Shilpkar

Who are they?

The generic term Shilpkar, or Shilpakar, is used for all of Indian people groups regarded as low castes. For generations they have produced ropes, fans and mats. A few are sweepers and scavengers (same as the low-caste Bhangi and Churha communities). The Shilpkar are also skilled artisans and performers.

The Indian leader and freedom fighter, Lala Lajpat Rai, was moved to see the terrible circumstances in which the Dom lived on his visit to the Kumaon hills in 1911. He found them to be highly skilled craftsmen and considered their exploitation by the high caste Hindus as extremely unjust. He declared that it was improper to call them Dom, therefore being identified with the outcastes such as the scavengers and sweepers, and thus named them Shilpkar – Hindi for craftsman. They were officially recognized as Shilpkar in 1925 by the British government. Today, they resent being called Dom, or Dum, hence this derogatory term is no longer used. They are synonymously referred to as Dom, Dum, Ram, Arya and Harijan. Ram, Arya, Tamta, Koli and Lohar are common surnames among this community.

Location

The Shilpkar live mainly in the hilly areas of Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, predominantly in the districts of Dehradun, Pauri Garhwal, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Tehri Garhwal, Haridwar, Almora, Pithoragarh, Nainital, and Pilibhit. They number around 1.2 million.

Origin

Ethnologist, E.T. Atkinson (The Himalayan Gazetteer, 1882), wrote that the Shilpkar claim an exalted origin as descendants of a Brahmin (highest Hindu priestly caste) named Gorakhnath who was made an outcast because he ate ritually forbidden food. Atkinson writes that the Shilpkar are of an aboriginal, non-Aryan stock and were reduced to slavery by the Khasia and other immigrant high castes. He describes them as servants of the Khasia in the hilly regions of Kumaon, Garhwal and along the hills as far west as the Indus River valley.

Language

They speak the language of regions that they live in, such as the Indo-Aryan languages Kumaoni, Garhwali and Jaunsari. Hindi is the common language of these regions.

Listed as a Scheduled Caste (SC) under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, the government grants them many privileges and benefits. These advantages, such as fixed quotas in government jobs and higher educational institutions, lower selection benchmarks in various competitive examinations, reserved seats in Parliament and the state legislatures are intended to assist the SC’s lift themselves out of the dismal life of poverty into which they are born.

The Shilpkar accept food and water from all higher castes but they in turn do not and treat them as a low caste, belonging to the ‘unclean’ Sudra – the lowest class of servants. They usually live on the outskirts of villages and hamlets, away from other communities.

What are their lives like?

Occupational subgroups of the Shilpkar still pursue their hereditary occupations like blacksmithing, coppersmith, basketry, bamboo mat-making, stone work, carpentry, masonry, oil-pressing, drum beating and leather work. They are also known for entertainment – dancing at weddings and religious functions for the upper castes, as well as making earthen or clay smoking pipes or wooden utensils, tailoring, weaving, pottery, woodcarving and wood-engraving and other crafts. Ferrying, fishing, making rope-bridges and washing gold dust out of sand are the traditional occupations of those Shilpkar who live near rivers.

Most are also simultaneously engaged in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry or small-scale poultry farming to supplement their meager incomes. Some work as sharecroppers to higher caste farming families. Some peddle bangles, combs, mirrors, toys or firewood or do odd jobs. There are also some teachers, businessmen, pharmacists and defense personnel among them.

The literacy levels of the Shilpkar are quite low. The dropout rate after primary school is high, especially for girls. Slowly, due to the impact of government-sponsored development programs, their socio-economic condition is improving. They have benefited greatly from schemes to provide drinking water, electricity, irrigation, nutrition, rural employment and self-employment. Many landless Shilpkar families have been the beneficiaries of government subsidies for house construction and have received free land as well. The Shilpkar utilize both traditional and modern medical treatments. They are open to family planning methods. They do not use banks for loans and remain dependent and in debt to shopkeepers and private moneylenders.

