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Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 1) online

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pigeons, wild pig, and fish." Fish must be one of the
dishes prepared on festive occasions. As a rule, Oriya
Brahmans will accept water from a Gaudo (especially a
Sullokondia Gaudo), and sometimes from Gudiyas and
Odiyas. Water touched by Dravida Brahmans is con-
sidered by them to be polluted. They call the Dravidas
Komma (a corruption of Karma) Brahmans. The Oriya
Brahmans are more particular than the Dravidas as
regards the madi cloth, which has already been referred
to. A cloth intended for use as a madi cloth is never
given to a washerman to be washed, and it is not
worn by the Oriya Brahmans when they answer the calls
of nature, but removed, and replaced after bathing.
Marriage with a maternal uncle's daughter, which is
common among the Dravida Brahmans, would be con-



sidered an act of sacrilege by Oriyas. When an Oriya
Brahman is charged with being a meat eater, he retorts
that it is not nearly so bad as marrying a mathulakanya
(maternal uncle's daughter). The marriage tali or bottu
is dispensed with by Oriya Brahmans, who, at marriages,
attach great importance to the panigrahanam (grasping
the bride's hand) and saptapadi (seven steps). The
Oriya Brahmans are both Smarthas and Vaishnavas
who are generally Paramarthos or followers of Chaitanya.
The god Jagannatha of Puri is reverenced by them, and
they usually carry about with them some of the prasa-
dham (food offered to the god) from Puri. They are
divided into the following twelve sections :

(1) Santo (samanta, a chief).

(2) Danua (gift-taking).

(3) Padhiya (one who learns the Vedas).

(4) Sarua (saru, tubers of the arum Colocasia antiquorum).

(5) Holua (holo, yoke of a plough).

(6) Bhodri (Bhadriya, an agraharam on the Ganges).

(7) Barua (a small sea-port town).

(8) Deuliya (one who serves in temples).

(9) Kotokiya (kotaka, palace. Those who live in palaces as

servants to zamindars).
(10) Sahu (creditor),
(n) Jhadua (jungle).
(12) Sodeibalya (those who follow an ungodly life).

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901,
that " the Santos regard themselves as superior to the
others, and will not do purohit's work for them, though
they will for zamindars. They are also very scrupulous
about the behaviour of their womenkind. The Danuas
live much by begging, especially at the funerals of
wealthy persons, but both they and the Padhiyas know
the Vedas, and are priests to the zamindars and the
higher classes of Sudras. The Saruas cultivate the


' yam ' (Colocasia\ and the Holuas go a step further, and
engage in ordinary cultivation actual participation in
which is forbidden to Brahmans by Manu, as it involves
taking the lives of worms and insects. A few of the
Saruas are qualified to act as purohits, but the Holuas
hardly ever are, and they were shown in the 1 89 1 census
to be the most illiterate of all the Brahmans of the
Presidency. Few of them even perform the Sandhya
and Tarpana, which every Brahman should scrupulously
observe. Yet they are regarded as ceremonially pure,
and are often cooks to the zamindars. Regarding the
sixth class, the Bhodris, a curious legend is related.
Bhodri means a barber, and the ancestor of the sub-
division is said to have been the son of a barber who
was brought up at Puri with some Santo boys, and so
learned much of the Vedas and Shastras. He left Puri
and went into Jeypore, wearing the thread and passing
himself off as a Brahman, and eventually married a
Brahman girl, by whom he got children who also
married Brahmans. At last, however, he was found
out, and taken back to Puri, where he committed
suicide. The Brahmans said they would treat his
children as Brahmans if a plant of the sacred tulsi
grew on his grave, but, instead of tulsi, a plant of
tobacco appeared there, and so his descendants are
Bhodris or barber Brahmans, and even Karnams,
Gaudos, and Mahantis decline to accept water at their
hands. They cultivate tobacco and ' yams,' but never-
theless officiate in temples, and are purohits to the
lower non-polluting castes. Of the remaining six divi-
sions, the Baruas are the only ones who do purohit's
work for other castes, and they only officiate for the
lower classes of Sudras. Except the Sodeibalyas, the
others all perform the Sandhya and Tarpana. Their


occupations, however, differ considerably. The Baruas
are pujaris in the temples, and physicians. The Deuliyas
are pujaris and menials in zamindars' houses, growers
of ' yams,' and even day labourers. The Kotokiyas are
household servants to zamindars. The Sahus trade in
silk cloths, grain, etc., and are money-lenders. The
Jhaduas are hill cultivators, and traders with pack-
bullocks. The last of the divisions, the Sodeibalyas,
are menial servants to the zamindars, and work for
daily hire."

