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* Madras Mail, 1902.


coolly walked into the inky blackness of the enemy's
stronghold, to turn him out for me to shoot at. I used
to feel ashamed of the minor part assigned to me in the
entertainment, and asked to be allowed to go inside with
them. But this suggestion was always respectfully, but
very firmly put aside. One could not see to shoot in
such darkness, they explained, and, if one fired, smoke
hung so long in the still air of the caves that the bear
obtained an unpleasant advantage, and, finally, bullets
fired at close quarters into naked rock were apt to splash
or re-bound in an uncanny manner. So I had to wait
outside until the bear appeared with a crowd of cheering
and yelling Boyas after him." Of a certain cunning
bear the same writer records that, unable to shake the
Boyas off, "he had at last taken refuge at the bottom
of a sort of dark pit, ' four men deep ' as the Boyas put
it, under a ledge of rock, where neither spears nor
torches could reach him. Not to be beaten, three of
the Boyas at length clambered down after him, and
unable otherwise to get him to budge from under the
mass of rock beneath which he had squeezed himself,
fired a cheap little nickel-plated revolver one of them
had brought twice into his face. The bear then con-
cluded that his refuge was after all an unhealthy spot,
rushed out, knocking one of the three men against the
rocks as he did so, with a force which badly barked one
shoulder, clambered out of the pit, and was thereafter
kept straight by the Boyas until he got to the entrance
of his residence, where I was waiting for him."

Mr. Mainwaring writes that " the Boyas are adepts
at shikar (hunting). They use a bullock to stalk ante-
lope, which they shoot with matchlocks. Some keep
a tame buck, which they let loose in the vicinity of a
herd of antelope, having previously fastened a net over


his horns. As soon as the tame animal approaches the
herd, the leading buck will come forward to investigate
the intruder. The tame buck does not run away, as he
probably would if he had been brought up from infancy
to respect the authority of the buck of the herd. A fight
naturally ensues, and the exchange of a few butts finds
them fastened together by the net. It is then only
necessary for the shikaris to rush up, and finish the strife
with a knife."

Among other occupations, the Boyas and Bedars
collect honey-combs, which, in some places, have to be
gathered from crevices in overhanging rocks, which have
to be skilfully manipulated from above or below.

The Bedar men, whom I saw during the rainy
season, wore a black woollen kambli (blanket) as a body-
cloth, and it was also held over the head as a protection
against the driving showers of the south-west monsoon.
The same cloth further does duty as a basket for bring-
ing back to the town heavy loads of grass. Some of
the men wore a garment with the waist high up in the
chest, something like an English rustic's smock frock.
Those who worked in the fields carried steel tweezers
on a string round the loins, with which to remove
babul (Acacia arabica) thorns, twigs of which tree are
used as a protective hedge for fields under cultivation.
As examples of charms worn by men the following may
be cited :

String tied round right upper arm with metal
talisman box attached to it, to drive away devils.
String round ankle for the same purpose.

Quarter-anna rolled up in cotton cloth, and worn on
upper arm in performance of a vow.

A man, who had dislocated his shoulder when a lad,
had been tattooed with a figure of Hanuman (the


monkey god) over the deltoid muscle to remove
the pain.

Necklet of coral and ivory beads worn as a vow to the
Goddess Huligamma, whose shrine is in Hyderabad.
Necklets of ivory beads and a gold disc with the
Vishnupad (feet of Vishnu) engraved on it. Pur-
chased from a religious mendicant to bring
good luck.

Myasa Bedar women are said ^ to be debarred from
wearing toe-rings. Both Uru and Myasa women are
tattooed on the face, and on the upper extremities with
elaborate designs of cars, scorpions, centipedes, Sita's
jade (plaited hair), Hanuman, parrots, etc. Men are
branded by the priest of a Hanuman shrine on the
shoulders with the emblem of the chank shell (Turbinella
rapa) and chakram (wheel of the law) in the belief that
it enables them to go to Swarga (heaven). When a
Myasa man is branded, he has to purchase a cylindrical
basket called gopala made by a special Medara woman,
a bamboo stick, fan, and winnow. Female Bedars who
are branded become Basavis (dedicated prostitutes),
and are dedicated to a male deity, and called Gandu
Basavioru (male Basavis). They are thus dedicated
when there happens to be no male child in a family ; or,
if a girl falls ill, a vow is made to the effect that, if she
recovers, she shall become a Basavi. If a son is born
to such a woman, he is affiliated with her father's family.
Some Bedar women, whose house deities are goddesses
instead of gods, are not branded, but a string with white
bone beads strung on it, and a gold disc with two feet
(Vishnupad) impressed on it, is tied round their neck by
a Kuruba woman called Pattantha Ellamma (priestess

