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H. A. (Horace Arthur) Rose.

A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province (Volume 3) online

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stated, are named after common ancestors ' who were n's/its.'



Ghirth ohservances. 280

D.— (1) Khera, founded by a woman whose child was born undor a
hher tree.

(2) Banyanu, founded by a woman whoso child was born under a

han or oak.

(3) Dadda, founded by a woman whose child was born near a

bamboOj and laid on the tree.

(4) Khunld,, an animal of some kind. The name was given to a

child as a token of affection. Hence his descendants are
still called by the name.

(5) Ladhdri^, from ladhdr, a kind of tree.

(6) Ghurl, a wild goat ; so called because its progenitor cried like

one.

(7) Khajurd, date-palm (c/. the Nagarko^ia Brahman al of this
name) ; so-called because its founder was born under a date-
palm.

(8) Khatta, from khattdf a kind of tree : for a similar reason.

Other exogamous sections {gots) are Bahiru, Banjiira, Barol,
Chakotra, Bhut, Didlu, Hangaria, Jalnrich, Kathc, Narotra, Panjla,
Panyiu, Panyaria, Sd^kre, Sial, Thimbu, Thirku, etc., all of unknown
derivation.

In the Rajput hypergamous system the Ghirth does not rank very
high for not till the seventh generation can his daughter become a
queen [Satwin 'pirhi Ghirthni ki dhl Rani hojdti), whereas the Rathi'a
daughter can attain to that position in four generations and even the
Kanet's reaches it in five. But the Rd^jas could pi'omote a Ghirth to
be a Rdthi, as Sir James Lyall records (Kdngra Sett. Rep., § 73),

The following accounts of the Ghirth social observances are given
as typical of the usaj^es among all the Hindu castes of the Kangra Hills
and not as peculiarly characteristic of the Ghirths. They resemble
generally tnose in vogue among the Gaddis of Kd,ngra, but the local
variations appear to be endless. These are described in the foot-notes
to the text below —

In betrothal the father, mother or uncle, if alive, will tell the youth
to arrange to marry such and such a girl. If these are not alive, he
chooses himself; otherwise he remains passive throughout the arrange-
ments. The father then finds a go-between {nibdrii) who goes to the
girl's parents and makes the pro|30sal to them. If they accept, a day
is arranged for the ceremony of betrothal {natd). On this day the
rTlhdrii conducts the boy's father or other guardian (the boy does not
go as a rule*) to the girl's house. Ho takes with him cream, delii, in a

* Provided the father has no infirmity rendering the son's assistance necessary, the son
will not accompany him. Ho will generally accompany any other guardian. If the boy
goes too, he is allowed to stay at the girl's parents' house if the Brahmans declare the
occasion favourable, otherwise he must slay in some other house, llie boy's Brahman
may be one of the p irty. It makes a point of arriving during the particular wat h of the
particular day which the Brahman has found to be propitious. He leads the way in,
followed by the father and next relative. The others stay in the enclosure outside. The
things are put down and a rupee in silver and a half anna bit in copper are placed by the
boy's father in the moveable shrine (called iZitta dcra) of Gancsh on the freshly plastered
chaukah. At tiio same time the girl's parents put down a tray containing a little yur of



200 Ghirth weddings.

clay vessel {dehdli), grain, gur and clothes for the girl, and two rupees
two pice in cash (and jewels, if rich enough) ; and if a price for the
girl has been agreed upon, they take that too. When they get to the
house they find a ghard of water and an oil-lamp and a vessel contain-
ing a little gur and ghi in the girPs parents' house, and her parents
waiting for them, but not the girl herself. They put down the grain,
gur and dehi, rupees and pice, and clothes and jewels by the water in a
wicker basket put ready for them, and no one speaks a word. Square
mats made of suorarcane stalks are placed for the deputation. When
they hitve set c'own the grain, etc., the boy's party bow with joined
hands to the lamp and water- vessel, and dipping their fingers into the
grir and ghi put them in their mouths. Then the boy's party salam
and the girl's pnrty salam, and then all sit down for the first time.
Then the g;o-between takes the rupees and pice and clothes to the girl
who is with the women in another room, gives the money to her, and
gets down the clothes. Then the riiharu comes back, and receiving
the girl's price from the boy's father, gives it to the girl's father.
Then the boy's father gives pice to the girl's party's kamins, i. e., the
barber, the parohit (family Brahman) and the watchman. The boy's
party stays till night, when the girl's party entertain him with a meal.
Then the girl's mother calls in other women of the village, and they
sing and the boy's father gives them pice. Next day the boy's party
having breakfasted return home.

