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know one's own bali by rote. And the heads of caste,
who preside at every wedding party, and who are also
consulted by the elders of the boy or girl before an alli-
ance is formed, are such experts in these matters that
they decide at once without reference to any books or
rules whether intermarriages between persons brought
before them can be lawfully performed or not." As
examples of balis among the Bants, the following may
be cited :

Bellathannaya, jaggery.
Bhuthiannaya, ashes.
Chaliannaya, weaver.
Edinnaya, hornet's nest.
Karkadabennai, scorpion.
Kayerthannaya (Strychnos

Kochattabannayya, or Kajjar-

annayya, jack tree (Arto-

carpus integrifolia).

Koriannaya, fowl.
Pathanchithannaya, green peas.
Perugadannaya, bandicoot rat.
Poyilethannaya, one who removes

the evil eye.
Puliattannaya, tiger.
Ragithannaya, ragi (Eleusine


* Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1891.

1 65 BANT

Infant marriage is not prohibited, but is not common,
and both men and girls are usually married after they
have reached maturity. There are two forms of mar-
riage, one called kai dhare for marriages between virgins
and bachelors, the other called budu dhare for the
marriage of widows. After a match has been arranged,
the formal betrothal, called ponnapathera or nischaya
tambula, takes place. The bridegroom's relatives and
friends proceed in a body on the appointed day to the
bride's house, and are there entertained at a grand
dinner, to which the bride's relatives and friends are also
bidden. Subsequently the karnavans (heads) of the two
families formally engage to perform the marriage, and
plates of betel leaves and areca nuts are exchanged, and
the betel and nuts partaken of by the two parties.
The actual marriage ceremony is performed at the house
of the bride or bridegroom, as may be most convenient.
The proceedings commence with the bridegroom seating
himself in the marriage pandal, a booth or canopy
specially erected for the occasion. He is there shaved
by the village barber, and then retires and bathes. This
done, both he and the bride are conducted to the pandal
by their relations, or sometimes by the village headman.
They walk thrice round the seat, and then sit down side
by side. The essential and binding part of the cere-
mony, called dhare, then takes place. The right hand
of the bride being placed over the right hand of the
bridegroom, a silver vessel (dhare gindi) filled with
water, with a cocoanut over the mouth and the flower of
the areca palm on the cocoanut, is placed on the joined
hands. The parents, the managers of the two families,
and the village headmen all touch the vessel, which, with
the hands of the bridal pair, is moved up and down three
times. In certain families the water is poured from the

BANT 1 66

vessel into the united hands of the couple, and this
betokens the gift of the bride. This form of gift by pour-
ing water was formerly common, and was not confined
to the gift of a bride. It still survives in the marriage
ceremonies of various castes, and the name of the Bant
ceremony shows that it must once have been universal
among them. The bride and bridegroom then receive
the congratulations of the guests, who express a hope
that the happy couple 'may become the parents of
twelve sons and twelve daughters. An empty plate, and
another containing rice, are next placed before the pair,
and their friends sprinkle them with rice from the one,
and place a small gift, generally four annas, in the other.
The bridegroom then makes a gift to the bride. This is
called sirdachi, and varies in amount according to the
position of the parties. This must be returned to the
husband, if his wife leaves him, or if she is divorced for
misconduct. The bride is then taken back in proces-
sion to her home. A few days later she is again taken
to the bridegroom's house, and must serve her husband
with food. He makes another money present to her,
and after that the marriage is consummated.

According to another account of the marriage
ceremony among some Bants, the barber shaves the
bridegroom's face, using cow's milk instead of water,
and touches the bride's forehead with razor. The bride
and bridegroom bathe, and dress up in new clothes.
A plank covered with a newly-washed cloth supplied by
a washerman, a tray containing raw rice, a lighted lamp,
betel leaves and areca nuts, etc., are placed in the pandal.
A girl carries a tray on which are placed a lighted lamp,
a measure full of raw rice, and betel. She is followed
by the bridegroom conducted by her brother, and the
bride, led by the bridegroom's sister. They enter


the pandal and, after going round the articles contained
therein five times, sit down on the plank. An elderly
woman, belonging to the family of the caste headman,
brings a tray containing rice, and places it in front of
the couple, over whom she sprinkles a little of the rice.
The assembled men and women then place presents of
money on the tray, and sprinkle rice over the couple.
The right hand of the bride is held by the headman, and
her uncle, and laid in that of the bridegroom. A cocoanut
is placed over the mouth of a vessel, which is decorated
with mango leaves and flowers of the areca palm. The
headman and male relations of the bride place this
vessel thrice in the hands of the bridal couple. The
vessel is subsequently emptied at the foot of a cocoanut

