Dosadh

Who are they?

The Dosadh, also known as Dusad or Dusadh, are a large community of more than three million people distributed across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. They were palanquin bearers a long time ago. There are about 200,000 living in the districts of Varanasi, Mirzapur, Ghazipur, Ballia, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh of Uttar Pradesh.

Origin

H.H. Risley in The Tribes and Castes of Bengal (1891) describes the Dosadh as a degraded cultivating caste of Bihar and Chotanagpur, the members of which are largely employed as village watchmen and messengers. It is said that the army of Robert Clive, which won the decisive battle of Plessey in1757 and laid the foundation of the British Empire in India, consisted of the Dosadh. The Dosadh were known for their criminal behavior, looting and robbing travelers.

The Dosadh are registered as a Scheduled Caste under the provision of the Indian Constitution. These former ‘untouchables’ receive allowances such as reserved quotas in government jobs and higher educational institutions, lower qualifying criteria in open examinations and reserved seats in Parliament.

These people claim descent from the Kaurava prince, Dushasan, the younger brother of the main villain in the ancient and very famous Hindu mythological epic, the Mahabharata. Another account refers to their descent from Bhima, the giant brother among the heroic and noble of the five Pandava brothers ranged against the evil Kauravas in the same grand epic. Bihari Dosadh claim to be descendants of another Pandava brother, Arjuna.

They speak the Indo-Aryan language, Bhojpuri, as their mother tongue and are also conversant with Hindi, using both these languages for inter-group communication. In West Bengal they have two main subgroups, namely Patwar Dosadh, whose mother tongue is Hindi, and Gope Dosadh, who are largely concentrated in the Purulia district and whose mother tongue is the Indo-Aryan language Sadri. Also, in the southern parts of Bengal they have a comparatively better social status as they are the traditional priests of Sitala Mata (literally, “cool mother”, the goddess of smallpox).

The Dosadh accept raw and cooked food from higher castes like Brahmin, Rajput (warrior), Baniya (trader), Yadava (pastoralist) but this is not reciprocated. In fact, they cannot even participate with the Brahmin and the Rajput in Holi festivities (the spring festival of colours and general revelry). In their turn, they do not accept food and water from certain castes considered lower than them like the Dom (scavenger), Chamar (tanner) and Dharkar (rope-maker). However, a considerable degree of relaxation in inter-caste relations is gradually being discerned under the impact of constitutional safeguards as well as the processes of urbanization, democratization and secularization.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Dosadh are economically backward and are mostly landless, with only a few having small landholdings. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar most of them work as wage labourers in forests, and industries and as agricultural labourers, with the latter being their dominant vocation in Bihar. Some eke out a living by woodcutting, collecting forest produce and selling cow-dung cakes used as fuel.

In West Bengal their primary vocation is to seek alms while singing Kapila Mangal and Sitala Mangal songs. They can be identified when they are out seeking alms for they carry a special type of a small metal idol of Sitala and Lakshmi (goddess of prosperity) in a small bamboo pot, smeared with vermilion. In some families both men and women work as wage labourers but the local peasants hesitate to employ them in agricultural work because they do not have the skill to do such work; sometimes they earn their livelihood by searching for insects in the cattle of the peasants.

The literacy rate of the Dosadh is greatly below the national average. Most of the elderly members of the community are illiterate. However, they have made moderate progress in education since the independence of India. Increasingly, they now send their children to school – primarily the sons. Usually the boys drop out after the secondary level and those girls who do manage to go to school, tend to drop out after the primary level.

The Dosadh people have strong faith in the efficacy of traditional medicine for both humans and animals. They even extend their help to other communities in treating bovine diseases. However, they also use modern medicine when necessary. In general they accept family planning. Facilities like self-employment schemes under government-sponsored development programmes, electricity, banks and fair-price shops are available to them, but in areas like West Bengal they do not take advantage of this assistance.

The Dosadh eat meat but abstain from beef, while those living in West Bengal do not take pork also. Rice is their staple cereal which is supplemented with wheat, maize, barley, bajra (millet) and pulses. Seasonal vegetables and fruits as well as milk and milk products are taken. Sweets and curds are served on ceremonial occasions such as marriage ceremonies. Men consume alcoholic drinks that are either available in the local market (mostly cheap country liquor) or made at home. They are fond of rice beer, smoke bidis, and chew tobacco mixed with lime and betel leaf.

