- Art Gallery -



Original Front Cover.

Original Title Page.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India

Castes and Tribes
Southern India
Edgar Thurston, C.I.E.,
Superintendent, Madras Government Museum; Correspondant Étranger, Société d’Anthropologie de Paris; Socio Corrispondante, Societa, Romana di Anthropologia.
Assisted by K. Rangachari, M.A.,
of the Madras Government Museum.
Volume II—C to J
Government Press, Madras

List of Illustrations.

I. Chenchus.
II. Chenchu tree-climbing.
III. Chenchu.
IV. Chencu dance.
V. Dāsaris.
VI. Dēsāyi spoon.
VII. Dēvānga.
VIII. Ārē Dommara acrobat.
IX. Ārē Dommara acrobat.
X. Gamallas.
XI. Gamalla muggu.
XII. Gānga bride and bridegroom.
XIII. Golla juggler.
XIV. Golla Ganga muggu.
XV. Gōndaliga musicians.
XVI. Irula, Nilgiris.
XVII. Irula, Nilgiris.
XVIII. Irula, Chingleput.
XIX. Irula, Chingleput.
XX. Irulas collecting honey.
XXI. Statue of Gummata at Karkai.
XXII. Jain basti at Mudabidure.
XXIII. Jain basti at Karkal.
XXIV. Jōgi mendicant.


Castes and Tribes of Southern India.

Volume II.



Canji (gruel).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālē. Canji is the word “in use all over India for the water, in which rice has been boiled. It also forms the usual starch of Indian washermen.”1 As a sept of the Sālē weavers, it probably has reference to the gruel, or size, which is applied to the warp.

Chacchadi.—Haddis who do scavenging work, with whom other Haddis do not freely intermarry.

Chadarapu Dhompti (square space marriage offering).—A sub-division of Mādigas, who, at marriages, offer food to the god in a square space.

Chākala.See Tsākala.

Chakkān.—Recorded in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a Malabar caste of oil-pressers (chakku means an oil-mill). Followers of this calling are known also as Vattakkādans in South Malabar, and as Vāniyans in North Malabar, but the former are the higher in social status, the Nāyars being polluted by the touch of the Vāniyans and Chakkāns, but not by that of the Vattakkādans. Chakkāns and Vāniyans may not enter Brāhman temples. Their customs and manners are similar to those of the Nāyars, who will not, however, [2]marry their women.” Chakkingalavan appears as a synonym for Chakkān.

Chakkiliyan.—“The Chakkiliyans,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,2 “are the leather-workers of the Tamil districts, corresponding to the Mādigas of the Telugu country. The Chakkiliyans appear to be immigrants from the Telugu or Canarese districts, for no mention is made of this caste either in the early Tamil inscriptions, or in early Tamil literature. Moreover, a very large proportion of the Chakkiliyans speak Telugu and Canarese. In social position the Chakkiliyans occupy the lowest rank, though there is much dispute on this point between them and the Paraiyans. Nominally they are Saivites, but in reality devil-worshippers. The āvaram plant (Cassia auriculata) is held in much veneration by them,3 and the tāli is tied to a branch of it as a preliminary to marriage. Girls are not usually married before puberty. The bridegroom may be younger than the bride. Their widows may remarry. Divorce can be obtained at the pleasure of either party on payment of Rs. 12–12–0 to the other in the presence of the local head of the caste. Their women are considered to be very beautiful, and it is a woman of this caste who is generally selected for the coarser form of Sakti worship. They indulge very freely in intoxicating liquors, and will eat any flesh, including beef, pork, etc. Hence they are called, par excellence, the flesh-eaters (Sanskrit shatkuli).” It was noted by Sonnerat, in the eighteenth century,4 that the Chakkiliyans are in more contempt than the Pariahs, because [3]they use cow leather in making shoes. “The Chucklers or cobblers,” the Abbé Dubois writes,5 “are considered inferiors to the Pariahs all over the peninsula. They are more addicted to drunkenness and debauchery. Their orgies take place principally in the evening, and their villages resound, far into the night, with the yells and quarrels which result from their intoxication. The very Pariahs refuse to have anything to do with the Chucklers, and do not admit them to any of their feasts.” In the Madura Manual, 1868, the Chakkiliyans are summed up as “dressers of leather, and makers of slippers, harness, and other leather articles. They are men of drunken and filthy habits, and their morals are very bad. Curiously enough, their women are held to be of the Padmani kind, i.e., of peculiar beauty of face and form, and are also said to be very virtuous. It is well known, however, that zamindars and other rich men are very fond of intriguing with them, particularly in the neighbourhood of Paramagudi, where they live in great numbers.” There is a Tamil proverb that even a Chakkili girl and the ears of the millet are beautiful when mature. In the Tanjore district, the Chakkiliyans are said6 to be “considered to be of the very lowest status. In some parts of the district they speak Telugu and wear the nāmam (Vaishnavite sect mark) and are apparently immigrants from the Telugu country.” Though they are Tamil-speaking people, the Chakkiliyans, like the Telugu Mādigas, have exogamous septs called gōtra in the north, and kīlai in the south. Unlike the Mādigas, they do not carry out the practice of making Basavis (dedicated prostitutes). [4]

The correlation of the most important measurements of the Mādigas of the Telugu country, and so-called Chakkiliyans of the city of Madras, is clearly brought out by the following figures:—

Thirty Madigas. Fifty Chakkiliyans.
cm. cm.
Stature 163.1 162.2
Cephalic length 18.6 18.6
Cephalic breadth 13.9 13.9
Cephalic index 75. 75.
Nasal height 4.5 4.6
Nasal breadth 3.7 3.6
Nasal index 80.8 78.9

The Chakkiliyan men in Madras are tattooed not only on the forehead, but also with their name, conventional devices, dancing-girls, etc., on the chest and upper extremities.

It has been noticed as a curious fact that, in the Madura district, “while the men belong to the right-hand faction, the women belong to and are most energetic supporters of the left. It is even said that, during the entire period of a faction riot, the Chakkili women keep aloof from their husbands and deny them their marital rights.”7

In a very interesting note on the leather industry of the Madras Presidency, Mr. A. Chatterton writes as follows.8 “The position of the Chakkiliyan in the south differs greatly from that of the Mādiga of the north, and many of his privileges are enjoyed by a ‘sub-sect’ of the Pariahs called Vettiyans. These people possess the right of removing dead cattle from villages, and in return [5]have to supply leather for agricultural purposes. The majority of Chakkiliyans are not tanners, but leather-workers, and, instead of getting the hides or skins direct from the Vettiyan, they prefer to purchase them ready-tanned from traders, who bring them from the large tanning centres. When the Chuckler starts making shoes or sandals, he purchases the leather and skin which he requires in the bazar, and, taking it home, first proceeds with a preliminary currying operation. The leather is damped and well stretched, and dyed with aniline, the usual colour being scarlet R.R. of the Badische Anilin Soda Fabrik. This is purchased in the bazar in packets, and is dissolved in water, to which a little oxalic acid has been added. The dye is applied with a piece of rag on the grain side, and allowed to dry. After drying, tamarind paste is applied to the flesh side of the skin, and the latter is then rolled between the hands, so as to produce a coarse graining on the outer side. In making the shoes, the leather is usually wetted, and moulded into shape on wooden moulds or lasts. As a rule, nothing but cotton is used for sewing, and the waxed ends of the English cobbler are entirely unknown. The largest consumption of leather in this Presidency is for water-bags or kavalais, which are used for raising water from wells, and for oil and ghee (clarified butter) pots, in which the liquids are transported from one place to another. Of irrigation wells there are in the Presidency more than 600,000, and, though some of them are fitted with iron buckets, nearly all of them have leather bags with leather discharging trunks. The buckets hold from ten to fifty gallons of water, and are generally made from fairly well tanned cow hides, though for very large buckets buffalo hides are sometimes used. The number of oil and ghee pots in use in the country is very large. [6]The use of leather vessels for this purpose is on the decline, as it is found much cheaper and more convenient to store oil in the ubiquitous kerosine-oil tin, and it is not improbable that eventually the industry will die out, as it has done in other countries. The range of work of the country Chuckler is not very extensive. Besides leather straps for wooden sandals, he makes crude harness for the ryot’s cattle, including leather collars from which numerous bells are frequently suspended, leather whips for the cattle drivers, ornamental fringes for the bull’s forehead, bellows for the smith, and small boxes for the barber, in which to carry his razors. In some places, leather ropes are used for various purposes, and it is customary to attach big coir (cocoanut fibre) ropes to the bodies of the larger temple cars by leather harness, when they are drawn in procession through the streets. Drum-heads and tom-toms are made from raw hides by Vettiyans and Chucklers. The drums are often very large, and are transported upon the back of elephants, horses, bulls and camels. For them raw hides are required, but for the smaller instruments sheep-skins are sufficient. The raw hides are shaved on the flesh side, and are then dried. The hair is removed by rubbing with wood-ashes. The use of lime in unhairing is not permissible, as it materially decreases the elasticity of the parchment.” The Chakkiliyans beat the tom-tom for Kammālans, Pallis and Kaikōlans, and for other castes if desired to do so.

The Chakkiliyans do not worship Mātangi, who is the special deity of the Mādigas. Their gods include Madurai Vīran, Māriamma, Mūneswara, Draupadi and Gangamma. Of these, the last is the most important, and her festival is celebrated annually, if possible. To cover the expenses thereof, a few Chakkiliyans dress up [7]so as to represent men and women of the Marāthi bird-catching caste, and go about begging in the streets for nine days. On the tenth day the festival terminates. Throughout it, Gangamma, represented by three decorated pots under a small pandal (booth) set up on the bank of a river or tank beneath a margosa (Melia azadirachta), or pīpal (Ficus religiosa) tree, is worshipped. On the last day, goats and fowls are sacrificed, and limes cut.

During the first menstrual period, the Chakkiliyan girl is kept under pollution in a hut made of fresh green boughs, which is erected by her husband or maternal uncle. Meat, curds, and milk are forbidden. On the last day, the hut is burnt down. At marriages a Chakkiliyan usually officiates as priest, or the services of a Valluvan priest may be enlisted. The consent of the girl’s maternal uncle to the marriage is essential. The marriage ceremony closely resembles that of the Paraiyans. And, at the final death ceremonies of a Chakkiliyan, as of a Paraiyan, two bricks are worshipped, and thrown into a tank or stream.

Lean children, especially of the Māla, Mādiga, and Chakkiliyan classes, are made to wear a leather strap, specially made for them by a Chakkiliyan, which is believed to help their growth.

At times of census, some Chakkiliyans have returned themselves as Pagadaiyar, Madāri (conceit or arrogance), and Ranavīran (brave warrior).

Chākkiyar.—The Chākkiyars are a class of Ambalavāsis, of whom the following account is given in the Travancore Census Report, 1901. The name is generally derived from Slaghyavākkukār (those with eloquent words), and refers to the traditional function of the caste in Malabar society. According to the Jātinirnaya, the [8]Chākkiyars represent a caste growth of the Kaliyuga. The offence to which the first Chākkiyar owes his position in society was, it would appear, brought to light after the due performance of the upanayanasamskāra. Persons, in respect of whom the lapse was detected before that spiritualizing ceremony took place, became Nambiyars. Manu derives Sūta, whose functions are identical with the Malabar Chākkiyar, from a pratilōma union, i.e., of a Brāhman wife with a Kshatriya husband.9 The girls either marry into their own caste, or enter into the sambandham form of alliance with Nambūtiris. They are called Illōttammamar. Their jewelry resembles that of the Nambūtiris. The Chākkiyar may choose a wife for sambandham from among the Nambiyars. They are their own priests, but the Brāhmans do the purification (punyāham) of house and person after birth or death pollution. The pollution itself lasts for eleven days. The number of times the Gāyatri (hymn) may be repeated is ten.

The traditional occupation of the Chākkiyans is the recitation of Purānic stories. The accounts of the Avatāras have been considered the highest form of scripture of the non-Brāhmanical classes, and the early Brāhmans utilised the intervals of their Vēdic rites, i.e., the afternoons, for listening to their recitation by castes who could afford the leisure to study and narrate them. Special adaptations for this purpose have been composed by writers like Narayana Bhattapāda, generally known as the Bhattatirippāt, among whose works Dūtavākya, Pānchālisvayamvara, Subhadrāhana and Kauntēyāshtaka are the most popular. In addition to these, standard works like Bhōgachampu and Māhanātaka are often [9]pressed into the Chākkiyar’s service. Numerous upakathās or episodes are brought in by way of illustration, and the marvellous flow of words, and the telling humour of the utterances, keep the audience spell-bound. On the utsavam programme of every important temple, especially in North Travancore, the Chākkiyarkūttu (Chākkiyar’s performance) is an essential item. A special building, known as kūttampalam, is intended for this purpose. Here the Chākkiyar instructs and regales his hearers, antiquely dressed, and seated on a three-legged stool. He wears a peculiar turban with golden rim and silk embossments. A long piece of cloth with coloured edges, wrapped round the loins in innumerable vertical folds with an elaborateness of detail difficult to describe, is the Chākkiyar’s distinctive apparel. Behind him stands the Nambiyar, whose traditional kinship with the Chākkiyar has been referred to, with a big jar-shaped metal drum in front of him called milāvu, whose bass sound resembles the echo of distant thunder. The Nambiyar is indispensable for the Chākkiyarkūttu, and sounds his mighty instrument at the beginning, at the end, and also during the course of his recitation, when the Chākkiyar arrives at the middle and end of a Sanskrit verse. The Nangayar, a female of the Nambiyar caste, is another indispensable element, and sits in front of the Chākkiyar with a cymbal in hand, which she sounds occasionally. It is interesting to note that, amidst all the boisterous merriment into which the audience may be thrown, there is one person who has to sit motionless like a statue. If the Nangayar is moved to a smile, the kūttu must stop, and there are cases where, in certain temples, the kūttu has thus become a thing of the past. The Chākkiyar often makes a feint of representing some of his audience as his characters [10]for the scene under depictment. But he does it in such a genteel way that rarely is offence taken. It is an unwritten canon of Chākkiyarkūttu that the performance should stop at once if any of the audience so treated should speak out in answer to the Chākkiyar, who, it may be added, would stare at an admiring listener, and thrust questions on him with such directness and force as to need an extraordinary effort to resist a reply. And so realistic is his performance that a tragic instance is said to have occurred when, by a cruel irony of fate, his superb skill cost a Chākkiyar his life. While he was explaining a portion of the Mahābhārata with inimitable theatrical effect, a desperate friend of the Pāndavas rose from his seat in a fit of uncontrollable passion, and actually knocked the Chākkiyar dead when, in an attitude of unmistakable though assumed heartlessness, he, as personating Duryōdhana, inhumanely refused to allow even a pin-point of ground to his exiled cousins. This, it is believed, occurred in a private house, and thereafter kūttu was prohibited except at temples.

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that “Chākkiyars or Slāghyar-vakukar are a caste following makkattāyam (inheritance from father to son), and wear the pūnūl (thread). They are recruited from girls born to a Nambūdiri woman found guilty of adultery, after the date at which such adultery is found to have commenced, and boys of similar origin, who have been already invested with the sacred thread. Boys who have not been invested with the pūnūl when their mother is declared an adulteress, join the class known as Chākkiyar Nambiyars, who follow marumakkattāyam (inheritance in the female line), and do not wear the thread. The girls join either caste indifferently. Chākkiyars may [11]marry Nangiyars, but Chākkiyar Nambiyars may not marry Illōtammamar.”

Chāliyan.—The Chāliyans are a caste of Malayālam cotton weavers, concerning whom Mr. Francis writes as follows10:—“In dress and manners they resemble the artisan castes of Malabar, but, like the Pattar Brāhmans, they live in streets, which fact probably points to their being comparatively recent settlers from the east coast. They have their own barbers called Potuvāns, who are also their purōhits. They do not wear the sacred thread, as the Sālē weavers of the east coast do. They practise ancestor worship, but without the assistance of Brāhman priests. This is the only Malabar caste which has anything to do with the right and left-hand faction disputes, and both divisions are represented in it, the left hand being considered the superior. Apparently, therefore, it settled in Malabar some time after the beginnings of this dispute on the east coast, that is, after the eleventh century A. D. Some of them follow the marumakkatāyam and others the makkatāyam law of inheritance, which looks as if the former were earlier settlers than the latter.”

The Chāliyans are so called because, unlike most of the west coast classes, they live in streets, and Teruvan (teru, a street) occurs as a synonym for the caste name. The right-hand section are said to worship the elephant god Ganēsa, and the left Bhagavāti.

The following account of the Chāliyans is given in the Gazetteer of the Malabar district: “Chāliyans are almost certainly a class of immigrants from the east coast. They live in regular streets, a circumstance strongly supporting this view. The traditional account [12]is to the same effect. It is said that they were originally of a high caste, and were imported by one of the Zāmorins, who wished to introduce the worship of Ganapathi, to which they are much addicted. The latter’s minister, the Mangatt Acchan, who was entrusted with the entertainment of the new arrivals, and was nettled by their fastidiousness and constant complaints about his catering, managed to degrade them in a body by the trick of secretly mixing fish with their food. They do not, like their counterparts on the east coast, wear the thread; but it is noticeable that their priests, who belong to their own caste, wear it over the right shoulder instead of over the left like the Brāhman’s pūnūl, when performing certain pūjas (worship). In some parts, the place of the regular pūnūl is taken by a red scarf or sash worn in the same manner. They are remarkable for being the only caste in Malabar amongst whom any trace of the familiar east coast division into right-hand and left-hand factions is to be found. They are so divided; and those belonging to the right-hand faction deem themselves polluted by the touch of those belonging to the left-hand sect, which is numerically very weak. They are much addicted to devil-dancing, which rite is performed by certain of their numbers called Kōmarams in honour of Bhagavathi and the minor deities Vettekkorumagan and Gulikan (a demon). They appear to follow makkatāyam (descent from father to son) in some places, and marumakkatāyam (inheritance in the female line) in others. Their pollution period is ten days, and their purification is performed by the Talikunnavan (sprinkler), who belongs to a somewhat degraded section of the caste.”

The affairs of the caste are managed by headmen called Urālans, and the caste barber, or Pothuvan, acts as [13]the caste messenger. Council meetings are held at the village temple, and the fines inflicted on guilty persons are spent in celebrating pūja (worship) thereat.

When a girl reaches puberty, the elderly females of Urālan families take her to a tank, and pour water over her head from small cups made of the leaves of the jāk (Artocarpus integrifolia) tree. She is made to sit apart on a mat in a room decorated with young cocoanut leaves. Round the mat raw rice and paddy (unhusked rice) are spread, and a vessel containing cocoanut flowers and cocoanuts is placed near her. On the third evening, the washerman (Peruvannān) brings some newly-washed cloths (māttu). He is presented with some rice and paddy, which he ties up in a leaf, and does pūja. He then places the cloths on a plank, which he puts on his head. After repeating some songs or verses, he sets it down on the floor. Some of the girl’s female relations take a lighted lamp, a pot of water, a measure of rice, and go three times round the plank. On the following day, the girl is bathed, and the various articles which have been kept in her room are thrown into a river or tank.

Like many other Malabar castes, the Chāliyans perform the tāli kettu ceremony. Once in several years, the girls of the village who have to go through this ceremony are brought to the house of one of the Urālans, where a pandal (booth) has been set up. Therein a plank, made of the wood of the pāla tree (Alstonia scholaris), a lighted lamp, betel leaves and nuts, a measure of raw rice, etc., are placed. The girl takes her seat on the plank, holding in her right hand a mimic arrow (shanthulkōl). The Pothuvan, who receives a fanam (coin) and three bundles of betel leaves for his services, hands the tāli to a male member of an Urālan family, who ties it on the girl’s neck. [14]

On the day before the wedding-day the bridegroom, accompanied by his male relations, proceeds to the house of the bride, where a feast is held. On the following day the bride is bathed, and made to stand before a lighted lamp placed on the floor. The bridegroom’s father or uncle places two gold fanams (coins) in her hands, and a further feast takes place.

In the seventh month of pregnancy, the ceremony called puli kudi (or drinking tamarind) is performed. The woman’s brother brings a twig of a tamarind tree, and, after the leaves have been removed, plants it in the yard of the house. The juice is extracted from the leaves, and mixed with the juice of seven cocoanuts. The elderly female relations of the woman give her a little of the mixture. The ceremony is repeated during three days. Birth pollution is removed by a barber woman sprinkling water on the ninth day.

The dead are buried. The son carries a pot of water to the grave, round which he takes it three times. The barber makes a hole in the pot, which is then thrown down at the head of the grave. The barber also tears off a piece of the cloth, in which the corpse is wrapped. This is, on the tenth day, taken by the son and barber to the sea or a tank, and thrown into it. Three stones are set up over the grave.

Chāliyan also occurs as an occupational title or sub-division of Nāyars, and Chāliannaya as an exogamous sept of Bant. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Chāliyan is given as a sub-caste of Vāniyan (oil-pressers). Some Chāliyans are, however, oilmongers by profession.

Challa.—Challa, meaning apparently eaters of refuse, occurs as a sub-division of Yānādis, and meaning buttermilk as an exogamous sept of Dēvānga. Challakūti, [15]meaning those who eat old or cold food, is an exogamous sept of Kāpus.

Chamar.—Nearly three hundred members of this Bengal caste of tanners and workers in leather were returned at the census, 1901. The equivalent Chamura occurs as the name of leather-workers from the Central Provinces.

Chandāla.—At the census, 1901, more than a thousand individuals returned themselves as Chandāla, which is defined as a generic term, meaning one who pollutes, to many low castes. “It is,” Surgeon-Major W. R. Cornish writes,11 “characteristic of the Brāhmanical intolerance of the compilers of the code that the origin of the lowest caste of all (the Chandāla) should be ascribed to the intercourse of a Sūdra man and a Brāhman woman, while the union of a Brāhman male with a Sūdra woman is said to have resulted in one of the highest of the mixed classes.” By Manu it was laid down that “the abode of the Chandāla and Swapaca must be out of the town. They must not have the use of entire vessels. Their sole wealth must be dogs and asses. Their clothes must be the mantles of the deceased; their dishes for food broken pots; their ornaments rusty iron; continually must they roam from place to place. Let no man who regards his duty, religious and civil, hold any intercourse with them, and let food be given to them in potsherds, but not by the hand of the giver.”

Chandra (moon).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. The name Chandravamsapu (moon people) is taken by some Rāzus, who claim to be Kshatriyas, and to be descended from the lunar race of kings of the Mahābhārata. [16]

Chanipoyina (those who are dead).—An exogamous sept of Orugunta Kāpu.

Chāpa (mat).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Chappadi (insipid).—An exogamous sept of Jōgi.

Chapparam (a pandal or booth).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Chapparband.—The Chapparbands are manufacturers of spurious coin, who hail from the Bombay Presidency, and are watched for by the police. It is noted, in the Police Report, 1904, that good work was done in Ganjam in tracing certain gangs of these coiners, and bringing them to conviction.

For the following note I am indebted to a report12 by Mr. H. N. Alexander of the Bombay Police Department. The name Chapparband refers to their calling, chapa meaning an impression or stamp. “Among themselves they are known as Bhadoos, but in Hindustan, and among Thugs and cheats generally, they are known as Khoolsurrya, i.e., false coiners. While in their villages, they cultivate the fields, rear poultry and breed sheep, while the women make quilts, which the men sell while on their tours. But the real business of this class is to make and pass off false coin. Laying aside their ordinary Muhammadan dress, they assume the dress and appearance of fakirs of the Muddar section, Muddar being their Pir, and, unaccompanied by their women, wander from village to village. Marathi is their language, and, in addition, they have a peculiar slang of their own. Like all people of this class, they are superstitious, and will not proceed on an expedition unless a favourable omen is obtained. The following account is given, showing how the false coin is manufactured. A [17]mould serves only once, a new one being required for every rupee or other coin. It is made of unslaked lime and a kind of yellow earth called shedoo, finely powdered and sifted, and patiently kneaded with water to about the consistency of putty. One of the coins to be imitated is then pressed with some of the preparation, and covered over, and, being cut all round, is placed in some embers. After becoming hardened, it is carefully laid open with a knife, and, the coin being taken out, its impression remains. The upper and lower pieces are then joined together with a kind of gum, and, a small hole being made on one side, molten tin is poured in, and thus an imitation of the coin is obtained, and it only remains to rub it over with dirt to give it the appearance of old money. The tin is purchased in any bazaar, and the false money is prepared on the road as the gang travels along. Chapparbands adopt several ways of getting rid of their false coin. They enter shops and make purchases, showing true rupees in the first instance, and substituting false ones at the time of payment. They change false rupees for copper money, and also in exchange for good rupees of other currencies. Naturally, they look out for women and simple people, though the manner of passing off the base coin is clever, being done by sleight of hand. The false money is kept in pockets formed within the folds of their langutis (loin-cloths), and also hidden in the private parts.”

The following additional information concerning Chapparbands is contained in the Illustrated Criminal Investigation and Law Digest13:—“They travel generally in small gangs, and their women never follow them. They consult omens before leaving their villages. They [18]do not leave their villages dressed as fakirs. They generally visit some place far away from their residence, and there disguise themselves as Madari fakirs, adding Shah to their names. They also add the title Sahib, and imitate the Sawals, a sing-song begging tone of their class. Their leader, Khagda, is implicitly obeyed. He is the treasurer of the gangs, and keeps with him the instruments used in coining, and the necessary metal pieces. But the leader rarely keeps the coins with him. The duty of passing the false coins belongs to the Bhondars. A boy generally accompanies a gang. He is called Handiwal. He acts as a handy chokra (youngster), and also as a watch over the camp when the false coins are being prepared. They generally camp on high ground in close vicinity to water, which serves to receive the false coins and implements, should danger be apprehended. When moving from one camp to another, the Khagda and his chokra travel alone, the former generally riding a small pony. The rest of the gang keep busy passing the coins in the neighbourhood, and eventually join the pair in the place pre-arranged. If the place be found inconvenient for their purpose, another is selected by the Khagda, but sufficient indication is given to the rest that the rendezvous might be found out. This is done by making a mark on the chief pathway leading to the place settled first, at a spot where another pathway leads from it in the direction he is going. The mark consists of a mud heap on the side of the road, a foot in length, six inches in breadth, and six in height, with an arrow mark pointing in the direction taken. The Khagda generally makes three of these marks at intervals of a hundred yards, to avoid the chance of any being effaced. Moulds are made of Multāni or some sticky clay. Gopichandan and badap [19]are also used. The clay, after being powdered and sifted, is mixed with a little water and oil, and well kneaded. The two halves of the mould are then roughly shaped with the hand, and a genuine coin is pressed between them, so as to obtain the obverse on one half and the reverse impression on the other. The whole is then hardened in an extempore oven, and the hole to admit the metal is bored, so as to admit of its being poured in from the edge. The halves are then separated, and the genuine rupee is tilted out; the molten alloy of tin or pewter is poured in, and allowed to cool. According to the other method, badap clay brought from their own country is considered the most suitable for the moulds, though Multāni clay may be used when they run out of badap. Two discs are made from clay kneaded with water. These discs are then highly polished on the inner surface with the top of a jvari stalk called danthal. A rupee, slightly oiled, is then placed between the discs, which are firmly pressed over it. The whole is then thoroughly hardened in the fire. The alloy used in these moulds differs from that used in the others, and consists of an alloy of lead and copper. In both cases, the milling is done by the hand with a knife or a piece of shell. The Chapperbands select their victims carefully. They seem to be fairly clever judges of persons from their physiognomy. They easily find out the duffer and the gull in both sexes, and take care to avoid persons likely to prove too sharp for them. They give preference to women over men. The commonest method is for the Bhondar to show a quantity of copper collected by him in his character of beggar, and ask for silver in its place. The dupe produces a rupee, which he looks at. He then shakes his head sadly, and hands back a counterfeit coin, saying that such coins are not [20]current in his country, and moves on to try the same trick elsewhere. Their dexterity in changing the rupees is very great, the result of long practice when a Handiwal.”

Further information in connection with the Chapparbands has recently been published by Mr. M. Paupa Rao Naidu, from whose account14 the following extract is taken. “Chapperbands, as their name implies, are by profession builders of roofs, or, in a more general term, builders of huts. They are Sheikh Muhammadans, and originally belonged to the Punjab. During the Moghul invasion of the Carnatic, as far back as 1687–88, a large number of them followed the great Moghul army as builders of huts for the men. They appear to have followed the Moghul army to Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, and Seringapatam until the year 1714, when Bijapur passed into the hands of the Peshwas. The Chapperbands then formed part of the Peshwa’s army in the same capacity, and remained as such till the advent of the British in the year 1818, when it would appear a majority of them, finding their peculiar profession not much in demand, returned to the north. A part of those who remained behind passed into the Nizam’s territory, while a part settled down in the Province of Talikota. A legendary tale, narrated before the Superintendent of Police, Raipur, in 1904, by an intelligent Chapperband, shows that they learnt this art of manufacturing coins during the Moghul period. He said ‘In the time of the Moghul Empire, Chapperbands settled in the Bijapur district. At that time, a fakir named Pir Bhai Pir Makhan lived in the same district. One of the Chapperbands went to this fakir, and asked him to intercede with God, in order that Chapperbands might be [21]directed to take up some profession or other. The fakir gave the man a rupee, and asked him to take it to his house quickly, and not to look backwards as he proceeded on his way. As the man ran home, some one called him, and he turned round to see who it was. When he reached his house, he found the rupee had turned into a false one. The man returned to the fakir, and complained that the rupee was a false one. The fakir was much enraged at the man’s account of having looked back as he ran, but afterwards said that Chapperbands would make a living in future by manufacturing false coins. Since that time, Chapperbands have become coiners of false money.’ On every Sunday, they collect all their false rupees, moulds, and other implements, and, placing these in front of them, they worship Pir Makhan, also called Pir Madar. They sacrifice a fowl to him, take out its eyes and tail, and fix them on three thorns of the trees bābul, bir, and thalmakana; and, after the worship is over, they throw them in the direction in which they intend to start. The Chapperbands conceal a large number of rupees in the rectum, long misusage often forming a cavity capable of containing ten to twenty rupees. So also cavities are formed in the mouth below the tongue.”

In a case recorded by Mr. M. Kennedy,15 “when a Chapperband was arrested on suspicion, on his person being examined by the Civil Surgeon, no less than seven rupees were found concealed in a cavity in his rectum. The Civil Surgeon was of opinion that it must have taken some considerable time to form such a cavity.” A similar case came before the Sessions Judge in South Canara a few years ago. [22]

The following case of swindling, which occurred in the Tanjore district, is recorded in the Police Report, 1903. “A gang of Muhammadans professed to be able to duplicate currency notes. The method was to place a note with some blank sheets of paper between two pieces of glass. The whole was then tied round with string and cloth, and smoked over a fire. On opening the packet, two notes were found, a second genuine one having been surreptitiously introduced. The success of the first operations with small notes soon attracted clients, some of them wealthy; and, when the bait had had time to work, and some very large notes had been submitted for operation, the swindlers declared that these large notes took longer to duplicate, and that the packet must not be opened for several days. Before the time appointed for opening, they disappeared, and the notes were naturally not found in the packets. One gentleman was fleeced in this way to the value of Rs. 4,600.” The administration of an enema to a false coiner will sometimes bring to light hidden treasure.

Chaptēgāra.—The Chaptēgāras or Cheptēgāras are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart16 as “carpenters who speak Konkani, and are believed to have come from the Konkan country. Caste affairs are managed by a Gurikar or headman, and the fines collected are paid to the Sringēri math. They wear the sacred thread, and employ Karādi Brāhmans as purōhits. Infant marriage is practised, and widow marriage is not permitted. The dead are burned if means allow; otherwise they are buried. They are Saivites, and worship Durga and Ganapati. They eat flesh and drink liquor. Their titles are Naik, Shenai, etc.” It is noted, in the Madras [23]Census Report, 1901, that Sāraswat Brāhmans will eat with them. Choutagāra has been recorded as a corrupt form of Chaptēgāra.

Charamūrti.—A class of Jangams, who go from village to village preaching.

Chārōdi.—The Chārōdis have been described17 as “Canarese carpenters corresponding to the Konkani Cheptēgāras (or Chaptēgāras), and there is very little difference in the customs and manners of the two castes, except that the former employ Shivalli and Konkanashta Brāhmans instead of Karādis. Their title is Naika.” In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Mēsta is returned as a Konkani-speaking sub-caste of Chārōdi.

Chātla (winnow).—An exogamous sept of Mādiga. Chātla Dhompti occurs as a sub-division of Mādigas, who, at marriages, place the offering of food, etc. (dhompti), in a winnow.

Chatri.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as an equivalent of Kshatriya. It occurs also as the name of an exogamous sept, meaning umbrella, of the Holeyas.

Chaturākshari.—A sub-division of Sātānis, who believe in the efficacy of the four syllables Rā-mā-nu-ja.

Chaudari.—Chaudari, or Chowdari, is recorded as a title of Haddi, Kālingi, and Kōmati.

Chāya (colour) Kurup.—A class of Kollans in Malabar, who work in lacquer.

Chēli (goat).—An exogamous sept of Bottada and Mattiya.

Chēlu (scorpion).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. The equivalent thēlu occurs among the Padma Sālēs. [24]

Chembadi.—The Chembadis are a Telugu caste, the occupations of which are fresh-water fishing, and rowing boats or coracles. In fishing, unlike the Besthas who use a cast-net, they employ a large drag-net, called baithivala, the two ends of which are fastened to poles. When a new net is made, it is folded up, and placed on the edge of a pond or tank. Mud is spread over it, and on it are placed three masses of mud kneaded into a conical shape. These represent the God, and cakes, called kudumulu, are set before them. A male member of the caste, biting one of the cakes and keeping it between his teeth, goes round the net, and then drags it to the water, in which the conical masses become disintegrated. Like the Besthas, they smear a new net with the blood of the first fish caught in it, but they do not burn a mesh of the net.

Some Chembadis regard Gurappa Gurunathadu as their caste deity, and connect him, for some unknown reason, with the jammi tree (Prosopis spicigera). Jammi occurs as the name of a gōtra, and some children are named Gurappa or Gurunathadu. When such children are five, seven, or nine years old, they are taken on an auspicious day to a jammi tree and shaved, after the tree has been worshipped with offerings of cooked food, etc.

At the betrothal ceremony in this caste, immediately after the girl has taken up areca nuts, placed them in her lap, and folded them in her cloth, the headman takes up the betel leaves and areca nuts (thambūlam) before him with crossed hands. This ceremony corresponds to the thonuku thambūlam of the lower classes, e.g., Mālas and Mangalas. Among the Mangalas and Tsākalas, the thambūlam is said to be taken up by a Balija Setti. For the funeral ceremonies, the Chembadis engage a Dāsari [25]of their own caste. During their performances, flesh and toddy may not be offered to the deceased person.

Chembian.—A name assumed by some Pallis or Vanniyans, who claim that they belong to the Chōla race, on the supposition that Chembinādu is a synonym for Chōla.

Chembillam (chembu, copper).—An exogamous section of Mukkuvan.

Chembōtti.—In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that the name Chembōtti is derived from “chembu, copper, and kotti, he who beats.” They are coppersmiths in Malabar, who are distinct from the Malabar Kammālans. They are supposed to be descendants of men who made copper idols for temples, and so rank above the Kammālans in social position, and about equally with the lower sections of the Nāyars. The name is also used as an occupational term by the Konkan Native Christian coppersmiths. In the Cochin and Travancore Census Reports, Chembukotti is recorded as an occupational title or sub-caste of Nāyars who work in copper, chiefly in temples and Brāhman houses.

In the Gazetteer of the Malabar district, the Chembōttis are described as copper-workers, whose traditional business is the roofing of the Sri-kōvil, or inner shrine of the temple with that metal. They are said to have originally formed part of the Kammālan community. “When the great temple at Taliparamba was completed, it was purified on a scale of unprecedented grandeur, no less than a thousand Brāhmans being employed. What was their dismay when the ceremony was well forward, to see a Chembōtti coming from the Sri-kōvil, where he had been putting finishing touches to the roof. This appeared to involve a recommencement of the whole [26]tedious and costly ritual, and the Brāhmans gave vent to their feelings of despair, when a vision from heaven reassured them, and thereafter the Chembōttis have been raised in the social scale, and are not regarded as a polluting caste.”

Chembetti, or Chemmatti, meaning hammer, occurs as an exogamous sept of the Telugu Yānādis.

Chempakarāman.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as an honorific title of Nāyars.

Chenchu.—The Chenchus or Chentsus are a Telugu-speaking jungle tribe inhabiting the hills of the Kurnool and Nellore districts. In a letter addressed to the Bengal Asiatic Society,18 transmitting vocabularies of various tribes inhabiting Vizagapatam, by Mr. Newill, it is stated that “the Chenchu tribe, whose language is almost entirely corrupt Hindi and Urdu with a few exceptions from Bengāli, affords one more example to the many forthcoming of an uncultured aboriginal race having abandoned their own tongue.” The compiler of the Kurnool Manual (1885) remarks that Mr. Newill’s vocabulary “seems to belong to the dialect spoken by Lambādis, who sometimes wander about the hills, and it is not unlikely that he was misled as to the character of the persons from whom his list was taken.” As examples of the words given by Mr. Newill, the following may be quoted:—

  • Bone, had.
  • Cat, billeyi.
  • Ear, kān.
  • Elephant, hate.
  • Tiger, bāg.
  • One, yek.
  • Ten, das.
  • Far, dūr.
  • Drink, pi.
  • Sweet, mithā.

It is probable that Mr. Newill confused the Chenchus with the Bonthuk Savaras (q.v.) who speak corrupt [27]Oriya, and are called Chenchu vāndlu, and, like the Chenchus, believe that the god Narasimha of Ahōbilam married a girl belonging to their tribe. As a further example of the confusion concerning the Chenchus, I may quote the remarks of Buchanan19 about the Irulas, who are a Tamil-speaking jungle tribe: “In this hilly tract there is a race of men called by the other natives Cad Eriligaru, but who call themselves Cat Chensu. The language of the Chensu is a dialect of the Tamil, with occasionally a few Karnata or Telinga words intermixed, but their accent is so different from that of Madras that my servants did not at first understand what they said. Their original country, they say, is the Animalaya forest below the ghāts, which is confirmed by their dialect.” In the Census Report, 1901, Chenchu is said to be the name by which Irulas of North Arcot and the Mysore plateau are called sometimes, and, in the Census Report, 1891, Chenchu is given as a sub-division of the Yānādis. There can be little doubt that the Chenchus and Yānādis are descended from the same original stock. Mackenzie, in the local records collected by him, speaks of the Chenchus as being called Yānādi Chenchus. The Chenchus themselves at the present day say that they and the Yānādis are one and the same, and that the tribes intermarry.

In Scott’s ‘Ferishta,’ the Chenchus are described as they appeared before Prince Muhammad Masúm, a son of Aurangzib, who passed through the Kurnool district in 1694, as “exceedingly black, with long hair, and on their heads wore caps made of the leaves of trees. Each man had with him unbarbed arrows and a bow for hunting. They molest no one, and live in caverns or [28]under the shady branches of trees. The prince presented some of them with gold and silver, but they did not seem to put any value on either, being quite unconcerned at receiving it. Upon the firing of a gun, they darted up the mountains with a surprising swiftness uncommon to man. In Taylor’s ‘Catalogue raisonné of Oriental Manuscripts,’ the Chenchus are described as people who “live to the westward of Ahōbalam, Srisailam, and other places, in the woods or wilds, and go about, constantly carrying in their hands bows and arrows. They clothe themselves with leaves, and live on the sago or rice of the bamboo. They rob travellers, killing them if they oppose. This people afflict every living creature (kill for food is supposed to be meant).” It is noted in the Kurnool Manual that in former times the Chenchu headman used to “dispose of murder cases, the murderer, on proof of guilt, being put to death with the same weapons with which the murder was committed.20 Captain Newbold, writing in 1846, says that, passing through the jungle near Pacharla, he observed a skull bleached by the sun dangling from the branch of a tamarind tree, which he was informed was that of a murderer and hill-robber put to death by the headman. In the time of the Nabobs, some of the Chenchu murderers were caught and punished, but the practice seems to have prevailed among them more or less till the introduction of the new police in 1860, since which time all cases are said to be reported to the nearest police officer.”

A Chenchu Taliāri (village watchman), who came to see me at Nandyal, was wearing a badge with his name engraved on it in Telugu, which had been presented to [29]him by Government in recognition of his shooting with a double-barrelled gun two Donga Oddes who had robbed a village. Another aged Taliāri had a silver bangle bearing a Telugu inscription, which had been given to him in acknowledgment of his capturing a murderer who was wanted by the police, and came to his hut. The casual visitor explained that he was on his way to Hyderabad, but the Chenchu, noticing blood on his clothes, tied him to a post, and gave information that he had secured him. The same man had also received presents for reporting cases of illicit distillation under the Abkāri Act.



In recent accounts of the Chenchus of the Nallamalai hills by a forest officer, it is noted that pilgrims, on their way to the Srisailam temple, “are exploited at every turn, the Chentzu being seen in his true colours at this period, and, being among the most active agents in the exactions, but not being by any means the only plunderer. In return for the protection, the Chentzu levies a toll per head, and as much more as he can extort. We had to interfere with the perquisites of one drugged specimen of this race, who drew a knife on a peon (orderly), and had to be sent down under escort.... It is commonly supposed that the Chentzus are a semi-wild, innocent, inoffensive hill tribe, living on roots, honey, wild fruits, and game. If this was so, we should have no difficulty in controlling them. They are actually a semi-wild, lazy, drinking set of brigands. They levy blackmail from every village along the foot of the hills, and, if any ryot (cultivator) refuses to pay up, his crop silently disappears on some moonless night. They levy blackmail from every pilgrim to the shrines in the hills. They levy blackmail from the graziers in the hills. They borrow money from Kōmatis and Buniahs (merchants [30]and money-lenders), and repay it in kind—stolen timber, minor forest produce, etc. They are constantly in debt to the Kōmatis, and are practically their slaves as regards the supply of timber and other forest produce. They think nothing of felling a tree in order to collect its fruits, and they fire miles of forest in order to be able to collect with ease certain minor produce, or to trace game. They poison the streams throughout the hills, and in short do exactly as they please throughout the length and breadth of the Nallamalais.” The Conservator of Forests expressed his belief that this picture was not overdrawn, and added that the Chenchus are “a danger to the forest in many ways, and I have always thought it a pity that they were given some of the rights at settlement, which stand against their names. These rights were—

  • (1) Rights of way, and to carry torches.
  • (2) Rights to draw and drink water from, wash or bathe in all streams, springs, wells and pools.
  • (3) Rights to forest produce for home use.
  • (4) Rights to fish and shoot.
  • (5) Rights to graze a limited number of cattle, sheep and goats.
  • (6) Rights to collect for sale or barter certain minor produce.

In connection with right (3), the District Forest Officer suggested that “the quantity to be taken annually must be limited, especially in the case of wood, bamboos, fibre, firewood and honey. The quality of the wood and of other forest produce should be defined. Chenchus do not require teak or ebony beams or yegi (Pterocarpus Marsupium) spokes and felloes for domestic purposes; but, as the right now stands, they can fell whatever they like, and, though we may know it is for sale to merchants, the Chenchus have only to say it is for domestic use, and they cannot be punished. The wood [31]should be limited to poles and smaller pieces of third-class and unclassified trees.”

In 1898 the Governor in Council made the following rules for regulating the exercise of the rights of the Chenchus living in the reserved forests on the Nallamalais:—

1. The carrying of torches, and the lighting of fires in fire-protected blocks during the fire season are prohibited.

2. There shall be no right to wash or bathe in such springs, wells, pools or portions of streams as are especially set apart for drinking purposes by the District Forest Officer.

3. No more than the quantity which the Collector may consider to be actually required for domestic use shall be removed in the exercise of the right to take wood, bamboos, fibre, thatching grass, firewood, roots, fruits, honey and other forest produce. The term “other forest produce” shall be taken to mean other minor forest produce, not including tusks and horns. No wood other than poles and smaller pieces of third class and unclassified trees shall be removed.

4. No gudem (Chenchu village) shall, without the special permission of the Collector, be allowed to keep a larger number of guns than that for which licenses had been taken out at the time of settlement. Every gun covered by a license shall be stamped with a distinctive mark or number. The use of poison and explosives in water, and the setting of cruives or fixed engines, or snares for the capture or destruction of fish, are strictly prohibited.

5. For purposes of re-generation, a portion of the area set apart for the grazing of cattle, not exceeding one-fifth, may be closed to grazing at any time, and [32]for such length of time as the District Forest Officer deems fit.

6. The right of pre-emption of all minor forest produce collected by the Chenchus for sale or barter shall be reserved to the Forest department. The exercise of the right of collecting wood and other produce for domestic use, and of collecting minor produce for sale or barter, shall be confined to natural growth, and shall not include forest produce which is the result of special plantation or protection on the part of the Forest department.

In connection with a scheme for dealing with the minor forest produce in the Nallamalais, the Conservator of Forests wrote as follows in 1905. “I believe that it is generally recognised that it is imperative to obtain the good-will of the Chenchus even at a considerable loss, both from a political and from a forest point of view; the latter being that, if we do not do so, the whole of the Nallamalai forests will, at a not very remote date, be utterly destroyed by fire. The Chenchus, being a most abnormal type of men, must be treated in an abnormal way; and the proposals are based, therefore, on the fundamental principle of allowing the two District Forest Officers a very free hand in dealing with these people. What is mainly asked for is to make an experiment, of endeavouring to get the Chenchus to collect minor produce for the department, the District Forest Officers being allowed to fix the remuneration as they like, in money or barter, as they may from time to time find on the spot to be best.” In commenting on the scheme, the Board of Revenue stated that “action on the lines proposed is justified by the present state of the Nallamalais. These valuable forests certainly stand in danger of rapid destruction by fire, and, according to [33]the local officers, the Chenchus are almost entirely responsible. The department has at present no means of bringing influence to bear on the Chenchus, or securing their assistance in putting out fires. Repressive measures will be worse than useless, as the Chenchus will merely hide themselves, and do more damage than ever. The only way of getting into touch with them is to enforce the right of pre-emption in the matter of minor produce reserved to Government at the time of forest settlement, and by dealing with them in a just and generous way to secure their confidence. If this is achieved, the department may hope to secure their co-operation and valuable assistance in preventing jungle fires. The department can certainly afford to sell at a profit, and at the same time give the Chenchus better prices than the sowcars (money-lenders), who are said invariably to cheat them. The Board believes that the ultimate loss from advances will not be serious, as advances will ordinarily be small in amount, except in cases where they may be required by Chenchus to pay off sowcars. It will be well, therefore, if the Collector and the District Forest Officers will ascertain as soon as possible how much the Chenchus are indebted to the sowcars, as it will probably be necessary for the success of the scheme to liquidate these debts.”

From a note on the Chenchus of the Nallamalai hills, I gather that “a striking contrast is afforded between those who inhabit the belt of forest stretching from Venkatapuram to Bairnuti, and those who dwell in the jungle on the skirts of the great trunk road, which formed the chief means of communication between the principal towns until the Southern Mahratta railway diverted traffic into another channel. In the former we behold the Chenchu semi-civilised and clothed. He [34]possesses flocks and herds, smiling fields and even gardens, and evinces an aptitude for barter. The superiority of the Bairnuti Chenchu has been brought about by the influence, example, labours, and generosity of a single Englishman, who built a substantial stone dwelling in the depths of the great Bairnuti forest. There also he erected indigo vats, and planted indigo, and a grove of choice mango grafts, orange and lime trees. He bought buffaloes, and by careful selection and breeding evolved a magnificent type. These buffaloes have now become almost entirely fruit-eaters, and are engaged in seeking for and devouring the forest fruits, which—particularly the mowhra and forest fig—litter the ground in vast quantities. This habit of fruit-eating imparts to their milk a peculiarly rich nutty flavour, and the cream is of abnormally rich quality. The Chenchus manufacture this into ghee (clarified butter), which they turn to profitable account. The brethren of the Bairnuti Chenchus dwelling in the forest of Pacherla present very different conditions of life. They accentuate their nakedness by a narrow bark thread bound round the waist, into which are thrust their arrows and knife. This is their full dress. The hair, they aver, is the great and natural covering of mankind. Why, therefore, violate the ordinary laws of nature by inventing supererogatory clothing? A missionary sportsman was fairly non-plussed by these arguments, particularly when his interlocutors pointed to a celebrated pass or gorge, through which the amorous Kristna is averred to have pursued and captured a fascinating Chenchu damsel. ‘You see,’ said the Chenchu logician, ‘the beauty of her form was so manifest in its rude simplicity that even the god could not resist it.’ En passant it may be noted that, when a Chenchu wishes to express superlative [35]admiration of a belle, he compares her to a monkey. In his eyes, the supremest beauty of femininity is agility. The girl who can shin up a lofty tree, and bring him down fruit to eat is the acme of feminine perfection. ‘Ah, my sweet monkey girl,’ said a demoralised Chenchu, who was too idle to climb up a tree himself, ‘she has been climbing trees all day, and throwing me fruit. There is not a man in the forest who can climb like my monkey girl.’ The Chenchus are wisely employed by the authorities as road-police or Taliāris, to prevent highway dacoities. This is an astute piece of diplomacy. The Chenchus themselves are the only dacoits thereabouts, and the salary paid them as road-police is virtually blackmail to induce them to guarantee the freedom of the forest highways. The Chenchu barters the produce of the forests in which he lives, namely, honey and wax, deer horns and hides, tamarinds, wood apples (Feronia elephantum), and mowhra (Bassia latifolia) fruit and flowers, and realises a very considerable income from these sources. He reaps annually a rich harvest of hides and horns. The sāmbur (Cervus unicolor) and spotted deer (Cervus axis) shed their horns at certain seasons. These horns are hidden in the rank luxuriant grass. But, when the heat of the dry weather has withered it, the Chenchu applies fire to it by rubbing two dried sticks together, and, walking in the wake of the flames, picks up the horns disclosed to view by the reduction of the vegetation to ashes. He supplements this method with his bow and rifle, and by the latter means alone obtains his hides. The Chenchu is every bit as bad a shot as the average aboriginal. He rarely stalks, but, when he does, he makes up by his skill in woodcraft for his inexpertness with his gun. He understands the importance of not giving the deer a slant of [36]his wind, and, if they catch a glimpse of him, he will stand motionless and black as the tree trunks around. The ambush by the salt-lick or water-hole, however, is his favourite method of sport. Here, fortified with a supply of the pungent-smelling liquor which he illicitly distils from the mowhra flower he will lie night and day ruthlessly murdering sāmbur, spotted deer, nilgai (Boselaphus tràgocamelus); four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis). Tigers often stalk down, and drink and roll in the pool, but the Chenchu dares not draw a bead on him. Perhaps the indifference of his shooting, of which he is conscious, deters him.” When in danger from tigers or leopards, the Chenchus climb a tree, and shout. The Chenchus recognise two distinct varieties of leopards called chirra puli and chirta puli, concerning which Blanford writes as follows.21 “Most of the sportsmen who have hunted in Central India, and many native shikāris (sportsmen) distinguish two forms, and in parts of the country there is some appearance of two races—a larger form that inhabits the hills and forests, and a smaller form commonly occurring in patches of grass and bushes amongst cultivated fields and gardens. The larger form is said to have a shorter tail, a longer head with an occipital crest, and clearly defined spots on a paler ground-colour. The smaller form has a comparatively longer tail, a rounder head, less clearly defined spots, and rougher fur. I cannot help suspecting that the difference is very often due to age.”

Chenchu tree-climbing.

Chenchu tree-climbing.

A Chenchu who was asked by me whether they kill wild beasts replied that they are wild beasts themselves. In devouring a feast of mutton provided for those who were my guests in camp, they certainly behaved as such, [37]gnawing at the bones and tearing off the flesh. To the Chenchus a feast, on however liberal a scale the food may be, is nothing without a copious supply of toddy, of which even infants receive a small share. In the absence of toddy, they sometimes manufacture illicit liquor from the flower-buds of the mahua (or mowhra) tree. The man who gained the prize (a coarse cotton cloth) in a shooting match with bow and arrow, with the head of a straw scarecrow as bull’s-eye, was in an advanced stage of intoxication, and used his success as an argument in favour of drink. In a long distance shooting match, the prize was won with a carry of 144 yards, the arrow being shot high into the air. It was noted by Captain Newbold that the Chenchus are not remarkably expert as archers, to judge from the awkwardness they exhibited in dispatching an unfortunate sheep picketed for them at forty yards, which was held out to them as the prize for the best marksman. Some time ago a Chenchu, who was the bully of his settlement, beat another Chenchu and his wife. The injured man appealed to the District Forest Officer, and, explaining that he knew the law did not allow him to kill his enemy, applied for a written permit to go after him with a bow and arrow.



Some Chenchus bear on the head a cap made of wax-cloth, deer or hare skin. By the more fashionable the tufted ear or bushy tail-end of the large Indian squirrel (Sciurus Indicus) is attached by way of ornament to the string with which the hair of the head is tied into a bunch behind. Leafy garments have been replaced by white loin-cloths, and some of the women have adopted the ravikē (bodice), in imitation of the female costume in the plains. Boys, girls, and women wear bracelets made of Phœnix or palmyra palm leaves. By some pieces of stick strung on a thread, or seeds of Givotia [38]rottleriformis, are worn as a charm to ward off various forms of pain. Some of the women are tattooed on the forehead, corners of the eyes, and arms. And I saw a few men tattooed on the shoulder as a cure for rheumatism.

The huts of which a present day gudem is composed are either in the shape of bee-hives like those of the Yānādis, or oblong with sloping roof, and situated in a grove near a pond or stream. The staple food of the Chenchus consists of cereals, supplemented by yams (Dioscorea) which are uprooted with a digging-stick tipped with iron, forest fruits, and various animals such as peacock, crow, lizard (Varanus), bear, and black monkey. They are very fond of the young flowers and buds of the mahua tree, and tamarind fruits, the acidity of which is removed by mixing with them the ashes of the bark of the same tree.

The forest products collected by the Chenchus include myrabolams, fruits of the tamarind, Semecarpus anacardiúm, Sapindus trifoliatus (soap-nut), Buchanania latifolia, Buchanania angustifolia, and Ficus glomerata; roots of Aristolochia Indica and Hemidesmus Indicus; seeds of Abrus precatorius; flowers of Bassia latifolia; horns, and honey.

The Chenchus recognise two kinds of bees, large and small, and gather honey from nests in trees or rocks. It is stated in the Cuddapah Manual that “the Yenādis or Chenchus alone are able to climb miraculously into difficult and apparently inaccessible places, and over perpendicular cliffs in some places from a hundred to two hundred feet high. This they do by means of a plaited rope made of young bamboos tied together. Accidents sometimes happen by the rope giving way. It is a nervous sight to watch [39]them climbing up and down this frail support. From below the men look like little babies hanging midway. The rope being fastened on the top of the cliff by means of a peg driven into the ground or by a tree, the man swings suspended in the air armed with a basket and a stick. The Chenchu first burns some brushwood or grass under the hive, which is relinquished by most of the bees. This accomplished, he swings the rope, until it brings him close to the hive, which he pokes with his stick, at the same time holding out his basket to catch the pieces broken off from the hive. When the basket is full, he shakes the rope, and is drawn up (generally by his wife’s brother). The bamboo ropes are never taken away; nor are they used a second time, a fresh one being made on each occasion, and at each place. They are to be seen hanging for years, until they decay and fall down of themselves.”

Like other Telugu classes, the Chenchus have exogamous septs or intipēru, of which the following are examples:—gurram (horse), arati (plantain tree), mānla (trees), tōta (garden), mēkala (goats), indla (houses), savaram (sovereign, gold coin), and gundam (pit).

Of the marriage customs the following account is given in the Kurnool Manual. “The Chenchus do not follow a uniform custom in respect to marriage ceremonies. Their marriage is performed in three ways. A man wishing to marry selects his own bride, and both retire for one night by mutual consent from the gudem. On the following morning, when they return, their parents invite their friends and relatives, and by formally investing them with new clothes, declare them duly married. To complete the ceremony, a meal is given to those assembled. The second method is as follows. A small space, circular in form, is cleaned and besmeared [40]with cowdung. In the centre a bow and arrow tied together are fixed in the ground, and the bride and bridegroom are made to move round it, when the men assembled bless them by throwing some rice over them, and the marriage is complete. According to the third mode, a Brāhmin is consulted by the elders of the family. An auspicious day is fixed, and a raised pial (platform) is formed, on which the bride and bridegroom being seated, a tāli (marriage badge) is tied, and rice poured over their heads. The services of the Brāhmin are engaged for three or four days, and are rewarded with a piece of new cloth and some money. This ceremony resembles that of the ryot (cultivating) class among the Hindus. It is evidently a recent Brahminical innovation. On marriage occasions generally tom-toms, if available, are beaten, and a dance takes place.” In the second form of marriage, as described to me, the bride and bridegroom sit opposite each other with four arrows stuck in the ground between them. In Mackenzie’s record it is stated that the Chenchus make the bridal pair sit with a single arrow between them, and, when there is no shadow, some elderly men and women throw rice over their heads. The importance of the arrow with the Chenchus, as with the Yānādis, is that the moment when it casts no shadow is the auspicious time for the completion of the marriage rite. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and the second husband is said to be in most cases a brother of the deceased one.

As an example of the Chenchu songs, the following marriage song, sung by two men and a woman, and recorded by my phonograph, may be cited:—

The tāli was of āvaram22 leaves,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus. [41]

The bashingham23 was made of the leaf of a wild tree,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Wild turmeric was used for the kankanam24,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Wearing a garment made of the leaves of the pāru tree,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Wearing a bodice made of the leaves of the pannu tree,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Roaming over inaccessible hills,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Wandering through dense forests,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Committing acts that ought not to be done,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Ōbalēsa’s marriage was celebrated,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

A four-cornered dais was made,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

On the dais arrows were stuck,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Bamboo rice was used to throw on the heads of the pair,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

Cocoanut cups were stuck on the points of the arrow,

Oh! the lord of the Chenchus.

The marriage was thus celebrated.

At a dance in my honour, men and women executed a series of step dances in time with a drum (thappata) resembling a big tambourine, which, at the conclusion of each dance, was passed to and fro through a blazing fire of cholum straw to bring it up to the proper pitch. An elderly hag went through a variety of gesticulations like those of a Dēva-dāsi (dancing-girl). A man dressed up in straw and fragments of mats picked up near my camp, and another disguised as a woman, with bells round his ankles, supplied the comic business.

Chencu dance.

Chencu dance.


In the Kurnool Manual it is stated that “as soon as a child is born, the umbilical cord is cut (with a knife or arrow), and the child is washed in cold or hot water, according as the season is hot or cold. On the third day, all the women of the tribe are invited, and served with betel nut. On the fourth day, an old woman gives a name to the child. The baby is generally laid in a cradle made of deer skins, and suspended from a bamboo by means of strings or dusara creepers.”

The dead are carried to the burial-place in a cloth slung on a pole. The body, after it has been laid in the grave, is covered over with leafy twigs, and the grave is filled in. The spot is marked by a mound of earth and stones piled up. On the second or third day, some cooked food is offered to the soul of the deceased person, near the grave, and, after some of it has been set apart for the crows, the remainder is buried in the mound or within the grave. The same rite is repeated after the eighth day.

The Chenchus are said25, like the Yānādis, to worship a god called Chenchu Dēvata, to whom offerings of honey and fruits are sometimes made. They believe, as has been mentioned already, that the god Narasimha of Ahōbilam, whom they call Ōbalēsudu, carried off a beautiful Chenchu girl, named Chenchita, and married her. To prevent the occurrence of a similar fate to other females of the tribe, Chenchita ordained that they should in future be born ugly, and be devoid of personal charms. The Chenchus claim Ōbalēsudu as their brother-in-law, and, when they go to the temple for the annual festival, carry cloths as presents for the god and goddess. The legend of their origin is told as follows [43]by Captain Newbold. “Previous to the incarnation of Sri Krishna in the Dwapara Yug (the third of the great ages), the Chenchwars were shepherds of the Yerra Golla caste. Obal Iswara, the swāmi (deity) of Obalam, a celebrated hill shrine in the Nalla Mallas, having taken away and kept as a Chenchita a maid of the Yerra Golla family, begat upon her children, of whom they are descendants.” Among other minor deities, the Chenchus are said to worship Ankalamma, Potu Rāzu, Sunkalamma, Mallamma, and Guruppa.

In the absence of lucifer matches, the Chenchus make fire with flint and steel, and the slightly charred floss of the white cotton tree, Eriodendron anfractuosum, I am informed that, like the Paniyans of Malabar, they also obtain fire by friction, by means of the horizontal or sawing method, with two pieces of split bamboo.

Some Chenchus still exhibit the primitive short stature and high nasal index, which are characteristic of other jungle tribes such as the Kādirs, Paniyans, and Kurumbas. But there is a very conspicuous want of uniformity in their physical characters, and many individuals are to be met with, above middle height or tall, with long narrow noses. A case is noted in the Kurnool Manual, in which a brick-maker married a Chenchu girl. And I was told of a Bōya man who had married into the tribe, and was living in a gudem. In this way is the pure type of Chenchu metamorphosed.

Stature, cm. Nasal index.
162.5 175 149.6 81.9 95.7 68.1

By the dolichocephalic type of head which has persisted, and which the Chenchus possess in common [44]with various other jungle tribes, they are, as shown by the following table, at once differentiated from the mesaticephalic dwellers in the plains near the foot of the Nallamalais:—

Cephalic Index. Number of cases in which index exceeded 80.
40 Chenchus 74.3 1
60 Gollas 77.5 9
50 Boyas 77.9 14
39 Tota Balijas 78. 10
49 Motāti Kapus 78. 16
19 Upparas 78.8 4
16 Mangalas 78.8 7
17 Yerukalas 78.6 6
12 Mēdaras 80.7 8

The visual acuity of the Chenchus was tested with Cohn’s letter E, No. 6. For clinical purposes, the visual acuity would be represented by a fraction, of which 6 is the denominator, and the number of metres at which the position of the letter was recognised by the individual tested is the numerator, e.g.,

V.A. = 13m/6 = 2.16.

The average distances in metres, at which the letter was recognised by the various castes and tribes examined by myself and Dr. W. H. R. Rivers, were as follows:—

16 Shōlagas (Rivers) 12.9
94 Kotas 12.8
180 Badagas 12.6
50 Paraiyans 12.5
58 Telugu ryats 12.4
28 Chenchus 12.3
55 Urālis (Rivers) 12.2
30 Brāhmans, Mysore 12.2
30 Non-Brāhmans, Mysore 12.2


In all classes, it may be noted, the average acuity was between 12 and 13 metres (13 to 14 yards), and ranged between V.A. = 2·15 and V.A. = 2·03. The maxima distances, at which the position of the letter was recognised, were:—Shōlaga, 18m; Paraiyan, 19m; Badaga and Dīkshitar Brāhman, 20m. No cases of extraordinary hyper-acuity were met with. The nine classes, or groups of classes examined, cover a wide range of degrees of civilisation from the wild jungle Chenchus, Shōlagas, and Urālis, to the cultured Brāhman. And, though the jungle man, who has to search for his food and mark the tracks and traces of wild beasts, undoubtedly possesses a specially trained keenness of vision for the exigencies of his primitive life, the figures show that, as regards ordinary visual acuity, he has no advantage over the more highly civilised classes.

There were, in 1904–05, two Board upper primary schools for the Chenchus of the Kurnool district, which were attended by seventy-three pupils, who were fed and clothed, and supplied with books and slates free of charge.

Chēnu (dry field).—An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Chēppāt.—A sub-division of Mārān.

Chērukāra.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Cheruku.—Cheruku (sugar-cane) or Cherukula has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Bōya, Jōgi and Odde.

Cheruman.—The Cherumans or Cherumukkal have been defined as a Malayālam caste of agricultural serfs, and as members of an inferior caste in Malabar, who are, as a rule, toilers attached to the soil. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, it is stated that “this caste is called Cheruman in South Malabar and Pulayan [46]in North Malabar. Even in South Malabar where they are called Cheruman, a large sub-division numbering over 30,000 is called Pula Cheruman. The most important of the sub-divisions returned are Kanakkan, Pula Cheruman, Erālan, Kūdān and Rōlan. Kanakkan and Pula Cheruman are found in all the southern tāluks, Kūdān almost wholly in Walluvanād, and Erālan in Pālghat and Walluvanād.” In the Census Report, 1901, Ālan (slave), and Paramban are given as sub-castes of Cheruman.

According to one version, the name Cheruma or Cheramakkal signifies sons of the soil; and, according to another, Cheriamakkal means little children, as Parasurāma directed that they should be cared for, and treated as such. The word Pulayan is said to be derived from pula, meaning pollution.

Of the Cherumans, the following account is given in the Gazetteer of Malabar. “They are said to be divided into 39 divisions, the more important of which are the Kanakka Cherumans, the Pula Cherumans or Pulayas, the Era Cherumans or Erālans, the Rōli Cherumans or Rōlans, and the Kūdāns. Whether these sub-divisions should be treated as separate castes or not, it is hardly possible to determine; some of them at least are endogamous groups, and some are still further sub-divided. Thus the Pulayas of Chirakkal are said to be divided into one endogamous and eleven exogamous groups, called Māvadan, Elamanām, Tacchakudiyan, Kundatōn, Cheruvulan, Mulattan, Tālan, Vannatam, Eramālōdiyan, Mullaviriyan, Egudan, and Kundōn. Some at least of these group names obviously denote differences of occupation. The Kundōtti, or woman of the last group, acts as midwife; and in consequence the group is considered to convey pollution by touch to [47]members of the other groups, and they will neither eat nor marry with those belonging to it. Death or birth pollution is removed by a member of the Māvadan class called Maruttan, who sprinkles cowdung mixed with water on the feet, and milk on the head of the person to be purified. At weddings, the Maruttan receives 32 fanams, the prescribed price of a bride, from the bridegroom, and gives it to the bride’s people. The Era Cherumans and Kanakkans, who are found only in the southern tāluks of the district, appear to be divided into exogamous groups called Kūttams, many of which seem to be named after the house-name of the masters whom they serve. The Cherumans are almost solely employed as agricultural labourers and coolies; but they also make mats and baskets.”

It is noted26 by Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer that “from traditions current among the Pulayas, it would appear that, once upon a time, they had dominion over several parts of the country. A person called Aikkara Yajaman, whose ancestors were Pulaya kings, is still held in considerable respect by the Pulayas of North Travancore, and acknowledged as their chieftain and lord, while the Aikkaranād in the Kunnethnād tāluk still remains to lend colour to the tale. In Trivandrum, on the banks of the Velli lake, is a hill called Pulayanar Kotta, where it is believed that a Pulaya king once ruled. In other places, they are also said to have held sway. As a Paraya found at Melkota the image of Selvapillai, as a Savara was originally in possession of the sacred stone which became the idol in the temple of Jaganath, so also is the worship of Padmanābha at Trivandrum intimately connected with a Pulayan. Once a Pulaya [48]woman, who was living with her husband in the Ananthan kādu (jungle), suddenly heard the cry of a baby. She rushed to the spot, and saw to her surprise a child lying on the ground, protected by a snake. She took pity on it, and nursed it like her own child. The appearance of the snake intimated to her the divine origin of the infant. This proved to be true, for the child was an incarnation of Vishnu. As soon as the Rāja of Travancore heard of the wonderful event, he built a shrine on the spot where the baby had been found, and dedicated it to Padmanābha. The Pulayas round Trivandrum assert to this day that, in former times, a Pulaya king ruled, and had his castle not far from the present capital of Travancore. The following story is also current among them. The Pulayas got from the god Siva a boon, with spade and axe, to clear forests, own lands, and cultivate them. When other people took possession of them, they were advised to work under them.”

According to Mr. Logan,27 the Cherumans are of two sections, one of which, the Iraya, are of slightly higher social standing than the Pulayan. “As the names denote, the former are permitted to come as far as the eaves (ira) of their employers’ houses, while the latter name denotes that they convey pollution to all whom they meet or approach.” The name Cheruman is supposed to be derived from cheru, small, the Cheruman being short of stature, or from chera, a dam or low-lying rice field. Mr. Logan, however, was of opinion that there is ample evidence that “the Malabar coast at one time constituted the kingdom or Empire of Chēra, and the nād or county of Chēranād lying on the coast and inland south-east of Calicut remains to the present day [49]to give a local habitation to the ancient name. Moreover, the name of the great Emperor of Malabar, who is known to every child on the coast as Chēramān Perumal, was undoubtedly the title and not the name of the Emperor, and meant the chief (literally, big man) of the Chēra people.”

Of the history of slavery in Malabar an admirable account is given by Mr. Logan, from which the following extracts are taken. “In 1792, the year in which British rule commenced, a proclamation was issued against dealing in slaves. In 1819, the principal Collector wrote a report on the condition of the Cherumar, and received orders that the practice of selling slaves for arrears of revenue be immediately discontinued. In 1821, the Court of Directors expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the lack of precise information which had been vouchsafed to them, and said ‘We are told that part of the cultivators are held as slaves: that they are attached to the soil, and marketable property.’ In 1836, the Government ordered the remission in the Collector’s accounts of Rs. 927–13–0, which was the annual revenue from slaves on the Government lands in Malabar, and the Government was at the same time ‘pleased to accede to the recommendation in favour of emancipating the slaves on the Government lands in Malabar.’ In 1841, Mr. E. B. Thomas, the Judge at Calicut, wrote in strong terms a letter to the Sadr Adālat, in which he pointed out that women in some tāluks (divisions) fetched higher prices, in order to breed slaves; that the average cost of a young male under ten years was about Rs. 3–8–0, of a female somewhat less; that an infant ten months old was sold in a court auction for Rs. 1–10–6 independent of the price of its mother; and that, in a recent suit, the right to twenty-seven slaves [50]was the ‘sole matter of litigation, and was disposed of on its merits.’ In a further letter, Mr. Thomas pointed out that the slaves had increased in numbers from 144,000 at the Census, 1835, to 159,000 at the Census, 1842. It was apparently these letters which decided the Board of Directors to send out orders to legislate. And the Government of India passed Act V of 1843, of which the provisions were widely published through Malabar. The Collector explained to the Cherumar that it was in their interest, as well as their duty, to remain with their masters, if kindly treated. He proclaimed that ‘the Government will not order a slave who is in the employ of an individual to forsake him and go to the service of another claimant; nor will the Government interfere with the slave’s inclination as to where he wishes to work.’ And again, ‘Any person claiming a slave as janmam, kānam or panayam, the right of such claim or claims will not be investigated into at any one of the public offices or courts.’ In 1852, and again in 1855, the fact that traffic in slaves still continued was brought to the notice of Government, but on full consideration no further measures for the emancipation of the Cherumar were deemed to be necessary. The Cherumar even yet have not realised what public opinion in England would probably have forced down their throats fifty years ago, and there is reason to think that they are still, even now, with their full consent bought and sold and hired out, although, of course, the transaction must be kept secret for fear of the penalties of the Penal Code, which came into force in 1862, and was the real final blow at slavery in India. The slaves, however, as a caste will never understand what real freedom means, until measures are adopted to give them indefeasible rights in the small orchards occupied by them as house-sites.” It is noted by [51]Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer that “though slavery has been abolished many years ago, the name valliyal (a person receiving valli, i.e., paddy given to a slave) still survives.”

By the Penal Code it is enacted that—

Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, or disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives, or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Whoever habitually imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, traffics or deals in slaves, shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, and shall be liable to a fine.

Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with a fine, or with both.

“Very low indeed,” Mr. S. Appadorai Iyer writes,28 “is the social position of these miserable beings. When a Cherumar meets a person of superior caste; he must stand at a distance of thirty feet. If he comes within this prohibited distance, his approach is said to cause pollution, which is removed only by bathing in water. A Cherumar cannot approach a Brāhman village or temple, or tank. If he does so, purification becomes necessary. Even while using the public road, if he sees his lord and master, he has to leave the ordinary way and walk, it may be in the mud, to avoid his displeasure by accidentally polluting him. To avoid polluting the passer-by, he repeats the unpleasant sound ‘O, oh, O—’. [In some places, e.g., Palghāt, one may often see a Cheruman with a dirty piece of cloth spread [52]on the roadside, and yelling in a shrill voice ‘Ambrāne, Ambarāne, give me some pice, and throw them on the cloth.’] His position is intolerable in the Native States of Cochin and Travancore, where Brāhman influence is in the ascendant; while in the Palghāt tāluk the Cherumars cannot, even to this day, enter the bazaar.” A melancholy picture has been drawn of the Cherumans tramping along the marshes in mud, often wet up to their waists, to avoid polluting their superiors. In 1904, a Cheruman came within polluting distance of a Nāyar, and was struck with a stick. The Cheruman went off and fetched another, whereupon the Nāyar ran away. He was, however, pursued by the Cherumans. In defending himself with a spade, the Nāyar struck the foremost Cheruman on the head, and killed him.29 In another case, a Cheruman, who was the servant of a Māppilla, was fetching grass for his master, when he inadvertently approached some Tiyans, and thereby polluted them. The indignant Tiyans gave not only the Cheruman, but his master also, a sound beating by way of avenging the insult offered to them.

The status of the Pulayas of the Cochin State is thus described by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. “They abstain from eating food prepared by the Velakkathalavans (barbers), Mannans (washermen), Pānāns, Vettuvans, Parayans, Nayādis, Ulladans, Malayans, and Kādars. The Pulayas in the southern parts of the State have to stand at a distance of 90 feet from Brāhmans and 64 feet from Nāyars, and this distance gradually diminishes towards the lower castes. They are polluted by Pula Cherumas, Parayas, Nayādis, and Ulladans. [The Pula Cherumas are said to eat beef, and sell the [53]hides of cattle.] The Kanakka Cherumas of the Chittūr tāluk pollute Era Cherumas and Konga Cherumas by touch, and by approach within a distance of seven or eight feet, and are themselves polluted by Pula Cherumas, Parayas, and Vettuvans, who have to stand at the same distance. Pulayas and Vettuvans bathe when they approach one another, for their status is a point of dispute as to which is superior to the other. When defiled by the touch of a Nayādi, a Cheruman has to bathe in seven tanks, and let a few drops of blood flow from one of his fingers. A Brāhman who enters the compound of a Pulayan has to change his holy thread, and take panchagavyam (the five products of the cow) so as to be purified from pollution. The Valluva Pulayan of the Trichūr tāluk fasts for three days, if he happens to touch a cow that has been delivered of a calf. He lives on toddy and tender cocoanuts. He has also to fast three days after the delivery of his wife.” In ordinary conversation in Malabar, such expressions as Tiya-pād or Cheruma-pād (that is, the distance at which a Tiyan or Cheruman has to keep) are said to be commonly used.30

By Mr. T. K. Gopal Panikkar the Cherumans are described31 as “a very inferior race, who are regarded merely as agricultural instruments in the hands of the landlords their masters, who supply them with houses on their estates. Their daily maintenance is supplied to them by their masters themselves. Every morning the master’s agent summons them to his house, and takes them away to work in the fields, in ploughing, drawing water from wells, and in short doing the whole of the cultivation. In the evening a certain quantity of paddy [54](unhusked rice) is distributed to them as wages. Both theory and practice, in the great majority of cases, are that they are fed at the master’s cost the whole year round, whether they work in the fields or not. But it is very seldom that they can have a holiday, regard being had to the nature of agriculture in Malabar. It is the Cheruma that should plough the land, sow the seed, transplant the seedlings, regulate the flow of water in the fields, uproot the weeds, and see that the crops are not destroyed by animals, or stolen. When the crops ripen, he has to keep watch at night. The sentry house consists of a small oval-shaped portable roof, constructed of palmyra and cocoanut leaves, supported by four posts, across which are tied bamboos, which form the watchman’s bed. Wives sometimes accompany their husbands in their watches. When the harvest season approaches, the Cheruman’s hands are full. He has to cut the crops, carry them to the barn (kalam), separate the corn from the stalk, and winnow it. The second crop operations immediately follow, and the Cheruma has to go through all these processes again. It is in the summer season that his work is light, when he is set to prepare vegetable gardens, or some odd job is found for him by his master. The old, infirm, and the children look after their master’s cattle. Receiving his daily pittance of paddy, the Cheruman enters his hut, and reserves a portion of it for the purchase of salt, chillies, toddy, tobacco, and dried fish. The other portion is reserved for food. The Cheruman spends the greater part of his wages on toddy. It is a very common sight in Malabar to see a group of Cherumans, including women and children, sitting in front of a toddy shop, the Cheruman transferring the unfinished portion of the toddy to his wife, and the latter to the children. A Cheruman, [55]however, rarely gets intoxicated, or commits crime. No recess is allowed to the Cherumans, except on national holidays and celebrated temple festivals observed in honour of the goddess Bhagavati or Kāli, when they are quite free to indulge in drink. On these days, their hire is given in advance. With this they get intoxicated, and go to the poora-paramba or temple premises, where the festival is celebrated, in batches of four, each one tying his hands to another’s neck, and reciting every two seconds the peculiar sound:

Lallē lallē lallē ho.

Lallē lallē lallē ho.

“On the European plantations in the Wynād the Cherumans are in great request, and many are to be seen travelling nowadays without fear in railway carriages on their way to the plantations. A few also work in the gold mines of Mysore.”

Like other servile classes, the Cherumans possess special privileges on special occasions. For example, at the chāl (furrow) ceremony in Malabar “the master of the house, the cultivating agent, and Cherumans assemble in the barn, a portion of the yard in front of the building is painted with rice-water, and a lighted bell-lamp is placed near at hand with some paddy and rice, and several cups made of the leaves of the kanniram (Strychnos nux-vomica)—as many cups as there are varieties of seed in the barn. Then, placing implicit faith in his gods, and deceased ancestors, the master of the house opens the barn door, followed by the Cheruman with a new painted basket containing the leaf cups. The master then takes a handful of seed from a seed-basket, and fills one of the cups, and the cultivating agent, head Cheruman, and others who are interested in a good harvest, fill the cups till the seeds are exhausted. The basket, with the cups, [56]is next taken to the decorated portion of the yard. A new ploughshare is fastened to a new plough, and a pair of cattle are brought on to the scene. Plough, cattle, and basket are all painted with rice-water. A procession proceeds to the fields, on reaching which the head Cheruman lays down the basket, and makes a mound of earth with the spade. To this a little manure is added, and the master throws a handful of seed into it. The cattle are then yoked, and one turn is ploughed by the head Cheruman. Inside this at least seven furrows are made, and the plough is dropped to the right. An offering is made to Ganapathi (the elephant god), and the master throws some seed into a furrow. Next the head Cheruman calls out ‘May the gods on high and the deceased ancestors bless the seed, which has been thrown broadcast, and the cattle which are let loose; the mother and children of the house, the master, and the slaves, may they also vouchsafe to us a good crop, good sunshine, and good harvest.’ A cocoanut is then cut on the ploughshare, and from the cut portions several deductions are made. If the hinder part is larger than the front one, the harvest will be moderate. If the cut passes through the eyes of the nut, or if no water is left in the cut portions, certain misfortune is foreboded. The cut fragments are then taken with a little water inside them, and a leaf of the tulsi plant (Ocimum sanctum) dropped in. If the leaf turns to the right, a prosperous harvest is assured; whereas, if it turns to the left, certain calamity will follow. This ceremonial concluded, there is much shouting, and the names of all the gods may be heard called out in a confused prayer. The party then breaks up, and the unused seeds are divided among the workmen.”32 At [57]the ceremony in Malabar, when the transplantation of rice is completed, during which a goat is sacrificed to Mūni, the protector of cattle and field labourers, the officiating priest is generally the cultivation agent of the family, who is a Nāyar, or sometimes a Cheruman.

In connection with the harvest ceremonial in Cochin, Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes as follows. “There are some curious customs connected with the harvest, prevailing among the Pulayas of the southern parts of the State. Before reaping, the Pulaya headman asks his master whether he may begin to reap. With his permission, he faces the east, and puts the sickle to the stalks. The first bundle he reserves for the gods of his master, and the second for those of his castemen. Before thrashing, the same headman takes a few bundles of corn from the sheaf intended for their gods, and sprinkles toddy on them. Another Pulayan does the same for the various reapers, and says, as he does so ‘Come, thrashing corn, increase.’ This is called filling the thrashing floor, and each man thrashes his own sheaves. When the thrashing is over, the headman puts his master’s sheaf in the centre of the floor, and his own at a short distance outside, in order that the two sets of gods may look kindly on them. The headman is privileged to measure the corn sitting with his two assistants, saying ‘Come, paddy, increase,’ as he counts. He also calls out ‘Good paddy, one’, ‘bad paddy, two’, and so on, until he counts ten. The eleventh is the share for the reaper. He takes a handful, and places it in a basket, half of which falls to him, his assistants and the watchman, while the other half is given away in charity to the poor men that come to the thrashing place. In the northern parts of the State, before reaping, offerings of goats, fowls, and cocoanuts, are made to Mallan and Mūni. The Cheruma [58]headman faces east, and applies his sickle to the stalks, reserving the first stalk for the deities above mentioned. The corn is thrashed and measured by one of them, and, as he does so, he says ‘Labham’ (profit) for one, ‘Chetham’ (loss) for two, and counts up to ten. The eleventh goes to the share of the reapers. Thus they get one para for every ten paras of corn. The poor people that attend are also given a handful of the grain. After reaping, the members of the castes named in the table below receive a small portion of the corn for their services rendered to the farmers in the course of the months during which cultivation has been carried on:—

Caste. Purpose for which paddy is given. Remuneration.
Carpenters For making and repairing ploughs, etc. A big bundle of corn.
Blacksmiths For making sickles, knives, and other tools. Do.
Parayan For lifting and placing the loads of stalks on the heads of the Cherumans, who carry them to the farmyard. Do.
Washerman or Mannān. For keeping off birds, insects, etc., from the fields by magic. Do.
Vilkurup For treating Cherumas during their illness, and for shampooing them. Do.
Kaniyan or astrologer. For giving information of the auspicious times for ploughing, sowing, transplanting and reaping, and also of the time for giving rice, vegetables, oil, etc., to the Cherumas during the Onam festival. Do.


“The Pulayans receive, in return for watching, a small portion of the field near the watchman’s rest-hut, which is left unreaped for him. It fetches him a para of paddy.

“The Cherumas who are engaged in reaping get two bundles of corn each for every field. For measuring the corn from the farmyard, a Cheruman gets an edangazhy of paddy, in addition to his daily wage. Three paras of paddy are set apart for the local village deity. During the month of Karkadakam, the masters give every Cheruman a fowl, some oil, garlic, mustard, anise seeds, pepper, and turmeric. They prepare a decoction of seeds, and boil the flesh of the fowl in it, which they take for three days, during which they are allowed to take rest. Three days’ wages are also given in advance.”

In Travancore, a festival named Macam is held, of which the following account has been published.33 “The Macam (tenth constellation Regulus, which follows Thiru Onam in August), is regarded by Hindus as a day of great festivity. One must enjoy it even at the cost of one’s children, so runs an adage. The day is considered to be so lucky that a girl born under the star Regulus is verily born with a silver spoon in her mouth. It was on Macam, some say, that the Dēvas, to free themselves from the curse they were put under by a certain sage, had to churn the sea of milk to procure ambrosia. Be the cause which led to the celebration what it may, the Hindus of the present day have ever been enthusiastic in its observance; only some of the rude customs connected with it have died out in the course of time, or were put a stop to by Government. Sham fights were, and are still, in some places a feature of the day. Such [60]a sham fight used to be carried on at Pallam until, about a hundred years ago, it was stopped through the intervention of Colonel Munro, the British Resident in Travancore. The place is still called Patanilam (battle field), and the tank, on opposite sides of which the contending parties assembled, Chorakulam (pool of blood). The steel swords and spears, of curious and various shapes, and shields large enough to cover a man, are even now preserved in the local temple. Many lives were lost in these fights. It is not generally known, even to people in these parts, that a sham fight takes place on Macam and the previous day every year at a place called Wezhapra, between the Changanacherry and Ambalapuzha taluks. Three banyan trees mark the place. People, especially Pulayas and Pariahs, to the number of many thousands, collect round the outside trees with steel swords, spears, and slings in their hands. A small bund (embankment) separates the two parties. They have to perform certain religious rites near the tree which stands in the middle, and, in doing so, make some movements with their swords and spears to the accompaniment of music. If those standing on one side of the bund cross it, a regular fight is the result. In order to avoid such things, without at the same time interfering with their liberty to worship at the spot, the Government this year made all the necessary arrangements. The Police were sent for the purpose. Everything went off smoothly but for one untoward event. The people had been told not to come armed with steel weapons, but with wooden ones. They had to put them down, and were then allowed to go and worship.”

Of conversion to Muhammadanism at the present time, a good example is afforded by the Cherumans. “This caste,” the Census Superintendent, 1881, writes, [61]“numbered 99,009 in Malabar at the census of 1871, and, in 1881, is returned as only 64,735. There are 40,000 fewer Cherumans than there would have been but for some disturbing influence, and this is very well known to be conversion to Muhammadanism. The honour of Islam once conferred on the Cheruman, he moves at one spring several places higher than that which he originally occupied.” “Conversion to Muhammadanism,” Mr. Logan writes, “has had a marked effect in freeing the slave caste in Malabar from their former burthens. By conversion a Cheruman obtains a distinct rise in the social scale, and, if he is in consequence bullied or beaten, the influence of the whole Muhammadan community comes to his aid.” It has been noted34 that Cheruman converts to Islam take part in the Moplah (Māppilla) outbreaks, which from time to time disturb the peace of Malabar.

The home of the Cheruman is called a chāla or hut, which has a thatched roof of grass and palm-leaves resembling an immense bee-hive. A big underground cell, with a ceiling of planks, forms the granary of the occupants of these huts. The chief house furniture consists of a pestle and mortar, and two or three earthenware pots.

The habitations of the Pulayas of Cochin are thus described by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. “Their huts are generally called madams, which are put up on the banks of fields, in the middle of rice flats, or on trees along their borders, so as to enable them to watch the crops after the toils of the day. They are discouraged from erecting better huts, under the idea that, if settled more comfortably, they would be less inclined to move [62]as cultivation required. The madams are very poor huts, supported on four small posts, and thatched with leaves. The sides are protected with the same kind of leaves. There is only one room, and the floor, though slightly raised, is very damp during the rainy months. These temporary buildings are removed after the harvest, and put up in places where cultivation has to be carried on. All the members of the family sleep together in the same hut. Small temporary huts are sometimes erected, which are little better than inverted baskets. These are placed in the rice field while the crop is on the ground, and near the stacks while it is being thrashed. In the northern parts of the State, the Pulaya huts are made of mud walls, and provided with wooden doors. The roofs are of bamboo framework thatched with palmyra palm leaves. The floor is raised, and the huts are provided with pyals (raised platforms) on three sides. They have also small compounds (grounds) around them. There is only one room inside, which is the sleeping apartment of the newly married youngsters. The others, I am told, sleep on the verandahs. The utensils consist of a few earthen pots for cooking and keeping water, and a few earthen dishes for taking food. In addition to these, I found a wooden mortar, a few pestles, two pans, two winnowing pans, a fish basket for each woman, a few cocoanut shells for keeping salt and other things, a few baskets of their own making, in one of which a few dirty cloths were placed, some mats of their own making, a bamboo vessel for measuring corn, and a vessel for containing toddy.”

“During the rainy season, the Cherumas in the field wear a few green leaves, especially those of the plantain tree, tied round their waists, and a small cone-shaped cap, made of plantain leaf, is worn on the head. This practice, among the females, has fallen into disuse in [63]Malabar, though it is to some extent still found in the Native States. The Cherumi is provided with one long piece of thick cloth, which she wraps round her waist, and which does not even reach the knees. She does not cover the chest.”35 The Cheruma females have been described as wearing, when at work in the open, a big oval-shaped handleless umbrella covered with palm leaves, which they place on their back, and which covers the whole of their person in the stooping attitude. The men use, during the rainy season, a short-handled palm-leaf umbrella.

The women are profusely decorated with cheap jewelry of which the following are examples:

1. Lobes of both ears widely dilated by rolled leaden ornaments. Brass, and two glass bead necklets, string necklet with flat brass ornaments, the size of a Venetian sequin, with device as in old Travancore gold coins, with two brass cylinders pendent behind, and tassels of red cotton. Three brass rings on right little finger; two on left ring finger, one brass and two steel bangles on left wrist.

2. Several bead necklets, and a single necklet of many rows of beads. Brass necklet like preceding, with steel prong and scoop, for removing wax from the ears and picking teeth, tied to one of the necklets. Attached to, and pendent from one necklet, three palm leaf rolls with symbols and Malayālam inscription to act as a charm in driving away devils. Three ornamental brass bangles on right forearm, two on left. Iron bangle on left wrist. Thin brass ring in helix of each ear. Seventy thin brass rings (alandōti) with heavy brass ornament (adikaya) in dilated lobe of each ear. [64]

3. In addition to glass bead necklets, a necklet with heavy heart-shaped brass pendants. String round neck to ward off fever.

4. String necklet with five brass cylinders pendent; five brass bangles on right wrist; six brass and two iron bangles on left wrist.

Right hand, one copper and five brass rings on middle finger; one iron and three brass rings on little finger.

Left hand, one copper and five brass rings on middle finger; three brass and two copper rings on ring finger; one brass ring on little finger.

5. Trouser button in helix of left ear.

6. Brass bead necklet with pendent brass ornament with legend “Best superior umbrella made in Japan, made for Fazalbhoy Peeroo Mahomed, Bombay.”

A Cheruman, at Calicut, had his hair long and unkempt, as he played the drum at the temple. Another had the hair arranged in four matted plaits, for the cure of disease in performance of a vow. A man who wore a copper cylinder on his loin string, containing a brass strip with mantrams (consecrated formulæ) engraved on it, sold it to me for a rupee with the assurance that it would protect me from devils.

Concerning the marriage ceremony of the Cherumans in Malabar, Mr. Appadorai Iyer writes that “the bridegroom’s sister is the chief performer. It is she who pays the bride’s price, and carries her off. The consent of the parents is required, and is signified by an interchange of visits between the parents of the bride and bridegroom. During these visits, rice-water (conji) is sipped. Before tasting the conji, they drop a fanam (local coin) into the vessel containing it, as a token of assent to the marriage. When the wedding party sets out, a large congregation [65]of Cherumans follow, and at intervals indulge in stick play, the women singing in chorus to encourage them ‘Let us see, let us see the stick play (vadi tallu), Oh! Cheruman.’ The men and women mingle indiscriminately in the dance during the wedding ceremony. On the return to the bridegroom’s hut, the bride is expected to weep loudly, and deplore her fate. On entering the bridegroom’s hut, she must tread on a pestle placed across the threshold.” During the dance, the women have been described as letting down their hair, and dancing with a tolerable amount of rhythmic precision amid vigorous drumming and singing. According to another account, the bridegroom receives from his brother-in-law a kerchief, which the giver ties round his waist, and a bangle which is placed on his arm. The bride receives a pewter vessel from her brother. Next her cousin ties a kerchief round the groom’s forehead, and sticks a betel leaf in it. The bride is then handed over to the bridegroom.

