Survey of Castes

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Article Sub-Category: THE PEOPLE

Title: Survey of Castes
 
In the absence of any satisfactory scientific classification of castes, a rough and ready provisional arrangement is adopted, based mainly on the primary formative principle of the several castes concerned. Castes are grouped as (1) Agricultural, (2) Pastoral, (3) Fisherman, (4) Hunters, (5) Traders, (6) Industrial, (7) Labourers, (8) Menials, (9) Military, (10) Sectarian, (11) Mendicants, (12) Miscellaneous castes which cannot conveniently be brought under other heads, and (13) Panchamas.


(1) Agricultural castes

    
    The backbone of the population is of course the great agricultural caste groups of pallis, Vellalars and kapus or Reddis.  Dykes' remarks on these three great divisions are worth quoting.

    "The vellars is frugal and saving to the extreme; his hard working wife knows no finery, and the Vellalichi willingly wears for the whole year the one blue cloth which is all that the domestic economy of the house allows her. If she gets wet, it must dry on her; and if she would wash her sole garment, half is unwrapped to be operated upon, which in its turn relieves the other half, that is then and there similarly hammered against some stone by the side of the village tank or on the banks of the neighbouring stream.  Their food is the cheapest of the 'dry' grains which they happen to cultivate that year; and not even the village feasts can draw the money out of a Vellalar's clutches: it is all expended on his land, if the policy of the revenue administration of the country be liberal, and the acts of Government such as to give confidence to the ryots or husbandman; otherwise their hoarded grains are buried.  The new moon or some high holiday may perhaps see the head of the house enjoy a platter of rice and a little meat, but such extravagance is rare.

    "The pallis and pallars are the very reverse; they have no heed for the morrow, but spend their money as fast as they get it.  Their women wear the gayest-coloured cloths to be found in the bazaar;ornaments are eagerly sought for; and their diet is the best rice they can afford, with meat so often as it is to be had or can be eaten by the Hindu without injury to his health.

    "The Reddis, both Kanarese and Gentu, are as provident as the rice growers are improvident.  They spend their money on the land., like the Vellars, but they are not parsimonious; they are always well dressed if they can afford it; the gold ornaments worn by the women or the men are of the finest kind of gold; their houses are always neat and well built; and they invariably give the idea of good substantial ryots.  They chiefly live on ragi, and are a fine powerful race".

     The vellars number 268,649.  They are strongest in the Talaghat, especially in the Taluks of Tiruchengodu and salem.  In Attur there are about 29,000 and in Uttankarai about 31,000.
 
    The principal sub-castes returned for salem District are (1) Kongu, (2) Velli-kai, (3) Pavalam-katti, (4) Tondai-mandalam, (5) Tuluva, (6) Nirpusi,(7) Nayanar, (8) pusaikkara, (9) Karaikattu, (10) loliya.  Unfortunately the census Returns give no idea of the relative strength of these divisions, but local enquiries indicate that the konga Vellars, as night be expected, are by far the most numerous.
 
    The traditional boundaries of the ancient kongu country are on the west the Aliyar River of pollachi Taluk, on the north the pala-malai, on the east the kolli-malais, on the south the palni hills.  The konga Vellars are divided into the following territorial groups: (1) Ten-talai (corrupted into sentalai; located in tiruchengodu taluk and in part of coimbatore) (2) Vada-talai (salem,Attur,Uttankarai), (3) palai (4) padaitalai, (5) Narambu-katti (6) pavalam-katti.  To these must be added the velli-kai Vellars of the Barahmahal and the Nattans, who are said to have sprung from the Ten-talai section.  The Narambu-kattis are said to be so named because they wear entrails round the neck.

                                    Vellars

      The chief settlements of the konga vellars are in tiruchengodu and uttankarai.  Salem Taluk Contains many settlements of them, and they are known in Dharmapuri and Attur.  The pavalam-katti vellars are so-called on account of the circles of coral beads worn by their women on the left arm.  They are to be found fairly commonly in the Taluks of Tiruchengodu, Salem and Omalur, and in Dharmapuri, especially in the pagalpatti Firka.  The Velli-kai ("silver arm") or velli-kappu Vellars are so called on account of the silver bangles which their women wear on the upper arm.  They are common in Dharmapuri, and in Hosur in the Sanat-kumara-nadi valley and on the adjoining hills.  They are also found in Attur, Salem or tiruchengodu.  They are organised for caste administration into three Gadi-varams or Districts, each under a periya or Gadi-Nattan, namely (1) Raya-kota Gadi, under sakkai kavundan of Dodda Timmana-halli (krishnagiri Taluk), (2) Krishnagiri Gadi under Venkatapati Kavundan of Mora-madagu and (3) Virabhadra Durgam Gadi under Muniswami Kavundan of Golla-halli.  Each Gadi-varam is divided into a number of Hobalis or groups of villages, each Hobali being under a chinna or Hobali-Nattan.  Each village has its Ur.Kavundan.  Appeals in caste matters lie from the Ur-kavudan to the Hobali-Nattan, and second appeals to the Gadi-Nattan, and if the parties are still dissatisfied, they can appeal to a full bench of the three Gadi-Nattans sitting together.
 
     True Tondai-mandalam Vellars, who are strict vegetarians, are very rare in the Salem District.  They occur sporadically in the Talaghat, and also in Dharmapuri and Uttankarai.  Some authorities class them as a section of the Tondai-mandalam vellars is said to be a strict vegetarian.  In attur they are called Vettilai is said to be a strict vegetarian.  In Attur they are called vettilai-karar or kodi-kal vellalars, and are said to be experts in the cultivation of the oetel-vine.  The so-called Maniyakkarars of the Barahmahal are said to be Tuluva Vellars, organised under a pattakkaran at Harur who appoints Nattars for kambaya-nallur, Anandur kaveri-patnam, jagadevi, and pennagaram.

 
    Most of the Vellars of krishnagiri Taluk call themselves nayanar and they acknowledge the Dharma-sivachar Guru of the latter taluk, as well as in dharmapuri, they are said to be identical with Nirpusi and pusaikkara vellars, but in krishnagiri these three sections are reported to be distinct.  The term Nirpusi is derived from the sacred ashes which they apply to their foreheads, and all Nirpusis are saivities.  There are a few families of Nirpusis at Mallapuram and kadagattur, both in Dharmapuri Taluk, and a settlement of pusaikkar vellalars at vadakumari in Attur, whose Guru lives at Virddhachalam in south Arcot.
 
    Karai-kattu vellalars are to be found in several villages in the Taluks of omalur and Attur.  In salem and Tiruchengodu they are rather rare.  In Dharmapuri there are a few settled near solappadi.
 
    Soliya Vellalars are not common, but they are said to occur in all the Talaghat Taluks, and also rarely, in Dharmapuri and Uttankarai, as well as in the villages of Agondapalli and Mattigiri in Hosur Taluk.

    No systematic attempt has yet been made to differentiate the customs of the numerous sub-castes of vellars, except in the case of the kongu group.  Generally speaking their customs are of the ordinary Tamil type, with a strong tendency towards Brahmanic ritual.  The customs of the kongu vellalars are practically the same as those of the Nattans, who are dealt with in detail below.

     The pallis number 482,631, forming by far the largest caste in the District.  They dominate the Baramahal even more conspiously than they do the Talaghat.  There are about 125,000 in Dharmapuri, 75,000 in Krishnagiri, 32,000 in Uttankarai, in Salem there are some 75,000 in Tiruchengodu 60,000 and in Attur 24,000.  The name palli is connected by savants with pallan, kallan,paraiyan,etc., but the pallis themselves indigantly disown such associations, and claim to be Kshatriyas of the fire Race, and connect the name palli with the ancient pallava dynasties; this claim Hindu society is by no means inclined to admit, though in some places the pallis have taken to wearing the sacred thread of the twice born.  The term palli, however,is considered opprobrious, inspite of the royal pedigree which the word connects, and pallis prefer to be called vanniyars, from the vanni tree which is held sacred by the caste or padaiyachis.
 
     Their most important sus-castes are (1) Arasa Vanniyars and (2) Panda-mutta Vanniyars.  The former are the more numerous, but the latter consider themselves superior.  Both sub-castes are common throughout the District, except in Hosur and Krishnagiri Taluks.  Other well-recognised sub-castes are the (3) Olai Vanniyars and (4) Nagavadam vanniyars, both of which are said to be off-shoots of the Arasa-vanniyars, both of which are said to be off-shoots of the Arasa-vanniyars.  Other sections reported are the kongu, vengaya,Nila-kanta,sugambu, Gangapala, samba,pasupatha, Vaniyars all of kal or lingam-katti Vanniyars of Baira-nayakkam-patti in Utangarai Taluk.  It is doubtful whether any of these sections are true sub-castes.
 
     The panda-muttu Vanniyars derive their name from their curious custom of piling up two columns of kalasams in their marriage pandals.  The number of pots in each column must be odd, and there may be as many as, 11,13 or 15, and they reach to the roof.  The pots, which must be new, are coated with chunam, and empty.  Each column is based on a curious four-concerned earthenware stand, the corners being fashioned to repesent an elephant, a horse, sheep and a peacock respectively; above this stand is placed a crude earthenware figure of a peacock, on the top of which the column rests.  The roof of the pandal is adorned with earthenware coco-nuts, plantains and mangoes.
 
    The area Vanniyars are more numerous than the pandamuttu sub-caste, but they are somewhat less Brahmanised.  They differ from the panda-muttu Vanniysars in the following particulars, (1) they tolerate the re-marriage of widows, (2) they use a smaller tali than that of the Arasa sub-caste, (3) they use only one kalasam at weddings, (4) they use cotton thread instead of the gold karai for tying the tali, (5) they use bamboo baskets instead of copper trays for carrying the bride's pariyam and other presents, (6) they may not tie a knot in the necklaces of black beads that they wear.  In other respects the customs of the Arasa vanniyars resemble closely those of their Pandumattu cousins.

