(Last Updated on : 20-09-2010)
Chhipa caste is a Hindu caste residing in Northern India. They are mainly considered as cotton printers and dyers. They are known by different names in different regions of Central India. Like for instance, they are commonly called as Chhipa in the northern districts whereas in the Maratha region, they are known as Rangari or Bhaosar. In the southern part of the Central Provinces and Berar, one of the most staple crops is cotton
. Here in this region cotton weaving industry is comparatively stronger than in the northern part of Central Provinces. Thus, the numbers of dyers in this area is also numerous. The Chhipas and Rangaris do not intermarry, although no vital distinction exists between these two groups. Both have a functional origin and they pursue the same occupation. Nilgar or Nirali is a professional term applied to Chhipas or Rangaris who work as indigo cultivators; on the other hand Bhaosar is used for the Rangaris in the northern parts.
There are some legends that suggest the origin of Chhipa or Rangari caste. According to one legend, when Parasurama, incarnation of Vishnu
, was killing the Kshatriyas
, two brothers of warrior caste took shelter in a temple. Both the brothers were saved by the goddess and they were asked to adopt the profession of dyers. Rangaris are said to be the descendents of the brother called Bhaosar and the Chhipas have descended from the other brother as because he hid behind the image. Thus, their name is derived from the Hindi term 'chhipna', meaning to hide. However, other says that their name has been derived from the term chhapna, which means to print. It is said because the Chhipas print coloured patterns with wooden stamps on cotton cloths. The name Rangari is derived from the word 'rang', meaning colour. Interestingly, Chhipas provide a slightly different version of the same legend regarding their origin. According to their version, the goddess gave one of the brothers a needle and thread, and gave the other brother red betel-leaf; and asked one brother to follow the profession of a tailor and other brother to follow the occupation of a dyer. Therefore, they were called Chhipi or Shimpi and Chhipa. Further, this legend signifies a connection between the tailoring and dyeing castes of the Maratha region. It is also said that probably the dyeing and tailoring industries are of considerably later origin as compared to that of cotton-weaving. Both these are urban industries.
Chhipa caste has a several sub-divisions, namely Malaiyas, settlers from Malwa; Gujrati who come from the state of Gujarat
; Golias, those who dye cloth with colours of goli; Namdeos, who are from the sect founded by Darzi
caste; and Khatris, members of the Khatri caste who have also adopted this profession. Marriage between members with near relation, like for instance if they have a common ancestor, is prohibited. Divorce and widow remarriage are allowed in their society. They burn their dead. On the occasion of Dussehra
, Chhipas worship wooden stamps and then by offerings of coconut and flowers. Chhipas prepare sarees, floor and bed cloths. They apply a great variety of designs in different colours.