Chamar

Who are they?

One of the largest communities of India, they are a Scheduled Caste that has a single generic name. The name Chamar is derived from the Sanskrit charmakar (leather worker). They work with leather, making hides and shoes and bags. They were relegated to living on the outer edges of villages due to the small of rotting hides and chemicals that they were steeped in. The name Dalit (Marathi for the broken or oppressed people) is a preferred name for this community.

They are known by various names in each state and are listed along with other synonyms and subgroups. In Uttar Pradesh they are known as Raidas; in Bihar as Charmkar, Mochi or Ravidas; in Chandigarh as Jatia Chamar or Ramdasi; in Himachal Pradesh as Arya or Mochi; in Punjab as Ramdasi or Raigar; and in Haryana as Jatav or Jatia. Some of these subgroups, such as the Satnami of Madhya Pradesh, prefer not to identified with Chamars and maintain a separate identity.

They belong to a caste group of heterogeneous people who are not racially or socially homogenous. They are a conglomeration of a large number of people groups from the lowest caste regarded as untouchable according to Hindu social and religious belief. The Indian Constitution abolished the Chamar’s untouchable status and was listed in a schedule with all other lower castes (from which the term Scheduled Caste is derived) and made them eligible to receive special benefits from the government’s developmental schemes. In spite of this legislation, social stigma remains and higher castes still do not drink or eat food and water from Chamars, especially in rural areas. UP has the largest percentage (21%) and number (37 million) of the Oppressed Dalits (a collective term used for people groups considered untouchables by Hindus). The Chamar live in almost all the states of northern, central and western India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Chamar are partly urban and partly rural community, mostly living in the plains. In the past, the Chamar have been landless and known for their work in skin and hide work and agricultural labour. However, under the government’s post-independence land allotment programs, seven of the twenty-nine Chamar communities have become landholders. The Reservation policies for Scheduled Castes have enabled many Chamar to become government employees. Some other occupations include unskilled labour for daily wages or contract basis, masonry, basketry and self employment.

The Chamar play an important part in politics. In an attempt to rid themselves of caste bias and exploitation, they have united with other Dalits to form a national political party called the Bahujan Samaj Party which has takes an offensive position towards higher castes. The Party has been quite successful. One of its Chamar leaders, Ms. Mayawati, was elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1995. This was a milestone in conservative Uttar Pradesh which is traditionally ruled by the higher castes.

Although education is important to the Chamars, boys are sent to school only for a short time and leave to find work in order to support the family. Girls are generally kept home as it is socially unacceptable to extend opportunities to them that are traditionally reserved for boys. The Chamar are a dynamic community and are more likely to make use of the opportunities offered by development programs in comparison to other Dalits. Family planning is increasingly acceptable to them.

The Chamar are non-vegetarians who eat mostly pork; beef is eaten in Gujarat though it is not permitted by Hindus. Some eat carrion. Goan Chamar have a diet of fish curry and rice. Other staples are wheat, rice, barley, millet and maize.

Customs

The Chamar marry within their community but maintain exogamy at village or clan level. In Uttar Pradesh, marriages between cousins are acceptable, preferably with the daughter of a mother’s brother. Marriage is arranged by negotiation between families. Child marriages are becoming less common. Marriage symbols are vermilion on the forehead, bangles and toe-rings. A dowry is given by the bride’s family though a few Chamar pay a cash bride price. Divorce is permitted on grounds of maladjustment, adultery or cruelty. Widows and divorced women are allowed to remarry.

Chamar’s live apart from their parents and in joint families. A son is entitled to an equal share of inheritance; the oldest succeeds his father as head of the family. Daughters receive no inheritance and have a low status. In villages, the women tend domestic animals, collect cow dung and make ‘pats’ that is used as fuel and sometimes also work as laborers to contribute to the family’s income. They participate in social and religious events that relate to family and community.

