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Our Lady of Dolours at Dindigul (built in 1729) and of Our Lady
of the Eosary facing the Perumal Teppakulam at Madura (erected
]770) were left in the hands of the authorities of Goa, who still
possess a few adherents in the district. In this same year 1886,
by the Bull Humance Salutis, Pope Leo XIII established the
Catholic hierarchy in India and the Madura Vicariate Apostolic
was formed into the Bishopric of Trichinopoly, under the juris-
diction of which its missions are at present conducted.

Tlie largest Eoman Catholic congregations are now those in
Madura and Dindigul, but there are 36 churches in other places
in the district, the mission employs sixteen European priests,
keeps up orphanages for boys and for girls at Madura, and is
about to establish a nunnery of Europeans in tliat town to take
charge of its girls' schools and dispensaries. Its funds arc
received principally from France,

Tlie American Madura Mission was established in 1834 as an American
off-shoot of the Jaffna Mission in Ceylon.^ The first workers to **iss'°''

^ Fur the materials lor tho uccount which follows, I urn indobied lo the
ller. J. S. Chandler of the American Mission,





arrive in Madura were Mr. and Mrs. Todd and Mr. Hoisington.
Stations were subsequently established in Dindigul (1835),
Tirumang-alam (1838), Pasumalai (1845), Periyakulam (1848),
Vattilagundu (1857), Melur (1857) and Palni (1862). Tlie East
Gate Church at Madura was begun on part of the glacis of the old
fort (see p. 266) in 1843 and finished in 1845.

For several years the policy of the mission was to endeavour
to introduce a knowledge of Christianity among the people by
means of free schools for native boys, with Hindus as teachers,
and boarding-schools with Christian teachers, and its educational
institutions were a very prominent part of its work. In 1847,
however, great defections were caused by efforts to abolish caste
distinctions among the converts, and in 1855 the visit to Madura
of a deputation of two members of the American Board resulted
in a considerable reversal of the original policy. English education
was abandoned, changes were made in the seminary which had
been established at Pasumalai (p. 176), the large English school at
Madura was closed, and nearly all the boarding-schools except
that for girls at Madura were abolished.

Gradually, however, it was realised that this change had
not been for the better^ and little by little the schools were re-
established. The more important of those which the mission now
maintains are referred to below in Chapter X.

Another noticeable feature in the policy of the mission has
been the combination of medical aid to the natives with its
evangelistic work, several of its members being trained medical
men. The leader of this branch of its operations was the late
Eev. E. Chester, for many years resident in Dindigul. The first
lady physician, Miss Root, m.d.j arrived in 1885 and her
efforts eventually resulted in the erection of the mission hospital
for women in Madura. This and the other medical institutions
kept up by the mission are referred to in Chapter IX below. The
share which the mission took in the foundation of the sanitarium
of Kodaikanal on the Palni Hills is mentioned in the account of
that place on p. 250.

Its members now include twelve ordained Europeans and a
number of missionary ladies, and it possesses 27 churches. Among
the best-remembered of its ministers are the Rev. W. Tracy,
D.D., for 25 years in charge of the Pasumalai seminary (whose
son, the Eev. J. E. Tracy, is still with the mission) and the Rev.
J. E. Chandler, whose son is also still working at Madura. The
expenditure of the mission is some Rs. 80,000 annually, almost
all of which comes from America.







The Liitlieran cliureli first began work in the district in tlie
second lialf of tlie eighteenth century, in the time of tlie flourisli-
ing Danish Lutheran Missions at Tranqnehar anrl Tanjore.
Catechists wore sent to Dindigiil and otlier places and succeeded
in establishing congregations. The care of all tliese was eventu-
ally, however, transferred to tlie Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel and nothing more was done for many years.

It was not until 1875 that the Leipzig Lutheran Mission began
its work in the district. In that year it sent its first European
missionary to Madura.' In 1882 a second was despatched, and
since 1889 he has been living at Dindigul. Three years after-
wards another was sent to Madura, but in 1903 he was transferred
to Yirudupatti in the Tinnevelly district. Two missionary ladies
are now working at Madura. The mission possesses eight
churches and two more are under construction. It also maintains
a number of schools, but none of these are above the primary

The Musalmans in the district number four per cent, of the
population, a figure about equal to the average of the southern
districts. They are proportionately most numerous in the Mel6r
and Palni taluks, and least so in Tirumangalam.

