- 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 IV—K to M
Government Press, Madras

List of Illustrations.

I. Kota temple.
II. Kuruba Biradēvaru Temple
III. Kuruba dolmen-like graves.
IV. Kurumba.
V. Kurumbas.
VI. Kurumba.
VII. Kurumba village.
VIII. Kurumba cave.
IX. Kurumba (Shōla Naiker).
X. Kusavans.
XI. Aiyanar temple.
XII. Lambādis.
XIII. Linga Banajiga with lingam on head.
XIV. Linga Banajiga with lingam on chest.
XV. Lingāyat.
XVI. Linga Banajiga.
XVII. Linga Banajiga.
XVIII. Jangam.
XIX. Jangam.
XX. Jangam.
XXI. Buffalo sacrifice. Head with foot in the mouth.
XXII. Mādiga bridal pair.
XXIII. Malayan devil-dancer.
XXIV. Malayan devil-dancer with fowl in mouth.
XXV. Malayan devil-dancers.
XXVI. Māpilla Mosque.
XXVII. Sorcery figure, Malabar.


Castes and Tribes of Southern India.

Volume IV.


K (Continued)

Kōri (blanket).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Kōriannayya (fowl sept).—An exogamous sept of Bant.

Korono.—Karnam, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,1 “includes both Karnam proper, and also Korono, the accountant caste of Ganjam and Orissa. The following remarks relate solely to the Uriya Koronos. The word Korono is said to be derived from kirāni, which means a writer or clerk. The origin of the Koronos is uncertain. One writer says that they are Kāyasts of Northern India, who are of Kshatriya origin. Mr. R. C. Dutt says, in his History of Ancient India, that, according to Manu, the Koronos belong to the Kshatriya Vratyas, who do not perform the religious rites. And, in the Raghuvamsa, the poet Kālidāsa describes Koronos as the offspring of a Vaisya and a Sūdra woman, and he is supported by the lexicographer Amara Sinha. It is said that the ancestors of the Koronos were brought from Northern India by Yayātikēsari, King of Orissa (447—526 A.D.), to supply the want of writers and clerks in certain parts of Orissa. The Koronos are worshippers of Vishnu. Their ceremonies are performed with the aid of Brāhman priests. The remarriage of widows is not permitted. They eat [2]fish, and the flesh of goats and deer. The Uriya Koronos observe the gōsha system, and carry it to such an extent that, after a girl attains puberty, she is not allowed to appear before her elder brother. Their titles are Patnaik and Mahanti.”

The heads of the Ganjam villages are, Mr. S. P. Rice informs us, “called Korono, the doer, and Karji, the manager. The Korono, who is really only the accountant, but who, by reason of his higher education, is generally the ultimate authority in the village, appropriates to himself the title Potonaiko, as his caste distinction. The word signifies the Naik or head of the town.” It has been noted that “in the Telugu districts, the Karnam is usually a Brāhman. Being in some respects the most intelligent, and the most unpopular man in the village, he is both feared and hated. Murders of accountants, though infrequent, are not unknown.” Of proverbs relating to Karnams, the following may be quoted:—

Even if a thousand pagodas are levied from a village, not even a cash will be levied from the Karnam (a pagoda is a gold, and a cash a copper coin).

The Karnam is the cause of the Kāpu’s (cultivator caste) death.

The hungry Karnam looks into his old accounts (to worry his creditors).

The co-operation of the Karnam is as necessary as the axles to the wheels of a cart.

One Karnam to one village.

A quiet Karnam is as little cared for as a tame elephant.

If a Karnam trusts another, his end is near.

If an enemy is his neighbour; if another Karnam is his superior; if the Kāpu bears complaints against him, a Karnam cannot live on.


The Koronos are divided into various sections, e.g., Sishta or Srishti, Vaisya, Majjula, and Matihansa, some of which wear the sacred thread. The Vaisyas are not allowed to marry their girls after puberty, whereas the others may marry them before or after this event. A woman of the Bhōndari caste is employed on the occasion of marriage and other ceremonies, to perform certain duties, for which her services are indispensable.

Korra (millet: Setaria italica).—An exogamous sept of Gūdala.

Korti.—An occupational name, derived from korto, a saw, of woodsawyers in Ganjam.

Kōsalya.—A sub-division of Māli, named after Kōsala, the modern Oudh.

Kōshti.—Kōshti or Kōshta is the name of a weaving and cultivating caste of Chota Nagpur, a few members of which have settled in the Madras Presidency (see Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal). Kōshta is also the name by which the Khatris of Conjeeveram call the Patnūlkāran silk weavers.

Kota.—According to Dr. Oppert2 “it seems probable that the Todas and Kotas lived near each other before the settlement of the latter on the Nilagiri. Their dialects betray a great resemblance. According to a tradition of theirs (the Kotas), they lived formerly on Kollimallai, a mountain in Mysore. It is wrong to connect the name of the Kotas with cow-slaying, and to derive it from the Sanskrit gō-hatyā (cow-killer). The derivation of the term Kota is, as clearly indicated, from the Gauda-dravidian word ko (ku) mountain, and the Kotas belong to the Gandian branch.” There is a [4]tradition that the Kotas were formerly one with the Todas, with whom they tended the herds of buffaloes in common. But, on one occasion, they were found to be eating the flesh of a buffalo which had died, and the Todas drove them out as being eaters of carrion. A native report before me suggests that “it is probable that, after the migration of the Kotas to the hills, anthropology was at work, and they got into them an admixture of Toda blood.”

The Kotas inhabit seven villages (Kōtagiri or kōkāl), of which six—Kotagiri, Kīl Kotagiri, Todanād, Sholūr, Kethi and Kūnda—are on the Nīlgiri plateau, and one is at Gudalūr at the north-west base of these hills. They form compact communities, and, at Kotagiri, their village consists of detached huts, and rows of huts arranged in streets. The huts are built of mud, brick, or stone, roofed with thatch or tiles, and divided into living and sleeping apartments. The floor is raised above the ground, and there is a verandah in front with a seat on each side whereon the Kota loves to “take his siesta, and smoke his cheroot in the shade,” or sleep off the effects of a drinking bout. The door-posts of some of the huts are ornamented with carving executed by wood-carvers in the plains. A few of the huts, and one of the forges at Kotagiri, have stone pillars sculptured with fishes, lotuses, and floral embellishments by stone-carvers from the low country. It is noted by Breeks3 that Kurguli (Sholūr) is the oldest of the Kota villages, and that the Badagas believe that the Kotas of this village were made by the Todas. At Kurguli there is a temple of the same form as the Toda dairy, and this is said to be the only temple of the kind at any Kota village. [5]

The Kotas speak a mixture of Tamil and Kanarese, and speak Tamil without the foreign accent which is noticeable in the case of the Badagas and Todas. According to orthodox Kota views, a settlement should consist of three streets or kēris, in one of which the Terkāran or Dēvādi, and in the other two the Munthakannāns or Pūjāris live. At Kotagiri the three streets are named Kīlkēri, Nadukēri, and Mēlkēri, or lower, central, and upper street. People belonging to the same kēri may not intermarry, as they are supposed to belong to the same family, and intermarriage would be distasteful. The following examples of marriage between members of different kēris are recorded in my notes:—

Husband. Wife.
Kīlkēri. Nadukēri.
Kīlkēri. Mēlkēri.
Nadukēri. Mēlkēri.
Mēlkēri. Nādukēri.
Nadukēri. First wife Kīlkēri, second wife Mēlkēri.

The Kota settlement at Shōlūr is divided into four kēris, viz.:—amrēri, kikēri, korakēri, and akkēri, or near street, lower street, other street, and that street, which resolve themselves into two exogamous groups. Of these, amrēri and kikēri constitute one group, and korakēri and akkēri the other.

On the day following my arrival at Kotagiri, a deputation of Kotas waited on me, which included a very old man bearing a certificate appointing him headman of the community in recognition of his services and good character, and a confirmed drunkard with a grog-blossom nose, who attributed the inordinate size thereof to the acrid juice of a tree, which he was felling, dropping on it. The besetting vice of the Kotas of Kotagiri is a partiality for drink, and they congregate [6]together towards dusk in the arrack shop and beer tavern in the bazar, whence they stagger or are helped home in a state of noisy and turbulent intoxication. It has been said4 that the Kotas “actually court venereal disease, and a young man who has not suffered from this before he is of a certain age is looked upon as a disgrace.”

The Kotas are looked down on as being unclean feeders, and eaters of carrion; a custom which is to them no more filthy than that of eating game when it is high, or using the same tooth-brush week after week, is to a European. They have been described as a very carnivorous race, who “have a great craving for flesh, and will devour animal food of every kind without any squeamish scruples as to how the animal came by its death. The carcase of a bullock which has died of disease, or the remains of a deer half devoured by a tiger, are equally acceptable to him.” An unappetising sight, which may be witnessed on roads leading to a Kota village, is that of a Kota carrying the flesh of a dead buffalo, often in an advanced stage of putridity, slung on a stick across his shoulders, with the entrails trailing on the ground. Colonel Ross King narrates5 how he once saw a Kota carrying home a dead rat, thrown out of a stable a day or two previously. When I repeated this story to my Kota informant, he glared at me, and bluntly remarked in Tamil “The book tells lies.” Despite its unpleasant nature, the carrion diet evidently agrees with the Kotas, who are a sturdy set of people, flourishing, it is said, most exceedingly when the hill cattle are dying of epidemic disease, and the supply of meat is consequently abundant. [7]

The missionary Metz narrates6 that “some years ago the Kotas were anxious to keep buffaloes, but the headmen of the other tribes immediately put their veto upon it, declaring that it was a great presumption on the part of such unclean creatures to wish to have anything to do with the holy occupation of milking buffaloes.”

The Kotas are blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, carpenters, tanners, rope-makers, potters, washermen, and cultivators. They are the musicians at Toda and Badaga funerals. It is noted by Dr. W. H. R. Rivers7 that “in addition they provide for the first Toda funeral the cloak (putkuli) in which the body is wrapped, and grain (patm or s(=a)mai) to the amount of five to ten kwa. They give one or two rupees towards the expenses, and, if they should have no grain, their contribution of money is increased. At the marvainolkedr (second funeral ceremony) their contributions are more extensive. They provide the putkuli, together with a sum of eight annas, for the decoration of the cloak by the Toda women. They give two to five rupees towards the general expenses, and provide the bow and arrow, basket (tek), knife (kafkati), and the sieve called kudshmurn. The Kotas receive at each funeral the bodies of the slaughtered buffaloes, and are also usually given food.”

Though all classes look down on the Kotas, all are agreed that they are excellent artisans, whose services as smiths, rope and umbrella makers, etc., are indispensable to the other hill tribes. The strong, durable ropes, made out of buffalo hide, are much sought after by Badagas for fastening their cattle. The Kotas at [8]Gudalūr have the reputation of being excellent thatchers. The Todas claim that the Kotas are a class of artisans specially brought up from the plains to work for them. Each Toda, Badaga, Irula, and Kurumba settlement has its Muttu Kotas, who work for the inhabitants thereof, and supply them with sundry articles, called muttu, in return for the carcasses of buffaloes and cattle, ney (clarified butter), grain, plantain, etc. The Kotas eat the flesh of the animals which they receive, and sell the horns to Labbai (Muhammadan) merchants from the plains. Chakkiliyans (leather-workers) from the plains collect the bones, and purchase the hides, which are roughly cured by the Kotas with chunam (lime) and āvaram (Cassia auriculata) bark, and pegged out on the ground to dry.

The Kota blacksmiths make hatches, bill-hooks, knives, and other implements for the various hill tribes, especially the Badagas, and also for European planters. Within the memory of men still living, they used to work with iron ore brought up from the low country, but now depend on scrap iron, which they purchase locally in the bazar. The most flourishing smithy in the Kotagiri village is made of bricks of local manufacture, roofed with zinc sheets, and fitted with anvil pincers, etc., of European manufacture.

As agriculturists the Kotas are said to be quite on a par with the Badagas, and they raise on the land adjacent to their villages crops of potatoes, bearded wheat (akki or rice ganji), barley (beer ganji), kīrai (Amarantus), sāmai (Panicum miliare), korali (Setaria italica), mustard, onions, etc.

At the revenue settlement, 1885, the Kotas were treated in the same way as the Badagas and other tribes of the Nīlgiris, except the Todas, and the lands in their [9]occupation were assigned to them at rates varying from ten to twenty annas per acre. The bhurty or shifting system of cultivation, under which the Kotas held their lands, was formally, but nominally, abolished in 1862–64; but it was practically and finally done away with at the revenue settlement of the Nīlgiri plateau. The Kota lands are now held on puttas under the ordinary ryotwari tenure.

In former days, opium of good quality was cultivated by the Badagas, from whom the Kotas got poppy-heads, which their herbalists used for medicinal purposes. At the present time, the Kotas purchase opium in the bazar, and use it as an intoxicant.

The Kota women have none of the fearlessness and friendliness of the Todas, and, on the approach of a European to their domain, bolt out of sight, like frighted rabbits in a warren, and hide within the inmost recesses of their huts. As a rule they are clad in filthily dirty clothes, all tattered and torn, and frequently not reaching as low as the knees. In addition to domestic duties, the women have to do work in the fields, fetch water and collect firewood, with loads of which, supported on the head by a pad of bracken fern (Pteris aquilina) leaves, and bill-hook slung on the shoulder, old and young women, girls and boys, may continually be seen returning to the Kotagiri village. The women also make baskets, and rude earthen pots from a black clay found in swamps on a potter’s wheel. This consists of a disc made of dry mud, with an iron spike, by means of which it is made to revolve in a socket in a stone fixed in the space in front of the houses, which also acts as a threshing-floor. The earthenware vessels used by the Todas for cooking purposes, and those used in dairy work, except those of the inner room of the ti [10](sacred dairy), are said by Dr. Rivers to be made by the Kotas.

The Kota priesthood is represented by two classes, Munthakannān or Pūjāri, and Terkāran or Dēvādi, of whom the former rank higher than the latter. There may be more than two Terkārans in a village, but the Munthakannāns never exceed this number, and they should belong to different kēris. These representatives of the priesthood must not be widowers, and, if they lose their wives while holding office, their appointment lapses. They may eat the flesh of buffaloes, but not drink their milk. Cow’s flesh, but not its milk, is tabu. The Kotas may not milk cows, or, under ordinary conditions, drink the milk thereof in their own village, but are permitted to do so if it is given to them by a Pūjāri, or in a village other than their own. The duties of the Munthakannān include milking the cows of the village, service to the god, and participation in the seed-sowing and reaping ceremonial. They must use fire obtained by friction, and should keep a fire constantly burning in a broken pot. In like manner, the Terkārans must not use matches, but take fire from the house of the Munthakannān. The members of the priesthood are not allowed to work for others, but may do so on their own account in the fields or at the forge. They should avoid pollution, and may not attend a Toda or Badaga funeral, or approach the seclusion hut set apart for Kota women. When a vacancy in the office of Munthakannān occurs, the Kotas of the village gather together, and seek the guidance of the Terkāran, who becomes inspired by the deity, and announces the name of the successor. The selected individual has to be fed at the expense of the community for three months, during which time he may not speak [11]to his wife or other woman direct, but only through the medium of a boy, who acts as his assistant. Further, during this period of probation, he may not sleep on a mat or use a blanket, but must lie on the ground or on a plank, and use a dhupati (coarse cloth) as a covering. At the time of the annual temple festival, neither the Munthakannāns nor the Terkārans may live or hold communion with their wives for fear of pollution, and they have to cook their food themselves.

The seed-sowing ceremony is celebrated in the month of Kumbam (February-March) on a Tuesday or Friday. For eight days the Pūjāri abstains from meat and lives on vegetable dietary, and may not communicate directly with his wife, a boy acting as spokesman. On the Sunday before the ceremony, a number of cows are penned in a kraal, and milked by the Pūjāri. The milk is preserved, and, if the omens are favourable, is said not to turn sour. If it does, this is attributed to the Pūjāri being under pollution from some cause or other. On the day of the ceremony, the Pūjāri bathes in a stream, and proceeds, accompanied by a boy, to a field or the forest. After worshipping the gods, he makes a small seed-pan in the ground, and sows therein a small quantity of rāgi (Elusine Coracana). Meanwhile, the Kotas of the village go to the temple, and clean it. Thither the Pūjāri and the boy proceed, and the deity is worshipped with offerings of cocoanuts, betel, flowers, etc. Sometimes the Terkāran becomes inspired, and gives expression to oracular utterances. From the temple all go to the house of the Pūjāri, who gives them a small quantity of milk and food. Three months later, on an auspicious day, the reaping of the crop is commenced with a very similar form of ceremonial. [12]

During the seed-sowing festival, Mr. Harkness, writing in 1832,8 informs us, “offerings are made in the temples, and, on the day of the full moon, after the whole have partaken of a feast, the blacksmith and the gold and silversmith, constructing separately a forge and furnace within the temple, each makes something in the way of has avocation, the blacksmith a chopper or axe, the silversmith a ring or other kind of ornament.”

“Some rude image,” Dr. Shortt writes,9 “of wood or stone, a rock or tree in a secluded locality, frequently forms the Kota’s object of worship, to which sacrificial offerings are made; but the recognised place of worship in each village consists of a large square of ground, walled round with loose stones, three feet high, and containing in its centre two10 pent-shaped sheds of thatch, open before and behind, and on the posts (of stone) that support them some rude circles and other figures are drawn. No image of any sort is visible here.” These sheds, which at Kotagiri are a very short distance apart, are dedicated to Siva and his consort Parvati under the names of Kāmatarāya and Kālikai. Though no representation thereof is exhibited in the temples at ordinary times, their spirits are believed to pervade the buildings, and at the annual ceremony they are represented by two thin plates of silver, which are attached to the upright posts of the temples. The stones surrounding the temples at Kotagiri are scratched with various quaint devices, and lines for the games of kotē and hulikotē. The Kotas go, I was told, to the temple once a month, at full moon, and worship the gods. Their [13]belief is that Kāmatarāya created the Kotas, Todas, and Kurumbas, but not the Irulas. “Tradition says of Kāmatarāya that, perspiring profusely, he wiped from his forehead three drops of perspiration, and out of them formed the three most ancient of the hill tribes—the Todas, Kurumbas, and Kotas. The Todas were told to live principally upon milk, the Kurumbas were permitted to eat the flesh of buffalo calves, and the Kotas were allowed perfect liberty in the choice of food, being informed that they might eat carrion if they could get nothing better.” According to another version of this legend given by Dr. Rivers, Kāmatarāya “gave to each people a pot. In the Toda pot was calf-flesh, and so the Todas eat the flesh of calves at the erkumptthpimi ceremony; the Kurumba pot contained the flesh of a male buffalo, so this is eaten by the Kurumbas. The pot of the Kotas contained the flesh of a cow-buffalo, which may, therefore, be eaten by this people.”

Kota temple.

Kota temple.

In addition to Kāmatarāya and Mangkāli, the Kotas at Gūdalūr, which is near the Malabar frontier, worship Vettakaraswāmi, Adiral and Udiral, and observe the Malabar Ōnam festival. The Kotas worship further Māgāli, to whose influence outbreaks of cholera are attributed, and Māriamma, who is held responsible for smallpox. When cholera breaks out among the Kota community, special sacrifices are performed with a view to propitiating the wrath of the goddess. Māgāli is represented by an upright stone in a rude temple at a little distance from Kotagiri, where an annual ceremony takes place, at which some man becomes possessed, and announces to the people that Māgāli has come. The Pūjāri offers up plantains and cocoanuts, and sacrifices a sheep and fowls. My informant was, or pretended to be ignorant of the following legend recorded by Breeks as [14]to the origin of the worship of the smallpox goddess. “A virulent disease carried off a number of Kotas of Peranganoda, and the village was abandoned by the survivors. A Badaga named Munda Jogi, who was bringing his tools to the Kotagiri to be sharpened, saw near a tree something in the form of a tiger, which spoke to him, and told him to summon the run-away Kotas. He obeyed, whereupon the tiger form addressed the Kotas in an unknown tongue, and vanished. For some time, the purport of this communication remained a mystery. At last, however, a Kota came forward to interpret, and declared that the god ordered the Kotas to return to the village on pain of a recurrence of the pestilence. The command was obeyed, and a Swāmi house (shrine) was built on the spot where the form appeared to the Badaga (who doubtless felt keenly the inconvenience of having no Kotas at hand to sharpen his tools).” The Kotas are not allowed to approach Toda or Badaga temples.

It was noted by Lieutenant R. F. Burton11 that, in some hamlets, the Kotas have set up curiously carved stones, which they consider sacred, and attribute to them the power of curing diseases, if the member affected be only rubbed against the talisman.

A great annual festival is held in honour of Kāmatarāya with the ostensible object of propitiating him with a view to his giving the Kotas an abundant harvest and general prosperity. The feast commences on the first Monday after the January new moon, and lasts over many days, which are observed as a general holiday. The festival is said to be a continuous scene of licentiousness and debauchery, much indecent dancing taking place between men and women. According to Metz,12 the [15]chief men among the Badagas must attend, otherwise their absence would be regarded as a breach of friendship and etiquette, and the Kotas would avenge themselves by refusing to make ploughs or earthen vessels for the Badagas. The programme, when the festival is carried out in full detail, is, as far as I have been able to gather, as follows:—

First day. A fire is kindled by one of the priests in the temple, and carried to the Nadukēri section of the village, where it is kept burning throughout the festival. Around the fire men, women, adolescent boys and girls, dance to the weird music of the Kota band, whose instruments consist of clarionet, drum, tambourine, brass horn and flute (buguri).

Second day Dance at night.
Third day
Fourth day
Fifth day

Sixth day. The villagers go to the jungle and collect bamboos and rattans, with which to re-roof the temple. Dance at night.

The seventh day is busily spent in re-roofing and decorating the temples, and it is said to be essential that the work should be concluded before nightfall. Dance at night.

Eighth day. In the morning the Kotas go to Badaga villages, and cadge for presents of grain and ghī (clarified butter), which they subsequently cook, place in front of the temple as an offering to the god, and, after the priests have eaten, partake of, seated round the temple.

Ninth day. Kotas, Todas, Badagas, Kurumbas, Irulas, and ‘Hindus’ come to the Kota village, where an elaborate nautch is performed, in which men are the [16]principal actors, dressed up in gaudy attire consisting of skirt, petticoat, trousers, turban and scarves, and freely decorated with jewelry, which is either their own property, or borrowed from Badagas for the occasion. Women merely dressed in clean cloths also take part in a dance called kumi, which consists of a walk round to time beaten with the hands. I was present at a private performance of the male nautch, which was as dreary as such entertainments usually are, but it lacked the go which is doubtless put into it when it is performed under natural conditions away from the restraining influence of the European. The nautch is apparently repeated daily until the conclusion of the festival.

Eleventh and twelfth days. A burlesque representation of a Toda funeral is given, at which the part of the sacrificial buffaloes is played by men with buffalo horns fixed on the head, and body covered with a black cloth.

At the close of the festival, the Kota priests and leading members of the community go out hunting with bows and arrows, leaving the village at 1 A.M., and returning at 3 A.M. They are said to have formerly shot ‘bison’ (Bos gaurus) at this nocturnal expedition, but what takes place at the present day is said to be unknown to the villagers, who are forbidden to leave their houses during the absence of the hunting party. On their return to the village, a fire is lighted by friction. Into the fire a piece of iron is put by one of the priests, made red hot with the assistance of the bellows, and hammered. The priests then offer up a parting prayer to the god, and the festival is at an end.

The following is a translation of a description by Dr. Emil Schmidt13 of the dancing at the Kota annual [17]festival, at which he had the good fortune to be present as an eye-witness:—

“During my stay at Kotagiri the Kotas were celebrating the big festival in honour of their chief god. The feast lasted over twelve days, during which homage was offered to the god every evening, and a dance performed round a fire kept burning near the temple throughout the feast. On the last evening but one, females, as well as males, took part in the dance. As darkness set in, the shrill music, which penetrated to my hotel, attracted me to the Kota village. At the end of the street, which adjoins the back of the temple, a big fire was kept up by continually putting on large long bundles of brushwood. On one side of the fire, close to the flames, stood the musicians with their musical instruments, two hand-drums, a tambourine, beaten by blows on the back, a brass cymbal beaten with a stick, and two pipes resembling oboes. Over and over again the same monotonous tune was repeated by the two latter in quick four-eight time to the accompaniment of the other instruments. On my arrival, about forty male Kotas, young and old, were dancing round the fire, describing a semicircle, first to one side, then the other, raising the hands, bending the knees, and executing fantastic steps with the feet. The entire circle moved thus slowly forwards, one or the other from time to time giving vent to a shout that sounded like Hau! and, at the conclusion of the dance, there was a general shout all round. Around the circle, partly on the piles of stone near the temple, were seated a number of Kotas of both sexes. A number of Badagas of good position, who had been specially invited to the feast, sat round a small fire on a raised place, which abuts on the back wall of the temple. The dance over, the circle of [18]dancers broke up. The drummers held their instruments, rendered damp and lax by the moist evening breeze, so close to the flames that I thought they would get burnt. Soon the music began again to a new tune; first the oboes, and then, as soon as they had got into the proper swing, the other instruments. The melody was not the same as before, but its two movements were repeated without intercession or change. In this dance females, as well as males, took part, grouped in a semicircle, while the men completed the circle. The men danced boisterously and irregularly. Moving slowly forwards with the entire circle, each dancer turned right round from right to left and from left to right, so that, after every turn, they were facing the fire. The women danced with more precision and more artistically than the men. When they set out on the dance, they first bowed themselves before the fire, and then made left and right half turns with artistic regular steps. Their countenances expressed a mixture of pleasure and embarrassment. None of the dancers wore any special costume, but the women, who were nearly all old and ugly, had, for the most part, a quantity of ornaments in the ears and nose and on the neck, arms and legs. In the third dance, played once more in four-eight times, only females took part. It was the most artistic of all, and the slow movements had evidently been well rehearsed beforehand. The various figures consisted of stepping radially to and fro, turning, stepping forwards and backwards, etc., with measured seriousness and solemn dignity. It was for the women, who, at other times, get very little enjoyment, the most important and happiest day in the whole year.”

In connection with Kota ceremonials, Dr. Rivers notes that “once a year there is a definite ceremony, [19]in which the Todas go to the Kota village with which they are connected, taking an offering of clarified butter, and receiving in return an offering of grain from the Kotas. I only obtained an account of this ceremony as performed between the people of Kars and the Kota village of Tizgudr, and I do not know whether the details would be the same in other cases. In the Kars ceremony, the Todas go on the appointed day to the Kota village, headed by a man carrying the clarified butter. Outside the village they are met by two Kota priests whom the Todas call teupuli, who bring with them a dairy vessel of the kind the Todas call mu, which is filled with patm grain. Other Kotas follow with music. All stand outside the village, and one of the Kotas puts ten measures (kwa) of patm into the pocket of the cloak of the leading Toda, and the teupuli give the mu filled with the same grain. The teupuli then go to their temple and return, each bringing a mu, and the clarified butter brought by the Todas is divided into two equal parts, and half is poured into each mu. The leading Toda then takes some of the butter, and rubs it on the heads of the two Kota priests, who prostrate themselves, one at each foot of the Toda, and the Toda prays as follows:—

May it be well; Kotas two, may it be well; fields flourish may; rain may; buffalo milk may; disease go may.

“The Todas then give the two mu containing the clarified butter to the Kota priests, and he and his companions return home. This ceremony is obviously one in which the Todas are believed to promote the prosperity of the Kotas, their crops, and their buffaloes.

“In another ceremonial relation between Todas and Kotas, the kwòdrdoni ti (sacred dairy) is especially [20]concerned. The chief annual ceremony of the Kotas is held about January in honour of the Kota god Kambataraya. In order that this ceremony may take place, it is essential that there should be a palol (dairy man) at the kwòdrdoni ti, and at the present time it is only occupied every year shortly before and during the ceremony. The palol gives clarified butter to the Kotas, which should be made from the milk of the arsaiir, the buffaloes of the ti. Some Kotas of Kotagiri whom I interviewed claimed that these buffaloes belonged to them, and that something was done by the palol at the kwòdrdoni ti in connection with the Kambataraya ceremony, but they could not, or would not, tell me what it was.”

In making fire by friction (nejkōl), the Kotas employ three forms of apparatus:—(1) a vertical stick, and horizontal stick with sockets and grooves, both made of twigs of Rhodomyrtus tomentosus; (2) a small piece of the root of Salix tetrasperma is spliced into a stick, which is rotated in a socket in a piece of the root of the same tree; (3) a small piece of the root of this tree, made tapering at each end with a knife or fragment of bottle glass, is firmly fixed in the wooden handle of a drill. A shallow cavity and groove are made in a block of the same wood, and a few crystalline particles from the ground are dropped into the cavity. The block is placed on several layers of cotton cloth, on which chips of wood, broken up small by crushing them in the palm of the hand, are piled up round the block in the vicinity of the grove. The handle is, by means of a half cocoanut shell, pressed firmly down, and twisted between the palms, or rotated by means of a cord. The incandescent particles, falling on to the chips, ignite them. [21]

In a report by Lieutenant Evans, written in 1820, it is stated that “the marriages of this caste (the Kothewars) remind one of what is called bundling in Wales. The bride and bridegroom being together for the night, in the morning the bride is questioned by her relatives whether she is pleased with her husband-elect. If she answers in the affirmative, it is a marriage; if not, the bridegroom is immediately discharged, and the lady does not suffer in reputation if she thus discards half a dozen suitors.” The recital of this account, translated into Tamil, raised a smile on the face of my Kota informant, who volunteered the following information relating to the betrothal and marriage ceremonies at the present day. Girls as a rule marry when they are from twelve to sixteen years old, between which years they reach the age of puberty. A wife is selected for a lad by his parents, subject to the consent of the girl’s parents; or, if a lad has no near relatives, the selection is made for him by the villagers. Betrothal takes place when the girl is a child (eight to ten). The boy goes, accompanied by his father and mother, to the house where the girl lives, prostrates himself at the feet of her parents, and, if he is accepted, presents his future father-in-law with a four-anna piece, which is understood to represent a larger sum, and seals the contract. According to Breeks, the boy also makes a present of a birianhana of gold, and the betrothal ceremony is called balimeddeni (bali, bracelet, meddeni, I have made). Both betrothal and marriage ceremonies take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday, which are regarded as auspicious days. The ceremonial in connection with marriage is of a very simple nature. The bridegroom, accompanied by his relatives, attends a feast at the house of the bride, and the wedding day is fixed. On the appointed day the [22]bridegroom pays a dowry, ranging from ten to fifty rupees, to the bride’s father, and takes the girl to his house, where the wedding guests, who have accompanied them, are feasted. The Kotas as a rule have only one wife, and polyandry is unknown among them. But polygamy is sometimes practiced. My informant, for example, had two wives, of whom the first had only presented him with a daughter, and, as he was anxious to have a son, he had taken to himself a second wife. If a woman bears no children, her husband may marry a second, or even a third wife; and, if they can get on together without fighting, all the wives may live under the same roof.

Divorce may, I was told, be obtained for incompatibility of temper, drunkenness, or immorality; and a man can get rid of his wife ‘if she is of no use to him’, i.e., if she does not feed him well, or assist him in the cultivation of his land. Divorce is decided by a panchāyat (council) of representative villagers, and judgment given, after the evidence has been taken, by an elder of the community. Cases of theft, assault, or other mild offence, are also settled by a panchāyat, and, in the event of a case arising which cannot be settled by the members of council representing a single village, delegates from all the Kota villages meet together. If then a decision cannot be arrived at, recourse is had to the district court, of which the Kotas steer clear if possible. At a big panchāyat the headman (Pittakar) of the Kotas gives the decision, referring, if necessary, to some ‘sensible member’ of the council for a second opinion.

When a married woman is known to be pregnant with her first child, her husband allows the hair on the head and face to grow long, and leaves the finger nails [23]uncut. On the birth of the child, he is under pollution until he sees the next crescent moon, and should cook his own food and remain at home. At the time of delivery a woman is removed to a hut (a permanent structure), which is divided into two rooms called dodda (big) telullu and eda (the other) telullu, which serve as a lying-in chamber and as a retreat for women at their menstrual periods. The dodda telullu is exclusively used for confinements. Menstruating women may occupy either room, if the dodda telullu is not occupied for the former purpose. They remain in seclusion for three days, and then pass another day in the raised verandah of the house, or two days if the husband is a Pūjāri. A woman, after her first confinement, lives for three months in the dodda telullu, and, on subsequent occasions, until the appearance of the crescent moon. She is attended during her confinement and stay in the hut by an elderly Kota woman. The actual confinement takes place outside the hut, and, after the child is born, the woman is bathed, and taken inside. Her husband brings five leafy twigs of five different thorny plants, and places them separately in a row in front of the telullu. With each twig a stick of Dodonæa viscosa, set alight with fire made by friction, must be placed. The woman, carrying the baby, has to enter the hut by walking backwards between the thorny twigs.

A common name for females at Kotagiri is Mādi, one of the synonyms of the goddess Kālikai, and, at that village, the first male child is always called Komuttan (Kāmatarāya). At Shōlūr and Gudalūr this name is scrupulously avoided, as the name of the god should not be taken by mortal man. As examples of nicknames, the following may be cited. [24]

  • Small mouth.
  • Head.
  • Slit nose.
  • Burnt-legged.
  • Monkey.
  • Dung or rubbish.
  • Deaf.
  • Tobacco.
  • Hunchback.
  • Crooked-bodied.
  • Long-striding.
  • Dwarf.
  • Opium eater.
  • Irritable.
  • Bad-eyed.
  • Curly-haired.
  • Cat-eyed.
  • Left-handed.
  • Stone.
  • Stammerer.
  • Short.
  • Knee.
  • Chank-blower.
  • Chinaman.

The nickname Chinaman was due to the resemblance of a Kota to the Chinese, of whom a small colony has squatted on the slopes of the hills between Naduvatam and Gudalūr.

A few days after my arrival at Kotagiri, the dismal sound of mourning, to the weird strains of the Kota band, announced that death reigned in the Kota village. The dead man was a venerable carpenter, of high position in the community. Soon after daybreak, a detachment of villagers hastened to convey the tidings of the death to the Kotas of the neighbouring villages, who arrived on the scene later in the day in Indian file, men in front and women in the rear. As they drew near the place of mourning, they all, of one accord, commenced the orthodox manifestations of grief, and were met by a deputation of villagers accompanied by the band. Meanwhile a red flag, tied to the top of a bamboo pole, was hoisted as a signal of death in the village, and a party had gone off to a glade, some two miles distant, to obtain wood for the construction of the funeral car (tēru). The car, when completed, was an elaborate structure, about eighteen feet in height, made of wood and bamboo, in four tiers, each with a canopy of turkey [25]red and yellow cloth, and an upper canopy of white cloth trimmed with red, surmounted by a black umbrella of European manufacture, decorated with red ribbands. The car was profusely adorned with red flags and long white streamers, and with young plantain trees at the base. Tied to the car were a calabash and a bell. During the construction of the car the corpse remained within the house of the deceased man, outside which the villagers continued mourning to the dirge-like music of the band, which plays so prominent a part at the death ceremonies of both Todas and Kotas. On the completion of the car, late in the afternoon, it was deposited in front of the house. The corpse, dressed up in a coloured turban and gaudy coat, with a garland of flowers round the neck, and two rupees, a half-rupee, and sovereign gummed on to the forehead, was brought from within the house, lying face upwards on a cot, and placed beneath the lowest canopy of the car. Near the head were placed iron implements and a bag of rice, at the feet a bag of tobacco, and beneath the cot baskets of grain, rice, cakes, etc. The corpse was covered with cloths offered to it as presents, and before it those Kotas who were younger than the dead man prostrated themselves, while those who were older touched the head of the corpse and bowed to it. Around the car the male members of the community executed a wild step-dance, keeping time with the music in the execution of various fantastic movements of the arms and legs. During the long hours of the night mourning was kept up to the almost incessant music of the band, and the early morn discovered many of the villagers in an advanced stage of intoxication. Throughout the morning, dancing round the car was continued by men, sober and inebriated, with brief intervals of rest, and a young buffalo was [26]slaughtered as a matter of routine form, with no special ceremonial, in a pen outside the village, by blows on the back and neck administered with the keen edge of an adze. Towards midday presents of rice from the relatives of the dead man arrived on the back of a pony, which was paraded round the car. From a vessel containing rice and rice water, water was crammed into the mouths of the near relatives, some of the water poured over their heads, and the remainder offered to the corpse. At intervals a musket, charged with gunpowder, which proved later on a dangerous weapon in the hands of an intoxicated Kota, was let off, and the bell on the car rung. About 2 P.M., the time announced for the funeral, the cot bearing the corpse, from the forehead of which the coins had been removed, was carried to a spot outside the village called the thāvāchivadam, followed by the widow and a throng of Kotas of both sexes, young and old. The cot was then set down, and, seated at some distance from it, the women continued to mourn until the funeral procession was out of sight, those who could not cry spontaneously mimicking the expression of woe by contortion of the grief muscles. The most poignant sorrow was displayed by a man in a state of extreme intoxication, who sat apart by himself, howling and sobbing, and wound up by creating considerable disturbance at the burning-ground. Three young bulls were brought from the village, and led round the corpse. Of these, two were permitted to escape for the time being, while a vain attempt, which would have excited the derision of the expert Toda buffalo-catchers, was made by three men, hanging on to the head and tail, to steer the third bull up to the head of the corpse. The animal, however, proving refractory, it was deemed discreet to put an end to its existence by [27]a blow on the poll with the butt-end of an adze, at some distance from the corpse, which was carried up to it, and made to salute the dead beast’s head with the right hand, in feeble imitation of the impressive Toda ceremonial. The carcase of the bull was saluted by a few of the Kota men, and subsequently carried off by Pariahs. Supported by females, the exhausted widow of the dead man was dragged up to the corpse, and, lying back beside it, had to submit to the ordeal of removal of all her jewellery, the heavy brass bangle being hammered off the wrist, supported on a wooden roller, by oft-repeated blows with mallet and chisel delivered by a village blacksmith assisted by a besotten individual noted as a consumer of twelve grains of opium daily. The ornaments, as removed, were collected in a basket, to be worn again by the widow after several months. This revolting ceremony concluded, and a last salutation given by the widow to her dead husband, arches of bamboo were attached to the cot, which was covered over with a coloured table-cloth hiding the corpse from sight. A procession was then formed, composed of the corpse on the cot, preceded by the car and musicians, and followed by male Kotas and Badagas, Kota women carrying the baskets of grain, cakes, etc., a vessel containing fire, and burning camphor. Quickly the procession marched to the burning-ground beyond the bazar, situated in a valley by the side of a stream running through a glade in a dense undergrowth of bracken fern and trailing passion-flower. On arrival at the selected spot, a number of agile Kotas swarmed up the sides of the car, and stripped it of its adornments including the umbrella, and a free fight for the possession of the cloths and flags ensued. The denuded car was then placed over the corpse, which, deprived of all [28]valuable ornaments and still lying on the cot, had been meanwhile placed, amid a noisy scene of brawling, on the rapidly constructed funeral pyre. Around the car faggots of wood, supplied in lieu of wreaths by different families in the dead man’s village as a tribute of respect, were piled up, and the pyre was lighted with torches kindled at a fire which was burning on the ground close by. As soon as the pyre was in a blaze, tobacco, cigars, cloths, and grain were distributed among those present, and the funeral party dispersed, leaving a few men behind in charge of the burning corpse, and peace reigned once more in the Kota village. A few days later, the funeral of an elderly woman took place with a very similar ceremonial. But, suspended from the handle of the umbrella on the top of the car, was a rag doll, which in appearance resembled an Aunt Sally. I was told that, on the day following the funeral, the smouldering ashes are extinguished with water, and the ashes, collected together, and buried in a pit, the situation of which is marked by a heap of stones. A piece of the skull, wrapped in bracken fronds, is placed between two fragments of an earthen pot, and deposited in the crevice of a rock or in a chink in a stone wall.

The Kotas celebrate annually a second funeral ceremony in imitation of the Todas. For eight days before the day appointed for its observance, a dance takes place in front of the houses of those Kotas whose memorial rites are to be celebrated, and three days before they are performed invitations are issued to the different Kota villages. On a Sunday night, fire is lighted by friction, and the time is spent in dancing. On the following day, the relatives of the departed who have to perform the ceremony purify the open space in front of their houses with cow-dung. They bring three basketfuls [29]of paddy (unhusked rice), which are saluted and set down on the cleansed space. The Pūjāri and the rest of the community, in like manner, salute the paddy, which is taken inside the house. On the Monday, cots corresponding in number to that of the deceased whose dry funeral is being held, are taken to the thāvachivadam, and the fragments of skulls are laid thereon. Buffaloes (one or more for each skull) are killed, and a cow is brought near the cots, and, after a piece of skull has been placed on its horns, sacrificed. A dance takes place around the cots, which are removed to the burning-ground, and set on fire. The Kotas spend the night near the thāvachivadam. On the following day a feast is held, and they return to their homes towards evening, those who have performed the ceremony breaking a small pot full of water in front of their houses.

Like the Todas, the Kotas indulge in trials of strength with heavy spherical stones, which they raise, or attempt to raise, from the ground to the shoulders, and in a game resembling tip-cat. In another game, sides are chosen, of about ten on each side. One side takes shots with a ball made of cloth at a brick propped up against a wall, near which the other side stands. Each man is allowed three shots at the brick. If it is hit and falls over, one of the ‘out-side’ picks up the ball, and throws it at the other side, who run away, and try to avoid being hit. If the ball touches one of them, the side is put out, and the other side goes in. A game, called hulikotē, which bears a resemblance to the English child’s game of fox and geese, is played on a stone chiselled with lines, which forms a rude game-board. In one form of the game, two tigers and twenty-five bulls, and in another three tigers and fifteen bulls engage, and the object is for the tigers to take, or, as the Kotas express it, kill all the bulls. In [30]a further game, called kotē, a labyrinthiform pattern, or maze, is chiselled on a stone, to get to the centre of which is the problem.

The following notes are taken from my case-book:—

Man—Blacksmith and carpenter. Silver bangle on right wrist; two silver rings on right little finger; silver ring on each first toe. Gold ear-rings. Langūti (cloth) tied to silver chain round loins.

Man—Light blue eyes, inherited from his mother. His children have eyes of the same colour. Lobes of ears pendulous from heavy gold ear-rings set with pearls. Another man with light blue eyes was noticed by me.

Man—Branded with cicatrix of a burn made with a burning cloth across lower end of back of forearm. This is a distinguishing mark of the Kotas, and is made on boys when they are more than eight years old.

Woman—Divorced for being a confirmed opium-eater, and living with her father.

Woman—Dirty cotton cloth, with blue and red stripes, covering body and reaching below the knees.

Woman—Two glass bead necklets, and bead necklet ornamented with silver rings. Four brass rings, and one steel ring on left forearm. Two massive brass bangles, weighing two pounds each, and separated by cloth ring, on right wrist. Brass bangle with brass and steel pendants, and shell bangle on left wrist. Two steel rings, and one copper ring on right ring-finger; brass rings on left first, ring, and little fingers. Two brass rings on first toe of each foot. Tattooed lines uniting eyebrows. Tattooed on outer side of both upper arms with rings, dots, and lines; rows of dots on back of right forearm; circle on back of each wrist; rows of dots on left ankle. As with the Todas, the tattooed devices are far less elaborate than those of the women in the plains. [31]

Woman—Glass necklet ornamented with cowry shells, and charm pendant from it, consisting of a fragment of the root of some tree rolled up in a ball of cloth. She put it on when her baby was quite young, to protect it against devils. The baby had a similar charm round its neck.

In the course of his investigation of the Todas, Dr. Rivers found that of 320 males 41 or 12.8 per cent. and of 183 females only two or 1.1 per cent. were typical examples of red-green colour-blindness. The percentage in the males is quite remarkable. The result of examination of Badaga and Kota males by myself with Holmgren’s wools was that red-green colour-blindness was found to be present in 6 out of 246 Badagas, or 2·5 per cent. and there was no suspicion of such colour-blindness in 121 Kotas.

Kōta (a fort).—A sub-division of Balija, and an exogamous sept of Padma Sālē. The equivalent Kōtala occurs as an exogamous sept of Bōya. There are, in Mysore, a few Kōtas, who are said to be immigrants from South Canara, and to be confined to the Kadūr district. According to a current legend, they were originally of the Kōta community, but their ancestors committed perjury in a land-case, and were cursed to lose their rank as Brāhmans for seven hundred years.14 Kōta is also the name of a section of Brāhmans.

Kotāri.—A class of domestic servants in South Canara, who claim to be an independent caste, though some regard them as a sub-caste of Bant.15

Kōtēgara or Kōtēyava.See Sērvēgāra.

Kōti (monkey).—The name for Koravas, who travel about the country exhibiting monkeys. [32]

Kotippattan.—The Kotippattans are described, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as “a class of Tamil Brāhmans, who, at a very early age in Malabar history, were declared by society to have lost the original Brāhmanical status. The offence was, it is said, their having taken to the cultivation of the betel-vine as their chief occupation. The ordinances of caste had prescribed other duties for the Brāhmans, and it is not unlikely that Sankarāchārya, to whose curse the present position of the Kotippattan is traced, disapproved of the change. In general appearance as regards thread, position of hair-tuft, and dress of men as well as women, and in ceremonials, the Kotippattans cannot be easily distinguished from the Brāhman class. Sad instances have occurred of Brāhman girls having been decoyed into matrimonial alliances with Kotippattans. They form a small community, and the state of social isolation into which they have been thrown has greatly checked their increase, as in the case of many other Malabar castes. Their priests are at present Tamil Brāhmans. They do not study the Vēdas, and the Gāyatri hymn is recited with the first syllable known as the pranavam. In the matter of funeral ceremonies, a Kotippattan is treated as a person excommunicated. The cremation is a mere mechanical process, unaccompanied by any mantras (sacred formulæ) or by any rites, anantarasamskāra (deferred funeral rites) being done after the lapse of ten days. They have their annual srāddhas, but no offerings of water (tarpanam) on the new-moon day. Their household deity is Sāsta. Their inheritance is from father to son. Their household language is Malayālam. Their chief seat is Vāmanapuram, twenty miles from Trivandrum.”

Kotlu (cow-shed).—An exogamous sept of Yānādi. [33]

Kōttaipaththu.—A sub-division of Agamudaiyans, who believe that they are the same as the Kōttai (fort) Vellālas of Tinnevelly.

Kōttai Vellāla.—“The Kōttai Vellālas,” Mr. J. A. Boyle writes,16 have been “shut up within narrow walls, the others between two rivers. The result of insulation has been the same, and they have developed from small families into small, but perfectly distinct, castes. In the centre of the town of Srīvaiguntam, in the Tinnevelly district, is a small fort, composed of a mud enclosure, containing the houses of a number of families known as Kōttai (fort) Vellālas, who are separated from social intercourse and intermarriage with other families of the great Vellāla caste. The traditional origin of this settlement is dated nearly a thousand years ago, when their ancestors were driven by a political revolution from their home in the valley of the Veigay (the river which flows past Madura). Under the Pāndya dynasty of Madura, these Vellālas were, they allege, the chamberlains or treasurers, to whom belonged the hereditary dignity of crowning the newly-succeeded kings. And this is still commemorated by an annual ceremony, performed in one of the Tinnevelly temples, whither the heads of families still repair, and crown the head of the swāmi (god). Their women never leave the precincts of the mud enclosure. After seven years of age, no girl is allowed to pass the gates, and the restriction is supported by the tradition of a disobedient little girl, who was murdered for a thoughtless breach of this law. Into the fort no male stranger may enter, though there is no hindrance to women of other castes to enter. After marriage, no woman of the caste may be seen by man’s eyes, except those of her husband, father, [34]brothers, and maternal uncles. When the census was taken, they refused to say how many women there were inside the fort, and infanticide is not only possible, but most probable; for there is a suspicious absence of increase in the colony, which suggests some mode of disposing of the ‘useless mouths,’ unknown to health officers and policemen. Until recent times, housed within the fort, were certain prædial slaves (Kottar, smiths) of inferior social status, who worked for their masters, and lived in the same rigid seclusion as regards their women. They have been turned out, to live beyond the enclosure, but work for their masters.”

It is said that, during the days of oppression at the hands of Muhammadan and Poligar rulers, the Kōttai Vellālas had to pay considerable sums of money to secure immunity from molestation. The Kōttai Pillai, or headman of the community, is reported to possess the grants made from time to time by the rulers of the country, guaranteeing them the enjoyment of their customs and privileges. The fort, in which the Kōttai Vellālas live, is kept in good preservation by Government. There are four entrances, of which one is kept closed, because, it is said, on one occasion, a child who went out by it to witness the procession of a god was killed. Brāhmans who are attached to the fort, male members of various castes who work for the inmates thereof, and Pallans may freely enter it. But, if any one wishes to speak to a man living in the fort, the Paraiyan gatekeeper announces the presence of the visitor. Females of all castes may go into the fort, and into the houses within it.

On marriage and other festive occasions, it is customary for the Kōttai Vellālas to give raw rations to those invited, instead of, as among other castes, a dinner. [35]The Kottans eat and drink at the expense of their masters, and dance.

Like the Nangūdi Vellālas (Savalai Pillais), the Kōttai Vellālas have kilais (septs) running in the female line, and they closely follow them in their marriage customs. It is usual for a man to marry his paternal aunt’s daughter. The bridegroom goes in state, with his and the bride’s relations and their respective Kottans, to the bride’s house. Arrived at the marriage pandal (booth), they are welcomed by the bride’s party. The hōmam (sacrificial fire) is then raised by the officiating Brāhman priest, who blesses the tāli (marriage badge), and hands it to a Kottan female, who passes it on to the elder sister of the bridegroom, or, if he has no such sister, to a female who takes her place. She takes it inside the house, and ties it on the neck of the bride, who has remained within during the ceremony. The contracting couple are then man and wife. The husband goes to live with his wife, who, after marriage, continues to live in her father’s house. On the death of her father, she receives half of a brother’s share of the property. If she has no brothers, she inherits the whole property.17

Kōttai Vellāla women wear ordinary jewels up to middle life, when they replace them by a jewel called nāgapadam, which is a gold plate with the representation of a five-headed cobra. This is said to be worn in memory of the occasion when a Pāndyan king, named Thennavarāyan, overlooking the claims of his legitimate son, gave the kingdom to an illegitimate son. The fort Vellālas living at Sezhuvaimānagaram refused to place the crown on the bastard’s head. They were consequently persecuted, and had to leave the country. They [36]decided to throw themselves into a fire-pit, and so meet their death in a body. But, just as they were about to do so, they were prevented by a huge five-headed cobra. Hearing of this marvellous occurrence, the Pāndyan king who was ruling in Tinnevelly invited them to settle at Srīvaiguntam. The fort Vellālas claim that one of the Pāndyan kings gave them extensive lands on the bank of the Vaigai river when they lived at Sezhuvaimānagaram. They claim further that the ministers and treasurers of the Pāndyan kings were selected from among them.

The dead are usually cremated. The corpses are borne by Kottans, who carry out various details in connection with the death ceremonies. The corpses of women are placed in a bag, which is carefully sewn up.

I am informed that, owing to the scarcity of females, men are at the present day obliged to recruit wives from outside.

The Kōttaipaththu Agamudaiyans believe that they are the same as the Kōttai Vellālas.

Kottakunda (new pot).—An exogamous sept of Mēdara.

Kottan.—An occupational name, meaning bricklayer, returned, at times of census, by some Pallis in Coimbatore. Some Pallis are also employed as bricklayers in the City of Madras. Kottan is also recorded as a title of Katasan.

Kottha.—A sub-division of Kurubas, the members of which tie a woollen thread round the wrist at marriages.

Kottiya Paiko.—A sub-division of Rōna.

Kovē (ant-hill).—An exogamous sept of Gangadikāra Vakkaliga. [37]

Kōvila (Indian cuckoo, Eudynamis honorata).—A gōtra of Mēdara.

Kōvilar (temple people).—The name adopted by a section of Pallis or Vanniyans, who wear the sacred thread, and have temples of their own, in which they worship. Kōil Adiyān (temple servant) has been returned by some Balijas at times of census. Kōvilammamar or Kōilpat, denoting ladies of, or those who live in palaces, is a title of some Sāmanta ladies. Kōvilagam is the usual term for the house of a Rāja or Tirumalpād, and Kōilpantāla is recorded, from Travancore, as a synonym for Kōil Tamburān. The Nāttukōttai Chettis have exogamous septs, or kōils, named after temples, e.g., Māthur kōil.

Kōya.—The land and boat-owning class of Muhammadans in the Laccadive islands. The name is said to be a corrupt form of Khōja, meaning a man of distinction. Māppillas use Kōya as a suffix to their names, e.g., Hassan Kōya, Mahomed Kōya (see Māppilla).

Kōyappan.—Kōyappan or Kōyavappan are corrupt forms of Kusavan (Malabar potters).

Koyi.—The Koyis, Kois, or Koyas, are a tribe inhabiting the hills in the north of the Godāvari district, and are also found in the Malkangiri tāluk of the Jeypore Zamindari. They are said to belong to the great Gōnd family, and, when a man of another caste wishes to be abusive to a Koyi, he calls him a Gōndia. The Koyi language is said by Grierson to be a dialect of Gōndi. Writing concerning the Koyis of the Godāvari district, the Rev. J. Cain states18 that “in these parts the Kois use a great many Telugu words, and cannot always [38]understand the Kois who come from the plateau in Bustar. A few years ago, when Colonel Haig travelled as far as Jagdalpuram, the Kois from the neighbourhood of Dummagudem who accompanied him were frequently unable to carry on any conversation with many of the Kois on this plateau. There are often slight differences in the phraseology of the inhabitants of two villages within a mile of each other. When two of my teachers, living not more than a mile apart, were collecting vocabularies in the villages in which they lived, they complained that their vocabularies often differed in points where they expected to find no variety whatever.” A partial vocabulary of the Koyi language is given by the Rev. J. Cain, who notes that all the words borrowed from Telugu take purely Koi terminations in the plural. “Its connection,” he writes, “with the Gond language is very apparent, and also the influence of its neighbour Telugu. This latter will account for many of the irregularities, which would probably disappear in the language spoken by the Kois living further away from the Telugu country.” Mr. G. F. Paddison informs me that all the Gōnds whom he met with in the Vizagapatam district were bholo lōko (good caste), and would not touch pork or mutton, whereas the Koyi shares with the Dōmbs the distinction of eating anything he can get in the way of meat, from a rat to a cow. It is noted by Mr. H. A. Stuart19 that “the Khonds call themselves Kui, a name identical with Koi or Koya.” And, in 1853, an introduction to the grammar of the Kui or Kandh language was produced by Lingum Letchmajee.20 [39]

It is recorded by the Rev. J. Cain that “until the tālukās were handed over to British rule, the Bhadrāchallam Zamindar always kept up a troop of Rohillās, who received very little pay for their services, and lived chiefly by looting the country around. In attendance upon them were one hundred Kois, and one hundred Mādigas. Twenty-five Koi villages form a samutū, and, in the Bhadrāchallam tālukā, there are ten samutūs. In the territory on the opposite side of the river, which also belonged to the Ashwa Rau family, there were ten samutūs. Each samutū was bound in turn to furnish for a month a hundred Kois to carry burdens, fetch supplies, etc., for the above-mentioned Rohillās. During the month thus employed they had to provide their own batta (subsistence money). The petty Zamindars of Albaka, Cherla, Nagar, Bejji and Chintalanada, likewise had their forces of Nāyaks and Kois, and were continually robbing and plundering. All was grist which came to their mill, even the clothes of the poor Koi women, who were frequently stripped, and then regarded as objects of ridicule. The Kois have frequently told me that they could never lie down to rest without feeling that before morning their slumbers might be rudely disturbed, their houses burnt, and their property all carried off. As a rule, they hid their grain in caves and holes of large trees.” It is recorded, in the Vizagapatam Manual, that, in 1857, the headman of Koratūru, a village on the Godāvari river, was anxious to obtain a certain rich widow in marriage for his son. Hearing, however, that she had become the concubine of a village Munsiff or Magistrate of Buttayagūdem, he attempted, with a large body of his Koi followers, to carry her off by force. Failing in the immediate object of his raid, he plundered the village, and retreated with a quantity of booty and cattle. [40]

Those Koyis, the Rev. J. Cain writes, who live in the plains “have a tradition that, about two hundred years ago, they were driven from the plateau in the Bustar country by famine and disputes, and this relationship is also acknowledged by the Gutta Kois, i.e., the hill Kois, who live in the highlands of Bustar. These call the Kois who live near the Godāvari Gommu Kois and Mayalotīlu. The word Gommu is used to denote the banks and neighbourhood of the Godāvari. Thus, for instance, all the villages on the banks of the Godāvari are called Gommu ūllu. Mayalotīlu means rascal. The Gutta Kois say the lowland Kois formerly dwelt on the plateau, but on one occasion some of them started out on a journey to see a Zamindar in the plains, promising to return before very long. They did not fulfil their promise, but settled in the plains, and gradually persuaded others to join them, and at times have secretly visited the plateau on marauding expeditions.... The Kois regard themselves as being divided into five classes, Perumbōyudu, Madogutta, Perēgatta, Mātamuppayo, and Vidogutta.” The Rev. J. Cain states further that “the lowland Kois say that they are divided into five tribes, but they do not know the first of these. The only names they can give are Pāredugatta, Mundegutta, Peramboyina, and Wikaloru, and these tribes are again sub-divided into many families. The members of the different tribes may intermarry, but not members of the same tribe.”

It is recorded by Mr. F. R. Hemingway21 that “exogamous septs, called Gattas, occur in the tribe. Among them are Mūdō (third), Nālō (fourth) or Parēdi, Aidō (fifth) or Rāyibanda, Ārō (sixth), Nutōmuppayō [41](130th), and Perambōya. In some places, the members of the Mūdō, Nālō, and Aidō Gattas are said to be recognisable by the difference in the marks they occasionally wear on their foreheads, a spot, a horizontal, and a perpendicular line respectively being used by them. The Ārō Gatta, however, also uses the perpendicular line.” It is further noted by Mr. Hemingway that the Rācha or Dora Koyas consider themselves superior to all other sub-divisions, except the Oddis (superior priests).

It is noted by the Rev. J. Cain that at Gangōlu, a village about three miles from Dummagudem, “live several families who call themselves Bāsava Gollavandlu, but on enquiry I found that they are really Kois, whose grandfathers had a quarrel with some of their neighbours, and separated themselves from their old friends. 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 that class are said to have been so called in consequence of their speaking a different language from the rest of the Gollas. A small but well-known family, the Matta people, are all said to have been originally Erra Gollas, but six generations ago they were received into the Koi people. Another well-known family, the Kāka people, have the following tradition of their arrival in the Koi districts. Seven men of the Are Kāpulu caste of Hindus once set out on a journey from the neighbourhood of Warangal. Their way led through dense jungle, and for a very long time they could find no village, where they and their horses could obtain food and shelter. At length they espied a small hut belonging to a poor widow, and, riding up to it, they entered into conversation with her, when they learned that the whole country was being [42]devastated by a nilghai (blue bull: Boselaphus tragocamelus), which defied all attempts to capture it. In despair, the king of the country, who was a Koi of the Ēmu family, had promised his youngest daughter in marriage to any man who would rid the country of the pest. Before very long, the youngest of the Kāpus was out wandering in the neighbouring jungle, and had an encounter with the formidable beast, which ran at him very fiercely, and attempted to knock him down. The young man raised a small brass pot, which he was carrying, and struck the animal so forcible a blow on the head that it fell dead on the spot. He then cut off its tail, nose, and one ear, and carried them away as trophies of his victory; and, having hidden his ring in the mutilated head of the animal, he buried the body in a potter’s pit close to the scene of the encounter. He and his elder brothers then resumed their journey, but they had not gone far before they received news from the widow that the potter, hearing of the death of the animal, had gone to the king with the tidings, and asserted that he himself was the victor, and was therefore entitled to the promised reward. The king, however, declined to comply with his request, unless he produced satisfactory evidence of the truth of the story. The real victor, hearing all this, bent his steps to the king’s court and asserted his claim, showing his trophies in proof of his statements, and requesting the king to send and dig up the carcase of the animal, and see whether the ring was there or not. The king did so, and, finding everything as the claimant had asserted, he bestowed his daughter on him, and assigned to the newly married couple suitable quarters in his own house. Before very long, the next elder brother of the bridegroom came to pay him a visit, riding in a kachadala, i.e., a small cart on solid wooden [43]wheels. He found all the city in great trouble in consequence of the ravages of a crow with an iron beak, with which it attacked young children, and pecked out their brains. The king, deeply grieved at his subjects’ distress, had it proclaimed far and wide that the slayer of this crow should receive in reward the hand of his youngest remaining daughter. The young man had with him a new bamboo bow, and so he fitted an arrow to the string, and let fly at the crow. His aim was so good that the crow fell dead at once, but the force of the blow was so great that one of the wings was driven as far south as the present village of Rekapalli (wing village), its back fell down on the spot now occupied by Nadampalli (loin or back village), its legs at Kālsāram (leg village), and its head at Tirusapuram (head village), whilst the remainder fell into the cart, and was carried into the presence of the king. The king was delighted to see such clear proofs of the young man’s bravery, and immediately had the marriage celebrated, and gave the new son-in-law half the town. He then made an agreement with his sons-in-law and their friends, according to which they were in future to give him as many marriageable girls as could be enclosed and tied up by seven lengths of ropes used for tying up cattle, and he was to bestow upon them as many as could be tied up by three lengths. In other words, he was to receive seventy children, and to give thirty, but this promise has never been fulfilled. The victor received the name of Kāka (crow), and his descendants are called the Kāka people.”

The Koyis of the Godāvari district are described in the Manual as being “a simple-minded people. They look poor and untidy. The jungles in which they reside are very unhealthy, and the Kois seem almost to a man to suffer from chronic fever. They lead an unsophisticated, [44]savage life, and have few ideas, and no knowledge beyond the daily events of their own little villages; but this withdrawal from civilised existence is favourable to the growth of those virtues which are peculiar to a savage life. Like the Khonds, they are noted for truthfulness, and are quite an example in this respect to the civilised and more cultivated inhabitants of the plains. They call themselves Koitors, the latter part of which appellation has been very easily and naturally changed by the Telugu people, and by the Kois who come most closely into contact with them, into Dorala, which means lords; and they are always honoured by this title in the Godāvari district. [The Rev. J. Cain expresses doubts as to the title Dora being a corruption of tor, and points out that it is a common title in the Telugu country. Some Koyis on the Bastar plateau call themselves Bhūmi Rāzulu, or kings of the earth.] The villages are small, but very picturesque. They are built in groups of five or six houses, in some places even a smaller number, and there are very rarely so many as ten or fifteen. A clearing is made in the jungle, and a few acres for cultivation are left vacant round the houses. In clearing away the wood, every tree is removed except the ippa (Bassia latifolia) and tamarind trees, which are of the greatest service to the people on account of their fruit and shade. The Kois do not remain long in the same place. They are a restless race. Four years suffice to exhaust the soil in one locality, and they do not take the trouble to plough deeper, but migrate to another spot, where they make a fresh clearing, and erect a new village. Their huts are generally covered with melons and gourds, the flowing tendrils of which give them a very graceful appearance, but the surrounding jungle makes them damp and unhealthy. When the [45]cultivation season is over, and the time of harvest draws on, the whole of the village turns out by families, and lives on the small wooden scaffoldings erected in the fields, for the purpose of scaring away the wild animals and birds, which come to feed on the ripening grain. Deer and wild pigs come by night to steal it, and herds of goats by day. Tigers and cheetas (leopards) often resort to the fields of Indian corn, and conceal themselves among the lofty plants. Poorer kinds of grain are also grown, such as millet and maize, out of which the people make a kind of porridge, called java. They likewise grow a little cotton, from which they make some coarse cloth, and tobacco. The ippa tree is much prized. The Koyis eat the flowers of this tree, which are round and fleshy. They eat them either dried in the sun, or fried with a little oil. Oil both for lights and for cooking is obtained from the nut, from which also an intoxicating spirit is extracted.” I gather that the Koyis further use the oil for anointing the hair, whereas, in Kurnool, the forest officers barter with the Chenchus for the fruits, which they will part with, as they do not require them for the toilette or other purpose.

The cultivation of the Koyis has been described as “of the simplest, most unprofitable kind. A piece of jungle is selected, and all the trees, except the fruit-bearing ones, are cut down and burned, the ashes being used for manure. Then, without removing the stumps or further clearing, the land is scratched along the top, and the seed sown. For three or four years the natural fertility of the soil yields them a crop, but then, when the undergrowth begins to appear and the soil to be impoverished, being too lazy to plough and clean it properly or to give it manure, they abandon it, and the land again becomes scrub jungle.” [46]

In a note on cultivation in the Agency tracts of the Godāvari district, F. R. Hemingway writes as follows.22 “The majority of the hill Reddis and the Koyas in the Agency carry on shifting cultivation, called pōdu, by burning clearings in the forests. Two methods prevail: the ordinary (or chalaka) pōdu, and the hill (or konda) pōdu. The former consists in cultivating certain recognised clearings for a year or two at a time, allowing the forest to grow again for a few years, and then again burning and cultivating them; while, under the latter, the clearing is not returned to for a much longer period, and is sometimes deserted for ever. The latter is in fashion in the more hilly and wilder parts, while the former is a step towards civilisation. In February or March, the jungle trees and bushes are cut down, and spread evenly over the portion to be cultivated; and, when the hot weather comes on, they are burnt. The ashes act as a manure, and the cultivators think that the mere heat of the burning makes the ground productive. The land is ploughed once or twice in chalaka pōdus before and after sowing, but not at all in konda pōdus. The seed is sown in June. Hill cholam and sāmai are the commonest crops. The former is dibbled into the ground. Grain is usually stored in regular granaries (kottu), or in thatched bamboo receptacles built on a raised foundation, and called gādi. These are not found in Bhadrāchalam or the central delta, where a high, round receptacle made of twisted straw (puri) is used. Grain is also stored, as elsewhere, in pits.”

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that the houses of the Koyis “are made of bamboo, with a thatch of grass or palmyra. They are very restless, and families change [47]frequently from one village to another. Before morning, they consult the omens, to see whether the change will be auspicious or not. Sometimes the hatching of a clutch of eggs provides the answer, or four grains of four kinds of seed, representing the prosperity of men, cattle, sheep, and land, are put on a heap of ashes under a man’s bed. Any movement among them during the night is a bad omen. The Koyas proper are chiefly engaged in agriculture. Their character is a curious medley. They excite admiration by their truthfulness and simplicity; contempt by their drunkenness, listlessness, and want of thrift; amusement by their stupidity and their combination of timidity and self-importance; and disgust by their uncanny superstitions and thinly veiled blood-thirstiness. Their truthfulness is proverbial, though it is said to be less characteristic than of yore, and they never break their word. Their drunkenness is largely due to the commonness of the ippa tree (Bassia latifolia), from the flowers of which strong spirit is distilled, and is most noticeable when this is blossoming. Their laziness is notorious, and their stupidity is attested by numerous stories. One, vouched for by the Rev. J. Cain, relates how some of them, being despatched with a basket of fruit and a note describing its contents, and being warned that the note would betray any pilfering, first buried the note so that it could not see, then abstracted some of the fruit, afterwards disinterred the note and delivered it and the basket, and were quite at a loss, when charged with the theft, to know how the note could have learnt about it. They are terribly victimised by traders and money-lenders from the low country, who take advantage of their stupidity to cheat them in every conceivable way. Their timidity has on occasions driven them to seek refuge in the jungle on the appearance of a [48]Hindu in clean clothes, but, on the other hand, they insist upon, and receive a considerable measure of respect from lowlanders whom they encounter. They are perfectly aware that their title Dora means lord, and they insist upon being given it. They tolerate the address ‘uncle’ (māmā) from their neighbours of other castes, but they are greatly insulted if called Koyas. When so addressed, they have sometimes replied ‘Whose throat have I cut?’ playing on the word koya, which means to slice, or cut the throat. When driven to extremes, they are capable of much courage. Blood feuds have only recently become uncommon in British territory, and in 1876 flourished greatly in the Bastar State.”

Concerning the marriage custom of the Koyis the Rev. J. Cain writes that “the Koyis generally marry when of fair age, but infant marriage is unknown. The maternal uncle of a girl has always the right to dispose of her hand, which he frequently bestows upon one of his own sons. If the would-be bridegroom is comparatively wealthy, he can easily secure a bride by a peaceable arrangement with her parents; but, if too poor to do this, he consults with his parents and friends, and, having fixed upon a suitable young girl, he sends his father and friends to take counsel with the headman of the village where his future partner resides. A judicious and liberal bestowal of a few rupees and arak (liquor) obtain the consent of the guardian of the village to the proposed marriage. This done, the party watch for a favourable opportunity to carry off the bride, which is sure to occur when she comes outside her village to fetch water or wood, or, it may be, when her parents and friends are away, and she is left alone in the house. The bridegroom generally anxiously awaits the return [49]home of his friends with their captive, and the ceremony is proceeded with that evening, due notice having been sent to the bereaved parents. Some of the Koyis are polygamists, and it not unfrequently happens that a widow is chosen and carried off, it may be a day or two after the death of her husband, whilst she is still grieving on account of her loss. The bride and bridegroom are not always married in the same way. The more simple ceremony is that of causing the woman to bend her head down, and then, having made the man lean over her, the friends pour water on his head, and, when the water has run off his head to that of the woman, they are regarded as man and wife. The water is generally poured out of a bottle-gourd. (These gourds are used by the Koyis as bottles, in which they carry drinking water when on a journey. Very few Koyis stir far from their homes without one of these filled with water.) Generally, on this all-important occasion, the two are brought together, and, having promised to be faithful to each other, drink some milk. Some rice is then placed before them, and, having again renewed their promises, they eat the rice. They then go outside the house, and march round a low heap of earth which has been thrown up under a small pandal (booth) erected for the occasion, singing a simple love song as they proceed. Afterwards they pay their respects to the elders present, and beg for their blessing, which is generally bestowed in the form of ‘May you be happy! may you not fight and quarrel!’ etc. This over, all present fall to the task of devouring the quantity of provisions provided for the occasion, and, having well eaten and drunk, the ceremony is concluded. If the happy couple and their friends are comparatively wealthy, the festivities last several days. Dancing and singing are kept up every evening, and, [50]when the fun waxes fast and furious, the mother-in-law takes up her new son-in-law on her shoulders, and his mother her new daughter-in-law, and dance round as vigorously as age and strength permit. If the mothers-in-law are not able, it is the duty of the respective maternal aunts to perform this ludicrous office. When the bridegroom is a fine strapping young man, this is a duty rather than a pleasure. Some do not object to run away with the wife of another man, and, in former years, a husband has been known to have been murdered for the sake of his wife. Even at present, more disputes arise from bride-stealing than from any other cause, especially as up to the present time (1876) the Government officials have not been able to stop this practice. In the case of a man running away with another man’s wife, the samatu dora (headman), on its being reported to him, goes to the village where the culprit lives, assembles the headman, and calls the offender before him. He then fines the man twelve rupees, and orders him to give another twelve to the husband of the woman whom he has stolen, and then demands two rupees’ worth of liquor, a goat, and grain for a feast. On these being brought, the night is spent in feasting and drinking, and the fault is forgiven. In cases of breach of the seventh commandment, the offender is often placed between two logs of wood, upon which as many men sit as can be accommodated, and press it down as long as they can without endangering the unfortunate man’s life. In all the Koi villages there is a large house, where the young unmarried men have to sleep, and another which the young unmarried girls have to occupy at night.”

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that, “if a Koya youth is refused by the maiden of his choice, he generally carries her off by force. But a boy can reserve a girl [51]baby for himself by giving the mother a pot, and a cloth for the baby to lie upon, and then she may not be carried off. Girls who consort with a man of low caste are purified by having their tongues branded with a hot golden needle, and by being made to pass through seven arches of palmyra leaves which are afterwards burnt.” (cf. Koraga.) According to Mr. R. E. Enthoven,23 “the suggestion seems to be a rapid representation of seven existences, the outcast 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.”

In a note on marriage among the Koyis of Vizagapatam, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that the parents and other relations of the bridegroom go to the bride’s home with a present (vōli) of three or four head-loads of fermented liquor made from rāgi (Eleusine Coracana) seeds, a pair of new cloths for the girl’s father and mother, and a pig. A feast is held, and, on the following day, the bride is conducted to the home of the bridegroom. The marriage ceremony is then conducted on lines similar to those already described.

In connection with birth ceremonies, the Rev. J. Cain writes that “the Koi women are very hardy, and careless about themselves. After the birth of a child, they do not indulge in the luxury of a cot, but, according to their usual custom, continue to lie upon the ground, bathe in cold water, and eat their accustomed food. Directly the child is born, it is placed upon a cot, and the mother resumes her ordinary work of fetching water, wood, leaves, etc., cooking for the family, and so on. On the [52]seventh day the child is well washed, and all the neighbours and near relatives assemble together to name the child. Having placed the child on a cot, they put a leaf of the mohwa tree (Bassia) in the child’s hand, and pronounce some name which they think suitable. If the child closes its hand over the leaf, it is regarded as a sign that the child acquiesces, but, if the child rejects the leaf or cries, they take it as a sign that they must choose another name, and so they throw away the leaf, and substitute another leaf and another name, until the child shows its approbation. If the name chosen is that of any person present, the owner of that name generally expresses his appreciation of the honour thus conferred by placing a small coin in the hand of the child, otherwise the father is bound to do so. This ceremony is followed by a night of dancing and singing, and the next day the father gives a feast to his neighbours and friends, or, if too poor for that, treats the male friends to liquor. Most Kois now name their children without all the elaborate ceremonial mentioned above.”

“The bodies of children,” the Rev. J. Cain writes, “and of young men and young women are buried. If a child dies within a month of its birth, it is usually buried close to the house, so that the rain dropping from the eaves may fall upon the grave, and thereby cause the parents to be blessed with another child in due course of time. With the exception of the above mentioned, corpses are usually burnt. A cow or bullock is slain, and the tail cut off and put in the dead person’s hand, after the cot on which the corpse is carried has been placed upon the funeral pile. If a pūjāri, or Koi priest, is present, he not unfrequently claims a cloth or two belonging to the dead person. The cot is then removed, and the body burnt. Mr. Vanstavern reports having seen [53]part of the liver of the slain animal placed in the mouth of the corpse. The friends of the deceased retire, and proceed to feast upon the animal slain for the occasion. Three days afterwards they generally return, bringing contributions of chōlam (grain), and, having slain one or more animals, have a second feast. In some parts, immediately after the corpse is consumed, the ashes are wetted, rolled into balls, and deposited in a hole about two feet deep, dug on the roadside just outside their village. Over the hole is placed a slab of stone, and at the head an upright stone, and, whenever friends pass by these monuments, they endeavour to place a few leaves of tobacco on the slabs, remarking at the same time how fond the deceased were of tobacco in their lifetime. The hill Kois have erected very large slabs in days gone by, and it is not uncommon to see rows of ten to fifteen outside the villages close to well-frequented roads, but at present they seldom take the trouble to put up any monuments. In the Malkanagiri tāluk, the Kois every now and then erect these stones, and, when encamped in a village, we were struck by the height of one, from the top of which was suspended an ox tail. On enquiry we found that it was the tomb of the late headman, who had been enterprising enough to build some large bunds (embankments), and thus improve his rice fields. Success attended his efforts, and five crops rewarded him. But, alas, envious persons plotted his downfall, he became ill, and called in the diviner, who soon discovered the cause of the fatal illness in the shape of balls of mud, which had been surreptitiously introduced into his stomach by some demoness at the instigation of some foes. Three days after the funeral feast, a second one is frequently held, and, if means are forthcoming, another on the seventh and fifteenth days. The nights are [54]always spent in dancing to the beating of the tom-tom or drum. All believe that these feasts are necessary for the repose of the spirits of the deceased, and that, if these are not thus duly honoured, they will wander about the jungle in the form of pisāchas (devils) ready to avenge their friends’ neglect of their comfort by bringing evil upon their children or cattle. If they are not satisfied as to the cause of the death of any of their friends, they continue to meet at intervals for a whole year, offer the sacrificial feasts, and inquire of the diviner whether he thinks that the spirit of the deceased has been able to associate with spirits or its predeceased friends, and, when they obtain an answer in the affirmative, then and then only do they discontinue these feasts.”

In connection with death ceremonies, Mr. Hemingway notes that “when a Koya dies, a cow or bullock is slaughtered, and the tail is cut off, and put in the dead man’s hand. The liver is said to be sometimes put in his mouth. His widow’s tāli (marriage badge) is always placed there, and, when a married woman dies, her tāli is put in her mouth. The pyre of a man is lighted by his nephew, and of a woman by her son. No pollution is observed by those attending the funeral. The beef of the slain animal provides a feast, and the whole party returns home and makes merry. On the eighth day, a pot of water is placed in the dead man’s house for him to drink, and is watched by his nephew. Next morning another cow is slaughtered, and the tail and a ball of cooked rice are offered to the soul at the burning ground.”

Concerning the death ceremonies in the Vizagapatam district, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that the corpses of young children are buried far away from the home of their parents. It is customary, among the more [55]prosperous families, to put a few rupees into the mouth of a corpse before the funeral pyre is lighted. The money is made to represent the value of the animal sacrificed in the Godāvari district. Death pollution is not observed, but on the eighth day the relations kill a fowl, and burn it at the spot where the body was cremated. The ashes of a dead person are carried to a spot set apart close to the highway. Water is poured over them, and they are made into small balls. A hole, two or three feet deep, is dug, into which the balls, a few of the pots belonging to the deceased, and some money are put. They are covered over with a stone slab, at one end of which an upright slab is set up. A cow is killed, and its tail cut off, and tied to the upright slab, to appease the ghost of the dead person. The remainder of the animal is carried off, and used for a feast. Ghāsias are notorious for opening up these Koyi sepulchres, and stealing the money buried in them.

Mr. H. Tyler informs me that he came across the burning funeral pyre of a Koyi girl, who had died of syphilis. Across a neighbouring path leading to the Koyi village, were a basket fish-trap containing grass, and on each side thorny twigs, which were intended to catch the malign spirit of the dead girl, and prevent it from entering the village. The twigs and trap, containing the captured spirit, were to be burnt by the Koyis on the following day.

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that “people who are neither good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell, are born again in their former family. Children with hare-lip, moles, etc., are often identified as re-incarnations of deceased relations. Tattooing is common. It is, for various reasons, considered very important for the soul in the next world that the body should have been adequately tattooed.” [56]

Concerning the religion of the Koyis, the Rev. J. Cain writes that they say “that the following gods and goddesses were appointed to be worshipped by Sudras:—Muttelamma, Maridimahālakshmi, Poturāzu and Korrāzulu; and the following were to receive adoration from the Koyis:—Kommalamma, Kāturūdu, Adamarāzu. The goddess Māmili or Pēle must be propitiated early in the year, or else the crops will undoubtedly fail; and she is said to be very partial to human victims. There is strong reason to think that two men were murdered in 1876 near a village not far from Dummagudem, as offerings to this dēvata, and there is no reason to doubt that every year strangers are quietly put out of the way in the Bastar country, to ensure the favour of this blood-thirsty goddess. All the Koyis seem to hold in great respect the Pāndava brothers, especially Arjuna and Bhīma. The wild dogs or dhols are regarded as the dūtas or messengers of these brothers, and the long black beetles which appear in large numbers at the beginning of the hot weather are called the Pāndava flock of goats. Of course they would on no account attempt to kill a dhol, even though it should happen to attack their favourite calf, and they even regard it as imprudent to interfere with these dūtas, when they wish to feast upon their cattle.” The tradition among the Koyis is that, when the Pāndava brothers were in exile, Bhīma, whom they call Bhīmador, went hunting in the jungle, and met a wild woman of the woods, whom he fell in love with and married. The fruit of this union was the Koyi people. The tradition further states that this wild woman was not a human being.24 “A Koi,” the Rev. J. Cain continues, “whom Mr. Alexander met in a [57]village about two miles from Dummagudem, caused him to infer that the Kois think heaven to be a great fort, and in it plenty of rice to eat for those who enter it; that hell is a dismal place, where a crow, made of iron, continually gnaws off the flesh of the wicked. This must have been that particular Koi’s own peculiar belief, for it certainly is not that of any of the Kois with whom I so frequently come in contact. The mention of the iron crow reminds me that, about two years ago, a rumour rapidly spread in some of the villages that an iron cock was abroad very early in the morning, and upon the first village in which it heard one or more cocks begin to crow it would send a grievous pestilence, and at least decimate the village. In one instance at least, this led to immediate extermination of all the unfortunate cocks in that village. Last year (1878) the inhabitants of a village on the left bank of the Godāvari were startled by the tallāris (village peons) of the neighbouring village bringing about twenty fowls, and ordering them to be sent on the next village south of Dummagudem. On being asked the reason of this order, they replied that the cholera goddess was selecting her victims in the villages further north, and that, to induce her to leave their parts, some of these villages had sent these fowls as offerings to her, but they were to be passed on as far as possible before they were slain, for then she would follow in anticipation of the feast, and so might be tempted quite out of these regions. The Police, however, interfered, and they were passed back into the Upper Godāvari district.”

Writing further concerning the religion of the Koyis, the Rev. J. Cain adds that “one Sunday afternoon, some Kois came to us from a village nine miles away, and begged for medicine for a man, whose right cheek, [58]they said, had been torn away by a tiger, just as if it had been cut out by a knife. A few days afterwards we heard a story, which was far more credible. The people of the village were very anxious for good crops, and resolved to return to the practice of offering a stranger passing by to the goddess Māmili, and so two of them were on the look-out for a victim. They soon saw one, and began to pursue him, but he, a Koi, knowing the former evil repute of the village, suspected their design and fled, and at last took refuge up a manchan. They began to ascend too, when he took out of his belt a knife, and struck at his assailants, and cut away his right cheek. This caused the two assailants to retreat, and the man escaped. As human sacrifices are now illegal, a langur monkey is frequently substituted, and called for occasion Ekuromma Potu, i.e., a male with small breasts. This name is given in the hope of persuading the goddess that she is receiving a human sacrifice. Mutyalamma is the goddess, who is supposed to preside over small-pox and cholera. When the villages have determined to appease this dread goddess, they erect a pandal (booth) outside their village under a nīm (Melia Azadirachta) tree, search all round for the soft earth of a white-ant heap, and proceed at once to mould this earth into the form of an image of a woman, tie a cloth or two round her, hang a few peacock’s feathers around her neck, and place her under the pandal on a three-legged stool, which has been made of the wood of Cochlospermum Gossypium (silk-cotton tree) for the occasion. They then bring forward a chicken and try to persuade it to eat some of the grains they have thrown down before the image, requesting the goddess to inform them whether she will leave their village or not. If the chicken picks up some of the grains, they regard it as a [59]most favourable omen, but, if not, their hearts are immediately filled with dread of the continued anger of the goddess. They then bring forward two sheep or goats, and then present to them a dish of toddy, and, if the toddy is drunk by the animals, they are quite assured of the speedy departure of the plague which is devastating their village. The sheep are then tied up till the next morning. In the meantime a sorcerer is brought to the front, and they enquire of him the determination of the goddess. After this they return to the village, and they all drink well, and the night is spent in dancing, in which the women join. The next morning the pandal and its inmate are removed to a site still farther away from the village, after which the fowl is killed over the image, on which some drops of blood are allowed to fall. The sheep then have garlands hung round their necks, and their heads are adorned with turmeric, and pots of cold water are poured over them. The deity is at the same time again asked whether she intends to leave them alone, and, if she is disposed to be favourable towards them, she replies by causing the sheep to shiver. The animals are immediately killed, the left ear and left leg being cut off and placed in the mouth, and the head cut off and left as an offering before the image. The rest of the sacrifice is then carried away, to be cooked and enjoyed by all the worshippers before they reach home, as their wives are not allowed to partake of the sacrificial feast.

“Another goddess or demoness, of which many stand in dread, is called a Pida, and her they propitiate in the month of December. All the men of the village gather together and collect from each house a handful of chōlam, which they give to the wife of the pūjāri, directing her to make bread with it for her husband. After [60]he has partaken of it, they bring pots of warm water and pour it over his head, and then all in the village spend some time in dancing. A chatty (pot) is brought after a time, in which are placed leaves of the Diospyros Embryopteris, and two young men carry it between them, suspended from a pole cut from the same tree, all around the village. The pūjāri, carrying a cock, accompanies them, and also the rest of the men of the village, each one carrying a staff cut from the above mentioned tree, with which he strikes the eaves of each house passed in their perambulations. When they have been all around the village, they all march off some little distance, and tie up the stick on which the pot is suspended to two neighbouring trees, and place their staves close by. The pūjāri sets to work to kill the cock, and they all beg the demoness, whom they suppose to have entered the pot, not to come to their village again. The pūjāri then cooks and eats the cock with food which has been supplied him, and the other worshippers also satisfy the cravings of hunger with food they have brought with them. On no account do they return home until after dark, lest the demoness should see the road to their village, and follow in their wake. Very frequently on these occasions, votive offerings, promised long before, are sacrificed and eaten by the pūjāri. It is not at all uncommon for a Koi to promise the Pida a seven-horned male (i.e., a cock) as a bribe to be let alone, a two-horned male (i.e., a goat) being set apart by more wealthy or more fervent suppliants.

“The Kois acknowledge that they worship the dēvatalu or the dayyamulu (demons of the mountains). The Korra Rāzu is supposed to be the deity who has supreme control over tigers, and a friend of mine once saw a small temple devoted to his worship a few miles [61]from the large village of Gollapalli, Bastar, but it did not seem to be held in very great respect. There is no Koi temple in any village near Dummagudem, and the Kois are seldom, if ever, to be found near a Hindu temple. Some time ago there was a small mud temple to the goddesses Sarlammā and Kommalammā at Pedda Nallapalli, and the head Koi of the village was the pūjāri, but he became a Christian, and the temple fell into ruins, and soon melted away. A few families have added to their own faith the worship of Siva, and many of them are proud of the appellation of Linga Kois.” “In times of drought,” Mr. Hemingway writes, “a festival to Bhīma, which lasts five days, is held. When rain appears, the Koyis sacrifice a cow or pig to their patron. Dancing plays an important part at all these feasts, and also at marriages. The men put on head-dresses of straw, into which buffalo horns are stuck, and accompany themselves with a kind of chant.”

“There is,” the Rev. J. Cain writes, “generally one vēlpu for each gens, and in a certain village there is the chief vēlpu for the whole tribe of Kois. When any of the inferior vēlpus are carried about, contributions in kind or cash are collected by its guardians almost exclusively from the members of the gens to which the vēlpu belongs. When the superior vēlpu is taken to any village, all the inferior vēlpus are brought, and, with the exception of two, are planted some little distance in front of their lord. There are two, however, which are regarded as lieutenants of the paramount power, and these are planted one on each side of their superior. As it was expressed to me, the chief vēlpu is like the Rāja of Bastar, these two are like his ministers of state, and the rest are like the petty zamindars (land-owners) under him. The largest share of the offerings goes to the [62]chief, the two supporters then claim a fair amount, and the remainder is equally divided amongst those of the third rank.... Ancestral worship prevails among the Kois, especially on the occasions when the vēlpu of the family is carried round. The vēlpu is a large three-cornered red cloth, with a number of figures of various ancestors roughly cut out of different coloured cloth, white, green, blue, or yellow, and stitched to the main cloth. Whenever any important male member of the family dies, a new figure is added to commemorate his services. It is usually kept in the custody of the leading man of the family, and taken round by him to all members of that family once a year, when each member is bound to give an offering to the vēlpu. No one belonging to a different family takes any part in the ceremonies. On the occasion of its being carried round, it is fixed to a long bamboo ornamented at the top with the hair from the tail of a yak, and with loudly sounding brass bells. On arriving at a village where there are a sufficient number of Kois of the particular family to make it worth while to stay, the priest in charge of the vēlpu and his attendant Dōli give due notice of their arrival, and, having planted the vēlpu in the ground, the night is spent by all the members of the family to which the vēlpu belongs in dancing and making merry to the sound of the drum, which is beaten by the Dōli only. The priest in charge has to fast all night, and keep himself ceremonially pure. In the morning they all proceed to the nearest stream or tank (pond), with the vēlpu in front carried by the priest, and there bathe, and also enjoy the fun of sprinkling each other with water to their hearts’ content. This done, they come up out of the water, plant the vēlpu on the bank, and send for the bullock to be sacrificed. When this is brought, its legs are tied [63]together, and it is then thrown on the ground, and the priest (or, if he is weak, a strong younger man) has to kill it at one blow. It is then cut up, and, after the attendant priest has received his share, it is divided amongst the attendant crowd, who spend the rest of the day in feasting and drinking. As a rule, no act of obeisance or worship is even paid to the vēlpu, unless the offering of money to the custodian be regarded as such. Sometimes a woman very desirous of having a child brings a cock, throws it down before the vēlpu and makes obeisance to it, but this is not a very common custom. The Dōlivandlu or Dōlollu always attend the vēlpu, and are present at all the marriage feasts, when they recite old stories, and sing national songs. They are not Kois, but really a section of the Māla caste, although they will not mix with the rest of the Mālas of their own family, excepting when on the Bastar plateau among the hill Kois. The Kois have very amusing stories as to how the hair from the tail of the yak is obtained. They say that the yak is a hairy animal which lives in a country far away, but that its great peculiarity is that it has only one leg, and that this leg has no joints in it. Being a very swift animal, it is impossible to capture it in any ordinary way, but, as it rests at night by leaning against one particular tree, the hunters carefully mark this tree, and some time during the day cut the trunk through as far as advisable, and watch the result. When night comes on, the animal returns to its resting place, leans against the tree, which is no longer able to give support to the yak, and both fall to the ground. The hunters immediately rush in, and seize their prey. A friend has supplied me with the following reference in ‘De Bello Gallico.’ They (the hunters) either undermine all the trees in that place at the roots, or cut them so far as to leave the external [64]appearance of a standing tree. Then the elk, which has no knots or joints, comes, leans, as usual, and down comes tree, elk and all.”

Concerning the vēlpus, Mr. Hemingway writes that “they consist of small pieces of metal, generally iron and less than a foot in length, which are kept in a hollow bamboo deposited in some wild and unfrequented spot. They are guarded with great secrecy by those in charge of them, and are only shown to the principal worshippers on the rare occasions when they are taken out to be adored. The Koyas are very reticent about them. Mr. Cain says that there is one supreme vēlpu, which is recognised as the highest by the whole Koya tribe, and kept hidden in the depths of Bastar. There are also vēlpus for each gatta, and for each family. The former are considered superior to the latter, and are less frequently brought out of their retreats. One of them called Lakkāla (or Lakka) Rāmu, which belongs either to the Āro or Perambōya gatta, is considered more potent than the others. It is ornamented with eyes of gold and silver, and is kept in a cave near Sitānagaram in the Bhadrāchalam taluk. The others are deposited in different places in the Bastar state. They all have names of their own, but are also known by the generic term Ādama Rāzu. Both the gatta and family vēlpus are worshipped only by members of the sept or family to which they appertain. They are taken round the country at intervals, to receive the reverence and gifts of their adherents. The former are brought out once in every three or four years, especially during widespread sickness, failure of crops, or cattle disease. An animal (generally a young bullock) is stabbed under the left shoulder, the blood is sprinkled over the deity, and the animal is next killed, and its liver is cut out and offered to the deity. A feast, which [65]sometimes lasts for two days, takes place, and the vēlpu is then put back in its hiding-place.

