Skip to main content

Full text of "Castes and tribes of southern India"

See other formats




. >i^^t%V3ltgi^—i ^t T 












Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 








Superintendent, Madras Government Museum ; Correspondant Etranger, 

Soci6t6|d'Anthropologie de Paris; Socio Corrispondants, 

Societa Romana di Anthropologia. 



of the Madras Governmont Museum. 






fJIALLI OR VANNIYAN.— Writing concerning 
this caste the Census Superintendent, i87i> 
records that "a book has been written by a 
native to show that the Pallis (Pullies or Vanniar) of the 
south are descendants of the fire races (Agnikulas) of 
the Kshatriyas, and that the Tamil Pullies were at one 
time the shepherd kings of Egypt." At the time of the 
census, 1871, a petition was submitted to Government by 
representatives of the caste, praying that they might be 
classified as Kshatriyas, and twenty years later, in con- 
nection with the census, 1891, a book entitled * Vannikula 
Vilakkam : a treatise on the Vanniya caste, ' was compiled 
by Mr. T. Aiyakannu Nayakar, in support of the caste 
claim to be returned as Kshatriyas, for details concerning 
which claim I must refer the reader to the book itself. 
In 1907, a book entitled Varuna Darpanam (Mirror of 
Castes) was published, in which an attempt is made to 
connect the caste with the Pallavas. 

Kulasekhara, one of the early Travancore kings, and 
one of the most renowned Alwars reverenced by the Sri 
Vaishnava community in Southern India, is claimed by 
the Pallis as a king of their caste. Even now, at the 
Parthasarathi temple in Triplicane (in the city of 
Madras), which according to inscriptions is a Pallava 



temple, Pallis celebrate his anniversary with great eclat. 
The Pallis of Komalesvaranpettah in the city of Madras 
have a Kulasekhara Perumal Sabha, which manages the 
celebration of the anniversary. The temple has recently 
been converted at considerable cost into a temple for the 
great Alwar. A similar celebration is held at the 
Chintadripettah Adikesava Perumal temple in Madras. 
The Pallis have the right to present the most important 
camphor offering of the Mylapore Siva temple. They 
allege that the temple was originally theirs, but by 
degrees they lost their hold over it until this bare right 
was left to them. Some years ago, there was a dispute 
concerning the exercise of this right, and the case came 
before the High Court of Madras, which decided the 
point at issue in favour of the Pallis. One of the principal 
gopuras (pyramidal towers) of the Ekamranatha temple 
at Big Conjeeveram, the ancient capital of the Pallavas, 
is known as Palligopuram. The Pallis of that town 
claim it as their own, and repair it from time to time. 
In like manner, they claim that the founder of the 
Chidambaram temple, by name Sweta Varman, subse- 
quently known as Hiranya Varman (sixth century A.D.) 
was a Pallava king. At Pichavaram, four miles east of 
Chidambaram, lives a Palli family, which claims to be 
descended from Hiranya Varman. A curious ceremony 
is even now celebrated at the Chidambaram temple, on 
the steps leading to the central sanctuary. As soon as 
the eldest son of this family is married, he and his wife, 
accompanied by a local Vellala, repair to the sacred 
shrine, and there, amidst crowds of their castemen and 
others, a homam (sacrificial fire) is raised, and offerings 
are made to it. The couple are then anointed with nine 
different kinds of holy water, and the Vellala places the 
temple crown on their heads. The Vellala who officiates 


at this ceremony, assisted by the temple priests, is said 
to belong to the family of a former minister of a descend- 
ant of Hiranya Varman. It is said that, as the ceremony 
is a costly one, and the expenses have to be paid by the 
individual who undergoes it, it often happens that the 
eldest son of the family has to remain a bachelor for half 
his lifetime. The Pallis who reside at St. Thom^ in the 
city of Madras allege that they became Christians, with 
their King Kandappa Raja, who, they say, ruled over 
Mylapore during the time of the visit of St. Thomas. In 
1907, Mr. T. Varadappa Nayakar, the only High Court 
Vakil (pleader) among the Palli community practising in 
Madras, brought out a Tamil book on the history of the 
connection of the caste with the ancient Pallava kings. 

In reply to one of a series of questions promulgated 
by the Census Superintendent, it was stated that *' the 
caste is known by the following names : — Agnikulas and 
Vanniyas. The etymology of these is the same, being 
derived from the Sanskrit Agni or Vahni, meaning fire. 
The following, taken from Dr. Oppert's article on the 
original inhabitants of Bharatavarsa or India, explains 
the name of the caste with its etymology : — ' The word 
Vanniyan is generally derived from the Sanskrit Vahni, 
fire. Agni, the god of fire, is connected with regal 
office, as kings hold in their hands the fire-wheel or 
Agneya-chakra, and the Vanniyas urge in support of their 
name the regal descent they claim.' The existence of 
these fire races, Agnikula or Vahnikula (Vanniya), in 
North and South India is a remarkable fact. No one can 
refuse to a scion of the non-Aryan warrior tribe the title 
of Rajputra, but in so doing we establish at once Aryan 
and non-Aryan Rajaputras or Rajputs. The Vanniyan 
of South India may be accepted as a representative of 
the non-Aryan Rajput element" 



The name Vanniyan is, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* 
" derived from the Sanskrit vanhi (fire) in consequence 
of the following legend. In the olden times, two giants 
named Vatapi and Mahi, worshipped Brahma with such 
devotion that they obtained from him immunity from 
death from every cause save fire, which element they 
had carelessly omitted to include in their enumeration. 
Protected thus, they harried the country, and Vatapi 
went the length of swallowing Vayu, the god of the 
winds, while Mahi devoured the sun. The earth was 
therefore enveloped in perpetual darkness and stillness, 
a condition of affairs which struck terror into the minds 
of the devatas, and led them to appeal to Brahma. He, 
recollecting the omission made by the giants, directed 
his suppliants to desire the rishi Jambava Mahamuni to 
perform a yagam, or sacrifice by fire. The order having 
been obeyed, armed horse men sprung from the flames, 
who undertook twelve expeditions against Vatapi and 
Mahi, whom they first destroyed, and afterwards released 
Vayu and the sun from their bodies. Their leader then 
assumed the government of the country under the name 
Rudra Vanniya Maharaja, who had five sons, the 
ancestors of the Vanniya caste. These facts are said to 
be recorded in the Vaidiswara temple in the Tanjore 

The Vaidiswara temple here referred to is the 
Vaidiswara kovil near Shiyali. Mr. Stuart adds that 
" this tradition alludes to the destruction of the city of 
Vapi by Narasimha Varma, king of the Pallis or 
Pallavas." Vapi, or Va-api, was the ancient name of 
Vatapi or Badami in the Bombay Presidency. It was 
the capital of the Chalukyas, who, during the seventh 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 


century, were at feud with the Pallavas of the south. 
"The son of Mahendra Varman I," writes Rai Bahadur 
V. Venkayya, "was Narasimha Varman I, who retrieved 
the fortunes of the family by repeatedly defeating the 
Cholas, Keralas, Kalabhras, and Pandyas. He also 
claims to have written the word victory as on a plate on 
Pulikesin's * back, which was caused to be visible {i.e., 
which was turned in flight after defeat) at several battles. 
Narasimha Varman carried the war into Chalukyan 
territory, and actually captured Vatapi their capital. 
This claim of his is established by an inscription found 
at Badami, from which it appears that Narasimha Varman 
bore the title Mahamalla. In later times, too, this Pallava 
king was known as Vatapi Konda Narasingapottaraiyan. 
Dr. Fleet assigns the capture of the Chalukya capital to 
about A.D. 642. The war of Narasimha Varman with 
Pulikesin is mentioned in the Sinhalese chronicle 
Mahavamsa. It is also hinted at in the Tamil Periya- 
puranam. The well-known saint Siruttonda, who had 
his only son cut up and cooked in order to satisfy the 
appetite of the god Siva disguised as a devotee, is said 
to have reduced to dust the city of Vatapi for his royal 
master, who could be no other than the Pallava king 
Narasimha Varman." 

I gather, from a note by Mr. F. R. Hemingway, that 
the Pallis " tell a long story of how they are descendants 
of one Vira Vanniyan, who was created by a sage named 
Sambuha when he was destroying the two demons named 
Vatapi and Enatapi. This Vira Vanniyan married a 
daughter of the god Indra, and had five sons, named 
Rudra, Brahma, Krishna, Sambuha, and Kai, whose 
descendants now live respectively in the country north 

♦ Pulikesin II, the Chalukyan King of Badami. 


of the Palar in the Cauvery delta, between the Palar and 
Pennar. They have written a Puranam and a drama 
bearing on this tale. They declare that they are superior 
to Brahmans, since, while the latter must be invested 
with the sacred thread after birth, they bring their sacred 
thread with them at birth itself." 

" The Vanniyans," Mr. Nelson states,* " are at the 
present time a small and obscure agricultural caste, but 
there is reason to believe that they are descendants of 
ancestors who, in former times, held a good position 
among the tribes of South India. A manuscript, 
abstracted at page 90 of the Catalogue raisonn^ 
(Mackenzie Manuscripts), states that the Vanniyans 
belong to the Agnikula, and are descended from the 
Muni Sambhu ; and that they gained victories by means 
of their skill in archery. And another manuscript, 
abstracted at page 427, shows that two of their chiefs 
enjoyed considerable power, and refused to pay the 
customary tribute to the Rayar, who was for a long 
time unable to reduce them to submission. Armies 
of Vanniyans are often mentioned in Ceylon annals. 
And a Hindu History of Ceylon, translated in the Royal 
As. Soc. Journal, Vol. XXIV, states that, in the year 
3300 of the Kali Yuga, a Pandya princess went over 
to Ceylon, and married its king, and was accompanied 
by sixty bands of Vanniyans." 

The terms Vanni and Vanniyan are used in Tamil 
poems to denote king. Thus, in the classical Tamil 
poem Kalladam, which has been attributed to the 
time of Tiruvalluvar, the author of the sacred Kural, 
Vanni is used in the sense of king. Kamban, the author 
of the Tamil Ramayana, uses it in a similar sense. In 

* Manual of the Madura district. 


an inscription dated 1189 A.D., published by Dr. E. 
Hultzsch,* Vanniya Nayan appears among the titles of 
the local chief of Tiruchchuram, who made a grant of 
land to the Vishnu temple at Manimangalam. Tiruch- 
churam is identical with Tiruvidaichuram about four 
miles south-east of Chingleput, where there is a ruined 
fort, and also a Siva temple celebrated in the hymns 
of Tirugnana Sambandhar, the great Saiva saint who 
lived in the 9th century. Local tradition, confirmed by 
one of the Mackenzie manuscripts,! says that this place 
was, during the time of the Vijayanagar King Krishna 
Raya(i509 — 30 A. D.), ruled over by two feudal chiefs of 
the Vanniya caste named Kandavarayan and Sendava- 
rayan. They, it is said, neglected to pay tribute to their 
sovereign lord, who sent an army to exact it. The 
brothers proved invincible, but one of their dancing-girls 
was guilty of treachery. Acting under instructions, she 
poisoned Kandavarayan. His brother Sendavarayan 
caught hold of her and her children, and drowned them 
in the local tank. The tank and the hillock close by 
still go by the name of Kuppichi kulam and Kuppichi 
kunru, after Kuppi the dancing-girl. An inscription of 
the Vijayanagar king Deva Raya II (14 19 — 44 A.D.) 
gives him the title of the lord who took the heads of the 
eighteen Vanniyas.J This inscription records a grant 
by one Muttayya Nayakan, son of Mukka Nayakan of 
Vanniraya gotram. Another inscription, § dated 1456 
A.D., states that, when one Raja Vallabha ruled at 
Conjeeveram, a general, named Vanniya Chinna Pillai, 
obtained a piece of land at Sattankad near Madras. 

* South Indian Inscriptions, III, 31, page 82. 
t In the Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. 

X J. Burgess. Archasological Survey. Tamil and Sanskrit Inscriptions, No. 
II, p. 150. 

§ /did. No. 12, p. 152. 


Reference is made by Orme * to the assistance which 
the Vaniah of Sevagherry gave Muhammad Yusuf in 
his reduction of Tinnevelly in 1757. The Vaniah here 
referred to is the Zamindar of Sivagiri in the Tinnevelly 
district, a Vanniya by caste. Vanniyas are mentioned in 
Ceylon archives. Wanni is the name of a district in 
Ceylon. It is, Mr. W. Hamilton writes,! "situated 
towards Trincomalee in the north-east quarter. At 
different periods its Wannies or princes, taking advan- 
tage of the wars between the Candian sovereigns and 
their European enemies, endeavoured to establish an 
authority independent of both, but they finally, after 
their country had been much desolated by all parties, 
submitted to the Dutch." Further, Sir J. E. Tennent 
writes, J that " in modern times, the Wanny was governed 
by native princes styled Wannyahs, and occasionally by 
females with the title of Wunniches." 

The terms Sambhu and Sambhava Rayan are 
connected with the Pall is. The story goes that Agni 
was the original ancestor of all kings. His son was 
Sambhu, whose descendants called themselves Sambhu- 
kula, or those of the Sambhu family. Some inscriptions § 
of the time of the Chola kings Kulottunga HI and Raja 
Raja ni record Sambukula Perumal Sambuvarayan and 
Alagiya Pallavan Edirili Sola Sambuvarayan as titles of 
local chiefs. A well-known verse of Irattayar in praise 
of Conjeeveram Ekamranathaswami refers to the Pallava 
king as being of the Sambu race. The later descendants 
of the Pallavas apparently took Sambuvarayar and its 

• History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, 

t Geographical, statistical, and historical description of Hindostan and 
the adjacent countries, 1820. 

% Ceylon, i860. 

§ South Indian Inscriptions, i, 86-7, 105, 136, and III, I, 121, 123. 





allied forms as their titles, as the Pallis in Tanjore and 
South Arcot still do. At Conjeeveram there lives the 
family of the Mahanattar of the Vanniyans, which calls 
itself " of the family of Vira Sambu." 

"The name Vanniyan," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* 
seems to have been introduced by the Brahmans, 
possibly to gratify the desire of the Pallis for genealogical 
distinction. Padaiyachi means a soldier, and is also of 
late origin. That the Pallis were once an influential 
and independent community may be admitted,, and in 
their present desire to be classed as Kshatriyas they 
are merely giving expression to this belief, but, unless 
an entirely new meaning is to be given to the term 
Kshatriya, their claim must be dismissed as absurd. 
After the fall of the Pallava dynasty, the Pallis became 
agricultural servants under the Vellalas, and it is only 
since the advent of British rule that they have begun to 
assert their claims to a higher position." Further, Mr. 
W. Francis writes t that " this caste has been referred 
to as being one of those which are claiming for them- 
selves a position higher than that which Hindu society 
is inclined to accord them. Their ancestors were socially 
superior to themselves, but they do not content them- 
selves with stating this, but in places are taking to 
wearing the sacred thread of the twice-born, and claim 
to be Kshatriyas. They have published pamphlets to 
prove their descent from that caste, and they returned 
themselves in thousands, especially in Godavari, as 
Agnikula Kshatriyas or Vannikula Kshatriyas, meaning 
Kshatriyas of the fire race." " As a relic," it has been 
said,J " of the origin of the Vannikula Kshatriyas from 
fire, the fire-pot, which comes in procession on a fixed 

• Madras Census Report, 1891. f Madras Census Report, 1901. 

X Vannikula Vilakkam. 


day during the annual festivities of Draupadi and other 
goddesses, is borne on the head of a Vanniya. Also, in 
dramatic plays, the king personae {sic) has always been 
taken by a Kshatriya, who is generally a Vanniya. 
These peculiarities, however, are becoming common now- 
a-days, when privileges peculiar to one caste are being 
trenched upon by other caste men. In the Tirupporur 
temple, the practice of beating the mazhu (red-hot iron) 
is done by a dancing-girl serving the Vanniya caste. 
The privilege of treading on the fire is also peculiar to 
the Vanniyas." It is recorded by Mr. Francis * that, in 
the South Arcot district, " Draupadi's temples are very 
numerous, and the priest at them is generally a Palli by 
caste, and Pallis take the leading part in the ceremonies 
at them. Why this should be so is not clear. The 
Pallis say it is because both the Pandava brothers and 
themselves were born of fire, and are therefore related. 
Festivals to Draupadi always involve two points of ritual 
— the recital or acting of a part of the Mahabharata and 
a fire-walking ceremony. The first of these is usually 
done by the Pallis, who are very fond of the great epic, 
and many of whom know it uncommonly well. [In the 
city of Madras there are several Draupadi Amman 
temples belonging to the Pallis. The fire-walking 
ceremony cannot be observed thereat without the help 
of a member of this caste, who is the first to walk over 
the hot ashes.] 

Kuvvakkam is known for its festival to Aravan (more 
correctly Iravan) or Kuttandar, which is one of the most 
popular feasts with Sudras in the whole district. 
Aravan was the son of Arjuna, one of the five Pandava 
brothers. Local tradition says that, when the great war 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


which is described in the Mahabharata was about to 
begin, the Kauravas, the opponents of the Pandavas, 
sacrificed, to bring them success, a white elephant. The 
Pandavas were in despair of being able to find any such 
uncommon object with which to propitiate the gods, 
until Arjuna suggested that they should offer up his son 
Aravan. Aravan agreed to yield his life for the good 
of the cause, and, when eventually the Pandavas were 
victorious, he was deified for the self-abnegation which 
had thus brought his side success. Since he died in his 
youth, before he had been married, it is held to please 
him if men, even though grown up and already wedded, 
come now and offer to espouse him, and men who are 
afflicted with serious diseases take a vow to marry him 
at his annual festival in the hope of thereby being cured. 
The festival occurs in May, and for eighteen nights 
the Mahabharata is recited by a Palli, large numbers 
of people, especially of that caste, assembling to hear 
it read. On the eighteenth night, a wooden image of 
Kuttandar is taken to a tope (grove), and seated there. 
This is the signal for the sacrifice of an enormous number 
of fowls. Every one who comes brings one or two, and 
the number killed runs literally into thousands. Such 
sacrifices are most uncommon in South Arcot, though 
frequent enough in other parts of the Presidency — the 
Ceded Districts for example — and this instance is note- 
worthy. While this is going on, all the men who have 
taken vows to be married to the deity appear before his 
image dressed like women, make obeisance, offer to the 
priest (who is a Palli by caste) a few annas, and give 
into his hands the talis (marriage badges) which they 
have brought with them. These the priest, as represent- 
ing the God, ties round their necks. The God is brought 
back to his shrine that night, and when in front of the 


building he is hidden by a cloth beingl held before him. 
This symbolises the sacrifice of Aravan, and the men 
who have just been married to him set up loud lamenta- 
tions at the death of their husband. Similar vows are 
taken and ceremonies performed, it is said, at the shrines 
to Kuttandar at Kottattai (two miles north-west of Porto 
Novo), and Adivarahanattum (five miles north-west of 
Chidambaram), and, in recent years, at Tiruvarkkulam 
(one mile east of the latter place) ; other cases probably 

The Pallis, Mr. Francis writes further, * "as far back 
as 1833 tried to procure a decree in Pondicherry, 
declaring that they were not a low caste, and of late 
years they have, in this (South Arcot) district, been 
closely bound together by an organisation managed by 
one of their caste, who was a prominent person in these 
parts. In South Arcot they take a somewhat higher 
social rank than in other places — Tanjore, for example — 
and their esprit de corps is now surprisingly strong. 
They are tending gradually to approach the Brahmanical 
standard of social conduct, discouraging adult marri- 
age, meat-eating, and widow re-marriage, and they also 
actively repress open immorality or other social sins, 
which might serve to give the community a bad name. 
In 1904 a document came before one of the courts, which 
showed that, in the year previous, the representatives of 
the caste in thirty-four villages in this district had bound 
themselves in writing, under penalty of excommunication, 
to refrain (except with the consent of all parties) from 
the practices formerly in existence of marrying two 
wives, and of allowing a woman to marry again during 
the lifetime of her first husband. Some of the caste 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


have taken to calling themselves Vannikula Kshatriyas 
or Agnikula Kshatriyas, and others even declare that 
they are Brahmans. These last always wear the sacred 
thread, tie their cloths in the Brahman fashion (though 
their women do not follow the Brahman ladies in this 
matter), forbid widow remarriage, and are vegetarians." 

Some Palli Poligars have very high-sounding names, 
such as Agni Kudirai Eriya Raya Ravutha Minda 
Nainar, i.e., Nainar who conquered Raya Ravutha and 
mounted a fire horse. This name is said to comme- 
morate a contest between a Palli and a Ravutha, at which 
the former sat on a red-hot metal horse. Further names 
are Samidurai Surappa Sozhaganar and Anjada Singam 
(fearless lion). Some Pallis have adopted Gupta as 
a title. 

A few Palli families now maintain a temple of their 
own, dedicated to Srinivasa, at the village of Kumalam 
in the South Arcot district, live round the temple, and 
are largely dependent on it for their livelihood. Most 
of them dress exactly like the temple Battars, and a 
stranger would certainly take them for Battar Brahmans. 
Some of them are well versed in the temple ritual, and 
their youths are being taught the Sandyavandhana 
(morning prayer) and Vedas by a Brahman priest. 
Ordinary Palli girls are taken by them in marriage, but 
their own girls are not allowed to marry ordinary Pallis ; 
and, as a result of this practice of hypergamy, the 
Kumalam men sometimes have to take to themselves 
more than one wife, in order that their young women 
may be provided with husbands. These Kumalam Pallis 
are regarded as priests of the Pallis, and style themselves 
Kovilar, or temple people. But, by other castes, they 
are nicknamed Kumalam Brahmans. They claim to be 
Kshatriyas, and have adopted the title Rayar. 


Other titles, " indicating authority, bravery, and 
superiority," assumed by Pallis are Nayakar, Varma, 
Padaiyachi (head of an army), Kandar, Chera, Chola, 
Pandya, Nayanar, Udaiyar, Samburayar, etc.* Still 
further titles are Pillai, Reddi, Goundan, and Kavandan. 
Some say that they belong to the Chola race, and that, 
as such, they should be called Chembians.t Iranya 
Varma, the name of one of the early Pallava kings, was 
returned as their caste by certain wealthy Pallis, who 
also gave themselves the title of S5lakanar (descendant 
of Chola kings) at the census, 1901. 

In reply to a question by the Census Superintendent, 
1 89 1, as to the names of the sub-divisions of the caste, it 
was stated that "the Vanniyans are either of the solar 
and lunar or Agnikula race, or Ruthra Vanniyar, Krishna 
Vanniyar, Samboo Vanniyar, Brahma Vanniyar, and 
Indra Vanniyar." The most important of the sub- 
divisions returned at the census were Agamudaiyan, 
Agni, Arasu (Raja), Kshatriya, Nagavadam (cobra's 
hood, or ear ornament of that shape), Nattaman, Olai 
(palm leaf), Pandamuttu, and Perumal gotra. Panda- 
muttu is made by Winslow to mean torches arranged 
so as to represent an elephant. But the Pallis derive 
the name from panda muttu, or touching the pandal, in 
reference to the pile of marriage pots reaching to the 
top of the pandal. The lowest pet is decorated with 
figures of elephants and horses. At a marriage among 
the Pandamuttu Pallis, the bride and bridegroom, in 
token of their Kshatriya descent, are seated on a raised 
dais, which represents a simhasanam or throne. The 
bride wears a necklace of glass beads with the tali, and 
the officiating priest is a Telugu Brahman. Other 

* Vannikula Vilakkam. f Gazetteer of the Tanjore district. 


sub-castes of the PalHs, recorded in the Census Report, 
1 90 1, are Kallangi in Chlngleput, bearing the title Reddi, 
and Kallaveli, or Kalian's fence, in the Madura district. 
The occupational title Kottan (bricklayer) was returned 
by some Pallis in Coimbatore. In the Salem district 
some Pallis are divided into Anju-nal (five days) and 
Pannendu-nal (twelve days), according as they perform 
the final death ceremonies on the fifth or twelfth day 
after death, to distinguish them from those who perform 
them on the sixteenth day.* Another division of 
Pallis in the Salem district is based on the kind of ear 
ornament which is worn. The Olai Pallis wear a 
circular ornament (olai), and the Nagavadam Pallis wear 
an ornament in shape like a cobra and called nagavadam. 

The Pallis are classed with the left-hand section. 
But the Census Superintendent, 1871, records that " the 
wives of the agricultural labourers (Pallis) side with the 
left hand, while the husbands help in fighting the battles 
of the right ; and the shoe-makers' (Chakkiliyan) wives 
also take the side opposed to their husbands. During 
these factional disturbances, the ladies deny to their 
husbands all the privileges of the connubial state." This 
has not, however, been confirmed in recent investigations 
into the customs of the caste. 

The Pallis are Saivites or Vaishnavites, but are also 
demonolaters, and worship Mutyalamma, Mariamma, 
Ayanar, Muneswara, Ankalamma, and other minor 
deities. Writing nearly a century ago concerning the 
Vana Pallis settled at Kolar in Mysore, Buchanan statesf 
that '* they are much addicted to the worship of the 
saktis, or destructive powers, and endeavour to avert 
their wrath by bloody sacrifices. These are performed 

• Manual of the Salem district. 
t Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. 


by cutting off the animal's head before the door of the 
temple, and invoking the deity to partake of the sacrifice. 
There is no altar, nor is the blood sprinkled on the 
image, and the body serves the votaries for a feast. 
The Pallivanlu have temples dedicated to a female spirit 
of this kind named Mutialamma, and served by pujaris 
(priests) of their own caste. They also offer sacrifices 
to Mariamma, whose pujaris are Kurubaru." 

Huge human figures, representing Mannarswami in 
a sitting posture, constructed of bricks and mortar, and 
painted, are conspicuous objects in the vicinity of the 
Lawrence Asylum Press, Mount Road, and in the 
Kottawal bazar, Madras. At the village of Tirumala- 
vayal near Avadi, there is a similar figure as tall as a 
palmyra palm, with a shrine of Pachaiamman close by. 
Mannarswami is worshipped mainly by Pallis and Beri 
Chettis. An annual festival is held in honour of Pachai- 
amman and Mannarswami, in which the Beri Chettis take 
a prominent part. 

During the festivals of village deities, the goddess is 
frequently represented by a pile of seven pots, called 
karagam, decorated with garlands and flowers. Even 
when there is an idol in the temple, the karagam is set 
up in a corner thereof, and taken daily, morning and 
evening, in procession, carried on the head of a pujari or 
other person. On the last day of the festival, the kara- 
gam is elaborately decorated with parrots, dolls, flowers, 
etc., made of pith {^sckynomene aspera), and called pu 
karagam (flower pot). 

The Pallis live in separate streets or quarters 
distinctively known as the Palli teru or Kudi teru (ryots' 
quarter). The bulk of them are labourers, but many 
now farm their own lands, while others are engaged in 
trade or in Government service. The occupations of 

;■ .is*-^ 

«.v;«f ^ 



those whom I have examined at Madras and Chingleput 
were as follows : — 





Bullock and pony cart driver. 






Sweetmeat vendor. 


Flower vendor. 


Some of the Chingleput Palli men were tattooed, 
like the Irulas, with a dot or vertical stripe on the 
forehead. Some Irulas, it may be noted en passant, call 
themselves Ten (honey) Vanniyans, or Vana (forest) 

Like many other castes, the Pallis have their own 
caste beggars, called Nokkan, who receive presents at 
marriages and on other occasions. The time-honoured 
panchayat system still prevails, and the caste has 
headmen, entitled Perithanakkaran or Nattamaikkaran, 
who decide all social matters affecting the community, 
and must be present at the ceremonial distribution of 

The Kovilars, and some others who aspire to a high 
social status, practice infant marriage, but adult marriage 
is the rule. At the betrothal ceremony, the future 
bridegroom goes to the house of his prospective father- 
in-law, where the headman of the future bride must be 
present. The bridegroom's headman or father places on 
a tray betel, flowers, the bride-price (pariyam) in money 
or jewels, the milk money (mulapal kuli), and a cocoa- 
nut. Milk money is the present given to the mother of 
the bride, in return for her having given nourishment to 
the girl during her infancy. All these things are handed 
by the bridegroom's headman to the father or headman 



of the bride, saying " The money is yours. The girl is 
ours." The bride's father, receiving them, says " The 
money is mine. The girl is yours." This performance 
is repeated thrice, and pan-supari is distributed, the first 
recipient being the maternal uncle. The ceremony is 
in a way binding, and marriage, as a rule, follows close 
on the betrothal. If, in the interval, a girl's intended 
husband dies, she may marry some one else. A girl may 
not marry without the consent of her maternal uncle, 
and, if he disapproves of a match, he has the right to 
carry her off even when the ceremony is in progress, 
and marry her to a man of his selection. It is stated, 
in the Vannikula Vilakkam, that at a marriage among 
the Pallis "the bride, after her betrothal, is asked to 
touch the bow and sword of the bridegroom. The 
latter adorns himself with all regal pomp, and, mounting 
a horse, goes in procession to the bride's house where 
the marriage ceremony is celebrated." 

The marriage ceremony is, in ordinary cases, com- 
pleted in one day, but the tendency is to spread it over 
three days, and introduce the standard Puranic form of 
ritual. On the day preceding the wedding-day, the bride 
is brought in procession to the house of the bridegroom, 
and the marriage pots are brought by a woman of the 
potter caste. On the wedding morning, the marriage 
dais is got ready, and the milk-post, pots, and lights are 
placed thereon. Bride and bridegroom go separately 
through the nalagu ceremony. They are seated on a 
plank, and five women smear them with oil by means of 
a culm of grass ( Cynodon Dactylon), and afterwards with 
Phaseolus Mungo (green gram) paste. Water coloured 
with turmeric and chunam (arathi) is then waved round 
them, to avert the evil eye, and they are conducted to 
the bathing-place. While they are bathing, five small 



cakes are placed on various parts of the body — knees, 
shoulders, head, etc. When the bridegroom is about to 
leave the spot, cooked rice, contained in a sieve, is 
waved before him, and thrown away. The bridal couple 
are next taken three times round the dais, and they offer 
pongal (cooked rice) to the village and house gods and 
the ancestors, in five pots, in which the rice has been 
very carefully prepared, so as to avoid pollution of any 
kind, by a woman who has given birth to a first child. 
They then dress themselves in their wedding finery, and 
get ready for the tying of the tali. Meanwhile, the 
milk-post, made of Odina Wodier, Erythrina indica, or 
the handle of a plough, has been set up. At its side are 
placed a grindstone, a large pot, and two lamps called 
kuda-vilakku (pot light) and alankara-vilakku (ornamental 
light). The former consists of a lighted wick in an 
earthenware tray placed on a pot, and the latter of a 
wooden stand with several branches supporting a number 
of lamps. It is considered an unlucky omen if the pot 
light goes out before the conclusion of the ceremonial. 
It is stated by Mr. H. A. Stuart* that in the North 
Arcot district " in the marriage ceremony of the Van- 
niyans or Pal lis, the first of the posts supporting the 
booth must be cut from the vanni {Prosopis spicigera\ 
a tree which they hold in much reverence because they 
believe that the five Pandava Princes, who were like 
themselves Kshatriyas, during the last year of their 
wanderings, deposited their arms in a tree of this species. 
On the tree the arms turned into snakes, and remained 
untouched till the owners' return. " The Prosopis tree is 
worshipped in order to obtain pardon from sins, success 
over enemies, and the realisation of the devotee's wishes. 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 
VI-2 B 


When the bride and bridegroom come to the wedding 
booth dressed in their new clothes, the Brahman purohit 
gives them the threads (kankanam), which are to be tied 
round their wrists. The tali is passed round to be 
blessed by those assembled, and handed to the bride- 
groom, who ties it on the bride's neck. While he is so 
doing, his sister holds a light called Kamakshi vilakku. 
Kamakshi, the goddess at Conjeeveram, is a synonym for 
Siva's consort Parvathi. The music of the flute is some- 
times accompanied by the blowing of the conch shell 
while the tali is being tied, and omens are taken from 
the sounds produced thereby. The tali-tying ceremony 
concluded, the couple change their seats, and the ends of 
their clothes are tied together. Rice is thrown on their 
heads, and in front of them, and the near relations may 
tie gold or silver plates called pattam. The first to do 
this is the maternal uncle. Bride and bridegroom then 
go round the dais and milk-post, and, at the end of the 
second turn, the bridegroom lifts the bride's left foot, 
and places it on the grindstone. At the end of the 
third turn, the brother-in-law, in like manner, places 
the bridegroom's left foot on the stone, and puts on a 
toe-ring. For so doing, he receives a rupee and betel. 
The contracting couple are then shown the pole-star 
(Arundhati), and milk and fruit are given to them. 
Towards evening, the wrist-threads are removed, and 
they proceed to a tank for a mock ploughing ceremony. 
The bridegroom carries a ploughshare, and the bride a 
small pot containing conji (rice gruel). A small patch of 
ground is turned up, and puddled so as to resemble a 
miniature field, wherein the bridegroom plants some 
grain seedlings. A miniature Pillayar (Ganesa) is made 
with cow-dung, and betel offered to it. The bridegroom 
then sits down, feigning fatigue, and the bride gives him 


a handful of rice, which his brother-in-law tries to 
prevent him from eating. The newly-married couple 
remain for about a week at the bride's house, and are 
then conducted to that of the bridegroom, the brother- 
in-law carrying a hundred or a hundred and ten cakes. 
Before they enter the house, coloured water and a cocoa- 
nut are waved in front of them, and, as soon as she puts 
foot within her new home, the bride must touch pots 
containing rice and salt with her right hand. A curious 
custom among the Pallis at Kumbakonam is that the 
bride's mother, and often all her relatives, are debarred 
from attending her marriage. The bride is also kept 
gosha (in seclusion) for all the days of the wedding.* 

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that some of the 
Pandamuttu Pallis of the Trichinopoly district " practice 
the betrothal of infant girls, the ceremony consisting of 
pouring cow-dung water into the mouth of the baby. 
They allow a girl to marry a boy younger than herself, 
and make the latter swallow a two-anna bit, to neutral- 
ise the disadvantages of such a match. Weddings are 
generally performed at the boy's house, and the bride's 
mother does not attend. The bride is concealed from 
view by a screen." 

It is said that, some years ago, a marriage took place 
at Panruti near Cuddalore on the old Svayamvara prin- 
ciple described in the story of Nala and Damayanti in the 
Mahabharata. According to this custom, a girl selects 
a husband from a large number of competitors, who are 
assembled for the purpose. 

Widow remarriage is permitted. At the marriage of 
a widow, the tali is tied by a married woman, the bride- 
groom standing by the side, usually inside the house. 

* Gazetteer of the Tanjore district. 


Widow marriage is known as naduvittu tali, as the tali- 
tying ceremony takes place within the house (naduvldu). 

To get rid of the pollution of the first menstrual 
period, holy water is sprinkled over the girl by a 
Brahman, after she has bathed. She seats herself on a 
plank, and rice cakes (puttu), a pounding stone, and 
arathi are waved in front of her. Sugar and betel are 
then distributed among those present. 

The dead are sometimes burnt, and sometimes 
buried. As soon as an individual dies, the son goes 
three times round the corpse, carrying an iron measure 
(marakkal), wherein a lamp rests on unhusked rice. 
The corpse is washed, and the widow bathes in such a 
way that the water falls on it. Omission to perform this 
rite would entail disgrace, and there is an abusive phrase 
" May the water from the woman's body not fall on that 
of the corpse." The dead man and his widow exchange 
betel three times. The corpse is carried to the burning 
or burial-ground on a bamboo stretcher, and, on the way 
thither, is set down near a stone representing Ari- 
chandra, to whom food is offered. Arichandra was a 
king who became a slave of the Paraiyans, and is in 
charge of the burial-ground. By some Pallis a two- 
anna piece is placed on the forehead, and a pot of rice 
on the breast of the corpse. These are taken away by 
the officiating barber and Paraiyan respectively.* Men 
who die before they are married have to go through 
a post-mortem mock marriage ceremony. A garland 
of arka {Calotropis gigantea) flowers is placed round 
the neck of the corpse, and mud from a gutter is shaped 
into cakes, which, like the cakes at a real marriage, are 
placed on various parts of the body. 

* Gaxetteer of the Tanjore district. 


A curious death ceremony is said by Mr. Heming- 
way to be observed by the Arasu Pallis in the 
Trichinopoly district. On the day after the funeral, 
two pots of water are placed near the spot where the 
corpse was cremated. If a cow drinks of the water, 
they think it is the soul of the dead come to quench 
its thirst. 

In some places, Palli women live in strict seclusion 
(Gosha). This is particularly the case in the old 
Palaigar families of Ariyalur, Udaiyarpalaiyam, Picha- 
varam, and Sivagiri. 

The caste has a well -organised Sangham (association) 
called Chennai Vannikula Kshatriya Maha Sangham, 
which was established in 1888 by leaders of the caste. 
Besides creating a strong esprit de corps among members 
of the caste in various parts of the Madras Presidency, 
it has been instrumental in the opening of seven schools, 
of which three are in Madras, and the others at 
Conjeeveram, Madhurantakam, Tirukalikundram and 
Kumalam. It has also established chuttrams (rest- 
houses) at five places of pilgrimage. Chengalvaraya 
Nayakar's Technical School, attached to Pachaiappa's 
College in Madras, was founded in 1865 by a member 
of the Palli caste, who bequeathed a large legacy for its 
maintenance. There is also an orphanage named after 
him in Madras, for Palli boys. Govindappa Nayakar's 
School, which forms the lower secondary branch of 
Pachaiappa's College, is another institution which owes 
its existence to the munificence of a member of the Palli 
caste. The latest venture of the Pallis is the publication 
of a newspaper called Agnikuladittan (the sun of the 
Agnikula), which was started in 1908. 

Concerning the Pallis, Pallilu, or Palles, who are 
settled in the Telugu country as fishermen, carpenters, 


and agriculturists, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes * that " It 
seems probable that they are a branch of the great Palli 
or Vanniya tribe, for Buchanan refers to the Mina (fish) 
Pallis and Vana Pallis." As sub-castes of these Pallis, 
Vada (boatmen), Marakkadu and Edakula are given in 
the Census Report, 1901. In the North Arcot Manual, 
Palli is given as a sub-division of the Telugu Kapus. In 
some places the Pallis call themselves Palle Kapulu, and 
give as their gotram Jambumaharishi, which is a gotram 
of the Pallis. Though they do not intermarry, the Palle 
Kapulu may interdine with the Kapus. 

Concerning the caste-beggars of the Pallis, and their 
legendary history, I read the following account, f " I 
came upon a noisy procession entering one of the main 
streets of a town not far from Madras. It was headed 
by spearmen, swordsmen, and banner-bearers, the last 
carrying huge flags (palempores) with representations 
of lions, tigers, monkeys, Brahmany kites, goblins and 
dwarfs. The centre of attraction consisted of some half 
dozen men and women in all the bravery of painted 
faces and gay clothing, and armed with swords, lances, 
and daggers. Tom-toms, trumpets, cymbals, and horns 
furnished the usual concomitant of ear-piercing music, 
while the painted men and women moved, in time with 
it, their hands and feet, which were encircled by rows 
of tiny bells. A motley following of the tag-rag and 
bob-tail of the population, which had been allured 
thither by the noise and clamour, brought up the rear 
of the procession, which stopped at each crossing. At 
each halt, the trumpeters blew a great and sonorous 
blast, while one of the central figures, with a conspicu- 
ous abdominal development, stepped forward, and, in a 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. f Madras Mail, 1906. 


Stentorian voice, proclaimed the brave deeds per- 
formed by them in the days gone by, and challenged 
all comers to try conclusions with them, or own them- 
selves beaten. I was told that the chief personages in 
the show were Jatipillays (literally, children of the caste), 
who had arrived in the town in the course of their 
annual tour of the country, for collecting their perqui- 
sites from all members of the Palli or Padiachi caste, and 
that this was how they announced their arrival. The 
perquisite levied is known as the talaikattu vari (poll- 
tax, or literally the turban tax), a significant expression 
when it is borne in mind that only the adult male 
members of the caste (those who are entitled to tie a 
cloth round their heads) are liable to pay it, and not the 
women and children. It amounts to but one anna per 
head, and is easily collected. The Jatipillays also 
claim occult powers, and undertake to exhibit their skill 
in magic by the exorcism of devils, witchcraft and 
sorcery, and the removal of spells, however potent. 
This operation is called modi edukkirathu, or the break- 
ing of spells, and sometimes the challenge is taken up 
by a rival magician of a different caste. A wager is 
fixed, and won or lost according to the superior skill 
of the challenger or challenged. Entering into friendly 
chat with one of the leading members of the class, I 
gleaned the following legend of its origin, and of the 
homage accorded to it by the Pallis. In remote times, 
when Salivahana was king of the Chola country, with 
its capital at Conjeeveram, all the principal castes of 
South India had their head-quarters at the seat of 
government, where each, after its own way, did homage 
to the triple deities of the place, namely, Kamakshi 
Amman, Ekambrasvarar, and Sri Varadarajaswami. 
Each caste got up an annual car festival to these deities. 


On one of these occasions, owing to a difference which 
had arisen between the Seniyans (weavers), who form 
a considerable portion of the population of Conjeeveram, 
on one side, and the Pallis or Vanniyans on the other, 
some members of the former caste, who were adepts in 
magic, through sheer malevolence worked spells upon 
the cars of the Pallis, whose progress through the streets 
first became slow and tedious, and was finally completely 
arrested, the whole lot of them having come to a stand- 
still, and remaining rooted on the spot in one of the 
much frequented thoroughfares of the city. The Pallis 
put on more men to draw the cars, and even employed 
elephants and horses to haul them, but all to no purpose. 
As if even this was not sufficient to satisfy their malig- 
nity, the unscrupulous Seniyars actually went to King 
Salivahana, and bitterly complained against the Pallis of 
having caused a public nuisance by leaving their cars in 
a common highway to the detriment of the public traffic. 
The king summoned the Pallis, and called them to 
account, but they pleaded that it was through no fault of 
theirs that the cars had stuck in a thoroughfare, that 
they had not been negligent, but had essayed all possible 
methods of hauling them to their destination by adding 
to the number of men employed in pulling them, and by 
having further tried to accelerate their progress with the 
aid of elephants, camels, and horses, but all in vain. 
They further declared their conviction that the Seniyars 
had played them an ill-turn, and placed the cars under a 
spell. King Salivahana, however, turned a deaf ear to 
these representations, and decreed that It was open to 
the Pallis to counteract the spells of their adversaries, 
and he prescribed a period within which this was to be 
effected. He also tacked on a threat that, in default of 
compliance with his mandate, the Pallis must leave his 


kingdom for good and ever. The PalHs sought refuge 
and protection of the goddess Kamakshi Amman, whose 
pity was touched by their sad plight, and who came to 
their aid. She appeared to one of the elders of the 
caste in a dream, and revealed to him that there was 
a staunch devotee of hers — a member of their caste — 
who ilone could remove the spells wrought by the 
Seniyars, and that this man, Ramasawmy Naikan, was 
Prime Minister in the service of the Kodagu (Coorg) 
Raja. The desperate plight they were in induced the 
Pallis to send a powerful deputation to the Raja, and to 
beg of him to lend them the services of Ramasawmy 
Naik, in order to save them from the catastrophe which 
was imminent. The Raja was kind enough to comply. 
The Naik arrived, and, by virtue of his clairvoyant 
powers, took in the situation at a glance. He found 
myriads of imps and uncanny beings around each of the 
car-wheels, who gripped them as by a vice, and pulled 
them back with their sinewy legs and hands every time 
an attempt was made to drag them forwards. Rama- 
sawmy Naik by no means liked the look of things, for he 
found that he had all his work cut out for him to keep 
these little devils from doing him bodily harm, let alone 
any attempt to caste them off by spells. He saw that 
more than common powers were needed to face the 
situation, and prayed to Kamakshi Amman to disclose 
a way of overcoming the enemy. After long fasting 
and prayers, he slept a night in the temple of Kamakshi 
Amman, in the hope that a revelation might come to 
him in his slumber. While he slept, Kamakshi Amman 
appeared, and declared to him that the only way of 
overcoming the foe was for the Pallis to render a pro- 
pitiatory sacrifice, but of a most revolting kind, namely, 
to offer up as a victim a woman pregnant with her first 


child. The Pallis trembled at the enormity of the 
demand, and declared that they would sooner submit 
to Salivahana's decree of perpetual exile than offer such 
a horrible sacrifice. Ramasawmy Naik, however, rose 
to the occasion, and resolved to sacrifice his own girl- 
wife, who was then pregnant with her first child. He 
succeeded in propitiating the deity by offering this 
heroic sacrifice, and the spells of the Seniyars instantly 
collapsed, and the whole legion of imps and devils, 
who had impeded the progress of the Pallis' car, vanished 
into thin air. The coast having thus been cleared of 
hostile influences, Ramasawmy Naik, with no more help 
than his own occult powers gave him, succeeded in 
hauling the whole lot of cars to their destination, and 
in a single trip, by means of a rope passed through 
a hole in his nose. The Pallis, whose gratitude knew 
no bounds, called down benedictions on his head, and, 
falling prostrate before him, begged him to name his 
reward for the priceless service rendered by him to 
their community. Ramasawmy Naik only asked that 
the memory of his services to the caste might be per- 
petuated by the bestowal upon him and his descendants 
of the title Jati-pillay, or children of the caste, and of 
the privilege of receiving alms at the hands of the 
Pallis ; and that they might henceforth be allowed the 
honour of carrying the badges of the caste — banners, 
state umbrellas, trumpets, and other paraphernalia — 
in proof of the signal victory they had gained over the 

Palli Dasari.— A name for Tamil-speaking Dasaris, 
as distinguished from Telugu-speaking Dasaris. 

Palli Idiga. — A name given by Telugu people to 
Tamil Shanans, whose occupation is, like that of Idigas, 

29 pANAN 

Pallicchan.— A sub-division of Nayars, the heredi- 
tary occupation of which is palanquin-bearing. In the 
Cochin Census Report, the Pallicchan s are recorded as 
being palanquin-bearers for Brahmans. 

Pallikkillam. — An exogamous sept or illam of 
Tamil Panikkans. 

Palua.^A sub-division of Badhoyi. 

Pambaikkaran.— An occupational name for 
Paraiyans, who play on a drum called pambai. 

Pambala.— -The Pambalas, or drum (pamba) people, 
are Malas who act as musicians at Mala marriages and 
festivals in honour of their deities. They also take part 
in the recitation of the story of Ankamma, and making 
muggu (designs on the floor) at the peddadinamu death 
ceremony of the Gamallas. 

Pammi (a common lamp). — An exogamous sept of 

Pamula (snake people). — A name for snake-charming 
Koravas, and Jogis, who, in the character of itinerant 
showmen, exhibit snakes to the public. The name also 
occurs as an exogamous sept of Mala and Yanadi. 

Panam (palmyra palm : Borassus fiabellifer.) — A 
sub-division of Shanan. It also occurs as a branch or 
kothu of Kondaiyamkotti Maravans. 

Panan.— The Tamil Panans are said, in the Census 
Report, 1 90 1, to be also called Mestris. They are 
" tailors among Tamils in Madura and Tinnevelly. 
They employ Brahmans and Vellalas as purohits. 
Though barbers and washermen will not eat food 
prepared by them, they are allowed to enter Hindu 
temples." The Malayalam Panans are described in the 
same report as " exorcists and devil-dancers. The men 
also make umbrellas, and the women act as midwives. 
In parts they are called Malayans, and they may be 


descendants of that hill tribe who have settled in the 
plains." In the South Canara Manual, the Panans are 
said to be " the Malayalam caste corresponding to the 
Nalkes and Pombadas. They are numerous in Malabar, 
where they are also known by the name of Malayan. 
The devils whom they personify are supposed to have 
influence over crops, and at the time of harvest the 
Panans go about begging from house to house, dancing 
with umbrellas in their hands. On such occasions, 
however, it is only boys and girls who personify the 
demons." " The village magician or conjurer," Mr. 
Gopal Panikkar writes,* " goes by different names, such 
as Panan, Malayan, etc. His work consists in casting 
out petty devils from the bodies of persons (chiefly 
children) possessed, in writing charms for them to wear, 
removing the pernicious effects of the evil eye, and so 
on." On certain ceremonial occasions, the Panan plays 
on an hour-glass shaped drum, called thudi. 

In an account of the funeral ceremonies of the 
Tiyans, Mr. Logan writes f that " early on the morn- 
ing of the third day after death, the Kurup or caste 
barber adopts measures to entice the spirit of the 
deceased out of the room in which he breathed his last. 
This is done by the nearest relative bringing into the 
room a steaming pot of savoury funeral rice. It is 
immediately removed, and the spirit, after three days' 
fasting, is understood greedily to follow the odour of the 
tempting food. The Kurup at once closes the door, and 
shuts out the spirit. The Kurup belongs to the Panan 
caste. He is the barber of the polluting classes above 
Cherumans, and by profession he is also an umbrella 
maker. But, curiously enough, though an umbrella 

• Malabar and its Folk, 1900. t Manual of Malabar. 


maker, he cannot make the whole of an umbrella. He 
may only make the framework ; the covering of it is the 
portion of the females of his caste. If he has no female 
relative of his own capable of finishing off his umbrellas, 
he must seek the services of the females of other families 
in the neighbourhood to finish his for him. The basket- 
makers are called Kavaras. Nothing will induce them 
to take hold of an umbrella, as they have a motto. Do 
not take hold of Panan's leg." 

In an account of a ceremonial at the Pishari temple 
near Quilandy in Malabar, Mr. F. Fawcett writes * that 
" early on the seventh and last day, when the morning 
procession is over, there comes to the temple a man of 
the Panan caste. He carries a small cadjan (palm 
leaf) umbrella which he has made himself, adorned 
all round the edges with a fringe of the young leaves 
of the cocoanut palm. The umbrella should have a long 
handle, and with this in his hand he performs a dance 
before the temple. He receives about lo lbs. of raw 
rice for his performance." It is further recorded by 
Mr. Fawcett that, when a Tiyan is cremated, a watch is 
kept at the burning-ground for five days by Panans, who 
beat drums all night to scare away the evil spirits which 
haunt such spots. 

The following account of the Panans is given in the 
Gazetteer of Malabar. " The name is perhaps connected 
with pan, music. They follow the makkattayam family 
system (of inheritance from father to son), and practice 
fraternal polyandry. In South Malabar there are said 
to be four sub-divisions, called Tirurengan, Kodaketti 
(umbrella tying), Mlnpidi (fish catching), and Pulluvan, 
of which the last named is inferior in status to the other 

* Madras Mus. Bull., Ill, 3, 1901. 

panan 32 

three. They are also divided into exogamous illams or 
kiriyams. They worship Kali, and inferior deities such 
as Parakutti, Karinkutti, Gulikan, and Kutti Chattan. 
Their methods of exorcism are various. If any one is 
considered to be possessed by demons, it is usual, after 
consulting the astrologer, to ascertain what Murti (lit. 
form) is causing the trouble, to call in Panans, who 
perform a ceremony called Teyattam, in which they wear 
masks, and, so attired, sing, dance, tom-tom, and play 
on rude and strident pipes. Other of their ceremonies 
for driving out devils called Ucchaveli seem to be 
survivals of imitations of human sacrifice, or instances of 
sympathetic magic. 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 (homam) is performed with a fire 
kindled with jack {Artocarpus integrifolid) branches. 
In another variety, the Panan cuts his left forearm, and 
smears his face with the blood thus drawn. Panans 
also take part with Mannans in various ceremonies at 
Badrakali and other temples, in which the performers 
personate, in suitable costumes, some of the minor 
deities or demons, and fowls are sacrificed, while a 
Velicchapad dances himself into a frenzy, and pronounces 
oracles." It is further noted, in the Gazetteer of 
Malabar, that " to constitute a valid divorce, the husband 
pulls a thread from his cloth, and gives it to his wife's 
brother, saying 'Your parisha is over.' It is a tradi- 
tional duty of the Panans to furnish a messenger to 
announce to an Izhuvan (or Tandan) girl's mother or 
husband (according to where she is staying) that she has 
attained puberty." 

In the Census Report, 1901, Anjuttan (men of 
the five hundred) and Munnuttan (men of the three 


hundred) are returned as sub-castes of the JVIalayalan 

For the following account of the Panans of Travan- 
core, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. The 
word is of Tamil origin, and means a tailor. The title 
taken by them is Panikkan, the usual honorific appellation 
of most of the industrial castes of Malabar. They are 
supposed to be one with the Panans of the Tamil country, 
though much below them in the social scale. They 
observe a pollution distance of thirty-six feet, but keep 
Mannans and Vedans at a distance of eight, and Pulayas 
and Paraiyas at a distance of thirty-two feet from them. 
They are their own barbers and washermen. They will 
eat food prepared by Kammalans, of whom there is a 
tradition that they are a degraded branch. Tiruvarangan, 
one of the popular sages of Malabar, who are reputed 
to be the descendants of a Paraiya woman, is said to have 
been a Panan, and the Panans pay him due reverence. 
In the Keralolpatti, the traditional occupation of the 
Panans is said to be exorcism, and in British Malabar 
this occupation seems to be continued at the present 
day. Umbrella-making is a secondary occupation for 
the men. In Travancore, however, the only occupation 
pursued by the Panans is tailoring. The tali-kettu cele- 
bration takes place before the girl attains puberty. If 
this ceremony is intended to signify a real marriage, the 
girl is taken to her husband's house on the fourth day of 
the first menstrual period, and they remain thenceforth 
man and wife. Otherwise a sambandham ceremony has 
to be performed either by the tali-tier or some one else, 
to establish conjugal relations. Inheritance is mostly 
paternal. The dead are buried, and death pollution 
lasts for sixteen days. The spirits of deceased ancestors 
are appeased once a year by the offering of cooked food 

panAn 34 

on the new-moon day in the month of Karkatakam 
(July- August). Ancestors who died from some untoward 
accident are propitiated in the month of Avani (August- 
September) by offerings of flesh and liquor. The latter 
ceremonial is termed vellamkuli or water drinking. 
Small earthen sheds, called gurusalas or kuriyalas and 
matams, are erected in memory of some ancestors. 

The following account of the Panans of the Cochin 
State is extracted from a note by Mr. L, K. Ananta 
Krishna Aiyar.* 

" The Panans give, as the traditional account of their 
origin, a distorted version of the tradition as to the 
origin of the Izhuvans, which is found in the Mackenzie 
Manuscripts. The Panan version of the story is as fol- 
lows. One day a washerman of Cheraman Perumal 
chanced to wash his dress very clean. On being asked 
by the Perumal as to the cause of it, the washerman said 
that it was due to the suggestion of a handsome carpen- 
ter girl, who saw him while washing. The Perumal, 
pleased with the girl, desired her to be married to his 
washerman. The parents of the girl were duly consulted, 
and they could not refuse the offer, as it came from their 
sovereign. But his fellow carpenters resented it, for, if 
the proposal was accepted, and the marriage celebrated, 
it might not only place the members of her family under 
a ban, but would also bring dishonour to the castemen. 
To avert the contemplated union, they resorted to the 
following device. A pandal (marriage booth) was erected 
and tastefully decorated. Just at the auspicious hour, 
when the bridegroom and his party were properly seated 
on mats in the pandal, the carpenters brought a puppet 
exactly resembling the bride, and placed it by his side, 

• Monograph, Eth. Survey of Cochin. 

35 PAN AN 

when suddenly, by a clever artifice, the carpenters caused 
the building to tumble down, and thereby killed all those 
who were in it. They immediately left the Perumal's 
country, and took refuge in the island of Ceylon. The 
ruler was much embarrassed by the disaster to the wash- 
erman, and by the flight of the carpenters, for he had 
none in his country to build houses. A few Panans 
were sent for, and they brought the carpenters back. On 
their return, they were given some fruit of the palmyra 
palm, which they ate. They sowed the seeds in their 
own places, and these grew into large fruit-bearing 
palms. The Panans possessed the privilege of keeping 
these trees as their own, but subsequently made them 
over to the Izhuvans, who, in memory of this, give even 
to-day two dishes of food to the Panans on all ceremonial 
occasions in their houses. They have been, on that 
account, called by the Izhuvans nettaries, for their 
having originally planted these trees. 

" There are no titles among the Panans, but one, who 
was brought for examination at Trichur, told me that 
one of his ancestors got the title of Panikkan, and that 
he had the privilege of wearing a gold ear-ring, carrying 
a walking-stick lined with silver, and using a knife 
provided with a style. Kapradan is a title given to the 
headman in the Palghat taluk. In Palghat, when the 
Kapradan dies, the Raja is informed, and he sends to 
the chief mourner (the son) a sword, a shield, a spear, a 
few small guns with some gunpowder, a silver bangle, 
and a few necklaces. As the dead body is taken to the 
burial ground, the chief mourner, wearing the ornaments 
above mentioned, goes behind it. In front go a few 
persons armed with the weapons referred to. Three dis- 
charges are made (i) when the dead body is removed from 
the house, (2) when it is placed on the ground, (3) when 


it is burnt. The next day, the chief mourner pays his 
respects to the Raja, with an umbrella of his own making, 
when the Raja bestows upon him the title of Kapradan. 
"There are magicians and sorcerers among the 
Panans, who sometimes, at the request even of the 
high-caste men, practice the black art. Some of the 
Panans, like the Parayans, engage in magical rites of 
a repulsive nature, in order to become possessors of a 
powerful medicine, the possession of which is believed 
to confer the power of obtaining anything he wishes. 
They also believe in the existence of a demoniacal 
hierarchy. Changili Karuppan, Pechi, Oodara Karup- 
pan. Kali, Chotala Karuppan, Chotala Bhadrakali, 
Yakshi, Gandharvan, and Hanuman are the names of the 
chief demons whom they profess to control with the aid 
ofmantrams (consecrated formulae) and offerings. They 
also profess that they can send one or more of these 
demons into the bodies of men, and cast them out 
when persons are possessed of them. They profess to 
cure all kinds of diseases in children with the aid 
of magic and medicines, and all the castemen believe 
that harm or even death may be caused to men with 
the aid of sorcerers. In such cases, an astrologer is 
consulted, and, according to his calculations, the aid of 
a magician is sought for. When a person is suffering 
from what are believed to be demoniacal attacks, he is 
relieved by the performance of the following ceremony, ■ 
called pathalahomam. A pit about six feet in length, 
three feet in depth, and a foot or two in breadth, is dug. 
A Panan, covered with a new piece of cloth, is made 
to lie in the pit, which is filled in with earth, leaving 
a small hole for him to breathe. Over the middle of 
his body, the earth is raised and made level. A sacred 
fire (homam) is made over this with the branches of a 

37 PAnAN 

jack tree. Near it a large square is drawn with sixty- 
four small divisions, in each of which a small leaf, with 
some paddy (unhusked rice), rice, flour, and lighted 
torches, is placed. Gingelly (Sesamum) seeds, mustard 
seeds, grains of chama (Pamcum miliaceMm), horse gram 
{Dolichos biflorus), eight fragrant things, the skin of 
snakes, dung of the elephant, milk of the pala tree, 
twigs of the banyan tree, dharba grass, nila narakam 
{Naregamia alata) oil, and ghee (clarified butter) are 
put into it until it burns bright. The sick man is 
brought in front of it, and the sorcerer authoritatively 
asks him — or rather the demon residing in his body — to 
take these things. The sorcerer puts the above 
mentioned substances into the fire, muttering all the 
while his mantrams invoking the favour of Vira Bhadra 
or Kandakaruna. The significance of these is ' Oh ! 
Kandakaruna, the King of the Devas, I have no body, 
that is, my body is getting weaker and weaker, and am 
possessed of some demon, which is killing me, kindly 
help me, and give me strength.' This done, another 
operation is begun. A fowl is buried, and a small 
portion of the earth above it is raised and made 
level. The figure of a man is drawn by the side of it. 
Three homams (sacred fires) are raised, one at the head, 
one in the middle, and one at the feet. The above 
mentioned grains, and other substances, are put into 
the fire. A large square with sixty-four smaller squares 
in it is drawn, in each of which a leaf, with grains of 
paddy, rice, and flowers, is placed. Another mantram 
in praise of the demons already mentioned is uttered, 
and a song is sung. After finishing this, a small 
structure in the form of a temple is made. A small 
plantain tree is placed by the side of it. A padmam 
is drawn, and a puja (worship) is performed for the 


Paradevatha, the queen of demons. The sorcerer makes 
offerings of toddy, beaten rice, plantains, and cocoanuts, 
and soon turns oracle, and, as one inspired, tells what 
the deity wishes, and gives information as regards the 
departure of the demons from the body. It is now 
believed that the patient is free from all demoniacal 
attacks. The buried man is exhumed, and allowed to 
go home. 

" In the Palghat taluk, the following form of 
sorcery is practiced, which is believed to relieve persons 
from demoniacal attacks and disease. If, in the house 
of any casteman, it is suspected that some malign 
influence is being exercised by demons, a Panan is sent 
for, who comes in the evening with his colleagues. A 
homam is lighted with the branches of the trees already 
mentioned, and into it are thrown six kinds of grains, as 
well as oil and ghee. As this is being done, Kallatikode 
Nili, the presiding archdemon, is propitiated with songs 
and offerings. The next part of the ceremony consists 
in bringing a bier and placing a Panan on it, and a 
measure of rice is placed at his head. He is, as in the 
case of a dead body, covered with a piece of new cloth, 
and a small plantain tree is placed between the thighs. 
At his head a sheep and at his feet a fowl are killed. He 
pretends gradually to recover consciousness. In this 
state he is taken outside the compound. The Panan, 
lying on the bier, evidently pretends to be dead, as if 
killed by the attack of some demon. The propitiation 
with songs and offerings is intended to gratify the 
demons. This is an instance of sympathetic magic. 

** Some among the Panans practice the oti (or odi) 
cult, like the Parayas. The following medicines, with 
the aid of magic, are serviceable to them in enticing 
pregnant women from their houses. Their preparation 


is described as follows. A Panan, who is an adept in 
the black art, bathes early in the morning, dresses in a 
cloth unwashed, and performs puja to his deity, after 
which he goes in search of a Kotuveli plant {Manihot 
utilissima). When he finds such a one as he wants, he 
goes round it three times every day, and continues to 
do so for ninety days, prostrating himself every day 
before it. On the last night, which must be a new-moon 
night, at twelve o'clock he performs puja to the plant, 
burning camphor, and, after going round it three 
times, prostrates himself before it. He then places 
three small torches on it, and advances twenty paces in 
front of it. With his mouth closed, and without any 
fear, he plucks the plant by the root, and buries 
it in the ashes on the cremation ground, on which 
he pours the water of seven green cocoanuts. He then 
goes round it twenty-one times, muttering all the while 
certain mantrams, after which he plunges himself in the 
water, and stands erect until it extends to his mouth. 
He takes a mouthful of water, which he empties on the 
spot, and then takes the plant with the root, which he 
believes to possess peculiar virtues. When it is taken to 
the closed door of a house, it has the power to entice a 
pregnant woman, when the foetus is removed {cf. article 
Parayan). It is all secretly done on a dark midnight. 
The head, hands and legs are cut off, and the trunk is 
taken to a dark-coloured rock, on which it is cut into 
nine pieces, which are all burned until they are blackened. 
At this stage, one piece boils, and is placed in a new 
earthen pot, with the addition of the water of nine green 
cocoanuts. The pot is removed to the burial-ground. 
The Panan performs a puja here in favour of his 
favourite deity. Here he fixes two poles deep in the 
earth, at a distance of thirty feet from each other. 


The poles are connected by a strong wire, from 
which is suspended the pot to be heated and boiled. 
Seven fire-places are made beneath the wire. The 
branches of bamboo, katalati [Ackyrantkes Emblica), 
conga {Bauhinea variegata), cocoanut palm, jack tree 
[Artocarpus integrifolia), and pavatta {Pavatta indicd), 
are used in forming a bright fire. The mixture in the 
pot soon boils and becomes oily, at which stage it is 
passed through a fine cloth. The oil is preserved, and a 
mark made with it on the forehead enables the possessor 
to realise anything that is thought of. The sorcerer must 
be in a state of vow for twenty-one days, and live on a 
diet of chama kanji. The deity, whose aid is necessary, 
is propitiated with offerings. 

" One of the ceremonies which the Panans perform 
is called Thukil Onarthuka (waking thukil, a kind of 
drum). In the month of Karkadakam (July-August), 
a Panan, with his wife, provided with a drum and 
kuzhithalam (circular bell-metal cymbals), goes to the 
houses of Brahmans and Nayars after midnight, and 
sings sacred songs. During the week, they sing stand- 
ing underneath a banyan tree near the western gate 
of the Trichur temple. From the temple authorities 
they get five measures of paddy, half a measure of rice, 
some gingelly oil, and a cocoanut. For their services 
in other houses, they receive a similar remuneration. 
This is intended to drive evil spirits, if any, from hoxises. 
Another of their festivals is known as Panan Kali. The 
traditional account therefor is as follows. Once, 
when a Panan and his wife went to a forest to bring 
bamboos for the manufacture of umbrellas, they missed 
their way, night approached, and they could not return. 
They began to be frightened by the varieties of noise 
heard by them in the wilderness. They collected pieces 


of dry bamboo and leaves of trees, and burned them. 
In the presence of the light thus obtained, the woman 
caught hold of a creeper hanging from a tree, and 
danced in honour of Bhagavathi, while her husband 
sang songs praising her. The day dawned at last, and 
they found their way home in safety. In memory of 
this incident, the Panans organise a party for a regular 
play. There are ten male and two female actors, and 
the play is acted during the whole night. 

"The religion of the Panans consists of an all- 
pervading demonology. Their chief gods are Mukkan, 
Chathan, Kappiri, Malankorathi, and Kali. Pujas are 
performed to them on the first of Medom (April-May), 
Karkadakam (July- August), Desara, and on Tuesday in 
Makaram (January- February). These deities are repre- 
sented by stones placed under a tree. They are washed 
with water on the aforesaid days, and offerings of sheep 
and fowls, malar (parched rice), plantains, cocoanuts, 
and boiled rice are made to them. Their belief is that 
these deities are ever prone to do harm to them, and 
should therefore be propitiated with offerings. The 
Panans also worship the spirits of their ancestors, who 
pass for their household gods, and whose help they 
seek in all times of danger. They fast on new-moon 
nights, and on the eleventh night after full-moon or 

" The Panan is the barber of the polluting castes 
above Cherumans. By profession he is an umbrella- 
maker. Panans are also engaged in all kinds of 
agricultural work. In villages, they build mud walls. 
Their women act as midwives. 

" As regards social status, the Panans eat at the 
hands of Brahmans, Nayars, Kammalans, and Izhuvans. 
They have to stand at a distance of thirty-two feet from 


Brahmans. Panans and Kaniyans pollute one another 
if they touch, and both bathe should they happen to do 
so. They are their own barbers and washermen. They 
live in the vicinity of the Izhuvans, but cannot live in 
the Nayar tharas. Nor can they take water from the 
wells of the Kammalans. They cannot approach the 
outer walls of Brahman temples, and are not allowed to 
enter the Brahman streets in Palghat." 

In the Census Report, 1891, Panan occurs as a 
sub-division of the Paraiyans. Their chief occupation 
as leather-workers is said to be the manufacture of 

Panasa.— The Panasas are a class of beggars in the 
Telugu country, who are said to ask alms only from 
Kamsalas. The word panasa means constant repetition 
of words, and, in its application to the Panasa, probably 
indicates that they, like the Bhatrazu bards and pane- 
gyrists, make up verses eulogising those from whom 
they beg. It is stated in the Kurnool Manual (1886) 
that " they take alms from the Beri Komatis and gold- 
smiths (Kamsalas), and no others. The story goes that, 
in Golkonda, a tribe of Komatis named Bacheluvaru 
were imprisoned for non-payment of arrears of revenue. 
Finding certain men of the artificer class who passed by 
in the street spit betel nut, they got it into their mouths, 
and begged the artificers to get them released. The 
artificers, pitying them, paid the arrears, and procured 
their release. It was then that the Kamsalis fixed a 
vartana or annual house-fee for the maintenance of the 
Panasa class, on condition that they should not beg alms 
from the other castes." The Panasas appear every year 
in the Kurnool district to collect their dues. 

A. Chatterton. Monograph on Tanning and Working in Leather, 1904. 


Pancha.— Pancha, meaning five, is recorded as a 
sub-division of the Linga Balijas, and Panchachara or 
Panchamsale as a sub-division of Lingayats. In all 
these, pancha has reference to the five acharas or 
ceremonial observances of the Lingayats, which seem to 
vary according to locality. Wearing the lingam, wor- 
shipping it before meals, and paying reverence to the 
Jangam priests, are included among the observances. 

Panchala.— A synonym for Canarese Kammalans, 
among whom five (panch) classes of workers are included, 
viz., gold and silver, brass and copper, iron, and stone. 

Panchalinga (five lingams). — An exogamous sept 
of Boya. The lingam is the symbol of Siva. 

Panchama.^The Panchamas are, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1871, summed up as being "that great 
division of the people, spoken of by themselves as the 
fifth caste, and described by Buchanan and other writers 
as the Pancham Bandam." According to Buchanan,* 
the Pancham Bandum " consist of four tribes, the 
Parriar, the Baluan, the Shekliar, and the Toti." 
Buchanan further makes mention of Panchama Banijigaru 
and Panchama Cumbharu (potters). The Panchamas 
were, in the Department of Public Instruction, called 
" Paraiyas and kindred classes" till 1893. This classi- 
fication was replaced, for convenience of reference, by 
Panchama, which included Chacchadis, Godaris, 
Pulayas, Holeyas, Madigas, Malas, Pallans, Paraiyans, 
Totis, and Valluvans. *' It is," the Director of Public 
Instruction wrote in 1902, "for Government to consider 
whether the various classes concerned should, for the 
sake of brevity, be described by one simple name. The 
terms Paraiya, low caste, outcaste, carry with them a 

• Journey through Mysore, etc., 1807. 


derogatory meaning, and are unsuitable. The expression 
Pancham Banda, or more briefly Panchama, seems more 
appropriate." The Government ruled that there is no 
objection to the proposal that Paraiyas and kindred 
classes should be designated Panchama Bandham or 
Panchama in future, but it would be simpler to style 
them the fifth class. 

The following educational privileges according to the 
various classes classified as Panchama may be noted : — 
(i) They are admitted into schools at half the 
standard rates of fees. 

(2) Under the result grant system (recently abol- 
ished), grants were passed for Panchama pupils at rates 
50 per cent, higher than in ordinary cases, and 15 per 
cent, higher in backward localities. 

(3) Panchama schools were exempted from the 
attendance restriction, i.e., grants were given to them, 
however small the attendance. Ordinary schools had to 
have an attendance of ten at least to earn grants. 

(4) Panchama students under training as teachers 
get stipends at rates nearly double of those for ordinary 

An interesting account of the system of education at 
the Olcott Panchama Free Schools has been written by 
Mrs. Courtright.* 

Panchama is returned, in the Census Reports, 1891 
and 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Balija and Banajiga. 

Pancharamkatti. — A sub-division of Idaiyan, which 
derives its name from the neck ornament (pancharam) 
worn by the women. 

Pandamuttu. — A sub-division of Palli, The name 
is made by Winslow to mean a number of torches 

* How we teach the Paraiya, 3rd ed,, Madras, 1906. 

45 pandAram 

arranged so as to represent an elephant. The PalHs, 
however, explain it as referring to the pile of pots, which 
reaches to the top of the marriage pandal (pandal, booth, 
mutti, touching). The lowest pot is decorated with 
figures of elephants and horses. 

Pandaram.^Pandaram is described by Mr. H. A. 
Stuart ^ as being " the name rather of an occupation than 
a caste, and used to denote any non-Brahmanical priest. 
The Pandarams seem to receive numerous recruits from 
the Saivite Sudra castes, who choose to make a profes- 
sion of piety, and wander about begging. They are in 
reality very lax in their modes of life, often drinking 
liquor and eating animal food furnished by any respect- 
able Sudra. They often serve in Siva temples, where 
they make garlands of flowers to decorate the lingam, 
and blow brazen trumpets when offerings are made, or 
processions take place. Tirutanni is one of the chief 
places, in which they congregate." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly 
district, that ** the water for the god's bath at Ratnagiri 
is brought by a caste of non-Brahmans known as Tiru- 
manjana Pandarams, who fetch it every day from the 
Cauvery. They say that they are descended from an 
Aryan king, who came to the god with the hope of getting 
rubies from him. The god, in the guise of a Brahman, 
tested his devotion by making him fill a magic vessel with 
Cauvery water. The vessel would not fill, and the Aryan 
stranger in a fit of anger cut off the Brahman's head. The 
dead body at once turned into a lingam, and the Aryan 
was ordered to carry water for the temple till eternity." 

Pandaram is used both as the name of a caste, and of 
a class composed of recruits from various castes {e.g.. 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. 


Vellala and Palli). The Pandaram caste is composed of 
respectable people who have settled down as land-holders, 
and of Sanyasis and priests of certain matams (religious 
institutions), and managers of richly endowed temples, 
such as those at Tiruvadudurai in Tanjore and Mailam 
in South Arcot. The common name for these managers 
is Tambiran. The caste Pandarams are staunch Saivites 
and strict vegetarians. Those who lead a celibate life 
wear the lingam. They are said to have been originally 
Sozhia Vellalas, with whom intermarriage still takes 
place. They are initiated into the Saivite religion by 
a rite called Dhikshai, which is divided into five stages, 
viz., Samaya, Nirvana, Visesha, Kalasothanai, and 
Acharya Abhishekam. Some are temple servants, and 
supply flowers for the god, while others sing devaram 
(hymns to the god) during the temple service. On this 
account, they are known as Meikaval (body-guard of the 
god), and Oduvar (reader). The caste Pandarams have 
two divisions, called Abhisheka and Desikar, and the 
latter name is often taken as a title, e.g., Kandasami 
Desikar. An Abhisheka Pandaram is one who is made 
to pass through some ceremonies connected with Saiva 

The mendicant Pandarams, who are recruited from 
various classes, wear the lingam, and do not abstain from 
eating flesh. Many villages have a Pandaram as the 
priest of the shrine of the village deity, who is frequently 
a Palli who has become a Pandaram by donning the 
lingam. The females are said to live, in some cases, by 

The Lingayat Pandarams differ in many respects 
from the true Lingayats. The latter respect their 
Jangam, and use the sacred water, in which the feet of 
the Jangam are washed, for washing their stone lingam. 


To the Pandarams, and Tamil Lingayats in general, this 
proceeding would amount to sacrilege of the worst type. 
Canarese and Telugu Lingayats regard a Jangam as 
superior to the stone lingam. In the matter of pollution 
ceremonies the Tamil Lingayats are very particular, 
whereas the orthodox Lingayats observe no pollution. 
The investiture with the lingam does not take place 
so early among the Tamil as among the Canarese 

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. " Dr. H. H. Wilson * is of opinion 
that the word Pandaram is ' more properly Panduranga, 
pale complexioned, from their smearing themselves with 
ashes. It is so used in Hemachandra's history of Maha- 
vira, when speaking of the Saiva Brahmans.' A more 
popular derivation of the name is from Bandaram, a 
public treasury. A good many well-to-do Pandarams 
are managers of Siva temples in Southern India, and 
accordingly have the temple treasuries under their care. 
It is, however, possible that the name has been acquired 
by the caste by reason of their keeping a yellow 
powder, called pandaram, in a little box, and giving it in 
return for the alms which they receive. 

Opinions are divided as to whether the Pandarams 
are Lingayats or not. The opinion held by F. W. Ellis, 
the well-known Tamil scholar and translator of the Kural 
of Tiruvalluvar, is thus summarised by Colonel Wilks.f 
"Mr. Ellis considers the Jangam of the upper countries, 
and the Pandaram of the lower, to be of the same sect, 
and both deny in the most unequivocal terms the doctrine 
of the metempsychosis. A manuscript in the Mackenzie 
collection ascribes the origin of the Pandarams as a 

* Works, I, 225, foot-note. t History of Mysore. 


sacerdotal order of the servile caste to the religious 
disputes, which terminated in the suppression of the 
Jain religion in the Pandian (Madura) kingdom, and 
the influence which they attained by the aid which they 
rendered to the Brahmans in that controversy, but this 
origin seems to require confirmation. In a large 
portion, perhaps in the whole of the Brahmanical 
temples dedicated to Siva in the provinces of Arcot, 
Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madura and Tinnevelly, the Pan- 
daram is the highest of the temple, and has the entire 
direction of the revenues, but allows the Brahmans to 
officiate in the ceremonial part according to their own 
good pleasure, as a concern altogether below his note. 
He has generally the reputation of an irreproachable 
life, and is treated by the Brahmans of the temple 
with great reverence, while on his part he looks with 
compassion at the absurd trifles which occupy their 
attention. These facts seem to point to some former 
revolution, in which a Jangam government obtained a 
superiority over the Brahmanical establishments, and 
adopted this mode of superseding the substantial part of 
their authority. It is a curious instance of the Sooder 
(Sudra) being the spiritual lord of the Brahman, and is 
worthy of further historical investigation." Dr. Wilson * 
also thinks that the Pandarams are Lingayats. Mr. 
H. A. Stuart t says that they are a class of priests who 
serve the non- Brahman castes. They have returned 
115 sub-divisions, of which only two are sufficiently 
large to require mention, Andi of Tinnevelly and 
Malabar, and Lingadari of Chingleput and Tinnevelly. 
Andi is a quasi-caste of beggars recruited from all castes, 
and the Lingadari Pandarams are the same as Jangams. 

op. cit. t Madras Census Report, 1891. 

49 pandAram 

Pandaram is, in fact, a class name rather than the name 
of a caste, and it consists of priests and beggars. 
Mr. C. P. Brown* thinks that the Pandarams are not 
Lingayats. * The Saiva worshippers among the Tamils 
are called Pandarams : these are not Vira Saivas, nor do 
they wear the linga or adore Basava. I name them 
here chiefly because they are often mentioned as being 
Vira Saivas, whereas in truth they are (like the Smartas) 
Purva Saivas, and worship the image of Siva in their 
houses.' It must be remarked that Mr. Brown appears 
to have had a confused idea of Pandarams. Pandarams 
wear the linga on their bodies in one of the usual modes, 
are priests to others professing the Lingayat religion, 
and are fed by them on funeral and other ceremonial 
occasions. At the same time, it must be added that 
they are — more especially the begging sections — very 
lax as regards their food and drink. This characteristic 
distinguishes them from the more orthodox Lingayats. 
Moreover, Lingayats remarry their widows, whereas the 
Pandarams, as a caste, will not. 

*' Pandarams speak Tamil. They are of two classes, 
the married and celibate. The former are far more 
numerous than the latter, and dress in the usual Hindu 
manner. They have the hind-lock of hair known as 
the kudumi, put on sacred ashes, and paint the point 
between the eyebrows with a sandal paste dot. The 
celibates wear orange-tawny cloths, and daub sacred 
ashes all over their bodies. They allow the hair of the 
head to become matted. They wear sandals with iron 
spikes, and carry in their hands an iron trisulam (the 
emblem of Siva), and a wooden baton called dandayudha 
(another emblem of Siva). When they go about the 

* Madras Journ. Lit, and Science, XI, 1840. 

pandAram 50 

streets, they sing popular Tamil hymns, and beat against 
their begging bowl an iron chain tied by a hole to one 
of its sides. Married men also beg, but only use a 
bell-metal gong and a wooden mallet. Most of these 
help pilgrims going to the more famous Siva temples in 
the Madras Presidency, e.g.^ Tirutani, Palni, Tiruvanna- 
malai, or Tirupparankunram. Among both sections, the 
dead are buried in the sitting posture, as among other 
Lingayats. A samadhi is erected over the spot where 
they are buried. This consists of a linga and bull in 
miniature, which are worshipped as often as may be 
found convenient. 

*' The managers of temples and mutts (religious 
institutions), known as Pandara Sannadhis, belong to the 
celibate class. They are usually learned in the Agamas 
and Puranas. A good many of them are Tamil scholars, 
and well versed in Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. They 
call themselves Tambirans — a title which is often usurped 
by the uneducated beggars." 

In the Census Report, 1901, Vairavi is returned as a 
sub-caste of Pandaram, and said to be found only in the 
Tinnevelly district, where they are measurers of grains 
and pujaris in village temples. Vairavi is further used 
as a name for members of the Melakkaran caste, who 
officiate as servants at the temples of the Nattukottai 

Pandaram is a title of the Panisavans and Valluvan 
priests of the Paraiyans. 

A class of people called hill Pandarams are described* 
by the Rev. S. Mateer as ** miserable beings without 
clothing, implements, or huts of any kind, living in holes, 
rocks, or trees. They bring wax, ivory (tusks), and other 

• Native Life in Travancore. 

51 pandAram 

produce to the Arayans, and get salt from them. They 
dig roots, snare the ibex (wild goat, Hemitragus hylo- 
crius) of the hills, and jungle fowls, eat rats and snakes, 
and even crocodiles found in the pools among the hill 
streams. They were perfectly naked and filthy, and very 
timid. They spoke Malayalam in a curious tone, and 
said that twenty-two of their party had been devoured 
by tigers within two monsoons." Concerning these hill 
Pandarams, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes that they 
live on the banks of streams in crevices of rocks, caves, 
and hollows of trees. They are known to the dwellers 
on the plains as Kattumanushyar, or forest men. They 
clad themselves in the bark of trees, and, in the rainy and 
cold seasons, protect their bodies with plantain leaves. 
They speak a corrupt form of Tamil. They fear the 
sight of other men, and try to avoid approaching them. 
A former European magistrate of the Cardamom Hills 
took some of them to his residence, but, during their three 
days' stay there, they refused to eat or talk. There is 
a chieftain for every four hills, but h;s authority is little 
more than nominal. When women are married, the earth 
and hills are invoked as witnesses. They have Hindu 
names, such as Raman, Kittan (Krishna), and Govindan. 
In a lecture delivered some years ago at Trivandrum, 
Mr. O. H. Bensley described the hill Pandarams as being 
•' skilful in catching fish, their mode of cooking which is 
to place the fish on roots on a rock, and cover them with 
fire. They keep dogs, and, by their aid, replenish their 
larder with rats, mungooses, iguanas (lizard, Varanus), 
and other delicacies. I was told that the authority recog- 
nised by these people is the head Arayan, to whom 
they give a yearly offering of jungle produce, receiving 
in exchange the scanty clothing required by them. We 
had an opportunity of examining their stock-in-trade, 

VI-4 B 

pandAriyar 52 

which consisted of a bill-hook similar to those used by 
other hillmen, a few earthen cooking-pots, and a good 
stock of white flour, which was, they said, obtained from 
the bark of a tree, the name of which sounded like ahlum. 
They were all small in stature, with the exception of one 
young woman, and, both in appearance and intelligence, 
compared favourably with the Uralis." 

Pandariyar.— Pandariyar or Pandarattar, denoting 
custodians of the treasury, has been returned as a title of 
Nattaman, Malaiman, and Sudarman. 

Pandava-kulam.— A title, indicative " of the caste 
of the Pandava kings," assumed by Jatapus and Konda 
Doras, who worship the Pandavas. The Pandava kings 
were the heroes of the Mahabharata, who fought a great 
battle with the Kauravas, and are said to have belonged 
to the lunar race of Kshatriyas. The Pandavas had a 
single wife named Draupadi, whom the Pallis or Vanni- 
yans worship, and celebrate annually in her honour a 
fire-walking festival. The Pallis claim to belong to the 
fire race of Kshatriyas, and style themselves Agnikula 
Kshatriyas, or Vannikula Kshatriyas. 

Pandi (pig). — Recorded as an exogamous sept of 
Asili, Boya, and Gamalla. Pandipattu (pig catchers) 
and Pandikottu (pig killers) occur as exogamous septs 
of Odde. 

Pandito.^Pandit or Pundit (pandita, a learned 
man) has been defined* as "properly a man learned in 
Sanskrit lore. The Pundit of the Supreme Court was a 
Hindu law-officer, whose duty it was to advise the 
English Judges when needful on questions of Hindu law. 
The office became extinct on the constitution of the 
High Court (in 1862). In the Mahratta and Telugu 

*^Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 

53 pAndya 

countries, the word Pandit is usually pronounced Pant 
(in English colloquial Punt)." In the countries noted, 
Pant occurs widely as a title of Brahmans, who are also 
referred to as Pantulu varu. The titles Sanskrit Pundit, 
Telugu Pundit, etc., are still officially recognised at 
several colleges in the Madras Presidency. Pandit some- 
times occurs as an honorific prefix, e.g., Pandit S. M. 
Natesa Sastri, and Panditan is a name given to Tamil 
barbers (Ambattan). In some parts of the Tamil country, 
Panditar is used as a name for Madhva Brahmans, 
because, it is said, many of them were formerly engaged 
as pandits at the Law Courts. 

Pandito is further the name of "an Oriya caste of 
astrologers and physicians. They wear the sacred thread, 
and accept drinking water only from Brahmans and 
Gaudos. Infant marriage is practiced, and widow mar- 
riage is prohibited."^ I am informed that these Panditos 
engage Brahmans for their ceremonials, do not drink 
liquor, and eat fish and mutton, but not fowls or beef. 
The females wear glass bangles. They are known by 
the name of Khodikaro, from khodi, a kind of stone, with 
which they write figures on the floor, when making astro- 
logical calculations. The stone is said to be something 
like soapstone. 

Pandita occurs as an exogamous sept of Stanikas. 

Pandya.— The territorial name Pandya, Pandiya, 
Pandiyan, or Pandi has been returned, at recent times 
of census, as a sub-division of various Tamil classes, e.g.^ 
Ambattan, Kammalan, Occhan, Pallan, Vannan, and 
Vellala. Pandiya is further a title of some Shanans. In 
Tra vane ore, Pandi has been returned by some Izhavans. 
The variant Pandiangal occurs as an exogamous sept of 

• Madras Census Report, 1901. 


the Tamil Vallambans, and Pandu as a Tamil synonym 
for Kapu or Reddi. 

Panikkar.— Panikkar, meaning teacher or worker, 
has been recorded, in the Malayalam country, as a title 
of barbers, Kammalan, Maran, Nayar, Panan, and 
Paraiyan. In former times, the name was applied, in 
Malabar, to fencing-masters, as the following quotations 
show : — 

15 18. " And there are very skilful men who teach 
this art (fencing), and they are called Panicars." — Barbosa. 

1553. '* And when the Naire comes to the age of 
7 years, he is obliged to go to the fencing-school, the 
master of which (whom they call Panical) they regard as 
a father, on account of the instruction he gives them." — 

1583. " The maisters which teach them be gradu- 
ates in the weapons which they teach, and they be called 
in their language Panycaes." — Castaneda. 

A class of people called Panikkan are settled in the 
Madura and Tinnevelly districts. Some of them are 
barbers to Shanans. Others have taken to weaving as 
a profession, and will not intermarry with those who are 
employed as barbers. "The Panikkans are," Mr. Fran- 
cis writes,* "weavers, agriculturists, and traders. They 
employ Brahmans as priests, but these are apparently 
not received on terms of equality by other Brahmans. 
The Panikkans now frequently call themselves Illam 
Vellalas, and change their title in deeds and official 
papers from Panikkan to Pillai. They are also taking 
to wearing the sacred thread and giving up eating meat. 
The caste is divided into three vagais or endogamous 
classes, namely, Mital, Pattanam, and Malayalam, and 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


each of these again has five partly exogamous septs or 
illams (families), namely, Muttillam, Toranattillam, 
Pallikkillam, Manjanattillam, and Soliya-illam. It is 
stated that the Mital and Pattanam sections will eat 
together though they do not intermarry, but that the 
Malayalam section can neither dine with nor marry into 
the other two. They are reported to have an elaborate 
system of caste government, under which eleven villages 
form a gadistalam (or stage), and send representatives to 
its council to settle caste matters ; and eleven gadista- 
lams form a nadu (or country), and send representatives 
to a chief council, which decides questions which are 
beyond the competence of the gadistalams." The 
occurrence of Malayam as the name of a sub-division, 
and of the Malayalam word illam as that of the exoga- 
mous septs, would seem to indicate that the Panikkans 
are immigrants from the westward into the Tamil 

Panimagan (work children). — A name for Muk- 
kuvans who are employed as barbers for members of 
their caste. 

Panisavan.— Panisavan is defined in the Salem 
Manual as " a corruption of paniseygiravan (panisaivon), 
literally meaning one who works (or does service), and 
is the caste name of the class, whose business it is to 
carry news of death to the relations of the deceased, 
and to blow the tharai or long trumpet." According to 
Mr. H. A. Stuart,* Panisavan appears to answer among 
the Tamilians to the Dasaris or Tadas of the Telugus. 
It is a mendicant caste, worshipping Siva. Unlike the 
Tadas, however, they often employ themselves in culti- 
vation, and are, on the whole, a more temperate and 

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


respectable class. Their priests are Brahmans, and they 
eat flesh, and drink alcoholic liquor very freely. The 
dead are generally burned. 

There are two classes of Panisavans, of which one 
works for the right-hand section, and the other for the 
left. This division is purely professional, and there is 
apparently no bar to intermarriage between the two 
classes. The insignia of a Panisavan are the conch- 
shell {Turbinella rapd) and tharai, which he supports 
from the ground by means of a bamboo pole while he 
blows it. At marriage processions, it is his duty to go 
in front, sounding the tharai from time to time. On 
such occasions, and at festivals of the village goddesses, 
the tharai is decorated with a string bearing a number 
of small triangular pieces of cloth, and tufts of yak's 
hair. The cloth should be white for the right-hand 
section, and of five different colours for the left. At the 
present day, the Panisavan is more in request for 
funerals than for weddings. In the city of Madras, all 
the materials necessary for the bier are sold by Pani- 
savans, who also keep palanquins for the conveyance 
of the corpse in stock, which are let out on hire. 
At funerals, the Panisavan has to follow the corpse, 
blowing his conch-shell. The tharai is only used if 
the deceased was an important personage. When the 
son goes round the corpse with a pot of water, the 
Panisavan accompanies him, and blows the conch. On 
the last day of the death ceremonies (karmandhiram), 
the Panisavan should be present, and blow his conch, 
especially when the tali (marriage badge) is removed 
from a widow's neck. In some places, the Panisavan 
conveys the news of death, while in others this duty is 
carried out by a barber. In the Chingleput and North 
Arcot districts, the Panisavans constitute a separate 



caste, and have no connection with the Nokkans, who 
are beggars attached to the PalH or Vanniyan caste. In 
South Arcot and Tanjore, on the other hand, the name 
Nokkan is used to signify the caste, which performs the 
duties of the Panisavan, for which it seems to be a 
synonym. The Panisavans of the Tinnevelly district 
have nothing in common with those of the northern 
districts, e.g., Chingleput and North Arcot, whose 
duty it is to attend to the funeral ceremonies of the 
non- Brahman castes. The main occupations of the 
Tinnevelly Panisavans are playing in temples on the 
nagasaram (reed instrument), and teaching Deva-dasis 
dancing. Another occupation, which is peculiar to the 
Tinnevelly Panisavans, is achu velai, i.e., the prepa- 
ration of the comb to which the warp threads of a 
weaving loom are tied. Socially the Panisavans occupy 
a lowly position, but they use the title Pulavar. Their 
other titles are Pandaram, Pillai, and Mudali. 

Paniyan.-— The Paniyans are a dark-skinned tribe, 
short in stature, with broad noses, and curly or wavy 
hair, inhabiting the Wynad, and those portions of the 
Ernad, Calicut, Kurumbranad and Kottayam taluks of 
Malabar, which skirt the base of the ghats, and the 
Mudanad, Cherangod, and Namblakod amshams of the 
Nilgiri district. 