    Olai pallis are numerous in the Taluks of Hosur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Uttankarai, and are also found in salem Taluk. They derive their name from the fact that their women wear in their ears rolls of palm leaf instead of kammals.

   Nagavadam pallis are common in Hosur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri.  Their name refers to a curious shoe-shaped ear ornament, bearing a serpent's head in gold, which is worn by their women folk.  The Nagavadam pallis claim superiority to all other pallis, and have substituted the distinctive title vanni for Nagavadam.

   Wherever pallis occur their settlements are rather large, and each village has its headman, who is variously known as Ur.kavundan,Nattan,Nattannai-karam,panniya-karan or periyatanakkaram.  The panchayat usually consists of ten members.

   The Nattans are treated in the Census Reports as a distinctive caste, though, Strictly speaking, they are a sub-caste of Konga Vellars, sprung from the Ten-talai section of that caste group.  According to the census of 1911 they number nearly 12,000, of whom over 7,000 reside in Salem Taluk, and over 4,000 in tiruchengodu.  They are said to have migrated in the first instance from Tondai-Mandalam and the chola country, and to have fixed their head-quarters at kasngayam in coimbatore District.  East of the Kaveri they distributed themselves into three Nads, (1) kil-karai Pundurai-Nad, now known as morur, which is the chief of their Nads in Salem District, (2) Puvani Nad, the capital of which is Tara-mangalam, and (3) Rasipuram Nad, These three Nads have since split into seven, viz., (1) Morur, (2) Molasi (3) Parutti-patti, (4) Mallasamudram, (5) Rasipuram, (6) Salem and (7) Elur. An eighth Nad is said to have existed, with its centre at Kalyani, but it became extinct.  The Nads are exogamous, ie., a member of one Nad must not choose a bride from his own Nad, and even the two Nads of Morur and Molasi are regarded as agnate divisions, and intermarriage between them is prohibited.  Morur and Molasi belong to one and the same kalam or Gotram, called Kanna-Kulam; Rasipuram belongs to vijaya-kulam and parupatti to sella-kulam.
 
     The Nattans are distinguished from the konga vellalars in the following customs:-
 
     1) The Nattans are called Nattar Kavundar, while the konga vellars are called kudiyana kavundar.  The Nattans of Morur Nad also have the titles Immudi and Kangayam.

     2) The pariyam of the former is Rs. 4 and 32 vallans of rice, that of the latter Rs.25 and 18 vallams of rice.
 
     3) The tali of the former is simple unspun yarn; the tali of the latter is spun yarn of 7,9 or 11 strands.

     4) When the Nattan bridegroom goes to the bride's house for the wedding, he is heralded by a pulavau who sings a panegyric on the caste.  No such practice is observed among the konga vallars.

  
     5) Nattan girls are tatooed with dots on each check, the konga vellars tattoo one dot on the right cheek only.
 
     6) The Nattan bride rides to the bridegroom's house, but no such cotton exists among the Konga Vellars.

     7) The former tie an amulet to the neclace the latter tie it to the tali proper.
 
     8) Nattan females salute both men and women with their hands put together and raised above their heads, the konga vellalars do not do so.

     Their caste administration is conducted by elective panchayats, which can levy fines up to Rs.2, the proceeds being devoted to temple funds.  The panchayat is not, however, a strong body, and its authority is said to be decaying.

     Each Nad has its Brahman Guru.  The Guru of Morur and Molasi Nads is by caste a Gurukkal, and he lives in Natta-kadayur in kangayam Nad of coimbatore.  The gurus of Malla-samudram and parutti-palli Nads are also Gurukkal Brahmans, the Guru of the former living at Ayyam-palaiyam, in paramati Division, his title being Immudi Sitambala Nayinar, and the Guru of the latter Nad residing at Kallan-kulam in Salem Taluk.  The guru of Rasipuram Nad is a Dikshitar and lives at Pasur in Erode Taluk.
 
    Nattans ordinarily employ Brahmans as purohits only for punyaha-vachanam.  All other priestly duties are performed by barbers, whether it be at deaths, or marriages, or other ceremonies.  The richer classes, however, have sought to raise themselves in the social scale by employing Brahmans only for all ceremonies except those connected with females, but it is said that the ceremonial services of barbers cannot even then be dispensed with.

    The marriage customs of the Nattans are curiously complex.  The chief actors in the ceremonies are the arumaikkaran and his wife and the barber.  The arumaikkaran and his wife are priests of the caste, who are appointed under rather peculiar conditions.  To become an arumaikkaran, a man must be well on in years, of good character, and blessed with children, and his wife  must be alive.  He cannot be made an arumaikkaran except at the marriage of his first, third or last son.  Husband and wife are "consecrated" together.  The ceremony is conducted by the barber assited by other arumaikkarans, and after it is over the couple go and dig cooked rice out of the pot in which rice is boiled for their son's marriage; they are qualified to officiate in other marriages in the caste.
     The prominence of the barber in the marriage rite is accounted for in the following story.  A Vettuva Raja, out for his morning ride, saw a konga vellalan being shaved by the road-side. The Raja, who wanted a shave, ordered the barber at once to attend on him, and the obedient barber complied, leaving the unfrotunate vellalan half shaved.  The vellalan, feeling shy of appearing in public, shut himself up at home, and begged his son to complete the barber's unfinished task; the son refused, however, saying that if, he complied, no parent, whether within or outside the caste, would ever accept him as son-in-law.  A potter overheard this, and offered his daughter in marriage on condition that the son finished shaving his father.  The son accepted the offer, and ever after the son was called "barber" , and a barber has had to conduct the marriage rite among konga vellalans and Nattans.  It is said to be in consequence of this marriage between a vellalan and a potter girl that the potters sometimes call themselves vellala chettis.

    When a boy becomes eligible for marriage, his maternal uncle goes to his parent's house with a few rupees, some tenai (millet) and a mould used for making palmyra jaggery.  The tenai-flour is mixed with water, and made into a big ball, and into it is put on the threshhold of the house where the boy's parents live; the parents, in company with their arumaikkaran and his wife, then break the ball in two with a package.  If
he jaggery mould is found to be uninjured, the marriage will be auspicious.  If it be damaged, the marriage will be unlucky.

    The next-test is to mix some red dye in ghee; this mixture the arrumaokkaran daubs on the pit of the throat of the bridegroom's mother, and the stream of liquid is watched as it trickles down between her breasts;  if the marriage is to be auspious the stuff must trickle down in a straight line to the navel; if its course is deflected the omen is bad.  Sometimes the mixture is applied at the back of the neck, in which case it must trickle straight down the valley which marks the backbone.
 
   If these omens are favourable the two parents proceed to the shandy, and buy salt and turmeric, and smear red kunkuman on their foreheads.  It is only after the ceremony above described that the bridegroom's father is permitted to erect a pandal in front of his house.  The boy's father then proceeds with some elders of his village in search of a bride.
                     
                           Nattans

    A bride is chosen usually in some village within a radius of 10 or 15 miles of the bridegroom's house.  The betrothal consists, as in other castes, of exchange of courtesis between the parents, followed by a feast in the house of the bride's father.  Just before the wedding, the father and the mother of the bridegroom will sometimes pass through a hoop made by splitting a twig of tamarind, the object of this being to avert the Evil Eye.
 
     The bridegroom leaves his villages on the eve of his wedding, riding usually on horseback and proceeded by a pulavan, who sings songs as the procession proceeds.  The party takes with it the dowry, which may be one of three kinds.  the full sir, the half sir and the quarter sir. The full sir consits of 64 vallans of rice, 25 moulds of palmyra jaggery, 5 bundles of betel leaves, 1 Madras measure of area-nut, 1 measure of turmeric, 4 measures of ghee, a kurai or cloth for the bride, the tali and a gold necklace. 

     When the party reaches in pillaiyar kovil of the bride's village, a halt is called, and the bride's brother comes to meet the bridgegroom, riding on a horse or ox.  The bridgegroom and his party are then-conducted to a guest house set apart for the purpose, and to take their seats on a coir cot, over which the Dhoby has spread some white cloths.  The bride's house, and there a few rupees are tied in the corner of her cloth of hre cloth as her perquiste.  Then follows a feast given to the bride's maternal uncles, after which they carry the bride, dressed in the kurai but hare to the waist, and closing her eyes with her two hands, to the vattu-kal, a stone set up in the village boundary.  There the arummaikkari, under the supervision of the barber, ties a piece of yarn round the stone, the bride witnessing the process and sitting on the basket.  This done, the bride is carried back again by her uncles to her parents house, and on her arrival there the arumaikkari ties tali, in this case a mere piece of country yarn; the tali ornament being attached afterwards.  In former days it is said the tali was tied by the barber.
      The bridegroom,who till now has been waiting in the guest house,is next conducted to the bride's house and introduced to the bride.The Couple clasp hands,an act which is considered the binding portion of the ceremony.The bridegroom next dips his little finger in some red dye,and smears it on the bride's shoulder,the bride returning the compliment. The couple next exchange betel,and then the barber with the arumaikkaran and his wife, souse the pair from head to foot with water.The ghee is brought in a golden bowl,and the bridegroom and bride's brother eat out of it together in the presence of the bride.In poorer houses a brass bowl is used in which a golden ring is put. The bridegroom next goes to the pandle,and the  pulavars there sing a song of blessing. The bridegroom then returns to the nattu-kal,and there the chuckler meets him with a new pair of sandals, which the  bridegroom put on, paying the chuckler a few annas.The bride also is presented with a new pair of sandals at the entrance of her house. This closes the first day's ceremonics,and the bridegroom and the party return to their village. On the second day the bridegroom's female relatives proceed to the bride's  village and meet the women of the bride's party at the pillaiyar shrine. There the two parties salute each other and then adjourn to the bride's house and presents are exchanged. On the third day the bride pays a visit on horseback to the bridegroom's village,and meet him in his house Here,too the barber is master of the ceremonies. Onthe fifth day bride and  bridegroom together are conducted back to the bride's house,and the wedding terminates.
                             

