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|Regions with significant populations|
|Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bangladesh,|
|Domari,[dubious ] Marathi, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Hindi, Odia, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Mundari|
|Hinduism, Islam, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Domba or Dom (Sanskrit ḍoma, dialectally also Domaki, Dombo, Domra, Domaka, Dombar, Dombari and variants) are an ethnic group, or groups, scattered across India. In North India, the preferred self-designation is Dom.
The form ḍomba Prakrit, while ḍoma and ḍumba are encountered in Kashmiri Sanskrit texts. Derived from ḍoma is ḍomaki, the name of a language spoken in a small enclave in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It is also believed that the Dom or Domi people of the Middle East, in addition to the Roma of Europe, are descendants of Domba, who were taken, or travelled, to Sassanid Persia as servants and musicians.
The term ḍoma or ḍomba is extensively used in Indian Hindu and Buddhist literature for a segregated and enslaved population.
Origin of the word Dom
Its presumed root, ḍom, which is connected with drumming, is linked to damara and damaru, Sanskrit terms for "drum" and the Sanskrit verbal root डम् ḍam- 'to sound (as a drum)', perhaps a loan from Dravidian, e.g. Kannada ḍamāra 'a pair of kettle-drums', and Telugu ṭamaṭama 'a drum, tomtom'.
In 1989, 500 people were counted as speaking Domaki in the Shina valley of Gilgit Baltistan region. The people are called Bericho, Dom, or Doma. They are musicians and blacksmiths. The Dom identity developed out of their work as musicians and blacksmiths. They are a heterogeneous group, descended from a number of families that took up service with the various local rulers. The Dom belong to the Nizari Ismaili sect in Hunza, and the Athna Ashri Shia sect in Nagar. After land reforms carries out by Pakistan government in the 1970s, the Dom were given ownership of land. However, the majority of the Dom are still landless, and are still employed as blacksmiths.
Dom in Himachal Pradesh exhibit the archetypical characteristics of an indigenous hunter gatherer tribe that has been incorporated as part of the caste system. Doms are agricultural workers, basket weavers and small scale agriculturalists. They are not known for their nomadic existence. They are also recognized by their neighbours as the original inhabitants of the forests lands.
With regard to the Dom community in Odisha, they speak Indo-Aryan Odia language. They live as neighbours to the Dravidian speaking Khonds tribals. Doms speak Dravidian Kondhi as well as Indo-Aryan Odia language.
In Varanasi, the holy Hindu city in Uttar Pradesh, the Dom perform the most important task of cremation of dead bodies. Many are nomadic and peripatetic groups in Uttar Pradesh are said to be of Dom origin such as the Bangali, Bhantu, Bazigar, Habura, Kanjar, and Sansi. It could also be that term Dom is generically used to describe any peripatetic nomad, as all these groups mentioned are distinct and strictly endogamous. Some speak a dialect or argot of their own, while others speak the prevailing dialect or language.
- Matras, Yaron (1 June 1995). Romani in Contact. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 21. ISBN 978-9-02727-648-3.
- T. Burrow and M.B. Emeneau, A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), p. 257, entry #2949.
- The Dom of Hunza (northern areas of Pakistan) / Anna Schmid in Disappearing peoples? : indigenous groups and ethnic minorities in South and Central Asia / edited by Barbara A. Brower, Barbara Rose Johnston. ISBN 1598741209
- Nomads in India : proceedings of the National Seminar / edited by P.K. Misra, K.C. Malhotra
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