Kalwar

Who are they?

The Kalwar, also called Kalar or Kallar, Sehore and Kalal, are traditionally a community of distillers and traders of country liquor. They are spread across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, as well as Madhya Pradesh.

The name of the community is derived from the Sanskrit word kalyapala, meaning distiller of liquor; from ancient times until the British period the Kalwar were predominantly engaged in making fermented liquor in small pot-stills.

Origin

Sir Denzel Ibbetson describes them as “notorious for enterprise, energy and obstinacy.” During British rule the right to manufacture and sell in specified circles or regions was annually auctioned at the District headquarters and the Kalwar assembled to bid for it. It was here that instances of their perseverance could often be noticed; a Kalwar brewer would bid up a license far in excess of the profits which he could hope to realise from it, rather than allow himself to be deprived of a still which he desired to retain.

William Crooke in the Tribes and Castes of North-Western India (1896) states that the Kalwar may be an offshoot of the Baniya (trader) or other similar castes belonging to the Vaishya class, the third-highest class of traders and merchants in the traditional four-fold division of Hindu society. Also, a slight physical resemblance may be traced between the Baniya and the Kalwar. The fact that some of the Kalwar are followers of Jainism – a religion, to which mainly the Baniya adhere to, adds weight to this theory.

Language

In Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal the Kalwar speak Hindi as their mother tongue and use the Devanagari script to write it. In the latter state they also speak Bengali while in Bihar they speak the Indo-Aryan language Magahi as their mother tongue and are conversant with Hindi as well.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kalwar are mostly engaged in farming, forestry, business, trade, government and private service, industrial and agricultural labour, and, to a much diminished extent, in their traditional calling of manufacture of country liquor. Quite a few of the younger educated generation, especially in West Bengal, have taken up professions in medicine, engineering, chartered and cost accountancy, teaching and administration.

The Kalwar will eat mutton, chicken, venison, fish but not beef and pork; wheat and rice are the staple cereals consumed as well as vegetables, fruits, pulses, milk and dairy products. Not surprisingly, alcoholism is a problem among their community.

The Kalwar tend to favour formal education and their literacy level on the whole is moderate. Though most of the elderly members of the community have not received any formal education the younger generation is pursuing it and in states like West Bengal their literacy levels are high. They favour modern medicine and family planning techniques as well as the use of indigenous medicines. They take part in various benefits provided by the government, like self-employment schemes, agricultural loans, as well as subsidized food grains and cooking fuel to improve their lot in life.

The Kalwar are an endogamous community (they do not marry outsiders) divided into exogamous clans, i.e. marriage outside the clan is permitted. Some of their clans or gotras in Uttar Pradesh are Durga, Batham, Gulor, Padhouya, Chamiki and Gungwar. In Bihar and West Bengal a number of lineages have been identified which indicate one’s ancestry and regulate marriage alliances.

H.H. Risley (1891) mentions no less than 140 such sections among the Kalwar of Bihar like Biyahut or Bhojpuri, Jaiswar or Ajodhyagari, Banodhia, Khalsa and Deswar. In the new state of Chhattisgarh (which was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000) the principle division of the Kalwar is that of the Dandasenas or “Stick Carriers.”

Adult marriages and monogamy are the rule within the community. Consanguineous marriages, (marriages between closely related persons) are forbidden, but junior levirate and junior sororate are permitted. Among the Kalwar of Bihar marriage alliances within the same village are not allowed. Most marriages are arranged by negotiation and a Brahmin (highest Hindu priestly caste) officiates at the ceremony. The rule of residence after marriage is patrilocal – i.e. the couple resides with or near the husband’s family. The symbols of marriage for women are vermilion in the mid-head hair parting, toe rings, coloured dot on the forehead (bindi) and black bangles. Divorce and remarriage are socially permissible except among the Biyahut Kalwar.

An interesting marriage custom prevalent among the Kalwar, particularly those living in Madhya Pradesh, is the ceremony known as “marrying the well”. This is performed before the wedding procession departs for the bride’s residence. In this ceremony, the mother or aunt of the bridegroom goes to a well and sits in its mouth with her legs hanging down inside it. She then asks the bridegroom what he will give her. In response, the bridegroom goes around the well seven times, thereby imitating the marriage ritual of circling around the sacred fire, and throws a stick of a local grass in it at each turn. Afterwards he promises her a handsome present and, being satisfied, she returns to her house.

