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have sprouted. A procession is formed, and the seedlings,
being gathered up by the newly married couple, are
carried to the village well, into which they are thrown.
This ends the marriage ceremony. At their weddings,
the Boyas indulge in much music. Their dresses are


gaudy, and suitable to the occasion. The bridegroom,
if he belongs to either of the superior gotras, carries
a dagger or sword placed in his cummerbund (loin-
band). A song which is frequently sung at weddings is
known as the song of the seven virgins. The presence
of a Basavi at a wedding is looked on as a good
omen for the bride, since a Basavi can never become a

In some places, a branch of Ficus religiosa or Ficus
bengalensis is planted in front of the house as the mar-
riage milk-post. If it withers, it is thrown away, but, if
it takes root, it is reared. By some Bedars a vessel is
filled with milk, and into it a headman throws the nose
ornament of a married woman, which is searched for by
the bride and bridegroom three times. The milk is then
poured into a pit, which is closed up. In the North
Arcot Manual it is stated that the Boya bride, " besides
having a golden tali tied to her neck, has an iron ring
fastened to her wrist with black string, and the bride-
groom has the same. Widows may not remarry or wear
black bangles, but they wear silver ones."

" Divorce," Mr. Mainwaring writes, " is permitted.
Grounds for divorce would be adultery and ill-treatment.
The case would be decided by a panchayat (council). A
divorced woman is treated as a widow. The remarriage
of widows is not permitted, but there is nothing to
prevent a widow keeping house for a man, and begetting
children by him. The couple would announce their
intention of living together by giving a feast to the
caste. If this formality was omitted, they would be
regarded as outcastes till it was complied with. The
offspring of such unions are considered illegitimate, and
they are not taken or given in marriage to legitimate
children, Here we come to further social distinctions.


Owing to promiscuous unions, the following classes

spring into existence :

1. Swajathee Sumpradayam. Pure Boyas, the offspring of
parents who have been properly married in the proper divisions and

2. Koodakonna Sumpradayam. The offspring of a Boya female,
who is separated or divorced from her husband who is still alive, and
who cohabits with another Boya.

3. Vithunthu Sumpradayam. The offspring of a Boya widow
by a Boya.

4. Arsumpradayam. The offspring of a Boya man or woman,
resulting from cohabitation with a member of some other caste.

The Swajathee Sumpradayam should only marry
among themselves. Koodakonna Sumpradayam and
Vithunthu Sumpradayam may marry among themselves,
or with each other. Both being considered illegitimate,
they cannot marry Swajathee Sumpradayam, and would
not marry Arsumpradayam, as these are not true Boyas,
and are nominally outcastes, who must marry among

On the occasion of a death among the Uru Bedars of
Hospet, the corpse is carried on a bier by Uru Bedars
to the burial-ground, with a new cloth thrown over, and
flowers strewn thereon. The sons of the deceased each
place a quarter-anna in the mouth of the corpse, and
pour water near the grave. After it has been laid
therein, all the agnates throw earth into it, and it is
filled in and covered over with a mound, on to the head
end of which five quarter-anna pieces are thrown. The
eldest son, or a near relation, takes up a pot filled with
water, and stands at the head of the grave, facing west.
A hole is made in the pot, and, after going thrice round
the grave, he throws away the pot behind him, and goes
home without looking back. This ceremony is called
thelagolu, and, if a person dies without any heir, the


individual who performs it succeeds to such property as
there may be. On the third day the mound is smoothed
down, and three stones are placed over the head, abdo-
men, and legs of the corpse, and whitewashed. A
woman brings some luxuries in the way of food, which
are mixed up in a winnowing tray divided into three
portions, and placed in the front of the stones for crows
to partake of. Kites and other animals are driven away,
if they attempt to steal the food. On the ninth day, the
divasa (the day) ceremony is performed. At the spot
where the deceased died is placed a decorated brass
vessel representing the soul of the departed, with five
betel leaves and a ball of sacred ashes over its mouth.
Close to it a lamp is placed, and a sheep is killed.
Two or three days afterwards, rice and vegetables are
cooked. Those who have been branded carry their
gods, represented by the cylindrical bamboo basket and
stick already referred to, to a stream, wash them therein,
and do worship. On their return home, the food is
offered to their gods, and served first to the Dasari,
and then to the others, who must not eat till they have
received permission from the Dasari. When a Myasa
Bedar, who has been branded, dies his basket and stick
are thrown into the grave with the corpse.

