Choudhuri / Choudhury

Brief Details of Choudhuri / Choudhury

Choudhuri / Choudhury

The Choudhury are a well-documented community, with studies having conducted on this community since 1900. The term Choudhra is also used for the Choudhury community, though during 1961. Census Choudhura and Choudhari appeared as independent groups with their respective population figures (Choudhara - 6,107 and Choudhri 1,37,469) in Gujarat. The population according to census 2001 was 2,82,392, males 1,41,512 and females were 1,40,880.

In 2001 In the rural areas they are called choudhara while in urban areas as Chaudhury claim Rajput descent. A section of the Choudhury, call themselves 'Ravalia' after the last Rajput ruler of Pavagarh. Patel Raval. The Choudhury of Vyara as well as Mandavi talukas claim that they migrated from Pavagarh and settled in this part of the state about five hundred years back. According the 1981 census the Choudhury population records as 2,19,897 and Choudhura, 5,646, totally to 2,25,361. They speak in Choudhra dialect and they are also well conversant with Gujarati. The Gujarati script is used.

The Choudhury are non-vegetarian. The common cereals are rice, Kodra, jowar and wheat. The pulses such as toovar and urad, and grams are taken. Tea is taken regularly. Alcohol is also consumed procured from the market. Fruits and vegetables are a part of the diet but occasionally consumed. Chewing betel leaves and smoking bidi are common habits among the men folk, though it has become very limited by 2010.

The Choudhhury have three endogamous divisions, namely; Paragadia, Naladri and Valvda, According to the 1961 census, they are further segmented into nine exogamous divisions called kuls (clans) such as Bamania, Dharat, Kanabi, Rajput, Ravelia, Valivi, Vashi, Hajarnia and Desai. Ganshyam Shah (1977) has mentioned five sections "Nana, Mota, Valvi, Tekaria and Bonda". Nana Choudhury are treated higher than the other section, the Mota. The Valiv, Tekaria, and Bonda are territorial groups. Nana and Mota Choudhury are the numerically largest section while the rest are spread over Songadh, Mongool, and Mahuva Talukas. They have a story to relate to their origin; it is said that a cow belonging to a Choudhury family died and its corpse was carried outside the village by two brothers, the elder (Mota) and the younger (Nana). The elder brother did not observe the obligatory customary ablutions but only washed his hands and feet with a few drops of water. The descendants of the elder brother were hence called 'Chatala' which means 'sprinkled with drops'. The 'Nana' descendants of the younger brother i.e. Nani who had immersed his body in water in accordance with custom, consider themselves "Elokpuri" which means "the pure ones". Both Mota and Nana are endogamous. The Choudhury are again classified into two groups i.e. Varjelas and Sarjelas, depending on the extent to which they have been influenced by reformist ideas the Varjelas are a reformed group, follows of different gurus leading a life in accordance with the reformist ideas of the guru concerned but Sarjelas, who continue their traditional ways of life.

Endogamy is followed at the subgroup level and exogamy at the kul (clan) level. The patri-kin are known as Paghdi ni-Sagai Vala and on the female (wife) side kin as Kapdini Sagal Vala. The marriageable age for boys ranging from 18 to 21 years and for girls from 16 to 20 years. Mode of acquiring mates is through negotiation. Ghar-jamaimarriages (marriage by service) also take place in which the prospective son-in-law serves the girl's father for a fixed period of time after which the marriage is solemnized. In such cases the couple settles at the girl's house. Monogamy is the common form though polygamy is also permitted. Symbol of marriage for a woman is vermilion on the hair parting. Bride-price is paid in cash. Residence after marriage is patrilocal. Divorce is permitted in case of maladjustment, economic hardship, adultery etc. The Varjelas prefer to restrict marriage ties to within the reform groups only.

The extended families are common and the nuclear families also co-exist. A married woman the avoidance relationships with the elder brother of her husband by keeping veil in their presence and refraining from direct conversation. The same way she behaves with her father-in-low. Joking relation exist with the younger brothers of one’s husband. Similarly a man has joking relations with the younger sister of his wife and grandparents have joking relationships with their grand children. In case of women, the male members of her husband's age group also have some joking relationships. All the sons get an equal share of the parental property. Succession is through the eldest son. The Chaudhury do not permit proprietary rights to women. In family affairs their views are also considered during marriage negotiations. Women contribute to the family income. They enjoy a secondary status in their society.

Child birth takes place within the four walls of a dwelling hut. The mother and the child are attended to by the local midwife. On the fifth day after birth Pachora is observed and the name of the child is selected by the maternal uncle. Mundan or tonsure ceremony is observed during fifth or seventh year. Birth pollution for the child and other members of the family is twelve days while for mother it extends to forty days.

