Sapera caste

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Sapera (caste))
Jump to: navigation, search
A snake-charmer of the Sapera caste - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)

The Sapera are a Hindu caste found in North India. They are also known as Barwa Sampheriya in West Bengal, Sapela in Punjab and Sparera in Madhya Pradesh.[1][2][3]

A snake charmer in Delhi

Origin[edit]

Very little is known about the origin of the Sapera community. All that is known is that they are a community of snake charmers. They are one of a number of semi-nomadic communities found in North India, which live in camps at the outskirts of most North Indian towns.[4]

In Haryana, the community is known as the Sapera Nath. They are further divided into ten sub-groups, some of which are the Brahmin Sapera, Jhinwar Sapera, Soggar Sapera, BihaL Sapera, Nakphule Sapera, and Sandenath Sapera. These divisions are said to reflect the diverse origin of this community, where people of different caste backgrounds took to the occupation of snake charming, and over time evolved into a distinct community. They now have Scheduled Caste status in Haryana.[5]

In Punjab, the word Sapela is derived from the word sap, which means snake in Punjabi. They are also known as Nath. The community are as much snake catchers as snake charmers, and are employed by villagers as snake charmers. According to their traditions, the community descend from a Kanipa, a Jhinwar, who took to snake charming. They are nomadic, and are possibly of Dom origin. The Punjab Sapela speak Punjabi and found throughout the state.[6]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Sapera are divided into two endogamous groups, the Saharpua and the Baiga in up bareilly district & all up. These are further segmented into exogamous clans, and they maintain a strict system of clan exogamy. The principal occupation of the Sapera remains snake charming, and they go village to village, performing with deadly snake likes cobras. They are also expert snake catchers, and are often called in by other villagers to catch snakes and remove the poison from persons bitten by snakes. A small number of Sapera have also been involved in the manufacture of a course rope called the munj. Like other nomadic groups, the Indian state has exerted pressure for them to settle down. A few have now taken up permanent settlement, and are mainly share croppers. They remain an extremely marginalized group, suffering from poverty.[7]Sapera are known Baiga (Nath, Kanfhara, Bourrya, Lalbagi sub caste)in U.P. Eight perscent population of sapera community lives in U.P. Sapera community is known as Baiga in U.P Majority of this caste lives in mathura-46 Villages, Kanpur-50 villages Oreia52 villages Kanoj65,Jhasi 53 Villages, Pilibhit 6 villages, Bareilly 6 villages, Badaun-5 villages, Meerut 32 villages, Mujaffarnagar-3,. Subcaste of Sapera Community are Baiga,Borria, Lal Baiga, Kanfarar, Benua, etc. All these are listed as Baiga in UP.Chawan Sapera, Lava Sapera, sasar sapera, Dehran Sapera,Bharamin sapera, Chapprawal sapera are the main Cast. The Sapela community consists of a number of clans, the main ones being the Marar, Goar, Bhambi, Doom and Ladhu. All these clans are of equal status and intermarry. The Sapela are still largely involved in their traditional occupation of snake charming and snake catching, as well as collecting wild root and tubers, which they use for medicinal purposes. They are nomadic, and visit villages, often employed to catch snakes. The community are also associated with the playing the gourd pipe, known as a bin. Like other Sapera groups, they are extremely marginalized, and have been granted scheduled caste status.[8]

Most Sapera are Hindu by faith, although a small number have converted to Islam, and form a distinct community of Muslim Saperas. The Hindu Sapera are followers of the shakti cult and worship the goddess Kali.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 1268 to 1272 Manohar Publications
  2. ^ People of India Haryana Volume XXIII edited by M.K Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 380 to 385 Manohar
  3. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 398 to 400 Manohar
  4. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 1268 to 1272 Manohar Publications
  5. ^ People of India Haryana Volume XXIII edited by M.K Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 380 to 385 Manohar
  6. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 398 to 400 Manohar
  7. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 1268 to 1272 Manohar Publications
  8. ^ People of India Punjab Volume XXXVII edited by I.J.S Bansal and Swaran Singh pages 398 to 400 Manohar