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little salt and rice ; and, after throwing these over the
bridegroom, she sits by his side. The grandfathers of
the contracting couple, or a priest called Dhiyani, offi-
ciate. Their palms are placed together, and the hands
united by a string dyed with turmeric. The union of
the hands is called hasthagonti, and is the binding
portion of the ceremony. Turmeric water is poured
over the hands seven times from a chank or sankha shell.
Seven married women then throw over the heads of
the couple a mixture of Zizyphus Jujuba (borkolipathro)
leaves, rice smeared with turmeric, and Cynodon Dac-
tylon (dhuba) culms. This rite is called bhondaivaro,
and is performed at all auspicious ceremonies. The
fingers of the bride and bridegroom are then linked
together, and they are led by the wife of the bride's
brother seven times round the bedi. The priest then
proclaims that the soot can soon be wiped off the cooking-
pot, but the connection brought about by the marriage
is enduring, and relationship is secured for seven
generations. The pair are taken indoors, and fed. The


remaining days of the marriage ceremonies are given up
to feasting. The remarriage of widows is permitted.
A widow is expected to marry the younger brother of
her deceased husband, or, with his permission, may
marry whom she likes.

When a girl attains maturity, she is seated on a new
mat, and Zizyphus Jujuba leaves are thrown over her.
This ceremony is sometimes repeated daily for six
days, during which sweets, etc., are given to the girl,
and women who bring presents are fed. On the
seventh day, the girl is taken to a tank (pond), and

The dead are either buried or burnt. The corpse is,
at the funeral, borne in the hands, or on a bier, by four
men. Soon after the village boundary has been crossed,
the widow of the deceased throws rice over the eyes of
the corpse, and also a little fire, after taking it three times
round. She usually carries with her a pot and ladle,
which she throws away. If an elderly woman dies,
these rites are performed by her daughter-in-law. At
the burial-ground, the corpse is taken seven times round
the grave, and, as it is lowered into it, those present say
" Oh ! trees, Oh ! sky, Oh ! earth, we are laying him in.
It is not our fault." When the grave has been filled in,
the figures of a man and woman are drawn on it, and
all throw earth over it, saying " You were living with
us ; now you have left us. Do not trouble the people."
On their return home, the mourners sprinkle cowdung
water about the house and over their feet, and toddy is
partaken of. On the following day, all the old pots are
thrown away, and the agnates eat rice cooked with
margosa (Melia Azadirachta] leaves. Food is offered
to the dead person, either at the burial-ground or in the
backyard of the house. On the tenth day, the Dhiyani,



as the priest is called, is sent for, and arrives with his
drum (dhiyani). A small hut is erected on a tank bund
(embankment), and food cooked seven times, and offered
seven times on seven fragments of pots. A new cloth
is spread, and on it food, fruits, a chank shell, etc.,
are placed, and offered to the deceased. The various
articles are put into a new pot, and the son, going into
the water up to his neck, throws the pot into the air,
and breaks it. The celebrants of the rite then return
to the house, and stand in a row in front thereof. They
are there purified by means of milk smeared over their
hands by the Dhiyani. On the twelfth day, food is
offered on twelve leaves.

The Bavuris do not worship Jagannathaswami, or
other of the higher deities, but reverence their ancestors
and the village goddesses or Takuranis. Like other
Oriya classes, the Bavuris name their children on the
twenty-first day. Opprobrious names are common
among them, e.g., Ogadu (dirty fellow), Kangali
(wretched fellow), Haddia (Haddi, or sweeper caste).

Bedar or Boya. " Throughout the hills," Buchanan
writes,* "northward from Capaladurga, are many culti-
vated spots, in which, during Tippoo's government,
were settled many Baydaru or hunters, who received
twelve pagodas (^4 $s.) a year, and served as irregular
troops whenever required. Being accustomed to pursue
tigers and deer in the woods, they were excellent marks-
men with their match-locks, and indefatigable in follow-
ing their prey ; which, in the time of war, was the life
and property of every helpless creature that came in
their way. During the wars of Hyder and his son,
these men were chief instruments in the terrible depre-

Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, 1807.


dations committed in the lower Carnatic. They were
also frequently employed with success against the Poli-
gars (feudal chiefs), whose followers were of a similar
description." In the Gazetteer of the Anantapur district
it is noted that "the Boyas are the old fighting caste
of this part of the country, whose exploits are so often
recounted in the history books. The Poligars' forces,
and Haidar Ali's famous troops were largely recruited
from these people, and they still retain a keen interest
in sport and manly exercises."

