Introduction / History
The Nema are a Bania subcaste, the bulk of whom reside in the Saugor, Damoh, Narsinghpur and Seoni Districts. The origin of the name is obscure; the suggestion that it comes from Nimar appears to be untenable, as there are very few Nemas in that District.
The Nemas are most largely returned from Central India, and are probably a Bundelkhand group. They will eat food cooked without water with Golapurab Banias, who are also found in Bundelkhand.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Nemas wear the sacred thread and apparently prohibit the remarriage of widows. The Nemas are considered to be very keen business men, and a saying about them is, "Where a sheep grazes or a Nema trades, what is there left for anybody else."
What Are Their Beliefs?
They are mainly Hindus, with a small minority of Jains. They say that when Parasurama was slaying the Kshatriyas fourteen young Rajput princes, who at the time were studying religion with their family priests, were saved by the latter on renouncing their Kshatriya status and declaring themselves to be Vaishyas. These fourteen princes were the ancestors of the fourteen "gotras" of the Nema subcaste, but the "gotras" actually bear the names of the fourteen Rishis or saints who saved their lives. These sections appear to be of the usual Brahmanical type, but marriage is regulated by another set of fifty-two subsections, with names which are apparently titular or territorial.
Like other Bania groups the Nemas are divided into Bisa and Dasa subdivisions or twenties and tens, the Bisa being of pure and the Dasa of irregular descent. There is also a third group of Pacha or fives, who appear to be the offspring of kept women. After some generations, when the details of their ancestry are forgotten, the Pachas probably obtain promotion into the Dasa group. The Bisa and Dasa groups take food together, but do not intermarry.
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