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Domba

Domba

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The Domba or Dom are an ethnic
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 or social group, or groups, scattered across India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. They are usually segregated from the mainstream community as outcaste
Outcaste
Outcaste may refer to:*by extension, anything or anyone with a social stigma, due to criminal behavior or non-acceptance of societal norms.*Casteless people in India Dalit...

s.

The Domba are sometimes also called "Chandala
Chandala
Chandala is a Sanskrit word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu lower caste, formerly considered untouchables. Currently it is a term used specifically in Indo-Aryan speaking regions of India. Sandala has become a swear word in the colloquial usage of the Tamil language...

". Both terms also came to be used in the sense of "outcaste" in general. The form Prakrit
Prakrit
Prakrit is the name for a group of Middle Indic, Indo-Aryan languages, derived from Old Indic dialects. The word itself has a flexible definition, being defined sometimes as, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", or "vernacular", in contrast to the literary and religious...

, while and are encountered in Kashmiri Sanskrit texts. Derived from is , the name of a language spoken in a small enclave in the Northern Areas in Pakistan. It is also believed that the Dom or Domi people
Dom people
The Dom of the Middle East are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Some authors relate them to the Domba people of India.- Culture :...

 of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 are descendants of Domba who were taken, or traveled, to Sassanid Persia as servants and musicians.

The term or is extensively used in Indian Hindu and Buddhist literature for a segregated and enslaved population.

Origin of the word Dom


Its presumed root, ḍom, which is connected with drumming, is linked to damara and damaru
Damaru
A damaru or damru is a small two-headed drum shaped like an hourglass. The drum is typically made of wood, with leather drum heads at both ends; the damaru might also be made entirely out of human skulls...

, Sanskrit terms for "drum" and the Sanskrit verbal root डम् ḍam- 'to sound (as a drum)', perhaps a loan from Dravidian
Dravidian languages
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

, e.g. Kannada
Kannada language
Kannada or , is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas and number roughly 50 million, is one of the 30 most spoken languages in the world...

 ḍamāra 'a pair of kettle-drums', and Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

 ṭamaṭama 'a drum, tomtom'.

Demographics and distribution


Currently there remain several thousand people across India known depending on various regional dialects, as Domaki, Dombo, Domra, Domaka, Dombar, Dommara and Domba. In Western India, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat they are referred to as Domba or Domari which is very similar to the name used in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 (see Dom people
Dom people
The Dom of the Middle East are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Some authors relate them to the Domba people of India.- Culture :...

). Place name studies indicate that they attested all over India and even in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

.

Currently some are sedentary whereas others exist on a nomadic mode of life along with number of other tribal people such as Banjara
Banjara
The Banjara are a class of usually described as nomadic people from the Indian state of Rajasthan, North-West Gujarat, and Western Madhya Pradesh and Eastern Sindh province of pre-independence Pakistan...

s and Lambanis.
Some Nomadic Doms in India remain distinct from the local populace in terms of their dress. Nomadic Domba women typically wear bright blues and reds, with numerous thick bangles often covering the entire forearms and arms, a practice that can be seen across other ethnic groups from Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

.

Pakistan


In 1989, 500 people were counted as speaking Domaki in the Shina valley of Pakistan controlled Gilgit Baltistan region. The people are called 'Bericho', 'Dom', or 'Doma'. They are musicians and blacksmiths. All are Muslims and have a tradition of being brought over from some part of India.

North India


Dom in Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a state in Northern India. It is spread over , and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the south, Uttarakhand on the south-east and by the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east...

 exhibit the archetypical characteristics of an indigenous hunter gatherer tribe that has been incorporated as part of the caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 system. Doms are agricultural workers, basket weavers and small scale agriculturalist. They are not known for their nomadic existence. They are also recognized by their neighbors as the original inhabitants of the forests lands.

With regard to the Dom community in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

, they are known as Dommara and are a Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

 speaking caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 of people found in the Nalgonda
Nalgonda
Nalgonda is a town and a municipality in Nalgonda district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Its name is derived from two Telugu words Nalla and Konda . Nalgonda in the past is referred to as Nilagiri. During the period of Bahamani kingdom, it had been renamed as Nallagonda...

 district in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

. In the temple town of Yadagirigutta they are extensively used for the flesh trade by others. Poverty and a tradition of involvement in prostitution have rendered the community susceptible unscrupulous people trafficking young children for the flesh trade.

