Barai

Who are they?

The Barai grow and sell paan or betel vine leaf. They are also known as Tamboli (Sanskrit tambul meaning betel), Panwari (panwara, derived from the Sanskrit parna, meaning leaf) and Chaurasia (meaning four sages). Since the betel leaf is a luxury item and favored by upper castes in North India, the Barai have a good social standing.

They number around 450,000 in Uttar Pradesh and also live in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. They rank third in the four fold caste system, and are Vaishyas who are mainly peasants and traders.

Origin

Russel and Hiralal (1916), tell of a legend that the first Barai was a Brahmin (the highest Hindu caste) but as a consequence for telling lies, his sacred thread was confiscated and planted into the ground by a god. It grew into the first betel vine, which the Barai was made to tend.

Language

In Madhya Pradesh, the Barai speak Hindi and use the Devanagari script. In Uttar Pradesh, the Awadhi-Hindi dialect is used. In Bihar they speak Maithili and Chhattisgarhi in Chhattisgarh, both of which are Indo-Aryan languages.  They use Hindi to communicate with other groups. They maintain a good relationship with local artisans, Muslim communities and take an interest in the ceremonies of other communities.

What are their lives like?

Most Barai own small plots of land, bought on government loans.  They mainly grow betel leaves which are sold locally. They also grow vegetables under the sheds on which the betel vines climb.  Barai women and children also work in the fields—picking and arranging betel leaves. Some Barai rear animals, own grocery or chemist shops and work for the government or private sector. Some sell areca or betel nut, zarda (flavoured tobacco) and kaththa (catechu).

The Barai eat all meat except beef and pork. In Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh they are vegetarians. Their staples are wheat, rice, millets, maize, pulses, seasonal vegetables, fruit and milk and dairy products. They like to drink chai and khawa (a sweet made from milk), chew tobacco and paan (a mixture of spices wrapped in betel leaf). Alcohol is generally avoided.

The Barai approve of education for boys but not for girls, but cannot afford to send them especially for higher studies. The Barai go to doctors but also use indigenous medicine. They practice family planning, usually having two or three children. They have access to government schemes and irrigation facilities. They make use of subsidized loans for agriculture and to set up businesses.

Customs

At a community level, the Barai marry within their social group, however, at village and lineage levels they can marry outside their social group. Marriages are arranged and conducted by a Brahmin according to Vedic rites. Child marriages are prevalent—the bride going to her husband’s home only after she reaches puberty. This is celebrated with a ceremony called gaona. They only have one wife and a second is only allowed under certain conditions.

Symbols of marriage include a vermilion mark in the middle of the hair-parting (sindur), lacquer bangles, anklets and toe-rings. Dowries can be cash or paid in goods. It is acceptable for a wife to seek a divorce. After a divorce, children remain the father’s responsibility. Junior levirate and sororate are permitted.  Widows and widowers can remarry, but the ceremonies are kept simple.

The Barai live in both small and extended families, with an increase of in families living apart.  Property is divided among sons only, the eldest receiving a larger share under a system called jetha-bahai.  Women have a lower status to men.  The Barai’s oral traditions include folklore, folktales, and folksongs.  Folksongs are sung by men and women separately accompanied by an indigenous percussion instrument called the dholak.

The Barai have a council that looks after their welfare.   They also host community feasts.  In Madhya Pradesh, an apex council, called the Adhaksha Chaurasia Sangh, with a president and executive members, works to improve their status.

What are their beliefs?

The Barai are Hindu, and worship family deities as well as all Hindu gods such as Shiva (god of destruction), Durga (ten-armed goddess who rides a tiger and slays demons), Kali (Shiva’s wife), Vishnu (preserver) and Lakhshmi (goddess of prosperity and wife of Vishnu) among others.  Each morning, incense is burnt and prayers offered to Lakhshmi before the bamboo baskets of betel leaves, to obtain favor for the day.

The Barai also worship Nag Devta (King Cobra) and observe the Hindu festival Nag Panchami.  Legend has it that the five Pandava brothers, heroes of the ancient epic, the Mahabharata, celebrated the Ashwamedha Yagna (great horse sacrifice). They needed betel vine, but there was none found on earth. Royal messengers were sent to Vasuki, king of serpents, in the underworld. Vasuki cut the top joint of his little finger and the messengers took it back to earth and planted it. Betel vines grew from the dismembered joint. From this legend, the Barai explain why betel vines grow from cuttings and do not have any blossoms or seeds. The betel vine is called nagbel or the serpent-creeper.

