2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

Beispiele zu: Kranzler

Hrsg. von Alois Payer 

Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ  (Über Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker.  -- Beispiele zu: Kranzler. -- Fassung vom 2017-12-04. --  URL:                                                       

Erstmals hier publiziert:


©opyright: Creative Commons Lizenz (Namensnennung, keine kommerzielle Nutzung, share alike)

Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Sanskrit von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

Meinem Lehrer und Freund

Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron

ist die gesamte Amarakośa-Übersetzung

in Dankbarkeit gewidmet.

Falls Sie die diakritischen Zeichen nicht dargestellt bekommen, installieren Sie eine Schrift mit Diakritika wie z.B. Tahoma.

Die Devanāgarī-Zeichen sind in Unicode kodiert. Sie benötigen also eine Unicode-Devanāgarī-Schrift.

Māli [माली] (NW-Provinces und Oudh)

"Māli [माली] 2 (Sanskrit mālika [मालिक],“ a garland-maker,”) a caste whose primary occupation is gardening and providing flowers for use in Hindu worship.—The caste is a purely occupational one, and there is good reason to suppose that the Māli [माली] is closely allied to the Kurmi [कुर्मी], Koiri [कोइरी], and Kāchhi [काछी], the two last of whom engage in the finer kind of culture which resembles that of the regular Māli [माली]. At the same time the caste cannot be a very ancient one.

2 Based on enquiries at Mirzapur and notes by Bābu Ātma Rām, Head-master, High School, Mathura [मथुरा] ; M. Baldeo Sahāy, Head-master, High School, Fatehgarh [फ़तेहगढ़] ; M. Bhagwati Dayāl Sinh, Tahsildar, Chhibramau, Farrukhābād [फ़र्रूख़ाबाद].

“Generally speaking it may be said that flowers have scarcely a place in the Veda. Wreaths of flowers, of course, are used as decorations, but the separate flowers and their beauty are not yet appreciated. That lesson was first learned later by the Hindu when surrounded by another flora. Amongst the Homerie Greeks, too, in spite of their extensive gardening, and their different names for different flowers, not a trace of horticulture is yet to be found.·” 1

1 Schrader, Prehistoric Antiquities. 121

2. Tribal legends.

One story of the origin of the caste is that one day Pārvati [पार्वती] was plucking flowers in her garden, when a thorn pierced her finger. She complained to Siva [शिव], who took a particle of sandalwood from his head, or by another account a drop of his perspiration, and on this Pārvati [पार्वती] wiped the blood from her wounded finger, and thus the first Māli [माली] was created. According to the Bengal [বঙ্গ] legend as told by Mr. Risley, they trace their descent from the garland-maker attached to the household of Rāja Kans at Mathura [मथुरा]. Krishna [कृष्ण] asked him one day for a garland of flowers, and he at once gave it.

“ On being told to fasten it with a string, he, for want of any other, took off his Brahmanical cord and tied it; on which Krishna [कृष्ण] most ungenerously rebuked him for his simplicity in parting with it, and announced that in future he would be ranked among the Sūdras [शूद्र].”

3. Internal organisation.

According to the returns of the last Census the Mālis [माली] are divided into eight principal endogamous sub-castes:
  • Barhauliya,
  • Baheniya,
  • Bhāgīrathi [भागीरथी],
  • Dilliwāl [दिल्लीवाल] or Dehliwāl,
  • Golē [गोळे],
  • Kapri, whose speciality is making the crowns, ornaments, etc., used in Hindu marriage processions, 
  • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया], and
  • Phūlmāli [फूलमाली].

The complete Census returns record 853 sub-divisions, among which those of most local importance are the 

  • Deswāli [देशवाली] of Sahāranpur [सहारनपुर];
  • the Panwār [पंवार] and Samri of Bulandshahr [बुलन्दशहर]; 
  • the Bahliyān, Bhanolē, Bhawāni, Bhomiyān, Khatri, Mohur, Meghiyān, Mulāna, and Pemaniyān of Morādābād [मुरादाबाद];
  • the Rājpuriya and Tholiya of Basti [बस्ती],
  • the Kota of the Tarāi [तराई].
  • In Farrukhābād [फ़र्रूख़ाबाद] we also find the Kachhmāli, who claim kinship with the Kāchhis [काछी]; Khatiya, who are said to owe their name to their constant use of manure (khāt [खाद]), and the Hardiya or growers of turmeric (haldi [हल्दी]).
  • In Agra are found the Mathur [मथुर] or “residents of Mathura [मथुरा],” who are the same as the Phūlmāli [फूलमाली] or “ flower” Māli, work only as gardeners, and forbid widow marriage; the Mewāti [मेवाती], or “those from Mewāt [मेवात],’ who allow widow marriage and the Dilwāri [दिल्लवारी], or Delhi branch, who permit widow marriage, and work at drawing gold and silver wire.
  • In Mathura [मथुरा] are found the Phūlmāli [फूलमाली], Surāh, Hardiya, Saini [सैनी], Golē [गोळे] and Kāchhi [काछी]; of which the Saini [सैनी] and Kāchhi [काछी] are usually treated as separate castes, and have been so recorded at the last enumeration.