* Mysore Census Report, 1901.


to Uligamma). Bedar girls, whose house deities are
females, when they are dedicated as Basavis, have in
like manner a necklace, but with black beads, tied round
the neck, and are called Hennu Basavis (female Basavis).
For the ceremony of dedication to a female deity, the
presence of the Madiga goddess Matangi is necessary.
The Madigas bring a bent iron rod with a cup at one
end, and twigs of Vitex Negundo to represent the
goddess, to whom goats are sacrificed. The iron rod is
set up in front of the doorway, a wick and oil are placed
in the cup, and the impromptu lamp is lighted. Various
cooked articles of food are offered, and partaken of by
the assembled Bedars. Bedar women sometimes live in
concubinage with Muhammadans. And some Bedars,
at the time of the Mohurram festival, wear a thread
across the chest like Muhammadans, and may not enter
their houses till they have washed themselves.

According to the Mysore Census Report, 1901, the
chief deity of the Bedars is "Tirupati Venkataramana-
swami worshipped locally under the name of Tirumala-
devaru, but offerings and sacrifices are also made to
Mariamma. Their guru is known as Tirumalatatacharya,
who is also a head of the Srivaishnava Brahmans. The
Uru Boyas employ Brahmans and Jangams as priests."
In addition to the deities mentioned, the Bedars worship
a variety of minor gods, such as Kanimiraya, Kanakara-
yan, Uligamma, Palaya, Poleramma, and others, to whom
offerings of fruits and vegetables, and sacrifices of sheep
and goats are made. The Dewan of Sandur informs me
that, in recent times, some Myasa Bedars have changed
their faith, and are now Saivas, showing special reverence
to Mahadeva. They were apparently converted by Jang-
ams, but not to the fullest extent. The guru is the
head of the Ujjani Lingayat matt (religious institution)


in the Kudligi taluk of Bellary. They do not wear
the lingam. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the
patron deity of the Boyas is said to be Kanya Devudu.

Concerning the religion of the Boyas, Mr. Main-
waring writes as follows. " They worship both Siva
and Vishnu, and also different gods in different localities.
In the North Arcot district, they worship Tirupatiswami.
In Kurnool, it is Kanya Devudu. In Cuddapah and
Anantapur, it is Chendrugadu, and many, in Anantapur,
worship Akkamma, who is believed to be the spirit of
the seven virgins. At Uravakonda, in the Anantapur
district, on the summit of an enormous rock, is a temple
dedicated to Akkamma, in which the seven virgins are
represented by seven small golden pots or vessels.
Cocoanuts, rice, and dal (Cajanus indicus) form the
offerings of the Boyas. The women, on the occasion of
the Nagalasauthi or snake festival, worship the Nagala
swami by fasting, and pouring milk into the holes of
1 white-ant ' hills. By this, a double object is fulfilled.
The ' ant ' heap is a favourite dwelling of the naga or
cobra, and it was the burial-place of Valmiki, so homage
is paid to the two at the same time. Once a year,
a festival is celebrated in honour of the deceased
ancestors. This generally takes place about the end of
November. The Boyas make no use of Brahmans for
religious purposes. They are only consulted as regards
the auspicious hour at which to tie the tali at a wedding.
Though the Boya finds little use for the Brahman, there
are times when the latter needs the services of the Boya.
The Boya cannot be dispensed with, if a Brahman
wishes to perform Vontigadu, a ceremony by which he
hopes to induce favourable auspices under which to
celebrate a marriage. The story has it that Vontigadu
was a destitute Boya, who died from starvation. It is


possible that Brahmans and Sudras hope in some way
to ameliorate the sufferings of the race to which Vonti-
gadu belonged, by feeding sumptuously his modern
representative on the occasion of performing the
Vontigadu ceremony. On the morning of the day on
which the ceremony, for which favourable auspices are
required, is performed, a Boya is invited to the house.
He is given a present of gingelly (Sesamum) oil, where-
with to anoint himself. This done, he returns, carrying
in his hand a dagger, on the point of which a lime has
been stuck. He is directed to the cowshed, and there
given a good meal. After finishing the meal, he steals
from the shed, and dashes out of the house, uttering
a piercing yell, and waving his dagger. He on no
account looks behind him. The inmates of the house
follow for some distance, throwing water wherever he
has trodden. By this means, all possible evil omens for
the coming ceremony are done away with."

