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Omens and Superstitions of Southern India

Superintendent of the Madras Government Museum and of the Ethnographic Survey of the Madras Presidency


In addition to the observance of penances and fasting, Hindus of all castes, high and low, make vows and offerings to the gods, with the object of securing their good-will or appeasing their anger. By the lower castes, offerings of animals—fowls, sheep, goats, or buffaloes—are made, and the gods whom they seek to propitiate are minor deities, e.g., Ellamma or Muneswara, to whom animal sacrifices are acceptable1. The higher castes usually perform vows to Venkateswara of Tirupati, Subramanya of Palni, Viraraghava of Tiruvallur, Tirunarayana of Melkote, and other celebrated gods. But they may, if afflicted with serious illness, at times, as at the leaf festival at Periyapalayam (p. 148), seek the good offices of minor deities.

1. See Bishop Whitehead, " The Village Deities of Southern India," Madras Museum Bull., 1907, v. No. 3.

"A shrine," Mr F. Fawcett writes2, “to which the Malayalis (inhabitants of Malabar), Nayars included, resort is that of Subramaniya at Palni in the north-west of the Madura district. Not only are vows paid to this shrine, but men, letting their hair grow for a year after their father's death, proceed to have it cut there. The plate shows an ordinary Palni pilgrim. The arrangement which he is carrying is called a kavadi (portable shrine). There are two kinds of kavadi, a milk kavadi containing milk, and a fish kavadi containing fish. The vow may be made in respect of either, each being appropriate to certain circumstances. [Miniature silver kavadis, and miniature crowns, are sometimes offered by pilgrims to the god.] When the time comes near for the pilgrim to start for Palni, he dresses in reddish-orange clothes, shoulders his kavadi, and starts out. Together with a man ringing a bell, and perhaps one with a tom-tom, with ashes on his face, he assumes the role of a beggar. The well-to-do are inclined to reduce the beggar period to the minimum, but a beggar every votary must be, and as a beggar he goes to Palni in all humbleness and humiliation, and there he fulfils his vow, leaves his kavadi and his hair, and a small sum of money. Though the individuals about to be noticed were not Nayars, their cases illustrate very well the religious idea of the Nayar as expressed under certain circumstances.

2. Ibid., 1901, iii. No. 3, 270-1.

It was at Guruvayur (in Malabar) in November 1895. On a high raised platform under a peepul tree were a number of people under vows, bound for Palni. A boy of fourteen had suffered as a child from epilepsy, and seven years ago his father vowed on his behalf that, if he was cured, he would make his pilgrimage to Palni. He wore a string of beads round his neck, and a like string on his right arm. These were in some way connected with the vow. His head was bent, and he sat motionless under his kavadi, leaning on the bar, which, when he carried it, rested on his shoulder. He could not go to Palni until it was revealed to him in a dream when he was to start. He had waited for his dream seven years, subsisting on roots (yams, etc.), and milk—no rice. Now he had had the longed-for dream, and was about to start. Another pilgrim was a man wearing an oval band of silver over the lower portion of the forehead, almost covering his eyes; his tongue protruding beyond the mouth, and kept in position by a silver skewer through it. The skewer was put in the day before, and was to be left in for forty days. He had been fasting for two years. He was much under the influence of the god, and whacking incessantly at a drum in delicious excitement. Several of the pilgrims had a handkerchief tied over the mouth, they being under a vow of silence. [At Kumbakonam in the Tanjore district, ' there is a math in honour of a recently deceased saint named Paradesi, who attained wide fame in the district some years ago. He never spoke, and was welcomed and feasted everywhere, and was the subject of many vows. People used to promise to break cocoanuts in his presence, or clothe him with fine garments, if they obtained their desire, and such vows were believed to be very efficacious3.' At the Manjeshwar Temple in South Canara, there is a Darsana, (man who gets inspired) called the dumb Darsana, as he gives signs instead of speaking. Bishop Whitehead records4 the case of a Brahman, who had taken a vow of silence for twenty-one years, because people make so much mischief by talking. He conversed by means of signs and writing in the dust. One poor man wore the regular instrument of silence, the mouth – lock5—a wide silver band over the mouth, and a skewer piercing both cheeks. He sat patiently in a tent-like affair. People fed him with milk, etc. The use of the mouth-lock is common with the Nayars, when they assume the pilgrim's robes and set out for Palni. Pilgrims generally go in crowds under charge of a priestly guide, one who, having made a certain number of journeys to the shrine, wears a peculiar sash and other gear."

3. "Gazetter of the Tanjore District," 1906, i. 219.

4. Madras Dioc. Mag., November, 1910

5. See Fawcett, Note on the Mouth-lock Vow, Journ. Anthrop. Soc., Bombay, i. 97-102.

In connection with kavadis, it may be noted that, at the time of the annual migration of the sacred herd of cattle belonging to the Kappiliyans (Canarese farmers in the Madura district) to the hills, the driver is said to carry a pot of fresh-drawn milk within a kavadi. On the day on which the return journey to the Kambam valley is commenced, the pot is opened, and the milk is said to be found in a hardened state. A slice thereof is cut off, and given to each person who accompanied the herd to the hills. It is believed that the milk would not remain in good condition, if the sacred herd had been in any way injuriously affected during its sojourn there. The usual vow performed at the shrine of Dandayudhapani or Subramanya near Settikulam in the Trichinopoly district is to carry milk, sugar, flour, etc., in a kavadi, and offer it to the god6. A case is recorded7 from Ceylon, in which a man who was about to proceed with a kavadi to a shrine was held by several men, while a blow with the palm of the hand caught him in the middle of the back, to numb the pain created by the forcing of sharp iron hooks into the fleshy part of the back.

6. "Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly District," 1907, i. 289.

Reference has been made (p. 137) to the offering of hair by devotees at the Palni shrine. When people are prevented from going to a temple at the proper time, hair is sometimes removed from their children's head, sealed up in a vessel, and put into the receptacle for offerings when the visit to the temple is paid. In cases of dangerous sickness, the hair is sometimes cut off, and offered to a deity.

"The sacrifice of locks," Mr A. Srinivasan writes,” is meant to propitiate deceased relations, and the deity which presides over life's little joys and sorrows. It is a similar intention that has dictated the ugly disfigurement of widows. We meet with the identical fact and purpose in the habit of Telugu Brahmans and non-Brahmans in general, sacrificing their whole locks of hair to the goddess Ganga of Prayaga, to the god Venkatesa of Tirupati, and other local gods. The Brahman ladies of the south have more recently managed to please Ganga and other gods with just one or two locks of hair."

Sometimes, in performance of a vow, Patnulkaran (Madura weaver) boys are taken to the shrine at Tirupati for the tonsure ceremony7. Married couples desirous of offspring make a vow that, if a child be granted to them, they will perform the ceremony of the first shaving of its head at the temple of the god who fulfils their desire8, It is said9 that Alagarkovil in the Madura district is such a favourite place for carrying out the first shaving of the heads of children, that the right to the locks presented to the shrine is annually sold by auction.

7. The Patnulkarans claim to be Saurashtra Brahmans.

8. "Gazetteer of the Tanjore District," 1906, i. 71.

9. " Gazetteer of the Madura District," i. 86.

Writing in 1872, Mr Breeks remarked10 that ''about Ootacamund, a few Todas have latterly begun to imitate the religious practices of their native neighbours, and my particular friend Kinniaven, after an absence of some days, returned with a shaven head from a visit to the temple of Siva at Nanjengudi " (in Mysore).

10. " Primitive Tribes of the Nilagiris," 1873, 17

A Toda who came to see me had his hair hanging down in long tails reaching below the shoulders. He had, he said, let it grow long because his wife, though married five years, had borne no child. A child had, however, recently been born, and he was going to sacrifice his locks as a thank-offering at the Nanjengod temple. By the Badagas of the Nilgiris, the fire-walking ceremony is celebrated to propitiate the deity Jeddayaswami, to whom vows are made. In token thereof, they grow one twist or plait of hair, which is finally cut off as an offering to Jeddayaswami.

