Edgar Thurston.

Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 3) online

. (page 4 of 37)
Online LibraryEdgar ThurstonCastes and tribes of southern India (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

through the middle of his tongue. It is believed that
this operation causes no pain, or even bleeding, and the
only remedy adopted is the chewing of a few margosa
(Melia Azadirachta) leaves, and some kunkumam (red
powder) of the goddess. This vesham is undertaken
only by a Kaikolan (weaver), and is performed only in
two places the house of a certain Brahman and
the Mahant's math. The concluding disguise is that
known as the perantalu vesham. Perantalu signifies the
deceased married women of a family who have died before
their husbands, or, more particularly, the most distin-
guished of such women. This vesham is accordingly
represented by a Kaikolan disguised as a female, who
rides round the town on a horse, and distributes to the
respectable inhabitants of the place the kunkumam,
saffron paste, and flowers of the goddess."

For the following account of a ceremony, which took
place at Conjeeveram in August, 1908, I am indebted

* Manual of the North Arcot district.


to the Rev. J. H. Maclean. " On a small and very
lightly built car, about eight feet high, and running on
four little wheels, an image of Kali was placed. It was
then dragged by about thirty men, attached to it by cords
passed through the flesh of their backs. I saw one of
the young men two days later. Two cords had been
drawn through his flesh, about twelve inches apart. The
wounds were covered over with white stuff, said to be
vibuthi (sacred ashes). The festival was organised by a
class of weavers calling themselves Sankunram (Sen-
gundar) Mudaliars, the inhabitants of seven streets in the
part of Conjeeveram known as Pillaipalyam. The total
amount spent is said to have been Rs. 500. The people
were far from clear in their account of the meaning of the
ceremony. One said it was a preventive of small-pox,
but this view did not receive general support. Most said
it was simply an old custom : what good it did they could
not say. Thirty years had elapsed since the last festival.
One man said that Kali had given no commands on the
subject, and that it was simply a device to make money
circulate. The festival is called Punter (flower car)."

In September, 1908, an official notification was issued
in the Fort St. George Gazette to the following effect.
" Whereas it appears that hook-swinging, dragging of
cars by men harnessed to them by hooks which pierce
their sides, and similar acts are performed during the
Mariyamman festival at Samayapuram and other places
in the Trichinopoly division, Trichinopoly district, and
whereas such acts are dangerous to human life, the
Governor in Council is pleased, under section 144, sub-
section (5), of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, to
direct that the order of the Sub-divisional Magistrate,
dated the 7th August, 1908, prohibiting such acts, shall
remain in force until further orders."


It is noted by Mr. F. R. Hemingway * that, at
Ratnagiri, in the Trichinopoly district, the Kaikolans,
in performance of a vow, thrust a spear through
the muscles of the abdomen in honour of their god

Kaila (measuring grain in the threshing-floor). An
exogamous sept of Mala.

Kaimal. A title of Nayars, derived from kai, hand,
signifying power.

Kaipuda. A sub-division of Holeya.

Kaivarta. A sub-division of Kevuto.

Kaka (crow). The legend relating to the Kaka
people is narrated in the article on Koyis. The equiva-
lent Kaki occurs as a sept of Malas, and Kako as a sept
of Kondras.

Kakara or Kakarla (Momordica Ckarantia). An
exogamous sept of Kamma and Muka Dora.

Kakirekka-vandlu (crows' feather people).
Mendicants who beg from Mutrachas, and derive their
name from the fact that, when begging, they tie round
their waists strings on which crows', paddy birds' (heron)
feathers, etc., are tied.

Kakka Kuravan. A division of Kuravas of

Kakkalan. The Kakkalans or Kakkans are a
vagrant tribe met with in north and central Travancore,
who are identical with the Kakka Kuravans of south
Travancore. There are among them four endogamous
divisions called Kavitiyan, Manipparayan, Meluttan,
and Chattaparayan, of which the two first are the
most important. The Kavitiyans are further sub-divided
into Kollak Kavitiyan residing in central Travancore,

* Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly district.


Malayalam Kavitiyan, and Pandi Kavitiyan or immi-
grants from the Pandyan country.

The Kakkalans have a legend concerning their origin
to the effect that Siva was once going about begging as
a Kapaladharin, and arrived at a Brahman street, from
which the inhabitants drove him away. The offended
god immediately reduced the village to ashes, and the
guilty villagers begged his pardon, but were reduced to
the position of the Kakkalans, and made to earn their
livelihood by begging.

