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: 220.127.116.11. Fallensteller. -- Fassung vom 2017-11-22. -- URL: http://www.payer.de/amarakosa8/18.104.22.168.fallensteller.htm
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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]
"Dhanwār [धनुवार], Dhanuhār [धनुहार].1—
1 This article is based almost entirely on a monograph by Mr. Jeorākhan Lāl, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Bilāspur.
1. Origin and traditions.
A primitive tribe living in the wild hilly country of the Bilāspur [बिलासपुर] zamindari estates, adjoining Chota Nāgpur [छोटा नागपुर]. They numbered only 19,000 persons in 1911. The name Dhanuhār [धनुहार] means a bowman, and the bulk of the tribe have until recently been accustomed to obtain their livelihood by hunting with bow and arrows. The name is thus merely a functional term and is analogous to those of Dhangar [धनगर], or labourer, and Kisān [किसान], or cultivator, which are applied to the Oraons [उरांव], and perhaps Halba [हलबा] or farmservant, by which another tribe is known. The Dhanwārs [धनुवार] are almost certainly not connected with the Dhanuks [धनुक] of northern India, though the names have the same meaning. They are probably an offshoot of either the Gond [गोंड] or the Kawar [कवर] tribe or a mixture of both. Their own legend of their origin is nearly the same as that of the Gonds [गोंड], while the bulk of their sept or family names are identical with those of the Kawars [कवर]. Like the Kawars [कवर], the Dhanwārs [धनुवार] have no language of their own and speak a corrupt form of Chhattisgarhi [छत्तीसगढ़ी] Hindi [हिन्दी]. Mr. Jeorākhan Lāl writes of them :—
“The word Dhanuhār [धनुहार] is a corrupt form of Dhanusdhār [धनुस्धार] or a holder of a bow. The bow consists of a cleft piece of bamboo and the arrow is made of wood of the dhāman [धामन Grewia eriocarpa ] tree. The pointed end is furnished with a piece or a nail of iron called phani, while to the other end are attached feathers of the vulture or peacock with a string of tasar [तसर] silk. Dhanuhār [धनुहार] boys learn the use of the bow at five years of age, and kill birds with it when they are seven or eight years old. At their marriage ceremony the bridegroom carries an arrow with him in place of a dagger as among the Hindus, and each household has a bow which is worshipped at every festival.”
According to their own legend the ancestors of the Dhanuhārs [धनुहार] were two babies whom a tigress unearthed from the ground when scratching a hole in her den, and brought up with her own young. They were named Nāga Lodha [नागा लोधा] and Nagi Lodhi [नागी लोधी], Nāga [नागा] meaning naked and Lodha [लोधा] being the Chhattisgarhi [छत्तीसगढ़ी] word for a wild dog. Growing up they lived for some time as brother and sister, until the deity enjoined them to marry. But they had no children until Nāga Lodha [नागा लोधा], in obedience to the god’s instructions, gave his wife the fruit of eleven trees to eat. From these she had eleven sons at a birth, and as she observed a fortnight’s impurity for each of them the total period was five and a half months. In memory of this, Dhanuhār [धनुहार] women still remain impure for five months after delivery, and do not worship the gods for that period. Afterwards the couple had a twelfth son, who was born with a bow and arrows in his hand, and is now the ancestral hero of the tribe, being named Karankot. One day in the forest when Karankot was not with them, the eleven brothers came upon a wooden palisade, inside which were many deer and antelope tended by twelve Gaoli [ग्वाली] (herdsmen) brothers with their twelve sisters. The Lodha [लोधा] brothers attacked the place, but were taken prisoners by the Gaolis [ग्वाली] and forced to remove dung and other refuse from the enclosure. After a time Karankot went in search of his brothers and, coming to the place, defeated the Gaolis [ग्वाली] and rescued them and carried off the twelve sisters. The twelve brothers subsequently married the twelve Gaoli [ग्वाली] girls, Karankot himself being wedded to the youngest and most beautiful, whose name was Maswasi. From each couple is supposed to be descended one of the tribes who live in this country, as the Binjhwār, Bhumia, Korwa [कोरवा], Mājhi, Kol, Kawar [कवर] and others, the Dhanuhārs [धनुहार] themselves being the progeny of Karankot and Maswasi. The bones of the animals killed by Karankot were thrown into ditches dug round the village and form the pits of chhui mithi or white clay now existing in this tract.2. Exogamous septs.
The Dhanuhārs [धनुहार], being a small tribe, have no endogamous divisions, but are divided into a number of totemistic exogamous septs. Many of the septs are called after plants or animals, and members of the sept refrain from killing or destroying the animal or plant after which it is named. The names of the septs are generally Chhattisgarhi [छत्तीसगढ़ी] words, though a few are Gondi [गोंडी]. Out of fifty names returned twenty are also found in the Kawar [कवर] tribe and four among the Gonds [गोंड]. This makes it probable that the Dhanuhārs [धनुहार] are mainly an offshoot from the Kawars [कवर] with an admixture of Gonds [गोंड] and other tribes. A peculiarity worth noticing is that one or two of the septs have been split up into a number of others. The best instance of this is the Sonwāni [सोनवानी] sept, which is found among several castes and tribes in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] ; its name is perhaps derived from sona pani [सोना पानी](Gold water), and its members have the function of readmitting those temporarily expelled from social intercourse by pouring on them a little water into which a piece of gold has been dipped. Among the Dhanuhārs [धनुहार] the Sonwāni [सोनवानी] sept has become divided into the Son-Sonwāni [सोन-सोनवानी], who pour the gold water over the penitent; the Rakat Sonwāni [सोनवानी], who give him to drink a little of the blood of the sacrificial fowl ; the Hardi Sonwāni [हल्दी सोनवानी], who give turmeric water to the mourners when they come back from a funeral ; the Kāri Sonwāni [सोनवानी], who assist at this ceremony ; and one or two others. The totem of the Kāri Sonwāni [सोनवानी] sept is a black cow, and when such an animal dies in the village members of the sept throw away their earthen pots. All these are now separate exogamous septs. The Deswārs [देशवार] are another sept which has been divided in the same manner. They are, perhaps, a more recent accession to the tribe, and are looked down on by the others because they will eat the flesh of bison. The other Dhanwārs [धनुवार] refuse to do this because they say that when Sīta [सीता], Rāma’s [राम] wife, was exiled in the jungles, she could not find a cow to worship and so revered a bison in its stead. And they say that the animal’s feet are grey because of the turmeric water which Sīta [सीता] poured on them, and that the depression on its forehead is the mark of her hand when she placed a tīka [टीका] or sign there with coloured rice. The Deswārs [देशवार] are also called Dui Duaria [दुई द्वारिया] or ‘Those having two doors,’ because they have a back door to their huts which is used only by women during their monthly period of impurity and kept shut at all other times. One of the septs is named Manakhia, which means ‘ man-eater,’ and it is possible that its members formerly offered human sacrifices. Similarly, the Rakat-bund or ‘ Drop of blood Deswārs [देशवार] ’ may be so called because they shed human blood. A member of the Telāsi [तेलासी] or ‘Oil’ sept, when he has killed a deer, will cut off the head and bring it home ; placing it in his courtyard, he suspends a burning lamp over the head and places grains of rice on the forehead of the deer ; and he then considers that he is revering the oil in the lamp. Members of the Sūraj-goti [सूरज गोती] or sun sept are said to have stood as representatives of the sun in the rite of the purification of an offender.
