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news, and has to summon people to appear before the
village council. The functions of this useful person to


the community have been summed up as follows by a
district official.* " This individual has all the dirty
work of the village allotted to him. He is of the lowest
caste, and hence makes no scruple of doing any manner
of work that he may be called upon to perform. The
removal and sepulture of unclaimed dead bodies, the
cleansing of choultries, rest-houses and the like, where
travellers carrying infectious diseases might have halted,
and other gruesome duties are entrusted to him. In
spite of all this, the Toti is one of the most trusted of
the humbler servants of the village community. Con-
sidering his humble status and emoluments, which
average between Rs. 3 and Rs. 4 a month, his honesty
with regard to pecuniary matters is wonderful. He
may be trusted with untold wealth, as is often done
when he is the sole custodian of the revenue collections
of his village to the tune of several thousands at a time,
when on their way from the collecting officers to the
Government Treasury." Testimony is borne to the
industry of the Toti in the proverb that if you work like
a Toti, you can enjoy the comforts of a king.

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Toti is re-
turned as a sub-division of Chakkiliyan. The Toti of
Mysore is defined by Mr. L. Rice t as a menial among
the village servants, a deputy talari, who is employed
to watch the crops from the growing crop to the

Odiya Toti is a Tamil synonym for Oriya Haddis
employed as scavengers in municipalities in the Tamil

Tottiyan. In the Census Report, 1901, Mr.
W. Francis writes that the Tottiyans are " Telugu

* Madras Mail, 1906. t Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.


cultivators. The Tottiyans or Kambalattans of the
Tanjore district are, however, said to be vagrants, and to
live by pig-breeding, snake-charming, and begging. So
are the sub-division called Kattu Tottiyans in Tinnevelly.
The headman among the Tinnevelly Tottiyans is called
the Mandai Periadanakkaran or Servaikaran. Their
marriages are not celebrated in their houses, but in
pandals (booths) of green leaves erected for the purpose
on the village common. However wealthy the couple
may be, the only grain which they may eat at the wedding
festivities is either cumbu (Pennisetum typhoideum) or
horse-gram (Dolickos biflorus). The patron deities of
the caste are Jakkamma and Bommakka, two women who
committed sati. The morality of their women is loose.
The custom of marrying boys to their paternal aunt's or
maternal uncle's daughter, however old she may be, also
obtains, and in such cases the bridegroom's father is said
to take upon himself the duty of begetting children to his
own son. Divorce is easy, and remarriage is freely
allowed. They offer rice and arrack (alcoholic liquor) to
their ancestors. The Kattu Tottiyans will eat jackals,
rats, and the leavings of other people. Tottiya women
will not eat in the houses of Brahmans, but no explana-
tion of this is forthcoming. The men wear silver anklets
on both legs, and also a bracelet upon one of the upper
arms, both of which practices are uncommon, while the
women wear bangles only on the left arm, instead of on
both as usual. Some of the Zamindars in Madura belong
to this caste. The caste title is Nayakkan." At the
census, 1901, Kudulukkaran was returned as a sub-caste
of the Tottiyans in Madura and Tinnevelly. The
Urumikkaran, meaning those who play on the drum
called uru'mi, are said to be Tottiyans in Madura and
Paraiyans elsewhere.


" The Tottiyansor Kambalattans," Mr. H. A. Stuart
writes,* " are a caste of Telugu cultivators settled in
the districts of Madura, Tinnevelly, Coimbatore and
Salem. They are probably the descendants of poligars
and soldiers of the Nayakkan kings of Vijayanagar, who
conquered the Madura country about the beginning of the
sixteenth century. As regards the origin of their caste,
the Tottiyans say with pride that they are the descendants
of the eight thousand gopastris (milkmaids) of Krishna
a tradition which seems to indicate that their original
occupation was connected with the rearing and keeping
of cattle. The most important sub-divisions are Kollar
and Erkollar, the Tamil form of the Telugu Golla and
Yerragolla, which are now shepherd castes, though
probably they formerly had as much to do with cattle as
sheep. Another large sub-division is Kille or Killavar,
which I take to be a corruption of the Telugu kilari,
a herdman. The bride and bridegroom, too, are always
seated on bullock saddles. They do not wear the sacred
thread. Most of them are Vaishnavites, some of whom
employ Brahman priests, but the majority of them are
guided by gurus of their own, called Kodangi Nayakkan.
[It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that
caste matters used to be settled by the Mettu Nayakkan
or headman, and a Kodangi Nayakkan, or priest, so
called because he carried a drum.] Each family has its
own household deity, which appears to be a sort of
representation of departed relations, chiefly women who
have burned themselves on the funeral pile of their
husbands, or have led a chaste and continent life, or died
vestals. Their girls are married after they have attained
maturity. Adultery is no crime when committed within