A common belief, based on their general appearance, 
prevails among the European planting community that 
the Paniyans are of African origin, and descended from 
ancestors who were wrecked on the Malabar coast. 
This theory, however, breaks down on investigation. 
Of their origin nothing definite is known. The Nayar 
Janmis (landlords) say that, when surprised in the act of 
some mischief or alarmed, the Paniyan calls out * Ippi ' ! 
* Ippi ' ! as he runs away, and they believe this to have 


been the name of the country whence they came origi- 
nally ; but they are ignorant as to where Ippimala, as 
they call it, is situated. Kapiri (Africa or the Cape ?) is 
also sometimes suggested as their original habitat, but 
only by those who have had the remarks of Europeans 
communicated to them. The Paniyan himself, though 
he occasionally puts forward one or other of the above 
places as the home of his forefathers, has no fixed 
tradition bearing on their arrival in Malabar, beyond one 
to the effect that they were brought from a far country, 
where they were found living by a Raja, who captured 
them, and carried them off in such a miserable condition 
that a man and his wife only possessed one cloth between 
them, and were so timid that it was only by means of 
hunting nets that they were captured. 

The number of Paniyans, returned at the census, 1891, 
was 33,282, and nine sub-divisions were registered ; but, as 
Mr. H. A. Stuart, the Census Commissioner, observes : — 
"Most of these are not real, and none has been 
returned by any considerable number of persons." Their 
position is said to be very little removed from that of a. 
slave, for every Paniyan is some landlord's * man ' ; and, 
though he is, of course, free to leave his master, he is 
at once traced, and good care is taken that he does not 
get employment elsewhere. 

In the fifties of the last century, when planters first 
began to settle in the Wynad, they purchased the land 
with the Paniyans living on it, who were practically slaves 
of the land-owners. The Paniyans used formerly to be 
employed by rich receivers as professional coffee thieves, 
going out by night to strip the bushes of their berries, 
which were delivered to the receiver before morning. 
Unlike the Badagas of the Nilgiris, who are also coffee 
thieves, and are afraid to be out after dark, the Paniyans 


are not afraid of bogies by night, and would not hesitate 
to commit nocturnal depredations. My friend, Mr. G. 
Romilly, on whose estate my investigation of the 
Paniyans was mainly carried out, assures me that, 
according to his experience, the domesticated Paniyan, 
if well paid, is honest, and fit to be entrusted with the 
responsible duties of night watchman. 

In some localities, where the Janmis have sold the 
bulk of their land, and have consequently ceased to find 
regular employment for them, the Paniyans have taken 
kindly to working on coffee estates, but comparatively few 
are thus employed. The word Paniyan means labourer, 
and they believe that their original occupation was 
agriculture as it is, for the most part, at the present day. 
Those, however, who earn their livelihood on estates, 
only cultivate rice and ragi {Eleusine coracana) for 
their own cultivation ; and women and children may be 
seen digging up jungle roots, or gathering pot-herbs for 
food. They will not eat the fiesh of jackals, snakes, 
vultures, lizards, rats, or other vermin. But I am told 
that they eat land- crabs, in lieu of expensive lotions, to 
prevent baldness and grey hairs. They have a distinct 
partiality for alcohol, and those who came to be measured 
by me were made more than happy by a present of 
a two-anna piece, a cheroot, and a liberal allowance 
of undiluted fiery brandy from the Meppadi bazar. 
The women are naturally of a shy disposition, and 
used formerly to run away and hide at the sight of a 
European. They were at first afraid to come and see 
me, but confidence was subsequently established, and 
all the women came to visit me, some to go through 
the ordeal of measurement, others to laugh at and make 
derisive comments on those who were undergoing the 


Practically the whole of the rice cultivation in the 
Wynad is carried out by the Paniyans attached to edoms 
(houses or places) or devasoms (temple property) of the 
great Nayar landlords ; and Chettis and Mappillas also 
frequently have a few Paniyans, whom they have bought 
or hired by the year at from four to eight rupees per 
family from a Janmi. When planting paddy or herding 
cattle, the Paniyan is seldom seen without the kontai 
or basket-work protection from the rain. This curious, 
but most effective substitute for the umbrella-hat of the 
Malabar coast, is made of split reeds interwoven with 
* arrow-root ' leaves, and shaped something like a huge 
inverted coal-scoop turned on end, and gives to the 
individual wearing it the appearance of a gigantic mush- 
room. From the nature of his daily occupation the 
Paniyan is often brought in contact with wild animals, and 
is generally a bold, and, if excited, as he usually is on an 
occasion such as the netting of a tiger, a reckless fellow. 
The young men of the villages vie with each other in 
the zeal which they display in carrying out the really 
dangerous work of cutting back the jungle to within a 
couple of spear-lengths of the place where the quarry lies 
hidden, and often make a show of their indifference by 
turning and conversing with their friends outside the net. 

Years ago it was not unusual for people to come long 
distance for the purpose of engaging Wynad Paniyans 
to help them in carrying out some more than usually 
desperate robbery or murder. Their mode of procedure, 
when engaged in an enterprise of this sort, is evidenced 
by two cases, which had in them a strong element of 
savagery. On both these occasions the thatched home- 
steads were surrounded at dead of night by gangs of 
Paniyans carrying large bundles of rice straw. After 
carefully piling up the straw on all sides of the building 


marked for destruction, torches were, at a given signal, 
applied, and those of the wretched inmates who attempted 
to escape were knocked on the head with clubs, and 
thrust into the fiery furnace. 

The Paniyans settle down happily on estates, living 
in a settlement consisting of rows of huts and detached 
huts, single or double storied, built of bamboo and 
thatched. During the hot weather, in the unhealthy 
months which precede the advent of the south-west 
monsoojn, they shift their quarters to live near streams, 
or in other cool, shady spots, returning to their head 
quarters when the rains set in. 

They catch fish either by means of big flat bamboo 
mats, or, in a less orthodox manner, by damming a stream 
and poisoning the water with herbs, bark, and fruit, 
which are beaten to a pulp and thrown into the water. 
The fish, becoming stupified, float on the surface, and 
fall an easy and unfairly earned prey. 

It is recorded by Mr. H. C. Wilson * that the section 
of the Moyar river " stretching from the bottom of the 
Pykara falls down to the sheer drop into the Mysore 
ditch below Teppakadu is occupied principally by Car- 
natic carp. In the upper reaches I found traces of small 
traps placed across side runners or ditches, which were 
then dry. They had evidently been in use during the 
last floods, and allowed to remain. Constructed of 
wood in the shape of a large rake head with long teeth 
close together, they are fastened securely across the ditch 
or runner at a slight angle with teeth in the gravel. 
The object is to catch the small fry which frequent these 
side places for protection during flood times. Judging 
by their primitive nature and poor construction, they are 

• Report on the Methods of Capture and Supply of Fish in the Rivers of the 
Nilgiri district, 1907. 


not effective, but will do a certain amount of damage. 
The nearest hamlet to this place is called Torappalli, 
occupied by a few fisher people called Paniyans. These 
are no doubt the makers of the traps, and, from infor- 
mation I received, they are said to possess better fry 
and other traps. They are also accredited with having 
fine-mesh nets, which they use when the waters are low." 

In 1907, rules were issued, under the Indian 
Fisheries Act, IV of 1897, for the protection of fish in 
the Bhavani and Moyar rivers. These rules referred to 
the erection and use of fixed engines, the construction of 
weirs, and the use of nets, the meshes of which are less 
than one and a half inches square for the capture or 
destruction of fish, and the prohibition of fishing between 
the 15th March and 15th September annually. Notice 
of the rules was given by beat of tom-tom (drum) in the 
villages lying on the banks of the rivers, to which the 
rules applied. 

The Paniyan language is a debased Malayalam patois 
spoken in a curious nasal sing-song, difficult to imitate ; 
but most of the Paniyans employed on estates can also 
converse in Kanarese. 

Wholly uneducated and associating with no other 
tribes, the Paniyans have only very crude ideas of 
religion. Believing in devils of all sorts and sizes, and 
professing to worship the Hindu divinities, they rever- 
ence especially the god of the jungles, Kad Bhagavadi, 
or, according to another version, a deity called Kuli, 
a malignant and terrible being of neither sex, whose 
shrines take the form of a stone placed under a tree, or 
sometimes a cairn of stones. At their rude shrines they 
contribute as offerings to the swami (god) rice boiled 
in the husk, roasted and pounded, half-a-cocoanut, and 
small coins. The banyan and a lofty tree, apparently of 


the fig tribe, are reverenced by them, inasmuch as evil 
spirits are reputed to haunt them at times. Trees so 
haunted must not be touched, and, if the Paniyans 
attempt to cut them, they fall sick. 

Some Paniyans are believed to be gifted with the 
power of changing themselves into animals ; and there is 
a belief among the Paniyan dwellers in the plains that, 
if they wish to secure a woman whom they lust after, 
one of the men gifted with this special power goes to 
her house at night with a hollow bamboo, and encircles 
the house three times. The woman then comes out, and 
the man, changing himself into a bull or dog, works his 
wicked will. The woman, it is believed, dies in the 
course of two or three days. 

In 1904 some Paniyans were employed by a Map- 
pilla (Muhammadan) to murder his mistress, who was 
pregnant, and threatened that she would noise abroad 
his responsibility for her condition. He brooded over 
the matter, and one day, meeting a Paniyan, promised 
him ten rupees if he would kill the woman. The 
Paniyan agreed to commit the crime, and went with his 
brothers to a place on a hill, where the Mappilla and the 
woman were in the habit of gratifying their passions. 
Thither the man and woman followed the Paniyans, of 
whom one ran out, and struck his victim on the head 
with a chopper. She was then gagged with a cloth, 
carried some distance, and killed. The two Paniyans and 
the Mappilla were sentenced to be hanged. 

Monogamy appears to be the general rule among 
the Paniyans, but there is no obstacle to a man taking 
unto himself as many wives as he can afford to support. 

Apparently the bride is selected for a young man 
by his parents, and, in the same way that a wealthy 
European sometimes sends his betrothed a daily present 


of a bouquet, the more humble Paniyan bridegroom- 
elect has to take a bundle of firewood to the house of 
the fiancee every day for six months. The marriage 
ceremony (and the marriage knot does not appear to be 
very binding) is of a very simple nature. The ceremony 
is conducted by a Paniyan Chemmi (a corruption of 
Janmi). A present of sixteen fanams (coins) and some 
new cloths is given by the bridegroom to the Chemmi, 
who hands them over to the parents of the bride. A 
feast is prepared, at which the Paniyan women (Panichis) 
dance to the music of drum and pipe. The tali (or 
marriage badge) is tied round the neck of the bride by 
the female relations of the bridegroom, who also invest 
the bride with such crude jewelry as they may be able 
to afford. The Chemmi seals the contract by pouring 
water over the head and feet of the young couple. It is 
said * that a husband has to make an annual present to 
his wife's parents ; and failure to do so entitles them to 
demand their daughter back. A man may, I was told, 
not have two sisters as wives ; nor may he marry his 
deceased wife's sister. Remarriage of widows is per- 
mitted. Adultery and other forms of vice are adjudicated 
on by a panchayat (or council) of headmen, who settle 
disputes and decide on the fine or punishment to be 
inflicted on the guilty. At nearly every considerable 
Paniyan village there is a headman called Kuttan, who has 
been appointed by Nayar Janmi to look after his interests, 
and be responsible to him for the other inhabitants of 
the village. The investiture of the Kuttan with the 
powers of office is celebrated with a feast and dance, at 
which a bangle is presented to the Kuttan as a badge of 
authority. Next in rank to the Kuttan is the Mudali 

• Gazetteer of the Malabar district. 


or head of the family, and they usually constitute the 
panchayat. Both Kuttan and Mudali are called Muppan- 
mar or elders. The whole caste is sometimes loosely 
spoken of as Muppan. In a case of proved adultery, a 
fine of sixteen fanams (the amount of the marriage fee), 
and a sum equal to the expenses of the wedding, includ- 
ing the present to the parents of the bride, is the usual 
form of punishment. 

The Chemmi or Shemmi is, I am informed, a sort of 
priest or minister. He was appointed, in olden days, by 
the chieftains under whom the Paniyans worked, and each 
Chemmi held authority over a group of villages. The 
office is hereditary, but, should a Chemmi family fail, it 
can be filled up by election. 

No ceremony takes place in celebration of the birth 
of children. One of the old women of the village acts 
as midwife, and receives a small present in return for her 
services. As soon as a child is old enough to be of use, 
it accompanies its parents to their work, or on their 
fishing and hunting expeditions, and is initiated into the 
various ways of adding to the stock of provisions for the 

The dead are buried in the following manner. A 
trench, four or five feet deep, and large enough to receive 
the body to be interred, is dug, due north and south, on 
a hill near the village. At the bottom of this excavation 
the earth is scooped out from the western side on a level 
with the floor throughout the length of the grave, so as 
to form a receptacle for the corpse, which, placed on a 
mat, is laid therein upon its left side with the head 
pointing to the south and the feet to the north. After a 
little cooked rice has been put into the grave for the use of 
the departed spirit, the mat, which has been made broad 
enough for the purpose, is folded up and tucked in under 


the roof of the cavity, and the trench filled up. It has 
probably been found by experience that the corpse, when 
thus protected, is safe from the ravages of scavenger 
jackals and pariah dogs. For seven days after death, a 
little rice gruel is placed at distance of from fifty to a 
hundred yards from the grave by the Chemmi, who claps 
his hands as a signal to the evil spirits in the vicinity, 
who, in the shape of a pair of crows, are supposed to 
partake of the food, which is hence called kaka conji or 
crow's rice. 

The noombu or mourning ceremonies are the tl polay, 
seven days after death ; the kaka polay or karuvelli held 
for three years in succession in the month of Magaram 
(January- February) ; and the matham polay held once in 
every three or four years, when possible, as a memorial 
service in honour of those who are specially respected. 
On all these occasions the Chemmi presides, and acts as 
a sort of master of the ceremonies. As the ceremonial 
carried out differs only in degree, an account of the kaka 
polay will do for all. 

In the month of Magaram, the noombukarrans or 
mourners (who have lost relatives) begin to cook and 
eat in a pandal or shed set apart from the rest of the 
village, but otherwise go about their business as usual. 
They wash and eat twice a day, but abstain from eating 
meat or fish. On the last day of the month, arrangements 
are made, under the supervision of the Chemmi, for the 
ceremony which brings the period of mourning to a 
close. The mourners, who have fasted since daybreak, 
take up their position in the pandal, and the Chemmi, 
holding on his crossed arms two winnowing sieves, each 
containing a seer or two of rice, walks round three 
times, and finally deposits the sieves in the centre of the 
pandal. If, among the male relatives of the deceased. 


one is to be found sufficiently hysterical, or actor 
enough, to simulate possession and perform the functions 
of an oracle, well and good ; but, should they all be of 
a stolid temperament, there is always at hand a pro- 
fessional corresponding to the Komaran or Vellichipad 
of other Hindus. This individual is called the Pataly- 
karan. With a new cloth (mundu) on his head, and 
smeared on the body and arms with a paste made of 
rice flour and ghi (clarified butter), he enters on the scene 
with his legs girt with bells, the music of which is 
supposed to drive away the attendant evil spirits (payan- 
mar). Advancing with short steps and rolling his eyes, 
he staggers to and fro, sawing the air with two small 
sticks which he holds in either hand, and works himself 
up into a frenzied state of inspiration, while the mourners 
cry out and ask why the dead have been taken away 
from them. Presently a convulsive shiver attacks the 
performer, who staggers more violently and falls prostrate 
on the ground, or seeks the support of one of the posts 
of the pandal, while he gasps out disjointed sentences, 
which are taken to be the words of the god. The 
mourners now make obeisance, and are marked on the 
forehead with the paste of rice flour and gh!. This 
done, a mat is spread for the accommodation of the 
headmen and Chemmi ; and the Patalykaran, from whose 
legs the bells have been removed and put with the rice 
in the sieves, takes these in his hands, and, shaking them 
as he speaks, commences a funeral chant, which lasts till 
dawn. Meanwhile food has been prepared for all present 
except the mourners, and when this has been partaken 
of, dancing is kept up round the central group till day- 
break, when the pandal is pulled down and the kaka 
polay is over. Those who have been precluded from 
eating make up for lost time, and relatives, who have 



allowed their hair to grow long, shave. The ordinary 
Paniyan does not profess to know the meaning of the 
funeral orations, but contents himself with a belief that 
it is known to those who are initiated. The women 
attend the ceremony, but do not take part in the dance. 
In fact, the nearest approach to a dance that they ever 
attempt (and this only on festive occasions) resembles 
the ordinary occupation of planting rice, carried out in 
dumb show to the music of a drum. The bodies of the 
performers stoop and move in time with the music, and 
the arms are swung from side to side as in the act of 
placing the rice seedlings in their rows. To see a long 
line of Paniyan women, up to their knees in the mud of 
a rice field, bobbing up and down and putting on the 
pace as the music grows quicker and quicker, and to 
hear the wild yells of Hou ! Hou ! like a chorus of hungry 
dogs, which form the vocal accompaniment as they dab 
the green bunches in from side to side, is highly amusing. 
The foregoing account of the Paniyan death cere- 
monies was supplied by Mr. Colin Mackenzie, to whom, 
as also to Mr. F. Fawcett, Mr. G. Romilly, and Martelli, 
I am indebted for many of the facts recorded in the 
present note. From Mr. Fawcett the following account 
of a further ceremony was obtained : — 

At a Paniyan village, on a coffee estate where the 
annual ceremony was being celebrated, men and boys 
were dancing round a wooden upright to the music of a 
small drum hanging at the left hip. Some of the dancers 
had bells round the leg below the knee. Close to the 
upright a man was seated, playing a pipe, which emitted 
sounds like those of a bagpipe. In dancing, the dancers 
went round against the sun. At some little distance a 
crowd of females indulged in a dance by themselves. A 
characteristic of the dance, specially noticeable among 


the women, was stooping and waving of the arms in front. 
The dancers perspired freely, and kept up the dance for 
many hours to rhythmic music, the tune of which changed 
from time to time. There were three chief dancers, of 
whom one represented the goddess, the others her 
ministers. They were smeared with streaks on the chest, 
abdomen, arms and legs, had bells on the legs, and 
carried a short stick about two feet in length in each 
hand. The sticks were held over the head, while the 
performers quivered as if in a religious frenzy. Now and 
again, the sticks were waved or beaten together. The 
Paniyans believe that, when the goddess first appeared 
to them, she carried two sticks in her hands. The mock 
goddess and her attendants, holding the sticks above the 
head and shivering, went to each male elder, and appa- 
rently received his blessing, the elder placing his hand 
on their faces as a form of salutation, and then applying 
his hand to his own face. The villagers partook of a 
light meal in the early morning, and would not eat again 
until the end of the ceremony, which concluded by the 
man-goddess seating himself on the upright, and addres- 
sing the crowd on behalf of the goddess concerning their 
conduct and morality. 

The Paniyans " worship animistic deities, of which 
the chief is Kuli, whom they worship on a raised plat- 
form called Kulitara, offering cocoanuts, but no blood." * 
They further worship Kattu Bhagavati, or Bhagavati of 
the woods. " Shrines in her honour are to be found at 
most centres of the caste, and contain no image, but a 
box in which are kept the clothing and jewels presented 
to her by the devout. An annual ceremony lasting a 
week is held in her honour, at which the Komaran and 

* Gazetteer of Malabar, 

paniyan 70 

a kind of priest, called Nolambukaran, take the chief 
parts. The former dresses in the goddess' clothing, and 
the divine afflatus descends upon him, and he prophesies 
both good and evil." 

Games. — A long strip of cane is suspended from the 
branch of a tree, and a cross-bar fixed to its lower 
end. On the bar a boy sits, and swings himself in all 
directions. In another game a bar, twelve to fourteen 
feet in length, is balanced by means of a point in a socket 
on an upright reaching about four feet and-a-half above 
the ground. Over the end of the horizontal bar a boy 
hangs, and, touching the ground with the feet, spins 
himself round. 

Some Paniyans have a thread tied round the wrist, 
ankle, or neck, as a charm to ward off fever and other 
diseases. Some of the men have the hair of the head 
hanging down in matted tails in performance of a vow. 
The men wear brass, steel, and copper rings on their 
fingers and brass rings in the ears. 

The women, in like manner, wear finger rings, and, 
in addition, bangles on the wrist, and have the lobes of 
the ears widely dilated, and plugged with cadjan (palm 
leat) rolls. In some the nostril is pierced, and plugged 
with wood. 

The Paniyans, who dwell in settlements at the base 
of the ghats, make fire by what is known as the Malay 
or sawing method A piece of bamboo, about a foot in 
length, in which two nodes are included, is split longi- 
tudinally into two equal parts. On one half a sharp edge 
is cut with a knife. In the other a longitudinal slit is 
made through about two-thirds of its length, which is 
stuffed with a piece of cotton cloth. It is then held 
firmly on the ground with its convex surface upwards, 
and the cutting edge drawn, with a gradually quickening 



sawing motion, rapidly to and fro across it by two men, 
until the cloth is ignited by the incandesent particles of 
wood in the groove cut by the sharp edge. The cloth is 
then blown with the lips into a blaze, and the tobacco or 
cooking fire can be lighted. 

At Pudupadi an elephant mahout was jealously 
guarding a bit of bamboo stick with notches cut in it, 
each notch representing a day for which wages were 
due to him. The stick in question had six notches, 
representing six days' wages. 

Average height i57'4 cm. Nasal index 95 (max. 
1 08 '6). The average distance from the tip of the middle 
finger to the top of the patella was 4*6 cm. relative to 
stature = 100, which approximates very closely to the 
recorded results of measurement of long-limbed African 

Panjai.^Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 901, as a sub-division of Pandya Vellala. The name 
Panjai, indicating a poverty-stricken individual, is usually 
applied to mendicant Pandarams. 

Panjaram.— Panjaram or Pancharamkatti is the 
name of a sub-division of the Idaiyans, derived from the 
peculiar gold ornament, which the women wear. It is 
said that, in this division, widow marriage is commonly 
practiced, because Krishna used to place a similar orna- 
ment round the necks of Idaiyan widows of whom he 
became enamoured, and that this sub-division was the 
result of his amours with them. 

Panjukkara (cotton-man). — An occupational name 
of a sub-division of Vellalas, who are not at the present 
day connected with the cotton trade. They call them- 
selves Panjukkara Chettis. The equivalent panjari 
(pinjari) or Panjukotti occurs as a Tamil synonym for 
Dudekula (Muhammadan cotton-cleaners). 

pannAdai 72 

Pannadai (sheath of the cocoanut leaf). — A sub- 
division of Vettuvan. 

Pannaiyan. — A title of Alavan. 

Pannara. — A sub-division of Mali. 

Pannendu Nal (twelve days). — A name for those 
Pallis who, like Brahmans, perform the final death 
ceremonies on the twelfth day. 

Pannirendam (twelfth) Chetti. — A section of the 

Pano.— In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the 
Panos are described as " a caste of weavers found in the 
Ganjam district. This caste is no doubt identical with 
the Pans, a weaving, basket-making, and servile caste 
of Orissa and Chota Nagpore. The Panos occupy the 
same position among the Khonds of Ganjam as the 
Dombs hold among the inhabitants of the Vizagapatam 
hills, and the words Pano and Dombo are generally 
regarded as synonyms [See Domb]. The members of the 
Sitra sub-division are workers in metal." It is further 
noted, in the Census Report, 1901, that the Panos are 
"an extensive caste of hill weavers found chiefly in the 
Ganjam Agency. The Khond synonym for this word 
is Domboloko, which helps to confirm the connection 
between this caste and the Dombas of Vizagapatam. 
They speak Khond and Oriya." In a note on the Panos, 
I read that " their occupations are trading, weaving, and 
theft. They live on the ignorance and superstition of 
the Khonds as brokers, pedlars, sycophants, and cheats. 
In those parts where there are no Oriyas, they possess 
much influence, and are always consulted by the Khonds 
in questions of boundary disputes." In a brief account 
of the Panos, Mr. C. F. MacCartie writes * that " the 

* Madras Census Beport, 1 88 1. 

73 pANO 

Panos, also known by the title of Dombo or Sitra in some 
parts, are supposed to be Paraiya [Telugu Mala] 
emigrants from the low country. Their profession is 
weaving or brass work, the monotony of which they vary 
by petty trading in horns, skins and live cattle, and 
occasionally enliven by house-breaking and theft at the 
expense of the Khonds, who have an incautious trick of 
leaving their habitations utterly unguarded when they 
go off to the hills to cultivate. [In the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, the Sitras are said to be supposed to be 
the progeny of a Khond man and a Haddi woman, who 
manufacture the brass rings and bangles worn by the 
Khonds.] The Panos are drunken, immoral, and dirty 
in their habits. The Khonds refuse to eat with them, 
but I do not find that this objection extends to drinking, 
at which both Khond and Pano display surprising 
capabilities. Panos are also the professional musicians 
of the country, and attend weddings, deaths and sacrifices 
in this character, for which they are recompensed with 
food, liquor, and cloths. The generality of Khond and 
Pano houses are constructed of broad sal {Shorea robustd) 
logs, hewn out with the axe and thatched with jungle 
grass, which is impervious to white-ants. In bamboo 
jungles, of course, bamboo is substituted for s41. The 
Panos generally affect a detached quarter, known as 
Dombo sai. Intermarriage between Khonds, Panos, and 
Uriyas is not recognised, but cases do occur when a 
Pano induces a Khond woman to go off with him. She 
may live with him as his wife, but no ceremony takes 
place. [A few years ago, a young Khond was betrothed 
to the daughter of another Khond, and, after a few years, 
managed to pay up the necessary number of gifts. He 
then applied to the girl's father to name the day for the 
marriage. Before the wedding took place however, a 

PANO 74 

Pano went to the girl's father, and said that she was his 
daughter (she had been born before her parents were 
married), and that he was the man to whom the gifts 
should have been paid. The case was referred to a 
council, which decided in favour of the Pano.] If a 
Pano commits adultery with a Khond married woman, 
he has to pay a paronjo, or a fine of a buffalo to the 
husband (who retains his wife), and in addition a goat, 
a pig, a basket of paddy (rice), a rupee, and a load of 
pots. There is close communication between the Panos 
and the Khonds, as the former act as the advisers 
of the latter in all cases of doubt or difficulty. The 
Uriyas live apart from both, and mix but little with 
either, except on the occasion of sacrifices or other solemn 
assemblages, when buffaloes are slaughtered for Panos 
and Khonds, and goats or sheep for Uriya visitors. 
[It is noted, in the Ganjam Manual, in connection with 
Khond death ceremonies, that " if a man has been 
killed by a tiger, purification is made by the sacrifice 
of a pig, the head of which is cut off with a tangi (axe) 
by a Pano, and passed between the legs of the men 
in the village, who stand in a line astraddle. It is a 
bad omen to him, if the head touches any man's legs.] 
Among the products of the jungles may be included 
myrabolams {Terminalia fruits), tasar silk cocoons, and 
dammer, all of which are bartered by the finders to 
trading Panos in small quantities, generally for salt." 
In the Ganjam Maliahs, the jungles are said to be 
searched by Panos for tasar cocoons, and, just across 
the border in Boad, the collection of these cocoons 
is a regular industry among them. Small portions of 
jungle are regularly reserved, and divided up into small 
allotments. Each of these is given to a Pano for rent, 
and here he cultivates the silkworms, and collects the 

75 PANO 

silk, which is sent to Berhampur and Sambalpur for 

The Panos are divided into two distinct sections, 
viz., the Khonda Panos who Hve amidst the Khonds, and 
the Desa Panos of the plains. The former have adopted 
some of the customs of the Khonds, while the latter follow 
the customs of the Uriya castes which dwell in the low- 
land. The Khond Panos are governed by the Molikos 
(headmen) of the Khonds. In some cases, the fines 
inflicted for breach of caste rules are rather severe. For 
example, in the neighbourhood of Baliguda, a man who 
is convicted of adultery has to pay two rupees, and 
give two buffaloes to the council which tries the case. 
Further south, for a similar offence twelve buffaloes are 
demanded, and the culprit has to pay twice the amount 
of the bride-price to the injured husband. The Desa 
Panos conform to the standard Uriya type of caste coun- 
cil, and have a headman called Behara, who is assisted 
by a Nayako, and caste servants entitled Bhollobaya 
or Gonjari. 

The marriage ceremonies of the Desa Panos are 
closely allied to those of the Dandasis and Haddis, 
whereas those of the Khonda Panos bear a close resem- 
blance to the ceremonies of the Khonds. Like Khond 
girls, unmarried Khond Pano girls sleep in quarters 
(dhangadi) specially set apart for them, and, as among 
the Khonds, wedding presents in the form of gontis are 
given. It is noted with reference to the Khonds, in the 
Ganjam Manual, that " the bride is looked upon as a 
commercial speculation, and is paid for in gontis. A 
gonti is one of anything, such as a buffalo, a pig, or a 
brass pot ; for instance, a hundred gontis might consist 
of ten bullocks, ten buffaloes, ten sacks of corn, ten sets 
of brass, twenty sheep, ten pigs, and thirty fowls." At 


a Khond Pano marriage, the fingers of the contracting 
couple are linked together, and an important item of the 
ceremonial, which adds dignity thereto, is placing in front 
of the house at which a marriage is being celebrated a 
big brass vessel containing water, with which the guests 
wash their feet. 

The Panos pay reverence to ancestors, to whom, 
when a death occurs in a family, food is offered. In 
some Pano villages, when a child is born, it is customary 
to consult a pujari (priest) as to whether the grandfather 
or great-grandfather is re-born in it. If the answer is in 
the affirmative, pigs are sacrificed to the ancestors. Some 
Panos have adopted the worship of Takuranis (village 
deities), to whom rice and turmeric are offered by placing 
them before the image in the form of a figure-of-eight. 
A fowl is sacrificed, and its blood allowed to flow on to 
one loop of the figure. In some places, Dharmadevata 
and Gagnasuni are worshipped, a castrated goat being 
sacrificed annually to the former, and fowls and an entire 
goat to the latter. 

Pano women, who live among the Khonds, tattoo 
their faces in like manner, and in other respects resemble 
Khond women. 

I am informed that, on more than one occasion, 
Panos have been known to rifle the grave of a European, 
in the belief that buried treasure will be found. 

Panta (a crop). — A sub-division of Kapu and 
Yanadi. In the Gazetteer of South Arcot, Pan Reddi 
is recorded as a caste of Telugu-speaking ryots (Kapus). 

Pantala.— Recorded, in Travancore, as a sub- 
division of Samantan. The name is said to be derived 
from Bhandarattil, or belonging to the royal treasury. 

Pantari.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, as synonymous with the Idacheri sub-division 


of Nayar. Pantrantu Vitan is also there recorded as 
a sub-division of Nayar. 

Pappadam. — People calling themselves Pappadam 
Chetti are largely found in Malabar, living by the 
manufacture and sale of cakes called pappadam, which 
are purchased by all classes, including Nambutiri 

Pappini.— A name for Brahmanis, a class of 

Pappu (split pulse). — An exogamous sept of Balija. 

Paradesi. — Recorded, in the Madras Census Re- 
port, 1 90 1, as a class of Malayalam beggars. The name 
indicates strangers (paradesa, a foreign country), and is 
applied to the White Jews of Cochin, in connection 
with whom it occurs in Sirkar (State) accounts and royal 
writs granted to them. 

Paraiya Tada. — Recorded, in the North Arcot 
Manual, as a name for those who are considered 
impure Valluvans. The name literally means Paraiya 
Tadan or Dasari. 

Paraiyan.— The Paraiyans or, as they are commonly 
termed. Pariahs of the Tamil country number, according 
to recent census returns, over two million souls, and a 
large proportion of those who returned themselves as 
Native Christians are said also to belong to this class. 
For the following note I am mainly indebted to an 
account of the Paraiyans by the Rev. A. C. Clayton.* 

The late Bishop Caldwell derived the name Paraiyan 
from the Tamil word parai a drum, as certain Paraiyans 
act as drummers at marriages, funerals, village festivals, 
and on occasions when Government or commercial 
announcements are proclaimed. Mr. H. A. Stuart, 

• Madras Mus. Bull., V, 2, 1906. 


however, seems to question this derivation, remarking * 
that "it is only one section of Paraiyans that act as 
drummers. Nor is the occupation confined to Paraiyans. 
It seems in the highest degree improbable that a large, 
and at one time powerful, community should owe its 
name to an occasional occupation, which one of its 
divisions shares with other castes. The word Paraiyan 
is not found in Divakaram, a Tamil dictionary of the 
eleventh century A.D., and the word Pulayan was then 
used to denote this section of the population, as it is still 
in Malayalam to this day." In the legend of the Saivite 
saint, Nandan is, in the prose version of the Periya 
Puranam, called a Pulayan, though a native of Shola- 
mandalam, which was a distinctly Tamil kingdom. Mr. 
W. Francis writes f that " the old Tamil poems and 
works of the early centuries of the Christian era do not 
mention the name Paraiyan, but contain many descrip- 
tions of a tribe called the Eyinas, who seem to have 
been quite distinct from the rest of the population, and 
did not live in the villages, but in forts of their own. 
Ambur and Vellore are mentioned as the sites of two of 
these. They may perhaps have been the ancestors of 
the Paraiyans of to-day." 

In a note on the Paraiyans, Sonnerat, writing J in 
the eighteenth century, says that " they are prohibited 
from drawing water from the wells of other castes ; but 
have particular wells of their own near their inhabita- 
tions, round which they place the bones of animals, that 
they may be known and avoided. When an Indian of 
any other caste permits a Paraiya to speak to him, this 
unfortunate being is obliged to hold his hand before his 
mouth, lest the Indian may be contaminated with his 

♦ Madras Census Report, 1891. t Madras Census Report, 1901. 

X Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781, 


breath ; and, if he Is met on the highway, he must turn 
on one side to let the other pass. If any Indian 
whatever, even a Choutre, by accident touches a Paraiya, 
he is obHged to purify himself in a bath. The Brahmans 
cannot behold them, and they are obHged to fly when 
they appear. Great care is taken not to eat anything 
dressed by a Paraiya, nor even to drink out of the vessel 
he has used ; they dare not enter the house of an Indian 
of another caste ; or, if they are employed in any work, 
a door is purposely made for them ; but they must work 
with their eyes on the ground ; for, if it is perceived 
they have glanced at the kitchen, all the utensils must 
be broken. The infamy of the Paraiyas is reflected on 
the Europeans : last are held in more detestation, 
because, setting aside the little respect they have for the 
cow, whose flesh they eat, the Indians reproach them 
with spitting in their houses, and even their temples : 
that when drinking they put the cup to their lips, and 
their fingers to their mouths in such a manner that they 
are defiled with the spittle." 

Paraiyans are to be found throughout the Tamil 
districts from North Arcot to Tinnevelly, and in the 
southern extremity of the Native State of Travancore. 
In the Telugu country the Malas and Madigas and in 
the Canarese country the Holeyas take their place. 

Some of the most common names of Paraiyan males 
are — 

Kanni or 



Raman or 














Among females the most common names are Tai, 
Parpathi, Ammai, Kanni, Muttammal, Rajammal, 
Ammani, Selli, Gangammal. In one village, where the 
Paraiyans were almost all Vaishnavas, by profession not 
by practice, Mr. Clayton found the inhabitants all named 
after heroes of the Mahabharata, and dirty naked children 
answered to the names of Ikshvakan, Karnan, Bhiman, 
and Draupadi. It is usual to give the father's name 
when distinguishing one Paraiyan from another, e.g., 
Tamburan, son of Kannan. In legal documents the 
prefix Para denotes a Paraiyan, e.g., Para Kanni, the 
Paraiyan Kanni, but this is a purely clerical formula. 
The Paraiyan delights in nicknames, and men some- 
times grow so accustomed to these that they have almost 
forgotten their real names. The following nicknames 
are very common : — 

Nondi, lame. 
Kalian, thief. 
Kullan, dwarf. 
Vellei, white or light 

Kannan, with eyes. 
Muthalai, crocodile. 
Kudiyan, drunkard. 

No name, indicating virtue or merit, is given, lest 
the wrath of malevolent spirits should be aroused. 

At the census, 1891, 348 sub-divisions were returned, 
of which the following were strongest in point of 
numbers : — Amma found chiefly in Tanjore and Madura ; 
Katti in Salem and Trichinopoly ; Kizhakkatti (eastern) 
in Salem ; Koliyan (weavers) in Chingleput, Tanjore and 
Trichinopoly ; Konga in Salem ; Korava in Coimbatore ; 
Kottai (fort) in South Arcot ; Morasu (drum) in Salem ; 
Mottai in Madura ; Pacchai (green) in Coimbatore ; 
Samban in South Arcot ; Sangidum (sanku, conch, or 
chank shell) in Coimbatore ; Sozhia (natives of the 
Sozha or Chola country) in Tanjore and Madura; 



Tangalan in North and South Arcot, Chingleput, Salem, 
and Trichinopoly ; and Valangamattu in South Arcot. 
The members of the various sub-divisions do not 

It has been suggested to me that the Morasu 
Paraiyans, included in the above list, are Canarese 
Holeyas, who have settled in the Tamil country. In the 
south their women, like the Kalians, wear a horsehair 
thread round the neck. As additional sub-divisions, 
the following may be noted : — 

Aruththukattdtha, or those who, having once cut 
the tali-string, do not tie it a second time, z>., those 
who do not permit remarriage of widows. 
Valai (a net). — Paraiyans who hunt. 
Sanku (conch-shell). — Those who act as conch- 
blowers at funerals. 

Thatha. — Thathan is the name given to mendicants 
who profess Vaishnavism. Such Paraiyans are Vaishna- 
vites, and some are beggars. 

In the Census Report, 1901, Mr. Francis notes that 
the term Paraiyan " is now almost a generic one, and 
the caste is split up into many sub-divisions, which 
differ in manners and ways. For example, the Koliyans, 
who are weavers, and the Valluvans, who are medicine 
men and priests and wear the sacred thread, will not 
intermarry or eat with the others, and are now practically 
distinct castes." As occupational titles of Paraiyans 
Mr. Francis gives Urumikkaran and Pambaikkaraii, or 
those who play on drums (urumi and pambai), and 
Podarayan or Podara Vannan, who are washermen. 
The title Valangamattan, or people of the right-hand 
division, is assumed by some Paraiyans. 

Mr. Clayton states that he knows of no legend or 
popular belief among the Paraiyans, indicating that 


they believe themselves to have come from any other 
part of the country than that where they now find 
themselves. There is, however, some evidence that the 
race has had a long past, and one in which they had 
independence, and possibly great importance in the 
peninsula. Mr. Stuart mentions * that the Valluvans 
were priests to the Pallava kings before the introduction 
of the Brahmans, and even for some time after it. He 
quotes an unpublished Vatteluttu inscription, believed 
to be of the ninth century, in which it is noted that 
" Sri Valluvam Puvanavan, the Uvacchan (or temple 
ministrant), will employ six men daily, and do the temple 
service." The inference is that the Valluvan was a man 
of recognised priestly rank, and of great influence. The 
prefix Sri is a notable honorific. By itself this inscrip- 
tion would prove little, but the whole legendary history 
of the greatest of all Tamil poets, Tiruvalluvar, " the 
holy Valluvan," confirms all that can be deduced from 
it. His date can only be fixed approximately, but it is 
probable that he flourished not later than the tenth 
century A.D. It is safe to say that this extraordinary 
sage could not have attained the fame he did, or have 
received the honours that were bestowed upon him, had 
not the Valluvans, and therefore the Paraiyans, been in 
the circle of respectable society in his day. This conjec- 
ture is strengthened by the legend that he married 
a Vellala girl. The same hypothesis is the only one 
that will account for the education and the vogue of the 
sister of the poet, the aphoristic poetess Avvei. 

In the Census Report, 1901, Mr. Francis mentions 
an inscription of the Ch5la King Raja Raja, dated about 
the eleventh century A.D., in which the Paraiyan caste is 

* Loc. cit. 


called by its own name. It had then two sub-divisions, 
the Nesavu or weavers, and Ulavu or ploughmen. 
The caste had even then its own hamlets, wells and 

There are certain privileges possessed by Paraiyans, 
which they could never have gained for themselves from 
orthodox Hinduism. They seem to be survivals of a 
past, in which Paraiyans held a much higher position 
than they do now. It is noted by Mr. M. J. Walhouse* 
that "in the great festival of Siva at Trivalur in Tanjore 
the headman of the Pareyars is mounted on the elephant 
with the god, and carries his chauri (yak-tail fly fan). 
In Madras, at the annual festival of Egatta, the god- 
dess of the Black, t now George, Town, when a tali is 
tied round the neck of the idol in the name of the 
entire community, a Pareyan is chosen to represent the 
bridegroom. At Melkotta in Mysore, the chief seat of 
the followers of Ramanuja Acharya, and at the Brahman 
temple at Belur, the Holeyas or Pareyars have the right 
of entering the temple on three days in the year 
specially set apart for them." At Melkote, the Holeyas 
and Madigas are said to have been granted the privilege 
of entering the sanctum sanctorum along with Brahmans 
and others on three days by Ramanuja. In 1799, 
however, the right to enter the temple was stopped at 
the dhvajastambham, or consecrated monolithic column. 
At both Belur and Melkote, as soon as the festival is 
over, the temples are ceremonially purified. At Sri- 
perumbudur in the Chingleput district, the Paraiyans 
enjoy a similar privilege to those at Tiruvalur, in return 
for having sheltered an image of the locally-worshipped 

♦ Ind. Ant., Ill, 1874. 

t The name Black Town was changed to Georgetown to commemorate 
the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to Madras in 1906. 
VI-6 B 


incarnation of Vishnu during a Muhammadan raid. It 
is noted by Mr. Stuart that the lower village offices, the 
Vettiyan, Taliari, Dandasi or Barike, and the Toti, are, 
in the majority of Madras villages, held by persons of 
the Paraiyan caste. Paraiyans are allowed to take part 
in pulling the cars of the idols in the great festivals at 
Conjeeveram, Kumbakonam, and Srivilliputtur. Their 
touch is not reckoned to defile the ropes used, so that 
other Hindus will pull with them. With this may be 
compared the fact that the Telugu Malas are custodians 
of the goddess Gauri, the bull Nandi, and Ganesa, the 
chief gods of the Saiva Kapus and Balijas. It may also 
be noted that the Komatis, who claim to be Vaisyas, are 
bound to invite Madigas to their marriages, though they 
take care that the latter do not hear the invitation. Mr. 
Clayton records that he has heard well-authenticated 
instances of Brahman women worshipping at Paraiyan 
shrines in order to procure children, and states that he 
once saw a Paraiyan exorciser treating a Brahman by 
uttering mantrams (consecrated formulae), and waving a 
sickle up and down the sufferer's back, as he stood in a 
threshing floor. 

In a note on the Paraiyans of the Trichinopoly dis- 
trict, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. " They 
have a very exalted account of their lineage, saying that 
they are descended from the Brahman priest Sala Sam- 
bavan, who was employed in a Siva temple to worship 
the god with offerings of beef, but who incurred the 
anger of the god by one day concealing a portion of the 
meat, to give it to his pregnant wife, and was therefore 
turned into a Paraiyan. The god appointed his brother 
to do duty instead of him, and the Paraiyans say that 
Brahman priests are their cousins. For this reason they 
wear a sacred thread at their marriages and funerals. 


At the festival of the village goddesses, they repeat an 
extravagant praise of their caste, which runs as follows. 
' The Paraiyans were the first creation, the first who wore 
the sacred thread, the uppermost in the social scale, the 
differentiators of castes, the winners of laurels. They 
have been seated on the white elephant, the Vira 
Sambavans who beat the victorious drum.' It is a 
curious fact that, at the feast of the village goddess, 
a Paraiyan is honoured by being invested with a sacred 
thread for the occasion by the pujari (priest) of the 
temple, by having a turmeric thread tied to his wrists, 
and being allowed to head the procession. This, the 
Paraiyans say, is owing to their exalted origin." 

In times of drought some of the lower orders, instead 
of addressing their prayers to the rain god Varuna, try 
to induce a spirit or devata named Kodumpavi (wicked 
one) to send her paramour Sukra to the affected area. 
The belief seems to be that Sukra goes away to his 
concubine for about six months, and, if he does not 
then return, drought ensues. The ceremony consists 
in making a huge figure of Kodumpavi in clay, which is 
placed on a cart, and dragged through the streets for 
seven to ten days. On the last day, the final death 
ceremonies of the figure are celebrated. It is disfigured, 
especially in those parts which are usually concealed. 
Vettiyans (Paraiyan grave-diggers), who have been 
shaved, accompany the figure, and perform the funeral 
ceremonies. This procedure is believed to put Kodum- 
pavi to shame, and to get her to induce Sukra to return, 
and stay the drought. Paraiyans are said * to wail as 
though they were at a funeral, and to beat drums in 
the funeral time. 

• Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


The Paraiyans are said by Mr. Francis * to have a 
curious share in the ceremonies in connection with the 
annual buffalo sacrifice at the Kali shrine at Mangalam 
in South Arcot. " Eight men of this community are 
chosen from eight adjoining villages, and one of them is 
selected as leader. His wife must not be with child at the 
time, and she is made to prove that she is above all suspi- 
cion by undergoing the ordeal of thrusting her hand into 
boiling gingelly [Sesamtcm) oil. On each of ten days for 
which the festival lasts, this Paraiyan has to go round 
some part of the boundaries of the eight villages, and he 
is fed gratis by the villagers during this time. On the 
day of the sacrifice itself, he marches in front of the 
priest as the latter kills the buffaloes. The Paraiyans 
of the eight villages have the right to the carcases of the 
slaughtered animals." 

The Paraiyans know the village boundaries better 
than anyone else, and are very expert in this matter, 
unerringly pointing out where boundaries should run, 
even when the Government demarcation stones are 
completely overgrown by prickly-pear, or have been 
removed. Mr. Stuart records a custom which prevails 
in some parts of making a Paraiyan walk the boundaries 
of a field with a pot of water on his head, when there 
is any dispute about their exact position. He thinks 
that the only satisfactory explanation of this is that the 
connection of the Paraiyans with the soil is of much 
longer standing than that of other castes. The admitted 
proprietary right which Paraiyans have in the site known 
as cheri-nattam, on which their huts stand, is a confirm- 
ation of this. These sites are entered as such on the 
official village maps. They cannot be taken from the 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


Paraiyans, and date from time immemorial. Throughout 
the whole of the Tamil country it is usual to find that 
the land allotted for house-site (nattam) is in two por- 
tions in every village (Or). One part is known by 
the Sanskrit name gramam (village), the inhabited place. 
The other is called by the Dravidian name cheri 
(gathering place). 

Sometimes the latter is called by the fuller title para- 
cheri (Anglice parcheri, parcherry), i.e., the gathering 
place of the Paraiyans. In the gramam live the Brah- 
mans, who sometimes dwell, in a quarter by themselves 
known as the agrahara, and also other Hindus. In 
the paracheri live the Paraiyans. The paracheri and 
the gramam are always separated, at least by a road or 
lane, and often by several fields. And not only is it usual 
thus to find that, in every village, the Paraiyans as a 
community possess a house-site, but there are many cases 
in which more than one cheri is attached to a gramam. 
This seems to repudiate the suggestion that at some 
period or periods the higher castes relegated the Parai- 
yans to these cheris. Indeed, in some cases, the very 
names of the cheris suggest what appears to be the more 
correct view, viz., that the cheris had a distinct origin. 
For instance, the whole revenue village of Teiyar near 
Chingleput consists of one Sudra gramam and seven 
Paraiyan cheris, each with a name of its own, Periya- 
pilleri, Komancheri, etc. In other cases, e.£., Ideipalayam 
in the north of the district, and Varadarajapuram near 
Vandalur, only Paraiyan hamlets exist ; there is no 
gramam. In South Arcot there are at least two villages, 
Govindanallur and Andapet, inhabited only by Paraiyans, 
where even the Maniyakkaran (munsiff or village head- 
man) is a Paraiyan. Other instances might be quoted 
in proof of the same opinion. And, when the ceremonial 


antipathy between Brahman and Paraiyan is examined, 
it points in the same direction. It is well known that 
a Brahman considers himself polluted by the touch, 
presence, or shadow of a Paraiyan, and will not allow him 
to enter his house, or even the street in which he lives, if 
it is an agrahara. But it is not so well known that the 
Paraiyans will not allow a Brahman to enter the cheri. 
Should a Brahman venture into the Paraiyan's quarter, 
water with which cow-dung has been mixed is thrown on 
his head, and he is driven out. It is stated* by Captain 
J., S. F. Mackenzie that " Brahmans in Mysore consider 
that great luck will await them if they can manage to pass 
through the Holeya quarter of a village unmolested, and 
that, should a Brahman attempt to enter their quarters, 
they turn out in a body and slipper him, in former times 
it is said to death." Some Brahmans consider a for- 
saken paracheri an auspicious site for an agrahara. A 
very peculiar case is that of the gramam founded for, 
and occupied by the clerks of the earliest Collectors 
(district magistrates) of the jagir of Karunguli from 1795 
to 1825 A.D. These clerks were Brahmans, and it was 
called the agraharam. It was deserted when the head- 
quarters of the Collector were removed to Conjeeveram. 
It is now occupied by Paraiyans, but is still called the 

The facts, taken together, seem to show that the 
Paraiyan priests (Valluvans), and therefore the Paraiyans 
as a race, are very ancient, that ten centuries ago they 
were a respectable community, and that many were 
weavers. The privileges they enjoy are relics of an 
exceedingly long association with the land. The insti- 
tution of the paracheri points to original independence. 

* Ind. Ant. II, 1873. 


and even to possession of much of the land. If the 
account of the colonisation of Tondeimandalam by 
Vellalans in the eighth century A.D. is historic, then it 
is possible that at that time the Paraiyans lost the land, 
and that their degradation as a race began. 

The Paraiyans have long been a settled race. And, 
though a number of them emigrate to Ceylon, Mauritius, 
South Africa, the West Indies, the Straits Settlements, 
and even to Fiji, the vast majority live and die within 
a mile or two of the spot where they were born. The 
houses in which they live are not temporary erections, or 
intended for use during certain seasons of the year only. 
The rudest form is a hut made by tying a few leaves of 
the palmyra palm on to a framework of poles or bamboos. 
The better class of houses are a series of rooms with 
low mud walls and thatched roof, but generally without 
doors, surrounding a small courtyard, in which the family 
goats, buffaloes, and fowls have their homes. The 
cooking is done anywhere where it is convenient either 
indoors or out, as there is no fear of pollution from the 
glance or shadow of any passer-by. Very occasionally 
the walls of the house, especially those facing the street, 
are whitewashed, or decorated with variegated patterns 
or figures in red and white. Paraiya women, like higher 
caste women, are much given to tracing exceedingly 
intricate symmetrical designs (kolam) with rice flour on 
the smooth space or pathway immediately before the 
doors of their houses, it is said, to prevent the entrance 
of evil spirits. Mr. S. P. Rice writes to me that the 
patterns on the floor or threshold are generally traced 
with white powder, e.g., chalk, as rice is too costly ; and 
that the original object of the custom was not to drive 
away evil spirits, but to provide food for the lowest 
creatures of creation — ants, insects, etc. 


Admissions to the Paraiyan caste from higher castes 
sometimes occur. Mr. Clayton records having met an 
Aiyangar Brahman who was working as a cooly with 
some Paraiyan labourers at Kodaikanal on the Palni 
hills. He had become infatuated with a Paraiya woman, 
and had consequently been excommunicated, and became 
a Paraiyan. 

In every Paraiya settlement a small number of the 
more important men are known as Panakkaran (money- 
man). The application of the term may, Mr. Clayton 
suggests, be due to their comparative opulence, or may 
have arisen from the custom of paying them a small sum 
(panam) for various services to the community. But 
Panikkar or Panakkar is usually said to be derived from 
pani, meaning work. They form a committee or council 
to decide ordinary quarrels, and to amerce the damages 
in cases of assault, seduction, rape, and adultery. They 
have power to dissolve marriages on account of the 
wife, or if the husband has deserted his wife. In these 
cases their authority is really based on the public opinion 
of the paracheri, and goes no further than that public 
opinion will enforce it. There is no headman in a 
Paraiya hamlet corresponding to the munsiff or village 
magistrate of the Hindu village (grama). In modern 
practice the Paraiyans are, for police purposes, under the 
authority of the munsiff of the grama, and there is a 
growing tendency on their part to refer all disputes 
and assaults to the munsiff, or even directly to the 
police. On the other hand, cases of a more domestic 
nature, such as disputes about betrothals, seduction, 
etc., are still dealt with, generally acutely and fairly, 
by the village council. It should be added that the 
rank of Panakkaran is hereditary, and is regarded as 


The Paraiyans, like all the other right-hand castes, 
come under the jurisdiction of the Desayi Chettis, who 
have held a sort of censorship since the days of the 
Nawabs of Arcot over some twenty-four of these right- 
hand castes, chiefly in North Arcot. The Desayi Chetti 
has nominal power to deal with all moral offences, and 
is supposed to have a representative in every village, 
who reports every offence. But, though his authority 
is great in North Arcot, and the fines levied there bring 
in an income of hundreds of rupees yearly, it is not so 
much dreaded in other districts. The punishment usually 
inflicted is a fine, but sometimes a delinquent Paraiyan 
will be made to crawl on his hands and knees on the 
ground between the legs of a Paraiya woman as a final 
humiliation. The punishment of excommunication, i.e., 
cutting off from fire and water, is sometimes the fate of 
the recalcitrant, either before the council or the Desayi 
Chetti, but it is seldom effective for more than a short 
time. Mr. K. Rangachari adds that, in certain places, 
the Desayi Chetti appoints the Panakkaran, who is 
subordinate to the Desayi, and that a man called the 
Variyan or Shalavathi is sometimes appointed as assist- 
ant to the Panakkaran. He also mentions some other 
punishments. The fine for adultery is from 7 pagodas 
14 fanams to 11 pagodas, when the wronged woman is 
unmarried. If she is married, the amount ranges from 12 
pagodas 14 fanams to 16 pagodas. The fine is said to be 
divided between the woman, her husband, the members 
of council, and the Panakkarans. Formerly an offender 
against the Paraiyan community was tied to a post at 
the beginning of his trial, and, if found guilty, was 
beaten. He might escape the flogging by paying a fine 
of two fanams per stripe. Sometimes a delinquent is 
paraded through the hamlet, carrying a rubbish basket, 


or is ordered to make a heap of rubbish at a certain 
spot. Or a cord is passed from one big toe over the 
bowed neck of the culprit, and tied to his other big toe, 
and then a stone is placed on his bent back. In some 
places, when an unmarried woman is convicted of 
adultery, she is publicly given a new cloth and a bit of 
straw or a twig, apparently in mockery. It is said that 
formerly, if the chastity of a bride was suspected, she 
had to pick some cakes out of boiling oil. This she had 
to do just after the tali had been tied in the wedding 
ceremony. Her hair, nails, and clothes were examined, 
to see that she had no charm concealed. After lifting 
the cakes from the oil, she had to husk some rice with 
her bare hand. If she could do this, her virtue was 
established. In the South Arcot district, according 
to Mr. Francis,* the Paraiyans " have caste headmen 
called the Periya (big) Nattan and the Chinna (little) 
Nattan or Tangalan (our man), whose posts are usually 
hereditary. The Tangalan carries out the sentence of 
caste panchayats, administering a thrashing to the 
accused for example, if such be the order of the court. 
Of the fines inflicted by these assemblies, a fifth is 
usually handed over to the local Mariamma shrine, 
and the remaining four-fifths are laid out in drinks 
for the panchayatdars. Until recently, a part of the 
fine was in some cases, in these parts, paid to the local 

Excommunicated Paraiyans are said to go to a 
mythical place called Vinnamangalam. In some docu- 
ments signed by Paraiyans, the words " If I fail to 
fulfil the conditions of our agreement, I shall go to 
Vinnamangalam " are inserted. In all enquiries by the 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


police, the council, or the Desayi Chetti, the Paraiyan 
only tells what in his opinion it is expedient to tell. 
But evidence given after burning a piece of camphor 
is said to be reliable. 

The attainment of puberty by girls is a subject of 
greedy curiosity to most of the women in a Paraiya 
village. This has been said to be due to the fact that 
" the menstrual fluid is held in horror, dire conse- 
quences being supposed to result from not merely the 
contact, but even the very sight of it. Hence the 
isolation and purification of women during the menstrual 
period, and the extreme care and anxiety with which 
the first approach of i^^berty in a girl is watched." The 
girl at once begins lo wear a covering of some sort, 
even it be the most pathetic rag, over her left shoulder 
and breast. Till this time, a bit of cotton cloth round 
her waist has been considered sufficient. Among the 
Tangalan Paraiyans, when a girl attains puberty, she 
is kept apart either in the house or in a separate hut. 
Pollution is supposed to last eight days. On the ninth 
day, the girl is bathed, and seated in the courtyard. 
Ten small lamps of flour paste (called drishti mavu 
vilakku), to avert the evil eye, are put on a sieve, and 
waved before her three times. Then coloured water 
(arati or alam) and burning camphor are waved before 
her. Some near female relatives then stand behind her, 
and strike her waist and sides with puttu (flour cake) 
tied in a cloth. This is believed to make her strong. 
At the same time other women strike the ground behind 
the girl with a rice-pestle. Then presents are given to 
the girl. In some places the girl is beaten within the 
house by her mother-in-law or paternal aunt. The 
latter repeatedly asks the girl to promise that her 
daughter shall marry her paternal aunt's son. 


In marriages among the Paraiyans, difference in 
religion is of little moment. A Christian Paraiyan will 
marry a heathen girl, though it should be said that she 
is usually baptised at or about the time of the marriage. 
A Christian girl is sometimes married to a heathen 
Paraiyan. Mr. Clayton thinks that the fact that certain 
Paraiyans paint the namam of Vishnu on their foreheads, 
while others smear their foreheads with the ashes of 
Siva, prevents marriages between them. 

The bridegroom must be older than the bride. 
Subject to this condition, it is usual for a youth to 
marry his father's sister's daughter, or his mother's 
brother's daughter. A girl should be married to her 
mother's brother's son if he is old enough, but not, as 
among the Konga Vellalas and some Reddis, if he is a 
child. In short, Paraiyans follow the usual Tamil 
custom, but it is often neglected. 

Marriage contracts are sometimes made by parents 
while the parties most concerned are still infants, often 
while they are still children ; in the majority of cases 
when the girl attains the marriageable age. The bride- 
groom may be many years older than the bride, especially 
when custom, as noted above, settles who shall be his 
bride. The bride has absolutely no choice in the 
matter ; but, if the bridegroom is a man of some years 
or position, his preferences are consulted. The elder 
sister should be given in marriage before her younger 
sisters are married. The arrangements are more or less 
a bargain. Presents of clothes, paltry jewels, rice, 
vegetables, and perhaps a few rupees, are exchanged 
between the families of the bride and bridegroom. The 
household that seeks the marriage naturally gives the 
larger gifts. The actual marriage ceremony is very 
simple. The essential part is the tying of a small token 


or ornament (tali), varying in value from a few annas to 
four or five rupees by a turmeric-stained string, round 
the neck of the bride. This is done by the bridegroom 
in the presence of a Valluvan, who mutters some kind 
of blessing on the marriage. A series of feasts, lasting 
over two or three days, is given to all the relatives of 
both parties by the parents of the newly-married 
couple. The bride and bridegroom do not live together 
immediately, even if the girl is old enough. The exact 
date at which their life together may begin is settled 
by the bride's mother. The occasion, called soppana 
muhurtham, is celebrated by another feast and much 
merry-making, not always seemly. 

The following detailed account of the marriage 
ceremonies among the Tangalan Paraiyans was furnished 
by Mr. K. Rangachari. The parents or near relations 
of the contracting parties meet, and talk over the match. 
If an agreement is arrived at, an adjournment is made to 
the nearest liquor shop, and a day fixed for the formal 
exchange of betel leaves, which is the sign of a binding 
engagement. A Paraiyan, when he goes to seek the 
hand of a girl in marriage, will not eat at her house if 
her family refuse to consider the alliance, to which the 
consent of the girl's maternal uncle is essential. The 
Paraiyan is particular in the observation of omens, and, 
if a cat or a valiyan (a bird) crosses his path when he 
sets out in quest of a bride, he will give her up. The 
betrothal ceremony, or pariyam, is binding as long as the 
contracting couple are alive. They may live together 
as man and wife without performing the marriage cere- 
mony, and children born to them are considered as 
legitimate. But, when their offspring marry, the parents 
must first go through the marriage rites, and the children 
are then married in the same pandal on the same day. 


At the betrothal ceremony, the headman, father, mater- 
nal uncle, and two near relations of the bridegroom-elect, 
proceed to the girl's house, where they are received, 
and sit on seats or mats. Drink and plantain fruits 
are offered to them. Some conversation takes place 
between the headmen of the two parties, such as " Have 
you seen the girl? Have you seen her house and rela- 
tions ? Are you disposed to recommend and arrange 
the match ? " If he assents, the girl's headman says 
" As long as stones and the Kaveri river exist, so 
that the sky goddess Akasavani and the earth goddess 
Bhumadevi may know it ; so that the water-pot (used 
at the marriage ceremony), and the sun and moon may 
know it ; so that this assembly may know it ; I . . . . 
give this girl." The headman of the bridegroom then 
says ** The girl shall be received into the house by 
marriage. These thirty-six pieces of gold are yours, 
and the girl is mine." He then hands betel leaves and 
areca nuts to the other headman, who returns them. 
The exchange of betel is carried out three times. Near 
the headmen is placed a tray containing betel nuts, a 
rupee, a turmeric-dyed cloth in which a fanam (2 J annas) 
is tied, a cocoanut, flowers, and the bride's money vary- 
ing in amount from seven to twenty rupees. The fanam 
and bride's money are handed to the headman of the 
girl, and the rupee is divided between the two headmen. 
On the betrothal day, the relations of the girl offer 
flowers, cocoanuts, etc., to their ancestors, who are 
supposed to be without food or drink. The Paraiyans 
believe that the ancestors will be ill-disposed towards 
them, if they are not propitiated with offerings of rice 
and other things. For the purpose of worship, the 
ancestors are represented by a number of cloths kept 
in a box made of bamboo or other material, to which 





the offerings are made. On the conclusion of the 
ancestor worship, the two headmen go to a liquor shop, 
and exchange drinks of toddy. This exchange is called 
mel sambandham kural, or proclaiming relationship. 
After the lapse of a few days, the girl's family is expected 
to pay a return visit, and the party should include at 
least seven men. Betel is again exchanged, and the 
guests are fed, or presented with a small gift of money. 
When marriage follows close on betrothal, the girl is taken 
to the houses of her relations, and goes through the nalugu 
ceremony, which consists of smearing her with turmeric 
paste, an oil bath, and presentation of betel and sweets. 
The auspicious day and hour for the marriage are fixed 
by the Valluvan, or priest of the Paraiyans. The 
ceremonial is generally carried through in a single day. 
On the morning of the wedding day, three male and two 
married female relations of the bridegroom go to the 
potter's house to fetch the pots, which have been already 
ordered. The potter's fee is a fowl, pumpkin, paddy, 
betel, and a few annas. The bride, accompanied by the 
headman and her relations, goes to the bridegroom's 
village, bringing with her a number of articles called petti 
varisai or box presents. These consist of a lamp, cup, 
brass vessel, ear-ornament called kalappu, twenty-five 
betel leaves and areca nuts, onions, and cakes, a lump 
of jaggery (crude sugar), grass mat, silver toe-ring, rice, 
a bundle of betel leaves and five cocoanuts, which are 
placed inside a bamboo box. The next item in the pro- 
ceedings is the erection of the milk-post, which is made 
of a pestle of tamarind or Soymida febrifuga wood, or 
a green bamboo. To the post leafy twigs of the mango 
or pipal {Ficus religiosd) are tied. In some places, a 
pole of the Odina Wodier tree is said to be set up, and 
afterwards planted near the house, to see if it will grow. 


Near the marriage dais a pit is dug, into which are 
thrown nine kinds of grain, and milk is poured. The 
milk-post is supported on a grindstone painted with tur- 
meric stripes, washed with milk and cow's urine, and 
worshipped, with the Valluvan as the celebrant priest. 
The post is then set up in the pit by three men and two 
women. A string with a bit of turmeric (kankanam) is 
tied to the milk-post, and to it and the dais boiled rice 
is offered. Kankanams are also tied round the wrists 
of the bride and bridegroom. The bridegroom's party 
go to the temple or house where the bride is awaiting 
them, bringing with them a brass lamp, vessel and cup, 
castor and gingelly oil, combs, confectionery, turmeric, 
and betel leaves. The procession is headed by Paraiyans 
beating tom-toms, and blowing on trumpets. When 
their destination is reached, all take their seats on mats, 
and the various articles which they have brought are 
handed over to the headman, who returns them. The 
bride is then taken in procession to the marriage house, 
which she is the first to enter. She is then told to touch 
with her right hand some paddy, salt, and rice, placed in 
three pots inside the house. Touching them with the left 
hand would be an evil omen, and every mishap which 
might occur in the family would be traced to the new 
daughter-in-law. The bride and bridegroom next go 
through the nalugu ceremony, and some of the relations 
proceed with the ceremony of bringing sand (manal vari 
sadangu). A cousin of the bridegroom and his wife take 
three pots called sal karagam and kuresal, and repair to 
a river, tank (pond) or well, accompanied by a few men 
and women. The pots are set on the ground, and close 
to them are placed a lamp, and a leaf with cakes, betel 
leaves and nuts set on it. Puja (worship) is made to 
the pots by burning camphor and breaking cocoanuts. 


The Vettiyan then says " The sun, the moon, the pots, 
and the owner of the girl have come to the pandal. So 
make haste and fill the pot with water." The woman 
dips a small pot in water, and, after putting some sand 
or mud into a big pot, pours the water therein. The pots 
are then again worshipped. After the performance of 
the nalugu, the bridal couple go through a ceremony for 
removing the evil eye, called "sige kazhippu." A leaf 
oS. Ficus religiosa, with its tail downwards, is held over 
their foreheads, and all the close relations pour water 
over it, so that it trickles over their faces ; or seven cakes 
are placed by each of the relations on the head, shoulders, 
knees, feet, and other parts of the body of the bridegroom. 
The cakes are subsequently given to a washerman. The 
parents of the bridal couple, accompanied by some of 
their relations, next proceed to an open field, taking with 
them the cloths, tali, jewels, and other things which have 
been purchased for the wedding. A cloth is laid on the 
ground, and on it seven leaves are placed, and cooked 
rice, vegetables, etc., heaped up thereon. Puja is done, 
and a goat is sacrificed to the ancestors (Tangalanmar). 
By some the offerings are made to the village goddess 
Pidari, instead of to the ancestors. Meanwhile the bride- 
groom has been taken in procession round the village 
on horseback, and the headmen have been exchanging 
betel in the pandal. On the bridegroom's return, he and 
the bride seat themselves on planks placed on the dais, 
and are garlanded by their maternal uncle with wreaths of 
Nerium odorum flowers. The maternal uncle of the bride 
presents her with a ring. In some places, the bride is 
carried to the dais on the shoulders or in the arms of the 
maternal uncle. While the couple are seated on the dais 
the Valluvan priest lights the sacred fire (homam), and, 
repeating some words in corrupt Sanskrit, pours gingelly 
V1-7 B 


oil into the fire. He then does puja to the tali, and 
passes it round, to be touched and blessed by those 
assembled. The bridegroom, taking up the tali, shows 
it through a hole in the pandal to the sky or sun, and, on 
receipt of permission from those present, ties it round the 
neck of the bride. Thin plates of gold or silver, called 
pattam, are then tied on the foreheads of the contracting 
couple, first by the mother-in-law and sister-in-law. 
With Brahman and non- Brahman castes it is customary 
for the bride and bridegroom to fast until the tali has 
been tied. With Paraiyans, on the contrary, the rite is 
performed after a good meal. Towards the close of the 
marriage day, fruit, flowers, and betel are placed on a 
tray before the couple, and all the kankanams, seven in 
number, are removed, and put on the tray. After burn- 
ing camphor, the bridegroom hands the tray to his wife, 
and it is exchanged between them three times. It is 
then given to the washerman. The proceedings termi- 
nate by the two going with linked hands three times 
round the pandal. On the following day, the bride's 
relatives purchase some good curds, a number of plantains, 
sugar and pepper, which are mixed together. All as- 
semble at the pandal, and some of the mixture is given 
to the headman, the newly married couple, and all who 
are present. All the articles which constitute the bride's 
dowry are then placed in the pandal, and examined by 
the headman. If they are found to be correct, he pro- 
claims the union of the couple, and more of the mixture 
is doled out. This ceremony is known as sambandham 
kural or sambandham piriththal (proclaiming relation- 
ship). Two or three days after the marriage, the 
bridegroom goes to the house of the bride, and remains 
there for three days. He is stopped at the entrance 
by his brother-in-law, who washes his feet, puts rings on 


the second toe, and keeps on pinching his feet until he 
has extracted a promise that the bridegroom will give 
his daughter, if one is born to him, in marriage to the 
son of his brother-in-law. The ring is put on the foot 
of the bride by her maternal uncle at the time of the 
marriage ceremony, after the wrist threads have been 
removed. In some places it is done by the mother-in- 
law or sister-in-law, before the tali is tied, behind a screen. 

Polygamy is not common among the Paraiyans, but 
Mr. Clayton has known a few instances in which a 
Paraiyan had two regularly married wives, each wearing 
a tali. But it is very common to find that a Paraiyan 
has, in addition to his formally married wife, another 
woman who occupies a recognised position in his house- 
hold. The first wears the tali. The other woman does 
not, but is called the second wife. She cannot be dis- 
missed without the sanction of the paracheri council. 
The man who maintains her is called her husband, and 
her children are recognised as part of his family. Mr. 
Clayton believes that a second wife is usually taken only 
when the more formally married wife has no children, or 
when an additional worker is wanted in the house, or to 
help in the daily work. Thus a horsekeeper will often 
have two wives, one to prepare his meals and boil the 
gram for the horse, the other to go out day by day to 
collect grass for the horse. The Tamil proverb " The 
experience of a man with two wives is anguish " applies 
to all these double unions. There are constant quarrels 
between the two women, and the man is generally 
involved, often to his own great inconvenience. It is 
quite common for a Paraiyan to marry his deceased wife's 
sister, if she is not already married. 

A Paraiya woman usually goes to her mother's house 
a month or two before she expects the birth of her first 


child, which is born there. Sometimes a medicine 
woman (maruttuvacchi), who possesses or professes some 
knowledge of drugs and midwifery, is called in, if the 
case is a bad one. Generally her barbarous treatment is 
but additional torture to the patient. Immediately after 
the birth of the child, the mother drinks a decoction called 
kashayam, in which there is much ginger. Hence the 
Tamil proverb " Is there any decoction without ginger 
in it ? " About a week after the birth, the mother, as a 
purificatory ceremony, is rubbed with oil and bathed. 

Among Sudras there is a family ceremony, to which 
the Sanskrit name Simanta has been assigned, though it 
is not the true Simanta observed by Brahmans. It 
occurs only in connection with a first pregnancy. The 
expectant mother stands bending over a rice mortar, 
and water or human milk is poured on her back by her 
husband's elder or younger sister. Money is also given 
to buy jewels for the expected child. The ceremony is 
of no interest to anyone outside the family. Hence the 
proverb " Come, ye villagers, and pour water on this 
woman's back." This is used when outsiders are called in 
to do for a member of a family what the relatives ought to 
do. This ceremony is sometimes observed by Paraiyans. 
Among Brahmans it is believed to affect the sex of 
the child. It should be added that it is firmly believed 
that, if a woman dies during pregnancy or in childbed, 
her spirit becomes an exceedingly malignant ghost, and 
haunts the precincts of the village where she dies. 

A widow does not wear the tali, which is removed at 
a gathering of relatives some days after her husband's 
death. " The removal of the tali of a widow," Mr. 
Francis writes,* " is effected in a curious manner. On 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


the sixteenth day after the husband's death, another 
woman stands behind the widow, who stoops forward, 
and unties the tali in such a way that it falls into a 
vessel of milk placed to receive it. Adoption ceremonies 
are also odd. The adoptee's feet are washed in turmeric 
water by the adopter, who then drinks a little of the 
liquid. Adoption is accordingly known as manjanir 
kudikkiradu, or the drinking of turmeric water, and the 
adopted son as the manjanir pillai, or turmeric water 
boy." Paraiya women do not wear any distinctive dress 
when they are widows, and do not shave their heads. 
But they cease to paint the vermilion mark (kunkumam) 
on their foreheads, which married women who are living 
with their husbands always wear, except at times when 
they are considered ceremonially unclean. The widow 
of a Paraiyan, if not too old to bear children, generally 
lives with another man as his wife. Sometimes she is 
ceremonially married to him, and then wears the tali. 
A widow practically chooses her own second husband, 
and is not restricted to any particular relative, such as 
her husband's elder or younger brother. The practice 
of the Levirate, by which the younger brother takes the 
widow of the elder, is non-existent as a custom among 
Paraiyas, though instances of such unions may be found. 
Indeed the popular opinion of the Tamil caste credits 
the Paraiyan with little regard for any of the restric- 
tions of consanguinity, either prohibitive or permissive. 
"The palmyra palm has no shadow: the Paraiyan has 
no regard for seemliness " is a common Tamil proverb. 

It is stated, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, 
that "the Paraiyans have been but little affected by 
Brahmanical doctrines and customs, though in respect to 
ceremonies they have not escaped their influence. Parai- 
yans are nominally Saivites, but in reality they are demon 


worshippers." The Homakulam tank in the South 
Arcot district is reputed to be the place where Nanda, 
the Paraiyan saint, bathed before he performed sacrifice 
preparatory to his transfiguration to Brahmanhood,* 
Brahman influence has scarcely affected the Paraiyan 
at all, even in ceremonial. No Paraiyan may enter any 
Vaishnava or Saiva temple even of the humblest sort, 
though of course his offerings of money are accepted, 
if presented by the hands of some friendly Sudra, even 
in such exclusive shrines as that of Sri Vira Raghava 
Swami at Tiruvallur. It is true that Paraiyans are often 
termed Saivites, but there are many nominal Vaishnavas 
among them, who regularly wear the namam of Vishnu on 
their foreheads. The truth is that the feminine deities, 
commonly called devata, have been identified by Hindus 
with the feminine energy of Siva, and thus the Paraiyans 
who worship them have received the sectarian epithet. 
As a matter of fact, the wearing of the namam of Vishnu, 
or the smearing of the ashes of Siva, is of no meaning to 
a Paraiyan. They are neither Saivites nor Vaishnavites. 
Like all other Dravidians, the Paraiyans acknowl- 
edge the existence of a supreme, omnipresent, personal 
spiritual Being, the source of all, whom they call Kadavul 
(He who is). Kadavul possesses no temples, and is 
not worshipped, but he is the highest conception of 
Paraiya thought. Paraiyans worship at least three 
classes of godlings or devata, generally called the 
mothers (amma). Sometimes they are worshipped as 
the virgins (Kanniyamma) or the seven virgins. These 
mothers may be worshipped collectively in a group. 
They are then symbolised by seven stones or bricks, 
perhaps within a little enclosure, or on a little platform 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 






in the Paraiya hamlet, or under a margosa {Melia 
Azadirachtd) tree, or sheltered by a wattle hut, or even 
by a small brick temple. This temple is universally 
known as the Amman Koil. More usually, one parti- 
cular mother is worshipped at the Paraiya shrine. She 
is then called the grama devata, or village goddess, of 
the particular hamlet. The names of these goddesses are 
legion. Each village claims that its own mother is not 
the same as that of the next village, but all are supposed 
to be sisters. Each is supposed to be the guardian of 
the boundaries of the cheri or gramam where her temple 
lies, sometimes of both gramam and cheri. She is 
believed to protect its inhabitants and its livestock from 
disease, disaster and famine, to promote the fecundity of 
cattle and goats, and to give children. In a word, she 
is called the benefactress of the place, and of all in it 
who worship her. The following are a few of the names 
of these village tutelary deities : — 

Ellamma, goddess of the boundary, worshipped by 
Tamil and Telugu Paraiyans. 

Mungilamma, bamboo goddess. 

Padeiyattal or Padeiyacchi. 

Parrapotamma, a Telugu goddess supposed to cure 
cattle diseases. 

Pidariyamma, sometimes called Ellei Pidari. 
The symbol of the goddess may be a conical stone, 
or a carved idol. Occasionally a rude figure of the bull 
Nandi, and an iron trident mark the shrine. A lamp is 
often lighted before it at night. 

The ceremonial of worship of all classes of devata is 
very simple. The worshipper prostrates himself before 
the symbol of the deity, whether one stone, seven stones, 
or an image. He anoints it with oil, smears it with 
saffron, daubs it with vermilion, garlands it with flowers 


(Nerium odorum by preference), burns a bit of camphor, 
and circumambulates the shrine, keeping his right side 
towards it. On special occasions he breaks cocoanuts, 
kills fowls, goats or sheep, of which the two last must be 
killed at one blow, pours out their blood, perhaps offers a 
little money, and goes his way, satisfied that he has done 
his best to propitiate the devata whom he has honoured. 

Special shrines attain very great fame. Thus the 
goddess Bavaniyammal of Periyapalayam, some sixteen 
miles from Madras, is well known, and crowds come to 
her annual festival. Paraiyans, Pallis, and Chakkilians 
form the majority of the worshippers, but of late years 
Sudras and even Brahmans are to be found at her shrine. 
The homage rendered to her is twofold. Her worshippers 
sacrifice some thousands of sheep on the river bank 
outside her temple, and, entirely divesting themselves of 
their garments, and covering themselves with bunches of 
margosa leaves, go round the temple. Except on the 
five Sundays, usually in July and August, on which the 
festival is held, the shrine is forsaken, and the goddess 
is said to be a vegetarian ; but on the five festival 
Sundays she is said to be as greedy for flesh as a leather- 
dresser's (Chakkiliyan) wife. 

Two goddesses hold a position distinct from the 
mothers as a group, or as tutelary goddesses. These are 
Gangammal and Mariyattal, and their peculiarity is that 
they are itinerant deities. Gangammal is often described 
as the goddess of cholera, and Mariyattal, as the god- 
dess of small-pox, though both diseases are frequently 
ascribed to the latter. Mariyattal is worshipped under 
the names of Poleramma and Ammavaru by Telugus. 
For instance, near Arcotkuppam in the North Arcot 
district, a festival is held in honour of Gangammal in the 
Tamil month Vaikasi (May-June), in which Sudras join. 


The main feature of the festival is the boiling of new 
rice as at Pongal. Men also put on women's clothes, 
and perform grotesque dances. In the same way, in 
the ten days' festival in honour of Mariyattal held at 
Uttaramallur during the Tamil month Avani (August), 
the goddess is carried about by washermen (Vannan), 
who perform a kind of pantomime (vilas) in her honour. 
There is a curious belief that these goddesses (or 
Gangammal, if they are distinguished) must travel along 
roads and paths, and cannot go across country, and 
that they cannot pass over the leaves of the margosa 
or the stems of the plant called in Tamil perandei ( Vilis 
quadrangularis). Consequently, when cholera is about, 
and the goddess is supposed to be travelling from village 
to village seeking victims, branches of margosa and long 
strings of perandei are placed on all the paths leading 
into the gramam or cheri. Sometimes, also, leaves of the 
margosa are strung together, and hung across the village 
street. These are called toranam. 

Besides the deities already referred to, there are a 
number of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins (pey or pisasu), 
whom Paraiyans propitiate. Mathureiviran and Vira- 
badran are, for example, two well-known demons. 

Among Tamil Paraiyans there are families in almost 
every village, who hold a kind of sacerdotal rank in 
the esteem of their fellows. They are called Valluvans, 
Valluva Pandarams, or Valluva Paraiyans. Their posi- 
tion and authority depend largely on their own astuteness. 
Sometimes they are respected even by Brahmans for 
their powers as exorcists. It is often impossible to see 
any difference between the Valluvans and the ordinary 
Paraiyans, except that their houses are usually a little 
apart from other houses in the cheri. They take a 
leading part in local Paraiya festivals. At marriages 


they pronounce the blessing when the tali is tied round 
the bride's neck. 

In cases of supposed possession by demons, or by 
the mothers, the Valluvan is consulted as to the meaning 
of the portent, and takes part in driving the spirit out of 
the victim, sometimes using violence and blows to com- 
pel the spirit to deliver its message and be gone. The 
Census Report, 1901, states that Valluvans do not eat 
or intermarry with other sections of the Paraiyans. Mr. 
Clayton is unable to confirm this, and is inclined to doubt 
whether it is generally true. 

The dead are buried as a rule, but sometimes the 
corpses are burnt. A portion of the village waste land 
is allotted for the purpose. Only Paraiyans are buried 
in it. The funeral rites are very simple. The corpse is 
carried on a temporary litter of palm leaf mats and 
bamboos, wrapped in a cotton cloth, which is a new one 
if it can be afforded, and interred or burnt. About the 
third or fifth day after death, the pal sadangu, or milk 
ceremony, should take place, when some milk is poured 
out by the next-of-kin as an offering to the spirit of the 
deceased. This spirit is then supposed to assume a 
sort of corporeity, and to depart to the place of respite 
till fate decrees that it be re-born. This ceremony is 
accompanied by a family feast. On the fifteenth day 
after death, another family gathering is held, and food is 
offered to the spirit of the dead person. This ceremony 
is called Karumantaram, or expiatory ceremony. Occa- 
sionally, for some months after the death, a few flowers 
are placed on the grave, and a cocoanut is broken over 
it ; and some attempt is even made to recognise the 
anniversary of the date. But there is no regular custom 
and it is probably an imitation of Brahmanical usages. 
The ordinary Paraiyan's conception of life after death is 


merely a vague belief that the departed soul continues 
its existence somewhere. He has no ordered eschatol- 
ogy. If a first-born male child dies, it is buried close 
to or even within the house, so that its corpse may not 
be carried off by a witch or sorcerer, to be used in magic 
rites, as the body of a first-born child is supposed to 
possess special virtues. It is noted by Mr. H. A. Stuart * 
that " the Tangalans profess to have once been a very 
respectable class, and wear the sacred thread at weddings 
and funerals, while the other divisions never assume it." 
The following note on the death ceremonies of the 
Paraiyans at Coimbatore was supplied by Mr. V. Govin- 
dan. If the deceased was a married man, the corpse 
is placed in a sitting posture in a booth made of twigs 
of margosa and milk-hedge {^Euphorbia Tirucalli), and 
supported behind by a mortar. The widow puts on all 
her ornaments, and decorates her hair with flowers. She 
seats herself on the left side of the corpse, in the hands 
of which some paddy (unhusked rice) or salt is placed. 
Taking hold of its hands, some one pours the contents 
thereof into the hands of the widow, who replaces them 
in those of the corpse. This is done thrice, and the 
widow then ties the rice in her cloth. On the way to 
the burial ground (sudukadu), the son carries a new pot, 
the barber a pot of cooked rice and brinjal {Solanum 
Melongend) fruits and other things required for doing 
puja. The Paraiyan in charge of the burial ground 
carries a fire-brand. The mats and other articles 
used by the deceased, and the materials of which the 
booth was made, are carried in front by the washerman, 
who deposits them at a spot between the house of the 
deceased and the burial ground called the idukadu, which 

♦ Manual of the North Arcot district. 


is made to represent the shrine of Arichandra. Ari- 
chandra was a king, who became a slave of the Paraiyans, 
and is in charge of the burial ground. At the idukadu 
the corpse is placed on the ground, and the son, going 
thrice round it, breaks the pot of rice near its head. 
The barber makes a mark at the four corners of the 
bier, and the son places a quarter anna on three of the 
marks, and some cowdung on the mark at the north-east 
corner. The widow seats herself at the feet of the 
corpse, and another widowed woman breaks her tali 
string, and throws it on the corpse. Arrived at the 
grave, the gurukal (priest) descends into it, does puja and 
applies vibhuti (sacred ashes) to its sides. The body- 
is lowered into it, and half a yard of cloth from the 
winding-sheet is given to the Paraiyan, and a quarter of 
a yard to an Andi (religious mendicant). The grave is 
filled in up to the neck of the corpse, and bael {^gle 
Marmelos) leaves, salt, and vibhuti are placed on its 
head by the gurukal. The grave is then filled in, and a 
stone and thorny branch placed at the head end. As 
the son goes, carrying the water-pot, three times round 
the grave, the barber makes a hole in the pot, which is 
thrown on the stone. The son and other relations bathe 
and return to the house, where a vessel containing milk 
is set on a mortar, and another containing water placed 
at the door. They dip twigs of the pipal {Ficus religi- 
osa) into the milk, and throw them on the roof. They 
also worship a lighted lamp. On the thii?d day, cooked 
rice, and other food for which the deceased had a special 
liking, are taken to the grave, and placed on plantain 
leaves. Puja is done, and the crows are attracted to the 
spot. If they do not turn up, the gurukal prays, and 
throws up water three times. On the seventeenth day, 
the son and others, accompanied by the gurukal, carry 


a new brick and articles required for puja to the river. 
The brick is placed under water, and the son bathes. 
The articles for puja are spread on a plantain leaf, before 
which the son places the brick. Puja is done to it, and 
a piece of new cloth tied on it. It is then again carried 
to the water, and immersed therein. The ceremonial 
concludes with the lighting of the sacred fire (homam). 

The death ceremonies of the Paraiyan, as carried 
out in the Chingleput district, are thus described by Mr. 
K. Rangachari. The corpse is washed, dressed, and 
carried on a bier to the burning or burial ground. Just 
before it is placed on the bier, all the relations, who are 
under pollution, go round it three times, carrying an iron 
measure round which straw has been wrapped, and con- 
taining a light. On the way to the burial ground, the son 
or grandson scatters paddy, which has been fried by the 
agnates. A pot of fire is carried by the Vettiyan. At 
a certain spot the bier is placed on the ground, and the 
son goes round it, carrying a pot of cooked rice, which 
he breaks near the head of the corpse. This rice should 
not be touched by man or beast, and it is generally buried. 
When the corpse has been placed on the pyre, or laid in 
the grave, rice is thrown over it by the relations. The 
son, carrying a pot of water, goes thrice round it, and 
asks those assembled if he may finish the ceremony. On 
receiving their assent, he again goes three times round 
the corpse, and, making three holes in the pot, throws it 
down, and goes home without looking back. If the dead 
person is unmarried, a mock marriage ceremony, called 
kanni kaziththal (removing bachelorhood), is performed 
before the corpse is laid on the bier. A garland of arka 
{Calotropis gigantea) flowers and leaves is placed round 
its neck, and balls of mud from a gutter are laid on the 
head, knees, and other parts of the body. In some 


places a variant of the ceremony consists in the erection 
of a mimic marriage booth which is covered with leaves of 
the arka plant, flowers of which are placed round the neck 
as a garland. On the third day after death, cooked rice, 
milk, fruits, etc., are offered to the soul of the departed on 
two leaves placed one near the head, the other near the feet 
of the corpse. Of these, the former is taken by men, and 
the latter by women, and eaten. The karmanthiram, or 
final ceremony, takes place on the twelfth or sixteenth 
day. All concerned in it proceed to a tank with cooked 
rice, cakes, etc. A figure of Ganesa (Pillayar) is made 
with mud, and five kalasam (vessels) are placed near it. 
The various articles which have been brought are set out 
in front of it. Two bricks, on which the figures of a man 
and woman are drawn, are given to the son, who washes 
them, and does puja to them after an effigy has been 
made at the waterside by a washerman. He then says "I 
gave calves and money. Enter Kailasam (the abode of 
Siva). Find your way to paralokam (the other world). 
I gave you milk and fruit. Go to the world of the dead. 
I gave gingelly i^Sesamum) and milk. Enter yamalokam 
(abode of the god of death). Eleven descendants on the 
mother's side and ten on the father's, twenty-one in all, 
may they all enter heaven." He then puts the bricks 
into the water. On their return home, the sons of the 
deceased are presented with new clothes. 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore dis- 
trict, that, when a man dies, camphor is not burnt in the 
house, but at the junction of three lanes. Some Parai- 
yans, on the occurrence of a death in a family, put a pot 
filled with dung or water, a broomstick and a fire-brand 
at some place where three roads meet, or in front of 
the house, in order to prevent the ghost from returning. 
An impression of the dead man's palm is taken in 


I— I 




cow-dung, and stuck on the wall. In some places, e.g., 
at Tirutturaippundi, the Paraiyans observe a ceremony 
rather like that observed by Valaiyans and Karaiyans on 
the heir's return from the burning-ground on the second 
day. Three rice -pounders and a chembu (vessel) of 
water are placed outside the door, and the heir sits on 
these, chews a piece of fish, spits thrice, and then goes 
and worships a light burning in the house. 

Tattooing is practiced on women and children of 
both sexes, but not on grown men. With children it 
is confined to a simple line drawn down the forehead. 
Among Paraiyans who have become Roman Catholics, 
the device is sometimes a cross. Women, like those of 
other Tamil castes, frequently have their arms elabo- 
rately tattooed, and sometimes have a small pattern 
between the breasts. A legend runs to the effect that, 
many years ago, a Paraiyan woman wished her upper 
arms and chest to be tattooed in the form of a bodice. 
The operation was successfully carried out till the 
region of the heart was reached, and then a vulnerable 
part was punctured by the needles, with the result that 
the woman died. Whence has arisen a superstitious 
objection to tattooing of the breasts. 

Sometimes an arei-mudi, shaped like the leaf of the 
puvarasa tree {Thespesia populnea), made of silver or 
silvered brass, is tied round the waist of female infants 
as an ornament. Small, flat plates of copper, called 
takudu, are frequently worn by children. One side is 
divided into sixteen squares, in which, what look like 
the Telugu numerals nine, ten, eleven and twelve are 
engraved. On the other side a circle is drawn, which is 
divided into eight segments, in each of which a Telugu 
letter is inscribed. This charm is supposed to protect 
the wearer from harm coming from any of the eight 


cardinal points of the Indian compass. Charms, in the 
form of metal cylinders, are worn for the same purpose 
by adults and children, and procured from some exor- 
cist. Similar or the same charms are worn to avoid 
the baneful influence of the evil eye. To prevent this 
from affecting their crops, Paraiyans put up scarecrows in 
their fields. These are usually small broken earthen pots, 
whitewashed or covered with spots of whitewash, or 
even adorned with huge clay noses and ears, and made 
into grotesque faces. They are set up on the end of 
poles, to attract the eye of the passer-by from the crop. 
For the same reason more elaborate figures, made of 
mud and twigs, in human shape, are sometimes set up. 
Before wells are sunk, a charmer (mantirakkaran) is called 
in to recite spells and find a likely spot, cocoanuts are 
broken, and the milk thereof poured out to propitiate the 
gods of the place. 

The Paraiyans are very largely employed as domestic 
servants by Europeans. And it has been said that "so 
necessary to the comfort of the public is the Paraiya 
that orthodox Brahman gentlemen may be seen em- 
ploying Paraiya coachmen and syces (footmen). The 
Christian Paraiya has become ' Native Christian ' caste, 
and has achieved, among other things, University 
honours, the wearing of the surplice, and the rod of the 
pedagogue." * Vast numbers of Paraiyans are agricul- 
tural labourers. Till a score or so of years ago some 
were actually bond serfs, and there are instances on 
record in quite recent years, which show that it was no 
infrequent thing for a Paraiyan to mortgage his son as 
security for the repayment of a loan. Some Paraiya 
families own much land. 

* A. P. Smith. Malabar Quart : Review, 1904. 