The foregoing account shows that the Bant marriage
is a good deal more than concubinage. It is indeed as
formal a marriage as is to be found among any people
in the world, and the freedom of divorce which is allowed
cannot deprive it of its essential character. Widows are
married with much less formality. The ceremony con-
sists simply of joining the hands of the couple, but,
strange to say, a screen is placed between them. All
widows are allowed to marry again, but it is, as a rule,
only the young women who actually do so. If a widow
becomes pregnant, she must marry or suffer loss of

The Bants all burn their dead, except in the case of
children under seven, and those who have died of leprosy
or of epidemic disease such as cholera or small-pox.
The funeral pile must consist at least partly of mango
wood. On the ninth, eleventh or thirteenth day, people
are fed in large numbers, but the Jains now substitute
for this a distribution of cocoanuts on the third, fifth,

BANT 1 68

seventh, or ninth day. Once a year generally in Octo-
ber a ceremony called agelu is performed for the pro-
pitiation of ancestors.

From a detailed account of the Bant death ceremonies,
I gather that the news of a death is conveyed to the caste
people by a Holeya. A carpenter, accompanied by
musicians, proceeds to cut down a mango tree for the
funeral pyre. The body is bathed, and laid out on a
plank. Clad in new clothes, it is conveyed with music
to the burning-ground. A barber carries thither a pot
containing fire. The corpse is set down near the pyre
and divested of the new clothes, which are distributed
between a barber, washerman, carpenter, a Billava and
Holeya. The pyre is kindled by a Billava, and the
mat on which the corpse has been lying is thrown
thereon by a son or nephew of the deceased. On the
third day the relations go to the burning-ground, and a
barber and washerman sprinkle water over the ashes.
Some days later, the caste people are invited to attend,
and a barber, washerman, and carpenter build up on the
spot where the corpse was burnt a lofty structure, made
of bamboo and areca palm, in an odd number of tiers,
and supported on an odd number of posts. It is deco-
rated with cloths, fruits, tender cocoanuts, sugarcane,
flowers, mango leaves, areca palm flowers, etc., and a
fence is set up round it. The sons and other relations
of the deceased carry to the burning-ground three balls
of cooked rice (pinda) dyed with turmeric and tied up
in a cloth, some raw rice dyed with turmeric, pieces of
green plantain fruit, and pumpkin and a cocoanut.
They go thrice round the structure, carrying the various
articles in trays on their heads, and deposit them
therein. The relations then throw a little of the
coloured rice into the structure, and one of the caste

1 69 BANT

men sprinkles water contained in a mango leaf over their
hands. After bathing, they return home. The clothes,
jewels, etc., of the deceased are laid on a cloth spread
inside the house. A piece of turmeric is suspended from
the ceiling by a string, and a tray containing water
coloured yellow placed beneath it. Round this the
females seat themselves. A cocoanut is broken, and a
barber sprinkles the water thereof contained in a mango
leaf over those assembled. On the following day,
various kinds of food are prepared, and placed on leaves,
with a piece of new cloth, within a room of the house.
The cloth remains there for a year, when it is renewed.
The renewal continues until another death occurs in the

In the following table, the cephalic index of the
Bants is compared with that of the Billavas and Shivalli
Brahmans :







q6 '4










The headman among the Bants is generally called
Guttinayya, meaning person of the guttu or site. Every
village, or group of villages, possesses a guttu, and the
Bant who occupies, or holds in possession the house or
site set apart as the guttu is the Guttinayya. When
this passes to another by sale or inheritance, the office
of headman passes with it. It is said that, in some
instances, the headmanship has in this way passed to
classes other than Bants, e.g., Brahmans and Jains.
In some villages, the headman is, as among some other
castes, called Gurikara, whose appointment is hereditary.

