Dhobi cast


Dhobi cast

***** Location: India
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


The Dhobi are a caste group found in Pakistan, India who specialize in washing clothes.
The word Dhobi is derived from Hindi word dhona, which means to wash. They are found throughout North India, Gujarat, Maharashtra as well as the Punjab province of Pakistan, where they are known as Gazar.
The Dhobi is likely to be of diverse origin, with those who ancestors took the occupation of washing clothes evolving over time into a distinct caste, bound by rules of endogamy.

Most Dhobis follow the customs and traditions of the region they live, so for example those in North India speak Hindi, while those in Maharashtra speak Marathi.

Dhobi of Punjab
The Dhobi of Punjab are said to have immigrated from the ancient city of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh, and are now found throughout Punjab. They are further sub-divided into clans called gots from the Sanskrit gotra, and marriages are forbidden within the clan. Their main clans are the Chauhan, Panwar, Tonwar and Rajoria. The Dhobi speak Punjabi, and their customs are similar to other Punjabi Hindu castes.

dhobi ironing

They are community still very much involved in their traditional occupation which is washing clothes. Some have also taken to other occupations such as dry cleaning, shop keeping, hosiery and plying rickshaws. A significant migration to the urban areas of Punjab and other parts of India has begun. Traditionally, the Dhobi lived in villages dominated by landowning castes such as the Jat, who acted as their patrons. This relationship has broken down, and any transaction now is made in cash. Each Dhobi settlement contains a biradari panchayat, which acts as instrument of social control, and resolves intra community disputes.

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Things found on the way


February night--
a dhoban's cough
rattles the wintry silence

mounting the stairs
a dhoban's anklets drown
her cardiac murmur

Shared by Manu Kant
Joys of Japan, February 2012

*the wife of "dhobi"


Related words

***** . Haiku from Punjab .


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