*By some Gavaras (a cultivating caste) of Vizagapatam, special reverence is paid to the deity Jagganathaswami of Orissa, whose shrine at Puri is visited by some, while others take vows in the name of the god. On the day of the car festival at Puri, local car festivals are held in Gavara villages, and women carry out the performance of their vows. A woman, for example, who is under a vow, in order that she may be cured of illness or bear children, takes a big pot of water, and, placing it on her head, dances frantically before the god, through whose influence the water which rises out of the pot falls back into it, instead of being spilt.

The class of Vaishnavite mendicants called Dasari claims descent from a wealthy Sudra11, who, having no offspring, vowed that, if he was blessed with children, he would devote one to the service of the deity. He subsequently had many sons, one of whom he named Dasan, and placed entirely at the service of the god. Dasan forfeited all claim to his father's estate, and his descendants are therefore all beggars12. In a note on the Dasaris of Mysore13, it is stated that "they become Dasas or servants dedicated to the god at Tirupati by virtue of a peculiar vow, made either by themselves or their relatives at some moment of anxiety or danger, and live by begging in his name. Among certain castes (e.g. Banajiga, Tigala, and Vakkaliga), the custom of taking a vow to become a Dasari prevails. In fulfilment of that vow, the person becomes a Dasari, and his eldest son is bound to follow suit."

11. Sudra is the fourth traditional caste of Manu.

12. " Manual of the North Arcot District," 1895, i. 242.

13. Mysore Census Report, 1901, part i. 519.

It may be noted that, in the Canarese country, a custom obtains among the Bedars and some other castes, under which a family which has no male issue must dedicate one of its daughters as a Basavi14. The girl is taken to the temple, and married to the god, a tali (marriage badge) and toe-rings being put on her. Thenceforward she becomes a public woman, except that she should not consort with any one of lower caste than herself. It may be added that a Basavi usually lives faithfully with one man, and she works for her family as hard as any other woman.

14. Basavi, see article "Deva-dasi" in my "Castes and Tribes of Southern India," 1909, ii. 125-53.

Married couples, to whom offspring is born after the performance of a vow, sometimes name it after the deity whose aid has been invoked, such as Srinivasa at Tirupati, Lakshminarasimha at Sholingur, or some other local god or goddess. At Negapatam, some Hindus make vows to the Miran (Muhammadan saint) of Nagur, and name their child after him. The name thus given is not, however, used in every-day life, but abandoned like the ceremonial name given prior to the Hindu upanayana ceremony. In the Telugu country, the poorer classes of Hindus sometimes promise that, if a son is born to them, they will call him after a Muhammadan Fakir, and, consequently, it is far from uncommon to find a Hindu named Fakirgadu or Fakirappa, with a Hindu termination to a Muhammadan commencement15.

15. "Manual of the Cuddapah District, 1875, 283.

It has been noted that some pilgrims to the shrine at Palni have a skewer piercing both cheeks. It is recorded by Bishop Whitehead16 that ''devotees go to the shrine of Durgamma at Bellary with silver pins about six inches long thrust through their cheeks, and with a lighted lamp in a brass dish on their head. On arriving before the shrine, they place the lamp on the ground, and the pin is removed, and offered to the goddess."

16. Madras Museum Bull., 1907, v. No. 3, 149.

The Bishop was told that the object of this ceremony is to enable the devotee to come to the shrine with a concentrated mind.

A common form of vow made to Mariamman at Pappakkalpatti in the Trichinopoly district is a promise to stick little iron skewers into the body. In performance of vows, the Sedans and Kaikolans (weaver castes) pierce some part of the body with a spear. The latter thrust a spear through the muscles of the abdomen in honour of their god Saha-nayanar at Ratnagiri.

At the annual festival of the goddess Gangamma at Tirupati, a Kaikolan devotee dances before the goddess, and, when he is worked up to the proper pitch of frenzy, a metal wire is passed through the middle of his tongue. It is believed that the operation causes no pain or bleeding, and the only remedy adopted is the chewing of margosa (Melia Asadirachta) leaves and some kunkumam (red powder) of the goddess. If, during a temple car procession, the car refuses to move, the Viramushtis (Lingayat mendicants), who are guardians of the idol, cut themselves with their swords until it is set in motion. There is a proverb that the Siva Brahman (temple priest) eats well, whereas the Viramushti hurts himself with the sword, and suffers much. The Viramushtis are said, in former days, to have performed a ceremony called pavadam. When an orthodox Lingayat was insulted, he would swallow his lingam, and lie flat on the ground in front of the house of the offender, who had to collect some Lingayats, and send for a Viramushti. He had to arrive accompanied by a pregnant Viramushti woman, priests of Draupadi, Pachaiamman, and Pothuraja temples, some individuals from the nearest Lingayat mutt, and others. Arrived at the house, the pregnant woman would sit down in front of the person lying on the ground.

With his sword the Viramushti man then made cuts in his scalp and chest, and sprinkled the recumbent man with the blood. He would then rise, and the lingam would come out of his mouth. Mondi mendicants, when engaged in begging, cut the skin of the thighs with a knife, lie down and beat their chest with a stone, vomit, roll in the dust or mud, and throw ordure into the houses of those who will not contribute alms. It was noted, in a recent report of the Banganapalle State, that an inam (grant of rent-free land) was held on condition of the holder “ripping open his stomach“at a certain festival.

A vow performed in honour of the village goddess at Settikulam in the Trichinopoly district is for the votaries, male and female, to fling themselves on heaps of thorns before her. This vow is generally fulfilled by those cured of disease. It is called mullu padagalam, or bed of thorns17. At the annual fire -walking festival at Nuvagode in Ganjam, the officiating priest sits on a seat of sharp thorns. It is noticed18 by the missionary Gloyer that, on special occasions, some Dombs in Vizagapatam fall into a frenzied state, in which they cut their flesh with sharp instruments, or pass long, thin iron bars through the tongue and cheeks, during which operation no blood must flow. For this purpose, the instruments are rubbed over with some blood-congealing material. They also affect sitting on a sacred swing, armed with long iron nails. Mr G. F. Paddison informs me that he once saw a villager in the Vizagapatam district sitting outside the house, while groans proceeded from within. He explained that he was ill, and his wife was swinging on nails with their points upwards, to cure him.

17. "Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly District," 1907, i. 289.

18. Jeypore, Breklum, 1901.

In the Tanjore district, persons afflicted with disease promise that, if they are cured, they will brand their bodies, go round a temple a certain number of times by rolling over and over in the dust, and offer a pregnant goat by stabbing it through the womb. Sometimes vows of self- mortification are taken in anticipation of relief. Such are undertaking to go without salt in one's food, or to eat without using the hands, until a cure is effected19. At Palni in the Madura district, there is an annual feast at the Mariamman temple, at which people, in performance of a vow, carry in their bare hands earthen pots with a bright fire blazing inside them. They are said to escape burns by the favour of the goddess, but it is whispered that immunity is sometimes rendered doubly sure by putting sand or rice-husk at the bottom of the pot20. Some Dasaris (religious mendicants) go through a performance called Panda Servai, which consists in beating themselves with a flaming torch all over the body.

I am informed by Mr Paddison that some Dombs are reputed to be able to pour blazing oil all over their bodies, without suffering any hurt; and one man is said to have had a miraculous power of hardening his skin, so that anyone could have a free shot at him without hurting him. In the Melur taluk of the Madura district, it is stated that women who are anxious for offspring vow that, if they attain their wish, they will go and have a cocoanut broken on their head by a priest at the temple of Sendurai21. At an annual festival in honour of the god Servarayan on the Shevaroy hills in the Salem district, those Malayalis who wish to take a vow to be faithful to their god have to receive fifteen lashes on the bare back with a stout leather thong, administered by the chief priest.

19. "Gazetteer of the Tanjore District," 1906, i. 72.

20. "Gazetteer of the Madura District," 1906, i. 86-7.

21. Ibid., 86.

The annual festival at the temple of Karamadai in the Coimbatore district is visited by about forty or fifty thousand pilgrims, belonging for the most part to the lower classes. In case of sickness or other calamity, they take a vow to perform one of the following:

(i) To pour water at the feet of the idol inside the temple. Each devotee is provided with a goat-skin bag, or a new earthen pot. He goes to the tank, and, after bathing, fills the receptacle with water, carries it to the temple, and empties it before the idol. This is repeated a number of times according to the nature of the vow. If the vow is a life-long one, it has to be performed every year until death.