Marriage within the sept is prohibited, and usually also between first cousins. Girls are commonly married a year or two after they arrive at maturity. The father of the boy looks out for a suitable girl for his son and sends a friend to make the proposal. If this is accepted a feast is given, and is known as phūl Phulwāri [फूल फुलवाडी] or ‘ The bursting of the flower.’ The betrothal itself is called Phaldān [फलदान] or ‘The gift of the fruit ’ ; on this occasion the contract is ratified and the usual presents are exchanged. Yet a third ceremony, prior to the marriage, is that of the Barokhi or inspection, when the bride and bridegroom are taken to see each other. On this occasion they exchange copper rings, placing them on each other’s finger, and the boy offers vermilion to the earth, and then rubs it on the bride’s forehead. When the girl is mature the date of the wedding is fixed, a small bride-price of six rupees and a piece of cloth being usually paid. If the first signs of puberty appear in the girl during the bright fortnight of the month, the marriage is held during the dark fortnight and vice versa. The marriage-shed is built in the form of a rectangle and must consist of either seven or nine posts in three lines. The bridegroom’s party comprises from twenty to forty persons of both sexes. When they arrive at the bride’s village her father comes out to meet them and gives them leaf-pipes to smoke. He escorts them inside the village where a lodging has been prepared for them. The ceremony is based on that of the local Hindus with numerous petty variations in points of detail. In the actual ceremony the bride and bridegroom are first supported on the knees of two relatives. A sheet is held between them and each throws seven handfuls of parched rice over the other. They are then made to stand side by side ; a knot is made of their cloths containing a piece of turmeric, and the bride’s left hand is laid over the bridegroom’s right one, and on it a sendhaura or wooden box for vermilion is placed. The bride’s mother moves seven times round the pair holding a lighted lamp, at which she warms her hand and then touches the marriage-crowns of the bride and bridegroom seven times in succession. And finally the couple walk seven times round the marriage-post, the bridegroom following the bride. The marriage is held during the day, and not, as is usual, at night or in the early morning. Afterwards, the pair are seated in the marriage-shed, the bridegroom’s leg being placed over that of the bride, with their feet in a brass dish. The bride’s mother then washes their great toes with milk and the rest of their feet with water. The bridegroom applies vermilion seven times to the marriage-post and to his wife’s forehead at the parting of her hair. The couple are fed with rice and pulses one after the other out of the same leaf-plates, and the parties have a feast. Next morning, before their departure, the father of the bride asks the bridegroom to do his best to put up with his daughter, who is thievish, gluttonous and so slovenly that she lets her food drop on to the floor ; but if he finds he cannot endure her, to send her home. In the same manner the father of the boy apologises for his son, saying that he cares only for mischief and pleasure. The party then returns to the bridegroom’s house.4. Festivities of the women of the bridegroom’s party.
During the absence of the wedding party the women of the bridegroom’s house with others in the village sing songs at night in the marriage - shed constructed at his house. These are known as Dindwa, a term applied to a man who has no wife, whether widower or bachelor. As they sing, the women dance in two lines with their arms interlaced, clapping their hands as they move backwards and forwards. The songs are of a lewd character, treating of intrigues in love mingled with abuse of their relatives and of other men who may be watching the proceedings by stealth. No offence is taken on such occasions, whatever may be said. In Upper India, Mr. Jeorākhan Lāl states such songs are sung at the time of the marriage and are called Naktoureki louk or the ceremony of the useless or shameless ones, because women, however shy and modest, become at this time as bold and shameless as men are at the Holi [होली] festival. The following are a few lines from one of these songs:
The wheat-cake is below and the urad [उड़द - Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper]-cake is above. Do you see my brother’s brother-in-law watching the dance in the narrow lane.1
1 The term brother’s brother-in-law is abusive in the same sense as brother-in- divorce, law (sāla [साला]) said by a man.
A sweetmeat is placed on the wheat-cake ; a handsome young blackguard has climbed on to the top of the wall to see the dance.
When a woman sees a man from afar he looks beautiful and attractive : but when he comes near she sees that he is not worth the trouble.
I went to the market and came back with my salt. Oh, I looked more at you than at my husband who is wedded to me.
5. Conclusion of the marriage.
Several of the ceremonies are repeated at the bridegroom’s house after the return of the wedding party. On the day following them the couple are taken to a tank walking under a canopy held up by their friends. Here they throw away their marriage-crowns, and play at hiding a vessel under the water. When they return to the house a goat is sacrificed to Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव] and the bride cooks food in her new house for the first time, her husband helping her, and their relatives and friends in the village are invited to partake of it. After this the conjugal chamber is prepared by the women of the household, and the bride is taken to it and told to consider her husband’s house as her own. The couple are then left together and the marriage is consummated.