On the day of Nag Panchami, in July or August, the Barai fast and offer prayers at the betel shed with flowers, coconuts and food. There they bathe and worship a stone cobra and a fowl, sheep or goat is sacrificed. No betel leaf is touched that day. A jug of milk is left near snake holes for the cobra deity to drink.  The Barai also pray before pictures of Shesa Naga (thousand-headed cobra on which Vishnu reclines), and other snake deities like Ananta (infinite) and Takshaka.   Killing snakes is not allowed.  The Barai believe they are never bitten by cobras.

Barai participate in Hindu festivals like Holi (festival of colours), Diwali (festival of lamps), Durga Puja (Durga worship) and Chhath (Sun worshipping festival).

Their religious leaders are from the Barai and the Brahmin community. Community priests lead worship of Sokha, a regional deity.  Some Barai recognised Pirs (Muslim Sufi saints) and visit their tombs to pay homage and pray for blessings. The dead are cremated. Children, persons dying of infectious diseases, and, in Uttar Pradesh, unmarried persons are buried. Purification ceremonies are performed after periods of uncleanness for deaths and births.  Other important childhood ceremonies are the first feeding of the child (annaprashan), naming (namkaran) and tonsure (mundan) of both boys and girls. They also worship ancestors.

 

59 Comments

  1. It is a very good reading materials to know about the BARAI caste and its history. However, its difficult to believe that BARAI were from Barhmins because BARAI are placed at number 3 unlike Brahmins who are at number 1

    thanks

    Reply
    • nice to read it. it is very nice imformation my caste………………………………..

      Reply
    • I need to contact no of Tamboli ssmamsge in baroda gujarat

      Reply
  2. further, the BARAI are also in NEPAL. and currently BARAI are also working as professional Human resoruces like doctors, Engineers and other civil servants.

    Reply
    • hi friend….my name is chandan chourasia….kya tum bta skte ho k chourasia ya uska koi sub caste sc me aata hai kya?

      Reply
      • hello friend chaurasia and theis sub cast never belong to sc

        Reply
  3. Its very knowledgeable facts to read about barai community.
    thanks

    Reply
  4. nice to know something awesome to know about my caste……….but we are no more only farmer and betel seller……..myself a mechanical engineer.

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    • its very true dat nowadays barai are not selling pan but the are at high post boyh in public as well as private sector.

      Reply
    • FROM WHERE YOU BELONG IF FROM BASTI UP THEN YOU ARE BARAI

      Reply
  5. nice to read it. my self is a safety professional. In the present scenario the old aged business of the chaurasiya community is taken by the upper and lower caste and most of the chaurasiya family are wondering here and there and doing other work for their livelihood. In chaurasiya community people are giving imporatnce to education and few of them are in good position in the public as well as private sector.

    Reply
  6. What a surprise !!!!! TO read more about barai thanks

    Reply
    • i want all barai family detail
      because marrige porpus.

      Reply
  7. very nice wen i am reading …the scrapis gud .nice to met guys
    byyyyyyyyyyyyyy jay mata di

    Reply
  8. nice info…
    m impressed bt our proffession… i also have a big pan n beedi cum general store shop in andheri…

    Reply
  9. dear all,
    for the knowledge purpose i wish to know whether bari, barai,tamboli,barik,are under one community.

    ramesh kumar bari (advocate)
    web co-ordinator
    akhil bhartiya bari samaj.
    website:barisamj.in
    email:[email protected]

    Reply
  10. iIt is very good to know about my caste…….