* Madras Census Report, 1891.


the family circle, but a liaison with an outsider involves
expulsion from the caste. It is said that their newly
married girls are even compelled to cohabit with their
husband's near relatives. [It is further said to be
believed that ill-luck will attend any refusal to do so,
and that, so far from any disgrace attaching to them in
consequence, their priests compel them to keep up the
custom, if by any chance they are unwilling.*] The
pongu tree (Pongamia glabra) is the sacred tree of
the caste. Suttee was formerly very common, and the
remarriage of widows is discouraged, if not actually
forbidden. The dead are generally burned. Both
men and women are supposed to practice magic, and are
on that account much dreaded by the people generally.
They are especially noted for their power of curing
snake-bites by means of mystical incantations, and the
original inventor of this mode of treatment has been
deified under the name Pambalamman. They are
allowed to eat flesh. The majority speak Telugu in
their houses."

The traditional story of the migration of the Totti-
yans to the Madura district is given in several of the
Mackenzie manuscripts, and is still repeated by the
people of the caste. " Centuries ago, says this legend,
the Tottiyans lived to the north of the Tungabhadra
river. The Muhammadans there tried to marry their
women, and make them eat beef. So one fine night they
fled southwards in a body. The Muhammadans pursued
them, and their path was blocked by a deep and rapid
river. They had just given themselves up for lost when
a pongu (Pongamia glabra] tree on either side of the
stream leant forward, and, meeting in the middle, made

* Manual of the Madura district.


a bridge across it. Over this they hurried, and, as soon
as they had passed, the trees stood erect once more,
before the Mussulmans could similarly cross by them.
The Tottiyans in consequence still reverence the pongu
tree, and their marriage pandals (booths) are always
made from its wood. They travelled on until they came
to the city of Vijayanagar, under whose king they took
service, and it was in the train of the Vijayanagar armies
that they came to Madura." *

The Tottiyans are most numerous in the Madura
and Tinnevelly districts, and include two grades in the
social scale. Of these, one consists of those who are
engaged in cultivation, and petty Zamindars. The other
is made up of those who wander about begging, and
doing menial work. Between the two classes there is
neither interdining nor intermarriage. In districts other
than Madura and Tinnevelly, the name Tottiyan is
applied by Tamil-speaking castes to the Jogis, who are
beggars and pig breeders, and, like the Tottiyans, speak
Telugu. The following legend is current, to account
for the division of the Tottiyans into two sections. They
once gave a girl in marriage to a Muhammadan ruler,
and all the Tottiyans followed him. A large number
went to sleep on one side of a river, while the rest crossed,
and went away. The latter are represented today by the
respectable section, and the begging class is descended
from the former. To this day the Muhammadans and
Tottiyans of the Trichinopoly district are said to address
each other as if they were relations, and to be on terms
of unusual intimacy.

In the Madura district, the Tottiyans are apparently
divided into three endogamous sections, viz., Vekkili,

* Gazetteer of the Madura district.


Thokala, and Yerrakolla, of which the last is considered
inferior to the other two. Other names for the Vekkili
section are Kambalattar, or Raja Kambalattar. In some
places, e.g., in Tinnevelly, there seem to be six
divisions, Thokala, Chilla or Silla, Kolla, Narasilla,
Kanthikolla and Pala. Of these, Pala may intermarry
with Chilla, but the other four are endogamous. As
examples of exogamous septs occurring among the Yer-
rakollas may be noted Chikala (broom), and Udama
(lizard, Varanus], of which the latter also occurs as an
exogamous sept of the Kapus.

In the neighbourhood of Nellakota in the Madura
district, the Yerrakollas have a group of seven septs
called Revala, Gollavirappa, Kambli-nayudi, Karadi
(bear), Uduma, Chila, and Gelipithi. Intermarriage
between these is forbidden, as they are all considered as
blood-relations, and they must marry into a group of
seven other septs called Gundagala, Busala, Manni,
Sukka, Alivirappa, Sikka, and Madha. The names of
these septs are remembered by a system of mnemonics.

