(Last Updated on : 09/08/2011)
Banjara tribe is a significant caste amongst the innumerable tribes who have thronged various places of eastern India. Banjaras are considered the caste of carriers. They are the typical nomads who wonder from one place to another thus leading a life in their own terms and condition. Thus, their way of living is quite thrilling and full of adventures. What are equally colourful are their costumes. The name of Banjara tribe has been considered of great antiquity. According to scholars, the first mention of the Banjaras is found in the history of Sikandar Lodi
's attack on Dholpur in 1504 AD. The Banjaras accompanied different Muslim invaders of the country.
Origin of Banjara Tribe
The origin of the Banjara tribes is quite interesting. According to anthropologists, The Banjaras came to the Deccan following the invasion by the armies of Aurangzeb. According to some authorities, the actual Banjara lineage goes back to some 2000 years. After setting down in Rajasthan, Banjaras began to travel down to the South in the 14th century. Few even claims about their link with Mughals whom Banjara supplied stock of animals and food. Besides its close trading association with the British East India Company rulers and Tipu Sultan
Divisions of Banjara Tribe
Banjara tribes have four main divisions in Berar, namely, Mathurias, Dharis, Charans and Labhanas. The name Charan basically means wanderer. Charans have five clans - Panwar, Puri, Rathor, Jadon and Chauhan. These are the names of leading Rajput clans. Each clan of Banjara tribe has several sub-clans. Members within the same clan do intermarry. There are other divisions apart from these four main divisions. There are two Muhammadan sections in this caste namely Mukeri and Turkia.
Marriage Rituals of Banjara Tribe
Banjara marriage has been celebrated adding their social rituals in their own fervour. Liquor is dispersed freely on the first day of the wedding when the bridegroom and his relatives are welcomed at the tanda of the bride. The groom's family is cordially being welcomed by offering betel leaves and nut. At the time of marriage also special customs and norms are being followed. The couple then holds hands and does seven rounds of grain pounding with pestles. In Banjara communities, marriages are usually held in rainy season. It is because of the fact that in the dry season, they are regularly travelling. In their society, widow re-marriage is allowed. They observe various set birth and death rites. They either bury or burn the dead. Their mourning rites are not very strict.
Costume of Banjara Tribe
Culture of Banjara tribes is quite enriched. The costumes of Banjara tribe are very colourful. A Banjara woman's mode of dressing is regarded to be the most colourful as well as elaborate amongst all other tribal communities of India. A woman of Banjara tribes is quite accustomed to the costume ghagra-lehenga-choli. Ghagra is a whirling skirt made of red, black and white cotton, embellished with pieces of mirrored glass that are embroidered on it. There is a band of material around the waist that strengthens a skirt or trousers and this too is fastened with traditional stitches. The odhni (mantle), which covers the head, is quite long enough thus draping down their backs almost going as long as its feet. She rarely takes off all her bone bangles and anklets. Jewelleries become an integral part of the body. Long silver earrings are very common things to wear and also patterned cowries adorn the hairs plaits of a Banjara woman.
Culture of Banjara Tribe
Festivals are part and parcel of Banjara tribal community. Apart from celebrating few popular festivals of India like Holi
, they too fete some of their folk festivals in great enthusiasm and vigour. Ugadi is one such local festival, highly popular amongst the Banjara tribes. For these pious Banjara, religious festivals too are very popular. Family deities are revered to a great extent. They consider Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati
as their family deity. Even most of the Banjara tribes used to save quite a lot of money so that they can go for pilgrimage to the temple of the Lord of the Seven Hills popularly known as Balaji.
Since majority of Banjara tribes are Hindus, they diligently perform all the rites and rituals of the Hindus. Just like any other Indian tribal community, dance and music constitute an integral part of their celebration during festivals and also during joyful functions like marriage, New Year celebration etc. In the earlier period, these joyful fetes went for days together. However, these days the time period has been curtailed down to mere two or three days. The Banjaras eat all types of meat and drink liquor. Each caravan has a chief.
Crafts of Banjara Tribes
Art-work of Banjara tribes has got a great demand in the market of not only in various states of India and abroad as well. Quite a handful of materials including variety of materials like silver, brass, gold, cowries, ivory, animal bone and even plastic decor the wardrobes of any fashionable urbanites. The main languages spoken are Urdu language and Telugu language
. A local dialect namely, Kutni too is popular amongst a section of Banjara tribes.