2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

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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: Schnapshersteller. -- Fassung vom 2017-11-03. --  URL:                                                         

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

Meinem Lehrer und Freund

Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron

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Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] (Tulu)

Abb.: Billava
[ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] toddy-taper

"Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ].-The Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] are the Tulu [ತುಳು]-speaking [ತುಳು] toddy-drawers of the South Canara district. It is noted, in the Manual, that they are

“the numerically largest caste in the district, and form close upon one-fifth of the total population. The derivation of the word Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], as commonly accepted in the district, is that it is a contraction of Billinavaru, bowmen, and that the name was given as the men of that caste were formerly largely employed as bowmen by the ancient native rulers of the district. There is, however, no evidence whatever, direct or indirect, to show that the men of the toddy-drawing caste were in fact so employed. It is well known that, both before and after the Christian era, there were invasions and occupations of the northern part of Ceylon by the races then inhabiting Southern India, and Malabar [മലബാര്‍] tradition tells that some of these Dravidians migrated from Īram [ஈழம்] or Ceylon northwards to Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] and other parts of the West Coast of India, bringing with them the cocoanut or southern tree (tenginamara), and being known as Tīvars (islanders) or Īavars, which names have since been altered to Tīyars and Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ]. This derivation would also explain the name Dīvaru or Halēpaik [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] Dīvaru borne by the same class of people in the northern part of the district, and in North Canara. In Manjarabad [ಮಂಜರಾಬಾದ್] above the ghauts, which, with Tuluva [ತುಳುವ], was in olden days under the rule of the Humcha family, known later as the Bairasu Wodears of Kārakal, they are called Dēvaru Makkalu [ದೇವರ ಮಕ್ಕಳು], literally God’s children, but more likely a corruption of Tīvaru Makkalu, children of the islanders. In support of this tradition, Mr. Logan has pointed out (Manual of Malabar) that, in the list of exports from Malabar [മലബാര്‍] given in the Periplus [Περίπλους τῆς Ἐρυθράς Θαλάσσης], in the first century A.D., no mention is made of the cocoanut. It was, however, mentioned by Cosmos Indico Pleustes [Κοσμᾶς Ἰνδικοπλεύστης Kosmás Indikopleústēs] (522 to 547 A.D.), and from the Syrian Christians' [സുറിയാനി ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികൾ] copper-plate grants, early in the ninth century, it appears that the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] were at that time an organised guild of professional planters. Although the cocoanut tree may have been introduced by descendants of immigrants from Ceylon moving up the coast, the practice of planting and drawing toddy was no doubt taken up by the ordinary Tulu [ತುಳು] cultivators, and, whatever the origin of the name Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] may be, they are an essentially Tulu [ತುಳು] class of people, following the prevailing rule that property vests in females, and devolves in the female line.”

It is worthy of note that the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] differ from the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] in one very important physical character—the cranial type. For, as shown by the following table, whereas the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] are dolichocephalic the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] are, like other Tulu [ತುಳು] classes, sub-brachycephalic :—

Cephalic Index.

  Average. Maximum. Minimum. Number of times exceeding 80.
40 Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] 73 78'7 68'5 1
50 Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] ...... 80 91'5 71 28

Some Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] about Udipi  [ಉಡುಪಿ] call themselves either Billavaru or Halēpaikaru [ಹಳೆಪೈಕರು]. But the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] proper are toddy-drawers, who are found in the Kundapūr tāluk, and speak Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]. There are said to be certain differences between the two classes in the method of carrying out the process of drawing toddy. For example, the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] generally grasp the knife with the fingers directed upwards and the thumb to the right, while the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] hold the knife with the fingers directed downwards and the thumb to the left. A Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] at Udipi  [ಉಡುಪಿ] had a broad iron knife with a round hole at the base, by which it was attached to an iron hook fixed on to a rope worn round the loins. For crushing the flower-buds within the spathe of the palm, Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] generally use a stone, and the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] a bone. There is a belief that, if the spathe is beaten with the bone of a buffalo which has been killed by a tiger, the yield of toddy will, if the bone has not touched the ground, be greater than if an ordinary bone is used. The Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] generally carry a long gourd, and the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] a pot, for collecting the toddy in.

Baidya [ದ್ಯ] and Pūjāri [ಪೂಜಾರಿ] occur as caste names of the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], and also as a suffix to the name, eg., Saiyina Baidya, Bomma Pūjāri. Baidya Baidya [ದ್ಯ] is said to be a form of Vaidya [ವೈದ್ಯ], meaning a physician. Some Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] officiate as priests (pūjāris [ಪೂಜಾರಿ]) at bhūtasthānas [ಭೂತಸ್ಥಾನ] (devil shrines) and garidis. Many of these pūjāris are credited with the power of invoking the aid of bhūtas [ಭೂತ], and curing disease. The following legend is narrated, to account for the use of the name Baidya [ದ್ಯ]. A poor woman once lived at Ullal [ಉಳ್ಳಾಲ] with two sons. A Sanyāsi [ಸಂನ್ಯಾಸೀ] (religious ascetic), pitying their condition, took the sons as his sishyas [ಶಿಷ್ಯ], with a view to training them as magicians and doctors. After some time, the Sanyāsi [ಸಂನ್ಯಾಸೀ] went away from Ullal [ಉಳ್ಳಾಲ] for a short time, leaving the lads there with instructions that they should not be married until his return. In spite of his instructions, however, they married, and, on his return, he was very angry, and went away again, followed by his two disciples. On his journey, the Sanyāsi [ಸಂನ್ಯಾಸೀ] crossed the ferry near Ullal [ಉಳ್ಳಾಲ] on foot. This the disciples attempted to do, and were on the point of drowning when the Sanyāsi [ಸಂನ್ಯಾಸೀ] threw three handfuls of books on medicine and magic. Taking these, the two disciples returned, and became learned in medicine and magic. They are supposed to be the ancestors of the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ].

The Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], like the Bants [ಬಂಟ], have a number of exogamous septs (balis [ಬಲಿ]) running in the female line.

There is a popular belief that these are sub-divisions of the twenty balis [ಬಲಿ] which ought to exist according to the Aliya Santāna [ಅಳಿಯಸಂತಾನ] system (inheritance in the female line).

The caste has a headman called Gurikāra, whose office is hereditary, and passes to the aliya [ಅಳಿಯ] (sister’s son). Affairs which affect the community as a whole are discussed at a meeting held at the bhūtasthāna [ಭೂತಸ್ಥಾನ] or garidi.

At the betrothal ceremony, the bride-price (sirdachchi), varying from ten to twenty rupees, is fixed. A few days before the wedding, the maternal uncle of the bride, or the Gurikāra, ties a jewel on her neck, and a pandal [ಪಾಂಡಲ್] (booth) is erected, and decorated by the caste barber (parēl maddiyali) with cloths of different colours. If the bridegroom is an adult, the bride has to undergo a purificatory ceremony a day or two before the marriage (dhāre [ಧಾರೇ]) day. A few women, usually near relations of the girl, go to a tank (pond) or well near a Bhūtasthāna [ಭೂತಸ್ಥಾನ] or garidi, and bring water thence in earthenware pots. The water is poured over the head of the girl, and she bathes. On the wedding day, the bride and bridegroom are seated on two planks placed on the dais. The barber arranges the various articles, such as lights, rice, flowers, betel leaves and areca nuts, and a vessel filled with water, which are required for the ceremonial. He joins the hands of the contracting couple, and their parents, or the headman, place the nose-screw of the bridesmaid on their hands, and pour the dhāre [ಧಾರೇ] water over them. This is the binding part of the ceremony, which is called kai [ಕೈ] (hand) dhāre [ಧಾರೇ]. Widow remarriage is called bidu dhāre [ಧಾರೇ], and the pouring of water is omitted. The bride and bridegroom stand facing each other, and a cloth is stretched between them. The headman unites their hands beneath the screen.

If a man has intercourse with a woman, and she becomes pregnant, he has to marry her according to the bidu dhāre [ಧಾರೇ] rite. Before the marriage ceremony is performed, he has to grasp a plantain tree with his right hand, and the tree is then cut down.

At the first menstrual period, a girl is under pollution for ten or twelve days. On the first day, she is seated within a square (muggu), and five or seven cocoanuts are tied together so as to form a seat. A new earthenware pot is placed at each corner of the square. Four girls from the Gurikāra’s house sit at the corners close to the pots. Betel leaves, areca nuts, and turmeric paste are distributed among the assembled females, and the girls pour water from the pots over the head of the girl. Again, on the eleventh or the thirteenth day, the girl sits within the square, and water is poured over her as before. She then bathes.

The dead are usually cremated, though, in some cases, burial is resorted to. The corpse is washed and laid on a plantain leaf, and a new cloth is thrown over it. Some paddy (unhusked rice) is heaped up near the head and feet, and cocoanut cups containing lighted wicks are placed thereon. All the relations and friends assembled at the house dip leafy twigs of the tulsi [ತುಳಸಿ(Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum L.]) in water, and allow it to drop into the mouth of the corpse. The body is carried on a plank to the burning-ground. The collection of wood for the pyre, or the digging of the grave, is the duty of Holeyas. The wood of Strychnos Nux-vomica should never be used for the pyre. This is lighted by placing fire at the two ends thereof. When the flames meet in the middle, the plantain leaf, paddy, etc., which have been brought from the house, are thrown into them. On the fifth day, the ashes are collected, and buried on the spot. If the body has been buried, a straw figure is made, and burnt over the grave, and the ashes are buried there. A small conical mound, called dhūpe, is made there, and a tulsi [ತುಳಸಿ] plant stuck in it. By the side of the plant a tender cocoanut with its eyes opened, tobacco leaf, betel leaves and areca nuts are placed. On the thirteenth day, the final death ceremonies, or bojja, are performed. On the evening of the previous day, four poles, for the construction of the upparige or gudikattu (car), are planted round the dhūpe. At the house, on or near the spot where the deceased breathed his last, a small bamboo car, in three tiers, is constructed, and decorated with coloured cloths. This car is called Nīrneralu. A lamp is suspended from the car, and a cot placed on the ground beneath it, and the jewels and clothes of the dead person are laid thereon. On the following morning, the upparige is constructed, with the assistance of the caste barber. A small vessel, filled with water, is placed within the Nirneralu. The sons-in-law of the deceased receive a present of new cloths, and, after bathing, they approach the Nīrneralu. The chief mourner takes the vessel from within it, and pours the water at the foot of a cocoanut tree. The chief Gurikāra pours some water into the empty vessel, and the chief mourner places it within the Nīrneralu. Then seven women measure out some rice three times, and pour the rice into a tray held by three women. The rice is taken to a well, and washed, and then brought back to the car. Jaggery (crude sugar) and cocoanut scrapings are mixed with the rice, which is placed in a cup by seven women. The cup is deposited within the car on the cot. The wife or husband of the deceased throws a small quantity of rice into the cup. She turns the cup, and a ladle placed by its side, upside down, and covers them with a plantain leaf. The various articles are collected, and tied up in a bundle, which is placed in a palanquin, and carried in procession, by two men to the upparige, which has been constructed over the dhūpe. Nalkes [ನಲಕೇಯವ] and Paravas (devil-dancers), dressed up as bhūtas [ಭೂತ], may follow the procession. Those present go thrice round the upparige, and the chief mourner unties the bundle, and place its contents on the car. The near relations put rice, and sometimes vegetables, pumpkins, and plantains, on the plantain leaf. All present then leave the spot, and the barber removes the cloths from the car, and pulls it down. Sometimes, if the dead person has been an important member of the community, a small car is constructed, and taken in procession round the upparige. On the fourteenth day, food is offered to crows, and the death ceremonies are at an end.

If a death occurs on an inauspicious day, a ceremony called Kāle deppuni (driving away the ghost) is performed. Ashes are spread on the floor of the house, and the door is closed. After some time, or on the following day, the roof of the house is sprinkled with turmeric water, and beaten with twigs of Zizyphus Oenoplia [(L.) Mill.]. The door is then opened, and the ashes are examined, to see if the marks of the cloven feet of the ghost are left thereon. If the marks are clear, it is a sign that the ghost has departed ; otherwise a magician is called in to drive it out. A correspondent naively remarks that, when he has examined the marks, they were those of the family cat.

In some cases, girls who have died unmarried are supposed to haunt the house, and bring trouble thereto, and they must be propitiated by marriage. The girl’s relations go in search of a dead boy, and take from the house where he is a quarter of an anna [അണ], which is tied up between two spoons. The spoons are tied to the roof of the girl’s house. This represents the betrothal ceremony. A day is fixed for the marriage, and, on the appointed day, two figures, representing the bride and bridegroom, are drawn on the floor, with the hands lying one on the other. A quarter-anna [അണ], black beads, bangles, and a nose-screw, are placed on the hands, and water is poured on them. This is symbolical of the dhāre [ಧಾರೇ] ceremony, and completes the marriage.

The pūjāris [ಪೂಜಾರಿ] of all the bhuthasthanas and garidis are Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ]. The bhūtas [ಭೂತ] temples called garidis belong to the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], and the bhūtas [ಭೂತ] are the Baidērukulu (Koti and Chennayya), Brimmeru (or Brahmeru) Gunda, Okka Ballāla, Kujumba Ganja, and Dēvanajiri. The Baidērkulu are believed to be fellow castemen of the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], and Koti and Chennayya to be descended from an excommunicated Brāhman girl and a Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ]. The legend of Koti and Chennayya is recorded at length by Mr. A. C. Burnell in the Indian Antiquary [Devil worship of the Tuluvas, Ind, Ant. XXIII, XXIV, and XXV, 1894-96]. The bhūtas [ಭೂತ] are represented by idols. Brimmeru is the most important, and the others are subordinate to him. He is represented by a plate of silver or other metal, bearing the figure of a human being, which is kept within a car-like stone structure within the shrine. On its left are two human figures made of clay or stone, which represent the Baidērukulu. On the right are a man on horseback, and another figure, representing Okka Ballāla and Kujumba Ganja. Other idols are also set up at the garidi, but outside the main room. They seem to vary in different localities, and represent bhūtas [ಭೂತ] such as Jumadi, Pancha Jumadi, Hosabhūtha, Kallurti, etc.

Brimmeru has been transformed, by Brāhman ingenuity, into Brahma, and all the bhūtas [ಭೂತ] are converted into Gōnas, or attendants on Siva [ಶಿವ]. In the pardhanas (devil songs) Brimmeru is represented as the principal bhūta [ಭೂತ], and the other bhūtas [ಭೂತ] are supposed to visit his sthāna [ಸ್ಥಾನ]. A bhūthasthāna [ಭೂತಸ್ಥಾನ] never contains idols, but cots are usually found therein. A sthāna [ಸ್ಥಾನ] may be dedicated to a single bhutha, or to several bhūtas [ಭೂತ], and the number may be ascertained by counting the number of cots, of which each is set apart for a single bhūta [ಭೂತ]. If the sthāna [ಸ್ಥಾನ] is dedicated to more than one bhūta [ಭೂತ], the bhūtas [ಭೂತ] are generally Kodamanithāya, Kukkinathāya, and Daiva . All the arrangements for the periodical kōla, or festival of the bhūthasthāna [ಭೂತಸ್ಥಾನ], are made by the pūjāri [ಪೂಜಾರಿ]. During the festival, he frequently becomes possessed. Only such Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] as are liable to be possessed are recognised as pūjāris [ಪೂಜಾರಿ]. As a sign of their office, they wear a gold bangle on the right wrist. Further details in connection with bhūta [ಭೂತ] worship will be found in the articles on Bants [ಬಂಟ], Nalkes, and Paravas."

[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. 1. -- S. 243 - 252]

Gamalla (Telugu)

Abb.: Gamallas

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

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

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

Like other Telugu [తెలుగు] castes, the Gamallas have exogamous septs, such as

  • parvathala [పర్వతాలు] (hills),
  • kudumalu (a cake),
  • annam [అన్నము] (cooked rice), and
  • pandhi [పంది] (pig).

Among gōtras [గోత్రం], the following may be noted:—

  • kavundinya, 
  • kārunya,
  • vāchalya, and
  • surāpāndēsvara (surā pānda, toddy pot).

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

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

Abb.: Gamalla muggu

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

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

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

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

At the census, 1901, some Gamallas returned themselves as Settigadu (Chetti [చెట్టి])."

[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. 2. -- S. 253 - 257]

Halēpaik [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] (Kannada)

Halēpaik [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ].The Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] are Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ] toddy-drawers, who are found in the northern tāluks [ತಾಲ್ಲೂಕು] of the South Canara district. The name is commonly derived from hale [ಹಳೆ], old, and paika [ಪೈಕ], a soldier, and it is said that they were formerly employed as soldiers. There is a legend that one of their ancestors became commander of the Vijayanagar [ವಿಜಯನಗರ] army, was made ruler of a State, and given a village named Halepaikas as a jaghir (hereditary assignment of land). Some Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] say that they belong to the Tengina [ತೆಂಗಿನ] (cocoanut palm) section, because they are engaged in tapping that palm for toddy.

There is intermarriage between the Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]-speaking Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] and the Tulu [ತುಳು]-speaking Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] toddy-drawers, and, in some places, the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] also call themselves Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ]. The Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] have exogamous septs or balis ಬಳ್ಳಿ], which run in the female line. As examples of these, the following may be noted|:—

  • Chendi (Cerbera Odollum [Cerbera odollam Gaertn.]) ,
  • Honnē (Calophyllum inophyllum),
  • Tolar [ತೋಳ] (wolf),
  • Dēvana (god) and
  • Ganga [ಗಂಗಾ].

It is recorded (Monograph, Eth. Survey of Bombay, 12, 1904.11-21) of the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] of the Canara district in the Bombay Presidency that

“each exogamous section, known as a bali [ಬಳ್ಳಿ] (literally a creeper), is named after some animal or tree, which is held sacred by the members of the same. This animal, tree or flower, etc., seems to have been once considered the common ancestor of the members of the bali [ಬಳ್ಳಿ], and to the present day it is both worshipped by them, and held sacred in the sense that they will not injure it. Thus the members of the nāgbali, named apparently after the nāgchampa flower, will not wear this flower in their hair, as this would involve injury to the plant. The Kadavēbali will not kill the sambhar (deer : kadavē), from which they take their name.”

The Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] of South Canara seem to attach no such importance to the sept names. Some, however, avoid eating a fish called Srinivāsa, because they fancy that the streaks on the body have a resemblance to the Vaishnavite [ವೈಷ್ಣವ] sectarian mark (nāmam [ನಾಮಂ]).

All the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] of the KundapUr [ಕುಂದಾಪುರ] tāluk profess to be Vaishnavites [ವೈಷ್ಣವ], and have become the disciples of a Vaishnava Brāhman settled in the village of Sankarappakōdlu near Wondse in that tāluk. Though Venkataramana is regarded as their chief deity, they worship Baiderkulu, Panjurli, and other bhūtas [ಭೂತ] (devils). The Pūjāris [ಪೂಜಾರಿ] (priests) avoid eating new grain, new areca nuts, new sugarcane, cucumbers and pumpkins, until a feast, called kaidha pūja, has been held. This is usually celebrated in November-December, and consists in offering food, etc., to Baiderkulu. Somebody gets possessed by the bhūta [ಭೂತ], and pierces his abdomen with an arrow.

In their caste organisation, marriage and death ceremonies, the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] closely follow the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ]. They do not, however, construct a car for the final death ceremonies. As they are Vaishnavites [ವೈಷ್ಣವ], after purification from death pollution by their own caste barber, a Vaishnavite mendicant, called Dāssaya, is called in, and purifies them by sprinkling holy water and putting the nāmam [ನಾಮಂ] on their foreheads.

There are said to be some differences between the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] and Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] in the method of carrying out the process of drawing toddy. For example, the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] generally grasp the knife with the fingers directed upwards and the thumb to the right, while the Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] hold the knife with the fingers directed downwards and the thumb to the left. For crushing the flower-buds within the spathe of the palm, Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] generally use a stone, and the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] a bone. There is a belief that, if the spathe is beaten with the bone of a buffalo which has been killed by a tiger, the yield of toddy will, if the bone has not touched the ground, be greater than if an ordinary bone is used. The Billavas [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] generally carry a long gourd, and the Halēpaiks [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] a pot, for collecting the toddy in."

[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. 2. -- S. 320ff.]

Izhava [ഈഴവർ] (Malayalam)

"Izhava [ഈഴവർ].The Izhavans [ഈഴവർ] or Ilavans, and Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], are the Malayālam [മലയാളം] toddy-drawing castes of Malabar [മലബാര്‍], Cochin [കൊച്ചി] and Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. The etymology of the name Izhavan [ഈഴവർ] is dealt with in the article on Tīyans [ടിയാൻ].

For the following note on the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], I am, when not otherwise recorded, indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. These people are known as Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] in South and parts of Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], and Chovas in parts of Central and North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. They constitute 17 per cent, of the total population of the State. Izhava [ഈഴവർ] is said to mean those belonging to Izham, a corruption of Simhalam, one of the old names of Ceylon. Jaffna [யாழ்ப்பாணம்], in the north of that island, appears to have been specially known by the name of Izham, and from this place the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] are believed to have originally proceeded to Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. Chova is supposed to be a corruption of Sevaka [സേവക], or servant. In some old boat songs current in Malabar [മലബാര്‍], it occurs in the less corrupt form of Chevaka. According to a legend, a Pāndyan princess named Alli married Narasimha, a Rājah of the Carnatic. The royal couple migrated to Ceylon, and there settled themselves as rulers. On the line becoming extinct, however, their relatives and adherents returned to the continent, where they were accorded only a very low position in society. It is said that they were the ancestors of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ]. In support of this theory, it is urged that, in South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] are known by the title of Mudaliyar [முதலியார்], which is also the surname of a division of the Vellālas [வேளாளர்] at Jaffna [யாழ்ப்பாணம்] ; that the Vattis and Mannāns [മന്നാൻ] [മന്നാൻ] call them Mudaliyars [முதலியார்] ; and that the Pulayas [പുലയർ] have ever been known to address them only as Muttatampurāns. But it may be well supposed that the title may have been conferred upon some families of the caste in consideration of meritorious services on behalf of the State. One of the chief occupations, in which the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] first engaged themselves, was undoubtedly the cultivation of palm trees. In the famous grant of 824 A.D., it is distinctly mentioned that they had a headman of their guild, and their duty was planting up waste lands. They had two special privileges, known as the foot-rope right and ladder right, which clearly explain the nature of their early occupation. The Syrian Christians [സുറിയാനി ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികൾ] appear to have a tradition that the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] were invited to settle on the west coast at their suggestion. The Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] are said to have brought to Kerala [കേരളം] a variety each of the areca palm, champak, and lime tree, to whose vernacular names the word Izham is even to-day invariably prefixed. In the middle ages, they were largely employed as soldiers by the rulers of Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. Titles and privileges were distributed among these soldiers. Canter Visscher [Jacobus Canter Visscher, 1692 - 1735], writing about the Rājah of Ambalapuzha [അമ്പലപ്പുഴ] in the middle of the eighteenth century, (Letters from Malabar) observes that

“the Rājah of Porkkad has not many Nāyars [നായര്‍], in the place of whom he is served by Chegos,” and that “ in times of civil war or rebellion, the Chegos are bound to take up arms for their lawful sovereign.”

The Panikkans [പണിക്കർ] of Ambanat house in the Ambalapuzha [അമ്പലപ്പുഴ] tāluk were the leaders of the Izhava [ഈഴവർ] force, and many powers and privileges were conferred upon this family by the Chembakasseri (Ambalapuzha [അമ്പലപ്പുഴ]) princes. Even so late as the days of Maharaja Rama Verma, [രാമവർമ്മ] who died in 973 M.E., large numbers of Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] were employed as soldiers of the State, if we may believe the account of Friar Bartolomeo (Voyage to the East Indies. Translation, 1800), who is generally a very accurate writer. The South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] used to divide themselves into two parties on the occasion of the Ōnam [ഓണം] festival [ഓണം], and fight at Kaithamukku [കൈതമുക്ക്] near Trivandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം]. Any young man who did not attend this camp of exercise had a piece of wood tied as a wedding ornament round his neck, was led in procession thrice round the village, and transported to the sea-coast.

The Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] proper are divided into three subsections called Pachchili, Pāndi, and Malayālam [മലയാളം].

The Pachchilis live in the tract of land called Pachchalur in the Neyyattinkara [നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര] tāluk between Tiruvellam [തിരുവല്ലം] and Kovalam [കോവളം]. They are only a handful in number.

The Pāndis are largely found in Trivandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം] and Chirayinkil [ചിറയിന്‍കീഴ്‌]. Most of them take the title of Panikkan [പണിക്കർ].

The Malayāla Izhavas [മലയാളം ഈഴവർ] are sub-divided into four exogamous groups or illams [ഇല്ലം], named Muttillam, Madampi or Pallichal [പള്ളിച്ചൽ], Mayanatti, and Chozhi. Pallichal [പള്ളിച്ചൽ] is a place in the Neyyattinkara [നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര] tāluk, and Mayannat in Quilon [കൊല്ലം]. The members of the Chozhi illam [ഇല്ലം] are believed to have been later settlers. 

There is another division of these Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] called Patikramams, based on a more or less geographical distinction. These are also four in number, and called Pallikkattara, Palattara, Irunkulamgara, and Tenganād, their social precedence being in this order. Pallikkattara is in Chirayinkil [ചിറയിന്‍കീഴ്‌], Palattara in Quilon [കൊല്ലം], Irunkulamgara in Trivandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം], and Tenganād in Neyyattinkara [നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര].

The Palattara section is the most orthodox, and rigorously preserves its endogamous character, though some of the titular dignitaries among the Chovas of Central Travancore have found it possible to contract alliances with them.

The divisions of the illam [ഇല്ലം] and Patikkramam are absent among the Chovas. Among these, however, there is a division into Sthani or Melkudi, Tanikudi, and Kizhkudi, the first denoting the titular head, the second the ordinary class, and the third those under communal degradation. Among the last are included the toddy-drawing families, Vaduvans, and Nadis. Vaduvans are the slaves of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ], and, in ancient days, could be regularly bought and sold by them. Nadis live in Kartikapalli [കാർത്തികപ്പള്ളി] and some other parts of Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. They are people who have been outcasted from the community for various offences by the headmen, and cannot enter the kitchen of the ordinary Izhavas [ഈഴവർ]. They are served for ceremonial purposes not by the regular priests of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ], but by a distinct outcaste sect like themselves, known as Nadikuruppus. The Izhavattis, who are the priests of the caste, form a distinct sect with special manners and customs. Chānnan, a corruption of the Tamil [தமிழ்] word, Chanror or chiefmen, is the most important of the titles of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ]. This title was conferred upon distinguished members of the caste as a family honour by some of the ancient sovereigns of the country. Panikkan [പണിക്കർ] comes next in rank, and is derived from pani, work. Tantan, from danda meaning punishment or control, is a popular title in some parts. Asan, from Acharya, a teacher, is extremely common. The recipients of this honour were instructors in gymnastics and military exercises to Nāyar [നായര്‍] and Izhava [ഈഴവർ] soldiers in bygone times, and even now ruins of old kalaris or exercise grounds attached to their houses are discernible in many places. Some Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] in South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] appear to be honoured with the title of Mudaliyar [முதலியார்]. Many families were invested with similar honours by the ancient ruling houses of Ambalapuzha [അമ്പലപ്പുഴ], Kayenkulam [കായംകുളം], and Jayasimhanad (Quilon [കൊല്ലം]). Even now, some titles are conferred by the Rājah of Idappalli [ഇടപ്പള്ളി]. The wives of these dignitaries are respectively known as Chānnatti, Panikkatti, etc.

The houses 'of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] resemble those of the Nāyars [നായര്‍] in form. Each house is a group of buildings, the most substantial of which, known as the arappura, stands in the centre. On the left side is the vadakkettu or woman’s apartment, including the kitchen. There is a court-yard in front of the arappura, and a little building called kizhakkettu enclosing it on the eastern side. Houses invariably face the east. The main entrance stands a little to the south of the kizhakkettu, to the south of which again is the tozhuttu or cow-shed. These buildings, of course, are found only in rich houses, the poor satisfying themselves with an arappura, a vatakketu, and a tozhuttu. A tekketu is to be seen to the south of the arappura in some cases. This is erected mainly to perpetuate the memory of some deceased member of the family known for learning, piety, or bravery. A pītha [പിടം] or seat, a conch, a cane, and a small bag containing ashes, are secured within. It is kept scrupulously free from pollution, and worship is offered on fixed days to the ancestors. The tekketu is enclosed on all the three sides, except the east. This description of houses in South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], as far as Trivandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം], applies also to buildings erected to the north as far as Quilon [കൊല്ലം], though tekketus are not so largely found as in the south. In some parts here, the southern room of the main buildings is consecrated to the memory of ancestors. In Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] there are big kalaris to the south of the arappura in most of the ancient houses, and antique weapons and images of tutelary divinities are carefully preserved therein.

In dress and ornament, the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] closely resemble the Nāyars [നായര്‍]. The tattu form of dress is not prevalent among Izhava [ഈഴവർ] women. In the wearing of the cloth, the left side comes inside instead of the right in the case of South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Izhava [ഈഴവർ] women, though this rule is not without its exceptions. In South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the ornaments of women differ considerably from those of the north. Here they wear the pampadam or Tamil [தமிழ்] Sūdra women’s ear ornament, and adorn the wrists with a pair of silver bangles. The nose ornaments mūkkuthi and gnattu have only recently begun to be worn, and are not very popular in Central and North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. This is a point in which Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] may be said to differ from the South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Nāyar [നായര്‍] matrons. The ear ornament of elderly Izhava [ഈഴവർ] women in North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] is of an antique type called atūkkam-samkhu-chakkravum. Women in the rural parts wear a curious neck ornament called anti-minnu. Of late, all ornaments of Nāyar [നായര്‍] women are being worn by fashionable Izhava [ഈഴവർ] females. But Izhava [ഈഴവർ] and Nāyar [നായര്‍] women can be distinguished by the tie of the hair lock, the Izhava [ഈഴവർ] women usually bringing it to the centre of the forehead, while the Nāyars [നായര്‍] place it on one side, generally the left. Tattooing was once prevalent in South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], but is gradually losing favour. It was never in vogue in North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്].

The Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] eat both fish and flesh. Rabbits, deer, pigs, sheep, porcupines, fowls, doves, guinea-fowls, peacocks, and owls are believed to make popular dishes. The sweetmeat called ariyunta, and the curry known as mutirakkary, are peculiar to the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ], and prepared best by them.

The most important occupation of the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] till recently was the cultivation of palm trees, and the preparation of toddy and arrack. Barbosa [Duarte Barbosa 1480 - 1521], writing in the sixteenth century, states that

“their principal employment is to till the palm trees, and gather their fruits ; and to carry everything for hire from one point to another, because they are not in the habit of transporting them with beasts of burden, as there are none ; and they hew stone, and gain their livelihood by all kinds of labour. Some of them bear the use of arms, and fight in the wars when it is necessary. They carry a staff in their hand of a fathom’s length as a sign of their lineage.”

With the progress of culture and enlightenment, the occupation of extracting liquor from the cocoanut palm has ceased to be looked upon with favour, and such families as are now given to that pursuit have come to be regarded as a low division of the Chovas. In some parts of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the latter do not even enjoy the privilege of commensality with the other Izhavas [ഈഴവർ]. Agriculture is a prominent profession, and there are several wealthy and influential landlords in the community. There is also a fair percentage of agricultural labourers. A preliminary rite, called pozhutana sowing, is performed by farmers, who throw three handfuls of rice seed on a clay image representing Ganēsa [ഗണേശ], and pray that their fields may yield a good harvest. Before the time of reaping, on an auspicious morning, a few sheaves are brought, and hung up in some prominent place in the house. This ceremony is known as nira [നിറ], and is common to all Hindu castes. At the end of it, the inmates of the house partake of puttari  or new rice.