From this time until the wedding, which in the case of a virgin is called
hidh, the boy's father sends once a year rice or maize, cream, gur and
clothes for the girl. The person who brings these gifts is entertained
at night by the girl's parents and goes away the next day. The date
of the wedding is arranged by the girl's father.* It may take place

their own. The boy's father puts a half anna in this and tastes the gur. He puts a pice
in the lota of water (garivi) before the shrine, touches his forehead and bends down to
Gan6sh, the girl's Brahman worshipping all the time in the usual way. The girl's mother
puts the jewelry on the girl, and the ceremony is over. The girl's parents take all the
things brouo;ht, including the rupee and pice, into the shrine in the tray, out of which the
girl's mother takes them, and not the girl's father. It is the mother's right. There is a
feast next morning and pice are distributed to the poor, and a few annas to the Brahman,
the dhdi of the girl's family and the local watchman. A few pice are also given to the
girl's sisters, if any, and her other female relations.

* The boy's family Brahman settles the day. About 20 days before the day fixed the
father takes him to the house of the skirl's parents, where there is a consultation between
him and their Brahman as to whether the day fixed is also auspicious for the father,
paternal uncle and brother of the boy and girl respectively.

The girl's father puts some rice and gur and a few blades of drub grass and two pice,
and the boy's father also one anna in copper, into a tray. These are divided by the two
Brahmans who throw out the grass. In the tray the girl's mother also puts the red paste
for making the tika on the forehead which is used for all religious occasions, except these
connected with death. The girl's Brahman puts the tika on the boy's father's forehead and
then on the foreheads of a few of the bystanders. Both families then make their prepara*
tions and summon their friends and relations to the wedding.

On the day the boy's party, whif-h always includes the Brahman and the family barber,
goes to the girl's house, the boy being carried in a pdlki and musicians accompanying. The
boy is dressed in red with a fringe of silk tassels (sera) bound round his turban and
hanging in front of his face. He has been washed and dressed by the barber before
starting. The sera and a pair of shoes and a coat are given him by the boy's maternal
uncle When the party reaches the girl's house they all wait outside until the girl's
Brahman announces that the auspicious moment (the conjunction of two stars, ' lagan ') has
arrived. The boy and his Brahman with the barber and a friend who has the custody of
the money for current expenditure go inside. The chauhah with the diwa dera is ready. The
friend puts a rupee and half anna in the shrine while the Bralunans mutter a few words.



Ghirth weddings. 291

when tho girl is 7 years old oven ; there is no limit of age. When tho
date of tho wedding is fixed tho boy's fatlier givea whatever it was
arranged shouki be then paid, and both parties make p-eparations for
it. Oil tho wedding day the boy is shavcl, waslied with b"tnd to rnakft
him clean and dressed in a kwah (red cholu.) and a red' r">gri, red
paijdmds and kaviarhand and sera (t;isselled head-dress). Mehipii (the
plant) is put into his hand to make his fingers red, and he is put info
a pdlki and taken to tlie girl's house. The girl's fat 1 1 er's waiii there
spreads a cloth. On this cloth tho two fathers meet. The gii-l's father
then gives the boy's father's nain pice, and the boy's father does the
like to the other nain. This is called awdrinda or in Punjabi lodranda
because each of the fathers waves the pice round tho head of the other
before giving them to the barbers. This takes place outside the house.
Then the girl's party takes tlio boy into the house. Then the girl's
parohit reads the Ved mantar over the couple. Then they go into the
salin and put four poles previously adorned into the ground, and place
others joining their tops. Tho boy and girl arc then set underneath,
and more mantars are read. Then the jjirl and boy walk four times
round the poles with their clothes tied together [Unjri). The marriage
ceremony is now complete. Then the parties feast at the bride's
house, but the women are not present. Then behind the pardd the
bride's head is anointed with chaunh. Then either on that day or the
next the bridegroom takes the bride to his father's house, if it is near
enough. Perhaps tho girl's barber and the midwife may accompany



