Dhobi known in some places as Dhoba[1][2] or Rajaka, Madivala is a group of community in India and the greater Indian subcontinent whose traditional occupations are washing and ironing, Cultivator, agricultural workers.[3][4][5][6][7]

धोबी (hi)
ધોબી (gu)
دھوبی (ur)
Carte-de-visite of a Dhobi ironing.
Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Muslim Dhobi

They are a large community, distributed across northern, central, western and eastern India; as well as in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.[6][8] A majority of the community associate themselves with Hinduism.[8] Many religiously follow Sant Gadge (Gadge Maharaj), whose jayanti (birth anniversary) they celebrate every 23 February.

The word dhobi is derived from the Hindi word dhona, which means 'to wash'. As such, Dhobi communities in many areas today come under the status of Schedule Caste in many status, while Other Backward Class in other states and region.[9]

In 2017, Supreme Court of India noted calling people dhobi was offensive.[10]


In mythology

Virabhadra and Daksha

There is a tradition that they are descendants of the mythological hero Virabhadra,who was ordered by Shiva to wash the clothes of all men,as an expiation of the sin of putting many people to death in Dakshas Yaga,hence the South India dhobis are frequently called virabhadran[11]



Dhobi or Dhoba,have derived the name from the Hindi word dhona which means to wash.They claim to have originated from Rajput.They are distributed all over the state.Their main concentration is in Ajmer district. They speak in Mewari and Hindi.and Devnagari script.The Dhobi are non-vegetarian,The community has twelve exogamous ataks clans Some of them are Chauhan,Marwara,Hilogia. [12]


The Dhobi of Haryana are said to have originated from Punjab and Rajasthan. They are scattered throughout the state.Like other Hindu communities,they are divided into clans called gotras. Some of the major gotras are the Chauhan, Shukravar, Rajoria, Tonwar, Panwar, Badera, Satmase, Akhasriya, Mahavar, Basvadiya and Sunaria. These clan names are also used as surnames. There main occupation remains washing of and drying of clothes. A small number of Dhobi are marginal farmers. [13]


In Maharashtra, the Dhobi are found throughout the state, and are also known as Parit.They claim to have originally belonged to the Rajput community, and in particular the Chauhan clan.The Dhobi have been listed as an Other Backward Class.They speak Marathi among themselves,and Hindi with outsiders. [14][15] The community are endogamous, and practice clan exogamy. There main clans in Maharashtra are the Abidkar, Bannolkar, Belwarkar, Chawhan, Chawlkar, Chewakar, Dhongde, Gaikwad, Ghousalkar, Harmekar, Hedulkar, Kalyankar, Kanekar, Kalatkar, Lad, Malekar, Nandgaonkar, Nane, Pawar, Pabrekar, Palkar, Purwarkar, Salekar, and Waskar. Marriage within the clan is prohibited.[16]


The Agasa a washerfolk community,are also known as Madivala, Nanjundayya and Iyer (1928) record that on the occasion of Dakshabrahma's sacrifice, Lord Siva created a ferocious person, Virabhadra,who in his anger,got his clothes bloodstained while killing Daksha and his com panions.Virabhadra appeared before Lord Shiva and thought lessly allowed his impure garments to come in contact with the god.[17]

Uttar Pradesh

Perhaps the largest concentration of Dhobis is found in Uttar Pradesh. They have been granted scheduled caste status.The community is strictly endogamous,and practice clan exogamy.Their main clans, known as gotras,are the Ayodhiabasi, Mathur, Srivash, Belwar and Jaiswar.Belwar, practice hypergamy, with clans of lower status giving girls in marriage to those of higher status,but not receiving girls.They are used titles like Kanaujia[18][19][20]Diwakar, Bharti, Choudhary etc.They speak the various dialects of Hindi, such as Khari boli and Awadhi[21]

The Dhobi are still involved in their traditional occupation, which is washing clothes. Traditionally, the community would wash clothes for particular families, and would receive grain and services from them. But with the growth of the cash economy, most Dhobi are now paid money for their services. A significant number of Dhobis are cultivators, and this particularly so in western Uttar Pradesh. They live in multi-caste villages, but occupy their own distinct quarters. Each of their settlement contains an informal caste council, known as a biradari panchayat. The panchayat acts as instrument of social control, dealing with issues such as divorce and adultery.[22]