“At present,” the Rev. J. Cain writes, “the Kois around here (Dummagudem) have very few festivals, except one at the harvest of the zonna (Sorghum vulgare). Formerly they had one not only for every grain crop, but one when the ippa flowers were ready to be gathered, another when the pumpkins were ripe, at the first tapping of the palm tree for toddy, etc. Now, at the time the zonna crop is ripe and ready to be cut, they take a fowl into the field, kill it, and sprinkle its blood on any ordinary stone put up for the occasion, after which they are at liberty to partake of the new crop. In many villages they would refuse to eat with any Koi who has neglected this ceremony, to which they give the name Kottalu, which word is evidently derived from the Telugu word kotta (new). Rice-straw cords are hung on trees, to show that the feast has been observed.” In some places, Mr. Hemingway tells us, the victim is a sheep, and the first fruits are offered to the local gods, and to the ancestors. Another singular feast occurs soon after the chōlam (zonna) crop has been harvested. Early on the morning of that day, all the men of each village have to turn out into the forest to hunt, and woe betide the unlucky individual who does not bring home some game, be it only a bird or a mouse. All the women rush after him with cow-dung, mud or dirt, and pelt him out of their village, and he does not appear again in that village until the next morning. The hunter who has been most successful then parades the village with his game, and receives presents of paddy (rice) from every house. Mr. Vanstavern, whilst boring for coal at Beddadanolu, was visited by all the Koi women of the village, dressed up in their lords’ clothes, and they told [66]him that they had that morning driven their husbands to the forest, to bring home game of some kind or other. This quaint festival is said by Mr. Hemingway to be called Bhūdēvi Pandaga, or the festival of the earth goddess. When the samalu crop is ripe, the Kois summon the pūjāri on a previously appointed day, and collect from every house in the village a fowl and a handful of grain. The pūjāri has to fast all that night, and bathe early the next morning. After bathing, he kills the fowls gathered the previous evening in the names of the favourite gods, and fastens an ear of samalu to each house, and then a feast follows. In the evening they cook some of the new grain, and kill fresh fowls, which have not to be curried but roasted, and the heart, liver, and lights of which are set apart as the especial food of their ancestral spirits, and eaten by every member of each household in their name. The bean feast is an important one, as, until it is held, no one is allowed to gather any beans. On the second day before the feast, the village pūjāri must eat only bread. The day before, he must fast the whole twenty-four hours, and, on the day of the feast, he must eat only rice cooked in milk, with the bird offered in sacrifice. All the men of the village accompany the pūjāri to a neighbouring tree, which must be a Terminalia tomentosa, and set up a stone, which they thus dedicate to the goddess Kodalamma. Every one is bound to bring for the pūjāri a good hen and a seer of rice, and for himself a cock and half a seer of rice. The pūjāri also demands from them two annas as his sacrificing fee. Each worshipper then brings his cock to the pūjāri, who holds it over grains of rice which have been sprinkled before the goddess, and, if the bird pecks at the rice, good luck is ensured for the coming year, whilst, if perchance the bird pecks three times, the [67]offerer of that particular cock can scarcely contain himself for joy. If the bird declines to touch the grains, then ill-luck is sure to visit the owner’s house during the ensuing year.

“The Kois have but little belief in death from natural causes. Some demon or demoness has brought about the death by bringing fever or small-pox, or some other fell disease, and this frequently at the instigation of an enemy of the deceased. In days gone-by, the taking of the ordeal to clear oneself was the common practice, but at present it is quite the exception. But, if there are very suspicious circumstances that ill-will has brought about the death, the friends of the deceased assemble, place the corpse on a cot, and make straight for the suspected enemy. If he or she is unfortunate enough to be at home, a trial takes place. A pot is partly filled with water, on the top of which ghee (clarified butter) and milk are poured, and then it is placed on the fire. As soon as it begins to boil, stones are thrown in, and the accused is summoned to take them out. If this is done without any apparent injury to the unfortunate victim, a verdict of not guilty is returned; but, if there are signs of the hand being at all scalded or burnt, the unhappy wight has to eat a bone of the deceased, which is removed and pounded, and mixed with boiled rice and milk. In days gone-by, the sentence was death.” According to Mr. Hemingway, when a death occurs, “an enquiry is held as to who is guilty. Some male member of the family, generally the nephew of the deceased, throws coloured rice over the corpse as it lies stretched on the bed, pronouncing as he does so the names of all the known sorcerers who live in the neighbourhood. It is even now solemnly asserted that, when the name of the wizard responsible is pronounced, [68]the bed gets up, and moves towards the house or village where he resides.” “For some months,” the Rev. J. Cain continues, “a poor old Koi woman was living in our compound, because she had been driven out of village after village in Bastar from the suspicion that she was the cause of the death of more than one relative, and she was afraid that she might fall a victim to their just(?) vengeance. The fear that some envious person will persuade a demon to plague them affects their whole life and conduct. Over and over again we have been told by men and women, when we have remonstrated with them on account of their scanty attire ‘Yes, it is quite true that we have abundance of clothes at home, but, if we were always to wear them, some enemy or other would prevail on a demon to take possession of us, and kill us.’ A young Koi was once employed to teach a few children in his own village, but, alas, ere long he became unwell of some strange disease, which no medicine could remove. As a last resource, a diviner was called in, who made a careful diagnosis of the case, and the illness was declared to have been brought on by a demoness at the instigation of some enemy, who was envious of the money which the lad had received for teaching. I once saw one of these diviners at work, discovering the sickness which had laid prostrate a strong man. The diviner had in his hand a leaf from an old palmyra leaf book, and, as he walked round and round the patient, he pretended to be reading. Then he took up a small stick, and drew a number of lines on the ground, after which he danced and sang round and round the sick man, who sat looking at him, evidently much impressed with his performance. Suddenly he made a dart at the man, and, stooping down, bit him severely in two or three places in the back. Then, rushing to the [69]front, he produced a few grains which he said he had found in the man’s back, and which were evidently the cause of the sickness. In the case of the young man before mentioned, the diviner produced a little silver, which he declared to be a sure sign that the sickness was connected with the silver money he was receiving for teaching. The diviners have to wear their hair long, like Samson, and, if it falls off or is cut short, their power is supposed to leave them.” It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that in some parts, when any one falls ill, the professional sorcerer is consulted, and he reads both the cause and the remedy in a leaf platter of rice, which he carries thrice round the invalid.

The name Chedipe (prostitute) is applied to sorceresses among various classes in the Godāvari district. She is believed to ride on a tiger at night over the boundaries of seven villages, and return home at early morn. When she does not like a man, she goes to him bare-bodied at dead of night, the closed doors of the house in which he is sleeping opening before her. She sucks his blood by putting his toe in her mouth. He will then be motionless and insensible like a corpse. Next morning he feels intoxicated, as if he had taken ganja (Cannabis sativa), and remains in that condition all day. If he does not take medicine from one skilled in treating such cases, he will die. If he is properly treated, he will be as well as ever in about ten days. If he makes no effort to get cured, the Chedipe will molest him again and again, and, becoming gradually emaciated, he will die. When a Chedipe enters a house, all those who are awake will become insensible, those who are seated falling down as if they had taken a soporific drug. Sometimes she drags out the tongue of the intended victim, who will die at once. At other times, slight abrasions will be found on [70]the skin of the intended victim, and, when the Chedipe puts pieces of stick thereon, they burn as if burnt by fire. Sometimes she will hide behind a bush, and, undressing there, fall on any passer-by in the jungle, assuming the form of a tiger with one of the four legs in human form. When thus disguised, she is called Marulupuli (enchanting tiger). If the man is a brave fellow, and endeavours to kill the Chedipe with any instrument he may have with him, she will run away; and, if a man belonging to her village detects her mischief, she will assume her real form, and answer meekly that she is only digging roots. The above story was obtained by a native revenue official when he visited a Koyi village, where he was told that a man had been sentenced to several years’ imprisonment for being one of a gang who had murdered a Chedipe for being a sorceress.

In the Godāvari district, a sorcerer known as the Ejjugadu (male physician) is believed, out of spite or for payment, to kill another by invoking the gods. He goes to a green tree, and there spreads muggu or chunam (lime) powder, and places an effigy of the intended victim thereon. He also places a bow and arrow there, and recites certain spells, and calls on the gods. The victim is said to die in a couple of days. But, if he understands that the Ejjugadu has thus invoked the gods, he may inform another Ejjugadu, who will carry out similar operations under another tree. His bow and arrow will go to those of the first Ejjugadu, and the two bows and arrows will fight as long as the spell remains. The man will then be safe. The second Ejjugadu can give the name of the first, though he has never known him.

“The leading man,” the Rev. J. Cain writes, “of the Koyi samatu is called the Samatu Dora, and he is assisted [71]by two others, who are called Pettandarulu. The duties of the Samatu Dora are to preside over all meetings, to settle all tribal disputes, and to inflict fines for all breaches of caste rules, of which fines he always receives a certain share. The office is not necessarily hereditary, and the appointment is generally confirmed by the landlord of the majority of the villages, be the landlord the Zemindar or the Government.”

The Koyis say that their dance is copied from Bhīma’s march after a certain enemy. The dance is described by Mr. G. F. Paddison as being “a very merry business. They sing for a couple of beats, and then take two steps round, and sing again. They first sang to us a song in their own lingo, and then broke into Telugu ‘Dora Bābu yemi istavu’—What will the great man give us? They then burst into a delightful Autolycus song, ‘Will you give us a cloth, a jewel for the hair?‘ and so on.”

For the following account of a dance at the Bhūdēvi Pandaga festival at Ankagudem in the Polavaram tāluk of the Godāvari district, I am indebted to Mr. N. E. Marjoribanks. “Permission having been given to dance in our presence, the whole village turned out, and came to our camp. First came about half a dozen young men, got up in their best clothes, with big metal ear-rings, basket caps adorned with buffalo horns and pendants of peacock skins (the neck feathers), and scanty torn cloths, and provided, some with barrel-shaped tom-toms, others with old rusty flintlocks, and swords. Next came all the adult women, two by two, each pair clasping hands, and hanging on to the next pair by holding their waist-cloths with their free hands. The young men kept up a steady monotonous beat on their drums, and went through various pantomimes of the chase, e.g., shooting [72]and cutting up an animal, or a fight between two bulls. The women sang a chaunt, and came along slowly, taking one step back after two steps forwards, copied by the village old men, women, and children. At the camp, the women went round in this fashion in circles, the pantomime among the men continuing, and each vying with the others in suggesting fresh incidents. The women then went through a series of figures. First the older ones stood in a circle with their arms intertwined, and the younger girls perched aloft, standing astraddle on their shoulders. Like this the circle proceeded half round, and then back again till some of the smaller girls looked as if they would split in half, their discomfort causing great merriment among the others. Next all stood in a circle, and jumped round, two steps one way and then back. This was varied by a backwards and forwards movement, the chaunt continuing all the time. Inām (present of money) having been duly disbursed, the double chain of women went round the camp twice, and made off to the village, all standing and raising a shout twice as they turned out of the circle to go. The next day, we were told that the men of the village were all going hunting in the forest. About the middle of the day, we saw a procession approaching as on the previous day, but it consisted entirely of women, the drummers and swordsmen being women dressed up as men. The chaunt and dance were as before, except that the pantomime abounded in the most indecent gestures and attitudes, all illustrative of sexual relations. One girl slipped (or pretended to) and fell. Whereupon, one of those playing a man’s part fell upon her to ravish her. A rescue ensued amidst roars of merriment, and the would-be ravisher was in process of being stripped when our modesty compelled us to call an interval. In the [73]evening the men returned unsuccessful, and, we were told (but did not see it), were pelted with dung and rubbish. The next day they went out again, and so did we. Our beats yielded nothing, and we returned to find to our horror the women of the village awaiting our return. Fortunately we had noticed some whistling teal on a tank, and had shot some for the pot. I verily believe this glorious bag was our salvation from dire humiliation. The same dance and antics were repeated round the bodies of the two tigers and panther that we shot during our stay. The Koyis insisted on singeing the whiskers of the beasts, saying we should never get any more if this was not done. Of course we reduced the ceremony to the barest form.” I gather that, if the Koyis shoot a sāmbar (deer) or ‘bison,’ the head is stuck up on the outskirts of the village, and there are very few villages, which have not got one or two such trophies. Besides beating for game, the Koyis sit up at night over salt-licks or water, and thus secure their game.”

It is recorded in the Catalogue Raisonné of Oriental Manuscripts25 that “the Coya people reside within their forest boundaries. If any traveller attempt to pluck fruit from any tree, his hand is fastened to the spot, so that he cannot move; but if, on seeing any one of the Coya people, he calls out to that person, explaining his wishes, and gets permission, then he can take the fruit and move away, while the Coya forester, on the receipt of a small roll of tobacco leaf, is abundantly gratified. Besides which, the Coya people eat snakes. About forty years since, a Brāhman saw a person cooking snakes for food, and, expressing great astonishment, was told by the forester that these were mere worms; that, if [74]he wished to see a serpent, one should be shown him; but that, as for themselves, secured by the potent charms taught them by Ambikēsvarer, they feared no serpents. As the Brāhman desired to see this large serpent, a child was sent with a bundle of straw and a winnowing fan, who went, accompanied by the Brāhman, into the depths of the forest, and, putting the straw on the mouth of a hole, commenced winnowing, when smoke of continually varying colours arose, followed by bright flame, in the midst of which a monstrous serpent having seven heads was seen. The Brāhman was speechless with terror at the sight, and, being conducted back by the child, was dismissed with presents of fruits.”

The Mission school at Dummagudem in the Godāvari district, where the Rev. J. Cain has laboured so long and so well, was primarily intended for Koyis, but I gather that it has been more successful in dealing with the Mālas. In 1905, the lower primary school at Butchampet in the Kistna district was chiefly attended by Koyi children.

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

Krishnavakakkar.—The Krishnavakakkars are, in Travancore, practically confined to the southern taluks of Eraniel and Kalkulam. The caste name literally means belonging to Krishna, but probably means nothing more than belonging to the pastoral class, as the titular suffixes, Ayan and Acchi, to the names of males and females, found in the early settlement accounts of the State, indicate. In modern times the title Pillai has been adopted. By some castes, e.g., the Shānars, they are called Kuruppu.

The tradition is that, in ancient times, a large section of them migrated from Ambādi, the place of Krishna’s [75]nativity and early childhood, to Conjeeveram, in the vicinity of which place there is still a village called Ayarpati. Here they resided for some time, and then seventy-two families, seeking fresh fields and pastures new, proceeded to Kērala, and presented an image of Krishna, which they had brought from northern India to the reigning king Mahārāja Udaya Martanda Varma. According to another account, the recipient of the image was one Pallivana Perumal at an earlier date. The Mahārāja, according to the legend, observing the interesting customs of the immigrants, and especially their devotion to Krishna, called them Krishnanvaka, and ordered them to serve in the temple of Krishna (Tiruvampadi within the pagoda of Sri Padmanābha at Trivandrum). Their leader was given the title of Ananthapadmanābha Kshētra Pallava Rāyan. This migration is supposed to have occurred in the first year of the Malabar era. A neet, or royal grant, engraved on a copper plate, was issued to them, by which they were entrusted with the management of the temple, and commanded to live at Vanchiyūr in Trivandrum. In the pollution consequent on a birth or death among the seventy-two families, the image of Krishna, which they had brought, was believed to share for three days as a distant relation, and, in consequence, the daily ceremonies at the temple were constantly interrupted. They were told to remove to a place separated from Trivandrum by at least three rivers, and settled in the Eraniel and Kalkulam taluks. They were, as a tax in kind for lands given to them for cultivation, ordered to supply peas for the Tiruvampati temple. During the reign of Martanda Varma the Great, from 904 to 933 M.E., successive neets were issued, entrusting them with diverse duties at this temple. Such, briefly, is the [76]tradition as to the early history of the caste in Travancore. The title Pallava Rāyan (chief of the Pallavans) seems to indicate the country, from which they originally came. They must have been originally a pastoral class, and they probably proceeded from Conjeeveram, the capital of the Pallavas, to Travancore, where, being worshippers of Vishnu, they were entrusted with the discharge of certain duties at the shrine of Krishna in Trivandrum.

The Krishnavakakkar are not strict vegetarians, as fish constitutes a favourite diet. Intoxicating liquors are forbidden, and rarely drunk. In respect to clothing and ornaments, those who follow the makkathāyam system of inheritance (from father to son) differ from those who follow the marumakkathāyam system (through the female line), the former resembling the Vellālas in these matters, and the latter the Nāyars. The only peculiarity about the former is the wearing of the mukkuthi (nose ornament), characteristic till recently of all Nāyar women in south Travancore, in addition to the ordinary ornaments of Chettis and other Tamilians. Widows, too, like the latter, are dressed in white, and the pampadam and melitu in the ears form their only ornaments. They tie up their hair, not in front like Nāyar women, nor at the back like Tamil women, but in the middle line above the crown—the result of a blend between an indigenous and exotic custom. The hair is passed through a cadjan ring secured by a ring of beads, and wound round it. The ring is decorated with arali (Nerium odorum) flowers. Tattooing was very common among women in former times, but is going out of fashion.

They worship both Siva and Vishnu, and special adoration is paid to Subramaniya, for whose worship a great shrine is dedicated at Kumara Koil. Sasta, [77]Bhutattan, and Amman have small shrines, called ilankams, dedicated to them. They live in large groups, each presided over by a headman called Kāryastan, who is assisted by an accountant and treasurer. The offices are elective, and not hereditary. Their priest is known as Karnatan or Āsān. At present there is apparently only one family of Karnatans, who live at Mepra in the Eraniel tāluk. The female members of this priestly family are known as Mangalyama, and do not intermarry or feed with the general community. The marumakkathāyam Krishnavakakkar speak Malayālam, while the makkathāyis speak a very corrupt Tamil dialect intermixed with Malayālam.

The names of the seventy-two houses of the caste are remembered, like the gōtras of the Brāhmans, and marriage between members of the same house are absolutely forbidden. Among the marumakkathāyam section, the tālikettu is celebrated in childhood, and supplemented by the actual wedding after the girl reaches puberty. On the marriage day, the bridegroom goes in procession to the house of the bride, sword in hand, and martially clad, probably in imitation of Krishna on his marriage expedition to the Court of Kundina. On the third day of the marriage ceremonies, the bride’s party go to the house of the bridegroom with an air of burning indignation, and every effort is made to appease them. They finally depart without partaking of the proffered hospitality. On the seventh day, the newly-married couple return to the bride’s house. The custom is said to be carried out as symbolising the act of bride-capture resorted to by their ancestor Krishna in securing the alliance of Rukmani. It is generally believed that fraternal polyandry once prevailed among these people, and even to-day a widow may be taken as wife by a [78]brother of the deceased husband, even though he is younger than herself. Issue, thus procreated, is the legitimate issue of the deceased, and acquires full right of inheritance to his property. If one brother survives the deceased, his widow is not required to remove her marriage ornament during life.

The origin of the marumakkathāyam custom is alleged to have been that the first immigrants came with a paucity of women, and had to contract alliances with the indigenous Travancoreans. At the present day only about a hundred families follow the law of inheritance through the female line. Their children are known by the name of the mother’s illam (house). The male, but not the female members of makkathāyam and marumakkathāyam sections, will eat together. A daughter, in default of male issue, succeeds to the property of her father, as opposed to his widow. The Krishnavakakkar believe that, in these matters, they imitate the Pāndavas. A peculiar feature of their land-tenure is what is known as utukuru—a system which exists to a smaller extent among the Shānars of Eraniel and the adjacent tāluks. In the ayakkettu or old settlement register, it is not uncommon to find one garden registered in the name of several persons quite unconnected with each other by any claim of relationship. In some instances the ground is found registered in the name of one person, and the trees on it in the name of another.

The dead are generally cremated, and the ashes taken to the foot of a milky tree, and finally thrown into the sea. On the sixteenth day, the Āsān is invited to perform the purificatory ceremony. A quantity of paddy (unhusked rice), raw rice, and cocoanuts, are placed on a plantain leaf with a cup of gingelly (Sesamum) oil, which is touched by the Āsān, and poured into the hands of [79]the celebrants, who, after an oil bath, are free from pollution.26

Kshatriya.—The second, or ruling and military caste of the four castes of Manu. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, it is recorded that “the term Kshatriya is, of course, wholly inapplicable to the Dravidian races, who might with as much, perhaps more, accuracy call themselves Turks. There possibly are a few representatives of the old Kshatriya castes, but the bulk of those who figure in the returns under this head are pure Dravidian people. The claim to the title is not confined to the old military classes desirous of asserting their former position, for we find it put forward by such castes as Vannias and Shānāns, the one a caste of farmers and labourers, the other toddy-drawers. It is not possible to distribute these pseudo-Kshatriyas among their proper castes, as 70,394 of them have given Kshatriya as the sub-division also.” It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “Parasurāma is said to have slain all the Kshatriyas seven times over, but 80,000 persons have returned themselves as such in this Presidency alone. Strictly speaking, there are very few persons in the Presidency who have any real title to the name, and it has been returned mainly by the Pallis or Vanniyas of Vizagapatam, Godāvari, and Chingleput, who say they are Agnikula Kshatriyas, by the Shānāns of Tinnevelly, and by some Mahrātis in South Canara. In Tinnevelly, Kammas and Balijas have also returned the name.” It is further recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that the castes grouped under the head Kshatriya are “the Arasus, Rājaputs, Coorgs, and Sikhs. To the Arasu section belongs the Royal [80]Family of Mysore.” Some Rāchevars style themselves Arya Kshatriyalu.

For the following note on Malayāla ‘Kshatriyas,’ I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. There is an old Sanskrit verse, which describes eight classes of Kshatriyas as occupying Kērala from very early times, namely, Bhupala or Mahārāja, as those of Travancore and Cochin, Rājaka or Rāja, as those of Mavelikkara and Cranganore, Kosi or Koil Tampurān, Puravān or Tampan, Sri Purogama or Tirumulppād, Bhandari or Pandarattil, Audvahika or Tirumulppād, and Cheta or Sāmanta. The Sāmantas cannot be looked upon as Malayāla Kshatriyas proper. The indigenous Kshatriyas of Kērala are divided into four well distinguishable septs, viz., the Koil Pandala, the Rāja, the Tampan; and the Tirumulppād. The total number of Malayāla Kshatriyas in Travancore is 1,575, the largest number living in the tāluks of Tiruvella, Vaikam, and Mavelikara. Tampans live mostly at Vaikam, and Tirumulppāds at Shertallay and Tiruvella. The remaining two septs are not so much caste septs as isolated groups of families. Koil Pandala literally means the keeper of the royal treasury. Tampan is a corruption of Tampurān, the latter being a title directly applied to the Rājas, while the term Tirumulppād, in its literal sense, conveys the idea of those who wait before kings. Women are known as Tumpurattis in the first two, as Tampattis in the third, and Nampishthatiris in the fourth division. The Pantalam Rājas have the title of Sriviradhara, and those of Mullanikkadu of Narasimha.

According to immemorial tradition, Koil Tampurāns were the nephews of the Chēraman Perumāls or viceroys of Chēra, who ruled at Cranganore, their earliest residence being Beypore in British Malabar, where three or four [81]families of this sept lived at the beginning of the Christian era. From one of these families, male members were invited about 300 M.E., for marrying the ladies of the Venadswarupam, i.e., the Travancore royal house. They began to live at Kilimanur in the Chirayinkil tāluk, six miles from Attingal, where the female members of the royal family permanently resided. In 963 M.E., the year in which Tīpū Sultān invaded Malabar, eight persons, five females and three males, belonging to the Alyankodu Kovilakam in North Malabar fled, and found shelter in Travancore. All their expenses were commanded to be met from the State treasury. As the five women were only cousins and not uterine sisters, one of them removed herself to the rural village Kirtipuram near Kandiyur in the Mavelikkara tāluk, and thence to Grāmam, a little further in the interior. Another, in course of time, settled at Pallam in Kottayam, and a third at Paliyakkara in Tiruvella, while the fourth, having no issue, stayed with the youngest at the Nirazhi palace of Changanacheri. This last lady gave birth to five children, being three females and two males. The first of these branches removed to Anantapuram in Kartikapalli in 1040, and the second to Chemprol in Tiruvella in 1041, while the third continued to reside at Changanacheri. After 1040 M.E., three more Koil Pandala families immigrated from British Malabar, and settled at Cherukol, Karamma, and Vatakkematham. These, however, are not so important as the previous ones. As already stated, the Kilimanur Koil Tampurāns were among these the earliest settlers in Travancore, and a whole property (revenue village) was granted to them in freehold in 1728 A.D., in recognition of the sacrifice a member of the family made in saving the life of a Travancore prince from the murderous attack of the [82]Ettuveetil Pillamar. The first family of Kolasvarupam Rājas immigrated into Travancore in the fifth century M.E. As the Travancore royal house then stood in need of adoption, arrangements were made through a Koil Tampurān of the Tattari Kovilakam to bring two princesses for adoption from Kolattunad, and the first family of Rājas, known as the Putupalli Kovilakam, settled at Kartikapalli. The family is now extinct, as the last member died in 1033 M.E. The next family that migrated was Cheriyakovilakam between 920 and 930, also invited for purposes of adoption. These latter lived at Aranmula. The third series of migrations were during the invasion of Malabar by Tīpū Sultān in 964 M.E., when all the Rājas living at the time went over to Travancore, though, after the disturbance was over, many returned home. The Rājas of the Kolasvarupam began to settle permanently in the country, as they could claim relationship with the reigning sovereigns, and were treated by them with brotherly affection. There were only two branches at the beginning, namely, Pallikovilakam and Udayamangalam. The families of Mavelikara, Ennaykkad and Prayikkara are divisions of the Chengakkovilakam house. The Udayamangalam house has branched off into three divisions, Mittil, whose descendants now live at Mariyapalli, Nedumprum, and Kartikapalli. Naduvilekkovilakam members live at Perinjel in Aranmula, and Cheriyakovilakam, whose members are divided into five other families, in the same locality. No branch of the Udayamangalam house resides in British Malabar. Some of these branches even now own large estates in that collectorate. There are two other important families of Rājas in Travancore, viz., those of Pantalam and Punjat. Both of them are believed to have been related to the early Pāndyan [83]kings. The reason alleged for the immigration of the Pantalam Rājas into Travancore is the persecution of a Nayak minister in mediæval times, who compelled them to change their mode of inheritance from marumakkathāyam (in the female line) to makkathāyam (from father to son), and then marry his daughter. They are supposed to have sojourned at Sivagiri and Tenkāsi in the Tinnevelly district on their way to Travancore. Ilattur in the Shenkottah tāluk originally belonged to them, but was afterwards taken over by Travancore in default of payment of the annual subsidy. Tampans are believed by tradition to have had territorial sovereignty in Kērala, until they were deprived of it by the Ilayetasvarupam kings. This does not appear to have any basis of truth, as the Ilayetasvarupam kings lived in Central Travancore, while the Tampans live in the north, where the former are never known to have led any invasion. In mediæval times, both Tampans and Tirumalppāds were invariably commanders of armies. With the invasion of Malabar by Tīpū Sultān, many sought refuge in the kingdom of Travancore, and continued to live here after the passing of the storm.

The Malayāla Kshatriyas are as a class learned. Both men and women are, in the main, accomplished Sanskrit scholars. Mr. Kerla Varma, C.S.I., Valiyakoil Tampurān, a finished poet and an accomplished patron of letters, and Mr. Ravi Varma, the talented artist, are both Koil Tampurāns. The houses of the Koil Tampurāns and Rājas are known as kottarams or kovilakams, i.e., palaces, while those of the Tampans and Tirumalppāds are known as kovilakams and mathams. The Malayāla Kshatriyas resemble the Brāhmans in their food and drink. The males dress like the Nambūtiris, while the dress and ornaments of the [84]women are like those of other classes in Malabar There are, however, three special ornaments which the Kshatriya ladies particularly wear, viz., cheru-tāli, entram, and kuzhal. The Koil Pandalas and Rājas are landlords of considerable wealth, and a few have entered the Civil Service of the State. The Tampans and Tirumalppāds, besides being landlords and agriculturists, are personal servants of the ruling families of Kērala, the latter holding this position to even a greater extent than the former. The Kshatriya personal attendants of the Maharājas of Travancore serve them with characteristic fidelity and devotion.

The Malayāla Kshatriyas are a particularly religious community. In a place within their houses, called tēvarappura or the room for religious worship, the Vaishnavite sālagrāma and Saivite linga are kept together with the images of other deities, and Brāhmans officiate at their worship. Ganapati pūja (worship), and antinamaskaram are regularly observed.

As all the Koil Tampurāns belong to one sept or gōtra, that of Visvamitra, and all the Rājas to another, that of Bhargava, neither of these divisions are permitted to marry among themselves. The Tirumalppāds also, with their local divisions such as Ancherri, Koyikkal, Plamtanam, and Kannezham, own Visvamitra, and hence do not marry among themselves. As for the Tampans, all the families belonging to that group trace their descent to a common ancestor, and belong to the same sept as the Koil Tampurāns and Tirumalppāds. As a consequence, while the Koil Tampurattis are married to Nambūtiri husbands, the Koil Tampurāns themselves take wives from the families of Rājas. Rājas may keep Nāyar or Sāmanta ladies as mistresses, the same being the case with the Tampans and Tirumalppāds also. The [85]Rānis of Pantalam take Nambūtiri husbands, while Tampan and Tirumalppād women live with any class of Brāhmans. No Kshatriya lady is permitted to leave her home for that of her husband, and so no grihaprevesa ceremony prevails among them. Thirteen is the proper age for marrying girls, but the marriage may be postponed until the choice of a fit husband is made. In the branches of the Kolattunad family, girls who attain puberty as maids are obliged to keep a vow, in honour of Ganapati.

The Tampan and Tirumalppād women, as also those of the Pantalam family, have their tālis (marriage badge) tied by Aryappattars. Remarriage of widows is permitted. Polygamy is rare. Divorce may take place at the will of either party, and prevails largely in practice. The Rājas make a donation of Rs. 50 to 70 as stridhanam, excepting those of Pantalam, who only pay about Rs. 35.

Some time before the auspicious hour for the marriage of a Koil Tampuratti, the Brāhmanipattu, or recitation of certain Purānic songs by a female of the Brāhmani caste, begins. Four lighted lamps are placed in the middle of the hall, with a fifth dedicated to Ganapati in the centre. While these songs are being sung, the bride appears in the tattu dress with a brass minu and a bunch of flowers in her hand, and sits on a wooden seat kept ready for the purpose. The songs generally relate to the conception of Devaki, and the birth of Krishna. Then a Nāyar of the Illam sept waves a pot containing cocoanut, flowers, burning wicks, etc., before the bride, after which she rises to wash her feet. At this point the bridegroom arrives, riding on an elephant, with a sword in his hand, and the procession is conducted with much ceremony and ostentation. He then bathes, and two pieces of cloth, to be worn by him thereafter, are touched [86]by the bride. Wearing them, the bridegroom approaches the bride, and presents her with a suit of clothes known as the mantrakoti. One of the clothes is worn as a tattu, and with the other the whole body is covered. The mother of the bride gives her a brass mirror and a garland, both of which she takes in her hand to the altar where the marriage is to be performed. After the punyaha, accompanied by a few preliminary hōmas or sacrifices to the fire, by the Nambūtiri family priest, the first item in the ceremony, known as mukhadarsana or seeing each other, begins. The bride then removes the cloth covering her body. The next events are udakapurva, panigrahana, and mangalyadharana, which are respectively the presentation by the bride of water to the bridegroom, his taking her hand in token of the union, and tying the tāli round the neck of the bride. The next item is the saptapadi (seven feet), and the last dikshaviruppu, peculiar to the Malayālam Kshatriyas. A particular room is gaily decorated, and a long piece of white cotton cloth is spread on the floor. Upon this a black carpet is spread, and a lighted lamp, which should never be extinguished, placed in the vicinity. The bride has to remain in this room throughout the marriage. On the marriage night commences the aupasana, or joint sacrifice to the fire. On the fourth day are the mangalasnana or auspicious bath, and procession through the town. On that night consummation takes place. The procession of the bridegroom (māppilapurappat) to the house of the bride is a noticeable item. The brother of the bride receives him at the gate, and, after washing his feet, informs him that he may bathe and marry the girl. The uduku-purva rite is performed by the brother himself. When the bridegroom leaves the marriage hall with the bride, an armed [87]Pandala stops them, and a fixed present is given to him. Every rite is performed according to the method prescribed by Bodhayana among the Koil Tampurāns and Rājas, the family at Pantalam alone following the directions of Asvalayana. On the fourth day, the contracting couple bathe, and wear clothes previously dipped in turmeric water. At night, while the Brāhmani song is going on, they sit on a plank, where jasmine flowers are put on, and the goddess Bhagavathi is worshipped. The bride’s maternal uncle ties a sword round her loins, which is immediately untied by the bridegroom in token of the fact that he is her future supporter. Panchamehani is a peculiar rite on the fifth day, when an atti (Ficus, sp.) tree is decorated, and an offering of food made on the grass before it. The couple also make a pretence of catching fish. In modern times, the Pantalam Rājas do not patronise the songs of the Brāhmani, and, among them, the panchamehani is conspicuous by its absence.

Women are in theory the real owners of property, though in practice the eldest male has the management of the whole. There is no division of property, but, in some cases, certain estates are specially allotted for the maintenance of specific members. The authorities of the Malayāla Kshatriyas in all matters of social dispute are the Nambūtiri Vaidikas.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is kept in a room twelve feet apart from the rest for a period of three days. On the fourth day, after a bath, she puts on a new cloth, and walks, with a brass mirror in her hand, to her house. Among the Kolattunad Rājas there are a few additional rites, including the Brāhmani’s song. The pumsavana and simanta are performed by the family priest. On the birth of a child, the jatakarma is performed, when women [88]mix honey and clarified butter with gold, to be given to the child. On the twelfth day, the Nambūtiri priest performs the namakarna, after a purifying ceremony which terminates the birth pollution. The eldest child is generally named Rāja Rāja Varma. Udaya Varma and Martanda Varma are names found among the Rājas, but absent among the Koil Tampurāns. Martanda Varma was once exclusively used only among the members of the Travancore Royal Family. The full style and titles of the present Maharāja of Travancore are His Highness the Maharāja Sir Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchi Bala Rāma Varma, Kulasekhara Kiritapati Sultan Manne Maharāja Rāja Rāmarāja Bahadur Samsher Jung, G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E. Raghava Varma is a name peculiar to the Pantalam Rājas. Women are, as in the case of Tirumalppāds and Tampans, called Amba, Ambika, Ambalika, Mangala, etc.

The annaprasana and nishkramana are performed consecutively on the same day. The mother takes the child to the foot of a jak (Artocarpus integrifolia) tree, and, going thrice round it, touches it with the leg of the child, and then dips a golden ring in the payasa, and applies it to the child’s lips. The same act is then repeated by the maternal uncle, father, and next of kin. The Yatrakali is attended with much éclat during the night. The upanayana, or investiture with the sacred thread, takes place as late as the sixteenth year. As a preliminary rite on the same day, the chaula or tonsure ceremony is performed. It is formally done by the Nambūtiri priest in the capacity of guru or preceptor, and left to be completed by the Mārān. The priest then invests the boy with the thread, and, with the sacrificial fire as lord and witness, initiates him into the Gāyatri prayer. All Kshatriyas are obliged to repeat this prayer [89]ten times morning and evening. On the fourth day, the youth listens to a few Vaidic hymns recited by the priest. There is not the prolonged course of discipline of a Brāhmanical Brāhmachari, such as the Nambūtiris so religiously observe. The samavartana, or completion of the pupilage ceremony, takes place on the fourth day. The ceremony of proceeding to Benares, the pre-eminent seat of learning in ancient days, which is the natural after-event of the Vaidic pupilage, is then gone through, as in the case of Brāhmans. A would-be father-in-law intercedes, and requests the snataka to bless his daughter, and settle in life as a grihastha. The Nambūtiri priest then reminds the boy of his duty as a Kshatriya, and gives him a sword as a symbol of his pre-ordained function in society. He then becomes a grihastha, and may chew betel leaf. The Saivite panchakshara, and the Vaishnavite ashtakshara are also taught, and are invariably recited after the performance of the daily duties. For girls only the chaula is performed, and that along with her marriage. On the occasion of birthdays, the family priest performs the ayushya hōma, and shashtipurti, or celebration of the sixtieth birthday, is also observed as an important religious occasion.

The funeral ceremonies are almost the same as those of Nambūtiris. When a Koil Tampurān dies, he is placed on the bare floor, some hymns being recited in his ears. The corpse is placed on a stretcher made of plantain stems, and the head is touched with a razor in token of shaving. It is bathed, covered with a new cloth, and decorated with flowers and sandal paste. Kūsa grass is received at the hands of a Mārān. The funeral rites are performed by the nephews. Pollution is observed for eleven days and nights. A religious vow is observed for a year. The offering to the spirit of the [90]deceased is not in the form of cooked food, but of presents to Brāhmans. All the Malayāla Kshatriyas are adherents of the Yajur-vēda. The anniversary of maternal grandmothers, and even sisters is punctiliously observed. If a maternal aunt or grandaunt dies without children, their srāddhas must be performed as for the rest.

The Malayāla Kshatriyas hold rank next to the Brāhmans, and above the Ilayatus. They are permitted to take their meal in the same row with the Brāhmans, and receive prasada from the temples directly from the priest, and standing at the right side of the inner gate.

Further information concerning the Malayāla Kshatriyas is contained in an article by Mr. K. Rama Varma Rāja,27 who concludes as follows:—“The Kshatriya community is an intermediate caste between the Brāhmin (Namburi) and the Sudra (Nair) classes, and has affinities to both; to the former in matters of ablution, ceremonies, food and drink, and to the latter in those of real matrimonial relations and inheritance, i.e., the constitution and propagation of the family.... The intermediate caste must be the Aryans more Dravidianised, or the Dravidians more Aryanised, that is, the Aryans degraded or the Dravidians elevated, more probably the latter.”

It is recorded,28 in a note on the ancestry of the Rājas of Jeypore, that “the family chronicles ascribe a very ancient origin to the line of the Jeypore Zamindars. Beginning with Kanakasēna of the solar race, a general and feudatory of the king of Kashmir, they trace the pedigree through thirty-two generations down to Vināyaka Deo, a younger son, who left Kashmir rather than hold a subordinate position, went to Benares, did penance [91]to Kāsi Visvēsvarasvāmi there, and was told by the god in a dream to go to the kingdom of Nandapuram belonging to the Silavamsam line, of which he would become king. Vināyaka Deo, continues the legend, proceeded thither, married the king’s daughter, succeeded in 1443 A.D. to the famous throne of thirty-two steps there, and founded the family of Jeypore. Vināyaka Deo and his six successors, say the family papers, had each only one son, and the sixth of them, Vīra Vikrama (1637–69) accordingly resolved to remove his residence elsewhere. The astrologers and wise men reported that the present Jeypore was ‘a place of the Kshatriya class,’ and it was accordingly made the capital, and named after the famous Jeypore of the north.”

The Mahārāja of Mysore belongs to the Arasu caste of Kshatriyas.

Kshauraka.—A Sanskrit name for barber, by which barbers of various classes—Mangala, Ambattan, Kēlasi, etc.—are sometimes called. It is commonly used by Canarese-speaking barbers of the Madras Presidency and Mysore.

Kshetravāsinah (those who live in temples).—A name for Ambalavāsis.

Kūdaikatti (basket-making).—A sub-division of Palli or Vanniyan. At the census, 1901, some Koravas also returned themselves as Kūdaikatti Vanniyan.

Kūdan.—For the following note on the Kūdans, or “Kootans” of the west coast, I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar29:—

The Kootans are agricultural labourers, and take part in every kind of work connected with agriculture, such as turning the soil, ploughing, sowing, manuring, weeding, [92]transplanting, and the like. As soon as the monsoon is over, they work in gardens, turning the soil, watering, and fencing. They form one of the divisions of the slave castes, working under some landlord or farmer for a daily wage of an edangazhy of paddy (unhusked rice) during the rainy months of June, July, and August and of two edangazhis during the other months of the year. They receive, for the Ōnam and Vishu festivals, a para of paddy, some salt, cocoanuts, oil, and chillies. On the day of the village festival, every male gets a mundu (cloth) or two, and every female a kacha (cloth) or two, in addition to toddy and arrack (spirituous liquor), and the other articles mentioned above. They dress themselves in their cloths, and are treated to a sumptuous dinner. With shouts of joy, they attend, and take part in the village festival. When they fall ill, they are properly looked after by their masters, both on account of their good feelings towards them, and also of the loss of work they may have to sustain, should they be laid up for a long time. Whenever a landlord or farmer has more men than he can afford to give work and wages to, he generally lends their services to some one else on a pattom of four paras of paddy a year for a male, and three for a female. The new master gives them work and wages, and sends them back when they are no longer wanted. Should a Kootan run away from his master, he is brought back either by threat or mild word; but, should these fail, there is no remedy to force him back. In spite of the abolition of slavery some sixty years ago, the Kootans are in a state of bondage. They live in small huts with insufficient food, plodding on from day to day with no hope of improving their condition. Their huts are erected on four bamboo posts. The roofs are thatched, and the sides protected by mud walls, [93]or covered with palm leaves. A bamboo framework, with similar leaves, serves the purpose of a door. There is a verandah in front. The Kootans have a few earthen and bamboo utensils for domestic use. They take rice kanji (gruel) prepared the previous night, with salt and chillies. They have some leisure at midday, during which they go to their huts, and take kanji with a fish or two boiled in it, or sometimes with some vegetable curry. At night, boiled rice, or kanji with fish or curry made of vegetables from their kitchen garden, form their chief food. All their provisions are acquired by exchange of paddy from a petty shop-keeper in their vicinity.

They eat and drink at the hands of all castes except Paraiyans, Pulayans, Ullādans, and Nāyādis. In some parts of the State, they approach the houses of Izhuvas, and no other castes eat with them. They have to keep at a distance of forty-eight feet from all high-caste Hindus. They are polluted by Pulayas, Nāyādis, and Ullādans, who have to stand at some distance from them. They may take water from the wells of Māppillas. They are their own barbers and washermen, and may approach the temple of their village goddess Kāli on some special days, while, at other times, they have to stand far away.

When a girl attains puberty, she is lodged in a corner of the hut. The inmates thereof may neither touch nor approach her on the score of pollution. Four or seven girls, who are invited, bathe the girl on the first day. The pollution lasts for seven days, and, on the morning of the seventh day, seven girls take her to a tank (pond) or river to bathe. A kai-bali is waved round her face, and, as she bathes, it is floated on the water. On their return to the hut, the girls are fed, and allowed [94]to depart with a present of an anna each. Their relatives, and others who are invited, are well entertained. A kai-bali is an offering held in the hand of a woman, and may take the form of a sacrificed fowl, plantain fruits, boiled rice, etc.

Girls are generally married after puberty. A Kootan can enter into a sambandham (alliance) with a woman of his own caste, or with a Pulaya woman. He has to bathe before he returns to his hut, if he should stay for the night with a woman of the latter caste. This proves that he belongs to a caste superior to that of the Pulayas, and the union resembles that of a Brāhman with a Sūdra woman. Should a woman of the Kootan caste mate with a Pulaya, she is at once turned out of caste. A Kootan, who wishes to enter into a sambandham with a woman of his own or the Pulaya caste, goes to her hut with one or two of his relations or friends, to recommend him to the parents of the woman to permit him to enter into conjugal relations with their daughter, or form kutikuduka. With their permission, they become a kind of husband and wife. In most cases, the will of the man and the woman is sufficient for the union. The woman generally stays with her parents, and very often her lover comes to her with his wages after the day’s hard work, and stays with her for the night. Should she wish to accompany him to his hut, she does so with her wages in the evening. They exercise sexual license even before marriage. If a woman who has no open lover becomes pregnant, her fault is condoned when she mentions her lover’s name. When one dislikes the other for some reason or other, they separate, and are at liberty to form new unions. Widows may remarry, and may even associate with their brothers-in-law. The Kootans follow the marumakkathāyam law of inheritance [95](in the female line). They have no property, except sometimes a sheep or a few fowls.

The Kootans believe in magic and sorcery. Mannāns and Muhammadan Māppillas are sometimes consulted, and these dupe them. They profess the lower forms of Hinduism, and worship the local village deity (Kāli), and the spirits of their ancestors, whom they represent by means of stones placed on a raised floor under a tree, and to whom boiled rice, parched grain, toddy, plantain fruits, and cocoanuts are offered at the Vishu and Ōnam festivals, and on Karkatakam, Thulam, and Makara Sankranti. Care is always taken to have the offerings served separately on leaves, lest the ancestors should quarrel with one another, and do them harm. Should illness, such as cholera, small-pox, or fever occur in a family, some fowls and an anna or two are offered at the temple to the goddess Bhagavathi, who is believed to be able to save them from the impending calamity.

When a member of the caste breathes his last, the landlord gives a spade to dig the grave, an axe or knife for cutting wood to serve as fuel if the corpse is to be burned, a piece of cloth for covering the dead body, and also some paddy and millet to meet the funeral expenses. A cocoanut is broken, and placed on the neck of the corpse, which is covered with the cloth, and carried on a bier to the burial-ground, which is sprinkled over with water mixed with turmeric. When the funeral is over, the people who attended it, including the relatives and friends of the deceased, bathe, and go to the hut of the dead person, where they are served with kanji and toddy, after which they depart. The members of the family, and close relatives of the deceased, fast for the night. In the case of a man dying, his nephew is the chief [96]mourner, while, in that of a woman, her eldest son and daughter are the chief mourners, who do not go to work for two weeks. The chief mourners bathe in the early morning, cook a small quantity of rice, and offer it to the spirit of the deceased. It is eaten up by the crows. This is continued for fourteen days, and, on the fourteenth night, all fast. On the fifteenth morning, they regard themselves as having been cleansed from the pollution. All the castemen of the kara (settlement) are invited, and bring with them rice, curry-stuffs, and toddy. Their Enangan cleans and sweeps the hut, while the rest go to the grave-yard, turn the earth, and make it level. They bathe, and the Enangans sprinkle cow-dung water on the grave. They return home, and partake of a sumptuous meal, after which they all take leave of the chief mourner, who observes the diksha, bathes in the early morning, and offers the bali (ball of rice) before he goes to work. This he continues for a whole year, after which he gets shaved, and celebrates a feast in honour of the dead.

Kudiānavar (cultivator).—A name commonly assumed by Pallis and Vellālas.

Kudikkar (those who belong to the house).—A name for Dēva-dāsis (dancing-girls) in Travancore, who are given a house rent-free by the Sirkar (Government).

Kudimaghan (sons of the ryot).—A name for Tamil Ambattans.

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

Kudiya.—The Kudiyas or Malē (hill) Kudiyas are found at Neriya, Darmasthala, and Sisila in the South [97]Canara district. Those who live at the two former places are agrestic slaves of landlords who own cardamom plantations on the ghāts. They live for the most part in the jungles, beneath rocks, in caves, or in low huts, and shift from one spot to another. At the season of the cardamom crop, they come down to the plains once a week with the produce. They are said to carry off cardamoms to the Mysore frontier, and sell them fraudulently to contractors or merchants. They make fire traces for the Forest Department.

Except in stature, the Kudiyas have not retained the characters of a primitive race, and, as the result of racial admixture, or contact metamorphosis, some individuals are to be seen with comparatively light coloured skins, and mesorhine or leptorhine noses. In the matter of personal names, septs, and ceremonial observances, they have been much influenced by other castes. They speak a corrupt form of Tulu, and say that they follow the aliya santāna law of inheritance (in the female line), though some, especially at Sisala and on the Mysore frontier, follow the law of succession from father to son (makkala santāna). They are not regarded as a polluting class, and can enter all parts of their landlords’ houses, except the kitchen and dining-room. They are presided over by a headman, called Gurikāra, who inquires into transgression of caste rules, and assists on ceremonial occasions. Their chief deities are Bhairava, Kāmandēvaru, and the Pancha Pāndavas (the five Pāndava brothers), but they also believe in certain bhūthas (devils), such as Malē Kallurti and Ambatadaiva.

The Kudiyas do not object to marriage between a widowed woman and her eldest son. Among those attached to a landlord at Neriya, two such cases were [98]pointed out. In one, there was no issue, but in the other a son had been born to the mother-wife.

When the arrangement of a match is in contemplation, the father of the prospective bridegroom goes, accompanied by two women, to the girl’s home, and takes with him betel leaves, areca-nuts, and gingelly (Sesamum) oil. If the girl’s parents consent to the match, they accept the oil; otherwise they refuse it. The binding part of the marriage ceremony consists of the bridal couple standing with their hands united, and the pouring of water thereon by the bride’s father. The Kudiyas who have settled on the plains have adopted the ceremonial observances of the Bants and other castes. The remarriage of widows is permitted. There is no elaborate marriage ceremony, but sometimes the contracting couple stand in the presence of the headman and a few others, and make a round mark with sandal paste on each other’s foreheads.

If a member of the tribe dies near the settlement, the body is cremated, and, if far away therefrom, buried. On the third day, a visit is paid to the place where cremation took place, and the son or some near relative of the deceased goes round the spot on which the corpse was burnt three times, and sprinkles rice thereon thrice. Five leaves of the teak or plantain, or other big leaves, are spread on the ground, and fowl’s flesh, cooked rice, and vegetables are placed thereon, and the ancestors are invoked in the words “Oh! old souls, gather up the new soul, and support it, making it one of you.” On the sixteenth day, food is again offered on leaves. In cases where burial is resorted to, an effigy of the deceased is made in straw, and burnt. On the third day, the ashes are taken to the grave, and buried. [99]

In a note on the Kudiyas of the plains, it is recorded30 that “the dead are either burned or buried, the former being the custom in the case of rich men. On the seventh day after cremation or burial, a pandal (booth) is erected over the grave or the place of cremation, and a bleached cloth is spread on it by the washerman. A wick floating in half a cocoanut shell full of oil is then lighted, and placed at each corner of the pandal. The relations of the deceased then gather round the place, and weep, and throw a handful of rice over the spot.”

The Kudiyas are fond of toddy, and eat black monkeys, and the big red squirrel, which they catch with snares.

Kudiyālu (farmer).—A synonym for Lambādi, apparently used by members of the tribe who have settled down to agriculture.

Kudlukāra.—Kudlukāra or Kudāldēshkāra is a sub-division of Rājapūri.

Kudubi.—The Kudubis are found mainly in the Kundapūr tāluk of the South Canara district. Among themselves, they use Kaluvādi as the caste name. They say that they are divided into the following sections: Ārē, Goa, Jōgi, Kodiyāl, and Kariya. Of these, the Ārē, Goa, and Kodiyāl Kudubis are confined to the Kundapūr tāluk, and the other two sections are found in villages near Mudbidri. Both the Ārē and Jōgi sections speak Marāthi, and the latter are considered inferior to the former, who will not eat in their houses. Ārē women clad themselves in black or red garments, whereas Jōgi women are said to wear white cloths. The Goa and Kariya Kudubis speak Konkani, and do not mix with the Ārēs and Jōgis, even for meals. [100]They are much influenced by Brāhmanical priests, by whom they are guided in their ceremonial observances, and have adopted the dhāre form of marriage (see Bant). The Goa Kudubis say that they emigrated to South Canara owing to the oppression from which they suffered, bringing with them the sweet potato (Ipomœa Batatas), cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale), chrysanthemum, and Indian spinach (Basella alba). Among the Goa Kudubis, an adulterer has to undergo a curious form of punishment. His head is clean-shaved, and his moustache removed. He then stands in a pit, and leaf-platters, off which food has been eaten, are thrown on his head. A money fine is imposed by the headman. If a woman does not confess her guilt, she is made to stand in the sun with an iron rod on her shoulders.

The Ārē Kudubis have exogamous septs, or wargs. Each warg is said to have its own god, which is kept in the house of some elderly or respected member of the sept. A corner of the house, or a special room, is set apart for the god, and a member of the family is the pūjāri (priest). He is expected to do pūja to the god every Monday. Ordinarily, rice, fruits, etc., are offered to it; but, during the big festival in November-December, fowls are sacrificed. Like other Marāthi castes, the Ārē Kudubis regard the Holi festival. On the first day, they collect together, and worship the tulsi kattē—a square structure on which a tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) plant is growing. On the following days, they go about in detached groups, some males being dressed up as females, with drums and cymbals, and dance and sing. On the last day of the festival, rice is cooked, offered with liquor to Kalabhairava, and eaten. The Ārē Kudubis sometimes worship bhūthas (devils), [101]e.g., Jettiga, and Hola Hayaguli. Special reverence is shown to the tulsi plant, and, at almost every house, it is planted in a brindhavan or kattē. To it vegetables and fruits are offered.

Girls are married either before or after puberty. Widows are allowed to remarry, but may not marry a man of the sept to which her deceased husband belonged. Marriage ceremonies last over five days, and commence with the ide karuchi, or betrothal, at the house of the bride-elect. Pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca-nuts) is distributed to at least one member of each warg present according to a recognised code of precedence, commencing with the Hivelēkar warg, which is considered superior. On the second day, a post made of the wood of the silk-cotton tree (Bombax malabaricum) is set up beneath the marriage pandal (booth). The bridegroom and his party go in procession to the bride’s house, where the contracting couple are decorated with jewels, and turmeric-dyed strings are tied round their necks. The bride’s father ties a kankanam (thread) on his own wrist. The couple stand facing each other, with a screen stretched between them. After the exchange of garlands, their hands are joined, and the screen is removed. They then go five times round the Bombax post and marriage dais, and sit down. Dhāre water is poured over their united hands by the bride’s father. Rice is then thrown over them, and presents are given. The proceedings terminate with the waving of coloured water, a light, etc. The dhāre ceremony is celebrated at night. On the third day, the bridal couple go five times round the Bombax post set up at the bridegroom’s house, and take their seats on the dais. Rice is thrown, and betel leaves and areca-nuts are distributed. On the fourth [102]and fifth days, the same items are gone through at the bride’s house.

In the case of the remarriage of a widow, the bride and bridegroom take their seats, and rice is thrown over them. The dhāre water is not poured over their hands. Sometimes, the marriage consists merely in the holding of a feast.

The dead are buried in a sitting posture, with the legs crossed tailor-wise. Before the grave is filled in, a small quantity of cooked rice is put in the mouth of the corpse. On the third day, a small mound is made over the grave, and food offered to it. The final death ceremonies take place on the eleventh day, and consist in the sprinkling of holy water, and giving presents to Brāhmans. By the prosperous members of the community, a caste feast is given on the twelfth day.

The main occupation of the Kudubis is shifting (kumāri) cultivation. Some, however, are employed in the preparation of cutch (catechu) from the wood of Acacia Catechu, of which the following account is given by Mr. H. A. Latham31 of the Forest Department. “In South Canara, one of our most profitable sources of revenue is the extract obtained by boiling the wood of the catechu tree. The tree is confined to the laterite plateaux in the Coondapur tāluk, situated as a rule within 15 miles of the sea, and gradually dies out as we proceed southwards, until near Coondapur itself the tree will hardly grow. It appears again to a small extent in the Kasaragod tāluk 80 miles further south, but no extraction is done there now. The extract is astringent, and, besides the other uses it is put to, it appears [103]to be a remedy for diarrhœa, dysentery, and diabetes. It is, however, chiefly used for chewing with pān supāri. Locally, it is used pure in small pieces, the size of a pea, and rolled up with the other ingredients in the betel leaf to form a chew. In Mysore, the catechu bought by the merchants from us is dissolved in water, and the areca-nut is, after being boiled and sliced, steeped in the solution, and then put out in the sun on mats to dry, this operation being repeated until sufficient catechu has been taken up to form a red, shining, semi-transparent film, through which the ruminated albumen of the areca-nut is just visible; the brighter the red colour so obtained, the better the quality of the nut. As we sell it, the catechu is in the shape of hard round balls covered with a whitish dust, the ashes with which the balls are covered to prevent them adhering to one another. On breaking, the interior of the balls should show a vitreous conchoidal fracture similar to quartz, and be of a warm reddish brown colour. The manufacture of catechu is carried out under departmental supervision by a contractor, who is paid on the outturn, and is bound, for the actual boiling, to employ only Kudubis. So far as the department is concerned, a locality where there are plenty of catechu trees is selected, and all trees over 6 inches in diameter are allowed to be cut. The contractor has to engage the Kudubis and select the site for the ovens, conveniently situated both for water and firewood, and also as close to the majority of catechu trees as he can get it. The site usually selected is a rice field, for which the contractor may have to pay a small rent. Generally, however, no rent is charged, as the owner is only too glad to have the ashes, obtained in extracting, to plough into his field. On this field the encampment is made, consisting of rows of thatched huts made of grass and bamboos. [104]The first thing to do is to erect the ovens, known as wolle. These are made by a party of men a fortnight or so before the main body come. The ordinary soil of the field is used, and the ovens are built to a height of 18 inches, and placed about 5 yards in front of the huts at irregular distances, 1 or 2 to each hut. The oven is an oblong, about 2 feet wide by 3 feet long, with two openings above about 1 foot in diameter, on which the boilers, common ovoid earthenware pots (madike) are placed. The opening for the fire is placed on the windward side, and extends to the far side of the second opening in the top of the oven, the smoke, etc., escaping through the spaces between the boilers and the oven. The earth forms the hearth. To proceed to the details of the working, the guard and the watcher go out the first thing in the morning, and mark trees for the Kudubis to cut, noting the name of the man, the girth and length of the workable stem and branches. The Kudubi then cuts the tree, and chips off the sapwood, a ring about 1 inch wide, with his axe, and brings it into the camp, where a Forester is stationed, who measures the length and girth of the pieces, and takes the weight of wood brought in. The Kudubi then takes it off to his shelter, and proceeds to chip it. In the afternoon he may have to go and get firewood, but generally he can get enough firewood in a day to serve for several days’ boiling. So much for the men’s work. Mrs. Kudubi puts the chips (chakkai) into the pot nearest the mouth of the oven, and fills it up with water, putting a large flat wooden spoon on the top, partly to keep the chips down, and, lighting her fire, allows it to boil. As soon as this occurs, the pot is tipped into a wooden trough (marige) placed alongside the oven, and the pot with the chips is refilled. This process is repeated six times. [105]The contents of the trough are put into the second pot, which is used purely for evaporating. The contents of this pot are replenished from the trough with a cocoanut bailer (chippu) until all the extract obtained from the chips has been evaporated to a nearly solid residue. The contents are then poured into a broken half pot, and allowed to dry naturally, being stirred at intervals to enable the drying to proceed evenly. The extract (rasa) is of a yellowish brown colour when stirred, the surface being of rich red-brown. This stirring is done with a one-sided spoon (satuga). To make the balls, the woman covers her hands with a little wood ash to prevent the extract adhering to them, and takes up as much catechu as she can close her hands on, and presses it into shape. These balls are paid for at Rs. 1–2–0 per 100, and are counted before the Forester next morning, and delivered to the contractor. This ends the work done by the Kudubis. When the balls have been counted, they are rolled by special men engaged for the purpose on a board sprinkled with a little wood ash, and this is repeated daily for three or four days to consolidate them. After this daily rolling, the balls are spread out in the receiving shed to dry, in a single layer for the first day or two, and after that they may be in two layers. After the fourth or fifth day’s rolling, they are put in a pit, and covered with wood ashes on which a little water is poured, and, on being taken out the next day, are gone over, and all balls which are soft or broken are then rejected, the good ones being put on the upper storey of the stone shed to get quite hard and dry.”

Before the commencement of operations, the Kudubis select an Areca Catechu tree, and place a sword, an axe, and a cocoanut on the ground near it. They prostrate themselves before the tree, with hands uplifted, burn [106]incense, and break cocoanuts. The success of the operations is believed to depend on the good will of a deity named Siddēdēvaru. Before the Kudubis commence work, they pray to him, and make a vow that, if they are successful, they will offer a fowl. Failure to produce good balls of catechu is attributed to the wrath of the deity. At the close of the work, if it has prospered, a kalasam (brass vessel) is set up, and fowls are killed. Sometimes, goats are sacrificed, cooked food and meat are placed on leaves round the kalasam, and after worshipping, the viands are partaken of.

Like some other castes, the Kudubis do not eat new rice until after the Hosthu (new crop) festival. Just before reaping, a few plants are plucked, laid in the field, and worshipped. The ears are then cut, and carried to their houses, where they are tied to pillars or to the roof.

There are, among the Kudubis, magicians called Gardi, who are sought after during illness. To show his magical skill, a Gardi should be able to cut a single grain of rice in twain with a big knife.

Kudugudukāran.—The Kudugudukārans or Kuduguduppukārans are a mendicant caste, who beat a small hour-glass-shaped drum while begging from house to house.

Kudumala (cake).—An exogamous sept of Bonthuk Savara, Gamalla, and Mādiga.

Kudumba.—A sub-division of Savara.

Kudumban.—A title sometimes used by Pallans, the headman among whom goes by this name.

Kudumi or Kudumikkar.—The Kudumis are mainly found in the sea-board taluks of Parūr, Shertally, and Ambalapuzha, in Travancore. The name is believed to be a corruption of the Sanskrit Kudumbi, meaning [107]one connected with a family. By others it is derived from a Konkani word, meaning Sūdra. The popular name for the caste is Idiya (pounder), in reference to the occupation of pounding rice. Kadiya, apparently derived from Ghatiyal, or a person possessed, is a term of reproach. The title Chetti is now assumed by members of the caste. But the well-known title is Mūppan, or elder, conferred on some respectable families by former Rājas of Cochin. The authority of the Trippanithoray Mūppan is supreme in all matters relating to the government of the caste. But his authority has passed, in Travancore, to the Turavūr Mūppan, who has supreme control over the twenty-two villages of Kudimis. The belief that the Mūppans differ from the rest of the Kudimis, so as to make them a distinct sept, does not appear to be based on fact. Nor is it true that the Mūppans represent the most ancient families of Konkana Sūdras, who emigrated to Kērala independently of the Konkanis. Chief among them is the Koratti Mūppan of Trippanithoray, who has, among other privileges, those of the drinking vessel and lighted lamp conferred on him by the Cochin rulers. Every Kudumi village has a local Mūppan. A few families enjoy the surname Kammatti, which is believed to be of agricultural origin.

The Kudumis speak a corrupt form of the Konkani dialect of Marāthi. They are the descendants of these Konkana Sūdras, who emigrated from Goa on account of the persecutions of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, and sought refuge along with their masters, the Konkana Brāhmans, on the coast of Travancore and Cochin. Most of them set out as the domestic servants of the latter, but a few were independent traders and agriculturists. Two varieties of rice grain, chethivirippu and malarnellu, brought by them from the Konkan, are [108]still sown in Travancore. One of the earliest occupations, in which they engaged, was the manufacture of fireworks, and, as they were bold and sturdy, they were enlisted as soldiers by the chieftains of Malabar. Relics of the existence of military training-grounds are still to be found in many of their houses.

On a raised mud platform in the court-yard of the Kudumi’s house, the tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) or pīpal (Ficus religiosa) is invariably grown. Fish and flesh, except beef, are eaten, and intoxicating liquor is rather freely imbibed. The women wear coloured cloths, usually black, and widows are not obliged to be clad in white. A gold mukkutti is an indispensable nose ornament. Tattooing is largely resorted to by the women.

The occupation of the Kudumis is service in the houses of the Konkana Brāhmans. They also prepare beaten rice, act as boatmen, porters, and agricultural labourers, clean tanks and wells, and thatch houses. The Mūppans manufacture, and give displays of fireworks, which have a local reputation at the great Konkani temple of Turavūr in the Shertallay taluk.

They worship at the temples of the Konkana Brāhmans, as well as their own. But they are not pronounced Vaishnavites, like the Brāhmans, as the teachings of Madhvāchārya did not reach the lower ranks of Hinduism. On Sunday only one meal is taken. Maddu or Madan is their chief minor deity, and water-sheds are erected to propitiate him. Brahma is adored for nine days in the month of Kumbham (February-March) from the full-moon day. The pīpal tree is scrupulously worshipped, and a lighted lamp placed beside it every evening.

A woman, at the menstrual period, is considered impure for four days, and she stands at a distance of [109]seven feet, closing her mouth and nostrils with the palm of the hand, as the breath of such a woman is believed to have a contaminating effect. Her shadow, too, should not fall on any one. The marriage of girls should take place before puberty. Violation of this rule would be punished by the excommunication of the family. During the marriage ceremony, the tulasi plant is worshipped, and the bride and bridegroom husk a small quantity of rice. The mother of the bridegroom prepares a new oven within the house, and places a new pot beside it. The contracting couple, assisted by five women, throw five handfuls of rice into the pot, which is cooked. They then put a quantity of paddy (unhusked rice) into a mortar, and after carefully husking it, make rice flour from it. A quantity of betel and rice is then received by the bride and bridegroom from four women. The tāli is tied round the bride’s neck by the bridegroom, and one of his companions then takes a thread, and fastens it to their legs. On the fifth day of the marriage rites, a piece of cloth, covering the breasts, is tied round the bride’s neck, and the nose is pierced for the insertion of the mukkutti.

Inheritance is generally from father to son (makkathāyam), but, in a few families, marumakkathāyam (inheritance through the female line) is observed. Widow remarriage is common, and the bridegroom is generally a widower. Only the oldest members of a family are cremated, the corpses of others being buried. The Kudumis own a common burial-ground in all places, where they reside in large numbers. Pollution lasts for sixteen days.

The Kudumis and the indigenous Sūdras of Travancore do not accept food from each other. They never wear the sacred thread, and may not enter the inner [110]courtyard of a Brāhmanical temple. They remove pollution by means of water sprinkled over them by a Konkana Brāhman. Their favourite amusement is the koladi, in which ten or a dozen men execute a figure dance, armed with sticks, which they strike together keeping time to the music of songs relating to Krishna, and Bhagavati.32

Kudumi.—Concerning the Kudumi medicine-men. I gather33 that “the Kudumi is a necessary adjunct to the village. His office implies a more or less intimate acquaintance with the curative herbs and roots in the forests, and their proper application to the different ailments resulting from venomous bites or stings. It is the Kudumi who procures leeches for the gouty Reddi or the phlegmatic Moodeliar, when he finds that some blood-letting will benefit their health. He prays over sprains and cricks, and binds the affected parts with the sacred cord made of the hair taken from the patient’s head. He is an expert practitioner at phlebotomy, and many old Anglo-Indians domiciled in the country will recall the Kudumi when his services were in demand to heal some troublesome limb by the letting of blood. This individual is believed to possess a magic influence over wild animals and snakes, and often comes out in public as a dexterous snake-charmer. It is principally in the case of poisonous bites that the Kudumi’s skill is displayed. It is partly by the application of medicinal leaves ground into a paste, and partly by exercising his magical powers, that he is believed to cure the most dangerous bites of snakes and other venomous animals.”

The Kudumi often belongs to the Irula or Jōgi caste. [111]

Kudumi.—The kudumi is the tuft of hair, which is left when the head of Hindus is shaved. “For some time past,” Bishop Caldwell writes,34 “a considerable number of European missionaries in the Tamil country have come to regard the wearing of the tuft as a badge of Hinduism, and hence require the natives employed in their missions to cut off the kudumi as a sine quâ non of their retention of mission employment”. The kudumi, as the Bishop points out, would doubtless have been admired by our grandfathers, who wore a kudumi themselves, viz., the queue which followed the wig. “The Vellalas of the present day,” he continues, “almost invariably wear the kudumi, but they admit that their forefathers wore their hair long. Some of the Maravars wear the kudumi, and others do not. It makes a difference in their social position. The kudumi, which was originally a sign of Aryan nationality, and then of Aryan respectability, has come to be a sign of respectability in general, and hence, whilst the poorer Maravars generally wear their hair long, the wealthier members of the caste generally wear the kudumi. The Pallars in Tinnevelly used to wear their hair long, but most of them have recently adopted the kudumi, and the wearing of the kudumi is now spreading even among the Pariahs. In short, wherever higher notions of civilization, and a regard for appearances extend, the use of the kudumi seems to extend also”. Even a Toda has been known to visit the Nanjengōd temple at the base of the Nīlgiris, to pray for offspring, and return with a shaved head.

Kudumo.See Kurumo.

Kukkundi.—Kukkundi or Kokkundia is the name of a small class of Oriya cultivators and fishermen, [112]who are said to be expert in spearing fish with a long spear.

Kukru.—Kukru or Kukkuro, meaning dog, occurs as the name of a sept of Bottada, Dōmb, and Omanaito. The equivalent Kukkala is a sept of the Orugunta Kāpus and Bōyas.

Kulāla.—Some members of the potter caste style themselves Kulāla vamsam, as being a more dignified caste name than Kusavan, and claim descent from Kulālan, the son of Brahma.

Kulanji.—A sub-division of Mārān.

Kulappan.—A synonym of Kusavan.

Kulasēkhara.—A sub-division of Sātānis, who claim descent from the Vaishnavite saint Kulasēkhara Ālvār.

Kulloi.—A sub-division of Gadaba.

Kulodondia.—A title, meaning headman of the caste, used by some Tiyōros.

Kuluvādi.—A synonym of Kudubi.

Kumda (red gourd: Cucurbita maxima).—A sept of Omanaito.

Kummara, Kumbāra, Kumbāro.—“The potters of the Madras Presidency,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,35 “outside the Tamil country and Malabar, are called Kummara in Telugu, Kumbāro in Uriya, and Kumbāra in Canarese, all these names being corrupted forms of the Sanskrit word Kumbhakāra, pot-maker (ku, earth). In social position they are considered to be a superior class of Sūdras. The Telugu Kummaras were cooks under the ancient kings, and many of them still work in that capacity in Sūdra houses. The Kumbāros are purely Vaishnavites and employ Boishnob priests, while the Kummaras and Kumbāras call in Brāhmans. Widow [113]remarriage is allowed among the Uriya section alone. All of them eat flesh.” Concerning the potter classes, Mr. Stuart writes further36 that “Kummaras or Kusavans (q.v.) are the potters of the country, and were probably at one time a single caste, but are now divided into Telugus, Northern Tamilians and Southern Tamilians, who have similar customs, but will not intermarry or eat together. The northern and southern potters differ in that the former use a wheel of earthenware, and the latter one made of wood. The Telugu potters are usually followers of Vishnu and the Tamilians of Siva, some being also Lingāyats, and therefore burying their dead. All the potters claim an impure Brāhmanical descent, telling the following story regarding their origin. A learned Brāhman, after long study, discovered the day and hour in which he might beget a mighty offspring. For this auspicious time he waited long, and at its approach started for the house of his selected bride, but floods detained him, and, when he should have been with her, he was stopping in a potter’s house. He was, however, resolved not to lose the opportunity, and by the daughter of his host he had a son, the celebrated Sālivāhana. This hero in his infancy developed a genius for pottery, and used to amuse himself by making earthen figures of mounted warriors, which he stored in large numbers in a particular place. After a time Vikramarka invaded Southern India, and ordered the people to supply him with pots for his army. They applied to Sālivāhana, who miraculously infused life into his clay figures, and led them to battle against the enemy, whom he defeated, and the country (Mysore) fell into his hands. Eventually he was left as its ruler, and became the ancestor of the [114]early Mysore Rājas. Such is the story current among the potters, who generally believe that they are his progeny. They all live in a state of poverty and ignorance, and are considered of a low rank among other Sūdras.”

At the village of Karigeri in the North Arcot district, there is carried on by some of the local potters an interesting industry in the manufacture of ornamental pottery, for which a medal was awarded at the Delhi Darbar Exhibition. “The soft pottery,” Surgeon-General G. Bidie writes, “receives a pretty green glaze, and is made into vases and other receptacles, some of which are imitations of Delft ware and other European manufactures of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; patterns having been introduced by Collectors.37 Some of the water-bottles are double, the outer shell being pierced so as to allow air to circulate around the inner.” The history of this little industry is, I gather, as follows.38 “Mr. Robinson, a Collector in the sixties of the last century, started the manufacture of tea-pots, milk jugs, and sugar bowls with a dark green glaze, but his dream of supplying all India with chota hazri (early tea) sets was not realised. Then came Mr. Whiteside, and the small Grecian vases and the like are due to his and Mrs. Barlow’s influence. He had accurate wooden models made by his well-known wood-carvers. He further altered the by no means pretty green glaze, and reddish browns and yellows were produced. Then came Mr. Stuart, who pushed the sale at exhibitions and railway stations. He also gave the potters models of fancy flower-pots for in-door use. The pottery is exceedingly fragile, and unsuitable for rough usage. Unglazed water [115]and butter coolers were the earliest and best articles the potters produced.”

Concerning the Kumbāras of South Canara, Mr. Stuart writes,39 that they “seem to be a branch of the Telugu and Canarese potter castes, but many of them have Tulu for their home speech, and follow the aliyasantāna rule of inheritance (in the female line). Some of them officiate as pūjāris (priests) in the temples of the local deities or demons, and are employed to perform funeral rites. Unlike the Tamil potters, the Kumbāras do not wear the sacred thread. Infant and widow marriages are very common. On the birth of a child, the family observe pollution for fifteen days, and on the sixteenth day the village barber and dhōbi (washerman) get holy water from the village temple, and purify the family by sprinkling it on their head. There are two endogamous sub-divisions, the Kannada and Tulu Kumbāra, and each of these is divided into exogamous balis. Their ordinary title is Handa, which is also sometimes used as the name of the caste. In Uppinangadi a superior kind of pottery is made (by the Kannada Kumbāras). It is made of clay powdered, mixed with water, and strained. It is then poured into a pit specially prepared for the purpose, where it is allowed to remain for about a month, by which time it becomes quite dry. It is then removed, powdered, moistened, and made into balls, which are one by one placed upon a wheel and fashioned into various kinds of vessels, including vases, goglets, tea-pots, cups and saucers. The vessels are dried in the shade for about eight days, after which they are baked for two days, when they are ready for sale. [116]They have a glazed appearance, and are sometimes beautifully ornamented.”

In the Census Report, 1901, Vōdāri, Bandi, and Mūlya are returned as sub-castes of the Canarese potters.

The Kumbāras of the Mysore Province are, Mr. T. Ananda Row informs us,40 “potters and tile-makers. There are two great divisions among them mutually exclusive, the Kannada and Telugu, the former claiming superiority over the latter. The Telugu Kumbāras trace their descent to Sālivāhana, and wear the sacred thread. They abstain from eating meat. There are both Saivites and Vaishnavites among Kumbāras. The former acknowledge the Smartha Brāhman’s sway. Polygamy is permitted, and divorce can only be for adultery. Widows are not permitted to remarry. This caste also includes dyers known as Nīlagara (nīl, indigo). It is curious that these two trades, quite distinct from one another, are followed by persons of the same family according to inclination. The Kumbāras worship all the Hindu deities, but pay special reverence to their kiln. They are recognised members of the village hierarchy.” Of the Mysore Kumbāras, Mr. L. Rice writes41 that the “pot-makers were not stationed in every village, one or two being generally sufficient for a hobli or taraf. He furnished pots for all the ryats (agriculturists) of his taraf, and was entitled to ayam in an equal proportion as the other Ayagar (hereditary village officers). For liberty of exposing his wares for sale to travellers in the markets, he paid chakra-kanke to the Sirkar (Government).” At Channapatna, in Mysore, I purchased for three annas a large collection of articles [117]of pottery made out of black and brown clay. They are said to be made at a village near Channapatna, and consist of rudely ornamented miniature lamps of various patterns, models of native kitchen-ranges, pots, tobacco-pipes, dishes, etc. At the Mysore census, 1891, some potters described themselves as Gundu (round) Brāhmans.

The Oriya Kumbāro (kumbho, a pot) are said to practice both infant and adult marriage, and to permit the remarriage of widows. A sub-caste, named Bhande, derives its name from the Sanskrit bhanda, a pot. The Madras Museum possesses a quaint series of painted clay figures, made by a potter at Venkatarayapalle in Ganjam, which are set up in shrines on the seashore, and worshipped by fishermen. They include the following:—

Bengāli Bābu.—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.

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.

Veyyi Kannalu Ammavaru, or the goddess of a thousand eyes, represented by a pot pierced with many holes, in which a gingelly (Sesamum) oil light is burnt. She attends to the general welfare of the fishing folk.

Further details relating to the South Indian potters will be found under the heading Kusavan.

Kumbi (potter).—A sub-division of Savara.

Kummidichatti.—Recorded, in the North Arcot Manual, as a sub-division of Vellālas, who carried the chatty, or pot of fire, at Vellāla funerals. In Tamil, the [118]name kumbidu chatti is applied to a pot, in which fire is always kept burning. Such a pot is used for obtaining fire for domestic purposes, and by old people, to keep themselves warm in cold weather.

Kumpani.—Returned by some Kurubas at the Census, 1901. The name refers to the East India Company, which was known as Kumpani Jahān (or John Company).

Kūnapilli.—A synonym of Padigarājulu, a class of mendicants, who beg from Padma Sālēs.

Kunbi.—Recorded, at times of Census, as a Bombay cultivating caste. (See Bombay Gazetteer, XVIII, Part I, 284.) It is also a sub-division of Marāthis, generally agriculturists, in the Sandūr State.

Kunchēti.—A sub-division of Kāpu.

Kunchigar.—The Kunchigars, Kunchitigas, or Kunchiliyans, are a class of cultivators in the Salem district, who speak Canarese, and have migrated southward to the Tamil country. Their tradition concerning their origin is that “a certain Nawāb, who lived north of the Tungabadra river, sent a peon (orderly) to search for ghī (clarified butter), twelve years old. In his travels south of the river, the peon met a lovely maid drawing water, who supplied his want. Struck by her beauty, he watched her bathing place, and stole one hair which fell from her head in bathing, which he took to the Nawāb. The latter conceived the idea of marrying the girl, and sent an embassy, which was so far successful that the girl and her family came to his residence, and erected a marriage pandal (booth). Subsequently they repented, and, thinking that the marriage would be a mésalliance (the Nawāb was probably a Muhammadan), fled in the night, leaving a dog in the pandal. In their flight they came to the Tungabadra, which was in full flood, and, [119]eager to escape, they consented to marry the maiden to a Kurumban who ferried them across the river. The Kunchigars are the descendants of this girl and the Kurumban. When running away they, in their haste, forgot a little girl, and left her behind them. She was seized by the Nawāb, who thirsted for vengeance, and thrown into the air so as to fall on knives placed so as to transfix her. Some miracle interposed to save her, and the Arē Kunchigars of Mysore are her descendants.”42

Kunchu (a tassel or bunch).—A sub-division of Okkiliyans, and of Koravas who make brushes used by weavers. Kuncham, meaning either a measure used in measuring grain or a tassel, occurs as an exogamous sept of Mādiga and Māla.

Kundanakkāran.—An occupational Tamil name for those who cut, enchase, and set precious stones.

Kundatōn.—A name for chunam (lime) workers in Malabar.

Kūndu (nest).—A sub-division of the Irulas of South Arcot.

Kungiliyan.—A title of some Kallans.

Kunjamma.—A name for Elayad females.

Kunnuvan.—The Kunnuvans are described, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, as “the principal cultivating caste on the Palni hills. They speak Tamil. Their own traditions say that their ancestors were Vellālans from the Dhārāpuram and Kāngayam country in Coimbatore, who went up the Palnis some four or five centuries ago because the low country was so disturbed by war (other accounts say devastated by famine), and they call themselves Kunnuva Vellālas, and state that the name Kunnuva is derived from Kunnūr village in [120]Coimbatore. Other traditions add that the Virūpākshi and Ayyakudi poligars (feudal chieftains) helped them to settle on their land in the hills, which up to then had only been cultivated by indolent Pulaiyans. The Kunnuvans ousted these latter, and eventually turned them into predial serfs—a position from which they have hardly yet freed themselves. In every village is a headman, called the Mannādi, who has the usual powers. The caste is divided into three endogamous sections, called Vaguppus, namely, Periya (big) Kunnuvar, Kunnuvar, and Chinna (little) Kunnuvar. They will eat together. The dress of the women is characteristic. They wear rough metal necklets, brass bangles and anklets, silver bangles on their upper arms, and rings in their noses; and they knot their upper cloths in front across the breasts, and bind them round their waists in a sort of bandage. White cloths used to be forbidden them, but are common enough nowadays. [It was noted by Mr. M. J. Walhouse, in 1881,43 in connection with the Kuneivar on the lower slopes of the Palnis, that women were never allowed to wear white clothes. None could tell why, but it was said that, within memory, women offending against the rule had been cast from a high rock.] The claim of a man to his paternal aunt’s daughter is rigidly maintained, and the evasions of the rule allowed by other castes when the ages of the parties are disproportionate are not permitted. Consequently, a boy sometimes marries more than one of these cousins of his, and, until he reaches manhood, those of them who are much older than he is live with other men of the caste, the boy being the nominal father of any children which may be born. A boy of nine or ten may thus be the [121]putative father of a child of two or three. [In this connection, Mr. J. H. Nelson writes44 that Madura Collectors have sometimes been puzzled not a little by evidence adduced to show that a child of three or four years was the son or daughter of a child of ten or twelve.] When a man has no children except a girl, and his family is in danger of coming to an end, a curious practice, called keeping up the house, is followed. The girl cannot be claimed by her maternal uncle’s son as usual, but may be married to one of the door-posts of the house. A silver bangle is put on her right wrist instead of a tali (marriage badge) round her neck; she is allowed to consort with any man of her caste; her earnings go to her parents; she becomes their heir, and, if she has a son, the boy inherits their property through her. The custom is a close parallel to the system of making girls Basavis, which is so common in the western part of Bellary and the neighbouring parts of Dharwar and Mysore. Divorce is readily obtained, on the petitioner paying the amount of the bride-price, but the children all go to the father. Divorcées and widows may remarry, and they do so with a frequency which has made the caste a byword among its neighbours. The Kunnuvans worship the usual deities of the plains. They generally burn their dead.”

It is recorded, in the Manual of the Madura district, that the Kunnuvans of the western parts of the Palni hills differ in many of their customs from those of the eastern. With both divisions, incompatibility of temper is a sufficient ground for divorce, and a husband can at any time get rid of his wife by taking her to her parents together with a pair of oxen if he be an eastern Kunnuvan, and a vatti or round metal dish if he be a western. [122]On the other hand, if the wife dislikes her partner, she may leave him upon giving up her golden jewels—the silver she retains—and may, according to her pleasure, either go back to her father’s house, or marry another man. In the west, however, she takes with her only such property as she may have possessed at the time of her marriage. Her children must all be made over to the deserted husband; and, if she be pregnant when she goes away, and a child be born while she is living with her second husband, it must nevertheless be given up to the first, upon payment of the expense of rearing it if in the east, upon mere demand in the west. In this way a woman may legally marry any number of men in succession, though she may not have two husbands at one and the same time. She may, however, bestow favours on paramours without hindrance, provided they be of equal caste with her. On the other hand, a man may indulge in polygamy to any extent he pleases, and the wealthier Kunnuvans keep several wives as servants, especially for agricultural purposes. The religion of the Kunnuvans appear to be the Saiva, but they worship their mountain god Valapan with far more devotedness than any other.

The name Kunnuvan is derived by Mr. Nelson from kunru, a hill.

Kunta.—A division of Kuravas of Travancore, who derive their name from their first ancestor having appeared from a sacrificial altar (hōmakunta).

Kuntē (pond).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Kūrākula (vegetable class).—An occupational title, returned at times of census, by Oriya and Telugu cultivators in Ganjam and Vizagapatam.

Kurava.—For the following note on the Kuravas of Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. [123]

There are more than 50,000 Kuravas in Travancore, of whom the largest numbers live in the tāluks of Kunnatur, Chirayinkil, and Kottarakkara. They were originally divided into four branches, called Kunta Kuravan, Pūm Kuravan, Kākka Kuravan, and Pāndi Kuravan. Almost all the Kuravas of this country belong to the first of these sections. The Pūm Kuravas are believed to have become a different caste, called Vēlan. Similarly, the Kākka Kuravans have crystallised into a distinct caste named Kakkalan. Pāndi Kuravas speak Tamil, and are chiefly found in Nanchinad, being there known as Nanchi Kuravas. The Kunta Kuravas attribute the origin of their name to the appearance of their first ancestor from a sacrificial altar (hōmakunta). They are known in some places, such as Nedumangad, by the name of Muli Kuravas, probably because they emit a drawling noise when called. It has been suggested that the Kuravas are one of the early tribes of Southern India, and one with the Kurumbas of the Tamil country, and closely allied to the Vēdans. Such of them as still preserve their old practices, and do not mingle with the low-country people, are known as Malan Kuravas. They form one of the sixteen hill-tribes mentioned in the Kēralolpatti. About three centuries ago, Nanchinad in Travancore was governed by a line of Kurava kings, called Nanchi Kuravans.

The Kuravas are prædial slaves, who were liable in olden days to be bought and sold along with the land they occupied. They are not regarded as so faithful as the Pulayas. Their homes are, like those of the Pulayas, low thatched sheds. They eat meat, and drink toddy and arrack. Their women tie their hair in the centre of the head, and not behind like the Pulayas. Tattooing is very largely resorted to. [124]

Though Hindu deities are worshipped, the Chavars, or spirits of the dead, receive the most particular attention. The days considered to be of religious importance are Ōnam in the month of Chingam, the Ailiyam and Makam stars in Kanni, the 28th of Makaram, the Bharani star in Kumbham and Minam, and the first day of Audi. The special deities of the Kuravas are called Kātiyatikal or mountain gods, whom they worship on these days with an offering. On the 30th of each month, and on days of festivity, all the Kuravas take beaten rice and toddy, and offer them with a view to propitiating their ancestors. Small sheds are dedicated to Chavars, where the priest, called Piniyali or sorcerer, is the only important person. The Kuravas have among themselves a special class of exorcisers, whom they call Rarakkar (literally Vicharakkar), or those who make enquiries about the occurrence of diseases. The Rarakkaran first becomes possessed, and cries out the names of all the mountain deities in the vicinity, violently shaking every limb of his body as he does so. Some of these deities are Chavar, Ayiravalli, Chattan, Pakavati, Matan, Murti, Taivam, Pakavan, Appuppan, and Maruta. He then takes a handful of paddy (unhusked rice) from a quantity placed in front of him, and, after counting, decides, upon the chance of one or two grains remaining in the end after each of them is removed, whether some one in the house is not attacked by, or liable to the attack of some evil spirit. The same process is repeated, in order to find out the proper remedy for appeasing them. The Rarakkaran at the end proceeds out of the house in a northerly direction. The Ūrāli, or headman of Peruvirutti Mala in Kunnattur, becomes possessed on the evening of the third Monday of Minam, [125]and foretells coming events for such Kuravas as are assembled.

The headmen of the Kuravas are called Ūrāli and Panikkan, and they must be paid a fee of not less than ten chuckrams on all religious occasions. The priest is known as Kaikkaran.

The Kuravas observe two forms of marriage ceremonial, viz., the tāli-kettu before puberty, and sambandham. At the former, an elderly Kuratti (Kurava woman) ties the minnu or wedding ornament round the neck of the girl. When a Kurava wishes to marry a girl, he must pay twelve fanams to her maternal uncle. Widows remarry, and divorce, though void without the consent of the headmen, is easily effected. The form of inheritance is marumakkathāyam (in the female line).

The dead are buried, and death pollution is observed for twelve days.

The Kuravas are obliged to stand, according to some at forty-eight, and according to others at sixty-four paces from a high-caste Hindu. They regard themselves as higher in the social scale than Pulaiyas and Paraiyans.

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

Kurēshi.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a territorial name returned by Muhammadans, Kurēshi being a village in Arabia; also one of the sub-divisions of the Navāyat tribe.

Kuricchan.—The Kuricchans, or Kuricchiyans, are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart45 as “the hunting caste of Malabar. Some derive the word from kurikke, to mark or assign, as they say that this caste fixed the [126]hunting days. This must be the production of a highly imaginative person. Dr. Gundert thinks it is derived from, or allied to, Canarese Koracha (Korava). I would rather say it is allied to that word, and that both are derivatives of kuru, a hill (cf. Tamil kurinchi), kurunilam, etc., and Malayālam kurissi, a suffix in names of hilly localities. With the exception of 2,240 persons in Kottayam, and 373 in Kurumbranād, both bordering on Wynaad, all the Kuricchans are found in Wynaad. They are excellent bowmen, and played an important part in the Pyche Rāja’s rebellion at the beginning of the (nineteenth) century. The Kuricchans affect a great contempt for Brāhmans. When a Brāhman has been in a Kuricchan’s house, the moment he leaves it, the place where he was seated is besmeared with cowdung to remove the pollution! They follow inheritance in the male line in some places, and in the female line in others. Their god is called Mūttappan, which literally means grandfather. They now subsist mostly by punam (shifting) cultivation.”

In the Gazetteer of Malabar, the Kuricchiyans (kuricchi, hill country) are described as “a jungle tribe of punam cultivators, found in the Wynaad and the slopes of the ghats, north of Calicut. They consider themselves polluted by the approach of other hill tribes and by the touch of Tiyans and Kammālans; and their women require water sanctified by a Brāhman to purify them. They perform the tāli kettu ceremony before puberty, and say that they follow the marumakkathāyam family system (of inheritance in the female line), though the wife usually goes to live with her husband in a new hut, and the husband has to pay a price for his bride. They act as oracles during the great festival at Kōttiyur. The performer becomes inspired after sitting for some [127]time gazing into a vessel containing gingelly oil, and holding in his hand a curious-shaped wand of gold about a foot and a half long, and hollow.”

It is recorded by Mr. Logan,46 in connection with a disturbance in Malabar early in the last century, that “the first overt act occurred at Panamaram in Wynād. Some five days previous to 11th October 1802, one of the proscribed rebel leaders, Edachenna Kungan, chanced to be present at the house of a Kurchiyan, when a belted peon came up, and demanded some paddy (rice) from the Kurchiyan. Edachenna Kungan replied by killing the peon, and the Kurchiyans (a jungle tribe) in that neighbourhood, considering themselves thus compromised with the authorities, joined Edachenna Kungan. This band, numbering about 150, joined by Edachenna Kungan and his two brothers, then laid their plans for attacking the military post at Panamaram, held by a detachment of 70 men of the 1st Battalion of the 4th Bombay Infantry under Captain Dickenson and Lieutenant Maxwell. They first seized sentry’s musket, and killed him with arrows. Captain Dickenson killed and wounded with his pistols, bayonet, and sword, 15 of the Kurchiyars, 5 of whom died. The whole of the detachment was massacred.”

In a note on an inspection of a Kuriccha settlement, Mr. F. Fawcett recorded that the houses were close to some rice-fields cultivated by the Kuricchas. The Māppillas, however, took the crop as interest on an outstanding debt. One house was noted as having walls of wattle and mud, a thatched roof, and verandah. In the eastern verandah were a bow and arrows, a fresh head of paddy (unhusked rice), some withered grain, etc., [128]dedicated to the god Mūttappan. A man requested Mr. Fawcett not to approach a hut, in which a meal was being cooked, as he would pollute it. A child, a few months old, with a ring in each ear, and a ring of shell or bone on a string to avert the evil eye, was lying in a cradle suspended from the roof. Both by Mr. Fawcett and others, the Kuricchas are given the character of remarkably innocent, truthful, and trustworthy people.