The sub-castes of the Mālis [माली] and Sainis [सैनी] also disclose a strong resemblance. These sub-castes are endogamous and are each divided into a number of gotras [गोत्र], a fairly complete list of which no member of the caste can pretend to supply. The rule of exogamy is thus stated at Mathura [मथुरा] : A man can marry within his own sub-caste, subject to the condition that the bride is not of the same gotra [गोत्र] as that of the bridegroom, his mother, and grandmother. He can marry two sisters, but the second wife must be younger than the first. Marriage is usually infant if the parties can afford it, but the marriage of poor adult males is not uncommon. Widows and divorced wives can re-marry by the sagāi [सगाई] or dharīcha form, and the levirate is permitted under the usual conditions, but is not compulsory on the woman.

4. Religion.

In Mathura [मथुरा] they are Saktas [शक्त] and worship Devi [देवी] as their tribal deity. In Farrukhābād [फ़र्रूख़ाबाद] thev have a tribal godling named Kurehna, to whom they make offerings of he-goats, rams, and sweetmeats at marriages and at the birth of a male child. These offerings are made in the house with closed doors, and no member of another caste is allowed to be present. The offerings are eaten by the family, and whatever is left is immediately buried with great precautions against any one seeing the performance. In Dehra Dūn [देहरादून] they are worshippers of Kāli Devi [काली देवी], Aghornāth [अघोरनाथ], and Narasinha Deva [नरसिंह देव]. To the East of the Province they worship Kāli [काली] and Mahākāli [महाकाली], and the Pānchonpīr [पांचों पीर] in the manner common to castes of the same social grade.

5. Occupation.

The primary occupation of the Māli [माली] is gardening and he is employed by private persons, or grows flowers and vegetables in his own land for sale. In the larger towns there is a considerable trade in flowers, which are used at marriages and other festivities, and bought to be offered at the daily worship of the gods. Some are again used for the manufacture of essences, of which the rose-water made in large quantities at Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर] and Fatehgarh [फ़तेहगढ़]  is a good example. The regular distiller of these essences is the Gandhi [गंधी], who buys flowers from Mālis [माली]. There is also a wholesale dealer in flowers called Gulfarosh or “rose seller,” who purchases flowers in large quantities and supplies orders for important marriages, etc. The Māli [माली] again provides the nuptial crown (maur [मौड]) for the bridegroom. He has another special function, as the village priest of Sītala [शीतला], and when an epidemic of small-pox rages in a village, a general subscription is raised, out of which the Māli [माली] does the necessary worship to Kāli [काली] and Sītala [शीतला]. He also inoculates children, and is thus a constant opponent to our vaccinators. In this capacity he is known as Darshaniya [दर्शनीय] (darshan [दर्शन], “seeing, worshipping”). In the same way he is sometimes employed as a sort of hedge priest to the village godlings and minor gods when the services of a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] or Sannyāsi [संन्यासी] are not available.

6. Social rank. 

The rank of the Māli [माली] is fairly respectable. They eat goat's flesh and mutton, but not beef, and drink liquor. In Farrukhābād [फ़र्रूख़ाबाद] they will eat pakki [पक्की] of Kāyasths [कायस्थ]; kachchi [कच्ची] of Lohārs [लोहार] and Sunārs [सुनार]; and drink water with the same. Nāis [नाई] and Kahārs [कहार] will eat pakki [पक्की]  from them, and Kahārs [कहार] will eat their kachchi [कच्ची]. The Māli [माली] is a well-known figure in the folktales. The hero is often his son, or is protected by the gardener and his wife. One popular verse runs—

Māli chāhē barasna; Dhobi chāhē dhūp; Sāhu chāhē bolna ; chor chāhē chup.

[माली चाहे बरसाना;
चाहे धूप;
चाह बोलना;
चाहे चुप]

“ The gardener prays for rain ; the washerman for sunshine ; the banker loves a chat ; and the thief quiet.”"

[Quelle: Crooke, William <1848-1923>: The tribes and castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh. -- Calcutta : Office of the superintendent of government printing, 1896 - 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 452 - 455]

Mālī (Südindien)

Abb.: Mallees [Mālī / माळी], or Gardeners, Western India, 1855-1862
[Bildquelle: William Johnson. -- -- Zugriff am 2017-06-23]


The Mālis,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes (Madras Census ṛeport, 1891), “ are now mostly cultivators, but their traditional occupation (from which the caste name is derived) is making garlands, and providing flowers for the service of Hindu temples. They are especially clever in growing vegetables. Their vernacular is Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ].”