Community councils exercise social control. Sentencing for includes social boycott, excommunication and cash fines. The community is rich in oral tradition and has a vast repertoire of folk-songs, sung to the accompaniment of percussion instruments.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Chamar communities are mainly Hindu but some are Buddhist and Sikh. In North India, most Hindu Chamar belong to the Raidasi sect and worship guru Ravidas, a disciple of Ramananda, who is known as a champion for promoting change for the oppressed Chamar. Other gods, family and village deities are also worshipped.

The Jatav, a subgroup of the Chamar famous for leather craftsmanship, live in the districts of Agra and Mathura and disassociate their community from other Chamar. The Jatav continue mass conversions to Buddhism since 1956, when Dr. Ambedkar, a champion for India’s disadvantaged people, embraced Buddhism. Festivals for his birth and death anniversaries are held in his honor.

In Haryana, some Chamar, influenced by Dr. Ambedkar, converted to Buddhism, while others are Christian and Sikh. Sociologists have found that despite calling themselves Buddhists, old Hindu beliefs are so ingrained that they coexist with their belief in Ambedkar and Buddha. Some Chamar communities also believe in spirits and the ‘evil eye’ and consult sorcerers. Bihari deities include Sati, and Sitala Mata, while in Goa, Ganesh and Shiva are worshipped. Most Chamar in Punjab and Chandigarh are Sikh and are called Ramdasi after Guru Ramdas the fifth Sikh Guru. They bow down before the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. The Nirankari and Radhasaomi sects advocate worship to an omnipresent Supreme Being who is without form, does away with rituals and idolatry and provides close fellowship within equals.

What Are Their Needs?

The basic needs of the Chamar are financial security and literacy. A greater need is for equal opportunity, dignity and freedom from discrimination. .

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73 Comments on "Chamar"


