Monday, September 1, 2014

44. Megh : Wuttandari/ Bambh and nomenclature of Dhair


मध्य कालीन भारतीय इतिहास में मेघ या मेघवाल शब्द लुप्त प्रायः लगता है। अगर किसी रचना या कृति में उल्लेख है तो अन्य किन्हीं सम्बोधानार्थ शब्दों में मिलता है। उन सम्बोधानार्थ शब्दों कई जगहों में 'ढेढया 'धेढ़शब्द बहुधा मेघों के लिए प्रयुक्त हुआ है। इस शब्द से संबोधित लोगों का खाका 'People of India' पुस्तक में विषय क्रमांक 400 पर हुआ है। यहाँ उस पुस्तक में दिए गए विवरण को हूबहू रखा जा रहा है-

Dhair(400)"/Dherh/Dhed-

"Under one appellation the Dhair belongs to every village community, and though an outcaste according to Hindu faith, is indispensable to all; and in every Deccan village holds a respectable station as one of the barah balooty, or village council. The Dhair also is a wutundar, or hereditary occupant and office holder, and in truth, in regard to which all particulars are transmitted from father to son. In cases of boundary disputes his evidence is very valuable, and also true, for to give false evidence in respect to it would be to court death at the hands of the local divinities. He is also an authority in reference to sites of each hereditary holder, and can point out their boundaries. The Dhair is also watchman, in a general sense of the village and its crops. He has to go his rounds at night among the fields, and warn farmers of depredations whether by men or wild animals. He has to carry letters from one village to another, and it is his office to convey the collection made in the village or town to the head receiver of the district, when he does with celerity and faithfulness. He has to remove the carcasses of dead cattle from village and obtains the horns and skin as a prerequisite. If a traveller arrives he has to procure lodgings for him, and forage and firewood, for which he received gratuity, then one of the Dhairs has to carry the travellers bagage, and act as a guide to the next village."
"For these services the Dhairs receive rent free lands, of which they divide the produce, and they can cultivate lands if they please. They have also right to a certain portion of grain or other produce from all cultivators, and certain dues at village festivals, marriages, burials, or ceremonies, in the shape of money, shoes, a turban and waistcloth, &c. As a rule the Dhairs are very industrious. They and their women alone spin the finest thread which is used for the highest class muslims, which is produced from cotton treated in a peculiar manner, and spun in a close room kept lightly watered. In some instances they weave coarse cloth, but indifferently. With all these useful qualifications, however the Dhairs are outcaste. They are not allowed to live inside a village, but have a sub rub of their own, at some little distance from, or even adjoining the walls, where they have, in many instances, their own temples, generally of Hanuman, the monkey god, or of some form of Devi or Bhawanee. They profess to follow Brahmins, by whom many of their ceremonies are performed, but they have priest of their own, who conduct sacrifices on great occasions. Formerly, under Hindoo rule, Dhairs were much oppressed; they could not decent clothing, nor take water, except from certain places, and they were obliged to carry loads without payment. This, however, is altered now. The Dhairs is free to do as he pleases, he may even send his children, if he chooses, to school. He can enlist the infantry or cavalry of the lines- and Dhairs make excellent soldiers- or into the police, and many are grooms and officers' servants. Although Dhairs are meanly clad, and look miserably poor, yet they are not infrequently very well off. They can always obtain livelyhood by work, whether in fields or at home; and their women, on gala days, are not unfrequently gaily dressed, and wear gold and silver ornaments. They are industrious as the men, both in the field and at home. Dhairs eat every thing- flesh, fowl, grain, but their ordinary food is simple, and their wives are very good look. None of them object ardent spirits; whether men or women; but their, except at some festivals, they do not drink to excess. There can be no doubt that Dhairs are descended from an aboriginal race; but what it was, how they became subject to Aryans, in the capacity they now are, there exists not even a tradition. In the population of the Central Province alone, Dhairs represent 561438 souls."


(Reference: "The people of India (A series of photographic illustrations of ) the Races and tribes of Hindustan." Edited by J. Forbes Watson and Sir John William Kaye; Volume-7, India Museum, london, 1874)

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  1. 44. Megh : Wuttandari/ Bambh and nomenclature of Dhair.

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  2. 44. Megh : Wuttandari/ Bambh and nomenclature of Dhair.

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