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The D'jarra was a caste system that the Bajoran people adhered to prior to the Occupation of Bajor by the Cardassian Union. All Bajorans were born into a specific D'jarra based on their family, which determined their occupation in their lives. Members of the lower-ranking D'jarra were expected to show both respect and deference to those in the higher ranks. (DS9 episode: "Accession")
During the Cardassian Occupation, Vedek Opaka Sulan advocated for the abolition of the D'jarra between 2346 and 2348 to increase Bajoran unity against the Cardassians, for which she was expelled from the Vedek Assembly by Kai Arin. However, Arin eventually came around to her viewpoint, for which he was killed by his Obsidian Order minder Pasir Letin. (TLE - Terok Nor novel: Night of the Wolves)
- Since Opaka apparently succeeded Arin as Kai, we can infer that it was likely her who abolished the D'jarra.
In 2372, when Akorem Laan returned onboard his lightship from the Celestial Temple, he was accepted as the Emissary of the Prophets. Due to the age he lived in, he reinstated the D'jarra system. This caused a great deal of civil unrest as well as discrimination on Bajor. The return of the D'jarra also sparked a re-evaluation of Bajor's petition to join the Federation, as the Articles of the Federation forbade caste-based discrimination on member worlds. Fortunately, this was avoided when Akorem Laan was returned to his time and Captain Benjamin Sisko of Starfleet resumed the title of Emissary. (DS9 episode: "Accession")
The following is a partial list of D'jarra and their relative rankings:
- Ih'valla - artists
- Te'nari - unknown
- Mi'tino - merchants and landowners
- Va'telo - pilots, sailors, drivers, similar professions
- Ke'lora - laborers and lawmen
- Sern'apa - unknown
- Imutta - the "unclean", those who deal with the dead.
Prior to the Occupation, the Federation considered the discrimination between members of higher and lower D'jarra an impediment to the Bajorans' advancement as a culture. This and the Federation's secular culture were among the reasons Bajor had no formal relations with their larger neighbor. (TLE - Terok Nor novel: Day of the Vipers)
The d'jarra was also used by the Bajorans of the mirror universe until the invasion of Bajor by the Terran Empire, who destroyed the caste system. When Bajor joined the Alliance, all Bajorans were made equal. Winn Adami often wore the symbol of her d'jarra on her robes, causing some controversy. (ST novel: Dark Passions)