(2) To give kavalam to Dasaris (religious mendicants). Kavalam consists of plantain fruits cut up into small slices, and mixed with sugar, jaggery (crude sugar), fried grain, or beaten rice. The Dasaris are attached to the temple, and wear short drawers, with strings of small brass bells tied to their wrists and ankles. They appear to be possessed, and move wildly about to the beating of drums. As they go about, the devotees put some of the kavalam into their mouths. The Dasaris eat a little, and spit out the remainder into the hands of the devotees, who eat it. This is believed to cure all disease, and to give children to those who partake of it. In addition to kavalam, some put betel leaves in the mouths of the Dasaris, who, after chewing them, spit them into the mouths of the devotees. At night the Dasaris carry torches made of rags, on which the devotees pour ghl (clarified butter). Some people say that, many years ago, barren women used to take a vow to visit the temple at the time of the festival, and, after offering kavalam, have sexual intercourse with the Dasaris. The temple authorities, however, profess ignorance of this practice.

On the last day of the Gangajatra festival at Tirupati, a figure is made of clay and straw, and placed in the tope (grove), where crowds of all classes, including Paraiyans, present food to it. Buffaloes, goats, sheep, and fowls are sacrificed, and it is said that Brahmans, though they will not be present, send animals to be slaughtered. At the conclusion of the festivities, the image is burnt during the feast, which last over ten days, the lower orders of the people paint themselves, and indulge in much boisterous merriment. Those who have made a vow to Ganga fast for some days before the festival begins. They wear a structure made of bamboo in the form of a car, which is decorated with paper of different colours, and supported by iron nails pressed into the belly and back. They go about with this structure on their heads. Those who have been attacked by cholera, or other serious disease, make a vow to Ganga, and perform this ceremonial.

A festival, which is attended by huge crowds of Hindus of all classes, takes place annually in the month of Audi (July-August) at the village of Periyapalayam, about sixteen miles from Madras, where the goddess Mariamma is worshipped under the name of Periyapalayaththamman. According to the legend, as narrated by the Rev. A. C. Clayton22,

22. Madras Museum Bull., 1906, v., No. 2, 78-9.

"there was once a Rishi (sage), who lived on the banks of the Periyapalayam river with his wife Bavani. Every morning she used to bathe in the river, and bring back water for the use of the household. But she never took any vessel with her in which to bring the water home, for she was so chaste that she had acquired power to form a water-pot out of the dry river sand, and carry the water home in it. One day, while bathing, she saw the reflection of the face of the sky-god, Indra, in the water, and could not help admiring it. When she returned to the bank of the river, and tried to form her water-pot out of sand as usual, she could not do so, for her admiration of Indra had ruined her power, and she went home sadly to fetch a brass water-vessel. Her husband saw her carrying this to the river, and at once suspected her of unchastity, and, calling his son, ordered him to strike off her head with a sword. It was in vain that the son tried to avoid matricide. He had to obey, but he was so agitated by his feelings that, when at last he struck at his mother, he cut off not only her head, but that of a leather - dresser's wife who was standing near. The two bodies lay side by side. The rishi was so pleased with his son's obedience that he promised him any favour that he should ask, but he was very angry when the son at once begged that his mother might be restored to life. Being compelled to keep his word, he told the son that, if he put his mother's head on her trunk, she would again live. The son tried to do so, but in his haste took up the head of the leather-dresser's wife by mistake, and put it on Bavani's body. Leatherdressers are flesh-eaters, and so it comes about that, on days when her festival is celebrated, Bavani — now a goddess — longs for meat, and thousands of sheep, goats, and fowls, must be slain at her shrine. This legend bears marks of Brahmanic influence. Curiously enough, the priest of this Paraiya shrine is himself a Brahman."

The vows, which are performed at the festival at Periyapalayam, are as follows: —

(i) Wearing a garment of margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, or wearing an ordinary garment, and carrying a lighted lamp made of rice-flour on the head.

(2) Carrying a pot decorated with flowers and margosa leaves round the temple.

(3) Going round the temple, rolling on the ground.

(4) Throwing a live fowl on to the top of the temple.

(5) Throwing a cocoanut in front, prostrating on the ground in salutation, going forward several paces and again throwing the cocoanut, and repeating the procedure till three circuits of the temple have been made.

(6) Giving offerings to the idol Parasurama, cradle with baby made of clay or wood, etc., to bring offspring to the childless, success in a lawsuit or business transaction, and other good luck. In addition, pongal (boiled rice) has to be offered, and by some a sheep or goat is sacrificed. If a vow has been made on behalf of a sick cow, the animal is bathed in the river, clad in margosa leaves, and led round the temple. The leafwearing vow is resorted to by the large majority of the devotees, and performed by men, women and children. Those belonging to the more respectable classes go through it in the early morning, before the crowd has collected in its tens of thousands. The leafy garments are purchased from hawkers, who do a brisk trade in the sale thereof. The devotees have to pay a modest fee for admission to the temple precincts, and go round the shrine three or more times. Concerning the Periyapalayam festival, a recent writer observes that, "the distinctive feature is that the worshippers are clad in leaves. The devotees are bound to wear a garment made of fresh margosa twigs with their leaves. This garment is called vepansilai. It consists of a string three or four yards long, from which depend, at intervals of two to three inches apart, twigs measuring about two feet in length, and forming a fringe of foliage. This string being wound several times round the waist, the fringe of leaves forms a kilt or short petticoat. Men are content to wear the kilt, but women also wear round their neck a similar garment, which forms a short cloak reaching to the waist. To impress on devotees the imperative obligation imposed on them to wear the leaf garment in worshipping the goddess, it is said that a young married woman, being without children, made a vow to the goddess that, on obtaining a son, she would go on a pilgrimage to Periyapalayam, and worship her in accordance with the ancient rite. Her prayer having been answered, she gave birth to a son, and went to Periyapalayam to fulfil her vow. When, however, it was time to undress and put on the vepansilai, her modesty revolted. Unobserved by her party, she secretly tied a cloth round her waist before putting on the vepansilai. So attired, she went to the temple to worship. On seeing her coming, the goddess detected her deceit, and, waxing wroth, set the woman's dress all ablaze, and burnt her so severely that she died."

It is noted by Bishop Whitehead23 that it was formerly the custom for women to come to the shrine of Durgamma at Bellary clad in twigs of the margosa tree. But this is now only done by children, the grown-up women putting the margosa twigs over a cloth wrapped round the loins. At a festival of the village goddess at Kudligi in the Bellary district, the procession is said by Mr F. Fawcett to be headed by a Madiga (Telugu Pariah) naked save for a few margosa leaves. The wearing of these leaves on the occasion of festivals in honour of Mariamma is a very general custom throughout Southern India. Garments made of leaves are still worn by the females of some tribes on the west coast, e.g. the Thanda Pulayans, Vettuvans, and Koragas. Concerning the Koragas, Mr Walhouse writes24 that they ‘‘wear an apron of twigs and leaves over the buttocks. Once this was the only covering allowed them, and a mark of their deep degradation. But now, when no longer compulsory, and of no use, as it is worn over the clothes, the women still retain it, believing its disuse would be unlucky."

23. Madras Museum Bull., 1907, v., No. 3, 149.

24. "Ind. Ant," 1881, x. 364.

