The origins of Baniya Community


The Baniya community is a significant trading community that originated 5000 years ago when an ancient king Maharaja Agrasen, of Agroha, Haryana, divided the Vaishya (third in the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system) community into eighteen clans. The word Baniya is a generic term derived from the Sanskrit word vanij meaning trader or merchant. Their surnames include Agarwal, Gupta, Mahajan, Lala, Seth, Vaish, Sahukar, and Sahu.

According to the Hindu caste system, the Baniya community is vaishyas, who are third in the hierarchy below the kshatriyas and brahmins, but higher than the other castes. The baniyas converse in Hindi amongst themselves, along with the regional language of the states they live in.

The Baniya community numbers around twenty-five million in population and live in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Orissa, Chandigarh, Assam, and Tamil Nadu.

The Baniya community is comprised mostly of traders, who deal in commodities like grain, groceries, and spices and were also known to work as shopkeepers, money lenders, and grocers. They have a fearsome reputation of being intelligent and smart.

The Baniya is strictly vegetarians, and their diet consists of rice, wheat, maize, lentils, vegetables, pulses, fruit, and dairy products.

Both boys and girls are pushed to study more and attain a good education. Hence, the literacy level is high.

The Baniya are endogamous at an intimate community level, but exogamous at the clan level, although this is changing at a rapid rate. The Baniya community is monogamous, and marriages are arranged by parents and elders of the bride and groom. Earlier, child marriages were prevalent, but that has also changed. It is a prerequisite to give a large dowry in both cash and jewelry. Divorce is socially frowned upon, but it does rarely occur. Remarriage is allowed and is becoming increasingly acceptable for widows everywhere, except in Karnataka. 

Having a joint family is common in the Baniya community, though smaller nuclear families also exist. Inheritance is strictly patrilineal; all potential male heirs inherit an equal share of the ancestral property, and the eldest male offspring succeeds the father as the head of the family, while the daughters usually do not inherit anything. Baniya families are known for their fervent loyalty towards the Baniya community, helping their fellow baniya out socially, and financially when needed. In case, if you are looking for Baniya Matrimony, you must get in touch with matrimonial services in India. 

Baniya women have comparatively low status and are usually found as homemakers, though some help their husbands with the family business. The women are generally allowed to take part only in the social and religious functions of the family.

The Baniya elect a caste council by a vocal vote or a secret ballot. These councils promote welfare, provide financial assistance, handle family disputes, and honor and felicitate members of the Baniya community. 

Baniya Matrimony is a very wealthy and influential community. They practically control the economy of the country, and a majority of the country’s leading industrialists belong to the Baniya community.

The majority of Baniya are Hindu, while a small minority are followers of Jainism. Among the baniya, there are also a few Sikhs in Punjab and Haryana.

The Hindu Baniya worship all the main Hindu gods and goddesses. These deities are very prominently displayed and prayed in their places of work and homes. On the festival of Deepawali, the Baniya open new ledgers after closing their old account books, which they adorn with and dedicated to Ganesh, with an invocation to him on the front page. A silver or gold rupee is honoured as an emblem of Lakshmi.

The Baniya celebrate all the major Hindu festivals, like Deepawali, Holi, Dussehra, Ramnavmi, Janmashtami, Maha Shivaratri, and many others. The Baniya love to partake in gambling on the eve of Deepawali as a ritual for good luck and fortune. The Jain Baniya celebrates Mahavir Jayanti, while the Sikh Bania celebrates the Guruparbs, and the spring harvest festivals like Baisakhi, and Lohri.

The Baniya cremate their dead, and their ashes of the dead are immersed in a holy river, preferably the sacred Ganges at Haridwar. All religious rituals for births, marriages, and deaths are performed by Brahmin priests. Specific periods of birth and death ceremonies are observed and conducted accordingly. The main centers of pilgrimage are Haridwar, Allahabad, Varanasi, Badrinath, and Gangotri.

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