BANT 170

A few supplementary notes may be added on the

Parivara, Nad, and Masadika Bants. The Parivaras are

confined to the southern taluks of the South Canara

district. They may interdine, but may not intermarry

with the other section. The rule of inheritance is mak-

kalakattu (in the male line). Brahman priests are

engaged for the various ceremonials, so the Parivaras

are more Brahmanised than the Nad or Masadika Bants.

The Parivaras may resort to the wells used by Brah-

mans, and they consequently claim superiority over the

other sections. Among the Nad Bants, no marriage

badge is tied on the neck of the bride. At a Parivara

marriage, after the dhare ceremony, the bridegroom

ties a gold bead, called dhare mani, on the neck of

the bride. The remarriage of widows is not in vogue.

In connection with the death ceremonies, a car is

not, as among the Nad and Masadika sections, set up

over the mound (dhupe). On the eleventh day, the

spreading of a cloth on the mound for offerings of

food must be done by Nekkaras, who wash clothes for


The Nad or Nadava and Masadika Bants follow the
aliya santana law of succession, and intermarriage is
permitted between the two sections. The names of
the balis, which have already been given, are common
among the Masadikas, and do not apply to the Nads,
among whom different sept names occur, e.g., Honne,
Shetti, Koudichi, etc. Elaborate death ceremonies are
only performed if the deceased was old, or a respected
member of the community. The corpse is generally
cremated in one of the rice-fields belonging to the
family. After the funeral, the male members of the
family return home, and place a vessel containing
water and light in a room. One or two women must

1 71 BANT

remain in this room, and the light must be kept burning
until the bojja, or final death ceremonies, are over.
The water in the vessel must be renewed twice
daily. At the final ceremonies, a feast is given to the
castemen, and in some places, the headman insists
on the people of the house of mourning giving him
a jewel as a pledge that the bojja will be performed
on the ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth day. The head-
man visits the house on the previous day, and, after
examination of the provisions, helps in cutting up
vegetables, etc. On the bojja day, copper and silver
coins, and small pieces of gold, are buried or sown
in the field in which the ceremony is performed.
This is called hanabiththodu. The lofty structure,
called gurigi or upparige, is set up over the dhupe or
ashes heaped up into a mound, or in the field in
which the body was cremated, only in the event of
the deceased being a person of importance. In some
places, two kinds of structure are used, one called
gurigi, composed of several tiers, for males, and the
other called delagudu, consisting of a single tier, for
females. Devil-dancers are engaged, and the com-
monest kola performed by them is the eru kola, or
man and hobby-horse. In the room containing the
vessel of water, four sticks are planted in the ground,
and tied together. Over the sticks a cloth is placed,
and the vessel of water placed beneath it. A bit of
string is tied to the ceiling, and a piece of turmeric or
a gold ring is attached to the end of it, and suspended
so as to touch the water in the vessel. This is called
nir neralu (shadow in water), and seems to be a custom
among various Tulu castes. After the bojja ceremony,
all those who are under death pollution stand in two
rows. A Madavali (washerman) touches them with a


cloth, and a Kelasi (barber) sprinkles water over them.
In this manner, they are freed from pollution.

The most common title among the Bants is Chetti
or Setti, but many others occur, e.g., Heggade, Nayaka,
Bangera, Rai, Ballalaru, etc.

Barang Jhodia. A sub-division of Poroja.

Bardeshkar (people of twelve countries). Some
families among Konkani Brahmans go by this name.

Bariki. Bariki is the name for village watchmen
in Southern Ganjam, whose duty it further is to guide
the traveller on the march from place to place. In the
Bellary Manual, Barika is given as the name for
Canarese Kabberas, who are village servants, who keep
the village chavadi (caste meeting-house) clean, look
after the wants of officials halting in the village, and
perform various other duties. In the Census Report,
1901, the Barikas are said to be usually Boyas. The
Barika of Mysore is defined by Mr. L. Rice as * " a
menial among the village servants ; a deputy talari,
who is employed to watch the crops from the growing
crop to the granary."

