Introduction / History
Of the five major castes in India (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra and Harijans), the Nai are a sub-caste of the Shudra. The Shudra are just above the Harijan or the Untouchable caste.
Where are they located?
The Nai are located throughout India. Large numbers are in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Each Indian region has a different name for the Nai. They are called Raja in Punjab, Kuleen in Himachal Pradesh, Khawas in Rajasthan, Sen Samaj or Napit in Haryana and Nai-Thakur or Savita Samaj in Delhi. Muslim Nai in India are called Hajjam.
What are their lives like?
The Nai are associated with the barber profession. As they did traditionally, the Nai groom clients, such as cutting hair and nails and provide minor medical services like extracting teeth and setting sprains right. They also perform duties in connection with marriage, matchmaking and celebrations. Nai women, called 'Naun', are hairdressers, henna artists and midwives. The Nai are quiet people, which is important to their trade. A large-scale occupational change is taking place with many Nai taking up other trades and professions in modern India.
The diet of the Nai usually consists of wheat, rice, lentil, maize and some seasonal fruit. For those eating meat the occasional fish, mutton or chicken and eggs are part of the menu. Beef is not eaten.
The literacy rate of the Nai is low. Many leave school due to poverty or from a lack of schools or colleges nearby.
The traditional extended family is still common. Sons inherit equal shares in the family property and the eldest succeeds as head of the family. Nai women are secondary in status to males.
A caste council (panchayat) maintains social control over the community.
What are their beliefs?
The Nai are Hindus. They give special prominence to their regional deities. The Nai believe in evil spirits who, along with local deities, are believed to cause trouble and diseases. Community exorcists-cum-witch doctors are common.
What are their needs?
The Nai need to advance economically. They need increased access to education, particularly for females. They also need accessible medical facilities.
The Nai need to know Jesus and His gospel. They need to be mentally freed from being second-class citizens due to their caste ranking. They need to know that they can repent and become the children of God, becoming part of a special nation serving God instead of man.
ReferencesView Nai (Hindu traditions) in all countries.
Among the different sources used, the ones below were used the most.