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History :
The Chamar tribes are usually found in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra. They are also known as Chamari, Chambar Boli and Chambari. They are considered untouchables, and most of them know nothing else their entire lives. With a population of over 50 million, they are among the largest untouchables, or Dalit communities in the Hindu world. The Chamars are also known as Bhambi, Asadaru, Khalpa, Machigar, Lingayat, Mochi and Rohit. They are mostly distributed in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.

Chamars are the tanner and leather workers of north-western India and the western parts of Punjab. Chamar is the name derived from the Sanskrit word 'charmakira' which means 'worker in hides'. In the east of Punjab, they are far more than leather workers, They are the general coolies and field laborers of the villages. They do miscellaneous work such as cutting grass, carrying wood and bundles and acting as watchmen. They take the hides of all the dead cattle and the flesh of all clove-footed animals. They make and mend shoes, thongs for the cart, whips and other leather work. A share of the produce in the fields is given to them in return for the work done. The Chamars are by and large weavers in the eastern and south eastern parts of Punjab. The Chamars are by religion Hindus or Sikhs.

Tanning being profession of Chamars in past, they could be both from the original tribes who were living in India even before the Aryan Invasion and they were also Aryans who came from the Central Asia. Historians believe they are true Hindus. The spiritual enlightenment of Saint Guru Ravidass attaracted many people toward Ravidassia Sect. Saint Ravidass was one of those few saints who were directly linked to God witout being stuck to false and hoaxful rites. It was due to such top graded spiritual enlightenment of Saint Ravidass that many people became his disciple.

The Chamar tribal Community speak the language of Chamari. The Chamar use the Devanagari script and speak Kannada, Gujarati and Hindi along with regional languages.

The Chamar are Hindus and they belong to the Shiva and Bhagvat sects. Their deities are Bahiroba, Janai, Kandova of Jejori and Bhawani of Tuljapur. They follow the spiritual teachings of Ravidass and are very much fond of reciting mythological tales and sing songs from the religious epics. They celebrate the festivals such as Diwali, Panchami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kartik, Holi and Hannami. There is a slightly higher degree of responsiveness to the gospel among the Chamars than among other Dalits.

The Chamar practice monogamy in marriage. Dowry is largely prevalent and is paid in cash and kind. Remarriage is allowed for widowers but not for the widows. The dead body of a bachelor is buried lying on its back with the head facing the south, whereas others are cremated and their mortal remains are immersed in sacred water. Rice balls are offered to the dead and to ancestors on the tenth day after death.

Place /Location (then and now)
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka & Gujarat
50 Million
Languages spoken
Kannad, Gujarati, Hindi & Chamari
Hinduism/ Bahiroba, Janai, Kandova of Jejori and Bhawani of Tuljapur
Rice & Jowar

In appearance, Chamars resemble the local population and region. Chamars of Kashmir are very light-skinned, while those in Punjab look like typical Punjabis; may be very light skinned or of darker complexions".

The Chamars will eat food prepared by any tribe except the Khakrob, Kanjar, Sansi and Nat. Their staple cereals are rice and jowar. Men occasionally drink alcohol.

The Chamar Community is one of the most involved and influential castes involved in Indian politics. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a dalit-dominated political party, is very powerful in U.P and is expanding all over India. The BSP is one of the most powerful political parties of India. It was founded by Kanshi Ram and is led today by Mayawati Kumari, a Chamar. The BSP was created and is dominated by the dalits but currently includes all castes.

The traditional occupation of this Chamar tribe was processing, manufacturing and trading in leather and leather goods, but agriculture is another important occupation in which they engage, either as owners or as tenants who farm property on a share-cropping basis.

The Chamar Community has a history of military service and has their exclusive regiment in Indian army called Sikh Light Infantry. Many Chamar families are descended from Kshatriya communities, which is why they share common family names, for example Bhatti, Chauhan, Toor, bar gujjar and a number of others. Many Chamars were recruited in British Indian Army during World War I and World War II on various ranks.