The girl's mother takes tho rupee and half anna. A blanket is spread inside the outer
room. The boy and girl sit facing each other on it with the boy's barber supporting him
and the girl's barber's wife supporting her, and the respective Brahmans facing each other
on the two other sides. Both read the service. The barber's wife puts the boy's cloak over
the pair and the barber lifts the .sera from his face and tho barber's wife her cloak from
the girl's, so that they can see each other. The boy takes the ring off the little finger of his
right hand and puts it on the little finger of the girl's right hand. The cloak over the pair
is removed and tho girl's face hidden again. Some gwr mixed with p/u' is put by the girl's
mother in a tray and the boy takes some, after which the barber's wife gives some to the
girl. The friend with the money bag puts two pice into the tray. These are taken by the
barber's wife. The boy comes out to his relations and the girl goes into the inner room
among the women. After all have refreshed themselves four sticks with small cross-sticks
at the top are fixed in the ground in tho enclosure to form a small square in which 5 or 6
can sit. The barber's wife makes a figure {chaunh) with flour on the ground and a small
heap of grain at each of the two points marked with a cross, and these heaps are covered
with baskets. The boy sits on one basket, and the girl on the other supported by their
Brahmans, the barber and his wife, respectively, the Brahmans being further off than the
barber and his wife. A fire is lit at the point marked with a double cross. The Brahmans
put rice soaked in water and ghi on the fire. The girl's mother brings a tray containing a
little rice and a UUl filled with water and puts them down • by her Brahman in worship.
He throws soaked rice over them and gives them to the boy's Brahman, who puts them iii
front of the boy. The girl's mother or father then brings another tray with a little rice
in it and an empty basket and puts them down by Ihe girl's Brahmaii, and the girl's
parents put into the tray whatever jewelry tliey intend to give to their daughter, and
the Brahman hands the tray to the boy's Hraliman, who puts the jewelry down in front of
the boy and returns the tray to the girl's Brahman.

Friends and relations are then called to bring their presents, and they put money in the
tray, which is then offered to the girl by her Brahman. The girl takes out as much as she
can with two hands, and this is handed over to the boy's Brahman. The remainder in the
tray belongs to the girl's parents. In the same way presents of cloth are put in the basket
and these belong to the girl's parents Next morning the barber and larber's wife again
show the couple's faces to each other under the cloak as before ; but this time they are
sitting on the two baskets, and the girl has all the jewelry on. The boy puts another ring
on the girl's finger. They separate again as before, and the ceremonies are over. In the
evening the girl will be taken ofl in a falhi, the boy preceding her in his fdlU.



292 GMrth inheritance,

her, but none of her other people. The bride and bridegroom are
brought into the house and are set before a Hghted lamp and ghara of
water to which they bow with hands joined. They are then given ghi
and gitr to eat, and the bridegroom's marriage garments are taken off.
Then the bridegroom takes the bride to his mother. Then the bride,
the barber, the midwife and the people who have carried the bride's
gifts (given by the bride's parents) and the Kahdrs are feasted, and
the next day they take the bride home again. If she is not of age,
she sleeps with her mother-in-law. If she has attained puberty, she
sleeps in a separate room with her husband. Then two or three
months later the bridegroom goes to his father-in-law's house and
brings her to his father's house again (/iarp/^cra), and she remains
there, unless the girl's parents send for her again.

The reading of the mantars (lagan) and the going round the poles
(ghumdna) are the binding and essential parts of the ceremony. Some-
times wh' n the girl's parents are dead the purchase- money is paid and
the marriage completed by the observance of these two ceremonies
alone.

A bride-price is paid, but its amount is not fixed. No regard is
had to the poverty or wealth of the bridegroom. The older the gu-l,
the more is paid for her. The greater the necessity of the bridegroom,
i. e., the more difficulty he experiences in getting a wife, the more he
must pay, e. g., if he is a widower.

Widow remarriage is common. Indeed as divorce or rather sale of
wives is frequent* both widows and divorcees remarry. They go
through the simple ceremony called jhanjrdrd or widow remarriage,
which consists in the priest putting a red cloak over each party and
knotting the corners together as they sit on a newly plastered
spot [chaunkah) outside the husband's house. The priest then leads
the way in, the woman and the man following him in that order.
Both then do obeisance at the small shrine to Ganesh with its offerings
of a lota of water and lamp {chirdgh) placed outside, and the ceremony
is over. Before the cloaks are knotted a nose-ornament of gold given
by the husband is taken by the woman from the hands of the barber's
wife and put on. This ornament is the common sign of marriage.

The Ghirths generally think the younger brother has a right to
claim the elder brother's widow, but the claim is not enforceable, nor
apparently ever was. The elder brother cannot marry the younger
brother's widow, but the Ghirths of Pd,lampur say that it is done in the
K^ngra tahsil.

