BANJARAS

Banjara tribe is a well known migratory or nomadic tribe of India. Unlike other
nomadic tribes who are localised in pockets of some states such as Jenukurubas in
Heggadevankote of Mysuru and some parts of Madikeri districts or Hakki-Pikki
people in Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Banjaras are found in almost
all states of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to West Bengal.
Also compared to other groups, Banjaras are tall with fair complexion, have
acquine nose, and classical other nomadic features. They live in settlements called
thandas which are situated either in valleys and forests or near hills.
They were engaged in transport and supply of salt, food grains, spices and other
essential commodities on thousands of pack-bullocks from ages called ladenia or
caravans. They owned large hordes of cattle and bullocks. They were also engaged
in business of carrying and supply of food grains and weapons and ammunition to
the invading armies and in peace times to the nearby markets. There is a reference
in Bombay Gazette that in the year 1386-1407 Durga Devi, a Banjara women who
was having one lakh bullocks and cattles, used to bring food grains from Nepal,
Burma and China and supplied food grains to Indian people. Similarly it is stated
that one Lakisha Banjara had 1 lakh cattles and Bhangi Bhukia had 1,80,000 cattles
and Jangi Bhukia had 40,000 cattles. It is also stated that one Durai Raj of Banjara
was a rich business man who was dealing in gold, silver and other metal products
and transporting to foreign countries by boats and ships through Mangaluru Port in
Karnataka. Banjara community is also knows for their colourful and gorgeous
costumes and their ornaments. They stitch their clothes themselves and using
different colours of threads and embroidery. They mostly used coloured clothes,
red or green and prepared using different embroidery. One has to see to believe
how simple women prepare their dress using different types of Embroidered
patterns. By their appearance, particularly colourful and gorgeous dress of their
women folk, they can easily be recognised as Banjaras in any corner of India.
While stating the greatness of this community, the late Prime Minister of India,
Smt Indira Gandhi said that the weavers weave the cloth in golden threads here and
there. This adds to the beauty. Similarly, the lamanis (Banjaras) are like the golden
threads in the rich cultural heritage. Though they live in various states of India,
their dress, traditions, culture, their dialect called Gor-boli, their songs and dances
are alike. They also wear different types of ornaments such as ivory or plastic

bangles, metal ornaments of different types which are not found among other
tribes.
Similarly, although they live in different states, the dialects or the langauage known
as Gor-boli is one and the same even one has been settled in Northern or Southern
parts of India. This Gor-boli (Gor means Banjaras, boli means speech) is one of the
major tribal dialects spoken by about 6 crore Banjaras. In pronouncement, accent
and usage, Gor-boli is very much akin to a number of north Indian languages like
Hindi, Gujarati, Rajasthani etc. Gor-boli has no script of its own.
Banjaras have rich cultural traditions. Folklores, art, music and dance are very rich
and beautiful in Banjara marriages. Their custom of welcoming groom, different
ceremonies such as farewell to bride, Haveli and Dhavlo songs are rich and
colourful.
Banjaras are worshippers of Nature as they are in constant touch of nature. They
worship the sun, moon, stars, earth, sky, rivers etc. In addition they pray and
worship Balaji, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Durga Kali and other Hindu Gods and
Goddesses. Banjaras are known by different names like Banjara, Banjari, Lamanis,
Lambanis, Lambada, Sugali, Gor, Goria, Gwaria, Gormati and many other
names(Refer chart 1). These are based on their profession and also varies from
province to province depending on the different languages etc. Likewise main
name Banjara is pronounced by Banjara in Rajasthan, Banjar in Urdu, Banjari or
Brinjari in Marathi, Vanjara in Gujarat. Likewise vanjara are called as vanjari,
Vanjhara, Singhad vanjari. The word Banjara comes from the Sanskrit word
Vanaj/Banaj(merchant) . Some say the word Banjara comes from Vana/Bana/Van
meaning forest and chara meaning movers/ wanderers. Lamani word is derived
from lavan (salt) hence Laman, Lamani, Lambani, Lambada in Telugu. Sugali
(telugu) (keeper of good cows). The word Gor, Goria, Gormati means white fair
complexion. Guaria (gua means cow,ar means rakshak) in Marathi. In Punjab,
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh they known as Sikri Band, Sikri wala as they live in
tatches from Sirki(grass). They are also called Baladia because they own thousands
of bullocks ( Balad means bullocks, Ladenia because they used to do the trade on
caravans known as Ladeni)

The list of Synonyms of Banjaras: