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periodically lighted on the tomb and it is whitewashed annually.
The Piramalainad division usually burn the dead. If a woman
dies when witli child, the baby is taken out and placed alongside
her on the pyre. This, it may liere bo noted, is the rule with
most castes in this district, and in some communities the relations
afterwards put up a stone burden-rest b)' the side of a road, the
idea being that the woman died with her burden and so her spirit
rejoices to see others lightened of theirs.

It has been stated ^ that in the eighteenth century custom
required either ])arty to a Kalian quarrel to pprform on his own
family whatever cruelties the other chose to inflict on his, and
that accordingly one of two disputants had been known to kill his
owu child so as to have the fiendish delight of forcing his adver-
sary to do likewise. This idea is now apparently quite extinct.

' Turnbuir* notice of the caHti> already cited.
' Orme's history, i, 382, and Turnbull's account.


CHAP. III. The fondness of the Kalians for jallikats, their women's

Principal fashions of stretchino- their ear-lobes and dispensing' with an upper

1 ' cloth, and their devotion to Karuppanasvami have been referred

to already in this chapter. Hard things have been said about the
Kalians, but points to their credit are the chastity of their women,
the cleanliness they observe in and around their villages and their
marked sobriety. A toddy-shop in a Kalian villag-e is seldom a
financial success.


After the Kalians, the Idaiyans are the next most numerous
Tamil caste in the district. They number about 154,000. They
are the shepherds and cowherds of the community and their
title is Konan. They have an imposing math at Palni, near the
Tiruvavinangudi temple.

The caste is grouped into numerous sub-divisions which are
endogamous but will dine together. Those most commonly met
with in this district are the Podunattu, who mostly live to the
south and west of Madura town ; the Pancharamkatti, who are in
great strength in the same place ; the Eajendra and Kalkatti,
both common round Kambam and Gudalur in Periyakulam taluk ;
and the Valasu and Pendukkumekki, on the borders of the
Bamnad zamindari.

The Podunattu Idaiyans have a tradition that they originally
belonged to Tinnevelly, but fled to this district secretly one night
in a body in the time of Tirumala Nayakkan because the local
chief oppressed them. Tirumala welcomed them and put them
under the care of the Kalian headman Pinnai Tevan already men-
tioned, decreeing that, to ensure that this gentleman and his
successors faithfully observed the charge, they should be always
appointed by an Idaiyan. That condition is observed to this day.

In this sub -division a man has the same right to marry his
paternal aunt's daughter as is possessed by the Kalians. But if
the woman's age is much greater than the boy's, she is usually
married instead to his cousin or some one else on that side of the

A Brdhman priest officiates at weddings and the sacred fire is
used, but the bridegroom's sister ties the tali. Divorce and the
re-marriage of widows is prohibited. The dead, except infants,
are burnt. Caste affairs are settled by a headman called the
Nattanmaikaran, who is assisted by an accountant and a peon.
All three are elected. The headman has the management of the
caste fund, which is utilised in the celebration of festivals on
pertain dayB in some of the larger temples of the district.



Among these Podandttus an uncommon rule of inheritance is CHAP. III.
in force. A woman who has no male issue at the time of her Pbincipal

husband's death has to return his property to his brother, father, *

or maternal uncle, but is allotted maintenance, the amount of
whicli is fixed by a caste panchayat. Among- the Yalasu and
Pendukkumekki sub-divisions another 0(id form of inheritance
subsists. A man's propei-t-y descends to his sons-in-law, who live
with him, and not to his sons. The sons merely get maintenance
until they are married.

The Pancharamkatti sub-division consists of two sections, one
of whicli has a number of exogamous septs called kilais (branches)
and the other has none. Its customs generally resemble those of
the Podunattu Idaiyans, but widows are allowed to marry again.
In the first of the two sections above mentioned a widow may
re-marry once ; in the second there is no restriction. As soon as
a widow's tali is removed it is replaced by a gold pendant shaped
like a many-rayed sun and having three dots on it. This is called
Pancharam and gives the sub-division its name. The story goes
that the god Krishna used to tie a similar ornament round the
necks of Idaiyan widows of whom he was enamoured as a sio-n
that pleasure was not forbidden them. The dead of the Pancha-
ramkatti sub-division are usually buried, and annually at the
Pongal feast lights are placed on their tombs.

