2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Ūber Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

Beispiele zu: Fallensteller

Hrsg. von Alois Payer 

Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / ūbersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ  (Ūber Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker.  -- Beispiele zu: Fallensteller. -- Fassung vom 2017-09-26. --  URL:                                                        

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"Bestha.The Besthas are summed up, in the Madras [மதராஸ்] Census Report, 1891, as

“a Telugu [తెలుగు] caste, the hereditary occupation of which is hunting and fishing, but they have largely taken to agriculture, and the professions of bearers and cooks.”

In the Census Report, 1901, it is stated that

“the fisherman caste in the Deccan [దక్కన్] districts are railed Besthas and Kabbēras, while those in some parts of the Coimbatore [கோயம்புத்தூர] and Salem [சேலம்] districts style themselves Toreyar, Siviyar [சிவியார்], and Parivārattar. These three last speak Canarese like the Kabbēras, and seem to be the same as Besthas or Kabbēras. Kabbēra and Toreya have, however, been treated as distinct castes. There are two endogamous sub-divisions in the Bestha caste, namely the Telaga and the Parigirti. Some say that the Kabbili or Kabbēravāndlu are a third. The Parigirti section trace their descent from Sūtudu, the famous expounder of the Mahābhārata. Besthas employ Brāhmans and Sātānis [సాతాని] (or Jangams [ಜಂಗಮ /  జంగం], if Saivites [శైవ] ) for their domestic ceremonies, and imitate the Brāhman customs, prohibiting widow remarriage, and worshipping Siva [சிவன்] [శివ] and Vishnu [విష్ణువు] as well as the village deities. The Maddi sub-caste is said to be called so, because they dye cotton with the bark of the maddi tree (Morinda citrifolia)." 

It is suggested, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary [ಬಳ್ಳಾರಿ] district, that the Besthas are really a sub-division of the Gangimakkalu Kabbēras, who were originally palanquin-bearers, but, now that these vehicles have gone out of fashion, are employed in divers other ways. It may be noted that the Siviyars of Coimbatore [கோயம்புத்தூர] say that they are Besthas who emigrated from Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] in the troublous times of the Muhammadan usurpation. The name Siviyar [சிவியார்], they say, was given to them by the Tamils, as, being strong and poor, they were palanquin-bearers to officers on circuit and others in the pre-railway days. Their main occupations at the present day are tank and river fishing.

In the Manual of the North Arcot [வட ஆற்காடு]  district, it is noted that many Besthas

“trade, and are in a flourishing condition, being most numerous above the ghats. The name Bestha appears to have no meaning, but they call themselves Sūtakulam, and say they are descendants of the rishi Sūta Mahāmuni. The term Sūta also applies to the offspring of a Kshatriya by a Brāhman, but it seems more probable that the Besthas gained the name from their superiority in the culinary art, sūta also meaning cook. They are divided into Telugu [తెలుగు] Besthas and Parigirti Besthas, the difference between them being chiefly one of religious observance, the former being in the habit of getting themselves branded on the shoulders with the Vaishnavite [వైష్ణవ] emblems —chank and chakram— and the latter never undergoing this ceremony. It is a rule with them to employ Dāsaris [దాసరి] as the messengers of a death, and Tsākalas, as those of a birth, or of the fact that a girl has reached womanhood. Their chief object of worship is Hanumān [హనుమంతుడు], the monkey god, a picture or figure of whom they always have in their houses for domestic worship.”

In connection with the names Parigirti or Pakirithi which have been recorded as divisions of the Besthas, it may be observed that, in some parts of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, the term Pakirithi is used as a substitute for Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ]. This word has become converted into Parigirti or Parikithi, denoting that the Besthas are Vaishnavites, as opposed to Saivites [శైవ]. Some Besthas, when questioned as to the origin of their caste, said that they had no purandam to help them. The word used by them is a corruption of purānam [పురాణ].

