Introduction / History
The Bari of India are also called Rawat and Paanwale. They make leaf plates and are house servants. They live in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajasthan. In Bihar they are also called Donwar. They say they are related and have their origins from Rupana Bari who is classed as a hero.
The Bari speak Awadhi in Uttar Pradesh, Marathi in Maharashtra, Bhojpuri in Bihar and Mewari in Rajasthan. They speak Hindi also in these states and read and write in Devanagari.
Most Bari make leaf plates and leaf cups. They are also household servants in Madhya Pradesh. In the west of Maharashtra, most are growers of betel leaves. In Rajasthan they catch birds in the forest, make leaf plates and cups, reed seats, paper flowers and cages from wire. In Bihar they carry electric and gas lights at weddings. Most own no land but do agriculture. Many have small businesses such as pulling people in rickshaws, cart driving and tailoring and live in city slums. There is child labor.
The Bari are not vegetarian but do not eat beef because of their Hindu religion. They eat such cereals as wheat, rice and lentils. They like fruit and vegetables but money can be a problem. They drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and chew tobacco. There is a low state of literacy, Maharashtra being the exception (so the gospel will need to be given in oral form too). They use local medicines but for bigger health matters they go to clinics. It is usually women who are sterilized to avoid having larger families than they want.
The Bari only marry in their community. There are many subdivisions. There are clans amongst them who look after marriage alliances. Nobody is allowed to marry within their clan. Marriages are mainly monogamous and are arranged by the elders of both of the families. There are both adult and child marriages. Divorce and marrying again are allowed but do not happen often. The dowry is given with goods.
The property of the parents goes equally to all the sons and the oldest son becomes the person in charge. The Bari women help by taking additional work or helping their men with their businesses as well as doing the housework and looking after the children. The Bari have community welfare associations in the states that they live in.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Bari are Hindus and worship most of the Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu and Rama. They also worship family and village gods and worship ancestors too. They celebrate Hindu festivals such as Holi, Diwali and Dusshera. They also celebrate a New Year festival called Makar Sankranti and here sesame seeds combined with jaggery (unrefined sugar) are exchanged among the Bari. They cremate their dead and the ashes are immersed in a river. If they can, they use the River Ganges, which is regarded as holy. Infants to the age of five years old are buried and there is a death pollution period, usually for twelve days with a feast at the end of it.
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