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|Hindi, Rajasthani, Haryanvi, Awadhi, Gujarati Marathi Punjabi|
The Kumhar community is found throughout India, in both Hindu and Muslim religions. Depending upon the subgroup or region they are classified as both Other Backward Class and the Scheduled Caste. Additionally, there is a proposal under process in Indian Parliament that the caste Prajapati (Kumhar) be declared as Scheduled caste and as Scheduled tribe in the states of Bihar and Orissa respectively.
The Kumhars derive their name from the Sanskrit word Kumbhakar meaning earthen-pot maker. Dravidian languages conform to the same meaning of the term Kumbhakar. The term Bhande, used to designate the Kumhar caste, also means pot. The potters of Amritsar are called Kulal or Kalal, the term used in Yajurveda to denote the potter class.
A section of Hindu Kumhars honorifically call themselves Prajapati after Vedic Prajapati, the Lord, who created the universe.
According to a legend prevalent among Kumhars
Once Brahma divided sugarcane among his sons and each of them ate his share, but the Kumhara who was greatly absorbed in his work, forgot to eat. The piece which he had kept near his clay lump struck root and soon grew into a sugarcane plant. A few days later, when Brahma asked his sons for sugarcane, none of them could give it to him, excepting the Kumhara who offered a full plant. Brahma was pleased by the devotion of the potter to his work and awarded him the title Prajapati.
There is an opinion that this is because of their traditional creative skills of pottery, they are regarded as Prajapati.
The Potters are classified into Hindu and Muslim cultural groups. Among Hindus, inclusion of Artisan castes in Shudra Varna is indisputable. The potters belong to the Shudra group of artisans of Hindu society. They are further divided into two groups-clean caste and unclean caste .
Among the Kumhars are groups such as the Gujrati Kumhar, Rana Kumhar, Lad and Telangi. They all, bear these names after different cultural linguistic zones or caste groups but are termed as one caste cluster.
Distribution in India
The Kumhars of Chamba are expert in making pitchers, Surahis, vessels, grain jars, toys for entertainment and earthen lamps. Some of these pots bear paintings and designs also.
Kumhars are found in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Sholapur and Pune. They speak in Marathi among themselves but in Marathi as well as Hindi with outsiders. They use Devnagari script for communication. There are Kumbhars who do not belong to Maratha clan lives in Maharashtra and have occupation of making idols and pots. They are aware of the Hindu Varna hierarchy and consider themselves to be the Shudra, the lowest rank.
Hathretie and Chakretie (or Challakad) Kumhars are found in Madhya Pradesh. Hathretie Kumhars are called so because they traditionally moved the "chak" (potter's wheel) by hands ("hath"). Gola is a common surname among Kumhars in Madhya Pradesh Apart from being listed among OBC, Kumhar caste is categorized as a Scheduled caste in Chhatarpur, Datia, Panna, Satna, Tikamgarh, Sidhi and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.
In Rajasthan, Kumhars (Also known as Prajapat) have six sub-groups namely Mathera, Kumavat, Kheteri, Marwara, Timria and Mawalia. In the social hierarchy of Rajasthan, they are placed in the middle of the higher castes and the Harijans. They follow endogamy with clan exogamy.
Orissa and Bengal
In Bengal Kumhars are one among the ceremonially pure castes.The Jagannathia Kumhars of Orissa, who provide vessels for the rice distribution in Jagannath temple, have much higher rank in the society than the Kumhars of Central India.
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
The classification of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is same. The Kanaujia Kumhars are fairly respected in the society. They are called Pandit, but are distinct and different from Brahmins.The Magahiya Kumhars are treated little inferior to the Kanaujias and the Turkaha (Gadhere) Kumhars rank with untouchables. The caste Kumhar (Prajapati) has been granted Scheduled Caste status in Uttar Pradesh.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kumhar.|
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- The_Hindu Online edition of India's National Newspaper Thursday, Oct 06, 2005
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