Total population
Regions with significant populations
 India   Nepal Bangladesh
Hinduism 100% •

The Dhanuk are an ethnic group found in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. In India, the Dhanuk are found in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They have been granted Backward Caste status.[2] In Nepal, they are settled in the Terai districts of Saptari, Siraha and Dhanusa. They are either Kshetris or a minority indigenous people. The Dhanuks of eastern Terai are also known as Mandal. The Dhanuk is also known as Jaswal Kurmi. The Dhanuk in both countries are Hindu, and speak various dialects of Hindi, such as Bhojpuri and Awadhi. According to tradition, the community gets its name from the Sanskrit word dhanushka, meaning a bowman.[3]

In India

The Dhanuk (Dhanak) are strictly endogamous, and practice clan exogamy. Their main clans are the Dhankar, Dholbaja, Kratheriya, Khakarpuria, khanagwal, Laungvasta, and Supabandha. All these sub-groups are not of equal status, and there is hierarchy on the basis of their respective occupations. A small number of the Dhanuk are a now petty landowners. Because of their switching to petty works for livelihood they are treated as Dalits. As a Dalit community, they face social discrimination whose settlements are found at the edge of villages. The Dhanuk have been granted Backward Caste status in India, and have started to benefit from the affirmative action policies of the Indian government.[4]

The Dhanuk speak various dialects of Hindi.[5]

The Dhanuk of Haryana

The Dhanak of Haryana & Delhi are a community of weavers, also known as Kabirpanthi Pandit. They have been granted Scheduled Caste status, and are found throughout the state. They now speak Haryana, and are said to have immigrated from Awadh. The community consists of a number of clans, and practices clan exogamy. Their main clans include the Khangwals,Duggal Kirar, Nugaria (Nagar), Ninania, Khetak, Pacherwal, Kerar, Katheria, Mundadiya, Ladwal, Morwal, Mahore, Rangbhaa, Bagadi, Suralia,Frand, Solia (Solanki), Bharor, Atkan, Gorraiya, Bumra, Siyan, Kataria and Indora. The Dhanak are a landless community, with many employed in their traditional occupation of weaving. Most live in multi-caste villages, occupying their own distinct quarters. Each settlement contains a traditional caste council known as a biradari panchayat. This acts as an instrument of social control, as well as acting as an informal welfare association.[6] They are known as very hard worker in every filed.

'The Dhanak of Delhi*

Family of Dhanak also residing in Delhi villages and cities. By profession they were also involved in weaving work and known as scheduled cast by economy status. (By Khangwal Qutabgarh).

In Nepal

Different types/groups of Dhanuk live in Nepal. They are settled all over the country from Eastern Terai to Western hills. Among them, the Dhanuks of hilly region in Far-Western are considered as a Kshetris, who were believed to have originated from Bhatt Brahmin of Doti Rajya, Ugratara temple. One brother of Brahman was believed to have been given titled Kshetri by Kalu Shahi the king of Doti Rajya at that time as he protected the king from Muslims who attacked the Doti kingdom. It is also believed that that Brahmin used his tantrik knowledge and bravery to protect his religion and kingdom. These people have a history of about 200 years being called Dhanuk. The people of this group follow the rituals like other Kshetris of that area.

There are Dhanuk called mandal or Rajvansi living in the Eastern part of Nepal. They are also mainly Hindu but perform different rituals. The rites of birth, death and marriage are performed by giving due importance like other tribes. The pregnant woman is kept in a separate home to arrange assistance from a dagrin (midwife) of the same caste. The baby is caused to cry as soon as it is born. The ghosts are driven away by putting the branches of jujube and discarded shoes in the main gate of the house. The baby is given the milk of a she-goat to drink. Chhaiti is done in six days and Barahi in twelve days. In Barahi, worships and festivities are arranged.

Dhanuks do not marry within the clan nor do they have the practice of cross-cousin marriage. In most of the cases, the parents seek the girl or the boy. Due to the influence of neighbours they also have the system of dowry.

When a Dhanuk dies, the corpse is cremated if the deceased is above 12 years of age and is buried if her or she is below 12 years.

The houses of Dhanuks are plastered with mud and pictures are drawn of mud too. Women go outside for work but a male member remains the head of the family. Lots of feasts are organized on various occasions. Some Dhanuks never drink spirit and jaand but Dhanuks in general have the practice of drinking raksi or spirit.

The houses of Dhanuks are built in clusters in the river basins and edges of forests. They like to settle in river basins. A group of ten or eleven households makes a bindar committee and five bindars constitute a praganna. The chief of a praganna is called maijan. There is one post, called chaurasi, above him. These institutions manage tribal reconciliation and settlement of disputes. Those who do not abide by rules are expelled from the ethnic group. Mandal is their thars (clans).

Since they dwell in the river basins and the edges of forests, their main occupations are fishing and animal husbandry. Some of the Dhanuks are big landowners, but the Dhanuks who belong to the group of minority nationality are absolutely landless. They earn their livelihood by working as agricultural labourers and household servants.


In some places Brahmins are appointed as priests while in other places they use Dhanuk priests. The Dhanuk caste believes in magic, witchcraft and ghosts. They are divided into two religious groups: those who worship Kali are called Kaliyaha and others are called Maharkhiya. Those who worship Kali eat meat and drink spirit or wine, whereas Maharkhiyas do not do so. They worship a goddess called Gahil, who is one of five sisters. The other goddesses are Shitalmata and Goureya Gaiya. The main occupation of Dhanuks is working for big zamindars (landowners) and farming.


The Dhanuks live all across India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In Nepal, they are scattered from Morang in the east to the Terai in the west. But the Dhanuk are also found in Saptari, Siraha and Dhanusa in the east. Their main area of settlement stretches from Saptari to Dhanusa in the plain inner valley south of the Churia hills. It is hard to tell the population of minority nationality of Dhanuks in Nepal. In India, they are found in a wide region stretching from Haryana to Bihar.


In Nepal, their language is Maithali . They are influenced by Hindu religion and the Indian culture across the border.

In India, the Dhanuk of north Bihar speak Maithili, while those of eastern Uttar Pradesh speak Awadhi. Jharkhand speak Santhali. http://www.joshuaproject.net/people-profile.php?peo3=16696&rog3=IN

Notable Persons


  1. http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php
  2. People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das page 433
  3. A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab by H. A Rose Volume I
  4. People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 432 to 437
  5. People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 432 to 437
  6. People of India Haryana Volume XXIII edited by M.L Sharma and A.K Bhatia pages 142 to 148 Manohar

External links

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