                           Other Tamil Agricultural Castes
The Tamil agricultural Castes are further represented by (4) Agamudaiyans(11,130),(5) Udaiyans (25,028),(6)  Vettuvans(11,130), and(7)Malaiyalis (28,596).
 
                              Agamudaiyana

     The Agamudaiyans occur mostly in the taluks of attur, Uttaukarai and Krishnagiri. In the Baramahal they are organised into five nads,each under its nattan. The head-quarters of the nattans,in order of their precedence,are(1) Anandur,(2) kaveri,(3)Jagadevi,(4)Maharaja-gadai, and(5)paipalaiyam In every village there is an Dr-KAVUNDAN, who is  entitled to shares at marriages,and on other occasions.The Dr.kavundans,however,are  not entitled to summon panchayats,a privilege Which vests exclusively in the Nattans. The Baramahal Agamudaiyans are said to own allegiance to a Guru who lives at palni. The UTTANKARI Agamudaiyans are also said to recognise a Guru at tiruvannamalai,known as  Konga-Namassivayya-swami.IN the Southern Districts they bear some affinity to the Maravans and Kallans. Their customs  closely follow those of the vellalars,and there is reason to suppose that in salem District a large number of the caste have returned themselves as vallalars. They are said to belong to Siruntali section.
       The Udaiyans are divided into three well marked endogamous sub-castes, (a) Malaimans 10,027,(b)Nattamans 12,421 and (c)Sudarmans1,499. They trace their descent from three foster daughters of the poetess Avvaiyar,who became the wives of  king of Tiru-koyil in South Arcot,where their Guru still resides.Over two-third of the Malaimans are to be found in salem and Omalur taluks,especially in the   
  Rasipuram Division most of the remaining third residing in attur Two-third of the nattamans and more than half the sudarmaus occur in Attur Taluks. Outside these three taluks,the Udaiyans are rare.Their original settlement were in the western portion of south Arcot,and thence they have spread into Trichinopoly and Salem. Many of the Catholic converts round Rasipuram are  Malaimans by caste,and it is said that "interdining", and even intermarriage,between,the converted and unconverted families are tolerated weddings are celebrated in the bridegroom's house.
          The Vettvans are to be found mostly in Tiruchengodu Taluk;in Salem Taluk they number about 1,000. The Vettuvans of the kongu country trace their descent from the followers of an ancient Raja of Kalahasti, by name Muttani Raja. In the 2300 year of.the kali-yuga, or about 800 B.c., when South India was ruled by the Chera, Cholan and pandya kings, the king of the cheras, growing old, was seized with a desire to eschew the world, and with his consort to go to Heaven without dying.  After searching long and fruitlessly for a teacher who would guide him in the right way, he at length heard of a Saint of great sanctity, residing at Tiruvur in Tanjore Distict.  Him he consulted; the holy man suggested that the king, if he wanted to make a really great sacrifice, should hand over the kingdom to him.  This the king consented to do; the Saint bade him enter a puspaka-vimanam, which had been brought to earth for his convenience, and the king and queen proceeded to Heaven, leaving the kingdom in the holy man's charge.  The latter soon shifted his regal responsibilities by handing the kingdom over to Brahman administrators.  These Brahmans ruled for some four centuries, towards the end of which period the kingdom suffered severely from the depredations of certain raiders called Ottiars and Salliars, who represented, it is said, the kallars and maravars of to-day.  The Brahmans in their trouble applied for advice to the holy man who had given them the kingdom, and who must have lived to a great age.  The saint informed them that in the 2249th year of the kaliyuga, when the chera, chola and pandya kings were in like quandary, they had sought and obtained help from the then Raja of kalahasti and suggested that the Brahman rulers should do likewise.  Envoys were accordingly sent, and, after some difficulty, the Raja of kalahasti, Muttani Rajan by names, after consultation with his Guru Umapathi Desikar, was prevailed on to assist.  On the 10th day after the new moon in the month of Tai in the year pramatha, 2700 years after the beginning of the kali-yuga, the Raja of kalahasti set out for the south.  On the kaveri bank he settled his Guru at Nanjai-Edaiyar.  The raja and his fighting men then crossed the kaveri and moved on karur, where he worshipped at the ancient shrine of pasupatisvara-swami.  From Karur the Raja conducted a successful compaign against the raiders, and after crushing them, he repaired again to Nanjai Edaiyar.  Raja and Guru then visited the Siddha kovil at the foot of the kanja-malai, to enjoy the society of the Rishis and yogis then living there.  After their return to Nanjai-Edaiyar, the king was requested by the Brahman rulers to take over the kingdom as a reward for his services.  The king consented, making karur his head-quarters, and posting a chief at kapila-malai and another at siva-malai(near the boundary between erode and Dharmapuram Taluks).

    This Muttani Raja of Kalahasti seems to be the same as the Muttu Raja referred to in the traditions of the Ambalakkarans the Muttiriyans, the Uralis and the valaiyans. According to vettuva legend, Muttani Raja was a son of one Vijayan, born to him by a jungle girl, with whom he fell in love when hunting, and whose father he slew.  Vijayan's father was kannappa nayanar was the eldest of ten brothers, sons of a vedar girl who contracted a gandharva marriage with a descending of yayathi, one of the heroes of the Mahabharata.  NO historical evidence has been added to corroborate the migration legends of these castes, but the community of tradition probably points to a community of origin, and the legend of a vettuva Raja still clings to Sankaridrug
 
   
            