In his notes on the Boyas, which Mr. N. E. Q.
Mainwaring has-kindly placed at my disposal, he writes
as follows. "Although, until quite recently, many a
Boya served in the ranks of our Native army, being
entered in the records thereof either under his caste
title of Naidu, or under the heading of Gentu, * which
was largely used in old day military records, yet this
congenial method of earning a livelihood has now been
swept away by a Government order, which directs that
in future no Telegas shall be enlisted into the Indian
army. That the Boyas were much prized as fighting
men in the stirring times of the eighteenth century is
spoken to in the contemporaneous history of Colonel
Wilks.f He speaks of the brave armies of the Poligars
of Chitteldroog, who belonged to the Beder or Boya
race in the year 1755. Earlier, in 1750, Hyder AH,
who was then only a Naik in the service of the Mysore
Raja, used with great effect his select corps of Beder
peons at the battle of Ginjee. Five years after this

* Gentu or Gentoo is "a corruption of the Portuguese Gentio, gentile or
heathen, which they applied to the Hindus in contradistinction to the Moros or
Moors, i.e., Mahommedans. It is applied to the Telugu-speaking Hindus
specially, and to their language." Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

t Historical Sketches of the South of India : Mysore, 181017.


battle, when Hyder was rising to great eminence, he
augmented his Beder peons, and used them as scouts
for the purpose of ascertaining the whereabouts of his
enemies, and for poisoning with the juice of the milk-
hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli) all wells in use by them,
or in their line of march. The historian characterises
them as being ' brave and faithful thieves.' In 1751, the
most select army of Morari Row of Gooty consisted
chiefly of Beder peons, and the accounts of their deeds
in the field, as well as their defence of Gooty fort, which
only fell after the meanness of device had been resorted
to, prove their bravery in times gone by beyond doubt.
There are still a number of old weapons to be found
amongst the Boyas, consisting of swords, daggers,
spears, and matchlocks. None appear to be purely
Boya weapons, but they seem to have assumed the
weapons of either Muhammadans or Hindus, according
to which race held sway at the time. In some districts,
there are still Boya Poligars, but, as a rule, they are
poor, and unable to maintain any position. Generally,
the Boyas live at peace with their neighbours, occasion-
ally only committing a grave dacoity (robbery).*

"In the Kurnool district, they have a bad name, and
many are on the police records as habitual thieves and
housebreakers. They seldom stoop to lesser offences.
Some are carpenters, others blacksmiths who manufac-
ture all sorts of agricultural implements. Some, again,
are engaged as watchmen, and others make excellent
snares for fish out of bamboo. But the majority of them
are agriculturists, and most of them work on their own
putta lands. They are now a hard-working, industrious
people, who have become thrifty by dint of their industry,

* By law, to constitute dacoity, there must be five or more in the gang
committing the crime. Yule and Burnell, op, cit.


and whose former predatory habits are being forgotten.
Each village, or group of villages, submits to the
authority of a headman, who is generally termed the
Naidu, less commonly Dora as chieftain. In some parts
of Kurnool, the headmen are called Simhasana Boyas.
The headman presides at all functions, and settles, with
the assistance of the elders, any disputes that may arise
in the community regarding division of property,
adultery, and other matters. The headman has the
power to inflict fines, the amount of which is regulated
by the status and wealth of the defaulter. But it is
always arranged that the penalty shall be sufficient
to cover the expense of feeding the panchayatdars
(members of council), and leave a little over to be
divided between the injured party and the headman.
In this way, the headman gets paid for his services, and
practically fixes his own remuneration."