The Kalwar mostly live in mixed-extended families. The parental property is inherited equally by all the sons, while the eldest succeeds to the deceased father’s authority. Women are relegated to a position secondary to the men but they have their specified roles in ritual, domestic and social spheres. The Kalwar have a regional caste council known as Behaut Sangh or Sammelan with a number of branches in northern and southern parts of India, as well as in Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kalwar are predominantly Hindu and worship all the deities of the wider Hindu pantheon like Vishnu, Kali, Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and Vishnu’s consort) and many others.

Many Kalwar belong to the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism that is devoted to the worship of Vishnu and his two incarnations, Rama and Krishna, with their consorts as its main deities. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu as a divine prince and icon of morality; he is also the hero of Hindu India’s most popularly revered religious epic, the Ramayana.

Some Kalwar, like the Jaiswar section, venerate a group of Muslim saints collectively known as Panch Pir (literally, “five saints”) who are also invoked by boatmen at the beginning of a voyage. In order to vex them, other sections of the Kalwar like the Biyahut and the Khairdaha take a delight in going directly against the fundamental points of the Islamic faith, by offering pigs and wine to a local deity called Goriya who is worshipped in the form of little mounds or platforms of clay and is the presiding deity of gors, meaning ‘tombs’. The pigs and wine offered at the Goriya shrines are but given to people belonging to some very low castes. They also worship Brahma Deos (the spirits of unmarried Brahmins.)

A priest from their own community performs worship, cures diseases and protects them against evil spirits, while the Brahmin priests are their sacred specialists who perform religious rites and conduct marriages. Both birth and death pollution is strictly observed for specified periods. Tonsure and first feeding of cereals are some of the birth rituals. The dead are cremated and death rituals observed. The ashes are immersed in a river, preferably the holy Ganges River.

The Kalwar observe major Hindu festivals like Janamashtami (birthday of Krishna), Navratri (festival of nine nights dedicated to the worship of various devis or goddesses, especially Durga, a form of Kali), Ramanavmi (birthday of Rama), Holi (spring festival of colours symbolising the victory of good over evil.) During Holi those who sell liquor pay homage to an earthen jar filled with the alcoholic beverage. Some Kalwar follow the atheistic religion of Jainism, while a few are adherents of Sikhism.

44 thoughts on “Kalwar

  1. In origin section , in last paragraph Kalwar has been classified as Sudras, which is not correct. Kalwar belogs to Vaish (3rd highest) class. It seems article has been written by a person who has not done proper home work and does not possesses requisite information regarding Kalwar.

    • may be the writer have taken some sleeping pills while working on this column…

    • i really shocked when i read about byahut we r known by VAISHYA.

  2. In origin heading, the word in last paragraph ” Sudras” never being said before to the kalwar caste.I hope some thing wrong. Historily the caste is known as a trader of country liquor & distiller which presented counted in the vaishya community.

  3. Kalwars a vaishya community, originated from sahasrabahoo. At the time of Parshuram Kalwars converted from kshatriya to vaishya.

  4. please say if family belongs to jaiswalchodhary in bihar/jharkhand is belongs to kalwar or khatriya?

  5. This article is far from reality and doesnot depict true profile of KALWARS. THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN STRONG UPPER CASTE COMMUNITY. Some malicious agenda is going on on web to toss ill image of kalwars and this seems to be helping it. THIS IS NOT CORRECT PROFILE AND SHOULD BE RECTIFIED OR REMOVED IMMEDIATELY.

  6. i like ur view and historical definition on kkalwar… but plz remove the word ” sudra”… we belongs to Vaishya….

  7. Kalwar/kalar/kalal are basically ‘kshatriya’ of HAIHAY-VANSH, The Haihayvanshiy kshatriy;worship SHAIV or SHIV & SHAKTI. The lord SHIV also known as ‘KALCHURYA’ i.e.destroyer of Kal’ The ‘followers of ‘KALCHURYA’ were known as KALCHURYI.The KALCHURYI latter on mis -spelled & known as KALCHURI. The HAIHAYVANSHIY KALCHURI Kshatriys ruled over the different parts of central/western /,northen/eastern &southern INDIA for centuries toghether.

    • To-day’s Kalwars are hehychatries,chandrabansi,Yadubanshi,Sahastaarjun’s,Lord KRISHNA’s,Lord BALVHADRA’s community living different part of INDIA,PAKISTAN,GERMANY. AFGHANISTAN,U.S.A.,NEPAL,and other parts of worls.

