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The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Book IV ebook

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Opis ebooka The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Book IV - R. V. Russell

Kumh?r, Kumbh?r.—The caste of potters, the name being derived from the Sanskrit kumbh, a water-pot. The Kumh?rs numbered nearly 120,000 persons in the Central Provinces in 1911 and were most numerous in the northern and eastern or Hindust?ni-speaking Districts, where earthen vessels have a greater vogue than in the south. The caste is of course an ancient one, vessels of earthenware having probably been in use at a very early period, and the old Hindu scriptures consequently give various accounts of its origin from mixed marriages between the four classical castes.

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R. V. Russell

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Articles on Castes and Tribes Kumhār—Yemkala

Pronunciation

a, has the sound ofu in but or murmur.ā has the sound ofa in bath or tar.e has the sound ofé in écarté or ai in maid.i has the sound ofi in bit, or (as a final letter) of y in sulky.ī has the sound ofee in beet.o has the sound ofo in bore or bowl.u has the sound ofu in put or bull.ū has the sound ofoo in poor or bootThe plural of caste names and a few common Hindustāni words is formed by adding s in the English manner according to ordinary usage, though this is not, of course, the Hindustāni plural.Note.—The rupee contains 16 annas, and an anna is of the same value as a penny. A pice is a quarter of an anna, or a farthing. Rs. 1–8 signifies one rupee and eight annas. A lakh is a hundred thousand, and a krore ten million.

Articles on Castes and Tribes Kumhār—Yemkala

KumhārList of Paragraphs1. Traditions of origin2. Caste sub-divisions3. Social Customs4. The Kumhār as a village menial5. Occupation6. Breeding pigs for sacrifices7. The goddess Demeter8. Estimation of the pig in India9. The buffalo as a corn-god10. The Dasahra festival11. The goddess Devi1. Traditions of originKumhār, Kumbhār.—The caste of potters, the name being derived from the Sanskrit kumbh, a water-pot. The Kumhārs numbered nearly 120,000 persons in the Central Provinces in 1911 and were most numerous in the northern and eastern or Hindustāni-speaking Districts, where earthen vessels have a greater vogue than in the south. The caste is of course an ancient one, vessels of earthenware having probably been in use at a very early period, and the old Hindu scriptures consequently give various accounts of its origin from mixed marriages between the four classical castes. “Concerning the traditional parentage of the caste,” Sir H. Risley writes,1 “there seems to be a wide difference of opinion among the recognised authorities on the subject. Thus the Brahma Vaivārtta Purāna says that the Kumbhakār or maker of water-jars (kumbka), is born of a Vaishya woman by a Brāhman father; the Parāsara Samhita makes the father a Mālākār (gardener) and the mother a Chamār; while the Parāsara Padhati holds that the ancestor of the caste was begotten of a Tili woman by a Pattikār or weaver of silk cloth.” Sir Monier Williams again, in his Sanskrit Dictionary, describes them as the offspring of a Kshatriya woman by a Brāhman. No importance can of course be attached to such statements as the above from the point of view of actual fact, but they are interesting as showing the view taken of the formation of castes by the old Brāhman writers, and also the position given to the Kumhār at the time when they wrote. This varies from a moderately respectable to a very humble one according to the different accounts of his lineage. The caste themselves have a legend of the usual Brāhmanical type: “In the Kritayuga, when Maheshwar (Siva) intended to marry the daughter of Hemvanta, the Devas and Asuras2 assembled at Kailās (Heaven). Then a question arose as to who should furnish the vessels required for the ceremony, and one Kulālaka, a Brāhman, was ordered to make them. Then Kulālaka stood before the assembly with folded hands, and prayed that materials might be given to him for making the pots. So Vishnu gave his Sudarsana (discus) to be used as a wheel, and the mountain of Mandāra was fixed as a pivot beneath it to hold it up. The scraper was Adi Kūrma the tortoise, and a rain-cloud was used for the water-tub. So Kulālaka made the pots and gave them to Maheshwar for his marriage, and ever since his descendants have been known as Kumbhakār or maker of water-jars.”Potter and his wheel2. Caste sub-divisionsThe Kumhārs have a number of subcastes, many of which, as might be expected, are of the territorial type and indicate the different localities from which they migrated to the Central Provinces. Such are the Mālwi from Mālwa, the Telenga from the Telugu country in Hyderābād, the Pardeshi from northern India and the Marātha from the Marātha Districts. Other divisions are the Lingāyats who belong to the sect of this name, the Gadhewāl or Gadhere who make tiles and carry them about on donkeys (gadha), the Bardia who use bullocks for transport and the Sungaria who keep pigs (suar). Certain endogamous groups have arisen simply from differences in the method of working. Thus the Hāthgarhia3 mould vessels with their hands only without using the wheel; the Goria4 make white or red pots only and not black ones; the Kurere mould their vessels on a stone slab revolving on a stick and not on a wheel; while the Chakere are Kumhārs who use the wheel (chāk) in localities where other Kumhārs do not use it. The Chhutakia and Rakhotia are illegitimate sections, being the offspring of kept women.3. Social CustomsGirls are married at an early age when their parents can afford it, the matches being usually arranged at caste feasts. In Chānda parents who allow a daughter to become adolescent while still unwed are put out of caste, but elsewhere the rule is by no means so strict. The ceremony is of the normal type and a Brāhman usually officiates, but in Betūl it is performed by the Sawāsa or husband of the bride’s paternal aunt. After the wedding the couple are given kneaded flour to hold in their hands and snatch from each other as an emblem of their trade. In Mandla a bride price of Rs. 50 is paid.The Kumhārs recognise divorce and the remarriage of widows. If an unmarried girl is detected in criminal intimacy with a member of the caste, she has to give a feast to the caste-fellows and pay a fine of Rs. 1–4 and five locks of her hair are also cut off by way of purification. The caste usually burn the dead, but the Lingāyat Kumhārs always bury them in accordance with the practice of their sect. They worship the ordinary Hindu deities and make an offering to the implements of their trade on the festival of Deothān Igāras. The village Brāhman serves as their priest. In Bālāghāt a Kumhār is put out of caste if a dead cat is found in his house. At the census of 1901 the Kumhār was ranked with the impure castes, but his status is not really so low. Sir D. Ibbetson said of him: “He is a true village menial; his social standing is very low, far below that of the Lohār and not much above the Chamār. His association with that impure beast, the donkey, the animal sacred to Sitala, the smallpox goddess, pollutes him and also his readiness to carry manure and sweepings.” As already seen there are in the Central Provinces Sungaria and Gadheria subcastes which keep donkeys and pigs, and these are regarded as impure. But in most Districts the Kumhār ranks not much below the Barhai and Lohār, that is in what I have designated the grade of village menials above the impure and below the cultivating castes. In Bengal the Kumhārs have a much higher status and Brāhmans will take water from their hands. But the gradation of caste in Bengal differs very greatly from that of other parts of India.4. The Kumhār