||This article possibly contains original research. (March 2011)|
Rajaka, also Hena and Rada, is a minority Sri Lankan and Indian caste. "Rajas" means dirt in Sinhala and Pali or Sanskrit and "Rajaka" means the removers of dirt.They collected cloths by traveling home to home of higher castes but now that was obsolete in Sri Lanka.but still they performs several rituals in the weddings and the females of this caste performs vital role in the puberty rituals of Radala and Govigama people in some areas of Sri Lanka.They called "Redi nanda" for females and "Hene mama" for males by the Sri Lankan society because they were given some respect unlike the other Asian countries due to the influence of buddhism in early periods.It is known as Chakali in Andhra Pradesh,India. A group officially termed "Rajaka, Chakali, Vannar" has been designated an Other Backward Class in Andhra Pradesh since 1993.
In the Andhra Pradesh state of India, the Rajakas form 12% of the total population and they are considered backward caste. Their nature of business is laundry and agriculture. Their social status need help and the community is requesting AP Government to move them into Schedule caste and Government promised them to move them into Schedule caste over and over again but ignoring them from long time. Primary reason for this is from this community there is no representation in any higher positions in politics,nor any sort of government representation. In other parts of country it is well known as Dhobi caste and there in schedule caste. Another statical information regarding Rajaka caste in Andhra Pradesh this community evenly spread across Andhra Pradesh (Coastal Andhra area, Telengana and Rayalaseema Areas).
In the weddings of Govigama or Radala households they provides the carpets ("Paawada" in Sinhala) and spread "Paadawa " for the groom.They provides "Piruwata" and "Udu wiyan" for the "Poruwa". And the cracking the coconut when the couple getting down from Poruwa was performed by them.(cracking coconut is performed for prosperity in weddings and puberty rituals in Sri Lanka) In puberty rituals of Govi people the girl is bathed by a female of this caste and for their performance they were compensated through money,food and also with the dress and jeweleries which girl wore at that time.
The creation of the above Mudaliyar class by the British in the 19th century, its restriction only to the Govigama caste, production of spurious caste hierarchy lists by this class and changes to the land tenure system, resulted in this caste too being classified as a low caste during this period. Although contrary to history, some modern Govigama historians even go to the extent to now suggest that this caste was traditionally bound to serve the Govi caste.
The influential Mudaliyar class attempted to keep this caste and all other Sri Lankan castes out of colonial appointments. The oppression by the Mudaliars and connected headmen extended to demanding subservience, service and even restrictions on the type of personal names that could be used by this community.
Despite the above odds, several members of this caste became pioneer Ship chandlers, commercial Laundry operators and successful Merchants during the British period and were recognised as members of the local elite.
To see a sample of India dhobi ghat please look this video place Bombay - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbbh2r5J8Oo Another video from Andhra Pradesh - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2jpe1QfZdM&feature=related
Members of this community are in all the leading professions in Sri Lanka and in commerce and make positive contributions to society. They are gaining an increased say in modern Sri Lankan politics, mainly through the alternative political party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna as the leadership selection processes within the two main political parties are not democratic. Caste discrimination by the Buddhist monastic establishment is also an impediment to the progress of this community.
Mentions in the literature
- Senkottan-Novel written by Mahinda Kumara Masimbula
- "Lenchina mage nangiye" song
- Chakali Ilamma - A key leader in Telangana Rebellion
- Basavaraju Saraiah - Former MLA and Ex-Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh.
- Usha Rajak - Nepalese film actress.
- Ranasinghe Premadasa - 3rd President of Sri Lanka.
- RAJAKA EMPLOYEES AND EDUCATED WELFARE ASSOCIATION website
- Rajaka Vikasa Kendra website
- Andhra Pradesh Rajaka / Chakali Community website
- Andhra Pradesh Rajaka Community website
- Rajaka Udupi Community website
- Madivala Karnataka Community website
- Ryan Bryce 1953 Caste in Modern Ceylon, Rutgers University Press
- Ceylon Gazetteer 1855