Marriages are solemnized at the residence of the bride. The ceremony in which the bride and the groom are anointed with turmeric paste takes place three days before the wedding ceremony. A necklace of glass beads is tied around the neck of the bride and the couple are taken to the threshold of the house around which they walk four times, throwing rice grains over each other every time. Later they go into the kitchen and walk four times around the hearth. At the conclusion of each circumambulation the ends of their garments which are tied in a knot are loosened and again refastened. Two dancers lifting the bride and the groom on their shoulders and dance. The bride goes to the house of her husband the same day. She returns on the firth day and finally joins her husband afterwards. The consummation of marriage takes place at the groom’s house.

The dead are cremated, but in case of death of children and pregnant women they bury. On way to the cremation ground, the son of the deceased places a small stone, a lump of cooked rice and drinking water. Cremation takes place after this. Ashes are immersed in water and at right a lighted earthen lamp along with food and water are placed on the spot where the deceased breathed his last. On the third day or twelfth day khatran or a small stone slab is installed as a memorial and a community feast is arranged. The khatran is worshiped along with all the other family deities.

The major economic resource is land. Individual ownership has been accorded following the amendment of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955 which came into force on first of August, 1956, which provided land to the tillers. The community is a combination of both land-owning and landless groups. Agriculture is the main stay of their economy. The system of tenancy and share-cropping exists within a system in which the rental that a tenant has to pay for a piece of land is fixed by an oral agreement the payment itself called ganot. Landlessness and the number of agricultural laborers, increased from the year 1920. When absentee landlords slowly acquired and increased their possessions. The land in the possession of money lenders went up by three times between 1906 to 1929. This was due to the famine of 1900 when most of the Advasis had to borrow large amounts for their livelihood, mortgaging lands for a period of ten to twenty years.

The Choudhury have their traditional jati panchayat. The Karbhari is the village headman. Sometimes he also acts as Bhagat i.e. traditional medicine man. The panchayat comprise the Karbhari and heads of households. It settles disputes between the members of the community. The Police Patel is another important office in the village. He was responsible for maintenances of law and order and collection of government revenue. A Police Patel holds office for a term of five years but generally it is extended for many years so much so that it has become hereditary. The Statutory panchayat is primarily concerned with the implementation of developmental schemes and arbitrate inter-community disputes.

The community was involved in the movement for Independence under the prominent national leader like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel etc. During the pre-Independence period, they organized reform movements against consumption of liquor and for the spread of education amongst them. They have been actively participating in the political affairs of the state.

The Chaudhury are mainly Hindu although a few among them have converted to Christinity. A majority of this converted group is found in the area of Vavara, Songadh, Mandari etc. The Hindu Choudhurys worships a number of deities at the levels of the family, clan and village and at the regional level. The Christian converts however believe in Jesus Christ, although they continue to participate in village and regional festivals. They worship their ancestors on the eve of Diwali and Holi. Ahindo-Dev, the god of the hills, is considered their supreme God. Himaria-Dev is considered the protector of field and crops. Morkhi Mata is believed to look after the health of both human beings and cattle. The Choudhury also believe in spirits and ghosts. Mukri Mata, Kiliodio are the main spirits and hare believe to cause various deceases like plague, fever, cholera, and even chattel's diseases. It is believed that one who commits suicide becomes a vampire. If a pregnant woman dies during labour or immediately after delivery she becomes vantri (witch). Traditional sacred specialist is known as a Bhuva who serves as a shaman.

The Chaudhury do not accept water from the communities of lower castes. They have access to institutions such as the school, panchayat houses etc. They maintain socio-economic interdependence with non-tribal absentee landlords. They also serve in different Government and semi-Government organizations. They have regular contacts with other communities. Through political activities they have come to close interaction with several communities. Sardar Patel and Kasturba Gandhi organized them and initiated several reforms. The community revolted against the rulers, of the Baroda state during the pre-independence period due to the deprivation of the right to distill liquor. The movement met with success. The community has a number of political leaders and social workers at the state and national levels. A community leader Amar Singh Choudhary has held the office of state Chief Minister.

The rate of literacy among the Choudhury is much higher than the average tribal literacy rate in the state. Under census 2001, 90514 (71.3%) male and 67988 (53.4%) female were literate. Education of this tribal group began with establishment of residential schools by the then Vadodara sate, at Songadh for the tribals in 1885. The school provided not only free tuition but also boarding, lodging and clothing facilities to the students. Such schools also appeared in letter year. They favor family planning programmes and use modern methods of birth control. Drinking water is available within the locality. They take advantage of rural employment guarantee scheme. They use electricity and firewood, cola, kerosene etc. are the fuels used by them. They avail of the facilities extended through the public distribution system and have favorable attitude towards saving in banks.

Population Data

Details of population data of Choudhuri
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Choudhuri Life
1 of Choudhuri Life
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