as a village menialThe Kumhār is not now paid regularly by dues from the cultivators like other village menials, as the ordinary system of sale has no doubt been found more convenient in his case. But he sometimes takes the soiled grass from the stalls of the cattle and gives pots free to the cultivator in exchange. On Akti day, at the beginning of the agricultural year, the village Kumhār of Saugor presents five pots with covers on them to each cultivator and receives 2½ lbs. of grain in exchange. One of these the tenant fills with water and presents to a Brāhman and the rest he reserves for his own purposes. On the occasion of a wedding also the bridegroom’s party take the bride to the Kumhārin’s house as part of the sohāg ceremony for making the marriage propitious. The Kumhār seats the bride on his wheel and turns it round with her seven times. The Kumhārin presents her with seven new pots, which are taken back to the house and used at the wedding. They are filled with water and are supposed to represent the seven seas. If any two of these pots accidentally clash together it is supposed that the bride and bridegroom will quarrel during their married life. In return for this the Kumhārin receives a present of clothes. At a funeral also the Kumhār must supply thirteen vessels which are known as ghāts, and must also replace the broken earthenware. Like the other village menials at the harvest he takes a new vessel to the cultivator in his field and receives a present of grain. These customs appear to indicate his old position as one of the menials or general servants of the village ranking below the cultivators. Grant-Duff also includes the potter in his list of village menials in the Marātha villages.55. OccupationThe potter is not particular as to the clay he uses and does not go far afield for the finer qualities, but digs it from the nearest place in the neighbourhood where he can get it free of cost. Red and black clay are employed, the former being obtained near the base of hills or on high-lying land, probably of the laterite formation, and the latter in the beds of tanks or streams. When the clay is thoroughly kneaded and ready for use a lump of it is placed on the centre of the wheel. The potter seats himself in front of the wheel and fixes his stick or chakrait into the slanting hole in its upper surface. With this stick the wheel is made to revolve very rapidly, and sufficient impetus is given to it to keep it in motion for several minutes. The potter then lays aside the stick and with his hands moulds the lump of clay into the shape required, stopping every now and then to give the wheel a fresh spin as it loses its momentum. When satisfied with the shape of his vessel he separates it from the lump with a piece of string, and places it on a bed of ashes to prevent it sticking to the ground. The wheel is either a circular disc cut out of a single piece of stone about a yard in diameter, or an ordinary wooden wheel with spokes forming two diameters at right angles. The rim is then thickened with the addition of a coating of mud strengthened with fibre.6 The articles made by the potter are ordinary circular vessels or gharas used for storing and collecting water, larger ones for keeping grain, flour and vegetables, and surāhis or amphoras for drinking-water. In the manufacture of these last salt and saltpetre are mixed with the clay to make them more porous and so increase their cooling capacity. A very useful thing is the small saucer which serves as a lamp, being filled with oil on which a lighted wick is floated. These saucers resemble those found in the excavations of Roman remains. Earthen vessels are more commonly used, both for cooking and eating purposes among the people of northern India, and especially by Muhammadans, than among the Marāthas, and, as already noticed, the Kumhār caste musters strong in the north of the Province. An earthen vessel is polluted if any one of another caste takes food or drink from it and is at once discarded. On the occasion of a death all the vessels in the house are thrown away and a new set obtained, and the same measure is adopted at the Holi festival and on the occasion of an eclipse, and at various other ceremonial purifications, such as that entailed if a member of the household has had maggots in a wound. On this account cheapness is an indispensable quality in pottery, and there is no opening for the Kumhār to improve his art. Another product of the Kumhār’s industry is the chilam or pipe-bowl. This has the usual opening for inhaling the smoke but no stem, an impromptu stem being made by the hands and the smoke inhaled through it. As the chilam is not touched by the mouth, Hindus of all except the impure castes can smoke it together, passing it round, and Hindus can also smoke it with Muhammadans.It is a local belief that, if an earthen pot is filled with salt and plastered over, the rains will stop until it is opened. This device is adopted when the fall is excessive, but, on the other hand, if there is drought, the people sometimes think that the potter has used it to keep off the rain, because he cannot pursue his calling when the clay is very wet. And on occasions of a long break in the rains, they have been known to attack his shop and break all his vessels under the influence of this belief. The potter is sometimes known as Prājapati or the ‘The Creator,’ in accordance with the favourite comparison made by ancient writers of the moulding of his pots with the creation of human beings, the justice of which will be recognised by any one who watches the masses of mud on a whirling wheel growing into shapely vessels in the potter’s creating hands.6. Breeding pigs for sacrificesCertain Kumhārs as well as the Dhīmars make the breeding of pigs a means of subsistence, and they sell these pigs for sacrifices at prices varying from eight annas (8d.) to a rupee. The pigs are sacrificed by the Gonds to their god Bura Deo and by Hindus to the deity Bhainsāsur, or the buffalo demon, for the protection of the crops. Bhainsāsur is represented by a stone in the fields, and when crops are beaten down at night by the wind it is supposed that Bhainsāsur has passed over them and trampled them down. Hindus, usually of the lower castes, offer pigs to Bhainsāsur to propitiate him and preserve their crops from his ravages, but they cannot touch the impure pig themselves. What they have to do, therefore, is to pay the Kumhār the price of the pig and get him to offer it to Bhainsāsur on their behalf. The Kumhār goes to the god and sacrifices the pig and then takes the body home and eats it, so that his trade is a profitable one, while conversely to sacrifice a pig without partaking of its flesh must necessarily be bitter to the frugal Hindu mind, and this indicates the importance of the deity who is to be propitiated by the offering. The first question which arises in connection with this curious custom is why pigs should be sacrificed for the preservation of the crops; and the reason appears to be that the wild pig is the animal which, at present, mainly damages the crops.7. The goddess DemeterIn ancient Greece pigs were offered to Demeter, the corn-goddess, for the protection of the crops, and there is good reason to suppose that the conceptions of Demeter herself and the lovely Proserpine grew out of the worship of the pig, and that both goddesses were in the beginning merely the deified pig. The highly instructive passage in which Sir J. G. Frazer advances this theory is reproduced almost in full7: “Passing next to the corn-goddess Demeter, and remembering that in European folklore the pig is a common embodiment of the corn-spirit, we may now ask whether the pig, which was so closely associated with Demeter, may not originally have been the goddess herself in animal form? The pig was sacred to her; in art she was portrayed carrying or accompanied by a pig; and the pig