Houses and Housing.

According to the 1961 Census there are 3,23,075 houses in the district. Of these 2,70,054 are in rural areas and 53,021 in urban areas These houses include 2,29,693 dwellings of which 1,92,617 are in rural and 37,076 in urban areas.

There are two chief styles of houses in the district, the flat roofed and the tiled. Tiled roofs were once confined to villages north of the Tapi river but they became universal in course of time by the end of the last century. In the towns tiled roofs were the order but during the thirties, forties and fifties of the present century cement concrete construction with a terrace above has become the fashion in keeping with the vogue in several other urban centres of the country. Slowly they are getting into fashion even in villages. Baked bricks are used everywhere, whereas unbaked, sun-dried bricks were used for old houses which were mostly flat-roofed. Mud and mortar are both used. The window frames, doorposts are generally of teak or nim wood and often the door panels and window shutters are of mango wood. Stone is scarcely used except for foundation. Houses are usually built facing north or south and in some villages there is said to exist a prejudice against eastern or western fronts for houses.

A trader's house has a verandah or ota, which if he is a retail trader, is turned into his shop. Inside the verandah is the sitting room and beyond the sitting room the dining hall in the middle and three rooms on each side. Among the side rooms to the left of the hall are the office room, the shrine, the lying in room and to the right a treasure room and two store rooms one of which is used as kitchen. Behind this group comes the back verandah with privy in one corner. There is usually a back or a side door.

A well-to-do village Patil's house has a large gate, with a ward room on either side where the watchman sleeps and kit is piled or where office work is done. Then comes a yard with a central well and cattle sheds on either side or all round. Then a flight of steps leads to the first door and a long house, with first, a sitting room, where swings or zoolas are kept and a dining room with two rooms on either side. In such houses cattle enter by the front door. The bulk of the peasant's houses are of the superior type of dhaba houses or inferior type of houses known as chappars. A dhaba house is said to last for many years if it is kept in good repairs. The walls of clay and chopped grass or straw thoroughly kneaded under buffalo's feet taper slightly and average from 18 to 22 inches in thickness. The fiat or nearly flat roof rests on strong teakwood beams which ran from wall to wall. Over the beams is laid a layer of strong branches of trees and a coating of dried sugarcane leaves, the whole with a gentle slope to one of the corners where a wooden spout throws off the water several feet from the foundation of the wall.

The chappar type of houses have either clay walls or merely a thick fence of cotton stalks or other wattled bows. The roof is made of long grass tied neatly to a bamboo frame work with an intricate layer of palas leaves in the middle of the grass so as to make the roof perfectly waterproof. Over the thatch, split millet stems are sometimes laid to make it look like tiles. Generally Kolis, Bhils, Vanjaras and Mahars live in such huts.

The tendency, however, whether in towns or in villages of late is to go in for pucca construction and the use of burnt bricks cement and concrete is getting increasingly popular. The only restriction on such construction is ability to spend or facility of securing required materials. It is not unusual to notice such houses even in villages having a population of not more than a thousand. They are small and bungalow type and well-ventilated in keeping with modern architectural standards. Such houses are provided with furniture like chairs, table, sofas, cots, cupboards, radio sets, musical instruments etc., according to taste and ability. Steel furniture is also making headway in towns and even in villages.


The staple food of practically all sections of Dhulia is jowar bread. Wheat and rice also occupy a considerable proportion. Rice now being produced in some talukas of Dhulia with the help of lift irrigation is getting more and more popular and its presence in the menu is regarded as a sign of superior living. Vegetables locally grown and imported and bananas which are grown on a very large scale in the neighbouring district of Jalganv also form part of the diet of people particularly of those living in towns. The cooking and dressing style may differ according to tradition and taste in the different communities but as in other matters, the standard is laid by the towns people and it may be paid to conform to the standard that obtains in places like Poona and Nasik. The service of food in public, well kept hotels of these places may be regarded as prescribing the standard menus for dinners and lunches.

The main difference in the eating habits of the people is determined by the consideration of their being vegetarians or non-vegetarians. Among the former may be included Brahmans, Marvadis, Jains and Banias. In respect of non-vegetarians it may be pointed out that as meat and fish are not easily procurable most of them are not habitual meat-eaters. It is only on festive occasions or in some cases once or twice a week that they take meat diet. This is true even about Muslims and Marathas who are particularly fond of mutton. Fresh fish is a rare commodity but dried fish that comes from Bombay forms part of the diet of the peasantry and village folk almost daily. Hindus scrupulously abstain from beef and Muslims from pork, though they may take mutton, eggs and fowl. Milk and ghee form part of the diet of vegetarians but even they can ill-afford it in these days. A spicy kadhi i.e., buttermilk boiled with salt and spices is a favourite dish of all people in Dhulia district. Almost all classes of people have taken to tea in the mornings and the afternoons.

The pastoral, labouring and agricultural communities take three meals a day consisting of jowar bread, onions, split pulses, some vegetables, garlic and groundnut cutney made with salt and chillis. Breakfast, lunch and supper come early in the morning before setting out to work, at midday and between 7 and 9 p.m. respectively. The urban population takes two meals with a tiffin in the afternoon. In the case of the towns people, there may be some luxurious items like pickles and preserves and jams and occasionally some sweets in the daily diet. Milk curds and ghee may be there according to means and the quantity of rice and wheat may be larger than that of jowar. Otherwise there cannot be said to be much of difference in the diet of rural and urban people.


