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Title: Castes and Tribes of Southern India - Vol. 5 of 7
Author: Thurston, Edgar, 1855-1935
Language: English
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                           CASTES AND TRIBES
                                   OF
                             SOUTHERN INDIA

                                   By

                        EDGAR THURSTON, C.I.E.,

   Superintendent, Madras Government Museum; Correspondant Étranger,
    Société d'Anthropologie de Paris; Socio Corrispondante, Societa,
                        Romana di Anthropologia.

                              Assisted by

                          K. Rangachari, M.A.,
                    of the Madras Government Museum.



                            Volume V--M to P

                        Government Press, Madras

                                 1909.



                  CASTES AND TRIBES OF SOUTHERN INDIA.

                               VOLUME V.


MARAKKAYAR.--The Marakkayars are described, in the Madras Census
Report, 1901, as "a Tamil-speaking Musalman tribe of mixed Hindu and
Musalman origin, the people of which are usually traders. They seem
to be distinct from the Labbais (q.v.) in several respects, but the
statistics of the two have apparently been confused, as the numbers
of the Marakkayars are smaller than they should be." Concerning
the Marakkayars of the South Arcot district, Mr. Francis writes as
follows. [1] "The Marakkayars are largely big traders with other
countries such as Ceylon and the Straits Settlements, and own most
of the native coasting craft. They are particularly numerous in
Porto Novo. The word Marakkayar is usually derived from the Arabic
markab, a boat. The story goes that, when the first immigrants of this
class (who, like the Labbais, were driven from their own country by
persecutions) landed on the Indian shore, they were naturally asked
who they were, and whence they came. In answer they pointed to their
boats, and pronounced the word markab, and they became in consequence
known to the Hindus as Marakkayars, or the people of markab. The
Musalmans of pure descent hold themselves to be socially superior to
the Marakkaayars, and the Marakkayars consider themselves better than
the Labbais. There is, of course, no religious bar to intermarriages
between these different sub-divisions, but such unions are rare,
and are usually only brought about by the offer of strong financial
inducements to the socially superior party. Generally speaking, the
pure-bred Musalmans differ from those of mixed descent by dressing
themselves and their women in the strict Musalman fashion, and by
speaking Hindustani at home among themselves. Some of the Marakkayars
are now following their example in both these matters, but most of
them affect the high hat of plaited coloured grass and the tartan
(kambayam) waist-cloth. The Labbais also very generally wear these,
and so are not always readily distinguishable from the Marakkayars,
but some of them use the Hindu turban and waist-cloth, and let their
womankind dress almost exactly like Hindu women. In the same way, some
Labbais insist on the use of Hindustani in their houses, while others
speak Tamil. There seems to be a growing dislike to the introduction of
Hindu rites into domestic ceremonies, and the processions and music,
which were once common at marriages, are slowly giving place to a
simpler ritual more in resemblance with the nikka ceremony of the
Musalman faith."

Of 13,712 inhabitants of Porto Novo returned at the census, 1901,
as many as 3,805 were Muhammadans. "The ordinary vernacular name
of the town is Farangipettai or European town, but the Musalmans
call it Muhammad Bandar (Port). The interest of the majority of
the inhabitants centres in matters connected with the sea. A large
proportion of them earn their living either as owners of, or sailors
in, the boats which ply between the place and Ceylon and other parts,
and it is significant that the most popular of the unusually large
number of Musalman saints who are buried in the town is one Malumiyar,
who was apparently in his lifetime a notable sea-captain. His fame as
a sailor has been magnified into the miraculous, and it is declared
that he owned ten or a dozen ships, and used to appear in command of
all of them simultaneously. He has now the reputation of being able to
deliver from danger those who go down to the sea in ships, and sailors
setting out on a voyage or returning from one in safety usually put
an offering in the little box kept at his darga, and these sums are
expended in keeping that building lighted and whitewashed. Another
curious darga in the town is that of Araikasu Nachiyar, or the one
pie lady. Offerings to her must on no account be worth more than
one pie (1/192 of a rupee); tributes in excess of that value are
of no effect. If sugar for so small an amount cannot be procured,
the devotee spends the money on chunam (lime) for her tomb, and this
is consequently covered with a superabundance of whitewash. Stories
are told of the way in which the valuable offerings of rich men have
altogether failed to obtain her favour, and have had to be replaced
by others of the regulation diminutive dimensions. The chief mosque
is well kept. Behind it are two tombs, which stand at an odd angle
with one another, instead of being parallel as usual. The legend goes
that once upon a time there was a great saint called Hafiz Mir Sahib,
who had an even more devout disciple called Saiyad Shah. The latter
died and was duly buried, and not long after the saint died also. The
disciple had always asked to be buried at the feet of his master,
and so the grave of this latter was so placed that his feet were
opposite the head of his late pupil. But his spirit recognised that
the pupil was really greater than the master, and when men came later
to see the two graves they found that the saint had turned his tomb
round so that his feet no longer pointed with such lack of respect
towards the head of his disciple." [2]

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Jonagans are separated from
the Marakkayars, and are described as Musalman traders of partly
Hindu parentage. And, in the Gazetteer of South Arcot, Mr. Francis
says that "the term Jonagan or Sonagan, meaning a native of Sonagan
or Arabia, is applied by Hindus to both Labbais and Marakkayars, but
it is usually held to have a contemptuous flavour about it." There
is some little confusion concerning the exact application of the name
Jonagan, but I gather that it is applied to sea-fishermen and boatmen,
while the more prosperous traders are called Marakkayars. A point,
in which the Labbais are said to differ from the Marakkayars, is that
the former are Hanafis, and the latter Shafis.

The Marakkayars are said to admit converts from various Hindu classes,
who are called Pulukkais, and may not intermarry with the Marakkayars
for several generations, or until they have become prosperous.

In one form of the marriage rites, the ceremonial extends over four
days. The most important items on the first day are fixing the mehr
(bride-price) in the presence of the vakils (representatives), and
the performance of the nikka rite by the Kazi. The nikka kudbha is
read, and the hands of the contracting couple are united by male
elders, the bride standing within a screen. During the reading of
the kudbha, a sister of the bridegroom ties a string of black beads
round the bride's neck. All the women present set up a roar, called
kulavi-idal. On the following day, the couple sit among women, and
the bridegroom ties a golden tali on the bride's neck. On the third
or fourth day a ceremony called paparakkolam, or Brahman disguise,
is performed. The bride is dressed like a Brahman woman, and holds
a brass vessel in one hand, and a stick in the other. Approaching
the bridegroom, she strikes him gently, and says "Did not I give you
buttermilk and curds? Pay me for them." The bridegroom then places
a few tamarind seeds in the brass vessel, but the bride objects to
this, and demands money, accompanying the demand with strokes of
the stick. The man then places copper, silver, and gold coins in the
vessel, and the bride retires in triumph to her chamber.

Like the Labbais, the Marakkayars write Tamil in Arabic characters,
and speak a language called Arab-Tamil, in which the Kuran and other
books have been published. (See Labbai.)

Maralu (sand).--A gotra of Kurni.

Maran or Marayan.--The Marayans are summed up, in the Madras Census
Report, 1901, as being "temple servants and drummers in Malabar. Like
many of the Malabar castes, they must have come from the east coast,
as their name frequently occurs in the Tanjore inscriptions of 1013
A.D. They followed then the same occupation as that by which they live
to-day, and appear to have held a tolerably high social position. In
parts of North Malabar they are called Oc'chan."

"The development of this caste," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, [3]
"is interesting. In Chirakkal, the northernmost taluk of the Malabar
district, and in the adjoining Kasargod taluk of South Canara, Marayans
are barbers, serving Nayars and higher castes; in the Kottayam and
Kurumbranad taluks they are barbers and drummers, and also officiate
as purohits (priests) at the funeral ceremonies of Nayars. In the
latter capacity they are known in those parts also as Attikurissi
Marayan. Going still further south, we find the Nayar purohit called
simply Attikurissi, omitting the Marayan, and he considers it beneath
his dignity to shave. Nevertheless, he betrays his kinship with the
Marayan of the north by the privilege which he claims of cutting
the first hair when a Nayar is shaved after funeral obsequies. On
the other hand, the drummer, who is called Marayan, or honorifically
Marar, poses as a temple servant, and would be insulted if it were
said that he was akin to the shaving Marayan of the north. He is
considered next in rank only to Brahmans, and would be polluted by
the touch of Nayars. He loses caste by eating the food of Nayars,
but the Nayars also lose caste by eating his food. A proverb says
that a Marayan has four privileges:--


    1. Pani, or drum, beaten with the hand.
    2. Koni, or bier, i.e., the making of the bier.
    3. Natumittam, or shaving.
    4. Tirumittam, or sweeping the temple courts.


"In North Malabar a Marayan performs all the above duties even
now. In the south there appears to have been a division of labour,
and there a Marayan is in these days only a drummer and temple
servant. Funeral rites are conducted by an Attikurissi Marayan,
otherwise known as simply Attikurissi, and shaving is the duty of
the Velakattalavan. This appears to have been the case for many
generations, but I have not attempted to distinguish between the
two sections, and have classed all as barbers. Moreover, it is only
in parts of South Malabar that the caste has entirely given up the
profession of barber; and, curiously enough, these are the localities
where Nambudiri influence is supreme. The Marayans there appear
to have confined themselves to officiating as drummers in temples,
and to have obtained the title of Ambalavasi; and, in course of time,
they were even honoured with sambandham of Nambudiris. In some places
an attempt is made to draw a distinction between Marayan and Marayar,
the former denoting the barber, and the latter, which is merely the
honorific plural, the temple servant. There can, however, be little
doubt that this is merely an ex post facto argument in support of the
alleged superiority of those Marayans who have abandoned the barber's
brush. It may be here noted that it is common to find barbers acting
as musicians throughout the Madras Presidency, and that there are
several other castes in Malabar, such as the Tiyyans, Mukkuvans,
etc., who employ barbers as purohits at their funeral ceremonies."

In the Cochin Census Report, 1901, Mr. M. Sankara Menon writes
that the Marars are "Sudras, and, properly speaking, they ought
to be classed along with Nayars. Owing, however, to their close
connection with services in temples, and the absence of free
interdining or intermarriage with Nayars, they are classed along
with Ambalavasis. They are drummers, musicians, and storekeepers in
temples. Like Tiyattu Nambiyars, some sections among them also draw
figures of the goddess in Bhagavati temples, and chant songs. In
some places they are also known as Kuruppus. Some sub-castes among
them do not dine, or intermarry. As they have generally to serve in
temples, they bathe if they touch Nayars. In the matter of marriage
(tali-kettu and sambandham), inheritance, period of pollution, etc.,
they follow customs exactly like those of Nayars. In the southern
taluks Elayads officiate as purohits, but, in the northern taluks,
their own castemen take the part of the Elayads in their sradha
ceremonies. The tali-kettu is likewise performed by Tirumalpads in
the southern taluks, but by their own castemen, called Enangan, in
the northern taluks. Their castemen or Brahmans unite themselves with
their women in sambandham. As among Nayars, purificatory ceremonies
after funerals, etc., are performed by Cheethiyans or Nayar priests."

For the following detailed note on the Marans of Travancore I am
indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Iyer, The name Maran has nothing to do
with maranam or death, as has been supposed, but is derived from the
Tamil root mar, to beat. In the Tanjore inscriptions of the eleventh
century, the caste on the Coromandel coast appears to have been
known by this name. The Marans correspond to the Occhans of the Tamil
country, and a class of Marans in North Malabar are sometimes called by
this designation. In the old revenue records of the Travancore State,
Mangalyam appears to be the term made use of. The two well-known
titles of the caste are Kuruppu and Panikkar, both conveying the idea
of a person who has some allotted work to perform. In modern days,
English-educated men appear to have given these up for Pillai, the
titular affix added to the name of the Sudra population generally.

Marans may be divided into two main divisions, viz., Marans who
called themselves Marars in North Travancore, and who now hesitate to
assist other castes in the performance of their funeral rites; and
Marans who do not convert their caste designation into an honorific
plural, and act as priests for other castes. This distinction is most
clearly marked in North Travancore, while to the south of Alleppey
the boundary line may be said to remain only dim. In this part of
the country, therefore, a fourfold division of the caste is the
one best known to the people, namely Orunul, Irunul, Cheppat, and
Kulanji. The Orunuls look upon themselves as higher than the Irunuls,
basing their superiority on the custom obtaining among them of marrying
only once in their lifetime, and contracting no second alliance after
the first husband's death. Living, however, with a Brahman, or one
of a distinctly higher caste, is tolerated among them in the event
of that calamity. The word Orunul means one string, and signifies
the absence of widow marriage, Among the Irunuls (two strings) the
tali-tier is not necessarily the husband, nor is a second husband
forbidden after the death of the first. Cheppat and Kulanji were once
mere local varieties, but have now become separate sub-divisions. The
males of the four sections, but not the females, interdine. With what
rapidity castes sub-divide and ramify in Travancore may be seen from
the fact of the existence of a local variety of Marans called Muttal,
meaning substitute or emergency employée, in the Kalkulam taluk,
who are believed to represent an elevation from a lower to a higher
class of Marans, rendered necessary by a temple exigency. The Marans
are also known as Asupanis, as they alone are entitled to sound the
two characteristic musical instruments, of Malabar temples, called
asu and pani. In the south they are called Chitikans, a corruption
of the Sanskrit chaitika, meaning one whose occupation relates to the
funeral pile, and in the north Asthikkurichis (asthi, a bone), as they
help the relations of the dead in the collection of the bones after
cremation. The Marans are, further, in some places known as Potuvans,
as their services are engaged at the funerals of many castes.

Before the days of Sankaracharya, the sole occupation of the Marans
is said to have been beating the drum in Brahmanical temples. When
Sankaracharya was refused assistance in the cremation of his dead
mother by the Nambutiri Brahmans, he is believed to have sought in
despair the help of one of these temple servants, with whose aid the
corpse was divided into eight parts, and deposited in the pit. For
undertaking this duty, which the Nambutiris repudiated from a sense of
offended religious feeling, the particular Maran was thrown out of his
caste by the general community, and a compromise had to be effected
by the sage with the rest of the caste, who returned in a body on
the day of purification along with the excommunicated man, and helped
Sankaracharya to bring to a close his mother's death ceremonies. In
recognition of this timely help, Sankara is believed to have declared
the Maran to be an indispensable functionary at the death ceremonies
of Nambutiris and Ambalavasis. It has even been suggested that the
original form of Maran was Muran, derived from mur (to chop off),
in reference to the manner in which the remains of Sankara's mother
were disposed of.

The traditional occupation of the Marans is sounding or playing on the
panchavadya or five musical instruments used in temples. These are the
sankh or conch-shell, timila, chendu, kaimani, and maddalam. The conch,
which is necessary in every Hindu temple, is loudly sounded in the
early morning, primarily to wake the deity, and secondarily to rouse
the villagers. Again, when the temple service commences, and when the
nivedya or offering is carried, the music of the conch is heard from
the northern side of the temple. On this account, many Marans call
themselves Vadakkupurattu, or belonging to the northern side. The
asu and pani are sounded by the highest dignitaries among them. The
beating of the pani is the accompaniment of expiatory offerings to the
Saptamata, or seven mothers of Hindu religious writings, viz., Brahmi,
Mahesvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani, and Chamunda. Offerings
are made to these divine mothers during the daily sribali procession,
and in important temples also during the sribhutabali hours, and on the
occasion of the utsavabali at the annual utsava of the temple. There
are certain well-established rules prescribing the hymns to be
recited, and the music to be played. So religiously have these rules
to be observed during the utsavabali, that the priest who makes the
offering, the Variyar who carries the light before him and the Marans
who perform the music all have to fast, and to dress themselves in
orthodox Brahmanical fashion, with the uttariya or upper garment
worn in the manner of the sacred thread. It is sincerely believed
that the smallest violation of the rules would be visited with dire
consequences to the delinquents before the next utsava ceremony.

In connection with the musical instrument called the timila, the
following legend is current. There was a timila in the Sri Padmanabha
temple made of kuruntotti, and there was a Maran attached to the
temple, who was such an expert musician that the priest was unable to
adjust his hymn recitation to the music of the Maran's drum, and was
in consequence the recipient of the divine wrath. It was contrived
to get a Brahman youth to officiate as priest, and, as he could not
recite the hymns in consonance with the sounds produced by the drum,
a hungry spirit lifted him up from the ground to a height of ten
feet. The father of the youth, hearing what had occurred, hastened to
the temple, and cut one of his fingers, the blood of which he offered
to the spirit. The boy was then set free, and the old man, who was more
than a match for the Maran, began to recite the hymns. The spirits,
raising the Maran on high, sucked away his blood, and vanished. The
particular timila has since this event never been used by any Maran.

The higher classes of Marans claim six privileges, called pano, koni,
tirumuttam, natumuttam, velichchor, and puchchor. Koni means literally
a ladder, and refers to the stretcher, made of bamboo and kusa grass or
straw, on which the corpses of high caste Hindus are laid. Tirumuttam
is sweeping the temple courtyard, and natumuttam the erection of a
small pandal (booth) in the courtyard of a Nambutiri's house, where
oblations are offered to the departed spirit on the tenth day after
death. Velichchor, or sacrificial rice, is the right to retain the
remains of the food offered to the manes, and puchchor the offering
made to the deity, on whom the priest throws a few flowers as part
of the consecration ceremony.

A large portion of the time of a Maran is spent within the temple,
and all through the night some watch over it. Many functions are
attended to by them in the houses of Nambutiris. Not only at the
tonsure ceremony, and samavartana or closing of the Brahmacharya stage,
but also on the occasion of sacrificial rites, the Maran acts as the
barber. At the funeral ceremony, the preparation of the last bed,
and handing the til (Sesamum) seeds, have to be done by him. The
Chitikkans perform only the functions of shaving and attendance at
funerals, and, though they may beat drums in temples, they are not
privileged to touch the asu and pani. At Vechur there is a class
of potters called Kusa Maran, who should be distinguished from the
Marans proper, with whom they have absolutely nothing in common.

Many families of the higher division of the Marans regard themselves
as Ambalavasis, though of the lowest type, and abstain from flesh
and liquor. Some Marans are engaged in the practice of sorcery, while
others are agriculturists. Drinking is a common vice, sanctioned by
popular opinion owing to the notion that it is good for persons with
overworked lungs.

In their ceremonies the Marans resemble the Nayars, as they do also
in their caste government and religious worship. The annaprasana,
or first food-giving ceremony, is the only important one before
marriage, and the child is taken to the temple, where it partakes of
the consecrated food. The Nayars, on the contrary, generally perform
the ceremony at home. Purification by a Brahman is necessary to
release the Maran from death pollution, which is not the case with
the Nayars. In Travancore, at any rate, the Nayars are considered to
be higher in the social scale than the Marans.

In connection with asu and pani, which have been referred to in
this note, I gather that, in Malabar, the instruments called maram
(wood), timila, shanku, chengulam, and chenda, if played together,
constitute pani kottugu, or playing pani. Asu and maram are the
names of an instrument, which is included in pani kottugu. Among the
occasions when this is indispensable, are the dedication of the idol
at a newly built temple, the udsavam puram and Sriveli festivals,
and the carrying of the tadambu, or shield-like structure, on which
a miniature idol (vigraham) is borne outside the temple,

Marasari.--Marasari or Marapanikkan, meaning carpenter or worker in
wood, is an occupational sub-division of Malayalam Kammalas.

Maratha.--Marathas are found in every district of the Madras
Presidency, but are, according to the latest census returns, most
numerous in the following districts:--


                     South Canara   31,351
                     Salem           7,314
                     Tanjore         7,156
                     Bellary         6,311


It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that "the term
Marathi denotes the various Marathi non-Brahman castes, who came
to the south either as soldiers or camp followers in the armies of
the Marathi invaders; but in South Canara, in which district the
caste is most numerous, it appears to be the same as Are, a class of
Marathi cultivators. Of the total number of 65,961, as many as 40,871
have returned Marathi as both caste and sub-division. The number of
sub-divisions returned by the rest is no less than 305, of which the
majority are the names of other castes. Some of these castes are purely
Dravidian, and the names have evidently been used in their occupational
sense. For example, we have Bogam, Gandla, Mangala, etc." Mr. H. A,
Stuart writes further, in the South Canara Manual, that "Marathi, as a
caste name, is somewhat open to confusion, and it is probable that many
people of various castes, who speak Marathi, are shown as being of that
caste. The true Marathi caste is said to have come from Goa, and that
place is the head-quarters. The caste is divided into twelve wargs or
balis, which are exogamous sub-divisions. Caste disputes are settled
by headmen called Hontagaru, and allegiance is paid to the head of the
Sringeri math. The favourite deity is the goddess Mahadevi. Brahmans,
usually Karadis, officiate at their ceremonies. Marriage is both infant
and adult. The dhare form of marriage is used (see Bant). Widows may
remarry, but they cannot marry again into the family of the deceased
husband--a rule which is just the reverse of the Levirate. In some
parts, however, the remarriage of widows is prohibited. A husband
or a wife can divorce each other at will, and both parties may marry
again. Marathis are either farmers, labourers, or hunters. They eat
fish and flesh (except that of cattle and animals generally regarded
as unclean) and they use alcoholic liquors. They speak either the
ordinary Marathi or the Konkami dialect of it." The Marathis of South
Canara call themselves Are and Are Kshatri.

In the North Arcot Manual, Mr, Stuart records that the term Marathi is
"usually applied to the various Maratha Sudra castes, which have come
south. Their caste affix is always Rao. It is impossible to discover
to what particular Sudra division each belongs, for they do not seem
to know, and take advantage of being away from their own country to
assert that they are Kshatriyas--a claim which is ridiculed by other
castes. In marriage they are particular to take a bride only from
within the circle of their own family, so that an admixture of the
original castes is thus avoided. Their language is Marathi, but they
speak Telugu or Tamil as well, and engage in many professions. Many
are tailors. [4] Others enlist in the army, in the police, or as peons
(orderlies or messengers), and some take to agriculture or trading."

Of the history of Marathas in those districts in which they are most
prevalent, an account will be found in the Manuals and Gazetteers.

The last Maratha King of Tanjore, Maharaja Sivaji, died in 1855. It
is noted by Mr. M. J. Walhouse [5] that "an eye-witness has recorded
the stately and solemn spectacle of his funeral, when, magnificently
arranged, and loaded with the costliest jewels, his body, placed in
an ivory palanquin, was borne by night through the torchlit streets
of his royal city amid the wail of vast multitudes lamenting the
last of their ruling race. The nearest descendant, a boy of twelve,
was carried thrice round the pile, and at the last circuit a pot of
water was dashed to pieces on the ground. The boy then lit the pile,
and loud long-sustained lament of a nation filled the air as the
flames rose." Upon the death of Sivaji, the Raj became, under the
decision of the Court of Directors, extinct. His private estate was
placed under the charge of the Collector of the district. In addition
to three wives whom he had already married, Sivaji, three years before
his death, married in a body seventeen girls. In 1907, three of the
Ranis were still living in the palace at Tanjore. It is recorded [6]
by the Marchioness of Dufferin that, when the Viceroy visited the
Tanjore palace in 1886 to speak with the Ranis, he was admitted behind
the purdah, "The ladies had not expected him, and were not dressed
out in their best, and no one could speak any intelligible language,
However, a sort of chattering went on, and they made signs towards
a chair, which, being covered with crimson cloth, Dufferin thought
he was to sit down on. He turned and was just about to do so, when
he thought he saw a slight movement, and he fancied there might be
a little dog there, when two women pulled the cloth open, and there
was the principal Rani--a little old woman who reached half way up
the back of the chair, and whom the Viceroy had been within an act
of squashing. He said it gave him such a turn!"

A classified index to the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Tanjore palace
was published by Mr. A. C. Burnell in 1880. In the introduction
thereto, he states that "the library was first brought to the
notice of European scholars by H.S.H. Count Noer, Prince Frederic of
Schleswig-Holstein, who brought an account of it to the late Professor
Goldstücker. But its full importance was not known till I was deputed,
in 1871, to examine it by the then Governor of Madras, Lord Napier
and Ettrick. The manuscripts are the result of perhaps 300 years'
collections; firstly, by the Nayaks of Tanjore; secondly, after about
1675, by the Mahratha princes. Some of the palm-leaf manuscripts
belong to the earlier period, but the greater part were collected
in the last and present centuries. All the Nagari Manuscripts belong
to the Mahratha times, and a large number of these were collected at
Benares by the Raja Serfojee (Carabhoji) about fifty years ago."

In the Maratha Darbar Hall of the Tanjore palace are large pictures,
of little artistic merit, of all the Maratha kings, and the palace
also contains a fine statue of Sarabhoji by Chantrey. The small but
splendid series of Maratha arms from this palace constitutes one
of the most valuable assets of the Madras Museum. "The armoury,"
Mr. Walhouse writes, [7] "consisted of great heaps of old weapons
of all conceivable descriptions, lying piled upon the floor of the
Sangita Mahal (music-hall), which had long been occupied by many
tons of rusty arms and weapons, in confused heaps, coated and caked
together with thick rust. Hundreds of swords, straight, curved and
ripple-edged, many beautifully damascened and inlaid with hunting
or battle scenes in gold; many broad blades with long inscriptions
in Marathi or Kanarese characters, and some so finely tempered as
to bend and quiver like whalebone. There were long gauntlet-hilts,
brass or steel, in endless devices, hilts inlaid with gold, and hilts
and guards of the most tasteful and elaborate steel-work. There were
long-bladed swords and executioners' swords, two-handed, thick-backed,
and immensely heavy. Daggers, knives, and poniards by scores, of all
imaginable and almost unimaginable shapes, double and triple-bladed;
some with pistols or spring-blades concealed in their handles, and
the hilts of many of the kuttars of the most beautiful and elaborate
pierced steel-work, in endless devices, rivalling the best medieval
European metal-work, There was a profusion of long narrow thin-bladed
knives, mostly with bone or ivory handles very prettily carved, ending
in parrot-heads and the like, or the whole handle forming a bird or
monster, with legs and wings pressed close to the body, all exquisitely
carved. The use of these seemed problematical; some said they were
used to cut fruit, others that they had been poisoned and struck about
the roofs and walls of the women's quarters, to serve the purpose
of spikes or broken glass! A curious point was the extraordinary
number of old European blades, often graven with letters and symbols
of Christian meaning, attached to hilts and handles most distinctly
Hindu, adorned with figures of gods and idolatrous emblems. There
was an extraordinary number of long straight cut-and-thrust blades
termed Phirangis, which Mr. Sinclair, in his interesting list of
Dakhani weapons, [8] says means the Portuguese, or else made in
imitation of such imported swords. A kuttar, with a handsome steel
hilt, disclosed the well-known name ANDREA FERARA (sic.). Sir Walter
Elliot has informed me that, when a notorious freebooter was captured
in the Southern Marâthâ country many years ago, his sword was found
to be an 'Andrea Ferrara.' Mr. Sinclair adds that both Grant Duff
and Meadows Taylor have mentioned that Râja Sivâji's favourite sword
Bhavânî was a Genoa blade [9].... Eventually the whole array (of arms)
was removed to Trichinapalli and deposited in the Arsenal there, and,
after a Committee of officers had sat upon the multifarious collection,
and solemnly reported the ancient arms unfit for use in modern warfare,
the Government, after selecting the best for the Museum, ordered the
residue to be broken up and sold as old iron. This was in 1863."

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that
"in 1790 Lord Cornwallis, then Governor-General of India, entered
into an alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam to reduce Tipu to
order, and it was agreed that whatever territories should be acquired
by them from Tipu should be equally divided between them. Certain
specified poligars, among whom were the chiefs of Bellary, Rayadrug
and Harpanahalli, were, however, to be left in possession of their
districts. Tipu was reduced to submission in 1792, and by the treaty
of that year he ceded half his territories to the allies. [10] Sandur
was allotted to the Marathas, and a part of the Bellary district to
the Nizam." The present Maratha chief of the little hill-locked Sandur
State is a minor, whose name and titles are Raja Venkata Rao Rao Sahib
Hindu Rao Ghorpade Senapati Mamalikat Madar. Of the eleven thousand
inhabitants of the State, the various castes of Marathas number over a
thousand. "Three families of them are Brahmans, who came to Sandur as
officials with Siddoji Rao when he took the State from the Jaramali
poligar. Except for two short intervals, Siddoji's descendants have
held the State ever since. The others are grouped into three local
divisions, namely, Khasgi, Kumbi, and Lekavali. The first of these
consists of only some eight families, and constitutes the aristocracy
of the State. Some of them came to Sandur from the Maratha country with
Siva Rao and other rulers of the State, and they take the chief seats
at Darbars and on other public occasions, and are permitted to dine
and intermarry with the Raja's family. They wear the sacred thread
of the Kshatriyas, belong to the orthodox Brahmanical gotras, have
Brahmans as their purohits, observe many of the Brahmanical ceremonies,
burn their dead, forbid widow re-marriage, and keep their womankind
gosha. On the other hand, they do not object to drinking alcohol or
to smoking, and they eat meat, though not beef. Their family god is
the same as that of the Raja's family, namely, Martanda Manimallari,
and they worship him in the temple in his honour which is in the Raja's
palace, and make pilgrimages to his shrine at Jejuri near Poona. [It
is noted by Monier-Williams [11] that 'a deification, Khando-ba (also
called Khande-Rao), was a personage who lived in the neighbourhood of
the hill Jejuri, thirty miles from Poona. He is probably a deification
of some powerful Raja or aboriginal chieftain, who made himself useful
to the Brahmans. He is now regarded as an incarnation of Siva in his
form Mallari. The legend is that the god Siva descended in this form
to destroy a powerful demon named Mallasura, who lived on the hill,
and was a terror to the neighbourhood. Parvati descended at the same
time to become Khando-ba's wife. His worship is very popular among the
people of low caste in the Maratha country. Sheep are sacrificed at
the principal temple on the Jejuri hill, and a bad custom prevails of
dedicating young girls to the god's service. Khando-ba is sometimes
represented with his wife on horseback, attended by a dog. A sect
existed in Sankara's time, who worshipped Mallari as lord of dogs.'] At
the marriages of the Khasgis, an unusual custom, called Vira Puja,
or the worship of warriors, is observed. Before the ceremony, the men
form themselves into two parties, each under a leader, and march to
the banks of the Narihalla river, engaging in mock combat as they
go. At the river an offering is made to Siva in his form as the
warrior Martanda, and his blessing is invoked. The goddess Ganga is
also worshipped, and then both parties march back, indulging on the
way in more pretended fighting. The second division of the Marathas,
the Kunbis, are generally agriculturists, though some are servants to
the first division. They cannot intermarry with the Khasgis, or dine
with them except in separate rows, and their womanfolk are not gosha;
but they have Brahmanical gotras and Brahman purohits. Some of them
use the Raja's name of Ghorpade, but this is only because they are
servants in his household. The third division, the Lekavalis, are
said to be the offspring of irregular unions among other Marathas, and
are many of them servants in the Raja's palace. Whence they are also
called Manimakkalu. They all call themselves Ghorpades, and members
of the Raja's (the Kansika) gotra. They thus cannot intermarry among
themselves, but occasionally their girls are married to Kunbis. Their
women are in no way gosha." [12]

The cranial type of the Marathas is, as shown by the following table,
like that of the Canarese, mesaticephalic or sub-brachycephalic:--


                                          Cephalic Index
                                             Av.   Max.

           Canarese   50 Holeyas            79.1   87.4
           Marathi    30 Rangaris           79.8   92.2
           Canarese   50 Vakkaligas         81.7   93.8
           Marathi    30 Suka Sales         81.8   88.2
           Marathi    30 Sukun Sales        82.2   84.4


Maravan.--"The Maravans," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, [13] "are found
chiefly in Madura and Tinnevelly, where they occupy the tracts
bordering on the coast from Cape Comorin to the northern limits of
the Ramnad zemindari. The proprietors of that estate, and of the
great Sivaganga zemindari, are both of this caste. The Maravars must
have been one of the first of the Dravidian tribes that penetrated
to the south of the peninsula, and, like the Kallans, they have been
but little affected by Brahmanical influence. There exists among
them a picturesque tradition to the effect that, in consequence of
their assisting Rama in his war against the demon Ravana, that deity
gratefully exclaimed in good Tamil Maraven, or I will never forget,
and that they have ever since been called Maravans. But, with more
probability, the name may be connected with the word maram, which
means killing, ferocity, bravery and the like, as pointing clearly
to their unpleasant profession, that of robbing and slaying their
neighbours. In former days they were a fierce and turbulent race,
famous for their military prowess. At one time they temporarily
held possession of the Pandya kingdom, and, at a later date, their
armies gave valuable assistance to Tirumala Nayakkan. They gave the
British much trouble at the end of last (eighteenth) century and the
beginning of this (nineteenth) century, but they are now much the
same as other ryots (cultivators), though perhaps somewhat more bold
and lawless. Agamudaiyan and Kallan are returned as sub-divisions
by a comparatively large number of persons. Maravan is also found
among the sub-divisions of Kallan, and there can be little doubt
that there is a very close connection between Kallans, Maravans,
and Agamudaiyans." This connection is dealt with in the article
on the Kallans. But I may here quote the following legend relating
thereto. "Once upon a time, Rishi Gautama left his house to go abroad
on business. Devendra, taking advantage of his absence, debauched his
wife, and three children were the result. When the Rishi returned,
one of the three hid himself behind a door, and, as he thus acted
like a thief, he was henceforward called Kallan. Another got up a
tree, and was therefore called Maravan from maram, a tree, whilst
the third brazened it out, and stood his ground, thus earning for
himself the name of Ahamudeiyan, or the possessor of pride. This name
was corrupted into Ahambadiyan." [14]

"Some say the word Maravan is derived from marani, sin; a Maravan being
one who commits sin by killing living creatures without feeling pity,
and without fear of god." [15]

The Maravans claim descent from Guha or Kuha, Rama's boatman, who
rowed him across to Ceylon. According to the legend, Rama promised
Guha that he would come back at a fixed time. When he failed to return,
Guha made a fire, whereon to burn himself to death. Hanuman, however,
prevented him from committing suicide, and assured him that Rama would
shortly return. This came to pass, and Rama, on learning what Guha had
done, called him Maravan, a brave or reckless fellow. According to
another legend, the god Indra, having become enamoured of Ahalya,
set out one night to visit her in the form of a crow, and, seating
himself outside the dwelling of the Rishi her husband, cawed
loudly. The Rishi believing that it was dawn, went off to bathe,
while Indra, assuming the form of her husband, went in to the woman,
and satisfied his desire. When her husband reached the river, there
were no signs of dawn, and he was much perturbed, but not for long, as
his supernatural knowledge revealed to him how he had been beguiled,
and he proceeded to curse Indra and his innocent wife. Indra was
condemned to have a thousand female organs of generation all over his
body, and the woman was turned into a stone. Indra repented, and the
Rishi modified his disfigurement by arranging that, to the onlooker,
he would seem to be clothed or covered with eyes, and the woman was
allowed to resume her feminine form when Rama, in the course of his
wanderings, should tread on her. The result of Indra's escapade was
a son, who was stowed away in a secret place (maravuidam). Hence his
descendants are known as Maravan. [16]

The head of the Maravans is the Setupati (lord of the bridge), or
Raja of Ramnad. "The Sethupati line, or Marava dynasty of Ramnad,"
the Rev. J. E. Tracy writes, [17] "claims great antiquity. According
to popular legendary accounts, it had its rise in the time of the
great Rama himself, who is said to have appointed, on his victorious
return from Lanka (Ceylon), seven guardians of the passage or bridge
connecting Ceylon with the mainland.... Another supposition places
the rise of the family in the second or third century B.C. It rests
its case principally upon a statement in the Mahawanso, according
to which the last of the three Tamil invasions of Ceylon, which took
place in the second or third century B.C., was under the leadership
of seven chieftains, who are supposed, owing to the silence of the
Pandyan records on the subject of South Indian dealings with Ceylon,
to have been neither Cheras, Cholas, or Pandyans, but mere local
adventurers, whose territorial proximity and marauding ambition had
tempted them to the undertaking.... Another supposition places the rise
of the family in the eleventh or twelfth century A.D. There are two
statements of this case, differing according to the source from which
they come. According to the one, which has its source in South India,
the rise of the family took place in or about 1059 A.D., when Raja
Raja, the Chola king, upon his invasion of Ceylon, appointed princes
whom he knew to be loyal to himself, and who, according to some, had
aided him in his conquest of all Pandya, to act as guardians of the
passage by which his armies must cross to and fro, and supplies be
received from the mainland. According to the other statement, which
has its source in Sinhalese records, the family took its rise from the
appointment of Parakrama Bahu's General Lankapura, who, according to a
very trustworthy Sinhalese epitome of the Mahawanso, after conquering
Pandya, remained some time at Ramespuram, building a temple there,
and, while on the island, struck kahapanas (coins similar to those of
the Sinhalese series). Whichever of those statements we may accept,
the facts seem to point to the rise of the family in the eleventh
or twelfth century A.D., and inscriptions quoted from Dr. Burgess by
Mr. Robert Sewell [18] show that grants were made by Sethupati princes
in 1414, again in 1489, still again in 1500, and finally as late as
1540. These bring the line down to within two generations of the time
when Muttu Krishnappa Nayakka is said, in 1604, to have found affairs
sadly disordered in the Marava country, and to have re-established the
old family in the person of Sadaiyaka Tevar Udaiyar Sethupati. The
coins of the Sethupatis divide themselves into an earlier and later
series. The earlier series present specimens which are usually larger
and better executed, and correspond in weight and appearance very
nearly to the well-known coins of the Sinhalese series, together
with which they are often found, 'These coins' Rhys Davids writes,
[19] 'are probably, the very ones referred to as having been struck
by Parakrama's General Lankapura.' The coins of the later series are
very rude in device and execution. The one face shows only the Tamil
legend of the word Sethupati, while the other side is taken up with
various devices."

A poet, in days of old, refers to "the wrathful and furious Maravar,
whose curled beards resemble the twisted horns of the stag, the
loud twang of whose powerful bowstrings, and the stirring sound
of whose double-headed drums, compel even kings at the head of
large armies to turn their back and fly." [20] The Maravans are
further described as follows. "Of strong limbs and hardy frames, and
fierce looking as tigers, wearing long and curled locks of hair, the
blood-thirsty Maravans, armed with the bow bound with leather, ever
ready to injure others, shoot their arrows at poor and defenceless
travellers, from whom they can steal nothing, only to feast their
eyes on the quivering limbs of their victims." [21] In a note on
the Maravans of the Tinnevelly district, it is recorded [22] that
"to this class belonged most of the Poligars, or feudal chieftains,
who disputed with the English the possession of Tinnevelly during
the last, and first years of the present (nineteenth) century. As
feudal chiefs and heads of a numerous class of the population,
and one whose characteristics were eminently adapted for the roll
of followers of a turbulent chieftain, bold, active, enterprising,
cunning and capricious, this class constituted themselves, or were
constituted by the peaceful cultivators, their protectors in time of
bloodshed and rapine, when no central authority, capable of keeping
the peace, existed. Hence arose the systems of Desha and Stalum
Kaval, or the guard of a tract of country comprising a number of
villages against open marauders in armed bands, and the guard of
separate villages, their houses and crops, against secret theft. The
feudal chief received a contribution from the area around his fort
in consideration of protection afforded against armed invasion. The
Maravars are chiefly the agricultural servants or sub-tenants of the
wealthier ryots, under whom they cultivate, receiving a share of the
crop. An increasing proportion of this caste are becoming the ryotwari
owners of land by purchase from the original holders."

Though the Maravans, Mr, Francis writes, [23] "are usually
cultivators, they are some of them the most expert cattle-lifters in
the Presidency. In Madura, they have a particularly ingenious method
of removing cattle. The actual thief steals the bullocks at night, and
drives them at a gallop for half a dozen miles, hands them over to a
confederate, and then returns and establishes an alibi. The confederate
takes them on another stage, and does the same. A third and a fourth
man keep them moving all that night. The next day they are hidden and
rested, and thereafter they are driven by easier stages to the hills
north of Madura, where their horns are cut and their brands altered,
to prevent them from being recognised. They are then often sold at the
great Chittrai cattle fair in Madura town. In some papers read in G.O.,
No. 535, Judicial, dated 29th March 1899, it was shown that, though,
according to the 1891 census, the Maravans formed only 10 per cent. of
the population of the district of Tinnevelly, yet they had committed
70 per cent. of the dacoities which have occurred in that district in
the previous five years. They have recently (1899) figured prominently
in the anti-Shanar riots in the same district." (See Shanan.)

"The Maravans", Mr. F. S. Mullaly writes, [24] "furnish nearly the
whole of the village police (kavilgars, watchmen), robbers and thieves
of the Tinnevelly district. Very often the thief and the watchman
are one and the same individual. The Maravans of the present time, of
course, retain only a shadow of the power which their ancestors wielded
under the poligars, who commenced the kavil system. Still the Marava
of to-day, as a member of a caste which is numerous and influential,
as a man of superior physique and bold independent spirit, thief and
robber, village policeman and detective combined--is an immense power
in the land."

It is noted, in the Madras Police Report, 1903, that "a large
section of the population in Tinnevelly--the Maravans--are criminal by
predilection and training. Mr. Longden's efforts have been directed to
the suppression of a bad old custom, by which the police were in the
habit of engaging the help of the Maravans themselves in the detection
of crime. The natural result was a mass of false evidence and false
charges, and, worst of all, a police indebted to the Maravan, who was
certain to have his quid pro quo. This method being discountenanced,
and the station-house officer being deprived of the aid of his tuppans
(men who provide a clue), the former has found himself very much at
sea, and, until sounder methods can be inculcated, will fail to show
successful results. Still, even a failure to detect is better than a
police in the hands of the Maravans." Further information concerning
tuppukuli, or clue hire, will be found in the note on Kallans.

From a very interesting note on the Maravans of the Tinnevelly
district, the following extract is taken. [25] "On the principle of
setting a thief, to catch a thief, Maravars are paid blackmail to
keep their hands from picking and stealing, and to make restitution
for any thefts that may possibly take place, notwithstanding the
vigilance of the watchmen. (A suit has been known to be instituted,
in a Munsiff's Court, for failure to make restitution for theft after
receipt of the kudikaval money.) As a matter of fact, no robberies
on a large scale can possibly take place without the knowledge,
connivance, or actual co-operation of the Kavalgars. People living in
country places, remote from towns, are entirely at the mercy of the
Maravars, and every householder or occupier of a mud hut, which is
dignified by being called a house, must pay the Maravars half a fanam,
which is equal to one anna eight pies, yearly. Those who own cattle,
and there are few who do not, must pay one fanam a year. At the time
of the harvest, it is the custom in Southern India for an enemy to go
and reap his antagonist's crops as they are growing in the fields. He
does this to bring matters to a climax, and to get the right side of
his enemy, so that he may be forced to come to terms, reasonable or
otherwise. Possession is nine points of the law. On occasions such
as these, which are frequent, the advantage of the employment of
Kavalgars can readily be understood. The Maravars are often true to
their salt, though sometimes their services can be obtained by the
highest bidder. The plan of keeping kaval, or going the rounds like
a policeman on duty, is, for a village of, say, a hundred Maravars,
to divide into ten sections. Each section takes a particular duty,
and they are paid by the people living within their range. If a robbery
takes place, and the value of the property does not exceed ten rupees,
then this section of ten men will each subscribe one rupee, and pay
up ten rupees. If, however, the property lost exceeds the sum of ten
rupees, then all the ten sections of Maravars, the hundred men, will
join together, and make restitution for the robbery. How they are
able to do this, and to recoup themselves, can be imagined. Various
attempts for many years have been made to put a stop to this system of
kudi-kaval. At one time the village (Nunguneri) of the chief Maravar
was burnt down, and for many years the police have been on their
track, and numerous convictions are constantly taking place. Out
of 150,000 Maravars in the whole district, 10,000 are professional
thieves, and of these 4,000 have been convicted, and are living at
the present time. The question arises whether some plan could not
be devised to make honest men of these rogues. It has been suggested
that their occupation as watchmen should be recognised by Government,
and that they should be enlisted as subordinate officials, just as
some of them are now employed as Talayaris and Vettiyans.... The
villages of the Maravars exist side by side with the other castes,
and, as boys and girls, all the different classes grow up together,
so that there is a bond of sympathy and regard between them all. The
Maravans, therefore, are not regarded as marauding thieves by the other
classes. Their position in the community as Kavalgars is recognised,
and no one actually fears them. From time immemorial it has been the
mamool (custom) to pay them certain dues, and, although illegal, who
in India is prepared to act contrary to custom? The small sum paid
annually by the villagers is insignificant, and no one considers it a
hardship to pay it, when he knows that his goods are in safety; and,
if the Maravars did not steal, there are plenty of other roving castes
(e.g., the Kuluvars, Kuravars, and Kambalatars) who would, so that,
on the whole, ordinary unsophisticated natives, who dwell in the
country side, rather like the Maravar than otherwise. When, however,
these watchmen undertake torchlight dacoities, and attack travellers on
the high-road, then they are no better than the professional thieves
of other countries, and they deserve as little consideration. It must
be borne in mind that, while robbery is the hereditary occupation of
the Maravars, there are thousands of them who lead strictly honest,
upright lives as husbandmen, and who receive no benefit whatever from
the kudi-kaval system. Some of the most noted and earnest Native
Christians have been, and still are, men and women of this caste,
and the reason seems to be that they never do things by halves. If
they are murderers and robbers, nothing daunts them, and, on the other
hand, if they are honest men, they are the salt of the earth." I am
informed that, when a Maravan takes food in the house of a stranger,
he will sometimes take a pinch of earth, and put it on the food before
he commences his meal. This act frees him from the obligation not to
injure the family which has entertained him.

In a note entitled Marava jati vernanam, [26] from the Mackenzie
Manuscripts, it is recorded that "there are seven sub-divisions in the
tribe of the Maravas, respectively denominated Sembunattu, Agattha,
Oru-nattu, Upukatti, and Kurichikattu. Among these sub-divisions,
that of the Sembunattu Maravas is the principal one." In the Madras
Census Report, 1891, the following are returned as the most important
sub-divisions:--Agamudaiyan, Kallan, Karana, Kondaikatti, Kottani,
Sembanattu, and Vannikutti, Among the Sembanattus (or Sembanadus),
the following septs or khilais have been recorded:--


    Marikka.
    Piccha.
    Tondaman.
    Sitrama.
    Thanicha.
    Karuputhra.
    Katra.


"The Kondayamkottai Maravars," Mr. F. Fawcett writes, [27] "are
divided into six sub-tribes, or, as they call them, trees. Each tree,
or kothu, is divided into three khilais or branches. These I call
septs. Those of the khilais belonging to the same tree or kothu are
never allowed to intermarry. A man or woman must marry with one of a
khilai belonging to another tree than his own, his or her own being
that of his or her mother, and not of the father. But marriage is
not permissible between those of any two trees or kothus: there are
some restrictions. For instance, a branch of betel vine or leaves may
marry with a branch of cocoanut, but not with areca nuts or dates. I
am not positive what all the restrictions are, but restrictions of
some kind, by which marriage between persons of all trees may not
be made indiscriminately, certainly exist. The names of the trees
or kothus and of the khilais or branches, as given to me from the
Maraver Padel, a book considered to be authoritative, are these--


    =======================================================
       Tree.       |     Kothu.         |       Khilai.
    ===============+====================+==================
                   |                  { |Viramudithanginan.
    Milaku         | Pepper vine      { |Sedhar.
                   |                  { |Semanda.
                   |                  { |Agastyar.
    Vettile        | Betel vine       { |Maruvidu.
                   |                  { |Alakhiya Pandiyan.
                   |                  { |Vaniyan.
    Thennang       | Cocoanut         { |Vettuvan.
                   |                  { |Nataivendar.
                   |                  { |Kelnambhi.
    Komukham       | Areca nut        { |Anbutran.
                   |                  { |Gautaman.
                   |                  { |Sadachi.
    Ichang         | Dates            { |Sangaran.
                   |                  { |Pichipillai.
                   |                  { |Akhili.
    Panang         | Palmyra          { |Lokhamurti
                   |                  { |Jambhuvar.
    =======================================================


"Unfortunately I am unable to trace out the meanings of all
these khilais. Agastya and Gautamar are, of course, sages of
old. Viramudithanginan seems to mean a king's crown-bearer. Alakhiya
Pandiyan seems to be one of the old Pandiyan kings of Madura (alakhiya
means beautiful). Akhili is perhaps intended to mean the wife of
Gautama, Lokamurti, the one being of the world, and Jambhuvar, a
monkey king with a bear's face, who lived long, long ago. The common
rule regulating marriages among Brahmans, and indeed people of almost
every caste in Southern India, is that the proper husband for the
girl is her mother's brother or his son. But this is not so among the
Kondayamkottai Maravars. A girl can never marry her mother's brother,
because they are of the same khilai. On the other hand, the children
of a brother and sister may marry, and should do so, if this can be
arranged, as, though the brother and sister are of the same khilai,
their children are not, because the children of the brother belong
perforce to that of their mother, who is of a different khilai. It
very often happens that a man marries into his father's khilai; indeed
there seems to be some idea that he should do so if possible. The
children of brothers may not marry with each other, although they
are of different khilais, for two brothers may not marry into the
same khilai. One of the first things to be done in connection with a
marriage is that the female relations of the bridegroom must go and
examine the intended bride, to test her physical suitability. She
should not, as it was explained to me, have a flat foot; the calf
of her leg should be slender, not so thick as the thigh; the skin on
the throat should not form more than two wrinkles; the hair over the
temple should grow crossways. The last is very important." A curl on
the forehead resembling the head of a snake is of evil omen.

In one form of the marriage rites as carried out by the Maravans, the
bridegroom's party proceed, on an auspicious day which has been fixed
beforehand, to the home of the bride, taking with them five cocoanuts,
five bunches of plantains, five pieces of turmeric, betel, and flowers,
and the tali strung on a thread dyed with turmeric. At the auspicious
hour, the bride is seated within the house on a plank, facing east. The
bridegroom's sister removes the string of black beads from her neck,
and ties the tali thereon. While this is being done, the conch-shell
is blown, and women indulge in what Mr. Fawcett describes as a shrill
kind of keening (kulavi idal). The bride is taken to the house of the
bridegroom, where they sit side by side on a plank, and the ceremony
of warding off the evil eye is performed. Further, milk is poured
by people with crossed hands over the heads of the couple. A feast
is held, in which meat takes a prominent part. A Maravan, who was
asked to describe the marriage ceremony, replied that it consists
in killing a sheep or fowl, and the bringing of the bride by the
bridegroom's sister to her brother's house after the tali has been
tied. The Kondaikatti Maravans, in some places, substitute for the
usual golden tali a token representing "the head of Indra fastened to
a bunch of human hair, or silken strings representing his hair." [28]

In another form of the marriage ceremony, the father of the bridegroom
goes to the bride's house, accompanied by his relations, with the
following articles in a box made of plaited palmyra leaves:--


     5 bundles of betel.
    21 measures of rice.
     7 cocoanuts.
    70 plantains.
     7 lumps of  jaggery (crude sugar).
    21 pieces of turmeric.
       Flowers, sandal paste, etc.


At the bride's house, these presents are touched by those assembled
there, and the box is handed over to the bride's father. On the
wedding day (which is four days afterwards), pongal (cooked rice) is
offered to the house god early in the morning. Later in the day, the
bridegroom is taken in a palanquin to the house of the bride. Betel is
presented to him by her father or brother. The bride generally remains
within the house till the time for tying the tali has arrived. The
maternal uncle then blindfolds her with his hand, lifts her up, and
carries her to the bridegroom, Four women stand round the contracting
couple, and pass round a dish containing a broken cocoanut and a
cake three times. The bride and bridegroom then spit into the dish,
and the females set up their shrill keening. The maternal uncles join
their hands together, and, on receiving the assent of those present,
the bridegroom's sister ties the tali on the bride's neck. The tali
consists of a ring attached to a black silk thread. After marriage,
the "silk tali" is, for every day purposes, replaced by golden beads
strung on a string, and the tali used at the wedding is often borrowed
for the occasion. The tali having been tied, the pair are blessed,
and, in some places, their knees, shoulders, heads, and backs are
touched with a betel leaf dipped in milk, and blessed with the words
"May the pair be prosperous, giving rise to leaves like a banyan
tree, roots like the thurvi (Cynodon Dactylon) grass, and like the
bamboo." Of the thurvi grass it is said in the Atharwana Veda "May
this grass, which rose from the water of life, which has a hundred
roots and a hundred stems, efface a hundred of my sins, and prolong
my existence on earth for a hundred years."

Still further variants of the marriage ceremonial are described by
Mr. Fawcett, in one of which "the Brahman priest (purohit) hands
the tali to the bridegroom's sister, who in turn hands it to the
bridegroom, who ties a knot in it. The sister then ties two more
knots in it, and puts it round the bride's neck. After this has
been done, and while the pair are still seated, the Brahman ties
together the little fingers of the right hands of the pair, which
are interlocked, with a silken thread. The pair then rise, walk
thrice round the marriage seat (manavanai), and enter the house,
where they sit, and the bridegroom receives present from the bride's
father. The fingers are then untied. While undergoing the ceremony,
the bridegroom wears a thread smeared with turmeric tied round the
right wrist. It is called kappu."

In the manuscript already quoted, [29] it is noted that "should it so
happen, either in the case of wealthy rulers of districts or of poorer
common people, that any impediment arises to prevent the complete
celebration of the marriage with all attendant ceremonies according to
the sacred books and customs of the tribe, then the tali only is sent,
and the female is brought to the house of her husband. At a subsequent
period, even after two or three children have been born, the husband
sends the usual summons to a marriage of areca nut and betel leaf; and,
when the relatives are assembled, the bride and bridegroom are publicly
seated in state under the marriage pandal; the want of completeness
in the former contract is made up; and, all needful ceremonies being
gone through, they perform the public procession through the streets of
the town, when they break the cocoanut in the presence of Vignesvara
(Ganesa), and, according to the means possessed by the parties, the
celebration of the marriage is concluded in one day, or prolonged
to two, three or four days. The tali, being tied on, has the name of
katu tali, and the name of the last ceremony is called the removal of
the former deficiency. If it so happen that, after the first ceremony,
the second be not performed, then the children of such an alliance are
lightly regarded among the Maravas. Should the husband die during the
continuance of the first relation, and before the second ceremony be
performed, then the body of the man, and also the woman are placed upon
the same seat, and the ceremonies of the second marriage, according
to the customs of the tribe, being gone through, the tali is taken
off; the woman is considered to be a widow, and can marry with some
other man." It is further recorded [30] of the Orunattu Maravans that
"the elder or younger sister of the bridegroom goes to the house of
the bride, and, to the sound of the conch-shell, ties on the tali;
and, early on the following morning, brings her to the house of the
bridegroom. After some time, occasionally three or four years, when
there are indications of offspring, in the fourth or fifth month, the
relatives of the pair assemble, and perform the ceremony of removing
the deficiency; placing the man and his wife on a seat in public,
and having the sacrifice by fire and other matters conducted by the
Prohitan (or Brahman); after which the relatives sprinkle seshai
rice (or rice beaten out without any application of water) over the
heads of the pair. The relatives are feasted and otherwise hospitably
entertained; and these in return bestow donations on the pair, from
one fanam to one pagoda. The marriage is then finished. Sometimes, when
money for expenses is wanting, this wedding ceremony is postponed till
after the birth of two or three children. If the first husband dies,
another marriage is customary. Should it so happen that the husband,
after the tying on of the tali in the first instance, dislikes the
object of his former choice, then the people of their tribe are
assembled; she is conducted back to her mother's house; sheep, oxen,
eating-plate, with brass cup, jewels, ornaments, and whatever else she
may have brought with her from her mother's house, are returned; and
the tali, which was put on, is broken off and taken away. If the wife
dislikes the husband, then the money he paid, the expenses which he
incurred in the wedding, the tali which he caused to be bound on her,
are restored to him, and the woman, taking whatsoever she brought with
her, returns to her mother's house, and marries again at her pleasure."

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that "a special
custom obtaining among the Marava zemindars of Tinnevelly is mentioned
by the Registrar of that district. It is the celebration of marriage
by means of a proxy for the bridegroom in the shape of a stick,
which is sent by the bridegroom, and is set up in the marriage booth
in his place. The tali is tied by some one representative of the
bridegroom, and the marriage ceremony then becomes complete.... Widow
re-marriage is freely allowed and practiced, except in the Sembunattu
sub-division." "A widow," Mr. Fawcett writes, "may marry her deceased
husband's elder brother, but not a younger brother. If she does not
like him, she may marry some one else."

When a girl reaches puberty, news of the event is conveyed by a
washerman. On the sixteenth day she comes out of seclusion, bathes,
and returns home. At the threshold, her future husband's sister is
standing, and averts the evil eye by waving betel leaves, plantains,
cocoanuts, cooked flour paste (puttu), a vessel filled with water,
and an iron measure containing rice with a style (ambu) stuck in
it. The style is removed by the girl's prospective sister-in-law,
who beats her with it as she enters the house. A feast is held at the
expense of the girl's maternal uncle, who brings a goat, and ties it
to a pole at her house.

Both burial and cremation are practiced by the Maravans. The Sembunattu
Maravans of Ramnad regard the Agamudaiyans as their servants, and the
water, with which the corpse is washed, is brought by them. Further,
it is an Agamudaiyan, and not the son of the deceased, who carries
the fire-pot to the burial-ground. The corpse is carried thither on
a bier or palanquin. The grave is dug by an Andi, never by a Pallan
or Paraiyan. Salt, powdered brick, and sacred ashes are placed on the
floor thereof and the corpse is placed in it in a sitting posture. The
Kondaiyamkottai Maravans of Ramnad, who are stone and brick masons,
burn their dead, and, on their way to the burning-ground, the bearers
of the corpse walk over cloths spread on the ground. On the second or
third day, lingams are made out of the ashes, or of mud from the grave
if the corpse has been buried. To these, as well as to the soul of the
deceased, and to the crows, offerings are made. On the sixteenth day,
nine kinds of seed-grain are placed over the grave, or the spot where
the corpse was burnt. A Pandaram sets up five kalasams (brass vessels),
and does puja (worship). The son of the deceased, who officiated as
chief mourner, goes to a Pillayar (Ganesa) shrine, carrying on his
head a pot containing a lighted lamp made of flour. As he draws near
the god, a screen is stretched in front thereof. He then takes a few
steps backwards, the screen is removed, and he worships the god. He
then retires, walking backwards. The flour is distributed among those
present. Presents of new cloths are made to the sons and daughters
of the deceased. In his account of the Kondaiyamkottai Maravans,
Mr. Fawcett gives the following account of the funeral rites. "Sandals
having been fastened on the feet, the corpse is carried in a recumbent
position, legs first, to the place of cremation. A little rice is
placed in the mouth, and the relatives put a little money into a small
vessel which is kept beside the chest. The karma karta (chief mourner)
walks thrice round the corpse, carrying an earthen vessel filled with
water, in which two or three holes are pierced. He allows some water
to fall on the corpse, and breaks the pot near the head, which lies
to the south. No Brahman attends this part of the ceremony. When he
has broken the pot, the karma karta must not see the corpse again;
he goes away at once, and is completely shaved. The barber takes the
cash which has been collected, and lights the pyre. When he returns to
the house, the karma karta prostrates himself before a lighted lamp;
he partakes of no food, except a little grain and boiled pulse and
water, boiled with coarse palm sugar and ginger. Next day he goes to
the place of cremation, picks up such calcined bones as he finds,
and places them in a basket, so that he may some day throw them in
water which is considered to be sacred. On the eleventh or twelfth day,
some grain is sown in two new earthen vessels which have been broken,
and there is continued weeping around these. On the sixteenth day,
the young plants, which have sprouted, are removed, and put into
water, weeping going on all the while; and, after this has been
done, the relatives bathe and enjoy a festive meal, after which the
karma karta is seated on a white cloth, and is presented with a new
cloth and some money by his father-in-law and other relatives who
are present. On the seventeenth day takes place the punyagavachanam
or purification, at which the Brahman priest presides, and the karma
karta takes an oil bath. The wood of the pipal tree (Ficus religiosa)
is never used for purposes of cremation."

Concerning the death ceremonies in the Trichinopoly district,
Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. "Before the corpse is removed,
the chief mourner and his wife take two balls of cow-dung, in which
the barber has mixed various kinds of grain, and stick them on to the
wall of the house. These are thrown into water on the eighth day. The
ceremonial is called pattam kattugiradu, or investing with the title,
and indicates the succession to the dead man's estate. A rocket is
fired when the corpse is taken out of the house. On the sixth day,
a pandal (booth) of naval (Eugenia, Jambolana) leaves is prepared,
and offerings are made in it to the manes of the ancestors of the
family. It is removed on the eighth day, and the chief mourner puts
a turban on, and merry-making and dances are indulged in. There
are ordinarily no karumantaram ceremonies, but they are sometimes
performed on the sixteenth day, a Brahman being called in. On the
return home from these ceremonies, each member of the party has to
dip his toe into a mortar full of cow-dung water, and the last man
has to knock it down."

Among some Kondaiyamkottai Maravans, a ceremony called palaya
karmandhiram, or old death ceremony, is performed. Some months
after the death of one who has died an unnatural death, the skull is
exhumed, and placed beneath a pandal (booth) in an open space near
the village. Libations of toddy are indulged in, and the villagers
dance wildly round the head. The ceremony lasts over three days,
and the final death ceremonies are then performed.

For the following account of the jellikattu or bull-baiting,
which is practiced by the Maravans, I am indebted to a note by
Mr. J. H. Nelson. [31] "This," he writes, "is a game worthy of a bold
and free people, and it is to be regretted that certain Collectors
(District Magistrates) should have discouraged it under the idea that
it was somewhat dangerous. The jellikattu is conducted in the following
manner. On a certain day in the year, large crowds of people, chiefly
males, assemble together in the morning in some extensive open space,
the dry bed of a river perhaps, or of a tank (pond), and many of them
may be seen leading ploughing bullocks, of which the sleek bodies and
rather wicked eyes afford clear evidence of the extra diet they have
received for some days in anticipation of the great event. The owners
of these animals soon begin to brag of their strength and speed, and
to challenge all and any to catch and hold them; and in a short time
one of the best beasts is selected to open the day's proceedings. A
new cloth is made fast round his horns, to be the prize of his captor,
and he is then led out into the midst of the arena by his owner, and
there left to himself surrounded by a throng of shouting and excited
strangers. Unaccustomed to this sort of treatment, and excited by
the gestures of those who have undertaken to catch him, the bullock
usually lowers his head at once, and charges wildly into the midst of
the crowd, who nimbly run off on either side to make way for him. His
speed being much greater than that of the men, he soon overtakes one
of his enemies and makes at him to toss him savagely. Upon this the
man drops on the sand like a stone, and the bullock, instead of goring
him, leaps over his body, and rushes after another. The second man
drops in his turn, and is passed like the first; and, after repeating
this operation several times, the beast either succeeds in breaking
the ring, and galloping off to his village, charging every person he
meets on the way, or is at last caught and held by the most vigorous
of his pursuers. Strange as it may seem, the bullocks never by any
chance toss or gore any one who throws himself down on their approach;
and the only danger arises from their accidentally reaching unseen
and unheard some one who remains standing. After the first two or
three animals have been let loose one after the other, two or three,
or even half a dozen are let loose at a time, and the scene quickly
becomes most exciting. The crowd sways violently to and fro in various
directions in frantic efforts to escape being knocked over; the air is
filled with shouts, screams, and laughter; and the bullocks thunder
over the plain as fiercely as if blood and slaughter were their sole
occupation. In this way perhaps two or three hundred animals are
run in the course of a day, and, when all go home towards evening,
a few cuts and bruises, borne with the utmost cheerfulness, are the
only results of an amusement which requires great courage and agility
on the part of the competitors for the prizes--that is for the cloths
and other things tied to the bullocks' horns--and not a little on the
part of the mere bystanders. The only time I saw this sport (from a
place of safety) I was highly delighted with the entertainment, and
no accident occurred to mar my pleasure. One man indeed was slightly
wounded in the buttock, but he was quite able to walk, and seemed to
be as happy as his friends."

A further account of the jallikat or jellicut is given in the
Gazetteer of the Madura district. "The word jallikattu literally
means tying of ornaments. On a day fixed and advertised by beat of
drums at the adjacent weekly markets, a number of cattle, to the
horns of which cloths and handkerchiefs have been tied, are loosed
one after the other, in quick succession, from a large pen or other
enclosure, amid a furious tom-tomming and loud shouts from the crowd
of assembled spectators. The animals have first to run the gauntlet
down a long lane formed of country carts, and then gallop off wildly
in every direction. The game consists in endeavouring to capture the
cloths tied to their horns. To do this requires fleetness of foot
and considerable pluck, and those who are successful are the heroes
of the hour. Cuts and bruises are the reward of those who are less
skilful, and now and again some of the excited cattle charge into
the on-lookers, and send a few of them flying. The sport has been
prohibited on more than one occasion. But, seeing that no one need
run any risks unless he chooses, existing official opinion inclines
to the view that it is a pity to discourage a manly amusement which
is not really more dangerous than football, steeple-chasing, or
fox-hunting. The keenness of the more virile sections of the community,
especially the Kallans (q.v.), in this game is extraordinary, and,
in many villages, cattle are bred and reared specially for it. The
best jallikats are to be seen in the Kallan country in Tirumangalam,
and next come those in Melur and Madura taluks."

"Boomerangs," Dr. G. Oppert writes, [32] "are used by the Maravans and
Kallans when hunting deer. The Madras Museum collection contains three
(two ivory, one wooden) from the Tanjore armoury. In the arsenal of
the Pudukottai Raja a stock of wooden boomerangs is always kept. Their
name in Tamil is valai tade (bent stick)." To Mr. R. Bruce Foote,
I am indebted for the following note on the use of the boomerang in
the Madura district. "A very favourite weapon of the Madura country
is a kind of curved throwing-stick, having a general likeness to the
boomerang of the Australian aborigines. I have in my collection two
of these Maravar weapons obtained from near Sivaganga. The larger
measures 24 1/8'' along the outer curve, and the chord of the arc
17 5/8''. At the handle end is a rather ovate knob 2 1/4'' long and
1 1/4'' in its maximum thickness. The thinnest and smallest part of
the weapon is just beyond the knob, and measures 11/16'' in diameter
by 1 1/8'' in width. From that point onwards its width increases
very gradually to the distal end, where it measures 2 3/8'' across
and is squarely truncated. The lateral diameter is greatest three
or four inches before the truncated end, where it measures 1''. My
second specimen is a little smaller than the above, and is also rather
less curved. Both are made of hard heavy wood, dark reddish brown in
colour as seen through the varnish covering the surface. The wood is
said to be tamarind root. The workmanship is rather rude. I had an
opportunity of seeing these boomerangs in use near Sivaganga in March,
1883. In the morning I came across many parties, small and large,
of men and big boys who were out hare-hunting with a few dogs. The
parties straggled over the ground, which was sparsely covered with
low scrub jungle. And, whenever an unlucky hare started out near
to the hunters, it was greeted with a volley of the boomerangs, so
strongly and dexterously thrown that poor puss had little chance of
escape. I saw several knocked out of time. On making enquiries as
to these hunting parties, I was told that they were in observance
of a semi-religious duty, in which every Maravar male, not unfitted
by age or ill-health, is bound to participate on a particular day in
the year. Whether a dexterous Maravar thrower could make his weapon
return to him I could not find out. Certainly in none of the throws
observed by me was any tendency to a return perceptible. But for
simple straight shots these boomerangs answer admirably."

The Maravans bear Saivite sectarian marks, but also worship various
minor deities, among whom are included Kali, Karuppan, Muthu Karuppan,
Periya Karuppan, Mathurai Viran, Aiyanar, and Munuswami.

The lobes of the ears of Marava females are very elongated as the
result of boring and gradual dilatation during childhood. Mr. (now
Sir) F. A. Nicholson, who was some years ago stationed at Ramnad,
tells me that the young Maravan princesses used to come and play in
his garden, and, as they ran races, hung on to their ears, lest the
heavy ornaments should rend asunder the filamentous ear lobes.

It was recorded, in 1902, that a young Maravan, who was a member of
the family of the Zemindar of Chokampatti, was the first non-Christian
Maravan to pass the B.A. degree examination at the Madras University.

The general title of the Maravans is Tevan (god), but some style
themselves Talaivan (chief), Servaikkaran (captain), Karaiyalan
(ruler of the coast), or Rayarvamsam (Raja's clan).

Marayan.--A synonym of Maran.

Mari.--Mari or Marimanisaru is a sub-division of Holeya.

Mariyan.--Said to be a sub-division of Kolayan.

Markandeya.--A gotra of Padma Sale and Seniyan (Devanga), named after
the rishi or sage Markandeya, who was remarkable for his austerities
and great age, and is also known as Dirghayus (the long-lived). Some
Devangas and the Salapus claim him as their ancestor.

Marri. (Ficus bengalensis).--An exogamous sept of Mala and
Mutracha. Marri-gunta (pond near a fig tree) occurs as an exogamous
sept of Yanadi.

Marumakkathayam.--The Malayalam name for the law of inheritance
through the female line.

Marvari.--A territorial name, meaning a native of Marwar. At times of
census, Marvari has been returned as a caste of Jains, i.e., Marvaris,
who are Jains by religion. The Marvaris are enterprising traders,
who have settled in various parts of Southern India, and are, in the
city of Madras, money-lenders.

Masadika.--A synonym for Nadava Bant.

Masila (masi, dirt).--An exogamous sept of Devanga.

Masthan.--A Muhammadan title, meaning a saint, returned at times
of census.

Mastiga.--The Mastigas are described by the Rev. J. Cain [33] as
mendicants and bards, who beg from Gollas, Malas, and Madigas. I
am informed that they are also known as Mala Mastigas, as they are
supposed to be illegitimate descendants of the Malas, and usually beg
from them. When engaged in begging, they perform various contortionist
and acrobatic feats.

Matam (monastery, or religious institution).--An exogamous sept
of Devanga.

Matanga.--Matanga or Matangi is a synonym of Madiga. The Madigas
sometimes call themselves Matangi Makkalu, or children of Matangi,
who is their favourite goddess. Matangi is further the name of certain
dedicated prostitutes, who are respected by the Madiga community.

Matavan.--Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a name
for the Pulikkapanikkan sub-division of Nayar.

Matsya (fish).--A sept of Domb.

Mattiya.--The Mattiyas are summed up as follows in the Madras
Census Report, 1901. "In Vizagapatam these are hill cultivators
from the Central Provinces, who are stated in one account to be
a sub-division of the Gonds. Some of them wear the sacred thread,
because the privilege was conferred upon their families by former
Rajas of Malkanagiri, where they reside. They are said to eat with
Ronas, drink with Porojas, but smoke only with their own people. The
name is said to denote workers in mud (matti), and in Ganjam they are
apparently earth-workers and labourers. In the Census Report, 1871,
it is noted that the Matiyas are 'altogether superior to the Kois
and to the Parjas (Porojas). They say they sprang from the soil,
and go so far as to point out a hole, out of which their ancestor
came. They talk Uriya, and farm their lands well'"

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The
caste is divided into at least four septs, named Bhag (tiger), Nag
(cobra), Cheli (goat), and Kochchimo (tortoise). A man may claim
his paternal aunt's daughter in marriage. Girls are, as a rule,
married after puberty. When a match is contemplated, the would-be
husband presents a pot of liquor to the girl's parents. If this is
accepted, a further present of liquor, rice, and a pair of cloths,
is made later on. The liquor is distributed among the villagers,
who, by accepting it, indicate their consent to the transfer of the
girl to the man. A procession, with Dombs acting as musicians, is
formed, and the girl is taken to the bridegroom's village. A pandal
(booth) has been erected in front of the bridegroom's house, which
the contracting couple enter on the following morning. Their hands are
joined together by the presiding Desari, they bathe in turmeric water,
and new cloths are given to them. Wearing these, they enter the house,
the bridegroom leading the bride. Their relations then exhort them
to be constant to each other, and behave well towards them. A feast
follows, and the night is spent in dancing and drinking. Next day, the
bride's parents are sent away with a present of a pair of cows or bulls
as jholla tonka. The remarriage of widows is allowed, and a younger
brother usually marries the widow of his elder brother. Divorce is
permitted, and, when a husband separates from his wife, he gives her a
new cloth and a bullock as compensation. A divorced woman may remarry.

By the Mattiyas, and other Oriya castes, the ghorojavai (house
son-in-law) custom is practiced. According to this custom, the poorer
folk, in search of a wife, work, according to a contract, for their
future father-in-law for a specified time, at the expiration of
which they set up a separate establishment with his daughter. To
begin married life with, presents are made to the couple by the
father-in-law.

The dead are burnt, and the spot where cremation takes place is marked
by setting up in the ground a bamboo pole, to which one of the dead
man's rags is attached. The domestic pots, which were used during his
last illness, are broken there. Death pollution is observed for eight
days. On the ninth day, the ashes, mixed with water, are cleared up,
and milk is poured over the spot. The ashes are sometimes buried
in a square hole, which is dug to a depth of about three feet, and
filled in. Over it a small hut-like structure is raised. A few of these
sepulchral monuments may be seen on the south side of the Pangam stream
on the Jeypore-Malkangiri road. The personal names of the Mattiyas
are often taken from the day of the week on which they are born.

Mavilan.--Described, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small
tribe of shikaris (hunters) and herbalists, who follow makkathayam
(inheritance from father to son), and speak corrupt Tulu. Tulumar
(native of the Tulu country), and Chingattan (lion-hearted people)
were returned as sub-divisions. "The name," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,
[34] "is said to be derived from mavilavu, a medicinal herb. I think,
however, the real derivation must be sought in Tulu or Canarese,
as it seems to be a Canarese caste. These people are found only
in the Chirakkal taluk of Malabar. Their present occupation is
basket-making. Succession is from father to son, but among some it
is also said to be in the female line."

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that the Mavilons are
"divided into Tulu Mavilons and Eda Mavilons, and sub-divided into
thirty illams. They are employed as mahouts (drivers of elephants),
and collect honey and other forest produce. Their headmen are called
Chingam (simham, lion), and their huts Mapura."

Mayalotilu (rascal).--Mayalotilu or Manjulotilu is said by the
Rev. J. Cain to be a name given by the hill Koyis to the Koyis who
live near the Godavari river.

Mayan.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, as a synonym of
Kammalan. The Kamsali goldsmiths claim descent from Maya.

Meda, Medara, Medarlu, or Medarakaran.--The Medaras are workers in
bamboo in the Telugu, Canarese, Oriya and Tamil countries, making
sieves, baskets, cradles, mats, fans, boxes, umbrellas, and tatties
(screens). Occasionally they receive orders for waste-paper baskets,
coffins for Native Christian children, or cages for pigeons and
parrots. In former days they made basket-caps for sepoys. They are
said to cut the bamboos in the forest on dark nights, in the belief
that they would be damaged if cut at any other time. They do not, like
the Korachas, make articles from the leaf of the date-palm (Phoenix).

They believe that they came from Mahendrachala mountain, the mountain
of Indra, and the following legend is current among them. Dakshudu, the
father-in-law of Siva, went to invite his son-in-law to a devotional
sacrifice, which he was about to perform. Siva was in a state of
meditation, and did not visibly return the obeisance which Dakshudu
made by raising his hands to his forehead. Dakshudu became angry,
and told his people not to receive Siva or his wife, or show them any
mark of respect. Parvati, Siva's wife, went with her son Ganapati,
against her husband's order, to the sacrifice, and received no sign
of recognition. Thereat she shed tears, and the earth opened, and
she disappeared. She was again born of Himavant (Himalayas), and
Siva, telling her who she was, remarried her. Siva, in reply to her
enquiries, told her that she could avoid a further separation from
him if she performed a religious vow, and gave cakes to Brahmans in
a chata, or winnowing basket. She accordingly made a basket of gold,
which was not efficacious, because, as Siva explained to her, it was
not plaited, as bamboo baskets are. Taking his serpent, Siva turned
it into a bamboo. He ordered Ganapati, and others, to become men, and
gave them his trisula and ghada to work with on bamboo, from which they
plaited a basket for the completion of Parvati's vow. Ganapati and the
Ganas remained on the Mahendrachala mountain, and married Gandarva
women, who bore children to them. Eventually they were ordered by
Siva to return, and, as they could not take their wives and families
with them, they told them to earn their livelihood by plaiting bamboo
articles. Hence they were called Mahendrulu or Medarlu. According to
another legend, [35] Parvati once wanted to perform the ceremony called
gaurinomu, and, wanting a winnow, was at a loss to know how to secure
one. She asked Siva to produce a man who could make one, and he ordered
his riding-ox Vrishaban to produce such a person by chewing. Vrishaban
complied, and the ancestor of the Medaras, being informed of the wish
of the goddess, took the snake which formed Siva's necklace, and,
going to a hill, planted its head in the ground. A bamboo at once
sprang up on the spot, which, after returning the snake to its owner,
the man used for making a winnow. The snake-like root of the bamboo
is regarded as a proof of the truth of the story.

As among many other castes, opprobrious names are given to
children. For example, a boy, whose elder brother has died,
may be called Pentayya (dung-heap). As a symbol of his being a
dung-heap child, the infant, as soon as it is born, is placed on
a leaf-platter. Other names are Thavvayya, or boy bought for bran,
and Pakiru, mendicant. In a case where a male child had been ill for
some months, a woman, under the influence of the deity, announced
that he was possessed by the goddess Ankamma. The boy accordingly
had the name of the goddess conferred on him.

The following are some of the gotras and exogamous septs of the
Medaras:--


(a) Gotras.

        Hanumanta (monkey-god).         Bombadai (a fish).
        Puli (tiger).                   Vinayaka (Ganesa).
        Thagenilu (drinking water).     Kasi (Benares).
        Avisa (Sesbania grandiflora).   Moduga (Butea frondosa).
        Rela (Ficus).                   Kovila (koel or cuckoo).
        Seshai (snake?).


(b) Exogamous septs.

         Pilli (cat).                 Nuvvulu (gingelly).
         Parvatham (mountain).        Senagapapu (Bengal gram).
         Putta (ant-hill).            Tsanda (subscription).
         Konda (mountain).            Nila (blue).
         Javadi (civet-cat).          Sirigiri (a hill).
         Nandikattu (bull's mouth).   Kanigiri (a hill).
         Kandikattu (dhal soup).      Pothu (male).
         Kottakunda (new pot).        Naginidu (snake).
         Pooreti (a bird).            Kola (ear of corn).
         Kalluri (stone village).


A man most frequently marries his maternal uncle's daughter, less
frequently the daughter of his paternal aunt. Marriage with a deceased
wife's sister is regarded with special favour. Marriage with two
living sisters, if one of them is suffering from disease, is common.

In a note on the Medaras of the Vizagapatam district, Mr. C. Hayavadana
Rao writes that girls are married before or after puberty. A Brahman
officiates at the marriage ceremonies. Widows are allowed to remarry
once, and the sathamanam (marriage badge) is tied by the new husband
on the neck of the bride, who has, as in the Gudala caste, to sit
near a mortar.

Formerly all the Medaras were Saivites, but many are at the present
day Vaishnavites, and even the Vaishnavites worship Siva. Every family
has some special person or persons whom they worship, for example,
Virullu, or boys who have died unmarried. A silver image is made,
and kept in a basket. It is taken out on festive occasions, as before
a marriage in a family, and offerings of milk and rice gruel are
made to it. Bala Perantalu, or girls who have died before marriage,
and Perantalu, or women who have died before their husbands, are
worshipped with fruits, turmeric, rice, cocoanuts, etc.

Some of the Saivites bury their dead in a sitting posture, while
others resort to cremation. All the Vaishnavites burn the dead,
and, like the Saivites, throw the ashes into a river. The place of
burning or burial is not as a rule marked by any stone or mound. But,
if the family can afford it, a tulsi fort is built, and the tulsi
(Ocimum sanctum) planted therein. In the Vizagapatam district, death
pollution is said to last for three days, during which the caste
occupation is not carried out. On the third day, a fowl is killed,
and food cooked. It is taken to the spot where the corpse was burnt,
on which a portion is thrown, and the remainder eaten.

The potency of charms in warding off evil spirits is believed in. For
example, a figure of Hanuman the monkey-god, on a thin plate of gold,
with cabalistic letters inscribed on it, is worn on the neck. And,
on eclipse days, the root of the madar or arka plant (Calotropis
gigantea), enclosed in a gold casket, is worn on the neck of females,
and on the waist or arms of males. Some members of this, as of other
castes, may be seen with cicatrices on the forehead, chest, back,
or neck. These are the scars resulting from branding during infancy
with lighted turmeric or cheroot, to cure infantile convulsions,
resulting, it is believed, from inhaling tobacco smoke in small,
ill-ventilated rooms.

Various legends are current in connection with tribal heroes. One
Medara Chennayya is said to have fed some thousands of people
with a potful of rice. His grandson, Medara Thodayya, used to do
basket-making, and bathed three times daily. A Brahman, afflicted with
leprosy, lost a calf. In searching for it, he fell into a ditch filled
with water, in which the Medara had bathed, and was cured. One Medara
Kethayya and his wife were very poor, but charitable. In order to test
him, the god Iswara made grains of gold appear in large quantities in
the hollow of a bamboo, which he cut. He avoided the bamboos as being
full of vermin, and useless. At some distance, he found an ant-hill
with a bamboo growing in it, and, knowing that bamboos growing on such
a hill will not be attacked by vermin, cut it. In so doing, he cut
off the head of a Rishi, who was doing penance. Detecting the crime
of which he had been guilty, he cried "Siva, Siva." His wife, who was
miles away, heard him, and, knowing that he must be in some trouble,
went to the spot. He asked her how he was to expiate his sin, and she
replied. "You have taken a life, and must give one in return." He
thereon prepared to commit suicide, but his wife, taking the knife
from him, was about to sacrifice herself when Iswara appeared, restored
the Rishi to life, and took Medara Kethayya and his wife to heaven.

As among many other castes, the sthambamuhurtham (putting up the post)
ceremony is performed when the building of a new house is commenced,
and the deeparathana (lamp-worship) before it is occupied. In every
settlement there is a Kulapedda, or hereditary caste headman, who
has, among other things, the power of inflicting fines, sentencing to
excommunication, and inflicting punishments for adultery, eating with
members of lower castes, etc. Excommunication is a real punishment,
as the culprit is not allowed to take bamboo, or mess with his former
castemen. In the Kistna and Godavari districts, serious disputes,
which the local panchayat (council) cannot decide, are referred to
the headman at Masulipatam, who at present is a native doctor. There
are no trials by ordeal. The usual form of oath is "Where ten are,
there God is. In his presence I say."

When a girl reaches puberty, she has to sit in a room on five fresh
palmyra palm leaves, bathes in turmeric water, and may not eat salt. If
there is "leg's presentation" at childbirth, the infant's maternal
uncle should not hear the infant cry until the shanti ceremony has
been performed. A Brahman recites some mantrams, and the reflection
of the infant's face is first seen by the uncle from the surface
of oil in a plate. Widow remarriage is permitted. A widow can be
recognised by her not wearing the tali, gazulu (glass bangles),
and mettu (silver ring on the second toe).

The lowest castes with which the Medaras will eat are, they say,
Komatis and Velamas. Some say that they will eat with Satanis,

In the Coorg country, the Medaras are said to subsist by
umbrella-making. They are the drummers at Coorg festivals, and it
is their privilege to receive annually at harvest-time from each
Coorg house of their district as much reaped paddy as they can bind
up with a rope twelve cubits in length. They dress like the Coorgs,
but in poorer style. [36]

It is recorded by Bishop Whitehead [37] that, "in Mercara taluk, in
Ippanivolavade, and in Kadikeri in Halerinad, the villagers sacrifice
a kona or male buffalo. Tied to a tree in a gloomy grove near the
temple, the beast is killed by a Meda, who cuts off its head with
a large knife, but no Coorgs are present at the time. The blood is
spilled on a stone under a tree, and the flesh eaten by Medas."

At the Census, 1901, Gauriga was returned as a sub-caste by some
Medaras, The better classes are taking to call themselves Balijas,
and affix the title Chetti to their names. The Godagula workers in
split bamboo sometimes call themselves Odde (Oriya) Medara. [38]

Meda (raised mound).--An exogamous sept of Padma Sale.

Medam (fight).--An exogamous sept of Devanga.

Mehtar.--A few Mehtars are returned, in the Madras Census Report,
1901, as a Central Provinces caste of scavengers. "This name,"
Yule and Burnell write, [39] "is usual in Bengal, especially for
the domestic servant of this class. The word is Pers., comp. mihtar
(Lat. major), a great personage, a prince, and has been applied to
the class in question in irony, or rather in consolation. But the
name has so completely adhered in this application, that all sense
of either irony or consolation has perished. Mehtar is a sweeper,
and nought else. His wife is the Matranee. It is not unusual to hear
two Mehtars hailing each other as Maharaj!"

Meikaval (body-guard of the god).--A name for Pandarams.

Mekala (goats).--Recorded as an exogamous sept of Boya, Chenchu,
Golla, Kamma, Kapu, Togata, and Yanadi. Nerigi Mekala (a kind of goat)
is a further sept of Yanadi.

Mekhri.--A sub-division of Navayat Muhammadans.

Melachcheri.--A class of Muhammadans in the Laccadive islands (see
Mappilla).

Meladava.--Dancing-girls in South Canara.

Melakkaran.--Concerning the Melakkarans, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes
as follows. [40] "The name means musicians, and, as far as Tanjore is
concerned, is applied to two absolutely distinct castes, the Tamil and
Telugu Melakkarans (of whom the latter are barber musicians). These
two will not eat in each other's houses, and their views about dining
with other castes are similar. They say they would mess (in a separate
room) in a Vellalan's house, and would dine with a Kallan, but it is
doubtful whether any but the lower non-Brahman communities would eat
with them. In other respects the two castes are quite different. The
former speak Tamil, and, in most of their customs, resemble generally
the Vellalans and other higher Tamil castes, while the latter speak
Telugu, and follow domestic practices similar to those of the Telugu
Brahmans. Both are musicians. The Telugus practice only the musician's
art or periyamelam (band composed of clarionet or nagasaram, pipe,
drum, and cymbals), having nothing to do with dancing or dancing-girls,
to whom the chinnamelam or nautch music is appropriate. The Tamil caste
provides, or has adopted all the dancing-girls in the district. The
daughters of these women are generally brought up to their mother's
profession, but the daughters of the men of the community rarely
nowadays become dancing-girls, but are ordinarily married to members
of the caste. The Tamil Melakkarans perform both the periyamelam
and the nautch music. The latter consists of vocal music performed
by a chorus of both sexes to the accompaniment of the pipe and
cymbals. The class who perform it are called Nattuvans, and they are
the instructors of the dancing-women. The periyamelam always finds
a place at weddings, but the nautch is a luxury. Nowadays the better
musicians hold themselves aloof from the dancing-women. Both castes
have a high opinion of their own social standing. Indeed the Tamil
section say they are really Kallans, Vellalans, Agamudaiyans, and so
on, and that their profession is merely an accident." The Vairavi,
or temple servant of Nattukottai Chettis, must be a Melakkaran.

Mellikallu.--Under the name Mellikallu or Mallekalu, seventy-six
individuals are returned, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as "hill
cultivators in Pedakota village of Viravalli taluk of the Vizagapatam
Agency, who are reported to constitute a caste by themselves. They
pollute by touch, have their own priests, and eat pork but not beef."

Melnadu.--Melnadu, or Melnatar, meaning western country, is the name
of a territorial sub-division of Kallan and Shanan.

Melu Sakkare.--A name, meaning western Sakkare, by which Upparas in
Mysore style themselves. They claim descent from a mythical individual,
named Sagara, who dug the Bay of Bengal. Some Upparas explain that
they work in salt, which is more essential than sugar, and that Mel
Sakkara means superior sugar.

Meman.--More than three hundred members of this Muhammadan class
of Bombay traders were returned at the Madras Census, 1901. It is
recorded, in the Bombay Gazetteer, that many Cutch, Memans are
prospering as traders in Kurrachee, Bombay, the Malabar coast,
Hyderabad, Madras, Calcutta, and Zanzibar.

Menasu (pepper or chillies).--An exogamous sept of Kuruba, and gotra
of Kurni.

Menokki (overseer).--Menokki and Menoki have been returned, in the
Travancore and Cochin Census Reports, as a sub-division of Nayars,
who are employed as accountants in temples. The name is derived from
mel, above, nokki, from nokkunnu to look after.

Menon.--By Wigram, [41] Menon is defined as "a title originally
conferred by the Zamorin on his agents and writers. It is now used by
all classes of Nayars. In Malabar, the village karnam (accountant)
is called Menon." In the Travancore Census Report, 1901, Menon
is said to be "a contraction of Menavan (a superior person). The
title was conferred upon several families by the Raja of Cochin,
and corresponds to Pillai down south. As soon as a person was made
a Menon, he was presented with an ola (palmyra leaf for writing on)
and an iron style, as symbolical of the office he was expected to
fill, i.e., of an accountant. Even now, in British Malabar, each
amsham or revenue village has a writer or accountant, who is called
Menon." Mr. F. Fawcett writes [42] that "to those of the sub-clan
attached to the Zamorin who were sufficiently capable to earn it,
he gave the titular honour Menon, to be used as an affix to the
name. The title Menon is in general hereditary, but, be it remarked,
many who now use it are not entitled to do so. Properly speaking,
only those whose investiture by the Zamorin or some other recognized
chief is undisputed, and their descendants (in the female line) may
use it. A man known to me was invested with the title Menon in 1895 by
the Karimpuzha chief, who, in the presence of a large assembly, said
thrice 'From this day forward I confer on Krishnan Nayar the title of
Krishna Menon.' Nowadays be it said, the title Menon is used by Nayars
of clans other than the Akattu Charna." Indian undergraduates at the
English Universities, with names such as Krishna Menon, Raman Menon,
Ramunni Menon, are known as Mr. Menon. In the same way, Maratha
students are called by their titular name Mr. Rao.

Mera.--A sub-division of Holeya.

Meria.--At the Madras Census, 1901, twenty-five individuals returned
themselves as Meria or Merakaya. They were descendants of persons who
were reserved for human (Meriah) sacrifice, but rescued by Government
officials in the middle of the last century.

Mesta.--A name taken by some Chaptegaras (carpenters) in South Canara.

Mestri.--A title of Semmans and other Tamil classes. The Panan tailors
are said to be also called Mestris. Concerning the word mestri,
or maistry, Yule and Burnell write as follows. [43] "This word, a
corruption of the Portuguese Mestre, has spread into the vernaculars
all over India, and is in constant Anglo-Indian use. Properly a
foreman, a master-worker. In W. and S. India maistry, as used in the
household, generally means the cook or the tailor."

