Bania (caste)

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Bania women in British India. Image taken before 1860.

The Bania (also spelled as Baniya, Banija, Banya, Vaniya, Vani, Vania and Vanya) is an occupational community of merchants, bankers, money-lenders, and (in modern times) owners of commercial enterprises.[1][2] The community is composed of several sub-castes including the Agarwal Banias, Oswal Banias, and Porwal Banias, among others.[3] The term is used in a wider sense in Bengal than it is elsewhere in India, where it is applied to all money-lenders and indigenously developed bankers, irrespective of caste.[4] Most Banias follow Hinduism and Jainism but a few have converted to Sikhism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.[5][6][7]

The etymological origin lays in the Sanskrit word vanik, and they are deemed to be India's "pre-eminent" trading community, historically.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hardiman, David (1996). "Usury, Dearth and Famine in Western India". Past & Present. 152 (152): 113–156. doi:10.1093/past/152.1.113. ISSN 0031-2746. JSTOR 651058.
  2. ^ Cheesman, David (1982). "'The Omnipresent Bania:' Rural Moneylenders in Nineteenth-Century Sind". Modern Asian Studies. 16 (3): 445–462. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00015262. ISSN 0026-749X. JSTOR 312116. S2CID 145722413.
  3. ^ Hanks, Patrick (8 May 2003). Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press. p. xcvi. ISBN 978-0-19-977169-1.
  4. ^ Schrader, Heiko (1997). Changing financial landscapes in India and Indonesia: sociological aspects of monetization and market integration. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 68. ISBN 978-3-8258-2641-3.
  5. ^ Marenco, Ethne K. (1974). The Transformation of Sikh Society. HaPi Press. p. 151. The Banias were again predominantly Hindu, but there were many Jain Banias and also Sikh and Muslim Banias in lesser numbers, and very few Buddhist Banias. Such was the picture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  6. ^ Tyler, Stephen A. (1986). India: An Anthropological Perspective. Waveland Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-88133-245-2. Some, like the Khojah caste, are Bania groups converted to Islam by Muslim pirs (saints).
  7. ^ John, Jose Kalapura (2000). "King, Fort, Zamindaris and Missionaries: The Founding of Bihar's Oldest Christian Community, 1745". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 61: 1011–1028. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44148177.
  8. ^ Habib, Irfan (1990). "Merchant Communities in Precolonial India". In Tracy, James D. (ed.). The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750. Cambridge University Press. pp. 371–99. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511563089. ISBN 978-0-52145-735-4.
  9. ^ Ishwari Prasad (1986). Reservation, Action for Social Equality. Criterion Publications. Retrieved 23 February 2021. Here we are concerned only with upper backwards which have four castes ; Yadav ( 11.0 per cent ) , Koeri ( 4.0 per cent ) , Kurmi ( 3.5 per cent ) and Bania ( 0.6 per cent ) .

Further reading[edit]