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary
district, that " in the middle of the threshold of nearly
all the gateways of the ruined fortifications round the
Bellary villages will be noticed a roughly cylindrical or
conical stone, something like a lingam. This is the
boddu-rayi, literally the navel stone, and so the middle
stone. It was planted there when the fort was built,
and is affectionately regarded as being the boundary of
the village site. Once a year, in May, just before the
sowing season begins, a ceremony takes place in con-
nection with it. Reverence is first made to the bullocks

* Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.


of the village, and in the evening they are driven through
the gateway past the boddu-rayi with tom-toms, flutes,
and all kinds of music. The Barike next does puja
(worship) to the stone, and then a string of mango
leaves is tied across the gateway above it. The vil-
lagers now form sides, one party trying to drive the
bullocks through the gate, and the other trying to keep
them out. The greatest uproar and confusion naturally
follow, and, in the midst of the turmoil, some bullock or
other eventually breaks through the guardians of the
gate, and gains the village. If that first bullock is a red
one, the red grains on the red soils will flourish in the
coming season. If he is white, white crops like cotton
and white cholam will prosper. If he is red-and-white,
both kinds will do well. When the rains fail, and, in any
case, on the first full moon in September, rude human
figures drawn on the ground with powdered charcoal
may be seen at cross-roads and along big thoroughfares.
They represent Jokumara the rain-god, and are made by
the Barikes a class of village servants, who are usually
of the Gaurimakkalu sub-division of the Kabberas.
The villagers give the artists some small remuneration,
and believe that luck comes to those who pass over the

Barike. A title of Gaudos and other Oriya castes.

Barrellu (buffaloes). An exogamous sept of Kapu.

Basala. Recorded, in the Madras Census Report,
1901, as Telugu beggars and soothsayers in Vizagapatam.
The word is apparently a corruption of Basa-valu, a sage.
The Basa-valu pretend to be messengers of Indra, the
chief of the Devatas, and prognosticate coming events.

Basari (fig tree). A gotra of Kurni.

Basava Golla. A name for certain Koyis of the
Godavari district, whose grandfathers had a quarrel with


some of their neighbours, and separated from them.
The name Basava is said to be derived from bhasha, a
language, as these Koyis speak a different language
from the true Gollas.* In like manner, Basa Kondhs
are those who speak their proper language, in contra-
distinction to those who speak Oriya, or Oriya mixed
with Kui.

Basavi. See Deva-dasi.

Basiya Korono. A sub-division of Korono.

Basruvogaru (basru, belly). An exogamous sept
of Gauda.

Baththala (rice). An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Batlu (cup). An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Bauri. There are found in the Madras Presidency
nomad gangs of Bauris or Bawariyas, who are described t
as " one of the worst criminal tribes of India. The
sphere of their operations extends throughout the length
and breadth of the country. They not only commit
robberies, burglaries and thefts, but also practice the art
of manufacturing and passing counterfeit coin. They
keep with them a small quantity of wheat and sandal
seeds in a small tin or brass case, which they call
Devakadana or God's grain, and a tuft of peacock's
feathers, all in a bundle. They are very superstitious,
and do not embark on any enterprise without first
ascertaining by omens whether it will be attended
with success or not. This they do by taking at random
a small quantity of grains out of their Devakadana and
counting the number of grains, the omen being con-
sidered good or bad according as the number of seeds is
odd or even. For a detailed record of the history of

* Rev. J. Cain, Ind. Ant., V, 1876,

f M. Paupa Rao Naidu. The Criminal Tribes of India. No. Ill, Madras,


this criminal class, and the methods employed in the
performance of criminal acts, I would refer the reader to
the accounts given by Mr. Paupa Rao * and Mr. W.
Crooke. f

Bavaji. The Bavajis are Bairagi or Gosayi beggars,
who travel about the country. They are known by
various names, e.g., Bairagi, Sadu, etc.

Bavuri. The Bavuris, or Bauris, are a low class of
Oriya basket-makers, living in Ganjam, and are more
familiarly known as Khodalo. They are a polluting
class, living in separate quarters, and occupy a position
lower than the Samantiyas, but higher than the Kondras,
Dandasis, and Haddis. They claim that palanquin
(dhooly or duli) bearing is their traditional occupation,
and consequently call themselves Boyi. " According
to one story, " Risley writes, \ " they were degraded for
attempting to steal food from the banquet of the gods ;
another professes to trace them back to a mythical
ancestor named Bahak Rishi (the bearer of burdens), and
tells how, while returning from a marriage procession,
they sold the palanquin they had been hired to carry,
got drunk on the proceeds, and assaulted their guru
(religious preceptor), who cursed them for the sacrilege,
and condemned them to rank thenceforward among
the lowest castes of the community." The Bavuris are
apparently divided into two endogamous sections, viz.,
Dulia and Khandi. The former regard themselves as
superior to the latter, and prefer to be called Khodalo.
Some of these have given up eating beef, call them-
selves Dasa Khodalos, and claim descent from one

Op. cit.

f Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. Bawariya,

\ Tribes and Castes of Bengal, 1891.