The very great majority of them belong to the community E^vutans,
locally known as Ravutans, who are probably the descendants
either of Hindus of this part of the world who in former times
were forcibly converted to Islam, or of Musalman fathers by the
women of this country. They are a pushing and frugal (not to
say parsimonious) class. Far from following others of their
co-religionist? in thinking much of the past, less of the present and
least of the future, they conduct the important trade in leather
which the district possesses, grow much betel and do a great deal
of the commerce of the country, both wholesale and retail. They
seldom marry with the Musalmans of pure descent, although there
is no religious bar to such alliances, and they often (as in Dindigul
town) live in separate streets away from them. They speak Tamil,
and not Hindustani like the Musalmans proper. They also
observe, at weddings and similar ceremonies, several customs
which are clearly Hindu in origin, such as the use of music and
the tying of a tali. 1'he dress and ornaments of both men and
women strongly resemble those of Hindus, the men being often
only distinguishable by the tartan patterns of their waist-cloths,
their beards and their shaven heads, and the w^omen only by tlieir
having a loose jacket (instead of a tight bodice) and wearing a

^ The particulars wliicli follow wcro kiudly furnished by the Rev. Tjtl,
Bloomstraud, in charge of the inisBion's affairs at Madura.





with Hindus.

series of small rings on the outer edge of the ear. At deaths,
they often divide property in accordance with Hindu, and not
Mnhammadan, law.

They are grouped into a nuuihcr of sub-divisions which are
endogamous in character and usually territorial in origin.
Instances of these ai'e the Puliyankudiyar, the men of PuliyankucU
in Tinnevelly ; the Elaiyankudiyar, the men of Elaiyankudi in
Ramnad zamindari ; the Musiriyar, the men of Musiri in Trichi-
nopoly ; the Vaigakaraiyar, the men of the Yaigai banks ; and
the Eruttuk^rar, ' buUock-men/ tliose who used to trade with

The Musalmans live on amicable terms with their Hindu
neighbours. They are permitted (see p. o07) to go to the great
Hindu temple of Subrahmanya at Palni to make their offerings
there, and Hindus flock to the famous tomb of the Musalman
fakir on the top of the hill at Tiruj^parankunram. The followers
of the two faiths join in the celebration of the fire-walking
which in this district very often follows the Mohurrum.
The Hindus. It remains to refer to the Hindus, the most numerous of the

religious communities of the district. A few words may be said
about their social and religious ways, and then some account will
be given of the castes among them which are found in particular
strength in this part of the country.
Villages. The villages of the district are built in the scattered fashion

common in the south. The three polluting castes, the Pallans,
Paraiyans and Telugu Cliakkiliyans, always live in separate cheris^
or hamlets, outside them. 'The other communities are more
particular about residing together than is usually the case. Even
if the Brahman houses number only two or three, they will
generally be found side by side, and the other castes similarly try
to collect together, each in their own street. There are usually
three wells, one for Brdhmans, one for Sudras and Musalmans,
and the third for the polluting castes.

Old records show that in the troubled period before the
Company acquired the country almost every village was fortified
in some fashion. A mud rampart was the usual defence, and
where this was beyond the means of the community a strong live
hedge of thorny plants and trees was planted round the village site
and provided with a single entrance which was closed at night w^ith
a strong gate. In many villages the stone posts which formerly
flanked these gateways may still be seen. They are called
vddivdsal and when the village deities are worshipped they often
come in for some share of the oblations and offerings which are
going. Almost every village has a mandai, or piece of open


ground, in the middle of it and in this is nearly always a chdvadi, CHAP. III.

half clul) and half court-house, which is kept up at the common The Hinduu.

expense and is used as a meeting - place for gossip in the mornings

and evenings, as a spot in which to loaf away the long days in

the hot weather when cultivation is at a standstill, or as a court

for the hearing of disputes or caste questions. In the Mellir

taluk these chavadis are often intimately connected with the

worship of Karuppan, the favourite deity of the Kalians. In big

villages there are often several of them for the use of the different

castes. If the villagers cannot afford a regular building for a

chdvadi they will at least put up a masonry platform under some

shady tree to serve the same purposes.

