Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume VII of VII

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The amount is distributed then and there. The procedure to be adopted in effecting divorce is as follows. To the left of a burning lamp are placed two small wooden stools. On one of these are laid a small towel with four fanams one rupee tied up in a corner of it, and another towel with a little rice and four fanams tied up in it.

It is the uncle who gives these cloths, because it was he who received the two cloths at the conjee ceremony. A marriage cannot be dissolved unless both parties agree. A girl is under pollution for four days from the commencement of the first menstrual period. During this time she must keep to the north side of the house, where she sleeps on a grass mat of a particular kind, in a room festooned with garlands of young cocoanut leaves. Round the mat is a narrow ridge made of paddy unhusked rice , rice, and flowers of the cocoanut and [ 64 ] areca palms.

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A lamp is kept burning, near which are placed the various articles already described in connection with marriage. Another girl keeps her company and sleeps with her, but she must not touch any other person, tree or plant. She further must not see the sky, and woe betide her if she catches sight of a crow or cat. Her diet must be strictly vegetarian, without salt, tamarinds, or chillies. She is armed against evil spirits with an iron knife carried on her person, or placed on the mat. On the first day, she is seated on a wooden stool in the yard to the east of the house.

The fresh spathe of a cocoanut is cut in front of her. The bunch of blossoms is placed in a copper pot painted with perpendicular lines of chunam lime , and a horizontal line at the top and bottom. The spathe of an areca palm is similarly treated, and, if the contents of both spathes are plentiful, it is regarded as a good augury of fertility. The operation is repeated by two other women, relatives if possible. It is a good omen if the coin falls with the obverse upwards.

Rice is cooked with jaggery, and given to the girl. The other women partake thereof, and then have a feast by themselves. The anointing with oil is the only bath the girl has until the fourth day. On the third day, she is not allowed to eat rice in any form, but she may partake of any other grain in the form of cakes. First of all, the washerman comes along with the washerwoman, carrying two washed cloths. In the front yard of the house a lamp with an odd number of wicks is burning.

As soon as he enters, the washerman, using the straw and coir skilfully, makes a bundle of the contents of the basket, and places it near the lamp, which is standing on a wooden stool. A cocoanut is cut in half, and placed, half on each side, by the stool. Thereon is set a flat bell-metal dish, containing a little rice and seven rolls of betel leaves and areca nuts.

She deposits her burden near the spot where the girl has laid her head. A general feast [ 66 ] then takes place, and the washerman appropriates the fanam, and the paddy and rice spread in the yard. So ends the third day of these strange observances. On the fourth day, the girl bathes in a neighbouring pool, with some ceremonial.

Before she leaves the house, the washerman fixes in the ground a branch of a certain tree, to the top and bottom of which he ties the two ends of a long line of thin coir rope or yarn. He erects a miniature temple-like structure of young cocoanut leaves, with the stems of young plantains near it, by the side of the pool. Close to it, he places a burning lamp, and a small quantity of rice and paddy, each on a separate plantain leaf. Near them he sets a cocoanut, which has been blackened with charcoal, on some rice spread on a plantain leaf, a cocoanut reddened with turmeric and chunam on raw rice, and another on a leaf, containing fried paddy.

Before the girl leaves the house, clad in one of the cloths brought on the previous night, she is well rubbed all over with oil, and the four or six women 23 who accompany her are similarly treated. Leading the way, they are followed by a number of women to the pool, where the girl and her companions bathe. After the bath, they stand by the side of the pool, facing east and holding lighted cotton-wicks in their hands, and go round the miniature temple three times, throwing the wicks into it.

The washerman again breaks out into song, accompanying himself by [ 67 ] striking a bell-metal plate with a stick. He holds aloft the coir string, under the lower end of which a cocoanut has been placed on the ground. The girl passes three times forwards and backwards without touching it. Two cotton wicks, lighted at both ends, are laid on the cocoanut, and the girl should cut the wicks and the cocoanut through, completely severing them, with one blow of a strong knife or chopper.

If she is successful, the omen is considered good. The girl, with her party, then bathes a second time. As she comes out of the water, she kicks out backwards like a mule, and sends the stem with the single cocoanut attached flying into the water with her right foot. Then she is full dressed and ornamented and led back to the house with a silk canopy over her head.

She is taken to the middle room, and cakes and rice are given to her to eat. A feast is then held. The girl has so far been purified as regards most affairs of life, but she cannot touch any cooking-vessel until she has undergone yet another ceremony. This takes place on the seventh or ninth day after the first appearance of the menses.

Every day until then the girl is rubbed with gingelly oil and turmeric. Three ordinary earthenware cooking-pots are piled, one above the other, in the kitchen. The uppermost pot contains cooked rice, the middle one rice boiled with jaggery, and the lowest curry. The pots must be new, and are marked with perpendicular daubs of chunam. Seated on a low wooden stool to the west of the pots, the girl, facing the east, touches each pot with a knife.

They are distributed among all present, and a small meal is partaken of. The young wife has an easy time of it until the fifth month of her pregnancy, when she must again submit to becoming the subject for ceremonial. Then takes place the Belikala, for the purpose of appeasing some of the many malignant spirits, who are unceasing in their attempts to destroy infants in the womb.