The women wear iron and silver bangles, and a
palunka mala or necklace of variously coloured beads.
They are tattooed, and tattooing members of other castes
is one of their occupations, which include the following :

Katukuttu, or boring the lobes of the ears.

Katuvaippu, or plastic operations on the ear, which
Nayar women and others who wear heavy pendant ear
ornaments often require.

Kainokku or palmistry, in which the women are
more proficient than the men.

Kompuvaippu, or placing the twig of a plant on any
swelling of the body, and dissipating it by blowing on it.

Taiyyal, or tailoring.

Pampatam or snake dance, in which the Kakkalans
are unrivalled.

Fortune telling.

The chief object of worship by the Kakkalans is the
rising sun, to which boiled rice is offered on Sunday.
They have no temples of their own, but stand at some
distance from Hindu temples, and worship the gods
thereof. Though leading a wandering life, they try to
be at home for the Malabar new year, on which occasion
they wear new clothes, and hold a feast. They do not
observe the national Onam and Vishu festivals.


The Kakkalans are conspicuously polygamous, and
some have as many as twelve wives, who are easily
supported, as they earn money by their professional
engagements. A first marriage must be celebrated on
Sunday, and the festivities last from Saturday to Monday.
Subsequent marriages may also be celebrated on
Thursday. On the night of the day before the wedding,
a brother, or other near relation of the bridegroom,
places the sambandham (alliance) by bringing a fanam
(coin), material for chewing, and cooked rice to the
marriage pandal (booth). Fruit and other things are
flung at him by the bride's people. On the following
day the bridegroom arrives at the pandal, and, after
raising the tali (marriage badge) three times towards
heaven, and, invoking a blessing from on high, ties it
round the bride's neck. When a girl reaches puberty, a
merry celebration is kept up for a week. The dead are
buried. Inheritance is from father to son. A childless
widow is a coparcener with the brothers of the deceased,
and forfeits this right if she remarries.

Though in the presence of other castes the Kakka-
lans speak Malayalam, they have a peculiar language
which is used among themselves, and is not understood
by others.*

Kakke (Indian laburnum : Cassia fistula). A gotra
of Kurni.

Kala. Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report,
1901, as a sub-division of Nayar.

Kalaikuttadi (pole-dancer). A Tamil synonym of

Kalal. A Hindustani synonym of Gamalla.

* For this note I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar.


Kalamkotti (potter). An occupational title of

Kalasi. A name given to Vada fishermen by Oriya

Kalava (channel or ditch). An exogamous sept of
Padma Sale.

Kalavant. The Kalavants are dancers and singers,
who, like other dancing-girls, are courtesans. The name
occurs not only in South Canara, but also in the Telugu

Kalinga. A sub-division of Komatis, who "were
formerly the inhabitants of the ancient Kalinga country.
They are considered inferior to the other sub-divisions,
on account of their eating flesh. Their titles are
Subaddhi, Patro, and Chaudari." * In the Ganjam
Manual, they are described as " traders and shopkeepers,
principally prevalent in the Chicacole division. The
name Kling or Kaling is applied, in the Malay countries,
including the Straits Settlements, to the people of penin-
sular India, who trade thither, or are settled in those
regions." It is recorded by Dr. N. Annandale that the
phrase Orang Kling Islam (i.e., a Muhammadan from
the Madras coast) occurs in Patani Malay.

Kalingi and Kalinji. There has been some con-
fusion, in recorded accounts, between these two classes.
In the Ganjam Manual, the Kalinjis are described as
agriculturists in that district, and, in the Vizagapatam
Manual, the Kalingas or Kalingulu are stated to be
cultivators in the Vizagapatam district, and a caste of
Paiks or fighting men in Jeypore. In the Census
Report, 1891, the Kalingis are said to be "most numer-
ous in Ganjam, but there is a considerable number of

* Madras Census Report, 1891.