There are a few other customary rites observed by agriculturists, viz. :—

  1. Metiyittu-varuka, or throwing the grains of the first sheaf upon another, and covering it with its straw, this being afterwards appropriated by the chief agricultural labourer present.
  2. Koytu-pitichcha-katta-kotukkuka, or handing over the first sheaves of grain fastened together with Strychnos Nux-vomica leaves to the owner of the field, who is obliged to preserve them till the next harvest season.
  3. Kotuti, or offering of oblations of a few grains dipped in toddy to the spirits of agricultural fields, the Pulaya [പുലയർ] priest crying aloud ‘ Poli, vā, poli, vā,’ meaning literally May good harvest come.

As manufacturers, the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] occupy a position in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. They produce several kinds of cloth, for local consumption in the main, and make mats, tiles, and ropes, with remarkable skill. They are also the chief lemon-grass oil distillers of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. In the professions of medicine and astrology, the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] have largely engaged themselves. While it must be confessed that many of them are utter strangers to culture, there are several who have received a sound education, especially in Sanskrit. On the whole, the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] may be said to be one of the most industrious and prosperous communities on the west coast.

The Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] form a pious and orthodox Hindu [ഹിന്ദൂ] caste. Though they cannot enter the inner court-yard of temples, they attend there in considerable numbers, and make their pious offerings. Over several temples the Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] have a joint right with the Nāyars [നായര്‍]. In illustration, the shrines of Saktikulamgara in Karunagappali [കരുനാഗപ്പള്ളി], and Chettikulangara [ചെട്ടികുളങ്ങര] in Mavelikara [മാവേലിക്കര], may be mentioned. Over these and other temples, the rights that have been enjoyed from time immemorial by certain Izhava [ഈഴവർ] families are respected even at the present day. In most places, the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] have their own temples, with a member of their own or the Izhavatti caste as priest. As no provision had been made in them for daily worship, there was no necessity in early times for the regular employment of priests. The deity usually worshipped was Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി], who was believed to help them in their military undertakings. The offerings made to her involved animal sacrifices. The temples are generally low thatched buildings with a front porch, an enclosure wall, and a grove of trees. There are many instances, in which the enclosure wall is absent. The Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] cult is gradually losing favour under the teaching of a Vedantic scholar and religious reformer named Nanan Asan. In many Central and South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] shrines, images of Subramania [സുബ്രഹ്മണ്യ ] have been set up at his instance, and daily worship is offered by bachelor priests appointed by the castemen. An association for the social, material, and religious amelioration of the community, called Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, has been started. Its head-quarters is at Aruvippuram [അരുവിപ്പുറം] in the Nayyatinkara [നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര] tāluk. Every morning, the sun is specially worshipped by the cultured class. In ancient times, the adoration of Anchu Tampurakkal or the five deities, now identified with the Pāndavas [പാണ്ഡവർ] of the Mahābhārata [മഹാഭാരതം], prevailed among these people. This worship is found among the Pulayas [പുലയർ] also. At Mayyanad in Quilon [കൊല്ലം], there is still an Izhava [ഈഴവർ] temple dedicated to these five lords. Women visit shrines on all Mondays and Fridays, with a view to worshipping Gauri, the consort of Siva [ശിവൻ]. Male Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] devote the first and last days of a month, as also that on which the star of their nativity falls, to religious worship. The Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] pay homage to a spirit called Kayalil Daivam [കായലില്‍ ദൈവമ്], or the deity of backwaters. When a village becomes infected with small-pox or cholera, offerings are made to the Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] shrine in that locality. The most important offering goes by the name of Kalam Vaikkuka [കലം വയ്ക്കുക], or pot placing. A woman of the house of the local Panikkan [പണിക്കർ] or chief member fasts, and, bearing a pot containing five nalis (a small measure) of paddy (unhusked rice), proceeds to all the other Izhava [ഈഴവർ] houses in the village, accompanied by musical instruments. One woman from every house marches to the shrine with her offering of paddy and a chuckram (nearly half an anna [അണ]). The priest receives the offerings, converts the paddy into rice, and, depositing a portion of it in each of the pots, hands them back to the votaries on the morning of the next day. Another ceremony performed on such occasions is called Desakuruti, when women fast, and, taking all the food-stuffs necessary, proceed to the temple. After the sacrifice of a goat and fowls by the priest, they make an offering of the food to the deity before dinner.

Tūkkam [തൂക്കം], or suspension, is another propitiatory ceremony. A religious observance, known as Mamachchirappu, finds favour with the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] in the month of Vrischikam [വൃശ്ചികം] (November-December). Every Izhava [ഈഴവർ] bathes in the evening, addresses the deities by their names for about an hour, and then makes an offering of tender cocoanuts, fruits, and fried grain. This takes place according to the convenience of each family from twelve to forty-one days.

In connection with the tūkkam ceremony, Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar [എൽ.കെ. അനന്തകൃഷ്ണയ്യർ, 1861 – 1937] writes as follows. (Monograph Ethnograph : Survey of Cochin, No. 10, Izhavas, 1905.)

“There are two kinds of hook-swinging, namely Garuda [ഗരുഡൻ തൂക്കം] (Brahmini kite) and thoni (boat) tūkkam [ തോണി തൂക്കം]. The ceremony is performed in fulfilment of a vow, to obtain some favour of the deity Kāli [കാളി], before whose presence it is carried out. The performer of the ceremony should bathe early in the morning, and be in a state of preparation either for a year or for forty-one days by worshipping the deity Bhagavati [ഭഗവതി]. He must strictly abstain from meat, all kinds of intoxicating liquors, and association with women. During the morning hours, the performer dresses himself in a garment tucked into the waist-band, rubs his body with oil, and is shampooed particularly on the back, a portion of the flesh in the middle of which is stretched for the insertion of a hook. He is also taught by his instructor to perform various feats called payitta. This he continues till the festival, when he has to swing in fulfilment of the vow. In kite swinging [ഗരുഡൻ തൂക്കം], a kind of car, resting on two axles provided with four wheels, is employed. On it, there is a horizontal beam resting on two vertical supports. A strong rope tied to a ring attached to the beam is connected with the hook which passes through the flesh of the back. Over the beam there is a kutaram [കൂടാരം] (tent), which is tastefully decorated. Inside it, two or three persons can swing at a time. There is a different arrangement in some places. Instead of the beam and the supports, there is a small pole, on which rests a horizontal beam provided with a metallic ring at one end. The beam acts as a lever, so that one end of it can be either raised or lowered, so as to give some rest to the swinger. The rope tied to the ring is connected with the hook and the waist-band. For boat swinging  [ തോണി തൂക്കം], the same kind of vehicle, without wheels, is in use. For kite swinging, the performer has his face painted green. He has to put on artificial lips and wings in imitation of those of the kite, and wears long locks of hair like those of an actor in a Kathakali [കഥകളി]. As he swings, the car is taken three, five, seven, nine, or eleven times round the temple. In boat swinging, the car is likewise carried round the temple, with the swinger performing his feats, as in the case of kite swinging, to the accompaniment of music. He has to put on the same kind of dress, except the lips and wings. In pillayeduthu-tūkkam [തൂക്കം], or swinging with a child in fulfilment of a vow, the child is taken to the temple by his parents, who pay to the temple authorities thirty-four chuckrams [ചക്രം] in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], and sixty-four puthans in Cochin [കൊച്ചി]. The child is then handed over to the swinger, who carries the child as he swings. These performances are sometimes made at the expense of the temple, but more generally of persons who make the outlay in fulfilment of a vow. In the latter case, it costs as much as Rs. 150 for the kite swinger, but only Rs. 30 for the boat swinger. During the festival, they are fed in the temple, owing to their being in a state of vow. It is the Nāyars [നായര്‍], Kammālars [കമ്മാളര്], Kuruppans [കറുപ്പൻ], and Izhavas [ഈഴവർ], who perform the swinging in fulfilment of a vow. In the fight between the goddess Kāli [കാളി] and the demon Darika [ ദാരിക], the latter was completely defeated, and the former, biting him on the back, drank his blood to gratify her feelings of animosity. Hook-swinging symbolises this incident, and the bloodshed by the insertion of the hook through the flesh is intended as an offering to the goddess.”

Of the hook-swinging ceremony as performed a few years ago at the Kollangadu temple in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], an excellent account is given by the Rev. T. Knowles (Wide World Magazine, September 1899), from which the following précis has been compiled.

"In front of the temple was a booth containing the image of the goddess Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി], a cruel deity, who is supposed to delight in blood. At a little distance was the car. The bottom part of this was very much like a lorry used when transporting large logs of timber by means of elephants. There. were four solid wheels of thick timber, with a frame work, like a railway waggon on a small scale. To this were attached two thick cable ropes. Joined to the sides of the car were two upright posts, about 15 feet high, strengthened with stays and cross-pieces. On the top was a piece of thick timber with a hole in it, and the bottom rounded, which fitted into a cross-piece, and allowed the long beam on which the men were swung to move up or down. This beam was 35 or 40 feet long, and about 9 inches in diameter. It was placed through the hole in the piece of timber on the top of the upright frame, and balanced in the middle like a huge see-saw. At one end of the hole was a covered canopy, and at the other long ropes were fastened, which trailed on the ground. The whole arrangement of the car was such that, by lowering one end of the long beam to the ground, and fastening a man to it, and then pulling down the other end by the ropes, the man could be raised into the air to a height of some 40 feet or more. The whole car could then be dragged by the thick cable ropes round the temple. While the subject was being prepared for swinging, a mat was stretched above his head, partly to do him honour, partly to protect him from the sun. His head and neck were richly ornamented, and below he was bedecked with peacock’s feathers, and clad in a loin-cloth, which would bear some, if not all the weight of his body. Amid the firing of mortars, beating of tom-toms, the screeching of flutes, and the shouts of the crowd, the canopied end of the long beam was lowered, and the devotee, lying prone on the ground, was fastened to the beam by means of ropes passing under his arms and around his chest. To some of the ropes, hooks were fastened. The priests took hold of the fleshy part of the man’s back, squeezed up the flesh, and put some four hooks at least through it. A rudely fashioned sword and shield were then given to the man, and he was swung up into the air, waving the sword and shield, and making convulsive movements. Slowly the people dragged the car round the temple, a distance not quite as far as round St. Paul’s cathedral. Some of the men were suspended while the car was dragged round three or four times. The next devotee was fastened in the same way to the beam, but, instead of a sword and shield, the priests gave him an infant in his arms, and devotee and infant were swung up in the air, and the car dragged round the temple as before. Some children were brought forward, whose parents had made vows about them. The little ones were made to prostrate themselves before the image of Kāli [കാളി]. Then the fleshy parts of their sides were pinched up, and some wires put through. This done, the wires were placed in the hands of the relatives, and the children were led round and round the temple, as though in leading strings. It is on record that, when the devotee has been specially zealous, the whole machine has been moved to a considerable distance while he was suspended from it, to the admiration of the gaping multitudes.”

In connection with the religion of the Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ], the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows (Native Life in Travancore, 1883).

"Demon worship, especially that of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി], a female demon described as a mixture of mischief and cruelty, is the customary cultus of the caste, with sacrifices and offerings and devil-dancing like the Shānārs. Shāstāvu and Vīrabhadran [വീരഭദ്രൻ] are also venerated, and the ghosts of ancestors. Groves of trees stand near the temples, and serpent images are common, these creatures being accounted favourites of Kāli [കാളി]. They carry their superstitions and fear of the demons into every department and incident of life. In some temples and ceremonies, as at Paroor [പരവൂർ], Sarkarei, etc., they closely associate with the Sūdras [ശൂദ്രർ]. The Ilavar  [ഈഴവർ] temples are generally low, thatched buildings, with front porch, a good deal of wooden railing and carving about them, an enclosure wall, and a grove or a few trees, such as Ficus religiosa, Plumeria, and Bassia. At the Ilavar  [ഈഴവർ] temple near Chakki in the outskirts of Trevandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം], the goddess Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] is represented as a female seated on an image, having two wings, gilt and covered with serpents. Twice a year, fowls and sheep are sacrificed by an Ilavan [ഈഴവർ] priest, and offerings of grain, fruit, and flowers are presented. The side-piercing ceremony is also performed here. A temple at Mangalattukonam, about ten miles south of Trevandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം], at which I witnessed the celebration of the annual festival on the day following Meena Bharani, in March or April, may be taken as a fair example of the whole. In connection with this temple may be seen a peculiar wooden pillar and small shrine at the top, somewhat like a pigeon-house. This is called a tani maram, and is a kind of altar, or residence, for the demon Mādan, resembling the temporary shrines on sticks or platforms erected by the Pulayars [പുലയർ]. On it are carvings of many-headed serpents, etc., and a projecting lamp for oil. For the festival, the ground around the temple was cleared of weeds, the outhouses and sheds decorated with flowers, and on the tani maram were placed two bunches of plantains, at its foot a number of devil-dancing sticks. Close by were five or six framework shrines, constructed of soft palm leaves and pith of plantain tree, and ornamented with flowers. These were supposed to be the residence of some minor powers, and in them were placed, towards night, offerings of flowers, rice, plantains, cocoanuts, and blood. The Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ] who assemble for the festival wear the marks of Siva [ശിവൻ], a dot and horizontal lines on the forehead, and three horizontal lines of yellow turmeric on the chest. They begin to gather at the temple from noon, and return home at night. The festival lasts for five days. Some of the neighbouring Sūdras [ശൂദ്രർ] and Shānārs also attend, and some Pulayars [പുലയർ], who pay one chuckram [ചക്രം] for two shots of firework guns in fulfilment of their vows. Offerings here are generally made in return for relief from sickness or trouble of some kind. The pūjāri [പൂജാരി], or priest, is an Ilavan [ഈഴവർ], who receives donations of money, rice, etc. A kind of mild hook-swinging ceremony is practised. On the occasion referred to, four boys, about fifteen or sixteen years of age, were brought. They must partly fast for five days previously on plain rice and vegetable curry, and are induced to consent to the operation, partly by superstitious fear, and partly by bribes. On the one hand they are threatened with worse danger if they do not fulfil the vows made by their parents to the dēvi [ദേവി] (deity); on the other hand, if obedient, they receive presents of fine clothes and money. Dressed in handsome cloths and turbans, and adorned with gold bracelets and armlets, and garlands of flowers, the poor boys are brought to present a little of their blood to the sanguinary goddess. Three times they march round the temple ; then an iron is run through the muscles of each side, and small rattans inserted through the wounds. Four men seize the ends of the canes, and all go round in procession, with music and singing and clapping of hands, five or seven times, according to their endurance, till quite exhausted. The pūjāri [പൂജാരി] now dresses in a red cloth, with tinsel border, like a Brāhman, takes the dancing-club in hand, and dances before the demon. Cocks are sacrificed, water being first poured upon the head; when the bird shakes itself, the head is cut off, and the blood poured round the temple. Rice is boiled in one of the sheds in a new pot, and taken home with the fowls by the people for a feast in the house. At Mayanādu, the Bhagavathi [ഭഗവതി]. of the small temple belonging to the Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ] is regarded as the sister of the one worshipped in the larger temple used by the Sūdras [ശൂദ്രർ], and served by a Brāhman priest; and the cars of the latter are brought annually to the Ilavar’s  [ഈഴവർ] temple, and around it three times before returning to their own temple. At the Ilavar  [ഈഴവർ]’s temple, the same night, the women boil rice in new earthen pots, and the men offer sheep and fowls in sacrifice. In further illustration of the strange superstitious practices of this tribe, two more incidents may be mentioned. An Ilavatti, whose child was unwell, went to consult an astrologer, who informed her that the disease was caused by the spirit of the child’s deceased grandmother. For its removal he would perform various incantations, for which he required the following, viz.:—water from seven wells, dung from five cowsheds, a larva of the myrmeleon, a crab, a frog, a green snake, a virāl fish, parched rice, ada cake, cocoanut, chilly, and green palm leaves. An Ilavan [ഈഴവർ], who had for some time been under Christian instruction, was led away by a brother, who informed him that, if he built a small temple for the worship of Nina Mādan, and offered sacrifices, he should find a large copper vessel full of gold coins hid underground, and under the charge of this demon. The foolish man did so, but did not find a single cash. Now the lying brother avers that the demon will not be satisfied unless a human sacrifice is offered, which, of course, is impossible.”

The headmen of the Izhava [ഈഴവർ] caste are the Chānnans and Panikkans [പണിക്കർs], invested with these titles by the Sovereigns of this State who have been already referred to. The limits of their jurisdiction were generally fixed in the charters received from them by their rulers, and even to-day their authority remains supreme in all social matters. The priests, it may be noted, are only a minor class, having no judicial functions. Chief among the offences against the caste rules may be mentioned non-observance of pollution, illicit connection, non-performance of the tāli-kettu [താലികെട്ടു] before the age of puberty, non-employment of the village barber and washerman, non-celebration of ceremonies in one’s own village, and so on. The headman comes to know of these through the agency of the village barber or washerman, and also a class of secondary dignitaries known as Kottilpattukar or Nāluvitanmar. In every village, there are four families, invested with this authority in olden times by the rulers of the State on payment of fifty-nine fanams [പണം] to the royal treasury. They are believed to hold a fourth of the authority that pertains to the chieftain of the village. If, on enquiry, an offence is proved, a fine is imposed on the offender, which he is obliged to pay to the local shrine. If the offence is grave, a feast has to be given by him to the villagers. In cases of failure, the services of the village priest and washerman, and also the barber, are refused, and the culprit becomes ostracised from society. The headman has to be paid a sum of ten chuckrams [ചക്രം] on all occasions of ceremonies, and the Naluvitanmar four chuckrams [ചക്രം] each. There is a movement in favour of educating the priests, and delegating some of the above powers to them.

Three forms of inheritance may be said to prevail among the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], viz.:

  1. makkathāyam [മക്കത്തായം] (inheritance from father to son) in the extreme south; 
  2. marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] (through the female line) in all tāluks to the north of Quilon [കൊല്ലം] ;
  3. mixture of the two between Neyyatinkara [നെയ്യാറ്റിൻകര] and that tāluk.

According to the mixed mode, one’s own children are not left absolutely destitute, but some portion of the property is given them for maintenance, in no case, however, exceeding a half. In families observing the marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] law, male and female heirs own equal rights. Partition, though possible when all consent, rarely takes place in practice, the eldest male member holding in his hands the management of the whole property. In Quilon [കൊല്ലം] and other places, the widow and her children are privileged to remain in her husband’s house for full one year after his death, and enjoy all the property belonging to him.

On the subject of inheritance, the Rev. S. Mateer writes as follows.

“The nepotistic law of inheritance is, to a considerable extent, followed by this caste. Those in the far south being more closely connected with the Tamil [தமிழ்] people, their children inherit. Amongst the Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ] in Trevandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം] district, a curious attempt is made to unite both systems of inheritance, half the property acquired by a man after his marriage, and during the lifetime of his wife, going to the issue of such marriage, and half to the man’s nepotistic heirs. In a case decided by the Sadr Court, in 1872, the daughter of an Ilavan [ഈഴവർ]claimed her share in the movable and immovable property of her deceased father, and to have a sale made by him while alive declared null and void to the extent of her share. As there was another similar heir, the Court awarded the claimant a half share, and to this extent the claim was invalidated. Their rules are thus stated by G. Kerala Varman Tirumulpad :—

‘If one marries and gives cloth to an Ilavatti (female), and has issue, of the property acquired by him and her from the time of the union, one-tenth is deducted for the husband’s labour or individual profit; of the remainder, half goes to the woman and her children, and half to the husband and his heirs (anandaravans). The property which an Ilavan [ഈഴവർ] has inherited or earned before his marriage devolves solely to his anandaravans, not to his children. If an Ilavatti has continued to live with her husband, and she has no issue, or her children die before obtaining any share of the property, when the husband dies possessing property earned by both, his heirs and she must mutually agree, or the castemen decide what is fair for her support ; and the husband’s heir takes the remainder.’ ”

The marriage of Izhava [ഈഴവർ] girls consists of two distinct rites, one before they attain puberty called tāli-kettu [താലികെട്ടു], and the other generally after that period, but in some cases before, called sambandham. It is, however, necessary that the girl must have her tāli [താലി] tied before some one contracts sambandham with her. The tāli-tier may be, but often is not, as among the Nāyars [നായര്‍], the future husband of the girl. But, even for him, the relation will not be complete without a formal cloth presentation. The legitimate union for a person is with his maternal uncle’s or paternal aunt’s daughter. Generally there is a separate ceremony called Grihapravesam, or entrance into the house of the bridegroom after sambandham. Widows may contract alliances with other persons after the death of the first husband. In all cases, the Izhava [ഈഴവർ] husband takes his wife home, and considers it infra dig. to stay in the house of his father-in-law.

The method of celebrating the tāli-kettu [താലികെട്ടു] differs in different parts of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. The following is the form popular in Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. All the elderly members of the village assemble at the house of the girl, and fix a pillar of jack (Artocarpus integrifolia [Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.]) wood at the south-east corner. On the Kaniyan (astrologer) being three times loudly consulted as to the auspiciousness of the house he gives an affirmative reply, and the guardian of the girl, receiving a silver ring from the goldsmith, hands it over to the Vatti (priest), who ties it on the wooden post. The carpenter, Kaniyan, and goldsmith receive some little presents. The next item in the programme is the preparation of the rice necessary for the marriage, and a quantity of paddy (unhusked rice) is brought by the girl to the pandal [പന്തൽ] ground, and formally boiled in a pot. The pandal [പന്തൽ] (booth) is generally erected on the south side of the house. The chartu, or a chit from the Kaniyan, certifying the auspiciousness of the match and the suitable date for its formal adoption, is taken by the guardian and four Machchampis or Inangans to the headman of the latter. These Machchampis are Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of the village, equal in status to the guardian of the girl. All the preliminary arrangements are now over, and, on the day previous to the marriage, the girl bathes, and, wearing the bleached cloths supplied by the Mannān (washerman), worships the local deity, and awaits the arrival of the bridegroom. In the evening, the wife of the Vatti applies oil to her hair, and after a bath the rite known as Kalati begins, as a preliminary to which a thread passing through a silver ring is tied round her right wrist. Kalati is recitation of various songs by the women of the village before the girl. This is followed by Kanjiramala, or placing the girl before a line of carved wooden images, and songs by the Vatti women. On the following day, the girl is introduced, at the auspicious hour, within the katirmandapa or raised platform decorated with sheaves of corn within the pandal [പന്തൽ]. The minnu or marriage ornament, prepared by the goldsmith, is handed over to the priest, along with two cloths to be worn by the bride and bridegroom. A string is made of thread taken from these cloths, and the minnu attached to it. The mother-in-law of the bridegroom now stands ready at the gate, and, on his arrival, places a garland of flowers round his neck. The new cloths are then presented by the Vatti and his wife to the bridegroom and bride respectively, after some tender cocoanut leaves, emblematic of the established occupation of the caste, are thrust into the bridegroom’s waist by the headman of the village. In former days, a sword took the place of these leaves. The minnu is then tied round the neck of the bride, and all parties, including the parent or guardian, give presents to the bridegroom. The day’s ceremony is then over, and the bridegroom remains at the house of the bride. The string is removed from the bride’s wrist by the Vatti on the fourth day, and the couple bathe. More than one girl may have the  tāli [താലി] tied at the same time, provided that there are separate bridegrooms for them. Only boys from the families of Machchampis can become tāli-tiers.

The sambandham of North and Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] differs from that of South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] in some material respects. In the former, on the appointed day, the bridegroom, who is a different person from the tāli-tier, accompanied by his relations and friends, arrives at the bride’s house, and the guardian of the former offers a sum of money to the guardian of the latter. A suit of clothes, with ten chuckrams [ചക്രം] or ten rāsis (coins), is presented by the bridegroom to the bride, who stands in a room within and receives it, being afterwards dressed by his sister. The money goes by right to her mother, and is known as Ammāyippanam. Now comes the time for the departure of the bride to her husband’s house, when she receives from her guardian a nut-cracker, lime-can, a dish filled with rice, and a mat. A red cloth is thrown over her head, and a few members accompany the party for some distance. In South Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the bridegroom is accompanied, besides others, by a companion, who asks in the midst of the assembly whether they assent to the proposed alliance, and, on their favourable reply, hands over a sum of money as an offering to the local shrine. Another sum is given for the maintenance of the bride, and, in the presence of the guardian, a suit of clothes is given to her by the bridegroom. The wife is, as elsewhere, immediately taken to the husband’s house. This is called Kudivaippu, and corresponds to the Grahapravesam celebrated by Brāhmans.

The following account of marriage among the Izhavas [ഈഴവർ] of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] is given in the Gazetteer of that district.

 “A girl may be married before puberty, but the consummation is not supposed to be effected till after puberty, though the girl may live with her husband at once. If the marriage is performed before puberty, the ceremony is apparently combined with the tāli-kettu kalyānam [താലികെട്ടു കല്യാണം]. The bride is fetched from the dēvapura [ദേവപുര] or family chapel with a silk veil over her head, and holding a betel leaf in her right hand in front of her face. She stands in the pandal [പന്തൽ] on a plank, on which there is some rice. On her right stand four enangans of the bridegroom, and on her left four of her own. The elder of the bridegroom’s enangans hands one of the bride’s enangans a bundle containing the tāli [താലി], a mundu and pāvā (cloths), some rice, betel leaves, and a coin called mēymēlkanam, which should be of gold and worth at least one rupee. All these are provided by the bridegroom. He next hands the tāli [താലി] to the bridegroom’s sister, who ties it. After this, all the enangans scatter rice and flowers over the bride. In this caste, the claim of a man to the hand of his paternal aunt’s daughter is recognised in the ceremony called padikkal tada (obstruction at the gate), which consists of a formal obstruction offered by eleven neighbours to the bride’s removal, when she is not so related to her husband. They are bought off by a fee of two fanams [പണം], and a packet of betel leaf. The girl is then taken to the bridegroom’s house. If very young, she is chaperoned by a female relative. On the fourth day there is a feast at the bridegroom’s house called nālām kalyānam, and this concludes the ceremonies. Marriage after puberty is called Pudamari. The ceremonial is the same, but there is no padikkal tada.”

When an Izhava [ഈഴവർ] girl reaches puberty, the occasion is one for a four days’ religious ceremonial. On the first day, the Vatti priestess anoints the girl with oil, and, after a bath, dresses her in the cloth supplied by the Mannātti (washerwoman). She is then laid on a broad wooden plank, and is supposed not to go out until she bathes on the fourth day. All the female relations of the family present her with sweetmeats. On the seventh day, she is again taken to and from the village tank (pond) with much éclat, and, on her return, she either treads on cloths spread on the floor, or is carried by an elderly woman. After this, she husks a quantity of paddy, and cooks the rice obtained thence. If this ceremony takes place at the house of a headman, thé villagers present him with a vessel full of sugared rice.

A two days’ ceremonial, called Pulikudi in north Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], and Vayattu Pongala in the south, which corresponds to the Pumsavana of Brāhmans, is observed at the seventh month of pregnancy. On the first day, at twilight in the evening, the pregnant woman, preceded by the priestess, proceeds to the foot of a tamarind tree on the southern side of the compound. Arriving there, she receives a thread seven yards in length, to which a silver ring is attached at one end, and, by means of circumambulation, entwines the tree with the thread. If the thread is by chance or inadvertence broken during this process, the popular belief is that either the mother or the child will die soon. Next day, the thread is unwound from the tree, and a handful of tamarind leaves is given to the woman by her husband. On re-entering the house, tamarind juice is poured through the hands of the husband into those of the wife, who drinks it. The priestess then pours a quantity of oil on the navel of the woman from a betel leaf, and, from the manner in which it flows down, it is believed that she is able to determine the sex of the unborn child. The woman has to lean against a cutting of an ambazham (Spondias mangifera [Spondias pinnata (J. Koenig ex L. f.) Kurz]) tree while she is drinking the juice, and this cutting has to be planted in some part of the compound. If it does not grow properly, the adversity of the progeny is considered to be sealed. The husband is given a ring and other presents on this occasion. Women bathe on the third, fifth, and nineteenth day after delivery, and wear the māttu [மாத்து] or changed cloth of the Mannātti, in order to be freed from pollution. The name-giving ceremony of the child takes place on the twenty-eighth day. It is decorated with a pair of iron anklets, and a ribbon passed through a few pieces of iron is tied round its waist. It is then held standing on a vessel filled with rice, and, its left ear being closed, a name is muttered by its guardian into the right ear. The first feeding ceremony is observed in the sixth month, when the iron ornaments are removed, and replaced by silver and gold ones. The ear-boring ceremony takes place at an auspicious hour on some day before the child attains its seventh year.

In former times, only the eldest male member of a family was cremated, but no such restriction obtains at the present day. When a member of the community dies, three handfuls of rice are placed in the mouth of the corpse by the eldest heir after a bath, followed by the sons, nephews, and grandsons of the deceased. Every relative throws an unbleached cloth over the corpse, after which it is taken to the burning-ground, where the pyre is lighted by the heir with a consecrated torch handed to him by the priest. A wooden plank is furnished by the carpenter, and an impression of the foot of the deceased smeared with sandal paste is made on it. The name, and date of the death of the deceased, are inscribed thereon, and it has to be carefully preserved in the house of the heir. The record refreshes his memory on occasions of srādh (memorial service), etc. When the cremation is half completed, the contents of a tender cocoanut are placed beside the head of the corpse as an offering, and prayers are muttered. A pot full of water is then borne by the chief mourner on his shoulder thrice round the corpse. As he does so, the priest pricks the pot thrice with an iron instrument. Finally, the pot is broken on the pyre, and the chief mourner returns home without turning back and looking at the corpse. On the second day, an oblation of food (pinda) is offered to the departed. The inmates of the house are fed with conji (rice gruel) on this day by the relatives. The Sanchayana, or collection of bones, takes place on the fifth day. Pollution lasts for fifteen days in Central and North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], but only for ten days in the south. There are some rites, not observed necessarily by all members of the caste, on the forty-first day, and at the end of the first year. Persons who have died of contagious diseases, women who die after conception or on delivery, and children under five years of age, are buried. Pollution is observed only for nine days when children die ; and, in the case of men who die of contagious disease, a special group of ceremonies is performed by the sorcerer. Those who are under pollution, besides being forbidden to enter shrines and other sanctuaries, may not read or write, or partake of liquor, butter, milk, ghī, dhal, or jaggery."

[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. 2. -- S. 392 - 418.]

Kalār [कलार], Kalwār [कलवार] (Central Provinces)

"Kalār [कलार], Kalwār [कलवार]:1

1 Some information for this article has been supplied by Bābu Lāl, Excise Sub-Inspector, Mr. Adurām Chaudhri, Tahsīldār, and Sundar Lāl Richaria, Sub-Inspector of Police.

1. Strength of the caste.

The occupational caste of distillers and sellers of fermented liquor. In 1911 the Kalārs [कलार] numbered nearly 200,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार], or rather more than one per cent of the population ; so they are a somewhat important caste numerically. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Kalyapāla [कल्यपाल], a distiller of liquor.

2. Internal structure.

The caste has a number of subdivisions, of which the bulk are of the territorial type, as Mālvi [माळवी] or the immigrants from Mālwa [माळवा], LAd those coming from south Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], Daharia belonging to Dāhar or the Jubbulpore [जबलपुर] country, Jaiswār and Kanaujia [कन्नौजिया] coming from Oudh [अवध]. The Rai Kalārs [राय कलार] are an aristocratic subcaste, the word Rai [राय] signifying the highest or ruling group like Rāj [राज]. But the Byāhut or ‘Married’ are perhaps really the most select, and are so called because they forbid the remarriage of widows, their women being thus married once for all. In Bengal [বঙ্গ] they also decline to distil or sell liquor. The Chauske Kalārs [कलार] are said to be so called because they prohibit the marriage of persons having a common ancestor up to the fourth generation. The name of the Seohāre or Sivahāre subcaste is perhaps a corruption of Somhāre or dealers in Soma [सोम] [सोम], the sacred fermented liquor of the Vedas ; or it may mean the worshippers of the god Siva [शिव]. The Seohāre Kalārs [कलार] say that they are connected with the Agarwāla [अग्रवाल] Banias [बनिया], their common ancestors having been the brothers Seoru and Agru. These brothers on one occasion purchased a quantity of mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] flowers ; the price afterwards falling heavily. Agru sold his stock at a discount and cut the loss ; but Seoru, unwilling to suffer it, distilled liquor from his flowers and sold the liquor, thus recouping himself for his expenditure. But in consequence of his action he was degraded from the Bania [बनिया] caste and his descendants became Kalārs [कलार]. The Jaiswar, Kanaujia [कन्नौजिया] and Seohāre divisions are also found in northern India, and the Byāhut both there and in Bengal [বঙ্গ]. Mr. Crooke states that the caste may be an offshoot from the Bania [बनिया] or other Vaishya [वैश्य] tribes ; and a slight physical resemblance may perhaps be traced between Kalārs [कलार] and Banias [बनिया]. It may be noticed also that some of the Kalārs [कलार] are Jains [जैन], a religion to which scarcely any others except Banias [बनिया] adhere. Another hypothesis, however, is that since the Kalārs [कलार] have become prosperous and wealthy they devised a story connecting them with the Bania [बनिया] caste in order to improve their social position.

