19. Villages and houses
An ordinary Kunbi village  contains between 70 and 80 houses or some 400 souls. The village generally lies on a slight eminence near a nullah or stream, and is often nicely planted with tamarind or pipal trees. The houses are now generally tiled for fear of fire, and their red roofs may be seen from a distance forming a little cluster on high lying ground, an elevated site being selected so as to keep the roads fairly dry, as the surface tracks in black-soil country become almost impassable sloughs of mud as soon as the rains have broken. The better houses stand round an old mud fort, a relic of the Pindari raids, when, on the first alarm of the approach of these marauding bands, the whole population hurried within its walls. The village proprietor's house is now often built inside the fort. It is an oblong building surrounded by a compound wall of unbaked bricks, and with a gateway through which a cart can drive. Adjoining the entrance on each side are rooms for the reception of guests, in which constables, chuprassies and others are lodged when they stay at night in the village. Kothas or sheds for keeping cattle and grain stand against the walls, and the dwelling-house is at the back. Substantial tenants have a house like the proprietor's, of well-laid mud, whitewashed and with tiled roof; but the ordinary cultivator's house is one-roomed, with an angan or small yard in front and a little space for a garden behind, in which vegetables are grown during the rains. The walls are of bamboo matting plastered over with mud. The married couples sleep inside, the room being partitioned off if there are two or more in the family, and the older persons sleep in the verandahs. In the middle of the village by the biggest temple will be an old pipal tree, the trunk encircled by an earthen or stone platform, which answers to the village club. The respectable inhabitants will meet here while the lower classes go to the liquor-shop nearly every night to smoke and chat. The blacksmith's and carpenter's shops are also places of common resort for the cultivators. Hither they wend in the morning and evening, often taking with them some implement which has to be mended, and stay to talk. The blacksmith in particular is said to be a great gossip, and will often waste much of his customer's time, plying him for news and retailing it, before he repairs and hands back the tool brought to him. The village is sure to contain two or three little temples of Maroti or Mahadeo. The stones which do duty for the images are daily oiled with butter or ghi, and a miscellaneous store of offerings will accumulate round the buildings. Outside the village will be a temple of Devi or Mata Mai (Smallpox Goddess) with a heap of little earthen horses and a string of hens' feet and feathers hung up on the wall. The little platforms which are the shrines of the other village gods will be found in the fields or near groves. In the evening the elders often meet at Maroti's temple and pay their respects to the deity, bowing or prostrating themselves before him. A lamp before the temple is fed by contributions of oil from the women, and is kept burning usually up to midnight. Once a year in the month, of Shrawan (July) the villagers subscribe and have a feast, the Kunbis eating first and the menial and labouring castes after them. In this month also all the village deities are worshipped by the Joshi or priest and the villagers. In summer the cultivators usually live in their fields, where they erect temporary sheds of bamboo matting roofed with juari stalks. In these most of the household furniture is stored, while at a little distance in another funnel-shaped erection of bamboo matting is kept the owner's grain. This system of camping out is mainly adopted for fear of fire in the village, when the cultivator's whole stock of grain and his household goods might be destroyed in a few minutes without possibility of saving them. The women stay in the village, and the men and boys go there for their midday and evening meals.
Ordinary cultivators have earthen pots for cooking purposes and brass ones for eating from, while the well-to-do have all their vessels of brass. The furniture consists of a few stools and cots. No Kunbi will lie on the ground, probably because a dying man is always laid on the ground to breathe his last; and so every one has a cot consisting of a wooden frame with a bed made of hempen string or of the root-fibres of the palas tree (Butea frondosa). These cots are always too short for a man to lie on them at full length, and are in consequence supremely uncomfortable. The reason may perhaps be found in the belief that a man should always lie on a bed a little shorter than himself so that his feet project over the end. Because if the bed is longer than he is, it resembles a bier, and if he lies on a bier once he may soon die and lie on it a second time. For bathing they make a little enclosure in the compound with mats, and place two or three flat stones in it. Hot water is generally used and they rub the perspiration off their bodies with a flat stone called Jhawar. Most Kunbis bathe daily. On days when they are shaved they plaster the head with soft black earth, and then wash it off and rub their bodies with a little linseed or sesamum oil, or, if they can afford it, with cocoanut oil.
The Kunbis eat three times a day, at about eight in the morning, at midday and after dark. The morning meal is commonly eaten in the field and the two others at home. At midday the cultivator comes home from work, bathes and takes his meal, having a rest for about two hours in all. After finishing work he again comes home and has his evening meal, and then, after a rest, at about ten o'clock he goes again to the fields, if the crops are on the ground, and sleeps on the mara or small elevated platform erected in the field to protect the grain from birds and wild animals; occasionally waking and emitting long-drawn howls or pulling the strings which connect with clappers in various parts of the field. Thus for nearly eight months of the year the Kunbi sleeps in his fields, and only during the remaining period at home. Juari is the staple food of the caste, and is eaten both raw and cooked. The raw pods of juari were the provision carried with them on their saddles by the marauding Maratha horsemen, and the description of Sivaji getting his sustenance from gnawing at one of these as he rode along is said to have struck fear into the heart of the Nizam. It is a common custom among well-to-do tenants and proprietors to invite their friends to a picnic in the fields when the crop is ripe to eat hurda or the pods of juari roasted in hot ashes. For cooking purposes juari is ground in an ordinary handmill and then passed through a sieve, which separates the finer from the coarser particles. The finer flour is made into dough with hot water and baked into thick flat chapatis or cakes, weighing more than half a pound each; while the coarse flour is boiled in water like rice. The boiled pulse of arhar (Cajanus indicus) is commonly eaten with juari, and the chapatis are either dipped into cold linseed oil or consumed dry. The sameness of this diet is varied by a number of green vegetables, generally with very little savour to a European palate. These are usually boiled and then mixed into a salad with linseed or sesamum oil and flavoured with salt or powdered chillies, these last being the Kunbi's indispensable condiment. He is also very fond of onions and garlic, which are either chopped and boiled, or eaten raw. Butter-milk when available is mixed with the boiled juari after it is cooked, while wheat and rice, butter and sugar are delicacies reserved for festivals. As a rule only water is drunk, but the caste indulge in country liquor on festive occasions. Tobacco is commonly chewed after each meal or smoked in leaf cigarettes, or in chilams or clay pipe-bowls without a stem. Men also take snuff, and a few women chew tobacco and take snuff, though they do not smoke. It is noticeable that different subdivisions of the caste will commonly take food from each other in Berar, whereas in the Central Provinces they refuse to do so. The more liberal usage in Berar is possibly another case of Muhammadan influence. Small children eat with their father and brothers, but the women always wait on the men, and take their own food afterwards. Among the Dalia Kunbis of Nimar, however, women eat before men at caste feasts in opposition to the usual practice. It is stated in explanation that on one occasion when the men had finished their meal first and gone home, the women on returning were waylaid in the dark and robbed of their ornaments. And hence it was decided that they should always eat first and go home before nightfall. The Kunbi is fairly liberal in the matter of food. He will eat the flesh of goats, sheep and deer, all kinds of fish and fowls, and will drink liquor. In Hoshangabad and Nimar the higher subcastes abstain from flesh and wine. The caste will take food cooked without water from Brahmans, Banias and Sunars, and that mixed with water only from Maratha Brahmans. All castes except Maratha Brahmans will take water from the hands of a Kunbi.
22. Clothes and ornaments
The dress of the ordinary cultivator is most common-place and consists only of a loin-cloth, another cloth thrown over the shoulders and upper part of the body, which except for this is often bare, and a third rough cloth wound loosely round the head. All these, originally white, soon assume a very dingy hue. There is thus no colour in a man's everyday attire, but the gala dress for holidays consists of a red pagri or turban, a black, coloured or white coat, and a white loin-cloth with red silk borders if he can afford it. The Kunbi is seldom or never seen with his head bare; this being considered a bad omen because every one bares his head when a death occurs. Women wear lugras, or a single long cloth of red, blue or black cotton, and under this the choli, or small breast-cloth. They have one silk-bordered cloth for special occasions. A woman having a husband alive must not wear a white cloth with no colour in it, as this is the dress of widows. A white cloth with a coloured border may be worn. The men generally wear shoes which are open at the back of the heel, and clatter as they move along. Women do not, as a rule, wear shoes unless these are necessary for field work, or if they go out just after their confinement. But they have now begun to do so in towns. Women have the usual collection of ornaments on all parts of the person. The head ornaments should be of gold when this metal can be afforded. On the finger they have a miniature mirror set in a ring; as a rule not more than one ring is worn, so that the hands may be free for work. For a similar reason glass bangles, being fragile, are worn only on the left wrist and metal ones on the right. But the Dhanoje Kunbis, as already stated, have cocoanut shell bangles on both wrists. They smear a mark of red powder on the forehead or have a spangle there. Girls are generally tattooed in childhood when the skin is tender, and the operation is consequently less painful. They usually have a small crescent and circle between the brows, small circles or dots on each temple and on the nose, cheeks and chin, and five small marks on the back of the hands to represent flies. Some of the Deshmukh families have now adopted the sacred thread; they also put caste marks on the forehead, and wear the shape of pagri or turban formerly distinctive of Maratha Brahmans.