Mettu Kamsali.--A synonym of Ojali blacksmith, Mettu means shoes
or sandals.

Mhallo.--A name for Konkani barbers.

Midathala (locust).--An exogamous sept of Boya and Madiga.

Middala or Meddala (storeyed house).--An exogamous sept of Padma Sale.

Midichi (locust).--A gotra of Kurni.

Mila.--The Milas are a fishing caste in Ganjam and Vizagapatam, for the
following note on whom I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The name
Milavandlu, by which they are commonly known, means fishermen. They
also call themselves Odavandlu, because they go out to sea, fishing
from boats (oda). When they become wealthy, they style themselves Oda
Balijas. The caste is divided into numerous exogamous septs, among
which are dhoni (boat), and tota (garden). The custom of menarikam,
according to which a man should marry his maternal uncle's daughter,
is in force, and a man may also marry his sister's daughter. Girls are
generally married after puberty. Gold jewellery is presented in lieu
of money as the bride-price (voli). On the occasion of a marriage,
half a dozen males and females go to the house of the bride, where
they are entertained at a feast. She is conducted to the home of
the bridegroom. A plank is placed at the entrance to the house, on
which the bride and bridegroom take their seats. After they have
bathed, new cloths are presented to them, and the old ones given
to the barber. They then sit once more on the plank, and the caste
headman, called the Ejaman, takes up the sathamanam (marriage badge),
which is passed round among those assembled. It is finally tied
by the bridegroom on the bride's neck. The remarriage of widows is
recognised. Each village has an Ejaman, who, in addition to officiating
at weddings, presides over council meetings, collects fines, etc. The
caste goddess is Polamma, to whom animal sacrifices are offered,
and in whose honour an annual festival is held. The expenses thereof
are met by public subscription and private donations. The dead are
burnt, and a Satani officiates at funerals. Death pollution is not
observed. On the twelfth day after death, the pedda rozu (big day)
ceremony is performed. The caste titles are Anna and Ayya.

Milaku (pepper: Piper nigrum).--A tree or kothu of Kondaiyamkotti
Maravans.

Milikhan.--A class of Muhammadan pilots and sailors in the Laccadive
Islands (see Mappilla).

Minalavaru (fish people).--An exogamous sept of Bedar or Boya. Min
(fish) Palli occurs as a name for Pallis who have settled in the
Telugu country, and adopted fishing as their profession.

Minchu (metal toe-ring).--An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Mini (leather rope).--A gotra of Kurni.

Minpidi (fish-catching).--A sub-division of Panan.

Mirapakaya (Capsicum frutescens).--An exogamous sept of Boya.

Mirigani.--A sub-division of Domb.

Miriyala (pepper).--An exogamous sept of Balija.

Mir Shikari.--A synonym of Kurivikkaran.

Misala (whiskers).--An exogamous sept of Boya.

Mise (moustache).--An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Mochi.--See Mucchi.

Modikaran.--The name sometimes applied to Nokkan mendicants, who dabble
in jugglery. Modi is a trial of magical powers between two persons,
in which the hiding of money is the essential thing.

Moduga (Butea frondosa).--A gotra of Medara.

Moger.--The Mogers are the Tulu-speaking fishermen of the South
Canara district, who, for the most part, follow the aliya santana
law of inheritance (in the female line), though some who are settled
in the northern part of the district speak Canarese, and follow the
makkala santana law (inheritance from father to son).

The Mogers are largely engaged in sea-fishing, and are also employed
in the Government fish-curing yards. On the occasion of an inspection
of one of these yards at Mangalore, my eye caught sight of the saw
of a sawfish (Pristis) hanging on the wall of the office. Enquiry
elicited that it was used as a "threatening instrument" in the
yard. The ticket-holders were Mappillas and Mogers. I was informed
that some of the Mogers used the hated thattu vala or achi vala
(tapping net), in using which the sides of the boats are beaten
with sticks, to drive the fish into the net. Those who object to
this method of fishing maintain that the noise made with the sticks
frightens away the shoals of mackerel and sardines. A few years ago,
the nets were cut to pieces, and thrown into the sea, as a protest
against their employment. A free fight ensued, with the result that
nineteen individuals were sentenced to a fine of fifty rupees, and
three months' imprisonment. In connection with my inspections of
fisheries, the following quaint official report was submitted. "The
Mogers about the town of Udipi are bound to supply the revenue and
magisterial establishment of the town early in the morning every
day a number of fishes strung to a piece of rope. The custom was
originated by a Tahsildar (Native revenue officer) about twenty years
ago, when the Tahsildar wielded the powers of the magistrate and the
revenue officer, and was more than a tyrant, if he so liked--when rich
and poor would tremble at the name of an unscrupulous Tahsildar. The
Tahsildar is divested of his magisterial powers, and to the law-abiding
and punctual is not more harmful than the dormouse. But the custom
continues, and the official, who, of all men, can afford to pay for
what he eats, enjoys the privileges akin to those of the time of Louis
XIV's court, and the poor fisherman has to toil by night to supply
the rich official's table with a delicious dish about gratis." A
curious custom at Cannanore in Malabar may be incidentally referred
to. Writing in 1873, Dr. Francis Day states [44] that "at Cannanore,
the Rajah's cat appears to be exercising a deleterious influence
on one branch at least of the fishing, viz., that for sharks. It
appears that, in olden times, one fish daily was taken from each boat
as a perquisite for the Rajah's cat, or the poocha meen (cat fish)
collection. The cats apparently have not augmented so much as the
fishing boats, so this has been commuted into a money payment of two
pies a day on each successful boat. In addition to this, the Rajah
annually levies a tax of Rs. 2-4-0 on every boat. Half of the sharks'
fins are also claimed by the Rajah's poocha meen contractor."

Writing concerning the Mogers, Buchanan [45] states that "these
fishermen are called Mogayer, and are a caste of Tulava origin. They
resemble the Mucuas (Mukkuvans) of Malayala, but the one caste will
have no communion with the other. The Mogayer are boatmen, fishermen,
porters, and palanquin-bearers, They pretend to be Sudras of a pure
descent, and assume a superiority over the Halepecas (Halepaiks),
one of the most common castes of cultivators in Tulava; but they
acknowledge themselves greatly inferior to the Bunts." Some Mogers
have abandoned their hereditary profession of fishing, and taken to
agriculture, oil-pressing, and playing on musical instruments. Some
are still employed as palanquin-bearers. The oil-pressers call
themselves Ganigas, the musicians Sappaligas, and the palanquin-bearers
Bovis. These are all occupational names. Some Bestha immigrants from
Mysore have settled in the Pattur taluk, and are also known as Bovis,
The word Bovi is a form of the Telugu Boyi (bearer).

The Mogers manufacture the caps made from the spathe of the areca palm,
which are worn by Koragas and Holeyas.

The settlements of the Moger fishing community are called pattana,
e.g., Odorottu pattana, Manampade pattana. For this reason, Pattanadava
is sometimes given as a synonym for the caste name. The Tamil fishermen
of the City of Madras are, in like manner, called Pattanavan, because
they live in pattanams or maritime villages.

Like other Tulu castes, the Mogers worship bhuthas (devils). The
principal bhutha of the fishing community is Bobbariya, in whose honour
the kola festival is held periodically. Every settlement, or group of
settlements, has a Bobbariya bhuthasthana (devil shrine). The Matti
Brahmans, who, according to local tradition, are Mogers raised to
the rank of Brahmans by one Vathiraja Swami, a Sanyasi, also have
a Bobbariya bhuthasthana in the village of Matti. The Mogers who
have ceased to be fishermen, and dwell in land, worship the bhuthas
Panjurli and Baikadthi. There is a caste priest, called Mangala pujari,
whose head-quarters are at Bannekuduru near Barkur. Every family has to
pay eight annas annually to the priest, to enable him to maintain the
temple dedicated to Ammanoru or Mastiamma at Bannekuduru. According to
some, Mastiamma is Mari, the goddess of small-pox, while others say
that she is the same as Mohini, a female devil, who possesses men,
and kills them.

For every settlement, there must be at least two Gurikaras (headmen),
and, in some settlements, there are as many as four. All the Gurikaras
wear, as an emblem of their office, a gold bracelet on the left
wrist. Some wear, in addition, a bracelet presented by the members of
the caste for some signal service. The office of headman is hereditary,
and follows the aliya santana law of succession (in the female line).

The ordinary Tulu barber (Kelasi) does not shave the Mogers, who have
their own caste barber, called Melantavam, who is entitled to receive
a definite share of a catch of fish. The Konkani barbers (Mholla)
do not object to shave Mogers, and, in some places where Mhollas are
not available, the Billava barber is called in.

Like other Tulu castes, the Mogers have exogamous septs, or balis,
of which the following are examples:--


    Ane, elephant.
    Bali, a fish.
    Deva, god.
    Dyava, tortoise.
    Honne, Pterocarpus Marsupium.
    Shetti, a fish.
    Tolana, wolf.


The marriage ceremonial of the Mogers conforms to the customary
Tulu type. A betrothal ceremony is gone through, and the sirdochi,
or bride-price, varying from six to eight rupees, paid. The marriage
rites last over two days. On the first day, the bride is seated
on a plank or cot, and five women throw rice over her head, and
retire. The bridegroom and his party come to the home of the bride,
and are accommodated at her house, or elsewhere. On the following
day, the contracting couple are seated together, and the bride's
father, or the Gurikara, pours the dhare water over their united
hands. It is customary to place a cocoanut on a heap of rice, with
some betel leaves and areca nuts at the side thereof. The dhare water
(milk and water) is poured thrice over the cocoanut. Then all those
assembled throw rice over the heads of the bride and bridegroom,
and make presents of money. Divorce can be easily effected, after
information of the intention has been given to the Gurikara. In the
Udipi taluk, a man who wishes to divorce his wife goes to a certain
tree with two or three men, and makes three cuts in the trunk with a
bill-hook. This is called barahakodu, and is apparently observed by
other castes. The Mogers largely adopt girls in preference to boys,
and they need not be of the same sept as the adopter.

On the seventh day after the birth of a child a Madivali (washerwoman)
ties a waist-thread on it, and gives it a name. This name is usually
dropped after a time, and another name substituted for it.

The dead are either buried or cremated. If the corpse is burnt, the
ashes are thrown into a tank (pond) or river on the third or fifth
day. The final death ceremonies (bojja or savu) are performed on the
seventh, ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth day, with details similar to
those of the Billavas. Like other Tulu castes, some Mogers perform
a propitiatory ceremony on the fortieth day.

The ordinary caste title of the Mogers is Marakaleru, and Gurikara
that of members of the families to which the headmen belong. In the
Kundapur taluk, the title Naicker is preferred to Marakaleru.

The cephalic index of the Mogers is, as shown by the following table,
slightly less than that of the Tulu Bants and Billavas:--


                      Av.    Max.   Min.   No. of times
                                           index 80 or over.

        50 Billavas   80.1   91.5   71.            28
        40 Bants      78.    91.2   70.8           13
        40 Mogers     77.1   84.9   71.8            9


Mogili (Pandanus fascicularis).--An exogamous sept of Kapu and
Yerukala.

Mogotho.--A sub-division of Gaudo, the members of which are considered
inferior because they eat fowls.

Mohiro (peacock).--An exogamous sept or gotra of Bhondari and Gaudo,

Moksham (heaven).--An exogamous sept of Devanga.

Moktessor or Mukhtesar.--See Stanika.

Mola (hare).--An exogamous sept of Gangadikara Holeya and Gangadikara
Vakkaliga.

Molaya Devan.--A title of Kallan and Nokkan.

Moliko.--A title of Doluva and Kondra.

Monathinni.--The name, meaning those who eat the vermin of the earth,
of a sub-division of Valaiyan.

Mondi.--For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana
Rao. Mondi, Landa, Kalladi-siddhan (q.v.), and Kalladi-mangam, are
different names for one and the same class of mendicants. The first
two names denote a troublesome fellow, and the last two one who
beats himself with a stone. The Mondis speak Tamil, and correspond
to the Bandas of the Telugu country, banda meaning an obstinate
person or tricksy knave. [The name Banda is sometimes explained as
meaning stone, in reference to these mendicants carrying about a
stone, and threatening to beat out their brains, if alms are not
forthcoming.] They are as a rule tall, robust individuals, who go
about all but naked, with a jingling chain tied to the right wrist,
their hair long and matted, a knife in the hand, and a big stone
on the left shoulder. When engaged in begging, they cut the skin
of the thighs with the knife, lie down and beat their chests with
the stone, vomit, roll in the dust or mud, and throw dirt at those
who will not contribute alms. In a note on the Mondis or Bandas,
[46] Mr. H. A. Stuart writes that these beggars "lay no claim to a
religious character. Though regarded as Sudras, it is difficult to
think them such, as they are black and filthy in their appearance,
and disgusting in their habits. Happily their numbers are few. They
wander about singing, or rather warbling, for they utter no articulate
words, and, if money or grain be not given to them, they have
recourse to compulsion. The implements of their trade are knives and
ordure. With the former they cut themselves until they draw blood,
and the latter they throw into the house or shop of the person who
proves uncharitable. They appear to possess the power of vomiting
at pleasure, and use it to disgust people into a compliance with
their demands. Sometimes they lie in the street, covering the entire
face with dust, keeping, it is said, their eyes open the while, and
breathing through the dust. Eventually they always succeed by some
of these means in extorting what they consider their dues." Boys
are regularly trained to vomit at will. They are made to drink as
much hot water or conji (gruel) as they can, and taught how to bring
it up. At first, they are made to put several fingers in the mouth,
and tickle the base of the tongue, so as to give rise to vomiting. By
constant practice, they learn how to vomit at any time. Just before
they start on a begging round, they drink some fluid, which is brought
up while they are engaged in their professional calling.

There are several proverbs relating to this class of mendicants, one
of which is to the effect that the rough and rugged ground traversed
by the Kalladi-siddhan is powdered to dust. Another gives the advice
that, whichever way the Kalladi-mangam goes, you should dole out a
measure of grain for him. Otherwise he will defile the road owing
to his disgusting habits. A song, which the Mondi may often be heard
warbling, runs as follows:--


            Mother, mother, Oh! grandmother,
            Grandmother, who gave birth.
            Dole out my measure.


Their original ancestor is said to have been a shepherd, who had both
his legs cut off by robbers in a jungle. The king of the country in
compassion directed that every one should pay him and his descendants,
called mondi or lame, a small amount of money or grain.

The caste is divided into a series of bands, each of which has the
right to collect alms within a particular area. The merchants and ryots
are expected to pay them once a year, the former in money, and the
latter in grain at harvest time. Each band recognises a headman, who,
with the aid of the caste elders, settles marital and other disputes.

Marriage is usually celebrated after puberty. In the North Arcot
district, it is customary for a man to marry his maternal uncle's
daughter, and in the Madura district a man can claim his paternal
aunt's daughter in marriage. The caste is considered so low in the
social scale that Brahmans will not officiate at marriages. Divorce
is easy, and adultery with a man of higher caste is condoned more
readily than a similar offence within the caste.

Mondolo.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as an Oriya
title given by Zamindars to the headmen of villages. It is also a
title of various Oriya castes.

Mora Buvva.--A sub-division of Madigas, who offer food (buvva) to
the god in a winnowing basket (mora) at marriage.

Morasu.--The following legendary account of the origin of the "Morsu
Vellallu" is given in the Baramahal Records. [47] "In the kingdom
of Conjiveram, there was a village named Paluru, the residence of a
chieftain, who ruled over a small district inhabited by the Morsu
Vellallu. It so happened that one of them had a handsome daughter
with whom the chieftain fell in love, and demanded her in marriage
of her parents. But they would not comply with his demand, urging
as an excuse the difference of caste, on which the inflamed lover
determined on using force to obtain the object of his desires. This
resolution coming to the knowledge of the parents of the girl, they
held a consultation with the rest of the sect, and it was determined
that for the present they should feign a compliance with his order,
until they could meet with a favourable opportunity of quitting the
country. They accordingly signified their consent to the matter,
and fixed upon the nuptial day, and erected a pandal or temporary
building in front of their house for the performance of the wedding
ceremonies. At the proper time, the enamoured and enraptured chief
sent in great state to the bride's house the wedding ornaments and
clothes of considerable value, with grain and every other delicacy
for the entertainment of the guests, The parents, having in concert
with the other people of the sect prepared everything for flight,
they put the ornaments and clothes on the body of a dog, which they
tied to the centre pillar of the pandal, threw all the delicacies on
the ground before him, and, taking their daughter, fled. Their flight
soon came to the ears of the chief, who, being vexed and mortified
at the trick they had played him, set out with his attendants like a
raging lion in quest of his prey. The fugitives at length came to the
banks of the Tungabhadra river, which they found full and impassable,
and their cruel pursuer nigh at hand. In the dreadful dilemma, they
addressed to the God Vishnu the following prayer. 'O! Venkatrama
(a title of Vishnu), if thou wilt graciously deign to enable us to
ford this river, and wilt condescend to assist us in crossing the
water, as thou didst Hanumant in passing over the vast ocean, we
from henceforth will adopt thee and thy ally Hanumant our tutelary
deities.' Vishnu was pleased to grant their prayer, and by his
command the water in an instant divided, and left a dry space,
over which they passed. The moment they reached the opposite bank,
the waters closed and prevented their adversary from pursuing them,
who returned to his own country. The sect settled in the provinces
near the Tungabhadra river, and in course of time spread over the
districts which now form the eastern part of the kingdom of Mysore
then called Morsu, and from thence arose their surname."

As in Africa, and among the American Indians, Australians, and
Polynesians, so in Southern India artificial deformity of the hand
is produced by chopping off some of the fingers. Writing in 1815,
Buchanan (Hamilton) [48] says that "near Deonella or Deonhully,
a town in Mysore, is a sect or sub-division of the Murressoo Wocal
caste, every woman of which, previous to piercing the ears of her
eldest daughter, preparatory to her being betrothed in marriage, must
undergo the amputation of the first joints of third and fourth fingers
of her right hand. The amputation is performed by the blacksmith of
the village, who, having placed the finger in a block, performs the
operation with a chisel. If the girl to be betrothed is motherless, and
the mother of the boy has not before been subjected to the amputation,
it is incumbent on her to suffer the operation." Of the same ceremony
among the "Morsa-Okkala-Makkalu" of Mysore the Abbé Dubois [49]
says that, if the bride's mother be dead, the bridegroom's mother,
or in default of her the mother of the nearest relative, must submit
to the cruel ordeal. In an editorial foot-note it is stated that
this custom is no longer observed. Instead of the two fingers being
amputated, they are now merely bound together, and thus rendered
unfit for use. In the Census Report, 1891, it is recorded that this
type of deformity is found among the Morasus, chiefly in Cuddapah,
North Arcot, and Salem. "There is a sub-section of them called Veralu
Icche Kapulu, or Kapulu who give the fingers, from a curious custom
which requires that, when a grandchild is born in a family, the wife
of the eldest son of the grandfather must have the last two joints of
the third and fourth fingers of her right hand amputated at a temple of
Bhairava." Further, it is stated in the Manual of the Salem district
(1883) that "the practice now observed in this district is that, when
a grandchild is born in a family, the eldest son of the grandfather,
with his wife, appears at the temple for the ceremony of boring
the child's ear, and there the woman has the last two joints of the
third and fourth fingers chopped off. It does not signify whether
the father of the first grandchild born be the eldest son or not, as
in any case it is the wife of the eldest son who has to undergo the
mutilation. After this, when children are born to other sons, their
wives in succession undergo the operation. When a child is adopted,
the same course is pursued."

The origin of the custom is narrated by Wilks, [50] and is
briefly this. Mahadeo or Siva, who was in great peril, after hiding
successively in a castor-oil and jawari plantation, concealed himself
in a linga-tonde shrub from a rakshasa who was pursuing him, to whom
a Marasa Vakkaliga cultivator indicated, with the little finger of
his right hand, the hiding-place of Siva, The god was only rescued
from his peril by the interposition of Vishnu in the form of a lovely
maiden meretriciously dressed, whom the lusty rakshasa, forgetting
all about Siva, attempted to ravish, and was consumed to ashes. On
emerging from his hiding-place, Siva decreed that the cultivator
should forfeit the offending finger. The culprit's wife, who had just
arrived at the field with food for her husband, hearing this dreadful
sentence, threw herself at Siva's feet, and represented the certain
ruin of her family if her husband should be disabled for some months
from performing the labours of the farm, and besought the deity to
accept two of her fingers instead of one from her husband. Siva,
pleased with so sincere a proof of conjugal affection, accepted
the exchange, and ordered that her family posterity in all future
generations should sacrifice two fingers at his temple as a memorial
of the transaction, and of their exclusive devotion to the god of the
lingam. For the following account of the performance of the rite,
as carried out by the Morasa Vakkaligaru of Mysore, I am indebted
to an article by Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar. [51] "These people are
roughly classed under three heads, viz.: (1) those whose women offer
the sacrifice; (2) those who substitute for the fingers a piece of
gold wire, twisted round fingers in the shape of rings. Instead of
cutting the fingers off, the carpenter removes and appropriates the
rings; (3) those who do not perform the rite. The modus operandi is
as nearly as possible the following. About the time of the new moon
in Chaitra, a propitious day is fixed by the village astrologer, and
the woman who is to offer the sacrifice performs certain ceremonies
or puje in honour of Siva, taking food only once a day. For three
days before the operation, she has to support herself with milk,
sugar, fruits, etc., all substantial food being eschewed. On the day
appointed, a common cart is brought out, painted in alternate strips
with white and red ochre, and adorned with gay flags, flowers, etc.,
in imitation of a car. Sheep or pigs are slaughtered before it, their
number being generally governed by the number of children borne by
the sacrificing woman. The cart is then dragged by bullocks, preceded
by music, the woman and her husband following, with new pots filled
with water and small pieces of silver money, borne on their heads,
and accompanied by a retinue of friends and relatives. The village
washerman has to spread clean cloths along the path of the procession,
which stops near the boundary of the village, where a leafy bower is
prepared, with three pieces of stone installed in it, symbolising
the god Siva. Flowers, fruits, cocoanuts, incense, etc., are then
offered, varied occasionally by an additional sheep or pig. A wooden
seat is placed before the image, and the sacrificing woman places
upon it her right hand with the fingers spread out. A man holds her
hand firmly, and the village carpenter, placing his chisel on the
first joints of her ring and little fingers, chops them off with a
single stroke. The pieces lopped off are thrown into an ant-hill,
and the tips of the mutilated fingers, round which rags are bound,
are dipped into a vessel containing boiling gingily (Sesamum indicum)
oil. A good skin eventually forms over the stump, which looks like a
congenital malformation. The fee of the carpenter is one kanthiraya
fanam (four annas eight pies) for each maimed finger, besides presents
in kind. The woman undergoes the barbarous and painful ceremony without
a murmur, and it is an article of the popular belief that, were it
neglected, or if nails grow on the stump, dire ruin and misfortune
will overtake the recusant family. Staid matrons, who have had their
fingers maimed for life in the above manner, exhibit their stumps with
a pride worthy of a better cause. At the termination of the sacrifice,
the woman is presented with cloths, flowers, etc., by her friends
and relations, to whom a feast is given, Her children are placed on
an adorned seat, and, after receiving presents of flowers, fruits,
etc., their ears are pierced in the usual way. It is said that to do
so before would be sacrilege." In a very full account of deformation
of the hand by the Berulu Kodo sub-sect of the Vakaliga or ryat caste
in Mysore, Mr. F. Fawcett says that it was regularly practiced until
the Commissioner of Mysore put a stop to it about twenty years ago. "At
present some take gold or silver pieces, stick them on to the finger's
ends with flour paste, and either cut or pull them off. Others simply
substitute an offering of small pieces of gold or silver for the
amputation. Others, again, tie flowers round the fingers that used to
be cut, and go through a pantomime of cutting by putting the chisel
on the joint and taking it away again. All the rest of the ceremony
is just as it used to be." The introduction of the decorated cart,
which has been referred to, is connected by Mr. Fawcett with a legend
concerning a zemindar, who sought the daughters of seven brothers in
marriage with three youths of his family. As carts were used in the
flight from the zemindar, the ceremony is, to commemorate the event,
called Bandi Devuru, or god of cars. As by throwing ear-rings into a
river the fugitives passed through it, while the zemindar was drowned,
the caste people insist on their women's ears being bored for
ear-rings. And, in honour of the girls who cared more for the honour
of their caste than for the distinction of marriage into a great
family, the amputation of part of two fingers of women of the caste
was instituted.

"Since the prohibition of cutting off the fingers," Mr. L. Rice writes,
[52] "the women content themselves with putting on a gold or silver
finger-stall or thimble, which is pulled off instead of the finger
itself."

Morasa Kapulu women never touch the new grain of the year without
worshipping the sun (Surya), and may not eat food prepared from
this grain before this act of worship has been performed. They
wrap themselves in a kambli (blanket) after a purificatory bath,
prostrate themselves on the ground, raise their hands to the forehead
in salutation, and make the usual offering of cocoanuts, etc. They
are said, in times gone by, to have been lax in their morals and to
have prayed to the sun to forgive them.

Morasu has further been returned as a sub-division of Holeya, Mala and
Odde. The name Morasu Paraiyan probably indicates Holeyas who have
migrated from the Canarese to the Tamil country, and whose women,
like the Kallans, wear a horse-shoe thread round the neck.

Motati.--A sub-division of Kapu.

Moyili.--The Moyilis or Moilis of South Canara are said [53] by
Mr. H. A. Stuart to be "admittedly the descendants of the children of
women attached to the temples, and their ranks are even now swelled
in this manner. Their duties are similar to those of the Stanikas"
(q.v.). In the Madras Census report, 1901, Golaka (a bastard) is
clubbed with Moili. In the Mysore Census Report, this term is said
to be applied to children of Brahmans by Malerus (temple servants
in Mysore).

The following account of the origin of the Moylars was given by
Buchanan at the beginning of the nineteenth century. [54] "In the
temples of Tuluva there prevails a very singular custom, which has
given origin to a caste named Moylar. Any woman of the four pure
castes--Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya or Sudra--who is tired of her
husband, or who (being a widow, and consequently incapable of marriage)
is tired of a life of celibacy, goes to a temple, and eats some of the
rice that is offered to the idol. She is then taken before the officers
of Government, who assemble some people of her caste to inquire into
the cause of her resolution; and, if she be of the Brahman caste, to
give her an option of living in the temple or out of its precincts. If
she chooses the former, she gets a daily allowance of rice, and
annually a piece of cloth. She must sweep the temple, fan the idol
with a Tibet cow's tail and confine her amours to the Brahmans. In
fact she generally becomes a concubine to some officer of revenue who
gives her a trifle in addition to her public allowance, and who will
flog her severely if she grants favours to any other person. The male
children of these women are called Moylar, but are fond of assuming
the title of Stanika, and wear the Brahmanical thread. As many of them
as can procure employment live about the temples, sweep the areas,
sprinkle them with an infusion of cow-dung, carry flambeaus before
the gods, and perform other similar low offices."

The Moyilis are also called Devadigas, and should not be mixed with
the Malerus (or Maleyavaru). Both do temple service, but the Maleru
females are mostly prostitutes, whereas Moyili women are not. Malerus
are dancing-girls attached to the temples in South Canara, and their
ranks are swelled by Konkani, Shivalli, and other Brahman women of
bad character.

The Moyilis have adopted the manners and customs of the Bants, and
have the same balis (septs) as the Bants and Billavas.

Mucchi.--The Mucchis or Mochis are summed up, in the Madras
Census Report, 1901, as being a Marathi caste of painters and
leather-workers. In the Mysore Census Report it is noted that "to the
leather-working caste may be added a small body of Mochis, shoemakers
and saddlers. They are immigrant Mahratas, who, it is said, came
into Mysore with Khasim Khan, the general of Aurangzib. They claim
to be Kshatriyas and Rajputs--pretensions which are not generally
admitted. They are shoemakers and saddlers by trade, and are all
Saivas by faith." "The Mucchi," Mr. A. Chatterton writes [55] "is
not a tanner, and as a leather-worker only engages in the higher
branches of the trade. Some of them make shoes, but draw the line
at sandals. A considerable number are engaged as menial servants in
Government offices. Throughout the country, nearly every office has
its own Mucchi, whose principal duty is to keep in order the supplies
of stationery, and from raw materials manufacture ink, envelopes
and covers, and generally make himself useful. A good many of the
so-called Mucchis, however, do not belong to the caste, as very few
have wandered south of Madras, and they are mostly to be found in
Ganjam and the Ceded Districts." The duties of the office Mucchi have
further been summed up as "to mend pencils, prepare ink from powders,
clean ink-bottles, stitch note-books, paste covers, rule forms,
and affix stamps to covers and aid the despatch of tappals" (postal
correspondence). In the Moochee's Hand-book [56] by the head Mucchi
in the office of the Inspector-General of Ordnance, and contractor
for black ink powder, it is stated that "the Rev. J. P. Rottler,
in his Tamil and English dictionary, defines the word Mucchi as
signifying trunk-maker, stationer, painter. Mucchi's work comprises
the following duties:--

To make black, red, and blue writing ink, also ink of other colours
as may seem requisite.

To mend quills, rule lines, make envelopes, mount or paste maps or
plans on cloth with ribbon edges, pack parcels in wax-cloth, waterproof
or common paper, seal letters and open boxes or trunk parcels.

To take charge of boxes, issue stationery for current use, and supply
petty articles.

To file printed forms, etc., and bind books."

In the Fort St. George Gazette, 1906, applications were invited from
persons who have passed the Matriculation examination of the Madras
University for the post of Mucchi on Rs. 8 per mensem in the office
of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

In the District Manuals, the various occupations of the Mucchis are
summed up as book-binding, working in leather, making saddles and
trunks, painting, making toys, and pen-making. At the present day,
Mucchis (designers) are employed by piece-goods merchants in Madras
in devising and painting new patterns for despatch to Europe, where
they are engraved on copper cylinders. When, as at the present day,
the bazars of Southern India are flooded with imported piece-goods
of British manufacture, it is curious to look back and reflect that
the term piece-goods was originally applied in trade to the Indian
cotton fabrics exported to England.

The term Mucchi is applied to two entirely different sets of people. In
Mysore and parts of the Ceded Districts, it refers to Marathi-speaking
workers in leather. But it is further applied to Telugu-speaking
people, called Raju, Jinigara, or Chitrakara, who are mainly engaged in
painting, making toys, etc., and not in leather-work. (See Rachevar.)

Mucherikala.--Recorded by Mr. F. S. Mullaly [57] as a synonym of a
thief class in the Telugu country.

Mudali.--The title Mudali is used chiefly by the offspring of
Deva-dasis (dancing-girls), Kaikolans, and Vellalas. The Vellalas
generally take the title Mudali in the northern, and Pillai in
the southern districts. By some Vellalas, Mudali is considered
discourteous, as it is also the title of weavers. [58] Mudali further
occurs as a title of some Jains, Gadabas, Occhans, Pallis or Vanniyans,
and Panisavans. Some Pattanavans style themselves Varunakula Mudali.

Mudavandi.--The Mudavandis are said [59] to be "a special begging
class, descended from Vellala Goundans, since they had the immemorial
privilege of taking possession, as of right, of any Vellala child that
was infirm or maimed. The Modivandi made his claim by spitting into the
child's face, and the parents were then obliged, even against their
will, to give it up. Thenceforward it was a Modivandi, and married
among them. The custom has fallen into desuetude for the last forty
or fifty years, as a complaint of abduction would entail serious
consequences. Their special village is Modivandi Satyamangalam near
Erode. The chief Modivandi, in 1887, applied for sanction to employ
peons (orderlies) with belts and badges upon their begging tours,
probably because contributions are less willingly made nowadays to
idle men. They claim to be entitled to sheep and grain from the ryats."

In a note on the Mudavandis, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes that it is
stated to be the custom that children born blind or lame in the Konga
Vellala caste are handed over by their parents to become Mudavandis. If
the parents hesitate to comply with the custom, the Mudavandis tie a
red cloth round the head of the child, and the parents can then no
longer withhold their consent. They have to give the boy a bullock
to ride on if he is lame, or a stick if he is blind.

A Revenue Officer writes (1902) that, at the village of Andipalayam
in the Salem district, there is a class of people called Modavandi,
whose profession is the adoption of the infirm members of the Konga
Vellalas. Andis are professional beggars. They go about among the
Konga Vellalas, and all the blind and maimed children are pounced
upon by them, and carried to their village. While parting with their
children, the parents, always at the request of the children, give a
few, sometimes rising to a hundred, rupees. The infirm never loses
his status. He becomes the adopted child of the Andi, and inherits
half of his property invariably. They are married among the Andis,
and are well looked after. In return for their services, the Andis
receive four annas a head from the Konga Vellala community annually,
and the income from this source alone amounts to Rs. 6,400. A
forty-first part share is given to the temple of Arthanariswara at
Trichengodu. None of the Vellalas can refuse the annual subscription,
on pain of being placed under the ban of social excommunication, and
the Andi will not leave the Vellala's house until the infirm child is
handed over to him. One Tahsildar (revenue officer) asked himself why
the Andi's income should not be liable to income-tax, and the Andis
were collectively assessed. Of course, it was cancelled on appeal.

Mudi (knot).--An exogamous sept of Mala.

Mudiya.--The name, derived from mudi, a preparation of fried rice,
of a sub-division of Chuditiya.

Muduvar.--The Muduvars or Mudugars are a tribe of hill cultivators in
Coimbatore, Madura, Malabar, and Travancore. For the following note
on those who inhabit the Cardamom hills, I am indebted to Mr. Aylmer
Ff. Martin.

The name of the tribe is usually spelt Muduvar in English, and in
Tamil pronounced Muthuvar, or Muthuvanal. Outsiders sometimes call the
tribe Thagappanmargal (a title sometimes used by low-caste people in
addressing their masters). The Muduvars have a dialect of their own,
closely allied to Tamil, with a few Malayalam words. Their names for
males are mostly those of Hindu gods and heroes, but Kanjan (dry or
stingy), Karupu Kunji (black chick), Kunjita (chicken) and Kar Megam
(black cloud) are distinctive and common. For females, the names of
goddesses and heroines, Karapayi (black), Koopi (sweepings), and Paychi
(she-devil) are common. Boy twins are invariably Lutchuman and Raman,
girl twins Lutchmi and Ramayi. Boy and girl twins are named Lutchman
and Ramayi, or Lutchmi and Raman.

The Muduvars do not believe themselves to be indigenous to the hills;
the legend, handed down from father to son, is that they originally
lived in Madura. Owing to troubles, or a war in which the Pandyan
Raja of the times was engaged, they fled to the hills. When at
Bodinayakanur, the pregnant women (or, as some say, a pregnant
woman) were left behind, and eventually went with the offspring to
the Nilgiris, while the bulk of the tribe came to the High Range
of North Travancore. There is supposed to be enmity between these
rather vague Nilgiri people and the Muduvars. The Nilgiri people
are said occasionally to visit Bodinayakanur, but, if by chance they
are met by Muduvars, there is no speech between them, though each is
supposed instinctively or intuitively to recognise the presence of
the other. Those that came to the High Range carried their children
up the ghats on their backs, and it was thereupon decided to name
the tribe Muduvar, or back people. According to another tradition,
when they left Madura, they carried with them on their back the
image of the goddess Minakshi, and brought it to Neriyamangalam. It
is stated by Mr. P. E. Conner [60] that the Muduvars "rank high
in point of precedency among the hill tribes. They were originally
Vellalas, tradition representing them as having accompanied some of
the Madura princes to the Travancore hills." The approximate time of
the exodus from Madura cannot even be guessed by any of the tribe,
but it was possibly at the time when the Pandyan Rajas entered the
south, or more probably when the Telugu Naickers took possession of
Bodinayakanur in the fourteenth century. It has also been suggested
that the Muduvars were driven to the hills by the Muhammadan invaders
in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Judging from the two
distinct types of countenance, their language, and their curious
mixture of customs, I hazard the conjecture that, when they arrived
on the hills, they found a small tribe in possession, with whom they
subsequently intermarried, this tribe having affinities with the west
coast, while the new arrivals were connected with the east.

The tribe is settled on the northern and western portion of the
Cardamom Hills, and the High Range of Travancore, known as the Kanan
Devan hills, and there is, I believe, one village on the Anaimalai
hills. They wander to some extent, less so now than formerly, owing
to the establishment of the planting community in their midst. The
head-quarters at present may be said to be on the western slopes of
the High Range. The present Mel Vaken or headman lives in a village
on the western slope of the High Range at about 2,000 feet elevation,
but villages occur up to 6,000 feet above sea level, the majority of
villages being about 4,000 feet above the sea. The wandering takes
place between the reaping of the final crop on one piece of land,
and the sowing of the next. About November sees the breaking up of
the old village, and February the establishment of the new. On the
plateau of the High Range their dwellings are small rectangular,
rather flat-roofed huts, made of jungle sticks or grass (both walls
and root), and are very neat in appearance. On the western slopes,
although the materials lend themselves to even neater building, their
houses are usually of a rougher type. The materials used are the stems
and leaves of the large-leaved ita (bamboo: Ochlandra travancorica)
owing to the absence of grass-land country. The back of the house has
no wall, the roof sloping on to the hillside behind, and the other
walls are generally made of a rough sort of matting made by plaiting
split ita stems.

Outsiders are theoretically not received into the caste, but a weaver
caste boy and girl who were starving (in the famine of 1877, as far as
I can make out), and deserted on the hills, were adopted, and, when
they grew up, were allowed the full privileges of the caste. Since
then, a 'Thotiya Naicker' child was similarly adopted, and is now a
full-blown Muduvar with a Muduvar wife. On similar occasions, adoptions
from similar or higher castes might take place, but the adoption of
Pariahs or low-caste people would be quite impossible. In a lecture
delivered some years ago by Mr. O. H. Bensley, it was stated that
the Muduvars permit the entry of members of the Vellala caste into
their community, but insist upon a considerable period of probation
before finally admitting the would-be Muduvar into their ranks.

If any dispute arises in the community, it is referred to the men of
the village, who form an informal panchayat (council), with the eldest
or most influential man at its head. References are sometimes, but
only seldom, made to the Muppen, a sort of sub-headman of the tribe,
except, perhaps, in the particular village in which he resides. The
office of both Muppen and Mel Vaken is hereditary, and follows
the marumakkatayam custom, i.e., descent to the eldest son of the
eldest sister. The orders of the panchayat, or of the headman,
are not enforceable by any specified means. A sort of sending a
delinquent to Coventry exists, but falls through when the matter has
blown over. Adjudications only occur at the request of the parties
concerned, or in the case of cohabitation between the prohibited
degrees of consanguinity, when, on it becoming known, the guilty
pair are banished to the jungle, but seem nevertheless to be able to
visit the village at will. When disputes between parties are settled
against any one, he may be fined, generally in kind--a calf, a cow,
a bull, or grain. There is no trial by ordeal. Oaths by the accuser,
the accused, and partisans of both, are freely taken. The form of oath
is to call upon God that the person swearing, or his child, may die
within so many days if the oath is untrue, at the same time stepping
over the Rama kodu, which consists of lines drawn on the ground, one
line for each day. It may consist of any number of lines, but three,
five, or seven are usual. Increasing the number of lines indefinitely
would be considered to be trifling with the subject.

There do not seem to be any good omens, but evil omens are
numerous. The barking of 'jungle sheep' (barking deer) or sambar,
the hill robin crossing the path when shifting the village, are
examples. Oracles, magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and especially the
evil eye, are believed in very firmly, but are not practiced by
Muduvars. I was myself supposed to have exercised the evil eye at
one time. It once became my duty to apportion to Muduvars land for
their next year's cultivation, and I went round with some of them for
this purpose, visiting the jungle they wished to clear. A particular
friend of mine, called Kanjan, asked for a bit of secondary growth
very close to a cinchona estate; it was, in fact, situated between
Lower Nettigudy and Upper Nettigudy, and the main road passed quite
close. I told him that there was no objection, except that it was most
unusual, and that probably the estate coolies would rob the place;
and I warned him very distinctly that, if evil came of his choice,
he was not to put the blame on me. Shortly afterwards I left India,
and was absent about three months, and, when I returned, I found that
small-pox had practically wiped out that village, thirty-seven out of
forty inhabitants having died, including Kanjan. I was, of course,
very sorry; but, as I found a small bit of the land in question
had been felled, and there being no claimants, I planted it up with
cinchona. As the smallpox had visited all the Muduvar villages, and
had spread great havoc among them, I was not surprised at their being
scarce, but I noticed, on the few occasions when I did see them, that
they were always running away. When I got the opportunity, I cornered
a man by practically riding him down, and asked for an explanation. He
then told me that, of course, the tribe had been sorely troubled,
because I told Kanjan in so many words that evil would come. I had
then disappeared (to work my magic, no doubt), and returned just in
time to take that very bit of land for myself. That was nearly five
years ago, and confidence in me is only now being gradually restored.

The Muduvans have lucky days for starting on a journey--


    Monday, start before sunrise.
    Tuesday, start in the forenoon.
    Wednesday start before 7 A.M.
    Thursday, start after eating the morning meal.
    Friday, never make a start; it is a bad day.
    Saturday and Sunday, start as soon as the sun has risen.


When boys reach puberty, the parents give a feast to the village. In
the case of a girl, a feast is likewise given, and she occupies, for
the duration of the menstrual period, a hut set apart for all the women
in the village to occupy during their uncleanness. When it is over, she
washes her clothes, and takes a bath, washing her head. This is just
what every woman of the village always does. There is no mutilation,
and the girl just changes her child's dress for that of a woman. The
married women of the village assist at confinements. Twins bring good
luck. Monsters are said to be sometimes born, bearing the form of
little tigers, cows, monkeys, etc. On these occasions, the mother is
said generally to die, but, when she does not die, she is said to eat
the monster. Monstrosities must anyway be killed. Childless couples
are dieted to make them fruitful, the principal diet for a man being
plenty of black monkey, and for a woman a compound of various herbs
and spices.

A man may not marry the daughter of his brother or sister; he ought to
marry his uncle's daughter, and he may have two or three wives, who
may or may not be sisters. Among the plateau Muduvars, both polygamy
and polyandry are permitted, the former being common, and the latter
occasional. In the case of the latter, brothers are prohibited from
having a common wife, as also are cousins on the father's side. In
the case of polygamy, the first married is the head wife, and the
others take orders from her, but she has no other privileges. If the
wives are amicably disposed, they live together, but, when inclined
to disagree, they are given separate houses for the sake of peace
and harmony. With quarrelsome women, one wife may be in one village,
and the others in another. A man may be polygamous in one village,
and be one of a polyandrous lot of men a few miles off. On the Cardamom
Hills, and on the western slopes, where the majority of the tribe live,
they are monogamous, and express abhorrence of both the polygamous and
polyandrous condition, though they admit, with an affectation of amused
disgust, that both are practiced by their brethren on the high lands.

Marriages are arranged by the friends, and more often by the cousins
on the mother's side of the bridegroom, who request the hand of a
girl or woman from her parents. If they agree, the consent of the most
remote relatives has also to be obtained, and, if everyone is amicable,
a day is fixed, and the happy couple leave the village to live a few
days in a cave by themselves. On their return, they announce whether
they would like to go on with it, or not. In the former case, the man
publicly gives ear-rings, a metal (generally brass) bangle, a cloth,
and a comb to the woman, and takes her to his hut. The comb is a poor
affair made of split ita or perhaps of bamboo, but it is the essential
part of the ceremony. If the probationary period in the cave has not
proved quite satisfactory to both parties, the marriage is put off,
and the man and the woman are both at liberty to try again with some
one else. Betrothal does not exist as a ceremony, though families
often agree together to marry their children together, but this is not
binding in any way. The tying of the tali (marriage badge) is said to
have been tried in former days as part of the marriage ceremony, but,
as the bride always died, the practice was discontinued. Remarriage of
widows is permitted, and the widow by right belongs to, or should be
taken over by her deceased husband's maternal aunt's son, and not,
under any circumstances, by any of his brothers. In practice she
marries almost any one but one of the brothers. No man should visit the
house of his younger brother's wife, or even look at that lady. This
prohibition does not extend to the wives of his elder brothers, but
sexual intercourse even here would be incest. The same ceremonies are
gone through at the remarriage of a widow as in an ordinary marriage,
the ear-rings and bangles, which she discarded on the death of the
previous husband, being replaced. Widows do not wear a special dress,
but are known by the absence of jewelry. Elopements occur. When a
man and woman do not obtain the consent of the proper parties, they
run away into the jungle or a cave, visiting the village frequently,
and getting grain, etc., from sympathisers. The anger aroused by
their disgraceful conduct having subsided, they quietly return to the
village, and live as man and wife. [It is noted, in the Travancore
Census Report, 1901, that, after a marriage is settled, the bridegroom
forcibly takes away the maiden from her mother's house when she goes
out for water or firewood, and lives with her separately for a few
days or weeks in some secluded part of the forest. They then return,
unless in the meantime they are searched for, and brought back by
their relations.] In theory, a man may divorce his wife at will,
but it is scarcely etiquette to do so, except for infidelity, or in
the case of incompatibility of temper. If he wants to get rid of her
for less horrible crimes, he can palm her off on a friend. A woman
cannot divorce her husband at all in theory, but she can make his
life so unbearable that he gladly allows her to palm herself off on
somebody else. Wives who have been divorced marry again freely.

The tribe follow the west coast or marumakkatayam law of inheritance
with a slight difference, the property descending to an elder or
younger sister's son. Property, which seldom consists of more than
a bill-hook, a blanket, and a few cattle, always goes to a nephew,
and is not divided in any way.

The tribe professes to be Hindu, and the chief gods are Panaliandavar
(a corruption of Palaniandi) and Kadavallu, who are supposed to live
in the Madura temple with Minakshiammal and her husband Sokuru. They
are also said to worship Chantiattu Bhagavati and Neriyamangalam
Sasta. Suryan (the sun) is a beneficent deity. The deities which are
considered maleficent are numerous, and all require propitiation. This
is not very taxing, as a respectful attitude when passing their
reputed haunts seems to suffice. They are alluded to as Karapu (black
ones). One in particular is Nyamaru, who lives on Nyamamallai, the
jungles round which were said to be badly haunted. At present they
are flourishing tea estates, so Nyamaru has retired to the scrub
at the top of the mountain. Certain caves are regarded as shrines,
where spear-heads, a trident or two, and copper coins are placed,
partly to mark them as holy places, and partly as offerings to bring
good luck, good health, or good fortune. They occur in the most remote
spots. The only important festival is Thai Pongal, when all who visit
the village, be they who they may, must be fed. It occurs about the
middle of January, and is a time of feasting and rejoicing.

The tribe does not employ priests of other castes to perform religious
ceremonies. Muduvars who are half-witted, or it may be eccentric,
are recognised as Swamyars or priests. If one desires to get rid
of a headache or illness, the Swamyar is told that he will get four
annas or so if the complaint is soon removed, but he is not expected
to perform miracles, or to make any active demonstration over the
matter. Swamyars who spend their time in talking to the sun and moon
as their brethren, and in supplications to mysterious and unknown
beings, are the usual sort, and, if they live a celibate life,
they are greatly esteemed. For those who live principally on milk,
in addition to practicing the other virtue, the greatest reverence
is felt. Such an one occurs only once or twice in a century.

The dead are buried lying down, face upwards, and placed north and
south. The grave has a little thatched roof, about six feet by two,
put over it. A stone, weighing twenty or thirty pounds, is put at the
head, and a similar stone at the feet. These serve to mark the spot
when the roof perishes, or is burnt during the next grass fire. The
depth of the grave is, for a man, judged sufficient if the gravedigger,
standing on the bottom, finds the level of the ground up to his waist,
but, for a woman, it must be up to his armpits. The reason is that
the surviving women do not like to think that they will be very near
the surface, but the men are brave, and know that, if they lie north
and south, nothing can harm them, and no evil approach. The ghosts of
those killed by accident or dying a violent death, haunt the spot till
the memory of the occurrence fades from the minds of the survivors and
of succeeding generations. These ghosts are not propitiated, but the
haunted spots are avoided as much as possible. The Muduvars share with
many other jungle-folk the idea that, if any animal killed by a tiger
or leopard falls so as to lie north and south, it will not be eaten by
the beast of prey. Nor will it be re-visited, so that sitting over a
"kill" which has fallen north and south, in the hopes of getting a
shot at the returning tiger or leopard, is a useless proceeding.

Totemism does not exist, but, in common with other jungle tribes,
the tiger is often alluded to as jackal.

Fire is still often made by means of the flint and steel, though
match-boxes are common enough. Some dry cotton (generally in a dirty
condition) is placed along the flint, the edge of which is struck with
the steel. The spark generated ignites the cotton, and is carefully
nursed into flame in dead and dry grass. The Muduvars also know how
to make fire by friction, but nowadays this is very seldom resorted
to. A rotten log of a particular kind of tree has first to be found,
the inside of which is in an extremely dry and powdery condition,
while the outside is still fairly hard. Some of the top of the topmost
side of the recumbent log having been cut away at a suitable place,
and most of the inside removed, a very hard and pointed bit of wood is
rapidly rotated against the inner shell of the log where the powdery
stuff is likely to ignite, and this soon begins to smoke, the fire
being then nursed much in the same way as with the fire generated by
the flint and steel.

By the men, the languti and leg cloth of the Tamils are worn. A turban
is also worn, and a cumbly or blanket is invariably carried, and put
on when it rains. [It is noted, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901,
that males dress themselves like the Maravans of the low country. A
huge turban is almost an invariable portion of the toilette. The chief
of the Mudavars is known as Vakka, without whose consent the head-dress
is not to be worn.] I have seen a Muduvar with an umbrella. Nowadays,
the discarded coats of planters, and even trousers and tattered
riding-breeches are common, and a Muduvar has been seen wearing a
blazer. The men wear ear-rings, supposed to be, and sometimes in
reality, of gold, with bits of glass of different colours in them,
and also silver or brass finger and toe rings, and sometimes a bangle
on each arm or on one leg. The women go in very largely for beads,
strings of them adorning their necks, white and blue being favourite
colours. Rings for the ears, fingers and toes, and sometimes many glass
bangles on the arms, and an anklet on each leg, are the usual things,
the pattern of the metal jewelry being often the same as seen on the
women of the plains. The cloth, after being brought round the waist,
and tucked in there, is carried over the body, and two corners are
knotted on the right shoulder. Unmarried girls wear less jewelry than
the married women, and widows wear no jewelry till they are remarried,
when they can in no way be distinguished from their sisters. Tattooing
is not practiced. Sometimes a stout thread is worn on the arm, with
a metal cylinder containing some charm against illness or the evil
eye, but only the wise men or elders of the caste lay much store on,
or have knowledge of these things.

The Muduvars believe that they were originally cultivators of the soil,
and their surroundings and tastes have made them become hunters and
trappers, since coming to the hills. At the present day, they cut down
a bit of secondary jungle or cheppukad, and, after burning it off,
sow ragi (millet), or, where the rainfall is sufficient, hill-rice,
which is weeded and tended by the women, the men contenting themselves
by trying to keep out the enemies to their crops. After harvest there
is not much to be done, except building a new village perhaps, making
traps, and shooting. All they catch is game to them, though we should
describe some of the animals as vermin. They catch rats, squirrels,
quail, jungle fowl, porcupines, mouse-deer, and fish. They kill, with
a blowpipe and dart, many small birds. The traps in use are varied,
but there are three principal ones, one of which looks like a big
bow. It is fixed upright in the ground as a spring to close with a
snap a small upright triangle of sharp-edged bamboo, to which it is
connected, and into which any luckless small game may have intruded
its head, induced to do so by finding all other roads closed with
a cunningly made fence. Another is a bent sapling, from which a
loop of twine or fibre hangs on what appears to be the ground,
but is really a little platform on which the jungle fowl treads,
and immediately finds itself caught by both legs, and hanging in
mid-air. The third is very much the same, but of stouter build. The
loop is upright, and set in a hedge constructed for the purpose of
keeping the fretful porcupine in the path, passing along which the
beast unconsciously releases a pin, back flies the sapling, and the
porcupine is hung. If fouled in any way, he generally uses his teeth to
advantage, and escapes. The Muduvars are also adepts at catching 'ibex'
(wild goat), which are driven towards a fence with nooses set in it
at proper points, which cause the beasts to break their necks. Fish
are caught in very beautifully constructed cruives, and also on
the hook, while, on the larger rivers below the plateau, the use of
the night-line is understood. With the gun, sambar, 'ibex,' barking
deer, mungooses, monkeys, squirrels, and martens are killed. Besides
being a good shot, the Muduvar, when using his own powder, takes no
risks. The stalk is continued until game is approached, sometimes
to within a few yards, when a charge of slugs from the antiquated
match-lock has the same effect as the most up-to-date bullet from
the most modern weapon. Mr. Bensley records how, on one occasion,
two English planters went out with two Muduvars after 'bison.' One
of the Muduvars, carrying a rifle, tripped, and the weapon exploded,
killing one of the planters on the spot. The two Muduvars immediately
took to their heels. The other planter covered them with his rifle,
and threatened to shoot them if they did not return, which they at
last did. Mr. Bensley held the magisterial enquiry, and the Muduvars
were amazed at escaping capital punishment.

In their agricultural operations, the Muduvars are very
happy-go-lucky. They have no scare-crows to avert injury to crops or
frighten away demons, but they employ many devices for keeping off
pigs, sambar, and barking deer from their crops, none of which appear
to be efficacious for long. The implement par excellence of the Muduvar
is the bill-hook, from which he never parts company, and with which
he can do almost anything, from building a house to skinning a rat,
or from hammering sheet-lead into bullets to planting maize.

The bulk of the tribe live on ragi or hill-rice, and whatever
vegetables they can grow, and whatever meat they trap or shoot. They
esteem the flesh of the black monkey (Semnopithecus johni) above
everything, and lust after it. I have seen a Muduvar much pulled down
by illness seize an expiring monkey, and suck the blood from its
jugular vein. Muduvars will not eat beef, dog, jackals, or snakes,
but will eat several sorts of lizards, and rats, 'ibex,' and all the
deer tribe, fish, fowl, and other birds, except kites and vultures,
are put into the pot. The plateau Muduvars, and those on the eastern
slopes, will not eat pig in any shape or form. Those on the western
slopes are very keen on wild pig, and this fact causes them to be
somewhat looked down upon by the others. I think this pork-eating
habit is due to the absence of sambar or other deer in the heart of
the forests. Muduvars are fond of alcohol in any shape or form. They
take a liquor from a wild palm which grows on the western slopes, and,
after allowing it to become fermented, drink it freely. Some members of
the tribe, living in the vicinity of these palms, are more or less in
a state of intoxication during the whole time it is in season. Their
name for the drink is tippily-kal, and the palm resembles the kittul
(Caryota urens). The western slope Muduvars are acquainted with opium
from the west coast, and some of them are slaves to the habit. The
Muduvars do not admit that any other caste is good enough to eat,
drink, or smoke with them. They say that, once upon a time, they
permitted these privileges to Vellalans, but this fact induced so
many visitors to arrive that they really could not afford it any more,
so they eat, drink, and smoke with no one now, but will give uncooked
food to passing strangers.

I have never heard any proverb, song, or folk-tale of the Muduvars,
and believe the story of their arrival on the hills to be their
stock tale. They have a story, which is more a statement of belief
than anything else, that, when a certain bamboo below Pallivasal
flowers, a son of the Maharaja of Travancore turns into a tiger or
puli-manisan, and devours people. Men often turn into puli-manisan
owing chiefly to witchcraft on the part of others, and stories of
such happenings are often told. The nearest approach to a proverb I
have heard is Tingakilamei nalla tingalam, which sounds rather tame
and meaningless in English, "On Monday you can eat well"--the play
on the words being quite lost.

The Muduvars make a miniature tom-tom by stretching monkey skin over
a firm frame of split bamboo or ita, on which the maker thereof will
strum by the hour much to his own enjoyment.

In former days, the whole tribe were very shy of strangers, and it is
only within the last thirty years that they have become used to having
dealings with outsiders. Old men still tell of the days when robbers
from the Coimbatore side used to come up, burn the Muduvar villages,
and carry off what cattle or fowls they could find. Even now, there
are some of the men in whom this fear of strangers seems to be innate,
and who have never spoken to Europeans. In the women this feeling is
accentuated, for, when suddenly met with, they make themselves scarce
in the most surprising way, and find cover as instinctively as a quail
chick. There are now and again men in the tribe who aspire to read,
but I do not know how far any of them succeed.

The Muduvars are becoming accustomed to quite wonderful things--the
harnessing of water which generates electricity to work machinery,
the mono-rail tram which now runs through their country, and, most
wonderful of all, the telephone. An old man described how he would
raise envy and wonder in the hearts of his tribe by relating his
experience. "I am the first of my caste to speak and hear over five
miles," said he, with evident delight.

I have alluded to the two different types of countenance; perhaps
there is a third resulting from a mixture of the other two. The first
is distinctly aquiline-nosed and thin-lipped, and to this type the
men generally belong. The second is flat-nosed, wide-nostrilled,
and thick-lipped, and this fairly represents the women, who compare
most unfavourably with the men in face. I have never seen men of the
second type, but of an intermediate type they are not uncommon. On
the Cardamom Hills there may still exist a tribe of dwarfs, of
which very little is known. The late Mr. J. D. Munro had collected
a little information about them. Mr. A. W. Turner had the luck
to come across one, who was caught eating part of a barking deer
raw. Mr. Turner managed to do a little conversation with the man by
signs, and afterwards he related the incident to Srirangam, a good
old Muduvar shikari (sportsman), who listened thoughtfully, and then
asked "Did you not shoot him?" The question put a new complexion on
to the character of the usually peaceful and timid Muduvar.

I know the Muduvars to be capable of real affection. Kanjan was very
proud of his little son, and used to make plans for wounding an ibex,
so that his boy might finish it off, and thus become accustomed
to shooting.

In South Coimbatore, "honey-combs are collected by Irulas, Muduvars,
and Kadirs. The collection is a dangerous occupation. A hill-man,
with a torch in his hand and a number of bamboo tubes suspended
from his shoulders, descends by means of ropes or creepers to the
vicinity of the comb. The sight of the torch drives away the bees,
and he proceeds to fill the bamboos with the comb, and then ascends
to the top of the rock."  [61]

Mugi (dumb).--An exogamous sept of Golla.

Muka.--A sub-division of Konda Razu.

Muka Dora.--Muka is recorded, in the Madras Census Reports, 1891 and
1901, as a sub-division and synonym of Konda Dora, and I am informed
that the Muka Doras, in Vizagapatam, hold a high position, and most of
the chiefs among the Konda Doras are Muka Doras. Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao,
to whom I am indebted to the following note, inclines to the opinion
that the Muka Doras form a caste distinct from the Konda Doras. They
are traditionally regarded as one of the primitive hill tribes, but
their customs at the present day exhibit a great deal of low-country
influence. They speak Telugu, their personal names are pure Telugu,
and their titles are Anna and Ayya as well as Dora. They recognize
one Vantari Dora of Padmapuram as their head.

The Muka Doras are agriculturists and pushing petty traders. They
may be seen travelling about the country with pack bullocks at the
rice harvest season. They irrigate their lands with liquid manure in
a manner similar to the Kunnuvans of the Palni hills in the Madura
country.

They are divided into two sections, viz., Kora-vamsam, which reveres
the sun, and Naga-vamsam, which reveres the cobra, and have further
various exogamous septs or intiperulu, such as vemu or nim tree
(Melia Azadirachta), chikkudi (Dolickos Lablab), velanga (Feronia
elephantum), kakara (Momordica Charantia).

Girls are married either before or after puberty. The menarikam system
is in force, according to which a man should marry his maternal
uncle's daughter. On an auspicious day, some of the elders of the
future bridegroom's family take a cock or goat, a new cloth for the
girl's mother, rice and liquor to the girl's house. The presents are
usually accepted, and the pasupu (turmeric) ceremony, practiced by many
Telugu castes, is performed. On an appointed day, the bridegroom's
party repair to the house of the bride, and bring her in procession
to the house of the bridegroom. Early next morning, the contracting
couple enter a pandal (booth), the two central pillars of which are
made of the neredi (Eugenia Jambolana) and relli (Cassia Fistula)
trees. The maternal uncle, who officiates, links their little fingers
together. Their bodies are anointed with castor-oil mixed with turmeric
powder, and they bathe. New cloths are then given to them by their
fathers-in-law. Some rice is poured over the floor of the house, and
the bride and bridegroom measure this three times. The ends of their
cloths are tied together, and a procession is formed, which proceeds
to the bank of a stream, where the bride fetches tooth-cleaning
sticks three times, and gives them to the bridegroom, who repeats the
process. They then sit down together, and clean their teeth. After
a bath in the stream, the ends of their clothes are once more tied
together, and the procession returns to the bridegroom's house. The
bride cooks some of the rice which has already been measured with water
brought from the stream, and the pair partake thereof. A caste feast,
with much drinking, is held on this and the two following days. The
newly-married couple then proceed, in the company of an old man,
to the bride's house, and remain there from three to five days. If
the girl is adult, she then goes to the home of her husband.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is placed apart in a room, and sits
within a triangular enclosure made by means of three arrows stuck in
the ground, and connected together by three rounds of thread. From
the roof a cradle, containing a stone, is placed. On the last day, a
twig of the neredi tree is plucked, planted on the way to the village
stream, and watered. As she passes the spot, the girl pulls it out of
the ground, and takes it to the stream, into which she throws it. She
then bathes therein.

The dead are, as a rule, burnt, and death pollution is observed for
three days, during which the caste occupation is not carried out. On
the fourth day, a ceremony, called pasupu muttukovadam, or touching
turmeric, is performed. The relations of the deceased repair to the
spot where the corpse was burnt, collect the ashes, and sprinkle
cow-dung, neredi and tamarind water over the spot. Some food is
cooked, and three handfuls are thrown to the crows. They then perform
a ceremonial ablution. The ceremony corresponds to the chinnarozu,
or little day ceremony, of the low-country castes. The more well-to-do
Muka Doras perform the peddarozu, or big day ceremony, on the twelfth
day, or later on. The relations of the deceased then plant a plantain
on the spot where he was burnt, and throw turmeric, castor-oil, and
money according to their means. The coins are collected, and used
for the purchase of materials for a feast.

Mukkara (nose or ear ornament).--An exogamous sept of Boya.

Mukkuvan.--The Mukkuvans are the sea fishermen of the Malabar coast,
who are described as follows by Buchanan. [62] "The Mucua, or in the
plural Mucuar, are a tribe who live near the sea-coast of Malayala,
to the inland parts of which they seldom go, and beyond its limits
any way they rarely venture. Their proper business is that of
fishermen, as palanquin-bearers for persons of low birth, or of no
caste; but they serve also as boatmen. The utmost distance to which
they will venture on a voyage is to Mangalore. In some places they
cultivate the cocoanut. In the southern parts of the province most
of them have become Mussulmans, but continue to follow their usual
occupations. These are held in the utmost contempt by those of the
north, who have given up all communication with the apostates. Those
here do not pretend to be Sudras, and readily acknowledge the
superior dignity of the Tiars. They have hereditary chiefs called
Arayan, who settle disputes, and, with the assistance of a council,
punish by fine or excommunication those who transgress the rules of
the caste. The deity of the caste is the goddess Bhadra-Kali, who is
represented by a log of wood, which is placed in a hut that is called
a temple. Four times a year the Mucuas assemble, sacrifice a cock,
and make offerings of fruit to the log of wood. One of the caste
acts as priest (pujari). They are not admitted to enter within the
precincts of any of the temples of the great gods who are worshipped
by the Brahmans; but they sometimes stand at a distance, and send
their offerings by more pure hands."

It is recorded by Captain Hamilton [63] that he saw "at many Muchwa
Houses, a square Stake of Wood, with a few Notches cut about it,
and that Stake drove into the Ground, about two Foot of it being
left above, and that is covered with Cadjans or Cocoanut Tree Leaves,
and is a Temple and a God to that Family."

In the Gazetteer of Malabar (1908), the following account of the
Mukkuvans is given. "A caste, which according to a probably erroneous
tradition came originally from Ceylon, is that of the Mukkuvans, a
caste of fishermen following marumakkatayam (inheritance through the
female line) in the north, and makkattayam (inheritance from father to
son) in the south. Their traditional occupations also include chunam
(lime) making, and manchal-bearing (a manchal is a kind of hammock
slung on a pole, and carried by four men, two at each end). In the
extreme south of the district they are called Arayans, [64] a term
elsewhere used as a title of their headmen. North of Cannanore there
are some fishermen, known as Mugavars or Mugayans, who are presumably
the same as the Mugayars of South Canara. Another account is that the
Mugayans are properly river-fishers, and the Mukkuvans sea-fishers;
but the distinction does not seem to hold good in fact. The Mukkuvans
rank below the Tiyans and the artisan classes; and it is creditable to
the community that some of its members have recently risen to occupy
such offices as that of Sub-magistrate and Sub-registrar. The caste has
supplied many converts to the ranks of Muhammadanism. In North Malabar
the Mukkuvans are divided into four exogamous illams, called Ponillam
(pon, gold), Chembillam (chembu, copper), Karillam, and Kachillam,
and are hence called Nalillakkar, or people of the four illams; while
the South Malabar Mukkuvans and Arayans have only the three latter
illams, and are therefore called Munillakkar, or people of the three
illams. There is also a section of the caste called Kavuthiyans, who
act as barbers to the others, and are sometimes called Panimagans
(work-children). The Nalillakkar are regarded as superior to the
Munillakkar and the Kavuthiyans, and exact various signs of respect
from them. The Kavuthiyans, like other barber castes, have special
functions to perform in connection with the removal of ceremonial
pollution; and it is interesting to note that sea-water is used in the
ritual sprinklings for this purpose. The old caste organisation seems
to have persisted to the present day among the Mukkuvans to an extent
which can be paralleled amongst few other castes. They have assemblies
(rajiams) of elders called Kadavans, or Kadakkodis, presided over
by presidents called Arayans or Karnavans, who settle questions of
caste etiquette, and also constitute a divorce court. The position
of the Arayans, like that of the Kadavans, is hereditary. It is said
to have been conferred by the different Rajas in their respective
territories, with certain insignia, a painted cadjan (palm leaf)
umbrella, a stick, and a red silk sash. The Arayans are also entitled
to the heads of porpoises captured in their jurisdictions, and to
presents of tobacco and pan supari when a girl attains puberty or
is married. Their consent is necessary to all regular marriages. The
Mukkuvans have their oracles or seers called Ayittans or Attans; and,
when an Arayan dies, these select his successor from his Anandravans,
while under the influence of the divine afflatus, and also choose
from among the younger members of the Kadavan families priests called
Manakkans or Banakkans, to perform puja in their temples.

"Fishing is the hereditary occupation of the Mukkuvans. Their boats,
made of aini (Artocarpus hirsuta) or mango wood, and fitted with a
mat sail, cost from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500, and carry a crew of 5 or
8 men according to size. Their nets are of all shapes and sizes,
ranging from a fine net with a 3/8'' mesh for sardines and such
small fry to a stout valiya sravuvala or shark net with a 6 1/2''
or 7'' mesh; and for a big Badagara boat a complete equipment is
said to cost Rs. 1,000. The nets are generally made of fibre, cotton
thread being used only for nets with the finest mesh. Salt is not
usually carried in the boats, and the fish decompose so rapidly in
the tropical sun that the usual fishing grounds are comparatively
close to the shore; but boats sometimes venture out ten, fifteen,
or even twenty miles. Shoals of the migratory sardine, which are
pursued by predaceous sharks, kora, and cat-fish, yield the richest
harvest of fishes great and small to the Mukkuvan. Huge quantities of
mackerel or aila are also caught, and seir, white and black pomfret,
prawns, whiting, and soles are common. The arrival of the boats is the
great event of the day in a fishing village. Willing hands help to
drag them up the beach, and an eager crowd gathers round each boat,
discussing the catch and haggling over the price. The pile of fish
soon melts away, and a string of coolies, each with a basket of fish
on his head, starts off at a sling trot into the interior, and soon
distributes the catch over a large area. Relays of runners convey fresh
fish from Badagara and Tellicherry even as far as the Wynaad. All that
is left unsold is taken from the boats to the yards to be cured under
the supervision of the Salt Department with Tuticorin salt supplied
at the rate of 10 annas per maund. The fisherman is sometimes also
the curer, but usually the two are distinct, and the former disposes
of the fish to the latter 'on fixed terms to a fixed customer,' and
'looks to him for support during the slack season, the rainy and stormy
south-west monsoon.' The salt fish is conveyed by coasting steamers
to Ceylon, and by the Madras Railway to Coimbatore, Salem, and other
places. Sardines are the most popular fish, and are known as kudumbam
pulartti, or the family blessing. In a good year, 200 sardines can be
had for a single pie. Sun-dried, they form valuable manure for the
coffee planter and the cocoanut grower, and are exported to Ceylon,
the Straits Settlements, and occasionally to China and Japan; and,
boiled with a little water, they yield quantities of fish oil for
export to Europe and Indian ports. Salted shark is esteemed a delicacy,
particularly for a nursing woman. Sharks' fins find a ready sale,
and are exported to China by way of Bombay. The maws or sounds of
kora and cat-fishes are dried, and shipped to China and Europe for
the preparation of isinglass." [65] It will be interesting to watch
the effect of the recently instituted Fishery Bureau in developing
the fishing industry and system of fish-curing in Southern India.

Mukkuvans work side by side with Mappillas both at the fishing grounds
and in the curing yards, and the two classes will eat together. It
is said that, in former times, Mappillas were allowed to contract
alliances with Mukkuva women, and that male children born as a result
thereof on Friday were handed over to the Mappilla community. It is
recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that "conversion to
Islam is common among this caste. The converts are called Puislam
or Putiya Islam [66] (new Islam). All Puislams follow the occupation
of fishing. In the northernmost taluks there is a rule that Mukkuva
females during their periods cannot remain in the house, but must
occupy the house of a Mappilla, which shows that the two castes live
on very close terms." The fishermen at Tanur are for the most part
Puislamites, and will not go out fishing on Fridays.

From a recent note (1908), I gather that the Mukkuvas and Puislams of
Tanur have been prospering of late years and would appear to be going
in for a display of their prosperity by moving about arrayed in showy
shirts, watch-chains, shoes of the kind known as Arabi cherippu,
etc. This sort of ostentation has evidently not been appreciated
by the Moplahs, who, it is said sent round the Mukkuva village,
known as Mukkadi some Cherumas, numbering over sixty, to notify by
beat of kerosene tins that any Mukkuva or Puislam who went into the
Moplah bazaar wearing a shirt or coat or shoes would go in peril of
his life. Some days after this alleged notification, two Mukkuvas
and a Mukkuva woman complained to the Tirur Sub-Magistrate that they
had been waylaid by several Moplahs on the public road in the Tanur
bazaar, and had been severely beaten, the accused also robbing the
woman of some gold ornaments which were on her person. I am informed
that Tanur is the only place where this feeling exists. Puislams and
Mappillas settle down together peacefully enough elsewhere.

There are two titles in vogue among the Mukkuvans, viz., Arayan
and Marakkan. Of these, the former is the title of the headmen and
members of their families, and the latter a title of ordinary members
of the community. The caste deity is said to be Bhadrakali, and the
Mukkuvans have temples of their own, whereat worship is performed by
Yogi Gurukkals, or, it is said, by the Karanavans of certain families
who have been initiated by a Yogi Gurukkal.

At Tellicherry there are two headmen, called Arayanmar belonging to
the Kachillam and Ponillam sections. In addition to the headmen, there
are caste servants called Manakkan. It is stated, in the Manual of the
South Canara district, that "there is an hereditary headman of the
caste called the Ayathen, who settles disputes. For trifling faults
the ordinary punishment is to direct the culprit to supply so much
oil for lights to be burnt before the caste demon." The Velichapads,
or oracles who become possessed by the spirit of the deity among the
Mukkuvans, are called Ayathen, which is probably an abbreviation of
Ayuthathan, meaning a sword or weapon-bearer, as the oracle, when
under the influence of the deity, carries a sword or knife.

As among other Malayalam castes, Mukkuva girls must go through
a ceremony before they attain puberty. This is called pandal
kizhikkal, and corresponds to the tali-kettu kalyanam of the other
castes. The consent of the Arayan is necessary for the performance
of this ceremony. On the night previous thereto, the girl is smeared
with turmeric paste and oil. Early on the following morning, she
is brought to the pandal (booth), which is erected in front of the
house, and supported by four bamboo posts. She is bathed by having
water poured over her by girls of septs other than her own. After the
bath, she stands at the entrance to the house, and a Kavuthiyachi
(barber woman) sprinkles sea-water over her with a tuft of grass
(Cynodon Dactylon). A cloth is thrown over her, and she is led into
the house. The barber woman receives as her fee a cocoanut, some rice,
and condiments. A tali (marriage badge) is tied on the girl's neck by
her prospective husband's sister if a husband has been selected for
her, or by a woman of a sept other than her own. The girl must fast
until the conclusion of the ceremony, and should remain indoors for
seven days afterwards. At the time of ceremony, she receives presents
of money at the rate of two vellis per family. The Arayan receives
two vellis, a bundle of betel leaves, areca nuts, and tobacco.

Girls are married after puberty according to one of two forms of rite,
called kodi-udukkal (tying the cloth) and vittil-kudal. The former
is resorted to by the more prosperous members of the community, and
lasts over two days. On the first day, the bridegroom goes to the home
of the bride, accompanied by his relations and friends, and sweets,
betel leaves and areca nuts, etc., are given to them. They then
take their departure, and return later in the day, accompanied by
musicians, in procession. At the entrance to the bride's house they
stand while someone calls out the names of the eleven Arayans of the
caste, who, if they are present, come forward without a body-cloth
or coat. Betel leaves and areca nuts are presented to the Arayans or
their representatives, and afterwards to the Rajyakkar, or chief men
of the village. The bridegroom then goes inside, conducted by two men
belonging to the septs of the contracting parties, to the bride's
room. The bridegroom sits down to a meal with nine or eleven young
men in a line, or in the same room. On the second day, the bride is
brought to the pandal. Two persons are selected as representatives
of the bridegroom and bride, and the representative of the former
gives thirty-nine vellis to the representative of the latter. Some
sweetened water is given to the bridegroom's relations. A woman
who has been married according to the kodi-udukkal rite ties a
new cloth round the waist of the bride, after asking her if she is
willing to marry the bridegroom, and obtaining the consent of those
assembled. Sometimes a necklace, composed of twenty-one gold coins,
is also tied on the bride's neck. At night, the bridal couple take
their departure for the home of the bridegroom. In South Canara,
the ceremonial is spread over three days, and varies from the above
in some points of detail. The bridegroom goes in procession to the
bride's house, accompanied by a Sangayi or Munan (best or third man)
belonging to a sept other than that of the bridal couple. The bride
is seated in a room, with a lamp and a tray containing betel leaves,
areca nuts, and flowers. The Sangayi takes a female cloth in which
some money is tied, and throws it on a rope within the room. On the
third day, the bride puts on this cloth, and, seated within the pandal,
receives presents.

The vittil-kudal marriage rite is completed in a single day. The
bridegroom comes to the home of the bride, and goes into her room,
conducted thither by two men belonging to the septs of the contracting
couple. The newly-married couple may not leave the bride's house
until the seventh day after the marriage ceremony, and the wife is
not obliged to live at her husband's house.

There is yet another form of alliance called vechchirukkal, which is
an informal union with the consent of the parents and the Arayans. It
is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that "amongst Mukkuvas the
vidaram marriage obtains, but for this no ceremony is performed. The
vidaram wife is not taken to her husbands house, and her family
pay no stridhanam. A vidaram marriage can at any time be completed,
as it were, by the performance of the kalyanam ceremonies. Even if
this be not done, however, a child by a vidaram wife has a claim to
inherit to his father in South Malabar, if the latter recognises him
by paying to the mother directly after her delivery a fee of three
fanams called mukkapanam. A curious custom is that which prescribes
that, if a girl be married after attaining puberty, she must remain
for a period in the status of a vidaram wife, which may subsequently
be raised by the performance of the regular kalyanam."

Divorce is easily effected by payment of a fine, the money being
divided between the husband or wife as the case may be, the temple,
the Arayans, and charity.

A pregnant woman has to go through a ceremony called puli or ney-kudi
in the fifth or seventh month. A ripe cocoanut, which has lost its
water, is selected, and heated over a fire. Oil is then expressed
from it, and five or seven women smear the tongue and abdomen of the
pregnant woman with it. A barber woman is present throughout the
ceremony. The husband lets his hair grow until his wife has been
delivered, and is shaved on the third day after the birth of the
child. At the place where he sits for the operation, a cocoanut,
betel leaves and areca nuts are placed. The cocoanut is broken in
pieces by some one belonging to the same sept as the father of the
child. Pollution is got rid of on this day by a barber woman sprinkling
water at the houses of the Mukkuvans. A barber should also sprinkle
water at the temple on the same day.

The dead are, as a rule, buried. Soon after death has taken place, the
widow of the deceased purchases twenty-eight cubits of white cloth. A
gold ring is put into the hand of the corpse, and given to the widow
or her relations, to be returned to the relations of the dead man. The
corpse is bathed in fresh water, decorated, and placed on a bier. The
widow then approaches, and, with a cloth over her head, cuts her tali
off, and places it by the side of the corpse. Sometimes the tali is
cut off by a barber woman, if the widow has been married according to
the kodi-udukkal rite. In some places, the bier is kept in the custody
of the barber, who brings it whenever it is required. In this case,
the articles requisite for decorating the corpse, e.g., sandal paste
and flowers, are brought by the barber, and given to the son of the
deceased. Some four or five women belonging to the Kadavar families are
engaged for mourning. The corpse is carried to the burial-ground, where
a barber tears a piece of cloth from the winding-sheet, and gives it
to the son. The bearers anoint themselves, bathe in the sea, and, with
wet cloths, go three times round the corpse, and put a bit of gold,
flowers, and rice, in its nose. The relations then pour water over the
corpse, which is lowered into the grave. Once more the bearers, and
the son, bathe in the sea, and go three times round the grave. The
son carries a pot of water, and, at the end of the third round,
throws it down, so that it is broken. On their return home, the son
and bearers are met by a barber woman, who sprinkles them with rice
and water. Death pollution is observed for seven days, during which
the son abstains from salt and tamarind. A barber woman sprinkles
water over those under pollution. On the eighth, or sometimes the
fourteenth day, the final death ceremony is performed. Nine or eleven
boys bathe in the sea, and offer food near it. They then come to the
house of the deceased, and, with lamps on their heads, go round seven
or nine small heaps of raw rice or paddy (unhusked rice), and place
the lamps on the heaps. The eldest son is expected to abstain from
shaving his head for six months or a year. At the end of this time,
he is shaved on an auspicious day. The hair, plantains, and rice,
are placed in a small new pot, which is thrown into the sea. After
a bath, rice is spread on the floor of the house so as to resemble
the figure of a man, over which a green cloth is thrown. At one end
of the figure, a light in a measure is placed. Seven or nine heaps
of rice or paddy are made, on which lights are put, and the son goes
three times round, throwing rice at the north, south, east, and west
corners. This brings the ceremonial to a close.

Mulaka (Solanum xanthocarpum).--A sept of Balija. The fruit of this
plant is tied to the big toe of Brahman corpses.

Muli.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a class of
blacksmiths in Ganjam, and stone-cutters in Vizagapatam. It is said
to be a sub-division of Lohara. Muli also occurs as an occupational
sub-division of Savara.

Muli Kurava.--A name for Kuravas in Travancore.

Mullangi(radish).--An exogamous sept of Komati.

Mullu (thorn).--A gotra of Kurni. Mullu also occurs as a sub-division
of Kurumba.

Multani.--A territorial name, meaning a native of Multan in the
Punjab. They are described, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as
immigrant traders, found in the large towns, whose business consists
chiefly of banking and money-lending.

Mundala,--A sub-division of Holeya.

Mundapotho.--Mundapotho (mundo, head; potho, bury) is the name of a
class of mendicants who wander about Ganjam, and frequent the streets
of Jagannath (Puri). They try to arouse the sympathy of pilgrims by
burying their head in the sand or dust, and exposing the rest of the
body. They generally speak Telugu.

Mungaru (woman's skirt).--An exogamous sept of Kapu.

Muni.--See Ravulo.

Munillakkar (people of the three illams).--A section of Mukkuvans,
which is divided into three illams.

Munnuti Gumpu.--Recorded, in the Kurnool Manual, as "a mixed caste,
comprising the illegitimate descendants of Balijas, and the male
children of dancing-girls." It is not a caste name, but an insulting
name for those of mixed origin.

Munnuttan (men of the three hundred).--Recorded, at times of census,
as a synonym of Velan, and sub-caste of Panan, among the latter of
whom Anjuttan (men of five hundred) also occurs. In the Gazetteer of
Malabar, Munnuttan appears as a class of Mannans, who are closely akin
to the Velans. In Travancore, Munnutilkar is a name for Kumbakonam
Vellalas, who have settled there.

Muppan.--Muppan has been defined as "an elder, the headman of a class
or business, one who presides over ploughmen and shepherds, etc. The
word literally means an elder: mukkiradu, to grow old, and muppu,
seniority." At recent times of census, Muppan has been returned as
a title by many classes, which include Alavan, Ambalakaran, Kudumi,
Pallan, Paraiyan and Tandan in Travancore, Senaikkudaiyan, Saliyan,
Shanan, Sudarman and Valaiyan. It has further been returned as a
division of Konkana Sudras in Travancore.

During my wanderings in the Malabar Wynad, I came across a gang
of coolies, working on a planter's estate, who called themselves
Muppans. They were interesting owing to the frequent occurrence among
them of a very simple type of finger-print impression (arches).

Muppil (chief).--A sub-division of Nayar.

Murikinadu.--Murikinadu or Murikinati is a territorial name, which
occurs as a division of Telugu Brahmans, and of various Telugu classes,
e.g., Kamsala, Mala, Mangala, Razu, and Tsakala.

Muriya.--A small class in Ganjam, who are engaged in making a
preparation of fried rice (muri) and in cultivation.

Muru Balayanoru (three-bangle people).--A sub-division of Kappiliyan.

Musaliar.--An occupational term, denoting a Muhammadan priest,
returned at times of census in the Tamil country.

Musari.--A division of Malayalam Kammalans, whose occupation is that
of brass and copper smiths. The equivalent Musarlu occurs among the
Telugu Kamsalas.

Mushika (rat).--A gotra of Nagaralu. The rat is the vehicle of the
Elephant God, Vignesvara or Ganesa.

Mushtiga.--An exogamous sept of the Gollas, who may not use the
mushtiga tree (Strychnos Nux-vomica). It also occurs as a synonym
of Jetti.

Mushti Golla.--A class of mendicants, usually of mixed
extraction. Mushti means alms.

Mussad.--For the following note on the Mussads or Muttatus of
Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. They are known
as Muttatus or Mussatus in Travancore and Cochin, and Potuvals (or
Poduvals) or Akapotuvals in North Malabar. The word Muttatu means
elder, and is generally taken to indicate a community, which is higher
than the Ambalavasi castes, as Ilayatu (or Elayad), or younger, denotes
a sub-caste slightly lower than the Brahmans. In early records, the
word Mupputayor, which has an identical meaning, is met with. Potuval
means a common person, i.e., the representative of a committee, and
a Muttatu's right to this name is from the fact that, in the absence
of the Nambutiri managers of a temple, he becomes their agent, and
is invested with authority to exercise all their functions. The work
of an Akapotuval always lies within the inner wall of the shrine,
while that of the Purapotuval or Potuval proper lies outside. The
castemen themselves prefer the name Sivadvija or Saivite Brahman. A
few families possess special titles, such as Nambi and Nambiyar. Their
women are generally known as Manayammamar, mana meaning the house of
a Brahman. There are no divisions or septs among the Muttatus.

The origin of the Muttatus, and their place in Malabar society,
are questions on which a good deal of discussion has been of late
expended. In the Jatinirnaya, an old Sanskrit work on the castes of
Kerala attributed to Sankaracharya, it is said that the four kinds
of Ambalavasis, Tantri, Bharatabhattaraka, Agrima, and Slaghyavakku,
are Brahmans degraded in the Krita, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali ages,
respectively, and that those who were so degraded in the Dvapara
Yuga--the Agrimas or Muttatus--and whose occupation is to cleanse the
stone steps of shrines--are found in large numbers in Kerala. According
to Kerala Mahatmya, another Sanskrit work on Malabar history and
customs, these Muttatus are also known as Sivadvijas, or Brahmans
dedicated to the worship of Siva, occupying a lower position in
Malabar society than that of the Brahmans. One of them, disguised
as a Nambutiri, married a Nambutiri's daughter, but his real status
became known before the marriage was consummated, and the pair were
degraded, and allotted a separate place in society. This tradition is
not necessary to account for the present position of the Muttatus in
Kerala, as, all over India, worship of fixed images was viewed with
disfavour even in the days of Manu. Worship in Saivite temples was
not sought by Brahmans, and was even considered as despiritualising
on account of the divine displeasure which may be expected as the
result of misfeasance. It was for a similar reason that the Nambiyans
of even Vaishnavite temples on the east coast became degraded in
society. The Illayatus and Muttatus have been long known in Malabar
as Nyunas or castes slightly lower than the Brahmans, and Avantaras
or castes intermediate between Brahmans and Ambalavasis. As, in
subsequent days, the Brahmans themselves undertook with impunity the
priestly profession in Hindu temples, Saivite as well as Vaishnavite,
the Muttatus had to be content with a more lowly occupation, viz.,
that of guarding the temples and images. According to Suchindra
Mahatmyam, eleven Brahmans were ordered by Parasu Rama to partake
of the remnants of the food offered to Siva, and to bear the Saivite
image in procession round the shrine on occasions of festivals; and,
according to the Vaikam Sthalapuranam, three families of Sivadvijas
were brought over by the same sage from eastern districts for service
at that temple. Whatever may be said in regard to the antiquity or
authenticity of many of these Sthalapuranams, corroborative evidence
of the Brahmanical origin of the Muttatus may be amply found in
their manners and customs. A fresh colony of Sivadvijas is believed
to have been invited to settle at Tiruvanchikkulam in Cranganore from
Chidambaram by one of the Perumals of Kerala, in connection with the
establishment of Saivite temples there. They have preserved their
original occupation faithfully enough down to the present day.

The houses of Muttatus are known as illams and mattams, the former
being the name of all Nambutiri houses. They are generally built beside
some well-known shrine, with which the inmates are professionally
connected. The dress of both men and women resembles that of the
Nambutiri Brahmans, the injunction to cover the whole of the body when
they go out of doors being applicable also to the Manayammamar. Girls
before marriage wear a ring and kuzal on the neck, and, on festive
occasions, a palakka ring. The chuttu in the ears, and pozhutu tali
on the neck are worn only after marriage, the latter being the symbol
which distinguishes married women from widows and maidens. Widows
are prohibited from wearing any ornament except the chuttu. In food
and drink the Muttatus are quite like the Nambutiris.

The Muttatus are the custodians of the images, which they take
in procession, and wash the stone steps leading to the inner
sanctuary. They live by the naivedya or cooked food offering which
they receive from the temple, and various other emoluments. It may be
noted that one of the causes of their degradation was the partaking
of this food, which Brahmans took care not to do. The Muttatus are
generally well-read in Sanskrit, and study astrology, medicine, and
sorcery. The social government of the Muttatus rests wholly with the
Nambutiris, who enforce the smartavicharam or enquiry into a suspected
case of adultery, as in the case of a Nambutiri woman. When Nambutiri
priests are not available, Muttatus, if learned in the Vedas, may be
employed, but punyaham, or purification after pollution, can only be
done by a Nambutiri.

Like the Nambutiris, the Muttatus strictly observe the rule that only
the eldest male member in a family can marry. The rest form casual
connections with women of most of the Ambalavasi classes. They are,
like the Brahmans, divided into exogamous septs or gotras. A girl is
married before or after puberty. Polygamy is not uncommon, though the
number of wives is never more than four. Widows do not remarry. In
their marriage ceremonies, the Muttatus resemble the Nambutiris,
with some minor points of difference. They follow two sutras, those
of Asvalayana and Baudhayana, the former being members of the Rig Veda
and the latter of the Yajur Veda. The former omit a number of details,
such as the panchamehani and dasamehani, which are observed by the
latter. According to a territorial distinction, Mussad girls of North
Malabar cannot become the daughters-in-law of South Malabar families,
but girls of South Malabar can become the daughters-in-law of North
Malabar families.

The Muttatus observe all the religious rites of the Nambutiris. The
rule is that the eldest son should be named after the paternal
grandfather, the second after the maternal grandfather, and the third
after that of the father. The upanayana ceremony is celebrated between
the ages of seven and eleven, and the Gayatri hymn may only be repeated
ten times thrice daily. In the funeral rites, the help of the Maran
called Chitikan (a corruption of Chaitika, meaning one who is connected
with the funeral pyre) is sought. Pollution lasts only ten days.

The Muttatus stand above all sections of the Ambalavasi group,
and below every recognised section of the Brahman and Kshatriya
communities, with whom they do not hold commensal relations in
any part of Kerala. They are thus on a par with the Illayatus,
but the latter have their own hierarchy, and lead a social life
almost independent of the Brahmans. The Muttatus seek their help
and advice in all important matters. The Muttatus are, however,
privileged to take their food within the nalampalam (temple courts),
and the leaf-plates are afterwards removed by temple servants. The
Ambalavasis do not possess a right of this kind. At Suchindram, the
Nambutiri by whom the chief image is served is not privileged to give
prasada (remains of offerings) to any worshipper, this privilege being
confined to the Muttatus engaged to serve the minor deities of the
shrine. The washing of the stone steps leading to the inner sanctuary,
the mandapa, kitchen, feeding rooms, and bali stones, both inside
and outside the shrine, are done by Muttatus at temples with which
they are connected. All Ambalavasis freely receive food from Muttatus.

It is further noted, in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that "there
is a pithy saying in Malayalam, according to which the Muthads are
to be regarded as the highest of Ambalavasis, and the Elayads as the
lowest of Brahmans. Considerable difference of opinion exists as to
the exact social status of Muthads. For, while some hold that they
are to be regarded as degraded Brahmans, others maintain that they
are only the highest class of Ambalavasis. In the opinion, however,
of the most learned Vydikan who was consulted on the subject, the
Muthads are to be classed as degraded Brahmans. They are supposed
to have suffered social degradation by their having tattooed their
bodies with figures representing the weapons of the god Siva, and
partaking of the offerings made to that god."

A correspondent, who has made enquiry into caste questions in Malabar,
writes to me as follows. There are several ways of spelling the name,
e.g., Mussu, Mussad, and Muttatu. Some people tried to discriminate
between these, but I could not work out any distinctions. In practice,
I think, all the classes noted below are called by either name
indifferently, and most commonly Mussad. There are several classes,
viz.:--



(1) BRAHMAN OR QUASI-BRAHMAN.