Dandsena Kalārs [दंडसेना कलार] in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़]

In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the principal division of the Kalārs [कलार] is that of the Dandsenas [दंडसेना]  or ‘Stick-carriers,’ and in explanation Kalārs [कलार] in of the name they relate the following story :

“A Kalār [कलार] boy was formerly the Mahāprasād [महाप्रसाद] or bosom friend of the son of the Rājpūt [राजपूत] king of Balod [बालोद]. But the Rāja’s [राजा] son fell in love with the Kalār [कलार] boy’s sister and entertained evil intentions towards her. Then the Kalār [कलार] boy went and complained to the Rāja [राजा], who was his Phūlbāba [फूलबाबा], the father of his friend, saying, ‘A dog is always coming into my house and defiling it, what am I to do?’ The Rāja [राजा] replied that he must kill the dog. Then the boy asked whether he would be punished for killing him, and the Rāja [राजा] said, No. So the next day as the Rājpūt [राजपूत] boy was entering his house to get at his sister, the Kalār [कलार] boy killed him, though he was his dearest friend. Then the Rājpūts [राजपूत] attacked the Kalārs [कलार], but they were led only by the queen, as the king had said that the Kalār [कलार] boy might kill the dog. But the Rājpūts [राजपूत] were being defeated and so the Rāja [राजा] intervened, and the Kalārs [कलार] then ceased fighting as the Rāja [राजा] had broken his word. But they left Balod [बालोद], saying that they would drink no more of its waters, which they have not done to this day.”

And the Kalārs [कलार] are called Dandsena [दंडसेना], because in this fight sticks were their only weapons.

4. Social customs.

The marriage customs of the caste follow the ordinary Hindu ritual prevalent in the locality and are not of special interest. Before a Kalār [कलार] wedding procession starts a ceremony known as marrying the well is performed. The mother or aunt of the bridegroom goes to the well and sits in the mouth with her legs hanging down inside it and asks what the bridegroom will give her. He then goes round the well seven times, and a stick of kāns [काँस] (Saccharum spontaneum) grass is thrown into it at each turn. Afterwards he promises the woman some handsome present and she returns to the house. Another explanation of the story is that the woman pretends to be overcome with grief at the bridegroom’s departure and threatens to throw herself into the well unless he will give her something. The well-to-do marry their daughters at an early age, but no stigma attaches to those who have to postpone the ceremony. A bride-price is not customary, but if the girl’s parents are poor they sometimes receive help from those of the boy in order to carry out the wedding. Matches are usually arranged at the caste feasts, and a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] officiates at the ceremony. Divorce is recognised and widows are allowed to marry again except by the Byāhut subcaste. The Kalārs [कलार] worship the ordinary Hindu deities, and those who sell liquor revere an earthen jar filled with wine at the Holi [होली] festival. The educated are usually Vaishnavas [वैष्णव] by sect, and as already stated a few of them belong to the Jain [जैन] religion. The social status of the Kalārs [कलार] is equivalent to that of the village menials, ranking below the good cultivating castes. Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] do not take water from their hands. But in Mandla [मन्द्ला], where the Kalārs [कलार] are important and prosperous, certain Sarwaria Brāhmans [सरवरिया ब्राह्मण] who were their household priests took water from them, thus recognising them as socially pure. This has led to a split among the local Sarwaria Brāhmans [सरवरिया ब्राह्मण], the families who did not take water from the Kalārs [कलार] refusing to intermarry with those who did so.

While the highest castes of Hindus eschew spirituous liquor the cultivating and middle classes are divided, some drinking it and others not ; and to the menial and labouring classes, and especially to the forest tribes, it is the principal luxury of their lives. Unfortunately they have not learnt to indulge in moderation and nearly always drink to excess if they have the means, while the intoxicating effect of even a moderate quantity is quickly perceptible in their behaviour.

In the Central Provinces the liquor drunk is nearly all distilled from the flowers of the mahua [महुआ] tree (Bassia latifolia [Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.]), though elsewhere it is often made from cane sugar. The smell of the fermented · mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] and the refuse water lying about make the village liquor-shop an unattractive place. But the trade has greatly profited the Kalārs [कलार] by the influence which it has given them over the lower classes.

“With the control of the liquor-supply in their hands,” Mr. Montgomerie writes, “ they also controlled the Gonds [गोंड], and have played a more important part in the past history of the Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा] District than their numbers would indicate.”

1 Settlement Report, p. 26.

The Kalār [कलार] and Teli [तेली] (oil-presser) are usually about on the same standing ; they are the creditors of the poorer tenants and labourers, as the Bania [बनिया] is of the landowners and substantial cultivators. These two of the village trades are not suited to the method of payment by annual contributions of grain, and must from an early period have been conducted by single transactions of barter. Hence the Kalār [कलार] and Teli [तेली] learnt to keep accounts and to appreciate the importance of the margin of profit. This knowledge and the system of dealing on credit with the exaction of interest have stood them in good stead and they have prospered at the expense of their fellow-villagers.  The Kalārs [कलार] have acquired substantial property in several Districts, especially in those mainly populated by Gonds [गोंड], as Mandla [मन्द्ला], Betūl [बैतूल] and Chhindwāra [छिंदवाड़ा]. In British Districts of the Central Provinces they own 750 villages, or about 4 per cent of the total. In former times when salt was highly taxed and expensive the Gonds [गोंड] had no salt. The Kalārs [कलार] imported rock-salt and sold it to the Gonds [गोंड] in large pieces. These were hung up in the Gond [गोंड] houses just as they are in stables, and after a meal every one would go up to the lump of salt and lick it as ponies do. When the Gonds [गोंड] began to wear cloth instead of leaves and beads the Kalārs [कलार] retailed them thin strips of cloth just sufficient for decency, and for the cloth and salt a large proportion of the Gond’s [गोंड] harvest went to the Kalār [कलार]. When a Gond [गोंड] has threshed his grain the Kalār [कलार] takes round liquor to the threshing-floor and receives a present of grain much in excess of its value. Thus the Gond [गोंड] has sold his birthright for a mess of pottage and the Kalār [कलार] has taken his heritage. Only a small proportion of the caste are still supported by the liquor traffic, and a third of the whole are agriculturists. Others have engaged in the timber trade, purchasing teak timber from the Gonds [गोंड] in exchange for liquor, a form of commerce which has naturally redounded to their great advantage. A few are educated and have risen to good positions in Government service. Sir D. Ibbetson describes them as ‘Notorious for enterprise, energy and obstinacy. Death may budge, but a Kalār [कलार] won’t.’ The Sikh [ਸਿੱਖੀ] Kalārs [कलार], who usually call themselves Ahluwālia [अहलूवालिया], contain many men who have attained to high positions under Government, especially as soldiers, and the general testimony is that they make brave soldiers.1 One of the ruling chiefs of the Punjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] belongs to this caste. Until quite recently the manufacture of liquor, except in the large towns, was conducted in small pot-stills, of which there was one for a circle of perhaps two dozen villages with subordinate shops. The right of manufacture and vend in each separate one of these stills was sold annually by auction at the District headquarters, and the Kalārs [कलार] assembled to bid for it. And here instances of their dogged perseverance could often be noticed ; when a man would bid up for a licence to a sum far in excess of the profits which he could hope to acquire from it, rather than allow himself to be deprived of a still which he desired to retain.

1 Mr. (Sir E.) Maclagan’s Punjab Census Report (1891).

5. Liquor held divine in Vedic times.

Though alcoholic liquor is now eschewed by the higher castes of Hindus and forbidden by their religion, this has by no means always been the case. In Vedic times the liquor known as Soma [सोम] was held in so much esteem by the Aryans that it was deified and worshipped as one of their principal gods. [...]

6. Subsequent prohibition of alcohol.

Though in the cold regions of Central Asia the cheering and warming liquor had been held divine, in the hot plains of India the evil effects of alcohol were apparently soon realised. [...] It seems clear, therefore, that the evil effects of drunkenness were early realised,and led to a religious prohibition of alcohol. Dr. Rajendra Lāl Mitra writes:1

1 Indo-Aryans, i. p. 393.

“But the fact remains unquestioned that from an early period the Hindus have denounced in their sacred writings the use of wine as sinful, and two of their greatest law-givers, Manu [मनु] and Yajnavalkya [याज्ञवल्क्य], held that the only expiation meet for a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] who had polluted himself by drinking spirit was suicide by a draught of spirit or water or cow’s urine or milk, in a boiling state taken in a burning hot metal pot. Angira [अङ्गिरस्], Vasishtha [वसिष्ठ] and Paithūrasi restricted the drink to boiling spirits alone. Dewala [देवल] went a step farther and prescribed a draught of molten silver, copper or lead as the most appropriate. . . . Manu [मनु] likewise provides for the judicial cognisance of such offences by Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], and ordains excommunication, and branding on the forehead the figure of a bottle as the most appropriate punishment.”

7. Spirits habitually drunk in अन्चिएन्त् तिमेस्.

Nevertheless the consumption of alcohol was common in classical times. Bharadwāja [भरद्वाज], a great sage, offered wine to Bhārata [भारत] and his soldiers when they spent a night under his ancient roof. When Sīta [सीता] crossed the Ganges [गंगा] on her way to the southern wilderness she begged the river for a safe passage, saying, “ ्Be merciful to me, O Goddess, and I shall on my return home worship thee with a thousand jars of arrack and dishes of well-dressed flesh meat.” When crossing the Jumna [जमुना] she said, “Be auspicious, O Goddess ; I am crossing thee. When my husband has accomplished his vow I shall worship thee with a thousand head of cattle and a hundred jars of arrack.” Similarly the companions of Krishna [कृष्ण], the Yādavas [यादव], destroyed each other when they were overcome by drink ; and many other instances are given by Dr. Rajendra Lāl Mitra. The Purānas [पुराण] abound in descriptions of wine and drinking, and though the object of many of them is to condemn the use of wine the inference is clear that there was a widespread malady which they proposed to overcome. Pulastya [पुलस्त्य], an ancient sage and author of one of the original Smritis [स्मृति], enumerates twelve different kinds of liquor, besides the Soma [सोम] beer which is not usually reckoned under the head of madya [मद्य] or wine, and his successors have added

largely to the list. The twelve principal liquors of this sage are those of the jack fruit, the grape, honey or mead, date-liquor, palm-liquor or toddy, sugarcane-liquor, mahua-liquor [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.], rum and those made from long-pepper, soap-berries and cocoanuts. All these drinks were not merely fermented, but distilled and flavoured with different kinds of spices, fruits and herbs ; they were thus varieties of spirits or liqueurs. It is probable that without the use of glass bottles and corks it would be very difficult to keep fermented wine for any length of time in the Indian climate. But spirits drunk neat as they were would produce more markedly evil results in a hot country, and would strengthen and accelerate the reaction against alcoholic liquor, which has gone so far that probably a substantial majority at least of the inhabitants of India are total abstainers. To this good result the adoption of Buddhism as stated by Dr. Mitra no doubt largely contributed. This was for some centuries the state religion, and was a strong force in aid of temperance as well as of abstention from flesh. The Sivite [शैव] revival reacted in favour of liquor drinking as well as of the consumption of drugs. But the prohibition of alcohol has again been a leading tenet of practically all the Vaishnava [वैष्णव] reforming sects.

8. Drunkenness and divine inspiration.

The intoxication of alcohol is considered by primitive people as a form of divine inspiration or possession like epileptic fits and insanity. This is apparently the explanation of the Vedic liquor, Soma [सोम], being deified as one of the greatest gods. In later Hindu mythology, Varuni [
वारुणी], the goddess of wine, was produced when the gods churned the ocean with the mountain Mandara [मन्दार] as a churning-stick on the back of the tortoise, Vishnu [विष्णु], and the serpent as a rope, for the purpose of restoring to man the comforts lost during the great flood. Varuni [वारुणी] was considered to be the consort of Varuna [वरुण], the Vedic Neptune.


At one time the arrack or rice-beer liquor was also considered by the Hindus as holy and purifying. Siva [शिव] says to his consort :    “Oh, sweet-speaking goddess, the salvation of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] depends on drinking wine. . . . No one becomes a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] by repeating the Gayatri [गायत्री], the mother of the Vedas ; he is called a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] only when he has knowledge of Brahma [ब्रह्मा]. The ambrosia of the gods is their Brahma [ब्रह्मा], and on earth it is arrack, and because one attains the character of a god (suratva [सुरत्व]) therefore is arrack called sura [सुरा]” . The Sākta [शाक्त] Tantras [तन्त्र] insist upon the use of wine as an element of devotion. The Kaulas, who are the most ardent followers of the Sākta [शाक्त] Tantras [तन्त्र], celebrate their rites at midnight in a closed room, when they sit in a circle round a jar of country arrack, one or more young women of a lewd character being in the company ; they drink, drink and drink until they fall down on the ground in utter helplessness, then rising again they drink in the hope of never having a second birth.

“I knew a highly respectable widow lady, connected with one of the most distinguished families in Calcutta [কলকাতা], who belonged to the Kaula sect [कौलाचार], and had survived the 75th anniversary of her birthday, who never said her prayers (and she did so regularly every morning and evening) without touching the point of her tongue with a tooth-pick dipped in a phial of arrack, and sprinkling a few drops of the liquor on the flowers which she offered to her god. I doubt very much if she had ever drunk a wine-glassful of arrack at once in all her life, and certain it is that she never had any idea of the pleasures of drinking ; but as a faithful Kaula [कौलाचार] she felt herself in duty bound to observe the mandates of her religion with the greatest scrupulousness.” 1

1 Indo-Aryans, pp. 405, 406.

In this case it seems clear that the liquor was considered to have a purifying effect, which was perhaps especially requisite for the offerings of a widow.

9. Sanctity of liquor among the Gonds [गोंड] and other castes.

Similarly the Gonds [गोंड] and Baigas [बैगा] revere the mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] tree and consider the liquor distilled from its flowers as sacred and purificatory. At a Gond [गोंड] wedding the sacred post round which the couple go is made of the wood of the mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] tree. The Bhatras of Bastar [बस्तर] also use the mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] for the wedding post, and the Sonkars of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] a forked branch of the tree. Minor caste offences are expiated among the Gonds [गोंड] by a fine of liquor, and by drinking it the culprit is purified. At a Gond [गोंड] funeral one man may be seen walking with a bottle or two of liquor slung to his side ; this is drunk by all the party on the spot after the burial or burning of the corpse as a means of purification. Among the Korwas [कोरवा] and other tribes the Baiga [बैगा] or priest protects the village from ghosts by sprinkling a line of liquor all round the boundary, over which the ghosts cannot pass. Similarly during epidemics of cholera liquor is largely used in the rites of the Baigas [बैगा] for averting the disease and is offered to the goddess. At their weddings the Mahārs [महार] drink together ceremoniously, a pot of liquor being placed on a folded cloth and all the guests sitting round it in a circle. An elder man then lays a new piece of cloth on the pot and worships it. He takes a cup of the liquor himself and hands round a cupful to every person present. At the Hareli [हरेली]or festival of the new green vegetation in July the Gonds [गोंड] take the branches of four kinds of trees and place them at the corners of their fields and also inside the house over the door. They pour ghī [घी] (butter) on the fire as incense and an offering to the deities. Then they go to the meeting-place of the village and there they all take a bottle or two of liquor each and drink together, having first thrown a little on the ground as an offering. Then they invite each other to their houses to take food. The Baigas [बैगा] do not observe Hareli [हरेली], but on any moonlight night in Shrāwan [श्रावण] (July) they will go to the field where they have sown grain and root up a few plants and bring them to the house, and, laying them on a clean place, pour ghī [घी] and a little liquor over them. Then they take the corn plants back to the field and replace them. For these rites and for offerings to the deities of disease the Gonds [गोंड] say that the liquor should be distilled at home by the person who offers the sacrifice and not purchased from the Government contractor. This is a reason or at any rate an excuse for the continuance of the practice of illicit distillation. Hindus generally make a libation to Devi [देवी] before drinking liquor. They pour a little into their hand and sprinkle it in a circle on the ground, invoking the goddess. The palm-tree is also held sacred on account of the tāri [tāḍī] or toddy obtained from it.

 “The shreds of the holy palm-tree, holy because liquor-yielding, are worn by some of the early Konkan tribes and by some of the Konkan village gods. The strip of palm-leaf is the origin of the shape of one of the favourite Hindu gold bracelet patterns.” 1

1 Bombay [मुंबई] Gazetteer, Poona, p. 549.

10. Drugs also considered divine.

The abstinence from liquor enjoined by modern Hinduism to the higher castes of Hindus has unfortunately not extended to the harmful drugs, opium, and gānja [गांजा] (Cannabis sativa) or Indian hemp with its preparations. On the contrary gānja [गांजा] is regularly consumed by Hindu ascetics, whether devotees of Siva [शिव] or Vishnu [विष्णु], though it is more favoured by the Sivite [शैव] Jogis [जोगी] [योगी]. The blue throat of Siva [शिव] or Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] is said to be due to the enormous draughts of bhāng [भांग] 3 which he was accustomed to swallow. The veneration attached to these drugs may probably be explained by the delusion that the pleasant dreams and visions obtained under their influence are excursions of the spirit into paradise. It is a common belief among primitive people that during sleep the soul leaves the body and that dreams are the actual experiences of the soul when travelling over the world apart from the body. The principal aim of Hindu asceticism is also the complete conquest of all sensation and movement in the body, so that while it is immobile the spirit freed from the trammels of the body and from all worldly cares and concerns may, as it is imagined, enter into communion with and be absorbed in the deity. Hence the physical inertia and abnormal mental exaltation produced by these drugs would be an ideal condition to the Hindu ascetic ; the body is lulled to immobility and it is natural that he should imagine that the delightful fantasies of his drugged brain are beatific visions of heaven. gānja [गांजा] and bhāng [भांग] are now considered sacred as being consumed by Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव], and are offered to him. Before smoking gānja [गांजा] a Hindu will say, ‘May it reach you, Shankar [शंकर],’ that is, the smoke of the gānja [गांजा], like the sweet savour of a sacrifice ; and before drinking bhāng [भांग] he will pour a little on the ground and say ‘ Jai Shankar [जय शंकर].’ Similarly when cholera visits a village and various articles of dress with food and liquor are offered to the cholera goddess, Marhai Māta [मरही माता], smokers of gānja [गांजा] and madak  [मदक] (A preparation of opium smoking) will offer a little of their drugs. Hindu ascetics who smoke gānja [गांजा] are accustomed to mix with it some seeds of the dhatura [धतूरा] (Datura alba [Datura metel]), which have a powerful stupefying effect. In large quantities these seeds are a common narcotic poison, being administered to travellers and others by criminals. This tree is sacred to Siva [शिव], and the purple and white flowers are offered on his altars, and probably for this reason it is often found growing in villages so that the poisonous seeds are readily available. Its sanctity apparently arises from the narcotic effects produced by the seeds.

The conclusion of hostilities and ratification of peace after a Bhīl [भील] fight was marked by the solemn administration of opium to all present by the Jogi [जोगी] or Gammaiti priests.4 [...]

4 T. H. Hendley, Account of the Bhīls, J.A.S.B. xliv., 1875, p. 360.

In India bhāng [भांग] was regularly drunk by the Rājpūts [राजपूत] before going into battle, to excite their courage and render them insensible to pain. The effects produced were probably held to be caused by divine agency. [...]

11. Opium and gānja [गांजा].

The sacred or divine character attributed to the Indian opium drugs in spite of their pernicious effects has thus probably prevented any organised effort for their prohibition. Buchanan notes that

“ No more blame follows the use of opium and gānja [गांजा] than in Europe that of wine ; yet smoking tobacco is considered impure by the highest castes.” 4

4 Eastern India, iii, p. 163.

It is said, however, that a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] should abstain from drugs until he is in the last or ascetic stage of life. In India opium is both eaten and smoked. It is administered to children almost from the time of their birth, partly perhaps because its effects are supposed to be beneficial and also to prevent them from crying and keep them quiet while their parents are at work. One of the favourite methods of killing female children was to place a fatal dose of opium on the nipple of the mother’s breast. Many children continue to receive small quantities of opium till they are several years old, sometimes eight or nine, when it is gradually abandoned. It can scarcely be doubted that the effect of the drug must be to impair their health and enfeeble their vitality. The effect of eating opium on adults is much less pernicious than when the habit of smoking it is acquired. Madak [मदक] or opium prepared for smoking may not now be sold, but people make it for themselves, heating the opium in a little brass cup over a fire with an infusion of tamarind leaves. It is then made into little balls and put into the pipe. Opium-smokers are gregarious and partake of the drug together. As the fumes mount to their brains, their intellects become enlivened, their tongues unloosed and the conversation ranges over all subjects in heaven and earth. This factitious excitement must no doubt be a powerful attraction to people whose lives are as dull as that of the average Hindu. And thus they become madakis [मदकी] or confirmed opium-smokers and are of no more use in life. Dhīmars [धीमर] or fishermen consume opium and gānja [गांजा] largely under the impression that these drugs prevent them from taking cold. gānja [गांजा] is smoked and is usually mixed with tobacco. It is much less injurious than opium in the same form, except when taken in large quantities, and is also slower in acquiring a complete hold over its votaries. Many cultivators buy a little gānja [गांजा] at the weekly bazar and have one pipeful each as a treat. Sweepers are greatly addicted to gānja [गांजा], and their patron saint Lālbeg [लालबेग] was frequently in a comatose condition from over-indulgence in the drug. Ahīrs [अहीर] or herdsmen also smoke it to while away the long days in the forests. But the habitual consumers of either kind of drug are now only a small fraction of the population, while English education and the more strenuous conditions of modern life have effected a substantial decline in their numbers, at least among the higher classes. At the same time a progressive increase is being effected by Government in the retail price of the drugs, and the number of vend licences has been very greatly reduced.

The prohibition of wine to Muhammadans is held to include drugs, but it is not known how far the rule is strictly observed. But addiction to drugs is at any rate uncommon among Muhammadans.

12. Tobacco.

No kind of sanctity attaches to tobacco and, as has been seen, certain classes of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] are forbidden to smoke though they may chew the leaves. Tobacco is prohibited by the Sikhs [ਸਿੱਖੀ], the Satnāmis [सतनामी] and some other Vaishnava [वैष्णव] sects. The explanation of this attitude is simple if, as is supposed, tobacco was first introduced into India by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century.1 In this case as a new and foreign product it could have no sacred character, only those things being held sacred and the gifts of the gods whose origin is lost in antiquity.

1 Sir G. Watt’s Commercial Products of India, s.v. Nicotiana.

In a note on the subject1 Mr. Ganpat Rai shows that several references to smoking and also to the huqqa [हुक़्क़ा] are found in ancient Sanskrit literature ; but it does not seem clear that the plant smoked was tobacco and, on the other hand, the similarity of the vernacular to the English name is strong evidence in favour of its foreign origin.

1 Ind. Ant., January 1911, p. 39.

13. Customs in connection with drinking.

The country liquor, consisting of spirits distilled from the flowers of the mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] tree, is an indispensable adjunct to marriage and other ceremonial feasts among the lower castes with of Hindus and the non-Aryan tribes. It is usually drunk before the meal out of brass vessels, cocoanut-shells or leaf-cups, water being afterwards taken with the food itself. If an offender has to give a penalty feast for readmission to caste but the whole burden of the expense is beyond his means, other persons who may have committed minor offences and owe something to the caste on that account are called upon to provide the liquor. Similarly at the funeral feast the heir and chief mourner may provide the food and more distant relatives the liquor. The Gonds [गोंड] never take food while drinking, and as a rule one man does not drink alone. Three or four of them go to the liquor-shop together and each in turn buys a whole bottle of liquor which they share with each other, each bottle being paid for by one of the company and not jointly. And if a friend from another village turns up and is invited to drink he is not allowed to pay anything. In towns there will be in the vicinity of the liquor-shop retailers of little roasted balls of meat on sticks and cakes of gram-flour fried in salt and chillies. These the customers eat, presumably to stimulate their thirst or as a palliative to the effects of the spirit. Illicit distillation is still habitual among the Gonds [गोंड] of Mandla [मन्द्ला], who have been accustomed to make their own liquor from time immemorial. In the rains, when travelling is difficult and the excise officers cannot descend on them without notice, they make the liquor in their houses. In the open season they go to the forest and find some spot secluded behind rocks and also near water. When the fermented mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] is ready they put up the distilling vat in the middle of the day so that the smoke may be less perceptible, and one of them will climb a tree and keep watch for the approach of the Excise Sub-Inspector and his myrmidons while the other distils."

[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. 3. -- S. 306 - 322]

Pāsi [पासी], Passi [पस्सी] (Central Provinces)

"Pāsi [पासी], Passi [पस्सी].1

1 Based principally on Mr. Crooke’s article on the caste in his Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh.

1. The nature and origin of the caste.

A Dravidian occupational caste of northern India, whose hereditary employment is the tapping of the palmyra, date and other palm trees for their sap. The name is derived from the Sanskrit pāshika [पाशिक], 'One who uses a noose,’ and the Hindi pās [पाश] or pāsa, a noose. It is a curious fact that when the first immigrant Parsis [پارسیان,] from Persia landed in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] they took to the occupation of tapping palm trees, and the poorer of them still follow it. The resemblance in the name, however, can presumably be nothing more than a coincidence. The total strength of the Pāsis [पासी] in India is about a million and a half persons, nearly all of whom belong to the United Provinces and Bihār [बिहार]. In the Central Provinces they number 3500, and reside principally in the Jubbulpore [जबलपुर] and Hoshangābād [होशंगाबाद] Districts. The caste is now largely occupational, and is connected with the Bhars, Arakhs [अरख], Khatīks [खटीक] [खटीक] and other Dravidian groups of low status. But in the past they seem to have been of some importance in Oudh [अवध].

 “All through Oudh [अवध],” Mr. Crooke states, “they have traditions that they were lords of the country, and that their kings reigned in the Districts of Kheri [खेरी], Hardoi [हरदोई] and Unao [उन्नाव]. Rāmkot [रामकोट], where the town of Bangarmau [बंगार्मौ] in Unao [उन्नाव] now stands, is said to have been one of their chief strongholds. The last of the Pāsi [पासी] lords of Rāmkot [रामकोट], Rāja [राजा] Santhar, threw off his allegiance to Kanauj [कन्नौज] and refused to pay tribute. On this Rāja [राजा] Jaichand [जयचन्द, 12. Jhdt.] gave his country to the Banāphar [बनाफर] heroes Alha [आल्हा] and Udal [ऊदल], and they attacked and destroyed Rāmkot [रामकोट], leaving it the shapeless mass of ruins which it now is.”

 Similar traditions prevail in other parts of Oudh [अवध]. It is also recorded that the Rājpāsis [राजपासी], the highest division of the caste, claim descent from Tilokchand [तिलोकचंद], the eponymous hero of the Bais Rājpūts [बैसराजपूत]. It would appear then that the Pāsis [पासी] were a Dravidian tribe who held a part of Oudh [अवध] before it was conquered by the Rājpūts [राजपूत]. As the designation of Pāsi [पासी] is an occupational term and is derived from the Sanskrit, it would seem that the tribe must formerly have had some other name, or they may be an occupational offshoot of the Bhars. In favour of this suggestion it may be noted that the Bhars also have strong traditions of their former dominance in Oudh [अवध]. Thus Sir C. Elliott states in his Chronicles of Unao1 that after the close of the heroic age, when Ajodhya [अयोध्या] was held by the Sūrajvansi Rājpūts [सूरजवंशी राजपूत] under the great Rāma [राम], we find after an interval of historic darkness that Ajodhya [अयोध्या] has been destroyed, the Sūrajvansis [सूरजवंशी] utterly banished, and a large extent of country is being ruled over by aborigines called Cheros in the far east, Bhars in the centre and Rājpāsis [राजपासी] in the west. Again, in Kheri [खेरी] the Pāsis [पासी] always claim kindred with the Bhars, and in Mīrzāpur [मिर्ज़ापुर] the local Pāsis [पासी] represent the Bhars as merely a subcaste of their own tribe, though this is denied by the Bhars themselves. It seems therefore a not improbable hypothesis that the Pāsis [पासी] and perhaps also the kindred tribe of Arakhs [अरख] are functional groups formed from the Bhar tribe. For a discussion of the early history of this important tribe the reader must be referred to Mr. Crooke’s excellent article.

2. Brāhmanical legends

The following tradition is related by the Pāsis [पासी] themselves in Mīrzāpur [मिर्ज़ापुर] and the Central Provinces : One day a man was going to kill a number of cows. Parasurāma [परशुराम] was at that time practising austerities in the jungles. Hearing the cries of the sacred animals he rushed to their assistance, but the cow-killer was aided by his friends. So Parasurāma [परशुराम] made five men out of kusha [कुश] grass and brought them to life by letting drops of his perspiration fall upon them. Hence arose the name Pāsi [पासी], from the Hindi pasīna [पसीना]sweat. The men thus created rescued the cows. Then they returned to Parasurāma [परशुराम] and asked him to provide them with a wife. Just at that moment a Kāyasth [कायस्थ] girl was passing by, and her Parasurāma [परशुराम] seized and made over to the Pāsis [पासी]. From them sprang the Kaithwās [कैथवास] subcaste. Another legend related by Mr. Crooke tells that during the time Parasurāma [परशुराम] was incarnate there was an austere devotee called Kuphal who was asked by Brahma [ब्रह्मा] to demand of him a boon, whereupon he requested that he might be perfected in the art of thieving. His request was granted, and there is a well-known verse regarding the devotions of Kuphal, the pith of which is that the mention of the name of Kuphal, who received a boon from Brahma [ब्रह्मा], removes all fear of thieves ; and the mention of his three wives—Māya [माया] (illusion), Nidra [निद्रा] (sleep), and Mohani [मोहनी] (enchantment)—deprives thieves of success in their attempts against the property of those who repeat these names. Kuphal is apparently the progenitor of the caste, and the legend is intended to show how the position of the Pāsis [पासी] in the Hindu cosmos or order of society according to the caste system has been divinely ordained and sanctioned, even to the recognition of theft as their hereditary pursuit.

3. Its mixed composition.

Whatever their origin may have been the composition of the caste is now of a very mixed nature. Several names of other castes, as Gūjar [गूजर], Guāl [
ग्वाल] or Ahīr [अहीर], Arakh [अरख], Khatīk [खटीक], Bahelia [बहेलिया], Bhīl [भील] and Bania [बनिया], are returned as divisions of the Pāsis [पासी] in the United Provinces. Like all migratory castes they are split into a number of small groups, whose constitution is probably not very definite. The principal subcastes in the Central Provinces are the Rājpāsis [राजपासी] or highest class, who probably were at one time landowners ; the Kaithwās [कैथवास] or Kaithmās [कैथमास], supposed to be descended from a Kāyasth [कायस्थ], as already related ; the Tirsulia, who take their name from the trisūla [त्रिशूल] or three-bladed knife used to pierce the stem of the palm tree ; the Bahelia [बहेलिया] or hunters, and Chiriyamār [चिड़ीमार] or fowlers ; the Ghudchadha or those who ride on ponies, these being probably saises or horse - keepers; the Khatīk [खटीक] or butchers and Gūjar [गूजर] or graziers ; and the Māngta [मांगता] or beggars, these being the bards and genealogists of the caste, who beg from their clients and take food from their hands ; they are looked down on by the other Pāsis [पासी].