It is noted, in the Census Report, 1901, that the temple servants wear the sacred thread, and employ Brāhmans as priests. It is further recorded, in the Census Report, 1871, that 

“the Mālis are, as their name denotes, gardeners. They chose for their settlements sites where they were able to turn a stream to irrigate a bit of land near their dwellings. Here they raise fine crops of vegetables, which they carry to the numerous markets throughout the country. Their rights to the lands acquired from the Parjās (Porojas) are of a substantial nature, and the only evidence to show their possessions were formerly Parjā bhūmi (Poroja lands) is perhaps a row of upright stones erected by the older race to the memory of their village chiefs.”

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Mālis say that their ancestors lived originally at Kāsi [काशी] (Benares), whence they emigrated to serve under the Rāja of Jeypore [जयपुर]. They are divided into the following sub-divisions :—

  • Bodo,
  • Pondra,
  • Kosalya, 
  • Pannara, Sonkuva, and
  • Dongrudiya.

The name Pondra is said to be derived from podoro, a dry field. I am informed that, if a Pondra is so prosperous as to possess a garden which requires the employment of a picottah, he is bound to entertain as many men of his caste as choose to go to his house. A man without a picottah may refuse to receive such visits. A picottah is the old-fashioned form of a machine still used for raising water, and consists of a long lever or yard pivotted on an upright post, weighted on the short arm, and bearing a line and bucket on the long arm.

Abb.: Picottah
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2017-06-23. -- Fair use]

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

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

A Bodo Māli girl, who does not secure a husband before she reaches puberty, is said to be turned out of the caste.

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

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

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

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 440 - 443]

Māli [माळी], Marār [मरार], Marāl [मराल] (Central Provinces)

Māli [माळी], Marār [मरार], Marāl [मराल]


  1. General notice of the caste, and its social position.
  2. Caste legend.
  3. Flowers offered to the gods.
  4. Custom of wearing garlands.
  5. Subcastes.
  6. Marriage.
  7. Widow-marriage, divorce and polygamy.
  8. Disposal of the dead.
  9. Religion.
  10. Occupation.
  11. Traits and characters.
  12. Other functions of the Māli [माळी].
  13. Physical appearance.

Māli [माळी], Marār [मरार], Marāl [मराल].1

1 This article is based principally on Mr. Low's description of the Marārs in the Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] [बालाघाट] District Gazetteer and on a paper by Major Sutherland, LM.S.

1. General notice of the caste, and its social position.

The functional caste of vegetable and flower-gardeners. The terms Māli [माळी] and Marār [मरार] appear to be used indifferently for the same caste, the former being more common in the west of the Province and the latter in the eastern Satpura [सतपुड़ा] Districts and the Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] plain. In the Nerbudda [नर्मदा] valley and on the Vindhyan [विन्‍ध्य] plateau the place of both Māli [माळी] and Marār [मरार] is taken by the Kāchhi [काछी] of Upper India.2 Marār [मरार] appears to be a Marathi [मराठी] name, the original term, as pointed out by Mr. Hira Lāl [हीरालाल], being Malāl, or one who grows garden-crops in a field ; but the caste is often called Māli [माळी] in the Marātha [मराठा] country and Marār [मरार] in the Hindi Districts. The word Māli [माळी] is derived from the Sanskrit māla [माला], a garland. In 1911 the Mālis [माळी] numbered nearly 360,000 persons in the present area of the Central Provinces, and 200,000 in Berār [बेरार]. A German writer remarks of the caste 3 that :

2 C.P. Census Report (1891), para. 180.
3 Schröder,
Prehistoric Antiquities, 121, quoted in Crooke’s 'Tribes and Castes, art. Māli [माळी].

“It cannot be considered to be a very ancient one. Generally speaking, it may be said that flowers have scarcely a place in the Veda. Wreaths of flowers, of course, are used as decorations, but the separate flowers and their beauty are not yet appreciated. That lesson was first learned later by the Hindus when surrounded by another flora. Amongst the Homeric Greeks, too, in spite of their extensive gardening and different flowers, not a trace of horticulture is yet to be found.”

It seems probable that the first Mālis [माळी] were not included among the regular cultivators of the village but were a lower group permitted to take up the small waste plots of land adjoining the inhabited area and fertilised by its drainage, and the sandy stretches in the beds of rivers, on which they were able to raise the flowers required for offerings and such vegetables as were known. They still hold a lower rank than the ordinary cultivator. Sir D. Ibbetson writes 1 of the gardening castes :

1 Punjab Census Report (1S81), para. 483.

“The group now to be discussed very generally hold an inferior position among the agricultural community and seldom if ever occupy the position of the dominant tribe in any considerable tract of country. The cultivation of vegetables is looked upon as degrading by the agricultural classes, why I know not, unless it be that night-soil is generally used for their fertilisation ; and a Rājpūt [राजपूत] would say : ‘ What! Do you take me for an Arāin [आराइन / آرائیں]? ’ if anything was proposed which he considered derogatory.”