The Besthas are summed up, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as

“fishermen, boatmen, and palanquin-bearers, who are known by different names according to the localities they live in. In the eastern districts they are called Bestha, in the southern Toraya, Ambiga and Parivara (boatmen), while in the western parts their names are Kabyara and Gangemakkalu. The Telugu [తెలుగు]-speaking population call themselves Boyis. Their chief occupations are fishing, palanquin-bearing, and lime-burning. Some of them are employed by Government as peons (orderlies), etc., while a large number are engaged in agricultural pursuits. The Boyis obey a headman called the Pedda (big) Boyi. The Toraya does not intermarry either with the Kabyara or the Boyi, whom he resembles in every way. The Kabyara or Karnatic Besthas proper never carry the palanquin, but live by either farming or lime-burning. They have a headman known as the Yajaman.”

I have often seen Besthas in Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] fishing on tanks from rafts, with floats made of cane or cork-wood supporting their fish-baskets. The Besthas use small cast-nets, and it is thought by them that the employment of drag-nets worked by several men would bring bad luck to them. When a new net is used for the first time, the first fish which is caught is cut, and the net smeared with its blood. One of the meshes of the net is burnt, after incense has been thrown into the fire. If a snake becomes entangled in a net when it is first used, it is rejected, and burnt or otherwise disposed of.

The tribal deity of the Telugu [తెలుగు] Besthas is Kāmamma, and, when this goddess is Worshipped, Māla [ಮಲ] Pambalas are engaged to recite the legendary story relating to her. They never offer the flesh of animals or liquor to the goddess.

Like other Telugu [తెలుగు] castes, the Besthas have inti-perulu or exogamous septs and gōtras [గోత్రం]. In connection with some of the latter, certain prohibitions are observed. For example, the jasmine plant (malle [మల్లె]) may not be touched by members of the malle gōtra [మల్లె గోత్రం], and the ippa [ఇప్ప] tree (Bassia latifolia [Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.) may not be touched or used by members of the Ippala gōtras [ఇప్పల గోత్రం]. Writing at the beginning of the last century, Buchanan (Journey from Madras [மதராஸ்] through Mysore, Canara and Malabar [മലബാര്‍]) informs us that

“everywhere in Karnata [ಕರ್ನಾಟ] the palanquin-bearers are of Telinga [తెలంగాణ] descent. In the language of Karnata [ಕರ್ನಾಟ] they are called Teliga Besthas, but in their own dialect they are called Bai. Their proper occupations, beside that of carrying the palanquin, are fishing, and distillation of rum. Wealthy men among them become farmers, but none of the caste hire themselves out as farm servants. Their hereditary chiefs are called Pedde Bui, which, among the Europeans of Madras [மதராஸ்], is bestowed on the headman of every gentleman’s set.”

In a note on the Bestha Boyis, or fishermen bearers of Masulipatam [మచిలీపట్నం] in the days of the East India Company, Mr. H. G. Prendergast writes (Ind. Ant. XVIII, 1889) that they were

“ found to be peculiarly trustworthy servants. When their English masters went on promotion to Madras [மதராஸ்], they were accompanied by their trusty Boyis, and, from that day to this, Bestha Boyis have been employed as attendants in public and mercantile offices in Madras [மதராஸ்], and have continued to maintain their good reputation.”

Of the use of the word Boy (a corruption of Boyi) for palanquin-bearer, numerous examples are quoted by Yule and Burnell (Hobson-Jobson). Thus Carraccioli, in his life of Lord Clive, records that, in 1785, the Boys with Colonel Lawrence’s palankeen, having struggled a little out of the time of march, were picked up by the Marattas [मराठा]. Writing in 1563, Barras states! that

“there are men who carry the umbrella so dexterously to ward off the sun that, although their master trots on his horse, the sun does not touch any part of his body and such men are called Boi.”