Ghirths follow the Hindu law of inheritance, but, it is said, all
the sons inherit according to the rule of chun^dvand, i. e., all the
sons by one wife get as much as all those by another wife.t But



* Divorce is permitted at the pleasure of the husband ; under no circumstances can the
wife claim divorce against his will. It is called chhodni. If a wife be unfaithful, the
abductor pays the husband the price of her hartan (lit. ' user ') in the presence of witnesses
and receives a bill of divorce. There is no ceremony. The jhanjrdrd takes place with
another man.

t The Gaddis who live south of the Ravi and are called Chanoti also follow this rule.
Those of Brahmaur observe the fagvand rule. In other words the cMnddvand rule is a

local 911Q,



OMrth funerals. 293

when the property is divided the oldest son will get some weapon or a
head of cattle or a plot of land, with the consent of the brothers, in
token of his being the head of tho family. The rest of the immoveable
property will be divided equally. Thatj which is given in this way_ to
the eldest brother is called jetMmda.

A Ghirth can adopt any boy of his own tribe, preferably one
descended from an ancestor of his own. If after the adoption a son
be born to the adopter, the adopted son will receive a share equal to
that of a natural son. If after the adoption offspring be born from
a number of wives, then first the share of tho adopted son will be set
apart by the rule oFpagva?irZ; tho remainder of the property being
divided by chunddvand.

At Ghirth funerals there is always an Acharj Brahman. When the
deceased is laid on the pyre (salbi) the Brahman reads prayers and
then the heir puts the pind or balls of rice on tfie forehead and breast
of the deceased. The fire is then lighted. For ten days after the
Brahman comes and reads mantars, and pind is thrown down the kha4
or ravine daily. The ceremony of srcidh is performed on —

(a) The anniversaries of the death of the father, grandfather, and
great-grandfather and their collaterals and are thus observ-
ed : — A Brahman (not an Achdrj) is called in and makes the
pind. The observer the.n places rice, pice, cloth, etc., by
the find, which the Brahman gets. The pind is finally
thrown into water. The Brahman reads the mantars, and a
feast is celebrated. This is done yearly. On the first an-
niversary (bdrkhi) and the fourth [chauharkh) there is a
special celebration when all the Brahmans of the village
must be feasted, and the entertainment is costly.

(6) The suppind (next-of-kin) performs these funeral ceremonies
and commemorations when there is no son, just as if he
were a son. The hirid takes place for Ghirths 22 days after
the death in all cases. Then besides the balls of rice for
each ancestor of the deceased a large ball is made which is
broken up by the Achd,rj Brahman and added to tho other
balls. This is called supindta.

(c) When a man dies a violent death, there are two Jcirids — one in
the heir^s house and another, the nardin bal, which takes
place at tho Ganges, at Kuruchhetar (in Karn:ll) or at
Matan in Kashmir or at tho houso of any of the family
who can afford it. This at Matan always takes place in
tho month of Malmas (Lend). At the nardin bal there is no
supindta.

It cannot be said that the Ghirths have any distinctive belief
or special caste cults.* They affect: (1) Jakh, really a form of Shiv
in the form of a stone, only without the jaleri and generaly
placed among bushes. This is common to all Hindus owning cattle.
The milch cattle are devoted to particular jakhs and offerings
made for them to their particular jakhs when the cattle calve. Any

* Malaghat is said to bo the ' placo in the Deccan ' whence the Ghirths and their deotd
(godling) came, and also their god's name. Ajiipiil, a tree god, is also mentioned, and
sainath ' the]|.lamp of Gosain.'



294 Ghirth cults,

one may present the offerings, and those who live near the jaJeh
take it — in the case of jakhs in the waste the gwdla who happens to be
grazing cattle near.

(2) Ndg or snake worship. Every house or collection of houses
has its rough platform about throe feet high, with a few pillars support-
ing a thatch, in the enclosure and containing a few flat stones like thin
bricks, with reliefs of one or more snakes cut on them side by side, head
upwards. This must be worshipped, the first thing in the morning, by
every one, by pouring a little water over the stones. Flowers are also
to be seen on them and on the similar reliefs of ancestors which will be
found under the same shelter. Tuesday is the special day of the week
for this worship. The special yearly worship of the snake is on the 5th
of Sd,wan (N% i^anchmi). All the available milk for the seven preced-
ing days is collected, and on the 5th Sawan rice is boiled in it. A
chaukah is made inside and outside the tlireshold with three efiSgies of
snakes on each, white, red and black — the white of flour, the red of
clay, the black of charcoal. Then follows the usual worship, first with
water, then rice, then with a red tika on the snake's and the worshipper's
own forehead, and incense. The milk is afterwards distributed. If
there are women in the house, they will do this worship and not the
men. In default of women, the men. Also at the time of the worship
two boys are made to wrestle after giving them as much as they can
eat of the things offered. Then they are dismissed with a few pice.
This is a test. If the boys go away happy, the god is pleased ; if not,
he is incensed. But this snake worship is not peculiar to the Ghirths.

