Bania: Srimali

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 It has been archived for its historical value as well as for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

This subcaste takes its name from the town of Srimal, which is now Bhinmal in Marwar. They numbered 600 persons in the Central Provinces in 191 1, most of whom belonged to the Hoshangabad District. More than two-thirds were Hindus and the remainder Jains. Colonel Tod writes of Bhinmal and an adjoining town, Sanchor :

" These towns are on the high road to Cutch and Gujarat, which has given them from the most remote times a commercial celebrity. Bhinmal is said to contain about 1500 houses and Sanchor half that number. Very wealthy mahdjans or merchants used to reside here, but insecurity ^ Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xvii. p. 8i.

both within and without has much injured these cities." From Bhinmal the Srimah's appear to have gone to Gujarat, where they are found in considerable numbers. Their legend of origin is that tlie goddess Lakshmi created from a flower-garland 90,000 families to act as servants to the 90,000 Srimali Brahmans, and these were the ancestors of the Srimali Banias.^ Both the Jain and Hindu sections of the Srimali Banias employ Srimali Brahmans as priests.

Like other classes of Banias, the Srimali are divided into two sections, the Bisa and Dasa, or twenty and ten, of which the Bisa are considered to be of pure and the Dasa of some- what mixed descent. In Gujarat they also have a third territorial group, known as Ladva, from Lad, the old name of Gujarat. All three subdivisions take food together but do not intermarry." The two highest sections of the Oswal Banias are called Sri Srimal and Srimal, and it is possible that further investigation might show the Srimals and Oswals to have been originally of one stock.

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