Of the puberty and marriage ceremonies of the Pulayas of Cochin, the following detailed account is given by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. “When a Pulaya girl comes of age, she is located in a separate hut. Five Vallons (headmen), and the castemen of the kara (settlement), are invited to take part in the performance of the ceremony. A song, called malapattu, is sung for an hour by a Parayan to the accompaniment of drum and pipe. The Parayan gets a para of paddy, and his assistants three annas each. As soon as this is over, seven cocoanuts are broken, and the water thereof is poured over the head of the girl, and the broken halves are distributed among the five Vallons and seven girls who are also invited to be present. Some more water is also poured on the girl’s head at the time. She is lodged in a [66]temporary hut for seven days, during which food is served to her at a distance. She is forbidden to go out and play with her friends. On the morning of the seventh day, the Vallons of the kara and the castemen are again invited. The latter bring with them some rice, vegetables, and toddy, to defray the expenses of the feast. At dawn, the mother of the girl gives oil to the seven Pulaya maidens, and to her daughter for an oil-bath. They then go to a neighbouring tank (pond) or stream to bathe, and return home. The girl is then neatly dressed, and adorned in her best. Her face is painted yellow, and marked with spots of various colours. She stands before a few Parayas, who play on their flute and drum, to cast out the demons, if any, from her body. The girl leaps with frantic movements, if she is possessed by them. In that case, they transfer them to a tree close by driving a nail into the trunk after due offerings. If she is not possessed, she remains unmoved, and the Parayas bring the music to a close. The girl is again bathed with her companions, who are all treated to a dinner. The ceremony then comes to an end with a feast to the castemen. The ceremony described is performed by the Valluva Pulayas in the southern parts, near and around the suburbs of Cochin, but is unknown among other sub-tribes elsewhere. The devil-driving by the Parayas is not attended to. Nor is a temporary hut erected for the girl to be lodged in. She is allowed to remain in a corner of the hut, but is not permitted to touch others. She is bathed on the seventh day, and the castemen, friends and relations, are invited to a feast.

“Marriage is prohibited among members of the same koottam (family group). In the Chittūr tāluk, members of the same village do not intermarry, for they believe [67]that their ancestors may have been the slaves of some local landlord, and, as such, the descendants of the same parents. A young man may marry among the relations of his father, but not among those of his mother. In the Palghat tāluk, the Kanakka Cherumas pride themselves on the fact that they avoid girls within seven degrees of relationship. The marriage customs vary according to the sub-division. In the southern parts of the State, Pulaya girls are married before puberty, while in other places, among the Kanakka Cherumas and other sub-tribes, they are married both before and after puberty. In the former case, when a girl has not been married before puberty, she is regarded as having become polluted, and stigmatised as a woman whose age is known. Her parents and uncles lose all claim upon her. They formally drive her out of the hut, and proceed to purify it by sprinkling water mixed with cow-dung both inside and outside, and also with sand. She is thus turned out of caste. She was, in former times, handed over to the Vallon, who either married her to his own son, or sold her to a slave master. If a girl is too poor to be married before puberty, the castemen of the kara raise a subscription, and marry her to one of themselves.

“When a young Pulayan wishes to marry, he applies to his master, who is bound to defray the expenses. He gives seven fanams36 to the bride’s master, one fanam worth of cloth to the bride-elect, and about ten fanams for the marriage feast. In all, his expenses amount to ten rupees. The ceremony consists in tying a ring attached to a thread round the neck of the bride. This is provided by her parents. When he becomes tired of [68]his wife, he may dispose of her to any other person who will pay the expenses incurred at the marriage. There are even now places where husband and wife serve different masters, but more frequently they serve the same master. The eldest male child belongs to the master of the mother. The rest of the family remain with the mother while young, but, being the property of the owner, revert to him when of an age to be useful. She also follows them, in the event of her becoming a widow. In some places, a man brings a woman to his master, and says that he wishes to keep her as his wife. She receives her allowance of rice, but may leave her husband as she likes, and is not particular in changing one spouse for another. In other places, the marriage ceremonies of the Era Cherumas are more formal. The bridegroom’s party goes to the bride’s hut, and presents rice and betel leaf to the head of the family, and asks for the bride. Consent is indicated by the bride’s brother placing some rice and cloth before the assembly, and throwing rice on the headman of the caste, who is present. On the appointed day, the bridegroom goes to the hut with two companions, and presents the girl with cloth and twelve fanams. From that day he is regarded as her husband, and cohabitation begins at once. But the bride cannot accompany him until the ceremony called mangalam is performed. The bridegroom’s party goes in procession to the bride’s hut, where a feast awaits them. The man gives sweetmeats to the girl’s brother. The caste priest recites the family history of the two persons, and the names of their masters and deities. They are then seated before a lamp and a heap of rice in a pandal (booth). One of the assembly gets up, and delivers a speech on the duties of married life, touching on the evils of theft, [69]cheating, adultery, and so forth. Rice is thrown on the heads of the couple, and the man prostrates himself at the feet of the elders. Next day, rice is again thrown on their heads. Then the party assembled makes presents to the pair, a part of which goes to the priest, and a part to the master of the husband. Divorce is very easy, but the money paid must be returned to the woman.

“In the Ooragam proverthy of the Trichūr tāluk, I find that the marriage among the Pulayas of that locality and the neighbouring villages is a rude form of sambandham (alliance), somewhat similar to that which prevails among the Nāyars, whose slaves a large majority of them are. The husband, if he may be so called, goes to the woman’s hut with his wages, to stay therein with her for the night. They may serve under different masters. A somewhat similar custom prevails among the Pula Cherumas of the Trichūr tāluk. The connection is called Merungu Kooduka, which means to tame, or to associate with.

“A young man, who wishes to marry, goes to the parents of the young woman, and asks their consent to associate with their daughter. If they approve, he goes to her at night as often as he likes. The woman seldom comes to the husband’s hut to stay with him, except with the permission of the thamar (landlord) on auspicious occasions. They are at liberty to separate at their will and pleasure, and the children born of the union belong to the mother’s landlord. Among the Kanakka Cherumas in the northern parts of the State, the following marital relations are in force. When a young man chooses a girl, the preliminary arrangements are made in her hut, in the presence of her parents, relations, and the castemen of the village. The auspicious day is fixed, [70]and a sum of five fanams is paid as the bride’s price. The members assembled are treated to a dinner. A similar entertainment is held at the bridegroom’s hut to the bride’s parents, uncles, and others who come to see the bridegroom. On the morning of the day fixed for the wedding, the bridegroom and his party go to the bride’s hut, where they are welcomed, and seated on mats in a small pandal put up in front of the hut. A muri (piece of cloth), and two small mundus (cloths) are the marriage presents to the bride. A vessel full of paddy (unhusked rice), a lighted lamp, and a cocoanut are placed in a conspicuous place therein. The bride is taken to the booth, and seated by the side of the bridegroom. Before she enters it, she goes seven times round it, with seven virgins before her. With prayers to their gods for blessings on the couple, the tāli (marriage badge) is tied round the bride’s neck. The bridegroom’s sister completes the knot. By a strange custom, the bride’s mother does not approach the bridegroom, lest it should cause a ceremonial pollution. The ceremony is brought to a close with a feast to those assembled. Toddy is an indispensable item of the feast. During the night, they amuse themselves by dancing a kind of wild dance, in which both men and women joyfully take part. After this, the bridegroom goes along to his own hut, along with his wife and his party, where also they indulge in a feast. After a week, two persons from the bride’s hut come to invite the married couple. The bride and bridegroom stay at the bride’s hut for a few days, and cannot return to his hut unless an entertainment, called Vathal Choru, is given him.

“The marriage customs of the Valluva Pulayas in the southern parts of the State, especially in the Cochin and Kanayannūr tāluks, are more formal. The average [71]age of a young man for marriage is between fifteen and twenty, while that of a girl is between ten and twelve. Before a young Pulayan thinks of marriage, he has to contract a formal and voluntary friendship with another young Pulayan of the same age and locality. If he is not sociably inclined, his father selects one for him from a Pulaya of the same or higher status, but not of the same illam (family group). If the two parents agree among themselves, they meet in the hut of either of them to solemnise it. They fix a day for the ceremony, and invite their Vallon and the castemen of the village. The guests are treated to a feast in the usual Pulaya fashion. The chief guest and the host eat together from the same dish. After the feast, the father of the boy, who has to obtain a friend for his son, enquires of the Vallon and those assembled whether he may be permitted to buy friendship by the payment of money. They give their permission, and the boy’s father gives the money to the father of the selected friend. The two boys then clasp hands, and they are never to quarrel. The new friend becomes from that time a member of the boy’s family. He comes in, and goes out of their hut as he likes. There is no ceremony performed at it, or anything done without consulting him. He is thus an inseparable factor in all ceremonies, especially in marriages. I suspect that the friend has some claims on a man’s wife. The first observance in marriage consists in seeing the girl. The bridegroom-elect, his friend, father and maternal uncle, go to the bride’s hut, to be satisfied with the girl. If the wedding is not to take place at an early date, the bridegroom’s parents have to keep up the claim on the bride-elect by sending presents to her guardians. The presents, which are generally sweetmeats, are taken to [72]her hut by the bridegroom and his friends, who are well fed by the mother of the girl, and are given a few necessaries when they take leave of her the next morning. The next observance is the marriage negotiation, which consists in giving the bride’s price, and choosing an auspicious day in consultation with the local astrologer (Kaniyan). On the evening previous to the wedding, the friends and relations of the bridegroom are treated to a feast in his hut. Next day at dawn, the bridegroom and his friend, purified by a bath, and neatly dressed in a white cloth with a handkerchief tied over it, and with a knife stuck in their girdles, go to the hut of the bride-elect accompanied by his party, and are all well received, and seated on mats spread on the floor. Over a mat specially made by the bride’s mother are placed three measures of rice, some particles of gold, a brass plate, and a plank with a white and red cover on it. The bridegroom, after going seven times round the pandal, stands on the plank, and the bride soon follows making three rounds, when four women hold a cloth canopy over her head, and seven virgins go in front of her. The bride then stands by the side of the bridegroom, and they face each other. Her guardian puts on the wedding necklace a gold bead on a string. Music is played, and prayers are offered up to the sun to bless the necklace which is tied round the neck of the girl. The bridegroom’s friend, standing behind, tightens the knot already made. The religious part of the ceremony is now over, and the bridegroom and bride are taken inside the hut, and food is served to them on the same leaf. Next the guests are fed, and then they begin the poli or subscription. A piece of silk, or any red cloth, is spread on the floor, or a brass plate is placed before the husband. The guests assembled put in a few annas, [73]and take leave of the chief host as they depart. The bride is soon taken to the bridegroom’s hut, and her parents visit her the next day, and get a consideration in return. On the fourth day, the bridegroom and bride bathe and worship the local deity, and, on the seventh day, they return to the bride’s hut, where the tāli (marriage badge) is formally removed from the neck of the girl, who is bedecked with brass beads round her neck, rings on her ears, and armlets. The next morning, the mother-in-law presents her son-in-law and his friend with a few necessaries of life, and sends them home with her daughter.

“During the seventh month of pregnancy, the ceremony of puli kuti, or tamarind juice drinking, is performed as among other castes. This is also an occasion for casting out devils, if any, from the body. The pregnant woman is brought back to the hut of her own family. The devil-driver erects a tent-like structure, and covers it with plantain bark and leaves of the cocoanut palm. The flower of an areca palm is fixed at the apex. A cocoanut palm flower is cut out and covered with a piece of cloth, the cut portion being exposed. The woman is seated in front of the tent-like structure with the flower, which symbolises the yet unborn child in the womb, in her lap. The water of a tender cocoanut in spoons made of the leaf of the jack tree (Artocarpus integrifolia) is poured over the cut end by the Vallon, guardian, and brothers and sisters present. The devil-driver then breaks open the flower, and, by looking at the fruits, predicts the sex of the child. If there are fruits at the end nearest the stem, the child will live and, if the number of fruits is even, there will be twins. There will be deaths if any fruit is not well formed. The devil-driver repeats an incantation, whereby he invokes [74]the aid of Kali, who is believed to be present in the tent. He fans the woman with the flower, and she throws rice and a flower on it. He repeats another incantation, which is a prayer to Kali to cast out the devil from her body. This magical ceremony is called Garbha Bali (pregnancy offering). The structure, with the offering, is taken up, and placed in a corner of the compound reserved for gods. The devotee then goes through the remaining forms of the ceremony. She pours into twenty-one leaf spoons placed in front of the tent a mixture of cow’s milk, water of the tender cocoanut, flower, and turmeric powder. Then she walks round the tent seven times, and sprinkles the mixture on it with a palm flower. Next she throws a handful of rice and paddy, after revolving each handful round her head, and then covers the offering with a piece of cloth. She now returns, and her husband puts into her mouth seven globules of prepared tamarind. The devil-driver rubs her body with Phlomis (?) petals and paddy, and thereby finds out whether she is possessed or not. If she is, the devil is driven out with the usual offerings. The devil-driver gets for his services twelve measures and a half of paddy, and two pieces of cloth. The husband should not, during this period, get shaved.

“When a young woman is about to give birth to a child, she is lodged in a small hut near her dwelling, and is attended by her mother and a few elderly women of the family. After the child is born, the mother and the baby are bathed. The woman is purified by a bath on the seventh day. The woman who has acted as midwife draws seven lines on the ground at intervals of two feet from one another, and spreads over them aloe leaves torn to shreds. Then, with burning sticks in the hand, the mother with the baby goes seven times over the [75]leaves backwards and forwards, and is purified. For these seven days, the father should not eat anything made of rice. He lives on toddy, fruits, and other things. The mother remains with her baby in the hut for sixteen days, when she is purified by a bath so as to be free from pollution, after which she goes to the main hut. Her enangathi (relation by marriage) sweeps the hut and compound, and sprinkles water mixed with cow-dung on her body as she returns after the bath. In some places, the bark of athi (Ficus glomerata) and ithi (Ficus Tsiela?) is well beaten and bruised, and mixed with water. Some milk is added to this mixture, which is sprinkled both inside and outside the hut. Only after this do they think that the hut and compound are purified. Among the Cherumas of Palghat, the pollution lasts for ten days.

“The ear-boring ceremony is performed during the sixth or seventh year. The Vallon, who is invited, bores the ears with a sharp needle. The wound is healed by applying cocoanut oil, and the hole is gradually widened by inserting cork, a wooden plug, or a roll of palm leaves. The castemen of the village are invited, and fed. The landlord gives the parents of the girl three paras of paddy, and this, together with what the guests bring, goes to defray the expenses of the ceremony. After the meal they go, with drum-beating, to the house of the landlord, and present him with a para of beaten rice, which is distributed among his servants. The ear-borer receives eight edangazhis of paddy, a cocoanut, a vessel of rice, and four annas.

“A woman found to be having intercourse with a Paraya is outcasted. She becomes a convert to Christianity or Mahomedanism. If the irregularity takes place within the caste, she is well thrashed, and prevented [76]from resorting to the bad practice. In certain cases, when the illicit connection becomes public, the castemen meet with their Vallon, and conduct a regular enquiry into the matter, and pronounce a verdict upon the evidence. If a young woman becomes pregnant before marriage, her lover, should he be a Pulaya, is compelled to marry her, as otherwise she would be placed under a ban. If both are married, the lover is well thrashed, and fined. The woman is taken before a Thandan (Izhuva headman), who, after enquiry, gives her the water of a tender cocoanut, which she is asked to drink, when she is believed to be freed from the sin. Her husband may take her back again as his wife, or she is at liberty to marry another. The Thandan gets a few annas, betel leaves and areca nuts, and tobacco. Both the woman’s father and the lover are fined, and the fine is spent in the purchase of toddy, which is indulged in by those present at the time. In the northern parts of the State, there is a custom that a young woman before marriage mates with one or two paramours with the connivance of her parents. Eventually one of them marries her, but this illicit union ceases at once on marriage.”

Of the death ceremonies among the Cherumas of South Malabar, I gather that “as soon as a Cheruman dies, his jenmi or landlord is apprised of the fact, and is by ancient custom expected to send a field spade, a white cloth, and some oil. The drummers of the community are summoned to beat their drums in announcement of the sad event. This drumming is known as parayadikka. The body is bathed in oil, and the near relatives cover it over with white and red cloths, and take it to the front yard. Then the relatives have a bath, after which the corpse is removed to the burying [77]ground, where a grave is dug. All those who have come to the interment touch the body, which is lowered into the grave after some of the red cloths have been removed. A mound is raised over the grave, a stone placed at the head, another at the feet, and a third in the centre. The funeral cortège, composed only of males, then returns to the house, and each member takes a purificatory bath. The red cloths are torn into narrow strips, and a strip handed over as a sacred object to a relative of the deceased. Meanwhile, each relative having on arrival paid a little money to the house people, toddy is purchased, and served to the assembly. The mourners in the house have to fast on the day of the death. Next morning they have a bath, paddy is pounded, and gruel prepared for the abstainers. An elder of the community, the Avakāsi, prepares a little basket of green palm leaves. He takes this basket, and hangs it on a tree in the southern part of the compound (grounds). The gruel is brought out, and placed on a mortar in the same part of the compound. Spoons are made out of jack (Artocarpus integrifolia) leaves, and the elder serves out the gruel. Then the relatives, who have gathered again, make little gifts of money and rice to the house people. Vegetable curry and rice are prepared, and served to the visitors. A quaint ceremony called ooroonulka is next gone through. A measure of rice and a measure of paddy in husk are mixed, and divided into two shares. Four quarter-anna pieces are placed on one heap, and eight on the other. The former share is made over to the house people, and from the latter the Avakāsi removes four of the coins, and presents one to each of the four leading men present. These four men must belong to the four several points of the compass. The remaining copper is taken by the [78]elder. From his share of rice and paddy he gives a little to be parched and pounded. This is given afterwards to the inmates. The visitors partake of betel and disperse, being informed that the Polla or post-obituary ceremony will come off on the thirteenth day. On the forenoon of this day, the relatives again gather at the mourning place. The inmates of the house bathe, and fish and rice are brought for a meal. A little of the fish is roasted over a fire, and each one present just nibbles at it. This is done to end pollution. After this the fish may be freely eaten. Half a seer or a measure of rice is boiled, reduced to a pulpy mass, and mixed with turmeric powder. Parched rice and the powder that remains after the rice has been pounded, a cocoanut and tender cocoanut, some turmeric powder, plantain leaves, and the rice that was boiled and coloured with turmeric, are then taken to the burial ground by the Avakāsi, a singer known as a Kallādi or Moonpatkāren, and one or two close relatives of the departed. With the pulped rice the elder moulds the form of a human being. At the head of the grave a little mound is raised, cabalistic lines are drawn across it with turmeric, and boiled rice powder and a plantain leaf placed over the lines. The cocoanut is broken, and its kernel cut out in rings, each of which is put over the effigy, which is then placed recumbent on the plantain leaf. Round the mound, strings of jungle leaves are placed. Next the elder drives a pole into the spot where the chest of the dead person would be, and it is said that the pole must touch the chest. On one side of the pole the tender cocoanut is cut and placed, and on the other a shell containing some toddy. Then a little copper ring is tied on to the top of the pole, oil from a shell is poured over the ring, and the water from the tender cocoanut and toddy are [79]in turn similarly poured. After this mystic rite, the Kallādi starts a mournful dirge in monotone, and the other actors in the solemn ceremony join in the chorus. The chant tells of the darkness and the nothingness that were before the creation of the world, and unfolds a fanciful tale of how the world came to be created. The chant has the weird refrain Oh! ho! Oh! ho. On its conclusion, the effigy is left at the head of the grave, but the Kallādi takes away the pole with him. The performers bathe and return to the house of mourning, where the Kallādi gets into a state of afflation. The spirit of the departed enters into him, and speaks through him, telling the mourners that he is happy, and does not want them to grieve over much for him. The Kallādi then enters the house, and, putting a heap of earth in the corner of the centre room, digs the pole into it. A light is brought and placed there, as also some toddy, a tender cocoanut, and parched rice. The spirit of the deceased, speaking again through the Kallādi, thanks his people for their gifts, and beseeches them to think occasionally of him, and make him periodical offerings. The assembly then indulge in a feed. Rice and paddy are mixed together and divided into two portions, to one of which eight quarter-annas, and to the other twelve quarter-annas are added. The latter share falls to the Avakāsi, while from the former the mixture and one quarter-anna go to the Kallādi, and a quarter-anna to each of the nearest relatives. The basket which had been hung up earlier in the day is taken down and thrown away, and the jenmi’s spade is returned to him.”37

It is noted by Mr. Logan that “the Cherumans, like other classes, observe death pollution. But, as they [80]cannot at certain seasons afford to be idle for fourteen days consecutively, they resort to an artifice to obtain this end. They mix cow-dung and paddy, and make it into a ball, and place the ball in an earthen pot, the mouth of which they carefully close with clay. The pot is laid in a corner of the hut, and, as long as it remains unopened, they remain free from pollution, and can mix among their fellows. On a convenient day they open the pot, and are instantly seized with pollution, which continues for forty days. Otherwise fourteen days consecutive pollution is all that is required. On the forty-first or fifteenth day, as the case may be, rice is thrown to the ancestors, and a feast follows.”

The following account of the death ceremonies is given by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer. “When a Pulayan is dead, the castemen in the neighbourhood are informed. An offering is made to the Kodungallūr Bhagavati, who is believed by the Pulayas to watch over their welfare, and is regarded as their ancestral deity. Dead bodies are generally buried. The relatives, one by one, bring a new piece of cloth, with rice and paddy tied at its four corners, for throwing over the corpse. The cloth is placed thereon, and they cry aloud three times, beating their breasts, after which they retire. A few Parayas are invited to beat drums, and play on their musical instruments—a performance which is continued for an hour or two. After this, a few bits of plantain leaves, with rice flour and paddy, are placed near the corpse, to serve as food for the spirit of the dead. The bier is carried to the graveyard by six bearers, three on each side. The pit is dug, and the body covered with a piece of cloth. After it has been lowered into it, the pit is filled in with earth. Twenty-one small bits of leaves are placed over the grave, above the spot where the mouth [81]of the dead man is, with a double-branched twig fixed to the centre, a cocoanut is cut open, and its water is allowed to flow in the direction of the twig which represents the dead man’s mouth. Such of the members of the family as could not give him kanji (rice gruel) or boiled rice before death, now give it to him. The six coffin-bearers prostrate themselves before the corpse, three on each side of the grave. The priest then puts on it a ripe and tender cocoanut for the spirit of the dead man to eat and drink. Then all go home, and indulge in toddy and aval (beaten rice). The priest gets twelve measures of rice, the grave-diggers twelve annas, the Vallon two annas, and the coffin-bearers each an anna. The son or nephew is the chief mourner, who erects a mound of earth on the south side of the hut, and uses it as a place of worship. For seven days, both morning and evening, he prostrates himself before it, and sprinkles the water of a tender cocoanut on it. On the eighth day, his relatives, friends, the Vallon, and the devil-driver assemble together. The devil-driver turns round and blows his conch, and finds out the position of the ghost, whether it has taken up its abode in the mound, or is kept under restraint by some deity. Should the latter be the case, the ceremony of deliverance has to be performed, after which the spirit is set up as a household deity. The chief mourner bathes early in the morning, and offers a rice-ball (pinda bali) to the departed spirit. This he continues for fifteen days. On the morning of the sixteenth day, the members of the family bathe to free themselves from pollution, and their enangan cleans the hut and the compound by sweeping and sprinkling water mixed with cow-dung. He also sprinkles the members of the family, as they return after the bath. The chief mourner gets shaved, bathes, and [82]returns to the hut. Some boiled rice, paddy, and pieces of cocoanut, are placed on a plantain leaf, and the chief mourner, with the members of his family, calls on the spirit of the dead to take them. Then they all bathe, and return home. The castemen, who have assembled there by invitation, are sumptuously fed. The chief mourner allows his hair to grow as a sign of mourning (diksha), and, after the expiry of the year, a similar feast is given to the castemen.”

The Cherumans are said by Mr. Gopal Panikkar to “worship certain gods, who are represented by rude stone images. What few ceremonies are in force amongst them are performed by priests selected from their own ranks, and these priests are held in great veneration by them. They kill cocks as offerings to these deities, who are propitiated by the pouring on some stones placed near them of the fresh blood that gushes from the necks of the birds.” The Cherumans are further said to worship particular sylvan gods, garden deities, and field goddesses. In a note on cannibalism,38 the writer states that “some sixteen years ago a Nair was murdered in Malabar by some Cherumans. The body was mutilated, and, on my asking the accused (who freely confessed their crime) why had this been done? they answered ‘Tinnāl pāpam tīrum, i.e., if one eats, the sin will cease’.” It is a common belief among various castes of Hindus that one may kill, provided it is done for food, and this is expressed in the proverb Konnapāvam thīnnāl thirum, or the sin of killing is wiped away by eating. The Cheruman reply probably referred only to the wreaking of vengeance, and consequent satisfaction, which is often expressed by the [83]lower classes in the words pasi thirndadu, or hunger is satisfied.

Concerning the religion of the Pulayas, Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes as follows. “The Pulayas are animists, but are slowly coming on to the higher forms of worship. Their gods are Parakutty, Karinkutty, Chathan, and the spirits of their ancestors. Offerings to these gods are given on Karkadaka and Makara Sankrantis, Onam, Vishu, and other auspicious days, when one of the Pulayas present turns Velichapad (oracle), and speaks to the assembly as if by inspiration. They are also devout worshippers of Kali or Bhagavati, whose aid is invoked in all times of danger and illness. They take part in the village festivals celebrated in honour of her. Kodungallur Bhagavati is their guardian deity. The deity is represented by an image or stone on a raised piece of ground in the open air. Their priest is one of their own castemen, and, at the beginning of the new year, he offers to the goddess fowls, fruits, and toddy. The Pulayas also believe that spirits exercise an influence over the members of their families, and therefore regular offerings are given to them every year on Sankranti days. The chief festivals in which the Pulayas take part are the following:—

1. Pooram Vela.—This, which may be described as the Saturnalia of Malabar, is an important festival held at the village Bhagavati temple. It is a festival, in which the members of all castes below Brāhmans take part. It takes place either in Kumbham (February–March), or Meenam (March–April). The Cherumas of the northern part, as well as the Pulayas of the southern parts of the State, attend the festival after a sumptuous meal and toddy drinking, and join the procession. Toy horses are made, and attached to long bamboo poles, [84]which are carried to the neighbourhood of the temple. As they go, they leap and dance to the accompaniment of pipe and drum. One among them who acts as a Velichapad (devil-dancer) goes in front of them, and, after a good deal of dancing and loud praying in honour of the deity, they return home.

2. Vittu Iduka.—This festival consists in putting seeds, or bringing paddy seeds to the temple of the village Bhagavati. This also is an important festival, which is celebrated on the day of Bharani, the second lunar day in Kumbham. Standing at a distance assigned to them by the village authorities, where they offer prayers to Kali, they put the paddy grains, which they have brought, on a bamboo mat spread in front of them, after which they return home. In the Chittūr tāluk, there is a festival called Kathiru, celebrated in honour of the village goddess in the month of Vrischikam (November-December), when these people start from the farms of their masters, and go in procession, accompanied with the music of pipe and drum. A special feature of the Kathiru festival is the presence, at the temple of the village goddess, of a large number of dome-like structures made of bamboo and plantain stems, richly ornamented, and hung with flowers, leaves, and ears of corn. These structures are called sarakootams, and are fixed on a pair of parallel bamboo poles. These agrestic serfs bear them in grand processions, starting from their respective farms, with pipe and drum, shouting and dancing, and with fireworks. Small globular packets of palmyra leaves, in which are packed handfuls of paddy rolled up in straw, are also carried by them in huge bunches, along with the sarakootams. These packets are called kathirkootoos (collection of ears of corn), and are thrown among the crowd of [85]spectators all along the route of the procession, and also on arrival at the temple. The spectators, young and old, scramble to obtain as many of the packets as possible, and carry them home. They are then hung in front of the houses, for it is believed that their presence will help in promoting the prosperity of the family until the festival comes round again next year. The greater the number of these trophies obtained for a family by its members, the greater, it is believed, will be the prosperity of the family. The festival is one of the very few occasions on which Pulayas and other agrestic serfs, who are supposed to impart, so to speak, a long distant atmospheric pollution, are freely allowed to enter villages, and worship in the village temples, which generally occupy central positions in the villages. Processions carrying sarakootams and kathirkootoos start from the several farms surrounding the village early enough to reach the temple about dusk in the evening, when the scores of processions that have made their way to the temple merge into one great concourse of people. The sarakootams are arranged in beautiful rows in front of the village goddess. The Cherumas dance, sing, and shout to their hearts content. Bengal lights are lighted, and fireworks exhibited. Kathirkootoos are thrown by dozens and scores from all sides of the temple. The crowd then disperses. All night, the Pulayas and other serfs, who have accompanied the procession to the temple, are, in the majority of cases, fed by their respective masters at their houses, and then all go back to the farms.

3. Mandalam Vilakku.—This is a forty-one days’ festival in Bhagavati temples, extending from the first of Vrischikam (November-December) to the tenth of Dhanu (December-January), during which temples are [86]brightly illuminated both inside and outside at night. There is much music and drum-beating at night, and offerings of cooked peas or Bengal gram, and cakes, are made to the goddess, after which they are distributed among those present. The forty-first day, on which the festival terminates, is one of great celebration, when all castemen attend at the temple. The Cherumas, Malayars, and Eravallars attend the festival in Chittūr. They also attend the Konga Pata festival there. In rural parts of the State, a kind of puppet show performance (olapava koothu) is acted by Kusavans (potters) and Tamil Chettis, in honour of the village deity, to which they contribute their share of subscription. They also attend the cock festival of Cranganore, and offer sacrifices of fowls.”

For the following note on the religion of the Pulayas of Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Iyer. “The Pulayas worship the spirits of deceased ancestors, known as Chāvars. The Mātan, and the Anchu Tamprakkal, believed by the better informed section of the caste to be the five Pāndavas, are specially adored. The Pulayas have no temples, but raise squares in the midst of groves, where public worship is offered. Each Pulaya places three leaves near each other, containing raw rice, beaten rice, and the puveri (flowers) of the areca palm. He places a flower on each of these leaves, and prays with joined hands. Chāvars are the spirits of infants, who are believed to haunt the earth, harassed by a number of unsatisfied cravings. This species of supernatural being is held in mingled respect and terror by Pulayas, and worshipped once a year with diverse offerings. Another class of deities is called Tēvaratumpuran, meaning gods whom high caste Hindus are in the habit of worshipping at Parassalay; the [87]Pulayas are given certain special concessions on festival days. Similar instances may be noted at Ochira, Kumaranallur, and Nedumangad. At the last mentioned shrine, Mateer writes,39 ‘where two or three thousand people, mostly Sudras and Izhuvas, attend for the annual festival in March, one-third of the whole are Parayas, Kuravas, Vēdars, Kanikkars, and Pulayas, who come from all parts around. They bring with them wooden models of cows, neatly hung over, and covered, in imitation of shaggy hair, with ears of rice. Many of these images are brought, each in a separate procession from its own place. The headmen are finely dressed with cloths stained purple at the edge. The image is borne on a bamboo frame, accompanied by a drum, and men and women in procession, the latter wearing quantities of beads, such as several strings of red, then several of white, or strings of beads, and then a row of brass ornaments like rupees, and all uttering the Kurava cry. These images are carried round the temple, and all amuse themselves for the day.’ By far the most curious of the religious festivals of the Pulayas is what is known as the Pula Saturday in Makaram (January-February) at Sastamkotta in the Kunnattur tāluk. It is an old observance, and is most religiously gone through by the Pulayas every year. The Valluvan, or caste priest, leads the assembled group to the vicinity of the banyan tree in front of the temple, and offerings of a diverse nature, such as paddy, roots, plantain fruits, game, pulse, coins, and golden threads are most devoutly made. Pulayas assemble for this ceremony from comparatively distant places. A deity, who is believed to be the most important object of worship among the Pulayas, is Utaya [88]Tampuran, by which name they designate the rising sun. Exorcism and spirit-dancing are deeply believed in, and credited with great remedial virtues. The Kokkara, or iron rattle, is an instrument that is freely used to drive out evil spirits. The Valluvan who offers animal sacrifices becomes immediately afterwards possessed, and any enquiries may be put to him without it being at all difficult for him to furnish a ready answer. In North Travancore, the Pulayas have certain consecrated buildings of their own, such as Kamancheri, Omkara Bhagavathi, Yakshi Ampalam, Pey Koil, and Valiyapattu Muttan, wherein the Valluvan performs the functions of priesthood. The Pulayas believe in omens. To see another Pulaya, to encounter a Native Christian, to see an Izhuva with a vessel in the hand, a cow behind, a boat containing rice or paddy sacks, etc., are regarded as good omens. On the other hand, to be crossed by a cat, to see a fight between animals, to be encountered by a person with a bundle of clothes, to meet people carrying steel instruments, etc., are looked upon as very bad omens. The lizard is not believed to be a prophet, as it is by members of the higher castes.”

Concerning the caste government of the Pulayas of Travancore, Mr. Subramania Iyer writes as follows. “The Ayikkara Yajamanan, or Ayikkara Tamara (king) is the head of the Pulaya community. He lives at Vayalar in the Shertalley tāluk in North Travancore, and takes natural pride in a lace cap, said to have been presented to one of his ancestors by the great Cheraman Perumāl. Even the Parayas of North Travancore look upon him as their legitimate lord. Under the Tamara are two nominal headmen, known as Tatteri Achchan and Mannat Koil Vallon. It is the Ayikkara Tamara who appoints the Valluvans, or local priests, for every kara, [89]for which they are obliged to remunerate him with a present of 336 chuckrams. The Pulayas still keep accounts in the earliest Travancorean coins (chuckrams). The Valluvan always takes care to obtain a written authority from the Tamara, before he begins his functions. For every marriage, a sum of 49 chuckrams and four mulikkas40 have to be given to the Tamara, and eight chuckrams and one mulikka to the Valluvan. The Valluvan receives the Tamara’s dues, and sends them to Vayalar once or twice a year. Beyond the power of appointing Valluvans and other office-bearers, the authority of the Tamara extends but little. The Valluvans appointed by him prefer to call themselves Head Valluvans, as opposed to the dignitaries appointed in ancient times by temple authorities and other Brāhmans, and have a general supervising power over the Pulayas of the territory that falls under their jurisdiction. Every Valluvan possesses five privileges, viz., (1) the long umbrella, or an umbrella with a long bamboo handle; (2) the five-coloured umbrella; (3) the bracelet of honour; (4) a long gold ear-ring; (5) a box for keeping betel leaves. They are also permitted to sit on stools, to make use of carpets, and to employ kettle-drums at marriage ceremonials. The staff of the Valluvan consists of (1) the Kuruppan or accountant, who assists the Valluvan in the discharge of his duties; (2) the Komarattan or exorciser; (3) the Kaikkaran or village representative; (4) the Vatikkaran, constable or sergeant. The Kuruppan has diverse functions to perform, such as holding umbrellas, and cutting cocoanuts from trees, on ceremonial occasions. The Vatikkaran is of special importance at the bath that succeeds a Pulaya girl’s first [90]menses. Adultery is looked upon as the most heinous of offences, and used to be met with condign punishment in times of old. The woman was required to thrust her hand into a vessel of boiling oil, and the man was compelled to pay a fine of 336 or 64 chuckrams, according as the woman with whom he connected himself was married or not, and was cast out of society after a most cruel rite called Ariyum Pirayum Tittukka, the precise nature of which does not appear to be known. A married woman is tried by the Valluvan and other officers, when she shows disobedience to her husband.”

It is noted by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer, that, “in the Palghat tāluk of South Malabar, it is said that the Cherumas in former times used to hold grand meetings for cases of theft, adultery, divorce, etc., at Kannati Kutti Vattal. These assemblies consisted of the members of their caste in localities between Valayar forests and Karimpuzha (in Valluvanād tāluk), and in those between the northern and southern hills. It is also said that their deliberations used to last for several days together. In the event of anybody committing a crime, the punishment inflicted on him was a fine of a few rupees, or sometimes a sound thrashing. To prove his innocence, a man had to swear ‘By Kannati Swarupam (assembly) I have not done it.’ It was held so sacred that no Cheruman who had committed a crime would swear falsely by this assembly. As time went on, they found it difficult to meet, and so left off assembling together.”

In connection with the amusements of the Pulayas, Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes that “their games appear to be connected in some way with their religious observances. Their favourite dance is the kole kali, or club dance. A party of ten or twelve men, provided with sticks, each a yard in length, stand in a circle, and [91]move round, striking at the sticks, keeping time with their feet, and singing at the same time. The circle is alternately widened and narrowed. Vatta kali is another wild dance. This also requires a party of ten or twelve men, and sometimes young women join them. The party move in a circle, clapping their hands while they sing a kind of rude song. In thattinmel kali, four wooden poles are firmly stuck in the ground, two of which are connected by two horizontal pieces of wood, over which planks are arranged. A party of Pulayas dance on the top of this, to the music of their pipe and drum. This is generally erected in front of the Bhagavati temple, and the dancing takes place immediately after the harvest. This is intended to propitiate the goddess. Women perform a circular dance on the occasions of marriage celebrations.”

The Cherumas and Pulayas are, like the Koragas of South Canara, short of stature, and dark-skinned. The most important measurements of the Cherumans whom I investigated at Calicut were as follows:—

Stature, cm. Nasal index. Cephalic index.
Average. Average. Average.
Males 157.5 78.1 73.9
Females 147.8 77. 74.8

Cheruppu-katti (shoemaker).—Said to be a Malayālam synonym for Mādiga.

Chetti.—It is noted in the Census Report, 1891, that “the name Chetti is used both to denote a distinct caste, and also a title, and people bearing this title describe themselves loosely as belonging to the Chetti caste, in the same way as a Vellāla will say that he is a Mudali. [92]This use of Chetti has caused some confusion in the returns, for the sub-divisions show that many other castes have been included as well as Chetti proper.” Again, in the Census Report, 1901, it is recorded that “Chetti means trader, and is one of those titular or occupational terms, which are often loosely employed as caste names. The weavers, oil pressers, and others use it as a title, and many more tack it on to their names, to denote that trade is their occupation. Strictly employed, it is nevertheless, the name of a true caste.” The Chettis are so numerous, and so widely distributed, that their many sub-divisions differ very greatly in their ways. The best known of them are the Bēri Chettis, the Nagarattu Chettis, the Kāsukkar Chettis, and the Nāttukōttai Chettis. Of these, the Bēri and Nāttukōttai Chettis are dealt with in special articles. The following divisions of Chettis, inhabiting the Madura district, are recorded in my notes:—

  • (a) Men with head clean-shaved:—
    • Ilavagai or Karnakudi.
    • Sundaraththan.
    • Ariyūr.
    • Malampatti.
    • Pālayapattu.
    • Thedakōttai.
    • Periyakōttai-vellān.
    • Puliyangudi.
    • Vallam or Tiruvappūr.
    • Kurungalūr.
  • (b) Men with kudumi (hair knot):—
    • Puvaththukudi or Mannagudi.
    • Kiramangalam.
    • Vallanāttu.
    • Mārayakkāra.
    • Pandukudi or Manjapaththu.

Of these, the Puvaththukudi Chettis, who receive their name from a village in the Tanjore district, are mostly itinerant petty traders and money-lenders, who travel about the country. They carry on their shoulders a bag containing their personal effects, except when they [93]are cooking and sleeping. I am informed that the Puvaththukudi women engage women, presumably with a flow of appropriate language ready for the occasion, to abuse those with whom they have a quarrel. Among the Puvaththukudi Chettis, marriages are, for reasons of economy, only celebrated at intervals of many years. Concerning this custom, a member of the community writes to me as follows. “In our village, marriages are performed only once in ten or fifteen years. My own marriage was celebrated in the year Nandana (1892–93). Then seventy or eighty marriages took place. Since that time, marriages have only taken place in the present year (1906). The god at Avadaiyar kōvil (temple) is our caste god. For marriages, we must receive from that temple garlands, sandal, and palanquins. We pay to the temple thirty-five rupees for every bridegroom through our Nagaraththar (village headmen). The expenses incurred in connection with the employment of washermen, barbers, nāgasaram (musical instrument) players, talayāris (watchmen), carpenters, potters, blacksmiths, gurukkals (priests), and garland-makers, are borne collectively and shared by the families in which marriages are to take place.” Another Chetti writes that this system of clubbing marriages together is practised at the villages of Puvaththukudi and Mannagudi, and that the marriages of all girls of about seven years of age and upwards are celebrated. The marriages are performed in batches, and the marriage season lasts over several months.

Palayasengadam in the Trichinopoly district is the head-quarters of a section of the Chettis called the Pannirendām (twelfth) Chettis. “These are supposed to be descended from eleven youths who escaped long ago from Kāvēripatnam, a ruined city in Tanjore. A [94]Chōla king, says the legend, wanted to marry a Chetti; whereupon the caste set fire to the town, and only these eleven boys escaped. They rested on the Ratnagiri hill to divide their property; but however they arranged it, it always divided itself into twelve shares instead of eleven. The god of Ratnagiri then appeared, and asked them to give him one share in exchange for a part of his car. They did so, and they now call themselves the twelfth Chettis from the number of the shares, and at their marriages they carry the bridegroom round in a car. They are said to be common in Coimbatore district.”41

At the census, 1871, some of the less fortunate traders returned themselves as “bankrupt Chettis.”

The following castes and tribes are recorded as having assumed the title Chetti, or its equivalent Setti:—

  • Balija. Telugu trading caste.
  • Bant. Tulu cultivating caste.
  • Bilimagga, Dēvānga, Patnūlkāran, Sāliyan, Sēdan, Seniyan. All weaving classes.
  • Dhōbi. Oriya washermen.
  • Gāniga. Oil pressers.
  • Gamalla. Telugu toddy-drawers.
  • Gauda. Canarese cultivators.
  • Gudigar. Canarese wood-carvers.
  • Jain.
  • Janappan. Said to have been originally a section of the Balijas, and manufacturers of gunny-bags.
  • Kavarai. Tamil equivalent of Balija.
  • Kōmati. Telugu traders.
  • Koracha. A nomad tribe.
  • Kudumi. A Travancore caste, which does service in the houses of Konkani Brāhmans.
  • Mandādan Chetti.
  • Mēdara. Telugu cane splitters and mat makers. [95]
  • Nāyar. Occupational title of some Nāyars of Malabar.
  • Pattanavan. Tamil fishermen.
  • Pattapu. Fishermen in the Telugu country.
  • Sēnaikkudaiyān. Tamil betel-vine growers and traders.
  • Shānān. The great toddy-drawing class of the Tamil country.
  • Sonar. Goldsmiths.
  • Toreya. Canarese fishermen.
  • Uppiliyan. Salt-workers. Some style themselves Karpura (camphor) Chetti, because they used to manufacture camphor.
  • Vāniyan. Tamil oil-pressers.
  • Wynaadan Chetti.

Of proverbs relating to Chettis,42 the following may be quoted:—

He who thinks before he acts is a Chetti, but he who acts without thinking is a fool.

When the Chetti dies, his affairs will become public.

She keeps house like a merchant caste woman, i.e., economically.

Though ruined, a Chetti is a Chetti, and, though torn, silk is still silk.

The Chetti reduced the amount of advance, and the weaver the quantity of silk in the border of the cloth.

From his birth a Chetti is at enmity with agriculture.

In a note on secret trade languages Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes as follows.43 “The most interesting of these, perhaps, is that spoken by petty shopkeepers and cloth merchants of Madras, who are mostly Moodellys and Chettis by caste. Their business mostly consists in ready-money transactions, and so we find that they have [96]a regular table of numerals. Numbers one to ten have been given definite names, and they have been so long in use that most of them do not understand the meaning of the terms they use. Thus madi (mind) stands for one, mind being always represented in the Hindu shastras as a single thing. Venē (act or deed) stands for two, for venē is of two kinds only, nalvenē and thivenē or good and bad acts. Konam (quality) stands for three, since three different sorts of qualities are recognised in Hindu metaphysics. These are rājasam, thāmasam, and sāthmīkam. Shuruthi stands for four, for the Srutis or Vēdas are four in numbers. Sara (arrow) stands for five, after Panchasara, the five-arrowed, a well-known name of Manmatha, the Indian Cupid. Matha represents six, after the shan mathams or six systems of Hindu philosophy. Thērē stands for seven, after the seven oceans recognised by the Sanskrit geographers. Giri (mountain) represents eight, since it stands for ashtagiri or the eight mountains of the Hindus. Mani stands for nine, after navamani, the nine different sorts of precious stones recognised by the Hindus. Thisai represents ten, from the ten points of the compass. The common name for rupee is vellē or the white thing. Thangām vellē stands for half a rupee, pinji vellē for a quarter of a rupee, and pū vellē for an eighth of a rupee. A fanam (or 1¼ annas) is known as shulai. The principal objects with which those who use this language have to deal with are padi or measure, vellē or rupee, and madi anā, one anna, so that madi padi means one measure, madi vellē one rupee, and madi anā one anna. Similarly with the rest of the numerals. The merchants of Trichinopoly have nearly the same table of numerals, but the names for the fractions of a rupee vary considerably. Mūndri anā is, with them, one anna; ē anā is two [97]annas; pū anā is four annas; pani anā is eight annas and mūna anā is twelve annas. Among them also vellē stands for a rupee. They have besides another table of numerals in use, which is curious as being formed by certain letters of the Tamil alphabet. Thus pīna stands for one, lāna for two, laina for three, yāna for four, līna for five, māna for six, vāna for seven, nāna for eight, thīna for nine, and thuna for ten. These letters have been strung into the mnemonic phrase Pillayalam Vanthathu, which literally means ‘the children have come’. This table is also used in connection with measures, rupees, and annas. Dealers in coarse country-made cloths all over Madras and the Chingleput district have a table of their own. It is a very complete one from one pie to a thousand rupees. Occasionally Hindu merchants are found using a secret language based on Hindustani. This is the case in one part of Madras city. With them pāv khānē stands for one anna, ada khānē for two annas, pāvak ruppē for one rupee, and so on. Brokers have terms of their own. The Tamil phrase padiya par, when used by them, means ask less or say less, according as it is addressed to the purchaser or seller. Similarly, mudukka par means ask a higher price. When a broker says Sivan thāmbram, it is to be inferred that the price given out by the seller includes his own brokerage. Telugu brokers have similar terms. Among them, the phrase Malasu vakkādu and Nāsi vakkādu denote respectively increase the rate, and decrease the rate stated.”

Chevvula (ears).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Golla.

Cheyyakkāran.—A Malayālam form of the Canarese Servēgāra.

Chikala (broom).—An exogamous sept of Tōttiyan. [98]

Chikka (small).—A sub-division of Kurni.

Chikkudu (Dolichos Lablab).—An exogamous sept of Mūka Dora.

Chilakala (paroquet).—An exogamous sept of Bōya, Kāpu and Yānādi.

Chilla (Strychnos potatorum: clearing-nut tree).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba, and sub-division of Tōttiyan.

Chīmala (ant).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Tsākala.

Chimpiga (tailor).—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a Lingāyat sub-caste of Rangāri. In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Darjis are classified as follows:—”(1) Darji, Chippiga, or Namdev; (2) Rangāre.” The first three, known by the collective name of Darji, are professional tailors, while the Rangāres are also dyers and calico printers.

Chimpiri (rags).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Chinērigādu.—A class of mendicants connected with the Padma Sālēs. (See Dēvānga.)

Chinda.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small caste of Oriya cultivators in Ganjam and Vizagapatam.

Chinese-Tamil Cross.—Halting in the course of an anthropological expedition on the western side of the Nīlgiri plateau, I came across a small settlement of Chinese, who have squatted for some time on the slopes of the hills between Naduvatam and Gudalūr and developed, as the result of alliances with Tamil Pariah women, into a colony, earning a modest livelihood by cultivating vegetables and coffee.

The original Chinese who arrived on the Nīlgiris were convicts from the Straits Settlement, where there was no sufficient prison accommodation, who were confined [99]in the Nīlgiri jail. It is recorded44 that, in 1868, twelve of the Chinamen “broke out during a very stormy night, and parties of armed police were sent out to scour the hills for them. They were at last arrested in Malabar a fortnight later. Some police weapons were found in their possession, and one of the parties of police had disappeared—an ominous circumstance. Search was made all over the country for the party, and at length their four bodies were found lying in the jungle at Walaghāt, half way down the Sispāra ghāt path, neatly laid out in a row with their severed heads carefully placed on their shoulders.”

The measurements of a single family are recorded in the following table:—

Cephalic length. Cephalic breadth. Cephalic index. Nasal length. Nasal breadth. Nasal index.
Tamil Paraiyan. Mother of children. 18.1 13.9 76.8 4.7 3.7 78.7
Chinese Father of children. 18.6 14.6 78.5 5.3 3.8 71.7
Chinese-Tamil Girl, aged 18 17.6 14.1 80.1 4.7 3.2 68.1
Chinese-Tamil Boy, aged 10 18.1 14.3 79 4.6 3.3 71.7
Chinese-Tamil Boy, aged 9 17 14 82.4 4.4 3.3 72.7
Chinese-Tamil Boy, aged 5 17.1 13.7 80.1 4.1 2.8 68.3

The father was a typical Chinaman, whose only grievance was that, in the process of conversion to Christianity, he had been obliged to “cut him tail off.” The mother was a typical dark-skinned Tamil Paraiyan. The colour of the children was more closely allied to the yellowish tint of the father than to that of the mother; and the semi-Mongol parentage was betrayed in the [100]slant eyes, flat nose and (in one case) conspicuously prominent cheek-bones.

To have recorded the entire series of measurements of the children would have been useless for the purpose of comparison with those of the parents, and I selected from my repertoire the length and breadth of the head and nose, which plainly indicate the paternal influence on the external anatomy of the offspring. The figures given in the table bring out very clearly the great breadth, as compared with the length, of the heads of all the children, and the resultant high cephalic index. In other words, in one case a mesaticephalic (79), and, in the remaining three cases, a sub-brachycephalic head (80.1; 80.1; 82.4) has resulted from the union of a mesaticephalic Chinaman (78.5) with a sub-dolichocephalic Tamil Paraiyan (76.8). How great is the breadth of the head in the children may be emphasised by noting that the average head-breadth of the adult Tamil Paraiyan man is only 13.7 cm., whereas that of the three boys, aged ten, nine, and five only, was 14.3, 14, and 13.7 cm. respectively.

Quite as strongly marked is the effect of paternal influence on the character of the nose; the nasal index, in the case of each child (68.1; 71.772; 7; 68.3), bearing a much closer relation to that of the long-nosed father (71.7) than to the typical Paraiyan nasal index of the broad-nosed mother (78.7).

It will be interesting to note hereafter what is the future of the younger members of this quaint little colony, and to observe the physical characters, temperament, fecundity, and other points relating to the cross breed resulting from the blend of Chinese and Tamil.

Chinna (little).—A sub-division of Bōya, Kunnuvan, Konda Dora, Pattanavan, and Pattapu, and an [101]exogamous sept of Māla. Chinna, chinnam, and chinnada, denoting gold, occur as exogamous septs of Kuruba, Padma Sālē, Toreya, and Vakkaliga.

Chintala (tamarind: Tamarindus Indica).—An exogamous sept of Ghāsi, Golla, Mādiga, and Māla. Chintyakula, or tamarind sept, occurs among the Kōmatis; chintaginjala (tamarind seeds) as an exogamous sept of Padma Sālēs, and of Panta Reddis, who may not touch or use the seeds; and Chintakai or Chintakayala (tamarind fruit) as an exogamous sept of Bōyas and Devāngas.

Chirla (woman’s cloth).—An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Chitikan.—A synonym of Mārān, indicating one whose occupation relates to the funeral pyre. A Chitikan, for example, performs the funeral rites for the Mūssads.

Chiti Karnam.—A name of the Oriya Karnam caste. A vulgar form of Sresta Karnam (Sreshto Korono).

Chitra Ghāsi.—The Chitra Ghāsis, for the following note on whom I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, are a class of artisans, whose name, meaning Ghāsis who make artistic things, bears reference to their occupation. They are employed in the manufacture of brass and bell-metal jewelry, such as is largely worn by the tribes inhabiting the Jeypore Agency tracts, and are generally found attached to Kond and Savara villages. They are a polluting class, and their dwellings are consequently situated at some distance from the huts of the villagers. Their language is a corrupt form of Oriya.

Girls are usually married after puberty. A man can claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage. When such a marriage is contemplated, his parents take a [102]little rice and a pot of liquor to the home of the paternal aunt. If they are accepted, it is taken as a sign that the match is agreed to, and the jholla tonka (bride-price) of twelve rupees is paid. After some time has elapsed, the bride is conducted to the home of her future husband, and the marriage is there celebrated. A younger brother may marry the widow of an elder brother, and, if such a woman contracts a marriage with some other man, her second husband has to give a cow to the younger brother who has been passed over. The dead are burnt, and death pollution is observed for three days, during which the caste occupation is not carried on. On the third day, the ashes are collected together, and a fowl is killed. The ashes are then buried, or thrown into running water.

Chitrakāra or Chitrakāro.—The Chitrakāros of Ganjam, who are a class of Oriya painters (chitra, painting), are returned in the Census Report, 1901, as a sub-caste of Muchi. In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, the Chitragāras are said to be “also called Bannagāra of the Rāchevar (or Rāju) caste. They are painters, decorators and gilders, and make trunks, palanquins, ‘lacquer’ toys and wooden images for temples, cars, etc.” At Channapatna in Mysore, I interviewed a Telugu Chitrakāra, who was making toys out of the white wood of Wrightia tinctoria. The wood was turned on a primitive lathe, consisting of two steel spikes fixed into two logs of wood on the ground. Seated on the floor in front of his lathe, the artisan chucked the wood between the spikes, and rotated it by means of a bow held in the right hand, whereof the string was passed round the wood. The chisel was held between the sole of the right foot and palm of the left hand. Colours and varnish were applied to the rotating toy with sticks [103]of paint like sealing-wax, and strips of palm leaf smeared with varnish. In addition to the turned toys, models of fruits were made from mud and sawdust, cane cradles made by Mēdaras were painted and idols manufactured for the Holi festival at Bangalore, and the figure of Sidi Vīranna for the local pseudo-hook-swinging ceremony. The Chitrakāras, whom I saw at Tumkūr, had given up making toys, as it did not pay. They manufacture big wooden idols (grāma dēvata), e.g., Ellamma and Māriamma, and vehicles for various deities in the shape of bulls, snakes, peacocks, lions, tigers, and horses. They further make painted figures of Lakshmi, and heads of Gauri, the wife of Siva, decorated with gold-leaf jewels, which are worshipped by Brāhmans, Vakkaligas, Kōmatis, and others at the annual Gauri pūja; and mandahāsa (god houses) with pillars carved with figures of Narasimha and conventional designs. These mandahāsas serve as a receptacle for the household gods (sālagrāma stone, lingam, etc.), which are worshipped daily by Smarta and Mādhva Brāhmans. These Chitrakāras claimed to be Suryavamsam, or of the lunar race of Kshatriyas, and wear the sacred thread.

Chitravaliar.—A synonym of Alavan.

Chōgan.See Izhava.

Chōlapuram or Shōlavaram.—A sub-division of Chetti.

Chōliya Pattar.—A name for Pattar Brāhmans in Malabar.

Chondi.See Sondi.

Chōutagāra.—A corrupt form of Chaptēgāra.

Chōvatton.—Priests of Mūttans and Tarakans.

Chuditiya.See Kevuto.

Chunam (lime).—A sub-division of Toreyas, who are manufacturers of lime. Chunam, made from calcined [104]shells, limestone, etc., is largely used for building purposes, and the chunam plaster of Madras has been long celebrated for its marble-like polish. Chunam is also chewed with betel.

Chuvano.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small Oriya cultivating caste, supposed to be of Kshatriya parentage.

1 Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson.

2 Manual of the North Arcot district.

3 The bark of the āvaram plant is one of the most valuable Indian tanning agents.

4 Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781.

5 Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies.

6 Manual of the Tanjore district, 1883.

7 Manual of the Madura district.

8 Monograph of Tanning and Working in Leather, 1904.

9 Pratilōma, as opposed to an anuloma union, is the marriage of a female of a higher caste with a man of a lower one.

10 Madras Census Report, 1901.

11 Madras Census Report, 1871.

12 Madras Police Gazette, 1902.

13 I. No. 4. 1908, Vellore.

14 Criminal Tribes of India, No. III, 1907.

15 Criminal Classes in the Bombay Presidency.

16 Manual of the South Canara district.

17 Manual of the South Canara district.

18 Journal Asiatic Society, XXV, 1857.

19 Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar.

20 Journal Royal Asiatic Society, VIII, 1846.

21 Fauna, British India, Mammalia.

22 Cassia auriculata.

23 Marriage chaplet worn on the forehead.

24 Wrist-threads dyed with turmeric.

25 Madras Census Report, 1891.

26 Monograph, Eth. Survey of Cochin, No. 6, 1906.

27 Manual of Malabar.

28 Calcutta Review, 1900.

29 Madras Police Report, 1904.

30 Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

31 Malabar and its Folk, 1900.

32 Karunakara Menon, Madras Mus. Bull., V. 2, 1906.

33 Madras Mail, 1908.

34 S. Appadorai Iyer.

35 Calcutta Review, 1900.

36 One fanam = four annas eight pies.

37 Madras Mail, 1895.

38 Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

39 Native Life in Travancore.

40 A mulikka is the collective name for a present of five betel leaves, one areca nut, and two tobacco leaves.

41 Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly district.

42 Rev. H. Jensen, Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897.

43 Madras Mail, 1904.

44 Gazetteer of the Nilgiris.


Dāindla.—The name, denoting those who hid or ran away, of a sub-division of Māla.

Daivampati.—Recorded in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a caste included among Ambalavāsis, and a sub-division of Nāyar.

Dakkala.—Dakkala or Dakkali is the name of a class of mendicants who beg from Mādigas only. In the Kurnool district they are said to have divided the district with the Mushtis, and not to beg except within their own limits.

The following story is told as regards the origin of the Dakkalas. A smith was asked to make a bottu (marriage badge) for Siva’s wedding, and for this purpose required bellows, fire-pot, hammer, etc. Jāmbuvadu called his eldest son, and prepared the various implements from sundry parts of the body, except the backbone. Being highly pleased at this, the gods endowed the backbone with life, and the son went to his father Jāmbuvadu, who failed to recognise him, and refused to admit him. He was told that he must live as a beggar attached to the Mādigas, and was called Dakkala because he was brought to life from a vertebral column (dakka).

The Dakkalas wander from place to place. They may not enter Mādiga houses, outside which meals are [105]given to them by males only, as females are not allowed to serve them. Mādiga women may not tread on the footsteps of the Dakkalas.

Dakku (fear).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Dakni.—Dakni or Deccani is defined in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a territorial name meaning a Musalman of the Deccan; also a name loosely applied to converts to Islam.” In the Tanjore district, Muhammadans who speak Hindustani, and claim pure Muhammadan descent, are spoken of as Daknis or Dakanis. In other Tamil districts they are called Patānigal, to distinguish them from Labbais and Marakkāyars. The Daknis follow the Muhammadan ritual except in their marriages, which afford an example of a blend between Hindu and Muhammadan ceremonials. Like Hindus, they erect, at times of marriage, a milk-post of bamboo, to which are tied a two-anna piece, and a bit of sugar-candy done up in a Turkey red cloth. The post is handed to the headman, who decorates it with a garland of flowers and a roll of betel, and places it in a hole made in the court-yard of the house, wherein milk has been sprinkled. On the following day, two big pots are placed near the milk-post, and filled with water by four married couples. Around the pots, nine kinds of seed grains are sprinkled. On the third day, the bridegroom’s party proceeds to the house of the bride with thirteen trays of betel, fruits, flowers, sandal paste, and a paste made of turmeric and henna (Lawsonia alba) leaves. The bride is decorated, and sits on a plank. Women smear the face and hands of the bridal couple with the pastes, and one of them, or the bridegroom’s sister, ties a string of black beads round the bride’s neck. While this is being done, no one should sneeze. Wrist threads (kankanam) are tied on the [106]wrists of the bride and bridegroom. On the fourth day, the nikka rite is celebrated, and the newly-married couple sit together while the nalagu ceremony of smearing them with sandal, and waving coloured water (ārati), is performed. The two pots containing water are kept for forty days, and then examined. If the water remains sweet, and does not “teem with vermin,” it is regarded as a good omen. The seed grains, too, should by this time have developed into healthy seedlings.

Dammula.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small class of Telugu beggars, and priests in the temples of village goddesses.

Dandāsi.—The Dandāsis are summed up in the Ganjam Manual as being village watchmen, many of whom are great thieves. “It is curious,” Mr. S. P. Rice writes,1 “to find that the word Naiko [meaning leader or chief], which is corrupted into the Telugu Naidu, is the caste distinction of the lowest class, the village watcher and professional thief. This man, for all that his cognomen is so lofty, goes by the generic name of Dandāsi. This word means worthy of punishment, and assuredly no appellation ever fitted its owner more completely than does this. He is the village policeman and the village thief, a curious mixture of callings.” According to other versions, the name is derived from danda, a stick, and āsi, sword, from dandabādi, a stout bamboo stick, or from dandapāsi, stick and rope, in reference to the insignia of the Dandāsi’s office.

A large number of criminals, undergoing punishment in Ganjam for robbery and thieving, are Dandāsis. The members of the caste, like the Tamil Kallans, believe [107]that thieving is their traditional occupation, and, as such, regard it as justifiable. There is a legend that they adopted this occupation as their profession because their ancestors assisted the Pāndavas to escape from the lac fort which was constructed by the Kurus with a view to killing them, by digging a secret subterranean passage. According to another story, the Dandāsis are descended from the offspring of a clandestine amour of Krishna with Dhūuthika, Rādha’s handmaid. The Dandāsis perform an interesting ceremony of initiation into the profession of thieving, when a child is born. When it is three or five days old, the headman (Bēhara) is invited to attend. A breach is made in the wall, or beneath the door sill. Through this the infant is passed by the Bēhara three times, and received by some members of the family. Each time the Bēhara repeats the words “Enter, baby enter. May you excel your father!” The Dandāsis, when questioned concerning this custom, denied its existence, but some admitted that it was carried out in former days. An old woman stated that her grandchild was passed through a breach beneath the door, but was not inclined to enter into details.

A number of exogamous septs occur among the Dandāsis, of which the following may be noted. Members of the Santarāsi sept must avoid using mats made of the sedge which goes by this name. Kilalendias avoid touching the bamboo posts used by washermen to support the ropes on which cloths are hung to dry. They sacrifice a pig and seven fowls to their gods on the new-moon day, on which the head of a male child is first shaved. Diyāsis show special reverence for the sun, and cloths, mokkutos (forehead chaplets), garlands, and other articles to be used by the bride and bridegroom at a [108]wedding, are placed outside the house, so that they may be exposed to it. Members of the Ekopothiriya sept are regarded as low in the social scale, and the following legend is narrated to account for this. A Dandāsi went, with his relations and friends, to the house of a Dandāsi of the Ekopothiriya sept, to arrange a marriage. The guests were hospitably received, and the prospective bride asked her father what kind of curry was going to be served to them. He replied that barikolora (backyard Momordica)2 was to be cooked. This aroused the curiosity of some of the guests, who went to the backyard, where, instead of Momordica, they saw several blood-suckers (lizards) running about. They jumped to the conclusion that these were what the host referred to as barikolora, and all the guests took their departure. Ekopothiriyas will not partake of food from the same plate as their grown-up children, even if a married daughter comes on a visit to them.

The Dandāsis worship various Tākurānis (village deities), e.g., Sankaithuni, Kulladankuni, Kombēsari and Kālimuki. The gods are either represented temporarily by brass vessels, or permanently by three masses of clay, into each of which a small bit of gold is thrust. When Bassia (mahuā) buds or mangoes are first eaten in their season, a sacrifice is made, and a goat and fowl are killed before the produce of the harvest is first partaken of.

The Dandāsis have a headman, called Bēhara, who exercises authority over several groups of villages, and each group is under a Nāyako, who is assisted by a Dondia. For every village there is a Bholloboya, and, in some places, there is an officer, called Boda Mundi, [109]appointed by the Zamindar, to whom irregularities in the community have to be reported. When a woman is delivered of a still-born child, the whole family is under pollution for eleven days. The headman is then invited to attend, and presents are given to him. He sprinkles water over members of the family, and they are thereby freed from this pollution.

A certain portion of the property stolen by Dandāsis is set apart for the headman, and, like the Tamil Kallans and Maravans, they seem to have a blackmailing system. If a Dandāsi is engaged as a watchman, property is safe, or, if stolen, is recovered and restored to its owner.

Girls are married after puberty. A man may marry his maternal uncle’s, but not his paternal aunt’s daughter. The marriage ceremonies usually last three days, but are sometimes spread over seven days, in imitation of the higher castes. On the day (gondo sono) before the wedding day, seven new pots are brought from a potter’s house, and placed in a room. Seven women throw Zizyphus jujuba leaves over them, and they are filled with water at a tank (pond). One of the pots must be carried by the sister-in-law of the bridegroom. A brass vessel is tied up, and worshipped. Towards evening, a fowl is sacrificed at an ‘ant’ hill. The bridegroom is shaved on this day by his sister’s husband. Like other Oriya castes, the Dandāsis collect water at seven houses, but only from those of members of castes higher than their own. The pot containing this water is hung up over the marriage dais (bedi). On the wedding (bibha) day, the bridegroom sits on the dais, with the bride, seated in her maternal uncle’s lap or at his side, in front of him. The headman, or some respected elder of the community, places a [110]betel nut cutter, on, or with some rice and betel nut between the united hands of the contracting couple, and ties them together with seven turns of a turmeric-dyed thread. He then announces that ... the granddaughter of ... and daughter of ... is united to ... the grandson of ... and son of ... The parents of the bride and bridegroom pour turmeric-water from a chank (Turbinella rapa) shell or leaf over their united hands. The nut-cutter is removed by the bride’s brother, and, after striking the bridegroom, he goes away. The couple then play with cowry (Cypræ arabica) shells, and, while they are so engaged, the ends of their cloths are tied together, and the rice which is in their hands is tied in a knot. When the play is finished, this knot is untied, and the rice is measured in a small earthen pot, first on behalf of the bride, and is pronounced to be all right. It is then again measured, and said to have diminished in quantity. This gives rise to jokes at the expense of the bridegroom, who is called a thief, and other hard names. Those who imitate the ceremonial of the higher castes make the bridegroom go away in feigned anger, after he has broken the pot which is hanging over the dais. He is brought back by his brother-in-law.

On the occasion of the first menstrual period, a girl is under pollution for seven days. If she is engaged to be married, her future father-in-law makes her a present of jewels and money on the seventh day, and thereby confirms the marriage contract.

The dead are cremated. A widow accompanies the corpse of her husband to the boundary of the village, carrying a ladle and pot, which she throws down at the boundary, and returns home. On the day after the [111]funeral, the embers are extinguished, and an effigy of the deceased is made on the spot where he was cremated, and food offered to it. Toddy is distributed among those who have assembled at the house. On the tenth day, food is offered on ten fragments of pots. On the eleventh day, if the dead man was an important personage in the community, a ceremony, corresponding to the jola jola handi of the higher castes, is performed. A cloth is spread on the ground, on the spot where the corpse was cremated, and the ground round it swept by women, whose backs are turned towards the cloth, so that they cannot see it. Two men, with swords or big knives, sit by the side of the cloth and wait till an insect settles on the cloth. They then at once put the swords or knives on the cloth, and, folding it up, place it on a new winnowing-basket. It is taken home, placed on the floor, and connected by means of a long thread with the household god (mass of clay or vessel). It is then shaken near the god, so that the insect falls out.

Dandāsi further occurs as a sub-division of the Kondras, the members of which have taken to the profession of village watchmen.

Dandi (a staff).—A house name of Korava.

Dandu (army).—A sub-division of Īdiga, and an exogamous sept of Bōya and Kāpu. It has been suggested that the name is not Dandu but Dandē, meaning pole, in reference to the apparatus used by the Īdigas in climbing palm trees for the extraction of toddy. Dandu Agasa, indicating army washerman, occurs as a name for some Marātha Dhōbis in Mysore, whose forefathers probably accompanied armies in times of war.

Dāra (stream of water).—An exogamous sept of Māla. [112]

Darabala.—Taken, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub-caste of Māla. It is a common house-name among many Telugu castes.

Dārāla (thread).—An exogamous sept of Mādiga.

Darzi.—Darzi or Darjī is a Muhammadan occupational term, meaning tailor. “The east,” it has been said,3 “now sews by machinery. The name of Singer is known from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. In every bazaar in India one may see men—they are always men, not women—in turban or Mussalman cap, crouching over the needle-plate, and working the pedals.” The value of the imports of sewing-machines rose, in British India, from Rs. 5,91,046 in 1901–02 to Rs. 10,06,625 in 1904–05.

Dās.—The title of Jain immigrants from Northern India, most of whom are established as merchants, and also of the Mahants of the Tirumala (Tirupati) temple, e.g., Balarām Dās, Bhagavān Dās.

Dasari.—“Dasari or Tādan,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,4 “is a mendicant caste of Vaishnavas, the reputed descendants of a wealthy Sūdra of one of the northern districts, who, being devoid of offspring, vowed that, should he be blessed with children, he would devote one to the service of his god. He subsequently had many sons, one of whom he named Dāsan (servant), and placed entirely at the service of the deity. Dāsan forfeited all claim to participate in his father’s estate, and his offspring are therefore all beggars.

“The caste, like that of the Sātānis, is reinforced by idle members of the lower Sūdra classes, who, being branded by the gurus of Tirupati and other shrines, become Dāsaris thereby. They usually wander about, [113]singing hymns to a monotonous accompaniment upon a leather instrument called tappai (tabret). Some Sūdra castes engage them thus to chant in front of the corpse at funerals, and many, accompanying bands of pilgrims travelling to Tirupati, stimulate their religious excitement by singing sacred songs. A few, called Yerudāndis, (q.v.), take possession of young bulls that have been devoted to a swāmi, and teach them to perform tricks very cleverly. The bulls appear to understand what is said to them, and go through various antics at the word of command. Some Dāsaris exhibit what is called the Panda Sērvai performance, which consists in affecting to be possessed by the spirit of the deity, and beating themselves all over the body with a flaming torch, after covering it probably with some protecting substance. In such modes do they wander about and receive alms, each wearing as a distinction a garland of beads made of tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) wood. Every Dāsari is a Tengalai. They have six sub-divisions, called Balija, Janappa, Palli, Valluva, Gangeddula, and Golla Dāsaris, which neither eat together nor intermarry. As these are the names of existing and distinct castes, it is probable that the Dāsaris were formerly members of those classes, who, through their vagabond tastes, have taken to a mendicant life. Beyond prohibiting widow remarriage, they have no social restrictions.”

Concerning the mendicants of Anantapur, Mr. W. Francis writes5 that “the beggars who are most in evidence are the Dāsaris. This community is recruited from several castes, such as the Kāpus, Balijas, Kurubas, Bōyas, and Mālas, and members of it who belong to the last two of these (which are low in the social scale) are [114]not allowed to dine with the others. All Dāsaris are Vaishnavites, and admission to the community is obtained by being branded by some Vaishnavite guru. Thenceforward the novice becomes a Dāsari, and lives by begging from door to door. The profession is almost hereditary in some families. The five insignia of a Dāsari are the conch shell, which he blows to announce his arrival; the gong which he strikes as he goes his rounds; the tall iron lamp (with a cocoanut to hold the oil for replenishing it) which he keeps lighted as he begs; the brass or copper vessel (sometimes with the nāmam painted on it) suspended from his shoulder, in which he places the alms received; and the small metal image of Hanumān, which he hangs round his neck. Of these, the iron lamp is at once the most conspicuous and the most indispensable. It is said to represent Venkatēsa, and it must be burning, as an unlighted lamp is inauspicious. Dāsaris also subsist by doing pūja (worship) at ceremonial and festival occasions for certain of the Hindu castes.” In the Kurnool district, when a girl is dedicated as a Basavi (dedicated prostitute), she is not, as in some other parts of the country, married to an idol, but tied by means of a garland of flowers to the tall standard lamp (garudakambham) of a Dāsari, and released by the man who is to receive her first favours, or by her maternal uncle.

The Dāsaris in Mysore are described in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as “mendicants belonging to different classes of Sūdras. They become Dāsas or servants dedicated to the God at Tirupati by virtue of a peculiar vow, made either by themselves or their relatives, at some moment of anxiety or danger, and live by begging in His name. Dāsaris are always Vaishnavites, as the vows are taken only by those castes [115]which are worshippers of that deity. Dāsaris are invited by Sūdras on ceremonial days, and feasted. Properly speaking, Dāsari is not a caste, but simply an occupational division. Among certain castes, the custom of taking a vow to become a Dāsari prevails. In fulfilment of that vow the person becomes a Dāsari, and his eldest son is bound to follow suit, the others taking to other walks of life. The following castes take the vow of becoming Dāsari:—Telugu Banajiga, Holeya, Tigala, and Vakkaliga. The duty of a Dāsari requires that he should daily bathe his head, and take care that, while eating with the profane, their victuals do not get mixed with his. Every Saturday, after bathing and praying for some hours, he must cook his own food in a clean pot. They go about the streets singing some Hari Keerthanams, with a gong and conch to relieve the dull monotony of their mumblings.”

Concerning the synonym Tādan, this is stated6 to be “a corruption of the Sanskrit dāsa which, with the Tamil termination an, stands for dāsan. The word is often used in this form, but often as Dāsari. The word is applied to Vaishnava mendicants. They go out every morning, begging for alms of uncooked rice, and singing ballads or hymns. They play on a small drum with their fingers, and often carry a conch shell, which they blow. They are given to drinking.” In the Nellore Manual, the Dāsrivandlu are summed up as being “mendicants and thieves in the Telugu and Canarese countries. They usually practise what is known as scissor-theft.” The mendicant Dāsaris, who are dealt with in the present note, are stated by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri7 to be called Gudi Dāsari, as the gudi or temple is their home [116]and to be a set of quiet, innocent and simple people, leading a most idle and stupid life. “Quite opposed,” he adds, “to the Gudi Dāsaris in every way are the Donga Dāsaris or thieving Dāsaris. They are the most dreaded of the criminal classes in the Bellary district. These Donga Dāsaris are only Dāsaris in name.” (See Donga Dāsari.)

Some Dāsaris are servants under Vaishnava Brāhmans, who act as gurus to various castes. It is their duty to act as messengers to the guru, and carry the news of his arrival to his disciples. At the time of worship, and when the guru approaches a village, the Dāsari has to blow a long brass trumpet (tārai). As the Brāhman may not approach or touch his Paraiyan disciples, it is the Dāsari who gives them the holy water (thirtham). When a Paraiyan is to be branded, the Brāhman heats the instruments bearing the devices of the chank and chakaram, and hands them to the Dāsari, who performs the operation of branding. For councils, settlement of marriage, and the decision of other social matters, the Dāsaris meet, at times of festivals, at well-known places such as Tirutani, Tirupati or Tiruvallūr.

At the annual festival at the temple at Kāramadi in the Coimbatore district, which is visited by very large numbers, belonging for the most part to the lower orders, various vows are fulfilled. These include the giving of kavalam to Dāsaris. Kavalam consists of plantain fruits cut up into small slices, and mixed with sugar, jaggery (crude sugar), fried grain, or beaten rice. The Dāsaris are attached to the temple, and wear short drawers, with strings of small brass bells tied to their wrists and ankles. They appear to be possessed, and move wildly about to the beating of drums. As they go about, the devotee [117]puts some of the kavalam into their mouths. The Dāsaris eat a little, and spit out the remainder into the hands of the devotees, who eat it. This is believed to cure all diseases, and to give children to those who partake of it. In addition to kavalam, some put betel leaves into the mouths of the Dāsaris, who, after chewing them, spit them into the mouths of the devotees. At night the Dāsaris carry large torches made of rags, on which the devotees pour ghī (clarified butter). Some say that, many years ago, barren women used to take a vow to visit the temple at the festival time, and, after offering kavalam, have sexual intercourse with the Dāsaris. The temple authorities, however, profess ignorance of this practice.



When proceeding on a pilgrimage to the temple of Subramanya Swāmi at Palni, some devotees pierce their cheeks with a long silver skewer, which traverses the mouth cavity; pierce the tongue with a silver arrow, which is protruded vertically through the protruded organ; and place a silver shield (mouth-lock) in front of the mouth. Some Dāsaris have permanent holes in their cheeks, into which they insert skewers when they go about the country in pursuit of their profession.

For the following note on Dāsaris in the Vizagapatam district, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The caste is an endogamous unit, the members calling themselves Sankhu (or conch-blowing) Dāsaris, and is divided into numerous exogamous septs. The mēnarikam custom, according to which a man should marry his maternal uncle’s daughter, is followed. The remarriage of widows is permitted, but divorce is forbidden. The dead are cremated, and the chinna (small) and pedda rōzu (big day) death ceremonies are observed. These Dāsaris profess the Tengalai form of Vaishnavism, and [118]get themselves branded. The caste is more secular, and less religious than in the southern districts. A Dāsari of the North Arcot or Anantapur type, with conch-shell, metal gong, iron lamp, copper vessel, and metal image of Hanumān on his neck, is scarcely met with. The Vizagapatam Dāsaris are the most popular among ballad-singers, and sing songs about heroes and heroines, of which the following are the most appreciated:—

1. Bobbilipāta, which describes the siege and conquest of Bobbili by Bussy in 1757.

2. Ammi Nāyudupāta, which describes the tyrannical behaviour of one Ammi Nāyudu, a village headman in the Pālkonda tāluk, who was eventually murdered, to the great relief of those subject to him, by one of his dependents.

3. Lakshmammapāta, which relates the life and death of Lakshmamma, a Velama woman, who went against the mēnarikam custom of the caste, and was put to death by her husband.

4. Yerakammapērantāla-pāta, which recounts the story of one Yerakamma, who committed sati.

Yerakamma is the local goddess at Srungavarapukōta in the Vizagapatam district. The ballads sung about her say that she was the child of Dāsari parents, and that her birth was foretold by a Yerukala woman (whence her name), who prophesied that she would have the gift of second sight. She eventually married, and one day she begged her husband not to go to his field, as she was sure he would be killed by a tiger if he did. Her husband went notwithstanding, and was slain as she had foreseen. She committed sati on the spot where her shrine still stands, and at this there is a festival at Sivarātri. [119]

As ballad-singers, two Dāsaris generally travel about together, begging from house to house, or at the weekly market, one singing, while the other plays, and joins in the chorus.

The titles of these Dāsaris are Anna and Ayya.

Dāsari has been recorded as an exogamous sept of the Koravas, Mālas, and Yerukalas.

Dāsi (servant).—The name for a non-Brāhman female attendant upon a Nambūtiri Brāhman woman, which should not, as sometimes happens, be confused with Dēva-dāsi, (q.v.), which has quite another significance.

Dāyarē (Muhammadan).—The Dāyarē, Daira, or Māhadēv Muhammadans are found in the Bangalore and Mysore districts of the Mysore province. Concerning them, we are informed in the Mysore Gazetteer that “they differ from the general body of Muhammadans in a point of belief concerning the advent of Imām Mahadi. The Dāyarēs maintain that he has visited this earth and departed, while the orthodox Muhammadans believe the Prophet (Imām) has not yet appeared, and that his coming will be a sign of the end of the world. The following account of the origin of this body of dissenters has been related. A child was born of the Sayad sect of Muhammadans at Guzrat about four hundred years ago, who was named Sayad Ahmed, and afterwards became distinguished by the title of Alam (superior to Maulvi) in consequence of his great learning. Sayad Ahmed proclaimed himself the equal of Mahomet, and superior to all other Paigambars or messengers of god. He succeeded in obtaining some followers who believed in him, and repaired to Jivanpur in the Nizam’s territories, where he took the name of Imām Mahadi. From thence he, with some disciples, proceeded to Mecca, but did not visit Medina. After some time he returned to [120]Hyderabad, still retaining the name of Imām Mahadi. Such pretensions could not be tolerated by the great mass of Muhammadans, and Sayad Ahmed, together with his disciples, being worsted in a great religious controversy, was driven out of Hyderabad, and came to Channapatna in the Bangalore district, where they settled. The descendants of these settlers believe that Sayad Ahmed was the Prophet Imām Mahadi predicted in the Korān. They offer prayers in a masjid of their own, separate from other Muhammadans, and do not intermarry with the rest. They are an enterprising body, and carry on a brisk trade in silk with the western coast.” They are mostly domiciled at Channapatna, where a considerable industry in the cocoons of the mulberry silk-moth is carried on.

When an adult Hindu joins the Dāyarēs as a convert, an interesting mock rite of circumcision is performed as a substitute for the real operation. A strip of betel leaf is wrapped round the penis, so that it projects beyond the glans, and is snipped instead of the prepuce.

Like other Muhammadan classes of Southern India, the Dāyarēs are as a whole dolichocephalic. But the frequent occurrence of individuals with a high cephalic index would seem to point to their recruitment from the mesaticephalic or brachycephalic Canarese classes.

Class. Locality. Number examined. Number of times cephalic index exceeded 80.
Māppilla Malabar 40 0
Saiyad Madras 40 2
Pathan Do. 40 2
Sheik Do. 40 2
Dāyarē Mysore 40 8


Dayyālakulam (devil’s family).—Recorded, at times of census, as a sub-caste of Gollas, who are wrestlers and acrobats.

Dedingi.—Recorded as a sub-division of Poroja.

Dēra.—Dēra, Dēndra, and Dēvara occur as synonyms of Dēvānga.

Dēsa.—A sub-division of Balija. Dēsadhipati, denoting ruler of a country, is a name assumed by some Janappans, who say that they are Balijas.

Dēsāyi.—For the following account of the Dēsāyi institution, I am indebted to an excellent account thereof by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri.8 “The word Dēsāyi means of the country. For almost every tāluk in the North Arcot district there is a headman, called the Dēsāyi Chetti, who may be said in a manner to correspond to a Justice of the Peace. The headmen belong to the Kavarai or Balija caste, their family name being Dhanapāla—a common name among the Kavarais—which may be interpreted as ‘the protector of wealth.’ The Dhanapāla Dēsāyi Chetti holds sway over eighteen castes, Kavarai, Uppara, Lambādi, Jōgi, Īdiga, Paraiyan, etc. All those that are called valangai, or right-hand caste, fall within his jurisdiction. He has an establishment of two peons (orderlies), who are castemen, and another menial, a sort of bugler, who blows the horn whenever the Dēsāyi Chetti goes on circuit. When any deviation in the moral conduct of any man or woman occurs in a village under the Dēsāyi’s jurisdiction, a report of it is at once sent to the Dēsāyi Chetti, through the Paraiya of the village, by the Dēsāyi’s representative in that village. He has his local agent in every village within his jurisdiction. On receipt of a report, he starts on circuit to the [122]village, with all the quaint-looking paraphernalia attached to his office. He moves about from place to place in his bullock coach, the inside of which is upholstered with a soft cushion bed, with a profusion of pillows on all sides. The Paraiya horn-blower runs in front of the carriage blowing the horn (bhamka), which he carries suspended from his shoulder when it is not in use. On the Dēsāyi Chetti arriving at a village, the horn is blown to announce his visit on professional matters. While he camps at a village, people from the surrounding country within his jurisdiction usually go to him with any representations they may have to make to him as the head of their caste. The Dēsāyi generally encamps in a tope (grove) adjoining the village. At the sound of the horn, the castemen on whose account the visit is made assemble at the place of encampment, with the Dēsāyi’s local representative at their head. The personal comforts of the Dēsāyi are first attended to, and he is liberally supplied with articles of food by the party on whose account the visit has been undertaken. A large cup-shaped spoon is the ensign of the Dēsāyi. On the outer surface, all round its edge, are carved in relief eighteen figures, each one being typical of one of the castes of which the Dēsāyi is the social head. Under each figure is inscribed in Tamil the name of the caste which that figure typifies. The figures are smeared with red powder and sandal, and decorated with flowers. The menial, taking up the cup, rings the bell attached to it, to summon the parties. As soon as the sound is heard, the castemen amongst whom any offence has occurred assemble, each house in the village being represented by a member, so as to make up a panchāyat (council). The Dēsāyi’s emblem is then placed in front of him in the midst of the panchāyat, and a regular enquiry held. Supposing a person stands [123]charged with adultery, the accused is brought before the assembly, and the charge formally investigated with the advice of the panchāyat, the Dēsāyi declares the accused guilty or not guilty, as the case may be. In the event of a man being pronounced guilty, the panchāyat directs him to pay the aggrieved husband all the expenses he had incurred in connection with his marriage. In addition to this, a fine ranging from ten to twenty rupees is imposed on the offender by the Dēsāyi, and is collected at once. A small fraction of this fine, never exceeding four annas, is paid to every representative who sits in the panchāyat, the balance going into the Dēsāyi’s pocket. If the delinquent refuses to pay the fine, a council of the same men is held, and he is excommunicated. The recalcitrant offender soon realises the horrors of excommunication, and in a short time appears before the Dēsāyi, and falls prostrate at his feet, promising to obey him. The Dēsāyi then accompanies him to the village, calls the panchāyat again, and in their presence removes the interdict. On this occasion, the excommunicated person has to pay double the amount of the original fine. But disobedience is rare, as people are alive to the serious consequences of excommunication. The Dēsāyi maintains a regular record of all his enquiries and judgments, and in the days of the Nawābs these decisions were, it would appear, recognised by the Courts of Justice. The same respect was, it is said, also shown to the Dēsāyi’s decisions by the early courts of John Company.9

Dēsāyi spoon.

Dēsāyi spoon.

“Every house belonging to the eighteen castes sends to the village representative of the Dēsāyi, who is called Periyatanakāran, a pagoda (Rs. 3–8) in cash, besides [124]rice, dhāl (Cajanus Indicus), and other articles of food for every marriage that takes place, in the village. The representative reserves for himself all the perishable articles, sending only the cash to the Dēsāyi. Thus, for every marriage within his jurisdiction, the Dēsāyi gets one pagoda. Of late, in the case of those Dēsāyis who have purchased their rights as such from the old Dēsāyis, instead of a pagoda, a fee of two annas and a half is levied on each marriage. Every death which occurs in a village is equally a source of income to the Dēsāyi, who receives articles of food, and four annas or more, according to the circumstances of the parties in whose house the death has occurred. As in the case of marriage, the local representative appropriates to himself the articles of food, and transmits the money to the Dēsāyi. The local agent keeps a list of all domestic occurrences that take place in the village, and this list is most carefully scrutinised and checked by the Dēsāyi during his tours, and any amount left unpaid is then collected. Whenever a marriage takes place in his own house, all the houses within his jurisdiction are bound to send him rice, dhāl, and other articles, and any money they can afford to pay. Sometimes rich people send large sums to the Dēsāyi, to enable him to purchase the clothes, jewels, etc., required for the marriage. When a Dēsāyi finds his work too heavy for him to attend to single-handed, he sells a portion of his jurisdiction for some hundreds or thousands of rupees, according to its extent, to some relation. A regular sale deed is executed and registered.” (See also Samaya.)

Dēsikar.—A sub-division and title of Pandāram.

Dēsūr.—The name of a sub-division of Kāpu, which is either territorial, or possibly derived from dēha, body, and sūra, valour. [125]

Dēva.—Dēva or Dēvara, meaning God, has been recorded as a synonym of Dēvānga and Gāniga or Gāndla and a sept of Mogēr, and Dēva Telikulakali as a name for those who express and sell oils in the Vizagapatam district. Dēvara occurs further as a title of the Jangams. At the Madras Census, 1901, Dēvar was returned as the name of Telugu merchants from Pondicherry trading in glassware. Dēvar is also the title of Ōcchans, who are priests at temples of village deities. The title of Maravans is Dēvan or Tēvan. In South Canara, the Halepaiks (toddy-drawers) are known as Dēvaru Makkalu (God’s children), which, it has been suggested,10 is possibly a corruption of Tīvaru or Dīvaru Makkalu, meaning children of the islanders, in reference to their supposed descent from early immigrants from the island of Ceylon.

Dēva-dāsi.—In old Hindu works, seven classes of Dāsis are mentioned, viz., (1) Dattā, or one who gives herself as a gift to a temple; (2) Vikrīta, or one who sells herself for the same purpose; (3) Bhritya, or one who offers herself as a temple servant for the prosperity of her family; (4) Bhakta, or one who joins a temple out of devotion; (5) Hrita, or one who is enticed away, and presented to a temple; (6) Alankāra, or one who, being well trained in her profession, and profusely decked, is presented to a temple by kings and noblemen; (7) Rudraganika or Gopika, who receive regular wages from a temple, and are employed to sing and dance. For the following general account I am indebted to the Madras Census Report, 1901:—

“Dāsis or Dēva-dāsis (handmaidens of the gods) are dancing-girls attached to the Tamil temples, who [126]subsist by dancing and music, and the practice of ‘the oldest profession in the world.’ The Dāsis were probably in the beginning the result of left-handed unions between members of two different castes, but they are now partly recruited by admissions, and even purchases, from other classes. The profession is not now held in the consideration it once enjoyed. Formerly they enjoyed a considerable social position. It is one of the many inconsistencies of the Hindu religion that, though their profession is repeatedly and vehemently condemned by the Shāstras, it has always received the countenance of the church. The rise of the caste, and its euphemistic name, seem both of them to date from about the ninth and tenth centuries A.D., during which much activity prevailed in Southern India in the matter of building temples, and elaborating the services held in them. The dancing-girls’ duties, then as now, were to fan the idol with chamaras (Tibetan ox tails), to carry the sacred light called kumbarti, and to sing and dance before the god when he was carried in procession. Inscriptions11 show that, in A.D. 1004, the great temple of the Chōla king Rājarāja at Tanjore had attached to it four hundred talic’ chēri pendugal, or women of the temple, who lived in free quarters in the four streets round about it, and were allowed tax-free land out of the endowment. Other temples had similar arrangements. At the beginning of the last century there were a hundred dancing-girls attached to the temple at Conjeeveram, who were, Buchanan tells us,12 ‘kept for the honour of the deities and the amusement of their votaries; and any familiarity between these girls and an infidel would occasion scandal.’ At Madura, Conjeeveram, and Tanjore there are still [127]numbers of them, who receive allowances from the endowments of the big temples at these places. In former days, the profession was countenanced not only by the church, but also by the State. Abdur Razaak, a Turkish ambassador at the court of Vijayanagar in the fifteenth century, describes13 women of this class as living in State-controlled institutions, the revenue of which went towards the upkeep of the police.