The strong corporate feeling which enables these places to be
built and kept up also exhibits itself in the common {s/imuddz/aoi)
funds which exist in so many villages. These are formed from
the proceeds of land and fruit trees held on common patta, or
from the sum paid for the right to collect a tax imposed by
common consent on articles of certain classes bought or sold in
the bazaars. The funds are spent for the common benefit on such
objects as repairs to drinking-water sources, ceremonies at the
temples, dramatic performances and so on. In Bcklindyakkanur,
a school is maintained. Sometimes the members of a particular
caste in a village organize similar funds by taxing themselves for
the benefit of their community 'I'he Shandns and the Patntilkarans
are especially fond of doing this.

Houses are much the same as elsewhere. AVhere the Kalians Houses.
are most numerous, the fear of incendiarism induces people to try
to afford a tiled or terraced roof instead of being content with
thatch. But as a rule the ryots seem to believe in the poetess
Auvaiyar's saying ' Build small and prosper greatly,' and outside
the towns the stranger is struck with the meanness of the average
type of house. The cattle are always tied up in the houses at
night. Fear of the Kalians prevents them from beiug left in the
fields, and they may be seen coming into the villages every even-
ing in scores, choking every one with the dust they kick up, and
polluting the village site (instead oE manuring the land) for twelve
hours out of every twenty-four. Buffaloes are tied up outside the
houses. Kalians do not care to steal tliem, as they are of little
value, are very troublesome when a stranger tries to handle them,
and cannot travel fast or far enough to be out of reach of detection
by daybreak.

In the Palni taluk there are fewer Kalians and the ryots are
much keener farmers than elsewliere in the district, and there the
cattle are very usually penned in the fields at night. People who




CHAP. III. have a well generally have a house next it, in addition to tlieir
Thb Hin dub. ordinary dwelling in the village site, and thus they can stay out

on their land at night to watch over the cattle penned on it.
^rean. The dress of the people does not differ greatly from that in

other southern districts. The prevailing colour of the garrmmts
of the women of the poorer classes is red. Three becoming items
in their attire which are less common further north are the heavy
silver bracelets (iol kdppu) worn just above the elbow ; the fashion
of tying a bunch of white flowers to the centre of the tali necklet,
just under the chin ; and the trick of allowing the embroidered
end of their cloths to hang squarely down behind from their
waists, like a sort of dress-improver. The lowest classes spend
more on their dress than is usual in the south — the fine, handsome
Pallan women of the Palni taluk being conspicuous in this respect.
The ravikhat, or tight-fitting bodice, is seldom worn by non-
Brahmans. Indeed the women of the Kalians work in the fields
with their bodies above the waist quite bare, and in the west of
Tirumangnlam taluk they never cover theiv breasts at all excej)t
when going into a town. The Kalians say that an unmarrie(i
girl of their castu once used her upper cloth to conceal the fact
that she was with child, and that the garment was accordingly
tabooed in consequence. The women among the Patuulkarans
of Madura are taking to tying their cloths in the fashion followed
by Br^hmans, bunching them up in front and passing one end
between their legs and tucking it into the waist behind.

The women of practically alt non-Brahman castes except those
of Telugu origin practise the fashion of stretching the lobes of their
ears. The Kalian girls are especially noticeable in this respect,
their lobes sometimes reaching even to their shoulders. In
quarrels between women of the lower castes these long ears form
a favourite object of attack, and ' lf)bo-tearing cases ' figure
frequently in police records. The boring of the ear is done by
Kuravan women as early as tlie eighth day after birth, and
thereafter the stretching is continued by hanging leaden rings
from the hole. The ear becomes finally the most bejewelled
part of a woman's person. No account of the various ornaments
suspended from it by the different castes would be intelligible
without illustrations. Some description of the prevalent fasliious
will be found in Mr. TTavell's paper in the Journal of Indian Art,
V. 32 ff. .

Tattooing is as common as elsewhere. Kuravan andDomban
women do it. Roman Catholics frequently have a cross done
between the eye-brows, on the spot where the sect-mark of the
Hindu is usually put.


