Kurmis are the people who are described as a yellowish-brown coloured native, of an average height, regular build and good looks. They are the mixture of aborigines. The Kurmis can be found throughout India, from Punjab to Bengal all over. The Barwar community of Uttar Pradesh and Biharare descendents of the Kurmi. Kurmis generally speak in Kurmali, Hindi, Chattisgarhi, Marathi, Konkani, Oriya, Telegu and other south Indian languages.
Etymology of Kurmis
There are a number of theories about the etymology of the term Kurmi. It may be derived from an Indian tribal language or perhaps a Sanskrit compound term ‘krishi karmi’.
History of Kurmis
Kurmi community is said to be a sub-caste of the Kshatriya Varna. References regarding the origin of Kurmi are also found in Indian mythologies. Lord Rama had two sons Luv and Kush. The successors of Luv came to be known as lavyas and they settled in the region of Kashmir but later moved towards different parts of India. On the other hand, the successors of Kush later came to be called as Kushwahas, who settled in northern plains of the country. The Kurmi community used to be the governing bodies in the regions of Maharashtra, Sindh, Gujarat, Kashmir, and in some parts of Pakistan before the Aryan invasion. Kurmi community largely belongs to the Chhattisgarh and Jabalpur divisions.
Their name has its origin in Sanskrit Language Krishi, which means cultivation or from the word Kurma, which means the tortoise. Few Kurmis belong to Kashyap gotra, as suggested by the scholars. Kurmis are a functional caste just like the Kunbis. In some regions like Bihar, they show traces of Aryan blood. The Kurmis largely resemble the features of the Dravidian tribes. Further, some scholars suggest that it is quite difficult to distinguish a Kurmi people from a Santhal Tribe or Bhumij. The Kurmis were well-known as the cultivators and market gardeners of Mughals. The Muslim leaders offered the Kurmi people a highly low-priced rental rates for clearing the jungle and cultivating it.
Culture of Kurmis
The Kurmis are farmers apart from Punjab where they are a landless community who mostly work as gardeners for private and government institutions. They eat seasonal vegetables, fruit, milk and dairy products. Alcoholic drinks are generally not allowed. Kurmis are Hindus although some of them are Buddhists and Jains.
Marriages are generally ruled by the law of sub-group and clan. Marriages are arranged by elders of the families. Child marriages are still fairly common in some rustic areas of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In case of child marriage the gaona which means the bride’s leaving to the husband’s house takes place after she attains puberty. Glass bangles, sindur and a nose-ring are severely observed as symbols of marriage. The Kurmis have a prosperous verbal tradition of myths and folktales passed down over the generations. Women sing folk songs on favourable occasions like marriage and childbirth. The musical instruments which are usually used include the dholak, a barrel-shaped double-headed drum and the manjira with a pair of small cymbals. The All India Kshatriya Kurmi Mahasabha is the Kurmi’s nationalized level council that looks after their wellbeing.
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