But since most Mālis [माळी] in the Central Provinces strenuously object to using night-soil as a manure the explanation that this practice has caused them to rank below the agricultural castes does not seem sufficient. And if the use of night-soil were the real circumstance which determined their social position, it seems certain that Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] would not take water from their hands as they do. Elsewhere Sir D. Ibbetson remarks:2

2 Ibidem, para. 484.

“The Mālis [माळी] and Sainis [सैनी], like all vegetable growers, occupy a very inferior position among the agricultural castes ; but of the two the Sainis [सैनी] are probably the higher, as they more often own land or even whole villages, and are less generally mere market-gardeners than are the Mālis [माळी].”

Here is given what may perhaps be the true reason for the status of the Māli [माळी] caste as a whole. Again Sir C. Elliot wrote in the Hoshangābād Settlement Report: 

“Garden crops are considered as a kind of fancy agriculture and the true cultivator, the Kisān [किसान], looks on them withcontempt as little peddling matters ; what stirs his ambition is a fine large wheat-field eighty or a hundred acres in extent, as flat as a billiard-table and as black as a Gond.” 

Similarly Mr. Low1 states that in Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] the Panwārs [पंवार], the principal agricultural caste, look down on the Marārs [मरार] as growers of petty crops like sama and kutki. In Wardha [वर्धा] the Dāngris, a small caste of melon and vegetable growers, are an offshoot of the Kunbis [कुणबी]; and they will take food from the Kunbis [कुणबी], though these will not accept it from them, their social status being thus distinctly lower than that of the parent caste. Again the Kohlis of Bhandāra [भंडारा], who grow sugarcane with irrigation, are probably derived from an aboriginal tribe, the Kols, and, though they possess a number of villages, rank lower than the regular cultivating castes. It is also worth noting that they do not admit tenant-right in their villages among their own caste, and allot the sugarcane plots among the cultivators at pleasure.2 In Nimār [निमाड़] the Mālis [माळी] rank below the Kunbis [कुणबी] and Gūjars [गूजर], the good agricultural castes, and it is said that they grow the crops which the cultivators proper do not care to grow. The Kāchhis [काछी], the gardening caste of the northern Districts, have a very low status, markedly inferior to that of the Lodhis [लोधी] and Kurmis and little if any better than the menial Dhīmars. Similarly, as will be seen later, the Marārs [मरार] themselves have customs pointing clearly to a non-Aryan origin. The Bhoyars of Betūl [बैतूल], who grow sugarcane, are probably of mixed origin from Rājpūt [राजपूत] fathers and mothers of the indigenous tribes ; they eat fowls and are much addicted to liquor and rank below the cultivating castes. The explanation seems to be that the gardening castes are not considered as landholders, and have not therefore the position which attaches to the holding of land among all early agricultural peoples, and which in India consisted in the status of a constituent member of the village community.

1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer, para. 59
2 Mr. Napier’s
Bhandāra Settlement Report, quoted in article on Kohli.

So far as ceremonial purity goes there is no difference between the Mālis [माळी] and the cultivating castes, as Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will take water from both. It may be surmised that this privilege has been given to the Mālis [माळी] because they grow the flowers required for offerings to the gods, and sometimes officiate as village priests and temple servants ; and their occupation, though not on a level with regular agriculture, is still respectable. But the fact that Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will take water from them does not place the Mālis [माळी] on an equality with the cultivating castes, any more than it does the Nais (barbers) and Dhīmars (watermen), the contemned menial servants of the cultivators, from whom Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will also take water from motives of convenience.

2. Caste legend

The Mālis [माळी] have a Brāhmanical legend of the usual type indicating that their hereditary calling was conferred and ratified by divine authority.1 This is to the effect that the first Māli [माळी] was a garland-maker attached to the household of Rāja [राजा] Kansa [कंस] of Mathura [मथुरा] [मथुरा]. One day he met with Krishna [कृष्ण], and, on being asked by him for a chaplet of flowers, at once gave it. On being told to fasten it with string, he, for want of any other, took off his sacred thread and tied it, on which Krishna [कृष्ण] most ungenerously rebuked him for his simplicity in parting with his paīta, and announced that for the future his caste would be ranked among the Sūdras [शूद्र].

