(Last Updated on : 17/08/2010)
Dahait community also spelled as Dahayat community is prominent in central India. This community is having a mixed structure mainly comprising members, who are working as watchmen. This community is mostly found in Jabalpur District
and Mandla District
. It is said that Dahait caste has been derived from the associated caste of Khangars and several forest tribes. Outside the Central Province of the country, they are found in Bundelkhand
. Several legends suggest the origin of Dahait caste. According to one legend, the Dahaits and the Khangars had a common ancestor. The members also claim that their ancestors were known as Chhadidar or Darwan; and they moved to Mandla around 200 years back, during the time of Raj-Gond dynasty and Raja Nizam Shah of this place.
In Mandla region, the names of the sub-divisions of Dahait community are given as Rawatia or Rautia, Mawasi, Sonwani, Kol, and Rajwaria. Of these sub-divisions, Kol and Rajwar are separate tribes; Mawasi is generally used as a synonym for Korku, which is another tribe; Sonwani is a sept most commonly found among several primitive tribes; while Rawat is a title borne by the Gond tribe. Further, the titles Rautia and Rajwaria are also found as sub-divisions of Kol caste
and it is also quite possible that Dahaits have originated from this tribe. Some scholars suggest that the actual name Dahait is a subdivision of the Kols, and it means a 'villager,' from Dehat, meaning village. It has been stated that formerly, the Dahaits were a class of personal attendants of the Raja or king. Eventually, these servants formed themselves into a caste and came to be known as the Dahaits. Dahait caste is also known as Bhaldar and Kotwar.
The caste also has a number of exogamous groups, which are being named after animals and plants. The members worship the trees or the animals after which they have been named and they will refrain from cutting the tree, or killing that particular animal. In their community, widow re-marriage and divorce are permitted. They have several indigenous beliefs and funeral rituals. The Dahait caste is religious and worships several Hindu as well as their local deities. Dahaits also work as navvies and stonebreakers in some places of Central India.