Customs

The Shilpkar marry as adults although child marriages are common among some subgroups. A man acquires his wife through negotiation, exchange, mutual consent or even elopement. He may take a second wife in cases such as barrenness. Among the Kolta Shilpkar, polyandry- the practice of having more than one husband at one time is also acceptable. Vermilion (sindur), nose-rings and nose studs are the marriage symbols for women. Unlike other castes, traditionally it is the groom who pays a bride-price to the bride’s father. This is still practiced by many subgroups of the Shilpkar, though some have taken to the custom of getting a dowry.

Nuclear families now predominate over extended families. Parental property is divided among the sons with the firstborn son receiving a larger share than the others. He also succeeds his father as head of the family. Shilpkar women are better regarded and play a crucial role in economic activities, family management and decision-making in addition to domestic duties. However, in some subgroups like the Beda or Baddi, the women become prostitutes due to dire poverty. Social control among the Shilpkar is in the hands of an informal council. This council consists of respected community elders.

The Shilpkar have a rich oral tradition. Some of these subgroups such as the Damai, Dholi, Bajgi and Hurkiya possess a great repertoire of folklore and narrate stories in dramatic detail. The Dholi Shilpkar sing the jhora on religious occasions accompanied by frenzied beating of drums, which induces a state of demonic possession or trance. Men and women join in folksongs and folkdances accompanied by their traditional musical instruments like the large, single-membrane kettledrum, cymbal and flute.

What are their beliefs?

The Shilpkar are Hindus and worship numerous regional gods and goddesses. Some of these deities are Nag (king cobra), Bhairon (one of Shiva’s attributes – terrible or fearsome), Kali (goddess and wife of Shiva) and many others. There is a strong belief in the occult. The shaman or medicine man is sought to deal with sickness, evil spirits and to appease the gods and goddesses. Along with the fortune teller, he acts as an oracle and foretells future events in a trance. Sometimes women act as exorcists. Animal sacrifices are performed either routinely as an act of worship or on the instruction of a shaman. As a ritually unclean community, they are not permitted the services of a Brahmin priest. Their ceremonies are therefore performed by a relative who acts as a priest. The dead are cremated and a period of death pollution is observed. Ancestor worship is observed.

The Shilpkar celebrate Hindu festivals like Diwali (festival of lamps), Maha Shivaratri (great night of Shiva), Holi (festival of colours), Navratri (festival of nine nights) and Ghee Teohar (butter festival). The new moon and full moon days of each month are also celebrated. Major sacred centers for pilgrimage are Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Nandprayag and Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh.

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118 Comments on "Shilpkar"


