Edgar Thurston.

Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 1) online

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(-A



CASTES AND TRIBES
OF SOUTHERN INDIA.




IBHISHEKA. Abhisheka Pandarams are those
who are made to pass through some ceremonies
in connection with Saiva Agama.

Acchu Tali. A sub-division of Vaniyan. The
name refers to the peculiar tali (marriage badge) worn
by married women.

Acchuvaru. Recorded, in the Madras Census
Report, 1901, as " Oriya-speaking carriers of grain, etc.,
on pack bullocks. Treated as a sub-division of Gaudo."
The Acchuvarus are not Oriya people, but are attached
to the Devanga weavers, and receive their name from
the fact that they do acchupani, i.e., thread the long
comb-like structures of the hand-loom. They corre-
spond to the Jatipillais of the Kaikolan weavers, who
do acchuvSlai.

Acchu Vellala. A name assumed by some Pat-
tanavans.

Achan. Achan, meaning father or lord, was re-
turned, at the Cochin census, 1901, as a title of
Nayars. According to Mr. Wigram* it is used as a
title of the following :

i. Males in the Royal Family of Palghat.



* Malabar Law and Custom.



ACHARAPAKAM CHETTI 2

2. The minister of the Calicut Raja, known as
Mangat Achan.

3. The minister of the Cochin Raja, known as
Paliyat Achan.

4. The minister of the second Raja of Calicut,
known as Chenli Achan.

Acharapakam Chetti. One of the sub-divisions
of the Chettis, generally grouped among the Beri Chettis
(g.v.).

Achari. See Asan.

Adapadava (man of the wallet). A name, referring
to the dressing-bag which barbers carry, applied to
Lingayat barbers in South Canara.

Adapapa.- Returned in the Madras Census Report,
1901, as a sub-caste of Balija. The name is applied to
female attendants on the ladies of the families of Zamin-
dars, who, as they are not allowed to marry, lead a life
of prostitution. Their sons call themselves Balijas (see
Khasa).

Adavi (forest or jungle). The name of a sub-division
of Yanadis, and also of a section of Gollas in Mysore.*

Adaviyar. Adaviyar or Ataviyar is the name of a
class of Tamil-speaking weavers found in the Tanjore
and Tinnevelly districts.

Addakll (Bauhinia racemosa). A sept of Jatapu.
The leaves of this tree are largely used as food platters,
in Madras, and generally on the east coast.

Addapu Singa. Mendicants who beg only from
Mangalas in the Telugu country.

Adhigari. Defined by Mr. Wigram f as the head
of the amsam or parish in Malabar, corresponding to
the Manigar (village munsiff) in east coast districts and



* F. Fawcett. Journ. Anth. Soc,, Bombay, I, 1888.
f Malabar Law and Custom,



3 ADIKAL

Patel in South Canara. The title Adhigari (one in
power) is assumed by some Agamudaiyans, and Adhikari
occurs as an exogamous sept of the Badagas, and the
title of village headman among some Oriya castes. In
South Canara, it is a sept of Stanika.

Adi (primitive or original). The name of a division
of Linga Balijas, and of Velamas who have abandoned
the practice of keeping their females gosha (in seclu-
sion). It is also applied by the Chenchus to the original
members of their tribe, from whom the man-lion Nara-
simha obtained his bride Chenchita.

Adichchan. A sub-division of Nayar.

Adikal (slaves or servants). Included among the
Ambalavasis. It is recorded, in the Travancore Census
Report, 1901, that "tradition states that Sankaracharya,
to test the fidelity of certain Brahmins to the established
ordinances of caste, went to a liquor-shop, and drank
some stimulants. Not recognising that the obligations,
from which adepts like Sankara were free, were none the
less binding on the proletariat, the Brahmins that accom-
panied the sage made this an excuse for their drinking
too. Sankara is said to have then entered a foundry, and
swallowed a cup of molten metal, and handed another to
the Brahmins, who had apparently made up their minds
to do all that may be done by the Acharya. But they
begged to differ, apologised to him as Atiyals or humble
servants, and accepted social degradation in expiation of
their sinful presumption. They are now the priests in
temples dedicated to Bhadrakali, and other goddesses
who receive offerings of liquor. They practise sorcery,
and aid in the exorcising of spirits. They have the
upanayana-samskara, and wear the sacred thread. The
simantam ceremony is not performed. They are to
repeat the Gayatri (hymn) ten times, and observe eleven



ADIMITTAM 4

days' death pollution. Their own caste-men act as
priests. The Atiyammamar wear the same jewellery as
the Nambutiri women, but they do not screen themselves
by a cadjan (palm leaf) umbrella when they go out in
public, nor are they accompanied by a Nayar maid."