It is noted by Mr. Francis* that in the South Arcot 
district, "their numbers, and the comparative wealth 
which ground-nut {Arachis hypogced) cuhivation has 
brought them, have caused them to take a rather better 
social position here than elsewhere, and they are actually 
beginning to copy the social ways of the higher castes, 
sometimes burning their dead (though those who have 
died of cholera or small-pox are still always buried), 
marrying their children when infants, and looking with 
disfavour on the remarriage of widows." 

Current Tamil speech and custom divide the land- 
less labouring Paraiyans into padiyal and kuliyal. The 
padiyal is definitely and hereditarily attached to some 
land-holding family in the Hindu grama. He can work 
for no one else, and cannot change masters. His privi- 
lege is that in times of drought and famine his master 
must support him. The kuliyal is a mere day labourer, 
only employed, and therefore only receiving pay (kuli) 
when required. He has no claim for maintenance in 
seasons of scarcity, and, though no man's serf, is worse 
off than the padiyal. 

Three communal servants, the grave-digger (Vetti- 
yan), watchman (Talaiyari), and scavenger (Toti) are all 
Paraiyans. The Vettiyan officiates when a corpse is 
buried or burned. Hence the proverb against meddling 
in what ought to be left to some one else : — " Let the 
Vettiyan and the corpse struggle together. " The Rev. 
H. Jensen notes t in connection with this proverb that 
" when fire is applied to the pyre at the burning-ground, 
it sometimes happens that the muscles of the corpse 
contract in such a fashion that the body moves, and the 
grave-digger has to beat it down into the fire. It looks 

• Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 
t Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs, 1897. 
VI-8 B 


as if the two were engaged in a struggle. But no one 
else should interfere. The grave-digger knows his own 
work best." 

It is noted by Mr. H. A. Stuart* that "among the 
lower class of Vellam Paraiyans, who are the village 
totis, the following legend is current, accounting for the 
perquisites which they get for performing the menial 
work of the village. When Adi Sesha was supporting 
the earth, he became weary, and prayed to Siva for 
assistance. Siva ordered a Paraiyan to beat upon his 
drum, and cry ' Let the ripe decay.' The Paraiyan 
enquired what should be his reward, and was granted the 
following privileges, viz., mankuli (reward for burning 
corpses), san tuni (a span cloth), vaykkarisi (the rice in the 
corpse's mouth), pinda soru (morsel of boiled rice), and 
suttu kuli (fee for bringing firewood). This seemed to 
the Paraiya very little, and so, to increase the death-rate 
and consequently his perquisites, he cried * Let the ripe 
and the unripe decay.' The swami (god) remonstrated 
with him, for the result of his cry was that children and 
the middle-aged among men died. The man pleaded 
poverty, and was given four additional privileges, viz., a 
merkal to measure grain, a rod to measure the ground, 
a scythe to cut grass, and the privilege of carrying thfe 
karagam-pot when annually running over the village 
boundary. All the above privileges still belong to the 
village vettis, who receive fees for performing the duties 
referred to in the legend. " 

Some Paraiyans eat carrion, and Mr. Clayton has 
known them dig up a buffalo which had been buried 
some hours, and eat its flesh. It is said that even the 
lowest Paraiyans will not eat the flesh of cows, but leave 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 


that to the leather-dressers (Chakkiliyans). Mr. Stuart, 
however, states * that " the Konga Paraiyans and the 
Vellam Paraiyans, who do scavenging work, will eat cows 
that have died a natural death, while Tangalans only 
eat such as have been slaughtered. " In time of famine, 
the Paraiyans dig into ant-hills to rob the ants of their 
store of grass seed. This is called pillarisi or grass rice. 
There are many proverbs in Tamil, which refer to 
Paraiyans, from which the following are selected : — 

(i) If a Paraiyan boils rice, will it not reach God ? 
i.e., God will notice all piety, even that of a Paraiyan. 

(2) When a Paraiya woman eats betel, her ten 
fingers (will be daubed with) lime. The Paraiya woman 
is a proverbial slut. 

(3) Though a Paraiya woman's child be put to 
school, it will still say Ayye. Ayye is vulgar Tamil for 
Aiyar, meaning Sir. 

(4) The palmyra palm has no shadow ; the Parai- 
yan has no decency. A contemptuous reference to 
Paraiya morality. 

(5) The gourd flower and the Paraiyan's song 
have no savour. Paraiyans use this saying about their 
own singing. 

(6) Though seventy years of age, a Paraiyan will 
only do what he is compelled. 

(7) You may believe a Paraiyan, even in ten ways ; 
you cannot believe a Brahman. Almost the only saying 
in favour of the Paraiyan. 

(8) Is the sepoy who massacred a thousand horse 
now living in disgrace with the dogs of the paracheri } 

(9) Paraiyan's talk is half-talk. A reference to 
Paraiya vulgarisms of speech. 

op cii. 


(lo) Like Paraiya and Brahman, i.e., as different 
as possible. 

(ii) Not even a Paraiyan will plough on a full 
moon day. 

(12) Paracheri manure gives a better yield than 
any other manure. 

(13) The drum is beaten at weddings, and also at 
funerals. Said, according to the Rev. H. Jensen, of a 
double-dealing unreliable person, who is as ready for 
good as for evil. 

(14) The harvest of the Paraiya never comes home. 
The term Paraiya, it may be noted, is applied to the 

common dog of Indian towns and villages, and to the 
scavenger kite, Milvus Govinda. 

The Paraiyans are included by Mr. F. S. Mullaly in 
his * Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presi- 
dency. ' " The local criminals, " he writes, " throughout 
the Presidency in all villages are the Paraiyas, and, 
though they cannot be considered de facto a criminal 
tribe, yet a very large proportion of the criminals of the 
Presidency are of this caste, notable among them being 
the Vepur Paraiyas of South Arcot." For an account of 
these Vepur Paraiyas and their methods I must refer the 
reader to Mr. Mullaly's description thereof. Concerning 
these criminal Paraiyans, Mr. Francis writes as follows.* 
" There is one branch of them in Suttukulam, a hamlet 
of Cuddalore. They are often known as the Tiruttu 
(thieving) Paraiyans. The crimes to which they are most 
addicted are house-breaking and the theft of cattle, sheep 
and goats, and the difficulty of bringing them to book is 
increased by the organised manner in which they carry on 
their depredations. They are, for example, commonly in 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


league with the very heads of villages, who ought to be 
doing their utmost to secure their arrest, and they have 
useful allies in some of the Udaiyans of these parts. It 
is commonly declared that their relations are sometimes 
of a closer nature, and that the wives of Vepur Paraiyans 
who are in enforced retirement are cared for by the 
Udaiyans. To this is popularly attributed the undoubted 
fact that these Paraiyans are often much fairer in com- 
plexion than other members of that caste." It is said to 
be traditional among the Vepur Paraiyans that the talis 
(marriage badges) of Hindu women and lamps should 
not be stolen from a house, and that personal violence 
should not be resorted to, except when unavoidably 
necessary for the purpose of escape or self-defence. 

In a kindly note on the Paraiya classes, Surgeon- 
Major W. R. Cornish sums them up as follows.* " A 
laborious, frugal, and pleasure-loving people, they are the 
very life-blood of the country, in whatever field of labour 
they engage in. The British administration has freed 
them, as a community, from the yoke of hereditary 
slavery, and from the legal disabilities under which they 
suffered ; but they still remain in the lowest depths of 
social degradation. The Christian missionaries, to their 
undying honour be it said, have, as a rule, persevered in 
breaking through the time-honoured custom of treating 
the Paraiya as dirt, and have admitted him to equal rights 
and privileges in their schools and churches, and, what- 
ever may be the present position of the Paraiya com- 
munity in regard to education, intelligence, and ability to 
hold a place for themselves, they owe it almost wholly to 
the Christian men and women who have given up their 
lives to win souls for their great Master." 

♦ Madras Census Report, 1871. 


Paraiyans of Malabar, Cochin and Travan- 

COre.— For the following note on the Paraiyans or 
Paraiyas of Cochin I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha 
Krishna Aiyar."^ Paraiyas belong to a very low caste 
of the agrestic serfs of Cochin, next to Pulayas in order 
of social precedence. They will eat at the hands of all 
castes, save Ulladans, Nayadis, and Pulayas. But ortho- 
dox Pulayas have to bathe five times, and let blood flow, 
in order to be purified from pollution if they touch a 
Paraiya. In rural parts, a Paraiya's hut may be seen far 
away on the hill-side. At the approach of a member of 
some higher caste, the inmates run away to the forest. 
They cannot walk along the public roads, or in the 
vicinity of houses occupied by the higher castes. It is 
said that they at times steal the children of Nayars, and 
hide them in the forest, to bring them up as their own. 
They are extremely filthy in person and habits. They 
very rarely bathe, or wash their bodies, and a cloth, 
purchased at harvest time, is worn till it falls to pieces. 
They will eat the flesh of cattle, and are on this account 
despised even by the Pulayas. They are their own 
barbers and washermen. 

A legend runs to the effect that Vararuchi, the famous 
astrologer, and son of a Brahman named Chandragupta 
and his Brahman wife, became the King of Avanthi, and 
ruled till Vikramaditya, the son of Chandragupta by his 
Kshatriya wife, came of age, when he abdicated in his 
favour. Once, when he was resting under an ashwastha 
tree [Ficus religiosa), invoking the support of the deity 
living therein, he overheard the conversation of two 
Gandarvas on the tree, to the effect that he would marry 
a Paraiya girl. This he prevented by requesting the 

• Monograph Eth. Survey. Cochin. 


king to have her enclosed in a box, and floated down 
a river with a nail stuck into her head. The box was 
taken possession of by a Brahman, who was bathing 
lower down, and, on opening it, he found a beautiful girl, 
whom he considered to be a divine gift, and regarded 
as his own daughter. One day the Brahman, seeing 
Vararuchi passing by, invited him to mess with him, and 
his invitation was accepted on condition that he would 
prepare eighteen curries, and give him what remained 
after feeding a hundred Brahmans. The Brahman was 
puzzled, but the maiden, taking a long leaf, placed there- 
on a preparation of ginger corresponding to eighteen 
curries, and with it some boiled rice used as an offering 
at the Vaiswadeva ceremony, as the equivalent of the 
food for Brahmans. Knowing this to be the work of 
the maiden, Vararuchi desired to marry her, and his wish 
was acceded to by the Brahman. One day, while con- 
versing with his wife about their past lives, he chanced 
to see a nail stuck in her head, and he knew her to be the 
girl whom he had caused to be floated down the stream. 
He accordingly resolved to go on a pilgrimage with his 
wife, bathing in rivers, and worshipping at temples. At 
last they came to Kerala, where the woman bore him 
twelve sons, all of whom, except one, were taken care of 
by members of different castes. They were all remark- 
able for their wisdom, and believed to be the avatar 
(incarnation) of Vishnu, gifted with the power of 
performing miracles. One of them was Pakkanar, the 
great Malayalam bard. Once, it is said, when some 
Brahmans resolved to go to Benares, Pakkanar tried to 
dissuade them from so doing by telling them that the 
journey to the sacred city would not be productive of 
salvation. To prove the fruitlessness of their journey, 
he plucked a lotus flower from a stagnant pool, and gave 


it to them with instructions to deliver it to a hand 
which would rise from the Ganges, when they were to 
say that it was a present for the goddess Ganga from 
Pakkanar. They did as directed, and returned with news 
of the miracle. Pakkanar then led them to the stagnant 
pool, and said " Please return the lotus flower, Oh ! 
Ganga," when it appeared in his hand. Pakkanar is said 
to have earned his living by the sale of the wicker-work, 
which he made. One day he could not sell his baskets, 
and he had to go starving. A neighbour, however, gave 
him some milk, which Pakkanar accepted, and told the 
donor to think of him if ever he was in danger. The 
neighbour had a married daughter living with him, who, 
some time after, was dying of snake-bite. But her father 
remembered the words of Pakkanar, who came to the 
rescue, and cured her. One of Pakkanar's brothers was 
named Narayana Branthan, who pretended to be a lunatic, 
and whose special delight was in rolling huge stones up 
a hill, for the pleasure of seeing them roll down. Though 
the son of a Brahman, he mixed freely with members of 
all castes, and had no scruple about dining with them. 
A Nambutiri Brahman once asked him to choose an aus- 
picious day for the performance of his son's upanayanam 
(thread ceremony). He selected a most inauspicious 
day and hour, when the boy's family assembled and 
asked Narayana whether the rite should be celebrated. 
He told the father to look at the sky, which became 
brilliantly illuminated, and a Brahman was seen changing 
his sacred thread. The omen being considered favour- 
able, the investiture ceremony was proceeded with. 

The Paraiyas of Malabar and Cochin are celebrated 
for their knowledge of black magic, and are consulted in 
matters relating to theft, demoniacal influence, and the 
killing of enemies. Whenever anything is stolen, the 



Paraiya magician is consulted. Giving hopes of the 
recovery of the stolen article, he receives from his client 
some paddy (rice) and a few panams (money), with which 
he purchases plantain fruits, a cocoanut or two, toddy, 
camphor, frankincense, and rice flour. After bathing, 
he offers these to his favourite deity Parakutti, who is 
represented by a stone placed in front of his hut. Rattling 
an iron instrument, and singing till his voice almost fails, 
he invokes the god. If the lost property does not turn 
up, he resorts to a more indignant and abusive form of 
invocation. If the thief has to be caught, his prayers 
are redoubled, and he becomes possessed, and blood 
passes out of his nose and mouth. When a person is 
ill, or under the influence of a demon, an astrologer and 
a magician named by the former are consulted. The 
magician, taking a cadjan (palm) leaf or copper or silver 
sheet, draws thereon cabalistic figures, and utters a man- 
tram (prayer). Rolling up the leaf or sheet, he ties it 
to a thread, and it is worn round the neck in the case 
of a woman, and round the loins in the case of a man. 
Sometimes the magician, taking a thread, makes several 
knots in it, while reciting a mantram. The thread is 
worn round the neck or wrist. Or ashes are thrown 
over a sick person, and rubbed over the forehead and 
breast, while a mantram is repeated. Of mantrams, the 
following may be cited as examples. " Salutation to 
god with a thousand locks of matted hair, a thousand 
hands filling the three worlds and overflowing the same. 
Oh ! Goddess mother, out of the supreme soul, descend. 
Oh ! Sundara Yaksha (handsome she-devil), Swaha (an 
efficacious word)." ** Salutation to god. He bears a 
lion on his head, or is in the form of a lion in the upper 
part of his body. In the mooladhara sits Garuda, the 
lord of birds, enemy of serpents, and vahana (vehicle) of 


Vishnu. He has Lakshmana to the left, Rama to the 
right, Hanuman in front, Ravana behind, and all around, 
above, below, everywhere he has Sri Narayana Swaha. 
Mayst thou watch over or protect me." 

The Paraiyans are notorious for the performance of 
marana kriyakal, or ceremonies for the killing of enemies. 
They resort to various methods, of which the following 
are examples : — 

(i) Make an image in wax in the form of your 
enemy. Take it in your right hand, and your chain of 
beads in your left hand. Then burn the image with due 
rites, and it shall slay your enemy in a fortnight. 

(2) Take a human bone from a burial-ground, and 
recite over it a thousand times the following mantra : — 
" Oh, swine-faced goddess ! seize him, seize him as a 
victim. Drink his blood ; eat, eat his flesh. Oh, image 
of imminent death ! Malayala Bhagavathi." The bone, 
thrown into the enemy's house, will cause his ruin. 

Odi or oti cult (breaking the human body) is the 
name given to a form of black magic practiced by the 
Paraiyans, who, when proficient in it, are believed to be 
able to render themselves invisible, or assume the form 
of a bull, cat, or dog. They are supposed to be able to 
entice pregnant women from their houses at dead of 
night, to destroy the foetus in the womb, and substitute 
other substances for it ; to bring sickness and death 
upon people ; and so to bewitch people as to transport 
them from one place to another. A Paraiya who wishes 
to practice the cult goes to a guru (preceptor), and, 
falling at his feet, humbly requests that he may be 
admitted into the mysteries of the art. The master 
first tries to dissuade him, but the disciple persists in 
the desire to learn it. He is then tried by various tests 
as to his fitness. He follows his master to the forests 


and lonely places at midnight. The master suddenly 
makes himself invisible, and soon appears before him 
in the form of a terrible bull, a ferocious dog, or an 
elephant, when the novice should remain calm and 
collected. He is also required to pass a night or two 
in the forest, which, according to his firm belief, is full 
of strange beings howling horribly. He should remain 
unmoved. By these and other trials, he is tested as 
to his fitness. Having passed through the various 
ordeals, the guru initiates him into the brotherhood 
by the performance of puja on an auspicious day to 
his favourite Nlli, called also Kallatikode Nili, through 
whose aid he works his black art. Flesh and liquor are 
consumed, and the disciple is taught how to prepare 
pilla thilam and angola thilam, which are the potent 
medicines for the working of his cult. The chief ingre- 
dient in the preparation of pilla thilam, or baby oil, is 
the sixth or seventh month's foetus of a primipara, who 
should belong to a caste other than that of the sorcerer. 
Having satisfied himself that the omens are favourable, 
he sets out at midnight for the house of the woman 
selected as his victim, and walks several times round 
it, waving a cocoanut shell containing a mixture of lime 
and turmeric water (gurusi), and muttering mantrams to 
secure the aid of the deity. He also draws yantrams 
(cabalistic devices) on the ground. The woman is com- 
pelled to come out of her house. Even if the door is 
locked, she will bang her head against it, and force it 
open. The sorcerer leads her to a retired spot, strips 
her naked, and tells her to lie flat on the ground. This 
she does, and a vessel made of a gourd {Lagenaria) is 
placed close to her vagina. The uterus then contracts, 
and the foetus emerges. Sometimes, it is said, the uterus 
is filled with some rubbish, and the woman instantly dies. 


Care is taken that the foetus does not touch the ground, 
as the potency of the drug would thereby be ruined. 
The foetus is cut to pieces, and smoked over a fire. It 
is then placed in a vessel provided with a few holes, 
below which is another vessel. The two are placed in 
a larger receptacle filled with water, which is heated 
over a fire. From the foetus a liquid exudes, which is 
collected in the lower vessel. A human skull is then 
reduced to a fine powder, which is mixed with a por- 
tion of the liquid (thilam). With the mixture a mark is 
made on the forehead of the sorcerer, who rubs some of it 
over various parts of his body, and drinks a small quantity 
of cow-dung water. He then thinks that he can assume 
the form of any animal he likes, and achieve his object 
in view, be it murder or bodily injury. The magic oil, 
called angola thilam, is extracted from the angola tree 
(Alangium Lamarckii), which bears a very large number 
of fruits. One of these is believed to be endowed with 
life and power of motion, and to be capable of descend- 
ing and returning to its original position on dark nights. 
Its possession can be attained by demons, or by an expert 
watching at the foot of the tree. When it has been 
secured, the extraction of the oil involves the same opera- 
tions as those for extracting the pilla thilam, and they 
must be carried out within seven hours. A mark made 
on the forehead with the oil enables its wearer to achieve 
his desires, and to transform himself into some animal. 

When a person has an enemy whom he wishes to 
get rid of, the Paraiya magician is consulted, and the 
name of the enemy given to him. Identifying his resi- 
dence, the Paraiya starts off on a dark night, and anyone 
whom he comes across is at once dispatched with a blow. 
The victim comes out of his house in a state of stupe- 
faction, and the magician puts him to death either by a 


blow on the head, or by suffocating him with two sticks 
applied to his neck. Odi cult is said to have been 
practiced till only a few years ago in the rural parts of the 
northern part of the State, and in the taluks of Palghat 
and Walluvanad in Malabar, and even now it has not 
entirely died out. But cases of extracting foetuses and 
putting persons to death are not heard of at the present 
day, owing to the fear of Government officials, landlords, 
and others. The story is current of a Nayar village offi- 
cial, who had two fine bullocks, which a Mappila wished 
to purchase. The Nayar, however, was unwilling to part 
with them. The Mappila accordingly engaged some 
men to steal the animals. Availing themselves of the 
absence of the Nayar from home, the robbers went to his 
house, where they saw a Paraiya and his wife practicing 
the odi cult, and compelling a young woman to come 
out of the house, and lie on the ground. Catching hold 
of the Paraiya, the robbers tied him to a tree, and secured 
him. The man and his wife were beaten, and the would- 
be robbers rewarded with a present of the bullocks. 

The Paraiyans have no temples of their own, but 
worship Siva or Kali. According to a legend, in Treta- 
yuga (the second age), a Paraiya named Samvara, and 
his wife Pulini were living in a forest, and one day 
came across a Sivalinga (stone lingam) at a dilapidated 
temple, which they kept, and worshipped with offerings 
of flesh, and by smearing it with ashes from the burial- 
ground. On a certain day, no ashes were available, and 
the woman offered to have her body burnt, so that the 
ashes thereof might be used. With much reluctance 
her husband sacrificed her, and performed puja. Then 
he turned round to offer, as usual, the prasadam to his 
wife forgetting that she was dead, and he was surprised 
to see her standing before him, receiving his offering 


(prasadam), in flesh and blood. Highly pleased with 
their conduct, Siva appeared in person before them, and 
gave them absolution. 

In every small village in the rural parts, is a small 
Bhagavati temple, to the deity of which the Paraiyas are 
devotedly attached, and look to it for protection in times 
of cholera, small-pox, or other calamities. Kodungalur 
Bhagavati is their guardian deity, and they take part in 
the festivals (yela) at the shrine. A few days before the 
festival, a piece of cloth is given to the Velichapad 
(oracle), who dresses himself in it, wears a piece of red 
cloth round his neck, a peculiar dress around his loins, 
and ties a few small bells (chelamba) round his legs. 
Accompanied by others with drums and fife and a basket, 
he goes to every Nayar house daily for seven days, and 
receives presents of paddy, wherewith to defray the 
expenses of the festival. During the celebration thereof, 
the Velichapad and others go to a shed at a distance 
from the temple (kavu), some dressed up as ghosts, and 
dance and sing, to the accompaniment of a band, in 
honour of the deity. 

In a note on the Paraiyans of Malabar, Mr. T. K. 
Gopaul Panikkar writes* that "at certain periods of the 
year the Paraiyas have to assume the garb of an evil 
deity, with large head-dresses and paintings on the body 
and face, and tender cocoanut leaves hanging loose 
around their waists, all these embellishments being of 
the rudest patterns. With figures such as these, terror- 
striking in themselves, dancing with tom-toms sounding 
and horns blowing, representing the various temple 
deities, they visit the Nair houses, professing thereby 
to drive off any evil deities that may be haunting their 

* Malabar and its Folk, 1900. 


neighbourhood. After their dues have been given to 
them, they go their ways ; and, on the last day, after 
finishing their house-to-house visits, they collect near 
their special temples to take part in the vela tamasha 

On the first of every month, a ceremony called 
kalasam is performed on behalf of the spirits of the 
departed. Fish, cooked meat, rice, parched grain, plan- 
tain fruits, cocoanuts, toddy, and other things, are placed 
on a leaf with a lighted lamp in front of it. A prayer 
is then uttered, expressing a hope that the ancestors 
will partake of the food which has been procured for 
them with much difficulty, and protect the living. One 
man, becoming inspired, acts the part of an oracle, and 
addresses those assembled. 

The following story is narrated concerning the origin 
of the Elankunnapuzha temple on the island of Vypin. 
When some Paraiyas were cutting reeds, one of them 
discovered a remarkable idol and fell into a trance, under 
the influence of which he informed the Raja of Cochin 
that the idol originally belonged to the Trichendur 
temple in Tinnevelly, and that he must build a shrine 
for it. This was accordingly done, and to the Paraiyan 
who discovered the idol a daily allowance of rice, and a 
larger quantity of rice during the annual temple festival 
were given. In return, he had to supply cadjan (palm 
leaf) umbrellas used at the daily procession, and bamboo 
baskets required for washing the rice offered to the idol. 
These allowances were received by the Perum or big 
Paraiyan up to a recent date, even if he is not receiving 
them at the present day. 

When a Paraiyan woman is delivered, she is secluded 
for two weeks in a temporary hut erected at a short dis- 
tance from the dwelling hut. On the tenth day, some male 
VI -9 


member of the family goes to his Brahman or Nayar 
landlord, from whom he receives some milk, which is 
sprinkled over the woman and her infant. She can then 
come to the verandah of her home, and remains there 
for five days, when she is purified by bathing. The 
temporary hut is burnt down. 

The dead are buried, and the corpse, after being laid 
in the grave, is covered with a mat. 

The Paraiyas are engaged in the manufacture of 
wicker baskets, bamboo mats, and cadjan umbrellas. 
They also take part in all kinds of agricultural work, 
and, when ploughing, will not use buffaloes, which are 
regarded as unclean beasts, the touch of which neces- 
sitates a ceremonial ablution. 

Many Paraiyans become converts to Christianity, 
and thereby receive a rise in the social scale, and a 
freedom from the disabilities under which their lowly 
position in the social scale places them. 

In 1829 several natives of Malabar were charged 
with having proceeded, in company with a Paraiyan, to the 
house of a pregnant woman, who was beaten and other- 
wise ill-treated, and with having taken the foetus out 
of her uterus, and introduced in lieu thereof the skin 
of a calf and an earthen pot. The prisoners confessed 
before the police, but were acquitted, mainly on the 
ground that the earthen pot was of a size which rendered 
it impossible to credit its introduction during life. 

In 1834 the inhabitants of several villages in Malabar 
attacked a village of Paraiyans on the alleged ground 
that deaths of people and cattle, and the protracted 
labour of a woman in childbed, had been caused by the 
practice of sorcery by the Paraiyans. They were beaten 
inhumanely, with their hands tied behind their backs, so 
that several died. The villagers were driven, bound, into 


a river, immersed under water so as nearly to produce 
suffocation, and their own children were forced to rub 
sand into their wounds. Their settlement was then razed 
to the ground and they were driven into banishment. 

The following extract is taken from a note on the 
Paraiyans of Travancore by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 
The Paraiyas may be broadly divided into two classes, 
viz., the Tamil-speaking Paraiyas of the east coast who 
are found in considerable numbers in the southern 
taluks, and the indigenous Paraiyas, who mostly abound 
in Central Travancore, avoiding the sea-coast taluks. 
The latter only are considered here. The titles owned 
by some are Velan conferred upon certain families for 
their skill in magic ; Panikkan ; and Muppan. The 
Paraiyas may be mainly divided into four divisions, viz., 
Vellam (water or jaggery?), Vel (a lance), Natuvile 
(middle), and Pani (work). The last is considered to 
be the lowest in the social scale, and members thereof 
are not admitted into the houses of the other divisions. 
One theory of the origin of the Paraiyas is that they 
were formerly one with the Pulayas, from whom they 
separated on account of their eating beef. The Paraiyas 
have a dialect of their own, with which the Pulayas are 
not familiar, and which would seem to be worthy of 
study. In the Keralolpathi, they are classed as one 
of the sixteen hill tribes. Concerning their origin the 
following tradition is current. They were originally 
Brahmans, but, on certain coparceners partitioning the 
common inheritance, the carcase of a cow, which was 
one of the articles to be partitioned, was burnt as being 
useless. A drop of oil fell from the burning animal 
on to one of the parties, and he licked it up with his 
tongue. For this act he was cast out of society, and 
his descendants, under the name of Paraiyas, became 

VI-9 B 


cow-eaters. Pakkanar is said to have been born a 
Paraiyan, though subsequent tradition honours him with 
Brahmanical parentage. 

The houses of the Paraiyas are, Hke those of the 
Pulayas, mean thatched sheds, with a couple of cocoa- 
nut leaves often serving as the wall between one room 
and another. The village sites are shifted from place 
to place, according to the exigencies of the inhabitants 
thereof. The Paraiyas imbibe freely, and toddy is the 
drink most scrupulously prescribed for those who are 
under a vow. Like the Pulayas, the Paraiyas work 
in the rice fields and cocoanut gardens, and are 
employed in hill cultivation, and the manufacture of 
wicker baskets. The sun god is their principal deity, 
and in his name all solemn oaths are uttered. It is 
believed that the Brahman who originally became a 
Paraiya cursed Brahma. To remove the evil effects of 
the curse, the sun gave to his descendants as objects 
of worship forty-eight thousand gods and eight special 
deities. A certain portion of the house is regarded as 
their own, and to them offerings of beaten rice and 
toddy are made on the first of every month, and, if con- 
venient, every Tuesday and Friday. To these deities 
small shrines are dedicated, whereat the priests, on the 
28th of Makaram (January- February), become inspired, 
and answer questions concerning the future put to them 
by the assembled Paraiyas. The priests are known as 
Kaikkarans, and belong ordinarily to the lowest or Pani 

Adultery, be it said to the credit of the Paraiyas, is 
an offence which is severely punished. The man is fined, 
and the erring woman has to jump over a fire which is 
blazing in a deep pit. This ordeal recalls to mind the 
smarthavicharam of the Namburi Brahman. 


Pollution, on the occurrence of the first monthly- 
period, lasts for seven days. The headmen and elders, 
called Jajamanmar and Karanavanmar, are invited to 
attend, and direct four women of the village to take the 
girl to a hut erected at a considerable distance from the 
house. This hut is called pachchakottilil kutiyiruttuka, 
or seating a person within a hut made of green leaves. 
On the fourth day the girl has a bath, and the Kaikkaran 
waves paddy and flowers in front of her. On the morn- 
ing of the eighth day the shed is burnt down, and the 
place occupied by it cleansed with water and cow-dung. 
The girl bathes, and is thus rendered free from pollution. 
A woman, during her menses, should remain at a 
distance of sixty-four feet from others. 

The Paraiyas observe two marriage rites, the tali- 
kettu and sambandham. The former ceremony must be 
performed before the girl reaches puberty, and the tali- 
tier is her maternal uncle's or paternal aunt's son. The 
Kaikkaran invites at least four headmen to be present, 
and they prescribe the manner in which the ceremony is 
to be performed. The auspicious time for the marriage 
celebration is fixed by a Kaniyan (astrologer), and, on 
the day before the wedding, the Kaikkaran invites the 
Paraiyas of the village to be present at the tunniruttal, 
or erection of the pandal (booth). All those who attend 
are presented with betel, tobacco, and a liberal allowance 
of toddy. The next item in the programme is the 
vachchorukkal, or placing beaten and cooked rice, flowers, 
toddy, and other things in the pandal, under the direction 
of the Kaikkaran. Some of the assembled males then 
sing a song called maranpattu, or song of the god of 
love. The bride then becomes inspired, and dances, 
while the sorcerer rolls out mystic hymns. On the 
following morning, the bridegroom goes to the home of 


the bride in procession, and is led to a wooden seat in 
the centre of the pandal, where he is joined by the bride, 
who seats herself on his left. He then ties the minnu 
(marriage badge) round her neck, and retires with her 
to the maniyara, or bedroom, where they remain together 
for some minutes. On the final day of the ceremonies, 
the bride is bathed. 

When a Kaikkaran dies, a conch shell is buried with 
the corpse. Once a year, and on some new moon day, 
offerings are made to all the deceased ancestors. 

The Paraiyas have a dramatic entertainment called 
Paraiyan Kali, in which the performer plays his part, 
standing on a mortar, to the accompaniment of music. 

Paraiyas are required to keep at a distance of 128 
feet from Brahmans, i.e., double the distance required of 
a Pulaya. But they will not receive food at the hands of 
the Pulayas. 

In a further note on the " Paraiya Caste in Travan- 
core," the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows.* " They 
were formerly bought and sold like cattle, starved, 
flogged * like buffaloes,' made to work all day for a little 
rice, and kept at a distance as polluted ; and they still 
are in a position of subservience and deep degradation, 
not vitally differing from that of the Pulayas and Vedars. 
One particular characteristic of this caste, and most offen- 
sive to others, is that they eat the flesh of bullocks and 
cows left dead by the roadside. They cut it up, and 
bear it away ; what they leave the vultures and dogs 
devour. This disgusting practice is to a great extent 
disappearing among the Christian castes. The Paraiyas 
of Nevandrum (Trivandrum ?) district live in clusters of 
huts, and eat the putrid flesh of dead cattle, tigers, and 

» Journ. Roy. As, Soc, XVI. 



other animals. Their girls are ' married ' when very- 
young for mere form to their cousins, but, when grown 
up, are selected by others, who give them a cloth, and 
live with them in concubinage. Cases of polygamy occur, 
and sometimes also of polyandry. They eat the seed 
of Ochlandra Rheedii, which abounds in an unusually 
dry season, as does also the bamboo. Jungle roots, 
land crabs, and snails form part of their food. Some of 
them have enough of rice at harvest time, but seldom at 
any other period of the year. They are zealous devil 
worshippers, their chief demons being Madan (the cow 
one), Rathachamandy Mallan (the giant) and Muvaratta 
Mallan, Karunkali (black kali), Chavus (departed spirits), 
Bhutham, Mantramurtti, and other Murttis (ghosts), 
with many other evil beings, to whom groves and altars 
are dedicated. The souls of their deceased ancestors 
are called Marutta (ghosts), for whose worship young 
cocoanut leaves are tied at the bottom of a tree, and 
a small shed is erected on poles, and decorated with 
garlands of flowers. Presents of cocoanuts, parched 
rice, and arrack are offered, and cocks killed in sacrifice. 
In the devil-dancing they use clubs and rattans, bells, 
handkerchiefs, and cloths dedicated to their deities. 
Other castes generally dread incurring the displeasure and 
malice of these deities. Sudras and Shanars frequently 
employ the Paraiya devil-dancers and sorcerers to exor- 
cise demons, search for and dig out magical charms 
buried in the earth by enemies, and counteract their 
enchantments ; and, in cases of sickness, send for them 
to beat the drum, and so discover what demon has 
caused the affliction, and what is to be done to remove it. 
Sometimes a present of a cow is given for those ser- 
vices. These pretended sorcerers are slightly acquainted 
with a few medicines, profess to cure snake-bite, and can 


repeat some tales of the Hindu gods. They also profess 
to discover thieves, who sometimes indeed through fear 
actually take ill, confess, and restore the property. One 
priest whom I knew used to pretend that he had a 
* bird devil ' in his possession, by which he could cast 
out other devils. On one occasion, however, when he 
made the attempt in the presence of a large concourse 
of Sudras and others, he utterly failed, and hurt himself 
severely by beating his chest with a cocoanut and leaping 
into the fire. He soon after resolved to abandon this 
course of life, and became a Christian. 

" After the wife's confinement, the husband is starved 
for seven days, eating no cooked rice or other food, only 
roots and fruits, and drinking only arrack or toddy. The 
shed, in which she was confined, is burnt down. 

" In cases of sickness, the diviner is first consulted 
as to its cause. He names a demon, and offerings are 
demanded of rice, fruits, flowers, and fowls. Being daily 
supplied with these articles, the diviner spreads cow- 
dung thinly over a small space in the yard, where he 
places the offerings on three plantain leaves, invokes the 
presence of the demons, dances and repeats mantras, 
looking towards the east. He catches the demon that 
is supposed to come in an old piece of cloth filled with 
flowers and parched rice, and carries both demon and 
offerings into the jungle, where, again preparing a spot 
as before, two torches are set, the food arranged, and, 
after further mantras, a fowl is sacrificed. He takes the 
whole afterwards for himself, gets a good meal, and is 
also paid twelve chuckrams (small silver coins) for the 

"In cases of small-pox, one who has had this 
disease is called in to attend. He takes the patient to 
a temporary hut in a lonely place, and is well paid, and 


supplied with all that he requires. Through fear, none 
of the relatives will go near. Should the patient die, 
the attendant buries him on the spot, performing the 
ceremonies himself, then comes to the house, repeats 
mantras, and waves his hands round the head of each 
to remove further alarm. If a woman with child dies, 
she is buried at a great distance away. Occasionally 
the remains of an aged man are burnt on a funeral pile, 
as being more honourable than burial, and providing 
some merit to the soul. 

** Let us pay a visit to one of the rural hamlets of the 
Kolam Paraiyans, a considerable sub-division of this 
caste. The cattle manure is saved, but handed over to 
the Sudra farmers. The Paraiyas plant a few trees 
around their settlement as otti (mortgage) and kuri- 
kanam (a kind of tenant right), then pay a sum to the 
Sudra landowner to permit them to enjoy the produce, 
as it is so difficult for them to get waste lands registered 
in their own name. Some have cleared lands, and possess 
a few cocoanut and betel-nut palms, mangoes, etc. They 
may have a few cattle also, and let out a milch cow to 
the shepherds at one rupee per month. They grow some 
vegetables, etc., in waste valley lands temporarily cleared 
and cultivated. They work in the rice fields, sowing, 
planting, and reaping, for which they are paid in paddy. 
During the slack season they work at making mats of 
Ochlandra Rheedii, for which the men bring loads of the 
reeds from the hills, and the women do the work of 
plaiting. This art they are said to have lesirnt from the 
Kanikar hill-men. 

" Some Paraiyas in Nanjinad have enjoyed ancestral 
property for six generations, and a few still have good 
properties. Titles were purchased for money of the 
Rajas of Travancore, e.g., Sambavan, an old name for 


Pandi Paraiyas. The Raja gave to such a headman a 
cane, and authority to claim a double allowance of betel, 
etc. He, however, had in his turn to give double at 
funerals and festivals to his visitors. This head Paraiyan 
would be met with drums and marks of honour by his 
people, and the arrangement would enable the Govern- 
ment to rule the Paraiyas more easily. It is said that 
some Raja, fleeing in war, hid himself in Paraiya huts at 
Changankadei, and was thereby saved, for which he gave 
them a small grant of land producing a few fanams 
annually, which they still enjoy. They have a tradition 
that, in M.E. 102 (A.D. 927), one Vanji Mannan Raja 
granted privileges to Paraiyas. During the war with 
Tippu, proclamation was made that every Paraiyan in 
this district must have a Nayar or master, and belong 
to some one or other. All who were not private 
property would be made slaves of the Sirkar (Govern- 
ment), which was greatly dreaded on account of the 
merciless oppression, and obliged to cut grass for the 
troops, and do other services. Many, therefore, became 
nominally slaves to some respectable man, asking it as a 
kindness to free them from Government slavery. Several 
respectable families begged the Namburi high priest, 
visiting Suchindram and other temples, to call them his 
slaves, for which they paid him one fanam a head per 
annum. This payment is still kept up. This priest 
conferred upon them additional benefits, for in their 
troubles and oppressions, he wrote to the Government, 
requiring from them justice and proper treatment. The 
slaves of the Namburi would also be treated with 
consideration on account of his sacred position and 
rank. These families, ' Potty slaves,' still intermarry 
only among themselves, as in this case the wife could not 
be claimed by a different owner from the husband's. 

i'ARAVA DE\lL-i)A.\CER. 


*' Lastly, as to the Paraiyas of North Travancore. 
Their condition seems lowest of all, as they enter further 
into the Malayalam country, and enjoy fewer opportu- 
nities of escape from caste degradation and from bitter 
servitude. ' Their own tradition,' the Rev. G. Matthan 
writes,* ' has it that they were a division of the Brah- 
mans, who were entrapped into a breach of caste by 
their enemies, through making them eat beef. They 
eat carrion and other loathsome things. The carcases of 
all domestic animals are claimed by them as belonging 
to them by right. They frequently poison cows, and 
otherwise kill them for the sake of their flesh. They 
are also charged with kidnapping women of the higher 
castes, whom they are said to treat in the most brutal 
manner. It is their custom to turn robbers in the month 
of February, in which month they pretend the wrong was 
done them, to break into the houses of the Brahmans 
and Nairs, and to carry away their women, children, and 
property, to which they are actuated more by motives of 
revenge than of interest, and to justify which they plead 
the injury their caste had received from these parties. 
In former times, they appear to have been able to per- 
petrate these cruelties almost with impunity, from the 
fear of which the people still betray great uneasiness, 
though the custom has now grown into disuse.' " 

Parasaivan.— A title of Occhans, who are Saivites, 
and priests at temples of Grama Devatas (village 
deities). In the Malayalam country Parasava occurs as 
a title of Variyar, a section of Ambalavasi. The word 
indicates the son of a Brahman by a Sudra woman. 

Parava.— The Tulu-speaking Paravas of South 
Canaraare, like the Nalkes and Pombadas, devil-dancers. 

* CM. Record, 1850. 

PAR A VAN 140 

and are further employed in the manufacture of baskets 
and umbrellas. Socially, they occupy a higher position 
than the Nalkes, but rank below the Pombadas. The 
bhuthas (devils) whose disguise they assume are Koda- 
manitaya and the Baiderukalu, who may not be 
represented by Nalkes ; and they have no objection to 
putting on the disguise of other bhuthas. Paravas are 
engaged for all kinds of devil-dances when Nalkes are not 
available. {See Nalke.) 

Paravan.— Concerning the origin of the Parava 
fishing community of the south-east coast, the following 
legends are current.* The author of the Historia Ecclesi- 
astica (published in Tamil at Tranquebar in 1 735) identifies 
them with the Parvaim of the Scriptures, and adds that, 
in the time of Solomon, they were famous among those 
who made voyages by sea ; but it does not appear that 
there is any solid foundation for this hypothesis. It is 
the general belief among the Paravas that their original 
country was Ayodhya, or Oudh ; and it appears that, 
previously to the war of Mahabharata, they inhabited 
the territory bordering on the river Yamuna or Jumna. 
At present they are chiefly found in the seaport towns of 
the Tinnevelly district in the south of India, and also in 
some of the provinces on the north-west coast of Ceylon. 
With regard to their origin, there is a variety as well as 
discordancy of opinions. Some of the Tantras represent 
them to be descended from a Brahman by a Sudra 
woman, while the Jatibedi Nul (a work of some celebrity 
among the Tamils) states them to be the offspring of a 
Kurava (or basket-maker) begotten clandestinely on 
a female of the Chetty (or merchant) tribe. But the 
Paravas have among themselves quite a different 

• Origin and History of the Paravas. Simon Casie Chitty. Journ. Roy, As, 
See, IV, 1837, 



tradition concerning their origin, which is founded on 
mythological fable. They relate that their progenitors 
were of the race Varuna (god of the sea), and on the 
occasion, when Siva had called Kartikeya (god of 
arms) into existence, for destroying the overwhelming 
power of the Asuras (evil spirits), they sprang up with 
him from the sacred lake Sarawana, and were like him 
nursed by the constellation Kartika. At the close of the 
last kalpa, when the whole earth was covered with a 
deluge, they constructed a dhoni or boat, and by it 
escaped the general destruction ; and, when dry land 
appeared, they settled on the spot where the dhoni 
rested ; hence it is called Dhonipura, or the city of the 
boat. The Paravas were once a very powerful people, 
and no doubt derived much of their ascendancy over 
other tribes from their knowledge of navigation. They 
had a succession of kings among them, distinguished by 
the title of Adiyarasen, some of whom seem to have 
resided at Uttara Kosamangay, called at that time the 
city of Mangay, a famous place of Hindu pilgrimage in 
the neighbourhood of Ramnad. In the Purana entitled 
Valevisu Puranam we meet with the following fable. 
Parvati, the consort of Siva, and her son Kartikeya, 
having offended the deity by revealing some ineffable 
mystery, were condemned to quit their celestial mansions, 
and pass through an infinite number of mortal forms, 
before they could be re-acrriritted to the divine presence. 
On the entreaty of Parvati, however, they were allowed, 
as a mitigation of the punishment, each to undergo but 
one transmigration. And, as about this time, Triambaka, 
King of the Paravas, and Varuna Valli his consort were 
making tapas (acts of devotion) to obtain issue, Par- 
vati condescended to be incarnated as their daughter 
under the name of Tiryser Madente. Her son Kartikeya, 


transforming himself into a fish, was roaming for some 
time in the north sea. It appears, however, that he left 
the north, and made his way into the south sea, where, 
growing to an immense size, he attacked the vessels 
employed by the Paravas in their fisheries, and threatened 
to destroy their trade. Whereupon the King Triambaka 
made a public declaration that whoever would catch the 
fish should have his daughter to wife. Siva, now assum- 
ing the character of a Parava, caught the fish, and 
became re-united to his consort. In that section of the 
Mahabharata entitled Adiparva it is said that the King 
of the Paravas, who resided on the banks of the Jumna, 
having found an infant girl in the belly of a fish, 
adopted her as his own daughter, giving her the name 
of Machchakindi, and that, when she grew up, she was 
employed, as was customary with the females of the 
Parava tribe, to ferry passengers over the river. On a 
certain day, the sage Parasara having chanced to meet 
her at the ferry, she became with child by him, and was 
subsequently delivered of a son, the famous Vyasa who 
composed the Puranas. Her great personal charms 
afterwards induced King Santanu of the lunar race to 
admit her to his royal bed, and by him she became the 
mother of Vichitravlrya, the grandsire of the Pandavas 
and Kauravas, whose contentions for the throne of 
Hastinapura form the subject of the Mahabharata. 
Hence the Paravas boast of being allied to the lunar 
race, and call themselves accoidingly, besides displaying 
at their wedding feasts the banners and emblems peculiar 
to it. In the drama of Alliarasany, who is supposed 
to have resided at Kudremalle on the north-west coast 
of Ceylon, the Paravas act a conspicuous part. We 
find them employed by the princess in fishing for pearls 
off the coast, and that under a severe penalty they were 


obliged to furnish her with ten kalams of pearls every 

It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that 
" there are in reality three castes which answer to the 
name Paravan, and which speak Tamil, Malayalam, and 
Canarese respectively. Probably all three are descended 
from the Tamil Paravans or Paratavans. The Tamil 
Paravans are fishermen on the sea coast. Their head- 
quarters isTuticorin, and their headman is called Talavan. 
They are mostly Native Christians. They claim to 
be Kshatriyas of the Pandyan line of kings, and will 
eat only in the houses of Brahmans. The Malayalam 
Paravans are shell collectors, lime burners and gymnasts, 
and their women act as midwives. Their titles are 
Kurup, Varakurup, and Nurankurup (nuru, lime). The 
Canarese Paravas are umbrella-makers and devil- 
dancers." It has been suggested that the west coast 
Paravas are the descendants of those who fled from 
Tinnevelly, in order to avoid the oppression of the 
M uhammadans. 

In the Census Report, 1871, the Paravas are sum- 
med up as being a fishing caste on the Madura and 
Tinnevelly coast, who " were found by the Portuguese, 
on their arrival in India, to be groaning under the 
Muhammadan yoke, and were assisted by the Portuguese 
on condition of their becoming Christians. This general 
conversion, for political ends, explains why the fishing 
population of the present day along the south-east coast 
is to a considerable extent Roman Catholic." It is 
noted by Mr. S. P. Rice * that the fishermen " who live 
in the extreme south are devout Catholics, and have 
preserved the Portuguese names by which their fathers 

* Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life, 1901. 

PAR A VAN 144 

were baptized into the Church, so that, incongruous as it 
sounds, Jose Fernandez and Maria Santiago are but 
humble folk, catching fish in a primitive way, with no 
more clothing on than a small loin cloth and a picture 
of the Virgin." 

Concerning the Paravas, Baldaeus * writes as follows. 
" The kingdom of Trevancor borders upon that of 
Coulang : All along the Sea-shore inhabit the Paruas, 
who being for the most part Christians, you see the 
Shore all along as far as Comoryn, and even beyond it to 
Tutecoryn, full of little Churches, some of Wood, others 
of Stone. These People owe their Conversion to 
Franciscus Xaverius, he being the first who planted the 
Principles of Christianity among them ; they being so 
much taken with the reasonableness of the Ten Command- 
ments, that they receiv'd Baptism in great numbers, tho 
an accidental Quarrel between a Parua and a Mahometan 

prov'd a strong Motive to their Conversion 

The Paruas being sorely oppress'd by the Mahometans, 
one John de Crus, a Native of Malabar, but who had been 
in Portugal, and honourably treated by John, the then 
king of Portugal, advised them to seek for Aid at Cochin 
against the Moors, and to receive Baptism. Accordingly 
some of the chief Men among them (call'd Patangatays 
in their Language) were sent upon that Errand to 
Cochin, where being kindly receiv'd, they (in honour of 
him who had given His Advice) took upon them the 
Sirname of Crus, a name still retain'd by most Persons 
of Note among the Paruas. In short, being deliver 'd 
from the Moorish Yoke, and the Pearl-fishery (which 
formerly belong'd to them) restor'd to the right Owners, 
above 20,000 of them receiv'd Baptism." 

* A description of ye East India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, 1703. 


"The commencement of the Roman Catholic 
Mission in Tinnevelly," Bishop Caldwell writes,* " dates 
from 1532, when certain Paravas, representatives of the 
Paravas or fishing caste, visited Cochin for the purpose 
of supplicating the aid of the Portuguese against their 
Muhammadan oppressors, and were baptized there by 
Michael Vaz, Vicar-General of the Bishop of Goa. The 
same ecclesiastic, with other priests, accompanied the 
fleet which sailed for the purpose of chastising the 
Muhammadans, and, as soon as that object was accom- 
plished, set about baptizing the Paravas all along the 
coast, in accordance with the agreement into which 
their representatives had entered. The entire Parava 
caste adopted the religion of their Portuguese deliverers 
and most of them received baptism. Some, however, 
did not receive baptism for some cause till Xavier's time, 
ten years afterwards. Xavier, on his arrival in the 
south, could not speak Tamil, and spent some months 
in committing to memory Tamil translations of the 
Creed, Lord's Prayer, Ave Maria, and Decalogue. He 
then proceeded to visit all the villages of the coast, bell 
in hand, to collect the inhabitants, and gave them Chris- 
tian instruction. The Paravas thus christianised — 
called generally at that time the Comorin Christians 
— inhabited thirty villages, and numbered, according to 
the most credible account, twenty thousand souls. 
These villages extended all the way along the coast at 
irregular intervals from Cape Comorin to the island 
promontory of Ramesvaram, if not beyond. It does not 
appear that any village in the interior joined in the 
movement." " It appears," Mr. Casie Chitty states, 
*' that the Portuguese treated the Paravas with great 

* History of Tinnevelly. 


kindness, permitted intermarriages, and even allowed 
them to assume their surnames, so that we find among 
them many Da Limas, Da Cruzs, Da Andrados, Da 
Canhas, etc. They gave the chief of the Paravas the 
title of Dom, and allowed him the exclusive right of 
wearing a gold chain with a cross as a badge of nobility. 
[The name of a recent hereditary chief or Jati Talaivan 
or Talaivamore of the Paravas was Gabriel de Cruz 
Lazarus Motha Vas.] As soon as the Dutch took 
possession of Tutocoryn (Tuticorin) and other adjacent 
towns where the Paravas are found, they employed Dr. 
Baldaeus and a few other ministers of their persuasion 
to suppress the Roman Catholic faith, and to persuade 
the Paravas to adopt their own in its stead ; but in this 
they met with a total failure, and were once very nearly 
bringing on a general revolt. Notwithstanding the 
intolerance of the Dutch with regard to the Romish 
Church, the Paravas still remember them with gratitude, 
as they afforded them the means of extensive livelihood 
by establishing in their principal town (Tutocoryn) a 
public manufactory of cloth, and thus maintaining a 
considerable working capital." 

Concerning the history of the Paravas, and their 
connection with the pearl-fisheries on the Indian 
side of the Gulf of Manaar, much information is given 
by Mr. J. Hornell,* from whose account the following 
extracts are taken. " When the Portuguese rounded 
Cape Comorin, they found the pearl fisheries of the 
Gulf of Manaar in the hands of the Paravas, whom 
tradition shows to have had control of this industry 
from time immemorial. Of the origin of these people 
we know extremely little. We know, however, that in 

♦ Report on the Indian Pearl Fisheries in the Gulf of Manaar, 1905. 


the old days, from 600 B.C. and for 1,500 years or 
more thereafter, the country now comprehended in 
the districts of Madura and Tinnevelly formed the great 
Tamil kingdom of Pandya. And, in the old Tamil 
work called the Kalveddu, the position of the pearl- 
fishing caste to this monarchy is incidentally mentioned 
in the following extract : ' Vidanarayanen Cheddi and 
the Paravu men who fished pearls by paying tribute to 
Alliyarasani, daughter of Pandya, king of Madura, who 
went on a voyage, experienced bad weather in the sea, 
and were driven to the shores of Lanka, where they 
founded Karainerkai and Kutiraimalai. Vidanarayanen 
Cheddi had the treasures of his ship stored there by the 
Paravas, and established pearl fisheries at Kadalihilapam 
and Kallachihilapam, and introduced the trees which 
change iron into gold.' In the Maduraik-kanchi the 
Paravas are described as being most powerful in the 
country round Korkai. * Well fed on fish and armed with 
bows, their hordes terrified their enemies by their dash- 
ing valour.' The Maduraik-kanchi describes Korkai as 
the chief town in the country of Parathavar and the seat 
of the pearl fishery, with a population consisting chiefly 
of pearl divers and chank cutters.* When the Pandyan 
kingdom was powerful, the Paravas had grants of certain 
rights from the monarchy, paying tribute from the 
produce of the fisheries, and receiving protection and 
immunity from taxation in return. The conditions 
under which the Paravas lived at the opening of the 
sixteenth century are graphically set forth in a report, 
dated 19th December, 1669, written by Van Reede and 
Laurens Pyh, respectively Commandant of the coast of 
Malabar and Canara and senior merchant and Chief of 

* Shell of the gastropod mollusc, Turbinella rapa. 


the sea-ports of Madura. Under the protection of those 
Rajas there lived a people, which had come to these 
parts from other countries * — they are called Paravas — 
they lived a seafaring life, gaining their bread by fishing 
and by diving for pearls ; they had purchased from the 
petty Rajas small streaks of the shore, along which they 
settled and built villages, and they divided themselves 
as their numbers progressively increased. In these 
purchased lands they lived under the rule of their own 
headmen, paying to the Rajas only an annual present, 
free from all other taxes which bore upon the natives so 
heavily, looked upon as strangers, exempt from tribute 
or subjection to the Rajas, having a chief of their own 
election, whose descendants are still called kings of the 
Paravas, and who drew a revenue from the whole people, 
which in process of time has spread itself from Quilon to 
Bengal. Their importance and power have not been 
reduced by this dispersion, for they are seen at every 
pearl fishery (on which occasions the Paravas assemble 
together) surpassing in distinction, dignity and outward 
honours all other persons there. The pearl fishery was 
the principal resource and expedient from which the 
Paravas obtained a livelihood, but as from their residence 
so near the sea they had no manner of disposing of 
their pearls, they made an agreement with the Rajas 
that a market day should be proclaimed throughout 
their dominions, when merchants might securely come 
from all parts of India, and at which the divers and 
sutlers necessary to furnish provisions for the multi- 
tude might also meet ; and, as this assemblage would 
consist of two different races, namely, the Paravas and 

• "This," Mr. Hornell writes, " is most improbable. They are more 
probably the descendants of Naga fishermen settled in the district prior to the 
immigration of Tamil invaders." 

149 PAR A VAN 

subjects of the Rajas, as well as strangers and travellers, 
two kinds of guards and tribunals were to be established 
to prevent all disputes and quarrels arising during this 
open market, every man being subject to his own judge, 
and his case being decided by him ; all payments were 
then also divided among the headmen of the Paravas, 
who were the owners of that fishery, and who hence 
became rich and powerful ; they had weapons and 
soldiers of their own, with which they were able to 
defend themselves against the violence of the Rajas or 
their subjects. The Moors who had spread themselves 
over India, and principally along the coasts of Madura, 
were strengthened by the natives professing Muhammad- 
anism, and by the Arabs, Saracens, and the privateers 
of the Sammoryn,* and they began also to take to pearl- 
diving as an occupation, but being led away by ill-feeling 
and hope of gain, they often attempted to outreach the 
Paravas, some of whom even they gained to their party 
and to their religion, by which means they obtained so 
much importance, that the Rajas joined themselves to 
the Moors, anticipating great advantages from the trade 
which they carried on, and from their power at sea ; and 
thus the Paravas were oppressed, although they fre- 
quently rose against their adversaries, but they always 
got the worst of it, until at last in a pearl fishery at 
Tutucoryn, having purposely raised a dispute, they fell 
upon the Moors, and killed some thousands of them, 
burnt their vessels, and remained masters of the country, 
though much in fear that the Moors, joined by the 
pirates of Calicut, would rise against them in revenge. 
The Portuguese arrived about this time with one ship 
at Tutucoryn ; the Paravas requested them for assistance, 

* The Zamorin of Calicut. 


and obtained a promise of it, on conditions that they 
should become Christians ; this they generally agreed to, 
and, having sent Commissioners with some of the Portu- 
guese to Goa, they were received under the protection 
of that nation, and their Commissioners returned with 
priests, and a naval force conveying troops, on which all 
the Paravas of the seven ports were baptized, accepted 
as subjects of the King of Portugal, and they dwindled 
thus from having their own chiefs and their own laws 
into subordination to priests and Portuguese, who how- 
ever settled the rights and privileges of the Paravas 
so firmly that the Rajas no longer dared interfere with 
them, or attempt to impede or abridge their prerogative ; 
on the contrary they were compelled to admit of sepa- 
rate laws for the Paravas from those which bound their 
own subjects. The Portuguese kept for themselves the 
command at sea, the pearl fisheries, the sovereignty over 
the Paravas, their villages and harbours, whilst the 
Naick of Madura, who was a subject of the King of the 
Carnatic, made himself master at this time of the lands 
about Madura, and in a short time afterwards of all the 
lower countries from Cape Comoryn to Tanjore, expel- 
ling and rooting out all the princes and land proprietors, 
who were living and reigning there ; but, on obtaining 
the sovereignty of all these countries, he wished to 
subject the Paravas to his authority, in which attempt 
he was opposed by the Portuguese, who often, not being 
powerful enough effectually to resist, left the land with 
the priests and Paravas, and went to the islands of 
Manaar and Jaffnapatam, from whence they sent coasting 
vessels along the Madura shores, and caused so much 
disquiet that the revenue was ruined, trade circumscribed, 
and almost annihilated, for which reasons the Naick 
himself was obliged to solicit the Portuguese to come 


back again. The Political Government of India, per- 
ceiving the great benefit of the pearl fishery, appointed 
in the name of the King of Portugal military chiefs and 
captains to superintend it, leaving the churches and their 
administration to the priests. Those captains obtained 
from the fisheries each time a profit of 6,000 rix-dollars 
for the king, leaving the remainder of the income from 
them for the Paravas ; but, seeing they could not retain 
their superiority in that manner over the people, which 
was becoming rich, luxurious, drunken, with prosperity, 
and with the help of the priests, who protected them, 
threatening the captains, which often occasioned great 
disorders, the latter determined to build a fort for the 
king at Tutucoryn, which was the chief place of all the 
villages ; but the priests who feared by this to lose much 
of their consequence as well as of their revenue, insisted 
that, if such a measure was proceeded with, they would 
all be ruined, on which account they urged on the people 
to commit irregularities, and made the Paravas fear that 
the step was a preliminary one to the making all of them 
slaves ; and they therefore raised such hindrances to the 
work that it never could be completed. 

"The Paravas," Mr. Hornell continues, "although 
the original holders of the fishery rights, had begun, 
prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, to feel the com- 
petition of the restless Muhammadan settlers on the 
coast, who, coming, as many must have done, from the 
coast of the Persian Gulf, knew already all there was to 
know of pearl-fishing. The descendants of these Arabs 
and their proselytes, known as Moros to the Portuguese, 
are the Moormen or Lubbais of to-day. Their chief 
settlement was Kayal, a town situated near the mouth 
of the river Tambrapurni, and which in Marco Polo's 
time (1290-91) was a great and noble city. It shared 


with Tuticorin for fully 500 years the honour of being 
one of the two great pearl markets of the coast — the one 
being the Moor, the other the Parava, head-quarters . 
. . . Menezes, writing in 1622, states that for many 
years the fisheries had become extinct because of the 
great poverty into which the Paravas had fallen. Tuti- 
corin, and the sovereignty of the pearl banks and of the 
Paravas, passed to the Dutch in 1658. 

In the report of the pearl fishery, 1708, the following 
entries occur in the list of free stones according to 
ancient customs : — 

96J to the Naick of Madura — 4 Xtian, 92J 
Moorish ; 

10 to Head Moorman of Cailpatnam — 5 Xtian, 
5 Moorish. 

60 to Theuver — 60 Moorish. 

185 to the Pattangatyns of this coast — all Xtian 

"The 185 stones," Mr. Hornell writes, "given to 
the Pattangatyns or headmen of the Paravas was in the 
nature of remuneration to these men for assistance in 
inspecting the banks, in guarding any oyster banks 
discovered, in recruiting divers, and in superintending 
operations during the course of the fishery .... 
In 1889, the Madras Government recorded its appre- 
ciation of the assistance rendered by the Jati Talaivan, 
and directed that his privilege of being allowed the take 
of two boats be continued. Subsequently, in 1891, the 
Government, while confirming the general principle of 
privilege remuneration to the Jati Talaivan, adopted the 
more satisfactory regulation of placing the extent of the 
remuneration upon the basis of a sliding scale, allowing 
him but one boat when the Government boats numbered 
30 or less, two for 31 to 60 boats, three for 61 to 90 


boats employed, and so on in this ratio. The value of 
the Jati Talaivan's two privilege boats in the 1890 
fishery was Rs. 1,424, in that of 1900 only Rs. 172," 
The Jadi Talaivan is said to have been denominated by 
the Dutch the prince of the seven havens. It is noted 
in the pearl fishery report, 1900, that " the Paravas are 
a constant source of trouble, both on the banks and in 
the kottoo (shed), where they were constantly being 
caught concealing oysters, which of course were always 
confiscated. Only one Arab was caught doing this, and 
his companions abused him for disgracing them." 

According to Mr. Casie Chitty, the Paravas are 
divided into thirteen classes , viz. : — 


Dealers in cloth. 

Divers for corals. 


Divers for pearl-oysters. 

Divers for chanks. 

Packers of cloth. 

Fishers who catch tortoises (turtles). 

Fishers who catch porpoises. 

Fishers who catch sharks and other fish. 

Palanquin bearers. 

Peons, who wait about the person of the Chief. 

Fishers, who catch crabs. 
It is noted by Canon A. Margoschis that the Parava 
females are famous for the excessive dilatation of the 
lobes of the ears, and for wearing therein the heaviest' 
and most expensive gold ear jewels made of sovereigns. 
Ordinary jewels are said to cost Rs. 200, but heavy 
jewels are worth Rs. 1,000 and even more. The longer 
the ears, the more jewels can be used, and this appears 
to be the rationale of elongated ears. 


In a recent account of a Parava wedding in high life, 
I read* that " the bride and bridegroom proceeded to 
the church at the head of an imposing procession, with 
music and banners. The service, which was fully choral, 
was conducted by a priest from their own community, 
after which the newly wedded couple went in procession 
to the residence of the Jati Talavamore, being escorted 
by their distinguished host in person. The Jati Talava- 
more, who wore a picturesque, if somewhat antiquated, 
robe, rode in a gorgeously upholstered palanquin, with 
banners, trophies, elephants, and other emblems of his 
high office. The bride, who was resplendent with 
diamonds, was becomingly attired in a purple Benares 
sari with gold floral designs, and wore a superb kincob 

In a note on the Para vans of Travancore, Mr. N. 
Subramani Aiyar writes that " they are found in most 
taluks of the State. The title sometimes used by them 
is Kuruppu. The Paravans of Chengannur and Tiru- 
vella call themselves Chakka, a word supposed by the 
castemen to be derived from slaghya or praiseworthy, 
but perhaps more correctly from Chakku, the basket 
carried by them in their hands. The Paravans are 
divided into numerous sections. In the south, the 
Tamil-speaking division follows the makkathayam, while 
all the Malayalam-speaking sections follow the maru- 
makathayam law of inheritance. There is also a 
difference in the dress and ornaments of the two sections, 
the former adopting the fashion of the east coast, and 
the latter that of the west. The Travancore Paravas 
are really one with the Tamil-speaking Paravas of the 
east coast. While most of them became converts to 

* Madras Mail, 1907. 


Christianity, in Travancore they have tried to preserve 
their separate existence, as they had already spread 
into the interior of the country before the proselytism 
of St. Xavier had made its enduring mark on the sea- 
coast villages. There is a curious legend about the 
settlement of the Chakkas in Central Travancore. 
Formerly, it would appear, they were Sudras, but, for 
some social offence committed by them, they were out- 
casted by the Edappalli chieftain. They were once 
great devotees of Sri Krishna, the lord of Tiruvaran- 
mulai in the Tiruvella taluk. The Paravas say further 
that they are descended from a high-caste woman married 
to an Izhava. The word Parava is accordingly derived 
from para, which in Sanskrit means foreign. The 
Paravas engage in various occupations, of which the 
most important in Central Travancore are climbing palm 
trees, catching fish, and washing clothes for Christians, 
Muhammadans, and depressed classes of Hindus. In 
South Travancore they make wicker baskets, rattan 
chairs, and sofas. Women, in all parts of the State, are 
lime and shell burners. They worship at the Aranmula 
temple, and pay special worship to Bhadrakali. Their 
priest is known as Parakuruppu, who, having to perform 
four different functions, is also entitled Nalonnukaran. 
It is his duty to preside at marriage and other rites, to 
be caste barber, to carry the news of death to the rela- 
tions, and to perform the priestly functions at funerals. 
The Paravas perform both the tali-kettu and samban- 
dham ceremonies." 

Parel Maddiyala. — Barbers of the Billavas. 

Parenga.^A sub-division of Gadaba. 

Pariah.— 5^^ Paraiyan. 

Parikimuggula.— Professional tattooing women in 
the Telugu country. The name refers to the patterns 


(parika or muggu), which they carry about with them, 
as designs for tattooing or to be drawn on the floor on 
occasions of festival and ceremonial. 

Parivara.^A sub-division of Bant. 

Parivaram.— It is noted, in the Census Report, 
1 89 1, that "this is a caste, which presents some 
difficulty. Parivaram means ' an army, a retinue,' and 
it is alleged that the people of this caste were formerly 
soldiers. Parivaram is found as a sub-division of Mara- 
van and Agamudaiyan, and the Parivaras of Madura 
and Tinnevelly are probably either a sub-division or an 
offshoot of the Mara vans. In Coimbatore, the only 
other district in which the Parivaras are numerous, they 
seem to be a sub-division of Toreyas, a fishing caste, 
and Mr. Rice, in his Gazetteer (of Mysore), says that 
Parivara is a synonym of Besta." Further, in the Census 
Report, 1 90 1, it is stated that "the word Parivaram 
means * a retinue,' and was probably originally only an 
occupational term. It is now-a-days applied to the 
domestic servants and the Tottiya zamindars in the 
districts of Coimbatore, Trichinopoly, Madura, and 
Tinnevelly, who are recruited from several castes, but 
have come to form a caste by themselves. The Kotaris 
of South Canara are a somewhat parallel case, and 
probably in time the Paiks among the Oriyas, and the 
Khasas, who are servants to the Telugu zamindars, will 
similarly develop into separate castes. The caste is 
said to require all its members of both sexes to do such 
service for its masters as they may require. Persons of 
any caste above the Paraiyas are admitted into its ranks, 
and the men in it may marry a woman of any other 
caste with the permission of the zamindar under whom 
they serve. They do not habitually employ Brahmans 
as priests, and in places the head of the Tottiyan caste 


conducts their ceremonies. Their titles are Maniya- 
garan and Servaigaran. The latter is also used by the 

The title Servaigaran or Servaikaran indicates that 
members of the caste do servai, or service, and the 
further title uliyakkaran is a sign that they do uliyam, 
or menial work. Servaikaran is also a title of the Tamil 
Ambalakarans, Agamudaiyans, Kalians, and Maravans, 
and the Canarese Toreyas, some of whom have settled 
in the Tamil districts of Madura and Coimbatore. It 
also occurs as a synonym of the Canarese Kotegaras. 

The illegitimate offspring of Maravans, Kalians, and 
Agamudaiyans, are said to become members of the 
mixed Parivaram caste. 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Madura 
district, that the Parivaram caste " is divided into two 
endogamous sections ; the Chinna Uliyam (little services) 
who are palanquin-bearers, and have the title Tevan, 
and the Periya Uliyam (big services), who are called 
Maniyakaran. The Kombai Parivarams, who are the 
servants of the Kappiliyan Zamindars of Kombai and 
Tevaram in the Periyakulam taluk, are a separate 
community, and do not intermarry with the others. 
When a girl attains maturity, she is kept for sixteen 
days in a hut, which is guarded at night by her relations. 
This is afterwards burnt down, and the pots she used 
are broken into very small pieces, as there is an idea 
that, if rain-water collects in any of them, the girl will 
be childless. Some of the ceremonies at weddings are 
unusual. On the first day, a man takes a big pot of 
water with a smaller empty pot on top of it, and marches 
three times round the open space in front of the bride's 
house. With him march the happy couple carrying a 
bamboo, to which are tied in a turmeric-coloured cloth 


the nine kinds of grain. After the third journey round, 
these things are put down at the north-east corner, and 
the marriage pandal is made by bringing three more 
poles of the same size. Afterwards the wrists of the 
couple are tied together, and bridegroom's brother 
carries the pair a short distance. They plunge their 
hands into a bowl of salt. Next the husband takes an 
ordinary stone rolling-pin, wraps it in a bit of cloth, and 
gives it to his wife, saying * Take the child ; I am 
going to the palace.* She takes it, replying ' Yes, give 
me the child, the milk is ready.' This has to be re- 
peated three times in a set formula. Several other odd 
rites are observed. Brahmans officiate, and the bride- 
groom's sister, as usual, ties the tali. Divorce is allowed 
to both sides. Adultery within the caste, or with the 
Zamindar, is tolerated. The husbands accept as their 
own any children their wives may bear to the Zamindar. 
Such children are called Chinna Kambalattar, and may 
marry with Tottiyans. But adultery outside the caste 
is most rigorously prohibited, and sternly punished with 
excommunication. A mud image of the girl who so 
offends is made, two thorns are poked into its eyes, and 
it is thrown away outside the village." 

Pariyari (doctor). — A name given to Tamil barbers 
(Ambattan), who practice as barber-surgeons. 

Pariyata. — Five individuals were recorded, at the 
census, 1901, under the name Pariyata or Parit, as mem- 
bers of a Bombay caste of washermen in South Canara. 

Parvatha. — Parvatha or Parvathala, meaning hill or 
mountain, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of 
Gamalla, Kapu, Mala, and Medara. 

Pasi.— A few members of this Bengal caste of toddy- 
drawers were returned at the Madras census, 1901. The 
name is said to be derived from pasa, a noose or cord, 


probably in reference to the sling used by them in 
climbing palm trees.* Pasi, meaning coloured glass 
beads, occurs as a sub-division of Idaiyan, and the 
equivalent Pasikatti as a sub-division of Valaiyan. 

Pasu.— Pasu (cow) or Pasula has been recorded as 
an exogamous sept of Boya, Mala and Madiga, and a 
sub-division of west coast Pulayans, who eat beef. 

Pasupula (turmeric). — Pasula or Pasupula is an 
exogamous sept of Boya and Devanga. Pasupuleti 
occurs as a sub-division of Balija. See Arashina, 

Patabonka.^A sub-division of Bonka. 

Patali.— An occupational name applied to priests of 
temples and bhuthasthanas (devil shrines), and Stanikas 
in South Canara. 

Patha (old). — A sub-division of Idiga, and a sept of 

Pathanchitannaya (green pea sept). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Bant. 

Pathi (cotton). — A sub-division of Kurubas, who 
use a wrist-thread made of cotton and wool mixed during 
the marriage ceremony. Also an exogamous sept of 
Gudala and Padma Sale. 

Pathinettan.— The Pathinettan or eighteen are car- 
penters in Malabar, who "are said to be the descendants 
of the smiths who remained to attend to the repairs to 
the eighteen temples, when the rest of the community 
fled to Ceylon, as related in the tradition of the origin of 
the Tiyans".t 

Paththar.— A section of Saivite Chettis, who wear 
the lingam, and have separated from the Acharapakam 
Chettis. They bury their dead in a sitting posture. A 
bamboo stick is tied to the kudumi (hair-knot) of the 

♦ Risley. Tribes and Castes of Bengal, 
t Gazetteer of the Malabar district. 


corpse, and the head pulled by its means towards the 
surface of the grave. Paththar is also a name given to 
goldsmiths by other castes. 

Patnaik.— A title of Karnam. 

Patnulkaran.— The Patnulkarans are described, in 
the Madras Census Report, 1901, as "a caste of foreign 
weavers found in all the Tamil districts, but mainly in 
Madura town, who speak Patnuli or Khatri, a dialect of 
Gujarati, and came originally from Gujarat. They have 
always been known here as Patnulkarans, or silk thread 
people. They are referred to in the inscriptions of 
Kumara Gupta (A.D. 473) at Mandasor, south of 
Gujarat, by the name of Pattavayaka, which is the 
Sanskrit equivalent of Patnulkaran, and the sasanam of 
Queen Mangammal of Madura, mentioned below, speaks 
of them by the same name, but lately they have taken 
to calling themselves Saurashtras from the Saurashtra 
country from which they came. They also claim to be 
Brahmans. They thus frequently entered themselves 
in the schedules as Saurashtra Brahmans. They are 
an intelligent and hard-working community, and deserve 
every sympathy in the efforts which they are making to 
elevate the material prosperity of their members and 
improve their educational condition, but a claim to 
Brahmanhood is a difficult matter to establish. They 
say that their claim is denied because they are weavers 
by profession, which none of the Southern Brahmans 
are, and because the Brahmans of the Tamil country do 
not understand their rites, which are the northern rites. 
The Mandasor inscriptions, however, represent them as 
soldiers as well as weavers, which does not sound Brah- 
manical, and the Tamil Brahmans have never raised any 
objections to the Gauda Brahmans calling themselves 
such, different as their ways are from those current in 


the south. In Madura their claim to Brahmanhood has 
always been disputed. As early as 1705 A.D. the 
Brahmans of Madura called in question the Patnulkarans' 
right to perform the annual upakarma (or renewal of the 
sacred thread) in the Brahman fashion. [Eighteen 
members of the community were arrested by the 
Governor of Madura for performing this ceremony.] 
The matter was taken to the notice of the Queen 
Mangammal, and she directed her State pandits to con- 
vene meetings of learned men, and to examine into it. 
On their advice, she issued a cadjan (palm leaf) sasanam 
(grant) which permitted them to follow the Brahmani- 
cal rites. But all the twice-born — whether Brahmans, 
Kshatriyas, or Vaisyas — are entitled to do the same, 
and the sasanam establishes little. The Patnuls point 
out that, in some cases, their gotras are Brahmanical. 
But, in many instances which could be quoted, Kshatriyas 
had also Brahmanical gotras." 

It is stated, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, 
that the inscription at Mandasor in Western Malwa 
" relates how the Pattavayas, as the caste was then 
called, were induced to migrate thither from Lata on the 
coast of Gujarat by king Kumara Gupta (or one of his 
lieutenants), to practice there their art of silk-weaving. 
The inscription says many flattering things about the 
community, and poetically compares the city to a beauti- 
ful woman, and the immigrants to the silk garments in 
which she decks herself when she goes to meet her 
lover. [The inscription further records that, while the 
noble Bandhuvarman was governing this city of Dasa- 
pura, which had been brought to a state of great 
prosperity, a noble and unequalled temple of the bright- 
rayed (sun) was caused to be built by the silk-cloth 
weavers (pattavayair) as a guild with the stores of 


prtnulkAran 162 

wealth acquired by (the exercise of their) craft.] On 
the destruction of Mandas5r by the Mussalmans, the 
Pattavayas seem to have travelled south to Devagiri, 
the modern Daulatabad, the then capital of the Yada- 
vas, and thence, when the Mussalmans again appeared 
on the scene at the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
to Vijayanagar, and eventually to Madura. A curious 
ceremony confirming this conjecture is performed to this 
day at Patnulkaran weddings in South India. Before 
the date of the wedding, the bridegroom's party go to 
the bride's house, and ask formally for the girl's hand. 
Her relations ask them in a set form of words who they 
are, and whence they come, and they reply that they are 
from Sorath (the old name for Saurashtra or Kathiawar), 
resided in Devagiri, travelled south (owing to Mussalman 
oppression) to Vijayanagar, and thence came to Madura. 
They then ask the bride's party the same question, and 
receive the same reply. A Marathi MS., prepared in 
1822 at Salem under the direction of the then Collector, 
Mr. M. D. Cockburn, contains the same tradition. Mr. 
Sewell's ' A Forgotten Empire : Vijayanagar ' shows how 
common silk clothing and trappings were at Vijayanagar 
in the days of its glory. Most of the Patnulkarans can 
still speak Telugu, which raises the inference that they 
must have resided a long time in the Telugu country, 
while their Patnuli contains many Canarese and Telugu 
words, and they observe the feast of Basavanna (or 
Boskanna), which is almost peculiar to the Bellary country. 
After the downfall of Vijayanagar, some of the caste 
seem to have gone to Bangalore, for a weaving com- 
munity called Patvegars, who speak a dialect similar to 
Patnuli, still reside there." Concerning the Patnulis 
who have settled in the Mysore Province, it is noted, in 
the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that " with silk they 

1 63 patnulkAran 

manufacture a fine stuff called katni, which no other 
weavers are said to be able to prepare. It is largely 
used by Mussalmans for trousers and lungas (gowns). 
It is said that Haider Ali, while returning from his 
expeditions against Madras, forcibly brought with him 
some twenty-five families of these weavers, who were 
living in the Tanjore district, and established them at 
Ganjam near Seringapatam, and, in order to encourage 
silk and velvet weaving, exempted them from certain 
taxes. The industry flourished till the fall of Seringa- 
patam, when most of the class fled from the country, a 
few only having survived those troublous times. At 
present there are only 254 souls returned to these people, 
employed in making carpets in Bangalore." 

"The Patnulkars," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "say 
that they were originally Brahmans, living in a town 
of Surat called Devagiri, in which twelve streets were 
entirely peopled by them. For some reason, of which 
they profess themselves to be ignorant, the residents of 
one of these streets were excommunicated by the rest 
of the caste, and expelled. They travelled southwards, 
and settled in Tirupati, Arni, and Vellore, as well as in 
Trichinopoly, Tanjore, Madura, and other large towns, 
where they carried on their trade of silk-weaving. 
Another story is to the effect that they were bound to 
produce a certain number of silken cloths at each Dlpa- 
vali feast in Devagiri for the goddess Lakshmi. One 
year their supply fell short, and they were cursed by 
the goddess, who decreed that they should no longer 
be regarded as Brahmans. They, however, still claim to 
be such, and follow the customs of that caste, though 
they refuse to eat with them. They acknowledge priests 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 
VI-li B 


from among themselves, as well as from among Brahmans, 
and profess to look down upon all other castes. In 
religion they are divided into Smartas, Vaishnavas, 
and Vyaparis, some among the Smartas being Linga- 
yats. Those who can write usually employ the Telugu 
characters in writing their language." 

The Patnulkarans, according to one tradition, claim 
descent from a certain Brahman sage, known as Tantu- 
vardhanar, meaning literally a person who improves 
threads, i.e., manufactures and weaves them into cloths. 
This is, it is suggested, probably only an eponymous 

In the Manual of the Madura district, the Patnul- 
karans are described as "a caste of Surat silk-weavers, 
whose ancestors were induced to settle in Madura by 
one of the earlier Nayakkan kings, or in response'to an 
invitation from Tirumala Naik, and who have thriven so 
well that [they now form by far the most numerous of 
all the castes resident in the town of Madura. They 
are very skilful and industrious workmen, and many of 
them have become very wealthy. They keep altogether 
aloof from other castes, and live independently of gen- 
eral society, speaking a foreign tongue, and preserving 
intact the customs of the land of their origin. They are 
easily distinguished in appearance from Tamils, being of 
a light yellowish colour, and having handsomer and more 
intelligent features. They are called Chettis or mer- 
chants by Tamils." In a recent note,* the Patnulkarans 
of Madura are described as being " exceedingly grega- 
rious ; they live together in large numbers in small houses, 
and their social status in the country is quite unsettled. 
Though they delight to call themselves Saurashtra 

* Madras Mail, 1907. 


Brahmans, the Tamils consider them to be a low caste. 
Like the Brahmans, they wear the sacred thread, and 
tack on to their names such titles as Iyengar, Iyer, Rao, 
Bhagavather, Sastrigal, and so forth, though the con- 
servatives among them still cling to the time-honoured 
simple Chetti. Child marriage is the rule, and widow 
marriage is never practiced. Hindus by religion, they 
worship indiscriminately both the Siva and Vaishnava 
deities, but all of them wear big Iyengar namams on 
their foreheads, even more prominently than do the real 
Iyengars themselves. All of them pass for pure vege- 
tarians. The proud position of Madura to this day as 
second city in the Presidency is mainly, if not solely, 
due to her prosperous and industrious community of 
Saurashtra merchants and silk-weavers, who have now 
grown into nearly half her population, and who have 
also come to a foremost place among the ranks of her 
citizens. They have their representatives to-day in 
the Municipal Councils and in the Local and District 
Boards. Their perseverance has won for them a place 
in the Devastanam Committee of one of the most pros- 
perous temples in the district. But, in spite of their 
affluence and leading position it must be confessed that 
they are essentially a ' backward class ' in respect of Eng- 
lish education and enlightenment. They are, however, 
making steady progress. An English high school for 
Saurashtra boys, and a number of elementary schools for 
girls, are now maintained by the Saurashtra Sabha 
for the proper education of their children." In 1906, a 
member of the community was appointed a member of 
the committee of the Sri Kalla Alagar temple in the 
Madura district. 

In an order of the Director of Public Instruction, in 
1900, it was laid down that " Saurashtras having been 


recognised (in 1892) as a backward class falling under 
Pattunulgars, the manager cannot continue to enjoy the 
privileges accorded under the grant-in-aid code to schools 
intended for backward classes, if he returns his pupils 
as Brahmans. If the pupils have been returned as 
Saurashtra Brahmans, the manager should be requested 
to revise, as no such caste is recognised." A deputa- 
tion had an interview with the Director, and it was 
subsequently ruled that " Saurashtras will continue to 
be treated as a backward class. Pupils belonging to 
the above class should invariably be returned in future 
as Saurashtras, whether the word Brahman is added 
or not." 

In a "History of the Saurashtras in Southern India"* 
it is recorded that " when the Saurashtras settled in the 
south, they reproduced the institutions of their mother 
country in the new land ; but, owing to the influence of 
the Southern Dravidians, some of the institutions became 
extinct. During their migrations, the men were under 
the guidance of their leader, and the process of migra- 
tion tended to increase the power of kinship. The 
people were divided into four heads, called Goundas 
(chiefs), Saulins (elders), Voyddoos (physicians), and 
Bhoutuls (religious men). Some traces of the division 
still survive in the now neglected institution of Goun- 
dans. The Goundans were supposed to be responsible 
for the acts and doings of their men. The masses 
enjoyed the property under the joint undivided Hindu 
family system as prescribed in the Code of Manu. The 
chiefs were the judges in both civil and criminal affairs. 
They were aided in deciding cases by a body of nobles 
called Saulins. The office of the Saulins is to make 

* By the Saurashtra Literary Societies of Madura and Madras, 1891. 


enquiries, and try all cases connected with the commu- 
nity, and to abide by the decision of the chiefs. The 
Voyddoos (pandits) and Bhoutuls (Josis and Kavis also 
ranked with Voyddas and Bhoutuls) had their honours 
on all important occasions, and they are placed in the 
same rank with the elders. The Karestuns, or the Com- 
mons, are the whole body of the masses. Their voice is 
necessary on certain important occasions, as during the 
ceremonies of excommunication, and prayaschittas for 
admitting renegades, and during periodical meetings 
of the community. The Goundans at present are not 
exercising any of their powers, except in some religious 
matters. Saurashtra Brahmans were originally leading 
a purely religious life, but now they have begun to do 
business of different descriptions fitted to their position. 
Their chief occupation is agriculture, but some are 
trading, dyeing and weaving ; however, it can be safely 
affirmed that their business interferes in no way with 
their religious creed and ceremonies. The name Patnul- 
gar means silk weavers, and is sometimes erroneously 
applied to the Saurashtras too ; but, on the contrary, the 
term strictly applies to all classes of weavers in Southern 
India, called Seniyars, Kaikkolars, Devangas, Kshatris 
(Khattris), Parayas, Sengundas, Mudaliars, Saliyurs, 
Padmasalays, but not to the Saurashtras in any way. 
The Saurashtras are now seen as a mercantile com- 
munity. They are brave but humble, god-fearing, 
hospitable, fond of festivities and amusement. The 
Saurashtras, it is said, were originally a class of sun 
worshippers, from soura meaning sun, but the term 
Saurashtra means inhabitants of the fruitful kingdom. 
Their religion is Hinduism, and they were originally 
Madhvas. After their settlement in Southern India, 
some of them, owing to the preachings of Sankaracharya 

patnulkaraN i6B 

and Ramanujacharya, were converted into Saivites and 
Vaishnavites respectively. The Saurashtras belong to 
the Aksobhya and Sankaracharya Matas. The Sau- 
rashtras, like other nations of India, are divided into four 
great divisions, viz., Brahma, Kshatriya, Vaisya and 
Sudra. The Valsyas and Sudras are to be found in 
almost all towns and villages, and especially at Tirupati, 
Nagari, Naranavanam, Arni, Kottar, Palani, Palam- 
cottah, Vilangudi, and Viravanallur." 

The affairs of the Patnulkarans at Madura are 
managed by a Saurashtra Sabha, which was started in 
1895. Among the laudable objects for which the Sabha 
was established, the following may be noted : — 

{a) To manage the Madura Saurashtra school, 
and establish reading-rooms, libraries, etc., with a view 
to enable members of the Saurashtra community to 
receive, on moderate terms, a sound, liberal, general and 
technical education. 

(d) To manage the temple known as the Madura 
Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swami's temple, and contri- 
bute towards its maintenance by constructing, repairing 
and preserving buildings in connection therewith, mak- 
ing jewels, vehicles and other things necessary therefor, 
and conducting the festivals thereof. 

(c) To found charitable institutions, such as orphan- 
ages, hospitals, poor-houses, choultries (resting-places 
for travellers), water-sheds, and other things of a like 
nature for the good of the Saurashtra community. 

(d) To give succour to the suffering poor, and 
the maimed, the lame, and the blind in the Saurashtra 

(e) To give pecuniary grants in aid of upanaya- 
nams (thread marriages) to the helpless in the Saurashtra 


(y") To erect such works of utility as bathing 
ghauts, wells, water fountains, and other works of utility 
for the benefit of the Saurashtra community. 

(^) To fix and raise subscriptions known as 
mahamais (a sort of income-tax). 

Among the subjects of the lectures delivered in con- 
nection with the Saurashtra Upanyasa Sabha at Madura 
in 1901 were the life of Mrs. Annie Besant, the Paris 
Exhibition of 1900, Mr. Tata and higher education, 
Saurashtra bank, Columbus, and the Saurashtra reform 

A few years ago, the Saurashtra community sub- 
mitted a memorial to the Governor of Madras to the effect 
that " as the backward Saurashtra community have not 
the requisite capital of half a lakh of rupees for imparting 
to their members both general and technical education, 
the Saurashtra Sabha, Madura, suggests that a lottery 
office may be kept for collecting shares at one rupee 
each from such of the public at large as may be willing 
to give the same, on the understanding that, every time 
the collections aggregate to Rs. 6,250, Rs. 250 should be 
set apart for the expenses of working the said office, and 
two-thirds of the remainder for educational purposes, 
and one-third should be awarded by drawing lots among 
the subscribers in the shape of five prizes, ranging 
from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 125." In passing orders on this 
sporting scheme, the Government stated that it was not 
prepared to authorise the lottery. It has been well 
said * that the Patnulkarans have a very strong esprit de 
corps, and this has stood them in good stead in their 
weaving, which is more scientifically carried on, and in 
a more flourishing condition than is usual elsewhere. 

* Gazetteer of the Madura district. 


For the following note on the Patnulkaran weavers 
of Madura, I am Indebted to Mr. A. Chatterton, Direc- 
tor of Technical Enquiries : — " As a general rule, they 
are in a flourishing condition, and much better off than 
the Saurashtra weavers in Salem. This is probably 
due to the fact that the bulk of the Madura trade is in a 
higher class of cloth than at Salem, and the weavers are 
consequently less affected by fluctuations in demand for 
their goods due to seasonal variations. In various ways 
the Saurashtras of Madura have furnished evidence that 
they are a progressive community, particularly in the 
attention which they pay to education, and the keenness 
with which they are on the look-out for improvements 
in the methods of carrying out their hereditary craft. 
Nearly all the so-called improvements have been tried 
at Madura, and the fact that they have rejected most of 
them may be taken to some extent as evidence of their 
unsuitability for Indian conditions. Some time ago, one 
A. A. Kuppusawmy Iyer invented certain improvements 
in the native shedding apparatus, whereby ornamental 
patterns are woven along the borders, and on the ends 
of the better class of silk and cotton cloths. This appa- 
ratus was undoubtedly a material improvement upon that 
which is ordinarily used by the weaver, and it has been 
taken up extensively in the town. It is said that there 
are 350 looms fitted with this shedding apparatus, and 
the inventor, who has obtained a patent for it, is try- 
ing to collect a royalty of Rs. 1-4-0 a month on each 
loom. But this claim is resisted by a combination of 
the weavers using this shedding apparatus, and a suit 
is at the present time (1907) pending in the District 
Court. One of the most important weaving enterprises 
at Madura is the Meenakshi Weaving Company, the 
partners of which are Ramachandra Iyer, Muthurama 


Iyer, and Kuppusawmy Iyer. Their subscribed capital 
is Rs. 1,00,000, of which they are spending no less than 
Rs. 40,000 on building a weaving shed and office. The 
Madura dyeing industry is in the hands of the Saurash- 
tras, and the modern phase dates back only as far as 
1895, when Mr. Tulsiram started dyeing grey yarn with 
alizarine red, and, in the twelve years which have since 
elapsed, the industry has grown to very large proportions. 
The total sales at Madura average at present about 24 
lakhs a year. There are from t,o to 40 dye-houses, and 
upwards of 5,000 cwt. of alizarine red is purchased every 
year from the Badische Aniline Soda Fabrik. The yarn 
is purchased locally, mainly from the Madura Mills, but, 
to some extent, also from Coimbatore and Tuticorin. 
The mordanting is done entirely with crude native earths, 
containing a large percentage of potassium salts. Dry- 
ing the yarn presents considerable difficulty, especially in 
the wet weather. To secure a fast even colour, the yarn 
is mordanted about ten times, and dyed twice, or for 
very superior work three times, and between each opera- 
tion it is essential that the yarn should be dried. The 
suburbs of Madura are now almost entirely covered with 
drying yards." 

In a note on the Patnulkarans who have settled in 
Travancore, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes as follows. 
" The Patnulkarans are generally of yellowish tinge, and 
in possession of handsomer and more intellectual features 
than the Tamil castes, from which they may be easily 
differentiated by even a casual observer. They are, how- 
ever, more fair than cleanly. They keep in Travancore, 
as elsewhere, aloof from other castes, and live independ- 
ently of general society, speaking a foreign language. 
This they have preserved with astonishing attachment, 
and recently a Saurashtra alphabet has been invented, and 


elementary books have begun to be written in that dialect. 
They are a very conservative class, religious enthusiasts 
of a very remarkable order, and skilful and industrious 
workmen. They take a peculiar pleasure in music, and 
many of them are excellent songsters. There are many 
kinds of amusement for both men and women, who 
generally spend their leisure in singing songs of a devo- 
tional nature. They believe largely in omens, of which 
the following may be noted : — 

Good. — A pot full of water, a burning light, no 
Brahmans, a Sudra, a cow, a married woman, and gold. 
Bad. — A barber, a patient, a person with some 
bodily defect, fuel, oil, a donkey, a pick-axe, a broom, 
and a fan. 

