Bania: Golapurab, Golahre

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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 It has been archived for its historical value as well as for
the insights it gives into British colonial writing about the various communities
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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.

Bania, Golapiirab, Golahre

This Jain subcaste num- bers about 6000 persons in the Central Provinces, and belongs mainly to the Saugor, Damoh and Narsinghpur Districts. Its distribution is nearly the same as that of the Gahois, and it is probably also a Bundelkhand group. The Golapurabs are practically all Digambari Jains with a small Hindu minority. In some localities they intermarry with Parwar Banias who are also Digambari Jains ; and they will take food cooked without water from the Nema subcaste who are Hindus. According to one story the Golapurabs were the offspring of a Purabia, that is probably a Bais Rajput, by a kept woman of the Ahlr caste. This fits in very well with the name, as Golak means a bastard, and the termination purab would be from Purabia ; but it is probably the name which has given rise to the story, or at any rate to the sup- posed descent from a Purabia. In the United Provinces a small subcaste of Bania called Golahre exists, belonging to the Jhansi District, that is the country of the Golapurabs, and Jain by religion. There is no doubt that this group is the same as the Golapurabs, and Mr. Crooke derives ^ the ' Tribes and Castes, art. Golahre.

name from gola^ a grain-mart, which seems more probable than the derivation suggested above. But it is an interesting fact that there is also a caste of cultivators called Golapurab in the United Provinces, found only in the Agra District. It is suggested that these people are the illegitimate offspring of Sanadhya Brahmans, with whom they appear to be closely connected. From their sept-names, however, which include those of several Rajput clans and also some titular terms of a low-caste type, Mr. Crooke thinks their Brahmanical origin improbable. It is noticeable that these Golapurabs though a cultivating caste have, like the Banias, a subcaste called Dasa, comprising persons of irregular descent ; they also prohibit the remarriage of widows, and abstain from all flesh and from onions and garlic.

Such customs are peculiar in a cultivating caste, and resemble those of Banias. It seems possible that a detailed investigation might give ground for supposing that both the Golahre and Golapurab subcastes of Banias in the United and Central Provinces respectively are connected with this cultivating caste of Golapurabs.

The latter might have abandoned the Jain religion on taking to cultivation, as a Jain cannot well drive the plough, which involves destruction of animal life ; or the Bania section might have adopted Jainism in order to obtain a better social position and differentiate themselves from the cultivators. Unfortunately no detailed information about the Golapurabs of the Central Provinces is available, from which the probability or otherwise of this hypothesis could be tested.

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