History and Culture

Mautana: Rajasthan’s Strange Ritual of Money Against Death

We live in the 21st century where everything is easily accessible, even justice. And at times like such, the above theory backfires giving rise to rituals like ‘Mautana’ and ‘Chadhotri’.

What are Mautana and Chadhotri?

‘Maut’ means death and ‘ana’ means money and the word together means money against death.

While we are talking about the ritual, let’s start from the beginning. Back in the early decades, the tribal communities like Bheel and Garasiya were situated in hilly terrains of Southwest portion of Rajasthan. These tribals did not live in colonies and instead of that, they were scattered in the forest. The groups of these tribes were not aware of the agriculture and so, they were mainly dependent on the forest by product and forest animals. And for resources, they used to attack the other groups and amidst all this, people lost their lives. Sometimes, they even killed each other in pure anguish.

Source: Sarita Magazine

To get control over the situation and spread brotherhood around the communities, they made a ritual of Mautana where if someone kills a person, the entire community will support the victim’s family by making the suspect’s family pay the price. They used to put the dead body on the doorstep of the murderer or the suspect and demand for grains and other resources. In case they deny, the victim’s family would destroy their houses and kill them which is called Chadhotra. The price given by the suspect was then distributed to the entire community.


Modern Practices of Mautana

Modern technology and strong law system have helped the urban part to develop to a large extent. But when we talk about the rural part of it, people are still suffering mostly because of the practices shrouded in the name of religion and customs. The problem is that even law is least concerned about such matters.

One of these problems is Practice of Mautana and Chadhotri. It is most active in the tribal regions of Udaipur, Banswara, Sirohi, and Pali. With time, the concept of the ritual has modernized too. What started with the idea of justice and spreading brotherhood grew poisonous with time.

Source: Hello Banswara

Today, the reason of death could be anything but it is blamed on someone else in order to demand money. If the family refuses to pay Mautana, they are looted, killed or forced to migrate, in some cases their houses and shops are burnt by the victim’s family or community. And even if they do agree, the amount is so high that the family has to sell everything they have and they become ruined. The money ranges from 5000 to 15 lakh depending on the social status of the dead and the accused.

The first case of ‘Mautana’ was reported at Mandwa village in 1971 in which 101 people were arrested. After that, the cases have been increasing and along with the tribal communities, communities in the remote area adopted the ritual too.


Some devastating incidents of Mautana and Chadhotra

  • This is the incident of kaucha village of Udaipur district where a lady got bit by a snake while she was working at her farm and eventually died. After her death, her family blamed her in-laws saying that the snake was from their side and so they have to pay the ‘Mautana’.
  • Kheroda village of Udaipur witnessed one more Mautana incident where a worker got injured by an electric shock. He was then taken to the government hospital of Udaipur and during his operation, the man died. The family of the man then started demanding Mautana from the Doctor itself.
  • In May 2014, a 36-year-old youth of Nichli Aanjani village came to meet his sister in Bhoojha village. He never returned home and after a month his mutilated body was found on the hillock of the village. The body parts were then taken to a deserted school building where it was hung for more than a year because the Mautana didn’t settle between the family accused and the victim’s family.
Source: Udaipur Times

Poisonous rituals like Mautana and Chadhotri this overpowers not just the law of the government but the humanity too. They initiate the feelings of greed and hatred in the humankind. Now one question that still remains is ‘Which side are the authorities on?’

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