  8. Actually we are chhetriya and we are not sudra , we people are trader and is involved in trading its true…We are the origin of Balram Brother of Lord Krishna………

  9. Wrongly define as Sudra.Pl. correct this.Bhagwan Balram is our aradhya-dev .
    BALBHADRA PUJA has also been celebrated by us.

  10. Jaiswal as a community is not considered as even OBC by government and how can u say SUNDRA … and as far as trader of LIQUOR is considered i am LIKED IT … SO Please humble request EDIT word SHUDRA.

    CHEERS !!!

  11. The last paragraph has been cleaverly inseted just to create critism in the article.All will agree except the last paragraph.

  12. Hey,

    Plz correct ur language. we kalwar are not belong to sudra. We are Vaishya, doing trading. At present our education level are high and abundant and many of our people are in good position now. Request you to edit the wrong sentence as suggested by our friends in the above comments. Plz don’t spread wrong and unbaseful points.

  13. we are not belong to sudra,we are vaishaya and doing bussines so please remove wrong sentence from it .

  14. we are vaishaya communities so pl.remove “sudra’.

  15. The profile has been updated to remove the paragraph in the ‘Origin’ section referring to the Sudra caste. The researchers wish to convey their apologies for any offence or misunderstanding it may have caused.

  16. Definitely from the history it is evident that we kalwar belong to Vaishya mainly dealing with liquors (Kal).
    Thank you for correction.

  17. Firstly, What Is Hindu Caste System?

    (A) Real Ancient Hindu Caste System As Per profession of the native:

    In the olden days, Hindu Caste System was determined on the basis of the profession of the native. It was divided in four categories by our savants (i) Kshatriya, (ii) Vaishya, (iii) Brahmin and (iv) Shoodra.

    (I) KSHATRIYAS or RAJPUTS or THE KING – The Kshatriyas were those who protect the property and trade and administer society.

    (II) VAISHYA – The Vaishya were those natives who were involve in trade and pay tax to the King.

    (III) BRAHMIN – The Brahmins were those people who work for the society and were advisor to people in general. They form code of conduct for the society and were teachers. They command high respect in the society and were advisor to the king also.

    (IV) SHOODRA – The Shoodra were those people who were in service to above people and do all type of work required by them. They performed laborer work for the society such as iron smith, agriculturist, gardeners, sweepers etc.

    (B) Hindu Caste System As Per Vedic Sanatana Dharam Shastra Based On Hindu Mythology:

    Bráhmans, Kshattriyas, Vaisyás and Śúdrás are the casts: of them the three first are twice-born; all their rites, commencing with the procreative rites, and ending with those [which are gone through] where the corpse is disposed of, are with Mantras.

    Bráhmaṇs, Kshattriyas, and Vaisyás are born, first, of their mothers, and, a second time, by the girding on of the sacred thread—therefore are they declared to be twice-born.

    [Men] are to be honoured in the gradation following,—in respect of learning, conduct, years, family, property. Even a Śúdrá, if he excel in these respects, is in old age worthy of honour.

    Secondly, Who Are Kalwars?

    Kalwar

    The Kalwar (Hindi: कलवार, कलाल या कलार) is a geographical title referring to the Kalwar clan of Chandravanshi or Somvanshi Rajputs and Thakurs of Kalwar Thikana near Jaipur in Rajasthan. Kalwar Rajputs are found in Rajasthan, Punjab and other parts of North and Central India. They are also found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Middle East, Europe, USA etc.

    Kalwar Castle

    Castle Kalwar , Jaipur- is a unique heritage resort at the outskirts of Jaipur that provides an insight into rural Rajasthan, its culture and traditions as our guests mainly explore the Pink City of India. Very conveniently located on a State Highway, the Castle is just 20 minutes from Western edge of Jaipur.

    Kalwar Kashtriyas of Lunar Dynasty are kulin decendants of Aryas and are one of the oldest Rajput clans of India, who enjoy a reputation both as rulers and soldiers of India. According to ancient history, Kalwar Somvanshi or Chandravanshi Kshatriyas were once the rulers of the north central India. They belong to the lunar dynasty of the Aryarace.

    Various geographical locations referring to kalal or kalwar are present globally. Kalwars in India Mainly follow Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism.

    Kalwars Portraits as Efficient Rulers and Gallant Warriors in Ancient, Medieval and Recent History of Indian Subcontinent. Kalwar Jagirdars or Zamindars performed Mehsuli or Revenue operations. After fall of their estates some of them acquired Liquor profession.

    There are several schools of thoughts regarding this but most of them commonly believe that this was not traditional but circumstantial and comparatively recent.

