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Dhangar is a herding caste from the state of Maharashtra.


Dhangar is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dhenau’ which means cow. Dhangar keep a special breed of cows and buffaloes Dhangar gai and Dhangar mhasi.


Traditionally Dhangar are shepherds, farmers, blanket and wool weavers, cowherds, buffalo keepers, and butchers. Due to their occupation, they wander from forest to forest and stay away from the society. They mostly wander in hilly regions, hills and mountains.

Due to this, Maharastrian Dhangars are classified as Nomadic Tribe. In 2014, they were seeking to be categorized as Scheduled caste.

Uttar Pradesh has classified this caste as Scheduled caste.

Religious Beliefs:

Along with their kuldevta or kuldevi, Dhangar worship, Shiva, Vishnu, Mahalakshmi, Parvati and many other gods. These forms include Ambabai, Beeralingeswara (Biroba), Dhuloba (Dhuleshwar), Khandoba, Janai-Malai, Mhasoba, Padubai, Siddhanath (Shidoba), Vithoba, Tulai (Tulja Bhavani), and Yamai.

Usually Dhangar worship the temple that is nearby their house which becomes their kuldevi and kuldevta.


Earlier there were twelve tribes of Dhangar and there was division of labor amongst the brothers of the family.

Later on, Dhangar was divided into three sub-divisions and one half-division. These divisions are as follows:

  • Hatkars – shepherds
  • Ahir – cowherds
  • Kutekar/Sangar – weavers of wool and blanket

The half-division became the butchers who were known as Khateek or Khatik.

All the sub-castes of Dhangar fall under the above divisions. All the sub-divisions emerge from one stock and the sub-divisions are a single group of Dhangar.

This 3 sub-divisions and half-division have some religious significance.

All the Dhangars of Western Maharashtra and Konkan are also termed as Marathas. It must be noted that all Marathas are not Dhangars.

Marriage and Children:

During the marriage a sacred thread is worn. The Dhangar children are named after gods, goddesses and ancestors.


The literacy of Dhangar community is very low due to poor socio-economic status.