               
                                                                                                                                         Survey OF Castes                                                              _                                                                       VETURANS                                                                                                                        No clearly defined Sub-castes appear to exit among the vettuvans.  The following exogamous clans are reported;(1)ANTHI,(2)MULAI,(3)pattali,(4)Karadi,(5)Vanni,(6)Kattu,(7)Billai,(8)VARAGU, (9) santhappadai, (10) Pandi. Caste disputes are decided by panchayats presided over by an hereditary officer called Kottukkaram,and appeals lie to a Pattakkarm,of whom there are three; once at Irukkur near Kapila-malai(Namakkal Taluk;another,entitled Kalahasti Kavanndar, at pavitram (Karur Taluk);And a third at siva-malai(Dharapuram Taluk) The full title of a Pattakkar runs Immudi-pattam-kumara-allala-rama-pathira- Idumba-Ilavya- Nayakkar,the word Idumba being his personal name. Pattakkars only are known as  Nayakkar,a title bestowed upon them it said, by Tirumala Nayaka of Madura, the ordinary caste  title being kavundar.Vettuvans employ as purchits a sect of tamil speaking Smarta Brahmans known as sivaji,who are rather  looked down upon by other Brahmans. These purchits officiate at the purifactory ceremonies after childbirth,and on the 3rd and 16th days after death ,and among the  more advanced classes during the performance of sarddhas.Their Guru,as already stated,resides at  Nanjai-Edaiyar and bears the  title Umpathi-Desikar or UmaMahesvara-Gurukkal;he claims desent from the guru who migrated with the the Vettuvans from Kalasti.At Nanjai-edaiyar is a matam,and a shrine where siva and his consort are still worshipped as kalahasti Isvarar and Gnanambikai.                                                                                                                                                                     Malaiyalis                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Malaiyalis are the principal inhabitants of the Talaghat hills, their chief settlements being on the Shevaroys,Kalrayans.Chitteris Kolli-malais and pachai-malais In Attur Taluk they number 12,800,in Salem Taluk 7,300 odd,in Uttankarai just under7,000 and there are a few returned for Omalur and Uttankarai.Thanks to their isolation and the feverish climate of their habitat,they form a far more homogeneous community than any of the caste of the plains,and afford an interesting object lesson in ethnology. They trace their origin to conjeeveram.The legend runs that three brothers, by name Periyannan,Naduvannan and chinnannan,went a hunting in a forest accompained by  three hunting hounds, and it came on to rain so heavily for two   days that they were not able to quit the forest. their hounds,however, returned home, and their Wives, seeing the dogs without their masters,concluded that their  husband had died in the jungles,and accordingly, as all loyal widows should do,set fire to their  houses and perished in   the flames. Onthe third day the hunters returned to find their houses in ashes and their  wives dead . the bereaved husbands there upon consoled  themselves by marrying again; Periyannan chose a  Kaikolaar girl, and settled on the kalrayans;Naduvannan chose a vedachi as his bride, and the pachai-malais as his residence;chinnannan married a Devendra Pallan, and made  his home on the  kolli-malais. These three brothers thus became the progenitors of the three clearly defined sub-castes into which the Malaiyalis are divded, the Periya-Malaiyalis,the Pachai-Malaiyalis and the Kolli-Malaiyalis. The Malaiyalis are also divided into a large number of exogamous clans which they call vaguppus. A curious feature in connection with these vaguppus is that  certain groups of them(called dayadi vaguppus) are inter sex exogamous also. The member of these dayadi clans call one another brothers(annan-tambigal),and marriage between  them is, for some unknown reason,regarded as incestuous. For instance,inSittur Nad there are seven vaguppus;five of which(Pilan,Mukkandi,pusan,Manikkan and Tiruvichi) form one dayadi group, and the remaining two (kannan and Tillan) another;no member of the first group of clans may marry into any  other clan of that  group, but must go to some other clan for his bride . Similarly the Konan clan of the Munur Malaiyalis may not intermarry with either the Matttayan,the Emaiyande, or Kannathan clan of Tiruppuli Nad,but may take a bride from the Alatti or Punnan clan of that Nad,though all the five clans of Tiruppulinad are inter se exogamous. Similarly among  the Pachai-Malaiyalis there are  about fifty clans,arrangedin about eight dayadi groups. Some of these vaguppus bear quaint and outlandish names which would afford unlimited scope for a philogist faney, but it cannot be said they are totemistic in orgin.             of the three sub-castes,the Kolli- Malaiyalis are the most conservative and the best organised. They are to be found on the Kolli-malais of Namakkal and Attur Taluks,on the Boda-malais and in the valley between  the Boda-malais and Jerugumalais Onthe Kolli-malais they are organised into four groups of which two,three Nad and the Four-Nad Malaiyalis,are in Namakkai with head- quarters respectively at  selur and valappur;and two, the Anjur(fivevillage) and Munur(threevillage)Malaiyalis are in Attur.The Anjur Malaiyalis comprise the five Nads of Bayilam, Tiruppuli,edappuli,Pirakarai and Sittur,with a population of 6,641 and the Munur Malaiyalis the three Nads of Kunduvi,Alattur and Pelappadi,with a population of 1,501. The  Anjur Malaiyalis are under the jurisdiction of the Periya-Patakkaran of Bayil-Nad,whose office is hereditary.He is not called Raja,and has no Mandri. each of the five "Urs" has its Ur -Kavundan,who are elected. Caste disputes are decided in the Urco cerned.An appeal from the decision of the  Panchayat so constituted lies to the Periya-Pattakkaran of BayilNad,who finally settles the  dispute in conjunction with the Kaarakkarans of Bayil-Nad and the Ur-kavndanand Karakkarans of the Urn in which the dispute arose. it is not , however,essential that all the Karakkarans should be present in this appellate court,and a quorm of five will suffice.Among the Munur Malaiyalis, however,the Ur.Kavuandans refer disputed deecision to the Raja of  the  four Nads at valappur, whose decision is final The Kolli- Malaiyalis of the Bodda-malais and the adjoining valley are  ruled by a nattan resident at Kilur,who exercises authority over the  Kolli-Malayalis of Bhavani Taluk also,and from whom an appeal may be preferred to the periya-Pattakkaran of Bayil-Nad. The Pachai-Malaiyalis are organised into three Nads,of which two (Ven-Nad and Tembara-Nad) are in trichinoppoly district, and the third,Atti-Nad,covers the Pachai-malais of attur. The pachai-Malaiyalis extend,however,across Attur Taluk through the Paittur Hills to the village of the Tumbal Valley,the  Upper Vasishta-nadi, the  Arunuttu-malais and  the  Manjavadi Ghat, and are found even as far a field as the  hamlets of Kanjeri and palamedu at the western fott of shevaroys,and at Veppadi, near the head waters of the  toppur River. for the Purpose of caste administration they are divided into sub-Nads,Karais  or Tamukkus; for instance, Nallaya-Kavundan Nad,KalattiKavundan Nad on the Pachai-Malais,Manmalai Nad west of the pachai-malais,and paittur Nad. There are Nattans also at mamanji in the Tembal valley at Aladi-Patti on the Aranuttu-malais, at Kiri-pattiin the  vasishta-nadi valley north of Belur,at Karamandi with Jurisdiction overthe Manjavadi villages and the slope ofthe slavaroys,and at tomba-Kallanur a hamlet of pattukunam-patti north of the manjavadi pass,with Jurisdiction extending to the South-western Kambais of chitteris and the northern and western Kombais of the Shevaroys. The sub-nads are divided into pattis each under the Jurisdiction of an Ur-Kavundan, whose title is Muppan,and who is assisted by a kanundan,
Each sub-Nad is ruled by a Naattan, Nattu-Kavundan or Kutti-kavundan,assisted by one ormore Karakkarns,whose oppointment is subject to his approval. The Nattans in turn are subject to the authority of a council of  seven chinna-Dorais,presided over by a Periya--Dorai,who is some times called Raja and resides at sethakam on the pachai-malais. Under the Dorais are  certain mandiris or prime ministers,whose poweres seem a little rague. There are mandiris at pakkalam,on the pachai-malais,at paittur and at kiri-patti.The paittur Mandiri is acknowledged by 12 Karis, the  kiri-patti Mandiri by six Karais. The puttur mandirs lays claim to a precedence over the pakkalam mandiri,which is not admitted by some influential members of the community.
   The Pariya- Malaiyalis hold the kalrayans,the Shevaroys and the chitteris. they call themselves Karalans,a name which some authorities connect with Kerala,the ancient name for malabar. The Kalyans (population in kallakurchi Taluk a little over 20,000, in Attur Taluk not quite 10,000) are said to have been colonised by five chieftains,whose descendants still govern the fire kalayan Jaghire, a sort of priestly hierarchy, each Jaghire being divided into several sub-Nads.Intermarriage between the Malaiyalis of the Kalrayans and those of the Shevaroys is extremly rare, owing,no doubt, to distance,a frequent cause of  fission in the  caste system. The shevaroys are divided into three Nads (1)Sela-Nad (salem)(2)Moha-Nad, (3) Mutta-Nad each under its own Pattakkarn, and each containing nine  
 
Malaiyalis                                                                                                                                                                                                       childern are married to mature female and the father - in-law of the bride assumes the performance of the procreative function" and raises up a progeny on his son's behalf. "when the putative father comes of age, and in their  turn his wife's male offspring are married ,he performs for them the same office that his father did for him." If the boy-husband's father is dead ,or is not particularly fond of his daughter-in-law, one of his brothers or some other near male relative may  be requestioned to take chayalis is that the wedding tali-kettu-kalyanam in Malabar. More significant is the fact that  though a women lives openly in adultery, all the children she bears to her paramour are regared as the lawful children of her rightful husband. Infact,divorce is not permitted among the Periya-Malaiyalis,is is discountenanced by the Kolli-Malaiyalis, and a husband never loses the proprietary right over his wife's children,whoever their father may be.  The  Pachai-Malaiyalis are said to allow divorce on payment of a fine of  Rs.25, but the practice is presumbly an innovation,imitative of the customs of the plains.                         On the Whole the marriage customs of the Malaiyalis differ but little from those of the plains. the betrothal contract is  settled in the presence of the Ur-Kavundans,and if the contracting parties belong to different villages, the Ur-Kavundans of both villages  should be present,and the pattakkaran's consent should be obtained. The bride-price varies, and is often paid in kind: the pachai-Malaiyalis of Uttankarai give four Kandagams of grain,agodas(Rs.14) in cash, and a cow with calf;elsewhere it ages from Rs.10 to Rs.50. A fee of Rs.10-8-0 should also be to the officers of the caste,but this may be remitted by the takkaran. On the Pachai-malais the preliminary nalangu is formed on sundays,the pandals erected at the houses of both and bridegroom on wednesday ,and the Muhurtam takes at the bride's house on thursday. At the  houses of each kalasam is prepared of three new vessels placed one above and is taken to the Viguesvara temple on the  wednes light. The order in which pan-supari is distributed is governed did etiquette. The Pereiya- Dorai receives five shares, the other is four each, the Manduris three each,the Kutta-Kaavundan TWO the Muppan one. The bridegroom then presents  the  bride with urai, a white ored cloth with a black border,measuring from 17 cubits in length and from 2 to 3 cubits wide. on the li-malais the cermonies take place the bride groom's house,her the bride is taken between daybreak and 7 A.M on the dying morning . The bridegroom places the tali on the girl's and the Ur-Kavundan, standing behind her,ties it. It is  Ur-Kavundan,too, Who places the hand of the boy in that of  girl,and who pours water over their clasped hands.                                                                                                                           Widow re-marriage is permitted in all three sub-castes.The li-Malaiyalis do not permit a widow to marry her husband's ther;the pachai-Malaiyalis allow such unions. At a widow marriage among Kolli-Malaiyalis the bridal couple cancel opposite other, and a cloth is suspended between them;the bride om passes the tali under the cloth,and places it on brid's but he is not allowed to see the face of the bride till the talied by Ur-Kavundan. when a widow marries, the children bore to her first husband are taken charge of by their father's rest male relative,and it is usual for a father  to register his a land in the name of his children to prevent it being enjoyed  by his window's husband. Divorce proceding among the pachais Malaiyalis are of the simplest description; the husband  declares in the presence of the guru,that he has abandoned his wife, and  he  tenders her a bit of straw or a splinter of wood in token of repedition. she is not allowed,however,to marry a second husband till her first husband dies.                                                                                                                                       It is possible that  a pollution  period of thirty days on attainment of maturity was at one time observed throughout  the caste and that the period has subsequently been shortned in imitation of lowland practice. On the pachai-malais, it is said, is kept in a hut outside the village for five days, and on the  she is bathed and admitted into the house,but the house remains under minor pollution for  another  thirty days , and no village  may enter it.  throughout these  thirty days  the girl is bathed daily, water being poured over her head,and the house is cleansed once a week . The Pachai-Malaiyalis of Uttankarai Taluk,however observe segregation and pollution for twelve days. Some Kolli- Malaiyalis observe thirty day's pollution,some only fifteen. Among the Periya-Malaiyalis the period varies from seven to eleven days. For the purification cermony it  is the fashion for the few who can  afford it to employ Brahman purolits. Purification after child birth is  said to take place on  the 12th, 15th or 16th day, but the Pachai-Malaiyalis observe pollution of  a minor kind for thirty days. No formal child-naming cermony is performed, and no fixed rule  appears to exit as to when a child should be named.A Kolli-Malaiyalis child is named  some time on the 10th day,sometimesin the 3rd month after birth, on the pachai-malais at the end of a year, while on the shevaroys the name is given on the 3rd day. It is not uncommon to consult the local pujari as to what name should be  selected, the priest,after certain ceremonies,announcing the  name under divine inspiration. Children are often named after popular  deities e.g,Kongan (Kongay,if a girl),Vadaman (vadami) sirangan(sirangi),pidavan(pidari),Kali,Arppali,etc.infact boys are more frequently named after a god than after their grandfather(p.132).Popular nickname are Kariyan(black),vallaiyan(fair),Kuttaiyan (Short).Sadiyan(Curly),Periya Payal (big boy),chinna payal(little boy),etc. It is  the practice among the Kolli-Malaiyalis to bore the left nostril, among the pachai-Malaiyalis the right  nostril,and among the periya Malaiyalis neither nostril. Malaiyali women never wear the ravikkai, and while at home or in the  field,they leave bare the  shoulders ,arms and upper part of the body; before strangers, however,and when going to market "the upper of the cloth is loosened from  over the breast or waist and carried across the  left shoulder,and thrown loosely over the back,shoulders,and arms." Pachai-Malayalis seem peculiarly fond of colour; their women never wear white except on their wedding day,when they don the kurai(p.159),which is never tied above the waist. They are peermitted to wear either"black" or red cloths ,and generally profer a dash of yellow, orange, or green; they  wear green and  crimson glass in their  ear-ring, and even the men affect bright  colours in their only article of attur,the komanam. Their dietary is of the usual type,and includes pork. Malaiyalis of both sexes are ardent smokers. Thse practice of producing fire by silica and  steel survives among the Pachai-Malaiyalis,only two or three men in a patti possessing the necessary apparatus,which,together with some charred cotton,is kept in a small leather pouch. The houses and agricultural methods of the Malaiyalis  are referred to elsewhere(pp.108 and 211). The duties of the barber, dhoby and  midwife are performed by people of their own caste. They engage pariahs, however,to play tom-tom, etc.,On ceremonial occasions, and pariahs are employed as agricultural laboures and  assit them On their hunting excursions.  When any one of their cattle die, they will not go near or touch the carcase, but send for the nearest pariahs to come and remove it; but should an animal got injured intentionally or accidently, and be likely to die of the injury, they will then sell them to the coolies for a trifle.  Some of the Malaiyalis are in great repute as cow-doctors, and they will set a broken leg very well.  They will not touch a cow-hide or use it as ropes for their ploughs, etc., nor do they make any attempts to secure the hide of their cattle that die ; it becomes the perquiste of the pariahs who remove the carcase.                                 
 
