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THE HATKAR DHANGARS

The HATKAR DHANGARS

The word Dhangar is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Dhenu’ or cow. This community of Dhangars is primarily Shephards, cowherds and buffalo keepers. Spread over entire country and representing a very large number , the Hatkars are very disorganized and disconnected because of their  constant wandering for greener pastures.

Dhangars have a large population especially in Maharasthra.

It is believed that ‘Dhangars’ were divided into sub caste based on the profession they followed. These were Hatkar(shepherds), Ahir (cowherds) and Khutekar (wool and blanket weavers).

‘Hat’ means obstinate in Hindi and Marathi and describes the nature of people from the  Hatkar tribe. The Hatkars are all Bargi Dhangars, or the Shepherds with the Spears. They roam around the area with their sheep and horses moving from one pasture to the other. Traditionally, the Hatkars are distinguished from other Dhangar by wearing a red turban, earring and a coarse blanket and carrying staff. Their women wear considerable number of rings, necklaces, nose rings and ankle bangles. The women also wear vermilion that covers their forehead in a long horizontal line which is a sign of a married woman.

The Hatkars say that they formerly, when going on any expedition, took only a blanket seven hands long and a bear-spear.  The great national weapon of Maratha country during Shivaji era was the Spear.

Hatkars worship many God’s – Shiva, Krishna , Vishnu to name a few.

Present Day the Hatkar community is  a financially and economically backward one, owing to them being disorganized and a profession that requires them to be semi nomadic.

As cities are growing and concrete is replacing Greenland, the Hatkars live in their homes only for 4 months in a year .As summer approaches and pastures vanish, they carry their entire livelihood along with sheep and horses and roam around for grassland.. It is not uncommon to see large flock of sheep  and their red turbaned herders in the outskirts of the cities of Pune and Mumbai.

Also Read : Behind the scenes. Hatkar Dhangars