The articles of dress of Dhulia Hindus are not particularly different from those of people in other parts of Maharastra. The manner in which some of these articles are worn may differ slightly according to community or tradition. Hindus having a Gujarati descent have kept to the way of wearing the dhoti that their ancestors followed not only decades but even centuries ago. The kurta or sadra has undergone many changes due to varying fashions or styles but the material has remained the same viz., coarse cotton piece-goods. The old fashioned heavy, white folded turban has now remained only among the agricultural folk and the upper cloth piece worn over the shirt or coat is almost extinct. The dhoti and kurta, however, continue to be a common wear among the elderly people.

Among the younger people, however, the dhoti is getting rarer even among the rural population. The loose pyjama, half pants and the pants have practically banished the dhotis. The terylene, terycot and terywool cloth is also becoming fashionable. During the British rule, the western mode of clothes including the neckties had become very fashionable in the cities and towns but its glamour has now altogether vanished and the only remains of that dress, commonly to be noticed are the pants and shirt and of late the bush-shirt or the bush-coat. The old uparne, sadra, barabandi, kopri, angarkha and dagta are rarely seen. The head dress has almost gone and going bare-headed anywhere is becoming fashionable. The Gandhi caps persist among the village people. The made-up turban, folded turban, rumal, patka, safa, tend to become historical relics. They are resurrected on some social, festive occasions, but even that has ceased to be a necessity. In winter some warm clothing is used according to necessity and means, the woollen blanket known as ghongadi being the resort of agriculturists. In home wear, the dhoti has been largely replaced by the loose pyjama among the townfolk but the course dhoti persists in the villages and among peasant and labouring population.

A full nine-yard sadi and a bodice of similar material constitute the dress of grown-up women whether in rural or in urban areas. The manner of wearing the sadi slightly differs as between the village folk and the towns people. That is due to the necessities of the occupations in which they are employed. While a peasant woman will wear the sadi with more tidiness and in close fitting manner, the urban woman will wear it somewhat loosely and the material would be of finer counts. The skirt of the sadi in the former case will cover the head of the peasant woman, but the urban woman will let it hang on her shoulder or wear it across the shoulder. Sadis of five or six yards length have become fashionable of late among younger women and girls and they are worn cylindrically with a parkar (petticoat) inside. Polkas and blouses of different cuts are also getting fashionable and in the towns frocks and skirt blouses are coming into vogue in the case of girls.

For babies whether boys or girls, a cap known as topre or kuncade is considered essential. Angdis and jhablis are used for the body. For children, the style of dress is the same, though dress material in their case may be somewhat fine, soft and cotton or woollen according to seasonal requirements.


The ornaments worn by the women in the towns and those worn Ornaments, by women in the rural areas by peasant or working class women present a wide difference. Women in towns prefer to have light and delicate articles while those in villages wear heavy and rather crude products of workmanship. Gold ornaments would be seen only occasionally and in only very well-to-do families like those of Patils, Desmukhs and Caudharis. Others wear only silver trinkets on hands and feet and even other limbs of the body. They might even be of brass and nickel. Glass beads and glass bangles would be profusely worn. Towns women also consider these a necessity however rich they may be. Women in towns would be sparing in their use, though in this respect fashions go on changing. Many educated women are now found putting on as many as eight or ten gold bangles, of course, of delicate make on only one of their hands and on another only a wrist watch, may be with a gold chain. Gold ornaments still hold sway among the well-to-do and even educated classes and besides giving prestige to a family, they are looked upon as insurance in emergencies. Those who can afford it go in for ornaments of pearls and precious stones also. The introduction of cultured pearls from Japan has made it easier to use articles made of pearls like bangles and various styles of necklaces. Similarly, the invasion of ' Czechoslovak' jewellery has made it possible for girls and women to satisfy their craze for bright and dazzling beads and ear-rings at cheap prices.

Not long ago, it was fashionable for men also to adorn their bodies with ornaments and it was not rare to see men who flaunted a bhikabali on one of their ears, usually right ear. It was usually of two pearls with a green or red stone between them or three pearls strung together by a thin gold wire. But this decoration is now rarely seen. A gold or pearl kantha with an emerald pendant was a favourite ornament among rich men and may still be seen in some landlord or savkar families. Rings of various styles of gold and often with one or other of the precious stones inset are the only ornaments now fashionable among men. Buttons, links, studs, collar-pins or tie-pins of real or artificial gold appear to be the new fashion and wrist watch has usurped the place of the old poci or salkadi. Among the rural folk, silver ornaments and silver kargotas to be worn round the waist are popular.

Even among women, the craze for decorating almost every limb has faded out. Formerly the hair used to be laden with a number of gold ornaments and the ankles with heavy silver wear including something for the toes also. For the hair only flowers are now considered enough among the sophisticated city people. Ear-rings of pear's or other real or artificial stones are fashionable. The mangalasutra made of gold and black glass beads is considered an indispensable item in case of married women with their husbands living among Hindus, just like the kumkum mark on the forehead- Various styles of gold necklaces or ornaments of gold and pearls are in current use. Gold bangles of various styles are popular and in rich families, they are made of pearls and precious stones also. For special occasions, ornaments round the arms known as vanki are worn. A nose-ring was once considered absolutely essential, as important for married women with their husbands living as mangalasutra, but the same importance is not attached to this ornament now. It is used only on special festive occasions of late. Decorating children with various little trinkets is fashionable such as bindlis round the wrist, hansali round the neck and sankhli as a necklace. Gold is used for these articles but among the poor it is silver. Most ornaments are common among women of all communities including Muslims, though styles for noserings and ear-rings may differ. Among the Bhils and others, big and profuse glass bead necklaces are popular as also silver bangles.