Balliga Doss, a famous Bavuri devotee, who is said to
have worked wonders, analogous to those of Nandan
of the Paraiyan community. To this section the caste
priests belong. At Russelkonda, a woman, when
asked if she was a Bavuri, replied that the caste
is so called by others, but that its real name is
Khodalo. Others, in reply to a question whether they
belonged to the Khandi section, became angry, and
said that the Khandis are inferior, because they eat

The Bavuris gave the name of two gotras, saptha
bhavunia and naga, which are said to be exogamous.
The former offer food to the gods on seven leaves of
the white gourd melon, Benincasa cerifera (kokkara),
and the latter on jak (Arlocarpus integrifolia : panasa)
leaves. All over the Oriya country there is a general
belief that house-names or bamsams are foreign to the
Oriya castes, and only possessed by the Telugus. But
some genuine Oriya castes, e.g., Haddis, Dandasis and
Bhondaris, have exogamous bamsams.

For every group of villages (muttah), the Bavuris
apparently have a headman called Behara, who is
assisted by Naikos or Dolo Beharas, or, in some places,
Dondias or Porichas, who hold sway over a smaller
number of villages. Each village has its own headman,
called Bhollobhaya (good brother), to whose notice all
irregularities are brought. These are either settled by
himself, or referred to the Behara and Naiko. In some
villages, in addition to the Bhollobhaya, there is a caste
servant called Dangua or Dogara. For serious offences,
a council-meeting is convened by the Behara, and at-
tended by the Bhollobhayas, Naikos, and a few leading
members of the community. The meeting is held
in an open plain outside the village. Once in two or


three years, a council-meeting, called mondolo, is held,
at which various matters are discussed, and decided. The
expenses of meetings are defrayed by the inhabitants of
the villages in which they take place. Among the most
important matters to be decided by tribunals are adultery,
eating with lower castes, the re-admission of convicts
into the caste, etc. Punishment takes the form of a fine,
and trial by ordeal is apparently not resorted to. A man,
who is convicted of committing adultery, or eating with
a member of a lower caste, is received back into the
caste on payment of the fine. A woman, who has been
proved guilty of such offences, is not so taken back. It
is said that, when a member of a higher caste commits
adultery with a Bavuri woman, he is sometimes received
into the Bavuri caste. The Behara receives a small fee
annually from each village or family, and also a small
present of money for each marriage.

Girls are married either before or after puberty. A
man may marry his maternal uncle's, but not his paternal
aunt's daughter. At an adult marriage, the festivities
last for four days, whereas, at an infant marriage, they
are extended over seven days. When a young man's
parents have selected a girl for him, they consult a
Brahman, and, if he decides that the marriage will be
auspicious, they proceed to the girl's home, and ask that
a day be fixed for the betrothal. On the appointed day
the amount of money, which is to be paid by the bride-
groom-elect for jewels, etc., is fixed. One or two new
cloths must be given to the girl's grandmother, and the
man's party must announce the number of feasts they
intend to give to the castemen. If the family is poor,
the feasts are mentioned, but do not actually take place.
The marriage ceremony is always celebrated at night.
On the evening of the day prior thereto, the bride and



bridegroom's people proceed to the temple of the village
goddess (Takurani), and, on their way home, go to seven
houses of members of their own or some higher caste,
and ask them to give them water, which is poured into a
small vessel. This vessel is taken home, and hung over
the bedi (marriage dais). The water is used by the bride
and bridegroom on the following morning for bathing.
On the marriage day, the bridegroom proceeds to the
bride's village, and is met on the way by her party, and
escorted by his brother-in-law to the dais. The Bhollo-
bhaya enquires whether the bride's party have received
everything as arranged, and, when he has been assured
on this point, the bride is brought to the dais by her
maternal uncle. She carries with her in her hands a

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