Guest
ravi
1 month 19 days ago
Bhai log... ek problem hai...
Mai shilpkar jaati ka hu or jisse mai shadi krna chahta hu wo sonar hai verma jo ki obc category me aati hai.. sirf caste ki wajah se meri shadi nhi ho pa rhi.. wo obc me aate hai or mai sc me to kya kre koi raasta batao.
Guest
suman
5 days 14 hours ago
dosnt mattar agar ham 21st century me hai enter cast marrige se hee jaat paat khtm hoga meri bhi enter cast marriage hai
Guest
rohit goyal
2 months 24 days ago
first of all no shilpkar were bhangi ,scavengers. infact they were people who used to make pots,dishes,sculptures etc, they were known as shilpkar for their skills in art by the rulers.
the are well respected people among sc or st.
And kindly edit your content ,first read all history clearly then post it on website.
Guest
Indranaryan Raman
11 days 15 hours ago
Bhaga ke le jao yaar yeh duniya wale yeh samaj wale inohne samaj ko apna ghulam bana kar rakha hai. Manushya sab barabar hai bhai legally bhi tum usase shadi kar sakte ho bas condition yaha honi chahiye ki ladaki raji ho.
Guest
sanjay mallick
2 months 29 days ago
main ek dom caste ka hu mere pas sab kuch hai phir bhi singh,brahmin caste aise treat karte hai mere gao me jaise hum insan nhi koi nali k kide hai hume shadi me invite to kiya jata hai ye bolkar k dom jat ko khanna nhi khilane se unka puja ya shadi safal nhi hoga aur ek taraf hume bulakar zameen aur logo se bahut door ek kone me le ja kar khanna diya jata hai,dal,roti,ya chawal 2 foot k uper se hi diya jata hai ......is duniya me jitne bhi vastu,insan,janwar sabhi ko bhagwan ne hi banaya hai.to shayad ek brahmin ko aur muj jaise dom caste ko bhi bahgwan ne hi banaya hoga .....to fir aisa kyun mana jata hai ki humm sabse nich aur gire huye hai????ye life jitna aap soch rahoge usse bhi jyada difficult hai jina humm jaise logo k liye ...any rply ?
Guest
sunil
1 month 5 days ago
Bhai jate hi kyu ho inki shadi me and jao to sirf kanya dan do khana us din khana jis din sath bitha ka khilae..... apni izat apne hath.
Guest
rahul
4 months 27 days ago
Fuck u asshole.go wid ur religion ...and take it in..
Guest
prakash
5 months 2 days ago
what is the gotra of koli caste of bageshwar kumaon in uttrakhand please sent on my ID as mention [email protected]
Guest
shorya koli
7 months 28 days ago
Shilpkar koi jati nhi thi.........ye logo ka huner tha .........unka vyavsay tha.....aaj ager mai sanskrit padhker.....logo k vivah karwaney lag jau.....tou kya m koli jati se brahman jati m chala jaunga......nhi....aapka ye gazzette wala example kuch damdar nhi laga ....Mr. Mv singh.....ager abhi bhi koli shilpkar nhi lagata to wo uttrakhand m gernal m hi h.....dhanywad
Guest
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9 months 14 days ago
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Guest
Sunaina
11 months 18 days ago
are all rawats from garhwal sc
Guest
Indranaryan Raman
11 days 15 hours ago
Rawat means Gadariya
Guest
MV Singh Koli
1 year 1 month ago
Uttrakhand sarkar ne shilpkar jaati ko apne 16 Dec 2013 ke gazzette notification ke dwara paribhasit kar diya hai jisme koli shilpkar jaati me shamil hai. Dhanyavad.
Guest
Rakesh Prasad
11 months 14 days ago
MV Singh koli ji, sir I entirely impress from your responses to the so called upper caste, if it is fine, so please contact with me urgently on my email Email-Id [email protected] . Sir I am also planning to conduct a independent research on Koli caste, so kindly contact me.
Guest
ansh
5 months 16 days ago
rakesh ji mujhe bhi arya shilpkar ke real history ke baare main janna hai kya aap mer personal Email id main iske baare main bata sakte hai mujh bahut kuch poochna jaana hai..Emain id hai.. [email protected]
Guest
lucky
1 year 6 months ago