      Malaiyalis ordinarily bury their dead, but they burn those who die of cholera, leprosy or any other infectious or epidemic disease.  When cremation is resorted to, the milk-ceremony is ommited.  The rites observed are similar to those of the plains.  The bier is sometimes covered by a canopy, in which case it is said to last month, among the pachai-Malayalis of Uttankarai for ten days, among the periya-Malaiyalis for twelve or fifteen days, and on the kolli-malais it closes on the third day.  The ghosts of the dead are believed to haunt the house, and must be propitiated with sacrifices of fowls,goats,pigs,etc., as the pujari prescribes, or a peg of strychnos nux-vomica, or a nail is driven into the grave over the head of the corpse.  No Sriddhas are performed, but the spirits of departed ancestors are worshipped on occasions of marriage, child birth and puberty, during public festivals, and on Fridays, as pattavans or household deities.  A Malaiyali's house is held sacred, and not even a Brahman is allowed to enter it with shoes on.
 
       The malaiyalis worship both siva and vishnu impartially, and they wear both namam and vibhuti, the former being reserved usually for religious worship, and the latter for everyday use.  They do not, however, ordinarily resort to Brahmanic temples or employ Brahman archakars.  The patron deity of the caste is Kari-Raman, an incarnation apparently of Vishnu.  His chief shrine is at kovil-pudur, in the Mel-Nad of the periya kalrayans.  He has a shrine at Tammampati, and a some what pretentious temple in his honour was built a few years ago at Karadiyur on the shevaroys.  It contains idols of siva and parvati, vishnu and Lakshmi, Vigneswara, and a dozen upright stones in two rows, decorated with white spots.  The entrance is adorned with sanku, chakram and namam, the superstructure with figures of vishnu, Rama, four Garudas and four Nandis.  Puja is performed every saturday, and a car -festival takes place in Masi.  The pujari is prohibited from tasting flesh, and may not attend any animal sacrifice, of done with flesh-eaters. No blood-sacrifices are made to kari-Raman, and it is said that any who have taken part in a blood-sacrifices are prohibited from entering his temple till after the lapse of three or four days.  In pursuance of a vow Malaiyalis of both sexes dedicate their hair at the shrine.

       A similiar vaguoness appears to exists regarding the god whose shrine is on the shevarayan Hill.  Dr. Shortt preserves the god whose shrine is on the shevarayan Hill.  Dr. Shortt preserves a tradition that "a shervacaran or commander of a body of soldiers, being a pious and holy man, visited this hill from the low country to worship Ramaswami, the then presiding deity.  His piety gained him much more honour and fame, and when he died, which he did on this hill, it was called after him, and images of stone were made and placed in the temple.  Ramaswami was forgotten and shervacaran took his place."

        The cult of Vishnu survives also in a vague form in the perumal-kovils to be found in many Malaiyali villages; this perumal cult is hardly recognisable as vishnu worhsip and sometimes the deity is unprovided with a shrine.  The cult is, however, entirely dissociated from blood-sacrifice, and the pujari is usually a vegetarian.  The apprpriate day for perumal worship is Saturday.  The kolli-malaiyalis worship a god they call Arangattappan or Aranga-sivan,'whom they regard as the tribal god of the three eponymous ancestors of the caste, and who appears to be a counterpart of kari-Raman.  In Kunduni Nad he is served by a Brahman Gurukkal, and the ritual observed is hardly distinguishable from that of an ordinary siva temple ; abhishekham consists of bathing the idol first with water, then with milk, and thirdly with gingelly oil; it is then dressed in a new cloth and marked with sandal and kunkumam; dhupam is then offered; lamps are lighted,a  plantain leaf full of cooked food is placed before the diol, the usual mantras are repeated, and camphor is burnt; blood-sacrifices are altogether, avoided, and the only offerings made are boiled grain, milk, sugar, fruit and other items appropriate to siva worship.  His attendant Aranga sevagan receives worship as a distinct deity,  but his priest is a malaiyali and not a Brahman .  The cult of vignesvara is as uniquitous among the Malaiyalis as elsewhere, and he is often worshipped in the form of neolithic implements placed upright or heaped promiscuously in  alittle dolmen or in a shrineless walled enclosure.  Monday is the proper day for the worship of Vigneshwara.  There is a temple of Subrahmanya under the familiar name of Kandasami in Pirakarai Nad; with a three days' festival in Panguni (March - April), but otherwise his cult is rare.  Kamakshi is also honoured with a few shrines and there are a few Dharmaraja temples devoted to the Pandava cult.
      The list of minor deities worshipped by the Malaiyalis is a long one.  Their favorite Saktis are Kali, Pidari and Mari; Ayyanar, too, is worshipped.  Kali has an annual car-festival in Edappuli Nad in Chittrai or Vaikasi.  Saturday is in some parts her special day of worship. Pidari has many epothets, such as Periya, Chinna, Soka, Pudu, Karum, Karakkattu, Malunguttu, etc.  Her favorite week-day and her annual festivals vary indifferent Nads.  The chief festival of Mari-amman, or Mariyayi as she is often called, occurs in the spring months, Tai, Masi, or Panguni, about the time of full moon.  Her special week-days are Tuesdays and Fridays.  Other important "mother goddesses" are Nachi-amma, Pongalai, Kongalayi and Ponnayi.  Nachi is variously known as Mela-Nachi, Koda-kara-Nachi, Ariya-Nachi, Elaya-Nachi, Elu-karai-Nachi, etc.  Her special week-day appears to be Thursday.  She must be worshipped in perfect silence, and the prasada is taken home by the worshippers.  She is said to be a patron goddess of the Vedans, and the existence of her cult among the Kolli-Malaiyalis is traced to their Vedachi ancestress.  Pongalayi is called by many epithets, e.g.,  Kosakkuli, Mayilati, Tannipali, Velarayan, Mulakadu, Panikkankadu, Pekkadu, etc.  The demons worshipped by the Malayalis are known by many names, such as Periya-Andavan, Andi-appan, Nambi-andan, Sadayan, Vettukkaran, Masi-Malayan, Urulaiyan, etc., but by far the most important cult is that of karuppan, who is propitiated in every village by pig sacrifice, his special perquisite being the livers of the victims.  With him is sometimes associated a female city known as Kanni-amma.
      Many of these minor deities have no shrines, and are worshipped in the open air or in a roofless walled enclosure, especially in the case of Karuppan.  They are served by pujaris of Malaiyali caste, who are known as Tathans or Andis, and whose office is often hereditary.  It is usual for one and the same pujari to serve several cities, and he is sometimes distinguished from his fellow Malayalis by his turban, by growing his hair long, and sometimes by abstaining from animal food for a period or throught his life.  The chief general festivals observed by Malayalis are Pongal, Deepavali and the 18th Adi.  The second day of Pongal (Mattu-Pongal) is celebrated by a great hunting excursion, and by bull-dances.
      The Telugu ryots are known by the general name Kapu, a term which is loosely applied to the caste groups otherwise known as Reddis, Kammans, Telegas and Velamas, and even Balijas, and is extended to the Kanarese Vakkiligas also.  The "Kapus" number over 44,000, of whom 35,000 are returned for Hosur Taluk, over 2,000 for Salem and about the same number for Attur.  Most of the Hosur Kapus, however, are Kanarese vekkiligas.  The kammas (4,681) are found mostly in Hosur and the Telegas (841) in Salem.  The Velamas number only 91, all in Hosur Taluk.  The exact relationship between these castes has not yet been clearly determined; it is probable, however, that they, together with the Balijas (see p.178) and the Razus (see.p.191), come originally of the same stock,and settled in the District in the wake of the Vijaynagar conquests.  The Telafas, Balijas and Razus claim military antecedents, and there is evidence for classing the kammas as Balijas.  One more important class of Telugu  cultivators deserves mention, viz., the Tottiyas, who number 6,410, and who are found mostly in the Taluks of salem, Tiruchengodu and omalur.  They are an interesting Telugu caste peculiar to the Tamil Country.
     The best known sub-castes of kapus in salem District are:-
      (1) the pokanatis
      (2) the pedakanti
      (3) the Nerati and
      (4) the panta Reddis
 