Adimittam. An occupational sub-division of
Marans, who clean the court-yards of temples in Tra-
vancore.

Adisaivar. -Recorded, in the Madras Census Re-
port, 1901, as " a sub-caste of Vellala. They are singers
of Devara hymns in Saiva temples." The name indi-
cates those who have been Saivites from the beginning,
as opposed to recent Saivites. Adisaivas are Saivites,
who have survived the absorbing influence of the Linga-
yat sect. Saivites who profess the Lingayat doctrines
are known as Vlrasaivas. Some Pandarams, who belong
to the Sozhia sub-division of the Vellalas, regularly recite
Tamil verses from Thevaram and Tiruvachagam " in
Saivite temples. This being their profession, they are
also called Oduvar (readers or reciters).

Aditya Varada. Kurubas, who worship their God
on Sunday.

Adiyan. Adiyan (adi, foot) has been defined* as
meaning literally " a slave, but usually applied to the
vassals of Tamburans and other powerful patrons. Each
Adiyan had to acknowledge his vassalage by paying
annually a nuzur (gift of money) to his patron, and
was supposed also to be ready to render service when-
ever needed. This yearly nuzur, which did not gene-
rally exceed one or two fanams, was called adima-panam "
(slave money), adima meaning feudal dependency on a
patron.



* Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom.



5 AGAMUDAIYAN

Adiyodi. Adiyodi or Atiyoti, meaning slave or
vassal, has been returned at times of census as a sub-
division of Samantan. It is, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,*
" the caste of the Kadattanad Rajah in North Malabar.
The tradition is that, when he was driven out of his
territories in and around Calicut by the Zamorin, he took
shelter under the Rajah of Chirakkal, who gave him the
Kadattanad country to hold as his vassal. Some AtiyOtis
advance no pretension to be above Nayars in rank."

AduttOn (a bystander). A synonym for Kavuti-
yan, a caste of Malayalam barbers. In like manner, the
name Ambattan for Tamil barbers is said to be derived
from the Sanskrit amba (near), s'tha (to stand), indicating
that they stand near to shave their clients or treat their
patients.

Agamudaiyan. The Agamudaiyans, Mr. W.
Francis writes,t are " a cultivating caste found in all the
Tamil districts. In Chingleput, North Arcot, Salem,
Coimbatore and Trichinopoly, they are much less
numerous than they were thirty years ago. The reason
probably is that they have risen in the social scale, and
have returned themselves as Vellalas. Within the same
period, their strength has nearly doubled in Tanjore,
perhaps owing to the assumption of the name by other
castes like the Maravans and Kalians. In their manners
and customs they closely follow the Vellalas. Many of
these in the Madura district are the domestic servants
of the Marava Zamindars." The Agamudaiyans who
have settled in the North Arcot district are described J
by Mr. H. A. Stuart as " a class of cultivators differing
widely from the Agamudaiyans of the Madura district.



* Madras Census Report, 1891. f Madras Census Report, 1901.

J Manual of the North Arcot district.



AGAMUDAIYAN 6

The former are closely allied to the Vellalas, while the
latter are usually regarded as a more civilised section
of the southern Maravans. It may be possible that the
Agamudaiyans of North Arcot are the descendants of
the first immigrants from the Madura district, who, after
long settlement in the north, severed all connexions
with their southern brethren." In some districts, Aga-
mudaiyan occurs as a synonym of Vellalas, Pallis and
Melakkarans, who consider that Agamudaiyan is a
better caste name than their own.

The Agamudaiyans proper are found in the Tanjore,
Madura, and Tinnevelly districts.

It is noted in the Tanjore Manual that Ahamudaiyar
(the equivalent of Agamudaiyan) is " derived from the
root aham, which, in Tamil, has many significations.
In one of these, it means a house, in another earth, and
hence it has two meanings, householder and landholder ;
the suffix Udeiyar indicating ownership. The word is
also used in another form, ahambadiyan, derived from
another meaning of the same root, i.e., inside. And, in
this derivation, it signifies a particular caste, whose
office it was to attend to the business in the interior of
the king's palace, or in the pagoda." " The name,"
Mr. J. H. Nelson writes, * " is said by the Rev. G. U.
Pope, in his edition of the Abb6 Dubois' work,t to be
derived from aham, a temple, and padi, a step, and to
have been given to them in consequence of their serving
about the steps of temples. But, independently of the
fact that Madura pagodas are not approached by flights
of steps, this seems to be a very far-fetched and improb-
able derivation of the word. I am inclined to doubt



* Manual of the Madura district.

t Description of the Character, Manners and Customs of the People of India.



