Muslims by religion, Hindu by tradition, nomads in Buxar excite scholars
They participate in all Hindu festivals. However, during weddings, they put on vermilion of different colours. “On the fifth day, after ‘sindoor daan’, they recite kalma in presence of a maulvi for completion of the wedding ceremony,” said Sinha.Updated: Mar 01, 2019 15:25 IST
In marriages, they follow Hindu rituals of ‘sindoor daan’ (application of vermilion). But they claim to be Muslims and conclude their wedding ceremonies with recitation of ‘kalma’ in the presence of a maulvi. While alive, they are not allowed to enter mosques as their caste is ‘lower’ in the rung. After death, they are buried in a graveyard.
Welcome to the world of Lathor nomads (nat) in Bihar, settled at Buxar, about 130 km from Patna, who are the subject of a research project commissioned by Centre of Endangered Language Studies at IIT (Patna).
As per the linguistic scholars working on the projects, people of this tiny community speak Lathauri, an endangered variety of Hindi spoken by nomads.
“The Lathors have a settlement of 70-80 houses at Badka Nuaol Toli at Buxar and 20-25 houses at Bihta, about 30 km from the state capital,” said Sweta Sinha, assistant professor, department of humanities and social science, IIT (Patna), who is also coordinator of Centre of Endangered Language Studies.
Lathors claim they are from Rajasthan and have moved to Bihar via Uttar Pradesh.
During visits to Buxar and Bihta, the researchers found Lathauri different from Bhojpuri and Magahi languages, which is generally spoken in the two areas. The team has prepared a word list of the language spoken by the nomads and found its syntax different. Some of the words of Lathauri are similar to Bagdi language of Rajasthan.
“However, the local languages have influenced Lathauri and the younger ones are more prone to adopting them. The Lathauri songs or language spoken by aged people was not understood by the research team members. The language is now endangered,” said Sinha.
“More field work will be conducted in the area to establish that Lathauri is a new found language and it is slowly getting extinct,” she said.
In Lathor community, women are more empowered then men and they are the decision makers in the family, as men mostly remain away from home for work.
“The Lathors have seven to eight sub-communities called Kuri and they would not marry in other sub-community,” Sinha said.
At Buxar, the Lathors belong to Pach Bhaiya sub community and the men’s main vocation is making tattoos on body.
Their marriage is a five-day ritual. They participate in all Hindu festivals, including Dussehra and Diwali. However, during weddings, they put on vermilion of different colours, including red, blue, green or yellow colours. “On the fifth day, after ‘sindoor daan’, they recite kalma in presence of a maulvi for completion of the wedding ceremony,” said Sinha.
However, they are not allowed to enter mosques, as they are considered of lower castes. After death, they are buried in graveyard.
A member of the research team said the nomads at Bihta claim themselves as Paithan, but follow Hindu tradition and the dead people are cremated.
“Polygamy is common among the Lathors of Bihta,” said Sinha.
The Centre of Endangered Language Studies, IIT (Patna) claimed that it was first to prepare documentation of Lathauri and the community. It has just begun work on the ways to conserve Lathauri.