6. Widow-marriage and divorce.
The remarriage of widows is permitted but it is not considered as a real marriage, according to the saying: “ A woman cannot be anointed twice with the marriage oil, as a wooden cooking - vessel cannot be put twice on the fire.” A widow married again is called a Churiyāhi Dauki or ‘Wife made by bangles,’ as the ceremony may be completed by putting bangles on her wrists. When a woman is going to marry again she leaves her late husband’s house and goes and lives with her own people or in a house by herself. The second husband makes his proposal to her through some other women. If accepted he comes with a party of his male friends, taking with him a new cloth and some bangles. They are received by the widow’s guardian, and they sit in her house smoking and chewing tobacco while some woman friend retires with her and invests her with the new cloth and bangles. She comes out and the new husband and wife bow to all the Dhanwārs [धनुवार], who are subsequently regaled with liquor and goats’ flesh, and the marriage is completed. Polygamy is permitted but is not common. A husband may divorce his wife for failing to bear him issue, for being ugly, thievish, shrewish or a witch, or for an intrigue with another man. If a married woman commits adultery with another man of the tribe they are pardoned with the exaction of one feast. If her paramour is a Gond [गोंड], Rāwat [रावत], Binjhwār [बिंझवार] or Kawar [कवर], he is allowed to become a Dhanwār [धनुवार] and marry her on giving several feasts, the exact number being fixed by the village Baiga [बैगा] or priest in a panchāyat [पंचायत] or committee. With these exceptions a married woman having an intrigue with a man of another caste is finally expelled. A wife who desires to divorce her husband without his agreement is also turned out of the caste like a common woman.7. Childbirth.
After the birth of a child the mother receives no food for the first and second, and fourth and fifth days, while on the third she is given only a warm decoction to drink. On the sixth day the men of the house are shaved and their impurity ceases. But the mother cooks no food for two months after bearing a female child and for three months if it is a male. The period has thus been somewhat reduced from the traditional one of five and a half months,1 but it must still be highly inconvenient. At the expiration of the time of impurity the earthen pots are changed and the mother prepares a meal for the whole household. During her monthly period of impurity a woman cooks no food for six days. On the seventh day she bathes and cleans her hair with clay, and is then again permitted to touch the drinking water and cook food.
1 See commencement of this article.
8. Disposal of the dead.
The tribe bury the dead. The corpse is wrapped in an old cloth and carried to the grave on a cot turned upside down. On arrival there it is washed with turmeric and water and wrapped in a new cloth. The bearers carry the corpse seven times round the open grave, saying, ‘This is your last marriage,’ that is, with the earth. The male relatives and friends fill in the grave with earth, working with their hands only and keep their backs turned to the grave so as to avoid seeing the corpse. It is said that each person should throw only five handfuls. Other people then come up and fill in the grave, trampling down the surface as much as possible. For three days after a death the bereaved family do not cook for themselves but are supplied with food by their friends. These, however, do not give them any salt as it is thought that the craving for salt will divert their minds from dwelling on their loss. The tribe do not perform the shraddh [श्रद्ध] ceremony, but in the month of Kunwār [कुंवार], on the day corresponding to that on which his father died, a man feeds the caste-fellows in memory of him. And at this period he offers libations to his ancestors, pouring a double handful of water on the ground for each one that he can remember and then one for all the others. While doing this he stands facing the east and does not turn to three different directions as the Hindu custom is. The spirit of a man who has been killed by a tiger becomes Baghia Masān [बाघिया मसान] or the tiger imp, and that of a woman who dies in childbirth becomes a Churel. Both are very troublesome to the living.
The principal deities of the Dhamvars are Thākur Deo [ठाकुरदेव], the god of agriculture, and Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव], the deity of the family and hearth. Twice a year the village Baiga [बैगा] or medicine-man, who is usually a Gond [गोंड], offers a cocoanut to Thākur Deo [ठाकुरदेव]. He first consecrates it to the god by placing it in contact with water and the small heap of rice which lies in front of his shrine, and then splits it asunder on a stone, saying, ‘ Jai Thākur Deo' or ‘ Victory to Thākur Deo [जय ठाकुरदेव].’ When any serious calamity befalls the tribe a goat is offered to the deity. It must also be first consecrated to him by eating his. rice; its body is then washed in water and some of the sacred dūb [दूब] (Cynodon dactylon) grass is placed on it, and the Baiga [बैगा] severs the head from the body with an axe. Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव] is the god of the family and the marriage-bed, and when a Dhanwār [धनुवार] is married or his first son is born, a goat is offered to the deity. Another interesting deity is Maiya Andhiyāri [मैया अंधियारी], or the goddess of the dark fortnight of the month. She is worshipped in the house conjointly by husband and wife on any Tuesday in the dark fortnight of Māgh [माघ] (January-February), all the relatives of the family being invited. On the day of worship the husband and wife observe a fast, and all the water which is required for use in the house during the day and night must be brought into it in the early morning. A circular pit is dug inside the house, about three feet deep and as many wide. A she-goat which has borne no young is sacrificed to the goddess in the house in the same manner as in the sacrifice to Thākur Deo [ठाकुर देव]. The goat is skinned and cut up, the skin, bones and other refuse being thrown into the hole. The flesh is cooked and eaten with rice and pulse in the evening, all the family and relatives, men and women, eating together at the same time. After the meal, all the remaining food and the water including that used for cooking, and the new earthen pots used to carry water on that day are thrown into the pit. The mouth of the pit is then covered with wooden boards and plastered over with mud with great care to prevent a child falling into it ; as it is held that nothing which has once gone into the pit may be taken out, even if it were a human being. It is said that once in the old days a man who happened to fall into the pit was buried alive, its mouth being covered over with planks of wood ; and he was found alive when the pit was reopened next year. This is an instance of the sacrificial meal, common to many primitive peoples, at which the sacred animal was consumed by the worshippers, skin, bones and all. But now that such a course has become repugnant to their more civilised digestions, the refuse is considered sacred and disposed of in some such manner as that described. The goddess is also known as Rāt Devi [रात देवी] or the goddess of the night; or Rāt Mai [रात माई], the night mother. The goddess Maswāsi [मसवासी] was the mythical ancestress of the Dhanwārs [धनुवार], the wife of Karankot, and also the daughter of Maiya Andhiyāri [मैया अंधियारी] or Rāt Mai [रात माई]. She too is worshipped every third year in the dark fortnight of the month of Māgh [माघ] on any Tuesday. Her sacrifice is offered in the morning hours in the forest by men only, and consists also of a black she-goat. A site is chosen under a tree and cleaned with cowdung, the bones of animals being placed upon it in a heap to represent the goddess. The village Baiga [बैगा] kills the goat with an axe and the body is eaten by the worshippers. Maswāsi [मसवासी] is invoked by the Dhanwārs [धनुवार] before they go hunting, and whenever they kill a wild boar or a deer they offer it to her. She is thus clearly the goddess of hunting. The tribe also worship the spirits of hills and woods and the ghosts of the illustrious dead. The ghosts of dead Baigas [बैगा] or medicinemen are believed to become spirits attending on Thākur Deo [ठाकुर देव], and when he is displeased with the Dhanwārs [धनुवार] they intervene to allay his anger. The brothers of Maswāsi [मसवासी], the twelve Gaolis [गवली], are believed to be divine hunters and to haunt the forests, where they kill beasts and occasionally men. Six of them take post and the other six drive the beasts or men towards these through the forest, when they are pierced as with an arrow. The victim dies after a few days, but if human he may go to a sorcerer, who can extract the arrow, smaller than a grain of rice, from his body. In the month of Aghan [अगहन] (November), when the grass of the forests is to be cut, the members of the village collectively offer a goat to the grass deity, in order that none of the grass-cutters may be killed by a tiger or bitten by a snake or other wild animal.
