||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. (July 2011)|
The Dhangar (Dhangad ) are a herding caste of people primarily located in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The Kurumbar of Southern India are reasonably considered to belong to the same race. Their original home is said to be Gokul, Vrindavan, near Mathura. From Gokul they are said to have moved into Mewar, and from Mewar, to have spread into Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The word "Dhangar" may be associated with a term for "cattle wealth" or be derived from the hills in which they lived (Sanskrit "dhang"). Ul Hassan noted that some people of his time believed the term to come from the Sanskrit "dhenugar" ("cattle herder") but dismissed that etymology as being "fictitious".
The Dhangar were described by British colonial researchers as industrious, honest and sincere. It was noted that, "truthful as a Dhangar" was a proverb among Indians.
Traditionally being shepherds, cowherds, buffalo keepers, blanket and wool weavers, butchers and farmers, the Dhangars were late to take up modern-day education. Though it has a notable population, not only in Maharashtra but also in India at large, had a rich history, today it is still a politically highly disorganized community and is socially, educationally, economically and politically backward. They lived a socially isolated life due to their occupation, wandering mainly in forests, hills and mountains.[full citation needed]
The Dhangar produce a type of poetry known as ovi, often inspired by the forests and pastures where they graze their flocks. The ovi are formed of couplets, and can include legendary tales such as those of their god Biruba. Also in honour of Biruba, they perform the Dhangari Gaja dance.
Dhangars worship various forms of gods, including Shiva, Vishnu, Parvati and Mahalaxmi as their kuldevta. These forms include Khandoba, Beeralingeswara (Biroba), Mhasoba, Dhuloba (Dhuleshwar), Vithoba,Siddhanath(Shidoba), Janai-Malai, Tulai, Yamai, Padubai, and Ambabai. They generally worship the temple of these gods that is nearest to their residence which becomes their kuladev and kuladevi. In Jejuri, the deity Khandoba is revered as the husband of Banai, in her incarnation as a Dhangar. He is, therefore, popular amongst the Dhangars, as they consider him their Kuldevta. Khandoba (literally "father swordsman") is the god of the shepherd community and the guardian deity of the Deccan.
Initially there were twelve tribes of Dhangar, and they had a division of labour amongst brothers of one family. This later formed three sub-divisions and one half-division. These three being Hatkar, Ahir (cowherds) or Mhaskar (Gujjar buffalo keepers), and Khutekar (wool and blanket weavers)/Sangar. The half-division is called Khateek or Khatik (butchers). All sub-castes fall in either of these divisions. All sub-divisions emerge from one stock, and all sub-divisions claim to be a single group of Dhangars. Studies have revealed that they are genetically the closest. The number three and a half is not a random selection but has a religious and cosmological significance.
Clans in India
Schedule Tribe status
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2013)|
The Dhangar community in Maharashtra has been agitating for the implementation of Scheduled Tribe status. According to them Dhangar and Dhangad is one and the same and Dhangar community is included in the List of Scheduled Tribes in India#Maharashtra at Sr. no 36 Oraon, Dhangad. The only community present in the state is Dhangar that can be spelt as Dhangad and pronounced as Dhangar. There is no such community called Dhangad present in Maharashtra. The ethnological and anthropological information of Dhangad and Dhangar given in the reports is same which is of Shepherds. That is both the words mean a same single community which is Shepherds of Maharashtra. State of Maharashtra had twice recommended the Government of India to include the Dhangar community in the list of Scheduled Tribe. Even in 1989, the CAG report recommended the inclusion of Dhangar community in the list of Scheduled Tribe.
However, the State of Maharashtra has not implemented the Scheduled Tribe status as according to them Dhangar and Dhangad are two distinct communities of Maharashtra.
- Prof. Dr. R. N. Sakasena, Dhangars and Gadariyas (Gari), The Most Backward Divisions of Indian Tribes and Castes, Research Paper
- Syed Siraj ul Hassan (1989). The castes and tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's dominions. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-0488-9. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- R.V. Russell, Rosalind (1916). The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India II. Macmillan and Co., London. p. 118.
- Bombay (India : State) (1901). Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency 9. Govt. Central Press. pp. 267–285. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
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- Richard I. Cashman. The myth of the Lokamanya: Tilak and mass politics in Maharashtra.[when?][who?] pg 11
- K.C. Malhotra et al., "Gene differentiation among the Dhangar caste cluster of Maharashtra, India", Human Heredity, Vol. 28, pp. 23-26.
- Landscapes in Conflict: Flocks, Hero-stones, and Cult in Early Medieval Maharashtra. Ajay Dandekar. Centre For Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
- G.D. Sontheimer, The Dhangars: a nomadic pastoral community in a developing agricultural environment; G.D. Sontheimer and L.S. Leshnik, eds., Pastoralists and Nomads in South Asia, Wiesbaden, 1975, p. 140.
- "Maratha". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica online). 2009.
- R.V. Russell, Rosalind (1916). The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India IV. Macmillan and Co., London.
- O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-521-52308-0.
- Reginald Edward Enthoven (1 January 1990). The tribes and castes of Bombay. Asian Educational Services. pp. 317–318. ISBN 978-81-206-0630-2. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- Dandekar, Ajay. The Warlis and the Dhangars, The Context of the Commons.