Koeri

Who are they?

The Koeri, also spelled Koiri or Koiry grow fruit, vegetables, tobacco and opium for the local market. They are a large community of around 5.5 million people distributed throughout the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and West Bengal with the smallest number (100,000). In Uttar Pradesh, where they inhabit the eastern and central districts, they are also known as Mauriya and Murao, while in Bihar they are called Kushwaha. In West Bengal they live mainly in the southwestern border district of Purulia and are immigrants from the neighbouring states of Bihar and Jharkhand and were invited there by the tribal chiefs of those days.

Origin

The term Koeri denotes ‘those who cultivate the earth’. H.H. Risley, an ethnologist (1891) describes them as “a very numerous cultivating caste of Bihar and Chotanagpur.” Another ethnologist, William Crooke, wrote, the Koeri believe that they are the descendents of Kush, one of the twin sons of the much-revered Hindu god Rama. This deity, whose life story is detailed in the immensely popular and ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana, was the divine king of Ayodhya in present-day eastern Uttar Pradesh. He is worshipped as the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu trinity. He is also regarded as an unparalleled icon of moral uprightness.

Despite their attempts to trace a Kshatriya or Rajput lineage – second highest caste of warriors – the Koeri are placed in the bottom fourth caste of peasants and serfs. A social movement was initiated by a prominent leader called Manmath Koeri to identify them as Kushwaha Kshatriya but their status remains the same.

Similar to the Kurmi, also a cultivating caste, who claim descent from Rama’s other son, Luv, the Koeri have benefited immensely from laws of land reforms. Beginning in the 1950s, these reforms abolished the age-old landlord or feudal system and turned the cultivating castes into landowning castes, giving them economic independence and freeing them from subservience to Rajput castes who were their landlords.

Many Koeri are among the middle class of India today. They are a politically aggressive force in India’s caste-based politics. Under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, the Koeri have been listed in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, a listing that provides all such designated castes with affirmative action benefits such as fixed quotas in government jobs and higher education and relaxed qualifying criteria in open competitive examinations.

Language

In Uttar Pradesh the Indo-Aryan language of Bhojpuri is the mother tongue of the Koeri, while in Bihar and Jharkhand, they speak Magahi. They also speak Hindi and use the common Devanagari script to write all three languages. In West Bengal the Koeri speak a local dialect of the Bengali language and use the Bengali script.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Traditionally, the Koeri have been engaged in agriculture and horticulture. Many are landowners and also work in agriculture, industry, business and in a variety of jobs and are teachers, administrators, engineers and employed in the defense services. In fact, benefited by the reservation policies of the state governments such as Bihar and Jharkhand, the Koeri have not only become quite conspicuous in government bureaucracy, but also form significant caste clusters in many modern day professions.

The Koeri eat all meat except beef. Rice and wheat are their staple cereals, supplemented by a variety of vegetables, pulses, fruit and dairy products. Alcohol and tobacco products are consumed by men occasionally.

The Koeri have a higher literacy rate in most regions except in West Bengal where the majority remains illiterate. Both sons and daughters are educated, many to graduate and post-graduate levels. They use modern medical facilities and practice family planning. Some have benefited from rural employment generation programs sponsored by the state and central governments.

Customs

The Koeri are endogamous at the community and subgroup level and exogamous at the clan level. Where the clan distinctions are not maintained, as in Uttar Pradesh, the rule of exogamy is applied to the prohibited degrees of three ascending generations from both the father’s and mother’s sides. Some of their endogamous subgroups are the Barki Dangi, Chotki Dangi, Banaphor or Banafar, Jaruhar, Kanaujia and Gaita. The Barki Dangi holds the highest status among the subgroups. There is a trend for all these subgroups to intermarry, indicating a change to new customs. In Uttar Pradesh, in addition to the subdivisions mentioned, there is another division of the Koeri into two sects, the Vaktiwan or Baktiwan (possessing devotion) and Saktiwan (possessing power), the Vaktiwan claiming superiority.

The Koeri do not practice child marriage. Marriage is arranged by parents or elders on both sides, with the groom’s family initiating the proposal. Monogamy is the common practice and dowry is paid in both cash and kind. Residence after marriage is with or near the groom’s parents. Women apply vermilion (sindur) in the mid hair-parting and wear toe-rings as symbols of marriage. Divorce is allowed and a divorcee or widow or widower may remarry a person belonging to any group except the Barki Dangi and Chotki Dangi. Marrying one’s deceased wife’s younger sister and marrying one’s deceased husband’s younger brother is also permitted. Nuclear families are now common among the Koeri.

Only the sons inherit parental property which is shared equally, but the father’s authority is inherited either by the eldest male member in the family (as in Uttar Pradesh) or the eldest son in other states.

