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Thakur

Thakur

ETHNONYMS: Tagore, Takara, Takur, Taskara, Thakara, Thakkar, Thakkura, Thakoor


The most contemporary of the remaining group of Thakurs can be found in at least the five districts of Pune, Ahmadnagar, Nashik, Thane, and Greater Bombay, in the state of Maharashtra. However, different people in different states of India are denoted by the term "Thakur." Coming from the Sanskrit thakkura, meaning "idol, deity," it has been used as a title of respect, especially for Rajput nobles. Even in Bengal the word "Tagore" is used as the name of a distinguished family of Brahman literary and artistic figures. But in other places thakur is the honorific designation of a barber. According to the Marathi Encyclopedia, this name refers to the people who are mainly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Kashmir. They can be found among the ranks of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and even Buddhists. In Bernard Cohn's study of Madhopur, the Thakurs are reported to have held predominant economic and political power there since the conquest of the village and the region by their ancestors in the sixteenth century. The Thakurs of today trace their ancestry to Ganesh Rai, who succeeded in conquering a tract around Madhopur that is now called Dobhi Taluka.

There seem to be two schools of thought on dress among the two separate groups of Thakurs (Ka and Ma). The Ka women normally do not wear a bodice with their saris, so they leave their breasts bare. Unlike the Ka, the Ma women wear bodices, but they too until a few years ago used to leave their breasts bare. After marriage, Ka women leave their left buttock uncovered as it is supposed to belong to the father's family.

The staple foods of the uplands are the millets, vari (Panicum sumatrense ) and nagali (Eleusine coracana ). Those who live at the foot of the mountains cultivate rented paddy lands, but most are unsuccessful at producing enough to exist on. Meat and fish when available are eaten, and sometimes wild onions are eaten for weeks at a time. The unavailability of required nourishment encourages nomadic tendencies. Milk is avoided by many Thakurs, as they say it makes them bilious. Exceptions are during monsoons, when they eat a delicacy called kharvas which is prepared from new milk. Meals are eaten three times a daybreakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch consist of bread with some complement, and for dinner rice, normally unpolished, and dal are cooked; men and women eat apart.

The Hindu Thakur have assumed the religious views of life current in Hindu philosophy. Their folklore reveals glimpses into Vedantic philosophy and reflects the fatalistic passivism of the Indian way of life. In their dancing songs, prayers are offered to Shankar, Parvati, and other deities of the Hindu pantheon. The attitude toward such deities (deva ) is one of fear and dread. Among them names such as Bhavani, Kanhoba, and Khanderav are worshiped by the more advanced classes. Others are Vaghya, thought to represent the tiger, and Thrava, who represents the peacock, while Munja and Vetal come from the spirit world. The Thakur deities are often housed in trees and worshiped according to the resources available to worshipers.

Not all Thakur are landlords; some are extremely poor and dwell in the jungles with little to eat. Thakur family Structure usually consists of a man, who represents the head of the family, his wife, and their children. Married sons have the option of staying on with their father or making a new and separate home, while daughters are expected to live with their husbands. The Thakur have been slowly reshaping their Family structures: in modern times the family ties have grown looser, and the importance of clan and village has declined. A lessened respect for the father's position is more common now, as are the tendencies to move away from formality, to allow more freedom between husband and wife, and to create smaller household units. The Thakur wife is coming out of seclusion, under the influence of the urban, Westernized Family. This liberalization takes place in areas such as caste observance, religion, food habits, and many other aspects of social life.


Bibliography

Chapekar, L. N. (1960). Thakurs of the Sahyadri. London: Oxford University Press.

Cohn, Bernard S. (1955). "Social Status of a Depressed Caste". In Village India, edited by McKim Marriot, 53-77. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Lewis, Oscar (1958). Village Life in Northern India. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

LeSHON KIMBLE

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