The Kharwa-Khalasi or sailors are a bold and
enterprising community. Most part of their life is
spent in the mid-sea. They accustom themselves with
the ups and downs of the life like the sea-waves and
accept the uncertainties of life with no complains.
Navigation at small scale is the main
occupation of the Kharwa community. They transport
different kinds of goods and commodities to far flung
areas in small boats or medium-size vessels.
They spend almost eight months of the year in
the same way. They are at home or unemployed during
the four months of monsoon. Their life is by and large
unsteady and risky. The family is always worried about
their safe return from the long journey.
The Kharwa community is hardly economically
well-off. Very few Kharwas have the boat or a vessel
of their own. Most of them are employed on contractual
basis. The community lives nearby the coastal areas of
Gujarat and Saurashtra.
The Kharwa-Khalasi of Saurashtra wears
breeches, shirts and a turban. In Gujarat, they wear
short dhoti. Time has effected many changes in their
pattern of dress. Some sailors now put on trousers and
shirts too. They use old and worn-out clothes, when
they are on sail.
The women put on simple dress like a
petticoat; a blouse and a thin cloth like a short
saree. Some women wear the saree like a dhoti. Their
ornaments inlcude bangles, earrings, nose-ring and
round rods in the legs.
Fishing, making of nets and ship-building are
other occupations of the Kharwas. Women too remain
active in all such jobs. The Kharwas love to play Raas
during festivals like Holi and Navratri. Kharwa women
were known for their tippani dance at one time. They
also sing bhajans and perform the rituals to
Satyanarayana. They perform pooja of Ramdeo Pir on
Kali Chaudash, offer prayers to Humans and their
ancestral deity. Kharwas are by and large
non-vegetarians. Some kharwas do eat fish and eggs.