Customs

The Dosadh are an endogamous community (they do not marry outside their community) and are divided into a number of subgroups: two in West Bengal, four in Bihar and seven in Uttar Pradesh. These subgroups are further divided into exogamous clans or lineages serving to regulate marriage alliances. However, nowadays marriage within the same clan is allowed among many Dosadh, as those of West Bengal, but relatives up to four generations are avoided. Spouses are acquired through negotiation or exchange of sisters and monogamy is the norm, though a second wife is taken if the first is barren.

Married women wear a vermilion mark (sindur) and iron bangles as marriage symbols. Junior sororate and junior levirate are permitted, as is the keeping of a concubine. Both bride price and dowry are popular and are paid in cash and kind. Divorce and remarriage are allowed except in Bihar where divorce is not permissible.

The Dosadh follow the rule of male equigeniture, i.e. all the sons inherit the patrimony equally; hence succession devolves upon the eldest son. The status of women, who attend to all household chores in addition to collecting drinking water and fuel, is invariably secondary to that of men in all spheres of life. Often, the women also support the family through different domestic jobs.

The Dosadh have a traditional village caste council, in which all male members of the community participate and exercise social control. This council has a headman who is known variously as Sardar, Mahajan or Chaudhari in Uttar Pradesh. In West Bengal the village headman is known as Majhi or Mahato, where the head of the regional caste council is called Deshmandal. These positions are usually hereditary.

What are Their Beliefs?

The Dosadh are Hindus but mixed with other beliefs. There s a sacred place of their own called ‘place of Goriya’. Though they worship prominent deities like Shiva (Destroyer in the Hindu trinity), Durga (ten-armed, goddess and wife of Shiva) and Manasa Devi (snake goddess) they also worship very little known, lesser deities. Rahu (seizer) is a sinister four-armed demon that swallows the sun and the moon during eclipses. According to Hindu belief, his body was severed in two by an angry Vishnu and the lower part of Rahu’s body became a corresponding demon called Ketu, who gave birth to comets and fiery meteors. Rahu and Ketu have to be appeased to ward off evil consequences.

Goriya or Bandi Goriya is a local divinity who is worshipped in the form of little mounds or platforms of clay. Pigs and alcohol are sacrificed to the deity. Tigers are also prayed to.

The Dosadh observe festivals like Holi, Diwali (festival of lamps) and Dussehra (festival commemorating Rama’s killing of the demon king Ravana). There is a belief in evil spirits and witchcraft. A priest known as Bhagat (devotee) cures diseases using spells and charms, and protects them from harmful spirits. Family deities like Rahu and Jagdamba are also appeased by the Bhagat in the month of Aswin (sixth month of the Hindu calendar, September-October). During this time flowers and kheer (sweet and milky rice pudding) are offered to these deities.

A Brahmin priest performs rituals for births, marriages and deaths. The dead are either cremated or buried, but the Dosadh of Uttar Pradesh cremates and scatters the ashes in a river, preferably the holy Ganges River.

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122 Comments on "Dosadh"

Colin Deoki
Guest

The chronically corrupt Indian caste system was instigated by whom & for what purpose? It is demeaning, divisive, disparaging & dictatorially deficient. And millions have “fallen” for it because they’re so bent on seeking to be validated in a status driven society of unequals. Wake-up world. You’ve been “sold” a dud because some claim to be of a higher standing because they belong to a “higher caste”! How cleverly manipulative of certain quarters of society to treat their own people with such undignified disdain the same way slaves were treated to make their masters appear superior.

Rahul Paswan
Guest

i am a law student at NLU- Jodhpur. As far as i have read your views. its very convening. But what the prove. Is there even a trace of any evidence to prove all of this. I would like to put up a team. most consisting of a sociologist, a biologist who could trace origins, me being a lawyer who can see through the legal procedure and a historian so as to legitimize everything that we claim. You all should know that we need scientific evidence to prove our place. My email Id [email protected]