"Kuvvakkam in the South Arcot district is known for its festival to Aravan (more correctly Iravan) or Kuttandar, which is one of the most popular feasts with Sudras in the whole district. Aravan was the son of Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers. Local traditions says that, when the great war which is described in the Mahabharata was about to begin, the Kauravas, the opponents of the Pandavas, to bring them success, sacrificed a white elephant. The Pandavas were in despair of being able to find any such uncommon object with which to propitiate the gods, until Arjuna suggested that they should offer up his son Aravan. Aravan agreed to yield his life for the good of the cause, and, when eventually the Pandavas were victorious, he was deified for the self-abnegation which had thus brought his side success. Since he died in his youth, before he had been married, it is held to please him if men, even though grown up and already wedded, come now and offer to espouse him, and men who are afflicted with serious diseases take a vow to marry him at his annual festival in the hope of thereby being cured. The festival occurs in May, and for eighteen nights the Mahabharata is recited by a Palli (Tamil agriculturist)25, large numbers of people, especially of that caste, assembling to hear it read. On the eighteenth night, a wooden image of Kuttandar is taken to a tope (grove) and seated there. This is the signal for the sacrifice of an enormous number of fowls. Everyone who comes brings one or two, and the number killed runs literally into thousands. While this is going on, all the men who have taken vows to be married to the deity appear before his image dressed like women, make obeisance, offer to the priest (who is a Palli by caste) a few annas, and give into his hands the talis (marriage badge worn by women) which they have brought with them. These the priest, as representing the God, ties round their necks. The God is brought back to his shrine that night, and, when in front of the building, he is hidden by a cloth held before him. This symbolises the sacrifice of Aravan, and the men who have just been married to him set up loud lamentations at the death of their husband. Similar vows are taken and ceremonies performed, it is said, at the shrines of Kuttandar, two miles north - west of Porto Novo, and Adivarahanattum (five miles north-west of Chidambaram), and, in recent years, at Tiruvarkkulam (one mile east of the latter place) ; other cases probably occur.26"

25. The Pallis claim to be descendants of the fire race (Agnikula) of the Kshatriyas, and that, as they and the Pandava brothers were born of fire, they are related.

26. "Gazetteer of the South Arcot District," 1906, i. 375-6.

I am informed by Mr R. F. Stoney that, in the Madura district, iron chains are hung on babul (Acacia arabica) trees, and dedicated to the rustic deity Karuppan. At Melur Mr Stoney saw large masses of such chains, which are made by the village blacksmiths. They are very rough, and are furnished at one end with what is said to be a sickle, and also a spear-head. I gather further27 that, in the Melur taluk, the shrine of Karuppan may usually be known by the hundreds of chains hung outside it, which have been presented to the god in performance of vows. The deity is said to be fond of bedecking himself with chains, and these offerings are usually suspended from a kind of horizontal bar made of two stone uprights supporting a slab of stone placed horizontally upon the top of them. The god is also fond of presents of clubs and swords.

27. "Gazetteer of the Madura District," 1906, i. 85.

"Sometimes," a recent writer states, “a big chain hangs suspended from a tree, and the village panchayats (tribunals) are held in the Aiyanar (or Sangali Karuppan) temple. The accused is made to submit to an ordeal in proof of innocence. The ordeal consists in his swearing on the chain, which he is made to touch. He has such a dread of this procedure, that, as soon as he touches the chain, he comes out with the truth, failure to speak the truth being punished by some calamity, which he believes will overtake him within a week. These chains are also suspended to the trees near the temples of village goddesses, and used by village panchayats to swear the accused in any trial before them."

It is narrated28 by Moor that he ''passed a tree, on which were hanging several hundred bells. This was a superstitious sacrifice by the Bandjanahs29, who, passing this tree, are in the habit of hanging a bell or bells upon it, which they take from the necks of their sick cattle, expecting to leave behind them the complaint also. Our servants particularly cautioned us against touching these diabolical bells ; but, as a few were taken for our own cattle, several accidents that happened were imputed to the anger of the deity to whom these offerings were made, who, they say, inflicts the same disorder on the unhappy bullock who carries a bell from this tree as he relieved the donor from."

28. "Narrative of Little's Detachment," 1794, 212-3.

29. Lambadis or Brinjaris, who formerly acted as carriers of supplies and baggage in times of war in the Deccan.

At Diguvemetta in the Kurnool district, I came across a number of bells, both large and small, tied to the branches of a tamarind tree, beneath which were an image of the deity Malalamma, and a stone bull (Nandi). Suspended from a branch of the same tree was a thick rope, to which were attached heads, skulls, mandibles, thigh-bones, and feet of fowls, and the foot of a goat.

Mr Fawcett once saw, at a Savara village in Ganjam, a gaily ornamented hut near a burning-ground. Rude figures of birds and red rags were tied to five bamboos, which were sticking up in the air about eight feet above the hut, one at each corner, and one in the centre. A Savara said that he built the hut for his dead brother, and had buried the bones in it30. It is noted by the Rev. J. Cain31 that, in some places, the Lambadis fasten rags torn from some old garment to a bush in honour of Kampalamma (kampa, a thicket). On the side of a road from Bastar are several large heaps of stones, which they have piled up in honour of the goddess Guttalamma. Every Lambadi who passes the heaps is bound to place one stone on the heap, and make a salaam to it. It is further recorded by Mr Walhouse32 that, when going from the Coimbatore plains to the Mysore frontier, he saw a thorn-bush rising out of a heap of stones piled round it, and bearing bits of rag tied to its branches by Lambadis. In the Telugu country, rags are offered to a god named Pathalayya (Mr Rags). On the trunk-roads in the Nellore district, rags may be seen hanging from the babul (Acacia arabica) trees. These are offerings made to Pathalayya by travellers, who tear off pieces of their clothing with a vague idea that the offering thereof will render their journey free from accidents, such as upsetting of their carts, or meeting with robbers. Outside the temple of the village goddess at Ojini in the Bellary district, Mr Fawcett tells us33, "are hung numbers of miniature cradles and bangles presented by women who have borne children, or been cured of sickness through the intervention of the goddess. Miniature cows are presented by persons whose cows have been cured of sickness, and doll-like figures for children. One swami (god) there is, known by a tree hung with iron chains, hooks — anything iron; another by rags, and so on. The ingenious dhobi (washerman), whose function is to provide torches on occasions, sometimes practises on the credulity of his countrymen by tying a few rags to a tree, which by and by is covered with rags, for the passers-by are not so stiff-necked as to ask for a sign other than a rag; and under cover of the darkness, the dhobi makes his torch of the offerings."

30. Journ. Anthrop. Soc, Bombay, i. 253-4.

31. "Ind. Ant.," 1879, viii. 219.

32. Ibid., 1880, ix. 150.

33. Journ. Anthrop. Soc, Bombay, ii. 272.

On the road to the temple at Tirumala (Upper Tirupati) in the North Arcot district, the goddess Gauthala Gangamma has her abode in a margosa or avaram (Cassia auriculata) tree, surrounded by a white-ant hill. Passersby tear off a piece of their clothing, and tie it to the branches, and place a small stone at the base of the anthill. Occasionally cooked rice is offered, fowls are sacrificed, and their heads and legs tied to the tree. In the Madura district, bits of rag are hung on the trees in which a deity named Sattan is believed to reside34. It is noted by Mr W. Francis35 that, "in some places in the South Arcot district, for example, on the feeder road to the Olakkur station in Tindivanam taluk and near the eighth mile of the road from Kallakurchi to Vriddhachalam, are trees on which passers-by have hung bits of rag, until they are quite covered with them. The latter of the two cases had its origin only a few years back in the construction by some shepherd boys of a toy temple to Ganesa formed of a few stones under the tree, to draw attention to which they hung up a rag or two. The tree is now quite covered with bits of cloth, and beneath it is a large pile of stones, which have been added one by one by the superstitious passers-by."

34. " Gazetteer of the Madura District," 1906, i. 86.

35. "Gazetteer of the South Arcot District," 1906. i. 102.

It is recorded by the Abbe Dubois36 that ''at Palni, in Madura, there is a famous temple consecrated to the god Velayuda, whose devotees bring offerings of a peculiar kind, namely large sandals, beautifully ornamented, and similar in shape to those worn by the Hindus on their feet. The god is addicted to hunting, and these shoes are intended for his use when he traverses the jungles and deserts in pursuit of his favourite sport. Such shabby gifts, one might think, would go very little way towards filling the coffers of the priests of Velayuda. Nothing of the sort: Brahmins always know how to reap profit from anything. Accordingly the new sandals are rubbed on the ground and rolled a little in the dust, and are then exposed to the eyes of the pilgrims who visit the temple. It is clear enough that the sandals must have been worn on the divine feet of Velayuda; and they become the property of whosoever pays the highest price for such holy relics."

36. " Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies " translation by H. K. Beauchamp, 1897, ii. 610.