    Some also believe that their acquaintance with Mewaras, Khandelwals and Chauhans of Rajasthan brought them into liquor business. Many of them are in iron ore and iron scrap processing, Hoteliers and trading business. Kulals or Kalwas of Khatik Samaj belonging to Sudra classification are also sometimes confused with Kalals but they are a different social group altogether.

    Usage of title ‘Kalwar’ or ‘Kalal’ as synonym for distillers and traders of alcohol is not appropriate. Some social groups of India traditionally engaged with alcohol distillation and trading are confused with Kalwars or Kalals which is also not appropriate.

    [email protected]

  18. Kalwar is not belonging to shudra,this classification is absolutely wrong.Kalwar belongs with VAISHYA & our aradhya dev is Balbhadra (Balram or Haldhar) & Sahastrarjun Maharaj.Everyone knows that Balram is elder of Shri Krishna.

  19. the writer of this column might have gone mad or something to describe kalwar as shudras as i think he himself have no knowledge about the structure of casteism in india…

  20. Totally agree with Abhijit Jaiswal and Kumar Kaushal. I wanna know who the hell has written this falsified article ? Bloody unlearned beggar of knowledge…
    We do offer liquior to our ancestral spirits in one of our rituals but as far as i’m concerned we do not offer pigs, you dumbo writer. We don’t even touch pigs and its the most drtiest animal for us on this planet.

  21. Byahut, Kalwars worships Lord Baldhadra as kul-dewta. Bal Bhadra is lord Balaram with HARISH in ihis hand. We are also farmers, dealing in food grains. Still in our marriages we does not take phera of agni, we take phera of HARISH. There is no question of shudra connectivity with our community.

  22. I WOULD TO KNOW THE SURNAMES OF KALWAR RESIDES IN CHHINDWARA ,MP ALSO IS DO GLYA IS GOTRA CHAUKSEY IS A SURNAME OF KALWAR

  23. Dear !!!
    You all are right at your place but reality is that KALWAR is also a title of ‘Rajput Clan’.

    The founder father of this clan of Rajputs was Kalyan Singh, one of the sons of Maharaja Prithvi Raj of Amber (later Jaipur) and Sisodia Rani (daughter of Rana Raimal of Mewar).

    History of this clan is full of velour and courage of the highest order. Kharagsen of Kalwar was one of the most trusted and valiant commanders of Mirja Raja Jai Singh (the founder of Jaipur). Karagsen was martyred in battle in the Southern Province. The name of Bhakat Singh of Kalwar finds very special mentions in the battle of Hinglaj in1728 AD and in many other battles in Aghanistan .One of the descendents of this clan, Man Singh Kilyanot, is immortalized and glorified in “Kurm Vijay” the historical recital of the battle of Mandwa- Mandol fought between then Jaipur and Bharatpur States in1767 AD.

    The castle kalwar is a great proof of Kalwar Community that belongs to Kshatriya, It has been carved out of a fort originally belonging to another clan of Rajputs, the Narukas, and won over by the present clan, the Kilyanots, in a fierce battle in the Sixteenth Century. The women folk of the Narukas commited Johar, i.e. they jumped to death in burning pyres rather than be captured alive.

    Thakur Balwant Singh commenced the construction of this Castle in 1879 AD and the construction continued for the next two generations.

    The previous Thakur, Jai Singh, was a reputed shikari turned wild life conservationists, who established and developed the game sanctuaries of Sawai Madhopur and Sariska. In keeping with family traditions the present Thakur, Mandhata Singh, has served in the Indian Army for four decades, rising to the three star rank of Lieutenant General.

  24. A nice desciption but it has omitted its reference to Haihay Kshatriyas Capital Mahesmati Pur (Maheswar) MP. Project Gotenberg on Tibes And Castes of Central Province of India is a very good reference in this connection.The Jaiswals, Ahluwalias , Chedi dynasy. Guru Gobind Singhji. and the Jats of Punjab, Great Emperor Kharavela of Kalinga have kinship with this caste. I fail to understand that why no citation has been made on this caste line in Odisha and Southern INDIA. The Shoundhik or Sundhi caste of Odisha is also of Haihay clan. They worship “Suvarnagrahee’…> Ardhanareeswar form of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati as their Ishta / Kula Devata. Most people belong to Nageswar Gotra. Seshadeba Behera, Boudh, Odisha

  25. So far Sundhis in Odisha come under OBC categry. Coming under SC categry would no doubt benefit immensely. But the Kalwars are not so much degraded to opt for SC status. It is a shame on the successors of Great Haihay Bansh to surrender to Brahminical interpolation and exploitation.