“At the present day they form a regular caste, having its own laws of inheritance, its own customs and rules of etiquette, and its own panchāyats (councils) to see that all these are followed, and thus hold a position, which is perhaps without a parallel in any other country. Dancing-girls, dedicated to the usual profession of the caste, are formally married in a temple to a sword or a god, the tāli (marriage badge) being tied round their necks by some men of their caste. It was a standing puzzle to the census enumerators whether such women should be entered as married in the column referring to civil condition.

“Among the Dāsis, sons and daughters inherit equally, contrary to ordinary Hindu usage. Some of the sons remain in the caste, and live by playing music for the women to dance to, and accompaniments to their songs, or by teaching singing and dancing to the younger girls, and music to the boys. These are called Nattuvans. Others marry some girl of the caste, who is too plain to be likely to be a success in the profession, and drift out of the community. Some of these affix to their names the terms Pillai and Mudali, which are the usual titles of the two castes (Vellāla and Kaikōla) from which most of the Dāsis are recruited, and try to live down the [128]stigma attaching to their birth. Others join the Mēlakkārans or professional musicians. Cases have occurred, in which wealthy sons of dancing-women have been allowed to marry girls of respectable parentage of other castes, but they are very rare. The daughters of the caste, who are brought up to follow the caste profession, are carefully taught dancing, singing, the art of dressing well, and the ars amoris, and their success in keeping up their clientele is largely due to the contrast which they thus present to the ordinary Hindu housewife, whose ideas are bounded by the day’s dinner and the babies. The dancing-girl castes, and their allies the Mēlakkārans, are now practically the sole repository of Indian music, the system of which is probably one of the oldest in the world. Besides them and the Brāhmans, few study the subject. The barbers’ bands of the villages usually display more energy than science. A notable exception, however, exists in Madras city, which has been known to attempt the Dead March in Saul at funerals in the Pariah quarters.

“There are two divisions among the Dāsis, called Valangai (right-hand) and Idangai (left-hand). The chief distinction between them is that the former will have nothing to do with the Kammālans (artisans) or any other of the left-hand castes, or play or sing in their houses. The latter division is not so particular, and its members are consequently sometimes known as the Kammāla Dāsis. Neither division, however, is allowed to have any dealings with men of the lowest castes, and violation of this rule of etiquette is tried by a panchāyat of the caste, and visited with excommunication.

“In the Telugu districts, the dancing-girls are called Bōgams and Sānis. They are supposed to be dedicated to the gods, just as the Dāsis are, but there is [129]only one temple in the northern part of the Presidency which maintains a corps of these women in the manner in vogue further south. This exception is the shrine of Srī Kurmam in Vizagapatam, the dancing-girls attached to which are known as Kurmapus. In Vizagapatam most of the Bōgams and Sānis belong to the Nāgavāsulu and Palli castes, and their male children often call themselves Nāgavāsulus, but in Nellore, Kurnool and Bellary they are often Balijas and Yerukalas. In Nellore the Bōgams are said to decline to sing in the houses of Kōmatis. The men of the Sānis do not act as accompanists to their women at nautch parties, as Bōgam and Dāsi men do.

“In the Oriya country the dancing-girl caste is called Guni, but there they have even less connection with the temples than the Bōgams and Sānis, not being even dedicated to the god.

“In the Canarese (or western) tāluks of Bellary, and in the adjoining parts of Dharwar and Mysore, a curious custom obtains among the Bōyas, Bēdarus, and certain other castes, under which a family which has no male issue must dedicate one of its daughters as a Basavi. The girl is taken to a temple, and married there to the god, a tāli and toe-rings being put on her, and thenceforward she becomes a public woman, except that she does not consort with any one of lower caste than herself. She is not, however, despised on this account, and indeed at weddings she prepares the tāli (perhaps because she can never be a widow). Contrary to all Hindu Law, she shares in the family property as though she was a son, but her right to do so has not yet been confirmed by the Civil Courts. If she has a son, he takes her father’s name, but if only a daughter, that daughter again becomes a Basavi. The children of Basavis [130]marry within their own caste, without restrictions of any kind.

“In Malabar there is no regular community of dancing-girls; nor is there among the Mussalmans of any part of the Presidency.”

“No doubt,” Monier Williams writes,14 “Dāsis drive a profitable trade under the sanction of religion, and some courtesans have been known to amass enormous fortunes. Nor do they think it inconsistent with their method of making money to spend it in works of piety. Here and there Indian bridges and other useful public works owe their existence to the liberality of the frail sisterhood.” The large tank (lake) at Channarayapatna in Mysore was built by two dancing-girls.

In the Travancore Census Report, 1901, the Dāsis of the Coromandel coast are compared, in the words of a Sanskrit poet, to walking flesh-trees bearing golden fruits. The observant Abbé Dubois noticed that, of all the women in India, it is especially the courtesans who are the most decently clothed, as experience has taught them that for a woman to display her charms damps sensual ardour instead of exciting it, and that the imagination is more easily captivated than the eye.

It was noticed by Lord Dufferin, on the occasion of a Viceregal visit to Madura, that the front part of the dress of the dancing-girls hangs in petticoats, but the back is only trousers.

The Rev. A. Margöschis writes in connection with the practice of dilating the lobes of the ears in Tinnevelly, that, as it was once the fashion and a mark of respectability to have long ears, so now the converse is true. Until a few years ago, if a woman had short ears, she [131]was asked if she was a Dēva-dāsi, because that class kept their ears natural. Now, with the change of customs all round, even dancing-girls are found with long ears. “The dancing-girls are,” the Rev. M. Phillips writes,15 “the most accomplished women among the Hindus. They read, write, sing and play as well as dance. Hence one of the great objections urged at first against the education of girls was ‘We don’t want our daughters to become dancing-girls’.”

It is on record16 that, in 1791, the Nabob of the Carnatic dined with the Governor of Madras, and that, after dinner, they were diverted with the dancing wenches, and the Nabob was presented with cordial waters, French brandy and embroidered China quilts. The story is told of a Governor of Madras in more recent times, who, ignorant of the inverse method of beckoning to a person to advance or retreat in the East, was scandalised when a nautch girl advanced rapidly, till he thought she was going to sit in his lap. At a nautch in the fort of the Mandasa Zemindar in honour of Sir M. E. Grant Duff,17 the dancing-girls danced to the air of Malbrook se va t’en guerre. Bussy taught it to the dancing-girls, and they to their neighbours. In the Vizagapatam and Godāvari jungles, natives apostrophise tigers as Bussy. Whether the name is connected with Bussy I know not.

Of Dēva-dāsis at the Court of Tippoo Sultan, the following account was published in 1801.18 “Comme Souverain d’une partie du Visapour, Tippoo-Saïb [132]jouissoit de la facilité d’avoir parmi ses bayadères celles qui étoient les plus renommées par leurs talens, leurs graces, leur beauté, etc. Ces bayadères sont des danseuses supérieures dans leur genre; tout danse et tout joue en même-tems chez elles; leur tête, leurs yeux, leurs bras, leurs pieds, tout leur corps, semblent ne se mouvoir que from enchanter; elles sont d’une incroyable légèreté, et ont le jarret aussi fort que souple; leur taille est des plus sveltes et des plus élégantes, et elles n’ont pas un mouvement qui ne soit une grace. La plus âgée de ces femmes n’avoit pas plus de seize à dix-sept ans. Aussi tot qu’elles atteignoient cet âge, on les réformoit, et alors elles alloient courir les provinces, on s’attachoient à des pagodes, dans lesqueles elles étoient entretenues, et ou leurs charmes étoient un des meilleurs revenus des brames.”

General Burton narrates19 how a civilian of the old school built a house at Bhavāni, and established a corps de ballet, i.e., a set of nautch girls, whose accomplishments actually extended to singing God save the King, and this was kept up by their descendants, so that, when he visited the place in 1852, he was “greeted by the whole party, bedizened in all their finery, and squalling the national anthem as if they understood it, which they did not.” With this may be contrasted a circular from a modern European official, which states that “during my jamabandy (land revenue settlement) tour, people have sometimes been kind enough to arrange singing or dancing parties, and, as it would have been discourteous to decline to attend what had cost money to arrange, I have accepted the compliment in the spirit in which it was offered. I should, however, be glad if you would [133]let it be generally known that I am entirely in accord with what is known as the anti-nautch movement in regard to such performances.”

It was unanimously decided, in 1905, by the Executive Committee of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ reception fund, that there should be no performance by nautch girls at the entertainment to be given to Their Royal Highnesses at Madras.

In a note on Basavis, the Collector of the Bellary district writes that “it is usual among Hindus to dedicate a bull for public use on the death of a member of their family. These are the breeding bulls of the village flock. Similarly, cows are dedicated, and are called Basavis. No stigma attaches to Basavis or their children, and they are received on terms of equality by other members of their caste. The origin of the institution, it has been suggested, may probably be traced to the time when the Bōyas, and other castes which dedicate Basavis, were soldiers, and the Basavis acted as camp-followers and nurses of the wounded in battle. According to Hindu custom, the wives of the men could not be taken from their homes, and, other women of the caste being required to attend to their comforts, the institution of Basavis might have been started; or, if they existed before then as religious devotees attached to temples, they might have been pressed into their service, and the number added to as occasion required. In Narayandēvarkeri there are many Bōyas and many Basavis. On the car-festival day, the Bōyas cannot take meals until the car is taken back to its original place after the procession. Sometimes, owing to some accident, this cannot be done the same day, and the car-drawing Bōyas sleep near the car, and do not go to their houses. Then it is their Basavis who bring [134]them food, and not their wives.” At Adoni I have seen a Basavi, who was working at a cotton press for a daily wage of three annas, in full dress on a holiday in honour of a local deity, wearing an elaborately chased silver waist belt and abundant silver jewelry. The following are examples of petitions presented to a European Magistrate and Superintendent of Police by girls who are about to become Basavis:—

Petition of __________ aged about 17 or 18.

I have agreed to become a Basavi, and get myself stamped by my guru (priest) according to the custom of my caste. I request that my proper age, which entitles me to be stamped, may be personally ascertained, and permission granted to be stamped.

The stamping refers to branding with the emblems of the chank and chakram.

Petition of _____ wife of _____.

I have got two daughters, aged 15 and 12 respectively. As I have no male issues, I have got to necessarily celebrate the ceremony in the temple in connection with the tying of the goddess’s tāli to my two daughters under the orders of the guru, in accordance with the customs of my caste. I, therefore, submit this petition for fear that the authorities may raise any objection (under the Age of Consent Act). I, therefore, request that the Honourable Court may be pleased to give permission to the tying of the tāli to my daughters.

Petition of two girls, aged 17 to 19.

Our father and mother are dead. Now we wish to be like prostitutes, as we are not willing to be married, and thus establish our house-name. Our mother also was of this profession. We now request permission to be prostitutes according to our religion, after we are sent before the Medical Officer.

The permission referred to in the above petitions bears reference to a decision of the High Court that, a girl who becomes a Basavi being incapable of contracting a legal marriage, her dedication when a minor is an offence under the Penal Code. [135]

At Adoni the dead body of a new-born infant was found in a ditch, and a Basavi, working with others in a cotton factory, was suspected of foul play. The station-house officer announced his intention of visiting the factory, and she who was in a state of lactation, and could produce no baby to account for her condition, would be the culprit. Writing concerning the Basavis of the Bellary district,20 Mr. W. Francis tells us that “parents without male issue often, instead of adopting a son in the usual manner, dedicate a daughter by a simple ceremony to the god of some temple, and thenceforth, by immemorial custom, she may inherit her parents’ property, and perform their funeral rites as if she was a son. She does not marry, but lives in her parents’ house with any man of equal or higher caste whom she may select, and her children inherit her father’s name and bedagu (sept), and not those of their own father. If she has a son, he inherits her property; if she has only a daughter, that daughter again becomes a Basavi. Parents desiring male issue of their own, cure from sickness in themselves or their children, or relief from some calamity, will similarly dedicate their daughter. The children of a Basavi are legitimate, and neither they nor their mothers are treated as being in any way inferior to their fellows. A Basavi, indeed, from the fact that she can never be a widow, is a most welcome guest at weddings. Basavis differ from the ordinary dancing-girls dedicated at temples in that their duties in the temples (which are confined to the shrine of their dedication) are almost nominal, and that they do not prostitute themselves promiscuously for hire. A Basavi very usually lives faithfully with one man, who allows her [136]a fixed sum weekly for her maintenance, and a fixed quantity of new raiment annually, and she works for her family as hard as any other woman. Basavis are outwardly indistinguishable from other women, and are for the most part coolies. In places there is a custom by which they are considered free to change their protectors once a year at the village car-festival or some similar anniversary, and they usually seize this opportunity of putting their partner’s affections to the test by suggesting that a new cloth and bodice would be a welcome present. So poor, as a rule, are the husbands that the police aver that the anniversaries are preceded by an unusual crop of petty thefts and burglaries committed by them in their efforts to provide their customary gifts.” A recent report of a Police Inspector in the Bellary district states that “crimes are committed here and there, as this is Nagarapanchami time. Nagarapanchami festival is to be celebrated at the next Ammavasya or new-moon day. It is at that time the people keeping the prostitutes should pay their dues on that day; otherwise they will have their new engagements.”

In the Kurnool district, the Basavi system is practised by the Bōyas, but differs from that in vogue in Bellary and Mysore. The object of making a Basavi, in these two localities, is to perpetuate the family when there is no male heir. If the only issue in a family is a female, the family becomes extinct if she marries, as by marriage she changes her sept. To prevent this, she is not married, but dedicated as a Basavi, and continues to belong to her father’s sept, to which also any male issue which is born to her belongs. In the Kurnool district the motive in making Basavis is different. The girl is not wedded to an idol, but, on an auspicious day, is tied by means of a garland of flowers to the garuda kambham [137](lamp) of a Balija Dāsari. She is released either by the man who is to receive her first favours, or by her maternal uncle. A simple feast is held, and a string of black beads tied round the girl’s neck. She becomes a prostitute, and her children do not marry into respectable Bōya families.

“Basava women,” Dr. E. Balfour writes,21 “are sometimes married to a dagger, sometimes to an idol. In making a female child over to the service of the temple, she is taken and dedicated for life to some idol. A khanjar, or dagger, is placed on the ground, and the girl who is to undergo the ceremony puts a garland thereon. Her mother then puts rice on the girl’s forehead. The officiating priest then weds the girl to the dagger, just as if he was uniting her to a boy in marriage, by reciting the marriage stanzas, a curtain being held between the girl and the dagger.” In an account of the initiation ceremony of the Basavis of the Bellary district Mr. F. Fawcett writes as follows.22 “A sword with a lime stuck on its point is placed upright beside the novice, and held in her right hand. It represents the bridegroom, who, in the corresponding ceremony of Hindu marriage, sits on the bride’s right. A tray, on which are a kalasyam (vessel of water) and a lamp, is then produced, and moved thrice in front of the girl. She rises, and, carrying the sword in her right hand, places it in the god’s sanctuary. Among the dancing-girls very similar ceremonies are performed. With them, the girl’s spouse is represented by a drum instead of a sword, and she bows to it. Her insignia consist of a drum and bells.” In a further note on the dedication of Basavis, Mr. Fawcett writes23 that “a tāli, [138]on which is depicted the nāmam of Vishnu, fastened to a necklace of black beads, is tied round her neck. She is given by way of insignia a cane as a wand carried in the right hand, and a gopālam or begging basket, which is slung on the left arm. She is then branded with the emblems of the chank and chakra. In another account24 of the marriage ceremony among dancing-girls, it is stated that the Bōgams, who are without exception prostitutes, though they are not allowed to marry, go through a marriage ceremony, which is rather a costly one. Sometimes a wealthy Native bears the expense, makes large presents to the bride, and receives her first favours. Where no such opportunity offers itself, a sword or other weapon represents the bridegroom, and an imaginary nuptial ceremony is performed. Should the Bōgam woman have no daughter, she invariably adopts one, usually paying a price for her, the Kaikōla (weaver) caste being the ordinary one from which to take a child.

Among the Kaikōlan musicians of Coimbatore, at least one girl in every family should be set apart for the temple service, and she is instructed in music and dancing. At the tāli-tying ceremony she is decorated with jewels, and made to stand on a heap of paddy (unhusked rice). A folded cloth is held before her by two Dāsis, who also stand on heaps of paddy. The girl catches hold of the cloth, and her dancing master, who is seated behind her, grasping her legs, moves them up and down in time with the music which is played. In the evening she is taken, astride a pony, to the temple, where a new cloth for the idol, the tāli, and other articles required for doing pūja (worship) have been got ready. The girl is seated facing [139]the idol, and the officiating Brāhman gives sandal and flowers to her, and ties the tāli, which has been lying at the feet of the idol, round her neck. The tāli consists of a golden disc and black beads. She continues to learn music and dancing, and eventually goes through the form of a nuptial ceremony, The relations are invited on an auspicious day, and the maternal uncle, or his representative, ties a golden band on the girl’s forehead, and, carrying her, places her on a plank before the assembled guests. A Brāhman priest recites mantrams (prayers), and prepares the sacred fire (hōmam). For the actual nuptials a rich Brāhman, if possible, and, if not, a Brāhman of more lowly status is invited. A Brāhman is called in, as he is next in importance to, and the representative of, the idol. As a Dāsi can never become a widow, the beads in her tāli are considered to bring good luck to women who wear them. And some people send the tāli required for a marriage to a Dāsi, who prepares the string for it, and attaches to it black beads from her own tāli. A Dāsi is also deputed to walk at the head of Hindu marriage processions. Married women do not like to do this, as they are not proof against evil omens, which the procession may meet. And it is believed that Dāsis, to whom widowhood is unknown, possess the power of warding off the effects of inauspicious omens. It may be remarked, en passant, that Dāsis are not at the present day so much patronised at Hindu marriages as in olden times. Much is due in this direction to the progress of enlightened ideas, which have of late been strongly put forward by Hindu social reformers. When a Kaikōlan Dāsi dies, her body is covered with a new cloth removed from the idol, and flowers are supplied from the temple, to which she belonged. No pūja is performed in the temple till the [140]corpse is disposed of, as the idol, being her husband, has to observe pollution.

“In former times, dancing-girls used to sleep three nights at the commencement of their career in the inner shrine of the Koppēsvara temple at Palivela in the Godāvari district, so as to be embraced by the god. But one of them, it is said, disappeared one night, and the practice has ceased. The funeral pyre of every girl of the dancing girl (Sāni) caste dying in the village should be lit with fire brought from the temple. The same practice is found in the Srīrangam temple near Trichinopoly.”25

The following account of Dāsis in Travancore, where their total strength is only about four hundred, is taken from a note by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyer. “While the Dāsis of Kartikappalli, Ambalapuzha, and Shertallay belonged originally to the Konkan coast, those of Shenkottah belonged to the Pāndian country. But the South Travancore Dāsis are an indigenous class. The female members of the caste are, besides being known by the ordinary name of Tēvadiyāl and Dāsi, both meaning servant of God, called Kudikkar, meaning those belonging to the house (i.e., given rent free by the Sirkar), and Pendukal, or women, the former of these designations being more popular than the latter. Males are called Tēvadiyan, though many prefer to be known as Nanchināt Vellālas. Males, like these Vellālas, take the title of Pillai. In ancient days Dēva-dāsis, who became experts in singing and dancing, received the title of Rāyar (king) which appears to have been last conferred in 1847 A.D. The South Travancore Dāsis neither interdine nor intermarry with the dancing-girls of the Tamil-speaking districts. They adopt girls only [141]from a particular division of the Nāyars, Tamil Padam, and dance only in temples. Unlike their sisters outside Travancore, they do not accept private engagements in houses on the occasion of marriage. The males, in a few houses, marry the Tamil Padam and Padamangalam Nāyars, while some Padamangalam Nāyars and Nanchināt Vellālas in their turn take their women as wives.

“When a dancing-woman becomes too old or diseased, and thus unable to perform her usual temple duties, she applies to the temple authorities for permission to remove her ear-pendants (todus). The ceremony takes place at the palace of the Mahārāja. At the appointed spot the officers concerned assemble, and the woman, seated on a wooden plank, proceeds to unhook the pendants, and places them, with a nuzzur (gift) of twelve fanams (coins), on the plank. Directly after this she turns about, and walks away without casting a second glance at the ear-ornaments which have been laid down. She becomes immediately a taikkizhavi or old mother, and is supposed to lead a life of retirement and resignation. By way of distinction, a Dāsi in active service is referred to as ātumpātram. Though the ear-ornaments are at once returned to her from the palace, the woman is never again permitted to put them on, but only to wear the pampadam, or antiquated ear-ornament of Tamil Sūdra women. Her temple wages undergo a slight reduction, consequent on her proved incapacity.

“In some temples, as at Kēralapuram, there are two divisions of dancing-girls, one known as the Murakkudi to attend to the daily routine, the other as the Chirappukuti to serve on special occasions. The special duties that may be required of the South Travancore Dāsis are:—(1) to attend the two Utsavas at Sri [142]Padmanābahswāmi’s temple, and the Dusserah at the capital; (2) to meet and escort members of the royal family at their respective village limits; (3) to undertake the prescribed fasts for the Apamargam ceremony in connection with the annual festival of the temple. On these days strict continence is enjoined, and they are fed at the temple, and allowed only one meal a day.

“The principal deities of the dancing-girls are those to whom the temples, in which they are employed, are dedicated. They observe the new and full-moon days, and the last Friday of every month as important. The Onam, Sivarātri, Tye-Pongal, Dīpāvali, and Chitrapurnami are the best recognised religious festivals. Minor deities, such as Bhadrakāli, Yakshi, and Ghandarva are worshipped by the figure of a trident or sword being drawn on the wall of the house, to which food and sweetmeats are offered on Fridays. The priests on these occasions are Ōcchans. There are no recognized headmen in the caste. The services of Brāhmans are resorted to for the purpose of purification, of Nampiyans and Saiva Vellālas for the performance of funeral rites, and of Kurukkals on occasions of marriage, and for the final ceremonies on the sixteenth day after death.

“Girls belonging to this caste may either be dedicated to temple service, or married to a male member of the caste. No woman can be dedicated to the temple after she has reached puberty. On the occasion of marriage, a sum of from fifty to a hundred and fifty rupees is given to the bride’s house, not as a bride-price, but for defraying the marriage expenses. There is a preliminary ceremony of betrothal, and the marriage is celebrated at an auspicious hour. The Kurukkal recites a few hymns, and the ceremonies, which include the tying of the tāli, continue for four days. The couple [143]commence joint life on the sixteenth day after the girl has reached puberty. It is easy enough to get a divorce, as this merely depends upon the will of one of the two parties, and the woman becomes free to receive clothes from another person in token of her having entered into a fresh matrimonial alliance.

“All applications for the presentation of a girl to the temple are made to the temple authorities by the senior dancing-girl of the temple, the girl to be presented being in all cases from six to eight years of age. If she is closely related to the applicant, no enquiries regarding her status and claim need be made. In all other cases, formal investigations are instituted, and the records taken are submitted to the chief revenue officer of the division for orders. Some paddy (rice) and five fanams are given to the family from the temple funds towards the expenses of the ceremony. The practice at the Suchindrum temple is to convene, on an auspicious day, a yōga or meeting, composed of the Valiya Sri-kariyakkar, the Yogattil Potti, the Vattappalli Muttatu, and others, at which the preliminaries are arranged. The girl bathes, and goes to the temple on the morning of the selected day with two new cloths, betel leaves and nuts. The temple priest places the cloths and the tāli at the feet of the image, and sets apart one for the divine use. The tāli consists of a triangular bottu, bearing the image of Ganēsa, with a gold bead on either side. Taking the remaining cloth and the tāli, and sitting close to the girl, the priest, facing to the north, proceeds to officiate. The girl sits, facing the deity, in the inner sanctuary. The priest kindles the fire, and performs all the marriage ceremonies, following the custom of the Tirukkalyānam festival, when Siva is represented as marrying Parvati. He then teaches the girl the Panchakshara hymn if the [144]temple is Saivite, and Ashtakshara if it is Vaishnavite, presents her with the cloth, and ties the tāli round her neck. The Nattuvan, or dancing-master, instructs her for the first time in his art, and a quantity of raw rice is given to her by the temple authorities. The girl, thus married, is taken to her house, where the marriage festivities are celebrated for two or three days. As in Brāhmanical marriages, the rolling of a cocoanut to and fro is gone through, the temple priest or an elderly Dāsi, dressed in male attire, acting the part of the bridegroom. The girl is taken in procession through the streets.

“The birth of male children is not made an occasion for rejoicing, and, as the proverb goes, the lamp on these occasions is only dimly lighted. Inheritance is in the female line, and women are the absolute owners of all property earned. When a dancing-girl dies, some paddy and five fanams are given from the temple to which she was attached, to defray the funeral expenses. The temple priest gives a garland, and a quantity of ashes for decorating the corpse. After this, a Nampiyan, an Ōcchan, some Vellāla headmen, and a Kudikkari, having no pollution, assemble at the house of the deceased. The Nampiyan consecrates a pot of water with prayers, the Ōcchan plays on his musical instrument, and the Vellālas and Kudikkari powder the turmeric to be smeared over the corpse. In the case of temple devotees, their dead bodies must be bathed with this substance by the priest, after which alone the funeral ceremonies may proceed. The Kartā (chief mourner), who is the nearest male relative, has to get his whole head shaved. When a temple priest dies, though he is a Brāhman, the dancing-girl, on whom he has performed the vicarious marriage rite, has to go to his death-bed, and prepare the turmeric powder to be dusted over his corpse. The anniversary [145]of the death of the mother and maternal uncle are invariably observed.

“The adoption of a dancing-girl is a lengthy ceremony. The application to the temple authorities takes the form of a request that the girl to be adopted may be made heir to both kuti and pati, that is, to the house and temple service of the person adopting. The sanction of the authorities having been obtained, all concerned meet at the house of the person who is adopting, a document is executed, and a ceremony, of the nature of the Jātakarma, performed. The girl then goes through the marriage rite, and is handed over to the charge of the music teacher to be regularly trained in her profession.”

As bearing on the initiation, laws of inheritance, etc., of Dēva-dāsis, the following cases, which have been argued in the Madras High Court, may be quoted26:—

(a) In a charge against a dancing-girl of having purchased a young girl, aged five, with the intent that she would be used for the purpose of prostitution, or knowing it to be likely that she would be so used, evidence was given of the fact of purchase for sixty rupees, and that numerous other dancing-girls, residing in the neighbourhood, were in the habit of obtaining girls and bringing them up as dancing-girls or prostitutes, and that there were no instances of girls brought up by dancing-girls ever having been married. One witness stated that there were forty dancing-girls’ houses in the town (Adōni), and that their chief source of income was prostitution, and that the dancing-girls, who have no daughters of their own, get girls from others, bring them up, and eventually make them dancing-girls or [146]prostitutes. He added that the dancing-girls get good incomes by bringing up girls in preference to boys. Another witness stated that dancing-girls, when they grow old, obtain girls and bring them up to follow their profession, and that good-looking girls are generally bought.27

(b) The evidence showed that two of the prisoners were dancing-girls of a certain temple, that one of them took the two daughters of the remaining prisoner to the pagoda, to be marked as dancing-girls, and that they were so marked, and their names entered in the accounts of the pagoda. The first prisoner (the mother of the girls) disposed of the children to the third prisoner for the consideration of a neck ornament and thirty-five rupees. The children appeared to be of the ages of seven and two years, respectively. Evidence was taken, which tended to prove that dancing-girls gain their livelihood by the performance of certain offices in pagodas, by assisting in the performance of ceremonies in private houses, by dancing and singing upon the occasion of marriage, and by prostitution.28

(c) The first prisoner presented an application for the enrolment of his daughter as a dancing-girl at one of the great pagodas. He stated her age to be thirteen. She attained puberty a month or two after her enrolment. Her father was the servant of a dancing-girl, the second prisoner, who had been teaching the minor dancing for some five years. The evidence showed that the second prisoner brought the girl to the pagoda, that both first and second prisoners were present when the bottu (or tāli) was tied, and other ceremonies of the dedication performed; that third prisoner, as Battar of the temple, [147]was the person who actually tied the bottu, which denotes that the Dāsi is wedded to the idol. There was the usual evidence that dancing-girls live by prostitution, though occasionally kept by the same man for a year or more.29

(d) The plaintiff, a Dēva-dāsi, complained that, when she brought offerings according to custom and placed them before the God at a certain festival, and asked the Archakas (officiating priests) to present the offerings to the God, burn incense, and then distribute them, they refused to take the offerings on the ground that the Dēva-dāsi had gone to a Kōmati’s house to dance. She claimed damages, Rs. 10, for the rejected offerings, and Rs. 40 for loss of honour, and a perpetual injunction to allow her to perform the mantapa hadi (sacrifice) at the Chittrai Vasanta festival. The priests pleaded that the dancing-girl had, for her bad conduct in having danced at a Kōmati’s house, and subsequently refused to expiate the deed by drinking panchagavyan (five products of the cow) according to the shastras, been expelled both from her caste and from the temple.30

(e) In a certain temple two dancing-girls were dedicated by the Dharmakarta to the services of the temple without the consent of the existing body of dancing-girls, and the suit was instituted against the Dharmakarta and these two Dēva-dāsis, asking that the Court should ascertain and declare the rights of the Dēva-dāsis of the pagoda in regard (1) to the dedication of Dēva-dāsis, (2) to the Dharmakarta’s power to bind and suspend them; and that the Court should ascertain and declare the rights of the plaintiff, the existing Dēva-dāsis, as to the exclusion of all other Dēva-dāsis, [148]save those who are related to or adopted by some one of the Dēva-dāsis for the time being, or those who, being approved by all, are elected and proposed to the Dharmakarta for dedication. That the new Dāsis may be declared to have been improperly dedicated, and not entitled to any of the rights of Dēva-dāsis, and restrained from attending the pagoda in that character, and from interfering with the duly dedicated Dēva-dāsis in the exercise of their office. That first defendant be restrained from stamping and dedicating other Dēva-dāsis but such as are duly approved. The Judge dismissed the case on the ground that it would be contrary to public policy to make the declaration prayed for, as, in so doing, the Court would be lending itself to bringing the parties under the criminal law. In the appeal, which was dismissed, one of the Judges remarked that the plaintiffs claimed a right exclusive to themselves and a few other dancing-women, professional prostitutes, to present infant female children for dedication to the temple as dancing-girls to be stamped as such, and so accredited to become at maturity professional prostitutes, private or public.31

(f) A Dēva-dāsi sued to establish her right to the mirāsi (fees) of dancing-girls in a certain pagoda, and to be put in possession of the said mirāsi together with the honours and perquisites attached thereto, and to recover twenty-four rupees, being the value of said perquisites and honours for the year preceding. She alleged that the Dharmakarta of the pagoda and his agents wrongfully dismissed her from the office because she had refused to acquiesce in the admission by the Dharmakarta of new dancing-girls into the pagoda service, of [149]which she claimed the monopoly for herself and the then existing families of dancing-girls. The District Judge dismissed the suit, but the High Court ordered a re-investigation as to the question of the existence of an hereditary office with endowments or emoluments attached to it.32

(g) A girl, aged seventeen, instituted a suit against the trustees of a pagoda. It was alleged that a woman who died some years previously was one of the dancing-women attached to the pagoda, and, as such, entitled to the benefit of one of the temple endowments; that she had taken in adoption the plaintiff, who was accordingly entitled to succeed to her office and the emoluments attached to it; that the plaintiff could not enter on the office until a bottu-tāli had been tied on her in the temple; and that the trustees did not permit this to be done. The prayer of the plaint was that the defendants be compelled to allow the tāli to be tied in the temple in view to the girl performing the dancing service, and enjoying the honours and endowments attached thereto. The Judge dismissed the suit on the ground that the claim was inadmissible, as being in effect a claim by the plaintiff to be enlisted as a public prostitute.33

(h) On the death of a prostitute dancing-girl, her adopted niece, belonging to the same class, succeeds to her property, in whatever way it is acquired, in preference to a brother remaining in his caste. The general rule is that the legal relation between a prostitute dancing-girl and her undegraded relations remaining in caste be severed.34

(i) A pauper sued his sister for the partition of property valued at Rs. 34,662. The parties belonged to [150]the Bōgam caste in the Godāvari district. The woman pleaded that the property had been acquired by her as a prostitute, and denied her brother’s claim to it. He obtained a decree for only Rs. 100, being a moiety of the property left by their mother. The High Court held, on the evidence as to the local custom of the caste, that the decree was right.35

(j) The accused, a Mādiga of the Bellary district, dedicated his minor daughter as a Basavi by a form of marriage with an idol. It appeared that a Basavi is incapable of contracting a lawful marriage, and ordinarily practices promiscuous intercourse with men, and that her sons succeed to her father’s property. It was held that the accused had committed an offence under the Penal Code, which lays down that “whoever sells, lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any minor under the age of sixteen years, with intent that such minor shall be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution, or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, shall be punished, etc.” The Sessions judge referred to evidence that it was not a matter of course for Basavis to prostitute themselves for money, and added: “The evidence is very clear that Basavis are made in accordance with a custom of the Mādiga caste. It is also in evidence that one of the effects of making a girl Basavi is that her male issue becomes a son of her father, and perpetuates his family, whereas, if she were married, he would perpetuate her husband’s family. In this particular case, the girl was made a Basavi that she might be heir to her aunt, who was a Basavi, but childless. Siddalingana Gowd says that they and their issue inherit the parents’ property. There is evidence that Basavis [151]are made on a very large scale, and that they live in their parents’ houses. There is no evidence that they are regarded otherwise than as respectable members of the caste. It seems as if the Basavi is the Mādiga and Bēdar equivalent of the “appointed daughter” of Hindu law (Mitakshara, Chap. I, s. xi, 3). Upon the whole, the evidence seems to establish that, among the Mādigas, there is a widespread custom of performing, in a temple at Uchangidurgam, a marriage ceremony, the result of which is that the girl is married without possibility of widowhood or divorce; that she is at liberty to have intercourse with men at her pleasure; that her children are heirs to her father, and keep up his family; and that Basavi’s nieces, being made Basavis, become their heirs. The Basavis seem in some cases to become prostitutes, but the language used by the witnesses generally points only to free intercourse with men, and not necessarily to receipt of payment for use of their bodies. In fact, they seem to acquire the right of intercourse with men without more discredit than accrues to the men of their caste for intercourse with women who are not their wives.36

It may be observed that Dēva-dāsis are the only class of women, who are, under Hindu law as administered in the British Courts, allowed to adopt girls to themselves. Amongst the other castes, a widow, for instance, cannot adopt to herself, but only to her husband, and she cannot adopt a daughter instead of a son. A recent attempt by a Brāhman at Poona to adopt a daughter, who should take the place of a natural-born daughter, was held to be invalid by general law, and not sanctioned by local usage.37 The same would be held in [152]Madras. “But among dancing-girls,” Mayne writes,38 “it is customary in Madras and Western India to adopt girls to follow their adoptive mother’s profession, and the girls so adopted succeed to their property. No particular ceremonies are necessary, recognition alone being sufficient. In the absence, however, of a special custom, and on the analogy of an ordinary adoption, only one girl can be adopted.” In Calcutta and Bombay these adoptions by dancing-girls have been held invalid.39

Of proverbs relating to dancing-girls, the following may be quoted:—

(1) The dancing-girl who could not dance said that the hall was not big enough. The Rev. H. Jensen gives40 as an equivalent “When the devil could not swim, he laid the blame on the water.”

(2) If the dancing-girl be alive, and her mother dies, there will be beating of drums; but, if the dancing-girl dies, there will be no such display. This is explained by Jensen as meaning that, to secure the favour of a dancing-girl, many men will attend her mother’s funeral; but, if the dancing-girl herself dies, there is nothing to be gained by attending the funeral.

(3) Like a dancing-girl wiping a child. Jensen remarks that a dancing-girl is supposed to have no children, so she does not know how to keep them clean. Said of one who tries to mend a matter, but lacks experience, and makes things worse than they were before.

(4) As when a boy is born in a dancing-girl’s house. Jensen notes that, if dancing-girls have children, they desire to have girls, that they may be brought up to their own profession. [153]

(5) The dancing-girl, who was formerly more than filled with good food in the temple, now turns a somersault to get a poor man’s rice.

(6) If a matron is chaste, she may live in the dancing-girl’s street,

The insigne of courtesans, according to the Conjeeveram records, is a Cupid, that of a Christian, a curry-comb.41

Dēvādiga.—The Dēvādigas are Canarese-speaking temple servants in South Canara, concerning whom Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows.42 “This is a class of servants, chiefly musicians in Hindu temples. In the reign of Mayūra Varma, who built a number of new temples, it was found that Brāhmans could not perform all the services. It was, therefore, ordained by him that the pūja or worship alone should be performed by the Brāhmans, and that the Stanikas and Dēvādigas should perform the other services in the temples. They are also called Moili (or Moyili), but there is a caste called Kannada Moili which is quite distinct, and Dēvādigas will not eat with them. Some of them cultivate lands, and some are employed as peons and constables. They returned eleven sub-divisions, but only one (Tulu) is numerically important. They are Vaishnavites, and Tulu Brāhmans are their priests. As regards marriage, there is no fixed age. Remarriage of widows is permitted, but it is practiced only in the case of young widows. The dead are burned. They eat flesh, and drink liquor.”

The Dēvādigas or Moilis speak Tulu, and are mainly agriculturists. Their traditional occupation, however, is said to be service in temples (slaves or servants of the [154]dēva or god). A large number of them, both male and female, are engaged as domestic servants. Like the Bants, they follow the aliya santāna law of inheritance (in the female line), and they have the same balis (septs) as the Bants and Billavas. In their marriage ceremonies, they closely imitate the Bants. An interesting feature in connection therewith is that, during the dhāre ceremony, a screen is interposed between the bride and bridegroom at the time when the dhāre water is poured. As a sign of betrothal, a ring is given to the bride-elect, and she wears it on the little finger. The caste is a mixed one, and here and there Dēvādigas are seen to have the typical prominent cheek-bones and square face of the Jains.

In the Census Report, 1901, Dakkera Dēvali, Padarti, and Vālagadava are returned as sub-divisions of Dēvādiga.

Dēvala (belonging to God).—An exogamous sept of Oddē. The equivalent Dēvali has been recorded as a sub-caste of Dēvādiga, and Dēvalyal as a division of the Todas.43 A division of the Irulas of the Nīlgiris, settled near the village of Dēvāla, is known by that name.

Dēvānga.—The Dēvāngas are a caste of weavers, speaking Telugu or Canarese, who are found all over the Madras Presidency. Those whom I studied in the Bellary district connected my operations in a vague way with the pilāg (plague) tax, and collection of subscriptions for the Victoria Memorial. They were employed in weaving women’s sāris in pure cotton, or with a silk border, which were sold to rich merchants in the local bazaar, some of whom belong to the Dēvānga caste. They laughingly said that, though they are [155]professional weavers, they find it cheapest to wear cloths of European manufacture.



The Dēvāngas are also called Jādaru or Jāda (great men), Dēndra, Dēvara, Dēra, Sēniyan, and Sēdan. At Coimbatore, in the Tamil country, they are called Settukkāran (economical people).

The following legend is narrated concerning the origin of the caste. Brahma, having created Manu, told him to weave clothes for Dēvas and men. Accordingly Manu continued to weave for some years, and reached heaven through his piety and virtuous life. There being no one left to weave for them, the Dēvas and men had to wear garments of leaves. Vexed at this, they prayed to Brahma that he would rescue them from their plight. Brahma took them to Siva, who at once created a lustrous spirit, and called him Dēvalan. Struck with the brilliancy thereof, all fled in confusion, excepting Parvati, who remained near Siva. Siva told her that Dēvalan was created to weave clothes, to cover the limbs and bodies of Dēvas and men, whose descendants are in consequence called Dēvāngas (Dēva angam, limb of god). Dēvalan was advised to obtain thread from the lotus stalks springing from the navel of Vishnu, and he secured them after a severe penance. On his way back, he met a Rākshasa, Vajradantan by name, who was doing penance at a hermitage, disguised as a Sanyāsi. Deceived by his appearance, Dēvalan paid homage to him, and determined to spend the night at the hermitage. But, towards the close of the day, the Rishi and his followers threw off their disguise, and appeared in their true colours as Asuras. Dēvalan sought the assistance of Vishnu, and a chakra was given to him, with which he attempted to overthrow the increasing number of Asuras. He then invoked the assistance of Chaudanāyaki or [156]Chaudēswari, who came riding on a lion, and the Asuras were killed off. The mighty Asuras who met their death were Vajradantan (diamond-toothed), Pugainethran (smoke-eyed), Pugaimugan (smoke-faced), Chithrasēnan (leader of armies) and Jeyadrathan (owner of a victory-securing car). The blood of these five was coloured respectively yellow, red, white, green, and black. For dyeing threads of different colours, Dēvalan dipped them in the blood. The Dēvāngas claim to be the descendants of Dēvalan, and say that they are Dēvānga Brāhmans, on the strength of the following stanza, which seems to have been composed by a Dēvānga priest, Sambalinga Murti by name:—

Manu was born in the Brāhman caste.

He was surely a Brāhman in the womb.

There is no Sudraism in this caste.

Dēvanga had the form of Brāhma.

The legendary origin of the Dēvāngas is given as follows in the Baramahal Records.44 “When Brahma the creator created the charam and acharam, or the animate and inanimate creation, the Dēvatas or gods, Rākshasas or evil demons, and the human race, were without a covering for their bodies, which displeasing the god Narada or reason, he waited upon Paramēshwara or the great Lord at his palace on the Kailāsa Parvata or mount of paradise, and represented the indecent state of the inhabitants of the universe, and prayed that he would be pleased to devise a covering for their nakedness. Paramēshwara saw the propriety of Narada’s request, and thought it was proper to grant it. While he was so thinking, a male sprang into existence from his body, whom he named Dēva angam [157]or the body of God, in allusion to the manner of his birth. Dēva angam instantly asked his progenitor why he had created him. The God answered ‘Repair to the pāla samudram or sea of milk, where you will find Sri Maha Vishnu or the august mighty god Vishnu, and he will tell thee what to do.’ Dēva angam repaired to the presence of Sri Maha Vishnu, and represented that Paramēshwara had sent him, and begged to be favoured with Vishnu’s commands. Vishnu replied ‘Do you weave cloth to serve as a covering to the inhabitants of the universe.’ Vishnu then gave him some of the fibres of the lotus flower that grew from his navel, and taught him how to make it into cloth. Dēva angam wove a piece of cloth, and presented it to Vishnu, who accepted it, and ordered him to depart, and to take the fibres of trees, and make raiment for the inhabitants of the Vishnu loka or gods. Dēva angam created ten thousand weavers, who used to go to the forest and collect the fibre of trees, and make it into cloth for the Dēvatas or gods and the human race. One day, Dēva angam and his tribe went to a forest in the Bhuloka or earthly world, in order to collect the fibre of trees, when he was attacked by a race of Rākshasas or giants, on which he waxed wroth, and, unbending his jata or long plaited hair, gave it a twist, and struck it once on the ground. In that moment, a Shakti, or female goddess having eight hands, each grasping a warlike weapon, sprang from the earth, attacked the Rākshasas, and defeated them. Dēva anga named her Chudēshwari or goddess of the hair, and, as she delivered his tribe out of the hands of the Rākshasas, he made her his tutelary divinity.”

The tribal goddess of the Dēvāngas is Chaudēswari, a form of Kāli or Durga, who is worshipped annually [158]at a festival, in which the entire community takes part either at the temple, or at a house or grove specially prepared for the occasion. During the festival weaving operations cease; and those who take a prominent part in the rites fast, and avoid pollution. The first day is called alagu nilupadam (erecting, or fixing of the sword). The goddess is worshipped, and a sheep or goat sacrificed, unless the settlement is composed of vegetarian Dēvāngas. One man at least from each sept fasts, remains pure, and carries a sword. Inside the temple, or at the spot selected, the pūjari (priest) tries to balance a long sword on its point on the edge of the mouth of a pot, while the alagu men cut their chests with the swords. Failure to balance the sword is believed to be due to pollution brought by somebody to get rid of which the alagu men bathe. Cow’s urine and turmeric water are sprinkled over those assembled, and women are kept at a distance to prevent menstrual or other form of pollution. On the next day, called jothiārambam (jothi, light or splendour) as Chaudēswari is believed to have sprung from jothi, a big mass is made of rice flour, and a wick, fed with ghī (clarified butter) and lighted, is placed in a cavity scooped out therein. This flour lamp must be made by members of a pūjāri’s family assisted sometimes by the alagu boys. In its manufacture, a quantity of rice is steeped in water, and poured on a plantain leaf. Jaggery (crude sugar) is then mixed with it, and, when it is of the proper consistency, it is shaped into a cone, and placed on a silver or brass tray. On the third day, called pānaka pūja or mahānēvedyam, jaggery water is offered, and cocoanuts, and other offerings are laid before the goddess. The rice mass is divided up, and given to the pūjari, setti, alagu men and boys, and to the [159]community, to which small portions are doled out in a particular order, which must be strictly observed. For example, at Tindivānam the order is as follows:—

  • Setti (headman).
  • Dhondapu family.
  • Bapatla family.
  • Kosanam family.
  • Modanam family.

Fire-walking does not form part of the festival, as the goddess herself sprang from fire.

In some places in the North Arcot district the festival lasts over ten days, and varies in some points from the above. On the first day, the people go in procession to a jammi (Prosopis spicigera) tree, and worship a decorated pot (kalasam), to which sheep and goats are sacrificed. From the second to the sixth day, the goddess and pot are worshipped daily. On the seventh day, the jammi tree is again visited, and a man carries on his back cooked rice, which may not be placed on the ground, except near the tree, or at the temple. If the rice is not set down en route thereto, it is accepted as a sign that the festival may be proceeded with. Otherwise they would be afraid to light the joti on the ninth day. This is a busy day, and the ceremonies of sandhulu kattadam (binding the corners), alagu erecting, lighting the flour mass, and pot worship are performed. Early in the morning, goats and sheep are killed, outside the village boundary, in the north, east, south, and west corners, and the blood is sprinkled on all sides to keep off all foreign ganams or saktis. The sword business, as already described, is gone through, and certain tests applied to see whether the joti may be lighted. A lime fruit is placed in the region of the navel of the idol, who should throw it down spontaneously. A bundle of betel leaves is cut across with a knife, and the cut ends should unite. If the [160]omens are favourable, the joti is lighted, sheep and goats are killed, and pongal (rice) is offered to the joti. The day closes with worship of the pot. On the last day the rice mass is distributed. All Dēvānga guests from other villages have to be received and treated with respect according to the local rules, which are in force. For this purpose, the community divide their settlements into Sthalams, Pāyakattulu, Galugrāmatulu, Pētalu, and Kurugrāmālu, which have a definite order of precedence.

Among the Dēvāngas the following endogamous sections occur:—(1) Telugu; (2) Canarese; (3) Hathinentu Manayavaru (eighteen house people); (4) Sivachara; (5) Ariya; (6) Kodekal Hatakararu (weavers).

They are practically divided into two linguistic sections, Canarese and Telugu, of which the former have adopted the Brāhmanical ceremonials to a greater extent than the latter, who are more conservative. Those who wear the sacred thread seem to preponderate over the non-thread weavers in the Canarese section. To the thread is sometimes attached metal charm-cylinder to ward off evil spirits.

The following are examples of exogamous septs in the Telugu section:—

  • Ākāsam, sky.
  • Anumala, seeds of Dolichos lablab.
  • Boggula, charcoal.
  • Bandla, rock or cart.
  • Chintakai, tamarind fruit.
  • Challa, buttermilk.
  • Chapparam, pandal or booth.
  • Dhoddi, cattle-pen, or courtyard.
  • Dhuggāni, money.
  • Yerra, red.
  • Konda, mountain.
  • Kaththi, knife.
  • Bandāri (treasurer).
  • Būsam, grain.
  • Dhondapu (Cephalandra indica).
  • Elugoti, assembly.
  • Gattu, bank or mound.
  • Paidam, money.
  • Gonapala, old plough.
  • Gosu, pride.
  • Jigala, pith. [161]
  • Katta, a dam.
  • Kompala, houses.
  • Kōnangi, buffoon.
  • Kātikala, collyrium.
  • Kaththiri, scissors.
  • Mōksham, heaven.
  • Pasupala, turmeric.
  • Pidakala, dried cow-dung cakes.
  • Pōthula, male.
  • Pachi powaku, green tobacco.
  • Padavala, boat.
  • Pouzala, a bird.
  • Pammi, clay lamp.
  • Thalakōka, female cloth.
  • Thūtla, hole.
  • Utla, ropes for hanging pots.
  • Vasthrāla, cloths.
  • Matam, monastery.
  • Madira, liquor or heap of earth.
  • Mēdam, fight.
  • Māsila, dirt.
  • Olikala, funeral pyre and ashes.
  • Prithvi, earth.
  • Peraka, tile.
  • Punjala, cock or male.
  • Pinjala, cotton-cleaning.
  • Pichchiga, sparrow.
  • Sika (kudumi: tuft of hair).
  • Sandala, lanes.
  • Santha, a fair.
  • Sajje (Setaria italica).

The majority of Dēvāngas are Saivites, and wear the lingam. They do not, however, wash the stone lingam with water, in which the feet of Jangams have been washed. They are not particular as to always keeping the lingam on the body, and give as an explanation that, when they are at work, they have to touch all kinds of people. Some said that merchants, when engaged in their business, should not wear the lingam, especially if made of spatikam (quartz), as they have to tell untruths as regards the value and quality of their goods, and ruin would follow if these were told while the lingam was on the body.

In some parts of Ganjam, the country folk keep a large number of Brāhmini bulls. When one of these animals dies, very elaborate funeral ceremonies take place, and the dead beast is carried in procession by Dēvāngas, and buried by them. As the Dēvāngas are Lingāyats, they have a special reverence for Basavanna, the sacred bull, and the burying of the Brāhmini bull is [162]regarded by them as a sacred and meritorious act. Other castes do not regard it as such, though they often set free sacred cows or calves.

Dēvāngas and Padma Sālēs never live in the same street, and do not draw water from the same well. This is probably due to the fact that they belong to the left and right-hand factions respectively, and no love is lost between them. Like other left-hand castes, Dēvāngas have their own dancing-girls, called Jāthi-biddalu (children of the castes), whose male offspring do achchupani, printing-work on cloth, and occasionally go about begging from Dēvāngas. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that “in Madura and Tinnevelly, the Dēvāngas, or Sēdans, consider themselves a shade superior to the Brāhmans, and never do namaskāram (obeisance or salutation) to them, or employ them as priests. In Madura and Coimbatore, the Sēdans have their own dancing-girls, who are called Dēvānga or Sēda Dāsis in the former, and Mānikkāttāl in the latter, and are strictly reserved for members of the caste under pain of excommunication or heavy fine.”

Concerning the origin of the Dēvānga beggars, called Singamvādu, the following legend is current. When Chaudēswari and Dēvālan were engaged in combat with the Asuras, one of the Asuras hid himself behind the ear of the lion, on which the goddess was seated. When the fight was over, he came out, and asked for pardon. The goddess took pity on him, and ordered that his descendants should be called Singamvāllu, and asked Dēvālan to treat them as servants, and support them. Dēvāngas give money to these beggars, who have the privilege of locking the door, and carrying away the food, when the castemen take their meals. In assemblies of Dēvāngas, the hand of the beggar serves [163]as a spittoon. He conveys the news of death, and has as the insignia of office a horn, called thuththari or singam.

The office of headman, or Pattagar, is hereditary, and he is assisted by an official called Sesha-rāju or Umidisetti who is the servant of the community, and receives a small fee annually for each loom within his beat.

Widow remarriage is permitted in some places, and forbidden in others. There may be intermarriage between the flesh-eating and vegetarian sections. But a girl who belongs to a flesh-eating family, and marries into a vegetarian family, must abstain from meat, and may not touch any vessel or food in her husband’s family till she has reached puberty. Before settling the marriage of a girl, some village goddess, or Chaudēswari, is consulted, and the omens are watched. A lizard chirping on the right is a good omen, and on the left bad. Sometimes, red and white flowers, wrapped up in green leaves, are thrown in front of the idol, and the omen considered good or bad according to the flower which a boy or girl picks up. At the marriage ceremony which commences with distribution of pān-supāri (betel) and Vignēswara worship, the bride is presented with a new cloth, and sits on a three-legged stool or cloth-roller (dhonige). The maternal uncle puts round her neck a bondhu (strings of unbleached cotton) dipped in turmeric. The ceremonies are carried out according to the Purānic ritual, except by those who consider themselves to be Dēvānga Brāhmans. On the first day the milk post is set up being made of Odina Wodier in the Tamil, and Mimusops hexandra in the Telugu country. Various rites are performed, which include tonsure, upanāyanam (wearing the sacred thread), pādapūja (washing the feet), Kāsiyātra (mock pilgrimage to Benares), dhārādhattam [164](giving away the bride), and māngalyadhāranam (tying the marriage badge, or bottu). The proceedings conclude with pot searching. A pap-bowl and ring are put into a pot. If the bride picks out the bowl, her first-born will be a girl, and if the bridegroom gets hold of the ring, it will be a boy. On the fifth day, a square design is made on the floor with coloured rice grains. Between the contracting couple and the square a row of lights is placed. Four pots are set, one at each corner of the square, and eight pots arranged along each side thereof. On the square itself, two pots representing Siva and Uma, are placed, with a row of seedling pots near them. A thread is wound nine times round the pots representing the god and goddess, and tied above to the pandal. After the pots have been worshipped, the thread is cut, and worn, with the sacred thread, for three months. This ceremony is called Nāgavali.

When a girl reaches puberty, a twig of Alangium Lamarckii is placed in the menstrual hut to keep off devils.

The dead are generally buried in a sitting posture. Before the grave is filled in, a string is tied to the kudumi (hair knot) of the corpse, and, by its means, the head is brought near the surface. Over it a lingam is set up, and worshipped daily throughout the death ceremonies.

The following curious custom is described by Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. Once in twelve years, a Dēvānga leaves his home, and joins the Padma Sālēs. He begs from them, saying that he is the son of their caste, and as such entitled to be supported by them. If alms are not forthcoming, he enters the house, and carries off whatever he may be able to pick up. Sometimes, if he can get nothing else, he has been known to seize a [165]lighted cigar in the mouth of a Sālē, and run off with it. The origin of this custom is not certain, but it has been suggested that the Dēvāngas and Sālēs were originally one caste, and that the former separated from the latter when they became Lingāyats. A Dēvānga only becomes a Chinērigādu when he is advanced in years, and will eat the remnants of food left by Padma Sālēs on their plates. A Chinērigādu is, on his death, buried by the Sālēs.

Many of the Dēvāngas are short of stature, light skinned, with sharp-cut features, light-brown iris, and delicate tapering fingers. Those at Hospet, in the Bellary district, carried thorn tweezers (for removing thorns of Acacia arabica from the feet), tooth-pick and ear-scoop, suspended as a chatelaine from the loin-string. The more well-to-do had these articles made of silver, with the addition of a silver saw for paring the nails and cutting cheroots. The name Pampanna, which some of them bore, is connected with the nymph Pampa, who resides at Hampi, and asked Paramēswara to become her husband. He accordingly assumed the name of Pampāpathi, in whose honour there is a tank at Anagūndi, and temple at Hampi. He directed Pampa to live in a pond, and pass by the name of Pampasarovara.

The Sēdans of Coimbatore, at the time of my visit in October, were hard at work making clothes for the Dīpāvali festival. It is at times of festivals and marriages, in years of prosperity among the people, that the weavers reap their richest harvest.

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Bilimagga (white loom) and Atagāra (weavers and exorcists) are returned as sub-castes of Dēvānga. The usual title of the Dēvāngas is Chetti. [166]

The shortness of stature of some of the weaving classes which I have examined is brought out by the following average measurements:—

Padma Sālē 159.9
Sūkūn Sālē 160.3
Togata 160.5
Suka Sālē 161.1

Dēvēndra.—A name assumed by some Pallans, who claim to be descended from the king of the gods (dēvas).

Dhabba (split bamboo).—Dhabba or Dhabbai is the name of a sub-division of Koravas, who split bamboos, and make various articles therefrom.

Dhakkado.—A small mixed class of Oriya cultivators, concerning whom there is a proverb that a Dhakkado does not know his father. They are described, in the Census Report, 1891, as “a caste of cultivators found in the Jeypore agency tracts. They are said to be the offspring of a Brāhman and a Sūdra girl, and, though living on the hills, they are not an uncivilised hill tribe. Some prepare and sell the sacred thread, others are confectioners. They wear the sacred thread, and do not drink water from the hands of any except Brāhmans. Girls are married before puberty, and widow marriage is practiced. They are flesh-eaters, and their dead are usually buried.”

In a note on the Dhakkados, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that “the illegitimate descendant of a Brāhman and a hill woman of the non-polluting castes is said to be known as a Dhakkado. The Dhakkados assume Brāhmanical names, but, as regards marriages, funerals, etc., follow the customs of their mother’s caste. Her caste people intermarry with her children. A [167]Dhakkado usually follows the occupation of his mother’s caste. Thus one whose mother is a Kevuto follows the calling of fishing or plying boats on rivers, one whose mother is a Bhumia is an agriculturist, and so on.”

Dhakūr.—Stated, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, to be illegitimate children of Brāhmans, who wear the paieta (sacred thread).

Dhanapāla.—A sub-division of Gollas, who guard treasure while it is in transit.

Dhangar.—Dhangar, or Donigar, is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a Marāthi caste of shepherds and cattle-breeders. I gather, from a note45 on the Dhangars of the Kanara district in the Bombay Presidency, that “the word Dhangar is generally derived from the Sanskrit dhenu, a cow. Their home speech is Marāthi, but they can speak Kanarese. They keep a special breed of cows and buffaloes, known as Dhangar mhasis and Dhangar gāis which are the largest cattle in Kanara. Many of Shivāji’s infantry were Sātāra Dhangars.”

Dhaniāla (coriander).—An exogamous sept of Kamma. Dhaniāla Jāti, or coriander caste, is an opprobrious name applied to Kōmatis, indicating that, in business transactions, they must be crushed as coriander fruits are crushed before the seed is sown.

Dhāre.—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. In the Canara country, the essential and binding part of the marriage ceremony is called dhāre (see Bant).

Dharmarāja.—An exogamous sept of the Irulas of North Arcot. Dharmarāja was the eldest of the five Pāndavas, the heroes of the Mahābhāratha. [168]

Dhippo (light).—An exogamous sept of Bhondāri. The members thereof may not blow out lights, or extinguish them in any other way. They will not light lamps without being madi, i.e., wearing silk cloths, or cloths washed and dried after bathing.

Dhōbi.—A name used for washerman by Anglo-Indians all over India. The word is said to be derived from dhōha, Sanskrit, dhāv, to wash. A whitish grey sandy efflorescence, found in many places, from which, by boiling and the addition of quicklime, an alkali of considerable strength is obtained, is called Dhōbi’s earth.46 “The expression dhobie itch,” Manson writes,47 “although applied to any itching ringworm-like affection of any part of the skin, most commonly refers to some form of epiphytic disease of the crutch or axilla (armpit).” The disease is very generally supposed to be communicated by clothes from the wash, but Manson is of opinion that the belief that it is contracted from clothes which have been contaminated by the washerman is probably not very well founded.

Dhōbi is the name, by which the washerman caste of the Oriyas is known. “They are said,” Mr. Francis writes,48 “to have come originally from Orissa. Girls are generally married before maturity, and, if this is not possible, they have to be married to a sword or a tree, before they can be wedded to a man. Their ordinary marriage ceremonies are as follows. The bridal pair bathe in water brought from seven different houses. The bridegroom puts a bangle on the bride’s arm (this is the binding part of the ceremony); the left and right wrists of the bride and bridegroom are tied together; betel leaf and nut are tied in a corner of the bride’s cloth, and a [169]myrabolam (Terminalia fruit) in that of the bridegroom; and finally the people present in the pandal (booth) throw rice and saffron (turmeric) over them. Widows and divorced women may marry again. They are Vaishnavites, but some of them also worship Kāli or Durga. They employ Bairāgis, and occasionally Brāhmans, as their priests. They burn their dead, and perform srāddha (annual memorial ceremony). Their titles are Chetti (or Mahā Chetti) and Bēhara.” The custom of the bridal pair bathing in water from seven different houses obtains among many Oriya castes, including Brāhmans. It is known by the name of pāni-tula. The water is brought by married girls, who have not reached puberty, on the night preceding the wedding day, and the bride and bridegroom wash in it before dawn. This bath is called koili pāni snāno, or cuckoo water-bath. The koil is the Indian koel or cuckoo (Eudynamis honorata), whose crescendo cry ku-il, ku-il, is trying to the nerves during the hot season.

The following proverbs49 relating to washermen may be quoted:—

Get a new washerman, and an old barber.

The washerman knows the defects of the village (i.e., he learns a good deal about the private affairs of the various families, when receiving and delivering the clothes).

When a washerman gets sick, his sickness must leave him at the stone. The stone referred to is the large stone, on which the washerman cleans cloths, and the proverb denotes that, however sick a washerman may be, his work must be done.

Dhoddi.—Dhoddi, meaning a court or back-yard, cattle-pen, or sheep-fold, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Dēvānga, Koppala Velama, Kama Sālē, Māla, and Yānādi. [170]

Dhoddiyan.—A name given by Tamilians to Jōgis.

Dhollo.—Dhollo is recorded in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as the same as Doluva. A correspondent informs me that Dhollo is said to be different from Doluva.

Dhōma (gnat or mosquito).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Dhondapu (Cephalandra indica).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga. The fruit is one of the commonest of native vegetables, and cooked in curries.

Dhōni (boat).—An exogamous sept of Mīla and Oruganti Kāpu. In a paper on the native vessels of South India by Mr. Edge, published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, the dhōni is described as “a vessel of ark-like form, about 70 feet long, 20 feet broad, and 11 feet deep, with a flat bottom or keel part, which at the broadest place is 7 feet.

“The whole equipment of these rude vessels, as well as their construction, is the most coarse and unseaworthy that I have ever seen.” The dhōni, with masts, is represented in the ancient lead and copper coinage of Southern India.

Dhor.—In the Madras Census Report, 1901, a few (164) individuals were returned as “Dhēr, a low caste of Marāthi leather workers.” They were, I gather from the Bombay Gazetteer, Dhors or tanners who dwell in various parts of the Bombay Presidency, and whose home speech, names and surnames seem to show that they have come from the Marātha country.

Dhūdala (calves).—An exogamous sept of Thūmati Golla.

Dhudho (milk).—A sept of Omanaito.

Dhuggāni (money).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga. [171]

Dhūliya.—Dhūliya or Dūlia is a small class of Oriya cultivators, some of whom wear the sacred thread, and employ Boishnobs as their priests. Marriage before puberty is not compulsory, and widows can remarry. They eat flesh. The dead are cremated.50 The name is said to be derived from dhuli, dust, with which those who work in the fields are covered. Dhūliya also means carriers of dhulis (dhoolies), which are a form of palanquin.

Didāvi.—A sub-division of Poroja.

Digambara (space-clad or sky-clad, i.e., nude).—One of the two main divisions of the Jains. The Digambaras are said51 to “regard absolute nudity as the indispensable sign of holiness, though the advance of civilisation has compelled them to depart from the practice of their theory.”

Dīvar.See Dēva.

Diyāsi.—An exogamous sept of Dandāsi. The members thereof show special reverence for the sun, and cloths, mokkutos (forehead chaplets), garlands, and other articles to be used by the bride and bridegroom at a wedding are placed outside the house, so that they may be exposed to it.

Dolaiya.—A title of Doluva and Odia.

Dolobēhara.—The name of headmen or their assistants among many Oriya castes. In some cases, e.g., among the Haddis, the name is used as a title by families, members of which are headmen.

Doluva.—The Doluvas of Ganjam are, according to the Madras Census Report, 1891, “supposed to be the descendants of the old Rājahs by their concubines, and were employed as soldiers and attendants. The name is [172]said to be derived from the Sanskrit dola, meaning army.” The Doluvas claim to be descended from the Puri Rājahs by their concubines, and say that some of them were employed as sirdars and paiks under these Rājahs. They are said to have accompanied a certain Puri Rājah who came south to wage war, and to have settled in Ganjam. They are at the present day mainly engaged in agriculture, though some are traders, bricklayers, cart-drivers, etc. The caste seems to be divided into five sections, named Kondaiyito, Lenka, Rabba, Pottia, and Beharania, of which the first two are numerically the strongest and most widely distributed. Kondaiyito is said to be derived from kondo, an arrow, and to indicate warrior. The Kondaiyitos sometimes style themselves Rājah Doluvas, and claim superiority over the other sections. It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that “Oriya Zamindars get wives from this sub-division, but the men of it cannot marry into the Zamindar’s families. They wear the sacred thread, and are writers.” In former days, the title writer was applied to the junior grade of Civil Servants of the East India Company. It is now used to denote a copying clerk in an office.

Various titles occur among members of the caste, e.g., Bissoyi, Biswālo, Dolei, Jenna, Kottiya, Mahanti, Majhi, Nāhako, Porida, Rāvuto, Sāmulo, and Sāni.

The ordinary caste council system, with a hereditary headman, seems to be absent among the Doluvas, and the affairs of the caste are settled by leading members thereof.

The Doluvas are Paramarthos, following the Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism, and wearing a rosary of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) beads. They further worship various Tākurānis (village deities), among which are Kālva, Bāgadēvi, Kotari, Mahēswari, and Manickēswari. They [173]are in some places very particular regarding the performance of srādh (memorial ceremony), which is carried out annually in the following manner. On the night before the srādh day, a room is prepared for the reception of the soul of the deceased. This room is called pitru bharano (reception of the ancestor). The floor thereof is cleansed with cow-dung water, and a lamp fed with ghī (clarified butter) is placed on it by the side of a plank. On this plank a new cloth is laid for the reception of various articles for worship, e.g., sacred grass, Zizyphus jujuba leaves, flowers, etc. In front of the plank a brass vessel, containing water and a tooth brush of Achyranthes aspera root, is placed. The dead person’s son throws rice and Zizyphus leaves into the air, and calls on the deceased to come and give a blessing on the following day. The room is then locked, and the lamp kept burning in it throughout the night. On the following day, all old pots are thrown away and, after a small space has been cleaned on the floor of the house, a pattern is drawn thereon with flour in the form of a square or oblong with twelve divisions. On each division a jak (Artocarpus integrifolia) leaf is placed, and on each leaf the son puts cooked rice and vegetables. A vessel containing Achyranthes root, and a plank with a new cloth on it, are set by the side of the pattern. After worship has been performed and food offered, the cloth is presented to a Brāhman, and the various articles used in the ceremonial are thrown into water.

Dōmb.—The name Dōmb or Dōmbo is said to be derived from the word dumba, meaning devil, in reference to the thieving propensities of the tribe. The Dōmbas, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,52 “are a Dravidian [174]caste of weavers and menials, found in the hill tracts of Vizagapatam. This caste appears to be an offshoot of the Dōm caste of Bengal, Behār, and the North-Western Provinces. Like the Dōms, the Dōmbas are regarded with disgust, because they eat beef, pork, horse-flesh, rats, and the flesh of animals which have died a natural death, and both are considered to be Chandālas or Pariahs by the Bengālis and the Uriyas. The Dōmbs weave the cloths and blankets worn by the hill people, but, like the Pariahs of the plains, they are also labourers, scavengers, etc. Some of them are extensively engaged in trade, and they have, as a rule, more knowledge of the world than the ryots who despise them. They are great drunkards.” In the Census Report, 1871, it was noted that “in many villages, the Dōms carry on the occupation of weaving, but, in and around Jaipur, they are employed as horse-keepers, tom-tom beaters, scavengers, and in other menial duties. Notwithstanding their abject position in the social scale, some signs of progress may be detected amongst them. They are assuming the occupation, in many instances, of petty hucksters, eking out a livelihood by taking advantage of the small difference in rates between market and market.”

“The Dōmbs,” Mr. F. Fawcett writes,53 “are an outcast jungle people, who inhabit the forests on the high lands fifty to eighty or a hundred miles from the east coast, about Vizagapatam. Being outcast, they are never allowed to live within a village, but have their own little hamlet adjoining a village proper, inhabited by people of various superior castes. It is fair to say that the Dōmbs are akin to the Pānos of the adjoining [175]Khond country, a Pariah folk who live amongst the Khonds, and used to supply the human victims for the Meriah sacrifices. Indeed, the Khonds, who hold them in contemptuous inferiority, call them Dōmbas as a sort of alternative title to Pānos. The Paidis of the adjoining Savara or Saora country are also, doubtless, kinsmen of the Dōmbs. [The same man is said to be called Paidi by Telugus, Dōmbo by the Savaras, and Pāno by the Khonds. It is noted in the Census Report, 1881, that the Pāno quarters in Khond villages are called Dōmbo Sai.] In most respects their condition is a very poor one. Though they live in the best part of the Presidency for game, they know absolutely nothing of hunting, and cannot even handle a bow and arrow. They have, however, one respectable quality, industry, and are the weavers, traders, and money-lenders of the hills, being very useful as middlemen between the Khonds, Sauras, Gadabas, and other hill people on the one hand, and the traders of the plains on the other. I am informed, on good authority, that there are some Dōmbs who rise higher than this, but cannot say whether these are, or are not crosses with superior races. Most likely they are, for most of the Dōmbs are arrant thieves. It was this propensity for thieving, in fact, which had landed some hundreds of them in the jail at Vizagapatam when I visited that place, and gave me an opportunity of recording their measurements.” The averages of the more important of these measurements are as follows:—

Stature 161.9
Cephalic length 18.8
Cephalic breadth 14.3
Cephalic index 75.6
Nasal index 86.5


It is noted by the Missionary Gloyer54 that the colour of the skin of the Dōmbs varies from very dark to yellow, and their height from that of an Aryan to the short stature of an aboriginal, and that there is a corresponding variation in facial type.

For the following note on the Dōmbs, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. They are the weavers, traders, musicians, beggars, and money-lenders of the hills. Some own cattle, and cultivate. The hill people in the interior are entirely dependent on them for their clothing. A few Dōmb families are generally found to each village. They act as middlemen between the hill people and the Kōmati traders. Their profits are said to be large, and their children are, in some places, found attending hill schools. As musicians, they play on the drum and pipe. They are the hereditary musicians of the Mahārāja of Jeypore. A Dōmb beggar, when engaged in his professional calling, goes about from door to door, playing on a little pipe. Their supposed powers over devils and witches result in their being consulted when troubles appear. Though the Dōmbs are regarded as a low and polluting class, they will not eat at the hands of Kōmatis, Bhondāris, or Ghāsis. Some Dōmbas have become converts to Christianity through missionary influence.

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the following sections of the Dōmbs are recorded:—Onomia, Odia, Māndiri, Mirgām, and Kohara. The sub-divisions, however, seem to be as follows:—Mirigāni, Kobbiriya, Odiya, Sōdabisiya, Māndiri, and Andiniya. There are also various septs, of which the following have been recorded among the Odiyas:—Bhāg (tiger), Bālu (bear), [177]Nāg (cobra), Hanumān (the monkey god), Kochchipo (tortoise), Bengri (frog), Kukra (dog), Surya (sun), Matsya (fish), and Jaikonda (lizard). It is noted by Mr. Fawcett that “monkeys, frogs, and cobras are taboo, and also the sunāri tree (Ochna squarrosa). The big lizard, cobras, frogs, and the crabs which are found in the paddy fields, and are usually eaten by jungle people, may not be eaten.”

When a girl reaches puberty, she remains outside the hut for five days, and then bathes at the nearest stream, and is presented with a new cloth. In honour of the event, drink is distributed among her relatives. Girls are usually married after puberty. A man can claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage. When a proposal of marriage is to be made, the suitor carries some pots of liquor, usually worth two rupees, to the girl’s house, and deposits them in front of it. If her parents consent to the match, they take the pots inside, and drink some of the liquor. After some time has elapsed, more liquor, worth five rupees, is taken to the girl’s house. A reduction in the quantity of liquor is made when a man is proposing for the hand of his paternal aunt’s daughter, and, on the second occasion, the liquor will only be worth three rupees. A similar reduction is made in the jholla tonka, or bride price. On the wedding day, the bridegroom goes, accompanied by his relations, to the bride’s home, where, at the auspicious moment fixed by the Desāri, his father presents new cloths to himself and the bride, which they put on. They stand before the hut, and on each is placed a cloth with a myrabolam (Terminalia) seed, rice, and a few copper coins tied up in it. The bridegroom’s right little finger is linked with the left little finger of the bride, and they enter the hut. On the following day, the newly [178]married couple repair to the home of the bridegroom. On the third day, they are bathed in turmeric water, a pig is killed, and a feast is held. On the ninth day, the knots in the cloths, containing the myrabolams, rice, and coins, are untied, and the marriage ceremonies are at an end. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and a younger brother usually marries the widow of his elder brother.

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district, that “some of the Dōmbus of the Parvatipur Agency follow many of the customs of the low-country castes, including mēnarikam (marriage with the maternal uncle’s daughter), and say they are the same as the Paidis (or Paidi Mālas) of the plains adjoining, with whom they intermarry.”

The corpses of the more prosperous Dōmbs are usually cremated. The wood of the sunāri tree and relli (Cassia fistula) may not be used for the pyre. The son or husband of a deceased person has his head, moustache, and armpits shaved on the tenth day.

Dōmb women, and women of other tribes in the Jeypore Agency tracts, wear silver ear ornaments called nāgul, representing a cobra just about to strike with tongue protruded. Similar ornaments of gold, called nāga pōgulu (cobra-shaped earrings), are worn by women of some Telugu castes in the plains of Vizagapatam.

The personal names of the Dōmbs are, as among other Oriya castes, often those of the day of the week on which the individual was born.

Concerning the religion of the Dōmbs, Mr. Fawcett notes that “their chief god—probably an ancestral spirit—is called Kaluga. There is one in each village, in the headman’s house. The deity is represented by a pie piece (copper coin), placed in or over a new earthen [179]pot smeared with rice and turmeric powder. During worship, a silk cloth, a new cloth, or a wet cloth may be worn, but one must not dress in leaves. Before the mangoes are eaten, the first-fruits are offered to the moon, at the full moon of the month Chitra.”

“When,” Gloyer writes, “a house has to be built, the first thing is to select a favourable spot, to which few evil spirits (dūmas) resort. At this spot they put, in several places, three grains of rice arranged in such a way that the two lower grains support the upper one. To protect the grains, they pile up stones round them, and the whole is lightly covered with earth. When, after some time, they find on inspection that the upper grain has fallen off, the spot is regarded as unlucky, and must not be used. If the position of the grains remains unchanged, the omen is regarded as auspicious. They drive in the first post, which must have a certain length, say of five, seven, or nine ells, the ell being measured from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. The post is covered on the top with rice straw, leaves, and shrubs, so that birds may not foul it, which would be regarded as an evil omen. [In Madras, a story is current, with reference to the statue of Sir Thomas Munro, that he seized upon all the rice depôts, and starved the people to death by selling rice in egg-shells at one shell for a rupee, and, to punish him, the Government erected the statue in an open place, so that the birds of the air might insult him by polluting his face.] In measuring the house, odd numbers play an important part. The number four (pura, or full number), however, forms the proper measurement, whereby they measure the size of the house, according to the pleasure of the builder. But now the Dissary (Dēsāri) decides whether the house shall be built on the nandi, dua, or tia system, nandi [180]signifying one, dua two, and tia three. This number of ells must be added to the measurement of the house. Supposing that the length of the house is twelve ells, then it will be necessary to add one ell according to the nandi system, so that the length amounts to thirteen ells. The number four can only be used for stables.”

“The Dūmas,” Gloyer continues, “are represented as souls of the deceased, which roam about without a home, so as to cause to mankind all possible harm. At the birth of a child, the Dūma must be invited in a friendly manner to provide the child with a soul, and protect it against evil. For this purpose, a fowl is killed on the ninth day, a bone (beinknochen) detached, and pressed in to the hand of the infant. The relations are seated in solemn silence, and utter the formula:—When grandfather, grandmother, father, or brother comes, throw away the bone, and we will truly believe it. No sooner does the sprawling and excited infant drop the bone, than the Dūmas are come, and boisterous glee prevails. The Dūmas occasionally give vent to their ghostly sounds, and cause no little consternation among the inmates of a house, who hide from fear. Cunning thieves know how to rob the superstitious by employing instruments with a subdued tone (dumpftönende), or by emitting deep sounds from the chest. The yearly sacrifice to a Dūma consists of a black fowl and strong brandy. If a member of a family falls ill, an extraordinary sacrifice has to be offered up. The Dūma is not regarded only as an evil spirit, but also as a tutelary deity. He protects one against the treacherous attacks of witches. A place is prepared for him in the door-hinge, or a fishing-net, wherein he lives, is placed over the door. The witches must count all the knots of the net, before they can enter. Devil worship is closely connected with that of the [181]Dūma. The devil’s priests, and in rare cases priestesses, effect communion between the people and the Dūmas by a sort of possession, which the spirit, entering into them, is said to give rise to. This condition, which is produced by intoxicating drink and the fumes of burning incense, gives rise to revolting cramp-like contortions, and muscular quiverings. In this state, they are wont to communicate what sacrifices the spirits require. On special occasions, they fall into a frenzied state, in which they cut their flesh with sharp instruments, or pass long, thin iron bars through the tongue and cheeks, during which operation no blood must flow. For this purpose, the instruments are rubbed all over with some blood-congealing material or sap. They also affect sitting on a sacred swing, armed with long iron nails. [Mr. G. F. Paddison informs me that he once saw a villager in the Vizagapatam district, sitting outside the house, while groans proceeded from within. He explained that he was ill, and his wife was swinging on nails with their points upwards, to cure him.] The devil called Jom Duto, or messenger of the going, is believed to be a one-eyed, limping, black individual, whose hair is twisted into a frightfully long horn, while one foot is very long, and the other resembles the hoof of a buffalo. He makes his appearance at the death-bed, in order to drag his victim to the realm of torture.”

Children are supposed to be born without souls, and to be afterwards chosen as an abode by the soul of an ancestor. The coming of the ancestor is signalised by the child dropping a chicken bone which has been thrust into its hand, and much rejoicing follows among the assembled relations.55 [182]

Mr. Paddison tells me that some Dōmbs are reputed to be able to pour blazing oil over their bodies, without suffering any hurt; and one man is said to have had a miraculous power of hardening his skin, so that any one could have a free shot at him, without hurting him. He further narrates that, at Sujanakōta in the Vizagapatam district, the Dōmbs, notwithstanding frequent warnings, put devils into two successive schoolmasters.

Various tattoo devices, borne by the Dōmbs examined by Mr. Fawcett, are figured and described by him. “These patterns,” he writes, “were said to be, one and all, purely ornamental, and not in any way connected with totems, or tribal emblems.” Risley, however,56 regards “four out of the twelve designs as pretty closely related to the religion and mythology of the tribe; two are totems and two have reference to the traditional avocations. Nos. 11 and 12 represent a classical scene in Dōm folk-lore, the story of King Haris-Chandra, who was so generous that he gave all he had to the poor and sold himself to a Dōm at Benares, who employed him to watch his cremation ground at night. While he was thus engaged, his wife, who had also been sold for charitable purposes, came to burn the body of her son. She had no money to pay her fees, and Haris-Chandra, not knowing her in the darkness, turned her away. Fortunately the sun rose; mutual recognition followed; the victims of promiscuous largesse were at once remarried, and Vishnu intervened to restore the son to life. Tatu No. 11 shows Haris-Chandra watching the burning-ground by moonlight; the wavy line is the Ganges; the dots are the trees on the other side; the strokes on either side of the king are the logs of wood, [183]which he is guarding. In No. 12 we see the sun rising, its first ray marked with a sort of fork, and the meeting of the king and queen.”

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district, that “throughout the Jeypore country proper, the Dombus (and some Ghāsis) are by far the most troublesome class. Their favourite crime is cattle-theft for the sake of the skins, but, in 1902, a Dombu gang in Naurangpūr went so far as to levy blackmail over a large extent of country, and defy for some months all attempts at capture. The loss of their cattle exasperates the other hill folk to the last degree, and, in 1899, the Naiks (headmen) of sixteen villages in the north of Jeypore tāluk headed an organized attack on the houses of the Dombus, which, in the most deliberate manner, they razed to the ground in some fifteen villages. The Dombus had fortunately got scent of what was coming, and made themselves scarce, and no bloodshed occurred. In the next year, some of the Naiks of the Rāmagiri side of Jeypore tāluk sent round a jack branch, a well-recognised form of the fiery cross, summoning villagers other than Dombus to assemble at a fixed time and place, but this was luckily intercepted by the police. The Agent afterwards discussed the whole question with the chief Naiks of Jeypore and South Naurangpūr. They [184]had no opinion of the deterrent effects of mere imprisonment on the Dombus. ‘You fatten them, and send them back,’ they said, and suggested that a far better plan would be to cut off their right hands. [It is noted, in the Vizagapatam Manual, 1869, that in cases of murder, the Rājah of Jeypore generally had the man’s hands, nose, and ears cut off, but, after all that, he seldom escaped the deceased’s relatives.] They eventually proposed a plan of checking the cattle-thefts, which is now being followed in much of that country. The Bāranaiks, or heads of groups of villages, were each given brands with distinctive letters and numbers, and required to brand the skins of all animals which had died a natural death or been honestly killed; and the possession by Dombus, skin merchants, or others, of unbranded skins is now considered a suspicious circumstance, the burden of explaining which lies upon the possessor. Unless this, or some other way of checking the Dombus’ depredations proves successful, serious danger exists that the rest of the people will take the matter into their own hands and, as the Dombus in the Agency number over 50,000, this would mean real trouble.” It is further recorded57 that the Paidis (Paidi Mālas), who often commit dacoities on the roads, “are connected with the Dombus of the Rāyagada and Gunupur tāluks, who are even worse. These people dacoit houses at night in armed gangs of fifty or more, with their faces blacked to prevent recognition. Terrifying the villagers into staying quiet in their huts, they force their way into the house of some wealthy person (for choice the local Sondi, liquor-seller and sowcar,58 usually the only man worth looting in an agency village, and a shark who gets little pity from his [185]neighbours when forced to disgorge), tie up the men, rape the women, and go off with everything of value. Their favourite method of extracting information regarding concealed property is to sprinkle the houseowner with boiling oil.”

Dommara.—The Dommaras are a tribe of tumblers, athletes, and mountebanks, some of whom wander about the country, while others have settled down as agricultural labourers, or make combs out of the wood of Elæodendron glaucum, Ixora parviflora, Pavetta indica, Ficus bengalensis, etc., which they sell to wholesale merchants. They are, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,59 “a nomad class of acrobats, who, in many respects, recall the gipsies to mind, and raise the suggestion that their name may possibly be connected with the Dōms of Northern India. They speak Telugu, Marāthi, and Hindustani, but not generally Tamil. They are skilful jugglers, and both men and women are very clever tumblers and tight-rope dancers, exhibiting their feats as they travel about the country. Some of them sell date mats and baskets, some trade in pigs, while others, settled in villages, cultivate lands. In social position they rank just above the Pariahs and Mādigas. They profess to be Vaishnavites [and Saivites]. Infant marriage is not practiced. Widow remarriage is freely allowed, and polygamy is common. Their marriage tie is very loose, and their women often practice prostitution. They are a predatory class, great drunkards, and of most dissolute habits. The dead are generally buried, and [on the day of the final death ceremonies] cooked rice is thrown out to be eaten by crows. In the matter of food, they eat all sorts of animals, including pigs, cats, and [186]crows.” When a friend was engaged in making experiments in connection with snake venom, some Dommaras asked for permission to unbury the corpses of snakes and mungooses for the purpose of food.

Ārē Dommara acrobat.

Ārē Dommara acrobat.

The Dommaras are, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, summed up as being buffoons, tumblers, acrobats, and snakecharmers, who travel from place to place, and earn a precarious living by their exhibitions. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Domban, Kalaikūttādi (pole-dancer), and Ārya Kūttādi, are given as synonyms of Dommara. The Kūttādi are summed up, in the Tanjore Manual, as vagabond dancers, actors, pantomimists, and marionette exhibitors, who hold a very low position in the social scale, and always perform in public streets and bazaars.

By Mr. F. S. Mullaly60 the Dommaras are divided into Reddi or Kāpu (i.e., cultivators) and Āray (Marātha). “The women,” he writes, “are proficient in making combs of horn and wood, and implements used by weavers. These they hawk about from place to place, to supplement the profits they derive from their exhibitions of gymnastic feats. In addition to performing conjuring tricks, rope-dancing and the like, the Dommaras hunt, fish, make mats, and rear donkeys and pigs. The head of the tribe is called the Mutli Guru. He is their high priest, and exercises supreme jurisdiction over them both in spiritual and temporal matters. His head-quarters is Chitvēl in the Cuddapah district. The legend regarding the office of the Mutli Guru is as follows. At Chitvēl, or as it was then known Mutli, there once lived a king, who called together a gathering of all the gymnasts among his subjects. Several classes were represented. [187]Pōlērigādu, a Reddi Dommara, so pleased the king that he was presented with a ring, and a royal edict was passed that the wearer of the ring and his descendants should be the head of the Dommara class. The ring then given is said to be the same that is now worn by the head of the tribe at Chitvēl, which bears an inscription in Telugu declaring that the wearer is the high-priest or guru of all the Dommaras. The office is hereditary. The dwellings of the Dommaras are somewhat similar to those of the Koravars and Joghis, made of palmyra leaves plaited into mats with seven strands. These huts, or gudisays, are located on the outskirts of villages, and carried on the backs of donkeys when on the march. Stolen cloths, unless of value, are not as a rule sold, but concealed in the packs of their donkeys, and after a time worn. The Dommaras are addicted to dacoity, robbery, burglary, and thefts. The instrument used by them is unlike those used by other criminal classes: it is of iron, about a foot long, and with a chisel-shaped point. As cattle and sheep lifters they are expert, and they have their regular receivers at most of the cattle fairs throughout the Presidency.”

It is noted, in the Nellore Manual, that the Dommaras “are stated by the Nellore Tahsildar to possess mirāsi rights in some villages; that I take to mean that there is, in some villages, a customary contribution for tumblers and mendicants, which, according to Wilson, was made in Mysore the pretext for a tax named Dombar-lingada-vira-kaniki. This tax, under the name Dombar tafrik, was levied in Venkatagiri in 1801.” In the Madura district, Dommaras are found in some villages formerly owned by zamindars, and they call themselves children of the zamindars, by whom they were probably patronised. [188]

Being a criminal class, the Dommaras have a thief’s language of their own, of which the following are examples:—

  • Bidam vadu, Dommara.
  • Poothi, policeman.
  • Marigam, pig.
  • Goparam, seven.
  • Dāsa-masa, prostitute.
  • Kopparam, salt.
  • Kaljodu, goldsmith.

The Dommaras are said to receive into their community children of other castes, and women of doubtful morals, and to practice the custom of making Basavis (dedicated prostitutes).

The Telugu Dommaras give as their gōtra Salava patchi, the name of a mythological bird. At times of marriage, they substitute a turmeric-dyed string consisting of 101 threads, called bondhu, for the golden tāli or bottu. The marriage ceremonies of the Ārē Dommaras are supervised by an old Basavi woman, and the golden marriage badge is tied round the bride’s neck by a Basavi.

Ārē Dommara acrobat.

Ārē Dommara acrobat.

A Dommara, whom I interviewed at Coimbatore, carried a cotton bag containing a miscellaneous assortment of rubbish used in his capacity as medicine man and snake-charmer, which included a collection of spurious jackal horns (nari kompu), the hairs round which were stained with turmeric. To prove the genuineness thereof, he showed me not only the horn, but also the feet with nails complete, as evidence that the horns were not made from the nails. Being charged with manufacturing the horns, he swore, by placing his hand on the head of a child who accompanied him, that he was not deceiving me. The largest of the horns in his bag, he gravely informed me, was from a jackal which he dug out of its hole on the last new moon night. The possessors of such horns, he assured me, do not go out with the [189]pack, and rarely leave their holes except to feed on dew, field rats, etc. These spurious horns are regarded as a talisman, and it is believed that he who owns one can command the realisation of every wish. (See Kuruvikkāran.) An iron ring, which the Dommara was wearing on his wrist, was used as a cure for hernia, being heated and applied as a branding agent over the inguinal region. Lamp oil is then rubbed over the burn, and a secret medicine, mixed with fowl’s egg, administered. The ring was, he said, an ancestral heir-loom, and as such highly prized. To cure rheumatism in the big joints, he resorted to an ingenious form of dry cupping. A small incision is made with a piece of broken glass over the affected part, and the skin damped with water. The distal end of a cow’s horn, of which the tip has been removed, and plugged with wax, does duty for the cup. A hole is pierced through the wax with an iron needle, and, the horn being placed over the seat of disease, the air is withdrawn from it by suction with the mouth, and the hole in the wax stopped up. As the air is removed from the cavity of the horn, the skin rises up within it. To remove the horn, it is only necessary to readmit air by once more boring a hole through the wax. In a bad case, as many as three horns may be applied to the affected part. The Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford possesses dry-cupping apparatus, made of cow horn, from Mirzapur in Northern India and from Natal, and of antelope horn from an unrecorded locality in India. In cases of scorpion sting the Dommara rubbed up patent boluses with human milk or milk of the milk-hedge plant (Euphorbia Tirucalli), and applied them to the part. For chest pains he prescribed red ochre, and for infantile diseases myrabolam (Terminalia) fruits mixed with water. In cases of [190]snake-bite, a black stone, said to be made of various drugs mixed together, and burnt, is placed over the seat of the bite, and will, it was stated, drop off of its own accord as soon as it has absorbed all the poison. It is then put into milk or water to extract the poison, and the fluid is thrown away as being dangerous to life if swallowed. As a remedy for the bite of a mad dog, a plant, which is kept a secret, is mixed with the milk of a white goat, pepper, garlic, and other ingredients, and administered internally. A single dose is said to effect a cure.

At Tarikēri in Mysore, a wandering troupe of Ārē (Marātha) Dommaras performed before me. The women were decorated with jewels and flowers, and carried bells on their ankles. The men had a row of bells attached all round the lower edge of their short drawers. Before the performance commenced, a Pillayar (Ganēsa) was made with cowdung, and saluted. The entertainment took place in the open air amid the beating of drums, whistling, singing, and dialogue. The jests and antics of the equivalent of the circus clown were a source of much joy to the throng of villagers who collected to witness the tamāsha (spectacle). One of the principal performers, in the waits between his turns, played the drum, or took a suck at a hooka (tobacco pipe) which was passed round among the members of the troupe. The entertainment, in which both men and women took part, consisted of various acrobatic feats, turning summersaults and catherine wheels, stilt-walking, and clever feats on the tight rope. Finally a man, climbing up a lofty bamboo pole, spun himself rapidly round and round on the top of it by means of a socket in an iron plate tied to his loin cloth, into which a spike in the pole fitted. [191]

Dondia.—A title of Gaudo.