VII. Sdrasvat and Konkani. Both these classes
belong to the Gauda branch, and speak the Konkani
language. The original habitation of the Konkanis is
said to have been the bank of the Sarasvati, a river well
known in early Sanskrit works, but said to have subse-
quently lost itself in the sands of the desert, north of
Rajputana. As they do not abstain from fish, the other
Brahmans among whom they have settled regard them as
low. The full name as given by the Konkanis is Gauda
Sarasvata Konkanastha. All the Konkani Brahmans
found in South Canara are Rig Vedis. Like the Shivalli
Brahmans, they have numerous exogamous septs, which
are used as titles after their names. For example, Prabhu
is a sept, and Krishna Prabhu the name of an individual.
A large majority of the Konkani Brahmans are Madhvas,
and their god is Venkataramana of Tirupati, to w T hom
their temples in South Canara are dedicated. Other
Brahmans do not go to the Konkani temples, though
non- Brahmans do so. A very striking feature of the
Konkani temples is that the god Venkataramana is
not represented by an idol, but by a silver plate with the
image of the god embossed on it. There are three
important temples, at Manjeshwar, Mulki, and Karkal.
To these are attached Konkani Brahmans called


Darsanas, or men who get inspired. The Darsana
attached to the Mulki temple comes there daily about
1 1 A.M. After worship, he is given thirtham (holy water),
which he drinks. Taking in his hands the prasadam
(offering made to the god), he comes out, and commences
to shiver all over his body for about ten minutes. The
shivering then abates, and a cane and long strip of deer
skin are placed in his hands, with which he lashes
himself on the back, sides, and head. Holy water is
given to him, and the shivering ceases. Those who
have come to the temple put questions to the Darsana,
which are answered in Konkani, and translated. He
understands his business thoroughly, and usually recom-
mends the people to make presents of money or jewels
to Venkataramana, according to their means. In 1907,
a rich Guzerati merchant, who was doing business at
Mangalore, visited the temple, and consulted the Darsana
concerning the condition of his wife, who was pregnant.
The Darsana assured him that she would be safely
delivered of a male child, and made him promise to
present to the temple silver equal in weight to that of his
wife, should the prophecy be realised. The prediction
proving true, the merchant gave silver, sugar -candy,
and date fruits, to the required weight at a cost, it
is said, of five thousand rupees. At the Manjeshwar
temple, the Darsana is called the dumb Darsana, as
he gives signs instead of speaking. At a marriage
among the Konkanis, for the Nagavali ceremony eight
snakes are made out of rice or wheat flour by women
and the bridal couple. By the side of the pot repre-
senting Siva and Parvati, a mirror is placed. Close to
the Nagavali square, it is customary to draw on the
ground the figures of eight elephants and eight Bairavas
in flour.



The following account of the Konkanis is given in
the Cochin Census Report, 1901 : "The Konkanis are
a branch of the Sarasvat sub-division of the Pancha
Gaudas. Judged from their well-built physique, hand-
some features and fair complexion, they appear to belong
ethnically to the Aryan stock. The community take
their name from their Guru Sarasvata. Trihotrapura,
the modern Tirhut in Behar, is claimed as the original
home of the community. According to their tradition,
Parasu Rama brought ten families, and settled them in
villages in and around Gomantaka, the modern Goa,
Panchrakosi, and Kusasthali. When Goa was conquered
by Vijayanagar, they placed themselves under the
protection of the kings of that country. For nearly
a quarter of a century after the conquest of Goa by
the Portuguese, they continued unmolested under the
Portuguese Governors. During this period, they took
to a lucrative trade in European goods. With the
establishment of the Inquisition at Goa, and the religious
persecution set on foot by the Portuguese, the community
left Goa in voluntary exile. While some submitted to
conversion, others fled to the north and south. Those
that fled to the south settled themselves in Canara and
at Calicut. Receiving a cold reception at the hands of
the Zamorin, they proceeded further south, and placed
themselves under the protection of the Rulers of Cochin
and Travancore, where they flourish at the present day.
The Christian converts, who followed in the wake of the
first batch of exiles, have now settled themselves at the
important centres of trade in the State as copper-smiths,
and they are driving a very profitable trade in copper-
wares. The Brahman emigrants are called Konkanis
from the fact of their having emigrated from Konkan.
In the earliest times, they are supposed to have been


