Bania - Religion



All Banias are Jains or Vaishnava Hindus, and both follow the life-cycle rituals prescribed by Hinduism. One of the gods they specifically worship is Ganapati, the lord of wealth and prosperity. They also revere all life and are loath to kill any animal. Their diet reflects this strict taboo, and most of them abstain from all kinds of meat and alcoholic drink. Many of them, especially the Jains among them, will also eschew onions, garlic, and other tubers, since this involves taking the life of a plant. Most of the animal asylums in India ( panjarapol ) are supported by donations from Jain Banias. Gauri, the mother of Ganapati (or Ganesh), is worshiped by a bridal couple. In Rajasthan Gauri is worshiped as the corn goddess about the time of the vernal equinox, especially by women. At Divali, in addition to Ganapati, the Banias worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. She is considered to be the deified cow, and as such is the other main source of wealth both as the mother of the bull, which is the tiller of the soil, and the giver of milk from which ghee is made. Divali is also the Beginning of the accounting year, and a ceremony venerating the new account books and invoking Lakshmi is conducted. The other important festival is Holi, when Marwaris make an image out of mud of Nathu Ram, who was supposed to be a great Marwari. The image is mocked and beaten with shoes; after two or three days it is broken up and thrown away. Mock contests between men and women and the throwing of colored powder are universal features of Holi. Banias both Jain and Hindu usually begin the day with a visit to the local temple.

The dead are as a rule cremated, and the ashes thrown into a sacred river or stream. A period of mourning is observed for an odd number of days. Professional mourners may be employed. The mourning period is followed by a feast given to local members of the caste.

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