The insigne of the Besthas, as recorded at Conjeeveram [காஞ்சிபுரம], is a net. (J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant. IV, 1875)"

[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 [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 1. -- S. 218 - 222]

Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ]

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

There is a tradition that the tribe owes its name to the fact that its ancestors emigrated from the banks of the Godābari (Godāvari [గోదావరి]) river, and settled at Nandapur, the former capital of the Rājas of Jeypore [ଜୟପୁର]. The Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] have a language of their own, of which a vocabulary is given in the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం / ବିଶାଖାପାଟଣା] Manual. This language is included by Mr. G. A. [George Abraham] Grierson [1851 - 1941] (Linguistic Survey of India IV, 1906) in the Munda linguistic family.

The tribe is apparently divided into five sections, called

  • Bodo (big) or Gutōb,
  • Pārenga,
  • Olāro,
  • Kaththiri or Kaththara, and
  • Kāpu [కాపు].

Of these, the last two are settled in the plains, and say that they are Bodo and Olaro Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] who migrated thither from the hills. As among the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], so among the Savaras [ଲାଞ୍ଜିଆ], there is a section which has settled on the plains, and adopted Kāpu [కాపు] as its name. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, nearly a thousand Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] are returned as belonging to the Chenchu [చెంచులు] sub-division. Chenchu [చెంచులు] is the name of a separate jungle tribe in the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, and I have been unable to confirm the existence of a Chenchu [చెంచులు] sub-division among the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ].

In the Madras Census Report, 1871, Mr. H. G. Turner states that

“very much akin to the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] are a class called Kerang Kāpus  [కాపు]. They will not admit any connexion with them; but, as their language is almost identical, such gainsaying cannot be permitted them. They are called Kerang Kāpu [కాపు] from the circumstance of their women weaving cloths, which they weave from the fibre of a jungle shrub called Kerang (Calotropis gigantea)."

Mr. H. A. Stuart remarks (Madras Census Report, 1891) that

“the Kāpu Gadabas [కాపు గదబ] are possibly the Kerang Kāpus  [కాపు] mentioned by Mr. Turner as akin to the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], for I find no mention of the caste under the full name of Kerang Kāpu, nor is Kerang found as a sub-division of either Kāpu [కాపు] or Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ].”

Writing concerning the numeral system of the Kerang Kāpus  [కాపు], Mr. Turner observes that it runs thus: 

  1. Moi,
  2. Umbar,
  3. Jugi,
  4. O,
  5. Malloi,
  6. Turu,
  7. Gu,
  8. Tammar, 
  9. Santing,
  10. Goa,

and for eleven (1 and following numbers), they prefix the word Go, e.g.,

  1. Gommoi,
  2. Gombāro, etc. 

The Kerang Kāpus  [కాపు] can count up to nineteen, but have no conception of twenty. According to Mr. W. Francis, the only tribe on the hills which has this system of notation is the Bonda Poraja [ବଣ୍ଡା ଜନଜାତି]. The Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] have very similar names for the first five numerals ; but, after that, lapse into Oriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] , e.g.,

  1. sāt [ସାତ],
  2. āt [ଆଠ],
  3. nō [ନଅ],
  4. das [ଦଶ], etc.

The Bonda Poraja [ବଣ୍ଡା ଜନଜାତି] numerals recorded by Mr. Francis are

  1. mūyi, 
  2. baar,
  3. gii,
  4. oo,
  5. moloi,
  6. thiri,
  7. goo,
  8. thamām,

and so on up to nineteen, after which they cannot count. This system, as he points out, agrees with the one described by Mr. Turner as belonging to the Kerang Kāpus  [కాపు]. The Gutōb Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] numerals recorded by Mr. C. A. Henderson include muititti (1 + a hand), and martitti (2 + a hand).    .

Some Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] women wear a bustle or dress improver, called irrē or kittē. This article of attire is accounted for by the following tradition.