10. Magic and witchcraft.
The Dhanwārs [धनुवार] are fervent believers in all kinds of magic and witchcraft. Magic is practised both by the Baiga [बैगा], the village priest or medicine-man, who is always a man and who conducts the worship of the deities mentioned above, and by the tonhi [टोनही], the regular witch, who may be a man or woman. Little difference appears to exist in the methods of the two classes of magicians, but the Baiga’s [बैगा] magic is usually exercised for the good of his fellow-creatures, which indeed might be expected as he gets his livelihood from them, and he is also less powerful than the tonhi [टोनही]. The Baiga [बैगा] cures ordinary maladies and the bites of snakes and scorpions by mesmeric passes fortified by the utterance of charms. He raises the dead in much the same manner as a witch does, but employs the spirit of the dead person in casting out other evil spirits by which his clients may be possessed. One of the miracles performed by the Baiga [बैगा] is to make his wet cloth stand in the air stiff and straight, holding only the two lower ends. He can cross a river walking on leaves, and change men into beasts. Witches are not very common among the Dhanwārs [धनुवार]. A witch, male or female, may be detected by a sunken and gloomy appearance of the eyes, a passionate temperament, or by being found naked in a graveyard at night, as only a witch would go there to raise a corpse from the dead. The Dhanwārs [धनुवार] eat nearly all kinds of food except beef and the leavings of others. They will take cooked food from the hands of Kawars [कवर], and the men also from Gonds [गोंड], but not the women. In some places they will accept food from Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], but not everywhere. They are not an impure caste, but usually live in a separate hamlet of their own, and are lower than the Gonds [गोंड] and Kawars [कवर], who will take water from them but not food. They are a very primitive people, and it is stated that at the census several of them left their huts and fled into the jungle, and were with difficulty induced to return. When an elder man dies his family usually abandon their hut, as it is believed that his spirit haunts it and causes death to any one who lives there.11. Social rules.
A Kawar [कवर] is always permitted to become a Dhanwār [धनुवार], and a woman of the Gond [गोंड], Binjhwār [बिंझवार] and Rāwat [रावत] tribes, if such a one is living with a Dhanwār [धनुवार], may be married to him with the approval of the tribe. She does not enjoy the full status of membership herself, but it is accorded to her children. When an outsider is to be admitted a panchāyat [पंचायत] of five Dhanwārs [धनुवार] is assembled, one of whom must be of the Mājhi [माझी] sept. The members of the panchāyat [पंचायत] hold out their right hands, palm upwards, one below the other, and beneath them the candidate and his wife place their hands. The Mājhi [माझी] pours water from a brass vessel on to the topmost hand, and it trickles down from one to the other on to those of the candidate and his wife. The blood of a slaughtered goat is mixed with the water in their palms and they sip it, and after giving a feast to the caste are considered as Dhanwārs [धनुवार]. Permanent exclusion from caste is imposed only for living with a man or woman of another caste other than those who may become Dhanwārs [धनुवार], or for taking food from a member of an impure caste, the only ones which are lower than the Dhanwārs [धनुवार]. Temporary exclusion for an indefinite period is awarded for an irregular connection between a Dhanwār [धनुवार] man and woman, or of a Dhanwār [धनुवार] with a Kawar [कवर], Binjhwār [बिंझवार], Rāwat [रावत] or Gond [गोंड] ; on a family which harbours any one of its members who has been permanently expelled ; and on a woman who cuts the navel-cord of a newly-born child, whether of her own caste or not. Irregular sexual intimacies are usually kept secret and condoned by marriage whenever possible. A person expelled for any of the above offences cannot claim readmission as a right. He must first please the members of the caste, and to do this he attends every caste feast without being invited, removes their leaf-plates with the leavings of food, and waits on them generally, and continually proffers his prayer for readmission. When the other Dhanwārs [धनुवार] are satisfied with his long and faithful service they take him back into the community. Temporary exclusion from caste, with the penalty of one or more feasts for readmission, is imposed for killing a cow or a cat accidentally, or in the course of giving it a beating ; for having a cow or bullock in one’s possession whose nostrils or ears get split ; for getting maggots in a wound ; for being beaten except by a Government official; for taking food from any higher caste other than those from whom food is accepted ; and in the case of a woman for saying her husband’s name aloud. This list of offences shows that the Dhanwārs [धनुवार] have almost completely adopted the Hindu code in social matters, while retaining their tribal religion. A person guilty of one of the above offences must have his or her head shaved by a barber, and make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Narsingh Nāth [नरसीम्हनाथ] in Bodāsāmar zamīndāri ; after having accomplished this he is purified by one of the Sonwāni [सोनवानी] sept, being given water in which gold has been dipped to drink through a bamboo tube, and he provides usually three feasts for the caste-fellows.
12. Dress and tattooing.
The tribe dress in the somewhat primitive fashion prevalent in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], and there is nothing distinctive about their clothing. Women are tattooed at their parents’ house before or just after marriage. It is said that the tattoo marks remain on the soul after death, and that she shows them to God, probably for purposes of identification. There is a saying, ‘All other pleasures are transient, but the tattoo marks are my companions through life.’ A Dhanwār [धनुवार] will not take water from a woman who is not tattooed.
13. Names of children.
Children are named on the chathi [छठी] or sixth day after birth, and the parents always ascertain from a wise man whether the soul of any dead relative has been born again in the child so that they may name it after him. It is also thought that the sex may change in transmigration, for male children are sometimes named after women relatives and female after men. Mr. Hira Lāl [हीरालाल] notes the following instance of the names of four children in a family.
