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Nema (or Neema) is a subcaste and a merchant community mainly found in India's Madhya Pradesh state. Their name comes their ancestor, King Nimi. Nema means one who lives in accordance with niyama (codes of conducts); in this case, these are codes of conduct prescribed by the sage Bhrigu.
Legend has it that, when Parshuram was killing members of the Khastriya caste, Bhrigu sheltered and taught roughly 30 Khastriya students in his school. For their own protection, their education trained them for the duties of the Vaishya caste. Bhigru organized his students under 14 Rishis; accordingly, Nema are in 14 Gotra, each named after one of the Rishis:
Neema, and other titles of Nema in various places use a similar "Gotra" as system identification for matrimonial purposes.
In central India, people write "Nema"' with their name, but near the Malwa, Gujrat region they spell the word "Neema".
Nema were thought to mainly practice business when there were many currencies due to the influence of many kings and Britishmen in India. These persons were known as Seth or Mahajan. They used to work in other merchant businesses to hide their main wealth and business. In those days, even Kings fell short of wealth and these persons, have supplied it to them. They also influenced politics of that time through the economy, although only one of them, 'Bhamaashah', of Rana Pratap's time, is known.
Native place and migration
The native place of Nema was in the Jaipur (Rajasthan, India) Kingdom. Between 1700 and 1800 AD, large scale migration from Jaipur to central India occurred due to the decay of Rajput Kingdom in Jaipur; people desired a peaceful and prospective life in the calm, fertile land of Gondwana, which was in areas adjacent to rivers like Narmada and tributaries. The majority of the immigrants were Rajput and Banias. It is evident that only the distressed groups fled for goods. Nema were obligated to invite warriors and Kings to settle in Gondwana and central parts of India. °(Battle of Patan:-The Marathas under Holkar and General deBoigne defeat the Rajputs of Jaipur and Mughals at the Battle of Patan, where 3000+ Rajput cavalry was killed and the entire Mughal unit vanquished. The defeat crushed Rajput hope of independence from external influence.)
In colonial days, at the time of the world war, in an inland revolt against the colony, many of the aboriginals (Indians) were shipped to countries such as Africa, Australia, Mauritius, and so on. These persons also included Nema and descendants.
Consequently, Nema are now present all over the world. However, they had to adjust their code, conduct, language, and even religion according to their places of accommodation. Though Nema had massively migrated before, they are reluctant about globalization now due to the loss of their culture. However, in preservation of their heritage, there is a local saying: "All Nema are from Narsinghpur", as all the Nema have at least one relative in Narsinghpur, which is considered the homeland of Nema.
This caste system is unique to India. Currently, it helps people identify their origin and ethnography, and helps them to follow their social bindings.
The subcaste numbers nearly 4000 persons, the bulk of whom reside in the Saugor, Damoh, Narsinghpur and Seoni Districts. The Nemas are most largely returned from Central India, and are a Bundelkhand group; they will eat food cooked without water with Golapūrab Banias, who are also found in Bundelkhand. They are mainly Hindus, with a small minority of Jains. The origin of the name is obscure; the suggestion that it comes from Nimār appears to be untenable, as there are very few Nemas in that District. It is said that when Parasurāma was slaying the Kshatriyas, fourteen young Rājpūt princes, who at the time were studying religion with their family priests, were saved by the latter on renouncing their Kshatriya status and declaring themselves to be Vaishyas. These fourteen princes were the ancestors of the fourteen gotras of the Nema subcaste, but the gotras actually bear the names of the fourteen Rīshis or saints who saved their lives. These sections appear to be of the usual Brāhmanical type, but marriage is regulated by another set of fifty-two subsections, with names which are apparently titular or territorial. Like other Bania groups the Nemas are divided into Bīsa and Dasa subdivisions or twenties and tens, the Bīsa being of pure and the Dasa of irregular descent. There is also a third group of Pacha or fives, who appear to be the offspring of kept women. After some generations, when the details of their ancestry are forgotten, the Pachas probably obtain promotion into the Dasa group. The Bīsa and Dasa groups take food together, but do not intermarry. The Nemas wear  the sacred thread and apparently prohibit the remarriage of widows. The Nemas are considered to be very keen business men, and a saying about them is, “Where a sheep grazes or a Nema trades, what is there left for anybody else?”". Nemas or Neemas are known for their intellect, honesty and hard-work. In recent time they have proved to be successful lawyers, bankers, doctors, engineers, software professionals and business men. There are some eminent families which dominate the community specially in Central Madhya Pradesh areas. Some of these families are Lahiri family of Sagar, Choudhary Family, Modi family & Purawale family of Narsinghpur, Gupta families of Jabalpur and Bhopal, Badaghar, majhla ghar, Sanjhala ghar, Nanha ghaar, Naajar family, Khira family of Narsinghpur, Nayak family of Satna, Choudhary family of Bedu, Bhoria family, Seth family & Mandir-wale family of Kareli, Bakhar family of Mekh, etc. The towns and villages where Nema families live include Narsinghpur, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Satna, Sagar, Balaghat, Chhindwara, Seoni, Bhilai, Raipur, Kareli, Gadarwara, Amarwara, Aadegaon, Bedu, Mekh, Sighpur, Gotegaon, Dhamna, Naadia and Udaipura.In vidharbha region the Jain nema are found in Amravati, akola, and Nagpur in very less quantity, there language is somewhat rajsthani and marathi.
- Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, By R.V. Russell & Hira Lal, 1916
- The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India Volume II (Bania, Nema)
Nemas of Rajasthan
- People of India Rajathan Part II (By Kumar Suresh Singh, B. K. Lavania, D. K. Samanta, S. K. Mandal, Anthropological Survey of India, N. N. Vyas, Anthropological Survey of India Published 1998 Popular Prakashan), at Page 704-708, tells about Nemas of Rajasthan
- Volume II