“A goddess visited a Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] village incognito, and asked leave of one of the women to rest on a cot. She was brusquely told that the proper seat for beggars was the floor, and she consequently decreed that thenceforth all Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] women should wear a bustle to remind them to avoid churlishness.” (Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district)

The Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] female cloths are manufactured by themselves from cotton thread and the fibre of silloluvāda or ankudi chettu (Holarrhena antidysenterica [Wrightia antidysenterica (L.) R.Br.]) and bōda luvāda or bodda chettu (Ficus glomerata [Ficus racemosa]). The fibre is carefully dried, and dyed blue or reddish-brown. The edges of the cloth are white, a blue strip comes next, while the middle portion is reddish-brown with narrow stripes of white or blue at regular intervals. The Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] account for the dress of their women by the following legend. When Rāma, during his banishment, was wandering in the forests of Dandaka, his wife Sīta accompanied him in spite of his entreaties to the contrary. It was one of the cruel terms of his stepmother Kaika that Rāma should wear only clothing made from jungle fibre, before leaving the capital. According to the Hindu religion, a virtuous wife must share both the sorrows and joys of her lord. Consequently Sīta followed the example of Rāma, and wore the same kind of clothing. They then left the capital amidst the loud lamentation of the citizens. During their wanderings, they met some Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] women, who mocked and laughed at Sīta. Whereupon she cursed them, and condemned them to wear no other dress but the cloth made of fibre.

In a note on the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], Mr. L. Lakshminarayan (Madras Mail, 1907) writes that

 “although mill-prepared cloths are fast replacing house-spun-cloths in all communities, yet, in the case of the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], there is a strong superstition which prevents the use of cloths prepared outside, particularly in regard to the cloths worn by their women. The legend (about Sīta) is fully believed by the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], and hence their religious adherence to their particular cloth. At the time of marriage, it is absolute that the Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] maiden should wear this fibre-made cloth, else misfortune will ruin the family. A bundle of twigs is brought, and the stems freed of leaves are bruised and twisted to loosen the bark, and are then dried for two or three days, after which the bark is ripped out and beaten down smooth with heavy sticks, to separate the bark from the fibre. The fibre is then collected, and combed down smooth, and spun into a tolerably fine twist. It is this twist that the Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] maiden weaves in her crude loom, and prepares from it her marriage sāri. According to a good custom among these people, a Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] maiden must learn to weave her cloths before she becomes eligible for marriage. And no Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] ever thinks of marrying a wife who cannot prepare her own cloths. Men can use cotton and other cloths, whereas women cannot do so, for they are under the curse of Sīta. But the passion for fineries in woman is naturally so strong that the modern Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] woman is now taking the liberty of putting cotton thread for the woof and ankudu [అంకుడు] fibre for the warp, and thus is able to turn out a more comfortable and finer cloth. But some old crones informed me that this mixed cloth is not so auspicious as that prepared wholly from the fibre.”

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

Among the Bodo and Olāro sections, the following septs occur:—

  • Kōra (sun),
  • Nāg [నాగ] (cobra),
  • Bhāg (tiger),
  • Kīra (parrot), and
  • Gollāri (monkey).

The Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] who have settled in the plains seem to have forgotten the sept names, but will not injure or kill certain animals, eg., the cobra.

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

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

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

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

Concerning the religion of the Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ], Mr. H. D. Taylor writes (Madras Census Report, 1891) that it is

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

Sometimes a sāl or kōsangi tree is planted, and surrounded by a bamboo hedge. It is worshipped with animal sacrifices at harvest time, and the Kīrasāni acts as priest.

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

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

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

The Gadabas [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] have a devil dance, which they are willing to perform before strangers in return for a small present. It has been thus described by Captain Glasfurd (Manual of the Vizagapatam district). 

“At the time of the Dusserah [దసరా / ଦଶହରା], Hōli [హోళీ / ହୋଲି], and other holidays, both men and women dance to the music of a fife and drum. Sometimes they form a ring by joining hands all round, and with a long hop spring towards the centre, and then hop back to the full extent of their arms, while they at the same time keep circling round and round. At other times, the women dance singly or in pairs, their hands resting on each other’s wrists. When fatigued, they cease dancing, and sing. A man steps out of the crowd, and sings a verse or two impromptu. One of the women rejoins, and they sing at each other for a short time. The point of these songs appears to consist in giving the sharpest rejoinder to each other. The woman reflects upon the man’s ungainly appearance and want of skill as a cultivator or huntsman, and the man retorts by reproaching her with her ugliness and slatternly habits.”