them in Vizagapatam also. The word means a native of
Kalinga, the name of the sea-board of the Telugu country;
the word Telugu itself is supposed by Dr. Caldwell to
be a corruption of Tri-Kalinga. The three large sub-
divisions of the caste are Buragam, Kintala, and Odiya.
In the Kintala sub-division, a widow may remarry if she
has no male issue, but the remarriage of widows is not
allowed in other sub-divisions. The use of flesh and
alcoholic liquor is permitted. Naidu and Chaudari are
their titles." Further, in the Census Report, 1901, the
Kalingis are described as follows : " A caste of temple
priests and cultivators, found mainly in Ganjam and
Vizagapatam, whither they are supposed to have been
brought by the Kalinga kings to do service in the Hindu
temples, before the advent of the Brahmans. They speak
either Oriya or Telugu. They have two sub-divisions,
the Kintali Kalingas, who live south of the Langulya
river, and the Buragam Kalingis, who reside to the north
of it, and the customs of the two differ a great deal. There
is also a third section, called Pandiri or Bevarani, which
is composed of outcastes from the other two. Except the
Kalingis of Mokhalingam in Vizagapatam,* they have
headmen called Nayakabalis or Santos. They also
have priests called Kularazus, each of whom sees to the
spiritual needs of a definite group of villages. They are
divided into several exogamous gotras, each comprising
a number of families or vamsas, some of which, such as
Arudra, a lady-bird, and Revi-chettu, the Ficus religiosa
tree, are of totemistic origin. Each section is said to
worship its totem. Marriage before puberty is the rule,
and the caste is remarkable for the proportion of its girls
under twelve years of age who are married or widowed.

Mokhalingam is in Ganjam, not Vizagapatam.


Widow marriage is not recognised by the Buragam
Kalingis, but the Kintalis freely allow it. As usual, the
ceremonies at the wedding of a widow differ from those
at the marriage of a maid. Some turmeric paste is
placed on a new cloth, which is then put over a pot of
water, and the ceremony takes place near this. The
binding portion of it is the tying of a saffron-coloured
string to the woman's wrist. The Kalingis pay special
reverence to Sri Radha Krishna and Chaitanya. Some
of the caste officiate in temples, wear the sacred thread,
and call themselves Brahmans, but they are not received
on terms of equality by other Brahmans. All Kalingis
bury their dead, but sraddhas (memorial services) are
performed only by the Kintali sub-division. The Bura-
gam Kalingis do not shave their heads in front. Kalingi
women wear heavy bangles of brass, silver bell-metal
and glass, extending from the wrist to the elbow. The
titles of the castes are Naidu, Nayarlu, Chowdari, Bissoyi,
Podhano, Jenna, Swayi, and Naiko."

In the foregoing account, the Oriya-speaking Kalinjis,
and Telugu-speaking Kalingis, are both referred to.
The confusion seems to have arisen from the fact that
the Kalinjis are sometimes called Kalingis by other
castes. The Kalingis are essentially Telugus, and are
found mainly on the borderland between the districts
of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. The Kalinjis are, on
the other hand, Oriyas, and seem to be closely allied
to the agricultural castes, Doluva, Alia, Bosantiya,
etc., like which they are mainly agriculturists. The
Kalinjis can be easily distinguished from the Kalingis,
as the latter wear the sacred thread. The following
story is told in connection with the origin of the
Kalinji caste. A band of robbers was once upon a
time staying in a fort near Bhattu Kunnarade, and
1 1 1-4


molesting the people, who invited the king of Puri to
come and drive the robbers away. Among the warriors
who were recruited for this purpose, was a member
of the Khondaito caste, who, with the permission of
the king, succeeded in expelling the robbers. He
was named by the people Bodo-Kalinja, or one having
a stout heart. He and his followers remained in the
Ganjam country, and the Kalinjis are their descend-
ants. The caste is widespread in the northern part

There do not seem to be any sub-divisions among the
Kalinjis, but there is a small endogamous group, called
Mohiri Kalmji. Mohiri is a well-known division in
Ganjam, and Kalinjis who dwell therein intermarry with
others, and do not form a separate community. It has
been suggested that the Mohiri Kalinjis are Telugu
Kalingis, who have settled in the Oriya country. Like
other Oriya castes, the Kalinjis have gotras, e.g., bano
(sun), sukro (star), sanko (conch-shell), bhago (tiger)
and nago (cobra). There is a good deal of confusion
regarding the gotras in their connection with marriage.
The same gotra, e.g., sukro, is exogamous in some places,
and not so in others. Many titles occur among the
Kalinjis, e.g., Borado, Bissoyi, Bariko, Behara, Dolei,
Gaudo, Jenna, Moliko, Naiko, Patro, Podhano, Pulleyi,
Ravuto, Santo, Savu, Swayi, Guru. In some places, the
titles are taken as representing bamsams (or vamsams),
and, as such, are exogamous. Families as a rule refrain
from marrying into families bearing the same title. For
example, a Dolei man will not marry a Dolei girl,
especially if their gotras are the same. But a Dolei may
marry a Pullei, even if they have the same gotra.

