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Dhangars of Maharashtra

  • Dhangars were an important pastoral community in Maharashtra.
  • In the early twentieth century their population in this region was estimated to be 467,000.
  • Most of them were shepherds, some were blanket weavers, and still others were buffalo herders.
  • The Dhangars stayed in the central plateau of Maharashtra during the monsoons.
  • This was a semi arid region with low rainfall and poor soil. It was covered with thorny shrubs. Nothing but dry crops like bajra could be sown here. During the monsoons, this area became a vast grazing ground for the Dhangar flocks.
  • By October, the Dhangars harvested their bajra and started to move towards the west.
  • After a month or so or during the month of March they reached the Konkan.
  • This was a flourishing agricultural area with high rainfall and rich soil. Here shepherds were welcomed by Konkani peasants. The Konkani peasants also gave supplies of rice which the shepherds took back to the plateau, where grain was scarce.
  • With the onset of the monsoons the Dhangars left the Konkan and the coastal areas with their flocks and returned to their settlements on the dry plateau. The sheep could not tolerate the wet monsoon conditions.

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