Barhai

Who are they?

The Barhai or Badhai are an occupational caste of carpenters and wood carvers.  They make furniture, wooden ploughs, harrows, and other agricultural tools as carpenters for village and town people.  Numbering around 4 million people, they live in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

Origin

The name Barhai is derived from the Sanskrit word vardhana or vardhika, meaning ‘cutting’. Ethnologists H.A. Rose (1919) and H.H. Risley (1891) describe the Barhai as carpenters or woodcutters. The Barhai trace their descent from the god Vishwakarma who is believed to be the all-accomplishing divine architect and carpenter who makes weapons and celestial chariots to the gods. It is believed that Vishwakarma created two groups of people- the Barhai who work in wood and the Lohar, who could work in iron.

In Uttar Pradesh (where they number 2.6 million), the Barhai are also called Chaurasia, Jangid Brahman, Khati, Kolash, Lote, Panchal and Tarkhan.  In Bihar (850,000), they are Mistry, Sharmaji, Vishwakarma and Thakur.   In Madhya Pradesh (430,000) they are known as Vishwakarma.   In Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh they are popularly known as Tarkhan.

Languages

The Barhai speak Hindi and use the Devanagari script in all these states.  Their also speak Bhojpuri, an Indo-Aryan in Bhar. In Madhya Pradesh they speak two dialects of the Indo-Aryan language which is called Pahari. They speak Punjabi in Chandigarh, with the Gurmukhi script.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Barhai continue to be carpenters.  Some have set up flourishing furniture shops in market towns and cities like Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.  In Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, they are a landowning community and practice agriculture and horticulture as a secondary occupation. The Madhya Pradesh carpenters supply wooden poles for the tents that are used at weddings.

In Punjab, the Barhai are also engaged in metallurgy and masonry in addition to carpentry. Some Barhai are daily-wage laborers while a few are in private or government service.  In heavily-forested and hilly Himachal Pradesh, many Barhai are employed by the Forestry department as laborers to cut timber.  A few educated Barhai are teachers and in the defense forces.  Political leadership has emerged at the local level.

In Chandigarh they are strict vegetarians but other Barhai eat meat except beef.  Staple cereals are rice, wheat, maize and millets, supplemented by a variety of pulses, fruit, vegetables as well as milk and dairy products. Alcohol is consumed occasionally. In Himachal Pradesh both men and women drink homemade liquor.

Literacy levels are low as they are unable to afford to send their children to school beyond secondary for boys and up to primary for girls. They use both modern and indigenous medicines and are quite open to family planning provided at least one son is born in the family. Many facilities are unavailable in the remote hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh in particular. Here, medicine men play a big part in healing the sick. The Barhai homes usually have electricity and drinking water.

Customs

The Barhai are endogamous, i.e. marriages take place only within the community.  However, they are also, exogamous at the clan (gotra) and village levels. In Himachal Pradesh, cross-cousin marriages, i.e. those with father’s sisters or mother’s brother’s children occur.  Marriages are arranged by negotiation between the parents and other elders of the two families. In Himachal Pradesh, however, it is not uncommon for a couple who fall in love to run away from their homes – usually at fairs, and this elopement is socially accepted.

Monogamy is common with the exception of barrenness, where a second marriage is socially sanctioned. To indicate she is married, a woman uses sindur (vermilion), churi (glass bangles), nose stud and toe-rings. Divorce is allowed on grounds such as maladjustment, impotency and cruelty, but it is rare.  Remarriage of widows, widowers and divorcees is permitted. The practice of dowry is prevalent and it is usually given in goods.

The Barhai live in both joint and nuclear families.  All the sons inherit the paternal property equally, except in Madhya Pradesh where the eldest receives a larger share known locally as jethassi. The eldest son succeeds the late father as the head of the household. The status of Barhai women is lower then men except in Himachal Pradesh where they enjoy almost an equal status. The women attend to all housework including, in rural areas, collecting fuel and fodder and fetching water. They do embroidery or weaving and actively participate in social and religious ceremonies.

The Barhai have a rich oral tradition of folksongs, dances and tales that they often share with other communities. They love the dholak, a double-sided drum. In Himachal Pradesh Nati is a popular folk dance which both men and women participate in.

Social control is handled by elders and respected members of the community.  In Himachal Pradesh the Barhai ask the help of their gods to resolve disputes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Barhai are mostly Hindu except for some Sikhs in Chandigarh.  Hindus worship all the major gods and goddesses of the Hinduism as well as various regional, village and family deities.  Vishwakarma is especially worshipped during the monsoons around August to September as well as at Dussehra which celebrates Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana, and Diwali (Festival of Lights) during which the Barhai also bow down to their trade implements.