The headman of the Kalinjis is styled Santo, and he
is assisted by a Patro. There is also a caste messenger,


called Bhollobhaya. For the whole community there
are said to be four Santos and four Patros, residing at
Attagada, Chinna Kimedi, Pedda Kimedi, and Mohiri.
A man who is suffering from a wound or sore infested by
maggots is said to be excommunicated, and, when he has
recovered, to submit himself before the caste-council
before he is received back into the community.

Girls are generally married before puberty, and, if
a real husband is not forthcoming, a maid goes through a
mock marriage ceremony with her elder sister's husband,
or some elder of the community. A bachelor must
be married to the sado (Strebhis asper) tree before
he can marry a widow. The remarriage of widows
(thuvathuvvi) is freely allowed. A widow, who has a
brother-in-law, may not marry anyone else, until she has
obtained a deed of separation (tsado patro) from him.
The marriage ceremonies conform to the standard Oriya
type. In some places, the little fingers of the contract-
ing couple are linked, instead of their hands being tied
together with thread. On the fourth day, a Bhondari
(barber) places on the marriage dais some beaten rice
and sugar-candy, which the bride and bridegroom sell
to relations for money and grain. The proceeds of
the sale are the perquisite of the Bhondari. On the
seventh day, the bridegroom breaks a pot on the dais,
and, as he and the bride go away, the brother of
the latter throws brinjal (Solanum Melongend) fruits
at him.

The dead are as a rule cremated. On the day
after death, food, made bitter by the addition of mar-
gosa (Melia Azadirachtd] leaves, is offered. A piece
of bone is carried away from the burning-ground, and
buried under a pipal (Ficus religiosa} tree. Daily, until
the tenth day, water is poured seven times over the spot
in-4 B


where the bone is buried. On the tenth day, if the
deceased was an elder of the community, the jola-jola
handi ceremony is performed with a pot riddled with
holes. (See Bhondari.)

Kalkatta. An occupation name for stone-masons
in South Canara.

Kalkatti. -Kalkatti, denoting, it has been suggested,
those who wear glass beads, is a sub-division of Idaiyan.
The Lingayats among Badagas of the Nilgiri hills are
called Kalkatti, because they hang a stone (the lingam)
from their necks in a casket. Some Irulas of the same
hills are also said to go by the name Kalkatti.

K alia.- Recorded as a sub-division of Shanan,
and of Idaiyans in localities where Kalians are most

Kalladi. The title of a Cheruman who performs
important duties, and becomes possessed by the spirit
of the deceased, at a Cheruman funeral.

Kalladi Mangan. A synonym of Mondi.

Kalladi Siddhan. The name, meaning a beggar
who beats himself with a stone, of a class of Telugu
mendicants, who are very clamorous and persistent in
their demands for alms. The name is applied as a term
of contempt for any obstinate and troublesome individual.
These beggars carry with them a gourd, have tortoise
and cowry shells tied on their elbows, and carry an iron
rod, with which they beat an iron ring worn on the hand.
They present a very revolting spectacle, as they smear
their bodies with rice done up so as to resemble vomit,
and with the juice of the prickly-pear (Opuntia Dillenii),
to make people believe that it is blood oozing from
cuts made with a knife. They are said to be very
fond of eating crows, which they catch with nets. (See


Kallamu (threshing-floor). An exogamous sept of
Panta Reddi.

Kalian. Of the Kalians of the Madura district in
the early part of the last century, an excellent account
was written by Mr. T. Turnbull (1817), from which the
following extract has been taken. " The Cullaries are
said to be in general a brave people, expert in the use
of the lance and in throwing the curved stick called
vullaree taddee. This weapon is invariably in use
among the generality of this tribe ; it is about 30 inches
in curvature. The word Cullar is used to express a thief
of any caste, sect or country, but it will be necessary to
trace their progress to that characteristic distinction
by which this race is designated both a thief, and an
inhabitant of a certain Naud, which was not altogether
exempted from paying tribute to the sovereign of Madura.
This race appears to have become hereditary occupiers,
and appropriated to themselves various Nauds in differ-
ent parts of the southern countries ; in each of these
territories they have a chief among them, whose orders
and directions they all must obey. They still possess
one common character, and in general are such thieves
that the name is very justly applied to them, for they
seldom allow any merchandize to pass through their
hands without extorting something from the owners, if
they do not rob them altogether, and in fact travellers,
pilgrims, and Brahmans are attacked and stript of
everything they possess, and they even make no scruple
to kill any caste of people, save only the latter. In case
a Brahman happens to be killed in their attempt to
plunder, when the fact is made known to the chief,
severe corporal punishment is inflicted on the crimi-
nals and fines levied, besides exclusion from society
for a period of six months. The Maloor Vellaloor and


Serrugoody Nauds are denominated the Keelnaud, whose
inhabitants of the Cullar race are designated by the
appellation of Amblacaurs.