This consists for the most part of offerings, which are repeated in the seventh month. At the commencement thereof, there is a feast. A structure, in shape something like a Muhammadan taboot, 24 about five feet in height, is erected in the front yard of the house.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India Volume VII

It is made of stems of young plantain trees, and festooned with leaves of young cocoanut palms. The floor of the little edifice, and the ground outside it to the west, are strewn with charcoal made from paddy husk, on which are made magic squares of white rice flour, intermingled with red, green, and yellow, each colour being compounded with specified substances. The squares are not always the same, but are prepared for each occasion, so as to suit [ 69 ] the particular spirit which is to be invoked and appeased.

The pregnant woman, with six female companions, leaves the middle room of the house, carrying the usual lamp and other articles, and they walk seven times round the edifice. Before completing the last round, each throws into it a burning wick. They then stand to the west of it, facing east, and sit down. Drums must not be used. The music and weird devil-dancing go on more or less all night, and by morning some of the most nervous of the women, overcome by the spirit, go into fits.

If she should have a fit, the head of the cock is cut off, and the blood offered to the demon spirit. If, however, she does not suffer from undue excitement, the cock is simply removed alive. They vary from five to thirty-two rupees, according to the cost of the edifice which is erected, and the quality of the dancing. The invocation of some of the devils requires specially trained dancers who must be paid high fees.

The fees in connection with this are debited to the husband. Taking advantage of an auspicious moment, the husband and two companions bathe in the early morning, and make a neat toilette, the husband wearing a necklace. They then go to the [ 70 ] nearest tamarind, and pluck three small leafy twigs, which they bring to the house. Rice conjee is then prepared with water, in which the tamarind juice has been mixed.

The husband, and his two companions, sit under the pandal, where the usual lamp and other articles have been placed, with the wife behind him. Her brother then feeds him thrice with the conjee from a small gold spoon. One of the three twigs is planted by the husband in the front yard, and his wife waters it every day until the child is born. The woman who brings this little gift should be given some cakes and sweetmeats.

During pregnancy, a woman always wears an amulet concealed within a cylindrical tube on her neck, to protect her against malignant spirits. When the child is born, the brother of the newly made mother goes out into the yard, and strikes the ground three times with the stem of a dry cocoanut palm leaf. If the child is a boy, he emits a long drawn out ku-u-u-u in high falsetto as he does so.

It is then the duty of the brother and the midwife to go and inform the father of the event. The midwife receives from him her fee, and a present of a cloth, and other presents from his sisters. If the child is a boy, the brother receives a cloth, and, if a girl, a cloth and a bell-metal plate. The event of the birth of a child carries with it, as in the case of death, pollution to every one in the house. This is partially removed by ceremonies on the third day, and wholly by further ceremonies on the ninth or eleventh day, whichever happens to be the more auspicious—a Tuesday for example.

Edgar Thurston

Any one coming to the house before the first ceremonies have taken place must bathe and wash his or her cloth to remove the pollution. Any one visiting the house after the first, but before the second ceremony, need not bathe, but cannot eat any food in the house. The men of the household can get no rice at home until after the second ceremony has been performed, and they are consequently compelled to board elsewhere for the time being. A washerwoman carries out the purification rites, assisted by a barber woman.

First of all, the floors of all the rooms are smeared with cow-dung. All clothes in use are given to the washerwoman. When the milk is about to be sprinkled, the usual lamp, rice on a metal plate, and kindi of water are produced. The barber woman takes the rice and one fanam, and receives also some cocoanut and gingelly Sesamum oil. Much the same things are given to the washerwoman.

The second ceremony is just like the first, but, even after its completion, the women of the house cannot touch any cooking-vessels until after the fifteenth day. The ceremony of touching the cooking pots, as at the time of the first menstrual period, is then performed. These three purificatory ceremonies must be performed after every birth. This event, which has all the solemnity of a regular function, takes place in the middle room, where the lamp, mat and other articles have been arranged. The eldest son is always named after the paternal grandfather, and the second after the father.

In like manner, the eldest girl is named after its own mother. Relations and friends take this opportunity to make presents of bracelets and other articles to the infant. It is then, before the sixth month is over, given boiled rice for the first time. With a gold ring he applies honey three times to its mouth, and then gives it a little rice three times. Female relations who are present follow his example, giving the child first honey, and then rice.

Several women, with the lighted lamp and other articles, carry the child into the yard, to show it the sky. They go round a cocoanut tree, and [ 73 ] stand before the front door, facing west. An elder among the women of the house stands at the front door, calls out the name of the child three times, and asks it to come inside. The relations give little presents of ornaments, and there is a feast.

When it has grown up, it undergoes more of it, and, when it has lived its course on earth, is the subject of still more ceremonial long after it is dead. All these affairs involve some expenditure, but the one which literally runs away with money is marriage. The others are not extravagances, nor are they as costly as might be implied from the continual feasting of a large number of people. We must not think of these feasts as of a banquet at the Carlton, but as simple affairs, at which simple people are content with simple though pleasing fare. When a child is provided by nature with teeth, it is the subject of a little ceremony, during which it is expected to disclose its natural propensities.

The usual mat and other articles are arranged, and there are in addition a large flat bell-metal plate containing a rice cake, a knife, a palmyra leaf grantham book , a cocoanut, and a gold ornament. The child is let loose, and allowed to pick out anything from the plate. If it takes the cake, it will be greedy; if the knife, brave; if the book, learned; if the cocoanut, a landlord; and, if the gold ornament, rich. The barber, who performs the operation, is allowed to take away the rice which, with the lamp, is at hand.