was regularly sacrificed in her mysteries, the reason assigned being that the pig injures the corn and is therefore an enemy of the goddess. But after an animal has been conceived as a god, or a god as an animal, it sometimes happens, as we have seen, that the god sloughs off his animal form and becomes purely anthropomorphic; and that then the animal which at first had been slain in the character of the god, comes to be viewed as a victim offered to the god on the ground of its hostility to the deity; in short, that the god is sacrificed to himself on the ground that he is his own enemy. This happened to Dionysus and it may have happened to Demeter also. And in fact the rites of one of her festivals, the Thesmophoria, bear out the view that originally the pig was an embodiment of the corn-goddess herself, either Demeter or her daughter and double Proserpine. The Thesmophoria was an autumn festival celebrated by women alone in October, and appears to have represented with mourning rites the descent of Proserpine (or Demeter) into the lower world, and with joy her return from the dead. Hence the name Descent or Ascent variously applied to the first, and the name Kalligeneia (fair-born) applied to the third day of the festival. Now from an old scholium on Lucian we learn some details about the mode of celebrating the Thesmophoria, which shed important light on the part of the festival called the Descent or the Ascent. The scholiast tells us that it was customary at the Thesmophoria to throw pigs, cakes of dough, and branches of pine-trees into ‘the chasms of Demeter and Proserpine,’ which appear to have been sacred caverns or vaults. “In these caverns or vaults there were said to be serpents, which guarded the caverns and consumed most of the flesh of the pigs and dough-cakes which were thrown in. Afterwards—apparently at the next annual festival—the decayed remains of the pigs, the cakes, and the pine-branches were fetched by women called ‘drawers,’ who, after observing, rules of ceremonial purity for three days, descended into the caverns, and, frightening away the serpents by clapping their hands, brought up the remains and placed them on the altar. Whoever got a piece of the decayed flesh and cakes, and sowed it with the seed-corn in his field, was believed to be sure of a good crop. “To explain this rude and ancient rite the following legend was told. At the moment when Pluto carried off Proserpine, a swineherd called Eubuleus chanced to be herding his swine on the spot, and his herd was engulfed in the chasm down which Pluto vanished with Proserpine. Accordingly, at the Thesmophoria pigs were annually thrown into caverns to commemorate the disappearance of the swine of Eubuleus. It follows from this that the casting of the pigs into the vaults at the Thesmophoria formed part of the dramatic representation of Proserpine’s descent into the lower world; and as no image of Proserpine appears to have been thrown in, we may infer that the descent of the pigs was not so much an accompaniment of her descent as the descent itself, in short, that the pigs were Proserpine. Afterwards, when Proserpine or Demeter (for the two are equivalent) became anthropomorphic, a reason had to be found for the custom of throwing pigs into caverns at her festival; and this was done by saying that when Pluto carried off Proserpine, there happened to be some swine browsing near, which were swallowed up along with her. The story is obviously a forced and awkward attempt to bridge over the gulf between the old conception of the corn-spirit as a pig and the new conception of her as an anthropomorphic goddess. A trace of the older conception survived in the legend that when the sad mother was searching for traces of the vanished Proserpine, the footprints of the lost one were obliterated by the footprints of a pig; originally, we may conjecture, the footprints of the pig were the footprints of Proserpine and of Demeter herself. A consciousness of the intimate connection of the pig with the corn lurks in the legend that the swineherd Eubuleus was a brother of Triptolemus, to whom Demeter first imparted the secret of the corn. Indeed, according to one version of the story, Eubuleus himself received, jointly with his brother Triptolemus, the gift of the corn from Demeter as a reward for revealing to her the fate of Proserpine. Further, it is to be noted that at the Thesmophoria the women appear to have eaten swine’s flesh. The meal, if I am right, must have been a solemn sacrament or communion, the worshippers partaking of the body of the god.”8. Estimation of the pig in IndiaWe thus see how the pig in ancient Greece was worshipped as a corn-deity because it damaged the crops and subsequently became an anthropomorphic goddess. It is suggested that pigs are offered to Bhainsāsur by the Hindus for the same reason. But there is no Hindu deity representing the pig, this animal on the contrary being regarded as impure. It seems doubtful, however, whether this was always so. In Rājputāna on the stone which the Regent of Kotah set up to commemorate the abolition of forced taxes were carved the effigies of the sun, the moon, the cow and the hog, with an imprecation on whoever should revoke the edict.8 Colonel Tod says that the pig was included as being execrated by all classes, but this seems very doubtful. It would scarcely occur to any Hindu nowadays to associate the image of the impure pig with those of the sun, moon and cow, the representations of three of his greatest deities. Rather it gives some reason for supposing that the pig was once worshipped, and the Rājpūts still do not hold the wild boar impure, as they hunt it and eat its flesh. Moreover, Vishnu in his fourth incarnation was a boar. The Gonds regularly offer pigs to their great god Bura Deo, and though they now offer goats as well, this seems to be a later innovation. The principal sacrifice of the early Romans was the Suovetaurilia or the sacrifice of a pig, a ram and a bull. The order of the words, M. Reinach remarks,9 is significant as showing the importance formerly attached to the pig or boar. Since the pig was the principal sacrificial animal of the primitive tribes, the Gonds and Baigas, its connection with the ritual of an alien and at one time hostile religion may have strengthened the feeling of aversion for it among the Hindus, which would naturally be engendered by its own dirty habits.9. The buffalo as a corn-godIt seems possible then that the Hindus reverenced the wild boar in the past as one of the strongest and fiercest animals of the forest and also as a destroyer of the crops. And they still make sacrifices of the pig to guard their fields from his ravages. These sacrifices, however, are not offered to any deity who can represent a deified pig but to Bhainsāsur, the deified buffalo. The explanation seems to be that in former times, when forests extended over most of the country, the cultivator had in the wild buffalo a direr foe than the wild pig. And one can well understand how the peasant, winning a scanty subsistence from his poor fields near the forest, and seeing his harvest destroyed in a night by the trampling of a herd of these great brutes against whom his puny weapons were powerless, looked on them as terrible and malignant deities. The sacrifice of a buffalo would be beyond the means of a single man, and the animal is now more or less sacred as one of the cow tribe. But the annual joint sacrifice of one or more buffaloes is a regular feature of the Dasahra festival and extends over a great part of India. In Betūl and other districts the procedure is that on the Dasahra day, or a day before, the Māng and Kotwār, two of the lowest village menials, take a buffalo bull and bring it to the village proprietor, who makes a cut on its nose and draws blood. Then it is taken all round the village and to the shrines of the gods, and in the evening it is killed