The Valaiyans are nearly as numerous as the Idaiyans. Their Valaiyans,
name is derived from valui, a net, and they ' formerly lived chiefly
by snaring birds and small animals. Nowadays many of them are
cultivators and some of them are thieves. They have a comical
fairy tale of the origin of the war which still goes on between
them and the rat-tribe. It relates how the chiefs of the rats met
in conclave and devised the various means for annoying and
harassing the enemy which they stiLl practise with sucli effect.
The Valaiyans are grouped into four endogamous sub-divisions ;
namely Vahni, Valattu, Karadi and Kangu. The last of these is
again divided into Pasi-katti, those who use a bead necklet instead
of a tali, and Karai-katti, those whose women wear horse-hair neck-
laces like the Kalians. The caste title is M6ppan. Caste matters
are settled by a headman called the Kambliyan (' blanket man '),
who lives at Aruppukottai and comes round in state to any villao-e
which requires his services, seated on a horse and accompanied by
servants who hold an umbrella over his head and fan him. He
holds his court seated on a blanket. The fines imposed go in
equal shares to the aramanai (literally, ' palace,' i.e., to the head-
man himself) and the oramanai, that is, the caste people.






A Yalaiyan lias tlie right to claim his maternal uncle's
daughter as a wife. At weddings the bridegroooi's sister ties the
tali and then hurries the bride off to her brother's house, where
he is waiting. When a girl attains maturity she is made to live
for a fortnight in a temporary hut, which she afterwards burns
down. While she is there, the little girls of the caste meet outside
it and sing a song illustrative of the charms of womanliood and
its power of alleviating the unhappy lot of the bachelor. Two of
the verses say : —

What of the hair of a man ?

It is twisted and matted, and a burden.
What of the tresses of a woman ?

They are as flowers in a garland, and a glory.
What of the life of a man ?

It is that of the dog at the palace gate.
What of the days of a woinan ?

They are like the gently- waving leaves in a festoon.

Divorce is readily permitted on the usual payments and
divorcees and widows may re-marry. A married woman who goes
astray is brought before the Kambliyan, who delivers a homily
and then orders the man's waist-string to be tied round her neck.
This legitimises any children they may have.

Certain of the Valaiyans who live at Ammayanayakkanur are
the hereditary pt/jdris to the gods of the Sirumalai hills. Some
of these deities are uncommon, and one of them, Papparayan, is
said to be the spirit of a Brahman astrologer whose monsoon
forecast was falsified by events and who, filled with a shame rare
in unsuccessful weather-prophets, threw himself accordingly off a
high point on the range.

The ceremonies at a Valaiyan funeral are elaborate. At the
end of them the relations go three times round a basket of grain
placed under a pandal, beating their breasts and singing —
For us the kanj'i : Kailasam for thee ;
Eice for us : for thee Svargalokam,
and then wind turbans round the head of the deceased's heir in
recognition of his new position as chief of the family.

When a woman loses her husband, she goes three times round
the village mandai with a pot of water on her shoulder. After
each of the firs^i two journeys the barber makes a hole in the pot
and at the end of the third he hurls down the vessel and cries
out an adjuration to the departed spirit to leave the widow and
children in peace.


KamTTialan is a generic term applied to the artisans of tlie CHAP. Ill,
Tamil countrj. The Kammalan caste is divided into five sec- Principal
tions ; namely, Tattans or goldsmiths, KoUans or blacksmiths, C xbiE a.
Kannans or brass-smiths, Tachchans or carpenters, and Kal Kammalam.
Tachchans or stone masons. These all intermarry and dine
together. The caste title is Asari. The Kanimalans claim to be
of divine origin and say that they are descended from Visva-
karma, the architect of the gods. They consequently assume
airs of superiority over the Brahmans, wear the sacred thread and
copy many of the Brahmanical customs. These pretensions are
of long standing, but none the less the caste has not yet shaken
itself free from several of its Dravidian customs and these reveal
its descent. The Kammalans talk, for example, of their gott^as,
but these, unlike real gotras, form no guide to the marriages
which are permissible, and the caste follows tlie Dravidian rule
that a man is entitled to the hand of his paternal aunt's daughter.
Again, though marriage is often performed between infants after
the Brahmanical fasliion, yet the Dravidian bride-price is always
paid. Widows may not re-marry, but they are allowed to wear
jewellery and chew betel and nut and are not required to observe
the fasts which Brahman widows keep. The dead, again, are
usually buried and not burnt, and the pollution lasts for the
period common among non-Brahman castes — sixteen days.
Vegetarianism is commonly practised and yet animal sacrifices
are made to village goddesses.