" On entering a Patnulkaran's house, we are led to 
a courtyard, spacious and neat, where all the necessary 
arrangements are made for weaving purposes. The 
Patnulkarans live in streets. A male Patnulkaran resem- 
bles a Tamil Vaishnava Brahman in outward appearance, 
but the women follow the custom of the Telugu Brah- 
mans alike in their costume and ornaments. Their 
jewels exactly resemble those of the Telugu Brahman 
women, and indicate a temporary residence of the caste 
in the Telugu country on the way from Gujarat to 
Madura. There is a Tamil proverb to the effect that, 
if a male Patnulkaran is seen without his wife, he will 
be taken for a Vaishnava Brahman, whereas, in the case 
of the Tatan caste, a woman without her husband will 
be taken for an Aiyangar. Children wear the karai 
round the neck. Tattooing prevails on a very large 

" The Patnulkarans may be divided into three classes 
on a religious basis, viz., (i) pure Vaishnavites, who 
wear the vertical Vaishnavite mark, and call themselves 



Vadakalas or northerners ; (2) those who are mainly 
Smartas ; (3) Sankara Vaishnavas, who wear gopi (sandal 
paste) as their sect-mark. It is to the last of these 
religious sects that the Travancore Patnulkarans belong, 
though, in recent times, a few Smartas have settled at 
Kottar. All these intermarry and interdine, and the 
religious difference does not create a distinction in the 
caste. The chief divinity of the Patnulkarans is Ven- 
katachalapati of Tirupati. The month in which he is 
most worshipped is Kanni (September-October), and all 
the Saturdays and the Tiruvonam star of the month are 
particularly devoted to his adoration. One of their men 
becomes possessed on any of these days, and, holding a 
burning torch-light in his hand, touches the foreheads 
of the assembled devotees therewith. The Patnulkarans 
fast on those days, and take an image of Garuda in 
procession through the street. The Dipavali, Pannamasi 
in Chittiray, and the Vaikuntha Ekadasi are other 
important religious days. The Dusserah is observed, 
as also are the festivals of Sri Rama Navami, Ashtami, 
Rohini, Avani Avittam, and Vara Lakshmivratam. 
Formal worship of deities is done by those who have 
obtained the requisite initiation from a spiritual pre- 
ceptor. Women who have husbands fast on full-moon 
days, Mondays, and Fridays. The serpent and the 
banyan tree are specially worshipped. Women sing 
songs in praise of Lakshmi, and offer fruits and 
cocoanuts to her. The Patnulkarans have a temple 
dedicated to Sri Rama at Kottar. This temple is 
visited even by Brahmans, and the priests are Aiyangars. 
The Acharya, or supreme religious authority of the 
Patnulkarans, in Travancore is a Vaishnava Brahman 
known as Ubhaya Vedanta Koti Kanyakadana Tata- 
chariyar, who lives at Aravankulam near Tinnevelly, 


and possesses a large number of disciples. Once a 
year he visits his flock in Travancore, and is highly- 
respected by them, as also by the Maharaja, who makes 
a donation of money to him. Elders are appointed to 
decide social disputes, and manage the common property 
of the caste. In Travancore there are said to be only 
three families of Patnulkaran priests. For the higher 
ceremonies, Brahman priests are employed. 

" A girl's marriage is usually celebrated before 
puberty, and sometimes when she is a mere child ot 
four or five. Great importance is attached to gotras 
or exogamous septs, and it is said that the septs of 
the bride and bridegroom are conspicuously inscribed 
on the walls of a marriage house. In the selection 
of an auspicious hour (muhurtam) for a marriage, two 
favourable planetary situations, one closely following the 
other, are necessary ; and, as such occasions are rare, 
a number of marriages take place at one time. A man 
may claim his maternal uncle's daughter as his wife, 
and polygamy is permitted. The marriage ceremonial 
resembles the Brahmanical rites in many points. On 
the fourth day, a ceremonial observed by Telugu Brah- 
mans, called Nagabali, is performed. The marriage 
badge, which is tied on the bride's neck, is called bottu. 
[From a note on the marriage ceremonies among the 
Patnulkarans of Madura, I gather that, as among Telugu 
and Canarese castes, a number of pots are arranged, 
and worshipped. These pots are smaller and fewer in 
number than at a Telugu or Canarese wedding. A 
figure of a car is drawn on the wall of the house with 
red earth or laterite.* On it the name of the sfotra 
of the bridegroom is written. On the fourth day, the 

* A reddish geological formation, found all over Southern India. 

175 patnulkAran 

nagavali (or offering to Devas) is performed. The 
contracting couple sit near the pots, and a number of 
lights are arranged on the floor. The pots, which 
represent the Devas, are worshipped.] 

" The namakarana, or name-giving ceremony, is 
performed on the eleventh day after birth. An eighth 
child, whether male or female, is called Krishna, owing 
to the tradition that Krishna was born as the eighth child 
of Vasudeva. Babies are affectionately called Duddu 
(milk) or Pilla (child). The annaprasana, or first feeding 
of the child, is sometimes celebrated at the end of the 
first year, but usually as a preliminary to some subse- 
quent ceremony. Sometimes, in performance of a vow, 
boys are taken to the shrine at Tirupati for the tonsure 
ceremony. The upanayana is performed between the 
seventh and twelfth years, but neither brahmacharya nor 
samavartana is observed. 

" The dead are burnt, and the remains of the bones 
are collected and deposited under water. Death pol- 
lution lasts only for ten days. The sradh, or annual 
ceremony, when oblations are offered to ancestors, is 
observed. Widows are allowed to retain their hair, but 
remove the bottu. Unlike Brahman women, they chew 
betel, and wear coloured cloths, even in old age." 

The Patnulkarans have a secret trade language, 
concerning which Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes as 
follows. " The most remarkable feature about it is the 
number of terms and phrases borrowed from the craft, 
to which special meanings are given. Thus a man of no 
status is stigmatised as a rikhta khandu, i.e., a spindle 
without the yarn. Similarly, a man of little sense is 
called a mhudha, the name of a thick peg which holds 
one side of the roller. Likewise, a talkative person is 
referred to as a rhetta, or roller used for winding the 

PATRA 176 

thread upon spindles, which makes a most unpleasant 
creaking noise. Kapiniker, from kapini, a technical 
term used for cutting the loom off, means to make short 
work of an undesirable person. A man who is past 
middle age is called porkut phillias, which, in weavers' 
parlance, means that half the loom is turned." 

Patra.— The Patras are an Oriya caste, which is 
divided into two sections, one of which is engaged in 
the manufacture of silk (pata) waist-threads, tassels, 
etc., and the other in weaving silk cloths. The members 
of the two sections do not interdine. The former have 
exogamous septs or bamsams, the names of which are 
also used as titles, e.g., Sahu, Patro, and Prushti. The 
latter have exogamous septs, such as Tenga, Jaggali, 
Telaga, and Mahanayako, and Behara and Nayako as 
titles. The chief headman of the cloth-weaving section 
is called Mahanayako, and there are other officers called 
Behara and Bhollobaya. The headman of the other 
section is called Senapati, and he is assisted by a 
Dhanapati. Infant marriage is the rule, and, if a girl 
does not secure a husband before she reaches maturity, 
she must, if she belongs to the cloth-weaving section, 
go through a form of marriage with an old man, and, if 
to the other section, with an arrow. 

The Telugu Patras are summed up, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as "a Telugu caste of hunters 
and cultivators, found chiefly in the districts of Cuddapah 
and Kurnool. It has two divisions, the Doras (chiefs), 
and Gurikalas (marksmen), the former of which is 
supposed to be descended from the old Poligars (feudal 
chiefs), and the latter from their followers and servants. 
This theory is supported by the fact that, at the weddings 
of Gurikalas, the Doras receive the first pan-supari 
(betel leaf and areca nut). Widows may not remarry, nor 



is divorce recognised. They usually employ Brahmans 
at marriages, and Satanis at funerals. Though they are 
Vaishnavites, they also worship village deities, such as 
Gangamma and Ellamma. They bury their dead, and 
perform annual sraddhas (memorial services for the dead). 
They will eat with Gollas. Their title is Naidu." 

Patramela.— -Patramela, or Patradeva, is the name 
of a class of dancing girls in South Canara. Patramela, 
Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* is the name by which the 
Konkani Kalavants (courtezans) are known above the 

Patro.^The title of the head of a group of villages 
in Ganjam, and also recorded, at times of census, as a 
title of Alia, Kalinga Komati, Dolai, and Jaggala. The 
conferring of a cloth (sadhi) on a Patro is said to be 
emblematic of conferring an estate. The Patro, among 
other perquisites, is entitled to a fee on occasions of 
marriage. I am informed that, in the Ganjam Maliahs, 
if a Kondh was unable to pay the fee, he met his love 
at night beneath two trysting trees, and retired with her 
into the jungle for three days and nights. 

Patrudu. — The title, meaning those who are fit to 
receive a gift, of Aiyarakulu and Nagaralu. 

Pattadhikari. — A class of Jangams, who have 
settled head-quarters. 

Pattan.— The equivalent of the Brahman Bhatta. 
A name by which some Kammalans, especially gold- 
smiths, style themselves. 

Pattanavada.— A synonym for the Moger fishing 
caste, the settlements of which are called pattana. 

Pattanavan.— The fishermen on the east coast, 
from the Kistna to the Tanjore district, are popularly 

• Manual of the South Canara district. 
VI- 1 2 


called Karaiyan, or sea-shore people. Some Karaiyans 
have, at times of census, returned themselves as Taccha 
(carpenter) Karaiyans. 

Pattanavan means literally a dweller in a town or 
pattanam, which word occurs in the names of various 
towns on the sea-coast, e.g., Nagapattanam (Negapatam), 
Chennapattanam (Madras). The Pattanavans have two 
main divisions, Periya (big) and Chinna (small), and, 
in some places, for example, at Nadukuppam in the 
Nellore district, exogamous septs, e.g., Gengananga, 
Peyananga, Kathananga (children of Ganga, Peyan, 
and Kathanar), and Kullananga (children of dwarfs). 
In the Telugu country, they go by the name of Pattapu 
or Tulivandlu. 

Some Pattanavans give themselves high-sounding 
caste titles, e.g., Ariyar, Ayyayiraththalaivar (the five 
thousand chiefs), Ariya Nattu Chetti (Chettis of the 
Ariyar country), Acchu Vellala, Karaiturai (sea-coast) 
Vellala, Varunakula Vellala or Varunakula Mudali after 
Varuna, the god of the waters, or Kurukula vamsam after 
Kuru, the ancestor of the Kauravas. Some Pattanavans 
have adopted the title Pillai. 

The Pattanavans are said to be inferior to the 
Sembadavans, who will not accept food at their hands, 
and discard even an earthen pot which has been touched 
by a Pattanavan. 

Concerning the origin of the caste, there is a legend 
that the Pattanavans were giving silk thread to Siva, 
and were hence called Pattanavar, a corruption of 
Pattanaivor, meaning knitters of silk thread. They were 
at the time all bachelors, and Siva suggested the follow- 
ing method of securing wives for them. They were 
told to go out fishing in the sea, and make of their catch 
as many heaps as there were bachelors. Each of them 


then stood before a heap, and called for a wife, who was 
created therefrom. According to another story, some 
five thousand years ago, during the age of the lunar 
race, there was one Dasa Raja, who was ruling near 
Hastinapura, and was childless. To secure offspring, 
he prayed to god, and did severe penance. In answer 
to his prayer, God pointed out a tank full of lotus flowers, 
and told the king to go thither, and call for children. 
Thereon, five thousand children issued forth from the 
flowers, to the eldest of whom the king bequeathed his 
kingdom, and to the others money in abundance. Those 
who received the money travelled southward in ships, 
which were wrecked, and they were cast ashore. This 
compelled them to make friends of local sea fishermen, 
whose profession they adopted. At the present day, 
the majority of Pattanavans are sea-fishermen, and catch 
fish with nets from catamarans. " Fancy," it has been 
written,* " a raft of only three logs of wood, tied together 
at each end when they go out to sea, and untied and 
left to dry on the beach when they come in again. Each 
catamaran has one, two or three men to manage it ; 
they sit crouched on it upon their heels, throwing their 
paddles' about very dexterously, but remarkably unlike 
rowing. In one of the early Indian voyager's log-books 
there is an entry concerning a catamaran : ' This morning, 
6 A.M., saw distinctly two black devils playing at single 
stick. We watched these infernal imps about an hour, 
when they were lost in the distance. Surely this doth 
portend some great tempest.' It is very curious to 
watch these catamarans putting out to sea. They get 
through the fiercest surf, sometimes dancing at their 
ease on the top of the waters, sometimes hidden under 

♦ Letters from Madras. By a Lady, 1843. 
Vl-ia B 


the waters ; sometimes the man completely washed off 
his catamaran, and man floating one way and catamaran 
another, till they seem to catch each other again by 
magic." In 1906, a fisherman was going out in his 
catamaran to fish outside the Madras harbour, and was 
washed off his craft, and dashed violently against a rock. 
Death was instantaneous. Of the catamaran, the follow- 
ing account is given by Colonel W. Campbell.* " Of 
all the extraordinary craft which the ingenuity of man 
has ever invented, a Madras catamaran is the most 
extraordinary, the most simple, and yet, in proper hands, 
the most efficient. It is merely three rough logs of 
wood, firmly lashed together with ropes formed from the 
inner bark of the cocoanut tree. Upon this one, two, 
or three men, according to the size of the catamaran, sit 
on their heels in a kneeling posture, and, defying wind 
and weather, make their way through the raging surf 
which beats upon the coast, and paddle out to sea at times 
when no other craft can venture to face it. At a little 
distance, the slight fabric on which these adventurous 
mariners float becomes invisible, and a fleet of them 
approaching the land presents the absurd appearance of 
a host of savage-looking natives wading out towards the 
ship, up to their middle in water." " A catamaran," 
Lady Dufferin writes,! in an account of a state arrival 
at Madras, " is two logs of wood lashed together, form- 
ing a very small and narrow raft. The rower wears a 
'fool's cap,' in which he carries letters (also betel and 
tobacco), and, when he encounters a big wave, he leaves 
his boat, slips through the wave himself, and picks up 
his catamaran on the other side of it. Some very large 
deep barges (masula boats), the planks of which are 

* My Indian Journal, 1864. t Our Viceregal Life in India, iS 


sewn together to give elasticity, and the interstices 
stuffed with straw, came out for us, with a guard of 
honour of the mosquito fleet, as the catamarans are 
called, on either side of them ; two of the fool's cap 
men, and a flag as big as the boat itself, on each one." 
The present day masula or mussoola boat, or surf 
boat of the Coromandel Coast, is of the same build as 
several centuries ago. It is recorded,* in 1673, that 
" I went ashore in a Mussoola, a boat wherein ten 
men paddle, the two aftermost of whom are the Steers- 
men, using their Paddles instead of a Rudder : The 
Boat is not strengthened with knee-timber, as ours are ; 
the bended Planks are sowed together with Rope-yarn 
of the Cocoe, and calked with Dammar so artificially 
that it yields to every ambitious surf. Otherwise we 
could not get ashore, the Bar knocking in pieces all that 
are inflexible." The old records of Madras contain 
repeated references to Europeans being drowned from 
overturning of masula boats in the surf, through which 
a landing had to be effected before the harbour was 

In 1907, two Madras fishermen were invested with 
silver wrist bangles, bearing a suitable inscription, which 
were awarded by the Government in recognition of their 
bravery in saving the lives of a number of boatmen 
during a squall in the harbour. 

The following are the fishes, which are caught by 
the fishermen off Madras and eaten by Europeans : — 

Cybium guttatum, BL Schn. Seir. 

Cybium Commersonii, Lacep. Seir. 

Cybium lanceo latum, Cuv. & Val. Seir. 

Sillago sihama, Forsk. Whiting. 

* Roe and Fryer. Travels in India in the seventeenth century. 


Stromateus cinereus, Block. — 
Immature, silver pomfret. 
Adult, grey pomfret. 

Stromateus niger. Block. Black pomfret. 

Mugal subvirldis, Cuv. & Val. Mullet. 

Psettodes erumei, Bl. Sckn. * Sole.' 

Lates calcarlfer, Block. Cock-up ; the begti of 

Lutjanus roseus. Day. 

Lutjanus marginatus, Cuv. & Val. 

Polynemus tetradactylus, Skaw. 

Chorinemus lysan, Forsk. 

' Whitebait.' 
The Pattanavans are Saivites, but also worship vari- 
ous minor gods and Grama Devatas (village deities). 
In some places, they regard Kuttiyandavan as their 
special sea god. To him animal sacrifices are not made, 
but goats are sacrificed to Sembu Virappan or Minnodum 
Pillai, an attendant on Kuttiyandavan. In Tanjore, the 
names of the sea gods are Pavadairayan and Padaitha- 
laidaivam. Before setting out on a fishing expedition, 
the Pattanavans salute the god, the sea, and the nets, 
In the Tanjore district, they repair their nets once in 
eight days, and, before they go out fishing, pray to their 
gods to favour them with a big catch. On a fixed day, 
they make offerings to the gods on their return from 
fishing. The gods Pavadairayan and Padaithalaidaivam 
are represented by large conical heaps of wet sand and 
mud, and Ayyanar, Ellamma, Kuttiyandavar, Muthyal- 
routhar and Kiliyendhi by smaller heaps. At the Masi- 
makam festival, the Pattanavans worship their gods on 
the sea-shore. The names Jattan and Jatti are given 
to children during the Jatre or periodic festival of the 
village goddesses. 


The Pattanavans afford a good example of a caste, 
in which the time-honoured village council (panchayat) 
is no empty, powerless body. For every settlement or 
village there are one or more headmen called Yejama- 
nan, who are assisted by a Thandakaran and a Paraiyan 
Chalavathi. All these offices are hereditary. Questions 
connected with the community, such as disrespect to 
elders, breach of social etiquette, insult, abuse, assault, 
adultery, or drinking or eating with men of lower caste, 
are enquired into by the council. Even when disputes 
are settled in courts of law, they must come before the 
council. Within the community, the headman is all 
powerful, and his decision is, in most instances, consi- 
dered final. If, however, his verdict is not regarded as 
equitable, the case is referred to a caste headman, who 
holds sway over a group of villages. No ceremony may 
be performed without the sanction of the local headman, 
and the details of ceremonies, except the feasting, are 
arranged by the headman and the Thandakaran. In the 
case of a proposed marriage, the match is broken off if 
the headman objects to it. He should be present at the 
funeral rites, and see that the details thereof are properly 
carried out. It is the duty of the Chalavathi to convey 
the news of a death to the relations. Should he come 
to the shore when the fishes are heaped up, he has the 
right to take a few thereof as his perquisite. The 
Thandakaran, among other duties, has to summon 
council meetings. When the members of council have 
assembled, he ushers in the parties who have to appear 
before it, and salutes the assembly by prostrating himself 
on the floor. The parties take a bit of straw, or other 
object, and place it before the headman in token that they 
are willing to abide by the decision of the council. This 
formality is called placing the agreement (muchchilika). 


The consent of the maternal uncles is necessary 
before a pair can be united in matrimony. When the 
wedding day has been fixed, the bridegroom's party 
distribute grama thambulam (village pan-supari or betel) 
to the headman and villagers. The marriage milk-post 
is made of Mimusops hexandra, Erythrina indica, Casua- 
rina equisetifolia, the green wood of some other tree, or 
even a pestle. In one form of the marriage ceremony, 
which varies in detail according to locality, the bride- 
groom, on the arrival of the bride at the pandal (booth), 
puts on the sacred thread, and the Brahman purohit 
makes the sacred fire, and pours ghi (clarified butter) 
into it. The bridegroom ties the tali round the bride's 
neck, and the maternal uncles tie flat silver or gold 
plates, called pattam, on the foreheads of the contract- 
ing couple. Rings are put on their second toes by the 
brother-in-law of the bridegroom and the maternal uncle 
of the bride. Towards evening, the sacred thread, the 
threads which have been tied to the marriage pots 
and the milk-post, and grain seedlings used at the cere- 
mony, are thrown into the sea. Some Pattanavans allow 
a couple to live together as man and wife after the 
betrothal, but before the marriage ceremony. This is, 
however, on condition that the latter is performed as 
soon as it is convenient. The remarriage of widows is 
freely permitted. No marriage pandal is erected, and 
the bridegroom, or a female relation, ties the tali on 
the bride's neck within the house. Such marriage is, 
therefore, called naduvittu (interior of the house) tali. 
When a woman, who has been guilty of adultery, is 
remarried, a turmeric string is substituted for the golden 
tali, and is tied on the bride's neck by a woman. 

Some Pattanavans have adopted the custom of bury- 
ing their dead in a seated posture (samathi). If a 



corpse is cremated, fire is carried to the burning-ground 

by a barber. When the corpse has been laid on the 

pyre, rice is thrown over it. The son, accompanied by 

a barber and a Panisavan or washerman, and carrying 

a pot of water on his shoulder, goes thrice round the 

pyre. At the third round, the Panisavan or washerman 

makes holes in the pot, and it is thrown away. On 

the day of the funeral, all the agnates shave their heads. 

On the following day, they go to the burial or burning 

ground with tender cocoanuts, milk, cakes, etc., and 

Arichandra, who presides over the burial-ground, is 

worshipped. Milk is then poured over the grave, or 

the remains of the bones, which are thrown into the 

sea. On the night of the fifteenth day, Panisavans blow 

the conch and horn, and red cloths are presented to the 

widow of the deceased by her relations. At about 4 

A.M., a white cloth is thrown on her neck, and the tali 

string is cut by an old woman. The tali is removed 

therefrom, and dropped into a new pot filled with water. 

Hence, a form of abuse among Pattanavan women is, 

May your tali be snapped, and thrown into water. 

The tali is removed from the pot, which is thrown into 

the sea. The tali is laid on a dish containing milk, and 

all those who visit the widow must set eyes on it before 

they see her. 

In the city of Madras, the Pattanavans have the 
privilege of supplying bearers at temples, and the 
atmosphere surrounding them as they carry the idols 
on their sturdy shoulders through Triplicane is said to 
be " redolent of brine and the toddy shop." 

In a judgment of the High Court of Judicature, 
Madras, it is recorded that, in the eighteenth century, 
some boat-owners and boatmen belonging to the 
Curukula Vamsha or Varunakula Mudali caste, who 


were residing at Chepauk in the city of Madras, had 
embraced Christianity, and worshipped in a chapel, 
which had been erected by voluntary contributions. In 
1799 the site of their village was required for public 
purposes, and they obtained in lieu of it a grant of land 
at Royapuram, where a chapel was built. Partly by 
taxes levied on boatmen, and partly by tolls they were 
allowed to impose on persons for frequenting the 
Royapuram bazar, a fund was formed to provide for 
their spiritual wants, and this fund was administered by 
the Marine Board. In 1829, a portion of the fund was 
expended in the erection of the church of St. Peter, 
Royapuram, and the fund was transferred to Govern- 
ment. The administration of the fund has been the 
source of litigation in the High Court.* 

It is noted by Mrs. F. E. Penny that some of the 
fisherfolk "adopted Xavier as their special patron 
saint, and, as time passed, almost deified him. In the 
present day, they appeal to him in times of danger, 
crying * Xavier ! Xavier ! Xavier ! ' in storm and peril. 
Even if they are unfortunate in their catch when 
fishing, they turn to their saint for succour." 

As a numismatist, I resent the practice resorted to 
by some fishermen of melting old lead coins, and 
converting them into sinkers for their nets. 

Pattapu.— Pattapu for Tulivandlu is a name for 
Tamil Pattanavans, who have migrated to the Telugu 
country. Pattapu also occurs as a sub-division of 

Pattar.— The Pattars are Tamil Brahmans, who 
have settled in Malabar. The name is said to be 
derived from the Sanskrit bhatta. It is noted, in the 

* See Civil Suit No. 102 of 1880. 


Madras Census Report, 1901, that Pattar (teacher) has 
been recently assumed as a title by some Nokkans in 
Tanjore. {See Brahman.) 

Pattariar. — Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1901, as a Tamil corruption of Pattu Saliyan (silk- 
weaver). Pattariar or Pattalia is a synonym of Tamil- 
speaking Saliyans. 

Pattegara (headman). — An exogamous sept of 

Pattindla (silk house). — An exogamous sept of 
Tota Balija. 

Pattola Menon. — Recorded, in the Cochin Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-caste of Nayars, who are account- 
ants in aristocratic families. 

Pattukuruppu. — Recorded in the Travancore 
Census Report, 1901, as synonymous with Vatti, a sub- 
division of Nayar. 

Pattu Sale.-^A sub-division of Sales, who weave 
silk (pattu) fabrics. 

Pattu vitan. — Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Patvegara.— The Patvegaras or Pattegaras (pattu, 
silk) of South Canara are described by Mr. H. A. 
Stuart * as " a Canarese caste of silk weavers. They 
are Hindus, and worship both Siva and Vishnu, but 
their special deity is Durga Paramesvari at Barkur. 
They wear the sacred thread, and employ Brahmans 
for ceremonial purposes. They are governed by a body 
called the ten men, and pay allegiance to the guru of 
the Ramachandra math (religious institution). They are 
divided into balis (septs) and a man may not marry 
within his own bali. Polygamy is allowed only when a 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 


wife is barren, or suffers from some incurable disease, 
such as leprosy. The girls are married in infancy, and 
the binding portion of the ceremony is called dhare {see 
Bant). Widow marriage is not permitted, and divorce 
is only allowed in the case of an adulterous wife. They 
follow the ordinary Hindu law of inheritance. The 
dead are cremated. The sradha (memorial) ceremony 
is in use, and the Mahalaya ceremony for the propitia- 
tion of ancestors in general is performed annually. 
Female ancestors are also worshipped every year at a 
ceremony called vaddap, when meals are given to 
married women. They eat fish but not meat, and the 
use of alcohol is not permitted." 

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, the Patvegars 
are described as " silk weavers who speak a corrupt 
Marathi conglomerate of Guzarati and Hindi. They 
worship all the Hindu deities, especially the female 
energy under the name of Sakti, to which a goat is 
sacrificed on the night of the Dasara festival, a Musal- 
man slaughtering the animal. After the sacrifice, the 
family of the Patvegar partake of the flesh. Many of 
their females are naturally fair and handsome, but lose 
their beauty from early marriage and precocity." A few 
Pattegaras, who speak a corrupt form of Marathi, are to 
be found in the Anantapur district. 

Pavalamkatti (wearers of corals). — A sub-divi- 
sion of Konga Vellala. 

Pavini.^5^^ Vayani. 

Payyampati.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Pedakanti. — Pedakanti or Pedaganti is the name 
of a sub-division of Kapu. It is said by some to be 
derived from a place called Pedagallu. By others it is 
derived from peda, turned aside, and kamma, eye, 


indicating one who turns his eyes away from a person 
who speaks to him. Yet another suggestion is that it 
means stiff-necked. 

Pedda (big). — A sub-division of Boya, Bagata, 
Konda Dora, Pattapu, and Velama. 

Peddammavandlu. — A fancy name taken by some 
Telugu beggars. 

Pedditi.— A sub-division of Golla, some members of 
which earn a livelihood by begging and flattery. 

Pegula (intestines). — An exogamous sept of 

Pekkan.— A division of Toda. 

Pendukal (women). — A name applied to Deva-dasis 
in Travancore. 

Pengu.— A sub-division of Poroja. 

Pennegara.— Konkani-speaking rice-beaters in 
South Canara. 

Pentiya.— The Pentiyas also call themselves Holuva 
and Halaba or Halba. In the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, they are called Pantia as well as Pentiya, and 
described as Oriya betel-leaf (panno) sellers. Their 
occupation, in the Jeypore Agency tracts, is that of 
cultivators. According to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, 
to whom I am indebted for the following note, numbers 
of them migrated thither from Bustar, and settled at 
Pentikonna, and are hence called Pentikonaya or Pentiya. 
Their language is Halba, which is easily understood by 
those who speak Oriya. They are divided into two 
endogamous sections, called Bodo (big or genuine), and 
Sanno (little), of whom the latter are said to be illegiti- 
mate descendants of the former. The Bodos are further 
sub-divided into a series of septs, e.g., Kurum (tortoise), 
Bhag (tiger), Nag (cobra), and Surya (sun). The caste 
is highly organized, and the head of a local centre is 


called B hatha Nayako. He is assisted by a Pradhani, 
an Umriya Nayako, and Dolayi. The caste messenger 
is called Cholano, and he carries a silver baton when he 
summons the castemen to a meeting. An elaborate 
ceremony is performed when a person, who has been 
tried by the caste council, is to be received back into 
the caste. He is accompanied to the bank of a stream, 
where his tongue is burnt with a gold or silver wire or 
ornament by the Bhatha Nayako, and some offerings 
from the Jagannatha temple at Puri are given to him. 
He is then taken home, and provides a feast, at which 
the Nayako has the privilege of eating first. He has 
further to make a present of cloths to the assembled 
elders, and the four heads of the caste receive a larger 
quantity than the others. The feast over, he is again 
taken, carrying some cooked rice, to the stream, and with 
it pushed therein. This ceremonial bath frees him from 

Girls are married either before or after puberty. A 
man can claim his paternal aunt's daughter in marriage. 
The bridegroom's party proceed, with the bridegroom, 
to the bride's village, and take up their abode in a 
separate house. They then take three cloths for the 
bride's mother, three rupees for her father, and a cloth 
and two annas for each of her brothers, and present them 
together with rice, liquor, and other articles. Pandals 
(booths) are erected in front of the quarters of the bridal 
couple, that of the bridegroom being made of nine, and 
that of the bride of five sal {Skorea robusta) poles, to 
which a pot containing myrabolams {Terminalia fruits) 
and rice is tied. The couple bathe, and the bridegroom 
proceeds to the house of the bride. The Desari, who 
officiates, dons the sacred thread, and divides the pandal 
into two by means of a screen or curtain. The couple 

19 1 PERIKE 

go seven times round the pandal, and the screen is 
removed. They then enter the pandal, and the Desari 
links their little fingers together. The day's ceremony 
concludes with a feast. On the following day, the bride is 
conducted to the house of the bridegroom, and they 
sprinkle each other with turmeric water. They then 
bathe in a stream or river. Another feast is held, with 
much drinking, and is followed by a wild dance. The 
remarriage of widows is permitted, and a younger brother 
may marry the widow of his elder brother. The dead 
are burnt, and death pollution is observed for ten days, 
during which the relatives of the deceased are fed by 
members of another sept. On the tenth day a caste 
feast takes place. 

The Pentiyas are said * to distribute rice, and other 
things, to Brahmans, once a year on the new-moon day 
in the month of Bhadrapadam (September-October), and 
to worship a female deity named Kamilli on Saturdays. 
No one, I am informed, other, I presume, than a Pentiya, 
would take anything from a house where she is worship- 
ped, lest the goddess should accompany him, and require 
him to become her devotee. 

The caste title is Nayako. 

Peraka (tile). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Perike.^This word is defined, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as meaning literally a gunny bag, 
and the Perikes are summed up as being a Telugu caste 
of gunny bag (goni) weavers, corresponding to the 
Janappans of the Tamil districts. Gunny bag is the 
popular and trading name of the coarse sacking and 
sacks made from the fibre of jute, much used in Indian 
trade. It is noted, in the Census Report, 1891, that 

• Madras Census Report, 1901. 


"the Perikes claim to be a separate caste, but they 
seem to be in reab'ty a sub-division, and not a very 
exalted sub-division, of Balijas, being in fact identical 
with the Uppu (salt) Balijas. Their hereditary occupa- 
tion is carrying salt, grain, etc., on bullocks and donkeys 
in perikes or packs. Perike is found among the 
sub-divisions of both Kavarai and Balija. Some of 
them, however, have attained considerable wealth, and 
now claim to be Kshatriyas, saying that they are the 
descendants of the Kshatriyas who ran away (piriki, 
a coward) from the persecution of Parasurama. Others 
again say they are Kshatriyas who went into retirement, 
and made hills (giri) their abode (puri)." These Perike 
* Kshatriyas ' are known as Puragiri Kshatriya and Giri 
Razu. The Periki Balijas are described, in the Vizaga- 
patam Manual, as chiefly carrying on cultivation and 
trade, and some of them are said to hold a high position 
at ' the Presidency ' (Madras) and in the Vizagapatam 

Perike women appear to have frequently committed 
sati (or suttee) on the death of their husbands in former 
days, and the names of those who thus sacrificed their 
lives are still held in reverence. A peculiar custom 
among the Perikes is the erection of big square 
structures (brindavanam), in which a tulsi {Ocimum 
sanctum) is planted, on the spot where the ashes of the 
dead are buried after cremation. I am informed that a 
fine series of these structures may be seen at Chipura- 
palli, close to Vizianagram. As a mark of respect to 
the dead, passers-by usually place a lac bangle or flowers 
thereon. The usual titles of the Perikes are Anna and 
Ayya, but some style themselves Rao ( = Raya, king) 
or Rayadu, in reference to fheir alleged Kshatriya 


For the following note on the Perikes of the Godavari 
district, I am indebted to Mr. F. R. Hemingway. " Like 
some of the Kammas, they claim. to be of Kshatriya 
stock, and say they are of the lineage of Parasu Rama, 
but were driven out by him for kidnapping his sister, 
while pretending to be gunny-bag weavers. They say 
that they were brought to this country by king Nala of 
the Mahabharata, in gratitude for their having taken care 
of his wife Damayanti when he quitted her during his 
misfortunes. They support the begging caste of Varugu 
Bhattas, who, they say, supported them during their 
exile, and to whom they gave a sanad (deed of grant) 
authorising them to demand alms. These people go 
round the Perike houses for their dues every year. The 
Pisu Perikes, who still weave gunny-bags, are said not to 
belong to the caste proper, members of which style 
themselves Racha Perikes. 

" The Perikes say that, like the Komatis, they have 
loi gotras. Their marriage ceremonies are peculiar. 
On the day of the wedding, the bride and bridegroom are 
made to fast, as also are three male relatives, whom they 
call suribhaktas. At the marriage, the couple sit on a 
gunny-bag, and another gunny, on which a representa- 
tion of the god Mailar is drawn or painted, is spread 
between them. The same god is drawn on two pots, 
and these, and also a third pot, are filled with rice and 
dhal {Cajanus indicus), which are cooked by two married 
women. The food is then offered to Mailar. Next, the 
three suribhaktas take loi cotton threads, fasten them 
together, and tie seven knots in them. The bride and 
bridegroom are given cloths which have been partly 
immersed in water coloured with turmeric and chunam 
(lime), and the suribhaktas are fed with the rice and dhal 
cooked in the pots. The couple are then taken round 
VI- 1 3 


the village in procession, and, on their return, the knotted 
cotton threads are tied round the bride's neck instead 
of a tali. 

Some Perikes style themselves Sathu vandlu, mean- 
ing a company of merchants or travellers. 

Perike Muggula is the name of a class of Telugu 
mendicants and exorcists. 

Periya (big). — Periya or Periyanan has been re- 
corded as a sub-division of Karalan, Kunnuvan, Occhan, 
and Pattanavan. The equivalent Peru or Perum occurs 
as a sub-division of the Malayalam Kollans and Vannans 
and Perim of Kanikars. Periya illom is the name of an 
exogamous illom of Kanikars in Travancore. 

Perugadannaya (bandicoot rat sept). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Bant. 

Perum Tali (big tali). — A sub-division of Idaiyan, 
and of Kaikolans, whose women wear a big tali (marriage 

Perumal.— -Perumal is a synonym of Vishnu, and 
the name is taken by some Pallis who are staunch 
Vaishnavites. A class of mendicants, who travel about 
exhibiting performing bulls in the southern part of the 
Madras Presidency, is known as Perumal Madukkaran or 
Perumal Erudukkaran. Perumalathillom, meaning appa- 
rently big mountain house, is an exogamous sept or illom 
of the Kanikars of Travancore. 

Pesala (seeds of Phaseolus Mungo : green gram). — 
An exogamous sept of Jogi. 

Peta (street). — A sub-division of Balija. 

Pettigeyavaru (box). — A sub-division of Gangadi- 
kara Vakkaliga. 

Pichiga (sparrow). — An exogamous sept of Boya 
and Devanga. The equivalent Pital occurs as a sept of 


Pichigunta.— The name Pichigunta means literally 
an assembly of beggars, who are described * as being, 
in the Telugu country, a class of mendicants, who 
are herbalists, and physic people for fever, stomach- 
ache, and other ailments. They beat the village drums, 
relate stories and legends, and supply the place of a 
Herald's Office, as they have a reputation for being 
learned in family histories, and manufacture pedigrees 
and gotras (house names) for Kapus, Kammas, Gollas, 
and others. 

The Picchai or Pinchikuntar are described in the 
Salem Manual as " servants to the Kudianavars or 
cultivators — a name commonly assumed by Vellalas and 
Pallis. The story goes that a certain Vellala had a 
hundred and two children, of whom only one was a 
female. Of the males, one was lame, and his hundred 
brothers made a rule that one would provide him with 
one kolagam of grain and one fanam (a coin) each year. 
They got him married to a Telugu woman of a different 
caste, and the musicians who attended the ceremony 
were paid nothing, the brothers alleging that, as the 
bridegroom was a cripple, the musicians should offici- 
ate from charitable motives. The descendants of this 
married pair, having no caste of their own, became 
known as Picchi or Pinchikuntars (beggars, or lame). 
They are treated as kudipinnai (inferior) by Vellalas, 
and to the present day receive their prescribed miras 
(fee) from the Vellala descendants of the hundred 
brothers, to whom, on marriage and other festivals, they 
do service by relating the genealogies of such Vellalas 
as they are acquainted with. Some serve the Vellalas 
in the fields, and others live by begging." * 

* Manuals of Nellore and Kurnool. 
VI-I3 B 


The caste beggars of the Tottiyans are known as 

Pidakala (cow-dung cakes or bratties). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Devanga. Dried cow-dung cakes are 
largely used by natives as fuel, and may be seen stuck 
on to the walls of houses. 

Pidaran. — A section of Ambalavasis, who, according 
to Mr. Logan* "drink liqour, exorcise devils, and are 
worshippers of Bhadrakali or of Sakti. The name is 
also applied to snake-catchers, and it was probably con- 
ferred on the caste owing to the snake being an emblem 
of the human passion embodied in the deities they 

Pilapalli. — The Pilapallis are a small caste or commu- 
nity in Travancore, concerning which Mr. S. Subramanya 
Aiyar writes as follows. t "The following sketch will 
show what trifling circumstances are sufficient in this 
land of Parasurama to call a new caste into existence. 
The word Pilapally is supposed to be a corruption of 
Belal Thalli, meaning forcibly ejected. It therefore con- 
tains, as though in a nutshell, the history of the origin 
of this little community, which it is used to designate. 
In the palmy days of the Chempakasseri Rajas, about the 
year 858 M.E., there lived at the court of the then ruling 
Prince at Ambalappuzha a Namburi Brahman who stood 
high in the Prince's favour, and who therefore became an 
eye-sore to all his fellow courtiers. The envy and hatred 
of the latter grew to such a degree that one day they put 
their heads together to devise a plan which should at 
once strip him of all influence at court, and humble him 
in the eyes of the public. The device hit upon was a 
strange one, and characteristic of that dim and distant 

* Manual of Malabar. f Malabar Quarterly Review. V, 4, 1907. 


past. The Namburi was the custodian of all presents 
made to the Prince, and as such it was a part of his daily 
work to arrange the articles presented in their proper 
places. It was arranged that one day a dead fish, beauti- 
fully tied up and covered, should be placed among the 
presents laid before the Prince. The victim of the plot, 
little suspecting there was treachery in the air, removed 
all the presents as usual with his own hand. H is enemies 
at court, who were but waiting for an opportunity of 
humbling him to the dust, thereupon caused the bundle 
to be examined before the Prince, when it became evident 
that it contained a dead fish. Now, for a Namburi to 
handle a dead fish was, according to custom, sufficient 
to make him lose caste. On the strength of this argu- 
ment, the Prince, who was himself a Brahmin, was easily 
prevailed upon to put the Namburi out of the pale of 
caste, and the court favourite was immediately excom- 
municated. There is another and a slightly different 
version of the story, according to which the Namburi in 
question was the hereditary priest of the royal house, 
to whom fell the duty of removing and preserving the 
gifts. In course of time he grew so arrogant that 
the Prince himself wanted to get rid of him, but, the 
office of the priest being hereditary, he did not find 
an easy way of accomplishing his cherished object, and, 
after long deliberation with those at court in whom 
he could confide, came at last to the solution narrated 
above. It is this forcible ejection that the expression 
Belal Thalli (afterwards changed into Pilapally) is said 
to import . . . . It appears that the unfortunate 
Namburi had two wives, both of whom elected to share 
his fate. Accordingly, the family repaired to Paravur, 
a village near Kallarkode, where their royal patron made 
them a gift of land. Although they quitted Ambalapuzha 


for good, they seem to have long owned there a 
madathummuri (a room in a series, in which Brahmins 
from abroad once lived and traded), and are said to be 
still entitled daily to a measure of palpayasom from the 
temple, a sweet pudding of milk, rice and sugar, cele- 
brated all over Malabar for its excellence. The progeny 
of the family now count in all about ninety members, 
who live in eight or nine different houses." 

Pillai.— Pillai, meaning child, is in the Tamil country 
primarily the title of Vellalas, but has, at recent times 
of census, been returned as the title of a number of 
classes, which include Agamudaiyan, Ambalakaran, Golla, 
Idaiyan, Nayar, Nokkan, Panisavan, Panikkan, Paraiyan, 
Saiyakkaran, Sembadavan and Senaikkudaiyans. Pilla 
is further used as the title of the male offspring of 
Deva-dasis. Many Paraiyan butlers of Europeans have 
assumed the title Pillai as an honorific suffix to their 
name. So, too, have some criminal Koravas, who pose 
as Vellalas. 

Pillaikuttam.^Recorded, in the Manual of the 
North Arcot district, as a bastard branch of Vaniyan. 

Pillaiyarpatti (Ganesa village). — An exogamous 
section or kovil of Nattukottai Chetti. 

Pilli (cat). — An exogamous sept of Chembadi, Mala, 
and Medara. 

Pindari.^In the Madras Census Report, 1901, fifty- 
nine Pindaris are returned as a Bombay caste of personal 
servants. They are more numerous in the Mysore pro- 
vince, where more than two thousand were returned in 
the same year as being engaged in agriculture and 
Government service. The Pindaris were formerly cele- 
brated as a notorious class of freebooters, who, in the 
seventeenth century, attached themselves to the Mara- 
thas in their revolt against Aurangzib, and for a long 


time afterwards, committed raids in all directions, 
extending their operations to Southern India. It is on 
record that " in a raid made upon the coast extending 
from Masulipatam northward, the Pindaris in ten days 
plundered 339 villages, burning many, killing and wound- 
ing 682 persons, torturing 3,600, and carrying off or 
destroying property to the amount of ^250,000."* They 
were finally suppressed, in Central India, during the 
Viceroyalty of the Marquis of Hastings, in 18 17. 

Pindi (flour). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Pinjari (cotton-cleaner). — A synonym for Dudekula. 
Pinjala (cotton) occurs as an exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Pippala (pepper : Piper longum). — An exogamous 
sept or gotra of Gamalla and Komati. 

Pisharati.— The Pisharatisor Pisharodisare summed 
up in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being a sub- 
caste of Ambalavasis, which makes flower garlands, and 
does menial service in the temples. As regards their 
origin, the legend runs to the effect that a Swamiyar, or 
Brahman ascetic, once had a disciple of the same caste, 
who wished to become a Sanyasi or anchorite. All the 
ceremonies prior to shaving the head of the novice were 
completed, when, alarmed at the prospect of a cheerless 
life and the severe austerities incidental thereto, he made 
himself scarce. Pishara denotes a Sanyasi's pupil, and 
as he, after running away, was called Pisharodi, the 
children born to him of a Parasava woman by a subse- 
quent marriage were called Pisharatis. In his * Early 
Sovereigns of Travancore,' Mr. Sundaram Pillay says that 
the Pisharati's " puzzling position among the Malabar 
castes, half monk and half layman, is far from being 
accounted for by the silly and fanciful modern derivation 

* Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 


of Pisharakal plus Odi, Pisharakal being more mysterious 
than Pisharati itself. " It is suggested by him that 
Pisharati is a corruption of Bhattaraka-tiruvadi. Accord- 
ing to the Jati-nirnaya, the Bhattarakas are a community 
degraded from the Brahmans during the Treta Yuga. 
As far as we are able to gather from mediaeval Travan- 
core inscriptions, an officer known as Pidara-tiruvadi 
was attached to every temple. It is known that he used 
to receive large perquisites for temple service, and that 
extensive rice-lands were given to the Bhattakara of 
Nelliyur. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that 
** the traditional etymology of the name Pisharodi refers 
it to a Sanyasi novice, who, deterred by the prospects 
of the hardship of life on which he was about to enter, 
ran away (odi) at the last moment, after he had been 
divested of the punul (thread), but before he had per- 
formed the final ceremony of plunging thrice in a tank 
(pond), and of plucking out, one at each plunge, the 
last three hairs of his kudumi (the rest of which had 
been shaved off). But the termination * Odi ' is found 
in other caste titles such as Adiyodi and Vallodi, and 
the definition is obviously fanciful, while it does not 
explain the meaning of Pishar." 

The houses of Pisharatis are called pisharam. Their 
primary occupation is to prepare garlands of flowers for 
Vaishnava temples, but they frequently undertake the 
talikazhakam or sweeping service in temples. Being 
learned men, and good Sanskrit scholars, they are 
employed as Sanskrit and Malayalam tutors in the 
families of those of high rank, and, in consequence, 
make free use of the title Asan. They are strict 
Vaishnavites, and the ashtakshara, or eight letters 
relating to Vishnu, as opposed to the panchakshara or 
five letters relating to Siva, forms their daily hymn of 


prayer. They act as their own caste priests, but for 
the punyaha or purificatory ceremony and the initia- 
tion into the ashtakshara, which are necessary on special 
occasions, the services of Brahmans are engaged. 

The Pisharatis celebrate the tali-kettu ceremony 
before the girl reaches puberty. The most important 
item therein is the joining of the hands of the bride 
and bridegroom. The planting of a jasmine shoot is 
observed as an indispensable preliminary rite. The 
events between this and the joining of hands are the 
same as with other Ambalavasis. The bride and bride- 
groom bathe, and wear clothes touched by each other. 
The girl's mother then gives her a wedding garland 
and a mirror, with which she sits, her face covered 
with a cloth. The cherutali, or marriage ornament, 
is tied by the bridegroom round the girl's neck. If 
this husband dies, the tali has to be removed, and the 
widow observes pollution. Her sons have to make 
oblations of cooked rice, and, for all social and reli- 
gious purposes, the woman is regarded as a widow, 
though she is not debarred from contracting a sam- 
bandham (alliance) with a man of her own caste, or 
a Brahman. If the wife dies, the husband has, in 
like manner, to observe pollution, and make oblations 
of cooked rice. There are cases in which the tali- 
kettu is performed by a Pisharati, and sambandham 
contracted with a Brahman. If the tali-tier becomes the 
husband, no separate cloth-giving ceremony need be 
gone through by him after the girl has reached puberty. 

Inheritance is in the female line, so much so that a 
wife and children are not entitled to compensation for the 
performance of a man's funeral rites. 

No particular month is fixed for the name-giving rite, 
as it suffices if this is performed before the annaprasana 


ceremony. The maternal uncle first names the child. 
When it is four or six months old, it is taken out to see 
the sun. On the occasion of the annaprasana, which 
usually takes place in the sixth month, the maternal 
uncle gives the first mouthful of cooked rice to the child 
by means of a golden ring. The Yatrakali serves as the 
night's entertainment for the assembled guests. Nam- 
butiris are invited to perform the purificatory ceremony 
known as punyaha, but the consecrated water is only 
sprinkled over the roof of the house. The inmates there- 
of protrude their heads beneath the eaves so as to get 
purified, as the Brahmans do not pour the water over 
them. The chaula or tonsure takes place at the third 
year of a child's life. The maternal uncle first touches 
the boy's head with a razor, and afterwards the Maran 
and barber do the same. The initiation into the ashtak- 
shara takes place at the age of sixteen. On an auspicious 
day, a Brahman brings a pot of water, consecrated in a 
temple, to the pisharam, and pours its contents on the 
head of the lad who is to be initiated. The ceremony is 
called kalasam-ozhuk-kua, or letting a pot of water flow. 
After the teaching of the ashtakshara, the youth, dressed 
in religious garb, makes a ceremonial pretence of pro- 
ceeding on a pilgrimage to Benares, as a Brahman does 
at the termination of the Brahmacharya stage of life. It 
is only after this that a Pisharati is allowed to chew 
betel leaf, and perform other acts, which constitute the 
privileges of a Grihastha. 

The funeral rites of the Pisharatis are very peculiar. 
The corpse is seated on the ground, and a nephew recites 
the ashtakshara, and prostrates himself before it. The 
body is bathed, and dressed. A grave, nine feet deep 
and three feet square, is dug in a corner of the grounds, 
and salt and ashes, representing all the Panchabhutas, 


are spread. The corpse is placed in the grave in a 
sitting posture. As in the case of a Sanyasi, who is a 
Jivanmukta, or one liberated from the bondage of the 
flesh though alive in body, so a dead Pisharati is believed 
to have no suitable body requiring to be entertained with 
any post-mortem offerings. A few memorial rites are, 
however, performed. On the eleventh day, a ceremony 
corresponding to the ekoddishta sradh of the Brahman is 
carried out. A knotted piece of kusa grass, represent- 
ing the soul of the deceased, is taken to a neighbouring 
temple, where a lighted lamp, symbolical of Maha Vishnu 
is worshipped, and prayers are offered. This ceremony 
is repeated at the end of the first year.* 

Some Pisharatis are large land-owners of considerable 
wealth and influence.! 

Pisu Perike. — Perikes who weave gunny-bags. 
Pitakalu (dais, on which a priest sits). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Odde. 

Pittalavadu. — A Telugu name for Kuruvikkarans. 
Podapotula.— -A class of mendicants, who beg from 

Podara Vannan. — The Podara, Podarayan or Po- 
thora Vannans are washermen of inferior social status, 
who wash clothes for Pallans, Paraiyans, and other low 

Podhano.— Recorded, at times of census, as a title 
of Bolasi, Gaudo, Kalingi, Kudumo, and Samantiya. 
The Samantiyas also frequently give it as the name of 
their caste. 

Poduval. — Defined by Mr. Wigram { as one of the 
Ambalavasi castes, the members of which are as a rule 
employed as temple watchmen. Writing concerning 

* This note is from an account by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 

t Gazetteer of the Malabar district. J Malabar Law and Custom. 


the Mussads or Muttatus, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar 
states that they are known as Muttatus or Mussatus 
in Travancore and Cochin, and Potuvals (or Poduvals) 
or Akapotuvals in North Malabar. Potuval means a 
common person, i.e., the representative of a committee, 
and a Muttatus right to this name accrues from the 
fact that, in the absence of the Nambutiri managers 
of a temple, he becomes their agent, and is invested 
with authority to exercise all their functions. The work 
of an Akapotuval always lies within the inner wall of 
the shrine, while that of the Purappotuval, or Potuval 
proper, lies outside. From Travancore, Poduvan or 
Potuvan is recorded as a synonym or sub-division of 
Marans, who are employed at funerals by various 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that 
" Pura Pothuvals are of two classes, Chenda Pothuvals 
or drum Pothuvals, and Mala Pothuvals or garland Pothu- 
vals, the names of course referring to the nature of the 
service which they have to render in the temple. The 
Chenda Pothuvals would appear to be closely connected 
with the Marars or Marayars, who are also drummers. 
Mala Pothuvals follow marumakkattayam (inheritance 
in the female line), their women having sambandham 
(alliance) with men of their own caste or with Brahmans, 
while the men can have sambandham in their own caste, 
or with Nayar women of any of the sub-divisions 
below Kiriyattil. Their women are called Pothuvarassiar 
or Pothuvattimar." It is further recorded * that, in some 
cases, for instance among Mala Pothuvals and Marars in 
South Malabar, a fictitious consummation is an incident 
of the tali-kettu ; the girl and manavalan (bridegroom) 

* 26»d. 


being made to lie on a bed together, and left there alone 
for a few moments. Amongst the Mala Pothuvals this 
is done twice, once on the first and once on the last day, 
and they apparently also spend the three nights of the 
ceremony in the same bed-chamber, but not alone, an 
Enangatti sleeping there as chaperone. In these two 
castes, as in most if not all others, the ceremony also 
entails the pollution of the girl and her bridegroom. 
Amongst the Marars, they are purified by a Nambudiri 
after they leave their quasi-nuptial couch. Amongst 
the Mala Pothuvals, they are not allowed to bathe or to 
touch others during the wedding till the fourth day, 
when they are given mattu (change of cloths) by the 

Podala occurs as a Canarese form of Poduval. 
Pogandan.— A synonym of Pondan. 
Pokanati.— Pokanati or Pakanati is a sub-division 
of Kapu. 

Poladava.—- A synonym of Gatti. 
Poligar (feudal chief). — A synonym of Palayakkaran. 
According to Yule and Burnell,* the Poligars "were 
properly subordinate feudal chiefs, occupying tracts 
more or less wild, and generally of predatory habits in 
former days. They are now much the same as Zemindars 
(land-owners) in the highest use of that term. The 
Southern Poligars gave much trouble about a hun- 
dred years ago, and the ' Poligar wars ' were somewhat 
serious affairs. In various assaults on Panjalamkurichi, 
one of their forts in Tinnevelly, between 1799 and 
1 80 1, there fell fifteen British officers." The name 
Poligar was further used for the predatory classes, which 
served under the chiefs. Thus, in Munro's 'Narrative 

• Hobson>Jobson. 


of Military Operations' (1780-84), it is stated that 
" the matchlock men are generally accompanied by 
Poligars, a set of fellows that are almost savages, and 
make use of no other weapon than a pointed bamboo 
spear, 18 or 20 feet long." 

The name Poligar is given to a South Indian breed 
of greyhound-like dogs in the Tinnevelly district. 

Pombada. — A small class of Canarese devil-dancers, 
who are said,* in South Canara, to resemble the Nalkes, 
but hold a somewhat higher position, and in devil- 
dances to represent a better class of demons. Unlike 
the Nalkes and Paravas, they follow the aliya santana 
system of inheritance. They speak Tulu, and, in their 
customs, follow those of the Billavas. There are two 
sections among the Pombadas, viz., Bailu, who are 
mainly cultivators, and Padarti, who are chiefly engaged 
in devil-dancing. The Pombadas are not, like the 
Nalkes and Paravas, a polluting class, and are socially 
a little inferior to the Billavas. They do not wear the 
disguises of the bhuthas (devils) Nicha, Varte, and 
Kamberlu, who are considered low, but wear those of 
Jumadi, Panjurli, Jarandaya, Mahisandeya, and Koda- 
manithaya. Ullaya or Dharmadevata is regarded as a 
superior bhutha, and the special bhutha of the Pombadas, 
who do not allow Nalkes or Paravas to assume his 
disguise. During the Jumadi Kola (festival), the Pombada 
who represents the bhutha Jumadi is seated on a cart, 
and dragged in procession through the streets. (See 

Pon Chetti (gold merchant). — A synonym of Mala- 
yalam Kammalan goldsmiths. 

Pon (gold) Illam.— A section of Mukkuvans. 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 


Pondan. — "There are," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* 
'* only twenty-eight persons of this caste in Malabar, and 
they are all in Calicut. These are the palanquin-bearers 
of the Zamorin. They are in dress, manners, customs, 
and language entirely Tamilians, and, while the Zamorin 
is polluted by the touch of any ordinary Tamilian, these 
Pondans enjoy the privilege of bearing him in a palan- 
quin to and from the temple every day. Now there is a 
sub-division of the Tamil Idaiyans by name Pogondan, 
and I understand that these Pogondans are the palanquin- 
bearers of the Idaiyan caste. It seems probable that the 
founder, or some early member of the Zamorin, obtained 
palanquin-bearers of his own (cowherd) caste and granted 
them privileges which no other Tamilians now enjoy." 

Pondra.— Pondra, or Ponara, is a sub-division of 

Ponganadu.— -Ponganadu and Ponguvan have been 
recorded, at times of census, as a sub-division of Kapu, 
A corrupt form of Pakanati. 

Ponnambalaththar. — A class of mendicants, who 
have attached themselves to the Kaikolans. 

Ponnar a.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Poruvannurkaran.— A class of carpenters in 

Poroja. — The Porojas or Parjas are hill cultivators 
found in the Agency tracts of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. 
Concerning them, it is noted, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1871, that "there are held to be seven classes 
of these Parjas, which differ from each other in points 
of language, customs, and traditions. The term Parja is, 
as Mr. Carmichael has pointed out, merely a corruption 

• Madras Census Report, 1891, 


of a Sanskrit term signifying a subject, and it is under- 
stood as such by the people themselves, who use it in 
contradistinction to a free hill-man. ' Formerly/ says a 
tradition that runs through the whole tribe, ' Rajas and 
Parjas were brothers, but the Rajas took to riding horses 
(or, as the Barenja Parjas put it, sitting still) and we 
became carriers of burdens and Parjas.' It is quite certain, 
in fact, that the term Parja is not a tribal denomination, 
but a class denomination, and it may be fitly rendered 
by the familiar epithet of ryot (cultivator). I have 
laid stress on this, because all native officials, and every 
one that has written about the country (with the above 
exception), always talk of the term Parja as if it signi- 
fied a caste. There is no doubt, however, that by far 
the greater number of these Parjas are akin to the 
Khonds of the Ganjam Maliahs. They are thrifty, hard- 
working cultivators, undisturbed by the intestine broils 
which their cousins in the north engage in, and they bear 
in their breasts an inalienable reverence for their soil, 
the value of which they are rapidly becoming acquainted 
with. The Parja bhumi (land) is contained almost 
entirely in the upper level. Parts to the south held under 
Pachipenta and Madugulu (Madgole) are not Parja 
bhumi, nor, indeed, are some villages to the north in 
the possession of the Khonds. Their ancient rights to 
these lands are acknowledged by colonists from among 
the Aryans, and, when a dispute arises concerning the 
boundaries of a field possessed by recent arrivals, a Parja 
is usually called in to point out the ancient land-marks." 
The name Poroja seems to be derived from the Oriya, 
Po, son, and Raja, i.e., sons of Rajas. There is a tradi- 
tion that, at the time when the Rajas of Jeypore rose into 
prominence at Nandapur, the country was occupied by 
a number of tribes, who, in return for the protection 


promised to them, surrendered their rights to the soil, 
which they had hitherto occupied absolutely. I am 
informed that the Porojas, when asked what their caste 
is, use ryot and Poroja as synonymous, saying we are 
Porojas ; we are ryot people. 

The Parji language is stated by Mr. G. A. Grierson* 
to have " hitherto been considered as identical with 
Bhatrl. Bhatri has now become a form of Oriya. Parji, 
on the other hand, is still a dialect of Gondi." The 
Bhatras are a tribe inhabiting the state of Bastar in the 
Central Provinces. 

The Porojas are not a compact caste, but rather a 
conglomerate, made up of several endogamous sections, 
and speaking a language, which varies according to 
locality. These sections, according to Mr. C. Hayava- 
dana Rao, to whom I am indebted for much of the present 
note, are — 

(i) Barang Jhodia, who eat beef and speak Oriya. 

(2) Pengu Poroja, subdivided into those who eat 
the flesh of the buffalo, and those who do not. They 
speak a language, which is said to bear a close resem- 
blance to Kondhs. 

(3) Khondi or Kondi Poroja, who are a section of 
the Kondhs, eat beef and the flesh of buffaloes, and speak 
Kodu or Kondh. 

(4) Parengi Poroja, who are a section of the 
Gadabas. They are subdivided into those who eat 
and do not eat the flesh of buffaloes, and speak a Gadaba 

(5) Bonda, Bunda, or Nanga Poroja, who are like- 
wise a section of the Gadabas, call themselves Bonda 
Gadaba, and speak a dialect of Gadaba. 

* Linguistic Survey of India, IV, 1906. 


(6) Tagara Poroja, who are a section of the Koyas 
or Koyis, and speak Koya, or, in some places, Telugu. 

(7) Dur Poroja, also, it is said, known as Didayi 
Poroja, who speak Oriya. 

Among the Barang Jhodias, the gidda (vulture), 
bagh (tiger), and nag (cobra) are regarded as totems. 
Among the Pengu, Kondhi and Dur divisions, the two 
last are apparently regarded as such, and, in addition to 
them, the Bonda Porojas have mandi (cow). 

In the Barang Jhodia, Pengu, and Kondhi divisions, 
it is customary for a man to marry his paternal aunt's 
daughter, but he cannot claim her as a matter of right, 
for the principle of free love is recognised among them. 
The dhangada and dhangadi basa system, according to 
which bachelors and unmarried girls sleep in separate 
quarters in a village, is in force among the Porojas. 

When a marriage is contemplated among the Barang 
Jhodias, the parents of the young man carry two pots 
of liquor and some rice to the parents of the girl, who 
accept the present, if they are favourable to the match. 
If it is accepted, the future bridegroom's party renew 
the proposal a year later by bringing five kunchams of 
rice, a new female cloth, seven uddas of liquor, and a 
sum of money ranging from fifteen to fifty rupees. On 
the following evening, the bride, accompanied by her 
relations, goes to the village of the bridegroom. Outside 
his house two poles have been set up, and joined 
together at the top by a string, from which a gourd 
{Cucurbita maxima) is suspended. As soon as the 
contracting couple come before the house, a tall man 
cuts the gourd with his tangi (axe) and it falls to the 
ground. The pair then enter the house, and the bride 
is presented with a new cloth by the parents of the 
bridegroom. Opposite the bridegroom's house is a 


square fence, forming an enclosure, from which the 
bride's party watch the proceedings. They are joined 
by the bride and bridegroom, and the parents of the 
latter distribute ragi {Eleusine Corocana) liquor and 
ippa [Bassid) liquor. A dance, in which both males 
and females take part, is kept up till the small hours, 
and, on the following day, a feast is held. About 
midday, the bride is formally handed over to the bride- 
groom, in the presence of the Janni and Mudili (caste 
elders). She remains a week at her new home, and 
then, even though she has reached puberty, returns to 
her father's house, where she remains for a year, before 
finally joining her husband. In another form of marriage 
among the Barang Jhodias, the bride is brought to the 
house of the bridegroom, in front of which a pandal 
(booth), made of six poles, is set up. The central pole 
is cut from the neredi chettu [Eugenia Jambolana). At 
the auspicious moment, which is fixed by the Disari, the 
maternal uncle of the bridegroom sits with the bride- 
groom on his lap, and the bride at his feet. Castor-oil 
is then applied by the bridegroom's father, first to the 
bridegroom, and then to the bride. A feast follows, at 
which fowls and liquor are consumed. On the following 
day, the newly-married couple bathe, and the ceremonies 
are at an end. 

I am informed by Mr. H. C. Daniel that there is a 
custom among the Porojas, and other classes in Vizaga- 
patam {e.g., Gadabas, Ghasis, and Malis), according to 
which a man gives his services as a goti for a specified 
time to another, in return for a small original loan. His 
master has to keep him supplied with food, and to pay 
him about two rupees at the Dussera festival, as well 
as making him a present of a cloth and a pair of sandals. 
The servant must do whatever he is told, and is 

VI-14 B 


practically a slave until the specified time is over. 
A man may give his son as a goti, instead of himself. 
It is also fairly common to find a man serving his 
prospective father-in-law for a specified time, in order 
to secure his daughter. Men from the plains, usually 
of the Komati caste, who have come to the hills for the 
purpose of trade, go by the local name of Sundi. They 
are the chief upholders of the goti system, by which 
they get labour cheap. Mr. Daniel has never heard 
of a goti refusing to do his work, the contract being 
by both sides considered quite inviolable. But a case 
was recently tried in a Munsiff's Court, in which a goti 
absconded from his original master, and took service with 
another, thereby securing a fresh loan. The original 
master sued him for the balance of labour due. 

The language of the Bonda Porojas, as already indi- 
cated, connects them closely with the Gadabas, but any 
such connection is stoutly denied by them. The names 
Bonda and Nanga mean naked, and bear reference to 
the fact that the only clothing of the women is a strip of 
cloth made from setukudi or ankudi chettu, or kareng 
fibre. In a note on the Bhondas of Jaipur, Mr. J. A. 
May informs us"^ that the female attire " consists of just 
a piece of cloth, either made of kerong bark and manu- 
factured by themselves, or purchased from the weavers, 
about a foot square, and only sufficient to cover a part 
of one hip. It is attached to their waists by a string, on 
which it runs, and can be shifted round to any side. A 
most ludicrous sight has often been presented to me 
by a stampede among a number of these women, when 
I have happened to enter a village unexpectedly. On 
my approach, one and all hurried to their respective 

Ind. Ant., II, I873. 


dwellings, and, as they ran in all directions, endeavoured 
to shift this rag round to the part most likely to be 
exposed to me." The Bonda women have glass bead 
and brass ornaments hung round their necks, and cover- 
ing their bosoms. The legend, which accounts for the 
scanty clothing of the Bondas, runs to the effect that, 
when Sita, the wife of Rama, was bathing in a river, she 
was seen by women of this tribe, who laughed at and 
mocked her. Thereon, she cursed them, and ordained 
that, in future, all the women should shave their heads, 
and wear no clothing except a small covering for 
decency's sake. There is a further tradition that, if the 
Bonda women were to abandon their primitive costume, 
the whole tribe would be destroyed by tigers. The 
shaving of the women's heads is carried out, with a knife 
lent by the village Komaro (blacksmith), by a member 
of the tribe. Round the head, the women wear a piece 
of bamboo tied behind with strings. 

In one form of marriage, as carried out by the 
Bondas, a young man, with some of his friends, goes to 
the sleeping apartment of the maidens, where each of 
them selects a maid for himself. The young men and 
maidens then indulge in a singing contest, in which im- 
promptu allusions to physical attributes, and bantering 
and repartee take place. If a girl decides to accept a 
young man as her suitor, he takes a burning stick from 
the night fire, and touches her breast with it. He then 
withdraws, and sends one of his friends to the girl with 
a brass bangle, which, after some questioning as to who 
sent it, she accepts. Some months later, the man's 
parents go to the girl's home, and ask for her hand on 
behalf of their son. A feast follows, and the girl, with 
a couple of girls of about her own age, goes with the 
man's parents to their home. They send five kunchams 


of rice to the parents of the girl, and present the two 
girls with a similar quantity. The three girls then 
return to their homes. Again several months elapse, 
and then the man's parents go to fetch the bride, and 
a feast and dance take place. The pair are then man 
and wife. 

In another account of the marriage customs of the 
Nanga Porojas, it is stated that pits are dug in the 
ground, in which, during the cold season, the children 
are put at night, to keep them warm. The pit is about 
nine feet in diameter. In the spring, all the marriage- 
able girls of a settlement are put into one pit, and a 
young man, who has really selected his bride with the 
consent of his parents, comes and proposes to her. If 
she refuses him, he tries one after another till he is 
accepted. On one occasion, a leopard jumped into the 
pit, and killed some of the maidens. In a note on 
Bhonda marriage, Mr. May writes * that "a number of 
youths, candidates for matrimony, start off to a village, 
where they hope to find a corresponding number of 
young women, and make known their wishes to the 
elders, who receive them with all due ceremony. The 
juice of the salop (sago palm) in a fermented state is in 
great requisition, as nothing can be done without the 
exhilarating effects of their favourite beverage. They 
then proceed to excavate an underground chamber (if 
one is not already prepared), having an aperture at the 
top, admitting of the entrance of one at a time. Into 
this the young gentlemen, with a corresponding number 
of young girls, are introduced, when they grope about 
and make their selection, after which they ascend out 
of it, each holding the young lady of his choice by the 

* Loc, cit. 


forefinger of one of her hands. Bracelets (the equivalent 
of the wedding ring) are now put on her arms by the 
elders, and two of the young men stand as sponsors 
for each bridegroom. The couples are then led to their 
respective parents, who approve and give their consent. 
After another application of salop and sundry greetings, 
the bridegroom is permitted to take his bride home, 
where she lives with him for a week, and then, returning 
to her parents, is not allowed to see her husband for a 
period of one year, at the expiration of which she is 
finally made over to him." In a still further account of 
marriage among the Bondas, I am informed that a young 
man and a maid retire to the jungle, and light a fire. 
Then the maid, taking a burning stick, applies it to the 
man's gluteal region. If he cries out Am ! Am ! Am ! he 
is unworthy of her, and she remains a maid. If he does 
not, the marriage is at once consummated. The appli- 
cation of the brand is probably light or severe according 
to the girl's feelings towards the young man. According 
to another version, the girl goes off to the jungle with 
several men, and the scene has been described as being 
like a figure in the cotillion, as they come up to be 
switched with the brand. 

Widow remarriage is permitted among all the divi- 
sions of the Porojas, and a younger brother usually 
marries his elder brother's widow. 

The Jhodia, Pengu, and Kondhi divisions worship 
Bhumi Devata (the earth goddess), who is also known 
as Jakar Devata, once in three years. Each village 
offers a cow, goat, pig, and pigeon to her as a sacrifice. 
She is represented by a stone under a tree outside the 
village. A casteman acts as pujari (priest), and all the 
villagers, including the Janni and Mudili, are present at 
the festival, which winds up with a feast and drink. 


The Bondas worship Takurani in the months of Chaitra 
and Magho, and the festival includes the sacrifice of 
animals. " Their religious ceremonies," Mr. May 
writes, " consist in offerings to some nameless deity, or to 
the memory of deceased relations. At each of the prin- 
cipal villages, the Bhondas congregate once a year in 
some spot conveniently situated for their orgies, when a 
chicken, a few eggs, and a pig or goat are offered, after 
which they retire to their houses, and next day assemble 
again, when the salop juice is freely imbibed till the intoxi- 
cating effects have thoroughly roused their pugnacity. 
The process of cudgelling one another with the branches 
of the Salop now begins, and they apply them indis- 
criminately without the smallest regard for each other's 
feelings. This, with the attendant drums and shrieks, 
would give one the impression of a host of maniacs 
suddenly set at liberty. This amusement is continued 
till bruises, contusions, and bleeding heads and backs 
have reduced them to a comparatively sober state, and, 
I imagine, old scores are paid off, when they return to 
their several houses." 

The dead are, as a rule, burnt. By some of the 
Jhodia Porojas, the ashes are subsequently buried "in a 
pit a few feet deep, near the burning-ground, and the 
grave is marked by a heap of stones. A pole is set up in 
this heap, and water poured on it for twelve days. On 
the fourth day, cooked rice and fish are set on the way 
leading to the spot where the corpse was burned. The 
celebrants of the death rite then take mango bark, paint 
it with cow-dung, and sprinkle themselves with it. 
The ceremony concludes with a bath, feast, and drink. 
Among the Bonda Porojas, some of the jewelry of 
the deceased person is burnt with the corpse, and the 
remainder given to the daughter or daughter-in-law. 


They observe pollution for three days, during which 
they do not enter their fields. On the fourth day, they 
anoint themselves with castor-oil and turmeric, and 

Mr. G. F. Paddison informs me that he once gave 
medicine to the Porojas during an epidemic of cholera 
in a village. They all took it eagerly, but, as he was 
going away, asked whether it would not be quicker cure 
to put the witch in the next village, who had brought 
on the cholera, into jail. 

A Bonda Poroja dance is said to be very humour- 
ous. The young men tie a string of bells round their 
legs, and do the active part of the dance. The women 
stand in a cluster, with faces to the middle, clap their 
hands, and scream at intervals, while the men hop and 
stamp, and whirl round them on their own axes. The 
following account of a dance by the Jhodia Poroja girls 
of the Koraput and Nandapuram country is given by 
Mr. W. Francis.* " Picturesque in the extreme," he 
writes, " is a dancing party of these cheery maidens, 
dressed all exactly alike in clean white cloths with cerise 
borders or checks, reaching barely half way to the knee ; 
great rings on their fingers ; brass bells on their toes ; 
their substantial but shapely arms and legs tattooed 
from wrist to shoulder, and from ankle to knee ; their 
left forearms hidden under a score of heavy brass 
bangles ; and their feet loaded with chased brass anklets 
weighing perhaps a dozen pounds. The orchestra, which 
consists solely of drums of assorted shapes and sizes, 
dashes into an overture, and the girls quickly group 
themselves into a couple of corps de ballet, each under 
the leadership of a premiere danseuse, who marks the 

* Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district. 


time with a long baton of peacock's feathers. Suddenly, 
the drums drop to a muffled beat, and each group 
strings out into a long line, headed by the leader with the 
feathers, each maiden passing her right hand behind 
the next girl's back, and grasping the left elbow of the 
next but one. Thus linked, and in time with the drums 
(which now break into allegro crescendo), the long chain 
of girls — dancing in perfect step, following the leader 
with her swaying baton, marking the time by clinking 
their anklets (right, left, right, clink ; left, clink ; right, 
left, right, clink ; and so da capo), chanting the while 
(quite tunefully) in unison a refrain in a minor key 
ending on a sustained falling note — weave themselves 
into sinuous lines, curves, spirals, figures-of-eight, and 
back Into lines again ; wind in and out like some brightly- 
coloured snake ; never halting for a moment, now back- 
wards, now forwards, first slowly and decorously, then, 
as the drums quicken, faster and faster, with more 
and more abandon, and longer and longer steps, until 
suddenly some one gets out of step, and the chain snaps 
amid peals of breathless laughter." 

For the following supplementary note on the Bonda 
Porojas, I am indebted to Mr. C. A. Henderson. 

These people live in the western portion of 
Malkanagiri taluk, along the edge of the hills, probably 
penetrating some distance into them. The elder men 
are not in any way distinguishable from their neighbours. 
Young unmarried men, however, tie a strip of palmyra 
leaf round their heads in the same way as the women of 
their own tribe, or of the Gadabas. The women are 
very distinctly dressed. They all shave their heads 
once a month or so, and fasten a little fillet, made of 
beads or plaited grass, round them. The neck and 
chest are covered with a mass of ornaments, by which 


the breasts are almost concealed. These consist, for the 
most part, of bead necklaces, but they have also one or 
more very heavy brass necklaces of various designs, 
some being merely collections of rings on a connecting 
circlet, some massive hinged devices tied together at the 
end with string. They wear also small ear-studs of lead. 
Apart from these ornaments, they are naked to the 
waist. Round the loins, a small thick cloth is worn. 
This is woven from the fibre of the ringa (Oriya sitkodai 
gotsho). This cloth measures about two feet by eight 
inches, and is of thick texture like gunny, and variously 
coloured. Owing to its exiguity, its wearers are com- 
pelled, for decency's sake, to sit on their heels with their 
knees together, instead of squatting in the ordinary 
native posture. This little cloth is supported round the 
waist by a thread, or light chain of tin and beads, but 
not totally confined thereby. The upper edge of the 
cloth behind is free from the chain, and bulges out, 
exposing the upper portion of the buttocks, the thread 
or chain lying in the small of the back. It is noted 
by Mr. Sandell that " the cloth at present used is of 
comparatively recent introduction, and seems to be a 
slight infringement of the tabu. The original cloth 
and supporting string were undoubtedly made of jungle 
fibre, and the modern colouring is brought about with 
cotton thread. Similarly, the Bonda Poroja necklaces 
of cheap beads, blue and white, must be modern, and 
most obviously so the fragments of tin that they work 
into their chains. The women are said to wear cloths 
in their houses, but to leave them off when they go 
outside. It seems that the tabu is directed against 
appearing in public fully clothed, and not against wear- 
ing decent sized cloths, as such. The party I saw 
were mostly unmarried girls, but one of them had been 

POROJA • 220 

married for a year. When not posing for the camera, 
or dancing, she tied a small piece of cloth round 
her neck, so as to hang over the shoulders. This, as 
far as I could make out, was not because she was 
married, but simply because she was more shy than 
the rest. 

" Two houses are kept in the village, for the 
unmarried girls and young men respectively. Appa- 
rently marriages are matters of inclination, the parents 
having no say in the matter. The young couple having 
contracted friendship (by word of mouth, and not by 
deed, as it was explained to me), inform their parents of 
it. The young man goes to make his demand of the 
girl's parents, apparently without at the time making 
any presents to them, contrary to the custom of the 
Kondhs and others. Then there seem to be a series of 
promises on the part of the parents to give the girl. 
But the witnesses were rather confused on the point. 
I gather that the sort of final betrothal takes place in 
Dyali (the month after Dusserah), and the marriage in 
Magha. At the time of marriage, the girl's parents 
are presented with a pair of bulls, a cloth, and a pot 
of landa (sago-palm toddy). But no return is made 
for them. The father gives the girl some ornaments. 
The married woman, whom I saw, had been given a 
bracelet by her husband, but it was not a conspicuously 
valuable one, and in no way indicative of her status." 
In connection with marriage, Mr. Sandell adds that 
" a youth of one village does not marry a maiden of 
the same village, as they are regarded as brother and 
sister. The marriage pit is still in use, and may 
last all through the cold weather. A number of small 
villages will club together, and have one big pit." In 
the case observed by Mr. Sandell, three of the local 


maidens were shut up in the pit at night, and five stranger 
youths admitted. The pit may be twelve feet across, 
and is covered with tatties (mats) and earth, a trap-door 
being left. 

" After childbirth, the mother is unclean for some 
days. The time is, I gather, reckoned by the dropping 
of the navel-string, and is given as eight to sixteen days. 
During that period, the woman is not allowed to cook, 
or even touch her meals. 

" These people say that they have no puja (worship). 
But at the time of sowing seed, they sacrifice one egg 
(for the whole village) to Matera Hundi, the goddess of 
harvest, who is represented by a branch of the kusi or 
jamo (guava) tree planted in the village. The people 
have no pujaris, and, in this case, the priest was a 
Mattia by caste. He plants the branch, and performs 
the sacrifice. At the time of Nua Khau (new eating ; 
first fruits) a sacrifice of an animal of some kind is also 
made to Matera Hundi. Her aid is, they say, sought 
against the perils of the jungle, but primarily she is 
wanted to give them a good crop. The Bonda Porojas 
are quite ready to tell the old story of Sita (whom they 
call Maha Lakshmi), and her curse upon their women, 
whereby they shave their heads, and may not wear 
cloths. It is stated by Mr. May that a Government 
Agent once insisted on a young woman being properly 
clothed, and she survived the change only three days. I 
understand that this case has been somewhat misrepre- 
sented. The cloth is believed not to have been forced 
upon the girl, but offered to, and greatly appreciated by 
her. Her death shortly afterwards was apparently not 
the result of violation of the tabu, but accidental, and 
due, it is believed, to small-pox. The people whom I 
saw had not heard of this episode, but said that a 


woman who wore a cloth out of doors would fall sick, 
not die. But the possibility of any woman of theirs 
wearing a cloth obviously seemed to them very remote. 
The Bonda Porojas have a sort of belief in ghosts — 
not altogether devils apparently, but the spirits of the 
departed (sayire). These may appear in dreams, influ- 
ence life and health, and vaguely exercise a helpful 
influence over the crops. I did not find out if they were 
propitiated in any way. 

" A dead body is washed, tied to a tatty (mat) 
hurdle, taken outside the village, and burnt. After 
eight days (said to be four in the case of rich men), the 
corpse-bearers, and the family, sit down to a funeral 
feast, at which drinking is not allowed. A pig, fowl, or 
goat, according to the circumstances of the family, forms 
the meal. This is done in some way for the sake of the 
departed, but how is not quite clear. 

" The Bonda Porojas live by cultivation, keep cattle, 
pigs, etc., and eat beef, and even the domestic pig. 
They pride themselves, as against their Hindu neigh- 
bours, in that their women eat with the men, and not 
of their leavings, and do not leave their village. The 
women, however, go to shandies (markets)." 

Pothoria.— Pothoria or Pothriya, meaning stone, is 
the name of a small class of Oriya stone-cutters in 
Ganjam, who are addicted to snaring antelopes by means 
of tame bucks, which they keep for the purpose of 
decoying the wild ones. They employ Brahmans as 
purdhits. Marriage is infant, and remarriage of widows 
is permitted. The females wear glass bangles. 

Pothu.— Pothu or Pothula, meaning male, occurs as 
an exogamous sept of Devanga, Medara, and Padma 
Sale ; and Pothula, in the sense of a male buffalo, as a 
sept of Madiga. 


Potia.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as Oriya mat-makers. They are said to be 
immigrants from Potia in Orissa, who call themselves 
Doluvas. The Doluvas, however, do not recognise 
them, and neither eat nor intermarry with them. 

Potta (abdomen). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Potti (Tamil, worshipful). — Stated, in the Travan- 
core Census Report, 1901, to be the name applied to all 
Kerala Brahmans, who do not come under the specific 
designation of Nambutiris. 

Pouzu (quail). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Powaku (tobacco). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Poyilethannaya (one who removes the evil eye). — 
An exogamous sept of Bant. 

Pradhano (chief). — A title of Aruva, Benaiyto, Odia, 
Kalingi, Kevuto, and Samantiya. 

Pranopakari (one who helps souls). — A name for 
barbers in Travancore. In the early settlement records, 
Pranu occurs as a corruption thereof. 

Prathamasakha. — It is recorded,* in connection 
with the village of Koiltirumalam or Tiru-ambamahalam, 
that " a new temple has been recently built, and richly 
endowed by Nattukottai Chettis. There is, however, 
an old story connected with the place, which is enacted 
at the largely attended festival here, and in many popu- 
lar dramas. This relates that the god of the Tiruvalur 
temple was entreated by a pujari (priest) of this place 
to be present in the village at a sacrifice in his (the 
god's) honour. The deity consented at length, but gave 
warning that he would come in a very unwelcome shape. 
He appeared as a Paraiyan with beef on his back and 
followed by the four Vedas in the form of dogs, and took 

• Gazetteer of the Tanjore district. 


his part in the sacrifice thus accoutred and attended. 
All the Brahmans who were present ran away, and the 
god was so incensed that he condemned them to be 
Paraiyans for one hour in the day, from noon till i p.m. 
ever afterwards. There is a class of Brahmans called 
Midday Brahmans, who are found in several districts, 
and a colony of whom reside at Sedanipuram, five 
miles west of Nannilam. It is believed throughout 
the Tanjore district that the Midday Paraiyans are the 
descendants of the Brahmans thus cursed by the god. 
They are supposed to expiate their defilement by stay- 
ing outside their houses for an hour and a half every 
day at midday, and to bathe afterwards ; and, if they do 
this, they are much respected. Few of them, however, 
observe this rule, and orthodox persons will not eat 
with them, because of this omission to remove the 
defilement. They call themselves the Prathamasakha." 

Prithvi (earth). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Puchcha.— Puccha or Puchcha Kaya (fruit of Ci- 
trullus Colocynthis) is the name of a gotra or sept of 
Boyas, Komatis, and Viramushtis, who are a class of 
mendicants attached to the Komatis. The same name, 
or picchi kaya, denoting the water-melon Citrullus 
vulgaris, occurs as a sept or house-name of Panta 
Reddis and Seniyans (Devangas), the members of which 
may not eat the fruit. The name Desimarada has been 
recently substituted by the Seniyans for picchi kaya. 

Pudamuri (pudaya, a woman's cloth ; muri, cut- 
tings). — Defined by Mr. Wigram as a so-called 'marri- 
age ' ceremony performed among the Nayars in North 
Malabar. {See Nayar.) 

Pudu Nattan (new country). — A sub-division of 

Pu Islam. — See Putiya Islam. 


Pujari.— Pujari is an occupational title, meaning 
priest, or performer of puja (worship). It is described 
by Mr. H. A. Stuart "^ as "a name applied to a class of 
priests, who mostly preside in the temples of the female 
deities — the Grama Devatas or Or Ammas — and not in 
those of Vishnu or Siva. They do not wear the sacred 
thread, except on solemn occasions." Pujari has been 
recorded as a title of Billavas as they officiate as priests 
at bhutasthanas (devil shrines), and of Halepaiks, and 
Pujali as a title of some Irulas. Some families of 
Kusavans (potters), who manufacture clay idols, are also 
known as pujari. Puja occurs as a sub-division of the 
Gollas. Some criminal Koravas travel in the guise of 
Pujaris, and style themselves Korava Pujaris. 

Pula.— A sub-division of Cheruman. 

Pula (flowers). — An exogamous sept of Boya, Padma 
Sale and Yerukala. 

Pulan.— Barbers of Tamil origin, who have settled 
in Travancore. 

Pulavar.— A title of Occhan and Panisavan. 

Pulayan.— 6*^^ Cheruman and Thanda Pulayan. 

Puli (tiger). — Recorded as an exogamous sept or 
gotra of Balija, Golla, Kamma, and Medara. The equi- 
valent Puliattanaya occurs as an exogamous sept of Bant. 

Puliakodan. — A class of carpenters in Malabar, 
whose traditional occupation is to construct oil mills. 

Puliasari. — A division of Malabar Kammalans, the 
members of which do mason's work (puli, earth). Para- 
vas who are engaged in a similar calling are, in like 
manner, called Puli Kollan. 

Pulikkal. — Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 
VI- 1 5 


Puliyan.— A sub-division of Nayar. 

Puliyattu.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1901, as synonymous with PuUkkappanikkan, a 
sub-division of Nayar. 

PuUakura (pot-herbs). — An exogamous sept of 

Pulluvan.— The Pulluvans of Malabar are astrolo- 
gers, medicine-men, priests and singers in snake groves. 
The name is fancifully derived from pullu, a hawk, 
because the Pulluvan is clever in curing the disorders 
which pregnant women and babies suffer from through 
the evil influence of these birds. The Pulluvans are 
sometimes called Vaidyans (physicians). 

As regards the origin of the caste, the following 
tradition is narrated.* Agni, the fire god, had made 
several desperate but vain efforts to destroy the great 
primeval forest of Gandava. The eight serpents which 
had their home in the forest were the chosen friends of 
Indra, who sent down a deluge, and destroyed, every 
time, the fire which Agni kindled in order to burn down 
the forest. Eventually Agni resorted to a stratagem, 
and, appearing before Arjunan in the guise of a Brahman, 
contrived to exact a promise to do him any favour he 
might desire. Agni then sought the help of Arjunan in 
destroying the forest, and the latter created a wonderful 
bow and arrows, which cut off every drop of rain sent by 
Indra for the preservation of the forest. The birds, 
beasts, and other creatures which lived therein, fled in 
terror, but most of them were overtaken by the flames, 
and were burnt to cinders. Several of the serpents also 
were overtaken and destroyed, but one of them was 
rescued by the maid-servant of a Brahman, who secured 

* Men and Women of India, February 1906. 


the sacred reptile in a pot, which she deposited in a 
jasmine bower. When the Brahman came to hear of 
this, he had the serpent removed, and turned the 
maid-servant adrift, expelling at the same time a man- 
servant, so that the woman might not be alone and 
friendless. The two exiles prospered under the protec- 
tion of the serpent, which the woman had rescued from 
the flames, and became the founders of the Pulluvans. 
According to another story, when the great Gandava 
forest was in conflagration, the snakes therein were 
destroyed in the flames. A large five-hooded snake, 
scorched and burnt by the fire, flew away in agony, and 
alighted at Kuttanad, which is said to have been on the 
site of the modern town of Alleppey. Two women were 
at the time on their way to draw water from a well. The 
snake asked them to pour seven potfuls of water over 
him, to alleviate his pain, and to turn the pot sideways, 
so that he could get into it. His request was complied 
with, and, having entered the pot, he would not leave it. 
He then desired one of the women to take him home, and 
place him in a room on the west side of the house. 
This she refused to do for fear of the snake, and she was 
advised to cover the mouth of the pot with a cloth. 
The room, in which the snake was placed, was ordered 
to be closed for a week. The woman's husband, who did 
not know what had occurred, tried to open the door, and 
only succeeded by exerting all his strength. On entering 
the room, to his surprise he found an ant-hill, and dis- 
turbed it. Thereon the snake issued forth from it, and 
bit him. As the result of the bite, the man died, and 
his widow was left without means of support. The 
snake consoled her, and devised a plan, by which she 
could maintain herself. She was to go from house to 
house, and cry out " Give me alms, and be saved from 
vi-is B 


snake poisoning." The inmates would give, and the 
snakes, which were troubling their houses, would cease 
from annoying them. For this reason, a Pulluvan 
and his wife, when they go with their pulluva kudam 
(pot-drum) to a house, are asked to sing, and given 

The Pulluvar females, Mr. T. K. Gopal Panikkar 
writes, * " take a pretty large pitcher, and close its 
opening by means of a small circular piece of thin 
leather, which is fastened on to the vessel by means of 
strings strongly tied round its neck. Another string is 
adjusted to the leather cover, which, when played on by 
means of the fingers, produces a hoarse note, which is 
said to please the gods' ears, pacify their anger, and lull 
them to sleep." In the Malabar Gazetteer, this instru- 
ment is thus described. "It consists of an earthenware 
chatty with its bottom removed, and entirely covered, 
except the mouth, with leather. The portion of the 
leather which is stretched over the bottom of the vessel 
thus forms a sort of drum, to the centre of which a string 
is attached. The other end of the string is fixed in 
the cleft of a stick. The performer sits cross-legged, 
holding the chatty mouth downwards with his right hand, 
on his right knee. The stick is held firmly under the 
right foot, resting on the left leg. The performer 
strums on the string, which is thus stretched tight, with 
a rude plectrum of horn, or other substance. The vibra- 
tions communicated by the string to the tympanum 
produce a curious sonorous note, the pitch of which 
can be varied by increasing or relaxing the tension of 
the string." This musical instrument is carried from 
house to house in the daytime by these Pulluvar 

• Malabar and its Folk, 1900. 


females ; and, placing the vessel in a particular position 
on the ground, and sitting in a particular fashion in 
relation to the vessel, they play on the string, which then 
produces a very pleasant musical note. Then they sing 
ballads to the accompaniment of these notes. After 
continuing this for some time, they stop, and, getting 
their customary dues from the family, go their own 
way. It is believed that the music, and the ballads, 
are peculiarly pleasing to the serpent gods, who bless 
those for whose sakes the music has been rendered." 
The Pulluvans also play on a lute with snakes painted 
on the reptile skin, which is used in lieu of parchment. 
The skin, in a specimen at the Madras Museum, is 
apparently that of the big lizard Varanus bengalensis. 
The lute is played with a bow, to which a metal bell is 

The dwelling-houses of the Pulluvans are like those 
of the Izhuvans or Cherumas. They are generally mud 
huts, with thatched roof, and a verandah in front. 

When a girl attains maturity, she is placed apart in 
a room. On the seventh day, she is anointed by seven 
young women, who give an offering to the demons, if 
she is possessed by any. This consists of the bark of a 
plantain tree made into the form of a triangle, on which 
small bits of tender cocoanuts and little torches are fixed. 
This is waved round the girl's head, and floated away 
on water. As regards marriage, the Pulluvans observe 
both tali-kettu and sambandham. In the vicinity of 
Palghat, members of the caste in the same village 
intermarry, and have a prejudice against contracting 
alliances outside it. Thus, the Pulluvans of Palghat do 
not intermarry with those of Mundur and Kanghat, 
which are four and ten miles distant. It is said that, in 
former days, intercourse between brother and sister was 

pulluvan 230 

permitted. But, when questioned on this point, the 
Pulluvans absolutely deny it. It is, however, possible 
that something of the kind was once the case, for, when 
a man belonging to another caste is suspected of incest, 
it is said that he is like the Pulluvans. Should the 
parents of a married woman have no objection to her 
being divorced, they give her husband a piece of cloth 
called murikotukkuka. This signifies that the cloth 
which he gave is returned, and divorce is effected. 