      The Pokanati Reddis are commonest in Dharmapuri Taluk; a few occur near Tumbal, in the north of Attur Taluk, but not in the Sweta-nadi Valley.
      Pedakanti Reddis are found in the south-west and south of Uttankarai Taluk, in Dharmapuri and in Hosur.  In the Baramahal Records the name is spelt "Perdagantuwaru," and is said to be derived from peradu, a back-door, the legend being that once on a time a Guru camped near the village where their ancestor dwelt, and sent an attendant Dassari to apprise the villagers of his arrival; when the Dasari came to the Reddi's house, the latter, out of meanness, bolted out of the back-door, and the Guru, on hearing of it, declared that he and his descendants should hence forth have no Guru.  The same authority divides the "Perdagunta" Reddis into two sections, Chinna-gumpu and Pedda-gumbu, and sub-castes hearing these names occur in Omalur Taluk and in the adjoining portion of Dharmapuri.  They have no Guru, but own the authority of a Puttakkaran at vellar.  They interdine with the Pokanatis.
      The Reddis of Attur Taluk almost all belong to the subcaste known as Patna Kapu, but the term Kapu is never used among them.  Their chief settlements are in the valley of the Sweta-nadi, in villages bordering on Trichinopoly District; in fact, they are closely akin to the Reddis of Trichinopoly, and are probably off-shoots of the Telughu settlements formed in the lower valley of the Kaveri, when Trichinopoly and Madura became the seats of Vijayanagar Viceroys.
      The Nerati Kapus are the most numerous sub-caste of Kapus in, Hosur, their chief settlement being at Morasur.  They also occur in Dharmapuri.  Like the Pokanatis and Pedakantis, they acknowledge the Guru at Jigur.
      In addition to the above sections, there are communities of Koditti (or Kodatha), Sajala, Yelochi and Simpari Kapus reported from Hosur Taluk.  In Dharmapuri Kantha Reddis are to be found near Toppur, and Perumba Reddis also occur.  Whether any of these are true sub-castes, or whether they are to be identified with the better-known divisions is uncertain.  The Kapus employ Brahman purohits and are almost all votaries of Vishnu.
      The Kammas are said to derive their name from the word kamma (Tamil, Kammal) , a large ear-ornament worn by their women.  Their customs approximate closely to those of the Balijas.  They are divided into two sub-castes, (1) Goda Chatulu and (2)Gamba Chatulu, the legend being that two sisters were bathing, when a king passed by, and the bashful maids hid, one behind a wall (goda) and the other behind a basket (gampa) and these two sisters were respectively the mothers of the two castes.  Another variations is that in a desperate battle at Gandi-kota almost all the Kammas were destroyed, except a few who took refuge behind a wall or in baskets. Possibly the Muttu-kamma Balijas, who are found very rarely in Salem Taluk, should properly be classed as kammas.  In the Baramahal Records kammas are divided into two sections, the Musuku kammas and the Bairu-Kammas.
 
                     (iii) Kanarese Cultivators Vakkiligas
 

       The general term for kanarese ryots is vakkiliga or, in its Tamilised form, Okkiliyan.  As already stated, the words Vakkiliga and kapu are often interchangeable, and it is certain that many vakkiligas have been returned as kapus, especially in Hosur Taluk, where no Vakkiligas are of immense importance in Mysore state, where they form the backbone of the population.  Three well-marked divisions occur in Salem District (1) Morasu, (2) Kunchiga and (3) Gangadikara.
 

        The Morasu vakkiligas derive their name from the ancient marasu Nad, which comprised the eastern districts of Mysore state and the adjoining taluks of salem and chitoor Districts.  They predominate in Hosur Taluk, and are the only division represented in Krishnagiri.
 
         The morasu Vakkiligas apparently include several sub-castes, among them the Ichi-viralu, or "finger giving," vakkiligas, so-called from the custom which compelled every woman of the caste, previous to piercing the ears of her eldest daughter as a preliminary to betrothal, to have the last joints of the ring and little fingers of her right hand chopped off by the village black-smith's chisel as a sacrifice to the caste god Bandi-Devaru who is by some identified with siva.  The legendary origin of this curious custom is as follows:- ' when the demon Bhasmasura had obtained the power of reducing everything he touched to ashes by severe tapas, he wished to test his power first on god siva, the donor himself.  The diety flied from the demon and hid himself in the fruit of a creeper, which to this day resembles a linga in appearance.  The demon who was pursuing god, suddenly losing sight of the latter, asked a Morasu man who was ploughing in the fields there, in which direction the fugitive had escaped.  The man of the plough wished to evade the wrath of both the mighty parties and while saying he had not observed, pointed with his fingers to the creeper on the hedge which had sheltered the fleeing god.  Just in the nick of time vishnu came to the help of his brother in the shape of a lovely maiden, Mohini.  The Rakshasa became enamoured of her, and like a fool, forgetting the fatal virtue that his bare touch had been endowed with, he was lured by the damsel to place his hand on his own head, and was immediately reduced to a heap of ashes.  Siva now triumphant was about to punish the treachrous rustic  with the loss of his erring finger, but his wife, who had carried his food, begged hard that the deprivation would render him unfit to do his field work and offered two fingers of hers for one of her husband."  The practice is now absolete, having been stopped by the mysore Government , and the women now content themselves with " putting on a gold or silver finger-stall or thimble, which is pulled off instead of the finger itself."

       Kunchiga vakkiligas occur both in Hosur and Dharmapuri Taluks.

       Gangadikara vakkiligas derive their name from the ancient country of Gangavadi.  Denkani-kota and Tagatti are the headquarters of two Nads or Gadis, each under its own Nattu-Kavun-dan, but they are most numerous in Dharmapuri Taluk, where they out number the other divisions of vakkiligas.  The name Gangadikara, however, is not in general use in the taluk, most of the members of the community calling themselves Laddagiri vakkiligas, and they appear to form a separate endogamous group, distinguished from the Gangadikaras proper by the fact that their womenfolk are strict vegetarians.  They are to be found in the villages of Roni-halli, Donnakutta-halli, Ajampatti, Banijagara-hali in pennagaram Divisions.  The significance of the name Laddigiri is not clear.
 
 
       In addition to the above, a settlement of Musuku Vakkiligas exists in Tora-palli, Agraharam, and a community of Dasirmi Vakkiligas at jekeri, both in Hosur Taluk.  Whether these are true sub-castes is uncertain.  A section known as Anchakara vakkiligas is said to occur in Kalapambadi, Erra-palli, Adanur and other villages south of pennagaram.   
 
                               (2) Pastoral castes.

   The pastoral castes are represented by the Tamil Idaiyans, the Telugu Gollas and the kurubas and Gollas tend cattle, the kurubas sheep and goats.  The Idaiyans are strongest in Attur, Uttankarai and Krishnagiri; the Gollas in Hosur, Dharmapuri, Omalur and Attur; the Kurubas in Hosur, Dharmapuri, krishnagiri, Uttankarai, very few indeed occuring in the Talaghat.  This distribution of the pastoral castes shows clearly that grazing is of far greater importance in the Balaghat and Baramahal than in the comparatively poorly-wooded Talaghat.
                               Kurubas

    The Kurubas ore Kurumbars as they are sometimes called, are classed as Urn-kurubas and kadu-kurubas, or Town kurubas and country kurubas .  Those in Salem Districts belong to the former group, and most of them speak kanarese.  The Uru-kurubas are divided into three clearly defined sub-castes, (1) Hosa, also called Halu or Hatti Kurubas, who use a marriage kankanam of cotton, (2) the Hale, also called kambli, Unne or jadi kurubas, whose kankanam is of white, black and yellow wool, and (3) the Ande Kurubas, whose kankanam is of cotton and wool mixed.  Males of these three groups may interdine .  The old kurubas weave kamblis; the New Kurubas tend sheep; the Ande kurubas consider themselves Ande-Ravuts.  Kurubas formed an important fighting element in the armies of Haidar Ali and of the Ankusagiri Poligars, and several chiefs of military origin still remain in the possession of Inamdars of the Ande sub-caste.  Their favourite caste title is Nayaka.
 
     All three divisions are split into exogamous clans called kulas.  The following kulas are reported in Salem District; for the "New" Kurubas, Deva-kulam, Ari-kulam, pisa-kulam, Made-kulam,Sangini-kulam,sanna-kulam, Raja-kulam, for "Old" kurubas, pottu-kulam, Basiri-kulam,Gaudi-kulam, Hege-kulam, Arasukulam, Sangama-kulam,Ala-marattu-kulam.  It would seem that some of these names are not confined to one sub-caste.  A large proportion of them are names of palnts, and the clan so named observe a quasi-totemistic reverence for the plants after which they are called.  The sanku-kulam clan of the Ande kurubas is so named from the chank shell, and it is said that the members of this clan may not use the chanks as a feeding bottle for their babies, a use to which the shell is put throughout south India.
 
       The "old" kurubas distinguish themselves as belonging to the Ballala-Rayan-Vamsam and the Bijjala-Rayan-vamsam.  The "New" kurubas are divided into three groups, named after three week days, Monday,Thursday, and Sunday Kurubas.  Yet another distinction exists, which is said to be  common to all three sub-castes, namely, the Maduve-salu or offspring of regular marriage, the kudike-sal or offspring of informal marriage, and the Basavi-salu or offspring of unmarried girls.  Exogamous clans are said to equal in number the grains in four seers of paddy.
      