In connection with dancing, Mr. Henderson writes that

“all the Gadaba [ଗାଦାବା / గదబ] dancing I have seen was the same as that of the Porjas, and consisted of a sort of women’s march, at times accompanied by a few men who wander round, and occasionally form a ring through which the line of women passes. Sometimes the men get on each other’s shoulders, and so form a sort of two-storied pyramid. The women’s song is comparatively quite melodious.”

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

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

[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 [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 242 - 252]


"Kuricchan.The Kuricchans, or Kuricchiyans, are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart (Madras Census Report, 1891)  as

“the hunting caste of Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. Some derive the word from kurikke, to mark or assign, as they say that this caste fixed the hunting days. This must be the production of a highly imaginative person. Dr. Gundert thinks it is derived from, or allied to, Canarese Koracha (Korava). I would rather say it is allied to that word, and that both are derivatives of kuru, a hill (cf. Tamil [தமிழ்] kurinchi), kurunilam, etc., and Malayālam [മലയാളം] kurissi, a suffix in names of hilly localities. With the exception of 2,240 persons in Kottayam [കോട്ടയം], and 373 in Kurumbranād, both bordering on Wynaad [വയനാട്], all the Kuricchans are found in Wynaad [വയനാട്]. They are excellent bowmen, and played an important part in the Pyche Rāja’s [വീര കേരളവർമ്മ പഴശ്ശി രാജ, 1753 - 1805] rebellion at the beginning of the (nineteenth) century. The Kuricchans affect a great contempt for Brāhmans. When a Brāhman has been in a Kuricchans house, the moment he leaves it, the place where he was seated is besmeared with cow-dung to remove the pollution ! They follow inheritance in the male line in some places, and in the female line in others. Their god is called Mūttappan, which literally means grandfather. They now subsist mostly by punam (shifting) cultivation.”

In the Gazetteer of Malabar [മലബാര്‍], the Kuricchiyans (kuricchi, hill country) are described as

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

It is recorded by Mr. Logan (Manual of Malabar),  in connection with a disturbance in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] early in the last century, that 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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 [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 125 - 130]


Valaiyan hunting festival

"Valaiyan.The Valaiyans are described, in the Manual of Madura [மதுரை] district (1868), as

“a low and debased class. Their name is supposed to be derived from valai [வலை] a net, and to have been given to them from their being constantly employed in netting game in the jungles. Many of them still live by the net ; some catch fish; some smelt iron. Many are engaged in cultivation, as bearers of burdens, and in ordinary cooly work. The tradition that a Valaiya woman was the mother of the Vallambans seems to show that the Valiyans must be one of the most ancient castes in the country.”

In the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] Manual they are described as

“inhabitants of the country inland who live by snaring birds, and fishing in fresh waters. They engage also in agricultural labour and cooly work, such as carrying loads, husking paddy (rice), and cutting and selling fire-wood. They are a poor and degraded class.”

The Valaiyans are expert at making cunningly devised traps for catching rats and jungle fowl. They have

“a comical fairy-tale of the origin of the war, which still goes on between them and the rat tribe. It relates how the chiefs of the rats met in conclave, and devised the various means for arranging and harassing the enemy, which they still practice with such effect.” (Gazetteer of the Madura district)

The Valaiyans say that they were once the friends of Siva [சிவன்], but were degraded for the sin of eating rats and frogs.

In the Census Report, 1901, the Valaiyans are described as

“a shikari (hunting) caste in Madura [மதுரை] and Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்]. In the latter the names Ambalakāran, Sērvaikāran, Vēdan, Siviyān, and Kuruvikkāran are indiscriminately applied to the caste.”