Donga Dāsari.—Dāsari (servant of the god), Mr. Francis writes,61 “in the strict sense of the word, is a religious mendicant of the Vaishnavite sect, who has formally devoted himself to an existence as such, and been formally included in the mendicant brotherhood by being branded on the shoulders with Vaishnavite symbols.” Far different are the Donga, or thief Dāsaris, who receive their name from the fact that “the men and women disguise themselves as Dāsaris, with perpendicular Vaishnava marks on their foreheads, and, carrying a lamp (Garuda kambum), a gong of bell-metal, a small drum called jagata, and a tuft of peacock feathers, go begging in the villages, and are at times treated with the sumptuous meals, including cakes offered to them as the disciples of Venkatēsvarlu.62

In an interesting article on the Donga Dāsaris, Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri writes as follows.63 “Quite opposed to the gudi (temple) Dāsaris are Donga Dāsaris. They are the most dreaded of the criminal classes in the Bellary district. In the early years of their settlement in Bellary, these Donga Dāsaris were said to have practiced kidnapping boys and girls of other castes to strengthen their number, and even now, as the practice stands, any person can become a Donga Dāsari though very few would like to become one. But, for all that, the chief castes who furnished members to this brotherhood of robbery were the scum of the Lingayats and the Kabbēras. Of course, none of the respectable members of these castes would join them, and only those who were excommunicated found a ready home among these [192]Donga Dāsaris. Sometimes Muhammadan budmāshes (bad-māsh, evil means of livelihood) and the worst characters from other castes, also become Donga Dāsaris. The way an alien is made a Donga Dāsari is as follows. The regular Donga Dāsaris take the party who wants to enter their brotherhood to the side of a river, make him bathe in oil, give him a new cloth, hold a council, and give a feast. They burn a twig of the sami (Prosopis spicigera) or margosa (Melia Azadirachta) tree, and slightly burn the tongue of the party who has joined them. This is the way of purification and acceptance of every new member, who, soon after the tongue-burning ceremony, is given a seat in the general company, and made to partake of the common feast. The Donga Dāsaris talk both Telugu and Kanarese. They have only two bedagas or family names, called Sunna Akki (thin rice) and Ghantelavāru (men of the bell). As the latter is a family name of the Kabbēras, it is an evidence that members of the latter community have joined the Donga Dāsaris. Even now Donga Dāsaris intermarry with Kabbēras, i.e., they accept any girl from a Kabbēra family in marriage to one of their sons, but do not give one of their daughters in marriage to a Kabbēra boy. Hanumān is their chief god. Venkatēsa, an incarnation of Vishnu, is also worshipped by many. But, in every one of their villages, they have a temple dedicated to their village goddess Huligavva or Ellamma, and it is only before these goddesses that they sacrifice sheep or fowls. Vows are undertaken for these village goddesses when children fall ill. In addition to this, these Donga Dāsaris are notorious for taking vows before starting on a thieving expedition, and the way these ceremonies are gone through is as follows. The gang, before starting on a [193]thieving expedition, proceed to a jungle near their village in the early part of the night, worship their favourite goddesses Huligavva or Ellamma, and sacrifice a sheep or fowl before her. They place one of their turbans on the head of the sheep or fowl that was sacrificed, as soon as the head falls on the ground. If the turban turns to the right, it is considered a good sign, the goddess having permitted them to proceed on the expedition; if to the left, they return home that night. Hanumān is also consulted in such expeditions, and the way in which it is done is as follows. They go to a Hanumān temple which is near their village, and, after worshipping him, garland him with a wreath of flowers. The garland hangs on both sides of the neck. If any flowers on the right side drop down first, it is considered as a permission granted by the god to start on plundering expeditions, and, conversely, these expeditions are never undertaken if any flowers happen to drop from the left side first. The Donga Dāsaris start on their thieving raids with their whole family, wife and children following. They are the great experts in house-breaking and theft, and children are taught thieving by their mothers when they are five or six years old. The mother takes her boy or girl to the nearest market, and shows the child some cloth or vessel, and asks it to bring it away. When it fails, it is thrashed, and, when stroke upon stroke falls upon its back, the only reply it is taught to give is that it knows nothing. This is considered to be the reply which the child, when it grows up to be a man or woman, has to give to the police authorities when it is caught in some crime and thrashed by them to confess. Whenever the Donga Dāsaris are caught by the police, they give false names and false castes. They have a cipher language among themselves. The Donga [194]Dāsari woman is very loose, but, if she go astray with a Brāhman, Lingayat, Kabbēra, Kuruba, Upparava, or Rājput, her tongue is burnt, and she is taken back into the community. Widow remarriage freely prevails. They avoid eating beef and pork, but have no objection to other kinds of flesh.”

Donga Oddē.—The name for Oddēs who practice thieving as a profession.

Dongayato.—A sub-division of Gaudo.

Dongrudiya.—A sub-division of Māli.

Dora.—Dora, meaning lord, has been returned as the title of numerous classes, which include Bōya, Ekāri, Jātāpu, Konda Dora, Mutrācha, Patra, Telaga, Velama, and Yānāti. The hill Kois or Koyis of the Godāvari district are known as Koi Dora or Doralu (lords). I am told that, in some parts of the Telugu country, if one hears a native referred to as Dora, he will generally turn out to be a Velama; and that there is the following gradation in the social scale:—

  • Velama Dora = Velama Esquire.
  • Kamma Vāru = Mr. Kamma.
  • Kapu = Plain Kāpu, without an honorific suffix.

In Southern India, Dorai or Durai (Master) is the equivalent of the northern Sāhib, and Dorasāni (Mistress) of Memsāhib.

It is noted by Sir A. J. Arbuthnot64 that “the appellation by which Sir Thomas Munro was most commonly known in the Ceded districts was that of Colonel Dora. And to this day it is considered a sufficient answer to enquiries regarding the reason for any Revenue Rule, that it was laid down by the Colonel Dora.” [195]

Dorabidda, or children of chiefs, is the name by which Bōyas, who claim to be descended from Poligars (feudal chiefs) call themselves.

Drāvida.—A sub-division of Kamsala. South Indian Brāhmans are called Drāvidas.

Dūbaduba.—Recorded, at times of census, as an Oriya form of Budubudukala.

Duddu (money).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Dūdēkula.—The Dūdēkulas are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart65 as “Muhammadans who have taken to the trade of cotton-cleaning (dūde, cotton; ekula, to clean). By the Tamils they are called Panjāri or Panjukotti, which have the same significance. Though Muhammadans, they have adopted or retained many of the customs of the Hindus around them, tying a tāli to the bride at marriage, being very ignorant of the Muhammadan religion, and even joining in Hindu worship as far as allowable. Circumcision is, however, invariable, and they are much given to the worship of Muhammadan saints. In dress they resemble the Hindus, and often shave off the beard, but do not leave a single lock of hair upon the head, as most Hindus do. Over three hundred Hindus have returned their caste as either Dūdēkula or Panjāri, but these are probably members of other castes, who call themselves Dūdēkula as they are engaged in cotton-cleaning.”

The Dūdēkulas are described by Mr. W. Francis66 as “a Muhammadan caste of cotton-cleaners, and rope and tape-makers. They are either converts to Islām, or the progeny of unions between Musalmans and the women of the country. Consequently they generally speak the Dravidian languages—either Canarese or Telugu—but [196]some of them speak Hindustāni also. Their customs are a mixture of those of the Musalmans and the Hindus. Inheritance is apparently according to Muhammadan law. They pray in mosques, and circumcise their boys, and yet some of them observe the Hindu festivals. They worship their tools at Bakrid and not at the Dasara; they raise the azān or Muhammadan call to prayers at sunset, and they pray at the tombs of Musalman saints.” In the Vizagapatam district, the Dūdēkulas are described as beating cotton, and blowing horns.

For the following note on the Dūdēkulas of the Ceded Districts, I am indebted to Mr. Haji Khaja Hussain. They claim Bava Faqrud-dīn Pīr of Penukonda in the Anantapur district as their patron saint. Large numbers of Muhammadans, including Dūdēkulas, collect at the annual festival (mēla) at his shrine, and offer their homage in the shape of a fatiha. This, meaning opener, is the name of the first chapter of the Korān, which is repeated when prayers are offered for the souls of the departed. For this ceremony a pilau, made of flesh, rice and ghī (clarified butter) is prepared, and the Khāzi repeats the chapter, and offers the food to the soul of the deceased saint or relation.

The story of Faqrud-dīn Pīr is as follows. He was born in A.H. 564 (about A.D. 1122), and was King of Seistan in Persia. One day, while he was administering justice, a merchant brought some horses before him for sale. His attention was diverted, and he became for a time absorbed in contemplation of the beauty of one of the horses. Awakening from his reverie, he blamed himself for allowing his thoughts to wander when he was engaged in the most sacred of his duties as a king. He summoned a meeting of all the learned moulvis in his kingdom, and enquired of them what was the penalty [197]for his conduct. They unanimously decreed that he should abdicate. Accordingly he placed his brother on the throne, and, becoming a dervish, came to India, and wandered about in the jungles. Eventually he arrived at Trichinopoly, and there met the celebrated saint Tabri-Ālam, whose disciple he became. After his admission into holy orders, he was told to travel about, and plant his miswāk wherever he halted, and regard the place where it sprouted as his permanent residence. The miswāk, or tooth-brush, is a piece of the root of the pīlū tree (Salvadora persica), which is used by Muhammadans, and especially Fakirs, for cleaning the teeth. When Bava Faqrud-dīn arrived at Penukonda hill, he, as usual, planted the miswāk, which sprouted. He accordingly decided to make this spot his permanent abode. But there was close by an important Hindu temple, and the idea of a Muhammadan settling close to it enraged the Hindus, who asked him to leave. He not only refused to do so, but allowed his disciples, of whom a number had collected, to slaughter a sacred bull belonging to the temple. The Hindus accordingly decided to kill Faqrud-dīn and his disciples. The Rāja collected an armed force, and demanded the restoration of the bull. Faqrud-dīn ordered one of his disciples to bring before him the skin, head, feet and tail of the animal, which had been preserved. Striking the skin with his staff, he exclaimed “Rise, Oh! bull, at the command of God.” The animal immediately rose in a complete state of restoration, and would not leave the presence of his preserver. Alarmed at this miracle, the Hindus brandished their swords and spears, and were about to fall on the Muhammadans, when a dust-storm arose and blinded them. In their confusion, they began to slay each other, and left the spot in dismay. The [198]Rāja then resolved to kill the Muhammadans by poisoning them. He prepared some cakes mixed with poison, and sent them to Faqrud-dīn for distribution among his disciples. The saint, though he knew that the cakes were poisoned, partook thereof of himself, as also did his disciples, without any evil effect. A few days afterwards, the Rāja was attacked with colic, and his case was given up by the court physicians as hopeless. As a last resort, he was taken before Faqrud-dīn, who offered him one of the poisoned cakes, which cured him. Falling at his feet, the Rāja begged for pardon, and offered the village of Penukonda to Faqrud-dīn as a jaghīr (annuity). This offer was declined, and the saint asked that the temple should be converted into a mosque. The Rāja granted this request, and it is said that large numbers of Hindus embraced the Muhammadan religion, and were the ancestors of the Dūdēkulas.

The Dūdēkulas, like the Hindus, like to possess some visible symbol for worship, and they enrol great personages who have died among the number of those at whose graves they worship. So essential is this grave worship that, if a place is without one, a grave is erected in the name of some saint. Such a thing has happened in recent times in Banganapalle. A Fakir, named Allā Bakhsh, died at Kurnool. A Dūdēkula of the Banganapalle State visited his grave, took away a lump of earth from the ground near it, and buried it in a village ten miles from Banganapalle. A shrine was erected over it in the name of the saint, and has become very famous for the miracles which are performed at it. An annual festival is held, which is attended by large numbers of Muhammadans and Dūdēkulas.

Some Dūdēkulas have names which, though at first sight they seem to be Hindu, are really Muhammadan. [199]For example, Kambannah is a corruption of Kamal Sahib, and Sakali, which in Telugu means a washerman, seems to be an altered form of Sheik Āli. Though Dūdēkulas say that they are Muhammadans of the Sheik sect, the name Sheik is only occasionally used as a prefix, e.g., Sheik Hussain or Sheik Āli. Names of males are Hussain Sa, Fakir Sa, and Khāsim Sa. Sa is an abbreviated form of Sahib. One old Dūdēkula stated that the title Sahib was intended for pucka (genuine) Muhammadans, and that the Dūdēkulas could not lay claim to the title in its entirety. Instead of Sa, Bhai, meaning brother, is sometimes used as a suffix to the name, e.g., Ghudu Bhai. Ghudu, meaning ash-heap, is an opprobrious name given to children of those whose offspring have died young, in the hope of securing long life to them. The child is taken, immediately after birth, to an ash-heap, where some of the ashes are sprinkled over it. Some Dūdēkulas adopt the Hindu termination appa (father), anna (brother), or gadu, e.g., Pullanna, Nāganna, Yerkalappa, Hussaingadu, Hussainappa. Typical names of females are Roshammā, Jamalammā, and Madarammā. They have dropped the title Bibi or Bi, and adopted the Hindu title ammā (mother).

The ceremony of naming a child is generally performed on the sixth day after its birth. The choice of a name is entrusted to an elderly female member of the family. In some cases, the name of a deceased ancestor who lived to an advanced age is taken. If a child dies prematurely, there is a superstitious prejudice against its name, which is avoided by the family. Very frequently a father and son, and sometimes two or three brothers, have the same name. In such a case prefixes are added to their names as a means of distinguishing them, e.g., Pedda (big), Nadpi (middle), Chinna (little). Sometimes [200]two names are assumed by an individual, one a Hindu name for every day use, the other Muhammadan for ceremonial occasions.

The Dūdēkulas depend for the performance of their ceremonies largely on the Khāzi, by whom even the killing of a fowl for domestic purposes has to be carried out. The Dūdēkula, like other Muhammadans, is averse to taking animal life without due religious rites, and the zabh, or killing of an animal for food, is an important matter. One who is about to do so should first make vazu (ablution), by cleaning his teeth and washing his mouth, hands, face, forearms, head and feet. He should then face the west, and an assistant holds the animal to be slaughtered upside down, and facing west. Water is poured into its mouth, and the words Bismillā hi Allā hu Akbar uttered. The operator then cuts the throat, taking care that the jugular veins are divided. In remote villages, where a Khāzi is not available, the Dūdēkulas keep a sacrificial knife, which has been sanctified by the Khāzi repeating over it the same words from the Korān as are used when an animal is slaughtered.

The first words which a Muhammadan child should hear are those of the azān, or call to prayer, which are uttered in its ear immediately after birth. This ceremony is observed by those Dūdēkulas who live in towns or big villages, or can afford the services of a Khāzi. It is noted by Mr. Francis that the Dūdēkulas raise the azān at sunset. A few, who have been through a course of religious instruction at a Madrasa (school), may be able to do this. A Muhammadan is supposed to raise the azān five times daily, viz., before sunrise, between noon and 3 P.M., between 4 and 6 P.M., at sunset, and between 8 P.M. and midnight. [201]

At the naming of an infant on the sixth day, the Dūdēkulas do not, like other Muhammadans, perform the aguigā ceremony, which consists of shaving the child’s head, and sacrificing a he-goat. Children are circumcised before the tenth year. On such occasions the Muhammadans generally invite their friends, and distribute sweets and pān-supāri (betel leaf and areca nuts). The Dūdēkulas simply send for a barber, Hindu or Muhammadan, who performs the operation in the presence of a Khāzi, if one happens to be available. When a girl reaches puberty, the Dūdēkulas invite their friends to a feast. Other Muhammadans, on the contrary, keep the fact a secret.

At the betrothal ceremony, when sweets and pān-supāri are taken by the future bridegroom and his party to the house of the girl whom he seeks in marriage, the female members of both families, and the girl herself, are present. This fact shows the absence of the Muhammadan gōsha system among Dūdēkulas. A Muhammadan wedding lasts over five or six days, whereas the ceremonies are, among the Dūdēkulas, completed within twenty-four hours. On the night preceding the nikka day, a pilau is prepared, and a feast is held at the bridegroom’s house. On the following morning, when it is still dark, the bridegroom, accompanied by his relations, starts on horseback in procession, with beating of drums and letting off of fireworks. The procession arrives at the bride’s house before sunrise. The Khāzi is sent for, and the mahr is settled. This is a nominal gift settled on the wife before marriage by the bridegroom. On the death of a husband, a widow has priority of claim on his property to the promised amount of the mahr. Two male witnesses are sent to the bride, to obtain her assent to the union, and to the amount of [202]the mahr. The Khāzi, being an orthodox Muhammadan, treats the Dūdēkula bride as strictly gōsha for the time being, and, therefore, selects two of her near relatives as witnesses. The lutcha (marriage badge), consisting of a single or double string of beads, is brought in a cup filled with sandal paste.

The Khāzi chants the marriage service, and sends the lutcha in to the bride with his blessing. It is tied round her neck by the female relations of the bridegroom, and the marriage rites are over.

The usual Muhammadan form of greeting among Muhammadans is the familiar “Peace be with you.” “And with you be peace.” When a Dūdēkula greets a Muhammadan, he simply bows, and, with members of his own community, uses a Telugu form of salutation, e.g., nīku mokkutāmu.

The Dūdēkulas, male and female, dress exactly like Hindus, but, as a rule, the men do not shave their beard.

Disputes, and social questions affecting the community, are settled by a Khāzi.

With the increase in cotton mills, and the decline of the indigenous hand-weaving industry, the demand for cotton-cleaning labour has diminished, and some Dūdēkulas have, of necessity, taken to agriculture. Land-owners are very scarce among them, but some are abkāri (liquor) contractors, village schoolmasters, and quack doctors. In the Ceded Districts, the cotton-cleaning industry is solely confined to the Dūdēkulas.

The synonyms of Dūdēkula, Ladaf and Nūrbāsh, recorded at times of census, are corruptions of Nad-dāf (a cotton dresser) and Nūrbāf (weaving).

Dūdi.—A title of Kurumos, who officiate as priests at the temples of village deities. [203]

Dūdi (cotton) Balija.—A name for traders in cotton in the Telugu country, and an occupational sub-division of Kōmati.

Durga (fort).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Dūtan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, as a synonym of Āri.

Dyavana (tortoise).—An exogamous sept of Mogēr.

1 Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life.

2 The fruits of several species of Momordica are eaten by Natives.

3 Sidney Low. A Vision of India, 1906.

4 Manual of the North Arcot district.

5 Gazetteer of the Anantapur district.

6 Manual of the Tanjore district.

7 Calcutta Review, 1905.

8 Madras Mail, 1901.

9 John Company, a corruption of Company Jehān, a title of the English East India Company.

10 Manual of the South Canara district.

11 South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. II, part 3, p. 259.

12 Journey from Madras through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, 1807.

13 Elliott. History of India.

14 Brahmanism and Hinduism.

15 Evolution of Hinduism, 1903.

16 J. T. Wheeler. Madras in the Olden Time.

17 Notes from a Diary, 1881—86.

18 J. Michaud. Histoire des Progrès et de la Chûlte de l’Empire de Mysore, sons les Règnes d’Hyder-Aly et Tippoo Saib.

19 An Indian Olio.

20 Manual of the Bellary district.

21 Cyclopædia of India.

22 Journ. Anth. Soc., Bombay, Vol. II.

23 Journ. Anth. Soc., Bombay, 1891.

24 Manual of the North Arcot district.

25 Gazetteer of the Godāvari district.

26 See also collection of decisions on the law of succession, maintenance, etc., applicable to dancing-girls and their issues. C. Ramachendrier, Madras, 1892.

27 Indian Law Reports, Madras Series, XXIII, 1900.

28 Ibid., Vol. V, 1869–70.

29 Ibid., Vol. I, 1876–78.

30 Ibid., Vol. VI, 1883.

31 Ibid., Vol. I, 1876–78.

32 Ibid., Vol. I, 1876–78.

33 Ibid., Vol. XIX, 1896.

34 Ibid., Vol. XIII, 1890.

35 Ibid., Vol. XIV, 1891.

36 Ibid., Vol. XV, 1892.

37 Ganga Bai v. Anant. 13 Bom., 690.

38 Hindu Law and Usage.

39 Macnaghten, Digest.

40 Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897.

41 J. S. F. Mackenzie. Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

42 Madras Census Report, 1891; Manual of the South Canara district.

43 Breeks. Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilgiris.

44 Section III, Inhabitants. Madras Government Press, 1907.

45 Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, XV, Part I, 1883.

46 Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

47 Tropical Diseases.

48 Madras Census Report, 1901.

49 Rev. H. Jensen. Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897.

50 Madras Census Report, 1891.

51 G. Bühler on the Indian Sect of the Jainas, 1903.

52 Madras Census Report, 1891.

53 Man., 1901.

54 Jeypore, Breklum, 1901.

55 Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

56 Man., 1902.

57 Ibid.

58 Money-lender.

59 Madras Census Report, 1891; Manual of the North Arcot district.

60 Notes on the Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

61 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

62 M. Paupa Rao Naidu. History of Railway Thieves. 3rd Edition, 1904.

63 Calcutta Review, 1905.

64 Memoir of Sir Thomas Munro.

65 Manual of the North Arcot district; Madras Census Report, 1891.

66 Madras Census Report, 1901.


Eddulu (bulls).—See Yeddulu.

Ediannāya (hornet’s nest).—An exogamous sept of Bant.

Egadāvan.—Recorded, at times of census, as an exogamous sept of Anappans, who are Canarese cattle-grazers settled in the Tamil country. Possibly it is a corruption of Heggade, a title among Kurubas.

Ekākshara.—A sub-division of Sātāni. The name is derived from Ekākshara, meaning one syllable, i.e., the mystic syllable Ōm.

Ēkāri.—This caste is summed up in the Madras Census Report, 1901, under the names Ēkāri, Ēkali, Yākari, and Yākarlu, as a sub-caste of Mutrācha. Mr. H. A. Stuart writes1 that “Ekaris or Yākarlu are a class of cultivators and village watchmen, found chiefly in the northern taluks of North Arcot, and in the adjoining district of Cuddapah. It is very doubtful whether the Ekaris and Mutrāchas are identical castes. The census statistics are, I think, sufficient to throw grave doubt on this view. Neither name, for instance, appears as a sub-division of the other, although this would certainly [204]be the case if they were synonymous. Nor is there any similarity in the sub-divisions that are given. They are said, in the Nellore Manual, to be hunters and mercenaries, and in Cuddapah, where they are known to some as Bōyas and Kirātas, they are classed as a forest tribe. It is clear, however, that they enjoyed some authority, for several rose to be poligars. Thus the poligars of Kallūr, Tumba, Pulicherla, Bangāri and Gudipāti are of this caste, and many of its members are village policemen. They do not wear the sacred thread, but employ Brāhmans as their priests. Their ceremonies differ very little from those of the Kāpus. They are flesh-eaters, and their titles are Naidu and Dora. The caste possesses some interest as being that which had, in 1891, the highest proportion of widowed among females between the ages of 15 and 39. Little is known of the caste history. Some assert that they were formerly Hindu cotton cleaners, and that their name is derived from the verb yekuta, to clean cotton. They returned 74 sub-divisions, of which the most important seem to be Dodda (big) and Pala.”

There is neither intermarriage, nor free interdining between Ēkāris and Mutrāchas. By some, Kampin, and Nagiripilla kāyalu, and by others Kammi and Yerrai were given as sub-divisions.

One of the recognised names of washermen in Tamil is Egāli or Ekāli.

Elakayan.—A sub-division of Nāyar. It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “its hereditary occupation is to get plantain leaves for the use of the Cherukunnu temple, where travellers are fed daily by the Chirakkal Rāja.”

Elayad.—For the following note on the Elayads or Ilayatus I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. [205]Ilayatu literally means younger, and the name is employed to denote a caste, which is supposed to be the last among the numerous sub-divisions of Malabar Brāhmans. The caste-men make use of two titles, Ilayatu and Nambiyatiri, the latter of which has the same origin as Nambūtiri, meaning a person worthy of worship. Women are generally known as Ilayammas, and, in some parts of North Travancore, also Kunjammas. By the caste-men themselves the women are called Akattulavar, or those inside, in the same way as Nambūtiri women. Children are called Kunjunnis. The Ilayatus exact from the Nāyars the name of Ilayachchan, or little father.

According to the Jatinirnaya, a work ascribed to Parasurāma, the Ilayatus were once Brāhmans of undiminished purity, but became degraded owing to the priestly service which was performed for a Nāyar servant attached to one of their households. Two members of the house of Azhvāncheri Tamprākkal were brothers. The younger resolved to go to a foreign country, and could get no other Nāyar servant than one who was obliged to perform his mother’s anniversary ceremony on the way. He promised to act as the priest on this occasion, and is even believed to have eaten the food prepared by the Nāyar. When the matter became known to his elder brother, he assembled all the Vaidik Brāhmans, and the younger brother was excommunicated. This tradition, like the majority of Malabar traditions, has to be accepted with reserve. The Ilayatus assert that, until interdicted by Rāma Iyen Dalawa in revenge for a supposed dishonour to him, they had the privilege of commensality with Nambūtiri Brāhmans; but Rāma Iyen’s authority, large as it was, did not extend to Cochin and British Malabar, where too the Ilayatus appear to [206]labour under the same difficulty. Those who encouraged the higher classes of Nāyars with ritualistic functions became Onnam Parisha or the first party of Ilayatus, the remainder being grouped in another class known as Randām or second party. The latter are lower in the social scale than the former. The two sections do not intermarry, and interdining is restricted to the male sex.

The Ilayatus generally have a dejected appearance, and their poverty is proverbial. Most of them earn only a scanty living by their traditional occupation, and yet it is notorious that other walks of life have absolutely no attraction for them. Not only is English education not welcomed, but even the study of Sanskrit finds only a few steadfast votaries. The Ilayatus are, however, a naturally clever, and intelligent community, and, under favourable conditions, are found to take a more prominent place in society.

The house of an Ilayatu is, like that of a Nambūtiri, called illam. It is generally large, being the gift of some pious Nāyar. Every Ilayatu house possesses a serpent grove, where periodical offerings are made. The dress and ornaments of the Ilayatus are exactly like those of the Nambūtiris. The wedding ornament is called kettu-tāli. Children wear a ring tied to a thread round the neck from the moment of the first feeding ceremony. The Ilayatus are strict vegetarians, and, though in some of their temples they have to make offerings of liquor to the deity, they are strictly forbidden by caste rules from partaking thereof.

The chief occupation of the Ilayatus is the priesthood of the Nāyars. The first division perform this service only for the Ilakkar or highest class of Nāyars, while the second division do not decline to be the priests of any section of that community. In performing such services, [207]the Ilayatus recite various liturgic texts, but hardly any Vēdic hymns. The Ilayatus have also been the recognised priests in several North Travancore temples, the chief of which are the Kainikkara Bhagavata shrine, the Payappara Sāsta shrine, and the Parēkkāvu Siva temple at Kūttāttukulam. Ilayatus are the priests in most of the snake groves of Malabar, that at Mannārsalay commanding the greatest popularity and respect.

Ilayatus are, in all matters of caste such as Smarta-vicharam, or enquiry into charges of adultery, etc., governed by the Nambūtiris, who are assisted by Vaidiks belonging to the caste itself. It is the latter who are the regular priests of the Ilayatus, and, though ignorant of the Vēdas, they seem to possess considerable knowledge of the priestly functions as carried out in Malabar. Nambūtiris are sometimes invited to perform Isvarasēva, Sarpabali, and other religious rites. Purification rites are performed by the caste priests only, and no Nambūtiri is called on to assist. Brāhmans do not cook food in the houses of Ilayatus.

The Ilayatus are divided mostly into two septs or gōtras, called Visvāmitra and Bhāradvāja. The marriage of girls is performed before or after puberty, between the twelfth and eighteenth years. No bride-price is paid, but a sum of not less than Rs. 140 has to be paid to the bridegroom. This is owing to the fact that, in an Ilayatu family, as among the Nambūtiris, only the eldest son can lead a married life. All male members of a family, except the eldest, take to themselves some Nāyar or Ambalavāsi woman. Widows do not remove their tuft of hair on the death of their husband, but throw their marriage ornament on to the funeral pyre, probably as a symbol of the performance of sati. The Ilayatus resemble the Nambūtiris in all questions of inheritance. [208]

The Ilayatus do not omit any of the sixteen religious ceremonies of the Brāhmans. The rules of name given are that the eldest son should be named after the paternal grandfather, the second after the maternal grandfather, and the third after the father. A parallel rule obtains in giving names to daughters.

The Ilayatus belong in the main to the white and black branches of the Yajurvēda, and observe the sūtras of Bodhayana and Asvalayana. They recite only twenty-four Gayatri hymns, thrice a day. Women are believed to be polluted for ninety days after childbirth.

It is noted in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that the Elayads are “their own priests, and for this reason, and from the fact that Nāyars perform srādhas (memorial service) in the houses of Elayads, the Nambūdris do not cook or take meals in their houses, nor do they, Kshatriyas or Nampidis, take water from Elayads. In former times, the Elayads used to take their meals in Nāyar houses during the performance of the srādha ceremony of the Nāyars, as Brāhmans generally do on such ceremonial occasions amongst themselves, but they now decline to do it, except in a few wealthy and influential families. Mūthads and Elayads wear the sacred thread. Though in many respects the Elayads are more Brāhmanical than the Mūthads, the majority of the Ambalavāsi castes do not take the food cooked or touched by the Elayads. There are some temples, in which they officiate as chief priests. The Mūthad and Elayad females are gōsha. They both practice polygamy, and perform Sarvaswadānam marriages like the Nambūdris.”

Ella (boundary).—An exogamous sept of Mutrācha.

Elugoti (assembly).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga. [209]

Elugu (bear).—An exogamous sept of Yānādi.

Eluttacchan.—Eluttacchan or Ezhuttacchan, meaning teacher or master of learning, is the name for educated Kadupattans of Malabar employed as schoolmasters.

Emān.—A corruption of Yajamānan, lord, recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a title of Nāyar.

Embrāntiri.—Embrāntiri or Embrān is “a Malayalam name for Tulu Brāhmans settled in Malabar. They speak both Tulu and Malayalam. Some of them call themselves Nambūdris, but they never intermarry with that class.”2 By Wigram they are defined3 as “a class of sacrificing Brāhmans, chiefly Tulu, who officiate at Sūdra ceremonies.” It is a name for the Tulu Shivalli Brāhmans.

Emmē (buffalo).—See Yemmē.

Ena Korava.See Korava.

Enādi.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a name for Shānāns, derived from Enādi Nayanār, a Saivite saint. It also means Ambattan, or barber.” The word denotes a chief, barber, or minister.

Enangan.—Enangan or Inangan is defined by Mr. K. Kannan Nayar4 as “a member of an Inangu, this being a community of a number of tarwads, the members of which may interdine or intermarry, and are bound to assist one another, if required, in the performance of certain social and religious rites.” It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that “an Enangan or Inangan is a man of the same caste and sub-division or marriage groups. It is usually translated kinsman, but is at once wider and narrower in its connotation. My [210]Enangans are all who can marry the same people that I can. An Enangatti is a female member of an Enangan’s family.”

Ēnēti.—Said to be mendicants, who beg from Gamallas. (See Yānāti.)

Entamara.See Yānāti.

Era.—Era Cheruman, or Erālan, is a sub-division of Cheruman.

Erādi.—Erādi has been defined5 as meaning “a cow-herd. A sub-division of the Nāyar caste, which formerly ruled in what is now the Ernād tāluk” of Malabar. In the Malabar Manual, Ernād is said to be derived from Erādu, the bullock country. Erādi denotes, according to the Census Report, 1891, “a settlement in Ernād. The caste of Sāmantas, to which the Zamorin of Calicut belongs.”

Eravallar.—The Eravallars are a small forest tribe inhabiting the Coimbatore district and Malabar. For the following note on the Eravallars of Cochin, I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer.6

Eravallars are a wild tribe of inoffensive hill-men found in the forests of the Cochin State, especially in the Chittūr tāluk. They are also called Villu Vēdans (hunters using bows). Their language is Tamil, though some speak Malayālam. In addressing the elderly members of the caste, they use the titles Muthan (elder) and Pattan (grandfather). Names in use for males are Kannan (Krishna), Otukan, Kothandan, Kecharan, and Attukaran, while females are called Kanni, Keyi, Kaikayi, Otuka, and Rāmayi. These Hindu divine names are recent innovations after the names of members of [211]the higher castes, with whom they frequently come in contact.

The Eravallars have no knowledge of the origin of their caste. They appear to be a rude and primitive people, like the other jungle tribes of the State, but are somewhat improving their status under their masters. Their habits are less migratory than those of the Malayars and Kādars. They live in villages called pathis, situated in the forests. Their huts are similar to those of the Malayars and Kādars. They propitiate their sylvan deities before the construction of their huts, and also before their occupation. Some days are believed to be lucky, as Mondays for sowing and weddings, Wednesdays for building, and Fridays for reaping.

Eravallars do not live as small independent communities, but are mostly attached to farmers, under whom they work for a daily wage of two edangazhis and a half of paddy (unhusked rice). The women also work for the same wage, but never agree to serve in a state of bondage. During the festival kathira in the village temple of their landlords, when sheaves of corn are brought, every male member gets from his landlord two veshtis (a cloth with a coloured border 3 yards in length), and every woman a potava (coloured cloth 8 yards in length). During the Ōnam and Vishu festivals, one para of paddy, two cocoanuts, a small quantity of gingelly (Sesamum) and cocoanut oil are also given. The landlords partly defray their marriage and funeral expenses by a grant of a few paras of paddy, some salt and chillies. Sometimes they agree to work for twenty valloms (a large corn measure) a year. To improve their condition, they borrow money from their landlords, and purchase a bullock or buffalo or two, to cultivate a plot of land, after clearing a portion of the forest belonging [212]to their master. They raise some crops, and make some saving to pay off the debt. Should they be so unfortunate as to fail in the undertaking, they willingly mortgage themselves to their master, or to some other, for the wages above mentioned, and wait for some favourable opportunity to pay off the debt. Women never surrender themselves to work in a state of bondage, but are independent day-labourers. The Eravallars are, as certified by their masters, always truthful, honest, faithful and god-fearing, and never, like the Pulayas of the northern parts of the State, ungratefully run away from their masters.

A girl, when she comes of age, is lodged in a separate hut (muttuchāla) erected at a distance of a furlong from the main hut. Only a few girl friends are allowed to be in company with her during the period of her seclusion, which is generally seven days, during which food is served to her at a distance, when she comes to take it. No grown-up member approaches her, for fear of pollution. She bathes on the morning of the seventh day, and is then allowed to enter the hut. The day is one of festivity to her friends and relations. If a girl is married before she attains puberty, her husband contributes something for the expenses of the ceremony. Should a woman cohabit with a man before marriage and become pregnant, she used, in former times, to be put to death, but is now turned out of caste. Instances of the kind are, they say, extremely rare.

An Eravallan who wishes to see his son married visits the parents of a girl with his brother-in-law and a few relatives, who make the proposal. If the parents agree, the wedding day is fixed, and all the preliminary arrangements are made at the hut of the bride, where the relatives assembled are treated to a dinner. The [213]bride’s price is only a rupee. The parents of the bride and bridegroom visit their respective landlords with a few packets of betel leaves, areca nuts, and tobacco, and inform them of the marriage proposal. The landlords give a few paras of paddy to defray a portion of the wedding expenses. They celebrate their weddings on Mondays. On a Monday previous to the wedding ceremony, the sister of the bridegroom, with a few of her relations and friends, goes to the bride’s hut, and presents her parents with the bride’s money, and a brass ring for the bride. On the Monday chosen for the wedding, the same company, and a few more, go there, and dress the girl in the new garment brought by them. They are treated to a dinner as on the previous occasion. They then return with the bride to the hut of the bridegroom, where also the parties assembled are entertained. On the Monday after this, the bridegroom and bride are taken to the bride’s hut, where they stay for a week, and then return to the bridegroom’s hut. Marriage is now formally over. The tāli (marriage badge) tying is dispensed with. This custom of marriage prevails among the Izhuvas of the Chittūr tāluk. The bridegroom gets nothing as a present during the wedding, but this is reserved for the Karkadaka Sankranthi, when he is invited by his father-in-law, and given two veshtis and a turban, after sumptuously feeding him. A widow can only marry a widower. It is called Mundakettuka (marrying a widow). When they both have children, the widower must make a solemn promise to his castemen that he will treat and support the children by both marriages impartially. The present of a brass ring and cloth is essential. A man can divorce his wife, if he is not satisfied with her. The divorced wife can mate only with a widower. Such cases, they say, are very rare among them. [214]

No ceremony is performed for a pregnant woman during the fifth or seventh month. If she dreams of dogs, cats, or wild animals coming to threaten her, it is believed that she is possessed of demons. Then a devil-driver from this or some other caste is called in. He draws a hideous figure (kōlam) on the floor with powdered rice, turmeric, and charcoal, and the woman is seated in front of it. He sings and beats his small drum, or mutters his mantram (consecrated formula). A lamp is lighted, and frankincense is burned. A kaibali is waved round the woman’s face. She is worked up to a hysterical state, and makes frantic movements. Boiled rice, flattened rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and fowl are offered to the demon. Quite satisfied, the demon leaves her, or offers to leave her on certain conditions. If the woman remains silent and unmoved all the time, it is supposed that no demon resides in her body. Very often a yantram (charm) is made on a piece of cadjan (palm) leaf, and rolled. It is attached to a thread, and worn round the neck.

A woman in childbirth is located in a separate small hut (muttuchāla) erected at a distance from the main hut. Nobody attends upon her, except her mother or some old woman to nurse her. As soon as delivery takes place, the mother and child are bathed. Her pollution is for seven days, during which she stays in the hut. She then bathes, and is removed to another hut close to the main hut, and is again under pollution for five months. Her diet during this period is simple, and she is strictly forbidden to take meat. The only medicine administered to her during the period is a mixture of pepper, dried ginger, and palm sugar mixed with toddy. She comes back to the main hut after purifying herself by a bath at the end of the five months. The day is one of festivity. [215]

The Eravallers bury their dead, and observe death pollution for five days. On the morning of the sixth day, the chief mourner, who may be the son or younger brother, gets shaved, bathes, and offers to the spirit of the departed boiled rice, parched rice, plantains, and fowl. A feast is given to the castemen once a year, when they have some savings. They think of their ancestors, who are propitiated with offerings.

They are pure animists, and believe that the forests and hills are full of demons disposed to do them harm. Many of them are supposed to live in trees, and to rule wild beasts. They also believe that there are certain local demons, which are supposed to reside in rocks, trees, or peaks, having influence over particular families or villages, and that services rendered to them are intended to mitigate their hunger rather than to seek benefits. Their gods are Kāli, Muni, Kannimar, and Karappu Rāyan. Kāli is adored to obtain her protection for themselves and their families while living in the forest. Muni is worshipped for the protection of their cattle, and to secure good harvest. Kannimar (the seven virgins) and Karappu Rāyan are their family deities, who watch over their welfare. Offerings of boiled rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and flattened rice are given to propitiate them. Kāli and Muni are worshipped in the forest, and the others in their huts.

The main occupation of the Eravallers is ploughing dry lands for the cultivation of chama (Panicum miliaceum), cholam (Sorghum vulgare), dholl (Cajanus indicus) and gingelly (Sesamum indicum) seeds, and sowing the seeds, which begin in the middle of May, and harvesting in November. During these months, they are wholly occupied with agriculture. During the other months of the year, gardening, fencing, and thatching are their chief [216]occupations. Offerings are made to Kāli and Muni, when they plough, sow, and reap. They are so propitiated, as they are supposed to protect their corn from destruction by wild beasts. The Eravallers are skilful hunters. Owing to their familiarity and acquaintance with the forests, they can point out places frequented by wild beasts, which they can recognise by smell, either to warn travellers against danger, or to guide sportsmen to the game. Ten or fifteen of them form a party, and are armed with knives, bows and arrows. Some of them act as beaters, and the animal is driven to a particular spot, where it is caught in a large net already spread, shot, or beaten to death. Animals hunted are hares, porcupines, and wild pigs. The game is always equally divided. Being good marksmen, they take skilful aim at birds, and kill them when flying.

The ordinary dietary is kanji (gruel) of chama or cholam, mixed with tamarind, salt and chillies, prepared overnight, and taken in the morning. The same is prepared for the midday meal, with a vegetable curry consisting of dholl, horse gram (Dolichos biflorus), and other grains grown in the garden of their masters, which they have to watch. They eat the flesh of sheep, fowls, pigs, hares, quails, and doves. They take food at the hands of Brāhmans, Nāyars, Kammālars, and Izhuvas. They refuse to take anything cooked by Mannans, Pānans, Parayans, and Cherumans. They bathe when touched by a Chakkiliyan, Parayan, or Cheruman. They stand a long way off from Brāhmans and Nāyars.

Both men and women are decently clad. Males wear veshtis, one end of which hangs loose, and the other is tucked in between the legs. They have a shoulder cloth, either hanging loosely over their shoulders, or sometimes tied to the turban. They allow their hair to [217]grow long, but do not, for want of means, anoint it with oil. They grow moustaches. They wear round the neck a necklace of small white beads to distinguish them from Malayars, who are always afraid of them. Some wear brass finger rings. Women wear a potava (coloured cloth), half of which is worn round the loins, while the other half serves to cover the body. The hair is not smoothed with oil. It is twisted into a knot on the back. It is said that they take an oil bath once a week. Their ear ornament is made of a long palmyra leaf rolled into a disc, and the ear lobes are sufficiently dilated to contain them.

Erkollar.—A Tamil form of the Telugu Yerragolla, which is sub-division of Tottiyan.

Ernādan.—In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Aranādans are described as a hill tribe in Malabar, who kill pythons, and extract an oil from them, which they sell to people on the plains as a remedy for leprosy. These are, I have no doubt, the Ernādans, concerning whom Mr. G. Hadfield writes to me as follows. They are a small jungle tribe, found exclusively in Malabar, and are considered to be the lowest of the jungle tribes by the inhabitants of Malabar, who consider themselves polluted if an Ernādan approaches within a hundred yards. Even Paniyans and Pariahs give them a wide berth, and they are prohibited from coming within four hundred yards of a village. One of their customs is very singular, viz., the father of a family takes (or used to take) his eldest daughter as his second wife. The Ernādans use bows and arrows, principally for shooting monkeys, to the flesh of which they are very partial. They are not particular as to what they eat, and are, in fact, on a par with jackals in this respect, devouring snakes and the putrid flesh of various animals. They [218]are fond of collecting the fat of snakes, and selling it. Muhammadans employ them in felling timber, and cultivating fields. Their clothing is exceedingly scanty, and, when hard up, they use wild plantain leaves for this purpose.

Through Mr. Hadfield’s influence with the tribe, Mr. F. Fawcett was able to examine a few members thereof, who appeared before him accompanied by their Māppilla master, at a signal from whom they ran off like hares, to attend to their work in the fields. Their most important measurements were as follows:—

Max. Min. Av.
Stature (cm.) 156.6 150.6 154.5
Cephalic index 85 77 81
Nasal index 108.8 71.1 88.4

The Ernādans, according to these figures, are short of stature, platyrhine, with an unusually high cephalic index.

Ērrā.See Yerra.

Ērudāndi.See Gangeddu.

Ērudukkārān.See Gangeddu.

Erumai (buffalo).—An exogamous sept of Toreya.

Erumān.—A sub-division of Kōlayan.

Ettarai (eight and a half).—An exogamous sept of Tamil goldsmiths.

Ēttuvītan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Eurasian.—Eurasian (Eur-asian) may, after the definition in ‘Hobson-Jobson,’7 be summed up as a modern name for persons of mixed European and Indian blood, devised as being more euphemistic than half-caste, and more precise than East-Indian. When the European and Anglo-Indian Defence Association was established [219]17 years ago, the term Anglo-Indian, after much consideration, was adopted as best designating the community. According to Stocqueler,8 the name Eurasian was invented by the Marquis of Hastings. East Indian is defined by Balfour9 as “a term which has been adopted by all classes of India to distinguish the descendants of Europeans and Native mothers. Other names, such as half-caste, chatikar, and chi-chi, are derogatory designations. Chattikar is from chitta (trousers) and kar (a person who uses them). The Muhammadans equally wear trousers, but concealed by their outer long gowns. The East Indians are also known as Farangi (Frank), a person of Europe. The humbler East Indians, if asked their race, reply that they are Wallandez or Oollanday, which is a modification of Hollandais, the name having been brought down through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the Dutch. East Indians have, in India, all the rights and privileges of Europeans. Races with a mixture of European with Asiatic blood possess a proud and susceptible tone of mind.” For the purposes of the Lawrence Asylum, Ootacamund, the word East Indian is restricted to the children of European fathers by East Indian or Native mothers, or of East Indian fathers and mothers, both of whom are the children of European fathers.

By a ruling of the Government of India a few years ago, it was decided that Eurasians appointed in England to official posts in India are, if they are not statutory Natives, to be treated as Europeans as regards the receipt of exchange compensation allowance.

Some Eurasians have, it may be noted, had decorations or knighthood conferred on them, and risen to the [220]highest position in, and gained the blue ribbon of, Government service. Others have held, or still hold, positions of distinction in the various learned professions, legal, medical, educational, and ecclesiastical.

The influence of the various European nations—Portuguese, Dutch, British, Danish, and French—which have at different times acquired territory in peninsular India, is clearly visible in the polyglot medley of Eurasian surnames, e.g., Gomes, Da Souza, Gonsalvez, Rozario, Cabral, Da Cruz, Da Costa, Da Silva, Da Souza, Fernandez, Fonseca, Lazaro, Henriquez, Xavier, Mendonza, Rodriguez, Saldana, Almeyda, Heldt, Van Spall, Jansen, Augustine, Brisson, Corneille, La Grange, Lavocat, Pascal, DeVine, Aubert, Ryan, McKertish, Macpherson, Harris, Johnson, Smith, etc. Little did the early adventurers, in the dawn of the seventeenth century, think that, as the result of their alliances with the native women, within three centuries banns of marriage would be declared weekly in Madras churches between, for example, Ben Jonson and Alice Almeyda, Emmanuel Henricus and Mary Smith, Augustus Rozario and Minnie Fonseca, John Harris and Clara Corneille. Yet this has come to pass, and the Eurasian holds a recognised place among the half-breed races of the world.

The pedigree of the early Eurasian community is veiled in obscurity. But the various modes of creation of a half-breed, which were adopted in those early days, when the sturdy European pioneers first came in contact with the native females, were probably as follows:—

A. European man (pure) B. Native woman (pure).
C. Male offspring of A + B (first cross) D. Native woman.
E. Female offspring of A + B (first cross) F. European man.
G. Native man. [221]
H. Male offspring of C + D I. Cross—female offspring of A + B.
J. Native woman.
K. Female offspring of C + D L. Cross—male offspring of A + B.
M. European man.
N. Native man.

The Eurasian half-breed, thus established, has been perpetuated by a variety of possible combinations:—

European man Eurasian woman.
Native woman.
Eurasian man Native woman.
Eurasian woman.
European woman.
Native man Eurasian woman.
European woman.

In the early days of the British occupation of Madras, the traders and soldiers, arriving with an inadequate equipment of females, contracted alliances, regular or irregular, with the women of the country. And in these early days, when our territorial possessions were keenly contested with both European and Native enemies, an attempt was made, under authority from high places, to obtain, through the medium of the British soldier, and in accordance with the creed that crossing is an essential means of improving a race, and rendering it vigorous by the infusion of fresh blood from a separate stock, a good cross, which should be available for military purposes. Later on, as the number of the British settlers increased, connexions, either with the Native women, or with the females of the recently established Eurasian type, were kept up owing to the difficulty of communication with the mother-country, and consequent difficulty in securing English brides. Of these barbaric days the detached or semi-detached bungalows in the spacious grounds of the old private houses in [222]Madras remain as a memorial. At the present day the conditions of life in India are, as the result of steamer traffic, very different, and far more wholesome. The Eurasian man seeks a wife as a rule among his own community; and, in this manner, the race is mainly maintained.

The number of Eurasians within the limits of the Madras Presidency was returned, at the census, 1891, as 26,643. But on this point I must call Mr. H. A. Stuart, the Census Commissioner, into the witness box. “The number of Eurasians,” he writes, “is 26,643, which is 20.76 per cent. more than the number returned in 1881.” The figures for the last three enumerations are given in the following statement:—

Year. Total. Males. Females.
1871 26,460 13,091 13,359
1881 21,892 10,969 10,923
1891 26,643 13,141 13,502

“It will be seen that, between 1871 and 1881, there was a great decrease, and that the numbers in 1891 are slightly higher than they were twenty years ago. The figures, however, are most untrustworthy. The cause is not far to seek; many persons, who are really Natives, claim to be Eurasians, and some who are Eurasians return themselves as Europeans. It might be thought that the errors due to these circumstances would be fairly constant, but the district figures show that this cannot be the case. Take Malabar, for example, which has the largest number of Eurasians after Madras, and where the division between Native Christians with European names and people of real mixed race is very shadowy. In 1871 there were in this district 5,413 Eurasians; in 1881 the number had apparently fallen to 1,676; while in 1891 it had again risen to 4,193, or, if we include South-east Wynaad, as we should do, to 4,439. [223]It is to be regretted that trustworthy statistics cannot be obtained, for the question whether the true Eurasian community is increasing or decreasing is of considerable scientific and administrative importance. The Eurasians form but a very small proportion of the community, for there is only one Eurasian in every 1,337 of the population of the Madras Presidency, and it is more than probable that a considerable proportion of those returned as Eurasians are in reality pure Natives who have embraced the Christian religion, taken an English or Portuguese name, and adopted the European dress and mode of living. In the matter of education, or at least elementary education, they are more advanced than any other class of the community, and compare favourably with the population of any country in the world. They live for the most part in towns, nearly one-half of their number being found in the city of Madras.”

In connection with the fact that, at times of census, Native Christians and Pariahs, who masquerade in European clothes, return themselves as Eurasians, and vice versâ, it may be accepted that some benefit must be derived by the individual in return for the masking of his or her nationality. And it has been pointed out to me that (as newspaper advertisements testify) many ladies will employ a Native ayah rather than a Eurasian nurse, and that some employers will take Eurasian clerks into their service, but not Native Christians. It occasionally happens that pure-bred Natives, with European name and costume, successfully pass themselves off as Eurasians, and are placed on a footing of equality with Eurasians in the matter of diet, being allowed the luxury of bread and butter, coffee, etc.

Mr. Stuart had at his command no special statistics of the occupations resorted to by Eurasians, but states that [224]the majority of them are clerks, while very few obtain their livelihood by agriculture. In the course of my investigations in the city of Madras, the following occupations were recorded:—

  • Accountant.
  • Attendant, Lunatic Asylum.
  • Baker.
  • Bandsman.
  • Bill collector.
  • Blacksmith.
  • Boarding-house keeper.
  • Boatswain.
  • Boiler smith.
  • Carpenter.
  • Chemist’s assistant.
  • Clerk, Government.
  • Clerk, commercial.
  • Commission agent.
  • Compositor.
  • Compounder.
  • Contractor.
  • Coppersmith.
  • Crane attendant, harbour.
  • Draftsman.
  • Electric tram driver.
  • Electric tram inspector.
  • Engine-driver, ice factory.
  • Evangelist.
  • Filer.
  • Fireman.
  • Fitter.
  • Hammerer.
  • Harness-maker.
  • Jewel-smith.
  • Joiner.
  • Labourer.
  • Livery stable-keeper.
  • Mechanic.
  • Moulder.
  • Painter.
  • Petition writer.
  • Police Inspector.
  • Porter.
  • Printer.
  • Proof-reader.
  • Railway—
    • Auditor.
    • Chargeman.
    • Engine-driver.
    • Engineer.
    • Goods clerk.
    • Guard.
    • Locomotive Inspector.
    • Parcels clerk.
    • Prosecuting Inspector.
    • Shunter.
    • Signaller.
    • Station-master.
    • Storekeeper.
    • Ticket collector.
    • Tool-keeper.
    • Block signaller.
    • Carriage examiner.
  • Reporter.
  • Rivetter.
  • Saddler.
  • Schoolmaster.
  • Sexton.
  • Spring-smith.
  • Stereotyper.
  • Steward.
  • Telegraph clerk.
  • Watchmaker.
  • Watchman.


In the Census Report, 1901, the following statistics of the occupation of 5,718 Eurasians in Madras city (4,083), Malabar (1,149) and Chingleput (486) are given. Most of those in the last of these three reside in Perambūr, just outside the Madras municipal limits:—

Number of workers.
Endowments, scholarships, etc. 813
Pensioners 438
Railway clerks, station-masters, guards, etc. 427
Tailors 378
Merchants’ and shop-keepers’ clerks 297
Railway operatives 262
Teachers 243
Public service 212
Private clerks 211
Mechanics (not railway) 203
Carpenters 167
Telegraph department 136
Medical department 136
Cooks, grooms, etc. 132
Printing presses: workmen and subordinates 106
Independent means 75
Allowances from patrons, relatives and friends 72
Survey and Public Works department 66
Coffee and tea estate clerks and coolies 60
Inmates of asylums 58
Railway porters, etc. 57
Musicians and actors 54
Harbour service 50
Workmen, gun carriage factories 48
Postal department 48
Non-commissioned officers, Army 46
Mendicants 45
Midwives 42[226]
Priests, ministers, etc. 41
Tramway officials 35
Sellers of hides and bones, shoe and boot makers, tanners, etc. 33
Local and Municipal service 30
Shipping clerks, etc. 29
Brokers and agents 28
Lawyers’ clerks 26
Merchants and shop-keepers 24
Landholders 24
Watch and clock makers 23
Money-lenders, etc. 22
Military clerks 21
Blacksmiths 18
Chemists and druggists 16
Prisoners 15
Pleaders 12
Brass and copper smiths 12
Inmates of convents, etc. 11
Ship’s officers, etc. 10
Prostitutes 10
Authors, editors, etc. 10
Cultivating tenants 8
Club managers, etc. 8
Hotel-keepers, etc. 7
Minor occupations 363

As bearing on the subject of Eurasian marriage, I am enabled, through the courtesy of a railway chaplain and the chaplain of one of the principal churches in the city of Madras, to place on record the following statistics abstracted from the registers. It may, in explanation, be noted that M indicates the bridegroom, F the bride, and W widow or widower remarriage:— [227]

(a) Railway.

M. F. M. F. M. F.
25 18 34 19 24 18
21 15 27 16 35 21
24 19 20 21 24 19
21 14 22 18 22 18
22 19 25 16 21 20
23 17 22 18 32 19
23 14 25 16 26 21
23 18 23 21 25 18
25 16 W 42 18 33 19
W 45 19 37 28 20 15
25 23 25 19 25 18
24 17 24 17 24 20
22 17 26 16 32 19
W 42 18 24 19 27 18
40 16 23
23 22 23

(b) Madras City.

M. F. M. F. M. F.
33 26 28 19 27 18
W 40 18 29 20 W 39 19
23 26 23 21 27 31
23 23 26 21 23 14
25 21 22 18 33 24
29 W 24 25 17 25 18
31 19 28 W 35 25 18
28 25 24 18 21 19
26 17 26 19 24 20
23 15 32 26 26 19
23 18 26 18 W 46 W 39
23 19 27 18 23 25
30 24 25 21 22 20
W 38 17 23 16 32 17
21 17 27 19 21 16[228]
26 21 40 16 21 W 30
W 53 W 43 28 15 W 40 17
28 20 31 24 25 24
29 21 27 25 30 20
W 43 W 36 29 17 W 43 23
20 16 24 W 30 22 18
22 18 W 42 W 34

Analysing these figures, with the omission of remarriages, we obtain the following results:—

(a) Railway.

Bridegroom. Bride.
Average age 25–26 18–19
Mean above average 28–29 19–20
Mean below average 23–24 16–17
Range of age 40–20 28–14

(b) Madras City.

Bridegroom. Bride.
Average age 26–27 19–20
Mean above average 28–29 21–22
Mean below average 23–24 17–18
Range of age 40–20 31–14

From the analysis of a hundred male cases in Madras, in which enquiries were made with reference to the married state, in individuals ranging in age from 21 to 50, with an average age of 33, I learn that 74 were married; that 141 male and 130 female children had been born to them; and that 26, whose average age was 25, were unmarried. The limits of age of the men at the time of marriage were 32 and 16; of their wives 25 and 13. The greatest number of children born to a single [229]pair was 10. In only three cases, out of the seventy-four, was there no issue. In fifty cases, which were examined, of married men, with an average age of 34, 207 children had been born, of whom 91 had died, for the most part in early life, from ‘fever’ and other causes.

The racial position of Eurasians, and the proportion of black blood in their veins, are commonly indicated, not by the terms mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, sambo (or zambo), etc., but in fractions of a rupee. The European pure breed being represented by Rs. 0–0–0, and the Native pure breed by 16 annas (= 1 rupee), the resultant cross is, by reference to colour and other tests, gauged as being half an anna in the rupee (faint admixture of black blood), approaching European types; eight annas (half and half); fifteen annas (predominant admixture of black blood), approaching Native types, etc.

The Eurasian body being enveloped in clothes, it was not till they stripped before me, for the purpose of anthropometry, that I became aware how prevalent is the practice of tattooing among the male members of the community. Nearly all the hundred and thirty men (of the lower classes) whom I examined were, in fact, tattooed to a greater or less extent on the breasts, upper arms, forearms, wrists, back of the hands, or shoulders. The following varied selection of devices in blue, with occasional red, is recorded in my case-book:—

  • Anchor.
  • Ballet girl with flag, stars and stripes.
  • Bracelets round wrists.
  • Burmese lady carrying umbrella.
  • Bird.
  • Bugles.
  • Conventional artistic devices.
  • Cross and anchor.
  • Crown and flags. [230]
  • Crossed swords and pistols.
  • Dancing-girl.
  • Dancing-girl playing with cobras.
  • Elephant.
  • Floral devices.
  • Flowers in pot.
  • Hands joined in centre of a heart.
  • Hands joined, and clasping a flower.
  • Heart.
  • Heart and cross.
  • Initials of the individual, his friends, relatives, and inamorata, sometimes within a heart or laurel wreath.
  • Lizard.
  • Mercy (word on left breast).
  • Mermaid.
  • Portraits of the man and his lady-love.
  • Queen Alexandra.
  • Royal arms and banners.
  • Sailing boat.
  • Scorpion.
  • Solomon’s seal.
  • Steam boat.
  • Svastika (Buddhist emblem).
  • Watteau shepherdess.

The most elaborate patterns were executed by Burmese tattooers. The initials of the individual’s Christian and surnames, which preponderated over other devices, were, as a rule, in Roman, but occasionally in Tamil characters.

In colour the Eurasians afford examples of the entire colour scale, through sundry shades of brown and yellow, to pale white, and even florid or rosy. The pilous or hairy system was, in the cases recorded by me, uniformly black. The colour of the iris, like that of the skin, is liable to great variation, from lustrous black to light, with a predominance of dark tints. Blue was observed only in a solitary instance. [231]

The Eurasian resists exposure to the sun better than the European, and, while many wear solah topis (pith sun-hats), it is by no means uncommon to see a Eurasian walking about in the middle of a hot day with his head protected only by a straw hat or cap.

The average height of the Eurasians examined by me in Madras, according to my measurements of 130 subjects, is 166.6 cm. (5 feet 5½ inches), and compares as follows with that of the English and various Native classes inhabiting the city of Madras:—

English 170.8
Eurasians 166.6
Muhammadans 164.5
Brāhmans 162.5
Pallis 162.5
Vellālas 162.4
Paraiyans 161.9

The height, as might be expected, comes between that of the two parent stocks, European and Native, and had, in the cases examined, the wide range of 30.8 cm., the difference between a maximum of 183.8 cm. (6 feet) and a minimum of 153 cm. (5 feet).

The average length of the head was 18.6 cm. and the breadth 14.1 cm. And it is to be noted that, in 63 per cent. of the cases examined, the breadth exceeded 14 cm.:—

Length. Breadth. Index.
cm. cm.
Brāhmans 18.6 14.2 76.5
Eurasians 18.6 14.1 76
Muhammadans 18.7 13.9 76.1
Vellālas 18.6 13.8 74.1
Paraiyans 18.6 13.7 73.6
Pallis 18.6 13.6 73


The breadth of the head is very clearly brought out by the following analysis of forty subjects belonging to each of the above six classes, which shows at a glance the preponderance of heads exceeding 14 cm. in breadth in Eurasians, Brāhmans, and (to a less extent) in Muhammadans:—

12–13 13–14 14–15 15–16
cm. cm. cm. cm.
Eurasians ... 11 27 2
Brāhmans 1 9 27 3
Muhammadans 2 17 21 ...
Vellālas ... 24 16 ...
Paraiyans ... 27 13 ...
Pallis 3 30 7 ...

The head of a cross-breed, it has been said, generally takes after the father, and the breadth of the Eurasian head is a persisting result of European male influence. The effect of this influence is clearly demonstrated in the following cases, all the result of re-crossing between British men and Eurasian women:—

Length. Breadth.
cm. cm.
19 14.5
18.4 14.2
19.2 14.2
20.2 14.6
19 14.6
19.4 14.3
—— ——
Average 19.2 14.4
Eurasian average 18.6 14.1

The character of the nose is, as those who have studied ethnology in India will appreciate, a most important factor in the differentiation of race, tribe, and class, and in the determination of pedigree. “No one,” [233]Mr. Risley writes,10 “can have glanced at the literature of the subject, and in particular, at the Védic accounts of the Aryan advance, without being struck by the frequent references to the noses of the people whom the Aryans found in possession of the plains of India. So impressed were the Aryans with the shortcomings of their enemies’ noses that they often spoke of them as ‘the noseless ones,’ and their keen perception of the importance of this feature seems almost to anticipate the opinion of Dr. Collignon that the nasal index ranks higher as a distinctive character than the stature or even the cephalic index itself.”

In the subjoined table, based on the examination of forty members of each class, the high proportion of leptorhine Eurasians, Muhammadans, and Vellālas, with nasal indices ranging between 60 and 70, is at once manifest, and requires no comment:—

60–70. 70–80. 80–90. 90–100.
Eurasians 19 17 3 1
Muhammadans 17 18 4 1
Vellālas 14 22 3 1
Pallis 3 25 9 3
Paraiyans 2 17 19 2

I pass on to the Eurasians of the west coast. My visit to Calicut, the capital of the Malabar district, was by chance coincident with the commemoration of the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama at Calicut after his discovery of the sea-route from Europe to India. Concerning the origin of the Indo-Portuguese half-breed, I learn11 that, on his return from the recapture of Goa, Albuquerque brought with him the women he had carried away when the Portuguese [234]were driven out of the place. As soon as affairs became tolerably settled again at that port, he had them converted to Christianity, and married them to Portuguese men. No less than 450 of his men were thus married in Goa, and others who desired to follow their example were so numerous that Albuquerque had great difficulty in granting their requests. The marriage of Portuguese men to native women had already been sanctioned by Dom Manuel, but this privilege was only to be conceded to men of proved character, and who had rendered good service. Albuquerque, however, extended the permission to many far beyond what he was authorised to do, and he took care that the women so married were the daughters of the principal men of the land. This he did in the hope of inducing them to become Christians. To those who were married Albuquerque allotted lands, houses and cattle, so as to give them a start in life, and all the landed property which had been in possession of the Moorish mosques and Hindu pagodas he gave to the principal churches of the city, which he dedicated to Santa Catherina.

The names of some members of the community at Calicut recalled to mind Pedro Alvares Cabral, who anchored before Calicut in 1500, and established a factory at Cochin; the first Portuguese Governor, Dom Franciso de Almeida; André Furtado de Mendonca, who concluded a treaty with the king of Calicut; and many others, whose exploits are handed down to posterity in the Indo-Portuguese archives. Though Portuguese names persist at the present day, it does not follow of necessity that their owners have any Portuguese blood in their veins, for some are merely descendants of Native converts to Christianity, or of household slaves of Portuguese officers. “In Malabar,” writes the Census [235]Commissioner, 1881, “there is a section of Europeanized Native Christians—Goa Roman Catholics—some of whom have adopted European dress and customs; and in all districts the popular interpretation of the word Eurasian is very liberal. There are many Pariahs and Native Christians, who have adopted a travesty of European clothes, and who would return themselves as Eurasians, if allowed to do so.”

A social distinction is made at Calicut between Eurasians and East Indians. With a view at clearing up the grounds on which this distinction is based, my interpreter was called on to submit a note on the subject, which arrived couched in language worthy of Mark Twain. I, therefore, reproduce it in the original Indo-Anglian.

“Eurasians are classified to those who stand second in the list of Europeans and those born in any part of India, and who are the Pedigree of European descendants, being born of father European and mother East Indian, and notwithstanding those who can prove themselves as really good Indian descendants, such as mother and father of the same sex, therefore these are called Eurasians.

“East Indians are those offsprings of Christians of the East, and they atimes gather the offsprings of Eurasians to the entering their marriage to the East Indian females in the East Indian community, thereby they are called East Indians.

“Native Christians are those of Hindu nations converted into Christians by their embracing the poles of Christianity. All Hindus thereby converted are made Christians by a second Baptism are called Native Christians.

“Coaster. They are alluded to those who belong to the Coast, and who come from a country that has a Sea [236]Coast into that country that has not got a Sea Coast is therefore called a Coaster. A very rude word.”

Speaking in general terms, it may be said that Eurasians are of greater stature, and possess skins of lighter hue than the East Indians, who, as the result of intermarriage with Native Christian women, have reverted in the direction of the Native type.

The Eurasians examined by me at Calicut, nearly all of whom were Roman Catholics, were earning a livelihood in the following capacities:—

  • Bandsman.
  • Boot-maker.
  • Bugler.
  • Carpenter.
  • Clerk.
  • Coffee estate writer.
  • Compositor.
  • Copyist.
  • Mechanic.
  • Municipal inspector.
  • Musician.
  • Petition-writer.
  • Police constable.
  • Railway guard.
  • Schoolmaster.
  • Tailor.
  • Tin-smith.
  • Weaver.

As in Madras, so in Malabar, tattooing is very prevalent among the male members of the community, and the devices are characterised by a predominance of religious emblems and snakes. The following patterns are recorded in my notes:—

  • Bangle on wrist.
  • Boat.
  • Bird (the Holy Ghost).
  • Chalice.
  • Christ crucified.
  • Conventional and geometrical designs.
  • Cross.
  • Cross and crown.
  • Cross and heart.
  • Cross and I.N.R.I.
  • Crossed swords.
  • Fish.
  • Flags.
  • Flower.
  • Flower and leaves.
  • Initials.
  • Ladder.
  • Sacred heart.
  • Snake encircling forearms.
  • Snake coiled round forearm.
  • Solomon’s seal.
  • Steam boat.


There are, in North Malabar, many individuals, whose fathers were European. Writing, in 1887, concerning the Tiyan community, Mr. Logan states12 that “the women are not as a rule excommunicated if they live with Europeans, and the consequence is that there has been among them a large admixture of European blood, and the caste itself has been materially raised in the social scale. In appearance some of the women are almost as fair as Europeans.” On this point, the Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1894, states that “in the early days of British rule, the Tiyan women incurred no social disgrace by consorting with Europeans, and, up to the last generation, if the Sudra girl could boast of her Brahmin lover, the Tiyan girl could show more substantial benefits from her alliance with a white man of the ruling race. Happily the progress of education, and the growth of a wholesome public opinion, have made shameful the position of a European’s concubine; and both races have thus been saved from a mode of life equally demoralizing to each.”

During a visit to Ootacamund on the Nīlgiri hills, I was enabled to examine the physique of the elder boys at the Lawrence Asylum, the object of which is “to provide for children of European and East Indian officers and soldiers of Her Majesty’s Army (British and Native), and of Europeans and East Indians in the Medical Service, military and civil, who are serving, or have served within the limits of the Presidency of Madras, a refuge from the debilitating effects of a tropical climate, and from the serious drawbacks to the well-being of children incidental to a barrack life; to afford for them a plain, practical, and religious education; and to train [238]them for employment in different trades, pursuits, and industries.” As the result of examination of thirty-three Eurasian boys, I was able to testify to the excellence of their physical condition.13 A good climate, with a mean annual temperature of 58°, good food, and physical training, have produced a set of boys well-nourished and muscular, with good chests, shoulders, and body weight.

Some final words are necessary on liability to certain diseases, as a differentiating character between Eurasians and Europeans. The Census Commissioner, 1891, states that Eurasians seem to be peculiarly liable to insanity and leprosy. To these should be added elephantiasis (filarial disease), concerning which Surgeon-Major J. Maitland writes as follows14 “Almost all the old writers on elephantiasis believed that the dark races were more susceptible to the disease than white people; but it is extremely doubtful if this is the case. It is true that, in those countries where the disease is endemic, the proportion of persons affected is much greater among the blacks than among the whites; but it has to be borne in mind that the habits of the former render them much more liable to the disease than the latter. The majority of the white people, being more civilised, are more careful regarding the purity of their drinking water than the Natives, who are proverbially careless in this respect. In India, although it is comparatively rare to meet with Europeans affected with the disease, yet such cases are from time to time recorded. Eurasians are proportionately more liable to the disease than pure Europeans, but not so much so as Natives. Doctors Patterson and Hall of Bahia15 examined the blood of 309 persons in [239]that place, and found the following proportions affected with filaria; of whites, 1 in 26; of blacks, 1 in 10¼; of the mixed race, 1 in 9. Doctor Laville16 states that, in the Society Islands, out of a total of 13 European and American residents, 11 were affected with elephantiasis. Taking all these facts into consideration, together with our knowledge of the pathology of the disease, I do not think we are justified in saying that the black races are more susceptible to the disease than white people. On the other hand, owing to the nature of their habits, they are much more liable to the diseases than are the white races.” During the five years 1893–97, ninety-eight Eurasians suffering from filarial diseases were admitted into the General Hospital, Madras.

To Colonel W. A. Lee, I.M.S., Superintendent of the Government Leper Asylum, Madras, I am indebted for the following note on leprosy in its relation to the Eurasian and European communities. “Europeans are by no means immune to the disease, which, in the majority of instances, is contracted by them through coitus with leprous individuals. Leprosy is one of the endemic diseases of tropical and sub-tropical countries, to the risk of contracting which Europeans who settle on the plains of India, and their offspring from unions with the inhabitants of the land, as well as the descendants of the latter, become exposed, since, by the force of circumstances, they are thrown into intimate contact with the Native population. The Eurasian community furnishes a considerable number of lepers, and the disease, once introduced into a family, has a tendency to attack several of its members, and to reappear in successive generations, occasionally skipping one—a [240]feature akin to the biological phenomenon known as atavism, but of perhaps doubtful analogy, for the possibility of a fresh infection or inoculation has always to be borne in mind. There are numerous instances of such hereditary transmission among the patients, both Native and Eurasian, in the Leper Hospital. The spread of the disease by contagion is slow, the most intimate contact even, such as that between parent and child, often failing to effect inoculation. Still there is much evidence in support of its being inoculable by cohabitation, prolonged contact, wearing the same clothing, sharing the dwelling, using the same cooking and eating utensils, and even by arm-to-arm vaccination. Influenced by a belief in the last mentioned cause, vaccination was formerly regarded with much suspicion and dislike by Eurasians in Madras. But their apprehensions on this score have abated since animal vaccine was substituted for the humanised material. It has also for long been a popular belief among the same class that the suckling of their infants by infected Native wet-nurses is a common source of the disease. Attempts to reproduce leprosy from supposed pure cultures of the leprosy bacillus have invariably failed, and this strengthens the belief that the disease would die out if sufferers from the tubercular or mixed forms were segregated, and intermarriage with members of known leprous families interdicted. Experience shows that, where such marriages are freely entered into, a notable prevalence of the disease results, as at Pondicherry for example, where the so-called creole population is said to contain a large proportion of lepers from this cause.”

Writing concerning the prevalence of insanity in different classes, the Census Commissioner, 1891, states [241]that “it appears from the statistics that insanity is far more prevalent among the Eurasians than among any other class. The proportion is 1 insane person in every 410. For England and Wales the proportion is 1 in every 307, and it is significant that the section of the population of Madras, which shows the greatest liability to insanity, is that which has an admixture of European blood. I have no information regarding the prevalence of insanity among Eurasians for any other province or State in India except Mysore, and there the proportion is 1 in 306.”

For the following tabular statement of admissions into the Government Lunatic Asylum, Madras, I am indebted to Captain C. H. Leet-Palk, I.M.S.:—

Eurasians. Natives. Europeans.
Male. Female. Male. Female. Male. Female.
1893 6 7 110 55 15 4
1894 8 6 104 28 19 1
1895 10 6 113 18 11 4
1896 2 4 82 17 5 ...
1897 3 3 84 18 14 1

Leaving out of question the Europeans, in whom, owing to the preponderance of the male sex in Madras, a greater number of male than female lunatics is to be expected, and considering only Eurasians and Natives, the far higher proportion of female as compared with male lunatics in the Eurasian than in the Native community, is very conspicuous. Taking, for example, the numbers remaining in the Asylum in 1894. Whereas the proportion of Eurasian males to females was 33:31, that of Natives was 30.6:6.8; and the high proportion [242]of female Eurasian inmates was visible in other years. The subject seems to be one worthy of further study by those competent to deal with it.

1 Manual of the North Arcot district; Madras Census Report, 1891.

2 Madras Census Report, 1901.

3 Malabar Law and Custom.

4 Malabar Quarterly Review, VII, 3, 1908.

5 Wigram. Malabar Law and Custom.

6 Monograph. Eth. Survey of Cochin, No. 9, 1906.

7 Yule and Burnell, 2nd ed., 1903.

8 Handbook of British India, 1854.

9 Cyclopædia of India.

10 Journ. Anth. Inst., XX, 1891.

11 Danvers. The Portuguese in India, 1894.

12 Manual Of Malabar.

13 See Madras Museum Bulletin, II, 2, Table XXVI, 1898.

14 Elephantiasis and allied disorders, Madras, 1891.

15 Veterinarian, June, 1879.

16 Endemic Skin and other Diseases of India. Fox and Farquhar.


Gābit.—A Bombay fishing caste returned at the census, 1901. To Malpe in the South Canara district, during the fishing season, come fishermen with a flotilla of keeled and outrigged sailing boats from Ratnagiri in the Bombay Presidency. Hither also come fishermen from Goa. The reasons given by the Ratnagiri fishermen for coming southward are that fish are not so abundant off their own coast, competition is keener, and salt more expensive. Moreover, the crystals of Bombay salt are too large for successful curing, and “do not agree with the fish, of which the flesh is turned black.” If, they said contemptuously, they were to sun-dry fish by the local method, their people would laugh at them for bringing back, not fish, but dried cow-dung for fuel. The Ratnagiri boats go well out of sight of land to the fishing ground, where they catch seir, pomfret, cat-fish (Arius), and other big fish near the surface, and sharks in deeper water. If the fishing is not good near Malpe, they may go south as far as Mangalore. To the Ratnagiri fishermen the seir (Cybium) is the most valuable and lucrative fish. Under existing arrangements, by which clashing of interests is avoided, the fishery at Malpe is divided into two zones, viz., the deep sea fished by the large Ratnagiri boats, and the shallow littoral water by the smaller local and Goa boats.

Gadaba.—The Gadabas are a tribe of agriculturists, coolies, and hunters in the Vizagapatam district. Hunting is said to be gradually decreasing, as many of the forests are now preserved, and shooting without a [243]license is forbidden. Men sometimes occupy themselves in felling trees, catching birds and hares, and tracking and beating game for sportsmen. The Gadabas are also employed as bearers in the hills, and carry palanquins. There is a settlement of them on the main road between Sembliguda and Koraput, in a village where they are said to have been settled by a former Rāja expressly for such service. It is said that the Gadabas will not touch a horse, possibly because they are palanquin-bearers, and have the same objection to the rival animal that a cabman has for a motor-car.

There is a tradition that the tribe owes its name to the fact that its ancestors emigrated from the banks of the Godābari (Godāvari) river, and settled at Nandapur, the former capital of the Rājas of Jeypore. The Gadabas have a language of their own, of which a vocabulary is given in the Vizagapatam Manual. This language is included by Mr. G. A. Grierson1 in the Mundā linguistic family.

The tribe is apparently divided into five sections, called Bodo (big) or Gutōb, Pārenga, Olāro, Kaththiri or Kaththara, and Kāpu. Of these, the last two are settled in the plains, and say that they are Bodo and Olāro Gadabas who migrated thither from the hills. As among the Gadabas, so among the Savaras, there is a section which has settled on the plains, and adopted Kāpu as its name. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, nearly a thousand Gadabas are returned as belonging to the Chenchu sub-division. Chenchu is the name of a separate jungle tribe in the Telugu country, and I have been unable to confirm the existence of a Chenchu sub-division among the Gadabas. [244]

In the Madras Census Report, 1871, Mr. H. G. Turner states that “very much akin to the Gadabas are a class called Kerang Kāpus. They will not admit any connexion with them; but, as their language is almost identical, such gainsaying cannot be permitted them. They are called Kerang Kāpu from the circumstance of their women weaving cloths, which they weave from the fibre of a jungle shrub called Kerang (Calotropis gigantea).” Mr. H. A. Stuart remarks2 that “the Kāpu Gadabas are possibly the Kerang Kāpus mentioned by Mr. Turner as akin to the Gadabas, for I find no mention of the caste under the full name of Kerang Kāpu, nor is Kerang found as a sub-division of either Kāpu or Gadaba.” Writing concerning the numeral system of the Kerang Kāpus, Mr. Turner observes that it runs thus: Moi, Umbar, Jugi, O, Malloi, Turu, Gū, Tammar, Santing, Goa, and for eleven (1 and following numbers), they prefix the word Go, e.g., Gommoi, Gombāro, etc. The Kerang Kāpus can count up to nineteen, but have no conception of twenty. According to Mr. W. Francis, the only tribe on the hills which has this system of notation is the Bonda Poraja. The Gadabas have very similar names for the first five numerals; but, after that, lapse into Oriya, e.g., sāt, āt, nō, das, etc. The Bonda Poraja numerals recorded by Mr. Francis are mūyi, baar, gii, oo, moloi, thiri, goo, thamām, and so on up to nineteen, after which they cannot count. This system, as he points out, agrees with the one described by Mr. Turner as belonging to the Kerang Kāpus. The Gutōb Gadaba numerals recorded by Mr. C. A. Henderson include muititti (1 + a hand), and martitti (2 + a hand). [245]

Some Gadaba women wear a bustle or dress improver, called irrē or kittē. This article of attire is accounted for by the following tradition. “A goddess visited a Gadaba village incognito, and asked leave of one of the women to rest on a cot. She was brusquely told that the proper seat for beggars was the floor, and she consequently decreed that thenceforth all Gadaba women should wear a bustle to remind them to avoid churlishness.”3 The Gadaba female cloths are manufactured by themselves from cotton thread and the fibre of silloluvāda or ankudi chettu (Holarrhena antidysenterica) and bōda luvāda or bodda chettu (Ficus glomerata). The fibre is carefully dried, and dyed blue or reddish-brown. The edges of the cloth are white, a blue strip comes next, while the middle portion is reddish-brown with narrow stripes of white or blue at regular intervals. The Gadabas account for the dress of their women by the following legend. When Rāma, during his banishment, was wandering in the forests of Dandaka, his wife Sīta accompanied him in spite of his entreaties to the contrary. It was one of the cruel terms of his stepmother Kaika that Rāma should wear only clothing made from jungle fibre, before leaving the capital. According to the Hindu religion, a virtuous wife must share both the sorrows and joys of her lord. Consequently Sīta followed the example of Rāma, and wore the same kind of clothing. They then left the capital amidst the loud lamentation of the citizens. During their wanderings, they met some Gadaba women, who mocked and laughed at Sīta. Whereupon she cursed them, and condemned them to wear no other dress but the cloth made of fibre. In a note on the [246]Gadabas,4 Mr. L. Lakshminarayan writes that “although mill-prepared cloths are fast replacing house-spun cloths in all communities, yet, in the case of the Gadabas, there is a strong superstition which prevents the use of cloths prepared outside, particularly in regard to the cloths worn by their women. The legend (about Sīta) is fully believed by the Gadabas, and hence their religious adherence to their particular cloth. At the time of marriage, it is absolute that the Gadaba maiden should wear this fibre-made cloth, else misfortune will ruin the family. A bundle of twigs is brought, and the stems freed of leaves are bruised and twisted to loosen the bark, and are then dried for two or three days, after which the bark is ripped out and beaten down smooth with heavy sticks, to separate the bark from the fibre. The fibre is then collected, and combed down smooth, and spun into a tolerably fine twist. It is this twist that the Gadaba maiden weaves in her crude loom, and prepares from it her marriage sāri. According to a good custom among these people, a Gadaba maiden must learn to weave her cloths before she becomes eligible for marriage. And no Gadaba ever thinks of marrying a wife who cannot prepare her own cloths. Men can use cotton and other cloths, whereas women cannot do so, for they are under the curse of Sīta. But the passion for fineries in woman is naturally so strong that the modern Gadaba woman is now taking the liberty of putting cotton thread for the woof and ankudu fibre for the warp, and thus is able to turn out a more comfortable and finer cloth. But some old crones informed me that this mixed cloth is not so auspicious as that prepared wholly from the fibre.” [247]

Some Gadaba women wear immense earrings made of long pieces of brass wire wound into a circle, which hang down from a hole in the ear, and sometimes reach to the shoulders. The wire is sold in the shandy (market) at so much a cubit. The head-dress of some of the women consists of a chaplet of Oliva shells, and strings of beads of various sizes and colours, or the red and black berries of Abrus precatorius, with pendants which hang over the forehead. The women also wear bead necklaces, to which a coin may sometimes be seen attached as a pendant. Bracelets and rings are as a rule made of brass or copper, but sometimes silver rings are worn. Toe-rings and brass or silver anklets are considered fashionable ornaments. Among the Olāro Gadabas, the wearing of brass anklets by a woman indicates that she is married. For teaching backward children to walk, the Gadabas employ a bamboo stick split so as to make a fork, the prongs of which are connected by a cross-bar. The apparatus is held by the mother, and the child, clutching the cross-bar, toddles along.

Among the Bodo and Olāro sections, the following septs occur:—Kōra (sun), Nāg (cobra), Bhāg (tiger), Kīra (parrot), and Gollāri (monkey). The Gadabas who have settled in the plains seem to have forgotten the sept names, but will not injure or kill certain animals, e.g., the cobra.

Girls are as a rule married after puberty. When a young man’s parents think it time for him to get married, they repair to the home of an eligible girl with rice and liquor, and say that they have come to ask a boon, but do not mention what it is. They are treated to a meal, and return home. Some time afterwards, on a day fixed by the Disāri, three or four aged relatives of the young [248]man go to the girl’s house, and the match is fixed up. After a meal, they return to their homes. On the day appointed for the wedding ceremonies, the bridegroom’s relations go to the home of the bride, taking with them a rupee towards the marriage expenses, a new cloth for the girl’s mother, and half a rupee for the females of the bride’s village, which is regarded as compensation for the loss of the girl. To the bride are given a glass bead necklace, and brass bangles to be worn on the right wrist. A feast follows. On the following day, the bride is conducted to the village of the bridegroom, in front of whose home a pandal (booth), made of four bamboo poles, covered with green leaves, has been erected. Within the pandal, stems of the sāl (Shorea robusta), addagirli, and bamboo joined together, are set up as the auspicious post. Beside this a grindstone is placed, on which the bride sits, with the bridegroom seated on her thighs. The females present throw turmeric powder over them, and they are bathed with turmeric-water kept ready in a new pot. They are then presented with new cloths, and their hands are joined together by the officiating Disāri. A feast, with much drinking, follows, and the day’s proceedings conclude with a dance. On the following day, mud is heaped up near the pandal, into which the Disāri throws a handful of it. The remainder of the mud is carried into the pandal by the contracting couple, who pour water over it, and throw it over those who are assembled. All then proceed to a stream, and bathe. A further feast and dance follows, of which the newly married couple are spectators, without taking part in it.

In a note on marriage among the Pārenga Gadabas, Mr. G. F. Paddison writes that they have two forms of marriage rite, one of which (bibā) is accompanied by [249]much feasting, gifts of bullocks, toddy, rice, etc. The most interesting feature is the fight for the bride with fists. All the men on each side fight, and the bridegroom has to carry off the bride by force. Then they all sit down, and feast together. In the other form (lethulia), the couple go off together to the jungle, and, when they return, pay twenty rupees, or whatever they can afford, to the girl’s father as a fine. A dinner and regular marriage follow elopement and payment of the fine.

The ghorojavai system, according to which a man works for a stated period for his future father-in-law, is practiced by the Gadabas. But a cash payment is said to be now substituted for service. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and a younger brother may marry the widow of his elder brother. If she does not marry him, the second husband has to pay a sum of money, called in Oriya the rānd tonka, to him. When a man divorces his wife, her relations are summoned, and he pays her two rupees before sending her away. Of this sum, one rupee is paid as buchni for suspicion regarding her chastity, and the other as chatni for driving her away. A divorced woman may remarry.

In the hills, the village headman is called Janni or Nāyako, and in the plains Naidādo. He is assisted by a Kīrasāni, who is also the caste priest.

Concerning the religion of the Gadabas, Mr. H. D. Taylor writes5 that it is “simple, and consists of feasts at stated intervals. The chief festival is Ittakaparva, or hunting feast, in March and April. On this occasion, the whole male population turns out to hunt, and, if they return unsuccessful, the women pelt them with cow-dung on their return to the village; if, however, [250]successful, they have their revenge upon the women in another way. The chief deities (though spoken of generally under the term Dēvata or Mahāprabhu) are Ganga Dēvi or Tākurāni, Iswara or Mouli, Bhairava, and Jhankara. It is Iswara or Mouli who is worshipped at Chaitra. Jhankara is the god of land, rainfall and crops, and a cow is sacrificed to him. There are not, as a rule, temples, but the pūja (worship) place consists of a sacred grove surrounded with a circle of stones, which takes the name of Jhankara from the god to whom pūja is performed. Ganga Dēvi, Iswara and Mouli have temples at certain places, but as a rule there is no building, and the site of pūja is marked by trees and stones. To Iswara a she-buffalo is sacrificed at Chaitra. To the other Dēvatas cocks and goats are sacrificed. Ganga Dēvi or Tākurāni is the goddess of life and health, both of men and cattle; to her pigs, goats, and pigeons are sacrificed. There are one or two curious superstitions. If a member of the caste is supposed to be possessed of a devil, he or she is abused and beaten by other members of the caste until the devil is cast out. In some parts the superstition is that a piece of wild buffalo horn buried in the ground of the village will avert or cure cattle disease.” Sometimes a sāl or kōsangi tree is planted, and surrounded by a bamboo hedge. It is worshipped with animal sacrifices at harvest time, and the Kīrasāni acts as priest.

“There is,” Mr. G. F. Paddison writes, “rather a curious custom in connection with a village goddess. Close to her shrine a swing is kept. On this swing, once a year at the great village festival, thorns are placed, and the village priest or priestess sits on them without harm. If the pūjāri is a male, he has been made neuter. But, if the village is not fortunate enough [251]to possess a eunuch, a woman performs the ceremony. [At the fire-walking ceremony at Nuvagōde in Ganjam, the priest sits on a thorny swing, and is endowed with prophetic powers.] When there is small-pox or other epidemic disease in a village, a little go-cart is built, composed of a box on legs fixed to a small board on wheels. In this box is placed a little clay image, or anything else holy, and carried away to a distant place, and left there. A white flag is hoisted, which looks like quarantine, but is really intended, I think, to draw the goddess back to her shrine. Vaccination is regarded as a religious ceremony, and the Gadabas, I believe, invariably present the vaccinator as the officiating priest with rice.”

The Gadabas, like other hill tribes, name their children after the day of the week on which they are born. On the plains, however, some give their children low-country names, e.g., Rāmudu, Lachigadu, Arjanna, etc.

Males are, as a rule, burnt; but, if a person dies in the night or on a rainy day, the corpse is sometimes buried. Women and children are usually buried, presumably because they are not thought worth the fuel necessary for cremation. Only relations are permitted to touch a corpse. Death pollution is observed for three days, during which the caste occupation must not be engaged in. Stone slabs are erected to the memory of the dead, and sacrifices are offered to them now and again.

The Gadabas have a devil dance, which they are willing to perform before strangers in return for a small present. It has been thus described by Captain Glasfurd.6 “At the time of the Dusserah, Hōli, and other holidays, [252]both men and women dance to the music of a fife and drum. Sometimes they form a ring by joining hands all round, and with a long hop spring towards the centre, and then hop back to the full extent of their arms, while they at the same time keep circling round and round. At other times, the women dance singly or in pairs, their hands resting on each other’s wrists. When fatigued, they cease dancing, and sing. A man steps out of the crowd, and sings a verse or two impromptu. One of the women rejoins, and they sing at each other for a short time. The point of these songs appears to consist in giving the sharpest rejoinder to each other. The woman reflects upon the man’s ungainly appearance and want of skill as a cultivator or huntsman, and the man retorts by reproaching her with her ugliness and slatternly habits.” In connection with dancing, Mr. Henderson writes that “all the Gadaba dancing I have seen was the same as that of the Porjas, and consisted of a sort of women’s march, at times accompanied by a few men who wander round, and occasionally form a ring through which the line of women passes. Sometimes the men get on each other’s shoulders, and so form a sort of two-storied pyramid. The women’s song is comparatively quite melodious.”

In recent years, some Gadabas have emigrated to Assam, to work in the tea-gardens. But emigration has now stopped by edict.

For the information contained in this article, I am mainly indebted to notes by Mr. C. A. Henderson, Mr. W. Francis, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, and the Kumara Rajā of Bobbili.

Gādi (cart).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Gādidhē Kandla (donkey’s eyes).—An exogamous sept of Bōya. [253]

Gādu.—A common suffix to the name of individuals among various Telugu classes, e.g., Rāmigādu, Subbigādu.

Gaduge (throne).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Gaita.—A sub-division of Konda Rāzu.

Gajjal (a small bell).—A sub-division of Toreya.

Gāli.—Gāli or Gālollu, meaning wind, devil, or spirit, is recorded as an exogamous sept of Kamma, Kuruba, and Māla.

Gamalla.—The Gamallas are a class of toddy-drawers, and distillers and vendors of arrack in the Telugu country and are supposed to be Īdigas who have bettered themselves, and separated from that caste. Both Gamallas and Īdigas worship the deity Kāttamayya. At the census, 1891, some returned Īdiga as their sub-division. In the Cuddapah district some toddy-drawers style themselves Asilivāndlu. Possibly the Īdiga, Gamalla, and Asili toddy-drawing classes only represent three endogamous sections of a single caste. In the Nellore district, the toddy-drawers style themselves Gamandla or Gavandlavāndlu, and say that they have one gōtra Kaumandlapu or Gaumandlapu. It is probable that the name Gamandla or Gavandla has been coined by Brāhman purōhits, to connect the caste with Kaumandala Mahārishi of the Purānas. The Gamallas say that they were created to draw toddy by the sage Kavundinya, and that they belong to the Gaundla varnam (caste). I am informed that a Purānam, called Gamandla or Gamudi Purānam, has been created. In the social scale, the toddy-drawers appear to occupy a higher position in the Telugu than in the Tamil country, and they are sometimes said to be Telagas or Balijas, who have adopted toddy-drawing as a profession. The more prosperous members of the community are toddy [254]and arrack (liquor) shop-keepers, and the poorer members extract toddy from the palm-trees.