Most of what this author wrote is wrong. Lohar or Blacksmiths belongs to Viswakarma. The Vishwakarma (or Viśvákarma) community, known within the group as the Viswabrahmin, is a group that is sometimes referred to as a caste and which comprises five sub-groups: carpenters, blacksmiths, bell metalworkers, goldsmiths and stonemasons who are the descendants of the Hindu god Vishwakarma. They worship various forms of this deity and follow five Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda, and Pranava Veda. Harijan is different from Viswakarma
Guest
ashu
1 year 6 months ago
please tell me tamta chmaar bangi hote hai kya
Guest
ok
3 months 10 days ago
nahi tamta wo hotein jo tambe yani copper metal ke ornaments or artifacts banate the par chamar chamre ya skin ka kaam karte the so tamta kaam ke sense to sunar ki tarah hi hue na bt han unko bhi uttarakhand mien reserved categories mien hi rakha gaya hai
Guest
JITENDRA SHARMA
1 year 8 months ago
Mai viswakarma carpenter se hoon es jaati ka esthi hai
Guest
human vivek
1 year 11 months ago
Afsos....educated people of india are still illetrate....jati kaa pata hai......but do not know the names of their great grandfathers.......and every now and then talks about the great glory of their blood........are bhai nana patekar sahab bhi kehe chuke hai kii insaan kaa blood sirf Red hota hai.........you are also born in the same earth as every human ........aur after death apko koi puskar viman lene to aaega nahi........yamdoot ke hi darsan honge........to kyun paresaan ho raha hai bhai........just chill and do your job......21st century hai dost wake up......aaj sabhi log ek dusre ke servent hai.......everyone is at the same time Master and slave....so its worthless to talk on this obselete issue......wake up............
Guest
Rashmi
3 months 3 days ago
Well said . I agree with you .
Guest
Safal Sharma
1 year 7 months ago
Right bilkul sahi.. social networking ka use agar logo ko ek saath jodne ke liye kiya jaaye to jyada achha hoga na ki is tarah ki faaltu baato me fas kar... is jaatiwaad ke chakkar me hum log bahot dange dekh chuke hai.. aaj ka youth educated hai sahi soch rakhta hai to use sahi raste par le jana chahiye......ye b sahi hai hum sab ne ek earth pe janam liya hai or ek hi shamshaan me jalaye jayenge.. haan yaad rahenge to hamare kiye hue kaam na ki surname..is duniya me hum ek dusre ke naukar hai .. koi kisi se oopar nahi koi kisi se niche nahi... baaki history ke chakkar me mat pado to sahi hai,.. haan ho sake to history se achhi baate lo bekaar bato ko bahar rakho apne se... plz dosto itna educated hone ke baad agar yahi sab karna hai to shayad ye platfrm theek hai aaplogo ke liye .. gaon me wapas jao or kisi ka paani roko kisi ke jaane ka rasta roko kisi ko pooja mat karne jao.. kisi ko maaro... ..agar sahi soch rakhte ho to gaon jao jarur but waha b ek naya savera do logo ko taaki wo log b aage apni life sahi ji sake..
Guest
Safal Sharma
1 year 7 months ago
or ek baad jin purajo ki hum baate kar rahe hai ki hum unke vansh hai hum rajvansh ke hai ya koi or ... agar unke purvajo ne ye sab achhe kaam nahi kiye hote to shayad jitne b yaha ye sab keh rahe hai koi b unka naam apne saath nahi jodta ... is liye history har koi banta hai aaj hamare purvaj history hai jinka hum hissa hona chahte hai or kal hum history honge.. ese bano ki wo log b hamara naam jodte hue sharmaye nahi...
Guest
MV Singh Koli
1 year 11 months ago