The Pulluvans follow the makkathayam law of 
inheritance (from father to son). But they seldom have 
any property to leave, except their hut and a few earthen 
pots. They have their caste assemblies (parichas), 
which adjudicate on adultery, theft, and other offences. 

They believe firmly in magic and sorcery, and every 
kind of sickness is attributed to the influence of some 
demon. Abortion, death of a new-born baby, prolonged 
labour, or the death of the woman, fever, want of milk 
in the breasts, and other misfortunes, are attributed 
to malignant influences. When pregnant women, or 
even children, walk out alone at midday, they are pos- 
sessed by them, and may fall in convulsions. Any slight 
dereliction, or indifference with regard to the offering 
of sacrifices, is attended by domestic calamities, and 
sacrifices of goats and fowls are requisite. More sacri- 
fices are promised, if the demons will help them in the 
achievement of an object, or in the destruction of an 
enemy. In some cases the village astrologer is con- 
sulted, and he, by means of his calculations, divines the 
cause of an illness, and suggests that a particular disease 
or calamity is due to the provocation of the family or 
other god, to whom sacrifices or offerings have not 
been made. Under these circumstances, a Velichapad, 
or oracle, is consulted. After bathing, and dressing 





iff >■ • 

1 ^ 

IR 1 ^ ^9 


' 1 ' '^ 


i , • .''*'!^ 











himself in a new mundu (cloth), he enters on the scene 
with a sword in his hand, and his legs girt with small 
bells. Standing in front of the deity in pious meditation, 
he advances with slow steps and rolling eyes, and makes 
a few frantic cuts on his forehead. He is already in 
convulsive shivers, and works himself up to a state of 
frenzied possession, and utters certain disconnected 
sentences, which are believed to be the utterances of 
the gods. Believing them to be the means of cure or 
relief from calamity, those affected reverentially bow 
before the Velichapad, and obey his commands. Some- 
times they resort to a curious method of calculating 
beforehand the result of a project, in which they are 
engaged, by placing before the god two bouquets of 
flowers, one red, the other white, of which a child picks 
out one with its eyes closed. Selection of the white 
bouquet predicts auspicious results, of the red the 
reverse. A man, who wishes to bring a demon under 
his control, must bathe in the early morning for forty- 
one days, and cook his own meals. He should have no 
association with his wife, and be free from all pollution. 
Every night, after lo o'clock, he should bathe in a tank 
(pond) or river, and stand naked up to the loins in the 
water, while praying to the god, whom he wishes to 
propitiate, in the words " I offer thee my prayers, so 
that thou mayst bless me with what I want." These, 
with his thoughts concentrated on the deity, he should 
utter loi, i,ooi, and 100,001 times during the period. 
Should he do this, in spite of all obstacles and intimida- 
tion by the demons, the god will grant his desires. It 
is said to be best for a man to be trained and guided 
by a guru (preceptor), as, if proper precautions are 
not adopted, the result of his labours will be that he 
goes mad. 


A Pulluvan and his wife preside at the ceremony- 
called Pamban Tullal to propitiate the snake gods of the 
nagattan kavus, or serpent shrines. For this, a pandal 
(booth) is erected by driving four posts into the ground, 
and putting over them a silk or cotton canopy. A 
hideous figure of a huge snake is made on the floor with 
powders of five colours. Five colours are essential, as 
they are visible on the necks of snakes. Rice is scattered 
over the floor. Worship is performed to Ganesa, and 
cocoanuts and rice are ofl"ered. Incense is burnt, and 
a lamp placed on a plate. The members of the family 
go round the booth, and the woman, from whom the 
devil has to be cast out, bathes, and takes her seat on 
the western side, holding a bunch of palm flowers. 
The Pulluvan and his wife begin the music, vocal and 
instrumental, the woman keeping time with the pot- 
drum by striking on a metal vessel. As they sing songs 
in honour of the snake deity, the young female members 
of the family, who have been purified by a bath, and are 
seated, begin to quiver, sway their heads to and fro in 
time with the music, and the tresses of their hair are let 
loose. In their state of excitement, they beat upon the 
floor, and rub out the figure of the snake with palm 
flowers. This done, they proceed to the snake-grove, 
and prostrate themselves before the stone images of 
snakes, and recover consciousness. They take milk, 
water from a tender cocoanut, and plantains. The 
Pulluvan stops singing, and the ceremony is over. 
" Sometimes," Mr. Gopal Panikkar writes, " the gods 
appear in the bodies of all these females, and sometimes 
only in those of a select few, or none at all. The refusal 
of the gods to enter into such persons is symbolical of 
some want of cleanliness in them : which contingency 
is looked upon as a source of anxiety to the individual. 


It may also suggest the displeasure of these gods 
towards the family, in respect of which the ceremony is 
performed. In either case, such refusal on the part of 
the gods is an index of their ill-will or dissatisfaction. 
In cases where the gods refuse to appear in any one of 
those seated for the purpose, the ceremony is prolonged 
until the gods are so properly propitiated as to constrain 
them to manifest themselves. Then, after the lapse of 
the number of days fixed for the ceremony, and, after 
the will of the serpent gods is duly expressed, the 
ceremonies close." Sometimes, it is said, it may be 
considered necessary to rub away the figure as many 
as loi times, in which case the ceremony is prolonged 
over several weeks. Each time that the snake design 
is destroyed, one or two men, with torches in their 
hands, perform a dance, keeping step to the Pullu- 
van's music. The family may eventually erect a small 
platform or shrine in a corner of their grounds, and 
worship at it annually. The snake deity will not, it 
is believed, manifest himself if any of the persons, or 
articles required for the ceremony, are impure, e.g.^ if 
the pot-drum has been polluted by the touch of a 
menstruating female. The Pulluvan, from whom a 
drum was purchased for the Madras Museum, was very 
reluctant to part with it, lest it should be touched by an 
impure woman. 

The Pulluvans worship the gods of the Brahmanical 
temples, from a distance, and believe in spirits of 
all sorts and conditions. They worship Velayuthan, 
Ayyappa, Rahu, Muni, Chathan, Mukkan, Karinkutti, 
Parakutti, and others. Muni is a well-disposed deity, 
to whom, once a year, rice, plantains, and cocoanuts are 
offered. To Mukkan, Karinkutti, and others, sheep and 
fowls are offered. A floral device (padmam) is drawn 


on the floor with nine divisions in rice-flour, on each of 
which a piece of tender cocoanut leaf, and a lighted wick 
dipped in cocoanut oil, are placed. Parched rice, boiled 
beans, jaggery (crude sugar), cakes, plantains, and toddy 
are offered, and camphor and incense burnt. If a sheep 
has to be sacrificed, boiled rice is offered, and water 
sprinkled over the head of the sheep before it is killed. 
If it shakes itself, so that it frees itself from the water, 
it is considered as a favourable omen. On every new- 
moon day, offerings of mutton, fowls, rice-balls, toddy, 
and other things, served up on a plantain leaf, are made 
to the souls of the departed. The celebrants, who have 
bathed and cooked their own food on the previous day, 
prostrate themselves, and say " Ye dead ancestors, we 
offer what we can aflbrd. May you take the gifts, and 
be pleased to protect us." 

The Pulluvans bury their dead. The place of burial 
is near a river, or in a secluded spot near the dwelling of 
the deceased. The corpse is covered with a cloth, and 
a cocoanut placed with it. Offerings of rice-balls are 
made by the son daily for fifteen days, when pollution 
ceases, and a feast is held. 

At the present day, some Pulluvans work at various 
forms of labour, such as sowing, ploughing, reaping, 
fencing, and cutting timber, for which they are paid in 
money or kind. They are, in fact, day-labourers, living 
in huts built on the waste land of some landlord, for 
which they pay a nominal ground-rent. They will take 
food prepared by Brahmans, Nayars, Kammalans, and 
Izhuvas, but not that prepared by a Mannan or Kaniyan. 
Carpenters and Izhuvas bathe when a Pulluvan has 
touched them. But the Pulluvans are polluted by 
Cherumas, Pulayas, Paraiyans, Ulladans, and others. 
The women wear the kacha, like Izhuva women, folded 


twice, and worn round the loins, and are seldom seen 
with an upper body-cloth.* 

Puluvan.— "The Puluvans have been described t as 
" a small tribe of cultivators found in the district of 
Coimbatore. Puluvans are the learned men among the 
Coimbatore Vellalas, and are supposed to be the deposi- 
taries of the poet Kamban's works. One authority 
from Coimbatore writes that the traditional occupa- 
tion of this caste is military service, and derives the 
word from bhu, earth, and valavan, a ruler ; while 
another thinks that the correct word is Puruvan, 
aborigines. Their girls are married usually after 
they attain maturity. In the disposal of the dead, 
both cremation and burial are in vogue, the tendency 
being towards the former. They are flesh-eaters. 
Their customs generally resemble those of the Konga 

The Puluvans call themselves Puluva Vellalas. 

Punamalli.— The name of a division of Vellalas 
derived from Poonamallee, an old military station near 

Puni.— A sub-division of Golla. 

Punjala (cock, or male). — An exogamous sept of 

Puppalli.— 6"^^ Unni. 

Puragiri Kshatriya.— A name assumed by some 

Puramalai, Puramalainadu or Piramalainadu.— 
A territorial sub-division of Kalian. 

Puranadi.^Barbers and priests of the Velans of 
Travancore, who are also called Velakkuruppu. 

* This account is mainly based on a note by Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna 

t Madras Census Report, 1891. 


Purattu Charna. — A sub-division of Nayar. 

Purusha. — See J5gi Purusha. 

Pusa (beads). — A sub-division of Balija. A sub- 
division of the Yerukalas is known as Pusalavadu, or 
sellers of glass beads. 

Pusali.— A title of Occhans, or pujaris (priests) at 
temples of Grama Devatas (village deities). 

Pusapati.— The family name of the Maharajahs of 
Vizianagram. From the Kshatriyas in Rajputana people 
of four gotrams are said to have come to the Northern 
Circars several centuries ago, having the Pusapati 
family at their head.^ The name of the present Maha- 
raja is Mirza Rajah Sri Pusapati Viziarama Gajapati Raj 
Manya Sultan Bahadur Garu. 

Pushpakan.^A class of Ambalavasis in Malabar 
and Travancore. " As their name (pushpam, a flower) 
implies, they are employed in bringing flowers and 
garlands to the temples." f See Unni. 

Puthukka Nattar (people of the new country). — 
A sub-division of Idaiyan. 

Putiya Islam.— Pu Islam or Putiya Islam is the 
name returned mostly by Mukkuvans, in reference to 
their new conversion to the Muhammadan faith. 

Putta (ant-hill). — An exogamous sept of Kamma, 
Kuruba, Mala, Medara, and Padma Sale. * White-ant ' 
[Termites) hills are frequently worshipped as being the 
abode of snakes. 

Puttiya.— A sub-division of Rona. 

Puttur.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a sub-division of Nayar. 

Puzhi Tacchan (sand carpenter). — The name of a 
small section of Malabar Kammalans. 

* Manual of the Vizagapatam district. t Manual of Malabar. 


Racha (= Raja). — Racha or Rachu, signifying regal, 
occurs as the title of various Telugu classes, for 
example, Balija, Golla, Kapu, Konda Dora, Koya, 
Majjulu, and Velama. Some Perikes, who claim to be 
Kshatriyas, call themselves Racha Perikes. Racha is 
further given as an abbreviated form of Mutracha. 

Rachevar.-^It is noted, in the Mysore Census 
Report, 1901, that "there are three broad distinctions 
founded on the traditional occupation, but there are 
two main exclusive divisions of Telugu and Kannada 
Rachevars. One set, called Ranagare, are military, 
and most of them are found employed in His Highness 
the Maharaja's Rachevar and Bale forces. The second, 
consisting of the Chitragaras or Bannagaras, make good 
paintings, decorations, and lacquered ware and toys. 
The last consists of the Sarige, or gold lace makers. 
These people claim to be Kshatriyas — a pretension not 
generally acquiesced in by the other castes. They 
trace their origin to a passage in Brahmanda Purana, 
wherein it is said that, for an injury done to a Brahman, 
they were condemned to follow mechanical occupations." 
In connection with recent Dasara festivities at Mysore, 
I read that there were wrestling matches, acrobatic feats, 
dumb-bell and figure exercises by Rachevars. 

In the Tanjore Manual it is noted that the Rache- 
vars are " descendants of immigrants from the Telugu 
country, who apparently followed the Nayak viceroys 
of the Vijayanagar empire in the sixteenth century. 
They are more or less jealous of the purity of their 
caste. Their language is Telugu. They wear the 
sacred thread." 

In the city of Madras, and in other places in Tamil 
country, the Rachevars are called Razus or Mucchis, 
who must not be confused with the Mucchis of Mysore 


and the Ceded districts, who are shoe-makers, and speak 
Marat hi. In the Telugu country, there are two distinct 
sections of Rachevars, viz., Saivite and Vaishnavite. 
The Saivite Rachevars in the Kistna district style 
themselves Arya Kshatriyalu, but they are commonly 
called Nakash-vandlu, which is a Hindustani synonym 
of Chitrakara or Jinigiri-vandlu. The Vaishnavites are 
known as Jinigiri-vandlu, and are said not to intermarry 
with the Saivites. 

Rafizi.— A term, meaning a forsaker, used by Sunni 
Muhammadans for any sect of Shiahs. The name 
appears, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as Rabjee. 

Ragala (ragi : Eleusine Coracana). — An exogamous 
sept of Chembadi, Korava and Madiga. The equivalent 
Ragithannaya occurs as an exogamous sept of Bant. 
Ragi grain constitutes the staple diet of the poorer 
classes, who cannot afford rice, and of prisoners in jails, 
for whom it is ground into flour, and boiled into a 
pudding about the consistency of blanc-mange. The 
name is derived from raga, red, in reference to the red 
colour of the grain. 

Raghindala (pipal : Ficus religiosa). — A gotra of 
Gollas, the members of which are not allowed to use 
the leaves of this tree as food-plates. 

Rajakan.— A Sanskrit equivalent of Vannan 

Rajamahendram.— The name, in reference to the 
town of Rajahmundry in the Godavari district, of a 
sub-division of Balija. 

Rajamakan.— A Tamil synonym for the Telugu 

Rajavasal.— The name, denoting those who are 
servants of Rajas, of a sub-division of Agamudaiyans, 
which has been transformed into Rajavamsu, meaning 


those of kingly parentage. The equivalent Rajavamsam 
is recorded, in the Census Report, 1901, as being 
returned by some Maravans in Madura and Kurumbans 
in Trichinopoly. Rajakulam, Rajabasha, or Rajaboga 
occurs as a sub-division of Agamudaiyan. 

Rajpinde. — See Arasu. 

Rajpuri.— The Rajpuris, or Rajapuris, are a 
Konkani-speaking caste of traders and cultivators in 
South Canara. Concerning them, Mr. H. A. Stuart 
writes as follows.* **The Rajapuris, also called 
Balolikars, were originally traders, and perhaps have 
some claim to be considered Vaisyas. In social status 
they admit themselves to be inferior only to Brahmans. 
They wear the sacred thread, profess the Saiva faith, 
and employ Karadi Brahmans as priests in all their 
ceremonies. Their girls should be married before the 
age of puberty, and marriage of widows is not permitted. 
The marriage ceremony chiefly consists in the hands of 
the bride and bridegroom being united together, and 
held by the bride's father while her mother pours water 
over them. The water should first fall on the bride's 
hands, and then flow on to those of the bridegroom. 
This takes place at the bride's house. A curious feature 
in the ceremony is that for four days either the bride or 
bridegroom should occupy the marriage bed ; it must 
never be allowed to become vacant. [This ceremony is 
called pajamadmai, or mat marriage.] On the fourth 
day, the couple go to the bridegroom's house, where a 
similar * sitting ' on the marriage bed takes place. They 
are mostly vegetarians, rice being their chief food, but 
some use fish, and rear fowls and goats for sale as food. 
Many are now cultivators." 

♦ Manual of the South Canara district, 


It may be noted that, among the Shivalli Brahmans, 
the mat is taken to a tank in procession. The bride 
and bridegroom make a pretence of catching fish, and, 
with Hnked hands, touch their foreheads. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Rajapuri 
Konkanasta is given as a synonym of the Rajapuris, who 
are said to be one of the sixty-six classes of Konkanasta 
people, who inhabited the sixty-six villages of the 
Konkan. In the Census Report, 1901, Kudaldeshkara 
and Kudlukara are returned as sub-divisions of Rajapuri. 
The Kudlukaras are Konkani-speaking confectioners, 
who follow the Brahmanical customs. 

Rajput. — The Rajputs (Sanskrit, raja-putra, son of 
a king) have been defined * as " the warrior and land- 
owning race of Northern India, who are also known as 
Thakur, lord, or Chhatri, the modern representative of 
the ancient Kshatriya." At the Madras census, 1891 
and 1 90 1, the number of individuals, who returned 
themselves as Rajputs, was 13,754 and 15,273. "It 
needs," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, t " but a cursory 
examination of the sub-divisions returned under the 
head Rajput to show that many of these individuals have 
no claim whatever to the title of Rajput. The number 
of pure Rajputs in this Presidency must be very small 
indeed, and I only mention the caste in order to explain 
that the number of persons returning it is far in excess 
of the actual number of Rajputs." Mr. Stuart writes 
further! concerning the Rajputs of the North Arcot 
district that "there are but few of this caste in the 
district, and they chiefly reside in Vellore ; a few families 
are also found in Chittoor and Tirupati. They assert 
that they are true Kshatriyas who came from Rajputana 

* W. Crooke. Tribes and Castes of the North- Western Provinces and Oudh. 
t Madras Census Report, 1891. % Manual of the North Arcot district. 

241 rAlla 

with the Muhammadan armies, and they, more than any 
other claimants to a Kshatriya descent, have maintained 
their fondness for military service. Almost all are sepoys 
or military pensioners. Their names always end with 
Singh, and in many of their customs they resemble the 
Muhammadans, speaking Hindustani, and invariably 
keeping their wives gosha. They are often erroneously 
spoken of by the people as Bondilis, a term which is 
applicable only to the Vaisya and Sudra immigrants 
from Northern India ; but doubtless many of these lower 
classes have taken the title Singh, and called themselves 
Rajputs. Members of the caste are, therefore, very 
suspicious of strangers professing to be Rajputs. Their 
cooking apartment, called chowka, is kept most religi- 
ously private, and a line is drawn round it, beyond which 
none but members of the family itself may pass. At 
marriages and feasts, for the same reason, cooked food is 
never offered to the guests, but raw grain is distributed, 
which each cooks in a separate and private place." 

It is noted,* in connection with the battle of Padma- 
nabham in the Vizagapatam district, in 1794, that "no 
correct list of the wounded was ever procured, but no 
less than three hundred and nine were killed. Of these 
two hundred and eight were Rajputs, and the bodies of 
forty Rajputs, of the first rank in the country, formed a 
rampart round the corpse of Viziarama Razu. Padma- 
nabham will long be remembered as the Flodden of the 
Rajputs of Vizianagram." 

Rakshasa (a mythological giant). — An exogamous 
sept of Toreya. 

Ralla (precious stones). — A sub-division of Balijas 
who cut, polish, and trade in precious stones. A further 

• Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district. 

VI- 1 6 


sub-division into Mutiala (pearl) and Kempulu (rubies) 
is said to exist. 

Ramadosa {Cucumis Melo : sweet melon). — A sept 
of Viramushti. 

Rama Kshatri.— A synonym of Servegara. 

Ramanuja.— Satanis style themselves people of 
the Ramanuja Matham (religious sect) in reference to 
Ramanuja, the Tamil Brahman, who founded the form 
of Vaishnavism which prevails in Southern India. 

Ranaratod. — An exogamous sept of the Kuruvik- 
karans, who call themselves Ratodi. 

Ranaviran, — A name, meaning a brave warrior, 
returned by some Chakkiliyans. 

Randam Parisha (second party). — A section of 
E lay ad. 

Rangari.— The Rangaris are summed up, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1891, as being " a caste of dyers 
and tailors found in almost all the Telugu districts. 
They are of Maratha origin, and still speak that langu- 
age. They worship the goddess Ambabhavani. The 
dead are either burned or buried. Their title is Rao." 

In an account of the Rangaris of the North Arcot 
district, Mr. H. A. Stuart WTites that " Rangari is a 
caste of dyers, chiefly found in Walajapet. They claim 
to be Kshatriyas, who accompanied Rama in his con- 
quest of Ceylon, from which fact one of their names, 
Langari (lanka, the island, i.e., Ceylon), is said to be 
derived. Rama, for some reason or other, became 
incensed against, and persecuted them. Most were 
destroyed, but a respectable Kshatriya lady saved her 
two sons by taking off their sacred threads and causing 
one to pretend that he was a tailor sewing, and the 
other that he was a dyer, colouring his thread with the 
red betel nut and leaf, which she hurriedly supplied out 


of her mouth. The boys became the progenitors of the 
caste, the members of which now wear the thread. The 
descendants of the one brother are tailors, and of the 
other, the most numerous, dyers. Their chief feasts 
are the Dassara and Kaman, the former celebrated in 
honour of the goddess Tuljabhavani and the latter of 
Manmada, the Indian Cupid, fabled to have been 
destroyed by the flame of Siva's third eye. During 
the Kaman feast, fires of combustible materials are 
lighted, round which the votaries gather, and, beating 
their mouths, exclaim ' laba, laba', lamenting the death 
of Cupid. In this feast Rajputs, Mahrattas, Bondilis, 
and Guzeratis also join. The Rangaris speak Marathi, 
which they write in the northern character, and name 
Poona and Sholapur as the places in which they 
originally resided. In appearance they do not at all 
resemble the other claimants to Kshatriya descent, the 
Razus and Rajputs, for they are poorly developed and 
by no means handsome. Widow remarriage is permit- 
ted where children have not been born, but remarried 
widows are prohibited from taking part in religious 
processions, which seems a sign that the concession has 
been reluctantly permitted. In most of their customs 
they differ but little from the Razus, eating meat and 
drinking spirits, but not keeping their women gosha." 

All the Rangaris examined by me at Adoni in the 
Bellary district were tailors. Like other Maratha 
classes they had a high cephalic index (av. 79 ; max. 
92), and it was noticeable that the breadth of the head 
exceeded 15 cm. in nine out of thirty individuals. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Bahusagara, 
Malla or Mulla, and Namdev are given as synonyms, and 
Chimpiga (tailor) and Unupulavadu (dyer) as sub-castes 
of Rangari. 

VI-16 B 


Raniyava.— The Raniyavas are Canarese-speaking 
Holeyas, who are found near Kap, Karkal, Mudibidri, 
and Mulki in South Canara. They consider themselves 
to be superior to the Tulu-speaking Holeyas, such as 
the Mari and Mundala Holeyas. 

The Raniyavas regard Virabadra Swami as their 
tribal deity, and also worship Mari, to whom they sacri- 
fice a buffalo periodically. The bhuta (devil), which is 
most commonly worshipped, is Varthe. They profess 
to be Saivites, because they are the disciples of the 
Lingayat priest at Gurupur. 

Marriage is, as a rule, infant, though the marriage 
of adult girls is not prohibited. The marriage rites 
are celebrated beneath a pandal (booth) supported by 
twelve pillars. As among the Tulu castes, the chief 
item in the marriage ceremony is the pouring of water 
over the united hands of the bridal couple, who are 
not, like the Canarese Holeyas in Mysore, separated by 
a screen. 

Women who are found guilty of adultery, or of illicit 
intercourse before marriage, are not allowed to wear 
bangles, nose-screw, or black bead necklaces, and are 
treated like widows. Men who have been proved guilty 
of seduction are not allowed to take part in the caste 
council meetings. 

On the occasion of the first menstrual period, a girl 
is under pollution for twelve days. Eleven girls pour 
water over her head daily. On the thirteenth day, the 
castemen are fed, and, if the girl is married, consum- 
mation takes place. 

Married men and women are cremated, and unmarried 
persons buried. On the day of death, toddy must be 
given to those who assemble. Cooked meat and food 
are offered to the deceased on the third, seventh, and 

245 RAvulo 

thirteenth days, and, on the seventh day, toddy must be 
freely given. , 

Rao.— The title of Desastha Brahmans, and various 
Maratha classes, Jains, and Servegaras. Some Perikes, 
who claim Kshatriya origin, have also assumed Rao 
(=Raya, king) instead of the more humble Anna or Ayya 
as a title. 

Rarakkar.^The Rarakkars or Vicharakkars are 
exorcisers for the Kuravans of Travancore. 

Rati (stone). — A sub-division of Odde. 

Ratna (precious stones). — An exogamous sept of 
Kuruba. The equivalent Ratnala is a synonym of Ralla 
Balijas, who deal in precious stones. 

Rattu.^A sub-division of Kaikolan. 

Ravari.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a trading section of the Nayars. The word is 
said to be a corruption of Vyapari, meaning trader. The 
equivalent Raveri occurs as a class inhabiting the Lacca- 
dive islands. 

Ravi Chettu (pipal tree : Ficus religiosa). — An 
exogamous sept of Kalingi. The pipal or aswatha tree 
may be seen, in many South Indian villages, with a 
raised platform round it, before which Hindus remove 
their shoes, and bow down. On the platform, village 
council meetings are often held. It is believed that 
male offspring will be given to childless couples, if they 
celebrate a marriage of the pipal with the nim tree 
{Melia Azadirachta). 

Ravulo. — It is recorded, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1901, that "there are three castes of temple 
servants among the Oriyas, the Ravulos, the Malis and 
the Munis. The Ravulos blow conches (shells of 
Turbinella rapa) in the Saivite temples and at Brah- 
mans' weddings, sell flowers, and regard themselves as 


superior to the other two. The Mails do service in 
Saivite or Vaishnavite temples and sell flowers, but the 
Munis are employed only in the temples of the village 
goddesses. Among the Ravulos, infant marriage is 
compulsory, but widow marriage is allowed, and also 
divorce in certain cases. A curious account is given of 
the punishment sometimes inflicted by the caste pan- 
chayat (council) on a man who ill-treats and deserts his 
wife. He is made to sit under one of the bamboo coops 
with which fish are caught, and his wife sits on the 
top of it. Five pots of water are then poured over the 
pair of them in imitation of the caste custom of pouring 
five pots of water over a dead body before it is taken 
to the burning-ground, the ceremony taking place in 
the part of the house where a corpse would be washed. 
The wife then throws away a ladle, and breaks a cooking- 
pot just as she would have done had her husband really 
been dead, and further breaks her bangles and tears off 
her necklace, just as would have been done if she was 
really a widow. Having thus signified that her husband 
is dead to her, she goes straight off to her parents' 
house, and is free to marry again. Some Ravulos wear 
the sacred thread. They employ Brahmans as priests 
for religious and ceremonial purposes. They eat fish 
and meat, though not beef or fowls, but do not drink 
alcohol. Nowadays many of them are earth-workers, 
cart-drivers, bricklayers, carpenters and day labourers." 
It is further noted, in the Census Report, that Mali is 
"an Oriya caste of vegetable growers and sellers, and 
cultivators. Also a caste belonging to Bengal and 
Orissa, the people of which are garland makers and 
temple servants. The statistics confuse the two." In 
an account of the Ravulos, as given to me, Ravulos, 
Munis, and Malis are not three castes, but one caste. 

247 rAzu 

The Munis are said to worship, among others, Munis or 
Rishis, Sakti, Siva, and Ganesa. A Muni, named Sarala 
Doss, was the author of the most popular Oriya version 
of the Mahabharata, and he is known as Sudra Muni, 
the Sudra saint. 

Ravulo occurs further as a title of Kurumos who 
officiate as priests in Siva temples in Ganjam, and Muni 
as a title of the Sipiti temple servants. 

Ravutan.'^Ravutan, or Rowthan, is a title used by 
Labbai, Marakkayar, and Jonagan Muhammadans. The 
equivalent Ravut or Raut has been recorded as a sub- 
caste of Balija, and a title of Kannadiyan. 

Raya Rauturu.— The name of certain chunam 
[lime] burners in Mysore. 

Rayan.^A title assumed by some Pallis or Vanni- 
yans, who wear the sacred thread, and claim to be 

Rayi (stone). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Razu.— The Razus, or Raj us, are stated, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, to be "perhaps descend- 
ants of the military section of the Kapu, Kamma, arid 
Velama castes. At their weddings they worship a 
sword, which is a ceremony which usually denotes a soldier 
caste. They say they are Kshatriyas, and at marriages 
use a string made of cotton and wool, the combination 
peculiar to Kshatriyas, to tie the wrist of the happy 
couple. But they eat fowls, which a strict Kshatriya 
would not do, and their claims are not universally 
admitted by other Hindus. They have three endoga- 
mous sub-divisions, viz., Murikinati, Nandimandalam, 
and Suryavamsam, of which the first two are territo- 
rial." According to another version, the sub-divisions 
are Surya (sun), Chandra (moon), and Nandimandalam. 
In a note on the Razus of the Godavari district, the 

RAZU 248 

Rev. J. Cain sub-divides them into Suryavamsapu, Chan- 
dravamsapu, Veliveyabadina, or descendants of excom- 
municated Suryavamsapu and Razulu. It may be noted 
that some Konda Doras call themselves Raja ( = Razu) 
Kapus or Reddis, and Suryavamsam (of the solar race). 
"In the Godavari delta," Mr. Cain writes, "there are 
several families called Basava Razulu, in consequence, 
it is said, of their ancestors having accidentally killed 
a basava or sacred bull. As a penalty for this crime, 
before a marriage takes place in these families, they are 
bound to select a young bull and young cow, and cause 
these two to be duly married first, and then they are at 
liberty to proceed with their own ceremony." 

Of the Razus, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes* that "this 
is a Telugu caste, though represented by small bodies 
in some of the Tamil districts. They are most numerous 
in Cuddapah and North Arcot, to which districts they 
came with the Vijayanagar armies. It is evident that 
Razu has been returned by a number of individuals 
who, in reality, belong to other castes, but claim to be 
Kshatriyas. The true Razus also make this claim, but 
it is, of course, baseless, unless Kshatriya is taken to 
mean the military class without any reference to Aryan 
origin. In religion they are mostly Vaishnavites, and 
their priests are Brahmans. They wear the sacred 
thread, and in most respects copy the marriage and 
other customs of the Brahmans." Tlie Razus, Mr. 
Stuart writes further,! are " the most numerous class of 
those who claim to be Kshatriyas in North Arcot. 
They are found almost entirely in the Karvetnagar 
estate, the zemindar being the head of the caste. As a 
class they are the handsomest and best developed men 

• Madras Census Report, 1891. f Manual of the North Arcot district. 


249 RAzu 

in the country, and differ so much in feature and build 
from other Hindus that they may usually be distin- 
guished at a glance. They seem to have entirely 
abandoned the military inclinations of their ancestors, 
never enlist in the native army, and almost wholly 
occupy themselves in agriculture. Their vernacular is 
Telugu, since they are immigrants from the Northern 
Circars, from whence most of them followed the ances- 
tors of the Karvetnagar zamindar within the last two 
centuries. In religion they are mostly Vaishnavites, 
though a few follow Siva, and the worship of village 
deities forms a part of the belief of all. Their peculiar 
goddess is called Nimishamba, who would seem to 
represent Parvati. She is so called because in an instant 
(nimisham) she once appeared at the prayer of certain 
rishis, and destroyed some rakshasas or giants who 
were persecuting them. Claiming to be Kshatriyas, 
the Razus of course assume the sacred thread, and are 
very proud and particular in their conduct, though flesh- 
eating is allowed. In all the more well-to-do families 
the females are kept in strict seclusion." 

In the Vizagapatam district Razus are recognised 
as belonging to two classes, called Konda (hill) and 
Bhu (plains) Razu. The former are further divided 
into the following sections, to which various zamin- 
dars belong : — Konda. Kodu, Gaita, Muka, Yenati. 
The Konda Razus are believed to be hill chiefs, who 
have, in comparatively recent times, adopted the title 
of Razu. 

For the following note on the Razus of the Godavari 
district, I am indebted to Mr. F. R. Hemingway. 
" They say they are Kshatriyas, wear the sacred thread, 
have Brahmanical gotras, decline to eat with other non- 
Brahmans, and are divided into the three classes, Surya 

RAZU 250 

(sun), Chandra (moon), and Machi (fish). Of these, 
the first claim to be descended from the kings of Oudh, 
and to be of the same lineage as Rama ; the second, 
from the kings of Hastinapura, of the same line as the 
Pandavas ; and the third, from Hanuman (the monkey 
god) and a mermaid. Their women observe a very- 
strict rule of gosha, and this is said to be carried so far 
that a man may not see his younger brother's wife, even 
if she is living in the same house, without violating the 
gosha rule. The betrothal ceremony is called nirnaya 
bhojanam, or meal of settlement. Written contracts of 
marriage (subha reka) are exchanged. The wedding is 
performed at the bride's house. At the pradanam 
ceremony, no bonthu (turmeric thread) is tied round the 
bride's neck. The bridegroom has to wear a sword 
throughout the marriage ceremonies, and he is paraded 
round the village with it before they begin. The gosha 
rule prevents his womenfolk from attending the marri- 
age, and the bride has to wear a veil. The ceremonies, 
unlike those of other castes, are attended with burnt 
offerings of rice, etc. Among other castes, the turmeric- 
dyed thread (kankanam), which is tied round the wrists 
of the contracting couple, is of cotton ; among the Razus 
it is of wool and cotton. The Razus are chiefly 
employed in cultivation. Some of them are said to 
attain no small proficiency in Telugu and Sanskrit 
scholarship. Zamindars of this caste regard Kali as 
their patron deity. The Razus of Amalapuram specially 
adore Lakshmi. Some peculiarities in their personal 
appearance may be noted. Their turbans are made to 
bunch out at the left side above the ear, and one end 
hangs down behind. They do not shave any part of 
their heads, and allow long locks to hang down in front 
of the ears." 

251 rAzu 

A colony of Razus is settled at, and around Raja- 
palaiyam in the Tinnevelly district. They are said to 
have migrated thither four or five centuries ago with a 
younger brother of the King of Vizianagram, who be- 
longed to the Pusapati exogamous sept. To members 
of this and the Gottimukkula sept special respect is 
paid on ceremonial occasions. The descendants of the 
original emigrants are said to have served under southern 
chieftains, especially Tirumala Naick. Concerning the 
origin of the village Rajapalaiyam the following legend 
is narrated. One Chinna Raju, a lineal descendant of 
the Kings of Vizianagram, settled there with others of 
his caste, and went out hunting with a pack of hounds. 
When they reached the neighbouring hill Sanjivi- 
parvatham, they felt thirsty, but could find no water. 
They accordingly prayed to Krishna, who at once 
created a spring on the top of the hill. After quenching 
their thirst thereat, they proceeded westward to the 
valley, and the god informed them that there was water 
there, with which they might again quench their thirst, 
and that their dogs would there be attacked by hares. 
At this spot, which they were to consider sacred ground, 
they were to settle down. The present tank to the west- 
ward of Rajapalaiyam, and the chavadi (caste meeting- 
place) belonging to the Pusapatis are said to indicate 
the spot where they originally settled. 

The Rajapalaiyam Razus have four gotras, named 
after Rishis, i.e., Dhananjaya, Kasyapa, Kaundinya and 
Vasishta, which are each sub-divided into a number 
of exogamous septs, named after villages, etc. They 
are all Vadagalai or Tengalai Vaishnavites, but also 
worship Ayanar, and send kavadi (portable canopy) to 
Palni in performance of vows. Their family priests are 

RAZU 252 

The betrothal ceremony of the Razus of Rajapalaiyam 
is generally carried out at the house of the girl. On a 
raised platform within a pandal (booth), seven plates 
filled with plantain fruits, betel, turmeric, cocoanuts, 
and flowers are placed. A plate containing twenty-five 
rupees, and a ravike (female cloth), is carried by a 
Brahman woman, and set in front of the girl. All the 
articles are then placed in her lap, and the ceremony 
is consequently called odi or madi ninchadam (lap- 

The girl's hair is decked with flowers, and she is 
smeared with sandal and turmeric. A certain quantity 
of paddy (unhusked rice) and beans of Phaseolus Mungo 
are given to the Brahman woman, a portion of which is 
set apart as sacred, some of the paddy being added to 
that which is stored in the granary. The remainder 
of the paddy is husked in a corner of the pandal, and 
the beans are ground in a mill. On the marriage 
morning, the bride's party, accompanied by musicians, 
carry to the house of the bridegroom a number of 
baskets containing cocoanuts, plantains, betel, and a 
turban. The bridegroom goes with a purohit (priest), 
and men and women of his caste, to a well, close to 
which are placed some milk and the nose-screw of a 
woman closely related to him. All the women sprinkle 
some of the milk over his head, and some of them draw 
water from the well. The bridegroom bathes, and 
dresses up. Just before their departure from the well, 
rice which has been dipped therein is distributed among 
the women. At the bridegroom's house the milk-post, 
usually made from a branch of the vekkali {Anogeissus 
latifolia) tree, is tied to a pillar supporting the roof 
of the marriage dais. To the top of the milk-post a 
cross-bar is fixed, to one arm of which a cloth bundle 

253 RAZU 

containing a cocoanut, betel and turmeric, is tied. The 
post is surmounted by leafy mango twigs. Just before 
the milk-post is set up, cocoanuts are offered to it, and 
a pearl and piece of coral are placed in a hole scooped 
out at its lower end. The bundle becomes the perquisite 
of the carpenter who has made the post. Only Brah- 
mans, Razus and the barber musicians are allowed to 
sit on the dais. After the distribution of betel, the bride- 
groom and his party proceed to the house of the bride, 
where, in like manner, the milk-post is set up. They 
then return to his house, and the bridegroom has his face 
and head shaved, and nails pared by a barber, who receives 
as his fee two annas and the clothes which the bridegroom 
is wearing. After a bath, the bridegroom is conducted 
to the chavadi, where a gaudy turban is put on his head, 
and he is decorated with jewels and garlands. In the 
course of the morning, the purohit, holding the right 
little finger of the bridegroom, conducts him to the dais, 
close to which rice, rice stained yellow, rice husk, 
jaggery (crude sugar), wheat bran, and cotton seed are 
placed. The Brahmanical rites of punyahavachanam 
(purification), jatakarma (birth ceremony), namakaranam 
(name ceremony), chaulam (tonsure), and upanayanam 
(thread ceremony) are performed. But, instead of Vedic 
chants, the purohit recites slokas specially prepared for 
non- Brahman castes. At the conclusion of these rites, 
the bridegroom goes into the house, and eats a small 
portion of sweet cakes and other articles, of which 
the remainder is finished off by boys and girls. This 
ceremony is called pubanthi. The Kasiyatra (mock 
flight to Benares) or Snathakavritham is then performed. 
Towards evening the bridegroom, seated in a palanquin, 
goes to the bride's house, taking with him a tray con- 
taining an expensive woman's cloth, the tali tied to 

RAZU 254 

gold thread, and a pair of gold bracelets. When they 
reach the house, the women who have accompanied 
the bridegroom throw paddy over those who have 
collected at the entrance thereto, by whom the compli- 
ment is returned. The bridegroom takes his seat on the 
dais, and the bride is conducted thither by her brothers. 
A wide-meshed green curtain is thrown over her 
shoulders, and her hands are pressed over her eyes, and 
held there by one of her brothers, so that she cannot see. 
Generally two brothers sit by her side, and, when one is 
tired, the other relieves him. The purohit invests the 
bridegroom with a second thread as a sign of marriage. 
Damp rice is scattered from a basket all round the 
contracting couple, and the tali, after it has been blessed 
by Brahmans, is tied round the neck of the bride by the 
bridegroom and her brothers. At the moment when the 
tali is tied, the bride's hands are removed from her face, 
and she is permitted to see her husband. The pair then 
go round the dais, and the bride places her right foot 
thrice on a grindstone. Their little fingers are linked, 
and their cloths tied together. Thus united, they are 
conducted to a room, in which fifty pots, painted white 
and with various designs on them, are arranged in rows. 
In front of them, two pots, filled with water, are placed, 
and, in front of the two pots, seven lamps. Round the 
necks of these pots, bits of turmeric are tied. They are 
called avareti kundalu or avireni kundalu, and are made 
to represent minor deities. The pots are worshipped 
by the bridal couple, and betel is distributed among the 
Brahmans and Razus, of whom members of the Pusapati 
and Gottimukkala septs take precedence over the others. 
On the following day, the purohit teaches the sandya- 
vandhanam (morning and evening ablutions), which is, 
however, quite different from the Brahmanical rite. On 

255 RAZU 

the morning of the third or nagavali day, a quantity of 
castor-oil seed is sent by the bride's people to the bride- 
groom's house, and returned. The bride and bridegroom 
go, in a closed and open palanquin, respectively, to the 
house of the former. They take their seats on the dais, 
and the bride is once more blindfolded. In front of them, 
five pots filled with water are arranged in the form 
of a quincunx. Lighted lamps are placed by the side 
of each of the corner pots. On the lids of the pots five 
cocoanuts, plantains, pieces of turmeric, and betel are 
arranged, and yellow thread is wound seven times round 
the corner pots. The pots are then worshipped, and the 
bridegroom places on the neck of the bride a black bead 
necklace, which is tied by the Brahman woman. In 
front of the bridegroom some salt, and in front of the 
bride some paddy is heaped up. An altercation arises 
between the bridegroom and the brother of the bride as 
to the relative values of the two heaps, and it is finally 
decided that they are of equal value. The bridal pair 
then enter the room, in which the avireni pots are kept, 
and throw their rings into one of the pots which is full 
of water. The bridegroom has to pick out therefrom, 
at three dips, his own ring, and his brother-in-law that 
of the bride. The purohit sprinkles water over the 
heads of the pair, and their wrist-threads (kankanam) 
are removed. They then sit in a swing on the pandal 
for a short time, and the ceremonies conclude with the 
customary waving of coloured water (arati) and distri- 
bution of betel. During the marriage ceremony, Razu 
women are not allowed to sit in the pandal. The wives 
of the more well-to-do members of the community 
remain gosha within their houses, and, strictly speaking, 
a woman should not see her husband during the daytime. 
Many of the women, however, go freely about the town 

REDDI 256 

during the day, and go to the wells to fetch water for 
domestic purposes. 

The Razus of Rajapalaiyam have Razu as the 
agnomen, and, like other Telugu classes, take the gotra 
for the first name, e.g., Yaraguntala Mudduswami Razu, 
Gottimukkala Krishna Razu. The women adhere with 
tenacity to the old forms of Telugu jewelry. The Razus, 
in some villages, seem to object to the construction of a 
pial in front of their houses. The pial, or raised plat- 
form, is the lounging place by day, where visitors are 
received. The Razus, as has been already stated, claim 
to be Kshatriyas, so other castes should not sit in their 
presence. If pials were constructed, such people might 
sit thereon, and so commit a breach of etiquette. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Rajamakan is 
given as a Tamil synonym for Razu, and Razu is re- 
turned as a title of the Bagata fishermen of Vizagapatam. 
Razu is, further, a general name of the Bhatrazus. 

Reddi. — See Kapu. 

Reddi Bhumi (Reddi earth). — A sub-division of 
Mala, Mangala, and Tsakala. 

Rela (fig. Ficus, sp.). — A gotra of Medara. 

Relli.— 5"^^ Haddi. 

Rendeddu.— A sub-division of Ganigas or Gandlas, 
who use two bullocks for their oil-pressing mill. 

Rokkam (ready money). — An exogamous sept of 

Rolan.— Rolan, or Roli Cheruman, is a sub-division 
of Cheruman. 

Rona.— The Ronas are a class of Oriya-speaking 
hill cultivators, who are said* to "' hold a position superior 
in the social scale to the Parjas (Porojas), from whom, by 

* Madras Census Report, 1871. 

257 RONA 

compulsion and cajolery, they have gotten unto them- 
selves estates. They are not of very long standing (in 
Jeypore). Every Parja village head is still able to point 
out the fields that have been taken from him to form the 
Rona hamlet ; and, if he is in antagonism with a neigh- 
bouring Parja village on the subject of boundaries, he 
will include the fields occupied by the Rona as belonging 
de jure to his demesne." In the Madras Census Report, 
1 89 1, it is noted that "the Ronas are supposed to be the 
descendants of Ranjit, the great warrior of Orissa. In 
social status they are said to be a little inferior to the 
so-called Kshatriyas. Some of them serve as armed 
retainers and soldiers of the native chiefs, and some arc 
engaged in trade and cultivation. 

For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. The word rona means battle. 
According to a tradition current among the Ronas, their 
ancestors, who were seven brothers, came many gener- 
ations ago to Nundapur, the former capital of the Rajas 
of Jeypore, and made their first settlement in Borra. 

The caste is divided into four endogamous divisions, 
viz. : — 

(i) Rona Paiko. 

(2) Odiya Paiko, said to rank a little higher than 
the preceding. 

(3) Kottiya Paiko, the descendants of Rona Paikos 
and women of hill tribes. 

(4) Pattiya Paik, the descendants of Kottiya Paikos 
and women of hill tribes. 

As examples of septs among the Ronas, the following 
may be cited : — Kora (sun), Bhag (tiger), Nag (cobra), 
Khinbudi (bear), and Matsya (fish). 

When a girl reaches puberty, she is placed apart in a 
portion of the house where she cannot be seen by males, 

RONA 258 

even of the household, and sits in a space enclosed by- 
seven arrows connected together by a thread. On the 
seventh day she bathes, and is presented with a new 
cloth. It is customary for a man to marry his paternal 
uncle's daughter. At the time of marriage, the bride- 
groom's party repair to the house of the bride with a 
sheep, goat, rice, and a female cloth with a rupee placed 
on it, and four quarter-anna bits inserted within its fold. 
The cloth and money are taken by the bride's mother, 
and the animals and rice are used for a feast. On 
the following day, the bride goes to the house of the 
bridegroom, in front of which a pandal (booth), made out 
of nine poles of the neredu tree {Eugenia Jamboland) 
has been set up. At the auspicious hour, which has 
been fixed by the Desari who officiates, in the absence 
of a Brahman, at the marriage rites, the bride and 
bridegroom take their seats in the pandal with a curtain 
between them. The Desari joins their hands together, 
and ties to the ends of their cloths a new cloth to which 
a quarter-anna piece is attached, betel leaves and nuts, 
and seven grains of rice. The curtain is then removed, 
and the pair enter the house. The knotted new cloth 
is removed, and kept in the house during the next two 
days, being untied and re-tied every morning. On the 
third day, the couple again come within the pandal, 
and the new cloth is again tied to them. They are 
bathed together in turmeric water, and the cloth is then 
untied for the last time. The rice is examined to see if 
it is in a good state of preservation, and its condition is 
regarded as an omen for good or evil. The remarriage 
of widows is permitted, and a younger brother usually 
marries the widow of his elder brother. 

There is for all the Ronas a headman of their caste, 
called Bhatho Nayako, at Nundapur, who decides 


offences, such as eating in the house of a man of inferior 
caste, and performs the ceremonial cleansing of a man 
who has been beaten with a shoe. Divorce and civil 
suits are settled by a caste council. 

The Ronas worship the deity Takurani. They 
wear the sacred thread, and are said to have bought the 
right to do so from a former Raja of Jeypore. They 
also wear a necklace of tulsi [Ocimuni sanctum) beads. 
The necklace is first tied on by Oriya Brahmans from 
Orissa, or Vaishnava Brahmans from Srikurmam in 
Ganjam, who pay periodic visits to the community, and 
receive presents of money and food. Rona Paikos will 
eat at the hands of Brahmans only, whereas Puttiya 
Paikos will eat in the houses of Koronos, Malis, 
Kummaras, and Gaudos. All eat animal food, beef and 
pork excepted. 

Some Ronas are still the armed retainers of the 
Jeypore Rajas, and their forefathers were versed in the 
use of the matchlock. Some Ronas at the present day 
use bows and arrows. The caste title is Nayako. 

Ronguni.— The Rongunis are Oriya dyers and 
weavers. The caste name is derived from rangu, dye. 
A noticeable fact is that they do not eat flesh of any 
kind, but are vegetarians, pure and simple. They have 
various titles, e.g., Behara, Daso, Prushti, and Sahu, of 
which some practically constitute exogamous septs. 

Rottala (bread). — An exogamous sept of Boya. 

Rowthan.— 6"^^ Ravutan. 

Rudra.— One of the various names of Siva. A 
sub-division of Palli. 

Rudrakshala (the drupe oi Elceocarptts Ganitrus). — 

An exogamous sept of Kama Sales. The drupes are 

polished, and worn as a rosary or necklet by Saivite 

Brahmans, Pandarams, Nattukottai Chettis, and others. 

V1-17 B 

RUNZU 260 

They are supposed to be the tears of ecstasy which Siva 
(Rudra) once shed, and are consequently sacred to him. 
They have a number of lobes (or faces), varying from 
one to six, divided externally by deep furrows. Those 
with five lobes are the most common, but those with 
one (eka mukha) or six (shan mukha) are very rare, and 
have been known to be sold for a thousand rupees. 
One form of the drupe is called Gauri shanka, and is 
worn in a golden receptacle by Dikshitar Brahmans 
at Chidambaram, and by some Pandarams who are 
managers of matams (religious institutions). The plate 
represents a Telugu Saivite Vaidiki Brahman clad in a 
coat of rudraksha beads, wearing a head-dress of the 
same, and holding in his hand wooden castanets, which 
are played as an accompaniment to his songs. Until 
he became too old to bear the weight, he wore also a 
loin-cloth made of these beads. 

Runzu.— Runzu, Runza, or Runja is the name of a 
class of Telugu mendicants, who beat a drum called 
runjalu, and beg only from Kamsalas {q.v.). 

Sachchari.— A synonym of Relli. Another form of 
the word Chachchadi. 

Sadaru.— A sub-division of Lingayats, found mainly 
in the Bellary and Anantapur districts, where they are 
largely engaged in cultivation. Some Bedars or Boyas, 
who live amidst these Lingayats, call themselves Sadaru. 
It is noted in the Mysore Census Reports that the Sadas 
are "cultivators and traders in grain. A section of these 
Sadas has embraced Lingayatism, while the others are 
still within the pale of Hinduism," 



Saddikudu (cold rice or food). — An exogamous sept 
of Golla. 

Sadhana Surulu.— Sadhanasura is recorded, in 
the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a synonym of 
Samayamuvadu. In a note on this class of itinerant 
mendicants, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao states that, unlike 
the Samayamuvaru, they are attached only to the Padma 
Sale section of the Sale caste. " They say," he writes, 
"that their name is an abbreviated form of Renuka 
Sakthini Sadhinchinavaru, i.e.^ those who conquered 
Renuka Sakthi. According to tradition, Renuka was 
the mother of Parasurama, one of the avatars of Vishnu, 
and is identified with the goddess Yellamma, whom 
the Padma Sales revere. The Sadhana Surulu are 
her votaries. Ages ago, it is said, they prayed to 
her on behalf of the Padma Sales, and made her grant 
boons to them. Since that time they have been 
treated with marked respect by the Padma Sales, 
who pay them annually four annas, and see to their 

Sadhu (meek or quiet). — A sub-division or exoga- 
mous sept of Ganiga and Padma Sale. The equivalent 
Sadhumatam has been recorded, at times of census, by 
Janappans. The name Sadhu is applied to ascetics or 

Sagarakula.^A synonym of the Upparas, who 
claim descent from a king Sagara Chakravarthi of the 

Sahavasi.— The Sahavasis are described, in the 
Mysore Census Report, 1891, as "immigrants like the 
Chitpavanas. Sahavasi means co-tenant or associate, 
and the name is said to have been earned by the com- 
munity in the following manner. In remote times a 
certain Brahman came upon hidden treasure, but, to his 

SAHU 262 

amazement, the contents appeared in his eye to be all 
live scorpions. Out of curiosity, he hung one of them 
outside his house. A little while after, a woman of 
inferior caste, who was passing by the house, noticed it 
to be gold, and, upon her questioning him about it, the 
Brahman espoused her, and by her means was able to 
enjoy the treasure. He gave a feast in honour of his 
acquisition of wealth. He was subsequently outcasted 
for his mesalliance with the low caste female, while 
those that ate with him were put under a ban, and thus 
acquired the nickname." 

Sahu.— A title of Bolasis, Godiyas, and other Oriya 

Saindla (belonging to the death-house). — A sub- 
division of Mala. 

Sajjana (good men). — A synonym of Lingayat 

Sajje (millet : Setaria italicd). — An exogamous sept 
of Devanga. 

Sakala.— 5"^^ Tsakala. 

Sakkereya. — Some Upparas style themselves Mel 
(western) Sakkereya-varu. Their explanation is that 
they used to work in salt, which is more essential than 
sugar, and that Mel Sakkare means superior sugar. 

Sakuna Pakshi. — For the following note on the 
Sakuna Pakshi (prophetic bird) mendicant caste of 
Vizagapatam, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 
The name of the caste is due to the fact that the mem- 
bers of the caste wear on their heads a plume composed 
of the feathers of a bird called palagumma, which is pro- 
bably Coracias indica, the Indian roller, or "blue jay" 
of Europeans. This is one of the birds called sakuna 
pakshi, because they are supposed to possess the power 
of foretelling events, and on their movements many omens 


depend. Concerning the roller, Jerdon writes * that " it 
is sacred to Siva, who assumed its form, and, at the feast 
of the Dasserah at Nagpore, one or more used to be 
liberated by the Rajah, amidst the firing of cannon and 
musketry, at a grand parade attended by all the officers 
of the station. Buchanan Hamilton also states that, 
before the Durga Puja, the Hindus of Calcutta purchase 
one of these birds, and, at the time when they throw the 
image of Durga into the river, set it at liberty. It is 
considered propitious to see it on this day, and those 
who cannot afford to buy one discharge their matchlocks 
to put it on the wing." 

According to their own account, the Sakuna Pakshis 
are Telagas who emigrated to Vizagapatam from Pedda- 
puram in the Godavari district. 

A member of the caste, before proceeding on a 
begging expedition, rises early, and has a cold meal. 
He then puts the Tengalai Vaishnava namam mark on 
his forehead, slings on his left shoulder a deer-skin pouch 
for the reception of the rice and other grain which will 
be given him as alms, and takes up his little drum (gilaka 
or damaraka) made of frog's skin. It is essential for a 
successful day's begging that he should first visit a Mala 
house or two, after which he begs from other castes, going 
from house to house. 

The members combine with begging the professions 
of devil-dancer, sorcerer, and quack doctor. Their remedy 
for scorpion sting is well-known. It is the root of a 
plant called thella visari (scorpion antidote), which the 
Sakuna Pakshis carry about with them on their rounds. 
The root should be collected on a new-moon day which 
falls on a Sunday. On that day, the Sakuna Pakshi 

Birds of India. 

SAlAnguicARan 264 

bathes, cuts off his loin-string, and goes stark naked to a 
selected spot, where he gathers the roots. If a supply- 
thereof is required, and the necessary combination of 
moon and day is not forthcoming, the roots should be 
collected on a Sunday or Wednesday. 

Salangukaran. — In the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, Salangaikaran is returned as a synonym of Karai- 
yan or Sembadavan fishermen. The word salangu or 
slangu is used for pearl fisheries, and Salangukaran is, 
I imagine, a name applied to pearl divers. 

Salapu.— The Salapus are a small caste of Telugu 
weavers in Vizagapatam, for the following note on whom 
I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The name 
Salapu seems to be a corruption of Saluppan, a caste 
which formerly engaged in the manufacture of gunny- 
bags and coarse cloths. The Salapus at the present day 
make such cloths, commonly called gamanchalu. Like 
some other weaving castes, they claim descent from 
Markandeya rishi, who was remarkable for his austerities 
and great age, and is also known as Dirghayus. The 
Salapus will not eat, or intermarry with Sales. The caste 
is governed by a headman called Senapati. He decides 
disputes, and, on occasions of marriage, receives the first 
share of betel and sandal, and is the first to touch the 
sathamanam (marriage badge) when it is passed round 
to be blessed by those assembled. He is, at marriages, 
further presented with a rupee. At caste feasts, it is 
his privilege to partake of food first. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Salapus have inti- 
perulu, or exogamous septs. Girls are generally married 
before puberty. The custom of menarikam, by which a 
man should marry his maternal uncle's daughter, is in 
force. The turmeric ceremony takes place some months 
before marriage. Some male and female relations of 

265 SALE 

the future bridegroom repair to the house of the girl, 
taking with them a few rupees as the bride-price (voli). 
The girl bathes, and daubs herself with turmeric paste. 
A solid silver bangle is then put on her right wrist. 
The remarriage of widows and divorce are permitted. 

The Salapus are divided into Lingavantas and 
Vaishnavas, who intermarry. The former bury their 
dead in a sitting posture, and the latter practice crema- 
tion. Jangams officiate for the Lingavantas, and Satanis 
for Vaishnavas. Both sections observe the chinna 
(little) and pedda rozu (big day) death ceremonies. 

The caste title is generally Ayya. 

Salapu. — A form of Sarapu, an occupational term 
for those who deal in coins, jewelry, coral, etc. 

Sale.— The Sales are the great weaver class among 
the Telugus, for the following note on whom I am 
indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 

The name is derived from Sanskrit, Salika, a weaver. 
The Sales call themselves Senapati (commander-in- 
chief), and this is further the title of the caste headman. 
They are divided into two main endogamous sections, 
Padma or lotus, and Pattu or silk. Between them there 
are three well-marked points of difference, viz., (i) the 
Pattu Sales wear the sacred thread, whereas the Padma 
Sales do not ; the Pattu Sales do not take food or water 
at the hands of any except Brahmans, whereas the 
Padma Sales will eat in Kapu, Golla, Telaga, Gavara, 
etc., houses ; (3) the Pattu Sales weave superfine cloths, 
and, in some places, work in silk, whereas Padma Sales 
weave only coarse cloths. Each section is divided into 
a number of exogamous septs or intiperulu. Both speak 
Telugu, and are divided into Vaishnavites and Saivites. 
These religious distinctions are no bar to intermarriage 
and interdining. 

SALE 266 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district (1907), that " on the plains, cotton cloths 
are woven in hundreds of villages by Sales, Padma 
Sales, Pattu Sales, Devangas, and Salapus. The ryots 
often spin their own cotton into thread, and then hand 
it over to the weavers to be made into cloths, but 
large quantities of machine-made yarn are used. In 
the south, the chief weaving centres are Nakkapalli 
and Payakaraopeta in Sarvasiddhi taluk, the Pattu 
Sales in the latter of which turn out fabrics of fine 
thread, enriched with much gold and silver ' lace,' which 
are in great demand in the Godavari and Ganjam 
districts. At Razam, coloured cloths for women are 
the chief product, and in the country round this place 
the white garments so universal everywhere give place 
to coloured dress. The cloths are sold locally, and 
also sent in large quantities to Berhampur, Cuttack, and 
even Calcutta. Most of the weaving is in the hands of 
Devangas, but the dyeing of the thread is done with 
imported aniline and alizarine colours by the Balijas of 
Sigadam in Chipurupalle taluk and Balijapeta in Bobbili. 
In Siripuram and Ponduru, the Pattu Sales make deli- 
cate fabrics from especially fine thread, called Pattu 
Sale nulu, or silk-weaver's thread, which the women of 
their caste spin for them, and which is as fine as 
imported 1508. These are much valued by well-to-do 
natives for their softness and durability. The weaving 
industry is on the decline throughout the district, except 
perhaps in Razam, and the weaver castes are taking 
to other means of livelihood. Round Chipurupalle, for 
example, the Pattu Sales have become experts in tobacco- 
curing, and have made such profits that they are able 
to monopolise much of the trade and money-lending of 
the locality." 

26; SALE 

Concerning the origin of the Sale caste, it is stated, 
in the Andhrapada Parijatamu, that it is the result of 
an union between a Kamsala man and a potter 
woman. According to a current legend, the celestials 
(devatas), being desirous of securing clothing for them- 
selves and their dependents, asked Markandeya Rishi 
to supply them with it. He went to Vishnu, and 
prayed to him. The god directed him to make a 
sacrificial offering to Indra, the celestial king. Mar- 
kandeya accordingly performed a great sacrifice, and 
from the fire issued Bhavana Rishi, with a ball of 
thread in his hands, which he had manufactured, under 
Vishnu's direction, from the fibre of the lotus which 
sprang from the god's navel. With this ball of thread 
he proceeded to make cloths for the celestials. He 
subsequently married Bhadravathi, the daughter of 
Surya (the sun), who bore him a hundred and one sons, 
of whom a hundred became the ancestors of the Padma 
Sales, while the remaining man was the ancestor of the 
Pattu Sales. 

The caste worships Bhavana Rishi. At the close 
of the year, the caste occupation is stopped before the 
Sankramanam for ten days. Before they start work again, 
the Pattu Sales meet at an appointed spot, where they 
burn camphor, and wave it before a ball of thread, which 
represents Bhavana Rishi. A more elaborate rite is per- 
formed by the Padma Sales. They set apart a special 
day for the worship of the deified ancestor, and hold a 
caste feast. A special booth is erected, in which a 
ball of thread is placed. A caste-man acts as pujari 
(priest), and fruits, flowers, camphor, etc., are offered to 
the thread. 

The Telugu Padma Sales, and Marathi-speaking 
Sukun and Suka Sales, are, as will be seen from the 











sal£ 268 

following table, short of stature, with high cephalic 
index : — 

Padma Sale 
Suka Sale 
Sukun Sale 

The Padma and Kama Sales are dealt with in special 

Writing in the eighteenth century, Sonnerat remarks 
that the weaver fixes his loom under a tree before his 
house in the morning, and at night takes it home. And 
this observation holds good at the present day. Weaving 
operations, as they may be seen going on at weaving 
centres in many parts of Southern India, are thus 
described by Mr. H. A. Stuart.* "The process of 
weaving is very simple. The thread is first turned off 
upon a hand-spindle, and then the warp is formed. 
Bamboo sticks, 120 in number, are fixed upright in the 
ground, generally in the shade of a tope or grove, at a 
distance of a cubit from one another, and ten women or 
children, carrying ratnams (spindles) in their hands, walk 
up and down this line, one behind the other, intertwining 
the thread between the bamboos, until 1,920 threads of 
various colours, according to the pattern desired, are 
thus arranged. For this work each gets half an anna — 
a small renumeration for walking four miles. To form 
a warp sufficient for eight women's cloths, forty miles 
have thus to be traversed. In weaving silk cloths or the 
finer fabrics, the length of the warp is less than sixty 
yards. As soon as the threads have been arranged, the 
bamboos are plucked up, and rolled together with the 

♦ Manual of the North Arcot district. 

269 SALE 

threads upon them. Trestles are then set out in the 
tope, and upon them the warp with the bamboos is 
stretched horizontally, and sized by means of large long 
brushes with ragi starch, and carried along by two men. 
This having dried, the whole is rolled up, and placed in 
the loom in the weaver's house. The weaving room is 
a long, narrow, dark chamber, lighted by one small 
window close to where the workman sits. The loom is 
constructed on the simplest principles, and can be taken 
to pieces in a few minutes, forming a light load for a man. 
The alternate threads of the warp are raised and 
depressed, to receive the woof in the following manner. 
Two pairs of bamboos are joined together by thin twine 
loops, and, being suspended from the roof, are also 
joined to two pedals near the floor. Through the join- 
ing loops of one pair of bamboos run half the threads, 
and through those of the other run the other half. Thus, 
by depressing one pedal with the foot and raising the 
other, one set of threads is depressed, and the other 
raised so as to admit of the woof thread being shot 
across. This thread is forced home by a light beam 
suspended from the roof, and then, the position of the 
pedals being reversed, the woof thread is shot back again 
between the reversed threads of the warp. In this way 
about three yards can be woven in a day." Further 
Mr. J. D. Rees writes as follows.* " As you enter a 
weaver's grove, it appears at first sight as if those 
occupied in this industry were engaged in a pretty game. 
Rows of women walk up and down the shady aisles, each 
holding aloft in the left hand a spindle, and in the 
right a bamboo wand, through a hook at the end of 
which the thread is passed. Alongside are split bamboos 

• Twelfth Tour of Lord Connemara, 1890. 

SALE 270 

reaching as high as their hips, and, as they pass, they 
unwind the thread from the spindle by means of the 
wand, and pass it over each alternate upright. The 
threads, thus separated, are subsequently lifted with their 
bamboo uprights from the ground, and, while extended 
from tree to tree in a horizontal position, are washed with 
rice-water, and carefully brushed. The threads are now 
ready to be made into cloth, and the actual weaving is 
carried on by means of primitive hand looms inside the 

Weavers, like many other classes in Southern India, 
are eminently conservative. Even so trifling an inno- 
vation as the introduction of a new arrangement for 
maintaining tension in the warp during the process of 
weaving gave rise a short time ago to a temporary 
strike among the hand-loom weavers at the Madras 
School of Arts. 

For the following note on the weaving industry, I am 
indebted to Mr. A. Chatterton. " The hand-weavers 
may be divided into two great classes — (i) plain 
weavers, who weave cloths or fabrics with a single 
shuttle, which carries the weft from selvage to selvage ; 
(2) bordered cloth weavers, who weave cloths in which 
the threads of the weft of the portion of the fabric form- 
ing the borders are distinct from the threads of the weft 
of the main body of the cloth. To manufacture these 
cloths, three shuttles are employed, and as yet no 
successful attempt has been made to imitate them on the 
power loom. The bordered cloth weavers do not suffer 
from the direct competition of machine-made piece- 
goods, and the depression in their branch of the industry 
is due to changes in the tastes of the people.* In the 

• See Thurston. Monograph on the Cotton Industry of the Madras Presi- 
dency, 1897. 

271 SALfi 

manufacture of a cloth from the raw material there are 
three distinct processes : spinning, warping, and weaving. 
Modern machinery has absolutely and completely ousted 
hand-spinning ; the primitive native methods of warp- 
ing have been to a large extent replaced by improved 
hand-machines, and power looms have displaced hand 
looms to some extent ; but there is still an enormous 
hand-loom industry, some branches of which are in by 
no means an unsatisfactory condition. In our efforts to 
place the hand-weaving industry on abetter footing, we 
are endeavouring to improve the primitive methods of 
indigenous weavers both in regard to warping and 
weaving. In respect to weaving we have met with 
considerable success, as we have demonstrated that the 
output of the fly-shuttle loom is fully double that of the 
native hand loom, and it is in consequence slowly 
making its way in the weaving centres of Southern 
India. In respect to warping, no definite solution has 
yet been effected, and we are still experimenting. The 
problem is complicated by the fact that the output of 
a warping mill must necessarily be sufficient to keep at 
least a hundred hand looms at work, and at the present 
time the hand-weaving industry is not organised on 
any basis, which gives promise of development into 
co-operative working on so large a scale as would give 
employment to this number of looms. In Madura, 
Coimbatore, Madras and Salem, attempts are being made 
to establish organised hand-loom weaving factories, and 
these represent the direction in which future development 
must take place. At present all these factories are 
running with fly-shuttle looms, and various modifications 
of the old types of hand-warping machinery. The only 
experiments in warping and sizing are now being 
conducted, at Government expense, in the Government 

SALE 272 

weaving factory at Salem, and in a small factory- 
established privately at Tondiarpet (Madras). A warp- 
ing machinery, suited to Indian requirements, has been 
specially designed for us in England, and there is no 
doubt but that it will provide a solution to the warping 
question, but whether it will be satisfactory or not 
depends upon the efficiency of hank sizing. The 
superiority of native cloths is commonly attributed to 
the fact that they are made in hand looms, but in reality 
it is largely due to the methods of sizing employed by 
native weavers, and it is still doubtful whether we can 
attain the same results by any process which involves 
the production of continuous warps of indefinite length. 
The ordinary native warp is short, and it is stretched 
out to its full length in the street, and the size carefully 
and thoroughly brushed into it. The warps which our 
machines will produce may be thousands of yards in 
length, and, if they are successful, will almost entirely 
do away with the enormous waste of time involved in 
putting new warps into a loom at frequent intervals. 
That they will be successful in a sense there is no 
reasonable doubt, but whether the goods produced in 
our hand-weaving factories will be what are now known 
as hand-woven goods, or whether they will partake more 
of the nature of the power-loom productions, remains 
to be seen. With the cheap labour available in South- 
ern India, there is probably a future for hand-weaving 
factories, but it will depend almost entirely upon the 
successful training of the weavers, and experience 
shows that they are not easily amenable to discipline, 
and have very rigid objections to anything approaching 
a factory system." 

In a speech delivered at Salem in 1906, Sir Arthur 
Lawley, Governor of Madras, spoke as follows. " I 

273 SALE 

know something of the prosperity of the weaving in- 
dustry in days gone by, and I regret exceedingly to 
learn that it is not in so flourishing a condition as at 
one time it well claimed to be. Now, we have all of 
us heard a good deal of Swadeshi, and the Government 
is being constantly urged, from time to time, to do 
something to foster the industries of this country. We 
made a beginning here by setting up a Weaving 
Institute. We believed that by doing so we should 
put within the knowledge of the weavers of this 
district methods whereby their output of cloth would be 
greater, while the cost was reduced, and that thus their 
material prosperity would be considerably advanced. 
Now it is somewhat of a surprise, and considerable 
disappointment to me to learn that this effort which 
we have made is regarded with suspicion, if not with 
hostility. I am afraid our motives have been mis- 
understood, because I need hardly assure you that the 
idea that the Government should enter into competi- 
tion with any of the industries of the country never 
suggested Itself to us. We desired simply and solely 
to infuse some fresh spirit Into an industry which was 

In a note on the weaving industry, Mr. E. B. 
Havell writes thus."*^ " The principle of the Danish 
co-operative system as applied to dairy-farming is the 
combination of a number of small proprietors for send- 
ing their products to a central factory, in which each 
of them has a share proportionate to the quantity of 
his contributions. In the management of the factory, 
each member has an absolutely equal voice, irrespective 
of his holdings. Adapting such a system to the Indian 

• East and West, VI, 70, 1907. 

SALE 274 

weaving industry, each weaving community would have a 
central establishment under its own control, which would 
arrange the purchase of material at wholesale rates, 
prepare warps for the weavers' looms, and organise the 
sale of the finished products. The actual weaving would 
be carried on as at present in the weavers' houses by the 
master weavers and their apprentices. If a system of 
this kind would retain the economic advantages of the 
factory system, and eliminate its many evils, it is obvious 
that a factory, owned and controlled by the weavers 
themselves, and worked only for their advantage, is a 
very different thing to a factory controlled by capitalists 
only for the purpose of exploiting the labour of their 

As bearing on the general condition of the weaving 
community, the following extract from the Report of the 
Famine in the Madras Presidency, 1896-97, may be 
quoted. "Among the people who felt the distress at 
the beginning were the weavers. It is a well-known 
fact that the people of the weaver castes, as well as 
Mussalman weavers, are generally improvident, and 
consequently poor. In favourable times, the weavers 
generally earn fair wages. They, however, spend all they 
earn without caring to lay by anything, so that very few of 
their caste are in well-to-do circumstances. The same is 
the case with the Mussalman weavers. All these weavers 
are entirely in the hands of the sowcars (money-lenders), 
who make advances to them, and get cloths in return. 
The cloths thus obtained by the sowcars are exported to 
other parts of the country. It may be taken as a general 
fact that most of the professional weavers are indebted 
to the sowcars, and are bound to weave for them. So 
long as the seasons are favourable, and sowcars get 
indents for cloths from their customers, they continue 

275 SALE 

their advances to their dependent weavers. But when, 
owing to any cause, the demand decreases, the sowcars 
curtail their advances proportionately, and the weavers 
are at once put to difficulty. According to the fineness 
and kind of fabrics turned out by the weavers, they may 
be divided into fine cloth weavers and silk weavers, 
and weavers of coarse cloths. It is the coarse cloth 
weavers that would be affected with the first appearance 
of distress. The consumers of their manufactures are 
the poorer classes, and, with the appearance of scarcity 
and high prices, the demand for the coarser kinds of 
cloths would cease. Such was actually the case at the 
beginning of the recent distress. The weavers are, as 
a class, not accustomed to hard manual labour, nor 
are they able to work exposed to heat and sun. If 
such people are put on earth-work, they would certainly 
fail to turn out the prescribed task, and consequently 
earn insufficient wages. They would thus be, as it 
were, punished for no fault of theirs. This state of 
things would last at least for some time, until the 
weavers got accustomed to earth-work. Again, these 
people have, by constant work at their own craft, 
attained to a certain degree of skill and delicacy, and, 
if compelled to do earth-work during the temporary 
unfavourable season, they would certainly lose, to some 
extent, their skill and delicacy of hand, and would 
become unfit, in that degree, for their accustomed work 
when favourable season returns. They would thus 
be put to inconvenience doubly. During the first part 
of the distress, their skill of hand, and delicacy of 
constitution would stand in their way, and, after the 
return of good season, the loss of manual skill and 
delicacy would place them at a disadvantage. It can 
be easily seen that giving relief to the weavers in 

VI-18 B 

Sale 276 

their own calling is the most economical form of relief. 
In this form of special relief, Government advances 
materials to the weavers to be woven into different 
kinds of cloths. Government has no doubt to incur 
a large initial expenditure in the shape of value of 
materials, and wages for weavers for making these 
materials into cloths. But all the materials are returned 
woven into cloths, so that, at the close of the opera- 
tions, Government has a stock of cloths, which can be 
disposed of without difficulty on the return of favourable 
times, and the cost incurred recovered. In this way, 
Government not only administers relief to a pretty large 
section of its poor subjects, but keeps up, with little or 
no cost to itself, the industrial skill of this section of 
the people." 

Of proverbs relating to the weaver, one runs to the 
eftect that, " if you want to narrow the breadth of a river, 
you should plant reeds on its margin ; and, if you desire 
to destroy the sanitation of a village, you should bring 
weavers to it, and settle them there." When the dyes 
have to be fixed, and the dyed twist has to be washed, 
the weavers generally resort to running water, and 
pollute it. The several processes of twisting and un- 
twisting threads, preparing skeins, etc., make combined 
labour a necessity in the weaving industry ; and, wherever 
one finds a weaver settlement, he must find there a large 
number of these people, as is explained by the proverb 
that " the Cbetti (merchant) lost by partnership, while 
the weaver came to grief by isolation." When plying 
shuttles in the weaving process, the weavers always 
use their feet in shifting the warp, by treading on a 
press. Thus, if a weaver unfortunately happens to 
have a sore on his foot, it means loss to him ; or, as the 
proverb says, " If a dog gets a sore on its head, it never 


recovers from it ; and even so a weaver who gets a 
sore on his foot." ^ 

Salige (wire). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Saliyan.— The Saliyan weavers of Kornad and 
Ayyampet, in the Tanjore district, are a Tamil-speaking 
class, who must not be confused with the Telugu Sales. 
They afford an interesting example of how a limited 
number of families, following the same occupation, can 
crystallise into a separate caste. They claim to have 
a Puranam relating to their origin, which is said to 
be found in the Sthalapuranam of the Nalladai temple. 
They believe that they are the descendants of one Saliya 
Maha Rishi, a low-caste man, who did service for 
one Visakar, who was doing penance near Nalladai. 
Through the grace of the rishi Visakar, Saliya became a 
rishi, and married two wives. The Saliyans are said to 
be descended from the offspring of the first wife, and the 
Mottai Saliyans from the offspring of the second. 

The Saliyans have taken to wearing the sacred 
thread, engage Brahman purohits, and are guided by 
Brahman priests. They are said to have had their own 
caste priests until a Brahman from Sendangudi, near 
Mayavaram, accepted the office of priest. It is reported 
that, in former days, the Saliyans were not allowed to 
sell their goods except in a fixed spot called mamarath- 
thumedu, where they set out their cloths on bamboos. 
High-caste people never touched the cloths, except with 
a stick. At the present day the Saliyans occupy a good 
position in the social scale, and employ Brahman cooks, 
though no other castes will eat in their houses. 

A curious feature in connection with the Saliyans 
is that, contrary to the usual rule among Tamil castes, 

♦ Madras Mail, 1904. 



they have exogamous septs or vidu (house), of which the 

following are examples : — 

Mandhi, black monkey. 
Kottangkachchi, cocoanut 

Thuniyan, cloth. 
Kachchandhi, gunny-bag. 
Vellai parangi, white vegetable 

Ettadiyan, eight feet. 
Thadiyan, stout. 
Kazhudhai, donkey. 
Thavalai, frog. 
Sappaikalan, crooked-legged. 
Malaiyan, hill. 
Kaththan, an attendant on 


Ozhakkan, a measure. 
Thondhi, belly. 
Munginazhi, bamboo measure. 
Odakkazhinjan, one wljo defse- 

cated when running. 
Kamban, the Tamil poet. 
Ottuvidu, tiled house. 
Kalli, Euphorbia Tirucalli. 
Sirandhan, a noble person. 
Thambiran, master or lord. 
Kollai, backyard. 
Madlvidu, storeyed house. 
Murugan, name of a person. 

The Saliyans have further acquired gotras named 
after rishis, and, when questioned as to their gotra, refer 
to the Brahman purohits. 

The Saliyan weavers of silk Kornad women's cloths, 
who have settled at Mayavaram in the Tanjore district, 
neither intermarry nor interdine with the Saliyans of the 
Tinnevelly district, though they belong to the same 
linguistic division. The Tinnevelly Saliyans closely 
follow the Kaikolans in their various ceremonials, and 
in their social organisation, and interdine with them. 
Saliya women wear three armlets on the upper arm, 
whereas Kaikola women only wear a single armlet. 
The Saliyans may not marry a second wife during the 
lifetime of the first wife, even if she does not bear 
children. They may, however, adopt children. Some 
of the Tinnevelly Saliyans have taken to trade and agri- 
culture, while others weave coarse cotton cloths, and dye 
cotton yarn. 


In the Census Report, 1901, Ataviyar is recorded as 
"a synonym for, or rather title of the Tinnevelly Sales." 
Further, Pattariyar is described as a Tamil corruption 
of Pattu Saliyan, returned by some of the Tinnevelly 
Sales. The Adaviyar or Pattalia Settis are Tamilians, 
probably an offshoot of the Kaikolans, and have no 
connection with the Telugu Pattu Sales, who, like the 
Padma Sales, retain their mother-tongue wherever they 
settle. It is recorded * in connection with the Saliyar 
of the Chingleput district, many of whom are Kaikolans, 
that "a story is current of their persecution by one Salva 
Naik (said to have been a Brahman). The result of this 
was that large bodies of them were forced to flee from 
Conjeeveram to Madura, Tanjore, and Tinnevelly, where 
their representatives are still to be found." 

The Adaviyars follow the Tamil Puranic type of 
marriage ceremonies, and have a sirutali (small tali) as a 
marriage badge. The caste deity is Mukthakshiamman. 
The dead are always cremated. 

Saluppan. — The Tamil equivalent of the Telugu 
Janappan, which is derived from janapa, the sunn hemp 
( Crotolaria junced). 

Samagara. — The Samagaras have been described t 
as " the principal class of leather-workers in the South 
Canara district. They are divided into two endoga- 
mous groups, the Canarese Samagaras and the Arya 
Samagaras. The latter speak Marathi. Though the 
Samagaras are in the general estimation as low a caste 
as the Holeyas, and do not materially differ from them 
in their religious and other ceremonies and customs, 
they are, as a rule, of much fairer complexion, and the 
women are often very handsome. The tanning industry 

* Manual of the Chingleput district, 
t Manual of the South Canara district. 


is chiefly carried on by the Samagaras, and their modus 
operandi is as follows. The hides are soaked for a 
period of one month in large earthen vats containing 
water, to which chunam is added at the rate of two seers 
per hide. After the expiry of the above period, they 
are soaked in fresh water for three days, in view to 
the chunam being removed. They are then put into 
an earthen vessel filled with water and the leaves of 
Phyllanthus Emblica, in which they remain for twelve 
days. After this, they are removed and squeezed, and 
replaced in the same vessel, where they are allowed 
to remain for about a month, after which period they are 
again removed, washed and squeezed. They are then 
sewn up and stuffed with the bark of cashew, daddala, 
and nerale trees, and hung up for a day. After this, 
the stitching is removed, and the hides are washed 
and exposed to the sun to dry for a day, when they be- 
come fit for making sandals. Some of the hides rot in 
this process to such an extent as to become utterly unfit 
for use." 

The badge of the Are Samagara at Conjeeveram is 
said * to be the insignia of the Mochis (or Mucchis), a 
boy's kite. 

Samaritan.—" This," the Census Superintendent, 
1891, writes, ''may be called the caste of Malayalam 
Rajahs and chieftains, but it is hardly a separate caste 
at all, at any rate at present, for those Nayars and others 
who have at any time been petty chieftains in the country, 
call themselves Samantas. The primary meaning of the 
word Samanta is given by Dr. Gundert f as the chief of 
a district." The number of people who returned them- 
selves as Samantas (including a few Samantan Brahmans) 

• Ind. Ant,, IV, 1875. t Malayalam and English Dictionary. 


at the Census, 1881, was 1,611, and in 1901 they increased 

to 4,351- 

In a suit brought against the Collector of Malabar 

(Mr. Logan) some years ago by one Nilambur Thachara 

Kovil Mana Vikrama, alias Elaya Tirumalpad, the 

plaintiff entered an objection to his being said by the 

Collector to be of " a caste (Nayar), who are permitted 

to eat fish and flesh, except of course beef." He stated 

in court that he was " a Samantan by caste, and a 

Samantan is neither a Brahman, nor a Kshatriya, nor a 

Vaisya, nor a Sudra." Samantan, according to him, 

is a corruption of Samantran, which, he stated, meant 

one who performs ceremonies without mantrams. He 

said that his caste observes all the ceremonies that 

Brahmans do, but without mantrams. And he gave the 

following as the main points in which his caste differs 

from that of the Nayars. Brahmans can take their food 

in the houses of members of his caste, while they cannot 

do so in those of Nayars. At the performance of sradhs 

in his caste, Brahmans are fed, while this is not done in 

the case of Nayars. Brahmans can prepare water for 

the purpose of purification in his house, but not in that 

of a Nayar. If a Nayar touches a Samantan, he has to 

bathe in the same way as a Brahman would have to do. 

For the performance of marriages and other ceremonies 

in his caste, Malabar Brahmans are absolutely necessary. 

At marriages the tali is tied by Kshatriyas. A Samantan 

has fourteen days' pollution, while a Nayar has fifteen. 

He can only eat what a Brahman can eat. He added 

that he was of the same caste as the Zamorin of Calicut. 

A number of witnesses, including the author of the 

Keralavakhsha Kramam, were examined in support of 

his assertions. It was noted by the District Judge that 

no documentary evidence was produced, or reference to 


public records or works of authority made in support of 
the theory as to the existence of a caste of Samantas 
who are not Nayars, and are classed under Kshatriyas, 
and above the Vaisyas. The following account is 
given by the author of the Keralavakhsha Kramam 
of the origin of the Samantas. Some Kshatriyas who, 
being afraid of Parasu Rama, were wandering in foreign 
parts, and not observing caste rules, came to Malabar, 
visited Cheraman Perumal, and asked for his protec- 
tion. On this Cheraman Perumal, with the sanction 
of the Brahmans, and in pursuance of the rules laid 
down by the Maharajas who had preceded him, classed 
these people as members of the Samantra caste. 
"That this book," the Judge observed, "can be looked 
on as being in any way an authority on difficult and 
obscure historical questions, or that the story can be 
classed as more than a myth, there are no grounds for 
supposing." No linguistic work of recognised authority 
was produced in support of the derivation of the word 
Samantan from Samantran, meaning without mantrams. 
One exhibit in the case above referred to was an 
extract from the report of a commission appointed to 
inspect the state and condition of the province of 
Malabar. It is dated nth October, 1793, and in it 
allusion is made to the * Tichera Tiroopaar ' who is 
described as a chief Nayar of Nilambur in the southern 
division of the country. Evidence was given to show 
that Tichera Tiroopaar is the Nilambur Tirumulpad. 
And, in a letter from the Supervisor of Malabar, dated 
15th November, 1793, allusion is made to Tichera Tiroo- 
paar as a Nayar. Two extracts from Buchanan's well- 
known work on Mysore, Canara and Malabar, were also 
filed as exhibits. In one Buchanan relates what was 
told him by the Brahmans of the history of * Malayala'. 


Among other things, he mentions that Cheraman Perumal, 
having come to the resolution of retiring to Mecca, went 
to Calicut. " He was there met by a Nayar who was a 
gallant chief, but who, having been absent at the division, 
had obtained no share of his master's dominions. Chera- 
man Perumal thereupon gave him his sword, and desired 
him to keep all that he could conquer. From this person's 
sisters are descended the Tamuri Rajahs or Zamorins." 
In the second extract, Buchanan sums up the result of 
enquiries that he had made concerning the Zamorin and 
his family. He states that the head of the family is the 
Tamuri Rajah, called by Europeans the Zamorin, and 
adds : " The Tamuri pretends to be of a higher rank than 
the Brahmans, and to be inferior only to the invisible 
gods, a pretension that was acknowledged by his subjects, 
but which is held as absurd and abominable by the 
Brahmans, by whom he is only treated as a Sudra." 

An important witness said that he knew the plaintiff, 
and that he was a Sudra. He stated that he had lived 
for two years in the Zamorin's kovilagom, and knew the 
customs of his family. According to him there was no 
difference between his own caste customs and those of the 
Zamorin. He said that Samantan means a petty chief- 
tain, and drew attention to the * Sukra Niti,' edited by 
Dr. Oppert, where a Samantan is said to be "he who gets 
annually a revenue of from one to three lakhs karshom 
from his subjects without oppressing them." There 
are, according to him, some Nayars who call themselves 
Samantas, and he added that when, in 1887, the Collector 
of Malabar called for lists of all stanom-holders * in the 
district, he examined these lists, and found that some of 
the Nayar chiefs called themselves Samantan. 

• Sthanam = a station, rank or dignity. Moore : Malabar Law and Custom. 


"A consideration of all the evidence," the Judge 
writes, "appears to me to prove conclusively that the 
plaintiff is a Nayar by caste . . . What appears to 
me, from a consideration of the evidence, to be the safe 
inference to draw is that the members of the plaintiff's 
family, and also the descendants of certain other of the 
old Nayar chieftains, have for some time called them- 
selves, and been called by others, Samantas, but that 
there is no distinctive caste of that name, and that the 
plaintiff is, as the defendant has described him, a Nayar 
by caste."* 

The Samantans are summed up as follows in the 
Gazetteer of Malabar. " Samantan is the generic name 
of the group of castes forming the aristocracy of Mala- 
bar, and it includes the following divisions : — Nambiyar, 
Unnltiri, Adiyodi, all belonging to North Malabar ; and 
Nedungadi, Vallodi, Eradi, and Tirumulpad, all belong- 
ing to South Malabar. There are also Nayars with the 
title of Nambiyar and Adiyodi. Nedungadi, Vallodi and 
Eradi, are territorial names applied to the Samantans 
indigenous to Ernad, Walavanad, and Nedunganad 
respectively ; or perhaps it may be more correct to say 
that the tracts in question take their names from the 
ruling classes, who formerly bore sway there. Eradi is 
the caste to which belongs the Zamorin Raja of Calicut. 
It is also the name of a section of Kiriyattil Nayars. 
The Raja of Walavanad is a Vallodi. Tirumulpad is 
the title of a class of Samantans, to which belong a 
number of petty chieftains, such as the Karnamulpad 
of Manjeri and the Tirumulpad of Nilambur. The 
ladies of this class are called Kolpads or Koilammahs. 
Many Nambiyars in North Malabar claim to belong to 

* Original Suit No. 31, 1887, Court of Calicut. Appeal No. 202, il 
High Court of Madras. 


the Samantan caste, but there is at least reason to 
suppose that they are properly Nayars, and that the 
claim to the higher rank is of recent date. That such 
recruitment is going on is indicated by the difference 
between the number of persons returned as Samantans 
in the censuses of 1901 and 1891 (4,351 and 1,225 
respectively), which is far above the normal percentage 
of increase of population. Kshatriyas wear the punul 
(thread) ; Samantans as a rule do not. Most Kshatriyas 
eat with Brahmans, and have a pollution period of 
eleven nights, indicating that their position in the caste 
hierarchy lies between the Brahmans with ten days and 
the Ambalavasis proper with twelve. Samantans as a 
rule observe fifteen days' pollution, and may not eat with 
Brahmans. Both follow marumakkatayam (inheritance 
in the female line), and their women as a rule have 
sambandham (alliance) only with Brahmans or Kshatri- 
yas. Those who belong to the old Royal families are 
styled Raja or Tamburan (lord), their ladies Tambu- 
rattis, and their houses Kovilagams or palaces. Some 
Samantans have the caste titles of Kartavu and Kaimal. 
But it does not appear that there are really any material 
differences between the various classes of Samantans, 
other than purely social differences due to their relative 
wealth and influence." 

"Tradition," writes the Travancore Census Super- 
intendent (1901), "traces the Samantas to the prudent 
Kshatriyas, who cast off the holy thread, to escape 
detection and slaughter by Parasu Rama. They are 
believed to have then fled to uninhabited forests till 
they forgot the Sandhyavandana prayers, and became 
in certain respects no better than Sudras. Thus they 
came, it is said, to be called Amantrakas, Samantrakas, 
Samantas, or having no mantra at all. Referring to this, 

samantan 286 

Mr. Stuart says * * Neither philology, nor anything else, 
supports this fable.' From the word Samantra, Samanta 
can, no doubt, be conveniently derived, but, if they could 
not repeat mantras, they should have been called Aman- 
tras and not Samantras. In the Kerala Mahatmya we 
read that the Perumals appointed Samantas to rule 
over portions of their kingdom. Taking the Sanskrit 
word Samanta, we may understand it to mean a petty 
chief or ruler. It is supposed that the Perumals who 
came to Malabar contracted matrimonial alliances with 
high class Nayar women, and that the issue of such 
unions were given chiefships over various extents of 
territories. Changes in their manners and customs were, 
it is said, made subsequently, by way of approximation to 
the Kshatriyas proper. Though the sacred thread, and 
the Gayatri hymn were never taken up, less vital changes, 
as, for instance, that of the wearing of the ornaments of 
the Kshatriya women, or of consorting only with Nam- 
butiri husbands, were adopted. Those who lived in 
Ernat formed themselves by connections and alliances 
into one large caste, and called themselves Eratis. Those 
who lived in Valluvanat became Vallotis. The unification 
could not assume a more cosmopolitan character as the 
several families rose to importance at different times, and, 
in all probability, from different sections of the Nayars." 
In the Travancore Census Report (1901) the chief 
divisions of the Samantas are said to be Atiyoti, Unyatiri, 
Pantala, Erati, Valloti, and Netungati. "The Unyatiris," 
the Travancore Census Superintendent writes further, 
" look upon themselves as a higher class than the rest 
of the Samantas, as they have an Aryapattar to tie the 
tali of their girls, the other five castes employing only 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


Kshatriyas (Tirumulpats) for that duty. The word 
Atiyoti has sometimes been derived from Atiyan, a slave 
or vassal, the tradition being that the Kattanat Raja, 
having once been ousted from his kingdom by the 
Zamorin of Calicut, sought the assistance of the Raja of 
Chirakkal. The latter is believed to have made the 
Kattanat Raja his vassal as a condition for his territory 
beinof restored. The Unnittiris are not found in Travan- 
core, their place being taken by the Unyatiris, who do 
not differ from them materially in any of their manners 
and customs. The word Unnittiri means the venerable 
boy, and is merely a title of dignity. The word Pantala 
comes from Bhandarattil, meaning * in or belonging to 
the royal treasury'. They appear to have been once 
the ruling chiefs of small territories. Their women are 
known as Kovilammamar, i.e.^ the ladies of palaces or 
ranis. The Erati, the Valloti, and Netungati are British 
Malabar castes, and receive their names from the locali- 
ties, to which they may have been indigenous — Ernat, 
Valluvanat, and Netunganat. The Zamorin of Calicut 
is an Erati by caste. [In 1792, the Joint Commissioners 
wrote that * the Cartinaad and Samoory (the principal 
families in point of extent of dominion) are of the Samanth 
or Euree (cowherd) caste.'] * Some of these Eratis, 
such as the Raja of Nilambur, are called Tirumulpats. 
The only peculiarity with these Tirumulpats is that 
they may tie the tali of their women, and need not call 
other Tirumulpats for the purpose, as the rest of the 
Samantas have to do. A title that several Samantas 
often take is Kartavu (agent or doer), their females 
being called Koilpats, meaning literally those who 
live in palaces. The Samantas of Manchery and 

• Sec Malabar Quart. Review, II, 4, 1903. 


