Edgar Thurston.

Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 1) online

. (page 31 of 33)
Online LibraryEdgar ThurstonCastes and tribes of southern India (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

before union with their husbands :

Atlataddi. On the third day after the full moon,
an early meal before sunrise, the worship of Gauri in
the afternoon, and the presentation of ten cakes to ten
matrons upon the dismissal of the deity invoked. The
object is to secure a young agreeable husband.

Uppu (sail). This consists in making a present
to any matron of a pot of salt, full to the brim, at the
end of the year, with the view to secure a long enjoy-
ment of the married state.

Akshayabandar. This consists in making a
present of a pot full of turmeric to any matron at the
end of the year, with a view to avert the calamity of

Udayakunkuma. Putting the red kunkuma mark
on the foreheads of five matrons before sunrise, with
the object of being always able to wear the same mark
on her own forehead, i.e., never to become a widow.

Padiharukudumulu. The presentation of sixteen
cakes once a year for sixteen years to a matron. This
is for the attaining of wealth.

Kartika Gauri Devi. Exhibiting to a matron the
antimony box, with a preparation of which the eyes are
trimmed to give the brilliancy, and wearing on the head
turmeric rice (akshatalu). The object of this is said to
be to give sight to blind relatives.

Kandanomi. Abstaining for a year from the use
of arum (Amorphophallus Campanulatus], of which the
corms are an article of food), and presenting a matron


with a silver and gold representation of a kanda to be
worn on the neck. The object to be attained is that she
who performs the rite may never have to shed tears.

Gummadi Gauri Devi. The presentation at the
end of the year to a matron of a pumpkin in the morn-
ing, and another in the afternoon, with a silver one at
food time, and a gold one to be worn round the neck.
This is for the prolongation of married life.

Gondola Gauri Devi. The distribution of twenty-
five different sorts of things, twenty-five to be distributed
to matrons at the rate of five of each sort to each. The
object of this is to avert evil accidents of ail kinds,
which may threaten the husband.

Chittibottu. Making the kunkuma marks on the
foreheads of five matrons in the morning, for the attain-
ment of wealth.

Isalla Chukka. Rubbing butter-milk, turmeric,
kunkuma, and sandalwood paste on the threshold of the
door. The object is the same as in the last.

Tavita Navomi. To avoid touching bran for any
purpose, for the prolongation of married life.

Nitya Srungaram. Offering betel nut, and putting
the kunkuma mark on the face of a matron, for the pur-
pose of securing perpetual beauty.

Nallapusala Gauri Devi. The presentation to a
matron of a hundred black beads with one gold one, the
object being again to avert widowhood.

Mocheti Padmam. The worship of some deity,
and the making of the forehead mark (bottlu) for four
matrons in the first year, eight in the second, and so on,
increasing the number by four each year for twenty-
seven years, being the number of certain stars. This
presentation has to be made in silence. The object is
the attainment of enduring wealth.


Mogamudo sellu. The performer washes her face
thirteen times daily in a brass vessel, and offers to some
matron some rice, a pearl, and a coral.

Undrallatadde. On the thirteenth day after the
full moon, taking food before sunrise, the girl worships
the goddess Gauri in the afternoon, and, at the time of
dismissing the deity invoked (udyapana), she presents
five round cakes to as many matrons. The object of
this is to secure her future husband's affections.

Vara Lakshmi. The worship of the goddess
Lakshmi for the attainment of wealth and salvation, or
to make the best of both worlds.

Vavila Gauri Devi. In order to avert the risk of
all accidents for her future lord, the devotee, on each of
the four Tuesdays of the month Sravana, worships the
goddess Gauri Devi, and distributes Bengal gram to
married women.

Savitri Gauri Devi. The offering of nine different
articles on nine different days after the sun has entered
the solstice, the sign of Capricorn. This is also
practised to secure a husband's affection.

J^saddikutimangalavaram. This is a piece of self-
mortification, and consists in eating on every Tuesday for
one year nothing but cold rice boiled the previous day,
and feeding a matron with the same.

The following are some of the ceremonies prac-
tised by young women after attaining a marriageable

age :-

Prabatcha Adivaram. Offering worship to a
married couple, and limiting the taking of food to a
single meal on Sunday. This is done with the object
of having children.

Apadaleni Adivaram. Taking but one meal every
Sunday, and making a presentation to five matrons of


five cakes with a flat basket of rice, body jackets, and
other things. This is for the procuring of wealth.

