A Washerman belongs to a backward class. He is one of the useful members of society. He serves the higher classes by washing their clothes. His services are very essential. Both the Hindus and the Muslims have taken to the professional of washing. People especially in towns and cities depend upon his services.
His dress is quite peculiar. He wears golden ear-rings. Generally he keeps a pugree on his head. Kurta and Dhoti is his favorite dress. His dress is always misfit on his body. Hukka is his constant companion. He enjoys it on the way to and from ghat.
Two Types of Washermen:
Washermen are of two types- old and new. The old Washerman still uses the old methods of washing clothes. He goes to some dirty pool to wash clothes. He uses Reh. The clothes washed by him, remain un-cleaned. The modern Washerman washes clothes in a better way. He uses soap, soda, acids and bleaching power. He goes to riverside or a tank full of clear water. He has started his own factory. The old type Washermen still lives in villages. They serve the village society in many other ways. They serve the upper classes at time of marriage, births and death. They get fixed quantity of grain at the time of harvest.
His Hard Job:
The life of the Washerman is very hard. He goes from door to door every week to collect dirty clothes. He tries them into bundles. He brings them home. He marks the clothes of different customers with different marks. In making the clothes he sues ink which cannot be removed. He then boils the cotton clothes with washing soda and soap. He rude the silken and woolen clothes with special soap only. Next day he carries the wet clothes on his donkey or a rickshaw to the washing ghat. His ghat is at some canal or pool or steam.
He arrives at the ghat where he unloads the donkey or the rickshaw. He beats the clothes against a flat stone or wooden plank again and again. In this way he removes the dirt from the clothes. He wrings out the water from the washed clothes. He then spreads them on a string or on grass to dry. His wife helps him in this work. He stands in icy cold water in winter. He bears the intense heat of the burning sun in summer. He collects the washed and dried clothes and loads the donkey to his home. Next day he sorts the clothes customer-wise, and irons them. His wife mostly does the work of ironing. Sometimes her grown-up children help her in this work. He then goes to the customers’ home to deliver the washed clothes in bundles.
Most of the Washermen are very regular. They always keep their promises. They do not spoil or tear the clothes, break the buttons and sometimes lose the clothes. They are generally irregular in their promises. They pay penalty for the losses.
The Washerman possesses certain evil habits. He is generally drunkard. His caste panchayat often punished him by asking him to pay for the bottles of wine for the panchayat. In marriages he spends beyond his means. Generally he takes heavy loans to meet the expenses of social gathering. Thus he leads his life in debt. He is notorious for breaking his promises. He puts false excuse to avoid the payment of lost clothes. He is morally degraded.
Despite his bad habits the Washerman is a very useful. He is poorly paid in villages. There is also looked down upon. We should improve his lot. The Government should give free education to his children.