TLe footl of t.lie mass of the jioople consists of cholam, ragi CHAP. III.
and cambn, wbicb rank in public estimation in tins order. The Hindus.
Varag'u and Siimai are considered inferior. Kiee is eaten only by p ^
the wealthier classes. Chntneys and vegetables of the usual
kinds are employed to render more p;ilatabl.) the various pre-
parations made from these grains.

The people have fewer amusements than usual. In the di-y Amusements.
weather, when cultivation is at a standstill and every one has
plenty of leisure, Dombans, Kuravans and (to a les-:! extent)
•"allans are invited to the villages to act some of the usual plays,
but except those professional com})anies no one ge^s up dramatic
lierformances. Cock-fighting is common, especially on *he Melur
side, and is practised by many different castes.

A game which is peculiar to this district and the country immed
lately to the north of it, and is one of the very few manly sports
which survive in southern India, is the jallikat or jellicut. The
word jn/Ukatiu literally means ' tying of ornaments.' On a day
fixed and advertised by bent of drum at the adjacent weekly markets
a number of cattle, to the horns of which cloths and handkerchiefs
have been tied, are loosed one after the other, in quick succession,
from a large pen or other enclosure amid a furious tom-tomniing
and loud shouts from the crowd of assembled spectators. The
animals have first to run the gauntlet down along lane formed of
country carts, and then gallop off wildly iu every direction ; the
game consists in endeavouring to capture the cloths tied to their
horns. To do this requires lleetness of foot and considerable pluck,
and those who are successful are the heroes of the hour. Cuts and
bruises are the reward of those who are less skilful , and now and
again some of the excited cattle charge into the onlookers and send
a few of them flying. The sport has in consequence been prohi-
bited on more than one occasion ; but, seeing that no one need run
any risks unless he chooses, existing official opinion inclines to the
view that it is a pity to discourage a manly amusement which is
not really more dangerous than football, steeple chasing or fox-
Imnting. The keenness of the more virile sections of the com-
munity (especially tlie Kalians) in this game is extraordinary, and
in many villages cattle are bred and reared specially for it. The
best jallikats arc to be seen in the Kalian country in Tiruman-
galam, and next come those in Melur and Madura taluks.

The sport can boast a very respectable antiquity. A j^oet of
the early years of the present era quoted by Mr. Kanakasabhai
Filial in The Tamils eighteen hundred years ago describes in vivid
fashion the jallikat practised by tlu^ shepherd caste in those days.








CHAF. III. The bulls had sharpened horns and the competitors were required
The Hindus, to actually capture and hold them. Serious wounds were the
order of the day and the young men who most distinguished them-
selves were awarded the hands of the fairest of the girls of the
caste, who watched the game from a kind of elevated grand stand.
It is said that even nowadays the swain who would win the favour
of a Kalian maiden must first prove himself worthy of her choice
by prowess at the jallikat.

Though Madura town itself is a well-known centre of Brah-
manism, the district as a whole is as purely Dravidian in religious
sentiment as any in the south. Brahmans number only 18 in
every 1 ,000 of the population (or fewer than anywhere in the
south except Coimbatore, South Arcot and Salem) and their
influence upon the religious and social life of the community is
small. The famous Brahmanical temples at Madura, Tirupparan-
kunram, Palni, Alagarkovil and one or two other places attract
attention and create the impression that the people must be
generally devoted to the worship of the orthodox gods, but a closer
examination shows that there are large areas devoid of any large
shrine in the honour of these deities and given over to the cult of
the lesser Dravidian godlings. In Dindigul taluk, for example,
the Vaishnavite temples at Tadikkombu and Vadamadura are
almost the only orthodox institutions to be found.

Saivism is the prevalent form of belief. The rulers of Yijaya-
nagar were of Vaishnavite sympathies, and the poligars who fol-
lowed their armies into the district brought their own Vaishnavite
deities with them and established frequent shrines to them which
are still in existence. But the Nayakkan kings were catholic-
minded rulers, and their gifts and additions to the Saivite shrines
in and around Madura town show how free they were from all
narrow bigotry.

