Introduction / History
As documented in British India Gazetteers and surveys and hearsay they are like many population groups of Bengal who were made outcast during the Sen Dynasty due to their defiant nature and hunted to southern swamps till the Europeans came and they started migrating to the middle part of Bengal. The caste apartheid which ostracized them also to some extent protected them from mixing. However nowadays they are more or less accepted, particularly among uprooted Bengali Hindu settlements.
Where Are they Located?
They identified themselves by their mythical clan Rishi Buddhas. The major clan is identified after Rishi-Buddhah Kashyap. Mythologically they have the gotra name Kashyapa and follow the rituals of Hindu Sanatan according to the Kashyap gotra name.
They were named Namsudra during British Regime and the use of the sanction term "Chandala" was restricted by an Official Order of British-India Government. Now the community has gained acknowledgement by the name "Namassej" after the Namas Rishi, son of the great clan Rishi Buddha Kashyapa. All other clans like Goutam, Lomasha, Sandilya and Bhardwaj have adopted the rituals of the Kashyapa clan. The community is Namassej Jati now and follows the Avarna Sanatan Matua path. They are ideologically also influenced by Reverend Mead and other missionaries. The discourse "Namassejsantokotha" highlights the influences of different spiritual ideologies.
They are found all over West Bengal, northeast Indian states and to some extent all over India. But very few are found in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Naru and in Bangladesh.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Their cultural life is very much like an average Bengali. They are hard-working, very lively, enthusiastic and conscious of their own identity. They were also very honest but after the division of India there has been great deterioration. Their economic condition is very bad. Average literacy is observed among them. The number of people with higher education has not been high. They are engaged in all kinds of professions but those living in villages are engaged in agriculture. A very small number of their population is doing government and private jobs.
What Are Their Beliefs?
They believe in traditional Hinduism. But their community reformation started with one religious leader who believed in Monist Hinduism. His son and other descendants took charge of his unfinished work.
What Are Their Needs?
Their basic need is for economic restoration and socio-political rehabilitation. After the division of British India this community has mainly become uprooted refugees. A large section of this community is living below poverty line, lacking all kinds of infrastructural facilities. They need economic boosting, jobs, better accommodations and better social acceptance.
* Scripture Prayers for the Namassej (Hindu traditions) in Nepal.