Adivaram (Sunday). Total abstinence from some
one article of food for one year, another article the next
year, and so on for five years ; also limitation to a single
meal every Sunday, and the presentation of cloths to
Brahmans upon the dismissal of the deity invoked for
worship. The object of this seems to be to secure
re-union with the husband after death.

Ckappitti Adivaram. Abstinence from salt on
every Sunday for a year, with a view to secure the
longevity of children.

Udayapadmam. To take for one year a daily
bath, and to draw the representation of a lotus with
rice-flour every morning near the sacred tulasi plant
(Ocimum sanctum), which is kept in many Hindu house-
holds, growing on an altar of masonry. The object of
this is to restore a dead husband to life again, i.e., to
secure re-union in another life.

Krishna Tulasi. To avert widowhood, those who
perform this rite present thirteen pairs of cakes in a gold
cup to a Brahman.

Kartika Chalimidi. The distribution of chalimidi,
which is flour mixed with sugar water, for three years ;
in the first year one and a half seer of rice, in the second
year two and a half seers, and in the third year twenty-
six seers, the object sought being to restore life to
children that may die, i.e., restoration in another world.

Kailasa Gauri Devi. To grind one and a half viss
(a measure) of turmeric without assistance in perfect
silence, and then distribute it among 101 matrons, the
object being to avert widowhood.

Dhairya Lakshmi. As a charm against tears,
matrons light a magic light, which must have a cotton


wick of the weight of one pagoda (a gold coin), and,
instead of a quarter of a viss of ghee, clarified butter.

Dhanapalalu. Giving four different sorts of grain
for five years to a Brahman, to atone for the sin of the
catamenial discharge.

Nadikesudu. The distribution of five seers each
of nine different sorts of grain, which must be dressed
and eaten in the house. This is done for the procuring
of wealth.

Nityadhanyamu. Daily giving a handful of grain
to any Brahmin with the object of averting widowhood.

Phalala Gauri Devi. This is performed by the
presentation of sixteen fruits of sixteen different species
to any married woman, with the view of securing healthy

Pamidipuvulu. With the view to avert widow-
hood and secure influence with their husbands, young
wives practise the daily worship of thirteen flowers for
a time, and afterwards present to a Brahmin the repre-
sentations of thirteen flowers in gold, together with a
lingam and panavattam (the seat of the lingam).

Mttppadimuduputnamulu. To avert widowhood,
cakes are offered on the occasion of thirty-three full-
moons ; on the first one cake is eaten, on the second two,
and so on up to thirty-three.

Mudukartelu. For the attainment of wealth,
women light seven hundred cotton wicks steeped in oil
at the three festivals of full moon, Sankuratri (the time
when the sun enters the zodiacal sign of Capricorn),
and Sivaratri.

Magha Gauri Devi. The worship of the goddess
Gauri in the month of Magham, with a view to avert


Vishnukanta. For the same purpose, thirteen
pairs of cakes are offered in a new pot to some
married woman.

Vishnuvidia. To atone for the sin of the cata-
menial discharge, food is eaten without salt on the
second day after every new moon.

Sokamuleni Somavaram. The taking of food with-
out salt every Monday, for the restoration of children
removed by death.

Chitraguptulu. Burning twelve wicks daily in oil,
for the attainment of happiness in a future state.

Sukravaram. For the acquisition of wealth,
women sometimes limit themselves to one meal on Fri-
days, and feed five married women on each occasion
of dismissing the deity invoked for worship.

Saubhagyatadde. To avert widowhood, another
practice is on the third day after every new moon to
distribute, unassisted and in silence, one and a quarter
viss of turmeric among thirteen matrons.

Kshirabdhi Dvddasi. Keeping a fast day
specially devoted to the worship of Vishnu, with a /iew
to secure happiness in a future state.

Chinuku. A woman takes a stalk of Indian corn
fresh pulled up, and with it pounds rice-flour mixed with
milk in a mortar. This is to avert widowhood in this
world, and to secure happiness in the next.

Women who have lost children frequently perform
the following two ceremonies for restoration to life
or restoration in a future state :

Kundella Amavasya (hares new moon). To give
thirteen different things to some married woman every
new moon for thirteen months.

Kadupukadalani Gauri Devi. The presentation
of thirteen pairs of cakes to thirteen matrons.


The following ceremonies are often performed after
the cessation of the catamenial discharge, to atone for
the sin contracted by their occurrence :

Annamumuttani Adivaram. The eating of yams
and other roots every Sunday for three years, or, under
certain conditions, a longer period.