4. Marriage and other customs.

In the Central Provinces the tribe have now no exogamous groups; they avoid marriage with blood relations as far back as their memory carries them. At their weddings customs, the couple walk round the srāwan or heavy log of wood, which is dragged over the fields before sowing to break up the larger clods of earth. In the absence of this an ordinary plough or harrow will serve as a substitute, though why the Basis should impart a distinctively agricultural implement into their marriage ceremony is not clear. Like the Gonds [गोंड], the Pāsis [पासी] celebrate their weddings at the bridegroom’s house and not at the bride’s. Before the wedding the bridegroom’s mother goes and sits over a well, taking with her seven Urad [उड़द - Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper] cakes and stalks of the plant. The bridegroom walks seven times round the well, and at each turn the parapet is marked with red and white clay and his mother throws one of the cakes and stalks into the well. Finally, the mother threatens to throw herself into the well, and the bridegroom begs her not to do so, promising that he will serve and support her. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are freely permitted. Conjugal morality is somewhat lax, and Mr. Crooke quotes a report from Pertābgarh to the effect that if a woman of a tribe become pregnant by a stranger and the child be born in the house of her father or husband, it will be accepted as a Pāsi [पासी] of pure blood and admitted to all tribal privileges. The bodies of adults may be buried or burnt as convenient, but those of children or of persons dying from smallpox, cholera or snake-bite are always buried. Mourning is observed during ten days for a man and nine days for a woman, while children who die unmarried are not mourned at all.

 5. Religion, superstitions and social customs.

The Pāsis [पासी] worship all the ordinary Hindu deities. All classes of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will officiate at their marriages and other ceremonies, and do anything for them which does not involve touching them or any article in their houses. In Bengal [বঙ্গ], Sir H. Risley writes, the employment of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for the performance of ceremonies appears to be a very-recent reform for, as a rule, in sacrifices and funeral ceremonies, the worshipper’s sister’s son performs the functions of a priest.

“Among the Pāsis [पासी] of Monghyr [मुंगेर] this ancient custom, which admits of being plausibly interpreted as a survival of female kinship, still prevails generally.”

The social status of the Pāsis [पासी] is low, but they are not regarded as impure. At their marriage festivals, Mr. Gayer notes, boys are dressed up as girls and made to dance in public, but they do not use drums or other musical instruments. They breed pigs and cure the bacon obtained from them. Marriage questions are decided by the tribal council, which is presided over by a chairman (Chaudhri [चौधरी]) selected at each meeting from among the most influential adult males present. The council deals especially with cases of immorality and pollution caused by journeys across the black water (kala pani [काला पानी]), which the criminal pursuits of the tribe occasionally necessitate.

6. Occupation.

The traditional occupation of the Pāsis [पासी], as already stated, is the extraction of the sap of palm trees. But some of them are hunters and fowlers like the Pārdhis [पारधी], and like them also they make and mend grindstones, while others are agriculturists ; and the caste has also strong criminal propensities, and includes a number of professional thieves. Some are employed in the Nāgpur [नागपूर] mills and others have taken small building contracts. Pāsis [पासी] are generally illiterate and in poor circumstances, and are much addicted to drink. In climbing1 palm trees to tap them for their juice the worker uses a heel-rope, by which his feet are tied closely together. At the same time he has a stout rope passing round the tree and his body. He leans back against this rope and presses the soles of his feet, thus tied together, against the tree. He then climbs up the tree by a series of hitches or jerks of his back and feet alternately. The juice of the palmyra palm (tār [
ताड़]) and the date palm (khajūr) is extracted by the Pāsi [पासी]. The tār [ताड़ ] trees, Sir H. Risley states,are tapped from March to May, and the date palm in the cold season. The juice of the former, known as tāri [ताडी] or toddy, is used in the manufacture of bread, and an intoxicating liquor is obtained from it by adding sugar and grains of rice. Hindustāni [हिंदुस्तानी / ہندوستانی] drunkards often mix dhatūra [धतूरा] with the toddy to increase its intoxicating properties. The quantity of juice extracted from one tree varies from five to ten pounds. Date palm tāri [ताडी] is less commonly drunk, being popularly believed to cause rheumatism, but is extensively used in preparing sugar.

1 These sentences are taken from Dr. Grierson’s Peasant Life in Behar, I. 79.
Tribes and Castes of Bengal,
art. Pāsi.

7. Criminal tendencies.

Eighty years ago, when General Sleeman wrote, the Pāsis [पासी] were noted thieves. In his Journey through Oudh  he states that in Oudh [अवध] there were then supposed to be one hundred thousand families of Pāsis [पासी], who were skilful thieves and robbers by profession, and were formerly Thugs and poisoners as well. They generally formed the worst part of the gangs maintained by refractory landowners,

“who keep Pāsis [पासी] to fight for them, as they pay themselves out of the plunder and cost little to their employers. They are all armed with bows and are very formidable at night. They and their refractory employés keep the country in a perpetual state of disorder.”

Mr. Gayer notes2 that the criminally disposed members of the caste take contracts for the watch and sale of mangoes in groves distant from habitations, so that their movements will not be seen by prying eyes. They also seek employment as roof-thatchers, in which capacity they are enabled to ascertain which houses contain articles worth stealing. They show considerable cunning in disposing of their stolen property. The men will go openly in the daytime to the receiver and acquaint him with the fact that they have property to dispose of ; the receiver goes to the bazār, and the women come to him with grass for sale. They sell the grass to the receiver, and then accompany him home with it and the stolen property, which is artfully concealed in it.

2 Lectures on Criminal Tribes ofthe Central Provinces."

[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. 380 - 385]

Segidi (Telugu)

Segidi.The Segidis are a Telugu [తెలుగు] caste of toddy sellers and distillers of arrack, who are found mainly in Ganjam [ଗଞ୍ଜାମ] and Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం].

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 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 [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] (Lectures on Tinnevelly Missions, 1857)  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 Della Valle [1586 - 1652] records (Viaggi, 1614-26)  that he stayed on board till nightfall,

“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 [John Fryer, ca. 1650 - 1733] (A New Account of East India and Persia, 1698) describes the Natives as

“singing 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 department 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 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 bow 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 Yātas and Gamallas.

They have a caste headman, called Kulampedda, who settles disputes with the assistance of a council. Like other Telugu [తెలుగు] castes, they have intipērulu or house names, which are strictly exogamous. Girls are married either before or after puberty. The custom of mēnarikam [మేనరికం] is practiced, in accordance with which a man marries his maternal aunt’s daughter. A Brāhman officiates at marriages, except the remarriage of widows. When a widow is remarried, the caste-men assemble, and the Kulampedda ties the sathamānam (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 Sātāni [సాతాని] conducts the funeral ceremonies.

The Segidis worship various village deities, and pērantālammas, 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 [അണ]."

[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. 348ff.]

Shānān [ சாணார்] (Tamil)

"Shānān [ சாணார்].The great toddy-drawing caste of the Tamil [தமிழ்] country, which, a few years ago, came into special prominence owing to the Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] riots in 1899. 

“These were,” the Inspector-General of Police writes (Administration Report, 1899), “ due to the pretensions of the Shānāns [ சாணார்] 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 Visvanathēswara [விஸ்வநாதர்] temple at Sivakāsi [சிவகாசி] decided to close it. This partial victory of the Shānāns [ சாணார்] was keenly resented by their opponents, of whom the most active were the Maravans [மறவர்]. Organised attacks were made on a number of the Shānān [ சாணார்] villages; the inhabitants were assailed; houses were burnt; and property was looted. The most serious occurrence was the attack on Sivakāsi [சிவகாசி] by a body of over five thousand Maravans [மறவர்]. Twenty-three murders, 102 dacoities, and many cases of arson were registered in connection with the riots in Sivakāsi [சிவகாசி], 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 [மதராஸ்], and made a clever attempt to prove an alibi by signing his name in the Museum visitor’s book. During the disturbance some of the Shānāns [ சாணார்] 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 [திருநெல்வேலி] riots was, the Census Superintendent, 1901, writes,

“the claim of the Shānāns [ சாணார்] to enter the Hindu temples, in spite of the rules in the Agama Shāstras [ஆகமம் சாஸ்திரத்தின்] that toddy-drawers are not to be allowed into them ; but the pretensions of the community date back from 1858, when a riot occurred in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], 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. [Gordon Thomson] Mackenzie informs us (Christianity in Travancore, 1901) 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 [1807 – 1886], Governor of Madras [மதராஸ்], 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 Mahārāja of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] :—

'We hereby proclaim that there is no objection to Shānān [ சாணார்] women either putting on a jacket like the Christian Shānān [ சாணார்] women, or to Shānān [ சாணார்] women of all creeds dressing in coarse cloth, and tying themselves 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 [சத்திரியர்]. In 1874 they endeavoured to establish a right to enter the great Mīnākshi [மீனாட்சி] temple at Madura [மதுரை], 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 Chēra [சேரர்], Chōla [சோழர்] and Pāndya [பாண்டியர்] kings ; they have styled themselves Kshatriyas [சத்திரியர்] in legal papers; labelled their schools Kshatriya [சத்திரியர்] academy ; got Brāhmans of the less particular kind to do purōhit’s [புரோகிதர்] work for them ; had poems composed on their kingly origin; gone through a sort of incomplete parody of the ceremony of investiture with the sacred thread ; talked much but ignorantly of their gōtras [கோத்திரம்] ; and induced needy persons to sign documents agreeing to carry them in palanquins on festive occasions.”

[During my stay at Nazareth [நாசரெத்] in Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], for the purpose of taking measurements of the Shānāns [ சாணார்], 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 Shānāns' [சாணார்] cash were struck by sovereign ancestors of the caste. The author of a pamphlet entitled ‘Bishop Caldwell and the Tinnevelly Shānārs’ states that he had met with men of all castes who say that they have seen the true Shānār [சாணார்] coin with their own eyes, and that a Eurasian gentleman from Bangalore [ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು]  testified to his having seen a true Shānār [சாணார்] coin at Bangalore [ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು] 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 (Madras Museum Bull., III, 3, 1901)), “ one asks the ordinary Malayāli [മലയാളി] (native of Malabar [മലബാര്‍]) what persons are represented on the sequin, one gets for answer that they are Rāma [രാമൻ] and Sīta [സീത]: between them a cocoanut tree. Every Malayāli [മലയാളി] knows what an Āmāda is ; it is a real or imitation Venetian sequin. I have never heard any explanation of the word Āmāda in Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. The following comes from Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி]. Āmāda was the consort of Bhagavati [பகவதி], and he suddenly appeared one day before a Shānār [சாணார்], and demanded food. The Shānār [சாணார்] said he was a poor man with nothing to offer but toddy, which he gave in a palmyra leaf. Āmāda drank the toddy, and performing a mantram [மந்திரம்] (consecrated formula) over the leaf, it turned into gold coins, which bore on one side the pictures of Āmāda, the Shānār [சாணார்], and the tree, and these he gave to the Shānār [சாணார்] as a reward for his willingness to assist him.”

In a petition to myself from certain Shānāns [ சாணார்] of Nazareth [நாசரெத்], signed by a very large number of the community, and bearing the title “ Short account of the Cantras or Tamil Xātrās, 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 Pāndya [பாண்டியர்]  or Dravida Xatra race, who, shortly after the universal deluge of Noah [נח], first disafforested and colonized this land of South India under the guidance of Agastya [அகத்தியர்] Muni. The whole world was destroyed by flood about B.C. 3100 (Dr. Hale’s [Matthew Hale, 1609 - 1676] calculation), when Noah [נח], otherwise called Vaivasvata-manu [வைவசுவதம் மனு] or Satyavrata, was saved with his family of seven persons in an ark or covered ship, which rested upon the highest mountain of the Āryāvarta [ஆரியவர்த்தம்] country. Hence the whole earth was rapidly replenished by his descendants. One of his grandsons (nine great Prajāpatis [பிரஜாபதி]) was Atri [அத்திரி], whose son Candra [சந்திர] was the ancestor of the noblest class of the Xatras ranked above the Brāhmans, and the first illustrious monarch of the post-diluvian world.”

“Apparently,” the Census Superintendent continues, “judging from the Shānān’s [ சாணார்] own published statements of their case, they rest their claims chiefly upon etymological derivations of their caste name Shānān [ சாணார்], and of Nādān and Grāmani [கிராமணி], 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. Brāhmans, for example, appear to have borne the titles of Pillai [பிள்ளை] and Mudali [முதலியார்], which are now only used by Sūdras [சூத்திரர்], and the Nāyak [நாயக்கர்] kings, on the other hand, called themselves Aiyar [அய்யர்], which is now exclusively the title of Saivite Brāhmans. To this day the cultivating Vellālas [வேளாளர்], the weaving Kaikōlars, and the semi-civilised hill tribe of the Jātapus use equally the title of Mudali [முதலியார் / మొదలియార్], and the Balijas [బలిజ] and Telagas call themselves Rao [రావు], which is properly the title of Mahrātta [मराठा] Brāhmans. Regarding the derivation of the words Shānān [ சாணார்], Nādān and Grāmani [கிராமணி], much ingenuity has been exercised. Shānān [ சாணார்] is not found in the earlier Tamil [தமிழ்] literature at all. In the inscriptions of Rājarāja Chōla [ராஜராஜ சோழன்] (A.D. 984-1013) toddy-drawers are referred to as Īluvans [ഈഴവർ]. According to Pingalandai, a dictionary of the 10th or 11th century, the names of the toddy-drawer castes are Palaiyar, Tuvasar, and Paduvar. To these the Chūdāmani Nikandu, a Tamil [தமிழ்] dictionary of the 16th century, adds Saundigar. Apparently, therefore, the Sanskrit word Saundigar must have been introduced (probably by the Brāhmans) between the 11th and 16th centuries, and is a Sanskrit rendering of the word Īluvan. From Saundigar to Shānān [ சாணார்] is not a long step in the corruption of words. The Shānāns [ சாணார்] say that Shānān [ சாணார்] is derived from the Tamil [தமிழ்] word Sanrar or Sanror, which means the learned or the noble. But it does not appear that the Shānāns [ சாணார்] were ever called Sānrār or Sānrōr in any of the Tamil [தமிழ்] works. The two words Nādān and Grāmani [கிராமணி] mean the same thing, namely, ruler of a country or of a village, the former being a Tamil [தமிழ்], and the latter a Sanskrit word. Nādān, on the other hand, means a man who lives in the country, as opposed to Ūrān, the man who resides in a village. The title of the caste is Nādān, and it seems most probable that it refers to the fact that the Īluvan ancestors of the caste lived outside the villages. (South Indian Inscriptions, vol. II, part i.) But, even if Nādān and Grāmani [கிராமணி] both mean rulers, it does not give those who bear these titles any claim to be Kshatriyas [சத்திரியர்]. If it did, all the descendants of the many South Indian Poligars [பாளையக்காரர்கள்], or petty chiefs, would be Kshatriyas [சத்திரியர்].”

The Census Superintendent, 1891, states that the

“Shānāns [ சாணார்] are in social position usually placed only a little above the Pallas [மள்ளர்] and the Paraiyans [பறையர்], and are considered to be one of the polluting castes, but of late many of them have put forward a claim to be considered Kshatriyas [சத்திரியர்], and at least 24,000 of them appear as Kshatriyas [சத்திரியர்] in the caste tables. This is, of course, absurd, as there is no such thing as a Dravidian Kshatriya. But it is by no means certain that the Shānāns [ சாணார்] 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 [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] (bowmen), Halēpaik [ಹಳೆಪೈಕ] (old foot soldiers), Kumārapaik (junior foot). Even the Kadamba [ಕದಂಬ] kings of Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] 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.' (Rice. Mysore Inscriptions, p. 33)

The word Shānān [ சாணார்] is ordinarily derived from Tamil sāru [சாறு], meaning toddy ; but a learned missionary derives it from sān [சாண்] (a span) and nār [நார்] (fibre or string), that is the noose, one span in length, used by the Shānāns [ சாணார்] in climbing palm-trees.”

The latter derivation is also given by Vellālas [வேளாளர்].

It is worthy of note that the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], or Malabar [മലബാര്‍] toddy-drawers, address one another, and are addressed by the lower classes as Shener, which is probably another form of Shānār [சாணார்]. (Madras Census Report, 1901)

The whole story of the claims and pretensions of the Shānāns [ சாணார்] is set out at length in the judgment in the Kamudi [கமுதி] temple case (1898) which was heard on appeal before the High Court of Madras [மதராஸ்]. And I may appropriately quote from the judgment.

“There is no sort of proof, nothing, we may say, that even suggests a probability that the Shānārs [சாணார்] are descendants from the Kshatriya [சத்திரியர்] or warrior castes of Hindus, or from the Pāndiya [பாண்டியர்], Chōla [சோழர்] or Chēra [சேரர்] race of kings. Nor is there any distinction to be drawn between the Nādars and the Shānārs [சாணார்]. Shānār [சாணார்] is the general name of the caste, just as Vellāla [வேளாளர்] and Maravar [மறவர்] designate castes. ‘Nādar’ is a mere title, more or less honorific, assumed by certain members or families of the caste, just as Brāhmins are called Aiyars [ஐயர்‍], Aiyangars [ஐயங்கார்], and Raos [ராவ்]. All ‘Nādars’ are Shānārs [சாணார்] by caste, unless indeed they have abandoned caste, as many of them have by becoming Christians. The Shānārs [சாணார்] 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 estimation appears to have been just above that of Pallas [மள்ளர்], Pariahs  [பறையர்], and Chucklies (Chakkiliyans), who are on all hands regarded as unclean, and prohibited from the use of the Hindu temples, and below that of Vellālas [வேளாளர்], Maravans [மறவர்], and other classes admittedly free to worship in the Hindu temples. In process of time, many of the Shānārs [சாணார்] took to cultivating, trade, and money-lending, and to-day there is a numerous and prosperous body of Shānārs [சாணார்], 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  [ஆகமம் சாஸ்திரத்தின்] which are received as authoritative by worshippers of Siva [சிவன்] in the Madura [மதுரை] district, entry into a temple, where the ritual prescribed by these Shāstras is observed, is prohibited to all those whose profession is the manufacture of intoxicating liquor, and the climbing 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 Shānārs [சாணார்] have abandoned their hereditary occupation, and have won for themselves by education, 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 Shānārs [சாணார்] must not invade the established rights of other castes. They have temples of their own, and are numerous 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 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 Shānāns [ சாணார்], the Rev. J. Sharrock writes (Madras Mail, 1901) 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 [மறவர்] 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 resulting 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 [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] remarks (Ind. Ant., IV, 1875) that

“the great majority of the Shānārs [சாணார்] 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 [குடுமி]—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 Shānārs [சாணார்] have adopted the kudumi [குடுமி] together with Christianity.”

By Regulation XI, 1816, 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 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 Shānārs [சாணார்] belong to the lower classes, who may be punished by confinement in the stocks.

With the physique of the Shānāns [ சாணார்], whom I examined at Nazareth [நாசரெத்] and Sawyerpuram [சாயர்புரம்] in Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], 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.
  • Falconry.

One of the good qualities of Sir Thomas Munro [1761 – 1827], formerly Governor of Madras [மதராஸ்], was that, like Rāma and Rob Roy [Roman von Walter Scott, 1817], his arms reached to his knees, or, in other words, he possessed the kingly quality of an Ājānubāhu, 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 Shānān [ சாணார்], whose height was 173 cm. and span of the arms 194 cm. (+ 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 Shānāns [ சாணார்], I would refer the reader to the Rev. R. (afterwards Bishop) Caldwell's [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] now scarce ‘Tinnevelly Shānāns’ (1849), written when he was a young and impulsive missionary, and the publication of which I believe that the learned and kind-hearted divine lived to regret.

Those Shānāns [சாணார்] 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 Shānān [சாணார்]. 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 [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] 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. Woodpeckers are called Shānāra kurivi [சாணார குருவி] by birdcatchers, because they climb trees like Shānārs [சாணார்].

“The Hindus,” the Rev. (afterwards Canon) A. Margöschis [Arthur Margöschis, 1852 - 1908] writes (Christianity and Caste, 1893), “observe a special day at the commencement of the palmyra season, when the jaggery season begins. Bishop Caldwell [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] adopted the custom, and a solemn service in church was held, when one set of all the implements 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 (Journ. Roy. As. Soc, XVI) on the Pariah [പറയർ] caste in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the Rev. S. Mateer narrates a legend that the Shānāns [ சாணார்] are descended from Adi, the daughter of a Pariah [பறையர்] woman at Karuvur [கரூர்], 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 [மதுரை] district, that Shānān [ சாணார்] toddy-drawers

“employ Pallans [மள்ளர்], Paraiyans [பறையர்], and other low castes to help them transport the liquor, but Musalmans and Brāhmans 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 (Madras Mail, 1907), it has been stated that 

“L.M.S. [London Missionary Society] Shānār [சாணார்] Christians have, in many cases, given up tapping the palmyra palm for jaggery and toddy as a profession beneath them; and their example is spreading, 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 [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]) into Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] 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 [திருநெல்வேலி], I came across a troop of stalwart Shānān [ சாணார்] men and boys, marching out towards sunset, to guard the ripening chōlum 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 Shānāns [சாணார்] have a great objection to being called either Shānān [ சாணார்] or Maramēri (tree-climber), and much prefer Nādān.

By the Shānāns [ சாணார்] of Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], 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 Shānāns [ சாணார்] are said to have assumed the name of Karukku-mattai Vellālas [வேளாளர்].
  2. Kalla. Said to be the original servants of the Karukku-pattayar, doing menial work in their houses, and serving as palanquin-bearers.
  3. Nattāti. Settled at the village of Nattāti near Sawyerpuram [சாயர்புரம்].
  4. Kodikkāl. Derived from kodi [கொடி], a flag. Standard-bearers of the fighting men. According to another version, the word means a betel garden, in reference to those who were betel cultivators.
  5. Mēl-nātar (mēl [மேல்], west). Those who live in the western part of Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] and in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്].

At the census, 1891, Konga [கொங்க] (territorial) and Madurai [மதுரை] were returned as sub-divisions. The latter apparently receives its name, not from the town of Madura [மதுரை], but from a word meaning sweet juice. At the census, 1901, Tollakkādan (man with a big hole in his ears) was taken as being a sub-caste of Shānān [ சாணார்], as the people who returned it, and sell husked rice in Madras [மதராஸ்], used the title Nādān. Madura [மதுரை] and Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] are eminently the homes of dilated ear-lobes. Some Tamil [தமிழ்] traders in these two districts, who returned themselves as Pāndyan [பாண்டியர்], were classified as Shānāns [ சாணார்], as Nādān was entered as their title. In Coimbatore [கோயம்புத்தூர], some Shānāns [ சாணார்], engaged as shop-keepers, have been known to adopt the name of Chetti [செட்டியார்]. In Coimbatore [கோயம்புத்தூர], too, the title Mūppan occurs. This title, meaning headman or elder, is also used by the Ambalakāran, Sudarmān, Sēnaikkudaiyān, and other castes. In the Tanjore Manual, the Shānāns [ சாணார்] are divided into Tennam, Panam, and Ichcham, according as they tap the cocoa-nut, palmyra, or wild date (Phoenix sylvestris). The name Enadi [ஏனாதி] for Shānāns [ சாணார்] is derived from Enādi Nayanar [ஏனாதி நாயனார்], a Saivite saint. But it also means a barber.

The community has, among its members, landowners, and graduates in theology, law, medicine, and the arts. Nine-tenths of the Native clergy in Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] are said to be converted Shānāns [ சாணார்], and Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] claims Native missionaries working in Madagascar, Natal, Mauritius, and the Straits. The occupations of those whom I saw at Nazareth [நாசரெத்] were merchant, cultivator, teacher, village munsif, organist, cart-driver, and cooly.

The Shānāns [ சாணார்] have established a school, called Kshatriya Vidyasala, at Virudupati [விருதுநகர்] in Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி]. This is a free school, for attendance at which no fee is levied on the pupils, for the benefit of the Shānān [ சாணார்] community, but boys of other castes are freely admitted to it. It is maintained by Shānāns [ சாணார்] from their mahimai [மகிமை] fund, and the teachers are Brāhmans, Shānāns [ சாணார்], etc. The word mahimai [மகிமை] means greatness, glory, or respectability."

[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. 363 - 378.]

Sondi (Oriya)

Sondi.The Sondis or Sundis [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] are summed up in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as

“ Oriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] toddyselling 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 exudation of sap drawn from the date-palm ; secondly, any strong drink, distilled spirit, etc.” (Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson)

A corruption of the word is rack, which occurs, eg., in rack punch.

According to a Sanskrit work, entitled Parāsarapaddati, 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 Purāna, the Soundikas are said to have been born to Siva of seven Apsara women on the bank of the river Son [सोन]. Manu refers to the Soundikas, and says that a Snātaka 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.

In a note on the allied Sunris [শুঁড়ি] or Sundis [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] of Bengal, Mr. Risley writes (Tribes and Castes of Bengal) that

“according to Hindu ideas, distillers and sellers of strong drink rank among the most degraded castes, and a curious story in the Vaivarta Purāna keeps alive the memory of their degradation. It is said that when Sani [শনি], the Hindu Saturn, failed to adapt an elephant’s head to the mutilated trunk of Ganēsa [গণেশ], who had been accidently beheaded by Siva [শিব], Viswakarma [বিশ্ৱকর্ম], the celestial artificer, was sent for, and by careful dissection and manipulation he fitted the incongruous parts together, and made a man called Kedāra Sena from the slices cut off in fashioning his work. This Kedāra Sena was ordered to fetch a drink of water for Bhagavati [ভগৱতী], 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  [ভগৱতী], 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 Bhāskar [ভাস্কর] or Bhāskar Muni [ভাস্কর মুনি], who was created by Krishna’s [কৠষ্ণ] brother, Balarām [বলরাম], to minister to his desire for strong drink. A different version of the same legend gives them for ancestor Niranjan [নিরংজন], a boy found by Bhāskar [ভাস্কর] 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 [విశాఖపట్నం], I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. According to a current tradition, there was, in days of old, a Brāhman, who was celebrated for his magical powers. The king, his patron, asked him if he could make the 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 Brāhman 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 Brāhman 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 kūla, and
  • Sanno kūla.

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 robusta) or neredu (Eugenia Jambolana [Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels]) 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 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 [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] Brāhman. They then sit down, and the sacred fire is raised. The females belonging to the bridegroom’s party sprinkle them with turmeric and rice. On the following day, a Bhondāri [ଭଣ୍ଡାରୀ] (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 Brāhmans, 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 (hōmam [ହୋମ]) is raised by a Brāhman. As at a wedding, twelve Brāhmans receive food and money. Towards midnight, a new pot is brought, and holes are bored in it. A lighted damp 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 Brāhman woman.

Among the Sondis of Ganjam [ଗଞ୍ଜାମ], 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 ceremonies commence with the worship of Ganēsa [ଗଣେଶ], and agree in the main with those of many other Oriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] 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 [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] 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 completely successful, as the recent census shows a great reduction in the numbers of these Sundis [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ], 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 glebae, and the Sundis [ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] become the landlords.”

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] district, that

“besides ippa (liquor distilled from the blossom of Bassia latifolia [Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.]), the hill people brew beer from rice, sāmai (the millet Panicum miliare [Panicum sumatrense Roth ex Roem. & Schult.]), and rāgi (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 sāraiya-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. (A very complicated recipe is given in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, 1869, p. 264)  It is sold made up into small balls with rice. The actual shop-keepers and still-owners in the hills, especially in the Parvatipur [ପାର୍ବତୀପୁର] and Palkonda [పాలకొండ] 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.

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 gōtis 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 (moneylender) claimed the services of his son, and he too died in bondage, leaving two small sons aged 13 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 gōti 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 Ghāsis, who are one of the lowest of all castes, and contact with whom is utter defilement 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 [ଜୟପୁର] hills, and shot a tiger. He asked his shikāri (tracker) what reward he should give him for putting him on to the beast. The shikāri 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 food.

It is further recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] 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 [ଗଞ୍ଜାମ] Sondis are

  • Behara,
  • Chowdri,
  • Podhano, and
  • Sahu.

In the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] agency tracts, their title is said to be Bissoyi."

[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. 394 - 401.]

Sundi [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ], Sundhi, Sunri [सुंरी] or Sondhi (Oriya, Bengali, Central Provinces)

"Sundi [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ], Sundhi, Sunri [सुंरी] or Sondhi.1

1 This article is compiled from a paper by Mr. D. Mitra, pleader, Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର].

The liquor-distilling caste of the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] country. The transfer of Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] and the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] States to Bihār [बिहार] and Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା] has reduced their strength in the Central Provinces to about 5000, found in the Raipur[रायपुर] District and the Bastar [बस्तर] and Chota Nāgpur [छोटा नागपुर] Feudatory States. The caste is an important one in Bengal [বঙ্গ], numbering more than six lakhs of persons and being found in western Bengal [বঙ্গ] and Bihār [बिहार] as well as in Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା]. The word Sundi [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] is derived from the Sanskrit Shaundik [शौण्डिक], a spirit-seller. The caste has various genealogies of differing degrees of respectability, tracing their origin to cross unions between other castes born of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण],  Kshatriyas [क्षत्रिय], and Vaishyas [वैश्य]. The following story is told of them in Madras [மதராஸ்].2 In ancient times a certain Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] was famous for his magical attainments. The king of the country sent for him one day and asked him to cause the water in a tank to burn. The Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] saw no way of doing this, and returned homewards uneasy in his mind. On the way he met a distiller who asked him to explain what troubled him. When the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] told his story the distiller promised to cause the water to burn on condition that the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] gave him his daughter in marriage. This the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] agreed to do, and the distiller, after surreptitiously pouring large quantities of liquor into the tank, set fire to it in the presence of the king. In accordance with the agreement he married the daughter of the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] and the pair became the ancestors of the Sundi [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] caste. In confirmation of the story it is alleged that up to the present day the women of the caste maintain the recollection of their Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] ancestors by refusing to eat fowls or the remains of their husbands’ meals. Nor will they take food from the hands of any other caste.

 2 MadrasCensus Report, 1891, p. 301.

Sir H. Risley relates the following stories current about the caste in Bengal [বঙ্গ], where its status is very low:

“According to Hindu ideas, distillers and sellers of strong drink rank among the most degraded castes, and a curious story in the Vaivarta Purāna [ब्रह्मवैवर्तपुराण] keeps alive the memory of their degradation. It is said that when Sani [शनि], the Hindu Saturn, failed to adapt an elephant’s head to the mutilated trunk of Ganesh [गणेश] who had been accidentally slain by Siva [शिव], Viswakarma [विश्वकर्मा], the celestial artificer, was sent for, and by careful dissection and manipulation he fitted the incongruous parts together, and made a man called Kedāra Sena [केदारसेन] from the slices cut off in fashioning his work. This Kedāra Sena [केदारसेन] was ordered to fetch a drink of water for Bhagavati [भगवती], 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 [भगवती], 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 liquors for mankind.”

