(Last Updated on : 16/08/2010)
Chitari caste is a caste of painters. Chiter, Chitrakar and Maharana are the other names used for Chitari caste. Chiter is the Hindustani, and Chitari is the Marathi name of the caste. Both these terms are corruptions of the Sanskrit term 'Chitrakar'. Further, it is also said that Chitari is an occupational term applied to Mochis or leather workers, who lately have adopted the profession of wall-painting. Thus, it is also said that Chitaris from the Mochis. They also claim that their ancestors were Rajputs
, whose country was taken by Akbar
. As they had no occupation, Akbar assigned them the job of making saddles and bridles for his soldiers and sheaths for their swords. Another mythological legend traces the origin of Chitari caste from Chitrarekha, a fairy skilled in painting and magic. The numbers of Chitaris are declining.
In their community, Maratha, Telugu and Hindustani groups intermarry. Members of Chitari caste wear a sacred thread. Few of them refrain from eating flesh or drinking liquor; although majority of the members do not observe these rules and restrictions. Women of Chitari caste do not accompany the wedding processions. In Chitari society, widow re-marriage is allowed. But, among the Maharanas a widow is expected to marry her late husband's younger brother, and she must remain a widow if there are none. In Mandla district, if a widow gets married to her younger brother-in-law, then half the property of her first husband goes to her finally, and half to the children of her first husband. Again, if she marries an outsider she takes the property of her first husband and children along with her.
The Chitaris are engaged in their old trade of wall-paintings and they decorate the walls of their houses with red and blue colours. But, presently they have taken to several other vocations. Like for instance, they are engaged in painting pictures on paper, make small pictures of the deities, and they also make the clay paper covered masks of monkeys and demons, which are worn by actors. Chitaris also make the artificial flowers that are used at weddings. Several other articles are also made by the members of Chitari caste like paper fans, paper globes, Chinese lanterns, and small caps of velvet. In the past, the Chitaris used to make clay idols for temples.