- The eldest was named after his grandfather ;
- the second was called Bhālu [भालू] or bear, as his maternal uncle who had been eaten by a bear was reborn in him ;
- the third was called Ghāsi [घासी], the name of a low caste of grass-cutters, because the two children born before him had died ;
- and the fourth was called Kausi, because the sorcerer could not identify the spirit of any relative as having been born again in him. The name Kausi is given to any one who cannot remember his sept, as in the saying, ‘ Bhūle bisāre kausi got.' or ‘ A man who has got no got [गोत्र] belongs to the Kausi got'. Kausi is said to mean a stranger.
Bad names are commonly given to avert ill-luck or premature death, as
- Boya, a liar ;
- Labdu, one smeared with ashes ;
- Marha, a corpse ;
or after some physical defect as
- Lati, one with clotted hair ;
- Petwa, a stammerer ;
- Lendra, shy ;
- Ghundu, one who cannot walk ;
- Ghunari, stunted ;
or from the place of birth, as
- Dongariha or Pahāru, born on a hill ;
- Banjariha, born in brushwood,
- and so on.
A man will not mention the names of his wife, his son’s wife or his sister’s son’s wife, and a woman will not name her husband or his elder brother or parents. As already stated, a woman saying her husband’s name aloud is temporarily put out of caste, the Hindu custom being thus carried to extremes, as is often the case among the lower castes.
The tribe consider hunting to have been their proper calling, but many of them are now cultivators and labourers. They also make bamboo matting and large baskets for storing grain, but they will not make small bamboo baskets or fans, because this is the calling of the Turis [तुरी], on whom the Dhanwār [धनुवार] looks down. The women collect the leaves of sāl [साल] (Shorea robusta)t rees and sell them at the rate of about ten bundles for a pice (farthing) for use as chongis [चोंगी] or leaf-pipes. As already stated, the tribe have no language of their own, but speak a corrupt form of Chhattisgarhi [छत्तीसगढ़ी] ."
[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. 2. -- S. 488 - 501]
"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,
- 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:
and for eleven (1 and following numbers), they prefix the word Go, e.g.,
- 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.,
- sāt [ସାତ],
- āt [ଆଠ],
- nō [ନଅ],
- das [ଦଶ], etc.
The Bonda Poraja [ବଣ୍ଡା ଜନଜାତି] numerals recorded by Mr. Francis are
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]
"Pārdhi [पारधी]1, Bahelia [बहेलिया], Mīrshikār, Moghia [मोघिया], Shikāri [शिकारी], Tākankar [टाकनकार] [टाकनकार].—
1 This article is partly compiled from papers by Mr. Adurām Chaudhri and Pandit Pyāre Lai Misra of the Gazetteer Office, and extracts from Mr. Kitts’ Berār Census Report (1881), and Mr. Sewell’s note on the caste quoted in Mr. Layer’s Lectures on the Criminal Tribes of the Central Provinces.
1. General notice of the caste.
A low caste of wandering fowlers and hunters. They numbered about 15,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार] in 1911, and are found scattered over several Districts. These figures include about 2000 Bahelias [बहेलिया]. The word Pārdhi [पारधी] is derived from the Marathi [मराठी] paradh, hunting. Shikāri [शिकारी], the common term for a native hunter, is an alternative name for the caste, but particularly applied to those who use firearms, which most Pārdhis [पारधी] refuse to do. Moghia [मोघिया] is the Hindustāni [हिंदुस्तानी / ہندوستانی] word for fowler, and Tākankar [टाकनकार] is the name of a small occupational offshoot of the Pārdhis [पारधी] in Berār [बेरार], who travel from village to village and roughen the household grinding-mills when they have worn smooth. The word is derived from tākna, to tap or chisel. The caste appears to be a mixed group made up of Bawarias [बावरिया] or other Rājpūt [राजपूत] outcastes, Gonds [गोंड] and social derelicts from all sources. The Pārdhis [पारधी] perhaps belong more especially to the Marātha [मराठा] country, as they are numerous in Khāndesh [ख़ानदेश], and many of them talk a dialect of Gujarāti [ગુજરાતી]. In the northern Districts their speech is a mixture of Mārwāri [मारवाड़ी] and Hindi [हिन्दी], while they often know Marathi [मराठी] or Urdu [اردو] as well. The name for the similar class of people in northern India is Bahelia [बहेलिया], and in the Central Provinces the Bahelias [बहेलिया] and Pārdhis [पारधी] merge into one another and are not recognisable as distinct groups. The caste is recruited from the most diverse elements, and women of any except the impure castes can be admitted into the community; and on this account their customs differ greatly in different localities. According to their own legends the first ancestor of the Pārdhis [पारधी] was a Gond [गोंड], to whom Mahādeo [महादेव] taught the art of snaring game so that he might avoid the sin of shooting it ; and hence the ordinary Pārdhis [पारधी] never use a gun.2. Subdivisions.
Like other wandering castes the Pārdhis [पारधी] have a large number of endogamous groups, varying lists being often given in different areas. The principal subcastes appear to be
- the Shikāri [शिकारी] or Bhīl [भील] Pārdhis [पारधी], who use firearms ;
- the Phānse Pārdhis [फासेपारधी], who hunt with traps and snares ;
- the Langoti Pārdhis [लंगोटी पारधी], so called because they wear only a narrow strip of cloth round the loins ;
- and the Tākankars [टाकनकार].
Both the Tākankars [टाकनकार] and Langotis [लंगोटी] have strong criminal tendencies. Several other groups are recorded in different Districts, as
- the Chitewāle [चीतेवाले], who hunt with a tame leopard ;
- the Gāyake [गायके], who stalk their prey behind a bullock ;
- the Gosain Pārdhis [गोसाईं पारधी], who dress like religious mendicants in ochre-coloured clothes and do not kill deer, but only hares, jackals and foxes ;
- the Shīshi ke Telwāle [तेलवाले], who sell crocodile’s oil ; and -
- the Bandarwāle [बंदरवाले] who go about with performing monkeys.
The Bahelias [बहेलिया] have a subcaste known as Kārijāt, the members of which only kill birds of a black colour. Their exogamous groups are nearly all those of Rājpūt [राजपूत] tribes, as
- Sesodia [सिसोदिया],
- Panwār [पंवार],
- Solanki [સોલંકી],
- Chauhān [चौहान],
- Rāthor [राठौड़],
- and so on ;
it is probable that these have been adopted through imitation by vagrant Bawarias [बावरिया] and others sojourning in Rājputāna [राजपुताना]. There are also a few groups with titular or other names, and it is stated that members of clans bearing Rājpūt [राजपूत] names will take daughters from the others in marriage, but will not give their daughters to them.