and the Māng and Kotwār eat the flesh. It is now believed that if the blood of a buffalo does not fall at Dasahra some epidemic will attack the village, but as there are no longer any wild buffaloes except in the denser forests of one or two Districts, the original meaning of the rite might naturally have been forgotten.1010. The Dasahra festivalThe Dasahra festival probably marks the autumnal equinox and also the time when the sowing of wheat and other spring crops begins. Many Hindus still postpone sowing the wheat until after Dasahra, even though it might be convenient to begin before, especially as the festival goes by the lunar month and its date varies in different years by more than a fortnight. The name signifies the tenth day, and prior to the festival a fast of nine days is observed, when the pots of wheat corresponding to the gardens of Adonis are sown and quickly sprout up. This is an imitation of the sowing and growth of the real crop and is meant to ensure its success. During these nine days it is said that the goddess Devi was engaged in mortal combat with the buffalo demon Mahisāsur or Bhainsāsur, and on the tenth day or the Dasahra she slew him. The fast is explained as being observed in order to help her to victory, but it is really perhaps a fast in connection with the growing of the crops. A similar nine daysfast for the crops was observed by the Greeks.1111. The goddess DeviDevi signifies ‘the goddess’ par excellence. She is often the tutelary goddess of the village and of the family, and is held to have been originally Mother Earth, which may be supposed to be correct. In tracts where the people of northern and southern India meet she is identified with Anna Pūrna, the corn-goddess of the Telugu country; and in her form of Gauri or ‘the Yellow One’ she is perhaps herself the yellow corn. As Gauri she is worshipped at weddings in conjunction with Ganesh or Ganpati, the god of Good Fortune; and it is probably in honour of the harvest colour that Hindus of the upper castes wear yellow at their weddings and consider it lucky. A Brahman also prefers to wear yellow when eating his food. It has been seen12 that red is the lucky colour of the lower castes of Hindus, and the reason probably is that the shrines of their gods are stained red with the blood of the animals sacrificed. High-caste Hindus no longer make animal sacrifices, and their offerings to Siva, Vishnu and Devi consist of food, flowers and blades of corn. Thus yellow would be similarly associated with the shrines of the gods. All Hindu brides have their bodies rubbed with yellow turmeric, and the principal religious flower, the marigold, is orange-yellow. Yellow is, however, also lucky as being the colour of Vishnu or the Sun, and a yellow flag is waved above his great temple at Rāmtek on the occasion of the fair. Thus Devi as the corn-goddess perhaps corresponds to Demeter, but she is not in this form an animal goddess. The Hindus worshipping Mother Earth, as all races do in the early stage of religion, may by a natural and proper analogy have ascribed the gift of the corn to her from whom it really comes, and have identified her with the corn-goddess. This is by no means a full explanation of the goddess Devi, who has many forms. As Pārvati, the hill-maiden, and Durga, the inaccessible one, she is the consort of Siva in his character of the mountain-god of the Himalayas; as Kāli, the devourer of human flesh, she is perhaps the deified tiger; and she may have assimilated yet more objects of worship into her wide divinity. But there seems no special reason to hold that she is anywhere believed to be the deified buffalo; and the probable explanation of the Dasahra rite would therefore seem to be that the buffalo was at first venerated as the corn-god because, like the pig in Greece, he was most destructive to the crops, and a buffalo was originally slaughtered and eaten sacramentally as an act of worship. At a later period the divinity attaching to the corn was transferred to Devi, an anthropomorphic deity of a higher class, and in order to explain the customary slaughter of the buffalo, which had to be retained, the story became current that the beneficent goddess fought and slew the buffalo-demon which injured the crops, for the benefit of her worshippers, and the fast was observed and the buffalo sacrificed in commemoration of this event. It is possible that the sacrifice of the buffalo may have been a non-Aryan rite, as the Mundas still offer a buffalo to Deswāli, their forest god, in the sacred grove; and the Korwas of Sargūja nave periodical sacrifices to Kāli in which many buffaloes are slaughtered. In the pictures of her fight with Bhainsāsur, Devi is shown as riding on a tiger, and the uneducated might imagine the struggle to have resembled that between a tiger and a buffalo. As the destroyer of buffaloes and deer which graze on the crops the tiger may even be considered the cultivator’s friend. But in the rural tracts Bhainsāsur himself is still venerated in the guise of a corn-deity, and pig are perhaps offered to him as the animals which nowadays do most harm to the crops.1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Kumhār.2 Gods and demons.3 Hāth, hand and garhna to make or mould.4 Gora, white or red, applied to Europeans.5 History of the Marāthas, edition 1878, vol. i. p. 26.6 The above description is taken from the Central Provinces Monograph on Pottery and Glassware by Mr. Jowers, p. 4.7 Golden Bough, ii. pp. 299, 301.8 Rājasthān, ii. p. 524.9 Orphèus, p. 152.10 The sacrifice is now falling into abeyance, as landowners refuse to supply the buffalo.11 Dr. Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion, p. 368.12 Vide article on Lakhera.Kunbi[This article is based on the information collected for the District Gazetteers of the Central Provinces, manuscript notes furnished by Mr. A.K. Smith, C.S., and from papers by Pandit Pyāre Lāl Misra and Munshi Kanhya Lāl. The Kunbis are treated in the Poona and Khāndesh volumes of the Bombay Gazetteer. The caste has been taken as typical of the Marāthi-speaking Districts, and a fairly full description of the marriage and other ceremonies has therefore been given, some information on houses, dress and food being also reproduced from the Wardha and Yeotmal District Gazetteers.]List of Paragraphs1. Distribution of the caste and origin of name2. Settlement in the Central Provinces3. Subcastes4. The cultivating status5. Exogamus septs6. Restrictions on marriage of relatives7. Betrothal and marriage8. Polygamy and divorce9. Widow-marriage10. Customs at birth11. Sixth and twelfth day ceremonies12. Devices for procuring children13. Love charms14. Disposal of the dead15. Mourning16. Religion17. The Pola festival18. Muhammadan tendencies of Berār Kunbis19. Villages and houses20. Furniture21. Food22. Clothes and ornaments23. The Kunbi as cultivator24. Social and moral characteristics1. Distribution of the caste and origin of nameKunbi—The great agricultural caste of the Marātha country. In the Central Provinces and Berār the Kunbis numbered nearly 1,400,000 persons in 1911; they belong to the Nāgpur, Chānda, Bhandāra, Wardha, Nimār and Betūl Districts of the Central Provinces. In Berār their strength was 800,000, or nearly a third of the total population. Here they form the principal cultivating class over the whole area except in the jungles of the north and south, but muster most strongly in the Buldāna District to the west, where in some tāluks nearly half the population belongs to the Kunbi caste. In the combined Province they are the most numerous caste except the Gonds. The name has various forms in Bombay, being Kunbi or Kulambi in the Deccan, Kulwādi in the south Konkan, Kanbi in Gujarāt, and Kulbi in Belgaum. In Sanskrit inscriptions it is given as Kutumbika (householder), and hence it has been derived from kutumba, a family. A chronicle of the eleventh century