The Kāpus of the Nellore district employ Gamallas as their cooks and domestic servants, and all menial service and cooking are done by Gamallas in the houses of Kāpus on the occasion of festivals and marriages.

Concerning the origin of the Gamallas, the following legend is current. A Rishi was doing penance by standing on his head, and, like the chamæleon, living on light and air, instead of food. According to some, the Rishi was Kaumandla, while others do not know his name. An Īdiga girl passed by the Rishi, carrying a pot filled with toddy, which polluted the air, so that the Rishi could not continue the penance. Being struck with the girl’s beauty, he followed her to her home, and pointed out to her that she was the cause of his mishap. He asked her to become his wife, but she announced that she was already married. Eventually, however, they became secretly united, and, in consequence, the whole town caught fire. The girl’s husband, returning home with some toddy, was amazed at the sight, and she, to protect him, hid the Rishi in a vat. Into this vat the husband poured the toddy, which made the Rishi breathe hard, so that the toddy, for the first time on record, began to foam. Noticing this, the husband found a lingam, into which the Rishi had been transformed. This lingam was worshipped by the Gamandlas, and they are at the present day Saivites.

Like other Telugu castes, the Gamallas have exogamous septs, such as parvathāla (hills), kudumalu (a cake), annam (cooked rice), and pandhi (pig). Among gōtras, the following may be noted:—kavundinya, kārunya, vāchalya, and surāpāndēsvara (surā pānda, toddy pot). [255]

Marriage is, as a rule, adult, and remarriage of widows is permitted, though the tendency at the present day is to abandon the practice. At the wedding of a widow, the bottu (marriage badge) is tied round her neck at night. Prior to the marriage ceremony, the worship of female ancestors must be performed. A new female cloth, betel, and flowers, are placed on a tray, and worshipped by the mothers of the contracting couple. The cloth is given as a present to a sister or other near relation of the bride or bridegroom.



The dead are cremated, and the widow breaks one or two of her bangles. Fire must be carried to the burning-ground by the father of the deceased, if he is alive. On the day following cremation, the hot embers are extinguished, and the ashes collected, and shaped into an effigy, near the head of which three conical masses of mud and ashes are set up. To these representatives of Rudra, Yama, and the spirit of the departed, cooked rice and vegetables are offered up on three leaves. One of the leaves is given to the Jangam, who officiates at the rite, another to a washerman, and the third is left, so that the food on it may be eaten by crows. All, who are assembled, wait till these birds collect, and the ashes are finally poured on a tree. On the ninth, tenth, or eleventh day after death, a ceremony called the peddadinam (big day) is performed. Cooked rice, curry, meat, and other things, are placed on a leaf inside the house. Sitting near this leaf, the widow weeps and breaks one or two of the glass bangles, which she wears on the wrist. The food is then taken to a stream or tank (pond), where the agnates, after shaving, bathing, and purification, make an effigy of the dead person on the ground. Close to this cooked rice and vegetables are placed on three leaves, and offered to the [256]effigy. The widow’s remaining bangles are broken, and she is presented with a new cloth, called munda koka (widow’s cloth) as a sign of her condition. All Gamallas, rich or poor, engage on this occasion the services of Māla Pambalas and Bainēdus (musicians and story-tellers) to recite the story of the goddess Ankamma. The performance is called Ankamma kolupu. Some of the Mālas make on the ground a design, called muggu, while the others play on the drum, and carry out the recitation. The design must be made in five colours, green (leaves of Cassia auriculata), white (rice flour), red (turmeric and lime), yellow (turmeric), and black (burnt rice-husk). It represents a male and female figure (Vīrulu, heroes), who are supposed to be the person whose peddadinam is being celebrated, and an ancestor of the opposite sex. If the family can afford it, other designs, for example of Ankamma, are also drawn. On the completion of the muggu, cocoanuts, rice, and betel are offered, and a fowl is sacrificed.

Like many other Telugu castes, the Gamallas have a class of beggars, called Eneti, attached to them, for whom a subscription is raised when they turn up.

The Gamallas are mostly Saivites, and their priests are Ārādhya Brāhmans, i.e., Telugu Brāhmans, who have adopted some of the customs of the Lingāyats. They worship a variety of gods and goddesses, who include Pōtharāju, Kātamayya, Gangamma, Mathamma, and Thallamma, or Thadlamma. Once or twice during the year, a pot of toddy is brought from every house to the shrine of Thallamma, and the liquor contained in some of the pots is poured on the floor, and the remainder given to those assembled, irrespective of caste.

At the festival of Dīpāvali, the celebrants bathe in the early morning, and go, in wet clothes, to an ant-hill, [257]before which they prostrate themselves, and pour a little water into one of the holes. Round the hill they wind five turns of cotton thread, and return home. Subsequently they come once more to the ant-hill with a lamp made of flour paste. Carrying the light, they go thrice or five times round the hill, and throw into a hole therein split pulse (Phaseolus Mungo). During the whole of this day they fast. On the following morning they again go to the hill, pour milk into it, and snap the threads wound round it.

Gamalla muggu.

Gamalla muggu.

At the festival of Sankarānthi, the principal member of every family observes the worship of ancestors. Various articles are placed in a room on leaf plates representing the ancestors, who are worshipped by the celebrant after he has been purified by bathing. Taking a little of the food from each leaf, he places it on a single leaf, which is worshipped, and placed in the court-yard, so that the crows may partake thereof. The remainder of the food is distributed among the members of the family.

At the census, 1901, some Gamallas returned themselves as Settigādu (Chetti).

Gampa (basket).—A sub-division of Kamma and Telaga, and an exogamous sept of Oddē. The name, among the Kammas, refers to a deadly struggle at Gandikōta, in which some escaped by hiding in baskets. Gampa dhōmpti is the name of a sub-division of the Mādigas, whose marriage offerings to the god are placed in a basket.

Ganāyata.—Recorded, at times of census, as a sub-division of Lingāyat Jangams in the Nellore, Cuddapah, and Kurnool districts. The Sanskrit word Ganam means Siva’s attendants.

Gandham (sandal paste).—An exogamous sept of Balijas, one sub-division of whom is called Gandhavāllu [258]or Gandhapodi (sandal perfume sellers). The paste made by rubbing sandal (Santalum album) wood on a stone with water is widely used in connection with Hindu ceremonial observance. A Brāhman, for example, after worshipping, smears his body with the paste. At festivals, and other ceremonial occasions, sandal paste is distributed to guests along with betel leaves and areca nuts (pān-supāri). Gandhapodi also occurs as an exogamous sept of Bōya.

Gandikōta.—A sub-division of Kamma. Gandi Kōttei is recorded7 as a sub-division of Kāpu or Reddi, “found only in Madura and Tinnevelly, and also known simply as Kōttei Reddis. Kōttei is the Tamil for a fort, the corresponding Telugu word being kōta. Their females do not appear in public.”

Gāndla.See Gāniga.

Gangadikāra.—Gangadikāra, said doubtfully to mean those who lived on the banks of the Ganges, has been recorded as a sub-division of the Holeyas, Okkiliyans, and Vakkaligas. The name probably refers to Gangavādi, the country of the Gangas, a royal line which ruled over the greater part of the modern Mysore in former times.

Gangeddu.—The Gangeddulu are a class of mendicants, who travel about the country exhibiting performing bulls. “The exhibition of sacred bulls, known as Gangeddulu (Ganga’s bulls) is very common in the towns and villages of Southern India. The presence of the swāmi (god) bull, as he is popularly called, is made known by his keeper playing on a small drum, which emits a dismal, booming sound, in the intervals of addressing his dumb companion in a piercing voice. The bull is led [259]about from house to house, and made to go through several tricks, which he does with evident zest. The keeper in the meanwhile talks to him, and puts questions to him, to which he replies by shakes of his head. He will kneel down in an attitude of worship, with his head inclined to the ground, or he will approach you, and gently rub his nozzle against your hand. Usually a diminutive cow accompanies the bull, and, like him, is grandly attired, and resounds with tinkling bells. She is introduced to the spectators as the bull’s ammagaru, that is consort or spouse. Then a scene between the pair is enacted, the gist of which is that the husband is displeased with the wife, and declines to hold converse with her. As a result of the difference, he resolves to go away, and stalks off in high dudgeon. The keeper attempts to make peace between them, and is rewarded by being charged by the irate husband and knocked down, though no harm is done to him as the animal’s horns are padded. The keeper rises, shakes himself, and complains woefully of the treatment he has received. Indeed, it is only after a great deal of coaxing and wheedling, and promises of buying him endless quantities of rice cakes and other bazaar delicacies, that the bull condescends to return, and a reconciliation is effected.”

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Gangeddulu, Erudāndis, or Perumāl Mādukkārans, often acquire and train deformed male calves. It is a popular superstition that for a family to keep such animals in its possession is to court destruction. Consequently, when one is born, information is sent to a Gangeddu, who, on his arrival, is sumptuously fed. The calf is then washed, and a new cloth tied to its horns. A small present of money is made to the Gangeddu, and he takes the animal away. Temples [260]sometimes dispose of their deformed calves in a similar manner. When the trained animals are exhibited in public, the deformity, which is the hall-mark of a genuine Gangeddu, is shown, usually at the commencement of the performance, or at any time at the bidding of any of the spectators. It is only after the exhibition of the deformity, which is usually concealed within the trappings of the animal, that remuneration, generally in kind, or in old rags and copper coins, is doled out to them. Villagers worship the bulls, when they happen to pass their houses, and, as soon as they enter a village, the females wash the feet of the animals with milk and water. They then adorn their foreheads with kunkumam (aniline powder) and turmeric paste, and burn incense and camphor before them. Cocoanuts, plantains, betel leaves and areca nuts, and money are also offered in a plate, and are the perquisite of the Gangeddu. The bulls are thus venerated, as they represent Basavanna, the sacred bull which is the vehicle of Siva.

The language of the Gangeddulu is Telugu, but those who have migrated to the Tamil country also speak the language of the south. They profess the Vaishnavite religion, and are of the Tengalai persuasion. They have Brāhman gurus (religious preceptors), who reside at Srirangam, Tirupati, and other places. By them the Gangeddulu are branded on the shoulder with the emblems of the chank and chakram, and initiated into the mysteries of the Dāsari priesthood. But, though they call themselves Dāsaris, the Gangeddulu have no marital or other connection with the Dāsaris. In addition to training and exhibiting the performing bulls and cultivating land, the Gangeddulu officiate as Dāsaris in the month of Peratāsi (September-October). Their principal insignia of office are the chank shell, which is [261]blown to announce their arrival, and the iron lamp (called Garudasthambha), which is kept burning, and is said to represent Venkatēsa, the presiding deity at Tirupati. As Dāsaris, little is expected of them, except offering fruits to the god, and assisting at funerals. Several proverbs, of which the following are examples, are current concerning this aspect of their life:—

The mistake of a Dāsari is excused with an apology.

The songs of a Dāsari are known only to the god, i.e., they are unintelligible and unreal.

For the song of a Dāsari alms are the payment, i.e., that is all the song is worth.

Sing again what you have sung, oh! Dāsari with dirty teeth.

When a beggar was asked whether he was a Dāsari or a Jangam, he replied that it depends on the next village. This in reference to his being a time-server.

A Gangeddu mendicant is, like his bulls, picturesquely attired. He is very punctilious about having his sect-mark on the forehead, invariably wears a turban, and his body is clothed in a long white cloth robe. When going about with the performing bulls, the Gangeddulu generally travel in pairs, one carrying a drum, and the other a bell-metal gong. One of them holds in one hand the nose-rope of the bull, and in the other the whip. The bulls are dressed up in a patch work quilt with two eye-holes in it. Of names which are given to the animals, Rāma and Lakshmana are very popular. The tameness of the bulls is referred to in the proverb “As mild as a Gangeddu.”

The Perumāl Mādukkārans, or Perumāl Erudukkārans, both of which names indicate those who lead bulls about, are found chiefly in the Chingleput, North and [262]South Arcot districts. “Every now and then,” Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri writes,8 “throughout Madras, a man dressed up as a buffoon is to be seen leading about a bull, as fantastically got up as himself with cowries (Cypræa arabica shells) and rags of many colours, from door to door. The bull is called in Tamil Perumāl erudu, and in Telugu Ganga eddu, the former meaning Vishnu’s bull and the latter Ganga’s bull. The origin of the first is given in a legend, but that of the last is not clear. The conductors of these bulls are neatherds of high caste, called Pū Idaiyan, i.e., flower neatherds (see Idaiyan), and come from villages in the North and South Arcot districts. They are a simple and ignorant set, who firmly believe that their occupation arises out of a command from the great god Venkatāchalapati, the lord of the Venkatāchala near Tirupaddi (Tirupati) in the North Arcot district. Their legend is as follows. Among the habitual gifts to the Venkatāchala temple at Tirupaddi were all the freaks of nature of the neighbourhood as exhibited in cattle, such as two-tailed cows, five-legged bulls, four-horned calves, and so on. The Pū Idaiyans, whose original duty was to string flowers for the temple, were set to graze these abortions. Now to graze cows is an honour, but to tend such creatures as these the Pū Idaiyans regarded as a sin. So they prayed to Venkatāchalapati to show them how they could purge it away. On this, the god gave them a bull called after himself the Perumāl bull and said: ‘My sons, if you take as much care of this bull as you would of your own children, and lead it from house to house, begging its food, your sin will be washed away.’ Ever since then they have been purging themselves of their [263]original sin. The process is this. The bull leader takes it from house to house, and puts it questions, and the animal shakes its head in reply. This is proof positive that it can reason. The fact is the animal is bought when young for a small sum, and brought up to its profession. Long practice has made its purchasers experts in selecting the animals that will suit them. After purchase the training commences, which consists in pinching the animal’s ears whenever it is given bran, and it soon learns to shake its head at the sight of bran. I need hardly say that a handful of bran is ready in its conductor’s hands when the questions are put to it. It is also taught to butt at any person that speaks angrily to it. As regards the offerings made to these people, one-sixth goes to feeding the bulls, and the remaining five-sixths to the conductors. They look upon it as ‘good work’, but the village boys and girls think it the greatest fun in the world to watch its performances, and the advent of a Vishnu’s bull is hailed by the youngsters with the greatest delight.”

Gangimakkalu.—Gangimakkalu, or Gangaputra, meaning children or sons of Ganga, the goddess of water, is the name of a sub-division of Kabbēra. The allied Gangavamsamu, or people of Ganga, is a name for Jālāris.

Gāniga or Gāndla.—The name Gāniga is derived from the Telugu gānuga, meaning an oil-mill. The Gānigas are said9 to be “the oil pressers of the Canarese people, corresponding to the Telugu Gāndla and the Tamil Vāniyan. This caste is sub-divided into three sections, none of whom eat together or intermarry. These sections are the Heggānigas, who yoke two oxen to a stone oil-mill; Kirgānigas, who make oil in wooden [264]mills; and Ontiyeddu Gānigas, who yoke only one animal to the mill. They are collectively known as Jōtipans or Jōtinagarams (people of the city of light). In addition to pressing oil, they also make palm-leaf umbrellas, cultivate land, and work as labourers. They employ Brāhmans to perform their ceremonies. Their guru is the head of the Vyāsarāya mutt at Ānegundi. Early marriage is practiced. Widow remarriage is not allowed. They eat fish, mutton, and fowls, but do not drink liquor. Chetti is their title.” In the Madras Census Report, 1891, it is stated that the guru of the Gānigas is the head of the mutt at Sringeri, and that they employ Havig Brāhmans for their ceremonies. Sringeri is the name of a Smarta (Saivite) mutt or religious institution at several places, such as Tanjore and Kumbakōnam; and there is a town of this name in Mysore, from which the mutt derives its name.

Concerning the Gānigas of the Mysore Province, Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar writes as follows.10 “The account locally obtained connects this caste with the Nagartās, as forming the leading communities of the left-hand faction, in opposition to the Lingayats and other castes composing the right-hand faction. Caste supremacy is ever associated in India with preternatural mythology. If the average Brāhman traces his nobility literally to the face of Brahma, according to the Vēdic Purusha Sūkta, every other castelet claims a patent of superiority in a similar miraculous origin. The Gānigas allege that they immigrated from the north at a time beyond living memory. A Mysore noble, named Mallarāje Ars, established and first peopled the pēte (market town) of Bangalore, when the Gānigas first came there, [265]followed by the Nagartās, who are said to have been co-emigrants with the Gānigas. Mallarāj made Sattis and Yajamāns (headmen) of the principal members of the two castes, and exempted them from the house-tax. The Gānigas are both Vaishnavites and Saivites. Their guru is known as Dharmasivāchārsvāmi in the Madras Presidency, and certain gōtras (family names) are said to be common to the Gānigas and Nagartās, but they never eat together or intermarry. The Gānigas claim the peculiar privilege of following the Vishnu image or car processions, throughout the province, with flags exhibiting the figures of Hanumān and Garuda, and torches. These insignia are alleged to have been aboriginally given to an ancestor, named Siriyāla Satti, by Rāma, as a reward for a valuable gem presented by him. The Gānigas call themselves Dharmasivāchār Vaisyās like the Nagartās, and the feud between them used often to culminate in much bitter unpleasantness. The order includes a small division of the linga-wearing oilmongers, known as Sajjanā (good men), whose population is a small fraction of the community. The Sajjanās, however, hold no social intercourse of any kind with the other sub-divisions.”

The Gānigas of Sandūr, in the little Marātha State of that name, returned Yenne (oil) and Kallu (stone) as sub-divisions. The average cephalic index of these Gānigas was very high, being 80.5 as against 77.6 for the Gānigas of Mysore city.

“The oil-mill of the Gānigas is,” Mr. W. Francis writes,11 “a sort of large wooden mortar, usually formed out of the heart of a tamarind tree, and firmly imbedded in the ground. A wooden cylinder, shod with iron, fits [266]roughly into the cavity. A cross beam is lashed to this in such a way that one end is close to the ground, and to this a pair of bullocks or buffaloes are fastened. By an arrangement of pullies, the pressure of the cylinder can be increased at pleasure. As the bullocks go round the trough, the seeds are crushed by the action of the cylinder, so that the expressed oil falls to the bottom, while the residuum, as oil-cake, adheres to the side of the mortar.”

The following note refers to the Onteddu (single bullock) Gānigas, who claim superiority over those who employ two bullocks in working their oil-mills. The former belong to the right-hand, and the latter to the left-hand faction. Among them are various sub-divisions, of which the Dēva and Onteddu may intermarry, while the Kasi, Teli (gingelly: Sesamum), and Chandanapu are endogamous. Like other Telugu castes they have gōtras, some of which are interesting, as there are certain prohibitions connected with them. For example, members of the Badranollu and Balanollu gōtras may not cut the tree Erythroxylon monogynum. In like manner, members of the Vīranollu and Viththanollu gōtras are forbidden to cut Feronia elephantum, and those of the Vēdanollu gōtra to cut Nyctanthes arbor-tristis. Members of certain other gōtras do not cultivate turmeric, sugarcane, or the millet (Panicum miliare).

The Onteddu Gānigas are Saivites, and disciples of Lingāyat Brāhmans (Ārādhyas). Some, however, wear the sacred thread, and others bear on the forehead the red streak of the Vaishnavites. In some places, their special deity is Chaudeswara, who is the god of some of the weaving classes. In the Kistna district they claim Mallikārjunasvāmi as their deity. [267]

Their primary occupation is oil-pressing, but some are traders in cotton, oil-seeds, etc., or cultivators. In some localities, the animal which works the oil-mill is not blindfolded, while it is in others, because, it is said, it would otherwise fall down after a few revolutions. Crushing gingelly oil is, according to the Shāstras, a sinful act, but condoned inasmuch as Dēvatas use this oil for lamps, and men in temples. For the removal of the oil-cake, or turning the seeds in the mill, the left hand only is used. Burning the tongue with a piece of gold, as a means of purification after some offence has been committed, is a common practice.

Gānga bride and bridegroom.

Gānga bride and bridegroom.

The marriage rites conform, for the most part, to the Telugu type. But, while the wrist thread is being tied on, common salt is held in the hand. A dagger (bāku) is then given to the bridegroom, who keeps it with him till the conclusion of the ceremonies. On the wedding day, the bridegroom wears the sacred thread. The tāli is not an ordinary bottu, but a thread composed of 101 thin strings, which is removed on the last day, and replaced by a bottu. On the third day, the bride and bridegroom worship a jammi tree (Prosopis spicigera), and the latter, removing his sacred thread, throws it on the tree. Five young men, called Bāla Dāsulu, also worship the tree, and, if they are wearing the sacred thread, throw it thereon. The dead are as a rule buried, in a sitting posture if the deceased was an orthodox Saivite. If a young man dies a bachelor, the corpse is married to an arka plant (Calotropis gigantea), and decorated with a wreath made of the flowers thereof. The final death ceremonies are performed on the eleventh day. Food is offered to crows and the soul of the dead person, who is represented by a wooden post dressed with his clothes. The bangles of a widow are broken [268]near the post, which is finally thrown into a tank or stream.

Gāniga further occurs as an occupational name for Lingāyat oil-vendors, and for Mogers who are employed as oil-pressers.

Ganta.—Ganta or Gantla, meaning a bell, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Kamma and Balija. Gantelavāru, or men of the bell, is given by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri12 as the family name of one section of the Donga (thieving) Dāsaris, and of the Kabbēras, who are said to join the ranks of this criminal class. Gantugāzula occurs, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Koracha. In the Vizagapatam Manual, the Tiragati Gantlavallu are described as repairing hand-mills, catching antelopes, and selling their skins.

Ganti (a hole pierced in the ear-lobe).—An exogamous sept of Gūdala.

Gāradi.—Gāradi or Gāradiga is the name of a class of mendicants in the Telugu country and Mysore who are snake-charmers, practice sleight of hand, and perform various juggling and mountebank tricks.

Garappa (dry land).—A synonym of Challa Yānādi.

Gatti.—A small caste of cultivators, found chiefly near Kumbla and Someswara in the Kasaragod tāluk of South Canara. Other names for the caste are Poladava and Holadava, both signifying men of the field. Like the Bants, they follow the aliya santāna law of inheritance (in the female line), have exogamous septs or balis, and, on the day of the final death ceremonies, construct car-like structures, if the deceased was an important personage in the community. The Bants and Gattis interdine, but do not intermarry. The [269]headman of the Gattis is called Gurikāra. The God of the Someswara temple is regarded as the caste deity, and every family has to pay an annual fee of four annas to this temple. Failure to do so would entail excommunication.

Gattu (bank or mound).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Gaud.—A title of Sādar.

Gauda.—The Gaudas or Gaudos are a large caste of Canarese cultivators and cattle-breeders. “Gauda and Gaudo,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,13 “are really two distinct castes, the former being Canarese and the latter Uriya. Each name is, however, spelt both ways. The two names are, I presume, etymologically the same. The ordinary derivation is from the Sanskrit go, a cow, but Dr. Gustav Oppert contends14 that the root of Gauda is a Dravidian word meaning a mountain. Among the Canarese, and to a less extent among the Uriyas also, the word is used in an honorific sense, a custom which is difficult to account for if Dr. Oppert’s philology is correct.” “Gaudas,” Mr. Stuart writes further,15 “also called Hālvaklumakkalu (children of the milk class), are very numerously represented in the South Canara district. They have a somewhat elaborate system of caste government. In every village there are two headmen, the Grāma Gauda and the Vattu or Gattu Gauda. For every group of eight or nine villages there is another head called the Māganē Gauda, and for every nine Māganēs there is a yet higher authority called the Kattēmanēyava. The caste is divided into eighteen baris or balis, which are of the usual exogamous character. [270]The names of some of these are as follows: Bangāra (gold), Nandara, Malāra (a bundle of glass bangles, as carried about for sale), Sālu, Hemmana (pride or conceit), Kabru, Gōli (Portulaca oleracea, a pot-herb), Basruvōgaru (basru, belly), Balasanna, and Karmannāya. Marriage is usually adult, and sexual license before marriage with a member of the caste is tolerated, though nominally condemned. The dhārē form of marriage (see Bant) is used, but the bridal pair hold in their joined hands five betel leaves, one areca nut and four annas, and, after the water has been poured, the bridegroom ties a tāli to the neck of the bride. Divorce is permitted freely, and divorced wives and widows can marry again. A widow with children, however, should marry only her late husband’s elder brother. If she marries any one else, the members of her former husband’s family will not even drink water that has been touched by her. They burn their dead. On the third day, the ashes are made into the form of a man, which is cut in two, buried, and a mound made over it. In the house two planks are placed on the ground, and covered with a cloth. On one of these, a vessel containing milk is placed, and on the other a lamp, rice, cocoanut, pumpkin, etc., are deposited. The agnates and some boys go round the plank three times, and afterwards go to the mound, taking with them the various articles in a cloth. Three plantain leaves are spread in front of the mound, and cooked food, etc., placed thereon. Four posts are set up round the mound, and cloths stretched over them, and placed round the sides. On the sixteenth day, sixteen plantain leaves are placed in a row, and one leaf is laid apart. Cakes, cooked fowl’s flesh, toddy and arrack (liquor) are placed on the leaves in small leaf-cups. The assembled agnates then say “We have done everything as we should do, and so [271]our ancestors who have died must take the man who is now dead to their regions. I put the leaf which is apart in the same row with the sixteen leaves.”

“Once a year, in the month of Mituna (June-July), the Gaudas perform a ceremony for the propitiation of all deceased ancestors. They have a special preference for Venkatarāmaswāmi, to whom they make money offerings once a year in September. They employ Brāhmins to give them sacred water when they are under pollution, but they do not seek their services for ordinary ceremonies. They are, for the most part, farmers, but some few are labourers. The latter receive three or four seers of paddy a day as wages. Their house language is Tulu in some places, and Canarese in others, but all follow the ordinary system of inheritance, and not the custom of descent through females. Their title is Gauda.”

As bearing on the superstitious beliefs of the people of South Canara, the following case, which was tried before the Sessions Judge in 1908, may be cited. A young Gauda girl became pregnant by her brother-in-law. After three days’ labour, the child was born. The accused, who was the mother of the girl, was the midwife. Finding the delivery very difficult, she sent for a person named Korapulu to come and help her. The child was, as they thought, still-born. On its head was a red protuberance like a ball; round each of its forearms were two or three red bands; the eyes and ears were fixed very high in the head; and the eyes, nose, and mouth were abnormally large. Korapulu and the girl’s younger sister at once carried the mother out of the out-house lest the devil child should do her harm or kill her. The accused called for a man named Isuf Saiba, who was standing in the yard outside. He came in, and she asked him to call some of the neighbours, to decide [272]what to do. The child, she said, was a devil child, and must be cut and killed, lest it should devour its mother. While they were looking at the child, it began to move and roll its eyes about, and turn on the ground. It is a belief of the villagers that such a devil child, when born and brought in contact with the air, rapidly grows, and causes great trouble, usually killing the mother, and sometimes killing all the inmates of the house. The accused told Isuf Saiba to cover the child with a vessel, which he did. Then there was a sound from inside the vessel, either of the child moving or making some sound with its mouth. The accused then put her hand under the vessel, dragged the child half way out, and then, while Isuf Saiba pressed the edge of the earthenware vessel on the abdomen of the child, the accused took a knife, and cut the body in half. When the body was cut in two, there was no blood, but a mossy green liquid, or a black liquid, oozed out. The accused got two areca leaves, and put one piece of the child on one, and one on the other, and told Isuf Saiba to get a spade, and come and bury them. So they went out into the jungle close to the house, and Isuf Saiba dug two holes about half a yard deep, one on one hillock, and one on another. In these two holes the two pieces of the child were separately buried. The object of this was to prevent the two pieces joining together again, in which case the united devil child would have come out of the grave, and gone to kill its mother. The birth and death of this devil child were not kept secret, but were known throughout the village.

Gauda or Gaudu further occurs as a title of Īdiga, Kuruba, and Vakkaliga, an exogamous sept and gōtra of Kuruba and Kurni, and a sub-division of Golla.

Gaudi.—It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that a Maleru (temple servant) woman, [273]who cohabits with one of a lower class than her own, is degraded into a Gaudi.

Gaudo.—The Gaudos are described, in the Madras Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, as “the great pastoral caste of the Ganjam Oriyas. Like those of all the cowherd classes, its members say that they are descended from the Yādava tribe, in which Krishna was born (cf. Idaiyan). The majority of the Gaudos in the northern districts are now cultivators, but there is evidence that the keeping and breeding of cattle is their traditional occupation. The most important sub-division is Sollokhondia; many of them are herdsmen and milk-sellers. Fourteen sub-divisions have been reported. They are Apoto, Bēhara, Bolodiya, Dongāyato, Dumālo, Gōpopuriya, Kolāta, Komiriya, Kusilya, Lādia, Madhurāpurya, Mogotho, Pattilia, and Sollokhondia.” In the Census Report, 1871, it is noted that “there are many Gowdus of high social standing, who have gotten unto themselves much wealth in cattle. These men own, in many instances, large herds of buffaloes, which, being reared in the boundless pastures of the hills, are much prized by the cartmen of the low country for draught purposes.”

Of the sub-division noted above, Bēhara is apparently a title only. Bolodiya is the name of a section of the Tellis, who use pack-bullocks (bolodi, a bull) for carrying grain about the country. Pattilia must be a mistake for Pachilia. The sections among the Gaudos which are recognised by all castes in the Ganjam district are Sollokhondia, Bhatta, Gōpopuriya, Madhurāpuriya, Mogotho, Apoto, and Pachilia. These, with the exception of Gōpopuriya and Madhurāpuriya, seem to be endogamous sub-divisions. The Bhatta Gaudos go by the name of Gōpopuriya in some places and Madhurāpuriya in others, both these names being connected with [274]the legendary history of the origin of the caste. The Apoto and Bhatta Gaudos are sometimes employed as palanquin-bearers. The Mogotho Gaudos, who live on the hills, are regarded as an inferior section, because they do not abstain from eating fowls. The Sollokhondia section is regarded as superior, and consequently all Oriya castes, Brāhman and non-Brāhman, will accept water at the hands of members thereof. An orthodox Oriya non-Brāhman, and all Oriya Brāhmans, will not receive water from Telugu or Tamil Brāhmans, whom they call Komma Brāhmans, Komma being a corrupt form of karma, i.e., Brāhmans who are strict in the observance of the various karmas (ceremonial rites).

The Sollokhondia Gaudos are agriculturists, rear cattle and sheep, and sometimes earn a living by driving carts. They have gōtras, among which the most common are Moiro (peacock), Nāgasiro (cobra), and Kochimo (tortoise). Their caste council is presided over by a hereditary headman called Mahānkudo, who is assisted by a Bhollobaya, Desiya, and Khorsodha or Dhondia. The Khorsodha is the caste servant, and the Desiya eats with a delinquent who is received back into the fold after he has been tried by the council. The Sollokhondias are for the most part Paramarthos, i.e., followers of the Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism. They show a partiality for the worship of Jagannāthaswāmi, and various Tākurānis (village deities) are also reverenced. Bairāgis are the caste priests.

The marriage prohibitions among the Sollokhondias are those which hold good among many Oriya castes, but marriage with the maternal uncle’s daughter (mēnarikam) is sometimes practiced. On the evening preceding the marriage day (bibha), after a feast, the bride and bridegroom’s parties go to a temple, taking with [275]them all the articles which are to be used in connection with the marriage ceremonial. On their way back, seven married girls, carrying seven vessels, go to seven houses, and beg water, which is used by the bridal couple for their baths on the following day. Either on the day before the wedding day, or on the bibha day, the bridegroom is shaved, and the bride’s nails are pared. Sometimes a little of the hair of her forehead is also cut off. The marriage rites do not materially differ from those of the Bhondāris (q.v.).

The dead, excepting young children, are burnt. The eldest son carries a pot of fire to the burning ground. On the day following cremation, the mourners revisit the spot, and, after the fire has been extinguished, make an image of a man with the ashes on the spot where the corpse was burnt. To this image food is offered. Seven small flags, made of cloths dyed with turmeric, are stuck into the shoulders, abdomen, legs, and head of the image. A fragment of calcined bone is carried away, put into a lump of cow-dung, and kept near the house of the deceased, or near a tank (pond). On the ninth day after death, towards evening, a bamboo, split or spliced into four at one end, is set up in the ground outside the house beneath the projecting roof, and on it a pot filled with water is placed. On the spot where the deceased breathed his last, a lamp is kept. A hole is made in the bottom of the pot, and, after food has been offered to the dead man, the pot is thrown into a tank. On the tenth day, a ceremony is performed on a tank bund (embankment). The piece of bone, which has been preserved, is removed from its cow-dung case, and food, fruits, etc., are offered to it, and thrown into the tank. The bone is taken home, and buried near the house, food being offered to it until the twelfth day. On [276]the eleventh day, all the agnates bathe, and are touched with ghī (clarified butter) as a sign of purification. Srādh (memorial service) is performed once a year on Sankarānthi (Pongal) day. Food, in the form of balls, is placed on leaves in the backyard, and offered to the ancestors. Some food is also thrown up into the air.

All sections of the Gaudos have adopted infant marriage. If a girl fails to secure a husband before she attains puberty, she has to go through a form of marriage called dharma bibha, in which the bridegroom is, among the Sollokhondias, represented by an old man, preferably the girl’s grandfather, and among the other sections by a sahāda or shādi tree (Streblus asper) or an arrow (khando).

Like various other Oriya castes, the Gaudos worship the goddess Lakshmi on Thursdays in the month of November, which are called Lakshmi varam, or Lakshmi’s day. The goddess is represented by a basket filled with grain, whereon some place a hair ball, which has been vomited by a cow. The ball is called gāya panghula, and is usually one or two inches in diameter. The owner of a cow which has vomited such a ball regards it as a propitious augury for the prosperity of his family. A feast is held on the day on which the ball is vomited, and, after the ball has been worshipped, it is carefully wrapped up, and kept in a box, in which it remains till it is required for further worship. Some people believe that the ball continues to grow year by year, and regard this as a very good sign. Bulls are said not to vomit the balls, and only very few cows do so.

Gauliar.—A synonym for Lingāyat Gollas, or Kannadiyans.

Gaundala.—A synonym of Gamalla. [277]

Gauri.—A division of Okkiliyan, named after Gauri, Siva’s consort. The equivalent Gaura occurs among the Kōmatis, and Gauriga among the Mēdaras. One division of the Kabbēras is called Gaurimakkalu, or sons of Gauri.

Gautama.—A Brāhmanical gōtra adopted by Bhatrāzus, Khatris, and Kondaiyamkōttai Maravans. Gautama was a sage, and the husband of Ahalya, who was seduced by Indra.

Gavala (cowry shell: Cypræa arabica).—An exogamous sept of Mādiga. A cotton thread string, with cowries strung on it, is one of the insignia of a Mādiga Mātangi.

Gavalla.—A synonym for Gamalla.

Gavara.—It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that “this caste is practically confined to the Vizagapatam district, and they have been classed as cultivators on the strength of a statement to that effect in the District Manual. Gavara is, however, an important sub-division of Kōmatis (traders), and these Gavaras are probably in reality Gavara Kōmatis. These are so called after Gauri, the patron deity of this caste.”

For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. A tradition is current that the Gavaras originally lived at Vēngi, the ancient capital of the Eastern Chālukyan kings, the ruins of which are near Ellore in the Godāvari district. The king was desirous of seeing one of their women, who was gōsha (in seclusion), but to this they would not consent. Under orders from the king, their houses were set on fire. Some of them bolted themselves in, and perished bravely, while others locked up their women in big boxes, and escaped with them to the coast. They immediately set sail, and landed at Pūdimadaka in the [278]Anakāpalli tāluk. Thence they marched as far as Kondakirla, near which they founded the village of Wādapalli or Wōdapalli, meaning the village of the people who came in boats. They then built another village called Gavarla Anakāpalli. They received an invitation from king Pāyaka Rao, the founder of Anakāpalli, and, moving northwards, established themselves at what is now known as Gavarapēta in the town of Anakāpalli. They began the foundation of the village auspiciously by consecrating and planting the sandra karra (Acacia sundra), which is not affected by ‘white-ants,’ instead of the pāla karra (Mimusops hexandra), which is generally used for this purpose. Consequently, Anakāpalli has always flourished.

The Gavaras speak Telugu, and, like other Telugu castes, have various exogamous septs or intipērulu.

Girls are married either before or after puberty. The custom of mēnarikam, by which a man marries his maternal uncle’s daughter, is in force, and it is said that he may also marry his sister’s daughter. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and a woman who has had seven husbands is known as Beththamma, and is much respected.

Some Gavaras are Vaishnavites, and others Saivites, but difference in religion is no bar to intermarriage. Both sections worship the village deities, to whom animal sacrifices are offered. The Vaishnavites show special reverence to Jagganāthaswāmi of Orissa, whose shrine is visited by some, while others take vows in the name of this god. On the day on which the car festival is celebrated at Pūri, local car festivals are held in Gavara villages, and women carry out the performance of their vows. A woman, for example, who is under a vow, in order that she may be cured of illness or bear [279]children, takes a big pot of water, and, placing it on her head, dances frantically before the god, through whose influence the water, which rises out of the pot, falls back into it, instead of being spilt.

The Vaishnavites are burnt, and the Saivites buried in a sitting posture. The usual chinna (little) and pedda rōzu (big day) death ceremonies are performed.

Men wear a gold bangle on the left wrist, and another on the right arm. Women wear a silver bangle on the right wrist, and a bracelet of real or imitation coral, which is first worn at the time of marriage, on the left wrist. They throw the end of their body-cloth over the left shoulder. They do not, like women of other non-Brāhman castes in the Vizagapatam district, smoke cigars.

The original occupation of the caste is said to have been trading, and this may account for the number of exogamous septs which are named after Settis (traders). At the present day, the Gavaras are agriculturists, and they have the reputation of being very hard-working, and among the best agriculturists in the Vizagapatam district. The women travel long distances in order to sell vegetables, milk, curds, and other produce.

The caste titles are Anna, Ayya, and occasionally Nāyudu.

Gāya (cow).—An exogamous sept of Kondra.

Gayinta.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small caste of hill cultivators, speaking Oriya and Telugu. The name is said to be derived from gayinti, an iron digging implement. Gayinta is reported to be the same as Gaintia, a name of Enētis or Entamaras.

Gāzula.—Gāzula or Gazul (glass bangle) has been recorded as a sub-division of Balija, Kāpu, and Toreya. The Gāzula Balijas make glass bangles. The Toreyas [280]have a tradition that they originated from the bangles of Machyagandhi, the daughter of a fisherman on the Jumna, who was married to king Shantanu of Hastinapūr.

Gēdala (buffaloes).—A sept of Bonthuk Savara.

Geddam (beard).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Padma Sālē.

Gejjala (bells tied to the legs while dancing).—An exogamous sept of Balija and Korava.

Gejjēgāra.—A sub-caste of the Canarese Pānchālas. They are described, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, as makers of small round bells (gungru), which are used for decorating the head or neck of bullocks, and tied by dancing-girls round their ankles when dancing.

Gennēru (sweet-scented oleander).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Gentoo.—Gentoo or Jentu, as returned at times of census, is stated to be a general term applied to Balijas and Telugu speaking Sūdras generally. The word is said by Yule and Burnell16 to be “a corruption of the Portuguese Gentio, a gentile or heathen, which they applied to the Hindus in contradistinction to the Moros or Moors, i.e., Mahomedans. The reason why the term became specifically applied to the Telugu people is probably because, when the Portuguese arrived, the Telugu monarchy of Vijayanagar was dominant over a great part of the peninsula.” In a letter written from prison to Sir Philip Francis, Rājah Nuncomar referred to the fact that “among the English gentry, Armenians, Moores and Gentoos, few there is who is not against me.” Gentoo still survives as a caste name in the Madras Quarterly Civil List (1906). [281]

Ghair-i-Mahdī.—The name, meaning without Mahdī, of a sect of Muhammadans, who affirm that the Imām Mahdī has come and gone, while orthodox Muhammadans hold that he is yet to come.

Ghāsi.See Haddi.

Ghontoro.—A small caste of Oriyas, who manufacture brass and bell-metal rings and bangles for the hill people. The name is derived from ghonto, a bell-metal plate.

Gidda (vulture).—A sept of Poroja.

Gikkili (rattle).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Giri Rāzu.—A contraction of Puragiri Rāzu or Puragiri Kshatriya, by which names some Perikes style themselves.

Goa.—A sub-division of Kudubis, who are said to have emigrated from Goa to South Canara.

Gō Brāhman.—A name given to Brāhmans by Kammālans, who style themselves Visva Brāhmans.

Gōdagula.—The Gōdagulas are recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being the same as the Gūdalas, who are a Telugu caste of basket-makers. According to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, to whom I am indebted for the following note, they are a distinct caste, speaking Oriya, and sometimes calling themselves Oddē (Oriya) Mēdara. Like the Mēdaras, they work in split bamboo, and make sundry articles which are not made by other castes who work in this medium. Unlike the Gūdalas, they are a polluting class, and have the following legend to account for their social degradation. God told them to make winnows and other articles for divine worship. This, they did, and, after they had delivered them, they attended a marriage feast, at which they eat flesh and drank liquor. On their return, God called on them to vomit the food which they had partaken of, and [282]they accordingly brought up the meat and drink, whereon God cursed them, saying “Begone, you have eaten forbidden food.” They craved for forgiveness, but were told in future to earn their living as bamboo-workers. The custom of mēnarikam, according to which a man should marry his maternal uncle’s daughter, is so rigidly enforced that, if the uncle refuses to give his daughter in marriage, the man has a right to carry her off, and then pay a fine, the amount of which is fixed by the caste council. A portion thereof is given to the girl’s parents, and the remainder spent on a caste feast. If the maternal uncle has no daughter, a man may, according to the ēduru (or reversed) mēnarikam custom, marry his paternal aunt’s daughter. Six months before the marriage ceremony takes place, the pasupu (turmeric) ceremony is performed. The bridegroom’s family pay six rupees to the bride’s family, to provide the girl with turmeric, wherewith she adorns herself. On the day fixed for the wedding, the parents of the bridegroom go with a few of the elders to the bride’s house, and couple the request to take away the girl with payment of nine rupees and a new cloth. Of the money thus given, eight rupees go to the bride’s parents, and the remainder to the caste. The bride is conducted to the home of the bridegroom, who meets her at the pandal (booth) erected in front of his house. They are bathed with turmeric water, and sacred threads are put on their shoulders by the Kula Maistri who officiates as priest. The couple then play with seven cowry (Cyprœa arabica) shells, and, if the shells fall with the slit downwards, the bride is said to have won; otherwise the bridegroom is the winner. This is followed by the mūdu ākula hōmam, or sacrifice of three leaves. A new pot, containing a lighted wick, is placed before the [283]couple. On it are thrown leaves of the rāyi āku (Ficus religiosa), marri āku (Ficus Bengalensis), and juvvi āku (Ficus Tsiela). The Kula Maistri of the bridegroom’s party spreads out his right hand over the mouth of the pot. On it the bride places her hand. The bridegroom then places his hand on hers, and the Kula Maistri of the bride’s village puts his hand on that of the bridegroom. The elders then call out in a loud voice “Know, caste people of Vaddādi Mādugula; know, caste people of Kimedi; know, caste people of Gunupuram and Godairi; know, caste people of all the twelve countries, that this man and woman have become husband and wife, and that the elders have ratified the ceremony.” The contracting couple then throw rice over each other. On the morning of the following day, the saragatha ceremony is performed. The bridegroom’s party repair to the bank of the local stream, where they are met by the caste people, who are presented with betel, a cheroot, and a pot of jaggery (crude sugar) water as cool drink. The sacred threads worn by the bride and bridegroom are removed at the conclusion of the marriage ceremonies. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and a younger brother may marry the widow of an elder brother, or vice versâ. Divorce is also allowed, and a divorcée may remarry. Her new husband has to pay a sum of money, a portion of which goes to the first husband, while the remainder is devoted to a caste feast. The dead are burnt, and the chinna rōzu (little day) death ceremony is observed.

Gōda-jāti (wall people).—A sub-division of Kammas. The name has reference to a deadly struggle at Gandikōta, in which some escaped by hiding behind a wall.

Gōda-poose (wall polishing).—An exogamous sept of Tsākala. [284]

Gōdāri.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as Telugu leather-workers in Ganjam and Vizagapatam. They are stated, in the Vizagapatam Manual, to make and sell slippers in that district. Gōdāri is, I gather, a synonym of Mādiga, and not a separate caste.

Goddali (spade or axe).—An exogamous sept of Oddē and Panta Reddi.

Gōdomālia (belonging to, or a group of forts).—A sub-division of Bhondāri, the members of which act as barbers to Rājahs who reside in forts.

Gōlaka.—Recorded in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a name meaning bastard, and clubbed with the Moilis, or temple servants in South Canara descended from dancing-girls. In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, it is defined as a term applied to the children of Brāhmans by Malerus, or temple servants.

Gōli (Portulaca oleracea: a pot-herb).—An exogamous sept of Gauda.

Gōlkonda.—A sub-division of Tsākala.

Golla.—“The Gollas,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,17 “are the great pastoral caste of the Telugu people. The traditions of the caste give a descent from the god Krishna, whose sportings with the milk maids play a prominent part in Hindu mythology. The hereditary occupation of the Gollas is tending sheep and cattle, and selling milk, but many of them have now acquired lands and are engaged in farming, and some are in Government service. They are quiet, inoffensive, and comparatively honest. In the time of the Nabobs, this last characteristic secured to them the privilege of guarding and carrying treasure, and one sub-division, Bokhasa Gollas, owes its origin to this service. Even [285]now those who are employed in packing and lifting bags of money in the district treasuries are called Gollas, though they belong to other castes. As a fact they do hold a respectable position, and, though poor, are not looked down upon, for they tend the sacred cow. Sometimes they assert a claim to be regarded as representatives of the Gō-Vaisya division. Their title is Mandādi, but it is not commonly used.” Mr. Stuart writes further18 that “the social status of the Gollas is fairly high, for they are allowed to mix freely with the Kāpu, Kamma, and Balija castes, and the Brāhmans will take buttermilk from their hands. They employ Sātānis as their priests. In their ceremonies there is not much difference between them and the Kāpus. The name Golla is generally supposed to be a shortened form of Sanskrit Gōpāla” (protector of cows). The Gollas also call themselves Kōnānulu, or Kōnarlu, and, like the Tamil Idaiyans, sometimes have the title Kōnar. Other titles in common use are Anna, Ayya, and occasionally Nayudu.

In the Manual of the Kurnool district, it is stated that the Gollas “keep sheep, and sell milk and ghī (clarified butter). They eat and mess with the Balijas, and other high caste Sūdras; but, unlike their brethren of the south, in the matter of street processions, they are classed with goldsmiths, or the left-hand section. When any one is reduced to poverty, the others give him each a sheep, and restore his flock. They occasionally dedicate their girls to Venkatēsa as Basavis” (prostitutes).

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district, that “in the country round Mādgole, legends are still recounted of a line of local Golla chieftains, who [286]gave their name to Golgonda, and built the forts, of which traces still survive in those parts”. Each Telugu New Year’s day, it is stated, Gollas come across from Godāvari, and go round the Golla villages, reciting the names of the progenitors of the fallen line, and exhibiting paintings illustrative of their overthrow.

“At Vajragada (diamond fort) are the ruins of a very large fortress, and local tradition gives the names of seven forts, by which it was once defended. These are said to have been constructed by the Golla kings. A tale is told of their having kidnapped a daughter of the ruler of Mādgole, and held out here against his attacks for months, until they were betrayed by a woman of their own caste, who showed the enemy how to cut off their water-supply. They then slew their womenkind, says the story, dashed out against the besiegers, and fell to a man, fighting to the last.”

Concerning the Gollas of Mysore, I gather19 that “there are two main divisions in this caste, viz., Ūru (village) and Kādu (forest). The two neither intermarry, nor eat together. A section of the Gollas, by guarding treasure while on transit, have earned the name of Dhanapāla. In fact, one of the menial offices in Government treasuries at the present day is that of Golla. The caste worships Krishna, who was born in this caste. The Kādu Gollas are said to have originally immigrated from Northern India, and are still a nomadic tribe, living in thatched huts outside the villages. Some of their social customs are akin to those of the Kādu Kurubas. It is said that, on the occurrence of a childbirth, the mother with the babe remains unattended in a small shed outside the village from seven to thirty days, [287]when she is taken back to her home. In the event of her illness, none of the caste will attend on her, but a Nāyak (Bēda) woman is engaged to do so. Marriages among them are likewise performed in a temporary shed erected outside the village, and the attendant festivities continue for five days, when the marriage couple are brought into the village. The Golla is allowed to marry as many wives as he likes, and puberty is no bar to marriage. They eat flesh, and drink spirituous liquors. The wife cannot be divorced except for adultery. Their females do not wear the bodice (ravikē) usually put on by the women of the country. Nor do they, in their widowhood, remove or break the glass bangles worn at the wrists, as is done in other castes. But widows are not allowed to remarry. Only 98 persons have returned gōtras, the chief being Yādava, Karadi, Atrēya, and Amswasa. The first two are really sub-sects, while Atrēya is the name of a Brāhmin Rishi.” Yādava, or descendant of King Yādu, from whom Krishna was descended, also occurs as a synonym for Idaiyan, the great Tamil shepherd class.

Golla juggler.

Golla juggler.

Concerning the Adivi, or forest Gollas, Mr. F. Fawcett writes as follows.20 “The people of every house in the village let loose a sheep, to wander whither it will, as a sort of perpetual scapegoat. When a woman feels the first pains of labour, she is turned out of the village into a little leaf or mat hut about two hundred yards away. In this hut she must bring forth her offspring unaided, unless a midwife can be called in to be with her before the child is born. For ninety days the woman lives in the hut by herself. If any one touches her, he or she is, like the woman, outcasted, and turned [288]out of the village for three months. The woman’s husband generally makes a little hut about fifty yards from her, and watches over her; but he may not go near her on pain of being outcasted for three months. Food is placed on the ground near the woman’s hut, and she takes it. On the fourth day after parturition, a woman of the village goes to her, and pours water on her, but she must not come in contact with her. On the fifth day, the village people clear of stones and thorny bushes a little bit of ground about ten yards on the village side of the hut, and to this place the woman removes her hut. No one can do it for her, or help her. On the ninth, fifteenth, and thirtieth days, she removes the hut in the same way nearer to the village, and, again, once in each of the two following months. On the ninetieth day, the headman of the village calls the woman to come out of the hut. The dhōbi (washerman) then washes her clothes. She puts on clean clothes, and the headman takes her to the temple of their tutelary deity Junjappa, where the caste pūjari breaks cocoanuts, and then accompanies her to her house, where a purificatory ceremony is performed. Junjappa, it is said, takes good care of the mother and child, so that death is said to be unknown.”

It is stated21 that, in the Chitaldrūg district of Mysore, “the wife of the eldest son in every family is not permitted to clean herself with water after obeying the calls of nature. It is an article of their belief that their flocks will otherwise not prosper.”

Writing in the early part of the last century about the Gollas, Buchanan informs us that “this caste has a particular duty, the transporting of money, both belonging [289]to the public and to individuals. It is said that they may be safely intrusted with any sum; for, each man carrying a certain value, they travel in bodies numerous in proportion to the sum put under their charge; and they consider themselves bound in honour to die in defence of their trust. Of course, they defend themselves vigorously, and are all armed; so that robbers never venture to attack them. They have hereditary chiefs called Gotugaru, who with the usual council settle all disputes, and punish all transgressions against the rules of caste. The most flagrant is the embezzlement of money entrusted to their care. On this crime being proved against any of the caste, the Gotugaru applies to Amildar, or civil magistrate, and having obtained his leave, immediately causes the delinquent to be shot. Smaller offences are atoned for by the guilty person giving an entertainment.”

The Golla caste has many sub-divisions, of which the following are examples:—

Erra or Yerra (red). Said to be the descendants of a Brāhman by a Golla woman.

Āla or Mēkala, who tend sheep and goats.

Pūja or Puni.

Gangeddu, who exhibit performing bulls.

Gauda, who, in Vizagapatam, visit the western part of the district during the summer months, and settle outside the villages. They tend their herds, and sell milk and curds to the villagers.



Rācha (royal).

Peddeti. Mostly beggars, and considered low in the social scale, though when questioned concerning themselves they say they are Yerra Gollas.


At the census, 1901, the following were returned as sub-castes of the Gollas:—

Dayyālakulam (wrestlers), Perike Muggalu or Mushti Golla (beggars and exorcists), Podapōtula (who beg from Gollas), Gavādi, and Vadugāyan, a Tamil synonym for Gollas in Tinnevelly. Another Tamil synonym for Golla is Bokhisha Vadugar (treasury northerners). Golla has been given as a sub-division of Dāsaris and Chakkiliyans, and Golla Woddar (Oddē) as a synonym of a thief class in the Telugu country. In a village near Dummagudem in the Godāvari district, the Rev. J. Cain writes,22 are “a few families of Bāsava Gollalu. I find they are really Kois, whose grandfathers had a quarrel with, and separated from, their neighbours. Some of the present members of the families are anxious to be re-admitted to the society and privileges of the neighbouring Kois. The word Bāsava is commonly said to be derived from bhāsha, a language, and the Gollas of this class are said to have been so called in consequence of their speaking a different language from the rest of the Gollas.”

Like many other Telugu castes, the Gollas have exogamous septs or intipēru, and gōtras. As examples of the former, the following may be quoted:—

  • Agni, fire.
  • Āvula, cows.
  • Chinthala, tamarind.
  • Chevvula, ears.
  • Gundala, stones.
  • Gurram, horse.
  • Gorrela, sheep.
  • Gōrantla, henna (Lawsonia alba).
  • Kōkala, woman’s cloth.
  • Katāri, dagger.
  • Mūgi, dumb.
  • Nakkala, jackal.
  • Saddikūdu, cold rice or food.
  • Sēvala, service.
  • Ullipōyala, onions.
  • Vankāyala, brinjal (Solanum melongena).


Some of these sept names occur among other classes, as follows:—

  • Āvula, Balijas, Kāpus, and Yerukalas.
  • Chinthala, Dēvāngas, Kōmatis, Mālas, and Mādigas.
  • Gōrantla, Padma Sālēs.
  • Gorrela, Kammas, Kāpus.
  • Gurram, Mālas, Padma Sālēs, and Tōgatas.
  • Nakkala, Kāttu Marāthis, and Yānādis.

Those who belong to the Rāghindala (Ficus religiosa) gōtra are not allowed to use the leaves of the sacred fig or pīpal tree as plates for their food. Members of the Pālāvili gōtra never construct pālāvili, or small booths, inside the house for the purpose of worship. Those who belong to the Akshathayya gōtra are said to avoid rice coloured with turmeric or other powder (akshantalu). Members of the Kommi, Jammi, and Mūshti gōtras avoid using the kommi tree, Prosopis spicigera, and Strychnos Nux-vomica respectively.

Of the various sub-divisions, the Pūja Gollas claim superiority over the others. Their origin is traced to Simhādri Rāju, who is supposed to have been a descendant of Yayāthi Rāja of the Mahābaratha. Yayāthi had six sons, the last of whom had a son named Kariyāvala, whose descendants were as follows:—

Diagram of descendants of Kariyāvala.

The Gollas are believed to be descended from the four last kings. [292]

According to another legend, there were five brothers, named Pōli Rāju, Erranoku Rāju, Kātama Rāju, Peddi Rāju, and Errayya Rāju, who lived at Yellamanchili, which, as well as Sarvasiddhi, they built. The Rājas of Nellore advanced against them, and killed them, with all their sheep, in battle. On this, Janagamayya, the son of Peddi Rāju, who escaped the general slaughter, made up his mind to go to Kāsi (Benares), and offer oblations to his dead father and uncles. This he did, and the gods were so pleased with him that they transported him in the air to his native place. He was followed by three persons, viz., (1) Kulagentadu, whose descendants now recite the names of the progenitors of the caste; (2) Podapōttu (or juggler), whose descendants carry metal bells, sing, and produce snakes by magic; (3) Thēvasīyadu, whose descendants paint the events which led to the destruction of the Golla royalty on large cloths, and exhibit them to the Gollas once a year. At the time when Janagamayya was translated to heaven, they asked him how they were to earn their living, and he advised them to perform the duties indicated, and beg from the caste. Even at the present day, their descendants go round the country once a year, after the Telugu New Year’s day, and collect their dues from Golla villages.

By religion the Gollas are both Vallamulu (Vaishnavites) and Striramanthulu (Saivites), between whom marriage is permissible. They belong to the group of castes who take part in the worship of Ankamma. A special feature of their worship is that they place in a bamboo or rattan box three or four long whip-like ropes made of cotton or Agave fibre, along with swords, sandals and idols. The ropes are called Vīrathādlu, or heroes’ ropes. The contents of the box are set beneath [293]a booth made of split bamboo (pālāvili), and decorated with mango leaves, and flowers. There also is placed a pot containing several smaller pots, cowry shells, metal and earthenware sandals, and the image of a bull called bolli-āvu (bull idol). When not required for the purpose of worship, the idols are hung up in a room, which may not be entered by any one under pollution.

Golla Ganga muggu.

Golla Ganga muggu.

Some Karna Gollas earn their living by selling poultry, or by going about the country carrying on their head a small box containing idols and Vīrathādlu. Placing this at the end of a street, they do puja (worship) before it, and walk up and down with a rope, with which they flagellate themselves. As they carry the gods (Dēvarlu) about, these people are called Dēvara vallu.

As the Gollas belong to the left-hand section, the Pedda Golla, or headman, has only a Mādiga as his assistant.

At the marriages of Mutrāchas, Mādigas, and some other classes, a form of worship called Vīrala pūja is performed with the object of propitiating heroes or ancestors (vīralu). A kindred ceremony, called Ganga pūja, is carried out by the Gollas, the expenses of which amount to about a hundred rupees. This Ganga worship lasts over three days, during which nine patterns, called muggu, are drawn on the floor in five colours, and represent dhāmarapadmam (lotus flower), pālāvili (booth), sulālu (tridents), sesha panpu (serpent’s play?), alugula simhāsanam (throne of Sakti), Vīradu pērantālu (hero and his wife), Rānivasam (Rāni’s palace), bōnala (food), and Ganga. The last is a female figure, and probably represents Ganga, the goddess of water, though one of the Golla ancestors was named Gangi Rāju. The patterns must be drawn by Mādigas or Mālas. [294]Three Pambalas, or Mādigas skilled in this work, and in reciting the stories of various gods and goddesses, commence their work on the afternoon of the third day, and use white powder (rice flour), and powders coloured yellow (turmeric), red (turmeric and chunam), green (leaves of Cassia auriculata), and black (charred rice husk). On an occasion when my assistant was present, the designs were drawn on the floor of the courtyard of the house, which was roofed over. During the preparation of the designs, people were excluded from the yard, as some ill-luck, especially an attack of fever, would befall more particularly boys and those of feeble mind, if they caught sight of the muggu before the drishti thīyadam, or ceremony for removing the evil eye has been performed. Near the head of the figure of Ganga, when completed, was placed an old bamboo box, regarded as a god, containing idols, ropes, betel, flowers, and small swords. Close to the box, and on the right side of the figure, an earthen tray, containing a lighted wick fed with ghī (clarified butter) was set. On the left side were deposited a kalasam (brass vessel) representing Siva, a row of chembus (vessels) called bōnalu (food vessels), and a small empty box tied up in a cloth dyed with turmeric, and called Brammayya. Between these articles and the figure, a sword was laid. Several heaps of food were piled up on the figure, and masses of rice placed near the head and feet. In addition, a conical mass of food was heaped up on the right side of the figure, and cakes were stuck into it. All round this were placed smaller conical piles of food, into which broomsticks decorated with betel leaves were thrust. Masses of food, scooped out and converted into lamps, were arranged in various places, and betel leaves and nuts scattered all over the figure. Towards the feet [295]were set a chembu filled with water, a lump of food coloured red, and incense. The preparations concluded, three Gollas stood near the feet of the figure, and took hold of the red food, over which water had been sprinkled, the incense and a fowl. The food and incense were then waved in front of the figure, and the fowl, after it had been smoked by the incense, and waved over the figure, had its neck wrung. This was followed by the breaking of a cocoanut, and offering fruits and other things. The three men then fell prostrate on the ground before the figure, and saluted the goddess. One of them, an old man, tied little bells round his legs, and stood mute for a time. Gradually he began to perspire, and those present exclaimed that he was about to be possessed by the spirit of an ancestor. Taking up a sword, he began to cut himself with it, especially in the back, and then kept striking himself with the blunt edge. The sword was wrested from him, and placed on the figure. The old man then went several times round the muggu, shaking and twisting his body into various grotesque attitudes. While this was going on, the bridegroom appeared on the scene, and seated himself near the feet of the figure. Throwing off his turban and upper cloth, he fell on the floor, and proceeded to kick his legs about, and eventually, becoming calmer, commenced to cry. Being asked his name, he replied that he was Kariyavala Rāju. Further questions were put to him, to which he made no response, but continued crying. Incense and lights were then carried round the image, and the old man announced that the marriage would be auspicious, and blessed the bride and bridegroom and the assembled Gollas. The ceremony concluded with the burning of camphor. The big mass of food was eaten by Pūni Gollas. [296]

It is stated in the Manual of the Nellore district that, when a Golla bridegroom sets out for the house of his mother-in-law, he is seized on the way by his companions, who will not release him until he has paid a piece of gold.

The custom of illatom, or application of a son-in-law, obtains among the Gollas, as among the Kāpus and some other Telugu-classes.23

In connection with the death ceremonies, it may be noted that the corpse, when it is being washed, is made to rest on a mortar, and two pestles are placed by its side, and a lighted lamp near the head.

There is a proverb to the effect that a Golla will not scruple to water the milk which he sells to his own father. Another proverb refers to the corrupt manner in which he speaks his mother-tongue.

The insigne of the caste at Conjeeveram is a silver churning stick.24

Gollāri (monkey).—An exogamous sept of Gadaba.

Gomma.—Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain as the name for Kōyis who live near the banks of the Godāvari river. Villages on the banks thereof are called gommu ūllu.

Gōnapala (old plough).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Gōndaliga.—The Gōndaligas are described, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as being mendicants “of Mahratta origin like the Būdabudikes, and may perhaps be a sub-division of them. They are worshippers of Durgi. Their occupation, as the name indicates, is to perform gondala, or a kind of torch-light dance, usually [297]performed in honour of Amba Bhavāni, especially after marriages in Dēsastha Brāhman’s houses, or at other times in fulfilment of any vow.”

Gōndaliga musicians.

Gōndaliga musicians.

Gōnē (a sack).—An exogamous sept of Māala. The Gōnē Perikes have been summed up as being a Telugu caste of gunny-bag weavers, corresponding to the Janappans of the Tamil country. Gunny-bag is the popular and trading name for the coarse sacking and sacks made from jute fibre, which are extensively used in Indian trade.25 Gōnē is further an occupational sub-division of Kōmati.

The Gōnigas of Mysore are described, in the Census Report, 1901, as sack-weavers and makers of gunny-bags, agriculturists, and grain porters at Bangalore; and it is noted that the abnormal fall of 66 per cent. in the number of the caste was due to their being confounded with Gānigas.

Gonjākāri.—A title of Haddi.

Gonji (Glycosmis penlaphylla).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Gōpālam (alms given to beggars).—An exogamous sept of Togata.

Gōpālan (those who tend cattle).—A synonym of Idaiyan.

Gōpopuriya.—A sub-division of Gaudo.

Gōrantla (Lawsonia alba: henna).—An exogamous sept of Golla and Padma Sālē. The leaves of this plant are widely used by Natives as an article of toilet for staining the nails, and by Muhammadans for dyeing the hair red.

Gorava.—A synonym of Kuruba.

Goravaru.—A class of Canarese mendicants. [298]

Gōrē.—Recorded, at times of census, as a synonym of Lambādi. Gōra means trader or shop-keeper, and trading Lambādis may have assumed the name.

Gorige (Cyamopsis psoralioides).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Gorrela (sheep).—An exogamous sept of Golla, Kamma, and Kāpu. Konda gorri (hill sheep) occurs as an exogamous sept of Jātapu.

Gōsangi.—A synonym for Mādiga, recorded as Kōsangi, in the Madras Census Report, 1901. The Gōsangulu are described in the Vizagapatam Manual (1869), as “beggars who style themselves descendants of Jāmbavanta, the bear into which Brahma transformed himself, to assist Rāma in destroying Rāvana. The Gōsangis are considered to be illegitimate descendants of Mādigas, and a curious thing about them is that their women dress up like men, and sing songs when begging. As mendicants they are attached to the Mādigas.”

Gōsāyi or Gōswāmi.—The Gōsāyis are immigrant religious mendicants from Northern and Western India. I gather from the Mysore Census Reports that “they mostly belong to the Dandi sub-division. The Gōsāyi is no caste; commonly any devotee is called a Gōsāyi, whether he lives a life of celibacy or not; whether he roams about the country collecting alms, or resides in a house like the rest of the people; whether he leads an idle existence, or employs himself in trade. The mark, however, that distinguishes all who bear this name is that they are devoted to a religious life. Some besmear their bodies with ashes, wear their hair dishevelled and uncombed, and in some instances coiled round the head like a snake or rope. They roam about the country in every direction, visiting especially spots [299]of reputed sanctity, and as a class are the pests of society and incorrigible rogues. Some of them can read, and a few may be learned; but for the most part they are stolidly ignorant. Most of them wear a yellowish cloth, by which they make themselves conspicuous. The Gōsāyis, although by profession belonging to the religious class, apply themselves nevertheless to commerce and trade. As merchants, bankers and tradesmen, they hold a very respectable position. They never marry. One of the chief peculiarities of this caste is that Brāhmans, Kshatriyās, Vaisyās, and Sūdras, the two former especially, may, if they choose, become Gōsāyis; but if they do so, and unite with the members of this fraternity in eating and drinking, holding full and free intercourse with them, they are cut off for ever from their own tribes. It is this circumstance which constitutes Gōsāyis a distinct and legitimate caste, and not merely a religious order. At death a horrible custom is observed. A cocoanut is broken on the head of the deceased by a person specially appointed for the purpose, until it is smashed to pieces. The body is then wrapped in a reddish cloth, and thrown into the Ganges. A partial explanation of this practice is furnished in Southern India. The final aim of Hindu religious life is Nirvāna or Mōksham in the next life, and this can only be attained by those holy men, whose life escapes, after smashing the skull, through the sushumnā nādi, a nerve so called, and supposed to pervade the crown of the head. The dying or dead Sanyāsi is considered to have led such a holy life as to have expired in the orthodox manner, and the fiction is kept up by breaking the skull post mortem, in mimicry of the guarantee of his passage to eternal bliss. Accordingly, the dead body of a Brāhman Sanyāsi in Southern India undergoes the [300]same process and is buried, but never burned or thrown into the river.”

A few Gōsāyis, at the Mysore census, returned gōtras, of which the chief were Achūta and Daridra (poverty-stricken). In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Mandula (medicine man) and Bāvāji are returned as a sub-division and synonym of Gōsāyi. The name Gūsē or Gusei is applied to Oriya Brāhmans owing to their right of acting as gurus or family priests.

Gōsu (pride).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Goundan.—It is noted, in the Salem Manual, that “some of the agricultural classes habitually append the title Goundan as a sort of caste nomenclature after their names, but the word applies, par excellence, to the head of the village, or Ūr Goundan as he is called.” As examples of castes which take Goundan as their title, the Pallis, Okkiliyans, and Vellālas may be cited. A planter, or other, when hailing a Malayāli of the Shevaroy hills, always calls him Goundan.

Goyi (lizard: Varanus).—An exogamous sept of Bottada.

Grāmani.—The title of some Shānāns, and of the headman of the Khatris. In Malabar, the name grāmam (a village) is applied to a Brāhmanical colony, or collection of houses, as the equivalent of the agrahāram of the Tamil country.26

Gūdala.—The Gūdalas are a Telugu caste of basket-makers in Vizagapatam and Ganjam. The name is derived from gūda, a basket for baling water. For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The original occupation of the caste is said to have been the collection of medicinal herbs and roots for native [301]doctors and sick persons, which is still carried on by some Gūdalas at Sālūru town. The principal occupations, however, are the manufacture of bamboo baskets, and fishing in fresh water.

Like other Telugu castes, the Gūdalas have exogamous septs or intipērulu, e.g., korra (Setaria italica), paththi (cotton), nakka (jackal) and ganti (hole pierced in the ear-lobe). The custom of mēnarikam, whereby a man should marry his maternal uncle’s daughter, is practiced. Marriage generally takes place before a girl reaches puberty. A Brāhman officiates at weddings. The bride-price (vōli) consists of a new cloth for the bride, and seven rupees for her parents, which are taken by the bridegroom’s party to the bride’s house, together with some oil and turmeric for the bridal bath, and the sathamānam (marriage badge). A feast is held, and the sathamānam is tied on the bride’s neck. The newly married pair are conducted to the house of the bridegroom, where a further feast takes place, after which they return to the bride’s home, where they remain for three days. Widows are permitted to remarry thrice, and the vōli on each successive occasion is Rs. 3, Rs. 2, and Rs. 2–8–0. When a widow is remarried, the sathamānam is tied on her neck near a mortar.

The members of the caste reverence a deity called Ekkaladēvata, who is said to have been left behind at their original home. The dead are cremated, and the chinna rōzu (little day) death ceremony is observed. On the third day, cooked rice is thrown over the spot where the corpse was burnt.

Gūdavandlu.—Recorded, in the Nellore Manual, as Vaishnavites, who earn their livelihood by begging. The name means basket people, and probably refers to Sātānis, who carry a basket (gūda) when begging. [302]

Gudi (temple).—A sub-division of Okkiliyan, an exogamous sept of Jōgi, and a name for temple Dāsaris, to distinguish them from the Donga or thieving Dāsaris.

Gudigāra.—In the South Canara Manual, the Gudigāras are summed up as follows. “They are a Canarese caste of wood-carvers and painters. They are Hindus of the Saivite sect, and wear the sacred thread. Shivalli Brāhmans officiate as their priests. Some follow the aliya santāna mode of inheritance (in the female line), others the ordinary law. They must marry within the caste, but not within the same gōtra or family. Infant marriage is not compulsory, and they have the dhāre form of marriage. Among those who follow the aliya santāna law, both widows and divorced women may marry again, but this is not permitted among the other sections. The dead are either cremated or buried, the former being the preferential mode. The use of alcoholic liquor, and fish and flesh is permitted. Their ordinary title is Setti.”

“The Gudigars, or sandal-wood carvers,” Mr. D’Cruz writes,27 “are reported to have come originally from Goa, their migration to Mysore and Canara having been occasioned by the attempts of the early Portuguese invaders to convert them to Christianity. The fact that their original language is Konkani corroborates their reputed Konkanese origin. They say that the derivation of the word Gudigāra is from gudi, a temple, and that they were so called because they were, in their own country, employed as carvers and painters in the ornamentation of temples. Another derivation is from the Sanskrit kuttaka (a carver). They assert that their fellow castemen are still employed in turning, painting, and other decorative arts at Goa. Like the Chitrakāras [303](ornamenters or decorative artists), they claim to be Kshatriyas, and tradition has it that, to escape the wrath of Parasu Rāma in the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, who vowed to destroy all Kshatriyas, they adopted the profession of carvers and car-builders. They are also expert ivory-carvers, and it has been suggested that they may be distantly connected with the Kondikars, or ivory-carvers of Bengal. The art of sandalwood carving is confined to a few families in the Sorab and Sāgar tāluks of the Shimoga district, in the north-west corner of the province. There are two or three families in Sāgar, and about six in Sorab, which contribute in all about thirty-five artisans employed in the craft. The art is also practiced by their relations, who found a domicile in Hanavar, Kumpta, Sirsi, Siddapūr, Biligi, and Banavāsi in the North Canara district. But the work of the latter is said to be by no means so fine as that executed by the artisans of Sorab and Sāgar. The artisans of North Canara, however, excel in pith-work of the most exquisite beauty. They usually make bāsingas, i.e., special forehead ornaments, richly inlaid with pearls, and worn on the occasion of marriage. The delicate tools used by the wood-carvers are made from European umbrella spokes, ramrods, and country steel. The main stimulus, which the art receives from time to time at the present day, is from orders from the Government, corporate public bodies, or Mahārājas, for address boxes, cabinets, and other articles specially ordered for presentations, or for the various fine-art exhibition, for which high prices are paid.” In conversation with the workmen from Sorab and Sāgar for work in the palace which is being built for H. H. the Mahārāja of Mysore, it was elicited that there are some Gudigars, who, from want of a due taste for the art, never acquire it, but are engaged in carpentry and [304]turning. Others, having acquired land, are engaged in cultivation, and fast losing all touch with the art. At Udipi in South Canara, some Gudigars make for sale large wooden buffaloes and human figures, which are presented as votive offerings at the Iswara temple at Hiriadkāp. They also make wooden dolls and painted clay figures.

The following extracts from Mr. L. Rice’s ‘Mysore Gazetteer’ may be appropriately quoted. “The designs with which the Gudigars entirely cover the boxes, desks, and other articles made, are of an extremely involved and elaborate pattern, consisting for the most part of intricate interlacing foliage and scroll-work, completely enveloping medallions containing the representation of some Hindu deity or subject of mythology, and here and there relieved by the introduction of animal forms. The details, though in themselves often highly incongruous, are grouped and blended with a skill that seems to be instinctive in the East, and form an exceedingly rich and appropriate ornamentation, decidedly oriental in style, which leaves not the smallest portion of the surface of the wood untouched. The material is hard, and the minuteness of the work demands the utmost care and patience. Hence the carving of a desk or cabinet involves a labour of many months, and the artists are said to lose their eyesight at a comparatively early age. European designs they imitate to perfection.” And again: “The articles of the Gudigar’s manufacture chiefly in demand are boxes, caskets and cabinets. These are completely covered with minute and delicate scroll-work, interspersed with figures from the Hindu Pantheon, the general effect of the profuse detail being extremely rich. The carving of Sorab is considered superior to that of Bombay or Canton, and, being a very tedious process requiring great care, is [305]expensive. The Gudigars will imitate admirably any designs that may be furnished them. Boards for album-covers, plates from Jorrock’s hunt, and cabinets surrounded with figures, have thus been produced for European gentlemen with great success.” A gold medal was awarded to the Gudigars at the Delhi Durbar Exhibition, 1903, for a magnificent sandal-wood casket (now in the Madras Museum), ornamented with panels representing hunting scenes.

When a marriage is contemplated, the parents of the couple, in the absence of horoscopes, go to a temple, and receive from the priest some flowers which have been used for worship. These are counted, and, if their number is even, the match is arranged, and an exchange of betel leaves and nuts takes place. On the wedding day, the bridegroom goes, accompanied by his party, to the house of the bride, taking with him a new cloth, a female jacket, and a string of black beads with a small gold ornament. They are met en route by the bride’s party. Each party has a tray containing rice, a cocoanut, and a looking-glass. The females of one party place kunkuma (red powder) on the foreheads of those of the other party, and sprinkle rice over each other. At the entrance to the marriage pandal (booth), the bride’s brother pours water at the feet of the bridegroom, and her father leads him into the pandal. The new cloth, and other articles, are taken inside the house, and the mother or sister of the bridegroom, with the permission of the headman, ties the necklet of black beads on the bride’s neck. Her maternal uncle takes her up in his arms, and carries her to the pandal. Thither the bridegroom is conducted by the bride’s brother. A cloth is held as a screen between the contracting couple, who place garlands of flowers round each other’s necks. The screen is then removed. [306]A small vessel, containing milk and water, and decorated with mango leaves, is placed in front of them, and the bride’s mother, taking hold of the right hand of the bride, places it in the right hand of the bridegroom. The officiating Brāhman places a betel leaf and cocoanut on the bride’s hand, and her parents pour water from a vessel thereon. The Brāhman then ties the kankanams (wrist-threads) on the wrists of the contracting couple, and kindles the sacred fire (hōmam). The guests present them with money, and lights are waved before them by elderly females. The bridegroom, taking the bride by hand, leads her into the house, where they sit on a mat, and drink milk out of the same vessel. A bed is made ready, and they sit on it, while the bride gives betel to the bridegroom. On the second day, lights are waved, in the morning and evening, in front of them. On the third day, some red-coloured water is placed in a vessel, into which a ring, an areca nut, and rice are dropped. The couple search for the ring, and, when it has been found, the bridegroom puts it on the finger of the bride. They then bathe, and try to catch fish in a cloth. After the bath, the wrist-threads are removed.

Gudisa (hut).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Kāpu.

Gudiya.—The Gudiyas are the sweet-meat sellers of the Oriya country. They rank high in the social scale, and some sections of Oriya Brāhmans will accept drinking water at their hands. Sweet-meats prepared by them are purchased for marriage feasts by all castes, including Brāhmans. The caste name is derived from gudo (jaggery). The caste is divided into two sections, one of which is engaged in selling sweet-meats and crude sugar, and the other in agriculture. The former are called Gudiyas, and the latter Kolāta, Holodia, or Bolāsi [307]Gudiyas in different localities. The headman of the caste is called Sāsumallo, under whom are assistant officers, called Bēhara and Bhollobaya. In their ceremonial observances on the occasion of marriage, death, etc., the Gudiyas closely follow the Gaudos. They profess the Paramartho or Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism, and also worship Tākurānis (village deities).

The Gudiyas are as particular as Brāhmans in connection with the wearing of sect marks, and ceremonial ablution. Cloths worn during the act of attending to the calls of nature are considered to be polluted, so they carry about with them a special cloth, which is donned for the moment, and then removed. Like the Gudiyas, Oriya Brāhmans always carry with them a small cloth for this purpose.

The titles of the Gudiyas are Bēhara, Sāhu, and Sāsumallo. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the caste name is given as Godiya.

Gudugudupāndi.—A Tamil synonym for Būdubudukala.

Guha Vellāla.—The name assumed by some Sembadavans with a view to connecting themselves with Guha (or Kuha), who rowed the boat of Rāma to Ceylon, and, as Vellālas, gaining a rise in the social scale. Maravans also claim descent from Guha.

Gujarāti.—A territorial name, meaning people from Gujarāt, some of whom have settled in the south where they carry on business as prosperous traders. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Gujjar is returned as a synonym. At a public meeting held in Madras, in 1906, to concert measures for establishing a pinjrapole (hospital for animals) it was resolved that early steps should be taken to collect public subscriptions from the Hindu community generally, and in particular from the [308]Nāttukōttai Chettis, Gujarātis, and other mercantile classes. The mover of the resolution observed that Gujarātis were most anxious, on religious grounds, to save all animals from pain, and it was a religious belief with them that it was sinful to live in a town where there was no pinjrapole. A pinjrapole is properly a cage (pinjra) for the sacred bull (pola) released in the name of Siva.28 It is noted by Mr. Drummond29 that every marriage and mercantile transaction among the Gujarātis is taxed with a contribution ostensibly for the pinjrapole. In 1901, a proposal was set on foot to establish a Gujarāti library and reading-room in Madras, to commemorate the silver jubilee of the administration of the Gaekwar of Baroda.

Gulimi (pickaxe).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Gullu (Solanum ferox).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Gulti.—A section of Bōya, members of which are to be found in Choolay, Madras City.

Gummadi (Cucurbita maxima).—An exogamous sept of Tsākalas, who will not cultivate the plant, or eat the pumpkin thereof.

Gūna.—Gūna or Gūni is a sub-division of Velama. The name is derived from the large pot (gūna), which dyers use.

Gūna Tsākala (hunchbacked washerman).—Said to be a derisive name given to Velamas by Balijas.

Gundala (stones).—An exogamous sept of Golla.

Gundam (pit).—An exogamous sept of Chenchu.

Gundu (cannon-ball).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Guni.—Guni is the name of Oriya dancing-girls and prostitutes. It is derived from the Sanskrit guna, meaning qualifications or skill, in reference to their possession [309]of qualification for, and skill acquired by training when young in enchanting by music, dancing, etc.

Gunta (well).—A sub-division of Bōyas, found in the Anantapūr district, the members of which are employed in digging wells.

Guntaka (harrow).—An exogamous sept of Kāpu.

Guntala (pond).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Gupta.—A Vaisya title assumed by some Mūttāns (trading caste) of Malabar, and Tamil Pallis.

Guri.—Recorded, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as a caste of Paiks or fighting men. Gurikala (marksman) occurs, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Patra.

Gurram (horse).—An exogamous sept of Chenchu, Golla, Māla, Padma Sālē, and Togata. The Gurram Togatas will not ride on horseback. Kudirē, also meaning horse, occurs as a gōtra or exogamous sept of Kurni and Vakkaliga.

Gurukkal.—For the following note on the Gurukkals or Kurukkals of Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. The Kurukkals are priests of castes, whose religious rites are not presided over by Ilayatus. They are probably of Tamil origin. Males are often called Nainar and females Nachchiyar, which are the usual titles of the Tamil Kurukkals also. In the Kēralolpatti the caste men are described as Chilampantis, who are the adiyars or hereditary servants of Padmanābhaswāmi in Trivandrum. They seem to have been once known also as Madamūtalis or headmen of matts, and Tēvāra Pandārams, or Pandārams who assisted the Brāhman priest in the performance of religious rites in the Mahārāja’s palace. It is said that the Kurukkals originally belonged to the great Vaisya branch of Manu’s fourfold system of caste, and migrated from the Pāndyan [310]country, and became the dependants of the Kupakkara family of Pottis in Trivandrum, whose influence, both religious and secular, was of no mean order in mediæval times. These Pottis gave them permission to perform all the priestly services of the Ambalavāsi families, who lived to the south of Quilon. It would appear from the Kēralolpatti and other records that they had the kazhakam or sweeping and other services at the inner entrance of Srī Padmanābha’s temple till the time of Umayamma Rāni in the eighth century of the Malabar era. As, however, during her reign, a Kurukkal in league with the Kupakkara Potti handed over the letter of invitation, entrusted to him as messenger, for the annual utsavam to the Tarnallur Nambūdiripād, the chief ecclesiastical functionary of the temple, much later than was required, the Kurukkal was dismissed from the temple service, and ever afterwards the Kurukkals had no kazhakam right there. There are some temples, where Kurukkals are the recognised priests, and they are freely admitted for kazhakam service in most South Travancore temples. To the north of Quilon, however, the Vāriyars and Pushpakans enjoy this right in preference to others. Some Kurukkals kept gymnasia in former times, and trained young men in military exercises. At the present day, a few are agriculturists.

The Kurukkals are generally not so fair in complexion as other sections of the Ambalavāsis. Their houses are known as bhavanams or vidus. They are strict vegetarians, and prohibited from drinking spirituous liquor. The females (Kurukkattis) try to imitate Nambūtiri Brāhmans in their dress and ornaments. The arasilattāli, which closely resembles the cherutāli, is worn round the neck, and the chuttu in the ears. The mukkutti, but not the gnattu, is worn in the nose. The minnu or marriage [311]ornament is worn after the tāli-kettu until the death of the tāli-tier. The females are tattooed on the forehead and hands, but this practice is going out of fashion. The sect marks of women are the same as those of the Nambūtiris. The Kurukkals are Smartas. The Tiruvonam asterism in the month of Avani (August-September) furnishes an important festive occasion.

The Kurukkals are under the spiritual control of certain men in their own caste called Vādhyars. They are believed to have been originally appointed by the Kuppakkara Pottis, of whom they still take counsel.

The Kurukkals observe both the tāli-kettu kalyānam and sambandham. The male members of the caste contract alliances either within the caste, or with Mārāns, or the Vātti class of Nāyars. Women receive cloths either from Brāhmans or men of their own caste. The maternal uncle’s or paternal aunt’s daughter is regarded as the most proper wife for a man. The tāli-kettu ceremony is celebrated when a girl is seven, nine or eleven years old. The date for its celebration is fixed by her father and maternal uncle in consultation with the astrologer. As many youths are then selected from among the families of the inangans or relations as there are girls to be married, the choice being decided by the agreement of the horoscopes of the couple. The erection of the first pillar of the marriage pandal (booth) is, as among other Hindu castes, an occasion for festivity. The ceremony generally lasts over few days, but may be curtailed. On the wedding day, the bridegroom wears a sword and palmyra leaf, and goes in procession to the house of the bride. After the tāli has been tied, the couple are looked on as being impure, and the pollution is removed by bathing, and the pouring of water, consecrated by the hymns of Vādhyars, over their heads. For the [312]sambandham, which invariably takes place after a girl has reached puberty, the relations of the future husband visit her home, and, if they are satisfied as to the desirability of the match, inform her guardians of the date on which they will demand the horoscope. When it is received on the appointed day, the astrologer is consulted, and, if he is favourably inclined, a day is fixed for the sambandham ceremony. The girl is led forward by her maternal aunt, who sits among those who have assembled, and formally receives cloths. Cloths are also presented to the maternal uncle. Divorce is common, and effected with the consent of the Vādhyar. Inheritance is in the female line (marumakkathāyam). It is believed that, at the time of their migration to Travancore, the Kurukkals wore their tuft of hair (kudumi) behind, and followed the makkathāyam system of inheritance (in the male line). A change is said to have been effected in both these customs by the Kupakkara Potti in the years 1752 and 1777 of the Malabar era.

The Kurukkals observe most of the religious ceremonies of the Brāhmans. No recitation of hymns accompanies the rites of nāmakarana and annaprāsana. The chaula and upanāyana are performed between the ninth and twelfth years of age. On the previous day, the family priest celebrates the purificatory rite, and ties a consecrated thread round the right wrist of the boy. The tonsure takes place on the second day, and on the third day the boy is invested with the sacred thread, and the Gāyatri hymn recited. On the fourth day, the Brahmachārya rite is closed with a ceremony corresponding to the Samāvartana. When a girl reaches puberty, some near female relation invites the women of the village, who visit the house, bringing sweetmeats with them. The girl bathes, and reappears in public on the fifth day. [313]Only the pulikudi or drinking tamarind juice, is celebrated, as among the Nāyars, during the first pregnancy. The sanchayana, or collection of bones after the cremation of a corpse, is observed on the third, fifth, or seventh day after death. Death pollution lasts for eleven days. Tekketus are built in memory of deceased ancestors. These are small masonry structures built over graves, in which a lighted lamp is placed, and at which worship is performed on anniversary and other important occasions (See Brāhman.)

Gutōb.—A sub-division of Gadaba.

Gutta Kōyi.—Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain as a name for hill Kōyis.

Guvvala (doves).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Mutrācha.

1 Linguistic Survey of India IV, 1906.

2 Madras Census Report, 1891.

3 Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

4 Madras Mail, 1907.

5 Madras Census Report, 1891.

6 Manual of the Vizagapatam district.

7 Madras Census Report, 1891.

8 Ind. Ant. XVIII, 1889.

9 Manual of the South Canara district.

10 Mysore Census Report, 1891.

11 Gazetteer of the Bellary district.

12 Calcutta Review, 1905.

13 Madras Census Report, 1891.

14 Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsha.

15 Manual of the South Canara district.

16 Hobson-Jobson.

17 Manual of the North Arcot district.

18 Madras Census Report, 1891.

19 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

20 Journ. Anth. Soc., Bombay, 1, 1888.

21 Mysore Census Report, 1891.

22 Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879.

23 See C. Ramchendrier, Collection of decisions of High Courts and the Privy Council applicable to dancing-girls, illatom, etc., Madras, 1892.

24 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

25 Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

26 Wigram. Malabar Law and Custom.

27 Thurston. Monograph on Wood-carving in Southern India. 1903.

28 Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson.

29 Illustrations of the Guzarattee, Mahratlee, and English languages, 1808.


Haddi.—The Haddis are a low class of Oriyas, corresponding to the Telugu Mālas and Mādigas, and the Tamil Paraiyans. It has been suggested that the name is derived from haddi, a latrine, or hada, bones, as members of the caste collect all sorts of bones, and trade in them. The Haddis play on drums for all Oriya castes, except Khondras, Tiyoros, Tulābinas, and Sānis. They consider the Khondras as a very low class, and will not purchase boiled rice sold in the bazaar, if it has been touched by them. Castes lower than the Haddis are the Khondras and Jaggalis of whom the latter are Telugu Mādigas, who have settled in the southern part of Ganjam, and learnt the Oriya language.

The Haddis may be divided into Haddis proper, Rellis, and Chachadis, which are endogamous divisions. [314]The Haddis proper never do sweeping or scavenging work, which are, in some places, done by Rellis. The Relli scavengers are often called Bhatta or Karuva Haddis. The Haddis proper go by various names, e.g., Sudha Haddi, Gōdomālia Haddi, etc., in different localities. The Haddis work as coolies and field labourers, and the selling of fruits, such as mango, tamarind, Zizyphus Jujuba, etc., is a favourite occupation. In some places, the selling of dried fish is a monopoly of the Rellis. Sometimes Haddis, especially the Karuva Haddis, sell human or yak hair for the purpose of female toilette. The Haddis have numerous septs or bamsams, one of which, hathi (elephant) is of special interest, because members of this sept, when they see the foot-prints of an elephant, take some dust from the spot, and make a mark on the forehead with it. They also draw the figure of an elephant, and worship it when they perform srādh (memorial service for the dead) and other ceremonies.

There are, among the Haddi communities, two caste officers entitled Bēhara and Nāyako, and difficult questions which arise are settled at a meeting of the officers of several villages. It is said that sometimes, if a member of the caste is known to have committed an offence, the officers select some members of the caste from his village to attend the meeting, and borrow money from them. This is spent on drink, and, after the meeting, the amount is recovered from the offender. If he does not plead guilty at once, a quarrel ensues, and more money is borrowed, so as to increase the debt. In addition to the Bēhara and Nāyako, there are, in some places, other officials called Adhikāri or Chowdri, or Bodoporicha and Bhollobhaya. The caste title is Nāyako. Members of higher castes are sometimes, [315]especially if they have committed adultery with Haddi women, received into the caste.