23. The Kunbi as cultivator
The Kunbi has the stolidity, conservative instincts, dulness and patience of the typical agriculturist. Sir R. Craddock describes him as follows : "Of the purely agricultural classes the Kunbis claim first notice. They are divided into several sections or classes, and are of Maratha origin, the Jhari Kunbis (the Kunbis of the wild country) being the oldest settlers, and the Deshkar (the Kunbis from the Deccan) the most recent. The Kunbi is certainly a most plodding, patient mortal, with a cat-like affection for his land, and the proprietary and cultivating communities, of both of which Kunbis are the most numerous members, are unlikely to fail so long as he keeps these characteristics. Some of the more intelligent and affluent of the caste, who have risen to be among the most prosperous members of the community, are as shrewd men of business in their way as any section of the people, though lacking in education. I remember one of these, a member of the Local Board, who believed that the land revenue of the country was remitted to England annually to form part of the private purse of the Queen Empress. But of the general body of the Kunbi caste it is true to say that in the matter of enterprise, capacity to hold their own with the moneylender, determination to improve their standard of comfort, or their style of agriculture, they lag far behind such cultivating classes as the Kirar, the Raghvi and the Lodhi. While, however, the Kunbi yields to these classes in some of the more showy attributes which lead to success in life, he is much their superior in endurance under adversity, he is more law-abiding, and he commands, both by reason of his character and his caste, greater social respect among the people at large. The wealthy Kunbi proprietor is occasionally rather spoilt by good fortune, or, if he continues a keen cultivator, is apt to be too fond of land-grabbing. But these are the exceptional cases, and there is generally no such pleasing spectacle as that afforded by a village in which the cultivators and the proprietors are all Kunbis living in harmony together." The feeling  of the Kunbi towards agricultural improvements has hitherto probably been something the same as that of the Sussex farmer who said, 'Our old land, it likes our old ploughs' to the agent who was vainly trying to demonstrate to him the advantages of the modern two-horse iron plough over the great wooden local tool; and the emblem ascribed to old Sussex—a pig couchant with the motto 'I wun't be druv'—would suit the Kunbi equally well. But the Kunbi, too, though he could not express it, knows something of the pleasure of the simple outdoor life, the fresh smell of the soil after rain, the joy of the yearly miracle when the earth is again carpeted with green from the bursting into life of the seed which he has sown, and the pleasure of watching the harvest of his labours come to fruition. He, too, as has been seen, feels something corresponding to "That inarticulate love of the English farmer for his land, his mute enjoyment of the furrow crumbling from the ploughshare or the elastic tread of his best pastures under his heel, his ever-fresh satisfaction at the sight of the bullocks stretching themselves as they rise from the soft grass."
24. Social and moral characteristics
Some characteristics of the Maratha people are noticed by Sir R. Jenkins as follows : "The most remarkable feature perhaps in the character of the Marathas of all descriptions is the little regard they pay to show or ceremony in the common intercourse of life. A peasant or mechanic of the lowest order, appearing before his superiors, will sit down of his own accord, tell his story without ceremony, and converse more like an equal than an inferior; and if he has a petition he talks in a loud and boisterous tone and fearlessly sets forth his claims. Both the peasantry and the better classes are often coarse and indelicate in their language, and many of the proverbs, which they are fond of introducing into conversation, are extremely gross. In general the Marathas, and particularly the cultivators, are not possessed of much activity or energy of character, but they have quick perception of their own interest, though their ignorance of writing and accounts often renders them the dupes of the artful Brahmans." "The Kunbi," Mr. Forbes remarks,  "though frequently all submission and prostration when he makes his appearance in a revenue office, is sturdy and bold enough among his own people. He is fond of asserting his independence and the helplessness of others without his aid, on which subject he has several proverbs, as: 'Wherever it thunders there the Kunbi is a landholder,' and 'Tens of millions are dependent on the Kunbi, but the Kunbi depends on no man.'" This sense of his own importance, which has also been noticed among the Jats, may perhaps be ascribed to the Kunbi's ancient status as a free and full member of the village community. "The Kunbi and his bullocks are inseparable, and in speaking of the one it is difficult to dissociate the other. His pride in these animals is excusable, for they are most admirably suited to the circumstances in which nature has placed them, and possess a very wide-extended fame. But the Kunbi frequently exhibits his fondness for them in the somewhat peculiar form of unmeasured abuse. 'May the Kathis  seize you!' is his objurgation if in the peninsula of Surat; if in the Idar district or among the mountains it is there 'May the tiger kill you!' and all over Gujarat, 'May your master die!' However, he means by this the animal's former owner, not himself; and when more than usually cautious he will word his chiding thus—'May the fellow that sold you to me perish.'" But now the Kathis raid no more and the tiger, though still taking good toll of cattle in the Central Provinces, is not the ever-present terror that once he was. But the bullock himself is no longer so sacrosanct in the Kunbi's eyes, and cannot look forward with the same certainty to an old age of idleness, threatened only by starvation in the hot weather or death by surfeit of the new moist grass in the rains; and when therefore the Kunbi's patience is exhausted by these aggravating animals, his favourite threat at present is, 'I will sell you to the Kasais' (butchers); and not so very infrequently he ends by doing so. It may be noted that with the development of the cotton industry the Kunbi of Wardha is becoming much sharper and more capable of protecting his own interests, while with the assistance and teaching which he now receives from the Agricultural Department, a rapid and decided improvement is taking place in his skill as a cultivator.
Kunjra. —A caste of greengrocers, who sell country vegetables and fruit and are classed as Muhammadans. Mr. Crooke derives the name from the Sanskrit kunj, 'a bower or arbour.' They numbered about 1600 persons in the Central Provinces in 1911, principally in the Jubbulpore Division. The customs of the Kunjras appear to combine Hindu and Muhammadan rites in an indiscriminate medley. It is reported that marriage is barred only between real brothers and sisters and foster brothers and sisters, the latter rule being known as Dudh bachana, or 'Observing the tie of the milk.' At their betrothal presents are given to the parties, and after this a powder of henna leaves is sent to the boy, who rubs it on his fingers and returns it to the girl that she may do the same. As among the Hindus, the bodies of the bridal couple are anointed with oil and turmeric at their respective houses before the wedding. A marriage-shed is made and the bridegroom goes to the bride's house wearing a cotton quilt and riding on a bullock. The barber holds the umbrella over his head and must be given a present before he will fold it, but the wedding is performed by the Kazi according to the Nikah ceremony by the repetition of verses from the Koran. The wedding is held at four o'clock in the morning, and as a preliminary to it the bride is presented with some money by the boy's father, which is known as the Meher or dowry. On its conclusion a cup of sherbet is given to the bridegroom, of which he drinks half and hands the remainder to the bride. The gift of the Meher is considered to seal the marriage contract. When a widow is married the Kazi is also employed, and he simply recites the Kalama or Muhammadan profession of belief, and the ceremony is completed by the distribution of dates to the elders of the caste. Divorce is permitted and is known as talaq. The caste observe the Muhammadan festivals, and have some favourite saints of their own to whom they make offerings of gulgula a kind of pudding, with sacrifices of goats and fowls. Participation in these rites is confined to members of the family. Children are named on the day of their birth, the Muhammadan Kazi or a Hindu Brahman being employed indifferently to select the name. If the parents lose one or more children, in order to preserve the lives of those subsequently born, they will allow the choti or scalp-lock to grow on their heads in the Hindu fashion, dedicating it to one of their Muhammadan saints. Others will put a hasli or silver circlet round the neck of the child and add a ring to this every year; a strip of leather is sometimes also tied round the neck. When the child reaches the age of twelve years the scalp-lock is shaved, the leather band thrown into a river and the silver necklet sold. Offerings are made to the saints and a feast is given to the friends of the family. The dead are buried, camphor and attar of roses being applied to the corpse. On the Tija and Chalisa, or third and fortieth days after a death, a feast is given to the caste-fellows, but no mourning is observed, neither do the mourners bathe nor perform ceremonies of purification. On the Tija the Koran is also read and fried grain is distributed to children. For the death of a child the ordinary feasts need not be given, but prayers are offered for their souls with those of the other dead once a year on the night of Shab-i-Barat or the fifteenth day of the month Shaban,  which is observed as a vigil with prayer, feasts and illuminations and offerings to the ancestors. Kunjra men are usually clean-shaven with the exception of the beard, which is allowed to grow long below the chin. Their women are not tattooed. In the cities, Mr. Crooke remarks,  their women have an equivocal reputation, as the better-looking girls who sit in the shops are said to use considerable freedom of manners to attract customers. They are also very quarrelsome and abusive when bargaining for the sale of their wares or arguing with each other. This is so much the case that men who become very abusive are said to be behaving like Kunjras; while in Dacca Sir H. Risley states  that the word Kunjra has become a term of abuse, so that the caste are ashamed to be known by it, and call themselves Mewa-farosh, Sabzi-farosh or Bepari. When two women are having an altercation, their husbands and other male relatives are forbidden to interfere on pain of social degradation. The women never sit on the ground, but on small wooden stools or pirhis. The Kunjras belong chiefly to the north of the Province, and in the south their place is taken by the Marars and Malis who carry their own produce for sale to the markets. The Kunjras sell sugarcane, potatoes, onions and all kinds of vegetables, and others deal in the dried fruits imported by Kabuli merchants.
Kuramwar. —The shepherd caste of southern India, who are identical with the Tamil Kurumba and the Telugu Kuruba. The caste is an important one in Madras, but in the Central Provinces is confined to the Chanda District where it numbered some 4000 persons in 1911. The Kuramwars are considered to be the modern representatives of the ancient Pallava tribe whose kings were powerful in southern India in the seventh century. 