Like other castes in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] the Sundis [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] have two subcastes, the Jhārua and the Utkal [ଉତ୍କଳ] or Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ], of whom the Jhāruas probably immigrated from Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା] at an earlier period and adopted some of the customs of the indigenous tribes ; for this reason they are looked down on by the more orthodox Utkalis [ଉତ୍କଳ]. The caste say that they belong to the Nāgas [ନାଗ] or snake gotra [ଗୋତ୍ର], because they consider themselves to be descended from Basuki [ଵାସୁକି], the serpent with a thousand heads who formed a canopy for Vishnu [ଵିଷ୍ଣୁ]. They also have bargas or family titles, but these at present exercise no influence on marriage. The Sundis [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] have in fact outgrown the system of exogamy and regulate their marriages by a table of prohibited degrees in the ordinary manner, the unions of sapindas [ସପିଣ୍ଡ] or persons who observe mourning together at a death being prohibited. The prohibition does not extend to cognatic relationship, but a man must not marry into the family of his paternal aunt. The fact that the old bargas or exogamous groups are still in existence is interesting, and an intermediate step in the process of their abandonment may be recognised in the fact that some of them are subdivided. Thus the Sāhu [ସାହୁ] (lord) group has split into the Gaj Sāhu [ଗଜ ସାହୁ] (lord of the elephant), Dhavila Sāhu  (white lord), and Amila Sāhu  sub-groups, and it need not be doubted that this was a convenient method adopted for splitting up the Sāhu [ସାହୁ] group when it became so large as to include persons so distantly connected with each other that the prohibition of marriage between them was obviously ridiculous. As the number of Sundis [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] in the Central Provinces is now insignificant no detailed description of their customs need be given, but one or two interesting points may be noted. Their method of observing the Pitripaksh [पितृ पक्ष] or worship of ancestors is as follows : A human figure is made of kusha [कुश] grass and placed under a miniature straw hut. A lamp is kept burning before it for ten days, and every day a twig for cleaning the teeth is placed before it, and it is supplied with fried rice in the morning and rice, pulse and vegetables in the evening. On the tenth day the priest comes, and after bathing the figure seven times, places boiled rice before it for the last meal, and then sets fire to the hut and burns it, while repeating sacred verses. On the eleventh day after a death, when presents for the use of the deceased are made to a priest as his representative, the priest lies down in the new bed which is given to him, and the members of the family rub his feet and attend on him as if he were the dead man. He is also given a present sufficient to purchase food for him for a year. The Sundis [सुंडी / ସୁଣ୍ଡୀ] worship Surādevi [सुरादेवी] or the goddess of wine, whom they consider as their mother, and they refuse to drink liquor, saying that this would be to enjoy their own mother. They worship the still and all articles used in distillation at the rice-harvest and when the new mango crop appears. Large numbers of them have taken to cultivation."

[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. 534ff.]

Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] (Malayalam)

Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]

Tīyan [ടിയാൻ]. —The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], and Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] or Īluvans [ഈഴവർ], are the Malayalam [മലയാളം] toddy-drawing castes of Malabar [മലബാര്‍], Cochin [കൊച്ചി], and Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]. The following note, except where otherwise indicated, is taken from an account of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] by Mr. F. Fawcett.

The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] number, according to the census returns, 512,063, or 19,3 per cent, of the total population. The corresponding figures for the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] are 101,638, or 3‘8 per cent. The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] have been summed up (Lieutenant-General E. F. Burton. An Indian Olio) as the middle class of the west coast, who cultivate the ground, take service as domestics, and follow trades and professions—anything but soldiering, of which they have an utter abhorrence.

The marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] system (inheritance through the female line), which obtains in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], has favoured temporary connections between European men and Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women, the children belonging to the mother’s tarvad [തറവാട്]. Children bred under these conditions, European influence continuing, are often as fair as Europeans. It is recorded, in the Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1894, that

“in the early days of British rule, the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women incurred no social disgrace by consorting with Europeans, and, up to the last generation, if the Sūdra [ശൂദ്ര] girl could boast of her Brāhman lover, the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] girl could show more substantial benefits from her alliance with a white man of the ruling race. Happily, the progress of education, and the growth of a wholesome public opinion, have made shameful the position of a European’s concubine ; and both races have thus been saved from a mode of life equally demoralising to each.”

On this point, Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer [എൽ.കെ. അനന്തകൃഷ്ണയ്യർ, 1861 – 1937] writes as follows (Monograph Ethnog. Survey of the Cochin State, No. lo, Izhuvas, 1905).

"It is true that there is an elevation both physically and mentally in the progeny of such a parentage. On making enquiries about this, I learn from a respectable and educated Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] gentleman that this union is looked upon with contempt by the respectable class of people, and by the orthodox community. I am further informed that such women and children, with their families, are under a ban, and that respectable Tiya [ടിയാൻ] gentlemen who have married the daughters of European parentage are not allowed to enjoy the privileges of the caste. There are, I hear, several such instances in Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്], Tellicherry [തലശ്ശേരി], and Cannanore [കണ്ണൂര്‍]. Women of respectable families do not enter into such connection with Europeans.”

Tiya [ടിയാൻ] woman

It is commonly supposed that the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] and Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] came from Ceylon. It is recorded, in the South Canara Manual, that

“it is well known that both before and after the Christian era there were invasions and occupations of the northern part of Ceylon by the races then inhabiting Southern India, and Malabar [മലബാര്‍] tradition tells us that some of these Dravidians migrated again from Īram [ஈழம்] or Ceylon northwards to Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] and other parts of the west coast of India, bringing with them the cocoanut or southern tree (tengina mara [தேங்காய் மரம்]), and being known as Tīvars [தீவினர்] (islanders) or Īravars, which names have since been altered to Tīyars [ടിയാൻ] and Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ]. Dr. Caldwell [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] derives Īram [ஈழம்] from the Sanskrit Simhala through the Pali Sihala by the omission of the initial S.” 

It is noted by Bishop Caldwell [Robert Caldwell, 1814 – 1891] (The Tinnevelly Shānārs, 1849) that there are traces of a common origin of the Īluvans [ഈഴവർ] and Shānārs [சாணார்], Shānār [சாணார்] (or Shener), for instance, being a title of honour amongst the Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Ilavars  [ഈഴവർ]. And it is further recorded (Madras Census Report, 1871) that there is a tradition that the Shānārs [சாணார்] came originally from Ceylon. The Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] are supposed to derive their caste name from Izha dwipa[[ஈழதீவு] (island) or Simhala dwipa (both denoting Ceylon). In a Tamil Purānic work, quoted by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer [എൽ.കെ. അനന്തകൃഷ്ണയ്യർ, 1861 – 1937], mention is made of a King Illa of Ceylon, who went to Chidambaram [சிதம்பரம்] in the Tamil country of Southern India, where a religious discussion took place between the Buddhist priests and the Saivite devotee Manickavachakar [மாணிக்கவாசகர், 9. Jhdt.] in the presence of King Illa, with the result that he was converted to the Saivite [சைவ] faith. From him the Īluvans [ഈഴവർ] are said to be descended.

The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] are always styled Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] in documents concerning land, in which the Zamorin [സാമൂതിരി], or some Brāhman or Nāyar [നായര്‍] grandee, appears as landlord. The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] look down on the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ], and repudiate the relationship. Yet they cannot but submit to be called Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] in their documents, for their Nāyar [നായര്‍] or Brāhman landlord will not let them have the land to cultivate, unless they do so. It is a custom of the country for a man of a superior caste to pretend complete ignorance of the caste of an individual lower in the social scale. Thus, in the Wynād [വയനാട്], where there are several jungle tribes, one is accustomed to hear a man of superior caste pretending that he does not know a Paniyan [പണിയർ] from a Kurumba [ಕುರುಂಬ / കുറുംബ] , and deliberately miscalling one or the other, saying “This Paniyan [പണിയർ],” when he knows perfectly well that he is a Kurumba [ಕುರುಂಬ / കുറുംബ]. It is quite possible, therefore, that, though Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] are written down as Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ], the two were not supposed to be identical. State regulations keep the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] of Cochin [കൊച്ചി] and Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] in a position of marked social inferiority, and in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] they are altogether unlettered and uncultured. On the other hand, the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] provide Magistrates, Sub-Judges, and other officials to serve His Majesty’s Government. It may be noted that, in 1907, a Tiya [ടിയാൻ] lady matriculate was entertained as a clerk in the Tellicherry [തലശ്ശേരി] post-office.

A divagation must be made, to bring the- reader to a comprehension of the custom surrounding māttu [மாத்து], a word signifying change, i.e., change of cloth, which is of sufficient importance to demand explanation. When a man or woman is outcasted, the washerwoman (or man) and the barber of the community (and no other is available) are prohibited from performing their important parts in the ceremonies connected with birth, death, and menstruation. A person who is in a condition of impurity is under the same conditions ; he or she is temporarily outcasted. This applies to Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] and Nāyars [നായര്‍], as well as to the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]. Now the washerwoman is invariably of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] caste. There are Mannāns [മന്നാൻ], whose hereditary occupation is washing clothes for Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] and Nāyars [നായര്‍], but, for the most part, the washerwoman who washes for the Nāyar [നായര്‍] lady is of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] caste. A woman is under pollution after giving birth to a child, after the death of a member of her tarvad [തറവാട്], and during menstruation. And the pollution must be removed at the end of the prescribed period, or she remains an out-caste—a very serious thing for her. The impurity is removed by receiving a clean cloth from the washerwoman, and giving in exchange her own cloth to be washed. This is māttu [மாத்து], and, be it noted, the cloth which gives māttu [மாத்து] is one belonging to the washerwoman, not to the person to be purified. The washerwoman gives her own cloth to effect the purification. Theoretically, the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] has the power to give or withhold māttu [மாத்து], and thus keep any one out of caste in a state of impurity ; but it is a privilege which is seldom if ever exercised. Yet it is one which he admittedly holds, and is thus in a position to exercise considerable control over the Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] and Nāyar [നായര്‍] communities. It is odd that it is not a soiled cloth washed and returned to the person which gives purification, but one of the washerwoman’s own cloths. So the māttu [மாத்து] may have a deeper meaning than lies in mere change of cloth, dressing in a clean one, and giving the soiled one to a person of inferior caste to wash. This māttu [மாத்து] is second in importance to no custom. It must be done on the last day of pollution after birth and death ceremonies, and menstruation, or the person concerned remains outcasted. It is noteworthy that the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] know nothing of māttu [மாத்து].

An Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] will eat rice cooked by a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ], but a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] will not eat rice cooked by an Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ]—a circumstance pointing to the inferiority of the Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ]. A Nāyar [നായര്‍], as well as a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ], will partake of almost any form of food or drink, which is prepared even by a Mappilla [മാപ്പിള] (Malabar [മലബാര്‍] Muhammadan), who is deemed inferior to both. But the line is drawn at rice, which must be prepared by one of equal caste or class, or by a superior. An Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ], partaking of rice at a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ]’s house, must eat it in a verandah; he cannot do so in the house, as that would be defilement to the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ]. Not only must the Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] eat the rice in the verandah, but he must wash the plates, and clean up the place where he has eaten. Again, an Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] could have no objection to drinking from a Tīyan’s [ടിയാൻ] well. Further, there is practically no mixture in the distribution of Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] and Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ]. Where there are Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] there are no Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], and vice versa. [In a photograph of a group of Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] females of Palghat [പാലക്കാട്] eating their meal, which was sent to me, they are all in a kneeling posture, with the buttocks supported on the heels. They are said to assume the same attitude when engaged in grinding and winnowing grain, and other occupations, with a resultant thickening of the skin over the knees.]

Differences, which might well come under the heading marriage, may be considered here, for the purpose of comparison between the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] and Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ]. During the preliminaries to the marriage ceremony among the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], the date of the marriage having been fixed in the presence of the representatives of the bride and bridegroom, the following formula is repeated by the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] or headman of the bride’s party. Translated as accurately as possible, it runs thus.

“The tara and changati of both sides having met and consulted; the astrologer having fixed an auspicious day after examining the star and porutham [പൊരുത്തം] ; permission having been obtained from the tara, the relations, the illam [ഇല്ലം] and kulam, the father, uncle, and the brothers, and from the eight and four (twelve illams [ഇല്ലം]) and the six and four (ten kiriyams); the conji and Adayalam [അടയാളം] ceremonies and the four tazhus having been performed, let me perform the kanjikudi ceremony for the marriage of ....  the son of  .... with .... daughter of .... in the presence of muperium.”

This formula, with slight variations here and there, is repeated at every Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] marriage in South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ]. It is a solemn declaration, giving validity to the union, although, in the way that custom and ritual survive long after their original significance has been forgotten, the meaning of many of the terms used is altogether unknown. What, for instance, is the meaning of muperium ? No one can tell. But a few of the terms are explainable.

Tara. The tara was the smallest unit in the ancient government system, which, for want of a better term, we may style feudal. It was not exactly a village, for the people lived apart. Each tara had its Nāyar [നായര്‍] chieftain, and also its Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] chief or Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], its astrologer, its washerman, its goldsmith, and other useful people, each serving the community for the sake of small advantages. Each tara was its own world.

Changati (friend). The friends of both parties which negotiated the marriage.

porutham [പൊരുത്തം] (agreement). Examination of the horoscopes of the boy and girl makes it possible to ascertain whether there is agreement between the two, and the union will be propitious.

illam [ഇല്ലം]. Here intended to mean the father’s family.

Kulam. The name, derived from kula a branch, here denotes the mother’s family.

Twelve illams [ഇല്ലം], ten kiriyams. The word illam [ഇല്ലം], now used exclusively for the residence of a Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി], is supposed to have been used in days of old for the house of a person of any caste. And this supposition is said to find support in the way that a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] coming from the south is often greeted in South Canara. Thus, a Malabar [മലബാര്‍] Tīyan [ടിയാൻ], travelling to the celebrated temple at Gokarnam [ಗೋಕರ್ಣ] in South Canara, is at once asked “ What is your illam [ഇല്ലം] and kiriyam?” He has heard these terms used in the foregoing formula during his own or another’s marriage ceremony, but attached no meaning to them. To the man of South Canara they have genuine meaning. One should be able to answer the question satisfactorily, and thus give a proper account of himself. If he cannot, he gets neither food nor water from the South Canara Tīyan [ടിയാൻ]. This also holds good, to some extent, in the case of a southern Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] visiting the northern parts of the Cherakal tāluk of Malabar [മലബാര്‍].

The ten illams [ഇല്ലം] of South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ] are as follows :—

  • Tala Kodan.
  • Nellika [നെല്ലിക] (Phyllanthus Emblica}.
  • Paraka or Varaka.
  • Ala.
  • Ten Kudi or Tenan Kudi.
  • Padayan Kudi.
  • Kannan.
  • Varakat.
  • Kytat. inferior.
  • Puzhampayi or Bavu. inferior.

The illams [ഇല്ലം] of North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] are said to be—

  • Nellika [നെല്ലിക].
  • Pullanhi.
  • Vangeri.
  • Koyikkalan.
  • Padayam Kudi.
  • Tenan Kudi.
  • Manan Kudi. 
  • Vilakkan Kudi.

Marriage is strictly forbidden between two persons belonging to the same illam [ഇല്ലം]. The bride and bridegroom must belong to different illams [ഇല്ലം]. In fact, the illams [ഇല്ലം] are exogamous. Members of some of the illams [ഇല്ലം] were allowed certain privileges and dignities. Thus, the men of the Varakat illam [ഇല്ലം] (Varaka Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]) were in the old days permitted to travel in a mancheel (a hammock-cot slung on a pole). They were allowed this privilege of higher caste people, which was prohibited to the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of other illams [ഇല്ലം]. But, should one of them, when travelling in a mancheel, happen to see a Rājah [രാജാവ്] or a Nāyar [നായര്‍], he was obliged to hang one of his legs out of it in token of submission. The Varaka Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] were further allowed to wear gold jewels on the neck, to don silken cloths, to fasten a sword round the waist, and to carry a shield. The sword was made of thin pliable steel, and worn round the waist like a belt, the point being fastened to the hilt through a small hole near the point. A man, intending to damage another, might make an apparently friendly call on him, his body loosely covered with a cloth, and to all appearances unarmed. In less than a second, he could unfasten the sword round his waist, and cut the other down. The well-known Mannanar [മന്നനാർ] belonged to the Varakat illam [ഇല്ലം]. Those who know Malabar [മലബാര്‍] will recall to mind the benevolent but strange institution which he initiated. He provided a comfortable home for Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] women who were thrown out of caste, and thus in the ordinary course of events doomed to every misery and degradation to be found in life. On being outcasted, the funeral ceremonies of Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] women were performed by her own people, and she became dead to them. She went to the Mannanar [മന്നനാർ], and her birth ceremonies were performed, so that she might begin life anew in a state of purity. If, on arrival, she entered by the left door, she was his wife, if by the front door, his sister. It is said that, when their chief, Mannanar [മന്നനാർ] of the Aramana, is destitute of heirs, the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of Kolattanad go in procession to the Kurumattur Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] (the chief of the Peringallur Brāhmans) and demand a Brāhman virgin to be adopted as sister of Mannanar [മന്നനാർ], who follows the marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] rule of succession. This demand, it is said, used to be granted by the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] assembling at a meeting, and selecting a maiden to be given to the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ].

Kiriyam is said to be a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word griham (house), but this seems rather fanciful. There are said to have been about two kiriyams for each village. The names of only three are known to me, viz., 

  • Karumana,
  • Kaita, and
  • Kampathi.

There is a village called Karumana near the temple of Lakshmipuram in South Canara. Karumana is applied as a term to signify a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] during the ordinary devil-dancing in temples, when an oracular utterance is delivered. The oracle always addresses the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] as “my Karumana," not as “ my Tīyan [ടിയാൻ].” The only other use of the word is in Karumana acharam [ആചരം] (the customs of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]).

Other outward and visible differences between Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] and Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] marriages are these. The South Malabar Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] bridegroom, dressed as if for a wrestling match, with his cloth tied tight about his loins, carries a sword and shield, and is escorted by two companions similarly equipped, dancing their way along. The Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] does not carry a sword under any circumstances. The chief feature of his wedding ceremony is a singing match. This, called the vatil-tura-pāttu [വാതില് തുറ പാട്ട്], or open the door song, assumes the form of a contest between the parties of the bridegroom and bride. The story of Krishna [കൃഷ്] and his wife Rukmini [രുക്മിണി] is supposed to be alluded to. We have seen it all under slightly different colour at Conjeeveram [காஞ்சிபுரம]. Krishna asks Rukmini to open the door, and admit him. She refuses, thinking he has been gallivanting with some other lady. He beseeches ; she refuses. He explains, and at length she yields. The song is more or less extempore, and each side must be ready with an immediate answer. The side which is reduced to the extremity of having no answer is beaten and under ignominy.

I pass on to the subject of personal adornment of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] :—

(a) North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], Males—

  1. A horizontal dab made with white ashes on either side of the forehead and chest, and on the outside of each shoulder.
  2. Two gold ear-rings (kadakkan) in each ear. A silver chain hanging from the sheath of his knife, and fastened with a boss. Two tambak (copper, brass and silver) rings on the ring finger of the left hand.
  3. A gold kadakkan in each ear, and an iron ring on the ring finger of the left hand.
  4. A thorn in each ear (another was similarly ornamented). Not married.
  5. A gold ear-ring in each ear. An iron ring on the little finger of the left hand. Two silver rings, in which is set a piece of hair from an elephant’s tail, on the little finger of the right hand.

A few individuals wore brass rings, and some had ear-rings, in which a red stone was set. Amulets were worn by some in little cylindrical cases on a string, to protect the wearer against enemies, the evil eye, or devils. One man wore a silver girdle, to which an amulet in a case was fastened, underneath his cloth, so that it was not in view to the public. One individual only is noted as having been tattooed, with a circular mark just above his glabella. The arms of a good many, and the abdomen of a few, bore cicatrices from branding, apparently for the purpose of making them strong and relieving pains.

(b) South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ], Males.

In the country parts, the waist cloth is always worn above the knee. About a third of the individuals examined wore ear-rings. The ears of all were pierced. Those who were without ear-rings had no scruples about wearing them, but were too poor to buy them.

  1. Blue spot tattooed over the glabella.
  2. Silver amulet-case, containing fifteen gold fanams [പണം], at the waist. He said that he kept the coins in the receptacle for security, but I think it was for good luck.
  3. Ear-ring (kadakkan) in each ear. A copper amulet-case, containing a yantram to keep off devils, at the waist.
  4. Four silver amulet-cases, containing yantrams on a copper sheet for curing some ailment, at the waist.
  5. Two gold kadakkans in each ear. A white spot over the glabella.

(c) North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], Females.

In olden days, the women used to wear coloured and striped cloths round the waist, and hanging to the knees. The breast was not covered. The body above the waist was not allowed to be covered, except during the period of death pollution. Nowadays, white is generally the colour to be seen, and the body is seldom covered above the waist—never one may say, except (and then only sometimes) in the towns. The Izhuvan [ഈഴവർ] women in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] always wear blue cloths : just one cloth rolled tightly round the waist, and hanging to the knees. Of late, they have taken to wearing also a blue cloth drawn tight over the breast.

Ornaments. The thōdu, which is now sometimes worn by Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women, is not a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] ornament. The ear-rings, called kathila and ananthod, are the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] ornaments, and look like strings of gold beads with pendants. Discs of white metal or lead are used to stretch and keep open the dilated lobes of the ears, in which gold ornaments are worn when necessary or possible. Venetian sequins, real or imitation, known in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] as Āmāda, are largely used for neck ornaments. There is a Malabar [മലബാര്‍] proverb that one need not look for an insect’s burrow in Āmāda, meaning that you cannot find anything vile in a worthy person.

Turning now to the subject of marriage. In the ordinary course of things, a marriage would not be made between a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] girl of South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ] and a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] man of North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], for the reason that the children of such a marriage would inherit no property from the family of either parent. The husband would have no share in the property of his family, which devolves through the women ; nor would the wife have any share in that of her family, which is passed on through the men. So there would be nothing for the children. But, on the other hand, marriage between a girl of the north and a man of the south is a different thing. The children would inherit from both parents. As a rule, Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of the north marry in the north, and those of the south in the south.

It was generally admitted that it was formerly the custom among the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] in South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ] for several brothers—in fact all of them—to share one wife. Two existing instances of this custom were recorded.

The arrangement of a marriage, and the ceremonial which will now be described, though pertaining strictly to the Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്] tāluk of South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ‍], are sufficiently representative of a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] marriage anywhere. There is, however, this difference, that, in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], where inheritance through females obtains, and the wife invariably resides in her own tarwad [തറവാട്] or family home, there is never any stipulation concerning a girl’s dowry. In South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ‍], where inheritance is through the males, and where the wife lives in her husband’s house, the dowry in money, jewels, or furniture, is as a rule settled beforehand, and must be handed over on the wedding day. In the Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്] tāluk, we find an exception to this general rule of South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ], where the subject of the dowry is not usually mentioned. In North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], gifts of jewels are made in proportion as the bride’s people are wealthy and generous. What is given is in the way of a gift, and forms no feature in the marital agreement.

 The first step to be taken in connection with marriage is examination of the horoscopes of the boy and girl, in order to ascertain whether their union will be one of happiness or the reverse. While this is being done by the Panikkar [പണിക്കർ] (Malabar [മലബാര്‍] astrologer), the following persons should be present:—

(a) On the part of the bridegroom—

  1. Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], or chief of the tara.
  2. Father, or other elder in the family.
  3. Uncle, i.e., the mother’s brother. In Malabar [മലബാര്‍] the word uncle means maternal uncle.
  4. Sisters’ husbands.
  5. Four or more friends or companions.
  6. Any number of relations and friends.

(b) On the part of the bride—

  1. Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of her tara.
  2. Father, or other guardian.
  3. Uncle.
  4. Four or more friends.
  5. The astrologer of her tara.
  6. Friends and relations.

The ceremony must be performed at the house of the girl’s family. Her father’s consent is necessary, but his presence is not essential at this or the two subsequent ceremonies in connection with the marriage. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], it may be noted, is the caste governmental head in all matters affecting his own caste and the artisans. He is a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ], and his office, which is authorised by the local Rājah [രാജാവ്], or rather by his senior Rāni [രാജ്ഞി], is hereditary. In exceptional cases, however, the hereditary right may be interrupted by the Rāni [രാജ്ഞി] appointing some one else. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the tara is required to assist at every ceremony connected with marriage, at the ceremony when a girl attains puberty, at that of tying the tāli [താലി], and at the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy. His formal permission is required before the carpenter can cut down the areca palm, with which the little shed in which the tāli [താലി] is tied is constructed. In cases of divorce, his functions are important. When a new house is built, there must be a house-warming ceremony, at which the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] officiates. Fowls are sacrificed, and the right leg is the Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] perquisite. He is a man of importance, not only in many affairs within his own caste, but also in those of other castes. Thus, when a Nāyar [നായര്‍] dies, it is the Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] duty to get the body burnt. He controls the washerman and barber of the tara, and can withdraw their services when they are most needed. He officiates, moreover, at marriages of the artisan class—carpenters, braziers, goldsmiths and blacksmiths.

A group of taras forms what is called a dēsam [ദേസം], the koyma or ‘‘sovereignty” of which is represented by a Nāyar [നായര്‍] tarwad [തറവാട്]. It is through the head or Karnavan (really the chieftain) of this tarwad [തറവാട്] that the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] approaches the Rāja [രാജാവ്] in matters of appeal, and the like. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] is to some extent under his guidance and control, but he must provide the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] with a bodyguard of two Nāyars [നായര്‍] on occasions of marriages. In the old days, it may be mentioned, the Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] of the taras within the rule of the Zamorin [സാമൂതിരി] were always appointed by his senior Rāni [രാജ്ഞി]. The term Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] must not be confounded with the Tandars, a people of the Palghat [പാലക്കാട്] tāluk, who appear to be allied to the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ]. These Tandars observe the custom of paternal polyandry, while the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] abhor it.

The procedure observed in the examination of horoscopes is as follows. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the bride’s tara gives a grass or palmyra palm leaf mat to the astrologer to sit on, and supplies mats or seats for the bridegroom’s party. The common sleeping mat of wild pine leaves, or a wooden stool, must, on no account, be given for the astrologer to sit on. It may be day or night when the ceremony takes place, but, whatever the hour may be, a lamp having five, seven, nine, or eleven cotton wicks, must be burning in front of the astrologer. The Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife puts it in its place. Then the boy’s uncle hands over the boy’s horoscope to his Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], who passes it on to the girl’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. The girl’s father hands her horoscope to their Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], who, when he has received them both, passes them on to the astrologer. The two horoscopes should agree on twenty-one points—a requirement which might prove awkward, were it not that a balance in favour of beneficent influences is generally allowed to admit of the marriage taking place. In the case of agreement, the boy’s uncle, through his Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], then pays two fanams [പണം] (eight annas [അണ])—one for each horoscope—to the astrologer. When there is disagreement, the girl’s uncle pays the money. The horoscopes (which have been privately examined beforehand to make sure of no disagreement) are returned to their respective owners. After the examination of the horoscope, there is a feast with plenty of sweetmeats. The next item is the conjee (rice gruel) ceremony, at which the following should be present:—

(a) On the part of the boy—

  1. Father, his brother, or some one representing him.
  2. Husbands of all married sisters.
  3. Uncle.
  4. Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of his tara.
  5. Neighbours and friends.

(6) On the part of the girl—

  1. Uncle.
  2. Relations of married sisters.
  3. Relations of married brothers.
  4. Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of her tara.
  5. Astrologer of her tara.
  6. Relations and friends.

The horoscopes are again formally examined by the astrologer, who announces that their agreement augurs a happy wedded life. The boy’s uncle pays him two fanams [പണം]. The girl’s uncle takes the two horoscopes, which have just been tied together, from the astrologer, and hands them to the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the girl’s tara, who passes them on to the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the boy’s tara. They are handed by him to the boy’s uncle. The astrologer then writes on a palmyra leaf a note for each party to the marriage, stating the auspicious day and hour for the final ceremony, the hour at which the bride should leave her house, and the hour for her arrival at the house of the bridegroom. The following programme is then gone through. In the verandah, facing east, before the front door, is spread an ordinary sleeping mat, over it a grass mat, and over that a plain white cloth which has been washed and is not a new one. On the floor close by, the following articles are placed :—

  • A lamp, having an odd number of cotton wicks, which is kept lighted whatever the hour of day it may be ;
  • A measure, called nāzhi, made of jak tree (Artocarpus integrifolia [Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.]) wood, filled to overflowing with rice, and placed on a flat bell-metal plate (talika) ;
  • A plain white cloth, washed but not· new, neatly folded, and placed on the metal plate to the right (south) of the rice ;
  • A small bell-metal vessel (kindi), having no handle, filled with water.

The lamp is placed on the south side of the mat, the plate next to it (to the north), and the kindi at a little distance to the left (the north). The people who sit on the mat always face the east. The mat having been spread, the various articles just mentioned are brought from the central room of the house by three women, who set them in their places. The Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife carries the lamp, the eldest woman of the house the bell-metal plate, and some other woman the kindi. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the boy’s tara, the boy’s sister’s husband, and a friend then sit on the mat covered with a cloth. If the boy has two brothers-in-law, both sit on the mat, to the exclusion of the friend. The senior woman of the house then hands three plates of rice conjee to the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the girl’s tara, who places them in front of the three persons seated on the mat. To the right of each plate, a little jaggery (unrefined sugar) is placed on a piece of plantain leaf. Each of those seated takes about a spoonful of conjee in his right hand. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] repeats the formula, which has already been given, and asks “May the conjee be drunk”? He answers his question by drinking some of the conjee, and eating a little jaggery. All three then partake of the conjee and jaggery, after which they rise from the mat, and the plates and mat are removed. The place is cleaned, and the mats are again put down, while betel is distributed. The two Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] then sit on the mat. The girl’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] picks up a bundle of about twenty-five betel leaves, and gives half to the boy’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. The Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] exchange betel leaves, each giving the other four. The boy’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] then folds four fanams [പണം] (one rupee) in four betel leaves, which he hands to the girl’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], saying “ May the conjee ceremony be performed”? The Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] again exchange betel leaves as before, and distribute them to all the castemen present, beginning with the uncles of the boy and girl. The proceedings in the verandah are now over. The next part of the ceremony takes place in the middle room of the house, where the mats, lamp, and other articles are arranged as before. The two Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] sit on the mat with the boy on the right and the girl on the left, facing east. The boy’s uncle stands in front of the Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ], facing west, and the girl’s uncle behind them, facing east. The boy’s father gives to the boy’s uncle two new plain white cloths, with twenty-one fanams [പണം] (Rs. 5-4) placed on them. When presenting them, he says “Let the Adayalam [അടയാളം] be performed  three times, and the girl’s uncle says thrice “Let me receive the Adayalam [അടയാളം].” The Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] again exchange betel leaves, and distribute them among the castemen. Then follows a feast, and more betel. The date of the wedding has now to be fixed. They congregate in the middle room once more, and the Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] sit on the mat. The girl’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] shares a bundle of betel leaves with the boy’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], who, taking therefrom four leaves, places two rupees on them, and gives them to the girl’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. The boy’s party supplies this money, which is a perquisite of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. When handing over the leaves and the coins, the boy’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] says

“ On .... (naming a date) .... and .... (the bride and bridegroom), and friends, and four women will come. Then you must give us the girl, and you must prepare the food for that day.”

The other Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] replies

“If you bring six cloths and forty-two fanams [പണം] (Rs. 10-8) as kanam, and two fanams [പണം] for the muchenan (the girl’s father’s sister’s son), the girl will be sent to you.”

The cloths should be of a kind called enna kacha, each four cubits in length, but they are not now procurable. Kanam is a term used in land tenures, for which there is no precise equivalent in English. It is a kind of mortgage paid by a tenant to a landlord. The former is liable to eviction by the latter, when he obtains better terms for his land from another tenant—a condition of modern growth breeding much mischief and bad blood. But, when a tenant is evicted, he is entitled, according to law, to the value of certain improvements on the land, including eight annas [അണ] for each tree which he has planted. The kanam is paid by the boy’s sister or sisters. His Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] addresses his brother-in-law or brothers-in-law in the words

“On .... (mentioning a date), you must come early in the day, with Rs. 10-8 as kanam,” 

and gives him or them four betel leaves. Those assembled then disperse. The boy’s people may not go to the girl’s house before the day appointed for the marriage.

The next item in connection with a marriage is the issue of invitations to the wedding. The senior women of the boy’s house, and the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], invite a few friends to assemble at the house of the bridegroom. The mat, lamp, and other articles are placed in the middle room. The bridegroom (manavālan [മണവാളന്]) sits on the mat, with a friend on either side of him. He has previously bathed, and horizontal daubs of sandal paste have been placed on his forehead, breast, and arms. He wears a new cloth, which has not been washed. His Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] has adorned him with a gold bracelet on his right wrist, a knife with a gold or silver handle at the waist, and a gold or silver waist-belt or girdle over the loin-cloth. The bracelet must have an ornamental pattern, as plain bracelets are not worn by men. The girdle is in the form of a chain. Besides these things, he must wear ear-rings, and he should have rings on his fingers. His sister who pays the kanam dresses in the same style, but her cloths may be of silk, white without a pattern in the border, and she wears gold bracelets on both wrists. All enjoy a good meal, and then set out, and visit first the house of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. He and his wife walk in front, followed by the boy’s elder sisters, if he has any. Then comes the bridegroom with a friend before and behind him, with a few women bringing up the rear. At the Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] house there is another meal, and then three, five, or seven houses are visited, and invitation to the wedding given in person. The proceedings for the day are then over, and, after three days, the brother-in-law, uncle, and all others receive invitations.

