Bania: Lingayat

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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 It has been archived for its historical value as well as for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: Lingayat

The Lingayat Banias number nearly 8000 persons in the Central Provinces, being numerous in Wardha, Nagpur and all the Berar Districts. A brief account of the Lingayat sect has been given in a separate article. The Lingayat Banias form a separate endogamous group,

and they do not eat or intermarry either with other Banias or with members of other castes belonging to the Lingayat sect. But they retain the name and occupation of Banias. They have five subdivisions, Pancham, Dikshawant, Chilli- want, Takalkar and Kanade. The Pancham or Pancham- salis are the descendants of the original Brahman converts to the Lingayat sect. They are the main body of the community and are initiated by what is known as the eight- fold sacrament or esJita-varna.

The Dikshawant, from diksha or initiation, are a subdivision of the Panchamsalis, who apparently initiate disciples like the Dikshit Brahmans. The Takalkar are said to take their name from a forest called Takali, where their first ancestress bore a child to the god Siva. The Kanade are from Canara. The mean- ing of the term Chilliwant is not known ; it is said that a member of this subcaste will throw away his food or water if it is seen by any one who is not a Lingayat, and they shave the whole head. The above form endogamous sub- castes. The Lingayat Banias also have exogamous groups, the names of which are mainly titular, of a low-caste type. Instances of them are Kaode, from kawa a crow, Teli an oil-seller, Thubri a dwarf, Ubadkar an incendiary, Gudkari a sugar-seller and Dhamankar from Dhamangaon. They say that the maths or exogamous groups are no longer regarded, and that marriage is now prohibited between persons having the same surname. It is stated that if a girl is not married before adolescence she is finally expelled from the caste, but this rule has probably become obsolete. The proposal for marriage comes from either the boy's or girl's party, and sometimes the bridegroom receives a small sum for his travelling expenses, while at other times a bride- 1 See article Bairagi for some notice of the sect.

price is paid. At the wedding, rice coloured red is put in the hands of the bridegroom and juari coloured yellow in those of the bride. The bridegroom places the rice on the bride's head and she lays the juari at his feet.

A dish full of water with a golden ring in it is put between them, and they lay their hands on the ring together under the water and walk five times round a decorative little marriage-shed erected inside the real one. A feast is given, and the bridal couple sit on a little dais and eat out of the same dish. The remarriage of widows is permitted, but the widow may not marry a man belonging to the section either of her first husband or of her father. Divorce is recognised. The Lingayats bury the dead in a sitting posture with the lingam or emblem of Siva, which has never left the dead man during his lifetime, clasped in his right hand. Sometimes a platform is made over the grave with an image of Siva. They do not shave the head in token of mourning.

Their principal festival is Shivratri or Siva's night, when they offer the leaves of the bel tree and ashes to the god. A Lingayat must never be without the lingam or phallic sign of Siva, which is carried slung round the neck in a little case of silver, copper or brass. If he loses it, he must not eat, drink nor smoke until he finds it or obtains another. The Lingayats do not employ Brahmans for any purpose, but are served by their own priests, the Jangams,^ who are recruited both by descent and by initiation from members of the Pancham group. The Lingayat Banias are practically all immigrants from the Telugu country ; they have Telugu names and speak this language in their homes. They deal in grain, cloth, groceries and spices.

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