The marriage rules of the Kuramwars are interesting. If a girl reaches adolescence while still single, she is finally expelled from the caste, her parents being also subjected to a penalty for readmission. Formerly it is said that such a girl was sacrificed to the river-goddess by being placed in a small hut on the river-bank till a flood came and swept her away. Now she is taken to the river and kept in a hut, while offerings are made to the river-goddess, and she may then return and live in the village though she is out of caste. In Madras, as a preliminary to the marriage, the bridegroom's father observes certain marks or 'curls' on the head or hair of the bride proposed. Some of these are believed to forecast prosperity and others misery to the family into which she enters. They are therefore very cautious in selecting only such girls as possess curls (suli) of good fortune. The writer of the North Arcot Manual  after recording the above particulars, remarks: "This curious custom obtaining among this primitive tribe is observed by others only in the case of the purchase of cows, bulls and horses." In the Central Provinces, however, at least one parallel instance can be given from the northern Districts where any mark resembling the V on the head of a cobra is considered to be very inauspicious. And it is told that a girl who married into one well-known family bore it, and to this fact the remarkable succession of misfortunes which has attended the family is locally attributed. Among the Kuramwars marriages can be celebrated only on four days in the year, the fifth day of both fortnights of Phagun (February), the tenth day of the second fortnight of the same month and the third day of Baisakh (April). At the marriage the bride and bridegroom are seated together under the canopy, with the shuttle which is used for weaving blankets between them, and they throw coloured rice at each other. After this a miniature swing is put up and a doll is placed in it in imitation of a child and swung to and fro. The bride then takes the doll out and gives it to the bridegroom, saying: 'Here, take care of it, I am now going to cook food'; while after a time the boy returns the doll to the girl, saying, 'I must now weave the blanket and go to tend the flock.' The proceeding seems a symbolic enactment of the cares of married life and the joint tending of the baby, this sort of symbolism being particularly noticeable in the marriage ceremonies of the people of Madras. Divorce is not permitted even though the wife be guilty of adultery, and if she runs away to her father's house her husband cannot use force to bring her back if she refuses to return to him. The Kuramwars worship the implements of their calling at the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, and if any family fails to do this it is put out of caste. They also revere annually Mallana Deva and Mallani Devi who guard their flocks respectively from attacks of tigers and epidemics of murrain. The shrines of these deities are generally built under a banyan tree and open to the east. The caste are shepherds and graziers and also make blankets. They are poor and ignorant, and the Abbe Dubois  says of them: "Being confined to the society of their woolly charge, they seem to have contracted the stupid nature of the animal, and from the rudeness of their nature they are as much beneath the other castes of Hindus as the sheep by their simplicity and imperfect instruction are beneath the other quadrupeds." Hence the proverbial comparison 'As stupid as a Kuramwar.' When out of doors the Kuramwar retains the most primitive method of eating and drinking; he takes his food in a leaf and licks it up with his tongue, and sucks up water from a tank or river with his mouth. They justify this custom by saying that on one occasion their god had taken his food out of the house on a leaf-plate and was proceeding to eat it with his hands when his sheep ran away and he had to go and fetch them back. In the meantime a crow came and pecked at the food and so spoilt it. It was therefore ordained that all the caste should eat their food straight off the leaf, in order to do which they would have to take it from the cooking-pot in small quantities and there would be no chance of leaving any for the crows to spoil. The story is interesting as showing how very completely the deity of the Kuramwars is imagined on the principle that god made man in his own image. Or, as a Frenchman has expressed the idea, 'Dieu a fait l'homme a son image, mais l'homme le lui a bein rendu.' The caste are dark in colour and may be distinguished by their caps made from pieces of blankets, and by their wearing a woollen cord round the waist over the loin-cloth. They speak a dialect of Canarese.
List of Paragraphs
1. Numbers and derivation of name. 2. Functional character of the caste. 3. Sub castes. 4. Exogamous groups. 5. Marriage rules. Betrothal. 6. The marriage-shed or pavillion. 7. The marriage cakes. 8. Customs at the wedding. 9. Walking round the sacred post. 10. Other ceremonies. 11. Polygamy, widow-marriage and divorce. 12. Impurity of women. 13. Pregnancy rites. 14. Earth-eating. 15. Customs at birth. 16. Treatment of mother and child. 17. Ceremonies after birth. 18. Suckling children. 19. Beliefs about twins. 20. Disposal of the dead. 21. Funeral rites. 22. Burning the dead. 23. Burial. 24. Return of the soul. 25. Mourning. 26. Shaving, and presents to Brahmans. 27. End of mourning. 28. Anniversaries of the dead. 29. Beliefs in the hereafter. 30. Religion. Village gods. 31. Sowing the Jawaras or gardens of Adonis. 32. Rites connected with the crops. Customs of cultivation. 33. Agricultural superstitions. 34. Houses. 35. Superstitions about houses. 36. Furniture. 37. Clothes. 38. Women's clothes. 39. Bathing. 40. Food. 41. Caste feasts. 42. Hospitality. 43. Social customs. Tattooing. 44. Caste penalties. 45. The cultivating status. 46. Occupation. Appendix. List of exogamous clans.
1. Numbers and derivation of name
Kurmi. —The representative cultivating caste of Hindustan or the country comprised roughly in the United Provinces, Bihar arid the Central Provinces north of the Nerbudda. In 1911 the Kurmis numbered about 300,000 persons in the Central Provinces, of whom half belonged to the Chhattisgarh Division and a third to the Jubbulpore Division; the Districts in which they were most numerous being Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore, Hoshangabad, Raipur, Bilaspur and Drug. The name is considered to be derived from the Sanskrit krishi, cultivation, or from kurma, the tortoise incarnation of Vishnu, whether because it is the totem of the caste or because, as suggested by one writer, the Kurmi supports the population of India as the tortoise supports the earth. It is true that many Kurmis say they belong to the Kashyap gotra, Kashyap being the name of a Rishi, which seems to have been derived from kachhap, the tortoise; but many other castes also say they belong to the Kashyap gotra or worship the tortoise, and if this has any connection with the name of the caste it is probable that the caste-name suggested the gotra-name and not the reverse. It is highly improbable that a large occupational caste should be named after an animal, and the metaphorical similitude can safely be rejected. The name seems therefore either to come from krishi, cultivation, or from some other unknown source.
2. Functional character of the caste
There seems little reason to doubt that the Kurmis, like the Kunbis, are a functional caste. In Bihar they show traces of Aryan blood, and are a fine-looking race. But in Chota Nagpur Sir H. Risley states: "Short, sturdy and of very dark complexion, the Kurmis closely resemble in feature the Dravidian tribes around them. It is difficult to distinguish a Kurmi from a Bhumij or Santal, and the Santals will take cooked food from them."  In the Central Provinces they are fairly dark in complexion and of moderate height, and no doubt of very mixed blood. Where the Kurmis and Kunbis meet the castes sometimes amalgamate, and there is little doubt that various groups of Kurmis settling in the Maratha country have become Kunbis, and Kunbis migrating to northern India have become Kurmis. Each caste has certain subdivisions whose names belong to the other. It has been seen in the article on Kunbi that this caste is of very diverse origin, having assimilated large bodies of persons from several other castes, and is probably to a considerable extent recruited from the local non-Aryan tribes; if then the Kurmis mix so readily with the Kunbis, the presumption is that they are of a similar mixed origin, as otherwise they should consider themselves superior. Mr. Crooke gives several names of subcastes showing the diverse constitution of the Kurmis. Thus three, Gaharwar, Jadon and Chandel are the names of Rajput clans; the Kori subcaste must be a branch of the low weaver caste of that name; and in the Central Provinces the names of such subcastes as the Agaria or iron-workers, the Lonhare or salt-refiners, and the Khaira or catechu-collectors indicate that these Kurmis are derived from low Hindu castes or the aboriginal tribes.
The caste has a large number of subdivisions. The Usrete belonged to Bundelkhand, where this name is found in several castes; they are also known as Havelia, because they live in the rich level tract of the Jubbulpore Haveli, covered like a chessboard with large embanked wheat-fields. The name Haveli seems to have signified a palace or headquarters of a ruler, and hence was applied to the tract surrounding it, which was usually of special fertility, and provided for the maintenance of the chief's establishment and household troops. Thus in Jubbulpore, Mandia and Betul we find the forts of the old Gond rulers dominating an expanse of rich plain-country. The Usrete Kurmis abstain from meat and liquor, and may be considered as one of the highest subcastes. Their name may be derived from a-sreshtha, or not the best, and its significance would be that formerly they were considered to be of mixed origin, like most castes in Bundelkhand. The group of Sreshtha or best-born Kurmis has now, however, died out if it ever existed, and the Usretes have succeeded in establishing themselves in its place. The Chandnahes of Jubbulpore or Chandnahus of Chhattisgarh are another large subdivision. The name may be derived from the village Chandnoha in Bundelkhand, but the Chandnahus of Chhattisgarh say that three or four centuries ago a Rajput general of the Raja of Ratanpur had been so successful in war that the king allowed him to appear in Durbar in his uniform with his forehead marked with sandalwood, as a special honour. When he died his son continued to do the same, and on the king's attention being drawn to it he forbade him. But the son did not obey, and hence the king ordered the sandalwood to be rubbed from his forehead in open Durbar. But when this was done the mark miraculously reappeared through the agency of the goddess Devi, whose favourite he was. Three times the king had the mark rubbed out and three times it came again. So he was allowed to wear it thereafter, and was called Chandan Singh from chandan, sandalwood; and his descendants are the Chandnahu Kurmis. Another derivation is from Chandra, the moon. In Jubbulpore these Chandnahes sometimes kill a pig under the palanquin of a newly married bride. In Bilaspur they are prosperous and capable cultivators, but are generally reputed to be stingy, and therefore are not very popular. Here they are divided into the Ekbahinyas and Dobahinyas, or those who wear glass bangles on one or both arms respectively. The Chandraha Kurmis of Raipur are probably a branch of the Chandnahus. They sprinkle with water the wood with which they are about to cook their food in order to purify it, and will eat food only in the chauka or sanctified place in the house. At harvest when they must take meals in the fields, one of them prepares a patch of ground, cleaning and watering it, and there cooks food for them all.