Saivites, but at present they are staunch Vaishnavites,
being followers of Madhavacharya. They are never
regarded as on a par with the other Brahmans of
Southern India. There is no intermarriage or inter-
dining between them and other Brahmans. In Cochin
they are mostly traders. Their occupation seems to
have been at the bottom of their being regarded as
degraded. They have their own temples, called Tirumala
Devaswams. They are not allowed access to the inner
structure surrounding the chief shrine of the Malayali
Hindu temples; nor do they in turn allow the Hindus
of this coast to enter corresponding portions of their
religious edifices. The Nambudris are, however, allowed
access even to the interior of the sacred shrine. All
caste disputes are referred to their high priest, the
Swamiyar of Kasi Mutt, who resides at Mancheswaram
or [email protected] He is held in great veneration by the
community, and his decisions in matters religious and
social are final. Some of their temples possess extensive
landed estates. Their temple at Cochin is one of the
richest in the whole State. The affairs of the temple
are managed by Konkani Yogakkars, or an elected
committee. Nayars and castes above them do not touch
them. Though their women use coloured cloths for
their dress like the women of the East Coast, their
mode of dress and ornaments at once distinguish them
from other Brahman women. Amongst them there are
rich merchants and landholders. Prabhu, Pai, Shenai,
Kini, Mallan, and Vadhyar, are some of the more
common titles borne by them."

In conclusion, brief mention may be made of several
other immigrant classes. Of these, the Desasthas are
Marathi-speaking Brahmans, who have adopted some
of the customs of the Smartha and Madhva Carnatacas,


with whom intermarriage is permitted. A special feature
of the marriage ceremonies of the Desasthas is the
worship of Ambabhavani or Tuljabhavani, with the
assistance of Gondala musicians, who sing songs in
praise of the deity. The Chitpavan Brahmans speak
Marathi and Konkani. In South Canara they are, like
the Haviks, owners of areca palm plantations. Karadi
Brahmans, who are also found in South Canara, are said
to have come southward from Karhad in the Bombay
Presidency. There is a tradition that Parasu Rama
created them from camel bones.

Brahmani. A class of Ambalavasis. (See Unni.)
Brihaspati Varada. The name, indicating those
who worship their god on Thursday, of a sub-division of

Brinjari. A synonym of Lambadi.

Budubudike. The Budubudike or Budubudukala
are described in the Mysore Census Report as being
"gipsy beggars and fortune-tellers from the Marata
country, who pretend to consult birds and reptiles to
predict future events. They are found in every district
of Mysore, but only in small numbers. They use a smr.ll
kind of double-headed drum, which is sounded by means
of the knotted ends of strings attached to each side
of it. The operator turns it deftly and quickly from
side to side, when a sharp and weird sound is emitted,
having a rude resemblance to the warbling of birds.
This is done in the mornings, when the charlatan
soothsayer pretends to have divined the future fate
of the householder by means of the chirping of
birds, etc., in the early dawn. They are generally
worshippers of Hanumantha." The name Budubudike
is derived from the hour-glass shaped drum, or