He also receives a fanam and a new cloth. The fore-finger, which is the one used in offering water to the souls of the dead and in other parts of the death ceremonies, must not be used for tracing the letters, but is placed above the middle finger, merely to steady it. For the same reason, a doctor, when making up a pill, will not use the fore-finger.

When, later on, the child goes to the village school, the fifty-one letters are written one by one on its tongue with a gold style, if one is available. As each letter is formed, the child has to repeat the sound of it. The helix of the ear is not bored for the purpose of inserting ornaments in it, but is sometimes bored as a remedy for disease, e. Everywhere else in Southern India, it is common for people of almost every class to have the helix of the left ear bored. It is not the one which is worn in every day life, but the one which is used in the ceremony about to be described. In Malabar, and the Native States of Cochin and Travancore, it is a symbol of marriage, with which a girl is ceremoniously adorned, as a rule before she is affianced.

On the first day, a shed or pandal is erected in the front yard. This inner pandal is tastefully decorated with pictures and flowers. It is important to note that this little pandal must not be begun until the first day of the ceremony. On this day, the carpenter of the tara brings a low wooden seat, rather long and narrow, made from the pala tree Alstonia scholaris , which must be cut at an auspicious moment, for which he receives one fanam.

This seat is called mana. A lamp, vessel of water, and the usual paraphernalia are arranged on the ground to the south close by. In front of her, a lamp, and other things which are a feature in all ceremonials, and a measure of paddy are placed on the ground, a gold fanam is put on her head, and over it gingelly oil is poured. As the coin falls from the forehead, it is caught in a cup. It is important which side falls uppermost. The girl is then taken to a pool for bathing, and returns to the pandal.

She is conducted to the middle room of the house in procession, with a silk canopy over her head and women carrying lamps, etc. She is confined in this room, which is decorated in the manner described when speaking of the menstruation ceremony, until the third day. She sleeps on a mat, surrounded by a little ridge of rice and paddy, cocoanut and areca palm flowers, and near her head is a copper pot marked with vertical daubs of white. This the girl keeps constantly at her side, and carries in her hand when compelled by nature to leave the room.

While confined in the room, she is not allowed to eat fish, flesh, or salt, or see any animals, especially a cat, dog, or crow. The paddy and rice, which, with the lamp and vessel of water, have been in evidence during the operations, are given to the goldsmith, with a fanam for his labour. One is worn by the girl, and the mana is covered with the other. The girl is taken to bathe, and, after the bath, is richly dressed and ornamented, and brought in procession, with a canopy over her head, to the house, where she is conducted to the inner room.

The mana is then placed, with the cloth near it, on a grass mat in the inner pandal. The thread which is used for the purpose is drawn from the cloth with which the mana has been covered. Every one joins in, and the song ends with shouts and hurrahs. A mock feeding ceremony is then carried out.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Vol. 2 of 7 by Edgar Thurston - Free Ebook

Three plantain leaves are spread in front of the girl in the pandal, and rice, plantains, and pappadams are spread thereon. The description which has just been given is that of the ceremony which is performed, if the girl has not been affianced. This is the orthodox procedure. The girl wears a cloth provided by the washerwoman. She is taken from the middle room of the house to the yard, and there seated on a plank of pala wood. Placed in front of her are a small measure of rice and paddy, a washed white cloth, and a small bell-metal vessel kindi on a bell-metal plate.

The barber pours cocoanut water on her head, on which a silver and copper coin have been placed. One of her relations then pours water from a vessel containing some raw rice over her head, [ 78 ] using two halves of a cocoanut as a spout. The girl is then taken back to the middle room, where she remains for three days. There is a feast in the evening. On the fourth day, a pandal is erected in the front yard, and decorated.

The girl is taken to bathe at a neighbouring pool, preceded by women carrying a lamp, a kindi of water, and other things which have been already described. After bathing, she cuts a cocoanut in half, and returns in procession, with a silk canopy over her head, amid music and singing, and enters the middle room of the house.

The barber woman ties a gold ornament netti pattam on her forehead, which she marks with sandal paste, and blackens her eyes with eye-salve. She walks three times round the pandal, and places the mana on a grass mat, over which has been spread some paddy and some rice where the girl will put her foot.

The women who have carried the lamp, etc. She walks thrice round it, and takes her seat on the mana. This post should be of pala wood, or have a twig of that tree tied to it. More rice is handed to the girl, and she throws it to the cardinal points of the compass, to the earth, and to the sky. A small earthen pot containing rice, a cocoanut, betel, and areca nuts, is placed near the girl. Into this a variety of articles, each tied up separately in a piece of plantain leaf, are placed. These consist of a [ 79 ] gold coin, a silver coin, salt, rice, paddy, turmeric, charcoal, and pieces of an old cadjan leaf from the thatch of the house.

The mouth of the pot is then covered over with a plantain leaf tied with string. The girl sprinkles rice three times over the pot, makes a hole in the leaf, and picks out one of the articles, which is examined as an augur of her destiny. Betel leaves and areca nuts are then passed twice round her head, and thrown away. She next twists off a cocoanut from a bunch hanging at a corner of the pandal. Then follows the presentation of cloths called mantra-kodi. These must be new, and of a particular kind.