There is some connection between Ambalakārans, cs, Mutrāchas, Urālis, Vēdans [வேடன்], Valaiyans, and Vēttuvans, but in what it exactly consists remains to be ascertained. It seems likely that all of them are descended from one common parent stock. Ambalakārans claim to be descended from Kannappa Nāyanar [கண்ணப்ப நாயனார்], one of the sixty-three Saivite [சைவ] saints, who was a Vēdan [வேடன்] or hunter by caste. In Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] the Valaiyans declare themselves to have a similar origin, and in that district Ambalakāran and Muttiriyan seem to be synonymous with Valaiyan. Moreover, the statistics of the distribution of the Valaiyans show that they are numerous in the districts where Ambalakārans are few, and vice versa, which looks as though certain sections had taken to calling themselves Ambalakārans. The upper sections of the Ambalakārans style themselves Pillai [பிள்ளை], which is a title properly belonging to Vellālas [வேளாளர்], but the others are usually called Mūppan in Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்], and Ambalakāran, Muttiriyan, and Sērvaikāran in Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி]. The usual title of the Valaiyans, so far as I can gather, is Mūppan, but some style themselves Sērvai and Ambalakāran.”

The Madura [மதுரை] Valaiyans are said (Madras Census Report, 1901) to be

“less brāhmanised than those in Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்], the latter employing Brāhmans as priests, forbidding the marriage of widows, occasionally burning their dead, and being particular what they eat. But they still cling to the worship of all the usual village gods and goddesses.”

In some places, it is said, the Valaiyans will eat almost anything, including rats, cats, frogs and squirrels.

Like the Pallans [மள்ளர்] and Paraiyans [பறையர்], the Valaiyans, in some places, live in streets of their own, or in settlements outside the villages.

At times of census, they have returned a large number of sub-divisions, of which the following may be cited as examples :—

  • Monathinni. Those who eat the vermin of the soil.
  • Pāsikatti (pāsi [பாசி], glass bead).
  • Saragu, withered leaves.
  • Vanniyan [வன்னியர்]. Synonym of the Palli [பள்ளி] caste.
  • Vellamputtu, white-ant hill.

In some places the Saruku or Saragu Valaiyans have exogamous kilais or septs, which, as among the Maravans [மறவர்] and Kalians, run in the female line. Brothers and sisters belong to the same kilai as that of their mother and maternal uncle, and not of their father.

It is stated, in the Gazetteer of the Madura [மதுரை] district, that

“the Valaiyans are grouped into four endogamous sub-divisions, namely,

  • Vahni,
  • Valattu,
  • Karadi, and 
  • Kangu.

The last of these is again divided into

  • Pāsikatti, those who use a bead necklet instead of a tāli [தாலி] (as a marriage badge), and
  • Kāraikatti, those whose women wear horsehair necklaces like the Kalians.

The caste title is Mūppan. Caste matters are settled by a headman called the Kambliyan (blanket man), who lives at Aruppukottai [அருப்புக்கோட்டை], and comes round in state to any village which requires his services, seated on a horse, and accompanied by servants who hold an umbrella over his head and fan him. He holds his court seated on a blanket. The fines imposed go in equal shares to the aramanai [அரமனை] (literally palace, i.e., to the headman himself), and to the oramanai, that is, the caste people.

It is noted by Mr. F. R. Hemingway that

“the Valaiyans of the Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி] district say that they have eight endogamous sub-divisions, namely,

  1. Sarahu (or Saragu),
  2. Ettarai Kōppu,
  3. Tānambanādu or Valuvādi, 
  4. Nadunāttu or Asal,
  5. Kurumba,
  6. Vanniya [வன்னியர்],
  7. Ambunādu, and 
  8. Punal.

Some of these are similar to those of the Kalians and Ambalakārans.”

In the Gazetteer of the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district, it is recorded that the Valaiyans are said to possess

“endogamous sub-divisions called Vēdan [வேடன்], Sulundukkāran and Ambalakkāran. The members of the first are said to be hunters, those of the second torch-bearers, and those of the last cultivators. They are a low caste, are refused admittance into the temples, and pollute a Vellālan [வேளாளர்] by touch. Their occupations are chiefly cultivation of a low order, cooly work, and hunting. They are also said to be addicted to crime, being employed by Kalians as their tools.”