The Koeri have social control council in each region. In West Bengal, the caste council is divided into six smaller divisions. The Majhi is the headman of a village council while the Mahato is the presiding officer. An office bearer, called chaddar, assists the headman and the presiding officer. Punishments such as fines and excommunication are levied on those found guilty of violating established community norms. In Uttar Pradesh they settle problems within the village on an ad hoc basis.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Koeri worship most Hindu deities like goddesses Kali, Durga, Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Shiva, Rama, Mahabir (monkey god Hanuman) and others. The Koeri of West Bengal also worships other deities. They receive spiritual guidance from Vaishnavas (members of a Hindu sect devoted entirely to a highly personalised worship of Vishnu only). Some Koeri, notably those of Bihar and West Bengal, also worship Panch Pir (five Muslim saints) and offer sacrifices of crushed grain, fowl, goat and pigeon to them. They believe in witchcraft, evil spirits and superstition.

The Koeri observe most Hindu festivals like Holi (spring festival of colours), Maha Shivaratri (great night of Shiva) and Diwali (festival of lamps) and a Brahmin priest performs all sacred rituals and religious ceremonies. They cremate their dead and immerse the ashes in a river, preferably the Ganges River, but stillborn babies and children up to one year of age are usually buried. Both death and birth pollution for specified periods are observed. Ancestor worship is also common.

What Are Their Needs?

The Koeri community has made substantial progress in the improving their lives since India’s independence. They have emerged from their inherited backward class status and made good use opportunities to raise their social, economic and political standing. Some Koeri still need education, health and economic assistance.

 

74 Comments

  1. I APRECIATE YOUR WORK FOR KUSHWAHA(KOIRI) COMMUNITY OF BIHAR,JHARKHAND,WEST BENGAL & UTTAR PRADESH BUT IMPROVE WITH RIGHT RESOURCE..KUSHWAHA HAS WIDE PRESENCE IN ENTIRE COUNTRY WITH MANY SURNAME,SUB-CLAN LIKE kuchhwaha,kuchhi,murao.kasana,kushana,kaswan & pundir ets

    Reply
  2. informative and truly commendable job….indeed

    Reply
    • send me more information

      Reply
  3. There is a large population of Koiries in Assam and Tripura as well..esp in the tea gardens. They are one of the most prosperous group among the tea garden community ..

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    • hmmm its nice to hear that maurya people are really doing very well

      Reply
  4. what is the group of cast,which bc (a,b,c)

    Reply
  5. Hari Bol, Please assist…
    Information very informative. I am a South African of Indian origin. I have the following information and am searching for my family in Bharath (India). Please assist if you can with where this village is w r t the info I am providing.
    My great grand parents came to South Africa in may 1875 on the SS Gainsborough Ship – Calcutta.
    Indenture Number is 12246 Name: Tacoor Surname: Neerhoo , Caste: Koiree, Zillah Barraitch, Thanna: Barraitch, Village: Kosebhowna.
    I need to know where this village and district is please? Please email me on the following address:
    [email protected]

    Thanking you in advance,
    Mukesh Hansraj (South Africa, Durban)
    +27813943008

    Reply
    • Dear Mukesh,

      We have always known that a large number of koery/koeri were amongst those who left for south africa/mauritious/west indies/guyana etc. Welcome to the community and also invite others to be in touch with people.

      Wiki link to Bahraich disstt is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahraich_district. you can search for the vaillage in wikimapia.

      Reply
  6. Excellent information. Many-many thanks to the creator..

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  7. Woe svn good information number

    Reply
  8. We have a large community of Koeris in Mauritius who would like to keep in touch with all our brothers and sisters in India and elsehwhere.

    Please keep us posted

    Reply
  9. Please assist, Your information is very useful to me. I am a Guyanese second generation of Indian origin was born in then British Guyana. Both my grandparents came from Indian in 1906 from “District Gorukhpur” Village or Town & Mahalla “Ghaksara” I need to know where this village and district is please? The ship name is “Mersiy” from Calcutta on the 14th of August 1906.
    I have always have a desire of finding where this is and if I do have any relatives still in India.
    I find your information very informative and have always wanted to know the details that you have outlined in this article. Thank you, please email me to:-

    [email protected]