quoted by Forbes speaks of the Kutumbiks or cultivators of the grāms, or small villages.1 Another writer describing the early Rājpūt dynasties says:2 “The villagers were Koutombiks (householders) or husbandmen (Karshuks); the village headmen were Putkeels (patels).” Another suggested derivation is from a Dravidian root kul a husbandman or labourer; while that favoured by the caste and their neighbours is from kun, a root, or kan grain, and bi, seed; but this is too ingenious to be probable.Group of Kunbis2. Settlement in the Central ProvincesIt is stated that the Kunbis entered Khāndesh from Gujarāt in the eleventh century, being forced to leave Gujarāt by the encroachments of Rājpūt tribes, driven south before the early Muhammadan invaders of northern India.3 From Khāndesh they probably spread into Berār and the adjoining Nāgpur and Wardha Districts. It seems probable that their first settlement in Nāgpur and Wardha took place not later than the fourteenth century, because during the subsequent period of Gond rule we find the offices of Deshmukh and Deshpāndia in existence in this area. The Deshmukh was the manager or headman of a circle of villages and was responsible for apportioning and collecting the land revenue, while the Deshpāndia was a head patwari or accountant. The Deshmukhs were usually the leading Kunbis, and the titles are still borne by many families in Wardha and Nāgpur. These offices4 belong to the Marātha country, and it seems necessary to suppose that their introduction into Wardha and Berār dates from a period at least as early as the fourteenth century, when these territories were included in the dominions of the Bahmani kings of Bījapur. A subsequent large influx of Kunbis into Wardha and Nāgpur took place in the eighteenth century with the conquest of Raghūji Bhonsla and the establishment of the Marātha kingdom of Nāgpur. Traces of these separate immigrations survive in the subdivisions of the caste, which will now be mentioned.3. SubcastesThe internal structure of the Kunbi caste in the Central Provinces shows that it is a mixed occupational body recruited from different classes of the population. The Jhāre or jungly5 Kunbis are the oldest immigrants and have no doubt an admixture of Gond blood. They do not break their earthen vessels after a death in the house. With them may be classed the Mānwa Kunbis of the Nāgpur District; these appear to be a group recruited from the Mānas, a primitive tribe who were dominant in Chānda perhaps even before the advent of the Gonds. The Mānwa Kunbi women wear their cloths drawn up so as to expose the thigh like the Gonds, and have some other primitive practices. They do not employ Brāhmans at their marriages, but consult a Mahār Mohtūria or soothsayer to fix the date of the ceremony. Other Kunbis will not eat with the Mānwas, and the latter retaliate in the usual manner by refusing to accept food from them; and say that they are superior to other Kunbis because they always use brass vessels for cooking and not earthen ones. Among the other subcastes in the Central Provinces are the Khaire, who take their name from the khaīr6 or catechu tree, presumably because they formerly prepared catechu; this is a regular occupation of the forest tribes, with whom it may be supposed that the Khaire have some affinity. The Dhanoje are those who took to the occupation of tending dhan7 or small stock, and they are probably an offshoot of the Dhangar or shepherd caste whose name is similarly derived. Like the Dhangar women they wear cocoanut-shell bangles, and the Mānwa Kunbis also do this; these bangles are not broken when a child is born, and hence the Dhanojes and Mānwas are looked down on by the other subcastes, who refuse to remove their leaf-plates after a feast. The name of the Khedule subcaste may be derived from kheda a village, while another version given by Mr. Kitts8 is that it signifies ‘A beardless youth.’ The highest subcaste in the Central Provinces are the Tirole or Tilole, who now claim to be Rājpūts. They say that their ancestors came from Therol in Rājputāna, and, taking to agriculture, gradually became merged with the Kunbis. Another more probable derivation of the name is from the til or sesamum plant. The families who held the hereditary office of Deshmukh, which conferred a considerable local position, were usually members of the Tirole subcaste, and they have now developed into a sort of aristocratic branch of the caste, and marry among themselves when matches can be arranged. They do not allow the remarriage of widows nor permit their women to accompany the wedding procession. The Wāndhekars are another group which also includes some Deshmukh families, and ranks next to the Tiroles in position. Mr. Kitts records a large number of subcastes in Berār.9 Among them are some groups from northern India, as the Hindustāni, Pardesi, Dholewār, Jaiswār and Singrore; these are probably Kurmis who have settled in Berār and become amalgamated with the Kunbis. Similarly the Tailanges and Munurwārs appear to be an offshoot of the great Kāpu caste of cultivators in the Telugu country. The Wanjāri subcaste is a fairly large one and almost certainly represents a branch of the Banjāra caste of carriers, who have taken to agriculture and been promoted into the Kunbi community. The Lonhāre take their name from Lonār Mehkar, the well-known bitter lake of the Buldāna District, whose salt they may formerly have refined. The Ghātole are those who dwelt above the ghāts or passes of the Saihadri range to the south of the Berār plain. The Baone are an important subcaste both in Berār and the Central Provinces, and take their name from the phrase Bāwan Berār,10 a term applied to the province by the Mughals because it paid fifty-two lakhs of revenue, as against only eight lakhs realised from the adjoining Jhādi or hill country in the Central Provinces. In Chhindwāra is found a small local subcaste called Gādhao because they formerly kept donkeys, though they no longer do so; they are looked down on by the others who will not even take water from their hands. In Nimār is a group of Gujarāti Kunbis who are considered to have been originally Gūjars.11 Their local subdivisions are Leve and Karwa and many of them are also known as Dālia, because they made the dāl or pulse of Burhānpur, which had a great reputation under native rule. It is said that it was formerly despatched daily to Sindhia’s kitchen.4. The cultivating statusIt appears then that a Kunbi has in the past been synonymous with a cultivator, and that large groups from other castes have taken to agriculture, have been admitted into the community and usually obtained a rise in rank. In many villages Kunbis are the only ryots, while below them are the village menials and artisans, several of whom perform functions at weddings or on other occasions denoting their recognition of the Kunbi as their master or employer; and beneath these again are the impure Mahārs or labourers. Thus at a Kunbi betrothal the services of the barber and washerman must be requisitioned; the barber washes the feet of the boy and girl and places vermilion on the foreheads of the guests. The washerman spreads a sheet on the ground on which the boy and girl sit. At the end of the ceremony the barber and washerman take the bride and bridegroom on their shoulders and dance to music in the marriage-shed; for this they receive small presents. After a death has occurred at a Kunbi’s house the impurity is not removed until the barber and washerman have eaten in it. At a Kunbi’s wedding the Gurao or village priest brings the leafy branches of five trees, the mango, jāmun12 umar13 and two others and deposits them at Māroti’s temple, whence they are removed by the parents of the bride. Before a wedding again a Kunbi bride must go to the potter’s house and be seated on his wheel while it is turned round seven times for good luck. At seed-time and