On the occasion of the marriage ceremony, the barber first shaves the bridegroom’s head, leaving the usual forelock on the crown, which is never cut. He performs the operation in a little shed to the east of the house, and a plantain leaf is placed so that the hair may fall on it. As a rule, the barber sits in front of the person whose hair he is shaving, while the latter, sitting cross-legged on the ground, bends forward. But, on this occasion, the bridegroom sits on a low wooden stool. Close by are a lamp and a measure of rice on a plantain leaf. The barber also shaves the two friends of the bridegroom (changathis), and receives a fanam [[പണം] and the rice for his trouble. The three youths then bathe, smear themselves with sandal paste, and proceed to dress. The bridegroom must wear round the loins a white cloth, new and unwashed. Round the top of the loin cloth he wears a narrow waist-band (kacha) of silk, from 14 to 21 cubits in length, with the ends hanging in front and behind. Over the shoulders is thrown a silk lace handkerchief. He puts in his ears gold ear-rings, round the neck a necklace called chakra [ചക്രം] (wheel) mala (Other kinds of necklaces are the mullapu (jasmine flower) mala, avil (beaten rice) mala, so called from the shape of the links, mani mala or bead necklace, and pavizham [പവിഴം] (coral) mala. These are all worn by women),  on the right wrist a gold bracelet, gold rings on the fingers, a gold or silver chain round the loins, and a gold or silver-handled knife with a sheath of the same metal. The two companions are dressed in much the same way, but they wear neither necklace nor bracelet. The women wear as many ornaments as they please. Sisters of the bridegroom must wear bracelets on both wrists, a necklace, and a silk cloth (virali) on the shoulders. The bracelet worn by men is called vala, and must be made of one piece of metal. Those worn by women are called kadakam, and must be made in two pieces. When all are ready, mats, and other things are once more placed in the middle room, and the bridegroom and his two companions sit on the mats. They at once rise, and proceed to the little shed which has been erected in the front yard, and again seat themselves on the mats, which, with the other articles, have been brought thither from the middle room. Then the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] gives betel to the bridegroom and his two companions, who must chew it. The Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife, the elder woman of the house, and the bridegroom’s sisters sprinkle rice on their heads. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] gives a sword to the bridegroom and each of his companions. The procession then starts. In front walk two Nāyars [നായര്‍] supplied by the Koyma of the dēsam [ദേസം] (represented by the Nāyar [നായര്‍] landlord). Then come the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] and a few elders, followed by the Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife and some of the elder women, the bridegroom with his two companions, his sisters, and finally the general crowd. As the procession moves slowly on, there is much dancing, and swinging of swords and shields. At the bride’s house, the party is received by the wife of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the tara holding a lighted lamp, the oldest woman of the family with a plate containing a measure of rice and a folded cloth, and another woman, who may be a friend, with a kindi of water. They sprinkle a little rice on the heads of the party as they enter the yard. The bridegroom sits on a mat, close to which the lamp and other articles are set. The bride’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] takes charge of the swords, betel is distributed, and a hearty meal partaken of. The six cloths, which the bridegroom is required to bring are in reality three double cloths, one of which is for the use of the bride. It is the privilege of the bridegroom’s sisters and the Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife to dress her. Her waist-cloth is tied in a peculiar way for the occasion, and she is enveloped from head to foot in a silken cloth, leaving only the eyes visible. The bridegroom, after his arrival at the bride’s house, has to put on a peculiar turban of conical shape, made of a stiff towel-like material, tied round with a silk handkerchief. The bridegroom’s sister leads the bride to the little shed (pandal [പന്തൽ]) in the yard, and seats her behind the bridegroom. The kanam, and the remaining four cloths are then given by the bridegroom’s sister to the bride’s mother, and they, having tied a silk handkerchief across the body like a Brāhman’s thread, stand behind the bridegroom, the mother to the right and the sister to the left. The latter says three times “Let the kanam be given,” and hands it to the bride’s mother, who, as she receives it, says thrice “Let me receive the kanam.” The mother at once hands it over to her husband, or the senior male member of the family. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] then places plantain leaves, for use as plates, before the bridegroom and his two companions, and, facing the bridegroom, holds a vessel of cooked rice in front of him. The bride’s mother, standing behind him, serves out thrice some rice out of the pot on to the leaf in front of the bridegroom, and the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] does the same for his two companions. The bride’s mother then mixes some plantains, pappadams [പപ്പാടം]v (large thin biscuits), sugar, and ghī [നെയ്യ്] (clarified butter) with the rice on the bridegroom’s leaf-plate, and offers the food to him three times. She will not, however, allow him to taste it. It is taken from his lips, and removed by the washerwomen. The bridegroom’s sister has the same play with the bride. The rice, which has thus been made a feature of the ceremony, is called ayini. A few days prior to the marriage, two small bundles of betel leaves, each containing areca nuts, half a dozen tobacco leaves, and two fanams [പണം] are given by the bridegroom to the Nāyar [നായര്‍] chieftain of the dēsam as his fee for furnishing an escort. In return for these offerings, he gives a new cloth to the bridegroom. Three measures of raw rice, ten or twelve pappadams [പപ്പാടം]v, plantains, a cocoanut, and some dry uncooked curry-stuff are given by the bridegroom to each of the Nāyars [നായര്‍] provided as escort on the eve of the marriage. When they arrive on the scene on the wedding day, they are given some beaten rice, rice cakes, cocoanuts, plantains, and a drink of arrack (spirit). When the bride’s parents and relations come for the Vathil ceremony, the same escort is provided, and the same presents are given. Just as the bridegroom and all are ready to leave, the bride’s father’s sister’s son called the machunan, steps forward, and demands two fanams [പണം] from the bridegroom’s party in return for permission to take away the bride. He gets his money, and the party starts for the bridegroom’s house, after rice has been sprinkled over the heads of the contracting couple, the sisters of the bridegroom leading the bride. The swords, which have been returned by the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], are again used in flourishing and dancing en route.

It is a prevalent custom throughout Southern India that a girl’s father’s sister’s son has the first right to her hand in marriage. This obtains not only among the Dravidian peoples, but also among Brāhmans. The Malayālam [മലയാളം] word for son-in-law (marumakan [മരുമകൻ]) means nephew. If a stranger should marry a girl, he also is called nephew. But the unmarried nephew, having the first admitted right to the girl, must be paid eight annas [അണ], or two fanams [പണം], before he will allow her to be taken away. The argument is said to be as follows. A sister pays forty-two fanams [പണം] as kanam for her brother’s wife. When the product, i.e., a daughter, is transferred to a stranger, the son claims compensation on his mother’s investment at the same rate as that at which a cocoanut tree is valued—eight annas [അണ]. At all events, the nephew has the first right to a girl, and must be compensated before she can be taken away by another.

At the bridegroom’s house, the party is received by the wife of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] and the lady of the house. Following the bride should come her parents and other relations, two Nāyars [നായര്‍] representing the chieftain, and the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of his tara. The formalities with mats and rice are gone through as before. Rice is sprinkled over the heads, the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] receives the swords, and all sit in the shed. The ayini rice ceremony is repeated for the bride by the bridegroom’s mother and sisters. The happy pair then proceed to the inner room of the house, where sweetmeats are served to them. Then is observed, as a rule, the asaram or gift ceremony. Relations are expected to give 101 fanams [പണം] (Rs. 25-4), but the poorest of them are allowed to reduce the gift to 21 fanams [പണം] (Rs. 5-4), and the others give according to their means. These gifts are supposed to be repaid with interest. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] sees that a regular account of all the gifts is made out, and handed over to the bridegroom, and receives eight annas [അണ] for his trouble. The accountant who prepares the accounts, and the person who tests the genuineness of the coins, each receives a bundle of betel leaves, four areca nuts, and two tobacco leaves. Betel leaves, areca nuts, and tobacco, are also given to each giver of gifts. After this, there is the vatil or house ceremony. Two large bundles of betel leaves are prepared, each of which contains a thousand or fifteen hundred leaves, and with them are placed forty or fifty tobacco leaves, and seventy to a hundred areca nuts. The bride’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] pays two or four rupees as vatil kanam to the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the bridegroom, who hands the money to the bridegroom’s father. The bridegroom then places one bundle of betel leaves, with half the tobacco and areca nuts, before the bride’s father, and the other before her mother, and they are distributed by the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the girl’s tara and his wife among the men and women who are present. Sweetmeats are then distributed, and the marriage ceremony is concluded. A formal visit must be made subsequently by the women of the bride’s house to the bridegroom’s, and is returned by the bride and bridegroom. The first visit is paid by a party consisting of the bride’s mother, her uncle’s and brother’s wives, the wife of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], and other relations. They are expected to bring with them plenty of sweetmeats and bread for general distribution. When the return visit is made by the bride and bridegroom, the sister of the latter, and other relations and friends, should accompany them, and they should take with them a lot of betel leaves, areca nuts, tobacco, and sweetmeats. This exchange of visits does not, however, complete those which are de rigueur. For, at the next Ōnam [ഓണം] and Vishu [വിഷ്ണു] festivals, the newly married couple should visit the house of the bride’s family. Ōnam [ഓണം] is the beginning of the first harvest, and Vishu [വിഷ്ണു] the agricultural new year. On these occasions, the bridegroom takes with him the inevitable betel leaves, and presents a new cloth to the parents of the bride and every one else in the house. When the annual Tiruvathira [തിരുവാതിര] festival takes place between the betrothal and marriage ceremonies, the bridegroom is expected to send to the temple, through his Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] and one of his own relations, a quantity of ripe and unripe plantains.

The ceremonies which have been described differ considerably from those of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], where the marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] law of inheritance obtains. These are very simple affairs.

In the Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്] tāluk, a man can marry only one wife at a time. But, when a wife is barren, a leper, or suffering from incurable disease, her husband may, with her formal permission, marry another wife. A bride may be of any age. Where there is no stipulation as to dowry, it is a point of honour to give the girl as many jewels as the bridegroom can afford. Widows may remarry.

Divorce is admissible, when the grounds for it are sufficient. And, when we find that incompatibility of temper is among these, it is safe to say that it is fairly easy of accomplishment. No specific reason need, in fact, be assigned. When it is the man who wishes to get rid of his wife, he must pay her all her expenses towards the marriage, as assessed by persons of the caste who fill the role of mediators. He has to give up jewels received from his wife’s family, and must, in some cases, pay the discarded wife something on account of her loss of virginity—a circumstance, which might make it difficult for her to obtain another husband. If the wife wishes to get rid of her husband, she must pay up all his expenses towards the marriage. The party found to be in the wrong must pay a fee of five to twenty rupees to the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] and all present, the relations excepted. The amount is distributed then and there. The procedure to be adopted in effecting divorce is as follows. The Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ] of both sides, uncles and relations, and sometimes the fathers, assemble at the house of the wife, the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], or one of the relations. To the left of a burning lamp are placed two small wooden stools. On one of these are laid a small towel with four fanams [പണം] (one rupee) tied up in a corner of it, and another towel with a little rice and four fanams [പണം] tied up in it. Close by is the other stool, on which the wife’s uncle stretches a single thread taken from his own cloth. The husband carries this stool to the gate, and says three times to the wife’s brother, father, or uncle—“Your sister’s (daughter’s or niece’s) matrimonial connection is severed.” He then blows away the thread, throws the stool down, and departs for ever. This little ceremony cannot be performed at the husband’s house, as it would involve perpetual banishment from his own house. The coins in the cloths go to the Tandāns [തണ്ടാൻ]. It is the uncle who gives these cloths, because it was he who received the two cloths at the conjee ceremony. A marriage cannot be dissolved unless both parties agree.

Abb.: Tiya
[ടിയാൻ] woman

A girl is under pollution for four days from the commencement of the first menstrual period. During this time she must keep to the north side of the house, where she sleeps on a grass mat of a particular kind, in a room festooned with garlands of young cocoanut leaves. Round the mat is a narrow ridge made of paddy (unhusked rice), rice, and flowers of the cocoanut and areca palms. A lamp is kept burning, near which are placed the various articles already described in connection with marriage. Another girl keeps her company and sleeps with her, but she must not touch any other person, tree or plant. She further must not see the sky, and woe betide her if she catches sight of a crow or cat. Her diet must be strictly vegetarian, without salt, tamarinds, or chillies. She is armed against evil spirits with an iron knife carried on her person, or placed on the mat. On the first day, she is seated on a wooden stool in the yard to the east of the house. The fresh spathe of a cocoanut is cut in front of her. The bunch of blossoms is placed in a copper pot painted with perpendicular lines of chunam (lime), and a horizontal line at the top and bottom. The spathe of an areca palm is similarly treated, and, if the contents of both spathes are plentiful, it is regarded as a good augury of fertility. The wife of the girl’s uncle, or, if she is married, her husband’s sister pours some gingelly (Sesamum) oil over her head, on the top of which a gold fanam [പണം] has been placed. Failing such relations, the wife of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] officiates. The operation is repeated by two other women, relatives if possible. The oil is poured from a little cup made from a leaf of the jak tree (Artocarpus integrifolia [Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.]), flows over the forehead, and is received with the fanam [പണം] in a dish. It is a good omen if the coin falls with the obverse upwards. Rice is cooked with jaggery, and given to the girl. The other women partake thereof, and then have a feast by themselves. The anointing with oil is the only bath the girl has until the fourth day. On the third day, she is not allowed to eat rice in any form, but she may partake of any other grain in the form of cakes. Her uncle’s wife, husband’s sister, and other relations, give her presents of cakes and bread. During the night, the māttu [மாத்து], or cloth-changing ceremony, takes place. First of all, the washerman comes along with the washerwoman, carrying two washed cloths. In the front yard of the house a lamp with an odd number of wicks is burning. In a bamboo basket are a small measure (edangāli) of paddy heaped up on a plantain leaf, a measure of rice on another leaf, two separate quarter measures thereof, a piece of turmeric, a little straw, a piece of coir (cocoanut fibre), and a cocoanut. As soon as he enters, the washerman, using the straw and coir skilfully, makes a bundle of the contents of the basket, and places it near the lamp, which is standing on a wooden stool. A cocoanut is cut in half, and placed, half on each side, by the stool. Thereon is set a flat bell-metal dish, containing a little rice and seven rolls of betel leaves and areca nuts. The washerwoman, having received the māttu [மாத்து] from the woman, places it on his head and proceeds to sing a song, at the conclusion of which he says solemnly three times “Let me place the māttu [மாத்து].” He then places the cloths on the bundle, which is on the stool. The girl’s uncle’s wife, and four other women, have by this time emerged from the middle room of the house, carrying a lighted lamp, a plate with a measure of rice, and a kindi as before. The uncle’s wife, having covered her breast with a silk cloth, and wearing all her ornaments, leads the other four women as they walk thrice round the māttu [மாத்து]. She then places a fanam [പണം] (or a four-anna [അണ] piece) on the māttu [மாத்து], lifts the stool, bundle and all, with one hand on the māttu [மாத்து] and the other below the stool, and leads the procession of the women, with the lamp and other articles, to the room where the girl has been sleeping. She deposits her burden near the spot where the girl has laid her head. A general feast then takes place, and the washerman appropriates the fanam [പണം], and the paddy and rice spread in the yard. So ends the third day of these strange observances. On the fourth day, the girl bathes in a neighbouring pool, with some ceremonial. Before she leaves the house, the washerman fixes in the ground a branch of a certain tree, to the top and bottom of which he ties the two ends of a long line of thin coir rope or yarn. This is supposed to represent the bow of Kāma [കാമദേവൻ], the Indian Cupid. He erects a miniature temple-like structure of young cocoanut leaves, with the stems of young plantains near it, by the side of the pool. Close to it, he places a burning lamp, and a small quantity of rice and paddy, each on a separate plantain leaf. Near them he sets a cocoanut, which has been blackened with charcoal, on some rice spread on a plantain leaf, a cocoanut reddened with turmeric and chunam on raw rice, and another on a leaf, containing fried paddy. (Ordinarily, paddy is partly boiled before it is pounded to remove the husk. Raw rice is obtained by pounding the paddy, which has not undergone any boiling.) He further deposits a few plantains, and two other cocoa-nuts. Before the girl leaves the house, clad in one of the cloths brought on the previous night, she is well rubbed all over with oil, and the four or six women (There must in all be five or seven females) who accompany her are similarly treated. Leading the way, they are followed by a number of women to the pool, where the girl and her companions bathe. After the bath, they stand by the side of the pool, facing east and holding lighted cotton-wicks in their hands, and go round the miniature temple three times, throwing the wicks into it. The washerman again breaks out into song, accompanying himself by striking a bell-metal plate with a stick. When he has finished, and gone through a little more business on his own account, the girl’s husband or brother (if she is unmarried) appears on the scene. He holds aloft the coir string, under the lower end of which a cocoanut has been placed on the ground. The girl passes three times forwards and backwards without touching it. Two cotton wicks, lighted at both ends, are laid on the cocoanut, and the girl should cut the wicks and the cocoanut through, completely severing them, with one blow of a strong knife or chopper. If she is successful, the omen is considered good. The girl, with her party, then bathes a second time. As she comes out of the water, she kicks out backwards like a mule, and sends the stem with the single cocoanut attached flying into the water with her right foot. The second māttu [மாத்து] cloth is then brought, and she is clad in it. Then she is full dressed and ornamented and led back to the house with a silk canopy over her head. She is taken to the middle room, and cakes and rice are given to her to eat. A feast is then held. The girl has so far been purified as regards most affairs of life, but she cannot touch any cooking-vessel until she has undergone yet another ceremony. This takes place on the seventh or ninth day after the first appearance of the menses. Every day until then the girl is rubbed with gingelly oil and turmeric. Three ordinary earthenware cooking-pots are piled, one above the other, in the kitchen. The uppermost pot contains cooked rice, the middle one rice boiled with jaggery, and the lowest curry. The pots must be new, and are marked with perpendicular daubs of chunam. Seated on a low wooden stool to the west of the pots, the girl, facing the east, touches each pot with a knife. When the first of all these menstruation ceremonies has taken place at the house of the girl’s husband, her mother brings some cakes on this last day. If it has been performed at her father’s house, her husband’s sister should bring the cakes. They are distributed among all present, and a small meal is partaken of. All the expenses of the first, and seventh or ninth day ceremonies, are borne by the people of the house, who may be those of the family of the girl’s father or husband. The expenses of the ceremonial of the fourth day are defrayed by the girl’s husband if they have been performed at her father’s house, and vice versâ.

The young wife has an easy time of it until the fifth month of her pregnancy, when she must again submit to becoming the subject for ceremonial. Then takes place the Belikala, for the purpose of appeasing some of the many malignant spirits, who are unceasing in their attempts to destroy infants in the womb. This consists for the most part of offerings, which are repeated in the seventh month. They are performed by members of the Mannān [മന്നാൻ] (washerman) and Pānan [பாணர்] (exorcists and devil-dancers) castes. At the commencement thereof, there is a feast. A structure, in shape something like a Muhammadan taboot [تابوت] (The taboot [تابوت] is a model of a Muhammadan mausoleum, intended to represent the tomb of Husain [الحسين ابن علي ابن أبي طالب], which is carried in procession during the Moharram [مُحَرَّم] festival), about five feet in height, is erected in the front yard of the house. It is made of stems of young plantain trees, and festooned with leaves of young cocoanut palms. The floor of the little edifice, and the ground outside it to the west, are strewn with charcoal made from paddy husk, on which are made magic squares of white rice flour, intermingled with red, green, and yellow, each colour being compounded with specified substances. The squares are not always the same, but are prepared for each occasion, so as to suit the particular spirit which is to be invoked and appeased. The pregnant woman, with six female companions, leaves the middle room of the house, carrying the usual lamp and other articles, and they walk seven times round the edifice. Before completing the last round, each throws into it a burning wick. They then stand to the west of it, facing east, and sit down. The Mannāns [മന്നാൻ] invoke the spirit in song, accompanied by the clang of metal plates beaten with sticks. Drums must not be used. The music and weird devil-dancing go on more or less all night, and by morning some of the most nervous of the women, overcome by the spirit, go into fits. The fees for the devil-dancing are paid by the pregnant woman’s father. Last of all, a live cock is held against the forehead of the woman, mantrams [മന്ത്രം] (magical formulae) are repeated, and rice is thrown over her head. If she should have a fit, the head of the cock is cut off, and the blood offered to the demon spirit. If, however, she does not suffer from undue excitement, the cock is simply removed alive. She is left in peace for the next two months, when she goes to her father’s house, at which there is more devil-dancing at another Belikala ceremony. The fees are paid by the woman’s husband. They vary from five to thirty-two rupees, according to the cost of the edifice which is erected, and the quality of the dancing. The invocation of some of the devils requires specially trained dancers who must be paid high fees. On the morning following the dance, the tamarind juice drinking ceremony takes place at the house of the woman’s father. The fees in connection with this are debited to the husband. Taking advantage of an auspicious moment, the husband and two companions bathe in the early morning, and make a neat toilette, the husband wearing a necklace. They then go to the nearest tamarind, and pluck three small leafy twigs, which they bring to the house. The husband’s sister pounds the leaves in a mortar in a little shed or pandal [പന്തൽ] in the front yard. The juice is then strained through a new double cloth eight cubits in length by the husband’s sisters. If he has no sisters, this should be done by his and his wife’s mothers. Rice conjee is then prepared with water, in which the tamarind juice has been mixed. The husband, and his two companions, sit under the pandal [പന്തൽ], where the usual lamp and other articles have been placed, with the wife behind him. Her brother then feeds him thrice with the conjee from a small gold spoon. The husband’s sister feeds the wife in like manner. One of the three twigs is planted by the husband in the front yard, and his wife waters it every day until the child is born. In the ninth month, the husband’s sister presents his wife with a couple of pounds of cummin seed and jaggery. The woman who brings this little gift should be given some cakes and sweetmeats. During pregnancy, a woman always wears an amulet concealed within a cylindrical tube on her neck, to protect her against malignant spirits.

The young wife’s child is born at her father’s house, where she is under the care of her mother. When the child is born, the brother of the newly made mother goes out into the yard, and strikes the ground three times with the stem of a dry cocoanut palm leaf. If the child is a boy, he emits a long drawn out ku-u-u-u in high falsetto as he does so. It is then the duty of the brother and the midwife to a-o and inform the father of the event. The midwife receives from him her fee, and a present of a cloth, and other presents from his sisters. If the child is a boy, the brother receives a cloth, and, if a girl, a cloth and a bell-metal plate.

The event of the birth of a child carries with it, as in the case of death, pollution to every one in the house. This is partially removed by ceremonies on the third day, and wholly by further ceremonies on the ninth or eleventh day, whichever happens to be the more auspicious—a Tuesday for example. Any one coming to the house before the first ceremonies have taken place must bathe and wash his or her cloth to remove the pollution. Any one visiting the house after the first, but before the second ceremony, need not bathe, but cannot eat any food in the house. The men of the household can get no rice at home until after the second ceremony has been performed, and they are consequently compelled to board elsewhere for the time being. A washerwoman carries out the purification rites, assisted by a barber woman. First of all, the floors of all the rooms are smeared with cow-dung. All clothes in use are given to the washerwoman. The women rub their bodies all over with oil, and the washerwoman brings māttu [மாத்து] for them. The barber woman sprinkles a mixture of cow’s milk and karuka [കറുക] grass leaves over the women, who then go to a pool and bathe. When the milk is about to be sprinkled, the usual lamp, rice on a metal plate, and kindi of water are produced. The barber woman takes the rice and one fanam [പണം], and receives also some cocoanut and gingelly (Sesamum) oil. Much the same things are given to the washerwoman. The second ceremony is just like the first, but, even after its completion, the women of the house cannot touch any cooking-vessels until after the fifteenth day. The ceremony of touching the cooking pots, as at the time of the first menstrual period, is then performed. These three purificatory ceremonies must be performed after every birth.

On the twenty-seventh or fortieth day after the birth of a child, the mother and the infant are taken back to the husband’s house, and cow’s milk is for the first time given to the child. This event, which has all the solemnity of a regular function, takes place in the middle room, where the lamp, mat and other articles have been arranged. The child’s paternal grandfather, father’s elder brother, or other senior man administers the milk, which has been boiled. A gold bracelet is dipped in it, and the drops of milk are made to fall into the child’s mouth. As this is being done, the celebrant whispers in the child’s right ear the name which will be formally given to it in the sixth month. The eldest son is always named after the paternal grandfather, and the second after the father. In like manner, the eldest girl is named after its own mother. Relations and friends take this opportunity to make presents of bracelets and other articles to the infant. A feast is then held. After the ceremony is over, the parents of the child’s mother have to send about half a bag of rice flour mixed with jaggery to her husband’s house.

For the first six months of its life, a child’s food consists of nature’s fount and cow’s milk. It is then, before the sixth month is over, given boiled rice for the first time. The ceremony takes place either in the middle room of its father’s house, or at a temple. The child’s grandfather, or the eldest male member of the family, sits on a mat, and takes the child in his lap. With a gold ring he applies honey three times to its mouth, and then serves it a little rice three times. Female relations who are present follow his example, giving the child first honey, and then rice. Several women, with the lighted lamp and other articles, carry the child into the yard, to show it the sky. They go round a cocoanut tree, and stand before the front door, facing west. An elder among the women of the house stands at the front door, calls out the name of the child three times, and asks it to come inside. The relations give little presents of ornaments, and there is a feast.

It will be observed that even a child’s life is not entirely free from ceremonial. When it has grown up, it undergoes more of it, and, when it has lived its course on earth, is the subject of still more ceremonial long after it is dead. All these affairs involve some expenditure, but the one which literally runs away with money is marriage. The others are not extravagances, nor are they as costly as might be implied from the continual feasting of a large number of people. We must not think of these feasts as of a banquet at the Carlton, but as simple affairs, at which simple people are content with simple though pleasing fare.

When a child is provided by nature with teeth, it is the subject of a little ceremony, during which it is expected to disclose its natural propensities. The usual mat and other articles are arranged, and there are in addition a large flat bell-metal plate containing a rice cake, a knife, a palmyra leaf grantham [ഗ്രന്ഥം]  (book), a cocoanut, and a gold ornament. The child is let loose, and allowed to pick out anything from the plate. If it takes the cake, it will be greedy ; if the knife, brave ; if the book, learned ; if the cocoanut, a landlord ; and, if the gold ornament, rich.

A child’s head is shaved in the third or fifth year. The barber, who performs the operation, is allowed to take away the rice which, with the lamp, is at hand. He also receives a fanam [പണം] and a new cloth. The people of the child’s mother bring rice cakes.

The last day of the Dasara [ദസറ] festival in the fifth year of a child’s life is that on which instruction in the alphabet begins. A teacher, who has been selected with care, or a lucky person holds the child’s right hand, and makes it trace the fifty-one letters of the Malayālam [മലയാളം] alphabet on raw rice spread on a plate. The fore-finger, which is the one used in offering water to the souls of the dead and in other parts of the death ceremonies, must not be used for tracing the letters, but is placed above the middle finger, merely to steady it. For the same reason, a doctor, when making up a pill, will not use the fore-finger. When, later on, the child goes to the village school, the fifty-one letters are written one by one on its tongue with a gold style, if one is available. As each letter is formed, the child has to repeat the sound of it.

The lobes of both a child’s ears are bored with a golden pin or a thorn. The helix of the ear is not bored for the purpose of inserting ornaments in it, but is sometimes bored as a remedy for disease, eg., hernia. Everywhere else in Southern India, it is common for people of almost every class to have the helix of the left ear bored.

The tali-tying ceremony must be performed before a girl attains puberty. The Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] tāli [താലി] is usually of gold, and worth about half-a-crown. It is not the one which is worn in every day life, but the one which is used in the ceremony about to be described. Throughout Southern India, the tāli [താലി] is the ordinary symbol of marriage among Hindus, and it is even worn by Syrian Christians [സുറിയാനി ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികൾ]. In Malabar [മലബാര്‍], and the Native States of Cochin [കൊച്ചി] and Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], it is a symbol of marriage, with which a girl is ceremoniously adorned, as a rule before she is affianced. The ceremony occupies three days, on the last of which the tāli [താലി] is tied. On the first day, a shed or pandal [പന്തൽ] is erected in the front yard. Within it a similar structure is prepared with the leaves of an areca palm, which has been cut down at an auspicious moment, and with the formal sanction of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the tara. This inner pandal [പന്തൽ] is tastefully decorated with pictures and flowers. It is important to note that this little pandal [പന്തൽ] must not be begun until the first day of the ceremony. On this day, the carpenter of the tara brings a low wooden seat, rather long and narrow, made from the pala [പാല] [പാല] tree (Alstonia scholaris), which must be cut at an auspicious moment, for which he receives one fanam [പണം]. This seat is called mana [മണ] (Manavalan  [മണവാളന്] bridegroom ; Manavati = bride). A grass mat is spread in the middle room of the house, with a white cloth over it, on which the mana [മണ] is placed. A lamp, vessel of water, and the usual paraphernalia are arranged on the ground to the south close by. When these preliminaries have been completed, the girl is brought by the uncle’s wife to the pandal [പന്തൽ], and seated on a stool. In front of her, a lamp, and other things which are a feature in all ceremonials, and a measure of paddy are placed on the ground, a gold fanam [പണം] is put on her head, and over it gingelly oil is poured. As the coin falls from the forehead, it is caught in a cup. It is important which side falls uppermost. The girl is then taken to a pool for bathing, and returns to the pandal [പന്തൽ]. She is conducted to the middle room of the house in procession, with a silk canopy over her head and women carrying lamps, etc. She is confined in this room, which is decorated in the manner described when speaking of the menstruation ceremony, until the third day. She sleeps on a mat, surrounded by a little ridge of rice and paddy, cocoanut and areca palm flowers, and near her head is a copper pot marked with vertical daubs of white. The blacksmith of the tara brings a little stick, called charathkot, with an iron blade at one end, which is supposed to represent an arrow of Kāma [കാമദേവൻ]. This the girl keeps constantly at her side, and carries in her hand when compelled by nature to leave the room. While confined in the room, she is not allowed to eat fish, flesh, or salt, or see any animals, especially a cat, dog, or crow. On the third day, the tāli [താലി] is prepared on the spot by the village goldsmith. The girl’s uncle gives him the gold, which he melts, and works at in the pandal [പന്തൽ] at an auspicious moment. The paddy and rice, which, with the lamp and vessel of water, have been in evidence during the operations, are given to the goldsmith, with a fanam [പണം] for his labour. A weaver brings two new cloths, of a particular kind called mantra-kodi [മന്ത്രകോടി], for which the girl’s uncle pays. One is worn by the girl, and the mana [മണ] is covered with the other. The girl is taken to bathe, and, after the bath, is richly dressed and ornamented, and brought in procession, with a canopy over her head, to the house, where she is conducted to the inner room. The mana [മണ] is then placed, with the cloth near it, on a grass mat in the inner pandal [പന്തൽ]. The uncle’s wife sits on the mat, and the uncle lifts the girl, carries her three times round the pandal [പന്തൽ], and deposits her in his wife’s lap. The astrologer, who is present, indicates the moment when the tāli [താലി] should be tied. The girl’s father gives him a fanam [പണം], and receives from him a little rice, called muhurtham [മുഹൂര്തം] (auspicious time). When the psychological moment has arrived he sprinkles the rice on the girl’s head, saying “It is time.” The tāli [താലി] is then tied round the girl’s neck by the uncle’s wife. At the upper end of the tāli [താലി] is a ring, through which the thread passes. The thread which is used for the purpose is drawn from the cloth with which the mana [മണ] has been covered. [It is odd that there are some families of Nāyars [നായര്‍], who are not allowed to use a tāli [താലി] with a ring to receive the string, and are therefore obliged to make a hole in the tāli [താലി] itself.] As soon as the tāli [താലി] has been tied on the girl’s neck, a number of boys burst into song, praising Ganapathi [ഗണപതി] (the elephant god), and descriptive of the marriage of King Nala and Damayanti, or of Sri Krishna [കൃഷ്ണൻ] and Rukmani [രുക്മിണി]. Every one joins in, and the song ends with shouts and hurrahs. A mock feeding ceremony is then carried out. Three plantain leaves are spread in front of the girl in the pandal [പന്തൽ], and rice, plantains, and pappadams [പപ്പാടം]v are spread thereon. The uncle’s wife offers some of each to the girl three times, but does not allow her to touch it with her lips. The girl is then taken to a temple, to invoke the God’s blessing.