Girls are married after puberty. Though contrary to the usual Oriya custom, the practice of mēnarikam, or marriage with the maternal uncle’s daughter, is permitted. When the marriage of a young man is contemplated, his father, accompanied by members of his caste, proceeds to the home of the intended bride. If her parents are in favour of the match, a small space is cleared in front of the house, and cow-dung water smeared over it. On this spot the young man’s party deposit a pot of toddy, over which women throw Zizyphus Jujuba leaves and rice, crying at the same time Ulu-ula. The village officials, and a few respected members of the caste, assemble in the house, and, after the engagement has been announced, indulge in a drink. On an auspicious day, the bridegroom’s party go to the home of the bride, and place, on a new cloth spread on the floor, the bride-price (usually twenty rupees), and seven betel leaves, myrabolams (Terminalia fruits), areca nuts, and cakes. Two or three of the nuts are then removed from the cloth, cut up, and distributed among the leading men. After the wedding day has been fixed, an adjournment is made to the toddy shop. In some cases, the marriage ceremony is very simple, the bride being conducted to the home of the bridegroom, where a feast is held. In the more elaborate form of ceremonial, the contracting couple are seated on a dais, and the Bēhara or Nāyako, who officiates as priest, makes fire (hōmam) before them, which he feeds with twigs of Zizyphus Jujuba and Eugenia Jambolana. Mokuttos (forehead chaplets) and wrist-threads are tied on the couple, and their hands are connected by the priest by means of a turmeric-dyed thread, and then disconnected by an unmarried girl. [316]The bride’s brother arrives on the scene, dressed up as a woman, and strikes the bridegroom. This is called solabidha, and is practiced by many Oriya castes. The ends of the cloths of the bride and bridegroom are tied together, and they are conducted inside the house, the mother-in-law throwing Zizyphus leaves and rice over them.

Like other Oriya castes, the Haddis observe pollution for seven days on the occasion of the first menstrual period. On the first day, the girl is seated, and, after she has been smeared with oil and turmeric paste, seven women throw Zizyphus leaves and rice over her. She is kept either in a corner of the house, or in a separate hut, and has by her a piece of iron and a grinding-stone wrapped up in a cloth. If available, twigs of Strychnos Nux-vomica are placed in a corner. Within the room or hut, a small framework, made of broom-sticks and pieces of palmyra palm leaf, or a bow, is placed, and worshipped daily. If the girl is engaged to be married, her future father-in-law is expected to give her a new cloth on the seventh day.

The Haddis are worshippers of various Tākurānis (village deities), e.g., Kalumuki, Sathabavuni, and Baidaro. Cremation of the dead is more common than burial. Food is offered to the deceased on the day after death, and also on the tenth and eleventh days. Some Haddis proceed, on the tenth day, to the spot where the corpse was cremated or buried, and, after making an effigy on the ground, offer food. Towards night, they proceed to some distance from the house, and place food and fruits on a cloth spread on the ground. They then call the dead man by his name, and eagerly wait till some insect settles on the cloth. As soon as this happens, the cloth is folded up, carried home, and shaken over the [317]floor close to the spot where the household gods are kept, so that the insect falls on sand spread on the floor. A light is then placed on the sanded floor, and covered with a new pot. After some time, the pot is removed, and the sand examined for any marks which may be left on it. This ceremony seems to correspond to the jola jola handi (pierced pot) ceremony of other castes (see Bhondāri).

“The Rellis,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,1 “are a caste of gardeners and labourers, found chiefly in the districts of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. In Telugu the word relli or rellis means grass, but whether there is any connection between this and the caste name I cannot say. They generally live at the foot of the hills, and sell vegetables, mostly of hill production.”

For the following note on the Rellis of Vizagapatam, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Rellis are also known as Sachchari, and they further call themselves Sapiri. The caste recognises the custom of mēnarikam, by which a man marries his maternal uncle’s daughter. A girl is usually married after puberty. The bride-price is paid sometime before the day fixed for the marriage. On that day, the bride goes, with her parents, to the house of the bridegroom. The caste deities Odda Pōlamma (commonly known as Sapiri Daivam) and Kanaka Durgālamma are invoked by the elders, and a pig and sheep are sacrificed to them. A string of black beads is tied by the bridegroom round the bride’s neck, and a feast is held, at which the sacrificed animals are eaten, and much liquor is imbibed. On the following morning, a new cloth, kunkumam (red powder), and a few pieces of turmeric are placed in a [318]small basket or winnow, and carried in procession, to the accompaniment of music, through the streets by the bride, with whom is the bridegroom. The ceremony is repeated on the third day, when the marriage festivities come to an end. In a note on the Rellis of Ganjam, Mr. S. P. Rice writes2 that “the bridegroom, with the permission of the Village Magistrate, marches straight into the bride’s house, and ties a wedding necklace round her neck. A gift of seven and a half rupees and a pig to the castemen, and of five rupees to the bride’s father, completes this very primitive ceremony.” Widows are allowed to remarry, but the string of beads is not tied round the neck. The caste deities are usually represented by crude wooden dolls, and an annual festival in their honour, with the sacrifice of pigs and sheep, is held in March. The dead are usually buried, and, as a rule, pollution is not observed. Some Rellis have, however, begun to observe the chinnarōzu (little day) death ceremony, which corresponds to the chinnadinamu ceremony of the Telugus. The main occupation of the caste is gardening, and selling fruits and vegetables. The famine of 1875–76 reduced a large number of Rellis to the verge of starvation, and they took to scavenging as a means of earning a living. At the present day, the gardeners look down on the scavengers, but a prosperous scavenger can be admitted into their society by paying a sum of money, or giving a feast. Pollution attaches only to the scavengers, and not to the gardening section. In the Census Report, 1901, the Pākais or sweepers in the Godāvari district, who have, it is said, gone thither from Vizagapatam, are returned as a sub-caste of Relli. The usual title of the Rellis is Gādu. [319]

The Haddis who inhabit the southern part of Ganjam are known as Ghāsis by other castes, especially Telugu people, though they call themselves Haddis. The name Ghāsi has reference to the occupation of cutting grass, especially for horses. The occupational title of grass-cutter is said by Yule and Burnell3 to be “probably a corruption representing the Hindustani ghāskodā or ghāskātā, the digger or cutter of grass, the title of a servant employed to collect grass for horses, one such being usually attached to each horse, besides the syce or horsekeeper (groom). In the north, the grass-cutter is a man; in the south the office is filled by the horsekeeper’s wife.” It is noted in ‘Letters from Madras’4 that “every horse has a man and a maid to himself; the maid cuts grass for him; and every dog has a boy. I inquired whether the cat had any servants, but I found he was allowed to wait upon himself.” In addition to collecting and selling grass, the Ghāsis are employed at scavenging work. Outsiders, even Jaggalis (Mādigas), Paidis, and Pānos, are admitted into the Ghāsi community.

The headman of the Ghāsis is called Bissoyi, and he is assisted by a Bēhara and Gonjari. The Gonjari is the caste servant, one of whose duties is said to be the application of a tamarind switch to the back of delinquents.

Various exogamous septs or bamsams occur among the Ghāsis, of which nāga (cobra), asvo (horse), chintala (tamarind), and liari (parched rice) may be noted. Adult marriage is the rule. The betrothal ceremony, at which the kanyo mūlo, or bride-price, is paid, is the occasion of a feast, at which pork must be served, and the Bissoyi of the future bride’s village ties a konti (gold or silver bead) on her neck. The marriage ceremonial corresponds in [320]the main with that of the Haddis elsewhere, but has been to some extent modified by the Telugu environment. The custom, referred to by Mr. S. P. Rice, of suspending an earthen pot filled with water from the marriage booth is a very general one, and not peculiar to the Ghāsis. It is an imitation of a custom observed by the higher Oriya castes. The striking of the bridegroom on the back by the bride’s brother is the solabidha of other castes, and the mock anger (rusyāno) in which the latter goes away corresponds to the alagi povadam of Telugu castes.

At the first menstrual ceremony of a Ghāsi girl, she sits in a space enclosed by four arrows, round which a thread is passed seven times.

The name Odiya Tōti (Oriya scavenger) occurs as a Tamil synonym for Haddis employed as scavengers in Municipalities in the Tamil country.

Hajām.—The Hindustani name for a barber, and used as a general professional title by barbers of various classes. It is noted, in the Census Reports, that only fifteen out of more than two thousand individuals returned as Hajām were Muhammadans, and that, in South Canara, Hajāms are Konkani Kelasis, and of Marāthi descent.

Halaba.See Pentiya.

Halavakki.—A Canarese synonym for Būdubudukala.

Halēpaik.—The Halēpaiks are Canarese toddy-drawers, who are found in the northern tāluks of the South Canara district. The name is commonly derived from hale, old, and paika, a soldier, and it is said that they were formerly employed as soldiers. There is a legend that one of their ancestors became commander of the Vijayanagar army, was made ruler of a State, [321]and given a village named Halepaikas as a jaghir (hereditary assignment of land). Some Halēpaiks say that they belong to the Tengina (cocoanut palm) section, because they are engaged in tapping that palm for toddy.

There is intermarriage between the Canarese-speaking Halēpaiks and the Tulu-speaking Billava toddy-drawers, and, in some places, the Billavas also call themselves Halēpaiks. The Halēpaiks have exogamous septs or balis, which run in the female line. As examples of these, the following may be noted:—

Chendi (Cerbera Odollum), Honnē (Calophyllum inophyllum), Tolar (wolf), Dēvana (god) and Ganga. It is recorded5 of the Halēpaiks of the Canara district in the Bombay Presidency that “each exogamous section, known as a bali (literally a creeper), is named after some animal or tree, which is held sacred by the members of the same. This animal, tree or flower, etc., seems to have been once considered the common ancestor of the members of the bali, and to the present day it is both worshipped by them, and held sacred in the sense that they will not injure it. Thus the members of the nāgbali, named apparently after the nāgchampa flower, will not wear this flower in their hair, as this would involve injury to the plant. The Kadavēbali will not kill the sambhar (deer: kadavē), from which they take their name.” The Halēpaiks of South Canara seem to attach no such importance to the sept names. Some, however, avoid eating a fish called Srinivāsa, because they fancy that the streaks on the body have a resemblance to the Vaishnavite sectarian mark (nāmam).

All the Halēpaiks of the Kundapūr tāluk profess to be Vaishnavites, and have become the disciples of a [322]Vaishnava Brāhman settled in the village of Sankarappakōdlu near Wondse in that tāluk. Though Venkataramana is regarded as their chief deity, they worship Baiderkulu, Panjurli, and other bhūthas (devils). The Pūjāris (priests) avoid eating new grain, new areca nuts, new sugarcane, cucumbers and pumpkins, until a feast, called kaidha pūja, has been held. This is usually celebrated in November-December, and consists in offering food, etc., to Baiderkulu. Somebody gets possessed by the bhūtha, and pierces his abdomen with an arrow.

In their caste organisation, marriage and death ceremonies, the Halēpaiks closely follow the Billavas. They do not, however, construct a car for the final death ceremonies. As they are Vaishnavites, after purification from death pollution by their own caste barber, a Vaishnavite mendicant, called Dāssaya, is called in, and purifies them by sprinkling holy water and putting the nāmam on their foreheads.

There are said to be some differences between the Halēpaiks and Billavas in the method of carrying out the process of drawing toddy. For example, the Halēpaiks generally grasp the knife with the fingers directed upwards and the thumb to the right, while the Billavas hold the knife with the fingers directed downwards and the thumb to the left. For crushing the flower-buds within the spathe of the palm, Billavas generally use a stone, and the Halēpaiks a bone. There is a belief that, if the spathe is beaten with the bone of a buffalo which has been killed by a tiger, the yield of toddy will, if the bone has not touched the ground, be greater than if an ordinary bone is used. The Billavas generally carry a long gourd, and the Halēpaiks a pot, for collecting the toddy in. [323]

Haligē (plank).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Hallikāra (village man).—Recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as a division of Vakkaliga.

Hālu (milk).—An exogamous sept of Holeya and Kurni, a sub-division of Kuruba, and a name for Vakkaligas who keep cattle and sell milk. Hālu mata (milk caste) has been given as a synonym for Kuruba. In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Hālu Vakkal-Makkalu, or children of the milk caste, occurs as a synonym for Hālu Vakkaliga, and, in the South Canara Manual, Hālvaklumakkalu is given as a synonym for Gauda. The Mādigas call the intoxicant toddy hālu. (See Pāl.)

Hanbali.—A sect of Muhammadans, who are followers of the Imām Abū ’Abdi ’llāh Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the founder of the fourth orthodox sect of the Sunnis, who was born at Baghdād A.H. 164 (A.D. 780). “His fame began to spread just at the time when disputes ran highest concerning the nature of the Qur’ān, which some held to have existed from eternity, whilst others maintained it to be created. Unfortunately for Ibn Hanbal, the Khalīfah-at-Muttasim was of the latter opinion, to which this doctor refusing to subscribe, he was imprisoned, and severely scourged by the Khalīfah’s order.”6

Handa.—A title of Canarese Kumbāras.

Handichikka.—The Handichikkas are stated7 to be “also generally known as Handi Jōgis. This caste is traced to the Pakanāti sub-section of the Jōgis, which name it bore some five generations back when the traditional calling was buffalo-breeding. But, as they subsequently degenerated to pig-rearing, they came to be [324]known as Handi Jōgi or Handichikka, handi being the Canarese for pig.

Hanifi.—A sect of Muhammadans, named after Abū Hanīfah Anhufmān, the great Sunni Imām and jurisconsult, and the founder of the Hanifi sect, who was born A.H. 80 (A.D. 700).

Hanumān.—Hanumān, or Hanumanta, the monkey god, has been recorded as a sept of Dōmb, and gōtra of Mēdara.

Hari Shetti.—A name for Konkani-speaking Vānis (traders).

Hāruvar.—A sub-division of the Badagas of the Nīlgiri hills.

Hasala.—Concerning the Hasalas or Hasulas, Mr. Lewis Rice writes that “this tribe resembles the Sōliga (or Shōlagas). They are met with along the ghâts on the north-western frontier of Mysore. They are a short, thick-set race, very dark in colour, and with curled hair. Their chief employment is felling timber, but they sometimes work in areca nut gardens and gather wild cardamoms, pepper, etc. They speak a dialect of Canarese.”

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, it is stated that “the Hasalaru and Malēru are confined to the wild regions of the Western Malnād. In the caste generation, they are said to rank above the Halēpaikās, but above the Holeyas and Mādigas. They are a diminutive but muscular race, with curly hair and dolichocephalous head. Their mother-tongue is Tulu. Their numbers are so insignificantly small as not to be separately defined. They are immigrants from South Canara, and lead a life little elevated above that of primordial barbarism. They live in small isolated huts, which are, however, in the case of the Hasalās, provided not only with the usual [325]principal entrance, through which one has to crawl in, but also with a half-concealed hole in the rear, a kind of postern, through which the shy inmates steal out into the jungle at the merest suspicion of danger, or the approach of a stranger. They collect the wild jungle produce, such as cardamoms, etc., for their customary employers, whose agrestic slaves they have virtually become. Their huts are annually or periodically shifted from place to place, usually the most inaccessible and thickest parts of the wilderness. They are said to be very partial to toddy and arrack (alcoholic liquor). It is expected that these savages smuggle across the frontier large quantities of wild pepper and cardamoms from the ghāt forests of the province. Their marriage customs are characterised by the utmost simplicity, and the part played therein by the astrologer is not very edifying. Their religion does not seem to transcend devil worship. They bury the dead. A very curious obsequial custom prevails among the Hasalas. When any one among them dies, somebody’s devil is credited with the mishap, and the astrologer is consulted to ascertain its identity. The latter throws cowries (shells of Cyprœa moneta) for divination, and mentions some neighbour as the owner of the devil thief. Thereupon, the spirit of the dead is redeemed by the heir or relative by means of a pig, fowl, or other guerdon. The spirit is then considered released, and is thence forward domiciled in a pot, which is supplied periodically with water and nourishment. This may be looked upon as the elementary germ of the posthumous care-taking, which finds articulation under the name of srādh in multifarious forms, accompanied more or less with much display in the more civilised sections of the Hindu community. The Hasalaru are confined to Tīrthahalli and Mūdigere.” [326]

It is further recorded in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that “in most of the purely Malnād or hilly tāluks, each vargdār, or proprietor of landed estate, owns a set of servants styled Huttālu or Huttu-ālu and Mannālu or Mannu-ālu. The former is the hereditary servitor of the family, born in servitude, and performing agricultural work for the landholder from father to son. The Mannālu is a serf attached to the soil, and changes hands with it. They are usually of the Holaya class, but, in some places, the Hasalar race have been entertained.” (See Holeya.)

Concerning the Hasalaru, Mr. H. V. Nanjundayya writes to me that “their marriages take place at night, a pūjāri of their caste ties the tāli, a golden disc, round the bride’s neck. Being influenced by the surrounding castes, they have taken of late to the practice of inviting the astrologer to be present. In the social scale they are a little superior to Mādigas and Holeyas, and, like them, live outside the village, but they do not eat beef. Their approach is considered to defile a Brāhman, and they do not enter the houses of non-Brāhmans such as Vakkaligas and Kurubas. They have their own caste barbers and washermen, and have separate wells to draw water from.”

Hasbe.—Hasbe or Hasubu, meaning a double pony pack-sack, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Holeya and Vakkaliga.

Hastham (hand).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Hatagar.—A sub-division of Dēvāngas, who are also called Kodekal Hatagaru.

Hathi (elephant).—A sept of the Oriya Haddis. When members of this sept see the foot-prints of an elephant, they take some dust from the spot, and make a mark on the forehead with it. They also draw the figure of an elephant, and worship it, when they perform [327]srādh (memorial service for the dead) and other ceremonies.

Hathinentu Manayavaru (eighteen house).—A sub-division of Dēvānga.

Hatti (hut or hamlet).—An exogamous sept of Kāppilliyan and Kuruba.

Hattikankana (cotton wrist-thread).—A sub-division of Kurubas, who tie a cotton thread round the wrist at the marriage ceremony.

Heggade.—The Heggades are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being a class of Canarese cultivators and cattle-breeders. Concerning the Heggades of South Canara, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes8 that they “are classified as shepherds, but the present occupation of the majority of them is cultivation. Their social position is said to be somewhat inferior to that of the Bants. They employ Brāhmins as their priests. In their ceremonies, the rich follow closely the Brahminical customs. On the second day of their marriage, a pretence of stealing a jewel from the person of the bride is made. The bridegroom makes away with the jewel before dawn, and in the evening the bride’s party proceeds to the house where the bridegroom is to be found. The owner of the house is told that a theft has occurred in the bride’s house and is asked whether the thief has taken shelter in his house. A negative answer is given, but the bride’s party conducts a regular search. In the meanwhile a boy is dressed to represent the bridegroom. The searching party mistake this boy for the bridegroom, arrest him, and produce him before the audience as the culprit. This disguised bridegroom, who is proclaimed to be the thief, throws his mask at the bride, when it is found to [328]the amusement of all present that he is not the bridegroom. The bride’s party then, confessing their inability to find the bridegroom, request the owner of the house to produce him. He is then produced, and conducted in procession to the bride’s house.”

Some Bants who use the title Heggade wear the sacred thread, follow the hereditary profession of temple functionaries, and are keepers of the demon shrines which are dotted all over South Canara.

Of the Heggades who have settled in the Coorg country, the Rev. G. Richter states9 that “they conform, in superstitions and festivals, to Coorg custom, but are excluded from the community of the Coorgs, in whose presence they are allowed to sit only on the floor, whilst the former occupy a chair, or, if they are seated on a mat, the Heggades must not touch it.” In the Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, Heggade is defined by Mr. L. Rice as the headman of a village, the head of the village police, to whom, in some parts of the Province, rent-free lands are assigned for his support.

Heggade is sometimes used as a caste name by Kurubas, and occurs as an exogamous sept of Stānikas.

Heggāniga.—A sub-division of Gānigas, who use two oxen for their oil-pressing mills.

Helava.—Helava, meaning lame person, is the name of a class of mendicants, who, in Bellary, Mysore, and other localities, are the custodians of village histories. They generally arrive at the villages mounted on a bullock, and with their legs concealed by woollen blankets. They go from house to house, giving the history of the different families, the names of heroes who died in war, and so forth. [329]

Hijra (eunuchs).—See Khōja.

Hirē (big).—A sub-division of Kurni.

Hittu (flour).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Holadava.—A synonym of Gatti.

Holeya.—The bulk of the Holeyas are, in the Madras Presidency, found in South Canara, but there are a considerable number in Coimbatore and on the Nīlgiris (working on cinchona, tea, and coffee estates). In the Manual of the South Canara district it is noted that “Holeyas are the field labourers, and former agrestic serfs of South Canara, Pulayan being the Malayālam and Paraiyan the Tamil form of the same word. The name is derived by Brāhmins from holē, pollution, and by others from hola, land or soil, in recognition of the fact that, as in the case of the Paraiyan, there are customs remaining which seem to indicate that the Holeyas were once masters of the land; but, whatever the derivation may be, it is no doubt the same as that of Paraiyan and Pulayan. The Holeyas are divided into many sub-divisions, but the most important are Māri, Mēra, and Mundala or Bākuda. The Mēra Holeyas are the most numerous, and they follow the ordinary law of inheritance through males, as far as that can be said to be possible with a class of people who have absolutely nothing to inherit. Of course, demon propitiation (bhūta worship) is practically the exclusive idea of the Holeyas, and every one of the above sub-divisions has four or five demons to which fowls, beaten rice, cocoanuts and toddy, are offered monthly and annually. The Holeyas have, like other classes of South Canara, a number of balis (exogamous septs), and persons of the same bali cannot intermarry. Though the marriage tie is as loose as is usual among the depressed and low castes of Southern India, their marriage ceremony is somewhat elaborate. The bridegroom’s [330]party goes to the bride’s house on a fixed day with rice, betel leaf and a few areca nuts, and waits the whole night outside the bride’s hut, the bridegroom being seated on a mat specially made by the bride. On the next morning the bride is made to sit opposite the bridegroom, with a winnowing fan between them filled with betel leaf, etc. Meanwhile the men and women present throw rice over the heads of the couple. The bride then accompanies the bridegroom to his hut, carrying the mat with her. On the last day the couple take the mat to a river or tank where fish may be found, dip the mat into the water, and catch some fish, which they let go after kissing them. A grand feast completes the marriage. Divorce is easy, and widow marriage is freely practiced. Holeyas will eat flesh including beef, and have no caste scruples regarding the consumption of spirituous liquor. Both men and women wear a small cap made of the leaf of the areca palm.” The Holeyas who were interviewed by us all said that they do not go through the ceremony of catching fish, which is performed by Shivalli Brāhmans and Akkasāles.

“All Tulu Brāhmin chronicles,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes10 “agree in ascribing the creation of Malabar and Canara, or Kērala, Tuluva, and Haiga to Parasu Rāma, who reclaimed from the sea as much land as he could cover by hurling his battle-axe from the top of the Western Ghauts. A modified form of the tradition states that Parasu Rāma gave the newly reclaimed land to Nāga and Machi Brāhmins, who were not true Brāhmins, and were turned out or destroyed by fishermen and Holeyas, who held the country till the Tulu Brāhmins were introduced by Mayūr Varma (of the [331]Kadamba dynasty). All traditions unite in attributing the introduction of the Tulu Brāhmins of the present day to Mayūr Varma, but they vary in details connected with the manner in which they obtained a firm footing in the land. One account says that Habāshika, chief of the Koragas, drove out Mayūr Varma, but was in turn expelled by Mayūr Varma’s son, or son-in-law, Lōkāditya of Gōkarnam, who brought Brāhmins from Ahi-Kshētra, and settled them in thirty-two villages. Another makes Mayūr Varma himself the invader of the country, which till then had remained in the possession of the Holeyas and fishermen who had turned out Parasu Rāma’s Brāhmins. Mayūr Varma and the Brāhmins whom he had brought from Ahi-Kshētra were again driven out by Nanda, a Holeya chief, whose son Chandra Sayana had, however, learned respect for Brāhmins from his mother, who had been a dancing-girl in a temple. His admiration for them became so great that he not only brought back the Brāhmins, but actually made over all his authority to them, and reduced his people to the position of slaves. A third account makes Chandra Sayana, not a son of a Holeya king, but a descendant of Mayūr Varma and a conqueror of the Holeya king.”

In Coorg, the Rev. G. Richter writes,11 “the Holeyas are found in the Coorg houses all over the country, and do all the menial work for the Coorgs, by whom, though theoretically freemen under the British Government, they were held as glebœ adscripti in a state of abject servitude until lately, when, with the advent of European planters, the slave question was freely discussed, and the ‘domestic institution’ practically abolished. The Holeyas dress indifferently, are of dirty habits, and eat [332]whatever they can get, beef included. Their worship is addressed to Eiyappa Dēvaru and Chāmundi, or Kāli goddess once every month; and once every year they sacrifice a hog or a fowl.”

Of the Holeyas of the Mysore province, the following account is given in the Mysore Census Reports, 1891 and 1901. “The Holeyas number 502,493 persons, being 10.53 per cent. of the total population. They constitute, as their name implies, the back-bone of cultivation in the country. Hola is the Kanarese name for a dry-crop field, and Holeya means the man of such field. The caste has numerous sub-divisions, among which are Kannada, Gangadikāra, Maggada (loom), and Morasu. The Holeyas are chiefly employed as labourers in connection with agriculture, and manufacture with hand-looms various kinds of coarse cloth or home-spun, which are worn extensively by the poorer classes, notwithstanding that they are being fast supplanted by foreign cheap fabrics. In some parts of the Mysore district, considerable numbers of the Holeyas are specially engaged in betel-vine gardening. As labourers they are employed in innumerable pursuits, in which manual labour preponderates. The Alēman sub-division furnishes recruits as Barr sepoys. It may not be amiss to quote here some interesting facts denoting the measure of material well-being achieved by, and the religious recognition accorded to the outcastes at certain first-class shrines in Mysore. At Mēlkōtē in the Mysore district, the outcastes, i.e., the Holeyas and Mādigs, are said to have been granted by the great Visishtādvaita reformer, Rāmānujāchārya, the privilege of entering the Vishnu temple up to the sanctum sanctorum, along with Brāhmans and others, to perform worship there for three days during the annual car procession. The following [333]anecdote, recorded by Buchanan,12 supplies the raison d’être for the concession, which is said to have also been earned by their forebears having guarded the sacred mūrti or idol. On Rāmānujāchārya going to Melkōta to perform his devotions at that celebrated shrine, he was informed that the place had been attacked by the Turk King of Delhi, who had carried away the idol. The Brāhman immediately set out for that capital, and on arrival found that the King had made a present of the image to his daughter, for it is said to be very handsome, and she asked for it as a plaything. All day the princess played with the image, and at night the god assumed his own beautiful form, and enjoyed her bed, for Krishna is addicted to such forms of adventures. Rāmānujāchārya, by virtue of certain mantras, obtained possession of the image, and wished to carry it off. He asked the Brāhmans to assist him, but they refused; on which the Holeyas volunteered, provided the right of entering the temple was granted to them. Rāmānujāchārya accepted their proposal, and the Holeyas, having posted themselves between Delhi and Mēlkōta, the image of the god was carried down in twenty-four hours. The service also won for the outcastes the envied title of Tiru-kulam or the sacred race. In 1799, however, when the Dewān (prime minister) Pūrnaiya visited the holy place, the right of the outcastes to enter the temple was stopped at the dhvaja stambham, the consecrated monolithic column, from which point alone can they now obtain a view of the god. On the day of the car procession, the Tiru-kulam people, men, women and children, shave their heads and bathe with the higher castes in the kalyāni or large reservoir, and carry on their head small [334]earthen vessels filled with rice and oil, and enter the temple as far as the flagstaff referred to above, where they deliver their offerings, which are appropriated by the Dāsayyas, who resort simultaneously as pilgrims to the shrine. Besides the privilege of entering the temple, the Tiru-kula Holeyas and Mādigs have the right to drag the car, for which service they are requited by getting from the temple two hundred seers of rāgi (grain), a quantity of jaggery (crude sugar), and few bits of the dyed cloth used for decorating the pandal (shed) which is erected for the procession. At the close of the procession, the representatives of the aforesaid classes receive each a flower garland at the hands of the Sthānik or chief worshipper, who manages to drop a garland synchronously into each plate held by the recipients, so as to avoid any suspicion of undue preference. In return for these privileges, the members of the Tiru-kulam used to render gratuitous services such as sweeping the streets round the temple daily, and in the night patrolling the whole place with drums during the continuance of the annual procession, etc. But these services are said to have become much abridged and nearly obsolete under the recent police and municipal régime. The privilege of entering the temple during the annual car procession is enjoyed also by the outcastes in the Vishnu temple at Bēlūr in the Hassan district. It is, however, significant that in both the shrines, as soon as the car festival is over, i.e., on the 10th day, the concession ceases, and the temples are ceremonially purified.

“In the pre-survey period, the Holeya or Mādig Kulvādi, in the maidān or eastern division, was so closely identified with the soil that his oath, accompanied by certain formalities and awe-inspiring solemnities, was considered to give the coup de grâce to long existing and [335]vexatious boundary disputes. He had a potential voice in the internal economy of the village, and was often the fidus Achates of the patel (village official). In the malnād, however, the Holeya had degenerated into the agrestic slave, and till a few decades ago under the British rule, not only as regards his property, but also with regard to his body, he was not his own master. The vargdār or landholder owned him as a hereditary slave. The genius of British rule has emancipated him, and his enfranchisement has been emphasized by the allurements of the coffee industry with its free labour and higher wages. It is, however, said that the improvement so far of the status of the outcastes in the malnād has not been an unmixed good, inasmuch as it is likewise a measure of the decadence of the supāri (betel) gardens. Be that as it may, the Holeya in the far west of the province still continues in many respects the bondsman of the local landholder of influence; and some of the social customs now prevailing among the Holeyas there, as described hereunder, fully bear out this fact.

“In most of the purely malnād or hilly taluks, each vargdār, or proprietor of landed estate, owns a set of servants called Huttālu or Huttu-Ālu and Mannālu or Mannu-Ālu. The former is the hereditary servitor of the family, born in servitude, and performing agricultural work for the landholder from father to son. The Mannālu is a serf attached to the soil, and changes with it. These are usually of the Holeya class, but in some places men of the Hasalar race have been entertained. To some estates or vargs only Huttu-ālūs are attached, while Mannu-ālūs work on others. Notwithstanding the measure of personal freedom enjoyed by all men at the present time, and the unification of the land tenures in the province under the revenue survey and settlement, [336]the traditions of birth, immemorial custom, ignorance, and never-to-be-paid-off loads of debt, tend to preserve in greater or less integrity the conditions of semi-slavery under which these agrestic slaves live. It is locally considered the acme of unwisdom to loosen the immemorial relations between capital and labour, especially in the remote backwoods, in which free labour does not exist, and the rich supāri cultivation whereof would be ruined otherwise. In order furthermore to rivet the ties which bind these hereditary labourers to the soil, it is alleged that the local capitalists have improvised a kind of Gretna Green marriage among them. A legal marriage of the orthodox type contains the risk of a female servant being lost to the family in case the husband happened not to be a Huttālu or Mannālu. So, in order to obviate the possible loss, a custom prevails according to which a female Huttālu or Mannālu is espoused in what is locally known as the manikattu form, which is neither more nor less than licensed concubinage. She may be given up after a time, subject to a small fine to the caste, and anybody else may then espouse her on like conditions. Not only does she then remain in the family, but her children will also become the landlord’s servants. These people are paid with a daily supply of paddy or cooked food, and a yearly present of clothing and blankets (kamblis). On special occasions, and at car feasts, they receive in addition small money allowances.

“In rural circles, in which the Holeyas and Mādigs are kept at arm’s length by the Brāmanical bodies, and are not allowed to approach the sacerdotal classes beyond a fixed limit, the outcastes maintain a strict semi-religious rule, whereby no Brāhman can enter the Holeya’s quarters without necessitating a purification thereof. They believe that the direst calamities will befall them [337]and theirs if otherwise. The ultraconservative spirit of Hindu priestcraft casts into the far distance the realization of the hope that the lower castes will become socially equal even with the classes usually termed Sūdrās. But the time is looming in the near distance, in which they will be on a level in temporal prosperity with the social organisms above them. Unlike the land tenures said to prevail in Chingleput or Madras, the Mysore system fully permits the Holeyas and Mādigs to hold land in their own right, and as sub-tenants they are to be found almost everywhere. The highest amount of land assessment paid by a single Holeya is Rs. 279 in the Bangalore district, and the lowest six pies in the Kolar and Mysore districts. The quota paid by the outcastes towards the land revenue of the country aggregates no less than three lakhs of rupees, more than two-thirds being paid by the Holeyas, and the remainder by the Mādigs. These facts speak for themselves, and afford a reliable index to the comparative well-being of these people. Instances may also be readily quoted, in which individual Holeyas, etc., have risen to be money-lenders, and enjoy comparative affluence. Coffee cultivation and allied industries have thrown much good fortune into their lap. Here and there they have also established bhajanē or prayer houses, in which theistic prayers and psalms are recited by periodical congregation. A beginning has been made towards placing the facilities of education within easy reach of these depressed classes.”

In connection with the Holeyas of South Canara, it is recorded13 that “the ordinary agricultural labourers of this district are Holeyas or Pariahs of two classes, known as Mūlada Holeyas and Sālada Holeyas, the [338]former being the old hereditary serfs attached to Mūli wargs (estates), and the latter labourers bound to their masters’ service by being in debt to them. Nowadays, however, there is a little difference between the two classes. Neither are much given to changing masters, and, though a Mūlada Holeya is no longer a slave, he is usually as much in debt as a Sālada Holeya, and can only change when his new master takes the debt over. To these labourers cash payments are unknown, except occasionally in the case of Sālada Holeyas, where there is a nominal annual payment to be set off against interest on the debt. In other cases interest is foregone, one or other of the perquisites being sometimes docked as an equivalent. The grain wage consists of rice or paddy (unhusked rice), and the local seer is, on the average, as nearly as possible one of 80 tolas. The daily rice payments to men, women, and children vary as follows:—

Men from 1 seer to 2 seers.
Women from seer to 2 seers.
Children from seer to 1 seer.

“In addition to the daily wages, and the midday meal of boiled rice which is given in almost all parts, there are annual perquisites or privileges. Except on the coast of the Mangalore tāluk and in the Coondapoor tāluk, every Holeya is allowed rent free from ⅛ to ⅓ acre of land, and one or two cocoanut or palmyra trees, with sometimes a jack or mango tree in addition. The money-value of the produce of this little allotment is variously estimated at from 1 to 5 rupees per annum. Throughout the whole district, cloths are given every year to each labourer, the money value being estimated at 1 rupee per adult, and 6 annas for a child. It is also customary to give a cumbly (blanket) in the neighbourhood of the ghauts, where the damp and cold render a warm covering necessary. On [339]three or four important festivals, presents of rice and other eatables, oil and salt are given to each labourer, or, in some cases, to each family. The average value of these may be taken at 1 rupee per labourer, or Rs. 4 per family. Presents are also made on the occasion of a birth, marriage, or funeral, the value of which varies very much in individual cases. Whole families of Holeyas are attached to the farms, but, when their master does not require their services, he expects them to go and work elsewhere in places where such work is to be got. In the interior, outside work is not to be had at many seasons, and the master has to pay them even if there is not much for them to do, but, one way or another, he usually manages to keep them pretty well employed all the year round.”

In a note on the Kulwādis, Kulvādis or Chalavādis of the Hassan district in Mysore, Captain J. S. F. Mackenzie writes14 that “every village has its Holigiri—as the quarter inhabited by the Holiars is called—outside the village boundary hedge. This, I thought, was because they are considered an impure race, whose touch carries defilement with it. Such is the reason generally given by the Brāhman, who refuses to receive anything directly from the hands of a Holiar, and yet the Brāhmans consider great luck will wait upon them if they can manage to pass through the Holigiri without being molested. To this the Holiars have a strong objection, and, should a Brāhman attempt to enter their quarters, they turn out in a body and slipper him, in former times it is said to death. Members of the other castes may come as far as the door, but they must not enter the house, for that would bring the Holiar bad luck. If, by chance, a person happens to get in, the owner takes [340]care to tear the intruder’s cloth, tie up some salt in one corner of it, and turn him out. This is supposed to neutralize all the good luck which might have accrued to the trespasser, and avert any evil which might have befallen the owner of the house. All the thousand-and-one castes, whose members find a home in the village, unhesitatingly admit that the Kulwādi is de jure the rightful owner of the village. He who was is still, in a limited sense, ‘lord of the village manor.’ If there is a dispute as to the village boundaries, the Kulwādi is the only one competent to take the oath as to how the boundary ought to run. The old custom for settling such disputes was as follows. The Kulwādi, carrying on his head a ball made of the village earth, in the centre of which is placed some water, passes along the boundary. If he has kept the proper line, everything goes well; but should he, by accident, even go beyond his own proper boundary, then the ball of earth, of its own accord, goes to pieces, the Kulwādi dies within fifteen days, and his house becomes a ruin. Such is the popular belief. Again, the skins of all animals dying within the village boundaries are the property of the Kulwādi, and a good income he makes from this source. To this day a village boundary dispute is often decided by this one fact. If the Kulwādis agree, the other inhabitants of the villages can say no more. When—in our forefathers’ days, as the natives say—a village was first established, a stone called ‘karu kallu’ is set up. To this stone the Patel once a year makes an offering. The Kulwādi, after the ceremony is over, is entitled to carry off the rice, etc., offered. In cases where there is no Patel, the Kulwādi goes through the yearly ceremony. But what I think proves strongly that the Holia was the first to take possession of the soil is that the Kulwādi receives, and is [341]entitled to receive, from the friends of any person who dies in the village, a certain fee or as my informant forcibly put it, ‘They buy from him the ground for the dead.’ This fee is still called in Canarese nela hāga, from nela earth, and hāga, a coin worth 1 anna 2 pies. In Munzerabad the Kulwādi does not receive this fee from those ryots who are related to the headman. Here the Kulwādi occupies a higher position. He has, in fact, been adopted into the Patel’s family, for, on a death occurring in such family, the Kulwādi goes into mourning by shaving his head. He always receives from the friends the clothes the deceased wore, and a brass basin. The Kulwādi, however, owns a superior in the matter of burial fees. He pays yearly a fowl, one hana (4 annas 8 pies), and a handful of rice to the agent of the Sudgādu Siddha, or lord of the burning ground (q.v.).”

A Kulwādi, whom I came across, was carrying a brass ladle bearing the figure of a couchant bull (Basava) and a lingam under a many-headed cobra canopy. This ladle is carried round, and filled with rice, money, and betel, on the occasion of marriages in those castes, of which the insignia are engraved on the handle. These insignia were as follows:—

  • Weavers—Shuttle and brush.
  • Bestha—Fish.
  • Uppāra—Spade and basket for collecting salt.
  • Korama—Baskets and knife for splitting canes and bamboos.
  • Īdiga—Knife, and apparatus for climbing palm-trees.
  • Hajām—Barber’s scissors, razor, and sharpening stone.
  • Gāniga—Oil-press. [342]
  • Madavāli—Washerman’s pot, fire-place, mallet, and stone.
  • Kumbāra—Potter’s wheel, pots, and mallet.
  • Vakkaliga—Plough.
  • Chetti—Scales and basket.
  • Kuruba—Sheep-shears.

A small whistle, called kola-singanātha, made of gold, silver, or copper, is tied round the neck of some Holeyas, Vakkaligas, Besthas, Agasas and Kurubas, by means of threads of sheep’s wool intertwined sixteen times. All these castes are supposed to belong to the family of the God Bhaira, in whose name the whistle is tied by a Bairāgi at Chunchingiri near Nāgamangala. It is usually tied in fulfilment of a vow taken by the parents, and the ceremony costs from a hundred to two hundred rupees. Until the vow is fulfilled, the person concerned cannot marry. At the ceremony, the Bairāgi bores a hole in the right ear-lobe of the celebrant with a needle called diksha churi, and from the wound ten drops of blood fall to the ground (cf. Jōgi Purusha). He is then bathed before the whistle is tied round his neck. As the result of wearing the whistle, the man attains to the rank of a priest in his caste, and is entitled to receive alms and meals on festive and ceremonial occasions. He blows his whistle, which emits a thin squeak, before partaking of food, or performing his daily worship.

It is noted in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that the marriage of the Holeyas is “nothing but a feast, at which the bridegroom ties the bottu (marriage badge) round the bride’s neck. The wife cannot be divorced except for adultery. Widows are prohibited from remarrying, but the caste winks at a widow’s living with a man.” In an account given to me of marriage among the Gangadikāra Holeyas, I was told that, if a girl [343]reaches puberty without being married, she may live with any man whom she likes within the caste. If he pays later on the bride price of twelve rupees, the marriage ceremonies take place, and the issue becomes legitimate. On the first day of these ceremonies, the bride is taken to the house of her husband-elect. The parties of the bride and bridegroom go, accompanied by music, to a river or tank, each with four new earthen pots, rice, betel, and other things. The pots, which are decorated with flowers of the areca palm, are filled with water, and set apart in the houses of the contracting couple. This ceremonial is known as bringing the god. At night the wrist-threads (kankanam), made of black and white wool, with turmeric root and iron ring tied on them, are placed round the wrists of the bride and bridegroom. On the following day, cotton thread is passed round the necks of three brass vessels, and also round the head of the bridegroom, who sits before the vessels with hands folded, and betel leaves stuck between his fingers. Married women anoint him with oil and turmeric, and he is bathed. He is then made to stand beneath a tree, and a twig of the jambu (Eugenia Jambolana) tree is tied to the milk-post. A similar ceremony is performed by the bride. The bridegroom is conducted to the marriage booth, and he and the bride exchange garlands and put gingelly (Sesamum) and jirigē (cummin) on each other’s heads. The bottu is passed round to be blessed, and tied by the bridegroom on the bride’s neck. This is followed by the pouring of milk over the hands of the contracting couple. On the third day, the wrist-threads are removed, and the pots thrown away.

The Holeyas have a large number of exogamous septs, of which the following are examples:— [344]

  • Ānē, elephant.
  • Mālē, garland.
  • Nērali, Eugenia Jambolana.
  • Hutta, ant-hill.
  • Hālu, milk.
  • Kavanē, sling.
  • Hasubu, pack-sack.
  • Maligē, jasmine.
  • Tenē, Setaria italica.
  • Chatri, umbrella.
  • Mola, hare.
  • Jēnu, honey.

It is recorded in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that “351 out of the entire population of 577,166 have returned gōtras, the names thereof being Harichandra, Kāli, Yekke, and Karadi. In thus doing, it is evident that they are learning to venerate themselves, like others in admittedly higher grades of society.”

Some Holeya families are called Halē Makkalu, or old children of the Gangadikāra Vakkaligas, and have to do certain services for the latter, such as carrying the sandals of the bridegroom, acting as messenger in conveying news from place to place, carrying fire before corpses to the burning-ground, and watching over the burning body. It is said that, in the performance of these duties, the exogamous septs of the Holeya and Vakkaliga must coincide.

In the Census Report, 1901, Balagai, Bākuda, Begāra or Byāgāra, Kūsa (or Uppāra) Māila, and Rānivaya (belonging to a queen) are recorded as sub-sects of the Holeyas. Of these, Balagai is a synonym, indicating that the Holeyas belong to the right-hand section. The Bākudas are said to resent the application of that name to them, and call themselves Aipattukuladavaru, or the people of fifty families, presumably from the fact that they are divided into fifty balis or families. These balis are said to be named after deceased female ancestors. Bēgāra or Byāgāra is a synonym, applied to the Holeyas by Kanarese Lingāyats. Māila means dirt, and probably refers to the washerman section, just as Mailāri (washerman) occurs among the Mālas. [345]

The Tulu-speaking Holeyas must not be confounded with the Canarese-speaking Holeyas. In South Canara, Holeya is a general name applied to the polluting classes, Nalkes, Koragas, and the three divisions of Holeyas proper, which differ widely from each other in some respects. These divisions are—

  • (1) Bākuda or Mundala—A stranger, asking a woman if her husband is at home, is expected to refer to him as her Bākuda, and not as her Mundala.
  • (2) Mēra or Mugayaru, which is also called Kaipuda.
  • (3) Māri or Mārimanisaru.

Of these, the first two sections abstain from beef, and consequently consider themselves superior to the Māri section.

The Bākudas follow the aliya santāna law of succession (in the female line), and, if a man leaves any property, it goes to his nephew. They will not touch dead cows or calves, or remove the placenta when a cow calves. Nor will they touch leather, especially in the form of shoes. They will not carry cots on which rice sheaves are thrashed, chairs, etc., which have four legs, but, when ordered to do so, either break off one leg, or add an extra leg by tying a stick to the cot or chair. The women always wear their cloth in one piece, and are not allowed, like other Holeyas, to have it made of two pieces. The Bākudas will not eat food prepared or touched by Bilimaggas, Jādas, Paravas or Nalkes. The headman is called Mukhari. The office is hereditary, and, in some places, is, as with the Guttinaya of the Bants, connected with his house-site. This being fixed, he should remain at that house, or his appointment will lapse, except with the general consent of the community to his retaining it. In some places, the Mukhari has two assistants, called Jammana and Bondari, of whom the latter has to distribute [346]toddy at assemblies of the caste. On all ceremonial occasions, the Mukhari has to be treated with great respect, and even an individual who gets possessed by the bhūtha (devil) has to touch him with his kadasale (sword). In cases of adultery, a purificatory ceremony, called gudi suddha, is performed. The erring woman’s relations construct seven small huts, through which she has to pass, and they are burned down. The fact of this purificatory ceremony taking place is usually proclaimed by the Bōndari, and the saying is that 280 people should assemble. They sprinkle water brought from a temple or sthana (devil shrine) and cow’s urine over the woman just before she passes through the huts. A small quantity of hair from her head, a few hairs from the eyelids, and nails from her fingers are thrown into the huts. In some places, the delinquent has to drink a considerable quantity of salt-water and cow-dung water.

Her relatives have to pay a small money fine to the village deity. The ordeal of passing through huts is also practiced by the Koragas of South Canara. “The suggestion,” Mr. R. E. Enthoven writes, “seems to be a rapid representation of seven existences, the outcaste regaining his (or her) status after seven generations have passed without further transgression. The parallel suggested is the law of Manu that seven generations are necessary to efface a lapse from the law of endogamous marriage.”

The special bhūthas of the Bākudas are Kodababbu and Kamberlu (or Kangilu), but Jumādi, Panjurli, and Tanimaniya are also occasionally worshipped. For the propitiation of Kodababbu, Nalkes are engaged to put on the disguise of this bhūtha, whereas Bākudas themselves dress up for the propitiation of Kamberlu in cocoanut leaves tied round the head and waist. Thus [347]disguised, they go about the streets periodically, collecting alms from door to door. Kamberlu is supposed to cause small-pox, cholera, and other epidemic diseases.

On the day fixed for the betrothal ceremony, among the Bākudas, a few people assemble at the home of the bride-elect, and the Mukharis of both parties exchange betel or beat the palms of their hands, and proclaim that all quarrels must cease, and the marriage is to be celebrated. Toddy is distributed among those assembled. The bride’s party visit the parents of the bridegroom, and receive then or subsequently a white cloth, four rupees, and three bundles of rice. On the wedding day, those who are present seat themselves in front of the house where the ceremony is to take place, and are given betel to chew. A new mat is spread, and the bride and bridegroom stand thereon. If there is a Kodababbu sthana in the vicinity, the jewels belonging thereto are worn by the bridegroom, who also wears a red cap, which is usually kept in the sthana, and carries in his hand the sword (kadasale) belonging thereto. The Mukhari or Jammana asks if the five groups of people, from Barkūr, Mangalore, Shivalli, Chithpādi, Mudanidambūr, and Udayavara, are present. Five men come forward, and announce that this is so, and say “all relationship involving prohibited degrees may snap, and cease to exist.” A tray of rice and a lamp are placed before the contracting couple, and those present throw rice over their heads. All then go to the toddy shop, and have a drink. They then return to the house and partake of a meal, at which the bridegroom and his bestman (maternal uncle’s son) are seated apart. Cooked rice is heaped up on a leaf before the bridegroom, and five piles of fish curry are placed thereon. First the bridegroom eats a portion thereof, and the remainder is [348]finished off by the bestman. The bridal couple then stand once more on the mat, and the Mukhari joins their hands, saying “No unlawful marriage should take place. Prohibited relationship must be avoided.” He sprinkles water from culms of Cynodon Dactylon over the united hands.

The body of a dead Bākuda is washed with hot water, in which mango (Mangifera indica) bark is steeped. The dead are buried. The day for the final death ceremonies (bojja) is usually fixed by the Mukhari or Jammana. On that day, cooked food is offered to the deceased, and all cry “muriyo, muriyo.” The son, after being shaved, and with his face veiled by a cloth, carries cooked rice on his head to a small hut erected for the occasion. The food is set down, and all present throw some of it into the hut.

The Mēra or Mugayar Holeyas, like the Bākudas, abstain from eating beef, and refuse to touch leather in any form. They have no objection to carrying four-legged articles. Though their mother tongue is Tulu, they seem to follow the makkala santāna law of inheritance (in the male line). Their headman is entitled Kuruneru, and he has, as the badge of office, a cane with a silver band. The office of headman passes to the son instead of to the nephew. Marriage is called Badathana, and the details of the ceremony are like those of the Māri Holeyas. The dead are buried, and the final death ceremonies (bojja or sāvu) are performed on the twelfth or sixteenth day. A feast is given to some members of the community, and cooked food offered to the deceased at the house and near the grave.

The Māri or Mārimanisaru Holeyas are sometimes called Kāradhi by the Bākudas. Like certain Malayālam castes, the Holeyas have distinct names for their homes [349]according to the section. Thus, the huts of the Māri Holeyas are called kelu, and those of the Mēra Holeyas patta. The headmen among the Māri Holeyas are called Mūlia, Boltiyādi, and Kallali. The office of headman follows in the female line of succession. In addition to various bhūthas, such as Panjurli and Jumādi, the Māri Holeyas have two special bhūthas, named Kattadhe and Kānadhe, whom they regard as their ancestors. At times of festivals, these ancestors are supposed to descend on earth, and make their presence known by taking possession of some member of the community. Men who are liable to be so possessed are called Dharipuneyi, and have the privilege of taking up the sword and bell belonging to the bhūthasthana when under possession.

Marriage among the Māri Holeyas is called porathāvu. At the betrothal ceremony, the headmen of the contracting parties exchange betel leaves and areca nuts. The bride-price usually consists of two bundles of rice and a bundle of paddy (unhusked rice). On the wedding day the bridegroom and his party go to the home of the bride, taking with them a basket containing five seers of rice, two metal bangles, one or two cocoanuts, a comb, and a white woman’s cloth, which are shown to the headman of the bride’s party. The two headmen order betel leaf and areca nuts to be distributed among those assembled. After a meal, a mat is spread in front of the hut, and the bride and bridegroom stand thereon. The bridegroom has in his hand a sword, and the bride holds some betel leaves and areca nuts. Rice is thrown over their heads, and presents of money are given to them. The two headmen lift up the hands of the contracting couple, and they are joined together. The bride is lifted up so as to be a little higher than the bridegroom, and is taken indoors. The bridegroom follows her, but is [350]prevented from entering by his brother-in-law, to whom he gives betel leaves and areca nuts. He then makes a forcible entrance into the hut.

When a Māri Holeya girl reaches puberty, she is expected to remain within a hut for twelve days, at the end of which time the castemen are invited to a feast. The girl is seated on a pattern drawn on the floor. At the four corners thereof, vessels filled with water are placed. The girl’s mother holds over her head a plantain leaf, and four women belonging to different balis (septs) pour water thereon from the vessels. These women and the girl then sit down to a meal, and eat off the same leaf.

Among the Māri Holeyas, the dead are usually buried, and the final death ceremonies are performed on the twelfth day. A pit is dug near the grave, into which an image of the deceased, made of rice straw, is put. The image is set on fire by his son or nephew. The ashes are heaped up, and a rude hut is erected round them by fixing three sticks in the ground, and covering them with a cloth. Food is offered on a leaf, and the dead person is asked to eat it.

The Kūsa Holeyas speak Canarese. They object to carrying articles with four legs, unless the legs are crossed. They do not eat beef, and will not touch leather. They consider themselves to be superior to the other sections of Holeyas, and use as an argument that their caste name is Uppāra, and not Holeya. Why they are called Uppāra is not clear, but some say that they are the same as the Uppāras (salt workers) of Mysore, who, in South Canara, have descended in the social scale. The hereditary occupation of the Uppāras is making salt from salt earth (ku, earth). The headman of the Kūsa Holeyas is called Buddivant. As they are disciples of a [351]Lingāyat priest at the mutt at Kudli in Mysore, they are Saivites. Every family has to pay the priest a fee of eight annas on the occasion of his periodical visitations. The bhūthas specially worshipped by the Kūsa Holeyas are Masti and Hālemanedeyya, but Venkatarāmana of Tirupati is by some regarded as their family deity. Marriage is both infant and adult, and widows are permitted to remarry, if they have no children.

At Tumkūr, in the Mysore Province, I came across a settlement of people called Tigala Holeya, who do not intermarry with other Holeyas, and have no exogamous septs or house-names. Their cranial measurements approach more nearly to those of the dolichocephalic Tamil Paraiyans than those of the sub-brachycephalic Holeyas; and it is possible that they are Tamil Paraiyans, who migrated, at some distant date, to Mysore.

Cephalic length. Cephalic breadth. Cephalic index.
cm. cm.
Tamil Paraiyan 18.6 13.7 73.6
Tigala Holeya 18.5 13.9 75.1
Holeya 17.9 14.1 79.1

Holodia Gudiya.—A name for the agricultural section of the Oriya Gudiyas.

Holuva (holo, plough).—A synonym of Pentiya, and the name of a section of Oriya Brāhmans, who plough the land.

Hon.—Hon, Honnu, and Honnē, meaning gold, have been recorded as gōtras or exogamous septs of Kurni, Oddē, and Kuruba.

Honnē (Calophyllum inophyllum or Pterocarpus Marsupium).—An exogamous sept of Halēpaik and [352]Mogēr. The Halēpaiks sometimes call the sept Sura Honnē.

Honnungara (gold ring).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Huli (tiger).—An exogamous sub-sept of Kāppiliyan.

Hullu (grass).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Hunisē (tamarind).—An exogamous sub-sept of Kāppiliyan.

Hutta (ant-hill).—An exogamous sept of Gangadikāra Holeya.

Huvvina (flowers).—An exogamous sept of Oddē and Vakkaliga.

1 Madras Census Report, 1891.

2 Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life.

3 Hobson-Jobson.

4 Letters from Madras. By a Lady. 1843.

5 Monograph, Eth. Survey of Bombay, 12, 1904.

6 T. P. Hughes., Dictionary of Islam.

7 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

8 Manual of the South Canara district.

9 Manual of Coorg.

10 Manual of the South Canara district.

11 Manual of Coorg.

12 Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar.

13 Manual of the South Canara district.

14 Ind. Ant. II, 1873.


Īchcham (date-palm: Phœnix sylvestris).—Īchcham or Īchanjānār is recorded, in the Tanjore Manual, as a section of Shānān. The equivalent Īchang occurs as a tree or kothu of Kondaiyankōttai Maravans.

Idachēri.—An occupational name for a section of Nāyars, who make and sell dairy produce. The word corresponds to Idaiyan in the Tamil country.

Idaiyan.—The Idaiyans are the great pastoral or shepherd caste of the Tamil country, but some are landowners, and a few are in Government employ. Those whom I examined at Coimbatore were engaged as milkmen, shepherds, cultivators, gardeners, cart-drivers, shopkeepers, constables, family doctors, and mendicants.

It is recorded in the Tanjore Manual that “the Rev. Mr. Pope says that Ideir are so-called from idei, middle, being a kind of intermediate link between the farmers and merchants.” Mr. Nelson1 considers this derivation [353]to be fanciful, and thinks that “perhaps they are so called from originally inhabiting the lands which lay midway between the hills and the arable lands, the jungly plains, suited for pasturage [i.e., the middle land out of the five groups of land mentioned in Tamil works, viz., Kurinji, Pālai, Mullai, Marutam, Neytal].2 The class consists of several clans, but they may be broadly divided into two sections, the one more thoroughly organised, the other retaining most of the essential characteristics of an aboriginal race. The first section follow the Vaishnava sect, wear the nāmam, and call themselves Yādavas. Those belonging to the second section stick to their demon worship, and make no pretensions to a descent from the Yādava race. They daub their foreheads with the sacred cow-dung ashes, and are regarded, apparently from this circumstance alone, to belong to the Saiva sect.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1871, it is noted that milkmen and cowherds appear to hold a social position of some importance, and even Brāhmans do not disdain to drink milk or curds from their hands. Further, the Census Superintendent, 1901, writes that “the Idaiyans take a higher social position than they would otherwise do, owing to the tradition that Krishna was brought up by their caste, and to the fact that they are the only purveyors of milk, ghī (clarified butter), etc., and so are indispensable to the community. All Brāhmans, except the most orthodox, will accordingly eat butter-milk and butter brought by them. In some places they have the privilege of breaking the butter-pot on the Gōkulāshtami, or Krishna’s birthday, and get a new cloth and some money for doing it. They will eat in the houses of Vellālas, Pallis, and Nattamāns.” [354]

The Idaiyans claim that Timma Rāja, the prime minister of Krishna Dēva Rāya of Vijayanagar, who executed various works in the Chingleput district, was an Idaiyan by caste.

The Idaiyans have returned a large number of divisions, of which the following may be noted:—

Kalkatti and Pāsi. The women, contrary to the usual Tamil custom, have black beads in their tāli-string. The practice is apparently due to the influence of Telugu Brāhman purōhits, as various Telugu castes have glass beads along with the bottu (marriage badge). In like manner, the married Pandamutti Palli women wear a necklace of black beads. According to a legend, pāsi is a pebble found in rivers, from which beads are made. A giant came to kill Krishna when he was playing with the shepherd boys on the banks of a river. He fought the giant with these pebbles, and killed him.

Pāl, milk. Corresponds to the Hālu (milk) division of the Canarese Kuruba shepherd caste.

Pendukkumekki, denoting those who are subservient to their women. A man, on marriage, joins his wife’s family, and he succeeds to the property, not of his father, but of his father-in-law.

Siviyan or Sivāla. An occupational name, meaning palanquin-bearer.

Sangukatti, or those who tie the conch or chank shell (Turbinella rapa). It is narrated that Krishna wanted to marry Rukmani, whose family insisted on marrying her to Sishupālan. When the wedding was about to take place, Krishna carried off Rukmani, and placed a bangle made of chank shell on her wrist.

Sāmbān, a name of Siva. Most members of this division put on the sacred ashes as a sectarian mark. It is said that the Yādavas were in the habit of making [355]offerings to Dēvēndra, but Krishna wanted them to worship him. With the exception of a few Yādavas and Paraiyans who were also employed in grazing cattle, all the shepherds refused to do so. It is stated that “in ancient times, men of the Idaiyan caste ranked only a little above Paraiyans, and that the Idaichēri, or Idaiyan suburb, was always situated close to the Paraichēri, or Paraiyan’s suburb, in every properly constituted village.”3

Pudunāttu or Puthukkanāttar, meaning people of the new country. The Idaiyans claim that, when Krishna settled in Kishkindha, he peopled it with members of their caste.

Perūn (big) Tāli, and Siru (small) Tāli, indicating those whose married women wear a large or small tāli.

Panjāram or Panchāramkatti. The name is derived from the peculiar gold ornament called panjāram or panchāram shaped like a many-rayed sun, and having three dots on it, which is worn by widows. It is said that in this division “widow marriage is commonly practiced, because Krishna used to place a similar ornament round the necks of the Idaiyan widows of whom he became enamoured, to transform them from widows into married women, to whom pleasure was not forbidden, and that this sub-division is the result of these amours.”4

Maniyakkāra. Derived from mani, a bell, such as is tied round the necks of cattle, sheep and goats.

Kalla. Most numerous in the area inhabited by the Kallan caste. Possibly an offshoot of this caste, composed of those who have taken to the occupation of shepherds. Like the Kallans, this sub-division has exogamous septs or kīlais, e.g., Dēva (god), Vēndhan (king). [356]

Shōlia. Territorial name denoting inhabitants of the Chōla country.

Ānaikombu, or elephant tusk, which was the weapon used by Krishna and the Yādavas to kill the giant Sakatasura.

Karutthakādu, black cotton country. A sub-division found mostly in Madura and Tinnevelly, where there is a considerable tract of black cotton soil.

The Perumāl Mādukkārans or Perumāl Erudukkārans (see Gangeddu), who travel about the country exhibiting performing bulls, are said to belong to the Pū (flower) Idaiyan section of the Idaiyan caste. This is so named because the primary occupation thereof was, and in some places still is, making garlands for temples.

In the Gazetteer of the Madura district, it is recorded that “Podunāttu (Pudunāttu?) Idaiyans have a tradition that they originally belonged to Tinnevelly, but fled to this district secretly one night in a body in the time of Tirumala Nāyakkan, because the local chief oppressed them. Tirumala welcomed them, and put them under the care of the Kallan headman Pinnai Dēvan, decreeing that, to ensure that this gentleman and his successors faithfully observed the charge, they should always be appointed by an Idaiyan. That condition is observed to this day. In this sub-division a man has the same right to marry his paternal aunt’s daughter as is possessed by the Kallans. But, if the woman’s age is much greater than the boy’s, she is usually married instead to his cousin, or some one else on that side of the family. A Brāhman officiates at weddings, and the sacred fire is used, but the bridegroom’s sister ties the tāli (marriage badge). Divorce and the remarriage of widows are prohibited. The dead, except infants, are burnt. Caste affairs are settled by a headman called the Nāttānmaikāran, who is [357]assisted by an accountant and a peon. All three are elected. The headman has the management of the caste fund, which is utilised in the celebration of festivals on certain days in some of the larger temples of the district. Among these Podunāttus, an uncommon rule of inheritance is in force. A woman who has no male issue at the time of her husband’s death has to return his property to his brother, father, or maternal uncle, but is allotted maintenance, the amount of which is fixed by a caste panchāyat (council). Among the Valasu and Pendukkumekki sub-divisions, another odd form of maintenance subsists. A man’s property descends to his sons-in-law, who live with him, and not to his sons. The sons merely get maintenance until they are married.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Pōndan or Pōgandan is recorded as a sub-caste of Idaiyans, who are palanquin-bearers to the Zamorin of Calicut. In this connection, it is noted by Mr. K. Kannan Nāyar5 that “among the Konar (cowherds) of Poondurai near Erode (in the Coimbatore district), who, according to tradition, originally belonged to the same tribe as the Gopas living in the southern part of Kērala, and now forming a section of the Nāyars, the former matrimonial customs were exactly the same as those of the Nāyars. They, too, celebrated tāli-kettu kalyānam, and, like the Nāyars, did not make it binding on the bride and bridegroom of the ceremony to live as husband and wife. They have now, however, abandoned the custom, and have made the tying of the tāli the actual marriage ceremony.”

The typical panchāyat (village council) system exists among the Idaiyans, and the only distinguishing feature is the existence of a headman, called Kīthāri or Kīlāri, [358]whose business it is to look after the sheep of the village, to arrange for penning them in the fields. In some places the headman is called Ambalakkāran. In bygone days, those who were convicted of adultery were tied to a post, and beaten.

In some places, when a girl reaches puberty, her maternal uncle, or his sons, build a hut with green cocoanut leaves, which she occupies for sixteen days, when purificatory ceremonies are performed.

The marriage ceremonies vary according to locality, and the following details of one form therefore, as carried out at Coimbatore, may be cited. When a marriage between two persons is contemplated, a red and white flower, tied up in separate betel leaves, are thrown before the idol at a temple. A little child is told to pick up one of the leaves, and, if she selects the one containing the white flower, the omens are considered auspicious, and the marriage will be arranged. On the day of the betrothal, the future bridegroom’s father and other relations go to the girl’s house with presents of a new cloth, fruits, and ornaments. The bride price (pariyam) is paid, and betel exchanged. The bridegroom-elect goes to the girl’s cousins (maternal uncle’s sons), who have a right to marry her, and presents them with four annas and betel. The acceptance of these is a sign that they consent to the marriage. On the marriage day, the bridegroom plants the milk-post, after it has been blessed by a Brāhman purōhit, and is shaved by a barber. The bride and her female relations fetch some earth, and a platform is made out of it in the marriage pandal (booth). The Brāhman makes fire (hōmam), and places a cowdung Pillayar (Ganēsa) in the pandal. The bride then husks some rice therein. The relations of the bride and bridegroom fetch from the potter’s house seven pots called [359]adukupānai, two large pots, called arasānipānai, and seven earthen trays, and place them in front of the platform. The pots are filled with water, and a small bit of gold is placed in each. The bridegroom goes to a Pillayar shrine, and, on his return, the bride’s brother washes his feet, and puts rings on his second toes. The kankanams (wrist-threads) are tied on the wrists of the contracting couple, and the bridegroom takes his seat within the pandal, to which the bride is carried in the arms of one of her maternal uncles, while another carries a torch light placed on a mortar. The bride takes her seat by the side of the bridegroom, and the light is set in front of them. The tāli is taken round to be blessed by those assembled, and handed to the bridegroom, who ties it on the bride’s neck. The couple then put a little earth in each of the seven trays, and sow therein nine kinds of grain. Two vessels, containing milk and whey, are placed before them, and the relations pour a little thereof over their heads. The right hand of the bridegroom is placed on the left hand of the bride, and their hands are tied together by one of the bride’s maternal uncle’s sons. The bride is then carried into the house in the arms of an elder brother of the bridegroom. At the threshold she is stopped by the maternal uncle’s sons, who may beat the man who is carrying her. The bridegroom pays them each four annas, and he and the bride are allowed to enter the house. On the night of the wedding day, they are shut up in a room. During the following days the pots are worshipped. On the seventh day, the ends of the cloths of the newly married couple are tied together, and they bathe in turmeric water. The wrist-threads are removed, they rub oil over each other’s heads, and bathe in a tank. The bride serves food to the bridegroom, and their relations eat off the same leaf, [360]to indicate the union between the two families. Into one of the large pots a gold and silver ring, and into the other an iron style and piece of palm leaf are dropped. The couple perform the pot-searching ceremony, and whichever gets hold of the gold ring or style is regarded as the more clever of the two. The bridegroom places his right foot, and the bride her left foot on a grindstone, and they look at the star Arundathi. The stone represents Ahalliya, the wife of the sage Gautama, who was cursed by her husband for her misconduct with Indra, and turned into a stone, whereas Arundathi was the wife of Vasishta and a model of chastity. The newly married couple, by placing their feet on the stone, indicate their intention of checking unchaste desires, and by looking at Arundathi, of remaining faithful to each other. The bride decorates a small grindstone with a cloth and ornaments, and takes it round to all her relations who are present, and who bless her with a hope that she will have many children.

In the Marava country, a grown-up Idaiyan girl is sometimes married to a boy of ten or twelve. Among some Idaiyans, it is customary for the tāli to be tied by the sister of the bridegroom, and not by the bridegroom, who must not be present when it is done.

It is said that, in some places, like the Gollas, when an Idaiyan bridegroom sets out for the house of his bride, he is seized by his companions, who will not release him till he has paid a piece of gold. In the Madura Manual it is noted that “at an Idaiyan wedding, on the third day, when the favourite amusement of sprinkling turmeric-water over the guests is concluded, the whole party betake themselves to the village tank (pond). A friend of the bridegroom brings a hoe and a basket, and the young husband fills three baskets with earth from the [361]bottom of the tank, while the wife takes them away, and throws the earth behind. They then say ‘We have dug a ditch for charity.’ This practice may probably be explained by remembering that, in arid districts, where the Idaiyans often tend their cattle, the tank is of the greatest importance.”

It is said that the Siviyan and Pendukkumekki sub-divisions take low rank, as the remarriage of widows is freely permitted among them. In the Ramnād territory of the Madura district, the marriage of widows is attributed to compulsion by a Zamindar. According to the story, the Zamindar asked an Idaiyan whether he would marry a widow. The reply was that widows are aruthukattādhavar, i.e., women who will not tie the tāli string again, after snapping it (on the husband’s decease). This was considered impertinent by the Zamindar, as marriage of widows was common among the Maravars. To compel the Idaiyans to resort to widow marriage, he took advantage of the ambiguity of the word aruthukattādhavar, which would also mean those who do not tie up in a bundle after cutting or reaping. At the time of the harvest season, the Zamindar sent his servants to the Idaiyans with orders that they were not to tie up the rice plants in sheaves. This led to severe monetary loss, and the Idaiyans consented reluctantly to widow remarriage.

On the death of a married Idaiyan, at Coimbatore, the corpse is placed in a seated posture. A measure of rice, a lighted lamp, and a cocoanut are placed near it, and burning fire-wood is laid at the door of the house. When the relations and friends have arrived, the body is removed from the house, and placed in a pandal, supported behind by a mortar. The male relations put on the sacred thread, and each brings a pot of water from [362]a tank. The widow rubs oil over the head of the corpse, and some one, placing a little oil in the hands thereof, rubs it over her head. On the way to the burning-ground, a barber carries a fire-brand and a pot, and a washerman carries the mat, cloths, and other articles used by the deceased. When the idukādu, a spot made to represent the shrine of Arichandra who is in charge of the burial or burning ground, is reached, the polluted articles are thrown away, and the bier is placed on the ground. A Paraiyan makes a cross-mark at the four corners of the bier, and the son, who is chief mourner, places a small coin on three of the marks, leaving out the one at the north-east corner. The Paraiyan takes these coins and tears a bit of cloth from the winding-sheet, which is sent to the widow. At the burning-ground, the relations place rice, water, and small coins in the mouth of the corpse. The coins are the perquisite of the Paraiyan. The son, who is clean-shaved, carries a pot of water on his shoulder thrice round the pyre, and, at each turn, the barber makes a hole in it with a chank shell, when the head is reached. Finally the pot is broken near the head. The sacred threads are thrown by those who wear them on the pyre, and the son sets fire to it, and goes away without looking back. The widow meanwhile has broken her tāli string, and thrown it into a vessel of milk, which is set on the spot where the deceased breathed his last. The son, on his return home after bathing, steps across a pestle placed at the threshold. Ārathi (wave offering) is performed, and he worships a lighted lamp within the house. On the following day, rice and Sesbania grandiflora are cooked, and served to the relatives by the widow’s brothers. Next day, milk, ghī (clarified butter), curds, tender cocoanuts, nine kinds of grain, water, and other [363]articles required for worship, are taken to the burning-ground. The smouldering ashes are extinguished with water, and the fragments of the bones are collected, and placed on a leaf. A miniature plough is made, and the spot on which the body was burned is ploughed, and the nine kinds of grain are sown. On his return home, a turban is placed on the head of the son who acted as chief mourner by his maternal uncles. A new cloth is folded, and on it a betel leaf is placed, which is worshipped for sixteen days. On the sixteenth day, a Brāhman makes a human figure with holy grass, which has to be worshipped by the chief mourner not less than twenty-five times, and he must bathe between each act of worship. The bones are then carried in a new earthen pot, and floated on a stream. At night, food is cooked, and, with a new cloth, worshipped. Rice is cooked at the door. A cock is tied to a sacrificial post, called kazhukumaram, set up outside the house, to which the rice is offered. One end of a thread is tied to the post, and the other end to a new cloth, which is worshipped inside the house. The thread is watched till it shakes, and then broken. The door is closed, and the cock is stuck on the pointed tip of the post, and killed. An empty car is carried in procession through the streets, and alms are given to beggars. A widow should remain gōsha (in seclusion) for twelve months after her husband’s death. When a grown-up, but unmarried male or female dies, a human figure, made out of holy grass, is married to the corpse, and some of the marriage rites are performed.

The Idaiyans are Vaishnavites, and the more civilised among them are branded like Vaishnava Brāhmans. Saturday is considered a holy day. Their most important festival is Krishna Jayanti, or Srī Jayanti, in honour [364]of Krishna’s birthday. They show special reverence for the vessels used in dairy operations.

The proverb that the sense of an Idaiyan is on the back of his neck, for it was there that he received the blows, refers to “the story of the shepherd entering the gate of his house with a crook placed horizontally on his shoulders, and finding himself unable to get in, and his being made able to do so by a couple of blows on his back, and the removal of the crook at the same time. Another proverb is that there is neither an Āndi among Idaiyans, nor a Tādan among the potters. The Āndi is always a Saivite beggar, and, the Idaiyans being always Vaishnavites, they can never have in their midst a beggar of the Saivite sect, or vice versâ. Being extremely stupid, whenever any dispute arises among them, they can never come to any definite settlement, or, as the proverb says, the disputes between Idaiyans are never easily settled. Keeping and rearing cattle, grazing and milking them, and living thereby, are their allotted task in life, and so they are never good agriculturists. This defect is alluded to in the proverb that the field watered by the Idaiyan, or by a member of the Palli caste, must ever remain a waste.”6

Other proverbs, quoted by the Rev. H. Jensen,7 are as follows:—

The shepherd can get some fool to serve him.

Like a shepherd who would not give anything, but showed an ewe big with young.

The shepherd destroyed half, and the fool half.

In 1904, an elementary school for Idaiyans, called the Yādava school, was established at Madura. [365]

The usual title of the Idaiyans is Kōnān or Kōn meaning King, but, in the Census Report, 1901, the titles Pillai and Kariyālan are also recorded. In the Census Report, 1891, Idaiya is given as a sub-division of Vakkaiga; and, in the Salem Manual, Idaiyan appears as a synonym of Shānān.

For the following note on the Idaiyans who have settled in Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. They consist of two well-defined sections, namely, the Tamil-speaking Idaiyans, who are but recent immigrants, and largely found in Tevala, Agastisvaram and Shenkotta, and the Malayālam-speaking branch, who are early settlers residing chiefly in Kartikapalli and other taluks of Central Travancore. The Idaiyans are not largely found in Travancore, because a branch of the indigenous Sūdra community, the Idachēri Nāyars, are engaged in the same occupation. They are divided into two classes, viz., Kangayan (shepherds) and Puvandans, who neither interdine nor intermarry. The latter appear to be divided into four classes, Pāsi, Gopālan, Nambi, and Valayitayan. Puvandan is another form of the word Pōndan, which means a palanquin-bearer. It is well known that, in the Tamil country, this was one of the duties of the Idaiyans, as is evident from a sub-division called Sivi or Siviyar (palanquin) existing among them. In the early settlement records of Travancore, they are referred to as Sibis. Many fancy, though incorrectly, that the word means one who collects flowers. As the Sibis were experts in palanquin-bearing, they must have been brought from the Tamil country to serve the mediæval Rājas. At the present day, besides pursuing their traditional occupation, they also engage in agriculture and trade. The position of the Puvandans in society is not low. They are entitled to the services of [366]the Brāhman’s washerman and barber, and they may enter temples, and advance as far as the place to which Nāyars go, except in some parts of Central Travancore. They are flesh-eaters, and the drinking of intoxicating liquor is not prohibited. On ceremonial occasions, women wear the Tamil Idaiya dress, while at other times they adopt the attire of Nāyar women. Their ornaments are foreign, and clearly indicate that they are a Tamil caste. The marriage badge is called sankhu tāli, and a small conch-shaped ornament forms its most conspicuous feature. Besides the ordinary Hindu deities, they worship Mātam, Yakshi, and Maruta. At weddings, the Idaiyan bridegroom holds a sword in his left hand, while he takes hold of the bride by the right hand. Funeral ceremonies are supervised by a barber, who officiates as priest. Corpses are either burnt or buried. Though they appear to observe only eleven days’ death pollution, they cannot enter a temple until the expiry of sixteen days. An anniversary ceremony in memory of the deceased is performed on the new-moon day in the month of Karkātakam (July-August), and, on this day, most members of the caste go to Varkalai to perform the rite. Many purely Tamil names are still preserved in the caste, such as Tambi, Chāmi, Bhagavati, and Chāttu.

Idakottu (those who break).—An exogamous sept of Oddēs, who, during their work as navvies, break stones.

Idangai (left-hand).—Recorded, at times of census, as a division of Dēva-dāsis, who do service for castes belonging to the left-hand section.

Īdiga.—The Telugu toddy-drawers, whose hereditary occupation is the extraction of the juice of the date and palmyra palms, go by different names in different localities. Those, for example, who live in the Salem, North Arcot and Chingleput districts, are called Īdigas [367]or Indras. In the Northern Circars and the Nellore district, they are known as Gamallas or Gamandlas, and in the Cuddapah district as Asilis.

It is recorded, in the North Arcot Manual, that “Īdiga is one of the toddy-drawing castes of the Telugu country, the name being derived from Telugu īdchu, to draw. The Īdigas are supposed to be a branch of the Balija tribe, separated on account of their occupation. They are chiefly Vaishnavites, having Sātānis as their priests. They are divided into two classes, the Dandu (army)8 Īdigas and the Balija Īdigas, of whom the former used originally to distil arrack, but, now that the manufacture is a monopoly, they usually sell it. The Balija Īdigas extract toddy, the juice of the palm tree. They differ from the Shānāns in some of their professional customs, for, while the Tamilians in climbing tie their knives behind them, the Telugus tie them on the right thigh. Tamilian drawers extract the juice from palmyras and cocoanuts, but rarely from the date, and the Telugus from the palmyras and dates, but never from cocoanuts. The chief object of their worship is Yellamma, the deity who presides over toddy and liquor. On every Sunday, the pots containing liquor are decorated with flowers, saffron, etc., and offerings are made to them.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that “it is said that the Īdigas are the descendants of Balijas from Rajahmundry in Godāvari district, and that their occupation separated them into a distinct caste. They are divided into two endogamous sections called either Dandu and Palli, or Pātha (old) and Kotta (new). The headman of the caste is called Gaudu. They employ Brāhmans as purōhits for their ceremonies, and these [368]Brāhmans are received on terms of equality by other Brāhmans. They bury their dead, and observe pollution for twelve days, during which they abstain from eating flesh. The consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited, and is severely punished by the headman of the caste. They eat with all Balijas, except the Gāzulu section. Their titles are Aiya, Appa, and Gaudu.”

It is noted by Mr. F. Fawcett that “in the northern districts, among the Telugu population, the toddy-drawers use a ladder about eight or nine feet in length, which is placed against the tree, to avoid climbing a third or fourth of it. While in the act of climbing up or down, they make use of a wide band, which is passed round the body at the small of the back, and round the tree. This band is easily fastened with a toggle and eye. The back is protected by a piece of thick soft leather. It gives great assistance in climbing, which it makes easy. All over the southernmost portion of the peninsula, among the Shānāns and Tiyans, the ladder and waist-band are unknown. They climb up and down with their hands and arms, using only a soft grummel of coir (cocoanut fibre) to keep the feet near together.”

The Īdigas claim to be descended from Vyāsa, the traditional compiler of the Mahābhārata. In a note by Mr. F. R. Hemingway on the Īdigas of the Godāvari district, they are said to worship a deity, to whom they annually offer fowls on New Year’s day, and make daily offerings of a few drops of toddy from the first pot taken from the tree. In this district they are commonly called Chetti.

The insigne of the Īdigas, as recorded at Conjeeveram, is a ladder.9 [369]

Idiya (pounder).—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a division of Konkani Sūdras. The Idiyans prepare rice in a special manner. Paddy is soaked in water, and roasted over a fire. While hot, it is placed in a mortar, and pounded with a pestle. This rice is called avil, which is said to be largely used as a delicacy in Travancore, and to be employed in certain religious ceremonies.

The Idiyans are stated to have left their native land near Cochin, and settled in Travancore at the invitation of a former sovereign. On arrival in the land of their adoption, they were given, free of tax, cocoanut gardens and rice land. In return, they were required to supply, free of charge, the palace of the Mahārājah and the temple of Sri Padmanabhaswāmi at Trivandrum with as much beaten rice (avil) as might be required from time to time.

Īga (fly).—An exogamous sept of Mutrācha. The equivalent Īgala occurs as an exogamous sept of Yānādi.

Ilai (leaf).—Ilai or Ele has been recorded as a sub-division of Tigalas and Toreyas who cultivate the betel vine (Piper betle). Elai Vāniyan occurs as a synonym of Senaikkudaiyans, who are betel leaf sellers in Tinnevelly.

Ilaiyāttakudi.—A sub-division of Nāttukōttai Chetti.

Ilakutiyan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Ilamagan.—The Ilamagans are described by Mr. Francis10 as “a cultivating caste found chiefly in the Zamindari taluk of Tiruppattūr in Madura. The word literally means a young man, but the young is [370]interpreted by other castes in the sense of inferior. One says that it is made up of the sons of Vallamban females and Vellāla males, another that it is a mixture of outcasted Valaiyans, Kallans and Maravans, and a third that it is descended from illegitimate children of the Vellālas and Pallis. Like the Kallans and Valaiyans, the members of the caste stretch the lobes of their ears, and leave their heads unshaven. The caste is divided into two or three endogamous sections of territorial origin. They do not employ Brāhmans as purōhits; their widows may marry again; their dead are usually buried; and they will eat pork, mutton, fowls, and fish. They are thus not high in the social scale, and are, in fact, about on a par with the Kallans. The headmen of the caste are called Ambalam.” It is suggested, in the Census Report, 1891, that, from the fact that Ilamagan appears as a sub-division of the Maravans, it may perhaps be inferred that the two castes are closely allied.

Ilampi.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Ilayatu.See Elayad.

Illa (of a house).—An exogamous sept of Yānādi.

Illam.—Defined by Mr. Wigram11 as meaning the house of an ordinary Nambūdri Brāhman. It is recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar. The name Illam Vellāla has been assumed by some Panikkans in the Tamil country, whose exogamous septs are called Illam. In Travancore, Ilakkar or Illathu, meaning those attached to Brāhman houses, is said to be an occupational sub-division of Nāyars. Ilakkar further occurs as an exogamous sept of Mala Arayans, known as the Three Thousand. [371]

Illuvellani.—The name, derived from illu, house, and vellani, those who do not go out, of a sub-division of Kammas, whose wives are kept gōsha (in seclusion).

Inaka Mukku Bhatrāzu.—Beggars attached to Padma Sālēs.

Inangan.See Enangan.

Ina Pulaya.—A sub-division of Pulayans of Travancore.

Indla (house).—An exogamous sept of Chenchu and Mutrācha.

Īndra.See Īdiga.

Īnichi (squirrel).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Inravar.—A Tamil form of Īndra.

Ippi (Bassia longifolia: mahuā).—An exogamous sept of Panta Reddi. Members of the Ippala gōtra of the Besthas may not touch or use the ippa (or ippi) tree.

Iranderudhu (two bullocks).—A sub-division of Vāniyans, who use two bullocks for their oil-mills.

Irāni (earthen vessel used at marriages).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Irāni.—A territorial name, meaning Persian, of the Shiah section of the Moghal tribe of Muhammadans. The Irānis or Beluchis are described by Mr. Paupa Rao Naidu12 as a troublesome nomad tribe “committing crime all over India openly from the houses and shops of villages and towns, mostly in broad daylight, with impunity, and escaping punishment except in rare cases. Their ostensible profession is merchandise, dealing in the following articles:—ponies, knives, scissors, padlocks, false stones, false pearls, trinkets of several kinds, toys, beads, quicksilver, and false coins of different kinds. [372]

Their camp generally consists of a few small tents, a few ponies, pack saddles to secure their culinary utensils, their dirty clothes, the leather or gunny bags containing their articles of merchandise; a few fighting cocks, and cages of birds. They are very fond of cock fighting, even on wagers of 10 to 50 rupees on each. They train these cocks specially brought up to fight.” For information concerning the criminal methods of the Irānis, I would refer the reader to Mr. Paupa Rao Naidu’s account thereof.

Iranyavarma.—The name of one of the early Pallava kings, returned at times of census as a caste name by some wealthy Pallis, who also gave themselves the title of Sōlakanar, or descendants of Chōla Kings.

Irattai Sekkān.—A sub-division of Vāniyans, who use two bullocks for their oil-mills.

Iraya.—A name for Cherumans, in Malabar, who are permitted to come as far as the eaves (ira) of their employers’ houses.

Irchakkollan (timber sawyer).—A synonym, in Travancore, of Tacchan (carpenter) Kammālan.

Irkuli.—Irkuli or Irangolli Vellāla, said to mean Vellālas who killed dampness, is a name assumed by some Vannāns.

Irpina (comb).—An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Irulas of the Nīlgiris. In the Kotagiri bazaar, which is an excellent hunting-ground for the anthropologist, may be seen gathered together on market-day Kotas, Badagas, Kanarese, Irulas, Kurumbas, and an occasional Toda from the Kodanād mand. A tribal photograph was taken there, with the result that a deputation subsequently waited on me with a petition to the effect that “We, the undersigned, beg to submit that your honour made photos of us, and has paid us nothing. [373]We, therefore, beg you to do this common act of justice.” The deputation was made happy with a pourboire.

In my hunt after Irulas, which ended in an attack of malarial fever, it was necessary to invoke the assistance and proverbial hospitality of various planters. On one occasion news reached me that a gang of Irulas, collected for my benefit under a promise of substantial remuneration, had arrived at a planter’s bungalow, whither I proceeded. The party included a man who had been “wanted” for some time in connection with the shooting of an elephant on forbidden ground. He, suspecting me of base designs, refused to be measured, on the plea that he was afraid the height-measuring standard was the gallows. Nor would he let me take his photograph, fearing (though he had never heard of Bertillonage) lest it should be used for the purpose of criminal identification. Unhappily a mischievous rumour had been circulated that I had in my train a wizard Kurumba, who would bewitch the Irulas, in order that I might abduct them (for what purpose was not stated).

As the Badagas are the fairest, so the Irulas are the darkest-skinned of the Nīlgiri tribes, on some of whom, as has been said, charcoal would leave a white mark. The name Irula, in fact, means darkness or blackness (irul), whether in reference to the dark jungles in which the Irulas, who have not become domesticated by working as contractors or coolies on planters’ estates, dwell, or to the darkness of their skin, is doubtful. Though the typical Irula is dark-skinned and platyrhine, I have noted some who, as the result of contact metamorphosis, possessed skins of markedly paler hue, and leptorhine noses.

The language of the Irulas is a corrupt form of Tamil. In their religion they are worshippers of Vishnu under the name of Rangasvāmi, to whom they do pūja [374](worship) at their own rude shrines, or at the Hindu temple at Karaimadai, where Brāhman priests officiate. “An Irula pūjāri,” Breeks writes,13 “lives near the Irula temples, and rings a bell when he performs pūja to the gods. He wears the Vishnu mark on his forehead. His office is hereditary, and he is remunerated by offerings of fruit and milk from Irula worshippers. Each Irula village pays about two annas to the pūjāri about May or June. They say that there is a temple at Kallampalla in the Sattiyamangalam tāluk, north of Rangasvāmi’s peak. This is a Siva temple, at which sheep are sacrificed. The pūjāri wears the Siva mark. They don’t know the difference between Siva and Vishnu. At Kallampalla temple is a thatched building, containing a stone called Māriamma, the well-known goddess of small-pox, worshipped in this capacity by the Irulas. A sheep is led to this temple, and those who offer the sacrifice sprinkle water over it, and cut its throat. The pūjāri sits by, but takes no part in the ceremony. The body is cut up, and distributed among the Irulas present, including the pūjāri.”

In connection with the shrine on Rangasvāmi peak, the following note is recorded in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris. “It is the most sacred hill on all the plateau. Hindu legend says that the god Rangasvāmi used to live at Karaimadai on the plains between Mettupālaiyam and Coimbatore, but quarrelled with his wife, and so came and lived here alone. In proof of the story, two footprints on the rock not far from Arakōd village below the peak are pointed out. This, however, is probably an invention designed to save the hill folk the toilsome journey to Rangasvāmi’s car festival at Karaimadai, [375]which used once to be considered incumbent upon them. In some places, the Badagas and Kotas have gone even further, and established Rangasvāmi Bettus of their own, handy for their own particular villages. On the real Rangasvāmi peak are two rude walled enclosures sacred to the god Ranga and his consort, and within these are votive offerings (chiefly iron lamps and the notched sticks used as weighing machines), and two stones to represent the deities. The hereditary pūjāri is an Irula, and, on the day fixed by the Badagas for the annual feast, he arrives from his hamlet near Nandipuram, bathes in a pool below the summit, and marches to the top shouting ‘Govinda! Govinda!’ The cry is taken up with wild enthusiasm by all those present, and the whole crowd, which includes Badagas, Irulas, and Kurumbas, surrounds the enclosures, while the Irula priest invokes the deities by blowing his conch and beating his drum, and pours oblations over, and decorates with flowers, the two stones which represent them. That night, two stone basins on the summit are filled with ghee and lighted, and the glare is visible for miles around. The ceremonies close with prayers for good rain and fruitfulness among the flocks and herds, a wild dance by the Irula, and the boiling (called pongal, the same word as pongal the Tamil agricultural feast) of much rice in milk. About a mile from Arakōd is an overhanging rock called the kodai-kal or umbrella stone, under which is found a whitish clay. This clay is used by the Irulas for making the Vaishnava marks on their foreheads at this festival.”

Irula, Nilgiris.

Irula, Nilgiris.

The following account of an Irula temple festival is given by Harkness.14 “The hair of the men, as well as of the women and children, was bound up in a fantastic [376]manner with wreaths of plaited straw. Their necks, ears, and ankles were decorated with ornaments formed of the same material, and they carried little dried gourds, in which nuts or small stones had been inserted. They rattled them as they moved, and, with the rustling of their rural ornaments, gave a sort of rhythm to their motion. The dance was performed in front of a little thatched shed, which, we learnt, was their temple. When it was concluded, they commenced a sacrifice to their deity, or rather deities, of a he-goat and three cocks. This was done by cutting the throats of the victims, and throwing them down at the feet of the idol, the whole assembly at the same time prostrating themselves. Within the temple there was a winnow, or fan, which they called Mahri—evidently the emblem of Ceres; and at a short distance, in front of the former, and some paces in advance one of the other, were two rude stones, which they call, the one Moshani, the other Konadi Mari, but which are subordinate to the fan occupying the interior of the temple.”

A village near a coffee estate, which I inspected, was, at the time of my visit, in the possession of pariah dogs and nude children, the elder children and adults being away at work. The village was protected against nocturnal feline and other feral marauders by a rude fence, and consisted of rows of single-storied huts, with verandah in front, made of split bamboo and thatched, detached huts, an abundance of fowl-houses, and cucurbitaceous plants twining up rough stages. Surrounding the village were a dense grove of plantain trees, castor-oil bushes, and cattle pens.

When not engaged at work on estates or in the forest, the Irulas cultivate, for their own consumption, rāgi (Eleusine Coracana), sāmai (Panicum miliare), tenai [377](Setaria italica), tovarai (Cajanus indicus), maize, plantains, etc. They also cultivate limes, oranges, jak fruit (Artocarpus integrifolia), etc. They, like the Kotas, will not attend to cultivation on Saturday or Monday. At the season of sowing, Badagas bring cocoanuts, plantains, milk and ghī (clarified butter), and give them to the Irulas, who, after offering them before their deity, return them to the Badagas.

“The Irulas,” a recent writer observes, “generally possess a small plot of ground near their villages, which they assiduously cultivate with grain, although they depend more upon the wages earned by working on estates. Some of them are splendid cattle-men, that is, in looking after the cattle possessed by some enterprising planter, who would add the sale of dairy produce to the nowadays pitiable profit of coffee planting. The Irula women are as useful as the men in weeding, and all estate work. In fact, planters find both men and women far more industrious and reliable than the Tamil coolies.”