The caste-goddess is Kamakshiamman, and she has lier own
temple wherever Kammalans are numerous. In this all caste
disputes and affairs are settled. No tradition of this deity's
origin appears to survive. The caste-organization is very com-
plete. Each of the five divisions elects its own ndttdninaihdran,
or headman, and his hnryaslan, or executive officer. From the
five ndttdmnaikdrans a headman of the whole caste, called the
anjuvidn ndUdnniaikdran is selected by lot, a little child being made
to draw the lots in Kamakshiararaan's temple. These officials
all serve for life. Local headmen, subordinate to them, are often
appointed in big villages where the community is numerous.
The caste guru lives in Tinnevelly. He is a householder, and not
a sanydsi, and his authority is limited.

After the Kammalans in numerical strengtli come the Chettis. Nattak^f^si
Of tlvis great community the only sub-division which is especially ^•^^•^tis.
prominent in Madura is the Nattukottai, or wealthy banking,
section. The traditions of these people say that they fled to this
district from Kaveripattanam, formerly the chief port of Tanjoro


CHAP. III. "because tlie Cliola king oppressed tliem ; and that they first settled
Pkixcipal at Nfittarasatikottai near Sivaganga, whence their name. 'J'hey

* are devout Saivites and are usuallj plentifully marked with holy

ash and wear a rudrdkshmn seed hung round their necks. They
shave their heads completely, not leaving the usual kudutm, and
their women stretch the lobes of their ears. Consequently ingeni-
ous native genealogists have pronounced them to be the offspring
of Kalian women by Musalraan fathers. The fact that their
unmarried girls wear necklaces of cowries has similarly given
rise to the story that the caste is descended from unions between
Kalians and Kuravans.

The Nattukottai Chettis have two territorial endogamous
sub-divisions, Ilaiyattakudi and Ariviyur, called after two villages
in the Sivaganga zamindari ; the necklets of the married women
of the former of these have two strings, while those of the
matrons of the latter have only one. The Ilaiyattakudi section
is further divided into seven exogamous septs called kovils, or
temples, which derive their names from seven favourite temples
in the seven villages of Ilaiyattakudi, Mattur, Iluppaikudi,
Surakkudi, Yairavankovil, Pillaiyarpatti and \'^elangudi.

At weddings, garlands are brought from the temple to which
the bridegroom's family belongs, A man has a right to the hand
of his paternal aunt's daughter and the usual bride-price is paid.
The tali is tied by a man of the caste, for choice one who has had
many children. Vegetarian families intermarry with those which
eat meat. Widows may not re-marry and divorce is forbidden.
The dead are burnt. I'ollution lasts for fifteen days and is
removed by the gurus. There are two of these, the heads of the
maths at Piranmalai and at Padarakudi near Tiruppattur,

The Nattukottai Chettis are bankers, money-lenders and
wholesale merchants, and do business all over south India and in
Burma, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements and Natal. The foreign
business is transacted by local agents belonging to the caste,
who receive a salary proportioned to the distance of the place from
Madura, and also, usually, a percentage on the profits. 'I'hey
generally serve for three-year terms and then return -and give an
account of their stewardship. In time they amass enough to start
business on their own account. The caste has a high reputation in
the commercial world for integrity and businesslike habits. These
latter they carry even into their domestic affairs. As long as the
father is alive, all the sons live together under the same roof with
him. Hence the huge houses for which the Nattukottai Chettis
in the Sivaganga zamindari are known. But though the various


component parts of a family reside under one roof, they do not CHAP. III.
mess in common; but eacli oie is given a carefully-calculated Principal
annual budget allotment of rice, condiments and other necessaries Castis.
and required to cook his meals by himself.

Of the profits of their commercial transactions a fixed per-
centage f called magamai) is usually set aside for charity. Some
of the money so collected is spent on keeping up Sanskrit
schools, but most of it has been laid out in the repair and restora-
tion of the temples of tlie south, especial attention being paid
to those shrines {pd-Jal petta sUiahincjaL as they are called) which
were hymned by the four great Saivite poet-saints, Manikya-
Yachakar, Appar, Tirugnana Sambandhar and Sundaramurti.
Lakhs have Ijcen laid ont on these buildings, but unluckily the
money has not alwa^'s been expended with taste, or with a fitting
reverence for the older work.