(a) Ashtavaidyanmar, or eight physicians, are eight families
of hereditary physicians. They are called Jatimatrakaras (barely
caste people), and it is supposed that they are Nambudiris slightly
degraded by the necessity they may, as surgeons, be under of shedding
blood. Most of them are called Mussad, but one at least is called
Nambi.

(b) Urili Parisha Mussad, or assembly in the village Mussad, who are
said to be degraded because they accepted gifts of land from Parasu
Rama, and agreed to take on themselves the sin he had contracted
by slaying the Kshetriyas. This class, as a whole, is called Sapta
or Saptagrastan.



(2) AMBALAVASI.

(c) Mussad or Muttatu.--They appear to be identical with the
Agapothuvals, or inside Pothuvals, as distinguished from the Pura,
or outside Pothuvals, in North Malabar. They are said to be the
descendants of a Sivadvija man and pure Brahman girl. According
to another account, they lost caste because they ate rice offered
to Siva, which is prohibited by one of the anacharams, or rules of
conduct peculiar to Kerala. They perform various duties in temples,
and escort the idol when it is carried in procession on an arrangement
called tadambu, which is like an inverted shield with a shelf across
it, on which the idol is placed. They wear the punul, or sacred thread.

(d) Karuga Mussad.--So called from the karuga grass (Cynodon Dactylon),
which is used in ceremonies. Their exact position is disputed. They
wear the sacred thread (cf. Karuga Nambudiris in North Malabar),
who cook rice for the sradh (memorial ceremony) of Sudras,

(e) Tiruvalayanath or Kovil (temple) Mussad.--They also wear the
sacred thread, but perform puja in Bhadrakali temples, incidents of
which are the shedding of blood and use of liquor. They seem to be
almost identical with the caste called elsewhere Adigal or Pidaran,
but, I think, Adigals are a little higher, and do not touch liquor,
while Pidarans are divided into two classes, the lower of which does
not wear the thread or perform the actual puja, but only attends to
various matters subsidiary thereto.

In an account of the annual ceremony at the Pishari temple near
Quilandy in Malabar in honour of Bhagavati, Mr. F. Fawcett informs
[67] that the Mussad priests repeat mantrams (prayers) over the goats
for an hour as a preliminary to the sacrifice. Then the chief priest,
with a chopper-like sword, decapitates the goats, and sacrifices
several cocks. The Mussads cook some of the flesh of the goats, and
one or two of the cocks with rice. This rice, when cooked, is taken
to the kavu (grove) to the north of the temple, and there the Mussads
again ply their mantrams.

Musu Kamma.--The name of a special ear ornament worn by the Musu
Kamma sub-division of Balijas. In the Salem District Manual, Musuku
is recorded as a sub-division of this caste.

Mutalpattukar.--A synonym of Tandan in Travancore, indicating those
who received an allowance for the assistance they were called on to
render to carpenters.

Mutracha.--Mutracha appears, in published records, in a variety of
forms, such as Muttaracha, Muttirajulu, Muttarasan, and Mutratcha. The
caste is known by one of these names in the Telugu country, and in
the Tamil country as Muttiriyan or Palaiyakkaran.

Concerning the Mutrachas, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows. [68]
"This is a Telugu caste most numerous in the Kistna, Nellore,
Cuddapah, and North Arcot districts. The Mutrachas were employed by
the Vijayanagar kings to defend the frontiers of their dominions,
and were honoured with the title of paligars (cf. Palaiyakkaran). The
word Mutracha is derived from the Dravidian roots mudi, old, and racha,
a king; but another derivation is from Mutu Raja, a sovereign of some
part of the Telugu country. They eat flesh, and drink liquor. Their
titles are Dora and Naidu." Mr. Stuart writes further [69] that in
the North Arcot district they are "most numerous in the Chendragiri
taluk, but found all over the district in the person of the village
taliari or watchman, for which reason it is often called the taliari
caste. They proudly call themselves paligars, and in Chendragiri doralu
or lords, because several of the Chittoor palaiyams (villages governed
by paligars) were in possession of members of their caste. They seem
to have entered the country in the time of the Vijayanagar kings,
and to have been appointed as its kavilgars (watchmen). The caste
is usually esteemed by others as a low one. Most of its members
are poor, even when they have left the profession of taliari, and
taken to agriculture. They eat in the houses of most other castes,
and are not trammelled by many restrictions. In Chendragiri they
rarely marry, but form connections with women of their caste, which
are often permanent, though not sanctioned by the marriage ceremony,
and the offspring of such associations are regarded as legitimate."

In the Nellore Manual, the Mutrachas are summed up as being hunters,
fishermen, bearers, palanquin-bearers, and hereditary watchmen in the
villages. At times of census, Mutracha or Mutarasan has been recorded
as a sub-division of Urali, and a title of Ambalakkaran. Muttiriyan,
which is simply a Tamil form of Mutracha, appears as a title and
sub-division of Ambalakkaran (q.v.). Further, Tolagari is recorded
as a sub-division of Mutracha. The Tolagaris are stated [70] to
be a small cultivating caste, who were formerly hunters, like the
Palayakkarans. Most of the Mutrachas are engaged in agriculture. At
Paniyam, in the Kurnool district, I found some employed in collecting
winged white-ants (Termites), which they sun-dry, and store in large
pots as an article of food. They are said to make use of some special
powder as a means of attracting the insects, in catching which they
are very expert.

In some places, the relations between the Mutrachas and Gollas, both
of which castes belong to the left-hand section, are strained. On
occasions of marriage among the Madigas, some pan-supari (betel leaves
and areca nuts), is set apart for the Mutrachas, as a mark of respect.

In consequence of the fact that some Mutrachas have been petty
chieftains, they claim to be Kshatriyas, and to be descended from
Yayathi of the Mahabaratha. According to the legend, Devayana, the
daughter of Sukracharya, the priest of the Daityas (demons and giants),
went to a well with Charmanishta, the daughter of the Daitya king. A
quarrel arose between them, and Charmanishta pushed Devayana into a
dry well, from which she was rescued by king Yayathi. Sukracharya
complained to the Daitya king, who made his daughter become a
servant to Yayathi's wife, Devayana. By her marriage Devayana bore
two sons. Subsequently, Yayathi became enamoured of Charmanishta, by
whom he had an illegitimate son. Hearing of this, Sukracharya cursed
Yayathi that he should be subject to old age and infirmity. This curse
he asked his children to take on themselves, but all refused except
his illegitimate child Puru. He accordingly cursed his legitimate sons,
that they should only rule over barren land overrun by Kiratas. One of
them, Durvasa by name, had seven children, who were specially favoured
by the goddess Ankamma. After a time, however, they were persuaded
to worship Maheswara or Virabhadra instead of Ankamma. This made
the goddess angry, and she caused all flower gardens to disappear,
except her own. Flowers being necessary for the purpose of worship,
the perverts stole them from Ankamma's garden, and were caught in the
act by the goddess. As a punishment for their sin, they had to lose
their lives by killing themselves on a stake. One of the seven sons had
a child named Ravideviraju, which was thrown into a well as soon as it
was born. The Naga Kannikas of the nether regions rescued the infant,
and tended it with care. One day, while Ankamma was traversing the
Naga lokam (country), she heard a child crying, and sent her vehicle, a
jackal (nakka), to bring the child, which, however, would not allow the
animal to take it The goddess accordingly herself carried it off. The
child grew up under her care, and eventually had three sons, named
Karnam Raju, Gangi Raju, and Bhupathi Raju, from whom the Mutrachas
are descended. In return for the goddess protecting and bringing up
the child, she is regarded as the special tutelary deity of the caste.

There is a saying current among the Mutrachas that the Mutracha
caste is as good as a pearl, but became degraded as its members
began to catch fish. According to a legend, the Mutrachas, being
Kshatriyas, wore the sacred thread. Some of them, on their way home
after a hunting expedition, halted by a pond, and were tempted by the
enormous number of fish therein to fish for them, using their sacred
threads as lines. They were seen by some Brahmans while thus engaged,
and their degradation followed.

In the Telugu country, two divisions, called Paligiri and Oruganti,
are recognised by the Mutrachas, who further have exogamous septs or
intiperulu, of which the following are examples:--


    Avula, cow.
    Arigala, a dish carried in processions.
    Busi, dirt.
    Ella, boundary.
    Guvvala, doves.
    Indla, house.
    Iga, fly.
    Koppula, hair-knot.
    Katari, dagger.
    Marri, Ficus bengalensis.
    Nakka, jackal.
    Puli, tiger.
    Talari, watchman.
    Tota, garden.
    Uyyala, a swing.
    Thumu, iron measure for measuring grain.


During the first menstrual seclusion of a girl, she may not have
her meals served on a metal plate, but uses an earthen cup, which is
eventually thrown away. When she reaches puberty, a girl does up her
hair in a knot called koppu.

In the case of confinement, pollution ends on the tenth day. But,
if a woman loses her infant, especially a first-born, the pollution
period is shortened, and, at every subsequent time of delivery, the
woman bathes on the seventh or ninth day. Every woman who visits her on
the bathing day brings a pot of warm water, and pours it over her head.

Muttal (substitute).--A sub-division of Maran.

Muttan.--In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Muttans are summed
up as "a trading caste in Malabar. The better educated members of it
have begun to claim a higher social status than that usually accorded
them. Formerly they claimed to be Nayars, but recently they have
gone further, and, in the census schedules, some of them returned
themselves as Vaisyas, and added the Vaisya title Gupta to their
names. They do not, however, wear the sacred thread, or perform any
Vedic rites, and Nayars consider themselves polluted by their touch."

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, under the conjoint
heading Muttan and Tarakan, that "these two are allied castes, but
the latter would consider it a disgrace to acknowledge any affinity
with the former. Tarakan literally means a broker. Dr. Gundert says
that these were originally warehouse-keepers at Palghat. Muttan is
probably from Muttavan, an elder, Tarakans have returned Muttan as
a sub-division, and vice versâ, and both appear as sub-divisions of
Nayar. We have in our schedules instances of persons who have returned
their caste as Tarakan, but with their names Krishna Muttan (male)
and Lakshmi Chettichiar (female). A Muttan may, in course of time,
become a Tarakan, and then a Nayar. Both these castes follow closely
the customs and manners of Nayars, but there are some differences. I
have not, however, been able to get at the real state of affairs, as
the members of the caste are very reticent on the subject, and simply
assert that they are in all respects the same as Nayars. One difference
is that a Brahmani does not sing at their tali-kettu marriages. Again,
instead of having a Marayan, Attikurissi, or Elayad as their priest,
they employ a man of their own caste, called Choratton. This man
assists at their funeral ceremonies, and purifies them at the end
of pollution, just as the Attikurissi does for Nayars. Kali temples
seem to be specially affected by this caste, and these Chorattons
are also priests in these temples. The Muttan and Tarakan castes are
practically confined to Palghat and Walluvanad taluks."

In a note on some castes in Malabar which are most likely of
foreign origin, it is stated, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that
"this is certainly true of the Muttans, who are found only in the
Palghat taluk and in the parts of Walavanad bordering on it, a part
of the country where there is a large admixture of Tamils in the
population. They are now advancing a claim to be Vaisyas, and some
of them have adopted the title Gupta which is proper to that caste,
while a few have the title Ezhutacchan. Some Muttans in Palghat are
called Mannadiars, a title also apparently borne by some Taragans. The
Muttans follow makkattayam (inheritance from father to son), and do
not enter into the loose connections known as sambandhams; their women
are called Chettichiars, clearly indicating their eastern origin;
and their period of pollution is ten days, according to which test
they would rank as a high caste. On the other hand, they may eat meat
and drink liquor. Their purificatory ceremonies are performed by a
class known as Chorttavans (literally, sprinklers), who are said to
be identical with Kulangara Nayars, and not by Attikurrissi Nayars
as in the case with Nambudris, Ambalavasis, and Nayars. There is
considerable antagonism between the Palghat and Walavanad sections of
the caste. Another caste of traders, which has now been practically
incorporated in the Nayar body, is the class known as Taragans
(literally, brokers) found in Palghat and Walavanad, some of whom
have considerable wealth and high social position. The Taragans of
Angadippuram and the surrounding neighbourhood claim to be immigrants
from Travancore, and to be descendants of Ettuvittil Pillamar of
Quilon, who are high caste Nayars. They can marry Kiriyattil women,
and their women occasionally have sambandham with Samantan Rajas. The
Palghat Taragans on the other hand can marry only in their caste."

Muttasari.--Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a
name by which Kammalans are addressed.

Muttiriyan.--See Mutracha.

Mutyala (pearl).--An exogamous sept, and name of a sub-division of
Balijas who deal in pearls. The Ambalakarans say that they were born
of the sweat (muttu, a pearl or bead of perspiration) of Paramasiva.

Muvvari.--Recorded [71] as "a North Malabar caste of domestic servants
under the Embrantiri Brahmans. Their customs resemble those of the
Nayars, but the Elayads and the Marayans will not serve them."

Myasa.--Myasa, meaning grass-land or forest, is one of the two main
divisions, Uru (village) and Myasa, of the Bedars and Boyas. Among the
Myasa Bedars, the rite of circumcision is practiced, and is said to
be the survival of a custom which originated when they were included
in the army of Haidar Ali



N


Nadan.--Nadan, meaning ruler of a country or village, or one who
lives in the country, is a title of the Shanans, who, further, call
themselves Nadans in preference to Shanans.

Nadava.--" This, "Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, [72] "is a caste of Canarese
farmers found only in South Canara. The Nadavas have returned four
sub-divisions, one of which is Bant, and two of the other three
are sub-divisions of Bants, the most important being Masadi. In the
case of 33,212 individuals, Nadava has been returned as sub-division
also. I have no information regarding the caste, but they seem to
be closely allied to the Bant caste, of which Nadava is one of the
sub-divisions." The name Nadava or Nadavaru means people of the nadu
or country. It is one of the sub-divisions of the Bants.

Naga (cobra: Naia tripudians).--Nag, Naga, Nagasa, or Nageswara,
occurs in the name of a sept or gotra of various classes in Ganjam
and Vizagapatam, e.g., Aiyarakulu, Bhondari, Bhumia, Bottada, Domb,
Gadaba, Konda Dora, Medara, Muka Dora, Nagaralu, Omanaito, Poroja,
Rona, and Samantiya. Members of the Nagabonso sept of Odiya claim
to be descendants of Nagamuni, the serpent rishi. Naga is further a
gotra or sept of Kurnis and Toreyas, of whom the latter, at their
weddings, worship at 'ant' (Termites) hills, which are often the
home of cobras. It is also a sub-division of Gazula Kapus and Koppala
Velamas. Nagavadam (cobra's hood) is the name of a sub-division of the
Pallis, who wear an ornament, called nagavadam, shaped like a cobra's
head, in the dilated lobes of the ears. Among the Viramushtis there
is a sept named Naga Mallika (Rhinacanthus communis), the roots of
which shrub are believed to be an antidote to the bite of poisonous
snakes. The flowers of Couroupita guianensis, which has been introduced
as a garden tree in Southern India, are known as naga linga pu, from
the staminal portion of the flower which curves over the ovary being
likened to a cobra's hood, and the ovary to a lingam.

Nagali (plough).--An exogamous sept of Kapu.

Nagalika (of the plough).--A name for Lingayats engaged in cultivation.

Nagaralu.--The Nagaralu are a cultivating caste in Vizagapatam,
concerning whom it is recorded [73] that "Nagaralu means the dwellers
in a nagaram or city, and apparently this caste was originally a
section of the Kapus, which took to town life, and separated itself
off from the parent stock. They say their original occupation was
medicine, and a number of them are still physicians and druggists,
though the greater part are agriculturists."

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana
Rao. Viziaram Raz, the friend of Bussy, conferred mokhasas (grants
of land) on some of the most important members of the caste, whose
descendants are to be found in various places. The caste is divided
into three sections or gotras, viz., Nagesvara (cobra) Kurmesa
(tortoise), and Vignesvara or Mushika (rat). The rat is the vehicle
of the elephant god Ganesa or Vignesvara. It is further divided into
exogamous septs or intiperulu, such as sampathi (riches), chakravarthi
(king or ruler), majji, etc.

The menarikam system, according to which a man should marry his
maternal uncle's daughter, is in force. Girls are usually married
before puberty, and a Brahman officiates at marriages. The marriage
of widows and divorce are not permitted.

The dead are burnt, and the chinna (little) and pedda rozu (big day)
death ceremonies, whereat a Brahman officiates, are celebrated.

Some members of the caste have acquired a great reputation as
medicine-men and druggists.

The usual caste title is Pathrulu, indicating those who are fit to
receive a gift

Nagartha.--Nagarata, Nagarattar, or Nagarakulam is returned, in
the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub-caste of Chetti. In the
Census Report, 1891, it is recorded that the Nagarattu "hail from
Kanchipuram (Conjeeveram), where, it is said, a thousand families of
this caste formerly lived. Their name (nagaram, a city) refers to their
original home. They wear the sacred thread, and worship both Vishnu and
Siva. They take neither flesh nor alcohol. As they maintain that they
are true Vaisyas, they closely imitate the Brahmanical ceremonies of
marriage and death. This sub-division has a dancing-girl and a servant
attached to it, whose duties are to dance, and to do miscellaneous
work during marriages. The caste servant is called Jatipillai (child
of the caste).

Concerning the Nagarthas, who are settled in the Mysore Province,
I gather [74] that "the account locally obtained connects them with
the Ganigas, and the two castes are said to have been co-emigrants to
Bangalore where one Mallaraje Ars made headmen of the principal members
of the two castes, and exempted them from the house-tax. Certain
gotras are said to be common to both castes, but they never eat
together or intermarry. Both call themselves Dharmasivachar Vaisyas,
and the feuds between them are said to have often culminated in much
unpleasantness. The Nagarthas are principally found in towns and large
trade centres. Some are worshippers of Vishnu, and others of Siva. Of
the latter, some wear the linga. They are dealers in bullion, cloth,
cotton, drugs and grain. A curious mode of carrying the dead among
the Namadari or Vaishnavite Nagarthas is that the dead body is rolled
up in a blanket, instead of a bier or vimana as among others. These
cremate their dead, whereas the others bury them. Marriage must be
performed before a girl reaches puberty, and widows are not allowed
to remarry. Polygamy is allowed, and divorce can be for adultery
alone. It is recorded by Mr. L. Rice [75] that "cases sometimes occur
of a Sivachar marrying a Namadari woman, and, when this happens,
her tongue is burned with the linga, after which she forsakes her
parents' house and religion. It is stated that the Sivachar Nagarthas
never give their daughters in marriage to the Namadari sect." Among
the gotras returned by the Nagarthas are Kasyapa, Chandramauleswara,
and Cholendra.

Naga-sreni.--A fanciful name, meaning those who live in the Naga
street, used as a caste name by the Patramela dancing-girl caste.

Nagavasulu.--The Nagavasulu are described, in the Vizagapatam
Manual, as "cultivators in the Vizagapatam district. Women who have
not entered into matrimony earn money by prostitution, and acting
as dancers at feasts. Some of the caste lead a bad life, and are
excluded from the body of the caste." In the Madras Census Report,
1891, it is stated that "Nagavasamu means a company of dancing-girls,
and the sons of women of this profession frequently call themselves
Nagavasulu. The bulk of the caste in Vizagapatam, however, are said
to be respectable farmers." It is noted, in the Census Report, 1901,
that "most of the Nagavasulu are cultivators, but some of the women,
are prostitutes by profession, and outsiders are consequently admitted
to the caste. Their title is Naidu."

Nagellu (plough).--An exogamous sept of Boya.

Nagna (naked).--A name for Sanyasis, who go about naked.

Naidu.--Naidu or Nayudu is a title, returned at times of census by
many Telugu classes, e.g., Balija, Bestha, Boya, Ekari, Gavara, Golla,
Kalingi, Kapu, Mutracha, and Velama. A Tamilian, when speaking of a
Telugu person bearing this title, would call him Naicker or Naickan
instead of Naidu.

Naik.--The word Naik (Nayaka, a leader or chief) is used, by the older
writers on Southern India, in several senses, of which the following
examples, given by Yule and Burnell, [76] may be cited:--

(a) Native captain or headman. "Il s'appelle Naique, qui signifie
Capitaine." Barretto, Rel du Prov de Malabar.

(b) A title of honour among Hindus in the Deccan. "The kings of Deccan
also have a custome when they will honour a man or recompence their
service done, and rayse him to dignitie and honour. They give him
the title of Naygue".--Linschoten.

(c) The general name of the kings of Vijayanagara, and of the Lords
of Madura and other places. "Il y a plusieurs Naiques au Sud de Saint
Thomé, qui sont Souverains: Le Naigue de Madure on est un".--Thevenot.

Naik, Naickan, Naicker, Nayak or Nayakkan has been returned, at
recent times of census, by the Tamil Pallis, Irulas, and Vedans,
and also by various Telugu and Canarese classes, e.g.:--

Telugu--Balija, Boya, Ekari, Golla, Kavarai, Muttiriyan, Odde,
Tottiyan, and Uppiliyan.

Canarese--Bedar, Cheptegara, Charodi, Kannadiyan, Servegara, Siviyar,
and Toreya. Some Jen Kurumbas (a jungle folk) in the Wynad are also
locally known as Naikers.

Tulu--The Mogers, in some parts of South Canara, prefer the title
Naiker to the ordinary caste title Marakaleru, and some Bants have
the same title.

The headman among the Lambadis or Brinjaris is called Naik. Naicker
further occurs as a hereditary title in some Brahman families. I have,
for example, heard of a Desastha Brahman bearing the name Nyna Naicker.

Naik, Naiko, or Nayako appears as the title of various Oriya classes,
e.g., Alia, Aruva, Bagata, Gaudo, Jatapu, Odia, Pentiya, Rona, and
Teli. It is noted by Mr. S. P. Rice that "the Uriya Korono, or head
of the village, appropriates to himself as his caste distinction the
title Potonaiko signifying the Naik or head of the town."

The name Nayar or Nair is, it may be noted, akin to Naik and Naidu,
and signifies a leader or soldier. [77] In this connection, Mr. Lewis
Moore writes [78] that "almost every page of Mr. Sewell's interesting
book on Vijayanagar [79] bears testimony to the close connection
between Vijayanagar and the west coast. It is remarkable that Colonel
(afterwards Sir Thomas) Munro, in the memorandum written by him
in 1802 on the poligars (feudal chiefs) of the Ceded Districts,
when dealing with the cases of a number of poligars who were direct
descendants of men who had been chiefs under the kings of Vijayanagar,
calls them throughout his report Naigue or Nair, using the two names
as if they were identical." [80]

It is noted by Mr. Talboys Wheeler [81] that, in the city of Madras in
former days, "police duties were entrusted to a Hindu official, known
as the Pedda Naik or 'elder chief,' who kept a staff of peons, and
was bound to make good all stolen articles that were not recovered."

In the South Canara district, the name Naikini (Naik females) is
taken by temple dancing-girls.

Nainar.--See Nayinar.

Nakash.--A name, denoting exquisite workmanship, by which Rachevars
or Chitrakaras are known in some places.

Nakkala.--Nakkala or Nakka, meaning jackal, has been recorded as an
exogamous sept of Boya, Gudala, Golla, and Mutracha. The jackal is
the vehicle of the goddess Ankamma, who is the tutelary deity of the
Mutrachas. The name occurs further as a name for the Kuruvikkarans,
who manufacture spurious jackal horns as charms.

Nali (bamboo tube).--An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Nalillakkar (people of the four illams).--A section of Mukkuvans,
which is divided into four illams.

Nalke.--The Nalkes or Nalakeyavas are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart
[82] as "a caste of mat, basket, and umbrella makers, who furnish
the devil-dancers, who play such an important part in the worship of
the Tulu people. They have the usual Tulu exogamous sub-divisions or
balis. They are generally held to be Holeyas or Pariahs. In Canarese
they are called Panaras,"

"Every village in Canara," Mr. Stuart writes further, [83] "has its
Bhutasthanam or demon temple, in which the officiating priest or
pujari is usually a man of the Billava caste, and shrines innumerable
are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land for the
propitiation of the malevolent spirits of deceased celebrities, who,
in their lifetime, had acquired a more than usual local reputation
whether for good or evil, or had met with a sudden or violent death. In
addition to these there are demons of the jungle and demons of the
waste, demons who guard the village boundaries, and demons whose only
apparent vocation is that of playing tricks, such as throwing stones
on houses, and causing mischief generally. The demons who guard the
village boundaries seem to be the only ones who are credited with even
indirectly exercising a useful function. The others merely inspire
terror by causing sickness and misfortune, and have to be propitiated
by offerings, which often involve the shedding of blood, that of a
fowl being most common. There are also family Bhutas, and in every
non-Brahman house a room, or sometimes only a corner, is set apart for
the Bhuta, and called the Bhutakotya. The Bhutasthanam is generally a
small, plain structure, 4 or 5 yards deep by 2 or 3 yards wide, with
a door at one end covered by a portico supported on two pillars. The
roof is of thatch, and the building is without windows. In front
of it there are usually three or four T-shaped pillars. Flowers are
placed, and cocoanuts broken on them at ceremonies. The temples of the
more popular Bhutas are often substantial buildings of considerable
size. Inside the Bhutasthanam there are usually a number of images,
roughly made in brass, in human shape, or resembling animals, such
as pigs, tigers, fowls, etc. These are brought out and worshipped as
symbols of the Bhutas on various ceremonial occasions. [84] A peculiar
small goglet or vase, made of bell-metal, into which from time to time
water is poured, is kept before the Bhutas, and, on special occasions,
kepula (Ixora coccinea) flowers, and lights are placed before them. In
the larger sthanas a sword is always kept near the Bhuta, to be held
by the officiating priest when he stands possessed and trembling
with excitement before the people assembled for worship. [85] A bell
or gong is also found in all Bhutasthanams. In the case of Bhutas
connected with temples, there is a place set apart for them, called
a gudi. The Bhutasthanam of the Baiderlu is called a garudi.

"The names of the Bhutas are legion. One of the most dreaded is
named Kalkuti. Two others commonly worshipped by the Bants and the
Billavas are Koti Baidya and Chennaya Baidya, who always have Billava
pujaris. These two Bhutas are the departed spirits of two Billava
heroes. The spirit of Kujumba Kanje, a Bant of renown, belongs to
this class of Bhutas. Amongst the most well known of the others,
may be mentioned Kodamanitaya and Mundaltaya, and the jungle demons
Hakkerlu and Brahmerlu. The Holeyas worship a Bhuta of their own,
who is not recognised by any other class of the people. He goes by
the name of Kumberlu, and the place where he is said to reside is
called Kumberlu-kotya. Very often a stone of any shape, or a small
plank is placed on the ground, or fixed in a wall, and the name of a
Bhuta given to it. Other representations of Bhutas are in the shape
of an ox (Mahisandaya), a horse (Jarandaya), a pig (Panjurli), or a
giant (Baiderlu).

"The Bhuta worship of South Canara is of four kinds, viz., kola,
bandi, nema, and agelu-tambila. Kola, or devil dancing, is offered to
the Bhutas in the sthana of the village in which they are supposed
to reside. The Sudras of the village, and of those adjacent to it,
assemble near the sthana, and witness the kola ceremony in public,
sharing the cost of it by subscriptions raised among all the Sudra
families in the village in which the ceremony is held. Bandi is the
same as kola, with the addition of dragging about a clumsy kind of car,
on which the Pompada priest representing the Bhuta is seated. Nema
is a private ceremony in honour of the Bhutas, held in the house of
anyone who is so inclined. It is performed once in ten, fifteen,
or twenty years by well-to-do Billavas or Bants. The expenses of
the nema amount to about Rs. 600 or Rs. 700, and are borne by the
master of the house in which the nema takes place. During the nema,
the Bhutas, i.e., the things representing them, are brought from the
sthana to the house of the man giving the feast, and remain there
till it is over. Agelu-tambila is a kind of worship offered only to
the Baiderlu, and that annually by the Billavas only. It will be
seen that kola, bandi, and nema are applicable to all the Bhutas,
including the Baiderlu, but that the agelu-tambila is applicable only
to the Baiderlu."

The following account of Canara devil-dancers and exorcists is given
in Mr. Lavie's Manuscript History of Canara. "It is their duty to
carry a beautiful sword with a handsomely curved handle, and polished
blade of the finest steel. These they shake and flourish about in
all directions, jumping, dancing, and trembling in a most frightful
manner. Their hair is loose and flowing, and, by their inflamed eyes
and general appearance, I should suppose that they are prepared for
the occasion by intoxicating liquids or drugs.... Their power as
exorcists is exercised on any person supposed to be possessed with
the devil. I have passed by a house in which an exorcist has been
exercising his powers. He began with groans, sighs, and mutterings,
and broke forth into low mournings. Afterwards he raised his voice,
and uttered with rapidity and in a peculiar tone of voice certain
mantrams or charms, all the while trembling violently, and moving
his body backwards and forwards." The performance (of devil dances)
always takes place at night, commencing about nine o'clock. At first
the pujari, with the Bhuta sword and bell in his hands, whirls round
and round, imitating the supposed mien and gestures of the demon. But
he does not aspire to full possession; that is reserved for a Pombada
or a Nalke, a man of the lowest class, who comes forward when the
Billava pujari has exhibited himself for about half an hour. He is
naked save for a waist-band, his face is painted with ochre, and he
wears a sort of arch made of cocoanut leaves, and a metal mask. After
pacing up and down slowly for some time, he gradually works himself
up to a pitch of hysterical frenzy, while the tom-toms are beaten
furiously, and the spectators join in raising a long, monotonous
howling cry, with a peculiar vibration. At length he stops, and every
one is addressed according to his rank; if the Pombada offends a rich
Bant by omitting any of his numerous titles, he is made to suffer for
it. Matters regarding which there is any dispute are then submitted for
the decision of the Bhuta, and his award is generally accepted. Either
at this stage or earlier, the demon is fed, rice and food being offered
to the Pombada, while, if the Bhuta is of low degree, flesh and arrack
(liquor) are also presented. These festivals last for several nights,
and Dr. Burnell states that the devil-dancer receives a fee of eight
rupees for his frantic labours."

Of the three devil-dancing castes found in South Canara (Nalke,
Parava, and Pompada), the Nalkes are apparently the lowest. Even a
Koraga considers a Nalke or a Parava inferior to him. It is said that,
when a Parava meets a Koraga, he is expected to raise his hand to
his forehead. This practice does not, however, seem to be observed
at the present day. The Nalkes, though living amidst castes which
follow the aliyasantana law of inheritance (in the female line),
follow the makkalakattu law of Inheritance from father to son. The
caste has numerous balis (septs), which are evidently borrowed from
the Bants and Billavas. As examples of these, Salannaya, Bangerannaya,
Kundarannaya, and Uppenannayya may be cited. The Nalkes have a headman
called Gurikara, who settles disputes and other matters affecting
the community, and acts as the priest at marriages, death ceremonies,
and other ceremonials.

Girls are married after puberty, and a woman may marry any number
of times. The marriage ceremony is concluded in a single day. The
contracting couple are seated on planks, and the Gurikara throws
coloured rice over their heads, and ties a turmeric-dyed string with
beads strung on it round their necks. Those assembled then throw rice
over them, their hands are joined by the Gurikara or their fathers,
and the dhare water is poured thereon.

The dead are either buried or cremated. After burial or cremation,
a mound (dhupe) is, as among other castes in Canara, made over the
spot. Round it, four posts are stuck in the ground, and decorated so
as to resemble a small car (cf. Billava). The final death ceremonies
(uttarakriya) are generally performed on the fifth or seventh day. On
this day, cooked food is offered to the deceased by placing it near
the dhupe, or on the spot where he breathed his last. This is followed
by a feast. If the ceremony is not performed on one of the recognised
days, the permission of some Bants or Billavas must be obtained before
it can be carried out.

All castes in South Canara have great faith in Bhutas, and, when
any calamity or misfortune overtakes a family, the Bhutas must be
propitiated. The worship of Bhutas is a mixture of ancestor and
devil propitiation. In the Bhuta cult, the most important personage
is Brahmeru, to whom the other Bhutas are subordinate. Owing to the
influence of Brahman Tantris, Brahmeru is regarded as another name for
Brahma, and the various Bhutas are regarded as ganas or attendants on
Siva. Brahmanical influence is clearly to be traced in the various
Bhuta songs, and all Bhutas are in some manner connected with Siva
and Parvati.

Whenever people want to propitiate the Bhutas, a Nalke or Parava is
engaged. In some places, the Nalke disguises himself as any Bhuta,
but, where Paravas are also to be found, the Nalke may not dress up
as the Baiderkulu, Kodamanitaya, or Rakteswari. The propitiation of
the Bhuta takes the form of a ceremony called Kola, Nema, or Agelu
Tambila. Of these, Kola is a periodical ceremony, in which various
castes take part, and is always performed near a Bhutasthana. Nema
is usually undertaken by a single family, and is performed at the
house. Agelu Tambila is celebrated by Billavas at their homes. The
Kola ceremony is usually performed for the propitiation of Bhutas other
than the Baiderkulu. The Muktesar or chief man, with the assistance of
a Brahman, fixes an auspicious day for its celebration. The jewels,
and votive offerings made to the Bhutas, are kept in the custody of
the Muktesar. On the Kola day, the people go in procession from the
sthana to the Muktesar's house, and return to the sthana with the
jewels and other articles. These are arranged on cots, and a Billava
pujari places seven plantain leaves in a row on a cot, and heaps rice
thereon. On each heap, a cocoanut is placed for the propitiation
of the most important Bhuta. To the minor Bhutas, these things are
offered on three or five leaves placed on cots, or on the floor of the
sthana, according to the importance of the Bhuta. A seven-branched
torch must be kept burning near the cot of the principal Bhuta. The
pujari goes to the courtyard of the sthana, and piles up a conical
mass of cooked rice on a stool. Over this pieces of plantain fruits
are scattered. Round the mass several sheaths of plantain leaves are
arranged, and on them tender cocoanut leaves, cut in various ways,
are stuck. The pujari, who wears a metal belt and other jewelry, does
puja to the Bhutas, and retires. The Nalkes or Paravas then advance
dressed up as Bhutas, and request permission to put on their canopy
(ani) and brass anklet (guggire). They then dance, and sing songs
connected with the Bhutas which are being propitiated. When they are
exhausted and retire, the pujari steps forwards, and addresses the
assembly in the following terms:-- "Oh! great men who are assembled,
with your permission I salute you all. Oh! Brahmans who are assembled,
I salute you. Oh! priest, I salute you." In this manner, he is
expected to run through the names of all important personages who
are present. When he has finished, the devil-dancers do the same,
and the ceremony is at an end.

Of the Bhutas, the best known are Brahmeru, Kodamanitaya, Kukkintaya,
Jumadi, Sarlu Jumadi, Pancha Jumadi, Rakteswari, Panjurli,
Kuppe Panjurli, Rakta Panjurli, Urundarayya, Hosadevata (or Hosa
Bhuta), Devanajiri, Kalkutta, Ukkatiri, Gulige, Bobbariya, Nicha,
Duggalaya, Mahisandaya, Varte, Chamundi, Baiderukulu, Okkuballala, and
Oditaya. According to some, Jumadi is the small-pox goddess Mari. There
are only two female Bhutas--Ukkatiri and Kallurti. The Bhutas are
supposed to belong to different castes. For example, Okkuballala
and Devanajiri are Jains, Kodamanitaya and Kukkinataya are Bants,
Kalkutta is a smith, Bobbariya is a Mappilla, and Nicha a Koraga.

In some temples dedicated to Siva, the Tantris offer food, etc.,
to the various Bhutas on special occasions, such as Dipavali and
Sankaranthi. At Udipi, the Sanyasis of the various mutts (religious
institutions) seem to believe in some of the Bhutas, as they give money
for the performance of Kola to Panjurli, Sarla Jumadi, and Chamundi.

At Hiriadkap in South Canara, where the Nalkes performed before me,
the dancers wore spathes of the areca palm, forming spats to prevent
the skin from being injured by the metal bells round their ankles as
they danced.

The songs sung by the devil dancers are very numerous, and vary in
different localities. Of the stories relating to Bhutas, a very full
account has been given by Mr. A. C. Burnell. [86]

A collection of stories (padanollu) belonging to the demon-worshippers
of the Tulu country, and recited at their annual festivals, was
published at the Mangalore Basel Mission Press in 1886.

Nalla (black).--An exogamous sept of Koppala Velama.

Nallur.--Nallur and Naluvitan are recorded, in the Travancore Census
Report, 1901, as sub-divisions of Nayar.

Namadari.--A name, indicating one who wears the Vaishnava sectarian
mark (namam). The equivalent Namala occurs as an exogamous sept
of Boya.

Nambidi.--A class, included among the Ambalavasis. It is recorded,
in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, that "Nampitis are of two
classes, the thread-wearing and the threadless. The former have
their own priests, while the Ilayatus perform the required sacerdotal
functions for the latter. Their ceremonies are very much like those
of the Kshatriyas. Tradition connects them with royalty acquired under
rather unenviable circumstances. They are, therefore, called Tampurans
(lords) by the Sudras, and also Muppinnu (elder) or Karanavappat
(uncle) head of a matriarchal family. They observe twelve days'
pollution, and inherit in the female line. Their women are called
Mantalu. The chief man among the Nampitis is the Karanavappat of
Kakkat in British Malabar." In the Cochin Census Report, 1901, it
is noted that of the Nampidis "the Aiynikoor Nampidis, or the five
families of Nampidis, are historically and socially the most important;
the eldest male member possesses the honorific title of Karanavarpad,
enjoying special privileges at the hands of the rulers of Cochin, as
the members of the family once held responsible posts in the militia
of the State. According to tradition, they were Nambudris. One of
the Perumals or Viceroys of Kerala having proved troublesome, the
Brahmans resolved upon his removal. In the struggle that followed,
the Perumal was killed by the Brahmans. When those who had slain him
returned to the place where the Brahmans had met in solemn conclave,
they were gladly welcomed, and asked to sit in their midst; but,
feeling that they had committed a heinous crime and thus disqualified
themselves from sitting along with the Brahmans, they volunteered to
sit apart on the threshold of the council room by saying nam padimel
(we on the threshold), which fact is supposed to account for the
origin of their name Nampadi. They and their companions have since
been regarded as having almost lost their social status as Brahmans,
and they are now classed along with the intermediate castes, having
but a few privileges other than those enjoyed by the group. They
wear the sacred thread, and have Gayatri. Nambudri Brahmans officiate
as priests at marriage ceremonies, sradhas, and purification at the
end of birth or death pollution, which lasts only for ten days. They
follow the marumakkatayam law of inheritance (in the female line). The
tali (marriage badge) is tied by their own caste men. Nambudris,
or their own caste men, unite themselves in sambandham with Nampidi
females. Nampidis are allowed to consort with Nayar women. At public
feasts they are not privileged to sit and eat with Nambudris. Their
women are called Manolpads."

Nambiyassan.--A division of the Ambalavasis. It is noted, in the
Travancore Census Report, 1901, that "the Nampiassans, otherwise
called Nampiyars or Nampis, have at present no temple service of
any kind. They keep gymnasia or schools of training suited to the
Indian system of warfare. They were the gurus (preceptors) of the
fighting Nayars. They seem, however, at one time to have followed the
profession of garland-making in temples. It is still the occupation of
many Nampiassans in Cochin and British Malabar." In the Cochin Census
Report, 1901, it is stated that Nambiyar is rather a misleading title,
as it is applied to more than one class of people. Some Nayars are
known by that title. In some places, Muthads and Elayads are also
called Nambiyars. Chakkiyar Nambiyars beat a drum of a peculiar shape
at intervals during the discourses or acting of the Chakkiyars, while
their females, called Nangiyars, keep time. The Nangiyars also assume
the figure of mythical characters, and perform a sort of pantomime
on the Chakkiyar's stage. (See Unni.)

Nambiyatiri (a person worthy of worship).--A synonym of Elayad.

Nambutiri Brahman. [87]--The name Nambutiri has been variously
derived. The least objectionable origin seems to be nambu (sacred or
trustworthy) and tiri (a light). The latter occurs as an honorific
suffix among Malabar Brahmans, and other castes above the Nayars. The
Nambutiris form the socio-spiritual aristocracy of Malabar, and, as
the traditional landlords of Parasu Rama's land, they are everywhere
held in great reverence.

A Nambutiri, when questioned about the past, refers to the
Keralolpatti. The Nambutiris and their organization according to
gramams owe their origin in legend, so far as Malabar is concerned, to
Parasu Rama. Parasu Rama (Rama of the axe), an incarnation of Vishnu,
had, according to the puranic story, slain his mother in a fit of
wrath, and was advised by the sages to expiate his sin by extirpating
the Kshatriyas twenty-one times. He did so, and handed over the land
to the sages. But this annoyed the Brahmans exceedingly, for they got
no share in the arrangement; so they banished Parasu Rama from the
land. By the performance of austerities he gained from the gods the
boon to reclaim some land from Varuna, the sea god. Malabar was then
non-existent. He was allowed to throw his axe from Cape Comorin, and
possess all the land within the distance of his throw. So he threw his
axe as far as Gokarnam in the South Canara district, and immediately
there was land between these two places, within the direct line and
the western ghats, now consisting of Travancore and Cochin, Malabar,
and part of South Canara. To this land he gave the name Karma Bhumi,
or the country in which salvation or the reverse depends altogether on
man's individual actions, and blessed it that there be plenty of rain
and no famine in it. But he was alone. To relieve his loneliness, he
brought some Brahmans from the banks of the Krishna river, but they
did not remain long, for they were frightened by the snakes. Then
he brought some Brahmans from the north, and, lest they too should
flee, gave them peculiar customs, and located them in sixty-four
gramams. He told them also to follow the marumakkattayam law of
succession (in the female line), but only a few, the Nambutiris of
Payyanur, obeyed him. The Brahmans ruled the land with severity,
so that the people (who had somehow come into existence) resolved
to have a king under whom they could live in peace. And, as it was
impossible to choose one among themselves, they chose Keya Perumal,
who was the first king of Malabar, and Malabar was called Keralam
after him. The truths underlying this legend are that the littoral
strip between the western ghats and the sea is certainly of recent
formation geologically. It is not very long, geologically, since it
was under the sea, and it is certain that the Nambutiris came from
the north. The capital of the Chera kingdom was very probably on the
west coast not far from Cranganore in the Travancore State, the site
of it being now called Tiruvanjikkulam. There is still a Siva temple
there, and about a quarter of a mile to the south-west of it are the
foundations of the old palace. The rainfall of Malabar is very high,
ranging from 300 inches in the hills to about 120 inches on the coast.

"It is said that Parasu Rama ruled that all Nambudri women should carry
with them an umbrella whenever they go out, to prevent their being
seen by those of the male sex, that a Nayar woman called a Vrishali
should invariably precede them, that they should be covered with a
cloth from neck to foot, and that they should not wear jewels. These
women are therefore always attended by a Nayar woman in their outdoor
movements, and they go sheltering their faces from public gaze with
a cadjan (palm leaf) umbrella." [88]

The Keralolpatti relates the story of the exclusion of the Panniyur
Brahmans from the Vedas. There were in the beginning two religious
factions among the Nambutiris, the Vaishnavas or worshippers of Vishnu
in his incarnation as a boar, and the Saivas; the former residing in
Panniyur (boar village), and the latter in Chovur (Siva's village). The
Saivas gained the upper hand, and, completely dominating the others,
excluded them altogether from the Vedas. So now the Nambutiris of
Panniyur are said to be prohibited from studying the Vedas. It is said,
however, that this prohibition is not observed, and that, as a matter
of fact, the Panniyur Nambutiris perform all the Vedic ceremonies.

"Tradition," Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes, "as recorded in the
Keralamahatmiya, traces the Nambutiris to Ahikshetra, whence Parasu
Rama invited Brahmans to settle in his newly reclaimed territory. In
view to preventing the invited settlers from relinquishing it, he is
said to have introduced, on the advice of the sage Narada, certain
deep and distinctive changes in their personal, domestic, and communal
institutions. The banks of the Nerbudda, the Krishna, and the Kaveri
are believed to have given Brahmans to Malabar. I have come across
Nambutiris who have referred to traditions in their families regarding
villages on the east coast whence their ancestors originally came,
and the sub-divisions of the Smarta caste, Vadama, Brihatcharanam,
Ashtasahasram, Sanketi, etc., to which they belonged. Even to this
day, an east coast Brahman of the Vadadesattu Vadama caste has to
pour water into the hands of a Nambutiri Sanyasi as part of the
latter's breakfast ritual. Broach in Kathiwar, one of the greatest
emporiums of trade in the middle ages, is also mentioned as one of
the ancient recruiting districts of the Nambutiri Brahmans. Broach was
the ancient Bhrigucachchha, where Parasu Rama made his avabhritasnana
(final bathing) after his great triumph over the Kshatriyas, and where
to this day a set of people called Bhargava Brahmans live. Their
comparatively low social status is ascribed to the original sin of
their Brahman progenitor or founder having taken to the profession
of arms. The date of the first settlement of the Nambutiris is not
known. Orthodox tradition would place it in the Tretayuga, or the
second great Hindu cycle. The reference to the gramams of Chovvur
and Panniyur contained in the Manigramam Syrian Christian grant of
the eighth century, and its absence in the Jewish, have suggested to
antiquarians some time between the seventh and eighth centuries as
the probable period. The writings of Ptolemy and the Periplus furnish
evidence of Brahman settlements on the Malabar coast as early as the
first century, and it is probable that immigrant Brahman families
began to pour in with the ascendancy of the Western Chalukya kings
in the fourth and fifth centuries, and became gradually welded with
the pre-existing Nambutiris. All these Nambutiris were grouped under
two great sections:--(a) the Vaishnavites or Panniyur Gramakkar, who
came with the patronage of the Vaishnavites of the Chalukya dynasty
with the boar as their royal emblem; (b) the Saivites or Chovvur
Gramakkar, who readily accepted the Saivite teachings from the Chera,
Chola, and Pandya kings who followed the Chalukyans. They included in
all sixty-four gramams, which, in many cases, were only families. Of
these, not more than ten belong to modern Travancore. These gramams
constituted a regular autocracy, with four talis or administrative
bodies having their head-quarters at Cranganore. It appears that a
Raja or Perumal, as he was called, from the adjoining Chera kingdom,
including the present districts of Salem and Coimbatore, was, as
an improved arrangement, invited to rule for a duodecennial period,
and was afterwards confirmed, whether by the lapse of time or by a
formal act of the Brahman owners it is not known. The Chera Viceroys,
by virtue of their isolation from their own fatherland, had then to
arrange for marital alliances being made, as best they could, with
the highest indigenous caste, the Nambutiris, the males consorting
with Sudra women. The matriarchal form of inheritance was thus a
necessary consequence. Certain tracts of Kerala, however, continued
under direct Brahman sovereignty, of which the Ettappalli chief is
almost the only surviving representative."

Writing in the eighteenth century, Hamilton observes [89] that "the
Nambouries are the first in both capacities of Church and State, and
some of them are Popes, being Sovereign Princes in both." Unlike the
Brahmans of the remainder of the Madras Presidency, who so largely
absorb all appointments worth having under Government, who engage in
trade, in, one may say, every profitable profession and business,
the Nambutiris hold almost entirely aloof from what the poet Gray
calls "the busy world's ignoble strife," and, more than any class of
Brahmans, retain their sacerdotal position, which is of course the
highest. They are for the most part landholders. A very large portion
of Malabar is owned by Nambutiris, especially in Walluvanad, most of
which taluk is the property of Nambutiris. They are the aristocracy
of the land, marked most impressively by two characteristics,
exclusiveness and simplicity. Now and then a Nambutiri journeys to
Benares, but, as a rule, he stays at home. Their simplicity is really
proverbial, [90] and they have not been influenced by contact with
the English. This contact, which has influenced every other caste or
race, has left the Nambutiri just where he was before the English knew
India. He is perhaps, as his measurements seem to prove, the truest
Aryan in Southern India, and not only physically, but in his customs,
habits, and ceremonies, which are so welded into him that forsake them
he cannot if he would. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that
"as a class, the Nambudiris may be described as less affected than
any other caste, except the very lowest, by western influences of
whatever nature. One Nambudiri is known to have accepted a clerical
post in Government service; a good many are Adhigaris (village
headmen), and one member of the caste possesses a Tile-works and is
partner in a Cotton-mill. The bicycle now claims several votaries
among the caste, and photography at least one other. But these are
exceptions, and exceptions which, unimportant as they may seem to
any one unacquainted with the remarkable conservatism of the caste,
would certainly have caused considerable surprise to the author of
the first Malabar Manual."

Concerning the occupations of the Nambutiris, Mr. Subramani Aiyar
writes that "service in temples, unless very remunerative, does not
attract them. Teaching as a means of living is rank heterodoxy. And,
if anywhere Manu's dictum to the Brahman 'Never serve' is strictly
observed, it is in Malabar. Judging from the records left by
travellers, the Nambutiris used to be selected by kings as messengers
during times of war. Writing concerning them, Barbosa states that
"these are the messengers who go on the road from one kingdom to
another with letters and money and merchandise, because they pass in
safety without any one molesting them, even though the king may be
at war. These Brahmans are well read ... and possess many books, and
are learned and masters of many arts; and so the kings honour them
as such." As the pre-historic heirs to the entire land of Kerala,
the Nambutiris live on agriculture. But inefficiency in adaptation
to changing environments operates as a severe handicap in the race
for progressive affluence, for which the initial equipment was
exceptionally favourable. The difficulties incidental to an effete
landlordism have contributed to making the Nambutiris a litigious
population, and the ruinous scale of expenditure necessary for the
disposal of a girl, be it of the most plebeian kind, has brought their
general prosperity to a very low level. The feeling of responsible
co-operation on the part of the unmarried males of a Nambutiri
household in the interests of the family is fast decreasing; old
maids are increasing; and the lot of the average Nambutiri man, and
more especially woman, is very hard indeed. As matters now stand,
the traditional hospitality of the Hindu kings of Malabar, which,
fortunately for them, has not yet relaxed, is the only sustenance and
support of the ordinary Nambutiri. The characteristic features of the
Nambutiri are his faith in God and resignation to his will, hospitality
to strangers, scrupulous veracity, punctiliousness as regards the
ordinances prescribed, and extreme gentility in manners. The sustaining
power of his belief in divine providence is so great, that calamities
of whatsoever kind do not exasperate him unduly. The story is told
with great admiration of a Nambutiri who, with his large ancestral
house on fire, his only son just tumbled into a deep disused well,
while his wife was expiring undelivered, quietly called out to his
servant for his betel-box. Evening baths, and daily prayers at sunrise,
noon and sunset, are strictly observed. A tradition, illustrative
of the miracles which spiritual power can work, is often told of
the islet in the Vempanat lake known as Patiramanal (midnight sand)
having been conjured into existence by the Tarananallur Nambutiripad,
when, during a journey to Trivandrum, it was past evening, and the
prayers to Sandhya had to be made after the usual ablutions. To the
lower animals, the attitude of the Nambutiri is one of child-like
innocence. In his relation to man, his guilelessness is a remarkable
feature. Harshness of language is unknown to the Nambutiris, and
it is commonly said that the severest expression of his resentment
at an insult offered is generally that he (the Nambutiri) expects
the adversary to take back the insult a hundred times over. Of
course, the modern Nambutiri is not the unadulterated specimen of
goodness, purity, and piety that he once was. But, on the whole, the
Nambutiris form an interesting community, whose existence is indeed
a treasure untold to all lovers of antiquity. Their present economic
condition is, however, far from re-assuring. They are no doubt the
traditional owners of Kerala, and hold in their hands the janmom or
proprietary interest in a large portion of Malabar. But their woeful
want of accommodativeness to the altered conditions of present day
life threatens to be their ruin. Their simplicity and absence of
business-like habits have made them a prey to intrigue, fraudulence,
and grievous neglect, and an unencumbered and well ordered estate is
a rarity among Malabar Brahmans, at least in Travancore."

The orthodox view of the Nambutiri is thus stated in an official
document of Travancore. "His person is holy; his directions are
commands; his movements are a procession; his meal is nectar; he
is the holiest of human beings; he is the representative of god on
earth." It may be noted that the priest at the temple of Badrinath in
Gurhwal, which is said to have been established by Sankaracharya, and
at the temple at Tiruvettiyur, eight miles north of Madras, must be
a Nambutiri. The birth-place of Sankara has been located in a small
village named Kaladi in Travancore. It is stated by Mr. Subramani
Aiyar that "at some part of his eventful life, Sankara is believed
to have returned to his native village, to do the last offices to his
mother. Every assistance was withdrawn, and he became so helpless that
he had to throw aside the orthodox ceremonials of cremation, which he
could not get his relations to help him in, made a sacrificial pit
in his garden, and there consigned his mother's mortal remains. The
compound (garden) can still be seen on the banks of the Periyar river
on the Travancore side, with a masonry wall enclosing the crematorium,
and embowered by a thick grove of trees."

Every Nambutiri is, theoretically, a life-long student of the
Vedas. Some admit that religious study or exercise occupies a bare
half hour in the day; others devote to these a couple of hours or
more. It is certain that every Nambutiri is under close study between
the ages of seven and fifteen, or for about eight years of his life,
and nothing whatsoever is allowed to interfere with this. Should
circumstances compel interruption of Vedic study, the whole course is,
I believe, re-commenced and gone through da capo. A few years ago,
a Nambutiri boy was wanted, to be informally examined in the matter
of a dacoity in his father's illam; but he had to be left alone, as,
among other unpleasant consequences of being treated as a witness,
he would have had to begin again his whole course of Vedic study. The
Nambutiris are probably more familiar with Sanskrit than any other
Brahmans, even though their scholarship may not be of a high order,
and certainly none other is to the same extent governed by the letter
of the law handed down in Sanskrit.

As already said, the Nambutiris are for the most part landholders,
or of that class. They are also temple priests. The rich have their
own temples, on which they spend much money. All over Malabar there
are to be seen Pattar Brahmans, wandering here and there, fed free
at the illams of rich Nambutiris, or at the various kovilakams and
temples. And they are always to be found at important ceremonial
functions, marriage or the like, which they attend uninvited, and
receive a small money present (dakshina). But the Nambutiri never
goes anywhere, unless invited. From what I have seen, the presents
to Brahmans on these occasions are usually given on the following
scale:--eight annas to each Nambutiri, six annas to each Embrantiri,
four annas to each Pattar Brahman. The Nambutiri is sometimes a
money-lender.

Of the two divisions, Nambutiri and Nambutiripad, the latter are
supposed to be stricter, and to rank higher than the former. Pad,
meaning power or authority, is often used to all Nambutiris when
addressing them. Thus, some who are called Nambutiripads may
really be Nambutiris. It may not be strictly correct to divide the
Nambutiris thus, for neither so-called division is separated from
the other by interdiction of marriage. The class distinctions are
more properly denoted the Adhyan and Asyan, of which the former is
the higher. An Adhyan is never a priest; he is a being above even
such functions as are sacerdotal in the temple. But there are also
divisions according to the number of yagams or sacrifices performed
by individuals, thus:--Somatiri or Somayaji, Akkitiri or Agnihotri,
and Adittiri. A man may reach the first stage of these three, and
become an Addittiripad by going through a certain ceremony. At this,
three Nambutiri Vaidikars, or men well versed in the Vedas, must
officiate. A square pit is made. Fire raised by friction between
two pieces of pipal (Ficus religiosa) wood with a little cotton is
placed in it. This fire is called aupasana. The ceremony cannot
be performed until after marriage. It is only those belonging to
certain gotras who may perform yagams, and, by so doing, acquire the
three personal distinctions already named. Again, there are other
divisions according to professions. Thus it is noted, in the Cochin
Census Report, 1901, that "the Adhyans are to study the Vedas and
Sastras; they are prohibited from taking parannam (literally meals
belonging to another), from taking part in the funeral ceremonies of
others, and from receiving presents. Those who perform the sacrifice
of adhana are known as Aditiris, those who perform some yaga are
called Somayagis or Chomatiris, while those who perform agni are
called Agnihotris or Akkitiris. Only married men are qualified to
perform the sacrifices. The Nayar is an indispensable factor in
the performance of these sacrifices. The Bhattatiris are to study
and teach the Sastras; the Orthikans are to teach the Vedas, and to
officiate as family priests. The Vadhyans are to teach the Vedas, and
to supervise the moral conduct of their pupils. The Vydikans are the
highest authority to decide what does or does not constitute violation
of caste rules, and to prescribe expiatory ceremonies. The Smarthas
are to study the Smritis and other Sastras relating to customs,
with the special object of qualifying themselves to preside over
caste panchayats, or courts, and to investigate, under the orders
of the sovereign, cases of conjugal infidelity arising among the
Nambutiris. The rulers of Cochin and Travancore issue the writs
convening the committee in the case of offences committed within
their territory. The Zamorin of Calicut, and other Chiefs or Rajas,
also continue to exercise the privilege of issuing such orders in
regard to cases occurring in Malabar. The Tantris officiate as high
priests in temples. They also practice exorcism. There are Adhyans
among this class also. Having received weapons from Parasu Rama and
practiced the art of war, the Sastrangakars are treated as somewhat
degraded Brahmans. They are prohibited from studying the Vedas, but
are entitled to muthalmura, that is, reading the Vedas, or hearing
them recited once. Having had to devote their time and energy to
the practice of the art of war, they could not possibly spend their
time in the study of the Vedas. The Vaidyans or physicians, known
as Mussads, are to study the medical science, and to practice the
same. As the profession of a doctor necessitates the performance of
surgical operations entailing the shedding of blood, the Mussads are
also considered as slightly degraded. They too are entitled only
to muthalmura. Of these, there are eight families, known as Ashta
Vaidyans. The Gramanis are alleged to have suffered degradation by
reason of their having, at the command of Parasu Rama, undertaken the
onerous duties of protecting the Brahman villages, and having had,
as Rakshapurushas or protectors, to discharge the functions assigned
to Kshatriyas. Ooril Parisha Mussads are supposed to have undergone
degradation on account of their having accepted from Parasu Rama the
accumulated sin of having killed the warrior Kshatriyas thrice seven
times, along with immense gifts in the shape of landed estates. They
are not allowed to read the Vedas even once."

"There are," Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes, "five sub-divisions among
the Nambutiris, which may be referred to:--

(1) Tampurakkal.--This is a corruption of the Sanskrit name Samrat,
and has probable reference to temporal as much as to secular
sovereignty. Of the two Tampurakkal families in South Malabar,
Kalpancheri and Azhvancheri, the latter alone now remains. As spiritual
Samrats (sovereigns) they are entitled to (1) bhadrasanam, or the
highest position in an assembly, (2) brahmavarchasa, or authority in
Vedic lore, and consequent sanctity, (3) brahmasamragyam, or lordship
over Brahmans, (4) sarvamanyam, or universal acknowledgment of
reverence. Once in six years, the Azhvancheri Tampurakkal is invited
by the Maharaja of Travancore, who accords him the highest honours,
and pays him the homage of a sashtanganamaskaram, or prostration
obeisance. Even now, the Samrats form a saintly class in all
Malabar. Though considered higher than all other sub-divisions of
Nambutiris, they form, with the Adhyas, an endogamous community.

(2) Adhyas.--They form eight families, called Ashtadhyas, and are
said by tradition to be descended from the eight sons of a great
Brahman sage, who lived on the banks of the river Krishna. The fund of
accumulated spirituality inherited from remote ancestors is considered
to be so large that sacrifices (yagas), as well as vanaprastha and
sanyasa (the two last stages of the Brahman's life), are reckoned as
being supererogatory for even the last in descent. They are, however,
very strict in the observance of religious ordinances, and constantly
engage themselves in the reverent study of Hindu scriptures. The
Tantris are Adhyas with temple administration as their specialised
function. They are the constituted gurus of the temple priests,
and are the final authorities in all matters of temple ritual.

(3) Visishta.--These are of two classes, Agnihotris and
Bhattatiris. The former are the ritualists, and are of three
kinds:--(1) Akkittiris, who have performed the agnichayanayaga, (2)
Adittiris, who have done the ceremony of agniadhana, (3) Chomatiris,
who have performed the soma sacrifice. The Bhattatiris are the
philosophers, and are, in a spirit of judicious economy, which is the
characteristic feature of all early caste proscriptions, actually
prohibited from trenching on the province of the Agnihotris. They
study tarkka (logic), vedanta (religious philosophy or theology),
vyakarana (grammar), mimamsa (ritualism), bhatta, from which they
receive their name, and prabhakara, which are the six sciences of the
early Nambutiris. They were the great religious teachers of Malabar,
and always had a large number of disciples about them. Under this
head come the Vadyars or heads of Vedic schools, of which there are
two, one at Trichur in Cochin, and the other at Tirunavai in British
Malabar; the six Vaidikas or expounders of the caste canons, and the
Smartas, who preside at the smartavicharams or socio-moral tribunals
of Brahmanical Malabar.

(4) Samanyas.--They form the Nambutiri proletariat, from whom the
study of the Vedas is all that is expected. They take up the study of
mantravada (mystic enchantment), puja (temple ritual), and reciting
the sacred accounts of the Avatara and astrology.

(5) Jatimatras.--The eight leading physician families of Malabar,
or Ashta Vaidyas, are, by an inexcusable misuse of language, called
Gatimatras or nominal Nambutiris. The class of Nambutiris called
Yatrakalikkar (a corruption of Sastrakalikkar) also comes under
this head. They are believed to be the Brahmans, who accepted the
profession of arms from their great founder. Those that actually
received the territory from the hands of Parasu Rama, called Gramani
Nambutiris or Gramani Adhyas, are also Gatimatras. They were the
virtual sovereigns of their respective lands. The physicians, the
soldiers, and the landed kings, having other duties to perform,
were not able to devote all their time to Vedic recitations. The
mutalmura or first study was, of course, gone through. In course of
time, this fact was unfortunately taken by the religious conscience
of the people to lower the Brahmans who were deputed under the scheme
of Parasu Rama for special functions in the service of the nation in
the scale of Nambutiri society, and to mean a formal prohibition as
of men unworthy to be engaged in Vedic study.

Papagrastas are Nambutiris, who are supposed to have questioned the
divine nature of Parasu Rama, The Urilparisha Mussus, who too are
Brahmans who received gifts of land from Parasu Rama, the Nambitis,
the Panniyur Gramakkar, and the Payyanur Gramakkar or the Ammuvans
(uncles), so called from their matriarchal system of inheritance,
form other sections of Nambutiris."

It is recorded, in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that "certain
special privileges in regard to the performance of religious rites and
other matters of a purely social nature serve as the best basis for
a sub-division of the Nambutiris in the order of social precedence
as recognised amongst themselves. For this purpose, the privileges
may be grouped under two main classes, as given in the following
mnemonic formula:--


A

1.  Edu (the leaf of a cadjan grandha or book): the right of studying
    and teaching the Vedas and Sastras.
2.  Piccha (mendicancy symbolic of family priests): the right of
    officiating as family priests.
3.  Othu (Vedas): the right of studying the Vedas.
4.  Adukala (kitchen): the right of cooking for all classes of
    Brahmans.
5.  Katavu (bathing place or ghat): the right of bathing in the
    same bathing place with other Brahmans, or the right of
    touching after bathing, without thereby disqualifying the
    person touched for performing religious services.


B

1.  Adu (sheep): the right of performing holy sacrifices.
2.  Bhiksha (receiving alms): the right of becoming a Sanyasi.
3.  Santhi (officiating as temple priests): the right of performing
    priestly functions in temples.
4.  Arangu (stage): the right of taking part in the performance of
    Sastrangam Nambudris.
5.  Panthi (row of eaters): the right of messing in the same row with
    other Brahmans.


Those who enjoy the privilege of No. 1 in A are entitled to all
the privileges in A and B; those enjoying No. 2 in A have all the
privileges from No. 2 downwards in A and B; those having No. 3 in A
have similarly all the privileges from No. 3 downwards in A and B, and
so on. Those entitled to No.1 in B have all the privileges except No. 1
in A; similarly those entitled to No. 2 in B have all the privileges
from No. 2 downwards in B, but only from No. 3 downwards in A, and
so on."

Among the people of good caste in Malabar, to speak of one as a hairy
man is to speak of him reproachfully. Yet, putting aside Muhammadans,
the highest of all, the Nambutiris are certainly the most hairy. In
the young Nambutiri, the hair on the head is plentiful, glossy,
and wavy. The hair is allowed to grow over an oval patch from the
vertex or a little behind it to a little back from the forehead. This
is the regular Malabar fashion. The hair thus grown is done into a
knot hanging over the forehead or at one side according to fancy,
never hanging behind. The rest of the head, and also the face is
shaved. The whole body, excepting this knot and the back, is shaved
periodically. Karkkadakam, Kanni, Kumbham and Dhanu are months in which
shaving should be avoided as far as possible. An auspicious day is
always selected by the Nambutiri for being shaved. Gingelly oil (enna)
is commonly used for the hair. When a Nambutiri's wife is pregnant,
he refrains from the barber, letting his hair grow as it will. And,
as he may have as many as four wives, and he does not shave when
any of them is in an interesting condition, he sometimes has a long
beard. A marked difference observed between the Nambutiri and those
allied to him, and the lower races, is this. The former have whiskers
in the shape of a full growth of hair on the cheeks, while in the
latter this is scanty or entirely absent. Also, while the Nambutiris
have very commonly a hairy chest, the others have little or no hair
on the chest. So, too, in the case of hair on the arms and legs. One
Nambutiri examined had hair all over the body, except over the ribs.

In connection with a hypothesis that the Todas of the Nilgiris
are an offshoot of one of the races now existing in Malabar,
Dr. W. H. R. Rivers writes as follows. [91] "Of all the castes or
tribes of Malabar, the Nambutiris perhaps show the greatest number
of resemblances to the customs of the Todas, and it is therefore
interesting to note that Mr. Fawcett describes these people as the
hairiest of all the races of Malabar, and especially notes that one
individual he examined was like a Toda."

It is noted by Mr. Subramani Aiyar that "the Nambutiris are passionate
growers of finger-nails, which are sometimes more than a foot long,
and serve several useful purposes. As in everything else, the Nambutiri
is orthodox even in the matter of dress. Locally-manufactured cloths
are alone purchased, and Indian publicists who deplore the crushing
of indigenous industries by the importation of foreign goods may
congratulate the Kerala Brahmans on their protectionist habits. Silk
and coloured cloths are not worn by either sex. The style of dress is
peculiar. That of the males is known as tattutukkuka. Unlike the Nayar
dress, which the Nambutiris wear during other than religious hours,
the cloth worn has a portion passing between the thighs and tucked in
at the front and behind, with the front portion arranged in a number
of characteristic reduplications. The Nambutiri wears wooden shoes,
but never shoes made of leather. Nambutiri women have two styles
of dress, viz., okkum koluttum vachchutukkuka for the Adhyans, and
ngoringutukkuka for ordinary Nambutiris. Undyed cloths constitute
the daily wearing apparel of Nambutiri women. It is interesting to
notice that all Brahman women, during a yagnam (sacrifice), when,
as at other ceremonials, all recent introductions are given up in
favour of the old, wear undyed cloths. Beyond plain finger-rings and
a golden amulet (elassu) attached to the waist-string, the Nambutiri
wears no ornaments. His ears are bored, but no ear-rings are worn
unless he is an Agnihotri, when ear-pendants of an elongated pattern
(kundalam) are used. The ornaments of the Nambutiri women have
several peculiarities. Gold bracelets are, as it were, proscribed
even for the most wealthy. Hollow bangles of brass or bell-metal for
ordinary Nambutiris, and of solid silver for the Adhyas, are the ones
in use. The chuttu is their ear ornament. A peculiar necklace called
cheru-tali is also worn, and beneath this Adhya women wear three
garlands of manis or gold pieces, along with other jewels called
kasumala, puttali, and kazhuttila. The Nambutiris do not bore their
noses or wear nose-rings, and, in this respect, present a striking
contrast to the Nayar women. No restriction, except the removal of the
tali, is placed on the use of ornaments by Nambutiri women. Tattooing
is taboo to Nambutiri women. They put on three horizontal lines of
sandal paste after bathing. These marks have, in the case of Adhya
women, a crescentic shape (ampilikkuri). Kunkuma, or red powder, is
never applied by Nambutiri women to the forehead. Turmeric powder
as a cosmetic wash for the face is also not in vogue. Mr. Fawcett
states that, on festive occasions, turmeric is used by the
Brahmans of Malabar. But this is not borne out by the usage in
Travancore. Eye-salves are applied, and may be seen extending as dark
lines up to the ears on either side."

The ornaments and marks worn by individual Nambutiri males are thus
recorded by Mr. Fawcett:--

(1) Left hand: gold ring with large green stone on first finger;
four plain gold rings on third finger; a ring, in which an anavarahan
coin is set, on little finger. This is a very lucky ring. Spurious
imitations are often set in rings, but it is the genuine coin which
brings good luck. Right hand: two plain gold rings, and a pavitram
on the third finger. The pavitram is of about the thickness of an
ordinary English wedding ring, shaped like a figure of eight, with a
dotted pattern at each side, and the rest plain. It is made of gold,
but, as every Nambutiri must wear a pavitram while performing or
undergoing certain ceremonies, those who do not possess one of gold
wear one made of darbha grass. They do not say so, but I think the
ring of darbha grass is orthodox.

(2) Golden amulet-case fastened to a string round the waist, and
containing a figure (yantram) written or marked on a silver plate. He
had worn it three years, having put it on because he used to feel
hot during the cool season, and attributed the circumstance to the
influence of an evil spirit.

(3) Youth, aged 12. Wears a yak skin sash, an inch wide, over the
left shoulder, fastened at the ends by a thong of the same skin. He
put it on when he was seven, and will wear it till he is fifteen,
when he will have completed his course of Vedic study. A ring,
hanging to a string in front of his throat, called modiram, was put
on in the sixth month when he was named, and will be worn until he is
fifteen. The ears are pierced. He wears two amulets at the back, one
of gold, the other of silver. In each are some chakrams (Travancore
silver coins), and a gold leaf, on which a charm is inscribed. One
of the charms was prepared by a Mappilla, the other by a Nambutiri.

(4) Black spot edged with yellow in the centre of the forehead. Three
horizontal white stripes on the forehead. A dab on each arm, and a
stripe across the chest.

(5) Black spot near glabella, and two yellow horizontal stripes near
it. The same on the chest, with the spot between the lines.

(6) Red spot and white stripe on the forehead. A red dab over the
sternum, and on each arm in front of the deltoid.

(7) An oval, cream-coloured spot with red centre, an inch in greatest
length, over the glabella.

The stripes on the forehead and chest are generally made with sandal
paste. Rudraksha (nuts of Eloeocarpus Ganitrus) necklaces, mounted
in gold, are sometimes worn.

The thread worn by men over the left shoulder is made of a triple
string of country-grown cotton, and, unlike other Brahmans of Southern
India, no change is made after marriage. It may be changed on any
auspicious day. Brahmans of Southern India outside Malabar change
their thread once a year.

Concerning the habitations of the Nambutiris, Mr. Subramani Aiyar
writes as follows. "A Nambutiri's house stands within a compound
(grounds) of its own. Each house has its own name, by which the
members are known, and is called by the generic title of illam, the
term used by Brahmans, or mana, which is the reverential expression
of Sudras and others. Sometimes the two words are found combined,
e.g., Itamana illam. In the compound surrounding the house, trees
such as the tamarind, mango, and jak, grow in shady luxuriance. The
area of the compound is very extensive; in fact, no house in Malabar
is surrounded by a more picturesque or more spacious garden than that
of the Nambutiri. Plantains of all varieties are cultivated, and yams
of various kinds and peas in their respective seasons. A tank (pond)
is an inseparable accompaniment, and, in most Nambutiri houses, there
are three or four of them, the largest being used for bathing, and the
others for general and kitchen purposes. Whenever there is a temple
of any importance near at hand, the Nambutiri may prefer to bathe in
the tank attached to it, but his favourite ghat is always the tank
near his home, and owned by him. Wells are never used for bathing,
and a hot-water bath is avoided as far as possible, as plunging
in a natural reservoir would alone confer the requisite ablutional
purity. Towards the north-west corner of the house is located the
sarpakkavu or snake abode, one of the indispensables of a Malabar
house. The kavu is either an artificial jungle grown on purpose in
the compound, or a relic of the unreclaimed primeval jungle, which
every part of Malabar once was. Right in the centre of the kavu is
the carved granite image of the cobra, and several flesh-and-blood
representatives of the figure haunt the house, as if in recognition
of the memorial raised. In the centre of the compound is situated
the illam or mana, which is in most cases a costly habitat. All the
houses used until recently to be thatched as a protection against
the scorching heat of the tropical sun, which a tiled house would
only aggravate. In form the house is essentially a square building,
consisting of several courtyards in the centre, with rooms on all
sides. On the east or west of the courtyard, a room having the space
of two ordinary rooms serves as a drawing room and the dormitory of
the unmarried members of the house. The rest of the house is zenana
to the stranger. Right on the opposite side of the visitor's room,
beyond the central courtyard, is the arappura, of massive wood-work,
where the valuables are preserved. On either side of this are two
rooms, one of which serves as a storehouse, and the other as a
bed-room. The kitchen adjoins the visitor's room, and is tolerably
spacious. In the front, which is generally the east of the house,
is a spacious yard, square and flat, and leading to it is a flight of
steps, generally made of granite. These steps lead to a gate-house,
where the servants of the house keep watch at night. The whole house
is built of wood, and substantially constructed. Though the houses
look antiquated, they have a classical appearance all their own. To
the north-east is the gosala, where large numbers of oxen and cows
are housed. The furniture of a Nambutiri is extremely scanty. There
are several cots, some made of coir (cocoanut fibre), and others of
wooden planks. The kurmasana is the Nambutiri's devotional seat,
and consists of a jak (Artocarpus integrifolia) plank carved in
the form of a tortoise. Other seats, of a round or oblong shape,
are also used, and no Brahman addresses himself to his meal without
being seated on one of them. Every Brahman visitor is offered one,
and is even pressed to sit on it. When the writer went to a Brahman
house at Kalati, the native village of Sankaracharya, and wished the
hosts not to trouble themselves about a seat for him, he was told
that the contact of a Brahman's nates with the floor was harmful
to the house. Hanging cots, attached to the ceiling by chains of
iron, are common things in a Nambutiri's house, especially in the
bed-rooms. Skins of spotted deer, used to sit on during prayers,
also form part of the Nambutiri's furniture."

The Nambutiris follow the makkatayam law of inheritance from father
to son; not, however, precisely as do the other people who do so. Nor
is their system of inheritance the same as that of Brahmans to the
eastward (i.e., of Southern India generally), with whom the family
property may be divided up amongst the male members at the instance of
any one of them. The Nambutiri household is described by Mr. Subramani
Aiyar as representing a condition intermediate between the impartible
matriarchal form of the Nayars and the divided patriarchal form of the
other coast. Among the Nambutiris, the eldest male member of the family
is the Karanavan or manager of it, and has complete control over all
the property. The younger members of the family are entitled to nothing
but maintenance. The head of the family may be a female, provided there
is none of the other sex. The eldest son alone marries. The accepted
practice, as well as the recognised principle among the Nambutiris,
seems to be in consonance with the directions expounded by Manu, viz.--

Immediately on the birth of his first-born, a man is the father of a
son, and is free from the debt to the manes. That son is, therefore,
worthy to receive the whole estate.

That son alone, on whom he throws his debt, is begotten for (the
fulfilment of) the law. All the rest they consider the offspring
of desire.

As a father supports his sons, so let the eldest support his younger
brothers, and so let them, in accordance with the law, behave towards
their eldest brother as sons behave towards their father.

Should a Nambutiri eldest son die, the next marries, and so on. Women
join the family of their husband, and to this too her children
belong. Self-acquired property, that is property acquired by any junior
member of the family through his own efforts outside the taravad,
[92] lapses to the taravad at his death, unless he has disposed of
it in his lifetime. This is the custom, which our law has not yet
infringed. The taravad is the unit, and, as the senior male succeeds
to the management, it may happen that a man's sons do not succeed
directly as his heirs. The arrangement is an excellent one for the
material prosperity of the family, for there is no dispersion. Every
circumstance tends towards aggrandizement, and the family is restricted
to no more than a requisite number by one member only marrying, and
producing children. Impartibility is the fundamental principle. It
is seldom that a Nambutiri family comes to an end; and such a thing
as a Nambutiri's estate escheating to Government has been said on
eminent authority never to have been known. It happens sometimes
that there is no male member to produce progeny, and in such a case
the sarvasvadanam marriage is performed, by which a man of another
family is brought into the family and married to a daughter of it,
who, after the manner of the "appointed daughter" of old Hindu law,
hands on the property through her children. The man so brought in is
henceforth a member of the family which he has joined, and as such he
performs the sraddha or ceremonies to the dead. An exception to the
general rule of inheritance is that seventeen families of Payannur
in North Malabar follow the marumakkattayam system of inheritance,
through the female line. The other Nambutiris look askance at these,
and neither marry nor dine with them. It is supposed that they are
not pure bred, having Kshatriya blood in their veins.

Adoption among the Nambutiris is stated by Mr. Subramani Aiyar to be
of three kinds, called Pattu kaiyyal dattu, Chanchamata dattu, and
Kutivazhichcha dattu. "The first is the orthodox form. Pattukai means
ten hands, and indicates that five persons take part in the ceremony,
the two natural parents, the two adopted parents, and the son to be
adopted. The gotra and sutra of the natural family have to be the
same as those of the adoptive family. The son adopted may have had
his upanayanam already performed by his natural parents. An adoption
of this kind cannot be made without the permission of all the male
members of the family, of the Sapindas or Samanodakas who are distinct
blood relations, though some degrees removed. In the second form, the
adoption relieves the adopted son of all ceremonial duties towards
the natural parents. Involving, as it does, a position contrary to
the established ordinances of Sankaracharya, this kind of adoption is
not in favour. The third form is still less orthodox. The adoption is
made by a surviving widow, and mainly serves to keep up the lineage."

Liquor and flesh are strictly forbidden to the Nambutiris. Their staple
food is rice and curry. Upperi is a curry of chopped vegetables fried
in ghi (clarified butter), cocoanut or gingelly oil, seasoned with
gingelly (Sesamum indicum), salt, and jaggery (crude sugar). Aviyal
is another, composed of jak fruit mixed with some vegetables. Sweets
are sometimes eaten. Candied cakes of wheat or rice, and rice boiled
in milk with sugar and spices, are delicacies. Papadams (wafer-like
cakes) are eaten at almost every meal. The Nambutiri must bathe,
and pray to the deity before partaking of any meal. An offering of
rice is then made to the household fire, some rice is thrown to the
crows, and he sits down to eat. The food is served on a plantain
leaf or a bell-metal plate. It should be served by the wife; but,
if a man has other Nambutiris dining with him, it is served by men
or children. The sexes feed separately. Before a man rises from his
meal, his wife must touch the leaf or plate on which the food has
been served. The reason may lie in this. The remains of the food are
called echchil, and cannot be eaten by any one. Just before finishing
his meal and rising, the Nambutiri touches the plate or leaf with his
left hand, and at the same time his wife touches it with her right
hand. The food is then no longer echchil, and she may eat it. The
Nambutiri householder is said to be allowed by the Sastras, which
rule his life in every detail, to eat but one meal of rice a day--at
midday. He should not, strictly speaking, eat rice in the evening, but
he may do so without sinning heinously, and usually does. Fruit only
should be eaten in the evening. Women and children eat two or three
times in a day. A widow, however, is supposed to lead the life of a
Sanyasi, and eats only once a day. A Nambutiri may eat food prepared
by an east country Brahman (Pattar), or by an Embrantiri. In fact,
in the large illams, where many people are fed every day, the cooks
are generally Pattars in South Malabar. The Nambutiri woman is more
scrupulous, and will not touch food prepared by any one of a caste
inferior to her own, as the Pattar is considered to be. Tea and
coffee are objected to. The Sastras do not permit their use. At the
same time, they do not prohibit them, and some Nambutiris drink both,
but not openly. Persons observing vows are not allowed an oil bath,
to eat off bell-metal plates, or to eat certain articles of food. The
gourd called churakhai, palmyra fruit, and palmyra jaggery are taboo
to the Nambutiri at all times. Water-melons are eaten regularly during
the month Karkkataka, to promote health and prolong life.

In connection with the Nambutiri's dietary, Mr. Subramani Aiyar states
that "their food is extremely simple. As Camöens writes: [93]


    To crown their meal no meanest life expires.
    Pulse, fruit, and herb alone their food requires.


"Ghi is not in a great requisition. Gingelly oil never enters the
kitchen. Milk is not taken except as porridge, which goes by the name
of prathaman (first). A bolus-like preparation of boiled rice-flour
with cocoanut scrapings, called kozhakkatta, is in great favour,
and is known as Parasu Rama's palaharam, or the light refreshment
originally prescribed by Parasu Rama. Conji, or rice gruel, served up
with the usual accessories, is the Nambutiri's favourite luncheon. Cold
drinks are rarely taken. The drinking water is boiled, and flavoured
with coriander, cummin seeds, etc., to form a pleasant beverage."

The horse is a sacred animal, and cannot be kept. The cow, buffalo,
dog, and cat are the animals ordinarily kept in domestication; and
it is said that a parrot is sometimes taught to repeat Sanskrit slokas.

There are families, in which the business of the magician and
sorcerer is hereditary, chiefly in South Malabar and among the Chela
[94] Nambutiris, as those are termed who, in the turbulent period of
Tippu's invasion, were made Muhammadans by force. True, these returned
almost at once to their own religion, but a stigma attaches to them,
and they are not looked on as true Nambutiris.

It is extremely difficult to obtain reliable information regarding
magic or anything allied to it among any people, and most difficult
of all among the Nambutiris. They possess magic books, but they will
neither produce nor expound them. Hara Mekhala is the name of one
of these, which is most used. It is said that the sorcerer aims at
the following:--


    (1) Destruction (marana).
    (2) Subjection of the will of another (vasikarana).
    (3) Exorcism (uchchatana).
    (4) Stupefaction (stambhana).
    (5) Separation of friends (vidveshana).
    (6) Enticement as for love (mohana).


Of these, the first may be carried out in the following manner. A
figure representing the enemy to be destroyed is drawn on a small
sheet of metal (gold by preference), and to it some mystic diagrams
are added. It is then addressed with a statement that bodily injury
or the death of the person shall take place at a certain time. This
little sheet is wrapped up in another metal sheet or leaf (of gold if
possible), and buried in some place which the person to be injured or
destroyed is in the habit of passing. Should he pass over the place, it
is supposed that the charm will take effect at the time named. Instead
of the sheet of metal, a live frog or lizard is sometimes buried
within a cocoanut shell, after nails have been stuck into its eyes
and stomach. The deaths of the animal and the person are supposed to
take place simultaneously. For carrying out vasikarana, vidveshana,
and mohana, betel leaves, such as are ordinarily used for chewing, or
vegetables are somehow or other given to the victim, who unknowingly
takes them into his mouth. Exorcism may be treated as follows. If
a young woman is suffering from hysteria, and is supposed to be
possessed by an evil spirit, or by the discontented spirit of some
deceased ancestor, nervousness is excited by beating drums, blowing
conch-shells, and otherwise making a horrible noise close to her. When
the supreme moment is believed to have arrived, water is sprinkled
over the wretched woman, who is required to throw rice repeatedly on
certain diagrams on the ground, woven into which is a representation
of the goddess Durga, the ruler of evil spirits. An effigy of the evil
spirit is then buried in a copper vessel. By means of certain mantrams,
Hanuman or Kali is propitiated, and, with their aid, in some occult
manner, the position of buried treasure may be found. It is said
that the bones of a woman who has died immediately after childbirth,
and the fur of a black cat, are useful to the magician.

There are said to be two Nambutiris of good family, well known in
South Malabar, who are expert mantravadis or dealers in magic, and
who have complete control over Kuttichchattan, an evil mischievous
spirit, whose name is a household word in Malabar. He it is who sets
fire to houses, damages cattle, and teases interminably. Concerning
Kuttichchattan, Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes as follows. "The most
mischievous imp of Malabar demonology is an annoying, quip-loving
little spirit, as black as night, and about the size and nature of
a well-nourished twelve-year old boy. Some people say that they have
seen him, vis-à-vis, having a forelock. The nature and extent of its
capacity for evil almost beggar description. There are Nambutiris,
to whom these are so many missiles, which they throw at anybody they
choose. They are, like Ariel, little active things, and most willing
slaves of the master under whom they happen to be placed. Their
victim suffers from unbearable agony. His clothes take fire, his
food turns into ordure, his beverages become urine, stones fall in
showers on all sides of him, but curiously not on him, and his bed
becomes a literal bed of thorns. He feels like a lost man. In this
way, with grim delight, the spirit continues to torment his victim
by day as well as by night. But, with all this annoying mischief,
Kuttichchattan, or Boy Satan, does no serious harm. He oppresses and
harasses, but never injures. A celebrated Brahman of Changanacheri
is said to own more than a hundred of these Chattans. Household
articles and jewelry of value can be left on the premises of the homes
guarded by Chattan, and no thief dares to lay his hands on them. The
invisible sentry keeps diligent watch over his master's property,
and has unchecked powers of movement in any medium. As remuneration
for all these services, the Chattan demands nothing but food, but
that on a large scale. If starved, the Chattans would not hesitate to
remind the master of their power; but, if ordinarily cared for, they
would be his most willing drudges. By nature Chattan is more than a
malevolent spirit. As a safeguard against the infinite power secured
for the master by the Kuttichchattan, it is laid down that malign
acts committed through his instrumentality recoil on the prompter,
who either dies childless, or after frightful physical and mental
agony. Another method of oppressing humanity, believed to be in the
power of sorcerers, is to make men and women possessed by spirits;
women being more subject to their evil influence than men. Delayed
puberty, sterility, and still-births are not uncommon ills of a woman
possessed by a devil. Sometimes the spirits sought to be exorcised
refuse to leave the body of the victim, unless the sorcerer promises
them a habitation in the compound of his own house, and arranges
for daily offerings being given. This is agreed to as a matter of
unavoidable necessity, and money and lands are conferred upon the
Nambutiri mantravadi, to enable him to fulfil his promise."

A Nambutiri is not permitted to swear, or take oath in any way. He may,
however, declare so and so, holding the while his sacred thread between
the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, by way of invoking the
Gayatri in token of his sincerity. And he may call on the earth mother
to bear witness to his words, for she may, should he speak falsely,
relieve herself of him. The name of the Supreme Being is not used in
oath. Nambutiris have been known to take oath before a shrine, in order
to settle a point in a Civil Court, but it is not orthodox to do so.

Something has been said already concerning vows. Those who desire
offspring perform the vow called payasahavanam. Sacrifice is made
through fire (homam) to the Supreme Being. Homam is also vowed to
be done on a child's birthday, to ensure its longevity. Here we may
observe a contrast between the Nambutiri and a man of one of the
inferior castes. For, while the vow of the Nambutiri has assumed to
some extent the nature of propitiatory prayer, of which those low down
really know nothing, the other gives nothing until he has had the full
satisfaction of his vow. Mrityunjayam, or that which conquers death,
is another kind of homam in performance of a vow. A further one is
concerned with cleansing from any specific sin. Liberal presents
are made to Brahmans, when the vow is completed. In the vow called
rudrabhisheka the god Siva is bathed in consecrated water. It is
performed by way of averting misfortune. Monday is the day for it,
as it is supposed that on that day Siva amuses himself with Parvati
by dancing on Kailasa.

The custom observed by Nambutiris of letting the hair grow on the
head, face, and body, untouched by the razor, when a wife is enceinte
has been noticed already. A Nambutiri who has no male issue also
lets his hair grow in the same way for a year after the death of his
wife. Should there, however, be male issue, on the eldest son devolves
the duty of performing the ceremonies connected with the funeral of his
mother (or father), and it is he who remains unshaven for a year. In
such a case, the husband of a woman remains unshaven for twelve days
(and this seems to be usual), or until after the ceremony on the
forty-first day after death. The period during which the hair is
allowed to grow, whether for a death, a pregnant wife, or by reason
of a vow, is called diksha. During diksha, as well as during the
Brahmachari period, certain articles of food, such as the drumstick
vegetable, milk, chillies, gram, dhal, papadams, etc., are prohibited.

"Bathing," Mr.Subramani Aiyar writes, "is one of the most important
religious duties of all Hindus, and of Brahmans in particular. A
Nambutiri only wants an excuse for bathing. Every Nambutiri bathes
twice a day at least, and sometimes oftener. It is prohibited to do
so before sunrise, after which a bath ceases to be a religious rite
on the other coast. The use of a waist-cloth, the languti excepted,
during a bath in private or in public, is also prohibited. This
injunction runs counter to that of the Sutrakaras, who say 'Na
vivasanah snayat,' i.e., bathe not without clothing. The fastidious
sense of bath purity occasionally takes the form of a regular mania,
and receives the not inapt description of galappisachu or possession
by a water-devil. Never, except under extreme physical incapacity,
does a Nambutiri fail to bathe at least once a day." Before concluding
the bath, the cloth worn when it was begun, and for which another
has been substituted, is wrung out in the water. From this practice,
a patch of indurated skin between the thumb and first finger of the
right hand, where the cloth is held while wringing it, is commonly to
be seen. Almost every Nambutiri examined in North Malabar was marked
in this way.