harvest all the village menials go to the cultivator’s field and present him with a specimen of their wares or make obeisance to him, receiving in return a small present of grain. This state of things seems to represent the primitive form of Hindu society from which the present widely ramified system, of castes may have expanded, and even now the outlines of the original structure may be discernible under all subsequent accretions.5. Exogamus septsEach subcaste has a number of exogamous septs or clans which serve as a table of affinities in regulating marriage. The vernacular term for these is kul. Some of the septs are named after natural objects or animals, others from titles or nicknames borne by the reputed founder of the group, or from some other caste to which he may have belonged, while others again are derived from the names of villages which maybe taken to have been the original home of the sept or clan. The following are some septs of the Tirole subcaste: Kole, jackal; Wānkhede, a village; Kadu, bitter; Jagthāp, famous; Kadam, a tree; Meghe, a cloud; Lohekari, a worker in iron; Ughde, a child who has been exposed at birth; Shinde, a palm-tree; Hagre, one who suffers from diarrhoea; Aglāwe, an incendiary; Kalamkār, a writer; Wāni (Bania), a caste; Sutār, a carpenter, and so on, A few of the groups of the Bāone subcaste are:—Kāntode, one with a torn ear; Dokarmāre, a killer of pigs; Lūte, a plunderer; Titarmāre, a pigeon-killer; and of the Khedule: Patre, a leaf-plate; Ghoremāre, one who killed a horse; Bāgmare, a tiger-slayer; Gadhe, a donkey; Burāde, one of the Burud or Basor caste; Nāktode, one with a broken nose, and so on. Each subcaste has a number of septs, a total of 66 being recorded for the Tiroles alone. The names of the septs confirm the hypothesis arrived at from a scrutiny of the subcastes that the Kunbis are largely recruited from the pre-Aryan or aboriginal tribes. Conclusions as to the origin of the caste can better be made in its home in Bombay, but it may be noted that in Canara, according to the accomplished author of A Naturalist on the Prowl14 the Kunbi is quite a primitive forest-dweller, who only a few years back lived by scattering his seed on patches of land burnt clear of vegetation, collecting myrobalans and other fruits, and snaring and trapping animals exactly like the Gonds and Baigas of the Central Provinces. Similarly in Nāsik it is stated that a large proportion of the Kunbi caste are probably derived from the primitive tribes15. Yet in the cultivated plains which he has so largely occupied, he is reckoned the equal in rank of the Kurmi and other cultivating castes of Hindustān, who in theory at any rate are of Aryan origin and of so high a grade of social purity that Brāhmans will take water from them. The only reasonable explanation of this rise in status appears to be that the Kunbi has taken possession of the land and has obtained the rank which from time immemorial belongs to the hereditary cultivator as a member and citizen of the village community. It is interesting to note that the Wanjāri Kunbis of Berār, who, being as already seen Banjāras, are of Rājpūt descent at any rate, now strenuously disclaim all connection with the Banjāra caste and regard their reception into the Kunbi community as a gain in status. At the same time the refusal of the Marātha Brāhmans to take water to drink from Kunbis may perhaps have been due to the recognition of their non-Aryan origin. Most of the Kunbis also eat fowls, which the cultivating castes of northern India would not usually do.6. Restrictions on marriage of relativesA man is forbidden to marry within his own sept or kul, or in that of his mother or either of his grandmothers. He may marry his wife’s younger sister but not her elder sister. Alliances between first and second cousins are also prohibited except that a sister’s son may be married to a brother’s daughter. Such marriages are also favoured by the Marātha Brāhmans and other castes, and the suitability of the match is expressed in the saying Ato ghari bhāsi sūn, or ‘At a sister’s house her brother’s daughter is a daughter-in-law.’ The sister claims it as a right and not unfrequently there are quarrels if the brother decides to give his daughter to somebody else, while the general feeling is so strongly in favour of these marriages that the caste committee sometimes imposes a fine on fathers who wish to break through the rule. The fact that in this single case the marriage of near relatives is not only permitted but considered almost as an obligation, while in all other instances it is strictly prohibited, probably points to the conclusion that the custom is a survival of the matriarchate, when a brother’s property would pass to his sister’s son. Under such a law of inheritance he would naturally desire that his heir should be united to his own daughter, and this union might gradually become customary and at length almost obligatory. The custom in this case may survive when the reasons which justified it have entirely vanished. And while formerly it was the brother who would have had reason to desire the match for his daughter, it is now the sister who insists on it for her son, the explanation being that among the Kunbis as with other agricultural castes, to whom a wife’s labour is a valuable asset, girls are expensive and a considerable price has to be paid for a bride.7. Betrothal and marriageGirls are usually married between the ages of five and eleven and boys between ten and twenty. The Kunbis still think it a mark of social distinction to have their daughters married as young as possible. The recognised bride-price is about twenty rupees, but much larger sums are often paid. The boy’s father goes in search of a girl to be married to his son, and when the bride-price has been settled and the match arranged the ceremony of Māngni or betrothal takes place. In the first place the boy’s father proceeds to his future daughter-in-law’s house, where he washes her feet, smears her forehead with red powder and gives her a present of a rupee and some sweetmeats. All the party then eat together. This is followed by a visit of the girl’s father to the boy’s house where a similar ceremony is enacted and the boy is presented with a cocoanut, a pagri and cloth, and a silver or gold ring. Again the boy’s relatives go to the girl’s house and give her more valuable presents of jewellery and clothing. A Brāhman is afterwards consulted to fix the date of the marriage, but the poorer Kunbis dispense with his services as he charges two or three rupees. Prior to the ceremony the bodies of the bride and bridegroom are well massaged with vegetable oil and turmeric in their respective houses, partly with a view to enhance their beauty and also perhaps to protect them during the trying period of the ceremony when maleficent spirits are particularly on the alert. The marriage-shed is made of eleven poles festooned with leaves, and inside it are placed two posts of the sāleh (Boswellia serrata) or umar (Ficus glomerata) tree, one longer than the other, to represent the bride and bridegroom. Two jars filled with water are set near the posts, and a small earthen platform called baola is made. The bridegroom wears a yellow or white dress, and has a triangular frame of bamboo covered with tinsel over his forehead, which is known as bāsing and is a substitute for the maur or marriage-crown of the Hindustāni castes. Over his shoulder he carries a pickaxe as the representative implement of husbandry with one or two wheaten cakes tied to it. This is placed on the top of the marriage-shed and at the end of the five days’ ceremonies the members of the families eat the dried cakes with milk, no outsider being allowed to participate. The barāt or wedding procession sets out for the bride’s village, the women of the bridegroom’s family accompanying it except among the Tirole Kunbis, who forbid