The Singrore Kurmis derive their name from Singror, a place near Allahabad. Singror is said to have once been a very important town, and the Lodhis and other castes have subdivisions of this name. The Desha Kurmis are a group of the Mungeli tahsil of Bilaspur. Desh means one's native country, but in this case the name probably refers to Bundelkhand. Mr. Gordon states  that they do not rear poultry and avoid residing in villages in which their neighbours keep poultry. The Santore Kurmis are a group found in several Districts, who grow san-hemp,  and are hence looked down upon by the remainder of the caste. In Raipur the Manwa Kurmis will also do this; Mana is a word sometimes applied to a loom, and the Manwa Kurmis may be so called because they grow hemp and weave sacking from the fibres. The Pataria are an inferior group in Bilaspur, who are similarly despised because they grow hemp and will take their food in the fields in patris or leaf-plates. The Gohbaiyan are considered to be an illegitimate group; the name is said to signify 'holding the arm.' The Bahargaiyan, or 'those who live outside the town,' are another subcaste to which children born out of wedlock are relegated. The Palkiha subcaste of Jubbulpore are said to be so named because their ancestors were in the service of a certain Raja and spread his bedding for him; hence they are somewhat looked down on by the others. The name may really be derived from palal, a kind of vegetable, and they may originally have been despised for growing this vegetable, and thus placing themselves on a level with the gardening castes. The Masuria take their name from the masur or lentil, a common cold-weather crop in the northern Districts, which is, however, grown by all Kurmis and other cultivators; and the Agaria or iron-workers, the Kharia or catechu-makers, and the Lonhare or salt-makers, have already been mentioned. There are also numerous local or territorial subcastes, as the Chaurasia or those living in a Chaurasi  estate of eighty-four villages, the Pardeshi or foreigners, the Bundelkhandi or those who came from Bundelkhand, the Kanaujias from Oudh, the Gaur from northern India, and the Marathe and Telenge or Marathas and Telugus; these are probably Kunbis who have been taken into the caste. The Gabel are a small subcaste in Sakti State, who now prefer to drop the name Kurmi and call themselves simply Gabel. The reason apparently is that the other Kurmis about them sow san-hemp, and as they have ceased doing this they try to separate themselves and rank above the rest. But they call the bastard group of their community Rakhaut Kurmis, and other people speak of all of them as Gabel Kurmis, so that there is no doubt that they belong to the caste. It is said that formerly they were pack-carriers, but have now abandoned this calling in favour of cultivation.
4. Exogamous groups
Each subcaste has a number of exogamous divisions and these present a large variety of all types. Some groups have the names of Brahman saints as Sandil, Bharadwaj, Kausil and Kashyap; others are called after Rajput septs, as Chauhan, Rathor, Panwar and Solanki; other names are of villages, as Khairagarhi from Khairagarh, Pandariha from Pandaria, Bhadaria, and Harkotia from Harkoti; others are titular, as Sondeha, gold-bodied, Sonkharchi, spender of gold, Bimba Lohir, stick-carrier, Banhpagar, one wearing a thread on the arm, Bhandari, a store-keeper, Kumaria, a potter, and Shikaria, a hunter; and a large number are totemistic, named after plants, animals or natural objects, as Sadaphal, a fruit; Kathail from kath or catechu; Dhorha, from dhor, cattle; Kansia, the kans grass; Karaiya, a frying-pan; Sarang, a peacock; Samundha, the ocean; Sindia, the date-palm tree; Dudhua from dudh, milk, and so on. Some sections are subdivided; thus the Tidha section, supposed to be named after a village, is divided into three subsections named Ghurepake, a mound of cowdung, Dwarparke, door-jamb, and Jangi, a warrior, which are themselves exogamous. Similarly the Chaudhri section, named after the title of the caste headman, is divided into four subsections, two, Majhgawan Bamuria, named after villages, and two, Purwa Thok and Pascham Thok, signifying the eastern and western groups. Presumably when sections get so large as to bar the marriage of persons not really related to each other at all, relief is obtained by subdividing them in this manner. A list of the sections of certain subcastes so far as they have been obtained is given at the end of the article.
5. Marriage rules. Betrothal
Marriage is prohibited between members of the same section and between first and second cousins on the mother's side. But the Chandnahe Kurmis permit the wedding of a brother's daughter to a sister's son. Most Kurmis forbid a man to marry his wife's sister during her lifetime. The Chhattisgarh Kurmis have the practice of exchanging girls between two families. There is usually no objection to marriage on account of religious differences within the pale of Hinduism, but the difficulty of a union between a member of a Vaishnava sect who abstains from flesh and liquor, and a partner who does not, is felt and expressed in the following saying:
Vaishnava purush avaishnava nari Unt beil ki jot bichari,
or 'A Vaishnava husband with a non-Vaishnava wife is like a camel yoked with a bullock.' Muhammadans and Christians are not retained in the caste. Girls are usually wedded between nine and eleven, but well-to-do Kurmis like other agriculturists, sometimes marry their daughters when only a few months old. The people say that when a Kurmi gets rich he will do three things: marry his daughters very young and with great display, build a fine house, and buy the best bullocks he can afford. The second and third methods of spending his money are very sensible, whatever may be thought of the first. No penalty is imposed for allowing a girl to exceed the age of puberty before marriage. Boys are married between nine and fifteen years, but the tendency is towards the postponement of the ceremony. The boy's father goes and asks for a bride and says to the girl's father, 'I have placed my son with you,' that is, given him in adoption; if the match be acceptable the girl's father replies, 'Yes, I will give my daughter to collect cowdung for you'; to which the boy's father responds, 'I will hold her as the apple of my eye.' Then the girl's father sends the barber and the Brahman to the boy's house, carrying a rupee and a cocoanut. The boy's relatives return the visit and perform the 'God bharna,' or 'Filling the lap of the girl.' They take some sweetmeats, a rupee and a cocoanut, and place them in the girl's lap, this being meant to induce fertility. The ceremony of betrothal succeeds, when the couple are seated together on a wooden plank and touch the feet of the guests and are blessed by them. The auspicious date of the wedding is fixed by the Brahman and intimation is given to the boy's family through the lagan or formal invitation, which is sent on a paper coloured yellow with powdered rice and turmeric. A bride-price is paid, which in the case of well-to-do families may amount to as much as Rs. 100 to Rs. 400.
6. The marriage-shed or pavilion
Before the wedding the women of the family go out and fetch new earth for making the stoves on which the marriage feast will be cooked. When about to dig they worship the earth by sprinkling water over it and offering flowers and rice. The marriage-shed is made of the wood of the saleh tree,  because this wood is considered to be alive. If a pole of saleh is cut and planted in the ground it takes root and sprouts, though otherwise the wood is quite useless. The wood of the kekar tree has similar properties and may also be used. The shed is covered with leaves of the mango or jamun  trees, because these trees are evergreen and hence typify perpetual life. The marriage-post in the centre of the shed is called Magrohan or Kham; the women go and worship it at the carpenter's house; two pice, a piece of turmeric and an areca-nut are buried below it in the earth and a new thread and a toran or string of mango-leaves is wound round it. Oil and turmeric are also rubbed on the marriage-post at the same time as on the bride and bridegroom. In Saugor the marriage-post is often a four-sided wooden frame or a pillar with four pieces of wood suspended from it. The larger the marriage-shed is made the greater honour accrues to the host, even though the guests may be insufficient to fill it. In towns it has often to be made in the street and is an obstacle to traffic. There may be eight or ten posts besides the centre one.
7. The marriage-cakes
Another preliminary ceremony is the family sacrament of the Meher or marriage-cakes. Small balls of wheat-flour are kneaded and fried in an earthen pan with sesamum oil by the eldest woman of the family. No metal vessel may be used to hold the water, flour or oil required for these cakes, probably because earthen vessels were employed before metal ones and are therefore considered more sacred. In measuring the ingredients a quarter of a measure is always taken in excess, such as a seer  and a quarter for a seer of wheat, to foreshadow the perpetual increase of the family. When made the cakes are offered to the Kul Deo or household god. The god is worshipped and the bride and bridegroom then first partake of the cakes and after them all members of the family and relatives. Married daughters and daughters-in-law may eat of the cakes, but not widows, who are probably too impure to join in a sacred sacrament Every person admitted to partake of the marriage-cakes is held to belong to the family, so that all other members of it have to observe impurity for ten days after a birth or death has occurred in his house and shave their heads for a death. When the family is so large that this becomes irksome it is cut down by not inviting persons beyond seven degrees of relationship to the Meher sacrament This exclusion has sometimes led to bitter quarrels and actions for defamation. It seems likely that the Meher may be a kind of substitute for the sacrificial meal, at which all the members of the clan ate the body of the totem or divine animal, and some similar significance perhaps once attached to the wedding-cake in England, pieces of which are sent to relatives unable to be present at the wedding.