In a note on the Tottiyans of the Trichinopoly
district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows.
" Three endogamous sub-divisions exist in the caste,
namely, the Erra (red) Gollas or Pedda Inti (big family),
the Nalla (black) Gollas or Chinna Inti (small family),
and the Valus, who are also called Kudukuduppai Totti-
yans. The Valus are said to be a restless class of beg-
gars and sorcerers. The red Gollas are, as a rule, fairer
than the blacks (whence perhaps the names). The
women of the former wear white cloths, while those of
the latter do not. Again, they tie their hair in different
ways, and their ornaments differ a good deal. The red
women carry no emblem of marriage at all, while the
black women wear the pottu. The reds allow their


widows to remarry, but the blacks do not. Both sections
have exogamous sections, called Kambalams the reds
fourteen, and the blacks nine. The reds are divided,
for purposes of caste discipline, into nine nadus and the
blacks into fourteen mandais. Each village is under a
headman called the Or- Nayakan, and each nadu or
mandai under a Pattakaran. The former decide petty
disputes, and the latter the more serious cases. The
Pattakaran is treated with great deference. He is
always saluted with clasped hands, ought never to look
on a corpse, and is said to be allowed to consort with
any married woman of the caste."

The Tottiyans are supposed to be one of the nine
Kambalam (blanket) castes, which, according to one
version, are made up of Kappiliyans, Anappans, Totti-
yans, Kurubas, Kummaras, Parivarams, Urumikkarans,
Mangalas, and Chakkiliyans. According to another
version, the nine castes are Kappiliyan, Anappan, Totti-
yan, Kolla Tottiyan, Kuruba, Kummara, Medara, Odde,
and Chakkiliyan. At tribal council-meetings, repre-
sentatives of each of the nine Kambalams should be
present. But, for the nine castes, some have substi-
tuted nine septs. The Vekkiliyans seem to have three
headmen, called Mettu Nayakan, Kodia Nayakan, and
Kambli Nayakan, of whom the first mentioned is the
most important, and acts as priest on various cere-
monial occasions, such as puberty and marriage rites,
and the worship of Jakkamma and Bommakka. The
Kambli Nayakan attends to the purification of
peccant or erring members of the community, in
connection with which the head of a sheep or goat is
taken into the house by the Kambli Nayakan. It is
noted, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that
" persons charged with offences are invited to prove


their innocence by undergoing ordeals. These are now
harmless enough, such as attempting to cook rice in a
pot which has not been fired, but Turnbull says that
he saw the boiling oil ordeal in 1813 in Pudukkottai
territory. Perhaps the most serious caste offence is
adultery with a man of another community. Turnbull
says that women convicted of this used to be sentenced
to be killed by Chakkiliyans, but nowadays rigid excom-
munication is the penalty."

The Kambalam caste is so called because, at caste
council meetings, a kambli (blanket) is spread, on which
is placed a kalasam (brass vessel) filled with water, and
containing margosa (Melia Azadirachtd) leaves, and
decorated with flowers. Its mouth is closed by mango
leaves and a cocoanut.

A correspondent writes to me that " the Zamindars
in the western parts of Madura, and parts of Tinnevelly,
are known as Kambala Palayapat. If a man belongs
to a Zamindar's family, he is said to be of the Raja
Kambala caste. The marriage ceremony is carried out
in two temporary huts erected outside the village, one
for the bridegroom, the other for the bride. The tali is
tied round the bride's neck by an elderly female or male
belonging to the family. If the marriage is contracted
with a woman of an inferior class, the bridegroom's hut
is not made use of, and he does not personally take part
in the ceremony. A dagger (kattar), or rude sword, is
sent to represent him, and the tali is tied in the presence

In a zamindari suit, details of which are published in
the Madras Law Reports, Vol. XVII, 1894, the Judge
found that the plaintiffs mother was married to the
plaintiff's father in the dagger form ; that a dagger is
used by the Saptur Zamindars, who are called Kattari


Kamaya, in the case of inequality in the caste or social
position of the bride ; that, though the customary rites
of the Kambala caste were also performed, yet the use
of the dagger was an essential addition ; and that, though
she was of a different and inferior caste to that of the
plaintiff's father, yet that did not invalidate the marriage.
The defendant's argument was that the dagger was used
to represent the Zamindar bridegroom as he did not
attend in person, and that, by his non-attendance, there
could have been no joining of hands, or other essential
for constituting a valid marriage. The plaintiff argued
that the nuptial rites were duly performed, the Zamindar
being present ; that the dagger was there merely as
an ornament ; and that it was customary for people of
the Zamindar's caste to have a dagger paraded on
the occasion of marriages. The Judge found that the
dagger was there for the purpose of indicating that the
two ladies, whom the Zamindar married, were of an
inferior caste and rank.