With regard to the Dom community in Orissa,they speak indo-ariyan Oriya language
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

. They live as neighbors to the Dravidian
Dravidian languages
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

 speaking Khonds
Khonds
Khonds, or Kandhs are an aboriginal tribe of India, inhabiting the tributary states of Orissa and Srikakulam, in the Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh. Their main divisions are into Kutia, or hill Khonds and plain-dwelling Khonds; the landowners are known as Raj Khonds. They are hunter...

 tribals and play a role to them, acting as their messengers and procuring their sacrifice. According to the writer Stephen Hodge, the Khonds used to indulge in human sacrifice till the end of 19th century. Thee sacrificial victims were procured by Doms.[33]. Doms speak Dravidian Kondhi as well as Indo-Aryan Oriya language
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

.

In Varanasi
Varanasi
-Etymology:The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south...

, the holy Hindu city in Uttar Pradesh, they perform the most important task of cremation of dead bodies.

They are also attested in ancient as well as current literature as a scheduled or Dalit caste in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 also.

South India


Doms in Tamil Nadu are known as Dombar or Thombar and are found in villages around the city of Salem. They are mostly Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 speakers.

They are also found in sizeable numbers in Karnataka. There s a major settlement on the outskirts of Belgaum
Belgaum
Belgaum is a city and a municipal corporation in Belgaum district in the state of Karnataka, India. It is the fourth largest city of the state of Karnataka, the first three being Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad....

 city in the north of the city. They are known as jugglers and acrobats.

Occupations


People identified as Doms have long been workers at cremation places, scavengers, or weavers of ropes and baskets. They are also traditionally well known for their musical ability. A medieval history describes the Dom community as a caste that makes its living from music. There are furthermore references to certain raga
Raga
A raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music.It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made...

s entitled Dombakriti, Dombakriya, Dombakrī, Domb and Dombikā, and a deshī or "folk" tāla
Tala
Tala may refer to:* Samoan tālā, the monetary unit of Samoa* Tala , a DC Comics supervillainess of the Phantom Stranger* Tala , the goddess of stars in Tagalog mythology* Tala , a rhythmic pattern in Indian classical music...

 called Dombuli. Even to this day, the various Dom communities continues to provide India with skilled musicians. It seems that with Islamic invasions, the caste declined in importance and its traditional musical skills were condemned.

Most currently some Dom earn their living by entertaining as street performers and jugglers. In a typical show, known colloquially as Dombaryacha khel (DombaraaTa in the south of India), i. e. a performance by the Domba(ri), the whole family participates. The older males usually demonstrate their expertise with a long whip, including the ability to withstand self-flagellation of a bare torso with the whip in a fairly dramatic manner.

The older womenfolk often don't actively participate in the show but stand by the sidelines as assistants. The younger members of both genders perform acrobatic feats. A typical act in the Dombaryacha khel is balancing an hour-glass shaped object on a string, which in turn is tied to a stick at each end. (See Chinese yo-yo
Chinese yo-yo
The Chinese yo-yo is a toy from China consisting of two equally-sized discs connected with a long axle. The Chinese yo-yo is kept spinning on a string tied to two sticks at its ends. Each stick is held in one hand. In modern times, it is used as a children's toy and as a performance tool in...

.) The sticks are flicked sharply to catapult the hourglass object 50–60 feet in the air, which then is expertly caught in the string just before it reaches ground. Adopting a mongrel
Mongrel
Mongrel refers to mixed ancestry:* In botany, a mongrel may refer to the offspring of varieties of a species which was in contrast to a hybrid* Among pets, one whose parentage is of unknown or mixed breeds as opposed to purebred...

 dog as a pet is fairly common as is the use of the trained mongrel in their performances.

Connection with the Romani and Dom peoples


The Dom people
Dom people
The Dom of the Middle East are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Some authors relate them to the Domba people of India.- Culture :...

, an ethnic group scattered through many Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 countries, are widely assumed to be related the Domba of India.

The origin of the word Rom
Names of the Romani people
The Romani people are also known by a variety of other names, in English as Roma and Gypsies, in Greek as . In Central and Eastern Europe as Tsigani , in France as gitans besides the dated bohémiens and manouches....

 is probably also ultimately derived from the same name, although, in the context of the Romani language
Romani language
Romani or Romany, Gypsy or Gipsy is any of several languages of the Romani people. They are Indic, sometimes classified in the "Central" or "Northwestern" zone, and sometimes treated as a branch of their own....

, Rom primary means "man" as in "good man\human", "married person", "husband", while Romni means "wife".

External links