Andhra pradhesh

Rajaka Community Rajaka community has two dependant sub-castes,namely Patamuvaru and Ganjikutivaru.They are also called Patamollu,Patamchakallu or Arogya Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh. They recite Rajaka Puranam which is also called Basavapuranam or Basava Vijayamu with the help of Coprtad at 96 Art and Culture of Marginalised Nomadic Tribes in Andhra.a Patam in which they trace the origin and evolution of the Rajaka community. There is a legend regarding the origin of Patamuvaru.According to it,Virabhadra who was sent to destroy Daksha Yajna by Lord Shiva,was supposed to have committed a grave sin by the destruction of Yajna which was equal to that of killing of gods.Siva though admired Virabhadra for his valour and achievement,ordered him to wash the clothes of gods to propitiate his sin.Virabhadra went to Swarnakamala sarasu and he was very much disturbed how to do this job. While he was worrying about the ignominy of such act, two drops of his sweat fell on two Kamalams (lotus flowers) in the lake. One such drop emerged as Madivala Machideva who was ordered to wash the clothes of gods.After completing the job, he approached Virabhadra and prayed him to show him the source for his livelihood.Virabhadra asked him to go to Bhuloka and wash the clothes of men and thus earn his livelihood. His progeny came to be known as Rajakas. Another person who emerged from the drop of sweat of Virabhdra from another lotus flower refused to wash the clothes.He was cursed by Virabhadra to depend on the Rajakas for the livelihood.Thus a dependant caste of Patamuvaru came into being5 The story of Madivelu Machaiah is also described in Basavapuranam.We also find Machaiah katha in the folk songs of Karnataka.The Rajakas worship Madivelu Machaiah as an incarnation of Virabhadra.Patamuvaru visit their Mirasi villages once in three years to recite Rajaka Puranam and Gotras of Rajakas.In the Rajaka Puranam they narrate Madivelu Machaiah's origin,family and the war between Madivelu Machaiah and Bijala Raju[23]

Tamil Nadu

Vannar belongs to the Valangai ("Right-hand caste faction").Some of The Valangai comprised castes with an agricultural basis while the Idangai consisted of castes involved in manufacturing,Valangai,which was better organised politically [24]

"Kayvanaval Allitharum and the tiger flag were hoisted
were Identified"

-Right hand history

[25] About Tamil Vannar and Vaduka Vannar As told in the histories of Bharatavarsha

"with curved
lotus garland
white elephant"

- Inhabitants of india


In the Tirunelveli region,Thai deities (female deities) are worshiped in large numbers and are worshiped with a pedestal or trident.in states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,Vannars are still the priests of the Mariamman temple[27][28]


Kerala Dhobis can be called mannan or vannan, at the Pooram festival in Kerala,the goddess is usually seen wearing a white robe with a large handle in red green orange black white colours

In India, the largest Dasara festival is held in October in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu during the month of October, the honorable sword given at Dasara is given to the vannan only

Mannan are also the priests of the Bhagavati Amman temple[29]

Dandu army clan

Dandu Agasa indicating army washerman occurs as a name for some Maratha Dhobis in Mysore,whose forefathers probably accompanied armies in times of War.[30]


State/Territory Known as Description Status[31]
Andhra Pradesh Rajaka In Andhra Pradesh, the Rajakas do farming and agriculture, as well as washing, and ironing. However, there are many Rajakas in all sectors, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists, social services, IT, and politicians.[32] OBC
Assam Dhupi In 2001, Assam's Dhupi population was at 49,929, accounting for 2.7% of the total Scheduled Class (SC) population.[33] A high of 27.9% of this population was urban. The literacy rate among this group was 76%, above both the state figure (66.8%) and the aggregated national figure (54.7%) for SCs. SC
Bihar The Dhobi community in Bihar makes up around 18% of the state's total population, with maximum concentration in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Siwan, Purnia and East Champaran districts, respectively. Bihar's Dhobi community is included in Scheduled Caste from OBC Status due to socioeconomically low. Now, they are in all sectors, but mainly as government employers, doctors, IT engineers, social service, agriculture, farming and politicians. Among the numerically larger castes of SC, Dhobi have registered the highest overall literacy rate.[34] SC
Jharkhand SC
Madhya Pradesh In Madhya Pradesh, Dhobi are a Scheduled Class in the districts of Bhopal, Raisen, and Sehore.[31] SC and OBC elsewhere
Manipur Dhupi SC
Meghalaya Dhupi SC
Mizoram Dhupi SC
Odisha Dhoba, Dhobi, Rajak, Rajaka Odisha has a significant population of Dhobi people in its coastal belt, i.e. eastern Odisha (Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Ganjam) and a smaller population in its central and western areas. They are included in Scheduled Caste list of Odisha.[35] SC
Rajasthan SC
Tripura Dhoba SC
Uttar Pradesh[36] Diwakar, Rajak The Dhobi population in the state has been classified as SC. SC
Uttarakhand SC
Delhi SC

Notable peoples

  • Chintamoni Dhoba: Ruler of Dhalbhum region and established capital at Ambikanagar.
  • Gadge Maharaj: Marathi Hindu saint.