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Madura
district, that, when a Tottiyan girl attains maturity,
" she is kept in a separate hut, which is watched by
a Chakkiliyan. Marriage is either infant or adult. A
man has the usual claim to his paternal aunt's daughter,
and so rigorously is this rule followed that boys of
tender years are frequently married to grown women.
These latter are allowed to consort with their husband's
near relations, and the boy is held to be the father of
any children which may be born. Weddings last three
days, and involve very numerous ceremonies. They
take place in a special pandal erected in the village, on
either side of which are smaller pandals for the bride and
bridegroom. Two uncommon rites are the slaughtering
of a red ram without blemish, and marking the foreheads


of the couple with its blood, and the pursuit by the
bridegroom, with a bow and arrow, of a man who
pretends to flee, but is at length captured and bound.
The ram is first sprinkled with water, and, if it shivers,
this, as usual, is held to be a good omen. The bride-
price is seven kalams of kumbu (Pennisetum typhoideum),
and the couple may eat only this grain and horse-gram
until the wedding is over. A bottu (marriage badge) is
tied round the bride's neck by the bridegroom's sister."

Concerning the marriage ceremonies of the Yerra-
kollas, I gather that, on the betrothal day, kumbu must
be cooked. Food is given to seven people belonging
to seven different septs. They are then presented with
betel leaves and areca nuts and four annas tied in a cloth,
and the approaching marriage is announced. On the
wedding day, the bride and bridegroom are seated on
planks on the marriage dais, and milk is sprinkled over
them by people of their own sex. A few hours later,
the bridegroom takes his seat in the pandal, whither the
bride is brought in the arms of her maternal uncle. She
sits by the side of the bridegroom, and the Mettu
Nayakan links together the little fingers of the contract-
ing couple, and tells them to exchange rings. This is
the binding portion of the ceremony, and no bottu is
tied round the bride's neck. At a marriage among the
Vekkiliyans, two huts are constructed in an open space
outside the village, in front of which a pandal is erected,
supported by twelve posts, and roofed with leafy twigs
of the pongu tree and Mimusops hexandra. On the
following day, the bride and bridegroom are conducted
to the huts, the bride being sometimes carried in the
arms of her maternal uncle. They worship the ancestral
heroes, who are represented by new cloths folded, and
placed on a tray. The bridegroom's sister ties the bottu


on the bride's neck inside her hut, in front of which
kumbu grain is scattered. Betel and a fanam (coin) are
placed in the bride's lap. On the third day the bride-
groom is dressed up, and, mounting a horse, goes,
accompanied by the marriage pots, three times round
the huts. He then enters the bride's hut, and she is
carried in the arms of the cousins of the bridegroom
thrice round the huts. The contracting couple then sit
on planks, and the cousins, by order of the Mettu
Nayakan, link their little fingers together. They then
enter the bridegroom's hut, and a mock ploughing
ceremony is performed. Coming out from the hut, they
take up a child, and carry it three times round the huts.
This is, it is said, done because, in former days, the
Tottiyan bride and bridegroom had to remain in the
marriage huts till a child was born, because the Mettu
Nayakan was so busy that he had no time to complete
the marriage ceremony until nearly a year had elapsed.

At a wedding among the nomad Tottiyans, a fowl is
killed near the marriage (araveni) pots, and with its
blood a mark is made on the foreheads of the bride and
bridegroom on their entry into the booths. The Vek-
kiliyans sacrifice a goat or sheep instead of a fowl, and
the more advanced among them substitute the breaking
of a cocoanut for the animal sacrifice.

