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Who are they?

The Kumhar are potters who make earthen vessels, water pots, decorative home wares, toys and idols of gods and goddesses. The name Kumhar denotes a maker of pots and pitchers or someone who creates. They are an integral part of Indian society because their creations are an integral part of an Indian’s daily life rituals.

They make idols, statues of famous people and folk deities and animals. They can be found at local markets selling their wares on most days. They have started using terracotta instead of red clay as it can be painted and is less fragile. There is a growing demand for their products in the urban market. This trend is beneficial to the Kumhars as long as they are not exploited by middlemen.

Location

One of the largest castes, they are reportedly spread across 212 districts of India, predominantly in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. They are known by different names in each state.

Origin

Each state has its own legend of the Kumhar’s origins. The Maharashtra Kumhar claim that they emerged on earth with the blessing of the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma the creator gave them his art, Vishnu the preserver his wheel and Shiva the destroyer, his form. Their first product was a water pot.

In Madhya Pradesh & Uttar Pradesh, they are listed as a scheduled caste (previously called untouchables.) They themselves do not consider themselves as such.

This community has a number of subgroups that vary depending on where they come from. In Uttar Pradesh, there are the Baradia or Baradiya sub-group who carry clay on oxen; the Gadhere subgroup who carry clay on donkeys and the Chakbai (wheel) subgroup.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kumhar are a landless community who continue in their traditional occupation as potters, with some engaged in animal husbandry and crop farming on a share-cropping basis. Some work as masons and manual labour for a daily wage. Many Kumhar have abandoned their traditional occupation and are employed in government service – as teachers, engineers, doctors, police and armed forces; while others work for private enterprises. Political leadership at various levels is also emerging among them.
When we compare the accounts of 19th and early 20th century ethnographers, we can see that the Kumhar’s traditional occupation has diversified considerably. In addition, there has been a devolving of subgroups and an increasing identity-consciousness across states.

Wheat and rice are staple cereals supplemented by barley, maize and lentils and pulses. Fruit intake is occasional and seasonal. Non vegetarians do not eat beef or pork. Those who follow the Radhasoami sect are strict vegetarians. Alcohol is consumed occasionally.

What Are Their Customs?

Endogamy is practiced at community and subgroup level. Exogamy is practiced among clans as a rule for marriage. However, marriages between subgroups are becoming common. Marriages are arranged by negotiation between the elders of both parties.

Child marriage is becoming less prevalent among the Kumhar. In child marriages, consummation takes place only after the girl has attained puberty at the age of twelve to fifteen. In many cases, especially in rural areas, the bride and groom do not see each other before marriage. Bride price used to be the norm but it has been replaced by a dowry which is in both cash and goods.

The Kumhar are monogamous though polygamy is permitted if the first wife is barren, but such cases are very rare. Junior levirate and junior sororate are recognised and preferred. Remarriage is permitted for widowed persons; remarriage is performed simply by exchanging garlands without the ritual encircling the sacred fire. Though divorce is permissible, it is uncommon as it is looked down upon by their society. Only male heirs have an equal share of the inheritance and the eldest son succeeds as the head of the family.

The literacy rate is very low and child labour is common. Response to developmental aid is mixed – they are encouraged to educate their children, but boys are favored over girls and the dropout rate is high due to social and economic reasons. They use both modern and indigenous medicine and are open to family planning.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kumhar are predominantly Hindu. They worship the gods and goddesses of the wider Hindu pantheon and participate in all Hindu religious festivals. Although quite low in the Hindu caste hierarchy, they have access to all the sacred shrines of pilgrimage for Hindus. Families may choose to give importance to a deity. All Hindu workmen, including the Kumhar, regard the tools of their trade as the cause of their prosperity and worship them as such.

Collectively, the Kumhar worship an overwhelming number of local and regional deities for an equally amazing variety of reasons. For example, in Himachal Pradesh a provincial deity called Guga is propitiated for eight days all over the state. Nahar Singh – the whistling deity who lives in the pipal (Indian fig tree) is considered to be a great benevolent god and benefactor of all. In Haryana a regional deity is worshipped for the fulfillment of wishes. In Uttar Pradesh the Kumhar revere Mahadeva, another form of Shiva and worship the potter’s wheel on Diwali (Festival of Lights). In Himachal Pradesh, the god of their choice is Vishwakarma (the great architect of the universe.) They observe a three day fast when they do not make any pots. In Maharashtra the Kumhar worship Sant Gora Kumbhar (White Saint Kumhar), the god Vitthala (an aspect of Vishnu) and goddess Yellamma. In the desert state of Rajasthan the main deity of the Kumhar is Surya Deva (Sun god) as well as Bhairava (a particularly fearsome incarnation of Shiva).

Some Punjabi Kumhar are Sikh while a few, as in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, are Muslims. There are Catholic Kumhars in the state of Goa which is chiefly Christian.

What Are Their Needs?

Practical needs are literacy, economic self-sufficiency and health care.