8. Customs at the wedding
Before the wedding the women of each party go and anoint the village gods with oil and turmeric, worshipping them, and then similarly anoint the bride and bridegroom at their respective houses for three days. The bridegroom's head is shaved except for his scalp-lock; he wears a silver necklet on his neck, puts lamp-black on his eyes, and is dressed in new yellow and white clothes. Thus attired he goes round and worships all the village gods and visits the houses of his relatives and friends, who mark his forehead with rice and turmeric and give him a silver piece. A list of the money thus received is made and similar presents are returned to the donors when they have weddings. The bridegroom goes to the wedding either in a litter or on a horse, and must not look behind him. After being received at the bride's village and conducted to his lodging, he proceeds to the bride's house and strikes a grass mat hung before the house seven times with a reed-stick. On entering the bride's house the bridegroom is taken to worship her family gods, the men of the party usually remaining outside. Then, as he goes through the room, one of the women who has tied a long thread round her toe gets behind him and measures his height with the thread without his seeing. She breaks off the thread at his height and doubling it once or twice sews it round the top of the bride's skirt, and they think that as long as the bride wears this thread she will be able to make her husband do as she likes. If the girls wish to have a joke they take one of the bridegroom's shoes which he has left outside the house, wrap it up in a piece of cloth, and place it on a shelf or in a cupboard, where the family god would be kept, with two lamps burning before it. Then they say to the bridegroom, 'Come and worship our household god'; and if he goes and does reverence to it they unwrap the cloth and show him his own shoe and laugh at him. But if he has been to one or two weddings and knows the joke he just gives it a kick. The bride's younger brother steals the bridegroom's other shoe and hides it, and will not give it back without a present of a rupee or two. The bride and bridegroom are seated on wooden seats, and while the Brahman recites texts, they make the following promises. The bridegroom covenants to live with his wife and her children, to support them and tell her all his concerns, consult her, make her a partner of his religious worship and almsgiving, and be with her on the night following the termination of her monthly impurity. The bride promises to remain faithful to her husband, to obey his wishes and orders, to perform her household duties as well as she can, and not to go anywhere without his permission. The last promise of the bridegroom has reference to the general rule among Hindus that a man should always sleep with his wife on the night following the termination of her menses because at this time she is most likely to conceive and the prospect of a child being born must not be lost. The Shastras lay it down that a man should not visit his wife before going into battle, this being no doubt an instance of the common custom of abstinence from conjugal intercourse prior to some important business or undertaking; but it is stated that if on such an occasion she should have just completed a period of impurity and have bathed and should desire him to come in to her, he should do so, even with his armour on, because by refusing, in the event of his being killed in battle, the chance of a child being born would be finally lost. To Hindu ideas the neglect to produce life is a sin of the same character, though in a minor degree, as that of destroying life; and it is to be feared that it will be some time before this ingrained superstition gives way to any considerations of prudential restraint Some people say that for a man not to visit his wife at this time is as great a sin as murder.
9. Walking round the sacred post
The binding ceremony of the marriage is the walking seven times round the marriage-post in the direction of the sun. The post probably represents the sun and the walk of the bridal couple round it may be an imitation of the movement of the planets round the sun. The reverence paid to the marriage-post has already been noticed. During the procession the bride leads and the bridegroom puts his left hand on her left shoulder. The household pounding-slab is near the post and on it are placed seven little heaps of rice, turmeric, areca-nut, and a small winnowing-fan. Each time the bride passes the slab the bridegroom catches her right foot and with it makes her brush one of the little heaps off the slab. These seven heaps represent the seven Rishis or saints who are the seven large stars of the constellation of the Great Bear.
10. Other ceremonies
After the wedding the bride and bridegroom resume their seats and the parents of the bride wash their feet in a brass tray, marking their foreheads with rice and turmeric. They put some silver in the tray, and other relations and friends do the same. The presents thus collected go to the bridegroom. The Chandnahu Kurmis then have a ceremony known as palkachar. The bride's father provides a bed on which a mattress and quilt are laid and the bride and bridegroom are seated on it, while their brother and sister sprinkle parched rice round them. This is supposed to typify the consummation of the marriage, but the ceremony is purely formal as the bridal couple are children. The bridegroom is given two lamps and he has to mix their flames, probably to symbolise the mixing of the spirits of his wife and himself. He requires a present of a rupee or two before he consents to do so. During the wedding the bride is bathed in the same water as the bridegroom, the joint use of the sacred element being perhaps another symbolic mark of their union. At the feasts the bride eats rice and milk with her husband from one dish, once at her own house and once after she goes to her husband's house. Subsequently she never eats with her husband but always after him. She also sits and eats at the wedding-feasts with her husband's relations. This is perhaps meant to mark her admission into her husband's clan. After the wedding the Brahmans on either side recite Sanskrit verses, praising their respective families and displaying their own learning. The competition often becomes bitter and would end in a quarrel, but that the elders of the party interfere and stop it.
The expenses of an ordinary wedding on the bridegroom's side may be Rs. 100 in addition to the bride-price, and on the bride's Rs. 200. The bride goes home for a day or two with the bridegroom's party in Chhattisgarh but not in the northern Districts, as women accompany the wedding procession in the former but not in the latter locality. If she is too small to go, her shoes and marriage-crown are sent to represent her. When she attains maturity the chauk or gauna ceremony is performed, her husband going to fetch her with a few friends. At this time her parents give her clothes, food and ornaments in a basket called jhanpi or tipara specially prepared for the occasion.
11. Polygamy widow-marriage and divorce
A girl who becomes pregnant by a man of the caste before marriage is wedded to him by the rite used for widows. If the man is an outsider she is expelled from the community. Women are much valued for the sake of their labour in the fields, and the transgressions of a wife are viewed with a lenient eye. In Damoh it is said that a man readily condones his wife's adultery with another Kurmi, and if it becomes known and she is put out of caste, he will give the penalty feasts himself for her admission. If she is detected in a liaison with an outsider she is usually discarded, but the offence may be condoned should the man be a Brahman. And one instance is mentioned of a malguzar's wife who had gone wrong with a Gond, and was forgiven and taken back by her husband and the caste. But the leniency was misplaced as she subsequently eloped with an Ahir. Polygamy is usual with those who can afford to pay for several wives, as a wife's labour is more efficient and she is a more profitable investment than a hired servant. An instance is on record of a blind Kurmi in Jubbulpore, who had nine wives. A man who is faithful to one wife, and does not visit her on fast-days, is called a Brahmachari or saint and it is thought that he will go to heaven. The remarriage of widows is permitted and is usual. The widow goes to a well on some night in the dark fortnight, and leaving her old clothes there puts on new ones which are given to her by the barber's wife. She then fills a pitcher with water and takes it to her new husband's house. He meets her on the threshold and lifts it from her head, and she goes into the house and puts bangles on her wrists. The following saying shows that the second marriage of widows is looked upon as quite natural and normal by the cultivating castes:
"If the clouds are like partridge feathers it will rain, and if a widow puts lamp-black on her eyes she will marry again; these things are certain." 
A bachelor marrying a widow must first go through the ceremony with a ring which he thereafter wears on his finger, and if it is lost he must perform a funeral ceremony as if a wife had died. If a widower marries a girl she must wear round her neck an image of his first wife. A girl who is twice married by going round the sacred post is called Chandelia and is most unlucky. She is considered as bad or worse than a widow, and the people sometimes make her live outside the village and forbid her to show them her face. Divorce is open to either party, to a wife on account of the impotency or ill-treatment of her husband, and to a husband for the bad character, ill-health or quarrelsome disposition of his wife. A deed of divorce is executed and delivered before the caste committee.
12. Impurity of women
During her periodical impurity, which lasts for four or five days, a woman should not sleep on a cot. She must not walk across the shadow of any man not her husband, because it is thought that if she does so her next child will be like that man. Formerly she did not see her husband's face for all these days, but this rule was too irksome and has been abandoned. She should eat the same kind of food for the whole period, and therefore must take nothing special on one day which she cannot get on other days. At this time she will let her hair hang loose, taking out all the cotton strings by which it is tied up.  These strings, being cotton, have become impure, and must be thrown away. But if there is no other woman to do the household work and she has to do it herself, she will keep her hair tied up for convenience, and only throw away the strings on the last day when she bathes. All cotton things are rendered impure by her at this time, and any cloth or other article which she touches must be washed before it can be touched by anybody else; but woollen cloth, being sacred, is not rendered impure, and she can sleep on a woollen blanket without its thereby becoming a defilement to other persons. When bathing at the end of the period a woman should see no other face but her husband's; but as her husband is usually not present, she wears a ring with a tiny mirror and looks at her own face in this as a substitute.
If a woman desires to procure a miscarriage she eats a raw papaya fruit, and drinks a mixture of ginger, sugar, bamboo leaves and milk boiled together. She then has her abdomen well rubbed by a professional masseuse, who comes at a time when she can escape observation. After a prolonged course of this treatment it is said that a miscarriage is obtained. It would seem that the rubbing is the only treatment which is directly effective. The papaya, which is a very digestible fruit, can hardly be of assistance, but may be eaten from some magical idea of its resemblance to a foetus. The mixture drunk is perhaps designed to be a tonic to the stomach against the painful effects of the massage.