3. Marriage and funeral customs.
Girls appear to be somewhat scarce in the caste and a bride-price is usually paid, which is given as Rs. 9 in Chanda [चंदा], Rs. 35 in Bilāspur [बिलासपुर], and Rs. 60 or more in Hoshangābād [होशंगाबाद] and Saugor [सागर]. If a girl should be seduced by a man of the caste she would be united to him by the ceremony of customs, a widow’s marriage : but her family will require a bride from her husband’s family in exchange for the girl whose value he has destroyed. Even if led astray by an outsider a girl may be readmitted into the caste ; and in the extreme case of her being debauched by her brother, she may still be married to one of the community, but no one will take food from her hands during her lifetime, though her children will be recognised as proper Pārdhis [पारधी]. A special fine of Rs. 100 is imposed on a brother who commits this crime. The ceremony of marriage varies according to the locality in which they reside ; usually the couple walk seven times round a tānda or collection of their small mat tents. In Berār [बेरार] a cloth is held up by four poles as a canopy over them and they are preceded by a married woman carrying five pitchers of water. Divorce and the marriage of widows are freely permitted. The caste commonly bury their dead, placing the head to the north. They do not shave their heads in token of mourning.
In Berār [बेरार] their principal deity is the goddess Devi [देवी], who is known by different names. Every family of Langoti Pārdhis [लंगोटी पारधी] has, Mr. Gayer states,1 its image in silver of the goddess, and because of this no Langoti Pārdhi [लंगोटी पारधी] woman will wear silver below the waist or hang her sāri [साड़ी] on a peg, as it must never be put on the same level as the goddess. They also sometimes refuse to wear red or coloured clothes, one explanation for this being that the image of the goddess is placed on a bed of red cloth. In Hoshangābād [होशंगाबाद] their principal deity is called Guraiya Deo [गुरैयादेव], and his image, consisting of a human figure embossed in silver, is kept in a leather bag on the west side of their tents ; and for this reason women going out of the encampment for a necessary purpose always proceed to the east. They also sleep with their feet to the east. Goats are offered to Guraiya Deo [गुरैयादेव] and their horns are placed in his leather bag. In Hoshangābād [होशंगाबाद] they sacrifice a fowl to the ropes of their tents at the Dasahra [दशहर] and Diwāli [दीवाली] festivals, and on the former occasion clean their hunting implements and make offerings to them of turmeric and rice. They are reported to believe that the sun and moon die and are reborn daily. The hunter’s calling is one largely dependent on luck or chance, and, as might be expected, the Pārdhis [पारधी] are firm believers in omens, and observe various rules by which they think their fortune will be affected. A favourite omen is the simple device of taking some rice or juāri [ज्वारी] in the hand and counting the grains. Contrary to the usual rule, even numbers are considered lucky and odd ones unlucky. If the first result is unsatisfactory a second or third trial may be made. If a winnowing basket or millstone be let fall and drop to the right hand it is a lucky omen, and similarly if a flower from Devi’s [देवी] garland should fall to the right side. The bellowing of cows, the mewing of a cat, the howling of a jackal and sneezing are other unlucky omens. If a snake passes from left to right it is a bad omen and if from right to left a good one. A man must not sleep with his head on the threshold of a house or in the doorway of a tent under penalty of a fine of Rs. 2-8 ; the only explanation given of this rule is that such a position is unlucky because a corpse is carried out across the threshold. A similar penalty is imposed if he falls down before his wife even by accident. A Pārdhi [पारधी], with the exception of members of the Sesodia [सिसोदिया] clan, must never sleep on a cot, a fine of five rupees being imposed for a breach of this rule. A man who has once caught a deer must not again have the hair of his head touched by a razor, and thus the Pārdhis [पारधी] may be recognised by their long and unkempt locks. A breach of this rule is punished with a fine of fifteen rupees, but it is not observed everywhere. A woman must never step across the rope or peg of a tent, nor upon the place where the blood of a deer has flowed on to the ground. During her monthly period of impurity a woman must not cross a river nor sit in a boat. A Pārdhi [पारधी] will never kill or sell a dog and they will not hunt wild dogs even if money is offered to them. This is probably because they look upon the wild dog as a fellow-hunter, and consider that to do him injury would bring ill-luck upon themselves. A Pārdhi [पारधी] has also theoretically a care for the preservation of game. When he has caught a number of birds in his trap, he will let a pair of them loose so that they may go on breeding. Women are not permitted to take any part in the work of hunting, but are confined strictly to their household duties. A woman who kicks her husband’s stick is fined Rs. 2-8. The butt end of the stick is employed for mixing vegetables and other purposes, but the meaning of the rule is not clear unless one of its uses is for the enforcement of conjugal discipline. A Pārdhi [पारधी] may not swear by a dog, a cat or a squirrel. Their most solemn oath is in the name of their deity Guraiya Deo [गुरैयादेव], and it is believed that any one who falsely takes this oath will become a leper. The Phānse Pārdhis [फासेपारधी] may not travel in a railway train, and some of them are forbidden even to use a cart or other conveyance.