In Uttar Pradesh Bhawani Devi (Mother of the World) is revered as is a family and a village deity called Dih Baba. In Bihar their family deities are Gareybaba, Benimai and Vishwakarma, while the village deities are Mahabir (Great Hero – synonym of Hanuman) and Ugra Maharaj (Fierce King – synonym of Shiva).  In Himachal Pradesh Shamsher Mahadev, Mahu Nag (Great Cobra) and Jigeshwar Mahadev are the local male deities.  In Chandigarh Guru Ram Rai and Mansa Devi (snake goddess) are specially worshipped. Some Barhai living here belong to the guru-centric, Radhasoami sect. The Barhai are superstitious. For example, in Madhya Pradesh, the sight of a mongoose and of a light-grey pigeon or dove is seen as lucky omens.

The important pilgrimage centres of the Barhai are Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Puri in Orissa that is sacred to Jagan Nath (Lord of the World and a form of Vishnu).  Pilgrimage is also made to Vrindavan, beside the Yamuna River near Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, which is sacred to Krishna. Kedarnath is a Himalayan shrine sacred to Shiva, and Badrinath is a shine in the Himalayas sacred to Vishnu. The Barhai celebrate all major Hindu festivals like Diwali, Holi, Maha Shivaratri and Durga Puja.

The Barhai engage a Brahmin priest to perform all birth, marriage and death ceremonies. The dead are cremated and the ashes immersed in a river – preferably the Ganges River which is considered holy. Both birth and death pollution for specific periods is observed. Ancestor worship is prevalent.

 

66 Comments

  1. thanks for extensive and respectful coverage on my people.

    Reply
    • Thanx for giving me my cast information……

      Reply
  2. Being Barhai i was not knowing as you tought today,thanks.

    Reply
  3. Our castemen will have to go a long way to come at par with developed castes.

    Reply
  4. We should come together.

    Reply
      • Yes I know but for our caste

        Reply
  5. Still we have not any political strength which reflects in all areas very badly. Thanks

    Reply
  6. Thanks for posting this article. This impressed me lot. Understand our caste is not much developed. We need to help them thru education. We need to encourage them for education that is only tools for development

    Reply
    • Not agree, with education we learn only ego.

      before thathat we were happy in small village.

      Reply
      • It is only your thought. And only you think so.You should know that vidhya dadati vinayam.Read and say read.

        Reply
  7. sir jee mai Bihar ka niwasi hu.mera caste Barhai hai, ye Janna chahta hu ki Barhai caste extreme backward caste me aata hai ki nahi, creamelayer me hai ya non creamlayer me hai, please reply soon.

    Reply
    • Thankq for spreading the status of our caste.. reading this article youngster may change d status of our caste in positive ways..hope it happen soon .

      Reply
    • duniya ki khabar rakhate ho ,apani nahi.koshalya aapke pas hai to caste ki kyo sochato ho.dusre ko dosh dete rahanesehi yeh sthiti aai hai.

      Reply
    • ha bilkul aap obc me ya bc me ho badhai obc me hi aate hai

      Reply
  8. muhge ye jan kar khushi huwa ki apna cast ko kis kis nam jana jata hai,

    Reply
  9. i m feeling very proud and energetic after reading this article….thanks

    Reply
    • If u r feeling good. 100% U R Great.

      Reply
  10. Thanx

    Reply
  11. Just I known our caste population is biggest but our caste not play in leadership. Why ?

    Reply
  12. I Discuss our relation ,our population 850,000, in Bihar what i do our caste

    Reply
  13. thanks for this articale .. i think this type of article should be avilable in social media or book placess so that we can improve our class and knowledge regarding our cast ….and make strong our caste for further life….

    Reply
  14. The write up is very informative and impressive.

    Reply
  15. Hi..I’m creating a Sharma (Carpenter Barhai ) group on whatsapp, please share your number if you would like to join.

    Reply
    • 9766123290br sharma

      Reply
      • I got good knowledge about badhai samaj. plz call me 00968 97367122 for friendship . This number is my watssapp number also.

        Reply
    • Gald to know about badhai
      in details. Guys add me on
      Whats App Group or send
      me your number via sms.
      My no.is 9835942555
      sonu sharma iam from jharkhand

      Reply
    • hi there im interested in your work Actually im from delhi anb belongs to sikh carpenter cast U can contact with me on my email address thanks

      Reply
      • Bhai bhaut achha laga apki bat sunkar

        Reply
    • 9718775551

      Reply
    • Glad to know such details of our caste. Wud definitely like to be part of the whats app group. Kindly add me. My no 9438917592

      Reply
  16. sbhi vishwkrma bndhuyo ko NMSKAR

    Reply
  17. Hi,
    I am from Jalna,
    Maharashtra and working with Reliance Jio as a Manager in Sales & Operation. We are arround 3000 badhai ppl living here here in Jalna and have other many relatives in Hyderabad, Pune, Bhusawal, Malkapur, Burhanpur & Khandwa. Its really very good portal where complete details are available of many communities..
    Gald to know about badhai in details. Guys add me on Whats App Group or send me your number via sms. My no.is 7757050401.