Half of them perhaps ten or twelve go to the barber, who, at this point, pours cocoanut water from the leaf of a banyan tree on her head, on which a silver and copper coin have been placed. Three times the water is flung upwards, and then to the east, west, south, and north. A cotton wick, steeped in oil, is then twisted round a piece of bamboo, and stuck on a young cocoanut. The girl is asked if she sees the sun, looks at the lighted wick, and says that she does. She is then taken to a cocoanut tree, preceded by the lamp, etc. She walks three times round the tree, and pours water over the root.

The ceremony is now concluded, and the girl is marched back to the middle room. It is always done by the intended husband, or some one representing him. On the sixth day, the girl is formally installed in the middle room of the house. A lamp is lighted in the booth, which is at this time partly, but not entirely, made ready. The other women do the same. The girl is then taken to a pool, and bathed. Before her return, the mana should be placed ready for her in the middle room of the house.

In the evening there is a feast. A lamp, looking-glass, and other things are put in it. A grass mat is spread on the floor, and a kambli blanket and a whitewashed cloth are placed over it. On either side of it is placed a pillow. The bridegroom and his party wait in an adjoining house, for they must not appear on the scene until the psychological moment arrives. She sits on the mana, which has been brought, and placed on the cloth, by her uncle. The girl is still a child, and he is only a few years her senior. His uncle puts him down on the right side of the girl, after walking thrice round the booth.

The boy and girl sing out a chorus in praise of Ganapathi, and end up with three loud shouts and hurrahs. Then the boy seats himself on the ground, outside the pillow. The girl is taken inside the house, and, after a general feast, is brought back, and seated on the mana, and rice and flowers are sprinkled.

The boy bridegroom pays eight annas to his sister for leading the bride by the hand. When the marriage has been done by proxy, the boy bridegroom is selected from a tarwad into which the girl might marry. A formal divorce is effected, and the boy is taken away. It will not be worth while to attempt a description of the marriage ceremony of the Tiyans of North Malabar, because there is none, or next to none. Either [ 82 ] party may annul the marital union at will, without awarding any compensation; and, as its infraction is easy and simple, so is its institution.

Nor is there any rigid inquiry as to the antecedents of either party. It is an affair of mutual arrangement, attended with little formality. In parts of North Malabar, the Tiyan women wear an ornament called chittu ring in a hole bored in the top of the helix of each ear.

The holes are bored in childhood, but the chittu is not worn until the girl forms a marital union with a man. They are never removed during life, except in cases of dire distress. It is supposed that, in olden days, the marriage ceremonies lasted over seven days, and were subsequently reduced to seven meals, or three and a half days, and then to one day.

In connection with fanams it may be noted that the old gold fanam is reckoned as worth four annas, whereas five silver or velli fanams make a rupee. Everywhere [ 83 ] in rural Malabar, calculations are made in terms of velli fanams thus:—. Bazaar men, and those who sell their small stock at the weekly markets all about the country, arrange their prices in vellis.

When the death of a Tiyan is expected, all the relations draw near, and await the fateful moment. The person who is about to die is laid on the floor of the middle room, for it is inauspicious to die on a cot. We will suppose that the dying man is a parent and a landlord. Each of the sons and daughters gives him a little conjee water, just before he passes away. At the moment of death, all the women bawl out in lamentations, giving the alarm of death. The Cheruman serfs in the fields join in the chorus, and yell out an unintelligible formula of their own.

Absent relations are all formally invited. One half of the husks of the cocoanuts is removed, and the other half left on the shell. When life is extinct, the body is placed with the head to the south, and the thumbs and big toes are tied together. It is then taken out into the yard, washed, bathed in oil, dressed in a new cloth, and brought back to the middle room.

A cocoanut is cut in two, and the two halves, with a lighted wick on each, are placed at the head and foot. The house-owner spreads a cotton cloth over the corpse, and all the relations, and friends, do the same. Any one who wishes to place a silk cloth on the corpse may [ 84 ] do so, but he must cover it with a cotton cloth. The body is then removed for burial or cremation, and placed near the grave or funeral pyre. It is the rural rule that elderly persons and karnavans of tarwads are cremated, and others buried. The barber, whose function it is to perform the purificatory rites, now removes, and retains as his perquisite, all the cloths, except the last three covering the corpse.

As it is being borne away to the place of burial or cremation, water mixed with cow-dung is sprinkled behind it in the yard. The eldest son, who succeeds to the property and is responsible for the funeral ceremonies, then tears crosswise a piece of the cloth which has been placed over the corpse by the people of the house, and ties it round his forehead. He holds one end of the cloth while the barber holds the other, and tears off the piece. The barber then cuts three holes in the remainder of this cloth covering the body, over the mouth, navel, and pubes.

A little water and rice are poured over a gold fanam through the slit over the mouth. All who observe the death pollution, i. The barber then breaks a pot of water over the grave. No other ceremonial is observed on this day, on which, and during the night, rice must not be eaten.

Early on the second day, all who are under pollution are shaved. The operation is attended with some ceremonial, and, before it is commenced, a lighted lamp, a measure of rice and paddy on a plantain leaf must be at hand. The paddy and rice are a perquisite of the barber. Those who have been shaved [ 85 ] bathe, and then follows the crow-feeding ceremony.