The description which has just been given is that of the ceremony which is performed, if the girl has not been affianced. If a husband has been arranged for her, it is he who ties the tāli [താലി], and his sister takes the place of the uncle’s wife. Otherwise the ceremony is the same, with this difference, however, that, when the husband ties the tāli [താലി], there can be no divorce, and the girl cannot remarry in the event of his death.

In North  [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], as in South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ], the tāli [താലി]-tying ceremony is always performed before puberty, and occupies four days. This is the orthodox procedure. The girl wears a cloth provided by the washer woman. She is taken from the middle room of the house to the yard, and there seated on a plank of pala [പാല] wood. Placed in front of her are a small measure of rice and paddy, a washed white cloth, and a small bell-metal vessel (kindi) on a bell-metal plate. The barber pours cocoanut water on her head, on which a silver and copper coin have been placed. One of her relations then pours water from a vessel containing some raw rice over her head, using two halves of a cocoanut as a spout. The girl is then taken back to the middle room, where she remains for three days. There is a feast in the evening. On the fourth day, a pandal [പന്തൽ] is erected in the front yard, and decorated. The girl is taken to bathe at a neighbouring pool, preceded by women carrying a lamp, a kindi of water, and other things which have been already described. During her absence, the barber performs pūja [പൂജ] to Ganapathi [ഗണപതി] in the pandal [പന്തൽ]. After bathing, she cuts a cocoanut in half, and returns in procession, with a silk canopy over her head, amid music and singing, and enters the middle room of the house. The barber woman ties a gold ornament (netti pattam) on her forehead, which she marks with sandal paste, and blackens her eyes with eye-salve. The uncle’s wife, preceded by women bearing a lamp and other articles, carries the mana [മണ], covered with cloth, from the middle room to the pandal [പന്തൽ]. She walks three times round the pandal [പന്തൽ], and places the mana [മണ] on a grass mat, over which has been spread some paddy and some rice where the girl will put her foot. The women who have carried the lamp, etc., return to the room, and escort the girl to the pandal [പന്തൽ]. She walks thrice round it, and takes her seat on the mana [മണ]. The barber hands her a little rice, which she throws on the lighted lamp, and articles which have been used in the pūja [പൂജ] to Ganapathi [ഗണപതി], and on the post supporting the south-west corner of the pandal [പന്തൽ]. This post should be of pala [പാല] wood, or have a twig of that tree tied to it. More rice is handed to the girl, and she throws it to the cardinal points of the compass, to the earth, and to the sky. A small earthen pot containing rice, a cocoanut, betel, and areca nuts, is placed near the girl. Into this a variety of articles, each tied up separately in a piece of plantain leaf, are placed. These consist of a gold coin, a silver coin, salt, rice, paddy, turmeric, charcoal, and pieces of an old cadjan leaf from the thatch of the house. The mouth of the pot is then covered over with a plantain leaf tied with string. The girl sprinkles rice three times over the pot, makes a hole in the leaf, and picks out one of the articles, which is examined as an augur of her destiny. Betel leaves and areca nuts are then passed twice round her head, and thrown away. She next twists off a cocoanut from a bunch hanging at a corner of the pandal [പന്തൽ]. Then follows the presentation of cloths called mantra-kodi [മന്ത്രകോടി]. These must be new, and of a particular kind. Each of her relations throws one of these cloths over the girl’s head. Half of them (perhaps ten or twelve) go to the barber, who, at this point, pours cocoanut water from the leaf of a banyan tree on her head, on which a silver and copper coin have been placed. The astrologer is then asked whether it is time to tie the tāli [താലി], and replies three times in the affirmative. The barber woman hands the tāli [താലി] strung on a thread to the girl’s uncle’s wife, who ties it round the girl’s neck. The barber woman then pours water on the girl’s hands. Three times the water is flung upwards, and then to the east, west, south, and north. A cotton wick, steeped in oil, is then twisted round a piece of bamboo, and stuck on a young cocoanut. The girl is asked if she sees the sun, looks at the lighted wick, and says that she does. She is then taken to a cocoanut tree, preceded by the lamp, etc. She walks three times round the tree, and pours water over the root. The ceremony is now concluded, and the girl is marched back to the middle room.

A variation of the tali-tying ceremony, as performed in Chavakad [ചാവക്കാട്] on the coast between Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്] and Cochin [കൊച്ചി], may be briefly described, because it possesses some interesting features. It is always done by the intended husband, or some one representing him. Seven days prior to the beginning of the ceremony, the carpenter of the tara, with the permission of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] (here called Avakāsi), cuts down an areca palm, and fixes part of it as the south-east post of the booth, at which the tāli [താലി] will be tied. On the sixth day, the girl is formally installed in the middle room of the house. The carpenter brings a mana [മണ] of pala [പാല] wood, the cost of which is paid by the father, and does pūja [പൂജ] to it. The bridegroom’s party arrive. A lamp is lighted in the booth, which is at this time partly, but not entirely, made ready. Near the lamp are placed a measure of paddy, half a measure (nāzhi) of rice, a looking-glass, a kindi of water, and a wooden cheppu (a rude vessel with a sliding cover). The wives of the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] and uncle, together with some other women, bring the girl, and seat her on the mana [മണ]. The uncle’s wife parts her hair, and places a gold fanam [പണം] on her crown. The Tandān’s [തണ്ടാൻ] wife then pours a little oil on it over a leaf of the jāk tree three times. The other women do the same. The girl is then taken to a pool, and bathed. Before her return, the mana [മണ] should be placed ready for her in the middle room of the house. In the evening there is a feast. On the day but one following, the tāli [താലി] is tied. The last post of the booth is put up, and it is completed and decorated on the tali-tying day. A lamp, looking-glass, and other things are put in it. A grass mat is spread on the floor, and a kambli (blanket) and a whitewashed cloth are placed over it. On either side of it is placed a pillow. The bridegroom and his party wait in an adjoining house, for they must not appear on the scene until the psychological moment arrives. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] of the bridegroom’s tara, with a few friends, comes first, and hands over two cloths and ten rupees eight annas [അണ] to the bride’s Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. The girl is dressed in one of these cloths, and led to the booth, the bridegroom’s sister holding her by the hand. She sits on the mana [മണ], which has been brought, and placed on the cloth, by her uncle. The bridegroom comes in procession, carried on his uncle’s shoulders. The girl is still a child, and he is only a few years her senior. His uncle puts him down on the right side of the girl, after walking thrice round the booth. The girl’s uncle’s wife sits close to her, on the other side, on the mana [മണ]. Her father asks the astrologer three times if it is the proper time to tie the tāli [താലി], and is answered thrice in the affirmative. Then the boy bridegroom ties the tāli [താലി] on the girl’s neck. The boy and girl sing out a chorus in praise of Ganapathi [ഗണപതി], and end up with three loud shouts and hurrahs. Then the boy seats himself on the ground, outside the pillow. The girl is taken inside the house, and, after a general feast, is brought back, and seated on the mana [മണ], and rice and flowers are sprinkled. No money is paid to the uncle’s son, as at Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്]. The boy bridegroom pays eight annas [അണ] to his sister for leading the bride by the hand. When the marriage has been done by proxy, the boy bridegroom is selected from a tarwad [തറവാട്] into which the girl might marry. He stays at the girl’s house for three days, and, on the fourth day, the boy and girl are taken to a temple. A formal divorce is effected, and the boy is taken away.

It will not be worth while to attempt a description of the marriage ceremony of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] of North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], because there is none, or next to none. There the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] and all classes, including even the Muhammadan Mappillas [മാപ്പിള], follow the rule of marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം], or inheritance through females from uncle to nephew. The children have no right to their father’s property. Either party may annul the marital union at will, without awarding any compensation; and, as its infraction is easy and simple, so is its institution. Nor is there any rigid inquiry as to the antecedents of either party. It is an affair of mutual arrangement, attended with little formality. Proceeding to the girl’s house, accompanied by a few friends, the intending husband takes with him a couple of cloths, one for the girl, and the other for her mother. In parts of North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women wear an ornament called chittu (ring) in a hole bored in the top of the helix of each ear. The holes are bored in childhood, but the chittu is not worn until the girl forms a marital union with a man. The chittus are made on the spot at the time, in the marriage pandal [പന്തൽ] erected for the occasion, the girl’s uncle providing the gold. They are never removed during life, except in cases of dire distress. “To sell chittu” is equivalent to having become a pauper. It is supposed that, in olden days, the marriage ceremonies lasted over seven days, and were subsequently reduced to seven meals, or three and a half days, and then to one day. Now the bridegroom remains the first night at the bride’s house, and then takes her to his home. Before they leave, a cocoanut, the outer husk of which has been removed, is placed on a stool of pala [പാല] wood, and one of the bridegroom’s party must smash it with his fist. Some of the more orthodox in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] observe the formality of examining horoscopes, and a ceremony equivalent to the conjee-drinking ceremony which has been described, called achāra kaliāna, and the payment of kanam in the shape of forty-one fanams [പണം], instead of forty-two as in South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ]. In connection with fanams [പണം] it may be noted that the old gold fanam [പണം] is reckoned as worth four annas [അണ], whereas five silver or velli fanams [വെള്ളി പണം] make a rupee. Everywhere in rural Malabar [മലബാര്‍], calculations are made in terms of velli fanams [വെള്ളി പണം] thus:—

  • 10 pice [പൈസ] (1/12 of an anna [അണ]) = 1 velli [വെള്ളി].
  • 5 vellis [വെള്ളി] = 1 rupee.

Bazaar men, and those who sell their small stock at the weekly markets all about the country, arrange their prices in vellis [വെള്ളി].

When the death of a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] is expected, all the relations draw near, and await the fateful moment. The person who is about to die is laid on the floor of the middle room, for it is inauspicious to die on a cot. We will suppose that the dying man is a parent and a landlord. Each of the sons and daughters gives him a little conjee water, just before he passes away. At the moment of death, all the women bawl out in lamentations, giving the alarm of death. The Cheruman serfs in the fields join in the chorus, and yell out an unintelligible formula of their own. Absent relations are all formally invited. From the houses of the son’s wife and daughter’s husband are sent quantities of jak fruits, unripe plantains, and cocoanuts, as death gifts. One half of the husks of the cocoanuts is removed, and the other half left on the shell. After the cremation or burial, these articles are distributed among those present by the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], who receives an extra share for his trouble. When life is extinct, the body is placed with the head to the south, and the thumbs and big toes are tied together. It is then taken out into the yard, washed, bathed in oil, dressed in a new cloth, and brought back to the middle room. A cocoanut is cut in two, and the two halves, with a lighted wick on each, are placed at the head and foot. The house-owner spreads a cotton cloth over the corpse, and all the relations, and friends, do the same. Any one who wishes to place a silk cloth on the corpse may do so, but he must cover it with a cotton cloth. The body is then removed for burial or cremation, and placed near the grave or funeral pyre. It is the rural rule that elderly persons and karnavans of tarwads [തറവാട്] are cremated, and others buried. The barber, whose function it is to perform the purificatory rites, now removes, and retains as his perquisite, all the cloths, except the last three covering the corpse. As it is being borne away to the place of burial or cremation, water mixed with cow-dung is sprinkled behind it in the yard. The eldest son, who succeeds to the property and is responsible for the funeral ceremonies, then tears crosswise a piece of the cloth which has been placed over the corpse by the people of the house, and ties it round his forehead. He holds one end of the cloth while the barber holds the other, and tears off the piece. The barber then cuts three holes in the remainder of this cloth covering the body, over the mouth, navel, and pubes. A little water and rice are poured over a gold fanam [പണം] through the slit over the mouth. All who observe the death pollution, i.e., sons, grandsons, nephews, younger brothers and cousins, offer water and rice in the same manner, and walk three times round the grave or pyre. The barber then breaks a pot of water over the grave. No other ceremonial is observed on this day, on which, and during the night, rice must not be eaten. If the body has been cremated, a watch is kept at the burning ground for five days by Pānans [பாணர்], who beat drums all night to scare away the evil spirits which haunt such spots. Early on the second day, all who are under pollution are shaved. The operation is attended with some ceremonial, and, before it is commenced, a lighted lamp, a measure of rice and paddy on a plantain leaf must be at hand. The paddy and rice are a perquisite of the barber. Those who have been shaved bathe, and then follows the crow-feeding ceremony. Rice is boiled in a bell-metal vessel over a hearth prepared with three young cocoanuts. The eldest son, who tore the cloth of succession from the corpse, makes the rice into two little balls, places them on a plantain leaf, and offers them to the spirit of the departed by pouring libations of water on them over a blade of karuka [കറുക] grass. Men and women who are under pollution then do the same. The rice balls are eaten by crows. This little ceremony is performed daily until the eleventh or thirteenth day, when the period of death pollution comes to an end. If the eleventh day happens to fall on a Tuesday or Friday, or on any inauspicious day, the period is extended to the thirteenth day. When the period of death pollution is partly in one month, and partly in another, another death in the house within the year is expected. Preceding the sanchayanam, which occupies the fifth day, there is the lamp-watching on the previous night. In the south-east corner of the middle room, a little paddy is heaped up, and on it is placed a bell-metal plate with an iron lamp having five or seven lighted wicks on it. Under the lamp is a little cow-dung, and close to it is a bunch of cocoanut flowers. The lamp must be kept burning until it is extinguished on the following day. In the case of the death of a male, his niece watches the lamp, and in that of a female her daughter, lying near it on a grass mat. The sanchayanam is the first stage in the removal of death pollution, and, until it is over, all who come to the house suffer from pollution, and cannot enter their own house or partake of any food without bathing previously. When the body has been cremated, the fragments of calcined bones are collected from the ashes, and carried in procession to the sea, or, if this is far away, into a river. The members of the family under pollution then rub their bodies all over with oil, and the barber sprinkles a mixture of cow’s milk over their heads, using a blade of karuka [കറുക] grass as a spout. They then bathe, and the eldest son alone observes māttu [மாத்து]. The crow-feeding ceremony follows, and, when this is over, the three cocoanuts which were used as a hearth are thrown away. A large bell-metal vessel filled with water is now placed in the front yard before the door of the house. The barber carries the still burning lamp from the middle room, and sets it on the ground near the pot of water. The women who are under pollution come from the middle room, each carrying a lighted wick, walk thrice round the pot, and throw the wicks into the water. The woman who has watched the lamp puts four annas [അണ] into the pot, and the others deposit a few pies therein. The eldest son now lights a wick from the iron lamp which is about to be extinguished, and with it lights a lamp in the middle room. The barber then dips the iron lamp in the water, and picks out the money as his perquisite. The water is poured on the roots of a cocoanut tree. The bell-metal vessel becomes the property of the woman who watched the lamp, but she cannot take it away until she leaves the house after the pula-kuli [പുലകുളി] ceremony. When the lamp has been extinguished, a woman, hired for the occasion, is seated on a cocoanut leaf in the front yard. The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] pours oil on her head three times, and she receives a little betel and two annas [അണ]. She rises, and leaves the place without turning back, taking the pollution with her. Betel is then distributed. Those who provided the death gifts on the day of the death must on this day bring with them a bag of rice, and about four rupees in money. They have also to give eight annas [അണ] to the barber. A folded handkerchief is first presented to the^barber, who formally returns it, and receives instead of it the eight annas [അണ]. Before the people disperse, the day of the pula-kuli [പുലകുളി]  is settled. pula-kuli [പുലകുളി] , or washing away the pollution, is the final ceremony for putting off the unpleasant consequences of a death in a family. First of all, the members thereof rub themselves all over with oil, and are sprinkled by the barber with cow’s milk and gingelly oil. They then bathe. The barber outlines the figure of a man or woman, according to the sex of the deceased, with rice flour and turmeric powder, the head to the south, in the middle room of the house. The figure is covered with two plantain leaves, on each of which a little rice and paddy are heaped. Over all is spread a new cloth, with a basket containing three measures of paddy upon it. The eldest son (the heir) sits facing the south, and with a nazhi [நாழி] measures out the paddy, which he casts to the south, east, and west—not the north. He repeats the performance, using the fingers of the left hand closed so as to form a cup as a measure. Then, closing the first and fourth fingers firmly with the thumb, using the left hand, he measures some paddy in the same manner with the two extended fingers. Rice is treated in the same way. A nazhi [நாழி] of paddy, with a lighted wick over it, is then placed in a basket. The eldest son takes the nazhi [நாழி] in his left hand, passes it behind his body, and, receiving it with his right hand, replaces it in the basket. The wick is extinguished by sprinkling it with water three times. At the head of the figure on the floor is placed a clean cloth—the washerman’s māttu [மாத்து]. It is folded, and within the folds are three nazhis [நாழி] of rice. On the top of it a cocoanut is placed. In the four corners a piece of charcoal, a little salt, a few chillies, and a gold fanam [പണം] are tied. The eldest son, who is always the protagonist in all the ceremonies after death, lifts the cloth with all its contents, places it on his head, and touches with it his forehead, ears, each side and loins, knees and toes. He does this three times. The plantain leaves are then removed from the figure. A little turmeric powder is taken from the outline, and rubbed on the forehead of the eldest son. He then bows thrice to the figure, crossing his legs and arms so that the right hand holds the left ear, and the left the right ear, and touches the ground with the elbow-joints. It is no joke to do this. All this time, the eldest son wears round his forehead the strip torn from the cloth which covered the corpse. There is nothing more to be done in the middle room for the present, and the eldest son goes out into the yard, and cooks the rice for the final feed to the crows. Three nazhis [நாழி] of this rice must be pounded and prepared for cooking by the woman who watched the lamp on the fourth night after death. Having cooked the rice, the eldest son brings it into the middle room, and mixes it with some unrefined sugar, plantains and pappadams [പപ്പാടം], making two balls, one large and one small. Each of these he places on a plantain leaf. Then some pūja [പൂജ] is done to them, and offerings of rice are made over a gold fanam [പണം]. The balls are given to the crows in the yard, or, in some cases, taken to the sea or a river, and cast into the water. When this course is adopted, various articles must be kept ready ere the return of the party. These comprise a new pot containing water, a branch of areca blossoms, mango leaves, a kindi containing a gold fanam [പണം] or gold ring, a little salt and rice, each tied up in a piece of cloth, and a few chillies. The mouth of the pot is covered with a plantain leaf, and secured. There are also two stools, made of pala [പാല] and mango wood. The eldest son sits on one of these, and places his feet on the other, so that he does not touch the ground. The water in the pot is sprinkled with mango leaves by the barber to the north, south, east and west, and on the head of the son. The remainder of the water is then poured over his head. The barber then sprinkles him with cocoanut water, this time using areca blossoms, and makes him sip a little thereof. The barber makes a hole in the plantain leaf, and picks out the contents. The eldest son bathes, and after the bath there is a presentation of gifts. The barber, sitting in the verandah beside the son, first gives to each person under pollution a little salt and raw rice, which they eat. He then gives them a little betel leaf and a small piece of areca nut, and receives in return a quarter of an anna [അണ]. The eldest son chews the betel which he has received, and spits into a spittoon held by the barber, whose property it becomes. Then to the barber, who has been presented with a new mat to sit on and new cloth to wear before he seats himself in the verandah, are given an ear-ring such as is worn by Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women, a silk cloth, a white cotton cloth, and a few annas [അണ]. If the deceased has been cremated he is given six fanams [പണം], and, if buried, five fanams [പണം] as the fee for his priestly offices. On an occasion of this kind, several barbers, male and female, turn up in the hope of receiving presents. All who help during the various stages of the ceremonial are treated in much the same way, but the senior barber alone receives the officiating fee. It is odd that the barbers of the four surrounding villages are entitled to receive gifts of new cloths and money. Those under death pollution are forbidden to eat fish or flesh, chew betel, or partake of jaggery. The restriction is removed on the pula-kuli [പുലകുളി]  day. The last act for their removal is as follows. The barber is required to eat some jaggery, and drink some conjee. After this, the eldest son, the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], and a neighbour, sit on a mat spread in the middle of the house, and formally partake of conjee and jaggery. The pulakuli is then over.

It is a sacred duty to a deceased person who was one of importance, for example the head of a family, to have a silver image of him made, and arrange for it being deposited in some temple, where it will receive its share of pūja [പൂജ] (worship), and offerings of food and water. The new-moon day of the months Karkitakam [കര്‍ക്കടകം] (July-August), Tulam [തുലാം] (October-November), and Kumbham [കുംഭം] (February-March) is generally selected for doing this. The temples at Tirunelli [തിരുനെല്ലി] in Wynād [വയനാട്] and Tirunavayi, which are among the oldest in Malabar [മലബാര്‍], were generally the resting-places of these images, but now some of the well-to-do deposit them much further afield, even at Benares [वाराणसी] and Ramesvaram [இராமேஸ்வரம்]. A silver image is presented to the local Siva [ശിവൻ] temple, where, for a consideration, pūja [പൂജ] is done every new-moon day. On each of these days, mantrams [മന്ത്രം] are supposed to be repeated a thousand times. When the image has been the object of these mantrams [മന്ത്രം] sixteen thousand times, it is supposed to have become eligible for final deposit in a temple. It is this image which rests in the temple at Tirunavayi, or elsewhere.

An annual sradh ceremony is performed for the sake of the spirit of the deceased, at which crows are fed in the manner already described, and relations are fed. On the night of this day, some sweetmeats or cakes, such as the deceased was fond of during life, are offered to the spirit. A lamp is placed on a stool, and lighted in the middle room of the house, with a kindi of water and a young cocoanut near it. The cakes or sweetmeats are placed in front of the stool. Children sprinkle rice over it, and the door is shut for a quarter of an hour. The individual who feeds the crows should partake of only one meal, without fish or flesh, on the previous day. Another ceremony, which is necessary for the repose of the dead, is called badha-velichatu-variethal, or bringing out the spirit. It cannot be performed until at least a year after death, for during that period the spirit is in a sort of purgatory. After that, it may be invoked, and it will answer questions. The ceremony resembles the nelikala pregnancy ceremony. The performers are Pānans [பாணர்] or washermen. Some little girls are seated in front of a booth in the yard. The celebrant of the rite sings, invoking the spirit of the deceased. Late at night, one of the girls becomes possessed by the spirit, and, it is said, talks and acts just like the deceased, calling the children, relations and friends by name, talking of the past, and giving commands for the future conduct of the living members of the family. After this, the spirit is severed from earthly trammels, and attains heavenly bliss.

The wood used for the purpose of cremation is that of a mango tree, which must be cut down after the death. A little sandalwood and cuscus (grass) roots are sometimes added to the pyre. In these days, when the important and interesting features of ceremonial are fast disappearing, it is not surprising that dried cakes of cow-dung are superseding the mango wood.

Among other ceremonies, there is one called kutti pūja [കുട്ടി പൂജ], which is performed when a newly built house is taken charge of. Vastu Purusha [വാസ്തുപുരുഷ] is the name of the supreme being which, lying on its back with its head to the north-east and legs to the south-west, supports the earth. Or rather the earth is but a small portion of this vast body. Forests are its tiny hairs, oceans its blood-vessels, and the wind its breath. In this body are fifty-three deities, who are liable to disturbance when the surface of the earth is dug, when trees are felled, foundations laid, and a house built. These angry beings must be propitiated, or there will be untimely deaths, poverty, and sickness among the inmates. The ceremony is performed in the following manner. A square with fifty-three columns is made with rice flour in the middle room of the house, and each column is filled with yellow, red, and black powder. A plantain leaf is placed over it, and a few measures of paddy are set on the top of the leaf. On this is placed another leaf, with various kinds of grain, plantains, cocoanuts, and jaggery on it. The carpenter, who is the architect and builder of the house, then performs pūja [പൂജ] with flowers, incense and lights, and the troublesome imp-spirit Gulikan [ഗുളികൻ] is propitiated with toddy and arrack, and a fowl which is decapitated for him. Then all the workmen—carpenters, masons, and coolies—walk thrice round the house, breaking cocoa-nuts on the walls and doors, and howling in order to drive away all evil spirits which may by chance be lurking about the place. After this, they are all fed until they cry out “We are satisfied, and want no more.” They are given cloths and other presents, and the chief feature of the ceremony takes place. This is the formal handing over of the house by the carpenter. He hands it over to a third person, and never directly to the owner. It is not always easy to find a third person who is willing to undertake the responsibility, and who is at the same time suitable for the Gulikan [ഗുളികൻ] who is dispossessed of the house, and pursues him henceforth, following him who first receives charge of the house. He should be a man who brings luck, cheerful and contented, having a family, and not labouring under any disorder or sickness of body. There is, or was a few years ago, an old Nāyar [നായര്‍] living not far from Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്], who was much sought after to fulfil the functions of third person on these occasions, and all the houses he received prospered. The third person is generally a poor man, who is bribed with presents of cloths, money and rice, to undertake the job. He wears one of the new cloths during the ceremony. When the carpenter’s ceremonies have been completed, this man is taken to the middle room of the house, and made to stand facing the door, with each foot on a plantain leaf. Pieces of the thatch are tied to the four corners of his cloth. He shuts the door, opens it, and shuts it again. The carpenter calls from without, asking him whether he has taken charge of the house. He replies evasively “Have the carpenters and workmen received all their wages ? If they have, I take charge of the house.” The carpenter does not answer the question, for, if he did so, the mischief would be transferred to him through the house-owner. So he says “I did not ask you about my wages. Have you taken charge of the house ?” The man inside answers as before, adding “ otherwise not.” The carpenter again says “ I did not ask you about my wages. Answer me straight. Have you, or have you not taken charge of the house ?” The man inside replies “ I have taken charge of the house,” and opens the door. Taking in his hands the plantain leaves on which he stood, he runs away as fast as he can without looking back. This he must not do on any account. The people pelt him with plantains, and hoot at him as he runs, and water mingled with cow-dung is sprinkled in his path. After all this, cow’s milk is boiled with a little rice in the house, of which every one partakes, and the owner assumes charge of his house.

In the pre-British days, a few of the well-to-do families of Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] lived in houses of the kind called nalapura (four houses), having an open quadrangle in the centre. But, for the most part, the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]—slaves of the Nāyars [നായര്‍] and Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി]—lived in a one-roomed thatched hut. Nowadays, the kala pura usually consists of two rooms, east and west.

Toddy-drawing, and every thing connected with the manufacture and sale of arrack (country liquor) and unrefined sugar, form the orthodox occupation of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ]. But members of the community are to be found in all classes of society, and in practically all professions and walks of life. It is interesting to find that the head of a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] family in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] bears the title Cherayi Panikar, conferred on the family in the old days by a former Zamorin [സാമൂതിരി]. A title of this kind was given only to one specially proficient in arms. Even in those days there were Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] physicians, bone-setters, astrologers, diviners, and sorcerers.

It is easy to identify the toddy-tapper by the indurated skin of the palms, fingers, inner side of the forearms, and the instep. The business of toddy-tapping involves expert climbing, while carrying a considerable paraphernalia, with no adventitious aid other than can be got out of a soft grummet of coir to keep the feet near together, while the hands, with the arms extended, grasp the palm tree. The profession is rarely adopted before the age of eighteen, but I have seen a man who said he began when he was twelve years old. It is very hard work. A tapper can work about fifteen trees, each of which he has to climb three times a day. In the northern districts of the Madras Presidency, among the Telugu [తెలుగు] population, the toddy-drawers use a ladder about eight or nine feet in length, which is placed against the tree, to avoid climbing a third or a fourth of it. While in the act of climbing up or down, they make use of a wide band, which is passed round the body at the small of the back, and round the tree. This band is easily fastened with a toggle and eye. The back is protected by a piece of thick soft leather. It gives great assistance in climbing, which it makes easy. All over the southernmost portion of the peninsula, among the Shānāns [ சாணார்] and Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], the ladder and waist-band are unknown. They climb up and down with their hands and arms, using only the grummet on the feet. The Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] toddy-tapper’s equipment consists of a short-handled hatchet, about seven inches square, of thin iron, sheathed in a wooden case, and fastened to a waist-belt composed of several strings of coir yarn, to which is hung a small pot of gummy substance obtained by bruising the leaves of the aichil plant. A vessel holding a couple of gallons, made out of the spathe of the areca palm, is used for bringing down the toddy. Tucked into the waist-belt is a bone loaded with lead at either end, which is used for tapping the palm to bring out the juice. A man once refused to sell at any price one of these bones—the femur of a sambar (Cervus unicolor), which had such virtue that, according to its owner, it would fetch palm juice out of any tree. The garb of the tapper at work consists of a short cloth round the loins, and (always during the rains, and often at other times) a head-covering somewhat pointed in shape, made of the leaves of the cocoanut palm placed together as in a clinker-built boat, or of a rounded shape, made out of the spathe of the areca palm. The toddy-tapper should go through the show of reverence by touching the cocoanut tree with the right hand, and then applying his hand to the forehead, every time he prepares to climb a tree.

In connection with toddy-drawing, the following note occurs in the Gazetteer of Malabar [മലബാര്‍].

“The tapper and the toddy shopkeeper are generally partners, the former renting the trees, paying the tree-tax, and selling the toddy at fixed prices to the latter. Sometimes the shopkeeper pays both rent and tax, and the tapper is his servant paid by the bottle. The trees are rented half yearly, and the rent varies between Re. 1 and Re. 1-8-0 per tree. They are fit for tapping as soon as they come into bearing, but four years later and in the succeeding decade are most productive. They are seldom tapped for more than six months in the year, and the process, though it shortens the life of the tree, improves the yield of nuts in the rest of the year. The tapper’s outfit is neither costly nor elaborate. A knife in a wooden case, a bone weighted with lead (the leg bone of a sambhur for choice), a few pots, and two small rings of rope with which to climb complete the tale. Operations begin when the spathe is still enclosed by its sheath. Once a day the spathe is gently bruised on either side with the bone, and on the third and following days a thin slice is cut off the end twice a day. On the fifteenth day drawing begins, and the bruising ceases. Sheath and spathe are swathed for the greater part of their length in a thick covering of leaves or fibre ; the ends are still cut off twice or three times a day, but, after each operation, are smeared with a paste made of leaves and water with the object, it is said, of keeping the sap from oozing through the wound and rotting the spathe. The leaves used for this purpose are those of the eechal or vetti tree, which are said to be one and the same (Aporosa Lindleyana [(Wight) Baill.]); but in British Cochin [കൊച്ചി], where the tree does not grow, backwater mud is utilised. Round the space between the end of the sheath and the thick covering of leaves a single leaf is bound, and through this the sap bleeds into a pot fastened below. The pot is emptied once a day in the morning. The yield of sap varies with the quality of the tree and the season of the year. In the hot months the trees give on an average about a bottle a day, in the monsoon and succeeding months as much as three bottles. In the gardens along the backwaters, south of ChēttuvAyi, Messrs. Parry & Co. consider that in a good year they should get a daily average of three bottles or half a gallon of toddy per tree. A bottle of toddy sells for three or four pies.”