The Nambutiris observe sixty-four anacharams, or irregular customs,
which are said to have been promulgated by the great reformer
Sankaracharya. These are as follows:--


     (1) You must not clean your teeth with sticks.
     (2) You must not bathe with cloths worn on your person.
     (3) You must not rub your body with the cloths worn on your
         person.
     (4) You must not bathe before sunrise.
     (5) You must not cook your food before you bathe.
     (6) Avoid the water kept aside during the night.
     (7) You must not have one particular object in view while you
         bathe.
     (8) The remainder of the water taken for one purpose must not be
         used for another ceremony.
     (9) You must bathe if you touch another, i.e., a Sudra.
    (10) You must bathe if you happen to be near another, i.e.,
         a Chandala.
    (11) You must bathe if you touch polluted wells or tanks.
    (12) You must not tread over a place that has been cleaned with
         a broom, unless it is sprinkled with water.
    (13) A particular mode of marking the forehead with ashes
         (otherwise described as putting three horizontal lines on the
         forehead with pure burnt cow-dung).
    (14) You must repeat charms yourself. (You must not allow someone
         else to do it.)
    (15) You must avoid cold rice, etc. (food cooked on the previous
         day).
    (16) You must avoid leavings of meals by children.
    (17) You must not eat anything that has been offered to Siva.
    (18) You must not serve out food with your hands.
    (19) You must not use the ghi of buffalo cows for burnt offerings.
    (20) You must not use buffalo milk or ghi for funeral offerings.
    (21) A particular mode of taking food (not to put too much in
         the mouth, because none must be taken back).
    (22) You must not chew betel while you are polluted.
    (23) You must observe the conclusion of the Brahmachari period
         (the samavarttanam ceremony). This should be done before
         consorting with Nayar women.
    (24) You must give presents to your guru or preceptor. (The
         Brahmachari must do so.)
    (25) You must not read the Vedas on the road.
    (26) You must not sell women (receive money for girls given
         in marriage).
    (27) You must not fast in order to obtain fulfilment of your
         desires.
    (28) Bathing is all that a woman should observe if she touches
         another in her menses. (A woman touching another who is in
         this state should, it is said, purify herself by bathing.
         A man should change his thread, and undergo sacred ablution.
         Women, during their periods, are not required to keep aloof,
         as is the custom among non-Malabar Brahmans.)
    (29) Brahmans should not spin cotton.
    (30) Brahmans should not wash cloths for themselves.
    (31) Kshatriyas should avoid worshipping the lingam.
    (32) Brahmans should not accept funeral gifts from Sudras.
    (33) Perform the anniversary ceremony of your father (father's
         father, mother's father and both grandmothers).
    (34) Anniversary ceremonies should be performed on the day of the
         new moon (for the gratification of the spirits of the
         deceased).
    (35) The death ceremony should be performed at the end of the year,
         counting from the day of death.
    (36) The ceremony to be performed till the end of the year after
         death (Diksha is apparently referred to).
    (37) Sraddhas should be performed with regard to the stars
         (according to the astronomical, not the lunar year).
    (38) The death ceremony should not be performed until after the
         pollution caused by childbirth has been removed.
    (39) A particular mode of performing sraddha by an adopted son
         (who should do the ceremony for his adopted parents as well
         as for his natural parents. Among non-Malabar Brahmans, an
         adopted son has nothing to do with the ceremonies for his
         natural father, from whose family he has become entirely
         disconnected).
    (40) The corpse of a man should be burnt in his own compound.
    (41) Sanyasis should not look at (see) women.
    (42) Sanyasis should renounce all worldly pleasures.
    (43) Sraddha should not be performed for deceased Sanyasis.
    (44) Brahman women must not look at any other persons besides
         their own husbands.
    (45) Brahman women must not go out, unless accompanied by women
         servants.
    (46) They should wear only white clothing.
    (47) Noses should not be pierced.
    (48) Brahmans should be put out of their caste if they drink
         any liquor.
    (49) Brahmans should forfeit their caste, if they have intercourse
         with other Brahman women besides their wives.
    (50) The consecration of evil spirits should be avoided. (Otherwise
         said to be that worship of ancestors should not be done in
         temples.)
    (51) Sudras and others are not to touch an idol.
    (52) Anything offered to one god should not be offered to another.
    (53) Marriage etc., should not be done without a burnt offering
         (homam).
    (54) Brahmans should not give blessings to each other.
    (55) They should not bow down to one another. (Among non-Malabar
         Brahmans, juniors receive benediction from seniors. The
         Nambutiris do not allow this.)
    (56) Cows should not be killed in sacrifice.
    (57) Do not cause distraction, some by observing the religious
         rites of Siva, and others those of Vishnu.
    (58) Brahmans should wear only one sacred thread.
    (59) The eldest son only is entitled to marriage.
    (60) The ceremony in honour of a deceased ancestor should be
         performed with boiled rice.
    (61) Kshatriyas, and those of other castes, should perform funeral
         ceremonies to their uncles.
    (62) The right of inheritance among Kshatriyas, etc., goes
         towards nephews.
    (63) Sati should be avoided. (This also includes directions to
         widows not to shave the head, as is the custom among
         non-Malabar Brahmans.)


In connection with the foregoing, Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes that
the manners and customs of the Nambutiris differ from those of the
other communities in several marked particulars. They go by the
specific name of Keralacharas, which, to the casual observer, are
so many anacharas or mal-observances, but to the sympathetic student
are not more perhaps than unique acharas. A verse runs to the effect
that they are anacharas, because they are not acharas (observances)
elsewhere. (Anyatracharanabhavat anacharaitismritah.) Of these
sixty-four acharas, about sixty will be found to be peculiar to
Malabar. These may be grouped into the following six main classes:--


    (1) Personal hygiene.--Bathing.
    (2) Eating.--The rules about food, either regarding the cooking
    or eating of it are very religiously observed. Absolute fasting
    is unknown in Malabar.
    (3) Worship of the Gods and manes.--The anniversary of a person's
    death is regulated not by the age of the moon at the time, but
    by the star, unlike on the other coast. Again, a birth pollution
    has priority over other observances, even death ceremonies. A
    son who has to perform the funeral ceremonies of his father
    is rendered unfit for that solemn function by an intervening
    birth pollution. An adopted son is not, as in other parts
    of India, relieved of the sraddha obligations to his natural
    parents. Sectarian controversies in regard to Siva and Vishnu are
    strictly tabooed. The establishment of Hinduism on a non-sectarian
    basis was the sacred mission of Sankaracharya's life. A single
    triple string (sacred thread) is worn irrespective of civil
    condition. This is contrary to the usage of the other coast, where
    married Brahmans wear two or three triplets. Sprinkling water is an
    essential purificatory act after the use of the broom. An isolated
    rule requires dead bodies to be burnt in private compounds, and
    not in consecrated communal sites, as among the east coast people.
    (4) Conduct in society.--Chastity is jealously guarded by the
    imposition of severe ostracism on adulterers. Formal salutation,
    and even namaskaras and anugrahas, or prostration before and
    blessing by seniors, are prescribed. This is a striking point of
    difference between Malabar and the rest of India, and is probably
    based on the esoteric teaching of universal oneness.
    (5) Asramas or stages of life.--It is distinctly prescribed that
    a Brahman should formally conclude the Brahmachari asrama, and
    that presents or dakshina to the gurus should be the crowning
    act. The asura or bride-sale form of marriage is prohibited--a
    prohibition which, in the case of the Nambutiris, is absolutely
    unnecessary as matters now stand. An injunction in the reverse
    direction against the ruinous tyranny of a bride-penalty would
    be an anxiously sought relief to the strugglings of many an
    indigent bride's father. The special law of Malabar, under which
    the eldest son is alone entitled to be married, has already been
    referred to. The anchorite stage comes in for regulation by the
    Manu of Kerala. The eyes of a Sanyasin should never rest on a
    woman even for a second. This rule, which, if it errs at all,
    only does so on the side of safety, is not observed elsewhere,
    as the stage of a Sanyasin is expected to be entered only after
    the complete subjugation of the passions. No aradhana (worship)
    sraddhas are performed for them, as is done in other parts. The
    soul of the Sanyasin is freed from the bondage of Karma and the
    chance of recurring birth, and has only to be remembered and
    worshipped, unlike the ordinary Jivan or still enslaved soul,
    whose salvation interests have to be furthered by propitiatory
    Karmas on the part of its earthly beneficiaries.
    (6) Regulation of women's conduct.--Women are not to gaze
    on any face but that of their wedded lord, and never go out
    unattended. They are to wear only white clothes, and are never
    to pierce their noses for the wearing of jewelry. Death on
    the husband's funeral pyre is not to be the sacred duty of
    the Nambutiri widow, who is advised to seek in the life of a
    self-sacrificing Sanyasi a sure means of salvation.


In affairs of the world, time is reckoned by the ordinary Malabar
kollam or solar year, the era beginning from the date of the departure
of the last Perumal, a sovereign of the western coast, to Arabia
in 825. The months of the kollam year are Mesha (Metam), Vrishabha
(Itavam), Mithuna, Karkkataka, Sihma (Chingga), Kanya (Kanni), Tula,
Vrischika, Dhanu, Makara, Kumbha, Mina. In affairs of religion, time
is reckoned by the salivahana saka, or lunar year, the months of
which are Chaitra, Vaisakha, Jeshta, Ashadha, Sravana, Bhadrapata,
Asvavuja, Margasirsha, Paushya, Magha, Phalguna. Every three years
or thereabouts, there is added another month, called Adhika.

Some of the festivals kept by the Nambutiris are as follows: --


    (1) Sivaratri.--Worship of Siva on the last day of Magha. Fast
    and vigil at night, and puja.
    (2) Upakarma.--The regular day for putting on a new sacred
    thread, after having cleansed away the sins of the year through
    the prayaschittam, in which ceremony the five sacred products of
    the cow (milk, curds, ghi, urine, and dung) are partaken of. It
    is done on the 15th of Sravana.
    (3) Nagara panchimi.--The serpent god is worshipped, and bathed
    in milk. On the 5th of Sravana. This festival is common in
    Southern India.
    (4) Gokulashtami.--Fast and vigil at night, to celebrate the birth
    of Krishna. Puja at night, on the eighth day of the latter half
    of Sravana.
    (5) Navaratri.--The first nine days of Asvayuja are devoted to
    this festival in honour of Durga.
    (6) Dipavali.--Observed more particularly in North Malabar on
    the anniversary of the day on which Krishna slew the rakshasa
    Naraka. Everyone takes an oil bath. On the last day of Asvayuja.
    (7) Ashtkalam.--The pitris (ancestors) of the family are
    propitiated by offerings of pinda (balls of rice) and tarpana
    (libations of water). On the new moon day of Dhanu.
    (8) Vinayaka Chaturthi.--The elephant-headed god of learning is
    worshipped. At the end of the ceremony, the idol is dropped into
    a well. On the 4th of Bhadrapada.
    (9) Puram.--The god of love, represented by a clay image, is
    propitiated by unmarried girls with offerings of flowers seven
    days successively. The image is finally given, together with some
    money, to a Brahman, who drops it into a well. The flowers which
    have been used to decorate the image are placed by the girls at
    the foot of a jak tree. Contrary to the custom of other Brahmans,
    Nambutiri girls are under no disgrace, should they attain puberty
    while unmarried. In the month of Mina.
    (10) Onam.--The great festival of Malabar, kept by everyone, high
    and low, with rejoicing. It is the time of general good-will, of
    games peculiar to the festival, and of distribution of new yellow
    cloths to relations and dependants. It is supposed to commemorate
    the descent of Maha Bali, or Mabali, to see his people happy.
    (11) Tiruvadira.--Fast and vigil in honour of Siva, observed by
    women only. In the month of Dhanu.
    (12) Vishu.--The solar new year's day. A very important festival in
    Malabar. It is the occasion for gifts, chiefly to superiors. The
    first thing seen by a Nambutiri on this day should be something
    auspicious. His fate during the year depends on whether the first
    object seen is auspicious, or the reverse.


The following festivals are referred to by Mr. Subramani Aiyar:--


    (1) Trikkatta or Jyeshta star.--In the month of Chingam. Food is
    cooked, and eaten before sunrise by all the married male members,
    as well as by every female member of a family. Though not of the
    previous day, the food goes by the name of Trikkatta pazhayatu,
    or the old food of the Trikkatta day. The import of this festival,
    when the specific ordinance of Sankara against food cooked before
    sunrise is contravened, is not known.
    (2) Makam or Magha star.--In the month of Kanni. On this day, the
    cows of the house are decorated with sandal paste and flowers,
    and given various kinds of sweetmeats. The ladies of the house
    take ten or twelve grains of paddy (rice), anoint them with oil,
    and, after bathing in turmeric-water, consecrate the grains by the
    recitation of certain hymns, and deposit them in the ara or safe
    room of the house. If there are in the house any female members
    born under the Makam star, the duty of performing the ceremony
    devolves on them in particular. This is really a harvest festival,
    and has the securing of food-grains in abundance (dhanyasamriddhi)
    for its temporal object.
    (3) All the days in the month of Thulam.--In this month, young
    unmarried girls bathe every day before 4 A.M., and worship
    Ganapathi (Vignesvara), the elephant god.
    (4) Gauri puja.--In the month of Vrischigam. This is done on
    any selected Monday in the month. The ceremony is known as
    ammiyum vilakkaum toduka, or touching the grinding-stone and
    lamp. The married women of the house clean the grinder and the
    grinding-stone, and place a bronze mirror by its side. They then
    proceed to worship Gauri, whose relation to Siva represents to
    the Hindu the ideal sweetness of wedded life.
    (5) Tiruvatira or Ardra star.--In the month of Dhanu. This is a
    day of universal festivity and rejoicing. For seven days previous
    to it, all the members of the house bathe in the early morning,
    and worship Siva. This bathing is generally called tutichchukuli
    or shivering bath, as the mornings are usually cold and intensely
    dewy. On the day previous to Tiruvatira, ettangnati, or eight
    articles of food purchased in the bazar, are partaken of. Such a
    repast is never indulged in on any other day. The Tiruvatira day is
    spent in the adoration of Siva, and the votaries take only a single
    meal (orikkal). Night vigils are kept both by the wife and husband
    seated before a lighted fire, which represents the sakshi (witness)
    of Karmas and contracts. (Hence the common term agnisakshi.) They
    then chew a bundle of betel leaves, not less than a hundred in
    number. This is called kettuvettila tinnuka. As the chewing of
    betel is taboo except in the married state, this function is
    believed to attest and seal their irrefragable mutual fidelity.
    (6) The new moon day in the month of Karkatakam.--On the evening
    of this day, various kinds of sweetmeats are cooked, and, before
    the family partakes of them, a portion of each is placed in the
    upper storey as an offering to rats, by which their divine master,
    Ganapathi, is believed to be propitiated.


The Nambutiri's business, which he has in hand, will be concluded
to his satisfaction, should he on starting hear or see vocal or
instrumental music, a harlot, a dancing-girl, a virgin, a litter,
an elephant, a horse, a bull or cow tethered, curds, raw rice of a
reddish colour, sugar-cane, a water-pot, flowers, fruits, honey, or two
Brahmans. Bad omens, which, if seen by a householder the first thing
in the morning, mean trouble of some kind for the rest of the day,
are a crow seen on the left hand, a kite on the right, a snake, a cat,
a jackal, a hare, an empty vessel, a smoky fire, a bundle of sticks,
a widow, a man with one eye, or a man with a big nose. A Nambutiri,
seeing any of these things, when setting out on a journey, will turn
back. Should he, however, at once see a lizard on the eastern wall of
a house, he may proceed. To sneeze once is a good omen for the day; to
sneeze twice is a bad one. An evil spirit may enter the mouth while one
is yawning, so, to avert such a catastrophe, the fingers are snapped,
and kept snapping until the yawn is over, or the hand is held in front
of the mouth. But this idea, and the custom of snapping the fingers,
are by no means peculiar to the Nambutiris.

The Nambutiris look on a voyage across the sea with horror, and no
Nambutiri has ever yet visited England.

A Nayar should not come nearer than six paces to a Nambutiri, a man of
the barber caste nearer than twelve paces, a Tiyan than thirty-six,
a Malayan than sixty-four, and a Pulaiyan than ninety-six. Malabar
is, indeed, the most conservative part of Southern India. The man
of high caste shouts occasionally as he goes along, so that the low
caste man may go off the road, and allow him to pass unpolluted. And
those of the lowest castes shout as they go, to give notice of their
pollution-bearing presence, and, learning the command of the man of
high caste, move away from the road. It is common to see people of
the inferior castes travelling parallel to the road, but not daring
to go along it. They do not want to. It is not because they are
forced off the road. Custom clings to them as to the Nayar or to the
Nambutiri. But even this is undergoing modification.

In connection with marriage, three chief rules are observed. The
contracting parties must not be of the same gotra; they must not be
related to each other through father or mother; and the bridegroom
must be the eldest son of the family. It is said that there are seven
original gotras, called after the sages Kamsha, Kasyapa, Bharadvaja,
Vatsya, Kaundinya, Atri, and Tatri; and that other gotras have
grown out of these. Relationship is said by some to cease after
the fourth generation, but this is disputed. The bride's dowry is
always heavy. The wife joins her husband's gotra, forsaking her own
altogether. Women may remain unmarried without prejudice. Needless to
say, this has the reverse of favour with Brahmans outside Malabar. But
the Nambutiri girl or woman, who has not been married, is not allowed
to disappear altogether from the world without at least the semblance
of marriage, for, at her death, some part of the marriage ceremony is
performed on her person. The tali is tied. In like manner, a dead Toda
girl is not allowed to go to her last rest unmarried. Infant marriage,
which is the rule with other Brahmans, is said to be unknown among
the Nambutiris. Mr. Justice K. Narayana Marar, however, writes [95]
that he is "not prepared to assert that infant marriage is unknown
among Nambudris, and that marriages are always celebrated before
puberty. There are instances, though rare, of infant marriages among
them." When a girl is ten years old, or a little more, her father
thinks of finding a husband for her. Property alone is the real thing
to be considered. Every detail bearing on advantage to the family
through the alliance is carefully thought out. Among the Malayalis
generally, the young man with University degrees has command of the
marriage market, but to the Nambutiri these are of no account. When the
girl's father has fixed on a likely young man, he gets his horoscope,
and confers with a Vadhyar concerning the suitability or agreement
of the young man's horoscope with that of his daughter. Should the
decision of the Vadhyar be favourable, the young man's father is
invited to the house on an auspicious day, and the two fathers,
together with some friends, talk the matter over. In the presence
of all, the Vadhyar announces the agreement of the horoscopes of
the pair whose marriage is in prospect. The dowry of the bride is
then fixed. Probably many days have been occupied already, before the
fathers can agree as to the settlement of the dowry. When this has been
done, the Vadhyar consults the heavenly bodies, and appoints the day on
which the marriage ceremonies should be begun. There is then a feast
for all present. A Nambutiri would be in very bad circumstances if he
did not give at least a thousand rupees with his daughter. He should
give much more, and does, if he possibly can. The ceremonies connected
with marriage are supposed to occupy a year, but they are practically
completed within ten days. They open with a party leaving the bride's
illam, to invite the bridegroom and his party to the wedding. At the
house of the bridegroom, the Vadhyar is given about eight fanams [96]
(money) by both parties. The return to the bride's illam is a sort
of noisy procession composed of the bridegroom with his friends,
Nayar women under big cadjan (palm leaf) umbrellas, a number of
Nayars, some of whom indulge in sword play with swords and shields,
and Nambutiris versed in the Sastras. The bridegroom, who is the chief
figure in the crowd, has a string (the usual kankanam) tied round his
right wrist to protect him from evil spirits, and carries a bamboo with
sixteen joints symbolic of the married state, a mirror for good luck,
an arrow to guard the bride against evil spirits, four cloths, and a
tali. At the gate of the bride's illam, the procession is met by some
Nayar women dressed as Nambutiri women, who, being unable to come out
and welcome the bridegroom, do so by proxy. These women wave a light
in front of his face, and offer ashtamangalyam--a plate on which are
plantain, betel leaves, a cocoanut, and other articles. On this day,
the aupasana agni, or sacred fire, is prepared in the courtyard of the
bride's illam. A square pit is made, and fire is made with a piece of
wood of the jak tree and of the pipal. This fire is rendered sacred
by some mystic rites. It is kept burning throughout the marriage,
and is preserved until the death of the future husband and wife in
one of two ways:--


    (1) keeping a lamp lighted at the fire burning perpetually;
    (2) heating in the fire a piece of wood (plasa or palasa) or dharba
    grass. The wood or grass is put away, and, when the aupasana agni
    is to be revived, is lighted in a fire of jak and pipal wood,
    while certain mantrams (consecrated formulæ) are repeated.


The body of the bridegroom (and, I think, of the bride should she die
first) should be burnt in the aupasana agni prepared on the first
day of the wedding. The aupasana agni is, as it were, a witness
to the marriage. In the courtyard, the nandimukham ceremony is
performed for propitiation of the minor deities and the pitris
(spirits of deceased ancestors). A pot containing sacred or
consecrated water, a piece of sandalwood, a piece of gold, flowers,
raw rice, and some fruits are the apparent object of adoration. It
is called kalas--the kalasam of the Tamil and Telugu countries--and
is a common symbol of the deity. According to Monier Williams, [97]
it should be worshipped thus. "In the mouth of the water-vessel
abideth Vishnu, in its neck is Rudra, in its lower part is Brahma,
while the whole company of the mothers are congregated in its
middle part. O! Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada,
Sindhu and Kaveri, be present in this water." A part of the
aforesaid ceremony (nandimukham) is called the punyahavachana,
for which the bridegroom repeats certain hymns after the Vadhyar,
and is sprinkled with water from the kalas. While all this is being
done in the courtyard, the very same ceremony is performed within
the house in the presence of the bride, whose father does inside
the house what the bridegroom is doing outside. At the conclusion
of the ceremony, the tali is tied on the bride's neck. Then two
of the cloths brought by the bridegroom are sent inside, and are
touched by the bride. After she has touched them, they are again
brought out, and the bridegroom puts them on. He touches the other
two cloths, which are taken inside, and worn by the bride. A feast
(ayanium) is the next item. The bride and bridegroom eat their
share of it in separate rooms. Then comes the marriage proper. The
bride's father washes the bridegroom's feet, while a Nayar woman
waves a light (ayiram tiri or thousand lights) before his face,
and conducts him to the hall prepared for the wedding. In this
is a mantapam, or sort of raised seat, having four pillars and a
covering roof. The pillars of the mantapam, and the ceiling of
the hall, are covered with red cloth (red being an auspicious
colour), and there are festoons of mango leaves. To one side
of the mantapam is a screen, behind which stand the Nambutiri
women of the household, looking at the scene in the hall through
holes. The bride and bridegroom are led to the mantapam, the former
following the latter screened from the general gaze by a big cadjan
umbrella. She hands him a garland, and, in doing so, she should not
touch his hand. He puts on the garland. Vedic hymns are chanted,
and the pair are brought face to face for the first time. This
is called mukhadarsanam, or seeing the face. The bridegroom leads
the bride three times round the fire and water jar, moving round
to the right, repeating a mantram, which is rendered as follows
by Monier Williams. [98] "I am male, thou art female. Come,
let us marry, let us possess offspring. United in affection,
illustrious, well disposed towards each other, let us live for a
hundred years." Each time the bridegroom leads the bride round, he
causes her to mount a mill-stone, saying "Ascend thou this stone,
and be thou firm as this rock. [99]" Then, at a moment supposed
to be auspicious, water is poured on the hands of the bridegroom,
signifying that the girl and her dowry have been handed over to
him. The Nambutiri women behind the screen, and the Nayar women
in the hall, utter a shrill cry "like that of the Vaikura." The
fire here mentioned is probably taken from the original aupasana
agni. Holding the bride by the hand, the bridegroom leads her
seven steps--one for force, two for strength, three for wealth,
four for well-being, five for offspring, six for the seasons, and
seven as a friend. He tells her to be devoted to him, and to bear
him many sons, who may live to a good old age. This ceremony is
called the saptapadi (seven steps). A homam is then performed. It
is said that the fire used on this occasion must be preserved
until the death of the bridegroom, and used at the cremation of
his body. A feast is the next thing. When it is over, the bride's
father takes her on his lap, asks his son-in-law to treat her well,
and formally hands her over to him. The bridegroom promises to do
so, and takes his wife by the hand. Then there is a procession
to the bridegroom's illam, the bride being carried in a litter,
and the bridegroom walking and carrying the sacrificial fire. So
ends the first day. It seems that the newly-married couple live
apart for the next three days, during which the bride is initiated
into household duties. The only daily ceremony is the homam, which
is done by the pair after bathing, and before taking food. On
the fourth day there is a ceremony, in which the bride plants
a jasmine cutting, by way of symbolising help to her husband in
the performance of his religious duties. At night the couple are
conducted to the bridal chamber by the Vadhyar. The bed is merely a
grass mat, or a common country blanket, covered with a white sheet,
and having a little ridge of rice and paddy, signifying plenty,
round the edge. The Vadhyar withdraws, and the bridegroom shuts
the door. [100] The Vadhyar outside cites appropriate passages from
the sacred writings, which are repeated by the bridegroom. On the
fifth day, the bride and bridegroom anoint each other with oil,
and the latter combs the hair of the former. Then, before bathing,
they catch some little fish called manatt kani (eyes looking up)
which are found in pools, with a cloth used as a net. While this is
being done, a Brahmachari asks the bridegroom "Did you see a cow and
a son?" Pointing to the fishes caught in the cloth, the bridegroom
replies "Yes, they are here." This is said to be suggestive of progeny,
fishes being emblematic of fertility. Homam is then done. At night,
the bridegroom adorns the bride with flowers, and makes her look into
a mirror, while he recites mantrams suitable to the occasion. From
the sixth to the ninth day there is practically nothing in the way
of ceremonial. And, as that proper to the tenth day is invariably
done on the sixth day, the ceremony may be said to conclude on the
night of the sixth day. A few Brahmans are fed to please the pitris,
and the couple go to a jak tree, under which some rice, curds, and
ghi are placed on kusa grass, and an offering is made of flowers and
sandalwood or powder. The kankanam, bamboo staff, arrow, and mirror
are given to the Vadhyar, and the wedding is over.

Sir W. W. Hunter [101] speaks of the Nambutiris as "a despised class,"
they having had fishermen ancestors. The little ceremony of catching
fish, which is a very important item in the marriage rites, may look
like preservation in meaningless ceremonial of something real in the
past, but it only shows that, in an endeavour to interpret ceremonial,
we must be far from hasty. Among the Shivalli Brahmans of South Canara,
the marriage mat is taken to a tank in procession. The bride and
bridegroom make a pretence of catching fish, and, with linked fingers,
touch their foreheads. It is recorded, in the Manual of South Canara,
that "all Tulu chronicles agree in ascribing the creation of Malabar
and Canara, or Kerala, Tuluva, and Haiga, to Parasu Rama, who reclaimed
from the sea as much land as he could cover by hurling his battle-axe
from the top of the western ghauts. According to Tulu traditions,
after a quarrel with Brahmans who used to come to him periodically
from Ahi-Kshetra, Parasu Rama procured new Brahmans for the reclaimed
tract by taking the nets of some fishermen, and making a number of
Brahmanical threads with which he invested the fishermen, and thus
turned them into Brahmans, and retired to the mountains to meditate,
after informing them that, if they were in distress, and called on
him, he would come to their aid. After the lapse of some time, during
which they suffered no distress, they were curious to know if Parasu
Rama would remember them, and called upon him in order to find out. He
promptly appeared, but punished their thus mocking him by cursing them,
and causing them to revert to their old status of Sudras."

A more detailed account of the marriage ceremonial is given in
the Gazetteer of Malabar, which may well be quoted. "The first
preliminaries in arranging a Nambudiri marriage are the inevitable
comparison of horoscopes, and the settlement of the dowry. When
these have been satisfactorily concluded, an auspicious day for the
wedding is selected in consultation with the astrologer. On that day,
the bridegroom, before he starts from his illam, partakes with his
relatives and friends of a sumptuous repast called the ayani un. A
similar feast is held simultaneously at the bride's house. On leaving
the illam, as he crosses the threshold, and indeed on all occasions
of importance, the bridegroom must be careful to put his right foot
first. He also mutters mantrams of an auspicious nature, called mangala
sutrangal. As he passes out of the gate, he is met by a bevy of Nayar
ladies, carrying the eight lucky articles (ashtamangalyam). These
are a grandha, a washed cloth, a cheppu or rouge-box, some rice,
a val kannadi or metal hand-mirror, some kunkumam (crimson powder),
chanthu (ointment of sandal, camphor, musk and saffron), and mashi
(bdellium or any eye salve). On his journey to the bride's illam,
he is preceded by a noisy procession of Nayars, armed with swords and
lacquered shields, who constitute his agambadi or body-guard, and by
Nambudri friends and relatives, one of whom carries a lighted lamp. At
the gate of the bride's illam he is met by a band of Nayar women,
dressed like antarjanams, and carrying the ashtamangalyam and lighted
lamps. The bridegroom enters the inner court-yard (nadumittam), and
takes his seat in the usual eastward position. The bride's father comes
and sits opposite him, and, clasping his right hand, formally invites
him to bathe and wed his daughter, an invitation which he formally
accepts. After his bath, he returns clad in fresh clothes, and wearing
a ring of dharba or kusa grass (Cynodon Dactylon), and takes his seat
in the room adjoining the porch (pumukham), called purattalam. He
then makes an offering of a few fanams (money) to his family deities,
performs Ganapathi puja (worship of the elephant god), and presents
four or five Nambudris with a few fanams each, and with betel leaf
and areca nut. This is called asramapischetha prayaschittam, and is
in expiation of any sins into which he may have been betrayed during
his bachelor days. Similar gifts are also made first to two Nambudris
of any gotra considered as representing the deities called Visvadvas,
and then to two others of different gotras representing the deceased
ancestors or Pitris. The last gift is called Nandimukham. Meanwhile,
within the house the bride is conducted to the vadakkini room,
veiled in an old cloth, and carrying a piece of bell-metal shaped
like a hand-mirror (val kannadi). Her father, after washing his feet
and putting on a darbha ring, comes and performs Ganapathi puja,
and repeats more or less the same ritual that has been performed
without. The bride is then sprinkled with holy water by her father
and four other Nambudiris. The tali or marriage symbol is brought
in a brass vessel containing holy water, and laid near the idol to
which the daily domestic worship is paid; and, after further offerings
to Ganapathi, the bridegroom is summoned to enter the illam. Before
doing so he purifies himself, taking off the darbha ring, making the
'caste marks' with holy ashes (bhasmam), washing his feet, replacing
the ring, and being sprinkled with holy water by four Nambudiris--a
form of ritual which recurs constantly in all ceremonies. He enters
the nadumittam, preceded by a Nambudiri carrying a lighted lamp, and
takes his seat on a wooden stool (pidam) in the middle of the court
where the bride's father makes obeisance to him, and is given four
double lengths of cloth (kaccha), which the bridegroom has brought
with him. They are taken to the bride, who puts on two of them, and
returns two for the bridegroom to wear. The bridegroom then goes to the
kizhakkini, where he prepares what may be called the "altar." He smears
part of the floor in front of him with cow-dung and then, with a piece
of jack-wood (Artocarpus integrifolia), called sakalam, draws a line
at the western side of the place so prepared, and at right angles to
this line five more, one at each end, but not actually touching it,
and three between these. He then places the pieces of jack-wood on
the altar, and ignites it with fire brought from the hearth of the
bride's illam. He feeds the flame with chips of plasu or chamatha
(Butea frondosa). This fire is the aupasana agni, regarded as the
witness to the marriage rite. It must be kept alight--not actually,
but by a pious fiction [102]--till the parties to the marriage die,
and their funeral pyre must be kindled from it. Three pieces of plasu
called paridhi, and eighteen pieces called udhmam, tied together by
a string of darbha, are placed on the northern side of the altar on
two pieces of jack-wood; and there are also brought and placed round
the altar four blades of darbha grass, a small bell-metal vessel,
an earthenware pot full of water, a pair of grind-stones (ammi and
ammikuzha), a small winnowing fan containing parched paddy (malar),
and a copper vessel of ghee (clarified butter) with a sacrificial ladle
made of plasu. Meanwhile, the bride's father ties the tali round her
neck in the vadakkini, and her mother gives her a garland of tulasi
(Ocimum sanctum). She is conducted to the kizhakkini, preceded by a
Nambutiri carrying a lamp called ayyira tiri (thousand wicks), and is
made to stand facing the bridegroom on the north or north-east of the
altar. This is called mukha-dharsanam (face-beholding). She gives the
garland to the bridegroom. Now comes the central rite of this elaborate
ceremonial, the udaga-purva-kannyaka-dhanam, or gift of a maiden with
water. The bride and her father stand facing west, and the bridegroom
facing them. All three stretch out their right hands, so that the
bride's hand is between those of her father and the bridegroom,
which are above and below hers respectively. A Nambutiri Othikan or
ritual expert pours water thrice into the father's hand. The latter
each time pours it into his daughter's hand, and then, grasping her
hand, pours it into the bridegroom's hand. The dowry is then given
to the bride, who hands it over to the bridegroom. She then passes
between him and the fire, and sits on an amana palaga [103] on the
east of the altar, while the bridegroom sits on another palaga on her
left, and burns the udhmams (except one piece of plasu and the darbha
string used to tie the bundle), and makes an oblation of ghee called
agharam. The next rite is called Panigrahanam. The bridegroom rises
from his seat, turns to the right, and stands facing the bride, who
remains seated, holding the mirror in her left hand. She stretches
out her right hand palm upwards, with the fingers closed and bent
upwards. He grasps it, and sits down again. A brother of the bride
now comes and takes the mirror from the bride, puts it on a palaga,
and professes to show her her own reflection in its surface. Then
the bridegroom pours a little ghee into her joined hands, to which
the bride's brother adds two handfuls of paddy from the winnowing
basket, and the bridegroom then brushes the paddy from her hands
into the fire. This is called the Lajahomam. At its conclusion,
bride and bridegroom perform a pradakshinam round the fire, passing
outside the water-pot but not the grindstone and fan. Next comes
the important piece of ceremonial called Asmarohanam, symbolising
immutability. The bride and bridegroom stand west of the grindstones,
and the bridegroom, taking her feet one by one, places them on the
stones, and then grasps feet and stones with both hands. Lajahomam,
pradakshinam, and asmarohanam are each repeated thrice. Then comes the
rite called Saptapadi or seven paces. The bridegroom leads his bride
seven steps towards the north-east, touching her right foot with his
right hand as he does so. They then pass between the grindstones and
the fire, and seat themselves on the west of the earthen pot facing
east, the bride behind the bridegroom; and the latter performs a
somewhat acrobatic feat which it must be difficult to invest with any
dignity. He bends backwards, supporting himself by placing the palms
of his hands on the ground behind him, until he can touch with the top
of his head that of the bride, who bends forward to facilitate the
process. After this, the bridegroom sprinkles himself and the bride
with water from the earthen pot. They then return to their seats
west of the altar, and face north, ostensibly looking at the pole
star (Druvan), the star Arundati, and the Seven Rishis (Ursa Major),
which the bridegroom is supposed to point out to the bride, while he
teaches her a short mantram invoking the blessing of long life on
her husband. The bridegroom then makes two oblations, pouring ghee
on the sacred fire, the first called Sishtakralhomam and the second
Darmmihomam. He then places on the fire the paridhis, the remaining
udhmams and dharba grass, and the rest of the ghee. A start is then
made for the bridegroom's illam, the bridegroom carrying the chamatha
branch used in making the aupasana agni in the bride's house. On
arrival, an altar is prepared in much the same manner as before,
the chamatha branch is ignited, and darbha and ghee are offered. The
bride and bridegroom next spend a few moments closeted in the same
room, she lying on a skin spread over a new cloth on the floor,
and he sitting on an amana palaga. In the evening, aupasana homam,
or offerings of chamatha in the sacred fire, and Vaisyadeva homam,
or offerings of boiled rice, are made. These, which are known as a
second homam, may be postponed till next afternoon, if there is no
time for them on the actual wedding day. They have to be performed
daily for ten months. The first three days on which these homams are
performed (viz., the wedding day and the two following it, or the
three days after the wedding as the case may be) are regarded as days
of mourning (diksha), and clothes are not changed. On the fourth day,
the newly married couple have an oil-bath, and the diksha is considered
to be at an end. After the usual homams and worship of Ganapathi,
the bride is led to the bridal chamber at an auspicious moment. Her
husband joins her, carrying two garlands of jasmine, one of which
he puts on the lamp placed in the south-east corner of the room, and
one round his wife's neck. He then smears the upper part of her body
with the ointment known as chanthu, and she herself smears the lower
part. Tum vir penem suum fæminæ ad partes pudendas admovit, vestibus
scilicet haud remotis. They then bathe and change their clothes, and
sit near each other, the wife screened behind an umbrella. Her husband
gives her water, and after some further rites they eat from the same
plantain leaf. Actual cohabitation commences from that night. The pair
are conducted to the bridal chamber by the Vadhiyar. The nuptial couch
is but a grass mat or a common country blanket covered with a white
sheet, with a little ridge of rice and paddy signifying plenty around
the edges. The final ceremony is the homam called stalipagam. It is
performed on the day after the first full moon day after the second
homam. If the moon is at the full 3/4 nazhiga before sunset or earlier,
the ceremony may be performed on the full moon day itself."

It will have been seen already that the Nambutiris are not strict
monogamists. Some stated that a man may have four wives, and that the
same ceremony as that described must be performed for wedding all four
wives. Moreover, there is no restriction to the number of Nayar women,
with whom a man may be associated.

Hamilton, writing concerning Malabar at the end of the seventeenth
and beginning of the eighteenth century, says that "when the Zamorin
marries, he must not cohabit with his bride till the Nambutiri or
chief priest has enjoyed her, and, if he pleases, may have three
nights of her company, because the first fruit of her nuptials must
be an holy oblation to the god he worships: and some of the nobles
are so complaisant as to allow the clergy the same tribute; but the
common people cannot have that compliment paid to them, but are forced
to supply the priest's place themselves."

Of ceremonies after marriage, and those performed during pregnancy
and subsequent to the birth of a child, the following may be noted:--


    (1) Garbhadhanam, performed soon after marriage. There is a
    homam, and the husband puts the juice of some panic grass into
    his wife's nostrils.
    (2) Garbharakshana secures the unborn child from dangers. It is
    not considered important, and is not always done.
    (3) Pumsavana, performed in the third month of pregnancy for the
    purpose of securing male offspring. The desire of the Hindu for
    male rather than female children need not be dilated on. Putra
    (a son) is the one who saves from hell (put). It is by every
    religious text made clear that it is the duty of every man to
    produce a son. The Nambutiri may have practically any number of
    wives in succession, until he begets a son by one of them, and he
    may adopt a son through the sarvasvadanam form of marriage. On
    the day devoted to the pumsavana ceremony, the wife fasts until
    she is fed by her husband with one grain of corn, symbolising
    the generative organs of the male.
    (4) Simantonnayana is the next ceremony performed for the benefit
    of the unborn child. It is done between the sixth and eighth
    months of pregnancy, and consists in a burnt sacrifice to the
    deity, and the husband parting the hair of his wife's head with
    a porcupine quill, or with three blades of the sacred kusa grass,
    repeating the while Vedic verses.
    (5) Jatakarma is the name of the birth ceremony, and is performed
    by the father of the child. Honey and ghi are introduced into the
    mouth of the infant with a golden spoon or rod, to symbolise good
    fortune. Then the ears and shoulders are touched with the spoon
    or rod, while Vedic texts are recited.
    (6) Medhajananam, rarely done, is for inducing intelligence.
    (7) Ayusha, for prolonging life, is the next in order. The father
    gives the child a secret name, having an even number of syllables
    for a male and an uneven number for a female, which is never
    revealed to any one except the mother.
    (8) Namakarana is the ceremony, at which the child is named, and
    is said to be done on the tenth day after birth. The naming of a
    child is an important religious act, which is supposed to carry
    consequences throughout life. The parents, assisted by a Vadhyan,
    make a burnt sacrifice to the deity.
    (9) Annaprasana is the ceremony at which food other than that from
    nature's fount is first given. It is done in the sixth month after
    birth. The father carries the child to a group of friends and
    relations. The Vadhyan or purohit is present and repeats Vedic
    texts, while the father places a little rice and butter in the
    child's mouth.
    (10) Chaula is the ceremony when the hair is cut for the first
    time in the Nambutiri fashion.
    (11) Karna vedha is the occasion on which the ears are bored.


On the Vidyadasami day, the tenth of Asvayuja, when a male child is
five years old, the father goes through the form of initiating him
into the mysteries of the alphabet.

The following details of some of the above ceremonies are given in the
Gazetteer of Malabar. "The chief ceremonies connected with pregnancy
are Pumsavanam or rite to secure male offspring, at which the husband
puts a grain of barley and two beans, to represent the male organ,
into his wife's hand, and pours some curds over them, which the wife
then swallows, and also pours some juice of karuga grass into her
right nostril; and Simantham, a ceremony usually performed in the
fourth month of pregnancy, at which the husband parts the wife's hair
four times from back to front with a sprig of atti (Ficus glomerata),
a porcupine quill which must have three white marks on it, and three
blades of darba grass, all tied together, after which mantrams are
sung to the accompaniment of vinas. The first ceremony to be performed
on the birth of a child is jathakarmam. A little gold dust is mingled
with ghee and honey, and the father takes up some of the mixture with
a piece of gold, and smears the child's lips with it, once with a
mantram and once in silence. He next washes the gold, and touches the
child's ears, shoulders and head with it, and finally makes a gift
of the bit of gold and performs nandimukham. The ceremony of naming
the child, or namakarmam, takes place on the twelfth day. The father
ties a string round the child's waist, and marks its body with the
sacred ash (bhasmam). Then, after the usual 'gifts' he pronounces
thrice in the child's right ear the words 'Devadatta Sarmmasi,'
or if the child be a girl, 'Nili dasi.' He then calls out the name
thrice. Then, taking the child from its mother, he again calls out
the name thrice, and finally gives the child back to its mother, who
in turn calls out the name thrice. Gifts and nandimukham complete
the ceremony. In the fourth month, the child is ceremonially taken
out of doors (nishkramana or vittil purapattu) by the father, who
carries it to a cocoanut, round which he makes three pradakshinams."

The death ceremonies of the Nambutiris are commenced shortly before
death actually takes place. When death is believed to be unmistakably
near, some verses from the Taittirya Upanishad are spoken in the dying
man's ears. These are called karna mantras, or ear hymns. A bed of
kusa grass, called darbhasana, is prepared in the verandah or some
convenient place outside the foundations of the house, and the dying
man is placed on it. When life is extinct, the body is washed, dressed
in a new white cloth, and placed on a bier made of bamboos covered
with a new white cloth. The bier is then carried on the shoulders of
four of the nearest relatives to the place of cremation within the
compound of the illam, and laid on a pile of firewood, which must
include some sandalwood. This should be done by brothers or sons if
there are such; if not, by more distant relatives or friends. The
pyre need not of necessity be prepared by Nambutiris. Properly
speaking, according to the sacred texts, which govern almost every
act of the Nambutiri's life, relatives and friends, male and female,
should accompany the bier to the place of cremation, but, as a rule,
women do not join the little procession. The bier is laid on the
pyre, and the corpse is uncovered. Rice is scattered over the face
by the blood-relations present, and small pieces of gold are thrust
into the nine openings of the body, while mantras are recited by the
Vadhyayar or priest. The gold is said to be used on this occasion as
part of the offering in the yagam--the last sacrifice, as the burning
of the body is called--and not in any way to assist the deceased in
his journey to "the undiscovered country." Soon after the bier is
laid on the funeral pyre, a homam is made. Fire taken from it is
placed on the chest of the deceased, and then the pyre is lighted
in three places. The performer of the crematory rites carries an
earthen pot round the pyre. The officiating priest punctures the pot
with a knife, and receives the water in another pot. He throws this
water on the pyre, and the pot is then smashed and flung away. This
part of the ceremony is said to symbolise that the deceased has had
his ablution in the water of the Ganges, and the fire god, Agni,
represented by the homam, was witness to the same. The fire god is
supposed to witness every ceremony enjoined by the Vedas. After the
body is burnt, those who attended go away and bathe. The disembodied
soul is supposed to enter a body called Sukshma Sarira, and eventually
goes to heaven or hell as it deserves. But, before it can reach its
destination, certain ceremonies must be performed. These consist
chiefly of oblations on each of the ten days following death, for the
purpose of causing the preta (spirit) to grow out of the Dhananjaya
Vayu, which causes deformities and changes in the deceased after
death. Each day's ceremony completes a limb or part of the preta,
and the body is complete in ten days. On the third day after death,
the ashes of the deceased are collected in an urn, and buried at the
place of cremation or close to it. This is called ekoddishta. On the
eleventh day, all the members of the family go through a purificatory
ceremony, which consists in swallowing the panchagavya, and changing
the sacred thread. They then perform a sraddha, offering balls of
rice, etc., to the deceased and three of his ancestors, and give a
dinner and presents of money and cloths to Brahmans. Twelve sraddhas
must be performed, one in each month following, when water and balls
of rice (pindas) are offered to the spirit. The twelfth sraddha is
the sapindi karana, which elevates the spirit of the deceased to
the rank of an ancestor. Following this, there is only the annual
sraddha, or anniversary of death, calculated according to the lunar
or astronomical year, when not less than three Brahmans are fed,
and receive presents of money and cloths.

Concerning the death ceremonies, Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes as
follows. "After death, the blood relations of the deceased bathe, and,
with wet clothes on, place two pieces of the stem of the plantain
tree, one at the head and the other at the feet of the corpse. The
hair of the head and face is shaved a little, and the body is bathed
with water in which turmeric and mailanchi, a red vegetable substance,
are dissolved. The Vaishnavite gopi mark is drawn vertically, as also
are sandal paste marks on various parts of the body, and flowers
and garlands are thrown over it. The corpse is then covered with
an unbleached cloth, which is kept in position by a rope of kusa
grass. It is carried to the pyre by Nambutiris who are not within
the pollution circle of the deceased, the eldest son supporting the
head and the younger ones the legs. A cremation pit is dug in the
south-east portion of the compound, and a mango tree, which has been
felled, is used as fuel. In all these ceremonies, the eldest son is
the karta or chief mourner and responsible ritualist, with whom the
younger ones have to keep up physical contact while the several rites
are being gone through. When the body is almost reduced to ashes, the
principal performer of the ceremonies and his brothers bathe, and,
taking some earth from the adjoining stream or tank, make with it a
representation of the deceased. Throughout the funeral ceremonies,
the Maran is an indispensable factor. The handing of the kusa grass
and gingelly (Sesamum) seeds for the oblation must be done by a member
of that caste. Sanchayanam, or the collection and disposal of the
burnt bones of the deceased, takes place on the fourth day. On the
eleventh day the pollution ceases, and the daily sraddha begins. A
term of diksha or special observance is kept up for three fortnights,
but generally for a whole year. On the twelfth day is the sapinda
karana sraddha, or ceremony of what may be called joining the fathers,
after which the dead person passes from the stage of preta to join
the manes or spirits. There are then the monthly ceremonies (masikas)
and ashta sraddhas (eight sraddhas). The abdika or first anniversary,
known in Malabar by the name of masam, is a very important ceremony,
and one on which unstinted expenditure is the rule."

A further account of the death ceremonies is given in the Gazetteer
of Malabar. "When death is believed to be near, the dying man is
taken to the west of the hearth of the sacred fire (aupasana agni),
and laid with his head to the south on a bed of sand and darbha grass,
while the ottu mantram is whispered in his ear. When life is extinct,
the body is washed and covered with a plantain leaf. The mourners dress
themselves in tattu fashion, and tear up a new cloth breadthwise into
pieces called sesham, which they each wear round their waist. The
body is then dressed in an undercloth; the forehead is smeared with
the pounded root of the creeper mettoni, and tulasi flowers are put
on the head; the kudumi (hair knot) is untied, and the punul (sacred
thread) arranged to hang round the neck in front. The body is tied
on to a bamboo ladder and covered with a new cloth, and then carried
by four of the nearest relatives to the place of cremation within the
compound of the illam. A trench is dug on the north-east of the pyre,
and some water put into it, which is sprinkled on the pyre with twigs
of chamatha and darbha. The body is then laid on the pyre with the
head to the south, and the fire is kindled. The ladder is thrown away,
and a homam performed of ghee and darbha grass made to represent the
deceased, while mantrams are recited. Then comes the ceremony called
kumbhapradakshinam. The mourners go round the pyre three times,
the eldest son leading the way, carrying an earthen pot of water on
his left shoulder. The water should run through the bottom of the
pot, one hole being made for the first round, two for the second,
and three for the third, and other mourners should sprinkle it on
the pyre. At the end of the third round the pot is thrown on to the
pyre, and all the mourners come away, the eldest son leaving last,
and being careful not to look back. After bathing and shaving,
the sons and other persons entitled to celebrate the obsequies,
each perform an oblation of water (udagakriya) to a piece of karuga
grass stuck up to represent the spirit of the dead, concluding the
ceremony by touching iron, granite, a firebrand, cow-dung, paddy and
gold three times, throwing away the sesham, and receiving a clean cloth
(mattu). They then return to the nadumittam, when they make offerings
(bali or veli) of rice balls (pindams) to a piece of karuga grass. Both
these ceremonies have to be repeated twice daily for ten days. On
the fourth day after death, provided it is not a Tuesday or Friday,
the ceremony of collecting the bones (sanchyanam) is performed. The
eldest son goes to the pyre with a pala (pot made of the spathe of an
areca palm) of milk, which he sprinkles on the pyre with a brush of
chamatha tied with karuga grass. Three palas are placed on the west
of the pyre parallel to the places where the feet, waist and head
of the corpse rested, and bones are removed from the feet, waist and
head with tongs of chamatha, and placed in the respective palas. The
bones are then washed in milk, and all put into an earthen pot (kudam)
with some karuga grass on the top. The pot is covered with a cloth,
taken to a cocoanut tree and buried in a pit, the cloth being removed
and the top filled with mud. A plantain is planted in the trench that
was dug near the pyre. On the eleventh day, all the members of the
family purify themselves, and perform oblations of water and balls
of rice. This constitutes the first sraddha, which must be repeated
on each anniversary of the eleventh day."

"The funeral rites of women are similar; but, if the woman is pregnant
at the time of death, the body has first to be purified seven times
with pounded kusa grass, cow-dung, cow's urine, ashes and gold, and
to receive mattu. The belly is cut open four inches below the navel,
and, if the child is found alive, it is taken out and brought up;
if dead, it is put back in the womb with a piece of gold and some
ghee. Children not more than ten days old are buried with little
ceremony, but all others are burnt." [104]

When a Nambutiri is believed to have been guilty of an offence against
the caste, or when there is a caste dispute in any gramam, the proper
course is to represent the matter to the king (in Malabar the Zamorin),
who refers it to the Smarta having jurisdiction over that particular
gramam, ordering him to try the offender after holding a proper
enquiry. Minor offences are punishable by infliction of penance,
fasting, or doing special puja to the gods. Graver offences are dealt
with by excommunication from the caste. Against the decision of the
Smarta there is no appeal. Adultery between a Nambutiri woman and a man
of inferior caste is perhaps the most serious of all caste offences.

The enquiry into cases of adultery is described as follows by
Mr. Subramani Aiyar. "It is conducted by the Smarta, and hence
arises the name (smartavicharam) by which it is known. Whenever a
Nambutiri woman's chastity is suspected, she is at once handed over
to society for enquiry, no considerations of personal affection or
public policy intervening. The mother or brother may be the first and
only spectator of a shady act, but feels no less bound to invite, and
generally pay very heavily for a public enquiry by society according
to its recognised rules. The suspect is at once transferred to an
isolation shed in the same compound, variously called by the name of
anchampura or fifth room (outside the nalukettu or quadrangle), or the
pachcholappura, a new shed with green thatch roofing put up for the
occasion. She may be seen here by her husband, his father and uncles,
her father, father's father, father's maternal grandfather, and their
sons, but by none else. Once a prohibited member sees her, the brand of
infamy indubitably settles on her, and the smartavicharam is considered
foreclosed. For beginning a smartavicharam, the sanction of the ruling
Raja has to be obtained. The matter is carried to his ears, after a
preliminary enquiry, called dasivicharam, has been gone through. For
this, the woman's male relations, in conjunction with the Brahmans of
the neighbourhood, interrogate the Dasi or Nayar maid-servant attached
to the suspected woman. Along with the application for royal sanction
in Travancore, a fee of sixty-four fanams or nine rupees has to be sent
in, and is credited to the treasury of Sri Padmanabha Swami, as whose
deputy the Maharaja is supposed to rule the country. The Maharaja
then appoints a Smarta (judge), two Mimamsakas, an Akakkoyimma,
and a Purakkoyimma. The office of Smarta is hereditary. If a family
becomes extinct, the Yoga or village union nominates another in its
place. The Mimamsakas are Nambutiris learned in the law, and their
office is seldom hereditary. They are appointed to help the Smarta
in his enquiries. The Akakkoyimma, or person whose business is to
preserve order, holds his appointment by heredity. The Purakkoyimma is
the proxy of the sovereign himself. In ancient days, and even so late
as the time of the great Martanda Varma, the ruling sovereign himself
was present during the trial, and preserved order. Now a deputy is sent
by the Maharaja. He is generally the magistrate of the taluk, who, if
he finds it inconvenient to attend the meeting, delegates the function
to the chief village officer. The Smarta, when he receives the royal
commission (neet) for holding the enquiry, receives from the woman's
relations a small tribute of money (dakshina). The Mimamsakas, it may
be observed, are selected by the Smarta. In Travancore alone is the
Smarta's authority supreme, for no Vaidika lives in this territory,
and none are generally invited. In other parts of Malabar, where
Vaidikas live permanently, one of the six recognised Vaidikas has to
accompany the Smarta to the place of the vicharana (enquiry), and the
Smarta merely conducts the enquiry as the proxy of, and authorised
and guided by the Vaidikas. Generally the council assembles at some
neighbouring village temple. The suspected woman is placed within the
anchampura, and her maid-servant stands at the door. All questions
are addressed to her, as the gosha of the suspect has to be honoured
in its entirety until the pronouncement of the final verdict. The
procedure begins, not by the framing and reading out of a charge-sheet,
but by arranging for the suspicion being brought to notice by the
accused person herself. For this purpose, the Smarta makes a feint
of entering the isolation shed, as if in ignorance of everything that
has transpired. The maid-servant stops him, and informs him that her
mistress is within. The Smarta, on hearing this, affects astonishment,
and asks her the reason why her mistress should not be in the main
building (antahpuram). With this question, the enquiry may be said to
have actually begun. The next morning by eleven o'clock, the Smarta
and his co-adjutors again go and stand beside the isolation hut, and,
calling for the maid-servant, commence the regular enquiry. After about
five o'clock in the afternoon, the Smarta, in the presence of the
Akakkoyimma, relates the whole day's proceedings to the Mimamsakas,
and takes their opinion as to the questions for the next day. The
enquiry often lasts for months, and sometimes even for years. It is
the most expensive undertaking possible, as the whole judicatory staff
has to be maintained by the family, unless the sadhanam or subject
gives a circumstantial confession of her guilt. It is not enough
to plead guilty; she must point out all the persons who have been
partakers in her guilt. Thus every day the Smarta asks "Are there any
more?" After the completion of the enquiry, the council re-assembles at
the village temple. The guardian of the suspect presents himself before
the assembled Brahmans, and makes the customary obeisance. The Smarta
then recounts the details of the enquiry, and ultimately pronounces his
verdict. If the woman is declared innocent, she is re-accepted amidst
universal rejoicings, and the head of the family feels amply repaid
for the expenditure he has incurred in the reputation for chastity
secured for a member of his family under such a severe ordeal. If
things do not end so well, all the Brahmans come out of the temple and
re-assemble, when a Brahman, who is usually not a Nambutiri, as the
Nambutiris do not desire to condemn one of their own caste, stands
up, and in a stentorian voice repeats the substance of the charge,
and the judgment as given by the Smarta. The guardian of the woman
then goes away, after she has been handed over by the Smarta to the
custody of the Purakkoyimma. The guardian bathes, and performs all the
funeral ceremonies for his ward, who from this moment is considered
dead for all social and family purposes. The persons meanwhile, whose
names have been given out by the woman as having been implicated in the
offence, have to vindicate their character on pain of excommunication.

In connection with a case of adultery, which was tried recently in
Malabar, it is noted that the Purakkoyimma kept order in the court
with sword in hand. Iswara puja (worship of Iswara) was performed
in the local temple on all the days of the trial, and the suspected
woman was given panchagavya (five products of the cow) so that she
might tell the truth.

I am informed that, in the course of an enquiry into a charge of
adultery, "it sometimes happens that the woman names innocent men as
her seducers. Two courses are then open to them, in order that they
may exculpate themselves, viz., ordeal by boiling oil, and ordeal
by weighing. The former of these ordeals is undergone, under the
sanction of the Raja, by the accused person dipping his bare hand in
ghi, which has been boiling from sunrise to midday, and taking out
of it a bell-metal image. The hand is immediately bandaged, and if,
on examination of it on the third day, it be found unharmed, the man
is declared innocent. In the other ordeal, the man is made to sit for
a certain time in one of a pair of scales, and is declared innocent
or guilty, according as the scale ascends or descends. But these
practices do not now prevail." In former days, the ordeal of boiling
ghi was undergone at the temple of Suchindram in Travancore. This
temple derives its name from Indra, who, according to the legend,
had illicit intercourse with Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Rishi,
and had to undergo a similar ordeal at this place.

In connection with a case which came before the High Court of Madras,
it is recorded [105] that "an enquiry was held into the conduct of
a woman suspected. She confessed that the plaintiff had had illicit
intercourse with her, and thereupon they were both declared out-casts,
the plaintiff not having been charged, nor having had an opportunity
to cross-examine the woman, or enter on his defence, and otherwise to
vindicate his character. Held by the High Court that the declaration
that the plaintiff was an outcast was illegal, and, it having been
found that the defendants had not acted bonâ fide in making that
declaration, the plaintiff was entitled to recover damages."

In order to mitigate to some extent the suffering caused by turning
adrift a woman proved guilty of adultery, who has hitherto lived in
seclusion, provision has been made by the Raja of Cherakkal. A Tiyan
named Talliparamba possesses a large extent of land granted by a former
Raja of Cherakkal, on condition of his taking under his protection all
excommunicated females, if they choose to go with him. He has special
rank and privileges, and has the title of Mannanar. Whenever an inquiry
takes place, Mannanar receives information of it, and his messengers
are ready to take the woman away. It was the custom in former days
for Mannanar's agents to lead the woman to near his house, and leave
her at a certain place from which two roads lead to the house--one to
the eastern gate, and the other to the northern. If the woman happened
to enter the house by the eastern gate, she became Mannanar's wife,
and, if she went in by the northern gate, she was considered to be
his sister by adoption. This rule, however, is not strictly adhered
to at the present day.

The Nambutiris are stated by Mr. Subramani Aiyar to "belong to
different sutras, gotras, or septs, and follow different Vedas. The
most important of the sutras are Asvalayana, Baudhayana, Apastamba, and
Kaushitaka. The best-known gotras are Kasyapa, Bhargava, Bharadvaga,
Vasishta, and Kausika. There are a few Samavedins belonging to
the Kitangnur and Panchal gramams, but most of them are Rigvedic,
and some belong to the Yajurveda. The Rigvedic Brahmans belong to
two separate yogas or unions, namely, Trichur Yoga and Tirunavai
Yoga. It appears that three of the most renowned of the disciples of
Sankaracharya were Nambutiri Brahmans, who received their initiation
into the sanyasasrama at the great sage's hands. They established
three maths or monasteries, known as the tekkematham (southern),
natuvile matham (middle), and vatakke matham (northern). Succession
having fallen in default in regard to the last, the property that
stood in its name lapsed to the Raja of Cochin. Out of the funds
of this matham, a Vedic pathasala (boarding school) was established
at Trichur. A certain number of villagers became in time recognised
as being entitled to instruction at this institution, and formed a
yoga. Trichur then became the centre of Brahmanical learning. Later
on, when the relations of the Zamorin of Calicut with the Raja of
Cochin became strained, he organised another yoga at Tirunavai for
the Nambutiris who lived within his territory. Here there are two
yogas for Rigvedic Brahmans. In these schools, religious instruction
has been imparted with sustained attention for several centuries. The
heads of these schools are recruited from the houses of Changngavot
and Erkara, respectively. To these two yogas two Vadhyars and six
Vaidikas are attached. There are also six Smartas or judges attached
to these bodies. The Vadhyars are purely religious instructors,
and have no judicial duties in respect of society. The Vaidikas and
Smartas are very learned in the Smritis, and it is with them that
the whole caste government of the Nambutiris absolutely rests."

The names of the Nambutiris measured by Mr. Fawcett were as follows:--


        Nilakantan.                 Bhavasarman.
        Paramesvaran.               Nandi.
        Raman.                      Kuberan.
        Harijayandan.               Madhavan.
        Chandrasekharan.            Anantan.
        Vasudevan.                  Nambiatan.
        Greni.                      Shannan.
        Damodaran.                  Krishnan.
        Sivadasan.                  Sankaran.
        Mahesvaran.


In connection with the names of Nambutiris, Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes
as follows. "A list of names not current or unusual now among other
Brahman communities in Southern India may be interesting. These are--


        Vishnu.                     Kadamban.
        Gayantan.                   Chitran.
        Devadattan.                 Gadavedan.
        Kiratan.                    Bhavadasan.
        Prabhakaran.                Srikumaran.
        Dattareyan


"The conspicuous absence of the names of the third son of Siva (Sasta),
such as Hariharaputra and Budhanatha, may be noted. Nor are the names
of Ganapathi much in favour with them. Sridevi and Savitri are the
two most common names, by which Nambutiri females are known. There
are also certain other names of a Prakrita or non-classic character,
used to denote males and females, which sometimes border on the
humorous. Among these are--


        Males.                      Females.

        Nampiyattan.                Nangngaya.
        Ittiyattan.                 Nangngeli.
        Uzhutran.                   Pappi.
        Tuppan.                     Ittichchiri.
        Nampotta.                   Unnima.
                                    Chiruta.


"Some names in this list are identifiable with the names of divinities
and puranic personages. For example, Uzhutran is a corruption of
Rudran. In the same manner, Tuppan is the Prakrit for Subramanya, and
Chiruta for Sita. Unnima is another name for Uma or Parvati. Nambutiris
grudge to grant the title of Nambutiri to each other. For instance,
the Tamarasseri Nambutiri calls the Mullappalli Nambutiri merely
Mullapalli (house name). But, if the person addressed is an Adhya
of one of the eight houses, or at least a Tantri Adhya, the title
Nambutiri is added to his name. Again, if there are in a house two
Nambutiris, one of them being the father and the other the son, the
father whenever he writes, subscribes himself as the Achchan Nambutiri
or father Nambutiri, while the son subscribes himself as the Makan or
son Nambutiri. In Malabar there were two poets called Venmani Achchan
Nambutiri and Venmani Makan Nambutiri, venmani signifying the name
of the illam. It is only in documents and other serious papers that
the proper name or sarman of the Nambutiri would be found mentioned."

When addressing each other, Nambutiris use the names of their
respective illams or manas. When a Nambutiri is talking with a
Nayar, or indeed with one of any other caste, the manner in which
the conversation must be carried on, strictly according to custom,
is such that the Nambutiri's superiority is apparent at every
turn. Thus, a Nayar, addressing a Nambutiri, must speak of himself
as foot-servant. If he mentions his rice, he must not call it rice,
but his gritty rice. Rupees must be called his copper coins, not
his rupees. He must call his house his dung-pit. He must speak of
the Nambutiri's rice as his raw rice, his coppers as rupees, and his
house as his illam or mana. The Nayar must not call his cloth a cloth,
but an old cloth or a spider's web. But the Nambutiri's cloth is to
be called his daily white cloth, or his superior cloth. The Nayar,
speaking of his bathing, says that he drenches himself with water,
whereas the Nambutiri sports in the water when he bathes. Should he
speak of eating or drinking, the Nayar must say of himself that he
takes food, or treats himself to the water in which rice has been
washed. But, should he speak of the Nambutiri eating, he must say
that he tastes ambrosia. The Nayar calls his sleeping lying flat,
and the Nambutiri's closing his eyes, or resting like a Raja. The
Nayar must speak of his own death as the falling of a forest,
but of the Nambutiri's as entering fire. The Nambutiri is not
shaved by the barber; his hairs are cut. He is not angry, but merely
dissatisfied. He does not clean his teeth as the Nayar; he cleans his
superior pearls. Nor does he laugh; he displays his superior pearls.

Concerning the recreations and pastimes of the Nambutiris,
Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes as follows. "During the intervals of Vedic
or Puranic recitations, the Nambutiri engages himself in chaturangam
or chess. When the players are equally matched, a game may last five,
six, or even seven days. Another amusement, which the Nambutiris
take a great interest in, is the Yatrakali, which is said to be a
corruption of Sastrakali, a performance relating to weapons. This is
a unique institution, kept up by a section of the Nambutiris, who are
believed to represent the Brahmanical army of Parasu Rama. When, at a
ceremony in the Travancore royal household, a Yatrakali is performed,
the parties have to be received at the entrance of the Maharaja's
palace in state, sword in hand. The dress and songs are peculiar. In
its import, the performance seems to combine the propitiation of Siva
and Parvati in the manner indicated in a tradition at Trikkariyur with
exorcism and skill in swordsmanship. It is generally believed that, in
ancient days, the Brahmans themselves ruled Kerala. When they found it
necessary to have a separate king, one Attakat Nambutiri was deputed,
with a few other Brahmans, to go and obtain a ruler from the adjoining
Chera territory. The only pass in those days, connecting Malabar
and Coimbatore, was that which is now known as Nerumangalam. When
the Nambutiris were returning through this pass with the ruler whom
they had secured from the Chera King, a strange light was observed
on the adjacent hills. Two young Brahmans of Chengngamanat village,
on proceeding towards the hill to investigate the source thereof,
found to their amazement that it was none other than Sri Bhagavati,
the consort of Siva, who enjoined them to go, viâ Trikkariyur,
to Kodungngnallur, the capital of the Perumals. Seeing that the
sight of Bhagavati foretold prosperity, the king called the range of
hills Nerumangalam or true bliss, and made an endowment of all the
surrounding land to the Brahman village of Chengngamanat, the members
of which had the good fortune to see the goddess face to face. When
they entered the temple of Trikkariyur, a voice was heard to exclaim
"Chera Perumal," which meant that into that town, where Parasu Rama
was believed to be dwelling, no Perumal (king) should ever enter--a
traditional injunction still respected by the Malabar Kshatriyas. At
this place, the sixth Perumal who, according to a tradition, had a
pronounced predilection for the Bouddha religion (Islamism or Buddhism,
we cannot say), called a meeting of the Brahmans, and told them that
a religious discussion should be held between them and the Bouddhas,
in view to deciding their relative superiority. The presiding deity
of the local Saiva shrine was then propitiated by the Brahmans, to
enable them to come out victorious from the trial. A Gangama saint
appeared before them, and taught them a hymn called nalupadam (four
feet or parts of a sloka) which the Nambutiris say is extracted from
the Samaveda. The saint further advised them to take out a lamp from
within the temple, which according to tradition had existed from the
time of Sri Rama, to a room built on the western ghat of the temple
tank, and pray to Siva in terms of the hymn. While this was continued
for forty-one days, six Brahmans, with Mayura Bhatta at their head,
arrived from the east coast to the succour of the Nambutiris. With
the help of these Brahmans, the Nambutiris kept up a protracted
discussion with the Bouddhas. Wishing to bring it to a close, the
Perumal thought of applying a practical test. He enclosed a snake
within a pot, and asked the disputants to declare its contents. The
Bouddhas came out first with the correct answer, while the Brahmans
followed by saying that it was a lotus flower. The Perumal was, of
course, pleased with the Bouddhas; but, when the pot was opened, it was
found to contain a lotus flower instead of a snake. The Bouddhas felt
themselves defeated, and ever afterwards the nalupadam hymn has been
sung by the Nambutiris with a view to securing a variety of objects,
every one of which they expect to obtain by this means. It is also
said that, when the Brahmans were propitiating Siva at Trikkariyur,
diverse spirits and angels were found amusing Parvati with their
quips and cranks. A voice from heaven was then heard to say that such
frolics should thereafter form part of the worship of Siva.

"Engaged in these socio-religious performances are eighteen sanghas
or associations. The chief office-bearers are the Vakyavritti who
is the chief person, and must be an Ottu Nambutiri or a Nambutiri
with full Vedic knowledge; the Parishakkaran who holds charge of
the Yatrakali paraphernalia; and the guru or instructor. The chief
household divinities of these soldier Nambutiris are Bhadrakali, Sasta,
and Subrahmanya. On the evening of the Yatrakali day, these Brahmans
assemble round the lamp, and recite the nalupadam and a few hymns
in praise of their household divinities, and especially of Siva,
the saviour who manifested himself at Trikkariyur. On the night
of the performance they are entertained at supper, when they sing
certain songs called Karisloka. They then move in slow procession to
the kalam or hall, singing specially songs in the vallappattu metre,
with the sacred thread hanging vertically round the neck (apiviti),
and not diagonally as is the orthodox fashion. In the hall have
been placed a burning lamp in the centre, a para (Malabar measure)
filled with paddy, a number of bunches of cocoanuts, plantain fruits,
and various kinds of flowers. The Brahmans sit in a circle round the
lamp, and, after preliminary invocations to Ganapathi, sing songs in
praise of Siva. After this various kinds of dumb-show are performed,
and this is the time for exhibiting skill in swordsmanship. The
exorcising, by the waving of a lighted torch before the face of the
host, of any evil spirits that may have attached themselves is then
gone through. The performance ends with a prayer to Bhagavati, that
she will shower every prosperity. Following close upon this, a variety
entertainment is sometimes given by the Yatrakali Nambutiris. This
old institution is still in great favour in British Malabar, and,
as it has a religious aspect intertwined with it, it is not likely to
be swept away by the unsparing broom of the so-called parishkarakalam
or reforming age of modern India.

"The Kathakali, or national drama of Malabar, is held in great esteem
and favour by the Nambutiris. Most of them are conversant with the
songs and shows relating to it, and severely criticise the slightest
fault or failure. The Kathakali is more than three centuries old in
Malabar, and is said to have been first brought into existence by a
member of the ancient ruling house of Kottarakkara. As the earliest
theme represented was the Ramayana, the Kathakali is also known
as Ramanattam. A single play lasts for eight and even ten hours in
the night. Kshatriyas, Asuras, Rakshasas, Kiratas (hunting tribes),
monkeys, birds, etc., each has an appropriate make-up. The play is in
dumb-show, and no character is permitted to speak on the stage. The
songs are sung by the Bhagavatar or songster, and the actors literally
act, and do nothing more. The Nambutiris love this antiquated form
of theatrical performance, and patronise it to a remarkable extent.

"There are a number of other recreations of an entirely non-religious
character. The chief of these are called respectively seven dogs and
the leopard, fifteen dogs and the leopard, and twenty-eight dogs and
the leopard. Success in these games consists in so arranging the dogs
as to form a thick phalanx, two abreast, round the leopard. Stones
of two sizes are employed to represent the dogs and leopards, and
the field is drawn on the ground.

"The ezahmattukali, or seventh amusement, is said to have been so
called from the fact of its being introduced by the seventh Nambutiri
gramam of Kerala. It is a miniature form of Yatrakali, but without its
quasi-religious character, and is intended to serve merely as a social
pastime. The players need not all be Brahmans; nor is fasting or any
religious discipline part of the preliminary programme. Sitting round
the lamp as at the Yatrakali, and reciting songs in praise of Siva,
the players proceed to the characteristic portion of the recreation,
which is a kind of competition in quick-wittedness and memory held
between two yogas or parties. One among them calls himself the
Kallur Nayar and is the presiding judge. There is interrogation
and answering by two persons, and a third proclaims the mistakes
in the answers. There are two others, who serve as bailiffs to
execute the judge's orders. Humorous scenes are then introduced,
such as Ittikkantappan Nayar, Prakkal, Mutti or old woman, Pattar or
Paradesa Brahman, and other characters, who appear on the stage and
amuse the assembly."

The Nambutiris are Vedic Brahmans: their scriptures are the Vedas. It
is safe to say that the Nambutiris are Shaivas, but not to the
exclusion of Vishnu. The ordinary South Indian Vaishnava Brahman has
nothing to do with the Shaiva temple over the way, and takes no part
or interest in the Shaiva festivals. Siva is to the Nambutiri the
supreme deity, but he has temples also to Vishnu, Krishna, Narasimha,
Sri Raghava, Ganapathi, Subrahmanya, Bhagavati, etc. There are said
to be temples to Sastavu and Sankarnarayanan--amalgamated forms of
Siva and Vishnu. The lingam is the ordinary object of worship.

Like all Brahmans, the Nambutiris believe that the eight directions
or points of the compass, north, north-east, east, south-east, south,
south-west, west, north-west, are presided over by eight deities, or
Ashtadikpalakas, riding on various animals. Indra reigns in heaven and
Yama in hell, and Surya is the sun god. All these and their wives are
worshipped. Parvati shares adoration with Siva, Lakshmi with Vishnu,
and so on. The Nambutiris believe in the existence of evil spirits
which influence man, but they do not worship them.

It is said that the Nambutiri has of late been influenced by Vedantism,
that wonderful religious idea of the existence of one spirit or
atman, the only reality, outside which the world and all besides is
mere illusion, and whose doctrine is wrapped up in the three words
"Ekam eva advitiyam". (There is but one being without a second).

The Nambutiris call themselves Arya Brahmanar. Their legendary
transmigration to Malabar from Northern India is doubtless true. Theirs
is by far the purest form of the Vedic Brahmanism to be met with in
Southern India. A complete account of the religion of the Nambutiris
cannot be given in these pages. The Nambutiri's life is a round
of sacrifices, the last of which is the burning of his body on the
funeral pyre. When the Nambutiri has no male issue, he performs the
putra kameshti or karmavipakaprayaschittam yagams or sacrifices to
obtain it. Should he be unwell, he performs the mrittyunjaya santi
yagam, so that he may be restored to good health. He performs the
aja yagam, or goat sacrifice, in order to obtain salvation. Though
animal food is strictly forbidden, and the rule is strictly followed,
the flesh of the goat, which remains after the offering has been made
in this sacrifice, is eaten by the Nambutiris present as part of the
solemn ceremonial. This is the only occasion on which animal food is
eaten. Namaskaram, or prostration, is much done during prayers. By some
it is done some hundreds of times daily, by others not so often. It
amounts to physical exercise, and is calculated to strengthen the
arms and the back.

Reference has already been made to certain ceremonies connected with
pregnancy, and the early life of a child. There are three further
important ceremonies, called Upanayana, Samavartana and Upakarma,
concerning which Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes as follows. "Upanayana
may be called the Brahmanising ceremony. An oft-repeated Sanskrit
verse runs to the effect that a Brahman is a Brahman by virtue of
his karmas or actions in this life, or the lives preceding it. The
meaning of the term Upanayana is a ceremony which leads one to god,
i.e., to a realisation of the eternal self through the aid of a guru
(preceptor). This ceremony takes place in the seventh, eighth, or ninth
year of a boy's life. As ordinarily understood, it is a ceremony for
males only, as they alone have to observe the four asramas. But, in
ancient days, it seems to have been performed also by females. Marriage
was not compulsory, and a girl might take to asceticism at once. Sita
is said to have worn a yagnopavitam (sacred thread). A Brahman is not
born, but made by the karmas. In other words, a Brahman boy is, at the
time of his birth, only a Sudra, and it is by the performance of the
necessary karmas--not merely the ceremonial rites, but the disciplinary
and preparatory process in view to spiritual development--that he
becomes a Dviga or twice-born. The word Upanayana is composed of
upa, meaning near, and nayana, leading. What the youth is led to is,
according to some, Brahmaggnana or the realisation of the eternal and
universal self, and according to others only the teacher or guru. A
Nambutiri Upanayana begins with the presentation of a dakshina
(consolidated fee) to the Ezhuttachchan, or the Nayar or Ambalavasi
teacher, who has been instructing the youth in the vernacular. The boy
stands on the western side of the sacrificial fire, facing the east,
and the father stands beside him, facing the same way. The second cloth
(uttariya) is thrown over the boy's head, and his right hand being
held up, the sacred thread, to which a strap made from the skin of
a Krishnamriga (antelope) is attached, is thrown over his shoulders
and under his right arm, while he stands reverently with closed
eyes. The thread and skin are wrapped up in the cloth, and are not
to be seen by the boy. He is then taken to an open place, where the
priest introduces the new Brahmachari to the sun, and invokes him to
cover his pupil with his rays. The boy next goes to the sacrificial
altar, and himself offers certain sacrifices to the fire. Saluting
his preceptor and obtaining his blessing, he requests that he may be
initiated into the Savitrimantram. After a few preliminary ceremonies,
the guru utters in the right ear of his disciple the sacred syllable
Om, and repeats the Gayatri mantram nine times. He then instructs
him in certain maxims of conduct, which he is to cherish and revere
throughout the Brahmacharya stage. Addressing the boy, the guru says,
'You have become entitled to the study of the Vedas; perform all
the duties which pertain to the asrama you are about to enter. Never
sleep during the day. Study the Vedas by resigning yourself to the
care of your spiritual instructor.' These exhortations, though made
in Sanskrit, are explained in Malayalam, in order that the boy
may understand them--a feature unknown to Brahmans on the other
coast. With his words of advice, the preceptor gives the youth a
danda or stick made of pipal (Ficus religiosa) wood, as if to keep
him in perpetual memory of what would follow if any of the directions
be disregarded. The boy then makes his obeisance to his parents and
all his relations, and is given a brass vessel called bhikshapatra
(alms pot), in which he collects, by house-to-house visits, food
for his daily sustenance during the Brahmacharya stage. He proceeds
to the kitchen of his own house with the vessel in one hand and the
stick in the other. Making his obeisance in due form to his mother,
who stands facing the east, he says 'Bhiksham bhavati dadatu' (May you
be pleased to give me alms). The mother places five or seven handfuls
of rice in the vessel. After receiving similar contributions from the
assembled elders, the boy takes the vessel to his father, who is the
first guru, saying 'Bhaikshmamidam' (This is my alms collection). The
father blesses it, and says 'May it be good.' After the Gayatrijapa,
the ceremony of Samidadhana is performed. This is the Brahmachari's
daily worship of the sacred fire, corresponding to the aupasana of the
Grihastha, and has to be performed twice daily. After another homam at
night, the cloth covering the sacred thread and skin is removed, and
the consecration of the food is done for the first time. In addition
to the skin strap, the Brahmachari wears a mekhala or twisted string
of kusa grass. It is doubtless of the youthful Nambutiri that Barbosa
wrote as follows at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 'And
when these are seven years old, they put round their necks a strap
two fingers in width of an animal which they call cresnamergan,
and they command him not to eat betel for seven years, and all this
time he wears that strap round the neck, passing under the arm;
and, when he reaches fourteen years of age, they make him a Brahman,
removing from him the leather strap round his neck, and putting on
another three-thread, which he wears all his life as a mark of being a
Brahman. The rules which were observed with such strictness centuries
ago are still observed, and every Nambutiri boy goes through his period
of Brahmacharya, which lasts at least for full five years. During
the whole of this period, no sandal paste, no scents, and no flowers
are to be used by him. He is not to take his meals at other houses
on festive occasions. He must not sleep during the day. Nor may he
wear a loin-cloth in the ordinary fashion. Shoes and umbrella are
also prohibited. The completion of the Brahmachari asrama, or stage
of pupilage, is called Samavartana. After a few religious ceremonies
in the morning, the Brahmachari shaves for the first time since
the Upanayana ceremonies, casts off the skin strap and mekhala, and
bathes. He puts on sandal paste marks, bedecks himself with jasmine
flowers, and puts on shoes. He then holds an umbrella, and wears a
pearl necklace. After this, he puts on a head-dress, and a few other
ceremonials conclude the Samavartana. For three days subsequent
to this, the budding Grihastha is considered ceremonially impure,
and the pollution is perhaps based on the death of the old asrama,
and birth of the new. In the Upakarma ceremony, hymns are sung by
the preceptor, and the pupil has merely to listen to them."

In conclusion, something may be said concerning the general beliefs
of the Nambutiris. All objects, animate or inanimate, organic or
inorganic, are believed to be permeated by the divine spirit. Animals,
trees, plants, and flowers are animate, and therefore venerated. The
sun, moon, and stars are revered on account of some inherent quality
in each, such as utility or strength, or owing to their connection
with some deity. A god can assume any form at any time, such as that
of a man, bird, beast, or tree. The various forms in which a god has
appeared are ever sacred. Some animals have been used as vehicles by
the gods, and are therefore revered. Cows, horses, and snakes are
worshipped. The cow is the most sacred of all animals. The Puranas
tell of Kamadhenu, the cow of plenty, one of the fourteen useful
things which turned up out of the ocean of milk when it was churned,
and which is supposed to have yielded the gods all they desired. So
Kamadhenu is one who gives anything which is desired. Every hair of
the cow is sacred, its urine is the most holy water, and its dung
the most purificatory substance. The horse is the favourite animal of
Kubera, the treasure-god. The Uchchaisravas the high-eared prototype
of all horses, also came out of the churned ocean. Horse sacrifice,
or Asvamedha, is the greatest of all sacrifices. Performance of a
hundred of them would give the sacrificer power to displace Indra,
in order to make room for him. Snakes are the fruitful progeny of
the sage Kasyapa and Kadru. The Maha Sesha, their prince, is the
couch and canopy of Vishnu, and supports the world on his thousand
heads. But attention to snakes is probably more in the light of the
harm which they may do, and propitiatory in character.

Among plants, the tulasi or sacred basil (Ocimum sanctum) is the most
sacred of all. It is supposed to be pervaded by the essence of both
Vishnu and Lakshmi: according to some legends, it is a metamorphosis
of Sita and Rukmini. The daily prayer offered to the tulasi is thus
rendered by Monier Williams. "I adore that tulasi in whose roots
are all the sacred places of pilgrimage, in whose centre are all the
deities, and in whose upper branches are all the Vedas." The udumbara
(Ficus glomerata) is also sacred. Under this tree Dattatreya, the
incarnation of the Trinity, performed his ascetic austerities. The
Nambutiri says that, according to the sastras, there must be one of
these trees in his compound, and, if it is not there, he imagines it
is. The bilva (Ægle Marmelos) is specially sacred to Siva all over
Southern India. To the Nambutiri it is very sacred. Its leaves are
supposed to represent the three attributes of Siva--Satva, Raja, and
Tama--and also his three eyes and his trisulam (trident). They are used
by the Nambutiri in propitiatory ceremonies to that god. An offering
of a single leaf of this tree is believed to annihilate the sins done
three births or existence. Kusa grass (Eragrostis cynosuroides) is very
sacred, and used in many ceremonies. At the churning of the ocean,
the snakes are said to have been greedy enough to lick the nectar
off the kusa grass, and got their tongues split in consequence. The
asvaththa (Ficus religiosa) is also very sacred to the Nambutiris. It
is supposed to be pervaded by the spirit of Brahma the Creator.

From the sun (Surya, the sun-god) emanate light and heat, and
to its powers all vegetation is due, so the Nambutiri worships it
daily. He also offers puja to the sun and moon as belonging to the nine
navagrahas (planets). The planets are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. They influence the destinies
of men, and therefore come in for some worship. The three last are
sinister in their effects, and must be propitiated.

Namdev.--A synonym of Rangari.

Nanchi Kuruva.--A name for Kuruvas, who inhabit Nanchinad in
Travancore.

Nanchinad Vellala.--The Nanchinad Vellalas, to the number of 18,000,
are found scattered all over Travancore, though their chief centre is
Nanchinad, composed of the taluks of Tovala and Agastisvaram. Their
manners and customs at the present day are so different to those
of the Tamil Vellalas that they may be regarded as a separate caste
indigenous to Travancore and Cochin. Like other Sudras of Travancore,
they add the title Pillai to their name, which is often preceded by
the title Kannaku.

From a copper-plate grant in the possession of the Syrian Christians,
dated A.D. 824, we learn that one family of carpenters, and four
families of Vellalas, were entrusted with the growing of plants on
the sea-coast, the latter being the Karalars or trustees. From this
it appears that the Vellalas must have settled on the west coast in
the ninth century at the latest. The Nanchinad Vellalas were not
originally different from their Pandyan analogues, but settled in
the taluks above mentioned, over which the Pandyans held sway during
several periods in mediæval times. On one occasion, when there was a
dispute about the territorial jurisdiction of Nanchinad between the
Maharaja of Travancore and the Pandyan ruler, the leading Vellalas of
these taluks went over in a body to the Travancore camp, and swore
allegiance to the Travancore throne. They gradually renounced even
the law of inheritance, which their brethren of the Tamil country
followed, and adopted many novel customs, which they found prevalent
in Kerala. From Nanchinad the caste spread in all directions, and, as
most of them were respectable men with good education and mathematical
training, their services were utilised for account-keeping in the civil
and military departments of the State. They must, of course, be clearly
distinguished from the Tamil makkathayam Vellalas of Kuttamperur in
Tiruvella, who have also become naturalised in Travancore,

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar.

Like the Tamil Vellalas, the Nanchinad Vellalas are divided into two
classes, Saiva and Asaiva, of which the former abstain from flesh and
fish, while the latter have no such scruple. Asaivas will take food
in the houses of Saivas, but the Saivas cook their own food when
they go to an Asaiva house. Again, though the Saivas marry girls
from Asaiva families, they are taught the Saiva hymn by the Gurukal
immediately afterwards, and prohibited from dining with their former
relatives. This custom is, however, only known to prevail in the
south. While the Vellalas in the south reside in streets, their
brethren in the north live, like Nayars, in isolated houses. In
their dress and ornaments, too, the Nanchinad Vellalas living in
North Travancore differ from those of the south, inasmuch as they
adopt the practice of the Nayars, while the latter are conservative,
and true to their old traditions.

The Nanchinad Vellalas are well known, throughout Travancore, for
their thrift, industry, and mathematical acumen. Several families
have dropped the designation of Vellala, and adopted Nanchinad Nayar
as their caste-name.

Their language is largely mixed up with Malayalam words and
phrases. Madan Isakki (Yakshi) and Inan are their recognised
tutelary deities, and were till recently worshipped in every
household. Villati-chanpattu is a common propitiatory song, sung by
members of the goldsmith and oilmonger castes, in connection with
the ceremonies of the Nanchinad Vellalas. It deals with the origin
of these minor deities, and relates the circumstances in which their
images were set up in various shrines. Amman-kodai, or offering to the
mother, is the most important religious festival. They also observe
the Tye-pongal, Depavali, Trikkartikai, Onam and Vishu festivals. The
anniversary of ancestors is celebrated, and the Pattukkai ceremony of
the Tamil Vellalas, in propitiation of deceased female ancestors, is
performed every year. Stories of Chitragupta, the accountant-general of
Yama, the Indian Pluto, are recited on the new-moon day in the month,
of Chittiray (April-May) with great devotion.

The Nanchinad Vellalas are chiefly an agricultural class, having
their own village organisation, with office-bearers such as
kariyasthan or secretary, mutalpiti or treasurer, and the pilla or
accountant. Contributions towards village funds are made on certain
ceremonial occasions. Their high priest belongs to the Umayorubhagam
mutt of Kumbakonam, and the North Travancore Vellalas recognise the
Panantitta Gurukal as their spiritual adviser. East coast Brahmans
often officiate as their priests, and perform the sacrificial and
other rites at weddings.

The usual rule is for girls to marry after puberty, but early marriage
is not rare. The maternal uncle's or paternal aunt's daughter is
regarded as the legitimate bride. The presents to the bridegroom
include a mundu and neriyatu, the ordinary Malabar dress, and very
often an iron writing-style and knife. This is said to be symbolical of
the fact that the Vellalas formed the accountant caste of Travancore,
and that several families of them were invited from Madura and
Tinnevelly to settle down in Nanchinad for this purpose. A procession
of the bridal couple in a palanquin through the streets is a necessary
item of the marriage festivities. The Nanchinad Vellalas contract
temporary alliances with Nayar women from the Padamangalam section
downwards. Divorce is permitted, provided a formal release-deed,
or vidu-muri, is executed by the husband. After this, the woman may
enter into sambandham (connection) with a Nanchinad or Pandi Vellala.

The laws of inheritance are a curious blend of the makkathayam
and marumakkathayam systems. Sons are entitled to a portion of the
property, not exceeding a fourth, of the self-acquired property of
the father, and also a fourth of what would have descended to him in a
makkathayam family. This is called ukantutama, because it is property
given out of love as opposed to right. It is a further rule that, in
case of divorce, the wife and children should be given this ukantutama,
lest they should be left in utter destitution, only a tenth part of
the ancestral property being allotted for this purpose, if her husband
leaves no separate estate. If more than a fourth of the estate is to
be given in this manner, the permission of the heirs in the female
line has generally to be obtained. If a man dies without issue, and
leaves his wife too old or unwilling to enter into a fresh matrimonial
alliance, she is entitled to maintenance out of his estate. A divorced
woman, if without issue, is similarly entitled to maintenance during
the life of her former husband. The property to which she may thus
lay claim is known as nankutama, meaning the property of the nanka
or woman. The nankutama cannot be claimed by the widow, if, at the
time of her husband's death, she does not live with, and make herself
useful to him. When a widow enters into a sambandham alliance, the
second husband has to execute a deed called etuppu, agreeing to pay
her, either at the time of his death or divorce, a specified sum of
money. The ukantutama from the family of her first husband does not
go to the issue of a woman who is in possession of an etuppu deed.

The namakarana, or name-giving ceremony, is performed in early
life. Many of the names are unknown among Nayars, e.g., Siva, Vishnu,
Kuttalalingam, Subramanya, Ponnampalam among males, and Sivakami,
Kantimati among females. The tonsure is performed before a boy is three
years old. The right of performing the funeral ceremonies is vested
in the son, or, failing one, the nephew. Pollution lasts for sixteen
days. The karta (chief mourner) has to get himself completely shaved,
and wears the sacred thread throughout the period of pollution, or
at least on the sixteenth day. On that day oblations of cooked food,
water and gingelly (Sesamum) seeds are offered to the departed. If
a daughter's son dies, her mother, and not the father, observes
pollution.

Nanchinad Vellala has been assumed by males of the Deva-dasi caste
in Travancore.

Nandikattu (bull's mouth).--An exogamous sept of Medara.

Nandimandalam.--A sub-division of Razu.

Nanga (naked).--A sub-division of Poroja.

Nangudi Vellala.--The so-called Nangudi Vellalas, or Savalai Pillais,
are found inhabiting several villages in the Tinnevelly district,
and differ from other Vellalas in several important points. They say
that they are Kottai (fort) Vellalas, who have given up the custom of
living within a fort. Nangudi women are not allowed to enter the fort
at Srivaiguntam, wherein the Kottai Vellalas live. Within the last few
years, marriages are said to have taken place between members of the
two communities. The Nangudis have exogamous septs or kilais, named
for the most part after persons or deities, which, like the septs of
the Maravans, run in the female line. The hereditary caste headman is
called Pattaththu Pillai. In olden times, members who disobeyed him
were made to run through the streets with a rotten tender cocoanut
tied to the kudumi (hair knot), while a man ran behind, applying a
tamarind switch to the back.

The consent of a girl's maternal uncle and his wife is necessary,
before she can marry. The aunt's consent is signified by touching the
tali (marriage badge) on the wedding day. The uncle keeps a light,
called ayira panthi, burning until the time for tying the tali, A
quarter measure of rice is tied up in a cloth, and the knot converted
into a wick, which is fed with ghi (clarified butter).

The news of a death in the community is conveyed by the barber. Before
the removal of the corpse, all close relations, and at least one pair
of Nangudis from every village, must come to the house. Absence on
this occasion is considered as a very grave insult. On the second
day after death, an Amarantus, called arakkirai, must be cooked.