Adult marriage is the rule, and the consent of the maternal uncle is necessary. Remarriage of widows is freely permitted. At the marriage ceremony, the bridegroom’s sister takes up the tāli [தாலி] (marriage badge), and, after showing it to those assembled, ties it tightly round the neck of the bride. To tie it loosely so that the tāli [தாலி] string touches the collar-bone would be considered a breach of custom, and the woman who tied it would be fined. The tāli-tying ceremony always takes place at night, and the bridegroom’s sister performs it, as, if it was tied by the bridegroom, it could not be removed on his death, and replaced if his widow wished to marry again. Marriages generally take place from January to May, and consummation should not be effected till the end of the month Ādi [ஆடி], lest the first child should be born in the month of Chithre [சித்திரை], which would be very inauspicious. There are two Tamil [தமிழ்] proverbs to the effect that

“the girl should remain in her mother’s house during Ādi [ஆடி],”


“if a child is born in Chithre [சித்திரை], it is ruinous to the house of the mother-in-law.”

In the Gazetteer of the Madura [மதுரை] district, it is stated that

“at weddings, the bridegroom’s sister ties the tāli [தாலி], and then hurries the bride off to her brother’s house, where he is waiting. When a girl attains maturity, she is made to live for a fortnight in a temporary hut, which she afterwards burns down. While she is there, the little girls of the caste meet outside it, and sing a song illustrative of the charms of womanhood, and its power of alleviating the unhappy lot of the bachelor. Two of the verses say:—

What of the hair of a man ?
It is twisted, and matted, and a burden.

What of the tresses of a woman ?
They are as flowers in a garland, and a glory.

What of the life of a man ?
It is that of the dog at the palace gate.

What of the days of a woman ?
They are like the gently waving leaves in a festoon.

“ Divorce is readily permitted on the usual payments, and divorcees and widows may remarry. A married woman who goes astray is brought before the Kambliyan, who delivers a homily, and then orders the man’s waist-string to be tied round her neck. This legitimatises any children they may have.”

The Valaiyans of Pattukkottai [பட்டுக்கோட்டை] in the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district say that intimacy between a man and woman before marriage is tolerated, and that the children of such a union are regarded as members of the caste, and permitted to intermarry with others, provided the parents pay a nominal penalty imposed by the caste council.

In connection with the Valaiyans of the Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி] district, Mr. Hemingway writes that

“they recognise three forms of marriage, the most usual of which consists in the bridegroom’s party going to the girl’s house with three marakkāls [மரக்கால்] of rice and a cock on an auspicious day, and in both parties having a feast there. Sometimes the young man’s sister goes to the girl’s house, ties a tāli [தாலி] round her neck, and takes her away. The ordinary form of marriage, called big marriage, is sometimes used with variations, but the Valaiyans do not like it, and say that the two other forms result in more prolific unions. They tolerate unchastity before marriage, and allow parties to marry even after several children have been born, the marriage legitimatising them. They permit remarriage of widows and divorced women. Women convicted of immorality are garlanded with erukku [எருக்கு(Calotropis gigantea) flowers, and made to carry a basket of mud round the village. Men who too frequently offend in this respect are made to sit with their toes tied to the neck by a creeper. When a woman is divorced, her male children go to the husband, and she is allowed to keep the girls.”

