Introduction / History The Kharia (Lewa Kunbi) people live in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. They have gotras such as Shendilya, Kashyap and Bharadwaj. They are known as Lewa Patil.
They speak the Marathi and Telegu languages and use the Devanagari script. A few of them also speak Hindi. The incidence of colour-blindness is reported in 5 percent of the Kharia population.
The Kharia men are non-vegetarian but their women are vegetarian. Jowar is their staple cereal and they eat rice occasionally. The economy of the Lewa Kunbi is mainly based on agriculture. They either cultivate their own land or work for others on a share-cropping basis. They participate in the local weekly markets. The problem of alcoholism is prevalent among the men.
The Kharia generally follow monogamy. The women contribute to the family economy as wage earners and take part in socio-religious activities. In a marriage a series of rituals are performed simultaneously at the bride and groom's residences. Marriage rituals include the thread wearing ceremony, the exchange of garlands and circumambulating the sacred fire seven times.
The Kharia have an association, which looks after the socio-economic development of the community. They cremate the dead and observe death pollution for ten days.
The Kharia worship both family and village deities. The Brahmin officiates as a priest at their rituals. Their traditional customs prevent them from exchanging water and cooked food with certain communities, such as, the Bhangi, Chamar and Mahar. Ancestor worship is also prevalent among them. Diwali is the main festival celebrated by the Lewa Kunbi.
Prayer Points * For the salvation of the Kharia people and that God may send several Christian workers to work among them and meet their spiritual and physical needs.
* That the LKharia people may be freed from alcoholism, ancestors' worship, colour-blindness and be able to accept all the communities without caste prejudice.