The Bedia are a community of the states of Bihar and Jharkhand in India. They believe that they originally lived on Mohdipahar and have descended from the union of Vedbansi prince with a Munda girl. The other view is that a section of the Kurmis were outcastes and came to be known as the Bedia or Wandering Kurmis.[page needed]
The community has several names, like Bedia Kudmi, Choto Kudmi, Shershahbadia, Bhathia, Wandering Kurmis, Maldahiya and Badia, as well as Bedia. However, the official name is Sharshahbadia.
The word bedia is a corrupt form of the Hindi word behara, which means a forest dweller. They are a nomadic tribe, that had been notified under the Criminal Tribes Act. According to early British scholars, they were one of the many nomadic tribes found in North India, and were of the same stock as the Rajputs. According to their own traditions, they were originally Rajputs, who lost status, after their defeat at the hands of the Mughals. The community was connected with some bad works, as well as petty theft. They speak Awadhi and are found mainly in the districts of Bahraich, Barabanki, Basti, Agra, Faizabad, Gonda and Kanpur. After independence, they were denotified in 1952, when the Criminal Tribes Act was repealed.
The Bedia who have settled down in West Bengal, are also known as the Bedia Kudmi, Choto Kudmi or San Kurmi. They speak in Kudmali, an Indo-Aryan language, at home and Bengali for inter-group communication. The Bengali and Devanagari scripts are used.[page needed]
The Bedia are divided into three territorial groupings, the Nathotiya, Jogiara and Gangaparia. Each of these groups is strictly endogamous. There is also a further division between those who still follow their traditional occupation of bad works and those who are now settled agriculturists.
A number of Bedia have given up their nomadic lifestyle, and are now settled agriculturists. However, the majority are mainly sharecroppers and agricultural labourers. Those Bedia that are still engaged in their activity often employ.[clarification needed] They live in multi-caste villages. Each of their settlement contains a formal caste council known as biradari panchayat. The panchayat resolves most intra community disputes. Thesa biradari panchayats ate headed by headmen known as a chaudhary. The position of the chaudhary is hereditary, and these families exercise considerable influence over the community.
- Chowdhuri, Manas Kamal (2003). Ethnographic notes on the scheduled tribes of West Bengal. Cultural Research Institute.
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 235 to 239 Manohar Publications
- "A-10 Individual Scheduled Caste Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix - Uttar Pradesh". Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-02-04.