7 AGAMUDAIYAN

whether it be not merely a vulgar corruption of the well-
known word Ahamudeiyan, possessor of a house, the
title which Tamil Brahmans often use in speaking of a
man to his wife, in order to avoid the unpolite term
husband. Or, perhaps, the name comes from aham in
the sense of earth, and pati, master or possessor."

Concerning the connection which exists between the
Maravans, Kalians, and Agamudaiyans (see Kalian),
the following is one version of a legend, which is
narrated. The father of Ahalya decided to give her in
marriage to one who remained submerged under water
for a thousand years. Indra only managed to remain
thus for five hundred years, but Gautama succeeded in
remaining for the whole of the stipulated period, and
became the husband of Ahalya. Indra determined to
have intercourse with her, and, assuming the guise of a
cock, went at midnight to the abode of Gautama, and
crowed. Gautama, thinking that daybreak was arriving,
got up, and went to a river to bathe. While he was
away, Indra assumed his form, and accomplished his
desire. Ahalya is said to have recognised the deception
after two children, who became the ancestors of the
Maravans and Kalians, were born to her. A third child
was born later on, from whom the Agamudaiyans are
descended. According to another version of the legend,
the first-born child is said to have faced Gautama with-
out fear, and Agamudaiyan is accordingly derived from
aham or agam, pride, and udaiyan, possessor. There is
a Tamil proverb to the effect that a Kalian may come to
be a Maravan. By respectability he may develope into
an Agamudaiyan, and, by slow degrees, become a
Vellala, from which he may rise to be a Mudaliar.

Of the three castes, Kalian, Maravan and Agamudai-
yan, the last are said to have " alone been greatly



AGAMUDAIYAN

influenced by contact with Brahmanism. They engage
Br5hman priests, and perform their birth, marriage, and
death ceremonies like the Vellalas." * I am told that the
more prosperous Agamudaiyans in the south imitate the
Vellalas in their ceremonial observances, and the poorer
classes the Maravans.

Agamudaiyan has been returned, at times of census,
as a sub-division of Maravan and Kalian. In some
places, the Agamudaiyans style themselves sons of
SembunSttu Maravans. At Ramnad, in the Madura
district, they carry the fire-pot to the burning ground at
the funeral of a Maravan, and also bring the water for
washing the corpse. In the Tanjore district the Aga-
mudaiyans are called Terkittiyar, or southerners, a name
which is also applied to Kalians, Maravans, and Valai-
yans. The ordinary title of the Agamudaiyans is
Servaikkaran, but many of them call themselves, like the
Vellalas, Pillai. Other titles, returned at times of census,
are Adhigari and Mudaliar.

At the census, 1891, the following were returned as
the more important sub-divisions of the Agamudai-
yans : Aivali Nattan, Kottaipattu, Malainadu, Nattu-
mangalam, Rajaboja, Rajakulam, Rajavasal, Kalian,
Maravan, Tuluvan (cf. Tuluva Vellala) and Servaik-
karan. The name Rajavasal denotes those who are
servants of Rajas, and has been transformed into Raja-
vamsa, meaning those of kingly parentage. Kottaipattu
means those of the fort, and the Agamudaiyans believe
that the so-called Kottai Vellalas of the Tinnevelly
district are really Kottaipattu Agamudaiyans. One
sub-division of the Agamudaiyans is called Sani (cow-
dung). Unlike the Maravans and Kalians, the Aga-
mudaiyans have no exogamous septs, or kilais.

* Madias Census Report, 1891.




r*
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C/3

F- i

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9 AGAMUDAIYAN

It is recorded, in the Mackenzie Manuscripts, that
" among the Maravas, the kings or the rulers of districts,
or principal men, are accustomed to perform the cere-
mony of tying on the tali, or in performing the marriage
at once in full, with reference to females of the Agam-
badiyar tribe. The female children of such marriages
can intermarry with the Maravas, but not among the
Agambadiyar tribe. On the other hand, the male
offspring of such marriages is considered to be of the
mother's tribe, and can intermarry with the Agambadi-
yas, but not in the tribe of the Maravas." I am told
that, under ordinary circumstances, the offspring of a
marriage between a Maravan and Agamudaiyan becomes
an Agamudaiyan, but that, if the husband is a man of
position, the male issues are regarded as Maravans.
Adult marriage appears to be the rule among the
Agamudaiyans, but sometimes, as among the Mara-
vans, Kalians and other castes, young boys are, in
the southern districts, sometimes married to grown-up
girls.