The tribal gods of the Valaiyans are Singa Pidāri (Aiyanar [ஐயனார்]) and Padinettāmpadi Karuppan. Once a year, on the day after the new-moon in the month Māsi [மாசி] (February to March), the Valaiyans assemble to worship the deity. Early in the morning they proceed to the Aiyanar [ஐயனார்] temple, and, after doing homage to the god, go off to the forest to hunt hares and other small game. On their return they are met by the Valaiyan matrons carrying coloured water or rice (alam), garlands of flowers, betel leaves and areca nuts. The alam is waved over the men, some of whom become inspired and are garlanded. While they are under inspiration, the mothers appeal to them to name their babies. The products of the chase are taken to the house of the headman and distributed. At a festival, at which Mr. K. Rangachari [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] was present, at about ten o’clock in the morning all the Valaiya men, women, and children, dressed up in holiday attire, swarmed out of their huts, and proceeded to a neighbouring grove. The men and boys each carried a throwing stick, or a digging stick tipped with iron. On arrival at the grove, they stood in a row, facing east, and, throwing down their sticks, saluted them, and prostrated themselves before them. Then all took up their sticks, and some played on reed pipes. Some of the women brought garlands of flowers, and placed them round the necks of four men, who for a time stood holding in their hands their sticks, of which the ends were stuck in the ground. After a time they began to shiver, move quickly about, and kick those around them. Under the influence of their inspiration, they exhibited remarkable physical strength, and five or six men could not hold them. Calling various people by name, they expressed a hope that they would respect the gods, worship them, and offer to them pongal [பொங்கல்] (boiled rice) and animal sacrifices. The women brought their babies to them to be named. In some places, the naming of infants is performed at the Aiyanar [ஐயனார்] temple by any one who is under the influence of inspiration. Tailing such a one, several flowers, each with a name attached to it, are thrown in front of the idol. A boy, or the pūjāri [பூசாரி] (priest) picks up one of the flowers, and the infant receives the name which is connected with it.

The Valaiyans are devoted to devil worship, and, at Orattanadu [ஒரத்தநாடு] in the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district, every Valaiyan backyard is said to contain an odiyan [ஒதியம்] (Odina Wodier [Lannea coromandelica (Houtt.) Merr.]tree, in which the devil is supposed to live. (Gazetteer of the Tanjore district)  It is noted by Mr. W. Francis (Gazetteer of the Madura district) that

“certain of the Valaiyans who live at Ammayanayakkanur are the hereditary pūjāris [பூசாரி] to the gods of the Sirumalai [சிறுமலை] hills. Some of these deities are uncommon, and one of them, Pāppārayan, is said to be the spirit of a Brāhman astrologer whose monsoon forecast was falsified by events, and who, filled with a shame rare in unsuccessful weather prophets, threw himself off a high point on the range.”

According to Mr. Hemingway, the Valaiyans have a special caste god, named Muttāl Rāvuttan, who is the spirit of a dead Muhammadan, about whom nothing seems to be known.

The dead are as a rule buried with rites similar to those of the Kalians and Agamudaiyans [அகமுடையார்]. The final death ceremonies (karmāndhiram) are performed on the sixteenth day. On the night of the previous day, a vessel filled with water is placed on the spot where the deceased breathed his last, and two cocoanuts, with the pores (‘eyes’) open, are deposited near it. On the following morning, all proceed to, a grove or tank (pond). The eldest son, or other celebrant, after shaving and bathing, marks out a square space on the ground, and, placing a few dry twigs of Ficus religiosa and Ficus benghalensis therein, sets fire to them. Presents of rice and other food-stuffs are given to beggars and others. The ceremony closes with the son and sapindas, who have to observe pollution, placing new cloths on their heads. Mr. Francis records that, at the funeral ceremonies, 

“the relations go three times round a basket of grain placed under a pandal (booth), beating their breasts and singing :—

For us the kanji [கஞ்சி] (rice gruel) : kailāsam (the abode of Siva [சிவன்]) for thee ; Rice for us ; for thee Svargalōkam [சுவர்க்கலோகம்],

and then wind turbans round the head of the deceased’s heir, in recognition of his new position as chief of the family. When a woman loses her husband, she goes three times round the village mandai (common), with a pot of water on her shoulder. After each of the first two journeys, the barber makes a hole in the pot, and at the end of the third he hurls down the vessel, and cries out an adjuration to the departed spirit to leave the widow and children in peace.”

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district, that

"one of the funeral ceremonies is peculiar, though it is paralleled by practices among the Paraiyans [பறையர்] and Karaiyans [கரையார்]. When the heir departs to the burning-ground on the second day, a mortar is placed near the outer door of his house, and a lamp is lit inside. On his return, he has to upset the mortar, and worship the light.”"

[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 [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 7. -- S. 272 - 280]v