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Kolhati

Kolhati is a nomadic tribe found in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. They are also known by various names in Maharashtra, e.g Dandewale, Kabutari, Khelkar, Dombari, Kolhati, Bansberia, etc. in Karnataka, they are known by the name Dombari.


Kolhati is a nomadic tribe found in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. They are also known by various names in Maharashtra, e.g Dandewale, Kabutari, Khelkar, Dombari, Kolhati, Bansberia, etc. in Karnataka, they are known by the name Dombari.
There are nine sub-categories within the community of Kolhati’s. They are Maratha, Gujarathi, Dukare aka Potare, Pal aka Kane, Harka, Vale aka Valiyar, Gopalgani, Are and Musalman. They usually stay in the open areas outside a village, in temporary shanties made of mats and travel from one base to another loading their belongings on the donkeys. They convert outsiders into their caste and feed him wild-boar meat to complete the conversion. Patekar, Devalkar, Lakhe, Sontakke, Niknath, Durve, Dandekar, Kathe are some of the clan surnames prevalent in the Kolhati tribe.  
Kolhati-s from Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra performs the threading ceremony of their sons by calling on a Brahmin priest. Their main ancestor is known as Kol, who was a dancer, as far as the tradition is concerned. His father was a Teli and his mother a Kshatriya. The kids are married after they attain puberty. The girl child is allowed to make her own decision regarding marriage. They are allowed to take up prostitution as a profession if they feel so. 
Polygamy is prevalent in the Kolhati tribe. The father of the bridegroom requests the marriage on behalf of the groom. He needs to pay a certain amount to the father of the bride as a custom. Widows are allowed a re-marriage. The marriages usually happen on the night before a no-moon night. An unmarried male can marry a widow, only after getting married to a tree Rui. Though they follow The Hindu Succession Act, divorces are not allowed in this tribe. 
They believe in astrology, witchcraft and mostly are followers of Shiva and Hanuman. Jejuri, Alandi, Shikhar-Shingnapur, Pandharpur, Jyotiba, Kolhapur Mahalaxmi are some of the holy places that they visit. Khandoba, Mariaai, Mhasoba, Bahiroba are some of the lesser deities they pray to. Women from the Gopalgani sub-category of the Kolhati-s primarily indulge in prostitution. The Kolhati-s usually make handcrafted goods like grass-mats, combs, toys, decorative pieces from animal horns and indulge in professional tattooing. The womenfolk are also involved in singing, dancing and Tamasha.

Districts/Region

Maharashtra, India.

Cultural Significance

Kolhati is a nomadic tribe found in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.


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