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. E. Fernandez. The Kuricchas usually live by cultivation, but it is considered a great stroke of good luck to obtain a post as postal runner or amsham peon. When on a hunting expedition, they are armed with bows and arrows, or occasionally with guns, and surround a hill. Some of them then enter the jungle with dogs, and drive the game, which is killed by the dogs, or shot with arrows or bullets. The flesh of the spoil is divided up between the sylvan deity, the jenmi (landlord), the dogs, the man who put the first arrow or bullet into the animal, and the other Kuricchas. In some places, the Kuricchas use arrows for shooting fresh-water fish. The principle is described by Mr. Fawcett as being the same as in the Greenlander’s spear, and the dart used with a blow-pipe on the west coast for catching sharks.

From Malabar I have received two forms of blowpipe, used for killing fish, birds, and small game. In one, the tube consists of a piece of straight slender bamboo about 4′ 6″ in length; the other, which is about 7′ in length, is made from the stem of the areca palm. In the latter, two pieces of the stem are placed face to face, so that a complete tube is made. Round the exterior, thin cloth or tree-bark, steeped in gum, is tightly wrapped, so that the two halves are kept together. Sometimes the blow-pipe is decorated with painted [129]designs. The arrow consists of a reed shaft and iron arrow-head, which, by means of a socket, fits loosely on the conical end of the shaft. A piece of string, several feet long, is tied round the arrow-head, and wound closely round the shaft. When the arrow is discharged from the tube, and enters, for example, the body of a fish, the string is uncoiled from the shaft, which floats on the surface of the water, and points out the position of the fish, which is hauled up.

A Paniyan, Adiyan, Kurumba, or Pulayan, approaching within a recognised distance of a Kuriccha, conveys pollution, which must be removed by a bath, holy water, and the recitation of mantrams (consecrated formulæ). The Kuricchas address Brāhmans as Tambrakal, and Nāyars as Tamburan. They are themselves addressed by Paniyans and Adiyans as Acchan and Pāppan, by Jēn Kurumbas as Mūttappan, and by Pulayans as Perumannom.

In addition to Mūttappan, the Kuricchas worship various other deities, such as Karimbil Bhagavathi, Malakurathi, and Athirallan. No animal sacrifices are performed, but each family celebrates annually a ceremony called Kollu Kodukal, for which the Pittan (head of the family) fixes an auspicious day. The temple is cleaned, and smeared with cow-dung, and holy water is sprinkled, to remove all pollution. Those who attend at the ceremony bathe before proceeding to the temple, which is lighted with oil-lamps. Cocoanuts, sugar-candy, plantains, beaten rice, a measure (edangali) full of rice, and another full of paddy, are placed before the lamps, and offered to the deity by the Pittan. One of the community becomes possessed, and gives forth oracular utterances. Finally he falls down, and the deity is supposed to have left him. [130]The offerings are distributed among those who have assembled.

The management of tribal affairs is vested in the Pittans of the different families, and the final appellate authority is the Kottayath Rāja, who authorises certain Nāyars to hear appeals on his behalf.

The Kuricchas celebrate the tāli-kettu kalyānam. Marriages are arranged by the Pittans. The wedding is a very simple affair. The bridegroom brings a pair of cloths and rings made of white metal or brass as a present for the bride, and a feast is held.

Kurivi (sparrow).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Kūrma (tortoise).—A gōtra of Nagarālu. The equivalent Kurum is recorded as a sept of Pentiya.

Kūrmapu.—The Kurmapuvāllu are women, in the Vizagapatam district, who have not entered into matrimony, but earn money by prostitution, and acting as dancers at feasts. They are so called from the fact that they were originally dancing-girls attached to the temple of Srī Kūrmam, a place of pilgrimage in Vizagapatam.47

Kurni.—The name Kurni is, according to the Census Report, 1901, “a corruption of kuri (sheep) and vanni (wool), the caste having been originally weavers of wool. They now weave cotton and silk, and also cultivate. They have two main sub-divisions, Hirē (big) and Chikka (small). The Hirēs are all Lingāyats, and are said to have sixty-six totemistic septs or gōtras. They employ Jangams as priests, and also men of their own caste, who are called Chittikāras. They will mess with the non-Lingāyat section, and with Lingāyats of other castes. They do not eat meat, or smoke or drink alcohol, but the Chikkas do all three. Marriage before puberty [131]is the rule in the caste. Divorces are permitted. Widows may marry again, but have to spend two nights alone at two different temples. Their wedding ceremonies are carried out by widows only, and the woman is not afterwards allowed to take part in religious or family observances.” A synonym of both Kurnis and Dēvāngas is Jāda or Jāndra, meaning great men. A further synonym of the Kurnis is said to be Kunigiri. The term Nēse, meaning weaver, is applied to several of the weaving castes, including the Kurnis.

The following extract is taken from an appeal for subscriptions in aid of the publication of the Bhavishyottara Purāna by the Kurnis in a village in the Bellary district. “Greetings from all the Kuruhine Setti Vīrasaivas residing in Hirihala village of Bellary tāluk. The wish of the writers is that all, old and young, should rejoice in the sixty-six gōtras, sixty-six rūdras, and sixty-six rishis. He who reads the order of these sixty-six gōtras of the Kuruhina Settis will enter Sivaloka. His twenty-one generations will attain to the position of gānas (attendants) of Sivaloka. Such was the order of Īswara. This is the end of the chapter in the Nīlakantha Mallikarjūna Bhavishyat purāna acquired by Shanmukha from the Īswara shruti of the Haravātula.” The gōtras are described as being of the Brāhman, Kshatriya, and Vaisya sub-divisions of the caste, and of Shanmukha’s Sūdra caste:—


  • Anasu, ferrule.
  • Anchu, edge or border.
  • Arashina, turmeric.
  • Āre, Bauhinia racemosa.
  • Ārya, venerable.
  • Banaju, trade or painted wooden toys.
  • Bandi, cart.
  • Banni, Prosopis spicigera.
  • Basari, fig tree.
  • Bennē, butter.
  • Bīlē, white.
  • Dharma, conduct.
  • Durga, fort. [132]
  • Gaduge, throne.
  • Gauda, headman.
  • Gikkili, rattle.
  • Gorige, Cyamopsis psoralioides.
  • Gullu, Solanum ferox.
  • Gundu, cannon-ball.
  • Halige, plank.
  • Hālu, milk.
  • Heggu, nape of the neck.
  • Hemmē, vanity.
  • Hittu, flour.
  • Hon, gold.
  • Hullu, grass.
  • Īmē, eyelid.
  • In, sweet.
  • Inichi, squirrel.
  • Irāni, earthen vessel used at marriages.
  • Jāli, Acacia arabica.
  • Jīrige, cummin seed.
  • Jīva, life.
  • Junju, cock’s comb.
  • Kādi, blade of grass.
  • Kātige, collyrium.
  • Kadlē (Bengal gram, Cicer arietinum).
  • Kādu, wild.
  • Kakkē, Cassia Fistula.
  • Kamādi, tortoise.
  • Kanni, rope.
  • Kattē, embankment.
  • Ken, red.
  • Kenja, red ant.
  • Kere, tank.
  • Kēsari, lion.
  • Kinkila, Indian cuckoo, Eudynamis honorata.
  • Koti, dagger.
  • Kudure, horse.
  • Kunte, pond.
  • Kurivi, sparrow.
  • Malligē, jasmine.
  • Maralu, sand.
  • Menasu, pepper or chillies.
  • Midichi, locust.
  • Mini, leather rope.
  • Muchchu, broken rice.
  • Muddu, kiss or love.
  • Mullu, thorn.
  • Nāga, snake.
  • Nellu, unhusked rice.
  • Parama, highest.
  • Raksha, protecting.
  • Rāma, lovely.
  • Rikki, feather ?
  • Salige, wire.
  • Sampigē, Michelia Champaca.
  • Samsāra, family.
  • Sara, string.
  • Sindhu, sea or flag ?
  • Swarabha, sound.
  • Tikkē, gem.
  • Uttama, best.
  • Vanki, armlet.
  • Vattē, camel.

Some of the above names also occur as exogamous septs, or sub-divisions of other Canarese or Telugu classes, e.g.— [133]

Arashina, turmeric. Agasa, Kuruba, Oddē.

Bandi, cart. Kāpu, Kavarai, Kuruba, Kuravan, Māla, Oddē, Yānādi.

Hālu, milk. Holeya, Kuruba, Vakkaliga.

Hon, gold. Kuruba, Oddē.

Jīrige, cummin. Kuruba.

Kudure, horse. Vakkaliga.

Malligē, Malli, or Mallēla, jasmine. Holeya, Kamma, Kuruba, Kuravan, Mādiga, Māla, Oddē, Tsākala.

Menasu, pepper or chillies. Kuruba.

Sampigi or Sampangi, Michelia Champaca. Oddē.

Kuruba.—Though plucky in hunting bears and leopards, the Kurubas at Hospet were exceedingly fearful of myself and my methods, and were only partially ingratiated by an offer of a money prize at one of the wrestling combats, in which they delight, and of which I had a private exhibition. The wrestlers, some of whom were splendid specimens of muscularity, had, I noticed, the moustache clipped short, and hair clean shaved at the back of the head, so that there was none for the adversary to grip. One man, at the entreaties of an angry spouse, was made to offer up the silver coin, presented by me in return for the loan of his body for measurement, as bad money at the shrine of Udachallama, together with two annas of his own as a peace-offering to the goddess. The wives of two men (brothers), who came to me for measurement, were left sobbing in the village. One, at the last moment, refused to undergo the operation, on the principle that one should be taken, and the other left. A man was heard, at question time, to mutter “Why, when we are hardworking and poor, do we keep our hair, while this rich and lazy Sāhib has gone bald?” Another (I believe, the tame village [134]lunatic) was more complimentary, and exclaimed “We natives are the betel leaf and nut. You, Sir, are the chunam (lime), which makes them perfect.”

Many of the Kurubas wear charms in the form of a string of black sheep’s wool, or thread tied round the arm or neck, sometimes with sacred ashes wrapped inside, as a vow to some minor deity, or a four anna piece to a superior deity. A priest wore a necklet of rudrāksha (Elæocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and a silver box, containing the material for making the sacred marks on the forehead, pendent from a loin string. His child wore a similar necklet, a copper ornament engraved with cabalistic devices, and silver plate bearing a figure of Hanumān, as all his other children had died, and a piece of pierced pottery from the burial-ground, to ward off whooping-cough, suspended round the neck. In colour-scale the Kurubas vary enormously, from very dark to light brown. The possessor of the fairest skin, and the greatest development of adipose tissue, was a sub-magistrate. At Hospet, many had bushy mutton-chop whiskers. Their garments consisted of a tight fitting pair of short drawers, white turban, and black kambli (blanket), which does duty as overcoat, umbrella, and sack for bringing in grass from the outlying country.

Some of the Kurubas are petty land-owners, and raise crops of cholam (Andropogon Sorghum), rice, Hibiscus cannabinus, etc. Others are owners of sheep, shepherds, weavers, cultivators, and stone-masons. The manufacture of coarse blankets for wearing apparel is, to a very large extent, carried on by the Kurubas. In connection with this industry, I may quote the following extracts from my “Monograph on the woollen fabric industry of the Madras Presidency” (1898). [135]

Bellary.—In the Bellary Manual (1872), it is stated that “cumblies are the great article of export, and the rugs made in the Kūdligi tāluk are in great demand, and are sent to all parts of the country. They are manufactured of various qualities, from the coarse elastic cumbly used in packing raw cotton, price about six annas, to a fine kind of blanket, price Rs. 6 to 8. In former times, a much finer fabric was manufactured from the wool of the lamb when six months old, and cumblies of this kind sold for Rs. 50 or Rs. 60. These are no longer made.” Coarse blankets are at present made in 193 villages, the weavers being mostly Kurubas, who obtain the wool locally, sun-dry it, and spin it into thread, which is treated with a watery paste of tamarind seeds. The weaving is carried out as in the case of an ordinary cotton cloth, the shuttle being a piece of wood hollowed out on one side. Inside the ruined Marātha fort at Sandūr dwells a colony of Kurubas, whose profession is blanket-weaving. The preliminary operations are performed by the women, and the weaving is carried out by the men, who sit, each in his own pit, while they pass the shuttle through the warp with repeated applications of tamarind paste from a pot at their side.

Kurnool.—Blankets are manufactured in 39 villages. Sheep’s wool is beaten and cleaned, and spun into yarn with hand spindles. In the case of the mutaka, or coarse cumblies used by the poorer classes, the thread used for the warp is well rubbed with a gruel made of tamarind seeds before being fitted up in the loom, which is generally in the open air. In the case of jadi, or cumblies of superior quality used as carpets, no gruel is used before weaving. But, when they are taken off the loom, the weavers spread them out tight on a country cot, pour boiling water over them, and rub them well [136]with their hands, until the texture becomes thick and smooth.

Kistna.—Both carpets and blankets are made at Masulipatam, and blankets only, to a considerable extent, in the Gudivāda tāluk. The Tahsildar of Nuzvīd, in several villages of which tāluk the blanket-weaving industry is carried on, gives me the following note. The sheep, of which it is intended to shear the wool, are first bathed before shearing. If the wool is not all of the same colour, the several colours are picked out, and piled up separately. This being done, each separate pile is beaten, not as a whole, but bit by bit, with a light stick of finger thickness. Then the cleaning process is carried out, almost in the way adopted by cotton-spinners, but with a smaller bow. Then the wool is spun into yarn with the help of a thin short piece of stick, near the bottom of which a small flat, circular or square weight of wood or pot-stone (steatite) is attached, so as to match the force of the whirling given to the stick on the man’s thigh. After a quantity of yarn has been prepared, a paste is smeared over it, to stiffen it, so that it can be easily passed through the loom. The paste is prepared with kajagaddalu, or tamarind seeds, when the former is not available. Kajagaddalu is a weed with a bulbous root, sometimes as large as a water-melon. The root is boiled in water, and the thin coating which covers it removed while it is still hot. The root is then reduced to a pulp by beating in a mortar with frequent sprinkling of water. The pulp is mixed with water, to make it sticky, and applied to the yarn. Tamarind seeds are split in two, and soaked in water for several hours. The outer coating then becomes detached, and is removed. The seeds are beaten into a fine flour, and boiled until this acquires [137]the necessary consistency. They are then made into a paste with water, and applied to the yarn.

Madura.—Coarse blankets are manufactured to a small extent by Kuruba women in twenty-two villages of the Mēlūr, Dindigul, and Palni tāluks.

In the province of Mysore, parts of Chitaldrūg and the town of Kolar are noted for the manufacture of a superior kind of blanket, of fine texture like homespun, by Kurubas. The wool is spun by the women.

By one section of the Kurubas, called Sunnata or Vasa (new) only white blankets are said to be made.

The personal names of Kurubas are derived from their gods, Basappa, Lingappa, Narasimha, Huliga, etc., with Ayya, Appa, or Anna as affixes. An educational officer tells me that, when conducting a primary examination, he came across a boy named Mondrolappa after Sir Thomas Munro, who still lives in the affections of the people.

“It has,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,48 “been suggested that the name Kuruba is a derivative of the Canarese root kuru, sheep (cf. Tamil kori); but it has been objected to this that the Kurumbas were not originally a purely shepherd tribe, and it is contended that the particular kind of sheep called kori is so called because it is the sheep of the Kurumbas. Again, the ancient lexicographer of the Tamil language, Pingala Muni, defines Kurumban as Kurunila Mannar, or petty chieftains. But the most common derivation is from the Tamil kurumbu, wickedness, so that Kurumban means a wicked man. With this may be compared the derivation of Kallan from kalavu, theft, and the Kallans are now generally believed to have been closely [138]connected with, if not identical with the original Kurumbas. On the other hand, the true derivation may be in the other direction, as in the case of the Sclavs. The language of the Kurumbas is a dialect of Canarese, and not of Tamil, as stated by Bishop Caldwell. It resembles the old Canarese.” Concerning the affinities of the Kurubas, Mr. Stuart states that “they are the modern representatives of the ancient Pallavas, who were once so powerful in Southern India. In the seventh century, the power of the Pallava kings seems to have been at its zenith, though very little trace of their greatness now remains; but, soon after this, the Kongu, Chōla, and Chālukya chiefs succeeded in winning several victories over them, and the final overthrow of the Kurumba sovereignty was effected by the Chōla King Adondai about the eighth century A.D., and the Kurumbas were scattered far and wide. Many fled to the hills, and, in the Nīlgiris and Wynād, in Coorg and Mysore, representatives of this ancient race are now found as wild and uncivilised tribes.” Let me call anthropometric evidence, and compare the Kurubas of Mysore and Bellary with the jungle Kurumbas of the Nīlgiris and the allied Kādirs and Mala Vēdars, by means of the two important physical characters, stature and nasal index.

Stature. Nasal index.
Average. Maximum. Minimum. Average. Maximum. Minimum.
cm. cm. cm.
Kurubas, Mysore 163.9 176.4 155 73.2 85.9 62.3
Kurubas, Bellary 162.7 175.4 153.4 74.9 92.2 63.3
Kurumbas, Nīlgiris 157.5 163.6 149.6 88.8 111.1 79.1
Kādirs 157.7 169.4 148.6 89.8 115.4 72.9
Mala Vēdars 154.2 163.8 140.8 84.9 102.6 71.1


In this table, the wide gap which separates the domesticated Kurubas of the Mysore Province and the adjacent Bellary district from the conspicuously platyrhine and short-statured Kurumbas and other jungle tribes, stands out prominently before any one who is accustomed to deal on a large scale with bodies and noses. And I confess that I like to regard the Kurumbas, Mala Vēdars, Kādirs, Paniyans, and other allied tribes of short stature with broad noses as the most archaic existing inhabitants of the south of the Indian peninsula, and as having dwelt in the jungles, unclothed, and living on roots, long before the seventh century. The question of the connection between Kurubas and Kurumbas is further discussed in the note on the latter tribe.

The popular tradition as to the origin of the caste is as follows. Originally the Kurubas were Kāpus. Their ancestors were Masi Reddi and Nīlamma, who lived on the eastern ghāts by selling firewood, and had six sons. Taking pity on their poverty, Siva came begging to their house in the disguise of a Jangam, and gave Nīlamma some sacred ashes, while promising prosperity through the birth of another son, who was called Undala Padmanna. The family became prosperous through agriculture. But, unlike his six brothers, Undala Padmanna never went out to work in the fields. They accordingly contrived to get rid of him by asking him to set fire to some brushwood concealing a white-ant hill, in the hope that the snake within it would kill him. But, instead of a snake, an innumerable host of sheep appeared. Frightened at the sight of these strange black beasts, Undala Padmanna took to his heels. But Siva appeared, and told him that they were created for his livelihood, and that he should rear them, [140]and live by their milk. He taught him how to milk the sheep and boil the milk, and sent him to a distant town, which was occupied by Rākshasas, to fetch fire. There the giants were keeping in bondage a Brāhman girl, who fell in love with Undala Padmanna. They managed to escape from the clutches of the Rākshasas by arranging their beds over deep pits, which were dug for their destruction. To save her lover, the girl transformed him into a lizard. She then went with him to the place where his flock was, and Undala Padmanna married a girl of his own caste, and had male offspring by her as well as the Brāhman. At the marriage of these sons, a thread kankanam (bracelet) was tied to the wrist of the caste woman’s offspring, and a woollen kankanam to that of the Brāhman girl’s sons. The sons of the former were, therefore, called Atti (cotton) Kankanadavaru, and those of the latter Unni (woollen) Kankanadavaru. The latter are considered inferior, as they are of hybrid origin. A third sub-division is that of the Andē Kurubas, named after the small vessel (andē) used in milking goats. In a note on the Kurubas of Ālūr, Thikka, meaning a simpleton, is given as the name of an important division. It is noted in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that the Kurubas have not taken kindly to education, and are by nature so simple that Kuruba has, in some places, become a byword for a simpleton. The Kurubas are also known as Hālu Mata, or milk caste, as they believe that they were created out of milk by Rēvana Siddēswara. In Hindustani they are called Dhangars, or rich people. Some, in spite of their poor dress and appearance, are well-to-do. At the Madras census, 1901, Kāvādiga, Kumpani, and Rāyarvamsam (Rāja’s clan) were returned by some members of the community. In Mysore, the Kurubas are [141]said49 to be divided into Handē Kurubas and Kurubas proper, who have no intercourse with one another. The latter worship Bire Dēvaru, and are Saivites. According to another account, the Hālu Kurubas of Mysore have sub-divisions according to the day of the week, on which they offer pūja to their god, e.g., Aditya Vārada (Sunday), Brihaspati Vārada (Thursday), Sōma Vārada (Monday).

“The Kurubas,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, “are again sub-divided into clans or gumpus, each having a headman or guru called a gaudu, who gives his name to the clan. And the clans are again sub-divided into gōtras or septs, which are mostly of totemistic origin, and retain their totemistic character to this day. The Arisana gōtram is particularly worthy of notice. The name means saffron (turmeric), and this was originally taboo; but, as this caused inconvenience, the korra grain has been substituted, although the old name of the sept was retained.”

Exogamous septs.

  • Agni, fire.
  • Alige, drum.
  • Andara, booth.
  • Ānē, elephant.
  • Arashina or Arisana, turmeric.
  • Ārathi, wave offering.
  • Ari, ebony.
  • Ariya, noble.
  • Āvu, snake.
  • Bandi, cart.
  • Banni (Prosopis spicigera).
  • Basalē (Basella rubra).
  • Batlu, cup.
  • Belata (Feronia elephantum).
  • Belli, silver.
  • Bēlu (Ægle Marmelos).
  • Bendē (Hibiscus esculentus).
  • Benisē, flint.
  • Bēvu or Bēvina (Melia Azadirachta).
  • Bīnu, roll of woollen thread.
  • Bola, bangle.
  • Chandra, moon.
  • Chēlu, scorpion.
  • Chilla (Strychnos potatorum).
  • Chinna or Sinnata, gold. [142]
  • Dēva, a tree.
  • Emmē, buffalo.
  • Gāli, devil.
  • Gauda, headman.
  • Gulimi, pick-axe.
  • Hālu, milk.
  • Hatti, hut.
  • Honnungara, gold ring.
  • Ibābire, tortoise.
  • Irula, darkness.
  • Iruvu, black ant.
  • Jelakuppa, a fish.
  • Jīrige, cummin.
  • Jīvala, an insect.
  • Kalle, bengal gram.
  • Kanchu, bell-metal.
  • Kavada, coloured border of a cloth.
  • Kombu, stick.
  • Kori, blanket.
  • Mānā, measure.
  • Malli, jasmine.
  • Menusu, pepper.
  • Minchu, metal toe-ring.
  • Mīse, moustache.
  • Mugga, loom.
  • Muttu, pearl.
  • Nāli, bamboo tube.
  • Nāyi, dog.
  • Othu, goat.
  • Putta, ant-hill; snake hole.
  • Ratna, precious stones.
  • Sāmanti or Sāvanti (Chrysanthemum).
  • Sāmē (millet: Panicum miliare).
  • Samudra, ocean.
  • Sankhu, conch-shell.
  • Sarige, lace.
  • Sūrya, sun.
  • Thuppa, clarified butter.
  • Turaka, Muhammadan.
  • Ungara, ring.
  • Uppiri, earth-salt.

The titles of members of the caste are Gauda or Heggade, and the more prosperous go by the name of Kaudikiaru, a corruption of Gaudikiaru. Many, at the present day, have adopted the title Nāyakkan. Some are called Gorava Vāndlu.

According to Mr. Stuart, “each community of Kurubas, residing in a group of villages, has a headman or Gaudu. He acts the part of pūjari or priest in all their ceremonies, presides over their tribal meetings, and settles disputes. He is paid four annas, or, as they call it, one rūka per house per annum. He is a strict vegetarian, and will not eat with other Kurubas.” The headman or guru of the caste in Bellary goes by the [143]name of Rēvana Siddēswara, and he wears the lingam, and follows the Lingāyat creed. Sometimes he dines with his people, and, on these occasions, new cooking pots must be used. He exercises the power of inflicting fines, excommunicating those who have had illicit intercourse with Bōyas, Muhammadans, and others, etc. The Kurubas in Bellary and Anantapūr are said to pay three pies to their guru for every blanket which they sell. The name of the tribal headman at Ālur is Kattaiyintivādu, i.e., shed with a pial or raised verandah in front of it. Among both Kurubas and Bēdars, a special building, built by public subscription, and called the katta-illu or chāvadi, is set apart for council meetings, at which tribal affairs are discussed and decided.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is kept in a corner of the house for eight days. On the ninth day she bathes, and food is taken to her by an old woman of the house. Kuruba women are invited to be present in the evening. The girl, covered with a blanket, is seated on a raised place. Those assembled throw rice over her feet, knees, shoulders, and head, and into her lap. Coloured turmeric and lime water is then waved three or five times round her, and rāvikes (body-cloths) are presented to her.

The following account of the marriage ceremonial was recorded in Western Bellary. When a marriage has been settled between the parents of the young people, visits are exchanged by the two families. On a fixed day, the contracting couple sit on a blanket at the bride’s house, and five women throw rice over five parts of the body as at the menstrual ceremony. Betel leaves and areca-nuts are placed before them, of which the first portion is set apart for the god Bīrappa, the second for [144]the Gauda, another for the house god, and so on up to the tenth. A general distribution then takes place The ceremony, which is called sākshi vilya or witness betel-leaf, is brought to a conclusion by waving in front of the couple a brass vessel, over the mouth of which five betel leaves and a ball of ashes are placed. They then prostrate themselves before the guru. For the marriage ceremony, the services of the guru, a Jangam, or a Brāhman priest, are called into requisition. Early on the wedding morning, the bridal couple are anointed and washed. A space, called the irāni square, is marked out by placing at the four corners a pot filled with water. Round each pot a cotton thread is wound five times. Similar thread is also tied to the milk-post of the marriage pandal (booth), which is made of pīpal (Ficus religiosa) wood. Within the square a pestle, painted with red and white stripes, is placed, on which the bride and bridegroom, with two young girls, seat themselves. Rice is thrown over them, and they are anointed and washed. To each a new cloth is given, in which they dress themselves, and the wrist-thread (kankanam) is tied on all four. Presents are given by relations, and ārathi (red water) is waved round them. The bridegroom is decorated with a bāshingam (chaplet of flowers), and taken on a bull to a Hanumān shrine along with his best man. Cocoanuts, camphor, and betel are given to the priest as an offering to the god. According to another account, both bride and bridegroom go to the shrine, where a matron ties on their foreheads chaplets of flowers, pearls, etc. At the marriage house a dais has been erected close to the milk-post, and covered with a blanket, on which a mill-stone and basket filled with cholum (Andropogon Sorghum) are placed. The bridegroom, standing with a foot on the stone and [145]the bride with a foot on the basket, the gold tāli, after it has been touched by five married women, is tied round the bride’s neck by the officiating priest, while those assembled throw rice over the happy pair, and bless them. According to another version, a bed-sheet is interposed as a screen, so that the bride and bridegroom cannot see each other. On the three following days, the newly-married couple sit on the blanket, and rice is thrown over them. In Western Bellary, the bridegroom, on the third day, carries the bride on his waist to Hanumān temple, where married women throw rice over them. On the fifth morning, they are once more anointed and washed within the irāni square, and, towards evening, the bride’s father hands her over to her husband, saying “She was till this time a member of my sept and house. Now I hand her over to your sept and house.” On the night of the sixth day, a ceremony called booma idothu (food placing) is performed. A large metal vessel (gangālam) is filled with rice, ghī (clarified butter), curds, and sugar. Round this some of the relations of the bride and bridegroom sit, and finish off the food. The number of those, who partake thereof must be an odd one, and they must eat the food as quickly as possible. If anything goes wrong with them, while eating or afterwards, it is regarded as an omen of impending misfortune. Some even consider it as an indication of the bad character of the bride.

Concerning the marriage ceremony of the Kurubas of North Arcot, Mr. Stuart writes as follows. “As a preliminary to the marriage, the bridegroom’s father observes certain marks or curls on the head of the proposed bride. Some of these are believed to forebode prosperity, and others only misery to the family, into which the girl enters. They are, therefore, very cautious [146]in selecting only such girls as possess curls (suli) of good fortune. This curious custom, obtaining among this primitive tribe, is observed by others only in the case of the purchase of cows, bulls, and horses. One of the good curls is the bāshingam found on the forehead; and the bad ones are the pēyanākallu at the back of the head, and the edirsuli near the right temple. But widowers seeking for wives are not generally particular in this respect. [As bad curls are supposed to cause the death of the man who is their possessor, she is, I am informed, married to a widower.] The marriage is celebrated in the bridegroom’s house, and, if the bride belongs to a different village, she is escorted to that of the bridegroom, and is made to wait in a particular spot outside it, selected for the occasion. On the first day of the marriage, pūrna kumbam, a small decorated vessel containing milk or ghī, with a two-anna piece and a cocoanut placed on the betel leaf spread over the mouth of it, is taken by the bridegroom’s relations to meet the bride’s party. Therethe distribution of pān supāri takes place, and both parties return to the village. Meanwhile, the marriage booth is erected, and twelve twigs of nāval (Eugenia Jambolana) are tied to the twelve pillars, the central or milk post, under which the bridal pair sit, being smeared with turmeric, and a yellow thread being tied thereto. At an auspicious hour of the third day, the couple are made to sit in the booth, the bridegroom facing the east, and the bride facing west. On a blanket spread near the kumbam, 2½ measures of rice, a tāli or bottu, one cocoanut, betel leaf and camphor are placed. The Gaudu places a ball of vibhūti (sacred ashes) thereon, breaks a cocoanut, and worships the kumbam, while camphor is burnt. The Gaudu next takes the tāli, blesses it, and gives it [147]to the bridegroom, who ties it round the bride’s neck. The Gaudu then, throwing rice on the heads of the pair, recites a song, in which the names of various people are mentioned, and concluding ‘Oh! happy girl; Oh! prosperous girl; Basava has come; remove your veil.’ The girl then removes her veil, and the men and women assembled throw rice on the heads of the bridal pair. The ends of their garments are then tied together, and two girls and three boys are made to eat out of the plates placed before the married couple. A feast to all their relations completes the ceremony. The Gaudu receives 2½ measures of rice, five handfuls of nuts and betel leaf, and twelve saffrons (pieces of turmeric) as his fee. Even though the girl has attained puberty, the nuptial ceremony is not coincident with the wedding, but is celebrated a few months later.” In like manner, among the Kammas, Gangimakkulu, and other classes, consummation does not take place until three months after the marriage ceremony, as it is considered unlucky to have three heads of a family in a household during the first year of marriage. By the delay, the birth of a child should take place only in the second year, so that, during the first year, there will be only two heads, husband and wife. At a marriage among the Kurubas of the Madura district, a chicken is waved in front of the contracting couple, to avert the evil eye. The maternal uncle’s consent to a marriage is necessary, and, at the wedding, he leads the bride to the pandal. A Kuruba may, I am informed, marry two sisters, either on the death of one of them, or if his first wife has no issue, or suffers from an incurable disease. Some twenty years ago, when an unmarried Kuruba girl was taken to a temple, to be initiated as a Basavi (dedicated prostitute), the [148]caste men prosecuted the father as a protest against the practice.

In the North Arcot district, according to Mr. Stuart, “the mother and child remain in a separate hut for the first ten days after delivery. On the eleventh day, all the Kuruba females of the village bring each a pot of hot water, and bathe the mother and child. Betel and nuts are distributed, and all the people of the village eat in the mother’s house. On the next market-day, her husband, with some of his male friends, goes to a neighbouring market, and consults with a Korava or Yerukala what name is to be given to the child, and the name he mentions is then given to it.” In a case which came before the police in the Bellary district in 1907, a woman complained that her infant child had been taken away, and concealed in the house of another woman, who was pregnant. The explanation of the abduction was that there is a belief that, if a pregnant woman keeps a baby in her bed, she will have no difficulty at the time of delivery.

Remarriage of widows is permitted. The ceremony is performed in a temple or dark room, and the tāli is tied by a widow, a woman dedicated to the deity, or a Dāsayya (mendicant) of their own caste. According to another account, a widow is not allowed to wear a tāli, but is presented with a cloth. Hence widow marriage is called Sirē Udiki. Children of widows are married into families in which no widow remarriage has taken place, and are treated like ordinary members of the community.

In Western Bellary I gathered that the dead are buried, those who have been married with the face upwards, others with the face downwards. The grave is dug north and south, and the head is placed to the [149]south. Earth is thrown into the grave by relations before it is filled in. A mound is raised over it, and three stones are set up, over the head, navel, and feet. The eldest son of the deceased places on his left shoulder a pot filled with water, in the bottom of which three small holes are made, through which the water escapes. Proceeding from the spot beneath which the head rests, he walks round the grave, and then drops the pot so that it falls on the mound, and goes home without looking back. This ceremony is a very important one with both Kurubas and Bēdars. In the absence of a direct heir, he who carries the pot claims the property of the deceased, and is considered to be the inheritor thereof. For the propitiation of ancestors, cooked rice and sweetmeats, with a new turban and cloth or petticoat, according to the sex of the deceased, are offered up. Ancestors who died childless, unless they left property, do not receive homage. It is noted, in the Bellary Gazetteer, that “an unusual rite is in some cases observed after deaths, a pot of water being worshipped in the house on the eleventh day after the funeral, and taken the next morning and emptied in some lonely place. The ceremony is named the calling back of the dead, but its real significance is not clear.”

Of the death ceremonies in the North Arcot district, Mr. Stuart writes that “the son, or, in his absence, a near relative goes round the grave three times, carrying a pot of water, in which he makes a hole at each round. On the third round he throws down the pot, and returns home straight, without turning his face towards the direction of the grave. For three days, the four carriers of the bier are not admitted into their houses, but they are fed at the cost of the deceased’s heir. On the [150]the third day, cooked rice, a fowl and water are taken to the burial-ground, and placed near the grave, to be eaten by the spirit of the dead. The son, and all his relations, return home, beating on their mouths. Pollution is observed for ten days, and, on the eleventh day, sheep and fowls are killed, and a grand feast is given to the Kurumbas of the village. Before the feast commences, a leaf containing food is placed in a corner of the house, and worshipped. This is removed on the next morning, and placed over the roof, to be eaten by crows. If the deceased be a male, the glass bangles worn by his wife on her right arm are broken on the same day.”

The patron saint of the Kurubas is Bīrappa or Bīradēvaru, and they will not ride on horses or ponies, as these are the vehicles of the god. But they worship, in addition, various minor deities, e.g., Uligamma, Mallappa, Anthargattamma, Kencharāya, and have their house gods, who are worshipped either by a house or by an entire exogamous sept. In some places, Māriamma and Sunkulamma are worshipped on Tuesday and Friday, and the sheep and other offerings are the perquisite of Bōyas, Mālas, and Mādigas. Some families of Kuruba Dāsaris reverence a goddess called Hombālamma, who is worshipped secretly by a pūjāri (priest) at dead of night. Everything used in connection with the rite is buried or otherwise disposed of before morning. The Kurubas show reverence for the jammi tree (Prosopis spicigera) and ashwatham (Ficus religiosa) by not cutting them. It was noticed by Mr. F. Fawcett that, at the temples of the village goddesses Wannathamma and Durgamma in the Bellary district, an old Kuruba woman performs the daily worship. In the mantapam of the temple at Lēpākshi, in the Anantapur district, “is the sculptured figure of a man leaning his chin upon his [151]hands, which is said to represent a Kuruba who once acted as mediator between the builder of the temple and his workmen in a dispute about wages. The image is still bathed in oil, and worshipped by the local Kurubas, who are proud of the important part played by their caste-man.”50 In Mysore, the Kurubas are said to worship a box, which they believe contains the wearing apparel of Krishna under the name of Junjappa. One of the goddesses worshipped by the Kurubas is named Kēlu Dēvaru or Manē Hennu Dēvaru, the pot or household deity. She is worshipped annually at the Dasara festival, and, on occasions of marriage, just before the tāli is tied. The pot is made by a Kumbāra (potter), who is well paid for his work. During its manufacture, he has to take only one meal daily, and to avoid pollution of all kinds. The clay should be kneaded with the hands, and wetted with milk, milk of tender cocoanuts, and water. When at work on it, the potter should close his mouth with a bandage, so that his breath may not defile the pot. The Kurubas who are settled in the Madura district reverence Vīra Lakkamma (Lakshmi) as their family deity, and an interesting feature in connection with the worship of their goddess is that cocoanuts are broken on the head of a special Kuruba, who becomes possessed by the deity.

The Kurubas are ancestor worshippers, and many of them have in their possession golden discs called hithāradha tāli, with the figures of one or more human beings stamped on them. The discs are made by Akasāles (goldsmiths), who stamp them from steel dies. They are either kept in the house, or worn round the neck by women. If the deceased was a [152]celebrity in the community, a large plate is substituted for a disc.

Concerning the religion of the Kurubas, Mr. Francis writes as follows. “The most striking point about the caste is its strong leaning towards the Lingāyat faith. Almost everywhere, Jangams are called in as priests, and allegiance to the Lingāyat maths (religious institutions) is acknowledged, and in places (Kāmalāpuram for example), the ceremonies at weddings and funerals have been greatly modified in the direction of the Lingāyat pattern.”51 “In the North Arcot district, the Gaudu is entrusted with the custody of a golden image representing the hero of the clan, and keeps it carefully in a small box filled with turmeric powder. There are also some images set up in temples built for the purpose. Once a year, several neighbouring clans assemble at one of their bigger temples, which is lighted with ghī, and, placing their images in a row, offer to them flowers, cocoanuts, milk, etc., but they do not slay any victim. On the last day of their festival, the Kurumbas take a bath, worship a bull, and break cocoanuts upon the heads of pūjāris who have an hereditary right to this distinction, and upon the head of the sacred bull. Some Kurumbas do not adopt this apparently inhuman practice. A pūjāri or priest, supposed to have some supernatural power, officiates, and begins by breaking a few nuts on the heads of those nearest to him, and then the rest go on, the fragments belonging by right to those whose skulls have cracked them, and who value the pieces as sacred morsels of food. For a month before this ceremony, all the people have taken no meat, and for three days the pūjāris have lived on fruits and milk alone. At [153]the feast, therefore, all indulge in rather immoderate eating, but drink no liquor, calling excitedly upon their particular god to grant them a prosperous year. The temples of this caste are usually rather extensive, but rude, low structures, resembling an enclosed mantapam supported upon rough stone pillars, with a small inner shrine, where the idols are placed during festival time. A wall of stone encloses a considerable space round the temple, and this is covered with small structures formed of four flat stones, three being the walls, and the fourth the roof. The stone facing the open side has a figure sculptured upon it, representing the deceased Gaudu, or pūjāri, to whom it is dedicated. For each person of rank one of these monuments is constructed, and here periodically, and always during the annual feasts, pūja is made not only to the spirits of the deceased chiefs, but also to those of all who have died in the clan. It seems impossible not to connect this with those strange structures called by the natives Pāndava’s temples. They are numerous where the Kurumbas are now found, and are known to have been raised over the dead. Though the Kurumbas bury, they do not now raise their monuments over the resting place of the corpse. Nor can they build them upon anything approaching to the gigantic scale of the ancient kistvaen or dolmen.”52 It was noted by a correspondent of the Indian Antiquary53 that, in the Kaladgi ‘district,’ he “came across the tomb of a Kuruba only four years old. It was a complete miniature dolmen about eighteen inches every way, composed of four stones, one at each side, one at the rear, and a cap-stone. The interior was occupied by two round stones about the size of a man’s fist, painted red, [154]the deceased resting in his mother earth below.” In the open country near Kadūr in Mysore, is a shrine of Bīradēvaru, which consists of four stone pillars several feet in height surmounted by flat slabs as a cap-stone, within which the deity is represented by round stones, and stones with snakes carved on them are deposited. Within the Kuruba quarter of the town, the shrine of Anthargattamma is a regular dolmen beneath a margosa (Melia Azadirachta) tree, in which the goddess is represented by rounded stones imbedded in a mound of earth. Just outside the same town, close to a pīpal tree (Ficus religiosa) are two smaller dolmen-like structures containing stones representing two Kuruba Dāsaris, one a centenarian, who are buried there.

Kuruba Biradēvaru temple.

Kuruba Biradēvaru temple.

“The village of Maliar, in the Hadagalli tāluk of the Bellary district, contains a Siva temple, which is famous throughout the district for an annual festival held there in the month of February. This festival has now dwindled more or less into a cattle fair. But the fame of the temple continues as regards the kāranika, which is a cryptic sentence uttered by a priest, containing a prophecy of the prospect of the agricultural season of the ensuing year. The pūjāri of the temple is a Kuruba. The feast in the temple lasts for ten days. On the last day of the feast, the god Siva is represented as returning victorious from the battlefield after having slain Malla with a huge bow. He is met half-way from the field of battle by the goddess. The huge wooden bow is brought, and placed on end before the god. The Kuruba priest climbs up the bow as it is held up by two assistants, and then gets on the shoulders of these men. In this posture he stands rapt in silence for a few minutes, looking in several directions. He then begins to quake and quiver from head to foot. This is the sign of the [155]spirit of the Siva god possessing him—the sign of the divine afflatus upon him. A solemn silence holds the assembly, for the time of the kāranika has approached. The shivering Kuruba utters a cryptic sentence, such as Ākāsakkē sidlu bodiyuttu, or thunder struck the sky. This is at once copied down, and interpreted as a prophecy that there will be much rain in the year to come. Thus every year, in the month of February, the kāranika of Mailar is uttered and copied, and kept by all in the district as a prophecy. This kāranika prognostication is also pronounced now at the Mallari temple in the Dharwar district, at Nerakini in the Ālūr tāluk, and at Mailar Lingappa in the Harapanahalli tāluk.”54

Kuruba dolmen-like graves.

Kuruba dolmen-like graves.

The rule of inheritance among the Kurubas is said55 to differ very little from that current among Hindus, but the daughters, if the deceased has no son, share equally with the agnates. They belong to the right-hand faction, and have the privilege of passing through the main bazārs in processions. Some Mudalis and ‘Naidus’ are said to have no objection to eat, drink, and smoke with Kurubas. Gollas and some inferior flesh-eating Kāpus will also do so.

Kuruhina Setti Vīraisaivar.—A synonym of Kurni. Kuruhina means literally a sign, mark, or token. Kuruvina Banajiga occurs as a synonym of Bilimagga.

Kurukkal.See Gurukkal (Brāhman).

Kurukula Vamsam.—The name, derived from Kuru, the ancestor of the Kauravas, assumed by some Pattanavans.

Kurumba or Kuruman.—As bearing on the disputed question of the connection between the Kurumbas who dwell in the jungle, and the Kurubas (shepherds [156]and weavers) who live in the plains and open country, I may quote the evidence of various witnesses:—

Madras Census Report, 1891.—“The Kurumbas or Kurrubas are the modern representatives of the ancient Kurumbas or Pallavas, who were once so powerful throughout Southern India, but very little trace of their greatness now remains. In the seventh century, the power of the Pallava kings seems to have been at its zenith; but, shortly after this, the Kongu, Chōla, and Chālūkya chiefs succeeded in winning several victories over them. The final overthrow of the Kurumba sovereignty was effected by the Chōla king Adondai about the seventh or eighth century A.D., and the Kurumbas were scattered far and wide. Many fled to the hills, and in the Nīlgiris and the Wynād, in Coorg and Mysore, representatives of this ancient race are now found as wild and uncivilised tribes. Elsewhere the Kurumbas are more advanced, and are usually shepherds, and weavers of coarse woollen blankets.”

“Kuruman.—This caste is found in the Nīlgiris and the Wynād, with a slight sprinkling in the Nilambūr and Attapādi hills in Malabar. Their principal occupations are wood-cutting, and the collection of forest produce. The name is merely another form of Kurumban, but, as they differ from the ordinary Kurumbas, it seemed better to show them separately. I think, however, that they were originally identical with the shepherd Kurumbans, and their present separation is merely the result of their isolation in the fastnesses of the Western Ghāts, to which their ancestors fled, or gradually retreated after the downfall of the Kurumba dynasty. The name Kurumbranād, a sub-division of Malabar, still bears testimony to their once powerful position.” [157]

Madras Census Report, 1901—”Kuruba; Kurumban.—These two have always been treated as the same caste. Mr. Thurston (Madras Mus. Bull. II, i) thinks they are distinct. I have no new information, which will clearly decide the matter, but the fact seems to be that Kurumban is the Tamil form of the Telugu or Canarese Kuruba, and that the two terms are applied to the same caste according to the language in which it is referred to. There was no confusion in the abstraction offices between the two names, and it will be seen that Kuruba is returned where Canarese and Telugu are spoken, and Kurumban where the vernacular is Tamil. There are two sharply defined bodies of Kurumbans—those who live on the Nīlgiri plateau, speak the Kurumba dialect, and are wild junglemen; and those who live on the plains, speak Canarese, and are civilised.”



Mysore Census Report, 1891—Kādu Kuruba or Kurumba.—“The tribal name of Kuruba has been traced to the primeval occupation of the race, viz., the tending of sheep, perhaps when pre-historic man rose to the pastoral stage. The Uru or civilised Kurubas, who are genuine tillers of the soil, and who are dotted over the country in populous and thriving communities, and many of whom have, under the present ‘Pax Britannica,’ further developed into enterprising tradesmen and withal lettered Government officials, are the very antipodes of the Kādu or wild Kurubas or Kurumbas. The latter, like the Iruligās and Sōligās, are the denizens of the backwoods of the country, and have been correctly classed under the aboriginal population. The Tamilised name of Kurumba is applied to certain clans dwelling on the heights of the Nīlgiris, who are doubtless the offshoots of the aboriginal Kādu Kuruba stock found in Mysore.” [158]

W. R. King. Aboriginal Tribes of the Nilgiri Hills—”Kurumbas.—This tribe is of another race from the shepherd Kurumbas. The Nīlgiri tribe have neither cattle nor sheep, and in language, dress, and customs, have no affinity whatever with their namesakes.”

G. Oppert. Original Inhabitants of India—”Kurubas or Kurumbas.—However separated from each other, and scattered among the Dravidian clans with whom they have dwelt, and however distant from one another they still live, there is hardly a province in the whole of Bharatavarasha which cannot produce, if not some living remnants of this race, at least some remains of past times which prove their presence. Indeed, the Kurumbas must be regarded as very old inhabitants of this land, who can contest with their Dravidian kinsmen the priority of occupation of the Indian soil. The terms Kuruba and Kurumba are originally identical, though the one form is, in different places, employed for the other, and has thus occasionally assumed a special local meaning. Mr. H. B. Grigg appears to contradict himself when, while speaking of the Kurumbas, he says that ‘in the low country they are called Kurubas or Cūrubāru, and are divided into such families as Ānē or elephant, Nāya or dog, Māle or hill Kurumbas.’56 Such a distinction between mountain Kurumbas and plain Kurumbas cannot be established. The Rev. G. Richter will find it difficult to prove that the Kurubas of Mysore are only called so as shepherds, and that no connection exists between these Kurubas and the Kurumbas. Mr. Lewis Rice calls the wild tribes as well as the shepherds Kurubas, but seems to overlook the fact that both terms are identical, and refer to only the ethnological distinction.” [159]

The above extracts will suffice for the purpose of showing that the distinction between the jungle Kurumbas and the more civilised Kurubas, and their relationship towards each other, call for a ‘permanent settlement.’ And I may briefly place on record the results of anthropometric observations on the jungle Kurumbas of the Nīlgiris, and the domesticated Kurubas of Mysore and the Bellary district, whose stature and nasal index (two factors of primary importance) are compared with those of the jungle Paniyans of Malabar and Kādirs of the Ānaimalai mountains—

Stature. Nasal index.
Average. Average. Maximum.
Kurubas, Bellary 162.7 74.9 92
Kurubas, Mysore 163.9 73.2 86
Kurumbas, Nilgiris 157.5 88.8 111
Paniyans 157.4 95.1 108
Kādirs 151.7 89 115

A glance at the above table at once shows that there is a closer affinity between the three dark-skinned, short, platyrhine jungle tribes, than between the jungle Kurumbas and the lighter-skinned, taller, and more leptorhine Kurubas.

The domesticated Kurubas are dealt with separately, and, in the remarks which follow, I am dealing solely with the jungle Kurumbas.

The Kādu, or wild Kurumbas of Mysore are divided into “(a) Betta or hill Kurumbas, with sub-divisions called Ānē (elephant), Bevina (nīm tree: Melia Azadirachta), and Kolli (fire-brand)—a small and active race, capable of great fatigue, who are expert woodmen; (b) Jēnu or honey Kurumbas, said to be a darker and [160]inferior race, who employ themselves in collecting honey and bees-wax.”57

For the following note on the Kādu Kurumbas I am indebted to the Mysore Census Report, 1891. “There are two clans among them, viz., Bettada and Jēnu. The former worship the forest deities Nārāli and Māstamma; eat flesh and “drink liquor, a favourite beverage being prepared from rāgi (Eleusine Coracana) flour. Some of their habits and customs are worth mentioning, as indicating their plane of civilization. They have two forms of marriage. One is similar to the elaborate ceremony among the Vakkaligas, while the other is the simple one of a formal exchange of betel leaves and areca nuts, which concludes the nuptials. The Kādu Kurubas can only eat meals prepared by members of the higher castes. During their periodical illnesses, the females live outside the limits of the Hādi (group of rude huts) for three days. And, in cases of childbirth, none but the wet nurse or other attendant enters the room of the confined woman for ten days. In cases of sickness, no medical treatment is resorted to; on the other hand, exorcisms, charms, incantations, and animal sacrifices are more generally in vogue. The male’s dress consists of either a bit of cloth to cover their nudity, or a piece of coarse cloth tied round the waist, and reaching to the knees. They wear ornaments of gold, silver, or brass. They are their own barbers, and use broken glass for razors. The females wear coarse cloth four yards long, and have their foreheads tattooed in dots of two or three horizontal lines, and wear ear-rings, glass bangles, and necklaces of black beads. Strangers are not allowed to enter their hādis or hamlets with shoes or slippers on. [161]In case of death, children are buried, whilst adults are burned. On the occurrence of any untoward event, the whole site is abandoned, and a new hādi set up in the vicinity. The Kādu Kurubas are very active, and capable of enduring great fatigue. It is said that they are revengeful, but, if treated kindly, they will do willing service. The Jēnu Kurubas live in small detached huts in the interior of thick jungles, far away from inhabited places. Their habits are no less wild. The male dress consists of either a woollen kambli or coarse cloth, and a skull cap. The female’s sādi is white coarse cloth, their wonted ornaments being a pair of brass ear-rings, strings of black beads tied round the neck, and glass bangles on the wrist. These people do not allow to outcasts and Musalmans access to their premises, or permit shoes being brought into their houses or streets. They eat flesh, and take meals from Vakkaligas, Lingāyats, and other superior castes. They subsist on wild bamboo seed, edible roots, etc., found in the jungle, often mixed with honey. They are said not unfrequently to make a dessert out of bees in preference to milk, ghī (clarified butter), etc. They are engaged chiefly in felling timber in the forests, and other similar rude pursuits, but they never own or cultivate land for themselves, or keep live-stock of their own. They are very expert in tracking wild animals, and very skilfully elude accidental pursuits thereby. Their children, more than two years old, move about freely in the jungle. They are said to be hospitable to travellers visiting their place at any unusual hour. They are Saivites, and Jangams are their gurus. The ceremonial pollution on account of death lasts for ten days, as with the Brāhmans. Children are buried, while adults, male or female, are cremated. A curious trait of this primitive [162]race is that the unmarried females of the village or hādi generally sleep in a hut or chāvadi set apart for them, whilst the adult bachelors and children have a separate building, both under the eye of the head tribesman. The hut for the latter is called pundugār chāvadi, meaning literally the abode of vagabonds.” The Jēnu Kurumbas are said to eat, and the Betta Kurumbas to abstain from eating the flesh of the ‘bison’ (Bos gaurus).



In a note on the Jēnu and Betta Kurumbas of Mysore, Mr. M. Venkatanarnappa writes as follows. “The Betta are better clothed and fed than the Jēn Kurumbas. Their occupation is kumri (burning and shifting) cultivation. Their women are clever at basket-making. They can be distinguished by the method of dress which their women have adopted, and the way in which the men wear their hair. A Betta woman covers her body below the shoulders by tying a long cloth round the arm-pits, leaving shoulders and arms bare, whereas a Jēn woman in good circumstances dresses up like the village females, and, if poor, ties a piece of cloth round her loins, and wears another to partially conceal the upper part of her body. Among males, a Betta Kurumba leaves his hair uncut, and gathers it from fore and aft into a knot tied on the crown of the head. A Jēn Kurumba shaves like the ryots, leaving a tuft behind, or clips or crops it, with a curly or bushy growth to protect the head from heat and cold. The Betta and Jēn Kurumbas never intermarry.” The Betta Kurumbas are, I am told, excellent elephant mahauts (drivers), and very useful at keddah (elephant-catching) operations.

Of the Kādu and Betta Kurumbas, as they were at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the following [163]account is given by Buchanan.58 “The Cad Curubaru are a rude tribe, who are exceedingly poor and wretched. In the fields near the villages, they build miserable low huts, have a few rags only for clothing, and the hair of both sexes stands out matted like a mop, and swarms with vermin. Some of them hire themselves out as labouring servants to the farmers, and receive monthly wages. Others, in crop seasons, watch the fields at night, to keep off elephants and wild hogs. In the intervals between crops, they work as daily labourers, or go into the woods, and collect the roots of wild yams (Dioscorea), part of which they eat, and part exchange with the farmers for grain. Their manner of driving away the elephant is by running against him with a burning torch made of bamboos. The animal sometimes turns, waits till the Curubaru comes close up; but these poor people, taught by experience, push boldly on, dash their torches against the elephant’s head, who never fails to take to immediate flight. Should their courage fail, and should they attempt to run away, the elephant would immediately pursue, and put them to death. The Curubaru have no means of killing so large an animal, and, on meeting with one in the day-time, are as much alarmed as any other of the inhabitants. During the Sultan’s reign they caught a few in pitfalls. [I have heard of a clever Kurumba, who caught an elephant by growing pumpkins and vegetable marrow, for which elephants have a partiality, over a pit on the outskirts of his field.—E.T.] The wild hogs are driven out of the fields by slings, but they are too fierce for the Curubaru to kill. These people frequently suffer from tigers, against which their wretched huts are a poor defence; [164]and, when this wild beast is urged by hunger, he is regardless of their burning torches. These Curubaru have dogs, with which they catch deer, antelopes, and hares; and they have the art of taking in snares, peacocks, and other esculent birds. They believe that good men, after death, will become benevolent Dēvas, and bad men destructive Dēvas. They are of such known honesty that on all occasions they are entrusted with provisions by the farmers, who are persuaded that the Curubaru would rather starve than take one grain of what was given to them in charge. The spirits of the dead are believed to appear in dreams to their old people, and to direct them to make offerings to a female deity named Bettada Chicama, that is, the mother of the hill. Unless these offerings are made, this goddess occasions sickness. In cases of adultery, the husband flogs his wife severely, and, if he is able, beats her paramour. If he be not able, he applies to the gaudo (headman), who does it for him.” The Betta Curubaru, Buchanan continues, “live in poor huts near the villages, and the chief employment of the men is the cutting of timber, and making of baskets. With a sharp stick they also dig up spots of ground in the skirts of the forest, and sow them with rāgi (Eleusine Coracana). The men watch at night the fields of the farmers, but they are not so dexterous at this as the Cad Curubaru. In this class, the Cutigas are women that prefer another man to their husband, or widows, who do not wish to relinquish carnal enjoyment. Their children are not considered as illegitimate.”



Of the casual system of clearing the jungle in vogue among the Kurumbas, I may quote the following description.59 “In their search for food, this wild tribe [165]naturally prefers a forest cleared of all undergrowth, in which to move about, and the ingenuity with which they attain this end, and outwit the vigilant forest subordinates, is worthy of a better object. I have heard of a Kurumba walking miles from his hādi or hamlet, with a ball of dry smouldering elephant dung concealed in his waist-cloth. This he carried to the heart of the forest reserve, and, selecting a suitable spot, he placed the smouldering dung, with a plentiful supply of dry inflammable grass over it, in such a position as to allow the wind to play upon it, and fan it into a flame with the pleasing certainty that the smoke from the fire would not be detected by the watchers on the distant fire-lines until the forest was well alight, the flames beyond all control, and the Kurumba himself safe at home in his hādi, awaiting the arrival of the forest subordinate to summon the settlement to assist in the hopeless task of extinguishing the fire.”

Kurumba village.

Kurumba village.

Of the Kurumbas who are found in the Wynād, Calicut, and Ernād tāluks of Malabar, the following account is given in the Gazetteer of that district. “They are sub-divided into Mullu (bamboo) Kurumbans, Jēn or Tēn (honey) Kurumbans, also called Kādu or Shōla Nāyakkans (or Jēnu Koyyo Shōla Nāyakas, i.e., honey-cutting lords of the woods), and Ūrali or Bēt Kurumbans; of which the first-named class, who consider themselves superior to the others, are cultivators and hunters; the second wood-cutters and collectors of honey; and the third make baskets and implements of agriculture. The Mullu and Tēn Kurumbans have headmen with titles of Mūppan and Mudali respectively conferred by their janmis (landlords). The Kurumbans, like many of the other hill-tribes, use bows and arrows, with which they are expert. The caste deity of the Tēn Kurumbans is called Masti. It is perhaps worth [166]remarking that the Ūrali Kurumbans of the Wynaad differ from the other two classes in having no headmen, observing a shorter period of pollution after a birth than any other Malabar tribe and none at all after a death, and in not worshipping any of the Malabar animistic deities.”

The chief sub-divisions of the Kurumbas on the Nīlgiris, and in the Wynād, are said, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, to be “Mullu (thorn), Betta or Vetta (hill), Ūrāli (Ūr, a village), Tēn (honey), and Tac’chanādan Mūppan (carpenter headman). Of these, the first and last speak Malayālam, and wear a lock in front of their head in the Malabar fashion. The rest speak Canarese. Ūrāli Kurumbas work in metals.”

The villages of the Kurumbas on the Nīlgiri hills are, Mr. Grigg writes,60 called mottas. They consist generally of only four or five huts, made of mud and wattle, with thatched roofs. The front of the house is sometimes whitewashed, and ornamented with rude drawings of men and animals in red earth or charcoal. They store their grain in large oval baskets, and for bottles they use gourds. They clear a patch round about the village, and sow the ground with rāgi (Eleusine Coracana), tenne (Setaria italica), or kiri (Amarantus). They dig up roots (called gāsū) for food, and collect the jungle produce, honey, resin, gall-nuts, etc., which they barter with low-country traders, and they are clever in catching game in nets, and dispose of the flesh in a surprisingly short time. Kurumbas occasionally take work on coffee plantations, and some earn a livelihood by officiating as priests to the Badagas. They are also employed as musicians at wedding feasts and funerals of the other tribes, where [167]they play on clarionets, drums, and tambourines, as well as the būguri. They make baskets of rattan and milk vessels out of a joint of bamboo, as well as nets of a thread called oilhatti. Their women confine themselves to the limited work of their households, fetching water, cooking, etc. The following extract embraces all that can be said of the religion of the Kurumbas. “Some profess to worship Siva, and occasionally women mark their foreheads with the Siva spot. Others, living near Barliar, worship Kuribattraya (lord of many sheep) and the wife of Siva under the name of Musni. They worship also a rough stone under the name of Hiriadēva, setting it up either in a cave, or in a circle of stones like the so-called Kurumba kōvil of the Badagas, which the latter would seem to have borrowed from the Kurumbas. To this they make pūja, and offer cooked rice at the sowing time. They also profess to sacrifice to Hiriadēva a goat, which they kill at their own houses, after sprinkling water, and eat, giving a portion of flesh to the pūjāri (priest). Others say that they have no pūjāri: among such a scattered tribe customs probably vary in each motta”—(Breeks). It is recorded by Dr. Rivers, in connection with the Toda legendary stories of Kwoten, that “one day Kwoten went with Erten of Keadr, who was spoken of as his servant to Poni, in the direction of Polkat (Calicut). At Poni there is a stream called Palpa, the commencement of which may be seen on the Kundahs. Kwoten and Erten went to drink water out of the stream at a place where a goddess (teu) named Terkosh had been bathing.... Finally, they came to Terkosh, who said to Kwoten, “Do not come near me, I am a teu.” Kwoten paid no heed to this, but said “You are a beautiful woman,” and went and lay with her. Then Terkosh went away to her hill at Poni, where she is now, [168]and to this day the Kurumbas go there once a year and offer plantains to her, and light lamps in her honour.”

It is further recorded by Dr. Rivers that “two ceremonial objects are obtained by the Todas from the Kurumbas. One is the tall pole called tadrsi or tadri, which is used in the dance at the second funeral ceremonies, and afterwards burnt. Poles of the proper length are said to grow only on the Malabar side of the Nīlgiris, and are probably most easily obtained from the Kurumbas. The other is the teiks, or funeral post at which the buffalo is killed.” Besides supplying the Badagas with the elephant-pole required at their funerals, the Kurumbas have to sow the first handful of grain for the Badagas every season. The ceremony is thus described by Harkness.61 “A family of the Burghers (Badagas) had assembled, which was about to commence ploughing. With them were two or three Kurumbas, one of whom had set up a stone in the centre of the spot on which we were standing, and, decorating it with wild flowers, prostrated himself to it, offered incense, and sacrificed a goat, which had been brought there by the Burghers. He then took the guidance of the plough, and, having ploughed some ten or twelve paces, gave it over, possessed himself of the head of the sacrificed animal, and left the Burghers to prosecute their labours.... The Kurumba, sowing the first handful, leaves the Burgher to go on with the remainder, and, reaping the first sheaf, delivers it with the sickle to him, to accomplish the remainder of the task. At harvest time, or when the whole of the grain has been gathered in, the Kurumba receives his dues, or proportion of the produce.” The relations of the Kurumbas with the [169]Badagas at the present day, and the share which the former take in the ceremonies of the latter, are dealt with in the account of the Badagas.

Kurumba cave.

Kurumba cave.

I am informed that, among the Kurumbas of the Nīlgiris, it is the custom for several brothers to take one wife in common (adelphogamy), and that they do not object to their women being open to others also. There is said to be no marriage rite. A man and woman will mate together, and live as husband and wife. And, if it happens that, in a family, there has been a succession of such wives for one or two generations, it becomes an event, and is celebrated as such. The pair sit together, and pour water over each other from pots. They then put on new cloths, and a feast is partaken of. Among the Shōla Nāyakkars, a feature of the marriage ceremony is said to be for the bride to roll a cheroot of tobacco leaves, which both parties must smoke in turn.

Writing concerning the Irulas and Kurumbas, Mr. Walhouse says62 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 Nīlgiri 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. Mr. Breeks reports that the Kurumbas in the neighbourhood of the Rangasvāmi peak and Barliar burn their dead, and place a bone and a small round stone in the sāvu-mane (death-house)—an old cromlech.” The conjecture is hazarded by Fergusson63 that the Kurumbas are the remnant of a great and widely [170]spread race, who may have erected dolmens. As bearing on the connection between Kurumbas and Kurubas, it is worthy of note that the latter, in some places, erect dolmens as a resting-place for the dead. (See Kuruba.)

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris, that the Kurumbas “trade largely on the extraordinary dread of their supposed magical powers which possesses the Todas and the Badagas—the latter especially. Stories are told of how they can summon wild elephants at will, and reduce rocks to powder merely by scattering mystic herbs upon them.”

“The Kurumbas,” Harkness writes, “have a knowledge of herbs and medicinal roots, and the Burghers (Badagas) say that they limit their knowledge thereof to those which are noxious only, and believe that, with the assistance of their magic, they are able to convey them into the stomachs of those to whom they have any dislike. The violent antipathy existing between the Burghers and the Kurumbas, and the dread and horror which the former entertain of the preternatural powers of the latter, are, perhaps, not easily accounted for; but neither sickness, death, nor misfortune of any kind, ever visit the former, without the latter having the credit of producing it. A few years before, a Burgher had been hanged by the sentence of the provincial court for the murder of a Kurumba. The act of the former was not without what was considered great provocation. Disease had attacked the inhabitants of the hamlet, a murrain their cattle. The former had carried off a great part of the family of the murderer, and he himself had but narrowly escaped its effects. No one in the neighbourhood doubted that the Kurumba in question had, by his necromancy, caused all this misfortune, and, after several fruitless attempts, a party of them succeeded in surrounding [171]him in open day, and effecting their purpose.” In 1835 no less than forty-eight Kurumbas were murdered, and a smaller number in 1875 and 1882. In 1900 a whole family of Kurumbas was murdered, of which the head, who had a reputation as a medicine-man, was believed to have brought disease and death into a Badaga village. The sympathies of the whole country-side were so strongly with the murderers that detection was made very difficult, and the persons charged were acquitted.64 In this case several Todas were implicated. “It is,” Mr. Grigg writes, “a curious fact that neither Kota, Irula, or Badaga will slay a Kurumba until a Toda has struck the first blow, but, as soon as his sanctity has been violated by a blow, they hasten to complete the murderous work, which the sacred hand of the Toda has begun.” The Badaga’s dread of the Kurumba is said to be so great that a simple threat of vengeance has proved fatal. My Toda guide—a stalwart representative of his tribe—expressed fear of walking from Ootacamund to Kotagiri, a distance of eighteen miles along a highroad, lest he should come to grief at the hands of Kurumbas; but this was really a frivolous excuse to get out of accompanying me to a distance from his domestic hearth. In like manner, Dr. Rivers records that, when he went to Kotagiri, a Toda who was to accompany him made a stipulation that he should be provided with a companion, as the Kurambas were very numerous in that part. In connection with the Toda legend of Ön, who created the buffaloes and the Todas, Dr. Rivers writes that “when Ön saw that his son was in Amnodr (the world of the dead), he did not like to leave him there alone, and decided to go away to the same place. So he called together all the [172]people, and the buffaloes and the trees, to come and bid him farewell. All the people came except a man of Kwodrdoni named Arsankutan. He and his family did not come. All the buffaloes came except the Arsaiir, the buffaloes of the Kwodroni ti (sacred dairy). Some trees also failed to come. Ön blessed all the people, buffaloes and trees present, but said that, because Arsankutan had not come, he and his people should die by sorcery at the hands of the Kurumbas, and that, because the Arsaiir had not come, they should be killed by tigers, and that the trees which had not come should bear bitter fruit. Since that time the Todas have feared the Kurumbas, and buffaloes have been killed by tigers.”

On the Nīlgiri hills, honey-combs are collected by Jēn Kurumbas and Shōlagas. The supply of honey varies according to the nature of the season, and is said to be especially plentiful and of good quality when Strobilanthes flowers.65 The Kurumbas are said to have incredibly keen eye-sight, gained from constantly watching the bee to his hive. When they find a hive not quite ready to take, they place a couple of sticks in a certain position. This sign will prevent any other Kurumba from taking the honey, and no Badaga or other hillman would meddle with it on any account, for fear of being killed by sorcery.

Fortified by a liberal allowance of alcohol and tobacco, the Kurumbas, armed with bamboo torches, will follow up at night the tracks of a wounded ‘bison’ (Bos gaurus), and bring back the head and meat to camp. A European sportsman recounts that he has often seen his Kurumba shikāri (tracker) stop, and, with the one word “honey,” point to the top of an adjacent tree. “How do [173]you know?” he asked, “Oh! I saw a bee” was the answer given with the greatest nonchalance. On one occasion he found himself close to a swarm of bees. The Kurumba, seeing him hesitate, thrust his stick clean through the swarm, and, with the bare remark “No honey,” marched on. The District Forest Officer, when out shooting, had an easy shot at a stag, and missed it. “There,” said the Kurumba, pointing to a distant tree, “is your bullet.” His trained sense of hearing no doubt enabled him to locate the sound of the bullet striking the tree, and his eyes, following the sound, instantly detected the slight blaze made by the bullet on the bark. The visual acuity of a number of tribes and castes inhabiting the mountains, jungles, and plains, has been determined by Dr. W. H. R. Rivers and myself, by means of the Cohn letter E method. And, though the jungle man, who has to search for his food and mark the tracks or traces of wild beasts, undoubtedly possesses a specially trained keenness of vision for the exigencies of his primitive life, our figures show that, as regards ordinary visual acuity, he has no advantage over the more highly civilised classes.

“The Kurumbas of the Mysore forests,” Mr. Theobald writes, “make fire by friction. They follow the same method as the Todas, as described by Mr. Thurston, but never use the powdered charcoal in the cavity of the horizontal piece of wood which is held down by their feet, or by a companion. The fine brown powder, formed during the rotation of the longer vertical piece, gives sufficient tinder, which soon ignites, and is then placed on a small piece of cotton rag, rolled loosely, and gently blown until it is ignited. The vertical stick is held between the palms, and has a reciprocal motion, by the palms being moved in opposite directions, at the same [174]time using a strong downward pressure, which naturally brings the palms to the bottom, when they are at once raised to their original position, and the operation continued till the naturally formed tinder ignites.”

In his report on Forest Administration in Coorg, 1902–1903, Mr. C. D’A. McCarthy writes as follows concerning the Kurumbas, who work for the Forest department. “We experienced in connection with the Kurumbas one of those apparent aberrations of sense and intellect, the occurrence of which amongst this peculiar race was foreshadowed in the last report. The Chief Commissioner is aware that, in the interests of the Kurubas themselves, we substitute for a single cash payment distributions to the same value of food-grains, clothes and cash, in equal proportions of each. Now, seventy years ago, before the annexation of Coorg, the Kurubas and similar castes were prædial slaves of the dominant Coorgs, receiving no other remuneration for service than food and clothing. In fact, this institution, nothing less than real slavery, was not entirely broken up until the great demand for local labour created by the opening up of the country for coffee cultivation so late as 1860–1870, so that the existing generation are still cognisant of the old state of affairs. Last year, during the distribution of rewards for the successful protection of the reserves that season from fire, it seems that the idea was put into the heads of these people that our system of remuneration, which includes the distribution of food and clothing, was an attempt to create again at their expense a system of, as it were, forest slavery; with the result that for a time nothing would induce many of them to accept any form of remuneration for the work already performed, much less to undertake the same duties for the approaching season. It was some time, and after [175]no little trouble, that the wherefore of this strange conduct was discovered, and the suspicions aroused put at rest.” In his report, 1904–1905, Mr. McCarthy states that “the local system of fire protection, consisting of the utilisation of the Kuruba jungle population for the clearing of fire lines and patrolling, and the payment of rewards according to results, may now be said to be completely established in Coorg. The Kurubas appear to have gained complete confidence in the working of the system, and, provided the superior officers personally see to the payment of the rewards, are evidently quite satisfied that the deductions for failures are just and fair.”

The Kurumbas are said to have been very useful in the mining operations during the short life of the Wynād gold-mines. A few years ago, I received the skulls of two Kurumbas, who went after a porcupine into a deserted tunnel on the Glenrock Gold-mining Company’s land in the Wynād. The roof fell in on them, and they were buried alive.

In a note on the ‘Ethnogénie des Dravidiens’,66 Mr. Louis Lapicque writes as follows. “Les populations caractéristiques du Wainaad sont les Panyer, les négroides les plus accusés et les plus homogenes que j’ai vus, et probablement qui existent dans toute l’Inde. D’autre part, les tribus vivant de leur côté sur leurs propres cultures, fortement négroides encore, mais plus mélangées. Tels sont les Naiker et les Kouroumbas.”

—— Indice nasal. Indice céphalique. Taille.
54 Panyer 84 74 154
28 Kouroumbas 81 75 157
12 Naiker 80 76.9 157


Concerning Nāyakas or Naikers and Kurumbas, Mr. F. W. F. Fletcher writes to me as follows from Nellakotta, Nīlgiris. “It may be that in some parts of Wynaad there are people known indifferently as Kurumbas and Shola Nāyakas; but I have no hesitation in saying that the Nāyakas in my employ are entirely distinct from the Kurumbas. The two classes do not intermarry; they do not live together; they will not eat together. Even their prejudices with regard to food are different, for a Kurumba will eat bison flesh, and a Nāyaka will not. The latter stoutly maintains that he is entirely distinct from, and far superior to, the Kurumba, and would be grievously offended if he were classed as a Kurumba. The religious ceremonies of the two tribes are also different. The Nāyakas have separate temples, and worship separate gods. The chief Kurumba temple in this part of the country is close to Pandalur, and here, especially at the Bishu feast, the Kurumbas gather in numbers. My Nāyakas do not recognise this temple, but have their place of worship in the heart of the jungle, where they make their pūja (worship) under the direction of their own priest. The Nāyakas will not attend the funeral of a Kurumba; nor will they invite Kurumbas to the funeral of one of their own tribe. There is a marked variation in their modes of life. The Kurumba of this part lives in comparatively open country, in the belt of deciduous forest lying between the ghāts proper and the foot of the Nīlgiri plateau. Here he has been brought into contact with European Planters, and is, comparatively speaking, civilised. The Nāyaka has his habitat in the dense jungle of the ghāts, and is essentially a forest nomad, living on honey, jungle fruits, and the tuberous roots of certain jungle creepers. By constant association with myself, my Nāyaka men have lost the [177]fear of the white man, which they entertained when I first came into the district; but even now, if I visit the village of a colony who reside in the primæval forest, the women and children will hide themselves in the jungle at sight of me. The superstitions of the two tribes are different. Some Nāyakas are credited with the power of changing themselves at will into a tiger, and of wreaking vengeance on their enemies in that guise. And the Kurumba holds the Nāyaka in as much awe as other castes hold the Kurumba. Lower down, on the flat below the ghāts I am opening a rubber estate, and here I have another Nāyaka colony, who differ in many respects from their congeners above, although the two colonies are within five miles as the crow flies. The low-country Nāyaka does his hair in a knot on one side of his head, Malayālam fashion, and his speech is a patois of Malayālam. The Nāyaka on the hills above has a mop of curly hair, and speaks a dialect of his own quite distinct from the Kurumba language, though both are derived from Kanarese. But that the low-country people are merely a sept of the Nāyaka tribe is evident from the fact that intermarriage is common amongst the two colonies, and that they meet at the same temple for their annual pūja. The priest of the hill colony is the pūjāri for both divisions of the Nāyakas, and the arbiter in all their disputes.”

Kurumba (Shōla Naiker).

Kurumba (Shōla Naiker).

Kurumo.—The Kurumos are a caste of Oriya agriculturists, found mainly in the Russellkonda tāluk of Ganjam. They are called Kurumo by Oriyas, and Kudumo by Telugus. There is a tradition that their name is derived from Srikurmam in the Vizagapatam district, where they officiated as priests in the Siva temple, and whence they were driven northward. The Kurumos say that, at the present day, some members [178]of the caste are priests at Saivite temples in Ganjam, bear the title Rāvulo, and wear the sacred thread. It is noted in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “some of them wear the sacred thread, and follow Chaitanya, and Oriya Brāhmans will accept drinking-water at their hands. They will eat in Brāhmans’ houses, and will accept drinking-water from Gaudos, Bhondāris, and Rāvulos.” Bhondāris wash the feet of Kurumos on ceremonial occasions, and, in return for their services, receive twice the number of cakes given to other guests at feasts.

In addition to the Kurumos proper, there is a section called Kūji Kurumo, which is regarded as lower in the social status. The caste titles are Bissoyi, Bēhara, Dudi, Majhi, Nāyako, Podhāno, Rāvulo, Ravuto, Sēnāpati, and Udhdhandra. Those who bear the title Dudi are priests at the temples of the village deities. The title Udhdhandra was conferred by a zamindar, and is at present borne by a number of families, intermarriage among members of which is forbidden. Every village has a headman entitled Adhikari, who is under the control of a chief headman called Bēhara. Both these appointments are hereditary.

Among other deities, the Kurumos worship various Tākurānis (village deities), such as Bōdo Rāvulo, Bāgha Dēvi, Kumbēswari, and Sathabhavuni. In some places, there are certain marriage restrictions based on the house-gods. For example, a family whose house-god is Bōdo Rāvulo may not intermarry with another family which worships the same deity. Every family of Kurumos apparently keeps the house-god within the house, and it is worshipped on all important occasions. The god is usually represented by five areca nuts, which are kept in a box. These nuts must be filled with pieces of [179]gold, silver, iron, copper, and lead, which are introduced through a hole drilled in the base of the nut, which is plugged with silver.

Infant marriage is the rule, and, if a girl does not secure a husband before she reaches maturity, she has to go through the mock-marriage rite, called dharma bibha, with her grandfather or other elder. On the evening of the day previous to that of the real marriage, called gondo sona, the paternal aunt of the bridegroom goes to a tank (pond), carrying thither a brass vessel. This is placed on the tank bund (embankment), and worshipped. Some cowry (Cypræa arabica) shells are then thrown into the tank, and the vessel is filled with water, and taken to the house. At the entrance thereto, a Sullokhondia Gaudo stands, holding a vessel of water, from which a little water is poured into the vessel brought from the tank. The bride’s aunt then goes to three or five houses of members of her own caste, and receives water therefrom in her vessel, which is placed near the house-gods, and eventually kept on the marriage dais throughout the wedding ceremonies. Over the marriage dais (bēdi) at the bridegroom’s house, four brass vessels, and four clay lamps fed with ghī (clarified butter), are placed at the four corners. Round the four posts thereof seven turns of thread are made by a Brāhman purōhit. The bridegroom, wearing mokkuto (forehead chaplet) and sacred thread, after going seven times round the dais, breaks the thread, and takes his seat thereon. After Zizyphus Jujuba leaves and rice have been thrown over him, he is taken in procession to a temple. On his return home, he is met by five or seven young girls and women at the entrance to the house, and Zizyphus leaves are again thrown over him. A Bhondāri woman sprinkles water from mango leaves [180]over him, and he proceeds in a palanquin to the home of the bride. At the marriage ceremony, the bride throws rice on the head of the bridegroom over a screen which is interposed between them. After their hands have been tied together, a grinding-stone and roller are placed between them, and they face each other while their fingers are linked together above the stone. On the seventh day, the newly married couple worship seven posts at the bride’s house. The various articles used in connection with the marriage ceremonies, except one pot, are thrown into a tank. On his return thence, the bridegroom breaks the pot, after he has been sprinkled with the water contained in it by a Bhondāri. At times of marriage, and on other auspicious occasions, the Kurumos, when they receive their guests, must take hold of their sticks or umbrellas, and it is regarded as an insult if this is not done.

On the fifth and eighth days after the birth of a child, a new cloth is spread on the floor, on which the infant is placed, with a book (bāgavatham) close to its head, and an iron rod, such as is used by Oriya castes for branding the skin of the abdomen of newly-born babies, at its side. The relations and friends assemble to take part in the ceremonial, and a Brāhman purōhit reads a purānam. Betel leaves and areca nuts are then distributed. On the twenty-first day, the ceremonial is repeated, and the purōhit is asked to name the child. He ascertains the constellation under which it was born, and announces that a name commencing with a certain letter should be given to it.

Like other Oriya castes, the Kurumos are particular with regard to the observation of various vratams (fasts). One, called sudasa vratam, is observed on a Thursday falling on the tenth day after new moon in the month [181]of Karthika (November-December). The most elderly matron of the house does pūja (worship), and a purānam is read. Seven cubits of a thread dyed with turmeric are measured on the forearm of a girl seven years old, and cut off. The deity is worshipped, and seven knots are made in the piece of thread, which is tied on to the left upper arm of the matron. This vratam is generally observed by Oriya castes.

Kurup.—In a note on the artisan classes of Malabar, it is recorded67 that “the Kolla-Kurups combine two professions which at first sight seem strangely incongruous, shampooing or massage, and the construction of the characteristic leather shields of Malabar. But the two arts are intimately connected with the system of combined physical training, as we should now call it, and exercise in arms, which formed the curriculum of the kalari (gymnasium), and the title kurup is proper to castes connected with that institution. A similar combination is found in the Vil-Kurups (bow-Kurups), whose traditional profession was to make bows and arrows, and train the youth to use them, and who now shampoo, make umbrellas, and provide bows and arrows for some Nāyar ceremonies. Other classes closely connected are the Kollans or Kurups distinguished by the prefixes Chāya (colour), Palissa (shield), and Tōl (leather), who are at present engaged in work in lacquer, wood, and leather.” Kurup also occurs as a title of Nāyars, in reference to the profession of arms, and many of the families bearing this title are said68 to still maintain their kalari.

Kuruvikkāran.—The Kuruvikkārans are a class of Marāthi-speaking bird-catchers and beggars, who hunt [182]jackals, make bags out of the skin, and eat the flesh thereof. By Telugu people they are called Nakkalavāndlu (jackal people), and by Tamilians Kuruvikkāran (bird-catchers). They are also called Jāngal Jāti and Kāttu Mahrāti. Among themselves they are known as Vagiri or Vagirivala. They are further known as Yeddu Marigē Vētagāndlu, or hunters who hide behind a bullock. In decoying birds, they conceal themselves behind a bullock, and imitate the cries of birds in a most perfect manner. They are said to be called in Hindustani Paradhi and Mīr Shikāri.

As regards their origin, there is a legend that there were once upon a time three brothers, one of whom ran away to the mountains, and, mixing with Kanna Kuruvans, became degraded. His descendants are now represented by the Dommaras. The descendants of the second brother are the Lambādis, and those of the third Kuruvikkārans. The lowly position of these three classes is attributed to the fact that the three brothers, when wandering about, came across Sīta, the wife of Rāma, about whose personal charms they made remarks, and laughed. This made Sīta angry, and she uttered the following curse:—“Mālitho shikar, naitho bhikar,” i.e., if (birds) are found, huntsmen; if not, beggars. According to a variant of the legend,69 many years ago in Rājputāna there lived two brothers, the elder of whom was dull, and the younger smart. One day they happened to be driving a bullock along a path by the side of a pool of water, when they surprised Sīta bathing. The younger brother hid behind his bullock, but the elder was too stupid to conceal himself, and so both were observed by the goddess, who was much [183]annoyed, and banished them to Southern India. The elder she ordered to live by carrying goods about the country on pack-bullocks, and the younger to catch birds by means of two snares, which she obligingly formed from hair plucked from under her arm. Consequently the Vagirivalas never shave that portion of the body.

The Kuruvikkārans are nomadic, and keep pack-bullocks, which convey their huts and domestic utensils from place to place. Some earn their living by collecting firewood, and others by acting as watchmen in fields and gardens. Women and children go about the streets begging, and singing songs, which are very popular, and imitated by Hindu women. They further earn a livelihood by hawking needles and glass beads, which they may be seen in the evening purchasing from Kayalans (Muhammadan merchants) in the Madras bazar.

One of the occupations of the Kuruvikkārans is the manufacture and sale of spurious jackal horns, known as narikompu. To catch the jackals, they make an enclosure of a net, inside which a man seats himself, armed with a big stick. He then proceeds to execute a perfect imitation of the jackal’s cry, on hearing which the jackals come running to see what is the matter, and are beaten down. A Kuruvikkāran, whom the Rev. E. Löventhal interviewed, howled like a jackal, to show his skill as a mimic. The cry was quite perfect, and no jackal would have doubted that he belonged to their class. Sometimes the entire jackal’s head is sold, skin and all. The process of manufacture of the horn is as follows. After the brain has been removed, the skin is stripped off a limited area of the skull, and the bone at the place of junction of the sagittal and lambdoid sutures [184]above the occipital foramen is filed away, so that only a point, like a bony outgrowth, is left. The skin is then brought back, and pressed over the little horn, which pierces it. The horn is also said to be made out of the molar tooth of a dog or jackal, introduced through a small hole in a piece of jackal’s skin, round which a little blood or turmeric paste is smeared, to make it look more natural. In most cases only the horn, with a small piece of skull and skin, is sold. Sometimes, instead of the skin from the part where the horn is made, a piece of skin is taken from the snout, where the long black hairs are. The horn then appears surrounded by long black bushy hairs. The Kuruvikkārans explain that, when they see a jackal with such long hairs on the top of its head, they know that it possesses a horn. A horn-vendor, whom I interviewed, assured me that the possessor of a horn is a small jackal, which comes out of its hiding-place on full-moon nights to drink the dew. According to another version, the horn is only possessed by the leader of a pack of jackals. The Sinhalese and Tamils alike regard the horn “as a talisman, and believe that its fortunate possessor can command the realisation of every wish. Those who have jewels to conceal rest in perfect security if, along with them, they can deposit a narricomboo.”70 The ayah (nurse) of a friend who possessed such a talisman remarked “Master going into any law-court, sure to win the case.” This, as has been pointed out, does not show much faith in the British administration of justice, if a so-called jackal’s horn can turn the scale. Two spurious horns, which I possessed, were promptly stolen from my study table, to bring luck to some Tamil member of my establishment. [185]

Some Kuruvikkārans carry suspended from their turban or body-cloth a small whistle, with which they imitate the song of birds, and attract them. Young boys often have with them a bundle of small sticks strung together, and with a horse-hair noose attached to them. The sticks are driven into the ground, and grain is strewn around to entice birds, which get caught in the noose.

The women wear a petticoat and an ill-fitting bodice. Among other classes “Wearing the bodice like a Kuruvikkāran woman” is used as a taunt. The petticoat may never be taken off till it is tattered and torn, and replaced by a new one; and, when a woman bathes, she has to do so with the garment on. Anything which has come in contact with the petticoat, or rice husked with a woman’s feet, is polluted, and may not be used by men. Women adorn themselves with necklaces of beads and cowry shells, or sometimes, like the Lambādis, wear shell bracelets. Both men and women stain their teeth with a preparation of myrabolams, Acacia arabica pods, and sulphates of copper and iron. Females may not blacken their teeth, or wear a necklace of black beads before marriage.

A young married woman, wherever she may be during the daytime, must rejoin her husband at night. If she fails to do so, she has to go through the ordeal of grasping a red-hot iron bar or sickle, and carrying it sixteen paces without dropping it. Another form of ordeal is dipping the hands in a pot containing boiling cowdung water, and picking out therefrom a quarter-anna piece. If the woman is innocent, she is able to husk a small quantity of paddy (rice) by rubbing it between her hands immediately after the immersion in the liquid. If a man has to submit to trial by ordeal, seven arka (Calotropis gigantea) leaves are tied to his palm, and a piece of red-hot [186]iron placed thereon. His innocence is established if he is able to carry it while he takes seven long strides.

The Kuruvikkārans have exogamous septs, of which Rānaratōd seems to be an important one, taking a high place in the social scale. Males usually add the title Sing as a suffix to their names.

Marriage is always between adults, and the celebration, including the betrothal ceremony, extends over five days, during which meat is avoided, and the bride keeps her face concealed by throwing her cloth over it. Sometimes she continues to thus veil herself for a short time after marriage. On the first day, after the exchange of betel, the father of the bride says “Are you ready to receive my daughter as your daughter-in-law into your house? I am giving her to your son. Take care of her. Do not beat her when she is ill. If she cannot carry water, you should help her. If you beat her, or ill-treat her in any way, she will come back to us.” The future father-in-law having promised that the girl will be kindly treated, the bridegroom says “I am true, and have not touched any other woman. I have not smiled at any girl whom I have seen. Your daughter should not smile at any man whom she sees. If she does so, I shall drive her back to your house.” In the course of the marriage ceremonies, the bride is taken to the home of her mother-in-law, to whom she makes a present of a new cloth. The Nyavya (headman) hands a string of black beads to the mother-in-law, who ties it round the bride’s neck, while the assembled women sing. At a marriage of the first daughter of a member of the Rānaratōd sept, a Brāhman purōhit is invited to be present, and give his blessing, as it is believed that a Gujarāti Brāhman was originally employed for the marriage celebration. [187]

The principal tribal deity of the Kuruvikkārans is Kāli or Durga, and each sept possesses a small plate with a figure of the goddess engraved on it, which is usually kept in the custody of the headman. It is, however, frequently pledged, and money-lenders give considerable sums on the security of the idol, as the Kuruvikkārans would on no account fail to redeem it. When the time for the annual festival of the goddess draws nigh, the headman or an elder piles up Vigna Catiang seeds in five small heaps. He then decides in his mind whether there is an odd or even number of seeds in the majority of heaps. If, when the seeds are counted, the result agrees with his forecast, it is taken as a sign of the approval of the goddess, and arrangements are made for the festival. Otherwise it is abandoned for the year. On the day of the festival, nine goats and a buffalo are sacrificed. While some cakes are being cooked in oil, a member of the tribe prays that the goddess will descend on him, and, taking some of the cakes out of the boiling liquid, with his palm rubs the oil on his head. He is then questioned by those assembled, to whom he gives oracular replies, after sucking the blood from the cut throat of a goat. It is noted in the North Arcot Manual that the Vagirivalas assemble two or three times in the year at Varadāreddipalli for worship. The objects of this are three saktis called Mahan Kāli, Chāmundi, and Mahammāyi, represented by small silver figures, which are mortgaged to a Reddi of the village, and lent by him during the few days of the festival.

Kūsa.—A sub-division of Holeyas in South Canara, who also call themselves Uppāra. Some of them say that they are the same as Uppāras of Mysore, whose hereditary occupation was the manufacture of salt [188]from salt-earth (ku, earth). Kūsa further occurs as a synonym of the Otattu, or tile-making section of the Nāyars, and Kūsa Mārān as a class of potters in Travancore. Kūsa is also an exogamous sept of the Bōyas.

Kusavan.—The Kusavans are the Tamil potters. “The name,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,71 “is said to be derived from the Sanskrit word ku signifying earth, the material in which they work, and avan, a personal termination. They wear the sacred thread, and profess both Saivism and Vaishnavism. Their ceremonials are somewhat like those of the Vellālas. The eating of flesh is permitted, but not widow marriage. Some have priests of their own caste, while others employ Brāhmans. Kusavans sometimes officiate as pūjaris in Pidāri temples. Their titles are Udayan and Vēlān. Their stupidity and ignorance are proverbial.” At times of census, Kulālan has been returned as a synonym of Kusavan, and Kusavan as an occupational division of Paraiyans. The Kusavans are divided into the territorial sections Chōla, Chēra, and Pāndya, and say that “these are descended from the three sons of their original ancestor Kulālan, who was the son of Brahma. He prayed to Brahma to be allowed, like him, to create and destroy things daily; so Brahma made him a potter.”72

In ancient days, the potters made the large pyriform sepulchral urns, which have, in recent times, been excavated in Tinnevelly, Madura, Malabar, and elsewhere. Dr. G. U. Pope shows73 that these urns are mentioned in connection with the burial of heroes and kings as late as the eighth century A.D., and [189]renders one of the Tamil songs bearing on the subject as follows:—

“Oh! potter chief ... what toil hath befallen thee!

The descendant of the Cora kings....

Hath gained the world of gods. And so

’Tis thine to shape an urn so vast

That it shall cover the remains of such an one.”

