Introduction / History
The Bhantu are also known as Sahaisi or Sahasi, which means "brave."
Where are they located?
They are found mostly in Uttar Pradesh. Between 1926 and 1928, the British took about three hundred of them from Uttar Pradesh to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
What are their lives like?
The Bhantu were previously thieves. They are a community that the British listed, in their Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, as criminal. The stigma stuck a century-and-a-half later – despite the Act's demise in 1952, despite being referred to officially now as a "denotified tribe." Today they work in government and other agencies. A number of them are farmers.
They speak Bhantu at home, but are also conversant with Hindi.
Brides are gained through negotiation or by courtship with a bride-price being very common.
Most of the Bhantu have no land of their own.
What are their beliefs?
Most of the Bhantu are Hindu. They observe all Hindu festivals and employ Brahman priests to perform their religious rites. They rarely perform ancestor worship. Shankar Bhagwan is their family deity and Sherawali Mata and Hanuman are village deities.
Some have embraced Christianity.
What are their needs?
Their level of literacy is high but they struggle to find work. There is a lack of higher and technical education.
Text source: Joshua Project