I gather * that some Boyas in the Bellary district
" enjoy inam (rent free) lands for propitiating the village
goddesses by a certain rite called bhuta bali. This
takes place on the last day of the feast of the village
goddess, and is intended to secure the prosperity of the
village. The Boya priest gets himself shaved at about
midnight, sacrifices a sheep or a buffalo, mixes its blood
with rice, and distributes the rice thus prepared in small
balls throughout the limits of the village. When he
starts out on this business, the whole village bolts its
doors, as it is not considered auspicious to see him then.
He returns early in the morning to the temple of the
goddess from which he started, bathes, and receives new
cloths from the villagers."


* Madras Mail, 1905.



At Hospet the Bedars have two buildings called
chavadis, built by subscription among members of their
community, which they use as a meeting place, and
whereat caste councils are held. At Sandur the Uru
Bedars submit their disputes to their guru, a Srlvaish-
nava Brahman, for settlement. If a case ends in a
verdict of guilty against an accused person, he is fined,
and purified by the guru with thirtham (holy water).
In the absence of the guru, a caste headman, called
Kattaintivadu, sends a Dasari, who may or may not
be a Bedar, who holds office under the guru, to invite
the castemen and the Samaya, who represents the
guru in his absence, to attend a caste meeting.
The Samayas are the pujaris at Hanuman and other
shrines, and perform the branding ceremony, called
chakrankitam. The Myasa Bedars have no guru, but,
instead of him, pujaris belonging to their own caste,
who are in charge of the affairs of certain groups of
families. Their caste messenger is called Dalavai.

The following are examples of exogamous septs
among the Boyas, recorded by Mr. Mainwaring :

Mukkara, nose or ear orna-

Majjiga, butter-milk.

Kukkala, dog.

Pula, flowers.

Pandhi, pig.

Chilakala, paroquet.

Hastham, hand.

Yelkameti, good rat.

Mlsala, whiskers.

Nemili, peacock.

Pegula, intestines.

Mljam, seed.

Uttareni, Achyranthes

Puchakayala, Citrullns Colo-


Gandhapodi, sandal powder.
Pasula, cattle.
Chinthakayala, Tamarindus

Avula, cow.

Udumala, lizard (Varanus},
Pulagam, cooked rice and dhal.
Boggula, charcoal.
Midathala, locust.
Potta, abdomen.
Utla, swing for holding pots.
Rottala, bread.
Chimpiri, rags.



Panchalingala, five lingams.

Gudisa, hut.

Tola, garden.

Lanka, island.

Bilpathri, /Egle Marmelos.

Kodi-kandla, fowl's eyes.

Gadidhe-kandla, donkey's


Joti, light.
Namala, the Vaishnavite


Nagellu, plough.
Ulligadda, onions.
Jinkala, gazelle.
Dandu, army.
Kattelu, sticks or faggots.
Mekala, goat.
Nakka, jackal.

Kotala, fort.

Chapa, mat.

Guntala, pond.

Thappata, drum.

Bellapu, jaggery.

Chlmala, ants.

Genneru, Nerium odorum.

Pichiga, sparrows.

Uluvala, Dolichos biflorus.

Geddam, beard.

Eddula, bulls.

Cheruku, sugar-cane.

Pasupu, turmeric.

Aggi, fire.

Mirapakaya, Capsicum frutescens.

Janjapu, sacred thread.

Sankati, ragi or millet pudding.

Jerripothu, centipede.

Guvvala, pigeon.

Chevvula, ear.

Many of these septs are common to the Boyas and
other classes, as shown by the following list :
Avula, cow Korava.
Boggula, charcoal Devanga.
Cheruku, sugar-cane Jogi, Odde.
Chevvula, ear Golla.
Chilakala, paroquet Kapu, Yanadi.
Chlmala, ants Tsakala.
Chinthakayala, tamarind fruit Devanga.
Dandu, army Kapu.
Eddula, bulls Kapu.

Gandhapodi, sandal powder a sub-division of Balija.
Geddam, beard Padma Sale.
Gudisa, hut Kapu.
Guvvala, pigeon Mutracha.
Jinkala, gazelle Padma Sale.
Kukkala, dog Orugunta Kapu.
Lanka, island Kanima,

Mekala, goat Chenchu, Golla, Kamma, Kapu, Togata,


Midathala, locust Madiga.

Nakkala, jackal Dudala, Golla, Mutracha.

Nemili, peacock Balija.

Pichiga, sparrow Devanga.

