Study Help Full Glossary for A Passage to India


almeira A wooden wardrobe.

Andamans Group of islands in the Bay of Bengal; formerly the site of a prison.

babuism A disparaging term applied to the English written or spoken by natives of India. Derived from babu, a Hindu title which corresponds to our “Mr.”

band-ghari A four-wheeler.

bhakti Religious devotion; love directed toward a personal deity.

bhang A narcotic and intoxicant made of dried leaves and young twigs of the hemp plant; used for chewing, smoking, or drinking (when infused in water).

burra A title of respect to designate a father, elder brother, or a chief officer.

Chhatri A funerary monument; a chapel built over a tomb.

chin-chin A salutation; a toast (pidgin English).

chota hazri Breakfast.

chukker A period of play in polo.

chunam Plaster or stucco made from lime and sea-sand.

chuprassi A messenger or servant wearing an official badge.

durry A thick cotton cloth or carpet.

fez A tapering felt cap, usually red, with a black tassel hanging from the crown (formerly worn by Turkish men).

Ganpati Elephant god.

gram Certain leguminous plants grown especially for their seed.

Hakim In Moslem countries, a ruler or a judge.

hammam A building or room designed for bathing, either public or private.

hookah A pipe with a long flexible stem, so arranged that the smoke is cooled by passing through water.

Huzoor A respectful title of address used by native servants.

maidan In southern and western Asia, an open space as for military exercises or for a marketplace; an esplanade.

mali Member of the gardner caste.

Mohurram Moslem religious festival, celebrated only by Indian Moslems, which commemorates the death of the grandson of Mohammed. It is similar to the Hindu Ganesh festival in which a clay figure of the elephant god is immersed in water when the worship is completed. In Mohurram, a replica of Iman Hussein’s tomb, or “tazia,” is erected of bamboo and decorated with paper. At the completion of the ten days of mourning and prayer, the tazia is buried in sand near a riverbank.

mullah In India, a ravine or a watercourse. howdah A canopied seat on the back of an elephant for two or more persons to ride in.

pan The betel leaf; also the chewing of it.

peg An alcoholic drink, usually brandy and soda.

pujah Religious worship.

pukka Good or thoroughgoing of its kind; genuine, substantial.

punkah A large fan made from the palmyra leaf, or a large, swinging fan consisting of canvas stretched over a rectangular frame and hung from the ceiling.

punkah wallah The operator of a punkah, usually a coolie or person of a low caste.

purdah A curtain or screen used to screen women from public observation. This custom prevents women from participating in social and public affairs.

quod Prison (slang).

ryot A peasant or tenant farmer.

saddhu A Hindu ascetic or holy man.

sahib The title used by natives when addressing or speaking of a European gentleman; a general title affixed to the name or official title of a European, e.g., Colonel Sahib.

sais A groom.

shikar Hunting.

tatties A fragrant grass mat which is kept wet and hung at doors and windows of a house to cool the house during the hot weather.

tazia See Mohurrarn (Chapter 5).

tiffin Lunch.

tonga A kind of light two-wheeled vehicle, usually for four persons, drawn by ponies or bullocks.

topi A pith hat or helmet, generally worn by Europeans in India.

tum-tum A dog cart.

Turkuram A Maratha poet.

victoria A low, four-wheeled carriage for two passengers with a folding top and a high seat in front for the coachman.