By Father J. Hoffman and Mr. E. Lister
The pure Mundari Khuntkatti village usual by contains 3 elements, namely,
(1) The Khuntkattidars:
The Khuntkattidars are descendants in the male line of the original founders of the village. As such they are all akin, of equal status and differing in wealth mainly owing to differences in size of the families of their ancestors. As a group they are the owners of the whole of the area included in the village boundaries, subject to the payment of a fixed annual rent to the superior landlord. This annual rent was originally made up solely out of the subscriptions (chandas) of the various Khuntkattidars; but in most villages these subscriptions, or some of them, have now been reduced, the deficit being made good from the rent paid by the Parjas. The amount of a man’s subscription, no doubt, originally corresponded with the share of the cultivated lands, which he inherited; but in as much as the uncultivated lands, though as such held in common, were liable to be appropriated by an individual khuntkattidar who might reduce them to cultivation, such correspondence is not now found to exist. It is to be noted that the cultivated lands are not held in common, and that no trace is found of the existence of any custom of equalisation of shares or periodic redistribution of lands. To the rule of rule of descent from common ancestors the only exceptions (and these are extremely rare) arise from either formal public adoption with the consent of the brotherhood, or the union for the purpose of foundation of the village of men of different descent, these two acts having, according to Mundari ideas, the same legal effect as common descent. The rule of succession is equal division among the sons, daughters having no rights.
(2) The Parjas or Raiyats:
The Parjas are almost invariably Mundaris, and very often are relatives on the female side of the Khuntkattidars. They are in no sense co-owners of the village, and can bring under cultivation only such specific lands as may from time to time be given to them.
(3) The subsidiary castes:
The subsidiary castes (Penrains, Mahilis or Khangars, Bhogtas, and Barais) perform the non-agricultural functions necessary to the village life and rarely cultivate land.