    Reply
    • Have a time?if yes call9766123290.

      Reply
    • 9910586458

      Reply
  18. Thanks for this article

    Reply
  19. Mai apne maithil bhayio se kahunga rajneeti m arakchan mango m tayar hu 9728339751 par bat kare ye aur jati k log hum se vote le jate hai palwal haryana

    Reply
    • esa hona hi chahiye hum me ekta ki kami hai

      Reply
  20. Thanks
    Posting this article for more information of our Carpentet community.

    Reply
  21. My origin is from Bihar. Plz let me know in which community do we belongs? I mean brahmin, kshyatriya, baisya, chudra or other if any?

    I am very grateful if you kindly mail me the details.

    Thanks

    Bijay Kumar Sharma

    Reply
  22. Thanks

    for this side I am from bihar but lives in siliguri west bengal
    I am very happy for this informetion that 850000 in bihar

    Reply
    • Rahaneke liye ghar nahi.Sara jaha hamara

      Reply
  23. Very grateful to you for making me enlinghten about my caste. Thanks.

    Reply
  24. I just read the above information about Barhai,Good to know information.
    Just clarification Barhai will never beg because they have skill to earn money and they are hard working.
    I am from bihar,good to know so many Barhai in Bihar.

    Reply
  25. Thanks for sharing this Report I m proud be Barhai.We have to do many things for our castes and their development.

    Reply
  26. Thanks for information,heartily thanks and agree from your report ,proud to be clans of God Vishwakarma,do lots of positive efforts for our castes and their developments

    Reply
  27. Thanks
    Posting this article for more information of our Carpenter community.

    Reply
  28. I am mukesh,
    caste – tarkhan(carpenter)
    Gotra- shandilya
    Sub caste-baryah,
    Kul devta- Guga jhahr vir chhatri chauhan

    Reply
  29. Our caste titles must be well known so we can distinguished our people.please comment on this

    Reply
    • bhai rajashthan me kitne badhai cast hai plese tell me

      Reply
  30. Very happy know about my caste badhai. Add also my no. 9957491633 into badhai group.
    I am in assam working as lecturer in physics in kvs.
    Our caste will be only uplifted by quality education. So in my family all are well educated.

    Reply
    • Bhaut achhai lagi apaki bat

      Reply
  31. sir now i m vry hpy aft getng this knowledge
    we have population
    i have rqst to all af us to do something special
    plz do promis we will teach our children

    Reply
  32. Good day, My Name is pankaj Jha & I am a lawyer. I am very gladefull & impressed for this article, but I want to know what is the difference between maithil and barhai. Please reply me on my email id. My no. is 9084720300

    Reply
  33. I am mithun kumar sharma from munger ,(bihar)8298935251

    Reply
    • thanks for given the knowledge

      Reply
  34. The article is very informative for us as most of us are not aware of ourselves and our cast origins. We should share this article to more and more among our cast friends and relatives to make them familiar with our past. This article can also be helpful to improve brotherhood among our people

    Reply
  35. My self Ranjit sharma from U.P (Ballia), as i know my sub cast is Badhai n my gotra is Bhardwaaj.But i wanted to know how can my gotra be bhardwaaj as Bhardwaaj gotra followed by bhrahmins. And carpenter can’t be brahmin. So plz clarify my doubt.

    Reply
  36. I am very glad to know my caste status and thanks a lot for providing these information.Add me in WhatsApp group. 7053714252 I am from Bihar and living in New Delhi.

    Reply
  37. Hi I m originally from bihar.im barhai.nice to know about our caste.but still few things r missing.a teacher in siliguri.jitendra kumar sharma.

    Reply
  38. sir , i am prashant kumar sharma . my cast in barahi (sharma)wood worker . my no is 9135905466. i want to life partner my cast girl . plz help me .

    Reply
  39. Hii frndz, I m D.K.Sharma from Bihar, Gaya District. My family occupation is Carpenter (Barhai). I want to know my Gotra. As somebody says that Carpenters belong with Sandilya Gotra. Is it right?? Please reply guys.

    Reply
    • Yeah.. right most of barhai cast belongs to Sandilya gotra..

      Reply

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