The legend concerning the origin of the potter classes is narrated in the article on Kummaras. “It is,” Mr. E. Holder writes,74 “supposed by themselves that they are descended from a Brāhmin father and Sūdra mother, for the sacrificial earthen vessels, which are now made by them, were, according to the Vēdas, intended to be made by the priests themselves. Some of the potters still wear the sacred thread, like the Kammālars or artisan class. They are generally illiterate, though some of their class have earned distinction as sound scholars, especially of late years. The women assist the men in their work, chiefly where delicacy of execution is needed. On the whole, the potters are a poor class compared with the Kammālar class, which includes jewellers, metal-workers and wood-workers. Their occupation is, on that account, somewhat despised by others.”

The potter’s apparatus is described by Monier Williams75 as “a simple circular horizontal well-balanced fly-wheel, generally two or three feet in diameter, which can be made to rotate for two or three minutes by a slight impulse. This the potter loads with clay, and then, with a few easy sweeps and turns of his hands, he moulds his material into beautiful curves and symmetrical shapes, and leaves the products of his skill to bake [190]in the sun.” By Mr. Holder the apparatus is described as follows. “The potter’s implements are few, and his mode of working is very simple. The wheel, a clumsily constructed and defective apparatus, is composed of several thin pliable pieces of wood or bamboo, bent and tied together in the form of a wheel about 3½ feet in diameter. This is covered over thickly with clay mixed with goat’s hair or any fibrous substance. The four spokes and the centre on which the vessel rests are of wood. The pivot is of hard wood or steel. The support for the wheel consists of a rounded mass of clay and goat’s hair, in which is imbedded a piece of hard wood or stone, with one or two slight depressions for the axle or pivot to move in. The wheel is set into motion first by the hand, and then spun rapidly by the aid of a long piece of bamboo, one end of which fits into a slight depression in the wheel. The defects in the apparatus are—firstly its size, which requires the potter to stoop over it in an uneasy attitude; secondly, the irregularity of its speed, with a tendency to come to a standstill, and to wave or wobble in its motion; and thirdly, the time and labour expended in spinning the wheel afresh every time its speed begins to slacken. Notwithstanding, however, the rudeness of this machine, the potters are expert at throwing, and some of their small wares are thin and delicate. The usual manner in which most of the Madras potters bake their wares is as follows. A circular space, about ten feet in diameter, is marked out on the ground in any convenient open spot. Small pieces of wood and dried sticks are spread over this space to a depth of about six inches, and a layer of brattis (dried cow-dung cakes) laid over the sticks. The vessels are then carefully piled on top of this platform of fuel to a height of about five or six feet, [191]and the whole heap is covered over with straw, and plastered over with clay, a few small openings being left here and there to allow the smoke to escape. These arrangements being completed, the fuel at the bottom is fired, and in the course of a few hours the process of baking is completed.”



When travelling in India, Dr. Jagor noticed that the potters of Salem communicated to their ware a kind of polish, exactly like that seen on some of the specimens of antique pottery found in cromlechs. It was ascertained that the Salem potters use a seed for producing the polish, which was determined by Surgeon-General G. Bidie to be the seed of Gyrocarpus Jacquini, which is also used for making rosaries and necklaces. Another method employed for producing a polish is to rub the surface of the baked vessel with the mucilaginous juice of tuthi (Abutilon indicum), and then fire the vessel again.

It is stated, in the Coimbatore Manual, that “the potter never begins his day’s work at the wheel without forming into a lingam and saluting the revolving lump of clay, which, with the wheel, bears a strong resemblance to the usual sculptured conjunction” (of lingam and yōni). An old potter woman, whom I examined on this point, explained that the lump represents Ganēsa. In like manner, the pan coolies at the salt factories never scrape salt from the pans without first making a Pillayar (Ganēsa) of a small heap of salt, on the top of which the salt is sometimes piled up.

Painted hollow clay images are made by special families of Kusavans known as pūjāri, who, for the privilege of making them, have to pay an annual fee to the headman, who spends it on a festival at the caste temple. When a married couple are anxious to have female [192]offspring, they take a vow to offer figures of the seven virgins, who are represented all seated in a row. If a male or female recovers from cholera, small-pox, or other severe illness, a figure of the corresponding sex is offered. A childless woman makes a vow to offer up the figure of a baby, if she brings forth offspring. Figures of animals—cattle, sheep, horses, etc.—are offered at the temple when they recover from sickness, or are recovered after they have been stolen. The pupils of the eyes of the figures are not painted in till they are taken to the temple, where offerings of fruit, rice, etc., are first made. Even the pupils of a series of these images, which were specially made for me, were not painted at the potter’s house, but in the verandah of the traveller’s bungalow where I was staying. Horses made of clay, hollow and painted red and other colours, are set up in the fields to drive away demons, or as a thank-offering for recovery from sickness or any piece of good luck. The villagers erect these horses in honour of the popular deity Ayanar, the guardian deity of the fields, who is a renowned huntsman, and is believed, when, with his two wives Purna and Pushkala, he visits the village at night, to mount the horses, and ride down the demons. Ayanar is said to be “the special deity of the caste. Kusavans are generally the pūjāris in his temples, and they make the earthenware (and brick and mortar) horses and images, which are placed before these buildings.”76

For the following note on a ceremony, in which the potters take part, I am indebted to an essay submitted in connection with the M.A. degree of the Madras University. “Brāhmans of Vēdic times ate dogs, horses, [193]bulls, and goats. The fondness for mutton even in a raw state finds its modern counterpart in the bloody hecatombs that disfigure some of their annual sacrifices. In these ceremonies called Pasubandha, Agnishtoma, Vajapeya, Garudachayana, etc., a goat is tied to a post, and, after the usual mantrams (prayers) and the service of frankincense, etc., is ablutioned in water mixed with turmeric and taken to the slaughter-room. And the method of slaughtering is most appalling. Two men appointed for the purpose, invariably men belonging to the pot-making community, rush into the apartment. One catches hold of the fore-quarter of the animal and keeps it from struggling, while the other squeezes the scrotum with so much violence that the animal succumbs in a few minutes, after writhing in the most painful fashion. The man in charge of the fore-quarter puts a handful of salt into the animal’s mouth, and holds it tight, lest the animal should bleat, and make the ceremony unsanctimonious. The carcase is now brought to the mailing shed, where, with crude knives and untrained hands, the Brāhmans peel off the skin most savagely. Then they cut open the chest, and it is a common sight to see these Brāhmans, uninitiated in the art of butchery, getting their hands severely poked or lacerated by the cut sharp ends of the ribs. Then portions of flesh are cut off from various portions of the carcase, such as the buccal region, the cardiac region, the scapular region, the renal, the scrotal, the gluteal and gastroenemial regions. The amount of flesh thus chopped comes to not less than three big potfuls, and they are cooked in water over the slow fire of a primitively constructed oven. No salt is put to season the meat, but the Brāhmans bolt it without any condiment in an awful fashion.”

Aiyanar temple.

Aiyanar temple.


The services of the potter are required in connection with the marriage ceremonial of many castes. At some Brāhman marriages, for example, the tāli is tied on the bride’s neck in the presence of 33 crores (330 millions) of gods, who are represented by a number of variously coloured pots, large and small. At a Lingāyat wedding, new pots are brought with much shouting, and deposited in the room in which the household god is kept. An enclosure is made round the bride and bridegroom with cotton thread passed round four pots placed at the four corners of the marriage pandal. Among the Patnūlkārans, on the occasion of a wedding, a number of small pots are set up in a room, and worshipped daily throughout the marriage ceremonies. The ceremonial of breaking a pot containing water at the graveside prevails among many classes, e.g., Oddēs, Toreyas, and Paraiyans.

At the time of the Aruvaththimūvar festival, or festival of the sixty-three saints, at Mylapore in the city of Madras, crowds may be seen returning homeward after attending it, each carrying a new pot (chatty), which they purchase so as not to go home empty-handed. At the festival of Tiruvottiyūr, stalks of Amarantus gangeticus are in like manner purchased.

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that “a Kusavan can claim the hand of his paternal aunt’s daughter. Marriage occurs before puberty. The tāli is tied by the bridegroom’s sister, and the usual bride-price is paid. The ceremonies last three days. One of them consists in the bridegroom’s sister sowing seeds in a pot, and, on the last day of the wedding, the seedlings which have sprouted are taken with music to a river or tank (pond), and thrown into it. When the bride attains maturity, a ceremony is conducted by the [195]caste priest, and consummation follows on the next auspicious day.”

Among the Kusavans, divorce and remarriage are permissible on mutual agreement, on one party paying to the other the expenses of the latter’s original marriage (parisam). A case came before the High Court of Madras,77 in which a Kusavan woman in the Tinnevelly district, on the ground of ill-treatment, repaid her husband the parisam, thereby dissolving the marriage, and married another man.

The potters are considered to be adepts in the treatment of cases of fracture. And it is still narrated how one of them successfully set in splints the broken arm of Lord Elphinstone, when Governor of Madras, after the English doctors had given up the job as hopeless.78 “In our village,” it is recorded,79 “cases of dislocations of bones and fractures, whether simple, compound, comminuted or complicated, are taken in hand by the bone-setters, who are no other than our potters. The village barber and the village potter are our surgeons. While the barber treats cases of boils, wounds, and tumours, the potter confines himself to cases of fracture and dislocations of bones.” The amateur treatment by the unqualified potter sometimes gives rise to what is known as potter’s gangrene.

For the notes of the following case I am indebted to Captain F. F. Elwes, I.M.S. A bricklayer, about a month and a half or two months prior to admission into hospital, fell from a height, and injured his left arm. He went to a potter, who placed the arm and forearm in a splint, the former in a line with the latter, i.e., fully [196]extended. He kept the splint on for about a month and, when it was removed, found that he was unable to bend the arm at the elbow-joint. When he was examined at the hospital, practically no movement, either active or passive, could be obtained at the elbow-joint. The lower end of the humerus could be felt to be decidedly thickened both anteriorly and posteriorly. There had apparently been a fracture of the lower end of the humerus. Röntgen ray photographs showed an immense mass of callus extending over the anterior surface of the elbow-joint from about two and a half inches above the lower end of the humerus to about an inch below the elbow-joint. There was also some callus on the posterior surface of the lower end of the humerus.

Concerning potter’s gangrene, Captain W. J. Niblock, I.M.S., writes as follows.80 “Cases of gangrene, the result of treatment of fractures by the village potters, used to be frequently met with in the General Hospital, Madras. These were usually brought when the only possible treatment consisted in amputation well above the disease. Two of these cases are indelibly impressed on my mind. Both were cases of gangrene of the leg, the result of tight splinting by potters. The first patient was a boy of thirteen. Whilst a student was removing the dressings on his admission, the foot came off in his hands, leaving two inches of the lower ends of the tibia and fibula exposed, and absolutely devoid of all the soft tissues, not even the periosteum being left. The second case was that of a Hindu man, aged 46. He was taken to the operation theatre at once. Whilst engaged in disinfecting my hands, I heard a dull thud on the floor of the operation theatre, turned round, and [197]found that the gangrenous leg, as the result of a struggle whilst chloroform was being administered, had become separated at the knee-joint, and had fallen on floor; or, to put it tersely, the man had kicked his leg off.”

In connection with the Tamil proverb “This is the law of my caste, and this is the law of my belly,” the Rev. H. Jensen notes81 that “potters are never Vaishnavas; but potters at Srirangam were compelled by the Vaishnava Brāhmans to put the Vaishnava mark on their foreheads; otherwise the Brāhmans would not buy their pots for the temple. One clever potter, having considered the difficulty, after making the Saivite symbol on his forehead, put a big Vaishnava mark on his stomach. When rebuked for so doing by a Brāhman, he replied as above.” The proverb “Does the dog that breaks the pots understand how difficult it is to pile them up?” is said by Jensen to have reference to the pots which are piled up at the potter’s house. A variant is “What is many days’ work for the potter is but a few moment’s work for him who breaks the pots.”

In the Madura district, the Kusavans have Vēlan as a title.

The insigne of the Kusavans, recorded at Conjeeveram, is a potter’s wheel.82

Kutikkar.—A name for Dāsis in Travancore.

Kutraki (wild goat).—An exogamous sept of Jātapu.

Kūttādi.—Described, in the Census Report, 1901, as an occupational name, meaning a rope-dancer, applied to Dommaras, Paraiyans, or Koravas. Ārya [198]Kūttādi is a Tamil synonym for Marātha (Ārē) Dommaras. Kūttādi also occurs as the name of a class of mendicants attached to Kaikōlans.

Kūttan.—A division of Toda.

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

Kuttiya.—A sub-division of Kond.

Kuzhal.—The name of the flute used by shepherds and snake-charmers. It occurs as an exogamous sept of Toreyas, the members of which must not hear the sound of this musical instrument when at meals.

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

Kuzhiyan.—A synonym derived from kuzhi a pit, for Thanda Pulayans, in reference to the legend that they were found emerging in a state of nudity from a pit.

1 Madras Census Report, 1891.

2 Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsa, 1893.

3 Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilgiris, 1873.

4 Ind. Ant., II, 1873.

5 Aboriginal Tribes of the Nilgiri hills, 1870.

6 Tribes inhabiting the Neilgherry hills. By a German Missionary.

7 The Todas, 1906.

8 A Singular Aboriginal Race of the Nilagiris.

9 Tribes of the Neilgherries, 1868.

10 At Kotamalē there are three temples, two dedicated to Kāmatarāya and one to Kālikai.

11 Goa and the Blue Mountains, 1851.

12 Tribes inhabiting the Neilgherry hills. By a German Missionary.

13 Reise nach Süd-Indien, 1894.

14 Mysore Census Report, 1891.

15 Madras Census Report, 1901.

16 Ind. Ant., III, 1874.

17 Cf. Pendukkumekki and Valasu sub-divisions of the Idaiyan caste.

18 The present note is mainly based on the articles by the Rev. J. Cain in the Indian Antiquary V, 1876, and VIII, 1879; and the Madras Christian College Magazine, V, 1887–8, and VI, 1888–9.

19 Madras Census Report, 1891.

20 Calcutta Christian Observer, May and June, 1853, Second Edition, by the Rev. J. M. Descombes and J. A. Grierson, Calcutta, 1900.

21 Gazetteer of the Godāvari district.

22 Gazetteer of the Godāvari district.

23 Notes for a Lecture on the Tribes and Castes of Bombay, 1907.

24 Manual of the Godāvari district.

25 Rev. W. Taylor. iii. 1862.

26 This account is taken from a note by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar.

27 Ethnog. Survey of Cochin. Monograph No. II, Kshatriyas, 1906.

28 Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

29 Monograph, Ethnog. Survey of Cochin, Kootan, 1905.

30 Manual of the South Canara district.

31 Indian Forester, XXXII, 1906.

32 This account is taken from a note by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar.

33 Madras Mail, 1907.

34 Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

35 Madras Census Report, 1891.

36 Manual of the North Arcot district.

37 Not collectors of art pottery, but Collectors or District Magistrates.

38 Madras Mail, 1903.

39 Manual of the South Canara district.

40 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

41 Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.

42 Manual of the Salem district.

43 Ind. Ant., X, 1881.

44 Manual of the Madura district.

45 Madras Census Report, 1891.

46 Manual of Malabar.

47 Madras Census Report, 1901.

48 Manual of the North Arcot district.

49 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

50 Gazetteer of the Anantapur district.

51 Gazetteer of the Bellary district.

52 Manual of the North Arcot district.

53 W.F.S. Ind. Ant., VI, 1877.

54 Madras Mail, November 1905.

55 Manual of the North Arcot district.

56 Manual of the Nilgiri district.

57 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

58 Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 1807.

59 Asian, 1902.

60 Manual of the Nīlgiri district.

61 Aboriginal Race of the Neilgherry hills, 1832.

62 Ind. Ant., VI, 1877.

63 Rude Stone Monuments.

64 Police Admn. Report, 1900.

65 Agricult. Ledger Series, No. 47, 1904.

66 Comptes rendus des Séances de la Société de Biologie, T. LVIII, 1019.

67 Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

68 Op. cit.

69 Manual of the North Arcot district.

70 Tennent, Ceylon.

71 Madras Census Report, 1891.

72 Gazetteer of the Madura district.

73 Journ. Roy. Asiat. Soc., 1899, 267–8.

74 Madras Pottery. Journ. Ind. Arts, VII, 1897.

75 Brāhmanism and Hinduism.

76 Gazetteer of the Madura district.

77 Ind. Law Reports, Madras Series, XVII, 1894.

78 A Native. Pen and ink sketches of Native life in S. India.

79 Madras Mail.

80 Trans. S. Ind. branch, Brit. Med. Association, XIV, 1906.

81 Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897.

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


Labbai.—The Labbais are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being “a Musalman caste of partly Tamil origin, the members of which are traders and betel vine (Piper Betle) growers. They seem to be distinct from the Marakkāyars, as they do not intermarry with them, and their Tamil contains a much smaller admixture of Arabic than that used by the Marakkāyars. In the Tanjore district, the Labbais are largely betel vine cultivators, and are called Kodikkālkāran (betel vine people).” In the Census Report, 1881, the Labbais are said to be “found chiefly in Tanjore and Madura. They are the Māppilas of the Coromandel coast, that is to say, converted Dravidians, or Hindus, with a slight admixture of Arab blood. They are thrifty, [199]industrious, and enterprising; plucky mariners, and expert traders. They emigrate to the Straits Settlements and Burma without restriction.” In the Census Report, 1891, they are described as “a mixed class of Muhammadans, consisting partly of compulsory converts to Islām made by the early Muhammadan invaders and Tippu Sultān.” As regards their origin, Colonel Wilks, the historian of Mysore, writes as follows.1 “About the end of the first century of the Hejirah, or the early part of the eighth century A.D., Hijaj Ben Gusaff, Governor of Irāk, a monster abhorred for his cruelties even among Musalmans, drove some persons of the house of Hashem to the desperate resolution of abandoning for ever their native country. Some of them landed on that part of the western coast of India called the Concan, the others to the eastward of Cape Comorin. The descendants of the former are Navaiyats, of the latter the Labbai, a name probably given to them by the natives from that Arabic particle (a modification of labbick) corresponding with the English ‘Here I am,’ indicating attention on being spoken to [i.e., the response of the servant to the call of his master. A further explanation of the name is that the Labbais were originally few in number, and were often oppressed by other Muhammadans and Hindus, to whom they cried labbek, or we are your servants]. Another account says they are the descendants of the Arabs, who, in the eleventh and and twelfth centuries, came to India for trade. These Arabs were persecuted by the Moghals, and they then returned to their country, leaving behind their children born of Indian women. The word Labbai seems to be of recent origin, for, in the Tamil lexicons, this caste is [200]usually known as Sōnagan, i.e., a native of Sōnagam (Arabia), and this name is common at the present day. Most of the Labbais are traders; some are engaged in weaving cōrah (sedge) mats; and others in diving at the pearl and chank fisheries of the Gulf of Manaar. Tamil is their home-speech, and they have furnished some fair Tamil poets. In religion they are orthodox Musalmans. Their marriage ceremony, however, closely resembles that of the lower Hindu castes, the only difference being that the former cite passages from the Korān, and their females do not appear in public even during marriages. Girls are not married before puberty. Their titles are Marakkāyan (Marakalar, boatmen), and Rāvuttan (a horse soldier). Their first colony appears to have been Kāyalpatnam in the Tinnevelly district.” In the Manual of the Madura district, the Labbais are described as “a fine, strong, active race, who generally contrive to keep themselves in easy circumstances. Many of them live by traffic. Many are smiths, and do excellent work as such. Others are fishermen, boatmen, and the like. They are to be found in great numbers in the Zamindaris, particularly near the sea-coast.”

Concerning the use of a Malay blow-gun (glorified pea-shooter) by the Labbais of the Madura district, Dr. N. Annandale writes as follows.2 “While visiting the sub-division of Rāmnād in the coast of the Madura district in 1905, I heard that there were, among the Muhammadan people known locally as Lubbais or Labbis, certain men who made a livelihood by shooting pigeons with blow-guns. At Kilakarai, a port on the Gulf of Manaar, I was able to obtain a specimen, as well as particulars. According to my Labbi informants, [201]the ‘guns’ are purchased by them in Singapore from Bugis traders, and brought to India. There is still a considerable trade, although diminished, between Kilakarai and the ports of Burma and the Straits Settlements. It is carried on entirely by Muhammadans in native sailing vessels, and a large proportion of the Musalmans of Kilakarai have visited Penang and Singapore. It is not difficult to find among them men who can speak Straits Malay. The local name for the blow-gun is senguttān, and is derived in popular etymology from the Tamil sen (above) and kutu (to stab). I have little doubt that it is really a corruption of the Malay name of the weapon—sumpitan. The blow-gun which I obtained measures 189.6 cm. in length: its external diameter at the breech is 30mm., and at the other extremity 24 mm. The diameter of the bore, however, is practically the same throughout, viz., 12 mm. Both ends are overlaid with tin, and the breech consists of a solid piece of tin turned on a lathe and pierced, the diameter of the aperture being the same as that of the bore. The solid tin measures 35 mm. in length, and is continuous with the foil which covers the base of the wooden tube. The tube itself is of very hard, heavy, dark wood, apparently that of a palm. It is smooth, polished and regular on its outer surface, and the bore is extremely true and even. At a distance of 126 mm. from the distal extremity, at the end of the foil which protects the tip of the weapon, a lump of mud is fixed on the tube as a ‘sight.’ The ornamentation of the weapon is characteristic, and shows that it must have been made in North Borneo. It consists of rings, leaf-shaped designs with an open centre, and longitudinal bars, all inlaid with tin. The missiles used at Kilakarai were not darts, but little [202]pellets of soft clay worked with the fingers immediately before use. The use of pellets instead of darts is probably an Indian makeshift. Although a ‘sight’ is used in some Bornean blow-guns, I was told, probably correctly, that the lump of mud on the Kilakarai specimen had been added in India. I was told that it was the custom at Kilakarai to lengthen the tin breech of the ‘gun’ in accordance with the capacity of the owner’s lungs. He first tried the tube by blowing a pellet through it, and, if he felt he could blow through a longer tube, he added another piece of tin at the proximal end. The pellet is placed in the mouth, into which the butt of the tube is also introduced. The pellet is then worked into the tube with the tongue, and is propelled by a violent effort of the lungs. No wadding is used. Aim is rendered inaccurate, in the first place by the heaviness of the tube, and secondly by the unsuitable nature of the missile.” A toy blow-gun is also figured by Dr. Annandale, such as is used as a plaything by Labbai boys, and consisting of a hollow cane with a piece of tinned iron twisted round the butt, and fastened by soldering the two ends together. I have received from the Madura district a blowpipe consisting of a long black-japanned tin tube, like a billiard-cue case, with brass fittings and terminals.

In connection with the dugong (Halicore dugong), which is caught in the Gulf of Manaar, Dr. Annandale writes as follows.3 “The presence of large glands in connection with the eye afforded some justification for the Malay’s belief that the Dugong weeps when captured. They regard the tears of the īkandugong (‘Dugong fish’) as a powerful love-charm. Muhammadan fishermen on [203]the Gulf of Manaar appeared to be ignorant of this usage, but told me that a ‘doctor’ once went out with them to collect the tears of a Dugong, should they capture one. Though they do not call the animal a fish, they are less particular about eating its flesh than are the Patani Malays and the Trang Samsams, who will not do so unless the ‘fish’s’ throat has been cut in the manner orthodox for warm-blooded animals. The common Tamil name for the Dugong is kadalpūdru (‘sea-pig’); but the fishermen at Kilakarai (Lubbais) call it āvillīah.”

Concerning the Labbais of the South Arcot district, Mr. W. Francis writes as follows.4 “The Labbais are often growers of betel, especially round about Nellikuppam, and they also conduct the skin trade of the district, are petty shop-keepers, and engage in commerce at the ports. Their women are clever at weaving mats from the screw-pine (Pandanus fascicularis), which grows so abundantly along the sandy shore of the Bay of Bengal. The Labbais very generally wear a high hat of plaited coloured grass, and a tartan (kambāyam) waist-cloth, and so are not always readily distinguishable in appearance from the Marakkāyars, but some of them use the Hindu turban and waist-cloth, and let their womankind dress almost exactly like Hindu women. In the same way, some Labbais insist on the use of Hindustāni in their houses, while others speak Tamil. There seems to be a growing dislike to the introduction of Hindu rites into domestic ceremonies, and the processions and music, which were once common at marriages, are slowly giving place to a simpler ritual more in resemblance with the nikka ceremony of the Musalman faith.” [204]

In a note on the Labbais of the North Arcot district,5 Mr. H. A. Stuart describes them as being “very particular Muhammadans, and many belong to the Wāhabi section. Adhering to the rule of the Korān, most of them refuse to lend money at interest, but get over the difficulty by taking a share in the profits derived by others in their loans. They are, as a rule, well-to-do, and excellently housed. The first thing a Labbai does is to build himself a commodious tiled building, and the next to provide himself with gay attire. They seem to have a prejudice against repairing houses, and prefer letting them go to ruin, and building new ones. The ordinary Musalmans appear to entertain similar ideas on this point.”

Some Kodikkālkāran Labbais have adopted Hindu customs in their marriage ceremonies. Thus a bamboo is set up as a milk-post, and a tāli is tied round the neck of the bride while the Nikkadiva is being read. In other respects, they practice Muhammadan rites.

Concerning the Labbais who have settled in the Mysore province, I gather6 that they are “an enterprising class of traders, settled in nearly all the large towns. They are vendors of hardware and general merchants, collectors of hides, and large traders in coffee produce, and generally take up any kind of lucrative business. It is noteworthy, as denoting the perseverance and pushing character of the race that, in the large village of Gargēsvari in Tirumakūdlu, Narsipur tāluk, the Labbēs have acquired by purchase or otherwise large extents of river-irrigated lands, and have secured to themselves the leadership among the villagers within a comparatively recent period.” [205]

For the purpose of the education of Labbai and Marakkāyar children, the Korān and other books have been published in the Tamil language, but with Arabic characters. Concerning these Arab-Tamil books I gather that “when a book thus written is read, it is hardly possible to say that it is Tamil—it sounds like Arabic, and the guttural sounds of certain words have softened down into Arabic sounds. Certain words, mostly of religious connection, have been introduced, and even words of familiar daily use. For instance, a Labbai would not use the familiar word Annai for brother, Tagappan for father, or Chithammai for aunt, but would call such relatives Bhai, Bava, and Khula. Since the books are written in Arabic characters, they bear a religious aspect. The Labbai considers it a sacred and meritorious duty to publish them, and distribute them gratis among the school-going children. A book so written or printed is called a kitāb, rather than its Tamil equivalent pustagam, and is considered sacred. It commands almost the same respect as the Korān itself, in regard to which it has been commanded ‘Touch not with unclean hands.’ A book of a religious nature, written or printed in Tamil characters, may be left on the ground, but a kitab of even secular character will always be placed on a rihal or seat, and, when it falls to the ground, it is kissed and raised to the forehead. The origin of this literature may be traced to Kāyalpatnam, Mēlapālayam, and other important Labbai towns in the Tinnevelly district.” The following rendering of the second Kalima will serve as an example of Arab-Tamil.

Text in Arabic script with many vowel marks.


Ladāf.—Recorded, at the census, 1901, as a synonym of Dūdēkula. A corruption of nad-dāf (a cotton-dresser).

Lādar.—It is noted, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that “the Lādars are a class of general merchants, found chiefly in the cities, where they supply all kinds of stores, glass-ware, etc.” I gather7 that the “Lād or Suryavaunshi Vānis say that they are the children of Surya, the sun. They are said to have come from Benares to Maisur under pressure of famine about 700 years ago. But their caste name seems to show that their former settlement was not in Benares, but in South Gujarāt or Lāt Desh. They are a branch of the Lād community of Maisur, with whom they have social intercourse. They teach their boys to read and write Kanarese, and succeed as traders in grain, cloth, and groceries.”

Lāla.—The names of some Bondilis, or immigrants from Bandelkand, who have settled in the North Arcot district and other localities, terminate with Lāla. Lāla also occurs as a synonym for Kāyasth, the writer caste of Bengal, immigrants from Northern India, who have settled in Madras, where there are a number of families. “In Madras,” Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastri informs us,8 “the Mahrattas and Lālas—mostly non-Brāhman—observe the Holi feast with all sorts of hideousness. The youngsters of the Lāla sect make, in each house or in common for a whole street, an image of Holika, sing obscene songs before it, offer sweetmeats, fruits and other things in mock worship of the image, exchange horseplay compliments by syringing coloured water on each other’s clothes, and spend the whole period of the [207]feast singing, chatting, and abusing. Indecent language is allowed to be indulged in during the continuance of this jolly occasion. At about 1 A.M. on the full moon day, the image of Holika is burnt, and children sit round the embers, and beat their mouths, making a mock mourning sound. Tender children are swung over the fire for a second by the fond mothers, and this is believed to remove all kinds of danger from the babies.”

Lāligonda.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as Lingāyats, consisting of Canarese-speaking Kāpus or Vakkaligas.

Lambādi.—The Lambādis are also called Lambāni, Brinjāri or Banjāri, Boipāri, Sugāli or Sukāli. By some Sugāli is said to be a corruption of supāri (betel nut), because they formerly traded largely therein.9 “The Banjarās,” Mr. G. A. Grierson writes,10 “are the well-known tribe of carriers who are found all over Western and Southern India.11 One of their principal sub-castes is known under the name of Labhānī, and this name (or some related one) is often applied to the whole tribe. The two names appear each under many variations, such as Banjāri, Vanjārī, Brinjārī, Labhāni, Labānī, Labānā, Lambādi, and Lambānī. The name Banjāra and its congeners is probably derived from the Sanskrit Vānijyakārakas, a merchant, through the Prakrit Vānijjaāraō, a trader. The derivation of Labhānī or Labānī, etc., is obscure. It has been suggested that it means salt carrier from the Sanskrit lavanah, salt, because the tribe carried salt, but this explanation goes against several phonetic rules, and does not account for the forms [208]of the word like Labhānī or Lambānī. Banjārī falls into two main dialects—that of the Panjab and Gujarat, and that of elsewhere (of which we may take the Labhānī of Berar as the standard). All these different dialects are ultimately to be referred to the language of Western Rajputana. The Labhānī of Berar possesses the characteristics of an old form of speech, which has been preserved unchanged for some centuries. It may be said to be based partly on Mārwāri and partly on Northern Gujarātī.” It is noted by Mr. Grierson that the Banjārī dialect of Southern India is mixed with the surrounding Dravidian languages. In the Census Report, 1901, Tanda (the name of the Lambādi settlements or camps), and Vāli Sugrīva are given as synonyms for the tribal name. Vāli and Sugrīva were two monkey chiefs mentioned in the Rāmāyana, from whom the Lambādis claim to be descended. The legend, as given by Mr. F. S. Mullaly,12 is that “there were two brothers, Mōta and Mōla, descendants of Sugrīva. Mōla had no issue, so, being an adept in gymnastic feats, he went with his wife Radha, and exhibited his skill at ‘Rathanatch’ before three rājahs. They were so taken with Mōla’s skill, and the grace and beauty of Radha, and of her playing of the nagāra or drum, that they asked what they could do for them. Mōla asked each of the rājahs for a boy, that he might adopt him as his son. This request was accorded, and Mōla adopted three boys. Their names were Chavia, Lohia Panchar, and Ratāde. These three boys, in course of time, grew up and married. From Bheekya, the eldest son of Ratāde, started the clan known as the Bhutyas, and from this clan three minor sub-divisions known as the Maigavuth, Kurumtoths, [209]and Kholas. The Bhutyas form the principal class among the Lambādis.” According to another legend,13 “one Chāda left five sons, Mūla, Mōta, Nathād, Jōgdā, and Bhīmdā. Chavān (Chauhān), one of the three sons of Mūla, had six sons, each of whom originated a clan. In the remote past, a Brāhman from Ajmir, and a Marāta from Jōtpur in the north of India, formed alliances with, and settled among these people, the Marāta living with Rathōl, a brother of Chavān. The Brāhman married a girl of the latter’s family, and his offspring added a branch to the six distinct clans of Chavān. These clans still retain the names of their respective ancestors, and, by reason of cousinship, intermarriage between some of them is still prohibited. They do, however, intermarry with the Brāhman offshoot, which was distinguished by the name of Vadtyā, from Chavān’s family. Those belonging to the Vadtyā clan still wear the sacred thread. The Marāta, who joined the Rathōl family, likewise founded an additional branch under the name of Khamdat to the six clans of the latter, who intermarry with none but the former. It is said that from the Khamdat clan are recruited most of the Lambādi dacoits. The clan descended from Mōta, the second son of Chāda, is not found in the Mysore country. The descendants of Nathād, the third son, live by catching wild birds, and are known as Mirasikat, Paradi, or Vāgri (see Kuruvikkāran). The Jōgdās are people of the Jōgi caste. Those belonging to the Bhīmdā family are the peripatetic blacksmiths, called Bailu Kammāra. The Lambāni outcastes compose a sub-division called Thālya, who, like the Holayas, are drum-beaters, and live in detached habitations.” [210]

As pointing to a distinction between Sukālis and Banjāris, it is noted by the Rev. J. Cain14 that “the Sukālīlu do not travel in such large companies as the Banjārīlu, nor are their women dressed as gaudily as the Banjāri women. There is but little friendship between these two classes, and the Sukāli would regard it as anything but an honour to be called a Banjāri, and the Banjāri is not flattered when called a Sukāli.” It is, however, noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that enquiries show that Lambādis and Sugālis are practically the same. And Mr. H. A. Stuart, writing concerning the inhabitants of the North Arcot district, states that the names Sugāli, Lambādi and Brinjāri “seem to be applied to one and the same class of people, though a distinction is made. The Sugālis are those who have permanently settled in the district; the Lambādis are those who commonly pass through from the coast to Mysore; and the Brinjāris appear to be those who come down from Hyderabad or the Central Provinces.” It is noted by Mr. W. Francis15 that, in the Bellary district, the Lambādis do not recognise the name Sugāli.

Orme mentions the Lambādis as having supplied the Comte de Bussy with store, cattle and grain, when besieged by the Nizam’s army at Hyderabad. In an account of the Brinjāris towards the close of the eighteenth century, Moor16 writes that they “associate chiefly together, seldom or never mixing with other tribes. They seem to have no home, nor character, but that of merchants, in which capacity they travel great distances to whatever parts are most in want of [211]merchandise, which is the greatest part corn. In times of war they attend, and are of great assistance to armies, and, being neutral, it is a matter of indifference to them who purchase their goods. They marched and formed their own encampments apart, relying on their own courage for protection; for which purpose the men are all armed with swords or matchlocks. The women drive the cattle, and are the most robust we ever saw in India, undergoing a great deal of labour with apparent ease. Their dress is peculiar, and their ornaments are so singularly chosen that we have, we are confident, seen women who (not to mention a child at their backs) have had eight or ten pounds weight in metal or ivory round their arms and legs. The favourite ornaments appear to be rings of ivory from the wrist to the shoulder, regularly increasing in size, so that the ring near the shoulder will be immoderately large, sixteen or eighteen inches, or more perhaps in circumference. These rings are sometimes dyed red. Silver, lead, copper, or brass, in ponderous bars, encircle their shins, sometimes round, others in the form of festoons, and truly we have seen some so circumstanced that a criminal in irons would not have much more to incommode him than these damsels deem ornamental and agreeable trappings on a long march, for they are never dispensed with in the hottest weather. A kind of stomacher, with holes for the arms, and tied behind at the bottom, covers their breast, and has some strings of cowries,17 depending behind, dangling at their backs. The stomacher is curiously studded with cowries, and their hair is also bedecked with them. They wear likewise ear-rings, necklaces, rings on the fingers and toes, and, we think, [212]the nut or nose jewel. They pay little attention to cleanliness; their hair, once plaited, is not combed or opened perhaps for a month; their bodies or cloths are seldom washed; their arms are indeed so encased with ivory that it would be no easy matter to clean them. They are chaste and affable; any indecorum offered to a woman would be resented by the men, who have a high sense of honour on that head. Some are men of great property; it is said that droves of loaded bullocks, to the number of fifty or sixty thousand, have at different times followed the Bhow’s army.”



The Lambādis of Bellary “have a tradition among them of having first come to the Deccan from the north with Moghul camps as commissariat carriers. Captain J. Briggs, in writing about them in 1813, states that, as the Deccan is devoid of a single navigable river, and has no roads that admit of wheeled traffic, the whole of the extensive intercourse is carried on by laden bullocks, the property of the Banjāris.”18 Concerning the Lambādis of the same district, Mr. Francis writes that “they used to live by pack-bullock trade, and they still remember the names of some of the generals who employed their forebears. When peace and the railways came and did away with these callings, they fell back for a time upon crime as a livelihood, but they have now mostly taken to agriculture and grazing.” Some Lambādis are, at the present time (1908), working in the Mysore manganese mines.

Writing in 1825, Bishop Heber noted19 that “we passed a number of Brinjarees, who were carrying salt. They all had bows, arrows, sword and shield. Even the children had, many of them, bows and arrows suited to [213]their strength, and I saw one young woman equipped in the same manner.”

Of the Lambādis in time of war, the Abbé Dubois inform us20 that “they attach themselves to the army where discipline is least strict. They come swarming in from all parts, hoping, in the general disorder and confusion, to be able to thieve with impunity. They make themselves very useful by keeping the market well supplied with the provisions that they have stolen on the march. They hire themselves and their large herds of cattle to whichever contending party will pay them best, acting as carriers of the supplies and baggage of the army. They were thus employed, to the number of several thousands, by the English in their last war with the Sultan of Mysore. The English, however, had occasion to regret having taken these untrustworthy and ill-disciplined people into their service, when they saw them ravaging the country through which they passed, and causing more annoyance than the whole of the enemy’s army.”

It is noted by Wilks21 that the travelling grain merchants, who furnished the English army under Cornwallis with grain during the Mysore war, were Brinjāris, and, he adds, “they strenuously objected, first, that no capital execution should take place without the sanction of the regular judicial authority; second, that they should be punishable for murder. The executions to which they demanded assent, or the murders for which they were called to account, had their invariable origin in witchcraft, or the power of communication with evil spirits. If a child sickened, or a wife was inconstant, the sorcerer was to be discovered and punished.” [214]It is recorded by the Rev. J. Cain that many of the Lambādis “confessed that, in former days, it was the custom among them before starting out on a journey to procure a little child, and bury it in the ground up to the shoulders, and then drive their loaded bullocks over the unfortunate victim, and, in proportion to their thoroughly trampling the child to death, so their belief in a successful journey increased. A Lambādi was seen repeating a number of mantrams (magical formulæ) over his patients, and touching their heads at the same time with a book, which was a small edition of the Telugu translation of St. John’s gospel. Neither the physician nor patient could read, and had no idea of the contents of the book.” At the time when human (meriah) sacrifices prevailed in the Vizagapatam Agency tracts, it was the regular duty of Lambādis to kidnap or purchase human beings in the plains, and sell them to the hill tribes for extravagant prices. A person, in order to be a fitting meriah, had to be purchased for a price.

It is recorded22 that not long after the accession of Vināyaka Deo to the throne of Jeypore, in the fifteenth century, some of his subjects rose against him, but he recovered his position with the help of a leader of Brinjāris. Ever since then, in grateful recognition, his descendants have appended to their signatures a wavy line (called valatradu), which represents the rope with which Brinjāris tether their cattle.

The common occupation of the Lambādis of Mysore is said23 to be “the transport, especially in the hill and forest tracts difficult of access, of grain and other produce on pack bullocks, of which they keep large herds. They [215]live in detached clusters of rude huts, called thandas, at some distance from established villages. Though some of them have taken of late to agriculture, they have as yet been only partially reclaimed from criminal habits.” The thandas are said to be mostly pitched on high ground affording coigns of vantage for reconnoissance in predatory excursions. It is common for the Lambādis of the Vizagapatam Agency, during their trade peregrinations, to clear a level piece of land, and camp for night, with fires lighted all round them. Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao informs me that “they regard themselves as immune from the attacks of tigers, if they take certain precautions. Most of them have to pass through places infested with these beasts, and their favourite method of keeping them off is as follows. As soon as they encamp at a place, they level a square bit of ground, and light fires in the middle of it, round which they pass the night. It is their firm belief that the tiger will not enter the square, from fear lest it should become blind, and eventually be shot. I was once travelling towards Malkangiri from Jeypore, when I fell in with a party of these people encamped in the manner described. At that time, several villages about Malkangiri were being ravaged by a notorious man-eater (tiger). In the Madras Census Reports the Lambādis are described as a class of traders, herdsmen, cattle-breeders, and cattle-lifters, found largely in the Deccan districts, in parts of which they have settled down as agriculturists. In the Cuddapah district they are said24 to be found in most of the jungly tracts, living chiefly by collecting firewood and jungle produce. In the Vizagapatam district, Mr. G. F. Paddison informs me, the bullocks of the Lambādis [216]are ornamented with peacock’s feathers and cowry shells, and generally a small mirror on the forehead. The bullocks of the Brinjāris (Boiparis) are described by the Rev. G. Gloyer25 as having their horns, foreheads, and necks decorated with richly embroidered cloth, and carrying on their horns, plumes of peacock’s feathers and tinkling bells. When on the march, the men always have their mouths covered, to avoid the awful dust which the hundreds of cattle kick up. Their huts are very temporary structures made of wattle. The whole village is moved about a furlong or so every two or three years—as early a stage of the change from nomadic to a settled life as can be found.” The Lambādi tents, or pāls, are said by Mr. Mullaly to be “made of stout coarse cloth fastened with ropes. In moving camp, these habitations are carried with their goods and chattels on pack bullocks.” Concerning the Lambādis of the Bellary district Mr. S. P. Rice writes to me as follows. “They are wood-cutters, carriers, and coolies, but some of them settle down and become cultivators. A Lambādi hut generally consists of only one small room, with no aperture except the doorway. Here are huddled together the men, women, and children, the same room doing duty as kitchen, dining and bedroom. The cattle are generally tied up outside in any available spot of the village site, so that the whole village is a sort of cattle pen interspersed with huts, in whatsoever places may have seemed convenient to the particular individual. Dotted here and there are a few shrines of a modest description, where I was told that fires are lighted every night in honour of the deity. The roofs are generally sloping and made of thatch, unlike the majority of houses [217]in the Deccan, which are almost always terraced or flat roofed. I have been into one or two houses rather larger than those described, where I found a buffalo or two, after the usual Canarese fashion. There is an air of encampment about the village, which suggests a gipsy life.”

The present day costume and personal adornments of the Lambādi females have been variously described by different writers. By one, the women are said to remind one of the Zingari of Wallachia and the Gitani of Spain. “Married women,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,26 “are distinguished from the unmarried in that they wear their bangles between the elbow and shoulder, while the unmarried have them between the elbow and wrist. Unmarried girls may wear black bead necklets, which are taken off at marriage, at which time they first assume the ravikkai or jacket. Matrons also use an earring called guriki to distinguish them from widows or unmarried girls.” In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, it is noted that “the women wear a peculiar dress, consisting of a lunga or gown of stout coarse print, a tartan petticoat, and a mantle often elaborately embroidered, which also covers the head and upper part of the body. The hair is worn in ringlets or plaits hanging down each side of the face, and decorated with shells, and terminating in tassels. The arms are profusely covered with trinkets and rings made of bones, brass and other rude materials. The men’s dress consists of a white or red turband, and a pair of white breeches or knicker-bockers, reaching a little below the knee, with a string of red silk tassels hanging by the right side from the waistband.” “The men,” Mr. F. S. Mullaly writes, [218]“are fine muscular fellows, capable of enduring long and fatiguing marches. Their ordinary dress is the dhoty with short trousers, and frequently gaudy turbans and caps, in which they indulge on festive occasions. They also affect a considerable amount of jewellery. The women are, as a rule, comely, and above the average height of women of the country. Their costume is the laigna (langa) or gown of Karwar cloth, red or green, with a quantity of embroidery. The chola (choli) or bodice, with embroidery in the front and on the shoulders, covers the bosom, and is tied by variegated cords at the back, the ends of the cords being ornamented with cowries and beads. A covering cloth of Karwar cloth, with embroidery, is fastened in at the waist, and hangs at the side with a quantity of tassels and strings of cowries. Their jewels are very numerous, and include strings of beads of ten or twenty rows with a cowry as a pendant, called the cheed, threaded on horse-hair, and a silver hasali (necklace), a sign of marriage equivalent to the tāli. Brass or horn bracelets, ten to twelve in number, extending to the elbow on either arm, with a guzera or piece of embroidered silk, one inch wide, tied to the right wrist. Anklets of ivory (or bone) or horn are only worn by married women. They are removed on the death of the husband. Pachala or silk embroidery adorned with tassels and cowries is also worn as an anklet by women. Their other jewels are mukaram or nose ornament, a silver kania or pendant from the upper part of the ear attached to a silver chain which hangs to the shoulder, and a profusion of silver, brass, and lead rings. Their hair is, in the case of unmarried women, unadorned, brought up and tied in a knot at the top of the head. With married women it is fastened, in like manner, [219]with a cowry or a brass button, and heavy pendants or gujuris are fastened at the temples. This latter is an essential sign of marriage, and its absence is a sign of widowhood. Lambādi women, when carrying water, are fastidious in the adornment of the pad, called gala, which is placed on their heads. They cover it with cowries, and attach to it an embroidered cloth, called phūlia, ornamented with tassels and cowries.” I gather that Lambādi women of the Lavidia and Kimavath septs do not wear bracelets (chudo), because the man who went to bring them for the marriage of a remote ancestor died. In describing the dress of the Lambādi women, the Rev. G. N. Thomssen writes that “the sāri is thrown over the head as a hood, with a frontlet of coins dangling over the forehead. This frontlet is removed in the case of widows. At the ends of the tufts of hair at the ears, heavy ornaments are tied or braided. Married women have a gold and silver coin at the ends of these tufts, while widows remove them. But the dearest possession of the women are large broad bracelets, made, some of wood, and the large number of bone or ivory. Almost the whole arm is covered with these ornaments. In case of the husband’s death, the bracelets on the upper arm are removed. They are kept in place by a cotton bracelet, gorgeously made, the strings of which are ornamented with the inevitable cowries. On the wrist broad heavy brass bracelets with bells are worn, these being presents from the mother to her daughter.”

Each thanda, Mr. Natesa Sastri writes, has “a headman called the Nāyaka, whose word is law, and whose office is hereditary. Each settlement has also a priest, whose office is likewise hereditary.” According to Mr. H. A. Stuart, the thanda is named after the [220]headman, and he adds, “the head of the gang appears to be regarded with great reverence, and credited with supernatural powers. He is believed to rule the gang most rigorously, and to have the power of life and death over its members.”

Concerning the marriage ceremonies of the Sugālis of North Arcot, Mr. Stuart informs us that these “last for three days. On the first an intoxicating beverage compounded of bhang (Cannabis indica) leaves, jaggery (crude sugar), and other things, is mixed and drunk. When all are merry, the bridegroom’s parents bring Rs. 35 and four bullocks to those of the bride, and, after presenting them, the bridegroom is allowed to tie a square silver bottu or tāli (marriage badge) to the bride’s neck, and the marriage is complete; but the next two days must be spent in drinking and feasting. At the conclusion of the third day, the bride is arrayed in gay new clothes, and goes to the bridegroom’s house, driving a bullock before her. Upon the birth of the first male child, a second silver bottu is tied to the mother’s neck, and a third when a second son is born. When a third is added to the family, the three bottus are welded together, after which no additions are made.” Of the Lambādi marriage ceremony in the Bellary district, the following detailed account is given by Mr. Francis. “As acted before me by a number of both sexes of the caste, it runs as follows. The bridegroom arrives at night at the bride’s house with a cloth covering his head, and an elaborately embroidered bag containing betel and nut slung from his shoulder. Outside the house, at the four corners of a square, are arranged four piles of earthen pots—five pots in each. Within this square two grain-pounding pestles are stuck upright in the ground. The bride is decked with the [221]cloth peculiar to married women, and taken outside the house to meet the bridegroom. Both stand within the square of pots, and round their shoulders is tied a cloth, in which the officiating Brāhman knots a rupee. This Brāhman, it may be at once noted, has little more to do with the ceremony beyond ejaculating at intervals ‘Shōbhana! Shōbhana!’ or ‘May it prosper!’ Then the right hands of the couple are joined, and they walk seven times round each of the upright pestles, while the women chant the following song, one line being sung for each journey round the pestle:

To yourself and myself marriage has taken place.

Together we will walk round the marriage pole.

Walk the third time; marriage has taken place.

You are mine by marriage.

Walk the fifth time; marriage has taken place.

Walk the sixth time; marriage has taken place.

Walk the seventh time; marriage has taken place.

We have walked seven times; I am yours.

Walk the seventh time; you are mine.

“The couple then sit on a blanket on the ground near one of the pestles, and are completely covered with a cloth. The bride gives the groom seven little balls compounded of rice, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar, which he eats. He then gives her seven others, which she in turn eats. The process is repeated near the other pestle. The women keep on chanting all the while. Then the pair go into the house, and the cloth into which the rupee was knotted is untied, and the ceremonies for that night are over. Next day the couple are bathed separately, and feasting takes place. That evening the girl’s mother or near female relations tie to the locks on each side of her temples the curious badges, called gugri, which distinguish a married from an [222]unmarried woman, fasten a bunch of tassels to her back hair, and girdle her with a tasselled waistband, from which is suspended a little bag, into which the bridegroom puts five rupees. These last two are donned thereafter on great occasions, but are not worn every day. The next day the girl is taken home by her new husband.” It is noted in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that “one unique custom, distinguishing the Lambāni marriage ceremonial, is that the officiating Brāhman priest is the only individual of the masculine persuasion who is permitted to be present. Immediately after the betrothal, the females surround and pinch the priest on all sides, repeating all the time songs in their mixed Kutnī dialect. The vicarious punishment to which the solitary male Brāhman is thus subjected is said to be apt retribution for the cruel conduct, according to a mythological legend, of a Brāhman parent who heartlessly abandoned his two daughters in the jungle, as they had attained puberty before marriage. The pinching episode is notoriously a painful reality. It is said, however, that the Brāhman, willingly undergoes the operation in consideration of the fees paid for the rite.” The treatment of the Brāhman as acted before me by Lambādi women at Nandyāl, included an attempt to strip him stark naked. In the Census Report, it is stated that, at Lāmbadi weddings, the women “weep and cry aloud, and the bride and bridegroom pour milk into an ant-hill, and offer the snake which lives therein cocoanuts, flowers, and so on. Brāhmans are sometimes engaged to celebrate weddings, and, failing a Brāhman, a youth of the tribe will put on the thread, and perform the ceremony.”

The following variant of the marriage ceremonies was acted before me at Kadūr in Mysore. A pandal [223](booth) is erected, and beneath it two pestles or rice-pounders are set up. At the four corners, a row of five pots is placed, and the pots are covered with leafy twigs of Calotropis procera, which are tied with Calotropis fibre or cotton thread. Sometimes a pestle is set up near each row of pots. The bridal couple seat themselves near the pestles, and the ends of their cloths, with a silver coin in them, are tied together. They are then smeared with turmeric, and, after a wave-offering to ward off the evil eye, they go seven times round the pestles, while the women sing:—

Oh! girl, walk along, walk.

You boasted that you would not marry.

Now you are married.

Walk, girl, walk on.

There is no good in your boasting.

You have eaten the pudding.

Walk, girl, walk.

Leave off boasting.

You sat on the plank with the bridegroom’s thigh on yours.

The bride and bridegroom take their seats on a plank, and the former throws a string round the neck of the latter, and ties seven knots in it. The bridegroom then does the same to the bride. The knots are untied. Cloths are then placed over the backs of the couple, and a swastika mark ([swastika]) is drawn on them with turmeric paste. A Brāhman purōhit is then brought to the pandal, and seats himself on a plank. A clean white cloth is placed on his head, and fastened tightly with string. Into this improvised turban, leafy twigs of mango and Cassia auriculata are stuck. Some of the Lambādi women present, while chanting a tune, throw sticks of Ficus glomerata, Artocarpus integrifolia, and mango in front of the Brāhman, pour gingelly (Sesamum) oil over them, and set them on fire. The Brāhman is [224]made a bridegroom, and he must give out the name of his bride. He is then slapped on the cheeks by the women, thrown down, and his clothing stripped off. The Brāhman ceremonial concluded, a woman puts the badges of marriage on the bride. On the following day, she is dressed up, and made to stand on a bullock, and keep on crooning a mournful song, which makes her cry eventually. As she repeats the song, she waves her arms, and folds them over her head. The words of the song, the reproduction of which in my phonograph invariably made the women weep, are somewhat as follows:—

Oh! father, you brought me up so carefully by spending much money.

All this was to no purpose.

Oh! mother, the time has come when I have to leave you.

Is it to send me away that you nourished me?

Oh! how can I live away from you,

My brothers and sisters?

Among the Lambādis of Mysore, widow remarriage and polygamy are said27 to freely prevail, “and it is customary for divorced women to marry again during the lifetime of the husband under the sīrē udikē (tying of a new cloth) form of remarriage, which also obtains among the Vakkaligas and others. In such cases, the second husband, under the award of the caste arbitration, is made to pay a certain sum (tera) as amends to the first husband, accompanied by a caste dinner. The woman is then readmitted into society. But certain disabilities are attached to widow remarriage. Widows remarried are forbidden entry into a regular marriage party, whilst their offspring are disabled from legal marriage for three generations, although allowed to take [225]wives from families similarly circumstanced.” According to Mr. Stuart, the Sugālis of the North Arcot district “do not allow the marriage of widows, but on payment of Rs. 15 and three buffaloes to her family, who take charge of her children, a widow may be taken by any man as a concubine, and her children are considered legitimate. Even during her husband’s life, a woman may desert him for any one else, the latter paying the husband the cost of the original marriage ceremony. The Sugālis burn the married, but bury all others, and have no ceremonies after death for the rest of the soul of the deceased.” If the head of a burning corpse falls off the pyre, the Lambādis pluck some grass or leaves, which they put in their mouths “like goats,” and run home.

A custom called Valli Sukkeri is recorded by the Rev. G. N. Thomssen, according to which “if an elder brother marries and dies without offspring, the younger brother must marry the widow, and raise up children, such children being regarded as those of the deceased elder brother. If, however, the elder brother dies leaving offspring, and the younger brother wishes to marry the widow, he must give fifteen rupees and three oxen to his brother’s children. Then he may marry the widow.” The custom here referred to is said to be practiced because the Lambādi’s ancestor Sugrīva married his elder brother Vali’s widow.

I am informed by Mr. F. A. Hamilton that, among the Lambādis of Kollegal in the Coimbatore district, “if a widower remarries, he may go through the ordinary marriage ceremony, or the kuttuvali rite, in which all that is necessary is to declare his selection of a bride to four or five castemen, whom he feeds. A widow may remarry according to the same rite, her new husband [226]paying the expenses of the feast. Married people are burnt. Unmarried, and those who have been married by the kuttuvali rite, are buried. When cremation is resorted to, the eldest son sets fire to the funeral pyre. On the third day he makes a heap of the ashes, on which he sprinkles milk. He and his relations then return home, and hold a feast. When a corpse is buried, no such ceremonies are performed. Both males and females are addicted to heavy drinking. Arrack is their favourite beverage, and a Lambādi’s boast is that he spent so much on drink on such and such an occasion. The women dance and sing songs in eulogy of their goddess. At bed-time they strip off all their clothes, and use them as a pillow.”

The Lambādis are said to purchase children from other castes, and bring them up as their own. Such children are not allowed to marry into the superior Lambādi section called Thanda. The adopted children are classified as Koris, and a Kori may only marry a Lambādi after several generations.

Concerning the religion of the Lambādis, it is noted in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that they are “Vishnuvaits, and their principal object of worship is Krishna. Bana Sankari, the goddess of forests, is also worshipped, and they pay homage to Basava on grounds dissimilar to those professed by the Lingayets. Basava is revered by the Lambādis because Krishna had tended cattle in his incarnation. The writer interviewed the chief Lambāni priests domiciled in the Holalkerē taluk. The priests belong to the same race, but are much less disreputable than the generality of their compatriots. It is said that they periodically offer sacrificial oblations in the agni or fire, at which a mantram is repeated, which may be paraphrased thus:— [227]

I adore Bharma (Bramha) in the roots;

Vishnu who is the trunk;

Rudra (Mahadēv) pervading the branches;

And the Dēvās in every leaf.

“The likening of the Creator’s omnipotence to a tree among a people so far impervious to the traditions of Sanskrit lore may not appear very strange to those who will call to mind the Scandinavian tree of Igdrasil so graphically described by Carlyle, and the all-pervading Asvat’tha (pīpal) tree of the Bhagavatgīta.” It is added in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that “the Lambānis own the Gosayis (Goswāmi) as their priests or gurus. These are the genealogists of the Lambānis, as the Helavas are of the Sīvachars.” Of the Sugālis of Punganūr and Palmanēr in the North Arcot district Mr. Stuart writes that “all worship the Tirupati Swāmi, and also two Saktis called Kōsa Sakti and Māni Sakti. Some three hundred years ago, they say that there was a feud between the Bukia and Mūdu Sugālis, and in a combat many were killed on both sides; but the widows of only two of the men who died were willing to perform sāti, in consequence of which they have been deified, and are now worshipped as saktis by all the divisions.” It is said28 that, near Rolla in the Anantapur district, there is a small community of priests to the Lambādis who call themselves Muhammadans, but cannot intermarry with others of the faith, and that in the south-west of Madakasīra taluk there is another sub-division, called the Mondu Tulukar (who are usually stone-cutters and live in hamlets by themselves), who similarly cannot marry with other Musalmans. It is noted by the Rev. J. Cain29 that in some places the Lambādis “fasten small rags torn from [228]some old garment to a bush in honour of Kampalamma (kampa, a thicket). On the side of one of the roads from Bastar are several large heaps of stones, which they have piled up in honour of the goddess Guttalamma. Every Lambādi who passes the heaps is bound to place one stone on the heap, and to make a salaam to it.” The goddess of the Lambādis of Kollegal is, according to Mr. Hamilton, Satthi. A silver image of a female, seated tailor-fashion, is kept by the head of the family, and is an heirloom. At times of festival it is set up and worshipped. Cooked food is placed before it, and a feast, with much arrack drinking, singing, beating of tom-tom, and dancing through the small hours of the night, is held. Examples of the Lambādi songs relating to incidents in the Rāmāyana, in honour of the goddesses Durga and Bhavāni, etc., have been published by Mr. F. Fawcett.30

The Brinjāris are described by the Rev. G. Gloyer as carrying their principal goddess “Bonjairini Mata,” on the horns of their cattle (leitochsen).

It is noted by the Rev. G. N. Thomssen that the Lambādis “worship the Supreme Being in a very pathetic manner. A stake, either a carved stick, or a peg, or a knife, is planted on the ground, and men and women form a circle round this, and a wild, weird chant is sung, while all bend very low to the earth. They all keep on circling about the stake, swinging their arms in despair, clasping them in prayer, and at last raising them in the air. Their whole cry is symbolic of the child crying in the night, the child crying for the light. If there are very many gathered together for worship, the men form one circle, and the women another. Another [229]peculiar custom is their sacrifice of a goat or a chicken in case of removal from one part of the jungle to another, when sickness has come. They hope to escape death by leaving one camping ground for another. Half-way between the old and new grounds, a chicken or goat is buried alive, the head being allowed to be above ground. Then all the cattle are driven over the buried creature, and the whole camp walk over the buried victim.” In former days, the Lambādis are reputed to have offered up human sacrifices. “When,” the Abbé Dubois writes, “they wish to perform this horrible act, it is said, they secretly carry off the first person they meet. Having conducted the victim to some lonely spot, they dig a hole, in which they bury him up to the neck. While he is still alive, they make a sort of lump of dough made of flour, which they place on his head. This they fill with oil, and light four wicks in it. Having done this, the men and women join hands, and, forming a circle, dance round their victim, singing and making a great noise, till he expires.” The interesting fact is recorded by Mr. Mullaly “that, before the Lambādis proceed on a predatory excursion, a token, usually a leaf, is secreted in some hidden place before proceeding to invoke Durga. The Durgamma pūjāri (priest), one of their own class, who wears the sacred thread, and is invested with his sacred office by reason of his powers of divination, lights a fire, and, calling on the goddess for aid, treads the fire out, and names the token hidden by the party. His word is considered an oracle, and the pūjāri points out the direction the party is to take.”

From a further note on the religion of the Lambādis, I gather that they worship the following:—

  • (1) Balaji, whose temple is at Tirupati. Offerings of money are made to this deity for the bestowal of [230]children, etc. When their prayers are answered, the Lambādis walk all the way to Tirupati, and will not travel thither by railway.
  • (2) Hanumān, the monkey god.
  • (3) Poleramma. To ward off devils and evil spirits.
  • (4) Mallalamma. To confer freedom to their cattle from attacks of tigers and other wild beasts.
  • (5) Ankalamma. To protect them from epidemic disease.
  • (6) Peddamma.
  • (7) Maremma.

The Lambādis observe the Holi festival, for the celebration of which money is collected in towns and villages. On the Holi day, the headman and his wife fast, and worship two images of mud, representing Kama (the Indian cupid) and his wife Rati. On the following morning, cooked food is offered to the images, which are then burnt. Men and women sing and dance, in separate groups, round the burning fire. On the third day, they again sing and dance, and dress themselves in gala attire. The men snatch the food which has been prepared by the women, and run away amid protests from the women, who sometimes chastise them.

It is narrated by Moor31 that “he passed a tree, on which were hanging several hundred bells. This was a superstitious sacrifice by the Bandjanahs, who, passing this tree, are in the habit of hanging a bell or bells upon it, which they take from the necks of their sick cattle, expecting to leave behind them the complaint also. Our servants particularly cautioned us against touching these diabolical bells; but, as a few were taken for our own [231]cattle, several accidents that happened were imputed to the anger of the deity, to whom these offerings were made, who, they say, inflicts the same disorder on the unhappy bullock who carries a bell from this tree as he relieved the donor from.”

There is a legend in connection with the matsya gundam (fish pool) close under the Yendrika hill in the Vizagapatam district. The fish therein are very tame, and are protected by the Mādgole Zamindars. “Once, goes the story, a Brinjāri caught one and turned it into curry, whereon the king of the fish solemnly cursed him, and he and all his pack-bullocks were turned into rocks, which may be seen there to this day.”32

Lambādi women often have elaborate tattooed patterns on the backs of the hands, and a tattooed dot on the left side of the nose may be accepted as a distinguishing character of the tribe in some parts. My assistant once pointed out that, in a group of Lambādis, some of the girls did not look like members of the tribe. This roused the anger of an old woman, who said “You can see the tattoo marks on the nose, so they must be Lambādis.”

Lambādi women will not drink water from running streams or big tanks.

In the Mysore Province, there is a class of people called Thambūri, who dress like Lambādis, but do not intermarry with them. They are Muhammadans, and their children are circumcised. Their marriages are carried out according to the Muhammadan nikka rite, but they also go through the Lambādi form of marriage, except that marriage pots are not placed in the pandal [232](wedding booth). The Lambādis apparently pay some respect to them, and give them money at marriages or on other occasions. They seem to be bards and panegyrists of the Lambādis, in the same way that other classes have their Nōkkans, Vīramushtis, Bhatrāzus, etc. It is noted by Mr. Stuart33 that the Lambādis have priests called Bhats, to whom it is probable that the Thambūris correspond in Mysore.

The methods of the criminal Lambādis are dealt with at length by Mr. Mullaly. And it must suffice for the present purpose to note that they commit dacoities and have their receivers of stolen property, and that the Naik or headman of the gang takes an active share in the commission of crime.

Lampata.—A name, signifying a gallant, returned by some Sānis at times of census.

Landa.—A synonym of Mondi.

Lanka (island).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Kamma.

Lattikar.—Recorded, at the census, 1901, as a sub-division of Vakkaliga (Okkiliyan) in the Salem district. Latti means a reckless woman, and latvi, an unchaste woman, and the name possibly refers to Vakkaligas who are not true-bred.

Lēkāvali.—A division of Marāthas in the Sandūr State. Many of them are servants in the Rāja’s palace. They are stated, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, to be the offspring of irregular unions among other Marāthas.

Lekkala (accounts).—An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Linga Balija.—The Linga Balijas (traders) are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a [233]Lingāyat sub-caste of Balija. In a note on Lingāyats, Mr. R. C. C. Carr records that the Linga Banjigs or Banajigas are essentially traders, though many are now cultivators, and that Telugu Lingāyats often call themselves Linga Balijas.

The following legendary account of the origin of the “Linga Bhojunnalawaru” is given in the Baramahal Records.34 “Para Brahma or the great god Brahma created the god Pralayakala Rudra or the terrific at the day of destruction, a character of the god Siva, and he created the Chatur Acharyulu or four sages named Panditaraju, Yekcoramalu, Murralaradulu, and Somaluradulu, and taught them mantras or prayers, and made them his deputies. On a time, the Asuras and Devatas, or the giants and the gods, made war on each other, and the god Pralayakala Rudra produced from his nose a being whom he named Muchari Rudra, and he had five sons, with whom he went to the assistance of the devatas or gods, and enabled them to defeat the giants, and for his service the gods conferred upon him and his sons the following honorary distinctions:—

  • A flag with the figure of an alligator (crocodile) portrayed on it.
  • A flag with the figure of a fish portrayed on it.
  • A flag with the figure of a bullock.
  • A flag with the figure of an eagle.
  • A flag with the figure of a bell.
  • A bell.
  • A modee ganta, or iron for marking cattle.
  • The use of burning lamps and flambeaus in their public processions during the day.
  • The use of tents.


“On a time, when the god Pralayakala Rudra and Mochari Rudra and his five sons, with other celestial attendants, were assembled on the Kailāsa parvata or mountain of Paradise, the god directed the latter to descend into the Bhuloka or earthly world, and increase and multiply these species. They humbly prayed to know how they were again to reach the divine presence. He answered ‘I shall manifest myself in the Bhuloka under the form of the Lingam or Priapus; do you worship me under that form, and you will again be permitted to approach me.’ They accordingly descended into the earthly regions, and from them the present castes of Baljawaras deduce their origin.”

In a note on the Linga Balijas of the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes35 that “Linga Balija appears rather to be the name of the followers of a religious faith than of a distinct caste, for the Linga Balijas state that their caste contains eleven sub-divisions, each with a separate occupation, viz., Jangam (priests), Reddi (cultivators), Gāndla (oil-mongers), and the like. Almost all the Linga Balijas of North Arcot are traders, who speak Canarese and are immigrants from Mysore, in which their gurus (religious preceptors) live, and whither they still refer their caste disputes. At one time they enjoyed much importance in this district, particularly in its large trading towns. Headmen among them, styled Chettis, were by the Arcot Nawābs assigned districts, in which they possessed both magisterial and civil authority, and levied taxes from other merchants for their own personal use. They carried on very extensive trade with Mysore and the Ceded districts, and are said to have had enormous warehouses, [235]which they enclosed and fortified. Breaches of the peace are also described as not infrequent, resulting from the interference of one Linga Balija Chetti with matters relating to the district of another. Their authority has long since disappeared, and is only a matter of tradition. Every Linga Balija wears a Siva lingam, usually encased in a silver casket (or gold casket set with precious stones), and suspended from the neck, but the very poor place theirs in a cloth, and sometimes tie it to their arm. It is a strict rule that one should be tied to a child’s neck on the tenth day of its birth, otherwise it is not entitled to be classed as a Linga Balija. The Siva lingam worn by these people differs from the Būta or Prēta lingams used by Pandārams, Kaikōlans, or others who profess the Lingāyat faith. They acknowledge two purānams, called respectively the Siva and Basava purānams, and differ in very many respects from other Hindus. They bury and do not burn their dead, and do not recognise the five kinds of pollution resulting from a birth, death, spittle, etc., and they do not therefore bathe in order to remove such pollution. Widow remarriage is allowed even where the widow has children, but these are handed over to the relatives of her first husband. To widow remarriages no women who are not widows are admitted, and, similarly, when a maiden is married, all widows are excluded. Unlike most Hindus, Linga Balijas shave off the whole of the hair of their heads, without leaving the usual lock at the back. They deny metempsychosis, and believe that after death the soul is united with the divine spirit. They are particular in some of their customs, disallowing liquor and flesh-eating, and invariably eating privately, where none can see them. They decline even to eat in the house of a Brāhman.” [236]

A Linga Banajiga (Canarese trader), whom I interviewed at Sandūr, was smeared with white marks on the forehead, upper extremities, chest, and abdomen in imitation of a Hubli priest. Some orthodox Lingāyat traders remove their lingam during the transaction of the day’s work, on the ground, as given to me, that it is necessary to tell little falsehoods in the course of business.

Lingadāri.—A general term, meaning one who wears a lingam, for Lingāyat.

Lingakatti.—A name applied to Lingāyat Badagas of the Nīlgiri hills.

Lingam.—A title of Jangams and Sīlavants.

Lingāyat.—For the following note I am mainly indebted to Mr. R. C. C. Carr, who took great interest in its preparation when he was Collector of Bellary. Some additional information was supplied by Mr. R. E. Enthoven, Superintendent of the Ethnographic Survey, Bombay. The word Lingāyat is the anglicised form of Lingavant, which is the vernacular term commonly used for any member of the community. The Lingāyats have been aptly described as a peaceable race of Hindu Puritans. Their religion is a simple one. They acknowledge only one God, Siva, and reject the other two persons of the Hindu Triad, They reverence the Vēdas, but disregard the later commentaries on which the Brāhmans rely. Their faith purports to be the primitive Hindu faith, cleared of all priestly mysticism. They deny the supremacy of Brāhmans, and pretend to be free from caste distinctions, though at the present day caste is in fact observed amongst them. They declare that there is no need for sacrifices, penances, pilgrimages or fasts. The cardinal principle of the faith is an unquestioning belief in the efficacy of the lingam, the image which has always been regarded as symbolical [237]of the God Siva. This image, which is called the jangama lingam or moveable lingam, to distinguish it from the sthavara or fixed lingam of Hindu temples, is always carried on some part of the body, usually the neck or the left arm, and is placed in the left hand of the deceased when the body is committed to the grave Men and women, old and young, rich and poor, all alike wear this symbol of their faith, and its loss is regarded as spiritual death, though in practice the loser can after a few ceremonies, be invested with a new one. They are strict disciplinarians in the matter of food and drink, and no true Lingāyat is permitted to touch meat in any form, or to partake of any kind of liquor. This Puritan simplicity raises them in the social scale, and has resulted in producing a steady law-abiding race, who are conservative of the customs of their forefathers and have hitherto opposed a fairly unbroken front to the advancing tide of foreign ideas. To this tendency is due the very slow spread of modern education amongst them, while, on the other hand, their isolation from outside influence has without doubt assisted largely in preserving intact their beautiful, highly polished, and powerful language, Canarese.

It is matter of debate whether the Lingāyat religion is an innovation or a revival of the most ancient Saivaite faith, but the story of the so-called founder of the sect, Basava, may with some limitations be accepted as history. The events therein narrated occurred in the latter half of the twelfth century at Kalyān, a city which was then the capital of the Western Chālukyas, and is now included in the province of Bidar in the Nizām’s Dominions. It lies about a hundred miles to the west of Hyderabad. The Chālukyas came originally from the north of India, but appeared to the south of the [238]Nerbudda as early as the fourth century. They separated into two branches during the seventh century, and the western line was still represented at Kalyān 500 years later. The southern portion of Hindustan had for centuries been split up between rival kingdoms, and had been the theatre of the long struggle between the Buddhists, the Jains, and the Hindus. At the time of Basava’s appearance, a Jain king, Bijjala by name, was in power at Kalyān. He was a representative of the Kalachuryas, a race which had been conquered by the Chālukyas, and occupied the position of feudatories. Bijjala appears to have been the Commander-in-chief of the Chālukyan forces, and to have usurped the throne, ousting his royal master, Taila III. The date of the usurpation was 1156 A.D., though, according to some accounts, Bijjala did not assume the full titles till some years later. He was succeeded by his sons, but the Chālukyan claimant recovered his throne in 1182, only to lose it again some seven years afterwards, when the kingdom itself was divided between the neighbouring powers. The final downfall of the Chālukyan Deccani kingdom was probably due to the rise of the Lingāyat religion. The Hindus ousted the Jains, but the tenets inculcated by Basava had caused a serious split in the ranks of the former. The house divided against itself could not stand, and the Chālukyas were absorbed into the kingdoms of their younger neighbours, the Hoysala Ballalas from Mysore in the south, and the Yādavas from Dēvagiri (now identified with Daulatabad) in the north.

At about this time there appears to have been a great revival of the worship of Siva in the Deccan and in Southern India. A large number of important Saivaite temples are known to have been built during [239]the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and inscriptions speak of many learned and holy men who were devoted to this worship. The movement was probably accentuated by the opposition of the Jains, who seem to have been very powerful in the Western Deccan, and in Mysore. An inscription which will be more fully noticed later on tells of the God Siva specially creating a man in order to “put a stop to the hostile observances of the Jains and Buddhists.” This was written about the year 1200 A.D., and it may be gathered that Buddhism was still recognised in the Deccan as a religious power. Mr. Rice tells us that the labours of the Saivaite Brāhman, Sankarāchārya, had in the eighth century dealt a deathblow to Buddhism, and raised the Saiva faith to the first place.36 Its position was, however, challenged by the Jains, and, even as late as the twelfth century, it was still battling with them. The Vaishnavaite reformer, Rāmānujāchārya, appeared at about this time, and, according to Mr. Rice, was mainly instrumental in ousting Jainism; but the followers of Vishnu built many of their big temples in the thirteenth century, two hundred years later than their Saivaite brethren, so it may be presumed that the latter faith was in the ascendancy prior to that time. Chaitanya, the Vaishnavaite counterpart of Basava, appeared at a much later date (1485 A.D.). It is interesting to note that the thirteenth century is regarded as the culminating period of the middle ages in Italy, when religious fervour also displayed itself in the building of great cathedrals.37

The actual date of Basava’s birth is uncertain, but is given by some authorities as 1106 A.D. The story of [240]his career is told in the sacred writings of the Lingāyats, of which the principal books are known as the Basava Purāna and the Channabasava Purāna. The former was apparently finished during the fourteenth century, and the latter was not written till 1585. The accounts are, therefore, entirely traditionary, and, as might have been expected, are full of miraculous occurrences, which mar their historical value. The Jain version of the story is given in the Bijjalarāyacharitra, and differs in many particulars. The main facts accepted by Lingāyat tradition are given by Dr. Fleet in the Epigraphia Indica [Vol. V, p. 239] from which the following account is extracted. To a certain Madiraja and his wife Madalāmbika, pious Saivas of the Brāhman caste, and residents of a place called Bagevādi, which is usually supposed to be the sub-divisional town of that name in the Bijapur district, there was born a son who, being an incarnation of Siva’s bull, Nandi, sent to earth to revive the declining Saiva rites, was named Basava. This word is the Canarese equivalent for a bull, an animal sacred to Siva. When the usual time of investiture arrived, Basava, then eight years of age, having meanwhile acquired much knowledge of the Siva scriptures, refused to be invested with the sacred Brāhmanical thread, declaring himself a special worshipper of Siva, and stating that he had come to destroy the distinctions of caste. This refusal, coupled with his singular wisdom and piety, attracted the notice of his uncle Baladēva, prime minister of the Kalachurya king Bijjala, who had come to be present at the ceremony; and Baladēva gave him his daughter, Gangādevi or Gangāmba, in marriage. The Brāhmans, however, began to persecute Basava on account of the novel practices propounded by him, and he consequently left his native town and went to a [241]village named Kappadi, where he spent his early years, receiving instruction from the God Siva. Meanwhile his uncle Baladēva died, and Bijjala resolved to secure the services of Basava, whose ability and virtues had now become publicly known. After some demur Basava accepted the post, in the hope that the influence attached to it would help him in propagating his peculiar tenets. And, accompanied by his elder sister, Nāgalāmbika, he proceeded to Kalyāna, where he was welcomed with deference by the king and installed as prime minister, commander-in-chief and treasurer, second in power to the king himself; and the king, in order to bind him as closely as possible to himself, gave him his younger sister Nilalochana to wife. Somewhere about this time, from Basava’s unmarried sister Nāgalāmbika there was born, by the working of the spirit of Siva, a son who was an incarnation of Siva’s son Shanmukha, the god of war. The story says that Basava was worshipping in the holy mountain and was praying for some gift, when he saw an ant emerge from the ground with a small seed in its mouth. Basava took this seed home, and his sister without Basava’s knowledge swallowed it, and became pregnant. The child was called Channabasava, or the beautiful Basava, and assisted his uncle in spreading the new doctrines. Indeed, he is depicted as playing a more important part than even Basava himself.

Linga Banajiga with lingam on head.

Linga Banajiga with lingam on head.

The two Purānas are occupied for the most part with doctrinal expositions, recitals of mythology, praises of previous Siva saints, and accounts of miracles worked by Basava. They assert, however, that uncle and nephew were very energetic promoters of the faith, and that they preached the persecution and extermination of all persons (especially the Jains), whose creed differed from that of the Lingāyats. Coupled with the lavish [242]expenditure incurred by Basava from the public coffers in support of Jangams or Lingāyat priests, these proceedings aroused in Bijjala, himself a Jain, feelings of distrust, which were fanned by a rival minister, Manchanna, although the latter was himself a Vīra Saiva, and at length an event occurred which ended in the assassination of Bijjala and the death of Basava.

At Kalyāna there were two specially pious Lingāyats, whom Bijjala in mere wantonness caused to be blinded. Thereupon Basava left Kalyāna, and deputed one of his followers Jagaddeva to slay the king. Jagaddeva, with two others, succeeded in forcing his way into the palace, where he stabbed the king in the midst of his court. Basava meanwhile reached Kudali-Sangameshvara, and was there absorbed into the lingam, while Channabasava fled to Ulvi in North Canara, where he found refuge in a cave.

The above story is taken mainly from the Basava Purāna. The account given in the Channabasava Purāna differs in various details, and declares that Bijjala was assassinated under the orders of Channabasava, who had succeeded his uncle in office. The Jain account states that Basava’s influence with the king was due to Basava’s sister, whom Bijjala took as a concubine. The death of Bijjala was caused by poisoned fruit sent by Basava, who, to escape the vengeance of Bijjala’s son, threw himself into a well and died. The version of Basava’s story, which is found in most books of reference, makes him appear at Kalyān as a youth flying from the persecution of his father. His uncle, Baladēva, sheltered him and eventually gave him his daughter; and, when Baladēva died, Basava succeeded to his office. This seems to have been copied from the account given by Mr. C. P. Brown, but later translations of the Purāna show that it is [243]erroneous. When Basava came to Kalyān, Bijjala was in power, and his arrival must therefore have been subsequent to 1156 A. D. If the date of birth be accepted as 1106, Basava would have been a man of fifty years of age or more when summoned to office by Bijjala. The latter resigned in favour of his son in 1167, and may have been assassinated shortly afterwards. On the other hand, Baladēva could not have been Bijjala’s minister when he came to Basava’s upanāyanam ceremony, for this event occurred in 1114, long before the commencement of Bijjala’s reign. There is no reason, however, for crediting the Purāna with any great historical accuracy, and, in fact, the evidence now coming to light from inscriptions, which the industry of archæologists is giving to the world, throws great doubt upon the traditional narrative.

Linga Banajiga with lingam on chest.

Linga Banajiga with lingam on chest.

An inscription on stone tablets which have now been built into the wall of a modern temple at Managoli, a village in the Bijāpur district of the Bombay Presidency about eleven miles to the north-west of Bāgevādi, the supposed birth place of Basava, contains a record of the time of the Kalachuri king, Bijjala. Two dates are given in the inscription, and from one of them it is calculated with certainty that Bijjala’s reign began in 1156 A.D. The record gives a certain date as “the sixth of the years of the glorious Kalachurya Bijjaladēva, an emperor by the strength of his arm, the sole hero of the three worlds.” The corresponding English date is Tuesday, 12th September, 1161 A.D., so that Bijjala must have come into power, by the strength of his arm, in 1156. But a still more important piece of information is furnished by the mention of a certain Basava or Basavarasayya as the builder of the temple, in which the inscription was first placed, and of one Madirāja, who held the post of [244]Mahaprabhu of the village when the grants in support of the temple were made. The record runs as follows.38 “Among the five hundred of Manigavalli there sprang up a certain Govardhana, the moon of the ocean that was the Kasyappa gōtra, an excellent member of the race of the Vajins. His son was Revadāsa. The latter had four sons.... The youngest of these became the greatest, and, under the name of Chandramas, made his reputation reach even as far as the Himalaya mountains. To that lord there was born a son, Basava. There were none who were like him in devotion to the feet of (the God) Maheshvara (Siva); and this Basava attained the fame of being esteemed the sun that caused to bloom the water-lily that was the affection of the five hundred Brāhmans of Manigavalli. This Basavarasayya came to be considered the father of the world, since the whole world, putting their hands to their foreheads, saluted him with the words ‘our virtuous father’; and thus he brought greatness to the famous Manigavalli, manifesting the height of graciousness in saying this is the abode of the essence of the three Vēdas; this is the accomplishment of that which has no end and no beginning; this is the lustrous divine linga.”

Dr. Fleet suggests that we have at last met with an epigraphic mention of the Lingāyat founder, Basava. This is eminently satisfactory, but is somewhat upsetting, for the inscription makes Basava a member of the Kasyapa gōtra, while Madirāja is placed in an entirely different family. As regards the latter, the record says; (l. 20) “in the lineage of that lord (Taila II, the leader of the Chalukyas) there was a certain Madhava, the [245]Prabhu of the town of Manigavalli, the very Vishnu of the renowned Harita gōtra;” and later on the same person is spoken of as the Mahaprabhu Madirāja. If Basava and Madirāja, herein mentioned, are really the heroes of the Lingāyats, it is clear that they were not father and son, as stated in the Lingāyat writings. But it must be borne in mind that this is the only inscription yet deciphered which contains any allusion whatever to Basava, and the statement that “he caused to bloom the water-lily that was the affection of the five hundred Brāhmans of Manigavalli,” is directly opposed to the theory that he broke away from the Brāhman fold, and set up a religion, of which one of the main features is a disregard of Brāhman supremacy. The fact that the inscription was found so near to Basava’s birthplace is, however, strong evidence in favour of the presumption that it refers to the Basava of Lingāyat tradition, and the wording itself is very suggestive of the same idea. The record gives a long pedigree to introduce the Basava whom it proceeds to extol, and puts into his mouth the noteworthy utterance, which ascribes godly qualities to the “lustrous divine linga.” The date of this record is contemporary with the events and persons named therein, and it must therefore be far more reliable than the traditionary stories given in the Purānas, which, as already indicated, are not at all in accordance with each other. Dr. Fleet is of opinion that the Purāna versions are little better than legends. This is perhaps going too far, but there can be no doubt that later research will in this, as in the case of all traditionary history, bring to knowledge facts which will require a considerable rearrangement of the long accepted picture.

Another inscription, discovered at Ablūr in the Dharwar district of the Bombay Presidency, is of great [246]importance in this connection. It is dated about A.D. 1200, and mentions the Western Chalukya king Somesvara IV, and his predecessor the Kalachurya prince Bijjala. It narrates the doings of a certain Ekāntada Rāmayya, so called because he was an ardent and exclusive worshipper of Siva. This individual got into controversy with the Jains, who were apparently very powerful at Ablūr, and the latter agreed to destroy their Jina and to set up Siva instead, if Rāmayya would cut off his own head before his god, and have it restored to his body after seven days without a scar. Rāmayya appears to have won his wager, but the Jains refused to perform their part of the contract. The dispute was then referred to king Bijjala, himself a Jain, and Rāmayya was given a jayapatra, or certificate of success. This king and his Chalukyan successor also presented Rāmayya with lands in support of certain Siva temples. It is noteworthy that the story is told also in the Channabasava Purāna, but the controversy is narrated as having occurred at Kalyān, where Rāmayya had gone to see king Bijjala. The same passage makes Rāmayya quote an instance of a previous saint, Mahālāka, having performed the same feat at a village named Jambar, which may conceivably be the Ablūr of the inscription. But the interest and importance of the inscription centre in the fact that it discloses the name of another devout and exclusive worshipper of Siva, who, it is said, caused this man to be born into the world with the express object of “putting a stop to the hostile observances of the Jains and the Buddhists who had become furious” or aggressive. Dr. Fleet considers that, making allowance for the supernatural agency introduced into the story, the narrative is reasonable and plain, and has the ring of truth in it; and, in his opinion, it shows us the real person to whom the [247]revival of the ancient Saivaite faith was due. The exploits of Rāmayya are placed shortly before A.D. 1162, in which year Bijjala is said to have completed his usurpation of the sovereignty by assuming the paramount titles. Rāmayya was thus a contemporary of Basava, but the Ablūr inscription makes no mention of the latter.



This fresh evidence does not appear to run counter to the commonly accepted story of the origin of the Lingāyats. It confirms the theory that the religion of Siva received a great impetus at this period, but there is nothing in the inscription ascribing to Rāmayya the position of a reformer of Saivaite doctrines. He appears as the champion of Siva against the rival creeds, not as the Saivaite Luther who is attacking the priestly mysticism of the Saivaite divines; and, as Dr. Fleet points out, there is nothing improbable in the mention of several persons as helping on the same movement. Both Rāmayya and Basava are, however, represented in these inscriptions as being the chief of Saivaite Brāhmans, and there is no mention of any schism such as the Protestant revolt which is associated with the name of Luther. It is possible, therefore, that the establishment of the Lingāyat sect may have been brought about by the followers of these two great men—a fact that is hinted at in Lingāyat tradition by the very name of Channabasava, which means Basava the beautiful, because, according to the Channabasava Purāna, he was more beautiful in many respects than Basava, who is represented as receiving instruction from his superior nephew in important points connected with their faith. The two inscriptions and numerous others, which have been deciphered by the same authority, are of the greatest value from a historical point of view, and paint in bold [248]colours the chief actors in the drama. The closing years of the Western Chalukyan kingdom are given to us by the hand of an actor who was on the same stage, and, if the birth of the Lingāyat creed is still obscured in the mist of the past, the figures of those who witnessed it stand out with surprising clearness.

It has been already stated that one of the principles of the religion is a disregard of caste distinctions. The prevailing races were Dravidian, and it is an accepted fact that the theory of caste as propounded by Manu is altogether foreign to Dravidian ideas. Historians cannot tell us how long the process of grafting the caste system on to the Dravidian tree lasted, but it is clear that, when Basava appeared, the united growth was well established. Brāhmans were acknowledged as the leaders in religious matters, and, as the secular is closely interwoven with the religious in all eastern countries, the priestly class was gradually usurping to itself a position of general control. But, as was the case in Europe during the sixteenth century, a movement was on foot to replace the authority of the priests by something more in accordance with the growing intelligence of the laity. And, as in Europe, the reformers were found amongst the priests themselves. Luther and Erasmus were monks, who had been trained to support the very system of priestcraft, which they afterwards demolished. Basava and Rāmayya, as already stated, were Saivaite Brāhmans, from whom has sprung a race of free thinkers, who affect the disregard of caste and many of the ceremonial observances created by the Brāhman priesthood. The comparison may even be carried further. Luther was an iconoclast, who worked upon men’s passions, while Erasmus was a philosopher, who addressed himself to their intellects. Basava, according to the traditionary [249]account, was the counterpart of Luther. Rāmayya may be fairly called the Indian Erasmus.

This freedom from the narrowing influence of caste was doubtless a great incentive to the spread of the reformed religion. The lingam was to be regarded as the universal leveller, rendering all its wearers equal in the eye of the Deity. High and low were to be brought together by its influence, and all caste distinctions were to be swept away. According to Basava’s teaching, all men are holy in proportion as they are temples of the great spirit; by birth all are equal; men are not superior to women, and the gentle sex must be treated with all respect and delicacy; marriage in childhood is wrong, and the contracting parties are to be allowed a voice in the matter of their union; and widows are to be allowed to remarry. All the iron fetters of Brāhmanical tyranny are, in fact, torn asunder, and the Lingāyat is to be allowed that freedom of individual action, which is found amongst the more advanced Christian communities. Even the lowest castes are to be raised to the level of all others by the investiture of the lingam, and all Lingadhāris, or wearers of the divine symbol, are to eat together, to intermarry, and to live at unity.

But social distinctions inevitably asserted themselves later. As the Lingāyats, or Panchamsālis as they styled themselves, increased in importance, number and wealth, elaborate forms of worship and ceremony were introduced, rules of conduct were framed, and a religious system was devised, on which the influence of the rival Brāhman aristocracy can be freely traced. Thus, in course of time, the Panchamsālis became a closed caste, new converts were placed on a lower social footing, the priests alone continuing as a privileged class to dine freely with [250]them. This development is alleged to have occurred about the close of the seventeenth century.

Among the many ceremonies introduced in the course of the changes just described, one known as the ashtavarna or eight-fold protection is of special importance.

These rites consist of—

  • 1. Guru.
  • 2. Linga.
  • 3. Vibhūti.
  • 4. Rudrāksha.
  • 5. Mantra.
  • 6. Jangam.
  • 7. tīrtha.
  • 8. Prasāda.

Among the greater number of Lingāyats, after the birth of a child, the parents send for the guru or spiritual adviser of the family, who is the representative of one of the five Achāryas from whom the father claims descent, or in his absence of his local agent. The guru binds the linga on the child, besmears it with vibhūti (ashes), places a garland of rudrāksha (fruits of Elæocarpus Ganitrus) round its neck, and teaches it the mystic mantra of “Namah Shivaya.” The child being incapable of acquiring the knowledge of the sacred text at this early stage of its existence, the mantra is merely recited in its ear by the guru. The child has then to be presented to the god Siva in the person of a Jangam, or Lingāyat priest, who is summoned for the purpose; on his arrival, the parents wash his feet. The water in which the feet are washed is described as the tīrtha or charana tīrtha of Siva. This tīrtha is next poured over the linga attached to the infant. The Jangam is fed, and a portion of the cooked food from the dish is placed in the child’s mouth. This final ceremony is known as prasāda. (I am informed that it would be considered by Tamil Lingāyats sacrilege to wash the lingam with the tīrtha.) Occasionally the double character of guru and Jangam are combined in one person. [251]

According to some accounts, the rites described above form the basis of the present social organization of the Lingāyat community. They are divided into those entitled to ashtavarna, and those who are not. The first of these divisions is again sub-divided into several groups, which may for convenience be designated Panchamsālis who are descendants of the original converts, and non-Panchamsālis or later converts.

Linga Banajiga.

Linga Banajiga.

This explanation will throw some light on the scheme of classification adopted in the Bombay Gazetteer (see volumes Bijapur and Dharwar) where the smaller groups are shown as—

  • 1. Pure Lingāyats.
  • 2. Affiliated Lingāyats.
  • 3. Half Lingāyats.

These divisions, of which the full significance is not clearly conveyed by the titles, may perhaps be expanded with advantage by the addition to each of the alternatives already explained, viz., Panchamsālis, non-Panchamsālis with ashtavarna rites, and others, including the unclean castes attached to the Lingāyat community by reason of performing its menial services, e.g., Dhors, Chalvādis, etc. It is the modern practice to deny to these low castes the right to style themselves Lingāyats at all. It must be further explained that there are seven divisions of Panchamsālis, and that these stand to each other in the relation of hypergamous groups, that is to say, members of the higher orders may wed the daughters of those beneath them, which suggests the probable former existence of free intermarriage. Members of the lower orders among these Panchamsālis may rise to the higher by performing certain religious ceremonies, constituting a form of initiation. In the second and third divisions, i.e., non-Panchamsālis and [252]“others,” the sub-castes are functional groups and are endogamous, i.e., intermarriage is prohibited. It seems probable that the members of these divisions became converts to Lingāyatism some time after the initiation of the reforms, to which it gave birth, when the crusade against caste distinctions had lost much of its pristine vigour, and ceased to be a living part of the fundamental doctrine of the sect.