A special feature in connection with inheritance is that a man should
give his daughters some property, and every daughter must be given a
house. The husbands have to live in their wives' houses. The property
which a woman receives from her father becomes eventually the property
of her daughters, and her sons have no claim to it. Sons inherit the
property of the father in the usual manner.

Like the Kondaikatti Vellalas, the Nangudis claim that they had the
right of placing the crown on the head of the Pandyan kings. In the
village of Korkai, there is a tank (pond) called Kannimar Jonai,
because celestial maidens used to bathe there. When one Agni Maha
Rishi was doing penance, three of the celestial maidens are said to
have come to bathe. The Rishi fell in love with them, and eventually
three sons were born. These children were brought up by the Vellalas
of Korkai at the request of the Rishi, who represented that they were
likely to become kings. According to the legend, they became Chera,
Chola, and Pandya kings.

Nannuru (four hundred).--An exogamous sept of Madiga.

Nantunikkuruppu.--Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901,
as a synonym of Vatti, a sub-division of Nayar.

Nanukonda.--A sub-division of Lingayat Kapus, named after the village
of Nanukonda in the Kurnool district.

Naravidyavaru.--These are Vipravinodis, who are Jangams by caste. They
style themselves Naravidyavaru when they perform acrobatic and other
feats before ordinary people, and Vipravinodi when they perform
before Brahmans. The name Naravidyavaru is said to be a contraction
of Narulu-mechche-vidya-cheyu-varu, i.e., those who receive the
approbation of men. One of their most favourite feats is throwing
three or four wooden or stone balls up into the air, and rolling them
quickly in succession over various parts of the body--arms, chest, etc.

Nariangal (nari, jackal).--An exogamous sept of Vallamban.

Narikela (cocoanut).--An exogamous sept of Balija.

Narollu (fibre).--An exogamous sept of Pedakanti Kapu.

Narpathu Katchi (forty-house section).--A sub-division of Valluvan.

Nasrani Mappilla.--A name, in Malabar, applied to Christians.

Nasuvan.--Nasivan or Nasuvan, said to mean unholy, one who should not
be touched, or one sprung from the nose, is the name for Ambattans
(Tamil barbers). The equivalents Nasiyan and Navidan occur as a name
for Telugu barbers, and Malayali barbers who shave Nayars and higher
castes. Navidan is further recorded as the occupational name of a
sub-division of Tamil Paraiyans, and Vettuvans.

Natamukki.-- Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a
sub-division of Nayar.

Naththalu (snails).--An exogamous sept of Mala.

Natramiludaiyan.--A name, meaning the repository of chaste Tamil,
returned by some Nattamans at times of census.

Nattan.--At the Census, 1901, nearly 12,000 individuals returned
themselves as Nattan, which is stated by the Census Superintendent to
be "a vague term meaning people of the country, reported by some to be
a main caste, and by others to be a sub-caste of Vellala. Nearly all
of those who returned the name came from Salem and were cultivators,
but some of them entered themselves as possessing the title of Servai,
which usually denotes an Agamudaiyan" (see Servai, Servaikaran). Nattan
also occurs as a title of the Tamil Sembadavan and Pattanavan fishing
castes, and of the Vallambans. Portions of the Tamil country are
divided into areas known as nadus, in each of which certain castes,
known as Nattan or Nattar, are the predominant element. For example,
the Vallambans and Kallans are called the Nattars of the Palaya Nadu
in the Sivaganga zamindari of the Madura district. In dealing with
the tribal affairs of the various castes inhabiting a particular nadu,
the lead is taken by the Nattars.

Nattati (the name of a village).--A sub-division of Shanan.

Nattu (sons of the soil).--Recorded as a sub-division of Kallan,
and of the Malayans of Cochin.

Nattukattada Nayanmar.--A class of mendicants attached to the Kaikolans
(q.v.).

Nattukottai Chetti.--"Of all the Chettis," Mr. Francis writes, [106]
"perhaps the most distinctive and interesting are the Nattukottai
Chettis, who are wealthy money-lenders with head-quarters in the
Tiruppattur and Devakottai divisions of the Sivaganga and Ramnad
zamindaris in the Madura district. They are the most go-a-head of
all the trading castes in the south, travelling freely to Burma,
the Straits Settlements and Ceylon (also Saigon, Mauritius, and
South Africa), and having in some cases correspondents in London and
on the Continent. As long as their father is alive, the members of a
Nattukottai Chetti family usually all live together. The caste is noted
in the Madura district for the huge houses, to which this custom has
given rise. Married sons have a certain number of rooms set aside for
them, and are granted a carefully calculated yearly budget allotment
of rice and other necessaries. On the father's death, contrary to
all ordinary Hindu usage, the eldest son retains the house, and the
youngest his mother's jewels and bed, while the rest of the property
is equally divided among all the sons. When a male child is born,
a certain sum is usually set aside, and in due time the accumulated
interest upon it is spent on the boy's education. As soon as he has
picked up business ways sufficiently, he begins life as the agent of
some other members of the caste, being perhaps entrusted with a lakh of
rupees, often on no better security than an unstamped acknowledgment
scratched on a palmyra leaf, and sent off to Burma or Singapore to
trade with it, and invest it. A percentage on the profits of this
undertaking, and savings from his own salary, form a nucleus which he
in turn invests on his own account. His wife will often help pay the
house-keeping bills by making baskets and spinning thread, for the
women are as thrifty as the men. As a caste they are open-handed and
devout. In many houses, one pie in every rupee of profit is regularly
set aside for charitable and religious expenditure, and a whip round
for a caste-fellow in difficulties is readily responded to. By religion
they are fervent Saivites, and many of the men proclaim the fact by
wearing a rudraksham (Eleocarpus Ganitrus) fruit, usually set in gold,
round their necks. Of late years they have spent very large sums upon
several of the famous Saivite shrines in the Madras Presidency, notably
those at Chidambaram, [107] Madura, and Tiruvannamalai. Unfortunately,
however, much of the work has been executed in the most lamentable
modern taste, and it is saddening to contrast the pitiful outcome of
their heavy outlay with the results which might have been attained
under judicious guidance. The decoration in the new Kaliyana Mahal
in the Madura temple is mainly inferior varnished wood-carving,
looking-glasses, and coloured glass balls. The same style has been
followed at Tiruvannamalai, although lying scattered about in the
outer courts of the temple are enough of the old pierced granite
pillars to make perhaps the finest mantapam in South India. Owing to
their wealth and their money-lending, the Nattukottai Chettis have
been called the Jews of South India, but their kindliness and charity
deserve more recognition than this description accords."

I am informed that the property of a woman (jewels, vessels,
investments, etc.), on her decease, goes to her daughters. As among
other Hindu castes, the eldest son may retain the personal effects
of his father, and, with the consent of his brothers, may retain
his house. But the value thereof is deducted from his share in the
property.

It is stated in the Madura Manual that the "Nattukottai Settis in
particular are notorious for their greed, and most amusing stories
are told about them. However wealthy they may be, they usually live
in the most penurious manner, and they will never by any chance show
mercy to a debtor, so long as he shall have a penny left, or the
chance of earning one. However, to make amends for their rapacity,
they are in the habit of spending large sums now and then in works of
charity. And, whatever faults there may be, they are most excellent
men of business. Indeed, until quite lately, the good faith and
honesty of a Nattukottai Setti were proverbial, and are even now
conspicuous. The Nattukottai Settis claim to be a good caste, and
asserted that they emigrated to this district thousands of years ago
from a town called Kaveripattanam, in consequence of an intolerable
persecution. But the other Settis will not admit the truth of their
story, and affect to despise them greatly, alleging even that they are
the bastard descendants of a Muhammadan man and a Kalla woman. The word
Nattukottai is said to be a corruption of Nattarasangkottai, the name
of a small village near Sivaganga. But this derivation appears to be
doubtful." The name is usually said to be derived from Nattukottai,
or country fort.

It has been said that "the Nattukottai Chettis, in organisation,
co-operation, and business methods, are as remarkable as the
European merchants. Very few of them have yet received any English
education. They regard education as at present given in public
schools as worse than useless for professional men, as it makes
men theoretical, and scarcely helps in practice. The simple but
strict training which they give their boys, the long and tedious
apprenticeship which even the sons of the richest among them have to
undergo, make them very efficient in their profession, and methodical
in whatever they undertake to do."

Concerning the Nattukottai Chettis, Mr. P. R. Sundara Aiyar writes as
follows. [108] "The first and chiefest aim of a Nattukottai Chetti
is to make as much money as possible. He does not regard usury as
a sin. As a little boy of ten or twelve, he begins to apply himself
to business, learns accounts, and attends the shop of his father. As
soon as he marries, his father gives him a separate home, or rather
compels him to live separately, though often in the same house as his
parents. This makes him self-reliant, and produces in him a desire
to save as much money as possible. He is given a certain allowance
out of the paternal estate, but, if he spends more, he is debited
with the excess amount. Every one consequently tries to increase his
stock of individual savings. Even the women earn money in a variety
of ways. Every rupee saved is laid out at as high a rate of interest
as possible. It is commonly stated that a rupee, laid out at the birth
of a child at compound interest at 12 per cent., will amount to a lakh
of rupees by the time he attains the age of a hundred. The habits of
a Nattukottai Chetti are very simple, and his living is very cheap,
even when he is rich. So strict are the Chettis in pecuniary matters
that, if a relation visits them, he gets only his first meal free,
and if he stays longer, is quietly debited with the cost of his stay."

The Nattukottai Chettis [109] are said to employ Kammalans, Valaiyans,
Kallans, and Vallambans as their cooks. They are permitted to enter
the interior of Hindu temples, and approach near to the innermost
doorway of the central shrine. This privilege is doubtless accorded
to them owing to the large sums of money which they spend on temples,
and in endowing charitable institutions. It is noted, in the Gazetteer
of the Madura district, that "of the profits of their commercial
transactions, a fixed percentage (called magamai) is usually set aside
for charity. Some of the money so collected is spent on keeping up
Sanskrit schools, but most of it has been laid out in the repair and
restoration of the temples of the south, especial attention being
paid to those shrines (padal petta sthalangal, as they are called),
which were hymned by the four great poet-saints, Manikya Vachakar,
Appar, Tirugnana Sambandhar, and Sundaramurti." "The Chettis,"
Mr. Sundara Aiyar writes, "are believed to be the most charitable
class in Southern India, and undoubtedly they spend the largest
amount of money on charity. They set apart a fraction of their
profits for charity. They levy rates among themselves for local
charities, wherever they go. The income obtained from the rates is
generally spent on temples. In new places like Ceylon, Burma, and
Singapore, they build new temples, generally dedicated to Subramanya
Swami. In India itself, they establish festivals in existing temples,
and undertake the repair of temples. Immense sums have been spent by
them recently in the renovation and restoration of ancient temples. We
should not be surprised to be told that the amount spent within the
last thirty years alone amounts to a crore of rupees. Being Saivites,
they do not generally care for Vaishnava temples. And, even among Saiva
temples, only such as have special sanctity, and have been sung about
by the Saiva Nainars or Bhaktas, are patronised by them. They have
devoted large sums to the establishment of comfortable choultries
(rest-houses), feeding houses, Vedic and recently also Sastraic
pathasalas (schools). They have established schools for the education
of the Kurukal or the priestly class. And, in fact, every charity of
the orthodox Hindu type finds generous support among them."

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that the
gopurams of the Madura temple "have been repaired of late years at
great cost by the Nattukottai Chettis. The northern tower used to
consist only of the brick and stone-work storeys, and was known in
consequence as the mottai (literally bald) gopuram. Recently, however,
a courageous Chetti, who cared nothing for the superstition that it
is most unlucky to complete a building left unfinished, placed the
usual plaster top upon it."

In recent years, the temple at Chidambaram has been renovated by the
Nattukottai Chettis, who "have formed for this and similar restorations
a fund which is made up of a fee of four annas per cent. levied from
their clients on all sums borrowed by the latter. The capital of
this is invested, and the interest thereon devoted exclusively to
such undertakings." [110]

In 1906, the purificatory ceremony, or kumbabishekam, of the Sri
Pasupathiswara Swami temple at Karur was performed with great
pomp. The old temple had been thoroughly overhauled and repaired
by the Nattukottai Chettis. The ceremony cost about fifty thousand
rupees. Many thousands were fed, and presents of money made to a large
number of Vaidiki Brahmans. In the same year, at a public meeting held
in Madras to concert measures for establishing a pinjrapole (hospital
for animals), one of the resolutions was that early steps should
be taken to collect public subscriptions from the Hindu community
generally, and in particular from the Nattukottai Chettis, Gujaratis,
and other mercantile classes.

Still more recently, the kumbabishekam festival was celebrated at
Tiruvanaikkaval, the seat of a celebrated temple near Trichinopoly,
which was repaired by the Nattukottai Chettis at a cost of many lakhs
of rupees.

By a traditional custom, the Nattukottai Chettis live largely by
money-lending. They never serve under any one outside their own
community. They either trade on their own account, or are employed as
agents or assistants. The pay of an assistant is always calculated for
a period of three years, and a portion thereof is paid in advance after
a month's service. This the assistant invests to the best advantage. At
the end of a year, a portion of the balance of the pay is handed over
to him, leaving a small sum to be paid at the end of the contract
period. His expenses for board and lodging are met by his employer,
and he may receive a small share of the profits of the business. A man,
on receiving an agency, starts on an auspicious day, and proceeds to
a temple of Ganesa, and to a matam (religious institution) containing
figures of Ganesa and Natesa. After prostrating himself before the
gods, he proceeds on his way. If he encounters an object of evil omen,
he will not continue, and, if he has to journey to a distant spot, he
will throw up his appointment. The accounts of the Nattukottai Chettis
are audited triennially, an annual audit being inconvenient, as their
business is carried on at various remote spots. The foreign business
is said [111] to "be transacted by agents belonging to the caste, who
receive a salary proportioned to the distance of the place, and also,
usually, a percentage on the profits. They generally serve for three
years, and then return, and give an account of their stewardship." The
commencement of a fresh period of three years is made on an auspicious
day called puthukanakkunal (fresh account day), which is observed
as a holiday. No business is transacted, and customers are invited,
and receive presents of fruits, sweets, etc.

In connection with Nattukottai agencies, Mr. Hayavadana Rao writes as
follows. [112] "People of moderate means usually elect to go to distant
places as agents of the different firms that have their head offices
either at Madura or in the Zamindaris of Ramnad and Sivaganga. The
pay of a local agent varies directly with the distance of the place
to which he is posted. If he is kept at Madura, he gets Rs. 100 per
mensem; if sent to Burma, he gets three times as much; and, if to
Natal, about twice the latter sum. If an agent proves himself to be
an industrious and energetic man, he is usually given a percentage on
the profits. The tenure of office is for three years, six months before
the expiry of which the next agent is sent over to work conjointly with
the existing one, and study the local conditions. On relief, the agent
returns directly to his head office, and delivers over his papers,
and then goes to his own village. With this, his connection with his
firm practically ceases. He enjoys his well-earned rest of three years,
at the end of which he seeks re-employment either under his old firm,
or under any other. The former he is bound to, if he has taken a
percentage on the profits during his previous tenure of office. If
the old firm rejects him when he so offers himself, then he is at
liberty to enter service under others." It is said to be very rare for
Nattukottai women to accompany their husbands to distant places. "In
fact, the husbands have to visit their native places at long intervals,
and make a felicitous sojourn in the company of their wives."

The houses of the Nattukottai Chettis are spacious and substantial
buildings all based on the same general plan. The front entrance
opens into an oblong courtyard with a verandah all round, and rows
of rooms at the two sides. At the farther end of the courtyard is an
entrance leading into a backyard or set of apartments. Modern houses
have imposing exteriors, and an upper storey. Married sons live in
separate quarters, and every couple receive from their fathers a fixed
yearly allowance, which may amount to twenty rupees and fifteen kalams
of paddy. The sons may, if they choose, spend more, but the excess is
debited to their account, and, at the time of partition of the estate,
deducted, with interest, from their share.

It is noted by Mr. Hayavadana Rao that "the remarkable custom prevails
amongst them that obliges all married members to cook separately
and eat their meals, though they live in the same house. Even the
widowed mother is no exception to this rule. Unmarried members live
with their parents until they are married. Allotments of rice and
other necessaries are annually made to the several semi-independent
members of the household. This custom has given rise to the commodious
houses in which members of this caste usually reside."

As concerning the origin of the Nattukottai Chettis, the following
story is told. In ancient days, the Vaisyas of the lunar race
were living in the town of Santhyapuri in the Naganadu of the
Jambudvipa(India). They paid daily visits to the shrine of Vinayaka god
made of emerald, and were traders in precious stones. They were much
respected, and led the life of orthodox Saivites, wore rudraksha beads,
and smeared themselves with sacred ashes. They were, however, much
oppressed by a certain ruler, and emigrated in a body to Conjeeveram
in the Tondamandalam country in the year 204 of the Kaliyuga. The
king of Conjeeveram gave them permission to settle in his territory,
and made grants to them of land, temples and matams. They stayed there
for a very long time, but, being troubled by heavy taxes and fines,
left this part of the country about 2312 Kaliyuga, and settled in the
Chola country. The Chola king, being much impressed with them, bestowed
on them the privilege of placing the crown on the head of a new ruler
at his coronation. At this time, the town of Kaveripumpattanam is said
to have been in a very flourishing state, and the north street was
occupied by Vaisyas from other countries. Being unwilling to disturb
them, the king made the new settlers occupy the east, west, and south
streets. As a mark of respect, they were allowed to use flags with the
figure of a lion on them, and use golden vessels (kalasam) in their
houses. They all, at the instigation of the king, became disciples
of one Isanya Sivachariar of Patanjalikshetra (Chidambaram). About
3775 Kaliyuga, Puvandi Chola Raja imprisoned several of the Vaisya
women, whereon all the eight thousand Vaisya families destroyed
themselves, leaving their male children to be taken care of by a
religious teacher named Atmanadhachariar. In all 1,502 children
were thus brought up, viz., 600 of six ways from the west street,
502 of seven ways from the east street, and 400 of four ways from
the south street. Later on, Puvandi Chola fell ill, and, knowing his
recovery to be impossible, sent for the Vaisya boys, and asked them
to look after the coronation of his son Rajabhushana Chola. But they
said that, as they were bachelors, they could not comply with his
request. The king accordingly made them marry Vellala girls. Those
of the west street took as wives girls of the Karkaththar section,
those of the east street girls of the Sozhia section, and those of the
south street girls of the Kaniyala section. The three groups became
disciples of three different matams, viz., Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam,
and Vanchium. In the year 3790, a dispute arose in connection with
the right of priority in receiving sacred ashes between the Vaisya and
true Vellala women, and the former were made to become the disciples
of a new guru (religious preceptor). About 3808, a Pandya king, named
Sundara Pandya, is said to have asked the Chola king to induce some of
the Vaisyas to settle down in the Pandya territory. They accordingly
once more emigrated in a body, and reached the village of Onkarakudi
on a Friday (the constellation Astham being in the ascendant on that
day). They were allowed to settle in the tract of country north of the
river Vaigai, east of the Piranmalai, and south of Vellar. Those from
the east street settled at Ilayaththukudi, those from the west street
at Ariyur, and those from the south street at Sundarapattanam. Thus
the Chettis became divided into three endogamous sections, of which
the Ilayaththukudi and Sundarapattanam are found at the present day
in the Madura district. The members of the Ariyur section migrated
to the west coast on the destruction of their village. The members
of the Ilayaththukudi section became the Nattukottais. They, not
being satisfied with only one place of worship, requested the king
to give them more temples. Accordingly, temples were provided for
different groups at Maththur, Vairavanpatti, Iraniyur, Pillayarpatti,
Nemam, Iluppaikudi, Suraikudi, and Velangkudi. At the present day,
the Nattukottai Chettis are divided into the following divisions
(kovils or temples) and exogamous sub-divisions:--


    1. Ilayaththukudi kovil--
            Okkurudaiyar.
            Pattanasamiar.
            Perumaruthurudaiyar.
            Kazhanivasakkudaiyar.
            Kinkinikkudaiyar.
            Perasendurudaiyar.
            Siruseththurudaiyar.
    2. Maththur kovil--
            Uraiyur.
            Arumbakur.
            Manalur.
            Mannur.
            Kannur.
            Karuppur.
            Kulaththur.
    3. Vairavan kovil--
            Sirukulaththur.
            Kazhanivasal.
            Marudendrapuram.
    4. Iraniyur kovil.
    5. Pillayarpatti kovil.
    6. Nemam kovil.
    7. Iluppaikudi kovil.
    8. Suraikudi kovil.
    9. Velangkudi kovil.


When Nattukottai Chettis adopt children, they must belong to the
same temple division. An adopted son is called Manjanir Puthiran, or
turmeric-water son, because, at the ceremony of adoption, the lad has
to drink turmeric-water. [113] In villages where their main temples
are situated, the temple manager is obliged to give food to stranger
Chettis, and charge for it if they belong to another temple division.

According to a variant of the story relating to the origin of the
Nattukottai Chettis, "they were formerly merchants at the court of the
Chola kings who ruled at Kaveripattanam, at one time a flourishing
sea-port at the mouth of the Cauveri, from which they emigrated
in a body on being persecuted by one of them, and first settled at
Nattarasankottai, about three miles north-east of Sivaganga."

By other castes, the Nattukottai Chettis are said to be the descendants
of the offspring of unions between a Shanan and a Muhammadan and Uppu
Korava women. Some of the peculiarities of the caste are pointed out
in support of the story. Thus, Nattukottai men shave their heads
like Muhammadans, and both men and women have the lobes of their
ears dilated like the older Shanans. Their girls wear necklaces
of shell beads like Korava women, and the women delight in making
baskets for recreation, as the Korava women do for sale. The caste is
sometimes spoken of as Uppu (salt) Maruhira Chetti. The arguments and
illustrations are naturally much resented by the Nattukottai Chettis,
who explain the obnoxious name by the story that they were formerly
very poor, and made a living by selling salt.

The Nattukottai Chettis have recourse to panchayats (councils)
in matters affecting the community. They have, Mr. Sundara Aiyar
writes, "been at any rate till recently remarkable for settling their
differences out of court. The influence of the elders in preventing
litigation is very strong. They conciliate the disputants as far as
possible and, after reducing the difference between them to a minimum,
they often get their signatures to an award, in which a blank is left
to decide the still existing point of difference, the disputants
agreeing, after putting in their signatures, to the mediators'
filling in the blank, and deciding the dispute as they choose. We
are afraid that this spirit of give-and-take is now unfortunately
diminishing, and the arbitrament of the courts is more often resorted
to than before." There are, among the Nattukottai Chettis, two forms
of panchayat, called madaththuvasal mariyal (matam panchayat) and
kovilvasal mariyal (temple panchayat), of which, at the present day,
only the latter is in vogue. For every temple there is a manager, an
assistant, and a servant called Vairavi, who must be a Melakkaran. The
aggrieved party lodges his complaint with the manager, who sends word
to the leading men of the temple division concerned. The complainant
and defendant are summoned to attend a council meeting, and the
evidence is recorded by the temple manager. If the accused falls to put
in an appearance, the Vairavi is sent to his house, to take therefrom
adavu (security) in the shape of some article belonging to him. In a
recent case, a wealthy Nattukottai Chetti promised his brother's widow
that she should be allowed to adopt a boy. But, as the promise was not
fulfilled, she complained to the temple; and, as her brother-in-law did
not attend the council meeting, the Vairavi went to his house, and,
in his absence, abstracted the adavu. This was regarded as a great
insult, and there was some talk of the case going into court. Matters
such as the arrangement of marriage contracts, monetary disputes,
family discussions, and the like, are referred to the temple council
for settlement. Final decisions are never recorded in writing, but
delivered by word of mouth. Those who fail to abide by the decision
of the council do not receive a garland from the temple for their
marriage, and without this garland a marriage cannot take place.

It is noted by Mr. Hayavadana Rao that each of the kovils or temples
"is managed by Karyakarans, who are nominated to the place by the
local elders. These Karyakarans act as Panchayatdars, and decide all
civil cases referred to them. If a case is first referred to them,
it may, if necessary, be carried over again to the established courts
of the country. But, if once a case is first taken to the courts, they
would not entertain it before themselves. They enforce their decrees
(1) by refusing to give the garland of flowers at the marriage time,
(2) by exercising the power of excommunication."

Every Nattukottai Chetti youth has to perform a ceremony called Suppidi
before marriage. On the Karthika day, when the constellation Krithikai
is in the ascendant, he is taken on horseback to a Pillayar (Ganesa)
temple, where he worships, and whirls a bag of burning charcoal tied
to a long string round his head. In front of the temple he burns
a booth (chokkapane), which has been set up, and with the ashes
his forehead is marked. On his return home, and at the entrance of
Nattukottai houses which he passes, rice lamps are waved before him
(alathi). In like manner, every girl has to go through a ceremony,
called thiruvadhirai, before marriage. On the day of the Arudradarsanam
festival, she is bathed and decorated. A necklace of gold beads is
placed on her neck instead of the necklace of glass beads (pasimani),
which she has hitherto worn. She proceeds, with a silver cup, to the
houses where other girls are performing the ceremony, and bawls out:--

I have come dancing; give me avarakkai (Dolichos Lablab beans).

I have come singing; give me padavarangkai (Cyamopsis beans).

I have come speaking; give me sorakkai (Lagenaria  fruit).

Various kinds of vegetables are placed on the silver vessel, cooked,
and distributed. Cakes, called dosai, are made in the house, and,
during their preparation, holes are made in them by married women with
an iron style. These cakes are also distributed, and it is taken as
an insult if any individual does not receive one.

Every Nattukottai Chetti is said to have the inviolable right to claim
the hand of his paternal aunt's daughter. This being so, ill-assorted
marriages are quite common, the putative father being often but a
child. [114] The marriage ceremonies commence with the giving of
gold for the bride's neck. On an auspicious day, the bridegroom's
party give a gold coin to a goldsmith, who beats it into a thin
sheet, and goes home after receiving betel, etc. On the first day
of the marriage rites, a feast is given to the bridegroom's family,
and female ancestors are worshipped. On the following day, the
presentation of the dowry (sireduththal) takes place. The presents,
which are often of considerable value, are laid out for inspection, and
an inventory of them is made. Perishable articles, such as rice, ghi
(clarified butter), dhal (Cajanus indicus), and fruits are sold. The
bride's presents are taken to the house of the bridegroom, those who
carry them being rewarded with betel, a silk fan, scent bottle, silk
handkerchief, bottle of chocolate, a tin of biscuits, and a brass
vessel. On the third day, garlands are received from the temples
to which the bride and bridegroom belong. The bride's party go to
the house of the bridegroom, taking on a tray a silk handkerchief
and cloth, and in a silver vessel fifty rupees, betel, etc. These
are presented to the bridegroom. This ceremony is called mappillai
ariyappothal, or going to examine the son-in-law. The next item on
the programme is nalkuriththal, or fixing the day. The bridegroom's
party proceed to the house of the bride, taking with them two cocoanuts
wrapped up in a blanket, betel, turmeric, etc., as a present. The bride
is bathed and decorated, and purangkaliththal is proceeded with. She
stands by the side of her grandmother, and a Brahman purohit, taking
up a few leafy margosa (Melia Azadirachta) twigs, touches the girl's
shoulders, head, and knees with them, and throws them away. Her glass
bead necklace is then removed. At the uppu-eduththal (salt carrying)
ceremony, the bridegroom's party carry a basket containing salt,
a bundle containing nine kinds of grains, and a palmyra scroll for
writing the marriage contract on, to the bride's house. The sacred fire
is lighted, and homam performed by the Brahman purohit. An old man,
who has had a number of children, and belongs to a temple other than
that of a bride, and the bridegroom's sister, then tie the tali string
round her neck. This string bears a large tali, about seven inches long
and four inches broad, and seventeen to twenty-three gold ornaments,
often of considerable value. Some of them have very sharp points, so
that accidents sometimes arise from the points sticking in the eyes
of babies carried by women. For every day wear, the massive ornaments
are replaced by a smaller set. Immediately after the tali has been
tied, the marriage contract (isagudi manam) is written. Two copies
are made, for the bride and bridegroom respectively. As an example
of a marriage contract, the following may be cited: "This is written
for the marriage celebrated on ... between Subramanyan, the son of
Okkurudaiyan Arunachelam Chetti Ramanadhan Chetti and Valliammai,
the daughter of Arumbakurudaiyan K. Narayana Chetti, both formerly of
Ilayaththukudi, at the village of.... The value of jewels given to
the girl is ... of gold; his dowry amounts to ...; money for female
servant ...; sirattuchukram money ...; free gift of jewels.... This
esaikudimanam was written by me at.... Signed Ramanadhan Chetti." The
bridegroom goes on horseback to a Pillayar temple where he worships,
and then proceeds in procession through various streets to the
bride's house, accompanied by his sister carrying milk in a vessel,
and a cooly bearing a bundle of seed rice. At every Chetti house
the procession halts, and coloured rice lights are waved before
the bridegroom. At the entrance to the bride's house, he is met
by the bride, whose sister-in-law pushes the couple against each
other. Hence the ceremony is called mappillaikuidiththukattal,
or showing the bride to the bridegroom by pushing her. The couple
are then conducted to a dais within the house, and wristlets made of
cotton cloth are tied on by the purohit. They exchange cocoanuts and
garlands, and, amid the blowing of the conch shell (musical instrument)
by women, the bride's mother touches the couple with turmeric, ashes,
sandal, etc. On the fourth day, money called veththilai surul rupai
(betel-roll money) is given to the newly-married couple by Chettis
and the maternal uncles. A silver vessel, containing betel and two
rupees, is given to the bridegroom by his father-in-law. The bridegroom
usually carries on his shoulders a long purse of silk or red cloth,
called valluvaippai, into which he puts the betel and other things
which are given to him. On the last day of the marriage ceremonies,
toe-rings and wristlets are removed, and the bridal pair eat together.

In connection with pregnancy, two ceremonies are performed, called
respectively marunthidal (medicine giving) and thirthamkudiththal
(drinking holy water). The former is celebrated at about the fifth
month. On an auspicious day, the sister-in-law of the pregnant woman,
amid the blowing of the conch-shell by females, extracts the juice from
the leaves of five plants, and gives to the woman to drink. During
the seventh month the woman is given consecrated water (thirtham)
from the temple. All first-born children, both male and female,
have to go through a ceremony called pudhumai (newness). When they
are two years old, on an auspicious day, fixed by a Brahman purohit,
the maternal uncle of the child ties on its neck strings of coral
and glass beads, to which ornaments of pearls and precious stones are
added in the case of the wealthy. The child is further decorated with
other ornaments, and placed in an oval wooden tray, which is held
by the mother and her sister-in-law. They go round three times with
the tray, and the child's aunt, taking it up, carries it round to be
blessed by those who have assembled. Presents of money are given to
the child by relations and friends, and the maternal uncles have to
give a larger sum than the others. On the second or third day the
coral and bead ornaments are removed, and, on the fourth day, the
child, if a male, is shaved, and must thenceforth have the head clean
shaved throughout life. "The story goes that, when the Chola king of
Kaveripattanam persecuted them, the members of this caste resolved
not to shave their heads until they quitted his territories. When they
reached their new settlement they shaved their heads completely as a
memorial of their stern resolution." [115] When a death occurs among
the Nattukottai Chettis, news thereof is conveyed by the Thandakaran,
or caste messenger. Those who come to condole with the bereaved family
are received with outstretched hands (kainittikolludhal). The head of
the corpse is shaved, and it is washed and decorated. In front of the
house a pandal (booth), supported by four Thespesia populnea posts, and
roofed with twigs of Eugenia Jambolana, is erected. Beneath this the
corpse is laid, and all present go round it thrice. While the corpse
is being got ready for conveyance to the burning ground, the daughters
and sisters of the deceased husk paddy (unhusked rice). On the way
to the burning ground, the son carries the fire. If the deceased
is a young boy or girl, the pandal is removed after the funeral;
otherwise it is removed, on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday, within
four days. The Nattukottais restrict the name pandal to the funeral
booth, the marriage booth being called kavanam or kottagai. Even an
ordinary shed set up in front of a house is not called a pandal,
as the name is associated with funerals. On the day following the
funeral, the bigger fragments of bones are collected by a barber, and
given to the son, who places them in an earthen pot. A Pandaram offers
fruit, food, etc., to the deceased. Eight days afterwards, a feast,
at which meat is partaken of for the first time since the death, is
given to the relations of the dead person, and their pollution is at
an end. They may not, however, enter a temple for thirty days. On the
sixteenth day after death, the final death ceremonies (karmandhiram)
are performed, and liberal presents of money, religious books, such
as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Periya Puranam, wooden spoons for
domestic use, etc., are given to Brahmans.

There are three matams, whereat the Nattukottai Chettis are initiated
into their religion, at Patharakkudi (or Padanakkudi) and Kila
for males, and Tulavur for females. They are Saivites, but also,
more especially the women, worship such minor deities as Aiyanar,
Muneswara, and Karuppan. They are also said to worship two village
goddesses, called Sellattamman and Kannudayamman, at Nattarasankottai.

Nattukottai men have the lobes of the ears artificially dilated, but
seldom wear ornaments therein. They frequently have a gold chain round
the loins, and wear finger rings set with diamonds. The wives even
of wealthy men wear a cheap body cloth, and do menial house work,
such as cleaning the kitchen utensils. They plait baskets, and,
in some houses, wheels for spinning cotton may be seen.

Like other trading classes in Southern India, the Nattukottai
Chettis have a trade language of their own, which varies according
to locality. In the city of Madras they have three tables, for annas,
rupees, and tens of rupees respectively. Each of these is formed out
of the syllables of certain words. Thus, the anna table is composed
of the syllables of Tiripurasundari, the goddess at Madura, which is
a great centre for Nattukottai Chettis. The syllables (in the inverse
order), and their money equivalent are as follows:--


                             Ri    1/2 anna.
                             Da    3/4 anna.
                             Un    1 anna.
                             Su    2 annas.
                             Ra    3 annas.
                             Pu    4 annas.
                             Ri    8 annas.
                             Ti   12 annas.


The rupee table is composed of the word Vedagirisvararthunai,
meaning with the help of Vedagirisvarar, the god at Tirukalikundram
near Madras:--


                            Ve     1 rupee.
                            Da     2 rupees.
                            Gi     3 rupees.
                            Ri     4 rupees.
                            I      5 rupees.
                            Is     6 rupees.
                            Va     7 rupees.
                            Ra     8 rupees.
                            A      9 rupees.
                            Thu   10 rupees.
                            Nai   11 rupees.


The tens-of-rupees table is made up from the word Tirukalikundram:--


                            Ti    10 rupees.
                            Ru    20 rupees.
                            Ik    30 rupees.
                            Ka    40 rupees.
                            Li    50 rupees.
                            Ik    60 rupees.
                            Ku    70 rupees.
                            In    80 rupees.
                            Ra    90 rupees.
                            Im   100 rupees.


An anna is sometimes called vanakkam; a rupee is known as velle
(white).

Nattupattan.--A section of Ambalavasis. (See Unni.)

Nattusamban.--Samban (a name of Siva) is a title of some Tamil
Paraiyans. Nattusamban denotes a village Paraiyan.

Nattuvan.--Defined in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as "an
occupational term, meaning a dancing-master, which is applied to males
of the dancing-girl castes, who teach dancing." At nautch parties,
when the Deva-dasis dance, the Nattuvans play the accompaniment on
the drum, bag-pipe, flute, clarionet, cymbals, etc. At the initiation
of a Kaikolan girl as a Deva-dasi, her dancing-master seats himself
behind her, and, grasping her legs, moves them up and down in time
with the music. Some Occhans in the Tamily country, who teach dancing
to Deva-dasis, are also called Nattuvan.

Natuvili (middle).--A sub-division of Paraiyans in Travancore.

Navakoti (nine crores).--An exogamous sept of Desur Reddi. A crore
is one hundred lakhs, i.e., 10,000,000.

Navalipitta (peacock).--A sept of Jatapu.

Navayat.--The Navayats or Navayets are summed up, in the Madras Census
Report, 1901, as "a Musalman tribe, which appears to have originally
settled at Bhatkal in North Canara, and is known on the west coast
as Bhatkali. The derivation of the name is much disputed. There are
five sub-divisions of the tribe, namely, Kureshi, Mehkeri, Chida,
Gheas, and Mohagir. It takes a high place among Musalmans, and does
not intermarry with other tribes."

Of the Nevayets, the following account, based on the Saadut Nama,
and conversations with members of the community, is given by Colonel
Wilks. [116] "Nevayet is generally supposed to be a corruption of
the Hindustanee and Mahratta terms for new-comer. About the end of
the first century of the Hejira, or the early part of the eighth
century of the Christian era, Hejaj Bin Yusuf, Governor of Irak, on
the part of the Khalif Abd-al-Melik-bin-Merwan, a monster abhorred
for his cruelties even among Musalmans, drove some respectable and
opulent persons of the house of Hâshem to the desperate resolution
of abandoning for ever their native country. Aided by the good
offices of the inhabitants of Kufa, a town of celebrity in those
days, situated near to the tomb of Ali, west of the Euphrates, they
departed with their families, dependents, and effects, and embarked
on ships prepared for their reception in the Persian Gulf. Some of
these landed on that part of the western coast of India called the
Concan; the others to the eastward of Cape Comorin; the descendants
of the former are the Nevayets; of the latter the Lubbe. The Lubbe
pretend to one common origin with the Nevayets, and attribute their
black complexion to intermarriage with the natives; but the Nevayets
affirm that the Lubbe are the descendants of their domestic slaves;
and there is certainly, in the physiognomy of this very numerous class,
and in their stature and form, a strong resemblance to the natives
of Abyssinia. The Nevayets of the western coast preserved the purity
of their original blood by systematically avoiding intermarriage with
the Indians, and even with the highest Muhammadan families, for many
centuries after the establishment of the Musalman dynasties of the
Deckan. Even at this time there are some Nevayets whose complexions
approach the European freshness. Their adherence to each other as
members of the same family preserved their respectability; and they
were famed at the Muhammadan courts of the Deckan for uniting the
rare qualities of the soldier, the scholar, and the gentleman."

Navutiyan.--A synonym of Velakkattalavan.

Nayadi.--In the Malabar Manual, the Nayadis are briefly summed up
as follows. "Of the Nayadis, or lowest caste among the Hindus--the
dog-eaters--nothing definite is known. They are most persistent in
their clamour for charity, and will follow at a respectful distance,
for miles together, any person walking, driving, or boating. If
anything is given to them, it must be laid down, and, after the person
offering it has proceeded a sufficient distance, the recipient comes
timidly forward, and removes it."

The subjects, whom I examined and measured at Shoranur, though living
only about three miles off, had, by reason of the pollution which
they traditionally carry with them, to avoid walking over the long
bridge which spans the river, and follow a circuitous route of many
miles. Eventually they had to climb, or be ignominiously hoisted over
the wall of the bungalow. Ignorant of the orthodox manner of using a
chair, the first victim of the craniometer, who had to sit while his
head was under examination, assumed the undignified position with which
Eton boys who have been swished are familiar. Measurements concluded,
men, women, and children sat down on the grass to an ample feast. And,
before they departed homeward, copious blessings were invoked on me,
to a chorus composed of the repetition of a single shrill note, not
unlike that of the first note of a jackal cry. To quote the newspaper
account of my doings, which refers to the 'monograms' issued by me on
matters ethnological: "In the evening the kind gentleman gave them a
sumptuous treat of canji and curry, and gave them also copper coins,
toddy, and arrack. The poor people left the place immensely pleased,
and were safely escorted to the British side of the river from the
Cochin territory."

When travelling on the public roads in Malabar or Cochin, one may
observe a few ragged and dirty cloths spread near the road, with one
or two copper coins on them; and, at the same time, hear a chorus
of monotonous stentorian voices at a distance of a hundred yards or
more, emanating from a few miserable specimens of humanity, standing
ghost-like with dishevelled hair, and a long strip of leaves tied
round the waist, or clad in a dirty loin-cloth. The coins represent
the alms given by the charitably disposed traveller, and the persons
are Nayadis. I am told that, near Kollatur, there is a stone called
the Nayadi parai, which is believed to be a man who was turned into
stone for not giving alms to a Nayadi.

The name Nayadi is equivalent to Nayattukar, i.e., hunter. The Nayadis
are, in fact, professional hunters, and are excellent shots. The
Nayars and other higher classes, used formerly to take them with
them on hunting and shooting expeditions. But, since the Arms Act
came into force, the Nayadis find this occupation gone. They are
also good archers, and used to kill deer, pigs, hares, etc., and
eat them. These animals are now difficult to get, as the forests are
reserved by Government, and private forests are denuded of their trees
for use as fuel, and for house-building by a growing population,
and for consumption on the railway. The suggestion has been made
that the name Nayadi is derived from the fact of their eating otters,
which live in hill streams, and are called nir-nai (water-dog).

The approach of a Nayadi within a distance of three hundred feet
is said to contaminate a Brahman, who has to bathe and put on a new
sacred thread, to cleanse himself of the pollution. The Nayadis, in
fact, hold the lowest position in the social scale, and consequently
labour under the greatest disadvantage.

The Nayadis live mostly in isolated huts on the tops of hills,
and generally select a shola, or glade, where there is a pond or
stream. Some families live on the land of their landlords, whose
crops they watch by night, to guard them against the attacks of wild
beasts. Sometimes they are engaged in ploughing, sowing, weeding,
transplanting, and reaping, the rice crop, or in plantain (banana)
gardens. I take exception to the comparison by a recent author of the
British Empire to the banana (Musa) throwing out aërial roots. The
banyan (Ficus bengalensis) must have been meant.

The male members of the community are called Nayadis, and the
females Nayadichis. The boys are called Molayans, and the young girls
Manichis. Succession is in the male line (makkathayam).

A thatched shed with palm-leaf walls, a few earthen pots, and a
chopper, constitute the Nayadi's property. He occasionally collects
honey and bees-wax, and also the gum (matti pasai) from the mattipal
tree (Ailanthus malabarica), which, when burnt, is used as temple
incense and for fumigating the bed-chamber. He receives toddy in
exchange for the honey and wax, and copper coins for the gum, with
which he purchases luxuries in the shape of salt, chillies, dried fish,
tobacco, and liquor. He makes rough ropes from the malanar plant, and
the bark of the kayyul tree (Bauhinia). The bark is soaked in water,
sun-dried, and the fibre manufactured into rope. He also makes slings
of fibre, wherewith he knocks over birds, and mats from a species
of Cyperus.

According to custom, the Nayadi has to offer four ropes, each eight
yards long, to every Nambutiri illam, and two ropes to every Nayar
house near his settlement, on the occasion of the Vishu and Onam
festivals. In return he receives a fixed measure of paddy (rice). The
ropes are used for tethering cattle, and for drawing water from
the well. By a wise dispensation of the ancient local chieftains,
to each Nayadi is assigned a desom (portion of a parish), within
which he enjoys certain privileges. And no Nayadi has any business
to poach on his preserves. The privileges are these. On birthdays,
anniversaries, and festive occasions, the Nayadi receives his share
of curry and rice, tied up in an old cloth. When a person is sick, a
black country-made kambli (blanket), with gingelly (Sesamum), mustard,
turmeric, and cocoanut tied up in the four corners, is passed three
times over the patient and presented to a Nayadi, together with a
palm umbrella, a stick, and a cucumber. This is called kala-dhanam,
or offering to Yama, the god of death, whose attack has to be warded
off by propitiatory offerings. The Nayadi accepts the gifts, and
prays for the long life and prosperity of the giver. Placing them
before his own family god, he prays that the life of the sick person
may be spared, and that the disease may not be transferred to him.

Like the Cherumans, the Nayadis drink, but they cannot afford to buy
as much toddy as the former, for the Cheruman works regularly for a
daily wage. Monkeys, which are very troublesome in gardens, are shot
down by the higher classes, and given to the Nayadis to eat. Their
dietary includes rats, mungooses, pigs, deer, paraquets, the koel
(cuckoo), doves, quails, fowls, paddy-birds, hares, tortoises, Varanus
(lizard), crocodiles, and fish. They abstain from eating the flesh of
dogs, cats, snakes, land-crabs, shell-fish, and beef. Among vegetables,
the tubers of yams (Dioscorea) and Colocasia are included. They produce
fire by friction with two sticks of Litsoea sebifera, in the shorter
of which a cavity is scooped out. They do not, like the Todas, put
powdered charcoal in the cavity, but ignite the cloth rag by means
of the red-hot wood dust produced by the friction.

When a woman is pregnant, she craves for the flesh of a monkey or
jungle squirrel during the sixth month. During the seventh month,
a ceremony is performed, to relieve her of the influence of devils,
who may be troubling her. It is called ozhinnukalayuka. Abortion is
attributed to the malign influence of evil spirits. To ward off this,
they tie round the neck a magic thread, and invoke the aid of their
hill gods and the spirits of their ancestors. They erect a special
hut for delivery, to which the woman retires. When she is in labour,
her husband shampooes his own abdomen, while praying to the gods for
her safe delivery--a custom which seems to suggest the couvade. As
soon as his wife is delivered, he offers thanks to the gods "for
having got the baby out." The woman observes pollution for ten days,
during which her husband avoids seeing her. Any deformity in the child
is attributed to the evil influence of the gods. On the twenty-eighth
day after birth, the ceremony of naming the child takes place. The
name given to the first-born son is that of the paternal grandfather,
and to the first-born daughter that of the maternal grandmother. In the
fifth year, the ear-boring ceremony takes place, and the operation is
performed by the child's uncle. A piece of brass wire takes the place
of ear-rings. Girls wear a plug of wood in the lobes. The Nayadichis
do not, like the Cheruman women, wear bracelets, but have many rows
of beads round their necks, and hanging over their bosoms.

When a girl reaches puberty, a Nayadichi leads her to a tank (pond),
in which she bathes, after a pandi, composed of several pieces of
plantain leaf tied together, has been carried three or four times
round her. She must not touch any utensils, and must abstain from
touching her head with the hand, and, if the skin itches, the body
must be scratched with a small stick.

Concerning a very interesting form of marriage, Mr. T. K. Gopal
Panikkar writes as follows. [117] "A large hut is constructed of
'holly' and other leaves, inside which the girl is ensconced. Then
all the young men and women of the village gather round the hut,
and form a ring about it. The girl's father, or the nearest male
relative, sits a short distance from the crowd, with a tom-tom in his
hands. Then commences the music, and a chant is sung by the father,
which has been freely translated as follows:--


    Take the stick, my sweetest daughter,
    Now seize the stick, my dearest love,
    Should you not capture the husband you wish for,
    Remember, 'tis fate decides whom you shall have.


"All the young men, who are eligible for marriage, arm themselves
with a stick each, and begin to dance round the hut, inside which
the bride is seated. This goes on for close on an hour, when each of
them thrusts his stick inside the hut through the leafy covering. The
girl has then to take hold of one of these sticks from the inside,
and the owner of the stick which she seizes becomes the husband of
the concealed bride. This ceremony is followed up by feasting, after
which the marriage is consummated."

A photograph by Mr. F. Fawcett shows a young man with a ring hanging
round his neck, as a sign that he was still unattached. But he was
soon about to part with it, for a present of a rupee enabled him to
find a girl, and fix up a marriage, within two days.

Adultery is regarded with abhorrence, and there is a belief that
those who are guilty of it are liable to be attacked by wild beasts
or demons. On the occasion of the marriage of a divorced woman's son
or daughter, the mother attends the festivities, if she receives a
cordial invitation from her children. But she does not look her former
husband straight in the face, and returns to her home the same evening.

When a man lies at the point of death, it is usual to distribute
rice kanji to the people, who, after taking their fill, become
possessed with the power of predicting the fate in store for the sick
man. According as the taste of the kanji turns to that of a corpse,
or remains unaltered, the death or recovery of the patient is foretold
in their deep and loud voices. [118] The Nayadis either burn or bury
their dead. Several layers of stones are placed within the grave, and
its site is marked by three big stones, one in the middle, and one at
each end. The burnt ashes of the bones are collected, and preserved
in a pot, which is kept close to the hut of the deceased. Pollution
is observed for ten days, during which the enangan (relations by
marriage) cook for the mourners. On the tenth day, the sons of the
deceased go, together with their relations, to the nearest stream,
and bury the bones on the bank. The sons bathe, and perform beli,
so that the soul of the departed may enter heaven, and ghosts may not
trouble them. After the bath, a sand-heap, representing the deceased,
is constructed, and on it are placed a piece of plantain leaf, some
unboiled rice, and karuka grass (Cynodon Dactylon). Over these water
is poured twelve times, and the sons reverently prostrate themselves
before the heap. They then return home, and cow-dung, mixed with water,
is sprinkled over them by their relations, and poured over the floor
of the hut. In this manner they are purified. Some time during the
seventh month after death, according to another account, the grave,
in which the corpse has been buried, is dug up, and the bones are
carefully collected, and spread out on a layer of sticks arranged
on four stones placed at the corners of a pit. The bones are then
covered with more sticks, and the pile is lighted. The partially burnt
bones are subsequently collected by the eldest son of the deceased,
and carried to the hut in a new pot, which is tied to a branch of a
neighbouring tree. This rite concluded, he bathes, and, on his return,
the adiyanthiram (death ceremony) day is fixed. On this day, the eldest
son removes the pot, and buries it by the side of a stream, near which
a heap of sand is piled up. On this all the agnates pour water three
times, prostrate themselves before it, and disperse. The ceremony is
brought to a close with a square meal. Some time ago an old Nayadi,
who had the reputation of being a good shot, died. His son obtained
a handful of gunpowder from a gun-license holder, and set fire to it
near the grave, with a view to satisfying the soul of the deceased.

The chief gods of the Nayadis are Mallan, Malavazhi, and Parakutti,
to whom offerings of toddy, rice, and the flesh of monkeys are
made. Parakutti it is who aids them in their hunting expeditions,
bringing the game to them, and protecting them from wild beasts. If
they do not succeed in bagging the expected game, they abuse him.

The Nayadis are also ancestor worshippers, and keep representations
of the departed, to which offerings of rice and toddy are made during
the Onam, Vishu, and other festivals. Beneath a mango tree in a paramba
(garden) were forty-four stones set up in a circle round the tree. One
of the stones was a beli-kal (beli stone), such as is placed round
the inner shrines of temples. The remainder resembled survey stones,
but were smaller in size. The stones represented forty-four Nayadis,
who had left the world. On the ceremonial occasions referred to above,
a sheep or fowl is killed, and the blood allowed to fall on them, puja
(worship) is performed, and solemn prayers are offered that the souls
of the departed may protect them against wild beasts and snakes. A
Nayadi asserted that, if he came across a tiger, he would invoke the
aid of his ancestors, and the animal would be rendered harmless.

Whenever the Nayadis labour under any calamity or disease, they
consult the Parayan astrologer. And, when a woman is possessed by
devils, the Parayan is summoned. He is furnished with a thread and
some toddy. Muttering certain prayers to Parakutti and other deities,
he ties the thread round the woman's neck, drinks the toddy, and the
devil leaves her. When a person is believed to be under the influence
of a devil or the evil eye, salt, chillies, tamarind, oil, mustard,
cocoanut, and a few pice (copper coins) in a vessel are waved thrice
round the head of the affected individual, and given to a Nayadi,
whose curse is asked for. There is this peculiarity about a Nayadi's
curse, that it always has the opposite effect. So, when he is asked
to curse one who has given him alms, he does so by invoking misery
and evil upon him. By the Nayadi money is called chembu kasu (copper
coin), food elamattam (exchange of leaves), and having no food nakkan
illa (nothing to lick on). As a protection against snake-bite, the
Nayadis wear a brass toe-ring. And, when engaged in catching rats
in their holes, they wear round the wrist a snake-shaped metal ring,
to render them safe against snakes which may be concealed in the hole.

The Nayadis who live within the jurisdiction of the Kavalapara Nayar
near Shoranur wear the kudumi (front lock of hair), as there are no
Mappillas (Muhammadans) to molest them. The Kavalapara Nayar was
at one time an important chief, and directed all Nambutiri jenmis
(landlords) who held land within his jurisdiction to bind themselves
not to let the land to Mappillas. Nayadis of other parts are not
allowed by the Mappillas to wear the kudumi, and, if they do so,
they are taken for Parayans and professional sorcerers, and beaten.

Some Nayadis have become converts to Christianity, others to
Muhammadanism, and maintain themselves by begging for alms from
Muhammadans. They are called Thoppyitta (cap-wearing) Nayadis.

The priest of the Nayadis is called Muppan. His appointment is
hereditary, and he enquires into all matters affecting the community,
and can excommunicate a guilty person. [119]

Average height, 155 cm.; nasal index, 86.

Nayar.--"The Nayars," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, [120] "are a Dravidian
caste, or rather a community, for we find several distinct elements
with totally different occupations among the people who call themselves
by this title. The original Nayars were undoubtedly a military body,
holding lands and serving as a militia, but the present Nayar caste
includes persons who, by hereditary occupation, are traders, artisans,
oilmongers, palanquin-bearers, and even barbers and washermen. The
fact seems to be that successive waves of immigration brought from the
Canarese and Tamil countries different castes and different tribes; and
these, settling down in the country, adopted the customs and manners,
and assumed the caste names of the more respectable of the community
that surrounded them. This process of assimilation is going on even
yet. Chettis of Coimbatore, for example, who settled in Palghat and
Valluvanad within living memory, have developed by this time into
Nayars. In the census schedules we find instances in which the males
of a house affix the term Nayar to their names, while the names of the
females end in Chettichi. Gollas entering the country from the north
have similarly, in course of time, assumed Nayar customs and manners,
and are now styled Nayars. Again the rajahs and chieftains of the
country sometimes raised individuals or classes who had rendered them
meritorious service to the rank of Nayars. These men were thereafter
styled Nayars, but formed a separate sub-division with little or no
communion with the rest of the Nayar class, until at least, after
the lapse of generations, when their origin was forgotten. Nayar may
thus at present be considered to be a term almost as wide and general
as Sudra."

According to the Brahman tradition, the Nayar caste is the result of
union between the Nambudris with Deva, Gandharva and Rakshasa women
introduced by Parasurama; and this tradition embodies the undoubted
fact that the caste by its practice of hypergamy has had a very
large infusion of Aryan blood. In origin the Nayars were probably a
race of Dravidian immigrants, who were amongst the first invaders of
Malabar, and as conquerors assumed the position of the governing and
land-owning class. The large admixture of Aryan blood combined with
the physical peculiarities of the country would go far to explain
the very marked difference between the Nayar of the present day and
what may be considered the corresponding Dravidian races in the rest
of the Presidency. [121]

In connection with the former position of the Nayars as protectors
of the State, it is noted by Mr. Logan [122] that "in Johnston's
'Relations of the most famous Kingdom in the world' (1611), there
occurs the following quaintly written account of this protector
guild. 'It is strange to see how ready the Souldiour of this country
is at his Weapons: they are all gentile men, and tearmed Naires. At
seven Years of Age they are put to School to learn the Use of their
Weapons, where, to make them nimble and active, their Sinnewes and
Joints are stretched by skilful Fellows, and annointed with the Oyle
Sesamus [gingelly: Sesamum indicum]: By this annointing they become
so light and nimble that they will winde and turn their Bodies as
if they had no Bones, casting them forward, backward, high and low,
even to the Astonishment of the Beholders. Their continual Delight
is in their Weapon, perswading themselves that no Nation goeth beyond
them in Skill and Dexterity.' And Jonathan Duncan, who visited Malabar
more than once as one of the Commissioners from Bengal in 1792-93,
and afterwards as Governor of Bombay, after quoting the following
lines from Mickle's Camoens, Book VII--


   'Poliar the labouring lower clans are named:
    By the proud Nayrs the noble rank is claimed;
    The toils of culture and of art they scorn:
    The shining faulchion brandish'd in the right--
    Their left arm wields the target in the fight'--


went on to observe: 'These lines, and especially the two last, contain
a good description of a Nayr, who walks along, holding up his naked
sword with the same kind of unconcern as travellers in other countries
carry in their hands a cane or walking staff. I have observed others
of them have it fastened to their back, the hilt being stuck in their
waist band, and the blade rising up and glittering between their
shoulders' (Asiatic Researches, V. 10, 18). M. Mahé de la Bourdonnais,
who had some experience of their fighting qualities in the field,
thus described them: 'Les Nairs sont de grands hommes basanés, légers,
et vigoureux: Ils n'ont pas d'autre profession que celle des armes,
et seraient de fort bons soldats, s'ils étiaent disciplinés: mais ils
combattent sans ordre, ils prennent la fuite dès qu'on les serre de
près avec quelque supèrioritê; pourtant, s'ils se voient pressés avec
vigueur et qu'ils se croient en danger, ils reviennent à la charge,
et ne se rendent jamais' (M. Esquer, Essai sur les Castes dans l'Inde,
page 181). Finally, the only British General of any note--Sir Hector
Munro--who had ever to face the Nayars in the field, thus wrote of
their modes of fighting:--

'One may as well look for a needle in a Bottle of Hay as any of them in
the daytime, they being lurking behind sand banks and bushes, except
when we are marching towards the Fort, and then they appear like bees
out in the month of June.' 'Besides which,' he continued, 'they point
their guns well, and fire them well also.' (Tellicherry Factory Diary,
March, 1761). They were, in short, brave light troops, excellent in
skirmishing, but their organization into small bodies with discordant
interests unfitted them to repel any serious invasion by an enemy
even moderately well organised. Among other strange Malayali customs,
Sheikh Zin-ud-din [123] noticed the fact that, if a chieftain was
slain, his followers attacked and obstinately persevered in ravaging
the slayer's country, and killing his people till their vengeance was
satisfied. This custom is doubtless that which was described so long
ago as in the ninth century A.D. by two Muhammadans, whose work was
translated by Renaudot (Lond., 1733). 'There are kings who, upon their
accession, observe the following ceremony. A quantity of cooked rice
was spread before the king, and some three or four hundred persons
came of their own accord, and received each a small quantity of rice
from the king's own hands after he himself had eaten some. By eating of
this rice they all engage themselves to burn themselves on the day the
king dies or is slain, and they punctually fulfil their promise.' Men,
who devoted themselves to certain death on great occasions, were termed
Amoucos by the Portuguese; and Barbosa, one of the Portuguese writers,
alluded to the practice as prevalent among the Nayars. Purchas has also
the following:--'The king of Cochin hath a great number of Gentlemen,
which he calleth Amocchi, and some are called Nairi: these two sorts of
men esteem not their lives anything, so that it may be for the honour
of the king.' The proper Malayalam term for such men was Chaver,
literally those who took up, or devoted themselves to death. It was
a custom of the Nayars, which was readily adopted by the Mappillas,
who also at times--as at the great Mahamakkam, twelfth year feast,
at Tirunavayi [124]--devoted themselves to death in the company of
Nayars for the honour of the Valluvanad Raja. And probably the frantic
fanatical rush of the Mappillas on British bayonets, which is not even
yet a thing of the past, is the latest development of this ancient
custom of the Nayars. The martial spirit of the Nayars in these piping
times of peace has quite died out for want of exercise. The Nayar
is more and more becoming a family man. Comparatively few of them
now-a-days even engage in hunting." According to an inscription of the
King Kulottunga I (A.D. 1083-84), he conquered Kudamalai-Nadu, i.e.,
the western hill country (Malabar), whose warriors, the ancestors of
the Nayars of the present day, perished to the last man in defending
their independence. [125]

The following description of the Nayars at the beginning of the
sixteenth century is given by Duarte Barbosa. [126] "The Nairs are
the gentry, and have no other duty than to carry on war, and they
continually carry their arms with them, which are swords, bows, arrows,
bucklers, and lances. They all live with the kings, and some of them
with other lords, relations of the kings, and lords of the country,
and with the salaried governors, and with one another. They are very
smart men, and much taken up with their nobility.... These Nairs,
besides being all of noble descent, have to be armed as knights by
the hand of a king or lord with whom they live, and until they have
been so equipped they cannot bear arms nor call themselves Nairs.... In
general, when they are seven years of age, they are immediately sent to
school to learn all manner of feats of agility and gymnastics for the
use of their weapons. First they learn to dance and then to tumble,
and for that purpose they render supple all their limbs from their
childhood, so that they can bend them in any direction.... These
Nairs live outside the towns separate from other people on their
estates which are fenced in. When they go anywhere, they shout to the
peasants, that they may get out of the way where they have to pass;
and the peasants do so, and, if they did not do it, the Nairs might
kill them without penalty. And, if a peasant were by misfortune to
touch a Nair lady, her relations would immediately kill her, and
likewise the man that touched her and all his relations. This, they
say, is done to avoid all opportunity of mixing the blood with that of
the peasants.... These are very clean and well-dressed women, and they
hold it in great honour to know how to please men. They have a belief
amongst them that the woman who dies a virgin does not go to paradise."

Writing in the eighteenth century, Hamilton states [127] that "it was
an ancient custom for the Samorin (Zamorin) to reign but twelve years,
and no longer. If he died before his term was expired, it saved him
a troublesome ceremony of cutting his own throat on a public scaffold
erected for that purpose. He first made a feast for all his nobility
and gentry, who were very numerous. After the feast he saluted his
guests, went on the scaffold, and very neatly cut his own throat
in the view of the assembly. His body was, a little while after,
burned with great pomp and ceremony, and the grandees elected a new
Samorin. Whether that custom was a religious or a civil ceremony
I know not, but it is now laid aside, and a new custom is followed
by the modern Samorin, that a jubilee is proclaimed throughout his
dominion at the end of twelve years, and a tent is pitched for him in
a spacious plain, and a great feast is celebrated for ten or twelve
days with mirth and jollity, guns firing night and day, so at the
end of the feast any four of the guests that have a mind to gain a
crown by a desperate action in fighting their way through thirty or
forty thousand of his guards, and kill the Samorin in his tent, he
that kills him succeeds him in his empire. In Anno 1695 one of these
jubilees happened, and the tent pitched near Ponnany, a sea-port of
his about fifteen leagues to the southward of Calicut. There were but
three men that would venture on that desperate action, who fell on,
with sword and target, among the guards, and, after they had killed
and wounded many, were themselves killed. One of the desperadoes
had a nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of age that kept close by
his uncle in the attack on the guards, and, when he saw him fall,
the youth got through the guards into the tent, and made a stroke
at his Majesty's head, and had certainly dispatched him if a large
brass lamp which was burning over his head had not marred the blow,
but, before he could make another, he was killed by the guards,
and I believe the same Samorin reigns yet."

It is noted by Sonnerat [128] that the Nayars "are the warriors; they
have also the privilege of enjoying all the women of their caste. Their
arms, which they constantly carry, distinguish them from the other
tribes. They are besides known by their insolent haughtiness. When they
perceive pariahs, they call out to them, even at a great distance,
to get out of their way, and, if any one of these unfortunate people
approaches too near a Nair, and through inadvertence touches him,
the Nair has a right to murder him, which is looked upon as a very
innocent action, and for which no complaint is ever made. It is true
that the pariahs have one day in the year when all the Nairs they
can touch become their slaves, but the Nairs take such precautions to
keep out of the way at the time, that an accident of that kind seldom
happens." It is further recorded by Buchanan [129] that "the whole of
these Nairs formed the militia of Malayala, directed by the Namburis
and governed by the Rajahs. Their chief delight is in arms, but they
are more inclined to use them for assassination or surprise, than in
the open field. Their submission to their superiors was great, but they
exacted deference from those under them with a cruelty and arrogance,
rarely practised but among Hindus in their state of independence. A
Nair was expected to instantly cut down a Tiar or Mucuai, who presumed
to defile him by touching his person; and a similar fate awaited a
slave, who did not turn out of the road as a Nair passed."

Nayar is commonly said to be derived from the Sanskrit Nayaka, a
leader, and to be cognate with Naik, and Nayudu or Naidu. In this
connection, Mr. L. Moore writes [130] that "if a reference is made
to the Anglo-Indian Glossary (Hobson-Jobson) by Yule and Burnell, it
will be found that the term Naik or Nayakan, and the word Nayar are
derived from the same Sanskrit original, and there is a considerable
amount of evidence to show that the Nayars of Malabar are closely
connected by origin with the Nayakans of Vijayanagar. [131] Xavier,
writing in 1542 to 1544, makes frequent references to men whom he
calls Badages, who are said to have been collectors of royal taxes,
and to have grievously oppressed Xavier's converts among the fishermen
of Travancore. [132] Dr. Caldwell, alluding to Xavier's letters, says
[133] that these Badages were no doubt Vadages or men from the North,
and is of opinion that a Jesuit writer of the time who called them
Nayars was mistaken, and that they were really Nayakans from Madura. I
believe, however, that the Jesuit rightly called them Nayars, for I
find that Father Organtino, writing in 1568, speaks of these Badages
as people from Narasinga (a kingdom north of Madura, lying close to
Bishnaghur). [134] Bishnaghur is, of course, Vijayanagar, and the
kingdom of Narasinga was the name frequently given by the Portuguese
to Vijayanagar. Almost every page of Mr. Sewell's interesting book on
Vijayanagar bears testimony to the close connection between Vijayanagar
and the West Coast. Dr. A. C. Burnell tells us that the kings who ruled
Vijayanagar during the latter half of the fourteenth century belonged
to a low non-Aryan caste, namely, that of Canarese cow-herds. [135]
They were therefore closely akin to the Nayars, one of the leading
Rajas among whom at the present time, although officially described
as a Samanta, is in reality of the Eradi, i.e., cow-herd caste. [136]
It is remarkable that Colonel (afterwards Sir Thomas) Munro, in the
memorandum written by him in 1802 [137] on the Poligars of the Ceded
Districts, when dealing with the cases of a number of Poligars who
were direct descendants of men who had been chiefs under the kings
of Vijayanagar, calls them throughout his report Naique or Nair,
using the two names as if they were identical. Further investigation
as to the connection of the Nayars of Malabar with the kingdom of
Vijayanagar would, I believe, lead to interesting results." In the
Journal of the Hon. John Lindsay (1783) it is recorded [138] that "we
received information that our arms were still successful on the Malabar
coast, and that our army was now advancing into the inland country;
whilst the Nayars and Polygars that occupy the jungles and mountains
near Seringapatam, thinking this a favourable opportunity to regain
their former independence, destroyed the open country, and committed
as many acts of barbarity as Hyder's army had done in the Carnatic."

"Some," Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes in a note on the Nayars of
Travancore, "believe that Nayar is derived from Naga (serpents),
as the Aryans so termed the earlier settlers of Malabar on account
of the special adoration which they paid to snakes. The Travancore
Nayars are popularly known as Malayala Sudras--a term which contrasts
them sharply with the Pandi or foreign Sudras, of whom a large
number immigrated into Travancore in later times. Another name by
which Nayars are sometimes known is Malayali, but other castes,
which have long inhabited the Malayalam country, can lay claim to
this designation with equal propriety. The most general title of
the Nayars is Pillai (child), which was once added to the names
of the Brahman dwellers in the south. It must, in all probability,
have been after the Brahmans changed their title to Aiyar (father),
by which name the non-Brahman people invariably referred to them,
that Sudras began to be termed Pillai. We find that the Vellalas
of the Tamil country and the Nayars of Travancore called themselves
Pillai from very early times. The formal ceremony of paying down a
sum of money, and obtaining a distinction direct from the Sovereign
was known as tirumukham pitikkuka, or catching the face of the king,
and enabled the recipients to add, besides the honorary suffix Pillai,
the distinctive prefix Kanakku, or accountant, to their name. So
important were the privileges conferred by it that even Sanku Annavi,
a Brahman Dalava, obtained it at the hand of the reigning Maharaja,
and his posterity at Vempannur have enjoyed the distinction until the
present day. The titles Pillai and Kanakku are never used together. The
name of an individual would be, for example, either Krishna Pillai
or Kanakku Raman Krishnan, Raman being the name of the Karanavan or
the maternal uncle. A higher title, Chempakaraman, corresponds to the
knighthood of mediæval times, and was first instituted by Maharaja
Marthanda Varma in memory, it is said, of his great Prime Minister
Rama Aiyyan Dalawa. The individual, whom it was the king's pleasure to
honour, was taken in procession on the back of an elephant through the
four main streets of the fort, and received by the Prime Minister,
seated by his side, and presented with pansupari (betel). Rare as
this investiture is in modern times, there are many ancient houses,
to which this title of distinction is attached in perpetuity. The
title Kanakku is often enjoyed with it, the maternal uncle's name
being dropped, e.g., Kanakku Chempakaraman Krishnan. Tambi (younger
brother) is another title prevalent in Travancore. It is a distinctive
suffix to the names of Nayar sons of Travancore Sovereigns. But, in
ancient times, this title was conferred on others also, in recognition
of merit. Tambis alone proceed in palanquins, and appear before the
Maharaja without a head-dress. The consorts of Maharajas are selected
from these families. If a lady from outside is to be accepted as
consort, she is generally adopted into one of these families. The
title Karta, or doer, appears also to have been used as a titular
name by some of the rulers of Madura. [At the Madras census, 1901,
Kartakkal was returned by Balijas claiming to be descendants of the
Nayak kings of Madura and Tanjore.] The Tekkumkur and Vadakkumkur
Rajas in Malabar are said to have first conferred the title Karta on
certain influential Nayar families. In social matters the authority
of the Karta was supreme, and it was only on important points that
higher authorities were called on to intercede. All the Kartas belong
to the Illam sub-division of the Nayar caste. The title Kuruppu, though
assumed by other castes than Nayars, really denotes an ancient section
of the Nayars, charged with various functions. Some were, for instance,
instructors in the use of arms, while others were superintendents of
maid-servants in the royal household. Writing concerning the Zamorin of
Calicut about 1500 A.D., Barbosa states that "the king has a thousand
waiting women, to whom he gives regular pay, and they are always at
the court to sweep the palaces and houses of the king, and he does
this for the State, because fifty would be enough to sweep." When
a Maharaja of Travancore enters into a matrimonial alliance, it is
a Kuruppu who has to call out the full title of the royal consort,
Panappillai Amma, after the presentation of silk and cloth has been
performed. The title Panikkar is derived from pani, work. It was the
Panikkars who kept kalaris, or gymnastic and military schools, but in
modern times many Panikkars have taken to the teaching of letters. Some
are entirely devoted to temple service, and are consequently regarded
as belonging to a division of Marans, rather than of Nayars. The
title Kaimal is derived from kai, hand, signifying power. In former
times, some Kaimals were recognised chieftains, e.g., the Kaimal
of Vaikkattillam in North Travancore. Others were in charge of the
royal treasury, which, according to custom, could not be seen even
by the kings except in their presence. "Neither could they," Barbosa
writes, "take anything out of the treasury without a great necessity,
and by the counsel of this person and certain others." The titles
Unnithan and Valiyathan were owned by certain families in Central
Travancore, which were wealthy and powerful. They were to some extent
self-constituted justices of the peace, and settled all ordinary
disputes arising in the kara where they dwelt. The title Menavan,
or Menon, means a superior person, and is derived from mel, above,
and avan he. The recipient of the title held it for his lifetime, or
it was bestowed in perpetuity on his family, according to the amount
of money paid down as atiyara. As soon as an individual was made a
Menon, he was presented with an ola (palmyra leaf for writing on)
and an iron style as symbols of the office of accountant, which he was
expected to fill. In British Malabar even now every amsam or revenue
village has an accountant or writer called Menon. The title Menokki,
meaning one who looks over or superintends, is found only in British
Malabar, as it was exclusively a creation of the Zamorin. [They are,
I gather, accountants in temples.]

"There are numerous sub-divisions comprised under the general head
Nayar, of which the most important, mentioned in vernacular books,
are Kiriyam, Illam, Svarupam, Itacheri or Idacheri, Pallichan,
Ashtikkurichchi, Vattakatan, Otatu, Pulikkal, Vyapari, Vilakkitalavan,
and Veluthetan. Of these Ashtikkurichchi and Pulikkal are divisions
of Maran, Vyapari is a division of Chettis, and Vilakkitalavan and
Veluthetan are barbers and washermen respectively.

"The chief divisions of Nayars, as now recognised, are as follows:--

1. Kiriyam, a name said to be a corruption of the Sanskrit griha,
meaning house. This represents the highest class, the members of which
were, in former times, not obliged to serve Brahmans and Kshatriyas.

2. Illakkar.--The word illam indicates a Nambutiri Brahman's house,
and tradition has it that every illam family once served an illam. But,
in mediæval times, any Nayar could get himself recognised as belonging
to the Illam division, provided that a certain sum of money, called
adiyara, was paid to the Government. The Illakkar are prohibited
from the use of fish, flesh, and liquor, but the prohibition is not
at the present day universally respected. In some parts of Malabar,
they have moulded many of their habits in the truly Brahmanical style.

3. Svarupakkar.--Adherents of the Kshatriya families of Travancore. The
members of the highest group, Parur Svarupam, have their purificatory
rites performed by Marans. It is stated that they were once the
Illakkar servants of one Karuttetathu Nambutiri, who was the feudal
lord of Parur, and afterwards became attached to the royal household
which succeeded to that estate, thus becoming Parur Svarupakkar.

4. Padamangalam and Tamil Padam were not originally Nayars,
but immigrants from the Tamil country. They are confined to a few
localities in Travancore, and until recently there was a distinctive
difference in regard to dress and ornaments between the Tamil Padam
and the ordinary Nayars. The occupation of the Padamangalakkar is
temple service, such as sweeping, carrying lamps during processions,
etc. The Tamil Padakkar are believed to have taken to various kinds
of occupation, and, for this reason, to have become merged with
other sections.

5. Vathi or Vatti.--This name is not found in the Jatinirnaya,
probably because it had not been differentiated from Maran. The
word is a corruption of vazhti, meaning praying for happiness, and
refers to their traditional occupation. They use a peculiar drum,
called nantuni. Some call themselves Daivampatis, or wards of God,
and follow the makkathayam system of inheritance (in the male line).

6. Itacheri or Idacheri, also called Pantaris in South Travancore. They
are herdsmen, and vendors of milk, butter and curds. The name suggests
a relation of some kind to the Idaiyan caste of the Tamil country.

7. Karuvelam, known also by other names, such as Kappiyara and
Tiruvattar. Their occupation is service in the palace of the Maharaja,
and they are the custodians of his treasury and valuables. Fifty-two
families are believed to have been originally brought from Kolathanad,
when a member thereof was adopted into the Travancore royal family.

8. Arikuravan.--A name, meaning those who reduced the quantity of rice
out of the paddy given to them to husk at the temple of Kazhayakkuttam
near Trivandrum, by which they were accosted by the local chieftain.

9. Pallichchan.--Bearers of palanquins for Brahmans and Malabar
chieftains. They are also employed as their attendants, to carry
their sword and shield before them.

10. Vandikkaran.--A name, meaning cartmen, for those who supply fuel
to temples, and cleanse the vessels belonging thereto.

11. Kuttina.--The only heiress of a Svarupam tarwad is said to
have been a maid-servant in the Vadakketam Brahman's house, and her
daughter's tali-kettu ceremony to have been celebrated in her master's
newly-built cowshed. The bride was called kuttilachchi, or bride
in a cowshed, and her descendants were named Kuttina Nayars. They
intermarry among themselves, and, having no priests of their own,
obtain purified water from Brahmans to remove the effects of pollution.

12. Matavar.--Also known as Puliyattu, Veliyattu, and Kallur
Nayars. They are believed to have been good archers in former times.

13. Otatu, also called Kusa. Their occupation is to tile or thatch
temples and Brahman houses.

14. Mantalayi.--A tract of land in the Kalkulam taluk, called
Mantalachchi Konam, was granted to them by the State. They are paid
mourners, and attend at the Trivandrum palace when a death occurs in
the royal family.

15. Manigramam.--Believed to represent Hindu recoveries from early
conversion to Christianity. Manigramam was a portion of Cranganore,
where early Christian immigrants settled.

16. Vattaykkatan, better known in Travancore as Chakala Nayars, form
in many respects the lowest sub-division. They are obliged to stand
outside the sacrificial stones (balikallu) of a sanctuary, and are not
allowed to take the title Pillai. Pulva is a title of distinction among
them. One section of them is engaged in the hereditary occupation of
oil-pressing, and occupies a lower position in the social scale than
the other."

The following list of "clans" among the Nayars of Malabar whom he
examined anthropometrically is given by Mr. F. Fawcett [139]:--


        Kiriyattil.                 Vangiloth.
        Sudra.                      Kitavu.
        Kurup.                      Pallichan.
        Nambiyar.                   Muppathinayiran.
        Urali.                      Viyapari or Ravari.
        Nallioden.                  Attikurissi.
        Viyyur.                     Manavalan.
        Akattu Charna.              Adungadi.
        Purattu Charna.             Adiodi.
        Vattakkad.                  Amayengolam.


"The Kurup, Nambiyar Viyyur, Manavalan, Vengolan, Nellioden,
Adungadi, Kitavu, Adiodi, Amayengolam, all superior clans,
belong, properly speaking, to North Malabar. The Kiriyattil,
or Kiriyam, is the highest of all the clans in South Malabar,
and is supposed to comprise, or correspond with the group of
clans first named from North Malabar. The Akattu Charna clan is
divided into two sub-clans, one of which looks to the Zamorin
as their lord, and the other owns lordship to minor lordlings,
as the Tirumulpad of Nilambur. The former are superior, and a
woman of the latter may mate with a man of the former, but not
vice versâ. In the old days, every Nayar chief had his Charnavar,
or adherents. The Purattu Charna are the outside adherents,
or fighters and so on, and the Akattu Charna are the inside
adherents--clerks and domestics. The clan from which the former
were drawn is superior to the latter. The Uralis are said to have
been masons; the Pallichans manchil bearers. [140] The Sudra
clan supplies female servants in the houses of Nambudiris. The
Vattakkad (or Chakkingal: chakku, oil press) clan, whose proper
métier is producing gingelly or cocoanut oil with the oil-mill,
is the lowest of all, excepting, I think, the Pallichan. Indeed,
in North Malabar, I have frequently been told by Nayars of the
superior clans that they do not admit the Vattakkad to be Nayars,
and say that they have adopted the honorary affix Nayars to
their names quite recently. There is some obscurity as regards
the sub-divisions of the Vattakkad clan. To the north of Calicut,
in Kurumbranad, they are divided into the Undiatuna, or those who
pull (to work the oil-machine by hand), and the Murivechchu-atune,
or those who tie or fasten bullocks, to work the oil-machine. Yet
further north, at Tellicherry and thereabouts, there are no
known sub-divisions, while in Ernad, to the eastward, the clan
is divided into the Veluttatu (white) and Karuttatu (black). The
white have nothing to do with the expression and preparation of
oil, which is the hereditary occupation of the black. The white
may eat with Nayars of any clan; the black can eat with no others
outside their own clan. The black sub-clan is strictly endogamous;
the other, the superior sub-clan, is not. Their women may marry
men of any other clan, the Pallichchan excepted. Union by marriage,
or whatever the function may be named, is permissible between most
of the other clans, the rule by which a woman may never unite
herself with her inferior being always observed. She may unite
herself with a man of her own clan, or with a man of any superior
clan, or with a Nambutiri, an Embrantiri, or any other Brahman,
or with one of the small sects coming between the Brahmans and
the Nayars. But she cannot under any circumstances unite herself
with a man of a clan, which is inferior to hers. Nor can she eat
with those of a clan inferior to her; a man may, and does without
restriction. Her children by an equal in race and not only in mere
social standing, but never those by one who is racially inferior,
belong to her taravad. [141] The children of the inferior mothers
are never brought into the taravad of the superior fathers,
i.e., they are never brought into it to belong to it, but they
may live there. And, where they do so, they cannot enter the
taravad kitchen, or touch the women while they are eating. Nor
are they allowed to touch their father's corpse. They may live
in the taravad under these and other disabilities, but are never
of it. The custom, which permits a man to cohabit with a woman
lower in the social scale than himself, and prohibits a woman from
exercising the same liberty, is called the rule of anulomam and
pratilomam. Dr. Gundert derives anulomam from anu, with lomam
(romam), hair, or going with the hair or grain. So pratilomam
means going against the hair or grain. According to this usage,
a Nayar woman, consorting with a man of a higher caste, follows
the hair, purifies the blood, and raises the progeny in social
estimation. By cohabitation with a man of a lower division (clan)
or caste, she is guilty of pratilomam, and, if the difference of
caste were admittedly great, she would be turned out of her family,
to prevent the whole family being boycotted. A corollary of this
custom is that a Nambutiri Brahman father cannot touch his own
children by his Nayar consort without bathing afterwards to remove
pollution. The children in the marumakkatayam family belong,
of course, to their mother's family, clan, and caste. They are
Nayars, not Nambutiris. The Nayars of North Malabar are held to
be superior all along the line, clan for clan, to those of South
Malabar, which is divided from the north by the river Korapuzha,
seven miles north of Calicut, so that a woman of North Malabar
would not unite herself to a man of her own clan name of South
Malabar. A Nayar woman of North Malabar cannot pass northward
beyond the frontier; she cannot pass the hills to the eastward; and
she cannot cross the Korapuzha to the south. It is tabu. The women
of South Malabar are similarly confined by custom, breach of which
involves forfeiture of caste. To this rule there is an exception,
and of late years the world has come in touch with the Malayali,
who nowadays goes to the University, studies medicine and law in
the Presidency town (Madras), or even in far off England. Women
of the relatively inferior Akattu Charna clan are not under quite
the same restrictions as regards residence as are those of most
of the other clans; so, in these days of free communications, when
Malayalis travel, and frequently reside far from their own country,
they often prefer to select wives from this Akattu Charna clan. But
the old order changeth everywhere, and nowadays Malayalis who are in
the Government service, and obliged to reside far away from Malabar,
and a few who have taken up their abode in the Presidency town,
have wrenched themselves free of the bonds of custom, and taken with
them their wives who are of clans other than the Akattu Charna. The
interdiction to travel, and the possible exception to it in the case of
Akattu Charna women, has been explained to me in this way. The Nayar
woman observes pollution for three days during menstruation. While
in her period, she may not eat or drink with any other member of the
taravad, and on the fourth day she must be purified. Purification is
known as mattu (change), and it is effected by the washerwoman, who,
in some parts of South Malabar, is of the Mannan or Vannan caste,
whose métier is to wash for the Nayars and Nambutiris, but who is,
as a rule, the washerwoman of the Tiyan caste, giving her, after
her bath, one of her own cloths to wear (mattu, change of raiment)
instead of the soiled cloth, which she takes away to wash. Pollution,
which may come through a death in the family, through child-birth,
or menstruation, must be removed by mattu. Until it is done, the woman
is out of caste. It must be done in the right way at the right moment,
under pain of the most unpleasant social consequences. How that the
influential rural local magnate wreaks vengeance on a taravad by
preventing the right person giving mattu to the women is well known
in Malabar. He could not, with all the sections of the Penal Code at
his disposal, inflict greater injury. Now the Nayar woman is said to
feel compelled to remain in Malabar, or within her own part of it,
in order to be within reach of mattu. My informant tells me that,
the Vannan caste being peculiar to Malabar, the Nayar women cannot go
where these are not to be found, and that mattu must be done by one
of that caste. But I know, from my own observation in the most truly
conservative localities, in Kurumbranad for example, where the Nayar
has a relative superiority, that the washerman is as a rule a Tiyan;
and I cannot but think that the interdiction has other roots than
those involved in mattu. It does not account for the superstition
against crossing water, which has its counterparts elsewhere in the
world. The origin of the interdiction to cross the river southwards
has been explained to me as emanating from a command of the Kolatirri
Rajah in days gone by, when, the Arabs having come to the country about
Calicut, there was a chance of the women being seized and taken as
wives. The explanation is somewhat fanciful. The prohibition to cross
the river to the northwards is supposed to have originated in much
the same way. As bearing on this point, I may mention that the Nayar
women living to the east of Calicut cannot cross the river backwater,
and come into the town." It may be noted in this connection that the
Paikara river on the Nilgiri hills is sacred to the Todas, and, for
fear of mishap from arousing the wrath of the river-god, a pregnant
Toda woman will not venture to cross it. No Toda will use the river
water for any purpose, and they do not touch it, unless they have to
ford it. They then walk through it, and, on reaching the opposite bank,
bow their heads. Even when they walk over the Paikara bridge, they
take their hands out of the putkuli (body-cloth) as a mark of respect.

The complexity of the sub-divisions among the Nayars in North Malabar
is made manifest by the following account thereof in the Gazetteer of
Malabar. "There are exogamous sub-divisions (perhaps corresponding to
original tarwads) called kulams, and these are grouped to form the
sub-castes which are usually endogamous. It is quite impossible to
attempt a complete account of the scheme, but to give some idea of
its nature one example may be taken, and dealt with in some detail;
and for this purpose the portion of Kurumbranad known as Payyanad
will serve. This is the country between the Kottapuzha and Porapuzha
rivers, and is said to have been given by a Raja of Kurumbranad to
a certain Ambadi Kovilagam Tamburatti (the stanam or title of the
senior lady of the Zamorin Raja's family). In this tract or nad there
were originally six stanis or chieftains, who ruled, under the Raja,
with the assistance, or subject to the constitutional control, of four
assemblies of Nayars called Kuttams. Each kuttam had its hereditary
president. In this tract there are seven groups of kulams. The highest
includes twelve kulams, Vengalat, Pattillat, Viyyur, Nelliot, Atunkudi,
Amayangalat, Nelloli, Nilancheri, Rendillat, Pulliyani, Orakatteri,
and Venmeri. Of these, the Pattillat and Rendillat (members of the
ten and members of the two illams or houses) affix the title Adiyodi
to their names, the last three affix the title Nambiyar, and the rest
affix Nayar. Of the six stanis already mentioned, three, with the title
of Adiyodi, belong to the Vengalat kulam, while two of the presidents
of kuttams belonged to the Pattillat kulam. The younger members of
the stani houses are called kidavu. It is the duty of women of Viyyur
and Nelliot kulams to join in the bridal procession of members of the
Vengalat kulam, the former carrying lamps, and the latter salvers
containing flowers, while the Rendillat Adiyodis furnish cooks to
the same class. Pattillat Adiyodis and Orakatteri Nambiyars observe
twelve days' pollution, while all the other kulams observe fifteen. The
second group consists of six kulams, Eravattur, Ara-Eravattur (or half
Eravattur), and Attikodan Nayars, Tonderi Kidavus, Punnan Nambiyars,
and Menokkis. All these observe fifteen days' pollution. The third
group consists of three kulams, Taccholi to which the remaining
three stanis belong, Kotholi, and Kuruvattancheri. All affix Nayar to
their names, and observe fifteen days' pollution. The fourth group
consists of three kulams, Peruvanian Nambiyars, Chelladan Nayars,
and Vennapalan Nayars. All three observe fifteen days' pollution. The
name Peruvanian means great or principal oil-man; and it is the duty of
this caste to present the Kurumbranad Raja with oil on the occasion of
his formal installation. The fifth group consists of the three kulams,
Mannangazhi, Paramchela, and Pallikara Nayars, all observing fifteen
days' pollution. A member of the first-named class has to place an
amanapalaga (the traditional seat of Nambudiris and other high castes)
for the Kurumbranad Raja to sit on at the time of his installation,
while a member of the second has to present him with a cloth on
the same occasion. The sixth group consists of four kiriyams named
Patam, Tulu, Manan, and Ottu respectively, and has the collective
name of Ravari. The seventh group consists of six kulams, Kandon,
Kannankodan, Kotta, Karumba, Kundakollavan, and Panakadan Nayars. All
observe fifteen days' pollution, and the women of these six kulams
have certain duties to perform in connection with the purification
of women of the Vengalat, Pattillat, and Orakatteri kulams. Besides
these seven groups, there are a few other classes without internal
sub-divisions. One such class is known as Pappini Nayar. A woman of
this class takes the part of the Brahmini woman (Nambissan) at the
tali-kettu kalyanam of girls belonging to the kulams included in the
third group. Another class called Palattavan takes the place of the
Attikurissi Nayar at the funeral ceremonies of the same three kulams."

In illustration of the custom of polyandry among the Nayars of
Malabar in by-gone days, the following extracts may be quoted. "On
the continent of India," it is recorded in Ellis' edition of the
Kural, "polyandry is still said to be practiced in Orissa, and among
particular tribes in other parts. In Malayalam, as is well known, the
vision of Plato in his ideal republic is more completely realised, the
women among the Nayars not being restricted to family or number, but,
after she has been consecrated by the usual rites before the nuptial
fire, in which ceremony any indifferent person may officiate as the
representative of her husband, being in her intercourse with the other
sex only restrained by her inclinations; provided that the male with
whom she associates be of an equal or superior tribe. But it must be
stated, for the glory of the female character, that, notwithstanding
the latitude thus given to the Nayattis, and that they are thus left
to the guidance of their own free will and the play of their own
fancy (which in other countries has not always been found the most
efficient check on the conduct of either sex), it rarely happens that
they cohabit with more than one person at the same time. Whenever the
existing connexion is broken, whether from incompatibility of temper,
disgust, caprice, or any of the thousand vexations by which from the
frailty of nature domestic happiness is liable to be disturbed, the
woman seeks another lover, the man another mistress. But it mostly
happens that the bond of paternity is here, as elsewhere, too strong
to be shaken off, and that the uninfluenced and uninterested union
of love, when formed in youth, continues even in the decline of age."

In a note on the Nayars in the sixteenth century, Cæsar Fredericke
writes as follows. [142] "These Nairi having their wives common
amongst themselves, and when any of them goe into the house of any
of these women, he leaveth his sworde and target at the door, and the
time that he is there, there dare not be any so hardie as to come into
that house. The king's children shall not inherite the kingdom after
their father, because they hold this opinion, that perchance they
were not begotten of the king their father, but of some other man,
therefore they accept for their king one of the sonnes of the king's
sisters, or of some other woman of the blood roiall, for that they
be sure that they are of the blood roiall."

In his "New Account of the East Indies, (1727)" Hamilton wrote:
"The husbands," of whom, he said, there might be twelve, but no more
at one time, "agree very well, for they cohabit with her in their
turns, according to their priority of marriage, ten days more or
less according as they can fix a term among themselves, and he that
cohabits with her maintains her in all things necessary for his time,
so that she is plentifully provided for by a constant circulation. When
the man that cohabits with her goes into her house he leaves his arms
at the door, and none dare remove them or enter the house on pain of
death. When she proves with child, she nominates its father, who takes
care of his education after she has suckled it, and brought it to walk
or speak, but the children are never heirs to their father's estate,
but the father's sister's children are."