Rushipanchami. On the fifth day of Bhadrapada
month to eat five balusu (Canthium parviflorum) leaves,
and to drink a handful of ghee.

Gomayani, To eat three balls of cow-dung every
morning for a year.

Lakshvattulu. To burn one lac (100,000) of wick

Lakshmivarapu Ekadasi. From the time when the
eleventh day after new moon falls on a Thursday, to
observe a fast, and to worship the tulasi plant for eleven

Margasira Lakshmivaram. The mistress of a
family will often devote herself to the worship of
Lakshmi on every Thursday of the month of Margasira,
in order to propitiate the goddess of wealth.

Somisomavaram. A special worship performed on
every new moon that falls on Monday, with the giving
away of 36o articles, two or three on each occasion.
This is performed with the view of attaining atonement
for sins, and happiness in a future state.

There are many ceremonies performed by women
to whom nature has denied the much-coveted joys of
maternity. Among these may be noted :

Asvadhapradakshinam. In villages is often to be
seen a margosa (Melia Azadirachtd) tree, round which a
pipul tree (Ficus religiosa) has twined itself. The cere-
mony consists in a woman walking round and round
this tree several times daily for a long period."



The sub-divisions of the Telugu Brahmans are as
follows :

A. Vaidiki.

1. Murikinadu.

2. Telaganyam.

3. Velnadu.

4. Kasalnadu.

5. Karnakammalu.

1. Aruvela.

2. Nandavarikulu.

3. Kammalu.

6. Veginadu.

7. Konesime.

8. Arama Dravida.

9. Aradhya.

10. Prathamasaki.

B, Niyogi.

4. Pesalavayalu.

5. Pranganadu.


D. Immigrants,
i. Pudur Dravida. | 2. Thummagunta Dravida.

All these sections are endogamous, and will eat
together, except the Tambalas, who correspond to the
Gurukkals among the Tamil Brahmans. Vaidikis are
supposed to be superior to Niyogis. The former do
not generally grow moustaches, while the latter do.
For sradh ceremonies, Niyogis do not generally sit
as Brahmans representing the ancestors, Vaidikis being
engaged for this purpose. In some places, e.g., the
Nandigama taluk of the Kistna district, the Niyogis
are not referred to by the name Brahman, Vaidikis
being so called. Even Niyogis themselves point to
Vaidikis when asked about Brahmans.

Velnadu, Murikinadu, and Veginadu seem to be
territorial names, and they occur also among some of
the non- Brahman castes. The Aradhyas are dealt with
in a special article (see Aradhya). Among the Karna-
kammas are certain sub-sections, such as Ogoti and


Koljedu. They all belong to Rig Saka. Of the Tela-
ganyams, some follow the Rig Veda, and others the
Yejur Veda (both black and white Yajus). The Nanda-
varikulu are all Rig Vedis, and regard Chaudeswari, the
goddess of the Devangas, as their tutelary deity. When
a Nandavariki Brahman goes to a Devanga temple, he
is treated with much respect, and the Devanga priest
gives up his place to the Nandavariki for the time
being. The Nandavariki Brahmans are, in fact, gurus
or priests to the Devangas.

A special feature of the Telugu Brahmans is that,
like the Telugu non-Brahman classes, they have house
names or intiperulu, of which the following are exam-
ples : Kota (fort), Lanka (island), Puchcha (Citrullus
Colocynthis], Chintha (tamarind), Kakl (crow). Niyogi
house-names sometimes terminate with the word razu.

IV. Carndtaka. The suh -divisions of the Carna-
takas or Canarese-speaking Brahmans are as follows :

A. Smart ha.
i. Aruvaththuvokkalu. 5. Kamme (Bobburu, Kama,

2. Badaganadu.

3. Hosalnadu.

4. Hoisanige or Vaishanige.

and Ulcha).

6. Sirnadu.

7. Maraka.

B. Madhva.

1. Aruvela.

2. Aruvaththuvokkalu.

3. Badaganadu.

4. Pennaththurar.

5. Prathamasaki.

6. Hyderabadi.

The Carnatakas very closely resemble the Andhras
in their ceremonial observances, and, like them, attach
much importance to vratams. The Madhva Carnatakas
are recent converts from Carnataka or Andhra Smar-
thas. The Pennaththurars are supposed to be Tamil
Brahmans converted into Madhvas. They retain some
of the customs peculiar to the Tamil Brahmans. The


marriage badge, for example, is the Tamil tali and
not the bottu. Intermarriages between Smarthas and
Madhvas of the same section are common. Madhvas,
excepting the very orthodox, will take food with both
Carnataka and Andhra Smarthas.