At the present day, marriage is both infant and adult, and the parties to the contract have practically no choice. Widows are indeed allowed to remarry, but such marriages are regarded with disfavour by the stricter members of the sect. A Pariah or a Māla cannot be invested with the lingam, and, if he pretends to be a Lingāyat, the Jangam does not acknowledge him. The strict rules regarding meat and drink are maintained, and Lingāyats are still free from many of the ceremonies and religious performances required of other Hindus. But the tendency of to-day is to follow the lead of the Brāhman; and, while no Lingāyat will admit the superiority of that caste, they practically acknowledge it by imitating many Brāhmanical practices. Much of the good effected by the founder has thus been counteracted, and the Lingāyat is gradually becoming more and more like his orthodox Hindu brother. In proof of this tendency it may be noted that, at the time of the census of 1891, there were numerous representations from Lingāyats claiming the right to be described as Vīrasaiva Brāhmans. Further, on the occasion of the census of 1901, a complete scheme was supplied to the census authorities professing to show all Lingāyat sub-divisions in four groups, viz., Brāhman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sūdra. It is noted, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that the Lingāyats interviewed the [253]Maharāja, and begged that their registration as Vīrasaiva Brāhmans might be directed. “The crisis was removed by His Highness the Maharāja’s Government passing orders to the effect that the Lingāyats should not be classed as Sādras any more than any other non-Brāhmans, but should be separately designated by their own name, and that, while they were at liberty to call themselves Vīrasaiva Brāhmans, they should specify the name of the particular and well-known sub-division to which each censused unit belonged. It is noteworthy that, as soon as the clamour of the Lingāyats was set at rest, some of their leaders seem to have become ashamed of their own previous vehemence, while the movement seemed to have lost the spring imparted by sincerity. Their feelings were brought to the test when the question of permitting the wonted periodical procession of their religious flagstaff, the nandī-dhvaja, came on for consideration by the Police department. The Lingāyats’ application for a license was opposed by the other castes on the ground that, since they had become Brāhmans, and had ceased to belong to the right-hand faction, they had no right to parade the nandī-dhvaja. The Lingāyats then showed themselves glad to regain their status quo ante.”

Linga Banajiga.

Linga Banajiga.

In connection with the name Vīrasaiva, it may be noted en passant that the first session of the Shreemat Veerashaiva Mahasabha39 was held at Dharwar in the Bombay Presidency in 1904. Thereat various suggestions were made concerning religious instruction, education, marriage, the settlement of disputes by arbitration, and other matters affecting the material welfare of the Lingāyat community as a whole. [254]

It is worthy of note that, according to some writers, Basava is supposed to have come within the influence of the Syrian Christians. The idea was started by Mr. C. P. Brown, whose essay on the Jangams40 is the classic on this subject. Mr. A. C. Burnell quotes the remarkable fact from Cosmos that, in the sixth century, there was a Persian Bishop at Kalliāna near Udupi. And it is presumed by Surgeon-Major W. R. Cornish, the writer of the Madras Census Report, 1871, that Kalliāna is identical with Kalyān, where Basava was prime minister six centuries later. This is clearly wrong, for Udupi is on the west coast 30 miles north of Mangalore, whereas Kalyān, the Chalukyan capital, is in the heart of the Deccan, 350 miles away over the western ghauts. There was another Calyaun or Kaliāna close to Udupi on the coast, as shown by some of the older maps. But it is well known that Western India was at this time tenanted by large settlements of Persians or Manichæans, and recent discoveries tend to show that these people were Christians. It seems, therefore, to be quite possible that the discussions, which preceded Basava’s revolt, were tinged with some Christian colouring, derived from the followers of the Syrian school. Mr. Burnell even thinks that all the modern philosophical schools of India owe much to the same source.

The Lingāyat faith appears to have spread very rapidly after Basava’s death, which may be placed in the year 1168, and Rice says that, according to tradition, within sixty years of the founder’s death it was embraced from Ulavi near Goa to Sholāpur, and from Balehalli to Sivaganga. The disappearance of the Chalukyan dynasty is in itself evidence of the rising power of the [255]Lingāyats. But no real estimate can be made of its progress at first. More than a hundred years later, the Muhammadan invaders took possession of the Deccan, and other religions were driven southwards. The Empire of Vijayanagar, which is said to have covered the whole country from the Kistna to Cape Comorin, rose out of the ruins of the Hindu kingdoms, and as Mr. Sewell says,41 the fighting Kings of Vijayanagar became the saviours of the south for two and a half centuries. The early members of this dynasty were Saivaites in faith, but there is no record of the workings of the reformed religion, which had spread southwards before Vijayanagar became a power.



The followers of this religion are easily distinguished from other Hindus by the fact that the lingam is worn on a conspicuous part of the body. The bulk of the cultivators enclose it in a red silk scarf tied round their necks, with a knot in front. This scarf is tied on the left arm above the elbow when the wearer is at work, and is sometimes placed round the head when bathing. Some of the traders, who are the richer class, carry it in a small silver box hung round the neck with a thread called sivadhāra, or in a gold box studded with precious stones. The women do not wear it outside the dress, and generally keep it on a neck-string. No one is allowed to put it down even for a moment. Recently a Lingāyat merchant in Madras removed his silver lingam casket from his neck, wrapped it up in a cloth, put it under his head, and went to sleep on a street pial (platform). While he was slumbering, the casket was stolen by a cart driver. The lingam itself, which is regarded as the home of the deity, is generally made of grey [256]soapstone brought from Parvatgiri (Srisaila) in the Kurnool district. It is brought by a class of people called Kambi Jangams, because, besides the linga stone, they bring on a kāvadi or shoulder-bamboo the holy water of the Pātālganga, a pool on Parvatgiri, whose water Lingāyats hold as sacred as Brāhmans the water of the Ganges.

The following description of the lingam is taken from the Bombay Gazetteer for Bījapur. “It consists of two discs, the lower one circular about one-eighth of an inch thick, the upper slightly elongated. Each disc is about three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and is separated by a deep groove about an eighth of an inch broad. From the centre of the upper disc, which is slightly rounded, rises a pea-like knob about a quarter of an inch long and three-quarters of an inch round, giving the stone lingam a total height of nearly three-quarters of an inch. This knob is called the bān or arrow. The upper disc is called jalhāri, that is the water carrier, because this part of a full-sized lingam is grooved to carry off the water which is poured over the central knob. It is also called pīta, that is the seat, and pīthak the little seat. Over the lingam, to keep it from harm, is plastered a black mixture of clay, cowdung ashes, and marking-nut juice. This coating, which is called kauthi or the cover, entirely hides the shape of the enclosed lingam. It forms a smooth black slightly truncated cone, not unlike a dark betel nut, about three-quarters of an inch high, and narrowing from three-quarters of an inch at the base to half an inch across the top.”

The Jangam cannot as a rule be distinguished from other Lingāyats. All male members of the community have a clean-shaved head, without the top-knot common to the Brāhmans. All, male as well as female, daub [257]their foreheads with vibhūti or sacred ashes every morning. There is thus no distinctive mark for the Jangam. But certain ascetics of the priestly class sometimes put on a red robe peculiar to them, and others cover themselves with vibhūti and many quaint ornaments. [A Jangam whom I interviewed at a village in Mysore, was named Vīrabhadra Kayaka, and was also known as Kāsi Lingada Vīra. He was going about the village, shouting, dancing, and repeating the Vīrabhadra khadga or praise of Vīrabhadra, Siva’s son. On his bead he had a lingam stuck in his head-cloth, with a five-headed snake forming a canopy over it, and the sacred bull Basava in front. Tied to the forehead, and passing round the head, was a string holding thirty-two lingams. At the back of the head was a mane of white false hair. His face was painted bright red. Round the neck he had four garlands of rudrāksha beads, and suspended from the neck, and resting on the chest, was a silver casket containing a lingam. Round the waist was a waist-band made of brass squares ornamented with a variety of figures, among which were the heads of Daksha Brahma and Vīrabhadra. Suspended from the neck was a breast-plate, with a representation of Vīrabhadra and the figures of Daksha Brahma and his wife engraved in copper. From the waist a piece of tiger skin was suspended, to which were attached two heads of Daksha Brahma with a lion’s head between. Hanging lower down was a figure of Basava. Tied to the ankles were hollow brass cylinders with loose bits of brass inside. Strings of round brass bells were tied to the knees. In his right hand he carried a long sword, and tied to the left forearm was a gauntlet-handled scimitar. To the handle were attached pieces of brass, which made a noise when the arm was [258]shaken. Finally, round the forearm were tied pieces of bear-skin.]



No account of the Lingāyat community as it exists at the present day would be complete without some reference to the grounds on which the modern representatives of Lingāyatism claim for their religion an origin as ancient as that of Brāhministic Hinduism, and a social structure similar to that which is described in the Code of Manu.

Mr. Karibasava Shāstri, Professor of Sanskrit and Canarese in the State College of Mysore, writes that the Shaiv sect of Hindus has always been divided into two groups, the one comprising the wearers of the linga, and the other those who do not wear it. The former he designates Vīrshaiv, and declares that the Vīrshaivs consist of Brāhman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Sūdra. Quoting from the 17th chapter of the Parameshvar Āgma, he declares that the Vīrshaiv Brāhmans are also known as Shudha Vīrshaivs, Vīrshaiv Kings are Marga Vīrshaiv, Vīrshaiv Vaishya are Mishra Vīrshaiva, and the Sūdras of the community are Anter Vīrshaiv. In his opinion the duties and penances imposed on the first of these classes are—

  • (1) The ashtavarna.
  • (2) Penances and bodily emaciation.
  • (3) The worship of Siva without sacrifice.
  • (4) The recital of the Vēdas.

The Professor asserts that the Hindu ashrams of Brāhmacharya, Grahasta and Sanyāsi are binding on Vīrshaivs, and quotes from various Sanskrit works texts in support of this view. He also furnishes a mythical account of the origin of the Lingāyats at the time of the creation of the world.

A committee of gentlemen appointed in the Belgaum district to consider the question of the origin of [259]the Lingāyats base their opinion on a Sanskrit work, the Paramarahasya, and give the following account:—“When the God Shiva wished to people the earth, he created from his mouth five acharyas, namely, Marula Radhyacharya, Ekoranadhyacharya, Revanaradhyacharya, Panditaradhyacharya and Vishvaradhyacharya. These five acharyas propagated the Lingāyat portion of mankind. Each of them founded a gōtra, namely, Bhringi, Vīra, Vrisha, Skanda and Handi, and their five seats are Shrishaila, Kollipaki, Ujjaini, Kashi and Balihalli.”

A third account prepared specially in connection with the census of 1901 begins by controverting the common opinion that Basava founded the Lingāyat religion, that it was in origin anti-Brāhmanical, and that it abolished caste distinctions. The account continues as follows. “A little enquiry will clearly show that it was not Basava who founded the religion, but that he only revived the previously existing and ancient religion; that it is not anti-Brāhmanical, but that it protests against the efficacy of animal sacrifices, and that the religion itself is founded on the authority of the Vēdas, treating of animal sacrifices just as the Shri Vaishnav and Mādhva religions have rejected certain portions and adopted certain others of the Vēdas. Consequently it is incorrect to say that the Vīrshaivs reject the authority of the Vēdas.” The writer maintains that caste distinctions are not foreign to the nature of Lingāyatism, and asserts that they have always existed. According to him, the orthodox theory is that, when Brahma was ordered to create the world, he requested Siva to teach him how to, whereupon Siva created aprakruts. Brahma created the world from the five elements of nature, and produced the prakruts. The Lingāyats are [260]the aprakruts, and the Brāhmanistic Hindus prakruts. Here follow many quotations from Sanskrit Āgmas in support of the facts alleged. It is unnecessary to weary the reader with the texts and their translations. The object in referring to these latter day accounts of the origin of the Lingāyats is to show the modern tendency of tradition to bring Lingāyatism into line with Brāhmanistic Hinduism. The works referred to by the learned authors appear to be Sanskrit writings of not more than 500 years ago, and cannot be taken as proof that the Lingāyat religion is of greater antiquity than the 12th century, or that it has always been observant of caste distinctions. The persistence with which these points are advanced at the present day is, however, worthy of careful notice. If Lingāyatism was an island thrown up within the “boundless sea of Hinduism,” it would appear that the waters of the ocean are doing their utmost to undermine its solid foundations. The Lingāyats in Bombay, Madras and Mysore number about two millions. Mysore and the Southern Mahratta country are the principal homes of the creed, and the Bellary district, which is wedged in between the above territories, must be classed with them. Mr. Rice tells us that it was the State religion of the Wodeyars of Mysore from 1399 to 1610, and of the Nāyaks of Keladi, Ikkeri or Bednur from 1550 to 1763. At the present day the ruling family in Mysore employ none but Lingāyats as cooks and watermen. The Lingāyats of Madras numbered 138,518 at the census of 1901. These figures, however, are of doubtful accuracy, as many were entered under caste names, and the probable strength of the community must be largely in excess of the figures. They were chiefly found in the Bellary district. [261]

The following are the main sub-divisions of the community in the Madras Presidency :—

1. Jangam. The priestly class.

2. Banajiga or Banjig, divided into Banajigas proper and Jain Banajigas.

These are essentially traders, but many are now cultivators. The equivalent in the Telugu country is Linga Balija. Jangams occasionally take Banajiga girls in marriage. The girl has to undergo certain ceremonies before her marriage, and after that she should not be treated as a daughter or sister of the family, but should be considered as a Jangam’s wife, and respect paid to her. Jangam girls are not given to Banajigas as wives. Jain Banajigas are considered as inferior to Banajigas proper, and girls of the former are not married into families of the latter.

3. Sadaru, divided into Kumbala Kudi Sadaru and Chadaru Sadaru. The great majority are cultivators.

4. Laligonda, divided into Hera (elder) and Chikka (younger) Laligonda.

5. Kāpu, Rēddi, and Vakkalīga, cultivators.

The Arādhya Brāhman is termed a Lingāyat. This caste is not included in the present note. The members of it wear the sacred thread, as well as the lingam. They are strict Saivite Brāhmans, and have nothing to do with the Lingāyats proper.

The three religious divisions of the community are styled:—

1. Nirabara Vīra Saiva. Sanyāsis or ascetics, wearing only the kaupinam or loin-cloth

2. Vishesha Vīra Saiva. The priestly class, generally called Jangams.

3. Sāmānya Vīra Saiva. This includes all Lingāyats, who are not Sanyāsis or Jangams. The whole [262]Lingāyat community is dealt with by Mr. C. P. Brown under the name Jangam, and his essay speaks of Vishesha and Sāmānya Jangams. This is incorrect, for no Sāmānya Vīra Saiva can be a Jangam, and all Jangams are Vishesha Vīra Saivas.

The Jangams are mostly literate, and the members of the Banjig or trader class are frequently literate. The other classes of men, and the women of all classes are practically illiterate. Canarese is the common language of Lingāyats, and it is usually preserved as a house language where Canarese is not the language of the locality. In Bellary the teachers in several of the board schools (primary standard) are Jangams. Very few Lingāyats have as yet competed for University honours, and the number of Lingāyat graduates is small.

The common termination for males is Appa, and for females Amma or Akka, or Avva. In the case of Jangams the male termination is Ayya. The names commonly in use are as follows:—

Basappa or Basamma, after Basava, the founder of the religion.

Chennappa or Chennava, after Chennabasava, nephew of Basava.

Sugurappa or Suguravva, after Sugur, where there is a temple of Vīrabhadra.

Revanna or Revamma, after Revana Sideswara, the founder of the Balehalli mutt.

Mallappa or Mallava, a localised name of Siva.

Nāgappa or Nāganna, after a snake.

Bussappa or Bussavva, after the hiss of a snake.

Basappa is the most common name of all, and it is said that in Kottūr, a town of 7,000 inhabitants, not far from Ujjini, one half of the male Lingāyats are styled Kottūr Basappa. [263]

Tinduga or Tindōdi is a nickname given to a daughter’s son born and bred up in his maternal grandfather’s house. The name signifies that the boy will some day quit the house and join his father’s family, tindu meaning eating, and wodi, running away. If the child happens to be a female she is called Tindavva or Tindōdi. Kuldappa, or Kuldavva, is a nickname for one who fails to see a thing at once when he looks for it. Kulda is a corruption of kuruda, which means a blind man. Superstition has something to do with the naming of children. Children whose predecessors died successively in their infancy are named as Sudugappa or Sudugādavva after sudugādu, burial-ground, Gundappa or Gundavva after gundu, a rock, Tippiah or Tippavva after tippa, a rubbish heap, Tirakappa after tirakambonu, begging. These names signify humility, and are given in the belief that God will pity the parents and give the children a long lease of life. Two names are not given to a child, but pet names are used instead.

The recognised head-quarters of the Lingāyats in the Bellary district is Ujjini, a village in the south of the Kudligi tāluk on the borders of Mysore. There are five head-quarters of the community in different parts of India. In each there is what is called a Simhasanadhīpati. In the first period of creation, Īswara or Siva is supposed to have appeared in five different forms, emanating from his five faces, and the five Lingāyat centres are representative of these five forms. The places are Ujjini, Srīsaila, Kollēpāka, Balehalli, and Benares.

It is said that the Mutt at Kollēpāka no longer exists, and has been replaced by one at Bukkasagar in the Hospet tāluk of Bellary district. The shape and materials of their dwellings are not in any way different from those [264]of other Hindus. In the Bellary district, houses of the better classes are built of stone; poorer persons can only afford mud houses. All adopt the flat roof peculiar to the Deccan.



It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that “the orthodox theory among the Lingāyats is that their religion was founded by a number of Achāryas, the most famous of whom were Renuka, Daraka, Gajakarna, Ghantakarna and Viswakarna, who are the Gotrakartas of the Lingāyat Dwijas, having received their mandate direct from Siva to establish his true religion on earth, or rather to restore it to its purity. As belonging to the Apprakrita Srishti, the Vīrasaivas are enjoined not to follow that portion of the Vēdas which treats of Yagnas or animal sacrifices. Their contention is that karma, or the performance of ceremonies, is of two kinds, namely, one relating to the attainment of worldly desires, and the other relating to the attainment of wisdom or gnana. The idea of salvation in Brāhmanical religions generally is the attainment of desires, going to Swarga or Heaven, where one would enjoy eternal bliss. But salvation, as understood by the Vīrasaiva religion, is something different, and goes one step further, meaning absorption into and attainment of oneness with the deity. Consequently, they are prohibited from performing all those ceremonies which relate to the attainment of Swarga, but are bound to perform those which relate to gnana or wisdom, and to salvation as understood by them. The five great Gotrakartas established five great religious centres in different parts of India, viz., Ekorama at Ketara in the Himalayas, Viswacharya at Benares, Marutacharya at Ujjain, Pandithacharya at Srīsaila in Cuddapah district, and Renukāchārya at Balehalli or Balehonnūr in Koppa tāluk (of Mysore), [265]at all of which places the mutts still exist. The heads of these mutts have geographically divided the Lingāyats into five great divisions, and each head exercises spiritual control within his own legitimate sphere, though all of them have a general jurisdiction over all the Lingāyats generally. Each of these mutts, called simhasanas (thrones), has sub-mutts in important popular centres under the management of Pattadaswāmis. Each sub-mutt has a number of branch mutts, called Gurusthala mutts, under it, and these latter are established wherever a community of Lingāyats exists. The rights and duties of the Swāmis of these mutts are to preside on all ceremonial occasions, to receive their dues, to impart religious instructions, to settle religious disputes, and to exercise a general control over all matters affecting the interests of the community at large. But one particular feature of this sect is the existence of another order of priests, called Viraktas, also known as Nirabharis or Jangamas, who hold the highest position in the ecclesiastical order, and therefore command the highest respect from laymen as well as from the above mentioned clergy. Each Virakta mutt is directly subject to the Murgi mutt at Chitaldrug, which has absolute jurisdiction over all the Viraktas. Most Lingāyat towns have a Virakta mutt built outside the town, where the Swāmi or the Jangama leads a solitary, simple and spiritual life. Unlike the other priests, the Virakta is prohibited from presiding on ceremonial occasions, and from receiving unnecessary alms unless for the purpose of immediately distributing the same to others. He should devote his whole life partly to spiritual meditation, and partly to the spreading of spiritual knowledge among his disciples, so that he would be the fountain head, to whom all laymen and all clergy must turn for spiritual wisdom. His position, [266]in short, should be that of a pure Sanyāsi of the most exalted order. But here, as in the case of most other Indian ecclesiastical orders, the modern representative of the ancient prototype is far different from the ideal.”

Sacrifices are contrary to the tenets of the faith, but the practices of other Hindus are to some extent copied. When laying the foundations of a house, a cocoanut is broken, incense offered and camphor burnt. When setting up the main door frame, a ceremony called Dwāra Pratishta is performed. On that day, or a subsequent day, an iron nail is driven into the frame, to prevent devils or evil spirits from entering the house. After the house is completed, the ceremony of Graha Pravēsam takes place. With all Lingāyat ceremonies the most important feature is the worship of the jangam, and in this instance the house is sprinkled with water, in which the Jangam’s feet have been washed. Jangam’s friends and relatives are then entertained and fed in the house.

Theoretically, any one may become a Lingāyat by virtue of investiture with the lingam. But in practice very few outsiders are admitted. The priests do not proselytise. The elders of the community sometimes persuade a relative or friend to join the fold. In the Bellary district, it is believed that the religion is not spreading. The contrary seems to be the case in the Bombay Presidency. The Bijapur Gazetteer states that the wearing of the lingam, and the desertion of Brāhmans for Jangams as priests, are still spreading among the Brāhmanical castes of Bijapur, and adds “In Mr. Cumine’s opinion few castes have remained beyond the influence of the new sect, and between Lingāyatism and Islam, Brāhmanism will in a few centuries be almost extinct.” According to Mr. C. P. Brown, the Jangams [267]insist upon any candidate for admission undergoing a probation of ten or twelve years. The authorities at Ujjini state that there is a recognised scale of probation ranging from three years for the Brāhman to twelve years for the Sūdra, but the Jangams admit that no Brāhmans are ever converted now, and the probation period is probably not enforced. The castes from which outsiders occasionally come are the various sub-divisions of the Kāpu or Reddi caste. It is not uncommon to find all the Neredi Kāpus in one village wearing the lingam, while the people of the same caste in a neighbouring village are not Lingāyats. The Pakanāti Kāpus illustrate the same rule. Lingāyat and non-Lingāyat Kāpus who are relatives eat together, and in some cases intermarry.

Lingāyatism has recently made converts from other castes. In the last century, many weavers of Tuminkatti in the Dharwar district of Bombay were converted by a Jangam from Ujjini, and are now known as Kurvinavāru. They have abandoned all social intercourse with the parent caste.

According to Basava’s teaching, even the lowest castes could join the community, and obtain equality with other Lingayāts. The Abbé Dubois wrote that, “even if a Pariah joins the sect, he is considered in no way inferior to a Brāhman. Wherever the lingam is found, there they say is the throne of the deity, without distinction of class or rank. The Pariah’s humble hut containing the sacred emblem is far above the most magnificent palace where it is not.” These were undoubtedly the views of the founder, but his orders are not followed at the present day. The authorities at Ujjini deny that any Māla or Mādiga can become a Lingāyat, and say that, even if he wears a lingam, it has [268]not been given him by a Jangam. There is a class of Mālas called Chalavādis, whose duty it is to accompany Lingāyat processions, and ring a bell. These Chalavādis wear the lingam. It is, however, the accepted rule amongst Lingāyats of the present day that a Māla or Mādiga cannot wear lingam.

In a note on the relations between Lingāyats and Brāhmans,42 Mr. T. V. Subramanyam refers to the long-standing differences between them in the Bellary district. “The quarrel,” he writes, “has reference to the paraphernalia the former may carry in their religious processions, and has its origin in a legend. The story runs that Vedavyasa, the author of the Mahābharata and a fervent devotee of Vishnu, once went to Benares with the object of establishing the superiority of his favourite deity in that stronghold of Saivism. Within the precincts of the temple, he raised his hands aloft, proclaiming that Vishnu was the supreme God, when, to the consternation of the assembled worshippers, Nandi, the trusted servant and vehicle of Siva, whose sculptured image is found in every temple sacred to his master, rose up in indignation, and cut off the right hand of the blasphemous sage. The principal insignia claimed to be used in Lingāyat processions are makaratoranam, pagaladivitti, svetachhatram, nandidhvajam, and vyasahastam. No objection is raised by the Brāhmans to the use of the first three of these, which are respectively a banner with the representation of a tortoise embroidered thereon, torches carried during the day, and a white umbrella. The nandidhvajam consists of a long pole, at the upper end of which floats a flag with a representation of Nandi, and to which is affixed an image of Basava, the founder of the sect. The [269]vyasahastam is a similar pole, from which a wooden arm is suspended. The assertion of the prowess of Nandi, and the perpetuation of the punishment alleged by the Lingāyats to have been inflicted on Vyasa for daring to declare the supremacy of Vishnu, as symbolised by these emblems, are equally offensive to all classes of Brāhmans, as the sage is reverenced equally by Vaishnavas, Mādhvas, and Smartas. Besides these emblems, the Lingāyats claim that, during their processions, they are entitled to ring a bell, which is usually suspended from the flat end of a large ladle-like object. The Brāhmans object to this, however, as the bells are carried by low-caste persons, who ring them with their feet, to the accompaniment of chants intended to insult the Brāhmans and their religious creeds. They contend also that the hollow of the ladle is designed in mockery of the Brahmakapala (or skull of Brahma), which is very sacred in their eyes.... In the year 1811, a dispute arose regarding the display of the nandidhavajam and the vyasahastam, an enquiry into which was held by the Judge of Bellary, who issued a proclamation for general information throughout the district, prohibiting the procession altogether, and declaring that no person should attempt it, on pain of being put in irons, and sent to take his trial before the Court of Circuit.... When the Sringeri Swāmi, known as Jagadguru or spiritual head of the universe, visited Bellary in 1888, certain Lingāyats petitioned the District Magistrate, praying that, if he was to be allowed to enter the town displaying his usual paraphernalia, their gurus must also be allowed a similar privilege during their processions. The petitioners were directed to meet the agent of the Sringeri Swāmi, and they agreed with him, to quote from the Collector’s order, in a spirit of mutual consideration that [270]the processions of the gurus of the Smarta Brāhmans and of the Lingāyats should be peaceably conducted, and that, in the latter, neither the nandidhvajam nor the vyasahastam should be used. In 1899, it was decided in a Civil Court that the bells used in the processions of the Lingāyats should be rung with the hands and not with the feet, and that the Chalavādis, or bell-ringers, should not utter any cries or chants offensive to the feelings of the Brāhmans. In 1901, the Collector negotiated a compromise between the Lingāyats and the Brāhmans of Rayadrūg, by which the display of all insignia, except the vyasahastam, was permitted to the former. Apparently, the Brāhmans have not been satisfied with the terms of this compromise, as, subsequent to 1901, they have started civil litigation, in which it is contended that the use of nandidhvajam is itself objectionable. At the present moment, therefore, the Brāhman Lingāyat controversy is exactly where it was a hundred years ago.”

Non-Lingāyats, wishing to join the faith, have to undergo a three days’ purification ceremony. On the first day they get their face and head shaved, and take a bath in cow’s urine and ordure. Except these articles, they are under a prohibition to drink or eat anything else that day. On the second day they bathe themselves in dhulodaka, i.e., water with which a Jangam’s feet have been washed, and eat sugar and drink cow’s milk. On the third or last day, they take a panchamrutham bath, i.e., they apply to the head and body a paste made of plantains, cow’s milk, ghī (clarified butter), curds and honey, and wash it off with water; they drink the water (thirtham) in which a Jangam’s feet have been washed; the lingam is tied on by the Jangam, and the convert eats with other Lingāyats. Women also undergo this ceremony, but in their case shaving is omitted. [271]

Disputes are settled by a panchāyat (council) headed by one of the community called Yejamān or Setti, assisted by the Reddi or headman called Banakara. Where there is no Setti, the Reddi takes his place. The Setti is appointed by the community, after the office itself has been created by the Simhasanadhipati of the mutt. The other members of the panchāyat are not permanent, but are selected for the occasion. The panchāyat also tries offences against caste rules, and imposes fine on the culprit. The money, when collected, is given to some mutt or temple. Failure to pay is punished by excommunication. Any one may be appointed Setti, but the post is hereditary. It is an honorary post carrying no remuneration, and the enquiries of the panchāyat entail no expense, except in the cost of supplying pānsupāri (betel leaves and areca nuts). The panchāyat is not limited in numbers, all the leading members of the community being invited to attend. Appeals from the decisions of the panchāyat lie to the mutt to which the village is subordinate. In Bellary appeals go to Ujjini. The orders of the mutt are final. The Ujjini authorities say that the only punishment that can be inflicted is to interdict the offender from all social intercourse. He is practically “put into Coventry”; but is released on payment of a fine to the guru, so the punishment is in fact a fine. The appointment of a new Setti is a solemn function, resembling the instalment of a church dignitary. The priests and Settis of neighbouring villages assemble, and instal the new man. The following is the order of precedence amongst them:—

  • (1) Matadaya.
  • (2) Matapati.
  • (3) Ganachari.
  • (4) Sthavaria or Gunari.
  • (5) Setti.
  • (6) Patna Setti.
  • (7) Kori Setti.
  • (8) Wali Setti.


A ceremony called Dīksha is said by some to be compulsory with Jangams, male and female, in their eighth year, and the same is also said to be required for lay Lingāyats. The ceremony is performed in order to impart to the recipient the sacred mantram called Panchakshari. This is whispered in the ear by the guru. The rite is evidently in imitation of the Brāhman practice of imparting the Gayatri mantram at the time of the Upanayanam or thread-tying ceremony. The term Dīksha is sometimes used to express the conversion ceremony used in the case of a new-comer. It is an essential of the faith that the sacred spell should be whispered in the ear by the guru, and this explains the three word motto or “guru, linga and Jangam.” But, in the case of lay Lingāyats and of women, it does not appear that Dīksha is universal, and the sacred spell is whispered in the ear when the lingam is tied.

Pollution periods are not observed. The indifference displayed by Lingāyats to the purification ceremonies prescribed by Hindu custom is noticed by the Abbé Dubois, who quotes the Hindu proverb which says “There is no river for a Lingāyat.”

A simple ceremony is performed when a girl comes to maturity. This lasts only one day. The girl takes an oil bath, and puts on clean clothes and ornaments. Married women come and place in her lap two cocoanuts, two dates, five limes, five areca nuts, five betel leaves, and some rice. They sing some bright song, and then pass round her head three times the wave offering (ārati) of a light. They then depart, after being presented with food and betel. This ceremony is evidently copied from other castes, and with well-to-do Lingāyats is sometimes prolonged for several days. Holy water (thirtham) is sprinkled over the head of the girl. No ceremonies are [273]observed at subsequent menstrual periods, as no pollution is attached to them.

No special diet or customs are observed during pregnancy by husband or wife. The woman in her confinement is attended by her female relatives and the village midwife. At the birth of a child, all the female members of the family, and other women who attend the confinement, bathe and give a bath to the mother and child. On the second and third day, from five to ten women are invited. They bring boiled water and turmeric paste to apply to the body of the mother. On the third day a ceremony called Vīralu is performed. Vīralu means the worship of the afterbirth. The midwife buries it at the outer door, throws over the grave a piece of thread, dipped in turmeric water, and some rice, turmeric powder, kunkuma (red powder) and nīm (Melia Azadirachta) leaves. She offers to it kitchade, a mess made of broken chōlam (millet: Sorghum) and a dish of greens, and breaks a cocoanut. The mother, who wears on the right wrist a piece of thread with a piece of sweet flag (Acorus Calamus) tied to it, worships the grave with joined hands. The women who have brought boiled water also wear similar threads on the right wrists, and eat the chōlam and the greens. The midwife takes away the offering made to the grave, and gets also her money perquisites. The Vīralu ceremony is observed in the belief that the mother’s breasts will thereby be fruitful of milk. The mother for the first time, on the day after the ceremony is over, suckles the child. Both of them receive dhulodaka (water from a Jangam’s feet). The child also receives from the Jangam the lingam, which is to be his personal property for life and for eternity.

The name is given to a child on the sixteenth day after birth. Five married women go to a well or river, [274]where they worship Gangamma, and return with a new pot filled with water. The mother receives it at the entrance, and places it on some chōlam under the cradle. After this, the child is put into the cradle, and is given a name. The child’s maternal uncle or aunt gives the name, and at once all the women present assault the namer with their fists. After this the Jangam and guests are fed, and guggeri (fried grain) is distributed.

Marriage is both infant and adult. There is no difference in this respect between Jangams and other Lingāyats. Sexual license before marriage is neither recognised nor tolerated. Open prostitution is not permitted. On the other hand, it is condemned as a moral sin and a social offence, and the party is punished by excommunication. There are Basavis (dedicated prostitutes) amongst Lingāyats. Polygamy is permitted. Polyandry is strictly prohibited. Among the Lingāyats, marriage between brothers’ children is strictly prohibited. Similarly, sisters’ children cannot marry. Marriage between some classes of second cousins is also prohibited, i.e., a man’s children may not marry the children of his paternal uncle or of his maternal aunt. A man may marry his sister’s daughter, but, in the case of children of the younger sister, such marriages are looked on with disfavour. The parties to a marriage have no freedom of choice. It is arranged for them by their parents or by the elders of their family, who come to an agreement as to the amount of teravu that should be paid to the bride’s family. This marriage price usually amounts to 12 pagodas or 42 rupees, but is often more. In the case of a second marriage, the amount is double. The presents to the bridegroom generally consist of a pair of cloths, a turban, and a [275]gold ring. These gifts are not compulsory, and their amount and value depend upon the circumstances of the bride’s family.

For a betrothal, the bridegroom’s family come to the bride’s house on an auspicious day in company with a Jangam. They bring a sirē (woman’s cloth), a kuppasa (jacket), two cocoanuts, five pieces of turmeric, five limes, betel leaf and areca nut. They also bring flowers for the susaka (a cap of flowers made for the bride), gold and silver ornaments, and sugar and areca nut for distribution to guests. The bride puts on the new cloths with the ornaments and flowers, and sits on a folded kumbli (blanket), on which fantastic devices have been made with rice. Some married women fill her lap with cocoanuts and other things brought by the bridegroom’s party. Music is played, and the women sing. Five of them pick up the rice on the kumbli, and gently drop it on to the bride’s knees, shoulders and head. They do this three times with both hands. Sugar and betel are then distributed, and one of the bride’s family proclaims the fact that the bride has been given to the bridegroom. One of the bridegroom’s family then states that the bride is accepted. That night the bride’s family feed the visitors on sweet things; dishes made of hot or pungent things are strictly prohibited.

The marriage ceremony, which often takes place some years later, occupies from one to four days according to circumstances. In the case of a four-day marriage, the first day is spent in worshipping ancestors. On a second day, rice and oil are sent to the local mutt, and oil alone to the relatives. New pots are brought with much shouting, and deposited in the god’s room. A pandal (booth) is erected, and the bridegroom sits [276]under it side by side with a married female relative, and goes through a performance which is called Surige. An enclosure is made round them with cotton thread passed ten times round four earthen pitchers placed at the four corners. Five married women come with boiled water, and wash off the oil and turmeric, with which the bride and the bridegroom and his companion have been anointed. The matrons then clothe them with the new cloths offered to the ancestors on the first day. After some ceremonial, the thread forming the enclosure is removed, and given to a Jangam. The Surige being now over, the bridegroom and his relatives are taken back to the god’s room. The bride and her relatives are now taken to the pandal, and another Surige is gone through. When this is over, the bride is taken to her room, and is decorated with flowers. At the same time, the bridegroom is decorated in the god’s room, and, mounting on a bullock, goes to the village temple, where he offers a cocoanut. A chaplet of flowers called bāshingam is tied to his forehead, and he returns to the house. In the god’s room a panchakalasam, consisting of five metal vases with betel and vibhūti (sacred ashes) has been arranged, one vase being placed at each corner of a square, and one on the middle. By each kalasam is a cocoanut, a date fruit, a betel leaf and areca nut, and one pice (a copper coin) tied in a handkerchief. A cotton thread is passed round the square, and round the centre kalasam another thread, one end of which is held by the family guru, and the other by the bridegroom who sits opposite to him. The guru wears a ring made of kusa grass on the big toe of his right foot. The bride sits on the left hand side of the bridegroom, and the guru ties their right and left hands respectively with kusa grass. Hastapūja then [277]follows. The joined hands of the bride and bridegroom are washed, and bilva (Ægle Marmelos) leaves and flowers are offered. The officiating priest then consecrates the tāli and the kankanam (wrist-thread), ties the latter on the wrists of the joined hands, and gives the tāli to the bridegroom, who ties it round the bride’s neck, repeating some words after the priest. The tying of the tāli is the binding portion of the ceremony. Before the tāli is given to the bridegroom, it is passed round the assembly to be touched by all and blessed. As soon as the bridegroom ties it on the bride, all those present throw over the pair a shower of rice. The bridegroom places some cummin seed and jaggery (crude sugar) on the bride’s head, and the bride does the same to the bridegroom. Small quantities of these articles are tied in a corner of the cloth of each, and the cloths are then knotted together. The bride worships the bridegroom’s feet, and he throws rice on her head. The newly married couple offer fruits to five Jangams, and present them with five pice. The relatives worship the bride and bridegroom, wash their feet and offer presents, and the proceedings of the day terminate. On the third day, friends and relatives are fed, and on the fourth day bride and bridegroom ride in procession through the village, on the same bullock, the bride in front. On return to the house they throw scented powder (bukkittu) at each other, and the guests join in the fun. Then follows the wedding breakfast, to which only the near relatives are admitted. The married couple worship Jangams and the elders, and take off the kankanam or consecration thread from their wrists, and tie it at the doorway. The five matrons who have assisted are given presents and dismissed, and the marriage is now complete. In a one-day marriage, the above ceremonies are [278]crowded into the short time allotted. The remarriage of widows was one of the points on which Basava insisted, and was probably one of the biggest bones of contention with the Brāhmans. Widow remarriage is allowed at the present day, but the authorities at Ujjini see fit to disregard it. They say that amongst Jangams it is prohibited, and that amongst the other classes of Lingāyats it is growth of custom.

The practice of widow remarriage is widely followed even among Jangams, but amongst the stricter classes, who are probably under the influence of their Brāhman friends, it is discountenanced. The parties to such a marriage are not allowed to take part in the marriage ceremonies of others. A great deal can, however, be done when money is forthcoming, and in one case a girl has recently been remarried according to the form in use for original marriages. Every Jangam probably has his price.

A widow cannot marry her deceased husband’s brother or cousin. The marriage goes by the name of Udiki, and corresponds to some extent to the Gandarva form of the Hindus. The ceremony is a very simple one; there is no music and no guests are invited. The parties go to the temple in company with the Matapati or headman, and the bangle seller. The latter puts glass bangles on the bride’s wrists, and the Matapati ties the tāli. This last act ratifies the marriage contract, and makes it indissoluble. In some cases the ceremony takes place at night, as though the parties wished the darkness to cover them, but this practice does not seem to be universal. A widower generally takes a widow as his second bride; a bachelor will not as a rule marry a widow. In connection with a case concerning the Lingāyat ‘Goundans’ of the Wynād, it is noted, in the [279]Indian Law Reports,43 that “there is an immemorial custom by which Lingāit widows are remarried. Such marriage is styled, not kaliānam, but odaveli or kudaveli. It is not accompanied with the same ceremonies as a kaliānam marriage, but a feast is given, the bride and bridegroom sit on a mat in the presence of the guests and chew betel, their cloths are tied together, and the marriage is consummated the same night. Widows married in this form are freely admitted into society. They cease to belong to the family of their first husband, and the children of the second family inherit the property of their own father.” Divorce is permitted on proof of misconduct. The husband can exercise his right to divorce his wife by proving before a panchayet the alleged misconduct. The wife can only claim to divorce her husband when he has been outcasted. Wives who have been divorced cannot remarry. The above answers are given on the authority of the Ujjini mutt. There appears to be considerable divergence of opinion in other quarters. By some it is positively asserted that divorce is not permitted under any circumstances; that the husband and wife may separate on the ground of incompatibility of temper or for misconduct; and that in these circumstances the husband is at liberty to marry again, while the wife is not. Others say that divorce is permitted, and that both parties are at liberty to remarry. In connection with the Lingāyats of South Canara, it is recorded, in the Indian Law Reports,44 that “second marriage of a wife forsaken by the first husband is allowed. Such marriage is known as sērai ūdiki (giving a cloth); as distinguished from lagna or dhara, the first marriage.” [280]

All castes included in Lingāyat community follow the Hindu law of inheritance, and succession is governed by the same.

As a rule Lingāyats worship Basavēswara and Vīrabhadra, the former being the founder of their sect, and the latter a son of Siva. They worship also the other sons of Siva, Shanmukha and Vināyaka, and Parvati, wife of Siva. The other deities of the Hindu pantheon are not reverenced. Some later saints are sometimes regarded with reverence, but there does not appear to be any great uniformity in this matter, and the Ujjini authorities declare that no god except Siva is worshipped. This is clearly the correct view of the religion, and it is evident that the worship of minor deities was not countenanced by the founder.

It is a peculiarity amongst the Lingāyats that they esteem the Jangam or priest as superior even to the deity. They pay homage to the Jangam first, and to Siva afterwards. The Jangam is regarded as an incarnation of the deity. They allow him to bathe his lingam in water with which his feet have been washed, and which for this reason is regarded as holy water. With the same water they bathe their own lingams, and drink the remainder. The motto of the creed quoted by Mr. C. P. Brown is “Guru, linga, Jangam.” These three words express the Lingāyat faith, but in practice the Jangam is placed first, and, as stated above, is worshipped as god upon earth. This practice of bathing the lingams in holy water is universal, and precedes each meal. The Jangam blesses the food in the name of Basava, and eats before the others can begin.

Monday in every week is the Lingāyat Sunday, and is sacred to Siva. This day is observed everywhere, and no Lingāyat will cultivate his field, or otherwise [281]work his cattle on a Monday. This fact was noted by the Abbé Dubois. The following account of the various festivals recognised by Lingāyats was furnished by the Dewān of the Sandūr State, but, as he himself admits, very few people really observe the rules:—

The month Chaitra.—First day of the bright fortnight being Ugādi or new year’s day, all take an oil bath and feast, the first dish to be eaten being a porridge made of margosa (Melia Azadirachta) flowers, sugar candy or jaggery, dried grapes, almonds, Bengal gram flour, poppy seeds, and cocoanut kernel. Those who can afford it put on new clothing. The eating of margosa flowers on Ugādi is not, however, peculiar to the Lingāyat. On the full-moon day, called Davanadahunname (from davana, a scented plant), they enjoy dainty dishes in honour of Hampe Pompapathiswāmi’s car festival.

The month Vaisākha.—On the full-moon day called Hagihunname (from hage, a young plant) cultivators make nursery beds, and enjoy a good repast.

The month Jyesta.—The full-moon day called Karuhunname (from kare, a festoon). Bullocks are washed, painted, and taken out in procession, when a festoon made of leaves, etc., and tied high across the main street, is broken. On the new-moon day called Mannueththina-amavasya, they make bulls with earth, worship them, and eat a good meal.

The month Ashādha.—On the full-moon day called Kadlakadavena hunname, they make a mixture of chōlam or other flour with a single grain of unbroken Bengal gram inside, boil it and eat. Women strike one another with these cakes, which are either round or oblong, and are tough. Before being eaten, they are cut into pieces with a knife. [282]

The month Sravana.—The fifth day of the bright fortnight, called Nāgarapanchame. The image of a serpent, made of mud taken from a snake’s hole, is worshipped with offerings of milk, soaked Bengal gram, rice, balls made of jaggery and fried gingelly (Sesamum) called chigali, balls made of rice flour and jaggery called tanittoo, cocoanuts, plantains and flowers. On each Monday of this month, all the gods are worshipped with offerings of dainty dishes, and Jangams are fed. This is the most important month in the year. Those who can afford it have the Basava or other Puranāms read and explained.

The month Bhadrapada.—The fourth day of the bright fortnight. The image of Ganēsha, made of earth and painted, is worshipped with an offering consisting of 21 harnakadubu, 21 chigali, 21 tanittoo, a cocoanut, flowers and incense. It is taken out in procession on the 3rd, 5th or 9th day, and deposited in a well or stream after the necessary worship. The new-moon day called Malada-amavasya (from Mahalaya, a period comprising 15 days from full- to new-moon), during which offerings are made to the manes of departed ancestors.

The month Aswija.—The first day of the bright fortnight. Male children bathe, put on holiday clothes, and go to the village school. They do so till the 10th or Dasami day. With them their master makes house-to-house visits for annual presents. They sing and play with the kolatam, a pair of painted round sticks about one foot in length with a diameter of 1¼ inches. On the Dasami day, books, accounts, scales and weights, measures and weapons are worshipped with jambi (Prosopis spicigera), rich food, flowers and incense. All, including Jangams, enjoy a good meal. In the evening they visit temples, and offer cocoanuts to the idols. [283]They pay reverence to elders by giving them jambi, and falling at their feet. On the same day, girls collect earth from ant-hills, and place it in a heap in the village temple. Every evening they go to the said temple with āratis (wave offerings), singing on the way, and worship the heap. They continue this till the full-moon day called Seegahunname. On the following day, i.e., on the first day of the dark fortnight, they worship in the same temple an image of Siva and his consort Parvati seated on the sacred bull made of earth and painted. They worship with offerings of cakes and other dainties, and cocoanuts, flowers and incense, and give ārati. The Matapati who has installed the idol takes these offerings, and gives each girl two idols of Kontamma, made out of the heaped earth previously worshipped by them. They take them home in their ārati platters. Within the next three days, they go from house to house playing on kolu or kolatam and singing, and receive money presents. These earnings they spend on the worship of Kontamma by making sajja and gingelly cakes called konte roti, and offering them. This worship is performed on the top of the roof of a house. The girls eat up the cakes, and take Kontamma in procession to a stream or well, and gently let her into the water, singing songs all the while.

On the new-moon day, a religious observance called nope or nomulu in honour of Gauri (another name of Parvati) is kept up. The observance consists in offering to the goddess 21 karjikayi, 21 whole areca nuts, 21 betel nuts, 21 bits of turmeric, 21 chendu flowers, 21 tumbe huvvu, a silk string with 21 threads and 21 knots, a cocoanut kernel, a date fruit, kunkuma, a cocoanut, bukkittu and incense, in a winnowing fan specially made with 21 fastenings. The fan is passed round the goddess 21 times. A face worked in silver, a new earthen [284]pitcher or a metal pot with a twig of the banian tree in it, well decorated, represents the goddess. The silk string is allowed to remain before her that night. Next morning, offerings of food, etc., are made to her, and the pūjāri (priest) ties a silk string on the left arm if a female, or the right arm if a male. That day being the Balipadyam day, men, women and children take an oil bath very early in the morning, eat something, and put on new clothing. Just before daybreak, women make two sets of cow-dung Panchapāndavas, and keep one set on either side of the outer threshold, and, sprinkling on them milk, butter and ghī, worship them. At the usual breakfast time, all the members of the family enjoy a hearty meal with the newly married son-in-law, to whom they make presents of cloths and gold according to circumstances. All that day children let off crackers.

The month Kartika.—On the fourteenth day of the bright fortnight, girls bring ant-hill earth, and, depositing it in a temple, follow the procedure observed from the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Aswija up to the day on which the Kontamma was left in a stream or well. They go through the various details in three days.

The month Pushya.—The Sankranti (the day on which the sun’s progress to the north of the equator begins) festival is observed. On the Bhogi day, i.e., the day previous to Sankranti, cakes made of sajja and gingelly, dishes made of pumpkin, brinjals, sweet potatoes, red radish, raw chillies and chitrāna (coloured rice) are eaten. On the Sankranti day, more rich food, including holigas (cakes made of jaggery, dhāl and wheat), is eaten in company with Jangams, who are dismissed with money presents and betel and nut.

The month Magha.—The full-moon day called Baratahunname. This is a feasting day on which no [285]ceremony is performed, but the people enjoy themselves by eating good things. The fourteenth day of the dark fortnight is the Sivarathri day, i.e., the day sacred to Siva. This should be a fasting and sleepless day, the fast being broken early next morning, but very few observe these rules strictly.

The month Phalguna.—The full-moon day is the day on which the Holi festival takes place. It is not marked by any religious observance beyond eating good things. The same is the case with the new-moon day.

Brāhmans are not employed as a general rule. The Jangam is the priest of the Lingāyat, and is called in for all ceremonies. Brāhmans are sometimes consulted in fixing auspicious days, and in some cases are even allowed to officiate at marriages. This is the rule in Sandūr, and shows the tendency of modern times. The Ujjini mutt is, however, still bigoted in its rejection of all Brāhman interference, though, with strange inconsistency, the elders of the community themselves claim to be Brāhmans. Jangams are now studying Vēdic Shāstras, and may often be heard repeating Vēdic hymns.

The dead are buried in a sitting posture facing towards the north, but an exception is made in the case of unmarried people, who are buried in a reclining position. Before the patient dies, the ceremony called Vibhūtidhārane or Vibhūti achchōdu is performed. He is given a bath, and is made to drink holy water in which the Jangam’s feet have been washed. He is made to give the Jangam a handkerchief with vibhūti (ashes), rudrāksha, dakshina (coin) and tāmbūla (betel leaf). This is followed by a meal, of which all the Jangams present, and the relatives and friends of the patient partake. It appears to be immaterial whether the patient is still alive or not. It is stated that, if the invalid [286]survives this ceremony, he must take to the jungles and disappear, but in practice this is not observed. The death party resembles in some respects an Irish ‘wake,’ though the latter does not commence until the deceased is well on his way to the next world. After death, the corpse is placed in a sitting posture, and the Jangam, who has received the offering before death, places his left foot on the right thigh of the body. The people present worship the corpse, and the usual distribution of coins and betel to Jangams follows. The body is then carried in a vimānam or bamboo chair to the burial-ground. The grave should be a cube of nine feet dimensions, with a niche on one side, in which the corpse is to sit. The lingam is untied, and placed in the left hand; bilva leaves (Ægle Marmelos) and vibhūti are placed at the side; the body is wrapped in an orange coloured cloth; and the grave is filled in. A Jangam stands on the grave, and, after receiving the usual douceur, shouts out the name of the deceased and says that he has gone to Kailāsa or heaven.

Memorial ceremonies are contrary to Lingāyat tenets, but in this, as in other matters, the influence of the Brāhmans appears, and amongst some sections an annual ceremony is performed. The performance of Srādh, or the memorial ceremonial common to other Hindus, is unknown. The Abbé Dubois tells us that a Lingāyat is no sooner buried than he is forgotten. He says, “The point in the creed of the Saivaites which appears to me to be most remarkable is their entire rejection of that fundamental principle of the Hindu religion ‘marujanma’ or metempsychosis. From this it would follow that they do not believe in ghosts. But there is a generally accepted idea that evil spirits sometimes take possession of females. This may be a rude way of expressing [287]the fact that the gentle sex is uncertain, coy and hard to please.”

Though Srādh is unknown, once in a year on the new-moon day of the month Bhādrapada or in Aswija, they offer clothes and food to ancestors in general, childless ancestors, and men who have died a violent death.

The special object of worship is a bull, the animal sacred to Siva. A bull is supposed to be used by Siva for riding. It is also painted on Siva’s flag.

Tattooing is confined to females. Children are tattooed in their fifth year. A round mark, the size of a pea, is pricked between the eyebrows, on the right cheek, and on the chin. Other marks are made on the forehead. These marks are also made on the forearms and hands. The pigment is of a green colour, but the recipe is not known. The skin is pricked with bābūl (Acacia arabica) thorns.

Females wear a sādi about 8 yards long and 1¼ yards broad. It is invariably a coloured one, with silk or cotton borders at the edges and across at both the ends. One of the cross borders is much broader than the other, and is showy. The sādi is of different patterns. It is tied below the waist with folds in front, the end with the cross border passing round the trunk from left to right, and covering the head. They wear also a kuppasa, which covers half the body from the neck, and is fastened in the front by a knot.

In some families infants are branded with a hot needle on the stomach, under the idea that disease is thereby warded off. Children who suffer from fits are branded with a twig of margosa or with a glass bangle.

As Lingāyats were originally recruited from all castes, the community must have included persons of [288]nearly every trade. At the present day the majority may be grouped under priests, traders and agriculturists.

It is the idea of some Lingāyats that Jangams are forbidden to trade, and strictly speaking this objection is valid. But it is even admitted at Ujjini that there is no such objection in practice. Many wealthy traders may be found amongst the above class, and in the town of Kampli there is a Lingāyat guru who is held in great esteem, and yet is the owner of two shops, the business of which he personally conducts. It is even whispered that the head of the Ujjini Mutt is not averse to increasing his income by a little discreet usury. The majority of Lingāyats in Bellary are tenant-farmers, or self-cultivating pattadārs. It is said to be uncommon to find a Lingāyat daily labourer in the Bombay Presidency—they are mostly landholders and cultivators or petty traders. They are prohibited from doing such work as is required of a butcher, a toddy drawer or seller, sweeper or scavenger. Anything connected with the use of leather is an object of special abhorrence to a Lingāyat. Even the use of a leather bucket for irrigation purposes is by some of the stricter members considered degrading. It is even supposed to be wrong to touch one’s shoe or sandals in the presence of others, and beating with a shoe is a special insult. This last objection is probably common to all castes.

There are few artisans, but a special sub-section called the Hirekurnis are weavers. Oil-sellers are styled Gānigas and Sajjanagānigas. Flower-sellers are called Jīru; those engaged in making dairy produce, Gaulis ; those who do tailoring, Chippigas. Members of the above trades under the above names are not exclusively Lingāyats. [289]

Ploughing is never commenced in Pushya, as it is considered an inauspicious month, but what was begun in the previous Margasira could be continued through it. Those who did not begin in Margasira do so in Magha, the month succeeding Pushya. Tuesdays and Fridays are auspicious days for the commencement of this operation. They are also the appropriate days for sowing. There is no restriction as to month, that being entirely dependent on the season. Before ploughing commences, the team of bullocks is worshipped. The horns of the animals are washed with water, and covered with sacred ashes. A cocoanut is broken on the yoke. Before sowing, pūja (worship) is offered to the drill-plough. The hollow bamboos, through which the seed drops, is daubed with chunam (lime), and the other parts with red earth. Bunches of leaves of the sacred pīpal, and bits of turmeric are stuck in three or four places. To the drill, a string, containing marking-nut, sweet flag, and pieces of palmyra leaf, is tied. Kunkuma is applied, and to the whole apparatus food specially prepared is offered. This takes place at home. The drill-plough is then carried to the field, where, after the bullocks have been attached, a cocoanut is broken on the cross beam. Reaping commences with the sprinkling of milk and ghī on the crop. At the threshing floor, a ceremony called Saraga is gone through. A conical-shaped image made of cow-dung is set at the foot of the grain heap. On its top are placed the tail hair of bullocks, a single chōlam ear-head, a flower of the avari (bean) creeper, and tummi flower (Leucas aspera). Before it are spread the mess of chōlam and other food brought from home, and a cocoanut is broken. Some of the mess is dissolved in buttermilk, and thrown round the threshing floor. The man who throws it lays [290]the pot which contained it before the image, and salutes the heap with joined hands. The residue of the chōlam mess and other food is eaten by a Jangam, the cultivator, the guests, servants and coolies. The grain in the heap is next winnowed and made into a heap. It is measured just before sunset, neither sooner nor later, after breaking the cocoanut which was secreted in the original heap. The measurers sit with their faces towards the north. While the measurement is proceeding, no one in the threshing floor may speak; nor is any one allowed to enter it at the time. The belief is that, if either of these happens, the grain in the heap will diminish. This mysterious disappearance is called wulusu.

Rain in Rohini Karte (one of the twenty-seven asterisms in which rain falls) is good for sowing, and that in Mrugasira and Ardra appropriate. These three asterisms are suited for sowing chōlam. Showers in Punarvasu, Pushya, and Aslesha are suitable for sowing korra, saju and savi. Rain in Pubba and Wuttara is favourable to cotton, korra and horse gram, and that in Hasta and Chitta to wheat, chōlam, Bengal gram and kusumulu (oil-seed). Flashes of lightning occurring at the exit of Ardra, augur good showers. The saying is that, if it flashes in Ardra, six showers will fall. In Magha, weeding, either by the hand or by bullocks, should not be done. Wind should not blow in Wuttara. If it does, the grain in the ear-heads will be hollow. There should be no lightning flashes in Swati. If there are, a pest called benkihula will appear, and grain will not be formed in each socket. Rain in Visakha destroys worms, and is good for pulses. Rain in Anūrādha spoils them. A scare-crow in the shape of a human being is set up in fields where there are crops, to scare birds and [291]animals. It is made much in the same way as elsewhere, with crossed sticks and a painted chatty (pot). The sticks are covered with rags of cotton or a kambli (blanket). A cocoanut is broken before digging for a well commences.

The Lingāyats are strict vegetarians, and abstain from all forms of liquor. The staple foods in Bellary are chōlam, cumbu, rāgi and korra. Lingāyats will not eat, drink or smoke with any one of another religion. This is the strict rule, but, as already stated, Kāpu Lingāyats will sometimes eat with a non-Lingāyat relative or friend. (See also Jangam.)

Liyāri.See Kēvuto.

Lohana.—Immigrant traders from the Bombay Presidency. “They state that they take their name from the port of Loha in Sindh, but Burton says that they came from Lohānpur near Multān, and that they were driven south by the Muhammadans. They reverence the Daria Pīr, or the Indus spirit.”45

Lohāra.—The Lohāras, Luhāras, or Luhāros, are an Oriya caste of iron-workers, whose name is derived from loha, iron. Luhāra also occurs as an occupational name of a sub-division of Savaras.

Loliya.—A synonym for Jalāri.

Lombo-lanjiā (long tail).—A sub-division of Savaras, which is so called because its members leave, at the buttocks, one end of the long piece of cloth, which they wear round the waist.

Loriya.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small class of hill cultivators in the Vizagapatam district. They are said to be a sub-division of Gaudo.

1 Historical Sketches of the South of India, Mysore, 1810–17.

2 Mem. Asiat. Soc., Bengal, Miscellanea Ethnographica, I, 1906.

3 Journ. and Proc. Asiatic Society of Bengal, I, No. 9, 1905.

4 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

5 Manual of the North Arcot district.

6 Mysore Census Report, 1891, 1901.

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

8 Hindu Feasts, Fasts and Ceremonies, 1903.

9 Manual of the North Arcot district.

10 Linguistic Survey of India, IX, 1907.

11 From Kashmir to the Madras Presidency.

12 Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

13 Mysore Census Report, 1891.

14 Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879.

15 Gazetteer of the Bellary district.

16 Narrative of the Operations of Little’s Detachment against Tippoo Sultan, 1794.

17 Shells of Cypræa moneta.

18 S. M. Natesa Sastri, Calcutta Review, 1905.

19 Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, 1844.

20 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies.

21 Historical Sketches of the South of India: Mysore.

22 Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

23 Report on Public Instruction, Mysore, 1901–02; and Mysore Census Report, 1891.

24 Manual of the Cuddapah district.

25 Jeypur, Breklum, 1901.

26 Manual of the North Arcot district.

27 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

28 Gazetteer of the Anantapur district.

29 Ind. Ant., VIII., 1879.

30 Ind. Ant., XXX., 1901.

31 Narrative of Little’s Detachment, 1784.

32 Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

33 Madras Census Report, 1891.

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

35 Manual of the North Arcot district.

36 Manual of Mysore and Coorg.

37 Lilly, Renaissance Types.

38 J. F. Fleet, Epigraphia Indica. V, 1898–99.

39 The Proceedings, partly in Canarese and partly in English, were published at the Star Press, Mysore, in 1905.

40 Madras Journal of Literature and Science, XI, 1840.

41 R. Sewell. A Forgotten Empire, Vijayanagar, 1900.

42 Indian Review, May, 1907.

43 Madras Series, VII, 1884.

44 Madras Series, VIII, 1885.

45 Bombay Gazetteer.



Machi.—Recorded as a synonym of Myāsa Bēdar.

Madaka (plough).—An exogamous sept of Togata.

Mādāri (pride or arrogance).—A Tamil name for Chakkiliyan.

Maddi.—Maddi or Madderu, indicating those who use the root of the Indian mulberry (maddi: Morinda citrifolia) as a dye, has been recorded as a sub-division of Besthas and Kabbēras.

Maddila (drum).—Maddila or Maddili has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Kāpu and Māla.

Madhavē (marriage).—An exogamous sept of Badagas of the Nīlgiri hills.

Madhurāpuria.—A name frequently given by members of the Bhatta sub-division of Gaudo.

Madhya.—Madhya or Madhaya is a sub-division of Bottada and Sondi.

Mādiga.—The Mādigas are the great leather-working caste of the Telugu country, and correspond to the Chakkiliyans of the Tamil area. They were first studied by me at Hospet in the Bellary district, and at once formed a strong opposition party, in the belief that I was going to select and carry off the strong men, lest they should become kings, and upset the British Rāj. So frightened were they, that they went in a body to live in the Muhammadan quarter of the town.

At the Hospet weekly market I witnessed a mendicant youth lying naked in a thorny bed of bābūl (Acacia arabica) stems. A loathsome spectacle was afforded by a shrivelled old woman with mouth distended by a mass of mud the size of a cricket-ball, both eyes bunged up with mud, and beating her bare breasts with her hands. The market was infested by religious mendicants, some from Benares and Rāmēsvaram, others from across the Hyderabad frontier, who cadged persistently for tobacco [293]leaves, an onion or brinjal (Solanum Melongena), a few chillies, a handful of grain, or a pinch of salt, and helped to deplete the slender stock of the market-sellers. One holy man from Sholapūr was profusely decorated with beads, ashes, brass snakes, and deities. Holding out for four pies worth of betel leaves, while the stall-keeper only offered one pie worth, he, after making a circle in the ground with his staff round his sandals thickly studded with blunt nails, stood thereon, and abused the vendor in language which was not nice. A Native Magistrate thereon summoned a constable, who, hastily donning his official belt, took the holy man in custody for an offence under the Act.

A conspicuous feature of Hospet are the block-wheel carts with wooden wheels, solid or made of several pieces, with no spokes. Dragged by sturdy buffaloes, they are excellent for carrying timber or other loads on rough roads or hill-tracks, where ordinary carts cannot travel. During the breezy and showery season of the south-west monsoon, kite-flying is the joy of the Hospet youths, the kites being decorated with devices of scorpions and Hindu gods, among which a representation of Hanumān, one of the genii loci, soared highest every evening.

It is fairly easy to distinguish a Mādiga from a Bēdar, but difficult to put the distinction in words. The Mādigas have more prominent cheek-bones, a more vinous eye, and are more unkempt. The Bēdar, it is said, gets drunk on arrack (alcohol obtained by distillation), whereas the Mādiga contents himself with the cheaper toddy (fermented palm juice). The Bēdars resort freely to the Mādiga quarters (Mādiga kēri), situated on the outskirts of the town, and fenced in by milk-hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli) bushes. My Brāhman assistant, hunting in the Mādiga quarters for subjects for [294]measurement, unfortunately asked some Bēdars if they were Mādigas. To which, resenting the mistake, one of them replied “We call you the Mādiga,” and the Brāhman stood crushed.

The Hospet Mādigas had their hair cropped short, moustache, and trimmed beard. They wore the customary threads or charm cylinders to ward off devils, and steel tweezers for removing the thorns of the bābūl, which is largely used as a fence for the fields of chōlam and sugar. One man had suspended round his neck, as a hereditary talisman, a big silver Venkatarāmana bottu with the nāmam in the centre on an altar, and the chank and chakram stamped on it.

As bearing on the social status of the Mālas and Mādigas, which is a subject of dispute between the two classes, it may be noted that all the billets in cotton factories which require any skill, such as engine-drivers, valve-men, moulders, turners, etc., are held by Mālas. The Mādigas are generally only three-anna wage men, and do such work as turning a winch, moving bales, and other trivial jobs. At a factory, whereat I stayed, at Adōni, there were three wells, viz.:—for Mālas, for Mādigas, and for the rest of the workers, except Brāhmans. And the well-water for the Mālas was better than that for the Mādigas. A Mādiga chindu, or sword-dance, was prohibited in 1859 and 1874. But a petition, referring to its obscene nature, and its being the cause of frequent collision between the Mālas and Mādigas, was submitted to the Collector of Kurnool in 1887, by a missionary. The dance was performed at festivals, held annually or triennially, in honour of the village goddess, and during the time of threshing corn, building a new house, or the opening of a newly-dug well. The dance, accompanied by a song containing [295]grossly indecent reflections against the Mālas, was also performed, under the excitement of strong drinks, in the presence of the goddess, on the occasion of marriages. One verse ran as follows: “I shall cut with my saw the Mālas of the four houses at Nandyāl, and, having caused them to be cut up, shall remove their skins, and fix them to drums.”

“The right hand party,” it is stated,1 “resent the use by the left of palanquins at their marriages, and so the Mālas are very jealous of the Chucklers (Mādigas) carrying the bride and bridegroom through the streets, using tinkling ornaments, etc. Riots sometimes occur when a strong feeling of opposition is raised, to resent what they consider innovations.”

” The Mādigas,” Mr. N. G. Chetty writes,2 “belong to the left-hand caste, and often quarrel with the Mālas (right-hand). In 1871 a Mādiga, having contrived to obtain a red cloth as a reward from the Police Superintendent, wore it on his head, and went in procession on horseback by the main bazaar street. This resulted in a disturbance, in which a European Inspector was severely hurt by a Māla, who had mistaken him for the Superintendent. The two factions fixed, by mutual understanding, the streets by which each was to proceed, and no quarrels have since occurred.” During the celebration of village festivals, an unmarried Mādiga woman, called for the occasion Mātangi (a favourite deity), abuses and spits upon the people assembled, and they do not take this as an insult, because they think that her spittle removes the pollution. The woman is, indeed, regarded as the incarnation of the goddess herself. Similarly, the Mālas use very obscene language, [296]when the god is taken in procession to the streets of the caste people.3 Concerning the Mātangi I gather4 that she is an “unmarried woman of the Mādiga class, chosen after a most trying ordeal, unless she happens to be descended from a previous Mātangi, to represent the goddess. She must vindicate her fitness by suitable prophetic utterances, and her nomination is not confirmed till she has obtained divine approval at the temple of a certain village near Kumbam in Kurnool. When she has been finally confirmed in her honours, she enjoys the privilege of adorning her face with a profusion of turmeric and red powder, and of carrying margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves about her. She is unmarried, but without being bound by a vow of celibacy. Her business is to preside at the purificatory ceremonies that precede all festivities. When Mālakshmi, or Poleramma, or Ankamma, or any other of the village deities is to have her festival, the nearest Mātangi is applied to. Her necklace of cowry (Cypræa moneta) shells is deposited in a well for three days, before she is allowed to put it on for the ceremony. She dons the necklace, and marches behind the master of the ceremonies, who carries a knife, wooden shoes and trident, which have been similarly placed for a time at the bottom of a well. The master of the ceremonies, his male and female relations, then stand in a line, and the Mātangi runs round and round them, uttering what appear to be meaningless exclamations, spitting upon all of them, and touching them with her stick. Her touch and saliva are believed to purge all uncleanliness of body and soul, and are invited by men who would ordinarily scorn to approach her, and it passes one’s comprehension how [297]she should be honoured with the task of purifying the soul and body of high class Reddis and purse-proud Kōmatis. It must be said that only very few Brāhman families keep up this mysterious ceremony of homage to the Mātangi. She is allowed to come into the house, that is to pass the outer gate. There she besmears a certain spot with cowdung, and places upon it a basket. It is at once filled with cooked food. A layer of rice powder covers the surface of the food, and on it is placed a small lamp, which is lighted. She then holds out a little earthenware pot, and asks for toddy to fill it with. But the Brāhman says that she must be content with water. With the pot in her hand, and wild exultant songs in her mouth, recounting her humiliation of Brāhman and Kshatriya, of saint and sovereign, she moves quickly round the assembled men and women, scattering with a free hand upon them the water from the pot. The women doff their petticoats, and make a present of them to the Mātangi, and the mistress of the house gives her the cloth she is wearing. The men, however, with strange inconsistency, doff their sacred threads, and replace them by new ones after a bath. The origin of the supremacy of the Mātangi is obscure, and shrouded in legends. According to one of them, the head of Renuka, the wife of the sage Bhrigu, who was beheaded by her lord’s orders, fell in a Mādiga house, and grew into a Mādiga woman. According to another legend, a certain king prayed to be blessed with a daughter, and in answer the gods sent him a golden parrot, which soon after perched on an ant-hill, and disappeared into it. The disappointed father got the ant-hill excavated, and was rewarded for his pains by finding his daughter rise, a maid of divine beauty, and she came to be worshipped as the Mātangi. It is [298]interesting to note that Mātangas were an ancient line of kings ‘somewhere in the south,’ and the Mādigas call themselves Mātangi Makkalu or children of Mātangi or Durga, who is their goddess.”

The system of making Basavis (see Deva-dāsi), which prevails among the Mādigas of the Ceded districts, is apparently not in vogue among those of the Telugu country, where, however, there are, in some places, a class of prostitutes called Mātangi, Mātamma, or Mātha, who are held in much respect. In connection with the Basavi system, it is recorded, in the Madras Law Report, 1892, that “upon the whole, the evidence seems to be to establish that, among the Mādigas, there is a widespread custom of performing in the 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 pleasure; that her children are heirs to her father, and keep up his family; and that Basavis’ 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 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.”

The ceremony of initiation into Mātangihood is fully described by Emma Rosenbusch (Mrs. Clough).5 In the Canarese country, e.g., at Tumkūr in Mysore, the ceremony of initiation is performed by a Vakkaliga [299]priest. A portion of the front courtyard of the house is cleaned, and smeared with cow-dung. On the space thus prepared, a pattern (muggu) of a lotus is drawn with red, yellow, and white powders. The outline is first drawn with rice or ragi (Eleusine Coracana) flour deftly dropped from between the thumb and index finger. The interspaces are then filled in with turmeric and kunkuma powder. Five small pots are arranged, one in the centre, and one at each corner of the pattern. By the side of the pots are placed a ball of sacred ashes, a new cloth, a piece of turmeric, camphor, and plantain fruits. Plantain stems are set up at the corners of the pattern. A string is passed seven times round the four corner pots, and tied to the central pot. The woman who is about to become a Mātangi should live on fruits and milk for five days previous to the ceremony. She is dressed in a white sāri, and seats herself on the muggu close to the central pot. A bamboo basket, containing a pot bearing the device of two foot-prints (of Ellammā), an earthen or wooden receptacle, an iron lamp, and a cane, is placed on her head. The Āsādi sings songs about Ellammā, and the Vakkaliga priest throws rice over the novice’s head, feet, knees, and shoulders, and ties two bottus (marriage badges), called respectively Ellammā’s and Parasurāma’s bottu, on her neck. The new and old Mātangis bawl out Ekkalde Jōgavva. The ceremony closes with the drinking of toddy by the Mātangis and Āsādis. The basket (adlige) containing the various articles enumerated is the badge of a Mātangi, who carries it with its contents, and a few leafy twigs of the margosa tree (Melia Azadirachta). The basket is wrapped up in a red or brown cloth, and may not be placed on the ground. At the Mātangi’s house, it is hung up by means of a rope, or placed in a [300]niche in the wall. It may be noted that the Mādigas call the intoxicant toddy pālu (milk).

For the following interesting note on the Mātangi institution, I am indebted to an article by Mr. A. Madhaviah.6 “About ten miles to the south-west of Cumbum, in the Kurnool district, and within a mile of the village of Tudimilla, there is a narrow pass between two hillocks known as Surabeswara Kona. Besides the more common presences, we find here the following shrines:—

(a) Sapthamāthas (seven mothers).

(b) A curious temple, in which are found the idols of Jamadhagni Bagawān—the father of Parasurāma and the local rishi—his wife Renuka Dēvi, and the Surabi.

(c) Opposite to this temple is the curious shrine, not very much bigger than a railway pointsman’s box, dedicated to Māthangi. In this temple are found no less than five idols arranged in the following order:—(1) a three-headed snake; (2) another three-headed snake; (3) a female body, with the palms joined reverentially in the worshipping posture in front, with the lower half of the body snaky in form, and with a canopy of snaky hoods above; (4) Māthangi proper—a female figure of about 15 inches in height, made of stone—with a short skirt, below which the feet are visible, but no upper garment, and wearing a garland round the neck. The right hand holds a snake-headed stick, while the left has an adlika, a kind of sieve; (5) another similar figure, but without even the skirt.

“We shall now proceed to enquire who this Māthangi was, and how she came to be worshipped there. Jamadhagni Maharishi, known also as Bagawān [301]on account of his godly power and virtues, married Renuka, the daughter of Renu, and had five sons by her, the youngest of whom was the famous Parasurāma, an incarnation of Vishnu. ‘Once upon a time,’ says the Bhagavatapurāna, ‘Renuka having gone to the Ganga, saw the king of the Ghandarvas wearing garlands of lotus, to play with the Apsaras. Having gone to the river to fetch water, she, whose heart was somewhat attracted by Chitaratha (the king of the Gandharvas) who was playing, forgot the time of Yajna (sacrifice). Coming to feel the delay, and afraid of the curse of the Muni, she returned to the hermitage, and placed the pitcher before the Muni, and remained standing with folded palms. The Muni (Jamadhagni), coming to know of the unchasteness of his wife, got enraged, and said ‘O my sons! kill this sinner.’ Although thus directed, they did not do so. The said (Parasu) Rāma, who was well aware of the power of the Muni in respect of meditations and asceticism, killed, being directed by his father, his mother along with his brothers. The son of Satyavati (Jamadhagni) was pleased, and requested Rāma to pray for any favour. Rāma desired the reanimation of those killed, and their forgetfulness of the fact of their having been killed. Immediately did they get up, as though after a deep sleep. Rāma, who was conscious of the powers of his father in regard to asceticism, took the life of his dear ones.’

“The version locally prevalent is somewhat different. Jamadhagni Bagawān’s hermitage was near this Kona, and he was worshipping the god Surabeswara, and doing tapas (penance) there. One day, his wife Renuka Dēvi went, very early in the morning, to the river Gundlacama to bathe, and fetch water for her husband’s sacrificial rites. She was accompanied, as was her wont [302]on such occasions, by a female slave of the chuckler (leather-worker) caste, as a sort of bodyguard and attendant. While she was bathing, the great warrior Karthaviriyarjuna with a thousand arms happened to fly across the sky on some business of his own, and Renuka saw his form reflected in the water, and was pleased with it in her mind. It must be mentioned that she never used to take any vessel with her to fetch water, for her chastity was such that she had power to roll water into a pot-like shape, as if it were wax, and thus bring it home. On this day, however, she failed to effect this, try what she might, and she was obliged to return home empty-handed. In the meanwhile, the sage, her husband, finding that his wife did not return as usual, learnt through his ‘wisdom sight’ what had happened, and ordered his son Parasurāma to slay his sinful mother. Parasurāma went towards the river accordingly, and, seeing his mother returning, aimed an arrow at her, which severed her head from her body, and also similarly severed, with its unspent force, the head of the chuckler woman who was coming immediately behind his mother. Parasurāma returned to his father without even noticing this accident, and when his father, pleased with his prompt obedience, offered him any boon, he prayed for the re-animation of his mother. Jamadhagni then gave him some holy water out of his vessel, and told him to put together the dismembered parts, and sprinkle some water over them. Parasurāma went off in great delight and haste, and, as it was still dark and early in the morning, he wrongly put his mother’s head on the chuckler woman’s trunk, and sprinkled water on them. Then, seeing another head and another body lying close by, he thought that they belonged to the female slave whom he had unwittingly killed, and he put them also [303]together, and re-animated them. He was extremely vexed when he found out the mistakes he had committed, but, as there was no rectifying them without another double murder, he produced the two women before his father, and begged to be forgiven. The sage finally accepted the person with his late consort’s head as his wife, and granted to the other woman the status of an inferior deity, in response to her prayers, and owing to her having his wife’s body. This was the origin of Māthangi.

“There are some permanent inām (rent-free) lands belonging to this shrine, and there is always a Mādiga ‘vestal virgin’ known as Māthangi, who is the high priestess, or rather the embodied representative of the Brahman-chuckler goddess, and who enjoys the fruits of the inams. Māthangi is prohibited from marrying, and, when a Māthangi dies, her successor is chosen in the following manner. All the chuckler girls of the village, between the ages of eight and ten, who have not attained puberty, are assembled before the shrine, and the invoking hymns are chanted amid a flourish of trumpets, drums, and other accessories. The girl who becomes possessed—on whom the goddess descends—is the chosen vessel, and she is invested with the insignia of her office, a round sieve, a bunch of margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, a snake-headed bamboo stick, a piece of cotton thread rope with some cowries (Cypræa moneta shells) strung on it, and a small vessel of kunkuma (coloured aniline powder). A vow of lifelong celibacy is also administered to her. Curiously enough, this shrine is venerated by all castes, from the Brāhman downwards. We were informed that, at the time of worship, the chuckler priestess dances about in wild frenzy, and she is given toddy to drink, which she not infrequently spits on her [304]devotees, and even Brāhmans regard this as auspicious, and not in the least polluting. We had the pleasure of witnessing a ‘possessed dance’ by the reigning Māthangi, with her drummer in attendance. She is a chuckler woman, about thirty years of age, and, but for the insignia of her office, not in any way differing from the rest of her class. Though unmarried she had several children, but this was apparently no disqualification. We were standing before the shrine of the seven mothers when the drummer invoked the goddess by chanting a Telugu hymn, keeping time on his drum. The meaning of the hymn was to this effect, as far as we could make out:—

Sathya Surabesa Kona! Gowthama’s Kamadhenu! the headless trunk in Sathya Surabesa Kona! your father Giri Rāzu Kamadēva Jamadhagni Mamuni beheaded the trunk; silently Jamadhagni cut off the arms; did you, the headless trunk in Kamadhenuvanam, the headless trunk of Jamadhagni, your father’s golden sword, did you ask to be born a virgin in the snake pit?

“While chanting the above, the drummer was dancing round and round the woman, and beating wildly on his drum. The woman began to tremble all over, and soon it was visible that the goddess had descended on her. Then the drummer, wilder and more frantic than ever, began to praise the goddess in these words:—

Are you wearing bells to your ankles, O mother? Are you wearing cowries, O mother? Dancing and singing, O mother! We pray to thee, O mother! Possessed and falling on the ground, I implore thee, O mother! O mother, who went to Delhi and Oruganti with a sieve in the right-hand, with a wand in the left; with bells tinkling at her ankles, the mother went to Oruganti town, the mother went away. [305]

“During this chant, the woman vies with the drummer, and dances fiercely round and round, always facing him. Then comes the appeasing chant, which the drummer drawls out in a quivering and solemn tone, and without dancing about:—

By the feet of the thirty-three crores, by the feet of the sixty crores, by the feet of the Dēvas, peace !

“The woman then stands with closed eyes, panting for breath, and quite exhausted.

“On ordinary days, the Māthangi goes about the villages, collecting the offerings of her devotees, and, we take it, she is never in much want. There are also local Māthangis in other villages, but they are all said to be subordinate to the Tudimilla woman, who is the high Pontiff of the institution. We were informed that there was an old palmyra-leaf manuscript in existence, describing the institution and the ceremonies (mostly tantric and phallic) in detail.”

Among the Mādigas of Tumkur in Mysore, the Mātangis must apparently belong to one of two septs, Belliyoru or Malloru.

The Mādiga Āsādis, who are males, have to go through an initiation ceremony very similar to that of the Mātangi. But a necklet of pebbles is substituted for the bottu, and the Vakkaliga priest touches the novice’s shoulders with flowers, turmeric powder, and kunkumam. The Āsādis are musicians who sing songs and recite stories about Ellammā. They play on a musical instrument called chaudike, which is a combination of a drum and stringed instrument. The Mātangis and Āsādis, both being dedicated to Ellammā, are eminently qualified to remove pollution for many castes who are Ellammā Vokkalu or followers of Ellammā. A lotus device, or figures of Pothu Rāja and Mātangi, are drawn on the [306]ground, after it has been cleansed with cow-dung. The Mātangi, with her insignia, sits in the centre of the device, and the Āsādis, sitting close by, sing the praises of Ellammā to the accompaniment of the chaudike. The Mātangis and Āsādi then drink toddy, and go about the house, wherein the former sprinkle toddy with the margosa twig. Sometimes they pour some of the toddy into their mouths, and spit it out all over the house. The pot, in which the toddy is placed, is, in some places, called pallakki (palanquin).

The Āsādis’ version of the story of Ellammā is as follows. She is the goddess for all, and is present in the tongues of all except dumb people, because they have to pronounce the syllable elli (where) whenever they ask a question containing the word where. She is a mysterious being, who often exhibits herself in the form of light or flames. She is the cause of universe, and the one Sakthi in existence thereon. She is supposed to be the daughter of Girirāja Mūni and Javanikadēvi, and the wife of Jamadhagni Rishi. Her son is Parasurāma, carrying a plough. The town where she lives has three names, Jambupuri, Isampuri, and Vijayanagara, has eighty-seven gates, and is fortified by seven walls. She is believed to have for her dress all kinds of snakes. Several groves of margosa trees are said to flourish in her vicinity. She is worshipped under many names, and has become Lakshmi, Gauramma, and Saraswati in Brāhman houses, or Akkumari in Vakkaliga houses. To the Īdigas she is Gatabaghya Lakshmi, to the Kurubas Ganga Mari, to the Oddes Peddamma and Chinnamma, and so on. She is said to have proceeded on a certain day to the town of Oragallu, accompanied by Jana Mātangi. On the way thither, the soles of Mātangi’s feet blistered, and she sat down with Ellammā [307]beneath a margosa tree. After resting a short time Mātangi asked Ellammā’s permission to go to a neighbouring Īdiga (Telugu toddy-drawer), and get some toddy to drink. Ellammā objected, as the Īdiga Gauda was a Lingāyat, and Mātangi would be compelled to wear the lingam. When Mātangi persisted, Ellammā transformed herself into an ant-hill, and Mātangi, in the guise of a young woman, went to the Īdiga Gauda with her cane (Jogi kolu) and basket, and asked for toddy. The Gauda became angry, and, tying her to a date-palm (Phœnix sylvestris), beat her, and gave her cane and basket to his groom. Mātangi was further ill-treated by the Gauda and his wives, but escaped, and went to the Gauda’s brother, who treated her kindly, and offered her toddy, of which he had sixty loads on bullocks. All this he poured into the shell of a margosa fruit which Mātangi held in her hand, and yet it was not filled. Eventually the toddy extracted from a few palms was brought, and the shell became full. So pleased was Mātangi with the Īdiga’s treatment of her, that she blessed him, and instructed him to leave three date-palms untapped as Basavi trees in every grove. She then returned to Ellammā, and it was resolved to afflict the Gauda who had treated her badly with all kinds of diseases. Still disguised as a young woman, she went to him with sweet-smelling powders, which he purchased for a large sum of money. But, when he used them, he became afflicted with manifold diseases, including small-pox, measles, cancer, asthma, gout, rheumatism, abscesses, and bed-sores. Mātangi then appeared before him as an old fortune-teller woman, whom the Īdiga consulted, and doing as he was told by her, was cured. Subsequently, learning that all his misfortunes were due to his want of respect to Mātangi, he became one of Ellammā’s Vokkalu. [308]

“The Mādigas,” Mr. H. A. Stuart informs us,7 “will not take food or water from Pariahs, nor the latter from the former, a prejudice which is taken advantage of in the Kālahasti Rāja’s stables to prevent theft of gram by the Pariah horse-keepers, the raw gram being sprinkled with water by Mādigas in the sight of the Pariahs.”

There are Telugu proverbs to the effect that “under the magili system of cultivation, even a Mādiga will grow good crops,” and “not even a Mādiga will sow before Malapunnama.”

Writing concerning the Mādigas,8 the Rev. H. Huizinga states that “they live in hamlets at a respectable distance from the villages of the caste people, by whom they are greatly despised. Their habits are squalid in the extreme, and the odour of a Mādiga hamlet is revolting. They perform all the lowest kinds of service for the caste people, especially bearing burdens and working in leather. They take charge of the ox or buffalo as soon as it dies. They remove the skin and tan it, and eat the loathsome carcase, which makes them specially despised, and renders their touch polluting. Some of the skins are used for covering the rude drums that are so largely used in Hindu festivals, and beaten in honour of the village deities. The caste men impress the Mādigas into their service, not only to make the drums, but also to beat them at their feasts. It may be mentioned that nearly ten per cent. of the Mādigas are nominal Christians, and, in some parts of the Nellore district, the Christians form over half of the Mādiga population. This changes their habits of life [309]and also their social position. Eating of carrion is now forbidden, as well as beating of drums at Hindu festivals, and their refusal in this particular often leads to bitter persecution at the hands of the caste people. The main duty of the Mādigas is the curing and tanning of hides, and the manufacture of rude leather articles, especially sandals, trappings for bullocks, and large well-buckets used for irrigation. The process of tanning with lime and tangēdu (Cassia auriculata) bark is rough and simple. [Tangēdu is said9 to be cut only by the Mādigas, as other classes think it beneath their dignity to do it.] As did their forefathers, so the Mādigas do to-day. The quality of the skins they turn out is fair, and the state of the development of the native leather trade compares very favourably with that of other trades such as blacksmithy and carpentry. The Mādiga’s sandals are strong, comfortable, and sometimes highly ornamental. His manner of working, and his tools are as simple as his life. He often gets paid in kind, a little fodder for his buffalo, so many measures of some cheap grain, perhaps a few vegetables, etc. In the northern districts, the Mādigas are attached to one or more families of ryots, and are entitled to the dead animals of their houses. Like the Vettiyan in the south, the Mādiga is paid in kind, and he has to supply sandals for the ryots, belts for the bulls, and all the necessaries of agriculture; and for these he has to find the requisite leather himself; but for the larger articles, such as water-buckets, the master must find the leather. Of late years there is a tendency observable among Mādigas to poach on each other’s monopoly of certain houses, and among the ryots themselves to dispense with [310]the services of family Mādigas, and resort to the open market for their necessaries. In such cases, the ryots demand payment from the Mādigas for the skins of their dead animals. The hides and skins, which remain after local demands have been satisfied, are sold to merchants from the Tamil districts, and there is generally a central agent, to whom the various sub-agents send their collections, and by him they are dried and salted and sent to Madras for tanning. In the Kīstna district, children have little leather strings hanging from the left shoulder, like the sacred cord of the Brāhman, from which is suspended a bag containing something put in it by a Mādiga, to charm away all forms of disease from the infant wearer.”

In some places bones are collected by the Mādigas for the Labbais (Muhammadans), by whom they are exported to Bombay.

The god of the temple at Tirupati appears annually to four persons in different directions, east, west, north and south, and informs them that he requires a shoe from each of them. They whitewash their houses, worship the god, and spread rice-flour thickly on the floor of a room, which is locked for the night. Next morning the mark of a huge foot is found on the floor, and for this a shoe has to be made to fit. When ready, it is taken in procession through the streets of the village, and conveyed to Tirupati, where it is presented at the temple. Though the makers of the shoes have worked in ignorance of each other’s work, the shoes brought from the north and south, and those from the east and west, are believed to match, and make a pair. Though the worship of these shoes is chiefly meant for the Pariahs, who are prohibited from ascending the Tirupati hill, as a matter of fact all, without distinction of caste, [311]worship them. The shoes are placed in front of the image of the god near the foot of the hill, and are said to gradually wear out by the end of the year.

At a pseudo-hook-swinging ceremony in the Bellary district, as carried out at the present day, a Bēdar is suspended by a cloth passed under his arms. The Mādigas always swing him, and have to provide the hide ropes, which are used.10

In an exceedingly interesting account of the festival of the village goddess Ūramma, at Kudligi in the Bellary district, Mr. F. Fawcett writes as follows. “The Mādiga Basivis (dedicated prostitutes) are given alms, and join in the procession. A quantity of rice and rāgi flour is poured into a basket, over which one of the village servants cuts the throat of a small black ram. The carcase is laid on the bloody flour, and the whole covered with old cloths, and placed on the head of a Mādiga, who stands for some time in front of the goddess. The goddess is then carried a few yards, the Mādiga walking in front, while a hole is dug close to her, and the basket of bloody flour and the ram’s carcase are buried. After some dancing by the Mādiga Basivis to the music of the tom-tom, the Mādigas bring five new pots, and worship them. A buffalo, devoted to the goddess after the last festival, is then driven or dragged through the village with shouting and tom-toming, walked round the temple, and beheaded by the Mādiga in front of the goddess. The head is placed in front of her with the right foreleg in the mouth, and a lamp, lighted eight days previously, is placed on top. All then start in procession round the village, a Mādiga, naked but for a few margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, [312]and held by two others, leading the way. Behind him are all the other Mādigas, carrying six hundred seers of chōlum (Sorghum: millet), which they scatter; and, following them, all the other villagers. It is daybreak, and the Mādiga who led the way, the pūjari (priest), and the women who followed him, who have been fasting for more than twenty-four hours, now eat. The Mādiga is fed. This Mādiga is said to be in mortal terror while leading the procession, for the spirit or influence of the goddess comes over him. He swoons before the procession is completed. At noon the people collect again at Ūramma’s temple, where a purchased buffalo is sacrificed. The head is placed in front of the goddess as before, and removed at once for food. Then those of the lower Sūdra castes, and Mādigas who are under vows, come dressed in margosa leaves, with lamps on their heads, and sacrifice buffaloes, sheep and goats to the goddess.” A further account of the festival of the village goddess Udisalamma, at Bandri in the Bellary district, is given by Mr. Fawcett. “A Mādiga,” he writes, “naked but for a few leaves round his waist, leads the procession, and, following him, are Mādigas with baskets. Fear of the goddess comes on the Mādiga. He swoons, and is carried to the temple, and flung on the ground in front of the goddess. After a while he is revived, bathed, and given new clothing. This man is one of a family, in which this curious office is hereditary. He must be the son of a married woman, not of a Basivi, and he must not be married. He fasts from the beginning of the festival till he has done what is required of him. A young ram—the sacrifice sheep—is taken up by one of the Pōturāzus, as if it were a child, its hind legs at either side of his waist and its forelegs over his shoulders, and he bites its throat open and [313]shows his bloody mouth to the people. He throws it down, and the Mādigas remove it.”

Buffalo Sacrifice. Head with foot in the mouth.

Buffalo Sacrifice. Head with foot in the mouth.

