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Title: Socio-Economic and Cultural Life of the Bediyas of Bengal during British Rule
Other Titles: Karatoya, A Refereed and Peer Reviewed Journal, Department of History, Vol.15, March 2022, pp 101-115
Authors: Sufia Khatun
Keywords: Bediya
Women pedlars
Major earners
Social change
Issue Date: Mar-2022
Publisher: University of North Bengal
Abstract: Bediya is the generic name given to a number of gipsy tribes wandering in different parts of Bangladesh. In ancient and medieval Bengal, the Bediyas have been mentioned in contemporary literature as the ‘antyaja’ castes, displaying snake games and playing magic. During British rule, the Bediyas would live in boats or in houses raised on piles in different parts of Bengal. Unlike the settled cultivating class, they subsisted by selling snake venom, fancy goods, and small articles; by practising indigenous medicine; and by displaying magic, gymnastics, and shows of snakes and animals. A few Bediya families elected their own Sardar, whose decision was binding to all of them. A Bediya woman was more industrious compared to her husband. Their occupations, food habits, social organization, and everyday life were different from those of the settled communities of the country. In society, the Bediyas were treated as low-grade people. Most of the Bediyas followed Islam but were addicted to alcohol and ganja. They worshipped the goddess Manasa and observed many Hindu rituals.
ISSN: 2229-4880
Appears in Collections:Karatoya Vol.15 (March 2022)

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