In connection with marriage, Mr. Hemingway writes
that " the Tottiyans very commonly marry a young boy
to a grown woman, and, as among the Konga Vellalas,
the boy's father takes the duties of a husband upon
himself until the boy is grown up. Married women are
allowed to bestow their favours upon their husbands'
relations, and it is said to be an understood thing that
a man should not enter his dwelling, if he sees another's
slippers placed outside as a sign that the owner of them


is with the mistress of the house. Intercourse with men
of another caste is, however, punished by expulsion,
and widows and unmarried girls who go astray are
severely dealt with. Formerly, it is said, they were

At a Tottiyan funeral, fire is carried to the burning-
ground by a Chakkiliyan, and the pyre is lighted, not
by the sons, but by the sammandhis (relations by

The Tottiyans of the Madura district observe the
worship of ancestors, who are represented by a number
of stones set up somewhere within the village boundaries.
Such places are called male. According to Mr.
Hemingway, when a member of the caste dies, some of
the bones are buried in this shed, along with a coin, and
a stone is planted on the spot. The stones are arranged
in an irregular circle. The circles of the Yerrakollas
are exceedingly simple, and recall to mind those of the
Nayadis of Malabar, but without the tree. The stones
are set up in an open space close to the burning-ground.
When a death occurs, a stone is erected among the
ashes of the deceased on the last day of the funeral
ceremonies (karmandhiram), and worshipped. It is
immediately transferred to the ancestral circle. The
male of the Vekkiliyan section of the Tottiyans consists
of a massive central wooden pillar, carved with male
and female human figures, set up in a cavity in a round
boulder, and covered over by a conical canopy supported
on pillars. When this canopy is set in motion, the
central pillar appears to be shaking. This illusion, it
is claimed, is due to the power of the ancestral gods.
All round the central pillar, which is about ten feet
high, a number of stones of different sizes are set up.
The central pillar represents Jakkamma and other




remote ancestors. The surrounding stones are the
representatives of those who have died in recent times.
Like the Yerrakollas, the Vekkiliyans erect a stone on
the karmandhiram day at the spot where the body was
cremated, but, instead of transferring it at once to the
ancestral circle, they wait till the day of periodical male
worship, which, being an expensive ceremonial, may
take place only once in twelve years. If the interval
is long, the number of stones representing those who
have died meanwhile may be very large. News of the
approaching male worship is sent to the neighbouring
villages, and, on the appointed day, people of all castes
pour in, bringing with them several hundred bulls.
The hosts supply their guests with fodder, pots, and
a liberal allowance of sugar-cane. Refusal to bestow
sugar-cane freely would involve failure of the object of
the ceremonial. After the completion of the worship,
the bulls are let loose, and the animal which reaches
the male first is decorated, and held in reverence. Its
owner is presented with cloths, money, etc. The
ceremony may be compared with that of selecting the
king bull among the Kappiliyans.

Self-cremation is said * to have been " habitually
practiced by Tottiya widows in the times anterior to
British domination ; and great respect was always shown
to the memory of such as observed the custom. Small
tombs termed thipanjankovil (fire-torch temple) were
erected in their honour on the high-roads, and at these
oblations were once a year offered to the manes of the
deceased heroines. Sati was not, however, compulsory
among them, and, if a widow lived at all times a perfectly
chaste and religious life, she was honoured equally with

* Manual of the Madura district.


such as performed the rite." It is noted, in the Gazetteer
of the Madura district, that "sati was formerly very
common in the caste, and the two caste goddesses,
Jakkamma and Bommayya, are deifications of women
who thus sacrificed themselves. Every four years a
festival is held in their honour, one of the chief events
in which is a bullock race. The owner of the winning
animal receives a prize, and gets the first betel and nut
during the feast. The caste god is Perumal, who is
worshipped in the form of a curry-grinding stone. The
story goes that, when the Tottiyans were fleeing to the
south, one of their women found her grinding-stone so
intolerably heavy that she threw it away. It, however,
re-appeared in her basket. Thrown away again, it once
more re-appeared, and she then realised that the caste
god must be accompanying them."

"The Tottiyans," Mr. Hemingway writes, "do not
recognise the superiority of Brahmans, or employ them
as priests at marriages or funerals. They are deeply
devoted to their own caste deities. Some of these are
Bommaka and Mallamma (the spirits of women who
committed sati long ago), Vlrakaran or Viramati (a
bridegroom who was killed in a fight with a tiger),
Pattalamma (who helped them in their flight from the
north), and Malai Tambiran, the god of ancestors.

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