1 Tribes and Casks of Bengal, art. Māli.

The above story, combined with the derivation of Māli [माळी] from māla [माला], a garland, makes it a plausible hypothesis that the calling of the first Mālis [माळी] was to grow flowers for the adornment of the gods, and especially for making the garlands with which their images were and still are decorated. Thus the Mālis [माळी] were intimately connected with the gods and naturally became priests of the village temples, in which capacity they are often employed. Mr. Nesfield remarks of the Māli [माळी] :2

2 Brief View of the Caste System, p.15

“To Hindus of all ranks, including even the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], he acts as a priest of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] in places where no Gosain [गोसाईं] is to be found, and lays the flower offerings on the lingam [लिंगं] by which the deity is symbolised. As the Māli [माळी] is believed to have some influence with the god to whose temple he is attached, none objects to his appropriating the fee which is nominally presented to the god himself. In the worship of those village godlings whom the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] disdain to recognise and whom the Gosain [गोसाईं] is not permitted to honour the Māli [माळी] is sometimes employed to present the offering. He is thus the recognised hereditary priest of the lower and more ignorant classes of the population.”

In the Central Provinces Mālis [माळी] are commonly employed in the temples of Devi [देवी] because goats are offered to the goddess and hence the worship cannot be conducted by Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]. They also work as servants in Jain temples under the priest. They sweep the temple, clean the utensils, and do other menial business. This service, however, does not affect their religion and they continue to be Hindus.

His services in providing flowers for the gods would be remunerated by contributions of grain from the cultivators, the acceptance of which would place the Māli [माळी] below them in the rank of a village menial, though higher than most of the class owing to the purity of his occupation. His status was probably much the same as that of the Guraos or village priests of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] in the Marātha [मराठा] country. And though he has now become a cultivator, his position has not improved to the level of other cultivating castes for the reasons already given. It was probably the necessity of regularly watering his plants in order to obtain a longer and more constant supply of blooms which first taught the Māli [माळी] the uses of irrigation.

3. Flowers offered to the gods.

Flowers are par excellence suited for the offerings and adornment of the gods, and many Hindus have rose or other plants in their houses whose flowers are destined to the household god. There is little reason to doubt that this was the purpose for which cultivated flowers were first grown. The marigold, lotus and champak are favourite religious flowers, while the tulsi [तुलसी] or basil is itself worshipped as the consort of Vishnu [विष्णु] ; in this case, however, the scent is perhaps the more valued feature. In many Hindu households all flowers brought into the house are offered to the household god before being put to any other use. A Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] schoolboy to whom I had given some flowers to copy in drawing said that his mother had offered them to the god Krishna [कृष्ण] before he used them. When faded or done with they should be consigned to the sacred element, water, in any stream or river. The statues of the gods are adorned with sculptured garlands or hold them in their hands.


4. Custom of wearing garlands.


5. Subcastes

The caste has numerous endogamous groups, varying in different localities. The Phūlmālis [फूलमाली] , who derive their name from their occupation of growing and selling flowers (phūl [फूल]) usually rank as the highest. The Ghāse Mālis [घासे माळी] are the only subcaste which will grow and prepare turmeric in Wardha [वर्धा]; but they will not sell milk or curds, an occupation to which the Phūlmālis [फूलमाली], though the highest subcaste, have no objection. In Chanda [चंद्रपूर] [चंद्रपूर] the Kosaria Mālis [माळी], who take their name from Kosala [कोशल], the classical designation of the Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] country, are the sole growers of turmeric, while in Berār [बेरार] the Halde [हळदी] subcaste, named after the plant, occupy the same position. The Kosaria or Kosre [कोचले] subcaste abstain from liquor, and their women wear glass bangles only on one hand and silver ones on the other.

The objection entertained to the cultivation of turmeric by Hindus generally is said to be based on the fact that when the roots are boiled numbers of small insects are necessarily destroyed ; but the other Mālis [माळी] relate that one of the ancestors of the caste had a calf called Hardulia, and one day he said to his daughter, Haldi pakā [हल्दी पका], or ‘Cook turmeric.’ But the daughter thought that he said ‘cook Hardulia,’ so she killed and roasted the calf, and in consequence of this her father was expelled from the caste, and his descendants are the Ghāse [घासे] or Halde [हळदी] subcaste. Ever since this happened the shape of a calf may be seen in the flower of turmeric. This legend has, however, no real value and the meaning of the superstition attaching to the plant is obscure. Though the growing of turmeric is tabooed yet it is a sacred plant, and no Hindu girl, at least in the Central Provinces, can be married without having turmeric powder rubbed on her body. Mr. Gordon remarks in Indian Folk-Tales :

“I was once speaking to a Hindu gardener of the possibility of turmeric and garlic being stolen from his garden. These two vegetables are never stolen,’ he replied, ‘for we Hindus believe that he who steals turmeric and garlic will appear with six fingers in the next birth, and this deformity is always considered the birth-mark of a thief.’”