  26. Suryavanshi,chandravanshi,somavanshi,hai hai kshatriya,mewara,jaiswal,Choudhary all they same ?all of them are indulged in liquor,put their surname as kalal…but few say as they r kshatriya and some shudra…is kalwar and kalal mean same?

  27. need to unite this samaj to all india bases &find great person of samaj to improve its position

  28. Hi everybody,

    I was eager to know my gotra’s details. But reading the page and Comments Am Still Confused. Just want to Know about my Gotra Details. Each and every bit. who r We and who were our ancestor and how r we linked, with which gotra we should marry. and if that girl or boy is from different state then which gotra is to matched for BYAHUT Gotra girl/Boy. Plz Plz Reply to my post. It will be helpful for me to give this knowledge to coming generation. I am Diwesh Kumar Gupta, Gotra-Byahut, Caste-Vaisyas, Born in Orissa but Father and ancestors r from Varanasi,Uttar Pradesh.

    • All matrimonial sites are vague and see their money making business. They can”t cater to the needs of caste people. It is the community to discharge matrimonial alliances organising and sponsoring datas in a proper manner. But who has time to spare for community services?

  29. Kalwar, Kalal & Kalar words came from the word Kalchuri. Kalchuris ruled on various parts of India from 4th century to 16th century for about 1200 years. There is no other single community in India which has been able to produce such illustrious KIngs who have ruled over Indioa or a part of it for such a lon time. Kalchuris are one of the major communities of India , but divided into many clans and sections due to historical and cultural reasons. The Kalchuris were also known as Chandravanshiya Haihaya Kshatriyas. There are many vargas belongs to Kalchuri. Ahluwalia, Walia, Jayaswal, Shoundik, Shuri, Sondi, Behera, Biyahut, Saha, Shivhare, Gulhare, Choukse, Daharwal, Dandsena, Bhandari, Malviya, Pashine, Nashine, Purbiya, Tank, Mewara, Kandelwal, Pareta, Beniwal, Katariya, Katakwar, Duragkar, Khanorkar, Shaw, Shawji, Kosre, Nadar, Goud, Idiga, Ezhawa, Somvanshi, Suryavanshi, Rai, Sinha, Mahajan, Adlakhiya, Arya, Omhare, Ijardar, Karnwal, Kharidaha, Khubele, Gupta, Gopaliya, Gwalre, Gulhare, Gajendra, Jainkalar, Jhariwal, Jhadela, Tale, Dixena, Tamrakar, Dakhne, Dhanetwal, Panwar, Bhatiya, Bhamore, Mahto, Mahor, Bhoyar, Lakhe, Shivne, Sikand, Suhalka, Sawant, Sugandhi, Hatela, Hoble, Singh, Rajput and many more belongs to Kalchuri Kalal Kalar Kalwar Chandravanshiya Haihaya Kshatriya Caste. There many reputed icons in this community. Vishnu Chakra Anshavtar Bhagwan Sahasrabahuarjun, Bhagwan Balbhadra, Aiya Vaikunthar, Sardar Jassasingh Ahluwalia, Bharat Ratna Kamraj Nadar, Shri Narayan Guru, Sardar Papanna Goud, Dr. Kashiprasad Jayaswal, Gitkar Indivar, Dr Meghnad Saha, Dr Hiralal Rai were born in this community.
    Bhartiya Kalchuri Jayaswal Samvargiya Mahasabha is at present largest national organisation is working to bring all vargas under one umbrela. Any person belongs to this community can associate himself and become life member of this organisation. You can contact me 09302839322 and join this mission. At present their are only 19 Members of Parliament belongs to this community which is very less in comparison to the population of near about 7 crorers. We stronly protest the writer telling this community as Shudra. We are actualy Khatriya Rajput turned ourselves to business for our livelyhood. Yes we were the expert of making wines which were used to be administrated to the warriors and Kings.-Sanjay Kumar Jayaswal, President, Bhartiya Kalchuri Jayaswal Samvargiya Mahasabha, Sarswati Bhawan, Ashok Vihar Colony, Street No 3, Pandri, Raipur-492004 (C.G.)

  30. All jaiswals are same.Belonging to one of the oldest rajput clans they are dominant in india.They may be calling themselves as kalwars,kalars,kalals in different parts of india.Many people of this community hold big or small businesses.Also they are involved in every field.

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