    Reply
  11. I am Lata Pratibha Madhukar, age 54 born and brought up as Barai in Nagpur. I was doing some sort of study about Barai caste. Good to have some additions in my knowledge. This caste is in Maharashtra also like above mentioning places. As per my knowledge most of the beatle vine farming was collective farming, collective ownership on pond. Today also you can find in Parsghivani, Ramtek such traditional practices are survived. Question is how to sustain them?
    I found that the caste was very much influenced by Tilak’s ideology in independence era, but my grand mother was Gandhiyan from Brahmpuri. Her husband, my grandfather (mother’s father was forest officer, then joined army, then became station Director, railway. So was my maternal uncle, he joined a job in Brahmdesh.
    Now mother’s youngest brother is in Germany, married to German woman and have 2 kids.
    As I and all my siblings got higher education because of my parent’s passion. Eventhough my father’s father was having beatle cultivation and business of selling beatle leaves and quite orthodox, my father was wanting both of sisters to be pride for the community. And today I am well known social activist, researcher and writer and my sister is well known classical singer– sandhya Deshmukh.
    Iam the first one in not only in Barai caste who have started writing mother’s name with father’s name. I dopn’t think that caste system should be continued. Hence all my siblings , my daughter, niece they had inter caste marriage.
    I found that it is difficult to break casteist attitutude. you can not choose a caste, birth, but afterward you can become a good human being. The person like me who wants to have no caste hirerchies you may think then why is interested to know about the caste where I was born. It is to understand the roots, culture,practices and traditional knowledge of the farming and business of beatal leaves. To tell other people in the country that how caste system has kept our brilliance behind in getting knowledge and other resources too. I got married with one Brahmin man in 1980 from J.P. movement but I found that inside the family he was having same values of purity and pollution. For my mother in law all the other castes than Brahmin’s were polluted one. Shedid not allow me to enter in her kitchen initially, she was not eating food with me. So I found that all of us should not have discrimination like Brahmins, because caste system in India tell each caste that it is upper than the lower one. So there should not be pride of belonging to certain caste, but should have proud to cross the hurdles, boundaries due to caste system were in our progress. This information has been proved that even though we were kept on third varna or according to Mandal in backward castes, the people without reservations in my caste openly were in the competetion, proved their merits.like one of my brother is electronic engineer, one is M.com. both of us (sisters) m.a. gold medalist. One can say the girls are restricted to education still in barai caste but such examples are there where girls have contributed in law like late Adv Rita patrange, adv Bhakti Dhorey, SEM, meera zurmure now there are elecronic engineers like Tanvi R.P. My daughter Manaswini L.R. is famous writer/ director.
    It is true that if caste, community and cultural barriers will throw out the progress/ development is never an issue. Issue is how to reach to the last one in the community who did not get these opportunities of education. so as I am concerned for each backward caste’s poor women and men I am, concerned for Barai people too.
    My experience of marrying with Brahmin man was quite bitter, because he could not stand agasinst caste discrimination against me. So after 27 years I have gone for the divorse. One of the great thing which OBC women have that marriage is not ultimate in life, it is more to live with dignity. It was great tradition we had that there was no Sati, no dowry, no burning women. And there was openness to welcome daughter back in the family if she is illtreated in in-laws family. I don’t know the reason behind this but might be because there was a certain role to everybody to play like beatle leaves farming and business at home was accomodating every one.
    I want to learn more and more.. hope that there will be healthy sharing and a group can enrich with information and knowledge.

    Reply
    • Thanks.Simply by curiosity,wanted to know about my caste -knew Barai caste is also in Maharastra but by different nomenclature.Feel sympathy for you to get divorced -because of rigidity of Brahmin’s caste system.Now Barai-also known as Chaurasias in Northern states have developed a lot(education/finacialy)Let us connect each other.My best wishes for the all Mr.Deshpandey and your successful family members.I m in Jaipur

      Reply
    • what is the title of chourasias in maharastra.

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    • I am RAJENDRA CHAURASIA staying at nagpur with my family in ramnagar area i have some
      written text about history of barai/chaurasia community you can collect from my place Iwill be happy to welcome you my cell no. is 9422109024

      Reply
      • Hi, good to read your text and to know that you have some text books on ‘Chaurasiya’.
        Could you plz send me the name of those books so that I can buy those. Also if any web address is available with you, plz swnd me that

        Reply
  12. nice ..i m read i like very nicely in my caste …i can keep in rthis summary i get knoweldege

    Reply
  13. thanks nice ..i m read i like very nicely in my caste …i can keep in rthis summary i get knoweldege

    Reply
  14. It is good to read about my caste. I hope we should support as well as motivate our peoples to do research to focus on the culture and life of barai samaz, their aborigine and transition. When all other communities are fighting for their survival & existance, we should maintain and develop our culture so that the caste would survive. Otherwise our future generations will not found anything about us & our caste BARAI

    Reply
    • Are you at Linked in and in Saint Gobain?