The Marakas are thus described by Mr. Lewis
Rice.* " A caste claiming to be Brahmans, but not
recognised as such. They worship the Hindu triad,
but are chiefly Vishnuvites, and wear the trident mark
on their foreheads. They call themselves Hale Kanna-
diga or Hale Karnataka, the name Marka t being
considered as one of reproach, on which account also
many have doubtless returned themselves as Brahmans
of one or other sect. They are said to be descendants
of some disciples of Sankaracharya, the original guru of
Sringeri, and the following legend is related of the
cause of their expulsion from the Brahman caste to
which their ancestors belonged. One day Sankara-
charya, wishing to test his disciples, drank some toddy
in their presence, and the latter, thinking it could be
no sin to follow their master's example, indulged freely
in the same beverage. Soon after, when passing a
butcher's shop, Sankaracharya asked for alms ; the
butcher had nothing but meat to give, which the guru
and his disciples ate. According to the Hindu shastras,
red-hot iron alone can purify a person who has eaten
flesh and drunk toddy. Sankaracharya went to a black-
smith's furnace, and begged from him some red-hot iron,
which he swallowed and was purified. The disciples
were unable to imitate their master in the matter of

* Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, 1877.

f Said to be derived from ma, a negation, and arka, sun, in allusion to their
not performing the adoration of that luminary which is customary among Brah-


the red-hot iron, and besought him to forgive their
presumption in having dared to imitate him in par-
taking of forbidden food. Sankaracharya refused to
give absolution, and cursed them as unfit to associate
with the six sects of Brahmans. The caste is making
a strong effort to be readmitted among Brahmans, and
some have recently become disciples of Parakalaswami.
Their chief occupations are agriculture, and Govern-
ment service as shanbogs or village accountants."
It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891,
that " some of the more intelligent and leading men in
the clan give another explanation (of the legend). It
is said that either in Dewan Purnaiya's time, or some
time before, a member of this micro-caste rose to power,
and persecuted the people so mercilessly that, with
characteristic inaptitude, they gave him the nickname
Maraka or the slaughterer or destroyer, likening him to
the planet Mars, which, in certain constellations, is
astrologically dreaded as wielding a fatal influence on
the fortunes of mortals. There is, however, no doubt
that, in their habits, customs, religion and ceremonials,
these people are wholly Brahmanical, but still they
remain entirely detached from the main body of the Brah-
mans. Since the census of 1871, the Hale Kannadigas
have been strenuously struggling to get themselves
classified among the Brahmans. About 25 years ago,
the Sringeri Math issued on behalf of the Smarta portion
of the people a Srimukh (papal bull) acknowledging
them to be Brahmans. A similar pronouncement was
also obtained from the Parakal Math at Mysore about
three years later on behalf of the Srivaishnavas among
them. And the Local Government directed, a little
after the census of 1881, that they should be entered as
Brahmans in the Government accounts."


The Madhva Brahmans commence the marriage
ceremony by asking the ancestors of the bridal couple
to bless them, and be present throughout the perform-
ance of the rites. To represent the ancestors, a ravike
(bodice) and dhotra (man's cloth) are tied to a stick,
which is placed near the box containing the salagrama
stone and household gods. In consequence of these
ancestors being represented, orthodox Vaidiki Brah-
mans refuse to take food in the marriage house. When
the bridegroom is conducted to the marriage booth by
his future father-in-law, all those who have taken part in
the Kasiyatra ceremony, throw rice over him. A quaint
ceremony, called rangavriksha (drawing), is performed
on the morning of the second day. After the usual
playing with balls of flowers (nalagu or nalangu), the
bridegroom takes hold of the right hand of the bride,
and, after dipping her right forefinger in turmeric and
chunam (lime) paste, traces on a white wall the outline of
a plantain tree, of which a sketch has previously been
made by a married woman. The tracing goes on for
three days. First the base of the plant is drawn, and,
on the evening of the third day, it is completed by
putting in the flower spikes. On the third night the
bridegroom is served with sweets and other refresh-
ments by his mother-in-law, from whose hands he
snatches the vessels containing them. He picks out
what he likes best, and scatters the remainder about the
room. The pollution caused thereby is removed by
sprinkling water and cow-dung, which is done by the
cook engaged for the marriage by the bridegroom's
family. After washing his hands, the bridegroom goes
home, taking with him a silver vessel, which he surrepti-
tiously removes from near the gods. Along with this
vessel he is supposed to steal a rope for drawing water,


and a rice-pounding stone. But in practice he only
steals the vessel, and the other articles are claimed by
his people on their return home.