" The women are inflexibly vindictive and furious
on the least injury, even on suspicion, which prompts
them to the most violent revenge without any regard to
consequences. A horrible custom exists among the
females of the Colleries when a quarrel or dissension
arises between them. The insulted woman brings her
child to the house of the aggressor, and kills it at her
door to avenge herself. Although her vengeance is
attended with the most cruel barbarity, she immediately
thereafter proceeds to a neighbouring village with all
her goods, etc. In this attempt she is opposed by her
neighbours, which gives rise to clamour and outrage.
The complaint is then carried to the head Amblacaur,
who lays it before the elders of the village, and solicits
their interference to terminate the quarrel. In the
course of this investigation, if the husband finds that
sufficient evidence has been brought against his wife,
that she had given cause for provocation and aggression,
then he proceeds unobserved by the assembly to his
house, and brings one of his children, and, in the
presence of witness, kills his child at the door of the
woman who had first killed her child at his. By this mode
of proceeding he considers that he has saved himself
much trouble and expense, which would otherwise have
devolved on him. This circumstance is soon brought
to the notice of the tribunal, who proclaim that the
offence committed is sufficiently avenged. But, should
this voluntary retribution of revenge not be executed
by the convicted person, the tribunal is prorogued to a
limited time, fifteen days generally. Before the expira-
tion of that period, one of the children of that convicted


person must be killed. At the same time he is to bear
all expenses for providing food, etc., for the assembly
during those days.

" A remarkable custom prevails both among the
males and females in these Nauds to have their ears
bored and stretched by hanging heavy rings made of
lead so as to expand their ear-laps (lobes) down to their
shoulders. Besides this singular idea of beauty attached
by them to pendant ears, a circumstance still more
remarkable is that, when merchants or travellers pass
through these Nauds, they generally take the precaution
to insure a safe transit through these territories by
counting the friendship of some individual of the Naud
by payment of a certain fee, for which he deputes
a young girl to conduct the travellers safe through the
limits. This sacred guide conducts them along with her
finger to her ear. On observing this sign, no Cullary
will dare to plunder the persons so conducted. It some-
times happens, in spite of this precaution, that attempts
are made to attack the traveller. The girl in such cases
immediately tears one of her ear-laps, and returns to
spread the report, upon which the complaint is carried
before the chief and elders of the Naud, who forthwith
convene a meeting in consequence at the Mundoopoolee.*
If the violators are convicted, vindictive retaliation
ensues. The assembly condemns the offenders to have
both their ear-laps torn in expiation of their crime,
and, if otherwise capable, they are punished by fines or
absolved by money. By this means travellers generally
obtain a safe passage through these territories. [Even
at the present day, in quarrels between women of the
lower castes, long ears form a favourite object of

* Place of meeting, which is a large tamarind tree, under which councils are


attack, and lobe-tearing cases figure frequently in police

" The Maloor Naud was originally inhabited and
cultivated by Vellaulers. At a certain period some
Cullaries belonging to Vella Naud in the Conjeeveram
district proceeded thence on a hunting excursion with
weapons consisting of short hand pikes, cudgels,
bludgeons, and curved sticks for throwing, and dogs.
While engaged in their sport, they observed a peacock
resist and attack one of their hounds. The sportsmen,
not a little astonished at the sight, declared that this
appeared to be a fortunate country, and its native
inhabitants and every living creature naturally possessed
courage and bravery. Preferring such a country to their
Naud in Conjeeveram, they were desirous of establishing
themselves here as cultivators. To effect this, they
insinuated themselves into the favour of the Vellaulers,
and, engaging as their servants, were permitted to remain
in these parts, whither they in course of time invited
their relations and friends, and to appearance conducted
themselves faithfully and obediently to the entire satis-
faction of the Vellaulers, and were rewarded for their

Online LibraryEdgar ThurstonCastes and tribes of southern India (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 37)