The Pinjara (Rajasthani: पिंजरा پِنجارہ ) (Kannada:ಪಿಂಜಾರ ) are community found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in India. They are also known as Mansoori, especially in Gujarat, where the name Pinjara is no longer used. The Pinjara is the traditional cotton carder of Central India, just like the Behna are the traditional cotton carders of North India.
The community gets its name from the word pinjna, which means ginning in the Hindi language. Some traditions make the community of Rajputs extraction. In Maharashtra, the Pinjara have two subdivisions, the Teli Pinjara and the Ghatore. The Teli Pinjara get their name from the fact that the community took to oil pressing, an occupation associated with the Teli community. While the Ghatore are said to get their name from the Ghat area of Chhindwara District in Madhya Pradesh, where the community are said to have originated. While in Madhya Pradesh, where the community is found mainly in Nimar, and Sagar districts. They are further divided into a number of clans known as biradaris, the main ones being the Badharia, Sarsutia and Pardesi. Pinjara's origin seemed a complex issue.
In Rajasthan, the Pinjara are found mainly in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Alwar, Bikaner Jhalawar, Kota districts. They speak a variety of Rajasthani, and have a working knowledge of Urdu. The community are divided into two major exogamous groups, the Baone and Terpane, the former is further divided into fifty two clans, and the latter is divided into fifty three clans. Some of their major clans are the Sherani, Asan, Galhot, Bhati, Chauhan, Aravalli, Tak, Aguan, Khokhar, Ajmeria, Bhulta, Bahaleem, Chitta and Multani. These clans are exogamous in nature... The main situated area of clan sherani's is a town "kanore" near Udaipur. In Maharashtra, the community is found mainly in the districts of Bhandara, Nagpur, Amravati and Wardha. They speak Marathi, although most also speak Dakhani. Unlike the Rajasthan Pinjara, the Maharashtra Pinjara do not practice clan exogamy.
In Rajasthan, the Pinjara are a landless community, and live by cotton ginning and making quilt and pillows. The Pinjara purchase cotton from the villages in their neighbourhood. They also started selling quilts in the local towns. A small minority of the Pinjara are now cultivators.
In Maharashtra, the Pinjara have abandoned their traditional occupation of cotton gining and the manufacture of quilts and pillows. A process that began in the 19th Century, when many members of the community took to agriculture has accelerated. Most Pinjara are now small and medium sized farmers. Most live in multi-caste villages which they share with the Maratha, Mang, Gond and Bandha communities.
In Karnataka Pinjaras population is about 1.3 million. They are found all over the State but majority of them live in Bijapur and Belgaum districts. Literacy is claimed to be less than 1 percent in the State. Pinjara Muslims mother tongue is Kannada where as other Muslims speak Daccani. In some parts of the State their traditional occupation continues with modern machines but overall they are badly affected by modern mattress makers. Some are agriculturist and others run petty-shops. Economically they are weaker section of the society and are struggling to embrace change per se.<TT-I archives>