Writing in the latter half of the eighteenth century, Grose says [143]
that "it is among the Nairs that principally prevails the strange
custom of one wife being common to a number; in which point the
great power of custom is seen from its rarely or never producing any
jealousies or quarrels among the co-tenants of the same woman. Their
number is not so much limited by any specific law as by a kind of
tacit convention, it scarcely ever happening that it exceeds six or
seven. The woman, however, is under no obligation to admit above a
single attachment, though not less respected for using her privilege
to its utmost extent. If one of the husbands happens to come to the
house when she is employed with another, he knows that circumstance by
certain signals left at the door that his turn is not come, and departs
very resignedly." Writing about the same time, Sonnerat [144] says
that "these Brahmans do not marry, but have the privilege of enjoying
all the Nairesses. This privilege the Portuguese who were esteemed
as a great caste, obtained and preserved, till their drunkenness and
debauchery betrayed them into a commerce with all sorts of women. The
following right is established by the customs of the country. A
woman without shame may abandon herself to all men who are not of an
inferior caste to her own, because the children (notwithstanding what
Mr. de Voltaire says) do not belong to the father, but to the mother's
brother; they become his legitimate heirs at their birth, even of
the crown if he is king." In his 'Voyages and Travels', Kerr writes
as follows. [145] "By the laws of their country these Nayres cannot
marry, so that no one has any certain or acknowledged son or father;
all their children being born of mistresses, with each of whom three
or four Nayres cohabit by agreement among themselves. Each one of
this cofraternity dwells a day in his turn with the joint mistress,
counting from noon of one day to the same time of the next, after
which he departs, and another comes for the like time. Thus they
spend their time without the care or trouble of wives and children,
yet maintain their mistresses well according to their rank. Any
one may forsake his mistress at his pleasure; and, in like manner,
the mistress may refuse admittance to any one of her lovers when she
pleases. These mistresses are all gentlewomen of the Nayre caste, and
the Nayres, besides being prohibited from marrying, must not attach
themselves to any woman of a different rank. Considering that there are
always several men attached to one woman, the Nayres never look upon
any of the children born of their mistresses as belonging to them,
however strong a resemblance may subsist, and all inheritances among
the Nayres go to their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, born
of the same mothers, all relationship being counted only by female
consanguinity and descent. This strange law prohibiting marriage
was established that they might have neither wives nor children on
whom to fix their love and attachment; and that, being free from all
family cares, they might more willingly devote themselves entirely
to warlike service." The term son of ten fathers is used as a term
of abuse among Nayars to this day. [146] Tipu Sultan is said to have
issued the following proclamation to the Nayars, on the occasion of
his visit to Calicut in 1788. "And, since it is a practice with you
for one woman to associate with ten men, and you leave your mothers
and sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices, and are thence
all born in adultery, and are more shameless in your connections than
the beasts of the field; I hereby require you to forsake these sinful
practices, and live like the rest of mankind." [147]

As to the present existence or non-existence of polyandry I must
call recent writers into the witness-box. The Rev. S. Mateer,
Mr. Fawcett writes, [148] "informed me ten years ago--he was speaking
of polyandry among the Nayars of Travancore--that he had 'known an
instance of six brothers keeping two women, four husbands to one,
and two to the other. In a case where two brothers cohabited with
one woman, and one was converted to Christianity, the other brother
was indignant at the Christian's refusal to live any longer in this
condition.' I have not known an admitted instance of polyandry amongst
the Nayars of Malabar at the present day, but there is no doubt that,
if it does not exist now (and I think it does here and there), it
certainly did not long ago." Mr. Gopal Panikkar says [149] that "to
enforce this social edict upon the Nairs, the Brahmans made use of
the powerful weapon of their aristocratic ascendancy in the country,
and the Nairs readily submitted to the Brahman supremacy. Thus it
came about that the custom of concubinage, so freely indulged in
by the Brahmans with Nair women, obtained such firm hold upon the
country that it has only been strengthened by the lapse of time. At
the present day there are families, especially in the interior
of the district, who look upon it as an honour to be thus united
with Brahmans. But a reaction has begun to take place against this
feeling, and Brahman alliances are invariably looked down upon in
respectable Nair tarwads. This reactionary feeling took shape in the
Malabar Marriage Act." Mr. Justice K. Narayana Marar says: "There is
nothing strange or to be ashamed of in the fact that the Nayars were
originally of a stock that practiced polyandry, nor if the practice
continued till recently. Hamilton and Buchanan say that, among the
Nayars of Malabar, a woman has several husbands, but these are not
brothers. These travellers came to Malabar in the eighteenth and the
beginning of the nineteenth century. There is no reason whatever to
suppose that they were not just recording what they saw. For I am
not quite sure whether, even now, the practice is not lurking in some
remote nooks and corners of the country." Lastly, Mr. Wigram writes as
follows. [150] "Polyandry may now be said to be dead, and, although the
issue of a Nayar marriage are still children of their mother rather
than of their father, marriage may be defined as a contract based
on mutual consent, and dissoluble at will. It has been well said
(by Mr. Logan) that nowhere is the marriage tie, albeit informal,
more rigidly observed or respected than it is in Malabar: nowhere is
it more jealously guarded, or its neglect more savagely avenged."

In connection with the tali-kattu kalyanam, or tali-tying marriage,
Mr. Fawcett writes that "the details of this ceremony vary in different
parts of Malabar, but the ceremony in some form is essential, and must
be performed for every Nayar girl before she attains puberty." For
an account of this ceremony, I must resort to the evidence of
Mr. K. R. Krishna Menon before the Malabar Marriage Commission. [151]

"The tali-kattu kalyanam is somewhat analogous to what a deva-dasi
(dancing-girl) of other countries (districts) undergoes before she
begins her profession. Among royal families, and those of certain
Edaprabhus, a Kshatriya, and among the Charna sect a Nedungadi is
invited to the girl's house at an auspicious hour appointed for the
purpose, and, in the presence of friends and castemen, ties a tali
(marriage badge) round her neck, and goes away after receiving a
certain fee for his trouble. Among the other sects, the horoscope of
the girl is examined along with those of her enangan (a recognised
member of one's own class) families, and the boy whose horoscope is
found to agree with hers is marked out as a fit person to tie the tali,
and a day is fixed for the tali-tying ceremony by the astrologer, and
information given to the Karanavan [152] (senior male in a tarwad)
of the boy's family. The feast is called ayaniunu, and the boy is
thenceforth called Manavalan or Pillai (bridegroom). From the house in
which the Manavalan is entertained a procession is formed, preceded
by men with swords, and shields shouting a kind of war-cry. In the
meantime a procession starts from the girl's house, with similar men
and cries, and headed by a member of her tarwad, to meet the other
procession, and, after meeting the Manavalan, he escorts him to
the girl's house. After entering the booth erected for the purpose,
he is conducted to a seat of honour, and his feet are washed by the
brother of the girl, who receives a pair of cloths. The Manavalan is
then taken to the centre of the booth, where bamboo mats, carpets and
white cloths are spread, and seated there. The brother of the girl
then carries her from inside the house, and, after going round the
booth three times, places her at the left side of the Manavalan. The
father of the girl then presents new cloths tied in a kambli (blanket)
to the pair, and with this new cloth (called manthravadi) they change
their dress. The wife of the Karanavan of the girl's tarwad, if she
be of the same caste, then decorates the girl by putting on anklets,
etc. The purohit (officiating priest) called Elayath (a low class
of Brahmans) then gives the tali to the Manavalan, and the family
astrologer shouts muhurtham (auspicious hour), and the Manavalan,
putting his sword on the lap, ties the tali round the neck of the
girl, who is then required to hold an arrow and a looking-glass in
her hand. In rich families a Brahmani sings certain songs intended to
bless the couple. In ordinary families who cannot procure her presence,
a Nayar, versed in songs, performs the office. The boy and girl are
then carried by enangans to a decorated apartment in the inner part of
the house, where they are required to remain under a sort of pollution
for three days. On the fourth day they bathe in some neighbouring
tank (pond) or river, holding each other's hands. After changing
their clothes they come home, preceded by a procession. Tom-toms
(native drums) and elephants usually form part of the procession,
and turmeric water is sprinkled. When they come home, all doors
of the house are shut, and the Manavalan is required to force them
open. He then enters the house, and takes his seat in the northern
wing thereof. The aunt and female friends of the girl then approach,
and give sweetmeats to the couple. The girl then serves food to
the boy, and, after taking their meal together from the same leaf,
they proceed to the booth, where a cloth is severed into two parts,
and each part given to the Manavalan and girl separately in the
presence of enangans and friends. The severing of the cloth is
supposed to constitute a divorce." "The tearing of the cloth,"
Mr. Fawcett writes, "is confined to South Malabar. These are the
essentials of the ceremony, an adjunct to which is that, in spite of
the divorce, the girl observes death pollution when her Manavalan
dies. The same Manavalan may tie the tali on any number of girls,
during the same ceremony or at any other time, and he may be old
or young. He is often an elderly holy Brahman, who receives a small
present for his services. The girl may remove the tali, if she likes,
after the fourth day. In some parts of Malabar there is no doubt that
the man who performs the rôle of Manavalan is considered to have some
right to the girl, but in such case it has been already considered
that he is a proper man to enter into sambandham with her."

Of the tali-kattu kalyanam in Malabar, the following detailed
account, mainly furnished by an Urali Nayar of Calicut, is given
in the Gazetteer of Malabar. "An auspicious time has to be selected
for the purpose, and the preliminary consultation of the astrologer
is in itself the occasion of a family gathering. The Manavalan
or quasi-bridegroom is chosen at the same time. For the actual
kalyanam, two pandals (booths), a small one inside a large one,
are erected in front of the padinhatta macchu or central room of the
western wing. They are decorated with cloth, garlands, lamps and palm
leaves, and the pillars should be of areca palm cut by an Asari on
Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday. The first day's ceremonies open with
a morning visit to the temple, where the officiating Brahman pours
water sanctified by mantrams (religious formulæ), and the addition
of leaves of mango, peepul and darbha, over the girl's head. This
rite is called kalasam maduga. The girl then goes home, and is taken
to the macchu, where a hanging lamp with five wicks is lighted. This
should be kept alight during all the days of the kalyanam. The girl
sits on a piece of pala (Alstonia scholaris) wood, which is called a
mana. She is elaborately adorned, and some castes consider a coral
necklace an essential. In her right hand she holds a vaalkannadi
(brass hand mirror), and in her left a charakkal (a highly ornate
arrow). In front of the girl are placed, in addition to the five-wicked
lamp and nirachaveppu, a metal dish or talam of parched rice, and the
eight lucky things known as ashtamangalyam. A woman, termed Brahmini
or Pushpini, usually of the Nambissan caste, sits facing her on a
three-legged stool (pidam), and renders appropriate and lengthy songs,
at the close of which she scatters rice over her. About midday there
is a feast, and in the evening songs in the macchu are repeated. Next
morning, the ceremonial in the macchu is repeated for the third time,
after which the paraphernalia are removed to the nearest tank or to
the east of the household well, where the Pushpini sings once more,
goes through the form of making the girl's toilet, and ties a cocoanut
frond round each of her wrists (kappola). The girl has then to rise and
jump over a kindi (vessel) of water with an unhusked cocoanut placed
on the top, overturning it the third time. The party then proceed
to the pandal, two men holding a scarlet cloth over the girl as a
canopy, and a Chaliyan (weaver) brings two cloths (kodi vastiram),
which the girl puts on. In the evening, the previous day's ceremonial
is repeated in the macchu. The third day is the most important, and it
is then that the central act of the ceremony is performed. For this
the girl sits in the inner pandal richly adorned. In some cases she
is carried from the house to the pandal by her karnavan or brother,
who makes a number of pradakshinams round the pandal (usually 3 or 7)
before he places her in her seat. Before the girl are the various
objects already specified, and the hymeneal ditties of the Pushpini
open the proceedings. At the auspicious moment the Manavalan arrives in
rich attire. He is often preceded by a sort of body guard with sword
and shield who utter a curious kind of cry, and is met at the gate of
the girl's house by a bevy of matrons with lamps and salvers decorated
with flowers and lights, called talams. A man of the girl's family
washes his feet, and he takes his seat in the pandal on the girl's
right. Sometimes the girl's father at this stage presents new cloths
(mantravadi or mantrokodi) to the pair, who at once don them. The
girl's father takes the tali, a small round plate of gold about the
size of a two-anna bit, with a hole at the top, from the goldsmith who
is in waiting, pays him for it,' and gives it to the Manavalan. The
karnavan or father of the girl asks the astrologer thrice if the
moment has arrived, and, as he signifies his assent the third time,
the Manavalan ties the tali round the girl's neck amidst the shouts of
those present. The Manavalan carries the girl indoors to the macchu,
and feasting brings the day to a close. Tom-toming and other music
are of course incessant accompaniments throughout as on other festal
occasions, and the women in attendance keep up a curious kind of
whistling, called kurava, beating their lips with their fingers. On
the fourth day, girl and Manavalan go in procession to the temple
richly dressed. The boy, carrying some sort of sword and shield,
heads the party. If the family be one of position, he and the girl
must be mounted on an elephant. Offerings are made, to the deity,
and presents to the Brahmans. They return home, and, as they enter
the house, the Manavalan who brings up the rear is pelted by the boys
of the party with plantains, which he wards off with his shield. In
other cases, he is expected to make a pretence of forcing the door
open. These two usages are no doubt to be classed with those marriage
ceremonies which take the form of a contest between the bridegroom and
the bride's relatives, and which are symbolic survivals of marriage
by capture. The Manavalan and the girl next partake of food together
in the inner pandal--a proceeding which obviously corresponds to
the ceremonious first meal of a newly-married couple. The assembled
guests are lavishly entertained. The chief Kovilagans and big Nayar
houses will feed 1,000 Brahmans as well as their own relations, and
spend anything up to ten or fifteen thousand rupees on the ceremony."

Concerning the tali-kettu ceremony in Travancore Mr. N. Subramani
Aiyar writes as follows. "After the age of eleven, a Nayar girl
becomes too old for this ceremony, though, in some rare instances,
it is celebrated after a girl attains her age. As among other castes,
ages represented by an odd number, e.g., seven, nine, and eleven,
have a peculiar auspiciousness attached to them. Any number of girls,
even up to a dozen, may go through the ceremony at one time, and
they may include infants under one year--an arrangement prompted by
considerations of economy, and rendered possible by the fact that
no civil or religious right or liability is contracted as between
the parties. The duty of getting the girls of the tarwad 'married'
devolves on the karanavan, or in his default on the eldest brother,
the father's obligation being discharged by informing him that the
time for the ceremony has arrived. The masters of the ceremonies at a
Nayar tali-kettu in Travancore are called Machchampikkar, i.e., men
in the village, whose social status is equal to that of the tarwad
in which the ceremony is to be celebrated. At a preliminary meeting
of the Machchampikkar, the number of girls for whom the ceremony is
to be performed, the bridegrooms, and other details are settled. The
horoscopes are examined by the village astrologer, and those youths in
the tarwads who have passed the age of eighteen, and whose horoscopes
agree with those of the girls, are declared to be eligible. The ola
(palm-leaf) on which the Kaniyan (astrologer) writes his decision is
called the muhurta charutu, and the individual who receives it from him
is obliged to see that the ceremony is performed on an auspicious day
in the near future. The next important item is the fixing of a wooden
post in the south-west corner or kannimula of the courtyard. At the
construction of the pandal (booth) the Pidakakkar or villagers render
substantial aid. The mandapa is decorated with ears of corn, and hence
called katirmandapa. It is also called mullapandal. On the night of
the previous day the kalati or Brahman's song is sung. A sumptuous
banquet, called ayaniunnu, is given at the girl's house to the party
of the young man. The ceremony commences with the bridegroom washing
his feet, and taking his seat within the pandal. The girl meanwhile
bathes, worships the household deity, and is dressed in new cloths
and adorned with costly ornaments. A Brahman woman ties a thread
round the girl's left wrist, and sings a song called Subhadraveli,
which deals with the marriage by capture of Subhadra by Arjuna. Then,
on the invitation of the girl's mother, who throws a garland round
his neck, the bridegroom goes in procession, riding on an elephant,
or on foot. The girl's brother is waiting to receive him at the
pandal. A leading villager is presented with some money, as if to
recompense him for the permission granted by him to commence the
ceremony. The girl sits within the mandapa, facing the east, with her
eyes closed. The bridegroom, on his arrival, sits on her right. He
then receives the minnu (ornament) from the Ilayatu priest, and ties
it round the girl's neck. A song is sung called ammachampattu, or the
song of the maternal uncle. If there are several brides, they sit in
a row, each holding in her hand an arrow and a looking-glass, and the
ornaments are tied on their necks in the order of their ages. Unless
enangans are employed, there is usually only one tali-tier, whatever
may be the number of girls. In cases where, owing to poverty, the
expenses of the ceremony cannot be borne, it is simply performed in
front of a Brahman temple, or in the pandaramatam, or house of the
village chieftain. In many North Travancore taluks the girl removes
her tali as soon as she hears of the tali-tier's death." It is noted
by the Rev. S. Mateer [153] that "a Nair girl of Travancore must get
married with the tali before the age of eleven to avoid reproach
from friends and neighbours. In case of need a sword may even be
made to represent a bridegroom." Sometimes, when a family is poor,
the girl's mother makes an idol of clay, adorns it with flowers,
and invests her daughter with the tali in the presence of the idol.

In an account of the tali-kettu ceremony, in the Cochin Census Report,
1901, it is stated that "the celebration of the ceremony is costly,
and advantage is therefore taken of a single occasion in the course
of ten or twelve years, at which all girls in a family, irrespective
of their ages, and, when parties agree, all girls belonging to
families that observe death pollution between one another go through
the ceremony. The ceremony opens with the fixing of a post for the
construction of a pandal or shed, which is beautifully decorated
with cloth, pictures and festoons. The male members of the village
are invited, and treated to a feast followed by the distribution
of pan-supari. Every time that a marriage ceremony is celebrated,
a member of the family visits His Highness the Raja with presents,
and solicits his permission for the celebration. Such presents are
often made to the Nambudri Jenmis (landlords), by their tenants,
and by castes attached to illams. It may be noted that certain
privileges, such as sitting on a grass mat, having an elephant
procession, drumming, firing of pop-guns, etc., have often to be
obtained from the Ruler of the State. The marriage itself begins
with the procession to the marriage pandal with the eight auspicious
things (ashtamangalyam) and pattiniruththal (seating for song), at
the latter of which a Brahmini or Pushpini sings certain songs based
upon suitable Puranic texts. The girls and other female members of
the family, dressed in gay attire and decked with costly ornaments,
come out in procession to the pandal, where the Pushpini sings, with
tom-toms and the firing of pop-guns at intervals. After three, five,
or seven rounds of this, a cutting of the jasmine placed in a brass
pot is carried on an elephant by the Elayad or family priest to the
nearest Bhagavati temple, where it is planted on the night previous
to the ceremonial day with tom-toms, fireworks, and joyous shouts
of men and women. A few hours before the auspicious moment for the
ceremony, this cutting is brought back. Before the tali is tied,
the girls are brought out of the room, and, either from the ground
itself or from a raised platform, beautifully decorated with festoons,
etc., are made to worship the sun. The bridegroom, a Tirumulpad or
an enangan, is then brought into the house with sword in hand, with
tom-toms, firing of pop-guns, and shouts of joy. At the gate he is
received by a few female members with ashtamangalyam in their hands,
and seated on a bench or stool in the pandal. A male member of the
family, generally a brother or maternal uncle of the girl, washes
the feet of the bridegroom. The girls are covered with new cloths
of cotton or silk, and brought into the pandal, and seated screened
off from one another. After the distribution of money presents to the
Brahmans and the Elayad, the latter hands over the tali, or thin plate
of gold shaped like the leaf of aswatha (Ficus religiosa), and tacked
on to a string, to the Tirumulpad, who ties it round the neck of the
girl. A single Tirumulpad often ties the tali round the neck of two,
three, or four girls. He is given one to eight rupees per girl for
so doing. Sometimes the tali is tied by the mother of the girl. The
retention of the tali is not at all obligatory, nay it is seldom worn
or taken care of after the ceremony. These circumstances clearly
show the purely ceremonial character of this form of marriage. The
Karamel Asan, or headman of the village, is an important factor on
this occasion. In a conspicuous part of the marriage pandal, he is
provided with a seat on a cot, on which a grass mat, a black blanket,
and white cloth are spread one over the other. Before the tali is tied,
his permission is solicited for the performance of the ceremony. He
is paid 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 puthans (a puthan = 10 pies) per girl,
according to the means of the family. He is also given rice, curry
stuff, and pan-supari. Rose-water is sprinkled at intervals on the
males and females assembled on the occasion. With the distribution of
pan-supari, scented sandal paste and jasmine flowers to the females of
the village and wives of relatives and friends, who are invited for
the occasion, these guests return to their homes. The male members,
one or two from each family in the village, are then treated to a
sumptuous feast. In some places, where the Enangu system prevails,
all members of such families, both male and female, are also provided
with meals. On the third day, the villagers are again entertained
to a luncheon of rice and milk pudding, and on the fourth day the
girls are taken out in procession for worship at the nearest temple
amidst tom-toms and shouting. After this a feast is held, at which
friends, relatives, and villagers are given a rich meal. With the
usual distribution of pan-supari, sandal and flowers, the invited
guests depart. Presents, chiefly in money, are made to the eldest
male member of the family by friends and relatives and villagers,
and with this the ceremony closes. From the time of fixing the first
pole for the pandal to the tying of the tali, the village astrologer
is in attendance on all ceremonial occasions, as he has to pronounce
the auspicious moment for the performance of each item. During the
four days of the marriage, entertainments, such as Kathakali drama
or Ottan Tullal, are very common. When a family can ill-afford to
celebrate the ceremony on any grand scale, the girls are taken to
the nearest temple, or to the illam of a Nambudri, if they happen to
belong to sub-divisions attached to illams, and the tali is tied with
little or no feasting and merriment. In the northern taluks, the very
poor people sometimes tie the tali before the Trikkakkarappan on the
Tiruvonam day."

An interesting account of the tali-kettu ceremony is given by Duarte
Barbosa, who writes as follows. [154] "After they are ten or twelve
years old or more, their mothers perform a marriage ceremony for
them in this manner. They advise the relations and friends that they
may come to do honour to their daughters, and they beg some of their
relations and friends to marry these daughters, and they do so. It must
be said that they have some gold jewel made, which will contain half
a ducat of gold, a little shorter than the tag of lace, with a hole
in the middle passing through it, and they string it on a thread of
white silk; and the mother of the girl stands with her daughter very
much dressed out, and entertaining her with music and singing, and a
number of people. And this relation or friend of hers comes with much
earnestness, and there performs the ceremony of marriage, as though he
married her, and they throw a gold chain round the necks of both of
them together, and he puts the above mentioned jewel round her neck,
which she always has to wear as a sign that she may now do what she
pleases. And the bridegroom leaves her and goes away without touching
her nor more to say to her on account of being her relation; and, if
he is not so, he may remain with her if he wish it, but he is not bound
to do so if he do not desire it. And from that time forward the mother
goes begging some young men to deflower the girl, for among themselves
they hold it an unclean thing and almost a disgrace to deflower women."

The tali-kettu ceremony is referred to by Kerr, who, in his translation
of Castaneda, states that "these sisters of the Zamorin, and other
kings of Malabar, have handsome allowances to live upon; and, when
any of them reaches the age of ten, their kindred send for a young
man of the Nayar caste out of the kingdom, and give him presents
to induce him to initiate the young virgin; after which he hangs a
jewel round her neck, which she wears all the rest of her life, as
a token that she is now at liberty to dispose of herself to anyone
she pleases as long as she lives."

The opinion was expressed by Mr. (now Sir Henry) Winterbotham, one of
the Malabar Marriage Commissioners, that the Brahman tali-tier was
a relic of the time when the Nambutiris were entitled to the first
fruits, and it was considered the high privilege of every Nayar maid
to be introduced by them to womanhood. In this connection, reference
may be made to Hamilton's 'New Account of the East Indies', where
it is stated that "when the Zamorin marries, he must not cohabit
with his bride till the Nambudri, or chief priest, has enjoyed her,
and he, if he pleases, may have three nights of her company, because
the first fruits of her nuptials must be an holy oblation to the
god she worships. And some of the nobles are so complaisant as to
allow the clergy the same tribute, but the common people cannot have
that compliment paid to them, but are forced to supply the priests'
places themselves."

Of those who gave evidence before the Malabar Commission, some thought
the tali-kettu was a marriage, some not. Others called it a mock
marriage, a formal marriage, a sham marriage, a fictitious marriage,
a marriage sacrament, the preliminary part of marriage, a meaningless
ceremony, an empty form, a ridiculous farce, an incongruous custom,
a waste of money, and a device for becoming involved in debt. "While,"
the report states, "a small minority of strict conservatives still
maintain that the tali-kettu is a real marriage intended to confer
on the bridegroom a right to cohabit with the bride, an immense
majority describe it as a fictitious marriage, the origin of which
they are at a loss to explain. And another large section tender the
explanation accepted by our President (Sir T. Muttusami Aiyar) that,
in some way or other, it is an essential caste observance preliminary
to the forming of sexual relations."

In a recent note, Mr. K. Kannan Nayar writes [155]:

"Almost every Nayar officer in Government employ, when applying for
leave on account of the kettukallianam of his daughter or niece,
states in his application that he has to attend to the 'marriage'
of the girl. The ceremony is generally mentioned as marriage even in
the letters of invitation sent by Nayar gentlemen in these days....

This ceremony is not intended even for the betrothal of the girl to
a particular man, but is one instituted under Brahman influence as an
important kriya (sacrament) antecedent to marriage, and intended, as
the popular saying indicates, for dubbing the girl with the status of
Amma, a woman fit to be married. The saying is Tali-kettiu Amma ayi,
which means a woman has become an Amma when her tali-tying ceremony
is over."

In summing up the evidence collected by him, Mr. L. Moore states
[156] that it seems to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that "from
the sixteenth century at all events, and up to the early portion of
the nineteenth century, the relations between the sexes in families
governed by marumakkattayam were of as loose a description as it
is possible to imagine. The tali-kettu kalyanam, introduced by the
Brahmans, brought about no improvement, and indeed in all probability
made matters much worse by giving a quasi-religious sanction to a
fictitious marriage, which bears an unpleasant resemblance to the
sham marriage ceremonies performed among certain inferior castes
elsewhere as a cloak for prostitution. As years passed, some time
about the opening of the nineteenth century, the Kerala Mahatmyam
and Keralolpathi were concocted, probably by Nambudris, and false
and pernicious doctrines as to the obligations laid on the Nayars by
divine law to administer to the lust of Nambudris were disseminated
abroad. The better classes among the Nayars revolted against the
degrading custom thus established, and a custom sprang up especially
in North Malabar, of making sambandham a more or less formal contract,
approved and sanctioned by the karnavan (senior male) of the tarwad
to which the lady belonged, and celebrated with elaborate ceremony
under the pudamuri form. That there was nothing analogous to the
pudamuri prevalent in Malabar from A.D. 1550 to 1800 may, I think,
be fairly presumed from the absence of all allusion to it in the works
of the various European writers." According to Act IV, Madras, 1896,
sambandham means an alliance between a man and a woman, by reason of
which they in accordance with the custom of the community to which
they belong, or either of them belongs, cohabit or intend to cohabit
as husband and wife.

Of sambandham the following account was given by Mr. Chandu Menon to
the Malabar Marriage Commission. "The variations of the sambandham are
the pudamuri, vastradanam, uzhamporukkuka, vitaram kayaruka, etc.,
which are local expressions hardly understood beyond the localities
in which they are used, but there would be hardly a Malaiyali who
would not readily understand what is meant by sambandham tudanguga
(to begin sambandham). The meaning of this phrase, which means to
'marry,' is understood throughout Keralam in the same way, and
there can be no ambiguity or mistake about it. It is thus found that
sambandham is the principal word denoting marriage among marumakkatayam
Nayars. [Sambandhakaran is now the common term for husband.] It will
also be found, on a close and careful examination of facts, that the
principal features of this sambandham ceremony all over Keralam are
in the main the same. As there are different local names denoting
marriage, so there may be found local variations in the performance
of the ceremony. But the general features are more or less the
same. For instance, the examination, prior to the betrothal, of the
horoscopes of the bride and bridegroom to ascertain whether their
stars agree astrologically; the appointment of an auspicious day for
the celebration of the ceremony; the usual hour at which the ceremony
takes place; the presentation of danam (gifts) to Brahmans; sumptuous
banquet; the meeting of the bride and bridegroom, are features which
are invariably found in all well-conducted sambandhams in all parts of
Keralam alike. But here I would state that I should not be understood
as saying that each and every one of the formalities above referred
to are gone through at all sambandhams among respectable Nayars;
and I would further state that they ought to be gone through at every
sambandham, if the parties wish to marry according to the custom of
the country. I would now briefly refer to the local variations to
be found in the ceremony of the sambandham, and also the particular
incidents attached to certain forms of sambandham in South Malabar. I
shall describe the pudamuri or vastradanam as celebrated in North
Malabar, and then show how the other forms of sambandham differ from
it. Of all the forms of sambandham, I consider the pudamuri the most
solemn and the most fashionable in North Malabar. The preliminary
ceremony in every pudamuri is the examination of the horoscopes of
the bride and bridegroom by an astrologer. This takes place in the
house of the bride, in the presence of the relations of the bride
and bridegroom. The astrologer, after examination, writes down the
results of his calculations on a piece of palmyra leaf, with his
opinion as to the fitness or otherwise of the match, and hands it
over to the bridegroom's relations. If the horoscopes agree, a day
is then and there fixed for the celebration of the marriage. This
date is also written down on two pieces of cadjan (palm leaf), one
of which is handed over to the bride's Karanavan, and the other to
the bridegroom's relations. The astrologer and the bridegroom's party
are then feasted in the bride's house, and the former also receives
presents in the shape of money or cloth. This preliminary ceremony,
which is invariably performed at all pudamuris in North Malabar,
is called pudamuri kurikkal, but is unknown in South Malabar. Some
three or four days prior to the date fixed for the celebration of the
pudamuri, the bridegroom visits his Karanavans and elders in caste,
to obtain formal leave to marry. The bridegroom on such occasion
presents his elders with betel and nuts, and obtains their formal
sanction to the wedding. On the day appointed, the bridegroom proceeds
after sunset to the house of the bride, accompanied by a number of
his friends. He goes in procession, and is received at the gate of
the house by the bride's party, and conducted with his friends to
seats provided in the tekkini or southern hall of the house. There the
bridegroom distributes presents (danam) or money gifts to the Brahmans
assembled. After this, the whole party is treated to a sumptuous
banquet. It is now time for the astrologer to appear, and announce
the auspicious hour fixed. He does it accordingly, and receives
his dues. The bridegroom is then taken by one of his friends to the
padinhatta or principal room of the house. The bridegroom's party has,
of course, brought with them a quantity of new cloths, and betel leaves
and nuts. The cloths are placed in the western room of the house
(padinhatta), in which all religious and other important household
ceremonies are usually performed. This room will be decorated, and
turned into a bed-room for the occasion. There will be placed in the
room a number of lighted lamps, and ashtamangalyam, which consists of
eight articles symbolical of mangalyam or marriage. These are rice,
paddy (unhusked rice), the tender leaves of cocoanut trees, an arrow,
a looking-glass, a well-washed cloth, burning fire, and a small round
box called cheppu. These will be found placed on the floor of the room
as the bridegroom enters it. The bridegroom with his groomsman enters
the room through the eastern door. The bride, dressed in rich cloths
and bedecked with jewels, enters the room through the western door,
accompanied by her aunt or some other elderly lady of her family. The
bride stands facing east, with the ashtamangalyam and lit-up lamps
in front of her. The groomsman then hands over to the bridegroom a
few pieces of new cloth, and the bridegroom puts them into the hands
of the bride. This being done, the elderly lady who accompanied the
bride sprinkles rice over the lamps and the head and shoulders of
the bride and bridegroom, who immediately leaves the room, as he
has to perform another duty. At the tekkini or southern hall, he
now presents his elders and friends with cakes, and betel leaf and
nuts. Betel and nuts are also given to all the persons assembled at
the place. After the departure of the guests, the bridegroom retires
to the bed-room with the bride. Next morning, the vettilakettu or
salkaram ceremony follows, and the bridegroom's female relations take
the bride to the husband's house, where there is feasting in honour
of the occasion. Uzhamporukkuka or vidaram kayaral is a peculiar form
of marriage in North Malabar. It will be seen from description given
above that the pudamuri is necessarily a costly ceremony, and many
people resort to the less costly ceremony of uzhamporukkuka or vidaram
kayaral. The features of this ceremony are to a certain extent the
same as pudamuri, but it is celebrated on a smaller scale. There is
no cloth-giving ceremony. The feasting is confined to the relations
of the couple. The particular incident of this form of marriage
is that the husband should visit the wife in her house, and is not
permitted to take her to his house, unless and until he celebrates
the regular pudamuri ceremony. This rule is strictly adhered to in
North Malabar, and instances in which the husband and wife joined by
the uzhamporukkuka ceremony, and with grown-up children as the issue
of such marriage, undergo the pudamuri ceremony some fifteen or twenty
years after uzhamporukkuka, in order to enable the husband to take the
wife to his house, are known to me personally. The sambandham of South
Malabar, and the kidakkora kalyanam of Palghat have all or most of the
incidents of pudamuri, except the presenting of cloths. Here money is
substituted for cloths, and the other ceremonies are more or less the
same. There is also salkaram ceremony wanting in South Malabar, as
the wives are not at once taken to the husband's house after marriage."

In connection with the following note by Mr. C. P. Raman Menon on
sambandham among the Akattu Charna or Akathithaparisha (inside clan),
Mr. Fawcett states that "my informant says in the first place that
the man should not enter into sambandham with a woman until he is
thirty. Now-a-days, when change is running wild, the man is often
much less. In North Malabar, which is much more conservative than
the south, it was, however, my experience that sambandham was rare on
the side of the man before twenty-seven." "The Karanavan," Mr. Raman
Menon writes, "and the women of his household choose the bride,
and communicate their choice to the intending bridegroom through a
third party; they may not, dare not speak personally to him in the
matter. He approves. The bride's people are informally consulted,
and, if they agree, the astrologer is sent for, and examines the
horoscopes of both parties to the intended union. As a matter of
course these are found to agree, and the astrologer fixes a day
for the sambandham ceremony. A few days before this takes place,
two or three women of the bridegroom's house visit the bride,
intimating beforehand that they are coming. There they are well
treated with food and sweetmeats, and, when on the point of leaving,
they inform the senior female that the bridegroom (naming him) wishes
to have sambandham with ... (naming her), and such and such a day is
auspicious for the ceremony. The proposal is accepted with pleasure,
and the party from the bridegroom's house returns home. Preparations
for feasting are made in the house of the bride, as well as in that
of the bridegroom on the appointed day. To the former all relations
are invited for the evening, and to the latter a few friends who are
much of the same age as the bridegroom are invited to partake of food
at 7 or 8 P.M., and accompany him to the bride's house. After eating
they escort him, servants carrying betel leaves (one or two hundred
according to the means of the taravad), areca nuts and tobacco, to
be given to the bride's household, and which are distributed to the
guests. When the bride's house is far away, the bridegroom makes his
procession thither from a neighbouring house. Arrived at the bride's
house, they sit awhile, and are again served with food, after which
they are conducted to a room, where betel and other chewing stuff
is placed on brass or silver plates called thalam. The chewing over,
sweetmeats are served, and then all go to the bridal chamber, where
the women of the house and others are assembled with the bride, who,
overcome with shyness, hides herself behind the others. Here again
the bridegroom and his party go through more chewing, while they chat
with the women. After a while the men withdraw, wishing the couple
all happiness, and then the women, departing one by one, leave the
couple alone, one of them shutting the door from the outside. The
Pattar Brahmans always collect on these occasions, and receive small
presents (dakshina) of two to four annas each, with betel leaves and
areca nuts from the bridegroom, and sometimes from the bride. A few
who are invited receive their dakshina in the bridal chamber, the
others outside. Those of the bridegroom's party who live far away
are given sleeping accommodation at the bride's house [in a Nayar
house the sleeping rooms of the men and women are at different ends
of the house]. About daybreak next morning the bridegroom leaves
the house with his party, leaving under his pillow 8, 16, 32, or
64 rupees, according to his means, which are intended to cover the
expenses of the wife's household in connection with the ceremony. The
sambandham is now complete. The girl remains in her own taravad house,
and her husband visits her there, coming in the evening and leaving
next morning. A few days after the completion of the ceremony, the
senior woman of the bridegroom's house sends some cloths, including
pavu mundu (superior cloths) and thorthu mundu (towels) and some
oil to the bride for her use for six months. Every six months she
does the same, and, at the Onam, Vishu, and Thiruvathira festivals,
she sends besides a little money, areca nuts, betel and tobacco. The
money sent should be 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 rupees. Higher sums are very
rarely sent. Before long, the women of the husband's house express a
longing for the girl-wife to be brought to their house, for they have
not seen her yet. Again the astrologer is requisitioned, and, on the
day he fixes, two or three of the women go to the house of the girl,
or, as they call her, Ammayi (uncle's wife). They are well treated,
and presently bring away the girl with them. As she is about to enter
the gate-house of her husband's taravad, the stile of which she crosses
right leg first, two or three of the women meet her, bearing a burning
lamp and a brass plate (thalam), and precede her to the nalukattu of
the house. There she is seated on a mat, and a burning lamp, a nazhi
(measure) of rice, and some plantains are placed before her. One of
the younger women takes up a plantain, and puts a piece of it in the
Ammayi's mouth; a little ceremony called madhuram tital, or giving the
sweets for eating. She lives in her husband's house for a few days,
and is then sent back to her own with presents, bracelets, rings or
cloths, which are gifts of the senior woman of the house. After this
she is at liberty to visit her husband's house on any day, auspicious
or inauspicious. In a big taravad, where there are many women, the
Ammayi does not, as a rule, get much sympathy and good-will in the
household, and, if she happens to live temporarily in her husband's
house, as is sometimes, though very rarely the case in South Malabar,
and to be the wife of the Karanavan, it is observed that she gets more
than her share of whatever good things may be going. Hence the proverb,
'Place Ammayi Amma on a stone, and grind her with another stone.' A
sambandham ceremony at Calicut is recorded by Mr. Fawcett, at which
there were cake and wine for the guests, and a ring for the bride.

In connection with sambandham, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes from
Travancore that "it is known in different localities as gunadosham
(union through good or evil), vastradanam or putavakota (giving of
cloth), and uzhamporukkal (waiting one's turn). It may be performed
without any formal ceremony whatever, and is actually a private
transaction confidentially gone through in some families. The
bridegroom and his friends assemble at the house of the bride on the
appointed night, and, before the assembled guests, the bridegroom
presents the bride with a few unbleached cloths. Custom enjoins that
four pieces of cloth should be presented, and the occasion is availed
of to present cloths to the relatives and servants of the bride
also. The girl asks permission of her mother and maternal uncle,
before she receives the cloths. After supper, and the distribution
of pan-supari, the party disperses. Another day is fixed for the
consummation ceremony. On that day the bridegroom, accompanied by a few
friends, goes to the bride's house with betel leaves and nuts. After
a feast, the friends retire."

It is noted in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that one name for the
sambandham rite is kitakkora, meaning bed-chamber ceremony. In the same
report, the following account of a puberty ceremony is given. "The
tirandukuli ceremony is practically a public declaration that a girl
has reached the age of maturity. When a girl attains puberty, she
is seated in a separate room, where a lamp is lit, and a brass pot
with a bunch of cocoanut flowers is kept. She has to keep with her a
circular plate of brass called valkannadi, literally a looking-glass
with a handle. The event is proclaimed by korava (shouts of joy by
females). The females of the neighbouring houses, and of the families
of friends and relatives, visit her. New cloths are presented to the
girl by her near relatives. On the third day the villagers, friends and
relatives are treated to a luncheon of rice and milk pudding. Early
in the morning on the fourth day, the Mannans or Velans appear. The
girl is anointed with oil, and tender leaves of the cocoanut palm
are tied round the head and waist. In the company of maidens she is
brought out of the room, and the Velans sing certain songs. Thence
the party move on to the tank, where the girl wears a cloth washed
by a Velan, and takes a bath. After the bath the Velans again sing
songs. In the afternoon, the girl is taken out by the females invited
for the occasion to an ornamental pandal, and the Velans, standing at a
distance, once more sing. With the usual distribution of pan-supari,
sandal and jasmine flowers, the ceremony closes. In the midst of
the song, the female guests of the village, the wives of friends and
relatives, and most of the members of the family itself, present each a
small cloth to the Velans. They are also given a small amount of money,
rice, betel leaf, etc. The guests are then entertained at a feast. In
some places, the girl is taken to a separate house for the bath on the
fourth day, whence she returns to her house in procession, accompanied
by tom-toms and shouting. In the northern taluks, the Velan's song is
in the night, and the performance of the ceremony on the fourth day
is compulsory. In the southern taluks, it is often put off to some
convenient day. Before the completion of this song ceremony, the girl
is prohibited from going out of the house or entering temples."

It is provided, by the Malabar Marriage Act, 1896, that, "when a
sambandham has been registered in the manner therein laid down, it
shall have the incidence of a legal marriage; that is to say, the wife
and children shall be entitled to maintenance by the husband or father,
respectively, and to succeed to half his self-acquired property,
if he dies intestate; while the parties to such a sambandham cannot
register a second sambandham during its continuance, that is, until
it is terminated by death or by a formal application for divorce in
the Civil Courts. The total number of sambandhams registered under
the Act has, however, been infinitesimal, and the reason for this
is, admittedly, the reluctance of the men to fetter their liberty to
terminate sambandham at will by such restrictions as the necessity
for formal divorce, or to undertake the burdensome responsibility of
a legal obligation to maintain their wife and offspring. If, as the
evidence recorded by the Malabar Marriage Commission tended to show,
'a marriage law in North Malabar, and throughout the greater part of
South Malabar, would merely legalise what is the prevailing custom,'
it is hard to see why there has been such a disinclination to lend
to that custom the dignity of legal sanction." [157] The following
applications to register sambandhams under the Act were received from
1897 to 1904:--


                      Nayars.   Tiyans.   Others.   Total.

               1897        28         6         2       36
               1898         8         2         4       14
               1899         8         2         4       14
               1900         8       ...         9       17
               1901         3       ...         1        4
               1902       ...       ...       ...      ...
               1903         2       ...       ...        2
                          ---       ---        --       --
              Total        57        10        20       87


In a recent account of a Nayar wedding in high life in Travancore,
the host is said to have distributed flowers, attar, etc., to all
his Hindu guests, while the European, Eurasian, and other Christian
guests, partook of cake and wine, and other refreshments, in a
separate tent. The Chief Secretary to Government proposed the toast
of the bride and bridegroom.

The following note on Nayar pregnancy ceremonies was supplied to
Mr. Fawcett by Mr. U. Balakrishnan Nayar. "A woman has to observe
certain ceremonies during pregnancy. First, during and after the
seventh month, she (at least among the well-to-do classes) bathes,
and worships in the temple every morning, and eats before her morning
meal a small quantity of butter, over which mantrams (consecrated
formulæ) have been said by the temple priest, or by Nambutiris. This
is generally done till delivery. Another, and even more important
ceremony, is the puli-kuti (drinking tamarind juice). This is
an indispensable ceremony, performed by rich and poor alike, on a
particular day in the ninth month. The day and hour are fixed by the
local astrologer. The ceremony begins with the planting of a twig of
the ampasham tree on the morning of the day of the ceremony in the
principal courtyard (natu-muttam) of the taravad. At the appointed hour
or muhurtam, the pregnant woman, after having bathed, and properly
attired, is conducted to a particular portion of the house (vatakini
or northern wing), where she is seated, facing eastward. The ammayi, or
uncle's wife, whose presence on the occasion is necessary, goes to the
courtyard, and, plucking a few leaves of the planted twig, squeezes a
few drops of its juice into a cup. This she hands over to the brother,
if any, of the pregnant woman. It is necessary that the brother should
wear a gold ring on his right ring finger. Holding a country knife
(pissan kathi) in his left hand, which he directs towards the mouth,
he pours the tamarind juice over the knife with his right hand three
times, and it dribbles down the knife into the woman's mouth, and
she drinks it. In the absence of a brother, some other near relation
officiates. After she has swallowed the tamarind juice, the woman is
asked to pick out one of several packets of different grains placed
before her. The grain in the packet she happens to select is supposed
to declare the sex of the child in her womb. The ceremony winds up with
a sumptuous feast to all the relatives and friends of the family." In
connection with pregnancy ceremonies, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes
that "the puli-kuti ceremony is performed at the seventh, or sometimes
the ninth month. The husband has to contribute the rice, cocoanut,
and plantains, and present seven vessels containing sweetmeats. In
the absence of a brother, a Maran pours the juice into the mouth
of the woman." It is noted in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that
"the puli-kudi ceremony consists in administering to the woman with
child a few pills of tamarind and other acid substances. The pills
are placed at the end of a knife-blade, and pushed into the mouth
of the woman by means of a gold ring. The ceremony, which in a way
corresponds to the pumsavana of the Brahmans, is performed either by
a brother or uncle of the woman, and, in the absence of both, by the
husband himself. Unlike Brahmans, the ceremony is performed only at
the time of the first pregnancy." In the eighth month, a ceremony,
called garbha veli uzhiyal, is performed by the Kaniyan (astrologer)
to remove the effects of the evil eye.

The ceremonies observed in connection with pregnancy are described
as follows in the Gazetteer of Malabar. "The first regular ceremony
performed during pregnancy is known as pulikudi or drinking tamarind,
which corresponds to the Pumsavanam of the Brahmans. But there
are other observances of less importance, which commonly, if not
invariably, precede this, and may be considered as corresponding to the
Garbharakshana (embryo or womb protection) ceremony sometimes performed
by Brahmans, though not one of the obligatory sacraments. Sometimes
the pregnant woman is made to consume daily a little ghee (clarified
butter), which has been consecrated by a Nambudiri with appropriate
mantrams. Sometimes exorcists of the lower castes, such as Panans,
are called in, and perform a ceremony called Balikkala, in which
they draw magic patterns on the ground, into which the girl throws
lighted wicks, and sing rude songs to avert from the unborn babe the
unwelcome attentions of evil spirits, accompanying them on a small
drum called tudi, or with bell-metal cymbals. The ceremony concludes
with the sacrifice of a cock, if the woman is badly affected by the
singing. The pulikudi is variously performed in the fifth, seventh,
or ninth month. An auspicious hour has to be selected by the village
astrologer for this as for most ceremonies. A branch of a tamarind
tree should be plucked by the pregnant woman's brother, who should go
to the tree with a kindi (bell-metal vessel) of water, followed by an
Enangatti [158] carrying a hanging lamp with five wicks (tukkuvilakku),
and, before plucking it, perform three pradakshinams round it. In the
room in which the ceremony is to be performed, usually the vadakkini,
there is arranged a mat, the usual lamp (nilavilakku) with five
wicks, and a para measure of rice (niracchaveppu), also the materials
necessary for the performance of Ganapathi puja (worship of the god
Ganesa), consisting of plantains, brown sugar, leaves of the sacred
basil or tulasi (Ocimum sanctum), sandal paste, and the eight spices
called ashtagantham. The woman's brother performs Ganapathi puja, and
then gives some of the tamarind leaves to the Enangatti, who expresses
their juice, and mixes it with that of four other plants. [159] The
mixture is boiled with a little rice, and the brother takes a little
of it in a jack (Artocarpus integrifolia) leaf folded like a spoon,
and lets it run down the blade of a knife into his sister's mouth. He
does this three times. Then the mixture is administered in the same
manner by some woman of the husband's family, and then by an Ammayi
(wife of one of the members of the girl's tarwad). The branch is
then planted in the nadumittam, and feasting brings the ceremony
to a close. The above description was obtained from an Urali Nayar
of Calicut taluk. In other localities and castes, the details vary
considerably. Sometimes the mixture is simply poured into the woman's
mouth, instead of being dripped off a knife. Some castes use a small
spoon of gold or silver instead of the jack leaves. In South Malabar
there is not as a rule any procession to the tamarind tree. Among
Agathu Charna Nayars of South Malabar, the ceremony takes place in
the nadumittam, whither the tamarind branch is brought by a Tiyan. The
girl carries a valkannadi or bell-metal mirror, a charakkol or arrow,
and a pisankatti (knife). An Enangatti pours some oil on her head,
and lets it trickle down two or three hairs to her navel where it is
caught in a plate. Then the girl and her brother, holding hands, dig a
hole with the charakkol and pisankatti, and plant the tamarind branch
in the nadumittam, and water it. Then the juice is administered. Until
she is confined, the girl waters the tamarind branch, and offers rice,
flowers, and lighted wicks to it three times a day. When labour begins,
she uproots the branch."

"At delivery," Mr. Balakrishnan Nayar writes, "women of the barber
caste officiate as midwives. In some localities, this is performed by
Velan caste women. Pollution is observed for fifteen days, and every
day the mother wears cloths washed and presented by a woman of the
Vannan [or Tiyan] caste. On the fifteenth day is the purificatory
ceremony. As in the case of death pollution, a man of the Attikurissi
clan sprinkles on the woman a liquid mixture of oil and the five
products of the cow (panchagavya), with gingelly (Sesamum) seeds. Then
the woman takes a plunge-bath, and sits on the ground near the tank
or river. Some woman of the family, with a copper vessel in her hands,
takes water from the tank or river, and pours it on the mother's head
as many as twenty-one times. This done, she again plunges in the water,
from which she emerges thoroughly purified. It may be noted that,
before the mother proceeds to purify herself, the new-born babe has
also to undergo a rite of purification. It is placed on the bare
floor, and its father or uncle sprinkles a few drops of cold water
on it, and takes it in his hands. The superstitious believe that
the temperament of the child is determined by that of the person
who thus sprinkles the water. All the members of the taravad observe
pollution for fifteen days following the delivery, during which they
are prohibited from entering temples and holy places." It is noted by
Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar that the first act done, when a male child is
born, is to beat the earth with a cocoanut leaf, and, if the issue
is a female, to grind some turmeric in a mortar, with the object,
it is said, of removing the child's fear.

In connection with post-natal ceremonies, Mr. Balakrishnan Nayar
writes further that "the twenty-seventh day after the child's birth,
or the first recurring day of the star under which it was born,
marks the next important event. On this day, the Karanavan of the
family gives to the child a spoonful or two of milk mixed with
sugar and slices of plantain. Then he names the child, and calls
it in the ear by the name three times. This is followed by a feast
to all friends and relatives, the expenses of which are met by the
father of the child. With the Nayar, every event is introduced by
a ceremonial. The first meal of rice (chorun) partaken of by the
child forms no exception to the rule. It must be remembered that
the child is not fed on rice for some time after birth, the practice
being to give it flour of dried plantain boiled with jaggery (crude
sugar). There is a particular variety of plantain, called kunnan,
used for this purpose. Rice is given to the child for the first time
generally during the sixth month. The astrologer fixes the day, and,
at the auspicious hour, the child, bathed and adorned with ornaments
(which it is the duty of the father to provide) is brought, and laid
on a plank. A plantain leaf is spread in front of it, and a lighted
brass lamp placed near. On the leaf are served a small quantity of
cooked rice--generally a portion of the rice offered to some temple
divinity--some tamarind, salt, chillies, and sugar. [In some places
all the curries, etc., prepared for the attendant feast, are also
served.] Then the Karanavan, or the father, ceremoniously approaches,
and sits down facing the child. First he puts in the mouth of the
child a mixture of the tamarind, chillies and salt, then some rice,
and lastly a little sugar. Thenceforward the ordinary food of the child
is rice. It is usual on this occasion for relatives (and especially
the bandhus, such as the ammayi, or 'uncle's wife') to adorn the child
with gold bangles, rings and other ornaments. The rice-giving ceremony
is, in some cases, preferably performed at some famous temple, that
at Guruvayur being a favourite one for this purpose." It is noted
by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar that the rice-giving ceremony is usually
performed by taking the child to a neighbouring temple, and feeding
it with the meal offered to the deity as nivadiyam. In some places,
the child is named on the chorun day.

Of ceremonies which take place in infancy and childhood, the following
account is given in the Gazetteer of Malabar. "On the fifth day after
birth, a woman of the Attikurissi or Marayan caste among Nayars, or
of the barber caste in the lower classes, is called in, and purifies
the mother, the other women of the household, and the room in which
the child was born, by lustration with milk and gingelly oil, using
karuga (Cynodon Dactylon) as a sprinkler. Her perquisites are the
usual niracchaveppu (1 edangazhi of paddy and 1 nazhi of uncooked rice)
placed together with a lamp of five wicks in the room to be cleansed,
and a small sum in cash. A similar purification ceremony on the 15th
day concludes the pollution period. In some cases, milk and cow's urine
are sprinkled over the woman, and, after she has bathed, the Marayan,
or Attikurissi waves over her and the child two vessels, one containing
water, stained red with turmeric and lime, and one water blackened with
powdered charcoal. During this and other periods, a characteristic
service called mattu (change) has to be rendered by people of the
Mannan caste to Nayars, and to other castes by their proper washermen,
who may or may not be Mannans. On the day of birth, the Mannatti
brings a clean tuni (cloth) of her own, and a mundu (cloth), which
she places in the yard, in which she finds the accustomed perquisites
of grain set out, and a lamp. An Attikurissi Nayar woman takes the
clean clothes, and the Mannatti removes those previously worn by the
mother. Every subsequent day during the pollution period, the Mannatti
brings a change of raiment, but it is only on the 7th and 15th days
that any ceremonial is observed, and that the Attikurissi woman is
required. On those days, a Mannan man attends with the Mannatti, He
makes three pradakshinams round the clean clothes, the lamp, and the
niracchaveppu, and scatters a little of the grain forming the latter
on the ground near it, with an obeisance, before the Attikurissi
woman takes the clothes indoors. This rite of mattu has far reaching
importance. It affords a weapon, by means of which the local tyrant can
readily coerce his neighbours, whom he can subject to the disabilities
of excommunication by forbidding the washerman to render them this
service; while it contributes in no small degree to the reluctance
of Malayali women to leave Kerala, since it is essential that the
mattu should be furnished by the appropriate caste and no other.

"On the twenty-eighth day (including the day of birth) comes the
Palu-kudi (milk-drinking) ceremony, at which some women of the father's
family must attend. Amongst castes in which the wife lives with the
husband, the ceremony takes place in the husband's house, to which
the wife and child return for the first time on this day. The usual
lamp, niracchaveppu and kindi of water, are set forth with a plate,
if possible of silver, containing milk, honey, and bits of a sort of
plantain called kunnan, together with three jack leaves folded to serve
as spoons. The mother brings the child newly bathed, and places it in
his Karnavan's lap. The goldsmith is in attendance with a string of
five beads (mani or kuzhal) made of the panchaloham or five metals,
gold, silver, iron, copper and lead, which the father ties round
the baby's waist. The Karnavan, or the mother, then administers a
spoonful of the contents of the plate to the child with each of the
jack leaves in turn. The father's sister, or other female relative,
also administers some, and the Karnavan then whispers the child's
name thrice in its right ear.

"The name is not publicly announced till the Chorunnu or Annaprasanam
(rice giving), which takes place generally in the sixth month,
and must be performed at an auspicious moment prescribed by an
astrologer. The paraphernalia required are, besides the five-wicked
lamp, some plantain leaves on which are served rice and four kinds of
curry called kalan, olan, avil, and ericchakari, some pappadams (wafers
of flour and other ingredients), plantains and sweetmeats called upperi
(plantains fried in cocoanut oil). The mother brings the child newly
bathed, and wearing a cloth for the first time, and places it in the
Karnavan's lap. The father then ties round the child's neck a gold
ring, known as muhurta mothiram (auspicious moment ring), and the
relatives present give the child other ornaments of gold or silver
according to their means, usually a nul or neck-thread adorned with
one or more pendants, an arannal or girdle, a pair of bangles, and a
pair of anklets. The Karnavan then, after an oblation to Ganapathi,
gives the child some of the curry, and whispers its name in its right
ear three times. He then carries the child to a cocoanut tree near
the house, round which he makes three pradakshinams, pouring water
from a kindi round the foot of the tree as he does so. The procession
then returns to the house, and on the way an old woman of the family
proclaims the baby's name aloud for the first time in the form of
a question, asking it 'Krishnan' (for instance), 'dost thou see the
sky?' In some cases, the father simply calls out the name twice.

"The Vidyarambham ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the child's
education takes place in the fifth or seventh year. In some places,
the child is first taken to the temple, where some water sanctified
by mantrams is poured over his head by the Shantikaran (officiating
priest). The ceremony at the house is opened by Ganapathi puja
performed by an Ezhuttacchan, or by a Nambudri, or another Nayar. The
Ezhuttacchan writes on the child's tongue with a gold fanam (coin)
the invocation to Ganapathi (Hari Sri Ganapathayi nama), or sometimes
the fifty-one letters of the Malayalam alphabet, and then grasps the
middle finger of the child's right hand, and with it traces the same
letters in parched rice. He also gives the child an ola (strip of
palm leaf) inscribed with them, and receives in return a small fee in
cash. Next the child thrice touches first the Ezhuttacchan's feet, and
then his own forehead with his right hand, in token of that reverent
submission to the teacher, which seems to have been the key-note of
the old Hindu system of education.

"The Kathukuttu or ear-boring is performed either at the same time as
the Pala-kudi or the Choulam, or at any time in the fifth or seventh
year. The operator, who may be any one possessing the necessary skill,
pierces first the right and then the left ear with two gold or silver
wires brought by the goldsmith, or with karamullu thorns. The wires
or thorns are left in the ears. In the case of girls, the hole is
subsequently gradually distended by the insertion of nine different
kinds of thorns or plugs in succession, the last of which is a bamboo
plug, till it is large enough to admit the characteristic Malayali
ear ornament, the boss-shaped toda."

Of the death ceremonies among the Nayars of Malabar, the following
detailed account is given by Mr. Fawcett. "When the dying person is
about to embark for that bourne from which no traveller returns, and
the breath is about to leave his body, the members of the household,
and all friends who may be present, one by one, pour a little water,
a few drops from a tiny cup made of a leaf or two of the tulsi (Ocimum
sanctum), into his mouth, holding in the hand a piece of gold or a
gold ring, the idea being that the person should touch gold ere it
enters the mouth of the person who is dying. If the taravad is rich
enough to afford it, a small gold coin (a rasi fanam, if one can be
procured) is placed in the mouth, and the lips are closed. As soon as
death has taken place, the corpse is removed from the cot or bed and
carried to the vatakkini (a room in the northern end of the house),
where it is placed on long plantain leaves spread out on the floor;
while it is in the room, whether by day or night, a lamp is kept
burning, and one member of the taravad holds the head in his lap,
and another the feet in the same way; and here the neighbours come
to take a farewell look at the dead. As the Malayalis believe that
disposal of a corpse by cremation or burial as soon as possible after
death is conducive to the happiness of the spirit of the departed,
no time is lost in setting about the funeral. The bodies of senior
members of the taravad, male or female, are burned, those of children
under two are buried; so too are the bodies of all persons who have
died of cholera or small-pox. When preparations for the funeral have
been made, the corpse is removed to the natumuttam or central yard of
house, if there is one (there always is in the larger houses); and,
if there is not, is taken to the front yard, where it is again laid on
plantain leaves. It is washed and anointed, the usual marks are made
with sandal paste and ashes as in life, and it is neatly clothed. There
is then done what is called the potavekkuka ceremony, or placing new
cotton cloths (koti mundu) over the corpse by the senior member of
the deceased's taravad followed by all the other members, and also
the sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, and all relatives. These cloths
are used for tying up the corpse, when being taken to the place of
burial or cremation. In some parts of Malabar, the corpse is carried
on a bier made of fresh bamboos, tied up in these cloths, while in
others it is carried, well covered in the cloths, by hand. In either
case it is carried by the relatives. Before the corpse is removed,
there is done another ceremony called paravirakkuka, or filling up
paras. (A para is a measure nearly as big as a gallon.) All adult male
members of the taravad take part in it under the direction of a man
of the Attikkurissi clan who occupies the position of director of the
ceremonies during the next fifteen days, receiving as his perquisites
all the rice and other offerings made to the deceased's spirit. It
consists in filling up three para measures with paddy (unhusked rice),
and one edangali (1/10 of a para) with raw rice. These offerings of
paddy and rice are placed very near the corpse, together with a burning
lamp of the kind commonly used in Malabar, called nela vilaku. If the
taravad is rich enough to afford one, a silk cloth is placed over the
corpse before its removal for cremation. As much fuel as is necessary
having been got ready at the place of cremation, a small pit about the
size of the corpse is dug, and across this are placed three long stumps
of plantain tree, one at each end, and one in the middle, on which as
a foundation the pyre is laid. The whole, or at least a part of the
wood used, should be that of the mango tree. As the corpse is being
removed to the pyre, the senior Anandravan [160] who is next in age
(junior) to the deceased tears from one of the new cloths laid on the
corpse a piece sufficient to go round his waist, ties it round his
waist and holds in his hand, or tucks into his cloth at the waist,
a piece of iron, generally a long key. This individual is throughout
chief among the offerers of pindam (balls of rice) to the deceased. The
corpse is laid on the bier with the head to the south, with the fuel
laid over it, and a little camphor, sandalwood and ghi (clarified
butter), if these things are within the means of the taravad. Here
must be stated the invariable rule that no member of the taravad,
male or female, who is older than the deceased, shall take any part
whatever in the ceremony, or in any subsequent ceremony following on
the cremation or burial. All adult males junior to the deceased should
be present when the pyre is lighted. The deceased's younger brother,
or, if there is none surviving, his nephew (his sister's eldest son)
sets fire to the pyre at the head of the corpse. If the deceased left
a son, this son sets fire at the same time to the pyre at the feet of
the corpse. In the case of the deceased being a woman, her son sets
fire to the pyre; failing a son, the next junior in age to her has
the right to do it. It is a matter of greatest importance that the
whole pyre burns at once. The greatest care is taken that it burns
as a whole, consuming every part of the corpse. While the corpse is
being consumed, all the members of the deceased's taravad who carried
it to the pyre go and bathe in a tank (there is always one in the
compound or grounds round every Nayar's house). The eldest, he who
bears the piece of torn cloth and iron (the key), carries an earthen
pot of water, and all return together to the place of cremation. It
should be said that, on the news of a death, the neighbours assemble,
assisting in digging the grave, preparing the pyre, and so on, and,
while the members of the taravad go and bathe, they remain near the
corpse. By the time the relatives return it is almost consumed by
the fire, and the senior Anandravan carries the pot of water thrice
round the pyre, letting the water leak out by making holes in the
pot as he walks round. On completing the third round, he dashes the
pot on the ground close by where the head of the dead body has been
placed. A small image representing the deceased is then made out of
raw rice, and to this image a few grains of rice and gingelly seeds
are offered. When this has been done, the relatives go home and the
neighbours depart, bathing before entering their houses. When the
cremation has been done by night, the duty of seshakriya (making
offerings to the deceased's spirit) must be begun the next day
between 10 and 11 A.M., and is done on seven consecutive days. In
any case the time for this ceremony is after 10 and before 11, and
it continues for seven days. It is performed as follows. All male
members of the taravad younger than the deceased go together to a
tank and bathe, i.e., they souse themselves in the water, and return
to the house. The eldest of them, the man who tore off the strip of
cloth from the corpse, has with him the same strip of cloth and the
piece of iron, and all assemble in the central courtyard of the house,
where there have been placed ready by an enangan some rice which has
been half boiled, a few grains of gingelly, a few leaves of the cherula
(Ærua lanata), some curds, a smaller measure of paddy, and a smaller
measure of raw rice. These are placed in the north-east corner with a
lamp of the ordinary Malabar pattern. A piece of palmyra leaf, about
a foot or so in length and the width of a finger, is taken, and one
end of it is knotted. The knotted end is placed in the ground, and
the long end is left sticking up. This represents the deceased. The
rice and other things are offered to it. The belief concerning this
piece of palmyra leaf is explained thus. There are in the human body
ten humours:--Vayus, Pranan, Apanan, Samanan, Udanan, Vyanan, Nagan,
Kurman, Krikalan, Devadattan, Dhananjayan. These are called Dasavayu,
i.e., ten airs. When cremation was done for the first time, all these,
excepting the last, were destroyed by the fire. The last one flew
up, and settled on a palmyra leaf. Its existence was discovered by
some Brahman sages, who, by means of mantrams, forced it down to a
piece of palmyra leaf on the earth. So it is thought that, by making
offerings to this Dhananjayan leaf for seven days, the spirit of the
deceased will be mollified, should he have any anger to vent on the
living members of the taravad. The place where the piece of leaf
is to be fixed has been carefully cleaned, and the leaf is fixed
in the centre of the prepared surface. The offerings made to it go
direct to the spirit of the deceased, and the peace of the taravad is
assured. The men who have bathed and returned have brought with them
some grass (karuka pulla), plucked on their way back to the house. They
kneel in front of the piece of palmyra, with the right knee on the
ground. Some of the grass is spread on the ground near the piece of
leaf, and rings made with it are placed on the ring finger of the
right hand by each one present. The first offerings consist of water,
sandal paste, and leaves of the cherula, the eldest of the Anandravans
leading the way. Boys need not go through the actual performance of
offerings; it suffices for them to touch the eldest as he is making
the offerings. The half boiled rice is made into balls (pindam), and
each one present takes one of these in his right hand, and places it
on the grass near the piece of palmyra leaf. Some gingelly seeds are
put into the curd, which is poured so as to make three rings round the
pindams. It is poured out of a small cup made with the leaf on which
the half-boiled rice had been placed. It should not be poured from any
other kind of vessel. The whole is then covered with this same plantain
leaf, a lighted wick is waved, and some milk is put under the leaf. It
is undisturbed for some moments, and leaf is gently tapped with the
back of the fingers of the right hand. The leaf is then removed, and
torn in two at its midrib, one piece being placed on either side of
the pindams. The ceremony is then over for the day. The performers
rise, and remove the wet clothing they have been wearing. The eldest
of the Anandravans should, it was omitted to mention, be kept somewhat
separated from the other Anandravans while in the courtyard, and before
the corpse is removed for cremation; a son-in-law or daughter-in-law,
or some such kind of relation remaining, as it were, between him
and them. He has had the piece of cloth torn from the covering of
the corpse tied round his waist, and the piece of iron in the folds
of his cloth, or stuck in his waist during the ceremony which has
just been described. Now, when it has been completed, he ties the
piece of cloth to the pillar of the house nearest to the piece of
palmyra leaf which has been stuck in the ground, and puts the piece
of iron in a safe place. The piece of palmyra leaf is covered with
a basket. It is uncovered every day for seven days at the same hour,
while the same ceremony is repeated. The balls of rice are removed by
women and girls of the taravad who are junior to the deceased. They
place them in the bell-metal vessel in which the rice was boiled. The
senior places the vessel on her head, and leads the way to a tank,
on the bank of which the rice is thrown. It is hoped that crows will
come and eat it; for, if they do, the impression is received that
the deceased's spirit is pleased with the offering. But, if somehow
it is thought that the crows will not come and eat it, the rice is
thrown into the tank. Dogs are not to be allowed to eat it. The women
bathe after the rice has been thrown away. When the ceremony which
has been described has been performed for the seventh time, i.e.,
on the seventh day after death, the piece of palmyra leaf is removed
from the ground, and thrown on the ashes of the deceased at the place
of cremation. During these seven days, no member of the taravad goes
to any other house. The house of the dead, and all its inmates are
under pollution. No outsider enters it but under ban of pollution,
which is, however, removable by bathing. A visitor entering the house
of the dead during these seven days must bathe before he can enter
his own house. During these seven days, the Karanavan of the family
receives visits of condolence from relatives and friends to whom he
is "at home" on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. They sit and chat,
chew betel, and go home, bathing ere they enter their houses. It is
said that, in some parts of Malabar, the visitors bring with them
small presents in money or kind to help the Karanavan through the
expenditure to which the funeral rites necessarily put him. To hark
back a little, it must not be omitted that, on the third day after the
death, all those who are related by marriage to the taravad of the
deceased combine, and give a good feast to the inmates of the house
and to the neighbours who are invited, one man or woman from each
house. The person so invited is expected to come. This feast is called
patni karigi. On the seventh day, a return feast will be given by the
taravad of the deceased to all relatives and neighbours. Between the
seventh and fourteenth day after death no ceremony is observed, but the
members of the taravad remain under death pollution. On the fourteenth
day comes the sanchayanam. It is the disposal of the calcined remains;
the ashes of the deceased. The male members of the taravad go to
the place of cremation, and, picking up the pieces of unburnt bones
which they find there, place these in an earthen pot which has been
sun-dried (not burnt by fire in the usual way), cover up the mouth
of this pot with a piece of new cloth, and, all following the eldest
who carries it, proceed to the nearest river (it must be running
water), which receives the remains of the dead. The men then bathe,
and return home. In some parts of Malabar the bones are collected
on the seventh day, but it is not orthodox to do so. Better by far
than taking the remains to the nearest river is it to take them to
some specially sacred place, Benares, Gaya, Rameswaram, or even to
some place of sanctity much nearer home, as to Tirunelli in Wynaad,
and there dispose of them in the same manner. The bones or ashes of
any one having been taken to Gaya and there deposited in the river,
the survivors of the taravad have no need to continue the annual
ceremony for that person. This is called ashtagaya sradh. It puts
an end to the need for all earthly ceremonial. It is believed that
the collection and careful disposal of the ashes of the dead gives
peace to his spirit, and, what is more important, the pacified spirit
will not thereafter injure the living members of the taravad, cause
miscarriage to the women, possess the men (as with an evil spirit),
and so on. On the fifteenth day after death is the purificatory
ceremony. Until this has been done, any one touched by any member of
the taravad should bathe before he enters his house, or partakes of
any food. A man of the Athikurisi clan officiates. He sprinkles milk
oil, in which some gingelly seeds have been put, over the persons of
those under pollution. This sprinkling, and the bath which follows it,
remove the death pollution. The purifier receives a fixed remuneration
for his offices on this occasion, as well as when there is a birth in
the taravad. In the case of death of a senior member of a taravad,
well-to-do and recognised as of some importance, there is the feast
called pinda atiyantaram on the sixteenth day after death, given to
the neighbours and friends. With the observance of this feast of
pindams there is involved the diksha, or leaving the entire body
unshaved for forty-one days, or for a year. There is no variable
limit between forty-one days or a year. The forty-one-day period
is the rule in North Malabar. I have seen many who were under the
diksha for a year. He who lets his hair grow may be a son or nephew
of the deceased. One member only of the taravad bears the mark of
mourning by his growth of hair. He who is under the diksha offers
half-boiled rice and gingelly seeds to the spirits of the deceased
every morning after his bath, and he is under restriction from women,
from alcoholic drinks, and from chewing betel, also from tobacco. When
the diksha is observed, the ashes of the dead are not deposited as
described already (in the sun-dried vessel) until its last day--the
forty-first or a year after death. When it is carried on for a year,
there is observed every month a ceremony called bali. It is noteworthy
that, in this monthly ceremony and for the conclusion of the diksha,
it is not the thirtieth or three hundred and sixty-fifth day which
marks the date for the ceremonies, but it is the day (of the month)
of the star which was presiding when the deceased met his death:
the returning day on which the star presides. [161] For the bali, a
man of the Elayatu caste officiates. The Elayatus are priests for the
Nayars. They wear the Brahmin's thread, but they are not Brahmins. They
are not permitted to study the Vedas, but to the Nayars they stand in
the place of the ordinary purohit. The officiating Elayatu prepares
the rice for the bali, when to the deceased, represented by karuka
grass, are offered boiled rice, curds, gingelly seeds, and some other
things. The Elayatu should be paid a rupee for his services, which
are considered necessary even when the man under diksha is himself
familiar with the required ceremonial. The last day of the diksha is
one of festivity. After the bali, the man under diksha is shaved. All
this over, the only thing to be done for the deceased is the annual
sradh or yearly funeral commemorative rite. Rice-balls are made,
and given to crows. Clapping of hands announces to these birds that
the rice is being thrown for them, and, should they not come at once
and eat, it is evident that the spirit is displeased, and the taravad
had better look out. The spirits of those who have committed suicide,
or met death by any violent means, are always particularly vicious and
troublesome to the taravad, their spirits possessing and rendering
miserable some unfortunate member of it. Unless they are pacified,
they will ruin the taravad, so Brahman priests are called in, and
appease them by means of tilahomam, a rite in which sacrificial fire
is raised, and ghi, gingelly, and other things are offered through it."

"There are," Mr. Fawcett writes, "many interesting features in the
death ceremonies as performed by the Kiriattil class. Those who carry
the corpse to the pyre are dressed as women, their cloths being wet,
and each carries a knife on his person. Two junior male members of
the taravad thrust pieces of mango wood into the southern end of
the burning pyre, and, when they are lighted, throw them over their
shoulders to the southwards without looking round. Close to the
northern end of the pyre, two small sticks are fixed in the ground,
and tied together with a cloth, over which water is poured thrice. All
members of the taravad prostrate to the ground before the pyre. They
follow the enangu carrying the pot of water round the pyre, and go
home without looking round. They pass to the northern side of the
house under an arch made by two men standing east and west, holding
at arms length, and touching at the points, the spade that was used
to dig the pit under the pyre, and the axe with which the wood for the
pyre was cut or felled. After this is done the kodali ceremony, using
the spade, axe, and big knife. These are placed on the leaves where
the corpse had lain. Then follows circumambulation and prostration
by all, and the leaves are committed to the burning pyre."

In connection with the death ceremonies, it is noted in the Cochin
Census Report, 1901, that "the last moments of a dying person are
really very trying. All members (male and female), junior to the
dying person, pour into his or her mouth drops of Ganges or other
holy water or conjee (rice) water in token of their last tribute of
regard. Before the person breathes his last, he or she is removed
to the bare floor, as it is considered sacrilegious to allow the
last breath to escape while lying on the bed, and in a room with a
ceiling, which last is supposed to obstruct the free passage of the
breath. The names of gods, or sacred texts are loudly dinned into
his or her ears, so that the person may quit this world with the
recollections of God serving as a passport to heaven. The forehead,
breast, and the joints especially are besmeared with holy ashes,
so as to prevent the messengers of death from tightly tying those
parts when they carry away the person. Soon after the last breath,
the dead body is removed to some open place in the house, covered from
top to toe with a washed cloth, and deposited on the bare floor with
the head towards the south, the region of the God of death. A lighted
lamp is placed near the head, and other lights are placed all round
the corpse. A mango tree is cut, or other firewood is collected,
and a funeral pyre is constructed in the south-eastern corner of
a compound or garden known as the corner of Agni, which is always
reserved as a cemetery for the burning or burial of the dead. All male
members, generally junior, bathe, and, without wiping their head or
body, they remove the corpse to the yard in front of the house, and
place it on a plantain leaf. It is nominally anointed with oil, and
bathed in water. Ashes and sandal are again smeared on the forehead
and joints. The old cloth is removed, and the body is covered with
a new unwashed cloth or a piece of silk. A little gold or silver, or
small coins are put into the mouth. With the breaking of a cocoanut,
and the offering of some powdered rice, betel leaf, areca nut, etc.,
the body is taken to the pyre. The members junior to the deceased
go round the pyre three, five, or seven times, throw paddy and rice
over the dead body, put scantlings of sandal wood, prostrate at the
feet of the corpse, and then set fire to the pyre. When the body is
almost wholly consumed, one of the male members carries a pot of water,
and, after making three rounds, the pot is broken and thrown into the
pyre. The death of an elderly male member of a family is marked by
udakakriya and sanchayanam, and the daily bali performed at the bali
kutti (altar) planted in front of the house, or in the courtyard in
the centre of the house, where there is one. The Ashtikurissi Nayar
officiates as priest at all such obsequies. On the morning of the
fifteenth day, the members of the family wear cloths washed by a
Velan, and assemble together for purification by the Nayar priest,
both before and after bathing, who throws on them paddy and rice,
and sprinkles the holy mixture. The Elayad or family purohit then
performs another punnayaham or purification, and on the sixteenth day
he takes the place of the priest. On the evening of the fifteenth day,
and the morning of the sixteenth day, the purohits and villagers are
sumptuously feasted, and presents of cloths and money are made to the
Elayads. In the Chittur taluk, the Tamil Brahman sometimes performs
priestly functions in place of the Elayad. Diksha is performed for
forty-one days, or for a whole year, for the benefit of the departed
soul. This last ceremony is invariably performed on the death of the
mother, maternal uncle, and elder brother."

In connection with the habitations of the Nayars, Mr. Fawcett writes
as follows. "A house may face east or west, never north or south;
as a rule, it faces the east. Every garden is enclosed by a bank,
a hedge, or a fencing of some kind, and entrance is to be made at one
point only, the east, where there is a gate-house, or, in the case of
the poorest houses, a small portico or open doorway roofed over. One
never walks straight through this; there is always a kind of stile to
surmount. It is the same everywhere in Malabar, and not only amongst
the Nayars. The following is a plan of a nalapura or four-sided house,
which may be taken as representative of the houses of the rich:--

Numbers 6 and 7 are rooms, which are generally used for storing
grain. At A is a staircase leading to the room of the upper storey
occupied by the female members of the family. At B is another
staircase leading to the rooms of the upper storey occupied by the
male members. There is no connection between the portions allotted to
the men and women. No. 8 is for the family gods. The Karanavans and
old women of the family are perpetuated in images of gold or silver,
or, more commonly, brass. Poor people, who cannot afford to have these
images made, substitute a stone. Offerings are made to these images,
or to the stones at every full moon. The throat of a fowl will be cut
outside, and the bird is then taken inside and offered. The entrance
is at C.

There are windows at * * *. E are rooms occupied by women and
children. It may be noticed that the apartment where the men sleep has
no windows on the side of the house which is occupied by women. The
latter are relatively free from control by the men as to who may
visit them. We saw, when speaking of funeral ceremonies, that a house
is supposed to have a courtyard, and, of course, it has this only
when there are four sides to the house. The nalapura is the proper
form of house, for in this alone can all ceremonial be observed in
orthodox fashion. But it is not the ordinary Nayar's house that one
sees all over Malabar. The ordinary house is roughly of the shape here
indicated. Invariably there is an upper storey. There are no doors,
and only a few tiny windows opening to the west. Men sleep at one end,
women at the other, each having their own staircase. Around the house
there is always shade from the many trees and palms. Every house is
in its own seclusion."

Concerning Nayar dwellings, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes that "the
houses of the Nayar, standing in a separate compound, have been by
many writers supposed to have been designed with special reference
to the requirements of offence and defence, and Major Welsh states
that the saying that every man's house is his castle is well verified
here. The higher ambition of the Nayar is, as has frequently been
said, to possess a garden, wherein he can grow, without trouble or
expense, the few necessaries of his existence. The garden surrounding
the house is surrounded by a hedge or strong fence. At the entrance
is an out-house, or patipura, which must have served as a kind of
guardroom in mediæval times. In poorer houses its place is taken by a
roofed door, generally provided with a stile to keep out cattle. The
courtyard is washed with cow-dung, and diverse figures are drawn
with white chalk on the fence. Usually there are three out-houses,
a vadakkettu on the north side serving as a kitchen, a cattle-shed,
and a tekketu on the southern side, where some family spirit is
located. These are generally those of Maruta, i.e., some member of
the family who has died of small-pox. A sword or other weapon, and
a seat or other emblem is located within this out-house, which is
also known by the names of gurusala (the house of a saint), kalari
(military training-ground), and daivappura (house of a deity). The
tekketu is lighted up every evening, and periodical offerings are
made to propitiate the deities enshrined within. In the south-west
corner is the serpent kavu (grove), and by its side a tank for
bathing purposes. Various useful trees are grown in the garden, such
as the jack, areca palm, cocoanut, plantain, tamarind, and mango. The
whole house is known as vitu. The houses are built on various models,
such as pattayappura, nalukettu, ettukettu, and kuttikettu."

Concerning the dress of the Nayars, Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes that
"the males dress themselves in a mundu (cloth), a loose lower garment,
and a towel. A neriyatu, or light cloth of fine texture with coloured
border, is sometimes worn round the mundu on festive occasions. Coats
and caps are recent introductions, but are eschewed by the orthodox as
unnational. It is noted by Mr. Logan that 'the women clothe themselves
in a single white cloth of fine texture, reaching from the waist to the
knees, and occasionally, when abroad, they throw over the shoulder and
bosom another similar cloth. But by custom the Nayar women go uncovered
from the waist. Upper garments indicate lower caste, or sometimes,
by a strange reversal of Western notions, immodesty.' Edward Ives,
who came to Anjengo about 1740, observes that 'the groves on each bank
of the river are chiefly planted with cocoanut trees, and have been
inhabited by men and women in almost a pure state of nature, for they
go with their breasts and bellies entirely naked. This custom prevails
universally throughout every caste from the poorest planter of rice
to the daughter or consort of the king upon the throne.'" (According
to ancient custom, Nayar women in Travancore used to remove their
body-cloth in the presence of the Royal Family. But, since 1856,
this custom has been abolished, by a proclamation during the reign
of H. H. Vanchi Bala Rama Varma Kulasakhara Perumal Bhagiodya Rama
Varma. In a critique on the Indian Census Report, 1901. Mr. J. D. Rees
observes [162] that "if the Census Commissioner had enjoyed the
privilege of living among the Nayars, he would not have accused
them of an 'excess of females.' The most beautiful women in India,
if numerous, could never be excessive." Concerning Nayar females,
Pierre Loti writes [163] that "les femmes ont presque toutes les
traits d'une finesse particulière. Elles se font des bandeaux a la
Vierge, et, avec le reste de leurs cheveux, très noirs et très lisses,
composent une espèce de galette ronde qui se porte au sommet de la
tête, en avant et de côté, retombant un peu vers le front comme une
petite toque cavalièrement posée, en contraste sur l'ensemble de leur
personne qui demeure toujours grave et hiératique."] The Nayars are
particularly cleanly. Buchanan writes that "the higher ranks of the
people of Malayala use very little clothing, but are remarkably
clean in their persons. Cutaneous disorders are never observed
except among slaves and the lowest orders, and the Nayar women are
remarkably careful, repeatedly washing with various saponaceous plants
to keep their hair and skins from every impurity." The washerman is
constantly in requisition. No dirty cloths are ever worn. When going
for temple worship, the Nayar women dress themselves in the tattu form
by drawing the right corner of the hind fold of the cloth between the
thighs, and fastening it at the back. The cloth is about ten cubits
long and three broad, and worn in two folds. The oldest ornament
of the Nayar women is the necklace called nagapatam, the pendants
of which resemble a cobra's hood. The Nayar women wear no ornament
on the head, but decorate the hair with flowers. The nagapatam, and
several other forms of neck ornament, such as kazhultila, nalupanti,
puttali, chelakkamotiram, amatali, arumpumani, and kumilatali are
fast vanishing. The kuttu-minnu is worn on the neck for the first
time by a girl when her tali-kettu is celebrated. This ornament is
also called gnali. Prior to the tali-kettu ceremony, the girls wear a
kasu or sovereign. The inseparable neck ornament of a Nayar woman in
modern days is the addiyal, to which a patakkam is attached. The only
ornament for the ears is the takka or toda. After the lobes have been
dilated at the karnavedha ceremony, and dilated, a big leaden ring
is inserted in them. The nose ornament of women is called mukkuthi,
from which is suspended a gold wire called gnattu. No ornament is
worn in the right nostril. The wearing of gold bangles on the wrists
has been long the fashion among South Indian Hindu females of almost
all high castes. Round the waist Nayar women wear chains of gold
and silver, and, by the wealthy, gold belts called kachchapuram are
worn. Anklets were not worn in former times, but at the present day
the kolusu and padasaram of the Tamilians have been adopted. So,
too, the time-honoured toda is sometimes set aside in favour of the
Tamil kammal, an ornament of much smaller size. Canter Visscher (who
was Chaplain at Cochin in the eighteenth century) must have been
much struck by the expenditure of the Nayar women on their dress,
for he wrote [164] 'there is not one of any fortune who does not own
as many as twenty or thirty chests full of robes made of silver and
other valuable materials, for it would be a disgrace in their case
to wear the same dress two or three days in succession'."

It is noted by Mr. Fawcett that "the Venetian sequin, which probably
first found its way to Malabar in the days of Vasco da Gama and
Albuquerque, is one of those coins which, having found favour with
a people, is used persistently in ornamentation long after it has
passed out of currency. So fond are the Malayalis of the sequin that
to this day there is quite a large trade in imitations of the coin for
purposes of ornament. Such is the persistence of its use that the trade
extends to brass and even copper imitation of the sequins. The former
are often seen to bear the legend 'Made in Austria.' The Nayars wear
none but the gold sequins. The brass imitations are worn by the women
of the inferior races. If one asks the ordinary Malayali, say a Nayar,
what persons are represented on the sequin, one gets for answer that
they are Rama and Sita; between them a cocoanut tree."

In connection with the wearing of charms by Nayars Mr. Fawcett
writes as follows. "One individual (a Kiriattil Nayar) wore two
rings made of an amalgamation of gold and copper, called tambak,
on the ring finger of the right hand for good luck. Tambak rings
are lucky rings. It is a good thing to wash the face with the hand,
on which is a tambak ring. Another wore two rings of the pattern
called triloham (lit. metals) on the ring finger of each hand. Each
of these was made during an eclipse. Yet another wore a silver ring
as a vow, which was to be given up at the next festival at Kottiur,
a famous festival in North Malabar. The right nostril of a Sudra
Nayar was slit vertically as if for the insertion of a jewel. His
mother miscarried in her first pregnancy, so, according to custom,
he, the child of her second pregnancy, had his nose slit. Another
wore a silver bangle. He had a wound in his arm which was long in
healing, so he made a vow to the god at Tirupati (in the North Arcot
district), that, if his arm was healed, he would give up the bangle
at the Tirupati temple. He intended to send the bangle there by a
messenger. An Akattu Charna Nayar wore an amulet to keep off the
spirit of a Brahman who died by drowning. Another had a silver ring,
on which a piece of a bristle from an elephant's tail was arranged."

Tattooing is said by Mr. Subramani Aiyar not to be favoured by North
Travancore Nayars, and to be only practiced by Nayar women living
to the south of Quilon. Certain accounts trace it to the invasion
of Travancore by a Moghul Sirdar in 1680 A.D. In modern times it has
become rare. The operation is performed by women of the Odda or Kurava
caste before a girl reaches the twelfth year.

Concerning the religious worship of the Nayars, Mr. Subramani Aiyar
writes that "Buchanan notes that the proper deity of the Nayars is
Vishnu, though they wear the mark of Siva on their foreheads. By
this is merely meant that they pay equal reverence to both Siva and
Vishnu, being Smartas converted to the tenets of Sankaracharya. Besides
worshipping the higher Hindu deities, the Nayars also manifest their
adoration for several minor ones, such as Matan, Utayam, Yakshi,
Chattan, Chantakarnan, Murti, Maruta, and Arukula. Most of these have
granite representations, or at least such emblems as a sword or a cane,
and are provided with a local habitation. Besides these, persons who
have met with accidental death, and girls who have died before their
tali-tying ceremony, are specially worshipped under the designations
of Kazhichchavu and Kannichchavu. Magicians are held in some fear,
and talismanic amulets are attached to the waist by members of both
sexes. Kuttichattan, the mischievous imp of Malabar, is supposed to
cause much misery. Various spirits are worshipped on the Tiruvonam
day in the month of Avani (August-September), on the Uchcharam or
28th day of Makarom (January-February), and on some Tuesdays and
Fridays. Kolam-tullal, Velan-pravarti, Ayiramaniyam-tullel, Chavuttu,
Tila-homam, and a host of other ceremonies are performed with a view
to propitiate spirits, and the assistance of the Kaniyans and Velans
is largely sought. Serpents, too, whose images are located on the
north-western side of most gardens in Central and North Travancore,
receive a large share of adoration. The sun is an object of universal
worship. Though the Gayatri cannot be studied, or the Sandhyavandanam
of the Brahmans performed, an offering of water to the sun after
a bath, to the accompaniment of some hymn, is made by almost every
pious Nayar. The Panchakshara is learnt from an Ilayatu, and repeated
daily. A large portion of the time of an old Nayar is spent in reading
the Ramayana, Bhagavata and Mahabharata, rendered into Malayalam by
Tunchattu Ezhuttachhan, the greatest poet of the Malabar coast. Many
places in Travancore are pointed out as the scene of memorable
incidents in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are many temples,
tanks, and mountains connected with Rama's march to the capital of
Ravana. Equally important are the singular feats said to have been
performed by the five Pandavas during the time of their wanderings
in the jungles before the battle of Kurukshetra. Bhima especially
has built temples, raised up huge mountains, and performed many
other gigantic tasks in the country. There are some village temples
owned exclusively by the Nayars, where all the karakkars (villagers)
assemble on special occasions. A very peculiar socio-religious ceremony
performed here is the kuttam. This is a village council, held at the
beginning of every month for the administration of the communal affairs
of the caste, though, at the present day, a sumptuous feast at the
cost of each villager in rotation, and partaken of by all assembled,
and a small offering to the temple, are all that remains to commemorate
it. Astrology is believed in, and some of its votaries are spoken of
as Trikalagnas, or those who know the past, present, and future. It
is due to a curse of Siva on the science of his son, who made bold by
its means to predict even the future of his father, that occasional
mistakes are said to occur in astrological calculations. Sorcery
and witchcraft are believed to be potent powers for evil. To make a
person imbecile, to paralyse his limbs, to cause him to lavish all
his wealth upon another, to make him deaf and dumb, and, if need be,
even to make an end of him, are not supposed to be beyond the powers
of the ordinary wizard. Next to wizardry and astrology, palmistry,
omens, and the lizard science are generally believed in. In the
category of good omens are placed the elephant, a pot full of water,
sweetmeats, fruit, fish and flesh, images of gods, kings, a cow with
its calf, married women, tied bullocks, gold lamps, ghee, milk, and
so on. Under the head of bad omens come the donkey, a broom, buffalo,
untied bullock, barber, widow, patient, cat, washerman, etc. The worst
of all omens is beyond question to allow a cat to cross one's path. An
odd number of Nayars, and an even number of Brahmans, are good omens,
the reverse being particularly bad. On the Vinayaka-chaturthi day in
the month of Avani, no man is permitted to look at the rising moon
under penalty of incurring unmerited obloquy.

