Bharbhunja (Hindu)

Bharbhunja Hindu
Regions with significant populations
• India • Nepal
Hinduism 100%
Related ethnic groups
Bharbhunja MuslimKandu

The Bharbhunja are a largely Hindu caste found in North India and Maharashtra. They are also known as Kalenra in Maharashtra, Mehra in Punjab and in Uttar Pradesh. A small number are also found in the Terai region of Nepal. [1][2] [3]


The Bharbhunja derive their name from the Hindi word bhunja, which means gram, and the community was involved with roasting gram. They were said to have originally belonged to the Jhinwar caste, but split off from them when they took to roasting gram. There is no intermarriage between the two communities now. The majority of the Bharbhunja are Hindu, except a section in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, who form a separate community of Muslim Bharbhunja. A small number in Punjab and Haryana . Those in Haryana and Punjab speak Punjabi.[1]

In Maharashtra, there are three distinct communities of the Bharbhunja, the Bhad Bhunjari, the Pardeshi Bhunjari and the Bhoi Bhunjari. All the three groups claim their origin from different regions, with Bhad Bhunjari claiming their origin from Gujarat, the Pardeshi from Madhya Pradesh, and the Bhoi from Rajasthan. Each of these groups is endogamous, and do not intermarry. They are also separated by language, with the Bhad Bhunjari still speaking Gujarati, while the other groups speak Marathi. The Bhad Bhunjari are now found mainly in the districts of Nasik, Pune, Thane, Ahmednagar and the city of Mumbai.[2]

Present circumstances

Like other occupational castes, the community has seen a decline in their traditional occupation. A majority of the community are now wage labourers, with a small number being petty businessmen. However, the decline in their traditional occupation has not seen a weakening of their identity. The community remains endogamous, and practices clan exogamy. Furthermore, there is no intermarriage between Sikh and Hindu Bharbhunja, and the two are now practically distinct communities.[1]

In Punjab, the Bharbhunja are also known as Mehra. They speak Punjabi, and are strictly endogamous. Like other Punjab communities, they practice gotra exogamy. Their main gotras are the Behal, Samala, Dehn, Sinhotra, Lendichuk and Memotra. The community are now largely small shop keepers, with very few still involved in grain parching.

The Maharashtra Bharbhunja are still involved in their traditional occupation of selling parched grain. A significant numbers are now businessmen, and they were one of the few artisan castes to have made the change over to modern economy fairly successfully. The Bharbhunja are strictly endogamous, and practice clan exogamy. A few of their clans are the Parmar, Powar, Parotia, Jadhav, Shinde and Chowhan, which are also used as surnames.[2]

Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, the Bhabhunja are referred to as the Bhurji. They are still involved in their traditional occupation of grain parching. Wages of the parcher is fixed in terms of the proportion of grain that is parched. They purchase the grain from agrarian castes such as the Kurmi. The Bhurji live in multi-caste villages, often occupying their own quarters. [4]

The Bhurji are strictly endogamous, and practice clan exogamy.The Bhurji are Hindu, and their tribal deities include Panchon Pir and Baram Baba. They are found throughout Uttar Pradesh, but their place is taken by the Kandu in eastern Uttar Pradesh, another caste traditionally associated with grain parching. The community speak the Khari boli dialect in the west, and Bhojpuri in the east. [5]


  1. ^ a b c People of India Hayana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 73 to 75 Manohar
  2. ^ a b c People of India Maharshtra Volume XXX Part One edited by B.V Bhanu, B.R Bhatnagar, D.K Bose, V.S Kulkarni and J Sreenath pages 280-286
  3. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 316 to 319 Manohar Publications
  4. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 316 to 319 Manohar Publications
  5. ^ People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 316 to 319 Manohar Publications
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