Vannans are the washermen of the community. The name is Vannins
rather an occupational term than a caste title and, besides the
Pandya Tanniins or Vannans proper, includes the Vaduga Vannans,
' northern washermen ' or Tsakalas of theTelugu country, and the
Palla, Pudara and Tulukka Vannans, who wash for the Pallans,
Paraiyans and Musalmans respectively. The Pandya Vannans
have a headman called the Periya manislian ('big man ') who has
the usual powers and privileges. A man can claim the hand of his
paternal aunt^s daughter. At weddings a bride-price of Es. 10|-
is paid and the bridegroom's sister ties the tali. Nambis officiate,
and receive a fee of five fanams. Divorce is freely allowed to
either party on payment of twice the bride-price, and divorcees
may marry again. The caste-god is Grurunathan, in whose temples
the pujari is usually a Vannan. The dead are generally burnt,
and on the sixteenth day the liouse is purified from pollution by a

The Kusavans are the potters. They have no caste headmen Knsavans.
and their only sub-divisions are tlie territorial sections Pandya,
Chola and Cliera. They say these are descended fi-om the tliree
sons of their orij^imil ancestor Kulalan, who was t]ic son of
Brahma. He }>rayed to Bralima to be allowed, like liim, to
create and destroy tilings daily ; so Bralima made liim a potter.
A Kusavan can claim the hand of his paternal aunt's daughter.
Marriage occurs before puberty. The tali is tied by the bride-
groom's sister and the usual bride-price is paid. The ceremonies
last three days. One of them consists in the bridegroom's sister
sowing seeds in a pot, and on the last day of the wedding the
seedlings which have sprouted are taken with music to a river or







tank and thrown into it. When the Ijride attains maturity a cere-
mocy is conducted by the caste-priest and consummation follows
on the next auspicious day,

Botli divorce and tlie re-rnarriag-e of widows are forbidden.
The dead, except infants, are burnt. The special deity of the
caste is Aiyanar. Kusavans are generally the pujaris in his
temples, and they make the earthenware horses and images which
are placed before these buildings.

The Parivaram caste are the domestic servants of the Tottiyan
(Kambalattcir) zamindars. The word means a retinue, and was no
doubt originally merely an occupational term. The community
speaks both Tamil and Telugu. It is divided into two endoga-
mous sections; the Chinna IJliyam (' little services '), who are
])alanquin-bearers and have the title Tevan ; and the Periya
Uliyam ('big services '), who are called Maniyakaran The
Kombai Parivarams, who are the servants of the Kappiliyan
iiamindars of Kombai and Tevaram in the Periyakulam taluk,
are a sejiarate community and do not intermarry with the others.
When a girl attains maturity she is kept for sixteen days in a
temporary hut -^^hich is guarded at night by her relations. This
is afterwards burnt down and the pots she used are broken into very
small pieces, as there is an idea that if rain- water collects in any
of them the girl will be childless. Dujing her subsequent periods
the girl has to live in the special hut which is provided for tJie
purpose. Some of the ceremonies at weddings are unusual. On
the first day a man takes a big pot of water with a smaller empty
pot on top of it and marches three times round tlie open space in
front of the bride's house. With him march the happy couple
carrying a bamboo to which are tied, in a saffron-coloured cloth,
the nine kinds of grain. After the third journey round, these
things are put down at the north-east corner, and the marriage
pandal is made by bringing three more poles of the same size.
Afterwards the wrists of the couple are tied together and the
bridegroom's brother carries the pair a short distance, They
plunge their hands into a bowl of salt. Next the husband takes
an ordinary stone rolling-pin, wraps it in a bit of cloth and gives
it to his wife, saying ' Take the child, I am going to the palace.'
She takes it replying ' Yes, give me the child, the milk is
ready.' This has to be repeated three times in a set formula.
Several other odd rites are observed. Brahmans officiate and the
bridegroom's sister, as usual, ties the tali. Divorce is allowed to
both sides. Adultery within the caste or with the zamindar is
tolerated. The husbands accept as their own any children their


wives may bear to the zamindar. Such children are called CHAP. III.
Chinna Kambalattar and may marry with Tottiyans. But Principal
adultery outside the caste is most rig-orously prohibited and j^s-

sternly punished with excommunication. A mud imag-e of the
girl who so offends is made, two thorns are poked into its eyes and
it is thrown away outside the village.