13. Pregnancy rites
As regards pregnancy Mr. Marten writes as follows:  "A woman in pregnancy is in a state of taboo and is peculiarly liable to the influence of magic and in some respects dangerous to others. She is exempt from the observance of fasts, is allowed any food she fancies, and is fed with sweets and all sorts of rich food, especially in the fifth month. She should not visit her neighbour's houses nor sleep in any open place. Her clothes are kept separate from others. She is subject to a large number of restrictions in her ordinary life with a view of avoiding everything that might prejudice or retard her delivery. She should eschew all red clothes or red things of any sort, such as suggest blood, till the third or fourth month, when conception is certain. She will be careful not to touch the dress of any woman who has had a miscarriage. She will not cross running water, as it might cause premature delivery, nor go near a she-buffalo or a mare lest delivery be retarded, since a mare is twelve months in foal. If she does by chance approach these animals she must propitiate them by offerings of grain. Nor in some cases will she light a lamp, for fear the flame in some way may hurt the child. She should not finish any sowing, previously begun, during pregnancy, nor should her husband thatch the house or repair his axe. An eclipse is particularly dangerous to the unborn child and she must not leave the house during its continuance, but must sit still with a stone pestle in her lap and anoint her womb with cowdung. Under no circumstances must she touch any cutting instrument as it might cause her child to be born mutilated.
"During the fifth month of pregnancy the family gods are worshipped to avoid generally any difficulties in her labour. Towards the end of that month and sometimes in the seventh month she rubs her body with a preparation of gram-flour, castor-oil and turmeric, bathes herself, and is clothed with new garments and seated on a wooden stool in a space freshly cleaned and spread with cowdung. Her lap is then filled with sweets called pakwan made of cocoanut. A similar ceremony called Boha Jewan is sometimes performed in the seventh or eighth month, when a new sari is given to her and grain is thrown into her lap. Another special rite is the Pansavan ceremony, performed to remove all defects in the child, give it a male form, increase its size and beauty, give it wisdom and avert the influence of evil spirits."
Pregnant women sometimes have a craving for eating earth. They eat the earth which has been mixed with wheat on the threshing-floor, or the ashes of cowdung cakes which have been used for cooking. They consider it as a sort of medicine which will prevent them from vomiting. Children also sometimes get the taste for eating earth, licking it up from the floor, or taking pieces of lime-plaster from the walls. Possibly they may be attracted by the saltish taste, but the result is that they get ill and their stomachs are distended. The Panwar women of Balaghat eat red and white clay in order that their children may be born with red and white complexions.
15. Customs at birth
During the period of labour the barber's wife watches over the case, but as delivery approaches hands it over to a recognised midwife, usually the Basorin or Chamarin, who remains in the lying-in room till about the tenth day after delivery. "If delivery is retarded," Mr. Marten continues,  "pressure and massage are used, but coffee and other herbal decoctions are given, and various means, mostly depending on sympathetic magic, are employed to avert the adverse spirits and hasten and ease the labour. She may be given water to drink in which the feet of her husband  or her mother-in-law or a young unmarried girl have been dipped, or she is shown the swastik or some other lucky sign, or the chakra-vyuha, a spiral figure showing the arrangement of the armies of the Pandavas and Kauravas which resembles the intestines with the exit at the lower end."
The menstrual blood of the mother during child-birth is efficacious as a charm for fertility. The Nain or Basorin will sometimes try and dip her big toe into it and go to her house. There she will wash her toe and give the water to a barren woman, who by drinking it will transfer to herself the fertility of the woman whose blood it is. The women of the family are in the lying-in room and they watch her carefully, while some of the men stand about outside. If they see the midwife coming out they examine her, and if they find any blood exclaim, 'You have eaten of our salt and will you play us this trick'; and they force her back into the room where the blood is washed off. All the stained clothes are washed in the birth-room, and the water as well as that in which the mother and child are bathed is poured into a hole dug inside the room, so that none of it may be used as a charm.
16. Treatment of mother and child
The great object of the treatment after birth is to prevent the mother and child from catching cold. They appear to confuse the symptoms of pneumonia and infantile lockjaw in a disease called sanpat, to the prevention of which their efforts are directed. A sigri or stove is kept alight under the bed, and in this the seeds of ajwain or coriander are burnt. The mother eats the seeds, and the child is waved over the stove in the smoke of the burning ajwain. Raw asafoetida is put in the woman's ears wrapped in cotton-wool, and she eats a little half-cooked. A freshly-dried piece of cowdung is also picked up from the ground and half-burnt and put in water, and some of this water is given to her to drink, the process being repeated every day for a month. Other details of the treatment of the mother and child after birth are given in the articles on Mehtar and Kunbi. For the first five days after birth the child is given a little honey and calf's urine mixed. If the child coughs it is given bans-lochan, which is said to be some kind of silicate found in bamboos. The mother does not suckle the child for three days, and for that period she is not washed and nobody goes near her, at least in Mandla. On the third day after the birth of a girl, or the fourth after that of a boy, the mother is washed and the child is then suckled by her for the first time, at an auspicious moment pointed out by the astrologer. Generally speaking the whole treatment of child-birth is directed towards the avoidance of various imaginary magical dangers, while the real sanitary precautions and other assistance which should be given to the mother are not only totally neglected, but the treatment employed greatly aggravates the ordinary risks which a woman has to take, especially in the middle and higher castes.
17. Ceremonies after birth
When a boy is born the father's younger brother or one of his friends lets off a gun and beats a brass plate to proclaim the event The women often announce the birth of a boy by saying that it is a one-eyed girl. This is in case any enemy should hear the mention of the boy's birth, and the envy felt by him should injure the child. On the sixth day after the birth the Chhathi ceremony is performed and the mother is given ordinary food to eat, as described in the article on Kunbi. The twelfth day is known as Barhon or Chauk. On this day the father is shaved for the first time after the child's birth. The mother bathes and cuts the nails of her hands and feet; if she is living by a river she throws them into it, otherwise on to the roof of the house. The father and mother sit in the chauk or space marked out for worship with cowdung and flour; the woman is on the man's left side, a woman being known as Bamangi or the left limb, either because the left limb is weak or because woman is supposed to have been made from man's left side, as in Genesis. The household god is brought into the chauk and they worship it. The Bua or husband's sister brings presents to the mother known as bharti, for filling her lap: silver or gold bangles if she can afford them, a coat and cap for the boy; dates, rice and a breast-cloth for the mother; for the father a rupee and a cocoanut. These things are placed in the mother's lap as a charm to sustain her fertility. The father gives his sister back double the value of the presents if he can afford it. He gives her husband a head-cloth and shoulder-cloth; he waves two or three pice round his wife's head and gives them to the barber's wife. The latter and the midwife take the clothes worn by the mother at child-birth, and the father gives them each a new cloth if he can afford it. The part of the navel-string which falls off the child's body is believed to have the power of rendering a barren woman fertile, and is also intimately connected with the child's destiny. It is therefore carefully preserved and buried in some auspicious place, as by the bank of a river.
In the sixth month the Pasni ceremony is performed, when the child is given grain for the first time, consisting of rice and milk. Brahmans or religious mendicants are invited and fed. The child's hair and nails are cut for the first time on the Shivratri or Akti festival following the birth, and are wrapped up in a ball of dough and thrown into a sacred river. If a child is born during an eclipse they think that it will suffer from lung disease; so a silver model of the moon is made immediately during the eclipse, and hung round the child's neck, and this is supposed to preserve it from harm.
18. Suckling children
A Hindu woman will normally suckle her child for two to three years after its birth, and even beyond this up to six years if it sleeps with her. But they think that the child becomes short of breath if suckled for so long, and advise the mother to wean it. And if she becomes pregnant again, when she has been three or four months in this condition, she will wean the child by putting nim leaves or some other bitter thing on her breasts. A Hindu should not visit his wife for the last six months of her pregnancy nor until the child has been fed with grain for the first time six months after its birth. During the former period such action is thought to be a sin, while during the latter it may have the effect of rendering the mother pregnant again too quickly, and hence may not allow her a sufficiently long period to suckle the first child.
19. Beliefs about twins
Twins, Mr. Marten states, are not usually considered to be inauspicious.  "It is held that if they are of the same sex they will survive, and if they are of a different sex one of them will die. Boy twins are called Rama and Lachhman, a boy and a girl Mahadeo and Parvati, and two girls Ganga and Jamuni or Sita and Konda. They should always be kept separate so as to break the essential connection which exists between them and may cause any misfortune which happens to the one to extend to the other. Thus the mother always sleeps between them in bed and never carries both of them nor suckles both at the same time. Again, among some castes in Chhattisgarh, when the twins are of different sex, they are considered to be pap (sinful) and are called Papi and Papin, an allusion to the horror of a brother and sister sharing the same bed (the mother's womb)." Hindus think that if two people comb their hair with the same comb they will lose their affection for each other. Hence the hair of twins is combed with the same comb to weaken the tie which exists between them, and may cause the illness or death of either to follow on that of the other.