"The chief religious festival of the Nayars is Onam, which takes
place in the last week of August, or first week of September. It is
a time of rejoicing and merriment. Father Paulinus, writing in the
latter half of the eighteenth century, observes that about the tenth
September the rain ceases in Malabar. All nature seems then as if
renovated; the flowers again shoot up, and the trees bloom. In a word,
this season is the same as that which Europeans call spring. The Onam
festival is said, therefore, to have been instituted for the purpose
of soliciting from the gods a happy and fruitful year. It continues
for eight days, and during that time the Indians are accustomed to
adorn their houses with flowers, and to daub them over with cow-dung,
because the cow is a sacred animal, dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi,
the Ceres of India. On this occasion they also put on new clothes,
throw away all their old earthenware and replace it by new. Onam is,
according to some, the annual celebration of the Malabar new year,
which first began with Cheraman Perumal's departure for Mecca. But,
with the majority of orthodox Hindus, it is the day of the annual visit
of Mahabali to his country, which he used to govern so wisely and well
before his overthrow. There is also a belief that it is Maha-Vishnu
who, on Onam day, pays a visit to this mundane universe, for the just
and proper maintenance of which he is specially responsible. In some
North Malabar title-deeds and horoscopes, Mr. Logan says, the year is
taken as ending with the day previous to Onam. This fact, he notes, is
quite reconcilable with the other explanation, which alleges that the
commencement of the era coincides with Perumal's departure for Arabia,
if it is assumed, as is not improbable, that the day on which he sailed
was Thiruvonam day, on which acknowledgment of fealty should have
been made. Onam, it may be observed, is a contraction of Thiruvonam
which is the asterism of the second day of the festival. Throughout
the festival, boys from five to fifteen years of age go out early
in the morning to gather flowers, of which the kadali is the most
important. On their return, they sit in front of the tulasi (sacred
basil) mandapam, make a carpet-like bed of the blossoms which they have
collected, and place a clay image of Ganapati in the centre. A writer
in the Calcutta Review [165] describes how having set out at dawn to
gather blossoms, the children return with their beautiful spoils by 9
or 10 A.M., and then the daily decoration begins. The chief decoration
consists of a carpet made out of the gathered blossoms, the smaller
ones being used in their entirety, while the large flowers, and one
or two varieties of foliage of different tints, are pinched up into
little pieces to serve the decorator's purpose. This flower carpet is
invariably in the centre of the clean strip of yard in front of the
neat house. Often it is a beautiful work of art, accomplished with a
delicate touch and a highly artistic sense of tone and blending. The
carpet completed, a miniature pandal (booth), hung with little
festoons, is erected over it, and at all hours of the day neighbours
look in, to admire and criticise the beautiful handiwork."

"Various field sports, of which foot-ball is the chief, are indulged
in during the Onam festival. To quote Paulinus once more, the men,
particularly those who are young, form themselves into parties,
and shoot at each other with arrows. These arrows are blunted,
but exceedingly strong, and are discharged with such force that a
considerable number are generally wounded on both sides. These games
have a great likeness to the Ceralia and Juvenalia of the ancient
Greeks and Romans."

In connection with bows and arrows, Mr. Fawcett writes that "I once
witnessed a very interesting game called eitu (eiththu), played by
the Nayars in the southern portion of Kurumbranad during the ten days
preceding Onam. There is a semi-circular stop-butt, about two feet
in the highest part, the centre, and sloping to the ground at each
side. The players stand 25 to 30 yards before the concave side of it,
one side of the players to the right, the other to the left. There
is no restriction of numbers as to sides. Each player is armed with
a little bow made of bamboo, about 18 inches in length, and arrows,
or what answer for arrows, these being no more than pieces of the
midrib of the cocoanut palm leaf, roughly broken off, leaving a little
bit of the end to take the place of the feather. In the centre of
the stop-butt, on the ground, is placed the target, a piece of the
heart of the plantain tree, about 3 inches in diameter, pointed at
the top, in which is stuck a small stick convenient for lifting the
cheppu, as the mark which is the immediate objective of the players
is called. They shoot indiscriminately at the mark, and he who hits
it (the little arrows shoot straight, and stick in readily) carries
off all the arrows lying on the ground. Each side strives to secure
all the arrows, and to deprive the other side of theirs--a sort of
'beggar my neighbour.' He who hits the mark last takes all the arrows;
that is, he who hits it, and runs and touches the mark before any one
else hits it. As I stood watching, it happened several times that as
many as four arrows hit the mark, while the youth who had hit first
was running the 25 yards to touch the cheppu. Before he could touch it,
as many as four other arrows had struck it, and, of course, he who hit
it last and touched the mark secured all the arrows for his side. The
game is accompanied by much shouting, gesticulation and laughter. Those
returning, after securing a large number of arrows, turned somersaults,
and expressed their joy in saltatory motions." In a note on this game
with bows and arrows in Kurumbranad, Mr. E. F. Thomas writes that
"the players themselves into two sides, which shoot alternately at the
mark. Beside the mark stand representatives of the two sides. When
the mark is hit by a member of either side, on his representative
shouting 'Run, man,' he runs up the lists. His object is to seize
the mark before it is hit by any one belonging to the other side. If
he can do this, his side takes all the arrows which have been shot,
and are sticking in the stop-butt. If, on the other hand, the mark
is hit by the other side before he reaches it, he may not seize the
mark. A member of the other side runs up in his turn to seize the
mark if possible before it is hit again by the first side. If he can
do this, he takes out, not all the arrows, but only the two which are
sticking in the mark. If, while number two is running, the mark is hit
a third time, a member of the first side runs up, to seize the mark
if possible. The rule is that one or three hits take all the arrows in
the stop-butt, two or four only the arrows sticking in the mark. Great
excitement is shown by all who take part in the game, which attracts
a number of spectators. The game is played every fortnight by Nayars,
Tiyans, Mappillas, and others. I am told that it is a very old one,
and is dying out. I saw it at Naduvanur."

The Onam games in the south-east of Malabar, in the neighbourhood
of Palghat, are said by Mr. Fawcett to be of a rough character,
"the tenants of certain jenmis (landlords) turning out each under
their own leader, and engaging in sham fights, in which there is much
rough play. Here, too, is to be seen a kind of boxing, which would
seem to be a relic of the days of the Roman pugiles using the cestus
in combat. The position taken up by the combatants is much the same
as that of the pugiles. The Romans were familiar with Malabar from
about 30 B.C. to the decline of their power. [166] We may safely
assume that the 3,000 lbs. of pepper, which Alaric demanded as part
of the ransom of Rome when he besieged the city in the fifth century,
came from Malabar." Swinging on the uzhinjal, and dancing to the
accompaniment of merry songs, are said to be characteristic amusements
of the womankind during Onam festival, and, on the Patinaram Makam,
or sixteenth day after Thiruvonam. This amusement is indulged in
by both sexes. It is noted by Mr. Fawcett that "the cloths given as
Onam presents are yellow, or some part of them, is yellow. There must
be at least a yellow stripe or a small patch of yellow in a corner,
which suggests a relic of sun-worship in a form more pronounced than
that which obtains at present. It is a harvest festival, about the
time when the first crop of paddy (rice) is harvested."

Concerning another important festival in Malabar, the Thiruvathira,
Mr. T. K. Gopal Panikkar writes as follows. [167] "Thiruvathira is
one of the three great national occasions of Malabar. It generally
comes off in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December or January) on
the day called the Thiruvathira day. It is essentially a festival
in which females are almost exclusively concerned, and lasts for
but a single day. The popular conception of it is that it is in
commemoration of the death of Kamadevan, the Cupid of our national
mythology. As recorded in the old Puranas, Kamadevan was destroyed in
the burning fire of the third eye of Siva, one of the chief members of
our divine Trinity. Hence he is now supposed to have only an ideal or
rather spiritual existence, and thus he exerts a powerful influence
upon the lower passions of human nature. The memory of this unhappy
tragedy is still kept alive among us, particularly the female section,
by means of the annual celebration of this important festival. About
a week before the day, the festival practically opens. At about four
in the morning, every young female of Nair families with pretensions
to decency gets out of bed, and takes her bath in a tank. Usually
a fairly large number of these young ladies collect at the tank for
the purpose. Then all, or almost all of them, plunge in the water,
and begin to take part in the singing that is presently to follow. One
of them then leads off by means of a peculiar rhythmic song, chiefly
pertaining to Cupid. This singing is simultaneously accompanied by
a curious sound produced with her hand on the water. The palm of the
left hand is closed, and kept immediately underneath the surface of
the water. Then the palm of the other is forcibly brought down in a
slanting direction, and struck against its surface, so that the water
is completely ruffled, and is splashed in all directions, producing a
loud deep noise. This process is continuously prolonged, together with
the singing. One stanza is now over along with the sound, and then
the leader stops awhile for the others to follow in her wake. This
being likewise over, she caps her first stanza with another, at the
same time beating on the water, and so on until the conclusion of
the song. All of them make a long pause, and then begin another. The
process goes on until the peep of dawn, when they rub themselves
dry, and come home to dress themselves in the neatest and grandest
possible attire. They also darken the fringes of their eyelids with
a sticky preparation of soot mixed up with a little oil or ghee, and
sometimes with a superficial coating of antimony powder. They also wear
white, black, or red marks down the middle of their foreheads. They
also chew betel, and thus redden their mouths and lips. They then
proceed to the enjoyment of another prominent item of pleasure,
viz., swinging to and fro on what is usually known as an uzhinjal,
or swing made of bamboo. On the festival day, after the morning bath
is over, they take a light meal, and in the noon the family dinner is
voraciously attacked, the essential and almost universal ingredients
being ordinary ripe plantain fruits, and a delicious preparation of
arrowroot powder purified and mixed with jaggery (crude sugar) or
sugar, and also cocoanut. Then, till evening, dancing and merry-making
are ceaselessly indulged in. The husband population are inexcusably
required to be present in the wives' houses before evening, as they
are bound to do on the Onam and Vishu occasions. Failure to do this
is looked upon as a step, or rather the first step, on the part of
the defaulting husband towards a final separation or divorce from the
wife. Despite the rigour of the bleak December season during which
the festival commonly falls, heightened inevitably by the constant
blowing of the cold east wind upon their moistened frames, these
lusty maidens derive considerable pleasure from their early baths,
and their frolics in the water. The biting cold of the season, which
makes their persons shiver and quiver, becomes to them in the midst of
all their ecstatic frolics an additional source of pleasure. The two
items described above, viz., the swinging and beating of the water,
have each their own distinctive significance. The former typifies
the attempt which these maidens make in order to hang themselves
on these instruments, and destroy their lives in consequence of the
lamented demise of their sexual deity Kamadevan. The beating on the
water symbolises their beating their chests in expression of their
deep-felt sorrow caused by their Cupid's death."

Yet another important festival, Vishu, is thus described by Mr. Gopal
Panikkar. "Vishu, like the Onam and Thiruvathira festivals, is a
remarkable event among us. Its duration is limited to one day. The
1st of Metam (some day in April) is the unchangeable day, on which it
falls. It is practically the astronomical new year's day. This was one
of the periods when, in olden days, the subjects of ruling princes or
authorities in Malabar, under whom their lots were cast, were expected
to bring their new year's offerings to such princes. Failure to comply
with the customary and time-consecrated demands was visited with royal
displeasure, resulting in manifold varieties of oppression. The British
Government, finding this was a great burden, pressing rather heavily
upon the people, obtained as far back as 1790 a binding promise from
those Native Princes that such exactions of presents from the people
should be discontinued thereafter. Consequently the festival is now
shorn of much of its ancient sanctity and splendour. But suggestive
survivals of the same are still to be found in the presents, which
tenants and dependents bring to leading families on the day previous to
the Vishu. Being the commencement of a new year, native superstition
surrounds it with a peculiar solemn importance. It is believed that a
man's whole prosperity in life, depends upon the nature, auspicious
or otherwise, of the first things that he happens to fix his eyes
upon on this particular morning. According to Nair, and even general
Hindu mythology, there are certain objects which possess an inherent
inauspicious character. For instance, ashes, firewood, oil, and a lot
of similar objects are inauspicious ones, which will render him who
chances to notice them first fare badly in life for the whole year, and
their obnoxious effects will be removed only on his seeing holy things,
such as reigning princes, oxen, cows, gold, and such like, on the
morning of the next new year. The effects of the sight of these various
materials are said to apply even to the attainment of objects by a man
starting on a special errand, who happens for the first time to look
at them after starting. However, with this view, almost every family
religiously takes care to prepare the most sightworthy objects on the
new year morning. Therefore, on the previous night they prepare what
is known as a kani. A small circular bell-metal vessel is taken, and
some holy objects are systematically arranged inside it. A grandha or
old book made of palmyra leaves, a gold ornament, a new-washed cloth,
some 'unprofitably gay' flowers of the konna tree (Cassia Fistula),
a measure of rice, a so-called looking-glass made of bell-metal,
and a few other things, are all tastefully arranged in the vessel,
and placed in a prominent room inside the house. On either side of
this vessel two brass or bell-metal lamps, filled with cocoanut oil
clear as diamond sparks, are kept burning, and a small plank of wood,
or some other seat, is placed in front of it. At about 5 o'clock in the
morning of the day, some one who has got up first wakes up the inmates,
both male and female, of the house, and takes them blindfolded, so that
they may not gaze at anything else, to the seat near the kani. The
members are seated, one after another, in the seat, and are then,
and not till then, asked to open their eyes, and carefully look at
the kani. Then each is made to look at some venerable member of the
house, or sometimes a stranger even. This over, the little playful
urchins of the house begin to fire small crackers, which they have
bought and stored for the occasion. The kani is then taken round the
place from house to house for the benefit of the poor families, which
cannot afford to prepare such a costly adornment. With the close of
the noise of the crackers, the morning breaks, and preparations are
begun for the morning meal. This meal is in some parts confined to
rice kanji (gruel) with a grand appendage of other eatable substances,
and in others to ordinary rice and its accompaniments, but in either
case on a grand scale. Immediately the day dawns, the heads of the
families give to almost all the junior members and servants of the
household, and to wives and children, money presents to serve as
their pocket-money. In the more numerically large families, similar
presents are also made by the heads of particular branches of the same
family to their juniors, children, wives and servants. One other item
connected with the festival deserves mention. On the evening of the
previous day, about four or five o'clock, most well-to-do families
distribute paddy or rice, as the case may be, in varying quantities,
and some other accessories to the family workmen, whether they live
on the family estates or not. In return for this, these labourers
bring with them for presentation the fruits of their own labours,
such as vegetables of divers sorts, cocoanut oil, jaggery, plantains,
pumpkins, cucumbers, brinjals (fruit of Solanum Melongena), etc.,
according as their respective circumstances permit. With the close of
the midday meal the festival practically concludes. In some families,
after the meal is over, dancing and games of various kinds are carried
on, which contribute to the enhancement of the pleasantries incidental
to the festival. As on other prominent occasions, card-playing and
other games are also resorted to."

On the subject of religion, Mr. Fawcett writes as follows. "No Nayar,
unless one utterly degraded by the exigencies of a Government office,
would eat his food without having bathed and changed his cloth. It
is a rule seldom broken that every Nayar goes to the temple to pray
at least once a day after having bathed: generally twice a day. The
mere approach anywhere near his vicinity of a Cheruman, a Pulayan,
or any inferior being, even a Tiyan, as he walks to his house from
the temple, cleansed in body and mind, his marks newly set on his
forehead with sandal-wood paste, is pollution, and he must turn and
bathe again ere he can enter his house and eat. Buchanan tells us
that in his time, about a century ago, the man of inferior caste thus
approaching a Nayar would be cut down instantly with a sword; there
would be no words. Now that the people of India are inconvenienced
with an Arms Act which inhibits sword play of this kind, and with a
law system under which high and low are rated alike, the Nayar has
to content himself with an imperious grunt-like shout for the way to
be cleared for him as he stalks on imperturbed. His arrogance is not
diminished, but he cannot now show it in quite the same way.

"I will attempt a description of the ceremonial observed at the Pishari
kavu--the Pishari temple near Quilandy on the coast 15 miles north of
Calicut, where Bhagavati is supposed in vague legend to have slain an
Asura or gigantic ogre, in commemoration of which event the festival
is held yearly to Bhagavati and her followers. The festival lasts for
seven days. When I visited it in 1895, the last day was on the 31st of
March. Before daybreak of the first day, the ordinary temple priest,
a Mussad, will leave the temple after having swept it and made it
clean; and (also before daybreak) five Nambutiris will enter it,
bearing with them sudhi kalasam. The kalasam is on this occasion
made of the five products of the cow (panchagavyam), together with
some water, a few leaves of the banyan tree, and darbha grass, all
in one vessel. Before being brought to the temple, mantrams or magic
verses will have been said over it. The contents of the vessel are
sprinkled all about the temple, and a little is put in the well,
thus purifying the temple and the well. The Nambutiris will then
perform the usual morning worship, and, either immediately after it or
very soon afterwards, they leave the temple, and the Mussad returns
and resumes his office. The temple belongs to four taravads, and no
sooner has it been purified than the Karanavans of these four taravads,
virtually the joint-owners of the temple (known as Uralas) present to
the temple servant (Pisharodi) the silver flag of the temple, which
has been in the custody of one of them since the last festival. The
Pisharodi receives it, and hoists it in front of the temple (to the
east), thus signifying that the festival has begun. While this is
being done, emphasis and grandeur is given to the occasion by the
firing off of miniature mortars such as are common at all South Indian
festivals. After the flag is hoisted, there are hoisted all round the
temple small flags of coloured cloth. For the next few days there is
nothing particular to be done beyond the procession morning, noon,
and night; the image of Bhagavati being carried on an elephant to an
orchestra of drums, and cannonade of the little mortars. All those
who are present are supposed to be fed from the temple. There is a
large crowd. On the morning of the fifth day, a man of the washerman
(Vannan) caste will announce to the neighbours by beat of tom-tom
that there will be a procession of Bhagavati issuing from the gates
of the temple, and passing round about. Like all those who are in
any way connected with the temple, this man's office is hereditary,
and he lives to a small extent on the bounty of the temple, i.e.,
he holds a little land on nominal terms from the temple property,
in consideration for which he must fulfil certain requirements for
the temple, as on occasions of festivals. His office also invests
him with certain rights in the community. In the afternoon of the
fifth day, the Vannan and a Manutan, the one following the other,
bring two umbrellas to the temple; the former bringing one of cloth,
and the latter one of cadjan (palm leaves). I am not sure whether the
cloth umbrella has been in the possession of the Vannan, but think it
has. At all events, when he brings it to the temple, it is in thorough
repair--a condition for which he is responsible. The cadjan umbrella
is a new one. Following these two as they walk solemnly, each with
his umbrella, is a large crowd. There are processions of Bhagavati on
the elephant encircling the temple thrice in the morning, at noon,
and at night. Early on the sixth day, the headman of the Mukkuvans
(fishermen), who by virtue of his headship is called the Arayan,
together with the blacksmith and the goldsmith, comes to the temple
followed by a crowd, but accompanied by no orchestra of drums. To the
Arayan is given half a sack of rice for himself and his followers. A
silver umbrella belonging to the temple is handed over to him, to
be used when he comes to the temple again in the evening. To the
blacksmith is given the temple sword. The goldsmith receives the
silver umbrella from the Arayan, and executes any repairs that may be
needful, and, in like manner, the blacksmith looks to the sword. In
the afternoon, the headman of the Tiyans, called the Tandan, comes to
the temple followed by two of his castemen carrying slung on a pole
over their shoulders three bunches of young cocoanuts--an appropriate
offering, the Tiyans being those whose ordinary profession is climbing
the cocoanut palm, drawing the toddy, securing the cocoanuts, etc. This
time there will be loud drumming, and a large crowd with the Tandan,
and in front of him are men dancing, imitating sword play with sticks
and shields, clanging the shields, pulling at bows as if firing off
imaginary arrows, the while shouting and yelling madly. Then come the
blacksmith and the goldsmith with the sword. Following comes the Arayan
with the silver umbrella to the accompaniment of very noisy drumming,
in great state under a canopy of red cloth held lengthways by two men,
one before, the other behind. The procession of Bhagavati continues
throughout the night, and ceases at daybreak. These six days of the
festival are called Vilakku. A word about the drumming. The number of
instrumentalists increases as the festival goes on, and on the last
day I counted fifty, all Nayars. The instruments were the ordinary
tom-tom, a skin stretched tight over one side of a circular wooden
band, about 1 1/2 feet in diameter and 2 or 3 inches in width, and
the common long drum much narrower at the ends than in the middle;
and there were (I think) a few of those narrow in the middle, something
like an hour-glass cut short at both ends. They are beaten with carved
drum-sticks, thicker at the end held in the hand. The accuracy with
which they were played on, never a wrong note although the rhythm
was changed perpetually, was truly amazing. And the crescendo and
diminuendo, from a perfect fury of wildness to the gentlest pianissimo,
was equally astonishing, especially when we consider the fact that
there was no visible leader of this strange orchestra. Early on the
seventh and last day, when the morning procession is over, there
comes to the temple a man of the Panan caste (umbrella-makers and
devil-dancers). He carries a small cadjan umbrella which he has made
himself, adorned all round the edges with a fringe of the young leaves
of the cocoanut palm. His approach is heralded and noised just as in
the case of the others on the previous day. The umbrella should have
a long handle, and, with it in his hand, he performs a dance before
the temple. The temple is situated within a hollow square enclosure,
which none in caste below the Nayar is permitted to enter. To the
north, south, east, and west, there is a level entrance into the hollow
square, and beyond this entrance no man of inferior caste may go. The
Panan receives about 10 lbs. of raw rice for his performance. In the
afternoon, a small crowd of Vettuvars come to the temple, carrying with
them swords, and about ten small baskets made of cocoanut palm leaves,
containing salt. These baskets are carried slung on a pole. The use of
salt here is obscure. [168] I remember a case of a Nayar's house having
been plundered, the idol knocked down, and salt put in the place where
it should have stood. The act was looked on as most insulting. The
Vettuvans dance and shout in much excitement, cutting their heads with
their own swords in their frenzy. Some of them represent devils or some
kind of inferior evil spirits, and dance madly under the influence
of the spirits which they represent. Then comes the Arayan as on
the previous day with his little procession, and lastly comes the
blacksmith with the sword. The procession in the evening is a great
affair. Eight elephants, which kept line beautifully, took part in it
when I witnessed it. One of them, very handsomely caparisoned, had on
its back a priest (Mussad) carrying a sword smothered in garlands of
red flowers representing the goddess. The elephant bearing the priest
is bedizened on the forehead with two golden discs, one on each side
of the forehead, and over the centre of the forehead hangs a long
golden ornament. These discs on the elephant's forehead are common
in Malabar in affairs of ceremony. The Mappilla poets are very fond
of comparing a beautiful girl's breasts to these cup-like discs. The
elephant bears other jewels, and over his back is a large canopy-like
red cloth richly wrought. Before the elephant walked a Nayar carrying
in his right hand in front of him a sword of the kind called nandakam
smeared with white (probably sandal) paste. To its edge, at intervals
of a few inches, are fastened tiny bells, so that, when it is shaken,
there is a general jingle. Just before the procession begins, there
is something for the Tiyans to do. Four men of this caste having with
them pukalasams (flower kalasams), and five having jannakalasams,
run along the west, north, and east sides of the temple outside
the enclosure, shouting and making a noise more like the barking
of dogs than anything else. The kalasams contain arrack (liquor),
which is given to the temple to be used in the ceremonies. Members
of certain families only are allowed to perform in this business,
and for what they do each man receives five edangalis of rice from the
temple, and a small piece of the flesh of the goat which is sacrificed
later. These nine men eat only once a day during the festival; they
do no work, remaining quietly at home unless when at the temple; they
cannot approach any one of caste lower than their own; they cannot
cohabit with women; and they cannot see a woman in menstruation
during these days. A crowd of Tiyans join more or less in this,
rushing about and barking like dogs, making a hideous noise. They
too have kalasams, and, when they are tired of rushing and barking,
they drink the arrack in them. These men are always under a vow. In
doing what they do, they fulfil their vow for the benefit they have
already received from the goddess--cure from sickness as a rule. To
the west of the temple is a circular pit--it was called the fire-pit,
but there was no fire in it--and this pit all the Tiyan women of
the neighbourhood circumambulate, passing from west round by north,
three times, holding on the head a pewter plate, on which are a little
rice, bits of plantain leaves and cocoanut, and a burning wick. As
each woman completes her third round, she stands for a moment at the
western side, facing east, and throws the contents of the plate into
the pit. She then goes to the western gate of the enclosure, and puts
down her plate for an instant while she makes profound salaam to the
goddess ere going away. Now the procession starts out from the temple,
issuing from the northern gate, and for a moment confronts a being so
strange that he demands description. Of the many familiar demons of
the Malayalis, the two most intimate are Kuttichchattan and Gulikan,
who are supposed to have assisted Kali (who is scarcely the Kali of
Brahmanism) in overcoming the Asura, and on the occasion of this
festival these demons dance before her. Gulikan is represented by
the Vannan and Kuttichchattan by the Manutan who have been already
mentioned, and who are under like restrictions with the nine Tiyans. I
saw poor Gulikan being made up, the operation occupying five or six
hours or more before his appearance. I asked who he was, and was told
he was a devil. He looked mild enough, but then his make-up had just
begun. He was lying flat on the ground close by the north-east entrance
of the enclosure, where presently he was to dance, a man painting
his face to make it hideous and frightful. This done, the hair was
dressed; large bangles were put on his arms, covering them almost
completely from the shoulder to the wrist; and his head and neck were
swathed and decorated. A wooden platform arrangement, from which hung
a red ornamented skirt, was fastened to his hips. There was fastened
to his back an elongated Prince of Wales' feathers arrangement, the
top of which reached five feet above his head, and he was made to
look like nothing human. Kuttichchattan was treated in much the same
manner. As the procession issues from the northern gate of the temple,
where it is joined by the elephants, Gulikan stands in the northern
entrance of the enclosure (which he cannot enter), facing it, and a
halt is made for three minutes, while Gulikan dances. The poor old
man who represented this fearful being, grotesquely terrible in his
wonderful metamorphosis, must have been extremely glad when his dance
was concluded, for the mere weight and uncomfortable arrangement of
his paraphernalia must have been extremely exhausting. It was with
difficulty that he could move at all, let alone dance. The. procession
passes round by east, where, at the entrance of the enclosure,
Kuttichchattan gives his dance, round by south to the westward, and,
leaving the enclosure, proceeds to a certain banyan tree, under which
is a high raised platform built up with earth and stones. Preceding
the procession at a distance of fifty yards are the nine men of the
Tiyan caste mentioned already, carrying kalasams on their heads,
and a crowd of women of the same caste, each one carrying a pewter
plate, larger than the plates used when encircling the fire pit,
on which are rice, etc., and the burning wick as before. The plate
and its contents are on this occasion, as well as before, called
talapoli. I could not make out that anything in particular is done
at the banyan tree, and the procession soon returns to the temple,
the nine men and the Tiyan women following, carrying their kalasams
and talapoli. On the way, a number of cocks are given in sacrifice by
people under a vow. In the procession are a number of devil-dancers,
garlanded with white flowers of the pagoda tree mixed with red,
jumping, gesticulating, and shouting, in an avenue of the crowd in
front of the elephant bearing the sword. The person under a vow holds
the cock towards one of these devil-dancers, who, never ceasing his
gyrations and contortions, presently seizes its head, wrings it off,
and flings it high in the air. The vows which are fulfilled by this
rude decapitation of cocks have been made in order to bring about cure
for some ailment. The procession passes through the temple yard from
west to east, and proceeds half a mile to a banyan tree, under which,
like the other, there is a high raised platform. When passing by the
temple, the Tiyan women empty the contents of their plates in the fire
pit as before, and the nine men hand over the arrack in their kalasams
to the temple servants. Let me note here the curious distribution of
the rice which is heaped in the fire pit. Two-thirds of it go to the
four Tiyans who carried the pukalasams, and one-third to the five who
carried the jannakalasams. Returning to the procession, we find it
at the raised platform to the east of the temple. On this platform
have been placed already an ordinary bamboo quart-like measure of
paddy (unhusked rice), and one of rice, each covered with a plantain
leaf. The principal devil-dancer takes a handful of rice and paddy,
and flings it all around. The procession then visits in turn the
gates of the gardens of the four owners of the temple. At each is a
measure of rice and a measure of paddy covered with plantain leaves,
with a small lamp or burning wick beside them, and the devil-dancer
throws a handful towards the house. The procession then finds its
way to a tree to the west, under which, on the platform, is now a
measure of paddy and a lamp. Some Brahmans repeat mantrams, and the
elephant, the priest on his back and the sword in his hand, all three
are supposed to tremble violently. Up to this time the procession
has moved leisurely at a very slow march. Now, starting suddenly, it
proceeds at a run to the temple, where the priest descends quickly from
the elephant, and is taken inside the temple by the Mussad priests. He,
who has been carrying the sword all this time, places it on the sill of
the door of the room in which it is kept for worship, and prostrates
before it. The sword then shakes itself for fifteen minutes, until
the chief priest stays its agitation by sprinkling on it some tirtam
fluid made sacred by having been used for anointing the image of the
goddess. This done, the chief amongst the devil-dancers will, with
much internal tumult as well as outward convolutions, say in the way
of oracle whether the devi has been pleased with the festival in her
honour, or not. As he pronounces this oracular utterance, he falls in
a sort of swoon, and everyone, excepting only the priests and temple
servants, leaves the place as quickly as possible. The sheds which
have been erected for temporary habitation around the temple will be
quickly demolished, and search will be made round about to make sure
that no one remains near while the mystic rite of sacrifice is about
to be done. When the whole place has been cleared, the four owners of
the temple, who have stayed, hand over each a goat with a rope tied
round its neck to the chief priest, and, as soon as they have done so,
they depart. There will remain now in the temple three Mussads, one
drummer (Marayar), and two temple servants. The reason for all this
secrecy seems to lie in objection to let it be known generally that
any sacrifice is done. I was told again and again that there was no
such thing. It is a mystic secret. The Mussad priests repeat mantrams
over the goats for an hour as a preliminary to the sacrifice. Then
the chief priest dons a red silk cloth, and takes in his hand a
chopper-like sword in shape something like a small bill-hook, while
the goats are taken to a certain room within the temple. This room is
rather a passage than a room, as there are to it but two walls running
north and south. The goats are made to stand in turn in the middle of
this room, facing to the south. The chief priest stands to the east of
the goat, facing west, as he cuts off its head with the chopper. He
never ceases his mantrams, and the goats never flinch--the effect
of the mantrams. Several cocks are then sacrificed in the same place,
and over the carcasses of goats and cocks there is sprinkled charcoal
powder mixed in water (karutta gurusi) and saffron (turmeric) powder
and lime-water (chukanna gurusi), the flow of mantrams never ceasing
the while. The Mussads only see the sacrifice--a part of the rite which
is supremely secret. Equally so is that which follows. The carcass
of one goat will be taken out of the temple by the northern door to
the north side of the temple, and from this place one of the temple
servants, who is blindfolded, drags it three times round the temple,
the Mussads following closely, repeating their mantrams, the drummer
in front beating his drum softly with his fingers. The drummer dare
not look behind him, and does not know what is being done. After the
third round, the drummer and the temple servant go away, and the three
Mussads cook some of the flesh of the goats and one or two of the cocks
(or a part of one) with rice. This rice, when cooked, is taken to the
kavu (grove) to the north of the temple, and there the Mussads again
ply their mantrams. As each mantram is ended, a handful of saffron
(turmeric) powder is flung on the rice, and all the time the drummer,
who by this time has returned, keeps up an obligato pianissimo with
his drum, using his fingers. He faces the north, and the priests
face the south. Presently the priests run (not walk) once round the
temple, carrying the cooked rice, and scattering it wide as they go,
repeating mantrams. They enter the temple, and remain within until
daybreak. No one can leave the temple until morning comes. Before
daybreak, the temple is thoroughly swept and cleaned, and then the
Mussads go out, and the five Nambutiris again enter before sunrise,
and perform the ordinary worship thrice in the day, for this day
only. The next morning, the Mussad priests return and resume their
duties. Beyond noting that the weirdness of the human tumult, busy in
its religious effusion, is on the last night enhanced by fireworks,
mere description of the scene of the festival will not be attempted,
and such charming adjuncts of it as the gallery of pretty Nayar women
looking on from the garden fence at the seething procession in the lane
below must be left to the imagination. It will have been noticed that
the Nambutiris hold aloof from the festival; they purify the temple
before and after, but no more. The importance attached to the various
offices of those who are attached to the temple by however slender
a thread, was illustrated by a rather amusing squabble between two
of the Mukkuvans, an uncle and nephew, as to which of them should
receive the silver umbrella from the temple, and bear it to the house
of the goldsmith to be repaired. During the festival, one of them
made a rapid journey to the Zamorin (about fifty miles distant),
paid some fees, and established himself as the senior who had the
right to carry the umbrella.

"An important local festival is that held near Palghat, in November,
in the little suburb Kalpati inhabited entirely by Pattar Brahmans from
the east. But it is not a true Malayali festival, and it suffices to
mention its existence, for it in no way represents the religion of
the Nayar. The dragging of cars, on which are placed the images of
deities, common everywhere from the temple of Jagganath at Puri in
Orissa to Cape Comorin, is quite unknown in Malabar, excepting only
at Kalpati, which is close to the eastern frontier of Malabar.

"Near Chowghat (Chavagat), about 30 miles to the southward of
Calicut, on the backwater, at a place called Guruvayur, is a very
important temple, the property of the Zamorin, yielding a very handsome
revenue. I visited the festival on one occasion, and purchase was made
of a few offerings such as are made to the temple in satisfaction
of vows--a very rude representation of an infant in silver, a hand,
a leg, an ulcer, a pair of eyes, and, most curious of all, a silver
string which represents a man, the giver. Symbolization of the
offering of self is made by a silver string as long as the giver
is tall. Goldsmiths working in silver and gold are to be seen just
outside the gate of the temple, ready to provide at a moment's notice
the object any person intends to offer, in case he is not already in
possession of his votive offering. The subject of vows can be touched
on but incidentally here. A vow is made by one desiring offspring,
to have his hand or leg cured, to have an ulcer cured, to fulfil any
desire whatsoever, and he decides in solemn affirmation to himself
to give a silver image of a child, a silver leg, and so on, in the
event of his having fulfilment of his desire.

"A true Malayali festival is that held at Kottiyur in North Malabar,
in the forest at the foot of the Wynad hills rising 3,000 to 5,000
feet from the sides of the little glade where it is situated. It
is held in July during the height of the monsoon rain. Though it
is a festival for high and low, these do not mix at Kottiyur. The
Nayars go first, and after a few days, the Nayars having done, the
Tiyans, and so on. A curious feature of it is that the people going
to attend it are distinctly rowdy, feeling that they have a right
to abuse in the vilest and filthiest terms everyone they see on the
way--perhaps a few days' march. And not only do they abuse to their
hearts' content in their exuberant excitement, but they use personal
violence to person and property all along the road. They return like
lambs. At Kottiyur one sees a temple of Isvara, there called Perumal
(or Perumal Isvara) by the people, a low thatched building forming
a hollow square, in the centre of which is the shrine, which I was
not permitted to see. There were some Nambutiri priests, who came
out, and entered into conversation. The festival is not held at the
temple, but in the forest about a quarter of a mile distant. This
spot is deemed extremely sacred and dreadful. There was, however,
no objection to myself and my companions visiting it; we were simply
begged not to go. There were with us a Nayar and a Kurichchan, and the
faces of these men, when we proceeded to wade through the little river,
knee-deep and about thirty yards wide, in order to reach the sacred
spot, expressed anxious wonder. They dared not accompany us across. No
one (excepting, of course, a Muhammadan) would go near the place,
unless during the few days of the festival, when it was safe; at all
other times any man going to the place is destroyed instantly. Nothing
on earth would have persuaded the Nayar or the Kurichchiyan to cross
that river. Orpheus proceeding to find his Eurydice, Danté about to
enter the Inferno, had not embarked on so fearful a journey. About
a hundred yards beyond the stream, we came upon the sacred spot,
a little glade in the forest. In the centre of the glade is a circle
of piled up stones, 12 feet in diameter. In the middle of the pile of
stones is a rude lingam. Running east from the circle of the lingam
is a long shed, in the middle of which is a long raised platform of
brick, used apparently as a place for cooking. Around the lingam there
were also thatched sheds, in which the people had lodged during the
festival. Pilgrims going to this festival carry with them offerings of
some kind. Tiyans take young cocoanuts. Every one who returns brings
with him a swish made of split young leaves of the cocoanut palm."

Of the Kottiyur festival, the following account is given in the
Gazetteer of Malabar. "The Nambudiri priests live in a little wayside
temple at Kottiyur, but the true shrine is a quarter of a mile away
in the forest across one of the feeder streams of the Valarpattanam
river. For eleven months in the year, the scene is inconceivably
desolate and dreary; but during the month Edavam (May-June) upwards of
50,000 Nayars and Tiyans from all parts of Malabar throng the shrine
for the twenty-eight days of the annual festival. During the rest of
the year, the temple is given up to the revels of Siva and Parvati,
and the impious Hindu who dares to intrude is consumed instantly to
ashes. The two great ceremonies are the Neyyattam and the Elanirattam,
the pouring of ghee (clarified butter) and the pouring of the milk of
the green cocoanut. The former is performed by the Nayars, who attend
the festival first, and the latter by Tiyans. In May, all roads lead to
Kottiyur, and towards the middle of the month the ghee pourers, as the
Nayar pilgrims are called, who have spent the previous four weeks in
fasting and purificatory rites, assemble in small shrines subordinate
to the Kottiyur temple. Thence, clad in white, and bearing each upon
his head a pot of ghee, they set forth in large bodies headed by a
leader. At Manattana the pilgrims from all parts of Malabar meet,
and thence to Kottiyur the procession is unbroken. However long
their journey, the pilgrims must eat only once, and the more filthy
their language, the more orthodox is their conduct. As many as five
thousand pots of ghee are poured over the lingam every year. After
the Neyyattam ceremony, the Nayars depart, and it is the turn of
the Tiyans. Their preparations are similar to those of the Nayars,
and their language en route is even more startling. Eruvatti near
Kadirur is the place where most of them assemble for their pilgrimage,
and their green cocoanuts are presented gratis by the country people
as an offering to the temple. The Elanirattam ceremony begins at
midnight, and the pilgrims heap up their cocoanuts in front of the
shrine continuously till the evening of the same day. Each Tiyan then
marches thrice round the heap, and falls prostrate before the lingam;
and a certain Nayar sub-caste removes the husks preparatory to the
spilling of the milk. The festival finally closes with a mysterious
ceremony, in which ghee and mantrams play a great part, performed
for two days consecutively by the presiding Nambudiri, and Kottiyur
is then deserted for another year."

"A shrine," Mr. Fawcett continues, "to which the Malayalis, Nayars
included, resort is that of Subramania at Palni in the north-west
corner of the Madura district about a week's march from the confines of
Malabar near Palghat. Not only are vows paid to this shrine, but men,
letting their hair grow for a year after their father's death, proceed
to have it cut there. The plate shows an ordinary Palni pilgrim. The
arrangement which he is carrying is called a kavadi. There are two
kinds of kavadi, a milk kavadi containing milk, and a fish kavadi
containing fish, in a pot. The vow may be made in respect of either,
each being appropriate to certain circumstances. When the time comes
near for the pilgrim to start for Palni, he dresses in reddish orange
cloths, shoulders his kavadi, and starts out. Together with a man
ringing a bell, and perhaps one with a tom-tom, with ashes on his face,
he assumes the rôle of a beggar. The well-to-do are inclined to reduce
the beggar period to the minimum; but a beggar every votary must be,
and as a beggar he goes to Palni in all humbleness and humiliation,
and there he fulfils his vow, leaves his kavadi and his hair, and a
small sum of money. Though the individuals about to be noticed were
not Nayars, their cases illustrate very well the religious idea of
the Nayar as expressed under certain circumstances, for between the
Nayars and these there is in this respect little if any difference. It
was at Guruvayur in November, 1895. On a high raised platform under
a peepul tree were a number of people under vows, bound for Palni. A
boy of 14 had suffered as a child from epilepsy, and seven years ago
his father vowed on his behalf that, if he were cured, he would make
the pilgrimage to Palni. He wore a string of beads round his neck,
and a like string on his right arm. These were in some way connected
with the vow. His head was bent, and he sat motionless under his
kavadi, leaning on the bar, which, when he carried it, rested on his
shoulder. He could not go to Palni until it was revealed to him in a
dream when he was to start. He had waited for this dream seven years,
subsisting on roots (yams, etc.), and milk--no rice. Now he had had
the long-looked-for dream, and was about to start. Another pilgrim
was a man wearing an oval band of silver over the lower portion of the
forehead, almost covering his eyes; his tongue protruding beyond the
teeth, and kept in position by a silver skewer through it. The skewer
was put in the day before, and was to be left in for forty days. He had
been fasting for two years. He was much under the influence of his god,
and whacking incessantly at a drum in delirious excitement. Several
of the pilgrims had a handkerchief tied over the mouth, they being
under a vow of silence. One poor man wore the regular instrument of
silence, the mouth-lock--a wide silver band over the mouth, and a
skewer piercing both cheeks. He sat patiently in a nice tent-like
affair, about three feet high. People fed him with milk, etc., and
he made no effort to procure food, relying merely on what was given
him. The use of the mouth-lock is common with the Nayars when they
assume the pilgrim's robes and set out for Palni; and I have often
seen many of them garbed and mouth-locked, going off on a pilgrimage to
that place. Pilgrims generally go in crowds under charge of a priestly
guide, one who, having made a certain number of journeys to the shrine,
wears a peculiar sash and other gear. They call themselves pujaris,
and are quite au fait with all the ceremonial prior to the journey,
as well as with the exigencies of the road. As I stood there, one
of these pujaris stood up amidst the recumbent crowd. He raised his
hands towards the temple a little to the west, and then spread out
his hands as if invoking a blessing on the people around him. Full
of religious fervour, he was (apparently at any rate) unconscious of
all but the spiritual need of his flock.

"Brief mention must be made of the festival held at Kodungallur
near Cranganore in the northernmost corner of the Cochin State,
as it possesses some strange features peculiar to Malabar, and is
much frequented by the Nayars. I have been disappointed in obtaining
particulars of the festival, so make the following excerpt from
Logan's Manual of Malabar. 'It takes the people in great crowds from
their homes. The whole country near the lines of march rings with the
shouts "Nada-a Nada-a" of the pilgrims to the favourite shrine. Of
what takes place when the pilgrims reach this spot perhaps the less
said the better. In their passage up to the shrine, the cry of "Nada-a
Nada-a" (march, march away) is varied by terms of unmeasured abuse
levelled at the goddess (a Bhagavati) of the shrine. This abusive
language is supposed to be acceptable to her. On arrival at the
shrine, they desecrate it in every conceivable way, believing that
this too is acceptable; they throw stones and filth, howling volleys
of opprobrium at her house. The chief of the fisherman caste, styled
Kuli Muttatta Arayan, has the privilege of being the first to begin
the work of polluting the Bhoot or shrine. Into other particulars it
is unnecessary to enter. Cocks are slaughtered and sacrificed. The
worshipper gets flowers only, and no holy water after paying his
vows. Instead of water, he proceeds outside and drinks arrack or
toddy, which an attendant Nayar serves out. All castes are free to
go, including Tiyars and low caste people. The temple was originally
only a Bhoot or holy tree with a platform. The image in the temple
is said to have been introduced only of recent years.' It is a pity
Mr. Logan is so reticent. My information is that the headman of the
Mukkuvans opens the festival by solemnly making a fæcal deposit on
the image. Here again there is the same strange union of everything
that is filthy, abusive, foul and irreverent, with every mode of
expressing the deepest religious feeling."

Of the cock festival at Cranganore, the following, account is given
by Mr. T. K. Gopal Panikkar [169] in his interesting little book on
Malabar and its folk. "In the midst of its native charms is situated a
temple dedicated to Kali, the goddess who presides over the infectious
diseases, cholera and small-pox. She is a virgin goddess, whom no
quantity of blood will satisfy. The temple is an old-fashioned one,
presenting no striking architectural peculiarities. The priestly
classes attached to it are not, as usual, Brahmins, but a peculiar sect
called Adigals, of whom there are but three families in the whole of
Malabar. The Brahmins are purposely excluded from participation in
the poojah ceremonies, lest their extreme sanctity might increase
the powers of the goddess to a dangerous extent. Poojahs are daily
offered to her. An annual festival known as Bharani, connected with
this goddess, plays a most important part in the religious history of
Malabar. It comes off in the Malayalam month of Meenam (about March
or April). Pilgrimages undertaken to the temple on this occasion
are potent enough to safeguard the pilgrims, and their friends and
relations, from the perilous attacks of cholera and small-pox. Hence
people resort thither annually by thousands from almost all parts
of Malabar; and, the more north you go, the stronger will you find
the hold which the goddess has upon the popular imagination. The
chief propitiatory offering on the occasion is the sacrifice of
cocks. In fact, every family makes a point of undertaking this sacred
mission. People arrange to start on it at an auspicious moment, on
a fixed day in small isolated bodies. Preparations are made for the
journey. Rice, salt, chillies, curry-stuffs, betel leaves and nuts,
a little turmeric powder and pepper, and, above all, a number of cocks
form an almost complete paraphernalia of the pilgrimage. These are all
gathered and preserved in separate bundles inside a large bag. When
the appointed hour comes, they throw this bag on their shoulders,
conceal their money in their girdles, and, with a native-fashioned
umbrella in the one hand and a walking-stick in the other, they
start, each from his own house, to meet the brother pilgrims at
the rendezvous. Here a foreman is selected practically by common
consent. Then commences the vociferous recitation of that series
of obscene songs and ballads, which characterises the pilgrimage
all along. The foreman it is that opens the ball. He is caught up by
others in equally loud and profuse strains. This is continued right up
till the beginning of their homeward journey. Nobody whom they come
across on the way can successfully escape the coarse Billingsgate of
these religious zealots. Even women are not spared. Perhaps it is in
their case that the pilgrims wax all the more eloquently vulgar. A
number of cock's feathers are stuck or tied upon the tip of a stick,
and with this as a wand they begin to dance and pipe in a set style,
which is extremely revolting to every sense of decency. Some of
the pilgrims walk all the distance to the temple, while others go
by boat or other conveyance; but in neither case do they spare any
passer-by. Hundreds of gallons of arrack and toddy are consumed during
the festival. The pilgrims reach the temple in their dirty attire. The
temple premises are crowded to overflowing. The worship of the goddess
is then commenced. The offerings consist of the sacrifice of cocks
at the temple altar, turmeric powder, but principally of pepper,
as also some other objects of lesser importance. A particular spot
inside the temple is set apart for the distribution of what is called
manjal prasadam (turmeric powder on which divine blessings have been
invoked). The work of doling it out is done by young maidens, who are
during the process subjected to ceaseless volleys of vile and vulgar
abuse. Now, leaving out of account the minor ceremonies, we come to
the principal one, viz., the sacrifice of cocks. The popular idea
is that the greater the number of cocks sacrificed, the greater is
the efficacy of the pilgrimage. Hence men vie with one another in
the number of cocks that they carry on the journey. The sacrifice
is begun, and then there takes place a regular scramble for the
sanctified spot reserved for this butchering ceremony. One man holds
a cock by the trunk, and another pulls out its neck by the head, and,
in the twinkling of an eye, by the intervention of a sharpened knife,
the head is severed from the trunk. The blood then gushes forth in
forceful and continuous jets, and is poured on a piece of granite
specially reserved. Then another is similarly slaughtered, and then
as many as each of the pilgrims can bring. In no length of time,
the whole of the temple yard is converted into one horrible expanse
of blood, rendering it too slippery to be safely walked over. The
piteous cries and death throes of the poor devoted creatures greatly
intensify the horror of the scene. The stench emanating from the blood
mixing with the nauseating smell of arrack renders the occasion all the
more revolting. One other higher and more acceptable kind of offering
requires more than a passing mention. When a man is taken ill of any
infectious disease, his relations generally pray to this goddess for
his recovery, solemnly covenanting to perform what goes by the name of
a thulabharum ceremony. This consists in placing the patient in one
of the scale-pans of a huge balance, and weighing him against gold,
or more generally pepper (and sometimes other substances as well),
deposited in the other scale-pan. Then this weight of the substance
is offered to the goddess. This is to be performed right in front
of the goddess in the temple yard. The usual offerings being over,
the homeward journey of the pilgrims is begun. Though the festival
is called Bharani, yet all the pilgrims must vacate the temple on
the day previous to the Bharani day. For, from that day onwards, the
temple doors are all shut up, and, for the next seven days, the whole
place is given over to the worst depredations of the countless demons
over whom this blood-thirsty goddess holds sway. No human beings can
safely remain there, lest they might become prey to these ravenous
demons. In short, the Bharani day inaugurates a reign of terror in
the locality, lasting for these seven days. Afterwards, all the dirt
is removed. The temple is cleansed and sanctified, and again left
open to public worship. The pilgrims return, but not in the same
manner in which they repaired thither. During the backward journey,
no obscene songs or expressions are indulged in. They are to come
back quietly and calmly, without any kind of demonstrations. They get
back to their respective homes, and distribute the sandals and other
pujah substances to their relations and friends who have elected to
remain at home; and the year's pilgrimage is brought to a close."

"The month Karkkatakam," Mr. Fawcett writes, "when the Malayalis say
the body is cool, is the time when, according to custom, the Nayar
youths practice physical exercises. At Payoli in North Malabar, when
I was there in 1895, the local instructor of athletics was a Paravan,
a mason by caste. As he had the adjunct Kurup to his name, it took some
time to discover the fact. Teachers of his ilk are invariably of the
Paravan caste, and, when they are believed to be properly accomplished,
they are given the honorific Kurup. So carefully are things regulated
that no other person was permitted to teach athletics within the amsham
(a local area, a small county), and his womenfolk had privileges,
they only being the midwives who could attend on the Nayar women
of the amsham. His fee for a course of exercises for the month was
ten rupees. He, and some of his pupils, gave an exhibition of their
quality. Besides bodily contortions and somersaults, practiced in
a long low-roofed shed having a sandy floor, there is play with the
following instruments:--watta; cheruvadi, a short stick; and a stick
like a quarter-staff called a sariravadi, or stick the length of one's
body. The watta is held in the right hand as a dagger; it is used to
stab or strike and, in some ingenious way, turn over an opponent. The
total length of the watta is two feet, and of the cheruvadi about
three feet. The latter is squared at the ends, and is but a short
staff. It is held in the right hand a few inches from the end, and
is used for striking and guarding only. The sariravadi is held at
or near one end by one or by both hands. The distance between the
hands is altered constantly, and so is the end of the stick, which is
grasped now by one, now by another end by either hand, as occasion
may require; sometimes it is grasped in the middle. The performance
with these simple things was astonishing. I should say the watta and
the cheruvadi represented swords, or rather that they were used for
initiation or practice in swordsmanship, when the Nayars were the
military element in Malabar. The opponents, who faced each other
with the sariravadi or quarter-staff, stood thirty feet apart, and,
as if under the same stimulus, each kicked one leg high in the air,
gave several lively bounds in the air, held their staff horizontally
in front with out-stretched arms, came down slowly on the haunches,
placed the staff on the ground, bent over, and touched it with the
forehead. With a sudden bound they were again on their feet, and,
after some preliminary pirouetting, went for each other tooth and
nail. The sword play, which one sees during festive ceremonies, such
as a marriage or the like, is done by the hereditary retainers, who
fight imaginary foes, and destroy and vanquish opponents with much
contortion of body, and always indulge in much of this preliminary
overture to their performance. There is always, by way of preliminary,
a high kick in the air, followed by squatting on the haunches, bounding
high, turning, twisting, pirouetting, and all the time swinging the
sword unceasingly above, below, behind the back, under the arm or
legs, in ever so many impossible ways. Nayar shields are made of wood,
covered with leather, usually coloured bright red. Within the boss
are some hard seeds, or metal balls loose in a small space, so that
there is a jingling sound like that of the small bells on the ankles of
the dancer, when the shield is oscillated or shaken in the hand. The
swords are those which were used ordinarily for fighting. There are
also swords of many patterns for processional and other purposes,
more or less ornamented about the handle, and half way up the blade."

"The Nayars," Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes, "have a distinct
feudal organisation, and the division of their territories had an
unmistakeable reference to it. The territorial unit was the desam,
presided over by a Dasavazhi. A number of desams adjoining one another
constituted a nadu, which was under the jurisdiction of a chieftain
called the Naduvazhi. Above the Naduvazhis was the Rajah, the highest
suzerain in the country. In course of time, each nadu split itself up
into a certain number of taras, over the affairs of which a Karanavan,
or elder, presided. An assembly of these Karanavans constituted the six
hundred--an old socio-military organisation of the Nayars in mediæval
times. These six hundred are referred to in two places in the second
Syrian Christian document, which bears the date 925 A.D. In a South
Travancore inscription, dated 371 M.E., the same organisation is
referred to as Venattarunuru, or the six hundred of Venad, and one
of their duties evidently related to the supervision of the working
of temples and charitable institutions connected therewith. As Venad
was divided into eighteen districts in ancient days, there might have
been altogether eighteen six hundred in the country. The Naduvazhis
possessed considerable authority in all social matters and possessed
enough lands to be cultivated by their Kudiyans. A feudal basis was
laid for the whole organisation. Large numbers served as soldiers in
times of war, and cultivated their lands when the country was quiet. In
modern times, none of them take to military service in Travancore,
except those employed as sepoys in the Nayar Brigade."

Concerning the organisation of the Nayars, Mr. Logan writes that they
were, "until the British occupied the country, the militia of the
district (Malabar). This name implies that they were the 'leaders'
of the people. Originally they seem to have been organised into
six hundreds, and each six hundred seems to have had assigned to it
the protection of all the people in a nad or country. The nad was
in turn split up into taras, a Dravidian word signifying originally
a foundation, the foundation of a house, hence applied collectively
to a street, as in Tamil teru, in Telugu teruvu, and in Canarese and
Tulu teravu. The tara was the Nayar territorial unit of organisation
for civil purposes, and was governed by representatives of the caste,
who were styled Karanavar or elders. The six hundred was probably
composed exclusively of those Karanavar or elders, who were in some
parts called Mukhyastans (chief men), or Madhyastans (mediators), or
Pramanis (chief men), and there seem to have been four families of them
to each tara, so that the nad must have originally consisted of one
hundred and fifty taras. This tara organisation of the protector caste
played a most important part in the political history of the country,
for it was the great bulwark against the tyranny and oppression of the
Rajas. The evidence of the Honourable East India Company's linguist
(interpreter, agent) at Calicut, which appears in the diary of the
Tellicherry Factory under date 28th May, 1746, deserves to be here
reproduced. He wrote as follows: 'These Nayars, being heads of the
Calicut people, resemble the parliament, and do not obey the king's
dictates in all things, but chastise his ministers when they do
unwarrantable acts.' The parliament referred to must have been the
kuttam (assembly) of the nad. The kuttam answered many purposes when
combined action on the part of the community was necessary. The Nayars
assembled in their kuttams whenever hunting, or war, or arbitration,
or what not was in hand, and this organisation does not seem to have
been confined to Malabar, for the koot organisation of the people of
South Canara gave the British officers much trouble in 1832-33. In
so far as Malabar was concerned, the system seems to have remained
in an efficient state down to the time of the British occupation,
and the power of the Rajas was strictly limited. Mr. Murdoch Brown,
of Anjarakandi, who knew the country well, thus wrote to Mr. Francis
Buchanan in the earliest years of the present (nineteenth) century
regarding the despotic action of the Rajas when constituted,
after the Mysorean conquest the revenue agents of the Government of
Haidar Ali. 'By this new order of things, these latter (the Rajas)
were vested with despotic authority over the other inhabitants,
instead of the very limited prerogatives that they had enjoyed by
the feudal system, under which they could neither exact revenue from
the lands of their vassals, nor exercise any, direct authority in
their districts.' And again, 'The Raja was no longer what he had
been, the head of a feudal aristocracy with limited authority, but
the all-powerful deputy of a despotic prince, whose military force
was always at his command to curb or chastise any of the chieftains
who were inclined to dispute or disobey his mandates.' [170] From
the earliest times, therefore, down to the end of the eighteenth
century, the Nayar tara and nad organization kept the country from
oppression and tyranny on the part of the rulers, and to this fact
more than to any other is due the comparative prosperity, which
the Malayali country so long enjoyed, and which made Calicut at one
time the great emporium of trade between the East and the West. But,
besides protection, the Nayars had originally another most important
function in the body politic. Besides being protectors, they were
also supervisors or overseers, a duty which, as a very ancient deed
testifies, was styled kanam--a Dravidian word derived from the verb
kanuka (to see, etc). Parasu Raman (so the tradition preserved in
the Keralolpatti runs) separated the Nayars into taras, and ordered
that to them belonged the duty of supervision (lit. kan = the eye),
the executive power (lit. kei = the hand, as the emblem of power),
and the giving of orders (lit. kalpana, order, command), so as to
prevent the rights from being curtailed, or suffered to fall into
disuse. The Nayars were originally the overseers or supervisors of
the nad, and they seem to have been employed in this capacity as the
collectors of the share of produce of the land originally reserved for
Government purposes. As remuneration for this service, and for their
other function as protectors, another share of the produce of the soil
seems to have been reserved specially for them. It be well worth the
study of persons acquainted with other districts of the Presidency
to ascertain whether somewhat similar functions to these (protection,
and supervision) did not originally appertain to the Kavalgars of Tamil
districts and the Kapus in the Telugu country, for both of these words
seem to have come from the same root as the Malayalam kanam. And it
is significant that the Tamil word now used for proprietorship in
the soil is kani-yatchi, to which word the late Mr. F. W. Ellis in
his paper on Mirasi Rights assigned a similar derivation."

The occupation of the Nayars is described by Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar as
"comprising all kinds of worldly pursuits. So late as the end of the
eighteenth century, there were with the then Maharaja of Travancore
a hundred thousand soldiers, consisting of Nayars and Chovas, armed
with arrows, spears, swords and battle-axes. The chief occupation of
the Nayars is agriculture. Cultivation of a slipshod, time-honoured
type is the forte of the Nayar, for which he has always found time
from times of old, though engaged in other occupations as well. In the
Velakali, a kind of mock fight, which is one of the items of the utasom
programme in every important temple in Malabar, the dress worn by the
Nayars is supposed to be their ancient military costume. Even now,
among the Nayars who form the Maharaja's own Brigade, agriculture, to
which they are enabled to attend during all their off-duty days, goes
largely to supplement their monthly pay. Various other occupations,
all equally necessary for society, have been, according to the
Keralavakasakrama, assigned to the Nayars, and would seem to have
determined their original sub-divisions. They are domestic servants in
Brahman and Kshatriya houses and temples, and deal in dairy produce,
as well as being engaged in copper-sheet roofing, tile-making, pottery,
palanquin-bearing, and so on. But these traditional occupations are
fast ceasing under the ferment of a new civilisation. In the matter of
education, the Nayars occupy a prominent position. Almost every Nayar
girl is sent to the village school to learn the three R's, quite as
much as a matter of course as the schooling of boys. This constitutes
a feature of Malabar life that makes it the most literate country in
all India, especially in respect of the female sex. After Ramanujam
Ezhuttachchan developed and enriched the Malayalam language, numerous
Asans or village teachers came into existence in different parts of
Malabar. After a preliminary study of Malayalam, such as desired
higher, i.e., Sanskrit education, got discipled to an Ambalavasi
or a Sastri. Even to-day the estimable desire to study Sanskrit is
seen in some Nayar youths, who have readily availed themselves of the
benefit of the local Sanskrit college. In respect of English education,
the Nayars occupy a prominent position. The facility afforded by the
Government of Travancore for the study of English is being largely
availed of by Nayars, and it is a matter deserving to be prominently
recorded that, in recent years, several Nayar girls have passed the
Matriculation examination of the University of Madras."

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that "the Nayars as a class
are the best educated and the most advanced of the communities in
Malabar (excepting perhaps the Pattar Brahmans, who are not strictly
a Malayalam class), and are intellectually the equals of the Brahmans
of the East Coast. Many of them have risen to the highest posts in
Government, and the caste has supplied many of the leading members
of the learned professions."

Nayi (dog).--An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Nayinar.--Nayinar, Nayanar, or Nainar, has been recorded as a section
of Vellalas, who are thought to be descended from Jains who were
converted to Hinduism, and as a title of Jains, Kaikolans, Pallis,
and Udaiyans. Nayanikulam occurs as a synonym of Boya. The word Nayinar
is the same as Nayaka, meaning lord or master, and the Saivite saints,
being religious teachers, are so called, e.g., Sundara Murti Nayanar.

Nayinda.--Recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as the name of
a caste, which follows the hereditary occupation of barber, and also
of agriculture. "They are," it is there said, "members of the village
hierarchy. They are paid, like the Agasa (washerman), in kind for
their services. They are also fiddlers, and have the exclusive right
of wind instruments. They are known as Kelasiga or Hajam. They are
both Saivites and Vaishnavites. A section of them wear the lingam,
and follow Lingayetism. They are known as Silavanta. These people
are largely in requisition at feasts, marriages, etc., when they
form the music band." Kelasi is the name of a Canarese barber caste,
and Hajam is a Hindustani word for barber.

Nedungadi.--This name, denoting a settlement in Nedunganad in the
Walluvanad taluk of Malabar, has been returned as a sub-caste of
Nayars and Samantas.

Nekkara.--A small class of washermen in South Canara. The women
only are said to do the washing, while the men are employed as
devil-dancers.

Nellika (Phyllanthus Emblica).--An illam of Tiyan.

Nellu (paddy, unhusked rice).--A gotra of Kurni.

Nemilli (peacock).--An exogamous sept of Boya and Balija.

Nerali (Eugenia Jambolana).--An exogamous sept of Gangadikara Holeya.

Nerati.--Nerati or Neravati is a sub-division of Kapu.

Nese.--An occupational term, meaning weaver applied to several of
the weaving castes, but more especially to the Kurnis. It is noted,
in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that "in the inscriptions of Raja
Raja the Chola king, about the beginning of the eleventh century,
the Paraiyan caste is called by its present name. It had then two
sub-divisions, Nesavu (the weavers) and Ulavu (the ploughman)."

Netpanivandlu (neyyuta, to weave).--Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain
[171] as a name for Mala weavers.

Nettikotala.--In a note on the Nettikotalas or Neththikotalasi,
Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that they correspond to the Kalladi
Siddhans of the Tamil country. The name means those who cut their
foreheads. They are mendicants who beg from Gavara Komatis, whom they
are said to have assisted in days of old by delaying the progress of
Raja Vishnu Vardhana. (See Komati.) When their dues are not promptly
paid, they make cuts in their foreheads and other parts of the body,
and make blood flow.

Neyige.--The silk and cotton hand-loom weavers of the Mysore Province
are, in the Census Report, 1891, dealt with collectively under the
occupational name Neyige (weaving), which includes Bilimagga, Devanga,
Khatri, Patvegar, Sale, Saurashtra (Patnulkaran), Seniga and Togata.

Neytikkar.--Weavers of coir (cocoanut fibre) mats in Malabar.

Neyyala.--The Neyyala are a Telugu fishing caste found chiefly in
Vizagapatam and Ganjam, for the following note on whom I am indebted
to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The name is derived from the Telugu neyyalu,
meaning fried rice or cholam (Sorghum vulgare), which is made by female
members of the caste, especially during the harvest season, into balls
with jaggery (crude sugar). These are carried about the country by
the men for sale to those engaged in reaping the crop and others. As
payment, they receive from, the reapers a portion of the grain which
they are cutting. A further occupation of the caste is fishing with
konti vala, or koyyala vala i.e., nets supported on a row of bamboo
sticks, which are placed in shallow water, and dragged by two men.

The Naga (cobra) is reverenced by the caste. A Brahman officiates at
marriages, during which the sacred thread is worn. The remarriage of
widows is permitted, provided that the woman has no children by her
first husband. Divorce is not allowed. The dead are burnt, and the
chinna (little) and pedda rozu (big day) death ceremonies are observed.

As a caste, the Neyyalas do not drink intoxicating liquor, and eat
only in Brahman houses. Their usual title is Ayya.

Neyye (clarified butter).--An occupational sub-division of Komati.

Nila (blue).--An exogamous sept of Medara.

Nilagara (indigo people).--The name of a class of dyers, who are,
in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, included in the Kumbara or potter
caste.

Nili (indigo).--An exogamous sept of Padma Sale and Togata.

Nirganti.--Recorded, in the Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, as a regulator
and distributor of water to irrigated lands. He is usually a Holeya
by caste.

Nirpusi (wearers of sacred ashes).--Recorded, at times of census,
as a sub-division of Pandya Vellalas. Nirpusi Vellala is described,
in the Gazetteer of the South Arcot district, as a name current
in the South Arcot district meaning Vellalas who put on holy ash,
in reference to certain Jains, who formerly became Saivites taking
off their sacred threads, and putting holy ashes on their foreheads.

Nityadasu.--Nityadasu, or Nityulu, meaning immortal slaves, is a name
by which some Mala Dasaris style themselves.

Nodha.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a very small
caste of hill cultivators and earth-workers in the Oriya country.

Nokkan.--The Nokkans, who often go by the name of Jadipillais
(children of the caste), are a class of mendicants, who beg from
members of the Palli caste. The word Nokkan is said to mean 'he who
looks'. The Nokkans make periodical visits to villages where Pallis
live, and receive from them a small fee in money. They attend at Palli
marriages, and, during processions, carry flags (palempores) bearing
devices of Hanuman, tigers, Agni, etc., which are made at Kalahasti.

The Nokkans claim fees from the Pallis, because one of their ancestors
helped them. The legend runs as follows. During the reign of a Palli
king at Conjeeveram, a car, bearing the idol of the god, stood still,
and could not be moved. A human sacrifice was considered necessary,
but no one would offer himself as a victim. A Nokkan came forward, and
allowed his only daughter, who was pregnant, to be sacrificed. Pleased
at his behaviour, the king ordered that the Pallis should in future
treat the Nokkans as their Jadipillais. Some Nokkans say that they
were presented with copper-grants, one of which is reputed to be in
the possession of one Nokka Ramaswami of Mulavayal village in the
Ponneri taluk of the Chingleput district.

In the course of their rounds, the Nokkans repeat the story of the
origin of the Pallis, one version of which runs as follows. Two
Asuras, Vathapi and Enadhapi, who were ruling at Ratnagiripatnam,
obtained at the hands of Siva, by means of severe tapas (penance),
the following boon. No child should die within their dominions, and
the Asuras should be invincible, and not meet their death at the hands
of uterine-born beings. The Devatas and others, unable to bear the
tyranny of the Asuras, prayed to Brahma for rescue. He directed them
to the Rishi Jambuvamuni, who was doing penance on the banks of the
river Jumna. This Rishi is said to have married a woman named Asendi,
who was born from the cheeks of Parvati. Hearing the request of the
Devatas, the Rishi lighted the sacred fire, and therefrom arose a
being called Rudra Vanniyan, and forty other warriors, including
Nilakanta, Gangabala, and Vajrabahu. The Pallis are descended from
these fire-born heroes. (See Palli)

Nokkans wear the sacred thread, and carry with them a big drum and
a gourd pipe like that used by snake-charmers.

Noliya.--A synonym used by Oriya castes for the Telugu Jalaris.

Nonaba.--A territorial sub-division of Vakkaliga. The name is derived
from Nonambavadi, one of the former great divisions of the Tanjore
country.

Nottakaran.--The office of village Nottakaran, or tester, has been
abolished in modern times. It was generally held by a goldsmith,
whose duty was to test the rupees when the land revenue was being
gathered in, and see that they were not counterfeit.

Nuchchu (broken rice).--A gotra of Kurni.

Nukala (coarse grain powder).--An exogamous sept of Padma Sale.

Nulayan.--In the Madras Census Report, 1901, ninety-six individuals
are recorded as belonging to a small caste of Malayalam fishermen
and boatmen. The Nulayans are found in Travancore, and were returned
in the census of Malabar, as the two small British settlements of
Anjengo and Tangacheri in Travancore are under the jurisdiction of
the Collector of Malabar.

Nune (oil).--An occupational sub-division of Komati.

Nunia (nuno, salt).--A sub-division of Odiya.

Nurankurup.--An occupational name for Paravans settled in Malabar,
whose employment is that of lime-burners (nuru, lime).

Nurbash.--Recorded, at the census, 1901, as a synonym of Dudekula. A
corruption of nurbaf (weaving).

Nuvvala (gingelly: Sesamum indicum).--An exogamous sept of Kamma
and Medara. Gingelly seeds, from which an oil is extracted, "form an
essential article of certain religious ceremonies of the Hindus, and
have therefore received the names of homa-dhanya or the sacrificial
grain, and pitri-tarpana or the grain that is offered as an oblation
to deceased ancestors." (U. C. Dutt.) During the death ceremonies of
some Brahmans, libations of water mixed with gingelly seeds, called
tilothakam, and a ball of rice, are offered daily to two stones
representing the spirit of the deceased.

Nyayam (justice).--An exogamous sept of Padma Sale.



O


Occhan.--The Occhans are a class of temple priests, usually officiate
as pujaris at Pidari and other Amman (Grama Devata) temples. They
are for the most part Saivites, but some belong to the Vadagalai or
Tengalai Vaishnava sects. Some of the pujaris wear the sacred thread
when within the temple. Their insignia are the udukkai, or hour-glass
shaped drum, and the silambu, or hollow brass ring filled with bits
of brass, which rattle when it is shaken. In the Chingleput district,
some Occhans act as dancing-masters to Devadasis, and are sometimes
called Nattuvan.

The name Occhan is derived from the Tamil ochai, meaning sound, in
reference to the usual mode of invoking the Grama Devatas (village
deities) by beating on a drum and singing their praises. It has been
suggested that Occhan is a contracted form of Uvacchan, which occurs
in certain old inscriptions. [172] Of these, the oldest is dated
Sakha 1180 (A.D. 1258), and refers to the tax on Uvacchas. Another
inscription, in which the same tax is referred to, is dated Sakha 1328
(A.D. 1406). In both these inscriptions, Uvacchan has been interpreted
as referring to Jonakas, who are a class of Muhammadans. This is one
of the meanings given by Winslow, [173] who also gives "a caste of
drummers at temples, Occhan."

In the northern districts, the Occhans are divided into five
sections, called Marayan, Pandi, Kandappan, Periya or Pallavarayan,
and Pulavan. Marayan is also the name of temple priests in Travancore,
on whom the title Occhan is bestowed as a mark of royal favour by
the Travancore sovereigns. [174] The Occhans have many titles, e.g.,
Archaka or Umai Archaka, Devar, Parasaivan, Mudaliar, Vallabarayan,
Pusali, Pulavar, and Kamban. Of these, the last two are said to be
derived from the Tamil epic poet Kamban, who is traditionally believed
to have belonged to the Occhan caste. There is a legend that Kamban was
on his way to the residence of a king, when he heard an oil-monger,
who was driving his bulls, remonstrate with them, saying "Should you
kick against each other because the poet Kamban, like the Occhan he is,
hums his verse?" On hearing this, Kamban approached the oil-monger,
and went with him to the king, to whom he reported that he had been
insulted. By order of the king, the oil-monger burst forth into verse,
and explained how his bulls had taken fright on hearing Kamban's
impromptu singing. Kamban was greatly pleased with the poet oil-monger,
and begged the king to let him go with honours heaped on him.

In the southern districts, more especially in Madura and Tinnevelly,
it is usual for an Occhan to claim his paternal aunt's daughter
in marriage. In the northern districts, a man may also marry his
maternal uncle's or sister's daughter. Brahman Gurukkals officiate
at marriages. In their puberty, marriage, and death ceremonies, the
Occhans closely follow the Pallis or Vanniyans. The dead are burnt,
and Brahmans officiate at the funeral ceremonies.

The caste is an organised one, and there is usually a headman, called
Periyathanakaran, at places where Occhans occur.

Oda vandlu (boatmen).--A synonym of Mila, a fishing caste in Ganjam
and Vizagapatam. Some prosperous Milas have adopted Oda Balija as
their caste name. (See Vada.)

Odan.--An occupational name of a class of Nayars, who are tile-makers.

Odari.--The Odaris or Vodaris are Tulu-speaking potters in the South
Canara district. Those who have abandoned the profession of potter call
themselves Mulia, as also do some potters, and those who are employed
as pujaris (priests) at bhuthasthanas (devil shrines). In many cases,
the headman combines the duties of that office with those of pujari,
and is called Mulia. Otherwise his title is Gurikara.

The Canarese potters in South Canara, in making pots, use the ordinary
wheel, which is rotated by means of a long stick. The wheel of the
Odaris is more primitive, consisting of a small disc, concave above,
made of unburnt clay, fitting by means of a pebble pivot into a pebble
socket, which is rotated by hand.

Like other Tulu castes, the Odaris worship bhuthas, but also reverence
Venkataramana.

In their marriage ceremonial, the Odaris follow the Bant type. At the
betrothal, the headmen or fathers of the contracting couple exchange
betel, and the party of the future bridegroom give a ring to the
people of the bride-elect. The marriage rites are completed in a
single day. A bench is placed within the marriage pandal (booth), and
covered with clothes brought by the Madivali (washerman caste). The
bridegroom is conducted thither by the bride's brother, and, after
going round three times, takes his seat. He is generally preceded by
women carrying lights, rice and fruits before him. The lamp is hung
up, and the other articles are deposited on the ground. One by one,
the women throw a grain of rice, first over the lamp, and then a few
grains over the head of the bridegroom. Then the barber comes, and,
after throwing rice, shaves the face of the bridegroom, using milk
instead of water. The bride is also shaved by a barber woman. The
pair are decorated, and brought to the pandal, where those assembled
throw rice over their heads, and make presents of money. Their hands
are then united by the headman, and the dhare water poured over them
by the maternal uncle of the bride.

An interesting rite in connection with pregnancy is the presentation
of a fowl or two to the pregnant woman by her maternal uncle. The
fowls are tended with great care, and, if they lay eggs abundantly,
it is a sign that the pregnant woman will be prolific.

The dead are either buried or cremated. If cremation is resorted to,
the final death ceremonies (bojja) must be celebrated on the eleventh
or thirteenth day. If the corpse has been buried, these ceremonies
must not take place before the lapse of at least a month.

Odde.--The Oddes or Voddas, who are commonly called Wudders, are
summed up by Mr. H. A. Stuart [175] as being "the navvies of the
country, quarrying stone, sinking wells, constructing tank bunds, and
executing other kinds of earthwork more rapidly than any other class,
so that they have got almost a monopoly of the trade. They are Telugu
people, who came originally from Orissa, whence their name. Were
they more temperate, they might be in very good circumstances, but,
as soon as they have earned a small sum, they strike work and have
a merry-making, in which all get much intoxicated, and the carouse
continues as long as funds last. They are very ignorant, not being
able even to calculate how much work they have done, and trusting
altogether to their employer's honesty. They are an open-hearted,
good-natured lot, with loose morals, and no restrictions regarding
food, but they are proud, and will only eat in the houses of the
higher castes, though most Sudras look down upon them. Polygamy and
divorce are freely allowed to men, and women are only restricted from
changing partners after having had eighteen. Even this limit is not
set to the men."

Women who have had seven husbands are said to be much respected,
and their blessing on a bridal pair is greatly praised. There is a
common saying that a widow may mount the marriage dais seven times.

In the Census Report, 1871, the Oddes are described as being "the
tank-diggers, well-sinkers, and road-makers of the country who live in
detached settlements, building their huts in conical or bee-hive form,
with only a low door of entrance. They work in gangs on contract,
and every one, except very old and very young, takes a share in the
work. The women carry the earth in baskets, while the men use the
pick and spade. The babies are usually tied up in cloths, which are
suspended, hammock fashion, from the boughs of trees. They are employed
largely in the Public Works Department, and in the construction and
maintenance of railways. They are rather a fine-looking race, and
all that I have come across are Vaishnavites in theory, wearing the
trident prominently on their foreheads, arms, and breasts. The women
are tall and straight. They eat every description of animal food,
and especially pork and field-rats, and all drink spirituous liquors."

Of the Oddes, the following brief accounts are given in the Nellore,
Coimbatore, and Madura Manuals:--

Nellore.--"These people are the tank-diggers. They sometimes engage in
the carrying trade, but beyond this, they only move about from place
to place as they have work. The word Vodde or Odde is said to be a
corruption of the Sanskrit Odhra, the name for the country now called
Orissa, and the people are ordinarily supposed to have emigrated from
the Uriya country. Besides Telugu, they are said to speak a peculiar
dialect among themselves; and, if this should turn out to be Uriya,
the question might be regarded as settled. The laborious occupation
of the men tends to develop their muscles. I have seen some very fine
men among the tribe."

Coimbatore.--"Numerous, owing to the hard nature of the subsoil and the
immense and increasing number of irrigation wells, which demand the
labour of strong men accustomed to the use of the crowbar, pick-axe,
and powder. They are black, strong, and of good physique, highly paid,
and live on strong meat and drink."

Madura.--"An itinerant caste of tank-diggers and earth-workers. They
are Telugus, and are supposed to have come southward in the time
of the Nayyakkans. Possibly Tirumala sent for them to dig out his
great teppakulam, and assist in raising gopuras. They are a strong,
hard-working class, but also drunken, gluttonous, and vicious. And
but little faith can be placed in their most solemn promises. They
will take advances from half a dozen employers within a week, and
work for none of them, if they can possibly help it."

In Mysore numbers of Oddes are now permanently settled in the outskirts
of large towns, where both sexes find employment as sweepers, etc.,
in connection with sanitation and conservancy. Some Oddes are, at
the present time (1908), employed at the Mysore manganese mines. The
tribe is often found concerting with the Korachas, Koramas, and
other predatory classes in committing dacoities and robberies, and it
has passed into a proverb that they would rather bear any amount of
bodily torture than confess or disclose the truth regarding the crimes
attributed to them. Some Oddes have settled down as agriculturists
and contractors, and some are very prosperous. For example, there are
a few Oddes near Kuppam in the North Arcot district, whose credit
is so good that any rich merchant would advance them large sums of
money. A wealthy Odde, worth nearly a lakh of rupees, worried my
assistant for half an anna, wherewith to purchase some betel leaf. It
is recorded by Bishop Whitehead, [176] in the diary of a tour in the
Nizam's Dominions, that, at Khammamett, "the Waddas who have become
Christians have for some time past possessed land and cattle of their
own, and are well-to-do people. One of the headmen, who was presented
to me after service, said that he had 80 acres of land of his own."

Some of the timber work in the Nallamalai hills, in the Kurnool
district, is done by Oddes, who fell trees, and keep bulls for dragging
the timber out of the forests. Under the heading "Uppara and Vadde
Vandlu," the Rev. J. Cain gives [177] the following account of the
distribution of wages. "The tank-diggers had been paid for their work,
and, in apportioning the share of each labourer, a bitter dispute
arose because one of the women had not received what she deemed her
fair amount. On enquiry it turned out that she was in an interesting
condition, and therefore could claim not only her own, but also a
share for the expected child."

A legend is current to the effect that, long ago, the Oddes were
ordered to dig a tank, to enable the Devatas and men to obtain
water. This was done, and they demanded payment, which was made in
the form of a pinch of the sacred ashes of Siva to each workman,
in lieu of money. When they reached home, the ashes turned into
money, but they were not satisfied with the amount, and clamoured
for more. The god, growing angry, cursed them thus: "What you obtain
in the forests by digging shall be lost as soon as you reach high
ground." Parvati, taking pity on them, asked Siva to give them large
sums of money. Whereon Siva, hollowing out a measuring-rod, filled
it with varahans (gold coins), and gave it to the maistry. He also
filled a large pumpkin with money, and buried it in a field, where the
Oddes were working. The measuring-rod was pawned by the maistry for
toddy. The Oddes, noticing the raised mound caused by the burying of
the pumpkin, left it untouched to show the depth that they had dug. A
buffalo, which was grazing in a field close by, exposed the pumpkin,
which the Oddes, not suspecting its contents, sold to a Komati.

According to another legend, the Oddes were employed by God, who had
assumed a human form, and was living amongst them. On one occasion,
God had to perform a certain ceremony, so he gave the Oddes an advance
of three days' pay, and ordered them not to worry him. This they failed
to do, and were accordingly laid under a curse to remain poor for ever.

A further legend is current among the Oddes to the effect that, when
Siva and Parvati were walking one sultry day upon the earth, they
got very hot and thirsty. The drops of perspiration which fell from
Siva were changed by him into a man with a pick and crowbar, while
those falling from Parvati turned into a woman carrying a basket. The
man and woman quickly sunk a well, with the cooling waters of which
the god and goddess refreshed themselves, and in gratitude promised
the labourers certain gifts, the nature of which is not now known,
but neither was satisfied, and both grumbled, which so incensed Siva
that he cursed them, and vowed that they and their descendants should
live by the sweat of their brows.

Among the Oddes, the following sayings are current:--

The Oddes live with their huts on their heads (i.e., low huts), with
light made from gathered sticks, on thin conji (gruel), blessing
those who give, and cursing those who do not.

Cobras have poison in their fangs, and Oddes in their tongues.

Though wealth accumulates like a mountain, it soon disappears like
mist.

At recent times of census, the following occupational
sub-divisions were returned:--Kallu or Rati (stone-workers) and
Mannu (earth-workers), Manti or Bailu (open space), between which
there is said to be no intermarriage. The endogamous sub-divisions
Natapuram and Uru (village men), Bidaru (wanderers), and Konga
(territorial) were also returned. Beri was given as a sub-caste,
and Odderazu as a synonym for the caste name. In Ganjam, Bolasi is
said to be a sub-division of the Oddes. The caste titles are Nayakan
and Boyan. The similarity of the latter word to Boer was fatal, for,
at the time of my visit to the Oddes, the South African war was just
over, and they were afraid that I was going to get them transported,
to replace the Boers who had been exterminated. Being afraid, too,
of my evil eye, they refused to fire a new kiln of bricks for the
new club chambers at Coimbatore until I had taken my departure.

It is noted, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that "the caste divides
itself into two main branches, the Kallu and Mannu Vaddas, between whom
there is no social intercourse of any kind, or intermarriage. The
former are stone-workers and builders, and more robust than the
latter, and are very dexterous in moving large masses of stone
by rude and elementary mechanical appliances. They are hardy, and
capable of great exertion and endurance. The Kallu Vaddas consider
themselves superior to the Mannu Vaddas (earth diggers). Unlike the
Kallu Vaddas, the Mannu Vaddas or Bailu Vaddas are a nomadic tribe,
squatting wherever they can find any large earthwork, such as deepening
and repairing tanks, throwing up embankments, and the like. They are
expert navvies, turning out within a given time more hard work than
any other labouring class." The Mannu Oddes eat rats, porcupines,
and scaly ant-eaters or pangolins (Manis pentadactyla).

Of exogamous septs, the following may be cited:--


    Bandollu, rock.
    Bochchollu, hairs.
    Cheruku, sugarcane.
    Enumala, buffalo.
    Goddali, axe.
    Gampa, basket.
    Idakottu, break-down.
    Jambu (Eugenia Jambolana).
    Komali, buffoon.
    Santha, a fair.
    Sivaratri, a festival.
    Manchala, cot.
    Sampangi (Michelia Champaca).
    Thatichettu, palmyra palm.
    Bandari (Dodonoea viscosa).
    Devala, belonging to god.
    Donga, thief.
    Malle, jasmine.
    Panthipattu, pig-catcher.
    Panthikottu, pig-killer.
    Upputholuvaru, salt-carrier.
    Pitakala, dais on which a priest sits.
    Thappata, drum.


At the Mysore census, 1901, a few returned gotras, such as arashina
(turmeric), huvvina (flowers), honna (gold), and akshantala (rice
grain).

"The women of the Vaddevandlu section of the tank-digger caste," the
Rev. J. Cain writes, [178] "only wear the glass bracelets on the left
arm, as, in years gone by (according to their own account), a seller
of these bracelets was one day persuading them to buy, and, leaving
the bracelets on their left arms, went away, promising to return with a
fresh supply for their right arms. As yet he has not re-appeared." But
an old woman explained that they have to use their right arm when at
work, and if they wore bangles on it, they would frequently get broken.

In some places, tattooing on the forehead with a central vertical
line, dots, etc., is universally practiced, because, according to the
Odde, they should bear tattoo marks as a proof of their life on earth
(bhulokam) when they die. Oddes, calling themselves Pachcha Botlu,
are itinerant tattooers in the Ganjam, Vizagapatam and Godavari
districts. While engaged in performing the operation, they sing Telugu
songs, to divert the attention of those who are being operated on.

The office of headman, who is known as Yejamanadu, Samayagadu, or
Pedda (big) Boyadu, is hereditary, and disputes, which cannot be
settled at a council meeting, are referred to a Balija Desai Chetti,
whose decision is final. In some cases, the headman is assisted by
officers called Chinna (little) Boyadu, Sankuthi, and Banthari. An
Odde, coming to a place where people are assembled with shoes on,
is fined, and described as gurram ekki vachchinavu (having come on
a horse). The Oddes are very particular about touching leather, and
beating with shoes brings pollution. Both the beater and the person
beaten have to undergo a purificatory ceremony, and pay a fine. When
in camp at Dimbhum, in the Coimbatore district, I caught hold of a
ladle, to show my friend Dr. Rivers what were the fragrant contents
of a pot, in which an Odde woman was cooking the evening meal. On
returning from a walk, we heard a great noise proceeding from the
Odde men who had meanwhile returned from work, and found the woman
seated apart on a rock and sobbing. She had been excommunicated, not
because I touched the ladle, but because she had afterwards touched
the pot. After much arbitration, I paid up the necessary fine, and
she was received back into her caste.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is confined in a special hut, in
which a piece of iron, margosa leaves (Melia Azadirachta), sticks
of Strychnos Nux-vomica, and the arka plant (Calotropis gigantea)
are placed, to ward off evil spirits. For fear of these spirits she
is not allowed to eat meat, though eggs are permitted. On the seventh
day, a fowl is killed, waved in front of the girl, and thrown away. At
the end of the period of pollution, the hut is burnt down. Sometimes,
when the girl bathes on the first day, a sieve is held over her head,
and water poured through it. In some places, on the eleventh day,
chicken broth, mixed with arrack (liquor), is administered, in order
to make the girl's back and waist strong. The hen, from which the
broth is made, must be a black one, and she must have laid eggs for
the first time. The flesh is placed in a mortar, pounded to a pulp,
and boiled, with the addition of condiments, and finally the arrack.

Both infant and adult marriages are practiced. The marriage ceremony,
in its simplest form, is, according to Mr. F. S. Mullaly, [179]
not a tedious one, the bride and bridegroom walking three times
round a stake placed in the ground. In the more elaborate ritual,
on the betrothal day, the bride-price, etc., are fixed, and an
adjournment is made to the toddy shop. The marriage rites are, as
a rule, very simple, but, in some places, the Oddes have begun to
imitate the marriage ceremonies of the Balijas. On the third day, the
contracting couple go in procession to a tank, where the bridegroom
digs up some mud, and the bride carries three basketfuls thereof to
a distance. The following story is narrated in connection with their
marriage ceremonies. A certain king wanted an Odde to dig a tank,
which was subsequently called Nidimamidi Koththacheruvu, and promised
to pay him in varahalu (gold coins). When the work was completed, the
Odde went to the king for his money, but the king had no measure for
measuring out the coins. A person was sent to fetch one, and on his
way met a shepherd, who had on his shoulders a small bamboo stick,
which could easily be converted into a measure. Taking this stick,
he returned to the king, who measured out the coins, which fell short
of the amount expected by the Oddes, who could not pay the debts,
which they had contracted. So they threw the money into the tank,
saying "Let the tank leak, and the land lie fallow for ever." All
were crying on account of their misery and indebtedness. A Balija,
coming across them, took pity on them, and gave them half the amount
required to discharge their debts. After a time they wanted to marry,
and men were sent to bring the bottu (marriage badge), milk-post,
musicians, etc. But they did not return, and the Balija suggested the
employment of a pestle for the milk-post, a string of black beads
for the bottu, and betel leaves and areca nuts instead gold coins
for the oli (bride-price).

The Oddes are in some places Vaishnavites, in others Saivites,
but they also worship minor deities, such as Ellamma, Ankamma,
etc., to whom goats and sheep are sacrificed, not with a sword or
knife, but by piercing them with a spear or crowbar. Writing at the
commencement of the nineteenth century, Buchanan states [180] that
"although the Woddaru pray to Vishnu, and offer sacrifices to Marima,
Gungama, Durgama, Putalima, and Mutialima, yet the proper object of
worship belonging to the caste is a goddess called Yellama, one of the
destroying spirits. The image is carried constantly with their baggage;
and in her honour there is an annual feast, which lasts three days. On
this occasion they build a shed, under which they place the image,
and one of the tribe officiates as priest or pujari. For these three
days offerings of brandy, palm wine, rice, and flowers are made to the
idol, and bloody sacrifices are performed before the shed. The Woddas
abstain from eating the bodies of the animals sacrificed to their
own deity, but eat those which they sacrifice to the other Saktis."

The dead are generally buried. By some Oddes the corpse is carried
to the burial-ground wrapped up in a new cloth, and carried in a
dhubati (thick coarse cloth) by four men. On the way to the grave,
the corpse is laid on the ground, and rice thrown over its eyes. It is
then washed, and the namam (Vaishnavite sect mark) painted, or vibuthi
(sacred ashes) smeared on the forehead of a man, and kunkumam (coloured
powder) on that of a female. Earth is thrown by those assembled into
the grave before it is filled in. On the karmandhiram day, or last day
of the death ceremonies, the relations repair to a tank or well outside
the village. An effigy is made with mud, to which cooked rice, etc.,
is offered. Some rice is cooked, and placed on an arka (Calotropis)
leaf as an offering to the crows. If a married woman has died, the
widower cuts through his waist thread, whereas a widow is taken to
the water's edge, and sits on a winnow. Her bangles are broken, and
the bottu is snapped by her brother. Water is then poured over her
head three times through the winnow. After bathing, she goes home,
and sits in a room with a lamp, and may see no one till the following
morning. She is then taken to one or more temples, and made to pull
the tail of a cow three times. The Oddes of Coimbatore, in the Tamil
country, have elaborated both the marriage and funeral ceremonies,
and copy those of the Balijas and Vellalas. But they do not call in
the assistance of a Brahman purohit.

A woman, found guilty of immorality, is said to have to carry a
basketful of earth from house to house, before she is re-admitted to
the caste.