One reason why the Brahmans have been unable to impose
their rites to any large extent upon the people of the district is
the fact that large sections of the community regard it as in no
way necessary that their marriages should be performed, or their
funerals attended, by any kind of professional priest. In the
accounts of the castes which follow below, it will be seen that the
tali is frequently tied, not by a priest, but by the bridegroom's
sister. Where custom requires that a priest should do it, this
man very usually belongs to the caste himself, and is rather a
social, than a religious, leader. Thus the Brahmans have not the
opportunities of impressing their beliefs and rites upon the
people which are in some districts afforded by the in dispensability
of their presence at domestic ceremonies.


The non-Brahmanical deities, as elsewhere, are legion, and CHAF. ill.
space onl^ permits of a reference to one or two of tliem which arc Thk Hindus.
especially characteristic of the district.

Of all of them, Karuppan is the most prominent, lie is essen- popuim-
tially the god of the Kalians, especially of the Kalians of the il^^ities:
Meliir side. In those parts his shrine is usually the Kalians' ^* PP^**^'
chdvndi. Ho is said to liave been brought '■ from the nortli ' and
worship to hini is done with the face turned in tliat direction.
One of his most famous shrines is that at Manaparai inthc Trichi-
nopoly district. Tie delights in the sacrifice of goats "'and sheep.
His priests are usually Kalians or Kusavans. He has many differ-
ent names : if his image be large, he will be called Periya (big)
Karuppan; if small, Chinna Karuppan; if his dwelling is in the
piece of open ground belonging to the village, he will be known
as Mandai Karuppan. In the Melur taluk his shrine may usually
be known by the hundreds of iron chains hung outside it which have
been presented to the god in performance of vows. The deity is
said to be fond of bedecking himself witli chains, and these offerings
are usually suspended from a kind of ' horizontal bar,' made of
two tall stone uprights supporting a slah of stone placed horizon-
tally upon the top of them. Ho is also fond jf presents of clubs
and swords. The curious collection of these weapons at liis shrine
at the main door of the Alagarkovil is mentioned in the account of
that temple on p 284 below. Bells are also welcome, and in Tiru-
mangalam taluk these are often hung in numbers to the trees
round his abode. On the Palni side, Karuppan's shrine is often
furnished with little swings for the delectation of tlie god, and with
terracotta elephants, horses and other animals so that he may be
able to perambulate the village at night to see that all is well.

Elsewhere, these images are the sign of a temple to Aiyanar. . •
The biggest examples of them in the whole district are perhaps
the brick and mortar erections outside the shrine to that god at
Madakkulam near Madura. Some account of tliis deity has been
given in tlie Gazetteer of South Arcot, in which district he is even
more popular, and the description there is generally applicable to
Madura and need not be repeated.

Anotlier god (or demon) who is common to both districts is Maduiai
Madurai Viran. Curiously enougli, this personage, wliose lustory ^'I'^i"-
is also given in that Gaztftccr, is held in much less honour in this,
his own, country than in South Arcot. His little shrine just soutli
of the eastern entrance to the great temple at Madura is Jield in
considerable repute and children are often named after him and
nis famous wife Bommi, but in the villages lie is less known.


Thf Hindis



Aiiotlier male deity is Saltan, who is said to reside iu trees.
Bits of rags are liung" on the branches of his dwelling. Several
trees covered in this mannej* may be seen by the road through the
Andipatti pass.

Tlie other minor deities are all of the other sex. The com-
monest is Mariamman,!the well-known goddess of sraall-pox. The
personalities, attributes and likes and dislikes of the others are ill-
defined. They go by various flattering names, such as Ponnam-
mal (' golden lady "). Muttammal {' pearl lady ') and so forth, and
are propitiated at irregular intervals and in varying methods.
Several of them require buffaloes to be offered up. ^Tho sacrifice of
these animals at the festival to Yandikaliamma at Attur is referred
to in the account of that place on p. 230 below, and similar
rites on a smaller scale are performed at numerous other
goddess' shrines — those, for example, at Paraipatti in the Kanni-
vadi zamindari, at Padiyur in Dindigul taluk, at JDindigul itself
and at tlip two shrines to Alagia-nachiamma in Palni town. The
Sapta Kannimar, or seven virgins, are common objects of adora-
tion and their images are very often to be seen in the shrines of
the other village goddesses.

Tows to these deities are unusually common, and sometimes

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