The Jire Mālis [जिरे माळी] are so named because they were formerly the only subcaste who would grow cumin (jira'[जिरे]) but this distinction no longer exists as other Mālis [माळी], except perhaps the Phūlmālis [फूलमाली], now grow it. Other subcastes have territorial names, as Baone [बावणे] from Berār [बेरार], Jaipuria [जयपुरिय], Kanaujia [कन्नौजिय], and so on. The caste have also exogamous septs or bargas [वर्ग], with designations taken from villages, titles or nicknames or inanimate objects.

6. Marriage.

Marriage is forbidden between members of the same sept and between first and second cousins. Girls are generally betrothed in childhood and should be married before maturity. In the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] country if no suitable husband can be found for a girl she is sometimes made to go through the marriage ceremony with a peg of mahua-wood driven into the ground and covered over with a cloth. She is then tied to a tree in the forest and any member of the caste may go and release her, when she becomes his wife. The Marārs [मरार] of Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] and Bhandāra [भंडारा] have the lamjhana form of marriage, in which the prospective husband serves for his wife ; this is a Dravidian custom and shows their connection with the forest tribes. The marriage ceremony follows the standard form prevalent in the locality. In Betūl [बैतूल] the couple go seven times round a slab on which a stone roller is placed, with their clothes knotted together and holding in their hands a lighted lamp.

The slab and roller may be the implements used in powdering turmeric.

“Among the Marārs [मरार] of Bālāghāt [बालाघाट]1 the maternal uncle of the bridegroom goes to the village of the bride and brings back with him the bridal party. The bride’s party do not at once cross the boundary of the bridegroom’s village, but will stay outside it for a few hours. Word is sent and the bridegroom’s party will bring out cooked food, which they eat with the bride’s party. This done, they go to the house of the bridegroom and the bride forthwith walks five times round a pounding-stone. Next day turmeric is applied to the couple, and the caste people are given a feast. The essential portion of the ceremony consists in the rubbing of vermilion on the foreheads of the couple under the cover of a cloth. The caste permit the practice of ralla-palla or exchanging sisters in marriage. They are said to have a custom at weddings known as kondia, according to which a young man of the bridegroom’s party, called the Sānd [साँड़] or bull, is shut up in a house at night with all the women of the bride’s party ; he is at liberty to seize and have intercourse with any of them he can catch, while they are allowed to beat him as much as they like. It is said that he seldom has much cause to congratulate himself.”

1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer (C. E. Low), para. 59.

But the caste have now become ashamed of this custom and it is being abandoned. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the Marārs [मरार], like other castes, have the forms of marriage known as the Badi Shādi  [डी शादी] and Chhoti Shādi [छोटी शादी] or great and small weddings. The former is an elaborate form of marriage, taking place at the house of the bride. Those who cannot afford the expense of this have a ‘Small Wedding’ at the house of the bridegroom, at which the rites are curtailed and the expenditure considerably reduced.

7. Widow-marriage, divorce and polygamy

Widow-marriage is permitted. The widower, accompanied by his relatives and a horn-blower, goes to the house of the widow, and here a space is plastered with cowdung and and the couple sit on two wooden boards while their clothes are knotted together. In Bālāghāt [बालाघाट]2 the bridegroom and bride bathe in a tank and on emerging the widow throws away her old cloth and puts on a new one. After this they walk five times round a spear planted in the ground. Divorce is permitted and can be effected by mutual consent of the parties. Like other castes practising intensive cultivation the Mālis [माळी] marry several wives when they can afford it, in order to obtain the benefit of their labour in the vegetable garden ; a wife being more industrious and honest than a hired labourer. But this practice results in large families and household dissensions, leading to excessive subdivision of property, and wealthy members of the caste are rare. The standard of sexual morality is low, and if an unmarried girl goes wrong her family conceal the fact and sometimes try to procure an abortion. If these efforts are unsuccessful a feast must be given to the caste and a lock of the woman’s hair is cut off by way of punishment. A young hard-working wife is never divorced, however bad her character may be, but an old woman is sometimes abandoned for very little cause.

2 Ibidem, loc. cit.

8. Disposal of the dead.

The dead may be either buried or burnt ; in the former case the corpse is laid with the feet to the north. Mourning is observed only for three days and propitiatory offerings are made to the spirits of the dead. If a man is killed by a tiger his family make a wooden image of a tiger and worship it.

9. Religion.

Devi [देवी] is the principal deity of the Mālis [माळी]. Weddings are celebrated before her temple and large numbers of goats are sacrificed to the favourite goddess at her festival in the month of Māgh [माघ] (January). Many of the Marārs [मरार] of Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] are Kabīrpanthis [कबीरपंथी] and wear the necklace of that sect ; but they appear none the less to intermarry freely with their Hindu caste-fellows.1 After the birth of a child it is stated that all the members of the sept to which the parents belong remain impure for five days, and no one will take food or water from them.