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, the Mysore
Bedars are said to cremate the dead, and on the follow-
ing day to scatter the ashes on five tangedu (Cassia
auriculata] trees.

It is noted by Buchanan * that the spirits of Baydaru
men who die without having married become Virika
(heroes), and to their memory have small temples and
images erected, where offerings of cloth, rice, and the

* Op. tit.


like, are made to their names. If this be neglected,
they appear in dreams, and threaten those who are
forgetful of their duty. These temples consist of a heap
or cairn of stones, in which the roof of a small cavity
is supported by two or three flags ; and the image is a
rude shapeless stone, which is occasionally oiled, as in
this country all other images are."

Bedar. See Vedan.

Begara. Begara or Byagara is said to be a synonym
applied by Canarese Lingayats to Holeyas.

Behara.- Recorded, at times of census, as a title
of various Oriya castes, e.g., Alia, Aruva, Dhobi,
Gaudo, Jaggali, Kevuto, Kurumo, Ronguni, and Sondi.
In some cases, e.g., among the Rongunis, the title is
practically an exogamous sept. The headman of many
Oriya castes is called Behara.

Bejjo. A sub-division of Bhondari, and title of

Belata (Feronia elephantum : wood-apple). An
exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Bellapu (jaggery : palm-sugar). An exogamous
sept of Boya.

Bellara. " The Bellaras, or Belleras," Mr. H. A.
Stuart writes,* "are a somewhat higher caste of basket
and mat-makers than the Parava umbrella-makers and
devil-dancers. They speak a dialect of Canarese (see
South Canara Manual, Vol. II). They follow the aliya
santana law (inheritance in the female line), but divorce
is not so easy as amongst most adherents of that rule
of inheritance, and divorced women, it is said, may not
marry again. Widows, however, may remarry. The
dead are either burned or buried, and a feast called Yede

Manual of the South Canara district.


Besala is given annually in the name of deceased
ancestors. The use of alcohol and flesh, except beef, is
permitted. They make both grass and bamboo mats."

Bellathannaya (jaggery : crude sugar). An exo-
gamous sept of Bant.

Belle (white). An exogamous sept of Kuruba.
The equivalent bile occurs as a gotra of Kurni.

Belli. Belli or Velli, meaning silver, has been
recorded as an exogamous sept of Badaga, Korava,
Kuruba, Madiga, Okkiliyan, Toreya, and Vakkaliga.
The Belli Toreyas may not wear silver toe-rings.

Vellikkai, or silver-handed, has been returned as
a sub-division of the Konga Vellalas.

Belli (Feronia elephantum}. An exogamous sept
of Kuruba.

Benayito. A sub-division of Odiya.

Bende (Hibiscus esculentus], An exogamous sept
of Kuruba. The mucilaginous fruit (bendekai or bandi-
coy) of this plant is a favourite vegetable of both Natives
and Europeans. The nick-name Bendekai is sometimes
given, in reference to the sticky nature of the fruit, to
those who try to smooth matters over between contend-
ing parties.

Bengri (frog). A sept of Domb.

Benia. A small caste of Oriya cultivators and
palanquin-bearers in Ganjam. It is on record* that in
Ganjam honey and wax are collected by the Konds and
Benias, who are expert climbers of precipitous rocks
and lofty trees. The name is said to be derived from
bena, grass, as the occupation of the caste was formerly
to remove grass, and clear land for cultivation.

Benise (flint stone). An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Agricultural Ledger Series, Calcutta, No. 7, 1904.


Benne (butter). A gotra of Kurni.

Bepari. -Bepari is, in the Madras Census Report,
described as " a caste allied to the Lambadis. Its
members worship a female deity called Banjara, speak
the Bepari or Lambadi language, and claim to be
Kshatriyas." Bhonjo, the title of the Rajah of Gumsur,
was returned as a sub-caste. The Rev. G. Gloyer *
correctly makes the name Boipari synonymous with
Brinjari, and his illustration of a Boipari family repre-
sents typical Lambadis or Brinjaris. Bepari and Boipari
are forms of Vyapari or Vepari, meaning a trader. The
Beparis are traders and carriers between the hills
and plains in the Vizagapatam Agency tracts. Mr. C.
Hayavadana Rao informs me that " they regard them-
selves as immune from the attacks of tigers, if they take
certain precautions. Most of them have to pass through
places infested with these beasts, and their favourite
method of keeping them off is as follows. As soon as
they encamp at a place, they level a square bit of ground,
and light fires in the middle of it, round which they pass
the night. It is their firm belief that the tiger will not
enter the square, from fear lest it should become blind,
and eventually be shot. I was once travelling towards
Malkangiri from Jeypore, when I fell in with a party of
these people encamped in the manner described. At
that time, several villages about Malkangiri were being
ravaged by a notorious man-eater (tiger)."