Mr Walhouse informs us37 that the champak and other trees round the ancient shrine of the Trimurti at the foot of the Anaimalai mountains are thickly hung with sandals and shoes, many of huge size, evidently made for the purpose, and suspended by pilgrims as votive offerings. The god of the temple at Tirumala is said to appear annually to four persons in different directions, east, west, south and north, and informs them that he requires a shoe from each of them. They whitewash their houses, worship the god, and spread rice-flour thickly on the floor of a room, which is locked for the night. Next morning the mark of a huge foot is found on the floor, and the shoe has to be made to fit this. When ready, it is taken in procession through the streets of the village, conveyed to Tirumala, and presented to the temple. Though the makers of the shoes have worked in ignorance of each others' work, the shoes brought from the north and south, and those from the east and west, are believed to match and make a pair. Though the worship of these shoes is chiefly meant for Paraiyans, who are prohibited from ascending the Tirupati hill, as a matter of fact all, without distinction of caste, worship them. The shoes are placed in front of the image of the god near the foot of the hill, and are said to gradually wear away by the end of the year.

37. "Ind. Ant.," 1880, ix. 152.

"At Belur in the Mysore Province," Mr Lewis Rice writes38, "the god of the temple is under the necessity of making an occasional trip to the Baba Budan hills to visit the goddess. On these occasions he is said to make use of a large pair of slippers kept for the purpose in the temple. When they are worn out, it devolves upon the chucklers (leather - workers) of Channagiri and Bisvapatna, to whom the fact is revealed in a dream, to provide new ones."

38."Mysore," 1897, ii. 350.

In order to present the slippers, they are allowed to enter the courtyard of the temple.

On the way leading up to the temple at Tirumala, small stones heaped up in the form of a hearth, and knots tied in the leaves of young date-palms may be seen. These are the work of virgins who accompany the parties of pilgrims. The knots are tied to ensure the tying of the marriage tali string on their necks, and the heaping up of the stones is done with a view to ensuring the birth of children to them. If the girls revisit the hill after marriage and the birth of offspring, they untie the knot on a leaf, and disarrange one of the hearths. Men cause their name to be cut on rocks by the wayside, or on the stones with which the path leading to the temple is paved, in the belief that good luck will result if their name is trodden on by some pious man.

At Tirupati, a number of Balijas are engaged in the red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) wood-carving industry. Figures of deities, mythological figures, miniature temple cars, and domestic utensils, are among the articles turned out by them. Vessels made of red sanders wood carry no pollution, and can be used by women during the menstrual period, and taken back to the house without any purification ceremony. For the same reason, Sanyasis (ascetics) use such vessels for performing worship. The carved figures are sold to pilgrims and others who visit Tirupati, and are also taken for sale to Conjeeveram, Madura, and other places, at times when important temple festivals are celebrated. Carved wooden figurines, male and female, represented in a state of nudity, are also manufactured at Tirupati, and sold to Hindus. Those who are childless perform on them the ear-boring ceremony, in the belief that, as the result thereof, issue will be born to them. Or, if there are grown-up boys or girls in a family, who remain unmarried, the parents celebrate the marriage ceremony between a pair of figurines, in the hope that the marriage of their children will speedily follow. They dress up the dolls in clothes and jewellery, and go through the ceremonial of a real marriage. Some there are who have spent as much money on a doll's wedding as on a wedding in real life.

The simplest form of offerings consists of fruits, such as plantains and cocoanuts. Without an offering of fruit no orthodox Hindu would think of entering a temple, or coming into the presence of a Native of position. The procession of servants and retainers, each bringing a gift of a lime fruit, on New Year's Day is familiar to Anglo-Indians. By the rules of Government, framed with a view to preventing bribery, the prohibition of the receipt of presents from Native Chiefs and others does not extend to the receipt of a few flowers or fruits, and articles of inappreciable value, although even such trifling presents should be discouraged.

As a thanksgiving for recovery from illness, votive offerings frequently take the form of silver or gold representations of the part of the body affected, which are deposited in a vessel kept for the purpose at the temple. They are kept for sale in the vicinity of the temple, and must be offered by the person who has taken the vow, or on whose behalf it has been taken. When a person has been ill all over, a silver human figure, or a thin silver wire of the same length as himself, and representing him, is sometimes offered.

Of silver offerings from temples in the Tamil country, the Madras Museum possesses an extensive collection, in which are included the face, hands, feet, buttocks, tongue, larynx, navel, nose, ears, eyes, breasts, genitalia, etc. ; snakes offered to propitiate the anger of serpents, snakes coiled in coitu, sandals, flags, umbrellas, and cocoanuts strung on a pole.

When litigation arises in Malabar in connection with the title to a house and compound (grounds) in which it stands, a vow is sometimes made to offer a silver model representing the property, if a favourable decree is obtained. Some time ago, a rich landlord offered at the temple a silver model representing the exact number of trees, house, well, etc., and costing several hundreds of rupees, when a suit was decided in his favour.

In connection with the temple at Guruvayur in Malabar, Mr Fawcett writes as follows 39 : —

39. Madras Museum Bull., 190I) iii., No. 3, 266.

"I visited the festival on one occasion, and purchase was made of a few offerings such as are made to the temple in satisfaction of vows—a very rude representation of an infant in silver, a hand, a leg, an ulcer, a pair of eyes, and, most curious of all, a silver string which represents a man, the giver. Goldsmiths working in silver and gold are to be seen just outside the gate of the temple, ready to provide at a moment's notice the object that any person intends to offer, in case he is not already in possession of his votive offering."

A Nayar examined by Mr Fawcett was wearing a silver ring as a vow, which was to be given up at the next festival at Kottiur in North Malabar. Another was wearing a silver bangle. He had a wound in his arm which was long in healing, so he made a vow to the god at Tirupati (Tirumala) that, if his arm was healed, he would give up the bangle at the temple.

A few years ago, a shrine was erected at Cochin for a picture of the Virgin and Child, which attained to great celebrity for its power of working miracles. ''Many stories," Mr Fawcett writes40, "of the power of the picture are current. A fisherman, who had lost his nets, vowed to give a little net, if they were found. The votive offerings, which are sometimes of copper or brass, take strange forms. There are fishes, prawns, rice, cocoanut trees, cows, etc. A little silver model of a bridge was given by a contractor, who vowed, when he found his foundations were shaky, to give it if his work should pass muster. The power of the picture is such that the votaries are not confined to the Christian community. There are among them many Hindus and Mahomedans."

40. The making of a shrine, Calcutta Review, 1899, cviii. 173-5.

In South Canara, silver rats and pigs are offered to protect the crops from destruction by these animals. Silver rice-grains are offered when children do not take their food properly, and silver sheaves of grain if the crop is abundant. At Pyka, brass or clay figures of the tiger, leopard, elephant, wild boar, and bandicoot rat, are presented at the shrine of a female bhutha41 named Poomanikunhoomani, to protect the crops and cattle from the ravages of these animals. The figures must be solid, as the bhuthas would be very angry if they were hollow. A brass figure of Sarabha, a mythological eight-legged animal, which is supposed to be the vehicle of the god Virabhadra, is presented as an offering to some Siva temples in South Canara in cases where a person is attacked with a form of ulcer known as Siva's ulcer. Sometimes a silver lizard is offered at temples, to counteract the evils which would result from a lizard falling on some unlucky part of the body, such as the kudumi (hair knot) of a female. The lizard, associated with the name of Siva, is regarded as sacred. It is never intentionally killed, and, if accidentally hurt or killed, an image of it in gold or silver is presented by high caste Hindus to a Siva temple42.

41. Bhutha, or demon worship, prevails in South Canara, where the villages have their bhutha sthanam or demon shrine.

42. "Cochin Census Report," 1901, part i. 25.

In Malabar, a Brahman magician transfers the spirits of those who have died an unnatural death to images made of gold, silver, or wood, which are placed in a temple or special building erected for them. It is said by Mr F. Fawcett, “to be a sacred duty to a deceased Tiyan in Malabar, who was of importance, for example, the head of a family, to have a silver image of him made, and arrange for it being deposited in some temple, where it will receive its share of worship, and offerings of food and water. The temples at Tirunelli in Wynad and Tirunavayi, which are among the oldest in Malabar, were generally the resting places of these images, but now some of the well-to-do deposit them much further afield, even at Benares and Ramesvaram. A silver image is presented to the local Siva temple, where, for a consideration, worship is done every new moon day. 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 at Tirunavayi or elsewhere."