1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer (C. E. Low), para. 59.

10. Occupation.

The Māli [माळी] combines the callings of a gardener and nurseryman.

“In laying out a flower-garden and in arranging beds,” Mr. Sherring remarks,2 “ the Māli [माळी] is exceedingly expert. His powers in this respect are hardly surpassed by gardeners in England. He lacks of course the excellent botanical knowledge of many English gardeners, and also the peculiar skill displayed by them in grafting and crossing, and in watching the habits of plants. Yet in manipulative labour, especially when superintended by a European, he is, though much slower in execution, almost if not quite equal to gardeners at home.”

2 Hindu Castes, vol. i. p. 327.

They are excellent and very laborious cultivators, and show much skill in intensive cultivation and the use of water. Mālis [माळी] are the best sugarcane growers of Betūl [बैतूल] and their holdings usually pay a higher rental than those of other castes.

“In Bālāghāt [बालाघाट],” Mr. Low remarks,1 “ they are great growers of tobacco and sugarcane, favouring the alluvial land on the banks of rivers. They mostly irrigate by a dhekli or dipping lift, from temporary wells or from water-holes in rivers. The pole of the lift has a weight at one end and a kerosene tin suspended from the other. Another form of lift is a hollowed tree trunk worked on a fulcrum, but this only raises the water a foot or two. The Marārs [मरार] do general cultivation as well ; but as a class are not considered skilled agriculturists. The proverb about their cultivating status is :

Marār, Māli [माळी] jote tāli
Tāli margayi, dhare kudāli,

or, ‘The Marār  [मरार] yokes cows ; if the cow dies he takes to the pickaxe ’ ; implying that he is not usually rich enough to keep bullocks.”

1 Bālāghāt District Gazetteer, loc. cit.

The saying has also a derogatory sense, as no good Hindu would yoke a cow to the plough. Another form of lift used by the Kāchhis [काछी] is the Persian wheel. In this two wheels are fixed above the well or tank and long looped ropes pass over them and down into the well, between which a line of earthen pots is secured. As the ropes move on the wheels the pots descend into the well, are filled with water, brought up, and just after they reach the apex of the wheel and turn to descend again, the water pours out to a hollow open tree-trunk, from which a channel conveys it to the field. The wheel which turns the rope is worked by a man pedalling, but he cannot do more than about three hours a day. The common lift for gardens is the mot or bag made of the hide of a bullock or buffalo. This is usually worked by a pair of bullocks moving forwards down a slope to raise the mot from the well and backwards up the slope to let it down when empty.


11. Traits and character

“It is necessary,” the account continues, “ for the Marār’s [मरार]  business for one member at least of his family to go to market with his vegetables ; and the Marārin is a noteworthy feature in all bazars, sitting with her basket or garment spread on the ground, full of white onions and garlic, purple brinjals and scarlet chillies, with a few handfuls of strongly flavoured green stuff. Whether from the publicity which it entails on their women or from whatever cause, the Marārin does not bear the best of reputations for chastity; and is usually considered rather a bold, coarse creature. The distinctive feature of her attire is the way in which she ties up her body-cloth so as to leave a tail sticking up behind ; whence the proverb shouted after her by rude little boys : ‘Jump from roof to roof, Monkey. Pull the tail of the Marārin, Monkey.’ She also rejoices in a very large tikli or spangle on her forehead and in a peculiar kind of angia (waistcoat). The caste are usually considered rather clannish and morose. They live in communities by themselves, and nearly always inhabit a separate hamlet of the village. The Marārs [मरार] of a certain place are said to have boycotted a village carpenter who lost an axe belonging to one of their number, so that he had to leave the neighbourhood for lack of custom.”

12.  Other functions of the Māli [माळी]

Many Mālis [माळी] live in the towns and keep vegetable- or flower-gardens just outside. They sell flowers, and the Māli [माळी] girls are very good flower-sellers, Major Sutherland says, being famous for their coquetry. A saying about them is :

“The crow among birds, the jackal among beasts, the barber among men and the Mālin among women ; all these are much too clever.”

Abb.: Bride and bridegroom with marriage crowns

The Māli [माळी] also prepares the maur or marriage-crown, made from the leaves of the date-palm, both for the bride and bridegroom at marriages. In return he gets a present of a rupee, a piece of cloth and a day’s food. He also makes the garlands which are used for presentation at entertainments, and supplies the daily bunches of flowers which are required as offerings for Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव]. The Māli [माळी] keeps garlands for sale in the bazar, and when a well-to-do person passes he goes up and puts a garland round his neck and expects a present of a pice or two.