    Reply
    • @ Rajpatty Devi …I hope Ghaksara is Ghaghsara -bo-gorakhpur-273209

      Reply
  10. Murao, Koeri, Kachhi are same. What is the need to distinguish them. Kachhi is the oldest name of Shakya as there is description of Kachchhap caste in Mahabharat, Shakyamuni Buddha is called Bhadra Kachchh, his wife Yashodhara is called Bhadra Kachchha, Maha Kachchhayan was a Shakya Buddhist Monk. Maurya is the branch of Shakya. Emperor Ashok Maurya writes in his inscription that I am brother of Shakya Kshatriya. When at Kusinara (Kusinagar), Buddha got Mahaparinirvan (passed away), Maurya or Moriya Kshatriya of Pipalivan demanded his relics from Malla King and stated that Maurya are also Shakya Kshatriya. Murao and Koeri words came after establishment of great Mauryan Empire. Murao or Murai word is derived from Queen Mura, mother of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya while Koeri word is derived from King Koer (nickname of King Vishalgupta of Pipalivan), father of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. In medieval period, Kachhwah separated from them and joined Rajput caste. As per Hindu mythology, this caste is descendant of Lord Kush, son of Lord Ram so they becomes Kushwaha. All are same and are Suryawavanshi warrior caste of ancient Vedic- Buddhist era who started cultivation of vegetable crops which required more skill and knowledge of agricultural science than any other crop after fall of their kingdoms.

    Reply
    • Very nice sir.For the all round development of our community, intigerity and connectivity are must.Isomething must be done in this regard.
      Dr.B.K.Sinha
      Jabalpur,M.P.

      Reply
    • in ramayan sita is kuswhaha family becaus we r belong land sita was born by land

      Reply
  11. Wonderfull fab

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  12. Kacchis r lik me r romantic

    Reply
  13. Dear Koeri,

    If are really looking for our development we need to be united in single banner that is Kushwaha rather than being isolated in seven different castes. Till now also even though we have more intellectual people we are not noticeable.

    If we talked regarding Biharis Dangi, from all points of view they are handicapped by thought not all but most of them. I revolution is required to merge the Dangi & kushwaha & other all 5 sub cast to make a strong group & grow faster but unfortunately we don’t know when this will come.

    Abhay

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  14. At first i thanks and appreciate for this work……but wht i knw from my experiencs that wht ever we hav to change we hav to start from ourselves, no anyone will come and change our status we hav start with ourselves……and worry about why we representing ourselves as peasant and fruit growing in google why we didnt change that article….

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  15. HAPPI NEW YEAR ALL KUSHWAHA SAMAJ

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  16. Really informative piece. Can anyone please tell me what caste uses surname priyadarshee, assuming the person belongs to bihar.

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  17. Koeri in which cate..????????? SC or BC

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    • It is an OBC .

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    • get lost from here. this is not a place for casteism.

      Reply
  18. Thanks to the people group of India team for the information.Kindly extend your search all over India about the people and lik them in a proper way.

    Reply
  19. Why has wikipedia written kushwaha are shudra or lower cast ,, must reply

    Reply
  20. i am proud to be an ”maurya-aaryan-kshatriya”.i think v maurya,kushwaha,shakya and other different names of our caste should come together and show our strong presence in every aspects.hey”mauryans”…be proud to be mauryan and know about our greatest history to make our present and future greatest….yours mauryan brother…vijay

    Reply
  21. I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding
    more. Thanks for wonderful information I was looking for this
    info for my mission.

    Reply
  22. I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you
    spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a
    lot of time, there is an online tool that creates unique, google friendly articles in minutes, just search
    in google – k2seotips unlimited content

    Reply
  23. HI! friends this is very useful information for me.i am live in Ahmedabad, Gujarat . my native land
    is gaya ,Bihar.

    Reply
    • my friend i suggest you ,u attend dangi meeting and also reade dangi related books.read novel(Virata ki padhivini-writer vrinda van lal varma) bhartiye vangmaye me dangwe sanskrti our samaj.

      Reply
  24. Dangi cast is very smart and powerfull cast .

    Reply
    • DANGI IS NOT A CAST.IF U’LL GO IN HISTORY OUR RELIGION START FROM DANGI.HISTORYIAN RAMESH CHAND SARKAR TOLD THAT 58 YEAR B.C. IS REALY DRANGIAN SAMWAT AFTER IT KING VIKARMADIT CHANGED IT IN VIKARMSAMWAT.VIKRAMADIT IS ALSO A DANGI WHO IS RELATED WITH KING UDAYAN DANGI.SAMARAT ASHOK MATHER IS ALSO A DANGI NAME SUBH DANGI.TO MUCH LONG HIS HISTORY HAVE BUT HERE I CAN’T EXPLANE.SO, I REQUEST EVERYBODY DON’T CHANGE HISTORY(DANGI OR MOURYA IS KUSHWAHA),KACHHWAHA RAJPUT IS ALSO A PART OF DANGI(KUSHAWAHA IS NOT SAME TO KACHHWAHA).REST IS FOR NEXT.

      Reply
  25. Hi,
    Friends
    I am Neeraj Shakya from Badaun U.P.(shakya, maurya ,kushwaha, murao ,kachi ) we r many
    diff. sir name but we r more in India so please do a good work and everything given well education his children

    Reply
  26. Hi,
    Friends
    I am Neeraj Shakya from Badaun U.P.(shakya, maurya ,kushwaha, murao ,kachi ) we r many
    diff. sir name but we r more in India so please do a good work and everything given well education his children.

