Bari, Bengal

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This article is an extract from


Ethnographic Glossary.

Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press.
1891. .

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A small caste of Behar, who are supposed to bave come from the N orth-West Provinces or Oude. They are employed as makers of the leaf-platters (dona, khona, khaclona, pattal, p ai1'i, p atta, pat1'attl'i, panmal'a 1) used at Hindu entertainments and festivals. They also make and carry torohes, and sometimes sell betel-leaves. Their social rank is about the same as that of the Hajjam. Mr. N esBeld regards the Bari as" merely an offshoot from the semi-savage tribes known as Banmanush and Musahar.

He still assooiates with them at times; and if the demand for plates and cups (owing to some temporary oause, such as a looal fair or an unusual multitude of marriages) bappens to become larger than he oan at once supply, he gets them secretly made by bis ruder kinsfolk and retails them at a higher rate, passing them off' as his own production." If this view is oorrect, the Bari are a branch of a non-Aryan tribe who bave been given a fairly respeotable position in the Hindu system in con¬sequence of the demand for leaf-plates, whioh are largely used by the highest as well as by the lowest caste.

Instances of this sort, in which a non-Aryan or • mixed group is promoted on grounds of necessity or convenience to a higher status than their antecedents would entitle them to olaim, are not unknown in other castes, and must have occurred , frequently in outlying parts of the country, where the Aryan settlements were scanty and imperfectly supplied with the social apparatus demanded by tho theory of ceremonial purity. Thus the undoubtedly non-Aryan Bhuiyas have in parts of Chota Nagpur been recogni ed as jal-ricltarani; and it may be conjectUl'ed that the Kahars themselves only attained tbis privilege in virtue of their employment as palanquin-bearers. Of course in any case there is no breach of continuity and nothing resembling the sudden elevation of a social group. But a gradual upheaval takes place; the social levels are altered, and the fiction is maintained that things have been so all along.

The following statement shows the number and distribution of the Bari caste in 1872 and 1881 ;¬

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