Pandhi, pig Asili, Gamalla.

Pasula, cattle Madiga, Mala.

Puchakaya, colocynth Komati, Vlramushti.

Pula, flowers Padma Sale, Yerukala.

Tota, garden Chenchu, Mila, Mutracha, Bonthuk Savara.

Udumala, lizard Kapu, Tottiyan, Yanadi.

Ulligadda, onions Korava.

Uluvala, horse-gram Jogi.

Utla, swing for holding pots Padma Sale.

At Hospet, the preliminaries of a marriage among
the Myasa Bedars are arranged by the parents of the
parties concerned and the chief men of the keri (street).
On the wedding day, the bride and bridegroom sit on a
raised platform, and five married men place rice stained
with turmeric on the feet, knees, shoulders, and head
of the bridegroom. This is done three times, and five
married women then perform a similar ceremony on the
bride. The bridegroom takes up the tali, and, with the
sanction of the assembled Bedars, ties it on the bride's
neck. In some places it is handed to a Brahman priest,
who ties it instead of the bridegroom. The unanimous
consent of those present is necessary before the tali-
tying is proceeded with. The marriage ceremony
among the Oru Bedars is generally performed at the
bride's house, whither the bridegroom and his party
proceed on the eve of the wedding. A feast, called
thuppathuta or ghi (clarified butter) feast, is held,
towards which the bridegroom's parents contribute rice,
cocoanuts, betel leaves and nuts, and make a present
of five bodices (ravike). At the conclusion of the feast,
all assemble beneath the marriage pandal (booth), and


betel is distributed in a recognised order of prece-
dence, commencing with the guru and the god. On the
following morning four big pots, smeared with turmeric
and chunam (lime) are placed in four corners, so as
to have a square space (irani square) between them.
Nine turns of cotton thread are wound round the pots.
Within the square the bridegroom and two young girls
seat themselves. Rice is thrown over them, and they
are anointed. They and the bride are then washed by
five women called bhumathoru. The bridegroom and
one of the girls are carried in procession to the temple,
followed by the five women, one of whom carries a brass
vessel with five betel leaves and a ball of sacred ashes
(vibuthi) over its mouth, and another a woman's cloth
on a metal dish, while the remaining three women and
the bridegroom's parents throw rice. Cocoanuts and
betel are offered to Hanuman, and lines are drawn on
the face of the bridegroom with the sacred ashes. The
party then return to the house. The lower half of a
grinding mill is placed beneath the pandal, and a Brah-
man priest invites the contracting couple to stand
thereon. He then takes the tali, and ties it on the
bride's neck, after it has been touched by the bride-
groom. Towards evening the newly married couple sit
inside the house, and close to them is placed a big brass
vessel containing a mixture of cooked rice, jaggery (crude
sugar) and curds, which is brought by the women
already referred to. They give a small quantity thereof
to the couple, and go away. Five Bedar men come
near the vessel after removing their head-dress, surround
the vessel, and place their left hands thereon. With
their right hands they shovel the food into their mouths,
and bolt it with all possible despatch. This ceremony
is called bhuma idothu, or special eating, and is in some


places performed by both men and women. All those
present watch them eating, and, if any one chokes while
devouring the food, or falls ill within a few months, it is
believed to indicate that the bride has been guilty of
irregular behaviour. On the following day the con-
tracting couple go through the streets, accompanied by
Bedars, the brass vessel and female cloth, and red powder
is scattered broadcast. On the morning of the third and
two following days, the newly married couple sit on a
pestle, and are anointed after rice has been showered
over them. The bride's father presents his son-in-law
with a turban, a silver ring, and a cloth. It is said that
a man may marry two sisters, provided that he marries
the elder before the younger.

The following variant of the marriage ceremonies
among the Boyas is given by Mr. Main waring. " When
a Boya has a son who should be settled in life, he nomi-
nally goes in search of a bride for him, though it has
probably been known for a long time who the boy is to
marry. However, the formality is gone through. The
father of the boy, on arrival at the home of the future
bride, explains to her father the object of his visit.
They discuss each other's families, and, if satisfied that
a union would be beneficial to both families, the father
of the girl asks his visitor to call again, on a day that is
agreed to, with some of the village elders. On the
appointed day, the father of the lad collects the elders
of his village, and proceeds with them to the house of
the bride-elect. He carries with him four moottus
(sixteen seers) of rice, one seer of dhal (Cajanus indicus),
two seers of ghi (clarified butter), some betel leaves
and areca nuts, a seer of fried gram, two lumps of
jaggery (molasses), five garlic bulbs, five dried dates,
five pieces of turmeric, and a female jacket. In the


