Feb 26, 2013

Dome, Hindoo Outcaste, Behar - c1860's


THE complexion and mode of life of the Domes indicate the difference of this race from all the other classes of people residing in Behar.

There are no means of obtaining any information which may throw light upon then early history ; suffice it to say that the Hindoos admit their claim to antiquity. Their designation in the Shastras is Sopuckh, meaning dog-eaters.

They are found in every village in Behar, though they have fixed habitations nowhere.

They profess the Hindoo religion, and worship Raho, Sookdeo, and the Debee. They eat the food prepared by all the Hindoo castes, excepting Dhobee (washerman) and Chamar (shoemaker).

They make bamboo baskets, mats, and chicks, or blinds, by which they earn about two annas per diem; but are so fond of drinking, that they spend nearly the whole of it in spirits, and lead a most miserable life, little better than that of a mendicant or Fuqueer.

They receive alms from the Hindoos during the eclipses of the sun and moon. They also supply fire to the funeral pile, for which they are rewarded according to the circumstances in life of those who buy it from them.

They always snatch away the upper covering of a Hindoo corpse as soon as it is placed near the pile. These cloths they sell at very cheap prices to procure liquor. In short, they are employed in most menial offices, and bear a bad character. They have often been convicted and punished as robbers, &c.

Their chief diet is rice and dholl ; they eat swine, as well as the dead bodies of all quadrupeds. Swine are killed at their weddings, and are considered a great luxury.

Notwithstanding profligate habits many of them attain the age of eighty or ninety ; and it is not till sixty or sixty-five that their hair begins to get white. (MS. Documents.)

From the Book "The people of India : a series of photographic illustrations, with descriptive letterpress, of the races and tribes of Hindustan"