Rice is boiled in a bell-metal vessel over a hearth prepared with three young cocoanuts. The eldest son, who tore the cloth of succession from the corpse, makes the rice into two little balls, places them on a plantain leaf, and offers them to the spirit of the departed by pouring libations of water on them over a blade of karuka grass.

Men and women who are under pollution then do the same. The rice balls are eaten by crows. This little ceremony is performed daily until the eleventh or thirteenth day, when the period of death pollution comes to an end. If the eleventh day happens to fall on a Tuesday or Friday, or on any inauspicious day, the period is extended to the thirteenth day. When the period of death pollution is partly in one month, and partly in another, another death in the house within the year is expected.

Preceding the sanchayanam, which occupies the fifth day, there is the lamp-watching on the previous night. In the south-east corner of the middle room, a little paddy is heaped up, and on it is placed a bell-metal plate with an iron lamp having five or seven lighted wicks on it. Under the lamp is a little cow-dung, and close to it is a bunch of cocoanut flowers. The lamp must be kept burning until it is extinguished on the following day. In the case of the death of a male, his niece watches the lamp, and in that of a female her daughter, lying near it on a grass mat.

The sanchayanam is the first stage in the removal of death pollution, and, until it is over, all who come to the house suffer from pollution, and cannot enter their own house or partake of any food without bathing previously. When the body has been cremated, the fragments of calcined bones are collected from the ashes, and carried in procession to the sea, or, if this is far away, into a river.

The crow-feeding ceremony follows, and, when this is over, the three cocoanuts which were used as a hearth are thrown away. A large bell-metal vessel filled with water is now placed in the front yard before the door of the house. The barber carries the still burning lamp from the middle room, and sets it on the ground near the pot of water. The women who are under pollution come from the middle room, each carrying a lighted wick, walk thrice round the pot, and throw the wicks into the water. The woman who has watched the lamp puts four annas into the pot, and the others deposit a few pies therein.

The eldest son now lights a wick from the iron lamp which is about to be extinguished, and with it lights a lamp in the middle room. The barber then dips the iron lamp in the water, and picks out the money as his perquisite. The water is poured on the roots of a cocoanut tree.

The bell-metal vessel becomes the property of the woman who watched the lamp, but she cannot take it away until she leaves the house after the pula-kuli ceremony. When the lamp has been extinguished, a woman, hired for the occasion, is seated on a cocoanut leaf in the front yard. She rises, and leaves the place without turning back, taking the pollution with her.

Betel is then distributed. Those who provided the death gifts on the day of the death must on this day bring with them a bag of rice, and about four rupees in money. They have also to give eight annas to the barber. A folded handkerchief is first [ 87 ] presented to the barber, who formally returns it, and receives instead of it the eight annas. Before the people disperse, the day of the pula-kuli is settled. Pula-kuli, or washing away the pollution, is the final ceremony for putting off the unpleasant consequences of a death in a family.

They then bathe. The barber outlines the figure of a man or woman, according to the sex of the deceased, with rice flour and turmeric powder, the head to the south, in the middle room of the house. The figure is covered with two plantain leaves, on each of which a little rice and paddy are heaped. Over all is spread a new cloth, with a basket containing three measures of paddy upon it. He repeats the performance, using the fingers of the left hand closed so as to form a cup as a measure.

Then, closing the first and fourth fingers firmly with the thumb, using the left hand, he measures some paddy in the same manner with the two extended fingers. Rice is treated in the same way. The wick is extinguished by sprinkling it with water three times. On the top of it a cocoanut is placed.

In the four corners a piece of charcoal, a little salt, a few chillies, and a gold fanam are tied. The eldest son, who is always the [ 88 ] protagonist in all the ceremonies after death, lifts the cloth with all its contents, places it on his head, and touches with it his forehead, ears, each side and loins, knees and toes. He does this three times. The plantain leaves are then removed from the figure.

A little turmeric powder is taken from the outline, and rubbed on the forehead of the eldest son. He then bows thrice to the figure, crossing his legs and arms so that the right hand holds the left ear, and the left the right ear, and touches the ground with the elbow-joints. It is no joke to do this. All this time, the eldest son wears round his forehead the strip torn from the cloth which covered the corpse. There is nothing more to be done in the middle room for the present, and the eldest son goes out into the yard, and cooks the rice for the final feed to the crows.

Having cooked the rice, the eldest son brings it into the middle room, and mixes it with some unrefined sugar, plantains and pappadams, making two balls, one large and one small. Each of these he places on a plantain leaf. The balls are given to the crows in the yard, or, in some cases, taken to the sea or a river, and cast into the water. When this course is adopted, various articles must be kept ready ere the return of the party. These comprise a new pot containing water, a branch of areca blossoms, mango leaves, a kindi containing a gold fanam or gold ring, a little salt and rice, each tied up in a piece of cloth, and a few chillies.

The mouth of the pot is covered with a plantain leaf, and secured. There are also two stools, made of pala and mango wood. The eldest son sits on one of these, and places [ 89 ] his feet on the other, so that he does not touch the ground. The water in the pot is sprinkled with mango leaves by the barber to the north, south, east and west, and on the head of the son.