For the following account of the Budubudukalas, I am
indebted to a recent article* : " A huge parti-coloured
turban, surmounted by a bunch of feathers, a pair of
ragged trousers, a loose long coat, which is very often
out at elbows, and a capacious wallet underneath his
arm, ordinarily constitute the Budubudukala's dress.
Occasionally, if he can afford it, he indulges in the
luxury of wearing a tiger or cheetah (leopard) skin, which
hangs down his back, and contributes to the dignity of
his calling. Add to this an odd assortment of clothes
suspended on his left forearm, and the picture is as
grotesque as it can be. He is regarded as able to predict
the future of human beings by the flight and notes of
birds. His predictions are couched in the chant which
he recites. The burden of the chant is invariably
stereotyped, and purports to have been gleaned from the
warble of the feathered songsters of the forest. It
prognosticates peace, plenty and prosperity to the house,
the birth of a son to the fair, lotus-eyed house-wife, and
worldly advancement to the master, whose virtues are as
countless as the stars, and have the power to annihilate
his enemies. It also holds out a tempting prospect of
coming joy in an unknown shape from an unknown
quarter, and concludes with an appeal for a cloth. If
the appeal is successful, well and good. If not, the
Budubudukala has the patience and perseverance to
repeat his visit the next day, the day after that, and so
on until, in sheer disgust, the householder parts with a
cloth. The drum, which has been referred to above as
having given the Budubudukala his name, is not devoid of
interest. In appearance it is an instrument of diminutive
size, and is shaped like an hour-glass, to the middle of
which is attached a string with a knot at the end, which

* Madras Mail, 1907.


serves as the percutient. Its origin is enveloped in a myth
of which the Budubudukala is naturally very proud, for it
tells him of his divine descent, and invests his vocation
with the halo of sanctity. According to the legend, the
primitive Budubudukala who first adorned the face of
the earth was a belated product of the world's creation.
When he was born or rather evolved, the rest of human-
kind was already in the field, struggling for existence.
Practically the whole scheme was complete, and, in the
economy of the universe, the Budubudukala found himself
one too many. In this quandary, he appealed to his
goddess mother Amba Bhavani, who took pity upon
him, and presented him with her husband the god
Parameswara's drum with the blessing ' My son, there is
nothing else for you but this. Take it and beg, and you
will prosper.' Among beggars, the Budubudukala has
constituted himself a superior beggar, to whom the
handful of rice usually doled out is not acceptable. His
demand, in which more often than not he succeeds, is
for clothes of any description, good, bad or indifferent,
new or old, torn or hole. For, in the plenitude of his
wisdom, he has realised that a cloth is a marketable
commodity, which, when exchanged for money, fetches
more than the handful of rice. The Budubudukala is
continually on the tramp, and regulates his movements
according to the seasons of the year. As a rule, he
pays his visit to the rural parts after the harvest is
gathered, for it is then that the villagers are at their
best, and in a position to handsomely remunerate him for
his pains. But, in whatever corner of the province he
may be, as the Dusserah approaches, he turns his face
towards Vellore in the North Arcot district, where the
annual festival in honour of the tribal deity Amba
Bhavani is celebrated."


The insigne of the Budubudike, as recorded at
Conjeeveram, is said* to be a pearl-oyster. The
Oriya equivalent of Budubudike is stated f to be

Bujjinigiyoru (jewel-box). A sub-division of
Gangadikara Vakkaliga.

Bukka. Described, in the Madras Census Report,
1901, as a "sub-caste of Balija. They are sellers of
saffron (turmeric), red powder, combs, etc., and are
supposed to have been originally Komatis." They are
described by the Rev. J. Cain as travelling about selling
turmeric, opium, and other goods. According to the
legend, when Kanyakamma threw herself into the
fire-pit (see Komati), they, instead of following her
example, presented to her bukka powder, turmeric, and
kunkuma. She directed that they should live apart from
the faithful Komatis, and live by the sale of the articles
which they offered to her.

Buragam. A sub-division of Kalingi.

Burgher. A name commonly applied to the Badagas
of the Nilgiri hills. In Ceylon, Burgher is used in the
same sense as Eurasian in India.

Burmese. A few Burmese are trained as medical
students at Madras for subsequent employment in the
Burmese Medical service. At the Mysore census, 1901,
a single Burman was recorded as being engaged at the
Kolar gold fields. Since Burma became part of the
British dominions in 1886, there has been emigration to
that developing country from the Madras Presidency on
a large scale. The following figures show the numbers

* J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.
t Madras Census Report, 1901.


of passengers conveyed thence to Burma during the five
years, 1901 05 :

19 01 ......... 84,329

1902 ... ... ... ... ... 80,916

X 93 ............... 100,645

1904 ... ... ... ... ... 127,622

......... 124,365

Busam (grain). An exogamous sept of Devanga.
Busi (dirt). An exogamous sept of Mutracha.
Byagara. Byagara and Begara are synonyms of




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