20. Disposal of the dead
The dead are usually burnt with the head to the north. Children whose ears have not been bored and adults who die of smallpox or leprosy are buried, and members of poor families who cannot afford firewood. If a person has died by hanging or drowning or from the bite of a snake, his body is burnt without any rites, but in order that his soul may be saved, the hom sacrifice is performed subsequently to the cremation. Those who live near the Nerbudda and Mahanadi sometimes throw the bodies of the dead into these rivers and think that this will make them go to heaven. The following account of a funeral ceremony among the middle and higher castes in Saugor is mainly furnished by Major W. D. Sutherland, I.M.S., with some additions from Mandla, and from material furnished by the Rev. E. M. Gordon:  "When a man is near his end, gifts to Brahmans are made by him, or by his son on his behalf. These, if he is a rich man, consist of five cows with their calves, marked on the forehead and hoofs with turmeric, and with garlands of flowers round their necks. Ordinary people give the price of one calf, which is fictitiously taken at Rs. 3-4, Rs. 1-4, ten annas or five annas according to their means. By holding on to the tail of this calf the dead man will be able to swim across the dreadful river Vaitarni, the Hindu Styx. This calf is called Bachra Sankal or 'the chain-calf,' as it furnishes a chain across the river, and it may be given three times, once before the death and twice afterwards. When near his end the dying man is taken down from his cot and laid on a woollen blanket spread on the ground, perhaps with the idea that he should at death be in contact with the earth and not suspended in mid-air as a man on a cot is held to be. In his mouth are placed a piece of gold, some leaves of the tulsi or basil plant, or Ganges water, or rice cooked in Jagannath's temple. The dying man keeps on repeating 'Ram, Ram, Sitaram.'"
21. Funeral rites
As soon as death occurs the corpse is bathed, clothed and smeared with a mixture of powdered sandalwood, camphor and spices. A bier is constructed of planks, or if this cannot be afforded the man's cot is turned upside down and the body is carried out for burial on it in this fashion, with the legs of the cot pointing upwards. Straw is laid on the bier, and the corpse, covered with fine white cloth, is tied securely on to it, the hands being crossed on the breast, with the thumbs and great toes tied together. When a married woman dies she is covered with a red cloth which reaches only to the neck, and her face is left open to the view of everybody, whether she went abroad unveiled in her life or not. It is considered a highly auspicious thing for a woman to die in the lifetime of her husband and children, and the corpse is sometimes dressed like a bride and ornaments put on it. The corpse of a widow or girl is wrapped in a white cloth with the head covered. At the head of the funeral procession walks the son of the deceased, or other chief mourner, and in his hand he takes smouldering cowdung cakes in an earthen pot, from which the pyre will be kindled. This fire is brought from the hearth of the house by the barber, and he sometimes also carries it to the pyre. On the way the mourners change places so that each may assist in bearing the bier, and once they set the bier on the ground and leave two pice and some grain where it lay, before taking it up again. After the funeral each person who has helped to carry it takes up a clod of earth and with it touches successively the place on his shoulder where the bier rested, his waist and his knee, afterwards dropping the clod on the ground. It is believed that by so doing he removes from his shoulder the weight of the corpse, which would otherwise press on it for some time.
22. Burning the dead
At the cremation-ground the corpse is taken from the bier and placed on the pyre. The cloth which covered it and that on which it lay are given to a sweeper, who is always present to receive this perquisite. To the corpse's mouth, eyes, ears, nostrils and throat is applied a mixture of barley-flour, butter, sesamum seeds and powdered sandalwood. Logs of wood and cowdung cakes are then piled on the body and the pyre is fired by the son, who first holds a burning stick to the mouth of the corpse as if to inform it that he is about to apply the fire. The pyre of a man is fired at the head and of a woman at the foot. Rich people burn the corpse with sandalwood, and others have a little of this, and incense and sweet-smelling gum. Nowadays if the rain comes on and the pyre will not burn they use kerosine oil. When the body is half-consumed the son takes up a piece of wood and with it strikes the skull seven times, to break it and give exit to the soul. This, however, is not always done. The son then takes up on his right shoulder an earthen pot full of water, at the bottom of which is a small hole. He walks round the pyre three times in the direction of the sun's course and stands facing to the south, and dashes the pot on the ground, crying out in his grief, 'Oh, my father.' While this is going on mantras or sacred verses are recited by the officiating Brahman. When the corpse is partly consumed each member of the assembly throws the Panch lakariya (five pieces of wood or sprigs of basil) on to the pyre, making obeisance to the deceased and saying, 'Swarg ko jao,' or 'Ascend to heaven.' Or they may say, 'Go, become incarnate in some human being.' They stay by the corpse for 1 1/4 pahars or watches or some four hours, until either the skull is broken by the chief mourner or breaks of itself with a crack. Then they bathe and come home and after some hours again return to the corpse, to see that it is properly burnt. If the pyre should go out and a dog or other animal should get hold of the corpse when it is half-burnt, all the relatives are put out of caste, and have to give a feast to all the caste, costing for a rich family about Rs. 50 and for a poor one Rs. 10 to Rs. 15. Then they return home and chew nim leaves, which are bitter and purifying, and spit them out of their mouth, thus severing their connection with the corpse. When the mourners have left the deceased's house the women of the family bathe, the bangles of the widow are broken, the vermilion on the parting of her hair and the glass ornament (tikli) on her forehead are removed, and she is clad in white clothing of coarse texture to show that henceforth she is only a widow.
On the third day the mourners go again and collect the ashes and throw them into the nearest river. The bones are placed in a silken bag or an earthen pot or a leaf basket, and taken to the Ganges or Nerbudda within ten days if possible, or otherwise after a longer interval, being buried meantime. Some milk, salt and calfs urine are sprinkled over the place where the corpse was burnt. These will cool the place, and the soul of the dead will similarly be cooled, and a cow will probably come and lick up the salt, and this will sanctify the place and also the soul. When the bones are to be taken to a sacred river they are tied up in a little piece of cloth and carried at the end of a stick by the chief mourner, who is usually accompanied by several caste-fellows. At night during the journey this stick is planted in the ground, so that the bones may not touch the earth.
Graves are always dug from north to south. Some people say that heaven is to the north, being situated in the Himalayas, and others that In the Satyug or Golden Age the sun rose to the north. The digging of the grave only commences on the arrival of the funeral party, so there is of necessity a delay of several hours at the site, and all who attend a funeral are supposed to help in digging. It is considered to be meritorious to assist at a burial, and there is a saying that a man who has himself conducted a hundred funerals will become a Raja in his next birth. When the grave has been filled in and a mound raised to mark the spot, each person present makes five small balls of earth and places them in a heap at the head of the grave. This custom is also known as Panch lakariya, and must therefore be an imitation of the placing of the five sticks on the pyre; its original meaning in the latter case may have been that the mourners should assist the family by bringing a contribution of wood to the pyre. As adopted in burial it seems to have no special significance, but somewhat resembles the European custom of the mourners throwing a little dust into the grave.
24. Return of the soul
On the third day the pindas or sacrificial cakes are offered and this goes on till the tenth day. These cakes are not eaten by the priest or Maha-Brahman, but are thrown into a river. On the evening of the third day the son goes, accompanied by a Brahman and a barber, and carrying a key to avert evil, to a pipal  tree, on whose branches he hangs two earthen pots: one containing water, which trickles out through a hole in the bottom, and the other a lamp. On each succeeding night the son replenishes the contents of these pots, which are intended to refresh the spirit of the deceased and to light it on its way to the lower world. In some localities on the evening of the third day the ashes of the cooking-place are sifted, and laid out on a tray at night on the spot where the deceased died, or near the cooking-place. In the morning the layer of ashes is inspected, and if what appears to be a hand- or footprint is seen, it is held that the spirit of the deceased has visited the house. Some people look for handprints, some for footprints, and some for both, and the Nais look for the print of a cow's hoof, which when seen is held to prove that the deceased in consideration of his singular merits has been reborn a cow. If a woman has died in child-birth, or after the birth of a child and before the performance of the sixth-day ceremony of purification, her hands are tied with a cotton thread when she is buried, in order that her spirit may be unable to rise and trouble the living. It is believed that the souls of such women become evil spirits or Churels. Thorns are also placed over her grave for the same purpose.
During the days of mourning the chief mourner sits apart and does no work. The others do their work but do not touch any one else, as they are impure. They leave their hair unkempt, do not worship the gods nor sleep on cots, and abjure betel, milk, butter, curds, meat, the wearing of shoes, new clothes and other luxuries. In these days the friends of the family come and comfort the mourners with conversation on the shortness and uncertainty of human life and kindred topics. During the period of mourning when the family go to bathe they march one behind the other in Indian file. And on the last day all the people of the village accompany them, the men first and after they have returned the women, all marching one behind the other. They also come back in this manner from the actual funeral, and the idea is perhaps to prevent the dead man's spirit from following them. He would probably feel impelled to adopt the same formation and fall in behind the last of the line, and then some means is devised, such as spreading thorns in the path, for leaving him behind.
26. Shaving, and presents to Brahmans
On the ninth, tenth or eleventh day the males of the family have the front of the head from the crown, and the beard and moustaches, shaved in token of mourning. The Maha-Brahman who receives the gifts for the dead is shaved with them. This must be done for an elder relation, but a man need not be shaved on the death of his wife, sister or children. The day is the end of mourning and is called Gauri Ganesh, Gauri being Parvati or the wife of Siva, and Ganesh the god of good fortune. On the occasion the family give to the Maha-Brahman  a new cot and bedding with a cloth, an umbrella to shield the spirit from the sun's rays, a copper vessel full of water to quench its thirst, a brass lamp to guide it on its journey, and if the family is well-to-do a horse and a cow, All these things are meant to be for the use of the dead man in the other world. It is also the Brahman's business to eat a quantity of cooked food, which will form the dead man's food. It is of great spiritual importance to the dead man's soul that the Brahman should finish the dish set before him, and if he does not do so the soul will fare badly. He takes advantage of this by stopping in the middle of the meal, saying that he has eaten all he is capable of and cannot go on, so that the relations have to give him large presents to induce him to finish the food. These Maha-Brahmans are utterly despised and looked down on by all other Brahmans and by the community generally, and are sometimes made to live outside the village. The regular priest, the Malai or Purohit, can accept no gifts from the time of the death to the end of the period of mourning. Afterwards he also receives presents in money according to the means of his clients, which it is supposed will benefit the dead man's soul in the next world; but no disgrace attaches to the acceptance of these.