       The guru of the Ande kurubas is a Lingayat, and the men of certain clans who exercise priestly functions among them wear a lingam round their neck and abstain from flesh and alcohol.  The Lingayat influence in the caste is, in fact, strong.  At the same time the Ande and "old" kurubas employ Brahman purohits at weddings and funerals, but the "New" kurubas content themselves with purohits of their own caste.

         Males are not allowed to be tattooed.  Among the "New" kurubas, women wear, white cloths, and black cloths are considered inauspicious.  "Old " Kuruba women, on the other hand, invariably wear a black kambli, any other colour being prohibited; the kambli is not thrown over the shoulders, but is tied tightly over the breasts and under the armpits, and secured round the waist with a girdle of coir rope, a fold being made in the kambli to conceal the existence of the rope.  The bodice is worn only by women of the And sub-caste, whose cloths may be of any colour.  After marriage, kuruba women should wear shoes and not walk abroad barefooted.
 
         The "Old" Kurubas observe a curious custom in their annual festival to Bira Devar.  The images are set in a row in an open space and garlanded, and flowers,milk,coco-nuts,etc., are offered to them. such of the worshippers as have vows to perform, garlanded and covered with saffron, dance in front of the deities, and work themselves up into a state of frenzied excitment, and when the climax is reached, the devotees sink to the earth with one leg bent under and the other stretched out in front while the pujari breaks quantities of coco-nuts on their heads.  The operation looks painful, and some of the enthusiastic since as the blow falls, but broken skulls have cracked them and who value the pieces as sacred morsels of food.  For a month before this annual ceremony all the people have taken no meat, and for three days the pujari has lived on milk alone.  At the feast therefore all indulge in rather immoderate eating, but drink no liquor, calling excitedly on their particular God to grant them a properous year".
 
      The Gollas the great Telugu caste of casttle graziers, rank hig
 in the social scale, though, curiously enough, they do not employ Brahman Purohits.  They sometimes call themselves Yadavas, and claim kinship with the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri.  One section of the caste, known as Bokkasa or Bokkusa Gollas, has given up shepherding and taken to guarding treasure as an hereditary occupation; hence the treasury servants who are entrusted with lifting, carrying and packing bullion are officially known as Gollas, though they do not necessarily belong to the Golla caste.  Gollas may mess with Nattans, kaikolars, Vellan chettis and Ravuts, but not with pallis or Tottiyans.  The Salem Gollas trace their origin to Gooty, and a quaint story, is told to explain their migration thence.  When the Gollas were settled at Gooty one of the ruling sovereigns fell in love with a Golla maid and sought her hand in marriage.  Refusal spelt ruin, and the panic-stricken Gollas consented to the match.  A time and place for the wedding was fied, and a marriage pandal erected.  But when, on the wedding day, the Nawab arrived at the bride's house, he found the pandal deserted, save for a dog dressed up in girl's clothes; the Gollas had quitted his kingdom to a man.
 

     The caste exhibits an extraordinary variety of sub-divisions, the exact correlation of which is far from clear.  No less than eight endogamous groups are reported for Salem District alone, namely, (1) Guti (2) Karna, (3) Tumati, (4) manthai, (5) Doddi (6) Sana, (7) Akalu, (8) Mondi.  The caste is also said to be sub divided into seven gotras, most of them associated with plant totems, viz., (1) Mamanthila-vadu, who revere the mavalinga tree, (2) Siru-puvalu-vadu worshipping the nerinji plant, (3) puchanthila-vadu, a section in which black beads and black cloths are forbidden, (4) Vaninthila-vadu, (5) Ariyanthila-vadu, who honour the atti tree, (6) pulavanthila-vadu, who may neither cut nor burn the pulam tree, and (7) bangru-vadu.  All the members of the first four of these gotras are looked on as dayadis and are not allowed to intermarry.  The same theory holds good for the last three gotras, Thus a man belonging to the first batch of gotras must choose his bride from the second batch, and vice versa.
 
    The fishing castes  are represented by the Tamil sembadavans and Telugu Bestas.  Probably a few kanarese Toreyas should be included among one or other of these heads, as they numbered 1,852 in 1901.  About half the sembadavans occur in Tiruchengodu Taluk, the rest being distributed evenly throughout the district.  The Bestas are to Hosur Taluk.

    The chief settlement of Sembadavans is at Edappadi, where they have to some extent abandoned their ancestral occupation as fresh-water fishermen and boatmen in favour of trade and the manufacture of castor-oil and punak.  It appears that the Sembadavans form a homogenous community and recognise no sub-castes.  They are divided into about 96 exogamous clans, called by rather outlandish names, which are said to be derived from tribal heroes.  Caste disputes are settled in the first instance by a panchayat  nominated  by the assembled elders, and presided over by an hereditary kariyastan.  From this panchayat an appeal lies to an officer known as konga-Rayar, who lives in konga-raya-paliyam in kalla-kuruchi Taluk.  The sembadavans employ Brahman purohits for the ceremonies connected with marriage , child birth, puberty house-warming, sraddhas and the 16th day death ceremony, an in the case of Vaishnavites for the mudradharanam, or sealing ceremony, when they are branded in two or three places with a metal sanku or chakram.
     
    The spirits of the dead  are propitiated with animal sacrifice.  The   Sembavadans are specially devoted to the cult of Ankalamman, who is said to have been the daughter of a sembadava girl of whom siva was enamoured.  In connection with her worship a peculiar ceremony is observed.  Once a year the worshipppers assemble at dead of night in a burning ground; cooker rice, plantains and other offerings are laid on a cloth spread on the ground , and sheep, goats, and fowls are sacrified.  Ankal-amman is then worshipped, and the cooked food is distributed among the worshippers.  This ceremony, known as Matana-puja is performed to the beating of a pambai drum.  The pujari gathers five handfuls of the ashes of the burning ground, and mixes them with the sacred ashes of Ankal-amman's shrine, the mingled ashes being afterwards distributed to worshippers.  The ashes and the cooked grain distributed on these occasions are considered a specific against barrenness. 
                              Hunters Vedars
    The hunting castes include the Telugu Vedans and the kanarese Bedas or Boyas, as well as a few Telugu patras.  The vedans according to the Census of 1911 number 4,402, of whom about 2,400 are in Hosur and 1,200 in Krishnagiri Taluk.  No Vedans are returned in the Census of 1911 number ,  In 1901 there were 7,388 Boyas and 4,570 Bedas; in 1911 the Boyas number 8,077 and the Bedas nil.  Apparently there has been some confusion between the Bedas and Vedans, and also between the Beda Boyas and the Odda Boyas.
 
 
    Both Vedars and Bedas come of the same stock and trace their descent to valmiki, who is identified with the the author of the Ramayana.  Valmiki, it is said, was the illegitimate son of a Brahman by a vedar woman and adopted the profession of highwayman.  One day Rama appeared to the Bandit, convinced him of the sinfulness of his life, and converted him to probity.  The reformed robber had twelve sons, who were the ancestores of both Vedars and bedas.  Another eponymous hero, who figures prominently in Vedar tradition and custom, is one Kannayya or kannappa, who is identified by some with one kannappa Nayanar, one of the sixty-three Saivite saints, a tradition which seems to connect them with the Ambalakarans and Valaiyans of Tanjore and Trichinopoly.
 

    Both Vedars and Bedas were originally fighting castes, who spread southwards with the armics of Vijayanagar.  On the downfall of vijayanagar many of their chieftains established themselves as independent poligars; in fact the vedar dynasty of the Kangundi Zamindars still preserves a shadow of authority over the vedars of the eastern Balaghat and Baramahal, as well as on the Javadi hills of Tiruppattur.  Bedas formed the pick of Haidar Ali's army, and several families of these cousin-castes still enjoy Umbilikkai Vaniyams granted to them by former poligars as guardians of the Ghats.
                                 Traders
    The most important trading castes are the Balijas, who number 47,270 and include many communities that would more correctly be described as agricultural or military; and the chettis, who number 33, 636.  The word "chetti" is used as a general term for trade, and covers a multitude of castes.  In a more limited sense the term is applied to a group of sub-castes which all claim to be Vaisyas.  Of these the most important are the Komati vaiyas and next to them is the caste group of the Nagarattu chettis.  Of the non-Vaisya merchants who call most important all the Janappars.  The Nattu-kottai chettis of Deva-kottai are very rare in Salem District.  Other castes which adopt the term "chetti" are the vaniyars who appear to bear some affinity to the Nagarattu chettis the shanars, the Devangas, the lingayats, the Oddars of Attur, the potters of Pennagaram Division and the Senaikkudaiyans.  Desayi chetti is the title of the Balija who presided over the "Eighteen" Right-Hand Castes.
                               
                                 Komatis
 
     The Komatis trace their origin to Ayodhya; 714 families it is said, migrated to penukonda, where a king called Vishnu-vardhana fell in love with a beautiful girl of the caste named Vasavamba.  The Komatis dare not refuse Vishnu-Vardhana's proper of marriage but on the appointed day the maid, her parents and a married couple from each of 102 families immolated themselves on a funeral pyre.  These 102 families are identified as the gotra groups into which the komatis are now divided, the remaining 612 forming the Nagarattu chettis and allied castes.  Personal beauty having thus proved the name of the caste, providence ordained thenceforth that no komati girl should be beautiful.  Vasavamba is now worshipped as the tutelary goddeness of the caste, under the name kanyaka-parameswari, and is regarded as an incarnation of parvati.  The komatis rank high in the social scale, and streenuously live up to their claim to be true Vaisyas.  It is curious, however, that, though their right to wear the ascred thread is undiputed, very few castes will accept water at their hands or take food in their houses.  In some mysterious way they are connected with the Madigas, and are sometimes called "Midday Madigas".  Their caste panchayats are of the Telugu type, presided over by a chetti and a yejaman.  Appeals lie to Brahman Gurus, entitled Bhaskaracharyas, of whom there are several families, each with its own territorial jurisdiction.  Some komatis are saivites and some Vaishnavites, but sect is no bar to intermarriage.  In their customs, though the Vedic ritual is not employed, they closely follow the Brahmanic model, while they observe in addition a multitude of Dravidian rites.  Flesh-eating, adult marriage, widow re-marriage, divorce, etc., are rigorously eschewed, and annual sraddhas are observed, as well as monthly ceremonies during the first year of mouring.  Exchange of daughters in marriage between two families, is prohibited, and menarikam is enforced with a strictness that is proverbial.
 