13. Physical appearance

“Physically,” Low states, “the Marār [मरार] is rather a  poor-looking creature, dark and undersized ; but the women are often not bad looking, and dressed up in their best at a wedding, rattling their castanets and waving light-coloured silk handkerchiefs, give a very graceful dance. The caste are not as a rule celebrated for their cleanliness. A polite way of addressing a Marār [मरार] is to call him Patel [पटेल].”"

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 159 - 171] 

Pishārati [പിഷാരടി] (Malayālam)

"Pishārati [പിഷാരടി].The Pishāratis or Pishārodis are summed up in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being a subcaste of Ambalavāsis, which makes flower garlands, and does menial service in the temples. As regards their origin, the legend runs to the effect that a Swāmiyar, or Brāhman ascetic, once had a disciple of the same caste, who wished to become a Sanyāsi 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. Pishāra denotes a Sanyāsi’s pupil, and as he, after running away, was called Pishārōdi, the children born to him of a Parasava [pāraśava] woman by a subsequent marriage were called Pishāratis. In his ‘Early Sovereigns of Travancore,’ Mr. Sundaram Pillay [சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை] says that the Pishāratis

“puzzling position among the Malabar [മലബാര്‍] castes, half monk and half layman, is far from being accounted for by the silly and fanciful modern derivation of pishārakal plus Odi, pishārakal being more mysterious than Pishārati itself. ”

It is suggested by him that Pishārati is a corruption of Bhattāraka-tiruvadi. According to the Jati-nirnaya, the Bhattārakas are a community degraded from the Brāhmans during the Trētā Yuga. As far as we are able to gather from mediaeval Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] 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 [മലബാര്‍], that

“the traditional etymology of the name Pishārodi refers it to a Sanyāsi novice, who, deterred by the prospects of the hardship of life on which he was about to enter, ran away (odi [ഓടി]) at the last moment, after he had been divested of the pūnūl (thread), but before he had performed 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 Adiyōdi and Vallōdi, and the definition is obviously fanciful, while it does not explain the meaning of Pishār.”

The houses of pishāratis are called pishāram. 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 Malayālam [മലയാളം] 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 ashtākshara [aṣṭākṣara: Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya], or eight letters relating to Vishnu, as opposed to the panchākshara [pañcākṣara: Om namaḥ śivāya] or five letters relating to Siva, forms their daily hymn of prayer. They act as their own caste priests, but for the punyāha [puṇyāha] or purificatory ceremony and the initiation into the ashtakshara [aṣṭākṣara], which are necessary on special occasions, the services of Brāhmans are engaged.

The Pishāratis celebrate the tāli-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 Ambalavāsis. The bride and bridegroom 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 cherutāli, or marriage ornament, is tied by the bridegroom round the girl’s neck. If this husband dies, the tāli has to be removed, and the widow observes pollution. Her sons have to make oblations of cooked rice, and, for all social and religious purposes, the woman is regarded as a widow, though she is not debarred from contracting a sambandham (alliance) with a man of her own caste, or a Brāhman. 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 tāli-kettu is performed by a Pishārati, and sambandham contracted with a Brāhman. If the tāli-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 [annaprāśana] 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 [annaprāśana], 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 [ein Volkstanz] serves as the night’s entertainment for the assembled guests. Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] are invited to perform the purificatory ceremony known as punyāha [puṇyāha], but the consecrated water is only sprinkled over the roof of the house. The inmates thereof protrude their heads beneath the eaves so as to get purified, as the Brāhmans do not pour the water over them.

The chaula [cauḍa] 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 Mārān and barber do the same.

The initiation into the ashtakshara [aṣṭākṣara: Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya] takes place at the age of sixteen. On an auspicious day, a Brāhman brings a pot of water, consecrated in a temple, to the pishāram, 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 proceeding on a pilgrimage to Benares [वाराणसी], as a Brāhman does at the termination of the Brahmacharya ]brahmacarya] stage of life. It is only after this that a Pishārati is allowed to chew betel leaf, and perform other acts, which constitute the privileges of a Grihastha [gṛhastha].

The funeral rites of the pishāratis are very peculiar. The corpse is seated on the ground, and a nephew recites the ashtakshara [aṣṭākṣara: Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya], 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 [pañcabhūta], are spread. The corpse is placed in the grave in a sitting posture. As in the case of a Sanyāsi, who is a Jīvanmukta, or one liberated from the bondage of the flesh though alive in body, so a dead Pishārati 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 [ekoddiṣṭa śrāddha] of the Brāhman is carried out. A knotted piece of kusa [kuśa] grass, representing the soul of the deceased, is taken to a neighbouring temple, where a lighted lamp, symbolical of Maha Vishnu [mahāviṣṇu] is worshipped, and prayers are offered. This ceremony is repeated at the end of the first year.

Some pishāratis are large land-owners of considerable wealth and influence."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 6. -- S. 199 - 203]