    Reply
  27. Kushwahas or koiri are honest,God fearing,laborious, forward looking, harmless to other communities, self respected , do not believe in buttering, ready to take responsibility to lift the poor or downtrodden people.
    Kushwahas are proud of being chandra gupta maurya,Ashoka the great,Goutam Budha as shakya family.Many kushwaha still power ful in magadh area specially in kumhurara , capital of Ashoka.
    If the leadership is given to this community , country will rise to great height.

    Reply
  28. Everything which is saying about Maurya caste is wrong. To know more go by history the great Ashoka Maurya after kalinga war adopted bauddhism and decided not to kill more human being hence empire got decline and today we mauryan comes under obc caste but because of illusion or illitracy .we need to be educate. All Rama, Buddha every god goddess belong to kshtri as Maurya caste. But somebody spread wrong info hence it is following the same .we are the people responsible for it.there is no unity in this caste. Only Maurya , kushwaha, saini, banafer,shakya, koiri, chaudhari comes under it not other

    Reply
    • You are absolutely write, we are descendant of ancient Maurya kshatriyas.

      Only Shakya caste belongs to Maurya.

      Other castes like kushwaha etc. have no relation with Mauryas.

      Regards,

      Uma Singh

      Reply
  29. koiry are the suryavanshi kshatriya ……
    there emperors rules India and near about whole ashia ….like
    Ikshvaku
    Dashrath
    Rama
    Siddharth ( Lord Buddha )
    Chandragupt maurya
    Bindusar maurya
    Ashok samrt ( world greatest emporer )

    Reply
  30. Good leader from kushwaha samaj
    Bihar Lenin Jagdeo Prasad
    Ashok Gahlot Ex.C.M Rajsthan
    Swami Prasad Maurya BSP
    Upendra kushwaha President RLSP
    Chaggan Bhujwal NCP

    Reply
  31. I am Koeri From BIHAR / JHARKHAND add my no in whatsup – 09835141105

    Reply
  32. vijay kumar verma
    s/o sri jugal mahto
    i live at motileda lakthahi
    i johar koiri kushwaha mahto prasad verma
    i live in giridih jharkhand india
    my son name is harsh kuamr

    Reply
  33. I feel proud being Maurya…

    Reply
  34. 7782051420

    Reply
  35. You are doing well job keep it up 👆 and promote political involvement of our people. Thanks.

    Reply
  36. A very Respectfully,
    I would like you to thank for sharing such valuable information to know our ancestor region, religious, trade, work, culture and so on.. Feeling great to knowing our community people moving in very positive way.
    Last but not least i want to say that we are not only cultivating the earth we are helping India to be Developed.
    Thanks a lot
    PG india

    Reply
  37. You have written a nice article on our cast. I really appreciate your work.May god bless you.May u reach the peak of glory.

    Reply
  38. kushwahas are not only in india ,so many kushwaha also live in nepal

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  39. finding ourselves linked with one of the most popular and powerful dynasty in indian history is very much encouraging!!!
    it boost me with so much energy that if your ancestors could do better than what is called Kshatriya’s then we can also do the same if right knowlege and oprtunity is provided to us..! for which our ancestors have been deprived of ..! thanks to chanakya who recognized our ability..!!!

    Reply
  40. Improve ur knowledge in other state also almost all states we are available in India nd so many with title.

    Reply
  41. It’s Totally Fake….Kushwaha are not koiri.Kushwaha are Suryavanshi Kshatriya Rajput.Correct! Your information Non-sence.Koiri are belongs to sudhra caste.Kushwaha are Kshatriya community.

    Reply
  42. Koeri caste is largest population in bihar they have very hard worker samrat ashoka maurya was relatives to koeri community

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  43. why we are devide. maurya, saky, kushwaha, mahto, saini, reddy and another more may be one.

    Reply
  44. Cool we r owsme till date I was not knowing much about my cast bt now……I m proud of it….

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  45. i also belong to kuswahaa,maurya caste.aur mai ap sbhi se yahi kahena chaunga ki jitni achi hamari history hai utni achi hamari chemistry v bane.hme khud me unity rakhna hoga tabhi hum apne future ko aur behtar aur ujwal bna skaenge..my self virat maurya

    Reply
  46. Hamara itihaas ram yug main bi tha aur kal yug main bi hai lekin ,aur ab sahi Samai hai purey desh main Ek honey Ka tabi hamara Bhala ho sakega

    Reply
  47. ab samaj ko ak hona chahiye tabhi apna bhla hoga

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  48. thank you very much uniting koiri samaj. I am very curious to know about the population of kuswaha cast in india with comprision to other casts in India plzz help me prompt.

    Reply
  49. once my father told that we are from kanaujiya gotra that is correct.

    Reply

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