1 Lectures of Criminal Tribes of the C.P., p. 19.
5. Dress, food and social customs.
In dress and appearance the Pārdhis [पारधी] are disreputable and dirty. Their features are dark and their hair matted and unkempt. They never wear shoes and say that they are protected by a special promise of the goddess Devi [देवी] to their first ancestor that no insect or reptile in the forests should injure them. The truth is, no doubt, that shoes would make it impossible for them to approach their game without disturbing it, and from long practice the soles of their feet become impervious to thorns and minor injuries. Similarly the Langoti Pārdhis [लंगोटी पारधी] are so called because they wear only a narrow strip of cloth round the loins, the reason probably being that a long one would impede them by flapping and catching in the brushwood. But the explanation which they themselves give,1 a somewhat curious one in view of their appearance, is that an ordinary dhoti [धोटी] or loin-cloth if worn might become soiled and therefore unlucky. Their women do not have their noses pierced and never wear spangles or other marks on the forehead. The Pārdhis [पारधी] still obtain fire by igniting a piece of cotton with flint and iron. Mr. Sewell notes that their women eat at the same time as the men, instead of after them as among most Hindus. They explain this custom by saying that on one occasion a woman tried to poison her husband and it was therefore adopted as a precaution against similar attempts ; but no doubt it has always prevailed, and the more orthodox practice would be almost incompatible with their gipsy-life. Similar reasons of convenience account for their custom of celebrating marriages all the year round and neglecting the Hindu close season of the four months of the rains. They travel about with little huts made of matting, which can be rolled up and carried off in a few minutes. If rain comes on they seek shelter in the nearest village.2 In some localities the caste eat no food cooked with butter or oil. They are usually considered as an impure caste, whose touch is a defilement to Hindus. Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] do not officiate at their ceremonies, though the Pārdhis [पारधी] resort to the village Joshi [जोशी] or astrologer to have a propitious date indicated for marriages. They have to pay for such services in money, as Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] usually refuse to accept even uncooked grain from them. After childbirth women are held to be impure and forbidden to cook for their families for a period varying from six weeks to six months. During their periodical impurity they are secluded for four, six or eight days, the Pārdhis [पारधी] observing very strict rules in these matters, as is not infrequently the case with the lowest castes. Their caste meetings, Mr. Sewell states, are known as Deokāria [देवकार्य] or ‘An act performed in honour of God’ ; at these meetings arrangements for expeditions are discussed and caste disputes decided. The penalty for social offences is a fine of a specified quantity of liquor, the liquor provided by male and female delinquents being drunk by the men and women respectively. The punishment for adultery in either sex consists in cutting off a piece of the left ear with a razor, and a man guilty of intercourse with a prostitute is punished as if he had committed adultery. The Pārdhi [पारधी] women are said to be virtuous.
1 Berār Census Report (1881), p. 135.
2 Bombay Ethnographic Surrey, art. Pārdhi.
The Pārdhis [पारधी] still preserve the primitive method of trial by ordeal. If a woman is suspected of misconduct she is made to pick a pice coin out of boiling oil ; or a pīpal [पीपल - Ficus religiosa L. 1753 not Forssk. 1775] leaf is placed on her hand and a red-hot axe laid over it, and if her hand is burnt or she refuses to stand the test she is pronounced guilty. Or, in the case of a man, the accused is made to dive into water ; and as he dives an arrow is shot from a bow. A swift runner fetches and brings back the arrow, and if the diver can remain under water until the runner has returned he is held to be innocent. In Nimār [निमाड़], if an unmarried girl becomes pregnant, two cakes of dough are prepared, a piece of silver being placed in one and a lump of coal in the other. The girl takes one of the cakes, and if it is found to contain the coal she is expelled from the community, while if she chooses the piece of silver, she is pardoned and made over to one of the caste. The idea of the ordeal is apparently to decide the question whether her condition was caused by a Pārdhi [पारधी] or an outsider.
7. Methods of catching birds.
The Phānse Pārdhis [फासेपारधी] hunt all kinds of birds and the smaller animals with the phanda [फंदा] or snare. Mr. Ball describes their procedure as follows: 1
1 Jungle Life in India, pp. 586-587.
“For peacock, sāras crane [सारस - Antigone antigone] and bustard they have a long series of nooses, each provided with a wooden peg and all connected with a long string. The tension necessary to keep the nooses open is afforded by a slender slip of antelope’s horn (very much resembling whalebone), which forms the core of the loop. Provided with several sets of these nooses, a trained bullock and a shield-like cloth screen dyed buff and pierced with eye-holes, the bird-catcher sets out for the jungle, and on seeing a flock of pea-fowl circles round them under cover of the screen and the bullock, which he guides by a nose-string. The birds feed on undisturbed, and the man rapidly pegs out his long strings of nooses, and when all are properly disposed, moves round to the opposite side of the birds and shows himself; when they of course run off, and one or more getting their feet in the nooses fall forwards and flap on the ground ; the man immediately captures them, knowing that if the strain is relaxed the nooses will open and permit of the bird’s escape. Very cruel practices are in vogue with these people with reference to the captured birds, in order to keep them alive until a purchaser is found. The peacocks have a feather passed through the eyelids, by which means they are effectually blinded, while in the case of smaller birds both the legs and wings are broken.”
Deer, hares and even pig are also caught by a strong rope with running nooses. For smaller birds the appliance is a little rack about four inches high with uprights a few inches apart, between each of which is hung a noose. Another appliance mentioned by Mr. Ball is a set of long conical bag nets, which are kept open by hooks and provided with a pair of folding doors. The Pārdhi [पारधी] has also a whistle made of deer-horn, with which he can imitate the call of the birds. Tree birds are caught with bird-lime as described by Sir G. Grierson.1 The Bahelia [बहेलिया] has several long shafts of bamboos called nal or nar, which are tied together like a fishing rod, the endmost one being covered with bird-lime. Concealing himself behind his bamboo screen the Bahelia [बहेलिया] approaches the bird and when near enough strikes and secures it with his rod ; or he may spread some grain out at a short distance, and as the birds are hopping about over it he introduces the pole, giving it a zig-zag movement and imitating as far as possible the progress of a snake. Having brought the point near one of the birds, which is fascinated by its stealthy approach, he suddenly jerks it into its breast and then drawing it to him, releases the poor palpitating creature, putting it away in his bag, and recommences the same operation. This method does not require the use of bird-lime.
1 Peasant Life in Bihār, p. 808. Hunting with leopards.
The manner in which the Chita Pārdhis [पारधी] use the hunting leopard (Felis jubata [Acinonyx jubatus - Gepard]) for catching deer has often been described.1 The leopard is caught full-grown by a noose in the manner related above. Its neck is first clasped in a wooden vice until it is half-strangled, and its feet are then bound with ropes and a cap slipped over its head. It is partially starved for a time, and being always fed by the same man, after a month or so it becomes tame and learns to know its master. It is then led through villages held by ropes on each side to accustom it to the presence of human beings. On a hunting party the leopard is carried on a cart, hooded, and, being approached from down wind, the deer allow the cart to get fairly close to them. The Indian antelope or black-buck are the usual quarry, and as these frequent cultivated land, they regard country carts without suspicion. The hood is then taken off and the leopard springs forward at the game with extreme velocity, perhaps exceeding that which any other quadruped possesses. The accounts given by Jerdon say that for the moment its speed is greater than that of a race-horse. It cannot maintain this for more than three or four hundred yards, however, and if in that distance the animal has not seized its prey, it relinquishes the pursuit and stalks about in a towering passion. The Pārdhis [पारधी] say that when it misses the game the leopard is as sulky as a human being and sometimes refuses food for a couple of days. If successful in the pursuit, it seizes the antelope by the throat ; the keeper then comes up, and cutting the animal’s throat collects some of the blood in the wooden ladle with which the leopard is always fed ; this is offered to him, and dropping his hold he laps it up eagerly, when the hood is cleverly slipped on again.