In an account of a festival, during times of epidemic, at Masulipatam, Bishop Whitehead writes as follows.11 “On the last day, a male buffalo, called Dēvara potu (he who is devoted to the goddess), is brought before the image, and its head cut off by the head Mādiga of the town. The blood is caught in a vessel, and sprinkled over some boiled rice, and then the head, with the right foreleg in the mouth, is placed before the shrine on a flat wicker basket, with the rice and blood on another basket just below it. A lighted lamp is placed on the head, and then another Mādiga carries it on his own head round the village, with a new cloth dipped in the blood of the victim tied round its neck. This is regarded here and elsewhere as a very inauspicious and dangerous office, and the headman of the village has to offer considerable inducements to persuade a Mādiga to undertake it. Ropes are tied round his body and arms, and held fast by men walking behind him, to prevent his being carried off by evil spirits, and limes are cut in half and thrown into the air, so that the demons may catch at them instead of at the man. It is believed that gigantic demons sit on the tops of tall trees ready to swoop down and carry him away, in order to get the rice and the buffalo’s head. The idea of carrying the head and rice round a village, so the people said, is to draw a kind of cordon on every side of it, and prevent the entrance of the evil spirits. Should any one in the town refuse to subscribe for the festival, his house is omitted from the procession, and left to the tender mercies of the devils. This procession is called Bali-haranam, and in this [314](Kistna) district inams (lands rent free) are held from Government by certain families of Mādigas for performing it. Besides the buffalo, large numbers of sheep and goats, and fowls are sacrificed, each householder giving at least one animal. The head Mādiga, who kills the animals, takes the carcase, and distributes the flesh among the members of his family. Often cases come into the Courts to decide who has the right to kill them. As the sacrifice cannot wait for the tedious processes of the law, the elders of the village settle the question at once, pending an appeal to the Court. But, in the town of Masulipatam, a Mādiga is specially licensed by the Municipality for the purpose, and all disputes are avoided.”

In some localities, during epidemics of small-pox or cholera, the Mādigas celebrate a festival in honour of Māriamma, for the expenses of which a general subscription is raised, to which all castes contribute. A booth is erected in a grove, or beneath a margosa or Strychnos Nux-vomica tree, within which a decorated pot (karagam) is placed on a platform. The pot is usually filled with water, and its mouth closed by a cocoanut. In front of the pot a screen is set up, and covered with a white cloth, on which rice, plantains, and cakes are placed, with a mass of flour, in which a cavity is scooped out to hold a lighted wick fed with ghī (clarified butter), or gingelly oil. A goat is sacrificed, and its head, with a flour-light on it, placed close to the pot. The food, which has been offered to the goddess, is distributed, On the last day of the festival, the pot is carried in procession through the village, and goats are sacrificed at the four cardinal points of the compass. The pot is deposited at a spot where three roads meet, and a goat, pumpkins, limes, flowers, etc., are [315]offered to it. Everything,except the pot, is left on the spot.

The Mādigas sometimes call themselves Jāmbavas, and claim to be descended from Jāmbu or Adi Jāmbuvadu, who is perhaps the Jāmbuvan of the Rāmayana. Some Mādigas, called Sindhuvallu, go about acting scenes from the Mahābaratha and Rāmayana, or the story of Ankalamma. They also assert that they fell to their present low position as the result of a curse, and tell the following story. Kāmadhenu, the sacred cow of the Purānas, was yielding plenty of milk, which the Dēvas alone used. Vellamānu, a Mādiga boy, was anxious to taste the milk, but was advised by Adi Jāmbuvadu to abstain from it. He, however, secured some by stealth, and thought that the flesh would be sweeter still. Learning this, Kāmadhenu died. The Dēvas cut its carcase into four parts, of which they gave one to Adi Jāmbuvadu. But they wanted the cow brought back to life, and each brought his share of it for the purpose of reconstruction. But Vellamānu had cut a bit of the flesh, boiled it, and breathed on it, so that, when the animal was recalled to life, its chin sank, as the flesh thereof had been defiled. This led to the sinking of the Mādigas in the social scale. The following variant of this legend is given in the Mysore Census Report, 1891. “At a remote period, Jāmbava Rishi, a sage, was one day questioned by Isvara (Siva) why the former was habitually late at the Divine Court. The rishi replied that he had personally to attend to the wants of his children every day, which consequently made his attendance late: whereupon Isvara, pitying the children, gave the rishi a cow (Kāmadhenu), which instantaneously supplied their every want. Once upon a time, while Jāmbava was absent at Isvara’s Court, [316]another rishi, named Sānkya, visited Jāmbava’s hermitage, where he was hospitably entertained by his son Yugamuni. While taking his meals, the cream that had been served was so savoury that the guest tried to induce Jāmbava’s son Yugamuni, to kill the cow and eat her flesh; and, in spite of the latter’s refusal, Sānkya killed the animal, and prevailed upon the others to partake of the meat. On his return from Isvara’s Court, Jāmbava found the inmates of his hermitage eating the sacred cow’s beef; and took both Sānkya and Yugamuni over to Isvara’s Court for judgment. Instead of entering, the two offenders remained outside, Sānkya rishi standing on the right side and Yugamuni on the left of the doorway. Isvara seems to have cursed them to become Chandalas or outcasts. Hence, Sānkya’s descendants are, from his having stood on the right side, designated right-hand caste or Holayas; whilst those who sprang from Yugamuni and his wife Mātangi are called left-hand caste or Mādigas.” The occupation of the latter is said also to be founded on the belief that, by making shoes for people, the sin their ancestors had committed by cow-killing would be expiated. This mode of vicariously atoning for deliberate sin has passed into a facetious proverb, ‘So and so has killed the cow in order to make shoes from the skin,’ indicating the utter worthlessness and insufficiency of the reparation.

The Mādigas claim to be the children of Mātangi. “There was,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,12 “formerly a Mātanga dynasty in the Canarese country, and the Mādigas are believed by some to be descendants of people who were once a ruling race. Mātangi is a [317]Sanskrit name for Kāli, and it is possible that the Mādigas once played an important part in the worship of the god. The employment of Chakkiliyans and Mādiga women in Shakti worship gives some colour to this supposition.” According to Fleet13 “the Mātangas and the Katachchuris are mentioned in connection with Mangalisa, who was the younger brother and successor of Kirttivarma I, and whose reign commenced in Saka 489 (A.D. 567–8), and terminated in Saka 532 (A.D. 610–11). Of the Mātangas nothing is known, except the mention of them. But Mātanga means ‘a Chāndala, a man of the lowest caste, an outcast, a kirāta mountaineer, a barbarian’; and the Mādigas, i.e., the Mahāngs of this part of the country, usually call themselves Mātangimakkalu, i.e., the children of Mātangi or Durgā, who is their goddess. It is probable, therefore, that the Mātangas of this inscription were some aboriginal family of but little power, and not of sufficient importance to have left any record of themselves.” There are allusions to Mātangas in the Rāmayana, and in Kadambari, a Sanskrit work, the chieftain of the Cabaras is styled Mātanga. The tutelary deity of the Mādigas is Mathamma or Mātangi, who is said to be worshipped by the Kōmatis under the name of Kanyakāparamēswari. The relations between the Mādigas and Kōmatis are dealt with in the note on the latter caste. There is a legend to the effect that Mātangi was defeated by Parasu Rāma, and concealed herself from him under the tanning-pot in a Mādiga’s house. At the feast of Pongal, the Mādigas worship their tanning pots, as representing the goddess, with offerings of fowls and liquor. In addition to Mātangi, the Mādigas [318]worship Kattamma, Kattappa, Dandumāri, Munēswara, and other deities. Some of their children are named after these deities, while others receive Muhammadan names in fulfilment of vows made to Masthan and other Pīrs.

When asked concerning their caste, the Mādigas always reply “Memu pedda inti vallamu,” i.e., we are of the big house. The following legend is current in the Cuddapah district concerning a pool in the Rayachoti taluk called Akkadēvatalakolam, or the pool of the holy sisters. “A thousand years ago, there lived near the pool a king, who ruled over all this part of the country. The king had as his commander-in-chief a Mādiga. This Mādiga made himself powerful and independent, and built himself a residence on a hill still called Mādiga Vanidoorgam. At last he revolted, and defeated the king. On entering the king’s palace, he found seven beautiful virgins, the king’s daughters, to all of whom he at once made overtures of marriage. They declined the honour, and, when the Mādiga wished to use force, they all jumped into this pool, and delivered their lives to the universal lord.”14

The following are some of the more important endogamous sub-divisions among the Mādigas:—

  • Gampa dhompti, basket offering.
  • Ginna or thēl dhompti, tray or cup offering.
  • Bhūmi dhompti, earth offering.
  • Chātla dhompti, winnowing basket offering.
  • Sibbi dhompti, brass vessel offering.
  • Chadarapa dhompti, square space on the ground offering.

These sub-divisions are based on the way in which the members thereof offer food, etc., to their gods during [319]marriages, e.g., a Gampa dhompti places it in a basket, a Bhūmi dhompti on the floor. Each sub-division possesses many exogamous septs, of which the following are examples:—

  • Belli, silver.
  • Chinthala, tamarind.
  • Chātla, winnowing basket.
  • Dārāla, thread.
  • Emme, buffalo.
  • Gavala, cowry shells.
  • Golkonda, a town.
  • Jālam, slowness.
  • Kambha, post.
  • Kappala, frog.
  • Kālahasti, a town.
  • Kaththe, donkey.
  • Kaththi, knife.
  • Kudumala, cake.
  • Kuncham, tassel.
  • Midathala, locust.
  • Mallela, or malli, jasmine.
  • Nannūru, four hundred.
  • Pothula, buffalo.
  • Pasula, cow.
  • Rāgi, Eleusine Coracana.
  • Sīkili, broom.
  • Thēla, scorpion.

There seems to be some connection between the Mādigas, the Mutrāchas, and Gollas. For, at times of marriage, the Mādiga sets aside one thambūlam (betel leaf and areca nut) for the Mutrācha, and, in some places, extends the honour to the Golla also. At the marriage ceremonies of the Pūni Gollas, an elaborate and costly form of Ganga worship is performed, in connection with which it is the Mādiga musicians, called Mādiga Pambala vandlu, who draw the designs in colour-powders on the floor.

The Mādigas observe the panchāyat or tribal council system for the adjustment of disputes, and settlement of various questions at issue among members of the community. The headman is called Pedda (big) Mādiga, whose office is hereditary; and he is assisted by two elected officers called Dharmakartha and Kulambantrothu.

Mādiga bridal pair.

Mādiga bridal pair.

Widow remarriage (udike) is freely permitted, and the woman and her children are received in Mādiga [320]society. But care is taken that no one but the contracting parties and widows shall witness the marriage ceremony, and no one but a widower is allowed to avail himself of the form.15 A man may get a divorce from his wife by payment to her of a few rupees. But no money is given to her, if she has been guilty of adultery. The bride’s price varies in amount, being higher if she has to cross a river. The elaborate marriage ceremonial conforms to the Telugu type, but some of the details may be recorded. On the muhūrtham (wedding) day, a ceremony called pradhānam (chief thing) is performed. A sheep is sacrificed to the marriage (araveni) pots. The sacrificer dips his hands in the blood of the animal, and impresses the blood on his palms on the wall near the door leading to the room in which the pots are kept. The bridegroom’s party bring betel nuts, limes, a golden bead, a bonthu (unbleached cotton thread), rice, and turmeric paste. The maternal uncle of the bride gives five betel leaves and areca nuts to the Pedda Mādiga, and, putting the bonthu round the bride’s neck, ties the golden bead thereon. The ceremony concludes with the distribution of pān-supāri in the following order: ancestors, Mutrāchas, Gollas, Mādigas, the Pedda Mādiga, and the assembled guests. The Pedda Mādiga has to lift, at one try, a tray containing cocoanuts and betel with his right hand. In his hand he holds a knife, of which the blade is passed over the forefinger, beneath the middle and fourth fingers, and over the little finger. This ceremony is called thonuku thambūlam, or betel and nuts likely to be spilt on the floor. The bridegroom, after a bath, proceeds to the temple, where cloths, the bāshingam, bottu (marriage badge), etc., are placed in [321]front of the god, and then taken to a jammi tree (Prosopis spicigera), which is worshipped. The bottu is usually a disc of gold, but, if the family is hard-up, or in cases of widow remarriage, a bit of turmeric or folded mango leaf serves as a substitute for it. On the third day, the wrist threads (kankanam) are removed, and dhomptis, or offerings of food to the gods, are made, with variations according to the dhompti to which the celebrants belong. An illustration may be taken from the Gampa dhompti. The contracting parties procure a quantity of rice, jaggery (crude sugar), and ghī (clarified butter), which are cooked, and moulded into an elongated mass, and placed in a new bamboo basket (gampa). In the middle of the mass, which is determined with a string, a twig, with a wick at one end, is set up, and two similar twigs are stuck into the ends of the mass. Pūja (worship) is performed, and the mass is distributed among the daughters of the house and other near relations, but not among members of other dhomptis. The bride and bridegroom take a small portion from the mass, which is called dhonga muddha, or the mass that is stolen. The bottu is said16 to be “usually tied by the Mādiga priest known as the Thavatiga, or drummer. This office is hereditary, but each successor to it has to be regularly ordained by a Kuruba guru at the local Mādiga shrine, the chief item in the ceremony being tying round the neck of the candidate a thread bearing a representation of the goddess, and on either side of this five white beads. Henceforth the Thavatiga is on no account to engage in the caste profession of leather-work, but lives on fees collected at weddings, and by begging. He goes round [322]to the houses of the caste with a little drum slung over his shoulder, and collects contributions.”

The Mādiga marriages are said to be conducted with much brawling and noise, owing to the quantity of liquor consumed on such occasions. Among the Mādigas, as among the Kammas, Gangimakkulu, and Mālas, marriage is said not to be consummated until three months after its celebration. This is apparently because it is considered unlucky to have three heads of a household within a year of marriage. By the delay, the birth of the child should take place only in the second year, so that, during the first year, there will be only two heads, husband and wife.

At the first menstrual period a girl is under pollution for ten days, when she bathes. Betel leaves and nuts, and a rupee are placed in front of the Pedda Mādiga, who takes a portion thereof for himself, and distributes what remains among those who have assembled. Sometimes, just before the return of the girl to the house, a sheep is killed in front of the door, and a mark made on her face with the blood.

The Mādigas dispose of their dead both by burial and cremation. The body is said to be “buried naked, except for a few leaves. Children are interred face downwards. Pregnant women are burnt. The bier is usually made of the milk-hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli) plant.”17 The grave is dug by a Māla Vettivādu. The chinnadhinam ceremony is performed on the third day. On the grave a mass of mud is shaped into the form of an idol, to which are offered rice, cocoanuts, and jaggery (crude sugar) placed on leaves, one of which is set apart for the crows. Three stones are arranged in the form [323]of a triangle, and on them is set a pot filled with water, which trickles out of holes made in the bottom of the pot. The peddadhinam is performed, from preference on a Wednesday or Sunday, towards the close of the third week after death. The son, or other celebrant of the rites, sets three stones on the grave, and offers food thereto. Food is also offered to the crows by the relations of the deceased, and thrown into a river or tank (pond), if the crows do not eat it. They all go to a tank, and make on the bank thereof an effigy, if the dead person was a female. To married women, winnows and glass bangles are offered. The bangles of a widow, and waist-thread of a widower, are removed within an enclosure on the bank. At night stories of Ankamma and Mātangi are recited by Bainēdus or Pambalas, and if a Mātangi is available, homage is done to her.

In some places, Mādigas have their own washermen and barbers. But, in the northern districts, the caste washerman does their washing, the cloths being steeped in water, and left for the washerman to take. “The Mādigas,” Mr. Francis writes,18 “may not use the wells of the better classes, though, when water is scarce, they get over this last prohibition by employing some one in the higher ranks to draw water for them from such wells, and pour it into their chatties. In other districts they have to act as their own barbers and washermen, but in Anantapūr this disability is somewhat relaxed, as the barbers make no objection to let them (and other low castes such as the Mālas) use their razors for a consideration, and the dhōbis will wash their clothes, as long as they themselves first unroll them, and dip them [324]into the water. This act is held to remove the pollution, which would otherwise attach to them.”

Like many castes, the Mādigas have beggar classes attached to their community, who are called Dakkali and Māstiga. The Dakkalis may not enter the Mādiga settlement. They sing songs in praise of the Mādigas, who willingly remunerate them, as their curses are believed to be very effective. The Māstigas may enter the settlement, but not the huts. It is said to be a good omen to a Lingāyat, if he sees a Mādiga coming in front.

Gōsangi is often used as a synonym for Mādiga. Another synonym is Puravābatta, which is said to mean people older than the world by six months. At the Madras census, 1901, Chakara, Chundi, and Pavini or Vayani were returned as sub-castes, and Māyikkan was taken as the Malabar equivalent for Mādiga.

Concerning the Mādigas of Mysore, Mr. T. Ananda Row writes as follows.19 “The Mādigas are by religion Vaishnavites, Saivites, and Sakteyas, and have five different gurus belonging to mutts at Kadave, Kodihalli, Kongarli, Nelamangala, and Konkallu. The tribe is sometimes called Jambava or Mātanga. It is divided into two independent sub-divisions, the Desabhaga and the others, between whom there is no intermarriage. The former, though under the above named mutts, acknowledge Srivaishnava Brāhmins as their gurus, to whom they pay homage on all ceremonial occasions. The Desabhaga division has six sub-classes, viz.: Billoru (bowmen); Malloru (mallu = fight?); Amarāvatiyavaru (after a town); Mūnigalu (Mūni or rishi); Yēnamaloru (buffalo); Morabuvvadavaru (those who place food in a winnow). The Mādigas are mostly field [325]labourers, but some of them till land, either leased or their own. In urban localities, on account of the value in the rise of skins, they have attained to considerable affluence, both on account of the hides supplied by them, and their work as tanners, shoe-makers, etc. Only 355 persons returned gōtras, such as Mātangi, Mareecha, and Jambava-rishi.” At the Mysore census, 1891, some Mādigas actually returned themselves as Mātanga Brāhmans, producing for the occasion a certain so-called Purāna as their charter.

Madivāla.See Agasa.

Mādukkāran.See Gangeddu.

Madurai.—The name of a sub-division of Shānān, apparently meaning sweet liquor, and not the town of Madura.

Magadha Kani.—Recorded, at times of census, as a sub-division of Bhatrāzu.

Maggam.—Maggam, Magga, and Maggada, meaning loom, have been recorded as exogamous septs of Kurubas, Mālas, and Holeyas, some of whom are weavers.

Māghadulu.—A sub-division of Bhatrāzu, named after one Māghade, who is said to have been herald at the marriage of Siva.

Magili (Pandanus fascicularis).—A gōtra of Tsākalas and Panta Reddis, by whom the products of the tree may not be touched. The Panta Reddi women of this gōtra will not, like those of other castes, use the flower-bracts for the purpose of adorning themselves. There is a belief, in Southern India, that the fragrant male inflorescence harbours a tiny snake, which is more deadly than the cobra, and that incautious smelling thereof may lead to death.

Māgura.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small caste of Oriya leaf-plate makers and [326]shikāris (huntsmen). The name is said to be derived from māgora, meaning one who traces foot-paths and tracks.

Mahādev.—A synonym of Daira Muhammadan.

Mahankudo.—A title of Gaudo and Gudiya. The headman of the latter caste goes by this name.

Mahant.—The Mahant is the secular head and trustee of the temple at Tirumala (Upper Tirupati) in the North Arcot district, and looks after the worldly affairs of the swāmi (god). “Tirupati,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,20 “unlike most other temples, has no dancing-girls attached to it, and not to be strictly continent upon the sacred hill is a deadly sin. Of late years, however, even celibate Bairāgis and priests take their paramours up with them, and the pilgrims follow suit. Everything is held to betoken the approaching downfall of the temple’s greatness. The irregular life of the Mahant Balarām Dās sixty years ago caused a great ferment, though similar conduct now would probably hardly attract notice. He was ejected from his office by the unanimous voice of his disciples, and one Gōvardhan Dās, whose life was consistent with the holy office, was elected, and installed in the math (monastery) near the temple. Balarām Dās, however, collected a body of disbanded peons from the pālaiyams, and, arming them, made an attack upon the building. The walls were scaled, and the new Mahant with his disciples shut themselves up in an inner apartment. In an attempt at rescue, one man was killed, and three were seriously wounded. A police force was sent to co-operate with the Tirupati poligars (feudal chiefs), but could effect nothing till the insurgent peons were threatened with the [327]loss of all their lands. This broke up the band, and Balarām Dās’ followers deserted him. When the gates were broken open, it was found that he and a few staunch followers had committed suicide. But perhaps the greatest scandal which has occurred in the history of the math was that which ended in the conviction of the present Mahant’s predecessor, Bhagavān Dās. He was charged with having misappropriated a number of gold coins of considerable value, which were supposed to have been buried beneath the great flagstaff. A search warrant was granted, and it was discovered that the buried vessels only contained copper coins. The Mahant was convicted of the misappropriation of the gold, and was sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment, but this was reduced to one year by the High Court. On being released from jail, he made an effort to oust his successor, and acquire possession of the math by force. For this he was again sent to jail, for six months, and required to furnish security to be of good behaviour.”

It is recorded by Sir M. E. Grant Duff,21 formerly Governor of Madras, that “while the municipal address was being read to me, a huge elephant, belonging to the Zemindar of Kalahastri, a great temporal chief, charged a smaller elephant belonging to the Mahant or High Priest of Tripaty, thus disestablishing the church much more rapidly, alas! than we did in Ireland.”

Mahanti.—Mahanti is, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, defined as “a caste akin to the Koronos or Karnams (writers and accountants). The name is sometimes taken by persons excommunicated from other castes.” The word means great, or prestige. According to a note submitted to me, the Mahantis gradually [328]became Karnams, with the title of Patnaik, but there is no intermarriage between them and the higher classes of Karnams. The Mahantis of Orissa are said to still maintain their respectability, whereas in Ganjam they have as a class degenerated, so much so that the term Mahanti is now held up to ridicule.

Mahāpātro.—Said to be a title sold by the caste council to Khōduras. Also a title of Badhōyis, and other Oriya castes.

Maharāna.—A title of Badhōyi.

Mahēswara (Siva).—A synonym of Jangams (priests of the Lingāyats). The Jangams of the Sīlavants, for example, are known by this name.

Mailāri.—The Mailāris are a class of beggars, who are said22 to “call themselves a sub-division of the Balijas, and beg from Kōmatis only. Their ancestors were servants of Kannyakammavāru (or Kannikā Amma, the virgin goddess of the Kōmatis), who burnt herself to avoid falling into the hands of Rāja Vishnu Vardhana. On this account, they have the privilege of collecting certain fees from all the Kōmatis. The fee, in the Kurnool district, is eight annas per house. When he demands the fee, a Mailāri appears in full dress (kāsi), which consists of brass human heads tied to his loins, and brass cups to his head; a looking-glass on the abdomen; a bell ringing from his girdle; a bangle on his forearm ; and wooden shoes on his feet. In this dress he walks, holding an umbrella, through the streets, and demands his fee. If the fee is not paid, he again appears, in a more frightful form called Bhūthakāsi. He shaves his whiskers, and, almost naked, proceeds to the burning-ground, where he makes rati, or different [329]kinds of coloured rice, and, going to the Kōmatis, extorts his fee.” I am informed that the Mailāris travel about with an image of Kannyakamma, which they exhibit, while they sing in Telugu the story of her life.

The Mailāris are stated, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, to be also called Bāla Jangam. Mailāri (washerman) is also an exogamous sept of the Mālas.

Majji.—Recorded as a title of Bagatas, Doluvas, and Kurumos, and as a sept of Nagarālus. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is described as a title given to the head peons of Bissōyis in the Māliahs.

Majjiga (butter-milk).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Majjula.—A sub-division of Korono.

Majjulu.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “cultivators in Vizagapatam, and shikāris (hunters) and fishermen in Ganjam. They have two endogamous divisions, the Majjulus and the Rācha Majjulus, the members of the latter of which wear the sacred thread, and will not eat with the former. In their customs they closely resemble the Kāpus, of which caste they are perhaps a sub-division. For their ceremonies they employ Oriya Brāhmans, and Telugu Nambis. Widow marriage is allowed. They burn their dead, and are said to perform srāddhas (memorial services). They worship all the village gods and goddesses, and eat meat. They have no titles.”

Mākado (monkey).—An exogamous sept of Bottada.

Makkathāyam.—The name, in the Malayālam country, for the law of inheritance from father to son. The Canarese equivalent thereof is makkalsanthānam.

Māla.—“The Mālas,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,23 “are the Pariahs of the Telugu country. Dr. Oppert [330]derives the word from a Dravidian root meaning a mountain, which is represented by the Tamil malai, Telugu māla, etc., so that Māla is the equivalent of Paraiyan, and also of Mar or Mhar and the Māl of Western and Central Bengal. I cannot say whether there is sufficient ground for the assumption that the vowel of a Dravidian root can be lengthened in this way. I know of no other derivation of Māla. [In C. P. Brown’s Telugu Dictionary it is derived from maila, dirty.] The Mālas are almost equally inferior in position to the Mādigas. They eat beef and drink heavily, and are debarred entrance to the temples and the use of the ordinary village wells, and have to serve as their own barbers and washermen. They are the musicians of the community, and many of them (for example in the villages near Jammalamadugu in the Cuddapah district) weave the coarse white cotton fabrics usually worn by men.”

The Mālas will not take water from the same well as the Mādigas, whom they despise for eating carrion, though they eat beef themselves.

Both Mālas and Tamil Paraiyans belong to the right-hand section. In the Bellary district the Mālas are considered to be the servants of the Banajigas (traders), for whom they do certain services, and act as caste messengers (chalavāthi) on the occasion of marriages and funerals. At marriages, six Mālas selected from certain families, lead the procession, carrying flags, etc., and sit in the pial (verandah) of the marriage house. At funerals, a Māla carries the brass ladle bearing the insignia of the right-hand section, which is the emblem of the authority of the Dēsai or headman of the section.

The Mālas have their own dancing girls (Basavis), barbers, and musicians (Bainēdus), Dāsaris or priests, [331]and beggars and bards called Māstigas and Pambalas (drum people), who earn their living by reciting stories of Ankamma, etc., during the funeral ceremonies of some Telugu castes, acting as musicians at marriages and festivals to the deities, begging, and telling fortunes. Other beggars are called Nityula (Nitiyadāsu, immortal). In some places, Tsākalas (washerman caste) will wash for the Mālas, but the clothes must be steeped in water, and left till the Tsākala comes for them. The Mālas will not eat food prepared or touched by Kamsalas, Mēdaras, Mādigas, Bēri Chettis, Bōyas, or Bhatrāzus. The condition of the Mālas has, in recent times, been ameliorated by their reception into mission schools.

In a case, which came before the High Court of Madras on appeal a few years ago, a Māla, who was a convert to Christianity, was sentenced to confinement in the stocks for using abusive language. The Judge, in summing up, stated that “the test seems to be not what is the offender’s creed, whether Muhammadan, Christian, or Hindu, but what is his caste. If he belongs to one of the lower castes, a change of creed would not of itself, in my judgment, make any difference, provided he continues to belong to the caste. If he continues to accept the rules of the caste in social and moral matters, acknowledges the authority of the headmen, takes part in caste meetings and ceremonies, and, in fact, generally continues to belong to the castes, then, in my judgment, he would be within the purview of the regulation. If, on the other hand, he adopts the moral standards of Christianity instead of those in his caste, if he accepts the authority of his pastors and teachers in place of that of the headman of the caste, if he no longer takes part in the distinctive meetings and [332]ceremonies of the caste ... then he can no longer be said to belong to one of the lower castes of the people, and his punishment by confinement in the stocks is no longer legal.”

Between the Mālas and Mādigas there is no love lost, and the latter never allow the former, on the occasion of a festival, to go in palanquins or ride on horseback. Quite recently, in the Nellore district, a horse was being led at the head of a Mādiga marriage procession, and the Mālas followed, to see whether the bridegroom would mount it. To the disgust of the Mādigas, the young man refused to get on it, from fear lest he should fall off.

The Mālas will not touch leather shoes, and, if they are slippered with them, a fine is inflicted, and the money spent on drink.

Of the share which the Mālas take in a village festival in the Cuddapah district, an excellent account is given by Bishop Whitehead.24 “The village officials and leading ryots,” he writes, “collect money for the festival, and buy, among other things, a barren sheep and two lambs. Peddamma and Chinnamma are represented by clay images of female form made for the occasion, and placed in a temporary shrine of cloth stretched over four poles. On the appointed evening, rice is brought, and poured out in front of the idol by the potter, and rice, ghī (clarified butter), and curds are poured on the top of it. The victims are then brought, and their heads cut off by a washerman. The heads are placed on the ground before the idol. The people then pour water on the heads, and say ‘speak’ (paluku). If the mouth opens, it is regarded as a sign that the goddess is [333]propitious. Next, a large pot of boiled cholam (millet) is brought, and poured in a heap before the image, a little further away than the rice. Two buffaloes are then brought by the Mālas and Mādigas. One of the Mālas, called the Asādi, chants the praises of the goddess during the ceremony. The animals are killed by a Mādiga, by cutting their throats with a knife, one being offered to Peddamma, and the other to Chinnamma. Some of the cholam is then taken in baskets, and put under the throat of the buffaloes till it is soaked with blood, and then put aside. A Mādiga then cuts off the heads of the buffaloes with a sword, and places them before the idol. He also cuts off one of the forelegs of each, and puts it crosswise in the mouth. Some of the cholam is then put on the two heads, and two small earthen saucers are put upon it. The abdomens are then cut open, and some of the fat taken out, melted, and put in each saucer with a lighted wick. A layer of fat is spread over the eyes and mouths of the two heads, some of the refuse of the stomach is mixed with the cholam soaked in blood, and a quantity of margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves put over the cholam. The Asādi then takes some of this mixture, and sprinkles it round the shrine, saying ‘Ko, bali,’ i.e., accept the sacrifice. Then the basket is given to another Māla, who asks permission from the village officials and ryots to sprinkle the cholam. He also asks that a lamb may be killed. The lamb is killed by a washerman, and the blood allowed to flow into the cholam in the basket. The bowels of the lamb are taken out, and tied round the wrist of the Māla who holds the basket, and puts it round his neck. He then goes and sprinkles the cholam mixed with blood, etc., in some cases round the village, and in others before each house, shouting ‘Ko, bali’ as he goes. The people go in [334]procession with him, carrying swords and clubs to drive away evil spirits. During the procession, limes are cut in half, and thrown into the air to propitiate evil spirits. Other lambs are killed at intervals during the course of the procession. In the afternoon, the carcases of the two buffaloes offered the night before are taken away by the Mālas and Mādigas. One is cut open, and some of the flesh cooked near the shrine. Part of it, with some of the cholam offered before the images, is given to five Māla children, called Siddhulu, i.e., holy or sinless, who, in some cases, are covered with a cloth during the meal. The rest is eaten by Mālas. The remainder of the carcases is divided among the Mālas and Mādigas, who take it to their own homes for a feast. The carcases of the lambs belong to the Mālas and washermen. The carcase of the barren sheep is the perquisite of the village officials, though the Kurnam, being a Brāhmin, gives his portion away.”

At a festival to the village goddess which is held at Dowlaishweram in the Godāvari district once every three years, a buffalo is sacrificed. “Votive offerings of pots of buttermilk are presented to the goddess, who is taken outside the village, and the pots are emptied there. The head of the buffalo and a pot of its blood are carried round the village by a Māla, and a pig is sacrificed in an unusual and cruel manner. It is buried up to its neck, and cattle are driven over it until it is trampled to death. This is supposed to ensure the health of men and cattle in the ensuing year.”25

In connection with a village festival in the Godāvari district, Bishop Whitehead writes as follows.26 “At Ellore, which is a town of considerable size and [335]importance, I was told that in the annual festival of Mahālakshmi about ten thousand animals are killed in one day, rich people sending as many as twenty or thirty. The blood then flows down into the fields behind the place of sacrifice in a regular flood, and carts full of sand are brought to cover up what remains on the spot. The heads are piled up in a heap about fifteen feet high in front of the shrine, and a large earthen basin, about 1½ feet in diameter, is then filled with gingelly oil and put on the top of the heap, a thick cotton wick being placed in the basin and lighted. The animals are all worshipped with the usual namaskaram (folded hands raised to the forehead) before they are killed. This slaughter of victims goes on all day, and at midnight about twenty or twenty-five buffaloes are sacrificed, their heads being cut off by a Mādiga pūjāri (priest), and, together with the carcases, thrown upon the large heaps of rice, which have been presented to the goddess, till the rice is soaked with blood. The rice is collected in about ten or fifteen large baskets, and is carried on a large cart drawn by buffaloes or bullocks, with the Mādiga pūjāri seated on it. Mādigas sprinkle the rice along the streets and on the walls of the houses, as the cart goes along, shouting poli, poli (food). A large body of men of different castes, Pariahs and Sudras, go with the procession, but only the Mādigas and Mālas (the two sections of the Pariahs) shout poli, the rest following in silence. They have only two or three torches to show them the way, and no tom-toms or music. Apparently the idea is that, if they make a noise or display a blaze of lights, they will attract the evil spirits, who will swoop down on them and do them some injury, though in other villages it is supposed that a great deal of noise and flourishing of sticks will keep the evil spirits at bay. [336]Before the procession starts, the heads of the buffaloes are put in front of the shrine, with the right forelegs in their mouths, and the fat from the entrails smeared about half an inch thick over the whole face, and a large earthen lamp on the top of each head. The Pambalas play tom-toms, and chant a long story about Gangamma till daybreak, and about 8 A.M. they put the buffalo heads into separate baskets with the lighted lamps upon them, and these are carried in procession through the town to the sound of tom-toms. All castes follow, shouting and singing. In former times, I was told, there was a good deal of fighting and disturbance during this procession, but now the police maintain order. When the procession arrives at the municipal limits, the heads are thrown over the boundary, and left there. The people then all bathe in the canal, and return home. On the last day of the festival, which, I may remark, lasts for about three months, a small cart is made of margosa wood, and a stake fixed at each of the four corners, and a pig and a fowl are tied to each stake, while a fruit, called dubakaya, is impaled on it instead of the animal. A yellow cloth, sprinkled with the blood of the buffaloes, is tied round the sides of the cart, and some margosa leaves are tied round the cloth. A Pambala sits on the cart, to which are fastened two large ropes, each about 200 yards long. Then men of all castes, without distinction, lay hold of the ropes, and drag the cart round the town to the sound of tom-toms and music. Finally it is brought outside the municipal limits and left there, the Pariahs taking away the animals and fruits.”

The following detailed account of the Peddamma or Sunkulamma jātra (festival) in the Kurnool district, is given in the Manual. “This is a ceremony strictly [337]local, in which the entire community of a village takes part, and which all outsiders are excluded from participating in. It is performed whenever a series of crops successively fail or cattle die in large numbers of murrain, and is peculiarly adapted, by the horrible nature of the attendant rites and the midnight hour chosen for the exhibition of its most ghastly scenes, to impress the minds of an ignorant people with a belief in its efficacy. When the celebration of the jātra is resolved on, a dark Tuesday night is selected for it, and subscriptions are collected and deposited with the Reddi (headman) or some respectable man in the village. Messengers are sent off to give intimation of the day fixed for the jātra to the Bynēnivādu, Bhutabaligādu, and Poturāju, three of the principal actors in the ceremony. At the same time a buffalo is purchased, and, after having its horns painted with saffron (turmeric) and adorned with margosa leaves, is taken round the village in procession with tom-toms beating, and specially devoted to the sacrifice of the goddess Peddamma or Sunkulamma on the morning of the Tuesday on which the ceremony is to take place. The village potter and carpenter are sent for, and ordered to have ready by that evening two images of the goddess, one of clay and the other of juvi wood, and a new cloth and a quantity of rice and dholl (peas: Cajanus indicus) are given to each of them. When the images are made, they are dressed with the new cloths, and the rice and dholl are cooked and offered as naivēdyam to the images. In some villages only one image, of clay, is made. Meanwhile the villagers are busy erecting a pandal (booth) in front of the village chāvidi (caste meeting-house), underneath which a small temple is erected of cholam straw. The Bynēnivādu takes a handful of earth, and places it inside this little temple, and [338]the village washerman builds a small pyal (dais) with it, and decorates it with rati (streaks of different coloured powders). New pots are distributed by the potter to the villagers, who, according to their respective capabilities, have a large or small quantity of rice cooked in them, to be offered as kumbham at the proper time. After dark, when these preparations are over, the entire village community, including the twelve classes of village servants, turn out in a body, and, preceded by the Bynēnivādu and Asādivandlu, proceed in procession with music playing to the house of the village potter. There the image of the goddess is duly worshipped, and a quantity of raw rice is tied round it with a cloth. A ram is sacrificed on the spot, and several limes are cut and thrown away. Borne on the shoulders of the potter, the image is then taken through the streets of the village, Bynēnivādu and Asādivandlu dancing and capering all the way, and the streets being drenched with the blood of several rams sacrificed at every turning of the road, and strewed with hundreds of limes cut and thrown away. The image is then finally deposited in the temple of straw already referred to, and another sheep is sacrificed as soon as this is done. The wooden image, made by the carpenter, is also brought in with the same formalities, and placed by the side of the image of clay. A pot of toddy is similarly brought in from the house of the Īdigavādu (toddy-drawer), and set before the images. Now the dēvarapōtu, or buffalo specially devoted to the sacrifice of the goddess, is led in from the Reddi’s house in procession, together with a sheep and a large pot of cooked rice. The rice in the pot is emptied in front of the images and formed into a heap, which is called the kumbham, and to it are added the contents of many new pots, which the villagers have ready filled with cooked [339]rice. The sheep is then sacrificed, and its blood shed on the heap. Next comes the turn of the dēvarapōtu, the blood of which also, after it has been killed, is poured over the rice heap. This is followed by the slaughter of many more buffaloes and sheep by individuals of the community, who might have taken vows to offer sacrifices to the goddess on this occasion. While the carnage is going on, a strict watch is kept on all sides, to see that no outsider enters the village, or steals away any portion of the blood of the slaughtered animals, as it is believed that all the benefit which the villagers hope to reap from the performance of the jātra will be lost to them if an outsider should succeed in taking away a little of the blood to his village. The sacrifice being over, the head and leg of one of the slaughtered buffaloes are severed from its body, and placed before the goddess with the leg inserted into the mouth of the head. Over this head is placed a lighted lamp, which is fed with oil and buffalo’s fat. Now starts a fresh procession to go round the village streets. A portion of the kumbham or blood-stained rice heaped up before the image is gathered into two or three baskets, and carried with the procession by washermen or Mādigas. The Bhutabaligādu now steps forward in a state of perfect nudity, with his body clean shaven from top to toe, and smeared all over with gore, and, taking up handfuls of rice (called poli) from the baskets, scatters them broadcast over the streets. As the procession passes on, bhutams or supernatural beings are supposed to become visible at short distances to the carriers of the rice baskets, who pretend to fall into trances, and, complaining of thirst, call for more blood to quench it. Every time this happens, a fresh sheep is sacrificed, and sometimes limes are cut and thrown in their way. The main streets being thus [340]sprinkled over with poli or blood-stained rice, the lanes or gulleys are attended to by the washermen of the village, who give them their share of the poli. By this time generally the day dawns, and the goddess is brought back to her straw temple, where she again receives offerings of cooked rice from all classes of people in the village, Brāhmins downwards. All the while, the Asādivandlu keep singing and dancing before the goddess. As the day advances, a pig is half buried at the entrance of the village, and all the village cattle are driven over it. The cattle are sprinkled over with poli as they pass over the pig. The Poturāju then bathes and purifies himself, and goes to the temple of Lingamayya or Siva with tom-toms and music, and sacrifices a sheep there. The jātra ends with another grand procession, in which the images of the goddess, borne on the heads of the village potter and carpenter, are carried to the outskirts of the village, where they are left. As the villagers return home, they pull to pieces the straw temple constructed in front of the chāvidi, and each man takes home a straw, which he preserves as a sacred relic. From the day the ceremony is commenced in the village till its close, no man would go to a neighbouring village, or, if he does on pressing business, he would return to sleep in his own village. It is believed that the performance of this jātra will ensure prosperity and health to the villagers and their cattle.

“The origin of this Sunkulamma jātra is based on the following legend, which is sung by the Bynēni and Asādivandlu when they dance before the images. Sunkulamma was the only daughter of a learned Brāhmin pandit, who occasionally took pupils, and instructed them in the Hindu shastras gratuitously. One day, a handsome youth of sixteen years came to the pandit, [341]and, announcing himself as the son of a Brāhmin of Benares come in quest of knowledge, requested that he might be enlisted as a pupil of the pandit. The pandit, not doubting the statement of the youth that he was a Brāhmin, took him as a pupil, and lodged him in his own house. The lad soon displayed marks of intelligence, and, by close application to his studies, made such rapid progress that he became the principal favourite of his master, who was so much pleased with him that, at the close of his studies, he married him to his daughter Sunkulamma. The unknown youth stayed with his father-in-law till he became father of some children, when he requested permission to return to his native place with his wife and children, which was granted, and he accordingly started on his homeward journey. On the way he met a party of Māla people, who, recognising him at once as a man of their own caste and a relation, accosted him, and began to talk to him familiarly. Finding it impossible to conceal the truth from his wife any longer, the husband of Sunkulamma confessed to her that he was a Mala by caste, and, being moved by a strong desire to learn the Hindu shastras, which he was forbidden to read, he disguised himself as a Brāhmin youth, and introduced himself to her father and compassed his object; and, as what had been done in respect to her could not be undone, the best thing she could do was to stay with him with her children. Sunkulamma, however, was not to be so persuaded. Indignant at the treachery practiced on her and her parent, she spurned both her husband and children, and returning to her village, sent for her parent, whose house she would not pollute by going in, and asked him what he would do with a pot denied by the touch of a dog. The father replied that he would commit it to the flames [342]to purify it. Taking the hint, she caused a funeral pile to be erected, and committed suicide by throwing herself into the flames. But, before doing so, she cursed the treacherous Māla who bad polluted her that he might become a buffalo, and his children turn into sheep, and vowed she would revive as an evil spirit, and have him and his children sacrificed to her, and get his leg put into his mouth, and a light placed on his head fed with his own fat.”

The following additional information in connection with the jātra may be recorded. In some places, on a Tuesday fifteen days before the festival, some Mālas go in procession through the main streets of the village without any noise or music. This is called mūgi chātu (dumb announcement). On the following Tuesday, the Mālas go through the streets, beating tom-toms, and proclaiming the forthcoming ceremony. This is called chātu (announcement). In some villages, metal idols are used. The image is usually in the custody of a Tsākala (washerman). On the jātra day, he brings it fully decorated, and sets it up on the Gangamma mitta (Gangamma’s dais). In some places, this is a permanent structure, and in others put up for the jātra at a fixed spot. Āsādis, Pambalas, and Bainēdus, and Mādiga Kommula vāndlu (horn-blowers) dance and sing until the goddess is lifted up from the dais, when a number of burning torches are collected together, and some resinous material is thrown into the flames. At the same time, a cock is killed, and waved in front of the goddess by the Tsākala. A mark is made with the blood on the forehead of the idol, which is removed to a hut constructed by Mālas with twigs of margosa (Melia Azadirachta), Eugenia Jambolana and Vitex Negundo. In some villages, when the goddess is brought in [343]procession to the outskirts of the village, a stick is thrown down in front of her. The Āsādis then sing songs, firstly of a most obscene character, and afterwards in praise of the goddess.

The following account of “the only Māla ascetic in Bharatavarsha” (India) is given by Mr. M. N. Vincent.27 The ascetic was living on a hill in Bezwāda, at the foot of which lay the hamlets of the Mālas. The man, Govindoo by name, “was a groom in the employ of a Muhammadan Inspector of Police, and he was commissioned on one occasion to take a horse to a certain town. He was executing his commission, when, on the way, and not far from his destination, the animal shied and fell into the Krishna river, and was swept along the current, and poor Govindoo could not help it. But, knowing the choleric temper of his employer, and in order to avoid a scolding, he roamed at large, and eventually fell in with a company of Sādhus, one of whose disciples he became, and practiced austerities, though not for the full term, and settled eventually on the hill where we saw him occupying the old cave dwelling of a former Sādhu. It appears that there was something earthly in the man, Sādhu though he was, as was evidenced from his relations with a woman votary or disciple, and it was probably because of this phase of his character that some people regarded him as a cheat and a rogue. But this unfavourable impression was soon removed, and, since the time he slept on a bed of sharp thorns, as it were in vindication of his character, faulty though it had been, he has been honoured. A good trait in the man should be mentioned, namely, that he wrote to his parents to give his wife in [344]marriage to some one else, as he had renounced his worldly ties.”

At Vānavōlu, in the Hindupūr tāluk of the Anantapūr district, there is a temple to Rangaswāmi, at which the pūjari (priest) is a Māla. People of the upper castes frequent it, but do their own pūja, the Māla standing aside for the time.28

It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that the chief object of worship by the Balijas is Gauri, their caste deity. “It is said that the Mālas are the hereditary custodians of the idol of Gauri and her jewels, which the Balijas get from them whenever they want to worship her. The following story is told to account for this. The Kāpus and the Balijas, molested by the Muhammadan invaders on the north of the river Pennār, migrated to the south when the Pennār was in full flood. Being unable to cross the river, they invoked their deity to make a passage for them, for which it demanded the sacrifice of a first-born child. While they stood at a loss what to do, the Mālas, who followed them, boldly offered one of their children to the goddess. Immediately the river divided before them, and the Kāpus and the Balijas crossed it, and were saved from the tyranny of the Muhammadans. Ever since that time, the Mālas have been respected by the Kāpus and Balijas, and the latter even deposited the images of Gauri, the bull and Ganēsa, which they worshipped in the house of a Māla. I am credibly informed that the practice of leaving these images in the custody of Mālas is even now observed in some parts of Cuddapah district and elsewhere.”

An expert Māla medicine-man has been known to prescribe for a Brāhman tahsildar (revenue officer), [345]though the consultation was conducted at a most respectful distance on the part of the honoured physician.

Māla weavers are known as Netpanivandlu (Nethapani, weaving work). According to the Census Report, 1891, the sub-divisions of the Mālas, which are numerically strongest, are Arava, Kanta, Murikinādu, Pākanāti, and Reddi Bhūmi. To these may be added Sarindla, Sāvu, Sāindla, and Dāindla. Concerning some of these divisions, the following legend is current. A Māla married eighteen wives, one from each kulam or tribal division. The god Poleramma, objecting to the sacrifice of sheep and goats, wanted him to offer up a woman and child in substitution for the animals, and the Māla broke the news to his wives, one of whom eloped with a Reddi, and gave origin to the Reddi Bhūmis (bhūmi, earth). Another ran away, and gave rise to the Pākanātis (eastern country). A third hid herself, and escaped by hiding. Hence her descendants are called Dāindla vāndlu, concerning whom there is a proverb “Dagipoyina vāndlu Dāindla vāndlu” or “Those who escaped by hiding are Dāindlas.” One of the wives, who fled to the forest, found her way out by clearing the jungle, and her descendants are called Sarindla (straight). The wife who consented to be sacrificed with her child was restored to life by Poleramma, and gave rise to the Sāvu (death) or Sāindla (belonging to a death house) section. The Dāindlas are said to be Tamil Paraiyans, who settled down in the Telugu country, and adopted the manners and customs of the Mālas. Some call themselves Arava (Tamil) Mālas. They are employed as servants in European houses, horse-keepers, etc.

In connection with the origin of the Mālas, the Rev. S. Nicholson writes as follows. “Originally the Mālas belonged to the kudi paita section of the community, [346]i.e., their women wore the cloth over the right shoulder, but now there are both right and left paita sections, and this must be taken as the principal division. The right-hand (right paita) section is again divided into (a) Reddi Bhūmalavaru, (b) Pōkunātivaru. The left-hand (left paita) section are Murikinātivaru. The following legend professes to account for the existence of the three divisions. When Vīrabahuvu went to the rescue of Harischandra, he promised Kāli that, if she granted him success, he would sacrifice to her his wives, of whom he had three. Accordingly, after his conquest of Vishvamithrudu, he returned, and called his wives that he might take them to the temple in order to fulfil his vow. The wives got some inkling of what was in store for them, and one of them took refuge in the house of a Reddi Bhūmala, another ran away to the eastern country (Pōkunāti), while the third, though recently confined, and still in her dirty (muriki) cloth, determined to abide by the wish of her lord. She was, therefore, sacrificed to Kāli, but the goddess, seeing her devotion, restored her to life, and promised to remain for ever her helper. The reason given for the change in the method of wearing the cloth is that, after the incident described above took place, the women of the Murikināti section, in order to express their disapproval of the two unfaithful wives, began to wear their cloths on the opposite, viz., the left, shoulder. In marriages, however, whatever the paita of the bride, she must wear the cloth over the right shoulder.

“The Reddi Bhūmalu and Pōkunātivāru say that the reason they wear the cloth over the right shoulder is that they are descendants of the gods. According to a legend, the goddess Parvati, whilst on a journey with her lord Paramēshvarudu, discarded one of her unclean [347](maila) cloths, from which was born a little boy. This boy was engaged as a cattle-herd in the house of Paramēshvarudu. Parvati received strict injunctions from her lord that she should on no account allow the little Māla to taste cream. One day, however, the boy discovered some cream which had been scraped from the inside of the pot sticking to a wall. He tasted it, and found it good. Indeed, so good was it that he came to the conclusion that the udder from which it came must be even better still. So one day, in order to test his theory, he killed the cow. Then came Paramēshvarudu in great anger, and asked him what he had done, and, to his credit be it said, the boy told the truth. Then Paramēshvarudu cursed the lad and all his descendants, and said that from henceforth cattle should be the meat of the Mālas—the unclean.”

The Mālas have, in their various sub-divisions, many exogamous septs, of which the following are examples:—

(a) Reddi Bhūmi.

  • Avuka, marsh.
  • Bandi, cart.
  • Bommala, dolls.
  • Bejjam, holes.
  • Dakku, fear.
  • Dhidla, platform or back-door.
  • Dhōma, gnat or mosquito.
  • Gēra, street.
  • Kaila, measuring grain in threshing-floor.
  • Kātika, collyrium.
  • Naththalu, snails.
  • Paida, money or gold.
  • Pilli, cat.
  • Rāyi, stone.
  • Samūdrala, ocean.
  • Sīlam, good conduct.
  • Thanda, bottom of a ship.

(b) Pōkunāti.

  • Allam, ginger.
  • Dara, stream of water.
  • Gādi, cart.
  • Gōne, sack.
  • Gurram, horse.
  • Maggam, loom.
  • Mailāri, washerman.
  • Parvatha, mountain.
  • Pindi, flour-powder.
  • Pasala, cow.
  • Thummala, sneezing.


(c) Sarindla.

  • Boori, a kind of cake.
  • Ballem, spear.
  • Bomidi, a fish.
  • Challa, butter milk.
  • Chinthala, tamarind.
  • Duddu, money.
  • Gāli, wind.
  • Karna, ear.
  • Kāki, crow.
  • Mudi, knot.
  • Maddili, drum.
  • Malle, jasmine.
  • Putta, ant-hill.
  • Pamula, snake.
  • Pidigi, handful.
  • Semmati, hammer.
  • Uyyala, see-saw.

(d) Dāindla.

  • Dāsari, priest.
  • Doddi, court or backyard.
  • Gonji, Glycosmis pentaphylla.
  • Kommala, horn.
  • Marri, Ficus bengalensis.
  • Pala, milk.
  • Powāku, tobacco.
  • Thumma, Acacia arabica.

Concerning the home of the Mālas, Mr. Nicholson writes that “the houses (with mud or stone walls, roofed with thatch or palmyra palm leaves) are almost invariably placed quite apart from the village proper. Gradually, as the caste system and fear of defilement become less, so gradually the distance of their houses from the village is becoming less. In the Ceded Districts, where from early times every village was surrounded by a wall and moat, the aloofness of the houses is very apparent. Gradually, however, the walls are decaying, and the moats are being filled, and the physical separation of the outcaste classes is becoming less apparent.”

Mr. Nicholson writes further that “according to their own traditions, as told still by the old people and the religious mendicants, in former times the Mālas were a tribe of free lances, who, ‘like the tiger, slept during the day, and worked at night.’ They were evidently the paid mercenaries of the Poligars (feudal chiefs), and carried out raids and committed robberies for the lord [349]under whose protection they were. That this tradition has some foundation may be gathered from the fact that many of the house-names of the Mālas refer to weapons of war, e.g., spear, drum, etc. If reports are true, the old instinct is not quite dead, and even to-day a cattle-stealing expedition comes not amiss to some. The Mālas belong to the subjugated race, and have been made into the servants of the community. Very probably, in former days, their services had to be rendered for nothing, but later certain inām (rent-free) lands were granted, the produce of which was counted as remuneration for service rendered. Originally, these lands were held quite free of taxation, but, since the advent of the British Rāj, the village servants have all been paid a certain sum per month, and, whilst still allowed the enjoyment of their inām lands, they have now been assessed, and half the actual tax has to be paid to Government. The services rendered by the Mālas are temple service, jātra or festival service, and village service. The village service consists of sweeping, scavenging, carrying burdens, and grave-digging, the last having been their perquisite for long ages. According to them, the right was granted to them by King Harischandra himself. The burial-grounds are supposed to belong to the Mālas, and the site of a grave must be paid for, the price varying according to the position and wealth of the deceased, but I hear that, in our part of the country, the price does not often exceed two pence. Though the Brāhmans do not bury, yet they must pay a fee of one rupee for the privilege of burning, besides the fee for carrying the body to the ghāt. There is very little respect shown by the Mālas at the burning-ghāt, and the fuel is thrown on with jokes and laughter. The Mālas dig graves for all castes which bury, except [350]Muhammadans, Oddēs, and Mādigas. Not only on the day of burial, but afterwards on the two occasions of the ceremonies for the dead, the grave-diggers must be given food and drink. The Mālas are also used as death messengers to relatives by all the Sūdra castes. When on this work, the messenger must not on any account go to the houses of his relatives though they live in the village to which he has been sent.

“The chief occupations of the Mālas are weaving, and working as farm labourers for Sūdras; a few cultivate their own land. Though formerly their inām lands were extensive, they have been, in the majority of cases, mortgaged away. The Mālas of the western part of the Telugu country are of a superior type to those of the east, and they have largely retained their lands, and, in some cases, are well-to-do cultivators. In the east, weaving is the staple industry, and it is still carried on with the most primitive instruments. In one corner of a room stands the loom, with a hole in the mud floor to receive the treadles, and a little window in the wall, level with the floor, lights the web. The loom itself is slung from the rafters, and the whole can be folded up and put away in a corner. As a rule, weaving lasts for eight months of the year, the remainder of the year being occupied in reaping and stacking crops, etc. Each weaver has his own customers, and very often one family of Mālas will have weaved for one family of Sūdras for generations. Before starting to weave, the weaver worships his loom, and rubs his shuttle on his nose, which is supposed to make it smooth. Those who cannot weave subsist by day labour. As a rule, they stick to one master, and are engaged in cultivation all the year round. Many, having borrowed money from [351]some Sūdra, are bound to work for him for a mere pittance, and that in grain, not cash.”

In a note on a visit to Jammalamadugu in the Cuddapah district, Bishop Whitehead writes as follows.29 “Lately Mr. Macnair has made an effort to improve the methods of weaving, and he showed us some looms that he had set up in his compound to teach the people the use of a cheap kind of fly-shuttle to take the place of the hand-shuttle which is universally used by the people. The difficulties he has met with are characteristic of many attempts to improve on the customs and methods of India. At present the thread used for the hand-shuttle is spun by the Māla women from the ordinary cotton produced in the district. The Māla weavers do not provide their own cotton for the clothes they weave, but the Kāpus give them the cotton from their own fields, pay the women a few annas for spinning it, and then pay the men a regular wage for weaving it into cloth. But the cotton spun in the district is not strong enough for the fly-shuttle, which can only be profitably worked with mill-made thread. The result is that, if the fly-shuttle were generally adopted, it would leave no market for the native cotton, throw the women out of work, upset the whole system on which the weavers work, and, in fact, produce widespread misery and confusion!”

The following detailed account of the ceremonies in connection with marriage, many of which are copied from the higher Telugu castes, is given by Mr. Nicholson. “Chinna Tāmbūlam (little betel) is the name given to the earliest arrangements for a future wedding. The parents of the boy about to be married enquire of a [352]Brāhman to which quarter they should go in search of a bride. He, after receiving his pay, consults the boy’s horoscope, and then tells them that in a certain quarter there is loss, in another quarter there is death, but that in another quarter there is gain or good. If in the quarter which the Brāhman has intimated as good there are relations, so much the better; the bride will be sought amongst them. If not, the parents of the youth, along with an elder of the caste, set out in search of a bride amongst new people. On reaching the village, they do not make their object known, but let it appear that they are on ordinary business. Having discovered a house in which there is a marriageable girl, after the ordinary salutations, they, in a round-about way, make enquiries as to whether the warasa or marriage line is right or not. If it is all right, and if at that particular time the girl’s people are in a prosperous condition, the object of the search is made known. If, on the other hand, the girl’s people are in distress or grief, the young man’s party go away without making their intention known. Everything being satisfactory, betel nut and leaves are offered, and, if the girl’s people are willing to contract, they accept it; if not, and they refuse, the search has to be resumed. We will take it for granted that the betel is accepted. The girl’s parents then say ‘If it is God’s will, so let it be; return in eight or nine days, and we will give you our answer.’ If, within that time, there should be death or trouble of any sort in either of the houses, all arrangements are abandoned. If, when going to pay the second visit, on the journey any of the party should drop on the way either staff or bundle of food, it is regarded as a bad omen, and further progress is stopped for that day. After reaching the house of the prospective bride on the second occasion, [353]the party wait outside. Should the parents of the girl bring out water for them to drink and to wash their faces, it is a sign that matters may be proceeded with. Betel is again distributed. In the evening, the four parents and the elders talk matters over, and, if all is so far satisfactory, they promise to come to the house of the future bridegroom on a certain date. The boy’s parents, after again distributing betel, this time to every house of the caste, take their departure. When the party of the bride arrive at the boy’s village, they are treated to toddy and a good feed, after which they give their final promise. Then, having made arrangements for the Pedda Tāmbūlam (big betel), they take their departure. This ends the first part of the negotiations. Chinna Tāmbūlam is not binding. The second part of the negociations, which is called Pedda Tāmbūlam, takes place at the home of the future bride. Before departing for the ceremony, the party of the bridegroom, which must be an odd number but not seven, and some of the elders of the village, take part in a feast. The members of the party put on their religious marks, daub their necks and faces with sandal paste and akshinthulu (coloured rice), and are sent off with the good wishes of the villagers. After the party has gone some few miles, it is customary for them to fortify themselves with toddy, and to distribute betel. The father of the groom takes with him as a present for the bride a bodice, fried dal (pea: Cajanus indicus), cocoanut, rice, jaggery, turmeric, dates, ghī, etc. On arrival at the house, the party wait outside, until water is brought for their faces and feet. After the stains of travel have been washed off, the presents are given, and the whole assembly proceeds to the toddy shop. On their return, the Chalavādhi (caste servant) tells [354]them to which households betel must be presented, after which the real business commences. The party of the bridegroom, the people of the bride, the elders of the caste, and one person from each house in the caste quarter, are present. A blanket is spread on the floor, and grains of rice are arranged on it according to a certain pattern. This is the bridal throne. After bathing, the girl is arrayed in an old cloth, and seated on a weaver’s beam placed upon the blanket, with her face towards the east. Before seating herself, however, she must worship towards the setting sun. In her open hands betel is placed, along with the dowry (usually about sixteen rupees) brought by her future father-in-law. As the bride sits thus upon the throne, the respective parents question one another, the bride’s parents as to the groom, what work he does, what jewels he will give, etc. Whatever other jewels are given or not, the groom is supposed to give a necklace of silver and beads, and a gold nose jewel. As these things are being talked over, some one winds 101 strands of thread, without twisting it, into a circle about the size of a necklace, and then ties on it a peculiar knot. After smearing with turmeric, it is given into the hands of the girl’s maternal uncle, who, while holding his hands full of betel, asks first the girl’s parents, and then the whole community if there is any objection to the match. If all agree, he must then worship the bridal throne, and, without letting any of the betel in his hands fall, place the necklace round the bride’s neck. Should any of the betel fall, it is looked upon as a very bad omen, and the man is fined. After this part of the performance is over, and after teasing the bride, the uncle raises her to her feet, and, taking from her hands the dowry, etc., sends her off. After distributing betel to every one in the [355]village, even unborn babies being counted, the ceremony ends, and, after the usual feast has been partaken of, the people all depart to their various homes.

“The wedding, contrary to the previous ceremonies, takes place at the home of the bridegroom. A Brāhman is asked to tell a day on which the omens are favourable, for which telling he receives a small fee. A few days before the date foretold, the house is cleaned, the floor cow-dunged, and the walls are whitewashed. In order that the evil eye may be warded off, two marks are made, one on each side of the door, with oil and charcoal mixed. Then the clothes of the bride and bridegroom are made ready. These, as a rule, are yellow and white, but on no account must there be any indigo in them, as that would be a sign of death. The grain and betel required for the feast, a toe-ring for the bridegroom, and a tāli (marriage badge) for the bride, are then purchased. The toe-ring is worn on the second toe of the right foot, and the tāli, which is usually about the size of a sixpence, is worn round the woman’s neck. The goldsmith is paid for these not only in coin, but also in grain and betel, after receiving which he blesses the jewels he has made, and presents them to the people. Meanwhile, messengers have been sent, with the usual presents, to the bride’s people and friends, to inform them that the auspicious day has been fixed, and bidding them to the ceremony. In all probability, before the preparations mentioned above are complete, all the money the bridegroom’s people have saved will be expended. But there is seldom any difficulty in obtaining a loan. It is considered an act of great merit to advance money for a wedding, and people of other and richer castes are quite ready to lend the amount required. In former days, it was customary to give these loans free of interest, [356]but it is not so now. The next item is the preparation of the pandal or bower. This is generally erected a day or two before the actual marriage in front of the house. It consists of four posts, one at each corner, and the roof is thatched with the straw of large millet. All round are hung garlands of mango leaves, and cocoanut leaves are tied to the four posts. On the left side of the house door is planted a branch of a tree (Nerium odorum), to which is attached the kankanam made in the following way. A woollen thread and a cotton thread are twisted together, and to them are tied a copper finger-ring, a piece of turmeric root, and a betel leaf. The tree mentioned is watered every day, until the whole of the marriage ceremonies are completed. As a rule, the whole of the work in connection with the erection of the pandal is carried out by the elders, who receive in payment food and toddy. At this time, also, the fire-places for the cooking of the extra amount of food are prepared. These are simply trenches dug in the mud floor of the house, usually three in number. Before they are dug, a cocoanut is broken, and offered over the spot. A journey is now made to the potter’s for the pots required in the cooking of the marriage feast. This in itself is quite a ceremony. A canopy is formed of an ordinary wearing cloth supported at its four corners by four men, whilst a boy with a long stick pushes it into a tent shape in the middle. Beneath the canopy is one of the women of the bridegroom’s family, who carries on a tray two sacred lamps, an eight-anna piece, some saffron (turmeric), akshinthulu, betel, frankincense, cocoanut, etc. On arriving at the potter’s house, the required pots are placed in a row outside, and a cocoanut, which has been held in the smoke of the incense, is broken into two equal parts, the [357]two halves being placed on the ground about a yard apart. To these all the people do pūja (worship), and then take up the pots, and go home. The eight-anna piece is given to the potter, and the betel to the Chalavādhi. On the way to the potter’s, and on the return thence, the procession is accompanied with music, and the women sing songs. Meanwhile, the groom, and those who have remained at home, have been worshipping the goddess Sunkalamma. The method of making this goddess, and its worship, are as follows. Rice and green gram are cooked together, and with this cooked food a cone is made minus the point. A little hollow is made on the top, and this is filled with ghī (clarified butter), onions, and dal. Four wicks are put into it, so forming a lamp. A nose jewel is stuck somewhere on the outside of the lump, two garlands are placed round it, and the whole is decorated with religious marks. This goddess is always placed in the north-east corner of the house, called the god’s corner, which has been previously cleaned, and an image of Hanumān, or some other deity, is drawn with rice-powder on the floor. Upon this drawing the image of Sunkalamma is placed. Before her are put several little balls of rice, with which ghī has been mixed. The worship consists in making offerings of frankincense and camphor, and a cocoanut, which is broken in half, the halves being put in front of the goddess. A ram or a he-goat is now brought, nīm (Melia Azadirachta) leaves are tied round the horns, religious marks are made on the forehead, water is placed in its mouth, and it is then sacrificed. After the sacrifice has been made, those assembled prostrate themselves before the image for some time in silence, after which they go outside for a minute or two, and then, returning, divide the goddess, [358]and eat it. The groom now has his head shaved, and the priest cuts his finger and toe nails, eyelashes, etc. The cuttings are placed, along with a quarter of a rupee which he has kept in his mouth during the process, in an old winnowing tray, with a little lamp made of rice, betel and grain. The priest, facing west and with the bridegroom in front of him, makes three passes with the tray from the head to the foot. This is supposed to take away the evil eye. The priest then takes the tray away, all the people getting out of the way lest the blight should come on them. He throws away what is useless, but keeps the rest, especially the quarter of a rupee. After this little ceremony, the future husband takes a bath, but still keeps on his old clothes. He is given a knife, with which to keep away devils, and is garlanded with the garlands which were round the goddess. His toe-ring is put on, and the next ceremony, the propitiation of the dead, is proceeded with. The sacrificed animal is dismembered, and the bones, flesh, and intestines are put into separate pots, and cooked. Rice also is prepared, and placed in a heap, to which the usual offerings are made. Then rice, and some of the flesh from each pot, is placed upon two leaf plates. These are left before the heap of rice, with two lamps burning. The people all salute the rice, and proceed to eat it. The rice on the two plates is reserved for members of the family. By this time, the bride has most likely arrived in the village, but, up to this stage, will have remained in a separate house. She does not come to the feast mentioned above, but has a portion of food sent to her by the bridegroom’s people. After the feast, bride and bridegroom are each anointed in their separate houses with nalugu (uncooked rice and turmeric). When the anointing of the bride takes place, [359]the groom sends to her a cloth, a bodice, cocoanut, pepper and garlic. The bride leaves her parents’ house, dressed in old clothes. Her people provide only a pair of sandals, and two small toe-rings. She also carries a fair quantity of rice in the front fold of her cloth. Again a procession is formed as before for the cooking-pots, and another visit is paid to the potter’s house, but, on this occasion, in place of eight annas grain is taken. The potter presents them with two wide-mouthed pots, and four small-mouthed pots, two of which are decorated in four colours. As before, these are placed in a row outside, and again the party, after worshipping them, takes them to the bridegroom’s house. These pots are supposed to represent Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and, as they are being carried to the house, no pregnant woman or mother with small children should meet them, or they will have trouble. On arriving at the house, and before entering, a cock is sacrificed, and a cocoanut offered. [In some places, a goat is killed in front of the room in which the marriage pots are kept, and marks are made with the palms of the hands covered with the blood on the side-walls of the entrance.] Water is sprinkled on the door step, and the pots are taken inside. During the whole of the above performance, the pots are held in the hands, and must not be put down. After entering the house, grain is spread on the floor in the north-east corner, and upon this are placed the pots, one upon the other, in two or four rows. The topmost pot is covered with a lid, and on the lid is placed a lighted lamp. From the beams exactly above the lamps are suspended, to which are fastened small bundles containing dates, cocoanut, jaggery, sugar, and saffron. Round each pot is tied a kankanam (wrist-thread). These pots are worshipped every day as long [360]as the wedding ceremonies last, which is usually three days. Not only so, but the lamps are kept continually burning, and there is betel arranged in a brass pot in the form of a lotus ever before them. Beneath the pandal is now arranged a throne exactly similar to the one which was used on the occasion of the Pedda Tāmbūlam. Until now the bride has kept to her separate house, but she now dresses in her new clothes. Putting on the sandals she brought from her own home, she proceeds to the house of the bridegroom. There she waits in the pandal for her future husband, who comes out dressed in his wedding garments, wearing his sandals, and carrying a blanket, gōchi,30 shoulder-cloth, and knife. Both bride and bridegroom now have fastened on to their foreheads a kind of philactery or nuptial crown called bhāsingalu. They are also garlanded with flowers, in addition to which the bridegroom has tied on to his wrists the kankanam. In order that the two most intimately concerned persons may not see one another (and up to this point they have not done so), a screen is erected, the bride standing on one side, and the bridegroom on the other. As a rule, they each of them keep their heads bent during the whole of the proceedings, and look as miserable as possible. Indeed, it would be a breach of etiquette for either of them to appear as though they were enjoying the ceremony. Except for the screen, the two are now face to face, the groom looking towards the east, and the bride towards the west. Upon the bridal throne there is now placed for the bride to stand upon a basket filled with grain, and for the groom the beam of a loom. The screen is now taken away, and the priest, a Dāsari, asks [361]whether the elders, the Māla people generally, and the village as a whole, are in favour of the marriage. This he asks three times. Probably, in former times, it was possible to stop a marriage at this point, but now it is never done, and the marriage is practically binding after Pedda Tāmbūlam has been gone through. Indeed, in hard times, if the bride is of marriageable age, the couple will live together as man and wife, putting off the final ceremony until times are better. The groom now salutes the priest, the bride places her foot on the weaving beam, and the groom places his foot upon that of the woman as a token of his present and continued lordship. After this, the bride also is invested with the kankanam. After the groom has worshipped the four quarters of heaven, the priest, who holds in his hands a brass vessel of milk, hands the golden marriage token to the groom, who ties it round the bride’s neck. This is the first time during the ceremony that either of them has looked on the other. Before the groom ties the knot, he must ask permission from the priest and people three times. The priest now dips a twig of the jivi tree (Ficus Tsiela) into the milk, and hands it to the husband, who, crossing his hands over his wife’s head, allows some of the drops to fall upon her. The wife then does the same to the husband. After this, the rice which the bride brought with her in her lap is used in a similar blessing. The priest, holding in his hand a gold jewel, now takes the hands of the two in his, and repeats several passages (charms). Whoever wishes may now shower the pair with rice, and, after that is done, the priest publicly announces them to be man and wife. But the ceremonies are not yet ended. The newly-married pair, and all the assembled party, now proceed to the village shrine to [362]worship the god. Before doing so, the cloths of the newly-wed pair are tied together by the priest. This knot is called the Brahma knot, and is a sign that God had ordained the two to be man and wife even in a previous birth. After the god has been worshipped, and an offering of betel made to the four quarters, the party return to the house accompanied by weird music and much tom-tom. The women, as a rule, sing wedding songs, and the husband and wife are shaded by a canopy. Arrived at the threshold of the house, the fear of the evil eye is made the reason for another ceremony. Before either crosses the threshold, passes are made from their head to their feet with black and red water. On the threshold is placed a brass bowl full of grain, upon which is a gold nose jewel. The man and woman must each touch this with the right foot, after which they may enter the house without fear. After entering the house, the evil eye is again removed, this time with a cocoanut, which is afterwards thrown away. Those who have unlucky twists of hair must at this time, besides the above ceremony, sacrifice a goat. After entering the house, the whole party worship Lakshmi. Long ago, the tradition runs, this goddess was very gracious to the Mālas, and, in consequence, they were wealthy and prosperous. One day, however, Lakshmi went up to one of the chief men, who at that time was very busy at work upon a web of cloth, and began to make love to him. At any other time this would have been very acceptable, but just then, being very busy, he asked the goddess to go away. She, however, took no notice, and only bothered him the more. Whereupon, losing his temper, he hit her over the head with the heavy sizing brush which he was using. This hurt the feelings of Lakshmi to such an extent that she left the [363]Mālas, withdrew her favour, and transferred it to the Kōmatis. Since then, the Mālas have been poor. The husband next dips his hands into a plate of milk three times, each time placing his wet hand on the wall. After him, the bride does the same. The two then, sitting down, eat rice and milk off one plate. This is the first and only time that husband and wife eat together. The bāshingams are now taken off, and the wife is relieved from the burden of rice she has thus far carried in her lap. The next ceremony is called the Bhūmalu, and is a feast for the husband, his wife, and blood relations only. Not more than ten, and not less than six must partake, and these must all be husbands or wives, i.e., the party must consist of either three or five couples. The feast consists of the most expensive food the people can afford, and is eaten on two consecutive days. A blanket is spread on the floor, and on this raw rice is placed in a cloth, with betel leaves arranged in the form of a lotus at the four corners. Here and there are placed red rice, sandal, and turmeric, and a new lamp is lit. Three children are brought in, and are made to stand before the rice. The parties who are to partake now come in couples, and one of the children ties upon their wrists the kankanam, another daubs them with sandal paste, and another with red rice. The food is placed on two plates, one for the women and one for the males. All the women sit round the one, and the men round the other. Whilst eating, they must not drop a single grain. Should they do so, it is not only unlucky, but is also the cause of serious quarrels, and the fault is punishable with a heavy fine. After the feast is over, the heap of rice is worshipped, and the children are sent off with a little present each. The pair are again anointed with nalugu. This is done twice every day for three days, [364]but no widow is allowed to do it. Before anointing, the people about to do it must present a cocoanut and jaggery. When the cocoanut and jaggery are given, they must be in strips, and put into the bride’s mouth partly projecting. The groom must take hold of the projecting part with his teeth, and eat it. The same performance is gone through with betel leaf. A doll is now made with cloths, having arms, legs, etc. The newly-married couple are made to play with it, being much teased the while by the onlookers, who sing lullabys. The two now have their hands and feet anointed with turmeric, and are bathed. This is done on three consecutive days. On the third day is the nāgavalli. The bride and her husband are escorted under a canopy to some ant heap outside the village. The man digs a basketful of earth with his knife, which was given to him, and which he has never relinquished, and the wife carries it to the house. There the earth is made into four heaps, one near each post. A hollow is left at the top of each heap, which is filled with water. During the time they have been fetching the earth, the people who remained at home have been worshipping airēni pots representing Lakshmi, but they now come outside to the pandal. The pair are escorted all round the village, accompanied with music. They must not walk, but must be either carried or driven. After their return to the pandal, they are seated on the nāgavalli simhasanam. Four small pots are placed in the form of a square, and round these is wound a fence of thread, which must not be broken in the process. On the pots are placed bread and meal. The bridal pair again put on their bridal crowns, and the man, taking his knife, digs a few furrows in the ground, which his wife fills with grain. The husband then covers up the grain with [365]his knife, after which his wife sprinkles water over the whole, and then gives her husband some gruel. The bread and meal, which were placed on the pots, are eaten by the relatives of the husband publicly in the pandal. After this ceremony is over, the pair are again anointed, during which process there must be music and singing. The next day, the whole of the party set off for the bride’s house, where the marala pendli, or second marriage, is performed. Before setting out, the husband and wife bow down at the feet of the elders, and receive their blessing. The husband must provide an abundance of toddy for all. They stay in the house of the bride’s people for three days, and then another feast is made. On the fourth day, all, except the relations of the bride, return to their villages, but, before their departure, the bride again pays homage to the departing elders, who bless her, and give her a small present of money. On their return, they are met outside the village, and are escorted to the husband’s house with music. The married pair usually remain in the house of the bride’s mother for a month, and during that time they never change their wedding garments, or take off the garlands of flowers. The parents of the bridegroom present their daughter-in-law with new clothes, but these must not have any indigo in them. If the bride is past puberty, at the end of the month the father and mother-in-law will return with the married couple to the husband’s village. If the girl has not reached puberty, she will only spend a short time in her husband’s house, and will afterwards be continually going backwards and forwards between the two houses. At the time of puberty, the matter is made known to all parties concerned. The Chalavādhi must be the bearer of the news, and he is treated to as much food and drink as he can [366]take, and is also given presents. When the messenger goes, he must carry with him dal, jaggery, sugar-candy, etc. The neighbours come out to see how much he has brought, and, if the amount is small, they make a fuss. During the ceremonies which ensue, the girl is made to sit down, and is blessed by the women sprinkling her with nalugu, and is also given sweetmeats to eat. The time is made merry by song and music. After bathing, the girl is made to take food out of a dish along with three married women. She is then made to touch a thorn tree three times, and also plucks the leaves. Upon returning to the house, she is made to touch the cooking instruments and pots. At this time, if anyone has lent her beads or ornaments, they are taken, and, after being threaded on new strings, are returned to the lenders. If the day on which a girl reaches puberty is an unlucky day, it is considered a bad sign for the husband. On the second occasion the husband comes for his wife, and there is much rejoicing. After being detained for four or five days, they go to their permanent home, the house of the husband’s father, and there is at that time much weeping. The mother tells the girl to be obedient to her husband and parents-in-law, and says that it will be better for her to throw herself into a well and die than to return home disgraced.

“There are slight differences in the ceremonies described above according to the district and sect of the people. In the eastern Telugu country, during the marriage ceremonies, there is a sort of bridesmaid, who accompanies the bride on the day of the wedding. In the western country, largely under the influence of the Canarese, the bridesmaid is scarcely distinguishable from the real bride, but she is not, as at home, an unmarried girl, but must be a mature woman following the functions [367]of a married life. There is another slight difference between the two sections concerning the Bhūmala ceremony. The Vaishnavites, after the arranged people have partaken of the feast, distribute the remainder of the food; the Saivites, on the other hand, if any food is left, bury it somewhere inside the house.

“Mālas may be married many times, and indeed it is not considered respectable to remain a widower. A widower is unable to make arrangements for the marriage of others, to take part in any of the ceremonies connected therewith, except in the capacity of a spectator. It is not the correct thing for a man to have two wives at one time unless the first one is barren, or unless there is other good cause. A woman must on no account marry again. She need not, according to Telugu morals, be ashamed of living, after she is widowed, with another man as his concubine, but, at the very mention of marriage, she covers her face with shame. If such people become Christians, it is a most difficult thing to overcome their prejudice, and persuade them to become legally man and wife. Almost the only way to do so is by refusing to marry their children. In the Canarese country, there is a kind of half marriage (chīra kattinchinaru, they have tied her cloth), which may be attained by widows. It is not reckoned as a proper marriage, nor is the woman considered a concubine. The ceremony for this is not performed at the great length of an ordinary marriage, but it must receive the sanction of the elders. In spite of their sanction, the man must pay a fine imposed by the caste guru. The woman is permitted to wear the tāli or marriage token, but not bangles or other jewels usually worn by a married woman. The children are part inheritors, and are not entirely without rights, as the children of concubines are. [368]A man’s second wife must wear two tālis—that of the first wife as well as her own.”

The following variants of the Pedda Tāmbūlam ceremony, which is performed during the marriage rites, may be noted. As soon as all are assembled in the front yard of the bride’s house, a blanket is spread on the floor, and covered with a cloth. About ten seers of cholam (millet: Sorghum) are heaped up, and a brass vessel (kalasam) is placed thereon. By its side, a lamp is kept burning. A Dāsari, or a Māla priest, stands on one side of it, and a married woman on the other. The names of the gods are mentioned, one after the other, and the woman throws two betel leaves and a nut on the kalasam for each name uttered. The bride is then brought from within the house, and the leaves and nuts are tied up in a cloth. This, with the kalasam, is put in the bride’s cloth, and she is led inside. In some places, the ceremony is more elaborate. For the betrothal ceremony some leading men of the village, and the headmen of the bride and bridegroom’s villages, are required to be present. The Chalavati (caste servant) hands over a bag containing betel leaves, areca nuts, pieces of turmeric, and Rs. 4–6, to the headman of the bride’s village. All these articles are displayed on a new bamboo sieve, or on the lid of a bamboo box. The two headmen discuss the proposed match, and exchange betel and nut thrice. After this, the bride-elect (chinnapāpa) is brought from the house, and seated on a plank or on a cloth roller (dhone). Three handfuls of betel leaves and areca nuts are placed in her lap. Her maternal uncle then puts on her neck a string of unwoven unbleached cotton thread dyed with turmeric. The bride’s headman asks the assembly if he may proceed with the thonuku ceremony. With their permission, he takes from a sieve betel [369]leaves, nuts, and a cocoanut with his right hand, using only the thumb, first, and ring fingers. While doing this, he is expected to stand on one leg, and to take up the various things, without letting even a single leaf or nut fall. In some places, the headman has the privilege of doing this seated near the sieve. In other places, he is said to hold a knife in his hand, with a blade passed below the middle finger, and over the first ring finger.

In connection with birth ceremonies, Mr. Nicholson writes as follows. “During labour, a sickle and some nīm (Melia Azadirachta) leaves are always kept upon the cot, to ward off evil spirits, which will not approach iron. Difficulty during labour is considered to be the effect of kharma, and the method employed for easing it is simple. Some mother, who has had an ‘easy time,’ is called in, and presents the labouring woman with betel, etc. Should this not be effective, a line of persons is drawn up from the well to the house, and water is passed from hand to hand until it reaches the ‘easy time’ woman, who gives the water to the sufferer. This last resort is only sought in extreme cases, but, when it is appealed to, even the caste people will join in the line and help. After the placenta has come away, the child is placed on a winnowing basket, which has been previously filled with grain, and covered with a cloth. The umbilical cord is cut, and the child is washed, and branded with a hot needle in all places, over twenty in all, which are considered vital. When the umbilical cord is cut, some coin is placed over the navel for luck. This, with the grain in the basket, is the midwife’s perquisite. Should the child present with the cord round its neck, a cocoanut is immediately offered. If the child survives, a cock is offered to the gods on the day the mother takes her first [370]bath. The placenta is put in a pot, in which are nīm leaves, and the whole is buried in some convenient place, generally in the backyard. The reason for this is said to be that, unless the afterbirth was buried, dogs or other animals might carry it off, and ever after the child would be of a wandering disposition. The first bath of the mother takes place on the third, fifth, seventh, or ninth day after delivery. Every house in the particular quarter sends a potful of hot water. All the pots are placed near the spot where the afterbirth was buried. The mother then comes from the house supported by two women, carrying in her hand the sickle and nīm leaves. After worshipping the four mud gods which have been placed on the spot, she takes her seat on the cot on which she was confined, and, after having her body covered with turmeric, and her head anointed with a mixture of rice, chunam (lime) and turmeric, she is bathed by the women in attendance. After the bath, both the mother and child are garlanded with a root strung on strings, and worn round the neck and wrists. One of these is eaten every day by the mother. The mother rises and enters the house, but, before doing so, she worships the four quarters on the threshold. The women who assisted in the bathing operation go to their homes, and bathe their own children, afterwards returning to take part in a feast provided by the parents of the newly-born child. On this day also a name is given to the child. If all previous children have died, the child is rolled in leaf plates and rice, after which the nose and ears are pierced. The rice is given to the dogs, and the child is named Pulligadu (used up leaf plates) or Pullamma according to sex. Should the parents consider that they have a sufficiently large family, they name the child Salayya or Salakka (enough). There are several [371]superstitions about teething. If the teeth come quickly, people say that the afterbirth has not been buried deeply enough. Should the top teeth come first, it is supposed to imply danger to the maternal uncle, who generally gives his daughter in marriage to his nephew. He is called, and brings with him a cocoanut, the inner shell of which he crushes on the child’s head. This must be done without looking on the child. In order that girls may not grow hair on their faces, their lips and chins are rubbed with the afterbirth. The dried navel is highly prized as a remedy for sterility.

In connection with death ceremonies, Mr. Nicholson writes as follows. “There is a difference in the ceremonies performed by the Vishnuvite and Saivite sects. The former allow their people to die in the house; the latter, fearing pollution, remove the person outside the door, as soon as it is recognised that death is at hand. The following description relates chiefly to the Vishnuvites or Namdaris, but, wherever possible, the difference of ceremony between the two sects is noticed. As soon as it is recognized that a person is at the point of death, the wife and children, or near relations, gather round the rough string cot, and ask what the dying person’s last wishes are. However bad a life may have been led, the dying words are considered imperatively binding. If at all possible, the son or brother of the dying person will give a little food and a drink of water; and, if there is no one to perform this office—the rite which entitles the dying to heaven—great is the grief. ‘May you have no one to give you water to drink’ is a most bitter curse. As soon as life has departed, those who are standing by will close the eyes and mouth, and stop the nostrils and ears. The two great toes are tied together, whilst the wife and sons [372]burn incense at the head of the corpse. A lamp is lit, and left in the house. Before this, the near relations have heard that things were serious, and have come to render assistance. They now bring water for the bathing, and some go to the bazar for sweetmeats, etc., required in the subsequent ceremonies. Some of the elders go to call the Dāsari, or priest, and, by the time he arrives, rice will have been prepared, and the blood of a fowl sprinkled over the place where the death occurred. It should be mentioned that the head of the dying is always placed to the south. Yamudu, the god of death and lord of Hades, is god of the south. Consequently, if the dead arose, if facing south he would go to the evil place. By lying on the back with the head to the south, they rise facing north, and so escape an evil fate. When the food is prepared, the corpse is removed outside, bathed, and wrapped in a new cloth. Betel nut and leaf are ground and put into the mouth, whilst the priest puts the nāmam (the mark of Vishnu) upon both the forehead of the corpse and of the bearers. After the bathing of the corpse, and before it is wrapped in the new cloth, a small square piece is torn out of the cloth, and presented to the Nambi of the temple. The corpse being prepared, the priest and the wife and relations of the deceased, along with the bearers, eat a small portion of the food which has been got ready. Immediately upon rising after having eaten, the corpse is lifted, and placed upon a rough bier, wrapped in a cloth, and the party proceed to the burying ground. The priest goes first singing a funeral hymn, and at the end of each verse all the people cry Govinda (one of the names of Vishnu). Following the priest comes the Chalavādhi, carrying his belt and insignia of office. At every other step the bell is rung by coming in contact with his leg. [373]After the Chalavādhi comes the corpse carried by men who are, according to Telugu relationship, brothers (actual brothers, or sons of father’s brother or mother’s sister). In the case of a married woman, the bearers must be either husband or brothers. Following the corpse comes the wife or son, bearing water and fire. Shortly before reaching the burial-ground, a halt is made. The son sprinkles a little water on the ground, and the bier is placed upon the spot with the fire at the head. The face is then uncovered, and all look upon the dead features for the last time. The reason given for the halt is that upon one occasion, according to tradition, the bearers became exhausted, and, when they rested the bier upon the ground, the corpse arose alive. In carrying a dead body, it is always carried feet first. The grave, which has been prepared beforehand, and which is usually not more than three feet deep, is reached, and the body is placed therein with the head towards the south. In the case of a male, after being placed in the grave, the waist-cord and toe-rings are removed, and left in the grave. In the case of a woman, the glass bracelets, bell-metal toe-rings, and bead necklace are left, but no jewels of value or the marriage token are left. After this is over, the body is covered with leaves of the tangēdu tree (Cassia auriculata). As a rule, Vishnuvites, before covering the body with leaves, take off the cloth in which it is wrapped, leaving it naked. This is supposed to be emblematic of the nakedness with which we enter upon life. The corpse is buried face upwards, and it is considered a means of future happiness to the deceased if those assembled throw earth into the grave. The nearer the relationship of those doing so, the greater is the happiness conferred. Hence it is always desired that a son should be present. After the [374]grave has been filled up half way with earth, three stones are placed, one at the head, one in the middle, and one at the feet. Only the Vishnuvites do this. Upon the middle of these stones stands the priest, while the relatives of the deceased wash his feet, and put upon them the nāmam or sign of Vishnu. Whilst standing thus, they bargain and haggle as to what fee is to be paid. After this is over, the grave is completely filled in, and great care is taken that the corpse is so covered that it may not be disturbed by jackals and other animals, at any rate before the fifth day. If it should be disturbed, heaven will not be reached. So the Telugu curse ‘May the jackals eat your tongue’ is a curse of damnation. The Saivites bury their dead in the cloth, face downwards. After the grave has been filled in, the fire carried by the son is placed at the head of the grave, and incense is burnt. Then the water carried from the house is sprinkled over the grave, and the procession departs homeward. On their way, they stop at some wayside well, and wash away their defilement, afterwards sitting on the edge of the well to chew betel and eat sweetmeats. They may also pay a visit to the temple, where they again sit and gossip, but perform no worship. If the deceased be a woman leaving a husband, the talk will be about arrangements for the marriage which will shortly take place. Immediately the body is taken from the house for burial, the lamp which was first lighted is extinguished, and another lighted in its place. Then those who stay at home (the women do not usually attend a funeral) clean sweep the house, plastering it with cow-dung. After this, they wait outside the house for the return of the burial party. The blood relations who have attended the burial come, and, without entering the house, glance at the newly-lighted lamp, afterwards [375]going to their own homes, where, before entering, and without touching any of the pots, they must bathe in hot water. Toddy flows freely at the close of a funeral. Indeed, this is one of the occasions when excess is most common. From now until the fifth day, when the Divasālu ceremony takes place, fire and a lamp are lighted at the grave each evening at sunset.

“The Divasālu ceremony, which is observed by all castes which follow the Rāmānuja matham or Sātāni cult, is generally performed at the dead of night, and with as much ceremony as possible. All the Namdaris in the village are invited, each being separately called by the Kondigadu, who is a kind of messenger belonging to the Dāsari or Māla priest. In former days, many of the Sūdras used to attend this ceremony, but of late, either through Mālas more openly eating the flesh of cows, or for some other reason, they rarely attend, and, if they do so, it is with great secrecy. The Nambi, however, who is a Sātāni, should attend. Indeed, it is he who is the performer of the ceremony. The flesh required for the sacrifice is found by slaughtering a sheep or a goat. Before killing it, holy water is poured into its mouth, and incense is burnt before it. When the animal has been dismembered, the head, guts, and blood are cooked in one pot, the bones in another, the flesh in a third, whilst in a fourth pot bread is baked. Toddy and arrack (native spirit) are also placed in readiness. After these preparations, the Nambi draws upon the floor, on the spot where the death occurred, the ashtakshari (eight-cornered) mantram, repeating the while magical words. The mantram is usually drawn with treble lines, one black, one yellow, and one white. At each corner are placed a cocoanut, betel, dates, and a lump of molasses, whilst a rupee is [376]placed in the middle at one side. The words repeated are in Tamil, and, roughly translated, are as follows: ‘This is the mantram of Manar Nambi. This is the holy water of the sacred feet of ... Nambi. This is the secret of holiness of the 108 sacred places. These are the means for obtaining heaven. They are for the saving of the sinner. This drawing is the seal of the saints. Countless sins have I committed; yet by thought on the saints is sin cleansed.’ After the completion of the drawing, the officiating priest puts the holy mark of Vishnu on the foreheads of those who bring the vessels of cooked food. Then, to the east side of the drawing, he makes two little piles of millet. He then asks (in Tamil) for the pot containing the head, and for the toddy. The two bearers bring the pots, keeping exactly together, and, as they reach the Nambi, each must exchange places with the other. The priest then inscribes on one pot the wheel (chakra), and on the other the conch shell, these being the sacred symbols of Vishnu. Before doing so, he wets the leaves of the tulasi plant (Ocimum sanctum) in a rice plate, and places them in a brass vessel containing holy water by his side. Then, with the conch shell which he carries, he pours some of the holy water into each pot, afterwards placing the pots upon the heaps of millet. Next, a leaf plate is placed in the middle of the drawing. Upon it is placed some of each variety of food cooked, along with milk and ghī. Over all, another plate is placed as a cover. During this time, so that no one may see the ceremony, a sheet or blanket is held up before the Nambi as a screen. He then takes two little sticks with cotton-wool in a notch at the end, and puts them to steep in castor-oil. Whilst they are steeping, he takes a cocoanut, and, after breaking it, pours the [377]milk into the vessel containing holy water, and places the two pieces by the side of the heaps of grain upon which are the two pots. Then, taking up the two sticks, and having made passes with them over the whole drawing, he lights them and holds them aloft above the screen, so that the people on the other side may see them. All then bow down, and worship the two lights. Then the bearers of the corpse are invested with the nāmam, after which the whole of those assembled drink of the holy water in the brass vessel. A little holy water, betel, etc., are now put into the rice plate, which is afterwards covered with soil upon the top of the grave. The party then eat the small portion of food which may be left, and, after trimming the lamp, proceed to their homes. The Nambi who officiates is supposed to be particularly holy. If he is wicked and unclean, and yet draws and sits upon the magic diagrams, he will bring loss and sorrow upon his own head.