A V Kumar
Guest
Dear Rahul, If you google you will find the DNA analysis of Dusadhs and other castes in India. The frequency of haplogroup R1a genes among Dusadhs is very high at 40%. R1a is most frequented among brahmins about 60% and other high castes in north India and is the most prevalent haplogroup among whites/Europeans. So genetically dusadhs are very close to high castes in north India. For historical evidences, you will be aware that the history, culture and faiths of Shudras were systematically destroyed by the higher castes but several traditions are carried forward over generations. Dusadhs have been in… Read more »
Dilip kumar paswan
Guest
Dear AV kumar jiThanks for your comment and i egary about your comment I Live in Bhilai Chhattisgarh.But our neati place dist.Arwal Bihar mo.No 9926707175 I am Dusadh.esdesh ki jatiy arakshan vevstha smajh se pare hai ke akahi caste India mai one state me SC and anther state mai GEN.OBC mai mana jatha hai.FOR EXP.Dusadh casteko India keonly six state Bihar. jhairkhand;UP;Uttarkhand; orissa;WEStBengal.mai SCcaste mai mana jatha hai. Tripur;Assam. mai OBC mai aatha hai.Baki kai all state mai GEN.caste India govt. manthi hai.thokya hmai ashi Arakshan chahiy .ke another state jane maiGEN categri banjarai hai.mera yah manna hai ki kese… Read more »
A V Kumar
Guest
Dilip ji Aapki baat bhi sahi hai lekin hamare maan ne na maan ne se kya hota hai. Kurmi, Mourya, Rajbhar, Dusadh, Pasi aadi kaee jatiyan swayam ko kshatriya maanti hain lekin kya kshatriya samaj unko kshatriya maanta hai? apni jaati ko shudra se kshatriya varna me transfer karane se hame kya milega? hamara itihas to nahi badlega? adhik se adhik yahi hoga ki Dusadh kshatriya se kaalantar me shudra ban gaye. Hum kitne bhi shikshit aur dhani kyon na ban jaayen, Rajasthan ke Dusadh hamse pariwarik sambandh nahi bana sakte lekin assam, bengal, bihar aur nepal ke dusadh aapas… Read more »
A V Kumar
Guest

I have been enlightened by one of my relatives who often attends meetings of All India Dusadh Welfare Association that Dusadh do not worship Rahu, rather they are worshippers of Sun God and Rahu worship is actually “Ra” Puja and not Rahu Puja. Here “Ra” means Ravi or Sun. May I request on this forum to either support or dispute this view point that Dusadhs are Ra (Sun) worshippers and not “Rahu” worshippers. Thanks.

A V Kumar
Guest
Dilip Ji, Yeh sarvamanya hai ki jati vyavastha karm aur vyavsaay par adharit thi jo kaalaantar me janma par aadharit ho gayi. Jab Aarya is dharti par aaye to unhone anaaryon ko ya to maar diya, ya ghulam bana liya ya unko jungle me bhagne par vivash kar diya. Yah bhi ek tathya hai ki sare shudra mool nivasi nahi hain. Jo Shiksha, Raksha ya vyavsaay na karke kaarigari athwa anya chhote mote karya karne lage unhe kshudra karm karne wala athwa Shudra mana gaya jo baad me ek jati ban ke ubhari. Ho sakta hai ki Dusadh madhya yug… Read more »
Dilip kumar
Guest
Dosadh all india me only six state meBihar.Jharkhand.Up.WestBengal.Orissa.Uttarakhand.me only Sc me hai and Tripura. Assam. me OBC me hai.baki all india state me GEN.mehai Dosadh caste reail kshatriya hai.Because Goriya Baba mandir out of villageme hota hai village ke shaima ko rakasha karane klia . Rakasha only kshatriya karthe hai Goriya babawas a Dosadh caste . so Dosadh caste isa reail kshatriya hai.Regarvistaion1935 mepune pecat keanusar un casteko diya gaya hai jo Aarthik;smajik;Skshanik; rupe se kamjorhai only 1oYearskeliatha.eska mensayah nahihaike jocaste Regarvistaion me haivha chotacaste hai.yadi esha hai tho RAJSTHAN ke cm.Basundhararajshindhiya ne Barhmin;Thakur ko bhi regarvesan deya gaya hai.tho… Read more »
dkdilipkumar167@gimal.com
Guest

dl

pradipkumarpaswan
Guest

Vijay sir, please submitted proof.

vijay Bhantoo.President Rajput council
Guest
vijay Bhantoo.President Rajput council

I have gone through all comments regarding the craze to know the origin of Dusadhs. I am from Mauritius,I have visited India (Rajhastan) 3 times to inquire about m’y roots.Iam convienced that Dusadhs migrated to U.p from Meware during moghul invasion.

A V Kumar
Guest

Most Dusadhs in UP say the same thing that they migrated from Rajasthan as soldiers while fighting against the muslims and if its as late as during the mughal rules which was established 500 years ago, then my question is how did they become shudras and that too untouchable shudras. If we were truely Rajputs or Kshatriya, we would not have accepted the lesser social status in the same caste echelons.
My second question is how did we start Rahu worshipping? Do we have same culturals connects with Dusadh/Gahlout Kshatriyas of Rajasthan or we follow different cultural practices?

p k shyam
Guest

plz come in baba chauharmal mahotsav mokama tal charadih on chait purnima & feel our unitilites saury gatha .

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