“By the sale of the produce of the forests,” Harkness writes, “such as honey and bees wax, or the fruit of their gardens, the Irulas are enabled to buy grain for their immediate sustenance, and for seed. But, as they never pay any attention to the land after it is sown, or indeed to its preparation further than by partially clearing it of the jungle, and turning it up with the hoe; or, what is more common, scratching it into furrows with a stick, and scattering the grain indiscriminately, their crops are, of course, stunted and meagre. When the corn is ripe, if at any distance from the village, the family to whom the patch or field belongs will remove to it, and, constructing temporary dwellings, remain there so long as the grain lasts. Each morning they pluck as much as they think they may require for the use of that day, [378]kindle a fire upon the nearest large stone or fragment of rock, and, when it is well heated, brush away the embers, and scatter the grain upon it, which, soon becoming parched and dry, is readily reduced to meal, which is made into cakes. The stone is now heated a second time, and the cakes are put on it to bake. Or, where they have met with a stone which has a little concavity, they will, after heating it, fill the hollow with water, and, with the meal, form a sort of porridge. In this way the whole family, their friends, and neighbours, will live till the grain has been consumed. The whole period is one of merry-making. They celebrate Mahri, and invite all who may be passing by to join in the festivities. These families will, in return, be invited to live on the fields of their neighbours. Many of them live for the remainder of the year on a kind of yam, which grows wild, and is called Erula root. To the use of this they accustom their children from infancy.”

Some Irulas now work for the Forest Department, which allows them to live on the borders of the forest, granting them sites free, and other concessions. Among the minor forest produce, which they collect, are myrabolams, bees-wax, honey, vembadam bark (Ventilago Madraspatana), avaram bark (Cassia auriculata), deer’s horns, tamarinds, gum, soapnuts, and sheekoy (Acacia concinna). The forests have been divided into blocks, and a certain place within each block has been selected for the forest depot. To this place the collecting agents—mostly Shōlagars and Irulas—bring the produce, and then it is sorted, and paid for by special supervisors.15 The collection of honey is a dangerous occupation. A man, with a torch in his hand, and a number of bamboo [379]tubes suspended from his shoulders, descends by means of ropes or creepers to the vicinity of the comb. The sight of the torch drives away the bees, and he proceeds to fill the bamboos with the comb, and then ascends to the top of the rock.16

The Irulas will not (so they say) eat the flesh of buffaloes or cattle, but will eat sheep and goat, field-rats, fowls, deer, pig (which they shoot), hares (which they snare with skilfully made nets), jungle-fowl, pigeons, and quail (which they knock over with stones).

They informed Mr. Harkness that, “they have no marriage contract, the sexes cohabiting almost indiscriminately; the option of remaining in union, or of separating, resting principally with the female. Some among them, the favourites of fortune, who can afford to spend four or five rupees on festivities, will celebrate their union by giving a feast to all their friends and neighbours; and, inviting the Kurumbars to attend with their pipe and tabor, spend the night in dance and merriment. This, however, is a rare occurrence.” The marriage ceremony, as described to me, is a very simple affair. A feast is held, at which a sheep is killed, and the guests make a present of a few annas to the bridegroom, who ties up the money in a cloth, and, going to the bride’s hut, conducts her to her future home. Widows are permitted to marry again.

When an Irula dies, two Kurumbas come to the village, and one shaves the head of the other. The shorn man is fed, and presented with a cloth, which he wraps round his head. This quaint ceremonial is supposed, in some way, to bring good luck to the departed. Outside the house of the deceased, in which the corpse [380]is kept till the time of the funeral, men and women dance to the music of the Irula band. The dead are buried in a sitting posture, with the legs crossed tailorwise. Each village has its own burial-ground. A circular pit is dug, from the lower end of which a chamber is excavated, in which the corpse, clad in its own clothes, jewelry, and a new cloth, is placed with a lamp and grain. The pit is then filled in, and the position of the grave marked by a stone. On the third day a sheep is said to be killed, and a feast held. The following description of an annual ceremony was given to me. A lamp and oil are purchased, and rice is cooked in the village. They are then taken to the shrine at the burial-ground, offered up on stones, on which some of the oil is poured, and pūja is done. At the shrine, a pūjāri, with three white marks on the forehead, officiates. Like the Badaga Dēvadāri, the Irula pūjāri at times becomes inspired by the god.

Writing concerning the Kurumbas and Irulas, Mr. Walhouse says17 that “after every death among them, they bring a long water-worn stone (devva kotta kallu), and put it into one of the old cromlechs sprinkled over the Nilgiri plateau. Some of the larger of these have been found piled up to the cap-stone with such pebbles, which must have been the work of generations. Occasionally, too, the tribes mentioned make small cromlechs for burial purposes, and place the long water-worn pebbles in them.”

The following sub-divisions of the tribe have been described to me:—Poongkaru, Kudagar (people of Coorg), Kalkatti (those who tie stone), Vellaka, Devāla, and Koppilingam. Of these, the first five are considered [381]to be in the relation of brothers, so far as marriage is concerned, and do not intermarry. Members of these five classes must marry into the Koppilingam sub-division. At the census, 1901, Kasuva or Kasuba was returned as a sub-caste. The word means workmen, in allusion to the abandonment of jungle life in favour of working on planters’ estates, and elsewhere.

Irula, Nilgiris.

Irula, Nilgiris.

It is recorded by Harkness that “during the winter, or while they are wandering about the forests in search of food, driven by hunger, the families or parties separate from one another. On these occasions the women and young children are often left alone, and the mother, having no longer any nourishment for her infant, anticipates its final misery by burying it alive. The account here given was in every instance corroborated, and in such a manner as to leave no doubt in our minds of its correctness.”

The following notes are abstracted from my case-book.

Man, æt. 30. Sometimes works on a coffee estate. At present engaged in the cultivation of grains, pumpkins, jak-fruit, and plantains. Goes to the bazaar at Mettupalaiyam to buy rice, salt, chillies, oil, etc. Acquires agricultural implements from Kotas, to whom he pays annual tribute in grains or money. Wears brass earrings obtained from Kotas in exchange for vegetables and fruit. Wears turban and plain loin-cloth, wrapped round body and reaching below the knees. Bag containing tobacco and betel slung over shoulder. Skin very dark.

Woman, æt. 30. Hair curly, tied in a bunch behind round a black cotton swab. Wears a plain waist-cloth, and print body-cloth worn square across breasts and reaching below the knees. Tattooed on forehead. A mass of glass bead necklaces. Gold ornament in left [382]nostril. Brass ornament in lobe of each ear. Eight brass bangles on right wrist; two brass and six glass bangles on left wrist. Five brass rings on right first finger; four brass and one tin ring on right forefinger.

Woman, æt. 25. Red cadjan (palm leaf) roll in dilated lobes of ears. Brass and glass bead ornament in helix of right ear. Brass ornament in left nostril. A number of bead necklets, one with young cowry shells pendent, another consisting of a heavy roll of black beads. The latter is very characteristic of Irula female adornment. One steel bangle, eight brass bangles, and one chank-shell bangle on right wrist; three lead, six glass bangles, and one glass bead bangle on left wrist. One steel and one brass ring on left little finger.

Woman, æt. 35. Wears loin-cloth only. Breasts fully exposed. Cap of Badaga pattern on head.

Girl, æt. 8. Lobe of each ear being dilated by a number of wooden sticks like matches.

Average stature 159.8 cm.; nasal index 85 (max. 100).

Irulas of Chingleput, North and South Arcot. The Irulas, or Villiyans (bowmen), who have settled in the town of Chingleput, about fifty miles distant from Madras, have attained to a higher degree of civilisation than the jungle Irulas of the Nīlgiris, and are defined, in the Census Report, 1901, as a semi-Brāhmanised forest tribe, who speak a corrupt Tamil.

In a note on the Irulas, Mackenzie writes as follows.18 “After the Yuga Pralayam (deluge, or change from one Yuga to another) the Villars or Irulans, Malayans, and Vedans, supposed to be descendants of a Rishi under the influence of a malignant curse, were living in the forests in a state of nature, though they have now taken to [383]wearing some kind of covering—males putting on skins, and females stitched leaves. Roots, wild fruits, and honey constitute their dietary, and cooked rice is always rejected, even when gratuitously offered. They have no clear ideas about God, though they offer rice (wild variety) to the goddess Kanniamma. The legend runs that a Rishi, Mala Rishi by name, seeing that these people were much bothered by wild beasts, took pity on them, and for a time lived with them. He mixed freely with their women, and as the result, several children were born, who were also molested by wild animals. To free them from these, the Rishi advised them to do pūja (worship) to Kanniamma. Several other Rishis are also believed to have lived freely in their midst, and, as a result, several new castes arose, among which were the Yānādis, who have come into towns, take food from other castes, eat cooked rice, and imitate the people amidst whom they happen to live.” In which respects the Irula is now following the example of the Yānādi.

Many of the Chingleput Irulas are very dark-skinned, with narrow chests, thin bodies, and flabby muscles, reminding me, in their general aspect, of the Yānādis of Nellore. Clothing is, in the men, reduced to a minimum—dhūti, and langūti of dirty white cotton cloth, or a narrow strip of gaudy Manchester piece-good. The hair is worn long and ragged, or shaved, with kudimi, in imitation of the higher classes. The moustache is slight, and the beard billy-goaty. Some of the men are tattooed with a blue dot on the glabella, or vertical mid-frontal line. For ornaments they have a stick in the helix, or simple ornament in the ear-lobe.

Their chief source of livelihood is husking paddy (rice), but they also gather sticks for sale as firewood in return for pice, rice, and sour fermented rice gruel, which [384]is kept by the higher classes for cattle. This gruel is also highly appreciated by the Yānādis. While husking rice, they eat the bran, and, if not carefully watched, will steal as much of the rice as they can manage to secrete about themselves. As an addition to their plain dietary they catch field (Jerboa) rats, which they dig out with long sticks, after they have been asphyxiated with smoke blown into their tunnels through a small hole in an earthen pot filled with dried leaves, which are set on fire. When the nest is dug out, they find material for a meat and vegetable curry in the dead rats, with the hoarded store of rice or other grain. They feast on the bodies of winged white-ants (Termites), which they search with torch-lights at the time of their seasonal epidemic appearance. Some years ago a theft occurred in my house at night, and it was proved by a plaster cast of a foot-print in the mud produced by a nocturnal shower that one of my gardeners, who did not live on the spot, had been on the prowl. The explanation was that he had been collecting as a food-stuff the carcases of the winged ants, which had that evening appeared in myriads.

Some Irulas are herbalists, and are believed to have the powers of curing certain diseases, snake-poisoning, and the bites of rats and insects.

Occasionally the Irulas collect the leaves of the banyan, Butea frondosa, or lotus, for sale as food-platters, and they will eat the refuse food left on the platters by Brāhmans and other higher classes. They freely enter the houses of Brāhmans and non-Brāhman castes, and are not considered as carrying pollution.

They have no fixed place of abode, which they often change. Some live in low, palmyra-thatched [385]huts of small dimensions; others under a tree, in an open place, in ruined buildings, or the street pials (verandah) of houses. Their domestic utensils consist of a few pots, one or two winnows, scythes, a crow-bar, a piece of flint and steel for making fire, and a dirty bag for tobacco and betel. In making fire, an angular fragment of quartz is held against a small piece of pith, and dexterously struck with an iron implement so that the spark falls on the pith, which can be rapidly blown into a blaze. To keep the children warm in the so-called cold season (with a minimum of 58° to 60°), they put their babies near the fire in pits dug in the ground.

For marital purposes they recognise tribal sub-divisions in a very vague way. Marriage is not a very impressive ceremonial. The bridegroom has to present new cloths to the bride, and his future father- and mother-in-law. The cloth given to the last-named is called the pāl kuli (milk money) for having nursed the bride. Marriage is celebrated on any day, except Saturday. A very modest banquet, in proportion to their slender means, is held, and toddy provided, if the state of the finances will run to it. Towards evening the bride and bridegroom stand in front of the house, and the latter ties the tāli, which consists of a bead necklace with a round brass disc. In the case of a marriage which took place during my visit, the bride had been wearing her new bridal cloth for a month before the event.

The Irulas worship periodically Kanniamma, their tribal deity, and Māri, the general goddess of epidemic disease. The deity is represented by five pots arranged in the form of a square, with a single pot in the centre, filled with turmeric water. Close to these a lamp [386]is lighted, and raw rice, jaggery (crude sugar), rice flour, betel leaves and areca nuts are offered before it. Māri is represented by a white rag flag dyed with turmeric, hoisted on a bamboo in an open space near their dwellings, to which fowls, sheep, and other cooked articles, are offered.

The dead are buried lying flat on the face, with the head to the north, and the face turned towards the east. When the grave has been half filled in, they throw into it a prickly-pear (Opuntia Dillenii) shrub, and make a mound over it. Around this they place a row or two of prickly-pear stems to keep off jackals. No monumental stone is placed over the grave.

By means of the following table a comparison can be readily made between the stature and nasal index of the jungle Shōlagas and Nīlgiri Irulas, and of the more civilised Irulas of Chingleput and Ūrālis of Coimbatore:—

Stature, average. Nasal index, average. Nasal index, maximum. Nasal index, minimum.
Shōlagas 159.3 85·1 107·7 72·8
Irulas, Nilgiris 159·8 84·9 100 72·3
Irulas, Chingleput 159·9 80·3 90·5 70
Ūrālis 159·5 80·1 97·7 65·3

The table shows clearly that, while all the four tribes are of short and uniform stature, the nasal index, both as regards average, maximum and minimum, is higher in the Shōlagas and Irulas of the Nīlgiri jungles than in the more domesticated Irulas of Chingleput [387]and Ūrālis. In brief, the two former, who have mingled less with the outside world, retain the archaic type of platyrhine nose to a greater extent than the two latter. The reduction of platyrhiny, as the result of civilisation and emergence from the jungle to the vicinity of towns, is still further brought out by the following figures relating to the two classes of Irulas, and the Kānikars of Travancore, who still live a jungle life, and those who have removed to the outskirts of a populous town:—

—— Nasal index.
Average. Maximum. Minimum.
Irulas, jungle 84.9 100 72.3
Kānikars, jungle 84.6 105 72.3
Kānikars, domesticated 81.2 90.5 70.8
Irulas, domesticated 80.3 90.5 70
Irula, Chingleput.

Irula, Chingleput.

The Irulas of North Arcot are closely related to those of Chingleput. Concerning them, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows.19 “Many members of this forest tribe have taken to agriculture in the neighbouring villages, but the majority still keep to the hills, living upon roots and wild animals, and bartering forest produce for a few rags or a small quantity of grain. When opportunity offers, they indulge in cattle theft and robbery. They disclaim any connection with the Yānādis, whom they hate. Their aversion is such that they will not even allow a Yānādi to see them eating. They offer worship to the Sapta Kannikais or seven virgins, whom they represent in the form of an earthenware [388]oil-lamp, which they often place under the bandāri (Dodonœa viscosa ?), which is regarded by them as sacred. These lamps are made by ordinary village potters, who, however, are obliged to knead the clay with their hands, and not with their feet. Sometimes they place these representatives of their goddess in caves, but, wherever they place them, no Pariah or Yānādi can be allowed to approach. The chief occasion of worship, as with the Kurumbas and Yānādis, is at the head-shaving ceremony of children. All children at these times, who are less than ten years old, are collected, and the maternal uncle of each cuts off one lock of hair, which is fastened to a ragi (Ficus religiosa) bough. They rarely contract marriages, the voluntary association of men and women being terminable at the will of either. The more civilised, however, imitate the Hindu cultivating castes by tying a gold bead, stuck on a thread, round the bride’s neck, but the marriage tie thus formed is easily broken. They always bury their dead. Some Irulas are credited with supernatural powers, and are applied to by low Sūdras for advice. The ceremony is called suthi or rangam. The medium affects to be possessed by the goddess, and utters unmeaning sounds, being, they say, unconscious all the while. A few of his companions pretend to understand with difficulty the meaning of his words, and interpret them to the inquirer. The Irulas never allow any sort of music during their ceremonies, nor will they wear shoes, or cover their body with more than the scantiest rag. Even in the coldest and dampest weather, they prefer the warmth of a fire to that of a cumbly (blanket). They refuse even to cover an infant with a cloth, but dig a small hollow in the ground, and lay the newly-born babe in it upon a few leaves of the bandāri.” [389]

There are two classes of Irulas in the North Arcot district, of which one lives in towns and villages, and the other leads a jungle life. Among the latter, as found near Kuppam, there are two distinct divisions, called Īswaran Vagaira and Dharmarāja. The former set up a stone beneath a temporary hut, and worship it by offering cooked rice and cocoanuts on unam (Lettsomia elliptica) leaves. The god Dharmarāja is represented by a vessel instead of a stone, and the offerings are placed in a basket. In the jungle section, a woman may marry her deceased husband’s brother. The dead are buried face upwards, and three stones are set up over the grave.

Irula, Chingleput.

Irula, Chingleput.

The Irulas of South Arcot, Mr. Francis writes,20 “are chiefly found about the Gingee hills, talk a corrupt Tamil, are very dark skinned, have very curly hair, never shave their heads, and never wear turbans or sandals. They dwell in scattered huts—never more than two or three in one place—which are little, round, thatched hovels, with a low doorway through which one can just crawl, built among the fields. They subsist by watching crops, baling water from wells, and, when times are hard, by crime of a mild kind. In Villupuram and Tirukkōyilūr tāluks, and round Gingee, they commit burglaries in a mild and unscientific manner if the season is bad, and they are pressed by want, but, if the ground-nut crop is a good one, they behave themselves. They are perhaps the poorest and most miserable community in the district. Only one or two of them own any land, and that is only dry land. They snare hares now and again, and collect the honey of the wild bees by letting themselves down the face of cliffs at night by ladders made of twisted [390]creepers. Some of them are prostitutes, and used to display their charms in a shameless manner at the Chettipālaiyam market near Gingee, decked out in quantities of cheap jewellery, and with their eyelids darkened in clumsy imitation of their sisters of the same profession in other castes. There is little ceremony at a wedding. The old men of the caste fix the auspicious day, the bridegroom brings a few presents, a pandal (booth) is made, a tāli is tied, and there is a feast to the relations. The rites at births and deaths are equally simple. The dead are usually buried, lying face upwards, a stone and some thorns being placed over the grave to keep off jackals. On the eleventh day after the death, the eldest son ties a cloth round his head—a thing which is otherwise never worn—and a little rice is coloured with saffron (turmeric) and then thrown into water. This is called casting away the sin, and ill-luck would befall the eldest son if the ceremony were omitted. The Irulans pay homage to almost all the grāmadēvatas (village deities), but probably the seven Kannimars are their favourite deities.”

As already indicated, the Irulas, like the Yerukalas, indulge in soothsaying. The Yerukala fortune-teller goes about with her basket, cowry shells, and rod, and will carry out the work of her profession anywhere, at any time, and any number of times in a day. The Irula, on the contrary, remains at his home, and will only tell fortunes close to his hut, or near the hut where his gods are kept. In case of sickness, people of all classes come to consult the Irula fortune-teller, whose occupation is known as Kannimar varniththal. Taking up his drum, he warms it over the fire, or exposes it to the heat of the sun. When it is sufficiently dry to vibrate to his satisfaction, Kannimar is worshipped by breaking a cocoanut, [391]and burning camphor and incense. Closing his eyes, the Irula beats the drum, and shakes his head about, while his wife, who stands near him, sprinkles turmeric water over him. After a few minutes, bells are tied to his right wrist. In about a quarter of an hour he begins to shiver, and breaks out in a profuse perspiration. This is a sure sign that he is possessed by Kanniamman. His wife unties his kudumi (tuft of hair), the shaking of the head becomes more violent, he breathes rapidly, and hisses like a snake. His wife praises Kannimar. Gradually the man becomes calmer, and addresses those around him as if he were the goddess, saying, “Oh! children. I have come down on my car, which is decorated with mango flowers, margosa and jasmine. You need fear nothing so long as I exist, and you worship me. This country will be prosperous, and the people will continue to be happy. Ere long my precious car, immersed in the tank (pond) on the hill, will be taken out, and after that the country will become more prosperous,” and so on. Questions are generally put to the inspired man, not directly, but through his wife. Occasionally, even when no client has come to consult him, the Irula will take up his drum towards dusk, and chant the praises of Kannimar, sometimes for hours at a stretch, with a crowd of Irulas collected round him.

Irulas collecting honey.

Irulas collecting honey.

The name Shikāri (hunter) is occasionally adopted as a synonym for Irula. And, in South Arcot, some Irulas call themselves Tēn (honey) Vanniyans or Vana (forest) Pallis.

Irula (darkness or night).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Irumpu (iron) Kollan.—A sub-division of Kollan.

Irunūl (two strings).—A division of Mārāns in Travancore, in which the remarriage of widows is permitted. [392]

Iruvu (black ant).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Īsan (god).—A title of Kōliyan.

Īswaran Vagaira.—A division of the Irulas of North Arcot. The name denotes that they belong to the Īswara (Siva) section.

Īte.—The Ītevāndlu are a class of Telugu jugglers and acrobats, who “exhibit shows, such as wrestling, climbing high posts, rope-walking, etc. The women, like Dommara females, act as common prostitutes.”21

Itattara.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Izhava.—The Izhavans or Ilavans, and Tiyans, are the Malayālam toddy-drawing castes of Malabar, Cochin and Travancore. The etymology of the name Izhavan is dealt with in the article on Tiyans.

For the following note on the Izhavas of Travancore, I am, when not otherwise recorded, indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. These people are known as Izhavas in South and parts of Central Travancore, and Chovas in parts of Central and North Travancore. They constitute 17 per cent. of the total population of the State. Izhava is said to mean those belonging to Izham, a corruption of Simhalam, one of the old names of Ceylon. Jaffna, in the north of that island, appears to have been specially known by the name of Izham, and from this place the Izhavas are believed to have originally proceeded to Malabar. Chova is supposed to be a corruption of Sevaka, or servant. In some old boat songs current in Malabar, it occurs in the less corrupt form of Chevaka. According to a legend, a Pāndyan princess named Alli married Narasimha, a Rājah of the Carnatic. The royal couple migrated to [393]Ceylon, and there settled themselves as rulers. On the line becoming extinct, however, their relatives and adherents returned to the continent, where they were accorded only a very low position in society. It is said that they were the ancestors of the Izhavas. In support of this theory, it is urged that, in South Travancore, the Izhavas are known by the title of Mudaliyar, which is also the surname of a division of the Vellālas at Jaffna; that the Vattis and Mannāns call them Mudaliyars; and that the Pulayas have ever been known to address them only as Muttatampurāns. But it may be well supposed that the title may have been conferred upon some families of the caste in consideration of meritorious services on behalf of the State. One of the chief occupations, in which the Izhavas first engaged themselves, was undoubtedly the cultivation of palm trees. In the famous grant of 824 A.D., it is distinctly mentioned that they had a headman of their guild, and their duty was planting up waste lands. They had two special privileges, known as the foot-rope right and ladder right, which clearly explain the nature of their early occupation. The Syrian Christians appear to have a tradition that the Izhavas were invited to settle on the west coast at their suggestion. The Izhavas are said to have brought to Kērala a variety each of the areca palm, champak, and lime tree, to whose vernacular names the word Izham is even to-day invariably prefixed. In the middle ages, they were largely employed as soldiers by the rulers of Malabar. Titles and privileges were distributed among these soldiers. Canter Visscher, writing about the Rājah of Ambalapuzha in the middle of the eighteenth century,22 observes that “the Rajah of [394]Porkkad has not many Nāyars, in the place of whom he is served by Chegos,” and that “in times of civil war or rebellion, the Chegos are bound to take up arms for their lawful sovereign.” The Panikkans of Ambanat house in the Ambalapuzha taluk were the leaders of the Izhava force, and many powers and privileges were conferred upon this family by the Chembakasseri (Ambalapuzha) princes. Even so late as the days of Mahārāja Rāma Verma, who died in 973 M.E., large numbers of Izhavas were employed as soldiers of the State, if we may believe the account of Friar Bartolomeo,23 who is generally a very accurate writer. The South Travancore Izhavas used to divide themselves into two parties on the occasion of the Ōnam festival, and fight at Kaithamukku near Trivandrum. Any young man who did not attend this camp of exercise had a piece of wood tied as a wedding ornament round his neck, was led in procession thrice round the village, and transported to the sea-coast.

The Izhavas proper are divided into three sub-sections called Pachchili, Pāndi, and Malayālam. The Pachchilis live in the tract of land called Pachchalūr in the Neyyattinkara tāluk between Tiruvellam and Kovalam. They are only a handful in number. The Pāndis are largely found in Trivandrum and Chirayinkil. Most of them take the title of Panikkan. The Malayāla Izhavas are sub-divided into four exogamous groups or illams, named Muttillam, Madampi or Pallichal, Mayanatti, and Chozhi. Pallichal is a place in the Neyyattinkara taluk, and Mayannat in Quilon. The members of the Chozhi illam are believed to have been later settlers. There is another division of these Izhavas called [395]Patikramams, based on a more or less geographical distinction. These are also four in number, and called Pallikkattara, Palattara, Irunkulamgara, and Tenganād, their social precedence being in this order. Pallikkattara is in Chirayinkil, Palattara in Quilon, Irunkulamgara in Trivandrum, and Tenganād in Neyyattinkara. The Palattara section is the most orthodox, and rigorously preserves its endogamous character, though some of the titular dignitaries among the Chovas of Central Travancore have found it possible to contract alliances with them. The divisions of the Illam and Patikkramam are absent among the Chovas. Among these, however, there is a division into Sthani or Melkudi, Tanikudi, and Kizhkudi, the first denoting the titular head, the second the ordinary class, and the third those under communal degradation. Among the last are included the toddy-drawing families, Vaduvans, and Nadis. Vaduvans are the slaves of the Izhavas, and, in ancient days, could be regularly bought and sold by them. Nadis live in Kartikapalli and some other parts of Central Travancore. They are people who have been outcasted from the community for various offences by the headmen, and cannot enter the kitchen of the ordinary Izhavas. They are served for ceremonial purposes not by the regular priests of the Izhavas, but by a distinct outcaste sect like themselves, known as Nadikuruppus. The Izhavattis, who are the priests of the caste, form a distinct sect with special manners and customs. Chānnan, a corruption of the Tamil word, Chanror or chiefmen, is the most important of the titles of the Izhavas. This title was conferred upon distinguished members of the caste as a family honour by some of the ancient sovereigns of the country. Panikkan comes next in rank, and is derived from pani, work. Tantan, from [396]danda meaning punishment or control, is a popular title in some parts. Asan, from Acharya, a teacher, is extremely common. The recipients of this honour were instructors in gymnastics and military exercises to Nāyar and Izhava soldiers in bygone times, and even now ruins of old kalaris or exercise grounds attached to their houses are discernible in many places. Some Izhavas in South Travancore appear to be honoured with the title of Mudaliyar. Many families were invested with similar honours by the ancient ruling houses of Ambalapuzha, Kayenkulam, and Jayasimhanad (Quilon). Even now, some titles are conferred by the Rājah of Idappalli. The wives of these dignitaries are respectively known as Chānnatti, Panikkatti, etc.

The houses of the Izhavas resemble those of the Nāyars in form. Each house is a group of buildings, the most substantial of which, known as the arappura, stands in the centre. On the left side is the vadakkettu or woman’s apartment, including the kitchen. There is a court-yard in front of the arappura, and a little building called kizhakkettu enclosing it on the eastern side. Houses invariably face the east. The main entrance stands a little to the south of the kizhakkettu, to the south of which again is the tozhuttu or cow-shed. These buildings, of course, are found only in rich houses, the poor satisfying themselves with an arappura, a vatakketu, and a tozhuttu. A tekketu is to be seen to the south of the arappura in some cases. This is erected mainly to perpetuate the memory of some deceased member of the family known for learning, piety, or bravery. A pītha or seat, a conch, a cane, and a small bag containing ashes, are secured within. It is kept scrupulously free from pollution, and worship is offered on fixed days to the ancestors. The tekketu is enclosed on all the three sides, [397]except the east. This description of houses in South Travancore, as far as Trivandrum, applies also to buildings erected to the north as far as Quilon, though tekketus are not so largely found as in the south. In some parts here, the southern room of the main buildings is consecrated to the memory of ancestors. In Central Travancore there are big kalaris to the south of the arappura in most of the ancient houses, and antique weapons and images of tutelary divinities are carefully preserved therein.

In dress and ornament, the Izhavas closely resemble the Nāyars. The tattu form of dress is not prevalent among Izhava women. In the wearing of the cloth, the left side comes inside instead of the right in the case of South Travancore Izhava women, though this rule is not without its exceptions. In South Travancore, the ornaments of women differ considerably from those of the north. Here they wear the pampadam or Tamil Sūdra women’s ear ornament, and adorn the wrists with a pair of silver bangles. The nose ornaments mūkkuthi and gnattu have only recently begun to be worn, and are not very popular in Central and North Travancore. This is a point in which Izhavas may be said to differ from the South Travancore Nāyar matrons. The ear ornament of elderly Izhava women in North Travancore is of an antique type called atukkam-samkhu-chakkravum. Women in the rural parts wear a curious neck ornament called anti-minnu. Of late, all ornaments of Nāyar women are being worn by fashionable Izhava females. But Izhava and Nāyar women can be distinguished by the tie of the hair lock, the Izhava women usually bringing it to the centre of the forehead, while the Nāyars place it on one side, generally the left. Tattooing was once prevalent in South Travancore, but is gradually [398]losing favour. It was never in vogue in North Travancore.

The Izhavas eat both fish and flesh. Rabbits, deer, pigs, sheep, porcupines, fowls, doves, guinea-fowls, peacocks, and owls are believed to make popular dishes. The sweetmeat called ariyunta, and the curry known as mutirakkary, are peculiar to the Izhavas, and prepared best by them.

The most important occupation of the Izhavas till recently was the cultivation of palm trees, and the preparation of toddy and arrack. Barbosa, writing in the sixteenth century, states that “their principal employment is to till the palm trees, and gather their fruits; and to carry everything for hire from one point to another, because they are not in the habit of transporting them with beasts of burden, as there are none; and they hew stone, and gain their livelihood by all kinds of labour. Some of them bear the use of arms, and fight in the wars when it is necessary. They carry a staff in their hand of a fathom’s length as a sign of their lineage.” With the progress of culture and enlightenment, the occupation of extracting liquor from the cocoanut palm has ceased to be looked upon with favour, and such families as are now given to that pursuit have come to be regarded as a low division of the Chovas. In some parts of Travancore, the latter do not even enjoy the privilege of commensality with the other Izhavas. Agriculture is a prominent profession, and there are several wealthy and influential landlords in the community. There is also a fair percentage of agricultural labourers. A preliminary rite, called pozhutana sowing, is performed by farmers, who throw three handfuls of rice seed on a clay image representing Ganēsa, and pray that their fields may yield a good harvest. Before the time of reaping, on an auspicious [399]morning, a few sheaves are brought, and hung up in some prominent place in the house. This ceremony is known as nira, and is common to all Hindu castes. At the end of it, the inmates of the house partake of puttari or new rice.

There are a few other customary rites observed by agriculturists, viz.:—

(1) Metiyittu-varuka, or throwing the grains of the first sheaf upon another, and covering it with its straw, this being afterwards appropriated by the chief agricultural labourer present.

(2) Koytu-pitichcha-katta-kotukkuka, or handing over the first sheaves of grain fastened together with Strychnos Nux-vomica leaves to the owner of the field, who is obliged to preserve them till the next harvest season.

(3) Kotuti, or offering of oblations of a few grains dipped in toddy to the spirits of agricultural fields, the Pulaya priest crying aloud ‘Poli, vā, poli, vā,’ meaning literally May good harvest come.

As manufacturers, the Izhavas occupy a position in Travancore. They produce several kinds of cloth, for local consumption in the main, and make mats, tiles, and ropes, with remarkable skill. They are also the chief lemon-grass oil distillers of Travancore. In the professions of medicine and astrology, the Izhavas have largely engaged themselves. While it must be confessed that many of them are utter strangers to culture, there are several who have received a sound education, especially in Sanskrit. On the whole, the Izhavas may be said to be one of the most industrious and prosperous communities on the west coast.

The Izhavas form a pious and orthodox Hindu caste. Though they cannot enter the inner court-yard of temples, they attend there in considerable numbers, and [400]make their pious offerings. Over several temples the Travancore Izhavas have a joint right with the Nāyars. In illustration, the shrines of Saktikulamgara in Karunagappali, and Chettikulangara in Mavelikara, may be mentioned. Over these and other temples, the rights that have been enjoyed from time immemorial by certain Izhava families are respected even at the present day. In most places, the Izhavas have their own temples, with a member of their own or the Izhavatti caste as priest. As no provision had been made in them for daily worship, there was no necessity in early times for the regular employment of priests. The deity usually worshipped was Bhadrakāli, who was believed to help them in their military undertakings. The offerings made to her involved animal sacrifices. The temples are generally low thatched buildings with a front porch, an enclosure wall, and a grove of trees. There are many instances, in which the enclosure wall is absent. The Bhadrakāli cult is gradually losing favour under the teaching of a Vedantic scholar and religious reformer named Nanan Asan. In many Central and South Travancore shrines, images of Subramania have been set up at his instance, and daily worship is offered by bachelor priests appointed by the castemen. An association for the social, material, and religious amelioration of the community, called Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, has been started. Its head-quarters is at Aruvippuram in the Nayyatinkara taluk. Every morning, the sun is specially worshipped by the cultured class. In ancient times, the adoration of Anchu Tampurakkal or the five deities, now identified with the Pāndavas of the Mahābharata, prevailed among these people. This worship is found among the Pulayas also. At Mayyanad in Quilon, there is still an Izhava temple dedicated to these five lords. Women visit [401]shrines on all Mondays and Fridays, with a view to worshipping Gauri, the consort of Siva. Male Izhavas devote the first and last days of a month, as also that on which the star of their nativity falls, to religious worship. The Izhavas of Central Travancore pay homage to a spirit called Kāyalil Daivam, or the deity of backwaters. When a village becomes infected with small-pox or cholera, offerings are made to the Bhadrakāli shrine in that locality. The most important offering goes by the name of Kalam Vaikkuka, or pot placing. A woman of the house of the local Panikkan or chief member fasts, and, bearing a pot containing five nalis (a small measure) of paddy (unhusked rice), proceeds to all the other Izhava houses in the village, accompanied by musical instruments. One woman from every house marches to the shrine with her offering of paddy and a chuckram (nearly half an anna). The priest receives the offerings, converts the paddy into rice, and, depositing a portion of it in each of the pots, hands them back to the votaries on the morning of the next day. Another ceremony performed on such occasions is called Desakuruti, when women fast, and, taking all the food-stuffs necessary, proceed to the temple. After the sacrifice of a goat and fowls by the priest, they make an offering of the food to the deity before dinner. Tūkkam, or suspension, is another propitiatory ceremony. A religious observance, known as Mamachchirappu, finds favour with the Izhavas of Central Travancore in the month of Vrischikam (November-December). Every Izhava bathes in the evening, addresses the deities by their names for about an hour, and then makes an offering of tender cocoanuts, fruits, and fried grain. This takes place according to the convenience of each family from twelve to forty-one days. [402]

In connection with the tūkkam ceremony, Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar writes as follows.24 “There are two kinds of hook-swinging, namely Garuda (Brahmini kite) and thoni (boat) tūkkam. The ceremony is performed in fulfilment of a vow, to obtain some favour of the deity Kāli, before whose presence it is carried out. The performer of the ceremony should bathe early in the morning, and be in a state of preparation either for a year or for forty-one days by worshipping the deity Bhagavati. He must strictly abstain from meat, all kinds of intoxicating liquors, and association with women. During the morning hours, the performer dresses himself in a garment tucked into the waist-band, rubs his body with oil, and is shampooed particularly on the back, a portion of the flesh in the middle of which is stretched for the insertion of a hook. He is also taught by his instructor to perform various feats called payitta. This he continues till the festival, when he has to swing in fulfilment of the vow. In kite swinging, a kind of car, resting on two axles provided with four wheels, is employed. On it, there is a horizontal beam resting on two vertical supports. A strong rope tied to a ring attached to the beam is connected with the hook which passes through the flesh of the back. Over the beam there is a kutaram (tent), which is tastefully decorated. Inside it, two or three persons can swing at a time. There is a different arrangement in some places. Instead of the beam and the supports, there is a small pole, on which rests a horizontal beam provided with a metallic ring at one end. The beam acts as a lever, so that one end of it can be either raised or lowered, so as to give some rest to the swinger. The rope tied to the ring is [403]connected with the hook and the waist-band. For boat swinging, the same kind of vehicle, without wheels, is in use. For kite swinging, the performer has his face painted green. He has to put on artificial lips and wings in imitation of those of the kite, and wears long locks of hair like those of an actor in a Kathakali. As he swings, the car is taken three, five, seven, nine, or eleven times round the temple. In boat swinging, the car is likewise carried round the temple, with the swinger performing his feats, as in the case of kite swinging, to the accompaniment of music. He has to put on the same kind of dress, except the lips and wings. In pillayeduthutūkkam, or swinging with a child in fulfilment of a vow, the child is taken to the temple by his parents, who pay to the temple authorities thirty-four chuckrams in Travancore, and sixty-four puthans25 in Cochin. The child is then handed over to the swinger, who carries the child as he swings. These performances are sometimes made at the expense of the temple, but more generally of persons who make the outlay in fulfilment of a vow. In the latter case, it costs as much as Rs. 150 for the kite swinger, but only Rs. 30 for the boat swinger. During the festival, they are fed in the temple, owing to their being in a state of vow. It is the Nāyars, Kammālars, Kuruppans, and Izhavas, who perform the swinging in fulfilment of a vow. In the fight between the goddess Kāli and the demon Darika, the latter was completely defeated, and the former, biting him on the back, drank his blood to gratify her feelings of animosity. Hook-swinging symbolises this incident, and the bloodshed by the insertion of the hook through the flesh is intended as an offering to the goddess.” [404]

Of the hook-swinging ceremony as performed a few years ago at the Kollangadu temple in Travancore, an excellent account is given by the Rev. T. Knowles,26 from which the following précis has been compiled. In front of the temple was a booth containing the image of the goddess Bhadrakāli, a cruel deity, who is supposed to delight in blood. At a little distance was the car. The bottom part of this was very much like a lorry used when transporting large logs of timber by means of elephants. There were four solid wheels of thick timber, with a frame work, like a railway waggon on a small scale. To this were attached two thick cable ropes. Joined to the sides of the car were two upright posts, about 15 feet high, strengthened with stays and cross-pieces. On the top was a piece of thick timber with a hole in it, and the bottom rounded, which fitted into a cross-piece, and allowed the long beam on which the men were swung to move up or down. This beam was 35 or 40 feet long, and about 9 inches in diameter. It was placed through the hole in the piece of timber on the top of the upright frame, and balanced in the middle like a huge see-saw. At one end of the hole was a covered canopy, and at the other long ropes were fastened, which trailed on the ground. The whole arrangement of the car was such that, by lowering one end of the long beam to the ground, and fastening a man to it, and then pulling down the other end by the ropes, the man could be raised into the air to a height of some 40 feet or more. The whole car could then be dragged by the thick cable ropes round the temple. While the subject was being prepared for swinging, a mat was stretched above his head, partly to do him honour, partly to protect him from the sun. His [405]head and neck were richly ornamented, and below he was bedecked with peacock’s feathers, and clad in a loin-cloth, which would bear some, if not all the weight of his body. Amid the firing of mortars, beating of tom-toms, the screeching of flutes, and the shouts of the crowd, the canopied end of the long beam was lowered, and the devotee, lying prone on the ground, was fastened to the beam by means of ropes passing under his arms and around his chest. To some of the ropes, hooks were fastened. The priests took hold of the fleshy part of the man’s back, squeezed up the flesh, and put some four hooks at least through it. A rudely fashioned sword and shield were then given to the man, and he was swung up into the air, waving the sword and shield, and making convulsive movements. Slowly the people dragged the car round the temple, a distance not quite as far as round St. Paul’s cathedral. Some of the men were suspended while the car was dragged round three or four times. The next devotee was fastened in the same way to the beam, but, instead of a sword and shield, the priests gave him an infant in his arms, and devotee and infant were swung up in the air, and the car dragged round the temple as before. Some children were brought forward, whose parents had made vows about them. The little ones were made to prostrate themselves before the image of Kāli. Then the fleshy parts of their sides were pinched up, and some wires put through. This done, the wires were placed in the hands of the relatives, and the children were led round and round the temple, as though in leading strings. It is on record that, when the devotee has been specially zealous, the whole machine has been moved to a considerable distance while he was suspended from it, to the admiration of the gaping multitudes.” [406]

In connection with the religion of the Ilavars, the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows.27 “Demon worship, especially that of Bhadrakāli, a female demon described as a mixture of mischief and cruelty, is the customary cultus of the caste, with sacrifices and offerings and devil-dancing like the Shānārs. Shāstāvu and Vīrabhadran are also venerated, and the ghosts of ancestors. Groves of trees stand near the temples, and serpent images are common, these creatures being accounted favourites of Kāli. They carry their superstitions and fear of the demons into every department and incident of life. In some temples and ceremonies, as at Paroor, Sarkarei, etc., they closely associate with the Sūdras. The Ilavar temples are generally low, thatched buildings, with front porch, a good deal of wooden railing and carving about them, an enclosure wall, and a grove or a few trees, such as Ficus religiosa, Plumeria, and Bassia. At the Ilavar temple near Chākki in the outskirts of Trevandrum, the goddess Bhadrakāli is represented as a female seated on an image, having two wings, gilt and covered with serpents. Twice a year, fowls and sheep are sacrificed by an Ilavan priest, and offerings of grain, fruit, and flowers are presented. The side-piercing ceremony is also performed here. A temple at Mangalattukōnam, about ten miles south of Trevandrum, at which I witnessed the celebration of the annual festival on the day following Meena Bharani, in March or April, may be taken as a fair example of the whole. In connection with this temple may be seen a peculiar wooden pillar and small shrine at the top, somewhat like a pigeon-house. This is called a tani maram, and is a kind of altar, or residence, for the demon Mādan, resembling [407]the temporary shrines on sticks or platforms erected by the Pulayars. On it are carvings of many-headed serpents, etc., and a projecting lamp for oil. For the festival, the ground around the temple was cleared of weeds, the outhouses and sheds decorated with flowers, and on the tani maram were placed two bunches of plantains, at its foot a number of devil-dancing sticks. Close by were five or six framework shrines, constructed of soft palm leaves and pith of plantain tree, and ornamented with flowers. These were supposed to be the residence of some minor powers, and in them were placed, towards night, offerings of flowers, rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and blood. The Ilavars who assemble for the festival wear the marks of Siva, a dot and horizontal lines on the forehead, and three horizontal lines of yellow turmeric on the chest. They begin to gather at the temple from noon, and return home at night. The festival lasts for five days. Some of the neighbouring Sūdras and Shānārs also attend, and some Pulayars, who pay one chuckram for two shots of firework guns in fulfilment of their vows. Offerings here are generally made in return for relief from sickness or trouble of some kind. The pūjāri, or priest, is an Ilavan, who receives donations of money, rice, etc. A kind of mild hook-swinging ceremony is practised. On the occasion referred to, four boys, about fifteen or sixteen years of age, were brought. They must partly fast for five days previously on plain rice and vegetable curry, and are induced to consent to the operation, partly by superstitious fear, and partly by bribes. On the one hand they are threatened with worse danger if they do not fulfil the vows made by their parents to the dēvi (deity); on the other hand, if obedient, they receive presents of fine clothes and money. Dressed in handsome cloths and turbans, and adorned with gold bracelets [408]and armlets, and garlands of flowers, the poor boys are brought to present a little of their blood to the sanguinary goddess. Three times they march round the temple; then an iron is run through the muscles of each side, and small rattans inserted through the wounds. Four men seize the ends of the canes, and all go round in procession, with music and singing and clapping of hands, five or seven times, according to their endurance, till quite exhausted. The pūjāri now dresses in a red cloth, with tinsel border, like a Brāhman, takes the dancing-club in hand, and dances before the demon. Cocks are sacrificed, water being first poured upon the head; when the bird shakes itself, the head is cut off, and the blood poured round the temple. Rice is boiled in one of the sheds in a new pot, and taken home with the fowls by the people for a feast in the house. At Mayanādu, the Bhagavathi of the small temple belonging to the Ilavars is regarded as the sister of the one worshipped in the larger temple used by the Sūdras, and served by a Brāhman priest; and the cars of the latter are brought annually to the Ilavar’s temple, and around it three times before returning to their own temple. At the Ilavar’s temple, the same night, the women boil rice in new earthen pots, and the men offer sheep and fowls in sacrifice. In further illustration of the strange superstitious practices of this tribe, two more incidents may be mentioned. An Ilavatti, whose child was unwell, went to consult an astrologer, who informed her that the disease was caused by the spirit of the child’s deceased grandmother. For its removal he would perform various incantations, for which he required the following, viz.:—water from seven wells, dung from five cowsheds, a larva of the myrmeleon, a crab, a frog, a green snake, a virāl fish, parched rice, ada cake, [409]cocoanut, chilly, and green palm leaves. An Ilavan, who had for some time been under Christian instruction, was led away by a brother, who informed him that, if he built a small temple for the worship of Nina Mādan, and offered sacrifices, he should find a large copper vessel full of gold coins hid underground, and under the charge of this demon. The foolish man did so, but did not find a single cash. Now the lying brother avers that the demon will not be satisfied unless a human sacrifice is offered, which, of course, is impossible.”

The headmen of the Izhava caste are the Chānnans and Panikkans, invested with these titles by the Sovereigns of this State who have been already referred to. The limits of their jurisdiction were generally fixed in the charters received from them by their rulers, and even to-day their authority remains supreme in all social matters. The priests, it may be noted, are only a minor class, having no judicial functions. Chief among the offences against the caste rules may be mentioned non-observance of pollution, illicit connection, non-performance of the tāli-kettu before the age of puberty, non-employment of the village barber and washerman, non-celebration of ceremonies in one’s own village, and so on. The headman comes to know of these through the agency of the village barber or washerman, and also a class of secondary dignitaries known as Kottilpattukar or Nāluvitanmar. In every village, there are four families, invested with this authority in olden times by the rulers of the State on payment of fifty-nine fanams to the royal treasury. They are believed to hold a fourth of the authority that pertains to the chieftain of the village. If, on enquiry, an offence is proved, a fine is imposed on the offender, which he is obliged to pay to the local shrine. If the offence is grave, a feast has to [410]be given by him to the villagers. In cases of failure, the services of the village priest and washerman, and also the barber, are refused, and the culprit becomes ostracised from society. The headman has to be paid a sum of ten chuckrams on all occasions of ceremonies, and the Nāluvitanmar four chuckrams each. There is a movement in favour of educating the priests, and delegating some of the above powers to them.

Three forms of inheritance may be said to prevail among the Izhavas of Travancore, viz.: (1) makkathāyam (inheritance from father to son) in the extreme south; (2) marumakkatāyam (through the female line) in all tāluks to the north of Quilon; (3) a mixture of the two between Neyyatinkara and that tāluk. According to the mixed mode, one’s own children are not left absolutely destitute, but some portion of the property is given them for maintenance, in no case, however, exceeding a half. In families observing the marumakkatāyam law, male and female heirs own equal rights. Partition, though possible when all consent, rarely takes place in practice, the eldest male member holding in his hands the management of the whole property. In Quilon and other places, the widow and her children are privileged to remain in her husband’s house for full one year after his death, and enjoy all the property belonging to him.

On the subject of inheritance, the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows. “The nepotistic law of inheritance is, to a considerable extent, followed by this caste. Those in the far south being more closely connected with the Tamil people, their children inherit. Amongst the Ilavars in Trevandrum district, a curious attempt is made to unite both systems of inheritance, half the property acquired by a man after his marriage, and during the lifetime of his wife, going to the issue of such marriage, [411]and half to the man’s nepotistic heirs. In a case decided by the Sadr Court, in 1872, the daughter of an Ilavan claimed her share in the movable and immovable property of her deceased father, and to have a sale made by him while alive declared null and void to the extent of her share. As there was another similar heir, the Court awarded the claimant a half share, and to this extent the claim was invalidated. Their rules are thus stated by G. Kerala Varman Tirumulpād:—‘If one marries and gives cloth to an Ilavatti (female), and has issue, of the property acquired by him and her from the time of the union, one-tenth is deducted for the husband’s labour or individual profit; of the remainder, half goes to the woman and her children, and half to the husband and his heirs (anandaravans). The property which an Ilavan has inherited or earned before his marriage devolves solely to his anandaravans, not to his children. If an Ilavatti has continued to live with her husband, and she has no issue, or her children die before obtaining any share of the property, when the husband dies possessing property earned by both, his heirs and she must mutually agree, or the castemen decide what is fair for her support; and the husband’s heir takes the remainder.’”

The marriage of Izhava girls consists of two distinct rites, one before they attain puberty called tāli-kettu, and the other generally after that period, but in some cases before, called sambandham. It is, however, necessary that the girl must have her tāli tied before some one contracts sambandham with her. The tāli-tier may be, but often is not, as among the Nāyars, the future husband of the girl. But, even for him, the relation will not be complete without a formal cloth presentation. The legitimate union for a person is with his maternal uncle’s [412]or paternal aunt’s daughter. Generally there is a separate ceremony called Grihapravesam, or entrance into the house of the bridegroom after sambandham. Widows may contract alliances with other persons after the death of the first husband. In all cases, the Izhava husband takes his wife home, and considers it infra dig. to stay in the house of his father-in-law.

The method of celebrating the tāli-kettu differs in different parts of Travancore. The following is the form popular in Central Travancore. All the elderly members of the village assemble at the house of the girl, and fix a pillar of jack (Artocarpus integrifolia) wood at the south-east corner. On the Kaniyan (astrologer) being three times loudly consulted as to the auspiciousness of the house he gives an affirmative reply, and the guardian of the girl, receiving a silver ring from the goldsmith, hands it over to the Vatti (priest), who ties it on the wooden post. The carpenter, Kaniyan, and goldsmith receive some little presents. The next item in the programme is the preparation of the rice necessary for the marriage, and a quantity of paddy (unhusked rice) is brought by the girl to the pandal ground, and formally boiled in a pot. The pandal (booth) is generally erected on the south side of the house. The chartu, or a chit from the Kaniyan, certifying the auspiciousness of the match and the suitable date for its formal adoption, is taken by the guardian and four Machchampis or Inangans to the headman of the latter. These Machchampis are Izhavas of the village, equal in status to the guardian of the girl. All the preliminary arrangements are now over, and, on the day previous to the marriage, the girl bathes, and, wearing the bleached cloths supplied by the Mannān (washerman), worships the local deity, and awaits the arrival of the bridegroom. In the [413]evening, the wife of the Vatti applies oil to her hair, and after a bath the rite known as Kalati begins, as a preliminary to which a thread passing through a silver ring is tied round her right wrist. Kalati is recitation of various songs by the women of the village before the girl. This is followed by Kānjiramala, or placing the girl before a line of carved wooden images, and songs by the Vatti women. On the following day, the girl is introduced, at the auspicious hour, within the katirmandapa or raised platform decorated with sheaves of corn within the pandal. The minnu or marriage ornament, prepared by the goldsmith, is handed over to the priest, along with two cloths to be worn by the bride and bridegroom. A string is made of thread taken from these cloths, and the minnu attached to it. The mother-in-law of the bridegroom now stands ready at the gate, and, on his arrival, places a garland of flowers round his neck. The new cloths are then presented by the Vatti and his wife to the bridegroom and bride respectively, after some tender cocoanut leaves, emblematic of the established occupation of the caste, are thrust into the bridegroom’s waist by the headman of the village. In former days, a sword took the place of these leaves. The minnu is then tied round the neck of the bride, and all parties, including the parent or guardian, give presents to the bridegroom. The day’s ceremony is then over, and the bridegroom remains at the house of the bride. The string is removed from the bride’s wrist by the Vatti on the fourth day, and the couple bathe. More than one girl may have the tāli tied at the same time, provided that there are separate bridegrooms for them. Only boys from the families of Machchampis can become tāli-tiers.

The sambandham of North and Central Travancore differs from that of South Travancore in some material [414]respects. In the former, on the appointed day, the bridegroom, who is a different person from the tāli-tier, accompanied by his relations and friends, arrives at the bride’s house, and the guardian of the former offers a sum of money to the guardian of the latter. A suit of clothes, with ten chuckrams or ten rāsis (coins), is presented by the bridegroom to the bride, who stands in a room within and receives it, being afterwards dressed by his sister. The money goes by right to her mother, and is known as Ammāyippanam. Now comes the time for the departure of the bride to her husband’s house, when she receives from her guardian a nut-cracker, lime-can, a dish filled with rice, and a mat. A red cloth is thrown over her head, and a few members accompany the party for some distance. In South Travancore, the bridegroom is accompanied, besides others, by a companion, who asks in the midst of the assembly whether they assent to the proposed alliance, and, on their favourable reply, hands over a sum of money as an offering to the local shrine. Another sum is given for the maintenance of the bride, and, in the presence of the guardian, a suit of clothes is given to her by the bridegroom. The wife is, as elsewhere, immediately taken to the husband’s house. This is called Kudivaippu, and corresponds to the Grahapravesam celebrated by Brāhmans.

The following account of marriage among the Izhavas of Malabar is given in the Gazetteer of that district. “A girl may be married before puberty, but the consummation is not supposed to be effected till after puberty, though the girl may live with her husband at once. If the marriage is performed before puberty, the ceremony is apparently combined with the tāli-kettu kalyānam. The bride is fetched from the dēvapura or [415]family chapel with a silk veil over her head, and holding a betel leaf in her right hand in front of her face. She stands in the pandal on a plank, on which there is some rice. On her right stand four enangans of the bridegroom, and on her left four of her own. The elder of the bridegroom’s enangans hands one of the bride’s enangans a bundle containing the tāli, a mundu and pāvā (cloths), some rice, betel leaves, and a coin called mēymēlkanam, which should be of gold and worth at least one rupee. All these are provided by the bridegroom. He next hands the tāli to the bridegroom’s sister, who ties it. After this, all the enangans scatter rice and flowers over the bride. In this caste, the claim of a man to the hand of his paternal aunt’s daughter is recognised in the ceremony called padikkal tada (obstruction at the gate), which consists of a formal obstruction offered by eleven neighbours to the bride’s removal, when she is not so related to her husband They are bought off by a fee of two fanams, and a packet of betel leaf. The girl is then taken to the bridegroom’s house. If very young, she is chaperoned by a female relative. On the fourth day there is a feast at the bridegroom’s house called nālām kalyānam and this concludes the ceremonies. Marriage after puberty is called Pudamari. The ceremonial is the same, but there is no padikkal tada.”

When an Izhava girl reaches puberty, the occasion is one for a four days’ religious ceremonial. On the first day, the Vatti priestess anoints the girl with oil, and after a bath, dresses her in the cloth supplied by the Mannātti (washerwoman). She is then laid on a broad wooden plank, and is supposed not to go out until she bathes on the fourth day. All the female relations of the family present her with sweetmeats. On the seventh [416]day, she is again taken to and from the village tank (pond) with much éclat, and, on her return, she either treads on cloths spread on the floor, or is carried by an elderly woman. After this, she husks a quantity of paddy, and cooks the rice obtained thence. If this ceremony takes place at the house of a headman, the villagers present him with a vessel full of sugared rice.

A two days’ ceremonial, called Pulikudi in north Travancore, and Vayattu Pongala in the south, which corresponds to the Pumsavana of Brāhmans, is observed at the seventh month of pregnancy. On the first day, at twilight in the evening, the pregnant woman, preceded by the priestess, proceeds to the foot of a tamarind tree on the southern side of the compound. Arriving there, she receives a thread seven yards in length, to which a silver ring is attached at one end, and, by means of circumambulation, entwines the tree with the thread. If the thread is by chance or inadvertence broken during this process, the popular belief is that either the mother or the child will die soon. Next day, the thread is unwound from the tree, and a handful of tamarind leaves is given to the woman by her husband. On re-entering the house, tamarind juice is poured through the hands of the husband into those of the wife, who drinks it. The priestess then pours a quantity of oil on the navel of the woman from a betel leaf, and, from the manner in which it flows down, it is believed that she is able to determine the sex of the unborn child. The woman has to lean against a cutting of an ambazham (Spondias mangifera) tree while she is drinking the juice, and this cutting has to be planted in some part of the compound. If it does not grow properly, the adversity of the progeny is considered to be sealed. The husband is given a ring and other presents on this occasion. [417]Women bathe on the third, fifth, and nineteenth day after delivery, and wear the māttu or changed cloth of the Mannātti, in order to be freed from pollution. The name-giving ceremony of the child takes place on the twenty-eighth day. It is decorated with a pair of iron anklets, and a ribbon passed through a few pieces of iron is tied round its waist. It is then held standing on a vessel filled with rice, and, its left ear being closed, a name is muttered by its guardian into the right ear. The first feeding ceremony is observed in the sixth month, when the iron ornaments are removed, and replaced by silver and gold ones. The ear-boring ceremony takes place at an auspicious hour on some day before the child attains its seventh year.

In former times, only the eldest male member of a family was cremated, but no such restriction obtains at the present day. When a member of the community dies, three handfuls of rice are placed in the mouth of the corpse by the eldest heir after a bath, followed by the sons, nephews, and grandsons of the deceased. Every relative throws an unbleached cloth over the corpse, after which it is taken to the burning-ground, where the pyre is lighted by the heir with a consecrated torch handed to him by the priest. A wooden plank is furnished by the carpenter, and an impression of the foot of the deceased smeared with sandal paste is made on it. The name, and date of the death of the deceased, are inscribed thereon, and it has to be carefully preserved in the house of the heir. The record refreshes his memory on occasions of srādh (memorial service), etc. When the cremation is half completed, the contents of a tender cocoanut are placed beside the head of the corpse as an offering, and prayers are muttered. A pot full of water is then borne by the chief mourner on his shoulder [418]thrice round the corpse. As he does so, the priest pricks the pot thrice with an iron instrument. Finally, the pot is broken on the pyre, and the chief mourner returns home without turning back and looking at the corpse. On the second day, an oblation of food (pinda) is offered to the departed. The inmates of the house are fed with conji (rice gruel) on this day by the relatives. The Sanchayana, or collection of bones, takes place on the fifth day. Pollution lasts for fifteen days in Central and North Travancore, but only for ten days in the south. There are some rites, not observed necessarily by all members of the caste, on the forty-first day, and at the end of the first year. Persons who have died of contagious diseases, women who die after conception or on delivery, and children under five years of age, are buried. Pollution is observed only for nine days when children die; and, in the case of men who die of contagious disease, a special group of ceremonies is performed by the sorcerer. Those who are under pollution, besides being forbidden to enter shrines and other sanctuaries, may not read or write, or partake of liquor, butter, milk, ghī, dhal, or jaggery.

1 Manual of the Madura district.

2 Madras Census Report, 1891.

3 Manual of the Madura district.

4 Madras Census Report, 1901.

5 Malabar Quart. Review, II, 1903.

6 Madras Mail, 1904.

7 Classified Collection of Tamil proverbs, 1897.

8 The Īdigas are said to have been formerly employed as soldiers under the Poligars.

9 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

10 Madras Census Report, 1901.

11 Malabar Law and Custom.

12 Criminal Tribes of India, No. III, Madras, 1907.

13 Primitive Tribes of the Nīlgiris.

14 Description of a singular Aboriginal Race inhabiting the Neilgherry Hills, 1832.

15 A. W. Lushington, Indian Forester, 1902.

16 Agricultural Ledger Series, 1904.

17 Ind. VI, 1877.

18 Oriental Manuscripts.

19 Manual of the North Arcot district.

20 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

21 Manual of the Nellore district.

22 Letters from Malabar.

23 Voyage to the East Indies. Translation, 1800.

24 Monograph Ethnograph: Survey of Cochin, No. 10, Izhavas, 1905.

25 Chuckrams and puthans are coins.

26 Wide World Magazine, September 1899.

27 Native Life in Travancore, 1883.


Jāda.—Jāda or Jāndra, meaning great men, has been recorded as a synonym of Dēvānga and Kurni.

Jaggāli.—The Jaggālis are defined, in the Manual of the Ganjam district, as Uriya workers in leather in Ganjam. It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “the traditional occupation of this caste was apparently leatherworking, but now it is engaged in cultivation and miscellaneous labour. Its members [419]speak both Oriya and Telugu. They admit outcastes from other communities to their ranks on payment of a small fee. Marriage is either infant or adult, and widows and divorcées may remarry. Sātānis are employed as priests. They eat beef and pork, and drink alcohol. They bury their dead. In some places they work as syces (grooms), and in others as firewood-sellers and as labourers. Pātro and Bēhara are their titles.” It may, I think, be accepted that the Jaggālis are Telugu Mādigas, who have settled in Ganjam, and learnt the Oriya language. It is suggested that the name is derived from the Oriya jagiba, watching, as some are village crop-watchers.

Jaikonda (lizard).—A sept of Dōmb.

Jain.—“Few,” Mr. T. A. Gopinatha Rao writes,1 “even among educated persons, are aware of the existence of Jainas and Jaina centres in Southern India. The Madras Presidency discloses vestiges of Jaina dominion almost everywhere, and on many a roadside a stone Tīrthankara, standing or sitting cross-legged, is a common enough sight. The present day interpretations of these images are the same all over the Presidency. If the images are two, one represents a debtor and the other a creditor, both having met on the road, and waiting to get their accounts settled and cleared. If it is only one image, it represents a debtor paying penalty for not having squared up his accounts with his creditor.”

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that “out of a total of 25,716 Jains, as many as 22,273 have returned both caste and sub-division as Jain. The remainder have returned 22 sub-divisions, of which some, [420]such as Digambara and Swetambara, are sectarian rather than caste divisions, but others like Marvādi, Osval, Vellālan, etc., are distinct castes. And the returns also show that some Jains have returned well-known castes as their main castes, for we have Jain Brāhmans, Kshatriyas, Gaudas, Vellālas, etc. The Jain Bants, however, have all returned Jain as their main caste.” At the Madras census, 1901, 27,431 Jains were returned. Though they are found in nearly every district of the Madras Presidency, they occur in the largest number in the following:—

South Canara 9,582
North Arcot 8,128
South Arcot 5,896

At the Mysore census, 1901, 13,578 Jains were returned. It is recorded in the report that “the Digambaras and Swetambaras are the two main divisions of the Jain faith. The root of the word Digambara means space clad or sky clad, i.e., nude, while Swetambara means clad in white. The Swetambaras are found more in Northern India, and are represented but by a small number in Mysore. The Digambaras are said to live absolutely separated from society, and from all worldly ties. These are generally engaged in trade, selling mostly brass and copper vessels, and are scattered all over the country, the largest number of them being found in Shimoga, Mysore, and Hassan districts. Srāvana Belagola, in the Hassan district, is a chief seat of the Jains of the province. Tīrthankaras are the priests of the Jain religion, and are also known as Pitambaras. The Jain Yatis or clergy here belong to the Digambara sect, and cover themselves with a yellow robe, and hence the name Pithambara.” The Dāsa Banajigas of Mysore style themselves Jaina Kshatriya Rāmānujas. [421]

In connection with the terms Digambara and Swetambara, it is noted by Bühler2 that “Digambara, that is those whose robe is the atmosphere, owe their name to the circumstance that they regard absolute nudity as the indispensable sign of holiness, though the advance of civilization has compelled them to depart from the practice of their theory. The Swetambara, that is they who are clothed in white, do not claim this doctrine, but hold it as possible that the holy ones who clothe themselves may also attain the highest goal. They allow, however, that the founder of the Jaina religion and his first disciples disdained to wear clothes.”

The most important Jain settlement in Southern India at the present day is at Srāvana Belagola in Mysore, where the Jains are employed in the manufacture of metal vessels for domestic use. The town is situated at the base of two hills, on the summit of one of which, the Indra Betta, is the colossal statue of Gomatēsvara, Gummatta, or Gomata Rāya,3 concerning which Mr. L. Rice writes as follows.4 “The image is nude, and stands erect, facing the north. The figure has no support above the thighs. Up to that point it is represented as surrounded by ant-hills, from which emerge serpents. A climbing plant twines itself round both legs and both arms, terminating at the upper part of the arm in a cluster of fruit or berries. The pedestal on which the feet stand is carved to represent an open lotus. The hair is in spiral ringlets, flat to the head, as usual in Jain images, and the lobe of the ears lengthened down with a large rectangular hole. The extreme [422]height of the figure may be stated at 57 feet, though higher estimates have been given—60 feet 3 inches by Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington), and 70 feet 3 inches by Buchanan.” Of this figure, Fergusson writes5 that nothing grander or more imposing exists anywhere out of Egypt, and even there no known statue surpasses it in height, though, it must be confessed, they do excel it in the perfection of art they exhibit.”

Other colossal statues of Gummata are situated on the summit of hills outside the towns of Karkal and Vēnūr or Yēnūr in South Canara. Concerning the former, Dr. E. Hultzsch writes as follows.6 “It is a monolith consisting of the figure itself, of a slab against which it leans, and which reaches up to the wrists, and of a round pedestal which is sunk into a thousand-petalled lotus flower. The legs and arms of the figure are entwined with vines (drâkshâ). On both sides of the feet, a number of snakes are cut out of the slab against which the image leans. Two inscriptions7 on the sides of the same slab state that this image of Bāhubalin or Gummata Jinapati was set up by a chief named Vîra-Pândya, the son of Bhairava, in A.D. 1431–32. An inscription of the same chief is engraved on a graceful stone pillar in front of the outer gateway. This pillar bears a seated figure of Brahmadêva, a chief of Pattipombuchcha, the modern Humcha in Mysore, who, like Vîra-Pândya, belonged to the family of Jinadatta, built the Chaturmukha basti in A.D. 1586–87. As its name (chaturmukha, the four-faced) implies, this temple has [423]four doors, each of which opens on three black stone figures of the three Tīrthankaras Ari, Malli, and Munisuvrata. Each of the figures has a golden aureole over the head.” According to a legend recorded by Mr. M. J. Walhouse,8 the Karkal statue, when finished, was raised on to a train of twenty iron carts furnished with steel wheels, on each of which ten thousand propitiatory cocoanuts were broken and covered with an infinity of cotton. It was then drawn by legions of worshippers up an inclined plane to the platform on the hill-top where it now stands.

Statue of Gummata at Karkai.

Statue of Gummata at Karkai.

The legend of Kalkuda, who is said to have made the colossal statue at “Belgula,” is narrated at length by Mr. A. C. Burnell.9 Told briefly, the story is as follows. Kalkuda made a Gummata two cubits higher than at Bēlūr. Bairanasuda, King of Karkal, sent for him to work in his kingdom. He made the Gummatasāmi. Although five thousand people were collected together, they were not able to raise the statue. Kalkuda put his left hand under it, and raised it, and set it upright on a base. He then said to the king “Give me my pay, and the present that you have to give to me. It is twelve years since I left my house, and came here.” But the king said “I will not let Kalkuda, who has worked in my kingdom, work in another country,” and cut off his left hand and right leg. Kalkuda then went to Timmanājila, king of Yēnūr, and made a Gummata two cubits higher than that at Karkal.

In connection with the figure at Srāvana Belagola, Fergusson suggests10 that the hill had a mass or tor standing on its summit, which the Jains fashioned into a statue. [424]

The high priest of the Jain basti at Karkal in 1907 gave as his name Lalitha Kirthi Bhattaraka Pattacharya Variya Jiyaswāmigalu. His full-dress consisted of a red and gold-embroidered Benares body-cloth, red and gold turban, and, as a badge of office, a brush of peacock’s feathers mounted in a gold handle, carried in his hand. On ordinary occasions, he carried a similar brush mounted in a silver handle. The abhishēkam ceremony is performed at Karkal at intervals of many years. A scaffold is erected, and over the colossal statue are poured water, milk, flowers, cocoanuts, sugar, jaggery, sugar-candy, gold and silver flowers, fried rice, beans, gram, sandal paste, nine kinds of precious stones, etc.

Concerning the statue at Yēnūr, Mr. Walhouse writes11 that “it is lower than the Kârkala statue (41½ feet), apparently by three or four feet. It resembles its brother colossi in all essential particulars, but has the special peculiarity of the cheeks being dimpled with a deep grave smile. The salient characteristics of all these colossi are the broad square shoulders, and the thickness and remarkable length of the arms, the tips of the fingers, like Rob Roy’s, nearly reaching the knees. [One of Sir Thomas Munro’s good qualities was that, like Rāma, his arms reached to his knees or, in other words, he possessed the quality of an Ājanubāhu, which is the heritage of kings, or those who have blue blood in them.] Like the others, this statue has the lotus enwreathing the legs and arms, or, as Dr. Burnell suggests, it may be jungle creepers, typical of wrapt meditation. [There is a legend that Bāhubalin was so absorbed in meditation in a forest that climbing plants [425]grew over him.] A triple-headed cobra rises up under each hand, and there are others lower down.”

Jain basti at Mudabidure.

Jain basti at Mudabidure.

“The village of Mūdabidure in the South Canara district,” Dr. Hultzsch writes, “is the seat of a Jaina high priest, who bears the title Chârukirti-Panditâchârya-Svâmin. He resides in a matha, which is known to contain a large library of Jaina manuscripts. There are no less than sixteen Jaina temples (basti) at Mûdabidure. Several of them are elaborate buildings with massive stone roofs, and are surrounded by laterite enclosures. A special feature of this style of architecture is a lofty monolithic column called mânastambha, which is set up in front of seven of the bastis. In two of them a flagstaff (dhvajastambha), which consists of wood covered with copper, is placed between the mânastambha and the shrine. Six of them are called Settarabasti, and accordingly must have been built by Jaina merchants (Setti). The sixteen bastis are dedicated to the following Tîrthankaras:—Chandranatha or Chandraprabha, Nêminâtha, Pârsvanâtha, Âdinâtha, Mallinâtha, Padmaprabha, Anantanâtha, Vardhamâna, and Sântinâtha. In two of these bastis are separate shrines dedicated to all the Tîrthankaras, and in another basti the shrines of two Yakshīs. The largest and finest is the Hosabasti, i.e., the new temple, which is dedicated to Chandranâtha, and was built in A.D. 1429–30. It possesses a double enclosure, a very high mânastambha, and a sculptured gateway. The uppermost storey of the temple consists of wood-work. The temple is composed of the shrine (garbagriha), and three rooms in front of it, viz., the Tîrthakaramandapa, the Gaddigemandapa, and the Chitramandapa. In front of the last-mentioned mandapa is a separate building called Bhairâdêvimandapa, which was built in A.D. 1451–52. Round its base runs a [426]band of sculptures, among which the figure of a giraffe deserves to be noted. The idol in the dark innermost shrine is said to consist of five metals (pancha-lôha), among which silver predominates. The basti next in importance is the Gurugalabasti, where two ancient talipot (srîtâlam) copies of the Jaina Siddhânta are preserved in a box with three locks, the keys of which are in charge of three different persons. The minor bastis contain three rooms, viz., the Garbhagriha, the Tîrthakaramandapa, and the Namaskâramandapa. One of the sights of Mûdabidire is the ruined palace of the Chautar, a local chief who follows the Jaina creed, and is in receipt of a pension from the Government. The principal objects of interest at the palace are a few nicely-carved wooden pillars. Two of them bear representations of the pancha-nârîturaga, i.e., the horse composed of five women, and the nava-nârî-kunjara, i.e., the elephant composed of nine women. These are fantastic animals, which are formed by the bodies of a number of shepherdesses for the amusement of their Lord Krishna. The Jains are divided into two classes, viz., priests (indra) and laymen (srivaka). The former consider themselves as Brâhmanas by caste. All the Jainas wear the sacred thread. The priests dine with the laymen, but do not intermarry with them. The former practice the makkalasantâna, i.e., the inheritance through sons, and the latter aliya-santâna, i.e., the inheritance through nephews. The Jainas are careful to avoid pollution from contact with outcastes, who have to get out of their way in the road, as I noticed myself. A Jaina marriage procession, which I saw passing, was accompanied by Hindu dancing-girls. Near the western end of the street in which most of the Jainas live, a curious spectacle presents itself. From a number of high trees, [427]thousands of flying foxes (fruit-bat, Pteropus medius) are suspended. They have evidently selected the spot as a residence, because they are aware that the Jainas, in pursuance of one of the chief tenets of their religion, do not harm any animals. Following the same street further west, the Jaina burial-ground is approached. It contains a large ruined tank with laterite steps, and a number of tombs of wealthy Jain merchants. These tombs are pyramidal structures of several storeys, and are surmounted by a water-pot (kalasa) of stone. Four of the tombs bear short epitaphs. The Jainas cremate their dead, placing the corpse on a stone in order to avoid taking the life of any stray insect during the process.”

Jain basti at Karkal.

Jain basti at Karkal.

In their ceremonials, e.g., marriage rites, the Jains of South Canara closely follow the Bants. They are worshippers of bhūthas (devils), and, in some houses, a room called padōli is set apart, in which the bhūtha is kept. When they make vows, animals are not killed, but they offer metal images of fowls, goats, or pigs.

Of the Jains of the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes12 that “more than half of them are found in the Wandiwash taluk, and the rest in Arcot and Pōlūr. Their existence in this neighbourhood is accounted for by the fact that a Jain dynasty reigned for many years in Conjeeveram. They must at one time have been very numerous, as their temples and sculptures are found in very many places, from which they themselves have now disappeared. They have most of the Brāhman ceremonies, and wear the sacred thread, but look down upon Brāhmans as degenerate followers of an originally pure faith. For this reason they object generally to accepting [428]ghee (clarified butter) or jaggery (crude sugar), etc., from any but those of their own caste. They are defiled by entering a Pariah village, and have to purify themselves by bathing and assuming a new thread. The usual caste affix is Nainar, but a few, generally strangers from other districts, are called Rao, Chetti, Dās, or Mudaliyar.

At Pillapālaiyam, a suburb of Conjeeveram in the Chingleput district, is a Jain temple of considerable artistic beauty. It is noted by Sir M. E. Grant Duff13 that this is “left unfinished, as it would seem, by the original builders, and adapted later to the Shivite worship. Now it is abandoned by all its worshippers, but on its front stands the census number 9–A—emblematic of the new order of things.”

Concerning the Jains of the South Arcot district, Mr. W. Francis writes14 that “there is no doubt that in ancient days the Jain faith was powerful in this district. The Periya Purānam says that there was once a Jain monastery and college at Pātaliputra, the old name for the modern Tirupāpuliyūr, and remains of Jain images and sculptures are comparatively common in the district. The influence of the religion doubtless waned in consequence of the great Saivite revival, which took place in the early centuries of the present era, and the Periya Purānam gives a story in connection therewith, which is of local interest. It says that the Saivite poet-saint Appar was at one time a student in the Jain college at Pātaliputra, but was converted to Saivism in consequence of the prayers of his sister, who was a devotee of the deity in the temple at Tiruvādi near Panruti. The local king was a Jain, and was at first enraged with Appar [429]for his fervent support of his new faith. But eventually he was himself induced by Appar to become a Saivite, and he then turned the Pāliputra monastery into a temple to Siva, and ordered the extirpation of all Jains. Later on there was a Jain revival, but this in its turn was followed by another persecution of the adherents of that faith. The following story connected with this latter occurs in one of the Mackenzie Manuscripts, and is supported by existing tradition. In 1478 A.D., the ruler of Gingee was one Venkatāmpēttaī, Venkatapati,15 who belonged to the comparatively low caste of the Kavarais. He asked the local Brāhmans to give him one of their daughters to wife. They said that, if the Jains would do so, they would follow suit. Venkatapati told the Jains of this answer, and asked for one of their girls as a bride. They took counsel among themselves how they might avoid the disgrace of connecting themselves by marriage with a man of such a caste, and at last pretended to agree to the king’s proposal, and said that the daughter of a certain prominent Jain would be given him. On the day fixed for the marriage, Venkatapati went in state to the girl’s house for the ceremony, but found it deserted and empty, except for a bitch tied to one of the posts of the verandah. Furious at the insult, he issued orders to behead all Jains. Some of the faith were accordingly decapitated, others fled, others again were forced to practice their rites secretly, and yet others became Saivites to escape death. Not long afterwards, some of the king’s officers saw a Jain named Vīrasēnāchārya performing the rites peculiar to his faith in a well in Vēlūr near Tindivanam, and hauled him before their master. The latter, however, had just had a child born to him, was in a good [430]temper, and let the accused go free; and Vīrasēnāchārya, sobered by his narrow escape from death, resolved to become an ascetic, went to Srāvana Belgola, and there studied the holy books of the Jain religion. Meanwhile another Jain of the Gingee country, Gāngayya Udaiyār of Tāyanūr in the Tindivanam taluk, had fled to the protection of the Zamindar of Udaiyārpālaiyam in Trichinopoly, who befriended him and gave him some land. Thus assured of protection, he went to Srāvana Belgola, fetched back Vīrasēnāchārya, and with him made a tour through the Gingee country, to call upon the Jains who remained there to return to their ancient faith. These people had mostly become Saivites, taken off their sacred threads and put holy ashes on their foreheads, and the name Nīrpūsi Vellālas, or the Vellālas who put on holy ash, is still retained. The mission was successful, and Jainism revived. Vīrasēnāchārya eventually died at Vēlūr, and there, it is said, is kept in a temple a metal image of Parsvanātha, one of the twenty-four Tīrthankaras, which he brought from Srāvana Belgola. The descendants of Gāngayya Udaiyār still live in Tāyanūr, and, in memory of the services of their ancestor to the Jain cause, they are given the first betel and leaf on festive occasions, and have a leading voice in the election of the high-priest at Sittāmūr in the Tindivanam taluk. This high-priest, who is called Mahādhipati, is elected by representatives from the chief Jain villages. These are, in Tindivanam taluk, Sittāmūr itself, Vīranāmūr, Vilukkam, Peramāndūr, Alagrāmam, and the Vēlūr and Tāyanūr already mentioned. The high-priest has supreme authority over all Jains south of Madras, but not over those in Mysore or South Canara, with whom the South Arcot community have no relations. He travels round in a palanquin with a suite of followers to the [431]chief centres—his expenses being paid by the communities he visits—settles caste disputes, and fines, and excommunicates the erring. His control over his people is still very real, and is in strong contrast to the waning authority of many of the Hindu gurus. The Jain community now holds a high position in Tindivanam taluk, and includes wealthy traders and some of quite the most intelligent agriculturists there. The men use the title of Nayinār or Udaiyār, but their relations in Kumbakōnam and elsewhere in that direction sometimes call themselves Chetti or Mudaliyār. The women are great hands at weaving mats from the leaves of the date-palm. The men, except that they wear the thread, and paint on their foreheads a sect-mark which is like the ordinary Vaishnavite mark, but square instead of semi-circular at the bottom, and having a dot instead of a red streak in the middle, in general appearance resemble Vellālas. They are usually clean shaved. The women dress like Vellālas, and wear the same kind of tāli (marriage emblem) and other jewellery. The South Arcot Jains all belong to the Digambara sect, and the images in their temples of the twenty-four Tīrthankaras are accordingly without clothing. These temples, the chief of which are those at Tirunirankonrai16 and Sittāmūr, are not markedly different in external appearance from Hindu shrines, but within these are images of some of the Tīrthankaras, made of stone or of painted clay, instead of representations of the Hindu deities. The Jain rites of public worship much resemble those of the Brāhmans. There is the same bathing of the god with sacred oblations, sandal, and so on; the same lighting and waving of lamps, and burning of camphor; and the same breaking of cocoanuts, [432]playing of music, and reciting of sacred verses. These ceremonies are performed by members of the Archaka or priest class. The daily private worship in the houses is done by the laymen themselves before a small image of one of the Tīrthankaras, and daily ceremonies resembling those of the Brāhmans, such as the pronouncing of the sacred mantram at daybreak, and the recital of forms of prayer thrice daily, are observed. The Jains believe in the doctrine of re-births, and hold that the end of all is Nirvāna. They keep the Sivarātri and Dīpāvali feasts, but say that they do so, not for the reasons which lead Hindus to revere these dates, but because on them the first and the last of the twenty-four Tīrthankaras attained beatitude. Similarly they observe Pongal and the Ayudha pūja day. They adhere closely to the injunctions of their faith prohibiting the taking of life, and, to guard themselves from unwittingly infringing them, they do not eat or drink at night lest they might thereby destroy small insects which had got unseen into their food. For the same reason, they filter through a cloth all milk or water which they use, eat only curds, ghee and oil which they have made themselves with due precautions against the taking of insect life, or known to have been similarly made by other Jains, and even avoid the use of shell chunam (lime). The Vēdakkārans (shikāri or hunting caste) trade on these scruples by catching small birds, bringing them to Jain houses, and demanding money to spare their lives. The Jains have four sub-divisions, namely, the ordinary laymen, and three priestly classes. Of the latter, the most numerous are the Archakas (or Vādyārs). They do the worship in the temples. An ordinary layman cannot become an Archaka; it is a class apart. An Archaka can, however, rise to the next higher of the [433]priestly classes, and become what is called an Annam or Annuvriti, a kind of monk who is allowed to marry, but has to live according to certain special rules of conduct. These Annams can again rise to the highest of the three classes, and become Nirvānis or Munis, monks who lead a celibate life apart from the world. There is also a sisterhood of nuns, called Aryānganais, who are sometimes maidens, and sometimes women who have left their husbands, but must in either case take a vow of chastity. The monks shave their heads, and dress in red; the nuns similarly shave, but wear white. Both of them carry as marks of their condition a brass vessel and a bunch of peacock’s feathers, with which latter they sweep clean any place on which they sit down, lest any insect should be there. To both classes the other Jains make namaskāram (respectful salutation) when they meet them, and both are maintained at the cost of the rest of the community. The laymen among the Jains will not intermarry, though they will dine with the Archakas, and these latter consequently have the greatest trouble in procuring brides for their sons, and often pay Rs. 200 or Rs. 300 to secure a suitable match. Otherwise there are no marriage sub-divisions among the community, all Jains south of Madras freely intermarrying. Marriage takes place either before or after puberty. Widows are not allowed to remarry, but are not required to shave their heads until they are middle-aged. The dead are burnt, and the death pollution lasts for twelve days, after which period purification is performed, and the parties must go to the temple. Jains will not eat with Hindus. Their domestic ceremonies, such as those of birth, marriage, death and so on resemble generally those of the Brāhmans. A curious difference is that, though the girls never wear [434]the thread, they are taught the thread-wearing mantram, amid all the ceremonies usual in the case of boys, when they are about eight years old.”

It is recorded, in the report on Epigraphy, 1906–1907, that at Eyil in the South Arcot district the Jains asked the Collector for permission to use the stones of the Siva temple for repairing their own. The Collector called upon the Hindus to put the Siva temple in order within a year, on pain of its being treated as an escheat.

Near the town of Madura is a large isolated mass of naked rock, which is known as Ānaimalai (elephant hill). “The Madura Sthala Purāna says it is a petrified elephant. The Jains of Conjeeveram, says this chronicle, tried to convert the Saivite people of Madura to the Jain faith. Finding the task difficult, they had recourse to magic. They dug a great pit ten miles long, performed a sacrifice thereon, and thus caused a huge elephant to arise from it. This beast they sent against Madura. It advanced towards the town, shaking the whole earth at every step, with the Jains marching close behind it. But the Pāndya king invoked the aid of Siva, and the god arose and slew the elephant with his arrow at the spot where it now lies petrified.”17

In connection with the long barren rock near Madura called Nāgamalai (snake hill), “local legends declare that it is the remains of a huge serpent, brought into existence by the magic arts of the Jains, which was only prevented by the grace of Siva from devouring the fervently Saivite city it so nearly approaches.”18 Two miles south of Madura is a small hill of rock named Pasumalai. “The name means cow hill, and the legend in the Madura Sthala Purāna says that the Jains, being [435]defeated in their attempt to destroy Madura by means of the serpent which was turned into the Nāgamalai, resorted to more magic, and evolved a demon in the form of an enormous cow. They selected this particular shape for their demon, because they thought that no one would dare kill so sacred an animal. Siva, however, directed the bull which is his vehicle to increase vastly in size, and go to meet the cow. The cow, seeing him, died of love, and was turned into this hill.”

On the wall of the mantapam of the golden lotus tank (pōthāmaraī) of the Mīnakshi temple at Madura is a series of frescoes illustrating the persecution of the Jains. For the following account thereof, I am indebted to Mr. K. V. Subramania Aiyar. Srī Gnāna Sammandha Swāmi, who was an avatar or incarnation of Subramaniya, the son of Siva, was the foremost of the sixty-three canonised saints of the Saivaite religion, and a famous champion thereof. He was sent into the world by Siva to put down the growing prevalence of the Jaina heresy, and to re-establish the Saivite faith in Southern India. He entered on the execution of his earthly mission at the age of three, when he was suckled with the milk of spirituality by Parvati, Siva’s consort. He manifested himself first at the holy place Shiyali in the present Tanjore district to a Brāhman devotee named Sivapathābja Hirthaya and his wife, who were afterwards reputed to be his parents. During the next thirteen years, he composed about sixteen thousand thēvaram (psalms) in praise of the presiding deity at the various temples which he visited, and performed miracles. Wherever he went, he preached the Saiva philosophy, and made converts. At this time, a certain Koon (hunch-back) Pāndyan was ruling over the Madura country, where, as elsewhere, Jainism had asserted its [436]influence, and he and all his subjects had become converts to the new faith. The queen and the prime-minister, however, were secret adherents to the cult of Siva, whose temple was deserted and closed. They secretly invited Srī Gnāna Sammandha to the capital, in the hope that he might help in extirpating the followers of the obnoxious Jain religion. He accordingly arrived with thousands of followers, and took up his abode in a mutt or monastery on the north side of the Vaigai river. When the Jain priests, who were eight thousand in number, found this out, they set fire to his residence with a view to destroying him. His disciples, however, extinguished the flames. The saint, resenting the complicity of the king in the plot, willed that the fire should turn on him, and burn him in the form of a virulent fever. All the endeavours of the Jain priests to cure him with medicines and incantations failed. The queen and the prime-minister impressed on the royal patient the virtues of the Saiva saint, and procured his admission into the palace. When Sammandha Swāmi offered to cure the king by simply throwing sacred ashes on him, the Jain priests who were present contended that they must still be given a chance. So it was mutually agreed between them that each party should undertake to cure half the body of the patient. The half allotted to Sammandha was at once cured, while the fever raged with redoubled severity in the other half. The king accordingly requested Sammandha to treat the rest of his body, and ordered the Jaina priests to withdraw from his presence. The touch of Sammandha’s hand, when rubbing the sacred ashes over him, cured not only the fever, but also the hunched back. The king now looked so graceful that he was thenceforward called Sundara (beautiful) Pāndyan. [437]He was re-converted to Saivism, the doors of the Siva temple were re-opened, and the worship of Siva therein was restored. The Jain priests, not satisfied with their discomfiture, offered to establish the merits of their religion in other ways. They suggested that each party should throw the cadjan (palm-leaf) books containing the doctrines of their respective religions into a big fire, and that the party whose books were burnt to ashes should be considered defeated. The saint acceding to the proposal, the books were thrown into the fire, with the result that those flung by Sammandha were uninjured, while no trace of the Jain books remained. Still not satisfied, the Jains proposed that the religious books of both parties should be cast into the flooded Vaigai river, and that the party whose books travelled against the current should be regarded as victorious. The Jains promised Sammandha that, if they failed in this trial, they would become his slaves, and serve him in any manner he pleased. But Sammandha replied: “We have already got sixteen thousand disciples to serve us. You have profaned the name of the supreme Siva, and committed sacrilege by your aversion to the use of his emblems, such as sacred ashes and beads. So your punishment should be commensurate with your vile deeds.” Confident of success, the Jains offered to be impaled on stakes if they lost. The trial took place, and the books of the Saivites travelled up stream. Sammandha then gave the Jains a chance of escape by embracing the Saiva faith, to which some of them became converts. The number thereof was so great that the available supply of sacred ashes was exhausted. Such of the Jains as remained unconverted were impaled on stakes resembling a sūla or trident. It may be noted that, in the Mahābhārata, Rishi Māndaviar is said to [438]have been impaled on a stake on a false charge of theft. And Rāmanūja, the Guru of the Vaishnavites, is also said to have impaled heretics on stakes in the Mysore province. The events recorded in the narrative of Sammandha and the Jains are gone through at five of the twelve annual festivals at the Madura temple. On these occasions, which are known as impaling festival days, an image representing a Jain impaled on a stake is carried in procession. According to a tradition the villages of Mēla Kīlavu and Kīl Kīlavu near Sōlavandān are so named because the stakes (kīlavu) planted for the destruction of the Jains in the time of Tirugnāna extended so far from the town of Madura.

For details of the literature relating to the Jains, I would refer the reader to A. Guérinot’s ‘Essai de Bibliographie Jaina,’ Annales du Musée Guimet, Paris, 1906.

Jain Vaisya.—The name assumed by a small colony of “Banians,” who have settled in Native Cochin. They are said19 to frequent the kalli (stone) pagoda in the Kannuthnād tāluk of North Travancore, and believe that he who proceeds thither a sufficiently large number of times obtains salvation. Of recent years, a figure of Brahma is said to have sprung up of itself on the top of the rock, on which the pagoda is situated.

Jakkula.—Described20 as an inferior class of prostitutes, mostly of the Balija caste; and as wizards and a dancing and theatrical caste. At Tenali, in the Kistna district, it was customary for each family to give up one girl for prostitution. She was “married” to any chance comer for one night with the usual ceremonies. Under the influence of social reform, the members of the caste, [439]in 1901, entered into a written agreement to give up the practice. A family went back on this, so the head of the caste prosecuted the family and the “husband” for disposing of a minor for the purpose of prostitution. The records state that it was resolved, in 1901, that they should not keep the females as girls, but should marry them before they attain puberty. “As the deeds of the said girls not only brought discredit on all of us, but their association gives our married women also an opportunity to contract bad habits, and, as all of our castemen thought it good to give up henceforth the custom of leaving girls unmarried now in vogue, all of us convened a public meeting in the Tenali village, considered carefully the pros and cons, and entered into the agreement herein mentioned. If any person among us fail to marry the girls in the families before puberty, the managing members of the families of the girls concerned should pay Rs. 500 to the three persons whom we have selected as the headmen of our caste, as penalty for acting in contravention of this agreement. If any person does not pay the headmen of the caste the penalty, the headmen are authorised to recover the amount through Court. We must abstain from taking meals, living, or intermarriage with such of the families as do not now join with us in this agreement, and continue to keep girls unmarried. We must not take meals or intermarry with those that are now included in this agreement, but who hereafter act in contravention of it. If any of us act in contravention of the terms of the two last paragraphs, we should pay a penalty of Rs. 50 to the headmen.”

