Bara Balutedar

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The Bara Balutedar system is a servant-cum-caste systems that was found in villages of Maharashtra, India. It was formally abolished by statute in 1958.

Groups that gained from Bara Balutedar include: Sunar (goldsmith), Gurav (temple servants), Nhawi (barbers), Parit (washers), Kumbhar (potters), Sutar (carpenters), Lohar (blacksmiths), Chambhar (cobblers), Dhor (makers of ornaments for cattle), Koli (water carriers), Chougula, and Mang (watchpeople).

Bara Balutedar were hereditary village servants. Some of them have either disappeared or are in the process of disappearing from village economy, but others are still in existence with their usefulness reduced owing to modern conditions of life. Under the baluta system, the balutedars have certain rights and privileges at ceremonies, etc. Their services are remunerated by the cultivators in the shape of an annual payment in sheaves of corn and a few seers of other grain grown in the field, such as wheat, hulga, gram, Tur, groundnut, etc. For special services rendered on ceremonial occasions payments are made in cash, corn or clothes. Sometimes food is given. The big cultivators who have occasion to indent on their services more frequently than the small cultivators make larger payments.

The balutedars whose services are still in demand in villages are the carpenter (sutar), the barber (nhavi), the Priests (gurav), the water-carrier (koli), the shoemaker (chambhar), the blacksmith (lohar), the washerman (parit), the potter (kumbhar), and the rope-maker (mang). There has been a tendency among them to leave the villages and seek their livelihood in cities and towns. The silversmith (potdar) as a balutedar has entirely disappeared. The village astrologer (gram joshi) is employed at the sweet will of the cultivators. All the religious ceremonies of the cultivators and allied classes are done through the gram joshi, for which he is given cash payment called " daksina". Some religious-minded cultivators give him some quantity of corn and other presents in kind.

The barber, as a balutedar, does many duties not connected with his profession. At the time of a marriage ceremony, when the bridegroom goes to the temple to pray, he holds his horse and receives a turban as present. At village festivals or marriage ceremonies he sometimes acts as a cook. He also serves food and water to the guests on such ceremonies. It is his privilege to act as a messenger at marriage ceremonies and call the invitees for the function. He does massage to persons of distinction at the village. He plays on the pipe and tambour at weddings and on other festive occasions.

The water-carrier not only supplies water to the villages but also keeps watch during floods in the case of villages situated on river banks. He is also useful to the villagers to take them across the river with the help of a sangad (floats joined together).

The castes whose work was considered less important by the farmers were known as alutedar.

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