See also


  1. Amritha Mondal, ed. (6 April 2021). Owning Land,Being Women Inheritance and Subjecthood in India. Bibiliographic publication. ISBN 9783110690361.
  2. K.A.Gait, ed. (1902). Census of India,1911 Volume 6 Part. Bengal Sectriyat Press. p. 503.
  3. R.V.Russell (ed.). The tribes and Castes of the central provinces of india volume 2 of 4. pp. 515–519.
  4. R N Hadimani, ed. (1984). The politics of poverty. Ashish Publication. p. 184. ISBN 9780391032644.
  5. Ranabir samaddar, ed. (11 April 2009). State of Justice in India. Sage publication. p. 55. ISBN 9788132104193.
  6. "Dhobi". People Groups of India. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  7. Channa, Subhadra Mitra. 1991. "Caste, 'Jati' and Enthnicity [sic]—Some Reflections Based on a Case Study of the Dhobis." Indian Anthropologist 21(2):39-55. JSTOR 41919653.
  8. "Dhobi (Hindu traditions) in India". Joshua Project. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  9. S.C.Bhatt,K.Bhargava, ed. (2005). Land and People in 36 volume. Kalpaz Publication. p. 43. ISBN 8178353563.
  10. "Calling People 'Harijan' or 'Dhobi' Is Offensive: Supreme Court". 26 March 2017.
  11. nagendra KR.Singh, ed. (2006). South Indian Ethnography,Volume one. Global vision publication. pp. 15–19. ISBN 8182201683.
  12. K.S.Singh, ed. (1998). people of india Rajasthan. Anthropological Survey of India by Manohar Publishers. pp. 336–338. ISBN 9788171547661.
  13. k.S.Singh,Madan Lal Sharma, ed. (1994). Peoples of India Haryana. Anthropological Survey of India by Manohar Publishers. pp. 149–154. ISBN 9788173040917.
  14. kumar suresh singh, ed. (2004). People of India Maharashtra. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 523. ISBN 9788179911006.
  15. Suresh Kokate, ed. (7 March 2007). The Social and the Symbolic. SAGE Publication. pp. 295–310. ISBN 9788132101178. Sathiriya Maratiya Parit
  16. People of India Maharshtra Volume XXX Part One edited by B.V Bhanu, B.R Bhatnagar, D.K Bose, V.S Kulkarni and J Sreenath pages 523-528
  17. K.S.Singh, ed. (2003). Part of India Karnataga. East West Press. pp. 177–183. ISBN 9788185938981.
  18. H.A.Rose, ed. (1997). People of the India UttarPradesh Volume two. mehra offset press. p. 289. ISBN 8185297711.
  19. ckford Luard, ed. (1901). Census of India volume -B. NawalKishore publication. p. 229.
  20. K.C.Das, ed. (2007). Global Encyclopaedia of the North Indian Dalits Ethnography volume one. Glopal Vision. p. 241. ISBN 978-8182202399.
  21. People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part One edited by A Hasan & J C Das pages 446 to 451 Manohar Publications
  22. k.C.Das, ed. (2007). North Indian Ethnography. Glopal Vision. p. 240. ISBN 9788182202382.
  23. Sadanandhan, ed. (2008). Art and culture of marginalished Nomadic Tribes. Gyan Publication House. pp. 95–97. ISBN 978-8121209588.
  24. "Ān̲antaraṅkar nāṭkur̲ippu: āyvu". Tamil̲iyal Tur̲ai, Putuvaip Palkalaik Kal̲akam. 4 October 1991 via Google Books.
  25. Soundarapandian, ed. (1995). Right hand history. Department of Archeology. p. 108.
  26. Gustav oppert, ed. (1894). On The Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsha or india. cornell university library. p. 64.
  27. Sivamathi, ed. (2006). Spiritual repository. Sura Publication. p. 244. ISBN 9788174789440. The fiery goddess became known as Draupadi Amman
  28. Ganapathy Raman, ed. (1986). Worship of idols in Tirunelveli. Thirumagal Publication. p. 113.
  29. Edger Thurston, ed. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Madras Government press. pp. 315–320. Venkudai Festival and Kulasai dasara Festival
  30. "Castes and Tribes of Southern India Dandu Clan". Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  31. http://socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/Compendium-2016.pdf
  32. "National Commission for Backward Classes" (PDF). ncbc.nic.in.
  33. "Assam – Data Highlights: The Scheduled Castes." 2001 Census of India. 2001.
  34. http://censusindia.gov.in/Tables_Published/SCST/dh_sc_bihar.pdf
  35. http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1766850/
  36. "central list of OBCs Uttar Pradesh". National Commission for Backward Classes, India.
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