“There is no other ceremony until the night of the twelfth day. On this day, not only is the floor plastered with cow-dung, but the whole house is cleaned outside and in. All the inmates of the house bathe, shave, and put on clean clothes. Then, as on the fifth day, an animal is killed, and the flesh is cooked exactly as before. In the north-east or god’s corner, the panchakshari (five cornered) diagram is inscribed, and a handful of rice is put in the middle. As before, cocoanuts, etc., are placed at the five corners, and before the drawing are placed five copper images. The Dāsari who performs the ceremony places two leaf plates before these images, and, breaking a couple of cocoanuts, sacrifices to them. After this, the Nambi, Dāsaris, Kondigadu, corpse-bearers, and bearers of the pots, each drink two measures of toddy, and eat some of the flesh cooked in the second [378]pot. The party, consisting entirely of males, now take as much food as will be required for the forthcoming ceremony, and proceed towards the grave, which has been previous to this plastered and decorated, and a little shrine erected at the head. On their arrival, a diagram, called panchakshari is drawn on the grave in black, yellow, and white. At the five corners are placed cocoanut, lime, etc. In the middle is placed a leaf plate with food on it, and a cocoanut is offered, the two halves being placed one on each side of the plate. A lamp is now lighted, and placed in the little shrine at the head of the grave, which the Nambi worships. It may be noted that the ashtakshari diagram is the sign of Vishnu or Narayanamurti, and the panchakshari is the sign of Siva. The reason for both being used is that Vishnu is the preserver, and Siva the destroyer. If Siva alone is worshipped, he will only cease from destroying; if Vishnu alone is worshipped, he cannot keep from destruction. Hence there is a sort of compromise, so that the benefits rendered by each god may be reaped. The Nambi now invests all the males present with the nāmam, and, if there is a widow, she is made to put on the bottu or small circular mark, the symbol most often being associated with Siva. The widow is made to sit in the middle of the house, with a leaf plate set before her. There she is stripped of all the jewels she wore as a married woman. Afterwards she is taken inside by some widows, and, after bathing, dons a cloth which has been brought for her by her brothers. Her own cloth is left outside, and must be sent from there to the washerman. It afterwards becomes a perquisite of the Dāsari. If the deceased was a married woman, the widower would be deprived of his toe-ring, bathed, and clothed in a new cloth. [379]

“On the occasion of Divasālu, blood relatives are all supposed to be present, and the ceremony is an expensive one, poor people often spending on this occasion alone as much as they can earn in a couple of months. The first ceremony is not so expensive, and will only cost about five rupees. All the male relatives of the dead man, or the brothers-in-law of a dead woman, must bring a little rice and some sticks of incense. If they are quite unable to attend the ceremony, they will clean their own houses, and will then perform some ceremony to the deceased. The relatives of the wife who come to the ceremony will not proceed to the house, or even to the caste quarters, but will go to the toddy shop, whence they send word of their arrival. As soon as the head of the house hears of this, he also proceeds to the toddy shop, and each one treats the other to drink. If they do not wish to drink, the one will pour a little liquor into the palm of the other. This ceremony is called chēdupāputa (the taking away of bitterness), and without it they cannot visit one another’s houses. These relatives must only partake of food on the night of their arrival and next day, but on no account must they linger till the light is lit on the thirteenth day.

“The above ceremony is that performed by the Namdaris or Vishnuvites, who are not afraid of pollution, but who must do all things according to a prescribed ritual. We will now consider the ceremonies of the Mondis or Saivites, who think little of ceremony, but much of defilement. These take the dying person outside, and, as soon as it is realised that the end is near, all arrangements are made as to who is to cook, carry the corpse, etc. Before the breath has left the body, some go to the bazaar to purchase a new cloth. The [380]women smear themselves with turmeric as at a wedding, and put a circular red mark (bottu) on the forehead, whilst the men smear ashes on their foreheads. As soon as the food is cooked, the dead body is washed, and placed upon a bier. Most of the Vishnuvites do not use a bier. The corpse is carried to the grave, accompanied with fire and water as in the Vishnuvite ceremony. Shortly before the grave-yard is reached, a halt is made. The cloth which has been placed over the face is torn, and a cooking pot is broken, after which the body is taken to the grave, and buried without covering, lying prone on the face. After the earth has been filled in, the son of the deceased takes an earthen water-pot full of water, and bores a hole in it, so that the water may escape. He then makes three circuits of the grave, allowing the water to flow on the ground. After each circuit, he makes a fresh hole in the pot. He then goes away without looking back on the grave. When the funeral party, which consists only of men, reaches the house, they find that some of the old women have made a heap of cow-dung, at the top of which is a little hollow filled with water. Those who have returned from the grave dip their great toes in this water, and then linger on the threshold to worship the lamp which is inside. After this, the lamp is taken, and thrown outside the village, and, on their return, they bathe in hot water. The Saivites perform the first ceremony for the dead on the third day, and they have neither Nambi nor priest, but perform the whole ceremony themselves. Like the Vishnuvites, they thoroughly cleanse and plaster the house. There is no animal sacrifice, but food is prepared with vegetables. A tray is plaited from the twigs of the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), and in this is placed a leaf plate containing food, frankincense, [381]betel, etc. This food offering is carried to the grave along with fire and water at about eight o’clock in the morning. The man who carries the food must wear only a torn cloth, and yet with this he must manage to cover his head. On reaching the grave, they worship. The tray is left at the head of the grave, and the people retire a short distance, and there wait until a crow or a kite comes, and takes food from the tray. The more quickly this occurs, the greater the merit obtained by the deceased. They never go away until either the one or the other of these birds comes. They afterwards proceed to the well, and bathe fully. On the twelfth day, another ceremony is performed. In the morning, all those taking part in the ceremony proceed to some place outside the village where they shave, and put on clean clothes which have come direct to that place from the washerman. They then go to some temple, and there obtain a little holy water, with which they afterwards sprinkle themselves, the widow, and the house of the deceased. The widow is then arrayed in all her clothes and jewels, and is taken weeping to the ‘widow’s harbour.’ There a stone image is set up, and worshipped. Then the woman’s jewels are taken off, and her bracelets broken. Sweet food is cooked and partaken of, all bathe, and return to their homes. After this ceremony, poor people will stay in their houses for three days, and rich people for a much longer period. For several years, on the anniversary of the death, some little ceremony is usually performed.”

In connection with Māla Dāsaris, to whom reference has already been made, Mr. Nicholson writes as follows. “There is a considerable number of individuals who obtained their living through religious mendicancy. They are known as Dāsaris. There is usually a Nambi [382]or Dāsari for every three or four villages. Some few Dāsaris have inām (rent-free) lands, but the majority live on the charity of the people. They do not ask alms, but sing hymns in honour of Chennudu or Pedda Muni. They also officiate as a sort of priest, and their services are requisitioned at the time of death, marriage, hair-cutting, and the creation of Basavis and Dāsaris. The Dāsari who officiates at a wedding ceremony cannot act in a case of death. There is, in the west Telugu country, a class called Vārapu Dāsari, who act as pujāris for the Sūdras, and in all places the Dāsari receives certain emoluments from Sūdras for singing at weddings and funerals. They receive alms from all classes. Occasionally disturbances take place on account of the Saivites objecting to the Dāsaris coming into their streets, and it is at such times as these that pavādamu is said to take place. It is firmly believed that, if a Dāsari is offended, he will revenge himself in smaller offences by piercing his cheeks or side, for a serious offence by killing himself, generally by severing the head from the body. If one kills himself in this way, the news is said to be immediately and miraculously communicated to every Dāsari and Nambi in the country. They all come to the place where the body lies. Until their arrival, this has been kept covered with a new cloth, and water is constantly sprinkled over it, to keep the wounds from drying up. When the Gurus, Dāsaris, and others are collected, they show their magic power by frying fish, which come to life again on being placed in water, and by cutting limes in two and making them join together, while the remainder sing hymns to Chennudu, and call on the name of Govinda. The Gurus then dig a hole, and in it light the sacred fire of sandal-wood, [383]which must be kindled by the friction of two pieces of wood. All assemble before this sacred fire, and join in singing or reciting the Dandakamu, after which the Dāsaris dance a dance called the request dance. A lotus flower is simulated by arranging betel leaves in a small chembu (metal vessel), and this is placed in a plate along with the severed head. The tray is then carried three times round the corpse by the wife of the deceased if he was married; if not, by his mother; and, if he had no kin, by a Basavi. The head is then taken by the Guru, and fixed properly to the trunk, the junction being plentifully daubed with sacred earth (tirumani). A new cloth is then spread over the corpse, and a network of flowers over all. The Dāsaris again walk round the corpse, calling on Tembaru Manara, repeating at the same time a mantram. Then Kurumayya, the caste Guru, strokes the corpse from head to foot three times with his staff, after which he places his foot on the head of the corpse, and calls on the body to rise. The ability of the Dāsaris to perform this marvel is implicitly believed in. Some I have asked have seen it attempted, but on one occasion it failed because the wife was unwell (under menstrual pollution). On another occasion, the ceremony was not carried out with fitting reverence, and failed in consequence.

“The chief people among the Dāsaris are Guru, Annalayya, Godugulayya (umbrella men), and Tuttulayya (horn-blowers). The Dāsaris have got certain badges of office, which are supposed to have been given by Chennudu on the conquest of Vijayanagar. [According to tradition, between the 8th and 11th centuries A.D. there was great rivalry between the Saivite and Vishnuvite sects, and it is supposed that Kurumayya, fighting on the side of the Vishnuvites, by the aid of the [384]god Chennudu was able to suppress and overcome the followers of Siva. He thus became the Guru of the Mālas.] The Dāsari’s insignia consist of an iron staff, copper pot, tiger skin, antelope skin, etc. Besides these, some of the chief Dāsaris are said to possess copper inscriptions given to them by the kings of Vijayanagar, but these they refuse to allow any one to see.”

Concerning the practice of making Basavis (dedicated prostitutes), Mr. Nicholson writes as follows. “The origin of the Basavis is said to be thus. In former times, the Asādhis had the duty and privilege of dancing and singing before the God, but this office was always performed by a male. On one occasion, there was no male to take up the duties, and, as there was no prospect of further children, one of the daughters was appointed to the work, so that the livelihood would not be lost. Then no one came forward to marry the girl, and she found it impossible to live a good life. The fact, however, that she was a servant of the God kept her from disgrace, and from that time it has been customary to dedicate these girls to the God’s service. Nowadays, the girl goes through a ceremony with a knife, which is placed in front of the God, and, as at ordinary weddings, there are all the various ceremonies performed, and feasts eaten. If at the time of the wedding, any man wishes to have a sort of proprietary right, he may obtain the same by paying a sort of dowry. The elders of the village must give their consent to the dedication, and usually signify this by eating out of the same plate as the bride. In the west Telugu country, parents who have good looking daughters, no matter what their class, give them as Basavis. But, in the east Telugu country, only the Asādhi, Beinēni, and Pambala people do so. A Basavi can never be widowed, and people say they [385]are consecrated to the God. Consequently, their life, though a life of sin, is not considered so by the Gods. Yet by a strange inconsistency, men consorting with Basavis are immediately branded as loose men. The first few years of a Basavi’s life are full of profit, and it is probably for this reason that parents are willing thus to sacrifice their daughters. Afterwards, when the charms of youth are passed, the Basavi resorts to begging, or, with two or three more, obtains a precarious livelihood by music and dancing. Their children have a share in the maternal father’s property.

“The above account of a Basavi’s dedication applies to the Asādhis or singing beggars. The following is a more detailed description of the ceremony as performed by the Dāsaris. The girl to be dedicated is dressed in a white ravike and cloth, after which she is conducted to the priest who is to officiate. He burns the signs of a chank and chakram on the girl’s shoulders, presenting to her at the same time holy water. After this, the priest receives the guruvu kanika, which consists not only of five rupees, but also five seers of rice, five cocoanuts, five garlics, and a quarter of a seer of betel nuts. The person giving the girl away now receives permission from the people and Guruvu, and attaches the marriage symbol to the girl’s neck. Before the tāli is tied, the girl is made to sit on a blanket, upon which has been drawn the ‘throne,’ with her hands which clasp the Garuda stambha tied together with a wreath of flowers. Before the hands are unbound, in place of the usual dowry of about twenty rupees, five duddu (copper coins) are given into the hand of the priest. All assembled now worship the beggar’s staff, and, on proceeding to the place of lodging, food is given to the Dāsaris. Usually the ceremonies are performed before [386]the village shrine, but, at times of festival, they are performed before the God, in honour of whom the festival is being held. On returning to the village, the girl is obliged, for five consecutive Saturdays, to go round the village accompanied by a Dāsari, to whose food and comfort she has to attend. This is, no doubt, a public announcement of the profession the girl has had put upon her. When puberty is arrived at, a feast is given, and thenceforward the girl is her own mistress.”

The Mālas worship a variety of deities, including Gurappa, Subbarayadu, Gunnathadu, Sunkalamma, Poleramma, Gangamma, and Gontiyālamma. In connection with the worship of the goddess Gontiyālamma, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes, in a note on the Mālas of the Godāvari district, that “the special caste deity is Gontiyālamma, the mother of the five Pandava brethren. They say that Bhīma threatened to kill his mother, who took refuge under an avirēni pot (painted pot used at weddings) in a Māla’s house. For this she was solemnly cursed by her sons, who said that she should remain a Māla woman for ever. In commemoration of this story, a handful of growing paddy (rice) is pulled up every year at the Dasara festival, and, eight days later, the earth adhering to its roots is mixed with turmeric and milk, made into an image of the goddess, and hidden under the avirēni pot. For the next six months this image is worshipped every Sunday by all the villagers in turn, and, on the Sivarātri night, it is taken round the village, accompanied by all the Mālas bearing pots of rice and other food carried in a kāvadi, and is finally thrown with much ceremony into a river or tank (pond or lake). This rite is supposed to mean that the goddess is the daughter of the caste, that she has lived with them six months, and that they are now sending her [387]back with suitable gifts (the rice, etc.) to her husband. A common form of religious vow among Mālas is to promise to send a cloth and a cow with the goddess on the last day of the rite, the gifts being afterwards presented to a married daughter.” It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that both Mālas and Mādigas hold a feast in honour of their ancestors at Pongal—an uncommon rite.

In the Godāvari district scarcity of rain is dealt with in various ways. “It is considered very efficacious if the Brāhmans take in procession round the village an image of Varuna (the god of rain) made of mud from the tank of a river or tank. Another method is to pour 1,000 pots of water over the lingam in the Siva temple. Mālas tie a live frog to a mortar, and put on the top of the latter a mud figure representing Gontiyālamma. They then take these objects in procession, singing ‘Mother frog, playing in water, pour rain by pots full.’ The villagers of other castes then come and pour water over the Mālas.”31 Mr. Nicholson writes that, to produce rain in the Telugu country, “two boys capture a frog, and put it into a basket with some nīm (Melia Azadirachta) leaves. They tie the basket to the middle of a stick, which they support on their shoulders. In this manner they make a circuit of the village, visiting every house, singing the praises of the god of rain. The greater the noise the captive animal makes, the better the omen, and the more gain for the boys, for, at every house, they receive something in recognition of their endeavour to bring rain upon the village fields.”

Mala Arayan.—The Mala Arayans are described, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as “a class of [388]hill tribes, who are a little more civilized than the Mannāns, and have fixed abodes on the slopes of high mountain ranges. Their villages are fine-looking, with trees and palms all round. They are superior in appearance to most other hill tribes, but are generally short in stature. Some of the Arayans are rich, and own large plots of cultivated grounds. They seldom work for hire, or carry loads. A curious custom with them is that every man in the family has his own room separate from the rest, which only he and his wife are permitted to enter. They are very good hunters and have a partiality for monkey flesh. As wizards they stand very high, and all the low-country people cherish a peculiar dread for them. Makkathāyam is the prevailing form of inheritance (from father to son), but among a few families marumakkathāyam (inheritance through the female line) obtains as an exception. Their language is a corrupt form of Malayālam. Their marriage ceremony is simple. The bridegroom and bride sit and eat on the same plantain leaf, after which the tāli (marriage badge) is tied. The bride then seizes any ornament or cooking vessel in the house, saying that it is her father’s. The bridegroom snatches it from her, and the marriage rite is concluded. Birth pollution is of considerable importance. It lasts for a whole month for the father, and for seven days for the mother. The Arayans bury their dead. Drinking is a very common failing.”

It is recorded by Mr. M. J. Walhouse32 that “on the higher ranges in Travancore there are three of Parasurāma’s cairns, where the Mala Arraiyans still keep lamps burning. They make miniature cromlechs of small slabs of stone, and place within them a long pebble to represent [389]the deceased. Dr. Livingstone noticed a similar custom in Africa. ‘In various villages we observed miniature huts about two feet high, very neatly thatched and plastered. Here we noticed them in dozens. On inquiry we were told that, when a child or relative dies, one is made, and, when any pleasant food is cooked or beer brewed, a little is placed in the tiny hut for the departed soul, which is believed to enjoy it.’ So the Mala Arraiyans offer arak (liquor) and sweetmeats to the departed spirit believed to be hovering near the miniature cromlech.”

In a detailed account of the Mala Arayans, the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows.33 “The Arayans bury their dead; consequently there are many ancient tumuli in these hills, evidently graves of chiefs, showing just the same fragments of pottery, brass figures, iron weapons, etc., as are found in other similar places. These tumuli are often surrounded with long splintered pieces of granite, from eight to twelve or fifteen feet in length, set up on end, with sacrificial altars and other remains, evidently centuries old. Numerous vaults, too, called Pāndi Kuri, are seen in all their hills. They stand north and south, the circular opening being to the south; a round stone is fitted to this aperture, with another acting as a long lever, to prevent its falling out; the sides, as also the stones of the top and bottom, are single slabs. To this day the Arayans make similar little cells of pieces of stone, the whole forming a box a few inches square; and, on the death of a member of any family, the spirit is supposed to pass, as the body is being buried, into a brass or silver image, which is shut into this vault; if the parties are very poor, an oblong [390]smooth stone suffices. A few offerings of milk, rice, toddy, and ghee (clarified butter) are made, a torch is lighted and extinguished, the figure placed inside the cell, and the covering hastily put on; then all leave. On the anniversary, similar offerings being made, the stone is lifted off, and again hastily closed. The spirit is thus supposed to be enclosed; no one ventures to touch the cell at any other time.

“The objects of Arayan worship are the spirits of their ancestors, or certain local demons supposed to reside in rocks or peaks, and having influence only over particular villages or families. The religious services rendered to these are intended to deprecate anger rather than to seek benefits; but in no case is lust to be gratified, or wickedness practiced, as pleasing to these deities. One of their ancestors is represented by a brass image about three inches in height, the back of the head hollow, the hands holding a club and a gun. This represents a demonized man of wicked character, who lived about a century ago. He is said to have beaten his wife to death with a club; wherefore the people joined to break his skull, and he became a malignant demon. Another image carried an umbrella and staff, and had a milder countenance—this was a good demon. One such image is kept in each family, in which the spirit is supposed actually to reside. They were also put into the little square chambers described above. The Rev. W. J. Richards, of Cottayam, has favoured me with the following history, which throws much light upon this curious superstition. ‘Tālanāni was a priest or oracle-revealer of the hunting deity, Ayappan, whose chief shrine is in Savarimala, a hill among the Travancore ghāts. The duty of Tālanāni was to deck himself out in his sword, bangles, beads, [391]etc., and, highly frenzied with excitement and strong drink, dance in a horrid convulsive fashion before his idols, and reveal in unearthly shrieks what the god had decreed on any particular matter. He belonged to the Hill Arayan village of Eruma-pāra (the rock of the she-buffalo), some eight miles from Mēlkāvu, and was most devoted to his idolatry, and rather remarkable in his peculiar way of showing his zeal. When the pilgrims from his village used to go to Savarimala—a pilgrimage which is always, for fear of the tigers and other wild beasts, performed in companies of forty or fifty—our hero would give out that he was not going, and yet, when they reached the shrine of their devotions, there before them was the sorcerer, so that he was both famous among his fellows and favoured of the gods. Now, while things were in this way, Tālanāni was killed by the neighbouring Chōgans during one of his drunken bouts, and the murderers, burying his body in the depths of the jungle, thought that their crime would never be found out; but the tigers—Ayappan’s dogs—in respect to so true a friend of their master, scratched open the grave, and removing the corpse, laid it on the ground. The wild elephants found the body, and reverently took it where friends might discover it, and, a plague of small-pox having attacked the Chōgans, another oracle declared it was sent by Sāstāvu (the Travancore hill boundary god, called also Chāttan or Sāttan) in anger at the crime that had been committed; and that the evil would not abate until the murderers made an image of the dead priest, and worshipped it. This they did, placing it in a grave, and in a little temple no bigger than a small dog kennel. The image itself is about four inches high, of bronze. The heir of Tālanāni became priest and beneficiary of the new [392]shrine, which was rich in offerings of arrack, parched rice, and meat vowed by the Arayans when they sallied out on hunting expeditions. All the descendants of Tālanāni are Christians, the result of the Rev. Henry Baker’s work. The last heir who was in possession of the idol, sword, bangle, beads, and wand of the sorcerer, handed them over to the Rev. W. J. Richards in 1881.’

“Lamps to the memory of their ancestors were kept burning in little huts, and at stones used to represent the spirits of their ancestors. At one spot, where the genii were supposed to reside, there was a fragment of granite well oiled, and surrounded by a great number of extinguished torches. A most fearful demon was said to reside in a hollow tree, which had been worshipped by thousands of families. They did not know the precise hole in which the symbol was to be found; when discovered, it looked like the hilt of an old sword. One deity was said by the priest of a certain hill to have placed three curious looking rocks as resting-places for himself on his journey to the peak. Cocoanuts are offered to famous demons, residing in certain hills. It has been observed that, in cases of sickness, sometimes Arayans will make offerings to a Hindu god, and that they attend the great feasts occasionally; but in no case do they believe that they are under any obligation to do so, their own spirits being considered fully equal to the Hindu gods. Each village has its priest, who, when required, calls on the ‘hill’ (mala), which means the demon resident there, or the prētham, ghost. If he gets the afflatus, he acts in the usual way, yelling and screaming out the answers sought. The devil-dancer wears the kudumi, and has a belt, bangles, and other implements; and invokes the demons in case of sickness. [393]

“They have some sacred groves, where they will not fire a gun, or speak above a breath; they have certain signs also to be observed when fixing on land for cultivation or the site of a house, but no other elaborate religious rites. In choosing a piece of ground for cultivation, before cutting the jungle they take five strips of bark of equal length, and knot all the ends together, holding them in the left hand by the middle. If all, when tied, form a perfect circle, the omen is lucky, and the position in which the cord falls on the ground is carefully noted by the bystanders.”

Mala Nāyakkan.—A name returned by Tamil Malaiyālis at times of census.

Mala Vēdan.See Vēdan.

Malai-kanda.—A sub-division of Vellāla.

Malaimān.See Udaiyān.

Malaiyadi (foot of the hills).—A sub-division of Konga Vellāla.

Malakkar.—It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that “the Malakkars, also called Malamūttanmar and Malapanikkar, are a comparatively superior tribe of jungle cultivators and hunters found in the Calicut and Ernād hills. They follow the marumakkathāyam system (of inheritance in the female line), and observe pollution for twelve days. They call their huts illams, and, if they leave them to go down to the plains, must bathe before returning. They consider themselves polluted by all castes below Nāyars. The name Mūttan is properly a title, meaning elder, confirmed on their headman by their janmis (landlords). Their chief god is Maladēvan. They are good forest watchers and elephant catchers.”

Malāra (a bundle of glass bangles, as carried about for sale).—An exogamous sept of Gauda. [394]

Malasar.—The Malasars or Malsars are found in the Coimbatore district, and in the Cochin State. The following account of them was given by Buchanan a century ago.34 “The forests here are divided into Puddies, each of which has its boundary ascertained, and contains one or more families of a rude tribe, called Malasir. Both the Puddy and its inhabitants are considered as the property of some landlord, who farms out the labour of these poor people, with all they collect, to some trader (Chitty or Manadi). Having sent for some of these poor Malasirs, they informed me that they live in small villages of five or six huts, situated in the skirts of the woods on the hills of Daraporam, Ani-malaya, and Pali-ghat. They speak a mixture of the Tamul and Malayala languages. They are a better looking people than the slaves, but are ill-clothed, nasty, and apparently ill-fed. They collect drugs for the trader, to whom they are let, and receive from him a subsistence, when they can procure for him anything of value. He has the exclusive right of purchasing all that they have for sale, and of supplying them with salt and other necessaries. A great part of their food consists of wild yams (Dioscorea), which they dig when they have nothing to give to the trader for rice. They cultivate some small spots in the woods after the cotu-cadu fashion, both on their own account and on that of the neighbouring farmers, who receive the produce, and give the Malasirs hire. The articles cultivated in this manner are ragi (Eleusine Coracana), avaray (Dolichos Lablab), and tonda (Ricinus communis). They are also hired to cut timber and firewood. The god of their tribe is called Mallung, who is represented [395]by a stone that is encircled by a wall, which serves for a temple. Once a year, in April, a sacrifice of goats, and offerings of rice, honey, and the like, are made by the Malasir to this rude idol. If this be neglected, the god sends elephants and tigers to destroy both them and their houses.”

The Malasars are described, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a forest tribe living by hill cultivation and day labour. They are good at game-tracking, and very handy with their axes, with the help of which they will construct a bamboo house for the wandering sportsman in a few hours. They reside in hamlets known as pathis, each of which has a headman, called Vendari, who exercises the usual authority, with the assistance of a panchāyat (council). One of the punishments inflicted by panchāyats is to make the culprit carry a heavy load of sand for some distance, and then stand with it on his head and beg for forgiveness. They worship Kāli and Māriamman, the small-pox goddess, but their special deity is Manakadātta, to whom they sacrifice fowls and sheep in the Māsi. A man of the tribe acts as priest on these occasions, and keeps the heads of the offerings as his perquisite. An unusual item in their wedding ceremonies is the tying of an iron ring to the bridegroom’s wrist. They will eat and drink almost anything, except vermin and cobras. The Kādans regard themselves as superior to the Malasars.” It is noted, in the Manual of the Coimbatore district, that “the Malasars live at a much lower elevation than the Kādars. They are found almost down on the plains, and along the slopes near the foot of the hills. They are somewhat sturdier in general build, but have not the characteristic features of regular hillmen. They are not to be depended on in any way, but will desert en masse on [396]the smallest excuse. They commit dacoities whenever they see an opportunity, and, in fact, even to this day, the roads near the foot of the hills are rarely traversed by low-country natives except in small bands, from fear of the Malasars. On the other hand, the Malasars are useful as being excellent axemen; and as baggage coolies they can hardly be dispensed with. They carry for the most part on their heads like low-country coolies, but unlike the Kādars and Puliyars, who, when they can be induced to carry at all, carry loads on their backs.”

There may be said to be three grades of Malasars, viz., the Malai (hill) Malasars, who live on the hills (e.g., at Mount Stuart on Ānaimalais), and the Malasars who live on the slopes and the plains. It is said that Kādirs and Eravalars are admitted into the Malasar caste. The Kādirs abstain from eating the flesh of the ‘bison’ and cow, whereas the Malasars will eat the carrion of these animals. The settlements of the Malasars are called padhis or pathis, and their streets sālais. These are Tamil names, denoting villages and rows. The padhis are named after the owners of the land on which they are built, e.g., Sircar (Government) padhi, Karuppa Goundan padhi. On the hills, the dwelling huts are made of bamboo matting thatched with grass and teak leaves, whereas on the plains the walls are made of mud, and are roofed with grass and bamboo. Like the Yānādis and Chenchus, the Malasars seem to have an objection to well-built houses, and a Malasar forester prefers his own rude hut to Government quarters.

Some Malasars work as coolies, while others are employed as agricultural labourers, or in collecting honey. A landlord keeps under him a number of Malasars, to whom he gives land free of rent, on which [397]they raise their food-crops. In return, they are expected to work in the fields, and do other services for their landlord (Mannādi), who exercises absolute control over them. Sometimes, if a landholder has a grievance against another, it is not difficult to induce his Malasars to damage the crops of his enemy. The operations connected with the catching and taming of wild elephants are carried out by Malasars. They are proverbially lazy, and will take a week’s wages in advance, and spend a good portion thereof on drink on the same day. With the remainder provisions are purchased, and they may only put in three or four days’ work in the week. Like other hill tribes, they dig up yams when food is scarce.

Marriage is generally adult, though infant marriage is not prohibited. The Malasars of the plains perform the marriage ceremonies at the home of the bride. Monday is considered an auspicious day for their celebration. On the previous day, the contracting couple stand on a pestle, and are anointed, and bathe. Two balls of cooked rice, coloured red and black, are placed in a tray, and lighted wicks are stuck into them. The flames from the two wicks should be of the same height, or the omens would be considered unfavourable. The lights are waved in front of the bride and bridegroom, to ward off the evil eye. After bathing, the couple are seated on a dais within the marriage pandal (booth), and the bridegroom ties the tāli (marriage badge) on the neck of the bride, and their hands are joined by the Mūppan (headman). The tāli consists of a brass disc, tied to a string dyed with turmeric. The couple eat from the same leaf or plate, and the ceremony is at an end.

The Malai Malasars bring the bride to the home of the bridegroom for the marriage ceremonies. The [398]bridegroom goes on a Wednesday to the bride’s house and takes her to his home on the following day. A pandal, made of Sorghum and bamboo stems, is erected. Towards evening, the tāli is tied, and the fingers of the contracting couple are linked together (kaidharam). They eat together from the same plate. The bridegroom should feed his relations and friends at his own house, as well as at that of the bride. He generally presents his mother-in-law with a female cloth, with an eight anna bit tied in the skirt thereof.

Ancestor worship is important among the Malayans. Before commencing their ceremonies, cooked rice and the flesh of the fowl are offered to the ancestors on seven leaves. On the occasion of a marriage, a little of the food is eaten by the bridegroom on a Wednesday, before he proceeds to the home of the bride.

When a girl reaches maturity, she occupies a separate hut for seven days. On the seventh day, she bathes and goes to the dwelling hut. A measure and a lamp are placed before the hut, and the girl has to go over them with her right foot foremost. She then steps backwards, and again goes over them before entering the hut.

The dead are usually buried, face upward. If the dead person was an elder, his personal effects, such as pillows, walking-stick, and clothes, are buried with him, or his corpse is cremated. Sometimes, the dead are buried in a sitting posture, in a niche excavated on one side of the grave. In the case of the Malasars of the plains, the widow chews betel leaf and areca nuts, and spits the betel over the eyes and neck of the corpse. On the third day after death, cooked rice and meat are offered to the soul of the deceased on seven arka (Calotropis gigantea) leaves. The male members of the family then eat from the same leaf. [399]

The Malasars who live in the plains consider the Ficus glomerata tree sacred, and worship it once a year. At least one branch thereof should be used in the construction of the marriage pandal, and the menstrual hut should be made of it. The Malasars of the plains also avoid the use of the Pongamia glabra tree for any purpose. The hill Malasars worship, among other deities, Ponnālamman (Māriamma), Pullarappachi (Ganēsa), and Kāliamman. To Ponnālamman, pigs and buffaloes are sacrificed once a year. The deity worshipped by the Malasars of the plains is Māriāyi (Māriamma), at whose festival a stake is fixed in the ground, and eventually shaken by the Malasars, and removed by Paraiyans. The Malasar women of the plains wear glass bangles only on the left wrist. If a woman puts such bangles on both wrists, the Paraiyans are said to break them, and report the matter to the Mūppan, who is expected to fine the woman. As Paraiyan women, like the Malasars, only wear glass bangles on one wrist, they take the wearing of bangles on both wrists by Malasar women, who are only their equals, as an insult.

The following graphic account of a Kāma Mystery Play, in which Malasars are represented, has been given by Mr. S. G. Roberts.35 “The play, as the writer saw it in a little village on the banks of the Amravati river, was at once a mystery or miracle play, a mime, a tragedy that strangely recalled the Greek choral tragedies, and a satyric drama. These various ingredients gave it a quaint nebulous character, the play now crystallising into mere drama, and again dissolving into a religious rite. Just as an understanding of the Greek mythology is [400]necessary for the full grasping of the meaning of a Greek tragedy, so it is necessary to portray the legend which is the basis of this mystery, all the more as the characters are Hindu gods. Kāma, then, is the Hindu Cupid, not a tiny little child like the Roman god of love, but more like Eros. He has beautiful attributes. His bow is of the sugar-cane; his arrows are tipped with flowers; and his bow-string is a chain of bees—a pretty touch that recalls the swallow song of the Homeric bowstring. For all that, the genius of the country has modified the local idea of Eros. He has long ago found his Psyche: in point of fact, this Hindu Eros is a married man. His wife, Rathi, is the other speaking character, and she certainly displays a beautiful eloquence not unfitting her position. Moreover, like every married man, Kāma has a father-in-law, and here the tragedy begins to loom out of the playful surroundings of a god of love of whatever nation or clime. Siva, the destroyer, he of the bright blue neck, the dweller, as Kāma tauntingly says, among graves and dead men’s ashes; Siva, mighty in penance, is father of Rathi. In the play itself, he is not even a muta persona; he does not appear at all. What he does is only adumbrated by the action or song of the other characters. The legend strikingly illustrates the Hindu view of penance. Briefly stated, it is that anyone who performs any penance for a sufficiently long time acquires such a store of power and virtue, that the very gods themselves cannot stand against it. Hindu mythology affords many examples of this belief. Siva himself, in one of his incarnations, saved the whole Indian Olympus and the universe at large from a demi-god, who, by years of penance, had become charged, as it were, with power, like a religious electric ‘accumulator.’ The early sages and heroes of [401]Indian story had greater facilities for the acquisition of this reserve of power, in that their lives lasted for centuries or even æons. It may be imagined that three centuries of penance increased the performer’s strength to a degree not expressible in modern figures! In this case, the gods had viewed with alarm a penance which Siva had begun, and which threatened to make him master of all creation. In spite of a few grotesque attributes, the mythology lends to Siva a character at once terrific and awe-inspiring. When his third eye was closed on one occasion, the universe was involved in darkness, and the legend under discussion presents a solemn picture of the god, sitting with his rosary in sackcloth and ashes, immersed in his unending penance. Kāma was deputed to break the spell. Accompanied by his nymphs, he sported before the recluse, taking all shapes that could ‘shake the saintship of an anchorite,’ till this oriental St. Anthony, but too thoroughly aroused, opened his tremendous frontal eye, and, with a flashing glance of rage, consumed the rash intruder on his solitude. Such is the legend which supplies the closing scene of the life of Kāma, a life that is celebrated, as March begins, with several days’ rejoicing in every town and village of Southern India. The writer had seen the heap of bricks that support the Kāma pillar in a village which he visited a few months after first landing in India. As March came round, he saw them in whatever village his work brought him, and the legend was impressed on his memory by a case in court, in which the momentous word ‘Kāmadakshinasivalingamedai’ (or the high place of the emblem of Siva who consumed Kāma) was pronounced by the various witnesses. It was not, however, till the spring of 1900 that an opportunity presented itself for [402]witnessing the performance of the Kāma mystery. The time of representation was the night, the playtime for old and young in India. It has this special advantage, from a theatrical point of view, that everything in a village street takes on an adventitious beauty. The heaps of dust, the ragged huts, lose their prominence, the palm trees become beautiful, and the tower of the temple grows in majesty. Everything that is ugly or incongruous seems to disappear, till the façade of a wealthy Hindu’s house wears the dignity of the old Grecian palace proscenium. The rag torches give a soft strong light, that adds effect to the spangled and laced robes of the actors, and leaves the auditory in semi-darkness, quite in accordance with Wagnerian stage tradition. Kāma was represented in full dress, with a towering, crocketed, gilded mitre or helmet, such as is worn by the images of South Indian gods. He is not like the unadorned Eros of the Greeks, and he shows his Indian blood by the green which paints the upper half of his face. Kāma had the bow of sugar-cane, and Rathi, otherwise dressed like a wealthy Hindu bride, also bore a smaller bow of the same. The buffoon must not be omitted. He figures in every Indian play, and here, besides the distinction of a girdle of massive cow bells gracefully supporting his paunch, he showed his connection with this love drama by a small bow of sugar-cane fastened upright, by one tip, to the peak of a high dunce’s cap. The play began by Kāma boastfully, and at great length, announcing his intention of disturbing Siva’s penance. Rathi did her best to dissuade him, but every argument she could use only stirred up his pride, and made him more determined on the adventure. The dialogue was sometimes sustained by the characters themselves; sometimes they sang with dreadful harshness; [403]sometimes they but swayed to and fro, as if in a Roman mimus, while the best voice in the company sang their songs for them. Now and then, the musicians would break into a chorus, which strikingly recalled, but for the absence of dancing, the Greek tragic chorus, especially in their idea of inevitable destiny, and in their lamentations over the disastrous end of the undertaking. Meanwhile, the buffoon played his part with more or less success, and backed up the astonishingly skilful and witty acting of the players, who provided the comic relief. In most Tamil dramas the action of the play is now and again suspended, while one or more comedians stroll on to the stage, and amuse the audience by a vēsham, i.e., an impersonation of different well-known street characters representing men (and women) not only of different castes, but of different nations. Needless to say, the parts they play have little or nothing to do with the subject of the drama, but they afford great scope for delineation of character. There is not, of course, in Southern India, the uniformity in dress that we notice in England of the present day. A man’s trade, profession, religion, and sect are expressed by his dress and ornament—or lack of both. To mention three of the different vēshangal shown on this occasion, there were a Mahrattah tattooing-woman, a north country fakir, and a man and woman of the Malsar caste, each of the parts being dressed to perfection, and admirably sustained. The Malsars are a low caste, and employed in certain parts as bearers of announcements of death (written on palm leaves) from the family of the deceased to relatives at a distance. As they hobbled about, bending over their short crooked crutch sticks, with turbans of twisted straw and bark, and girt with scanty and dirty sackcloth kilts, they would have made a mummy laugh; [404]and they were equally mirth-provoking when they broke into a rough song and dance peculiar to chucklers (leather-workers) when more than usually intoxicated. When Kāma had finally declared his unalterable determination to engage in his contest with Siva—a point which was only reached after discussion almost as interminable as a dialogue of Euripides—the performers, and part of the audience, moved off in a procession, which slowly perambulated the town, and halted for prayer before the village temple. The ‘stage wait’ was filled up by some simple playing and singing by a few local amateurs. This brought on the climax of the tragedy. The Kāma stake, to give it an appropriate English name, was now ready. This was a slight stake or pole, a little above a man’s height, planted among a few bricks, and made inflammable by a thatching or coating of cholum straw bound round it. The top of this straw pillar was composed of a separate sheaf. When all was ready, and the chorus had sung a strain expressive of grief at Kāma’s doom, a rocket, representing Siva’s fiery glance, shot along a string, and (with some external assistance) lighted the Kāma stake, thus closely following the procedure in an Italian church festival. The player who represented Kāma now retired into the background, as he was supposed to be dead, and the rest, hopping and dancing, circled slowly round the fire wailing for his fate. It seemed to be a matter of special import to the audience that the stake should be completely consumed. This was an omen of prosperity in the coming year. The funeral dance round the fire continued for a long while, and, when it was but a short time to sunrise, the mummers were still beating their breasts round the smouldering ashes. It seemed that, though some of the songs were composed for the occasion, [405]a great part of the play was traditional, and the audience knew what to expect at any given period in the performance. At one stage it was whispered that now the giant would come in, and lift up a sheep with his teeth. In a few moments he made his appearance, and proved to be a highly comic monster. His arms, legs, and body were tightly swathed in neatly twisted straw ropes, leaving only his feet and hands bare. His head was covered by a huge canvas mask, flat on front and back, so that the actor had the appearance of having introduced his head into the empty shell of some gigantic crab. On the flat front of this mask-dial was painted a terrible giant’s face with portentous tusks. Thus equipped, the giant skipped round the various characters, to the terror of the buffoon, brandishing a quarter-staff, and executing vigorous moulinets. An unwilling sheep was pushed into the ring, and the giant, after much struggling, tossed the animal bodily over his head with a dexterous fling that convinced most of the onlookers that he had really performed the feat with his teeth.”

Malava.—The Malavas or Mala Bhōvis are a small cultivating caste in South Canara, “the members of which were formerly hunters and fishermen. They profess Vaishnavism, and employ Shivalli Brāhmans as their priests. Hanumān is their favourite deity. Like the Bants and other castes of Tuluva, they are divided into exogamous septs called balis, and they have the dhāre form of marriage. They speak Canarese.”36 They are said to be really Mōgers, who have separated from the fishing community. The term Bhōvi is used to denote Mōgers who carry palanquins, etc.

Malavarāyan.—A title of Ambalakkāran. [406]

Malayāli.—The Malayālis or Malaiālis, whom I examined in the Salem district, dwell on the summits and slopes of the Shevaroy hills, and earn their living by cultivating grain, and working on coffee estates. Suspicious and superstitious to a degree, they openly expressed their fear that I was the dreaded settlement officer, and had come to take possession of their lands in the name of the Government, and transport them to the Andaman islands (the Indian penal settlement). When I was engaged in the innocent occupation of photographing a village, the camera was mistaken for a surveying instrument, and a protest raised. Many of them, while willing to part with their ornaments of the baser metals, were loth to sell or let me see their gold and silver jewelry, from fear lest I should use it officially as evidence of their too prosperous condition. One man told me to my face that he would rather have his throat cut than submit to my measuring operations, and fled precipitately. The women stolidly refused to entrust themselves in my hands. Nor would they bring their children (unwashed specimens of brown humanity) to me, lest they should fall sick under the influence of my evil eye.

In the account which follows I am largely indebted to Mr. H. LeFanu’s admirable, and at times amusing, Manual of the Salem district.

The word Malaiāli denotes inhabitant of the hills (malai = hill or mountain). The Malaiālis have not, however, like the Todas of the Nilgiris, any claim to be considered as an ancient hill tribe, but are a Tamil-speaking people, who migrated from the plains to the hills in comparatively recent times. As a shrewd, but unscientific observer put it concisely to me, they are Tamils of the plains with the addition of a kambli or blanket; which kambli is a luxury denied to the females, [407]but does duty for males, young and old, in the triple capacity of great coat, waterproof, and blanket. According to tradition, the Malaiālis originally belonged to the Vellāla caste of cultivators, and emigrated from the sacred city of Kānchipuram (Conjeeveram) to the hills about ten generations ago, when Muhammadan rule was dominant in Southern India. When they left Kānchi, they took with them, according to their story, three brothers, of whom the eldest came to the Shevaroy hills, the second to the Kollaimalais, and the youngest to the Pachaimalais (green hills). The Malaiālis of the Shevaroys are called the Peria (big) Malaiālis, those of the Kollaimalais the Chinna (little) Malaiālis. According to another version “the Malaiāli deity Karirāman, finding himself uncomfortable at Kānchi, took up a new abode. Three of his followers, named Periyanan, Naduvanan, and Chinnanan (the eldest, the middle-man, and the youngest) started with their families to follow him from Kānchi, and came to the Salem district, where they took different routes, Periyanan going to the Shevaroys, Naduvanan to the Pachaimalais and Anjūr hills, and Chinnanan to Manjavādi.”

A further version of the legendary origin of the Malaiālis of the Trichinopoly district is given by Mr. F. R. Hemingway, who writes as follows. “Their traditions are embodied in a collection of songs (nāttukattu). The story goes that they are descended from a priest of Conjeeveram, who was the brother of the king, and, having quarrelled with the latter, left the place, and entered this country with his three sons and daughters. The country was then ruled by Vēdans and Vellālans, who resisted the new-comers. But ‘the conch-shell blew and the quoit cut,’ and the invaders won the day. They then spread themselves about the hills, the [408]eldest son (Periyanan), whose name was Sadaya Kavundan, selecting the Shevaroys in Salem, the second son (Naduvanan, the middle brother) the Pachaimalais, and the youngest (Chinnanan) the Kollaimalais. They married women of the country, Periyanan taking a Kaikōlan, Naduvanan a Vēdan, and Chinnanan a ‘Dēva Indra’ Pallan. They gave their sister in marriage to a Tottiyan stranger, in exchange for some food supplied by him after their battle with the men of the country. Some curious customs survive, which are pointed to in support of this story. Thus, the women of the Pachaimalai Malaiyālis put aside a portion of each meal in honour of their Vēdan ancestors before serving their husbands, and, at their marriages, they wear a comb, which is said to have been a characteristic ornament of the Vēdans. Bridegrooms place a sword and an arrow in the marriage booth, to typify the hunting habits of the Vēdans, and their own conquest of the country. The Malaiyālis of the Kollaimalais are addressed by Pallan women as brother-in-law (macchān), though the Malaiyālis do not relish this. It is also said that Tottiyan men regard Malaiyālis as their brothers-in-law, and always treat them kindly, and that the Tottiyan women regard the Malaiyālis as their brothers, but treat them very coldly, in remembrance of their having sold their sister ‘for a mess of pottage.’”

The account, which the Malaiālis of the Javādi hills in North Arcot give of their origin, is as follows.37 “In S.S. 1055 (1132 A.D.) some of the Vēdars of Kangundi asked that wives should be given them by the Karaikkāt Vellālas of Conjeeveram. They were scornfully refused, and in anger kidnapped seven young Vellāla maidens, [409]whom they carried away to Kangundi. To recover them, seven Vellāla men set out with seven dogs, leaving instructions with their wives that, if the dogs returned alone, they should consider that they had perished, and should cause the funeral ceremonies to be performed. Arriving at the Pālār, they found the river in flood, and crossed it with difficulty ; but their dogs, after swimming half way, turned back and returned to Conjeeveram. The men, however, continued their journey, and killed the Vēdars who had taken away their maidens, after which they went back to their homes, but found that they had been given up as lost, their wives had become widows, their funeral ceremonies performed, and they were in consequence outcastes. Under these circumstances, they contracted marriages with some Vēdar women, and retired to the Javādis, where they took to cultivation, and became the ancestors of the Malaiāli caste. This account has been preserved by the Malaiālis in a small palm-leaf book.” There is, Mr. Francis writes,38 a tradition in the South Arcot district that “the hills were inhabited by Vēdans, and that the Malaiālis killed the men, and wedded the women; and at marriages a gun is still fired in the air to represent the death of the Vēdan husband.” The Malaiālis returned themselves, at the last census, as Karaikkāt Vellālas. The Malaiālis of South Arcot call themselves Kongu Vellālas. All the branches of the community agree in saying that they are Vellālans, who emigrated from Kānchipuram, bringing with them their god Karirāman, and, at the weddings of the Kalrāyans in South Arcot, the presiding priest sings a kind of chant just before the tāli is tied, which begins with the words Kānchi, the (sacred) place, and Karirāman in [410]front. Copper sāsanams show that the migration occurred at least as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The Malaiālis of the Shevaroys call themselves Kānchimandalam. Many, at the last census, returned themselves as Vellāla and Kārālan. Malakkāran and Mala Nāyakkan are also used as synonyms for Malaiāli. All have Goundan as their second name, which is universally used in hailing them. The first name is sometimes derived from a Hindu god, and my notes record Mr. Green, Mr. Black, Mr. Little, Mr. Short, Mr. Large, and Mr. Big nose.

As regards the conditions under which the Malaiālis of the Salem district hold land, I learn from the Manual that, in 1866, the Collector fixed an area around each village for the cultivation of the Malaiālis exclusively, and, in view to prevent aggression on the part of the planters, had the boundaries of these areas surveyed and demarcated. This area is known as the “village green.” With this survey the old system of charging the Malaiālis on ploughs and hoes appears to have been discontinued, and they are now charged at one rupee per acre on the extent of their holdings. The lands within the green are given under the ordinary darakhāst39 rules to the Malaiālis, but outside it they are sold under the special waste land rules of 1863. In 1870 the Board of Revenue decided that, where the lands within the green are all occupied, and the Malaiālis require more land for cultivation, land outside the limits of the green may be given them under the ordinary darakhāst rules. In 1871 it was discovered that the planters tried to get lands outside the green by making the Malaiālis first apply for it, thereby evading the waste land rules. The [411]Board then ordered that, if there was reason to suspect that a Malaiāli was applying for lands outside the green on account of the planters, the patta (deed of lease) might be refused.

Subscribing vaguely to the Hindu religion, the Malaiālis, who believe that their progenitors wore the sacred thread, give a nominal allegiance to both Siva and Vishnu, as well as to a number of minor deities, and believe in the efficacy of a thread to ward off sickness and attacks by devils or evil spirits. “In the year 1852,” Mr. LeFanu writes, “a searching enquiry into the traditions, customs, and origin of these Malaiālis was made. They then stated that smearing the face with ashes indicates the religion of Siva, and putting nāmam that of Vishnu, but that there is no difference between the two religions; that, though Sivarātri sacred to Siva, and Srirāmanavami and Gōkulāshtami sacred to Vishnu, appear outwardly to denote a difference, there is really none. Though they observe the Saturdays of the month Peratāsi sacred to Vishnu, still worship is performed without reference to Vishnu or Siva. They have, indeed, certain observances, which would seem to point to a division into Vaishnavas and Saivas, the existence of which they deny; as for instance, some, out of respect to Siva, abstain from sexual intercourse on Sundays and Mondays; and others, for the sake of Vishnu, do the same on Fridays and Saturdays. So, too, offerings are made to Vishnu on Fridays and Saturdays, and to Siva on Sundays and Mondays; but they denied the existence of sects among them.”

“On the Kalrāyans,” Mr. Francis writes,40 “are very many shrines to the lesser gods. The Malaiālis [412]themselves do the pūja (worship). The deities include Māriamma, Draupadi, and many other village goddesses. In some of the temples are placed the prehistoric celts and other stone implements which are found on these hills. The people do not understand what these are, and reverence them accordingly. The practice of taking oaths before these shrines to settle disputes is common. The party makes a solemn affidavit of the truth of his case in the presence of the god, holding some burning camphor in his hand. Having made his statement, he blows out the flame to signify that, if he is lying, the god is welcome to snuff him out in the same sudden manner.”

In April 1896, I paid a visit to the picturesquely situated village of Kiliūr, not far distant from the town of Yercaud, on the occasion of a religious festival. The villagers were discovered, early in the morning, painting pseudo-sect-marks on their foreheads with blue and pink coal-tar dyes, with the assistance of hand looking-glasses of European manufacture purchased at the weekly market, and decorating their turbans and ears with the leafy stems of Artemisia austriaca, var. orientalis, and hedge-roses. The scene of the ceremonial was in a neighbouring sacred grove of lofty forest trees, wherein were two hut temples, of which one contained images of the goddess Draupadi and eight minor deities, the other images of Perumāl and his wife. All the gods and goddesses were represented by human figures of brass and clay. Two processional cars were gaily decorated with plantain leaves and flags, some made in Germany. As the villagers arrived, they prostrated themselves before the temples, and whiled away the time, till the serious business of the day began, in gossiping with their friends, and partaking of light refreshment purchased [413]from the fruit and sweetmeat sellers, who were doing a brisk trade. At 10 A.M. the proceedings were enlivened by a band of music, which played at intervals throughout the performance, and the gods were decorated with flowers and jewelry. An hour later, pūja was done to the stone image of the god Vignēswara, within a small shrine built of slabs of rock. Before this idol cooked rice was offered, and camphor burnt. The plantain stems, with leaves, were tied to a tree in the vicinity of the temples, and cooked rice and cocoanuts placed beneath the tree. A man holding a sword, issued forth, and, in unison with the collected assemblage, screamed out “Gōvinda, Gōvinda” (the name of their god). The plantain stems were next removed from the tree, carried in procession with musical honours, and placed before the threshold of one of the temples. Then some men appeared on the scene to the cry of “Gōvinda,” bearing in one hand a light, and ringing a bell held in the other. Holy water was sprinkled over the plantain stems, and pūja done to the god Perumāl by offering sāmai (grain) and burning camphor. Outside one of the temples a cloth was spread on the ground, and the images of Draupadi and other deities placed therein. From the other temple Perumāl and his wife were brought forth in state, and placed on two cars. A yellow powder was distributed among the crowd, and smeared over the face. A cocoanut was broken, and camphor burnt before Perumāl. Then all the gods, followed by the spectators, were carried in procession round the grove, and a man, becoming inspired and seized with a fine religious frenzy, waved a sword wildly around him, but with due respect for his own bodily safety, and pointed it in a threatening manner at the crowd. Asked, as an oracle, whether the omens were propitious to the village, he gave vent to [414]the oracular (and true) response that for three years there would be a scarcity of rain, and that there would be famine in the land, and consequent suffering. This performance concluded, a bamboo pole was erected, bearing a pulley at the top, with which cocoanuts and plantains were connected by a string. By means of this string, the fruits were alternately raised and lowered, and men, armed with sticks, tried to hit them, while turmeric water was dashed in their faces just as they were on the point of striking. The fruits, being at last successfully hit, were received as a prize by the winner. The gods were then taken back to their temple, and three men, overcome by a mock convulsive seizure, were brought to their senses by stripes on the back administered with a rope by the pūjari (officiating priest). A sheep being produced, mantrams (prayers) were recited over it. The pūjāri, going to a pool close by, bathed, and smeared turmeric powder over his face. A pretence was made to cut the sheep’s throat, and blood drawn with a knife. The pūjāri, after sucking the blood, returned to the pool, and indulged in a ceremonial ablution, while the unhappy sheep was escorted to the village, and eventually eaten at a banquet by the villagers and their guests.

An annual festival, in honour of the god Sērvarāyan, is held at the shrine on the summit of the Shēvarāyan hill, past which a stream flows. At this festival, in 1904, “on one side of the temple, two long rows of fruit, flower, and grain stalls were erected. Supported on two posts was a merry-go-round with wooden seats instead of boats, the cost of a ride thereon being a quarter of an anna. Women carried their children to a pool of water beside the temple, known as the wishing well, and, after sprinkling some of the holy fluid on themselves and their offspring, spoke their wishes aloud, fully believing [415]that they would be granted. Suddenly there was a beating of drums, and blowing of trumpets, and horns, which announced the time when the god was to be brought out, and shown to the people, who made a rush to the temple, to obtain a good view. The god was carried by two priests robed in white, with garlands of jasmine round their necks. Then followed two other priests, clothed in the same manner, who bore the goddess on their shoulders. Another carried the holy water and fire in silver vessels from the temple, sprinkling the former in front of the deities, and the latter they passed before them. These services being completed, each deity was placed on a wooden horse with gay trappings, and carried to the top of the hill, where they were met with shouts from the people. The deities were placed in a palanquin, and carried to the four points of the hill, and, at each point, the men put their burden down, and cocoanuts were broken in front of them, and fruit, grain, and even copper coins were scattered. Those who wished to take the vow to be faithful to their god had to receive fifteen lashes on their bare backs with a stout leather thong, administered by the chief priest. When questioned about the pain, they answered, ‘Oh, it is nothing. It is just like being scratched by an ant.’ The god and goddess were then carried back into the temple.”41

Of this festival, as celebrated in May, 1908, the following account has been given.42 “The annual Malayāli festival was held on the top of Shēvarāyan. It was the occasion of the marriage anniversary of the god Sērvarāyan, after whom the Shevaroy Hills have been named, to a goddess, the presiding deity of the Cauvery [416]river. This hill is believed by the Malayālis to be the place where their god Sērvarāyan lived, died, and was buried. On one side of the hill, the temple of the god nestles in the midst of a sacred grove of trees. Some say that there is a secret tunnel leading from the shrine to another part of the hill, and a second one opening lower down into Bear’s Cave. It was an interesting sight to watch visitors and devotees as they came from the four quarters of the Shevaroys. A few hill-men danced a serpentine dance, stepping to the music supplied by village drums, and occasional shrill blasts from the horns. Huge cauldrons were sending up blue wreaths of smoke into the sky, which, it was explained to us, contained food to be dispensed as charity to the poor. The temple yard was hung with flowers and leaves, with which also the rude structure known as the temple gate was decorated. On the summit of the hill, wares of all sorts and conditions were displayed to tempt purchasers. The articles for sale consisted of fruits, palm sugar, cocoanuts, monkey nuts, and other nuts, mirrors which proved very popular among the fair sex, fancy boxes, coloured powder for caste marks, cloth bags, strings of sweet-scented flowers, rattles for children, etc.... We were startled by hearing the noise of loud drums and shrill trumpets, and were told that the god was about to be brought forth. This was accompanied by shouting, clapping, and the beating of drums. The god and goddess were placed in two chariots, bedecked with flowers, jewels and tapestries, and umbrellas and fans also figured prominently. The procession passed up to the left of the temple, the deities being supported on the shoulders of sturdy Malayālis. As the people met it, they threw fruit, nuts, and cocoanut water after the cars. The god [417]was next placed by the temple pūjāri (priest) in the triumphal car, and was led with the goddess to that part of the hill from which the Cauvery can best be seen. Here the procession halted while the priest recited some incantations. Then it marched down the hill, sometimes resting the god on cairns specially built for the purpose, from where a view of the outlying villages is obtained. The belief is that, as the god glances at these villages, he invokes blessings on them, and the villagers will always live in prosperity.”

To Mr. W. Mahon Daly, I am indebted for the following account of a Malaiāli bull dance, at which he was present as an eye-witness. “It is the custom on the Shevaroy hills, as well as the plains, to have a bull dance after the Pongal festival, and I had the pleasure of witnessing one in a Malaiāli village. It was held in an open enclosure called the manthay, adjoining the village. It faces the Māriamma shrine, and is the place of resort on festive occasions. The village councils, marriages, and other ceremonies are held here. On our arrival, we were courteously invited to sit under a wide spreading fig-tree. The bull dance would literally mean a bull dancing, but I give the translation of the Tamil ‘yerothu-attum,’ the word attum meaning dance. This is a sport which is much in vogue among the Malaiālis, and is celebrated with much éclat immediately after Pongal, this being the principal festival observed by them. No doubt they have received the custom from those in the plains. A shooting excursion follows as the next sport, and, if they be so fortunate as to hunt down a wild boar or deer, or any big game, a second bull dance is got up. We were just in time to see the tamāsha (spectacle). The manthay was becoming crowded, a regular influx of spectators, mostly women [418]arrayed in their best cloths, coming in from the neighbouring villages. These were marshalled in a circle round the manthay, all standing. I was told that they were not invited, but that it was customary for them to pour in of their own accord when any sports or ceremonial took place in a village; and the inhabitants of the particular village were prepared to expect a large company, whom they fed on such occasions. After the company had collected, drums were beaten, and the long brass bugles were blown; and, just at this juncture, we saw an elderly Malaiāli bring from his hut a coil of rope made of leather, and hand it over to the pūjāri or priest in charge of the temple. The latter placed it in front of the shrine, worshipped it thrice, some of the villagers following suit, and, after offering incense, delivered it to a few respectable village men, who in turn made it over to a lot of Malaiāli men, whose business it was to attach it to the bulls. This rope the oldest inhabitant of the village had the right to keep. The bulls had been previously selected, and penned alongside of the manthay, from which they were brought one by one, and tied with the rope, leaving an equal length on either side. The rope being fixed on, the bull was brought to the manthay, held on both sides by any number who were willing, or as many as the rope would permit. More than fifteen on either side held on to a bull, which was far too many, for the animal had not the slightest chance of making a dart or plunge at the man in front, who was trying to provoke it by using a long bamboo with a skin attached to the end. When the bull was timid, and avoided his persecutors, he was hissed and hooted by those behind, and, if these modes of provocation failed to rouse his anger, he was simply dragged to and fro by main force, and let loose when his strength was almost exhausted. A [419]dozen or more bulls are taken up and down the manthay, and the tamāsha is over. When the manthay happens to have a slope, the Malaiālis have very little control over the bull, and, in some instances, I have seen them actually dragged headlong to the ground at the expense of a few damaged heads. The spectators, and all the estate coolies who were present, were fed that night, and slept in the village. If a death occurs in the village a few days before the festival, I am told that the dance is postponed for a week. This certainly, as far as I know, is not the custom in the plains.”

The man of highest rank is the guru, who is invited to settle disputes in villages, to which he comes, on pony-back or on foot, with an umbrella over him, and accompanied by music. The office of guru is hereditary, and, when he dies, his son succeeds him, unless he is a minor, in which case the brother of the deceased man steps into his shoes. If, in sweeping the hut, the broom touches any one, or when a Malaiāli has been kicked by a European or released from prison, he must be received back into his caste. For this purpose he goes to the guru, who takes him to the temple, where a screen is put up between the guru and the applicant for restoration of caste privileges. Holy water is dedicated to the swāmi(god), by the guru, and a portion thereof drunk by the man, who prostrates himself before the guru, and subsequently gives a feast of pork, mutton, and other delicacies. The Malaiālis, it may be noted, will eat sheep, pigs, fowls, various birds, and black monkeys.

Each village on the Shevaroys has its own headman, an honorary appointment, carrying with it the privilege of an extra share of the good things, when a feast is being held. A Kangāni is appointed to do duty under [420]the headman, and receives annually from every hut two ballams of grain. When disputes occur, e.g., between two brothers regarding a woman or partition of property, the headman summons a panchāyat (village council), which has the power to inflict fines in money, sheep, etc., according to the gravity of the offence. For every group of ten villages there is a Pattakāran (head of a division), who is expected to attend on the occasion of marriages and car festivals. A bridegroom has to give him eight days before his marriage a rupee, a packet of betel leaves, and half a measure of nuts. Serving under the Pattakāran is the Maniakāran, whose duty it is to give notice of a marriage to the ten villages, and to summon the villagers thereto.

In April 1898, on receipt of news of a wedding at a distant village, I proceeded thither through coffee estates rich with white flowers bursting into flower under the grateful influence of a thunderstorm. En route, a view was obtained of the Golden Horn, an overhanging rock with a drop of a thousand feet, down which the Malaiālis swing themselves in search for honey. On the track through the jungle a rock, known from the fancied resemblance of the holes produced by weathering to hoof-marks as the kudre panji (horse’s footprints), was passed. Concerning this rock, the legend runs that a horse jumped on to it at one leap from the top of the Shēvarāyan hill, and at the next leap reached the plains at the foot of the hills. The village, which was the scene of the festivities, was, like other Malaiāli villages, made up of detached bee-hive huts of bamboo, thatched with palm-leaves and grass, and containing a central room surrounded by a verandah—the home of pigs, goats, and fowls. Other huts, of similar bee-hive shape, but smaller, were used as storehouses for the grain [421]collected at the harvest-season. These grain-stores have no entrance, and the thatched roof has to be removed, to take out the grain for use. Tiled roofs, such as are common in the Badaga villages on the Nīlgiris, are forbidden, as their use would be an innovation, which would excite the anger of the Malaiāli gods. The Malaiālis have religious scruples against planing or smoothing with an adze the trees which they fell. The area of lands used to be ascertained by guesswork, not measurement, and much opposition was made to an attempt to introduce chain measurements, the Malaiālis expressing themselves willing to pay any rent imposed, if their lands were not measured. Huts built on piles contain the flocks, which, during the day, are herded in pens which are removable, and, by moving the pens, the villagers manage to get the different parts of their fields manured. Round the village a low wall usually runs, and, close by, are the coffee, tobacco, and other cultivated crops. Outside the village, beneath a lofty tree, was a small stone shrine, capped with a stone slab, wherein were stacked a number of neolithic celts, which the Malaiālis reverence as thunderbolts from heaven. I was introduced to the youthful and anxious bridegroom, clad in his wedding finery, who stripped before the assembled crowd, in order that I might record his jewelry and garments. On the first day, the bridegroom, accompanied by his relations, takes the modest dowry of grain and money (usually five rupees) to the bride’s village, and arranges for the performance of the nalangu ceremony on the following day. If the bride and bridegroom belong to the same village, this ceremony is performed by the pair seated on a cot. Otherwise it is performed by each separately. The elders of the village take a few drops of castor-oil, and rub it into the heads [422]of the bride and bridegroom; afterwards washing the oil off with punac (Bassia oil-cake) and alum water. One of the elders then dips betel-leaves and arugum-pillu (Cynodon Dactylon) in milk, and with them describes a circle round the heads of the young couple, who do obeisance by bowing their heads. The proceedings wind up with a feast of pork and other luxuries. On the following day, the ceremony of tying the tāli (marriage emblem) round the bride’s neck is performed. The bride, escorted by her party, comes to the bridegroom’s village, and remains outside it, while the bridegroom brings a light, a new mat, and three bundles of betel leaves and half a measure of areca nuts, which are distributed among the crowd. The happy pair then enter the village, accompanied by music. Beneath a pandal (booth) there is a stone representing the god, marked with the nāmam, and decorated with burning lamps and painted earthen pots. Before this stone the bride and bridegroom seat themselves in the presence of the guru, who is seated on a raised dais. Flowers are distributed among the wedding guests, and the tāli, made of gold, is tied round the bride’s neck. This done, the feet of both bride and bridegroom are washed with alum water, and presents of small coin received. The contracting parties then walk three times round the stone, before which they prostrate themselves, and receive the blessing of the assembled elders. The ceremony concluded, they go round the village, riding on the same pony. The proceedings again terminate with a feast. I gather that the bride lives apart from her husband for eleven or fifteen days, during which time he is permitted to visit her at meal times, with the object, as my interpreter expressed it, of “finding out if the bride loves her husband or not. If she does [423]not love him, she is advised by the guru and headman to do so, because there are many cases in which the girls, after marriage, if they are matured, go away with other Malaiālis. If this matter comes to the notice of the guru, she says that she does not like to live with him. After enquiry, the husband is permitted to marry another girl.”

A curious custom prevailing among the Malaiālis, which illustrates the Hindu love of offspring, is thus referred to by Mr. Le Fanu. “The sons, when mere children, are married to mature females, and the father-in-law of the bride assumes the performance of the procreative function, thus assuming for himself and his son a descendant to take them out of Put. When the putative father comes of age, and, in their turn, his wife’s male offspring are married, he performs for them the same office which his father did for him. Thus, not only is the religious idea involved in the words Putra and Kumāran carried out, but also the premature strain on the generative faculties, which this tradition entails, is avoided. The accommodation is reciprocal, and there is something on physiological grounds to recommend it.” Putra means literally one who saves from Put, a hell into which those who have not produced a son fall. Hindus believe that a son can, by the performance of certain rites, save the souls of his ancestors from this place of torture. Hence the anxiety of every Hindu to get married, and beget male offspring. Kumāran is the second stage in the life of an individual, which is divided into infancy, childhood, manhood, and old age. Writing to me recently, a Native official assures me that “the custom of linking a boy in marriage to a mature female, though still existing, has, with the advance of the times, undergone a slight yet decent change. The father-in-law [424]of the bride has relieved himself of the awkward predicament into which the custom drove him, and now leaves the performance of the procreative function to others accepted by the bride.”

Widow remarriage among the Peria Malaiālis is, I am informed, forbidden, though widows are permitted to contract irregular alliances. But, writing concerning the Malaiālis of the Dharmapuri tāluk of the Salem district, Mr. Le Fanu states that “it is almost imperative on a widow to marry again. Even at eighty years of age, a widow is not exempted from this rule, which nothing but the most persistent obstinacy on her part can evade. It is said that, in case a widow be not remarried at once, the Pattakār sends for her to his own house, to avoid which the women consent to re-enter the state of bondage.” Of the marriage customs of the Malaiālis of the Javādi hills the same author writes that “these hills are inhabited by Malaiālis, who style themselves Vellālars and Pachai Vellālars, the latter being distinguished by the fact that their females are not allowed to tattoo themselves, or tie their hair in the knot called ‘kondai.’ The two classes do not intermarry. In their marriage ceremonies they dispense with the service of a Brāhman. Monday is the day chosen for the commencement of the ceremony, and the tāli is tied on the following Friday, the only essential being that the Monday and Friday concerned must not follow new-moon days. They are indifferent about choosing a ‘lakkinam’ (muhūrtham or auspicious day) for the commencement of the marriage, or for tying the tāli. Widows are allowed to remarry. When a virgin or a widow has to be married, the selection of a husband is not left to the woman concerned, or to her parents. It is the duty of the Ūrgoundan to inquire what marriageable [425]women there may be in the village, and then to summon the Pāttan, or headman of the caste, to the spot. The latter, on his arrival, convenes a panchāyat of the residents, and, with their assistance, selects a bridegroom. The parents of the happy couple then fix the wedding day, and the ceremony is performed accordingly. The marriage of a virgin is called ‘kaliānam’ or ‘marriage proper’; that of a widow being styled ‘kattigiradu’ or ‘tying’ (cf. Anglice noose, nuptial knot). Adultery is regarded with different degrees of disfavour according to the social position of the co-respondents. If a married woman, virgin or widow, commits adultery with a man of another caste, or if a male Vellālan commits adultery with a woman of another caste, the penalty is expulsion from caste. Where, however, the paramour belongs to the Vellāla caste, a caste panchāyat is held, and the woman is fined Rs. 3–8–9, and the man Rs. 7. After the imposition of the fine, Brāhman supremacy is recognised, the guru having the privilege of administering the tirtam, or holy water, to the culprits for their purification. For the performance of this rite his fee varies from 4 annas to 12 rupees. The tirtam may either be administered by the guru in person, or may be sent by him to the Nāttān for the purpose. The fine imposed on the offenders is payable by their relatives, however distant; and, if there be no relatives, then the offenders are transported from their village to a distant place. Where the adulteress is a married woman, she is permitted to return to her husband, taking any issue she may have had by her paramour. In special cases a widow is permitted to marry her deceased husband’s brother. Should a widow remarry, her issue by her former husband belong to his relatives, and are not transferable to the second husband. The same rule holds good in successive [426]remarriages. Where there may be no relatives of the deceased husband forthcoming to take charge of the children, the duty of caring for them devolves on the Ūrgoundan, who is bound to receive and protect them. The Vellalars generally bury their dead, except in cases where a woman quick with child, or a man afflicted with leprosy has died, the bodies in these cases being burnt. No ceremony is performed at child-birth; but the little stranger receives a name on the fifteenth day. When a girl attains puberty, she is relegated to a hut outside the village, where her food is brought to her, and she is forbidden to leave the hut either day or night. The same menstrual and death customs are observed by the Peria Malaiālis, who bury their dead in the equivalent of a cemetery, and mark the site by a mound of earth and stones. At the time of the funeral, guns are discharged by a firing party, and, at the grave, handfuls of earth are, as at a Christian burial service, thrown over the corpse.”

If a woman among the Malaiālis of the Javādi hills commits adultery, the young men of the tribe are said to be let loose on her, to work their wicked way, after which she is put in a pit filled with cow-dung and other filth. An old man naively remarked that adultery was very rare.

At a wedding among the Malaiālis of the South Arcot district, “after the tāli is tied, the happy couple crook their little fingers together, and a two-anna bit is placed between the fingers, and water is poured over their hands. The priest offers betel and nut to Kari Rāman, and then a gun is fired into the air.”43

The father of a would-be bridegroom among the Malaiālis of the Yēlagiris, when he hears of the existence [427]of a suitable bride, repairs to her village, with some of his relations, and seeks out the Ūrgoundan or headman, between whom and the visitors mutual embraces are exchanged. The object of the visit is explained, and the father says that he will abide by the voice of four in the matter. If the match is fixed up, he gives a feast in honour of the event. When the visitors enter the future bride’s house, the eldest daughter-in-law of the house appears on the threshold, and takes charge of the walking-stick of each person who goes in. She then, with some specially prepared sandal-paste, makes a circular mark on the foreheads of the guests, and retires. The feast then takes place, and she again appears before the party retire, and returns the walking-sticks.44

At a marriage among the Malai Vellālas of the Coimbatore district, the bride has to cry during the whole ceremony, which lasts three days. Otherwise she is considered an “ill woman.” When she can no longer produce genuine tears, she must bawl out. If she does not do this, the bridegroom will not marry her. In the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,45 “a Malaiāli bride is sometimes carried off by force, but this custom is viewed with much disfavour, and the bridegroom who resorts to it must paint his face with black and white dots, and carry an old basket filled with broken pots and other rubbish, holding a torn sieve over him as an umbrella, before the celebration of the marriage. At the wedding, the bridegroom gives the girl’s father a present of money, and a pile of firewood sufficient for the two days’ feast. On the first day the food consists of rice and dhāl (Cajanus indicus), and on the second day pork curry is consumed. At sunrise on the third day [428]the bridegroom produces the tāli. A sword is then laid on the laps of the bridal pair, and the Nāttān (headman), or an elderly man blesses the tāli, and gives it to the bridegroom, who ties it round the bride’s neck. Before marriage, a man has to serve for at least a year in the house of the bride, in order to receive the consent of her parents.”

“The North Arcot Malaiālis,” Mr. Stuart writes, “occupy eighteen nādus or districts. The Nāttān (headman) of Kanamalai nādu is called the Periya (big) Nādan, and is the headman of the caste. He has the power to nominate Nāttāns for other nādus, to call caste panchāyats, to preside over any such meetings, and to impose fines, and excommunicate any Malaiāli. He can inflict corporal punishment, such as whipping with a tamarind switch, on those persons who violate their tribal customs. This power is sometimes delegated by him to the other Nāttāns. Of the fines collected, the Periya Nāttān takes two shares, and the rest is distributed equally among the Ūrāns (village heads). The village precincts are considered sacred, and even Brāhmans are desired to walk barefoot along their alleys. They are both Saivites and Vaishnavites, and worship Kāli and Perumāl, wearing the nāmam and sacred ashes alike. Their worship is somewhat peculiar, and kept more or less a mystery. Its chief object is Kāli, in whose honour they celebrate a feast once a year, lasting for fifteen days. During this time no people of the plains venture near them, believing that no intruder will ever leave the spot alive. Even the Malaiāli women are studiously debarred from witnessing the rites, and those who take part in them are not permitted to speak to a woman, even should she be his wife. The ceremonies take place in the open air, at a particular [429]spot on the hills, where the goddess is to be adored in the shape of a stone called Vellandiswāmi. The nature of the rites it is difficult to learn. In the village they worship, also excluding women, small images of Venkatēswara of Tirupati, which are carefully concealed in caskets, and not allowed to be seen by people of other castes. A few bundles of tobacco are buried with the dead. When any one falls ill, the Malaiālis do not administer medicine, but send for a pūjāri, and ask him which god or goddess the patient had offended. The assessment paid to Government by them is a fixed charge for each plough or hoe possessed, without reference to the extent of land cultivated. They collect jungle produce, particularly the glandular hairs of the fruits of a certain flower (Mallotus philippinensis), which is used by the Rangāris for dyeing silk a rich orange, and the roots of a plant called shenalinsedi, supposed to possess wonderful medicinal virtues, curing, among other things, snake-bite.” The Malaiālis of the Javādi hills in the North Arcot district also earn a living by felling bamboos and sandal trees.

The Malaiālis snare with nets, and shoot big game—deer, tigers, leopards, bears, and pigs—with guns of European manufacture. Mr. Le Fanu narrates that, during the Pongal feast, all the Malaiālis of the Kalrāyans go hunting, or, as they term it, for parvēttai. Should the Pālaiagar fail to bring something down, usage requires that the pūjāri should deprive him of his kudumi or top-knot. He generally begs himself off the personal degradation, and a servant undergoes the operation in his stead. A few years ago, a party of Malaiālis of the Shevaroys went out shooting with blunderbusses and other quaint weapons, and bagged a leopard, which they carried on a frame-work, with jaws [430]wide open and tail erect, round Yercaud, preceded by tom-toms, and with men dancing around.

The Malaiāli men on the Shevaroys wear a turban and brown kumbli (blanket), which does duty as great coat, mackintosh, and umbrella. A bag contains their supply of betel and tobacco, and they carry a bill-hook and gourd water-vessel, and a coffee walking-stick. As ornaments they wear bangles, rings on the fingers and toes, and in the nose and ears. The women are tattooed by Korava women who come round on circuit, on the forehead, outside the orbits, cheeks, arms, and hands. Golden ornaments adorn their ears and nose, and they also wear armlets, toe-rings, and bangles, which are sometimes supplemented by a tooth-pick and ear-scoop pendent from a string round the neck. For dress, a sāri made of florid imported cotton fabric is worn. I have seen women smoking cheroots, made from tobacco locally cultivated, wrapped up in a leaf of Gmelina arborea. Tattooing is said to be forbidden among the Malaiālis of the Javādi hills in North Arcot.

Concerning the Malaiālis of the Trichinopoly district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. “As far as this district is concerned, they are inhabitants of the Pachaimalais and Kollaimalais. The Malaiālis of the two ranges will not intermarry, but have no objection to dining together. For purposes of the caste discipline, the villages of both sub-divisions are grouped into nādus. Each nādu contains some twenty or thirty villages. Each village has a headman called on the Pachaimalais Mūppan, and on the Kollaimalais Ur-Kavundan or Kutti-Māniyam. Again, on the Pachaimalais, every five or ten villages make up a sittambalam, over which is a Kavundan, and each nādu is ruled by a Periya Kavundan. In the Kollaimalais there are no [431]sittambalams, but the nādu there is also presided over by a Periya Kavundan, who is sometimes called a Sādi Kavundan. Again, on the Kollaimalais, the first four nādus are grouped into one pattam under the Pattakāran of Valappūr, and the other three into another under the Pattakāran of Sakkiratti. The nādu headmen on the Pachaimalais also do duty as Pattakārans. All these appointments are hereditary. The permission of the Pattakāran has to be obtained before a marriage can take place, but, on the Kollaimalais, he deputes this power to the Sādi Kavundan. The Pattakārans of both ranges have recognised privileges, such as the right to ride on horseback, and use umbrellas, which are denied to the common folk.

“The Malaiyālis recognise the sanctity of the large Vishnu temple at Srīrangam, and of the Siva temple at Anaplēsvaran Kovil on the Kollaimalais. To the festival of the latter in Adi (July-August) the Malaiyālis of all three divisions flock. In every village is a temple or image of Perumāl. Kali is also commonly worshipped, but the Malaiyālis do not connect her with Siva. Almost every village further contains temples to Māriyayi, the goddess of cholera, and to the village goddess Pidāri. On the Kollaimalais, Kāli is also looked upon as a village goddess, but she has no attendant Karuppans, nor is she worshipped by shedding blood. Pidāri is often called Manu Pidāri on the Pachaimalais, and is represented by a heap of mud. At midnight, a sheep and some cooked rice are taken to this, a man cleaning the pathway to the temple by dragging a bunch of leaves. The sheep is killed, and its lungs are inflated and placed on the heap. On the Kollaimalais two other goddesses, Nāchi and Kongalayi, are commonly worshipped. At the worship of the former, perfect silence must be [432]observed, and women are not allowed to be in the village at the time. It is supposed that, if anyone speaks during the ceremony, he will be stung by bees or other insects. The goddess has no image, but is supposed to appear from the surface of the ground, and to glitter like the comb of a cock. Kongalayi has an image, and her worship is accompanied by music. All these goddesses are worshipped every year before the ground is cultivated. The Malaiyālis, like the people of the plains, worship Pattavans. But, on the Kollaimalais, instead of thinking that these are people who have died a violent death, they say they are virtuous men and good sportsmen, who have lived to a ripe old age. The test of the apotheosis of such a one is that his castemen should have a successful day’s sport on some day that they have set aside in his honour. They sometimes offer regular sacrifices to the Pattavans, but more usually offer the head of any game they shoot. Sometimes a man will dream of some evil spirit turning Pattavan, and then he is taken to a Strychnos Nux-vomica tree, and his hair nailed to the trunk and cut. This is supposed to free the caste from further molestation. The same practice is observed on the Pachaimalais, if the ghost appears in a dream accompanied by a Panchama. On the Kollaimalais, holy bulls, dedicated to the Srīrangam temple, are taken round with drums on their backs by men with feathers stuck in their hair, and alms are collected. When these animals die, they are buried, and an alari tree is planted over the grave. This practice is, however, confined to Vaishnavites, and to a few families. Saivites set free bulls called poli yerudu in honour of the Anaplēsvaram god. These bulls are of good class, and, like the tamatams, are honoured at their death. [433]

“The Malaiyāli houses are built of tattis (mats) of split bamboo, and roofed with jungle grass. The use of tiles or bricks is believed to excite the anger of the gods. The Kollaimalai houses seem always to have a loft inside, approached by a ladder. The eaves project greatly, so as almost to touch the ground. In the pial (platform at the entrance) a hole is made to pen fowls in. On the tops of the houses, tufts of jungle grass and rags are placed, to keep off owls, the ill-omened kōttan birds. The villages are surrounded with a fence, to keep the village pigs from destroying the crops outside. The Pachaimalai women wear the kusavam fold in their cloth on the right side, but do not cover the breasts. The Kollaimalai women do not wear any kusavam, but carefully cover their breasts, especially when at work outside the village site, for fear of displeasing the gods. The Pachaimalai people tattoo, but this custom is anathema on the Kollaimalais, where the Malaiyālis will not allow a tattooed person into their houses for fear of offending their gods.

“All the Malaiyālis are keen sportsmen, and complain that sport is spoilt by the forest rules. The Kollaimalai people have a great beat on the first of Ani (June-July), and another on the day of the first sowing of the year. The date of the latter is settled by the headman of each village, and he alone is allowed to sow seeds on that day, everyone else being debarred on pain of punishment from doing any manner of work, and going out to hunt instead. On the Kollaimalais, bull-baiting is practiced at the time of the Māriyayi festival in Māsi (February-March). A number of bulls are taken in front of the goddess, one after the other, and, while some of the crowd hold the animals with ropes, a man in front, and another behind, urge it on to unavailing [434]efforts to get free. When one bull is tired out, another is brought up to take its place.

“The Malaiyālis have a good many superstitions of their own, which are apparently different from those of the plains. If they want rain, they pelt each other with balls of cow-dung, an image of Pillaiyar (Ganēsa) is buried in a manure pit, and a pig is killed with a kind of spear. When the rain comes, the Pillaiyar is dug up. If a man suffers from hemicrania, he sets free a red cock in honour of the sun on a Tuesday. A man who grinds his teeth in his sleep may be broken off the habit by eating some of the food offered to the village goddess, brought by stealth from her altar. People suffering from small-pox are taken down to the plains, and left in some village. Cholera patients are abandoned, and left to die. Lepers are driven out without the slightest mercy, to shift for themselves.

“With regard to marriage, the Malaiyālis of the Trichinopoly district recognise the desirability of a boy’s marrying his maternal aunt’s daughter. This sometimes results in a young boy marrying a grown-up woman, but the Malaiyālis in this district declare that the boy’s father does not then take over the duties of a husband. On the Kollaimalais, a wife may leave her husband for a paramour within the caste, but her husband has a right to the children of such intercourse, and they generally go to him in the end. You may ask a man, without giving offence, if he has lent his wife to anyone. Both sections practice polygamy. A betrothal on the Pachaimalais is effected by the boy’s taking an oil bath, followed by a bath in hot water at the bride’s house, and watching whether there is any ill omen during the process. On the Kollaimalais, the matter is settled by a simple interview. On both hill ranges, the wedding [435]ceremonies last only one day, and on the Pachaimalais a Thursday is generally selected. The marriage on the latter range consists in all the relatives present dropping castor-oil on to the heads of the pair with a wisp of grass, and then pronouncing a blessing on them. The terms of the blessing are the same as those used by the Konga Vellālas. The bridegroom ties the tāli. On the Kollaimalais, the girl is formally invited to come and be married by the other party’s taking her a sheep and some rice. On the appointed day, offerings of a cock and a hen are made to the gods in the houses of both. The girl then comes to the other house, and she and the bridegroom are garlanded by the leading persons present. The bridegroom ties the tāli, and the couple are then made to walk seven steps, and are blessed. The garlands are then thrown into a well, and, if they float together, it is an omen that the two will love each other.

“Both sections bury their dead. On the Kollaimalais, a gun is fired when the corpse is taken out for burial, and tobacco, cigars, betel and nut, etc., are buried with the body.

“Two curious customs in connection with labour are recognised on both ranges. If a man has a press of work, he can compel the whole village to come and help him, by the simple method of inviting them all to a feast. He need not pay them for their services. A different custom is that, when there is threshing to be done, any labourer of the caste who offers himself has to be taken, whether there is work for him or not, and paid as if he had done a good day’s work. This is a very hard rule in times of scarcity, and it is said that sometimes the employer will have not only to pay out the whole of the harvest, but will also have to get something extra from home to satisfy the labourers.” [436]

It is noted by Mr. Garstin46 that “in his time (1878) the Malaiālis of the South Arcot district kept the accounts of their payments of revenue by tying knots in a bit of string, and that some of them once lodged a complaint against their village headman for collecting more from them than was due, basing their case on the fact that there were more knots in the current year’s string than in that of the year preceding. The poligars, he adds, used to intimate the amount of revenue due by sending each of the cultivators a leaf bearing on it as many thumb-nail marks as there were rupees to be paid.”

Malayāli.—A territorial name, denoting an inhabitant of the Malayālam country. It is noted, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that this name came in very handy to class several of the Malabar tribes, who have immigrated to the province, and whose names were unfamiliar to census officials. There is, in the city of Madras, a Malayāli club for inhabitants of the Malayālam country, who are there employed in Government services, as lawyers, or in other vocations. I read that, in 1906, the Malabar Ōnam festival was celebrated at the Victoria Public Hall under the auspices of this club, and a dramatised version of the Malayālam novel Indulekha was performed.

Malayan.—Concerning the Malayans, Mr. A. R. Loftus-Tottenham writes as follows. “The Malayans are a makkathāyam caste, observing twelve days’ pollution, found in North Malabar. Their name, signifying hill-men, points to their having been at one time a jungle tribe, but they have by no means the dark complexion and debased physiognomy characteristic of the classes [437]which still occupy that position. They are divided into nine exogamous illams, five of which have the names Kōtukudi, Velupā, Chēni, Palānkudi, and Kalliath. The men do not shave their heads, but allow the hair to grow long, and either part it in the middle, or tie it into a knot behind, like the castes of the east coast, or tie it in a knot in front in the genuine Malayāli fashion. The principal occupation of the caste is exorcism, which they perform by various methods.

Malayan devil-dancer.

Malayan devil-dancer.

“If any one is considered to be possessed by demons, it is usual, after consulting the astrologer in order to ascertain what murti (form, i.e., demon) is causing the trouble, to call in the Malayan, who performs a ceremony known as tīyattam, in which they wear masks, and, so disguised, sing, dance, tom-tom, and play on a rude and strident pipe. Another ceremony, known as ucchavēli, has several forms, all of which seem to be either survivals, or at least imitations of human sacrifice. One of these consists of a mock living burial of the principal performer, who is placed in a pit, which is covered with planks, on the top of which a sacrifice is performed, with a fire kindled with jack wood (Artocarpus integrifolia) and a plant called erinna. In another variety, the Malayan cuts his left forearm, and smears his face with the blood thus drawn. Malayans also take part with Peruvannāns (big barbers) in various ceremonies at Badrakāli and other temples, in which the performer impersonates, in suitable costume, some of the minor deities or demons, fowls are sacrificed, and a Velicchapād pronounces oracular statements.”

As the profession of exorcists does not keep the Malayans fully occupied, they go about begging during the harvest season, in various disguises, of which that of a hobby-horse is a very common one. They further [438]add to their income by singing songs, at which they are very expert. Like the Nalkes and Paravas of South Canara, the Malayans exorcise various kinds of devils, with appropriate disguises. For Nenaveli (bloody sacrifice), the performer smears the upper part of his body and face with a paste made of rice-flour reddened with turmeric powder and chunam (lime) to indicate a bloody sacrifice. Before the paste dries, parched paddy (unhusked rice) grains, representing small-pox pustules, are sprinkled over it. Strips of young cocoanut leaves, strung together so as to form a petticoat, are tied round the waist, a ball of sacred ashes (vibhūthi) is fixed on the tip of the nose, and two strips of palmyra palm leaf are stuck in the mouth to represent fangs. If it is thought that a human sacrifice is necessary to propitiate the devil, the man representing Nenaveli puts round his neck a kind of framework made of plantain leaf sheaths; and, after he has danced with it on, it is removed, and placed on the ground in front of him. A number of lighted wicks are stuck in the middle of the framework, which is sprinkled with the blood of a fowl, and then beaten and crushed. Sometimes this is not regarded as sufficient, and the performer is made to lie down in a pit, which is covered over by a plank, and a fire kindled. A Malayan, who acted the part of Nenaveli before me at Tellicherry, danced and gesticulated wildly, while a small boy, concealed behind him, sang songs in praise of the demon whom he represented, to the accompaniment of a drum. At the end of the performance, he feigned extreme exhaustion, and laid on the ground in a state of apparent collapse, while he was drenched with water brought in pots from a neighbouring well.

The disguise of Uchchaveli is also assumed for the propitiation of the demon, when a human sacrifice is [439]considered necessary. The Malayan who is to take the part puts on a cap made of strips of cocoanut leaf, and strips of the same leaves tied to a bent bamboo stick round his waist. His face and chest are daubed with yellow paint, and designs are drawn thereon in red or black. Strings are tied tightly round the left arm near the elbow and wrist, and the swollen area is pierced with a knife. The blood spouts out, and the performer waves the arm, so that his face is covered with the blood. A fowl is waved before him, and decapitated. He puts the neck in his mouth, and sucks the blood.

Malayan devil-dancer with fowl in mouth.

Malayan devil-dancer with fowl in mouth.

The disguises are generally assumed at night. The exorcism consists in drawing complicated designs of squares, circles, and triangles, on the ground with white, black, and yellow flour. While the man who has assumed the disguise dances about to the accompaniment of drums, songs are sung by Malayan men and women.

Malayan.—A division of Panikkans in the Tamil country, whose exogamous septs are known by the Malayālam name illam (house).

Maldivi.—A territorial name, meaning a native of the Maldive islands, returned by twenty-two persons in Tanjore at the Census, 1901.

Malē Kudiya.—A synonym of Kudiya, denoting those who live in the hills.

Malēru.—It is noted, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, that “in some temples of the Malnād there exists a set of females, who, though not belonging to the Natuva class, are yet temple servants like them, and are known by the name of Malēru. Any woman who eats the sacrificial rice strewn on the balipītam (sacrificial altar) at once loses caste, and becomes a public woman, or Malēru.” The children of Malērus by Brāhmans are termed Golakas. Any Malēru woman [440]cohabiting with one of a lower caste than her own is degraded into a Gaudi. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Mālē or Mālēra is returned as a sub-caste of Stānika. They are said, however, not to be equal to Stānikas. They are attached to temples, and their ranks are swelled by outcaste Brāhman and Konkani women.

