Bedia (Muslim caste)

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Not to be confused with the Hindu caste.

The Bedia a community of Bihar, they believe that they originally lived on Mohdipahar and have descended from the union of Vedbansi prince with a Munda girl. The other view is that a section of the Kurmis were outcasts and to be known as the Bedia or Wandering Kurmis.[1]

The Bedia or sometimes pronounced Baidya are a Muslim community found in eastern India. They are a community of pastoralists, who traditionally specialized un the castration of cattle. The community speak a number of dialects of Bengali and use the surnames Chaudhary, Sekh, Biswas and Mondal.[2]

Name of the community[edit]

The community has several names, like Bedia Kudmi, Shershahbadia, Bhathia, Wandering Kurmis, Maldahiya, Badia and Bedia. However its official name is Sharshahbadia.

Origin[edit]

The Bedia are found mainly in central and north West Bengal, the Purnia Division of Bihar, Rajshahi District of Bangladesh, the Terai region of Nepal and southern Bhutan. In West Bengal, the Bedia are found mainly in the districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur and Darjeeling. In Bihar, where the community is known as Shershahabadia, are found mainly in Kishanganj, Purnea and Katihar.[3][4]

Present circumstances[edit]

Traditionally, the Bedia were a pastoral group who used to breed buffaloes, sheep and goats, with the castration of cattle being a secondary occupation. By the 19th Century, the majority of the Bedia had settled down to cultivation, and majority were small and medium sized farmers. A small number of Bedia were also jotedars, or large landowners, particularly in Malda. Presently, the bulk of the community remains cultivators, with a smaller numbers employed in the military and police services.[5]

The Bedia are endogamous group, and marriage occurs within close kin. In Bedia society, consanguinal kin are classed into two categories, the bhiad or minimal lineage and khandan or maximal lineage. Marriages are preferred within the bhiad. Bedias of West Bengal now belong to the Ahle Hadith sect, which distinguishes from other Bengali Muslim communities. The Shershahabadia of Malda and Bihar remain Sunni Hanafi.

Traditionally, each Bedia settlement consists of a paich, or caste council. These remain informal, and there is no India-wide formal caste association. The council consists of a hakim or headman, a jurist or mahat and a dhuli or messenger. All intra-group or inter-religious matters and disputes are settled by the paich.

According to Risley, the Bedia are divided into septs. However, the present survey identified some exogamous clans, namely Phecha, Kachhua, Mahua,Bambi,Suiya,etc.The marriage age for boys and girls is sixteen to seventeen years and fourteen to fifteen years,respectively. A marriage is arranged though monogamy is prevalent. Married women put a vermillion mark and wear an iron bangle as marriage symbols. The payment of bride price is obligatory. They follow the rule of patrilocal residence. Either spouse can seek divorce with social approval on grounds of adultery, barrenness, maladjustment, cruelty and laziness. Remarriage of widows and divorcces is permitted and a widow can marry her late husband’s brother. The Bedia live both in nuclear and extended families. Sons inherit parental property in equal measure while the eldest son succeeds to his father’s authority. A woman contributed to the family income and is tonsured. The first cereal feeding ceremony is optional. The marriage rites are performed at the bridegroom’s house. The dead are buried. The death rites observed are telnahan and daskarma.

The Bedia are the followers of the traditional tribal religion. Their family and clan deities are Mai, Mudkati Kundri Bansa Darha, etc. The village deities worshipped by them are Jher-buri Gawandeti Mahadania, Durga and the regional deities are Palcharu and Badpahari. They visit the annual fairs at Rajarappa, Hundru and Jonha falls and Jaganathpur.The Bedia celebrate festivals like Phagun,Sarhul, Karma,Jitia and Sohrai.

The Bedia who have settled down in West Bengal, are also known as the Bedia Kudmi,Choto Kudmi or San Kurmi. They speak in Kudmali, an Indo-Ayan language, at home and Bengali for inter-group communication. The Bengali and Devanagari scripts are used.[6]

See also[edit]

Some known people of this caste : Mahbub Ali Azad Lead Software Engineer, The Hague, Netherlands(Europe) Home town- Manjheli, Sonaili, Katihar, Bihar. Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/Mahbub.del?fref=ts

Sanower Ali Azad MBA, GGSIPU, JMI UNIVERSITY, NEW DELHI Home town- Manjheli, Sonaili, Katihar, Bihar. Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/sanower.ind?ref=tn_tnmn PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/SanowerAzad?ref=tn_tnmn

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ethnographic notes on the scheduled tribes of West Bengal by Manas Kamal Chowdhuri; West Bengal (India). Cultural Research Institute
  2. ^ Marginal Muslim Communities in India edited by M.K.A Siddiqui pages 263-267
  3. ^ Marginal Muslim Communities in India edited by M.K.A Siddiqui pages 263-267
  4. ^ Ethnographic notes on the scheduled tribes of West Bengal by Manas Kamal Chowdhuri; West Bengal (India). Cultural Research Institute
  5. ^ Marginal Muslim Communities in India edited by M.K.A Siddiqui pages 263-267
  6. ^ Ethnographic notes on the scheduled tribes of West Bengal by Manas Kamal Chowdhuri; West Bengal (India). Cultural Research Institute

[[Ethnographic notes on the scheduled tribes of West Bengal Author: Manas Kamal Chowdhuri; West Bengal (India). Cultural Research Institute]]