The marriage ceremonial, as carried out among the
poorer Agamudaiyans, is very simple. The sister of the
bridegroom proceeds to the home of the bride on an
auspicious day, followed by a few females carrying a
woman's cloth, a few jewels, flowers, etc. The bride is
seated close to a wall, facing east. She is dressed up in
the cloth which has been brought, and seated on a plank.
Betel leaves, areca nuts, and flowers are presented to
her by the bridegroom's sister, and she puts them in her
lap. A turmeric-dyed string or garland is then placed
round the bride's neck by the bridegroom's sister, while
the conch shell (musical instrument), is blown. On the
same day the bride is conducted to the home of the
bridegroom, and a feast is held.



AGAMUDAIYAN IO

The more prosperous Agamudaiyans celebrate their
marriages according to the Puranic type, which is the
form in vogue amongst most of the Tamil castes, with
variations. The astrologer is consulted in order to
ascertain whether the pair agree in some at least of the
points enumerated below. For this purpose, the day of
birth, zodiacal signs, planets and asterisms under which
the pair were born, are taken into consideration :

1. Vdram (day of birth). Days are calculated,
commencing with the first day after the new moon.
Counting from the day on which the girl was born, if the
young man's birthday happens to be the fourth, seventh,
thirteenth, sixteenth, or seventeenth, it is considered
good.

2. Ganam (class or tribe). There are three
ganams, called Manusha, Deva, and Rakshasa. Of the
twenty-seven asterisms, Aswini, Bharani, etc., some are
Manusha, some Deva, and some Rakshasa ganam.
Ashtham and Swathi are considered to be of Deva ganam,
so individuals born under these asterisms are regarded
as belonging to Deva ganam. Those born under the
asterisms Bharani, Rogini, Pnram, POradam, Uththara-
dam, etc., belong to the Manusha ganam. Under
Rakshasa ganam arc included Krithika, Ayilyam, Makam,
Visakam, and other asterisms. The bridal pair should
belong to the same ganam, as far as possible. Manu-
sha and Deva is a tolerable combination, whereas
Rakshasa and Deva, or Rakshasa and Manusha, are bad
combinations.

3. Sthridlrgam (woman's longevity). The young
man's birthday should be beyond the thirteenth day,
counting from the birthday of the girl.

4. Yoni (female generative organs). The aste-
risms are supposed to belong to several animals. An



1 1 AGAMUDAIYAN

individual belongs to the animal to which the asterism
under which he was born belongs. For example, a man
is a horse if his asterism is Aswini, a cow if his asterism
is Uththirattadhi, and so on. The animals of husband
and wife must be on friendly terms, and not enemies.
The elephant and man, horse and cow, dog and monkey,
cat and mouse, are enemies. The animals of man and
wife should not both be males. Nor should the man be
a female, or the wife a male animal.

5. Rasi (zodiacal sign). Beginning from the girl's
zodiacal sign, the young man's should be beyond the
sixth.

6. Rasyathipathi (planet in the zodiacal sign).
The ruling planets of the zodiacal signs of the pair
should not be enemies.

7. Vasyam. The zodiacal signs of the pair should
be compatible, e.g., Midunam and Kanni, Singam and
Makaram, Dhanus and Mlnam, Thulam and Makaram,
etc.

8. Rajju (string). The twenty-seven asterisms
are arranged at various points on four parallel lines
drawn across three triangles. These lines are called the
leg, thigh, abdomen, and neck rajjus. The vertices of
the triangles are the head rajjus. The asterisms of the
pair should not be on the same rajju, and it is considered
to be specially bad if they are both on the neck.

9. Vriksham (tree). The asterisms belong to a
number of trees, e.g. :

Aswini, Strychnos Nux-vomica.
Bharani, Phyllanthus Emblica.
Krithikai, Ficus glomerata.
Puram, Butcafrondosa.
Hastham, Sesbanta grandiflora.
Thiruvonam, Calotropis gigantea.
Uththirattadhi, Melia Azadirachta.



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