Maleyava.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small Canarese-speaking caste of beggars. In the South Canara Manual, it is stated that they are “classed as mendicants, as there is a small body of Malayālam gypsies of that name. But there may have been some confusion with Malava and Malē Kudiya.”

Māli.—“The Mālis,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,47 “are now mostly cultivators, but their traditional occupation (from which the caste name is derived) is making garlands, and providing flowers for the service of Hindu temples. They are especially clever in growing vegetables. Their vernacular is Uriya.” It is noted, in the Census Report, 1901, that the temple servants wear the sacred thread, and employ Brāhmans as priests. It is further recorded, in the Census Report, 1871, that “the Mālis are, as their name denotes, gardeners. They chose for their settlements sites where they were able to turn a stream to irrigate a bit of land near their dwellings. Here they raise fine crops of vegetables, which they carry to the numerous markets throughout the country. Their rights to the lands acquired from the Parjās (Porojas) are of a substantial nature, and the only evidence to show their possessions were formerly Parjā bhūmi (Poroja lands) is perhaps a row of upright [441]stones erected by the older race to the memory of their village chiefs.”

Malayan devil-dancers.

Malayan devil-dancers.

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Mālis say that their ancestors lived originally at Kāsi (Benares), whence they emigrated to serve under the Rāja of Jeypore. They are divided into the following sub-divisions:—Bodo, Pondra, Kosalya, Pannara, Sonkuva, and Dongrudiya. The name Pondra is said to be derived from podoro, a dry field. I am informed that, if a Pondra is so prosperous as to possess a garden which requires the employment of a picottah, he is bound to entertain as many men of his caste as choose to go to his house. A man without a picottah may refuse to receive such visits. A picottah is the old-fashioned form of a machine still used for raising water, and consists of a long lever or yard pivotted on an upright post, weighted on the short arm, and bearing a line and bucket on the long arm.

Among the Bodo Mālis, a man can claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage, which takes place before the girl reaches puberty. A jholla tonka (bride-price) of forty rupees is paid, and the girl is conducted to the house of the bridegroom, in front of which a pandal (booth) has been erected, with nine pots, one above the other, placed at the four corners and in the centre. In the middle of the pandal a mattress is spread, and to the pandal a cloth, with a myrabolam (Terminalia fruit), rice, and money tied up in it, is attached. The contracting couple sit together, and a sacred thread is given to the bridegroom by the officiating priest. The bride is presented with necklaces, nose-screws, and other ornaments by the bridegroom’s party. They then repair to the bridegroom’s house. The ceremonies are repeated during the next three days, and on the fifth day [442]the pair are bathed with turmeric water, and repair to a stream, in which they bathe. On their return home, the bridegroom is presented with some cheap jewelry.

Among the Pondra Mālis, if a girl is not provided with a husband before she reaches puberty, a mock marriage is performed. A pandal (booth) is erected in front of her house, and she enters it, carrying a fan in her right hand, and sits on a mattress. A pot, containing water and mango leaves, is set in front of her, and the females throw turmeric-rice over her. They then mix turmeric powder with castor-oil, and pour it over her from mango leaves. She next goes to the village stream, and bathes. A caste feast follows after this ceremonial has been performed. The girl is permitted to marry in the ordinary way. A Bodo Māli girl, who does not secure a husband before she reaches puberty, is said to be turned out of the caste.

In the regular marriage ceremony among the Pondra Mālis, the bridegroom, accompanied by his party, proceeds to the bride’s village, where they stay in a house other than that of the bride. They send five rupees, a new cloth for the bride’s mother, rice, and other things necessary for a meal, as jholla tonka (present) to the bride’s house. Pandals, made of four poles, are erected in front of the houses of the bride and bridegroom. Towards evening, the bridegroom proceeds to the house of the bride, and the couple are blessed by the assembled relations within the pandal. On the following day, the bridegroom conducts the bride to her pandal. They take their seat therein, separated by a screen, with the ends of their cloths tied together. Ornaments, called maguta, corresponding to the bāshinga, are tied on their foreheads. At the auspicious moment fixed by the presiding Dēsāri, the bride stretches out her [443]right hand, and the bridegroom places his thereon. On it some rice and myrabolam fruit are laid, and tied up with rolls of cotton thread by the Dēsāri. On the third day, the couple repair to a stream, and bathe. They then bury the magutas. After a feast, the bride accompanies the bridegroom to his village, but, if she has not reached puberty, returns to her parents.

Widow remarriage is permitted, and a younger brother usually marries the widow of his elder brother.

The dead are burnt, and death pollution lasts for ten days, during which those who are polluted refrain from their usual employment. On the ninth day, a hole is dug in the house of the deceased, and a lamp placed in it. The son, or some other close relative, eats a meal by the side of the hole, and, when it is finished, places the platter and the remains of the food in the hole, and buries them with the lamp. On the tenth day, an Oriya Brāhman purifies the house by raising the sacred fire (hōmam). He is, in return for his services, presented with the utensils of the deceased, half a rupee, rice, and other things.

Māli further occurs as the name of an exogamous sept of Holeya. (See also Rāvulo.)

Maliah (hill).—A sub-division of Savaras who inhabit the hill-country.

Malighai Chetti.—A synonym of Acharapākam Chettis. In the city of Madras, the Malighai Chettis cannot, like other Bēri Chettis, vote or receive votes at elections or meetings of the Kandasāmi temple.

Mālik.—A sect of Muhammadans, who are the followers of the Imām Abu ’Abdi ’llāh Mālik ibn Anas, the founder of one of the four orthodox sects of Sunnis, who was born at Madināh, A.H. 94 (A.D. 716).

Malle.—Malle, Malli, Mallela, or Mallige, meaning jasmine, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of [444]Bestha, Holeya, Kamma, Korava, Kurni, Kuruba, Mādiga, Māla, Oddē, and Tsākala. The Tsākalas, I am informed, will not use jasmine flowers, or go near the plant. In like manner, Besthas of the Malle gōtra may not touch it.

Mālumi.—A class of Muhammadan pilots and sailors in the Laccadive islands. (See Māppilla.)

Māmidla (mango).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālē.

Mānā (a measure).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Manavālan (bridegroom).—A sub-division of Nāyar.

Manayammamar.—The name for Mūssad females. Mana means a Brāhman’s house.

Mancha.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a Musalman tribe in the Laccadive islands.

Manchāla (cots).—An exogamous sept of Oddē. The equivalent mancham occurs as a sept of Panta Reddis, the members of which avoid sleeping on cots.

Manchi (good).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālē and Yānādi.

Mandādan Chetti.—There are at Gudalūr near the boundary between the Nīlgiri district and Malabar, and in the Wynād, two classes called respectively Mandādan Chettis and Wynād Chettis (q.v.).

The following account of the Mandādan Chettis is given in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris. “They speak a corrupt Canarese, follow the makkatāyam law of inheritance (from father to son), and seem always to have been natives of the Wynaad. Mandādan is supposed to be a corruption of Mahāvalinādu, the traditional name still applied to the country between Nellakōttai and Tippakādu, in which these Chettis principally reside. These Chettis recognise as many as eight different headmen, [445]who each have names and a definite order of precedence, the latter being accurately marked by the varying lengths of the periods of pollution observed when they die. They are supposed to be the descendants in the nearest direct line of the original ancestors of the caste, and they are shown special respect on public occasions, and settle domestic and caste disputes. Marriages take place after puberty, and are arranged through go-betweens called Madhyastas. When matters have been set in train, the contracting parties meet, and the boy’s parents measure out a certain quantity of paddy (unhusked rice), and present it to the bride’s people, while the Madhyastas formally solicit the approval to the match of all the nearest relatives. The bride is bathed and dressed in a new cloth, and the couple are then seated under a pandal (booth). The priest of the Nambalakōd temple comes with flowers, blesses the tāli, and hands it to the bridegroom, who ties it round the bride’s neck. Sometimes the young man is made to work for the girl as Jacob did for Rachael, serving her father for a period (generally of from one to four years), the length of which is settled by a panchāyat (council). In such cases, the father-in-law pays the expenses of the wedding, and sets up the young couple with a house and some land. Married women are not prohibited from conferring favours on their husbands’ brothers, but adultery outside the caste is severely dealt with. Adoption seems to be unknown. A widow may remarry. If she weds her deceased husband’s brother, the only ceremony is a dinner, after which the happy pair are formally seated on the same mat; but, if she marries any one else, a pandal and tāli are provided. Divorce is allowed to both parties, and divorcées may remarry. In their cases, however, the wedding rites are much curtailed. The dead are [446]usually burnt, but those who have been killed by accidents or epidemics are buried. When any one is at death’s door, he or she is made to swallow a little water from a vessel in which some rice and a gold coin have been placed. The body is bathed and dressed in a new cloth, sometimes music is played and a gun fired, and in all cases the deceased’s family walk three times round the pyre before it is fired by the chief mourner. When the period of pollution is over, holy water is fetched from the Nambalakōd temple, and sprinkled all about the house. These Chettis are Saivites, and worship Bētarāyasvāmi of Nambalakōd, the Airu Billi of the Kurumbas, and one or two other minor gods, and certain deified ancestors. These minor gods have no regular shrines, but huts provided with platforms for them to sit upon, in which lamps are lit in the evenings, are built for them in the fields and jungles. Chetti women are often handsome. In the house they wear only a waist-cloth, but they put on an upper cloth when they venture abroad. They distend the lobes of their ears, and for the first few years after marriage wear in them circular gold ornaments somewhat resembling those affected by the Nāyar ladies. After that period they substitute a strip of rolled-up palm leaf. They have an odd custom of wearing a big chignon made up of plaits of their own hair cut off at intervals in their girlhood.”

Mandādi.—A title of Golla.

Mandai.—An exogamous section of Kallan named after Mandai Karuppan, the god of the village common (Mandai).

Mandha.—Mandha or Mandhala, meaning a village common, or herd of cattle collected thereon, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Bēdar, Karna Sālē, and Mādiga. [447]

Māndi (cow).—A sept of Poroja.

Māndiri.—A sub-division of Dōmb.

Mandula.—The Mandulas (medicine men) are a wandering class, the members of which go about from village to village in the Telugu country, selling drugs (mandu, medicine) and medicinal powders. Some of their women act as midwives. Of these people an interesting account is given by Bishop Whitehead,48 who writes as follows. “We found an encampment of five or six dirty-looking huts made of matting, each about five feet high, eight feet long and six feet wide, belonging to a body of Mandalavāru, whose head-quarters are at Masulipatam. They are medicine men by profession, and thieves and beggars by choice. The headman showed us his stock of medicines in a bag, and a quaint stock it was, consisting of a miscellaneous collection of stones and pieces of wood, and the fruits of trees. The stones are ground to powder, and mixed up as a medicine with various ingredients. He had a piece of mica, a stone containing iron, and another which contained some other metal. There was also a peculiar wood used as an antidote against snake-bite, a piece being torn off and eaten by the person bitten. One common treatment for children is to give them tiles, ground to powder, to eat. In the headman’s hut was a picturesque-looking woman sitting up with an infant three days old. It had an anklet, made of its mother’s hair, tied round the right ankle, to keep off the evil eye. The mother, too, had a similar anklet round her own left ankle, which she put on before her confinement. She asked for some castor-oil to smear over the child. They had a good many donkeys, pigs, and fowls with them, and made, they said, about a rupee [448]a day by begging. Some time ago, they all got drunk, and had a free fight, in which a woman got her head cut open. The police went to enquire into the matter, but the woman declared that she only fell against a bamboo by accident. The whole tribe meet once a year, at Masulipatam, at the Sivarātri festival, and then sacrifice pigs and goats to their various deities. The goddess is represented by a plain uncarved stone, about four-and-a-half or five feet high, daubed with turmeric and kunkuma (red powder). The animals are killed in front of the stone, and the blood is allowed to flow on the ground. They believe that the goddess drinks it. They cook rice on the spot, and present some of it to the goddess. They then have a great feast of the rest of the rice and the flesh of the victims, get very drunk with arrack, and end up with a free fight. We noted that one of the men had on an anklet of hair, like the woman’s. He said he had been bitten by a snake some time ago, and had put on the anklet as a charm.”

The Mandula is a very imposing person, as he sits in a conspicuous place, surrounded by paper packets piled up all round him. His method of advertising his medicines is to take the packets one by one, and, after opening them and folding them up, to make a fresh pile. As he does so, he may be heard repeating very rapidly, in a sing-song tone, “Medicine for rheumatism,” etc. Mandulas are sometimes to be seen close to the Moore Market in the city of Madras, with their heaps of packets containing powders of various colours.

Mangala.—“The Mangalas and Ambattans,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,49 “are the barber castes, and are probably of identical origin, but, like the potters, they [449]have, by difference of locality, separated into Telugus and Tamilians, who do not intermarry. Both are said to be the offspring of a Brāhman by a Vaisya woman. The Telugu name is referred to the word mangalam, which means happiness and also cleansing, and is applied to barbers, because they take part in marriage ceremonies, and add to the happiness on the occasion by the melodious sounds of their flutes (nāgasaram), while they also contribute to the cleanliness of the people by shaving their bodies. The Telugus are divided into the Reddibhūmi, Murikinādu, and Kurichinādu sub-divisions, and are mostly Vaishnavites. They consider the Tamilians as lower than themselves, because they consent to shave the whole body, while the Telugus only shave the upper portions. Besides their ordinary occupation, the members of this caste pretend to some knowledge of surgery and of the properties of herbs and drugs. Their females practice midwifery in a barbarous fashion, not scrupling also to indulge largely in criminal acts connected with their profession. Flesh-eating is allowed, but not widow marriage.”

“Mangalas,” Mr. Stuart writes further,50 “are also called Bajantri (in reference to their being musicians), Kalyānakulam (marriage people), and Angārakudu. The word angāramu means fire, charcoal, a live coal, and angārakudu is the planet Mars. Tuesday is Mars day, and one name for it is Angārakavāramu, but the other and more common name is Mangalavāramu. Now mangala is a Sanskrit word, meaning happiness, and mangala, with the soft l, is the Telugu for a barber. Mangalavāramu and Angārakavāramu being synonymous, it is natural that the barbers should have seized upon this, and given themselves importance by claiming to be [450]the caste of the planet Mars. As a matter of fact, this planet is considered to be a star of ill omen, and Tuesday is regarded as an inauspicious day. Barbers are also considered to be of ill omen owing to their connection with deaths, when their services are required to shave the heads of the mourners. On an auspicious occasion, a barber would never be called a Mangala, but a Bajantri, or musician. Their titles are Anna and Gādu.” Anna means brother, and Gādu is a common suffix to the names of Telugus, e.g., Rāmigādu, Subbigādu. A further title is Ayya (father).

For the following note on the Mangalas, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The caste is divided into two endogamous divisions, Telaga and Kāpu, the ancestors of which were half brothers, by different mothers. They will eat together, but will not intermarry, as they regard themselves as cousins. The primary occupation of the caste is shaving the heads of people belonging to the non-polluting castes, and, for a small consideration, razors are lent to Mādigas and Mālas. A Mangala, in the Vizagapatam district, carries no pollution with him, when he is not actually engaged in his professional duties, and may often be found as storekeeper in Hindu households, and occupying the same position as the Bhondāri, or Oriya barber, does in the Oriya country. Unlike the Tamil Ambattan, the Mangala has no objection to shaving Europeans. He is one of the village officials, whose duties are to render assistance to travellers, and massage their limbs, and, in many villages, he is rewarded for his services with a grant of land. He is further the village musician, and an expert at playing on the flute. Boys are taught the art of shaving when they are about eight years old. An old chatty (earthen pot) is turned upside down, and smeared with damp earth. [451]When this is dry, the lad has to scrape it off under the direction of an experienced barber.

Mangala Pūjāri.—The title of the caste priest of the Mogērs.

Māngalyam.—A sub-division of Mārāns, who, at the tāli-kettu ceremony of the Nāyars, carry the ashtamāngalyam or eight auspicious things. These are rice, paddy (unhusked rice), tender leaves of the cocoanut, a mimic arrow, a metal looking-glass, a well-washed cloth, burning fire, and a small round wooden box called cheppu. Māngalyam occurs as the name for Mārāns in old Travancore records.

Mangalakkal.—This and Manigrāmam are recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as sub-divisions of Nāyar.

Mānikala (a measure).—An exogamous sept of Yānādi.

Mānikattāl.—A synonym of Dēva-dāsi applied to dancing-girls in the Tamil country.

Maniyakkāran.—Maniyakkāran or Maniyagāran, meaning an overseer, occurs as a title or synonym of Parivāram and Sembadavan. As a name of a sub-division of the Idaiyan shepherds, the word is said to be derived from mani, a bell, such as is tied round the necks of cattle, sheep, and goats. Maniyakkāran has been corrupted into monegar, the title of the headman of a village in the Tamil country.

Manjaputtūr.—A sub-division of Chettis, who are said to have emigrated to the Madura district from Cuddalore (Manjakuppam).

Mānla (trees).—An exogamous sept of Chenchu.

Mannādi.—A title of Kunnavans of the Palni hills, often given as the caste name. Also a title of Pallans and Mūttāns. [452]

Mannādiyar.—A trading sub-division of Nāyar.

Mannān.—The Mannāns are a hill tribe of Travancore, and are said to have been originally dependents of the kings of Madura, whom they, like the Ūrālis and Muduvans, accompanied to Nēriyamangalam. “Later on, they settled in a portion of the Cardamom Hills called Makara-alum. One of the chiefs of Poonyat nominated three of these Mannāns as his agents at three different centres in his dominions, one to live at Tollāiramalai with a silver sword as badge and with the title of Varayilkīzh Mannān, a second to live at Mannānkantam with a bracelet and the title of Gōpura Mannān, and a third at Utumpanchōla with a silver cane and the title of Talamala Mannān. For these headmen, the other Mannāns are expected to do a lot of miscellaneous services. It is only with the consent of the headmen that marriages may be contracted. Persons of both sexes dress themselves like Maravans. Silver and brass ear-rings are worn by the men. Necklets of white and red beads are worn on the neck, and brass bracelets on the wrist. Mannāns put up the best huts among the hill-men. Menstrual and puerperal impurity is not so repelling as in the case of the Ūrālis. About a year after a child is born, the eldest member of the family ties a necklet of beads round its neck, and gives it a name. The Mannāns bury their dead. The coffin is made of bamboo and reeds, and the corpse is taken to the grave with music and the beating of drums. The personal ornaments, if any, are not removed. Before filling in the grave, a quantity of rice is put into the mouth of the deceased. A shed is erected over the site of burial. After a year has passed, an offering of food and drink is made to the dead. The language of the Mannāns is Tamil. They have neither washermen nor [453]barbers, but wash clothes and shave for one another. The Mannāns stand ahead of the other hill-men from their knowledge of medicine, though they resort more to Chāttu than to herbs. Drinking is a very common vice. Marumakkathāyam is the prevailing form of inheritance (in the female line); but it is customary to give a portion to the sons also. Marriage takes the form of tāli-tying. The tāli (marriage badge) is removed on the death of the husband. Women generally wait for two years to marry a second husband, after the death of the first. A Mannān claims the hand of his maternal uncle’s daughter. The Sāsta of Sabarimala and Periyār is devoutly worshipped. The Mannāns are experts in collecting honey. They eat the flesh of the monkey, but not that of the crocodile, snake, buffalo or cow. They are fast decreasing in numbers, like the other denizens of the hills.”51

Concerning the Mannāns, Mr. O. H. Bensley writes as follows.52 “I enjoy many pleasant reminiscences of my intercourse with these people. Their cheery and sociable disposition, and enjoyment of camp life, make it quite a pleasure to be thrown into contact with them. Short, sturdy, and hairless, the Mannāns have all the appearances of an ‘aboriginal‘ race. The Mannān country extends southward from the limit occupied by the Muduvans on the Cardamom Hills to a point south of the territory now submerged by the Periyār works.53 They have, moreover, to keep to the east of the Periyār river. Smallpox ravages their villages, and fever lives in the air they breathe. Within the present generation, three of their settlements were at the point of extinction, [454]but were recruited from other more fortunate bands. Very few attain to old age, but there were until lately three old patriarchs among them, who were the headmen of three of the most important sections of the tribe. The Muduvans and Mannāns pursue the same destructive method of cultivation, but, as the latter are much fewer in numbers, their depredations are not so serious. None of the tribes east of the Periyār pay any tax to the Government, but are expected, in return for their holdings, to perform certain services in the way of building huts and clearing paths, for which they receive fixed payment. They have also to collect forest produce, and for this, too, they obtain fixed rates, so that their treatment by the Government is in reality of the most liberal kind. Mannāns do not always look at things in quite the light one would expect. For example, the heir to an English Earldom, after a pleasant shooting trip in Travancore, bestowed upon a Mannān who had been with him a handsome knife as a memento. Next day, the knife was seen in the possession of a cooly on a coffee estate, and it transpired that the Mannān had sold it to him for three rupees, instead of keeping it as an heirloom. A remarkable trait in the character of the Mannāns is the readiness with which they fraternise with Europeans. Most of the other tribes approach with reluctance, which requires considerable diplomacy to overcome. Not so the Mannān. He willingly initiates a tyro and a stranger into the mysteries of the chase. Though their language is Tamil, and the only communication they hold with the low country is on the Madura side, they have this custom in common with the Malayālis, that the chieftainship of their villages goes to the nephew, and not to the son. One does not expect to find heroic actions among [455]these simple people. But how else could one describe the following incident? A Mannān, walking with his son, a lad about twelve years old, came suddenly upon a rogue elephant. His first act was to place his son in a position of safety by lifting him up till he could reach the branch of a tree, and only then he began to think of himself. But it was too late. The elephant charged down upon him, and in a few seconds he was a shapeless mass.”

Mannān (Washerman caste).—See Vannān and Vēlan.

Mannēdora (lord of the hills).—A title assumed by Konda Doras. Mannē Sultan is a title of the Mahārāja of Travancore and the Rāja of Vizianagram. The Konda Doras also style themselves Mannēlu, or those of the hills.

Mannepu-vandlu.—Said54 to be the name, derived from mannemu, highland, for Mālas in parts of the Godāvari district.

Mannu (earth).—A sub-division of Oddēs, who are earth-workers. Manti, which has also been returned by them at times of census, has a similar significance (earthen). Man Udaiyan occurs as a synonym of Kusavan, and Manal (sand) as an exogamous sept of Kāppiliyan. Man Kavarai is recorded in the Salem Manual as the name of a class of salt makers from salt-earth.

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

Māppilla.—The Māppillas, or Moplahs, are defined in the Census Report, 1871, as the hybrid Mahomedan race of the western coast, whose numbers are constantly being added to by conversion of the slave castes of Malabar. In 1881, the Census Superintendent wrote [456]that “among some of them there may be a strain of Arab blood from some early generation, but the mothers throughout have been Dravidian, and the class has been maintained in number by wholesale adult conversion.” Concerning the origin of the Māppillas, Mr. Lewis Moore states55 that “originally the descendants of Arab traders by the women of the country, they now form a powerful community. There appears to have been a large influx of Arab settlers into Malabar in the ninth century A.D. and the numbers have been constantly increased by proselytism. The Māppillas came prominently forward at the time of the Portuguese invasion at the end of the fifteenth century A.D.” “The Muhammadan Arabs,” Dr. Burnell writes,56 “appear to have settled first in Malabar about the beginning of the ninth century; there were heathen Arabs there long before that in consequence of the immense trade conducted by the Sabeans with India.” “There are,” Mr. B. Govinda Nambiar writes,57 “many accounts extant in Malabar concerning the introduction of the faith of Islām into this district. Tradition says that, in the ninth century of the Christian era, a party of Moslem pilgrims, on their way to a sacred shrine in Ceylon, chanced to visit the capital of the Perumāl or king of Malabar, that they were most hospitably entertained by that prince, and that he, becoming a convert to their faith, subsequently accompanied them to Arabia (where he died). It is further stated that the Perumāl, becoming anxious of establishing his new faith in Malabar, with suitable places of worship, sent his followers with letters to all the chieftains whom he had appointed in his stead, requiring [457]them to give land for mosques, and to endow them. The Perumāl’s instructions were carried out, and nine mosques were founded and endowed in various parts of Malabar. Whatever truth there may be in these accounts, it is certain that, at a very early period, the Arabs had settled for commercial purposes on the Malabar coast, had contracted alliances with the women of the country, and that the mixed race thus formed had begun to be known as the Māppillas. These Māppillas had, in the days of the Zamorin, played an important part in the political history of Malabar, and had in consequence obtained many valuable privileges. When Vasco da Gama visited Calicut during the closing years of the fifteenth century, we find their influence at court so powerful that the Portuguese could not obtain a commercial footing there. The numerical strength of the Māppillas was greatly increased by forcible conversions during the period when Tippu Sultan held sway over Malabar.” [At the installation of the Zamorin, some Māppilla families at Calicut have certain privileges; and a Māppilla woman, belonging to a certain family, presents the Zamorin with betel nuts near the Kallai bridge, on his return from a procession through the town.] According to one version of the story of the Perumāl, Chēramān Perumāl dreamt that the full moon appeared at Mecca on the night of the new moon, and that, when on the meridian, it split into two, one half remaining in the air, and the other half descending to the foot of a hill called Abu Kubais, where the two halves joined together. Shortly afterwards, a party of pilgrims, on their way to the foot-print shrine at Adam’s peak in Ceylon, landed in Chēramān Perumāl’s capital at Kodungallūr, and reported that by the same miracle, Muhammad had converted a number of unbelievers to his religion. [458]

The cephalic index of the Māppillas is lower than that of the other Muhammadan classes in South India which I have examined, and this may probably be explained by their admixture with dolichocephalic Dravidians. The figures are as follows:—

Number examined. Cephalic index.
Māppilla 40 72.8
Sheik Muhammadan 40 75.6
Saiyad Muhammadan 40 75.6
Daira Muhammadan 50 75.6
Pathān Muhammadan 40 76.2

From the measurement of a very few Māppillas, members of the Hyderabad Contingent, and Marāthas, who went to England for the Coronation in 1902, Mr. J. Gray arrived at the conclusion that “the people on the west coast and in the centre of the Deccan, namely the Moplas, Maharattas, and Hyderabad Contingent, differ considerably from the Tamils of the east coast. Their heads are considerably shorter. This points to admixture of the Dravidians with some Mongolian element. There is a tradition that the Moplas are descended from Arab traders, but the measurements indicate that the immigrants were Turkish, or of some other Mongolian element, probably from Persia or Baluchistan.”58

The cephalic indices, as recorded by Mr. Gray, were:—

Number examined. Cephalic index.
Tamils 6 75.4
Moplas 6 77.5
Hyderabad Contingent 6 75
Maharattas 7 79

The number of individuals examined is, however, too small for the purpose of generalisation. [459]

In the Census Report, 1891, it is noted that some Māppillas have returned “Putiya Islām,” meaning new converts to Islām. These are mostly converts from the Mukkuvan or fisherman caste, and this process of conversion is still going on. Most of the fishermen of Tanūr, where there is an important fish-curing yard, are Mukkuvan converts. They are sleek and well-nourished, and, to judge from the swarm of children who followed me during my inspection of the yard, eminently fertile. One of them, indeed, was polygynous to the extent of seven wives, each of whom had presented him with seven sons, not to mention a large consignment of daughters. On the east coast the occurrence of twins is attributed by the fishermen to the stimulating properties of fish diet. In Malabar, great virtue is attributed to the sardine or nalla mathi (good fish, Clupea longiceps), as an article of dietary.

“Conversion to Muhammadanism,” Mr. Logan writes,59 “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.” The same applies to the Nayādis, of whom some have escaped from their degraded position by conversion to Islām. In the scale of pollution, the Nayādi holds the lowest place, and consequently labours under the greatest disadvantage, which is removed with his change of religion.

As regards the origin and significance of the word Māppilla, according to Mr. Lewis Moore, it means, [460]”(1) a bridegroom or son-in-law; (2) the name given to Muhammadan, Christian, or Jewish colonists in Malabar, who have intermarried with the natives of the country. The name is now confined to Muhammadans.” It is noted by Mr. Nelson60 that “the Kallans alone of all the castes of Madura call the Muhammadans Māppilleis, or bridegrooms.” In criticising this statement, Yule and Burnell61 state that “Nelson interprets the word as bridegroom. It should, however, rather be son-in-law. The husband of the existing Princess of Tanjore is habitually styled by the natives Māppillai Sahib, as the son-in-law of the late Rāja.” “Some,” Mr. Padmanabha Menon writes,62 “think that the word Māppila is a contracted form of mahā (great) and pilla (child), an honorary title as among Nairs in Travancore (pilla or pillay). Mr. Logan surmises that mahā pilla was probably a title of honour conferred on the early Muhammadans, or possibly on the still earlier Christian immigrants, who are also down to the present day called Māppilas. The Muhammadans generally go by the name of Jonaga Māppilas. Jonaka is believed to stand for Yavanaka, i.e., Greek!”63 [In the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, Yavana is recorded as meaning Ionia.] It is, indeed, remarkable that in the Payyanorepāt, perhaps the earliest Malayālam poem extant, some of the sailors mentioned in it are called Chonavans. (The Jews are known as Juda Māppila.) Dr. Day derives the word Māpilla from Mā (mother) and pilla (child). [Wilson gives Māpilla, mother’s son, as being sprung from the intercourse of foreign colonists, who were persons unknown, with Malabar women.] Duncan says [461]that a Qāzi derived the name from Mā (mother) and pilla a (puppy) as a term of reproach! Maclean, in the Asiatic Researches, considered that the word came from mahā or mohai (mocha) and pilla (child), and therefore translated it into children or natives (perhaps outcasts) of Mohai or Mocha. A more likely, and perhaps more correct derivation is given by Mr. Percy Badger in a note to his edition of the Varthema. “I am inclined to think,” he says, “that the name is either a corruption of the Arabic muflih (from the root fallah, to till the soil), meaning prosperous or victorious, in which sense it would apply to the successful establishment of those foreign Mussalmans on the western coast of India; or that it is a similar corruption of maflih (the active participial form of the same verb), an agriculturist—a still more appropriate designation of Moplahs, who, according to Buchanan, are both traders and farmers. In the latter sense, the term, though not usually so applied among the Arabs, would be identical with fella’h.” By Mr. C. P. Brown the conviction was expressed that Māppilla is a Tamil mispronunciation of the Arabic mu’abbar, from over the water.

“The chief characteristic of the Māppillas,” Mr. Govinda Nambiar writes, “as of all Mussalmans, is enthusiasm for religious practices. They are either Sunnis or Shiahs. The Sunnis are the followers of the Ponnāni Tangal, the chief priest of the orthodox party, while the Shiahs acknowledge the Kondōtti Tangal as their religious head. There are always religious disputes between these sects, and the criminal courts are not seldom called in to settle them.” In an account of the Māppillas,64 Mr. P. Kunjain, a Mappilla Government official (the first [462]Māppilla Deputy Collector), states that “there are a few Moplahs in the Ernād and Waluwanād tāluks who are the followers of the Kondōtti Tangal, and are, therefore, believed to be heretics (Shias). The number of these is dwindling. The reason why they are believed to be heretics, and as such outcasted, is that they are enjoined by their preceptor (the Tangal) to prostrate before him. Prostration (sujud), according to strict doctrines, is due to God alone.” At Mulliakurichi in the Walluwanād tāluk there are two mosques. One, the Pazhaya Palli, or old mosque, belongs to, or is regarded as belonging to the Kondōtti sect of Māppillas. The other is called Puthan Palli, or new mosque. This mosque is asserted by the Ponnāni sect of Māppillas to have been erected for their exclusive use. The Kondōtti sect, on the other hand, claim that it was erected by them, as the old mosque was not large enough for the growing congregation. They do not claim exclusive use of the new mosque, but a right to worship there, just like any other Muhammadan. The Ponnāni sect, however, claim a right to exclude the Kondōtti people from the new mosque altogether. In September, 1901, there was a riot at the mosque between members of the rival sects. The Māppillas have a college at Ponnāni, the chief seat of their religious organisation, where men are trained in religious offices. This institution, called the Jammat mosque, was, it is said, founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century A.D. by an Arab divine for the purpose of imparting religious instruction to youths of the Muhammadan community. The head of the institution selects the ablest and most diligent from among the students, and confers on him the title of Musaliar. He is then appointed to preach in mosques, and to explain the meaning of the Korān and other sacred writings. [463]There are other religious offices, as those of the Kāzi, Katib, and Mulla. The highest personages of divinity among them are known as Tangals. In the middle of the last century there was a very influential Tangal (Mambram Tangal), who was suspected of fomenting outbreaks, and who conferred his blessing on the murderous projects of his disciples. Of him it is stated that he was regarded as imbued with a portion of divinity, and that the Māppillas swore by his foot as their most solemn oath. Earth on which he had spat or walked was treasured up, and his blessing was supremely prized. Even among the higher class of Māppillas, his wish was regarded as a command.

Mr. A. R. Loftus-Tottenham informs me that “it is quite common now for Māppillas to invoke Mambram Tangal when in difficulties. I have heard a little Māppilla, who was frightened at my appearance, and ran away across a field, calling out ‘Mambram Tangal, Mambram Tangal.’ The Tangal, who had to be induced to leave Malabar, went off to Constantinople, and gained great influence with the Sultan.”

In 1822 it was recorded65 by Mr. Baber, in a circuit report, that the Tarramal and Condotty Tangals “pretend to an extraordinary sanctity, and such is the character they have established, that the people believe it is in their power to carry them harmless through the most hazardous undertakings, and even to absolve them of the most atrocious crimes. To propitiate them, their votaries are lavish in their presents, and there are no description of delinquents who do not find an asylum in the mosques wherein these Tangals take up their abode, whether pursued by the Police, or by their own evil [464]consciences.” There is a legend current on the Kavarathi island of the Laccadives that a Tangal of that island once cursed the crows for dropping their excrement on his person, and now there is not a crow on the island. On another occasion, hearing the cries of a woman in labour, the Tangal prayed to God that the women of the island might suffer from no such pains in future. So strong is the belief in the immunity from the pangs of child-birth which was thus obtained, that the women of the neighbouring islands go over to Kavarathi for delivery, in order to have an easy confinement.66

In connection with Māppilla superstition, Mr. Tottenham writes as follows. “A beggar died (probably of starvation) by the roadside in Walluvanād tāluk. When alive, no one worried about him. But, after he died, it was said that celestial voices had been heard uttering the call to prayer at the spot. The Māppillas decided that he was a very holy man, whom they had not fed during his life, and who should be canonised after death. A little tomb was erected, and a light may be seen burning there at night. Small banners are deposited by the faithful, who go in numbers to the place, and there is, I think, a money-box to receive their contributions.” Mr. Tottenham writes further that “the holy place at Malappuram is the tomb of the Sāyyids (saints or martyrs) who were killed in a battle by a local military chieftain. These Sāyyids are invoked. At Kondotti there is a very pretentious, and rather picturesque tomb—a square building of gneiss surmounted by a cupola—to one of the Tangals. Near it is a small tank full of more or less tame fish. It is one of the sights of the [465]place to see them fed. At the great festival called neercha (vow), the Māppillas go in procession, headed by banners, elephants (if they possess them), and music, and carrying offerings to the head-quarters (Malappuram and Kondotti are the principal ones) of some Tangal, where they deposit the banners, I think at the tomb of the local saint, and present the offerings to the Tangal. At Malappuram, an enormous crowd of ten to twenty thousand assembles, and there is a great tamāsha (popular excitement). You will sometimes see a man with his hair uncut, i.e., he does not cut it till he has fulfilled the vow.”

There is a tradition that, some centuries ago, one Sheik Mahomed Tangal died. One night, some Māppillas dreamt that his grave, which was near the reefs, was in danger of being washed away, and that they should remove the body to a safe place. They accordingly opened the grave, and found the body quite fresh, with no sign of decomposition. The remains were piously re-interred in another place, and a mosque, known as Sheikkinde Palli, built. The Māppillas of Calicut celebrate annually, on the 15th day of Rajub, the anniversary of the death of Sheik Mahomed Tangal, the date of which was made known through inspiration by an ancestor of the Mambram Tangal. The ancestor also presented the Mullah of the mosque with a head-dress, which is still worn by successive Mullahs on the occasion of the anniversary festival. “The festival goes by the name of Appani (trade in bread). A feature of the celebration is that every Moplah household prepares a supply of rice cakes, which are sent to the mosque to be distributed among the thousands of beggars who gather for the occasion. A very brisk trade is also carried on in these rice cakes, which are largely bought by the [466]charitable for distribution among the poor. On the day of the anniversary, as well as on the day following, prayers are offered up to the souls of the departed. According to a legend, the pious Sheik, during his travels in foreign lands, arrived at Achin disguised as a fakir. One day, some servants of the local Sultan came to him, recognising in him a holy man, and begged his help in a serious difficulty. Their Sultan, they said, had a favourite parrot which used to be kept in a golden cage, and, the door of this cage having been inadvertently left open, the parrot had escaped. On hearing of the loss of his favourite bird, the Sultan had threatened his ministers and servants with dire punishment, if they failed to recover the bird. Sheik Mahomed Koya directed the servants to place the cage in the branches of a neighbouring tree, assuring them that the parrot would come and enter his cage. Saying this, the holy man departed. The servants did as he had bidden them, and had the gratification of seeing the bird fly into the cage, and of recovering and conveying it to their master. The Sultan asked the bird why it went away when it had a beautiful golden cage to live in, and a never failing supply of dainty food to subsist upon. The parrot replied that the beautiful cage and the dainty food were not to be compared with the delights of a free and unfettered life spent under the foliage of feathery bamboos, swayed by gentle breezes. The Sultan then asked the bird why it had come back, and the bird made answer that, while it was disporting itself with others of its species in a clump of bamboos, a stifling heat arose, which it feared would burn its wings, but, as it noticed that on one side of the clump the atmosphere was cool, it flew to that spot to take shelter on a tree. Seeing the cage amidst the branches, it entered, [467]and was thus recaptured and brought back. The Sultan afterwards discovered that it was the fakir who had thus miraculously brought about the recovery of his bird, and further that the fakir was none other than the saintly Sheik Mahomed Koya Tangal. When the news of the Tangal’s death was subsequently received, the Sultan ordered that the anniversary of the day should be celebrated in his dominions, and the Moplahs of Calicut believe that the faithful in Achin join with them every year in doing honour to the memory of their departed worthy.”67

It is recorded, in the Annual Report of the Basel Medical Mission, Calicut, 1907, that “cholera and smallpox were raging terribly in the months of August and September. It is regrettable that the people, during such epidemics, do not resort to hospital medicines, but ascribe them to the devil’s scourge. Especially the ignorant and superstitious Moplahs believe that cholera is due to demoniac possession, and can only be cured by exorcism. An account of how this is done may be interesting. A Thangal (Moplah priest) is brought in procession, with much shouting and drumming, to the house to drive out the cholera devil. The Thangal enters the house, where three cholera patients are lying; two of these already in a collapsed condition. The wonder-working priest refuses to do anything with these advanced cases, as they seem to be hopeless. The other patient, who is in the early stage of the disease, is addressed as follows. ‘Who are you?’—‘I am the cholera devil’. ‘Where do you come from?’—‘From such and such a place’. ‘Will you clear out at once or not?’—‘No, I won’t’. ‘Why?’—‘Because I want something to quench my thirst’. ‘You [468]want blood?’—‘Yes’. Then the Thangal asks his followers and relatives to give him what he asks. A young bull is brought into the room and killed on the spot, and the patient is made to drink the warm blood. Then the Thangal commands him to leave the place at once. The patient, weak and exhausted, gathers up all his strength, and runs out of the house, aided by a cane which is freely applied to his back. He runs as far as he can, and drops exhausted on the road. Then he is carried back, and, marvellous to say, he makes a good recovery.”

“The most important institution,” Mr. A. S. Vaidyanatha Aiyar writes,68 “among the Māppilas of Malabar is the office of the Mahadun (Makhdūm) at Ponnāni, which dates its origin about four centuries ago, the present Mahadun being the twenty-fifth of his line. [The line of the original Makhdūm ended with the eighteenth, and the present Makhdūm and his six immediate predecessors belong to a different line.] In the Mahadun there was a sect of religious head for the Māppilas from Kodangalur to Mangalore. His office was, and is still held in the greatest veneration. His decrees were believed to be infallible. (His decrees are accepted as final.) The Zamorins recognised the Mahadunship, as is seen from the presentation of the office dress at every succession. In the famous Jamath mosque they (the Mahaduns) have been giving instruction in Korān ever since they established themselves at Ponnāni. Students come here from different parts of the country. After a certain standard of efficiency, the degree of Musaliar is conferred upon the deserving Mullas (their name in their undergraduate course). [469]This ceremony consists simply in the sanction given by the Mahadun to read at the big lamp in the mosque, where he sometimes gives the instruction personally. The ceremony is known as vilakkath irikka (to sit by the lamp). When the degree of Musaliar is conferred, this sacred lamp is lit, and the Mahadun is present with a number of Musaliars. These Musaliars are distributed through the length and breadth of the land. They act as interpreters of the Korān, and are often appointed in charge of the mosques. When I visited the Jamath, there were about three hundred students. There is no regular staff of teachers. Students are told off into sections under the management of some senior students. The students are confined to the mosque for their lodgings, while most of them enjoy free boarding from some generous Māppilla or other.”

I am informed by Mr. Kunjain that “Mulla ordinarily means a man who follows the profession of teaching the Korān to children, reading it, and performing petty religious ceremonies for others, and lives on the scanty perquisites derived therefrom. The man in charge of a mosque, and who performs all petty offices therein, is also called a Mulla.69 This name is, however, peculiar to South Malabar. At Quilandi and around it the teacher of the Korān is called Muallimy, at Badagara Moiliar (Musaliar), at Kottayam Seedi, at Cannanore Kalfa, and north of it Mukri. The man in charge of a mosque is also called Mukir in North Malabar, while in South Malabar Mukir is applied to the man who digs graves, lights lamps, and supplies water to the mosque.”

The mosques of the Māppillas are quite unlike those of any other Muhammadans. “Here,” Mr. Fawcett [470]writes,70 “one sees no minarets. The temple architecture of Malabar was noticed by Mr. Fergusson to be like that of Nepāl: nothing like it exists between the two places. And the Māppilla mosque is much in the style of the Hindu temple, even to the adoption of the turret-like edifice which, among Hindus, is here peculiar to the temples of Siva. The general use nowadays of German mission-made tiles is bringing about, alas! a metamorphosis in the architecture of Hindu temples and Māppilla mosques, the picturesqueness disappearing altogether, and in a few years it may be difficult to find one of the old style. The mosque, though it may be little better than a hovel, is always as grand as the community can make it, and once built it can never be removed, for the site is sacred ever afterwards. Every Māppilla would shed his blood, rather than suffer any indignity to a mosque.” The mosques often consist of “several stories, having two or more roofs, one or more of the upper stories being usually built of wood, the sides sloping inwards at the bottom. The roof is pent and tiled. There is a gable end at one (the eastern) extremity, the timber on this being often elaborately carved.”

One section of Māppillas at Calicut is known as “Clap the hand” (Keikottakar) in contradistinction to another section, which may not clap hands (Keikottāttakar). On the occasion of wedding and other ceremonies, the former enjoy the privilege of clapping their hands as an accompaniment to the processional music, while the latter are not permitted to do so.71 It is said that at one time the differences of opinion between the two sections ran so high that the question was referred [471]for decision to the highest ecclesiastical authorities at Mecca.

The Māppillas observe the Ramazān, Bakrid, and Haj. “They only observe the ninth and tenth days of Muharam, and keep them as a fast; they do not make taboots.72 A common religious observance is the celebration of what is called a mavulad or maulad. A maulad is a tract or short treatise in Arabic celebrating the birth, life, works and sayings of the prophet, or some saint such as Shaik Mohiuddin, eleventh descendant of the prophet, expounder of the Korān, and worker of miracles, or the Mambram Tangal, father of Sayid Fasl. For the ceremony a Mulla is called in to read the book, parts of which are in verse, and the congregation is required to make responses, and join in the singing. The ceremony, which usually takes place in the evening, concludes with, or is preceded by a feast, to which the friends and relations are invited. Those who can afford it should perform a maulad in honour of Shaik Mohiuddin on the eleventh of every month, and one in honour of the prophet on the twelfth. A maulad should also be performed on the third day after death. It is also a common practice to celebrate a maulad before any important undertaking on which it is desired to invoke a blessing, or in fulfilment of some vows; hence the custom of maulads preceding outbreaks.”73

For a detailed account of the fanatical74 outbreaks in the Māppilla community, which have long disturbed the peace of Malabar from time to time, I must refer the [472]reader to the District Manual and Gazetteer. From these sources, and from the class handbook (Māppillas) for the Indian Army,75 the following note relating to some of the more serious of the numerous outbreaks has been compiled.76

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Māppillas massacred the chief of Anjengo, and all the English gentlemen belonging to the settlement, when on a public visit to the Queen of Altinga.77 In 1841, seven or eight Māppillas killed two Hindus, and took post in a mosque, setting the police at defiance. They, and some of their co-religionists who had joined them, were shot down by a party of sepoys. In the same month, some two thousand Māppillas set at defiance a police guard posted over the spot where the above criminals had been buried, and forcibly carried off their bodies, to inter them with honours in a mosque.

Māppilla mosque.

Māppilla mosque.

An outbreak, which occurred in 1843, was celebrated in a stirring ballad.78 A series of Māppilla war-songs have been published by Mr. Fawcett.79 In October, 1843, a peon (orderly) was found with his head and hand all but cut off, and the perpetrators were supposed to have been Māppilla fanatics of the sect known as Hāl Ilakkam (frenzy raising), concerning which the following account was given in an official report, 1843. “In the month of Mētam last year, one Alathamkuliyil Moidīn went out into the fields before daybreak to water the crops, and there he saw a certain person, who advised him to give up all his work, and devote his time to [473]prayer at the mosque. Moidīn objected to this, urging that he would have nothing to live upon. Whereupon, the above-mentioned person told him that a palm tree, which grew in his (Moidīn’s) compound, would yield sufficient toddy, which he could convert into jaggery (crude sugar), and thus maintain himself. After saying this, the person disappeared. Moidīn thought that the person he saw was God himself, and felt frantic (hāl). He then went to Taramal Tangal, and performed dikkar and niskāram (cries and prayers). After two or three days, he complained to the Tangal that Kāfirs (a term applied by Muhammadans to people of other religions) were making fun of him. The Tangal told him that the course adopted by him was the right one, and, saying ‘Let it be as I have said,’ gave him a spear to be borne as an emblem, and assured him that nobody would mock him in future. Subsequently several Māppillas, affecting hāl ilakkam, played all sorts of pranks, and wandered about with canes in their hands, without going to their homes or attending to their work. After several days, some of them, who had no means of maintaining themselves unless they attended to their work, returned to their former course of life, while others, with canes and Ernād knives (war knives) in their hands, wandered about in companies of five, six, eight, or ten men, and, congregating in places not much frequented by Hindus, carried on their dikkar and niskāram. The Māppillas in general look upon this as a religious vow, and provide these people with food. I hear of the Māppillas talking among themselves that one or two of the ancestors of Taramal Tangal died fighting, that, the present man being advanced in age, it is time for him to follow the same course, and that the above-mentioned men affected with hāl ilakkam, when their number swells to four [474]hundred, will engage in a fight with Kāfirs, and die in company with the Tangal. One of these men (who are known as Hālar), by name Avarumāyan, two months ago collected a number of his countrymen, and sacrificed a bull, and, for preparing meals for these men, placed a copper vessel with water on the hearth, and said that rice would appear of itself in the vessel. He waited for some time. There was no rice to be seen. Those who had assembled there ate beef alone, and dispersed. Some people made fun of Avarumāyan for this. He felt ashamed, and went to Taramal Tangal, with whom he stayed two or three days. He then went to the mosque at Mambram, and, on attempting to fly through the air into the mosque on the southern side of the river at Tirurangādi, fell down through the opening of the door, and became lame of one leg, in which state he is reported to be still lying. While the Hālar of Munniyūr dēsam were performing niskāram one day at the tomb of Chemban Pokar Mūppan, a rebel, they declared that in the course of a week a mosque would spring up at night, and that there would be complete darkness for two full days. Māppillas waited in anxious expectation of the phenomenon for seven or eight days and nights. There was, however, neither darkness nor mosque to be seen. Again, in the month of Karkigadam last, some of the influential Māppillas led their ignorant Hindu neighbours to believe that a ship would arrive with the necessary arms, provisions, and money for forty thousand men; and that, if that number could be secured meanwhile, they could conquer the country, and that the Hindus would then totally vanish. It appears that it was about this time that some Tiyyar (toddy-drawers) and others became converts. None of the predictions having been realised, Māppillas, as well as others, have begun to [475]make fun of the Hālar, who, having taken offence at this, are bent upon putting an end to themselves by engaging in a fight.”

Since the outbreak near Manjeri in 1849, when two companies of sepoys were routed after firing a few shots, European troops have always been engaged against the Māppillas. On the occasion of that outbreak, one of the Māppillas had his thigh broken in the engagement. He remained in all the agony of a wound unattended to for seven days, and was further tortured by being carried in a rough litter from the Manjeri to the Angādipuram temple. Yet, at the time of a further fight, he was hopping to the encounter on his sound leg, and only anxious to get a fair blow at the infidels before he died. It is recorded that, on one occasion, when a detachment of sepoys was thrown into disorder by a fierce rush of death-devoted Māppillas, the drummer of the company distinguished himself by bonneting an assailant with his drum, thereby putting the Māppilla’s head into a kind of straight jacket, and saving his own life.80 In 1852 Mr. Strange was appointed Special Commissioner to enquire into the causes of, and suggest remedies for, the Māppilla disturbances. In his report he stated, inter alia, that “a feature that has been manifestly common to the whole of these affairs is that they have been, one and all, marked by the most decided fanaticism, and this, there can be no doubt, has furnished the true incentive to them. The Māppillas of the interior were always lawless, even in the time of Tippu, were steeped in ignorance, and were, on these accounts, more than ordinarily susceptible to the teaching of ambitious and fanatical priests using the recognised [476]precepts of the Korān as handles for the sanction to rise and slay Kafirs, who opposed the faithful, chiefly in the pursuit of agriculture. The Hindus, in the parts where outbreaks have been most frequent, stand in such fear of the Māppillas as mostly not to dare to press for their rights against them, and there is many a Māppilla tenant who does not pay his rent, and cannot, so imminent are the risks, be evicted.” Mr. Strange stated further that “the most perverted ideas on the doctrine of martyrdom, according to the Korān, universally prevail, and are fostered among the lower classes of the Māppillas. The late enquiries have shown that there is a notion prevalent among the lower orders that, according to the Mussalman religion, the fact of a janmi or landlord having in due course of law ejected from his lands a mortgagee or other substantial tenant, is a sufficient pretext to murder him, become sahid (saint), and so ensure the pleasures of the Muhammadan paradise. It is well known that the favourite text of the banished Arab priest or Tangal, in his Friday orations at the mosque in Tirurangādi, was ‘It is no sin, but a merit, to kill a janmi who evicts.’” Mr. Strange proposed the organisation of a special police force exclusively composed of Hindus, and that restrictions should be put on the erection of mosques. Neither of these proposals was approved by Government. But a policy of repression set in with the passing of Acts XXII and XXIV of 1854. The former authorised the local authorities to escheat the property of those guilty of fanatical rising, to fine the locality where outrages had occurred, and to deport suspicious persons out of the country. The latter rendered illegal the possession of the Māppilla war-knife. Mr. Conolly, the District Magistrate, proceeded, in December, 1854, on a tour, to collect the war-knives [477]through the heart of the Māppilla country. In the following year, when he was sitting in his verandah, a body of fanatics, who had recently escaped from the Calicut jail, rushed in, and hacked him to pieces in his wife’s presence. He had quite recently received a letter from Lord Dalhousie, congratulating him on his appointment as a member of the Governor’s Council at Madras. His widow was granted the net proceeds of the Māppilla fines, amounting to more than thirty thousand rupees.

In an account of an outbreak in 1851, it is noted that one of the fanatics was a mere child. And it was noticed, in connection with a more recent outbreak, that there were “several boys who were barely fourteen years old. One was twelve; some were seventeen or eighteen. Some observers have said that the reason why boys turn fanatics is because they may thus avoid the discomfort, which the Ramzan entails. A dispensation from fasting is claimable when on the war-path. There are high hopes of feasts of cocoanuts and jaggery, beef and boiled rice. At the end of it all there is Paradise with its black-eyed girls.”81

In 1859, Act No. XX for the suppression of outrages in the district of Malabar was passed.

In 1884, Government appointed Mr. Logan, the Head Magistrate of Malabar, to enquire into the general question of the tenure of land and tenant right, and the question of sites for mosques and burial-grounds in the district. Mr. Logan expressed his opinion that the Māppilla outrages were designed “to counteract the overwhelming influence, when backed by the British courts, of the janmis in the exercise of the novel powers of ouster, and of rent-raising conferred upon them. A [478]janmi who, through the courts, evicted, whether fraudulently or otherwise, a substantial tenant, was deemed to have merited death, and it was considered a religious virtue, not a fault, to have killed such a man, and to have afterwards died in arms, fighting against an infidel Government.” Mr. MacGregor, formerly Collector of Malabar, had, some years before, expressed himself as “perfectly satisfied that the Māppilla outrages are agrarian. Fanaticism is merely the instrument, through which the terrorism of the landed classes is aimed at.”

In 1884 an outbreak occurred near Malappuram, and it was decided by Government to disarm the tāluks of Ernād, Calicut, and Walluvanād. Notwithstanding the excited state of the Māppillas at the time, the delicate operation was successfully carried out by the district officers, and 17,295 arms, including 7,503 fire-arms of various kinds, were collected. In the following year, the disarming of the Ponnāni tāluk was accomplished. Of these confiscated arms, the Madras Museum possesses a small collection, selected from a mass of them which were hoarded in the Collector’s office, and were about to be buried in the deep sea.

In 1896 a serious outbreak occurred at Manjeri, and two or three notoriously objectionable landlords were done away with. The fanatics then took up a position, and awaited the arrival of the British troops. They took no cover, and, when advancing to attack, were mostly shot down at a distance of 700 to 800 yards, every man wounded having his throat cut by his nearest friend. In the outbreak of 1894, a Māppilla youth was wounded, but not killed. The tidings was conveyed to his mother, who merely said, with the stern majesty of the Spartan matron of old, ‘If I were a man, I would not [479]come back wounded.’82 “Those who die fighting for the faith are reverenced as martyrs and saints, who can work miracles from the Paradise to which they have attained. A Māppilla woman was once benighted in a strange place. An infidel passed by, and, noticing her sorry plight, tried to take advantage of it to destroy her virtue. She immediately invoked the aid of one of the martyrs of Malappuram. A deadly serpent rushed out of a neighbouring thicket, and flew at the villain, who had dared to sully the chastity of a chosen daughter. Once, during a rising, a Māppilla, who preferred to remain on the side of order and Government, stood afar off, and watched with sorrow the dreadful sight of his co-religionists being cut down by the European soldiery. Suddenly his emotions underwent a transformation, for there, through his blinding tears and the dust and smoke of the battle, he saw a wondrous vision. Lovely houris bent tenderly over fallen martyrs, bathed their wounds, and gave them to drink delicious sherbet and milk, and, with smiles that outshone the brightness of the sun, bore away the fallen bodies of the brave men to the realms beyond. The watcher dashed through the crowd, and cast in his lot with the happy men who were fighting such a noble fight. And, after he was slain, these things were revealed to his wife in a vision, and she was proud thereat. These, and similar stories, are believed as implicitly as the Korān is believed.”83

It is noted by Mr. Logan84 that the custom of the Nāyars, in accordance with which they sacrificed their lives for the honour of the king, “was readily adopted by the Māppillas, who also at times—as at the great Mahāmakham twelfth year feast at Tirunāvāyi—devoted [480]themselves to death in the company of Nāyars for the honour of the Valluvanād Rāja. And probably the frantic fanatical rush of the Māppillas on British bayonets is the latest development of this ancient custom of the Nāyars.”

The fanatical outbreaks of recent times have been exclusively limited to the Ernād and Walluvanād tāluks. There are quartered at the present time at Malappuram in the Ernād tāluk a special Assistant Collector, a company of British troops, and a special native police force. In 1905, Government threw open 220 scholarships, on the results of the second and third standard examinations, to Māppilla pupils of promise in the two tāluks mentioned above, to enable them to prosecute their studies for the next higher standard in a recognised school connected with the Madras Educational Department. Twenty scholarships were further offered to Māppillas in the special class attached to the Government School of Commerce, Calicut, where instruction in commercial arithmetic, book-keeping, commercial practice, etc., is imparted in the Malayālam language. In 1904, a Māppilla Sanskrit school was founded at Puttūr, some of the pupils at which belong to the families of hereditary physicians, who were formerly good Sanskrit scholars.

At a Loyalty meeting of Māppillas held at Ponnāni in 1908 under the auspices of the Mannath-ul-Islam Sabha, the President spoke as follows. “When the Moplahs are ranged on the side of order, the peace of the country is assured. But the Moplah is viewed with suspicion by the Government. He has got a bad name as a disturber of the peace. He is liable to fits, and no one knows when he may run amock. From this public platform I can assure the Government as well as the [481]public that the proper remedy has at last been applied, and the Moplah fits have ceased, never to return. What the remedy was, and who discovered it, must be briefly explained. Every Moplah outbreak was connected with the relapse of a convert. In the heat of a family quarrel, in a moment of despair, a Hindu thought to revenge himself upon his family by becoming a convert to Islam. In a few days, repentance followed, and he went back to his relatives. An ignorant Mullah made this a text for a sermon. A still more ignorant villager found in it an opportunity to obtain admission into the highest Paradise. An outbreak results. The apostate’s throat is cut. The Moplah is shot. Deportation and Punitive Police follow. The only rational way to put a final stop to this chronic malady was discovered by a Hindu gentleman. The hasty conversions must be stopped. Those who seek conversion must be given plenty of time to consider the irrevocable nature of the step they were going to take. The Mullahs must be properly instructed. Their interpretation of the Koran was wrong. There is absolutely nothing in our scriptures to justify murders of this kind, or opposition to the ruling power. The ignorant people had to be taught. There was no place in Paradise for murderers and cut-throats. Their place was lower down. Three things had to be done. Conversion had to be regulated; the Mullahs had to be instructed; the ignorance of the people had to be removed. Ponani is the religious head-quarters of the Moplahs of the West Coast, including Malabar, South Canara, and the Native States of Cochin and Travancore. The Jarathingal Thangal at Ponani is the High Priest of all the Moplahs; the Mahadoom Thangal of Ponani is the highest authority in all religious matters. It is [482]he that sanctifies the Musaliars. The Mannath-ul-Islam Sabha at Ponani was started under the auspices of the Jarathingal Thangal and the Mahadoom Thangal. Two schools were opened for the education of new converts, one for boys and the other for girls. Strict enquiries were made as to the state of mind and antecedents of all who seek conversion. They are kept under observation long enough, and are admitted only on the distinct understanding that it is a deliberate voluntary act, and they have to make up their minds to remain. Some six thousand converts have passed through our schools since the Sabha was started. The Musaliars are never sanctified until they are thoroughly grounded in the correct principles of our religion, and an assurance is obtained from them that they will never preach rebellion. No Musaliar will break a promise given to the Thangal. The loyalty of the Musaliars and Mullahs is thus assured. Where there is no Musaliar to bless them, there is no Moplah to die as a martyr. The Mullahs are also taught to explain to all villagers that our scriptures condemn opposition to the ruling power, and that loyalty to the Sovereign is a religious duty. We are also trying to spread education among the ignorant villagers. In order further to enlist the sympathies of the people, extensive charities have been organised. Sixteen branches of the Sabha have been opened all over South Malabar and the States of Travancore and Cochin. A very large number of domestic quarrels—divorce cases, partition cases, etc.—have been settled by arbitration through these branch associations. It is an immense power for good.”

The Māppillas have been summed up, as regards their occupations, as being traders on the coast, and cultivators in the interior, in both of which callings they [483]are very successful and prosperous. “In the realm of industry,” it has been said, “the Moplah occupies a position, which undoubtedly does him credit. Poverty is confined almost exclusively to certain wild, yet picturesque tracts in the east of Malabar, where the race constitutes the preponderating element of the population, and the field and farm furnish the only means of support to the people. And it is just in those areas that one may see at their best the grit, laboriousness, and enterprise of the Moplah. He reclaims dense forest patches, and turns them into cultivated plots under the most unfavourable conditions, and, in the course of a few years, by hard toil and perseverance, he transforms into profitable homesteads regions that were erstwhile virgin forest or scrubby jungle. Or he lays himself out to reclaim and plant up marshy lands lying alongside rivers and lagoons, and insures them from destruction by throwing up rough but serviceable dykes and dams. In these tracts he is also sometimes a timber merchant, and gets on famously by taking out permits to fell large trees, which he rafts down the rivers to the coast. The great bulk of the Moplahs in these wild regions belong purely to the labouring classes, and it is among these classes that the pinch of poverty is most keenly felt, particularly in the dull monsoon days, when all industry has to be suspended. In the towns and coast ports, the Moplahs are largely represented in most branches of industry and toil. A good many of them are merchants, and get on exceedingly well, being bolder and more speculative than the Hindus of the district. The bulk of petty traders and shop-keepers in Malabar are also Moplahs, and, in these callings, they may be found at great distances from home, in Rangoon, Ceylon, the Straits and elsewhere, and generally prospering. Almost [484]everywhere in their own district they go near monopolising the grocery, hardware, haberdashery, and such other trades; and as petty bazar men they drive a profitable business on the good old principle of small profits and quick returns. No native hawker caters more readily to Mr. Thomas Atkins (the British soldier) than the Moplah, and, in the military stations in Malabar, ‘Poker’ (a Moplah name) waxes fat and grows rich by undertaking to supply Tommy with tea, coffee, lemonade, tobacco, oilman stores, and other little luxuries.”

“Some Māppillas,” Mr. A. Chatterton writes,85 “have taken to leather-working, and they are considered to be specialists in the making of ceruppus or leather shoes. In Malabar the trade in raw hides and skins is chiefly in the hands of Māppillas. Weekly fairs are held at several places, and all the available hides and skins are put up for sale, and are purchased by Muhammadans.” Some Māppillas bind books, and others are good smiths. “The small skull caps, which are the universal head-gear of Māppilla men and boys, are made in different parts of Malabar, but the best are the work of Māppilla women at Cannanore. They are made of fine canvas beautifully embroidered by hand, and fetch in the market between Rs. 2 and Rs. 3.”86

The Māppillas take an active share in the fish-curing operations along the west coast, and the Mukkuvans, who are the hereditary fishermen of Malabar, are inclined to be jealous of them. A veteran Mukkuvan, at the time of my inspection of the Badagara fish-curing yard in 1900, put the real grievance of his brethren in a nutshell. In old days, he stated, they used salt-earth for curing fishes. When the fish-curing yards were started, [485]and Government salt was issued, the Mukkuvans thought that they were going to be heavily taxed. They did not understand exactly what was going to happen, and were suspicious. The result was that they would have nothing to do with the curing-yards. The use of salt-earth was stopped on the establishment of Government salt, and some of the fishermen were convicted for illegal use thereof. They thought that, if they held out, they would be allowed to use salt-earth as formerly. Meanwhile, the Māppillas, being more wide-awake than the Mukkuvans, took advantage of the opportunity (in 1884), and erected yards, whereof they are still in possession. A deputation of Mukkuvans waited on me. Their main grievance was that they are hereditary fishermen, and formerly the Māppillas were only the purchasers of fish. A few years ago, the Māppillas started as fishermen on their own account, with small boats and thattuvala (tapping nets), in using which the nets, with strips of cocoanut leaves tied on to the ropes, are spread, and the sides of the boats beaten with sticks and staves, to drive the fish into the net. The noise made extends to a great distance, and consequently the shoals go out to sea, too far for the fishermen to follow in pursuit. In a petition, which was submitted to me by the Mukkuvan fish-curers at Badagara, they asked to have the site of the yard changed, as they feared that their women would be ‘unchastised’ at the hands of the Māppillas.

“Small isolated attempts,” Major Holland-Pryor writes, “to recruit Māppillas were made by various regiments quartered in Malabar some years ago, but without success. This was probably owing to the fact that the trial was made on too small a scale, and that the system of mixed companies interfered with their [486]clannish propensities. The district officers also predicted certain failure, on the ground that Māppillas would not serve away from their own country. Their predictions, however, have proved to be false, and men now come forward in fair numbers for enlistment.” In 1896, the experiment of recruiting Māppillas for the 25th Madras Infantry was started, and the responsible task of working up the raw material was entrusted to Colonel Burton, with whose permission I took measurements of his youthful warriors. As was inevitable in a community recruited by converts from various classes, the sepoys afforded an interesting study in varied colouration, stature and nasal configuration. One very dark-skinned and platyrhine individual, indeed, had a nasal index of 92. Later on, the sanction of the Secretary of State was obtained for the adoption of a scheme for converting the 17th and 25th regiments of the Madras Infantry into Māppilla corps, which were subsequently named the 77th and 78th Moplah Rifles. “These regiments,” Major Holland-Pryor continues, “at present draw their men principally from Ernād and Valuvanād. Labourers from these parts are much sought after by planters and agents from the Kolar gold-fields, on account of their hardiness and fine physique. Some, however, prefer to enlist. The men are generally smaller than the Coast Māppillas, and do not show much trace of Arab blood, but they are hardy and courageous, and, with their superior stamina, make excellent fighting material.” In 1905 the 78th Moplah Rifles were transferred to Dēra Ismail Khān in the Punjāb, and took part in the military manœuvres before H.R.H. the Prince of Wales at Rawalpindi. It has been observed that “the Moplahs, in dark green and scarlet, the only regiment in India which wears the tarbush, are notable examples [487]of the policy of taming the pugnacious races by making soldiers of them, which began with the enlistment of the Highlanders in the Black Watch, and continued to the disciplining of the Kachins in Burma. In the general overhauling of the Indian Army, the fighting value of the Moplahs has come into question, and the 78th Regiment is now at Dēra Ismail Khān being measured against the crack regiments of the north.” In 1907, the colours of the 17th Madras Infantry, which was formed at Fort St. George in 1777, and had had its name changed to 77th Moplah Rifles, were, on the regiment being mustered out, deposited in St. Mark’s Church, Bangalore.

It has been said of the Māppillas87 that “their heads are true cocoanuts; their high foreheads and pointed crowns are specially noticeable for being kept shaven, and, when covered, provided with only a small gaily embroidered skull-cap.”

The dress of the Māppillas is thus described in the Gazetteer of Malabar. “The ordinary dress of the men is a mundu or cloth, generally white with a purple border, but sometimes orange or green, or plain white. It is tied on the left (Hindus tie it on the right), and kept in position by a nūl or waist string, to which are attached one or more elassus (small cylinders) of gold, silver, or baser metal, containing texts from the Korān or magic yantrams. A small knife is usually worn at the waist. Persons of importance wear in addition a long flowing garment of fine cotton (a kind of burnoos), and over this again may be worn a short waistcoat like jacket, though this is uncommon in South Malabar, and (in the case of Tangals, etc.) a cloak of some rich [488]coloured silk. The European shirt and short coat are also coming into fashion in the towns. A small cap of white or white and black is very commonly worn, and round this an ordinary turban, or some bright coloured scarf may be tied. Māppillas shave their heads clean. Beards are frequently worn, especially by old people and Tangals. Hajis, or men who have made their pilgrimage to Mecca, and other holy men, often dye the beard red. Women wear a mundu of some coloured cloth (dark blue is most usual), and a white loose bodice more or less embroidered, and a veil or scarf on the head. In the case of the wealthy, the mundu may be of silk of some light colour. Women of the higher classes are kept secluded, and hide their faces when they go abroad. The lower classes are not particular in this respect. Men wear no jewellery, except the elassus already mentioned, and in some cases rings on the fingers, but these should not be of pure gold. Women’s jewellery is of considerable variety, and is sometimes very costly. It takes the form of necklaces, ear-rings, zones, bracelets, and anklets. As among Tiyans and Mukkuvans, a great number of ear-rings are worn. The rim of the ear is bored into as many as ten or a dozen holes, in addition to the one in the lobe. Nose-rings are not worn.

“Incredibly large sums of money,” Mr. P. Kunjain writes,88 “are spent on female ornaments. For the neck there are five or six sorts, for the waist five or six sorts, and there are besides long rows of armlets, bracelets, and bangles, and anklets and ear ornaments, all made of gold. As many as ten or fourteen holes are bored in each ear, one being in the labia (lobe) and the [489]remainder in the ala (helix). The former is artificially widened, and a long string of ornaments of beautiful manufacture suspended to it. As strict Sunnis of the Shafi school, the boring of the nose is prohibited.”

Sorcery figure, Malabar.

Sorcery figure, Malabar.

I have in my possession five charm cylinders, which were worn round the waist by a notorious Māppilla dacoit, who was shot by the police, and whom his co-religionists tried to turn into a saint. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that, though magic is condemned by the Korān, the Māppilla is very superstitious, and witchcraft is not by any means unknown. Many Tangals pretend to cure diseases by writing selections from the Korān on a plate with ink or on a coating of ashes, and then giving the ink or ashes mixed with water to the patient to swallow. They also dispense scrolls for elassus, and small flags inscribed with sacred verses, which are set up to avert pestilence or misfortune. The Māppilla jins and shaitāns correspond to the Hindu demons, and are propitiated in much the same way. One of their methods of witchcraft is to make a wooden figure to represent the enemy, drive nails into all the vital parts, and throw it into sea, after curses in due form. A belief in love philtres and talismans is very common, and precautions against the evil eye are universal.

In 1903, a life-size nude female human figure, with feet everted and turned backwards, carved out of the wood of Alstonia scholaris, was washed ashore at Calicut. Long nails had been driven in all over the head, body and limbs, and a large square hole cut out above the navel. Inscriptions in Arabic characters were scrawled over it. By a coincidence, the corpse of a man was washed ashore close to the figure. Quite recently, another interesting example of sympathetic magic, in [490]the shape of a wooden representation of a human being, was washed ashore at Calicut. The figure is eleven inches in height. The arms are bent on the chest, and the palms of the hands are placed together as in the act of saluting. A square cavity, closed by a wooden lid, has been cut out of the middle of the abdomen, and contains apparently tobacco, ganja (Indian hemp), and hair. An iron bar has been driven from the back of the head through the body, and terminates in the abdominal cavity. A sharp cutting instrument has been driven into the chest and back in twelve places.

“The Māppillas of North Malabar,” Mr. Lewis Moore writes,89 “follow the marumakkathāyam system of inheritance, while the Māppillas of South Malabar, with some few exceptions, follow the ordinary Muhammadan law. Among those who profess to follow the marumakkathāyam law, the practice frequently prevails of treating the self-acquisitions of a man as descendible to his wife and children under Muhammadan law. Among those who follow the ordinary Muhammadan law, it is not unusual for a father and sons to have community of property, and for the property to be managed by the father, and, after his death, by the eldest son. Mr. Logan90 alludes to the adoption of the marumakkathāyam law of inheritance by the Nambūdris of Payyanur in North Malabar, and then writes ‘And it is noteworthy that the Muhammadans settled there (Māppillas) have done the same thing.’ Mr. Logan here assumes that the Māppillas of North Malabar were Muhammadans in religion before they adopted the marumakkathāyam law of inheritance. There can, however, be but little doubt that a considerable portion, at all events, of [491]these so-called Māppillas were followers of marumakkathāyam rules and customs long before they embraced the faith of Islam.” “In the case of the Māppillas,” Mr. Vaidyanatha writes, “it is more than probable that there were more numerous conversions from marumakkathāyam families in the north than in the south. The number of makkathāyam adherents has always been small in the north. According to marumakkathāyam, the wife is not a member of the husband’s family, but usually resides in her family house. The makkathāyam Māppillas, curiously enough, seldom take their wives home. In some parts, such as Calicut, a husband is only a visitor for the night. The Māppillas, like the Nāyars, call themselves by the names of their houses (or parambas).” It is noted by Mr. P. Kunjain91 that the present generation of Moplahs following marumakkathāyam is not inclined to favour the perpetuation of this flagrant transgression of the divine law, which enjoins makkathāyam on true believers in unequivocal terms. With the view of defeating the operation of the law, the present generation settled their self-acquisition on their children during their lifetime. A proposal to alter the law to accord with the divine law will be hailed with supreme pleasure. This is the current of public opinion among Moplahs.

It is recorded in the Gazetteer of Malabar that “in North Malabar, Māppillas as a rule follow the marumakkathāyam system of inheritance, though it is opposed to the precepts of the Korān; but a man’s self-acquisitions usually descend to his wife and family in accordance with the Muhammadan law of property. The combination of the two systems of law often leads to great complications. [492]In the south, the makkatāyam system is usually followed, but it is remarkable that succession to religious stānams, such as that of the Valiya Tangal of Ponnāni, usually goes according to the marumakkathāyam system. There seems to be a growing discontent with the marumakkathāyam system; but, on the other hand, there is no doubt that the minute sub-division of property between a man’s heirs, which the Korān prescribes, tends to foster poverty, especially amongst petty cultivators, such as those of Ernād and Walavanād.”

It is unnecessary to linger over the naming, tonsure, circumcision, and ear-boring ceremonies, which the Māppilla infant has to go through. But the marriage and death customs are worthy of some notice.92 “Boys are married at the age of 18 or 20 as a rule in North Malabar, and girls at 14 or 15. In South Malabar, early marriages are more common, boys being married between 14 and 18, and girls between 8 and 12. In exceptional cases, girls have been known to be married at the age of 2½, but this only happens when the girl’s father is in extremis, since an orphan must remain unmarried till puberty. The first thing is the betrothal or settlement of the dowry, which is arranged by the parents, or in North Malabar by the Kārnavans. Large dowries are expected, especially in North Malabar, where, in spite of polygamy, husbands are at a premium, and a father with many daughters needs to be a rich man. The only religious ceremony necessary is the nikka, which consists in the formal conclusion of the contract before two witnesses and the Kāzi, who then registers it. The nikka may be performed either on the day of the nuptials or before it, sometimes months or years before. In the [493]latter case, the fathers of the bride and bridegroom go to the bride’s family mosque and repeat the necessary formula, which consists in the recital of the Kalima, and a formal acceptance of the conditions of the match, thrice repeated. In the former case, the Kāzi, as a rule, comes to the bride’s house where the ceremony is performed, or else the parties go to the Kāzi’s house. In North Malabar, the former is the rule; but in Calicut the Kāzi will only go to the houses of four specially privileged families. After the performance of the nikka, there is a feast in the bride’s house. Then the bridegroom and his attendants are shown to a room specially prepared, with a curtain over the door. The bridegroom is left there alone, and the bride is introduced into the room by her mother or sister. In North Malabar, she brings her dowry with her, wrapped in a cloth. She is left with the bridegroom for a few minutes, and then comes out, and the bridegroom takes his departure. In some cases, the bride and bridegroom are allowed to spend the whole night together. In some parts of South Malabar, it is the bride who is first conducted to the nuptial chamber, where she is made to lie down on a sofa, and the bridegroom is then introduced, and left with her for a few minutes. In North Malabar and Calicut, the bride lives in her own house with her mother and sisters, unless her husband is rich enough to build her a house of her own. In South Malabar, the wife is taken to the husband’s house as soon as she is old enough for cohabitation, and lives there. Polygamy is the rule, and it is estimated that in South Malabar 80 per cent. of the husbands have two wives or more, and 20 per cent. three or four. In North Malabar, it is not usual for a man to have more than two wives. The early age at which girls are married in South Malabar no doubt encourages polygamy. It also [494]encourages divorce, which in South Malabar is common, while in the north it is comparatively rare, and looked upon with disfavour. All that is required is for the husband to say, in the presence of the wife’s relations, or before her Kāzi, that he has ‘untied the tie, and does not want the wife any more,’ and to give back the stridhanam or dowry. Divorce by the wife is rare, and can be had only for definite reasons, such as that the husband is incapable of maintaining her, or is incurably diseased or impotent. Widows may remarry without limit, but the dearth of husbands makes it difficult for them to do so.

“When a man dies, his body is undressed, and arranged so that the legs point to Mecca. The two big toes are tied together, and the hands crossed on the chest, the right over the left; the arms are also tied with a cloth. Mullas are called in to read the Korān over the corpse, and this has to be continued until it is removed to the cemetery. When the relatives have arrived, the body is washed and laid on the floor on mats, over which a cloth has been spread. Cotton wool is placed in the ears, and between the lips, the fingers, and the toes, and the body is shrouded in white cloths. It is then placed on a bier which is brought from the mosque, and borne thither. At the mosque the bier is placed near the western wall; the mourners arrange themselves in lines, and offer prayers (niskāram) standing. The bier is then taken to the grave, which is dug north and south; the body is lowered, the winding sheets loosened, and the body turned so as to lie on its right side facing Mecca. A handful of earth is placed below the right cheek. The grave is then covered with laterite stones, over which each of the mourners throws a handful of earth, reciting the Kalima and passages from the Korān. Laterite stones are placed at the head and foot of the grave, and [495]some mailānji (henna: Lawsonia alba) is planted at the side. A Mulla then seats himself at the head of the grave, and reads certain passages of the Korān, intended to instruct the dead man how to answer the questions about his faith, which it is supposed that the angels are then asking him. The funeral concludes with distribution of money and rice to the poor. For three days, a week, or forty days, according to the circumstances of the deceased, Mullas should read the Korān over the grave without ceasing day and night. The Korān must also be read at home for at least three days. On the third day, a visit is made to the tomb, after which a maulad is performed, the Mullas are paid, alms are distributed, and a feast is given to the relations, including the deceased’s relations by marriage, who should come to his house that day. A similar ceremony is performed on the fortieth day, which concludes the mourning; and by the rich on anniversaries. Widows should keep secluded in their own houses for three months and ten days, without seeing any of the male sex. After that period, they are at liberty to remarry.”

Concerning the Māppillas of the Laccadives, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows.93 “The customs of the Māppillas of the Laccadive islands are peculiar. The people are not called Māppilas, but (1) Kōya, (2) Mālumi, (3) Urukkāran, (4) Takru, (5) Milikhān, and (6) Mēlāc’chēri. No. 1 is the land and boat owning class, and is superior to the rest. Nos. 2 to 5 are pilots and sailors, and, where they are cultivators, cultivate under No. 1. No. 6 were the slaves of the first division; now they cultivate the Kōyas’ lands, take the produce of those lands in boats to the mainland, and pay 20 per [496]cent. of the sale-proceeds to the Kōya owners. The islanders generally dress like ordinary Māppilas. The Mēlāc’cheris, however, may use only a coarser kind of cloth, and they are not allowed intermarriage with the other classes. If any such marriage takes place, the offender is put out of caste, but the marriage is deemed a valid one. The current tradition is that these Laccadive Māppilas were originally the inhabitants of Malabar—Nambūdiris, Nāyars, Tiyyas, etc.—who went in search of Chēramān Perumāl when the latter left for Mecca, and were wrecked on these islands. The story goes that these remained Hindus for a long time, that Obeidulla, the disciple of Caliph Abu Bakr, having received instructions from the prophet in a dream to go and convert the unbelievers on these islands, left for the place and landed on Amēni island, that he was ill-treated by the people, who were all Brāhmans, but that, having worked some miracles, he converted them. He then visited the other islands, and all the islanders embraced the Moslem faith. His remains are said to be interred in the island of Androth. Among this section of the Māppilas, succession is generally—in fact almost entirely—in the female line. Girls are married when they are six or seven years old. No dowry is given. They are educated equally with the boys, and, on marriage, they are not taken away from school, but continue there until they finish the course. In the island of Minicoy, the largest of the islands, the women appear in public, and take part in public affairs. The women generally are much more educated than the ordinary Māppila males of the mainland. The Kōyas are said to be descendants of Nambūdiris, Mēlach’cheris of Tiyyans and Mukkuvans, and the rest of Nāyars. Whatever the present occupation of Kōyas on these islands, the [497]tradition that Kōyas were originally Brāhmans also confirms the opinion that they belong to the priestly class.”

In a note on the Laccadives and Minicoy,94 Mr. C. W. E. Cotton writes that “while it would appear that the Maldives and Minicoy were long ago peopled by the same wave of Aryan immigration which overran Ceylon, tradition ascribes the first settlements in the northern group to an expedition shipwrecked on one of the Atolls so late as 825 A.D. This expedition is said to have set out from Kodungallūr (Cranganore) in search of the last of the Perumal Viceroys of Malabar, a convert either to Buddhism or Islam, and included some Nambudris, commonly employed, as Duarte Barbosa tells us, on account of their persons being considered sacrosanct, as envoys and messengers in times of war, and perhaps also for dangerous embassies across the seas. Some support may be found for this tradition in the perpetuation of the name illam for some of the principal houses in Kalpeni, and in the existence of strongly marked caste divisions, especially remarkable among communities professing Mahomedanism, corresponding to the aristocrats, the mariners, and the dependants, of which such an expeditionary force would have been composed. The Tarwad islands, Ameni, Kalpeni, Androth, and Kavarathi, were probably peopled first, and their inhabitants can claim high-caste Hindu ancestry. There has been no doubt everywhere considerable voluntary immigration from the coast, and some infusion of pure Arab blood; but the strain of Negro introduced into the Maldives by Zanzibar slaves is nowhere traceable in Minicoy or the northern Archipelago.” [498]

In a further note, Mr. Cotton writes as follows.95 “The inhabitants of Androth, Kalpēni, Kavaratti and Agatti, are Māppillas, almost undistinguishable, except in the matter of physical development, from those on the mainland. The admixture of Arab blood seems to be confined to a few of the principal families in the two ‘tarwad’ islands, Kalpēni and Androth. The islanders, though Muhammadans, perpetuate the old caste distinctions which they observed before their conversion to Islam. The highest caste is called Koya, in its origin merely a religious title. The Koyas represent the aristocracy of the original colonists, and in them vests the proprietorship of most of the cocoanut trees and the odams (ships), which constitute the chief outward and visible signs of wealth on the islands. They supply each Amīn with a majority of his council of hereditary elders (Kāranavans). The lowest and largest class is that of the Melacheris (lit. high climbers), also called Thandēls in Kavaratti, the villeins in the quasi-feudal system of the islands, who do the tree-tapping, cocoanut plucking, and menial labour. They hold trees on kudiyan service, which involves the shipping of produce on their overlord’s boat or odam, the thatching of his house and boat-shed, and an obligation to sail on the odam to the mainland whenever called upon. Intermediately come the Malumis (pilots), also called Urakars, who represent the skilled navigating class, to which many of the Karnavans in Kavaratti belong. Intermarriage between them and the less prosperous Koyis is now permitted. Monogamy is almost the universal rule, but divorces can be so easily obtained that the marriage tie can scarcely be regarded [499]as more binding than the sambandham among the Hindus on the coast. The women go about freely with their heads uncovered. They continue to live after marriage in their family or tarwad houses, where they are visited by their husbands, and the system of inheritance in vogue is marumakkathāyam as regards family property, and makkatāyam as regards self-acquisitions. These are distinguished on the islands under the terms Velliyāricha (Friday) and Tingalāricha (Monday) property. The family house is invariably called pura in contradistinction to Vīdu—the wife’s house. Intermarriage between the inhabitants of different islands is not uncommon. The islanders are very superstitious, and believe in ghosts and hobgoblins, about the visible manifestations of which many stories are current; and there is an old māmul (established) rule on all the islands forbidding any one to go out after nightfall. Phantom steamers and sailing ships are sometimes seen in the lagoons or rowed out to on the open sea; and in the prayers by the graves of his ancestors, which each sailor makes before setting out on a voyage, we find something akin to the Roman worship of the Manes. The Moidīn mosque at Kalpēni, and the big West Pandāram at Androth are believed to be haunted. There are Jārams (shrines) in Cheriyam and Cheriyakara, to which pilgrimages are made and where vows are taken, and it is usual to chant the fatēah96 on sighting the Jamath mosque in Androth, beneath the shadow of which is the tomb of Mumba Mulyaka, the Arab apostle to the Laccadives.”

In his inspection report of the Laccadives, 1902, Mr. G. H. B. Jackson notes that “the caste barrier, on the [500]island of Androth, between the Koya and the Malumi class and the Melacheris is as rigid as ever. It divides capital from labour, and has given the upper classes much of the appearance of an effete aristocracy.” In a more recent inspection report (1905), Mr. C. W. E. Cotton writes as follows. “Muhammadans, owing to their inordinate love of dress, are apt to give an exaggerated impression of wealth, but I should think that, despite the laziness of all but the Melacheris, the majority of the inhabitants (of Androth) are well-to-do, and, in this respect, compare very favourably with those of the other islands. The Qazi and several other Karnavars, who have a smattering of the Korān, go to the mainland, and, in centres of superstition, earn considerable sums by their profession of extreme learning and piety. The long satin coats (a canary yellow is the fashionable tint) procured in Bombay or Mangalore are evidence of the financial success of their pilgrimages. It is perhaps fortunate that the Koyas have discovered this additional source of income, for, though they continue to own nearly all the cargo-carrying odams (boats), their position as jenmis (landlords) has been seriously jeopardised owing to the repudiation of their obligations as Kudians by many of the enterprising Melacheri community. The Melacheris are now alive to the fact that, as their tenure is not evidenced by documents and rests upon oral assertions, they have a very reasonable chance of freeing themselves of their overlords altogether. The Mukhyastars are quite a representative lot. Sheikindevittil Muthu Koya is a fine specimen of the sea-faring Moplah, and the Qazi, twenty-fourth in descent from Mumby Moolyaka, the Arab who converted the islanders to Islam, struck me as a man of very considerable attainments. In his report on the [501]dispensary at Androth (1905), Mr. K. Ibrahim Khān, hospital assistant, states that “the quacks are said to be clever enough to treat cases both by their drugs and by their charms. They actually prevent other poor classes seeking medical and surgical treatment in the dispensary, and mislead them by their cunning words. Most of the quacks come to the dispensary, and take medicines such as santonine powders, quinine pills, purgatives, etc. They make use of these for their own cases, and thus earn their livelihood. The quacks are among the Koya class. The Koyas are jenmis, and the Malims and Melacheris are their tenants. The latter, being low classes, always believe them, and depend upon their landlords, who are also their physicians, to treat them when they fall sick. The islanders, as a rule, have no faith in English medical treatment. The rich folks who can afford it go to Malabar for native treatment; only the poorer classes, who have neither means to pay the quacks here nor to go to Malabar, attend the dispensary with half inclination.”

Marakāllu.—Marakāllu or Marakādu, meaning fishermen, has been recorded as a sub-division of Pallis engaged as fishermen in the Telugu country. The equivalent of Mukku Marakkālēru is a title or synonym of Mōger and Marakkān of Mukkuvan. Marakkāyar is a title of Labbai boatmen. [502]

1 Manual of the Nellore district.

2 Manual of the Kurnool district, 1886.

3 Madras Census Report, 1891.

4 Madras Mail, 1902.

5 While Wearing Sandals, or Tales of a Telugu Pariah Tribe.

6 Madras Christ. Coll. Mag., XXIII (New Series V), 1906.

7 Manual of the North Arcot district.

8 A. Chatterton, Monograph of tanning and working in Leather, Madras, 1904.

9 Manual of the Kurnool district.

10 Manual of the Bellary district.

11 Madras Museum Bull. V. 3, 1907.

12 Madras Census Report, 1891.

13 Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts of the Bombay Presidency, 1882.

14 Manual of the Cuddapah district.

15 Manual of the Bellary district.

16 Manual of the Bellary district.

17 Manual of the Bellary district.

18 Gazetteer of the Anantapur district.

19 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

20 Manual of the North Arcot district.

21 Notes from a Diary, 1881–1886.

22 Manual of the Kurnool district.

23 Madras Census Report, 1891.

24 Madras Diocesan Record, 1905.

25 Gazetteer of the Godāvari district.

26 Madras Museum Bull. V. 3, 1907.

27 East and West, 6th May 1907.

28 Gazetteer of the Anantapur district.

29 Madras and Tinnevelly Dioces. Mag., June, 1908.

30 Gōchi, a clout, a truss or flap; a waist-cloth. C. P. Brown, Telugu Dictionary.

31 Gazetteer of the Godāvari district.

32 Ind. Ant., III, 1874; VI, 1877.

33 Native Life in Travancore, 1883.

34 Journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 1807.

35 Calcutta Review, 1902.

36 Manual of the South Canara district.

37 Manual of the North Arcot district.

38 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

39 Darakhāst: application for land for purposes of cultivation; or bid at an auction.

40 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

41 Madras Mail, 1904.

42 Madras Mail, 1908.

43 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

44 C. Hayavadana Rao, MS.

45 Manual of the North Arcot district.

46 Manual of the South Arcot district.

47 Madras Census Report, 1891.

48 Madras Diocesan Magazine, 1906.

49 Manual of the North Arcot district.

50 Madras Census Report, 1891.

51 Travancore Census Report, 1901.

52 Lecture delivered at Trivandrum.

53 See A. T. Mackenzie. History of the Periyār Project. Madras, 1899.

54 Rev. J. Cain. Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

55 Malabar Law and Custom. 3rd ed., 1905.

56 Elements of South Indian Palæography.

57 Madras Review, 1896.

58 Man, 1903.

59 Manual of Malabar.

60 Manual of the Madura district.

61 Hobson-Jobson.

62 Ind. Ant., XXXI, 1902.

63 Cf. Javan, Genesis X, 2; Isaiah, LXVI, 19; Ezekiel, XXVII, 13, 19.

64 Malabar Quart. Review, 1903.

65 Vide Correspondence on Moplah Outrages, 1849–53.

66 Madras Census Report, 1891.

67 Madras Mail, 1908.

68 Malabar Quart. Review, 1906.

69 When not officially attached to a mosque, the Mulla is said to be called Nāttu (country) Mulla.

70 Ind. Ant., XXX, 1901.

71 P. V. Ramunni, loc. cit.

72 The taboot is “a kind of shrine, or model of a Mahomedan mausoleum, of flimsy material, intended to represent the tomb of Husain at Kerbela, which is carried in procession during the Mohurram.” Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

73 Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

74 Fanatical (fanum, a temple). Possessed by a deity or devil, frantic, mad, furious. Murray. New English Dictionary.

75 Major Holland-Pryor, 1904.

76 See also Government Orders, Judicial Department, Nos. 1267, 24th May, 1894; 2186, 8th September, 1894; 1567, 30th September, 1896; and 819, 25th May, 1898.

77 Forbes’ Oriental Memoirs.

78 Manual of Malabar, 1887, p. 102.

79 Ind. Ant., XXX, 1901.

80 General Burton. An Indian Olio.

81 Calcutta Review, 1897.

82 Calcutta Review, 1897.

83 Ibid.

84 Manual of Malabar.

85 Monograph on Tanning and Working in Leather, 1904.

86 Gazetteer of Malabar.

87 General Burton. Op. cit.

88 Loc. cit.

89 Op. cit.

90 Manual of Malabar.

91 Loc. cit.

92 Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

93 Madras Census Report, 1891.

94 Malabar Quarterly Review, Vol. 3, 1906.

95 Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

96 The recital of the first chapter of the Koran.

Printed by The Superintendent, Government Press, Madras.


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