Branding for religious purposes is confined to Sri
Vaishnavas and Madhvas. Sri Vaishnava Brahmans are
expected to undergo this ordeal at least once during their
life-time, whereas Madhva Brahmans have to submit
to it as often as they visit their guru (head of a mutt).
Of men of other castes, those who become followers of
a Vaishnava or Madhva Acharya (guru) or mutt, are
expected to present themselves before the guru for the
purpose of being branded. But the ceremony is optional,
and not compulsory as in the case of the Brahmans.
Among Sri Vaishnavites, the privilege of branding is con-
fined to the elder members of a family, Sanyasis (ascetics),
and the heads of the various mutts. All individuals, male
and female, must be branded, after the Upanayanam cere-
mony in the case of males, and after marriage in the case
of females. The disciples, after a purificatory bath and
worship of their gods, proceed to the residence of the
Acharya or to the mutt,!where they are initiated into
their religion, and branded with the chakra on the right
shoulder and chank on the left. The initiation consists
in imparting to the disciple, in a very low tone, the
Mula Mantram, the word Namonarayanaya, the sacred
syllable Om, and a few mantrams from the Brahma
Rahasyam (secrets about god). A person who has not
been initiated thus is regarded as unfit to take part in
the ceremonies which have to be performed by Brahmans.
Even close relations, if orthodox, will refuse to take food
prepared or touched by the uninitiated. Concerning
Madhvas, Monier Williams writes as follows*: "They

* Brahmanism and Hinduism,



firmly believe that it is a duty of Vaishnavas to carry
throughout life a memorial of their god on their persons,
and that such a lasting outward and visible sign of his
presence helps them to obtain salvation through him.
1 On his right armlet the Brahman wears the discus, on
his left the conch shell.' When I was at Tanjore, I
found that one of the successors of Madhva had recently
arrived on his branding visitation. He was engaged
throughout the entire day in stamping his disciples,
and receiving fees from all according to their means."
Madhvas have four mutts to which they repair for the
branding ceremony, viz., Vayasaraya, Sumathendra and
Mulabagal in Mysore, and Uttaraja in South Canara.
The followers of the Uttaraja mutt are branded in five
places in the case of adult males, and boys after the thread
investiture. The situations and emblems selected are
the chakra on the right upper arm, right side of the
chest, and above the navel ; the chank on the left
shoulder and left side of the chest. Women, and girls
after marriage, are branded with the chakra on the right
forearm, and the chank on the left. In the case of
widows, the marks are impressed on the shoulders as
in the case of males. The disciples of the three other
mutts are generally branded with the chakra on the
right upper arm, and chank on the left. As the brand-
ing is supposed to remove sins committed during the
interval, they get it done every time they see their guru.
There is with Madhvas no restriction as to the age at
which the ceremony should be performed. Even a new-
born babe, after the pollution period of ten days, must
receive the mark of the chakra, if the guru should turn
up. Boys before the upanayanam, and girls before
marriage, are branded with the chakra on the abdomen
just above the navel. The copper or brass branding


instruments (mudras) are not heated to a very high
temperature, but sufficient to singe the skin, and leave
a deep black mark in the case of adults, and a light
mark in that of young people and babies. In some
cases, disciples, who are afraid of being hurt, bribe
the person who heats the instruments ; but, as a rule,
the guru regulates the temperature so as to suit the
individual. If, for example, the disciple is a strong,
well-built man, the instruments are well heated, and, if
he is a weakling, they are allowed to cool somewhat
before their application. If the operator has to deal
with babies, he presses the instrument against a wet rag
before applying it to the infant's skin. Some Matathi-
pathis (head priests of the mutt) are, it is said, inclined
to be vindictive, and to make a very hot application
of the instruments, if the disciple has not paid the fee
(gurukanika) to his satisfaction. The fee is not fixed
in the case of Sri Vaishnavas, whereas Madhvas are
expected to pay from one to three months' income
for being branded. Failure to pay is punished with
excommunication on some pretext or other. The area
of skin branded generally peels off within a week, leaving
a pale mark of the mudra, which either disappears in
a few months, or persists throughout life. Madhvas
should stamp mudras with gopi paste (white kaolin)
daily on various parts of the body. The names of these
mudras are chakra, chank or sankha, gatha (the weapon
of war used by Bhima, one of the Pandavas), padma

Online LibraryEdgar ThurstonCastes and tribes of southern India (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 33)