The Kumhar Caste: Background information when reading The Earthspinner

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The Earthspinner

A Novel

by Anuradha Roy

The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy X
The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy
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  • Published:
    Jul 2022, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tasneem Pocketwala
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The Kumhar Caste

This article relates to The Earthspinner

Bronze sculpture of a Kumhar man making potteryIn Anuradha Roy's The Earthspinner, one of the central characters is Elango, who, despite his college education, chooses to practice pottery like his ancestors. Elango belongs to the caste of potters known by various names including Kumhar, Kumbhar, Moolye, Odari and Kulal. As per India's caste system, since Elango was born into this community, it is socially unacceptable for him to do anything other than practice pottery.

The caste system in India is a form of organizing society with ancient origins, wherein Hindus are divided mainly into four castes: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra, in descending order of hierarchy. These are then divided into thousands of subgroups and subcastes. A fifth caste lying outside this system is made up of the former "untouchables," who now call themselves Dalits. Determined by birth and inescapable thenceforth, caste forms the backbone of Hindu cultural life, seeping through every aspect of people's religious and social existence. It dictates ...

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