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Raj Verma
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Raj Verma

Reply to Prajpati for Prajapati, your explanation is self explanatory. In Gujarat the Kumhar Prajapati are clean or swarna. 36 lacs population means 15 to 20 MLA/MPs. Please check your population from census. I think, it is very below to this figure. Prajapati bahut bada title hai brother, very bigger than Kumawat title. We need no declarations. In Vedic time/kalkhanda, the Verna order is as under: 1st No. ——–Prajapati or Rajnaya(now kshatriyas or Verma or Verman) 2nd No.————-Brahmins or Brahmana 3rd No.———-Vaish 4th No.———-Shudra or untouchables castes mentioned in Manusmirit who were not allowed to enter in Hindu swarna temples.… Read more »

Raj Verma
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Raj Verma

Read this, “Both the king’s suite and the army were naturally recruited from among this caste but not every kshatriya exercised a military calling. Many kshatriya were authorised to take up a craft or trade rather than gaining their living as professional warriors”.

Kumhar(Bhumi work) is the pure craft as per Hinduism, hence the Kumhar prajapati sub caste are those kshatriyas who were authorized to take up a craft or trade rather than gaining their living as professional warriors.
Pottery is the biggest industry or trade or craft of the past.

Mahendra Singh Maurya
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Mahendra Singh Maurya

Between Kumhar and prajapati caste is a lot of diffrence . Prajapati people were Kshtriya in ancient India. But kumhar people were Shudra. Today Some educated kumhar persons used Prajapati as surname to get self-respect from other societies .

Tarun Singh Verma
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Tarun Singh Verma

Reply to Wikipedia Master or Blocker, British historians(Poison) and their children agents: you have many problems with kumhar prajapati community and you used to control wikipedias , highlighter wrong misleading and master of it. Kumhar(Bhumi work) is a caste or community in India, Nepaland Pakistan. Kumhar literally means potter in Indian languages.[1] It is also known by the names Kumbhara, Kubhara, Kumar, Kumor, Kubar and Khubar.However, they are agriculturist also. Moreover, Kumhar Prajapati are from Kshatirya origin in Hindu Verna or ritual system and are clean or swarna or suchi caste in Hindi. The Kumhar community is found throughout India,… Read more »

Raj Verma
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Raj Verma

In Hindu ritual system, Rajputs and Kumhar prajapti are one, however, Rajputs are rich swarna caste and Kumhar prajapti are poor swarna caste. In past Higher caste Brahmins had equal prohibition against Rajputs and kumhar kshatriyas. Rajput soch, you are not from pure Rajput caste because of your shudra soch. Pure kumhar kshatriyas are neither SC nor ST, they are from kshatriya origin in Hindu verna hierarchy and are swarna.Kumhar kshatriyas have all equal rights provided for clean or swarna caste in Hinduism. Furthermore, Kumhar Kshatriya are minority community in India and many people did not know the real identity… Read more »

Raj Verma
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Raj Verma

Brahmin castes or sharma: Shasni, Gaur,Saraswat, Bhumihar, Vedua, Vairagi,Bhat, Pande, Mahabrahmin etc.

Verma or Kshatriya castes: Mian Kanwar Rajput, Rajputs,Jaat, Kumhar prajapati(raje), Sunar(North India), Kurmi, Bunt, Velaar, nair etc.

Gupta or Vaish castes: Bohra, Bania, Teli, Arya vaish and other vaish communities of India.

Shudra castes: All untouchables castes mentioned in Manusmiriti.

Ravinder Verma
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Ravinder Verma

what who?/?????????…on Kumhar site. what is your problem?

The different between Verma title and chamar community is of day and night.
chamar community is neither sharma or verma.

Shudra means untouchables castes mentioned in the Manusmiriti who are historically were not allowed to enter in swarn hindu temples.

Dear wikipedia master and your forefather British Historians and their agents, Kumhar prajapti is a kshtriya(or verma) community in Hindu verna or ritual system.

Please don’t make fool.

Meena kumari prajapati, Radheyshyam Prajapati
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Meena kumari prajapati, Radheyshyam Prajapati

Dear sir,
In india approximate 10 crore prajapati lives in india in all part of india not only 212 district
Thanks

Randip Singh Rana
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Randip Singh Rana

There is a race on computer/net to highlight wrong/misleading things information on the web.But dear truth will never die. Pottery(rural minority elite community) was the biggest industry of rural India in past. In some places from one potter village industry, 50 to 100 sq. KM area was supplied with potter products for cooking pots, drinking pots, ritual pots. Besides, Kumhar prajapties were also do agriculture. Chamars community is 100 to 1000 times more than Kumhar Prajapti community Mr.Madhypradesh pedia(central province where 7% impure(1901) who are not from pure Kumhar Prajapati community), this is not a Indopedia dear or India etc.,… Read more »

Ravinder Singh Verma
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Ravinder Singh Verma

Brother, Rajjan I agree with you. We have to give good traits of character and education to our Children to make them good human being.

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