The remainder of the water is then poured over his head. The barber then sprinkles him with cocoanut water, this time using areca blossoms, and makes him sip a little thereof. The barber makes a hole in the plantain leaf, and picks out the contents. The eldest son bathes, and after the bath there is a presentation of gifts. The barber, sitting in the verandah beside the son, first gives to each person under pollution a little salt and raw rice, which they eat. He then gives them a little betel leaf and a small piece of areca nut, and receives in return a quarter of an anna.

The eldest son chews the betel which he has received, and spits into a spittoon held by the barber, whose property it becomes. Then to the barber, who has been presented with a new mat to sit on and new cloth to wear before he seats himself in the verandah, are given an ear-ring such as is worn by Tiyan women, a silk cloth, a white cotton cloth, and a few annas.

If the deceased has been cremated he is given six fanams, and, if buried, five fanams as the fee for his priestly offices. On an occasion of this kind, several barbers, male and female, turn up in the hope of receiving presents. All who help during the various stages of the ceremonial are treated in much the same way, but the senior barber alone receives the officiating fee.

It is odd that the barbers of the four surrounding villages are entitled to receive gifts of new cloths and money. Those under death pollution are forbidden to eat fish or flesh, chew betel, or partake of jaggery. The restriction is removed on the pula-kuli day. The last act for their removal is as follows. The barber is [ 90 ] required to eat some jaggery, and drink some conjee.

The pula-kuli is then over. On each of these days, mantrams are supposed to be repeated a thousand times. When the image has been the object of these mantrams sixteen thousand times, it is supposed to have become eligible for final deposit in a temple. It is this image which rests in the temple at Tirunavayi, or elsewhere. On the night of this day, some sweetmeats or cakes, such as the deceased was fond of during life, are offered to the spirit.

A lamp is placed on a stool, and lighted in the middle room of the house, with a kindi of water and a young cocoanut near it. The cakes or sweetmeats [ 91 ] are placed in front of the stool. Children sprinkle rice over it, and the door is shut for a quarter of an hour. The individual who feeds the crows should partake of only one meal, without fish or flesh, on the previous day. Another ceremony, which is necessary for the repose of the dead, is called badha-velichatu-variethal, or bringing out the spirit.

It cannot be performed until at least a year after death, for during that period the spirit is in a sort of purgatory. After that, it may be invoked, and it will answer questions. The ceremony resembles the nelikala pregnancy ceremony. Some little girls are seated in front of a booth in the yard. The celebrant of the rite sings, invoking the spirit of the deceased. Late at night, one of the girls becomes possessed by the spirit, and, it is said, talks and acts just like the deceased, calling the children, relations and friends by name, talking of the past, and giving commands for the future conduct of the living members of the family.

After this, the spirit is severed from earthly trammels, and attains heavenly bliss. The wood used for the purpose of cremation is that of a mango tree, which must be cut down after the death. A little sandalwood and cuscus grass roots are sometimes added to the pyre. In these days, when the important and interesting features of ceremonial are fast disappearing, it is not surprising that dried cakes of cow-dung are superseding the mango wood. Vastu Purusha is the name of the supreme being which, lying on its back with its head to the north-east and legs to the south-west, supports the earth.

Or rather the earth is but a small portion of this [ 92 ] vast body. Forests are its tiny hairs, oceans its blood-vessels, and the wind its breath. In this body are fifty-three deities, who are liable to disturbance when the surface of the earth is dug, when trees are felled, foundations laid, and a house built. These angry beings must be propitiated, or there will be untimely deaths, poverty, and sickness among the inmates.

The ceremony is performed in the following manner. A square with fifty-three columns is made with rice flour in the middle room of the house, and each column is filled with yellow, red, and black powder. A plantain leaf is placed over it, and a few measures of paddy are set on the top of the leaf. On this is placed another leaf, with various kinds of grain, plantains, cocoanuts, and jaggery on it. Then all the workmen—carpenters, masons, and coolies—walk thrice round the house, breaking cocoanuts on the walls and doors, and howling in order to drive away all evil spirits which may by chance be lurking about the place.

This is the formal handing over of the house by the carpenter. He hands it over to a third person, and never directly to the owner. It is not always easy to find a third person who is willing to undertake the responsibility, and who is at the same time suitable for the Gulikan who is dispossessed of the house, and pursues him henceforth, following him who first receives charge of the house. He should be a man who brings luck, cheerful and contented, having a [ 93 ] family, and not labouring under any disorder or sickness of body.

The third person is generally a poor man, who is bribed with presents of cloths, money and rice, to undertake the job. He wears one of the new cloths during the ceremony. Pieces of the thatch are tied to the four corners of his cloth. He shuts the door, opens it, and shuts it again. The carpenter calls from without, asking him whether he has taken charge of the house.

If they have, I take charge of the house. Have you taken charge of the house? Answer me straight. Have you, or have you not taken charge of the house? Taking in his hands the plantain leaves on which he stood, he runs away as fast as he can without looking back. This he must not do on any account. The people pelt him with plantains, and hoot at him as he runs, and water mingled with cow-dung is sprinkled in his path. In the pre-British days, a few of the well-to-do families of Tiyans lived in houses of the kind called nalapura four houses , having an open quadrangle in the centre.

Nowadays, the kala pura usually consists of two rooms, east and west. Toddy-drawing, and every thing connected with the manufacture and sale of arrack country liquor and unrefined sugar, form the orthodox occupation of the Tiyan. But members of the community are to be found in all classes of society, and in practically all professions and walks of life. It is interesting to find that the head of a Tiyan family in North Malabar bears the title Cherayi Panikar, conferred on the family in the old days by a former Zamorin.