The following note on a reputed cure for snake poisoning used by Oddes
was communicated to me by Mr. Gustav Haller. "A young boy, who belonged
to a gang of Oddes, was catching rats, and put his hand into a bamboo
bush, when a cobra bit him, and clung to his finger when he was drawing
his hand out of the bush. I saw the dead snake, which was undoubtedly
a cobra. I was told that the boy was in a dying condition, when a man
of the same gang said that he would cure him. He applied a brown pill
to the wound, to which it stuck without being tied. The man dipped
a root into water, and rubbed it on the lad's arm from the shoulder
downwards. The arm, which was benumbed, gradually became sensitive,
and at last the fingers could move, and the pill dropped off. The
moist root was rubbed on to the boy's tongue and into the corner of
the eye before commencing operations. The man said that a used pill
is quite efficacious, but should be well washed to get rid of the
poison. In the manufacture of the pill, five leaves of a creeper are
dried, and ground to powder. The pill must be inserted for nine days
between the bark and cambium of a margosa tree (Melia Azadirachta)
during the new moon, when the sap ascends." The creeper is Tinospora
cordifolia (gul bel) and the roots are apparently those of the same
climbing shrub. There is a widespread belief that gul bel growing on
a margosa tree is more efficacious as a medicine than that which is
found on other kinds of trees.

The insigne of the caste at Conjeeveram is a spade. [181]

"In the Ceded Districts," Mr. F. S. Mullaly writes, [182] "some of
the Wudders are known as Donga Wuddiwars, or thieving Wudders, from
the fact of their having taken to crime as a profession. Those of
the tribe who have adopted criminal habits are skilful burglars and
inveterate robbers. They are chiefly to be found among the stone
Wudder class, who, besides their occupation of building walls,
are also skilful stone-cutters. By going about under the pretence
of mending grindstones, they obtain much useful information as to
the houses to be looted, or parties of travellers to be attacked. In
committing a highway robbery or dacoity, they are always armed with
stout sticks. Burglary by Wudders may usually be traced to them,
if careful observations are made of the breach in the wall. The
implement is ordinarily the crowbar used by them in their profession
as stone-workers, and the blunt marks of the crowbar are, as a rule,
noticeable. They will never confess, or implicate another of their
fraternity, and, should one of them be accused of a crime, the women
are most clamorous, and inflict personal injuries on themselves
and their children, to deter the police from doing their duty,
and then accuse them of torture. Women and children belonging to
criminal gangs are experts in committing grain thefts from kalams or
threshing-floors, where they are engaged in harvest time, and also in
purloining their neighbours' poultry. Stolen property is seldom found
with Wudders. Their receivers are legion, but they especially favour
liquor shopkeepers in the vicinity of their encampment. Instances have
been known of valuable jewellery being exchanged for a few drams of
arrack. In each Wudder community, there is a headman called the Ganga
Raja, and, in the case of criminal gangs of these people, he receives
two shares of spoil. Identifiable property is altered at once, many of
the Wudders being themselves able to melt gold and silver jewellery,
which they dispose of for about one-tenth of the value."

It has been said of the navvies in England that "many persons are quite
unaware that the migratory tribe of navvies numbers about 100,000, and
moves about from point to point, wherever construction works are going
forward, such as railways, harbour, canals, reservoirs and drainage
works. Generally the existence of these works is unknown to the public
until their completion. They then come into use, but the men who risked
their lives to make them are gone nobody knows where. They are public
servants, upon whose labours the facilities of modern civilised life
largely depend, and surely, therefore, their claim on our sympathies
is universal." And these remarks apply with equal force to the Oddes,
who numbered 498,388 in the Madras Presidency at the census, 1901.

In the Census Report, 1901, Odderazulu is given as a synonym of
Odde. One of the sections of the Yerukalas is also called Odde. Vadde
(Odde) Cakali (Tsakala) is recorded, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as
the name for those who wash clothes, and carry torches and palanquins.

Oddilu.--The Oddilu are described [183] by the Rev. J. Cain as
principally raftsmen on the Godavari river, who have raised themselves
in life, and call themselves Sishti Karanamalu. He states further that
they are Kois (or Koyis) who are regarded as more honourable than any
of the others, and have charge of the principal velpu (tribal gods).

Odhuvar (reader or reciter).--A name for Pandarams, who recite hymns
in temples.

Odisi.--A sub-division of Bhondari.

Odiya.--It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, that "this
is the principal Uriya caste of farmers in Ganjam. Odia and Uriya
are different forms of one and the same word, and this caste name
simply means a native of the Odia or Uriya country, as Telaga means
a man of the Telugu country. In both cases, therefore, we find
a number of persons included, who are in reality members of some
other caste. The total number of sub-divisions of Odia, according
to the census schedules, is 146, but a number of these are names
of various Uriya castes, and not true sub-divisions. The largest
sub-division is Benaito, which is returned by 62,391 persons. The Nunia
sub-division, the next largest, was returned by 9,356 individuals." It
is further recorded, in the Census Report, 1901, that Odiya, Oriya,
or Uriya "is one of the vaguest terms in the whole of Table XIII
(Caste and Tribe). The Odiyas are a race by themselves, split up
into many castes. 'Odiya' also often means merely a man who speaks
Oriya. The term is, however, so constantly returned by itself without
qualification, that Odiya has perforce figured in the tables of all
the censuses as a caste. The Odiyas of the hills differ, however,
from the Odiyas of the plains, the Odiyas of Ganjam from those of
Vizagapatam, and the customs of one muttah (settlement) from those
of the next." Mr. Narasing Doss writes to me that "Odiya literally
means an inhabitant of Odissa or Orissa. There is a separate caste
called Odiya, with several sub-divisions. They are cultivators by
profession. Marriage is infant or adult. They employ Brahmans at
ceremonials. Widows and divorcees are remarried. They eat fish and
meat, but not fowls or beef, and do not drink liquor. They burn
the dead. Members of the Nagabonso sept claim to be descendants of
Nagamuni, the serpent rishi."

I gather that there are three main sections among the Odiyas, viz.,
Benaito, Nuniya, and Baraghoria, of which the first-named rank above
the others in the social scale. From them Oriya Brahmans and Koronos
will accept water. The Benaitos and Nuniyas are found all over Ganjam,
whereas the Baraghorias are apparently confined to villages round about
Aska and Purushothapur. There are numerous exogamous gotras within
the caste, among which are Nagasira (cobra), Gonda (rhinoceros),
Kochipo (tortoise), and Baraha (boar). The gods of the gotra should
be worshipped at the commencement of any auspicious ceremony. The
Odiyas also worship Jagannatha, and Takuranis (village deities). A
number of titles occur in the caste, e.g., Bissoyi, Podhano, Jenna,
Bariko, Sahu, Swayi, Gaudo, Pulleyi, Chando, Dolei, and Torei.

When an unmarried girl is ill, a vow is taken that, if she recovers,
she shall be married to the dharma devata (sun), which is represented
by a brass vessel.

People of mixed origin sometimes call themselves Odiyas, and pass as
members of this caste. Some Bhayipuos, for example, who correspond
to the Telugu Adapapas, call themselves Odiyas or Beniya Odiyas.

Odiya Toti.--A Tamil synonym for Oriya Haddis employed as scavengers
in municipalities in the Tamil country.

Ojali.--The Ojali, Vojali, or Ozolu are summed up, in the Madras
Census Report, 1901, as being "Telugu blacksmiths in the Vizagapatam
Agency. They eat beef, but are somewhat superior to the Paidis and
Malas in social position. They are also called Mettu Kamsali." It
is stated in the Vizagapatam Manual that, during the reign of
Chola Chakravati, the Kamsalas (artisans) claimed to be equal
to Brahmans. This offended the sovereign, and he ordered their
destruction. Some only escaped death by taking shelter with people of
the 'Ozu' caste. As an acknowledgment of their gratitude many of the
Kamsalas have ozu affixed to their house-name, e.g., Kattozu, Lakkozu.

Okkiliyan.--Okkiliyan is the Tamil synonym for Vakkaliga, the large
caste of Canarese cultivators, and the name is derived from okkalu,
meaning cultivation or agriculture. In the Madras Census Report, 1901,
the Vakkaligas or Okkiliyans are described as "Canarese cultivators,
who originally belonged to Mysore, and are found mainly in Madura
and Coimbatore. The caste is split up into several sub-divisions,
the names of two of which, Nonaba and Gangadikara, are derived from
former divisions of the Mysore country. Each of these is again split up
into totemistic exogamous sections or kulas, some of which are Chinnada
(gold), Belli (silver), Khajjaya (cake), Yemme (buffalo), Alagi (pot),
Jola (cholum: a millet)." The Vakkaligas say they are descendants
of the Ballal Rajah of Anegundi, and that they left their homes in
pursuit of more suitable occupation, and settled themselves in Konganad
(Coimbatore). The Okkiliyans, whom I have investigated, were settled
in the Tamil country in the Coimbatore district, where they were
engaged as cultivators, bakers, milk-vendors, bricklayers, merchants,
cart-drivers, tailors, cigar manufacturers, and coolies. They returned
the following eight endogamous sub-divisions:--


    (1) Gangadikara, or those who lived on the banks of the Ganges.
    (2) Gudi, temple.
    (3) Kire (Amarantus), which is largely cultivated by them.
    (4) Kunchu, a tassel or bunch.
    (5) Kamati, foolish. Said to have abandoned their original
        occupation of cultivating the land, and adopted the
        profession of bricklayer.
    (6) Gauri, Siva's consort.
    (7) Bai.
    (8) Sanu.


Like other Canarese castes, the Okkiliyans have exogamous septs
(kuttam or kutta), such as Belli (silver), Kasturi (musk), Pattegara
(headman), Aruva, Hattianna, etc. By religion they are both Saivites
and Vaishnavites. Those of the Aruva sept are all Saivites, and
the Hatti sept are Vaishnavites. Intermarriage between Saivites and
Vaishnavites is permitted, even though the former be Lingayats. The
Okkiliyans also worship village deities, and sacrifice goats and
fowls to Magaliamma and Koniamma.

The Kiraikkarans of Coimbatore, whose main occupation is cultivating
kirai (Amarantus) and other vegetables, are said to be Kempati
Okkiliyans, i.e. Okkiliyans who emigrated from Kempampatti in Mysore.

The hereditary headman of the caste, at Coimbatore, is called
Pattakaran, who has under him a Chinna (little) Pattakaran. The
headman presides over the caste council meetings, settles disputes,
and inflicts fines and other forms of punishment. If a person is
accused of using coarse language, he is slapped on the cheek by the
Chinna Pattakaran. If, during a quarrel, one person beats the other
with shoes, he has to purify himself and his house, and feed some
of his fellow castemen. The man who has been slippered also has to
undergo purificatory ceremony, but has not to stand a feast. In cases
of adultery, the guilty persons have to carry a basket of sand on the
head round the quarters of the community, accompanied by the Chinna
Pattakaran, who beats them with a tamarind switch. In some places, I
am informed, there is a headman for the village, called Uru Goundan,
who is subject to the authority of the Nattu Goundan. Several nadus,
each composed of a number of villages, are subject to a Pattakar,
who is assisted by a Bandari. All these offices are hereditary.

When a Gangadikara girl reaches puberty, her maternal uncle, or his
son, constructs a hut of stems of cocoanut leaves, reeds and branches
of Pongamia glabra. Every day her relations bring her a cloth,
fruits, and flowers. On alternate days she is bathed, and dressed
in a cloth supplied by the washerwoman. The hut is broken up, and a
new one constructed on the third, fifth, and seventh days. During
the marriage ceremony, the bridegroom carries a dagger (katar)
with a lime stuck on its tip, and partly covered with a cloth,
when he proceeds to the bride's house with a bamboo, new clothes,
the tali (marriage badge), jewels, wrist-thread (kankanam), fruits,
cocoanuts, rice, and a new mat, camphor, etc. He must have the
dagger with him till the wrist-threads are untied. The barber cuts
the nails of the bridegroom. The Pattakaran, or a Brahman priest,
takes round the tali to be blessed by those assembled, and gives it
to the bridegroom, who ties it on the bride's neck. The ends of the
cloths of the contracting couple, with betel leaves and areca nuts in
them, are tied together, and they link together the little finger of
their right hands. They then look at the sky, to see the pole-star,
Arundati, who was the wife of the ascetic Vasishta, and the emblem
of chastity. The marriage booth has four posts, and the milk-post is
made of the milk hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli), to which are tied mango
leaves and a wrist-thread. At some Okkiliyan marriages, the caste
priest, called Kanigara (soothsayer), officiates at the tali-tying
ceremony. Very great importance is attached to the linking of the
fingers of the bridal couple by the Kanigara or maternal uncle. The
dowry is not given at the time of marriage, but only after the
birth of a child. For her first confinement, the woman is taken to
her parents' home, and, after delivery, is sent back to her husband
with the dowry. This is not given before the birth of a child, as,
in the event of failure of issue or death of his wife, the husband
might claim the property, which might pass to a new family.

Among some Okkiliyans the custom is maintained by which the father of a
young boy married to a grown-up girl cohabits with his daughter-in-law
until her husband has reached maturity.

A dead person, I was informed at Coimbatore, is buried in a sitting
posture, or, if young and unmarried, in a recumbent position. As
the funeral procession proceeds on its way to the burial-ground,
the relations and friends throw coins, fruits, cakes, cooked rice,
etc., on the road, to be picked up by poor people. If the funeral is
in high life, they may even throw flowers made of gold or silver,
but not images, as some of the higher classes do. At the south
end of the grave, a hollow is scooped out for the head and back to
rest in. A small quantity of salt is placed on the abdomen, and the
grave is filled in. Leaves of the arka plant (Calotropis gigantea),
or tangedu (Cassia auriculata), are placed in three corners, and a
stone is set up over the head. The son, having gone round the grave
with a pot of water and a fire-brand, breaks the pot on the stone
before he retires. The widow of the deceased breaks her bangles, and
throws them on the grave. The son and other mourners bathe, and return
home, where they worship a lighted lamp. On the third day, dried twigs
of several species of Ficus and jak tree (Artocarpus integrifolia),
milk, a new cloth, plantains, tender cocoanuts, cheroots, raw rice,
betel, etc., required for worship, are taken to the grave. The twigs
are burnt, and reduced to ashes, with which, mixed with water, the
figure of a human being is made. It is covered with a new cloth,
and flowers are thrown on it. Puja is done to plantains, cocoanut,
etc., placed on a plantain leaf, and milk is poured over the figure by
relations and friends. The widow breaks her tali string, and throws it
on the figure. The son, and the four bearers who carried the corpse
to the grave, are shaved. Each of the bearers is made to stand up,
holding a pestle. The barber touches their shoulders with holy grass
dipped in gingelly (Sesamum) oil. Raw rice, and other eatables, are
sent to the houses of the bearers by the son of the deceased. At
night the cloths, turban, and other personal effects of the dead
man are worshipped. Pollution is removed on the eleventh day by a
Brahman sprinkling holy water, and the caste people are fed. They
perform sradh. By some Okkiliyans, the corpse is, like that of a
Lingayat Badaga, etc., carried to the burial-ground in a structure
called teru kattu, made of a bamboo framework surmounted by a canopy,
whereon are placed five brass vessels (kalasam). The structure is
decorated with cloths, flags, and plantain trees.

The Morasu Vakkaligas, who sacrifice their fingers, are dealt with
separately (see Morasu).

Olai.--A sub-division of Palli, the members of which wear an ear
ornament called olai.

Olaro.--A sub-division of Gadaba.

Olekara.--See Vilyakara.

Olikala (pyre and ashes).--An exogamous sept of Devanga.

Omanaito.--The Omanaitos or Omaitos are an Oriya cultivating caste,
for the following account of which I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana
Rao. According to a tradition, the ancestor of the caste was one
Amatya, a minister of Sri Rama at Ayodhya. After Rama had gone to
heaven, there was no one to take care of them, and they took to
agriculture. The caste is divided into two endogamous sections,
called Bodo (big) and Sanno (little). The latter are regarded as
illegitimate children of the former by a Bottada, Gaudo, or other
woman. The Bodo section is divided into septs, called Sva (parrot),
Bhag (tiger), Kochchimo (tortoise), Naga (cobra), Sila (stone), Dhudho
(milk), Kumda (Cucurbita maxima), and Kukru (dog).

The caste headman is called Bhatha Nayak, whose office is
hereditary. He arranges council meetings for settling social questions,
and takes a leading part in excommunicating members of the caste. Like
the Gonds, the Omanaitos cannot tolerate a man suffering from sores,
and he is formally excommunicated. To be received back into the caste,
he has to give a caste feast, of which the Bhatha Nayak is the first
to partake.

Girls are married before or after puberty. A man claims his paternal
aunt's daughter in marriage. As soon as a young man's parents think
it is time that he should get married, they set out, with some
sweets and jaggery (crude sugar), for the house of the paternal
aunt, where the hand of her daughter is asked for. A second visit
of a similar nature is made later on, when the marriage is decided
on. An auspicious day is fixed by the Desari. A messenger is sent to
the house of the bride-elect with some rice, three rupees, a sheep,
and a new cloth, which are presented to her parents, who invite the
bridegroom and his party to come on the appointed day. On that day,
the bridegroom is conducted in procession, sometimes on horseback,
to the bride's village. There, in front of her hut, a pandal (booth)
has been constructed of eight posts of the sal tree (Shorea robusta),
and a central post of the ippa (Bassia) tree, to which seven pieces of
turmeric and seven mango leaves are tied. At the auspicious moment, the
bridegroom is conducted in procession to the booth, and the messenger
says aloud to the paternal aunt "The bridegroom has come. Bring the
bride quickly." She stands by the side of the bridegroom, and the
Desari links together their little fingers, while the women throw
rice coloured with turmeric over them. Water, which has been brought
from the village stream at early morn, and coloured with turmeric,
is poured over the couple from five pots. They then dress themselves
in new cloths presented by their fathers-in-law. A feast is given by
the bride's party. On the following day, the bride is conducted to
the home of the bridegroom, at the entrance to which they are met by
the bridegroom's mother, who sprinkles rice coloured with turmeric
over them, and washes their feet with turmeric-water. Liquor is then
distributed, and a meal partaken of. The Desari takes seven grains
of rice and seven areca nuts and ties them up in the ends of the
cloths of the contracting couple. On the following day, a feast is
held, and, next day, the parties of the bride and bridegroom throw
turmeric-water over each other. All then repair to the stream, and
bathe. A feast follows, for which a sheep is killed.

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam District, that in
the course of an Omanaito wedding there is a free fight, with mud
for missiles.

The remarriage of widows is permitted, and a younger brother may marry
the widow of his elder brother. Divorce is allowed, and divorcées
may marry again.

The Omanaitos worship Takurani and Chamariya Devata, as priest of
whom a member of the caste officiates. An annual festival is held in
the month of Chaitro.

The dead are burnt. Pollution on account of a death in a family lasts
for ten days, during which the caste occupation is not carried out,
and the mourners are fed by people of another sept. On the eleventh
day a feast is held, at which liquor is forbidden.

The caste title, is usually Nayako, but the more prosperous take the
title Patro.

Ondipuli.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as
Telugu-speaking cultivators and cattle-breeders in the Salem
district. The name is sometimes applied to the beggars attached to
the Palli caste.

Onnam Parisha (first party).--A section of Elayad.

Onne (Pterocarpus Marsupium).--An exogamous sept of Toreyas, who are
not allowed to mark their foreheads with the juice which exudes from
the trunk of this tree.

Onteddu.--Onteddu or Onti-eddu is the name of a sub-division of
Ganigas or Gandlas, who only use one bullock for their oil-mills.

Opoto.--Opoto or Apoto is the name of the palanquin-bearing section
of Gaudos.

Oppamtara.--A title conferred by the Raja of Cochin on some Nayars.

Oppanakkaran (trader).--Telugu traders and agriculturists. Recorded
as a sub-division of Balija.

Oppomarango (Achyranthes aspera).--An exogamous sept of Bhondari,
the members of which may not use the root as a tooth-brush.

Ore.--An honorific title of Nayars.

Origabhakthudu (saluting devotee).--A class of mendicants, who are
said to beg only from Perikes.

Oriya.--Oriya, or Uriya, is a general term for those who speak
the Oriya language. At times of census, it has been recorded as a
sub-division of various castes, e.g., Sondi and Dhobi.

Oruganti.--A sub-division of Kapu and Mutracha.

Orunul (one string).--A sub-division of Marans, whose widows do
not remarry.

Oshtama.--A corrupt form of the word Vaishnava, applied to Satanis,
who are called by illiterate folk Oishnamaru or Oshtamaru.

Osta.--Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as the name
of a caste of barbers for Muhammadans.

Otattu (tile-makers).--An occupational name for Nayars, who tile or
thatch temples and Brahman houses.

Ottaisekkan.--The name, indicating those who work their oil-mill with
a single bullock, of a sub-division of Vaniyan.

Ottikunda (empty pot).--An exogamous sept of Kamma.



P


Paccha (green).--An exogamous sept of Kamma. The equivalent Pacchai
is a sub-division of Tamil Paraiyans, and of Malaiyalis who have
settled on the Pacchaimalais (green hills). Pacchi powaku (green
tobacco) occurs as an exogamous sept of Devanga. Pacchai Kutti is the
name given to Koravas who travel about the country as professional
tattooers, the operation of tattooing being known as pricking with
green. In like manner, Pacchai Botlu is the name for Oddes, who are
itinerant tattooers in the Ganjam, Vizagapatam, and Godavari districts.

Pachilia.--A sub-division of Oriya Gaudos.

Pada (fighting).--A sub-division of Nayar.

Padaharu Madala (sixteen madalas).--The name, indicating the amount
of the bride-price, of a section of Upparas. A madala is equal to two
rupees. Some say that the name has reference to the modas, or heaps
of earth, in which salt was formerly made.

Padaiyachi.--A synonym or title of Palli or Vanniyan, and Savalakkaran.

Padal.--A title of headmen of the Bagatas.

Padam.--Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a
sub-division of Nayar. Padamangalum or Padamangalakkar is also
recorded as a sub-division of Nayars, who escort processions in
temples. Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes that "Padamangalam and the
Tamil Padam are recorded as a division of Nayars, but they are said
to be immigrants to Travancore from the Tamil country." Padam also
occurs as an exogamous sept of Moosu Kamma.

Padarti.--A title of pujaris (priests) in South Canara, and a name
by which Stanikas are called.

Padavala (boat).--An exogamous sept of Devanga.

Padiga Raju.--Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, as the same as
Bhatrazu. The Padiga Rajulu are, however, beggars attached to the Padma
Sales, and apparently distinct from Bhatrazus. The name is probably
derived from padiga, a kind of vessel, and may bear reference to the
vessel which they carry with them on their begging expeditions.

Padma (lotus).--A sub-division of Velama.

Padma Sale.--The Padma (lotus) Sales are a Telugu-speaking caste
of weavers, who are scattered all over the Madras Presidency. The
majority are engaged in their hereditary occupation, but only the
minority possess looms of their own, and they work, for the most
part, for the more prosperous owners of hand-looms. As a class they
are poor, being addicted to strong drinks, and in the hands of the
money-lenders, who take care that their customers always remain in
debt to them. Like the Kaikolans, the Padma Sales weave the coarser
kinds of cotton cloths, and cannot compete with the Patnulkarans and
Khatres in the manufacture of the finer kinds.

The Padma Sales have only one gotra, Markandeya. But, like other
Telugu castes, they have a number of exogamous septs or intiperus,
of which the following are examples:--

Bandari, treasurer. Bomma, an idol. Canji, gruel. Chinthaginjala,
tamarind seeds. Gorantla, Lawsonia alba. Jinka, gazelle. Kalava,
ditch. Kasulu, copper coins. Kongara, crane. Kadavala, pots. Manchi,
good. Nili, indigo. Nukalu, flour of grain or pulse. Nyayam,
justice. Utla, rope for hanging pots. Pothu, male. Paththi,
cotton. Putta, ant-hill. Thelu, scorpion. Tangedla, Cassia
auriculata. Tumma, Acacia arabica. Avari, indigo plant. Chinnam,
gold? Gurram, horse. Geddam, beard. Kota, fort. Meda, raised mound
Middala, storeyed house. Mamidla, mango. Narala, nerves. Pula,
flowers. Sadhu, quiet or meek.

The Padma Sales profess to be Vaishnavites, but some are Saivites. All
the families of the exogamous sept Sadhu are said to be lingam-wearing
Saivites. In addition to their house-god Venkateswara, they worship
Pulikondla Rangaswami, Maremma, Durgamma, Narasappa, Sunkalamma,
Urukundhi Viranna, Gangamma, Kinkiniamma, Mutyalamma, Kalelamma,
Ankamma, and Padvetiamma. Their caste deity is Bhavana Rishi, to whom,
in some places, a special temple is dedicated. A festival in honour of
this deity is celebrated annually, during which the god and goddess
are represented by two decorated pots placed on a model of a tiger
(vyagra vahanam), to which, on the last day of the ceremonial, large
quantities of rice and vegetables are offered, which are distributed
among the loom-owners, pujari, headman, fasting celebrants, etc.

The Padma Sales belong to the right-hand, and the Devangas to the
left-hand faction, and the latter aver that the Padma Sales took away
the body of the goddess Chaudeswari, leaving them the head.

Three kinds of beggars are attached to the Padma Sales, viz.,
Sadhana Surulu, Padiga Rajulu or Koonapilli vandlu, and Inaka-mukku
Bhatrazus. Concerning the Sadhana Surulu, Buchanan writes as
follows. [184] "The Vaishnavite section of the Samay Sale is called
Padma Sale. The whole Shalay formerly wore the linga, but, a house
having been possessed by a devil, and this sect having been called
on to cast him out, all their prayers were of no avail. At length
ten persons, having thrown aside their linga, and offered up their
supplications to Vishnu, they succeeded in expelling the enemy, and
ever afterwards they followed the worship of this god, in which they
have been initiated by their brethren. The descendants of these men,
who are called Sadana Asholu (Sadana Surulu), or the celebrated heroes,
never work, and, having dedicated themselves to god, live upon the
charity of the industrious part of the caste, with whom they disdain
to marry."

The Padiga Rajulu are supposed to be the descendants of three persons,
Adigadu, Padigadu and Baludu, who sprang from the sweat of Bhavana
Rishi, and the following legend is current concerning the origin of
the Padma Sales and Padiga Rajulu. At the creation of the world,
men were naked, and one Markandeya, who was sixteen years old,
was asked to weave cloths. To enable him to do so, he did thapas
(penance), and from the sacred fire arose Bhavana Rishi, bearing a
bundle of thread obtained from the lotus which sprang from Vishnu's
navel. Bhavana Rishi made cloths, and presented them to the Devatas,
and offered a cloth to Bhairava also. This he refused to accept, as
it was the last, and not the first, which is usually rolled up, and
kept on the loom. Finding it unsuitable for wearing, Bhairava uttered a
curse that the cloths made should wear out in six months. Accordingly,
Siva asked Bhavana to procure him a tiger's skin for wearing. Narada
came to the assistance of Bhavana, and told him to go to Udayagiri,
where Bhadravati, the daughter of Surya, was doing penance to
secure Bhavana as her husband. She promised to secure a skin,
if he would marry her. To this he consented, and, in due course,
received the tiger's skin. Making the tiger his vahanam (vehicle),
he proceeded to the abode of Siva (Kailasam), and on his way thither
met a Rakshasa, whom he killed in a fight, in the course of which
he sweated profusely. From the sweat proceeded Adigadu, Padigadu,
and Baludu. When he eventually reached Siva, the tiger, on the sacred
ashes being thrown over it, cast its skin, which Siva appropriated. In
consequence of this legend, tigers are held in reverence by the Padma
Sales, who believe that they will not molest them.

The legendary origin of the Padma Sales is given as follows in the
Baramahal Records. [185] "In former days, the other sects of weavers
used annually to present a piece of cloth to a rishi or saint, named
Markandeyulu. One year they omitted to make their offering at the
customary period, which neglect enraged the rishi, who performed a
yaga or sacrifice of fire, and, by the power of mantras or prayers,
he caused a man to spring up out of the fire of the sacrifice,
and called him Padma Saliwarlu, and directed him to weave a piece
of cloth for his use. This he did, and presented it to the rishi,
saying 'Oh! Swami, who is thy servant to worship, and how is he to
obtain moksham or admittance to the presence of the Supreme?' The
rishi answered 'Pay adoration to me, and thou wilt obtain moksham.'"

The office of headman (Setti or Gaudu) is hereditary. The headman
has under him an assistant, called Ummidi Setti or Ganumukhi, who
is the caste messenger, and is exempt from the various subscriptions
for temple festivals, etc.

When a girl reaches puberty, she is forbidden to eat meat or
Amarantus during the period of ceremonial pollution. In settling
the preliminaries of a marriage, a Brahman purohit takes part. With
some Padma Sales it is etiquette not to give direct answers when a
marriage is being fixed up. For example, those who have come to seek
the hand of a girl say "We have come for a sumptuous meal," to which
the girl's parents, if consenting to the match, will reply "We are
ready to feed you. You are our near relations." The marriage rites are
a blend of the Canarese and Telugu types. In the Ceded districts, the
bride is conveyed to the house of the bridegroom, seated on a bull,
after worship has been done to Hanuman. As she enters the house,
a cocoanut is waved, and thrown on the ground. She then bathes in an
enclosure with four posts, round which cotton thread has been wound
nine times. Wrist-threads of cotton and wool are tied on the bride and
bridegroom. The bottu (marriage badge) is tied round the bride's neck,
and she stands on a pile of cholum (Sorghum vulgare: millet) on the
floor or in a basket. The bridegroom stands on a mill-stone. While the
bottu is being tied, a screen is interposed between the contracting
couple. The bride's nose-screw ornament is dropped into a plate of
milk, from which she has to pick it out five times. Towards evening,
the bridal couple go in procession through the streets, and to the
temple, if there is one. On their return to the house, the bridegroom
picks up the bride, and dances for a short time before entering. This
ceremony is called dega-ata, and is performed by several Telugu castes.

Some Padma Sales bury their dead in the usual manner, others, like
the Lingayats, in a sitting posture. It is customary, in some places,
to offer up a fowl to the corpse before it is removed from the house,
and, if a death occurs on a Saturday or Sunday, a fowl is tied to
the bier, and burnt with the corpse. This is done in the belief that
otherwise another death would very soon take place. The Tamilians, in
like manner, have a proverb "A Saturday corpse will not go alone." On
the way to the burial-ground, the corpse is laid down, and water
poured into the mouth. The son takes a pot of water round the grave,
and holes are made in it by the Ummidi Setti, through which the water
trickles out. On the fifth day, a sheep is killed, and eaten. During
the evening the Satani comes, and, after doing puja (worship), gives
the relatives of the deceased sacred arrack (liquor) in lieu of holy
water (thirtham) and meat, for which he receives payment. On the last
day of the death ceremonies (karmandiram), the Satani again comes with
arrack, and, according to a note before me, all get drunk. (See Sale.)

Pagadala (trader in coral).--A sub-division or exogamous sept of
Balija and Kavarai. The Pagadala Balijas of the Vizagapatam district
are described as dealing in coral and pearls. Pagada Mukara (coral
nose-ring) has been returned as a sub-division of Kamma.

Pagati Vesham.--A class of Telugu beggars, who put on disguises
(vesham) while begging. [186] At the annual festival at Tirupati in
honour of the goddess Gangamma, custom requires the people to appear
in a different disguise every morning and evening. These disguises
include those of a Bairagi, serpent, etc. [187]

Paguththan.--A title of Sembadavan.

Paida (gold or money).--An exogamous sept of Mala. The equivalent
Paidam occurs as an exogamous sept of Devanga.

Paidi--The Paidis are summed up, in the Madras Census Report,
1891, as "a class of agricultural labourers and weavers, found in
the Vizagapatam district. Some of them are employed as servants and
village watchmen. They are closely akin to the Panos and Dombos of
the hills, and Malas of the plains. They speak a corrupt dialect of
Uriya." In the Census Report, 1901, Kangara (servant) is recorded as
a synonym for Paidi.

For the following note on the Paidis of the Vizagapatam district,
I am mainly indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. There is a great deal
of confusion concerning this caste, and the general impression seems
to be that it is the same as Domb and Pano. I am informed that the
same man would be called Paidi by Telugus, Domb by the Savaras, and
Pano by the Konds. In the interior of the Jeypore Agency tracts the
Dombs and Paidis both repudiate the suggestion that they are connected
with each other. The Paidis, in some places, claim to belong to the
Valmiki kulam, and to be descended from Valmiki, the author of the
Ramayana. A similar descent, it may be noted, is claimed by the
Boyas. In the Vizagapatam Manual, the Paidimalalu or Paidi Malas
(hill Malas) are described as cultivating land, serving as servants
and village watchmen, and spinning cotton. It is said that they will
not eat food, which has been seen by Komatis. The Paidis stoutly deny
their connection with the Malas.

When a Paidi girl reaches puberty, she is kept under pollution for a
varying number of days, and, on the last day, a Madiga is summoned,
who cuts her finger and toe nails, after which she bathes. Girls are
married either before or after puberty. The menarikam custom is in
force, according to which a man should marry his maternal uncle's
daughter. If he does so, the bride-price (voli) is fixed at five
rupees; otherwise it is ten rupees. The marriage ceremonies last over
four days, and are of the low-country Telugu type. The remarriage of
widows and divorce are permitted.

The Paidis are Vaishnavites, and sing songs in praise of Rama during
the month Karthika (November-December). Each family feeds a few of
the castemen at least once during that month. They also observe the
Sankramanam festival, at which they usually wear new clothes. The
dead are either burnt or buried, and the chinna (small) and pedda rozu
(big day) death ceremonies are observed.

Some Paidis are cultivators, but a large number are prosperous traders,
buying up the hill produce, and bringing it to the low-country,
where it is sold at markets. Their children study English in the hill
schools. The caste titles are Anna and Ayya.

Some time ago some prisoners, who called themselves Billaikavu
(cat-eaters), were confined in the Vizagapatam jail. I am informed
that these people are Mala Paidis, who eat cat flesh.

The following note refers to the Paidis who live in the southern part
of Ganjam. Some have settled as watchmen, or in other capacities,
among the Savaras, whose language they speak in addition to their
own. In their marriage ceremonies, they conform to the Telugu type,
with certain variations adopted from the Oriya ceremonial. On the
first day, a pandal (booth) is set up, and supported on twelve
posts. A feast is given to males during the day, and to females at
night. Like the Oriya Dandasis, they bring water from seven houses
of members of castes superior to their own. The auspicious time for
tying the pushte (gold marriage badge) on the following day is fixed
so as to fall during the night. At the appointed time, the bridegroom
rushes into the house of the bride, and the contracting couple throw
rice over each other. Taking the bride by the hand, the bridegroom
conducts her to the pandal, wherein they take their seats on the
dais. The bride should be seated before the bridegroom, and there is
a mock struggle to prevent this, and to secure first place for the
bridegroom. He then ties a mokkuto (chaplet) on the bride's forehead,
a thread on her wrist, and the pushte on her neck. After this has been
done, the couple bathe with the water already referred to, and once
more come to the dais, where a small quantity of rice, sufficient to
fill a measure called adda, is placed before them. Some amusement is
derived from the bride abstracting a portion of the rice, so that,
when the bridegroom measures it, there is less than there should
be. The marriage ceremonies conclude on the third day with offerings
to ancestors, and distribution of presents to the newly married couple.

The death ceremonies are based on the Oriya type. On the day after
death, the funeral pyre is extinguished, and the ashes are thrown on
to a tree or an ant-hill. As they are being borne thither, the priest
asks the man who carries them what has become of the dead person,
and he is expected to reply that he has gone to Kasi (Benares) or
Jagannatham. A cloth is spread on the spot where the corpse was burnt,
and offerings of food are placed on it. On the fourth day, a pig is
killed and cooked. Before being cooked, one of the legs is hung up near
the spot where the deceased breathed his last. Death pollution is got
rid of by touching oil and turmeric, and the ceremonies conclude with a
feast. An annual offering of food is made, in the month of November, to
ancestors, unless a death takes place in the family during this month.

The Ganjam Paidis worship the Takuranis (village deities), and
sacrifice goats and sheep at local temples. As they are a polluting
caste, they stand at a distance opposite the entrance to the temple,
and, before they retire, take a pinch or two of earth. This, on their
return home, they place on a cloth spread on a spot which has been
cleansed, and set before it the various articles which have been
prepared as offerings to the Takurani. When a Paidi is seriously
ill, a male or female sorcerer (Bejjo or Bejjano) is consulted. A
square, divided into sixteen compartments, is drawn on the floor
with rice-flour. In each compartment are placed a leaf, cup of Butea
frondosa, a quarter-anna piece, and some food. Seven small bows and
arrows are set up in front thereof in two lines. On one side of the
square a big cup, filled with food, is placed. A fowl is sacrificed,
and its blood poured thrice round this cup. Then, placing water
in a vessel near the cup, the sorcerer or sorceress throws into it
a grain of rice, giving out at the same time the name of some god
or goddess. If the rice sinks, it is believed that the illness is
caused by the anger of the deity, whose name has been mentioned. If
the rice floats, the names of various deities are called out, until
a grain sinks.

It is recorded [188] that, in the Parvatipur country of the Vizagapatam
district, "the Paidis (Paidi Malas) do most of the crime, and often
commit dacoities on the roads. Like the Konda Doras, they have induced
some of the people to employ watchmen of their caste as the price
of immunity from theft. They are connected with the Dombus of the
Rayagada and Gunupur taluks, who are even worse."

Paik.--It is noted by Yule and Burnell, [189] under the heading Pyke
or Paik, that "Wilson gives only one original of the term so expressed
in Anglo-Indian speech. He writes 'Paik or Payik, corruptly Pyke,
Hind., etc. (from S. padatika), Paik or Payak, Mar., a footman, an
armed attendant, an inferior police and revenue officer, a messenger, a
courier, a village watchman. In Cuttack the Paiks formerly constituted
a local militia, holding land of the Zamindars or Rajas by the tenure
of military service.' But it seems clear to us that there are here
two terms rolled together: (a) Pers. Paik, a foot-runner or courier;
(b) Hind. paik and payik (also Mahr.) from Skt. padatika, and padika,
a foot-soldier."

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Paiko is defined as "rather an
occupational than a caste name. It means a foot-soldier, and is
used to denote the retainers of the Uriya Chiefs of Ganjam and
Vizagapatam. These men were granted lands on feudal tenure, and
belonged to various castes. They are now ordinary agriculturists. Some
are employed in the police, and as peons in the various public
departments." In the records relating to human sacrifice and
infanticide, 1854, the Paiks are referred to as matchlock men,
by whom the Konds and Gonds are kept in abject servitude. In the
Vizagapatam Manual, 1869, various castes are referred to as being
"all paiks or fighting men. Formerly they were a very numerous body,
but their numbers are much diminished now, that is as fighting men,
for the old army used to be paid, some in money, and some in grants
of land. Now there are very few paiks kept up as fighting men; those
discharged from service have taken to trading with the coast, and to
cultivating their pieces of land. The fort at Kotapad on the Bustar
frontier always had a standing garrison of several hundred paiks. They
are gradually being disbanded since we have put police there. The men
are a fine race, brave, and capital shots with the matchlock." Paiko
has been recorded, at times of census, as a synonym or sub-division
of Rona. And Paikarayi occurs as a title of Badhoyis.

Paiki.--A division of Toda.

Pailman.--Pailman or Pailwan has been described [190] as "an
occupational term meaning a wrestler, used by all classes following
the occupation, whether they are Hindus or Musalmans. The Hindus
among them are usually Gollas or Jettis." In the Telugu country,
the Pailmans wrestle, and perform various mountebank, conjuring,
and juggling feats. A wandering troupe of Maratha Pailwans performed
before me various stick-exercises, acrobatic and contortionist feats,
and balancing feats on a bamboo pole supported in the kamerband
(belly-band) of a veteran member of the troupe. The performance wound
up with gymnastics on a lofty pole kept erect by means of ropes tied
to casual trees and tent-pegs, and surmounted by a pliant bamboo, on
which the performer swung and balanced himself while playing a drum,
or supporting a pile of earthen pots surmounted by a brass vessel
on his head. The entertainment took place amid the music of drum
and clarionet, and the patter of one of the troupe, the performers
playing the drum in the waits between their turns.

Painda.--A synonym of Paidi.

Pakanati (eastern territory).--A sub-division of various Telugu
classes, e.g., Balija, Golla, Kamsala, Kapu, Mala, and Tsakala.

Paki.--Recorded by the Rev. J. Cain [191] as a sweeper caste in the
Godavari district, members of which have come from the neighbourhood
of Vizagapatam, and are great sticklers for their caste rules.

Pakinadu.--A territorial sub-division of Kamsalas and other Telugu
castes, corresponding to Pakanati.

Pakirithi.--Pakirithi or Parigiri, meaning Vaishnavite, is a
sub-division of Besthas, who, on ceremonial occasions, wear the
Vaishnava sect mark.

Pal (milk).--Pal or Pala has been recorded as a sub-division of
Idaiyan and Kurumba, and an exogamous sept of Mala. (See Halu.)

Palakala (planks).--An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Palamala.--Palama is recorded as a sub-division of the Kanikars of
Travancore and Palamalathillom, said to denote the mountain with
trees with milky juice, as an exogamous sept of the same tribe.

Palavili.--A gotra of Gollas, who are not allowed to erect palavili,
or small booths inside the house for the purpose of worship.

Palayakkaran.--See Mutracha.

Paligiri.--A sub-division of Mutracha.

Palissa (shield) Kollan.--A class of Kollans in Malabar, who make
leather shields. It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that,
at the tali-kettu ceremony, "the girl and manavalan (bridegroom)
go to the tank on the last day of the ceremony. The girl, standing
in the tank, ducks her whole body under water thrice. As she does
so for the third time, a pandibali or triangular platter made of
cocoanut fronds and pieces of plantain stem and leaf plaited together
and adorned with five lighted wicks, is thrown over her into the
water, and cut in half as it floats by an enangan, who sings a song
called Kalikkakam. Lastly, the girl chops in two a cocoanut placed
on the bank. She aims two blows at it, and failure to sever it with
a third is considered inauspicious. Among Palissa Kollans and some
other castes, the lucky dip ceremony is performed on the last day
(called nalam kalyanam or fourth marriage). An enangan, drawing out
the packets at random, distributes them to the manavalan, the girl,
and himself in turn. It is lucky for the manavalan to get the gold,
and the girl the silver. A significant finish to the ceremony in
the form of a symbolical divorce is not infrequent in South Malabar
at all events. Thus, among the Palissa Kollans the manavalan takes a
piece of thread from his mundu (cloth), and gives it, saying 'Here is
your sister's accharam' to the girl's brother, who breaks it in two
and puffs it towards him. In other cases, the manavalan gives the
girl a cloth on the first day, and cuts it in two, giving her one
half on the last; or the manavalan and an enangan of the girl hold
opposite ends of a cloth, which the manavalan cuts and tears in two,
and then gives both pieces to the girl."

Paliyans of Madura and Tinnevelly. In a note on the Malai (hill)
Paliyans of the Madura district, the Rev. J. E. Tracy writes
as follows. "I went to their village at the foot of the Periyar
hills, and can testify to their being the most abject, hopeless, and
unpromising specimens of humanity that I have ever seen. There were
about forty of them in the little settlement, which was situated in
a lovely spot. A stream of pure water was flowing within a few feet
of their huts, and yet they were as foul and filthy in their personal
appearance as if they were mere animals, and very unclean ones. Rich
land that produced a luxuriant crop of rank reeds was all around
them, and, with a little exertion on their part, might have been
abundantly irrigated, and produced continuous crops of grain. Yet
they lived entirely on nuts and roots, and various kinds of gum that
they gathered in the forest on the slopes of the hills above their
settlement. Only two of the community had ever been more than seven
miles away from their village into the open country below them. Their
huts were built entirely of grass, and consisted of only one room each,
and that open at the ends. The chief man of the community was an old
man with white hair. His distinctive privilege was that he was allowed
to sleep between two fires at night, while no one else was allowed
to have but one--a distinction that they were very complaisant about,
perhaps because with the distinction was the accompanying obligation
to see that the community's fire never went out. As he was also
the only man in the community who was allowed to have two wives,
I inferred that he delegated to them the privilege of looking after
the fires, while he did the sleeping, whereas, in other families,
the man and wife had to take turn and turn about to see that the fire
had not to be re-lighted in the morning. They were as ignorant as they
were filthy. They had no place of worship, but seemed to agree that
the demons of the forest around them were the only beings that they
had to fear besides the Forest Department. They were barely clothed,
their rags being held about them, in one or two cases, with girdles of
twisted grass. They had much the same appearance that many a famine
subject presented in the famine of 1877, but they seemed to have had
no better times to look back upon, and hence took their condition
as a matter of course. The forest had been their home from time
immemorial. Yet the forest seemed to have taught them nothing more
than it might have been supposed to have taught the prowling jackal
or the laughing hyæna. There were no domesticated animals about their
place: strange to say, not even a pariah dog. They appeared to have
no idea of hunting, any more than they had of agriculture. And, as
for any ideas of the beauty or solemnity of the place that they had
selected as their village site, they were as innocent of such things
as they were of the beauties of Robert Browning's verse."

In a note written in 1817, Mr. T. Turnbull states that the Madura
Pulliers "are never seen unless when they come down to travellers
to crave a piece of tobacco or a rag of cloth, for which they have a
great predilection. The women are said to lay their infants on warm
ashes after delivery, as a substitute for warm clothing and beds."

The Palayans, or Pulleer, are described by General Burton [192] as
"good trackers, and many of them carried bows and arrows, and a few
even possessed matchlocks. I met one of these villagers going out on
a sporting excursion. He had on his head a great chatty (earthen pot)
full of water, and an old brass-bound matchlock. It was the height
of the dry season. He was taking water to a hollow in a rock, which
he kept carefully replenished, and then ensconced himself in a clump
of bushes hard by, and waited all day, if necessary, with true native
patience, for hog, deer, or pea-fowl to approach his ambush."

In the Madura Manual, it is noted that "the Poleiyans have always been
the prædial slaves of the Kunuvans. According to the survey account,
they are the aborigines of the Palni hills. The marriage ceremony
consists merely of a declaration of consent made by both parties at
a feast, to which all their relatives are invited. As soon as a case
of small-pox occurs in one of their villages, a cordon is drawn round
it, and access to other villages is denied to all the inhabitants
of the infected locality, who at once desert their homes, and camp
out for a sufficiently long period. The individual attacked is left
to his fate, and no medicine is exhibited to him, as it is supposed
that the malady is brought on solely by the just displeasure of the
gods. They bury their dead."

The Paliyans are described, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district,
as a "very backward caste, who reside in small scattered parties
amid the jungles of the Upper Palnis and the Varushanad valley. They
speak Tamil with a peculiar intonation, which renders it scarcely
intelligible. They are much less civilised than the Pulaiyans, but do
not eat beef, and consequently carry no pollution. They sometimes build
themselves grass huts, but often they live on platforms up trees, in
caves, or under rocks. Their clothes are of the scantiest and dirtiest,
and are sometimes eked out with grass or leaves. They live upon roots
(yams), leaves, and honey. They cook the roots by putting them into
a pit in the ground, heaping wood upon them, and lighting it. The
fire is usually kept burning all night as a protection against wild
beasts, and it is often the only sign of the presence of the Paliyans
in a jungle, for they are shy folk, who avoid other people. They make
fire with quartz and steel, using the floss of the silk-cotton tree as
tinder. Weddings are conducted without ceremonies, the understanding
being that the man shall collect food and the woman cook it. When
one of them dies, the rest leave the body as it is, and avoid the
spot for some months.

A detailed account of the Paliyans of the Palni hills by the
Rev. F. Dahmen has recently been published, [193] to which I am
indebted for the following information. "The Paliyans are a nomadic
tribe, who for the most part rove in small parties through the
jungle-clad gorges that fringe the Upper Palnis plateau. There they
maintain themselves mostly on the products of the chase and on roots
(yams, etc.), leaves and wild fruits (e.g., of the wild date tree),
at times also by hiring their labour to the Kunnuvan or Mannadi
villagers. The find of a bee-hive in the hollow of some tree is a
veritable feast for them. No sooner have they smoked the bees out
than they greedily snatch at the combs, and ravenously devour them
on the spot, with wax, grubs, and all. Against ailments the Paliyans
have their own remedies: in fact, some Paliyans have made a name for
themselves by their knowledge of the medicinal properties of herbs and
roots. Thus, for instance, they make from certain roots (periya uri
katti ver) a white powder known as a very effective purgative. Against
snake-bite they always carry with them certain leaves (naru valli ver),
which they hold to be a very efficient antidote. As soon as one of them
is bitten, he chews these, and also applies them to the wound. Patience
and cunning above all are required in their hunting-methods. One of
their devices, used for big game, e.g., against the sambar (deer), or
against the boar, consists in digging pitfalls, carefully covered up
with twigs and leaves. On the animal being entrapped, it is dispatched
with clubs or the aruval (sickle). Another means consists in arranging
a heap of big stones on a kind of platform, one end of which is made
to rest on higher ground, the other skilfully equipoised by a stick
resting on a fork, where it remains fixed by means of strong twine so
disposed that the least movement makes the lever-like stick on the
fork fly off, while the platform and the stones come rapidly down
with a crash. The string which secures the lever is so arranged as
to unloose itself at the least touch, and the intended victim can
hardly taste the food that serves for bait without bringing the
platform with all its weight down upon itself. Similar traps, but
on a smaller scale, are used to catch smaller animals: hares, wild
fowl, etc. Flying squirrels are smoked out of the hollows of trees,
and porcupines out of their burrows, and then captured or clubbed to
death on their coming out. The first drops of blood of any animal the
Paliyans kill are offered to their god. A good catch is a great boon
for the famished Paliyan. The meat obtained therefrom must be divided
between all the families of the settlement. The skins, if valuable,
are preserved to barter for the little commodities they may stand in
need of, or to give as a tribute to their chief. One of their methods
for procuring fish consists in throwing the leaves of a creeper called
in Tamil karungakodi, after rubbing them, into the water. Soon the
fish is seen floating on the surface. Rough fashioned hooks are also
used. When not engaged on some expedition, or not working for hire,
the Paliyans at times occupy themselves in the fabrication of small
bird-cages, or in weaving a rough kind of mat, or in basket-making. The
small nicknacks they turn out are made according to rather ingenious
patterns, and partly coloured with red and green vegetable dyes. These,
with the skins of animals, and the odoriferous resin collected from
the dammer tree, are about the only articles which they barter or
sell to the inhabitants of the plains, or to the Mannadis."

Concerning the religion and superstitions of the Paliyans, the
Rev. F. Dahmen writes as follows. "The principal religious ceremony
takes place about the beginning of March. Mayandi (the god) is usually
represented by a stone, preferably one to which nature has given
some curious shape, the serpent form being especially valued. I said
'represented,' for, according to our Paliyans, the stone itself is not
the god, who is supposed to live somewhere, they do not exactly know
where. The stone that represents him has its shrine at the foot of
a tree, or is simply sheltered by a small thatched covering. There,
on the appointed day, the Paliyans gather before sunrise. Fire is
made in a hole in front of the sacred stone, a fine cock brought in,
decapitated amidst the music of horn and drum and the blood made to
drip on the fire. The head of the fowl ought to be severed at one
blow, as this is a sign of the satisfaction of the god for the past,
and of further protection for the future. Should the head still
hang, this would be held a bad omen, foreboding calamities for
the year ensuing. The instrument used in this sacred operation is
the aruval, but the sacrificial aruval cannot be used but for this
holy purpose. Powers of witchcraft and magic are attributed to the
Paliyans by other castes, and probably believed in by themselves. The
following device adopted by them to protect themselves from the
attacks of wild animals, the panther in particular, may be given as an
illustration. Four jackals' tails are planted in four different spots,
chosen so as to include the area within which they wish to be safe
from the claws of the brute. This is deemed protection enough: though
panthers should enter the magic square, they could do the Paliyans
no harm; their mouths are locked." It is noted by the Rev. F. Dahmen
that Paliyans sometimes go on a pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine of
Subrahmaniyam at Palni.

Writing concerning the Paliyans who live on the Travancore frontier
near Shenkotta, Mr. G. F. D'Penha states [194] that they account for
their origin by saying that, at some very remote period, an Eluvan
took refuge during a famine in the hills, and there took to wife
a Palliyar woman, and that the Palliyars are descended from these
two. "The Palliyar," he continues, "is just a shade lower than the
Eluvan. He is permitted to enter the houses of Eluvans, Elavanians
(betel-growers), and even of Maravars, and in the hills, where the
rigour of the social code is relaxed to suit circumstances, the
higher castes mentioned will even drink water given by Palliyars,
and eat roots cooked by them. The Palliyars regard sylvan deities
with great veneration. Kurupuswami is the tribe's tutelary god, and,
when a great haul of wild honey is made, offerings are given at some
shrine. They pretend to be followers of Siva, and always attend the Adi
Amavasai ceremonies at Courtallum. The Palliyar cultivates nothing,
not even a sweet potato. He keeps no animal, except a stray dog or
two. An axe, a knife, and a pot are all the impedimenta he carries. An
expert honey-hunter, he will risk his neck climbing lofty precipices
or precipitous cliffs. A species of sago-palm furnishes him with a
glairy glutinous fluid on which he thrives, and such small animals
as the iguana (Varanus), the tortoise, and the larvae of hives are
never-failing luxuries."

The Paliyans, whom I investigated in North Tinnevelly, were living
in the jungles near the base of the mountains, in small isolated
communities separated from each other by a distance of several
miles. They speak Tamil with a peculiar intonation, which recalls
to mind the Irulas. They are wholly illiterate, and only a few can
count up to ten. A woman has been known to forget her own name. At
a marriage, the father, taking the hand of the bride, and putting it
into that of the bridegroom, says "I give this girl to you. Give her
roots and leaves, and protect her." The value of a bride or bridegroom
depends very much on the quantity of roots, etc., which he or she can
collect. When a widow does not remarry, the males of the community
supply her with roots and other products of the jungle. Marriages
are, as a rule, contracted within the settlement, and complications
occasionally occur owing to the absence of a girl of suitable age for
a young man. Indeed, in one settlement I came across two brothers, who
had for this reason resorted to the adelphous form of polyandry. It
would be interesting to note hereafter if this custom, thus casually
introduced, becomes established in the tribe. As an exception to the
rule of marriage within the settlement, it was noted that a party
of Paliyans had wandered from the Gandamanaikanur forests to the
jungle of Ayanarkoil, and there intermarried with the members of the
local tribe, with which they became incorporated. The Paliyans admit
members of other castes into their ranks. A case was narrated to me,
in which a Maravan cohabited for some time with a Paliya woman, who
bore children by him. In this way is the purity of type among the
jungle tribes lost as the result of civilisation, and their nasal
index reduced from platyrhine to mesorhine dimensions.

The Tinnevelly Paliyans say that Valli, the wife of the god
Subramaniya, was a Paliyan woman. As they carry no pollution, they
are sometimes employed, in return for food, as night watchmen at
the Vaishnavite temple known as Azhagar Koil at the base of the
hills. They collect for the Forest Department minor produce in the
form of root-bark of Ventilago madraspatana and Anisochilus carnosus,
the fruit of Terminalia Chebula (myrabolams), honey, bees-wax, etc.,
which are handed over to a contractor in exchange for rice, tobacco,
betel leaves and nuts, chillies, tamarinds and salt. The food thus
earned as wages is supplemented by yams (tubers of Dioscorea) and
roots, which are dug up with a digging-stick, and forest fruits. They
implicitly obey the contractor, and it was mainly through his influence
that I was enabled to interview them, and measure their bodies, in
return for a banquet, whereof they partook seated on the grass in
two semicircles, the men in front and women in the rear, and eating
off teak leaf plates piled high with rice and vegetables. Though
the prodigious mass of food provided was greedily devoured till
considerable abdominal distension was visible, dissatisfaction was
expressed because it included no meat (mutton), and I had not brought
new loin-cloths for them. They laughed, however, when I expressed a
hope that they would abandon their dirty cloths, turkey-red turbans
and European bead necklaces, and revert to the primitive leafy garment
of their forbears. A struggle ensued for the limited supply of sandal
paste, with which a group of men smeared their bodies, in imitation
of the higher classes, before they were photographed. A feast given
to the Paliyans by some missionaries was marred at the outset by the
unfortunate circumstance that betel and tobacco were placed by the
side of the food, these articles being of evil omen as they are placed
in the grave with the dead. A question whether they eat beef produced
marked displeasure, and even roused an apathetic old woman to grunt
"Your other questions are fair. You have no right to ask that." If a
Paliyan happens to come across the carcase of a cow or buffalo near a
stream, it is abandoned, and not approached for a long time. Leather
they absolutely refuse to touch, and one of them declined to carry
my camera box, because he detected that it had a leather strap.

They make fire with a quartz strike-a-light and steel and the floss
of the silk-cotton tree (Bombax malabaricum). They have no means
of catching or killing animals, birds, or fish with nets, traps, or
weapons, but, if they come across the carcase of a goat or deer in the
forest, they will roast and eat it. They catch "vermin" (presumably
field rats) by smoking them out of their holes, or digging them out
with their digging-sticks. Crabs are caught for eating by children,
by letting a string with a piece of cloth tied to the end down the
hole, and lifting it out thereof when the crab seizes hold of the
cloth with its claws. Of wild beasts they are not afraid, and scare
them away by screaming, clapping the hands, and rolling down stones
into the valleys. I saw one man, who had been badly mauled by a tiger
on the buttock and thigh when he was asleep with his wife and child in
a cave. During the dry season they live in natural caves and crevices
in rocks, but, if these leak during the rains, they erect a rough shed
with the floor raised on poles off the ground, and sloping grass roof,
beneath which a fire is kept burning at night, not only for warmth,
but also to keep off wild beasts. They are expert at making rapidly
improvised shelters at the base of hollow trees by cutting away the
wood on one side with a bill-hook. Thus protected, they were quite
snug and happy during a heavy shower, while we were miserable amid
the drippings from an umbrella and a mango tree.

Savari is a common name among the Tinnevelly Paliyans as among other
Tamils. It is said to be a corruption of Xavier, but Savari or Sabari
are recognised names of Siva and Parvati. There is a temple called
Savarimalayan on the Travancore boundary, whereat the festival takes
place at the same time as the festival in honour of St. Xavier among
Roman Catholics. The women are very timid in the presence of Europeans,
and suffer further from hippophobia; the sight of a horse, which they
say is as tall as a mountain, like an elephant, producing a regular
stampede into the depths of the jungle. They carry their babies
slung in a cloth on the back, and not astride the hips according to
the common practice of the plains. The position, in confinement, is
to sit on a rock with legs dependent. Many of these Paliyans suffer
from jungle fever, as a protection against which they wear a piece
of turmeric tied round the neck. The dead are buried, and a stone is
placed on the grave, which is never re-visited.

Like other primitive tribes, the Paliyans are short of stature
and dolichocephalic, and the archaic type of nose persists in some
individuals.

Average height 150.9 cm. Nasal index 83 (max. 100).

Pallan.--The Pallans are "a class of agricultural labourers found
chiefly in Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madura and Tinnevelly. They are also
fairly numerous in parts of Salem and Coimbatore, but in the remaining
Tamil districts they are found only in very small numbers." [195]

The name is said to be derived from pallam, a pit, as they were
standing on low ground when the castes were originally formed. It
is further suggested that the name may be connected with the
wet cultivation, at which they are experts, and which is always
carried out on low ground. In the Manual of the Madura district
(1868), the Pallans are described as "a very numerous, but a most
abject and despised race, little, if indeed at all, superior to the
Paraiyas. Their principal occupation is ploughing the lands of more
fortunate Tamils, and, though nominally free, they are usually slaves
in almost every sense of the word, earning by the ceaseless sweat
of their brow a bare handful of grain to stay the pangs of hunger,
and a rag with which to partly cover their nakedness. They are to be
found in almost every village, toiling and moiling for the benefit
of Vellalans and others, and with the Paraiyas doing patiently nearly
all the hard and dirty work that has to be done. Personal contact with
them is avoided by all respectable men, and they are never permitted
to dwell within the limits of a village nattam. Their huts form a
small detached hamlet, the Pallacheri, removed from a considerable
distance from the houses of the respectable inhabitants, and barely
separated from that of the Paraiyas, the Parei-cheri. The Pallans
are said by some to have sprung from the intercourse of a Sudra and
a Brahman woman. Others say Devendra created them for the purpose of
labouring in behalf of Vellalans. Whatever may have been their origin,
it seems to be tolerably certain that in ancient times they were the
slaves of the Vellalans, and regarded by them merely as chattels, and
that they were brought by the Vellalans into the Pandya-mandala." Some
Pallans say that they are, like the Kallans, of the lineage of Indra,
and that their brides wear a wreath of flowers in token thereof. They
consider themselves superior to Paraiyans and Chakkiliyans, as they
do not eat beef.

It is stated in the Manual of Tanjore (1883) that the "Pallan and
Paraiya are rival castes, each claiming superiority over the other; and
a deadly and never-ending conflict in the matter of caste privileges
exists between them. They are prædial labourers, and are employed
exclusively in the cultivation of paddy (rice) lands. Their women
are considered to be particularly skilled in planting and weeding,
and, in most parts of the delta, they alone are employed in those
operations. The Palla women expose their body above the waist--a
distinctive mark of their primitive condition of slavery, of which,
however, no trace now exists." It is noted by Mr. G. T. Mackenzie
[196] that "in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the female
converts to Christianity in the extreme south ventured, contrary to
the old rules for the lower castes, to clothe themselves above the
waist. This innovation was made the occasion for threats, violence,
and a series of disturbances. Similar disturbances arose from the same
cause nearly thirty years later, and, in 1859, Sir Charles Trevelyan,
Governor of Madras, interfered, and granted permission to the women
of lower caste to wear a cloth over the breasts and shoulders."

In connection with disputes between the right-hand and left-hand
factions, it is stated [197] that "whatever the origin of the factions,
feeling still runs very high, especially between the Pallans and the
Paraiyans. The violent scenes which occurred in days gone by [198]
no longer occur, but quarrels occur when questions of precedence
arise (as when holy food is distributed at festivals to the village
goddesses), or if a man of one faction takes a procession down a
street inhabited chiefly by members of the other. In former times,
members of the opposite faction would not live in the same street,
and traces of this feeling are still observable. Formerly also the
members of one faction would not salute those of the other, however
much their superiors in station; and the menials employed at funerals
(Paraiyans, etc.) would not salute the funeral party if it belonged
to the rival faction."

In the Coimbatore Manual it is noted that "the Pallan has in all
times been a serf, labouring in the low wet lands (pallam) for his
masters, the Brahmans and Goundans. The Pallan is a stout, shortish
black man, sturdy, a meat-eater, and not over clean in person or
habit; very industrious in his favourite wet lands. He is no longer a
serf." The occupations of the Pallans, whom I examined at Coimbatore,
were cultivator, gardener, cooly, blacksmith, railway porter, tandal
(tax-collector, etc.), and masalchi (office peon, who looks after
lamps, ink-bottles, etc.). Some Pallans are maniyagarans (village
munsifs or magistrates).

In some places a Pallan family is attached to a land-holder, for
whom they work, and, under ordinary conditions, they do not change
masters. The attachment of the Pallan to a particular individual is
maintained by the master paying a sum of money as an advance, which
the Pallan is unable to repay.

The Pallans are the Jati Pillais of the Pandya Kammalans, or Kammalans
of the Madura country. The story goes that a long while ago the
headman of the Pallans came begging to the Kollan section of the
Pandya Kammalans, which was employed in the manufacture of ploughs
and other agricultural implements, and said "Worshipful sirs, we are
destitute to the last degree. If you would but take pity on us, we
would become your slaves. Give us ploughs and other implements, and
we shall ever afterwards obey you." The Kollans, taking pity on them,
gave them the implements and they commenced an agricultural life. When
the harvest was over, they brought the best portion of the crop,
and gave it to the Kollans. From that time, the Pallans became the
"sons" of the Pandya Kammalans, to whom even now they make offerings
in gratitude for a bumper crop.

At times of census the Pallans return a number of sub-divisions,
and there is a proverb that one can count the number of varieties of
rice, but it is impossible to count the divisions of the Pallans. As
examples of the sub-divisions, the following may be quoted:--


    Aiya, father.
    Amma, mother.
    Anja, father.
    Atta, mother.
    Devendra.--The sweat of Devendra, the king of gods, is said to
    have fallen on a plant growing in water from which arose a child,
    who is said to have been the original ancestor of the Pallans.
    Kadaiyan, lowest or last.
    Konga.--The Kongas of Coimbatore wear a big marriage tali, said to
    be the emblem of Sakti, while the other sections wear a small tali.
    Manganadu, territorial.
    Sozhia, territorial.
    Tondaman, territorial.


These sub-divisions are endogamous, and Aiya and Amma Pallans of the
Sivaganga zemindari and adjacent parts of the Madura district possess
exogamous septs or kilais, which, like those of the Maravans, Kallans,
and some other castes, run in the female line. Children belong to
the same kilai as that of their mother and maternal uncle, and not
of their father.

The headman of the Pallans is, in the Madura country, called
Kudumban, and he is assisted by a Kaladi, and, in large settlements,
by a caste messenger entitled Variyan, who summons people to attend
council-meetings, festivals, marriages and funerals. The offices of
Kudumban and Kaladi are hereditary. When a family is under a ban of
excommunication, pending enquiry, the caste people refuse to give them
fire, and otherwise help them, and even the barber and washerman are
not permitted to work for them. As a sign of excommunication, a bunch
of leafy twigs of margosa (Melia Azadirachta) is stuck in the roof
over the entrance to the house. Restoration to caste necessitates
a purificatory ceremony, in which cow's urine is sprinkled by the
Variyan. When a woman is charged with adultery, the offending man
is brought into the midst of the assembly, and tied to a harrow or
hoeing plank. The woman has to carry a basket of earth or rubbish, with
her cloth tied so as to reach above her knees. She is sometimes, in
addition, beaten on the back with tamarind switches. If she confesses
her guilt, and promises not to misconduct herself again, the Variyan
cuts the waist-thread of her paramour, who ties it round her neck as
if it was a tali (marriage badge). On the following day, the man and
woman are taken early in the morning to a tank (pond) or well, near
which seven small pits are made, and filled with water. The Variyan
sprinkles some of the water over their heads, and has subsequently to
be fed at their expense. If the pair are in prosperous circumstances,
a general feast is insisted on.

At Coimbatore, the headman is called Pattakaran, and he is assisted
by various subordinate officers and a caste messenger called
Odumpillai. In cases of theft, the guilty person has to carry a man
on his back round the assembly, while two persons hang on to his
back-hair. He is beaten on the cheeks, and the Odumpillai may be
ordered to spit in his face. A somewhat similar form of punishment
is inflicted on a man proved guilty of having intercourse with a
married woman.

In connection with the caste organisation of the Pallans in the
Trichinopoly district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. "They
generally have three or more headmen for each village, over whom is
the Nattu Muppan. Each village also has a peon called Odumpillai (the
runner). The main body of the caste, when attending council-meetings,
is called ilam katchi (the inexperienced). The village councils are
attended by the Muppans and the Nattu Muppan. Between the Nattu
Muppan and the ordinary Muppans, there is, in the Karur taluk,
a Pulli Muppan. All these offices are hereditary. In this taluk a
rather different organisation is in force, to regulate the supply of
labour to the landholders. Each of the village Muppans has a number
of karais or sections of the wet-land of the village under him,
and he is bound to supply labourers for all the land in his karai,
and is remunerated by the landowner with 1 1/4 marakkals of grain
for every 20 kalams harvested. The Muppans do not work themselves,
but maintain discipline among their men by flogging or expulsion
from the caste. In the Karur taluk, the ordinary Pallans are called
Manvettaikarans (mamoty or digging-tool men)."

The Pallans have their own washermen and barbers, who are said to
be mainly recruited from the Sozhia section, which, in consequence,
holds an inferior position; and a Pallan belonging to another section
would feel insulted if he was called a Sozhian.

When a Pallan girl, at Coimbatore, attains puberty, she is bathed,
dressed in a cloth brought by a washerwoman, and presented with
flowers and fruits by her relations. She occupies a hut constructed
of cocoanut leaves, branches of Pongamia glabra, and wild sugarcane
(Saccharum arundinaceum). Her dietary includes jaggery (crude sugar)
and milk and plantains. On the seventh day she is again bathed, and
presented with another cloth. The hut is burnt down, and for three days
she occupies a corner of the pial of her home. On the eleventh day
she is once more bathed, presented with new cloths by her relations,
and permitted to enter the house.

It is stated by Dr. G. Oppert [199] that "at a Pallan wedding, before
the wedding is actually performed, the bridegroom suddenly leaves
his house and starts for some distant place, as if he had suddenly
abandoned his intention of marrying, in spite of the preparations that
had been made for the wedding. His intended father-in-law intercepts
the young man on his way, and persuades him to return, promising to
give his daughter as a wife. To this the bridegroom consents." I have
not met with this custom in the localities in which the Pallans have
been examined.

In one form of marriage among the Pallans of the Madura district, the
bridegroom's sister goes to the house of the bride on an auspicious
day, taking with her the tali string, a new cloth, betel, fruits and
flowers. She ties the tali round the neck of the bride, who, if a
milk-post has been set up, goes round it. The bride is then conducted
to the house of the bridegroom, where the couple sit together on the
marriage dais, and coloured water, or coloured rice balls with lighted
wicks, are waved round them. They then go, with linked fingers, thrice
round the dais. In a more complicated form of marriage ceremonial,
the parents and maternal uncle of the bridegroom, proceed, on the
occasion of the betrothal, to the bride's house with rice, fruit,
plantains, a cocoanut, sandal paste, and turmeric. These articles
are handed over, with the bride's money, to the Kudumban or Kaladi
of her village. Early in the morning of the wedding day, a pandal
(booth) is erected, and the milk-post, made of Thespesia populnea
or Mimusops hexandra, is set up by the maternal uncles of the
contracting couple. The bride and bridegroom bring some earth,with
which the marriage dais is made. These preliminaries concluded,
they are anointed by their maternal uncles, and, after bathing, the
wrist-threads (kankanam) are tied to the bridegroom's wrist by his
brother-in-law, and to that of the bride by her sister-in-law. Four
betel leaves and areca nuts are placed at each corner of the dais, and
the pair go round it three times, saluting the betel as they pass. They
then take their place on the dais, and two men stretch a cloth over
their heads. They hold out their hands, into the palms of which the
Kudumban or Kaladi pours a little water from a vessel, some of which
is sprinkled over their heads. The vessel is then waved before them,
and they are garlanded by the maternal uncles, headmen, and others. The
bride is taken into the house, and her maternal uncle sits at the
entrance, and measures a new cloth, which he gives to her. She clads
herself in it, and her uncle, lifting her in his arms, carries her
to the dais, where she is placed by the side of the bridegroom. The
fingers of the contracting couple are linked together beneath a cloth
held by the maternal uncles. The tali is taken up by the bridegroom,
and placed by him round the bride's neck, to be tightly tied thereon
by his sister. Just before the tali is tied, the headman bawls out
"May I look into the bride's money and presents"? and, on receiving
permission to do so, says thrice "Seven bags of nuts, seven bags of
rice, etc., have been brought."

At a marriage among the Konga Pallans of Coimbatore, the
bridegroom's wrist-thread is tied on at his home, after a lamp
has been worshipped. He and his party proceed to the house of
the bride, taking with them a new cloth, a garland of flowers,
and the tali. The milk-post of the pandal is made of milk-hedge
(Euphorbia Tirucalli). The bride and bridegroom sit side by side and
close together on planks within the pandal. The bridegroom ties the
wrist-thread on the bride's wrist, and the caste barber receives
betel from their mouths in a metal vessel. In front of them are
placed a Pillayar (figure of Ganesa) made of cow-dung, two plantains,
seven cocoanuts, a measure of paddy, a stalk of Andropogen Sorghum,
with a betel leaf stuck on it, and seven sets of betel leaves and
areca nuts. Camphor is burnt, and two cocoanuts are broken, and placed
before the Pillayar. The tali is taken round to be blessed in a piece
of one of the cocoanuts. The Mannadi (assistant headman) hands over the
tali to the bridegroom, who ties it round the bride's neck. Another
cocoanut is then broken. Three vessels containing, respectively,
raw rice, turmeric water and milk, each with pieces of betel leaf,
are brought. The hands of the contracting couple are then linked
together beneath a cloth, and the fourth cocoanut is broken. The
Mannadi, taking up a little of the rice, turmeric water, milk, and
betel leaves, waves them before the bride and bridegroom, and throws
them over their heads. This is likewise done by five other individuals,
and the fifth cocoanut is broken. The bride and bridegroom go round
the plank, and again seat themselves. Their hands are unlinked,
the wrist-threads are untied, and thrown into a vessel of milk. The
sixth cocoanut is then broken. Cooked rice with plantains and ghi
(clarified butter) is offered to Alli Arasani, the wife of Arjuna,
who was famed for her virtue. The rice is offered three times to
the contracting couple, who do not eat it. The caste barber brings
water, with which they cleanse their mouths. They exchange garlands,
and the seventh cocoanut is broken. They are then taken within the
house, and sit on a new mat. The bridegroom is again conducted to the
pandal, where cooked rice and other articles are served to him on a
tripod stool. They are handed over to the Odumpillai as a perquisite,
and all the guests are fed. In the evening a single cloth is tied to
the newly married couple, who bathe, and pour water over each other's
heads. The Pillayar, lamp, paddy, Andropogon stalk, and two trays with
betel, are placed before the guests. The Mannadi receives four annas
from the bridegroom's father, and, after mentioning the names of the
bridegroom, his father and grandfather, places it in one of the trays,
which belongs to the bride's party. He then receives four annas from
the bride's father, and mentions the names of the bride, her father
and grandfather, before placing the money in the tray which belongs
to the bridegroom's party. The relations then make presents of money
to the bride and bridegroom. When a widow remarries, her new husband
gives her a white cloth, and ties a yellow string round her neck in
the presence of some of the castemen.

At a marriage among the Kadaiya Pallans of Coimbatore, the wrist-thread
of the bride is tied on by the Mannadi. She goes to a Pillayar shrine,
and brings back three trays full of sand from the courtyard thereof,
which is heaped up in the marriage pandal. Three painted earthen
pots, and seven small earthen trays, are brought in procession from
the Mannadi's house by the bridegroom, and placed in the pandal. To
each of the two larger pots a piece of turmeric and betel leaf are
tied, and nine kinds of grain are placed in them. The bridegroom has
brought with him the tali tied to a cocoanut, seven rolls of betel,
seven plantains, seven pieces of turmeric, a garland, a new cloth
for the bride, etc. The linked fingers of the contracting couple are
placed on a tray containing salt and a ring. They go thrice round
a lamp and the plank within the pandal, and retire within the house
where the bridegroom is served with food on a leaf. What remains after
he has partaken thereof is given to the bride on the same leaf. The
wrist-threads are untied on the third day, and a Pillayar made of
cow-dung is carried to a river, whence the bride brings back a pot
of water.

In some places, the bridegroom is required to steal something from
the bride's house when they return home after the marriage, and the
other party has to repay the compliment on some future occasion.

When a death occurs among the Konga Pallans of Coimbatore, the big
toes and thumbs of the corpse are tied together. A lighted lamp,
a metal vessel with raw rice, jaggery, and a broken cocoanut are
placed near its head. Three pieces of firewood, arranged in the
form of a triangle, are lighted, and a small pot is placed on them,
wherein some rice is cooked in turmeric water. The corpse is bathed,
and placed in a pandal made of four plantain trees, and four green
leafy branches. The nearest relations place a new cloth over it. If
the deceased has left a widow, she is presented with a new cloth by
her brother. The corpse is laid on a bier, the widow washes its feet,
and drinks some of the water. She then throws her tali-string on the
corpse. Her face is covered with a cloth, and she is taken into the
house. The corpse is then removed to the burial-ground, where the son
is shaved, and the relations place rice and water in the mouth of the
corpse. It is then laid in the grave, which is filled in, and a stone
and some thorny twigs are placed over it. An earthen pot full of water
is placed on the right shoulder of the son, who carries it three times
round the grave. Each time that he reaches the head end thereof,
a hole is made in the pot with a knife by one of the elders. The
pot is then thrown down, and broken near the spot beneath which the
head lies. Near this spot the son places a lighted firebrand, and
goes away without looking back. He bathes and returns to the house,
where he touches a little cow-dung placed at the entrance with his
right foot, and worships a lamp. On the third day, three handfuls
of rice, a brinjal (Solanum Melongena) fruit cut into three pieces,
and leaves of Sesbania grandiflora are cooked in a pot, and carried
to the grave together with a tender cocoanut, cigar, betel, and other
things. The son places three leaves on the grave, and spreads the
various articles thereon. Crows are attracted by clapping the hands,
and it is considered a good omen if they come and eat. On the fourth
day the son bathes, and sits on a mat. He then bites, and spits
out some roasted salt fish three times into a pot of water. This is
supposed to show that mourning has been cast away, or at the end. He
is then presented with new cloths by his uncle and other relations. On
the ninth or eleventh day, cooked rice, betel, etc., are placed near a
babul (Acacia arabica) or other thorny tree, which is made to represent
the deceased. Seven small stones, representing the seven Hindu sages,
are set up. A cocoanut is broken, and puja performed. The rice is
served on a leaf, and eaten by the son and other near relations.

The Pallans are nominally Saivites, but in reality devil worshippers,
and do puja to the Grama Devata (village deities), especially those
whose worship requires the consumption of flesh and liquor.

It is recorded, [200] in connection with a biennial festival in
honour of the local goddess at Attur in the Madura district, that
"some time before the feast begins, the Pallans of the place go
round to the adjoining villages, and collect the many buffaloes,
which have been dedicated to the goddess during the last two years,
and have been allowed to graze unmolested, and where they willed,
in the fields. These are brought in to Attur, and one of them is
selected, garlanded, and placed in the temple. On the day of the
festival, this animal is brought out, led round the village in state,
and then, in front of the temple, is given three cuts with a knife
by a Chakkiliyan, who has fasted that day, to purify himself for
the rite. The privilege of actually killing the animal belongs by
immemorial usage to the head of the family of the former poligar
of Nilakkottai, but he deputes certain Pallans to take his place,
and they fall upon the animal and slay it."

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway [201] that the Valaiyans and the class of
Pallans known as Kaladis who live in the south-western portion of the
Pudukkottai State are professional cattle-lifters. They occasionally
take to burglary for a change.

The common titles of the Pallans are said [202] to be "Muppan and
Kudumban, and some style themselves Mannadi. Kudumban is probably
a form of Kurumban, and Mannadi is a corruption of Manradi, a title
borne by the Pallava (Kurumban) people. It thus seems not improbable
that the Pallas are representatives of the old Pallavas or Kurumbas."

Pallavarayan.--The title, meaning chief of the Pallavas, of the leader
of the Krishnavakakkar in Travancore. Also a sub-division of Occhans.

Palle.--In the Telugu country, there are two classes of Palles,
which are employed respectively in sea-fishing and agriculture. The
former, who are the Min (fish) Palles of previous writers, are also
known as Palle Kariyalu, and do not mingle or intermarry with the
latter. They claim for themselves a higher position than that which
is accorded to them by other castes, and call themselves Agnikula
Kshatriyas. Their title is, in some places, Reddi. All belong to one
gotra called Ravikula.

The caste headman is entitled Pedda Kapu,' and he is assisted by
an Oomadi.

In puberty, marriage, and death ceremonies, the Palles follow the
Telugu form of ceremonial. There is, however, one rite in the marriage
ceremonies, which is said to be peculiar to the fishing section. On
the fifth day after marriage, a Golla perantalu (married woman) is
brought to the house in procession, walking on cloths spread on the
ground (nadapavada). She anoints the bridal couple with ghi (clarified
butter), and after receiving a cloth as a present, goes away.

The fishing class worship the Akka Devatalu (sister gods) periodically
by floating on the surface of the water a flat framework made of
sticks tied together, on which the various articles used in the
worship are placed.



NOTES


[1] Gazetteer of the South Arcot District.

[2] Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

[3] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[4] The Rangaris are Maratha dyers and tailors.

[5] Ind. Ant., VII, 1878.

[6] Our Viceregal Life in India, 1884-88.

[7] Loc. cit.

[8] Ind. Ant., II, 1874.

[9] The word Genoa occurs on several blades in the Madras Museum
collection.

[10] The bas-relief of the statue of Lord Cornwallis in the Connemara
Public library, Madras, represents him receiving Tipu's two youthful
sons as hostages.

[11] Brahmanism and Hinduism.

[12] Gazetteer of the Bellary district.

[13] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[14] Madras Review, 1899.

[15] F. Fawcett. Journ. Anthrop. Inst., XXXIII, 1903.

[16] F. Fawcett, loc. cit.

[17] Madras Journ. Lit. Science, 1890.

[18] Sketch of the Dynasties of South India.

[19] Numismata Orient. Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon.

[20] Kalith-thokai.

[21] Kanakasabhai Pillai. The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years ago. 1904.

[22] Manual of the Tinnevelly district, 1879.

[23] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[24] Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

[25] Tinnevelly, being an account of the district, the people, and
the missions. Mission Field, 1897.

[26] Madras Journ. Lit. Science, IV, 1836.

[27] Journ. Anthrop. Inst., XXXIII, 1903.

[28] F. Fawcett, loc. cit.

[29] Madras Journ. Lit. Science, IV, 1836.

[30] Madras Journ. Lit. Science, IV, 1836.

[31] Manual of the Madura district.

[32] Madras Journ. Lit, Science, XXV.

[33] Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

[34] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[35] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[36] G. Richter. Manual of Coorg.

[37] Madras Museum Bull., V, 3, 1907.

[38] For portions of this article I am indebted to a note by
Mr. J. D. Samuel.

[39] Hobson-Jobson.

[40] Gazetteer of the Tanjore district.

[41] Malabar Law and Custom.

[42] Madras Museum Bull. III, 3, 1901.

[43] Hobson-Jobson.

[44] Sea Fisheries of India.

[45] Journey from Madras through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 1807.

[46] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[47] Section III, Inhabitants, Government Press, Madras, 1907.

[48] East India Gazette.

[49] Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies Ed., 1897.

[50] History of Mysore.

[51] Ind. Antiquary, II, 1873.

[52] Mysore.

[53] Manual of the South Canara district.

[54] Journey through Mysore, etc.

[55] Monograph of Tanning and Working in Leather, Madras, 1904.

[56] G. D. Iyah Pillay, Madras, 1878.

[57] Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

[58] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[59] Manual of the Coimbatore district.

[60] Madras Journ. Lit. Science, I, 1833.

[61] Agricult: Ledger Series, Calcutta, No. 7, 1904.

[62] Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 1807.

[63] A New Account of the East Indies, 1744.

[64] I am informed that the Mukkuvans claim to be a caste distinct
from the Arayans.

[65] For further details concerning the fisheries and fish-curing
operations of the West Coast, see Thurston, Madras Museum Bull. III,
2, 1900.

[66] Spelt Pusler in a recent educational report.

[67] Madras Museum Bull., III, 3, 1901.

[68] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[69] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[70] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[71] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[72] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[73] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[74] Mysore Census Reports, 1891, 1901.

[75] Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.

[76] Hobson-Jobson.

[77] Wigram : Malabar Law and Customs.

[78] Ibid., 3rd ed., 1905.

[79] A Forgotten Empire, Vijayanagar.

[80] Fifth Report of the Committee on the affairs of the East India
Company. Reprint, Higginbotham, Madras.

[81] College History of India, 1888.

[82] Manual of the South Canara district.

[83] Ibid.

[84] M.J. Walhouse. Journ. Anthrop. Inst., V, 1876.

[85] Devil Worship of the Tuluvas, Ind. Ant., XXIII, 1894.

[86] Devil Worship of the Tuluvas. Ind. Ant., XXIII, XXIV, XXV,
XXVI, 1894-7.

[87] With the exception of the notes by Mr. Subramani Aiyar, this
article is a reproduction, with very slight changes, of an account
of the Nambutiris by Mr. F. Fawcett, which has already been published
in the Madras Bulletin Series (III, I, 1900).

[88] N. Subramani Aiyar, Malabar Quart. Review, VII, I, 1908.

[89] A New Account of the East Indies, 1744.

[90] The Nambutiris everywhere believe that Europeans have tails.

[91] The Todas, 1906.

[92] Taravad or tarwad: a marumakkatayam family, consisting of all
the descendants in the female line of one common female ancestor.

[93] The Lusiad.

[94] Chela, the cloth worn by Muppillas (Muhammadans in Malabar). There
are also Chela Nayars. The word is said to mean the rite of
circumcision.

[95] Malabar Quart. Review, I, 1, 1902.

[96] In all ceremonies, and indeed in all arrangements connected
with labour in rural Malabar, it is the rule to reckon in the old,
and not in the existing, currency.

[97] Brahmanism and Hinduism.

[98] Op. cit.

[99] Ibid.

[100] The Nambutiris take objection to a statement of Mr. Logan, in
the Manual of Malabar, that the Vadhyar shuts the door, and locks it.

[101] Orissa. Annals of Rural Bengal.

[102] By keeping a lamp lighted at the fire perpetually alight, or
by heating a piece of plasu or darbha grass in the fire, and putting
it away carefully.

[103] An amana palaga or ama palaga, literally tortoise plank, is
a low wooden seat of chamatha wood, supposed to be shaped like a
tortoise in outline.

[104] The accounts of marriage and death ceremonies in the Gazetteer
of Malabar are from a grandhavari.

[105] Ind. Law Reports, Madras Series, XII, 1889.

[106] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[107] The proverb Chetti Chidambaram is well known.

[108] Malabar Quart: Review, 1905.

[109] C. Hayavadana Rao, Indian Review, VIII, 8, 1907.

[110] Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

[111] Gazetteer of the Madura district.

[112] Indian Review, VIII, 8, 1907.

[113] Indian Law Reports, Madras Series, XXIX, 1906.

[114] C. Hayavadana Rao, Loc. cit.

[115] C. Hayavadana Rao. Loc. cit.

[116] Historical Sketches of the South of India, 1810.

[117] Malabar and its Folk.

[118] Malabar and its Folk.

[119] This note is based mainly on articles by Mr. S. Appadorai Aiyar
and Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar.

[120] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[121] Gazetteer of the Malabar district.

[122] Manual of the Malabar district.

[123] The author of Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin or hints for persons seeking
the way to God, as it is frequently translated, or more literally an
offering to warriors who shall fight in defence of religion against
infidels. Translated by Rowlandson. London, 1833.

[124] See Manual of the Malabar district, 164, sq., and Fawcett,
Madras Museum Bull., III, 3, 1901.

[125] E. Hultzsch, South-Indian Inscriptions, III, 2, 1203.

[126] Description of the Coasts of East Africa and
Malabar. Translation. Hakluyt Society, 1866.

[127] New Account of the East Indies, 1744.

[128] Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781.

[129] Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 1807.

[130] Malabar Law and Custom, 3rd ed., 1905.

[131] Vide R. Sewell. A Forgotten Empire (Vijayanagar), 1900.

[132] Father Coleridge's Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier.

[133] History of Tinnevelly.

[134] Coleridge's Xavier.

[135] Burnell. Translation of the Daya Vibhaga, Introduction. Vide
also Elements of South Indian Palæography (2nd ed., p. 109), where
Dr. Burnell says that it is certain that the Vijayanagar kings were
men of low caste.

[136] Vide Glossary, Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, p. 2,
and Day's Land of the Permauls, p. 44.

[137] Fifth Report of the Committee on the affairs of the East India
Company, II, 499, 530. Reprint by Higginbotham, Madras.

[138] Lives of the Lindsays. By Lord Lindsay, 1849.

[139] Madras Museum Bull., III, 3, 1901.

[140] A manchil is a conveyance carried on men's shoulders, and more
like a hammock slung on a pole, with a flat covering over it, than
a palanquin.

[141] Tarwad or taravad, a marumakkathayam family, consisting of all
the descendants in the female line of one common female ancestor.

[142] The Voyage and Travell of M. Cæsar Fredericke, Merchant
of Venice, into the East Indies and beyond the Indies
(1563). Translation. Hakluyt Voyages, V, 394.

[143] Travels to the East Indies.

[144] Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781.

[145] R. Kerr. General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels,
1811, History of the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portuguese
between the years 1497 and 1525, from the original Portuguese of
Herman Lopes de Castaneda.

[146] Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom, Ed. 1900.

[147] T. A. Kalyanakrishna Aiyar, Malabar Quart. Review, II, 1903.

[148] Op cit.

[149] Malabar and its Folk, 1900.

[150] Malabar Law and Custom, 1882.

[151] Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1894.

[152] The rights and obligations of Karanavans are fully dealt with
by Moore, Malabar Law and Custom, 3rd edition, 1905.

[153] Journ. Anthrop. Inst., XII, 1883.

[154] Op. cit.

[155] Malabar Quart. Review, VII, 3, 1908.

[156] Op. cit.

[157] Gazetteer of Malabar.

[158] An Enangan or Inangan is a man of the same caste and sub-division
or marriage group. It is usually translated "kinsman," but is at once
wider and narrower in its connotation. My Enangans are all who can
marry the same people that I can. An Enangatti is a female member of
an Enangan's family.

[159] The aimpuli or "five tamarinds" are Tamarindus indica, Garcinia
Cambogia, Spondias mangifera, Bauhinia racemosa, and Hibiscus hirtus.

[160] The eldest male member of the taravad is called the
Karanavan. All male members, brothers, nephews, and so on, who are
junior to him, are called Anandravans of the taravad.

[161] All caste Hindus who perform the sradh ceremonies calculate
the day of death, not by the day of the month, but by the thithis
(day after full or new moon).

[162] Nineteenth Century, 1904.

[163] L'Inde (sans les Anglais).

[164] Letters from Malabar.

[165] January, 1899.

[166] See Thurston. Catalogue of Roman, etc., Coins, Madras Government
Museum, 2nd ed., 1894.

[167] Malabar and its Folk, 1900.

[168] The Vettuvans were once salt-makers.

[169] Malabar and its Folk, Madras, 1900.

[170] Buchanan, Mysore, Canara and Malabar.

[171] Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

[172] E. Hultzsch. South Indian Inscriptions, I. 82, 108, 1890.

[173] Comprehensive Tamil and English Dictionary.

[174] Travancore Census Report, 1901.

[175] Manual of the North Arcot district.

[176] Madras Dioc. Magazine, April, 1908.

[177] Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

[178] Ind. Ant., V, 1876.

[179] Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

[180] Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar.

[181] J. S. F. Mackenzie. Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

[182] Op. cit.

[183] Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

[184] Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, 1807.

[185] Section III. Inhabitants. Madras Government Press, 1907.

[186] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[187] See Manual of the North Arcot district, 1, 187.

[188] Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district.

[189] Hobson-Jobson.

[190] Madras Census Report, 1901.

[191] Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879.

[192] An Indian Olio.

[193] Anthropos, III, 1908.

[194] Ind. Ant., XXX, 1902.

[195] Madras Census Report, 1891.

[196] Christianity in Travancore, 1901.

[197] Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly district.

[198] See Nelson, the Madura Country, II, 4--7, and Coimbatore District
Manual, 477.

[199] Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsa or India.

[200] Gazetteer of the Madura district.

[201] Op Cit.

[202] Madras Census Report, 1891.





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