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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118 Comments on "Chamar"


Guest
Dr maruti hebballi
6 days 14 hours ago
CHAMAARS are most intelligent community,
We in Karnataka recognised by names of mochi,mochigar samagar,
I am in Associated with BUDDHIST MOVEMENTS ,,embraced Buddhism ,
I am an medical practitioner ,family Doctor.
Guest
Sachin
19 days 16 hours ago
Hi...guys i just want to say that i am proud to be a chamar and hope we progress and succeed with flying colours...jai bhim rao sir ki
Guest
Jitender Dhankhar
29 days 9 hours ago
Hello.... all of you
I am proud ... i am chamar
My little bro. In west africa
I am from rohtak Haryana
Guest
Manoj Kumar Kureel
1 month 13 days ago
Think positive. if you are able to change reverse the FOUR VARNA i.e. Shudra varna will be in top of the all four varna.. Say proudly I am Chamar.
Guest
Raj Kumar
1 month 18 days ago
Good information about CHAMARS
Guest
Amit
1 month 25 days ago
All the caste belong to schedule castes are abused by all the four varnas of Hindu as chamar. So chamar community must forward their demand to change the name of caste with other suitable word. I have visited two third of India, everywhere chamar word is being used by upper caste for all the castes come under schedule caste. Ones name of university, district, state, country , even name of person can be change then why should we not change the most hated word 'CHAMAR' with other word. Waiting for your views....
Guest
Sandeep Kumar
1 month 9 days ago
i agree with you.. .bcos upper casters use this word for whole schedule casts... it is not fare.
Guest
Naresh Ahirwar
1 month 28 days ago
Hi guys...
I also
I am engg student of bhopal m.p.
I am very glad to say that my birth is low categary caste..
My elder bro is also engg ant his also support me.
So in the world no any week person.
Change your think and make your self future...
Jai bheem...
Guest
Manoj Kumar Kureel
2 months 14 days ago
Unity is the strength of Samaj. I hope All Chamar people should be unite. And co-operate at least one person of Chamar community to grow up with mentally and economically. Hon'ble late shri Kanshiram had given an example of PEN ( Pen cap is 20% is Brahamin and other part of pen is 80% Schedule caste) if we can unite the Prime Minister will be a S.C candidate.
Guest
jaat ka balak
1 month 22 hours ago
hat chamariye
Guest
tera baap
24 days 3 hours ago
Teri bhan me land..bosdi ke.
Guest
Sunil Kumar, Bhopal
2 months 26 days ago
I appreciate the statement of Dr. Narsaiah and have no doubt the community will flourish if we have a common Social Media Platform to share views and help each other.
Guest
Dr.A.Venkat Narsaiah
3 months 2 days ago
Jairam (jagjivanram and Kansiram) and jaichamar is the slogan of Madiga-Chamar Foundation from Telangana.
We have to popularise Chamar culture, chamar identity and in future Chamar only can give corruptionfree and able administration to India
Guest
chanderbhan Ram
1 month 21 days ago
I agree totally with U Dr.Narsaiah.We should feel pride and as known unity is strength.Feeling ashamed or changing the name is not the solution .Was going through many of the sites was discouraged to know that many of our brothers are again falling in the trap laid by the brahmanical system...they are arguing that they are in higher position then others...This is what they want.As one of our brother Mr. Kureel rightly gave example of Manyawar Kanshi Ram.It is good to see that such forum is existing and we are able to express ourselves and meet our brothers to get guidance and support.Jai bhim ..
Guest
Sunil Kumar, Bhopal
2 months 26 days ago
Sir, thanks for such a appreciating words for the community.
Guest
AMIT NUNA SIRSA
3 months 11 days ago
JAI BHIM JAI BHARAT HAMARAY SABHI CHAMAR BHAIO KO
JAI GURU RAVIDAS JI MAHRAJ
Guest
JK DAS
3 months 20 days ago
HUM CHAMARON KA DHARM HAI RAVIDASIA DHARM JO SAT GURU RAVIDASJI MAHARAJ KI VICHAR DHARAON PAR ADHARIT HAI. JOIN RAVIDASIA DHARM. FOR ANY DETAILS PLEASE CALL JK DAS, 9304580149
Guest
JK DAS
3 months 20 days ago
JAI RAVIDAS
Guest
anand
3 months 24 days ago
U have used the word Dalit as a marathi word for opressed, fine!, but you have not written about the chamars in Maharashtra. if you need any information about the same please email me. I will explain to you. my id is [email protected]
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo
Guest
Nitin
4 months 18 days ago
Bhen k lode kisne keh diya ki chamar pork aur beef khate hai
Gand mai danda deke rakhte hai chamar aaj ki date mai Bhen k lodo