In connection with the coir industry, it is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar [മലബാര്‍], that

“the husks of the cocoanuts are buried in pits as near as possible to the waterline of rivers, backwaters and creeks, and are left to soak for six months, a year, or even eighteen months —the longer the better. The colour of the yarn, and thereby the quality, depends very much on the water in which the husks are steeped. It should be running water, and, if possible, fresh water. If the water be salt, the yarn may at first be almost white, but in a damp climate it soon becomes discoloured and blotchy. As soon as the husks are taken out of the pits, the fibre is beaten out with short sticks by Tiyattis (Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] females) and women of the Vēttuvan caste. It is dried in the sun for twelve hours, and is then ready for sale to native merchants at Calicut [കോഴിക്കോട്] and Cochin [കൊച്ചി], who in their turn deal with the European firms. The fibre is twisted into yarn by Tiyattis and other women, and in that form the greater part of the coir made in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] is exported from Cochin [കൊച്ചി] to all parts of the world, but chiefly to the United Kingdom and Germany.”

It has been said that

“in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] the preparation of coir is a regular cottage industry of the most typical kind. Throughout the year, wherever one goes, one hears the noise of the women hammering out the fibre, and sees them taking, in the evening, that part of it which they have rolled into yarn to the nearest little wayside shop, to be exchanged for salt, chillies, paddy, etc. But, in the north of the district, nothing of the kind goes on, and the coir is commonly used as fuel.”

It has been already stated that marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം], or inheritance through nephews, is the invariable rule in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ], being followed even by the Muhammadan Mappillas [മാപ്പിള]. In South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ], where the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] do not observe marumakkatāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം], the property devolves through the sons. All sons share alike. Daughters have no share. The practice of polyandry, which still exists in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] among the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] (and other classes), and which was probably once general, tends to prevent dispersion of the family property. Although theoretically all sons share the property of their father, it is the eldest son who succeeds to possession and management of the tarwad [തറവാട്] property. The others are entitled to maintenance only, so long as they remain in the same tarwad [തറവാട്] house. It is the same among the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ].

Beef, as in the case of all Hindus, is forbidden as an article of diet. The staple food is rice with fish curry. The common beverage is conjee, but this is being supplanted by tea, coffee, lemonade, and soda-water.

A loin-cloth, which should not reach to the knees, with a Madras handkerchief on the shoulders, is the orthodox dress of the males, and a double loin-cloth that of females. Women were not allowed to wear anything above the waist, except when under death pollution. Any colour might be worn, but white and blue are most common. A ring, composed of hollow gold beads, called mani-kathila, is the proper ornament for a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] woman’s ear. Twenty or thirty, with a pendant in the middle, might be worn. Gold or silver bracelets could be worn. Hollow silver bracelets were worn by girls until the birth of their first child. But times have changed, and nowadays Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women wear the ornaments which, strictly speaking, appertain to Nāyar [നായര്‍] and Brāhman women. Their mode of tying the hair, and even their dress, which is inclined to follow the fashion of the Christians, has changed. In olden days, a Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] woman could wear an ornament appropriate for a Nāyar [നായര്‍] on a special occasion, but only with the permission of the Nāyar [നായര്‍] landlord, obtained through the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], on payment of a fee.

In North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] a good round oath is upon Perumāl Iswaran, the God of the shrine at Kōtiyur [കൊട്ടിയൂര്‍]. In South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ] it is common to swear by Kodungallūr Bhagavati [കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂർ ഭഗവതീ], or by Guruvayūr Appan [ഗുരുവായൂരപ്പന്‍], local deities.

The Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ] is the principal person in the tara, to decide all caste disputes. In South Malabar [സൗത്ത് മലബാർ], he is, as a rule, appointed by the senior Rāni [രാജ്ഞി] of the Zamorin [സാമൂതിരി]. A fee of anything up to 101 fanams [പണം] (Rs. 25-4-0) must be paid to this lady, when she appoints a Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ]. When there is a problem of any special difficulty, it is referred to her for decision. In territories other than those within the power of the Zamorin [സാമൂതിരി], the local Rāja [രാജാവ്] appoints the Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], and gives the final decision in special cases. As we have seen, the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] is always to some extent subordinate to a Nāyar [നായര്‍] overlord, but he is not bound to any particular one. He can go where he likes, and reside anywhere, and is not bound to any particular chief, as is the Nāyar [നായര്‍]. It is noted by General E. F. [Edmund Francis] Burton [An Indian Olio], in connection with bygone days, that

“such was the insolent pride of caste that the next (and very respectable) class of Hindus, the Teers [ടിയാൻ], were not allowed to come near the Nairs [നായര്‍], under penalty of being cut down by the sword, always naked and ready.”

In connection with the religion of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], I may commence with an old tradition, which is no doubt from a Brāhmanic source. Once upon a time there were seven heavenly damsels, who used to bathe every day before dawn in a lake situated in a forest. Siva [ശിവൻ] found this out, and appeared as a fire on the bank, at which the girls warmed themselves. Having thus lured them, the God made all of them mothers. Seven beautiful boys were born, and  Siva [ശിവൻ] presented them to Parvati [പാർവ്വതി], who treated them as if they were her own sons. They were taken to mount Kailasa [കൈലാസം], and employed in preparing toddy for the mysterious and wonderful Sakti [ശക്തി] worship. Daily they brought the toddy at the moment when it was required for the golden pot. Parvati [പാർവ്വതി] embraced the boys all at once, and they became one. On a certain day, this boy sent the sacred toddy in charge of a Brāhman, who became curious to know the virtues of the mysterious liquid. As he rested on a river bank thinking about it, he drank a little, and filled the vessel up with water. Then he reached Kailasa [കൈലാസം] too late for the daily worship.  Siva [ശിവൻ] was angry, and ordered the Saunika boy (Parvati's [പാർവ്വതി] name for him) to be brought before him. But the boy had been told what had happened, and cut off the head of the Brāhman, who had confessed to him. Seeing the boy coming along carrying a Brāhman’s head,  Siva [ശിവൻ] was astonished, and commanded him to approach nearer. The boy explained that it was not a heinous crime to cut off the head of one who had prevented the Sakti [ശക്തി] worship.  Siva [ശിവൻ] said that the killing of a Brāhman was the worst of crimes, and put the perpetrator out of caste. He would not listen to the boy, who replied that whoever prevented Sakti [ശക്തി] worship was a Chandala, and condemned him. The boy asked for death at  Siva’s [ശിവൻ] hands. The request pleased the God, who forgave him. The boy had to remain out of caste, but was initiated into the mysteries of Sakti [ശക്തി] worship as the surest means of salvation, and to him was given the exclusive privilege of performing Sakti [ശക്തി] worship with liquor. He was commanded to follow, and imitate the Brāhmans in everything, except in the matter of repeating the sacred mantrams [മന്ത്രം]. By tantrams [തന്ത്രം] (signs with the hands) he eventually obtained the merit of making pūja [പൂജ] with mantrams [മന്ത്രം]. He was the first Tīyan [ടിയാൻ].

It is pretty safe to say that all the ideas of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] connected with pure Hinduism—the Hinduism of the Vēdas—and of tradition, of which we see very little in Southern India, and which in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] is more perverted in confused ideas than perhaps elsewhere, those relating to re-birth, karma, pilgrimages to Benares [वाराणसी] and distant temples are borrowed from the Brāhmans. In the ceremonies which have been described, notably in those connected with marriage and death, we have seen the expression of many Hindu ideas. Not so is all that relates to offerings to the dead. That is the common property of all the children of men.

A main feature in the religion of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] is that it is largely connected with Sakti [ശക്തി] worship. Some Brāhmans indulge therein, but they are unable, like the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], to use arrack in connection with it, and are obliged to use, instead of this requisite, milk or honey.  Siva [ശിവൻ], not exactly a Vēdic entity, and Sakti [ശക്തി], are supposed to be the two primordial and eternal principles in nature. Sakti [ശക്തി] is, perhaps, more properly the vital energy, and Sakti [ശക്തി] worship the worship of the life principle in nature. We are not considering the abstract meaning of the term Sakti [ശക്തി] ; nor are we now thinking of the  Siva [ശിവൻ] of Monier Williams or Max Müller. We are in Malabar [മലബാര്‍], where the Hinduism of the Vēdas is in almost hopeless confusion, and mingled with animism and nearly every other kind of primitive religious idea. It is not therefore at all an easy task to represent in words anything like a rational conception of what the religion of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] really is. The poor and ignorant follow, in a blind ignorant way, Hinduism as they know it and feel it. Their Hinduism is very largely imbued with the lower cult, which, with a tinge of Hinduism, varied in extent here and there, is really the religion of the people at large all over Southern India. The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] have a large share of it. To the actions of evil and other spirits are attributable most, if not all of the ills and joys of life. The higher Hinduism is far above them. Nevertheless, we find among them the worship of the obscure and mysterious Sakti [ശക്തി], which, unfortunately, is practiced in secret. Nobody seems to be in the least proud of having anything to do with it. In fact, they are rather ashamed to say anything about it. Those who, so to speak, go in for it are obliged to undergo preliminary purificatory ceremonies, before the great mystery can be communicated to them. The mantram [മന്ത്രം], which is whispered by the guru [ഗുരു] (religious preceptor) in the ear of the devotee is said to be “Brahma aham, Vishnu aham, Bhairavu aham” [ബ്രഹ്മാ അഹം വിഷ്ണു അഹം ഭൈരവ അഹം] (I am Brahma, I am Vishnu, I am Bhairavan). It is believed that each individual is a spark of the divinity. Having in him the potentiality of the Supreme Being, he can develop, and attain godhood. There is no distinction of caste in Sakti [ശക്തി] worship. The devotees may belong to the highest or to the lowest castes, though I doubt very much whether the Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] Brāhmans indulge in it.

The novices, of whatever caste, eat and drink together during the period of pūja [പൂജ]. Men and women participate in the secret rites. A solemn oath is taken that the mystery of Sakti [ശക്തി] will not be revealed, except with the permission of the guru [ഗുരു], or on the death-bed. The spirit of the goddess (for Sakti [ശക്തി] is thought of as the female principle) must be withdrawn from the body of the Sakti [ശക്തി] worshipper when he is at the point of death. A lamp is lighted beside him. A few leaves of the tulsi [തുളസി] plant (Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum L.]), a little rice, and a lighted wick are given to the dying man. Holding these things, he makes three passes over his body from head to foot, and, as it were, transfers the spirit to the next man, at the same time communicating his wishes about continuing the worship, and so on. When a man dies before this separation or transfer has been accomplished, a Brāhman must be called in, who, with a silver image representing the deceased, makes symbolic transference of the Sakti [ശക്തി] spirit. It must be done somehow, or the soul of the deceased cannot attain salvation. It is said that, like many other things in this land, Sakti [ശക്തി] worship has undergone degeneration, that such lofty ideas and feelings as may have once pervaded it have more or less disappeared, and that the residue is not very edifying. Be this as it may, in every tara there is a Bhagavati [ഭഗവതീ] temple for Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], where Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] officiate as priests. The Komaram [കോമരം] (oracle) of the Bhagavati [ഭഗവതീ] temple is clothed in red, and embellished with red sandal paste mixed with turmeric. Bhagavati [ഭഗവതീ] is always associated with various jungle spirits or gods, whose Komarams [കോമരം] always wear black. There is no daily worship in Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] temples, with the exception of a few in the neighbourhood of Cannanore [കണ്ണൂര്‍]. But there is an annual celebration of pūja [പൂജ] during the mannalam (forty day) period, commencing on the first of the month Vrischikam [വൃശ്ചികം] (15th November). Lamps are lighted, and worship is begun on this day, and continued for forty days. At its conclusion, the jungle gods retire to the jungle until the next year. A death in the family of a Komaram [കോമരം] involves, I believe, some postponement of the rites. The period is supposed to be first part of the functional activity of the earth, which, ends somewhere about the 21st of June. It is during this period that Sakti [ശക്തി] worship is carried on.

The temple of Subramania [സുബ്രഹ്മണ്യൻ] at Palni [பழனி] in the Madura [மதுரை] district is a favourite objective for Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] pilgrims. The subject of pilgrimages to this temple has been touched on in my note on the Nāyars [നായര്‍] (see Nāyar). The Bhagavati [ഭഗവതീ] temple at Kodungallur [കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍]] in Cochin [കൊച്ചി] territory on the coast is another favourite place of pilgrimage among the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]. All classes of people, with the exception of Brāhmans, undertake this pilgrimage. Everyone under a vow, proceeding to the festival, which takes place in February or March, carries with him a cock, which is beheaded at the shrine. Under the Perumāls [பெருமாள்], pilgrimage to Kodungallur [കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍] was somewhat compulsory. This temple was a fruitful source of revenue to the State, for not only the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], but the fisherman and artisan castes had their own temple in every tara in the land, and the Mūppan [മൂപ്പൻ]—the Komaram [കോമരം]—of each temple was under an obligation to contribute yearly gifts to the temple at Kodungallur [കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍]. Rent for the temple lands was set at a nominal figure—a mere pepper-corn rent as acknowledgment of sovereign right. Rent might not be paid in times of trouble, but the gifts eked out of superstition were unfailing. It is not surprising, therefore, that learning and advancement among the inferior castes did not receive much encouragement from the rulers of those days.

The temple of Kotiyūr [കൊട്ടിയൂ​ർ] in North Malabar [വടക്കേ മലബാർ] is also a shrine to which Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] make pilgrimage. Indeed, it may be said that they follow Hinduism generally in rather a low form, and that Sakti [ശക്തി] worship is perhaps more peculiarly theirs than others’, owing to their being able to use arrack, a product of the palm, and therefore of their own particular metier. The highest merit in Sakti [ശക്തി] can be reached only through arrack. The Sakti [ശക്തി] goddess, Bhagavati [ഭഗവതീ], the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] look upon as their own guardian spirit.

As instancing the mixture and confusion of religious ideas in Malabar [മലബാര്‍], it may be mentioned that Māppillas [മാപ്പിള] have been known to indulge in Sakti [ശക്തി] worship, and Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] to have made vows, and given offerings at Māppilla [മാപ്പിള] mosques and Christian churches. Vows to the well-known mosque at Mambram are made by people of almost every caste. It is not uncommon to present the first fruit of a jāk tree, or the milk of a cow when it brings forth its first calf, to the local Tangal or Māppilla [മാപ്പിള] priest.

In many, perhaps in most Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] houses, offerings are made annually to a bygone personage named Kunnath Nāyar, and to his friend and disciple Kunhi Rāyan, a Māppilla [മാപ്പിള]. It is probable that they excelled in witchcraft and magic, but, according to the story, the Nāyar [ [നായര്‍]] worshipped the kite until he obtained command and control over all the snakes in the land. The offerings are made in order to prevent accidents from snakes. The snake god will also give children to the family, and promote domestic prosperity. Men without offspring worship him. Leprosy and the death of a child are believed to be the consequence of killing a snake. There are Māppilla [മാപ്പിള] devotees of Kunnath Nāyar and Kunhi Rāyan, who exhibit snakes in a box, and collect alms. There is a snake mosque near Manarghāt [മണ്ണാർക്കാട്], at the foot of the Nilgiri [നീലഗിരി] hills, which has its annual festival. The alms are collected ostensibly for this mosque.

An interesting story, which is the legendary account of the exodus of the artisans from Malabar [മലബാര്‍], and their return with the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], is narrated by the Pānans [பாணர்]. There were, in olden times, five recognised classes, which includes the Āsaris [ആശാരി] (carpenters), Musāris (workers in bell-metal), Thattāns (goldsmiths), and Perin-Kollans [കൊല്ലന്] (blacksmiths). The fifth class is unknown. When an individual of the artisan classes dies, the Pānan [பாணர்] of the tara must bring a death gift to the house, which consists of cocoanuts and jak fruits or plantains. The Pānan [பாணர்] places the gift in the yard and repeats a long formula, which he has learnt by heart. It is very likely that he knows little or nothing of its meaning. But he reels it off, and at its conclusion the gifts are accepted. The same formula is also always repeated among the carpenters, goldsmiths, and blacksmiths during wedding and tali-tying ceremonies. It relates how the artisans deserted the land of Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்], and sought an asylum in the country of the Izhuvans [ഈഴവർ] with the island king, and how the Perumāl [பெருமாள்] sent the Pānan [பாணர்] to bring them back. Every one knows this old story, and believes it firmly. It must be learnt by heart, and the Pānan [பாணர்] gives it in the yard when a member of the artisan classes dies. 1 he story is to the following effect. During the four Yugams [യുഗം], Kreta [കൃതയുഗം], Treta [ത്രേതായുഗം], Dwapara [ദ്വാപരയുഗം], and Kali [കലിയുഗം], many kings reigned over the earth. Parasu Rāman [പരശുരാമൻ] destroyed the Kshatriya [ക്ഷത്രിയൻ] kings on twenty-one occasions, and was obliged to make atonement in expiatory ceremonies. He worshipped Varuna [വരുണൻ], the ocean god, and recovered from the sea a hundred and sixty kathams [കാതം] of land, consisting of Kōlanād (?), Vēnād [വേണാട്] (Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]), Kanya Kumāri [கன்னியாகுமரி] (Cape Comorin), Chēranād, and Malayālam [മലയാളം] up to Changala Vazhi beyond the Anaimalai [ஆனைமலை] hills. Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்] was the ruler of this land, in which were the four castes. His capital was at Tiruvanja Kolam. One day, Veluthēdan Chiraman (The washerman of the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] and Nāyars [നായര്‍] is called Veluthēdan) was washing the Perumāl’s cloths in a tank. He beat the cloths on a stone which was flat on the ground, and held one of the cloths in his hand. A girl of the carpenter caste, Ayyesvari by name, was just then going to the tank to bathe after her monthly period. She called out

“Ho! Kammal (Nāyars [നായര്‍] are addressed as Kammal by Tiyans [[ടിയാൻ]] and artisans). That is not the way to wash cloths. Put a small stone under one end of your washing stone, so as to make it slope a little. Then hold both ends of the cloth in your hand, and beat the middle of the cloth on the stone.”

The Veluthēdan did so, and found that he washed better, and the cloths were whiter. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  asked him

“Were you not washing the cloths before ? Who washed them to-day ?”

 To which the Veluthēdan replied

“Oh! Tamburān (chief or lord), a carpenter girl instructed your slave to-day how to wash cloths properly. May Perumāl [பெருமாள்] be pleased to order the girl to be given to your slave as his wife.”

Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  then said

“To whatever caste she may belong, you may take her by force, and will not lose your caste.”

Having received the king’s permission, Veluthēdan Chiraman concealed himself near the carpenter’s house, and, when the girl opened the door to sweep the yard at dawn, he seized her, and carried her off to his house. Carpenter Sankaran of Tiruvanja Kalam went to the Perumāl [பெருமாள்] , and complained that Veluthēdan Kammal had carried away his daughter, and disgraced him. He asked the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  whether he would give him an armed guard to rescue her. To which the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  replied

“I will not help either party with armed men. You must fight it out among yourselves.”

Then the five classes of artisans consulted one another, and made common cause. The Pānans [பாணர்], Perin Malayans, and Chēn (red) Koravans joined the artisans. The Ven Thachāns, Vēlans, Paravans, Vēttuvans, Kanisan Panikars, and the Pāndi Pulluvans of Vellālanād joined the other side. There was war for twelve years. In the end, the artisans were defeated. They said among themselves

“We have been defeated by the fourteenth caste of Veluthēdan Nāyar [നായര്‍], who carried away our daughter. Let us leave this country.”

So 7,764 families, with the women and children, tied up their mats, and left Chēraman Perumāl's [சேரமான் பெருமாள்] country, and went to Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] [ഈഴവർ] land, which was beyond it. They went before the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king (island king), and told him their story. Now Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்]  used to be shaved every fifteen days. When the barber (Velakathalavan) was sent for, he came without his knife (razor), as his wife had buried it. He said

“Oh ! Tamburan, have mercy on your slave. Your slave’s knife was given to the blacksmith to be mended, and he took it away with him. He gave me this piece of iron, saying “If you want the knife made ready for use, you must come to the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] [ഈഴവർ] land for it, and we will mend it on our return.”

So Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  had to go without shaving, and his hair grew like a Rishi’s. As there were neither carpenters nor smiths to make implements, agriculture was almost at a standstill ; and, as there were no goldsmiths, the tali-tying ceremonies could not be performed. Nor could the rice-giving ceremony be done, for want of the “neck-rings.” Then Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்]   obtained advice, and resolved to send the Mannān [മന്നാൻ] (washerman of the Tīyans [ടിയാൻ]), who was included in the fourteenth caste, and the Pānan [பாணர்], who belonged to the eleventh caste. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  gave to each of them a thousand fanams [പണം], and told them to go to the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] [ഈഴവർ] country, and bring back the Kammālans (artisans). They wandered over various countries, stopping wherever they found a house. The Pānan [பாணர்], being clever, was able to live by his wits, and spent no money of his own. The Mannān [മന്നാൻ], on the contrary, spent all his money. They passed Ramapūri, and reached Trichivampuri. Then the Mannān [മന്നാൻ] asked the Pānan [பாணர்] for a loan, which was refused. On Friday at noon, the Mannān [മന്നാൻ] left the Pānan [பாணர்], saying

“The Pānan [பாணர்] is no companion for the Mannān [മന്നാൻ].”

He returned to the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  and reported his failure, and the Pānan's [பாணர்] refusal to lend him money. The Pānan [பாணர்] went on, crossing rivers, canals, and ferries, and at last reached the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king’s country. He entered the reception hall. At that moment, the king’s goldsmith, who had just finished making a golden crown for him, had put it on his own head, to test its suitability for wearing. The Pānan [பாணர்] thought he was the king, and made obeisance to him. The Kammālans recognised him. He discovered his mistake too late, for he had addressed the goldsmith as Tamburan. So, to this day, the Pānans [பாணர்], when addressing goldsmiths, say Tamburan. The Pānan [பாணர்] told the Kammālans of his mission, but they refused to return unless full reparation was made for the abduction of the carpenter girl, and certain social disabilities were removed. The 7,764 families of Kammālans asked the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king his advice, and he said that they should not go away. So the Kammālans sent the Pānan [பாணர்] back, and gave him the following presents, in order to demonstrate to the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  that they were in comfortable circumstances :—

  • Gold valam-piri (a sort of string worn over the right shoulder) ;
  • Silver edam-piri (a similar sort of string worn on the left shoulder) ;
  • Gold netti-pattam (to be tied on the forehead); Gold bracelet;
  • Gold ornament for the hair.

The Kammālans sent word to the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  that they would not return, unless they were given a girl in place of the carpenter’s daughter, who had been abducted, and certain privileges were granted to them. At the same time, they promised the Pānan [பாணர்] that they would share their privileges with him, if he was successful. So the Pānan [பாணர்] returned, and appeared before the Perumāl [பெருமாள்] , who asked him where the Kammālans were. The Pānan [பாணர்] removed his gold cap, and put it under his arm, and replied that they were prosperous, and not anxious to return. Saying so, he placed before the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  the rich presents given by the Kammālans, and told the king that they would not return, unless they were given a girl and certain concessions. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  told the Pānan [பாணர்] to go back, and invite the Kammālans to return on their own terms. He said they would catch the first girl they met on the way to his palace, and all their demands were granted. The Pānan [பாணர்] arrived again in the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] country, and told the Kammālans what the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  had said. They went to the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king, and obtained his permission to return to their own country. Then they caught an Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] boy, and confined him. The king asked them why they did so. They replied that they had lived for twelve years (The number twelve, so significant in Malabar)  as his subjects, and would never recognise any other king, so they wanted the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] boy to represent him. The king consented. When they started, the boy began to cry.

A Nasrāni [നസ്രാണി] (Nasrāni [നസ്രാണി] (Nazarene) is a term for Christians on the west coast), by name Thomma [തോമാ] (Thomas), was taken to accompany and protect the boy. The Kammālans travelled to their own country, and appeared before Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்] . On the way, they found a girl of the Variar caste plucking flowers, and caught her by the hand. All the five classes claimed her. At last it was resolved to unite her with the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] boy, their Tandān [തണ്ടാൻ], who represented their king, and treat her as their sister. Chēraman Perumāl [சேரமான் பெருமாள்]  confirmed his promise, and granted the following privileges to the Kammālans :—

  1. To make ceilings for their houses.
  2. To make upstairs houses to live in.
  3. To put up single staircases, consisting of one pole, in which notches are cut, or pegs are stuck alternately, for the feet.
  4. To have a gate-house.
  5. To perform the tali-tying ceremonies of their girls in a booth having four posts or supports; to place within it, on a stool, a looking-glass with a handle, and the Ramayana ; and to place a silk cloth on the girl’s head.
  6. To do arpu at the conclusion of the tali-tying ceremony (Vel ! Arpu ! is yelled out by the boys).
  7. To cook rice in copper vessels on occasions of marriage and other ceremonies, and to serve sugar and pappadams [പപ്പാടം] at their feasts.
  8. To hold the umbrella and taza (a sort of umbrella), which are carried in front of processions.
  9. 9.    To clap hands, and dance.
  10. 10. To keep milch-cows for their own use. 

Permission was further granted for the Kammālans to wear the following ornaments.

  1. Netti-pattam, worn on the forehead during the tali-tying ceremony.
  2. Ananthovi, a ear ornament named after Anandan, the endless, the serpent on which Vishnu reposes. The serpent is sometimes represented with its tail in its mouth, forming a circle, an endless figure. Ananthovi is the central pendant of the ear-ring worn by Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] women among their kathila (ordinary gold ear-rings). It resembles a serpent in form. It is worn by men of the Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] and artisan castes on special occasions.
  3. Waist zone or girdle.
  4. Bracelets.
  5. Anklet with two knobs, formed of two pieces screwed together.
  6. Puli-mothiram, or tiger’s claws mounted in gold, worn by children.
  7. Podippu, a knot of cotton-thread at the end of the string on which coins are hung as ornaments.
  8. Kalanchi, a gold knob above the podippu, which represents a flower.
  9. Necklace.
  10. Edakam and madkam-tali, neck ornaments, in one of which are set twenty-one stones.
  11. Cotton thread above the gold thread on the neck.

The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  conferred like privileges upon the family (Tiruvarankath) of the Pānan [பாணர்] who brought back the Kammālans. He wore all his ornaments, and made his obeisance to the Perumāl [பெருமாள்] . He had, however, taken off his gold cap. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  said “ What you have removed, let it be removed.” So he lost the privilege of wearing a gold cap. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  blessed the Kammālans, and they returned to their villages. They made a separate house for the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] boy and the Variar girl, and maintained them. The Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] boy, who was the first Tīyan [ടിയാൻ] to come to Malabar [മലബാര്‍], brought with him the cocoanut, and retained the right to cultivate and use it. To this day, the people of the serf castes—Cherumans, Kanakans, and the like—use the word Varian when addressing Tīyans [ടിയാൻ], in reference to their descent from the Variar girl.

The orthodox number of classes of Kammālans is five. But the artisans do not admit the workers in leather as of their guild, and say there are only four classes. According to them, the fifth class was composed of the copper-smiths, who did not return to Malabar [മലബാര്‍] with the others, but remained in Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] land. Nevertheless, they always speak of themselves as the Aiyen kudi or five-house Kammālans.

There is a variant of the legend of the exodus, told by the Āsaris [ആശാരി] (carpenters), which is worth narrating. Their version of the story is repeated among themselves, and not by the Pānan [பாணர்], at every marriage and tali-tying ceremony. They identify the village of the Perumāl's [பெருமாள்] washerman as Kanipayyūr [കാണിപ്പയ്യൂർ]. This is the name of a Nambūtiri's [നമ്പൂതിരി] illam [ഇല്ലം] in the Ponāni [പൊന്നാനി] tāluk of Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. The Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] is, it may be mentioned, considered to be the highest extant authority in architecture. Disputed points relating to this subject are referred to him, and his decision is final, and accepted by all carpenters and house-builders. The washerman’s stone is said to have been lying flat in the water. The girl Ayyesvari was also of Kanipayyūr [കാണിപ്പയ്യൂർ], and was carried off as in the former story. But there was no request for an armed guard to rescue her. The Perumāl [பெருமாள்]  was, instead, asked to make the washerman marry her, and thus avoid disgrace. He consented to do so, and all the 7,764 families of the five classes of Kammālans assembled for the wedding. An immense booth, supported on granite pillars, was erected. The washerman and his party were fed sumptuously. But the booth had been so constructed that it could be made to collapse instantaneously. So the Kammālans went quietly outside, and, at a given signal, the booth collapsed, and crushed to death the washerman and his friends. After this, the Kammālans fled, and remained one year, eight months and eleven days in the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] country. Negotiations were carried on through the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king, and the Kammālans returned under his guarantee that their demands would be complied with. The Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king sent his own men and the Nasrāni [നസ്രാണി] to the capital of the Perumāl [பெருமாள்]. The story of the exodus and the return was inscribed on granite stone with solemn rites, and in the presence of witnesses. This was buried at the northern gate of the Tiruvanchakulam [തിരുവഞ്ചിക്കുളം] temple on Friday, the eighth of the month of Kanni [കന്നി]. It was resolved that, in any case of doubt, the stone should be unearthed. And it was only after all this had been done that the Izhuva [ഈഴവർ] king’s envoy returned to him. Then the Kammālans came back to Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. According to the carpenters, the copper-smiths did not return. They say that eighteen families of Āsaris [ആശാരി] remained behind. Some of these returned long afterwards, but they were not allowed to rejoin the caste. They are known as Puzhi Tachan, or sand carpenters, and Patinettanmar, or the eighteen people. There are four families of this class now living at or near Parpangadi [പരപ്പനങ്ങാടി]. They are carpenters, but the Āsaris treat them as outcastes.

There is yet another variant of the story of the exodus, which is obviously of recent manufacture, for a Pattar  Brāhman is brought in, and gives cunning advice. We know that the Pattars are comparatively new comers in Malabar [മലബാര്‍].

The Tīyans [ടിയാൻ] have recently been summed up as follows (Indian Review, Oct. 1906).

“The Tiyas [ടിയാൻ] have always been characterised by their persevering and enterprising habits. A large percentage of them are engaged in various agricultural pursuits, and some of the most profitable industries of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] have from time out of mind been in their hands. They are exclusively engaged in making toddy and distilling arrack. Many of them are professional weavers, the Malabar [മലബാര്‍] mundu [മുണ്ട്] being a common kind of cloth made by them. The various industries connected with cocoanut cultivation are also successfully carried on by the Tiyas [ടിയാൻ]. For example, the manufacture of jaggery (crude sugar) is an industry in which a considerable number of the Tiyas [ടിയാൻ] are profitably engaged. The preparation of coir from cocoanut fibre is one of their hereditary occupations, and this is done almost wholly by their women at home. They are very skilful in the manufacture of coir matting and allied industries. Commercial pursuits are also common among them. Apart from their agricultural and industrial inclinations, the Tiyas [ടിയാൻ] give evidence of a literary taste, which is commendable in a people who are living under conditions which are anything but conducive to literary life. They have among them good Sanskrit scholars, whose contributions have enriched the Malayālam [മലയാളം] literature ; physicians well versed in Hindu systems of medicine ; and well-known astrologers, who are also clever mathematicians. In British Malabar [മലബാര്‍], they have made considerable progress in education. In recent years, there has been gaining ground among the Tiyas [ടിയാൻ] a movement, which has for its object the social and material improvement of the community. Their leaders have very rightly given a prominent place to industry in their schemes of progress and reform. Organisations for the purpose of educating the members of the community on the importance of increased industrial efforts have been formed. The success which has attended the Industrial Exhibition conducted by the members of the community at Quilon [കൊല്ലം], in 1905, has induced them to make it a permanent annual event. Some of their young men have been sent to Japan to study certain industries, and, on their return, they hope to resuscitate the dying local industries, and to enter into fresh fields of industry awaiting development. Factories for the manufacture of coir matting and allied articles have been established by the Tiyas [ടിയാൻ] in some parts of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] and Cochin [കൊച്ചി].”

In 1906, the foundation stone of a Tiya [ടിയാൻ] temple at Tellicherry [തലശ്ശേരി] was laid with great ceremony. In the following year, a very successful Industrial Exhibition was held at Cannanore [കണ്ണൂര്‍] under the auspices of the Sri Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam [ശ്രീനാരായണ ധർമ്മ പരിപാലന യോഗം]. Still more recently, it was resolved to collect subscriptions for the establishment of a hostel for the use of Tiya [ടിയാൻ] youths who come from other places to Tellicherry [തലശ്ശേരി] for educational purposes."

[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. 7. -- S. 36 - 116.]