females hindus india
BAZIGARS, a tribe of Indians, inhabiting different parts of the peninsula of Hindustan. They are recognised by several appellations, as Bazigars, Panchpiri, Kuujra, or Nate ; they follow a mode of life distinguishing them from the Hindus, among whom they dwell ; they abstain from intermixing their families with the Hindus, and from any intercourse by which they can be united. They are dispersed throughout the whole of India, partly in wandering ' tribes, partly adhering to fixed residences, but the greater proportion lead a nomadic life.
The Bazigars are divided into seven castes ; but besides those who are united into sects or castes, there are individuals who wander about endeavouring to pick up a precarious livelihood. Although the Bazigars are distinguished by their manners and customs from the natives of Ilindr.sta.n, their features do not certainly discriminate them as a separate race. Some of their women are reputed very beautiful, and are thence sought after in those temporary alliances common in the East. The Bazigars more especially distinguished by that name are the most civilized of the whole ; they are Mahometans in food, apparel, and religion. The Panchpiri profess no system of faith, in preference adopting indifferently that of any village whither their wanderings may guide them. Some traverse the country as Mahometan fakirs, and live on the chance bounty of devotees ; and a particular association among them, of bad repute or abject superstition, has been accused of sacrificing human victims. The chief occupation of the BILzigars seems to consist in feats of address and agility to amuse the public, in which both males and females are equally skilful. The former are extremely athletic, and the women are taught dancing, which, instead of the graceful motions seen in the north, consists principally of a display of lascivious gestures. Most of the men are adroit jugglers, tumblers, and actors. Both males and females pursue a systematic course of debauchery, so that few live beyond forty, and many do not attain their thirtieth year. From the pursuits of the females being productive to their parents, their marriages are deferred to a later period than is usual in India. The females who do not attend the juggling exhibitions of the men, or their feats of activity, practise physic and cupping, and perform a kind of tattooing on the skin of the Hindus of their own sex, called godnd. The men, besides their usual occupations, collect medical herbs, which are prepared by their wives as curatives, especially of the complaints of their own sex. In this manner, or by the sale of trinkets, they find employment in the towns, though these occupations afford them but a precarious subsistence. Some tribes also go about exhibiting wild beasts, or offering for sale mats fabricated by themselves. Before the establishment of the British Government in Bengal, the Bazigars were subject to the arbitrary exactions of a tax-gatherer, whom they greatly dreaded, and the apprehension of the renewal of that officer's powers has proved a consider-able impediment to investigating their manners and customs.
The Bazigars are supposed to present many features analogous to the gipsics scattered over Europe and Asia, where they subsist as a race distinct from all the other inhabitants of the countries frequented by them. The Bazigars, as well as the gipsies, have a chief or king ; each race has a peculiar language, different from that of the people among whom they reside ; and the analogy of the languages is so decided, that it is difficult to deny that they have had a common origin. Another resemblance, which has probably been lost in the lapse of time, is supposed to consist in the three-stringed viol introduced into Europe by the jugglers of the 13th century, which is exactly similar to the instrument now used in Hindustan. Disjoined, these analogies may not carry conviction of the identity of the European gipsies with the Indian Bazigars ; but, on combining the whole, it does not seem unlikely, that if Asia was their original country, or if they have found their way from Egypt to India, they may also have emigrated farther at a period of remote antiquity, and reached the boundaries of Europe.