It is stated in the Manual of the Bellary district that
"of the various Hindu castes in Bellary, the Boyas
(called in Canarese Bedars, Byedas, or Byadas) are far
the strongest numerically. Many of the Poligars whom
Sir Thomas Munro found in virtual possession of the
country when it was added to the Company belonged
to this caste, and their irregular levies, and also a large
proportion of Haidar's formidable force, were of the same
breed. Harpanahalli was the seat of one of the most
powerful Poligars in the district in the eighteenth
century. The founder of the family was a Boya taliari,
who, on the subversion of the Vijayanagar dynasty, seized
on two small districts near Harpanahalli. The Boyas
are perhaps the only people in the district who still
retain any aptitude for manly sports. They are now for
the most part cultivators and herdsmen or are engaged
under Government as constables, peons, village watchmen


(taliaris), and so forth. Their community provides an
instructive example of the growth of caste sub-divisions.
Both the Telugu-speaking Boyas and the Canarese-
speaking Bedars are split into the two main divisions of
Uru or village men, and Myasa or grass-land men, and
each of these divisions is again sub-divided into a number
of exogamous Bedagas. Four of the best known of
these sub-divisions are Yemmalavaru or buffalo-men ;
Mandalavaru or men of the herd ; Pulavaru or flower-
men, and Mmalavaru or fish-men. They are in no way
totemistic. Curiously enough, each Bedagu has its own
particular god, to which its members pay special rever-
ence. But these Bedagas bear the same names among
both the Boyas and the Bedars, and also among both
the Uru and Myasa divisions of both Boyas and Bedars.
It thus seems clear that, at some distant period, all
the Boyas and all the Bedars must have belonged to
one homogeneous caste. At present, though Uru Boyas
will marry with Uru Bedars and Myasa BSyas with
Myasa Bedars, there is no intermarriage between Urus
and Myasas, whether they be Boyas or Bedars. Even
if Urus and Myasas dine together, they sit in different
rows, each division by themselves. Again, the Urus
(whether Boyas or Bedars) will eat chicken and drink
alcohol, but the Myasas will not touch a fowl or any form
of strong drink, and are so strict in this last matter that
they will not even sit on mats made of the leaf of the
date-palm, the tree which in Bellary provides all the
toddy. The Urus, moreover, celebrate their marriages
with the ordinary ceremonial of the halu-kamba or milk-
post, and the surge, or bathing of the happy pair ; the
bride sits on a flour-grinding stone, and the bridegroom
stands on a basket full of cholam (millet), and they call
in Brahmans to officiate. But the Myasas have a simpler



ritual, which omits most of these points, and dispenses
with the Brahman. Other differences are that the Uru
women wear ravikkais or tight-fitting bodices, while
the Myasas tuck them under their waist-string. Both
divisions eat beef, and both have a hereditary headman
called the ejaman, and hereditary Dasaris who act as
their priests."

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that
the two main divisions of Boyas are called also Pedda
(big) and Chinna (small) respectively, and, according to
another account, the caste has four endogamous sections,
Pedda, Chinna, Sadaru, and Myasa. Sadaru is the
name of a sub-division of Lingayats, found mainly in the
Bellary and Anantapur districts, where they are largely
engaged in cultivation. Some Bedars who live amidst
those Lingayats call themselves Sadaru. According to
the Manual of the North Arcot district, the Boyas are a
" Telugu hunting caste, chiefly found above the ghats.
Many of the Poligars of that part of the country used to
belong to the caste, and proved themselves so lawless
that they were dispossessed. Now they are usually
cultivators. They have several divisions, the chief of
which are the Mulki Boyas and the Pala Boyas, who
cannot intermarry." According to the Mysore Census
Reports, 1891 and 1901, "the Bedas have two distinct
divisions, the Kannada and Telugu, and own some
twenty sub-divisions, of which the following are the
chief: Halu, Machi or Myasa, Nayaka, Pallegar,
Barika, Kannaiyyanajati, and Kirataka. The Machi or
Myasa Bedas comprise a distinct sub-division, also
called the Chunchus. They live mostly in hills, and
outside inhabited places in temporary huts. Portions
of their community had, it is alleged, been coerced into
living in villages, with whose descendants the others