(3) The Sidhs. — The Sidhs are shrines to Sidhs, i, e., seers, scattered
over the country. The most noted is Dewat Sidh, whose chief sbrine
is in the Hamirpur tahsil. Either a small shrme or merely a pillar
is devoted to a representation in relief in stone of the feet of the Sidh
and his staff by the feet ; or it may be merely under the shade of a tree
and sometimes very roughly cut. A small pair of toy pattens and a toy
staff may also be seen lying by the relief. In some cases there is a
figure of the Sidli in the shrine. Sidh worship is very general, though
particular men may choose not to follow it. It is not confined to
Ghirths. The Sidh is worshipped every morning like the other house-
hold gods or at least on Sunday. This is the Sidh's day in the week.
When crops are ripening the shrine of the nearest Sidh is visited on
Sunday. Sidhs are supposed to be special protectors of boys. Ghirths
generally wear the singhi or silver ornament at the throat, which is a
mark of devotion to a Sidh in the district, but the Ghirths say that it
does not specially appertain to a Sidh and may be worn as a mark of
devotion to any deity.

Ghirth women worship the pipal tree, so far only as to pour water
over it on the death of a child. On the 14th day of the moon, i. e,, at
full moon, only sweet food is to be eaten and one must sleep on the
ground. When the moon is seen water is poured out to it standing.

Occasionally one to whom a Brahman has said that the sun is in
opposition to him will set apart the last Sunday of every month, eat
sweet food only, sleep on the ground, and pour out water to the sun
early next morning.



GJiogha — Ghoreivuha. 295

Very occasionally a man becomes possessed, which is shewn by
contortions. The evil spirit may be exorcised by the charms of a
Brahman or there is a temple near Saloh village, at which there is a
spot, the earth of which has a peculiar virtue. The mdhant of the
temple, who is a Ghirth, pours some water over a little of the earth and
makes the possessed one eat it, and puts an untwisted thread round his
neck.

Before commencing to plough a Brahman must bo consulted as to
the propitious day and the iron of the share is sometimes worshipped.
Also as to sowing to find out from a Brahman which particular sort of
grain it will be propitious to sow first. A Httle of the particular sort is
sown according to the augury.

Gbirths sacrifice a goat in the first field which ripens in the village
in order to propitiate the gods and prevent disasters, such as hail, etc.
In case of cattle-disease the wooden part of the plough-share is set up
in the enclosure of the house and marked with red and black spots or
tikas in order that the disease may be averted. Some Ghirths say it is
done by a chela or other special person who knows how, and is intended,
to keep away evil spirits (bhiits).

Besides the Diw^li, Lohri and Dasehra the Ghirths observe tlie fol-
lowing festivals : —

The Birru on 1st Baisdkh. It consists in distributing earthen water
vessels [gharas) to Brahman s and married daughters.

The Sairu on 1st Asauj. It consists in cooking bread and distributing
it just as at the Lohri. It lasts all day, and marks the ends of the
rains.

The Nauld. marks the harvesting of the spring crop. Bread is cooked
and eaten and distributed, and those who did not give the gharas at
the Birru do so now.

Ghirth women wear an ear ornament called dhStfii, The Nd,i or
barber plays a special trumpet called a nafiri for Ghirths only. It is
exactly like an English bed-room candle-stick with two handles opposite
each other inside instead of outside the rim. Ghirths dance at wed-
dings and festivals facing alternately in different directions and
bending their raised arms inwards and outwards.

Ghogha, a Mahtam clan (agricultural) found in Montgomery.

Qhorewaha, a tribe of Riijputs whose head-quarters are the Jullundur
district, of which they occupy the eastern corner, but they are found in
smaller numbers in all the adjoining districts. To the west of them are



Online LibraryH. A. (Horace Arthur) RoseA glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province (Volume 3) → online text (page 40 of 78)