Amarampalam in Malabar are also called Tirumulpats. 
The Samantas of Chuntampattai and Cherupulasseri 
are called Kartavus. Both Kartas and Tirumulpats are 
called by the Sudra castes Tampuran or prince. The 
caste government of the Samantas rests with the Nam- 
putiri Vaidikas, and their priesthood is undertaken by 
the Namputiris. They follow the marumakkathayam 
law of inheritance (through the female line), and observe 
both the forms of marriage in vogue in the country, 
namely, tali-kettu and sambandham. Women wear the 
three special ornaments of the Kshatriyas, viz., the mittil 
or cherutali, entram, and, kuzhal. The chief of these is 
the mittil, which is used as the wedding ornament. 
It has the appearance of Rama's parasu or battle-axe. 
The houses of those Samantas, who are or were till 
recently rulers of territories, are known as kottarams or 
palaces, while those of the commonalty are merely 
called mathams, a name given to the houses of Brahmans 
not indigenous to Malabar. The occupations, which the 
Samantas pursue, are chiefly personal attendance on the 
male and female members of Royal families. Others 
are landlords, and a few have taken to the learned 
professions." In the Cochin Census Report, 1901, it is 
stated that " Samantas and Ambalavasis do not inter- 
dine. At public feasts they sit together for meals. 
Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Nampidis, and most of the 
Ambalavasi castes, do not take water from them. Birth 
and death pollution last for eleven days." 

In the Madras Civil List of titles and title-holders, 
the Zamorin of Calicut, and the Valiya Rajas of 
Chirakkal, Kadattanad, Palghat, and Waluvanad, are 
returned as Samantas. 

Samanthi {^Chrysanthemum indicum). — An exoga- 
mous sept of Kuruba and Togata. The flowers of the 


chrysanthemum are largely used for garlands, etc., in 
temple worship. 

Samantiya. — The Samantiyas are an Oriya caste of 
agricultural labourers and firewood sellers. It has been 
suggested that the caste name is derived from samantiba, 
which denotes sauntering to pick up scattered things. 
The Samantiyas are one of the castes, whose touch is 
supposed to convey pollution, and they consequently 
live apart in separate quarters. 

All the Samantiyas are said to belong to the nagasa 
(cobra) gotra. The headman is called Behara, and he 
is assisted by an official called Poricha. There is also 
a caste servant entitled Dogara. The caste title is 
Podhano, which is also frequently given out as being the 
name of the caste. 

Samantiya women will not eat food prepared by Brah- 
mans or members of other castes, and they apparently 
object to cooking in open places when travelling, and 
leave this work for the men to perform. An Oriya 
Brahman purohit officiates at the marriage ceremonies, 
which, with slight variations, conform to the standard 
Oriya type. The marriage pandal (booth) is generally 
covered with cocoanut leaves and leafy X.vf\gs oi Eugenia 
Jambolana and Zizyphus Jujuba. Four lights, and a 
vessel of water, are kept on the dais throughout the 
marriage ceremonies. The knot, with which the cloths 
of the bride and bridegroom are tied together, is untied 
on the evening of the bibha (wedding) day, instead of 
on the seventh day as among many other castes. 

Samanto.— A title of Jatapus, and other Oriya 

Samaya.-— In his * Inscriptions at Sravana Belgola' 
in Mysore, Mr. Lewis Rice refers to the Samaya as 
" Dasaris or Vaishnava religious mendicants, invested 


with authority as censors of morals. No religious 
ceremony or marriage could be undertaken without 
gaining their consent by the payment of fees, etc. 
Under the former Rajas the office was farmed out in all 
the large towns, and credited in the public accounts as 
samayachara. An important part of the profits arose 
either from the sale of women accused of incontinency, 
or from fines imposed on them for the same reason. 
The unfortunate women were popularly known as 
Sarkar (Government) wives." " The rules of the 
system," Wilks writes,* " varied according to the caste 
of the accused. Among Brahmans and Komatis, 
females were not sold, but expelled from their caste, 
and branded on the arm as prostitutes. They then 
paid to the ijardar (or contractor) an annual sum as long 
as they lived, and, when they died, all their property 
became his. Females of other Hindu castes were sold 
without any compunction by the ijardar, unless some 
relative stepped forward to satisfy his demand. These 
sales were not, as might be supposed, conducted by 
stealth, nor confined to places remote from general 
observation ; for, in the large town of Bangalore, under 
the very eyes of the European inhabitants, a large 
building was appropriated to the accommodation of 
these unfortunate women, and, so late as 1833, a distinct 
proclamation of the Commissioners was necessary to 
enforce the abolition of this detestable traffic." 

Samayamuvaru.— An itinerant class of mendi- 
cants attached to the Sale caste. From a note by Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao, I gather that they say that the name 
is an abbreviation of Ranasamayamuvaru, or men of the 
day of battle. According to a legend, when Bhavana 

* Historical Sketches of the South of India : Mysore. 


Rishi, the patron saint of the caste, was challenged to 
battle by Kalavaslna, a rakshasa, these people were 
created, and, with their assistance, the rakshasa was 
conquered. In recognition of their services, Bhavana 
Rishi made the Sales maintain them. They wander 
from place to place in single families, and, when they 
reach a halting-place, dress up, and visit the house of 
the Pedda Senapati (headman), .who feeds them for the 
day, and gives a chit (note) showing the amount paid by 
him. At their visits to Sale houses, Bhavana Rishi is 
praised. They marry in the presence of, and with the 
aid of the Sales. 

Samban.— Samban, meaning Samba or Siva, has 
been recorded as a sub-division of Idaiyan and 
Paraiyan. At times of census, Sambuni Kapu has been 
returned as the caste name by some Palle fishermen in 

Sambandham.— Sambandham, meaning literally 
connexion, is " the term used by the Nayars [and other 
castes] of South Malabar to denote that a man and 
woman are united by a (/it as i imon'ia] bond."* In 
Act IV of 1896, Madras, sambandham is defined as "an 
alliance between a man and a woman, by reason of which 
they, in accordance with the custom of the community, 
to which they belong, or either of them belongs, cohabit 
or intend to cohabit as husband and wife." 

Same (millet : Panicum miliare). — An exogamous 
sept of Kuruba. 

Sami Puli (holy tiger). — An exogamous sept of 

Sammathi Makkal (hammer-men). — An exoga- 
mous section of Kalian. 

• Moore : Malabar Law and Custom, 1905. 
VI-I9 B 


Sammeraya.^A name for Telugu beggars employed 
as servants and messengers by the heads of Lingayat 
mutts (religious institutions). It is derived from samme, 
denoting confederacy or league, and denotes those who 
are bound to the rules laid down by Lingayats. 

Samolo. — A title of Doluva. 

Sampige.^Sampige and Sampangi (champac : 
Michelia Champac a) have been recorded as an exoga- 
mous sept of Kurni and Odde. Champac flowers are 
used in the manufacture of temple garlands. 

Samudra. — Samudra, Samudram, or Samudrala, 
meaning the ocean, has been recorded as an exogamous 
sept of Telugu Brahmans, Koravas, Kurubas, Balijas, 
and Malas. The equivalent Tamudri occurs as the title 
of the Zamorin, who is the sea-king or ruler of Calicut. 

Sani. — The Sanivallu, who are a Telugu dancing- 
girl caste, are described, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as 
women who have not entered into matrimony, gain 
money by prostitution, and acting as dancers at feasts. 
Sani is also a title of the Oriya Doluvas in Ganjam, 
who are said to be descended from Puri Rajas by their 
concubines. The streets occupied by Sanis are, in 
Ganjam, known as Sani vidhi. I have heard of mission- 
aries, who, in consequence of this name, insist on their 
wives being addressed as Ammagaru instead of by the 
customary name Dorasani. 

In a note on the Sanis of the Godavari district, 
Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. " In this 
district, dancing-girls and prostitutes are made up of six 
perfectly distinct castes, which are in danger of being 
confused. These are the Sanis proper, Bogams, 
Dommara Sanis, Turaka Sanis, Mangala Bogams, and 
Madiga Bogams. Of these, the Bogams claim to be 
superior, and will not dance in the presence of, or after 


a performance by any of the others. The Sanis do not 
admit this claim, but they do not mind dancing after the 
Bogams, or in their presence. All the other classes are 
admittedly inferior to the Sanis and the Bogams. The 
Sanis would scorn to eat with any of the other dancing 
castes. The Sani women are not exclusively devoted to 
their traditional profession. Some of them marry male 
members of the caste, and live respectably with them. 
The men do not, as among the dancing castes of the 
south, assist in the dancing, or by playing the accom- 
paniments or forming a chorus, but are cultivators and 
petty traders. Like the dancing-girls of the south, the 
Sanis keep up their numbers by the adoption of girls of 
other castes. They do service in the temples, but they 
are not required to be formally dedicated or married to 
the god, as in the Tamil country. Those of them who 
are to become prostitutes are usually married to a sword 
on attaining puberty." 

Sani, meaning apparently cow-dung, occurs as a sub- 
division of the Tamil Agamudaiyans. 

Sanjogi.— The Sanjogis are an Oriya class of 
religious mendicants, who wear the sacred thread, and 
act as priests for Panos and other lowly people. The 
name indicates connection, and that they are the 
connecting link between ordinary people and those who 
have given up earthly pleasures (Sanyasis). The 
Sanjogis follow the ordinary as well as the ascetic life. 
Mr. G. Ramamurti Pantulu informs me that they are 
believed to be the offspring of ascetics who have violated 
their vow of celibacy, and women with whom they have 
lived. They make and sell bead rosaries of the sacred 
tulsi or basil [Ocimttm sanctum)^ which are worn by 
various Oriya castes. Some are cultivators, while others 
are beggars. A Sanjogi beggar goes about with a bell 


on the thigh, and a coloured pot on the left shoulder. A 
few are employed at Oriya maths (religious institutions), 
where it is their duty to invite Bairagis and ascetics to a 
dinner party, and afterwards to remove the leaf platters, 
and eat the food which is left. 

Sankati (ragi or millet pudding). — An exogamous 
sept of Boya. Ragi is the staple dietary of many of the 
lower classes, who cannot afford rice. 

Sanku.— Sanku, the conch or chank {Tttrbinella 
rapa) has been recorded as a sub-division of Dasaris, 
Koppala Velamas, and Paraiyans who act as conch- 
blowers at funerals, and as an exogamons sept of 
Kuruba. Sankukatti, or those who tie the chank, occurs 
as a sub-division of Idaiyan. The chank shell, which 
is regularly collected by divers off Tuticorin in the 
Tinnevelly district, is highly prized by Hindus, and used 
for offering libations, and as a musical instrument at 
temple services, marriages, and other ceremonials. 
Vaishnavites and Madhvas are branded with the emblems 
of the chank and chakram. The rare right-handed chank 
shell is specially valued, and purchased for large sums. 
A legend, recorded by Baldseus, runs to the effect that 
" Garroude (Garuda) flew in all haste to Brahma, and 
brought to Kistna the chianko or kinkhorn twisted to 
the right ". Such a shell appears on the coat-of-arms of 
the Raja of Cochin and on the coins of Travancore. 

Sanno (little). — A sub-division of Bottada, Omanaito, 
Pentiya, and Sondi. 

Sanror.— A synonym of Shanans, who claim that 
Shanan is derived from Sanror, meaning the learned or 

Santarasi.— An exogamous sept of Dandasi. The 
members thereof may not use mats made of the sedge of 
this name. 


Santha (a fair). — An exogamous sept of Devanga 
and Odde. 

Santo.— A sub-division of Oriya Brahmans and 

Sanyasi.— " A Sanyasi is literally a man who has 
forsaken all, and who has renounced the world and leads 
a life of celibacy, devoting himself to religious meditation 
and abstraction, and to the study of holy books. He is 
considered to have attained a state of exalted piety 
that places him above most of the restrictions of caste 
and ceremony. His is the fourth Asrama or final stage 
of life recommended for the three higher orders. 
[" Having performed religious acts in a forest during 
the third portion of his life, let him become a Sanyasi, 
for the fourth portion of it, abandoning all sensual affec- 
tion." *] The number of Brahman Sanyasis is very small ; 
they are chiefly the Gurus or High Priests of the different 
sects. These are, as a rule,, men of learning, and heads 
of monasteries, where they have a number of disciples 
under instruction and training for religious discussion. 
They are supported entirely by endowments and the con- 
tributions of their disciples. They undertake periodical 
tours for the purpose of receiving the offerings of their 
followers. Since the Sanyasi is considered to be above 
all sin, and to have acquired sufficient merit for salva- 
tion, no sradha is performed by the children born to him 
before he became an anchorite. [The skull of a Sanyasi 
is broken after death, as a guarantee of his passage 
to eternal bliss. Cf. Gosayi.] The corpse of a Sanyasi 
is buried, and never burnt, or thrown into the river. 

" The majority of the Sanyasis found, and generally 
known as such, are a class of Sudra devotees, who live 

* Manu. 


by begging, and pretend to powers of divination. They 
wear garments coloured with red ochre, and allow the 
hair to grow unshorn. They often have settled abodes, 
but itinerate. Many are married, and their descendants 
keep up the sect, and follow the same calling."* 

Sapiri. — A synonym of Relli. 

Sappaliga.— It is noted, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 901, that " in some taluks of South Canara 
they are said to be identical with, or a sub-caste of 
Ganiga." The Ganigas are a Canarese caste, of which 
the traditional occupation is oil-pressing. In the Manual 
of the South Canara district, it is recorded that 
" Sappaligs appear to be identical with the Devadigas 
(temple musicians) in North Canara, though they are 
regarded as distinct castes in South Canara. The 
Sappaligs are, as the name sappal (noise) implies, a 
class of musicians in temples, but a number of them 
are cultivators." Sappaliga is an occupational term. 
The musicians among the Tulu Moger fishing caste are 
called Sappaligas, in the same way that those Mogers 
who are engaged as oil-pressers are called Ganigas, both 
being occupational names. 

Sara (thread). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Saragu (dried or withered leaves). — A sub-division 
of Valaiyan. 

Sarangulu.^Recorded, in the Nellore district, as 
being sailors. The name is doubtless equivalent to 
Serang, which has been defined t as meaning " a native 
boatswain, or chief of a lascar crew ; the skipper of a 
small native vessel." 

Sarattu (sacred thread). — A sub-division of Kanak- 
kan, members of which wear the sacred thread. 

* Mysore Census Report, 1891, 1901. 
t Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 


Sarayi (alcholic liquor). — A sub-division of Balija. 

Sarige (lace). — The name of a class of gold-lace 
makers in Mysore, and of an exogamous sept of Kuruba. 

Sastri.— In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Sastri 
(one learned in the shastras) is described as " unrecog- 
nizable. The word is used as a title by Smarta 
Brahmans in the Madras Presidency, but the persons 
returning it came from Bombay, and were not 
Brahmans." Sastri is recorded in my notes as a title of 

Satani.— The Satanis are described in the Madras 
Census Report, 1891, as "a class of temple servants 
very much like the Malis of Bengal. The word Satani 
is a corrupt form of Sattadavan, which, literally means 
one who does not wear (the sacred thread and tuft of 
hair). For temple services Ramanuja classed Vaish- 
navites into Sattinavan and Sattadavan. The former 
are invariably Brahmans, and the latter Sudras. Hence 
Satani is the professional name given to a group of the 
Vaishnava creed. It is sometimes stated that the 
Satanis of the Madras Presidency are the disciples of 
the famous Bengali reformer Chaitanya (15th century), 
from whom, they say, the term Satani took its origin. 
But, so far as I can ascertain, this supposition rests on 
no better foundation than the similarity in sound of the 
two names, and it seems to me more than doubtful. 
There is no evidence of Chaitanya having ever preached 
in the Dravidian country, and the tenets of the Satanis of 
this Presidency differ widely from those of the followers 
of Chaitanya. The former worship only Krishna, while 
the latter venerate Vishnu in the form of Narayana also. 
The Satanis, too, have as much reverence for Ramanuja 
as the followers of Chaitanya have towards their guru, 
who is said to be an incarnation of Krishna. With 

SATANI ' 298 

regard to their religion, it will suffice to say that they are 
Tengalai Vaishnavites. They shave their heads com- 
pletely, and tie their lower cloth like a Brahman bachelor. 
In their ceremonies they more or less follow the 
Brahmans, but the sacred thread is not worn by them. 
Though the consumption of alcoholic liquor and animal 
food is strictly prohibited, they practice both to a 
considerable extent on all festive occasions, and at sradhs. 
Drinking and other excesses are common. Some 
Satanis bury the dead, and others burn them. The 
principal occupations of Satanis are making garlands, 
carrying the torches during the god's procession, and 
sweeping the temple floor. They also make umbrellas, 
flower baskets and boxes of palmyra leaves, and prepare 
the sacred balls of white clay (for making the Vaishna- 
vite sectarian mark), and saffron powder. Their usual 
agnomen is Aiya." 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Satanis are 
summed up as being " a Telugu caste of temple servants 
supposed to have come into existence in the time of the 
great Valshnavite reformer Sri Ramanujacharya (A.D. 
1 100). The principal endogamous sub-divisions of this 
caste are (i) Ekakshari, (2) Chaturakshari, (3) Ashtak- 
shari, and (4) Kulasekhara. The Ekaksharis (eka, one, 
and akshara, syllable) hope to get salvation by reciting 
the one mystic syllable Om ; the Chaturaksharis believe 
in the religious efiicacy of the four syllables Ra-ma-nu-ja ; 
the Ashtaksharis hold that the recitation of the eight 
syllables Om-na-mo-na-ra-ya-na-ya (Om ! salutation to 
Narayana) will ensure them eternal bliss ; and the 
Kulasekharas, who wear the sacred thread, claim to be 
the descendants of the Vaishnava saint Kulasekhara 
Alvar, formerly a king of the Kerala country. The first 
two sections make umbrellas, flower garlands, etc., and 


are also priests to Balijas and other Sudra castes of the 
Vaishnava sects, while the members of the other two 
have taken to temple service. In their social and reli- 
gious customs, all the sub-divisions closely imitate the 
Tengalai Vaishnava Brahmans. The marriage of girls 
after puberty, and the remarriage of widows, are strictly 
prohibited. Most of them employ Brahman purohits, 
but latterly they have taken to getting priests from their 
own caste. They attach no importance to the Sanskrit 
Vedas, or to the ritual sanctioned therein, but revere the 
sacred hymns of the twelve Vaishnava saints or Alvars, 
called Nalayira Prabandham (book of the four thousand 
songs), which is in Tamil. From this their purohits 
recite verses during marriages and other ceremonies." 
At the census, 1901, Raman uja was returned as a 
sub-caste of Satani. In the Manual of the North Arcot 
district, Mr. H. A. Stuart describes the Satanis as "a 
mixed religious sect, recruited from time to time from 
other castes, excepting Paraiyans, leather-workers, and 
Muhammadans. All the Satanis are Vaishnavites, but 
principally revere Bashyakar (another name for Rama- 
nuja), whom they assert to have been an incarnation 
of Vishnu. The Satanis are almost entirely confined to 
the large towns. Their legitimate occupations are 
performing menial services in Vishnu temples, begging, 
tending flower gardens, selling flower garlands, making 
fans, grinding sandalwood into powder, and selling 
perfumes. They are the priests of some Sudra castes, 
and in this character correspond to the Saivite 

In the Census Report, 187 1, the Satanis are described 
as being ** frequently religious mendicants, priests of 
inferior temples, minstrels, sellers of flowers used as 
offerings, etc., and have probably recruited their numbers 


by the admission into their ranks of individuals who 
have been excommunicated from higher castes. As a 
matter of fact, many prostitutes join this sect, which 
has a recognised position among the Hindus. This 
can easily be done by the payment of certain fees, and 
by eating in company with their co-religionists. And 
they thus secure for themselves decent burial with 
the ceremonial observances necessary to ensure rest to 
the soul." 

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, it is noted that 
Satanis are also styled Khadri Vaishnavas, Sattadaval, 
Chatali, Kulasekhara, and Sameraya. These names, 
however, seem to have pricked their amour propre in the 
late census, and they took considerable pains not only to 
cast them off, but also to enrol themselves as Prapanna 
Vaishnavas, Nambi, Venkatapura Vaishnavas, etc. The 
idea of being tabulated as Sudras was so hateful to them 
that, in a few places, the enumerators, who had so noted 
down their caste according to precedent, were prosecuted 
by them for defamation. The cases were of course thrown 
out. Further, the Mysore Census Superintendent, 
1901, writes that "the sub-divisions of the Satanis are 
Khadri Vaishnavas, Natacharamurti, Prathama Vaish- 
nava, Sameraya or Samogi, Sankara, Suri, Sattadhava, 
Telugu Satani, and Venkatapurada. Some are employed 
m agriculture, but as a rule they are engaged in the 
service of Vishnu temples, and are flower-gatherers, 
torch-bearers, and strolling minstrels." 

The Satanis are also called Dasa Nambis. They are 
flesh-eaters, but some have now become pure vegetarians. 
There are, for example, at Srivilliputtur in the Tinnevelly 
district, a large number who have abandoned a meat 
dietary. They are connected with the temple of Andal, 
and supply flowers and tulsi [Ocimum sanctzim) leaves 


for worship, carry torches before the goddess during 
processions, and watch the gate of the temple during the 
night. The small income which they derive from the 
temple is supplemented by the manufacture and sale of 
palmyra leaf baskets, and umbrellas made from Pandanus 
leaves. As a class, the Satanis are given to liquor, and 
all important ceremonial occasions are made the excuse 
for copious potations. This weakness is so well known 
that, in the north of the Presidency, the term Ramanuja 
Matham is used to denote the consumption of meat and 
drink at death or sradh ceremonies, just as Saivam 
signifies vegetarianism. The Satani mendicant can be 
recognised by the peculiar flat gourd-shaped brass pot 
and palm leaf fan which he carries. The Satanis claim 
to have sprung from the sweat of Virat Purusha (lord 
of the universe). The following legend is told, as 
accounting for the removal of the kudumi (tuft of hair 
on the head), and wearing the cloth without a fold 
behind. In the time of Ramanuja, the Satanis enjoyed 
certain privileges in the temples, but, not satisfied with 
these, they claimed to take rank next to Brahmans. 
This privilege was accorded, and, when flowers and 
other things used in the worship of the god were to 
be distributed, they were handed over to the Satanis. 
They, however, were unable to decide who should 
be deputed to represent the community, each person 
decrying the others as being of low caste. Ramanuja 
accordingly directed that they should shave their heads, 
and wear their loin-cloths with a fold in front only. 

In addition to other occupations already noted, 
Satanis sell turmeric, coloured powders, and sacred balls 
of white clay used by Vaishnavites. Some act as priests 
to Balijas and Komatis, at whose death ceremonies the 
presence of a Satani is essential. Immediately after 


death, the Satani is summoned, and he puts sect marks 
on the corpse. At the grave, cooked food is offered, 
and eaten by the Satani and members of the family of 
the deceased. On the last day of the death ceremonies 
(karmandiram), the Satani comes to the house of the 
dead person late in the evening, bringing with him 
certain idols, which are worshipped with offerings of 
cooked rice, flesh, and liquor in jars. The food is 
distributed among those present, and the liquor is 
doled out from a spoon called parikam, or a broom 
dipped in the liquor, which is drunk as it drips 

Satani women dress just like Vaishnava Brahman 
women, from whom it is difficult to distinguish them. 
In former days, the Satanis used to observe a festival 
called ravikala (bodice) utchavam, which now goes by 
the name of gandapodi (sandal powder) utchavam. The 
festival, as originally carried out, was a very obscene 
rite. After the worship of the god by throwing sandal 
powder, etc., the Satanis returned home, and indulged 
in copious libations of liquor. The women threw their 
bodices into vessel, and they were picked out at random 
by the men. The woman whose bodice was thus 
secured became the partner of the man for the day. 

For the following note on Satanis in the Vizagapatam 
district) I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 
Satani is said to be the shortened form of Saththadavan, 
the uncovered man. They are prohibited from covering 
three different parts of their bodies, viz., the head with 
the usual tuft of hair, the body with the sacred thread, 
and the waist with the customary strip of cloth. All 
devout Satanis shave their heads completely. [There is 
a proverb "Tie a knot on the Satani's tuft of hair, and 
on the^ ascetic's holy thread." The Satanis shave the 


whole head, and the Sanyasis have no sacred thread.]* 
The caste is divided into exogamous septs, or intiperulu. 
The custom of menarikam, according to which a man 
marries his maternal uncle's daughter, is observed. The 
remarriage of widows and divorce are not allowed. 
Attempts have been made by some members of the caste, 
in other parts of the Madras Presidency, to connect 
themselves with Chaitanya. But, so far as the Vizaga- 
patam district is concerned, this is repudiated. They 
are Ramanuja Vaishnavas of the Tenkalai persuasion. 
Their gurus are known as Paravasthuvaru — a corrup- 
tion of Paravasu Deva, whose figure is on the vimana of 
the Srirangam temple, and who must be visited before 
entering the principal sanctuary. They live at Gumsur in 
Ganjam, and have Sadacharulu, or ever-devout followers, 
who act as their agents in Vizagapatam. They brand 
the shoulders of Satanis with the Vaishnavite emblems, 
the sankha and chakra, and initiate them into the 
mysteries of the Vaishnava religion by whispering into 
their ears the word Ramanuja. The Satani learns by 
heart various songs in eulogy of Srirangam and its deity, 
by means of which he earns his living. He rises in 
the early morning, and, after a bath, adorns his forehead 
and body with the Vaishnavite namam, ties round his 
clean-shaved head a string oftulsi {Ocimum sanctum) 
beads known as thirupavithram, puts a tulsi garland 
round his neck, and takes a fan called gajakarnam, or 
elephant's ear, in his right hand. In his left hand he 
carries a copper gourd-shaped vessel. He is generally 
accompanied by another Satani similarly got up. When 
begging, they sing the songs referred to above, and 
collect the rice which is given to them in their vessels. 

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

SATHU 304 

At the end of their round they return home, and their 
wives clean the rice, bow down before it, and cook it. 
No portion of the rice obtained by begging should be 
sold for money. The Satanis play an important part in 
the social life of the Vaishnavites of the district, and are 
the gurus of some of the cultivating and other classes. 
They preside at the final death ceremonies of the non- 
Brahman Vaishnavite castes. They burn their dead, 
and perform the chinna (little) and pedda rozu (big day) 
death ceremonies. 

Sathu. — A synonym, meaning a company of mer- 
chants or travellers, of Perike and Janappan. 

Saurashtra. — A synonym of the Patnulkarans, 
derived from the Saurashtra country, whence they came 
southward. They also style themselves Saurashtra 

Savalaikkaran.— A Tamil name for fishermen, who 
fish in the sea. Savalai or saval thadi is the flattened 
paddle used for rowing boats. The Savalaikkarans are 
more akin to the Pallis or Vanniyans than to the Sem- 
badavans. Though a large number are agriculturists, 
some play on the nagasaram (reed instrument). In the 
Tinnevelly district, where Melakkarans are scarce, the 
temple musicians are either Savalaikkarans or Panisa- 
vans. The agricultural Savalaikkarans use the title 
Padayachi, and the musicians the title Annavi. Their 
marriages last three days, and the milk-post is made of 
teak-wood. Widow remarriage is prohibited. The dead 
are always buried. Socially they are on a par with the 
Maravans, with whom they interdine. 

Savali.^A synonym of Budubudike. 

Savantiya.— A synonym of Samantiya. 

Savara.— The Savaras, Sawaras, or Saoras, are an 
important hill-tribe in Ganjam and Vizagapatam. The 


name is derived by General Cunningham from the 
Scythian sagar, an axe, in reference to the axe which 
they carry in their hands. In Sanskrit, sabara or savara 
means a mountaineer, barbarian, or savage. The tribe 
has been identified by various authorities with the Suari of 
Pliny and Sabarai of Ptolemy. "Towards the Ganges," 
the latter writes, " are the Sabarai, in whose country the 
diamond is found in great abundance." This diamond- 
producing country is located by Cunningham near Sam- 
balpur in the Central Provinces. In one of his grants, 
Nandivarma Pallavamalla, a Pallava king, claims to 
have released the hostile king of the Sabaras, Udayana 
by name, and captured his mirror-banner made of pea- 
cock's feathers. The Rev. T. Foulkes * identifies the 
Sabaras of this copper-plate grant with the Savaras of the 
eastern ghats. But Dr. E. Hultzsch, who has re-edited 
the grant, t is of opinion that these Sabaras cannot be 
identified with the Savaras. The Aitareya Brahmana of 
the Rig-veda makes the Savaras the descendants of the 
sons of Visvamitra, who were cursed to become impure 
by their father for an act of disobedience, while the 
Ramayana describes them as having emanated from the 
body of Vasishta's cow to fight against the sage Visvamitra. 
The language of the Savaras is included by Mr. 
G. A. GriersonJ in the Munda family. It has, he writes, 
** been largely influenced by Telugu, and is no longer 
an unmixed form of speech. It is most closely related 
to Kharia and Juang, but in some characteristics differs 
from them, and agrees with the various dialects of the 
language which has in this (linguistic) survey been 
described under the denomination of Kherwari." 

• Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. 

t South Indian Inscriptions, II, Part iii, 1895, 
X Linguistic Survey of India, IV, 1906. 


The Savaras are described by Mr, F. Fawcett* as 
being much more industrious than the Khonds, 
** Many a time," he writes, " have I tried to find a place 
for an extra paddy (rice) field might be made, but never 
with success. It is not too much to say that paddy is 
grown on every available foot of arable ground, all the 
hill streams being utilized for this purpose. From almost 
the very tops of the hills, in fact from wherever the 
springs are, there are paddy fields ; at the top of every 
small area a few square yards, the front perpendicular 
revetment [of large masses of stones] sometimes as large 
in area as the area of the field ; and larger and larger, 
down the hillside, taking every advantage of every 
available foot of ground there are fields below fields to 
the bottoms of the valleys. The Saoras show remark- 
able engineering skill in constructing their paddy fields, 
and I wish I could do it justice. They seem to construct 
them in the most impossible places, and certainly at the 
expense of great labour. Yet, with all their superior 
activity and industry, the Saoras are decidedly physi- 
cally inferior to the Khonds. It seems hard the Saoras 
should not be allowed to reap the benefit of their 
industry, but must givehalf of it to the parasitic Bissoyis 
and their retainers. The greater part of the Saoras' 
hills have been denuded of forest owing to the persistent 
hacking down of trees for the purpose of growing dry 
crops, so much so that, in places, the hills look almost 
bare in the dry weather. Nearly all the jungle (mostly 
sal, Shorea robustd) is cut down every few years. When 
the Saoras want to work a piece of new ground, where 
the jungle has been allowed to grow for a few years, 
the trees are cut down, and, when dry, burned, and the 

Journ. Anthrop. Soc, Bombay, i, 1901. 


ground is grubbed up by the women with a kind of hoe. 
The hoe is used on the steep hill sides, where the 
ground is very stony and rocky, and the stumps of the 
felled trees are numerous, and the plough cannot be 
used. In the paddy fields, or on any flat ground, they 
use ploughs of lighter and simpler make than those used 
in the plains. They use cattle for ploughing." It is 
noted by Mr. G. V. Ramamurti Pantulu, in an article 
on the Savaras, that "in some cases the Bissoyi, who 
was originally a feudatory chief under the authority 
of the zemindar, and in other cases the zemindar claims 
a fixed rent in kind or cash, or both. Subject to the 
rents payable to the Bissoyis, the Savaras under them 
are said to exercise their right to sell or mortgage their 
lands. Below the ghats, in the plains, the Savara has 
lost his right, and the mustajars or the renters to whom 
the Savara villages are farmed out take half of whatever 
crops are raised by the Savaras." Mr. Ramamurti 
states further that a new-comer should obtain the 
permission of the Gomongo (headman) and the Boya 
before he can reclaim any jungle land, and that, at the 
time of sale or mortgage, the village elders should be 
present, and partake of the flesh of the pig sacrificed on 
the occasion. In some places, the Savaras are said to 
be entirely in the power of Paidi settlers from the plains, 
who seize their entire produce on the plea of debts con- 
tracted at a usurious rate of interests. In recent years, 
some Savaras emigrated to Assam to work in the tea- 
gardens. But emigration has now stopped by edict. 

The sub-divisions among the Savaras, which, so far 
as I can gather, are recognised, are as follows : — 

A. — Hill Savaras. 
(i) Savara, Jati Savara (Savaras par excellence), 
or Maliah Savara. They regard themselves as superior 

VI— 20 B 


to the other divisions. They will eat the flesh of the 
buffalo, but not of the cow. 

(2) Arsi, Arisi, or Lombo Lanjiya. Arsi means 
monkey, and Lombo Lanjiya, indicating long-tailed, is 
the name by which members of this section are called, 
in reference to the long piece of cloth, which the males 
allow to hang down. The occupation is said to be 
weaving the coarse cloths worn by members of the tribe, 
as well as agriculture. 

(3) Luara or Muli. Workers in iron, who make 
arrow heads, and other articles. 

(4) Kindal. Basket-makers, who manufacture 
rough baskets for holding grain. 

(5) Jadn. Said to be a name among the Savaras 
for the hill country beyond Kollakota and Puttasingi. 

(6) Kumbi. Potters who make earthen pots. 
"These pots," Mr. Fawcett writes, "are made in a few 
villages in the Saora hills. Earthen vessels are used 
for cooking, or for hanging up in houses as fetishes of 
ancestral spirits or certain deities." 

B. — Savaras of the low country. 

(7) Kapu (denoting cultivator), or Pallapu. 

(8) Suddho (good). 

It has been noted that the pure Savara tribes have 
restricted themselves to the tracts of hill and jungle- 
covered valleys. But, as the plains are approached, 
traces of amalgamation become apparent, resulting in 
a hybrid race, whose appearance and manners differ but 
little from those of the ordinary denizens of the low 
country. The Kapu Savaras are said to retain many of 
the Savara customs, whereas the Suddho Savaras have 
adopted the language and customs of the Oriya castes. 
The Kapu section is sometimes called Kudunga or 
Baseng, and the latter name is said by Mr. Ramamurti 


to be derived from the Savara word basi, salt. It is, he 
states, applied to the plains below the ghats, as, in the 
fairs held there, salt is purchased by the Savaras of the 
hills, and the name is used to designate the Savaras 
living there. A class name Kampu is referred to by 
Mr. Ramamurti, who says that the name " implies that 
the Savaras of this class have adopted the customs 
of the Hindu Kampus (Oriya for Kapu). Kudumba is 
another name by which they are known, but it is reported 
that there is a sub-division of them called by this name." 
He further refers to Bobbili and Bhima as the names of 
distinct sub-divisions. Bobbili is a town in the Vizaga- 
patam district, and Bhima was the second of the five 
Pandava brothers. 

In an account of the Maliya Savarulu, published 
in the ' Catalogue Raisonn6 of Oriental Manuscripts,' * 
it is recorded that " they build houses over mountain 
torrents, previously throwing trees across the chasms ; 
and these houses are in the midst of forests of fifty 
or more miles in extent. The reason of choosing such 
situations is stated to be in order that they may more 
readily escape by passing underneath their houses, and 
through the defile, in the event of any disagreement 
and hostile attack in reference to other rulers or neigh- 
bours. They cultivate independently, and pay tax or 
tribute to no one. If the zemindar of the neighbour- 
hood troubles them for tribute, they go in a body to his 
house by night, set it on fire, plunder, and kill ; and 
then retreat, with their entire households, into the wilds 
and fastnesses. They do in like manner with any of 
the zemindar's subordinates, if troublesome to them. If 
they are courted, and a compact is made with them, 

• The Rev. W. Taylor, Vol. Ill, 1862. 


they will then abstain from any wrong or disturbance. 
If the zemindar, unable to bear with them, raise troops 
and proceed to destroy their houses, they escape under- 
neath by a private way, as above mentioned. The 
invaders usually burn the houses, and retire. If the 
zemindar forego his demands, and make an agreement 
with them, they rebuild their houses in the same 
situations, and then render assistance to him." 

The modern Savara settlement is described by Mr. 
Fawcett as having two rows of huts parallel and facing 
each other. "Huts," he writes, "are generally built 
of upright pieces of wood stuck in the ground, 6 or 
8 inches apart, and the intervals filled in with stones 
and mud laid alternately, and the whole plastered over 
with red mud. Huts are invariably built a few feet 
above the level of the ground, often, when the ground is 
very uneven, 5 feet above the ground in front. Roofs 
are always thatched with grass. There is usually but 
one door, near one end wall ; no windows or ventilators, 
every chink being filled up. In front of the doorway 
there is room for six or eight people to stand, and there 
is a loft, made by cross-beams, about 5 feet from the 
floor, on which grain is stored in baskets, and under 
which the inmates crawl to do their cooking. Bits of 
sun-dried buffalo meat and bones, not smelling over- 
sweet, are suspended from the rafters, or here and there 
stuck in between the rafters and the thatch ; knives, 
a tangi (battle-axe), a sword, and bows and arrows may 
also be seen stuck in somewhere under the thatch. 
Agricultural implements may be seen, too, small ones 
stuck under the roof or on the loft, and larger ones 
against the wall. As in Ireland, the pig is of sufficient 
importance to have a room in the house. There is 
generally merely a low wall between the pig's room and 


the rest of the house, and a separate door, so that It may- 
go in and out without going through that part of the 
house occupied by the family. Rude drawings are 
very common in Saora houses. They are invariably, if 
not always, in some way that I could never clearly appre- 
hend, connected with one of the fetishes in the house." 
" When," Mr. Ramamurti writes, " a tiger enters a 
cottage and carries away an inmate, the villages are 
deserted, and sacrifices are offered to some spirits by 
all the inhabitants. The prevalence of small-pox in 
a village requires its abandonment. A succession of 
calamities leads to the same result. If a Savara has 
a number of wives, each of them sometimes requires 
a separate house, and the house sites are frequently 
shifted according to the caprice of the women. The 
death or disease of cattle is occasionally followed by the 
desertion of the house." 

When selecting a site for a new dwelling hut, the 
Maliah Savaras place on the proposed site as many 
grains of rice in pairs as there are married members in 
the family, and cover them over with a cocoanut shell. 
They are examined on the following day, and, if they 
are all there, the site is considered auspicious. Among 
the Kapu Savaras, the grains of rice are folded up in 
leaflets of the bael tree {y^gle Marmelos), and placed in 
split bamboo. 

It is recorded by Mr. Fawcett, in connection with 
the use of the duodecimal system by the Savaras that, 
" on asking a Gomango how he reckoned when selling 
produce to the Panos, he began to count on his fingers. 
In order to count 20, he began on the left foot (he was 
squatting), and counted 5 ; then with the left hand 5 more; 
then with the two first fingers of the right hand he made 
2 more, i.e., 12 altogether; then with the thumb of the 

SAVARA 3 1 2 

right hand and the other two fingers of the same, and the 
toes of the right foot he made 8 more. And so it was 
always. They have names for numerals up to 12 only, 
and to count 20 always count first twelve and then eight 
in the manner described, except that they may begin on 
either hand or foot. To count 50 or 60, they count by 
twenties, and put down a stone or some mark for each 
twenty. There is a Saora story accounting for their 
numerals being limited to 12. One day, long ago, some 
Saoras were measuring grain in a field, and, when they 
had measured 1 2 measures of some kind, a tiger pounced 
in on them and devoured them. So, ever after, they dare 
not have a numeral above 12, for fear of a tiger repeating 
the performance." 

The Savaras are described by Mr. Fawcett as " below 
the middle height ; face rather flat ; lips thick ; nose 
broad and flat ; cheek bones high ; eyes slightly oblique. 
They are as fair as the Uriyas, and fairer than the Telu- 
gus of the plains. Not only is the Saora shorter and 
fairer than other hill people, but his face is distinctly 
Mongolian, the obliquity of the eyes being sometimes very 
marked, and the inner corners of the eyes are generally 
very oblique. [The Mongolian type is clearly brought 
out in the illustration.] The Saora's endurance in going 
up and down hill, whether carrying heavy loads or not, 
is wonderful. Four Saoras have been known to carry a 
lo-stone man in a chair straight up a 3,800 feet hill 
without relief, and without rest. Usually, the Saora's 
dress (his full dress) consists of a large bunch of feathers 
(generally white) stuck in his hair on the crown of his 
head, a coloured cloth round his head as a turban, 
and worn much on the back of the head, and folded 
tightly, so as to be a good protection to the head. 
When feathers are not worn, the hair is tied on the top 



of the head, or a little at the side of it. A piece of flat 
brass is another head ornament. It is stuck in the hair, 
which is tied in a knot at the crown of the head, at 
an angle of about 40° from the perpendicular, and its 
waving up and down motion as a man walks has a 
curious effect. Another head ornament is a piece of 
wood, about 8 or 9 inches in length and f inch in 
diameter, with a flat button about 2 inches in diameter 
on the top, all covered with hair or coloured thread, 
and worn in the same position as the flat piece of 
brass. A peacock's feather, or one or two of the tail 
feathers of the jungle cock, may be often seen stuck in 
the knot of hair on the top of the head. A cheroot 
or two, perhaps half smoked, may often be seen stick- 
ing in the hair of a man or woman, to be used again 
when wanted. They also smoke pipes, and the old 
women seem particularly fond of them. Round the 
Saora's neck are brass and bead necklaces. A man will 
wear as many as thirty necklaces at a time, or rather 
necklaces of various lengths passed as many as thirty 
times round his neck. Round the Saora's waist, and 
under his fork, is tied a cloth with coloured ends hanging 
in front and behind. When a cloth on the body is worn, 
it is usually worn crossed in front. The women wear 
necklaces like the men. Their hair is tied at the back 
of the head, and is sometimes confined with a fillet. 
They wear only one cloth, tied round the waist. During 
feasts, or when dancing, they generally wear a cloth over 
the shoulders. Every male wears a small ring, generally 
of silver, in the right nostril, and every female wears a 
similar ring in each nostril, and in the septum. As I 
have been told, these rings are put in the nose on the 
eighth or tenth day after birth. Bangles are often worn 
by men and women. Anklets, too, are sometimes worn 


by the women. Brass necklets and many other orna- 
ments are made in Saora hills by the Gangsis, a low 
tribe of workers in brass. The Saora's weapons are the 
bow, sometimes ornamented with peacock's feathers, 
sword, dagger, and tangi. The bow used by the Saoras 
is much smaller than the bow used by any of the other 
hill people. It is generally about 3J feet long, and the 
arrows from 18 to 21 inches. The bow is always made 
of bamboo, and so is the string. The arrows are reeds 
tipped with iron, and leathered on two sides only. A 
blunt-headed arrow is used for shooting birds. Every 
Saora can use the bow from boyhood, and can shoot 
straight up to 25 or 30 yards." 

As regards the marriage customs of the Savaras, 
Mr. Fawcett writes that "a Saora may marry a woman 
of his own or of any other village. A man may have as 
many as three wives, or, if he is a man of importance, 
such as Gomango of a large village, he may have four. 
Not that there is any law in the matter, but it is consi- 
dered that three, or at most four, are as many as a man 
can manage. For his first marriage, a man chooses 
a young woman he fancies ; his other wives are perhaps 
her sisters, or other women who have come to him. 
A woman may leave her husband whenever she pleases. 
Her husband cannot prevent her. When a woman 
leaves her husband to join herself to another, the other 
pays the husband she has left a buffalo and a pig. 
Formerly, it is said, if he did not pay up, the man she 
left would kill the man to whom she went. Now arbi- 
tration comes into play. I believe a man usually takes 
a second wife after his first has had a child ; if he did so 
before, the first wife would say he was impotent. As 
the eettinsf of the first wife is more troublesome and 
expensive than getting the others, she is treated the 



best. In some places, all a man's wives are said to live 
together peaceably. It is not the custom in the Kolakotta 
villages. Knowing the wives would fight if together, 
domestic felicity is maintained by keeping up different 
establishments. A man's wives will visit one another 
in the daytime, but one wife will never spend the night 
in the house of another. An exception to this is that 
the first wife may invite one of the other wives to sleep 
in her house with the husband. As each wife has her 
separate house, so has she her separate piece of ground 
on the hill-side to cultivate. The wives will not co- 
operate in working each other's cultivation, but they will 
work together, with the husband, in the paddy fields. 
Each wife keeps the produce of the ground she cultivates 
in her own house. Produce of the paddy fields is divided 
into equal shares among the wives. If a wife will not 
work properly, or if she gives away anything belonging 
to her husband, she may be divorced. Any man may 
marry a divorced woman, but she must pay to her former 
husband a buffalo and a pig. If a man catches his wife 
in adultery (he must see her in the act), he thinks he has 
a right to kill her, and her lover too. But this is now 
generally (but not always) settled by arbitration, and the 
lover pays up. A wife caught in adultery will never be 
retained as a wife. As any man may have as many as 
three wives, illicit attachments are common. During 
large feasts, when the Saoras give themselves up to 
sensuality, there is no doubt a great deal of promiscuous 
intercourse. A widow is considered bound to marry 
her husband's brother, or his brother's sons if he has 
no younger brothers. A number of Saoras once came 
to me to settle a dispute. They were in their full dress, 
with feathers and weapons. The dispute was this. A 
young woman's husband was dead, and his younger 

S AVAR A 316 

brother was almost of an age to take her to wife. She 
had fixed her affections on a man of another village, and 
made up her mind to have him and no one else. Her 
village people wanted compensation in the shape of a 
buffalo, and also wanted her ornaments. The men of 
the other village said no, they could not give a buffalo. 
Well, they should give a pig at least — no, they had no 
pig. Then they must give some equivalent. They 
would give one rupee. That was not enough — at least 
three rupees. They were trying to carry the young 
woman off by force to make her marry her brother-in- 
law, but were induced to accept the rupee, and have the 
matter settled by their respective Bissoyis. The young 
woman was most obstinate, and insisted on having her 
own choice, and keeping her ornaments. Her village 
people had no objection to her choice, provided the usual 
compensation was paid. 

** In one far out-of-the-way village the marriage 
ceremony consists in this. The bride's father is plied 
with liquor two or three times ; a feast is made in the 
bridegroom's house, to which the bride comes with her 
father ; and after the feast she remains in the man's 
house as his wife. They know nothing of capture. In 
the Kolakotta valley, below this village, a different 
custom prevails. The following is an account of a Saora 
marriage as given by the Gomango of one of the Kola- 
kotta villages, and it may be taken as representative of 
the purest Saora marriage ceremony. * I wished to 
marry a certain girl, and, with my brother and his son, 
went to her house. I carried a pot of liquor, and 
arrow, and one brass bangle for the girl's mother. 
Arrived at the house, I put the liquor and the arrow 
on the floor. I and the two with me drartk the liquor — 
no one else had any. The father of the girl said 


* Why have you brought the liquor ? ' I said ' Because 
I want your daughter.' He said ' Bring a big pot of 
liquor, and we will talk about it. ' I took the arrow 
I brought with mc, and stuck it in the thatch of the roof 
just above the wall, took up the empty pot, and went 
home with those who came with me. Four days 
afterwards, with the same two and three others of my 
village, I went to the girl's father's house with a big 
pot of liquor. About fifteen or twenty people of the 
village were present. The father said he would not give 
the girl, and, saying so, he smashed the pot of liquor, 
and, with those of his village, beat us so that we ran 
back to our village. I was glad of the beating, as I 
know by it I was pretty sure of success. About ten days 
afterwards, ten or twenty of my village people went with 
me again, carrying five pots of liquor, which we put in 
the girl's father's house. I carried an arrow, which I 
stuck in the thatch beside the first one. The father and 
the girl's nearest male relative each took one of the 
arrows I had put in the thatch, and, holding them in 
their left hands, drank some of the liquor. I now felt 
sure of success. I then put two more arrows in the 
father's left hand, holding them in his hand with both of 
my hands over his, and asked him to drink. Two fresh 
arrows were likewise placed in the left hands of all the 
girl's male relatives, while I asked them to drink. To 
each female relative of the girl I gave a brass bangle, 
which I put on their right wrists while I asked them to 
drink. The five pots of liquor were drunk by the girl's 
male and female relations, and the villagers. When the 
liquor was all drunk, the girl's father said ' Come again 
in a month, and bring more liquor.' In a month I went 
again, with all the people of my village, men, women and 
children, dancing as we went (to music of course), taking 


with us thirty pots of liquor, and a little rice and a cloth 
for the girl's mother ; also some hill dholl (pulse), which 
we put in the father's house. The liquor was set down 
in the middle of the village, and the villagers, and those 
who came with me, drank the liquor and danced. The 
girl did not join in this ; she was in the house. When the 
liquor was finished, my village people went home, but I 
remained In the father's house. For three days I stayed, 
and helped him to work in his fields. I did not sleep 
with the girl ; the father and I slept in one part of the 
house, and the girl and her mother in another. At the 
end of the three days I went home. About ten days 
afterwards, I, with about ten men of my village, went to 
watch for the girl going to the stream for water. When 
we saw her, we caught her, and ran away with her. She 
cried out and the people of her village came after us, 
and fought with us. We got her off to my village, and 
she remained with me as my wife. After she became my 
wife, her mother gave her a cloth and a bangle. The same 
individual said that, if a man wants a girl, and cannot 
afford to give the liquor, etc., to her people, he takes her 
off by force. If she likes him, she remains, but, if not, 
she runs home. He will carry her off three times, but 
not oftener ; and, if after the third time she again runs 
away, he leaves her. The Saoras themselves say that for- 
merly every one took his wife by force." In a case which 
occurred a few years ago, a bridegroom did not comply 
with the usual custom of giving a feast to the bride's 
people, and the bride's mother objected to the marriage on 
that account. The bridegroom's party, however, man- 
aged to carry off the bride. Her mother raised an alarm, 
whereon a number of people ran up, and tried to stop the 
bridegroom's party. They were outnumbered, and one 
was knocked down, and died from rupture of the spleen. 


A further account of the Saora marriage customs is 
given by Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu, who writes as follows. 
" When the parents of a young man consider it time to 
seek a bride for him, they make enquiries and even 
consult their relatives and friends as to a suitable girl 
for him. The girl's parents are informally apprised of 
their selection. On a certain day, the male relatives of 
the youth go to the girl's house to make a proposal of 
marriage. Her parents, having received previous notice 
of the visit, have the door of the house open or closed, 
according as they approve or disapprove of the match. 
On arrival at the house, the visitors knock at the door, 
and, if it is open, enter without further ceremony. 
Sometimes the door is broken open. If the girl's parents 
object to the match, they remain silent, and will not 
touch the liquor brought by the visitors, and they go 
away. Should, however, they regard it with favour, they 
charge the visitors with intruding, shower abuse on them, 
and beat them, it may be, so severely that wounds are 
inflicted, and blood is shed. This ill-treatment is borne 
cheerfully, and without resistance, as it is a sign that the 
girl's hand will be bestowed on the young man. The 
liquor is then placed on the floor, and, after more abuse, 
all present partake thereof. If the girl's parents refuse 
to give her in marriage after the performance of this 
ceremony, they have to pay a penalty to the parents of 
the disappointed suitor. Two or three days later, the 
young man's relatives go a second time to the girl's 
house, taking with them three pots of liquor, and a 
bundle composed of as many arrows as there are male 
members in the girl's family. The liquor is drunk, and 
the arrows are presented, one to each male. After an 
interval of some days, a third visit is paid, and three 
pots of liquor smeared with turmeric paste, and a quantity 

S A VARA 320 

of turmeric, are taken to the house. The liquor is 
drunk, and the turmeric paste is smeared over the back 
and haunches of the girl's relatives. Some time after- 
wards, the marriage ceremony takes place. The 
bridegroom's party proceed to the house of the bride, 
dancing and singing to the accompaniment of all the 
musical instruments except the drum, which is only 
played at funerals. With them they take twenty big 
pots of liquor, a pair of brass bangles and a cloth for the 
bride's mother, and head cloths for the father, brothers, 
and other male relatives. When everything is ready, 
the priest is called in. One of the twenty pots is deco- 
rated, and an arrow is fixed in the ground at its side. 
The priest then repeats prayers to the invisible spirits 
and ancestors, and pours some of the liquor into leaf- 
cups prepared in the names of the ancestors [Jojonji and 
Yoyonji, male and female], and the chiefs of the village. 
This liquor is considered very sacred, and is sprinkled 
from a leaf over the shoulders and feet of the elders 
present. The father cf the bride, addressing the priest, 
says * B5ya, I have drunk the liquor brought by the 
bridegroom's father, and thereby have accepted his 
proposal for a marriage between his son and my daughter. 
I do not know whether the girl will afterwards agree to 
go to her husband, or not. Therefore it is well that you 
should ask her openly to speak out her mind.' The 
priest accordingly asks the girl if she has any objection, 
and she replies ' My father and mother, and all my 
relatives have drunk the bridegroom's liquor. I am a 
Savara, and he is a Savara. Why then should I not 
marry him } ' Then all the people assembled proclaim 
that the pair are husband and wife. This done, the 
big pot of liquor, which has been set apart from the 
rest, is taken into the bride's house. This pot, with 



another pot of liquor purchased at the expense of the 
bride's father, is given to the bridegroom's party when 
it retires. Every house-holder receives the bridegroom 
and his party at his house, and offers them liquor, rice, 
and flesh, which they cannot refuse to partake of 
without giving offence." 

"Whoever," Mr. Ramamurti continues, " marries a 
widow, whether it is her husband's younger brother or 
some one of her own choice, must perform a religious 
ceremony, during which a pig is sacrificed. The flesh, 
with some liquor, is offered to the ghost of the widow's 
deceased husband, and prayers are addressed by the 
Boyas to propitiate the ghost, so that it may not torment 
the woman and her second husband. * Oh ! man,' says 
the priest, addressing the deceased by name, ' Here is an 
animal sacrificed to you, and with this all connection 
between this woman and you ceases. She has taken 
with her no property belonging to you or your children. 
So do not torment her within the house or outside the 
house, in the jungle or on the hill, when she is asleep or 
when she wakes. Do not send sickness on her children. 
Her second husband has done no harm to you. She 
chose him for her husband, and he consented. Oh! man, 
be appeased ; Oh ! unseen ones ; Oh ! ancestors, be you 
witnesses.' The animal sacrificed on this occasion is 
called long danda (inside fine), or fine paid to the spirit 
of a dead person inside the earth. The animal offered 
up, when a man marries a divorced woman, is called 
bayar danda (outside fine), or fine paid as compensation 
to a man living outside the earth. The moment that 
a divorcee marries another man, her former husband 
pounces upon him, shoots his buffalo or pig dead with 
an arrow, and takes it to his village, where its flesh is 
served up at a feast. The Boya invokes the unseen 



spirits, that they may not be angry with the man who 
has married the woman, as he has paid the penalty 
prescribed by the elders according to the immemorial 
custom of the Savaras. 

From a still further account of the ceremonial obser- 
vances in connection with marriage, with variations, 
I gather that the liquor is the fermented juice of the 
Salop or sago palm ( Caryota zirens), and is called ara-sal. 
On arrival at the girl's house, on the first occasion, the 
young man's party sit at the door thereof, and, making 
three cups from the leaves kiredol {Uncaria Gambler) or 
jak {ArtocarpMS integrifolia), pour the liquor into them, 
and lay them on the ground. As the liquor is being 
poured into the cups, certain names, which seem to be 
those of the ancestors, are called out. The liquor is 
then drunk, and an arrow (am) is stuck in the roof, and 
a brass bangle (khadu) left, before the visitors take their 
departure. If the match is unacceptable to the girl's 
family, the arrow and bangle are returned. The second 
visit is called pank-sal, or sang-sang-dal-sol, because the 
liquor pots are smeared with turmeric paste. Some- 
times it is called nyanga-dal-sol, because the future 
bridegroom carries a small pot of liquor on a stick borne 
on the shoulder ; or pojang, because the arrow, which 
has been stuck in the roof, is set up in the ground close 
to one of the pots of liquor. In some places, several 
visits take place subsequent to the first visit, at one. of 
which, called rodai-sal, a quarrel arises. 

It is noted by Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu that, among 
the Savaras who have settled in the low country, some 
differences have arisen in the marriage rites ** owing 
to the introduction of Hindu custom, z.<?., those obtaining 
among the Sudra castes. Some of the Savaras who are 
more Hinduised than others consult their medicine men 

323 S AVAR A 

as to what day would be most auspicious for a marriage, 
erect pandals (booths), dispense with the use of liquor, 
substituting for it thick jaggery (crude sugar) water, and 
hold a festival for two or three days. But even the most 
Hindulsed Savara has not yet fallen directly into the hands 
of the Brahman priest." At the marriage ceremony of 
some Kapu Savaras, the bride and bridegroom sit side 
by side at the auspicious moment, and partake of boiled 
rice (korra) from green leaf-cups, the pair exchanging 
cups. Before the bridegroom and his party proceed to 
their village with the bride, they present the males and 
females of her village with a rupee, which is called janjul 
naglipu, or money paid for taking away the girl. In 
another form of Kapu Savara marriage, the would-be 
bridegroom and his party proceed, on an auspicious 
day, to the house of the selected girl, and offer betel 
and tobacco, the acceptance of which is a sign that the 
match is agreeable to her parents. On a subsequent day, 
a small sum of money is paid as the bride-price. On the 
wedding day the bride is conducted to the home of the 
bridegroom, where the contracting couple are lifted up 
by two people, who dance about with them. If the bride 
attempts to enter the house, she is caught hold of, and 
made to pay a small sum of money before she is permitted 
to do so. Inside the house, the officiating Desari ties the 
ends of the cloths of the bride and bridegroom together, 
after the ancestors and invisible spirits have been 

Of the marriage customs of the Kapu Savaras, the 
following account is given in the Gazetteer of the 
Vizagapatam district. " The Kapu Savaras are taking 
to menarikam (marriage with the maternal uncle's 
daughter), although the hill custom requires a man to 
marry outside his village. Their wedding ceremonies 

VI -3 I B 


bear a distant resemblance to those among the hill 
Savaras. Among the Kapu Savaras, the preliminary- 
arrow and liquor are similarly presented, but the bride- 
groom goes at length on an auspicious day with a large 
party to the bride's house, and the marriage is marked 
by his eating out of the same platter with her, and by 
much drinking, feasting, and dancing." 

Children are named after the day of the week on 
which they were born, and nicknames are frequently 
substituted for the birth name. Mr. Fawcett records, for 
example, that a man was called Gylo because, when a 
child, he was fond of breaking nuts called gylo, and 
smearing himself with their black juice. Another was 
called Dallo because, in his youthful days, he was fond 
of playing about with a basket (dalli) on his head. 

Concerning the death rites, Mr. Fawcett writes as 
follows. " As soon as a man, woman, or child dies in a 
house, a gun, loaded with powder only, is fired off at the 
door, or, if plenty of powder is available, several shots are 
fired, to frighten away the Kulba (spirit). The gun used 
is the ordinary Telugu or Uriya matchlock. Water is 
poured over the body while in the house. It is then car- 
ried away to the family burning-ground, which is situated 
from 30 to 80 yards from the cluster of houses occupied 
by the family, and there it is burned. [It is stated by 
Mr. S. P. Rice * that " the dead man's hands and feet 
are tied together, and a bamboo is passed through them. 
Two men then carry the corpse, slung in this fashion, to 
the burning-ground. When it is reached, two posts 
are stuck up, and the bamboo, with the corpse tied to it, 
is placed crosswise on the posts. Then below the corpse 
a fire is lighted. The Savara man is always burnt in 

• Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life, 190I. 


the portion of the ground — one cannot call it a field — 
which he last cultivated."] The only wood used for the 
pyre is that of the mango, and of Pongamia glabra. 
Fresh, green branches are cut and used. No dry wood 
is used, except a few twigs to light the fire. Were any 
one to ask those carrying a body to the burning-ground 
the name of the deceased or anything about him, they 
would be very angry. Guns are fired while the body is 
being carried. Everything a man has, his bows and 
arrows, his tangi, his dagger, his necklaces, his reaping- 
hook for cutting paddy, his axe, some paddy and rice, 
etc., are burnt with his body. I have been told in 
Kolakotta that all a man's money too is burned, but it is 
doubtful if it really ever is — a little may be. A Kola- 
kotta Gomango told me " If we do not burn these things 
with the body, the Kulba will come and ask us for them, 
and trouble us." The body is burned the day a man dies. 
The next day, the people of the family go to the burning- 
place with water, which they pour over the embers. 
The fragments of the bones are then picked out, and 
buried about two feet in the ground, and covered over 
with a miniature hut, or merely with some thatching grass 
kept on the place by a few logs of wood, or in the floor 
of a small hut (thatched roof without walls) kept specially 
for the Kulba at the burning-place. An empty egg-shell 
(domestic hen's) is broken under foot, and buried with 
the bones. It is not uncommon to send pieces of bone, 
after burning, to relations at a distance, to allow them 
also to perform the funeral rites. The first sacrificial 
feast, called the Limma, is usually made about three or 
four days after the body has been burnt. In some places, 
it is said to be made after a longer interval. For the 
Limma a fowl is killed at the burning-place, some rice 
or other grain is cooked, and, with the fowl, eaten by the 

S AVAR A 326 

people of the family, with the usual consumption of liquor. 
Of course, the Kudang (who is the medium of communi- 
cation between the spirits of the dead and the living) is 
on the spot, and communicates with the Kulba. If the 
deceased left debts, he, through the Kudang, tells how 
they should be settled. Perhaps the Kulba asks for 
tobacco and liquor, and these are given to the Kudang, 
who keeps the tobacco, and drinks the liquor. After the 
Limma, a miniature hut is built for the Kulba over the 
spot where the bones are buried. But this is not done 
in places like Kolakotta, where there is a special hut set 
apart for the Kulba. In some parts of the Saora country, 
a few logs with grass on the top of them, logs again on the 
top to keep the grass in its place, are laid over the buried 
fragments of bones, it is said to be for keeping rain off, 
or dogs from disturbing the bones. In the evening 
previous to the Limma, bitter food — the fruits or leaves 
of the margosa tree {Melia Azadirachta) — are eaten. 
They do not like this bitter food, and partake of it at no 
other time. [The same custom, called pithapona, or 
bitter food, obtains among the Oriya inhabitants of the 
plains.] After the Limma, the Kulba returns to the 
house of the deceased, but it is not supposed to remain 
there always. The second feast to the dead, also 
sacrificial, is called the Guar. For this, a buffalo, a large 
quantity of grain, and all the necessary elements and 
accompaniments of a feast are required. It is a much 
larger affair than the Limma, and all the relations, 
and perhaps the villagers, join in. The evening 
before the Guar, there is a small feast in the house 
for the purpose of calling together all the previously 
deceased members of the family, to be ready for the 
Guar on the following day. The great feature of the 
Guar is the erection of a stone in memory of the deceased. 


From 50 to 100 yards (sometimes a little more) from 
the houses occupied by a family may be seen clusters of 
stones standing upright in the ground, nearly always 
under a tree. Every one of the stones has been put up 
at one of these Guar feasts. There is a great deal of 
drinking and dancing. The men, armed with all their 
weapons, with their feathers in their hair, and adorned 
with coloured cloths, accompanied by the women, all 
dancing as they go, leave the house for the place where 
the stones are. Music always accompanies the dancing. 
At Kolakotta there is another thatched hut for the 
Kulba at the stones. The stone is put up in the 
deceased's name at about 11 a.m., and at about 2 p.m. a 
buffalo is killed close to it. The head is cut off with an 
axe, and blood is put on the stone. The stones one sees 
are generally from i|^ to 4 feet high. There is no 
connection between the size of the storve and the impor- 
tance of the deceased person. As much of the buffalo 
meat as is required for the feast is cooked, and eaten at 
the spot where the stones are. The uneaten remains 
are taken away by the relatives. In the evening the 
people return to the village, dancing as they go. The 
Kolakotta people told me they put up the stones under 
trees, so that they can have all their feasting in the 
shade. Relations exchange compliments by presenting 
one another with a buffalo for the Guar feast, and receive 
one in return on a future occasion. The Guar is 
supposed to give the Kulba considerable satisfaction, 
and it does not injure people as it did before. But, as 
the Guar does not quite satisfy the Kulba, there is the 
great biennial feast to the dead. Every second year (I 
am still speaking of Kolakotta) is performed the Karja 
or biennial feast to the dead, in February or March, 
after the crops are cut. All the Kolakotta Saoras join 

S AVAR A 32^ 

in this feast, and keep up drinking and dancing for 
twelve days. During these days, the Kudangs eat only 
after sunset. Guns are continually fired off, and the 
people give themselves up to sensuality. On the last 
day, there is a great slaughter of buffaloes. In front of 
every house in which there has been a death in the 
previous two years, at least one buffalo, and sometimes 
two or three, are killed. Last year (1886) there were 
said to be at least a thousand buffaloes killed in Kola- 
kotta on the occasion of the Karja. The buffaloes are 
killed in the afternoon. Some grain is cooked in the 
houses, and, with some liquor, is given to the Kudangs, 
who go through a performance of offering the food to the 
Kulbas, and a man's or a woman's cloth, according as the 
deceased is a male or female, is at this time given to the 
Kudang for the Kulba of each deceased person, and of 
course the Kudang keeps the offerings. The Kudang 
then tells the Kulba to begone, and trouble the inmates 
no more. The house people, too, sometimes say to the 
Kulba * We have now done quite enough for you : we 
have given you buffaloes, liquor, food, and cloths ; now 
you must go'. At about 8 p.m., the house is set fire to, 
and burnt. Every house, in which there has been a 
death within the last two years, is on this occasion 
burnt. After this, the Kulba gives no more trouble, 
and does not come to reside in the new hut that is built 
on the site of the burnt one. It never hurts grown 
people, but may cause some infantile diseases, and is 
easily driven away by a small sacrifice. In other parts 
of the Saora country, the funeral rites and ceremonies are 
somewhat different to what they are in Kolakotta. The 
burning of bodies, and burning of the fragments of the 
bones, is the same everywhere in the Saora country. In 
one village the Saoras said the bones were buried until 


another person died, when the first man's bones were 
dug up and thrown away, and the last person's bones put 
in their place. Perhaps they did not correctly convey 
what they meant. I once saw a gaily ornamented hut, 
evidently quite new, near a burning-place. Rude figures 
of birds and red rags were tied to five bamboos, which 
were sticking up in the air about 8 feet above the hut, one 
at each corner, and one in the centre, and the bamboos 
were split, and notched for ornament. The hut was 
about 4j feet square, on a platform three feet high. 
There were no walls, but only four pillars, one at each 
corner, and inside a loft just as in a Saora's hut. A very 
communicative Saora said he built the hut for his brother 
after he had performed the Limma, and had buried the 
bones in the raised platform in the centre of the hut. 
He readily went inside, and showed what he kept there 
for the use of his dead brother's Kulba. On the loft 
were baskets of grain, a bottle of oil for his body, a brush 
to sweep the hut ; in fact everything the Kulba wanted. 
Generally, where it is the custom to have a hut for the 
Kulba, such hut is furnished with food, tobacco, and 
liquor. The Kulba is still a Saora, though a spiritual 
one. In a village two miles from that in which I saw 
the gaily ornamented hut, no hut of any kind is built for 
the Kulba ; the bones are merely covered with grass. 
Weapons, ornaments, etc., are rarely burned with a body 
outside the Kolakotta villages. In some places, perhaps 
one weapon, or a few ornaments will be burned with it. 
In some places the Limma and Guar feasts are combined, 
and in other places (and this is most common) the Guar 
and Karja are combined, but there is no burning of 
houses. In some places this is performed if crops are 
good. One often sees, placed against the upright stones 
to the dead, pieces of ploughs for male Kulbas, and 


baskets for sifting grain for female Kulbas. I once came 

across some hundreds of Saoras performing the Guar 

Karja. Dancing, with music, fantastically dressed, and 

brandishing their weapons, they returned from putting 

up the stones to the village, and proceeded to hack 

to pieces with their axes the buffaloes that had been 

slaughtered — a disgusting sight. After dark, many of 

the feasters passed my camp on their way home, some 

carrying legs and other large pieces of the sacrificed 

buffaloes, others trying to dance in a drunken way, 

swinging their weapons. During my last visit to Kola- 

kotta, I witnessed a kind of combination of the Limma 

and Guar (an uncommon arrangement there) made 

owing to peculiar circumstances. A deceased Saora left 

no family, and his relatives thought it advisable to get 

through his Limma and Guar without delay, so as to run 

no risk of the non-performance of these feasts. He had 

been dead about a month. The Limma was performed 

one day, the feast calling together the deceased ancestors 

the same evening ; and the Guar on the following day. 

Part of the Limma was performed in a house. Three 

men, and a female Kudang sat in a row ; in front of 

them there was an inverted pot on the ground, and around 

it were small leaf cups containing portions of food. All 

chanted together, keeping excellent time. Some food 

in a little leaf cup was held near the earthen pot, and 

now and then, as they sang, passed round it. Some 

liquor was poured on the food in the leaf cup, and put 

on one side for the Kulba. The men drank liquor from 

the leaf cups which had been passed round the earthen 

pot. After some silence there was a long chant, to call 

together all spirits of ancestors who had died violent 

deaths, and request them to receive the spirit of the 

deceased among them ; and portions of food and liquor 

33 1 SAVARA 

were put aside for them. Then came another long 
chant, calling on the Kulbas of all ancestors to come, 
and receive the deceased and not to be angry with him." 

It is stated* that, in the east of Gunupur, the Savaras 
commit much cattle theft, partly, it is said, because 
custom enjoins big periodical sacrifices of cattle to their 
deceased ancestors. In connection with the Guar 
festival, Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu writes that well-to-do 
individuals offer each one or two animals, while, among 
the poorer members of the community, four or five 
subscribe small sums for the purchase of a buffalo, and 
a goat. " There are," he continues, " special portions 
of the sacrificed animals, which should, according to 
custom, be presented to those that carried the dead 
bodies to the grave, as well as to the Boya and Gomong. 
If a man is hanged, a string is suspended in the house on 
the occasion of the Guar, so that the spirit may descend 
along it. If a man dies of wounds caused by a knife or 
iron weapon, a piece of iron or an arrow is thrust into 
a rice-pot to represent the deceased." I gather further 
that, when a Savara dies after a protracted illness, a pot 
is suspended by a string from the roof of the house. On 
the ground is placed a pot, supported on three stones. 
The pots are smeared with turmeric paste, and contain 
a brass box, chillies, rice, onions, and salt. They are 
regarded as very sacred, and it is believed that the 
ancestors sometimes visit them. 

Concerning the religion of the Savaras, Mr. Fawcett 
notes that their name for deity is Sonnum or Sunnam, 
and describes the following : — 

(i) Jalia. In some places thought to be male, 
and in others female. The most widely known, very 

* Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district. 

S A VARA 332 

malevolent, always going about from one Saora village 
to another causing illness or death ; in some places said 
to eat people. Almost every illness that ends in death 
in three or four days is attributed to Jalia's malevolence. 
When mangoes ripen, and before they are eaten cooked 
(though they may be eaten raw), a sacrifice of goats, with 
the usual drinking and dancing, is made to this deity. 
In some villages, in the present year (1887), there 
were built for the first time, temples — square thatched 
places without walls — in the villages. The reason 
given for building in the villages was that Jalia had come 
into them. Usually erections are outside villages, and 
sacrifice is made there, in order that Jalia may be there 
appeased, and go away. But sometimes he will come to 
a village, and, if he does, it is advisable to make him 
comfortable. One of these newly built temples was 
about four feet square, thatched on the top, with no walls, 
just like the hut for departed spirits. A Saora went 
inside, and showed us the articles kept for Jalia's use and 
amusement. There were two new cloths in a bamboo 
box, two brushes of feathers to be held in the hand when 
dancing, oil for the body, a small looking-glass, a bell, 
and a lamp. On the posts were some red spots. Goats 
are killed close by the temple, and the blood is poured 
on the floor of the platform thereof. There are a few 
villages, in or near which there are no Jalia erections, 
the people saying that Jalia does not trouble them, or that 
they do not know him. In one village where there was 
none, the Saoras said there had been one, but they got 
tired of Jalia, and made a large sacrifice with numerous 
goats and fowls, burnt his temple, and drove him out. 
Jalia is fond of tobacco. Near one village is an upright 
stone in front of a little Jalia temple, by a path-side, for 
passers-by to leave the ends of their cheroots on for Jalia. 


(2) Kitung. In some parts there is a story that 
this deity produced all the Saoras in Orissa, and brought 
them with all the animals of the jungles to the Saora 
country. In some places, a stone outside the village 
represents this deity, and on it sacrifices are made on 
certain occasions to appease this deity. The stone is 
not worshipped. There are also groves sacred to this 
deity. The Uriyas in the Saora hills also have certain 
sacred groves, in which the axe is never used. 

(3) Rathu. Gives pains in the neck. 

(4) Dharma Boja, Lankan (above), Ayungang (the 
sun). The first name is, I think, of Uriya origin, and 
the last the real Saora name. There is an idea in the 
Kolakotta country that it causes all births. This deity 
is not altogether beneficent, and causes sickness, and 
may be driven away by sacrifices. In some villages, 
this deity is almost the only one known. A Saora once 
told me, on my pointing to Venus and asking what it 
was, that the stars are the children of the sun and moon, 
and one day the sun said he would eat them all up. 
Woman-like, the moon protested against the destruc- 
tion of her progeny, but was obliged to give in. She, 
however, managed to hide Venus while the others were 
being devoured. Venus was the only planet he knew. 
In some parts, the sun is not a deity. 

(5) Kanni. Very malevolent. Lives in big trees, 
so they are never cut in groves which this deity is 
supposed to haunt. I frequently saw a Saora youth of 
about 20, who was supposed to be possessed by this 
deity. He was an idiot, who had fits. Numerous 
buffaloes had been sacrificed to Kanni, to induce that 
deity to leave the youth, but to no purpose. 

*' There are many hill deities known in certain 
localities — Derema, supposed to be on the Deodangar 


hill, the highest in the neighbourhood, Khistu, Kinchin- 
yung, I Ida, Lobo, Kondho, Balu, Baradong, etc. These 
deities of the hills are little removed from the spirits of 
the deceased Saoras. [Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu refers 
to two hills, one at Gayaba called Jum-tang Baru, or eat 
cow hill, and the other about eight miles from Parla- 
kimedi, called Media Baru. At the former, a cow or 
bull is sacrificed, because a Kuttung once ate the flesh 
of a cow there ; at the latter the spirits require only milk 
"and liquor. This is peculiar, as the Savaras generally 
hold milk in abhorrence.]" 

" There is invariably one fetish, and generally there 
are several fetishes in every Saora house. In some 
villages, where the sun is the chief deity (and causes 
most mischief), there are fetishes of the sun god ; in 
another village, fetishes of Jalia, Kitung, etc. I once saw 
six Jalia fetishes, and three other fetishes in one house. 
There are also, especially about Kolakotta, Kulba 
fetishes in houses. The fetish is generally an empty 
earthen pot, about nine inches in diameter, slung from the 
roof. The Kudang slings it up. On certain occasions, 
offerings are made to the deity or Kulba represented 
by the fetish on the floor underneath it. Rude pictures, 
too, are sometimes fetishes. The fetish to the sun is 
generally ornamented with a rude pattern daubed in white 
on the outside. In the village of Bori in the Vizagapatam 
Agency, ofl"erings are made to the sun fetish when a 
member of the household gets pains in the legs or arms, 
and the fetish is said on such occasion to descend of 
itself to the floor. Sacrifices are sometimes made inside 
houses, under the fetishes, sometimes at the door, and 
blood put on the ground underneath the fetish." 

It is noted by Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu that " the 
Kittungs are ten in number, and are said to be all 


brothers. Their names are Bhima, Rama, Jodepulu, 
Peda, Rung-rung, Tumanna, Garsada, Jaganta, Mutta, 
and Tete. On some occasions, ten figures of men, 
representing the Kittungs, are drawn on the walls of a 
house. Figures of horses and elephants, the sun, moon 
and stars, are also drawn below them. The Boya is also 
represented. When a woman is childless, or when her 
children die frequently, she takes a vow that the Kittung- 
purpur ceremony shall be celebrated, if a child is born 
to her, and grows in a healthy state. If this comes to 
pass, a young pig is purchased, and marked for sacrifice. 
It is fattened, and allowed to grow till the child reaches 
the age of twelve, when the ceremony is performed. 

The Madras Museum possesses a series of wooden 
votive offerings which were found stacked in a structure, 
which has been described to me as resembling a pigeon- 
cot. The offerings consisted of a lizard {Varanus), 
paroquet, monkey, peacock, human figures, dagger, gun, 
sword, pick-axe, and musical horn. The Savaras would 
not sell them to the district officer, but parted with them 
on the understanding that they would be worshipped by 
the Government. 

I gather that, at the sale or transfer of land, the 
spirits are invoked by the Boya, and, after the distri- 
bution of liquor, the seller or mortgager holds a pipal 
{Ficus religiosd) leaf with a lighted wick in it in his 
hand, while the purchaser or mortgagee holds another 
leaf without a wick. The latter covers the palm of the 
former with his leaf, and the terms of the transaction 
are then announced. 

Concerning the performance of sacrifices, Mr. 
Fawcett writes that " the Saoras say they never practiced 
human sacrifice. Most Saora sacrifices, which are also 
feasts, are made to appease deities or Kulbas that have 


done mischief. I will first notice the few which do not 
come in this category, (a) The feast to Jalia when man- 
goes ripen, already mentioned, is one. In a village 
where the sun, and not Jalia, is the chief deity, this feast 
is made to the sun. Jalia does not trouble the village, 
as the Kudung meets him outside it now and then, and 
sends him away by means of a sacrifice. [Sacrifices and 
offerings of pigs or fowls, rice, and liquor, are also made 
at the mahua, hill grain, and red gram festivals.] {d) 
A small sacrifice, or an offering of food, is made in some 
places before a child is born. About Kolakotta, when a 
child is born, a fowl or a pound or so of rice, and a quart 
of liquor provided by the people of the house, will be 
taken by the Kudang to the jungle, and the fowl sacri- 
ficed to Kanni. Blood, liquor, and rice are left in leaf 
cups for Kanni, and the rest is eaten. In every paddy 
field in Kolakotta, when the paddy is sprouting, a sacri- 
fice is made to Sattira for good crops. A stick of the 
tree called in Uriya kendhu, about five or six feet long, 
is stuck in the ground. The upper end is sharpened 
to a point, on which is impaled a live young pig or a 
live fowl, and over it an inverted earthen pot daubed 
over with white rings. If this sacrifice is not made, 
good crops cannot be expected. [It may be noted that 
the impaling of live pigs is practiced in the Telugu 
country.]* When crops ripen, and before the grain is 
eaten, sacrifice is made to Lobo (the earth). Lobo 
Sonnum is the earth deity. If they eat the grain with- 
out performing this sacrifice, it will disagree with them, 
and will not germinate properly when sown again. If 
crops are good, a goat is killed, if not good, a pig 
or a fowl. A Kolakotta Saora told me of another 

♦ See Bishop Whitehead. Madras Museum Bull., Vol. 3, 136, 1907. 

337 S AVAR A 

sacrifice, which is partly of a propitiatory nature. If a 
tiger or panther kills a person, the Kudang is called, and 
he, on the following Sunday, goes through a performance, 
to prevent a similar fate overtaking others. Two pigs 
are killed outside the village, and every man, woman, 
and child is made to walk over the ground whereon the 
pig's blood is spilled, and the Kudang gives to each 
individual some kind of tiger medicine as a charm. The 
Kudang communicates with the Kulba of the deceased, 
and learns the whole story of how he met his death. In 
another part of the Saora country, the above sacrifice 
is unknown ; and, when a person is killed by a tiger 
or panther, a buffalo is sacrificed to the Kulba of the 
deceased three months afterwards. The feast is begun 
before dark, and the buffalo is killed the next morning. 
No medicine is used. Of sacrifices after injury is felt, 
and in order to get rid of it, that for rain may be noticed 
first. The Gomango, another important man in the 
village, and the Kudang officiate. A pig and a goat are 
killed outside the village to Kitung. The blood must 
flow on the stone. Then liquor and grain are set forth, 
and a feast is made. About Kolakotta the belief in the 
active malevolence of Kulbas is more noticeable than 
in other parts, where deities cause nearly all mischief. 
Sickness and death are caused by deities or Kulbas, and 
it is the Kudang who ascertains which particular spirit 
is in possession of, or has hold of any sick person, and 
informs him what is to be done in order to drive it away. 
He divines in this way usually. He places a small 
earthen saucer, with a little oil and lighted wick in it, in 
the patient's hand. With his left hand he holds the 
patient's wrist, and with his right drops from a leaf cup 
grains of rice on to the flame. As each grain drops, he 
calls out the name of different deities, and Kulbas, and, 


whichever spirit is being named as a grain catches fire, 
is that causing the sickness. The Kudang is at once in 
communication with the deity or Kulba, who informs 
him what must be done for him, what sacrifice made 
before he will go away. There is, in some parts of the 
Saora country, another method by which a Kudang 
divines the cause of sickness. He holds the patient's 
hand for a quarter of an hour or so, and goes off in a 
trance, in which the deity or Kulba causing the sickness 
communicates with the Kudang, and says what must be 
done to appease him. The Kudang is generally, if not 
always, fasting when engaged in divination. If a deity 
or Kulba refuses to go away from a sick person, another 
more powerful deity or Kulba can be induced to turn 
him out. 

A long account of a big sacrifice is given by Mr. 
Fawcett, of which the following is a summary. The 
Kudang was a lean individual of about 40 or 45, with a 
grizzled beard a couple of inches in length. He had a 
large bunch of feathers in his hair, and the ordinary 
Saora waist-cloth with a tail before and behind. There 
were tom-toms with the party. A buffalo was tied up in 
front of the house, and was to be sacrificed to a deity 
who had seized on a young . boy, and was giving him 
fever. The boy's mother came out with some grain, and 
other necessaries for a feed, in a basket on her head. 
All started, the father of the boy carrying him, a man 
dragging the buffalo along, and the Kudang driving it 
from behind. As they started, the Kudang shouted out 
some gibberish, apparently addressed to the deity, to 
whom the sacrifice was to be made. The party halted 
in the shade of some big trees. They said that the 
sacrifice was to the road god, who would go away by the 
path after the sacrifice. Having arrived at the place, the 


woman set down her basket, the men laid down their 
axes and the tom-toms, and a fire was lighted. The 
buffalo was tied up 20 yards off on the path, and began 
to graze. After a quarter of an hour, the father took the 
boy in his lap as he sat on the path, and the Kudang's 
assistant sat on his left with a tom-tom before him. 
The Kudang stood before the father on the path, 
holding a small new earthen pot in his hand. The 
assistant beat the tom-tom at the rate of 150 beats to 
the minute. The Kudang held the earthen pot to his 
mouth, and, looking up to the sun (it was 9 a.m.), shouted 
some gibberish into it, and then danced round and round 
without leaving his place, throwing up the pot an inch 
or so, and catching it with both hands, in perfect time 
with the tom-tom, while he chanted gibberish for a 
quarter of an hour. Occasionally, he held the pot up to 
the sun, as if saluting- it, shouted into it, and passed it 
round the father's head and then round the boy's head, 
every motion in time with the tom-tom. The chant 
over, he put down the pot, and took up a toy-like bow 
and arrow. The bow was about two feet long, through 
which was fixed an arrow with a large head, so that it 
could be pulled only to a certain extent. The arrow 
was fastened to the string, so that it could not be 
detached from the bow. He then stuck a small wax 
ball on to the point of the arrow head, and, dancing as 
before, went on with his chant accompanied by the tom- 
tom. Looking up at the sun, he took aim with the bow, 
and fired the wax ball at it. He then fired balls of wax, 
and afterwards other small balls, which the Uriyas 
present said were medicine of some kind, at the boy's 
head, stomach, and legs. As each ball struck him, he 
cried. The Kudang, still chanting, then went to the 
buffalo, and fired a wax ball at its head. He came back 
Yi-22 B 


to where the father was sitting, and, putting down the 
bow, took up two thin pieces of wood a foot long, an 
inch wide, and blackened at the ends. The chant ceased 
for a few moments while he was changing the bow for 
the pieces of wood, but, when he had them in his hands, 
he went on again with it, dancing round as before, and 
striking the two pieces of wood together in time. This 
lasted about five minutes, and, in the middle of the 
dance, he put an umbrella-like shade on his head. The 
dance over, he went to the buffalo, and stroked it all 
over with the two pieces of wood, first on the head, then 
on the body and rump, and the chant ceased. He then 
sat in front of the boy, put a handful of common herbs 
into the earthen pot, and poured some water into it. 
Chanting, he bathed the boy's head with the herbs and 
water, the father's head, the boy's head again, and then 
the buffalo's head, smearing them with the herbs. He 
blew into one ear of the boy, and then into the other. 
The chant ceased, and he sat on the path. The boy's 
father got up, and, carrying the boy, seated him on the 
ground. Then, with an axe, which was touched by the 
sick boy, he went up to the buffalo, and with a blow 
almost buried the head of the axe in the buffalo's neck. 
He screwed the axe about until he disengaged it, and 
dealt a second and a third blow in the same place, and 
the buffalo fell on its side. When it fell, the boy's 
father walked away. As the first blow was given, the 
Kudang started up very excited as if suddenly much 
overcome, holding his arms slightly raised before him, 
and staggered about. His assistant rushed at him, and 
held him round the body, while he struggled violently 
as if striving to get to the bleeding buffalo. He 
continued struggling while the boy's father made his 
three blows on the buffalo's neck. The father brought 


him some of the blood in a leaf cup, which he greedily 
drank, and was at once quiet. Some water was then 
given him, and he seemed to be all right. After a 
minute or so, he sat on the path with the tom-tom 
before him. and, beating it, chanted as before. The 
boy's father returned to the buffalo, and, with a few 
more whacks at it, stopped its struggles. Some two or 
three men joined him, and, with their axes and swords, 
soon had the buffalo in pieces. All present, except the 
Kudang, had a good feed, during which the tom-tom 
ceased. After the feed, Kudang went at it again, and 
kept it up at intervals for a couple of hours. He once 
went for 25 minutes at 156 beats to the minute without 

A variant of the ceremonial here described has been 
given to me by Mr. G. F. Paddison from the Gunapur 
hills. A buffalo is tied up to the door of the house, 
where the sick person resides. Herbs and rice in small 
platters, and a little brass vessel containing toddy, balls 
of rice, flowers, and medicine, are brought with a bow 
and arrow. The arrow is thicker at the basal end than 
towards the tip. The narrow part goes, when shot, 
through a hole in the bow, too small to allow of passage 
of the rest of the arrow. The Beju (wise woman) pours 
toddy over the herbs and rice, and daubs the sick person 
over the forehead, breasts, stomach, and back. She 
croons out a long incantation to the goddess, stopping 
at intervals to call out " Daru," to attract her attention. 
She then takes the bow and arrow, and shoots into the 
air. She then stands behind the kneeling patient, and 
shoots balls of medicine stuck on the tip of the arrow at 
her. The construction of the arrow is such that the balls 
are dislodged from the tip of the arrow. The patient is 
thus shot at all over the body, which is bruised by the 

S A VARA 342 

impact of the balls. Afterwards the Beju shoots one or 
two balls at the buffalo, which is taken to a path forming 
the village boundary, and killed with a tangi (axe). The 
patient is then daubed with blood of the buffalo, rice and 
toddy. A feast concludes the ceremonial. 

The following account of a sacrifice to Rathu, who 
had given fever to the sister of the celebrant Kudang, is 
given by Mr. Fawcett. " The Kudang was squatting, 
facing west, his fingers in his ears, and chanting gibberish 
with continued side-shaking of his head. About two 
feet in front of him was an apparatus made of split bamboo. 
A young pig had been killed over it, so that the blood 
was received in a little leaf cup, and sprinkled over the 
bamboo work. The Kudang never ceased his chant for 
an hour and a half. While he was chanting, some eight 
Saoras were cooking the pig with some grain, and having 
a good feed. Between the bamboo structure and the 
Kudang were three little leaf cups, containing portions 
of the food for Rathu. A share of the food was kept 
for the Kudang, who when he had finished his chant, 
got up and ate it. Another performance, for which some 
dried meat of a buffalo that had been sacrificed a month 
previously was used, I saw on the same day. Three 
men, a boy, and a baby, were sitting in the jungle. The 
men were preparing food, and said that they were about 
to do some reverence to the sun, who had caused fever 
to some one. Portions of the food were to be set out in 
leaf cups for the sun deity." 

It is recorded by Mr. Ramamurti Pantulu that, when 
children are seriously ill and become emaciated, offerings 
are made to monkeys and blood-suckers (lizards), not in 
the belief that illness is caused by them, but because the 
sick child, in its emaciated state, resembles an attenuated 
figure of these animals. Accordingly, a blood-sucker is 


captured, small toy arrows are tied round its body, and 
a piece of cloth is tied on its head. Some drops of 
liquor are then poured into its mouth, and it is set at 
liberty. In negociating with a monkey, some rice and 
other articles of food are placed in small baskets, called 
tanurjal, which are suspended from branches of trees in 
the jungle. The Savaras frequently attend the markets 
or fairs held in the plains at the foot of the ghats to 
purchase salt and other luxuries. If a Savara is taken ill 
at the market or on his return thence, he attributes the 
illness to a spirit of the market called Biradi Sonum. 
The bulls, which carry the goods of the Hindu merchants 
to the market, are supposed to convey this spirit. In 
propitiating it, the Savara makes an image of a bull in 
straw, and, taking it out of his village, leaves it on the 
foot-path after a pig has been sacrified to it. 

" Each group of Savaras," Mr. Ramamurti writes, " is 
under the government of two chiefs, one of whom is the 
Gomong (or great man) and the other, his colleague in 
council, is the Boya, who not only discharges, in conjunc- 
tion with the Gomong, the duties of magistrate, but also 
holds the office of high priest. The offices of these two 
functionaries are hereditary, and the rule of primogeni- 
ture regulates succession, subject to the principle that 
incapable individuals should be excluded. The presence 
of these two officers is absolutely necessary on occasions 
of marriages and funerals, as well as at harvest festivals. 
Sales and mortgages of land and liquor-yielding trees, 
partition and other dispositions of property, and divorces 
are effected in the council of village elders, presided 
over by the Gomong and Boya, by means of long and 
tedious proceedings involving various religious cere- 
monies. All cases of a civil and criminal nature are 
heard and disposed of by them. Fines are imposed as 

savarA 344 

a punishment for all sorts of offences. These Invariably 
consist of liquor and cattle, the quantity of liquor and 
the number of animals varying according to the nature 
of the offence. The murder of a woman Is considered 
more heinous than the murder of a man, as woman, 
being capable of multiplying the race, is the more useful. 
A thief, while in the act of stealing, may be shot dead. 
It is always the man, and not the woman, that is pun- 
ished for adultery. Oaths are administered, and ordeals 
prescribed. Until forty or fifty years ago, it is said 
that the Savara magistrate had jurisdiction In murder 
cases. He was the highest tribunal In the village, 
the only arbitrator in all transactions among the vil- 
lagers. And, If any differences arose between his men 
and the inhabitants of a neighbouring village, for 
settling which it was necessary that a battle should be 
fought, the Gomong became the commander, and, lead- 
ing his men, contested the cause with all his might. 
These ofificers, though discharging such onerous and 
responsible duties, are regarded as In no special degree 
superior to others In social position. They enjoy no 
special privileges, and receive no fees from the suitors 
who come up to their court. Except on occasions of 
public festivals, over which they preside, they are content 
to hold equal rank with the other elders of the village. 
Each cultivates his field, and builds his house. His 
wife brings home fuel and water, and cooks for his family ; 
his son watches his cattle and crops. The English 
officials and the Bissoyis have, however, accorded to 
these Savara officers some distinction. When the 
Governor's Agent, during his annual tour. Invites the 
Savara elders to bhetl (visit), they make presents of a 
fowl, sheep, eggs, or a basket of rice, and receive cloths, 
necklaces, etc. The Bissoyis exempt them from personal 


service, which is demanded from all others." At the 
Sankaranthi festival, the Savaras bring loads of firewood, 
yams {Dioscorea tubers), pumpkins, etc., as presents for 
the Bissoyi, and receive presents from him in return. 

