-parching and thus came to be associated with the Kandus." ^ The caste have immigrated to Chhattlsgarh from the United Provinces. In Kawardha they believe that the Raja of that State brought them back with him on his return from a pilgrimage.
In Bilaspur and Raipur they say they came from Badhar, a pargana in the Mirzapur District, adjoining Rewah. Badhar is mentioned in one of the Rajim inscriptions, and is a place remembered by other castes of Chhattlsgarh as their ancestral home. The Dhuris of Chhattlsgarh relate their origin as follows : Mahadeo went once to the jungle' and the damp earth stuck to his feet. He scraped it off and made it into a man, and asked him what caste he would like to belong to. The man said he would leave it to Mahadeo, who decided that he should be called Dhuri from d/u'ir, dust. The man then asked Mahadeo to assign him an occupation, and Mahadeo said that as he was made from dust, which is pounded earth, his work should 1 Behind the Bungalow. Lai Misra, a clerk in the Gazetteer 2 This article is mainly compiled office, from papers by Mr. Gokul Prasad, ^ Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Naib-Tahsildar, Dhamtari, and Pyare Kandu.
be to prepare cJieora or pounded rice, and added as a special distinction that all castes including Brahmans should eat the pounded rice prepared by him.
All castes do eat cheora because it is not boiled with water. The Dhuris have two subcastes, a higher and a lower, but they are known by different names in different tracts. In Kawardha they are called Raj Dhuri and Cheorakuta, the Raj Dhuris being the descendants of personal servants in the Raja's family and ranking above the Cheorakutas or rice-pounders. In Bilaspur they are called Badharia and Khawas, and in Raipur Badharia and Desha. The Khawas and Desha subcastes do menial household service and rank below the Badharias, who are perhaps later immigrants and refuse to engage in this occupation. The names of their exogamous sections are nearly all territorial, as Naugahia from Naogaon in Bilaspur District, Agoria from Agori, a pargana in Mirza- pur District, Kashi or Benares, and a number of other names derived from villages in Bilaspur.
But the caste do not strictly enforce the rule forbidding marriage within the gotra or section, and are content with avoiding three generations both on the father's and mother's side. They have probably been driven to modify the rule on account of the paucity of their numbers and the difficulty of arranging marriages. For the same reason perhaps they look with indulgence on the practice, as a rule strictly prohibited, of marriage with a woman of another caste of lower social rank, and will admit the children of such a marriage into the caste, though not the woman herself Infant-marriage is in vogue, and polygamy is permitted only if the first wife be barren. The betrothal is cemented by an exchange of betel-leaves and areca-nuts between the fathers of the engaged couple. A bride-price of from ten to twenty rupees is usually paid. Some rice, a pice coin, 2 I cowries and 2 1 pieces of turmeric are placed in the hole in which the marriage post is erected. When the wedding procession arrives at the girl's house the bridegroom goes to the marriage -shed and pulls out the festoons of mango leaves, the bride's family trying to prevent him by offering him a winnowing-fan. He then approaches the door of the house, behind which his future mother-in-law is standing,
and slips a piece of cloth through the door for her. She takes this and retires without bcint^ seen.
The wedding consists of the bhdrnvar ceremony or walkin<^ round the sacred pole. During the proceedings the women tie a new thread round the bridegroom's neck to avert the evil eye. After the wedding the bride and bridegroom, in opposition to the usual custom, must return to the latter's house on foot. In explanation of this they tell a story to the effect that the married couple were formerly carried in a palanquin. But on one occasion when a wedding procession came to a river, everybody began to catch fish, leaving the bride deserted, and the palanquin-bearers, seeing this, carried her off.
To prevent the recurrence of such a mischance the couple now have to walk. Widow-marriage is permitted, and the widow usually marries her late husband's younger brother. Divorce is only permitted for misconduct on the part of the wife. The Dhuris principally worship the goddess Devi. 3- Reii- Nearly all members of the caste belong to the Kablrpanthi fdiefs. sect. They believe that the sun on setting goes through the earth, and that the milky way is the path by which the elephant of the heavens passes from south to north to feed on the young bamboo shoots, of which he is ver}' fond. They think that the constellation of the Great Bear is a cot with three thieves tied to it. The thieves came to steal the cot, which belonged to an old woman, but God caught them and tied them down there for ever. Orion is the plough left by one of the Pandava brothers after he had finished tilling the heavens.
The dead are burnt. They observe mourning during nine or ten days for an adult and make libations to the dead at the usual period in the month of Kunwar (September-October). The proper occupation of the caste is to parch rice. 4- Occupa- The rice is husked and then parched in an earthen pan, s°(!iai"'^ and subsequently bruised with a mallet in a wooden mortar, status. When prepared in this manner it is called cheora. The Dhuris also act as kJiidmatgdrs or household servants, but the members of the Badharia subcaste refuse to do this work. Some members of the caste are fishermen, and others grow melons and sweet potatoes. Considering that they VOL. II 2 M
live in Chhattisgarh, the caste are somewhat scrupulous in the matter of food, neither eating fowls nor drinking liquor. The Kawardha Dhuris, however, who are later immigrants than the others, do not observe these restrictions, the reason for which may be that the Dhuris think it necessary to be strict in the matter of food, so that no one may object to take parched rice from them. Rawats and Gonds take food from their hands in some places, and their social status in Chhattisgarh is about equivalent to that of the Rawats or Ahirs. A man of the caste who kills a cow or gets vermin in a wound must go to Amarkantak to bathe in the Nerbudda. 2. Sub- divisions.