Bania (caste)

The Bania (also spelled as Baniya, Banija, Banya, Vaniya, Vani, Vania and Vanya) is an occupational community of merchants, bankers, money-lenders, dealers in grains or in spices, and in modern times numerous commercial enterprises. The term is used in a wider sense in Bengal than it is elsewhere in India, where it is applied to specific castes.[1]

Bania women in British India.

Etymology and related groupsEdit

Irfan Habib believes the origin of banya to lie in the Sanskrit word variously rendered as vanij, vanik and banik, as does the name of the Banjara community of traders and transporters. He says that the Bania were historically India's "pre-eminent" trading community.[2]

In western India one merchant occupational group is called Vani or Vania; in Bengal the term is applied to all people who are involved in moneylending and similar activities.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Schrader, Heiko (1997). Changing financial landscapes in India and Indonesia: sociological aspects of monetization and market integration. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 68. ISBN 978-3-8258-2641-3.
  2. ^ Habib, Irfan (1990). "Merchant Communities in Precolonial India". In Tracy, James D. (ed.). The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750. Cambridge University Press. pp. 371–99. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511563089. ISBN 978-0-52145-735-4.

Further readingEdit