The Kunnuvans are the principal culti\ ating caste on the Palni TCnnnnvans.
hills. They speak Tamil. Their own traditions say that their
ancestors were Vellalans from the Dharaj'juram and Kangayam
country in Coimbatore who went u]^ the Palnis some four or fiye
centuries ago because the low country was so disturbed by war
(other accounts say devastated by famine), and they call them-
selves Kunnuva Vellalans and state that the name Kunnuva is
derived from Kunnur village in Coimbatore. Other traditions
add that the Virupakshi and Ayakkudi poligars helped them to
settle on their land in the hills, which up to then had only been
cultivated by indolent Pulaiyans The Kunnuvans ousted these
latter and eventually turned them into predial serfs, a position
from which they have liardly yet freed themselves. In every
village is a headman, called the manna cU, who has the usual
powers The caste is divided into three endogamous sections,
called vaguppua ; namelj^, Periya (big) Kunnuvar, Kunnuvar,
and Chinna (little) Kunnuvar. These will eat together. The
dress of the women is characteristic. They w;^ear rough metal
necklets, brass bangles and anklets, silver bangles on their u]iper
arms and rings in their noses ; and they knot their upper cloths
in front across their breasts and bind them round their wai.'sts
with a sort of bandage. White cloths used to be forbidden then?,
but are common eno '^gh nowadays.

The claim of a man to his paternal aunt's daughter is rigidly
maintained, and the evasions of the rule allowed by other castes
when the ages of the parties are disproportionate ai-e not per-
mitted. Consequently a boy sometimes marries more than one
of these cousins of his, and until he reaches manliood those of them
who are much older than he is live with other men of the caste,
the boy being the nominal father of any children which may be
born. A boy of nine or ten may thus be the putative father of a
child of two or three. The marriage ceremonies are the same
as usual, a bride-price being demanded, the bridegroom's si.ster
tying the tali, and the relations being feasted.

When a man has no children except a girl, and his family is
in danger of coming to an end, a curious practice called ' keeping
up the house ' is followed. The girl cannot be claimed by her

104 MADtlBA.

CHAP. III. maternal uncle's son, as usual, but may be ' married ' to one of
Principal the doorposts of the house. A silver bangle is put on her right

.' ' wrist instead of a tali round her neck, she is allowed to consort

with any man of her caste, her earnings go to her parents, she
becomes their heir, and if she has a son the boy inherits their
property through her. The custom is a close parallel to the
system of making girls Basavis which is so common in the
western part of Bellary and the neighbouring parts of Dharwar
and Mysore.

Divorce is readily obtained on the petitioner paying the
amount of the bride-price, but the children all go to the father.
Divorcees and widows may re-marry, and they do so with a fre-
quency which has made the caste a byword among its neigh-
bours. The Kunnuvans worship the usual village deities of the
plains. They generally burn their dead.

Pulaiyans. The Pulaiyans were apparently the earliest inhabitants of the

Palni hills and had things all their own way until the arrival
of the Kunnuvans just referred to. They seem, however, to be
merely Tamils from the low country, and not a separate race.
They speak Tamil and their customs resemble, generally, those
of the people in the plains. The caste has a headman called the
Nattanmaikaran, who is assisted by a Servaikaran and a toti, or
peon, and whose powers and duties are much the same as elsewhere,
'^l.^he community is grouped into three exogamous sub-divisions,
called k/Htams, which are known respectively as Kolankuppan,
Pichi, and Mandiyaman after their supposed original ancestors.
Marriages take place after puberty and are arranged by the
parents. The ceremonies are simple. A bride-price of Bs. 25
is paid and a tali of white beads is tied round the girl's neck.
Divorce can be obtained by either party on payment of a fine
equal to the bride-price, and divorcees and widows may re-marry
any one they choose. Ihe Pulaiyans' favourite deities are
Mayandi (whose shrine is generally on a knoll close to the
village), Karumalaiyan, and a goddess called Puvadai. Festivals
in their honour occur in (.'hittrai, and consist largely in much
dancing by twelve men who have sanctified themselves for the duty
by abstaining from eating beef for the twelve months preceding?.
On the first day they sacrifice a sheep to Mayandi. On the next,
they take a ragi pudding in a pot to the shrine of Karumalaiyan,
dance round it and then distribute it. On the third day they
begin an eight-day feast to Puvadai, at the end of which is more

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