Beralakoduva (finger-giving). A section of the
Vakkaligas, among whom the custom of sacrificing some
of the fingers used to prevail. (See Morasu.)

Beri Chetti. The Beri Chettis, or principal
merchants, like other Chettis and Komatis, claim to be

* Jeypore. Breklum, 1901.


Vaisyas, " but they will not admit that the Komatis are
on a par with them, and declare that they alone
represent the true Vaisya stock."* With regard to their
origin, the Kanyakapurana states that a certain king
wanted to marry a beautiful maiden of the Komati caste.
When the Komatis declined to agree to the match, the
king began to persecute them, and those Komatis who
left the country out of fear were called Beri or Bediri
(fear) Chettis. The story is, in fact, similar to that told
by the Nattukottai Chettis, and the legend, no doubt,
refers to persecution of some king, whose extortion went
beyond the limits of custom. Another derivation of the
word Beri is from perumai, greatness or splendour. The
name Beri, as applied to a sub-division of the Komatis,
is said to be a corruption of bedari, and to denote those
who fled through fear, and did not enter the fire-pits
with the caste goddess Kanyakamma.

The legend of the Beri Chettis, as given by Mr. H. A.
Stuart,* states that " Kaveripuram near Kumbakonam
was formerly the town in which the caste principally
resided. The king of the country attempted to obtain
a Beri Chetti maiden in marriage, but was refused, and
he therefore persecuted them, and drove them out of his
dominions, forbidding interchange of meals between
them and any other caste whatever a prohibition which
is still in force."

The Beri Chettis have a number of endogamous
divisions, named after geographical areas, towns, etc.,
such as Tirutaniyar, Acharapakaththar, Telungu, Pak-
kam, Musalpakam. Among these there is an order of
social precedence, some of the divisions interdining,
others not.

* Manual of the North Arcot district.


The Beri Chettis are, like the Kammalans (artisan
class), a leading caste of the left-hand section, and the
following story is narrated. While the Beris were living
at Kaveripuram in a thousand houses, each house
bearing a distinct gotra (house name,) a king, who took
wives from among all castes, wanted the Beris to give
him one of their maidens. Though unwilling, they
promised to do so, but made up their minds to get over
the difficulty by a ruse. On the day fixed for the
marriage, all the Beri families left the place, after a male
black dog had been tied to the milk-post of the marriage
pandal (booth). When he learnt what had occurred, the
king was very angry, and forbade all castes to take water
from the Beris. And this led to their joining the left-
hand section.

The Beri Chettis resort to the panchayat system of
administration of affairs affecting the caste, and the
headman, called Peridanakkaran, is assisted by a barber
of the left-hand section. They are in favour of infant
marriages, though adult marriage is not prohibited.
They are not allowed to tie plantain trees to the posts of
the wedding pandal, with the trees touching the ground.
If this is done, the Paraiyans, who belong to the right-
hand section, cut them down. This custom is still
observed in some out-of-the way villages. Upanayanam,
or investiture with the sacred thread, is either performed
long before marriage, or by some along with the
marriage rite. A man or boy, after investiture, always
wears the thread.

Most of the Beri Chettis are meat-eaters, but some
profess to be vegetarians.

It is said that there is much dispute between the
Beri Chettis and the Komatis regarding their relative
positions, and each caste delights to tell stories to


