UNVEILING JOLAHA: INSIGHTS INTO THE POLLUTION CHALLENGES FACED BY A MUSLIM CASTE
Abstract : This study will elucidate the characteristics of the caste system prevalent among the Muslims of Bangladesh, specifically focusing on the Jolaha community. The data for this research was gathered using the anthropological technique of participant observation in a hamlet in Bangladesh where the Jolaha, a dominant occupational group, resides. The weavers of South Asia are categorised into two categories based on their religious beliefs. Tanti is the name used to designate to Hindu weavers, whereas Muslim weavers are known as Jolha, Jolaha, Julaa, and so on. However, one common characteristic between them is that they both belong to the bottom echelons of our hierarchical South Asian society. Regarding the Jolahas, there is strong evidence to suggest that they were members of a marginalised Hindu caste known as Tanti, who collectively converted to the Islamic faith. However, after their religious conversion, the Jolahas continue to be regarded as a socially disadvantaged occupational caste. They are seen as tainted and stigmatised by Muslims in general because to their inherited profession. The contemporary perception of the Jolaha occupation no longer deems it as unclean. There has been a certain degree of shift in the pattern of movement in recent years. However, it is regrettable that even after many generations, people continue to identify them as Jolaha despite their mobility. The non-Jolaha Muslims see them as individuals belonging to inferior castes. Keywords: Caste system, Jolaha community, Anthropological research, Occupational groups, South Asian weavers, Tanti (Hindu weavers), Jolha, Jolaha, Julaa (Muslim weavers), Social hierarchy, Marginalized Hindu caste, Stigmatization, Occupational caste, Social mobility, Identity, Inferior castes.
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Conclusion: The vocation of Jolaha is undeniably a highly specialised profession. The Jolahas of Arshi have inherited and honed this occupation over several generations, specialising in it. Nevertheless, this does not indicate that they are bound by any religious or societal regulations that prohibit them from abandoning their traditional occupation. The Jolahas of Arshi often switch professions in order to address their economic needs. Not only the Jolahas, but even the Grihasthas, who are commoners in the villages, are changing their career to weaving without experiencing a decline in their social position. Within the Hindu caste system, the attribute of "repulsion" is determined by the concept of purity and impurity. However, the Jolahas of Arshi do not completely embrace this concept, at least in the current era. Regarding the marriage relationship, non-Jolaha Muslims strongly oppose the inclusion of Jolaha individuals. Regardless of the amicable ties that other Muslims may have with the Jolahas, and regardless of their equal treatment at social events, a Muslim who is not from the Jolaha community always contemplates extensively before engaging in marital relations with a Jolaha family.