Besides cultivating, the Savaras collect Bauhinia 
leaves, and sell them to traders for making leaf platters. 
The leaves of the jel-adda tree {^Bauhinia purpurea) are 
believed to be particularly appreciated by the Savara 
spirits, and offerings made to them should be placed in 
cups made thereof. The Savaras also collect various 
articles of minor forest produce, honey and wax. They 
know how to distil liquor from the flowers of the mahua 
{Bassia latifolid). The process of distillation has been 
thus described.* " The flowers are soaked in water for 
three or four days, and are then boiled with water in an 
earthenware chatty. Over the top of this is placed 
another chatty, mouth downwards, the join between the 
two being made air-tight by being tied round with a bit 
of cloth, and luted with clay. From a hole made in the 
upper chatty, a hollow bamboo leads to a third pot, 
specially made for the purpose, which is globular, and has 
no opening except that into which the bamboo pipe leads. 
This last is kept cool by pouring water constantly over 
it, and the distillate is forced into it through the bamboo, 
and there condenses." 

In a report on his tour through the Savara country in 
1863, the Agent to the Governor of Madras reported as 
follows. "At Gunapur I heard great complaints of the 
thievish habits of the Soura tribes on the hills dividing 
Gunapur from Pedda Kimedy. They are not dacoits, 
but very expert burglers, if the term can be applied to 
<^iggirig a hole in the night through a mud wall. If 

• Gazetteer of Vizagapatam district. 


discovered and hard pressed, they do not hesitate to 
discharge their arrows, which they do with unerring 
aim, and always with fatal result. Three or four mur- 
ders have been perpetrated by these people in this way 
since the country has been under our management. I 
arranged with the Superintendent of Police to station 
a party of the Armed Reserve in the ghaut leading 
to Soura country. One or two cases of seizure and 
conviction will suffice to put a check to the crime." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district, that "in 1864 trouble occurred with the Sava- 
ras. One of their headmen having been improperly 
arrested by the police of Pottasingi, they effected a 
rescue, killed the Inspector and four constables, and 
burnt down the station-house. The Raja of Jeypore 
was requested to use his influence to procure the 
arrest of the offenders, and eventually twenty-four were 
captured, of whom nine were transported for life, and five 
were sentenced to death, and hanged at Jalteru, at the 
foot of the ghat to Pottasingi. Government presented 
the Raja with a rifle and other gifts in acknowledgment 
of his assistance. The country did not immediately 
calm down, however, and, in 1865, a body of police, 
who were sent to establish a post in the hills, were 
attacked, and forced to beat a retreat down the ghat. 
A large force was then assembled, and, after a brief but 
harassing campaign, the post was firmly occupied in 
January, 1866. Three of the ringleaders of this rising 
were transported for life. The hill Savaras remained 
timid and suspicious for some years afterwards, and, 
as late as 1874, the reports mention it as a notable 
fact that they were beginning to frequent markets on 
the plains, and that the low-country people no longer 
feared to trust themselves above the ghats." 


In 1905, Government approved the following pro- 
posals for the improvement of education among the 
Savaras and other hill tribes in the Ganjam and Vizaga- 
patam Agencies, so far as Government schools are 
concerned : — 

(i) That instruction to the hill tribes should be 
given orally through the medium of their own mother 
tongue, and that, when a Savara knows both Uriya and 
Telugu, it would be advantageous to educate him in 
Uriya ; 

(2) That evening classes be opened whenever 
possible, the buildings in which they are held being also 
used for night schools for adults who should receive 
oral instruction, and that magic-lantern exhibitions 
might be arranged for occasionally, to make the classes 
attractive ; 

(3) That concessions, if any, in the matter of 
grants admissible to Savaras, K bonds, etc., under the 
Grant-in-aid Code, be extended to the pupils of the above 
communities that attend schools in the plains ; 

(4) That an itinerating agency, who could go 
round and look after the work of the agency schools, be 
established and that, in the selection of hill school estab- 
lishments, preference be given to men educated in the 
hill schools ; 

(5) That some suitable form of manual occupation 
be introduced, wherever possible, into the day's work, 
and the schools be supplied with the requisite tools, and 
that increased grants be given for anything original. 

Savara. — A name, denoting hill-men, adopted by 
Male Kudiyas. 

Savu (death). — A sub-division of Mala. 

Sayakkaran. — An occupational term, meaning a 
dyer, returned, at times of census, by Tamil dyers. 


Sayutnpadai Tangi.— Thename,meaning supporter 
of the vanquished army, of a section of Kalians. 

Sedan. — A synonym of Devanga. At times of 
census, Seda Dasi has been returned by Devanga 
dancing-girls in the Madura district. The following 
legend of Savadamma, the goddess of the weaver caste 
in Coimbatore, is narrated by Bishop Whitehead.* 
" Once upon a time, when there was fierce conflict 
between the men and the rakshasas, the men, who were 
getting defeated, applied for help to the god Siva, who 
sent his wife Parvati as an avatar or incarnation into the 
world to help them. The avatar enabled them to defeat 
the rakshasas, and, as the weaver caste were in the 
forefront of the battle, she became the goddess of the 
weavers, and was known in consequence as Savadamman, 
a corruption of Sedar Amman, Sedan being a title of the 
weavers. It is said that her original home was in the 
north of India, near the Himalayas." 

Segidi. — The Segidis are a Telugu caste of toddy 
sellers and distillers of arrack, who are found mainly in 
Ganjam and Vizagapatam. 

For the purposes of the Madras Abkari Act, toddy 
means fermented or unfermented juice drawn from a 
cocoanut, palmyra, date, or any other kind of palm-tree. 
It is laid down, in the Madras Excise Manual, that 
" unfermented toddy is not subject to any taxation, but 
it must be drawn in pots freshly coated internally with 
lime. Lime is prescribed as the substance with which 
the interior of pots or other receptacles in which sweet 
toddy is drawn should be coated, as it checks the 
fermentation of the toddy coming in contact with it ; but 
this effect cannot be secured unless the internal lime 

♦ Madras Museum Bulletin, V, 3, 1907. 


coating of the toddy pot or vessel Is thorough, and is 
renewed every time that the pot is emptied of its 
contents." It is noted by Bishop Caldwell* that "it is 
the unfermented juice of the palmyra (and other palms) 
which is used as food. When allowed to ferment, which 
it will do before midday, if left to itself, it is changed into 
a sweet intoxicating drink called kal or toddy." Pietro 
Delia Valle records "i" that he stayed on board till night- 
fall, " entertaining with conversation and drinking tari, 
a liquor which is drawn from the cocoanut trees, of a 
whitish colour, a little turbid, and of a somewhat rough 
taste, though with a blending in sweetness, and not 
unpalatable, something like one of our vini piccanti. It 
will also intoxicate, like wine, if drunk over freely." 
Writing in 1673, Fryer \ describes the Natives as ** sing- 
ing and roaring all night long ; being drunk with toddy, 
the wine of the Cocoe." 

Arrack is a spirituous liquor distilled from the 
fermented sap of various palms. In some parts of the 
Madras Presidency, arrack vendors consider it unlucky 
to set their measures upside down. Some time ago, the 
Excise Commissioner informs me, the Excise depart- 
ment had some aluminium measures made for measuring 
arrack in liquor shops. It was found that the arrack 
corroded the aluminium, and the measures soon leaked. 
The shopkeepers were told to turn their measures upside 
down, in order that they might drain. This they refused 
to do, as it would bring bad luck to their shop. New 
measures with round bottoms were evolved, which would 
not stand up. But the shopkeepers began to use rings 
of india-rubber from soda-water bottles, to make them 
stand. An endeavour has since been made to induce 

• Lectures on Tinnevelly Missions, 1857. f Viaggi, 1614-26. 

• ^ A New Account of East India and Persia, 1698. 

sekkAn 350 

them to keep their measures inverted by hanging them 
on pegs, so that they will drain without being turned 
upside down. The case illustrates well how important 
a knowledge of the superstitions of the people is in the 
administration of their affairs. 

The Segidis do not draw the liquor from the palm- 
tree themselves, but purchase it from the toddy-drawing 
castes, the Yatas and Gamallas. 

They have a caste headman, called Kulampedda, who 
settles disputes with the assistance of a council. Like 
other Telugu castes, they have intiperulu or house 
names, which are strictly exogamous. Girls are mar- 
ried either before or after puberty. The custom of 
menarikam is practiced, in accordance with which a man 
marries his maternal aunt's daughter. A Brahman 
officiates at marriages, except the remarriage of widows. 
When a widow is remarried, the caste-men assemble, 
and the Kulampedda ties the sathamanam (marriage 
badge) on the bride's neck. 

The dead are usually cremated, and the washerman 
of the village assists the chief mourner in igniting the 
pyre. A Satani conducts the funeral ceremonies. 

The Segidis worship various village deities, and 
perantalammas, or women who killed themselves during 
their husbands' lives or on their death. 

The more well-to-do members of the caste take the 
title Anna. 

Sekkan (oil-man). — A synonym of Vaniyan. 

Sembadavan.— The Sembadavans are the fisher- 
men of the Tamil country, who carry on their calling in 
freshwater tanks (ponds), lakes and rivers, and never 
in the sea. Some of them are ferrymen, and the name 
has been derived from sem (good), padavan (boat- 
men). A legend runs to the effect that the goddess 


Ankalamman, whom they worship with offerings of sheep, 
pigs, fowls, rice, etc., was a Sembadava girl, of whom 
Siva became enamoured, and Sembadavan is accordingly- 
derived from Sambu (Siva) or a corruption of Sivan 
padavan (Siva's boatmen). Some members of the caste 
in the Telugu country returned themselves, at the 
census, 1901, as Sambuni Reddi or Kapu. According 
to another legend, the name is derived from sembu 
padavor or copper boatmen. Parvatha Raja, disguised 
as a boatman, when sailing in a copper boat, threw out 
his net to catch fish. Four Vedas were transformed 
into nets, with which to catch the rakshasas, who 
assumed the form of fishes. Within the nets a rishi was 
also caught, and, getting angry, asked the boatman 
concerning his pedigree. On learning it, he cursed him, 
and ordained that his descendants should earn their livino 
by fishing. Hence the Sembadavans call themselves 
Parvatha Rajavamsam. Yet another legend states that 
the founder of the caste, while worshipping God, was 
tried thus. God caused a large fish to appear in the 
water near the spot at which he was worshipping. 
Forgetting all about his prayers, he stopped to catch the 
fish, and was cursed with the occupation of catching fish 
for ever. According to yet another account of the 
origin of the Sembadavans, Siva was much pleased 
with their ancestors' devotion to him when they lived 
upon the sea-shore by catching a few fish with difficulty, 
and in recognition of their piety furnished them with a 
net, and directed various other castes to become fish- 
eaters, so that the Scmbadavar might live comfortably. 

Of the Sembadavans of the North Arcot district, 
Mr. H. A. Stuart writes* that they "act as boatmen 

♦ Manual of the North Arcot district. 



and fishers. They have little opportunity of exercising 
the former profession, but during heavy freshes in big 
rivers they ferry people from bank to bank in round 
leather-covered basket coracles, which they push along, 
swimming or wading by the side, or assist the timid to 
ford by holding their hands. At such times they make 
considerable hauls. During the rest of the year they 
subsist by fishing in the tanks." 

" The Sembadavans of the South Arcot district," 
Mr. Francis writes,* "are fresh-water fishermen and 
boatmen. Both their occupations being of a restricted 
character, they have now in some cases taken to agricul- 
ture, weaving, and the hawking of salted sea-fish, but 
almost all of them are poor. They make their own nets, 
and, when they have to walk any distance for any 
purpose, they often spin the thread as they go along. 
Their domestic priests are Panchangi Brahmans, and 
these tie the tali at weddings, and perform the purifica- 
tory ceremonies on the sixteenth day after deaths." 

The Sembadavans consider themselves to be superior 
to Pattanavans, who are sea-fishermen. They usually 
take the title Mattan, Kavandan, Maniyakkaran, Paguth- 
thar, or Pillai, Some have assumed the title Guha 
Vellala, to connect themselves with Guha, who rowed 
the boat of Rama to Ceylon. At the census, 1901, 
Savalakkaran {q.v.) was returned as a sub-caste. 
Savalalai or saval thadi is the flattened paddle for 
rowing boats. A large number call themselves Pujari, 
(priest), and wear the lingam enclosed in a silver 
casket or pink cloth, and the sacred thread. It is the 
pujari who officiates at the temple services to village 
deities. At Malayanur, in the South Arcot district, all 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 


the Sembadavans call themselves pujari, and seem to 
belong to a single sept called Mukkali (three-legged). 

Most of the Sembadavans call themselves Saivites, 
but a few, e.g., at Kuppam in North Arcot, and other 
places, say that they are Vaishnavites, and belong to 
Vishnu gotram. Even among those who claimed to 
be Vaishnavites, a few were seen with a sandal paste 
(Saivite) mark on the forehead. Their explanation was 
that they were returning from the fields, where they had 
eaten their food. This they must not do without wearing 
a religious emblem, and they had not with them the 
mirror, red powder, water, etc., necessary for making 
the Vaishnavite namam mark. They asserted that they 
never take a girl in marriage from Saivite families 
without burning her tongue with a piece of gold, and 
purifying her by punyavachanam. 

The Sembadavans at Chidambaram are all Saivites, 
and point out with pride their connection with the 
temple. It appears that, on a particular day, they are 
deputed to carry the idol in procession through the 
streets, and their services are paid for with a modest fee 
and a ball of cooked rice for each person. Some respect 
is shown to them by the temple authorities, as the 
goddess, when being carried in procession, is detained 
for some time in their quarters, and they make presents 
of female cloths to the idol. 

The Sembadavans have exogamous septs, named 
after various heroes, etc. The office of Nattan or Nat- 
tamaikkaran (headman) is confined to a particular sept, 
and is hereditary. In some places he is assisted by 
officers called Sangathikkar or Sangathipillai, through 
whom, at a council, the headman should be addressed. 
At their council meetings, representatives of the seven 
nadus (villages), into which the Sembadavans of various 


localities are divided, are present. At Malayanur these 
nadus are replaced by seven exogamous septs, viz., 
Devar, Seppiliyan, Ethinayakan, Sangili, Mayakundali, 
Pattam, and Panikkan. If a man under trial pleads not 
guilty to the charge brought against him, he has to bear 
the expenses of the members of council. Sometimes, 
as a punishment, a man is made to carry a basket of 
rubbish, with tamarind twigs as the emblem of flogging, 
and a knife to denote cutting of the tongue. Women 
are said to be punished by having to carry a basket of 
rubbish and a broom round the village. 

Sembadavans who are ferrymen by profession do 
special worship to Ganga, the goddess of water, to 
whom pongal (rice) and goats are offered. It is believed 
that their immunity from death by drowning, caused by 
the upsetting of their leather coracles, is due to the 
protection of the goddess. 

The ceremonial when a girl reaches puberty corre- 
sponds to that of various other Tamil castes. Meat is 
forbidden, but eggs are allowed to be eaten. To ward 
off devils twigs of Vitex Negundo, margosa {Melia 
Azadirachta), and Eugenia Jambolana are stuck in the 
roof. Sometimes a piece of iron is given to the girl 
to keep. During the marriage ceremonies, a branch of 
Erythrina indica is cut, and tied, with sprays of the 
pipal {Eicus religiosd) and a piece of a green bamboo 
culm, to one of the twelve posts, which support the 
marriage pandal (booth). A number of sumangalis 
(married women) bring sand, and spread it on the floor 
near the marriage dais, with pots, two of which are filled 
with water, over it. The bride and bridegroom go 
through a ceremony called sige kazhippu, with the 
object of warding off the evil eye, which consists in 
pouring a few drops of milk on their foreheads from a 


fig or betel leaf. To their foreheads are tied small gold 
or silver plates, called pattam, of which the most con- 
spicuous are those tied by the maternal uncles. The 
plate for the bridegroom is V-shaped like a namam, 
and that for the bride like a pipal leaf. The bride and 
bridegroom go through a mock ceremony representative 
of domestic life, and pot-searching. Seven rings are 
dropped into a pot. If the girl picks up three of these, 
her first-born will be a girl. If the bridegroom picks up 
five, it will be a boy. Married women go in procession 
to an ant-hill, and bring to the marriage booth a basket- 
load of the earth, which they heap up round the posts. 
Offerings of balls of rice, cooked vegetables, etc., are 
then made. After the wrist-threads (kankanam) have 
been removed, the bride and bridegroom go to a tank, 
and go through a mock ploughing ceremony. In some 
places, the purohits give the bridegroom a sacred thread, 
which is finally thrown into a tank or well. 

By some Sembadavans a ceremony, called muthu- 
gunir kuththal (pouring water on the back) is per- 
formed in the seventh month of pregnancy. The woman 
stands on the marriage dais, and red-coloured water, 
and lights are waved. Bending down, she places her 
hands on two big pots, and milk is poured over her 
back from a betel leaf by all her relations. 

The Vaishnava Sembadavans burn, and the Saivites 
bury their dead in a sitting posture. Fire is carried to 
the burial-ground by the barber. In cases of burial 
the face is covered over by a cloth, in which a slit is 
made, so that the top of the head and a portion of the 
forehead are exposed. A figure representing Ganesa 
is made on the head with ashes. All present throw 
sacred ashes, and a pie (copper coin) into the grave, 
which is then filled in. While this is being done, a 
vi-33 B 


bamboo stick is placed upright on the head of the 
corpse. On the surface of the filled-in grave an oblong 
space is cleared, with the bamboo in the centre. The 
bamboo is then removed, and water poured through the 
hole left by it, and a lingam made, and placed over the 

At Malayanur a ceremony called mayana or smasana 
kollai (looting the burning-ground) is performed. The 
village of Malayanur is famous for its Ankalamman 
temple, and, during the festival which takes place 
immediately after the Sivaratri, some thousands of 
people congregate at the temple, which is near the 
burning-ground. In front of the stone idol is a large 
ant-hill, on which two copper idols are placed, and a brass 
vessel, called korakkudai, is placed at the base of the 
hill, to receive the various votive offerings. Early in 
the day, the pujari (a Sembadavan) goes to a tank, and 
brings a decorated pot, called pungkaragam, to the 
temple. Offerings are made to a new pot, and, after a 
sheep has been sacrificed, the pot is filled with water, and 
carried on the head of the pujari, who shows signs 
of possession by the deity, through the streets of the 
village to the temple, dancing wildly, and never touching 
the pot with his hands. It is believed that the pot 
remains on the head, without falling, through the influence 
of the goddess. When the temple is reached, another 
pujari takes up a framework, to which are tied a head 
made of rice flour, with three faces coloured white, 
black and red, representing the head of Brahma which 
was cut off by Siva, and a pot with three faces on it. 
The eyes of the flour figure are represented by hen's 
eggs. The pot is placed beneath the head. Carrying 
the framework, and accompanied by music, the pujari 
goes in procession to the burning-ground, and, after 



offerings of a sheep, arrack, betel and fruits have been 
made to the head of Brahma, it is thrown away. Close 
to the spot where corpses are burnt, the pujaris place on 
the ground five conical heaps (representing Ganesa), 
made of the ashes of a corpse. To these are offered the 
various articles brought by those who have made vows, 
which include cooked pulses, bangles, betel, parts of the 
human body modelled in rice flour, etc. The offerings 
are piled up in a heap, which is said to reach ten or 
twelve feet in height. Soon afterwards, the people 
assembled fall on the heap, and carry off whatever they 
can secure. Hundreds of persons are said to become 
possessed, eat the ashes of the corpses, and bite any 
human bones, which they may come across. The ashes 
and earth are much prized, as they are supposed to drive 
away evil spirits, and secure offspring to barren women. 
Some persons make a vow that they will disguise them- 
selves as Siva, for which purpose they smear their faces 
with ashes, put on a cap decorated with feathers of the 
crow, egret, and peacock, and carry in one hand a brass 
vessel called Brahma kapalam. Round their waist they 
tie a number of strings, to which are attached rags and 
feathers. Instead of the cap, Paraiyans and Valluvans 
wear a crown. The brass vessel, cap, and strings are 
said to be kept by the pujari, and hired out for a rupee 
or two per head. The festival is said to be based on the 
following legend. Siva and Brahma had the same 
number of faces. During the swayamvaram, Parvati, 
the wife of Siva, found it difficult to recognise her husband, 
so Siva cut off Brahma's head. The head stuck on to 
Siva's hand, and he could not get rid of it. To get rid 
of the skull, and throw off the crime of murder, Siva 
wandered far and wide, and came to the burning-ground 
at Malayanur, where various bhuthas (devils) were busy 


eating the remains of corpses. Parvati also arrived there, 
and failed to recognise Siva. Thereon the skull laughed, 
and fell to the ground. The bhuthas were so delighted 
that they put various kinds of herbs into a big vessel, and 
made of them a sweet liquor, by drinking which Siva 
was absolved from his crime. For this reason arrack is 
offered to him at the festival. A very similar rite is 
carried out at Walajapet. A huge figure, representing 
the goddess, is made at the burning-ground out of the 
ashes of burnt bodies mixed with water, the eyes being 
made of hen's eggs painted black in the centre to repre- 
sent the pupils. It is covered over with a yellow cloth, 
and a sweet-smelling powder (kadampam) is sprinkled 
over it. The following articles, which are required by 
a married woman, are placed on it : — a comb, pot con- 
taining colour-powder, glass bangles, rolls of palm leaf 
for dilating the ear-lobes, and a string of black beads. 
Devotees present as offerings limes, plantains, arrack, 
toddy, sugar-cane, and various kinds of cooked grains, and 
other eatables. The goddess is taken in procession from 
her shrine to the burning-ground, and placed in front of 
the figure. The pujari (fisherman), who wears a special 
dress for the occasion, walks in front of the idol, carry- 
ing in one hand a brass cup representing the skull which 
Siva carried in his hand, and in the other a piece of 
human skull bone, which he bites and chews as the 
procession moves onward. When the burning-ground 
is reached, he performs puja by breaking a cocoanut, and 
going round the figure with lighted camphor in his hand. 
Goats and fowls are sacrificed. A woman, possessed 
by a devil, seats herself at the feet of the figure, and 
becomes wild and agitated. The puja completed, the 
assembled multitude fall on the figure, and carry off what- 
ever they can grab of the articles placed on it, which 


are believed to possess healing and other virtues. They 
also smear their bodies with the ashes. The pujari, and 
some of the devotees, then become possessed, and run 
about the burning-ground, seizing and gnawing partly 
burnt bones. Tradition runs to the effect that, in olden 
times, they used to eat the dead bodies, if they came 
across any. And the people are so afraid of their doing 
this that, if a death should occur, the corpse is not taken 
to the burning-ground till the festival is over. " In 
some cases," Herbert Spencer writes,* " parts of the 
dead are swallowed by the living, who seek thus to 
inspire themselves with the good qualities of the dead ; 
and we saw that the dead are supposed to be honoured 
by this act." 

Sembunadu.^The name, meaning the Pandya 
country, of a sub-division of Maravan. 

Semmadi.— -A Teluguform of Sembadavan. 

Semman. — The Semmans are described, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1891, as "an insignificant caste 
of Tamil leather-workers, found only in the districts of 
Madura and Tinnevelly (and in the Pudukottai State). 
Though they have returned tailor and lime-burner as 
their occupations, the original occupation was undoubt- 
edly leather-work. In the Tamil dictionaries Semman 
is explained as a leather-worker, and a few of them, 
living in out-of-the way villages, have returned shoe- 
making as their occupation. The Semmans are, in 
fact, a sub-division of the Paraiyans, and they must have 
been the original leather-workers of the Tamil tribes. 
The immigrant Chakkiliyans have, however, now taken 
their place." The Semmans are described, in the 
Madura Manual, as burning and selling lime for building 

Principles of Sociology. 


purposes. In the Census Report, 1901, the caste is said 
to have " two hypergamous sub-divisions, Tondaman 
and Tolmestri, and men of the former take wives from 
the latter, but men of the latter may not marry girls of 
the former." 

Girls are married after puberty, and divorce and 
remarriage are freely allowed. As the caste is a pol- 
luting one, the members thereof are not allowed to 
use village wells, or enter caste Hindu temples. The 
caste title is Mestri. 

Sem Puli (red tiger). — A section of Kalian. 

Senaikkudaiyan.-— The Senaikkudaiyans are betel 
vine {Piper Betel) cultivators and betel leaf sellers, who 
are found in large numbers in the Tinnevelly district, 
and to a smaller extent in other parts of the Tamil 
country. The original name of the caste is said to have 
been Elai (leaf) Vaniyan, for which the more high- 
sounding Senaikkudaiyan (owner of an army) or Senait- 
talavan (chief of an army) has been substituted. They 
also called themselves Kodikkal Pillaimar, or Pillaimars 
who cultivate betel gardens, and have adopted the title 
Pillai. The titles Muppan and Chetti are also borne by 
members of the caste. 

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
that " the priests of the Senaikkudaiyans are Vellalas, 
and occasionally Brahmans. They do not wear the 
sacred thread. They burn their dead, and perform 
annual sraddhas (memorial services). In 1891, follow- 
ing the Tanjore Manual, they were wrongly classed 
with Vaniyans or oil-mongers, but they are superior to 
these in social position, and are even said to rank above 
Nattukottai Chettis. Yet it is stated that, in Tanjore, 
Paraiyans will not enter the Senaikkudaiyans' houses to 
carry away dead cattle, and ordinary barbers will not 


serve them, and food prepared by them will not be 
accepted even by barbers or washermen. Somewhat 
similar anomalies occur in the case of the Kammalas, 
and the explanation may be that these two castes 
belonged to the old left-hand faction, while the Pariyans, 
and the barbers and washermen belonged to the right- 
hand. Paraiyans similarly will not eat in the houses of 
Beri Chettis, who were of the left-hand faction." 

Senapati.— "A title, denoting commander-in-chief, 
said to be sold to Khoduras, and also occurring as a title 
of other Oriya castes, e.g.^ Kurumo and Ronguni. 
Among the Rongunis, the title is practically an exoga- 
mous sept. Senapati is further a name for Sales (Telugu 
weavers), the headman among whom is called Pedda 
(big) Senapati. The headman of the Salapu weavers, 
who do not intermarry with the Sales, is also styled 
Senapati. It is also a title of the Raja of Sandur. 

Sendalai (red-headed man). — Returned as a sub- 
division of Konga Vellalas at times of census. 

Sengundam (red dagger). — A synonym, connected 
with a caste legend, of Kaikolan. 

Seniga (Bengal gram : Cicer arietinum). — An 
exogamous sept of Medara and Pedakanti Kapu. 

Seniyan. — The name Seniyan is generally used to 
denote the Kama Sale weavers, but at Conjeeveram it 
is applied to Canarese Devangas. Elsewhere Canarese 
Devangas belong to the left-hand section, but at Conjee- 
veram they are classed with the right-hand section. 
Like other Devangas, the Conjeeveram Seniyans have 
exogamous house-names and gotras, which are interest- 
ing inasmuch as new names have been, in recent 
times, substituted for the original ones, e.g., Chandra- 
sekhara rishi, Nilakanta rishi, Markandeya rishi. The 
Devangas claim Markandeya as their ancestor. The 


old house-name Picchi Kaya (water-melon : Ciirullus 
vulgaris) has been changed to Desimarada, and eating 
the melon is tabu. A list of the house-names and gotras 
is kept by the headman for reference. The Conjee- 
veram Seniyans are Lingayats, but are not so strict as the 
Canarese Lingayats. Jangams are respected, but rank 
after their own stone lingams. In the observance of 
death rites, a staunch Lingayat should not bathe, and 
must partake of the food offered to the corpse. These 
customs are not observed by the Seniyans. Until quite 
recently, a man might tie a tali (marriage badge) 
secretly on a girl's neck, with the consent of the head- 
man and his relatives, and the girl could then be given 
in marriage to no other man. This custom is said to 
have been very common, especially in the case of a 
man's maternal uncle's or paternal aunt's daughter. At 
Conjeeveram it was extended to girls not so related, and 
a caste council was held, at which an agreement was 
drawn up that the secret tali-tying was forbidden, and, 
if performed, was not to be regarded as binding. The 
priest of the Conjeeveram Seniyans is a Vellala Panda- 
ram, who is the head of the Tirugnana Sambanda Murti 
mutt (religious institution) at Conjeeveram. 

Servai.— Servai, meaning service, has been recorded 
as the title of Agamudaiyans and Valaiyans. Servai- 
karan or Servaigaran (captain or commander) is the 
title of Agamudaiyan, Ambalakaran, Kalian, Maravan, 
and Parivaram. It further occurs as the name for a 
headman among the Vallambans, and it has been 
adopted as a false caste name by some criminal Koravas 
in the south. 

Serve gar a. —The Servegaras are a caste found in 
South Canara, and to a small extent in Bellary. " They 
are said to be a branch of the Konkan Marathis of Goa, 


from whence they were invited by the Lingayat kings of 
Nagara to serve as soldiers and to defend their forts 
(kote), whence the alternative name of Koteyava (or 
Kotegara). Another name for them is Ramakshatri. 
The mother-tongue of the Servegaras of South Canara 
is Canarese, while their brethren in the north speak 
Konkani. They have now taken to cultivation, but 
some are employed in the Revenue and Police depart- 
ments as peons (orderlies) and constables, and a few 
are shopkeepers. The name Servegara is derived from 
the Canarese serve, an army. In religion they are 
Hindus, and, like most West Coast castes, are equally 
partial to the worship of Siva and Vishnu. They wear 
the sacred thread. Karadi Brahmans are their priests, 
and they owe allegiance to the head of the Sringeri 
mutt. Their girls are married before puberty, and the 
remarriage of widows is neither allowed nor practiced. 
Divorce is permitted only on the ground of the unchastity 
of the wife. The body of a child under three years is 
buried, and that of any person exceeding that age is 
cremated. They eat flesh, but do not drink. Their 
titles are Nayak, Aiya, Rao, and Sheregar.'"^ In the 
Census Report, 1901, Bomman Valekara is returned as 
a synonym, and Vilayakara as a sub-caste of Servegara. 

Setti.— 5^^ Chetti. 

Settukkaran.— A castle title, meaning economical 
people, sometimes used by Devangas instead of Setti 
or Chetti. 

Sevagha Vritti.— A sub-division of Kaikolan. 

Sevala (service). — An exogamous sept of Golla. 

Shanan.— The great toddy-drawing caste of the 
Tamil country, which, a few years ago, came into special 

• Manual of the South Canara district. 


prominence owing to the Tinnevelly riots in 1899. 
"These were," the Inspector-General of Police writes,* 
" due to the pretensions of the Shanans to a much higher 
position in the religio-social scale than the other castes 
are willing to allow. Among other things, they claimed 
admission to Hindu temples, and the manager of the 
Visvanatheswara temple at Sivakasi decided to close it. 
This partial victory of the Shanans was keenly resented 
by their opponents, of whom the most active were the 
Maravans. Organised attacks were made on a number 
of the Shanan villages ; the inhabitants were assailed ; 
houses were burnt ; and property was looted. The most 
serious occurrence was the attack on Sivakasi by a body 
of over five thousand Maravans. Twenty -three murders, 
102 dacoities, and many cases of arson were registered 
in connection with the riots in Sivakasi, Chinniapuram, 
and other places. Of 1,958 persons arrested, 552 were 
convicted, 7 being sentenced to death. One of the 
ring-leaders hurried by train to distant Madras, and 
made a clever attempt to prove an alibi by signing his 
name in the Museum visitor's book. During the dis- 
turbance some of the Shanans are said to have gone 
into the Muhammadan fold. The men shaved their 
heads, and grew beards ; and the women had to make 
sundry changes in their dress. And, in the case of 
boys, the operation of circumcision was performed." 

The immediate bone of contention at the time of 
the Tinnevelly riots was, the Census Superintendent, 
1901, writes, ** the claim of the Shanans to enter the 
Hindu temples, in spite of the rules in the Agama 
Shastras that toddy-drawers are not to be allowed into 
them ; but the pretensions of the community date back 

* Administration Report, 1899. 


from 1858, when a riot occurred in Travancore, because 
female Christian converts belonging to it gave up the 
caste practice of going about without an upper cloth." 
On this point Mr. G. T. Mackenzie informs us ^ that 
"in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the 
female converts to Christianity in the extreme south 
ventured, contrary to the old rules for the lower castes, 
to clothe themselves above the waist. This innovation 
was made the occasion for threats, violence, and series 
of disturbances. Similar disturbances arose from the 
same cause nearly thirty years later, and, in 1859, 
Sir Charles Trevelyan, Governor of Madras, interfered, 
and granted permission to the women of the lower castes 
to wear a cloth over the breasts and shoulders. The 
following proclamation was issued by the Maharaja of 
Travancore : — We hereby proclaim that there is no 
objection tg Shanan women either putting on a jacket 
like the Christian Shanan women, or to Shanan women 
of all creeds dressing in coarse cloth, and tying them- 
selves round with it as the Mukkavattigal (fisherwomen) 
do, or to their covering their bosoms in any manner 
whatever, but not like women of high castes." " Shortly 
after 1858, pamphlets began to be written and published 
by people of the caste, setting out their claims to be 
Kshatriyas. In 1874 they endeavoured to establish a 
right to enter the great Minakshi temple at Madura, 
but failed, and they have since claimed to be allowed to 
wear the sacred thread, and to have palanquins at their 
weddings. They say they are descended from the Chera, 
Chola and Pandya kings ; they have styled themselves 
Kshatriyas in legal papers ; labelled their schools 
Kshatriya academy ; got Brahmans of the less particular 

* Christianity in Travancore, 1901. 


kind to do purohit's work for them ; had poems composed 
on their kingly origin ; gone through a sort of incom- 
plete parody of the ceremony of investiture with the 
sacred thread ; talked much but ignorantly of their 
gotras ; and induced needy persons to sign documents 
agreeing to carry them in palanquins on festive occa- 
sions." [During my stay at Nazareth in Tinnevelly, for 
the purpose of taking measurements of the Shanans, I 
received a visit from some elders of the community from 
Kuttam, who arrived in palanquins, and bearing weapons 
of old device.] Their boldest stroke was to aver that 
the coins commonly known as Shanans' cash were struck 
by sovereign ancestors of the caste. The author of a 
pamphlet entitled ' Bishop Caldwell and the Tinnevelly 
Shanars ' states that he had met with men of all castes 
who say that they have seen the true Shanar coin with 
their own eyes, and that a Eurasian gentleman from 
Bangalore testified to his having seen a true Shanar 
coin at Bangalore forty years ago. The coin referred 
to is the gold Venetian sequin, which is still found in 
considerable numbers in the south, and bears the names 
of the Doges (Paul Rainer, Aloy Mocen, Ludov Manin, 
etc.) and a cross, which the Natives mistake for a toddy 
palm. " If," Mr. Fawcett writes,* " one asks the 
ordinary Malayali (native of Malabar) what persons are 
represented on the sequin, one gets for answer that they 
are Rama and Sita : between them a cocoanut tree. 
Every Malayali knows what an Amada is ; it is a real 
or imitation Venetian sequin. I have never heard any 
explanation of the word Amada in Malabar. The 
following comes from Tinnevelly. Amada was the con- 
sort of Bhagavati, and he suddenly appeared one day 

♦ Madras Museum Bull., Ill, 3, 1901. 


before a Shanar, and demanded food. The Shanar said 
he was a poor man with nothing to offer but toddy, 
which he gave in a palmyra leaf. Amada drank the 
toddy, and performing a mantram (consecrated formula) 
over the leaf, it turned into gold coins, which bore on 
one side the pictures of Amada, the Shanar, and the 
tree, and these he gave to the Shanar as a reward for 
his willingness to assist him." 

In a petition to myself from certain Shanans of 
Nazareth, signed by a very large number of the com- 
munity, and bearing the title " Short account of the 
Cantras or Tamil Xatras, the original but down-trodden 
royal race of Southern India," they write as follows. 
" We humbly beg to say that we are the descendants of 
the Pandya or Dravida Xatra race, who, shortly after 
the universal deluge of Noah, first disafforested and 
colonized this land of South India under the guidance 
of Agastya Muni. The whole world was destroyed by 
flood about B.C. 3100 (Dr. Hale's calculation), when 
Noah, otherwise called Vaivasvata-manu or Satyavrata, 
was saved with his family of seven persons in an ark or 
covered ship, which rested upon the highest mountain 
of the Aryavarta country. Hence the whole earth was 
rapidly replenished by his descendants. One of his 
grandsons (nine great Prajapatis) was Atri, whose son 
Candra was the ancestor of the noblest class of the 
Xatras ranked above the Brahmans, and the first 
illustrious monarch of the post-diluvian world." 

" Apparently," the Census Superintendent continues, 
•'judging from the Shanan's own published statements 
of their case, they rest their claims chiefly upon etymo- 
logical derivations of their caste name Shanan, and of 
Nadan and Gramani, their two usual titles. Caste titles 
and names are, however, of recent origin, and little 


can be inferred from them, whatever their meaning may 
be shown to be. Brahmans, for example, appear to 
have borne the titles of Pillai and Mudali, which are 
now only used by Sudras, and the Nayak kings, on 
the other hand, called themselves Aiyar, which is now 
exclusively the title of Saivite Brahmans. To this day 
the cultivating Vellalas, the weaving Kaik5lars, and the 
semi-civilised hill tribe of the Jatapus use equally the 
title of Mudali, and the Balijas and Telagas call them- 
selves Rao, which is properly the title of Mahratta 
Brahmans. Regarding the derivation of the words 
Shanan, Nadan and Gramani, much ingenuity has been 
exercised. Shanan is not found in the earlier Tamil 
literature at all. In the inscriptions of Rajaraja Ch5la 
(A.D. 984-1013) toddy-drawers are referred to as Iluvans. 
According to Pingalandai, a dictionary of the loth or 
nth century, the names of the toddy-drawer castes are 
Palaiyar, Tuvasar, and Paduvar. To these the Chuda- 
mani Nikandu, a Tamil dictionary of the i6th century, 
adds Saundigar. Apparently, therefore, the Sanskrit 
word Saundigar must have been introduced (probably by 
the Brahmans) between the nth and i6th centuries, and 
is a Sanskrit rendering of the word Iluvan. From 
Saundigar to Shanan is nqt a long step in the corruption 
of words. The Shanans say that Shanan is derived 
from the Tamil word Sanrar or Sanror, which means the 
learned or the noble. But it does not appear that 
the Shanans were ever called Sanrar or Sanror in any of 
the Tamil works. The two words Nadan and Gramani 
mean the same thing, namely, ruler of a country or of 
a village, the former being a Tamil, and the latter a 
Sanskrit word. Nadan, on the other hand, means a 
man who lives in the country, as opposed to Uran, the 
man who resides in a village. The title of the caste is 

3^9 SHAnAn 

Nadan, and it seems most probable that It refers to the 
fact that the Iluvan ancestors of the caste lived outside 
the villages. (South Indian Inscriptions, vol. II, part 
I.) But, even if Nadan and Gramani both mean rulers, 
it does not give those who bear these titles any claim 
to be Kshatriyas. If it did, all the descendants of the 
many South Indian Poligars, or petty chiefs, would be 

The Census Superintendent, 1891, states that the 
*' Shanans are in social position usually placed only a 
little above the Pallas and the Paraiyans, and are consi- 
dered to be one of the polluting castes, but of late many 
of them have put forward a claim to be considered 
Kshatriyas, and at least 24,000 of them appear as 
Kshatriyas in the caste tables. This is, of course, 
absurd, as there is no such thing as a Dravidian Kshat- 
riya. But it is by no means certain that the Shanans 
were not at one time a warlike tribe, for we find traces 
of a military occupation among several toddy-drawing 
castes of the south, such as the Billavas (bowmen), 
Halepaik (old foot soldiers), Kumarapaik (junior foot). 
Even the Kadamba kings of Mysore are said to have 
been toddy-drawers. * The Kadamba tree appears to be 
one of the palms, from which toddy is extracted. Toddy- 
drawing is the special occupation of the several primitive 
tribes spread over the south-west of India, and bearing 
different names in various parts. They were employed 
by former rulers as foot-soldiers and bodyguards, being 
noted for their fidelity.* ' The word Shanan is ordinarily 
derived from Tamil saru, meaning toddy ; but a learned 
missionary derives it from san (a span) and nar (fibre 
or string), that is the noose, one span in length, used 

• Rice. Mysore Inscriptions, p. 33. 


by the Shanans in climbing palm-trees." The latter 
derivation is also given by Vellalas. 

It is worthy of note that the Tiyans, or Malabar 
toddy-drawers, addressione another, and are addressed 
by the lower classes as Shener, which is probably another 
form of Shanar.* 

The whole story of the claims and pretensions of the 
Shanans is set out at length in the judgment in the 
Kamudi temple case (1898) which was heard on appeal 
before the High Court of Madras. And I may appro- 
priately quote from the judgment. " There is no sort 
of proof, nothing, we may say, that even suggests a 
probability that the Shanars are descendants from the 
Kshatriya or warrior castes of Hindus, or from the 
Pandiya, Chola or Chera race of kings. Nor is there 
any distinction to be drawn between the Nadars and the 
Shanars. Shanar is the general name of the caste, just 
as Vellala and Maravar designate castes. ' Nadar ' is a 
mere title, more or less honorific, assumed by certain 
members or families of the caste, just as Brahmins are 
called Aiyars, Aiyangars, and Raos. All ' Nadars ' are 
Shanars by caste, unless indeed they have abandoned 
caste, as many of them have by becoming Christians. 
The Shanars have, as a class, from time immemorial, 
been devoted to the cultivation of the palmyra palm, and 
to the collection of the juice, and manufacture of liquor 
from it. There are no grounds whatever for regarding 
them as of Aryan origin. Their worship was a form of 
demonology, and their position in general social estima- 
tion appears to have been just above that of Pallas, 
Pariahs, and Chucklies (Chakkiliyans), who are on all 
hands regarded as unclean, and prohibited from the use 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


of the Hindu temples, and below that of Vellalas, Mara- 
vans, and other classes admittedly free to worship in 
the Hindu temples. In process of time, many of the 
Shanars took to cultivating, trade, and money-lending, 
and to-day there is a numerous and prosperous body 
of Shanars, who have no immediate concern with the 
immemorial calling of their caste. In many villages 
they own much of the land, and monopolise the bulk of 
the trade and wealth. With the increase of wealth they 
have, not unnaturally, sought for social recognition, and 
to be treated on a footing of equality in religious matters. 
The conclusion of the Sub-Judge is that, according to 
the Agama Shastras which are received as authoritative 
by worshippers of Siva in the Madura district, entry into 
a temple, where the ritual prescribed by these Shastras 
is observed, is prohibited to all those whose profession 
is the manufacture of intoxicating liquor, and the climb- 
ing of palmyra and cocoanut trees. No argument was 
addressed to us to show that this finding is incorrect, and 
we see no reason to think that it is so . . . . No 
doubt many of the Shanars have abandoned their heredi- 
tary occupation, and have won for themselves by educa- 
tion, industry and frugality, respectable positions as 
traders and merchants, and even as vakils (law pleaders) 
and clerks ; and it is natural to feel sympathy for their 
efforts to obtain social recognition, and to rise to what is 
regarded as a higher form of religious worship ; but such 
sympathy will not be increased by unreasonable and 
unfounded pretensions, and, in the effort to rise, the 
Shanars must not invade the established rights of other 
castes. They have temples of their own, and are numer- 
ous enough, and strong enough in wealth and education, 
to rise along their own lines, and without appropriating 
the institutions or infringing the rights of others, and in 
vi-24 B 

shanan 372 

so doing they will have the sympathy of all right-minded 
men, and, if necessary, the protection of the Courts." 

In a note on the Shanans, the Rev. J. Sharrock 
writes ^ that they " have risen enormously in the social 
scale by their eagerness for education, by their large 
adoption of the freedom of Christianity, and by their 
thrifty habits. Many of them have forced themselves 
ahead of the Maravars by sheer force of character. 
They have still to learn that the progress of a nation, or 
a caste, does not depend upon the interpretation of words, 
or the assumption of a title, but on the character of the' 
individuals that compose it. Evolutions are hindered 
rather than advanced by such unwise pretensions result- 
ing in violence ; but evolutions resulting from intellectual 
and social development are quite irresistible, if any caste 
will continue to advance by its own efforts in the path 
of freedom and progress." 

Writing in 1875, Bishop Caldwell remarks t that 
" the great majority of the Shanars who remain heathen 
wear their hair long ; and, if they are not allowed to 
enter the temples, the restriction to which they are 
subject is not owing to their long hair, but to their caste, 
for those few members of the caste, continuing heathens, 
who have adopted the kudumi — generally the wealthiest 
of the caste — are as much precluded from entering the 
temples as those who retain their long hairs. A large 
majority of the Christian Shanars have adopted the 
kudumi together with Christianity." 

By Regulation XI, 18 16, it was enacted that heads 
of villages have, in cases of a trivial nature, such as 
abusive language and inconsiderable assaults or affrays, 
power to confine the offending members in the village 

• Madras Mail, 1901. f 1"^. Ant., IV, 1875. 

373 SHAnAN 

choultry (lock-up) for a time not exceeding twelve 
hours ; or, if the offending parties are of the lower castes 
of the people, on whom it may not be improper to inflict 
so degrading a punishment, to order them to be put 
in the stocks for a time not exceeding six hours. In a 
case which came before the High Court it was ruled 
that by " lower castes " were probably intended those 
castes which, prior to the introduction of British rule, 
were regarded as servile. In a case which came up on 
appeal before the High Court in 1903, it was ruled that 
the Shanars belong to the lower classes, who may be 
punished by confinement in the stocks. 

With the physique of the Shanans, whom I examined 
at Nazareth and Sawyerpuram in Tinnevelly, and their 
skill in physical exercises I was very much impressed. 
The programme of sports, which were organised in my 
honour, included the following events : — 

Fencing and figure exercises with long sticks of 
iron-wood {Mesua ferrea). 

Figure exercises with sticks bearing flaming rags 
at each end. 

Various acrobatic tricks. 

Feats with heavy weights, rice-pounders, and 
pounding stones. 

Long jump. 

Breaking cocoanuts with the thrust of a knife or 
the closed fist. 

Crunching whiskey-bottle glass with the teeth. 

Running up, and butting against the chest, back, 
and shoulders. 

Swallowing a long silver chain. 

Cutting a cucumber balanced on a man's neck in 
two with a sword. 



One of the good qualities of Sir Thomas Munro, 
formerly Governor of Madras, was that, like Rama and 
Rob Roy, his arms reached to his knees, or, in other 
words, he possessed the kingly quality of an Ajanubahu, 
which is the heritage of kings, or those who have blue 
blood in them. This particular anatomical character 
I have met with myself only once, in a Shanan, whose 
height was 173 cm. and span of the arms 194 cm. 
(-f- 21 cm.). Rob Roy, it will be remembered, could, 
without stooping, tie his garters, which were placed two 
inches below the knee. 

For a detailed account of demonolatry among the 
Shanans, I would refer the reader to the Rev. R. 
(afterwards Bishop) Caldwell's now scarce ' Tinnevelly 
Shanans ' (1849), written when he was a young and impul- 
sive missionary, and the publication of which I believe 
that the learned and kind-hearted divine lived to regret. 

Those Shanans who are engaged in the palmyra 
{Borassus flabellifer) forests in extracting the juice 
of the palm-tree climb with marvellous activity and 
dexterity. There is a proverb that, if you desire to 
climb trees, you must be born a Shanan. A palmyra 
climber will, it has been calculated, go up from forty to 
fifty trees, each forty to fifty feet high, three times a day. 
The story is told by Bishop Caldwell of a man who was 
sitting upon a leaf-stalk at the top of a palmyra palm in a 
high wind, when the stalk gave way, and he came down 
to the ground safely and quietly, sitting on the leaf, which 
served the purpose of a natural parachute. Wood- 
peckers are called Shanara kurivi by birdcatchers, 
because they climb trees like Shanars. " The Hindus," 
the Rev. (afterwards Canon) A. Margoschis writes,* 

* Christianity and Caste, 1893. 


" observe a special day at the commencement of the pal- 
myra season, when the jaggery season begins. Bishop 
Caldwell adopted the custom, and a solemn service 
in church was held, when one set of all the imple- 
ments used in the occupation of palmyra-climbing was 
brought to the church, and presented at the altar. 
Only the day was changed from that observed by the 
Hindus. The perils of the palmyra-climber are great, 
and there are many fatal accidents by falling from trees 
forty to sixty feet high, so that a religious service of 
the kind was particularly acceptable, and peculiarly 
appropriate to our people." The conversion of a Hindu 
into a Christian ceremonial rite, in connection with 
the dedication of ex votos, is not devoid of interest. In 
a note * on the Pariah caste in Travancore, the Rev. 
S. Mateer narrates a legend that the Shanans are 
descended from Adi, the daughter of a Pariah woman at 
Karuvur, who taught them to climb the palm tree, and 
prepared a medicine which would protect them from 
falling from the high trees. The squirrels also ate some 
of it, and enjoy a similar immunity. 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Madura 
district, that Shanan toddy-drawers "employ Pallans, 
Paraiyans, and other low castes to help them transport 
the liquor, but Musalmans and Brahmans have, in 
several cases, sufficiently set aside the scruples enjoined 
by their respective faiths against dealings in potent 
liquor to own retail shops, and (in the case of some 
Musalmans at least) to serve their customers with their 
own hands." In a recent note,t it has been stated that 
" L.M.S. Shanar Christians have, in many cases, given 
up tapping the palmyra palm for jaggery and toddy as a 

* Journ. Roy. As. Soc, XVI. t Madras Mail, 1907. 


profession beneath them ; and their example is spread- 
ing, so that a real economic impasse is manifesting itself. 
The writer knows of one village at least, which had to 
send across the border (of Travancore) into Tinnevelly 
to procure professional tree-tappers. Consequent on 
this want of professional men, the palm trees are being 
cut down, and this, if done to any large extent, will 
impoverish the country." 

In the palmyra forests of Attitondu, in Tinnevelly, I 
came across a troop of stalwart Shanan men and boys, 
marching out towards sunset, to guard the ripening 
cholum crop through the night, each with a trained 
dog, with leash made of fibre passed through a ring on the 
neck-collar. The leash would be slipped directly the dog 
scented a wild pig, or other nocturnal marauder. Several 
of the dogs bore the marks of encounters with pigs. One 
of the party carried a musical instrument made of a 
' bison ' horn picked up in the neighbouring jungle. 

The Shanans have a great objection to being 
called either Shanan or Marameri (tree-climber), and 
much prefer Nadan. By the Shanans of Tinnevelly, 
whom I visited, the following five sub-divisions were 
returned : — 

1. Karukku-pattayar (those of the sharp sword), 
which is considered to be superior to the rest. In the 
Census Report, 1891, the division Karukku-mattai 
(petiole of the palmyra leaf with serrated edges) was 
returned. Some Shanans are said to have assumed the 
name of Karukku-mattai Vellalas. 

2. Kalla. Said to be the original servants of the 
Karukku-pattayar, doing menial work in their houses, 
and serving as palanquin-bearers. 

3. Nattati. Settled at the village of Nattati near 


4. Kodikkal. Derived from kodi, a flag. Stand- 
ard-bearers of the fighting men. According to another 
version, the word means a betel garden, in reference to 
those who were betel cultivators. 

5. Mel-natar (mel, west). Those who live in the 
western part of Tinnevelly and in Travancore. 

At the census, 1891, Konga (territorial) and 
Madurai were returned as sub-divisions. The latter 
apparently receives its name, not from the town of 
Madura, but from a word meaning sweet juice. At the 
census, 1901, Tollakkadan (man with a big hole in his 
ears) was taken as being a sub-caste of Shanan, as 
the people who returned it, and sell husked rice in 
Madras, used the title Nadan. Madura and Tinnevelly 
are eminently the homes of dilated ear-lobes. Some 
Tamil traders in these two districts, who returned 
themselves as Pandyan, were classified as Shanans, as 
Nadan was entered as their title. In Coimbatore, some 
Shanans, engaged as shop-keepers, have been known 
to adopt the name of Chetti. In Coimbatore, too, the 
title Muppan occurs. This title, meaning headman 
or elder, is also used by the Ambalakaran, Valayan, 
Sudarman, Senaikkudaiyan, and other castes. In the 
Tanjore Manual, the Shanans are divided into Tennam, 
Panam, and Ichcham, according as they tap the cocoa- 
nut, palmyra, or wild date {^Phoenix sylvestris). The 
name Enadi for Shanans is derived from Enadi Nayanar, 
a Saivite saint. But it also means a barber. 

The community has, among its members, land- 
owners, and graduates in theology, law, medicine, and 
the arts. Nine-tenths of the Native clergy in Tinne- 
velly are said to be converted Shanans, and Tinnevelly 
claims Native missionaries working in Madagascar, 
Natal, Mauritius, and the Straits. The occupations 

shAnbog 37^ 

of those whom I saw at Nazareth were merchant, culti- 
vator, teacher, village munsif, organist, cart-driver, and 

The Shanans have established a school, called Kshat- 
riya Vidyasala, at Virudupati in Tinnevelly. This is a 
free school, for attendance at which no fee is levied 
on the pupils, for the benefit of the Shanan community, 
but boys of other castes are freely admitted to it. It is 
maintained by Shanans from their mahimai fund, and 
the teachers are Brahmans, Shanans, etc. The word 
mahimai means greatness, glory, or respectability. 

Shanbog.— The Magane Shanbog takes the place, 
in South Canara, of the village Karnam or accountant. 
There are also temple Shanbogs, who are employed 
at the more important temples. When social disputes 
come up for decision at caste council meetings, the 
Shanbog appointed by the caste records the evidence, 
and the Moktessor or Mukhtesar (chief man) of the 
caste decides upon the facts. In some places in South 
Canara Shanbog is used as a synonym for Sarasvat 
Brahman. In Mysore, the Shanbog is said * to be " the 
village accountant, with hardly an exception of the 
Brahman caste. The office is hereditary. In some 
places they hold land free of rent, and in others on light 
assessment. In some few places a fixed money allow- 
ance is given. In all instances there are certain fixed 
fees payable to them in money or kind by the ryots." 

It is noted by Mr. W. Robinson, in a report on 
the Laccadive islands (1869), that "the Monegarhas the 
assistance of one of the islanders as a Karany, to take 
down depositions, and to read them, for the character 
used is the Arabic. In addition to these duties, the 

* L, Rice, Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, 


Karany has those of the Shanbogue. He keeps the 
accounts of the trees, and the coir (cocoanut fibre) in the 
islands, and makes out and delivers the accounts of coir 
brought to the coast." 

Shikari.— Shikari, meaning a sportsman or hunter, 
occurs as a synonym of Irula, and a sub-division of 
Korava. The name shikari is also applied to a Native 
who " accompanies European sportsmen as a guide and 
aid, and to the European sportsman himself." * 

Sholaga.— In his account of the Sholagas or Solagas, 
early in the last century, Buchanan t writes that they 
" speak a bad or old dialect of the Karnata language, have 
scarcely any clothing, and sleep round a fire, lying on a 
few plantain leaves, and covering themselves with others. 
They live chiefly on the summits of mountains, where the 
tigers do not frequent, but where their naked bodies are 
exposed to a disagreeable cold. Their huts are most 
wretched, and consist of bamboos with both ends stuck 
into the ground, so as to form an arch, which is covered 
with plantain leaves." The up-to-date Sholaga, who 
inhabits the jungles of Coimbatore between Dimbhum 
and Kollegal near the Mysore frontier, is clad in a 
cotton loin-cloth, supplemented by a coat of English 
pattern with regimental buttons, and smears himself 
freely on special occasions, such as a visit to the Gov- 
ernment anthropologist, with sacred ashes in mimiciy of 
the Lingayats. 

I gather from a correspondent that the following 
tradition concerning their origin is current. In days of 
yore there lived two brothers in the Geddesala hills, by 
name Karayan and Billaya or Madheswara. The Oralis 
and Sholagas are descended from Karayan, and the 

* Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson. 

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


Sivacharis (LIngayats) from Madheswara. The two 
brothers fell into the hands of a terrible Rakshasha 
(demon), by name Savanan, who made Karayan a shep- 
herd, but imprisoned Madheswara for not paying him 
sufficient respect, and extracted all kinds of menial work 
from him. Last of all he ordered him to make a pair of 
shoes, whereupon Madheswara asked for his liberty for 
a few days, to enable him to have the shoes well made. 
His request being granted, Madheswara betook himself 
to the god Krishnamurti, and asked him for his help 
in his troubles. The god was only too happy to assist, 
and suggested that the shoes should be made of wax. 
Helped by Krishnamurti, Madheswara made a very 
beautiful-looking pair of shoes. Krishnamurti then 
ordered him to pile up and light a huge bonfire on a 
bare rocky hill east of Geddesala, so as to make it nearly 
red-hot. The ashes were then cleared away, so as to 
leave no trace of their plot. Madheswara then took the 
shoes, and presented them to Savanan, who was much 
pleased with them, and willingly acceded to Madhe- 
swara's request that he would put them on, and walk 
along the rock. But, as soon as he stepped upon it, the 
shoes melted, and Savanan fell heavily on the rock, 
clutching hold of Madheswara as he fell, and trying to 
strangle him. Krishnamurti had assembled all the gods 
to witness the carrying out of the plot, and, telling each 
of them to pile a stone on Savana's head, himself rescued 
Madheswara from his clutches, and all jumped upon the 
Rakshasha till no trace of him was left. While this was 
going on, Karayan was tending Savanan's herds in the 
forest, and, when he came to hear about it, was angry 
with his brother for not consulting him before destroy- 
ing Savanan. Flying from Karayan, who was armed 
with a knife, Madheswara implored Krishnamurti's 


help, by which he was able to leap from Kotriboli to 
the hill called Urugamalai, a distance of some ten miles. 
The force of the leap caused the hill to bend — hence 
its name meaning the bending hill. Finding that 
the hill was bending, and being still hotly pursued by 
his brother, knife in hand, Madheswara again appealed 
to Krishnamurti, and was enabled to make another 
leap of about five miles to a hill called Eggaraimalai, 
which immediately began to subside. Hence its 
name, meaning the subsiding hill. Thence he fled to 
Munikanal, and concealed himself under a rock, closely 
followed by Karayan, who slashed the rock with his 
knife, and left marks which are visible to this day. 
From Munikanal he fled to the hill now known as 
Madheswaranamalai, and hid in a rat hole. Karayan, 
not being able to unearth him, sent for a lot of shep- 
herds, and made them pen their sheep and cattle over 
the hole. The effluvium became too strong for the 
fugitive, so he surrendered himself to his brother, who 
pardoned him on the understanding that, on deifi- 
cation, Karayan should have prior claim to all votive 
offerings. To this Madheswara agreed, and to this day 
Sivacharis, when doing puja, first make their offerings to 
Karayan and afterwards to Madheswara. In connection 
with this legend, any one proceeding to the top of Kotri- 
boli hill at the present day is expected to place a stone 
upon the rock, with the result that there are many piles 
of stones there. Even Europeans are asked to do this. 
The Sholagas are said to call themselves men of five 
kulams, or exogamous septs, among which are Chalikiri, 
Teneru, Belleri, Surya (the sun), and Aleru. By mem- 
bers of the twelve kulam class, everything is done by 
twelves. For example, on the twelfth day after a birth, 
twelve elders are invited to the house to bless the child. 


At a marriage, twelve of the bridegroom's relations go 
and fetch the bride, and the wedding pandal (booth) 
has twelve posts. The parents of the bridegroom pay 
twelve rupees to the bride's father, and a tali Cmarriao-e 
badge) worth twelve annas is tied round the bride's neck. 
In case of death, the body is borne on a stretcher made 
of twelve bamboos, and mourning lasts for twelve days. 
Tribal disputes, e.g., quarrelling and adultery, are 
decided by the Yejamana, assisted by a Pattagara and a 
few leading men of the community. Under the orders 
of the two former is the Chalavathi or village servant. 
The Yejamana, Pattagara, and Chalavathi must belong 
respectively to the Chalikiri, Teneri, and Surya septs. 

When a girl reaches puberty, she occupies a separate 
hut for five days, and then returns home after a bath. 
The maternal uncle should present her with a new cloth, 
betel leaves and areca nuts, and plantain fruits. In the 
formal marriage ceremony, the tali is tied by the bride- 
groom inside a booth ; the maternal uncle, if he can afford 
it, presents a new cloth to the bride, and a feast is held. 
Sometimes even this simple rite is dispensed with, and 
the couple, without any formality, live together as man 
and wife, on the understanding that, at some time, a feast 
must be given to a few of the community. I am told 
that the Sholagas of the Burghur hills have a very extra- 
ordinary way of treating expectant mothers. A few days 
before the event is expected to take place, the husband 
takes his wife right away into the jungle, and leaves 
her there alone with three days' supply of food. There 
she has to stay, and do the best she can for herself. If 
she does not come back at the end of the three days, the 
husband goes out and takes her more food. But she 
may not return to her village till the baby is born. 
When one of these unfortunate creatures comes back 


safely, there is a great celebration in her honour, with 
beating of tom-tom, etc. 

The dead are buried with the body lying on its left 
side, and the head to the south. On their return home 
from a funeral, those who have been present thereat 
salute a lighted lamp. On the spot where the dead 
person breathed his last, a little ragi [Eleusine Coracana) 
paste and water are placed, and here, on the fourth day, 
a goat is sacrificed, and offered up to the soul of the 
departed. After this the son proceeds to the burial 
ground, carrying a stone, and followed by men selected 
from each of the exogamous septs. Arrived near the 
grave, they sit down, while the son places the stone on 
the ground, and they then lift it in succession. The last 
man to do so is said to fall into a trance. On his 
recovery, leaves (plantain, teak, etc.) corresponding in 
number to the exogamous septs, are arranged round the 
stone, and, on each leaf, different kinds of food are placed. 
The men partake of the food, each from the leaf allotted 
to his sept. The meal concluded, the son holds the 
stone in his hands, while his companions pour ragi and 
water over it, and then carries it away to the gopamane 
(burial-ground) of his sept, and sets it up there. 

On the occasion of a death in a Mala Vellala village, 
the Sholagas come in crowds, with clarionets and drums, 
and bells on their legs, and dance in front of the house. 
And the corpse is borne, in musical procession, to the 

The staple food of the Sholagas is ragi paste and 
yams {Dioscorea), which, like the Uralis, they supplement 
by sundry jungle animals and birds. Paroquets they 
will not eat, as they regard them as their children. 

Their main occupation is to collect minor forest 
produce, myrabolams, vembadam bark [Ventilago 


madraspatana), avaram bark (Cassia auriculata), deers' 
horns, tamarinds, gum, honey, soap-nuts, sheekoy {Acacia 
Concinna), etc. The forests have been divided into 
blocks, and a certain place within each block has been 
selected for the forest depot. To this place the collecting 
agents, mostly Sholagas and Uralis, bring the produce, 
and there it is sorted and paid for by special supervisors 
appointed for the work. 

In the Coimbatore district the Sholagas are said 
to collect honey from rocky crevices. The combs are 
much larger than those found on trees, and are supposed 
to contain twice as much wax in proportion to the honey. 
On the Nilgiri hills honey-combs are collected by Jen 
Kurumbas and Sholagas. The supply of honey varies 
according to the nature of the season, and is espe- 
cially plentiful and of good quality when Strobilanthes 
Wigktianus, S. Kuntkiana, and other species are in 

It has been said that even wild beasts will scent a 
Sholaga, and flee before the aroma. 

The Sholagas, who were examined by Dr. Rivers 
and myself, came to the conclusion that the object of our 
enquiry was to settle them in a certain place near 
London, and that the wools of different colours (used for 
testing colour vision) given to them for selection, 
were for tying them captive with. Others said that they 
could not understand why the different organs of their 
bodies were measured ; perhaps to reduce or increase the 
size of their body to suit the different works, which they 
were expected to do near London. It has been pointed 
out to me, as an interesting fact, that a similarity of 
idea concerning the modification of different organs to 
suit men for the doing of special work has been arrived 
at by the jungle folk, and by Mr. Wells in his book. 



* The first men in the moon,' where the lunar inhabitants 
are described as carrying on the practice. 

Of the experiences of a Sholaga when out with a 
European on a shooting expedition, the following account 
has recently been given.* " My husband was after a 
bear, and tracked Bruin to his cave. He had torches 
made, and these he ordered to be thrust into the cave 
in the hope of smoking the bear out, but, as nothing 
happened, he went into the cave, accompanied by a 
Sholigar carrying a torch. As soon as they got used to 
the light, they saw a small aperture leading into an inner 
cave, and the Sholigar was told to put the torch in 
there. Hardly was this done, when out rushed a large 
bear, knocking over the Sholigar, and extinguishing the 
torch. My husband could not get his gun up in time to 
fire, as the bear rushed through the cave into the jungle. 
Just as the Sholigar was picking himself up, out rushed 
'another bear. This time my husband was ready, and 
fired. To the Sholigar's horror. Bruin sank down 
wounded at the entrance to the outer cave, thus blocking 
the exit, and keeping both tracker and my husband 
prisoners. The Sholigar began whimpering, saying he 
was the father of a large family, and did not wish to 
leave the children fatherless. Soon the bear, though 
very badly wounded, managed to get to its feet, and 
crawl away into the jungle, so liberating the prisoners." 

Concerning the Sholagas of the Mysore Province,! I 
gather that they " inhabit the depths of the forests cloth- 
ing the foot and slopes of the Biligirirangam hills. They 
cultivate with the hoe small patches of jungle clearings. 
Their chief god is Biligiri Rangasvami, but they also 
worship Karaiyya, their tribal tutelary deity. Their 

* Madras Mail, 1907. f Mysore Census Report, 1891. 



principal food is the ragi, which they grow, supplemented 
by wild forest produce. They are partial to the flesh of 
deer, antelope, pigs, sheep and goats. A few of them 
have, in recent years, come to own lands. Like the 
Jenu Kurumbas, they are perfect trackers of wild animals. 
Three kinds of marriage prevail among them. The first 
is affected by the more well-to-do, who perform the 
ceremony with much eclat under a shed with twelve 
pillars (bamboo posts), accompanied by music and festi- 
vities, which continue for three days. The second is 
more common, and seems to be a modified form of 
concubinage. The poorer members resort to the third 
kind, which consists in the couple eloping to a distant 
jungle, and returning home only after the bride has 
become a mother. They speak a patois, allied to old 
Canarese or Hale Kannada."* 

Shola Naiker.— A synonym of Jen Kurumbas in 
the Wynad. 

Sibbi Dhompti (brass vessel offering). — A sub- 
division of Madigas, who, at marriages, offer food to the 
afod in brass vessels. 

Siddaru.— A synonym of Jogi mendicants. 
Sika (kudumi or hair-knot). — An exogamous sept of 

Sikili (broom). — An exogamous sept of Madiga. 
Sikligar.-^In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
eleven individuals are returned as belonging to an Upper 
India caste of knife-grinders (Sikligar). In the Madura 
Manual, Sikilkarars are described as knife-grinders, who 
wander about in quest of work from village to village. 
Sila (stone). — An exogamous sept of Omanaito. 
Silam (good conduct). — An exogamous sept of Mala. 

Mysore Census Report, 1891, 


Silavant. — In the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
Silavant is recorded as meaning the virtuous, and as 
being a sub-sect of Lingayats. In the Mysore Census 
Report, Silavanta is given as a name for Lingayat 
Nayindas. For the following note on the Silavantalu or 
Silevantalu of Vizagapatam, I am indebted to Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao. 

They are a sect of Lingayats, who, though they do 
not admit it, appear to be an offshoot of Pattu Sales, who 
became converts to the Lingayat religion. They are 
engaged in the manufacture of fine cloths for males and 
females. The religious observances which secured them 
their name, meaning those who practice or possess 
particular religious customs, have been thus described. 
In the seventh month of pregnancy, at the time of quick- 
ening, a small stone linga is enclosed in black lac, 
wrapped in a piece of silk cloth, and tied to the thread 
of the linga which is on the woman's neck. The child 
is thus invested with the linga while still in utero. 
When it is about a year old, and weaned, the linga is 
taken off the mother's neck, and replaced by a silver 
locket. The linga is tied on the neck of the child. At 
the beginning of the twelfth year in the case of boys, 
and just before the marriage of girls, this linga is taken 
off, and a fresh one suspended round the neck by a guru. 

The Silavantalu are divided into exogamous septs, or 
intiperulu. The custom of menarikam, whereby a man 
marries his maternal uncle's daughter, is the rule. But, 
if the maternal uncle has no daughter, he must find a 
suitable bride for his nephew. Girls are married before 
puberty, and a Jangam, known as Mahesvara, officiates 
at weddings. 

The dead are buried in a sitting posture, facing 
north. The linga is suspended round the neck of the 
vi-25 B 

SILPA 388 

corpse, and buried with it. Six small copper plates are 
made, each containing a syllable of the invocation Om 
na ma Si va ya. Two of these are placed on the thighs 
of the corpse, one on the head, one on the navel, and 
two on the shoulders, and stuck on with guggilam paste. 
The corpse is then tied up in a sack. The relatives 
offer flowers to it, and burn camphor before it. The 
grave is dug several feet deep, and a cavity or cell is 
made on the southern side of it, and lined with bamboo 
matting. The corpse is placed within the cell, and salt 
thrown into the grave before it is filled in. A Jangam 
officiates at the funeral. Monthly and annual death 
ceremonies are performed. A samathi or monument is 
erected over the grave. Such a monument may be either 
in the form of a square mound (brindavan) with niches 
for lights and a hole in the top, in which a tulsi {Ocimum 
sanctum) is planted, or in the form of a small chamber. 
Relations go occasionally to the grave, whereon they 
deposit flowers, and place lights in the niches or chamber. 

The Silavantalu are strict vegetarians and total 
abstainers. Their titles are Ayya and Lingam. 

Silpa (artisan). — A sub-division of the Kammalans, 
Panchalas or Kamsalas, whose hereditary occupation is 
that of stone-masons. In the Silpa Sastra, the measure- 
ments necessary in sculpture, the duties of a Silpi, etc., 
are laid down. I am informed that the carver of a stone 
idol has to select a male or female stone, according as 
the idol is to be a god or goddess, and that the sex of 
a stone can be determined by its ring when struck. 

Sindhu. — The Sindhuvallu (drummers) are Madigas, 
who go about acting scenes from the Ramayana or 
Mahabharatha, and the story of Ankamma. Sindhu also 
occurs as a gotra of Kurni. The beating of the drum 
called sindhu is, I gather, sometimes a nuisance, for a 

389 sirpAdam 

missionary writes to the paper enquiring whether there 
is any order of Government against it, as the practice 
"causes much crime, and creates extra work for police 
and magistrates. Village officials believe they have no 
authority to suppress it, but there are some who assert 
that it is nominally forbidden." 

Singamu-vai'U.^Singam is described, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as a class of beggars, who beg 
only from Sales. They are, however, described by Mr. 
C. Hayavadana Rao as a class of itinerant mendicants 
attached to the Devangas. " The name," he writes, " is a 
variant of Simhamu-varu, or lion-men, i.e.^ as valourous 
as a lion. They are paid a small sum annually by each 
Devanga village for various services which they render, 
such as carrying fire before a Devanga corpse to the 
burial-ground, acting as caste messengers, and cleaning 
the weaving instruments." 

Sinnata (gold). — An exogamous sept of Kuruba. 
Siolo. — A small class of Oriya toddy-drawers, whose 
touch conveys pollution. The Sondis, who are an Oriya 
caste of toddy-sellers, purchase their liquor from the 

Sipiti.—- The Sipitis are described, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as " Oriya temple priests and 
drummers ; a sub-caste of Ravulo." In an account of 
them as given to me, they are stated to be Smartas, and 
temple priests of village deities, who wear the sacred 
thread, but do not employ Brahmans as purohits, and are 
regarded as somewhat lower in the social scale than the 
Ravulos. Some of their females are said to have been 
unrecognised prostitutes, but the custom is dying out. 
The caste title is Muni. i^See Ravulo.) 
Sir.— A sub-division of Kanakkan. 
Sirpadam.— A sub-division of Kaikolan. 


Sirukudi.— "A nadu or territorial division of Kalian. 

Siru Tali.— The name, indicating those who wear a 
small tali (marriage badge), of a sub-division of Kaikolan 
and Maravan. 

Sitikan.— Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as an occupational sub-division of Maran. 

Sitra.— 5*^^ Pano. 

Siva Brahmana.— Recorded as a synonym of 

Sivachara.—- It is noted, in the Mysore Census 
Report, 1901, that the Lingayats call themselves "Vira 
Saivas, Sivabhaktas, or Sivachars. The Virasaiva reli- 
gion consists of numerous castes. It is a religion 
consisting of representatives from almost every caste 
in Hindu society. People of all castes, from the high- 
est to the lowest, have embraced the religion. There 
are Sivachar Brahmins, Sivachar Kshatriyas, Sivachar 
Vaisyas, Sivachar carpenters, Sivachar weavers, Sivachar 
goldsmiths, Sivachar potters, Sivachar washermen, and 
Sivachar barbers, and other low castes who have all 
folio w^ed the popular religion in large numbers." 

Sivadvija.— The name, denoting Saivite Brahman, 
by which Mussads like to be called. Also recorded as 
a synonym of Stanika. 

Sivaratri.— An exogamous sept of Odde, named 
after the annual Mahasivaratri festival in honour of Siva. 
Holy ashes, sacred to Siva, prepared by Smartas on this 
day, are considered to be very pure. 

Sivarchaka.— The word means those who do puja 
(worship) to Siva. Priests at the temple of village 
deities are ordinarily known as Pujari, Pusali, Occhan, 
etc., but nowadays prefer the title of Umarchaka or 
Sivarchaka. The name Sivala occurs in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901. 


Siviyar.— Siviyar means literally a palanquin-bearer, 
and is an occupational name applied to those employed 
in that capacity. For this reason a sub-division of the 
Idaiyans is called Siviyar. The Siviyars of Coimbatore 
say that they have no connection with either Idaiyans or 
Toreyas, but are Besthas who emigrated from Mysore 
during the troublous times of the Muhammadan usurpa- 
tion. The name Siviyar is stated to have been given to 
them by the Tamils, as they were palanquin-bearers to 
officers on circuit and others in the pre-railway days. 
They claim origin, on the authority of a book called 
Parvatharaja Charithum, from Parvatharaja. Their main 
occupations at the present day are tank and river fish- 
ing, but some are petty traders, physicians, peons, etc. 
Their language is Canarese, and their title Naickan. 
They have eighteen marriage divisions or gotras, named 
after persons from whom the various gotras are said to 
have been descended. On occasions of marriage, when 
betel leaf is distributed, it must be given to members of 
the different gotras in their order of precedence. In 
cases of adultery, the guilty parties are tied to a post, 
and beaten with tamarind switches. When a grown-up 
but unmarried person dies, the corpse is made to go 
through a mock marriage with a human figure cut out 
of a palm leaf. 

Sodabisiya.— A sub-division of Domb. 
Soi.— A title of Doluva. It is a form of Sui or 

Solaga.— 5^^ Sholaga. 

Soliyan.-— Soliyan or Soliya is a territorial name, 
meaning an inhabitant of the Chola country, recorded as 
a sub-division of Karnam, Idaiyan, Pallan, and Vellala. 
The equivalent Solangal occurs as an exogamous sept 
of Vallamban, and Soliya illam (Malayalam, house) as 


an exogamous sept of Panikkans In the Tamil country. 
Some Pallis style themselves Solakanar (descendants of 
Chola kings), or Solakula Kshatriya. {See Sozhia.) 

Somakshatri.-— A name sometimes adopted by 
Canarese Ganigas in South Canara. 

Somara. — Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, as a small class of potters in the Vizagapatam 

S6mari (idler). — A division of Yanadis, who do 
scavenging work, and eat the refuse food thrown away 
by people from the leaf plate after a meal. 

Soma Varada (Sunday). — The name of Kurubas 
who worship their god on Sundays. 

Sonagan.— 5^^ Jonagan. 

Sonar.— The Sonars or Sonagaras of South Canara 
are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart * as a goldsmith caste, 
who " speak Konkani, which is a dialect of Marathi, and 
are believed to have come from Goa. The community 
at each station has one or two Mukhtesars or headmen, 
who enquire into, and settle the caste affairs. Serious 
offences are reported to the swamy of Sode, who has 
authority to excommunicate, or to inflict heavy fines. 
They wear the sacred thread. Marriages within the 
same gotra are strictly prohibited. Most of them are 
Vaishnavites, but a few follow Siva. The dead are 
burned, and the ashes are thrown into a river. They eat 
fish, but not flesh. Their title is Setti." They consider 
it derogatory to work in metals other than gold and 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Sunnari (or 
Sonnari) are described as Oriya goldsmiths {see Risley, 
Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Sonar). These goldsmiths, 

* Manual of the South Canara district. 

393 SONAR 

in the Orlya portion of the Madras Presidency, are, I am 
informed, Kamsalas from the Telugu country. Unlike 
the Oriyas, and like other Telugu classes, they invariably 
have a house-name, and their mother tongue is Telugu, 
They are Saivites, bury their dead, claim to be 
descendants of Viswakarma, and call themselves Viswa 
Brahmans. They do not eat meals prepared by Brah- 
mans, or drink water at the hands of Brahmans. 

In former times, goldsmiths held the post of 
Nottakaran (tester) or village shroff (money-changer). 
His function was to test the rupees tendered when the 
land revenue was being gathered in, and see that they 
were not counterfeit. There is a proverb, uncompli- 
mentary to the goldsmiths, to the effect that a goldsmith 
cannot make an ornament even for his wife, without 
first secreting some of the gold or silver given him for 
working upon. 

It has been noted * that " in Madras, an exceedingly 
poor country, there is one male goldsmith to every 408 
of the total population ; in England, a very rich country, 
there is only one goldsmith to every 1,200 inhabitants. 
In Europe, jewellery is primarily for ornament, and is 
a luxury. In India it is primarily an investment, its 
ornamental purpose being an incident." 

The South Indian goldsmith at work has been well 
described as follows. t "A hollow, scooped out in the 
middle of the mud floor (of a room or verandah), does 
duty for the fireplace, while, close by, there is raised a 
miniature embankment, semi-circular in shape, with a 
hole in the middle of the base for the insertion of the 
bellows. Crucibles of clay or cow-dung, baked hard in 
the sun, tongs and hammers, potsherds of charcoal, dirty 

• Madras Census Report, i88l, 

t A Native. Pen-and-ink Sketches of Native Life in Southern India, 1880. 

SONDI 394 

tins of water, and little packets of sal-ammoniac, resin, 
or other similar substances, all lie scattered about the 
floor in picturesque confusion. Sitting, or rather crouch- 
ing on their haunches, are a couple of the Panchala 
workmen. One of them is blowing a pan of charcoal 
into flame through an iron tube some eighteen inches 
long by one in diameter, and stirring up the loose char- 
coal. Another is hammering at a piece of silver wire on 
a little anvil before him. With his miserable tools the 
Hindu goldsmith turns out work that well might, and 
often deservedly does, rank with the greatest triumphs of 
the jeweller's art." 

Sondi.— The Sondis or Sundis are summed up in 
the Madras Census Report, 1901, as '' Oriya toddy- 
selling caste. They do not draw toddy themselves, but 
buy it from Siolos, and sell it. They also distill arrack." 
The word arrack or arak, it may be noted en passant^ 
means properly " perspiration, and then, first the exuda- 
tion of sap drawn from the date-palm ; secondly, any 
strong drink, distilled spirit, etc." * A corruption of the 
word is rack, which occurs, e.g., in rack punch. 

According to a Sanskrit work, entitled Parasara- 
paddati, Soundikas (toddy-drawers and distillers of 
arrack) are the offspring of a Kaivarata male and a 
Gaudike female. Both these castes are pratiloma (mixed) 
castes. In the Matsya Purana, the Soundikas are said 
to have been born to Siva of seven Apsara women on 
the bank of the river Son. Manu refers to the Soundikas, 
and says that a Snataka f may not accept food from 
trainers of hunting dogs, Soundikas, a washerman, a 
dyer, pitiless man, and a man in whose house lives a 
paramour of his wife. 

* Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson. 

t A Snataka is a Brahman, who has just finished his student's career. 

395 SONDI 

In a note on the allied Sunris or Sundis of Bengal, 
Mr. Risley writes* that "according to Hindu ideas, 
distillers and sellers of strong drink rank among the 
most degraded castes, and a curious story in the Vaivarta 
Purana keeps alive the memory of their degradation. It 
is said that when Sani, the Hindu Saturn, failed to adapt 
an elephant's head to the mutilated trunk of Ganesa, 
who had been accidently beheaded by Siva, Viswa- 
karma, the celestial artificer, was sent for, and by careful 
dissection and manipulation he fitted the incongruous 
parts together, and made a man called Kedara Sena 
from the slices cut off in fashioning his work. This 
Kedara Sena was ordered to fetch a drink of water for 
Bhagavati, .weary and athirst. Finding on the river's 
bank a shell full of water, he presented it to her, without 
noticing that a few grains of rice left in it by a parrot 
had fermented and formed an intoxicating liquid. 
Bhagavati, as soon as she had drunk, became aware of 
the fact, and in her anger condemned the offender to 
the vile and servile occupation of making spirituous 
liquor for mankind. Another story traces their origin to 
a certain Bhaskar or Bhaskar Muni, who was created by 
Krishna's brother, Balaram, to minister to his desire for 
strong drink. A different version of the same legend 
gives them for ancestor Niranjan, a boy found by Bhaskar 
floating down a river in a pot full of country liquor, and 
brought up by him as a distiller." 

For the following note on the Sondis of Vizagapatam, 
I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. According 
to a current tradition, there was, in days of old, a 
Brahman, who was celebrated for his magical powers. 
The king, his patron, asked him if he could make the 

• Tribes and Castes of Bengal. 

SONDI 396 

water in a tank (pond) burn, and he replied In the 
affirmative. He was, however, in reality disconsolate, 
because he did not know how to do it. By chance he 
met a distiller, who asked him why he looked so troubled, 
and, on learning his difficulty, promised to help him on 
condition that he gave him his daughter in marriage. 
To this the Brahman consented. The distiller gave 
him a quantity of liquor to pour into the tank, and 
told him to set It alight in the presence of the king. 
The Brahman kept his word, and the Sondis are the 
descendants of the offspring of his daughter and the 
distiller. The caste is divided Into several endogamous 
divisions, viz., Bodo Odiya, Madhya kula, and Sanno 
kula. The last is said to be made up of illegitimate 
descendants of the two first divisions. 

The Sondis distil liquor from the ippa (Bassia) 
flower, rice, and jaggery (crude sugar). There is a 
tradition that Brahma created the world, and pinched up 
from a point between his eyebrows a little mud, from 
which he made a figure, and endowed It with life. Thus 
Suka Muni was created, and authorised to distil spirit 
from the ippa flowers, which had hitherto been eaten 
by birds. 

When a girl reaches puberty, she Is set apart in a 
room within a square enclosure made with four arrows 
connected together by a thread. Turmeric and oil are 
rubbed over her daily, and, on the seventh day, she visits 
the local shrine. 

Girls are married before puberty. Some days before 
a wedding, a sal (Shorea robusia) or neredu (Eugenia 
Jambolana) post is set up In front of the bridegroom's 
house, and a pandal (booth) erected round It. On the 
appointed day, a caste feast is held, and a procession of 
males proceeds to the bride's house, carrying with them 

397 SONDI 

finger rings, silver and glass bangles, and fifty rupees 
as the jholla tonka (bride price). On the following day, 
the bride goes to the house of the bridegroom. On the 
marriage day, the contracting couple go seven times 
round the central post of the pandal, and their hands are 
joined by the presiding Oriya Brahman. They then sit 
down, and the sacred fire is raised. The females belong- 
ing to the bridegroom's party sprinkle them with turmeric 
and rice. On the following day, a Bhondari (barber) 
cleans the pandal, and draws patterns in it with rice 
flour. A mat is spread, and the couple play with cowry 
shells. These are five in number, and the bridegroom 
holds them tightly in his right hand,^ while the bride tries 
to wrest them from him. If she succeeds in so doing, her 
brothers beat the bridegroom, and make fun of him ; 
if she fails, the bridegroom's sisters beat and make fun 
of her. The bride then takes hold of the cowries, and 
the same performance is gone through. A basket of 
rice is brought, and some of it poured into a vessel. 
The bridegroom holds a portion of it in his hand, and 
the bride asks him to put it back. This, after a little 
coaxing, he consents to do. These ceremonies are 
repeated during the next five days. On the seventh 
day, small quantities of food are placed on twelve leaves, 
and twelve Brahmans, who receive a present of money, 
sit down, and partake thereof. The marriage of widows 
is permitted, and a younger brother may marry the 
widow of an elder brother. 

The dead are burned, and death pollution lasts for 
ten days. Daily, during this period, cooked food is 
strewed on the way leading to the burning-ground. 
On the eleventh day, those under pollution bathe, and 
the sacred fire (homam) is raised by a Brahman. As at 
a wedding, twelve Brahmans receive food and money. 

SONDI 398 

Towards midnight, a new pot is brought, and holes are 
bored in it. A Hghted lamp and food are placed in 
it, and it is taken towards the burning-ground and set 
down on the ground. The dead man's name is then 
called out three times. He is informed that food is 
ready, and asked to come. 

Men, but not women, eat animal food. The women 
will not partake of the remnants of their husbands' 
meal on days on which they eat meat, because, according 
to the legend, their female ancestor was a Brahman 

Among the Sondis of Ganjam, if a girl does not secure 
a husband before she reaches maturity, she goes through 
a form of marriage with an old man of the caste, or with 
her elder sister's husband, and may not marry until the 
man with whom she has performed this ceremony dies. 
On the wedding day, the bridegroom is shaved, and his 
old waist-thread is replaced by a new one. The cere- 
monies commence with the worship of Ganesa, and 
agree in the main with those of many other Oriya castes. 
The remarriage of widows is permitted. If a widow 
was the wife of the first-born or eldest son in a family, 
she may not, after his death, marry one of his younger 
brothers. She may, however, do so if she was married 
in the first instance to a second son. 

It is noted by Mr. C. F. MacCartie, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1881, that " a good deal of land has been 
sold by Khond proprietors to other castes. It was in 
this way that much territory was found some years ago 
to be passing into the hands of the Sundis or professional 
liquor distillers. As soon as these facts were brought 
to the notice of Government, no time was lost in the 
adoption of repressive measures, which have been com- 
pletely successful, as the recent census shows a great 

399 SONDI 

reduction in the numbers of these Sundis, who, now that 
their unscrupulous trade is abolished, have emigrated 
largely to Boad and other tracts. This is the only case 
to my knowledge in which a special trade has decayed, 
and with the best results, as, had it not been so, there is 
no doubt that the Khond population would very soon 
have degenerated into pure adscripti glebes, and the 
Sundis become the landlords." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam 
district, that "besides ippa (liquor distilled from the 
blossom of Bassia latifolia), the hill people brew beer 
from rice, samai (the millet Panicum miliare), and ragi 
i^Eleusine Coracana). They mash the grain in the 
ordinary manner, add some more water to it, mix a small 
quantity of ferment with it, leave it to ferment three or 
four days, and then strain off the grain. The beer so 
obtained is often highly intoxicating, and different kinds 
of it go by different names, such as londa, pandiyam, and 
maddikallu. The ferment which is used is called the 
saraiya-mandu (spirit drug) or Sondi-mandu (Sondi's 
drug), and can be bought in the weekly market. There 
are numerous recipes for making it, but the ingredients 
are always jungle roots and barks."^ It is sold made up 
into small balls with rice. The actual shop-keepers 
and still-owners in the hills, especially in the Parvatipur 
and Palkonda agencies, are usually immigrants of the 
Sondi caste, a wily class who know exactly how to take 
advantage of the sin which doth so easily beset the 
hill man, and to wheedle from him, in exchange for 
the strong drink which he cannot do without, his ready 
money, his little possessions, his crops, and finally his 
land itself. 

* A very complicated recipe is given in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, 
1869, p. 264. 

SONDI 400 

The Sondis are gradually getting much of the best 
land into their hands, and many of the guileless hill ryots 
into their power. Mr. Taylor stated in 1892 that 'the 
rate of interest on loans extorted by these Sondis is 100 
per cent, and, if this is not cleared off in the first year, 
compound interest at 100 per cent, is charged on the 
balance. The result is that, in many instances, the 
cultivators are unable to pay in cash or kind, and 
become the gotis or serfs of the sowcars, for whom they 
have to work in return for mere batta (subsistence 
allowance), whilst the latter take care to manipulate 
their accounts in such a manner that the debt is never 
paid off. A remarkable instance of this tyranny was 
brought to my notice a few days since. A ryot some 
fifty years ago borrowed Rs. 20 ; he paid back Rs. 50 at 
intervals, and worked for the whole of his life, and died 
in harness. For the same debt the sowcar (money- 
lender) claimed the services of his son, and he too died 
in bondage, leaving two small sons aged 1 3 and 9, whose 
services were also claimed for an alleged arrear of 
Rs. 30 on a debt of Rs. 20 borrowed 50 years back, for 
which Rs. 50 in cash had been repaid in addition to the 
perpetual labour of a man for a similar period.' This 
custom of goti is firmly established, and, in a recent 
case, an elder brother claimed to be able to pledge for 
his own debts the services of his younger brother, and 
even those of the latter's wife. Debts due by persons of 
respectability are often collected by the Sondis by an 
exasperating method, which has led to at least one case 
of homicide. They send Ghasis, who are one of the 
lowest of all castes, and contact with whom is utter defile- 
ment entailing severe caste penalties, to haunt the house 
of the debtor who will not pay, insult and annoy him and 
his family, and threaten to drag him forcibly before the 


Sondi." A friend was, on one occasion, out after big 
game in the Jeypore hills, and shot a tiger. He asked 
his shikari (tracker) what reward he should give him for 
putting him on to the beast. The shikari replied that he 
would be quite satisfied with twenty-five rupees, as he 
wanted to get his younger brother out of pledge. Asked 
what he meant, he replied that, two years previously, he 
had purchased as his wife a woman who belonged to a 
caste higher than his own for a hundred rupees. He 
obtained the money by pledging his younger brother to 
a sowcar, and had paid it all back except twenty-five 
rupees. Meanwhile his brother was the bondsman of 
the sowcar, and cultivating his land in return for simple 

It is further recorded, in the Gazetteer of the 
Vizagapatam district, that Dombu (or Domb) dacoits 
" force their way into the house of some wealthy 
person (for choice the local Sondi liquor-seller and 
sowcar — usually the only man worth looting in an 
Agency village, and a shark who gets little pity 
from his neighbours when forced to disgorge), tie up 
the men, rape the women, and go off with everything 
of value." 