the practice in order to demonstrate their higher social position. It is received on the border of the girl’s village by her father and his friends and relatives, and conducted to the janwāsa or temporary lodging prepared for it, with the exception of the bridegroom, who is left alone before the shrine of Māroti or Hanumān. The bridegroom’s father goes to the marriage-shed where he washes the bride’s feet and gives her another present of clothes, and her relatives then proceed to Māroti’s temple where they worship and make offerings, and return bringing the bridegroom with them. As he arrives at the marriage pavilion he touches it with a stick, on which the bride’s brother who is seated above the shed pours down some water and is given a present of money by the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s feet are then washed by his father-in-law and he is given a yellow cloth which he wears. The couple are made to stand on two wooden planks opposite each other with a curtain between them, the bridegroom facing east and the bride west, holding some Akshata or rice covered with saffron in their hands. As the sun sets the officiating Brāhman gets on to the roof of the house and repeats the marriage texts from there. At his signal the couple throw the rice over each other, the curtain between them is withdrawn, and they change their seats. The assembled party applaud and the marriage proper is over. The Brāhman marks their foreheads with rice and turmeric and presses them together. He then seats them on the earthen platform or baola, and ties their clothes together, this being known as the Brahma Gānthi or Brāhman’s knot. The wedding usually takes place on the day after the arrival of the marriage procession and another two days are consumed in feasting and worshipping the deities. When the bride and bridegroom return home after the wedding one of the party waves a pot of water round their heads and throws it away at a little distance on the ground, and after this some grain in the same manner. This is a provision of food and drink to any evil spirits who may be hovering round the couple, so that they may stop to consume it and refrain from entering the house. The expenses of the bride’s family may vary from Rs. 60 to Rs. 100 and those of the bridegroom’s from Rs. 160 to Rs. 600. A wedding carried out on a lavish scale by a well-to-do man is known as Lāl Biāh or a red marriage, but when the parties are poor the expenses are curtailed and it is then called Safed Biāh or a white marriage. In this case the bridegroom’s mother does not accompany the wedding procession and the proceedings last only two days. The bride goes back with the wedding procession for a few days to her husband’s house and then returns home. When she arrives at maturity her parents give a feast to the caste and send her to her husband’s house, this occasion being known as Bolvan (the calling). The Karwa Kunbis of Nimār have a peculiar rule for the celebration of marriages. They have a guru or priest in Gujarāt who sends them a notice once in every ten or twelve years, and in this year only marriages can be performed. It is called Singhast ki sāl and is the year in which the planet Guru (Jupiter) comes into conjunction with the constellation Sinh (Leo). But the Karwas themselves think that there is a large temple in Gujarāt with a locked door to which there is no key. But once in ten or twelve years the door unlocks of itself, and in that year their marriages are celebrated. A certain day is fixed and all the weddings are held on it together. On this occasion children from infants in arms to ten or twelve years are married, and if a match cannot be arranged for them they will have to wait another ten or twelve years. A girl child who is born on the day fixed for weddings may, however, be married twelve days afterwards, the twelfth night being called Māndo Rāt, and on this occasion any other weddings which may have been unavoidably postponed owing to a death or illness in the families may also be completed. The rule affords a loophole of escape for the victims of any such contretemps and also insures that every girl shall be married before she is fully twelve years old. Rather than not marry their daughter in the Singhast ki sāl before she is twelve the parents will accept any bridegroom, even though he be very poor or younger than the bride. This is the same year in which the celebration of marriages is forbidden among the Hindus generally. The other Kunbis have the general Hindu rule that weddings are forbidden during the four months from the 11th Asārh Sudi (June) to the 11th Kārtik Sudi (October). This is the period of the rains, when the crops are growing and the gods are said to go to sleep, and it is observed more or less as a time of abstinence and fasting. The Hindus should properly abstain from eating sugarcane, brinjals, onions, garlic and other vegetables for the whole four months. On the 12th of Kārtik the marriage of Tulsi or the basil plant with the Sāligrām or ammonite representing Vishnu is performed and all these vegetables are offered to her and afterwards generally consumed. Two days afterwards, beginning from the 14th of Kārtik, comes the Diwāli festival. In Betūl the bridal couple are seated in the centre of a square made of four plough yokes, while a leaf of the pīpal tree and a piece of turmeric are tied by a string round both their wrists. The untying of the string by the local Brāhman constitutes the essential and binding portion of the marriage. Among the Lonhāre subcaste a curious ceremony is performed after the wedding. A swing is made, and a round pestle, which is supposed to represent a child, is placed on it and swung to and fro. It is then taken off and placed in the lap of the bride, and the effect of performing this symbolical ceremony is supposed to be that she will soon become a mother.8. Polygamy and divorcePolygamy is permitted but rarely practised, a second wife being only taken if the first be childless or of bad character, or destitute of attractions. Divorce is allowed, but in some localities at any rate a divorced woman cannot marry again unless she is permitted to do so in writing by her first husband. If a girl be seduced before marriage a fine is imposed on both parties and they are readmitted to social intercourse, but are not married to each other. Curiously enough, in the Tirole and Wāndhekar, the highest subcastes, the keeping of a woman is not an offence entailing temporary exclusion from caste, whereas among the lower subcastes it is.169. Widow-marriageThe Kunbis permit the remarriage of widows, with the exception of the Deshmukh families of the Tirole subcaste who have forbidden it. If a woman’s husband dies she returns to her father’s house and he arranges her second marriage, which is called choli-pātal, or giving her new clothes. He takes a price for her which may vary from twenty-five to five hundred rupees according to the age and attractions of the woman. A widow may marry any one outside the family of her deceased husband, but she may not marry his younger brother. This union, which among the Hindustāni castes is looked upon as most suitable if not obligatory, is strictly forbidden among the Marātha castes, the reason assigned being that a wife stands in the position of a mother to her husband’s younger brothers. The contrast is curious. The ceremony of widow-marriage is largely governed by the idea of escaping or placating the wrath of the first husband’s ghost, and also of its being something to be ashamed of and contrary to orthodox Hinduism. It always takes place in the dark fortnight of the month and always at night. Sometimes no women are present, and if any do attend they must be widows, as it would be the worst of omens for a married woman or unmarried girl to witness the ceremony. This, it is thought, would lead to her shortly becoming a widow herself. The