(Last Updated on : 14-08-2010)
Agharia caste is the cultivating caste mainly belonging to Sambalpur District
and adjoining areas of Orissa
. They are also found in some regions of central provinces of the country. In the central region, they are found in Raigarh and Sarangarh regions and Bilaspur District
and in some areas of the Chota Nagpur region. According to some legends, it is believed that the forefathers of the Agharias were the Rajputs
who resided near Agra
. However, some of the Agharias also claim to be Somvanshi Rajputs. Agharias are basically tall, well-made, with features similar to that of Aryans and yellowish-brown complexions.
Agharia caste has two major sub-divisions namely Chhote, superior Agharias and Sarolia, mixed or inferior Agharias. The second sub-division is of mixed character. The superior Agharias will not take food or water from the other group. Several other sub-divisions like the Ratanpuria, Phuljharia and Raigarhia are those living around Ratanpur, Phuljhar and Raigarh. Further, Agharia caste is said to have around 84 gotras or exogamous sections, out of which nearly 60 groups bear the title of Patel, 18 bear the title of Naik and six that of Chaudhri. All the names of the sections are of mixed type, some are similar to those of eponymous Brahmin
gotras, as Sandilya
, Kaushik and Bharadwaja
. Others being those of some Rajput septs, such as Karchhul; while the rest are the names of plants and animals like Barah (pig), Baram (Peepul tree
), Nag (cobra), Kachhapa (tortoise), and several other local terms with different meanings. It is also believed that originally this caste consisted of a nucleus of the immigrant Rajputs.
In Agharia caste marriages within the same exogamous group and also between the first cousins are prohibited. However, in some places the marriage of a sister's son with the daughter of a brother is allowed. Child marriage takes place in Agharia society. There are some basic customs, which the Agharias need to follow. Like for instance, the bridegroom should be older than the bride. Usually, marriages are celebrated during the Magha
months. In Agharia caste, polygamy, widow re-marriage and divorce are permitted. Agharias are religious by nature and they worship Dulha Deo. Each Agharia family has a spiritual guide, who is consulted occasionally. They burn the dead and throw the ashes into a river. Agharias are considered proficient as cultivators.