      Reply
  15. My name is Indrajeet Chaurasiya. I am L.I.C. agent . contect for l.i.c. insurance and types of l.i.c. work.
    i thanks for chaurasiya samaj……….

    Reply
  16. I thanks for My chaurasiya samaj. It is very true. I like is chaurasiya samaj.

    Reply
  17. I thanks for My chaurasiya samaj.
    I like is chaurasiya samaj.

    Reply
  18. Whatever is here written is true bt this community has
    Has nt only trade of pan or sm small bussiness as above writen.ok

    Reply
  19. samast swajatey bandhuwon ko holi ke pawan parv ke uplakhy me aap sabhi ko hardik subhkannaye dete huye aap sabhi se a

    Reply
  20. it is very nice information

    Reply
  21. Respected Sir

    I am very proud to my cast but pls provide

    Me my cast birth history.

    Thanks
    Ayodhya Chaurasia

    9984077000

    Reply
  22. it not a fact of subject matter…. it’s said that barai people sells beetal and madwadi people are said good in business but it’s all over now… all types of people are in each and every sectors…

    Reply
  23. It is wrong to say barai samaj only known for selling betel leaf. Nowadays they seen everywhere in the society at prestigious position. Proud to be a barai.

    Reply
  24. thanks nice ..i m read i like very nicely in my caste …i can keep in this summary i get knowledge

    Reply
  25. NICE INFORMATION GIVEN IN THE PAGE I RELY THANK FULL TO YOU

    Reply
  26. Hello… can any one confirm me weather our community “barai” is still in OBC or it got merged in EBC or SC……

    Reply
    • yes, dear A k chaurasia our community Barai is still in OBC and any citizen having income less
      than INR100000 fall under EBC

      Reply
    • Chaurasia(barai/tamoli) caste in bihar as well as in haryana come under mbc , but in up/ mp/wb/ ch. G states come under obc …….from 😃 bikash kr mandal , daltonganj , palamu ,,,,,,,contact no 8271110171 & 8987491128 👍👍👍

      Reply
  27. thanks for valuable information

    Reply
  28. Awsome info

    Reply
  29. Good details,

    Reply
    • Yes

      Reply
      • My name is braj Kishore and father name jagdish modi so I belong to chaurasia family

        Reply
  30. KYA CHAURASIA(TAMBOLI,BARAI)CASTE KO BIHAR STATE ME
    “EXETREMLY BACKWARD CASTE”(ATAYANT PICHHARA VARG) ME KAR DIYA GYA. AGAR AAPKO ISKE BARE ME KOI JANKARI HO TO PLEASE SHARE KARE.

    Reply
  31. hello. everybady i am harish chaurasiya, i am very happy yet my birth in chaurasiya so every chaurasiya i liked it, i am live in jaipur (rajasthan), i am duing final MBA in MG university,

    Reply
  32. hi i m very happy to read about my caste and i create a chaurasia page on fb i want grow my castework and i collect all information regarding our caste work religious so thanks for share this i love india plz like my page all you guys https://www.facebook.com/chaurasiya.paan

    Reply
  33. We know that we are barai OK, then we know what we practice now and that becomes our designation socially ,to a extant . Now question is , Is it possible to change the cast to superior like brahmin, can we convert to brahmin, a real brahmin means by our act , and what you think and act you are going to become like that , spiritually all these things said so try to become pure like become vegetarian, don’t sugar or containing any thing daily it’s not having any nutrition benefits but it harms and sugar is whitened by animals bone, so vegetarian will not get benefits of being vegetarian unless stop eating sugar, so for taste you can eat any 2-3 days in a month, wallk daily 40 min . Don’t be addict to any drugs like tobacco, liqueur etc all these practices if you do it makes you higher slowly and you will be shifted to a real higher in all aspects of life

    Reply
  34. Owsome..quite informative,you wrote it accurately.But one think is confusing that they are taking land on rent.I thing most of them who growing betel or not growing they have land personaly.Thank You.

    Reply
  35. It is nice post to read about my caste. I am so happy to your researched information. Thanks to you

    Reply
  36. nice post i hv proud to be a chaurasiya.

    Reply
  37. It is pleasant to read the origin of BARAI

    Reply
  38. Please correct the information about Maa Kali. She is not the wife of Shiva.

    Reply

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