Nat

Who are they?

The Nat are a community of professional dancers, singers and acrobats who originated from Rajasthan. They used to live on the patronage of Rajput rulers and therefore prefer to call themselves Raj Nat. They are also referred to as Bhanmati, which means ‘something amazing’.

Location

The Nat live in Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar and West Bengal, as well as the union territory of Chandigarh. The Nat are listed as a Scheduled Caste in all states except in Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Indian Constitution provides such castes many benefits intended to improve their circumstances.

Origin

Also spelled “Nut”, the name Nat is derived from the Sanskrit word nata (dancer), a term associated with their acrobatic skills. Their origin is obscure. It is said they are descended from two Chamar (tanner) brothers, Asa and Basa. The anthropologist, Rose (1919), records the legend that the Nat were originally Brahmins whose duty was to supply fuel for funeral pyres. On one occasion they delivered a supply of fuel to a patron just in case someone died as they did not want to be inconvenienced as they had to attend a wedding. The patrons regarded this as a bad omen and dispensed with the Nats services. The Nat approached a fakir (Muslim recluse) for help. He had a monkey (Hanuman) who taught them how to entertain.

Another eminent authority William Crooke (1896) says, “the real fact seems to be that the name Nat is an occupational term which includes a number of different clans who have been grouped together merely on account of their common occupation of dancing, prostitution, and performance of various primitive industries.” Their own oral traditions, however, trace their ancestry to a Rajput lineage, the warrior caste that is second to the Brahmin.

The Nat speak their own language called Bagri or Nati that belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages. They are also conversant with Hindi, as well as other languages and dialects of the regions they reside in. Traditionally, the higher Hindu castes do not accept food and water from the hands of the Nat, and at the same time the Nat do not accept the same from certain castes lower than them such as the Dhobi (washer man), Bhangi (sweeper or scavenger), Mochi (cobbler) or the Dhanuk (cotton carder).

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Nat used to depend on royal patronage for their living, amusing the rulers and their guests with their acrobatic performances. They also derived an income from street drama, music and rope-dancing that they performed in villages and towns, which some Nat continue to do, such as those of Gujarat. Others subsist on agricultural labour in other people’s fields in rural areas and manual labour. Some till land on share-cropping basis while others are engaged in animal husbandry, petty services, metal work, selling herbal medicines, rickshaw-pulling (especially in West Bengal), repairing things like torches, watches and radios or working in music bands that play at marriages and other functions. .

In the slums of Delhi two subgroups of the Nat known as the Nat Bhat (bard) and the Nat Kabutri are found. The former are locally identified as Kathputali Nachanewale, or ‘those who make the puppets dance’. Most have been narrating folk tales through puppet shows since the time of the Mogul Emperor Akbar (1556-1605). Many Nat Kabutri are gypsy dancers. Young girls and women perform the rope-dance on tight ropes tied to a centrally fixed bamboo while their men beat drums to attract an audience.

All Nat eat all meat except beef. Wheat, bajra (a coarse, cheap cereal), rice and pulses form part of their staple diet. They eat very little fruit. Alcohol is an integral part of their social life. After the settling a dispute, at social functions, ceremonial occasions and festivities, alcohol is served by the host. They smoke bidi (rolled tendu leaves) and cigarettes. Older women also smoke bidi. Both men and women chew betel with betel nuts and tobacco.

The Nat use both modern and traditional medicine and are open to family planning. The low literacy level is less than 10% – except in Punjab, Haryana and West Bengal where education is more accessible but still well below the national average. Boys do not study beyond middle school and very few girls attend school, usually up to second or third standard only.

Customs

This group of people does not marry outside their community and they maintain clan exogamy, i.e. they are required to marry outside their clan. But any alliance with the Rajput is allowed as it enhances their status in society. Marriage is settled through negotiation among parents or elders. Monogamy (with patrilocal residence) is the norm. Polygamy is allowed but rarely practiced.

Bride price is prevalent among the poorer Nat and is paid in cash. Sindur (vermilion), churi (glass bangles) and toe-rings are the main symbols of marriage. Both child and adult marriages are common among the Nat. In case of the former, gauna or the departure of the bride to her husband’s home is performed on attaining puberty. Couples may divorce on grounds of adultery, adjustment problems or cruelty. If a woman seeks divorce and remarries, the husband she remarries has to recompense a bride price to the first husband. Children are the liability of the father in such cases. Widow, widower and divorcee remarriages are allowed. The remarriage with the younger brother of the deceased husband is permitted but not required.

The Nat usually live in hamlets on the outskirts of villages and towns. Both joint and nuclear families exist among the Nat. Only the sons may inherit the family property and the eldest son succeeds as head of the family after his father’s death, but he must consult his mother before taking important decisions. The custom of ‘avoiding’ is maintained between daughter-in-law and father-in-law and the younger brother’s wife and her elder brother-in-law.

