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For places in Iran, see Charan, Iran. For the biblical place, see Haran (biblical place).

Charan is a caste living in the Sindh, Rajasthan and Gujarat states of India.

Social structure[edit]

Charan society is based on written genealogy. A Charan will consider all the other Charans as equal even if they do not know each other and have radically different economic or geographic status.[1]

Food and drink[edit]

Their eating and drinking habits resemble those of the Rajputs. Charans used to enjoy consumption of opium and drinking of liquor, practices which are also popular among the Rajputs of this region.[2] Charans do not eat the flesh of cows and hold those who do in utter disregard. Cows are respected like mothers. A husband and wife will not drink milk from the same cow, or milk soiled by their counter part. Drinking milk from one mother (cow) symbolizes that those who do so should be considered as siblings. Before Indian independence in 1947, a sacrifice of a male buffalo constituted a major part of the celebration of Navratri.[3] Such celebrations quite often used to be presided over by Charan woman.[4]

Contributions in the history of Medieval India[edit]

Literature , history writing ,poems and participation in warfare as active combatants are an integral part of the identity of Charans. A whole genre of literature is known as Charan literature.[5] The Dingal language and literature exist largely due to this caste.[6][7] It is generally agreed that modern Rajasthani literature and history began with the works of Suryamal Misran, who was of the Charan caste.[8] Zaverchand Meghani divides Charani sahitya (literature) into thirteen subgenres:[5]

  1. Songs in praise of gods and goddesses (stavan)
  2. Songs in praise of heroes, saints and patrons (birdavalo)
  3. Descriptions of war (varanno)
  4. Rebukes of wavering great kings and men who use their power for evil (upalambho)
  5. Mockery of a standing treachery of heroism (thekadi)
  6. Love stories
  7. Laments for dead warriors, patrons and friends (marasiya or vilap kavya)
  8. Praise of natural beauty, seasonal beauty and festivals
  9. Descriptions of weapons
  10. Songs in praise of lions, horses, camels, and buffalo
  11. Sayings about didactic and practical cleverness
  12. Ancient epics
  13. Songs describing the anguish of people in times of famine and adversity

Other classifications of Charani sahitya are Khyatas (chronicles), Vartas and Vatas (stories), Raso (martial epics), Veli - Veli Krishan Rukman ri, Doha-Chhand (verses).[6][7]

Another form of Charani literature is the chirajaa, or song of Charan Maha Shakti mothers's worship. Other minor forms are aaranya and zilaniyu, which are also songs for worship.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Thomson, G. R. (1991). "Charans of Gujarat: Caste Identity, Music and Cultural Change". Ethnomusicology. 35 (3): 381–391. doi:10.2307/851968. JSTOR 851968. 
  2. ^ Singh, Khushwant (1982). We Indians. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks. OCLC 10710940. 
  3. ^ Harlan L (2003). Goddesses' Henchmen - Gender in Hero Worship. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 258. 
  4. ^ "Matanamadh, Desh Devi Ashapura". Matanamadh Jagir, Kachchh, India. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  5. ^ a b Meghani, Z. (1943). Charano and Charani Sahitya. Ahmedabad. 
  6. ^ a b Sharma G. N. (1968). Social Life in Medieval Rajasthan. Agra: Lakshmi Narayan Agarwal Educational Publisher. pp. 94–96. 
  7. ^ a b Smith, J. D. (1974). "An introduction to language of the historical documents from Rajasthan". Modern Asian Studies. 9 (4): 433–464. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00012841. 
  8. ^ "South Asian Arts: Rajasthani". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 

Further reading[edit]