Guest
sanjay machawal
1 month 29 days ago
i'm sanjay machawal and i 'm proud to be chamar. but there is a problem in our DALIT SAMAJ and because of this problem, usually i keep thinking of MY DALIT SAMAJ. You know problem is that there are many castes within our dalit society (schedule caste) and these castes( like chamar , valmiki , kohli, khateek etc.) do not wants to be organise. They wants their own indentity only. Like a valmiki, he do not want to be chamar, he(valmiki) makes a group but not with chamars. what to do to involve all SC's
Guest
rks
4 days 14 hours ago
problem lies with respect for individual.Several places in north western UP even people belonging to chamar feel that valmiki are inferior to them.same way a other caste feel for chamar.It is a true situation,if you wont tell 3 kids what thier caste are,and give them equal enviornment and education,all 3 will be successful in thier life.problem is they hear from surrounding , from thier parents , relatives that this caste is bad , this caste is good.people grow,ego emerge in them.A illeterate man feel that he is superior than a learned chamar.division in any race , either human or animal is caused in order to fulfil self ego ( I m better than u).
don't worry time will change , so will situation.
Guest
Rajbir singhmar
2 months 1 day ago
My name is rajbir singhmar. I am from haryana. I proud to be chamar.
Guest
raviendra prasad
2 months 16 days ago
NO COMMENTS
Guest
Zala Motibhai
3 months 19 days ago
I am from Gujarat;I am chamar.after all we all chamar have to be united for our global identy.our first motto is to be financial freedom. &second motto is to be ruler in democracy. Jay Him &Jay Saint Rohidas(Ravidass).
Guest
mukesh
4 months 27 days ago
Jai bhim jai bharat....m proud to be chamar.....baba shahab forever....
Guest
Radhey Shyam Bodhisatava, IRS
7 months 24 days ago
We are leaving in such s society or social group where where ponga pundits or contractor of Hindu Dharm making fool in the name of religion by influencing in such a way whether educated or uneducated People worshiping Dung (Gobar) in the name of God Goverdhan and worshiping Pig (Suar) in the name of Varahawatar; but general mass or common people of this community is untouchable even in now a days. Further, India where lot of brilliant people taken birth in all community but no body was able or devise any small or big tool to abolish the nefarious cast system; except the Great Crusader of Social Justice, Reverend Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedakar, who taught us to hold our heads high in every sphere of life. Cell No.09477331136.
Guest
niharika
9 months 22 days ago
everyone is equal for God.........those are foolish........ who dicriminate ppl on basis of caste,,,,,,,god nver created caste its only by humans, there is no caste in real.......... its not caste which makes a person good or bad,,,, its the person's acts behaviour , thinking , thoughts , which makes person good , and here after reading all comnts,,,,, i m feeling great, that this comunity is doing well...... god bless u all,,,,,,, and one thing that everyone must kno,,,,,that ,,,,,,,,there. is no caste in reality......for god everyone is equal,,,,,god love those whose intention is good,,,,,,
Guest
Rajesh
11 months 7 days ago
I am a proud chamar living in Australia for over 22 years and currently working as Project Manager. I am higly qualified so too some of my relatives here working as doctors and engineers.
Guest
Riya
10 months 15 days ago
m very happy and glad seeing so many well occupied people of my community... it feels great and i am a 12th class student & want to be a doctor so that i may help my people and show others that we are no less than anyone in any means... :)
Guest
Vijay
3 months 24 days ago
am so much happy for growing SC cast in all our world and challnged to other cast i am also software engineer so proud my self and from my side any help for call me or mail [email protected]
Guest
prince arya( chamaar)
11 months 11 days ago
jai baba saheb Ki baba saheb bheemrab ambedkar ko koti koti pranaam
Guest
prince arya( chamaar)
11 months 11 days ago
jai ho shree sidh chano Bali maharaaj Ki
Guest
Vijay meenia
11 months 15 days ago
I am proud I am sech. caste but the thinking of our caste society people is very high. Now days we cannot depend on others high castes of people. In my opnion the high caste of people mainly depend on us. Mainly nowdays thinking of castes are nothing. I doesnot believe on caste tribe ita nothing its man made, and blood which I have in my body is,same wth on the body of brahmn people, on day he alsa buried and turninto soil and me also.same, so doesnot believe on caste itz man made
Guest
Simran gheera
1 year 8 hours ago
Main eh puchna chandi a k addharmi, chamar etc. Sadi cast vich kine sirname han te kehde kehde hun main apni cast te book likh rehi han te ek website bna rehi a
Guest
vinod ram
1 year 5 days ago
i proud of chamar ....
Guest
sanju kumar
1 year 1 month ago
i would like to join this communitis.
Guest
YOGESH
1 year 1 month ago
EDUCATION AND MONEY BOTH STRONG PART OF EVERY FIELD SO DO NOT SPEND TIME AND TRY TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL. IF U HAVE BOTH THE THINGS U CAN DO EVERY THING.
Guest
Amit
1 year 1 month ago
I am proud to be Chamar......
Guest
kamal kumar singh
1 year 1 month ago
I am working as superintending engineer in central govt. department after completing BE and again started my education in the age of 45. done MHRM, MBA, M.Phil (Management) from distance mode. My bosses in govt. sector always spoiled my Annual Confidential Reports so i suffered a lot in my career. due to chamar SC Communities. But i feel proud ...of the communities..
Guest
Ram Babu Bauddh
1 year 24 days ago
You may leave this kind of Dharm like Hindu, which pro-vogue caste-ism system. Buddhism is the best, accepted by Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Guest
Arjun
1 year 1 month ago
It happens many times. As Chamars is a developing community so society will always test its perverence and strength as a community. Mostly chamars are strong and skilfull community but there are many bad things also like drinking,lack of unity , lack of importance to education and lack of confidence. I am also Chamar and working with a PSU .
Guest
pradeep kori
1 year 3 months ago
I proud to be a chamar.
Guest
mahesh prabhakar
1 year 4 months ago
I proud because people of this comnity very dynamic
Guest
ROBBIN JAATAV
1 year 5 months ago
HATH LEKE HATHIYAR JADO NIKLE CHAMAAR, FIR DEKHYO PATAKA KINDE PO MITRO, AAJ VEKHDE PANGA KEDA LAU MITRON.............