Introduction / History The Halwai of India are a caste of sweet makers and confectioners. The name Halwai comes from the Hindi word Halwa which is a sweet. The Halwai are called Mithaiha in Madya Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh as well as being called Halwai, they are called Yogyaseni, Modanwal and Gupta. In Punjab they are called Kamboj and Arora. In West Bengal, they are called Mayara and in Orissa by the name Guria. There are many of them living in the east regions of Barabanki and Bahraich of Uttar Pradesh.
The Halwai in Madya Pradesh migrated from Rajasthan and Gujarat many years ago in olden times. They are looked at with respect. Because of the importance sweets have in religion and socially, they have a special position in festivals and childbirths and marriages.
The Halwai of Uttar Pradesh and Madya Pradesh speak Hindi. In Bihar they speak Maithili and Hindi as well. In most states they read and write in Devanagari. They speak Oriya in Orissa and Bengali in West Bengal.
What are their lives like? Sweet shops of the Halwai are in the towns and bazaars in north India. Some of the Halwai do government and private work. Some work in agriculture. and there are a few doctors and engineers. They are mainly vegetarians, eating wheat and rice, fruit and vegetables. In Bihar, the Halwai eat chicken and mutton but not beef. They like milk and dairy produce but not alcohol. They educate both boys and girls and they do family planning as well as using modern medicines.
The Halwai are endogamous, which means they do not marry outside of the group. They believe in monogamy. Divorce is permitted and divorcees and the bereaved can marry again. They use a dowry. Property is equally given to the sons. The oldest son becomes the main one in the home. Younger men often move away to begin a business.
Most of the Halwai are comfortable financially and some are wealthy particularly in the cities and towns. (They need to realize that wealth is temporary but Salvation through Jesus Christ is permanent).
What are their beliefs? The Halwai are mainly Hindu and worship all the main Hindu gods such as Shiva, Rama and Krishna. A Brahmin priest does birth, marriage and death ceremonies. The dead are cremated and the ashes immersed in a river with the Ganges being the favorite. Post delivery child birth pollution and death pollution are observed for a given period of time.
The Halwai celebrate all the main Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali. They do pilgrimages to certain places.