They work in order to contributing to the family income. They enjoy almost equal status in the family as well as in Nat society and play a dynamic role in religious and social spheres. Nat women love to wear colorful ghagras (skirts), kurtis (blouses) and dupattas (scarves). Tattooing floral and geometrical designs is common among them. A section of Nat women (usually unmarried girls) practice prostitution as a traditional occupation.

The Nat have a rich tradition of folk tales and songs, some of which they share with other communities. The males sing and dance, perhaps more than the women do, accompanied by musical instruments like dhol (a kind of drum), harmonium and bansuri (bamboo flute). The Nat have caste councils or Panchayats to solve disputes related to matrimonial alliances, minor quarrels, sexual corruption and property. Punishments in the form of cash fines and social boycott are imposed on offenders. The Nat in Delhi have a registered society known as the Prachin Kathputli Samaj (Ancient Puppet Society) whose main function is the welfare and improvement of the community, and training the children in their traditional occupation.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Nat are Hindu by religion, although in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, some are Muslim. The Hindu Nat worships all the Hindu gods and goddesses. They worship Rama and Shiva. The Nat in Bihar worship Dack as their main deity, while their regional deity is Goraibaba. Most of those living in West Bengal follow Vaishnaism (venerate Vishnu as their main god). Krishna (eighth incarnation of Vishnu), his beloved Radha and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) also receive preeminence. The Nat in Delhi and Haryana worship Kalkaji (a form of Kali, Shiva’s wife).

Some members of the Nat community become hermits and chant the name of Rama. Some of them become exorcists, healers and fortune tellers. The Nat celebrate major Hindu festivals as Janamashtami (birthday of Krishna on which day a fast is observed), Diwali (festival of lights commemorating the triumphant return of Rama from exile after killing the demon king Ravana), Holi (festival of colors), Shivaratri (Night of Shiva, a festival celebrating the destruction and regeneration of the universe). Vrindavan, a sacred place near the city of Mathura where Krishna and Radha’s romance began is one of their centres of pilgrimage as are Haridwar and Varanasi. Ancestor worship is also prevalent.

What Are Their Needs?

The Nat low caste status has deprived them of many benefits, while the nature of their profession and at times, semi-nomadic life has compounded the problems of ignorance, superstition and poverty.

 

51 Comments

  1. i gled to see this and read this i want to see u my samaj on googel

    Reply
  2. i m from lucknow, u.p. People who belongs to this community they can also contect me on this mail id.my mob no is 9450806037 .THANX

    Reply
    • Rspected
      sir kya ap ne aj tak apne samaj ke liye kuch kiya hai agur kiya hai to kya kiya mai janna chah raha hun. mughe bhi kuch guid line jaroor de

      Reply
      • neel kamal ji,SANDEEP JI, ……….i have given my mob no(9450806037)….u can contect on this….and all other respected community persons can contect me too.

        HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

        DR.JAGDISH SINGH

        Reply
        • Hello Sir I also belongs to Nat Community. I am very happy to see a lot of community member given their contact no. All desirous personnel can cantact me on the my no. 9494568612

          Thanks you very much for so king comitment to take care of community
          I was seaching for the same thing on the net and luckly I got this site.

          Reply
  3. we read your side but not in side Nat community surname his main surname are Nayak, Moto Nayak, Shitapnayak, sawadnayak, Ragninayak, Shakhodaria, Godna, chapaneria, Makadiana, Ragninayak and Motana

    Reply
    • hi im neel kamal im also belong to the nat community I request to all members of nat community please unaite and help poor nat community,please cntact me 09453898067

      Reply
    • hi all nat bhai me sabhi bhayo ko bata dena chata hu ki agar humko apni nat samaj ko milna he to meri facebook me kishor k nat ([email protected]) ad kare yaa fir call kare 091 8141210005
      kiashor k nat (rangninaykna )

      Reply
    • hiii call me 8141210005

      Reply
      • I am very happy to our communtiy people on web site.
        Please all people can contact me on mob. no 9494568612
        Thanks to all.

        Reply
    • hi
      i am kishor natt (motana)from bhuj Kutch (Gujarat) pld contec me 8141210005

      Reply
    • we read your side but not in side Nat community surname his main surname are Nayak, Mota Nayak, Shitapnayak, sawadnayak, Ragninayak, Shakhodaria, Godna, Hapaneria, Makadiana, Ragninayak Devdinayak and Motana

      Reply
    • we read your side but not in side Nat community surname his main surname are this (01) Motana, (02) Shitapnayak, (03) sawadnayak,(04) Ragninayak,
      (05) Shakhodaria,(06) Godna,(07) Hapaneria,(08) Makadiana,
      (09) Vaniavrana (10) Gagolia

      Reply
  4. thnx to this website who is satisfied me and my community

    Reply
  5. I am BHARAT BHUSHAN, from Jharkhand, currently in Siliguri. I also belong to the same caste. Shri laxman makwana, Shri dheeraj and others who also belongs to the NAT Community,all of you may also contect me on my number 98833698885 . Thanks.