have kept up social intercourse. They do not, however,
eat fowl or pork, but partake of beef; and the Myasa
Bedas are the only Hindu class among whom the rite
of circumcision is performed,* on boys of ten or twelve
years of age. These customs, so characteristic of the
Mussalmans, seem to have been imbibed when the
members of this sub-caste were included in the hordes
of Haidar Ali. Simultaneously with the circumcision,
other rites, such as the panchagavyam, the burning
of the tongue with a mm (Melia Azadirachta) stick,
etc. (customs pre-eminently Brahmanical), are likewise
practised prior to the youth being received into com-
munion. Among their other peculiar customs, the
exclusion from their ordinary dwellings of women in
child-bed and in periodical sickness, may be noted.
The Myasa Bedas are said to scrupulously avoid liquor
or every kind, and eat the. flesh of only two kinds of
birds, viz., gauja (grey partridge), and lavga (rock-bush
quail)." Of circumcision among the Myasa Bedars it is
noted, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that they
practise this rite round about Rayadrug and Gudekota.
" These Myasas seem quite proud of the custom, and
scout with scorn the idea of marrying into any family in
which it is not the rule. The rite is performed when a
boy is seven or eight. A very small piece of the skin is
cut off by a man of the caste, and the boy is then kept
for eleven days in a separate hut, and touched by no
one. His food is given him on a piece of stone. On
the twelfth day he is bathed, given a new cloth, and
brought back to the house, and his old cloth, and the
stone on which his food was served, are thrown away.
His relations in a body then take him to a tangedu

Circumcision is practised by some Kalians of the Tamil country.


(Cassia auriculatd] bush, to which are offered cocoanuts,
flowers, and so forth, and which is worshipped by them
and him. Girls on first attaining puberty are similarly
kept for eleven days in a separate hut, and afterwards
made to do worship to a tangedu bush. This tree also
receives reverence at funerals."

The titles of the Boyas are said to be Naidu or
Nayudu, Naik, Dora, Dorabidda (children of chieftains),
and Valmiki. They claim direct lineal descent from
Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. At times of
census in Mysore, some Bedars have set themselves
up as Valmiki Brahmans. The origin of the Myasa
Bedas is accounted for in the following story. A certain
Bedar woman had two sons, of whom the elder, after
taking his food, went to work in the fields. The
younger son, coming home, asked his mother to give
him food, and she gave him only cholam (millet) and
vegetables. While he was partaking thereof, he recog-
nised the smell of meat, and was angry because his
mother had given him none, and beat her to death. He
then searched the house, and, on opening a pot from which
the smell of meat emanated, found that it only contained
the rotting fibre-yielding bark of some plant. Then,
cursing his luck, he fled to the forest, where he remained,
and became the forefather of the Myasa Bedars.

For the following note on the legendary origin of
the Bedars, I am indebted to Mr. Mainwaring. " Many
stories are told of how they came into existence, each
story bringing out the name which the particular group
may be known by, Some call themselves Nishadulu,
and claim to be the legitimate descendants of Nishadu.
When the great Venudu, who was directly descended
from Brahma, ruled over the universe, he was unable to
procure a son and heir to the throne. When he died, his


death was regarded as an irreparable misfortune. In
grief and doubt as to what was to be done, his body was
preserved. The seven ruling planets, then sat in solemn
conclave, and consulted together as to what they should
do. Finally they agreed to create a being from the
right thigh of the deceased Venudu, and they accordingly
fashioned and gave life to Nishudu. But their work was
not successful, for Nishudu turned out to be not only
deformed in body, but repulsively ugly. It was accord-
ingly agreed, at another meeting of the planets, that he
was not a fit person to be placed on the throne. So
they set to work again, and created a being from the
right shoulder of Venudu. Their second effort was
crowned with success. They called their second creation
Chakravati, and, as he gave general satisfaction, he was
placed on the throne. This supersession naturally
caused Nishudu, the first born, to be discontented, and
he sought a lonely place. There he communed with the
gods, begging of them the reason why they had created
him, if he was not to rule. The gods explained to him
that he could not now be put on the throne, since
Chakravati had already been installed, but that he should
be a ruler over the forests. In this capacity, Nishudu
begot the Koravas, Chenchus, Yanadis, and Boyas.
The Boyas were his legitimate children, while the others
were all illegitimate. According to the legend narrated
in the Valmiki Ramayana, when king Vishwamitra
quarrelled with the Rishi Vashista, the cow Kamadenu
belonging to the latter, grew angry, and shook herself.
From her body an army, which included Nishadulu,
Turka (Muhammadans), and Yevannudu (Yerukalas) at
once appeared.