evening, the elders of both sides discuss the marriage,
and, when it is agreed to, the purchase money has to be
at once paid. The cost of a bride is always 101 madas,
or Rs. 202. Towards this sum, sixteen rupees are
counted out, and the total is arrived at by counting
areca nuts. The remaining nuts, and articles which
were brought by the party of the bridegroom, are then
placed on a brass tray, and presented to the bride-elect,
who is requested to take three handfuls of nuts and the
same quantity of betel leaves. On some occasions, the
betel leaves are omitted. Betel is then distributed to
the assembled persons. The provisions which were
brought are next handed over to the parents of the girl,
in addition to two rupees. These are to enable her
father to provide himself with a sheet, as well as to give
a feast to all those who are present at the betrothal. This
is done on the following morning, when both parties
breakfast together, and separate. The wedding is
usually fixed for a day a fortnight or a month after the
betrothal ceremony. The ceremony differs but slightly
from that performed by various other castes. A purohit
is consulted as to the auspicious hour at which the tali
or bottu should be tied. This having been settled, the
bridegroom goes, on the day fixed, to the bride's village,
or sometimes the bride goes to the village of the bride-
groom. Supposing the bridegroom to be the visitor,
the bride's party carries in procession the provisions
which are to form the meal for the bridegroom's party,
and this will be served on the first night. As the
auspicious hour approaches, the bride's party leave her
in the house, and go and fetch the bridegroom, who is
brought in procession to the house of the bride. On
arrival, he is made to stand under the pandal which has
been erected. A curtain is tied therein from north to


south. The bridegroom then stands on the east of the
curtain, and faces west. The bride is brought from the
house, and placed on the west of the curtain, facing her
future husband. The bridegroom then takes up the
bottu, which is generally a black thread with a small
gold bead upon it. He shows it to the assembled
people, and asks permission to fasten it on the bride's
neck. The permission is accorded with acclamations.
He then fastens the bottu on the bride's neck, and she,
in return, ties a thread from a black cumbly (blanket),
on which a piece of turmeric has been threaded, round
the right wrist of the bridegroom. After this, the bride-
groom takes some seed, and places it in the bride's hand.
He then puts some pepper-corns with the seed, and
forms his hands into a cup over those of the bride.
Her father then pours milk into his hand, and the bride-
groom, holding it, swears to be faithful to his wife until
death. After he has taken the oath, he allows the milk
to trickle through into the hands of the bride. She
receives it, and lets it drop into a vessel placed on the
ground between them. This is done three times, and
the oath is repeated with each performance. Then the
bride goes through the same ceremony, swearing on each
occasion to be true to her husband until death. This
done, both wipe their hands on some rice, which is
placed close at hand on brass trays. In each of these
trays there must be five seers of rice, five pieces of
turmeric, five bulbs of garlic, a lump of jaggery, five
areca nuts, and five dried dates. When their hands are
dry, the bridegroom takes as much of the rice as he can
in his hands, and pours it over the bride's head. He
does this three times, before submitting to a similar
operation at the hands of the bride. Then each takes a
tray, and upsets the contents over the other. At this


stage, the curtain is removed, and, the pair standing side
by side, their cloths are knotted together. The knot is
called the knot of Brahma, and signifies that it is Brahma
who has tied them together. They now walk out of the
pandal, and make obeisance to the sun by bowing, and
placing their hands together before their breasts in the
reverential position of prayer. Returning to the pandal,
they go to one corner of it, where five new and gaudily
painted earthenware pots filled with water have been
previously arranged. Into one of these pots, one of the
females present drops a gold nose ornament, or a man
drops a ring. The bride and bridegroom put their right
hands into the pot, and search for the article. Which-
ever first finds it takes it out, and, showing it, declares
that he or she has found it. This farce is repeated three
times, and the couple then take their seats on a cumbly
in the centre of the pandal, and await the preparation
of the great feast which closes the ceremony. For this,
two sheep are killed, and the friends and relations who
have attended are given as much curry and rice as they
can eat. Next morning, the couple go to the bride-
groom's village, or, if the wedding took place at his
village, to that of the bride, and stay there three days
before returning to the marriage pandal. Near the five
water-pots already mentioned, some white-ant earth
has been spread at the time of the wedding, and on this
some paddy (unhusked rice) and dhal seeds have been
scattered on the evening of the day on which the wedding
commenced. By the time the couple return, these seeds

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