A title of this kind was given only to one specially proficient in arms. Even in those days there were Tiyan physicians, bone-setters, astrologers, diviners, and sorcerers. It is easy to identify the toddy-tapper by the indurated skin of the palms, fingers, inner side of the forearms, and the instep. The business of toddy-tapping involves expert climbing, while carrying a considerable paraphernalia, with no adventitious aid other than can be got out of a soft grummet of coir to keep the feet near together, while the hands, with the arms extended, grasp the palm tree.

The profession is rarely adopted before the age of eighteen, but I have seen a man who said he began when he was twelve years old. It is very hard work. A tapper can work about fifteen trees, each of which he has to climb three times a day. In the northern districts of the Madras Presidency, among the Telugu population, the toddy-drawers use a ladder about eight or nine feet in length, which is placed against the tree, [ 95 ] to avoid climbing a third or a fourth of it. While in the act of climbing up or down, they make use of a wide band, which is passed round the body at the small of the back, and round the tree.

This band is easily fastened with a toggle and eye. The back is protected by a piece of thick soft leather. It gives great assistance in climbing, which it makes easy. They climb up and down with their hands and arms, using only the grummet on the feet. A vessel holding a couple of gallons, made out of the spathe of the areca palm, is used for bringing down the toddy. Tucked into the waist-belt is a bone loaded with lead at either end, which is used for tapping the palm to bring out the juice.

The garb of the tapper at work consists of a short cloth round the loins, and always during the rains, and often at other times a head-covering somewhat pointed in shape, made of the leaves of the cocoanut palm placed together as in a clinker-built boat, or of a rounded shape, made out of the spathe of the areca palm.

The toddy-tapper should go through the show of reverence by touching the cocoanut tree with the right hand, and then applying his hand to the forehead, every time he prepares to climb a tree. In connection with toddy-drawing, the following note occurs in the Gazetteer of Malabar. Sometimes the shopkeeper pays both rent and tax, and the tapper is his servant paid by the bottle. The trees are rented half yearly, and the rent varies between Re. They are fit for tapping as soon as they come into bearing, but four years later and in the succeeding decade are most productive.

They are seldom tapped for more than six months in the year, and the process, though it shortens the life of the tree, improves the yield of nuts in the rest of the year. A knife in a wooden case, a bone weighted with lead the leg bone of a sambhur for choice , a few pots, and two small rings of rope with which to climb complete the tale. Operations begin when the spathe is still enclosed by its sheath. Once a day the spathe is gently bruised on either side with the bone, and on the third and following days a thin slice is cut off the end twice a day.

On the fifteenth day drawing begins, and the bruising ceases. Sheath and spathe are swathed for the greater part of their length in a thick covering of leaves or fibre; the ends are still cut off twice or three times a day, but, after each operation, are smeared with a paste made of leaves and water with the object, it is said, of keeping the sap from oozing through the wound and rotting the spathe. Round the space between the end of the sheath and the [ 97 ] thick covering of leaves a single leaf is bound, and through this the sap bleeds into a pot fastened below.

The pot is emptied once a day in the morning. The yield of sap varies with the quality of the tree and the season of the year. In the hot months the trees give on an average about a bottle a day, in the monsoon and succeeding months as much as three bottles. A bottle of toddy sells for three or four pies.

The colour of the yarn, and thereby the quality, depends very much on the water in which the husks are steeped. It should be running water, and, if possible, fresh water. If the water be salt, the yarn may at first be almost white, but in a damp climate it soon becomes discoloured and blotchy. It is dried in the sun for twelve hours, and is then ready for sale to native merchants at Calicut and Cochin, who in their turn deal with the European firms.

The fibre is twisted into yarn by Tiyattis and other women, and in that form the greater part of the coir made in Malabar is exported from Cochin to all parts of the world, but chiefly to the United Kingdom and Germany. Throughout the year, wherever one goes, one hears the noise of the women hammering out the fibre, and sees them taking, in the evening, that part of it which they have rolled into yarn to the nearest little wayside shop, to be exchanged for salt, chillies, paddy, etc. But, in the north of the district, nothing of the kind goes on, and the coir is commonly used as fuel.

All sons share alike. Daughters have no share. The practice of polyandry, which still exists in Malabar among the Tiyans and other classes , and which was probably once general, tends to prevent dispersion of the family property. Although theoretically all sons share the property of their father, it is the eldest son who succeeds to possession and management of the tarwad property.

The others are entitled to maintenance only, so long as they remain in the same tarwad house. It is the same among the Izhuvans. Beef, as in the case of all Hindus, is forbidden as an article of diet. The staple food is rice with fish curry. The common beverage is conjee, but this is being supplanted by tea, coffee, lemonade, and soda-water. A loin-cloth, which should not reach to the knees, with a Madras handkerchief on the shoulders, is the orthodox dress of the males, and a double loin-cloth that of females. Women were not allowed to wear anything above the waist, except when under death pollution.

Any colour might be worn, but white and blue are most common. Twenty or thirty, with a pendant in the middle, might be worn. Gold or silver bracelets could be worn. Hollow silver bracelets were worn by girls until the birth of their first child. Their mode of tying the hair, and even their dress, which is inclined to follow the fashion of the Christians, has changed. A fee of anything up to fanams Rs. When there is a problem of any special difficulty, it is referred to her for decision.

