(Last Updated on : 13/08/2010)
Bharbhunja caste is considered as the occupational caste of grain parchers. The name of the caste has been derived from the Sanskrit term bhrastra, meaning a frying-pan, and bharjaka, meaning a person who fries. The Bharbhunjas chiefly belong to the northern region of the country. Bharbhunja caste is said to have a mixed origin, it is also connected with the Kahars. Bharbhunja caste in Saugor claims that their ancestors were Kankubja Brahmans who were ordered to dry rice. Consequently one of their sub-castes is known as Kanbajia. Another group is called Kaitha, and they claim that their ancestors were Kayasths, who took to the profession of grain-parching. Other sub castes are the Benglah, considered as immigrants from Bengal; and Kandu. Kandu is the name of the identical caste of grain-parchers in Bengal.
Bharbhunjas have several social customs and that resemble those of other Hindu castes holding respectable positions in the society. They employ Brahmins for officiating different ceremonies like wedding, funeral, birth ceremonies, and other occasions. During the wedding ceremonies, rose coloured water and powder are speckled over the invited guests and the proceeding of the wedding is known as Phag. It is named so because it is said to have the same importance as that of Holi
festival observed in the month of Phalguna
. At the going-away or gauna ceremony, both the bride and bridegroom take their seats on wooden boards and afterwards change places. Widow re-marriage and divorce is permitted in Bharbhunja community. It is also believed that the union of any widow with the younger brother of her late husband is a suitable match; however, it is not obligatory. If a bachelor bride is getting married to a widow then firstly he has to go through the proper wedding ceremony either with an era ring or a stick and after that is united to the widow by observing the simple ritual for widow re-marriage.
The Bharbhunjas occupy an esteemed social position. Their actual occupation is parching grain and this job is mainly done by the women. That is why, in various regions, grain-parching is considered as a woman's industry. Gram and rice
, husked or unhusked, are the grains, which are commonly parched. The caste is also engaged in selling tobacco and sweetmeats and also with the manufacturing of fireworks.