|Regions with significant populations|
|Hinduism (80%), Buddhism (19%), Christianity (0.8%), Islam (0.2%)|
The Agri people (Sanskrit/Marathi/Hindi: आग्री ) are historically an Indo-Aryan ethnic group native to the Raigad and Thane Districts and the suburban area of Mumbai in Maharashtra.They are also present in Rajasthan, Delhi, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Gujarat.
The Agri people are traditionally salt-makers but now settled in Agriculture and Fishing. They are vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian with their daily diet consisting of Bhakri (rice bread), steamed rice with daal, bhaji(veg)and sometimes meat and fish. They speak Marathi at home as well as outside and use the Devanagari script.
They worship all Hindu gods, particularly Khandoba and Bhairoba. Each village has a god or goddess and each family has a god or goddess of the kulas e.g. Khanderao for Dhumals, Bhavani or Shiva for the Bhoirs, etc.
No dowry is observed strictly in this community. Giving of dowry as well as acceptance of dowry both are considered to be taboo.
The name Agri (spell it Agari) comes from Agar, a salt-pan. The Agris are an ethnic community native to Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Nashik, Ratnagiri Districts mainly. They are the original residents of the Mumbai region. The major profession of these people is Salt making. Thus the name evolved from it. Beside this they are skilled in fishing, farming and sculpture making hence also called Patharvat in regions of Nashik.
The following legend is given for what it is worth. Two sons, Agla and Mangla, were born to the sage Agasti; the former the ancestor of the Agris, the latter of the Mangelas (fishermen). The first was told to support himself by the manufacture of salt from the sea, the latter by fishing. The god Parashuram, intending to throw back the sea, was prevented by the intervention of the Agri and Mangela women. At their request he consented to throw it back only 27 miles and the strip thus formed become the Konkan.
There is another legend to the effect that they are the musicians of Ravan, the demon-king of South India, who in reward for good services settled them in the Konkan.
The people of this section also belong to the Brahmin caste. The famous Chirner Andolan made by Agris in 1930 served as force to invoking “Kul Kaida” by government. It means who cultivate the land will be the real owner of the land and system of Jamindari was abolished. It benefited every Kul of Maharashtra.
On the other hand, states that Agri are subdivision of the Kunbi and subgroup of the koli. At present they are distributed in Rajasthan, Delhi, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Amli, Agriwad, Vaghchhipa), Gujarat (Karajgam, Barai, Goima) and Maharashtra.
The Agri of Maharashtra are also known as Agle, Patharvat and Kharpatil. They are concentrated in Nashik, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane Districts and the suburban areas of Bombay city. The population of Agri in Bombay Province, according to the 1931 census, was 265,285. They speak the Indo-Aryan language Marathi at home as well as outside and use the Devanagri script.
Three major districts of Maharashtra, namely Thane, Raigad and Mumbai, are shelters of Agri Samaj. Salt making, fishery at the sea coast and farming of rice are the major occupations of this community. Rice bread, steamed rice with daal(varan-bhaji) and sometimes fish is their daily diet. They celebrate Ganesh Utsav,Gopal Kala, Navratri, Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navmi and fun fairs with lots of fun and devotion.
Agri Samaj consists of people getting their bread from farming, salt making and fishing as these being their main occupation. Not just men but women also help in earning the daily bread. Women take care of their house as well as manage the professional transactions. This is the major reason why there is no dowry systems experience in this community.
Marriages are celebrated with fun and enjoyment. Haladi, a ceremony held on previous day of marriage, is celebrated by rubbing wet ground turmeric on bride/ groom as well as other member of family; and also by dancing freely. Dowry system is not observed in this community.
Now-a-days,Agri people are more business oriented.People have extensive real estate property which was earlier used for farming.They are fond of Gold.
In Maharashtra, there are mainly four districts (Raigad, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nashik and Mumbai) where we can see people of Agri Samaj. The actual business of Agri people is fishing, salt production and paddy farming . They have Rice and Bhakari as their food. 'Ganesh Utsav' which comes in the 'marathi' month of Bhadrapad, the fare of RamNavami, Hanuman Jayanti and Navratri are some of their main festivals. Along with this, Agri Samaj believes in all the cultures.The main thing of Agri Samaj is that they do not believe in Dowry system.
The origin of Agri Samaj is farming. This is a culture of hard-working people and the farmers who love the nature. All men and women work together for their homes, fields and salt production. Along with togetherness we can see equality in the Men and Women of Agri Samaj.
There is a major attraction to Jatra in this community. Jatra is nothing but fun-fair. Mostly celebrated in the Chaitra month of the Hindu Calendar, fun-fair in agri samaj is the symbol of their communal integrity. Generally these village fun-fairs are celebrated for worshipping the village.
Generally these village fun-fairs are celebrated for worshipping the village goddess so that the goddess protects these villagers from all sorts of natural calamities and disasters. The village goddess is worshipped by elderly and young people of the village. During such fun fair people in other villages are also invited and there is colourful and pleasant and loving atmosphere. The major food eaten on this day is deliciously cooked meat with nicely baked bhakris. Also lots of sweet is sold in fun-fair of expressing the happiness.
There are different types of stalls for bangles, cosmetics, food items, sweets, games. For children there are giant wheels, merry go round. There is a chance for the ladies and young girls to roam freely without any botherance and fright. People do lots of shopping for themselves, their children and friends and enjoy a lot.
Hindus have major devotion towards Lord Ganpati. Similarly Agri Samaj also worships Ganpati wholeheartedly. Ganesh Utsav is celebrated for worshipping Gauri and Ganpati Bhagwan. This Utsav is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapad. During this period farmers and fishermen don't have much work to do. So this festival is celebrated for a longer time in a relaxing mood.
Lots of preparation are done before Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh Chathurthi is the day when the people bring a Ganpati (statue of Lord Ganesh) at their home. They make lots of decoration. Some people celebrate this feast for 5,7,10,21 or even for 30 days.
Jaagran is observed during this feast. Jaagran is celebrated by worshipping God wholeheartedly and without sleep. Many guests come for visiting these days. On the last day of the Utsav the Ganesh moorti is released in the sea or river or lake with lots of happiness and celebration.
Nowadays birth of Lord Ganesha is also celebrated in Magha Month which is called as Ganesh Jayanti in most of the Agri Families.
Holi is celebrated in the month of phalgun according to Hindu mythology. This day is celebrated for destroying bad nature in mind and he hate betrayal animity, anger, jealousy and encouraging love, happiness all bad thought in mind are removed. On this day a huge born fire is related & this born fire is worshipped ladies & gents elders & young together.
puri, puran poli, karanji, ladu, anarcee are cooked in every house. Barks of mango tree are generally need for the bonfire village people sing songs for goddess of holi. They also dance to express their fairness and happiness. This program is continued full late night
Narali Poornima is the most important and major festival of Agri Samaj. According to Hindu Mythology this feast arrives in Shravan month. Actually Agri and Koli communities mainly depend on fishery as their main occupation i.e. they are closely related to sea. This is the major reason behind this Narali Poornima being their main fest.
From the monsoon times the sea shows very aggressive nature . In order to calm down the temper of the Sea Lord this feast is celebrated. During this feast people in agri-koli Samaj devote or release a golden coconut in the sea and pray for calmness and protection of their boats and ships they use in sea during fishing. All elders and younger in this community gather at the sea coast to worship the Sea Lord.
All people in the village celebrate this day by dancing, singing and then worshipping on the sea coast. After worship and prayer is done all fishermen go in the sea for fishing and start fishing from that day after a halt in the rainy season. That is why this is the most important festival of Agri Samaj.