                                    Nagarattu chettis
 
     The Nagarattu chettis, like the komatis, claim to have migrated from the ancient city of Ayodhya, and they are said to descended from the 612 families in vasavamba's immolation.  Nagarattus are strict vegetarians and wear the sacred thread.  Some of them are saivities, and some are vaishnavas.  They are divided into Tamil, Telugu and kanarese sections, and difference of language is a bar to intermarriage.
 

    The term "Nagarattu" is applied to most of the non-komati chettis of Hosur and krishnagiri Taluks; it also occurs in Salem, omalur, Tiruchengodu and Attur.  The Nagarattu chettis of Hosur are said to speak Kanarese, but elsewhere Tamil is their predominant house language.  The term Beri Chetti, according to the Baramahal Records, is applied to the Telugu section of the Nagarattu chettis, but is krishnagiri and Dharmapuri Taluks, where they occur, they are reported to speak Tamil.  A section known as Noikara chettis is numerous in Tiruchengodu, and occurs also in salem and omalur; they speak Tamil and are described as a divisions of the Nagarattu chettis who trade in ghee.  Certain Neikara chettis of Hosur Taluk, however speak kanarese.  Silakara chettis are found in Hosur, Dharmapuri and Attur.  In Hosur they speak kanarese, in Dharmapuri Telugu, in Attur Tamil.  Nulkara chettis otherwise called vellan chettis, occur in Dharmapuri and in all the Talaghat Taluks.  They are described as Nagarattu chettis who sell twist.  In Salem they call themselves Bhu-Vaisyas.  They are said to wear no punal.  Pattars are reported to be a sub-caste of the vellan chettis who wear a lingam on the neck or on the right arm.  Soliya chettis are common in Tiruchengodu, and also occur in the other Talaghat Taluks, and in Dharmapuri, Acharapakkam and Tovaram-katti chettis are found in Tiruchengodu Taluk, but are not common; the former take their name from their chief settlements at acharapakkam in Madurantankam Taluk, chinglepet puri, and are also found in Attur, Tiruchengodu and Salem; they are described as Nagarattu chettis who exchange coins.  In Salem Taluk there are a few so-called pannirendam chettis, who devote one-twelfth of their income to the god of Ratnagiri, Kulittalai Taluk, Trichinopoly District.
 

    Most, if not all, of the communities above enumerated appear to belong to the Nagarattu caste-group, and there is reason to believe that they are true sub-castes, based on territorial or occupational distinctions.  Most of them acknowledge the supremacy of a Guru entitled Dharma-Sivachar, residing at Nerinjipet in Bhavani Taluk, Coimbatore District, and many of them call themselves Dharma-Sivachar Vaisyas.
 
                                 Janappars
 
     The Janappars are most numerous in the three Baramahal Taluks of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, and Uttankarai; there are a few in Hosur, salem and Omalur, but they do not occur in Attur or Tiruchengodu.  Harur is their chief settlement.  They acknowledge Ayyanar Gurus ar Torapalli, Raya-kota and ketanda-patti.  Their name is said to be derived from the word janappa the cultivation of hemp and its conversion into gunny bags being the hereditaty occupation of their forefathers.  Some members of the caste, living near Kari-mangalam and in Kondayana-haslli near solappadi, still follow the ancestral industry, but most of the caste have abandoned it in favour of trade and money-ending.  These now call themselves Telugas, Telugu being their house language.  The  cattle trade of the Districts is almost entirely in their hands.  Their customs follow the Telugu type.  They worship parvati under the name of Durga, and Ankal-amman is regarded as a special patroness of the caste.  They are divided into 24 clans.
 
                                     Balijas
 
       The Balijas represent the Telugu military and trading element in the District, being evenly distributed throughout the Talaghat and Baramahal, and Totalling over 10,000 in Hosur Taluk.  In the Tamil country they are usually called kavarais or vadugars.  They are popularly classsed as (A) Kota Balijas, who are military in origin and claim kinship with the Emperors and Viceroys of vijayanagar and the kandyan Dynasty, and (B) peta Balijas, who are traders.  Their caste title is Nayudu or, as it is more familarly spelt, Naidu.  Many of them are prosperous merchants and land owners, other attain distinction in the higher ranks of Government service; they provide the army, the police and the peons establishments of Governments offices with some of their best recruits.  Their largest settlements occur in towns and villages such as Sankaridrug, salem, attur and perumbalai, that were held by garrisons under the suzerainty of the Vijayanagar or madura dynasties.
 
      Sub-castes among the Balijas are not easily democrated.  As benefits an immigrant and widely scattered race that prides itself in the purity of the blood, the general law of endogamy is narrowed down to the condition precedent to all marriage contracts, that between the contracting families the existence of a previous matrimonial alliance must be proved, this rule being of course subject to the exogamous principle that the house-names of bride and bridegroom must differ.  Thus the circle within which a man may choose his bride is limited, within the sub-caste, to families that bear house names which have previously been connected by marriage with his own.
 
       Most of the Balijas of Salem District are of the Gajulu section of the peta Balijas.  The only other section of importance is that of the Musuku Balijas, who occur in every taluk, but are not numerous, except in krishnagiri Taluk and pennagaram division.  The Ravuts, a section of Balijas, descended from sowars who served under the petty Rajas of the 18th century, are found in shevapet, omalur, Tiruchengodu and sankaridrug.

       All these three sections appear to be true sub-castes; they interdine, but may not intermarry, and all acknowledge a Vaishnavite Brahman Guru at Tirukkoyilur in South Arcot.  Of the other sections knownin the Districts the sukamanchi Balijas are said to occur rarely in krishnagiri, and two sections known as Eluttukkarar and oppanakkarar are reported from omalur.  All these are true Balijas, and each sections is said to be endogamous.  Pagadala is merely a "house-name" ; in Attur they are called kammas.  Two obscure sections in Hosur Taluks, known as Vengaya Vadugar and puliyambu Vadugar, are said to abstain from the flesh of goats, though they are allowed to eat sheep.  The terms Balla, pusa, perike and Tota sometimes applied to Balijas are reported to be mere occupational terms-which do not indicate true sub-castes.  The Golla Balijas are probably Gollas who call themselves Naidus; the kamma Balijas are perhaps to be identified with the kammas and Linga Balija or sivachar kavarai appears to be a popular term for kanarese Lingayats.  The Musuku Balijas are so called because their women cover their heads when they leave their homes.  Their customs resemble closely those of the Gajulu Balijas.
 
       The customs of the Balijas vary in different places.  They employ Brahman purohits, and formerly recognised the authority of the Desayi chetti, who was of Balijas caste, but their caste polity has suffered disintegration. Their marriage customs are of the Telugu
 
(A) Brahmans

    The Brahmans number 23,371, of whom about one-half (11,905) are Tamils and nearly one-third (6,900) Telugus.  Kanarese Brahmans(3,883) number rather more than half the Telugus.  The remaining 683 are mostly Marathas.

     The number of Brahmans per mile is 13, a lower figure than can be found in any other district like salem, where over 96 percent of the population is illiterate, Brahmans naturally acquire an influence altogether out of proportion to their number.  In general ability they have no rivals.  In the remoter villages of the northern taluks the Brahman karnam is, not unfrequently, the only literate person accessible to the villagers.  He keeps the village Munsit's accounts, writes his reports for him, communicates and explains the Sirkar's orders, settles petty disputes between the villagers, writes petitions for them and acts as a general fac-totum in all business that requires the use of brains.

     The brahman's position in salem District is, as elsewhere, primarily political  in origin.  Epigtaphic records point clearly to the privileged position enjoyed by Brahmans from the time of pallavas to the British Raj.  Without the Brahman, no Hindu Raj ever prospered.  The Brahman followed in the wake of armies, and on him fell the work of settlement and administration.  Many of the village offices are still practically, though not theoretically, hereditary in Brahman families, and the origin of the office is proudly traced to the grant of some Raja whose name is long since forgotten.  Brahman officers are, from time immemorial, the links that connect the village administration with the centre of political power, and any attempt to disturb this connection, like that of Tipu who tried to administer the District by illiterate Mahammadan Tashildars, was sure to meet with disaster.  The ebb and flow of conquest are marked by Brahman settlements founded for the prosperity of the reigning dynasty.
 
     There are few sections of South Indian Brahmans unrepresented in Salem District, but space forbids any detailed account of them.  The ritual of saivite temples is for the most part in the hands of Gurukkals, (commonly called "bell ringers"), who form an important section of the community, though they are rather looked down upon by other Brahmans.  The Golconda viyaparis of krishnagiri Taluk are an interesting community.  They migrated from the Deccan to the Barahmahal with jagadeva Raya, and made themselves useful to each suceeding sovereign power, receiving as reward for their labour grants of land and administrative appoinments.  They are to be an off-shoot of the Telugu Niyogis, and closely connected with the Aruvelu and Nandavariki groups.  Their name they account for by a legend that when migrating southward to escape the Mahammadan cataclysm, they transported the royal treasure in the disguise of merchants.  They call themselves Ayyar, but they are all vaishnavites, and wear the namam.  Another community worthy of note is that of the Marka Brahmans settled in Tali.  Most of the markas are kanarese Madhvas, but some are smartas.  They are a wealthy and ambitious community, but their Brahmanic status is not admitted by other Brahmans, and they are compelled to keep aloof.
 












 
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