the detriment of the other. In general estimation, how-
ever, the Beris are deemed a little inferior to the
Komatis." * The claim of the Beri Chettis to be
Vaisyas is based on the following legend, as given by
Mr. Stuart.t " In the time of the Cholas, they erected
a water-pandal, and Komatis claimed the right to use
it, which was at once denied. The king attempted to
solve the question by reference to inscriptions in the
Kamakshiamma temple at Conjeeveram, but without
success. He then proposed that the rivals should
submit to the ordeal of carrying water in an unbaked
pot. This was agreed to, and the Beri Chettis were
alone successful. The penalty for failure was a fine
of Rs. 12,000, which the Komatis could not pay, and
they were therefore obliged to enslave themselves to a
Beri Chetti woman, who paid the fine. Their descend-
ants are still marked men, who depend upon Beri
Chettis for their subsistence. The great body of the
Komatis in the country were not parties to the agreement,
and they do not now admit that their inferiority has ever
been proved." According to another version of the
legend, during the reign of the Cholas, a water-pandal
was erected by the Beris, and the Komatis claimed the
right to use it. This was refused on the ground that
they were not Vaisyas. The question at issue was
referred to the king, who promised to enquire into it,
but did not do so. A Viramushti (caste beggar of the
Beri Chettis and Komatis) killed the king's horse and
elephant. When questioned as to his reason for so
doing, he explained that it was to call the king's attention
to the dispute, and restored the animals to life. The
king then referred both parties to Conjeeveram, where a

* Madras Census Report, 1891. t Op. cit.


sasanam (copper-plate grant) was believed to exist. To
procure this document, the decapitation of twelve human
beings was necessary, and the Vlramushti sacrificed his
twelve children. According to the document, the Beris
were Vaisyas, and the Komatis were ordered to be
beheaded. But some Beris interceded on their behalf,
and they were pardoned on condition that they would pay
a sum of money. To secure the necessary money, they
became slaves to a rich Beri woman. Ever since this
incident, the Komatis have been the children of the Beris,
and their descendants are called Pillaipuntha Komati,
or Komati who became a son. For the services which he
rendered, the Vlramushti is said to have been presented
with a sasanam, and he is treated as a son by the caste
men, among whom he has some influence. For example,
the Beri Chettis may not plant in their back-yards
Moringa pterygosperma, Dolichos Lablab, or a red variety
of Amarantiis. If the Vlramushti found the first of
these planted, he would destroy it, and demand a fine of
three fanams. For Dolichos the fine is six fanams, and
for Amarantus one fanam. The rearing of pigs, goats,
and fowls by the Beri Chettis is forbidden under penalty
of a fine. If a Beri Chetti woman carries a water-pot
on her head, the Vlramushti will throw it down, and
demand a fine of twelve fanams. The women are not
allowed to carry on sales at a public fair, under penalty
of excommunication. The Beri Chettis and Komatis
should not do business together.

The Kammalans and Chettis are regarded as friends,
and there is a Tamil proverb " Settiyum Kammalanum
onnu," i.e., the Chetti and Kammalan are one. In this
connection the following legend is quoted. "In the
town of Kanda, anciently the Camalas (artificers of five
sorts) lived closely united together, and were employed


by all ranks of men, as there were no artificers besides
them. They feared and respected no king, which of-
fended certain kings, who combined against them, taking
with them all kinds of arms. But, as the fort (Kanda
Kottai, or magnetic fort), in which the Camalar lived,
was entirely constructed of loadstone, this attracted, and
drew the weapons away from the hands of the assailants.
The kings then promised a great reward to any one who
should burn down the fort. No one dared to do this.
At length the courtesans of a temple engaged to effect
it, and took the pledge of betel and areca, engaging
thereby to do so. The kings, greatly rejoicing, built a
fort opposite, filled with such kind of courtesans, who, by
their singing, attracted the people from the fort, and led
to intercourse. One of these at length succeeded in
extracting from a young man the secret, that, if the fort
was surrounded with varacu straw, set on fire, it might
be destroyed. The king accordingly had this done, and,
in the burning down of the fort, many of the Camalar
lost their lives. Some took to ships belonging to them,
and escaped by sea. In consequence, there were no
artificers in that country. Those taken in the act of
endeavouring to escape w r ere beheaded. One woman of
the tribe, being pregnant, took refuge in the house of a
Chetti, and escaped, passing for his daughter. From a
want of artificers, who made implements for weavers,
husbandmen, and the like, manufactures and agriculture
ceased, and great discontent arose in the country. The
king, being of clever wit, resorted to a device to discover
if any of the tribe remained, to remedy the evil com-
plained of. This was to send a piece of coral, having a
fine tortuous aperture running through it, and a piece of
thread, to all parts of the country, with promise of great
reward to any one who should succeed in passing the