If a Muhammadan suffers from severe pain in the hand or foot, a vow is sometimes taken to the effect that a silver hand or foot will be taken to the grave of some saint, and put into the treasury which is kept there to meet the expenses of the annual ceremonies of the saint. At Vizagapatam43 there is a celebrated Muhammadan saint, who lies buried by the Durga on the top of the hill overlooking the harbour. He is considered to be all potent over the elements of the Bay of Bengal, and many a silver dhoni (native boat) is presented at his shrine by Hindu ship-owners after a successful voyage. A suit once arose between a Komati boat-owner and his Muhammadan captain during settlement of the accounts. The captain stated that, during a storm off the coast of Arakan, he had vowed a purse of rupees to the saint, and had duly presented it on his return. This sum he charged to the owner of the vessel, whose sole contention was that the vow had never been discharged; the propriety of conciliating the saint in a hurricane he allowed. At Timmancherla in the Anantapur district there is a tomb of a holy Muhammadan named MasthanAli, in whose honour a religious ceremony is held annually in April, which is attended by both Muhammadans and Hindus. The latter make vows at the tomb, which has a special reputation for granting offspring to the childless. The headman of the village, who is a Hindu, brings the first offerings in procession with much ceremony44.

43. " Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam District," 1907, i. 329.

44. "Gazetteer of the Anantapur District,'" 1905, i. 164.

At the annual festival at the temple at Nedamangad in Travancore, which is attended by large numbers of the lower classes, the worshippers are said by the Rev. S. Mateer45 to "bring with them wooden models of cows covered, in imitation of shaggy hair, with ears of rice. Many of these images are brought, each in a separate procession from its own place. The headmen are finely dressed with cloths stained purple at the edge. The image is borne on a bamboo frame, accompanied by a drum," and carried round the temple. The Gudigars (woodcarvers) at Udipi in South Canara make life-size wooden buffaloes and large human figures as votive offerings for the Iswara Temple at Hiriadkap, where they are set up in a row. By the Savaras of Vizagapatam, rudely carved and grotesque wooden representations of human beings, monkeys, lizards, parrots, peacocks, guns, pickaxes, daggers, etc., are dedicated to the tribal deity. They would not sell them to the district officer who acquired them on my behalf, but parted with them on the understanding that they would be worshipped by the Sirkar (Government). In like manner, the fishermen of the Ganjam coast objected to specimens of the gods which are placed in little shrines on the sea-shore being sent to me, till they were told that it was because the Government had heard of their devotion to their gods that they wanted to have some of them in Madras. The gods, which are made in clay and wood, include Bengali Babu riding on a black horse, who is believed to bless the fishermen, secure large hauls of fish for them, and protect them against danger when out fishing. It has been observed that this affinity between the Ganjam fishermen and the Bengali Babu, resulting in the apotheosis of the latter, is certainly a striking example of the catholicity of hero-worship, and it would be interesting to know how long, and for what reasons the conception of protection has appealed to the followers of the piscatory industry. It was Sir George Campbell, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, who compelled his Bengali officials, much against their inclination, to cultivate the art of equitation.

45. Native Life in Travancore," 1883.

I am informed by Mr G. V. Ramamurthi Pantulu that the Savaras attend the markets or fairs held in the plains, or at the foot of the ghats, to purchase salt and other articles. If a Savara is taken ill at the market or on his return thence, he attributes the illness to a spirit of the market called Biradi Sonum. The bulls which carry the goods of the Hindu merchants to the market are supposed to convey the spirit. In propitiating it, the Savara makes an image of a bull in straw, and, taking it out of his village, leaves it on the footpath, after a pig has been sacrificed. Owners of cattle take the animals when sick round the sacred hill at Tirukazhukunram in performance of a vow, in the belief that their health will be thus restored.

"A Brahmini bull," Mr A. Srinivasan writes, “is dedicated to the god Venkateswara of Tirupati, for the benefit of the living in fulfilment of vows. The act of dedication and release is preceded by elaborate rituals of marriage, as among men and women. The bride, which should be a heifer that has not calved, is furnished by the father-in-law of the donor. The heifer is united in holy wedlock to the bullock, after formal chanting of mantrams, by the tying of the tali and toe-rings to the neck. In this sham marriage, the profuse ornamentation of the couple with saffron (turmeric) and red powder, the pouring of rice on their heads, and a procession through the streets with music, are conspicuous features."

I am told that, if the devotee cannot afford a live animal, a mimic representative is made in rice.

Painted hollow images are made by special families of Kusavans (potters) known as pujari (priest), who, for the privilege of making them, have to pay an annual fee to the headman, who spends it on a festival at the caste temple. When a married couple are anxious to have female offspring, they take a vow to offer figures of the seven virgins (Saptha Kannimar), who are represented all seated in a row. If a male or female recovers from cholera, smallpox, or other severe illness, a figure of the corresponding sex is offered. A childless woman makes a vow to offer up the figure of a baby, if she brings forth offspring. Figures of animals—cattle, horses, sheep, etc.—are offered at the temple when they recover from sickness, or are recovered after they have been stolen. Horses made of clay, painted red and other colours, are set up in the fields to drive away demons, or as a thank-offering for recovery from sickness, or any piece of good luck. The villagers erect these horses in honour of the popular deity Ayanar, the guardian deity of the fields, who is a renowned huntsman, and is believed, when, with his wives Purna and Pushkala, he visits the village at night, to mount the horses, and ride down the demons. Ayanar is said46 to be the special deity of the Kusavan caste. Kusavans are generally the pujaris at his temples, and they make the earthenware, and brick and mortar horses and images, which are placed before these buildings. The pupils of the eyes of the various images are not painted in till they are taken to the temple, where offerings of fruit, etc., are first made. Even the pupils of a series of images which were specially made for me were not painted at the potter's house, but in the verandah of the traveller's bungalow where I was staying. A very interesting account of the netra mangalya, or ceremony of painting the eyes of images, as performed by craftsmen in Ceylon, has been published by Mr A. K. Coomaraswamy47. Therein he writes that “by far the most important ceremony connected with the building and decoration of a vihara (temple), or with its renovation, was the actual netra mangalya or eye ceremonial. The ceremony had to be performed in the case of any image, whether set up in a vihara or not. Even in the case of flat paintings it was necessary. D. S. Muhandiram, when making for me a book of drawings of gods according to the Rupavaliya, left the eyes to be subsequently inserted on an auspicious occasion, with some simpler form of the ceremony described."

46. " Gazetteer of the Madura District," 1906, i. 102.

47. " Mediaeval Sinhalese Art," 1908, 70-75.

On this subject, Knox writes as follows48: —

48. Philalethes, “History of Ceylon," 1817, 163.

"Some, being devoutly disposed, will make the image of this god (Buddha) at their own charge. For the making whereof they must bountifully reward the Founder. Before the eyes are made, it is not accounted a god, but a lump of ordinary metal, and thrown about the shop with no more regard than anything else. But, when the eyes are to be made, the artificer is to have a good gratification, besides the first agreed upon reward. The eyes being formed, it is thenceforward a god. And then, being brought with honour from the workman's shop, it is dedicated by solemnities and sacrifices, and carried with great state into the shrine or little house, which is before built and prepared for it."

Putting money into a receptacle (undi) as an offering to a particular deity is a very common custom. In the case of a popular god, such as the one at Tirumala, an earthen pot is sometimes replaced by a copper money-box or iron safe. In South Canara there was a well-to-do family, the members of which kept on depositing coins in the family undi, which were set apart for the Tirumala god during a number of generations. Not only in cases of sickness, but even when a member of the family went to a neighbouring village, and returned safely, a few coins were put into the undi. For some reason, the opening of the undi, and offering of its contents at Tirumala, was postponed, and, when it was finally opened, it was found to contain a miscellaneous collection of coins, current and uncurrent. When a temple is far away, and those who wish to make offerings thereat cannot, owing to the expense of the journey or other reason, go there themselves, the offerings are taken by a substitute. If the god to whom the offering is made is Srinivasa of Tirumala, a small sum of money must be offered as compensation for not taking it in person. The god is sometimes called Vaddi Kasulu Varu, in allusion to the money (kasu) or interest. In some large towns, in the months of July and August, parties of devotees may be seen wandering about the streets, and collecting offerings to the god, which will be presented to him in due course. If a Kelasi (barber) in South Canara is seriously ill, he sometimes undertakes a vow to beg from door to door, and convey the money thus collected to Tirumala. In his house he keeps a small closed box with a slit in the lid, through which he drops a coin at every stroke of misfortune, and the contents are eventually sent to the holy shrine49. A few years ago, a Native complained to the police that about seven hundred rupees had been stolen from some brass pots, which he kept in a separate room of his house. The money, he stated, was dedicated to the Tirumula temple, and was kept in the pots buried in paddy (unhusked rice). He himself had put in about fifty rupees during the time that the pots had been in his charge, either as an annual contribution, or on occasions of sickness. His mother stated that it had been a custom in the family to put money into the vessel for several generations, and she had never seen the pots opened.

