Nuts or Bazugurs
Nuts Or Bazugurs is the name of a class of Gypsies who dwell in Hindostan. A late intelligent writer has, with much plausibility, endeavored to trace from' them: the origin of the Gypsies of the West. They are both wandering tribes, and have each a language understood only by themselves; live principally by fortune-telling (by palmistry and other means), and are alike addicted to thieving. The Gypsies are governed by their king; the Nuts by their nadarl butah. They appear to be equally indifferent on the subject of religion, and in no respect particular in. their food, or the manner in which it is obtained. According to a list furnished by captain Richardson, the languages adopted by these people would appear to possess a very strong affinity to each other. "The Bazugurs are subdivided into seven castes, viz. the Cham, Athbia, Bynsa, Purbutte, Kalkur, Dorkinfi, and Gungwar; but the difference seems only in name, for they live together and intermarry as one people. They say they are descended from four brothers of the same family. They profess to be Mussulmans; that is, they undergo circumcision; and at their weddings and burials a gari and mollah attend to read the service; thus far, and no further, are they Mussulmans. Of the Prophet they seem to have little knowledge; and though in the creed, which some of them can indistinctly recollect, they repeat his titles, yet, when questioned on the subject, they can give no further account of him than that he was a saint or pir. They acknowledge a God, and in all their hopes and fears address him, except when such addresses might be supposed to interfere with Sansyn's department a famous musician, who flourished, believe, in the time of Akbar, and whom they consider as their tutelary deity; consequently they look up: to him for success and safety in all their professional exploits. These consist of playing on various instruments, singing, dancing, tumbling, etc. The two latter -accomplishments are peculiar to the women of this sect. The notions of religion and a future state among this vagrant race are principally derived from: their songs, which are. beautifully simple. They are. commonly, the production of Kubier, a poet of great fame, and who, considering the nature of his poems, deserves to be better known. He was a weaver by: trade, and flourished in the time of Shir Shah, the Cromwell of Indian history. There are, however, various and contradictory traditions relative to our humble philosopher, as some accounts bring him down to the time of Akbar. All, however, agree as to his being a Supu, or Deist, of the most exalted sentiments and of the most unbounded benevolence. He reprobated with severity the religious intolerance and worship of both Hindus and Mussulmans, in such a pleasing poetic strain of rustic wit, humor, and sound reasoning, that to this day both nations contend for the honor of his birth in their respective sects or tribes. He published a book of poems that are still universally esteemed, as they inculcate the purest morality and the greatest good-will and hospitality to all the children of man. From the disinterested yet alluring doctrines they contain, a sect has sprung up in Hindostan under the name of Kubierpunt- hi, who are so universally esteemed for veracity and other virtues, among both Hindus and Mussulmans, that they may be with propriety considered the Quakers of that hemisphere. They resemble that respectable body in the neatness of their dress and simplicity of their manners, which are neither strictly Mohammedan nor Hinda, being rather a mixture of the best parts of both. The Bazugurs conceive that one spirit pervades all nature; and that their soul, being a particle of that universal spirit, will of course rejoin it when released from its corporeal shackles. At all their feasts — which are as frequent as their means will admit — men, women, and children drink to excess. Liquor with them is the summum bonum of life; every crime may be expiated by plentiful libations of strong drink. Though professing Islamism, they employ a Brahman, who is supposed to be an adept in astrology, to fix upon a name for their children. whom they permit to remain at the breast till five or six years of age. It is no uncommon thing to see four or five miserable infants clinging round their mother, and struggling for their scanty portion of nourishment, the whole of which, if we might judge from the appearance of the woman, would hardly suffice for one. This practice, with the violent exercise which they are taught in their youth, and the excessive and habitual indulgence in drinking intoxicating liquors, must greatly curtail the lives of these wretched females. Their marriages are generally deferred to a later period than is usual in their climate, in consequence of a daughter being considered as productive property to the parents by her professional abilities. The girls, who are merely taught to dance and sing, like the common Sheh or Nautch girls of Hindostan, have no restrictions on their moral conduct as females; but the' chastity of those damsels whose peculiar department is tumbling is strictly enjoined, until their stations can be supplied by younger ones trained up in the same line; and when these come forward, the older performers are permitted to join the men dancers, and from among them the men, though aware or at least suspicious of their incontinence, select a wife. After the matrimonial ceremony is over, they no longer exhibit as public dancers. A total change of conduct is now looked for, and generally, I believe, ensues. To reconcile this in some manner to. our belief, it may be necessary to mention that, contrary to the prevailing practice in India, the lady is allowed the privilege of judging for herself, nor are any preparations for the marriage thought of till her assent has been given, in cases where no previous choice has been made. There are in and about the environs of Calcutta five sets of these people, each consisting of from twenty to thirty, exclusive of children. There is a surdur to each set, one of whom is considered as the chief, or nadar butah, at this station. The people of each set are, like, our actors, hired by the surdur or manager of a company for a certain period, generally one year, after which they are at liberty to join any other party. No person can establish a set without the sanction of the nadar bftadh, who, I believe, receives a chut (tribute or small portion) of the profits, besides a tax of two rupees, which is levied on the girls of each set as often as they may have attracted the notice of persons not of their own caste. This, from their mode of life, must be a tolerably productive duty. When the parties return from their excursions, this money is paid to the nadar butah, who convenes his people, and they continue eating and drinking till the whole is expended. When any of the surdurs are suspected of giving in an unfair statement of their profits, a punchaet is assembled, before whom the supposed culprit is ordered to undergo a fiery ordeal, by applying his tongue to a piece of red-hot iron; if it burns him, he is declared guilty. A fine, always consisting of liquor, is imposed. If the liquor be not "immediately produced, the delinquent is banished from their society, hooted and execrated wherever he comes; his very wife and children avoid him. Thus oppressed, he soon becomes a suppliant to the nadar bdutah. Some of the women of the Bazugurs are, I have heard, extremely handsome, and esteemed as courtesans in the East accordingly; though I must confess I have not seen any who, in my opinion, came under that description as to personal charms."