thread through the coral. None could accomplish it.
At length the child that had been born in the Chetty's
house undertook to do it ; and, to effect it, he placed the
coral over the mouth of an ant-hole, and having steeped
the thread in sugar, placed it at some little distance.
The ants took the thread, and drew it through the coral.
The king, seeing the difficulty overcome, gave great
presents, and sent much work to be done, which that
child, under the council and guidance of its mother,
performed. The king sent for the Chetty, and demanded
an account of this young man, which the Chetty detailed.
The king had him plentifully supplied with the means
especially of making ploughshares, and, having married
him to the daughter of a Chetty, gave him grants of land
for his maintenance. He had five sons, who followed the
five different branches of work of the Camalar tribe.
The king gave them the title of Panchalar. Down to
the present day there is an intimate relation between
these five branches, and they intermarry with each other ;
while, as descendants of the Chetty tribe, they wear the
punul, or caste-thread of that tribe." *

The Acharapakam Chettis are known as Malighe
Chettis, and are connected with the Chettis of this
legend. Even now, in the city of Madras, when the
Beri Chettis assemble for the transaction of caste busi-
ness, the notice summoning the meeting excludes the
Malighe Chettis, who cannot, like other Beri Chettis,
vote at elections, meetings, etc., of the Kandasami

Some Beri Chettis, Mr. Stuart writes, " worship
Siva, and some Vishnu, and a few are Lingayats, who do
not marry into families with a different worship. They

* Taylor. Catalogue Raisonne of Oriental Manuscripts.


bury, while the others burn their dead. All the divisions
wear the sacred thread, and do not tolerate widow
remarriage. Unlike Komatis, their daughters are some-
times married after puberty."

Berike. The children of a Boya widow by a man
of her own caste, with whom she lives, are said * to drift
into a distinct section called Berike.

Bestha. The Besthas are summed up, in the Madras
Census Report, 1891, as "a Telugu caste, the hereditary
occupation of which is hunting and fishing, but they
have largely taken to agriculture, and the professions of
bearers and cooks." In the Census Report, 1901, it is
stated that " the fisherman caste in the Deccan districts
are .called Besthas and Kabberas, while those in some
parts of the Coimbatore and Salem districts style them-
selves Toreyar, Siviyar, and Parivarattar. These three
last speak Canarese like the Kabberas, and seem to be
the same as Besthas or Kabberas. Kabbera and Toreya
have, however, been treated as distinct castes. There
are two endogamous sub-divisions in the Bestha caste,
namely the Telaga and the Parigirti. Some say that
the Kabbili or Kabberavandlu are a third. The Parigirti
section trace their descent from Sutudu, the famous
expounder of the Mahabharata. Besthas employ Brah-
mans and Satanis (or Jangams, if Saivites) for their
domestic ceremonies, and imitate the Brahman customs,
prohibiting widow remarriage, and worshipping Siva
and Vishnu as well as the village deities. The Maddi
sub-caste is said to be called so, because they dye cotton
with the bark of the maddi tree (Morinda citrifolia}"
It is suggested, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary dis-
trict, that the Besthas are really a sub-division of the

* Madras Census Report, 1901.


Gangimakkalu Kabberas, who were originally palanquin-
bearers, but, now that these vehicles have gone out
of fashion, are employed in divers other ways. It may
be noted that the Siviyars of Coimbatore say that they
are Besthas who emigrated from Mysore in the troublous
times of the Muhammadan usurpation. The name
Siviyar, they say, was given to them by the Tamils,
as, being strong and poor, they were palanquin-bearers
to officers on circuit and others in the pre-railway days.
Their main occupations at the present day are tank
and river fishing.

In the Manual of the North Arcot district, it is
noted that many Besthas " trade, and are in a flourishing
condition, being most numerous above the ghats. The
name Bestha appears to have no meaning, but they call
themselves Sutakulam, and say they are descendants of
the rishi Suta Mahamuni. The term Suta also applies
to the offspring of a Kshatriya by a Brahman, but it
seems more probable that the Besthas gained the name
from their superiority in the culinary art, suta also
meaning cook. They are divided into Telugu Besthas
and Parigirti Besthas, the difference between them being
chiefly one of religious observance, the former being in
the habit of getting themselves branded on the shoulders
with the Vaishnavite emblems chank and chakram
and the latter never undergoing this ceremony. It is
a rule with them to employ Dasaris as the messengers
of a death, and Tsakalas, as those of a birth, or of the
fact that a girl has reached womanhood. Their chief
object of worship is Hanuman, the monkey god, a picture
or figure of whom they always have in their houses
for domestic worship."

In connection with the names Parigirti or Pakirithi

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