49. M. Bapu Rao, Madras Christian Coll. Mag., April 1894, xi.

It is whispered that Kalian dacoits invoke the aid of their deity Alagarswami, when they are setting out on marauding expeditions, and, if they are successful therein, put part of their ill - gotten gains into the offertory box, which is kept at his shrine50. In this connection, the Rev. J. Sharrock states that ''there is an understanding that, if their own village gods help them in their thefts, they are to have a fair share of the spoil, and, on the principle of honour among thieves, the bargain is always kept. When strange deities are met with on their thieving expeditions, it is usual to make a vow that, if the adventure turns out well, part of the spoil shall next day be left at the shrine of the god, or be handed over to the pujari of that particular deity. They are afraid that, if this precaution be not taken, the god may make them blind, or cause them to be discovered, or may go so far as to knock them down, and leave them to bleed to death."

The most popular of the Muhammadan saints who are buried at Porto Novo, where a considerable number of Marakkayars (Muhammadans) are engaged as sailors, “is one Malumiyar, who was apparently in his lifetime a notable sea-captain. His fame as a sailor has been magnified into the miraculous, and it is declared that he owned ten or a dozen ships, and used to appear in command of all of them simultaneously. He has now the reputation of being able to deliver from danger those who go down to the sea in ships, and sailors setting out on a voyage, or returning from one in safety, usually put an offering in the little box kept at his darga, and these sums are expended in keeping that building lighted and whitewashed. Another curious darga in the town is that of Araikasu Nachiyar, or the one pie lady. Offerings to her must on no account be worth more than one pie (tI^¥ of a rupee) ; tributes in excess of that value are of no effect. If sugar for so small an amount cannot be procured, the devotee spends the money on chunam (lime) for her tomb, and this is consequently covered with a superabundance of whitewash. Stories are told of the way in which the valuable offerings of rich men have altogether failed to obtain her favour, and have had to be replaced by others of the regulation diminutive dimensions.50"

50. " Gazetteer of the South Arcot District," 1906, i. 278.

The chief god of the Dombs of Vizagapatam is said51 to be represented by a pie piece placed in or over a new earthen pot smeared with rice and turmeric powder. It is said52 that Muhammadans, belonging to the lower classes, consult panchangam Brahmans about the chances of success in their enterprises. Some of these Brahmans send half the fee so obtained to the Muhammadan mosque at Nagur near Negapatam, and will even offer sugar and flowers at that shrine, though they endeavour to excuse the act by saying that the saint was originally a Brahman.

51. F. Fawcett, Man, 1901, i., No. 29, p. 37.

52. "Madras Census Report," 1901, part i. 134.

I once saw a Muhammadan at Tumkur in Mysore, whither he had journeyed from Hyderabad, who had a rupee tied round his arm in token of a vow that, if he returned safe from plague and other ills to his own country, he would give money in charity. When a Muhammadan falls ill, a rupee and a quarter is sometimes done up in a red cloth, and tied round the arm, to be given to the poor on recovery. Members of the poorer classes tie an anna and a quarter in like manner, after performing a fateha ceremony. Should the sickness of a Hindu be attributed to a god or goddess, a vow is made, in token whereof a copper or silver coin is wrapped up in a piece of cloth dipped in turmeric paste, and kept in the house, or tied to the neck or arm of the sick person. A cock may be waved round the head of the patient, and afterwards reared in the house, to be eventually offered up at the shrine of the deity. A Bedar, whom I saw at Hospet in the Bellary district, had a quarter anna rolled up in cotton cloth, which he wore on the upper arm in performance of a vow.

In an account of the cock festival at Cranganore in Malabar, whereat vast numbers of cocks are sacrificed, Mr Gopal Panikkar records53 that, "when a man is taken ill of any infectious disease, his relations generally pray to the goddess (at Cranganore) for his recovery, solemnly covenanting to perform what goes by the name of a thulabharam (or thulupurushadanam)54 ceremony. This consists in placing the patient in one of the scalepans of a huge balance, and weighing him against gold, or, more generally, pepper (and sometimes other substances), deposited in the other scale - pan. Then this weight of the substance is offered to the goddess. This has to be performed right in front of the goddess in the temple yard."

53. " Malabar and its Folk," Madras, 2nd ed., 133.

54. Thula (scales), purusha (man), danam (gift).

At Mulki in South Canara there is a temple of Venkateswara, which is maintained by Konkani Brahmans. A Konkani Brahman, who is attached to the temple, becomes inspired almost daily between lo and ii a.m., immediately after worship, and people consult him. Some time ago, a rich merchant from Gujarat consulted the inspired man as to what steps should be taken to enable his wife to be safely delivered. He was told to take a vow that he would present to the god of the temple, silver, sugarcandy, and date fruits, equal in weight to that of his wife. This he did, and his wife was delivered of a male child. The cost of the ceremonial is said to have been five thousand rupees. In the thulabharam ceremony as performed by the Maharajas of Travancore55, they are weighed against gold coins, called thulabhara kasu, specially struck for the occasion, which are divided among the priests who performed the ceremony, and Brahmans.

55. See Shungoony Menon, " History of Travancore," 1878, 58-72.

The following quaint custom, which is observed at the village of Pullambadi in the Trichinopoly district, is described by Bishop Whitehead56.

56. Madras Diocesan Record, October, 1905.

"The goddess Kulanthal Amman has established for herself a useful reputation as a settler of debts. When a creditor cannot recover a debt, he writes down his claim on a scroll of palm - leaves, and offers the goddess a part of the debt, if it is paid. The palmyra scroll is hung up on an iron spear in the compound of the temple before the shrine. If the claim is just, and the debtor does not pay, it is believed that he will be afflicted with sickness and bad dreams. In his dreams he will be told to pay the debt at once, if he wishes to be freed from his misfortunes. If, however, the debtor disputes the claim, he draws up a counter -statement, and hangs it on the same spear. Then the deity decides which claim is true, and afflicts with sickness and bad dreams the man whose claim is false. When a claim is acknowledged, the debtor brings the money, and gives it to the pujari, who places it before the image of Kulanthal Amman, and sends word to the creditor. The whole amount is then handed over to the creditor, who pays the sum vowed to the goddess into the temple coffers in April or May. So great is the reputation of the goddess, that Hindus come from about ten miles round to seek her aid in recovering their debts. The goddess may sometimes make mistakes, but, at any rate, it is cheaper than an appeal to an ordinary court of law, and probably almost as effective as a means of securing justice. In former times, no written statements were presented; people simply came and represented their claims by word of mouth to the deity, promising to give her a share. The custom of presenting written claims sprang up about thirty years ago, doubtless through the influence of the Civil Courts. Apparently more debts have been collected since this was done, and more money has been gathered into the treasury."

It is noted by the Rev. A. Margoschis57 that ''the Hindus observe a special day at the commencement of the palmyra season (in Tinnevelly), when the jaggery season begins. Bishop Caldwell adopted the custom, and a solemn service in church was held, when one set of all the implements used in the occupation of Palmyra-climbing was brought to the church, and presented at the altar. Only the day was changed from that observed by the Hindus. The perils of the palmyra-climber are great, and there are many fatal accidents by falling from trees forty to sixty feet high, so that a religious service of the kind was particularly acceptable and peculiarly appropriate to our people."

57. "Christianity and Caste," 1893.

