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The Banjara (also called Gor, Lambadi, and Gormati) are a community usually described as nomadic people from the northwestern belt of the Indian subcontinent (from Afghanistan to the state of Rajasthan) but now found in other areas of India also.

Traditional banjara dress.jpg



According to J. J. Roy Burman, the name Laman was popular long before the name Banjara, and Laman Banjaras originally came from Afghanistan before settling in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Lamans, according to him, are originally from the independent province of Gor in Afghanistan.[1]

Banjaras were traditionally suppliers of bullock and salt merchants. The word Banjara is said to be derived from Sanskrit word vana chara (wanderers in jungle). The word Lambani or Lamani is derived from the Sanskrit word lavana (salt), which was the principal product they transported across the country.[2]



Traditional Banjara dress comprising of kanchali (blouse) and phetiya (skirt)

Banjaras speak Gor Boli; also called Lambadi, it belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages. Most Banjaras today are bilingual or multilingual adopting the predominant language of their surroundings.[3]


Banjara art is rich and includes performance arts such as dance and music to folk and plastic arts such as rangoli, textile embroidery, tattooing and painting.[4] The Banjara embroidery and tattooing are especially prized and also form a significant aspect of the Banjara identity. Lambani women specialize in lepo embroidery which involves stitching pieces of mirror, decorative beads and coins onto clothes.[5] The Sandur Lambani Embroidery is a type of textile embroidery unique to the tribe in Sanduru, Bellary district, Karnataka. It has obtained a GI tag.[6]


Banjara people celebrate the festival of Teej during Shravana (the month of August). In this festival young unmarried Banjara girls pray for a good groom.[7] They sow seeds in bamboo bowls and water it three times a day for nine days and if the sprouts grow "thick and high", it is considered as good omen. During Teej the seedling-baskets are kept in the middle and girls sing and dance around them.[7] Banjaras celebrate all Hindu festivals such as Holi, Diwali.[8][9] Banjaras have a sister community of singers known as Dadhis or Gajugonia[10] They are Muslim Banjaras who traditionally traveled from village to village singing songs to the accompaniment of sarangi.[11]


The Banjara people profess to be Hindus. They also worship gods like Balaji, Jagadamba Devi, Mahadev, Khandoba and Hanuman. They also hold Guru Nanak in great respect.[12]

Sevalal or Sevabhaya is the most important saint of the Banjaras. According to their accounts, he was born on 15 February 1739 in Sirsi, Karnataka, to Bhima Naik and Dharmini Bai, and died on 4 December 1806. A cattle merchant by profession he is said to have been a man of exemplary truthfulness, a great musician, a courageous warrior, a rationalist who fought against superstition and a devotee of the goddess Jagadamba.[13] The colonial British administrators also quote his stories but they place him in the 19th century and identify his original name as Siva Rathod.[14][full citation needed]



Banjaras can be found all over India.[15] As of 2012 there are 1.1 million Banjaras in Karnataka.[16]

The Banjara people were transporters of goods such as salt, grains, firewood and cattle. During the 19th century, the British colonial authorities brought the community under the purview of Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and thus curbed their movement.[17] The stigma attached to this continued until 1952 when the Act was abolished by the newly independent India.


The Banjara community has been listed as a Scheduled Tribe in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa;[18] as an Other Backward Class in Maharashtra;[19] and as a Scheduled Caste in Karnataka.[20]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Burman, J. J. Roy (2010). Ethnography of a Denotified Tribe: The Laman Banjara. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 15. ISBN 978-8-18324-345-2. 
  2. ^ B. G. Halbar, p.14
  3. ^ B. G. Halbar, p.20
  4. ^ Dhanasing B. Naik, p.132
  5. ^ Dhanasing B. Naik, plate.26,27
  6. ^ "Sandur Lambani embroidery gets GI tag". The Hindu. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Banjara tribe refuses to snap ties with its culture". The Hindu. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  8. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh, Tapash Kumar Ghosh, Surendra Nath. People of India: Delhi. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 94. 
  9. ^ "They Come Together to Celebrate Holi". The Hindu. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 2014-10-01. 
  10. ^ Dhanasing B.Naik, p.70
  11. ^ Dhanasing B. Naik, plate 50
  12. ^ S. G. Deogaonkar and Shailaja S. Deogaonkar, p.42
  13. ^ Naik, Lalitha (2009). Banjara Hejjegurutugalu. Bangalore: Karnataka Rajya Patragara Ilakhe. pp. 42–84. ISBN 978-8190843812. 
  14. ^ S. G. Deogaonkar and Shailaja S. Deogaonkar, p.43
  15. ^ "'Adivasis facing threat from Banjaras'". The Hindu. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2017. 
  16. ^ Gowda, Aravind (27 February 2012). "Truly the forgotten people of Karnataka". India Today. Retrieved 2014-10-02. 
  17. ^ Dr. Tanaji Rathode. "Socio-Economic Issues of Banjara Community:". Banjara Times. Banjara Times. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 
  18. ^ "Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities" (PDF). NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR DENOTIFIED, NOMADIC AND SEMI-NOMADIC TRIBES. Retrieved 18 December 2017. 
  19. ^ "CENTRAL LIST OF OBCs FOR THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA" (PDF). Govt of Maharashtra. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  20. ^ "Inclusion of Banjara language in 8th Schedule sought". The Hindu. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-01.