Mene upar di hui tippani padh li hai our itni gandi bhasa ka paryog kiya gaya hai jo us aadmi ki mansikta ko darshata hai lagta iske maa baap ne yahi sanskar diye hai our iske ghar mein aisa hi mahol hoga. Yahan par kisi baat ko leka charcha kar rahen thatha apne vichar vyakt kar rahe hai our bhasha shalinta vali honi chahiye. gali galoch se koi bhayada nahi. Ishwar aap logon ko sadhbudhi de our insaniyat ke gun sikhen. Mera kehna hai jaat paat to honi hi nahi chhahiye, insaniyat ki kadar honi chahiye, phir apne aap ko Rajput, Brahman, vaishya keha jaati ke dambh meain kyo rehna chate ho. Shilpkar/Sc jaati ke logon kyon chhoti nazar se dekha jata hai. Ye sab jhootha ahankar hai jo sansar main mein chalta rahega kyon ke inssan apne aap ko bada dikhana chahtaha hai samne wale ko kuch nahi samajhta hai. Jaat/Paat insaan ne banai hai ise inssan hi khatam karega tabhi hoga phir chahe wo Rajput ho, Brahaman ho, sudra ho ya vaishya ho. Lekin ye jaara ashambav sa dikta hai kyon ki aadmi johoota ahnkar nahi chhor sakta hai. Ye parman hai jo aaj nimn samjhe jaten hai ye kabhi jaati vihin samaj ke ang the our accha jeevan bita rahe the baad main change ho gaya hai. Uprokt baaton ko aap ek kittab ka reference main de raha hun jo ki ek research book hai aap sab isko shanti se padhe tatha baad mein tipani karen. " History of the Later Harrapan and Shilpkar Movement (02 Volumes) written by Voyogi, Naval and M Anwar Ansari by Kalpaz Publication, Treasuring Book book on Humananities and Social service,Delhi-52, Ph-9212729499, Email. [email protected]" Ye parman isme bharat ki sabhi jaatiyon ka itihas darz hai, aap sab ko acchi jankari isme milegi, Dhanyavad.
Guest
Deep chand
1 year 11 months ago
Are o bewkoofo aapas mai ek dusre se apni jhoothi saan ke liye na tumhare bap dadaao ne choda tha or na hi tum chod rahe ho agar tumhe apni energy ka use karna hi hai to ise iss direction mai karo ki jisse desh ka devolopment ho or desh mai ekta bani rahi,aaj lagbhag aadha hindustan tumhari jaisi giri soch ke chalte naxal effected ,terriorism etc mai jal rha hai agar tumahre yahi hal rahe to pahle to tumhe lootne ke liye afgani,mugal,or angrej aaye the lekin aise karte rahoge to ek din tumhare pass lootne bhar ke liye kuch v nahi rahega ,so save the country n save urself.....
Guest
koru podi
2 years 21 days ago
onxbnjn ns
Guest
koru podi
2 years 21 days ago
oh what admiration does shilpkar get in thier job
Guest
anil kumar
2 years 1 month ago
I do not under stand why we called each other koli or shilpkar it is very simple those days people who mitigated from various parts of India e.g.Rajasthan Maharashtra or Gujarat they all wanted to earn circumstances made them to work as laborer or any kind of job that they fulfill their desire. We are in 21st century wake up go to Kerala. Gujarat how much there state is developing our thinking is very narrow. our Ex minister Late Mr Jagjeevan Ram(he consider him a pure chamar) in his house bhande manjne wala gharwali (Nautiyal) Jharu laganewala( samewal).uske jute saaf kerne wala (Mamgain) Delhi Bombay me sare hotels me bartan saaf karna or khana banana or bari bari kothio me Jharu pocha karna sab upper cast ke gharwali karte he. What i mean is app kisko kya dikhana chahte ho Jago or band karo to write this kind of article please write somthing good and truth dont egegirate.if we all wanted to bring our state rich and harmony bhai chare se raho jo gareebi ke karan lachar he use kisi shilpkar ka nam dekar badnam na karo. thank You.
Guest
abhishek
2 years 2 months ago
who the hell are you? how could you say such derogatory words to our respective cast that we we belong to "sweepers and scavengers". if you don't know anything good about us so u don't have any right to say such offensive low kinnda cheap words..if you really want to know about OUR RESPECTIVE TAMTA CASTE then i would prefer you to go to a history department and concern to my cousin SHE IS WORKING ON OUR CASTE, doing Ph.d on Tamta's work.....and don't you say a single words which is irrelevant to Tamta caste.
Guest
k.c.singh
2 years 28 days ago
dear abhishekh, I cme to kow that your cousin is doing phd on Tamtas. Please let me know about her findings regarding the. I am very keen to know about them. Krishnakant
Guest
Rashmi
2 years 2 months ago
Rawat is a sc caste in UP & Gujrat Please open this link & Know more about The Royal Koli Rajput http://www.facebook.com/royal.koli.rajput