The story is told by Bishop Caldwell of a Shanar (toddy-drawer) who was sitting upon a leaf-stalk at the top of a palmyra palm in a high wind, when the stalk gave way, and he came down to the ground safely and quietly sitting on the leaf, which served the purpose of a natural parachute.

The festival of Ayudha Puja (worship of tools or implements) is observed by all Hindu castes during the last three days of the Dasara or Navarathri in the month of Purattasi (September - October). It is a universal holiday for all Hindu workmen. Even the Brahman takes part in this puja. His tools, however, being books, it is called Saraswati puja, or worship to the goddess or god of learning, who is either Saraswati or Hayagriva. Reading books and repetition of Vedas must be done, and, for the purpose of worship, all the books in a house are piled up in a heap. Non-Brahmans clean the various implements used by them in their daily work, and worship them. The Kammalans (artisans) clean their hammers, pincers, anvil, blowpipe, etc.; the Chettis (merchants) clean their scales and weights, and the box into which they put their money. The racket-marker at the Madras Club decorates the entrance to the scoring-box in which his rackets are kept, with a festoon of mango leaves. The weaving and agricultural classes will be seen to be busy with their looms and agricultural implements. Fishermen pile up their nets for worship. Even the bandywala (cart-driver) paints red and white stripes on the wheels and axles. I have myself been profusely garlanded when present as a guest at the elaborate tool-worshipping ceremony at the Madras School of Arts, where puja was done to a bust of the late Bishop Gell set up on an improvised altar, with a cast of Saraswati above, and various members of the Hindu Pantheon around.

At the festival held by the Koyis of the Godavari district in propitiation of a goddess called Pida, very frequently offerings promised long before are sacrificed, and eaten by the pujari. It is not at all uncommon for a Koyi to promise to offer a seven-horned male (i.e. a cock) as a bribe to be let alone, a two-horned male (i.e. a goat) being set apart by more wealthy or more fervent suppliants58. When smallpox or other epidemic disease breaks out in a Gadaba village in Vizagapatam, a little go-cart on wheels is constructed. In this a clay image, or anything else holy, is placed, and it is taken to a distant spot, and left there. It is also the custom, when cholera or smallpox is epidemic in the same district, to make a little car, "on which are placed a grain of saffron-stained59 rice for every soul in the village, and numerous offerings such as little swings, pots, knives, ploughs, and the like, and the blood of certain sacrificial victims, and this is then dragged with due ceremony to the boundary of the village. By this means the malignant essence of the deity who brings smallpox or cholera is transferred across the boundary. The neighbouring villagers naturally hasten to move the car on with similar ceremony, and it is thus dragged through a whole series of villages, and eventually left by the roadside in some lonely spot60."

58. Rev. J. Cain, Madras Christiati Coll. Mag., 1887-8, v. 358.

59. In Southern India, turmeric {Curcuma) is commonly called saffron (Crocus).

60. "Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam District," 1907, i. 75.

Marching on one occasion, towards Hampi in the Bellary district, where an outbreak of cholera had recently occurred, I came across two wooden gods on wheels by the roadside, to whom had been offered baskets of fruit, vegetables, earthen pots, bead necklets, and bangles, which were piled up in front of them. It is recorded61 by Bishop Whitehead that, when an epidemic breaks out in a certain village in the Telugu country, “the headman of the village gets a new earthenware pot, besmears it with turmeric and kunkuma (red powder), and puts inside it some clay bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, three pieces of charcoal, three pieces of turmeric, three pieces of incense, a piece of dried cocoanut, a woman's cloth, and two annas worth of coppers—a strange collection of miscellaneous charms and offerings. The pot is then hung up on a tree near the image of the village deity, as a pledge that, if the epidemic disappears, the people will celebrate a festival."

61. Madras Museum Bull., 1907, v., No. 3, 134.

It is further recorded by Bishop Whitehead62 that, during the festival of Mariamma at Kannanur in the Trichinopoly district, " many people who have made vows bring sheep, goats, fowls, pigeons, parrots, cows, and calves, to the temple, and leave them in the compound alive. At the end of the festival, these animals are all sold to a contractor. Two years ago, they fetched Rs. 400—a good haul for the temple."

62. Ibid., 171.

Between the Madras museum and the Government maternity hospital, a small municipal boundary stone has been set up by the side of the road. To this stone supernatural powers are attributed, and it is alleged that in a banyan tree in a private garden close by a Muni lives, who presides over the welfare of the patients in the hospital, and must be propitiated if the pregnant woman is to get over her confinement without complications. Women vow that they will, if all goes well, give a cocoanut, betel, or flowers when they leave. Discharged patients can be seen daily, going to the stone and making offerings. On the day of their discharge, their friends bring camphor and other articles, and the whole family goes to the stone, where the camphor is burnt, a cocoanut broken, and perhaps some turmeric or flowers placed on it. The new-born child is placed on the bare ground in front of the stone, and the mother, kneeling down, bows before it. The foreheads of both mother and child are marked with the soots from the burning camphor. If her friends do not bring the requisite articles, the woman goes home, and returns with them to do puja to the stone, or it is celebrated at a temple or her house. The offerings are removed by those who present them, or by passers-by on the road.

The Kudubi cutch (catechu) makers of South Canara, before the commencement of operations, select an Areca Catechu tree, and place a sword, an axe, and a cocoanut on the ground near it. They prostrate themselves before the tree, with hands uplifted, burn incense, and break cocoanuts. The success of the operations is believed to depend on the good-will of a deity named Siddedevaru. Before they commence work, the Kudubis make a vow that, if they are successful, they will offer a fowl.

'*A palmyra tree in the jungle near Ramnad with seven distinct trunks, each bearing a goodly head of fan-shaped leaves is," General Burton writes63, ''attributed to the action of a deity, and stones smeared with oil and vermilion, broken cocoanuts, and fowl's feathers lying about, testify that puja and sacrifice were performed here."

63. "An Indian Olio," 79-80.

On the Rangasvami peak on the Nilgiris are two rude walled enclosures sacred to the god Ranga and his consort, within which are deposited various offerings, chiefly iron lamps and the notched sticks used as weighing-machines. The hereditary priest is an Irula (jungle tribesman)64. Certain caves are regarded by the Muduvars of the Travancore hills as shrines, wherein spear-heads, tridents, and copper coins are placed, partly to mark them as holy places, and partly as offerings to bring good luck.

64. " Gazetteer of the Nilgiris," 1908, i. 340.

Prehistoric stone cells, found in the bed of a river, are believed to be the thunderbolts of Vishnu, and are stacked as offerings by the Malaialis of the Shevaroy hills in their shrines dedicated to Vigneswara the elephant god, who averts evil, or in little niches cut in rocks.

Of a remarkable form of demon worship in Tinnevelly, Bishop Caldwell wrote that65 "an European was till recently worshipped as a demon. From the rude verses which were sung in connection with his worship, it would appear that he was an English officer, who was mortally wounded at the taking of the Travancore lines in 1809, and was buried about twenty-five miles from the scene of the battle in a sandy waste, where, a few years ago, his worship was established by the Shanans of the neighbourhood. His worship consisted in the offering to his manes of spirituous liquors and cheroots."

65. "The Tinnevelly Shanars," 1849.

A similar form of worship, or propitiation of demons, is recorded66 by Bishop Whitehead from Malabar. He was told that "the spirits of the old Portuguese soldiers and traders are still propitiated on the coast with offerings of toddy and cheroots. The spirits are called Kappiri (probably Kaffirs or foreigners). This superstition is dying out, but is said to be common among the fishermen of the French settlement of Mai (Mahe)."

66. Madras Dioc. Mag., March, 1903.

On one occasion, a man who had been presented with two annas as the fee for lending his body to me for measurement, offered it, with flowers and a cocoanut, at the shrine of the village goddess, and dedicated to her another coin of his own as a peace-offering, and to get rid of the pollution caused by my money.

1.  William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’

2.  MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler - A demystification!

3.  Native life in Travancore by Rev. Samuel Mateer

4.  Castes and Tribes of Southern India by Edgar Thurston

5. A commentary on Kamasutra

6. Feudal languages! What are they?

7. Software codes of mantra, tantra &c.

8. Indian culture! What is it exactly?

9. You and your star by CHEIRO

10. English Classics Illustrated

A small annotated commentary on this book can be seen in the book:

Software codes of mantra

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