The titles of the Ganjam Sondis are Behara, 
Chowdri, Podhano, and Sahu. In the Vizagapatam 
agency tracts, their title is said to be Bissoyi. 

Sonkari.-— The Sonkaris are a small class of Oriya 
lac bangle (sonka) makers in Ganjam and Vizagapatam., 
who should not be confused with the Telugu Sunkaris. 
The men are engaged in agriculture, and the women 
manufacture the bangles, chains, chamaras (fly-flappers), 
kolatam sticks (for stick play), and fans ornamented 
with devices in paddy (unhusked rice) grains, which are 
mainly sold to Europeans as curios. 


Sonkari girls are married before puberty. A man 
should marry his paternal aunt's daughter, but at the 
present day this custom is frequently disregarded. 
Brahmans officiate at their marriages. The dead are 
cremated. The caste title is Patro. 

Sonkuva.— A sub-division of Mali. 

Sonti (dried ginger). — An exogamous sept of Asili. 

Soppu (leaf). — The name for Koragas, who wear 
leafy garments. 

Sozhia.— A territorial name of sub-divisions of 
various Tamil classes who are settled in what was 
formerly the Ch5la country, e.g.^ Brahman, Chetti, 
Kaikolan, Kammalan, Pallan, and Vellala. 

Srishti Karnam.-~A sub-division of Karnam. The 
name is variously spelt, e.g., Sristi, Sishta, Sishti. The 
name Sishti Karanamalu is said to have been assumed 
by Oddilu, who have raised themselves in life.* 

Stala (a place). — Lingayats sometimes use the word 
Staladavaru, or natives of a place, to distinguish them 
from recent settlers. 

Stanika.— The Stanikas are summed up, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as being " Canarese 
temple servants. They claim to be Brahmans, though 
other Brahmans do not admit the claim ; and, as the 
total of the caste has declined from 4,650 in 1891 to 1,469, 
they have apparently returned themselves as Brahmans 
in considerable numbers." The Stanikas are, in the 
South Canara Manual, said to be "the descendants of 
Brahmins by Brahmin widows and outcast Brahmin 
women, corresponding with Manu's Golaka. They 
however now claim to be Siva Brahmins, forcibly dis- 
possessed of authority by the Madhvas, and state that 

• Rev. J. Cain, Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. 


the name Stanika is not that of a separate caste, but 
indicates their profession as managers of temples, with 
the title of Deva Stanika. This claim is not generally- 
conceded, and as a matter of fact the duties in which 
Stanikas are employed are clearly those of temple 
servants, namely, collecting flowers, sweeping the 
interiors of temples, looking after the lamps, cleaning 
the temple vessels, ringing bells, and the like. Many 
of them, however, are landowners and farmers. They 
are generally Sivites, and wear the sacred thread. Their 
special deities are Venkatramana and Ganapati. Dravida 
Brahmins officiate as their priests, but of late some 
educated men of the caste have assumed the priestly 
office. The caste has two sub-divisions, viz., Subra- 
mania and Kumbla. Girls must be married in infancy, 
i.e., before they attain puberty. Widow remarriage is 
neither permitted nor practiced. Their other customs 
are almost the same as those of the Kota Brahmans. 
They neither eat flesh nor drink liquor." It is stated 
in the Manual that the Stanikas are called Shanbogs 
and Mukhtesars. But I am informed that at an inquest 
or a search the Moktessors or Mukhtesars (chief 
men) of a village are assembled, and sign the inquest 
report or search list. The Moktessors of any caste 
can be summoned together. Some of the Moktessors of 
a temple may be Stanikas. In the case of social dis- 
putes decided at caste meetings, the Shanbog (writer 
or accountant) appointed by the caste would record 
the evidence, and the Moktessor would decide upon 
the facts. 

Of the two sections Subramanya and Kumbla, the 

former claim superiority, and there is no intermarriage 

between them. The members of the Subramanya section 

state that they belong to Rig Saka (Rig Veda) and have 

vi-a6 B 


gotras, such as Viswamitra, Angirasa, and Baradwaja, 
and twelve exogamous septs. Of these septs, the 
following are examples : — 

Arli {Ficus religiosa). I Konde, tassel or hair-knot 

Aththi {Flats glomerata). Adhikari. 

Bandi, cart. Pandita. 

Kethaki {Pandanus fascicularis). \ Heggade. 

The famous temple of Subramanya is said to have 
been in charge of the Subramanya Stanikas, till it was 
wrested from them by the Shivalli Brahmans. In former 
times, the privilege of sticking a golden ladle into a heap 
of food piled up in the temple, on the Shasti day or sixth 
day after the new moon in December, is said to have be- 
longed to the Stanikas. They also brought earth from 
an ant-hill on the previous day. Food from the heap 
and earth are received as sacred articles by devotees 
who visit the sacred shrine. A large number of Stani- 
kas are still attached to temples, where they perform 
the duties of cleaning the vessels, washing rice, placing 
cooked food on the bali pitam (altar stone), etc. The 
food placed on the stone is eaten by Stanikas, but not by 
Brahmans. In the Mysore province, a Brahman woman 
who partakes of this food loses her caste, and becomes a 

At times of census, Sivadvija and Siva Brahman have 
been given as synonyms of Stanika. 

Sthavara.— -Recorded, at times of census, as a sub- 
division of Jangam. The lingam, which Lingayats carry 
on some part of the body, is called the jangama lingam 
or moveable lingam, to distinguish it from the sthavara 
or fixed lingam of temples. 

Subuddhi.— A title, meaning one having good 
sense, among several Oriya castes. 

Sudarman.— 6*^^ Udaiyan. 


SuddhO.— Two distinct castes go by this name, viz., 
the Savaras who have settled in the plains, and a small 
class of agriculturists and paiks (servants) in the low 
country of Ganjam. The Suddhos who live in the hills 
eat fowls and drink liquor, which those in the plains 
abstain from. The caste name Sudd ho means pure, and 
is said to have its origin in the fact that Suddho paiks 
used to tie the turbans of the kings of Gumsur. Like 
other Oriya castes, the Suddhos have Podhano, Bissoyi, 
Behara, etc., as titles. The caste has apparently come 
into existence in recent times. 

Sudra. — The fourth of the traditional castes of Manu. 
The Sudra Nayars supply the female servants in the 
houses of Nambutiris. 

Sudra Kavutiyan. — A name adopted by barbers 
who shave Nayars, to distinguish them from other 

Sudugadusiddha. — The name is derived from 
sudugadu, a burning-ground. In the Mysore Census 
Report, 1901, they are described as being "mendicants 
like the Jogis, like whom they itinerate. They were 
once lords of burning-grounds, to whom the Kulavadi 
(see Holeya), who takes the cloth of the deceased and 
a fee for every dead body burned, paid something as 
acknowledging their overlordship." These people are 
described by Mr. J. S. F. Mackenzie,* under the name 
Sudgudu Siddha, or lords of the burning-ground, as 
agents who originally belonged to the Gangadikara Vak- 
kaliga caste, and have become a separate caste, called 
after their head Sudgudu Siddharu. They intermarry 
among themselves, and the office of agent is hereditary. 
They have particular tracts of country assigned to them, 

• Ind. Am. II, 1873. 

SUGALl 406 

when on tour collecting burial fees. They can be recog- 
nised by the wooden bell in addition to the usual metal 
one, which they always carry about. Without this no one 
would acknowledge the agent's right to collect the fees. 

Sugali.^Sugali and Sukali are synonyms of 
Lam bad i. 

Sugamanchi Balija.— A name said to mean the 
best of Balijas, and used as a synonym for Gazula 

Sukka (star). — An exogamous sept of Yerukala. 
The equivalent Sukra occurs as a gotra of Oriya 

Sule.—- A Canarese name for professional prostitutes. 
Temple dancing-girls object to the name, as being low. 
They call themselves Vesyas or Besyas, Naiksani, or 
Naikini (Naik females). 

Sullokondia. — The highest sub-division of the 
Gaudos, from whose hands Oriya Brahmans will accept 

SunSir.'—'See Sonar. 

Sundarattan. — A sub-division of Nattukottai Chetti. 

Sundi.— 5^^ Sondi. 

Sunkari.^The Sunkari or Sunkara-vandlu are culti- 
vators, fishermen, and raftsmen in the Godavari district. 
According to the Rev. J. Cain* they come from some 
part of the Central Provinces, and are not regarded as 
outcasts, as stated in the Central Provinces Gazetteer. 

Sunna Akki (thin rice). — A family name or bedagu 
of Donga Dasari. 

Sunnambukkaran (lime man). — Ah occupational 
name for Paravas, Paraiyans, and other classes, who are 
employed as lime (chunam) burners. Sunnapu, meaning 

Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879. 

407 SWAYl 

shell or quick-lime, occurs as an exogamous sept of 

Sunnata.— A sub-division of Kurumbas, who are 
said to make only white blankets. 

Surakkudi.— A section or kovil (temple) of Nattu- 
kottai Chetti. 

Surti.— The name for domestic servants of Euro- 
peans in Bombay, who come from Surat. 

Surya (the sun). — Recorded as a sept of Domb, 
Kuruba, and Pentiya, and a sub-division of Ambalak- 
karan. The equivalent Suryavamsam (people of the solar 
race) occurs as a sub-division of Razu, and as a synonym 
of the Konda Doras or Konda Kapus, some of whom 
style themselves Raja (= Razu) Kapus or Reddis. 

Sutakulam.— A name by which the Besthas call 
themselves. They claim descent from the Rishi Suta 
Mahamuni. It has been suggested * as probable that the 
Besthas gained the name from their superiority in the 
culinary art, suta meaning cook. 

Sutarlu.— -Recorded by the Rev. J. Cainf as brick- 
layers and masons in the Godavari district. 

Suthala (needle). — An exogamous sept of Kamma. 

Svarupam. — Svarupam has been defined J as "a 
dynasty, usually confined to the four principal dynasties, 
termed the Kola, Nayaririppu, Perimbadappu, and 
Trippa Svarupam, represented by the Kolatiri or Chirakal 
Rajah, the Zamorin, and the Cochin and Travancore 
Rajahs." Svarupakkar or Svarupathil, meaning servants 
of Svarupams or kingly houses, is an occupational sub- 
division of Nayar. 

Swayi.^A title of Alia, Aruva, Kalinji, and other 
Oriya classes. 

* Manual of the North Arcot district. f ^^^- Ant. VIII, 1879. 

% Wigram, Malabar Law and Customs. 


Swetambara (clad in white). — One of the two main 
divisions of the Jains. 

Syrian Christian.^The following note, containing 
a summary of the history of a community in connection 
With which the literature is considerable, is mainly 
abstracted from the Cochin Census Report, 1901, with 

The Syrian Christians have " sometimes been called 
the Christians of the Serra (a Portuguese word, meaning 
mountains). This arose from the fact of their living at 
the foot of the ghauts." * The glory of the introduction 
of the teachings of Christ to India is, by time-honoured 
tradition, ascribed to the apostle Saint Thomas. Accord- 
ing to this tradition so dearly cherished by the Christians 
of this coast, about 52 A.D. the apostle landed at Malan- 
kara, or, more correctly, at Maliankara near Cranganur 
(Kodungallur), the Mouziris of the Greeks, or Muyirikode 
of the Jewish copper plates. Mouziris was a port near 
the mouth of a branch of the Alwaye river, much fre- 
quented in their early voyages by the Phoenician and 
European traders for the pepper and spices of this coast, 
and for the purpose of taking in fresh water and provi- 
sions. The story goes that Saint Thomas founded seven 
churches in different stations in Cochin and Travancore, 
and converted, among others, many Brahmans, notably 
the Cally, Calliankara, Sankarapuri, and Pakalomattam 
Nambudri families, the members of the last claiming the 
rare distinction of having been ordained as priests by the 
apostle himself He then extended his labours to the 
Coromandel coast, where, after making many converts, 
he is said to have been pierced with a lance by some 
Brahmans, and to have been buried in the church of 

* Rev. W. J. Richards. The Indian Christians of Saint Thomas. 



St. Thom6, in Mylapore, a suburb of the town of 
Madras. Writing concerning the prevalence of ele- 
phantiasis in Malabar, Captain Hamilton records * that 
** the old Romish Legendaries impute the cause of those 
great swell'd legs to a curse Saint Thomas laid upon his 
murderers and their posterity, and that was the odious 
mark they should be distinguished by." " Pretty early 
tradition associates Thomas with Parthia,t Philip with 
Phrygia, Andrew with Syria, and Bartholomew with 
India, but later traditions make the apostles divide the 
various countries between them by lot."| Even if the 
former supposition be accepted, there is nothing very 
improbable in Saint Thomas having extended his work 
from Parthia to India. Others argue that, even if there 
be any truth in the tradition of the arrival of Saint 
Thomas in India, this comprised the countries in the 
north-west of India, or at most the India of Alexander 
the Great, and not the southern portion of the penin- 
sula, where the seeds of Christianity are said to have 
been first sown, because the voyage to this part of India, 
then hardly known, was fraught with the greatest diffi- 
culties and dangers, not to speak of its tediousness. It 
may, however, be observed that the close proximity of 
Alexandria to Palestine, and its importance at the time 
as the emporium of the trade between the East and West, 
afforded sufficient facilities for a passage to India. If 
the Roman line of traffic via Alexandria and the Red 
Sea was long and tedious, the route via the Persian 
Gulf was comparatively easy. 

When we come to the second century, we read of 
Demetrius of Alexandria receiving a message from some 

• A New Account of the East Indies, 1744. 

t Vide G. Milne Rae. The Syrian Church in India, 1892. 

X Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed. 


natives of India, earnestly begging for a teacher"^ to 
instruct them in the doctrines of Christianity. Hear- 
ing this, Pantaenus, Principal of the Christian College 
of Alexandria, an Athenian stoic, an eminent preacher 
and " a very great gnosticus, who had penetrated most 
profoundly into the spirit of scripture," sailed from 
Berenice for Malabar between 180 and 190 A.D. He 
found his arrival "anticipated by some who were 
acquainted with the Gospel of Mathew, to whom 
Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached, and 
had left them the same Gospel in Hebrew, which also 
was preserved until this time. Returning to Alexandria, 
he presided over the College of Catechumens." Early 
in the third century, St. Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus, 
also assigns the conversion of India to the apostle 
Bartholomew. To Thomas he ascribes Persia and 
the countries of Central Asia, although he mentions 
Calamina, " a city of India," as the place where Thomas 
suffered death. The Rev. J. Hough* observes that " it 
is indeed highly problematical that Saint Bartholomew 
was ever in India." It may be remarked that there are 
no local traditions associating the event with his name, 
and, if Saint Bartholomew laboured at all on this coast, 
there is no reason why the earliest converts of Malabar 
should have preferred the name of Thomas to that of 
Bartholomew. Though Mr. Hough and Sir W. W. 
Hunter,t among others, discredit the mission of St. 
Thomas in the first century, they both accept the story 
of the mission of Pantaenus. Mr. Hough says that " it is 
probable that these Indians (who appealed to Demetrius) 
were converts or children of former converts to 

* See Hough, the History of Christianity in India from the commencement 
of the Christian Era. 

•f- Indian Empire, 3rd edition. 


Christianity." If, in the second century, there could be 
children of former converts in India, it is not clear why 
the introduction of Christianity to India in the first 
century, and that by St. Thomas, should be so seriously 
questioned and set aside as being a myth, especially in 
view of the weight of the subjoined testimony, associating 
the work with the name of the apostle. 

In the Asiatic Journal (Vol. VI), Mr. Whish refutes the 
assertions made by Mr. Wrede in the Asiatic Researches 
(Vol. VII) that the Christians of Malabar settled in that 
country " during the violent persecution of the sect of 
Nestorius under Theodosius II, or some time after," 
and says, with reference to the date of the Jewish colonies 
in India, that the Christians of the country were settled 
long anterior to the period mentioned by Mr. Wrede. 
Referring to the acts and journeyings of the apostles, 
Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre (254-313 A.D.), says "the 
Apostle Thomas, after having preached the Gospel to 
the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Germanians, Bactrians, 
and Magi, suffered martyrdom at Calamina, a town of 
India." It is said that, at the Council of Nice held in 
325 A.D., India was represented by Johannes, Bishop of 
India Maxima and Persia. St. Gregory of Nazianzen 
(370-392 A.D.), in answering the reproach of his being 
a stranger, asks " Were not the apostles strangers ? 
Granting that Judaea was the country of Peter, what had 
Paul in common with the Gentiles, Luke with Achaia, 
Andrew with Epirus, John with Ephesus, Thomas with 
India, Mark with Italy".-* St. Jerome(39o A. D.) testifies 
to the general belief in the mission of St. Thomas to 
India. He too mentions Calamina as the town where 
the apostle met with his death. Baronius thinks that, 
when Theodoret, the Church historian (430-458 A.D.), 
speaks of the apostles, he evidently associates the work 


in India with the name of St. Thomas. St. Gregory of 
Torus relates that "in that place in India, where the 
body of Thomas lay before it was transferred to Edessa, 
there is a monastery and temple of great size." Floren- 
tius asserts that " nothing with more certainty I find in 
the works of the Holy Fathers than that St. Thomas 
preached the Gospel in India." Rufinus, who stayed 
twenty-five years in Syria, says that the remains of 
St. Thomas were brought from India to Edessa. Two 
Arabian travellers of the ninth century, referred to by 
Renaudot, assert that St. Thomas died at Mailapur. 

Coming to modern times, we have several authorities, 
who testify to the apostolic origin of the Indian Church, 
regarded as apocryphal by Mr. Milne Rae, Sir W. W. 
Hunter, and others. The historian of the ' Indian 
Empire,' while rejecting some of the strongest arguments 
advanced by Mr. Milne Rae, accepts his conclusions in 
regard to the apostolic origin. The Romanist Portu- 
guese in their enthusiasm coloured the legends to such 
an extent as to make them appear incredible, and the 
Protestant writers of modern times, while distrusting 
the Portuguese version, are not agreed as to the 
rare personage that introduced Christianity to India. 
Mr. Wrede asserts that the Christians of Malabar settled 
in that country during the violent persecution of the sect 
of Nestorius under Theodosius II, or some time after. 
Dr. Burnell traces the origin to the Manicheean Thomas, 
who flourished towards the end of the third century. 
Mr. Milne Rae brings the occurrence of the event down 
to the sixth century of the Christian era. Sir William 
Hunter, without associating the foundation of the 
Malabar Church with the name of any particular person, 
states the event to have taken place some time in the 
second century, long before the advent of Thomas the 


Manichaean, but considers that the name St. Thomas 
Christians was adopted by the Christians in the eighth 
century. He observes that "the early legend of the 
Manichaean Thomas in the third century and the later 
labours of the Armenian Thomas, the rebuilder of the 
Malabar Church in the eighth century, endeared that 
name to the Christians of Southern India." [It has 
recently been stated, with reference to the tradition that 
it was St. Thomas the apostle who first evangelised 
Southern India, that, " though this tradition is no more 
capable of disproof than of proof, those authorities seem 
to be on safer ground, who are content to hold that 
Christianity was first imported into India by Nestorian 
or Chaldsean missionaries from Persia and Mesopotamia, 
whose apostolic zeal between the sixth and twelfth 
centuries ranged all over Asia, even into Tibet and 
Tartary. The seat of the Nestorian Patriarchate of 
Babylon was at Bagdad, and, as it claimed to be par 
excellence the Church of St. Thomas, this might well 
account for the fact that the proselytes it won over in 
India were in the habit of calling themselves Christians 
of St. Thomas. It is, to say the least, a remarkable 
coincidence that one of the three ancient stone crosses 
preserved in India bears an inscription and devices, 
which are stated to resemble those on the cross discov- 
ered near Singanfu in China, recording the appearance 
of Nestorian missionaries in Shenshi in the early part 
of the seventh century."] 

As already said, there are those who attribute the 
introduction of the Gospel to a certain Thomas, a disciple 
of Manes, who is supposed to have come to India in 277 
A.D., finding in this an explanation of the origin of the 
Manigramakars (inhabitants of the village of Manes) of 
Kayenkulam near Quilon. Coming to the middle of the 


fourth century, we read of a Thomas Cana, an Aramaean 
or Syrian merchant, or a divine, as some would have it, 
who, having in his travels seen the neglected conditions 
of the flock of Christ on the Malabar coast, returned to 
his native land, sought the assistance of the Catholics 
of Bagdad, came back with a train of clergymen and a 
pretty large number of Syrians, and worked vigorously 
to better their spiritual condition. He is said to have 
married two Indian ladies, the disputes of succession 
between whose children appear, according to some 
writers, to have given rise to the two names of Northern- 
ers (Vadakkumbagar) and Southerners (Thekkumbagar) 
— a distinction which is still jealously kept up. The 
authorities are, however, divided as to the date of his 
arrival, for, while some assign 345 A.D., others give 745 
A.D. It is just possible that this legend but records 
the advent of two waves of colonists from Syria at 
different times, and their settlement in different stations ; 
and Thomas Cana was perhaps the leader of the first 
migration. The Syrian tradition explains the origin 
of the names in a different way, for, according to it, 
the foreigners or colonists from Syria lived in the 
southern street of Cranganur or Kodungallur, and the 
native converts in the northern street. After their 
dispersion from Cranganur, the Southerners kept up 
their pride and prestige by refusing to intermarry, 
while the name of Northerners came to be applied to 
all Native Christians other than the Southerners. At 
their wedding feasts, the Southerners sing songs com- 
memorating their colonization at Kodungallur, their 
dispersion from there, and settlement in different places. 
They still retain some foreign tribe names, to which 
the original colony is said to have belonged. A few 
of these names are Baji, Kojah, Kujalik, and Majamuth. 


Their leader Thomas Cana is said to have visited the 
last of the Perumals and to have obtained several 
privileges for the benefit of the Christians. He is 
supposed to have built a church at Mahadevarpattanam, 
or more correctly Mahodayapuram, near Kodungallur 
in the Cochin State, the capital of the Perumals or 
Viceroys of Kerala, and, in their documents, the Syrian 
Christians now and again designate themselves as being 
inhabitants of Mahadevarpattanam. 

In the Syrian seminary at KOttayam are preserved 
two copper-plate charters, one granted by Vira Raghava 
Chakravarthi, and the other by Sthanu Ravi Gupta, sup- 
posed to be dated 774 A.D. and 824 A.D. Specialists, 
who have attempted to fix approximately the dates of 
the grants, however, differ, as will be seen from a 
discussion of the subject by Mr. V. Venkayya in the 
Epigraphia Indica."^ 

Concerning the plate of Vira Raghava, Mr. Venkayya 
there writes as follows. " The subjoined inscription is 
engraved on both sides of a single copper-plate, which is 
in the possession of the Syrian Christians at Kottayam. 
The plate has no seal, but, instead, a conch is engraved 
about the middle of the left margin of the second side. 
This inscription has been previously translated by Dr. 
Gundert.t Mr. Kookel Keloo Nair has also attempted 
a version of the grant. J In the translation I have mainly 
followed Dr. Gundert." 


Hari ! Prosperity ! Adoration to the great Ganapati ! 
On the day of (the Nakshatra) Rohini, a Saturday 

• IV. 290-97, 1896-7. 

t Madras Journ. Lit. and Science, XIII, part, Ii8. Dr. Gnndert's transla- 
tion is reprinted in Mr. Logan's Malabar, Vol. II, Appendix XII. 
J Madras Journ, Lit. and Science, XXI, 35-38. 


after the expiration of the twenty-first (day) of the 
solar month Mina (of the year during which) Jupiter 
(was) in Makara, while the glorious Vira-Raghava- 
Chakravartin, — (of the race) that has been wielding 
the sceptre for several hundred thousands of years 
in regular succession from the glorious king of kings, 
the glorious Vira-Kerala-Chakravartin — was ruling 
prosperously : — 

While (we were) pleased to reside in the great 
palace, we conferred the title of Manigramam on 
Iravikorttan, a/ias Seramanloka-pperun-jetti of Mago- 

We (also) gave (him the right of) festive clothing, 
house pillars, the income that accrues, the export 
trade (?), monopoly of trade, (the right of) proclamation, 
forerunners, the five musical instruments, a conch, a 
lamp in day-time, a cloth spread (in front to walk on), a 
palanquin, the royal parasol, the Telugu (?) drum, a 
gateway with an ornamental arch, and monopoly of 
trade in the four quarters. 

We (also) gave the oilmongers and the five (classes 
of) artisans as (his) slaves. 

We (also) gave, with a libation of water — having 
(caused it to be) written on a copper-plate — to Iravi- 
korttan, who is the lord of the city, the brokerage 
on (articles) that may be measured with the para, 
weighed by the balance or measured with the tape, 
that may be counted or weighed, and on all other 
(articles) that are intermediate — including salt, sugar, 
musk (and) lamp oil — and also the customs levied 
on these (articles) between the river mouth of Kodun- 
gulur and the gate (gopura) — chiefly between the 
four temples (tali) and the village adjacent to (each) 


We gave (this) as property to Sdramin-loka-pperun- 
jetti, alias Iravikorttan, and to his children's children 
in due succession. 

(The witnesses) who know this (are) : — We ^ave (it) 
with the knowledge of the villagers of Panniyt^r and the 
villagers of Sogiram. We gave (it) with the knowledge 
(of the authorities) of V^nddu and Odunadu. We gave 
(it) with the knowledge (of the authorities) of Eranidu 
and Valluvanadu. We gave (it) for the time that the 
moon and the sun shall exist. 

The hand-writing of Seraman-loka-pperun-dattan 
Nambi Sadeyan, who wrote (this) copper-plate with the 
knowledge of these (witnesses). 

Mr. Venkayya adds that " it was supposed by Dr. 
Burnell * that the plate of Vtra-Raghava created the 
principality of Manigramam, and the Cochin plates that 
of Anjuvannam.f The Cochin plates did not create 
Anjuvannam, but conferred the honours and privileges 
connected therewith to a Jew named Rabban. Similarly, 
the rights and honours associated with the other corpo- 
ration, Manigramam, were bestowed at a later period 
on Ravikkorran. It is just possible that Ravikkorran 
was a Christian by religion. But his name and title 
give no clue in this direction, and there is nothing 
Christian in the document, except its possession by the 
present owners. On this name, Dr. Gundert first said \ 
* Iravi Corttan must be a Nasrani name, though none 
of the Syrian priests whom I saw could explain it, or 
had ever heard of it.' Subsequently he added : ' I had 
indeed been startled by the Iravi Corttan, which does 
not look at all like the appellation of a Syrian Christian ; 
still I thought myself justified in calling Manigramam a 

• Ind. Ant., Ill, 1S74. 

t See article on the Jews of Cochin. + Loc. cit. 



Christian principality — whatever their Christianity may 
have consisted in — on the ground that, from Menezes' 
time, these grants had been regarded as given to the 
Syrian colonists.' Mr. Kookel Keloo Nair considered 
Iravikkorran a mere title, in which no shadow of a 
Syrian name is to be traced." 

Nestorius, a native of Germanicia, was educated at 
Antioch, where, as Presbyter, he became celebrated, while 
yet very young, for his asceticism, orthodoxy, and 
eloquence. On the death of Sisinnius, Patriarch of 
Constantinople, this distinguished preacher of Antioch 
was appointed to the vacant See by the Emperor 
Theodosius II, and was consecrated as Patriarch in 
428 A.D. The doctrine of a God-man respecting Christ, 
and the mode of union of the human and the divine 
nature in Him left undefined by the early teachers, who 
contented themselves with speaking of Him and regard- 
ing Him as " born and unborn, God in flesh, life in death, 
born of Mary, and born of God," had, long before the 
time of Nestorius, begun to tax the genius of churchmen, 
and the controversies in respect of this double nature of 
Christ had led to the growth and spread of important 
heretical doctrines. Two of the great heresies of the 
church before that of Nestorius are associated with the 
names of Arius and Apollinaris. Arius " admitted both 
the divine and the human nature of Christ, but, by 
making Him subordinate to God, denied His divinity 
in the highest sense." Apollinaris, undermining the 
doctrine of the example and atonement of Christ, argued 
that " in Jesus the Logos supplied the place of the 
reasonable soul." As early as 325 A.D. the first 
CEcumenical Council of Nice had defined against the 
Arians, and decreed that "the Son was not only of like 
essence, but of the same essence with the Father, and 


the human nature, maimed and misinterpreted by the 
Apollinarians, had been restored to the person of 
Christ at the Council of Constantinople in 381." 
Nestorius, finding the Arians and Apollinarians, con- 
demned strongly though they were, still strong in numbers 
and influence at Constantinople, expressed in his first 
sermon as Patriarch his determination to put down these 
and other heretical sects, and exhorted the Emperor 
to help him in this difficult task. But, while vigorously 
engaged in the effectual extinction of all heresies, he 
incurred the displeasure of the orthodox party by boldly 
declaring, though in the most sincerely orthodox form, 
against the use of the term Theotokos, that is, Mother 
of God, which, as applied to the Virgin Mary, had then 
grown into popular favour, especially amongst the clergy 
at Constantinople and Rome. While he himself revered 
the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Christ, he declaimed 
against the use of the expression Mother of God in 
respect of her, as being alike " unknown to the Apostles, 
and unauthorised by the Church," besides its being 
inherently absurd to suppose that the Godhead can be 
born or suffer. Moreover, in his endeavour to avoid the 
extreme positions taken up by Arians and Apollinarians, 
he denied, while speaking of the two natures in Christ, 
that there was any communication of attributes. But 
he was understood on this point to have maintained 
a mechanical rather than a supernatural union of the 
two natures, and also to have rent Christ asunder, and 
divided Him into two persons. Explaining his position, 
Nestorius said " I distinguish the natures, but I unite 
my adoration." But this explanation did not satisfy 
the orthodox, who understood him to have " preached 
a Christ less than divine." The clergy and laity of Con- 
stantinople, amongst whom Nestorius had thus grown 
vi-27 B 


unpopular, and was talked of as a heretic, appealed 
to Cyril, Bishop of the rival See of Alexandria, to 
interfere on their behalf. Cyril, supported by the 
authority of the Pope, arrived on the scene, and, at the 
Council of Ephesus, hastily and informally called up, 
condemned Nestorius as a heretic, and excommunicated 
him. After Nestor ianism had been rooted out of the 
Roman Empire in the time of Justinian, it flourished "in 
the East," especially in Persia and the countries adjoining 
it, where the churches, since their foundation, had been 
following the Syrian ritual, discipline, and doctrine, and 
where a strong party, among them the Patriarch of 
Seleucia or Babylon, and his suffragan the Metropolitan 
of Persia, with their large following, revered Nestorius 
as a martyr, and faithfully and formally accepted his 
teachings at the Synod of Seleucia in 448 A.D. His 
doctrines seem to have spread as far east as China, so 
that, in 551, Nestorian monks who had long resided in 
that country are said to have brought the eggs of the silk- 
worm to Constantinople Cosmos, surnamed Indico- 
pleustes, the Indian traveller, who, in 522 A.D., visited 
Male, •' the country where the pepper grows," has 
referred to the existence of a fully organised church in 
Malabar, with the Bishops consecrated in Persia. His 
reference, while it traces the origin of the Indian church 
to the earlier centuries, also testifies to the fact that, at 
the time of his visit, the church was Nestorian in its 
creed " from the circumstance of its dependence upon 
the Primate of Persia, who then unquestionably held the 
Nestorian doctrines." 

The next heresy was that of Eutyches, a zealous 
adherent of Cyril in opposition to Nestorius at the 
Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. But Eutyches, in oppo- 
sing the doctrine of Nestorius, went beyond Cyril and 


Others, and affirmed that, after the union of the two 
natures, the human and the divine, Christ had only one 
nature the divine, His humanity being absorbed in His 
divinity. After several years of controversy, the question 
was finally decided at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, 
when it was declared, in opposition to the doctrine of 
Eutyches, that the two natures were united in Christ, 
but ** without any alteration, absorption, or confusion "; 
or, in other words, in the person of Christ there were two 
natures, the human and the divine, each perfect in itself, 
but there was only one person. Eutyches was excom- 
municated, and died in exile. Those who would not 
subscribe to the doctrines declared at Chalcedon were 
condemned as heretics ; they then seceded, and after- 
wards gathered themselves around different centres, 
which were Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Cyprus 
and Palestine, Armenia, Egypt, and Abyssinia. The 
Armenians embraced the Eutychian theory of divinity 
being the sole nature in Christ, the humanity being 
absorbed, while the Egyptians and Abyssinians held in 
the monophysite doctrine of the divinity and humanity 
being one compound nature in Christ. The West 
Syrians, or natives of Syria proper, to whom the Syrians 
of this coast trace their origin, adopted, after having 
renounced the doctrines of Nestorius, the Eutychian 
tenet. Through the influence of Severus, Patriarch of 
Antioch, they gradually became Monophysites. The 
Monophysite sect was for a time suppressed by the 
Emperors, but in the sixth century there took place the 
great Jacobite revival of the monophysite doctrine under 
James Bardaeus, better known as Jacobus Zanzalus, who 
united the various divisions, into which the Monophy- 
sites had separated themselves, into one church, which 
at the present day exists under the name of the Jacobite 


church. The head of the Jacobite church claims the 
rank and prerogative of the Patriarch of Antioch — a title 
claimed by no less than three church dignitaries. Leav- 
ing it to subtle theologians to settle the disputes, we 
may briefly define the position of the Jacobites in Mala- 
bar in respect of the above controversies. While they 
accept the qualifying epithets pronounced by the decree 
passed at the Council of Chalcedon in regard to the 
union of the two natures in Christ, they object to the 
use of the word two in referring to the same. So far 
they are practically at one with the Armenians, for they 
also condemn the Eutychian doctrine ; and a Jacobite 
candidate for holy orders in the Syrian church has, 
among other things, to take an oath denouncing 
Eutyches and his teachers. 

We have digressed a little in order to show briefly 
the position of the Malabar church in its relation to 
Eastern Patriarchs in the early, mediaeval, and modern 
times. To resume the thread of our story, from 
about the middle of the fourth century until the arrival 
of the Portuguese, the Christians of Malabar in their 
spiritual distress generally applied for Bishops indis- 
criminately to one of the Eastern Patriarchs, who were 
either Nestorian or Jacobite ; for, as observed by Sir 
W. W. Hunter, "for nearly a thousand years from the 
5th to the 15th century, the Jacobite sect dwelt in the 
middle of the Nestorians in the Central Asia," so 
that, in response to the requests from Malabar, both 
Nestorian and Jacobite Bishops appear to have visited 
Malabar occasionally, and the natives seem to have 
indiscriminately followed the teachings of both. We 
may here observe that the simple folk of Malabar, 
imbued but with the primitive form of Christianity, were 
neither conversant with nor ever troubled themselves 


about the subtle disputations and doctrinal differences 
that divided their co-religionists in Europe and Asia 
Minor, and were, therefore, not in a position to 
distinguish between Nestorian or any other form of 
Christianity. Persia also having subsequently neglected 
the outlying Indian church, the Christians of Malabar 
seem to have sent their applications to the Patriarch 
of Babylon, but, as both prelates then followed the 
Nestorian creed, there was little or no change in the 
rituals and dogmas of the church. Dr. Day ^ refers to 
the arrival of a Jacobite Bishop in India in 696 A.D. 
About the year 823 A.D., two Nestorian Bishops, Mar 
Sapor and Mar Aprot, appear to have arrived in Malabar 
under the command of the Nestorian Patriarch of 
Babylon. They are said to have interviewed the native 
rulers, travelled through the country, built churches, and 
looked after the religious affairs of the Syrians. 

We know but little of the history of the Malabar 
Church for nearly six centuries prior to the arrival of 
the Portuguese in India. We have, however, the story 
of the pilgrimage of the Bishop of Sherborne to the 
shrine of St. Thomas in India about 883 A.D., in 
the reign of Alfred the Great ; and the reference 
made to the prevalence of Nestorianism among the 
St. Thomas' Christians of Malabar by Marco Polo, the 
Venetian traveller. 

The Christian community seem to have been in 
the zenith of their glory and prosperity between the 
9th and 14th centuries, as, according to their tradition, 
they were then permitted to have a king of their 
own, withVilliarvattam near Udayamperur (Diamper) as 
his capital. According to another version, the king of 

• Land of the Perumauls : Cochin past and present, 1863. 


VilHarvattam was a convert to Christianity. The 
dynasty seems to have become extinct about the 14th 
century, and it is said that, on the arrival of the 
Portuguese, the crown and sceptre of the last Christian 
king were presented to Vasco da Gama in 1502. 
We have already referred to the high position occupied 
by the Christians under the early kings, as is seen from 
the rare privileges granted to them, most probably in 
return for military services rendered by them. The 
king seems to have enjoyed, among other things, the 
right of punishing offences committed by the Christian 
community, who practically followed his lead. A more 
reasonable view of the story of a Christian king appears 
to be that a Christian chief of Udayamperur enjoyed 
a sort of socio-territorial jurisdiction over his followers, 
which, in later times, seems to have been so magnified as 
to invest him with territorial sovereignty. We see, in 
the copper-plate charters of the Jews, that their chief was 
also invested with some such powers. 

Mention is made of two Latin Missions in the 14th 
century, with Quilon as head-quarters, but their labours 
were ineffectual, and their triumphs but short-lived. 
Towards the end of the 1 5th, and throughout the whole 
of the 1 6th century, the Nestorian Patriarch of Meso- 
potamia seems to have exercised some authority over 
the Malabar Christians, as is borne out by the occasional 
references to the arrival of Nestorian Bishops to preside 
over the churches. 

Until the arrival of the Portuguese, the Malabar 
church was following unmolested, in its ritual, practice 
and communion, a creed of the Syro-Chaldsean church of 
the East. When they set out on their voyages, conquest 
and conversion were no less dear to the heart of Portu- 
guese than enterprise and commerce. Though, in the 


first moments, the Syrians, in their neglected spiritual 
condition, were gratified at the advent of their co- 
religionists, the Romanist Portuguese, and the Portu- 
guese in their turn expected the most beneficial results 
from an alliance with their Christian brethren on this 
coast, "the conformity of the Syrians to the faith and 
practice of the 5th century soon disappointed the preju- 
dices of the Papist apologists. It was the first care of 
the Portuguese to intercept all correspondence with the 
Eastern Patriarchs, and several of their Bishops expired 
in the prisons of their Holy Office." The Franciscan 
and Dominican Friars, and the Jesuit Fathers, worked 
vigorously to win the Malabar Christians over to the 
Roman Communion. Towards the beginning of the last 
quarter of the i6th century, the Jesuits built a church 
at Vaippacotta near Cranganur, and founded a college 
for the education of Christian youths. In 1584, a 
seminary was established for the purpose of instructing 
the Syrians in theology, and teaching them the Latin, 
Portuguese and Syriac languages. The dignitaries who 
presided over the churches, however, refused to ordain 
the students trained in the seminary. This, and other 
causes of quarrel between the Jesuits and the native 
clergy, culminated in an open rupture, which was pro- 
claimed by Archdeacon George in a Synod at Angamali. 
When Alexes de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, heard 
of this, he himself undertook a visitation of the Syrian 
churches. The bold and energetic Menezes carried all 
before him. Nor is his success to be wondered at. He 
was invested with the spiritual authority of the Pope, 
and armed with the terrors of the Inquisition. He was 
encouraged in his efforts by the Portuguese King, whose 
Governors on this coast ably backed him up. Though 
the ruling chiefs at first discountenanced the exercise of 


coercive measures over their subjects, they were soon 
won over by the stratagems of the subtle Archbishop. 
Thus supported, he commenced his visitation of the 
churches, and reduced them in A.D. 1599 by the decrees 
of the Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur), a village about 
ten miles to the south-east of the town of Cochin. The 
decrees passed by the Synod were reluctantly subscribed 
to by Archdeacon George and a large number of 
Kathanars, as the native priests are called ; and this 
practically converted the Malabar Church into a branch 
of the Roman Church. Literature sustained a very 
great loss at the hands of Menezes, " for this blind and 
enthusiastic inquisitor destroyed, like a second Omar, 
all the books written in the Syrian or Chaldsean language, 
which could be collected, not only at the Synod of 
Diamper, but especially during his subsequent circuit ; 
for, as soon as he had entered into a Syrian Church, he 
ordered all their books and records to be laid before him, 
which, a few indifferent ones excepted, he committed to 
the flames, so that at present neither books nor manu- 
scripts are any more to be found amongst the St. Thome 

Immediately after the Synod of Diamper, a Jesuit 
Father, Franciscus Roz, a Spaniard by birth, was ap- 
pointed Bishop of Angamali by Pope Clement VIII. 
The title was soon after changed to that of Archbishop 
of Cranganur. By this time, the rule of the Jesuits had 
become so intolerable to the Syrians that they resolved 
to have a Bishop from the East, and applied to Babylon, 
Antioch, Alexandria, and other ecclesiastical head- 
quarters for a Bishop, as if the ecclesiastical heads who 
presided over these places professed the same creed. 

* F. Wrede. Asiatic Researches, VII, 181. Account of the St. Thome 


The request of the Malabar Christians for a Bishop 
was readily responded to from Antioch, and Ahattala, 
otherwise known as Mar Ignatius, was forthwith sent. 
Authorities, however, differ on this point, for, according 
to some, this Ahattala was a Nestorian, or a protege 
of the Patriarch of the Copts. Whatever Ahattala's 
religious creed might have been, the Syrians appear to 
have believed that he was sent by the Jacobite Patriarch 
of Antioch. The Portuguese, however, intercepted him, 
and took him prisoner. The story goes that he was 
drowned in the Cochin harbour, or condemned to the 
flames of the Inquisition at Goa in 1653. This cruel 
deed so infuriated the Syrians that thousands of them 
met in solemn conclave at the Coonen Cross at Mattan- 
cheri in Cochin, and, with one voice, renounced their 
allegiance to the Church of Rome. This incident marks 
an important epoch in the history of the Malabar Church, 
for, with the defection at the Coonen Cross, the Malabar 
Christians split themselves up into two distinct parties, 
the Romo-Syrians who adhered to the Church of Rome, 
and the Jacobite Syrians, who, severing their connection 
with it, placed themselves under the spiritual supremacy 
of the Patriarch of Antioch. The following passage 
explains the exact position of the two parties that came 
into existence then, as also the origin of the names since 
applied to them. "The Pazheia Kuttukar, or old 
church, owed its foundation to Archbishop Menezes and 
the Synod of Diamper in 1599, and its reconciliation, 
after revolt, to the Carmelite Bishop, Joseph of St. Mary, 
in 1656. It retains in its services the Syrian language, 
and in part the Syrian ritual. But it acknowledges the 
supremacy of the Pope and his Vicars Apostolic. Its 
members are now known as Catholics of the Syrian rite, 
to distinguish them from the converts made direct from 


heathenism to the Latin Church by the Roman mission- 
aries. The other section of the Syrian Christ ans of 
Malabar is called the Puttan Kuttukar, or new church. 
It adheres to the Jacobite tenets introduced by its first 
Jacobite Bishop, Mar Gregory, in 1665."* ^^^^ have at 
this time, and ever after, to deal with a third party, that 
came into existence after the advent of the Portuguese. 
These are the Catholics of the Latin rite, and consist 
almost exclusively of the large number of converts gained 
by the Portuguese from amongst the different castes of 
the Hindus. To avoid confusion, we shall follow the 
fortunes of each sect separately. 

When the Portuguese first came to India, the Indian 
trade was chiefly in the hands of the Moors, who had no 
particular liking for the Hindus or Christians, and the 
arrival of the Portuguese was therefore welcome alike 
to the Hindus and Christians, who eagerly sought their 
assistance. The Portuguese likewise accepted their 
offers of friendship very gladly, as an alliance, especially 
with the former, gave them splendid opportunities for 
advancing their religious mission, while, from a friendly 
intercourse with the latter, they expected not only to 
further their religious interests, but also their commercial 
prosperity. In the work of conversion they were success- 
ful, more especially among the lower orders, the Illuvans, 
Mukkuvans, Pulayans, etc. The labours of Miguel Vaz, 
afterwards Vicar-General of Goa, and of P^ather Vincent, 
in this direction were continued with admirable success 
by St. Francis Xavier. 

We have seen how the strict and rigid discipline of 
the Jesuit Archbishops, their pride and exclusiveness, 
and the capture and murder of Ahattala brought about 

• Hunter. Indian Empire. 


the outburst at the Coonen Cross. Seeing that the 
Jesuits had failed, Pope Alexander VII had recourse to 
the Carmelite Fathers, who were specially instructed to 
do their best to remove the schism, and to bring about 
a reconciliation ; but, because the Portuguese claimed 
absolute possession of the Indian Missions, and as the 
Pope had despatched the Carmelite Fathers without the 
approval of the King of Portugal, the first batch of these 
missionaries could not reach the destined field of their 
labours. Another body of Carmelites, who had taken a 
different route, however, succeeded in reaching Malabar 
in 1656, and they met Archdeacon Thomas who had 
succeeded Archdeacon George. While expressing their 
willingness to submit to Rome, the Syrians declined to 
place themselves under Archbishop Garcia, S.J., who 
had succeeded Archbishop Roz, S.J. The Syrians 
insisted on their being given a non-Jesuit Bishop, and, 
in 1659, Father Joseph was appointed Vicar Apostolic 
of the " Sierra of Malabar " without the knowledge of 
the King of Portugal. He came out to India in 1661, 
and worked vigorously for two years in reconciling the 
Syrian Christians to the Church of Rome. But he was 
not allowed to continue his work unmolested, because, 
when the Dutch, who were competing with the Portuguese 
for supremacy in the Eastern seas, took the port of Cochin 
in 1663, Bishop Joseph was ordered to leave the coast 
forthwith. When he left Cochin, he consecrated Chandy 
Parambil, otherwise known as Alexander de Campo. 

By their learning, and their skill in adapting them- 
selves to circumstances, the Carmelite Fathers had 
continued to secure the good-will of the Dutch, and, 
returning to Cochin, assisted Alexander de Campo in 
his work. Father Mathew, one of their number, was 
allowed to build a church at Chatiath near Ernakulam. 


Another church was built at Varapuzha (Verapoly) on land 
given rent-free by the Raja of Cochin. Since this time, 
Varapuzha, now in Travancore, has continued to be the 
residence of a Vicar Apostolic. 

The history of a quarter of a century subsequent to 
this is uneventful, except for the little quarrels between 
the Carmelite Fathers and the native clergy. In 
1700, however, the Archbishop of Goa declined to con- 
secrate a Carmelite Father nominated by the Pope 
to the Vicariate Apostolic. But Father Anjelus, the 
Vicar Apostolic elect, got himself consecrated by one 
Mar Simon, who was supposed to be in communion 
with Rome. The Dutch Government having declined 
admission to Archbishop Ribeiro, S.J., the nominee of 
the Portuguese King to their dominions, Anjelus was 
invested with jurisdiction over Cochin and Cranganur. 
Thereupon, the Jesuit Fathers sought shelter in Travan- 
core, and in the territories of the Zamorin. With the 
capture of Cranganur by the Dutch, which struck the 
death-blow to Portuguese supremacy in the East, the 
last vestige of the church, seminary and college founded 
by the Jesuits disappeared. As the Dutch hated the 
Jesuits as bigoted Papists and uncompromising schis- 
matics, several of the Jesuit Fathers, who were appointed 
Archbishops of Cranganur, never set foot within their 
diocese, and such of them as accepted the responsibility 
confined themselves to the territories of the Raja of 
Travancore. It was only after the establishment of 
British supremacy that the Jesuit Fathers were able 
to re-enter the scene of their early labours. An almost 
unbroken line of Carmelite Fathers appointed by the 
Pope filled the Vicariate till 1875, though the Arch- 
bishop of Goa and the Bishop of Cochin now and then 
declined to consecrate the nominee, and thus made 


feeble attempts on behalf of their Faithful King to 
recover their lost position. 

Salvador, S.J., Archbishop of Cranganur, died in 
1777. Five years after this, the King of Portugal 
appointed Joseph Cariatil and Thomas Paramakal, 
two native Christians, who had been educated at the 
Propaganda College at Rome, as Archbishop and Vicar- 
General, respectively, of the diocese of Cranganur. 

The native clergy at the time were mostly ignorant, 
and the discipline amongst them was rather lax. The 
Propaganda attempted reforms in this direction, which 
led to a rupture between the Latin and the native 
clergy. The Carmelite Fathers, like the Jesuits, had 
grown overbearing and haughty, and an attempt at 
innovation made by the Pope through them became 
altogether distasteful to the natives. Serious charges 
against the Carmelites were, therefore, formally laid 
before the Pope and the Raja of Travancore by the 
Syrians. They also insisted that Thomas should be 
consecrated Bishop. At this time, the Dutch were all- 
powerful at the courts of native rulers, and, though the 
Carmelite missionaries who had ingratiated themselves 
into the good graces of the Dutch tried their best to 
thwart the Syrians in their endeavours, Thomas was 
permitted to be consecrated Bishop, and the Syrians 
were allowed the enjoyment of certain rare privileges. 
It is remarkable that, at this time and even in much 
earlier times, the disputes between the foreign and the 
native clergy, or between the various factions following 
the lead of the native clergy, were often decided by the 
Hindu kings, and the Christians accepted and abided 
by the decisions of their temporal heads. 

In 1838, Pope Gregory XVI issued a Bull abolishing 
the Sees of Cranganur and Cochin, and transferring the 


jurisdiction to the Vicar Apostolic of Varapuzha. But 
the King of Portugal questioned the right of the Pope, 
and this led to serious disputes. The abolition of the 
smaller seminaries by Archbishop Bernardin of Vara- 
puzha, and his refusal to ordain candidates for Holy- 
Orders trained in these seminaries by the Malpans or 
teacher-priests, caused much discontent among the Syrian 
Christians, and, in 1856, a large section of the Syrians 
applied to the Catholic Chaldsean Patriarch of Babylon 
for a Chaldsean Bishop. This was readily responded to 
by the Patriarch, who, though under the Pope, thought 
that he had a prescriptive right to supremacy over the 
Malabar Christians. Bishop Roccos was sent out to 
Malabar in 1861, and though, owing to the charm of 
novelty, a large section of the Christians at once joined 
him, a strong minority questioned his authority, and 
referred the matter to the Pope, Bishop Roccos was 
recalled, and the Patriarch was warned by the Pope 
against further interference. 

Subsequently, the Patriarch, again acting on the 
notion that he had independent jurisdiction over the 
Chaldaean Syrian church of Malabar, sent out Bishop 
Melius to Cochin. The arrival of this Bishop in 1874 
created a distinct split among the Christians of Trichur, 
one faction acknowledging the supremacy of the Pope, 
and the other following the lead of Bishop Melius. This 
open rupture had involved the two factions in a costly 
litigation. The adherents of Bishop Melius contend 
that their church, ever since its foundation in 18 10 or 
1 81 2, has followed the practice, ritual, and communion 
of the Chaldaean church of Babylon, without having ever 
been in communion with Rome. The matter is sub 
judice. They are now known by the name of Chaldaean 
Syrians. The Pope, in the meanwhile, excommunicated 


Bishop Melius, but he continued to exercise spiritual 
authority over his adherents independently of Rome. 
In 1887 the Patriarch having made peace with the 
Pope, Bishop Melius left India, and submitted to Rome 
in 1889. On the departure of Bishop Melius, the 
Chaldsean Syrians chose Anthony Kathanar, otherwise 
known as Mar Abdeso, as their Archbishop. He is 
said to have been a Rome Syrian priest under the Arch- 
bishop of Varapuzha. It is also said that he visited 
Syria and Palestine, and received ordination from the 
anti- Roman Patriarch of Babylon. Before his death in 
1900, he ordained Mar Augustine, who, under the title 
of Chorepiscopus, had assisted him in the government 
of the Chaldaean church, and he now presides over the 
Chaldsean Syrian churches in the State. 

In 1868, Bishop Marcellinus was appointed Coadjutor 
to the Vicar Apostolic of Varapuzha, and entrusted with 
the spiritual concerns of the Romo-Syrians. On his 
death in 1892, the Romo-Syrians were placed under the 
care of two European Vicars Apostolic. We have seen 
how the Jesuits had made themselves odious to the native 
Christians, and how reluctantly the latter had submitted 
to their rigid discipline. We have seen, too, how the 
Carmelites who replaced them, in spite of their worldly 
wisdom and conciliatory policy, had their own occasional 
quarrels and disputes with the native clergy and their 
congregations. From the time of the revolt at the 
Coonen Cross, and ever afterwards, the Christians had 
longed for Bishops of their own nationality, and made 
repeated requests for the same. For some reason or 
other, compliance with these requisitions was deferred 
for years. Experience showed that the direct rule of 
foreign Bishops had failed to secure the unanimous 
sympathy and hearty co-operation of the people. The 


Pope was, however, convinced of the spiritual adherence 
of the native clergy and congregation to Rome. In 
these circumstances, it was thought advisable to give the 
native clergy a fair trial in the matter of local supremacy. 
Bishops Medlycott and Lavigne, S.J., who were the 
Vicars Apostolic of Trichur and Kottayam, were there- 
fore withdrawn, and, in 1896, three native Syrian priests. 
Father John Menacheri, Father Aloysius Pareparambil, 
and Father Mathew Mackil, were consecrated by the 
Papal Delegate as the Vicars Apostolic of Trichur, 
Ernakulam, and Chenganacheri. 

The monopoly of the Indian missions claimed by the 
Portuguese, and the frequent disputes which disturbed 
the peace of the Malabar church, were ended in 1886 by 
the Concordat entered into between Pope Leo XIII and 
the King of Portugal. The Archbishop of Goa was by 
this recognised as the Patriarch of the East Indies with 
the Bishop of Cochin as a suffragan, whose diocese in the 
Cochin State is confined to the seaboard taluk of Cochin. 
The rest of the Latin Catholics of this State, except a 
small section in the Chittur taluk under the Bishop of 
Coimbatore, are under the Archbishop of Varapuzha. 

Since the revolt of the Syrians at the Coonen Cross 
in 1653, the Jacobite Syrians have been governed by 
native Bishops consecrated by Bishops sent by the 
Patriarch of Antioch, or at least always received and 
recognised as such. In exigent circumstances, the native 
Bishops themselves, before their death, consecrated their 
successors by the imposition of hands. Immediately 
after the defection, they chose Archdeacon Thomas as 
their spiritual leader. He was thus the first Metran 
or native Bishop, having been formally ordained after 
twelve years of independent rule by Mar Gregory from 
Antioch, with whose name the revival of Jacobitism in 


Malabar is associated. The Metran assumed the title of 
Mar Thomas I. He belonged to the family that traced 
its descent from the Pakalomattom family, held in high 
respect and great veneration as one of the Brahman 
families, the members of which are supposed to have 
been converted and ordained as priests by the apostle 
himself Members of the same family continued to 
hold the Metranship till about the year 1815, when the 
family is supposed to have become extinct. This here- 
ditary succession is supposed by some to be a relic of 
the Nestorian practice. It may, however, be explained 
in another way. The earliest converts were high-caste 
Hindus, amongst whom an Anandravan (brother or 
nephew) succeeded to the family estates and titles in pur- 
suance of the joint family system as current in Malabar. 
The succession of a brother or a nephew might, therefore, 
be quite as much a relic of the Hindu custom. The 
Metrans possessed properties. They were, therefore, 
interested in securing the succession of their Anandravans, 
so that their properties might not pass to a different 
family. Mar Thomas I was succeeded by his brother 
Mar Thomas H, on whose death his nephew became 
Metran under the title of Mar Thomas HI. He held 
office only for ten days. Mar Thomas IV, who suc- 
ceeded him, presided over the church till 1728. Thomas 
III and IV are said to have been consecrated by Bishop 
John, a scholar of great repute, who, with one Bishop 
Basil, came from Antioch in 1685. During the regime 
of Mar Thomas IV, and of his nephew Thomas V, Mar 
Gabriel, a Nestorian Bishop, appeared on the scene in 
1708. He seems to have been a man without any 
definite creed, as he proclaimed himself a Nestorian, a 
Jacobite, or a Romanist, according as one or the other 
best suited his interests. He had his own friends and 


admirers among the Syrians, with whose support he 
ruled over a few churches in the north till 1731. The 
consecration of Mar Thomas V by Mar Thomas IV 
was felt to be invalid, and, to remedy the defect, the 
assistance of the Dutch was sought ; but, being dis- 
appointed, the Christians had recourse to a Jewish 
merchant named Ezekiel, who undertook to convey 
their message to the Patriarch of Antioch. He brought 
from Bassorah one Mar Ivanius, who was a man of 
fiery temper. He interfered with the images in the 
churches. This led to quarrels with the Metran, and 
he had forthwith to quit the State. Through the 
Dutch authorities at Cochin, a fresh requisition was 
sent to the Patriarch of Antioch, who sent out 
three Bishops named Basil, John, and Gregory. Their 
arrival caused fresh troubles, owing to the difficulty 
of paying the large sum claimed by them as passage 
money. In 1761, Mar Thomas V, supposed to have 
died in 1765, consecrated his nephew Mar Thomas 
VI. About this time, Gregory consecrated one Kurilos, 
the leader of a faction that resisted the rule of Thomas 
VI. The disputes and quarrels which followed were 
ended with the flight of Kurilos, who founded the See 
of Anjoor in the north of Cochin and became the first 
Bishop of Tholiyur. Through the kind intercession of 
the Maharaja of Travancore, Thomas VI underwent 
formal consecration at the hands of the Bishops from 
Antioch, and took the title of Dionysius I, known also 
as Dionysius the Great. In 1775, the great Carmelite 
father Paoli visited Mar Dionysius, and tried to persuade 
him to submit to Rome. It is said that he agreed to 
the proposal, on condition of his being recognised as 
Metropolitan of all the Syrians in Malabar, but nothing 
came of it. A few years after this, the struggle for 


supremacy between the Dutch and the English had 
ended in the triumph of the latter, who evinced a good 
deal of interest in the Syrian Christians, and, in 1805, 
the Madras Government deputed Dr. Kerr to study the 
history of the Malabar Church. In 1809, Dr. Buchanan 
visited Mar Dionysius, and broached the question of 
a union of the Syrian Church with the Church of 
England. The proposal, however, did not find favour 
with the Metropolitan, or his congregation. Mar Diony- 
sius died in 1808. Before his death, he had consecrated 
Thomas Kathanar as Thomas VIII. He died in 18 16. 
His successor, Thomas IX, was weak and old, and he 
was displaced by Ittoop Ramban, known as Pulikot 
Dionysius or Dionysius II. He enjoyed the confidence 
and good-will of Colonel Munro, the British Resident, 
through whose good offices a seminary had been built 
at Kottayam in 18 13 for the education of Syrian youths. 
He died in 18 18. Philixenos, who had succeeded 
Kurilos as Bishop of Tholiyur, now consecrated Punna- 
thara Dionysius, or Dionysius III. 

We have now to refer to an important incident in the 
history of the Jacobite Syrians. Through the influence 
of the British Resident, and in the hope of effecting the 
union proposed by Dr. Buchanan, the Church Mission 
Society commenced their labours in 1816. The English 
Missionaries began their work under favourable circum- 
stances, and the most cordial relations existed between 
the Syrians and the missionaries for some years, so much 
so that the latter frequently visited the Syrian churches, 
and even preached sermons. On the death of Dionysius 
III in 1825, or as some say 1827, Cheppat Dionysius 
consecrated by Mar Philixenos again, succeeded as 
Metropolitan under the title of Dionysius IV. During 
his regime, there grew up among the Syrians a party, 


who suspected that the missionaries were using their 
influence with the Metropolitan, and secretly endeavour- 
ing to bring the Syrians under the Protestant Church. 
The conservative party of Syrians stoutly opposed the 
movement. They petitioned the Patriarch of Antioch, 
who at once sent out a Bishop named Athanasius. On 
arrival in 1825, a large number of Syrians flocked to 
him. He even went to the length of threatening Mar 
Dionysius with excommunication. But the Protestant 
missionaries and the British Resident came to the 
rescue of the Metropolitan, and exercised their influence 
with the ruler of Travancore, who forthwith deported 
Athanasius. The deportation of Athanasius streng- 
thened the position of the missionaries. The British 
Resident, and through his influence the native ruler, 
often rendered them the most unqualified support. The 
missionaries who superintended the education of the 
Syrian students in the seminary, having begun to teach 
them doctrines contrary to those of the Jacobite Church, 
the cordiality and friendship that had existed between 
the missionaries and the Metropolitan gradually gave 
place to distrust and suspicion. The party that clung 
to the time-honoured traditions and practices of their 
church soon fanned the flame of discord, and snapped 
asunder the ties of friendship that had bound the 
Metropolitan to the missionaries. Bishop Wilson of 
Calcutta proceeded to Travancore to see if a reconcilia- 
tion could be effected. But his attempts in this direction 
proved fruitless, because the Syrians could not accept 
his proposal to adopt important changes affecting their 
spiritual and temporal concerns, such as doing away 
with prayers for the dead, the revision of their liturgy, 
the management of church funds, etc., and the Syrians 
finally parted company with the missionaries in 1838. 




Soon after this, disputes arose in regard to the funds and 
endowments of the seminary, but they were soon settled 
by arbitration in 1840, and the properties were divided 
between the MetropoHtan and the missionaries. The 
missionaries had friends among the Jacobites, some of 
whom became members of the Church of England. 

The Syrians were rather distressed, because they 
thought that the consecration of their Metropolitan by 
Mar Philixenos was insufficient. They therefore memo- 
rialised the Patriarch of Antioch. There grew up also a 
party hostile to the Metropolitan, and they sent to 
Antioch a Syrian Christian named Mathew. His arri- 
val at Antioch was most opportune. The Patriarch was 
looking out for a proper man. Mathew was therefore 
welcomed, and treated very kindly. He was conse- 
crated as Metropolitan by the Patriarch himself in 1842, 
and sent out with the necessary credentials. He arrived 
in 1843 as Metropolitan of Malankara under the title 
of Mathew Anastatius, and advanced his claims to the 
headship of the Church, but Mar Dionysius resisted 
him, and sent an appeal to the Patriarch of Antioch, in 
which he denounced Mathew as one who had enlisted 
his sympathies with the Protestant missionaries. Upon 
this, the Patriarch sent out one Cyril with power to 
expel Mathew, and, with the connivance of Mar 
Dionysius, Cyril cut the gordian knot by appointing 
himself as Metropolitan of Malabar. Disputes arising, 
a committee was appointed to examine the claims of 
Athanasius and Cyril. The credentials of Cyril were 
proved to be forged, whereupon Athanasius was duly 
installed in his office in 1862, and Cyril fled the country. 
Cyril having failed, the Patriarch sent another Bishop 
named Stephanos, who contributed his mite towards 
widening the breach, and, on the British Resident having 


ordered the Bishop to quit the country, an appeal was 
preferred to the Court of Directors, who insisted on a 
poHcy of non-interference. This bestirred Mar Cyril, 
who reappeared on the scene, and fanned the flame 
of discord. Being ordered to leave Mar Athanasius 
unmolested, he and his friends sent one Joseph to 
Antioch, who returned with fresh credentials in 1866, 
assumed the title of Dionysius V, claimed the office of 
Metropolitan, and applied to the Travancore Govern- 
ment for assistance. Adopting a policy of non-inter- 
ference, the darbar referred him to the Law Courts, in 
case he could not come to terms with Mar Athanasius. 
The Patriarch of Antioch himself visited Cochin and 
Travancore in 1874, and presided over a Synod which 
met at Mulanthurutha in the Cochin State. Resolutions 
affirming the supremacy of Antioch, recognising Mar 
Dionysius as the accredited Metropolitan of Malabar, 
and condemning Mathew Athanasius as a schismatic, 
were passed by the members of the assembly, and the 
Patriarch returned to Mardin in 1876. This, however, 
did not mend matters, and the two parties launched 
themselves into a protracted law suit in 1879, which 
ended in favour of Mar Dionysius in 1S89. Mar 
Athanasius, who had taken up an independent position, 
died in 1875, and his cousin, whom he had consecrated, 
succeeded as Metropolitan under the title of Mar Thomas 
Anastatius. He died in 1893, ^^^ Titus Mar Thoma, 
consecrated likewise by his predecessor, presides over 
the Reformed Party of Jacobite Syrians, who prefer to 
• be called St. Thomas' Syrians. We have thus traced the 
history of the Jacobite Syrians from 1653, and shown 
how they separated themselves into two parties, now 
represented by the Jacobite Syrians under Mar Diony- 
sius, owing allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch, and 


the Reformed Syrians or St. Thomas' Syrians owning 
Titus Mar Thoma as their supreme spiritual head. 
Thus, while the Jacobite Syrians have accepted and 
acknowledged the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Patri- 
arch of Antioch, the St. Thomas' Syrians, maintaining 
that the Jacobite creed was introduced into Malabar 
only in the seventeenth century after a section of the 
church had shaken off the Roman supremacy, uphold 
the ecclesiastical autonomy of the church, whereby the 
supreme control of the spiritual and temporal affairs 
of the church is declared to be in the hands of the 
Metropolitan of Malabar. The St. Thomas' Syri- 
ans hold that the consecration of a Bishop by, or with 
the sanction of the Patriarch of Babylon, Alexandria or 
Antioch, gives no more validity or sanctity to that 
office than consecration by the Metropolitan of Mala- 
bar, the supreme head of the church in Malabar, 
inasmuch as this church is as ancient and apostolic 
as any other, being founded by the apostle St. Thomas ; 
while the Jacobites hold that the consecration of a 
Bishop is not valid, unless it be done with the sanc- 
tion of their Patriarch. The St, Thomas' Syrians have, 
however, no objection to receiving consecration from 
the head of any other episcopal apostolic church, but 
they consider that such consecrations do not in any way 
subject their church to the supremacy of that prelate 
or church. 

Both the Latins and the Romo- Syrians use the 
liturgy of the Church of Rome, the former using the 
Latin, and the latter the Syriac language. It is believed 
by some that the Christians of St. Thomas formerly used 
the liturgy of St. Adaeus, East Syrian, Edessa, but that 
it was almost completely assimilated to the Roman 
liturgy by Portuguese Jesuits at the Synod of Diamper 


in 1599. The Chaldsean Syrians also use the Roman 
liturgy, with the following points of difference in practice, 
communicated to me by their present ecclesiastical 
head : — (i) They perform marriage ceremonies on 
Sundays, instead of week days as the Romo-Syrians do. 
(2) While reading the Gospel, their priests turn to the 
congregation, whereas the Romo-Syrian priests turn 
to the altar. (3) Their priests bless the congregation 
in the middle of the mass, a practice not in vogue 
among the Romo-Syrlans. (4) They use two kinds of 
consecrated oil in baptism, which does away with the 
necessity of confirmation. The Romo-Syrians, on the 
other hand, use only one kind of oil, and hence they 
have to be subsequently confirmed by one of their 

The liturgy used by the Jacobite Syrians and the 
St. Thomas' Syrians is the same, viz., that of St. James. 
The St. Thomas' Syrians have, however, made some 
changes by deleting certain passages from it. [A 
recent writer observes that " a service which I attended 
at the quaint old Syrian church at Kottayam, which 
glories in the possession of one of the three ancient 
stone crosses in India, closely resembled, as far as my 
memory serves me, one which I attended many years 
ago at Antioch, except that the non-sacramental portions 
of the mass were read in Malayalam instead of in Arabic, 
the sacramental words alone being in both cases spoken 
in the ancient Syriac tongue.] In regard to doctrine and 
practice, the following points may be noted : — (i) While 
the Jacobite Syrians look upon the Holy Bible as the 
main authority in matters of doctrine, practice, and ritual, 
they do not allow the Bible to be interpreted except with 
the help of the traditions of the church, the writings of 
the early Fathers, and the decrees of the Holy Synods 


of the undivided Christian period ; but the St. Thomas' 
Syrians believe that the Holy Bible is unique and 
supreme in such matters. (2) While the Jacobites have 
faith in the efficacy and necessity of prayers, charities, 
etc., for the benefit of departed souls, of the invocation 
of the Virgin Mary and the Saints in divine worship, of 
pilgrimages, and of confessing sins to, and obtaining 
absolution from priests, the St. Thomas' Syrians regard 
these and similar practices as unscriptural, tending not 
to the edification of believers, but to the drawing away 
of the minds of believers from the vital and real spiritual 
truths of the Christian Revelation. (3) While the 
Jacobites administer the Lord's Supper to the laity and 
the non-celebrating clergy in the form of consecrated 
bread dipped in consecrated wine, and regard it a sin to 
administer the elements separately after having united 
them in token of Christ's resurrection, the St. Thomas' 
Syrians admit the laity to both the elements after the act 
of uniting them. (4) While the Jacobite Syrians allow 
marriage ceremonies on Sundays, on the plea that, being 
of the nature of a sacrament, they ought to be celebrated 
on Sundays, and that Christ himself had taken part in a 
marriage festival on the Sabbath day, the St. Thomas' 
Syrians prohibit such celebrations on Sundays as unscrip- 
tural, the Sabbath being set apart for rest and religious 
exercises. (5) While the Jacobites believe that the 
mass is as much a memorial of Christ's oblation on 
the cross as it is an unbloody sacrifice offered for the 
remission of the sins of the living and of the faithful dead, 
the St. Thomas' Syrians observe it as a commemoration 
of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. (6) The Jacobites 
venerate the cross and the relics of Saints, while 
the St. Thomas' Syrians regard the practice as idolatry. 
(7) The Jacobites perform mass for the dead, while the 


St. Thomas' Syrians regard it as unscriptural. (8) With 
the Jacobites, remarriage, marriage of widows, and mar- 
riage after admission to full priesthood, reduce a priest 
to the status of a layman, and one united in any such 
marriage is not permitted to perform priestly functions, 
whereas priests of the St. Thomas' Syrian party are 
allowed to contract such marriages without forfeiture of 
their priestly rights. (9) The Jacobite Syrians believe in 
the efficacy of infant baptism, and acknowledge baptismal 
regeneration, while the St. Thomas' Syrians, who also 
baptise infants, deny the doctrine of regeneration in bap- 
tism, and regard the ceremony as a mere external sign 
of admission to church communion. (10) The Jacobites 
observe special fasts, and abstain from certain articles of 
food during such fasts, while the St. Thomas' Syrians 
regard the practice as superstitious. 

The Jacobite Syrian priests are not paid any fixed 
salary, but are supported by voluntary contributions in 
the shape of fees for baptism, marriages, funerals, etc. 
The Romo- Syrian and Latin priests are paid fixed sala- 
ries, besides the above perquisites. The Syrian priests 
are called Kathanars, while the Latin priests go by the 
name of Padres. For the Jacobite Syrians, the morone 
or holy oil required for baptism, consecration of churches, 
ordination of priests, etc., has to be obtained from 
Antioch. The churches under Rome get it from 
Rome. Unlike the Catholic clergy, the Jacobite clergy, 
except their Metropolitan and the Rambans, are allowed 
to marry. 

The generality of Syrians of the present day trace 
their descent from the higher orders of the H indu society, 
and the observance by many of them of certain customs 
prevalent more or less among high-caste Hindus bears 
out this fact. It is no doubt very curious that, in spite 


of their having been Christians for centuries together, 
they still retain the traditions of their Hindu forefathers. 
It may sound very strange, but it is none the less true, 
that caste prejudices which influence their Hindu brethren 
in all social and domestic relations obtain to some extent 
among some sections of the Syrian Christians, but, with 
the spread of a better knowledge of the teachings of 
Christ, the progress of English education, and contact 
with European Christians, caste observances are gradu- 
ally dying out. The following relics of old customs may, 
however, be noted : — 

(i) Some Christians make offerings to Hindu 
temples with as much reverence as they do in their 
own churches. 

Some non-Brahman Hindus likewise make offer- 
ings to Christian churches. 

(2) Some sections of Syrians have faith in horo- 
scopes, and get them cast for new-born babies, just as 
Hindus do. 

(3) On the wedding day, the bridegroom ties round 
the neck of the bride a tali (small ornament made of 
gold). This custom is prevalent among all classes of 
Native Christians. On the death of their husbands, 
some even remove the tali to indicate widowhood, as is 
the custom among the Brahmans. 

(4) When a person dies, his or her children, if 
any, and near relatives, observe pula (death pollution) 
for a period ranging from ten to fifteen days. The 
observance imposes abstinence from animal food. The 
pula ends with a religious ceremony in the church, with 
feasting friends and relatives in the house, and feeding 
the poor, according to one's means. Sradha, or anniver- 
sary ceremony for the soul of the dead, is performed 
with services in the church and feasts in the house. 

vi-30 B 


(5) In rural parts especially, the Onam festival 
of the Malayali Hindus is celebrated with great dclat, 
with feasting, making presents of cloths to children and 
relatives, out-door and in-door games, etc. 

(6) Vishu, or new-year's day, is likewise a gala 
day, when presents of small coins are made to children, 
relatives, and the poor. 

(7) The ceremony of first feeding a child with rice 
(annaprasanam or ch5runu of the Hindus) is celebrated 
generally in the sixth month after birth. Parents often 
make vows to have the ceremony done in a particular 
church, as Hindu parents take their children to particular 
temples in fulfilment of special vows. 

(8) The Syrians do not admit within their premises 
low-castes, e.g., Pulayans, Paraiyans, etc., even after the 
conversion of the latter to Christianity. They enforce 
even distance pollution, though not quite to the same 
extent as Malayali Hindus do. Iluvans are allowed 
admission to their houses, but are not allowed to cook 
their meals. In some parts, they are not even allowed 
to enter the houses of Syrians. 

There are no intermarriages between Syrians of the 
various denominations and Latin Catholics. Under 
very exceptional circumstances, a Romo-Syrian contracts 
a marriage with one of Latin rite, and vice versa, but this 
entails many difficulties and disabilities on the issues. 
Among the Latins themselves, there are, again, no 
intermarriages between the communities of the seven 
hundred, the five hundred, and the three hundred. The 
difference of cult and creed has led to the prohibition 
of marriages between the Romo-Syrians and Jacobite 
Syrians. The Jacobite Syrians properly so called, St. 
Thomas' Syrians, and the Syro- Protestants do, however, 
intermarry. The Southerners and Northerners do not 


intermarry ; any conjugal ties effected between them 
subject the former to some kind of social excom- 
munication. This exclusiveness, as we have already 
said, is claimed on the score of their descent from 
the early colonists from Syria. The Syrians in general, 
and the Jacobite Syrians in particular, are greater 
stricklers to customs than other classes of Native 

We have already referred to the privileges granted 
to the Syrians by the Hindu kings in early times. They 
not only occupied a very high position in the social scale, 
but also enjoyed at different times the rare distinction 
of forming a section of the body-guard of the king and 
the militia of the country. Education has of late made 
great progress among them. The public service has 
now been thrown open to them, so that those who have 
had the benefit of higher education now hold some of 
the important posts in the State. In enterprises of all 
kinds, they are considerably ahead of their Hindu and 
Musalman brethren, so that we see them take very 
kindly to commerce, manufacture, agriculture, etc. ; in 
fact, in every walk of life, they are making their mark 
by their industry and enterprise.* 

The following additional information is contained in 
the Gazetteer of Malabar. " The men are to be distin- 
guished by the small cross worn round the neck, and the 

♦ In the preparation of the above sketch, the following authoriiies, among 
others, were consulted : Sir W. W. Hunter, Indian Empire and History of British 
India ; J. Hough, History of Christianity in India ; T. Whitehouse, Lingerings of 
Light in a Dark Land ; G. T. Mackenzie, Christianity inTravancore ; F. Day, Land 
of the Perumauls ; T. Logan, Manual of Malabar ; Christian College Magazine, 
Madras, Vol. VI ; and Judgments of the Civil Courts of Travancore and Cochin. 
To the bibliography relating to the Syrian Christians may also be added L. M. 
Agur, Church History of Travancore, the Rev. G. Milne Rae, the Syrian Church 
in India, and the Rev. W. J. Richards, the Indian Christians of St. Thomas. The 
Malabar Quarterly Review, VI, i and 2, 1907, may also be consulted. 


women by their tali, which has 2 1 beads on it, set in the 
form of a cross. Their churches are ugly rectangular 
buildings with flat or arched wooden roofs and white- 
washed facades. They have no spire, but the chancel, 
which is at the east end, is usually somewhat higher than 
the nave. Between the chancel and the body of the 
church is a curtain, which is drawn while the priest 
consecrates the elements at the mass. Right and left 
of the chancel are two rooms, the vestry and the 
sacristy. At the west end is a gallery, in which the 
unmarried priests sometimes live. Most churches con- 
tain three altars, one in the chancel, and the other two 
at its western ends on each side. There are no images 
in Jacobite or Reformed churches, but there are some- 
times pictures. Crucifixes are placed on the altars, and 
in other parts of the churches. The clergy and men of 
influence are buried in the nave just outside the chancel. 
The Syrian Bishops are called Metrans. They are celi- 
bates, and live on the contributions of their churches. 
They wear purple robes and black silk cowls figured with 
golden crosses, a big gold cross round the neck, and a 
ring on the fourth finger of the right hand. Bishops are 
nominated by their predecessors from the body of Ram- 
bans, who are men selected by priests and elders in 
advance to fill the Episcopate. Metrans are buried in 
their robes in a sitting posture. Their priests are called 
Cattanars. They should strictly pass through the seven 
offices of ostiary, reader, exorcist, acolyte, sub-deacon 
and deacon before becoming priests ; but the first three 
offices practically no longer exist. The priestly office is 
often hereditary, descending by the marumakkattayam 
system (inheritance in the female line). Jacobite and 
St. Thomas' Syrian priests are paid by contributions from 
their parishioners, fees at weddings, and the like. Their 


ordinary dress consists of white trousers, and a kind of 
long white shirt with short sleeves and a flap hanging 
down behind, supposed to be in the form of a cross. 
Over this the Jacobites now wear a black coat. Priests 
are allowed to marry, except in the Romo-Syrian com- 
munity ; but, among the Jacobites, a priest may not marry 
after he has once been ordained, nor may he re-marry or 
marry a widow. Malpans, or teachers, are the heads of 
the religious colleges, where priests are trained. Jaco- 
bites also now shave clean, while other Syrian priests 
wear the tonsure. Every church has not more than four 
Kaikkars or churchwardens, who are elected from the 
body of parishioners. They are the trustees of the 
church property, and, with the priest, constitute a disci- 
plinary body, which exercises considerable powers in 
religious and social matters over the members of the 
congregation. The Romo-Syrians follow the doctrines 
and ritual of the Roman Catholics, but they use a Syriac 
version* of the Latin liturgy. Jacobites and St. Thomas' 
Christians use the Syriac liturgy of St. James. Few 
even of the priests understand Syriac, and, in the 
Reformed Syrian churches, a Malayalam translation of 
the Syriac liturgy has now been generally adopted. The 
Jacobites say masses for the dead, but do not believe in 
purgatory ; they invoke the Virgin Mary, venerate the 
cross and relics of saints ; they recognise only three sacra- 
ments, baptism, marriage (which they always celebrate 
on Sundays) and the mass ; they prescribe auricular 
confession before mass, and at the mass administer the 
bread dipped in the wine ; they recite the Eastern form 
of the Nicene Creed, and discourage laymen from study- 
ing the Bible. The Reformed Syrians differ from them in 

* The Syriac is not a modern Syriac dialect, but is very like the ancient 


most of these points. The Jacobites observe the ordinary 
festivals of the church ; the day of the patron saint of 
each church is celebrated with special pomp, and on the 
offerings made on that day the priests largely depend for 
their income. They keep Lent, which they call the fifty 
days' fast, strictly from the Sunday before Ash Wednes- 
day, abjuring all meat, fish, ghee, and toddy ; and on 
Maundy Thursday they eat a special kind of unsweet- 
ened cake marked with a cross, in the centre of which 
the karnavan of the family should drive a nail, and drink 
a kanji of rice and cocoanut-milk (the meal is said to 
symbolize the Passover and the Last Supper, and the nail 
is supposed to be driven into the eye of Judas Iscariot). 
" Amongst the Syrian Christians, as amongst the 
Mappillas, there are many survivals of Hindu customs 
and superstitions, and caste prejudices have by no means 
disappeared amongst the various sections of the commu- 
nity. Southerners and Northerners will not intermarry, 
and families who trace their descent from Brahmans 
and Nayars will, in many cases, not admit lower classes 
to their houses, much less allow them to cook for them 
or touch them. Most of the Syrians observe the Onam 
and Vishu festivals ; the astrologer is frequently consulted 
to cast horoscopes and tell omens ; while it is a common 
custom for persons suffering from diseases to seek a cure 
by buying silver or tin images of the diseased limb, 
which their priest has blessed. Similar survivals are to be 
noticed in their social ceremonies. A Pulikudi ceremony, 
similar to that of the Hindus, was commonly performed 
till recently, though it has now fallen into disuse. 
Immediately on the birth of a child, three drops of honey 
in which gold has been rubbed are poured into its mouth 
by its father, and the mother is considered to be under 
pollution till the tenth day. Baptism takes place on the 


fourteenth day amongst the Southern Jacobites, and 
amongst other divisions on the fifty-sixth day. A rice- 
giving ceremony similar to the Hindu Chorunnu is still 
sometimes performed in the fifth or sixth month, when 
the child is presented by the mother with a gold cross, 
if a boy, or a small gold coin or taluvam if a girl, to be 
worn round the neck. 

" Among the Jacobites early marriage was the rule 
until comparatively recently, boys being married at ten 
or twelve years of age, and girls at six or seven. Now 
the more usual age for marriage is sixteen in the case 
of boys, and twelve in the case of girls. Weddings 
take place on Sundays, and, amongst the Northerners, 
may be celebrated in either the bride's or the bride- 
groom's parish church. On the two Sundays before 
the wedding, the banns have to be called in the two 
churches, and the marriage agreements concluded in 
the presence of the parish priests (Ottu kalyanam). 
The dowry, which is an essential feature of Syrian 
weddings, is usually paid on the Sunday before the 
wedding. It should consist of an odd number of rupees, 
and should be tied up in a cloth. On the Thursday 
before the wedding day, the house is decorated with rice 
flour, and on the Saturday the marriage pandal (booth), 
is built. The first ceremonial takes place on Saturday 
night when bride and bridegroom both bathe, and the 
latter is shaved. Next morning both bride and bride- 
groom attend the ordinary mass, the bridegroom being 
careful to enter the church before the bride. Now-a- 
days both are often dressed more or less in European 
fashion, and it is essential that the bride should wear as 
many jewels as she has got, or can borrow for the occa- 
sion. Before leaving his house, the bridegroom is blessed 
by his guru to whom he gives a present (dakshina) of 


clothes and money. He is accompanied by a bestman, 
usually his sister's husband, who brings the tali. After 
mass, a tithe (pathuvaram) of the bride's dowry is paid 
to the church as the marriage fee, a further fee to the 
priest (kaikasturi), and a fee called kaimuttupanam for 
the bishop. The marriage service is then read, and, at 
its conclusion, the bridegroom ties the tali round the 
bride's neck with threads taken from her veil, making a 
special kind of knot, while the priest holds the tali in 
front. The priest and the bridegroom then put a veil 
(mantravadi) over the bride's head. The tali should not 
be removed so long as the girl is married, and should be 
buried with her. The veil should also be kept for her 
funeral. The bridal party returns home in state, special 
umbrellas being held over the bride and bridegroom. 
At the gate they are met by the bride's sister carrying 
a lighted lamp, and she washes the bridegroom's feet. 
The married couple then go to the pandal, where they 
are ceremonially fed with sweets and plantains by the 
priest and by representatives of their two families, to the 
accompaniment of the women's kurava (cry), and in the 
presence of the guests, who are seated in order of prece- 
dence, the chief persons having seats of honour covered 
with black rugs and white cloths (vellayum karimbada- 
vum), traditionally a regal honour. The bride and bride- 
groom are then led into the house by the bestman and 
bride's uncle, the bride being careful to enter it right foot 
first ; and the guests are feasted in order of rank. It is a 
peculiar custom of the Syrian Christians at these feasts 
to double up the ends of the plantain leaves which serve 
them as plates, and is supposed to be symbolical of the 
royal privilege of eating off a double plate. Until the 
following Wednesday, the bestman sleeps with the 
bridegroom in the bridal chamber, the bride occupying 


another room. On Wednesday evening comes the 
ceremony called nalam kuli, or fourth day bath. The 
bridegroom and the bestman, who are in the bridal 
chamber, lock the door ; the bride's mother knocks and 
begs the bridegroom to come out, which he at last does 
after she has sung a song (vathilturapattu) celebrating 
the attractions and virtues of the bride. The bride- 
groom and |)ride then bathe, dress in new clothes, and 
go to the pandal, where they perform paradakshinams 
round a lighted lamp, and the bridegroom gives cloths 
to the bride's uncle, mother, and grand-parents. The 
married couple are then escorted to the bridal chamber, 
which has in the interval been cleaned and prepared for 
them. The next morning they have to go to the bride- 
groom's or bride's house as the case may be, and there 
eat together and go through a ceremonial similar to that 
which they performed on the wedding day in the other 
house. This concludes the marriage ceremonies, but on 
Sunday the bridegroom and bride should attend mass 
together in the bride's parish church if they were mar- 
ried in the bridegroom's, and vice versa. Amongst the 
Southern Jacobites, the ceremonies are very similar, 
but the dowry is not paid till the marriage day, or till the 
girl's first confinement. Half the pathuvaram is paid 
to the priest instead of a kaikasturi, and the bridegroom 
puts a ring on the bride's finger during the marriage 
service. After the church service, the couple go to the 
bridegroom's house, where they are fed ceremonially by 
the bride's mother, and the subsequent feast is at the 
expense of the bride's people. On Monday morning, the 
bridegroom is ceremonially fed by the bride's mother 
in the bridal chamber (manavalan choru), and in the 
evening there is a ceremony called manavalan tazhuk- 
kal, in which | the bride and bridegroom are embraced in 


turn by their respective parents and relations, after 
which there is a feast with singing of hymns. Before 
the couple leave for the bride's house on Thursday, 
there is a big feast, called kudivirunnu, given by the 
bridegroom to the bride's people, followed by a cere- 
mony called vilakku toduga, in which men and women 
sing hymns and dance round a lighted lamp, which 
they touch at intervals. Amongst the Romo-Syrians 
and the Reformed sect, the marriage ceremonies have 
less trace of Hindu ritual ; they do not celebrate wed- 
dings on Sundays, and have no nalam kuli ceremony, 
but a tali is usually tied in addition to the giving of 
a ring. 

" At funerals (except amongst the Reformed sect) 
it is usual for each of the dead man's connections to 
bring a cloth to serve as a shroud, before the body is 
lowered into the grave, holy oil is poured into the eyes, 
nostrils and ears. The mourners are under pollution, 
and fast till the day of the second funeral or pula kuli 
(purification), and till then masses should be said daily 
for the dead. The pula kuli is celebrated usually on the 
nth day, but may be deferred till the 15th, 17th or 21st, 
or sometimes to the 41st. The mourners are incensed, 
while hymns are sung and prayers offered. Each then 
gives a contribution of money to the priest, and receives 
in return a pinch of cummin. A feast is then given to 
the neighbours and the poor. On the 40th day there 
is another feast, at which meat is eaten by the mourn- 
ers for the first time. A requiem mass should be said 
each month on the day of death for twelve months, and 
on the first anniversary the mourning concludes with 
a feast." 

To the foregoing account of the Syrian Christians, 
a few stray notes may be added. 


It is recorded by Sir M. E. Grant Duff, formerly 
Governor of Madras,* that " the interesting body known 
as the Syrian Christians or Christians of St. Thomas is 
divided into several groups much opposed to each other. 
In an excellent address presented to me they said that 
this was the occasion which, for the first time after ao-es 
of separation, witnessed the spectacle of all the different 
sects of their community, following divergent articles 
of faith, sinking for once their religious differences to do 
honour to their friend." 

Some years ago, the wife of a District Judge of 
Calicut asked the pupils of a school how long they had 
been Christians. " We were," came the crushing reply, 
" Christians when you English were worshipping Druids, 
and stained with woad." More recently, the master at 
a college in Madras called on all Native Christians in 
his class to stand up. Noticing that one boy remained 
seated, he called on him for an explanation, when the 
youth explained that he was a Syrian Christian, and not 
a Native Christian. 

It is noted by the Rev. W. J. Richards that "at the 
very time that our King John was pulling out Jews' 
teeth to make them surrender their treasures, Hindu 
princes were protecting Jewish and Christian subjects, 
whose ancestors had been honoured by Royal grants for 
hundreds of years." 

The Southerners say that they can be distinguished 
from the Northerners by the red tinge of their hair. 
A man with reddish moustache, and a dark-skinned 
baby with brilliant red hair, whose father had red 
whiskers, were produced before me in support of the 

♦ Notes from a Diary, i88r— 86. 


As examples of Old and New Testament names 
occurring, in a changed form, among Syrian Christians, 
the following may be cited : — 

Abraham, Abragam. 

Joshua, Koshi. 

Peter, Puthros, Ittiyerah, Itte. 

Paul, Powlos. 

John, Yohan, Sonanan, Chona. 

Titus, Tetos. 

Matthew, Mathai, Mathen. 

Philip, Philippos, Papi, Eippe, Eapen. 

Thomas, Thoma, Thommi, Thommen. 

Joseph, Ouseph. 

Jacob, Yacob, Chako 

Alexander, Chandi. 

Samuel, Chamuel. 

Mary, Maria, Mariam. 

Sarah, Sara. 

Susannah, Sosa. 

Rebecca, Rabka, Raca 

Elizabeth, Elspeth, Elia, Elacha. 

Rachael, Rachi, Raghael, Chacha. 
Syrian Christians take the name of their father, their 
own name, and that of their residence. Whence arise 
such names as Edazayhikkal Mathoo Philippos, Kun- 
nampuram Thommen Chandi, and Chandakadayil Joseph 

I have seen some Syrian Christian men tattooed 
with a cross on the upper arm, and a cross and their 
initials on the forearm. 

In conclusion, I may, for the sake of comparison, 
place on record the averages of the more important 
physical measurements of Northerner and Southerner 
Syrian Christians and Nayars. 



30 Syrian Christians. 



40 Nayars. 





Cephalic length 




Cephalic breadth 




Cephalic index .. 




Nasal height 




Nasal breadth 




Nasal index ... 




It may be noted that, in his ' Letters from Malabar,' 
Canter Visscher, in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
writes that the St. Thomas' Christians " keep very strict 
genealogical records, and they will neither marry nor in 
any way intermingle with the new low-caste Christians, 
being themselves mostly Castade Naiross, that is, nobi- 
lity of the Nayar caste, in token of which they generally 
carry a sword in the hand, as a mark of dignity." 

It is stated by E. Petersen and F. V. Luschan * that 
" probably a single people originally occupied the greater 
part of Asia Minor. They are still represented as a 
compact group by the Armenians. The type resembles 
the Dissentis type of His and Riitimeyer ; the head 
extremely short and high, stature moderate, skin dark, 
eyes dark, and hair dark and smooth. It extends through 
the S. half of Asia Minor, N.E. to the Caucasus, and 
E. to the Upper Euphrates. The Tachtadschy people, 
a hill people living without serious mixture with other 
peoples, give measurements closely like the Armenians." 
[The cephalic index of Armenians is given by E. 
Chantre t as 85-86.] 

♦ Recherches Anthropologiques dans le Caucase, IV, 1S87. 
t Reisen in Lykien, Melyas, und Kibyratis, II, 18S9. 



In the following table, the averages of some of the 
more important measurements of the Syrian Christians 
and Tachtadschy people are recorded : — 










Syrian Christians, Northerner ... 
Syrian Christians, Southerner ... 






Madras: Printed by Thb Superintendent, Government Press.^' / 

University of California 


405 Hllgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 

Return this material to tlie lilnary 

from which it was borrowed. 

UCLA-College Ubrary 

DS 430 T42C v.6 

L 005 763 720 9 




A 001 086 067 4