27. End of mourning
When the mourning is complete on the Gauri-Ganesh day all the relatives take their food at the chief mourner's house, and afterwards the panchayat invest him with a new turban provided by a relative. On the next bazar day the members of the panchayat take him to the bazar and tell him to take up his regular occupation and earn his livelihood. Thereafter all his relatives and friends invite him to take food at their houses, probably to mark his accession to the position of head of the family.
28. Anniversaries of the dead
Three months, six months and twelve months after the death presents are made to a Brahman, consisting of Sidha, or butter, wheat and rice for a day's food. The anniversaries of the dead are celebrated during Pitripaksh or the dark fortnight of Kunwar (September-October). If a man died on the third day of any fortnight in the year, his anniversary is celebrated on the third day of this fortnight and so on. On that day it is supposed that his spirit will visit his earthly house where his relatives reside. But the souls of women all return to their homes on the ninth day of the fortnight, and on the thirteenth day come the souls of all those who have met with a violent death, as by a fall, or have been killed by wild animals or snakes. The spirits of such persons are supposed, on account of their untimely end, to entertain a special grudge against the living.
29. Beliefs in the hereafter
As regards the belief in the hereafter Mr. Gordon writes:  "That they have the idea of hell as a place of punishment may be gathered from the belief that when salt is spilt the one who does this will in Patal or the infernal region have to gather up each grain of salt with his eyelids. Salt is for this reason handed round with great care, and it is considered unlucky to receive it in the palm of the hand; it is therefore invariably taken in a cloth or vessel. There is a belief that the spirit of the deceased hovers round familiar scenes and places, and on this account, whenever possible, a house in which any one has died is destroyed or deserted. After the spirit has wandered round restlessly for a certain time it is said that it will again become incarnate and take the form either of man or of one of the lower animals." In Mandla they think that the soul after death is arraigned and judged before Yama, and is then chained to a flaming pillar for a longer or shorter period according to its sins. The gifts made to Brahmans for the dead somewhat shorten the period. After that time it is born again with a good or bad body and human or animal according to its deserts.
30. Religion. Village gods
The caste worship the principal Hindu deities. Either Bhagwan or Parmeshwar is usually referred to as the supreme deity, as we speak of God. Bhagwan appears to be Vishnu or the Sun, and Parmeshwar is Siva or Mahadeo. There are few temples to Vishnu in villages, but none are required as the sun is daily visible. Sunday or Raviwar is the day sacred to him, and some people fast in his honour on Sundays, eating only one meal without salt. A man salutes the sun after he gets up by joining his hands and looking towards it, again when he has washed his face, and a third time when he has bathed, by throwing a little water in the sun's direction. He must not spit in front of the sun nor perform the lower functions of the body in its sight. Others say that the sun and moon are the eyes of God, and the light of the sun is the effulgence of God, because by its light and heat all moving and immobile creatures sustain their life and all corn and other products of the earth grow. In his incarnations of Rama and Krishna there are temples to Vishnu in large villages and towns. Khermata, the mother of the village, is the local form of Devi or the earth-goddess. She has a small hut and an image of Devi, either black or red. She is worshipped by a priest called Panda, who may be of any caste except the impure castes. The earth is worshipped in various ways. A man taking medicine for the first time in an illness sprinkles a few drops on the earth in its honour. Similarly for the first three or four times that a cow is milked after the birth of a calf the stream is allowed to fall on the ground. A man who is travelling offers a little food to the earth before eating himself. Devi is sometimes considered to be one of seven sisters, but of the others only two are known, Marhai Devi, the goddess of cholera, and Sitala Devi, the goddess of smallpox. When an epidemic of cholera breaks out the Panda performs the following ceremony to avert it. He takes a kid and a small pig or chicken, and some cloth, cakes, glass bangles, vermilion, an earthen lamp, and some country liquor, which is sprinkled all along the way from where he starts to where he stops. He proceeds in this manner to the boundary of the village at a place where there are cross-roads, and leaves all the things there. Sometimes the animals are sacrificed and eaten. While the Panda is doing this every one collects the sweepings of his house in a winnowing-fan and throws them outside the village boundary, at the same time ringing a bell continuously. The Panda must perform his ceremony at night and, if possible, on the day of the new moon. He is accompanied by a few other low-caste persons called Gunias. A Gunia is one who can be possessed by a spirit in the temple of Khermata. When possessed he shakes his head up and down violently and foams at the mouth, and sometimes strikes his head on the ground. Another favourite godling is Hardaul, who was the brother of Jujhar Singh, Raja of Orchha, and was suspected by Jujhar Singh of loving the latter's wife, and poisoned in consequence by his orders. Hardaul has a platform and sometimes a hut with an image of a man on horseback carrying a spear in his hand. His shrine is outside the village, and two days before a marriage the women of the family visit his shrine and cook and eat their food there and invite him to the wedding. Clay horses are offered to him, and he is supposed to be able to keep off rain and storms during the ceremony. Hardaul is perhaps the deified Rajput horseman. Hanuman or Mahabir is represented by an image of a monkey coloured with vermilion, with a club in his hand and a slain man beneath his feet. He is principally worshipped on Saturdays so that he may counteract the evil influences exercised by the planet Saturn on that day. His image is painted with oil mixed with vermilion and has a wreath of flowers of the cotton tree; and gugal or incense made of resin, sandalwood and other ingredients is burnt before him. He is the deified ape, and is the god of strength and swiftness, owing to the exploits performed by him during Rama's invasion of Ceylon. Dulha Deo is another godling whose shrine is in every village. He was a young bridegroom who was carried off by a tiger on his way to his wedding, or, according to another account, was turned into a stone pillar by a flash of lightning. Before the starting of a wedding procession the members go to Dulha Deo and offer a pair of shoes and a miniature post and marriage-crown. On their return they offer a cocoanut. Dulha Deo has a stone and platform to the east of the village, or occasionally an image of a man on horseback like Hardaul. Mirohia is the god of the field boundary. There is no sign of him, but every tenant, when he begins sowing and cutting the crops, offers a little curds and rice and a cocoanut and lays them on the boundary of the field, saying the name of Mirohia Deo. It is believed among agriculturists that if this godling is neglected he will flatten the corn by a wind, or cause the cart to break on its way to the threshing-floor.
31. Sowing the Jawaras or Gardens of Adonis
The sowing of the Jawaras, corresponding to the gardens of Adonis, takes place during the first nine days of the months of Kunwar and Chait (September and March). The former is a nine days' fast preceding the Dasahra festival, and it is supposed that the goddess Devi was during this time employed In fighting the buffalo-demon (Bhainsasur), whom she slew on the tenth day. The latter is a nine days' fast at the new year, preceding the triumphant entry of Rama into Ajodhia on the tenth day on his return from Ceylon. The first period comes before the sowing of the spring crop of wheat and other grains, and the second is at the commencement of the harvest of the same crop. In some localities the Jawaras are also grown a third time in the rains, probably as a preparation for the juari sowings,  as juari is planted in the baskets or 'gardens' at this time. On the first day a small room is cleared and whitewashed, and is known as the diwala or temple. Some earth is brought from the fields and mixed with manure in a basket, and a male member of the family sows wheat in it, bathing before he does so. The basket is kept in the diwala and the same man attends on it throughout the nine days, fasting all day and eating only milk and fruit at night. A similar nine days' fast was observed by the Eleusinians before the sacramental eating of corn and the worship of the Corn Goddess, which constituted the Eleusinian mysteries.  During the period of nine days, called the Naoratra, the plants are watered, and long stalks spring up. On the eighth day the hom or fire offering is performed, and the Gunias or devotees are possessed by Devi. On the evening of the ninth day the women, putting on their best clothes, walk out of the houses with the pots of grain on their heads, singing songs in praise of Devi. The men accompany them beating drums and cymbals. The devotees pierce their cheeks with long iron needles and walk in the procession. High-caste women, who cannot go themselves, hire the barber's or waterman's wife to go for them. The pots are taken to a tank and thrown in, the stalks of grain being kept and distributed as a mark of amity. The wheat which is sown in Kunwar gives a forecast of the spring crops. A plant is pulled out, and the return of the crop will be the same number of times the seed as it has roots. The woman who gets to the tank first counts the number of plants in her pot, and this gives the price of wheat in rupees per mani.  Sometimes marks of red rust appear on the plants, and this shows that the crop will suffer from rust. The ceremony performed in Chait is said to be a sort of harvest thanksgiving. On the ninth day of the autumn ceremony another celebration called 'Jhinjhia' or 'Norta' takes place in large villages. A number of young unmarried girls take earthen pots and, making holes in them and placing lamps inside, carry them on their heads through the village, singing and dancing. They receive presents from the villagers, with which they hold a feast. At this a small platform is erected and two earthen dolls, male and female, are placed on it; rice and flowers are offered to them and their marriage is celebrated.