1 See Jerdon's Mammals of India, p. 97. The account there given is quoted in the Chhindwāra District Gazetteer, pp. 16-17.
The conducting of the cheetah from its cage to the chase is by no means an easy matter. The keeper leads him along, as he would a large dog, with a chain ; and for a time as they scamper over the country the leopard goes willingly enough ; but if anything arrests his attention, some noise from the forest, some scented trail upon the ground, he moves more slowly, throws his head aloft and peers savagely round. A few more minutes perhaps and he would be unmanageable. The keeper, however, is prepared for the emergency. He holds in his left hand a cocoanut shell, sprinkled on the inside with salt; and by means of a handle affixed to the shell he puts it at once over the nose of the cheetah. The animal licks the salt, loses the scent, forgets the object which arrested his attention, and is led quietly along again.1
1 Private Life of an Eastern King, p. 75.
9. Decoy stags.
For hunting stags, tame stags were formerly used as decoys according to the method described as follows :
“We had about a dozen trained stags, all males, with us. These, well acquainted with the object for which they were sent forward, advanced at a gentle trot over the open ground towards the skirt of the wood. They were observed at once by the watchers of the herd, and the boldest of the wild animals advanced to meet them. Whether the intention was to welcome them peacefully or to do battle for their pasturage I cannot tell ; but in a few minutes the two parties were engaged in a furious contest Head to head, antlers to antlers, the tame deer and the wild fought with great fury. Each of the tame animals, every one of them large and formidable, was closely engaged in contest with a wild adversary, standing chiefly on the defensive, not in any feigned battle or mimicry of war but in a hard-fought combat. We now made our appearance in the open ground on horseback, advancing towards the scene of conflict. The deer on the skirts of the wood, seeing us, took to flight ; but those actually engaged maintained their ground and continued the contest. In the meantime a party of native huntsmen, sent for the purpose, gradually drew near to the wild stags, getting in between them and the forest. What their object was we were not at the time aware ; in truth it was not one that we could have approved or encouraged. They made their way into the rear of the wild stags, which were still combating too fiercely to mind them ; they approached the animals, and with a skilful cut of their long knives the poor warriors fell hamstrung. We felt pity for the noble animals as we saw them fall helplessly on the ground, unable longer to continue the contest and pushed down of course by the decoy-stags. Once down, they were unable to rise again.” 11 Private Life of an Eastern King, p. 69, 71.
Hawks were also used in a very ingenious fashion to prevent duck from flying away when put upon water :
“The trained hawks were now brought into requisition, and marvellous it was to see the instinct with which they seconded the efforts of their trainers. The ordinary hawking of the heron we had at a later period of this expedition ; but the use now made of the animal was altogether different, and displayed infinitely more sagacity than one would suppose likely to be possessed by such an animal. These were trained especially for the purpose for which they were now employed. A flight of ducks—thousands of birds—were enticed upon the water as before by scattering corn over it. The hawks were then let fly, four or five of them. We made our appearance openly upon the bank, guns in hand, and the living swarm of birds rose at once into the air. The hawks circled above them, however, in a rapid revolving flight and they dared not ascend high. Thus was our prey retained fluttering in mid-air, until hundreds had paid the penalty with their lives. Only picture in your mind’s eye the circling hawks above gyrating monotonously, the fluttering captives in mid-air, darting now here, now there to escape, and still coward-like huddling together ; and the motley group of sportsmen on the bank and you have the whole scene before you at once.” 1
1 Private Life of an Eastern King, p. 39-40.
11. Crocodile fishing.
For catching crocodile, a method by which as already stated one group of the Pārdhis [पारधी] earn their livelihood, a large double hook is used, baited with a piece of putrid deer’s flesh and attached to a hempen rope 70 or 80 feet long. When the crocodile has swallowed the hook, twenty or thirty persons drag the animal out of the water and it is despatched with axes. Crocodiles are hunted only in the months of Pūs [पूस] (December), Māgh [माघ] (January) and Chait [चैत] (March), when they are generally fat and yield plenty of oil. The flesh is cut into pieces and stewed over a slow fire, when it exudes a watery oil. This is strained and sold in bottles at a rupee a seer (2 lbs.). It is used as an embrocation for rheumatism and for neck galls of cattle. The Pārdhis [पारधी] do not eat crocodile’s flesh.
12. Other occupations and criminal practices.
A body of Pārdhis [पारधी] are sometimes employed by all the cultivators of a village jointly for the purpose of watching the spring crops during the day and keeping black-buck out criminal of them. They do this perhaps for two or three months and receive a fixed quantity of grain. The Tākankars [टाकनकार] are regularly employed as village servants in Berār [बेरार] and travel about roughening the stones of the household grinding-mills when their surfaces have worn smooth. For this they receive an annual contribution of grain from each household. The caste generally have criminal tendencies and Mr. Sewell states, that
“ The Langoti Pārdhis [लंगोटी पारधी] and Tākankars [टाकनकार] are the worst offenders. Ordinarily when committing dacoity they are armed with sticks and stones only. In digging through a wall they generally leave a thin strip at which the leader carefully listens before finally bursting through. Then when the hole has been made large enough, he strikes a match and holding it in front of him so that his features are shielded has a good survey of the room before entering. . . . As a rule, they do not divide the property on or near the scene of the crime, but take it home. Generally it is carried by one of the gang well behind the rest so as to enable it to be hidden if the party is challenged.”
In Bombay [मुंबई] they openly rob the standing crops, and the landlords stand in such awe of them that they secure their goodwill by submitting to a regular system of blackmail.1
1 Bombay Ethnographic Survey, ibidem."
[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. 359 - 370]
Abb.: 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,
- Karadi, and
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,
- Sarahu (or Saragu),
- Ettarai Kōppu,
- Tānambanādu or Valuvādi,
- Nadunāttu or Asal,
- Vanniya [வன்னியர்],
- Ambunādu, and
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