bridegroom goes to the widow’s house with his male friends and two wooden seats are set side by side. On one of these a betel-nut is placed which represents the deceased husband of the widow. The new bridegroom advances with a small wooden sword, touches the nut with its tip, and then kicks it off the seat with his right toe. The barber picks up the nut and burns it. This is supposed to lay the deceased husband’s spirit and prevent his interference with the new union. The bridegroom then takes the seat from which the nut has been displaced and the woman sits on the other side to his left. He puts a necklace of beads round her neck and the couple leave the house in a stealthy fashion and go to the husband’s village. It is considered unlucky to see them as they go away because the second husband is regarded in the light of a robber. Sometimes they stop by a stream on the way home, and, taking off the woman’s clothes and bangles, bury them by the side of the stream. An exorcist may also be called in, who will confine the late husband’s spirit in a horn by putting in some grains of wheat, and after sealing up the horn deposit it with the clothes. When a widower or widow marries a second time and is afterwards attacked by illness, it is ascribed to the illwill of their former partner’s spirit. The metal image of the first husband or wife is then made and worn as an amulet on the arm or round the neck. A bachelor who wishes to marry a widow must first go through a mock ceremony with an ākra or swallow-wort plant, as the widow-marriage is not considered a real one, and it is inauspicious for any one to die without having been properly married once. A similar ceremony must be gone through when a man is married for the third time, as it is held that if he marries a woman for the third time he will quickly die. The ākra or swallow-wort (Calotropis gigantea) is a very common plant growing on waste land with mauve or purple flowers. When cut or broken a copious milky juice exudes from the stem, and in some places parents are said to poison children whom they do not desire to keep alive by rubbing this on their lips.10. Customs at birthDuring her monthly impurity a woman stays apart and may not cook for herself nor touch anybody nor sleep on a bed made of cotton thread. As soon as she is in this condition she will untie the cotton threads confining her hair and throw them away, letting her hair hang down. This is because they have become impure. But if there is no other woman in the house and she must continue to do the household work herself, she does not throw them away until the last day.17 Similarly she must not sleep on a cotton sheet or mattress during this time because she would defile it, but she may sleep on a woollen blanket as wool is a holy material and is not defiled. At the end of the period she proceeds to a stream and purifies herself by bathing and washing her head with earth. When a woman is with child for the first time her women friends come and give her new green clothes and bangles in the seventh month; they then put her into a swing and sing songs. While she is pregnant she is made to work in the house so as not to be inactive. After the birth of a child the mother remains impure for twelve days. A woman of the Māng or Mahār caste acts as midwife, and always breaks her bangles and puts on new ones after she has assisted at a birth. If delivery is prolonged the woman is given hot water and sugar or camphor wrapped in a betel-leaf, or they put a few grains of gram into her hand and then someone takes and feeds them to a mare, as it is thought that the woman’s pregnancy has been prolonged by her having walked behind the tethering-ropes of a mare, which is twelve months in foal. Or she is given water to drink in which a Sulaimāni onyx or a rupee of Akbar’s time has been washed; in the former case the idea is perhaps that a passage will be made for the child like the hole through the bead, while the virtue of the rupee probably consists in its being a silver coin and having the image or device of a powerful king like Akbar. Or it may be thought that as the coin has passed from hand to hand for so long, it will facilitate the passage of the child from the womb. A pregnant woman must not look on a dead body or her child may be still-born, and she must not see an eclipse or the child may be born maimed. Some believe that if a child is born during an eclipse it will suffer from lung-disease; so they make a silver model of the moon while the eclipse lasts and hang it round the child’s neck as a charm. Sometimes when delivery is delayed they take a folded flower and place it in a pot of water and believe that as its petals unfold so the womb will be opened and the child born; or they seat the woman on a wooden bench and pour oil on her head, her forehead being afterwards rubbed with it in the belief that as the oil falls so the child will be born. If a child is a long time before learning to speak they give it leaves of the pīpal tree to eat, because the leaves of this tree make a noise by rustling in the wind; or a root which is very light in weight, because they think that the tongue is heavy and the quality of lightness will thus be communicated to it. Or the mother, when she has kneaded dough and washed her hands afterwards, will pour a drop or two of the water down the child’s throat. And the water which made her hands clean and smooth will similarly clear the child’s throat of the obstruction which prevented it from speaking. If a child’s neck is weak and its head rolls about they make it look at a crow perching on the house and think this will make its neck strong like the crow’s. If he cannot walk they make a little triangle on wheels with a pole called ghurghuri, and make him walk holding on to the pole. The first teeth of the child are thrown on to the roof of the house, because the rats, who have especially good and sharp teeth, live there, and it is hoped that the child’s second teeth may grow like theirs. A few grains of rice are also thrown so that the teeth may be hard and pointed like the rice; the same word, kani, being used for the end of a grain of rice and the tip of a tooth. Or the teeth are placed under a water-pot in the hope that the child’s second teeth may grow as fast as the grass does under water-pots. If a child is lean some people take it to a place where asses have lain down and rolled in ashes; they roll the child in the ashes similarly and believe that it will get fat like the asses are. Or they may lay the child in a pigsty with the same idea. People who want to injure a child get hold of its coat and lay it out in the sun to dry, in the belief that the child’s body will dry up in a similar manner. In order to avert the evil eye they burn some turmeric and juāri flour and hold the newly-born child in the smoke. It is also branded on the stomach with a burning piece of turmeric, perhaps to keep off cold. For the first day or two after birth a child is given cow’s milk mixed with water or honey and a little castor oil, and after this it is suckled by the mother. But if she is unable to nourish it a wet-nurse is called in, who may be a woman of low caste or even a Muhammadan. The mother is given no regular food for the first two days, but only some sugar and spices. Until the child is six months old its head and body are oiled every second or third day and the body is well hand-rubbed and bathed. The rubbing is meant to make the limbs supple and the oil to render the child less susceptible to cold. If a child when sitting soon after birth looks down through its legs they think it is looking for its companions whom it has left behind and that more children will be born. It is considered a bad sign if a child bites its upper teeth on its underlip; this is thought to prognosticate illness and the child is prevented from doing so as far as possible.11. Sixth and twelfth day ceremonies