It is noted by General E. Once upon a time there were seven heavenly damsels, who used to bathe every day before dawn in a lake situated in a forest. Siva found this out, and appeared as a fire on the bank, at which the girls warmed themselves. Having thus lured them, the God made all of them mothers. Seven beautiful boys were born, and Siva presented them to Parvati, who treated them as if they were her own sons.

Daily they brought the toddy at the moment when it was required for the golden pot. Parvati embraced the boys all at once, and they became one. As he rested on a river bank thinking about it, he drank a little, and filled the vessel up with water. The boy explained that it was not a heinous crime to cut off the head of one who had prevented the Sakti worship.

The request pleased the God, who forgave him. The boy had to remain out of caste, but was initiated into the mysteries of Sakti worship as the surest means of salvation, and to him was given the exclusive privilege of performing Sakti worship with liquor. He was the first Tiyan. In the ceremonies which have been described, notably in those connected with marriage and death, we have seen the expression of many Hindu ideas. Not so is all that relates to offerings to the dead. That is the common property of all the children of men.

A main feature in the religion of the Tiyan is that it is largely connected with Sakti worship. Sakti is, perhaps, more properly the vital energy, and Sakti worship the worship of the life principle in nature.

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It is not therefore at all an easy task to represent in words anything like a rational conception of what the religion of the Tiyan really is. The poor and ignorant follow, in a blind ignorant way, Hinduism as they know it and feel it. Their Hinduism is very largely imbued with the lower cult, which, with a tinge of Hinduism, varied in extent here and there, is really the religion of the people at large all over Southern India.

The Tiyans have a large share of it. To the actions of evil and other spirits are attributable most, if not all of the ills and joys of life. The higher Hinduism is far above them. Nevertheless, we find among them the worship of the obscure and mysterious Sakti, which, unfortunately, is practiced in secret. Nobody seems to be in the least proud of having anything to do with it.

In fact, they are rather ashamed to say anything about it. Those who, so to speak, go in for it are obliged to undergo preliminary purificatory ceremonies, before the great mystery can be communicated to them. It is believed that each individual is a spark of the divinity.

Having in him the potentiality of the Supreme Being, he can develop, and attain godhood. There is no distinction of caste in Sakti worship. Men and women participate in the secret rites. A solemn oath is taken that the mystery of Sakti will not be revealed, except with the permission of the guru, or on the death-bed. The spirit of the goddess for Sakti is thought of as the female principle must be withdrawn from the body of the Sakti worshipper when he is at the point of death.

A lamp is lighted beside him. A few leaves of the tulsi plant Ocimum sanctum , a little rice, and a lighted wick are given to the dying man. Holding these things, he makes three passes over his body from head to foot, and, as it were, transfers the spirit to the next man, at the same time communicating his wishes about continuing the worship, and so on. It must be done somehow, or the soul of the deceased cannot attain salvation.

It is said that, like many other things in this land, Sakti worship has undergone degeneration, that such lofty ideas and feelings as may have once pervaded it have more or less disappeared, and that the residue is not very edifying. Be this as it may, in every tara there is a Bhagavati temple for Tiyans, where Tiyans officiate as priests. The Komaram oracle of the Bhagavati temple is clothed in red, and embellished with red sandal paste mixed with turmeric. Bhagavati is always associated with various jungle spirits or gods, whose Komarams always wear black.

There is no daily worship in Tiyan temples, with the exception of a few in the neighbourhood of Cannanore. Lamps are lighted, and worship is begun on this day, and continued for forty days. At its conclusion, the jungle gods retire to the jungle until the next year. A death in the family of a Komaram involves, I believe, some postponement of the rites. The period is supposed to be first part of the functional activity of the earth, which ends somewhere about the 21st of June.

It is during this period that Sakti worship is carried on. The temple of Subramania at Palni in the Madura district is a favourite objective for Tiyan pilgrims. Everyone under a vow, proceeding to the festival, which takes place in February or March, carries with him a cock, which is beheaded at the shrine.

Rent for the temple lands was set at a nominal figure—a mere pepper-corn rent as acknowledgment of sovereign right. Rent might not be paid in times of trouble, but the gifts eked out of superstition were unfailing. It is not surprising, therefore, that learning and advancement among the inferior castes did not receive much encouragement from the rulers of those days. The highest merit in Sakti can be reached only through arrack.

The Sakti goddess, Bhagavati, the Tiyans look upon as their own guardian spirit. Vows to the well-known mosque at Mambram are made by people of almost every caste. The offerings are made in order to prevent accidents from snakes. The snake god will also give children to the family, and promote domestic prosperity.

Men without offspring worship him. Leprosy and the death of a child are believed to be the consequence of killing a snake. The alms are collected ostensibly for this mosque. The fifth class is unknown. The replies to these questions were not, I am bound to admit, always entirely satisfactory, as they broke down both in accuracy and detail.

I may, as an illustration, cite the following description of making fire by friction. They take a triangular cut of stone, and one flat oblong size flat. They hit one another with the maintenance of cocoanut fibre or copper, then fire sets immediately, and also by rubbing the two barks frequently with each other they make fire.

Yazar: Edgar Thurston.



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