" A myth related by the Boyas in explanation of
their name Valmikudu runs as follows. In former days,


a Brahman, who lived as a highwayman, murdering and
robbing all the travellers he came across, kept a Boya
female, and begot children by her. One day, when he
went out to carry on his usual avocation, he met the seven
Rishis, who were the incarnations of the seven planets.
He ordered them to deliver their property, or risk their
lives. The Rishis consented to give him all their
property, which was little enough, but warned him that
one day he would be called to account for his sinful
deeds. The Brahman, however, haughtily replied that
he had a large family to maintain, and, as they lived on
his plunder, they would have to share the punishment
that was inflicted upon himself. The Rishis doubted
this, and advised him to go and find out from his family
if they were willing to suffer an equal punishment with
him for his sins. The Brahman went to his house, and
confessed his misdeeds to his wife, explaining that it
was through them that he had been able to keep the
family in luxury. He then told her of his meeting
with the Rishis, and asked her if she would share his
responsibility. His wife and children emphatically
refused to be in any way responsible for his sins, which
they declared were entirely his business. Being at his
wit's end, he returned to the Rishis, told them how
unfortunate he was in his family affairs, and begged
advice of them as to what he should do to be absolved
from his sins. They told him that he should call upon
the god Rama for forgiveness. But, owing to his bad
bringing up and his misspent youth, he was unable to
utter the god's name. So the Rishis taught him to say
it backwards by syllables, thus : ma ra, ma ra, ma ra,
which, by rapid repetition a number of times, gradually
grew into Rama. When he was able to call on his god
without difficulty, the Brahman sat at the scene of his


graver sins, and did penance. White-ants came out of
the ground, and gradually enveloped him in a heap.
After he had been thus buried alive, he became him-
self a Rishi, and was known as Valmiki Rishi, valmiki
meaning an ant-hill. As he had left children by the
Boya woman who lived with him during his prodigal
days, the Boyas claim to be descended from these
children and call themselves Valmikudu."

The Bedars, whom I examined at Hospet in the
Bellary district, used to go out on hunting expeditions,
equipped with guns, deer or hog spears, nets like lawn-
tennis nets used in drives for young deer or hares.
Several men had cicatrices, as the result of encounters
with wild boars during hunting expeditions, or when
working in the sugar plantations. It is noted in the
Bellary Gazetteer that "the only caste which goes in
for manly sports seems to be the Boyas, or Bedars, as
they are called in Canarese. They organise drives for
pig, hunt bears in some parts in a fearless manner, and
are regular attendants at the village gymnasium (garidi
mane), a building without any ventilation often con-
structed partly underground, in which the ideal exercise
consists in using dumbbells and clubs until a profuse
perspiration follows. They get up wrestling matches,
tie a band of straw round one leg, and challenge all and
sundry to remove it, or back themselves to perform feats
of strength, such as running up the steep Joladarasi hill
near Hospet with a bag of grain on their back." At
Hospet wrestling matches are held at a quiet spot
outside the town, to witness which a crowd of many
hundreds collect. The wrestlers, who performed before
me, had the hair shaved clean behind so that the
adversary could not seize them by the back hair, and
the moustache was trimmed short for the same reason.


Two young wrestlers, whose measurements I place on
record, were splendid specimens of youthful muscularity.

cm. cm.

Height 163-2 163

Shoulders 4i'8 42'8

Chest 84 82

Upper arm, flexed ... ... 28 29

Thigh 47 5 1

In the Gazetteer of Anantapur it is stated that the
Telugu New Year's day is the great occasion for driving
pig, and the Boyas are the chief organisers of the beats.
All except children, the aged and infirm, join in them,
and, since to have good sport is held to be the best of
auguries for the coming year, the excitement aroused
is almost ludicrous in its intensity. It runs so high that
the parties from rival villages have been known to use
their weapons upon one another, instead of upon the
beasts of the chase. In an article entitled " Boyas and
bears " * a European sportsman gives the following
graphic description of a bear hunt. " We used to sleep
out on the top of one of the hills on a moonlight night.
On the top of every hill round, a Boya was watching for
the bears to come home at dawn, and frantic signals
showed when one had been spotted. We hurried off to
the place, to try and cut the bear off from his residence
among the boulders, but the country was terribly rough,
and the hills were covered with a peculiarly persistent
wait-a-bit-thorn. This, however, did not baulk the
Boyas. Telling me to wait outside the jumble of rocks,
each man took off his turban, wound it round his left
forearm, to act as a shield against attacks from the bear,
lit a rude torch, grasped his long iron-headed spear, and

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