Jalagadugu.—Defined, by Mr. C. P. Brown,21 as “a caste of gold-finders, who search for gold in drains, [440]and in the sweepings of goldsmiths’ shops.” A modest livelihood is also obtained, in some places, by extracting gold from the bed of rivers or nullahs (water-courses). The name is derived from jala, water, gadugu, wash. The equivalent Jalakāra is recorded, in the Bellary Gazetteer, as a sub-division of Kabbēra.

In the city of Madras, gold-washers are to be found working in the foul side drains in front of jewellers’ shops. The Health Officer to the Corporation informs me that he often chases them, and breaks their pots for obstructing public drains in their hunt for pieces of gold and other metals.

For the following note on the gold-washers of Madras, I am indebted to Dr. K. T. Mathew: “This industry is carried on in the city by the Oddars, and was practically monopolised by them till a few years back, when other castes, mostly of the lower orders, stepped in. The Oddars now form a population of several thousands in the city, their chief occupation being conservancy cooly work. The process of gold washing is carried out by women at home, and by the aged and adults in their spare hours. The ashes, sweepings, and refuse from the goldsmiths’ shops are collected on payment of a sum ranging from one rupee to ten rupees per mensem, and are brought in baskets to a convenient place alongside their huts, where they are stored for a variable time. The drain silts from streets where there are a large number of jewellers’ shops are similarly collected, but, in this case, the only payment to be made is a present to the Municipal peon. The materials so collected are left undisturbed for a few days or several months, and this storing away for a time is said to be necessary to facilitate the extraction of the gold, as any immediate attempt to wash the stuff results in great loss in the quantity [441]obtained. From the heap as much as can be taken on an ordinary spade is put into a boat-shaped tub open at one end, placed close to the heap, and so arranged that the waste water from the tub flows away from the heap behind, and collects in a shallow pool in front. The water from the pool is collected in a small chatty (earthen vessel), and poured over the heap in the tub, which is continually stirred up with the other hand. All the lighter stuff in this way flows out of the tub, and all the hard stones are every now and then picked out and thrown away. This process goes on until about a couple of handfuls of dark sand, etc., are left in the tub. To this a small quantity of mercury is added, briskly rubbed for a minute or two, and the process of washing goes on, considerable care being taken to see that no particle of mercury escapes, until at last the mercury, with a great many particles of metallic dust attached, is collected in a small chatty—often a broken piece of a pot. The mercury, with the metallic particles in it, is then well washed with clean water, and put into a tiny bag formed of two layers of a piece of rag. The mass is then gently pressed until all the mercury falls into a chatty below, leaving a small flattened mass of dark substance in the bag, which is carefully collected, and kept in another dry chatty. The washing process is repeated until enough of the dark substance—about a third of a teaspoonful—is collected. This substance is then mixed with powdered common salt and brick-dust, put into a broken piece of a pot, and covered with another piece. The whole is placed in a large earthen vessel, with cow-dung cakes well packed above and below. A blazing fire is soon produced, and kept up till the mass is melted. This mass is carefully removed, and again melted with borax in a hole made in a piece of good charcoal, by blowing [442]through a reed or hollow bamboo, until the gold separates from the mass. The fire is then suddenly quenched, and the piece of gold is separated and removed.”

Jālāri.—The Jālāris are Telugu fishermen, palanquin-bearers, and cultivators in Ganjam and Vizagapatam. The name, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes, is derived from jāla, a net. Some are fresh-water fishermen, while others fish with a cast-net (visuru valalu) from the sea-shore, or on the open sea. They bear the name Gangavamsamu, or people of Ganga, in the same way that a division of the Kabbēra fishing caste is called Gangimakkalu. In caste organisation, ceremonial, etc., the Jālāris coincide with the Mīlas. They are called Noliyas by the Oriyas of Ganjam. They have house-names like other Telugus, and their females do not wear brass bangles, as low-caste Oriya women do.

The Jālāris have two endogamous divisions, called panrendu kotla (twelve posts), and edu kotla (seven posts), in reference to the number of posts for the booth. The former claim superiority over the latter, on the ground that they are illegitimate Jālāris, or recently admitted into the caste.

Like other Telugu castes, the Jālāris have a caste council under the control of a headman called Pilla. In imitation of the Oriyas, they have created an assistant headman called Dolobēhara, and they have the usual caste servant.

In their puberty, marriage and death ceremonies, they closely follow the Vādas and Palles. The prohibitions regarding marriage are of the Telugu form, but, like the Oriya castes, the Jālāris allow a widow to marry her deceased husband’s younger brother. The marriage ceremonies last for three days. On the first day, the pandal (booth), with the usual milk-post, is erected. For [443]every marriage, representatives of the four towns Peddapatnam, Vizagapatam, Bimlipatam, and Revalpatnam, should be invited, and should be the first to receive pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca nuts) after the pandal has been set up. Peddapatnam is the first to be called out, and the respect may be shown to any person from that town. The representatives of the other towns must belong to particular septs, as follows:—

Vizagapatam Buguri sept.
Revalpatnam Jonna sept.
Bimlipatam Sundra sept.

The Jālāris are unable to explain the significance of this “counting towns,” as they call it. Possibly Peddapatnam was their original home, from which particular septs emigrated to other towns. On the second day of the marriage ceremonies, the tying of the sathamānam (marriage badge) takes place. The bridegroom, after going in procession through the streets, enters the house at which the marriage is to be celebrated. At the entrance, the maternal uncle of the bride stands holding in his crossed hands two vessels, one of which contains water, and the other water with jaggery (crude sugar) dissolved in it. The bridegroom is expected to take hold of the vessel containing the sweetened water before he enters, and is fined if he fails to do so. When the bridegroom approaches the pandal, some married women hold a bamboo pole between him and the pandal, and a new earthen pot is carried thrice round the pole. While this is being done, the bride joins the bridegroom, and the couple enter the pandal beneath a cloth held up to form a canopy in front thereof. This ceremonial takes place towards evening, as the marriage badge is tied on the bride’s neck during the night. An interesting feature in connection with the procession is that a pole called [444]digametlu (shoulder-pole), with two baskets tied to the ends, is carried. In one of the baskets a number of sieves and small baskets are placed, and in the other one or more cats. This digametlu is always referred to by the Vādas when they are questioned as to the difference between their marriage ceremonies and those of the Jālāris. Other castes laugh at this custom, and it is consequently dying out.

The Jālāris always marry young girls. One reason assigned for this is “the income to married young girls” at the time of the marriage ceremonies. Two or more married couples are invited to remain at the house in which the marriage takes place, to help the bridal couple in their toilette, and assist at the nalagu, evil eye waving, and other rites. They are rewarded for their services with presents. Another instance of infant marriage being the rule on account of pecuniary gain is found among the Dikshitar Brāhmans of Chidambaram. Only married males have a voice in temple affairs, and receive a share of the temple income. Consequently, boys are sometimes married when they are seven or eight years old. At every Jālāri marriage, meals must be given to the castemen, a rupee to the representatives of the patnams, twelve annas to the headman and his assistant, and three rupees to the Mālas.

Like other Telugu castes, the Jālāris have intipērus (septs), which resemble those of the Vādas. Among them, Jonna and Buguri are common. In their religious observances, the Jālāris closely follow the Vādas.

The Madras Museum possesses a collection of clay and wooden figures, such as are worshipped by the fishing castes at Gopalpūr, and other places on the Ganjam coast. Concerning these, Mr. J. D’A. C. Reilly writes to me as follows. The specimens represent the [445]chief gods worshipped by the fishermen. The Tahsildar of Berhampūr got them made by the potters and carpenters, who usually make such figures for the Gopalpūr fishermen. I have found fishermen’s shrines at several places. Separate families appear to have separate shrines, some consisting of large chatties (earthen pots), occasionally ornamented, and turned upside down, with an opening on one side. Others are made of bricks and chunam (lime). All that I have seen had their opening towards the sea. Two classes of figures are placed in these shrines, viz., clay figures of gods, which are worshipped before fishing expeditions, and when there is danger from a particular disease which they prevent; and wooden figures of deceased relations, which are quite as imaginative as the clay figures. Figures of gods and relations are placed in the same family shrine. There are hundreds of gods to choose from, and the selection appears to be a matter of family taste and tradition. The figures which I have sent were made by a potter at Venkatarayapalle, and painted by a carpenter at Uppulapatti, both villages near Gopalpūr. The Tahsildar tells me that, when he was inspecting them at the Gopalpūr traveller’s bungalow, sixty or seventy fishermen objected to their gods being taken away. He pacified them by telling them that it was because the Government had heard of their devotion to their gods that they wanted to have some of them in Madras. The collection of clay figures includes the following:—

Bengali Babu.—Wears a hat, and rides on a black horse. He blesses the fishermen, secures large hauls of fish for them, and guards them against danger when out fishing.

Sāmalamma.—Wears a red skirt and green coat and protects the fishermen from fever. [446]

Rājamma, a female figure, with a sword in her right hand, riding on a black elephant. She blesses barren women with children, and favours her devotees with big catches when they go out fishing.

Yerenamma, riding on a white horse, with a sword in her right hand. She protects fishermen from drowning, and from being caught by big fish.

Bhāgīrathamma, riding on an elephant, and having eight or twelve hands. She helps fishermen when fishing at night, and protects them against cholera, dysentery, and other intestinal disorders.

Nūkalamma.—Wears a red jacket and green skirt, and protects the fishing community against small-pox.

Orosondi Ammavāru.—Prevents the boats from being sunk or damaged.

Bhāgadēvi.—Rides on a tiger, and protects the community from cholera.

Veyyi Kannula Ammavāru, or the goddess of a thousand eyes, represented by a pot pierced with holes, in which a gingelly (Sesamum) oil light is burnt. She attends to the general welfare of the fisher folk.

Jāli (Acacia arabica).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Jalli.—Jalli, meaning palm tassels put round the neck and horns of bulls, occurs as an exogamous sept of Jōgi. The name occurs further as a sub-division of Kevuto.

Jāmbava.—A synonym of the Mādigas, who claim descent from the rishi Audi Jāmbavādu.

Jambu (Eugenia Jambolana).—An exogamous sept of Oddē.

Jāmbuvar (a monkey king with a bear’s face).—An exogamous sept of Kondaiyamkottai Maravan.

Jamkhānvāla (carpet-maker).—An occupational name for Patnūlkārans and Patvēgars. [447]

Jammi (Prosopis spicigera).—A gōtra of Gollas, members of which may not use the tree. It is further a gōtra of Chembadis. Children of this caste who are named after the caste god Gurappa or Gurunāthadu are taken, when they are five, seven, or nine years old, to a jammi tree, and shaved after it has been worshipped with offerings of cooked food, etc. The jammi or sami tree is regarded as sacred all over India. Some orthodox Hindus, when they pass it, go round it, and salute it, repeating a Sanskrit verse to the effect that “the sami tree removes sins; it is the destroyer of enemies; it was the bearer of the bows and arrows of Arjuna, and the sight of it was very welcome to Rāma.”

Janappan.—The Janappans, Mr. W. Francis writes,22 “were originally a section of the Balijas, but they have now developed into a distinct caste. They seem to have been called Janappan, because they manufactured gunny-bags of hemp (janapa) fibre. In Tamil they are called Saluppa Chettis, Saluppan being the Tamil form of Janappan. Some of them have taken to calling themselves Dēsāyis or Dēsādhīpatis (rulers of countries), and say they are Balijas. They do not wear the sacred thread. The caste usually speaks Telugu, but in Madura there is a section, the women of which speak Tamil, and also are debarred from taking part in religious ceremonies, and, therefore, apparently belonged originally to some other caste.”

In a note on the Janappans of the North Arcot district23 Mr. H. A. Stuart states that Janappan is “the name of a caste, which engages in trade by hawking goods about the towns and villages. Originally they were merely manufacturers of gunny-bags out of hemp [448](janapa, Crotalaria juncea), and so obtained their name. But they are now met with as Dāsaris or religious beggars, sweetmeat-sellers, and hawkers of English cloths and other goods. By the time they have obtained to the last honourable profession, they assume to be Balijas. Telugu is their vernacular, and Chetti their usual caste name. According to their own tradition, they sprung from a yāgam (sacrificial rite) made by Brahma, and their remote ancestor thus produced was, they say, asked by the merchants of the country to invent some means for carrying about their wares. He obtained some seeds from the ashes of Brahma’s yāgam, which he sowed, and the plant which sprang up was the country hemp, which he manufactured into a gunny-bag. The Janapa Chettis are enterprising men in their way, and are much employed at the fairs at Gudiyāttam and other places as cattle-brokers.”

The Saluppans say that they have twenty-four gōtras, which are divided into groups of sixteen and eight. Marriage is forbidden between members of the same group, but permitted between members of the sixteen and eight gōtras. Among the names of the gōtras, are the following:—

  • Vasava.
  • Vamme.
  • Mummudi.
  • Pilli Vankaravan.
  • Makkiduvan.
  • Thallelan.
  • Gendagiri.
  • Madalavan.
  • Piligara.
  • Mukkanda.
  • Vadiya.
  • Thonda.
  • Kōla.

The Janappans of the Telugu country also say that they have only twenty-four gōtras. Some of these are totemistic in character. Thus, members of the Kappala (frog) gōtra owe their name to a tradition that on one [449]occasion, when some of the family were fishing, they caught a haul of big frogs instead of fish. Consequently, members of this gōtra do not injure frogs. Members of the Thonda or Thonda Mahā Rishi gōtra abstain from using the fruit or leaves of the thonda plant (Cephalandra indica). The fruits of this plant are among the commonest of native vegetables. In like manner, members of the Mukkanda sept may not use the fruit of Momordica Charantia. Those of the Vamme gōtra abstain from eating the fish called bombadai, because, when some of their ancestors went to fetch water in the marriage pot, they found a number of this fish in the water collected in the pot. So, too, in the Kōla gōtra, the eating of the fish called kōlasi is forbidden.

In their marriage customs, those who live in the Telugu country follow the Telugu Purānic form, while those who have settled in the Tamil country have adopted some of the marriage rites thereof. There are, however, some points of interest in their marriage ceremonies. On the day fixed for the betrothal, those assembled wait silently listening for the chirping of a lizard, which is an auspicious sign. It is said that the match is broken off, if the chirping is not heard. If the omen proves auspicious, a small bundle of nine to twelve kinds of pulses and grain is given by the bridegroom’s father to the father of the bride. This is preserved, and examined several days after the marriage. If the grain and pulses are in good condition, it is a sign that the newly married couple will have a prosperous career.

There are both Saivites and Vaishnavites among these people, and the former predominate in the southern districts. Most of the Vaishnavites are disciples of Bhatrāzus. The Bhatrāzu priest goes round periodically, collecting his fees. Those among [450]the Saivites who are religiously inclined are disciples of Pandārams of mutts (religious institutions). Those who have settled in the Salem district seem to consider Damayanti and Kāmātchi as the caste deities.

The manufacture of gunny-bags is still carried on by some members of the caste, but they are mainly engaged in trade and agriculture. In the city of Madras, the sale of various kinds of fruits is largely in the hands of the Janappans.

Sāthu vāndlu, meaning a company of merchants or travellers, occurs as a synonym of Janappan.

In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, Janappa is returned as a sub-division of the Gōnigas, who are sack-weavers, and makers of gunny-bags.

Jandāyi (flag).—An exogamous sept of Yānādi.

Janga (calf of the leg).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Jangal Jāti.—A synonym, denoting jungle folk, of the Kurivikārans or Kāttu Marāthis.

Jangam.—It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “strictly speaking, a Jangam is a priest to the religious sect of Lingāyats, but the term is frequently loosely applied to any Lingāyat, which accounts for the large numbers under this head (102,121). Jangams proper are said to be of two classes, Pattādikāris, who have a definite head-quarters, and Charamūrtis, who go from village to village, preaching the principles of the Lingāyat sect. Many Jangams are priests to Sūdras who are not Lingāyats, others are merely religious beggars, and others of them go in for trade.” In the Census Report, 1891, it is further recorded that “the full name is Jangama Lingāyat, meaning those who always worship a moveable lingam, in contradistinction to the Sthāvara (immoveable) lingam of the temples. [451]Only two of the sub-divisions returned are numerically important, Ganāyata and Sthāvara. The sub-division Sthāvara is curious, for a Sthāvara Jangam is a contradistinction in terms. This sub-division is found only in the two northern districts, and it is possible that the Jangam caste, as there found, is different from the ordinary Jangam, for, in the Vizagapatam District Manual, the Jangams are said to be tailors.” In the Telugu country Lingāyats are called Jangālu.

The Ganta Jangams are so called, because they carry a metal bell (ganta).

The Jangams are thus referred to by Pietro della Valle.24 “At Ikkeri I saw certain Indian Friars, whom in their language they call Giangāma, and perhaps are the same with the sages seen by me elsewhere; but they have wives, and go with their faces smeared with ashes, yet not naked, but clad in certain extravagant habits, and a kind of hood or cowl upon their heads of dyed linen of that colour which is generally used amongst them, namely a reddish brick colour, with many bracelets upon their arms and legs, filled with something within that makes a jangling as they walk. I saw many persons come to kiss their feet, and, whilst such persons were kissing them, and, for more reverence, touching their feet with their foreheads, these Giangāmas stood firm with a seeming severity, and without taking notice of it, as if they had been abstracted from the things of the world.” (See Lingāyat.)

Janjapul (sacred thread).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Janmi.—Janmi or Janmakāran means “proprietor” or “landlord”; the person in whom the janman title rests. [452]Janman denotes (1) birth, birthright, proprietorship; (2) freehold property, which it was considered disgraceful to alienate. Janmabhogam is the share in the produce of the land, which is due to the Janmi.”25 In 1805–1806, the Collector of Malabar obtained, for the purpose of carrying out a scheme of assessment approved by Government, a return from all proprietors of the seed, produce, etc., of all their fields. This return is usually known as the Janmi pymāish of 981 M.E. (Malabar era).26

Writing to me concerning Malabar at the present day, a correspondent states that “in almost every tāluk we have jungle tribes, who call themselves the men of Janmis. In the old days, when forests were sold, the inhabitants were actually entered in the contract as part of the effects, as, in former times, the landlord sold the adscripti or ascripti glebæ with the land. Now that is not done. However, the relationship exists to the following extent, according to what a Tahsildar (native magistrate) tells me. The tribesmen roam about the forests at will, and each year select a place, which has lain fallow for five years or more for all kinds of cultivation. Sometimes they inform the Janmis that they have done so, sometimes they do not. Then, at harvest time, the Janmi, or his agent, goes up and takes his share of the produce. They never try to deceive the Janmi. He is asked to settle their disputes, but these are rare. They never go to law. The Janmi can call on them for labour, and they give it willingly. If badly treated, as they have been at times by encroaching plainsmen, they run off to another forest, and serve another Janmi. At the Ōnam festival they come with [453]gifts for the Janmi, who stands them a feast. The relation between the jungle folk and the Janmi shows the instinct in a primitive people to have a lord. There seems to be no gain in having a Janmi. His protection is not needed, and he is hardly ever called in to interfere. If they refused to pay the Janmi his dues, he would find it very hard to get them. Still they keep him.” In the middle of the last century, when planters first began to settle in the Malabar Wynād, they purchased the land from the Janmis with the Paniyans living on it, who were practically slaves of the landowners.

The hereditary rights and perquisites claimed, in their villages, by the astrologer, carpenter, goldsmith, washerman, barber, etc., are called Cherujanmam.

Janni.—The name of the caste priests of Jātapus.

Japanese.—At the Mysore census, 1901, two Japanese were returned. They were managers of the silk farm instituted on Japanese methods by Mr. Tata of Bombay in the vicinity of Bangalore.

Jāt.—A few members of this North Indian class of Muhammadans, engaged in trade, have been returned at times of census in Mysore.

Jātapu.—The Jātapus are defined, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a civilised section of the Khonds, who speak Khond on the hills and Telugu on the plains, and are now practically a distinct caste. They consider themselves superior to those Khonds who still eat beef and snakes, and have taken to some of the ways of the castes of the plains.”

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The name Jātapu is popularly believed to be an abbreviated form of Konda Jātapu Doralu, or lords of the Khond caste. To this caste the old chiefs of the Pālkonda Zamindāri are said to have [454]belonged. It is divided into a number of septs, such, for example, as:—

Thōrika or Thōyika, who revere the thōrika kōdi, a species of wild fowl.

Kādrika, who revere another species of fowl.

Mamdangi, who revere the bull or cow.

Addāku, who revere the addāku (Bauhinia racemosa), which is used by low-country people for eating-platters.

Konda Gorrē, who revere a certain breed of sheep.

Navalipitta, who revere the peacock.

Arika, who revere the arika (Paspalum scrobiculatum).

Other septs, recorded in the Census Report, 1901, are Koalaka (arrow), Kutraki (wild goat), and Vinka (white ant, Termes).

Marriage is celebrated either before or after a girl reaches puberty. A man may claim his paternal aunt’s daughter as his wife. The marriage ceremonies closely resemble those of the low-country Telugu type. The bride-price, called vōli, is a new cloth for the bride’s mother, rice, various kinds of grain, and liquor. The bride is conducted to the house of the bridegroom, and a feast is held. On the following morning, the kāllagōlla sambramam (toe-nail cutting) ceremony takes place, and, later on, at an auspicious hour, the wrist threads (kankanam) are tied on the wrists of the contracting couple, and their hands joined together. They then bathe, and another feast is held. The remarriage of widows is allowed, and a younger brother may marry the widow of his elder brother. Divorce is permitted, and divorcées may remarry.

The dead are usually buried, but those who die from snake-bite are said to be burnt. Death pollution lasts [455]for three days, during which the caste occupation of cultivating is not carried on. An annual ceremony is performed by each family in honour of the dead. A fowl or goat is killed, a portion of the day’s food collected in a plate, and placed on the roof of the house. Once in twenty years or so, all the castemen join together, and buy a pig or cow, which is sacrificed in honour of the ancestors.

The caste goddess is Jākara Dēvata, who is propitiated with sacrifices of pigs, sheep, and buffaloes. When the crop is gathered in, the first fruits are offered to her, and then partaken of.

The caste headman is called Nāyudu or Sāmanthi, and he is assisted by the Janni, or caste priest, who officiates at ceremonials, and summons council meetings.

The caste titles are Dora, Naiko, and Sāmanto.

Jātikīrtulu.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a class of beggars in the Cuddapah district. The name means those who praise the caste, and may have reference to the Bhatrāzus.

Jāti Pillai (children of the caste).—A general name for beggars, who are attached to particular castes, from the members of which they receive alms, and at whose ceremonies they take part by carrying flags in processions, etc. It is their duty to uphold the dignity of the caste by reciting the story of its origin, and singing its praises. As examples of Jāti Pillais, the following may be cited:—

  • Mailāri attached to Kōmatis.
  • Vīramushti attached to Bēri Chettis and Kōmatis.
  • Nōkkan attached to Pallis.
  • Māstiga attached to Mādigas.


It is recorded by Mr. M. Paupa Rao Naidu27 that some Koravas, who go by the name of Jātipalli Koravas, “are prevalent in the southern districts of the Madras Presidency, moving always in gangs, and giving much trouble. Their women tattoo in return for grain, money, or cloths, and help their men in getting acquainted with the nature and contents of the houses.”

Jaura.—The Jauras are a small Oriya caste, closely allied to the Khodūras, the members of which manufacture lac (jau) bangles and other articles. Lac, it may be noted, is largely used in India for the manufacture of bangles, rings, beads, and other trinkets worn as ornaments by women of the poorer classes. Dhippo (light) and mohiro (peacock) occur as common exogamous septs among the Jauras, and are objects of reverence. The Jauras are mainly Saivites, and Sūramangala and Bimmala are the caste deities. Titles used by members of the caste are Dansē, Sāhu, Dhōv, and Mahapātro.

Javvādi (civet-cat).—An exogamous sept of Mēdara.

Jelakuppa (a fish).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Jēn (honey).—A sub-division of Kurumba.

Jenna.—A title of Oriya castes, e.g., Bolāsi and Kālinji.

Jerribōtula (centipedes).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Jetti.—A Telugu caste of professional wrestlers and gymnasts, who, in the Telugu districts, shampoo and rub in ointments to cure nerve pains and other disorders. In Tanjore, though living in a Tamil environment, they speak Telugu. They wear the sacred thread, and consider themselves to be of superior caste, never descending to any degrading work. During the days [457]of the Rājas of Tanjore, they were employed in guarding the treasury and jewel rooms. But, since the death of the late Rāja, most of them have emigrated to Mysore and other Native States, a few only remaining in Tanjore, and residing in the fort.

The Jettis, in Mysore, are said28 to have been sometimes employed as executioners, and to have despatched their victim by a twist of the neck.29 Thus, in the last war against Tīpu Sultān, General Matthews had his head wrung from his body by the “tiger fangs of the Jetties, a set of slaves trained up to gratify their master with their infernal species of dexterity.”30

They are still considered skilful in setting dislocated joints. In a note regarding them in the early part of the last century, Wilks writes as follows. “These persons constitute a distinct caste, trained from their infancy in daily exercises for the express purpose of exhibitions; and perhaps the whole world does not produce more perfect forms than those which are exhibited at these interesting but cruel sports. The combatants, clad in a single garment of light orange-coloured drawers extending half-way down the thigh, have their right arm furnished with a weapon, which, for want of a more appropriate term, we shall name a cæstus, although different from the Roman instruments of that name. It is composed of buffalo horn, fitted to the hand, and pointed with four knobs, resembling very sharp knuckles, and corresponding to their situation, with a fifth of greater prominence at the end nearest the little finger, and at right angles with the other four. This instrument, properly placed, would enable a man [458]of ordinary strength to cleave open the head of his adversary at a blow; but, the fingers being introduced through the weapon, it is fastened across them at an equal distance between the first and second lower joints, in a situation, it will be observed, which does not admit of attempting a severe blow, without the risk of dislocating the first joints of all the fingers. Thus armed, and adorned with garlands of flowers, the successive pairs of combatants, previously matched by the masters of the feast, are led into the arena; their names and abodes are proclaimed; and, after making their prostrations, first to the Rāja seated on his ivory throne, and then to the lattices behind which the ladies of the court are seated, they proceed to the combat, first divesting themselves of the garlands, and strewing the flowers gracefully over the arena. The combat is a mixture of wrestling and boxing, if the latter may be so named. The head is the exclusive object permitted to be struck. Before the end of the contest, both of the combatants may frequently be observed streaming with blood from the crown of the head down to the sand of the arena. When victory seems to have declared itself, or the contest is too severely maintained, the moderators in attendance on the Rāja make a signal for its cessation by throwing down turbans and robes, to be presented to the combatants. The victor frequently goes off the arena in four or five somersaults, to denote that he retires fresh from the contest. The Jettis are divided into five classes, and the ordinary price of victory is promotion to a higher class. There are distinct rewards for the first class, and in their old age they are promoted to be masters of the feast.”

In an account of sports held before Tīpu Sultān at Seringapatam, James Scurry, who was one of his [459]prisoners, writes as follows.31 “The getiees would be sent for, who always approached with their masters at their head, and, after prostration, and making their grand salams, touching the ground each time, they would be paired, one school against another. They had on their right hands the wood-guamootie (wajramushti) of four steel talons, which were fixed to each back joint of their fingers, and had a terrific appearance when their fists were closed. Their heads were close shaved, their bodies oiled, and they wore only a pair of short drawers. On being matched, and the signal given from Tippu, they begin the combat, always by throwing the flowers, which they wear round their necks, in each other’s faces; watching an opportunity of striking with the right hand, on which they wore this mischievous weapon which never failed lacerating the flesh, and drawing blood most copiously. Some pairs would close instantly, and no matter which was under, for the gripe was the whole; they were in general taught to suit their holds to their opponent’s body, with every part of which, as far as concerned them, they were well acquainted. If one got a hold against which his antagonist could not guard, he would be the conqueror; they would frequently break each other’s legs and arms; and, if anyway tardy, Tippu had means of infusing spirit into them, for there were always two stout fellows behind each, with instruments in their hands that would soon put them to work. They were obliged to fight as long as Tippu pleased, unless completely crippled, and, if they behaved well, they were generally rewarded with a turban and shawl, the quality being according to their merit.” [460]

The Jettis of Mysore still have in their possession knuckle-dusters of the type described above, and take part annually in matches during the Dasara festival. A Jetti police constable, whom I saw at Channapatna, had wrestled at Baroda, and at the court of Nepal, and narrated to me with pride how a wrestler came from Madras to Bangalore, and challenged any one to a match. A Jetti engaged to meet him in two matches for Rs. 500 each, and, after going in for a short course of training, walked round him in each encounter, and won the money easily.

The Mysore Jettis are said to be called, in some places, Mushtigas. And some are stated to use a jargon called Mallabāsha.32

Jetti further occurs as the name of an exogamous sept of the Kavarais.

Jew.—It has been said by a recent writer that “there is hardly a more curious, and in some respects one might almost say a more weird sight than the Jew town, which lies beyond the British Settlement at Cochin. Crossing over the lagoon from the beautiful little island of Bolghotty, where the British Residency for the Cochin State nestles in a bower of tropical vegetation, one lands amidst cocoanut trees, opposite to one of the old palaces of the Cochin Rājahs, and, passing through a native bazaar crowded with dark-skinned Malayālis, one turns off abruptly into a long narrow street, where faces as white as those of any northern European race, but Semitic in every feature, transport one suddenly in mind to the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, or rather perhaps to some ghetto in a Polish city.” [461]

In the preparation of the following note, I have been much indebted to the Cochin Census Report, 1901, and to a series of articles published by Mr. Elkan N. Adler in the Jewish Chronicle.33

The circumstances under which, and the time when the Jews migrated to the Malabar Coast, are wrapped in obscurity. They themselves are able to give accounts of only isolated incidents, since whatever records they had were lost at the destruction by the Portuguese of their original settlement at Cranganūr in 1565, and by the destruction at a later period of such fragments as remained in their possession in the struggle between the Portuguese and the Dutch, for the Portuguese, suspecting that the Jews had helped the Dutch, plundered their synagogue in Cochin.

It is recorded by the Dutch Governor Moens34 that “when Heer van Goens besieged Cochin, the Jews were quite eager to provide the troops of the Dutch Company with victuals, and to afford them all the assistance they could, hoping that they would enjoy under this Company the greatest possible civil and religious liberty; but, when the above-mentioned troops were compelled to leave this coast before the end of the good monsoon, without having been able to take Cochin, the Portuguese did not fail to make the Jews feel the terrible consequences of their revenge. For, no sooner had the Dutch retreated, than a detachment of soldiers was sent to the Jewish quarters, which were pillaged and set fire to, whilst the inhabitants fled to the high-lands, and returned only after Cochin was taken by the Dutch. [462]

“The Jews, who still hold that the Malabar Israelites were in possession of an old copy of the Sepher Thora, say that this copy, and all other documents, got lost on the occasion when the Portuguese destroyed the Jewish quarters, but this is not likely. For, whereas they had time to save their most valuable property according to their own testimony, and to take it to the mountains, they would not have failed to take along with them these documents, which were to them of inestimable value. For it is related that for a new copy of the Pentateuch which at that time was in their synagogue they had so much respect, and took such great care of it, that they even secured this copy, and took it along, and (when they returned) carried it back with great rejoicing, as it was done in olden times with the Ark of the Covenant.”

Writing in the eighteenth century, Captain Hamilton states35 that the Jews “have a synagogue at Cochin, not far from the King’s Palace, in which are carefully kept their Records, engraven on copper plates in Hebrew characters; and when any of the characters decay, they are new cut, so that they can show their own History from the Reign of Nebuchadnezzar to this present time. Myn Heer Van Reeda, about the year 1695, had an Abstract of their History translated from the Hebrew into low Dutch. They declare themselves to be of the Tribe of Manasseh, a Part whereof was, by order of that haughty Conqueror Nebuchadnezzar, carried to the easternmost Province of his large Empire, which, it seems, reached as far as Cape Comerin, which journey 200,000 of them travelled in three years from their setting out of Babylon.” [463]

The elders of the White Jews of Cochin have in their possession a charter on two copper plates in Vatteluttu character, “the original character which once prevailed over nearly all the Tamil country and south-west coast, but which has long ceased to be used in the former place, and, in the latter, is now only known in a later form, used for drawing up documents by Hindu Rājas.”36 Concerning this copper-plate charter, Mr. Adler writes that “the white Jews say that they have always held it; the black Jews contend that it was originally theirs. The title-deed is quaint in many ways. It consists of three strips of copper, one of which is blank, one etched on both sides, and the third on one side only. The characters are made legible by being rubbed with whitening. The copper plates have a round hole in the corner, through which a string was passed to tie them together under seal, but the seal is lost. They are now kept together by a thin and narrow copper band, which just fits.”

Taking Dr. Gundert’s37 and Mr. Ellis’38 translation of the charter as guides, Mr. Burnell translates it as follows:—39

Svastī Sri.—The king of kings has ordered (This is) the act of grace ordered by His Majesty Srî Pârkaran Iravi Vanmar40 wielding the sceptre and reigning in a hundred thousand places, (in) the year (which is) the opposite to the second year, the thirty-sixth year, (on) the day he designed to abide in Mûyirikkôdu.41 [464]We have given to Isuppu Irabbân42 Ansuvannam (as a principality), and seventy-two proprietary rights (appertaining to the dignity of a feudal lord) also tribute by reverence (?) and offerings, and the profits of Ansuvannam, and day-lamps, and broad garments (as opposed to the custom of Malabar), and palankins, and umbrellas, and large drums, and trumpets, and small drums and garlands, and garlands across streets, etc., and the like, and seventy-two free houses. Moreover, we have granted by this document on copper that he shall not pay the taxes paid by the houses of the city into the royal treasury, and the (above-said) privileges to hold (them). To Isuppu Irabbân, prince of Ansuvannam, and to his descendants, his sons and daughters, and to his nephews, and to (the nephews) of his daughters in natural succession, Ansuvannam (is) an hereditary estate, as long as the world and moon exist. Srî. The charter is witnessed by various local chiefs.

A somewhat different reading is given by Dr. G. Oppert43 who renders the translation as follows:—

“Hail and happiness! The King of Kings, His Holiness Srî Bhaskara Ravi Varma, who wields the sceptre in many hundred thousand places, has made this decree on the day that he was pleased to dwell in Muyirikodu in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. We have granted unto Joseph Rabban Anjavannan the [dignity of] Prince, with all the seventy-two rights of ownership. He shall [enjoy] the revenues from female elephants and riding animals, and the income of Anjavannan. He is entitled to be honoured by lamps by day, and to use broad-cloth and sedan chairs, [465]and the umbrella and the drums of the north and trumpets, and little drums, and gates, and garlands over the streets, and wreaths, and so on. We have granted unto him the land tax and weight tax. Moreover, we have by these copper tablets sanctioned that, when the houses of the city have to pay taxes to the palace, he need not pay, and he shall enjoy other privileges like unto these. To Joseph Rabbān, the prince of Anjavannam, and to his descendants, and to his sons and daughters, and to the nephews and sons-in-law of his daughters, in natural succession, so long as the world and moon exist, Anjuvannam shall be his hereditary possession.” It is suggested by Dr. Oppert that Anjuvannam is identical with the fifth or foreign caste.

Dr. E. Hultzsch, the latest authority on the subject of the copper plates, gives the following translation:44 “Hail! Prosperity! (The following) gift (prasāda) was graciously made by him who had assumed the title ‘King of Kings’ (Kōgōn), His Majesty (tiruvadi) the King (kō), the glorious Bhāskara Ravivarman, in the time during which (he) was wielding the sceptre and ruling over many hundred thousands of places, in the thirty-sixth year after the second year, on the day on which (he) was pleased to stay at Muyirikkōdu. We have given to Īssuppu Irappān (the village of) Anjuvannam, together with the seventy-two proprietary rights (viz.), the tolls on female elephants and other riding-animals, the revenue of Anjuvannam, a lamp in day-time, a cloth spread (in front to walk on), a palanquin, a parasol, a Vaduga (i.e., Telugu?) drum, a large trumpet, a gateway, an arch, a canopy (in the shape) of an arch, [466]a garland, and so forth. We have remitted tolls and the tax on balances. Moreover, we have granted with (these) copper-leaves that he need not pay (the dues) which the (other) inhabitants of the city pay to the royal palace (kōyil), and that (he) may enjoy (the benefits) which (they) enjoy. To Īssuppu Irappān of Anjuvannam, to the male children and to the female children born of him, to his nephews, and to the sons-in-law who have married (his) daughters (we have given) Anjuvannam (as) an hereditary estate for as long as the world and the moon shall exist. Hail! Thus do I know, Gōvardhana-Mārtāndan of Vēnādu. Thus do I know, Kōdai Srīkanthan of Vēnāpalinādu. Thus do I know, Mānavēpala-Mānavyan of Erālanādu. Thus do I know, Īrāyiram of Valluvanādu. Thus do I know, Kōdai Ravi of Nedumpuraiyūrnādu. Thus do I know, Mūrkham Sāttan, who holds the office of sub-commander of the forces. The writing of the Under-Secretary Van—Talaisēri—Gandan Kunrappōlan.”

“The date of the inscription,” Dr. Hultzsch adds, “was the thirty-sixth year opposite to the second year. As I have shown on a previous occasion,45 the meaning of this mysterious phrase is probably ‘the thirty-sixth year (of the king’s coronation, which took place) after the second year (of the king’s yauvarājya).’ The inscription records a grant which the king made to Īssuppu Irappān, i.e., Joseph Rabbān. The occurrence of this Semitic name, combined with the two facts that the plates are still with the Cochin Jews, and that the latter possess a Hebrew translation of the document, proves that the donee was a member of the ancient Jewish colony on the western coast. The grant was made at Muriyikkōdu. [467]The Hebrew translation identifies this place with Kodunnallūr (Cranganore), where the Jewish colonists resided, until the bad treatment which they received at the hands of the Portuguese induced them to settle near Cochin. The object of the grant was Anjuvannam. This word means ‘the five castes,’ and may have the designation of that quarter of Cranganore, in which the five classes of Artisans—Ain-Kammālar, as they are called in the smaller Kōttayam grant—resided.”

In a note on the Kōttayam plate of Vīra Rāghava, which is in the possession of the Syrian Christians, Rai Bahadur V. Venkayya writes as follows.46 “Vīra-Rāghava conferred the title of Manigrāmam on the merchant Iravikkorran. Similarly Anjuvannam was bestowed by the Cochin plates on the Jew Joseph Rabbān. The old Malayālam work Payyanūr Pattōla, which Dr. Gundert considered the oldest specimen of Malayālam composition, refers to Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam. The context in which the two names occur in this work implies that they were trading institutions. In the Kōttayam plates of Sthānu Ravi, both Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam are frequently mentioned. Both of them were appointed along with the six hundred to be ‘the protectors’ of the grant. They were ‘to preserve the proceeds of the customs duty as they were collected day by day,’ and ‘to receive the landlord’s portion of the rent on land. If any injustice be done to them, they may withhold the customs and the tax on balances, and remedy themselves the injury done to them. Should they themselves commit a crime, they are themselves to have the investigation of it.’ To Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam was granted the freehold of the lands of [468]the town (of Kollam?). From these extracts, and from the reference in the Payyanūr Pattōla, it appears that Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam were semi-independent trading corporations. The epithet Setti (merchant) given to Ravikkorran, the trade rights granted to him, and the sources of revenue thrown open to him as head of Manigrāmam, confirm the view that the latter was a trading corporation. There is nothing either in the Cochin grant, or in the subjoined inscription to show that Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam were, as believed by Dr. Gundert and others, Jewish and Christian principalities, respectively. It was supposed by Dr. Burnell that the plate of Vīra-Rāghava created the principality of Manigrāmam, and the Cochin plates that of Anjuvannam, and that, consequently, the existence of these two grants is presupposed by the plates of Sthānu Ravi, which mention both Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam very often. The Cochin plates did not create Anjuvannam, but conferred the honours and privileges connected therewith to a Jew named Joseph Rabbān. Similarly, the rights and honours associated with the other corporation, Manigrāmam, was bestowed at a later period on Ravikkorran. Therefore, Anjuvannam and Manigrāmam must have existed as institutions even before the earliest of these three copper-plates was issued. It is just possible that Ravikkorran was a Christian by religion. But his name and title give no clue in this direction, and there is nothing Christian in the document, except its possession by the present owners.”

It is recorded by Mr. Francis Day47 that Governor Moens obtained three different translations of the plates, [469]and gave as the most correct version one, in which the following words occur:—“We, Erawi, Wanwara, Emperor of Malabar ... give this deed of rights to the good Joseph Rabbān, that he may use the five colours, spread his religion among the five castes.” Mr. Burnell, however, notes that Dr. Gundert has ascertained beyond doubt that Anjuvannan (literally five colours) does not mean some privilege, but is the name of a place.

Concerning the copper-plates, Governor Moens writes thus. “The following translation is by the Jewish merchant Ezechiel Rabby, who was an earnest explorer of anything that had any connection with his nation. After this I will give another translation, which I got from our second interpreter Barend Deventer, who was assisted by an old and literary inhabitant of Malabar; and lastly I will add a third one, which I obtained from our first interpreter Simon of Tongeren, assisted by a heathen scribe of Calicut, in order thus not to allow the Jews to be the judges in their own affair, but rather to enable the reader to judge for himself in this doubtful matter. The first translation runs thus:—

“By the help of God, who created the universe and appoints the kings, and whom I honour, I, Erawi Wanwara, Emperor of Malabar, grant in the 36th year of our happy reign at the court of Moydiricotta—alias Cranganore—this Act of Privileges to the Jew Josep Rabaan, viz., that he may make use of the five colours, spread his religion among the five castes or dynasties, fire salutes on all solemnities, ride on elephants and horses, hold stately processions, make use of cries of honour, and in the day-time of torches, different musical instruments, besides a big drum; that he may walk on roads spread with white linen, hold tournaments with [470]sticks, and sit under a stately curtain. These privileges we give to Josep Rabaan and to the 72 households, provided that the others of this nation must obey the orders of his and their descendants so long as the sun shall shine on the earth. This Act is granted in the presence of the Kings of Trevancore, Tekkenkore, Baddenkenkore, Calicoilan, Aringut, Sammoryn, Palcatchery, and Colastry; written by the secretary Calembi Kelapen in the year 3481 Kalijogam.

“‘The second translation differs in important statements from the first, and would deserve more attention when neutral people of Malabar could be found, who could testify to the credibility of the same; but, notwithstanding the trouble I have taken to find such persons, it has been hitherto in vain. The second translation runs thus:—

“‘In the quiet and happy time of our reign, we, Erawi Wanwara, imitator of (successor to ?) the sceptres, which for many hundreds of thousands of years have reigned in justice and righteousness, the glorious footsteps of whom we follow, now in the second year of our reign, being the 36th year of our residence in the town of Moydiricotta, grant hereby, on the obtained good testimony of the great experience of Joseph Rabaan, that the said person is allowed to wear long dresses of five colours, that he may use carriages together with their appurtenances, and fans which are used by the nobility. He shall have precedence to the five castes, be allowed to burn day-lamps, to walk on spread out linen, to make use of palanquins, Payeng umbrellas, large bent trumpets, drums, staff, and covered seats. We give him charge over the 72 families and their temples, which are found both here and elsewhere, and we renounce our rights on all taxes and duties on both houses. He shall [471]everywhere be allowed to have lodgings. All these privileges and prerogatives, explained in this charter, we grant to Joseph Rabaan head of the five castes, and to his heirs, sons, daughters, children’s children, the sons-in-law married to the daughters, together with their descendants, as long as the sun and moon shall shine; and we grant him also all power over the five castes, as long as the names of their descendants shall last. Witnesses hereof are the Head of the country of Wenaddo named Comaraten Matandden; the head of the country of Wenaaodea named Codei Cheri-canden; the Head of the country of Erala named Mana Bepalamaan; the Head of the country Walonaddo named Trawaren Chaten; the Head of the country Neduwalur named Codei Trawi; besides the first of the lesser rulers of territories of the part of Cusupady Pawagan, namely the heir of Murkom Chaten named Kelokandan; written by the secretary named Gunawendda Wanasen Nayr, Kisapa Kelapa; signed by the Emperor.

“‘The third translation runs as follows:—

“‘In the name of the Most High God, who created the whole world after His own pleasure, and maintains justice and righteousness, I, Erwij Barman, raise my hands, and thank His Majesty for his grace and blessing bestowed on my reign in Cranganore, when residing in the fortress of Muricotta. I have granted for good reasons to my minister Joseph Raban the following privileges; that he may wear five coloured cloths, long dresses, and hang on the shoulders certain cloths; that they may cheer together, make use of drums and tambourines, burn lights during the day, spread cloths on the roads, use palanquins, umbrellas, trumpet torches, burning torches, sit under a throne (?), and act as Head of all the Jews numbering seventy-two houses, who will [472]have to pay him the tolls and taxes of the country, no matter in what part of the country they are living; these privileges I give to Joseph Raban and his descendants, be they males or females, as long as any one of them is alive, and the sun and moon shine on the earth; for this reason I have the same engraved on a copper-plate as an everlasting remembrance. Witnesses are the Kings of Travancore, Berkenkore, Sammorin, Arangolla, Palcatchery, Collastry, and Corambenaddo; written by the secretary Kellapen.

“‘The aforesaid copper-plate is written in the old broken Northern Tamil language, but with different kinds of characters, viz., Sanskrit and Tamil, and is now read and translated by a heathen scribe named Callutil Atsja, who was born at Calicut, and who, during the war, fled from that place, and stays at present on the hills.

“‘When these translations are compared with one another, it will be observed at once that, in the first, the privileges are granted to the Jew Joseph Rabban, and to the 72 Jewish families, whereas, in the second, no trace is found of the word Jew; and Joseph Rabban is, in the third, not called a Jew, but the minister of the king, although he may be taken for a Jew from the context in the course of the translation, for he is there appointed as Head of all the other Jews to the number of 72 houses. It is equally certain that the name of Rabaan is not exclusively proper to the Jews only. Furthermore, the first and last translations grant the above-mentioned privileges not only to Joseph Rabaan, but also to the 72 Jewish families, whereas, according to the second translation, the same are given to Joseph Rabaan, his family and offspring only. The second translation, besides, does not at all mention the freedom granted, and the consent to spread the Jewish religion among [473]the five castes. Thus, it is obvious that these three translations do not agree, that the first and third coincide more with each other than they do with the second; that, for that reason, the first and last translations deserve more to be believed than the second, which stands alone; but that this, for that very reason, does not prove what it, properly speaking, ought to prove, and, whereas I am not acquainted with the Malabar language, I prefer to refrain from giving my opinion on the subject. For hitherto I have been unable to come across, either among the people of Malabar and Canara, or among the literary priests and natives, any one who was clever enough to translate these old characters for the fourth time, notwithstanding the fact that I had sent a copy of these characters to the north and south of Cochin, in order to have them deciphered.

“‘The witnesses who were present at the granting of this charter differ also. The first and third translations, however, seem also to concur more with each other than with the second one. But the discrepancy of the second translation lies in this, that in it not the personal names of the witnesses are recorded, but only their offices or dignities, in which they officiated at that time; whereas the mistake in the first and third translations consists herein, that the witnesses are called kings, and more so of those places by which names these places were called some time after and subsequently when times had changed, and by which names they are still known. The second translation, however, calls them merely heads of the countries, in the same manner as they were known at the time of the Emperor, when these heads were not as yet kings, because these heads bore the title of king and ruler only after the well-known division of the Malabar Empire into four chief kingdoms, [474]and several smaller kingdoms and principalities. It must be admitted, however, that the head of the country of Cochin is, in the first and third translations, not mentioned by that name, although the kingdom of Cochin is in reality one of the four chief kingdoms of Malabar. I add this here for elucidation, in order that one should not wonder, when reading this charter, that inferior heads of countries and districts of the Malabar Empire could be called kings, because the Empire being at that time not as yet divided, they were not kings. It seems, therefore, to have been a free translation, of which the translators of the first and third translations have made use, and which has been pointed out in the second translation.

“‘The other statements of this charter, especially the authority over the five castes, must be explained according to the ancient times, customs, and habits of the people of Malabar, and need not be taken into consideration here. Whether this charter has in reality been granted to the Jews or not, it is certain that not at any time has a Jew had great authority over his co-religionists, and still less over the so-called five castes. Moreover, the property of the Jews has never been free from taxes, notwithstanding the fact that the kings to whom they were subject appointed as a rule as heads of the Jews men of their own nationality. They were known by the name of Moodiliars, who had no other authority than to dispose of small civil disputes, and to impose small fines of money.

“‘There is, however, a peculiarity, which deserves to be mentioned. Although, in the charter, some privileges are granted, which were also given to other people, yet to no one was it ever permitted to fire three salutes at the break of day, or on the day of a marriage [475]feast of one who entered upon the marriage state, without a previous request and special permission. This was always reserved, even to the present day, to the kings of Cochin only. Yet up to now it was always allowed to the Jews without asking first. And it is known that the native kings do not easily allow another to share in outward ceremonies, which they reserve for themselves. If, therefore, the Jews would have arrogated to themselves this privilege without high authority, the kings of Cochin would put a stop to this privilege of this nation, whose residences are situated next to the Cochin palace, but for this reason, I suppose, dare not do so.’”

Various authorities have attempted to fix approximately the date of the copper-plate charter. Mr. Burnell gives 700 A.D. as its probable date. The Rev. G. Milne Rae, accepting the date as fixed by Mr. Burnell, argues that the Jews must have received the grant a few generations after the settlement, and draws the conclusion that they might have settled in the country some time about the sixth century A.D. Dr. J. Wilson, in a lecture48 on the Beni-Israels of Bombay, adopts the sixth century of the Christian era as the probable date of the arrival of the Beni-Israels in Bombay, about which time also, he is inclined to think, the Cochin Jews came to India, for their first copper-plate charter seems to belong to this period. There is no tradition among the Jews of Cochin that they and the Beni-Israels emigrated to the shores of India from the same spot or at the same time, and the absence of any social intercourse between the Beni-Israels and the Cochin Jews seems to go against this theory. In one of the translations of the charter obtained by the Dutch [476]Governor Moens, the following words appear: “Written by the Secretary Calembi Kelapoor, in the year 3481 of the Kali-yuga (i.e., 379 A.D.).” This date does not appear, however, in the translations of Gundert, Ellis, Burnell and Oppert. The charter was given in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of the donor Bhaskara Ravi Varma. And, as all, except the last of the foreign Viceroys of Kērala, are said to have been elected for twelve years only, Cherumān Perumāl, reputed to be the last of Perumāls, who under exceptional circumstances had his term extended, according to Malabar tradition, to thirty-six years, may be identical with Bhaskara Ravi Varma, who, Mr. Day says, reigned till 378 A.D. Mr. C. M. Whish gives a still earlier date, for he fixes 231 A.D. as the probable date of the grant. In connection with the claim to the antiquity of the settlement of the Jews in Malabar, it is set forth in the Cochin Census Report that they “are supposed to have first come in contact with a Dravidian people as early as the time of Solomon about B.C. 1000, for ‘philology proves that the precious cargoes of Solomon’s merchant ships came from the ancient coast of Malabar.’ It is possible that such visits were frequent enough in the years that followed. But the actual settlement of the Jews on the Malabar coast might not have taken place until long afterwards. Mr. Logan, in the Manual of Malabar, writes that ‘the Jews have traditions, which carry back their arrival on the coast to the time of their escape from servitude under Cyrus in the sixth century B.C.,’ and the same fact is referred to by Sir W. Hunter in his ‘History of British India.’ This eminent historian, in his ‘Indian Empire’ speaks of Jewish settlements in Malabar long before the second century A.D. A Roman merchant ship, that sailed regularly from Myos Hormuz [477]on the Red Sea to Arabia, Ceylon, and Malabar, is reported to have found a Jewish colony in Malabar in the second century A.D. In regard to the settlement of the Jews in Malabar, Mr. Whish observes that ‘the Jews themselves say that Mar Thomas, the apostle, arrived in India in the year of our Lord 52, and themselves, the Jews, in the year 69.’ In view of the commercial intercourse between the Jews and the people of the Malabar coast long before the Christian era, it seems highly probable that Christianity but followed in the wake of Judaism. The above facts seem to justify the conclusion that the Jews must have settled in Malabar at least as early as the first century A.D.”

At Cochin the Jews enjoyed full privileges of citizenship, and were able to preserve the best part of their religious and civil liberty, and to remain here for centuries unseen, unknown, and unsearched by their persecutors. But, in the sixteenth century, they fell victims by turns to the oppression of fanatical Moors and over-zealous Christians. “In 1524, the Mahomedans made an onslaught on the Cranganūr Jews, slew a great number, and drove out the rest to a village to the east; but, when they attacked the Christians, the Nayars of the place retaliated, and in turn drove all the Mahomedans out of Cranganūr. The Portuguese enlarged and strengthened their Cranganūr fort, and compelled the Jews finally to desert their ancient settlement of Anjuvannam.” Thus, with the appearance of a powerful Christian nation on the scene, the Jews experienced the terrors of a new exile and a new dispersion, the desolation of Cranganūr being likened by them to the desolation of Jerusalem in miniature. Some of them were driven to villages adjoining their ruined principality, while others seem to have taken shelter in Cochin and [478]Ernākulam. “Cranganore,” Mr. Adler writes, “was captured by the Mahomedan Sheikh or Zamorin in 1524, and razed to the ground. The Rajah Daniel seems to have previously sent his brother David to Europe to negotiate with the Pope and the Portuguese for an offensive and defensive alliance against the Zamorin. Anyhow, a mysterious stranger, who called himself David Rubbeni, appeared in Rome in March, 1524, and, producing credentials from the Portuguese authorities in India and Egypt, was received with much honour by the Pope, King John of Portugal, and the Emperor Charles the Fifth in turn. After some years he fell a victim to the inquisition, but his failure and non-return to India are more easily explained by the fact that he was too late, and that the State he represented was no longer existent, than by the cheap assumption of all our historians, including Graetz, that he was an impostor with a cock-and-bull story. Whether the famous diary of David Rubbeni is genuine or not is less certain. But I have elsewhere sought to re-establish this long-discredited ambassador, and here limit myself to drawing attention to his name, which seems to have been David Rabbani. To this day David is one of the commonest names among the Cochin Jews, as well as the B’nei Israel, and Rabbani is the name of the ruling family under the copper grant. Its alteration into Rubeni was due to sixteenth century interest in the lost ten tribes, and a consequent desire of identifying the Royal family as sprung from Reuben, the first-born of Israel. Reuben, too, is a favourite name among the B’nei Israel. With the destruction of their capital, the Jews left and migrated, though to no great distance. Within 20 miles south of Cranganore are four other places, all on the Cochin back-water, where the Black [479]Jews still have synagogues. Parūr, Chennan Mangalam, and Māla have each one synagogue, Ernākulam has two, and Cochin three, of which one belongs to the White Jews. The Parūr Jews have also the ruins of another synagogue marked by a Ner Tamid, which they say existed 400 years ago, when there were eighteen Botē Midrash (schools) and 500 Jewish houses. This tradition further confirms the importance of Cranganore before 1524. With the advent of the Dutch, better times ensued for the Jews. The Dutch were bitter foes of the Portuguese and their inquisition, and friends of their enemies. Naturally the Jews were on the side of the Dutch, and, as naturally, had to suffer for their temerity. In 1662 the Dutch attacked the Rānee’s palace at Mattāncheri and besieged the adjoining town of Cochin, but had to retire before Portuguese reinforcements. The Portuguese therefore burnt the synagogue adjoining the palace, because they suspected the Jews, no doubt with justice, of having favoured the Dutch. In the following year, however, ‘the Dutch renewed their attack on Cochin, this time with complete success. The port and town fell into their hands, and with it fell the Portuguese power in India. By a series of treaties, Cochin and Holland became close allies, and the Dutch settlement became firmly established in Cochin.’ The Dutch helped the White Jews to rebuild their synagogue. The Dutch clock is still the pride of Cochin Jewry.”

It is well known that the Cochin Jews are generally divided into two classes, the White and the Black. Writing in the early part of the eighteenth century,49 Baldæus states that “in and about the City of Cochin, [480]lived formerly some Jews, who even now have a synagogue allow’d them without the Fortifications; they are neither White nor Brown, but quite black. The Portuguese Histories mention that at a certain time certain blasphemous papers against our Saviour, with some severe reflections against the Jesuit Gonsalvus Pereira (who afterwards suffer’d Martyrdom at Monopatapa) being found in a box set in the Great Church for the gathering of Alms; and the same being supposed to be laid there by some European Jews, who now and then used to resort thither privately, this gave occasion to introduce the Inquisition into Goa.” It is noted by the Rev. J. H. Lord50 that “Jacob Saphir, a Jewish traveller, who visited his co-religionists in Cochin in recent years, having described some of the Jews resident there as black, hastens to tone down his words, and adds, they are not black like the raven, or as the Nubians, but only as the appearance of copper. But Hagim Jacob Ha Cohen, another modern Jewish traveller, chastizing the latter for calling them black at all, declares that he will write of this class everywhere as the non-white, and never anywhere (God forbid!) as the Black.” The Black Jews claim to have been the earliest settlers, while the White Jews came later. But the latter assert that the former are pure natives converted to the Jewish faith. These two difficult, yet important, issues of priority of settlement and purity of race have divided antiquarians and historians quite as much as they have estranged the two classes of Jews themselves from one another. According to the Rev. C. Buchanan,51 the White Jews dwelling in Jews’ town in Mattāncheri are later settlers than the Black Jews. They had only [481]the Bible written on parchment, and of modern appearance, in their synagogue, but he managed to get from the Black Jews much older manuscripts written on parchment, goat’s skin, and cotton paper. He says that “it is only necessary to look at their countenances to be satisfied that their ancestors must have arrived in India many years before the White Jews. Their Hindu complexion, and their very imperfect resemblance to the European Jews, indicate that they had been detached from the parent stocks in Judea many ages before the Jews in the West, and that there have been marriages with families not Israelitish.” The Rev. J. Hough observes52 that the Black Jews “appear so much like the natives of India, that it is difficult at first sight to distinguish them from the Hindu. By a little closer observation, however, the Jewish contour of their countenances cannot be mistaken.” In the lecture already referred to, Dr. Wilson states that “their family names, such as David Castile (David the Castilian) go to prove that they (the White Jews) are descended of the Jews of Spain, probably of those driven from that country in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and of German and Egyptian Jews. The real ancient Jews of Cochin are the Black Jews’ descendants, we believe, of Judea-Arabians and Indian proselytes. Some rather obscure references to the Jews of Cochin and Quilon are made by Benjamin of Tudela, who returned to Spain from his eastern voyage in 1173. He found no White Jews in India. Speaking of those in the pepper country near Chulam (Quilon), he says that all the cities and countries inhabited by these people contain only about 100 Jews (members of the synagogue), who are of black [482]colour as well as the other inhabitants.” Referring to Jan Linschoten’s ‘Itinerary,’ published in Holland in 1596, Mr. Adler observes that “the Jews who interested our traveller were the ‘rich merchants and of the king of Cochin’s nearest counsellers, who are most white of colour like men of Europe, and have many fair women. There are many of them that came of the country Palestine and Jerusalem thither, and spoke over all the exchange verie perfect and good Spanish.’ This directly confirms the view that the White Jews were new comers from foreign lands. Their knowledge of Spanish is now quite a thing of the past, but it proves that they were Sephardim.”

In regard to the claim of the White Jews to being the only genuine Jews, it may be of interest to record the opinion of a Jew, Rabbi David D’Beth Hithel, who travelled in Cochin in 1832. He says that “the White Jews say of them (the Black Jews) that they are descendants of numerous slaves who were purchased and converted to Judaism, set free and carefully instructed by a rich White Jew some centuries ago. At his cost, they say, were all their old synagogues erected. The Black Jews believe themselves to be the descendants of the first captivity, who were brought to India, and did not return with the Israelites who built the second temple. This account I am inclined to believe correct. Though called Black Jews—they are of somewhat darker complexion than the White Jews—yet they are not of the colour of the natives of the country, or of persons descended from Indian slaves.” This passage bears reference to a tradition current among the Black Jews that they are the descendants of the Jews who were driven out of the land of Israel thirteen years before the destruction of the first temple built by Solomon. They [483]are said to have first come to Calicut, whence they emigrated to Cranganūr.

“The White Jews,” Mr. Adler writes, “claiming that they, and they alone, are the true descendants of the aboriginal Jews of Cranganūr, retain the copper tablets in their possession, and boast that, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Rājah of Cochin invested the head of the Hallegua family with the hereditary title of Mudaliar or Noble [and a wand with a silver knob as a sign of his dignity], with the power of punishing certain crimes. The males of that family still bear the title, but their feudal rights have been abrogated. Nowadays the number of White Jews has dwindled to less than 200, so that it was easy to procure a list of all their names. From the foreign origin of their surnames (Kindel, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Koder, Roby, Sassoon), as well as for other reasons, it seems certain that the White Jews are late comers, who did not settle in India till after the destruction of Cranganūr. They were traders, who came to Cochin; they prospered under the rule of the Dutch, and built their synagogue and quarter after the Black Jews were already established there. Though, now, they hold themselves jealously aloof from the Black Jews, they were at first quite intimate and friendly. The Indian environment has had the opposite effect to that which England has had upon our Ashkenazim and our no longer exclusive Sephardim. In India caste is varna, which means colour, and their difference in colour has produced caste distinctions among the Indian Jews. But, although the White Jews are fair, some of them are certainly not quite white, nor are the Black Jews quite black. Some of the ‘Black’ Jews are hardly distinguishable from their ‘White’ brethren. Their customs, [484]ritual, and religious observances are the same. Their synagogues are so alike that it needs some keenness of eyesight to detect that two pictures are not of the identical building. The only great (?) difference is that the White Jews have theirs tiled with rare old blue tiles, over which newspaper correspondents wax eloquent. They say the tiles are old Dutch, but really they are genuine Chinese [blue and white Canton China],53 whereby hangs a tale. The synagogue was built nearly 200 years ago in a corner of the Rājah’s palace-yard. At that time, the Dutch were in possession of what is now British Cochin, and they were the only people trading with China. The Rājah, through his allies the Dutch, had imported a large quantity of the best China tiles to pave his Darbar hall, but the Jews, says Mr. Thurston, thought they would just do for the synagogue they were building, so they told the Rājah that he could not possibly use them, inasmuch as bullock’s blood had been employed in their manufacture. His Highness, much perturbed at the indignity to so sacred an animal, bade them take the tiles away, and never let him see them again. Hence their presence in the synagogue. The other synagogue has tiles also, but they are of gleaming white.” The synagogues, it may be added, are square whitewashed buildings, surmounted by a bell-tower. It is said that the Kadyabagan synagogue of the Black Jews is admitted by the White Jews to be the oldest at present existing, having been built in the 12th century.

It is recorded by Governor Moens that “in the Jewish quarters (situated) next to the palace of the king of Cochin at Cochin de Sima there are two synagogues, [485]viz., one for the White Jews, and the other for the Black Jews. The latter have readers of their own tribe, who hold the services, but, when a White Rabbi comes to their synagogue, the honour of conducting the service must be given to him.”

“The dates,” the Rev. J. H. Lord writes, “of the synagogues of the Black Jews altogether antedate those of the White. Thus, the date on the mural slab of the now disused and dilapidated Cochin Angadi synagogue is A.D. 1344 = 563 years ago. That of the Kadavambagom synagogue in Cochin is A.D. 1639, or = 268 years ago. That of the Cochin Theckumbagom synagogue is A.D. 1586, or = 321 years ago; while that of the synagogue of the White Jews is A.D. 1666 or = 241 years ago. Hence the institutions of the Black Jews are the more ancient. The tomb-stone dates of the Black Jews are also far more ancient than those of the White Jews. The earliest date of any tomb-stone of the Black Jews is six hundred years old.”

It is further noted by the Rev. J. H. Lord that “the Black Jews are still the ones who make use of the privileges granted in the copper-plate charter. They still carry a silk umbrella, and lamps lit at day-time, when proceeding to their synagogue on the 8th day after birth of sons. They spread a cloth on the ground, and place ornaments of leaves across the road on occasions when their brides and bridegrooms go to get married, and use then cadanans (mortars which are charged with gunpowder, and fired), and trumpets. After the wedding is over, four silk sunshades, each supported on four poles, are borne, with lamps burning in front, as the bridal party goes home. The Black Jews say that the White Jews use none of these, and never have done so. The White Jews aver that they were accustomed [486]formerly to use such privileges, but have discontinued them.”

There is record of disputes between the White and Black Jews for as early a time as that of the Dutch settlement, or even earlier. Jealousy and strife between the two sections on matters of intermarriage and equal privileges seem to have existed even during the time of the Portuguese. Canter Visscher, in his ‘Letters from Malabar,’54 refers to these party feelings. “The blacks,” he writes, “have a dark coloured Rabbi, who must stand back if a white one enters, and must resign to him the honour of performing the divine service in the synagogue. On the other hand, when the black Rabbis enter the synagogue of Whites, they must only be hearers. There has lately been a great dispute between the two races; the Black wishing to compel the White Jewesses to keep their heads uncovered, like their own women, and trying to persuade the Rājah to enforce such a rule. The dispute ended, however, with permission given to every one, both men and women, to wear what they chose.”

More than once, Jewish Rabbis have been appealed to on the subject of racial purity, and they have on all occasions upheld the claims of a section of the Black Jews to being Jews, and the White Jews have as often repudiated such decisions, and questioned their validity. The weight of authority, and the evidence of local facts, seem to militate against the contention of the White Jews that the Black Jews do not belong to the Israelitish community, but are the descendants of emancipated slaves and half castes. The White Jews appear to have maintained the purity of their race by declining [487]intermarriage with the Black Jews. It must be admitted that, in the earlier centuries, the original settlers purchased numerous slaves, who have since then followed the religion of their masters. It is recorded by Stavorinus55 that “when these Jews purchase a slave, they immediately manumit him; they circumcise him and receive him as their fellow Israelite, and never treat him as a slave.” It is noted by Canter Visscher56 that “the Jews make no objection to selling their slaves who are not of their own religion to other nations, obliging them, however, when sold, to abandon the use of the Jewish cap, which they had before worn on their heads. But slaves, male or female, once fully admitted into their religion by the performance of the customary rites, can never be sold to a stranger.” The Jews are said to have had former fugitive connections with the women of these converts, and brought into existence a mixed race of Dravidians and Semitics. It would be uncharitable to infer from this that all the Black Jews are the descendants of converted slaves or half-castes, as it would be unreasonable to suppose that all of them are the descendants of the original settlers. It is noted by Mr. Adler that “the Rev. J. H. Lord quotes an interesting pronouncement on the racial purity of the Black Jews of Malabar made by Haham Bashi of Jerusalem in 1892. The Rabbi is said to have referred to the Maharikash (R. Jacob Castro, of Alexandria), whose responsum in 1610 confirmed the ‘Jichus’ or the ‘Mejuchasim’ and decided likewise. He is even said to have allowed one of his relatives to marry a Brown Jew! Nowadays, the White Jews hold aloof from the larger community, black or brown, and profess to be of another caste altogether. But one of the most intelligent of [488]their number, who took us round the synagogues, professed to think such exclusiveness exaggerated and unfair, and admitted that their own grandfathers had lived with Black Jewesses in a more or less binding marital relation, and it is abundantly clear that, till recently, the Black and White Jews were quite friendly, and the very fact of the White Jews holding the title-deeds merely proves that they were trusted by the true owners to keep them for safe custody, as they were richer and possessed safes. In an article in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes,’57 Pierre Loti, writing of the Black Jews, says that “le rabbin me fait d’ameres doléances sur la fierté des rivaux de la rue proche, qui ne veulent jamais consentir à contracter marriage, ni même à frayer avec ses paroissiens. Et, pour comble, me dit-il, le grand rabbin de Jérusalem, à qui on avait adressé une plainte collective, le priant d’intervenir, s’est contenté d’émettre, en réponse, cette généralité plutôt offensante: Pour nicher ensemble, il faut être des moineaux de même plumage.”

In recent years, a distinction appears to have grown up among the Black Jews, so that they now want to be distinguished as Brown Jews and Black Jews, the former claiming to be Meyookhasim or genuine Jews. In this connection, Mr. Adler writes that “the Black Jews are themselves divided into two classes, the Black Jews proper, who are darker, and have no surnames, and the noble, who have family names and legitimate descent, and claim to be the true descendants of the Cranganūr or Singili Jews.”

The White Jews are generally known by the name of Paradēsis (foreigners). This designation is found in [489]some of the Sirkar (State) accounts, and also in a few Theetoorams or Royal writs granted to them. It is argued that they must have been so called at first to distinguish them from the more ancient Israelites. The existence for centuries of three small colonies of Black Jews at Chēnnamangalam and Māla in the Cochin State, and Parūr in Travancore, at a distance of five or six miles from Cranganūr, shows that they must have sought refuge in those places on being hard pressed by the Moors and the Portuguese. There are no White Jews in any of these stations, nor can they point to any vested interests in the tracts about Cranganūr, the most ancient Jewish settlement in the State.

The Jews wear a long tunic of rich colour, a waistcoat buttoned up to the neck, and full white trousers. They go about wearing a skull cap, and put on a turban when they go to the synagogue. The Black Jews dress more or less like the native Mahomedans. Many of them put on shirts, and have skull caps like the Jōnaka Māppilas. They generally wear coloured cloths. The Jews invariably use wooden sandals. These, and their locks brought down in front of the ears, distinguish them from other sections of the population. The Jewesses always wear coloured cloths. Hebrew is still the liturgical language, and is studied as a classic by a few, but the home language is Malayālam. The White Jews celebrate their marriages on Sundays, but the Black Jews still retain the ancient custom of celebrating them on Tuesdays after sunset. Though polygamy is not prohibited, monogamy is the rule. The males generally marry at the age of 20, while the marriageable age for girls is 14 or 15. Marriages are generally celebrated on a grand scale. The festivities continue for seven days [490]in the case of the White Jews, and for fifteen days among the Black Jews, who still make use of some of the ancient privileges granted by the charter of Chēramān Perumāl. The Jews of all sections have adopted a few Hindu customs. Thus, before going to the synagogue for marriage, a tāli (marriage badge) is tied round the bride’s neck by some near female relative of the bridegroom (generally his sister) in imitation of the Hindu custom, amidst the joyful shouts (kurava) of women. Divorce is not effected by a civil tribunal. Marriages are dissolved by the making good the amount mentioned in the kethuba or marriage document. In regard to their funerals, the corpse is washed, but not anointed, and is deposited in the burial-ground, which is called Beth Haim, the house of the living.

Like their brethren in other parts of the world, the Cochin Jews observe the Sabbath feasts and fasts blended intimately with their religion, and practice the rite of circumcision on the eighth day, when the child is also named. The Passover is celebrated by the distribution of unleavened bread, but no kid is killed, nor is blood sprinkled upon the door-post and lintel. The other feasts are the feast of Pentecost, feast of Trumpets, and feast of Tabernacles. The day of atonement, and the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem, are observed as fasts. On the day of atonement, the Jews pray in the synagogue from 5 A.M. till 7 P.M. The Jewish fasts commence from 5 P.M. on the day previous to the fast, and end at 7 P.M. next day. Their days begin and end with sunset. The feast of Tabernacles is observed with more pomp and ceremony than other feasts. A pandal, or temporary shed, with a flat roof, covered over with plaited leaves of the cocoanut palm, and decorated with festoons, is put up in the court-yard of, or near [491]every house, beneath which the inmates of the house assemble and take their meals. On the last day of the feast, a large can filled with oil is lit up in front of the synagogue. On that day, the congregation assembles in the synagogue. Persons of both sexes and of all ages meet in the house of prayer, which is gorgeously decorated for the occasion. On this day, when the books are taken outside the synagogue by the male congregation, the females, who are seated in the gallery, come into the synagogue, and, when the books are taken back, they return to their gallery.

The genuine Jews are, as indicated, known as M’yukhasim (those of lineage or aristocracy), while converts from the low castes are called non-M’yukhasim. According to the opinion of Jewish Rabbis, Tabila, or the holy Rabbinical bath, removes the social disabilities of the latter. Those who have had recourse to this bath are free to marry genuine Jews, but respect for caste, or racial prejudice, has invariably stood in the way of such marriages being contracted.

From a recent note (1907), I gather that “the Jews, realising that higher and more advanced education is needed, have bestirred themselves, and are earnestly endeavouring to establish an institution which will bring their education up to the lower secondary standard. The proposed school will be open to both the White and Black Jews. In order to place the school on a good financial basis, one of the leading Jews, Mr. S. Koder, approached the Anglo-Jewish Association for aid, and that Society has readily agreed to provide a sum of £150 a year for the upkeep of the school. Generous, however, as this offer is, it is found that the amount is insufficient to cover the expenditure; so the Jews are going to raise a public subscription amongst themselves, and they also [492]intend to apply to the Cochin Darbar for a grant under the Educational Code.”58

I was present at the Convocation of the Madras University in 1903, when the Chancellor conferred the degree of Bachelor of Arts on the first Jew who had passed the examination.

According to the Cochin Census, 1901, there were 180 White, and 957 Black Jews.

Jhodia.—A sub-division of Poroja.

Jhoria.—A sub-division of Gaudo.

Jīlaga (pith).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Jilakara (cumin seeds: Cuminum cyminum). An exogamous sept of Balija and Togata.

Jīnigar.—“There are,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,59 “a few members of this caste, chiefly in the Chendragiri taluk, whose ordinary occupation it now is to paint pictures. They were, however, once, it is said, artificers, and the account given of them is as follows. They were originally Rāzus from the Northern Circars, who, coming to the Chendragiri Rāja for employment, were set to watch members of the Kammāla caste who served the Rāja, in order to prevent idleness or fraud. After some time, the Kammālans finished an idol’s car, and, being inflated with pride, demanded to be allowed to sit in it before the swāmi was himself placed there. For their arrogance they were expelled, and the Rāzus, having by observation learnt something of their craft, discharged their duties to the community. Under the Nabobs they abandoned this walk of life, and took to saddlery, whence came their name from jīni a saddle, and now they are merely muchis.” [493]

Mr. W. Francis informs us60 that “in Bellary wood-carving is done by Jīnigāras, who have taught the art to some Muhammadans, who are now often more skilful than their teachers. Two of them made a teak doorway, carved in the Chālukyan style, which obtained a medal at the Arts Exhibition at the Delhi Darbar, and is now in the Madras Museum.”

At Nandyāl in the Kurnool district, I recently saw a Jīnigar, who makes “lacquer” (gesso) fans, trays, large circular table tops, etc., and paintings of Hindu deities and mythological subjects. He made a number of panels used in the dado of Lady Curzon’s boudoir at the circuit house, Delhi. A medal was awarded to him for his gesso ware at the Delhi Exhibition, but it was, in colouring, inferior to that of the collection which was sent to the Indo-Colonial Exhibition in 1886. The “lacquer” ware of Kurnool has been said to be perhaps the finest Indian gesso work produced anywhere. The work turned out at Mandasa in Ganjam is much bolder, and suitable for decoration on a large scale. A similar method of decoration was formerly largely used in Saracenic architectural decoration of interiors in various countries. The patterns of the Kurnool ware are floral, and in slight relief, and the colours are very bright with much gilding. At Nossam, in Ganjam, leather dishmats are painted with pictures of deities and floral designs. Native circular playing-cards, and fans made of palmyra leaves or paper and cloth “lacquered” and painted in brilliant colours, are also made here.

In the Nellore district, the Jīniga-vāndlu make toys, pictures, and models in paper and pith. At Trichinopoly, very elaborate and accurate models of the [494]great Hindu temples, artificial flowers, bullock coaches, etc., are made of the pith of sōla (Æschynomene aspera), which is also used in the construction of sōla topis (sun-hats). The Madras Museum possesses a very quaint pith model of the Rāja of Tanjore in darbar, with performing wrestlers and Dēva-dāsis, made many years ago.

Jinka.—(Indian gazelle, Gazella bennetti).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālē. The equivalent Jinkala is a sept of Bōya.

Jīra.—In the Bellary district, a Lingāyat who sells flowers calls himself a Jīra, and his caste Jīra kula.

Jīrige (cumin: Cuminum cyminum).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba, and gōtra of Kurni.

Jivāla (an insect).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Jōgi.—The Jōgis, who are a caste of Telugu mendicants, are summed up by Mr. H. A. Stuart61 as being “like the Dāsaris, itinerant jugglers and beggars. They are divided into those who sell beads, and those who keep pigs. They are dexterous snake-charmers, and pretend to a profound knowledge of charms and medicine. They are very filthy in their habits. They have no restrictions regarding food, may eat in the house of any Sūdra, and allow widows to live in concubinage, only exacting a small money penalty, and prohibiting her from washing herself with turmeric-water.” In addition to begging and pig-breeding, the Jōgis are employed in the cultivation of land, in the destruction of pariah dogs, scavenging, robbery and dacoity. Some of the women, called Killekyāta, are professional tattooers. The Jōgis wander about the country, taking with them (sometimes on donkeys) the [495]materials for their rude huts. The packs of the donkeys are, Mr. F. S. Mullaly informs us,62 “used as receptacles for storing cloths obtained in predatory excursions. Jōgis encamp on the outskirts of villages, usually on a plain or dry bed of a tank. Their huts or gudisays are made of palmyra leaves (or sedge) plaited with five strands forming an arch.” The huts are completely open in front.

Jōgi mendicant.

Jōgi mendicant.

In the Tamil country, the Jōgis are called Dhoddiyan or Tottiyan (q.v.), and those who are employed as scavengers are known as Koravas or Oddans. The scavengers do not mix with the rest of the community. Some Jōgis assert that they have to live by begging in consequence of a curse brought on them by Parvati, concerning whose breasts one of their ancestors made some indiscreet remarks. They consider themselves superior to Mālas and Mādigas, but an Oddan (navvy caste) will not eat in the house of a Jōgi. They are said to eat crocodiles, field rats, and cats. There is a tradition that a Jōgi bridegroom, before tying the bottu (marriage badge) on his bride’s neck, had to tie it by means of a string dyed with turmeric round the neck of a female cat. People sometimes object to the catching of cats by Jōgis for food, as the detachment of a single hair from the body of a cat is considered a heinous offence. To overcome the objection, the Jōgi says that he wants the animal for a marriage ceremony. On one occasion, I saw a Mādiga carrying home a bag full of kittens, which, he said, he was going to eat.

The Jōgi mendicants go about, clad in a dirty loin-cloth (often red in colour) and a strip of cloth over the shoulders, with cobras, pythons, or rat snakes in baskets, [496]and carrying a bag slung over the shoulder. The contents of one of these bags, which was examined, were fruits of Mimusops hexandra and flower-spikes of Lippia nodiflora (used for medicine), a snake-charming reed instrument, a piece of cuttle-fish shell, porcupine quills (sold to goldsmiths for brushes), a cocoanut shell containing a powder, narrikombu (spurious jackals’ horns) such as are also manufactured by Kuruvikārans, and two pieces of wood supposed to be an antidote for snake-poisoning. The women go about the streets, decorated with bangles and necklaces of beads, sharks’ vertebræ, and cowry shells, bawling out “Subbamma, Lachchamma,” etc., and will not move on till alms are given to them. They carry a capacious gourd, which serves as a convenient receptacle for stolen articles.

Like other Telugu castes, the Jōgis have exogamous septs or intipēru, of which the following are examples:—

  • Vagiti, court-yard.
  • Uluvala, horse-gram.
  • Jalli, tassels of palmyra leaves put round the necks of bulls.
  • Vavati (relationship).
  • Gundra, round.
  • Bindhollu, brass water-pot.
  • Cheruku, sugar-cane.
  • Chappadi, insipid.
  • Boda Dāsiri, bald-headed mendicant.
  • Gudi, temple.

At the Mysore census, 1901, Killekyāta, Helava, Jangaliga, and Pākanāti were returned as being Jōgis. A few individuals returned gōtras, such as Vrishabha, Kāverimatha, and Khedrumakula. At the Madras census, Siddaru, and Pāmula (snake) were returned as sub-castes. Pāmula is applied as a synonym for Jōgi, inasmuch as snake-charming is one of their occupations.

The women of the caste are said to be depraved, and prostitution is common. As a proof of chastity, the ordeal of drinking a potful of cow-dung water or chilly-water has to be undergone. If a man, proved guilty of [497]adultery, pleads inability to pay the fine, he has to walk a furlong with a mill-stone on his head.

At the betrothal ceremony, a small sum of money and a pig are given to the bride’s party. The pig is killed, and a feast held, with much consumption of liquor. Some of the features of the marriage ceremony are worthy of notice. The kankanams, or threads which are tied by the maternal uncles to the wrists of the bride and bridegroom, are made of human hair, and to them are attached leaves of Alangium lamarckii and Strychnos Nux-vomica. When the bridegroom and his party proceed to the bride’s hut for the ceremony of tying the bottu (marriage badge), they are stopped by a rope or bamboo screen, which is held by the relations of the bride and others. After a short struggle, money is paid to the men who hold the rope or screen, and the ceremonial is proceeded with. The rope is called vallepu thadu or relationship rope, and is made to imply legitimate connection. The bottu, consisting of a string of black beads, is tied round the bride’s neck, the bride and bridegroom sometimes sitting on a pestle and mortar. Rice is thrown over them, and they are carried on the shoulders of their maternal uncles beneath the marriage pandal (booth). As with the Oddēs and Upparavas, there is a saying that a Jōgi widow may mount the marriage dais (i.e., remarry) seven times.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is put in a hut made by her brother or husband, which is thatched with twigs of Eugenia Jambolana, margosa (Melia Azadirachta), mango (Mangifera Indica), and Vitex Negundo. On the last day of the pollution ceremony the girl’s clothes and the hut are burnt.

The dead are always buried. The corpse is carried to the burial-place, wrapped up in a cloth. Before it is [498]lowered into the grave, all present throw rice over the eyes, and a man of a different sept to the deceased places four annas in the mouth. Within the grave the head is turned on one side, and a cavity scooped out, in which various articles of food are placed. Though the body is not burnt, fire is carried to the grave by the son. Among the Jalli-vallu, a chicken and small quantity of salt are placed in the armpit of the corpse. On the karmāndhiram, or day of the final death ceremonies, cooked rice, vegetables, fruit, and arrack are offered to the deceased. A cloth is spread near the grave, and the son, and other agnates, place food thereon, while naming, one after the other, their deceased ancestors. The food is eaten by Jōgis of septs other than the Jalli-vallu, who throw it into water. If septs other than the Jalli were to do this, they would be fined. Those assembled proceed to a tank or river, and make an effigy in mud, by the side of which an earthen lamp is placed. After the offering of cooked rice, etc., the lamp and effigy are thrown into the water. A man who is celebrating his wife’s death-rites then has his waist-thread cut by another widower while bathing.

The Jōgis worship Peddavādu, Malalamma, Gangamma, Ayyavāru, Rudramma, and Madura Vīrudu.

Some women wear, in addition to the marriage bottu, a special bottu in honour of one of their gods. This is placed before the god and worn by the eldest female of a family, passing on at her death to the next eldest.

As regards the criminal propensities of the Jōgis, Mr. Mullaly writes as follows.63 “On an excursion being agreed upon by members of a Joghi gang, others of the fraternity encamped in the vicinity are consulted. [499]In some isolated spot a nīm tree (Melia Azadirachta) is chosen as a meeting place. Here the preliminaries are settled, and their god Perumal is invoked. They set out in bands of from twelve to fifteen, armed with stout bamboo sticks. Scantily clad, and with their heads muffled up, they await the arrival of the carts passing their place of hiding. In twos and threes they attack the carts, which are usually driven off the road, and not unfrequently upset, and the travellers are made to give all they possess. The property is then given to the headman of the gang for safe-keeping, and he secretes it in the vicinity of his hut, and sets about the disposal of it. Their receivers are to be found among the ‘respectable’ oil-mongers of 11 villages in the vicinity of their encampments, while property not disposed of locally is taken to Madras. Readmission to caste after conviction, when imprisonment is involved, is an easy matter. A feed and drink at the expense of the ‘unfortunate,’ generally defrayed from the share of property which is kept by his more fortunate kinsfolk, are all that is necessary, except the ceremony common to other classes of having the tongue slightly burnt by a piece of hot gold. This is always performed by the Jangam (headman) of the gang. The boys of the class are employed by their elders in stealing grain stored at kalams (threshing-floors), and, as opportunity offers, by slitting grain bags loaded in carts.”

Jōgi.—A sub-division of Kudubi.

Jōgi Gurukkal.See Yōgi Gurukkal.

Jōgi Purusha.—The Purushas or Jōgi Purushas seem to have come into existence in recent times, and to be divided into two distinct classes, one of which has crystallised into a caste, while the other merely follows a cult practiced by several other castes. Those in South [500]Canara, who speak Marāthi and Tulu, say that they form a caste, which will not admit members of other castes into its ranks. There is a head mutt (religious institution) at Kadiri, with subordinate mutts at Halori and Bhuvarasu, all in South Canara. The Jōgi Purushas are disciples of one or other of these mutts. Their special deity is Bairava, but some regard Gorakshanāth as their god. They are initiated into the Bairava cult by their priest. They may lead either a celibate or married life. The celibates should have a hole bored in the middle of the ear, and wear therein a ring of rhinoceros horn or china-clay. Those who wish to lead a married life need not have a hole in the ear, but, at the time of their initiation, a piece of clay is pressed over the spot where the hole should be. All Jōgi Purushas who have become the disciples of a guru (spiritual instructor) of their cult ought to have a brass, copper, or silver pipe, called singanātha, tied on a thread round the neck. Before taking their meals, they are expected to pray to Bairava, and blow the pipe.

The Jōgi Purushas follow the Makkalakattu system of inheritance (in the male line), and, for their marriage ceremonies, engage a Karādi Brāhman. The dead are buried in a sitting posture. The bojja, or final death ceremony, is usually performed on the twelfth day, and a Brāhman priest officiates thereat. The ceremony consists in offering food to the crows, making presents to Brāhmans, and undergoing purificatory rites for the removal of death pollution. If the deceased has been initiated into the Bairava cult, pūja (worship) must be done at the grave every alternate day from the third day till the bojja day.

Some Jōgi Purushas are professional mendicants, while others work as coolies, peons, etc. [501]

Jōnagan.—Jōnagan is given, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as the name applied to “Musalman traders of partly Hindu parentage. The word is from the Tamil Sōnagan, which means Arabia, and is not strictly the name of any Musalman tribe, but is a loose term applied by the Tamils to Musalmans of mixed descent.” In the Gazetteer of South Arcot, Mr. Francis says that “the term Jōnagan or Sōnagan, meaning a native of Sōnagan or Arabia, is applied by Hindus to both Labbais and Marakkāyars, but it is usually held to have a contemptuous flavour.” According to another version, Jōnagan is applied to sea-fishermen and boatmen, and the more prosperous traders are called Marakkāyars. In a note on the Māppillas of Malabar, Mr. Padmanabha Menon writes that “the Muhammadans generally go by the name of Jōnaga Māppillas. Jōnaka is believed to stand for Yavanaka, i.e., Greek.”

Jōti (light).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Jōtinagara.—Jōtinagara (people of the city of light) and Jōtipana are high sounding synonyms of the Canarese oil-pressing Gānigas, who express illuminant oils from seeds. In like manner, the Tamil oil-pressing Vāniyans are known as Jōtinagarattār and Tiru-vilakku Nagarattār (dwellers in the city of holy lamps).

Juda Māppilla.—A name by which the Cochin Jews are known.

Julāha.—A few members of this Muhammadan class of weavers have been returned at times of census.

Jungu (cock’s-comb).—A gōtra of Kurni. [502]

1 Malabar Quart. Review, IV, 3, 1905. See also T. C. Rice. Jain Settlements in Karnata. Ibid., III, 4, 1904.

2 On the Indian Sect of the Jainas. Translation by J. Burgess, 1903.

3 The earlier Tīrthankaras are believed to have been of prodigious proportions, and to have lived fabulously long lives, but the later ones were of more ordinary stature and longevity.

4 Inscriptions at Srāvana Belagola. Archæological Survey of Mysore, 1889.

5 History of Indian and Eastern Architecture.

6 Annual Report on Epigraphy, Madras, 1900–1901.

7 The inscriptions on the three Jaina Colossi of Southern India have been published by Dr. Hultzsch in Epigraphia Indica, VII, 1902–1903.

8 Ind. Ant., V, 1876.

9 Ind. Ant., XXV, 220, sq., 1896.

10 Op. cit.

11 Loc. cit.

12 Manual of the North Arcot district.

13 Notes from a Diary, 1881–86.

14 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

15 Local oral tradition gives his name as Dupāla Kistnappa Nāyak.

16 Also known as Jaina Tirupati.

17 Gazetteer of the Madura district.

18 Ibid.

19 N. Sunkuni Wariar. Ind. Ant., XXI, 1892.

20 Madras Census Report, 1901; Nellore Manual.

21 Telugu Dictionary.

22 Madras Census Report, 1901.

23 Manual of the North Arcot district.

24 Travels into East India and Arabia deserta, 1665.

25 Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom.

26 Logan, Manual of Malabar, which contains full details concerning Janmis.

27 History of Korawars, Erukalas, or Kaikaries. Madras, 1905.

28 Rice, Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.

29 Narrative Sketches of the Conquest of Mysore, 1800.

30 Wilks’ Historical Sketches: Mysore, 1810–17.

31 The captivity, sufferings, and escape of James Scurry, 1824.

32 Manual of the Bellary district.

33 May 11th, June 1st and 29th, 1906.

34 For the translations from the Dutch I am indebted to the kindness of the Rev. P. Grote.

35 A new account of the East Indies, 1744.

36 A. C. Burnell, Ind. Ant. III, 1874.

37 Madras Journ. Lit. Science, XIII, Part I.

38 Ibid., Part II.

39 Loc. cit.

40 Bhâskara-Ravi-Varmâ.

41 This is explained in the Hebrew version by Cranganore, and Muyiri is, no doubt, the original of the Mouziris of Ptolemy and the Periplus of the Red Sea. It is (according to local tradition) the part where the Travancore lines end, opposite to Cranganore but across the back-water.

42 I.e., Yusuf Rabbân.

43 Ueber die Jüdischen Colonien in Indien. Kohut Memorial Volume, Semitic Studies, Berlin, 1897.

44 Epigraphia Indica, III, 1894–95.

45 Ind. Ant., XX, 1891.

46 Epigraphia Indica, IV, 1896–97.

47 The Land of the Permauls, or Cochin, its past and its present, 1863.

48 Ind. Ant., III, 1874.

49 A Description of ye East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, 1703.

50 The Jews in India and the Far East, 1907.

51 Christian Researches in India, 1840.

52 History of Christianity in India, I, 470–71, 1839.

53 J. Splinter Stavorinus. Voyages to the East Indies, 1774–78.

54 Edition by Major Heber Drury, 1862. Letter XVIII.

55 Op. cit.

56 Loc. cit.

57 July, 1902.

58 Madras Mail, 1907.

59 Manual of the North Arcot district.

60 Gazetteer of the Bellary district.

61 Manual of the North Arcot district.

62 Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

63 Op. cit.

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