    Reply
    • I am BHARAT BHUSHAN, from Jharkhand, currently in Siliguri. I also belong to the same caste. Shri laxman makwana, Shri dheeraj and others who also belongs to the NAT Community,all of you may also contact me on my number 9883369885 . Thanks.

      Reply
    • hi im Neel kamal im belong from nat community i request to all member of nat community please unait
      and help to poor nat community my cel n 09453898067 please con tact me

      Reply
  6. thank u Bharat Bhusan ji to contect with me.I am very glad to see that people belonging to this community have joined the main stream of developement and they r doing excellent work in their field……..be keep in touch…….thanx…..jagdish singh,lucknow(9450806037)

    Reply
  7. hi….friends…my self sandeep Nagar …i am from kasganj uttar pradesh….i am living in goa….i m from same communitty….pls contect me…my no. +91 7387798405…………..

    Reply
  8. I am BHARAT BHUSHAN, from Jharkhand, currently in Siliguri. I also belong to the NAT Community. All of you may also contact me on my number 9883369885 . Thanks.

    Reply
  9. Hello Friend I am also from nat community. and realtive of bhart bhusan, I am from Jharkhand, presently i am wroking in Jamshedpur. u may contact on my mobile no.- 09470319885

    Reply
  10. Hallo friends I am also blong to NAT community. I am from bareilly U.P.But in present I am in oman Country. So any parson who blong to this community contact me from my E- Mail address. thanks

    Reply
  11. Hi dad I am belong cast sc Nat 09889963398

    Reply
  12. Wish You a very Happy new year 2015 .Please contact who ever want to improve our community status. contact no is 09494568612

    Reply
  13. Ajj desh aor samaj kaha sey kaha nikal raha hai kya porey desh mey sirf 20 ya 30 member hi hai nat community mey jo etney kam log site per aa rahey hai.app sabhi nat community k logo sey hath jodker vinti hai ki adhik sey adhik log site per apna parichay jaroor dey mai bhi nat community sey hun

    Reply
  14. Hi sanjeev kumar I live in agra u.p me bi smaj ka ngrik hu orme kuch apni cocommunity ke ley kuch kar sku es ley ap se anurod krta hu ki smaj ko adikar dila na ho ga……. Jay samaj …….contact no . 09927500909

    Reply
  15. Is there any historical information relating to activities of the Nat communities as entertainers at the Mughal courts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ?
    I would be grateful for any information concerning communities of dancers, jesters, jugglers, acrobats employed in these ancients courts.

    Reply
  16. Sir …mai bhi apane samaj ke bare me khoj karana chahta hu.please cont.9893735166

    Reply
  17. Hi everyone,

    Love to see a lot of people from our community coming together on a public forum like this. I have been working to gather as much as knowledge on our community and I believe that I have some really strange facts about our community. As I am public figure attached to a political party I cannot disclose my identity, but send me an email with your contact information so that I can get back to you.

    Regards

    Reply
    • Dear
      Akhilesh Nagar

      I am very happy to see your comment for the community.
      I would like to request to you and our community people,please be in touch on mobile no which is already exist in this web sites.So do not hesitate to contact and to give a contact no.

      Wish u all the best.
      all community people are invited to join the Natraj Yuva sangh on facebook.

      Reply
    • Hi im avaneesh kumar i also to glaid our caste group of india .i belong to sewapuri varanasi up . My contact no 7068590704

      Reply
    • Hello sir,
      I am pursuing MA in social work in Livelihoods and Social Entrepreneurship.and I am doing Research on Nat community shifting livelihoods patterns. for that i need your help if you have any literature on Nat community please send it me. i sharing my contact no. 8898752416/8097710853

      Regards,
      Vaibhav

      Reply
  18. Mera Nam Sandeep Chouhan(Nagar) , Hapaneria He ME Madhya Pradesh Indore me Rehta hu,
    or me bhi Apni samaj Ko Pehchan Dilwana Chahta hu Me Madhya Pradesh me Sare City Or Villages me rehne wale pariwaro ko janta hu.. Or Ap se nivedan hai mujhe Community me
    jode or mujhse Jude mere Dwara samaj K hit me jo Sambhav Ho Me Karna Chahta Hu.
    Mera No. +918959687439, 8959687429, Email. [email protected]
    Mera FB Account HAi 7024440456 okk Ap ke Reply ka intezar rahega..
    Thanx

    Reply
  19. जब तक आप अपनी समस्याओं एंव कठिनाइयों की वजह दूसरों को मानते है, तब तक आप अपनी समस्याओं एंव कठिनाइयों को मिटा नहीं सकते|

    Reply
  20. we read your side but not in side Nat community surname his main surname are this Motana, Shitapnayak, sawadnayak, Ragninayak, Shakhodaria, Godna, chapaneria, Makadiana, Ragninayak, Vanivarana, Devdinayak and Motana

    Reply

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