Introduction / History
The Lunia of India are also called Jhumaria Parmer, Nunia, Sambhri and Sambhri Chauhan. They have been salt makers in the past.
The name Lunia comes from Lun or Nun meaning moist and is the name for sea salt. They say they are descended from the Kshatriya. The Lunia look at themselves as superior to the Dhobi, Dhanuk, Nai and Kahar but inferior to the Brahmin, Bania and Rajput. They regard themselves equal to the Thakur, Gadaria, Teli and Lodh. Hindu society though classes them as Sudra, the lowest of the four castes of peasants. They speak in Hindi and read and write in Devanagari. In West Bengal they speak Khotta and in Bihar, the language is Maithili.
Where Are they Located?
They live in Uttar Pradesh. They live in eastern and central districts of places like Lucknow and Kanpur and crime is common where they live. They live in Bihar too and a small number are in West Bengal where they are classed as a Scheduled Caste. This is advantageous to them.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Lunia do such work as farm work, building roads, railways and digging wells and other construction work. Many are farmers on small plots of land they own. There are a few of them in government and private occupations while some are doctors and lawyers. Some are political leaders.
The Lunia eat meat provided they have enough money but cannot eat beef because of their Hindu religion. They eat cereals like wheat and rice and have seasonal vegetables. Men (not women) drink alcohol and have tobacco too. The literacy level is less than the national average so there is a need for the gospel in oral form. Poverty can be an obstacle to education. They use family planning and traditional and modern medicine. They are given electricity and clean drinking water. There is a lot of debt among them to shopkeepers and moneylenders.
The Lunia are endogamous which means they marry only among their sub caste or subgroup. Both adult and child marriages take place. The bridegroom goes to the home of his bride, marries her and they live in the home of his parents. Usually marriages are done by negotiating. Divorce and marrying again are allowed.
When the father dies, the oldest son is in charge of the family. Sons and daughters inherit the property of their parents equally. The widowed mother gets some money if she does not marry again.
The opinions of women are listened to but the final say is from the men. The Lunia women do the housework. They collect firewood and take part in rituals and social and religious matters.
The Lunia have a regional association in Kanpur and Delhi called the Rajput Maryada Sabha that looks to promote their needs to the government.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Lunia are Hindus and worship Shiva and Durga as their main god and goddess. They worship other gods and goddesses too. Ancestors are also worshipped. They celebrate festivals such as Diwali and Holi. Varanasi is a main pilgrimage place. Brahmin priests perform birth, marriage and death rituals. The deceased are cremated but children less than five years old are buried. Birth and death pollution periods take place for a set time.
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