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From The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India

By R. V. Russell

Of The Indian Civil Service

Superintendent Of Ethnography, Central Provinces

Assisted By Rai Bahadur Hira Lal, Extra Assistant Commissioner

Macmillan And Co., Limited, London, 1916.

NOTE: The 'Central Provinces' have since been renamed Madhya Pradesh.



."—A low cultivating caste of Berar, who numbered 52,000 persons in 191 i, and belong to the Yeotmal, Akola and Buldana Districts. The Andhs appear to be a non- Aryan tribe of the Andhra or Tamil country, from which they derive their name. The territories of the Andhra dynasty extended across southern India from sea to sea in the early part of the Christian era. This designation may, however, have been given to them after migration, emigrants being not infrequently called in their new country by the name of the place from which they came, as Berari, Purdesi, Audhia (from Oudh), and so on. At present there seems to be no caste called Andh in Madras. Mr. Kitts ^ notes that they still come from Hyderabad across the Penganga river. ' Buchanan, Eastern India, ii. pp. paper by Mr. W. S. Slaney, E.A.C., 924, 943. Akola. ^ This article is mainly based on a ^ Berar Census Report (18S1).

The caste arc divided into two groups, Vartati or pure and Khaltfiti or illci,M'timatc, which take food together, but do not intermarry. They have a large number of exoga- mous septs, most of which appear to have Marathi names, either taken from villages or of a titular character. A few are called after animals or plants, as Majiria the cat, Ringni a kind of tree, Dumare from Dumar, an ant-hill, Dukare from Dukar, a pig, and Titawe from Titawa, a bird. Baghmare means tiger-killer or one killed by a tiger ; members of this sept revere the tiger. Two septs, Bhoyar and Wanjari, are named after other castes. Marriage between members of the same sept is pro- hibited, and also between first cousins, except that a sister's son may marry a brother's daughter. Until recently marriage has been adult, but girls are now wedded as children, and betrothals are sometimes arranged before they are born.

The ceremony resembles that of the Kunbis. Betrothals are arranged between October and December, and the weddings take place three or four months later, from January to April. If the bride is mature she goes at once to her husband's house. Polygamy is allowed ; and as only a well-to-do man can afford to obtain more than one wife, those who have several are held to be wealthy, and treated with respect.

Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted, but the widow may not marry her husband's brother nor any member of his clan. If an unmarried girl becomes pregnant by a man of her own or a superior caste she is fined, and can then be married as a widow. Her feet are not washed nor besmeared with red powder at the wedding ceremony like those of other girls. In some localities Andh women detected in a criminal intimacy even with men of such im- pure castes as the Mahars and Mangs have been readmitted into the community. A substantial fine is imposed on a woman detected in adultery according to her means and spent on a feast to the caste. All the members thus have a personal interest in the detection and punishment of such offences. The dead are usually buried, and water and sugar are placed in a d}'ing man's mouth instead of the sacred objects used by Hindus ; nor are the dying urged to call on Rama. The dead are buried with the head to the south,

in opposition to the Hindu custom.

The Andhs will eat the flesh of fowls and pigs, and even cats, rats and snakes in some localities, though the more civilised have abjured these latter. They are very fond of pork, and drink liquor, and will take food from Kunbis, Malis and Kolis, but not from Gonds. They have a caste panchdyat or committee, with a headman called Mohtaria, and two officers known as Phopatia and Dukria. When a caste offence is committed the Dukria goes to call the offender, and is given the earthen pots used at the penalty-feast, while the Phopatia receives a new piece of cloth. The Mohtaria or headman goes from village to village to decide cases, and gets a share of the fine. The caste are shikaris or hunters, and culti- vators.

They catch antelope, hares, pig and nilgai in their nets, and kill them with sticks and stones, and they dam up streams and net fish. Birds are not caught. Generally, the customs of the Andhs clearly point to an aboriginal origin, but they are rapidly being Hinduised, and in some tracts can scarcely be distinguished from Kunbis. They have Marathi names ; and though only one name is given at birth, Mr. Slaney notes that this is frequently changed for some pet name, and as often as not a man goes regularly by some name other than his real one,

Andh: Deccan

This article is an extract from






Of Merton College, Oxford, Trinity College, Dublin, and

Middle Temple, London.

One of the Judges of H. E. H. the Nizam's High Court

of Judicature : Lately Director of Public Instruction.




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A cultivating and hunting tribe confined to the hilly tracts, which include the Northern parts of Parbhani and Nander and the western part of Adilabad. They appear to be a very remarkable people, with dark complexion, thick lips and prominent check bones. They show, on the whole, a marked aboriginal type of features, re- sembling that of the Gonds, while the fact of their entire occupation of many villages indicates traces of savage independence. On the other hand, their language, customs and religion are those of the Maratha Kunbis. They show respect to Brahmans and have their totemistic sections modelled on those of the Maratha Kunbis. The question arises — what must have been the original affinities of the tribe ?

Possibly, the Andhs are a branch of the Gonds. They seem to have remained in these hills when the inroads of the

Marathas overwhelmed the country and drove the Gonds to the Satpura ranges and the Adilabad highlands. In course of time, the Andhs probably forgot their original connections with the parent tribe and assumed the manners, customs, and language of the Kunbis, in whom they have now become entirely merged.

Beyond a faint recollection that their forefathers came from Mahur and the adjoining districts, the Andhs have no traditions which will throw light upon their origin. It seems highly possible that the word Andh is only a corruption of the Sanskrit 'Andhra', a designa- tion given by the ancient Aryans to an aboriginal tribe dwelling in the Andhra Desh (Wilson, V p. 190). In the Ramayana (IV. 40- 44) and in the Mahabharata, the Andhras have been represented as Dasyus (non-Aryans) inhabiting the regions very nearly occupied by the modern Gonds. It may be believed, therefore, that the Andhras and Gonds are cognate tribes or, in other words, that the Gonds were known by the name of Andhras in ancient times. This view is supported by Manu (X. 34-36) who identifies Andhras with Medas, the term ' Medas ' being, in the opinion of the learned Maratha Brahmans, equivalent to Gonds. (Dr. J. Wilson's " Indian Castes , p. 59.) The question of the origin of the Andhs may, therefore, appear to have two solutions — (i) that the Andhs were separated from the parent tribe before the name ' Gond ' for the Andhras came into common use ; (ii) that the isolated branch was renamed Andhra by the Maratha Brahmans, in consonance with the traditional list of the Indian castes and that the term ' Andhra ' passed in common parlance into Andh by the dropping of the "r." The latter solution appears to be more plausible, for instances of, the fragments of aboriginal tribes being renamed by Aryans are not wanting in the ethnic history of the caste. (Risley's " The People of India", pp. 86-87.)

Internal Structure

The Andhs are divided into two sub-castes, (I) Andhs and (2) Shadu Andhs, or the illegitimate pro- geny of Andhs. The two eat with each other, but do not intermarry. Their exogamous sections are based upon the model of those of the Maratha Kunbis. Most of them are of the territorial character. A few are totemistic, bearing the names of trees and animals. The totems, however, are not taboo to the members bearing the section names. As a rule, marriage within the same section is strictly pro- hibited. A man may marry two sisters, so also may two brothers marry two sisters, the elder brother marrying the elder sister and the younger brother the younger. Marriage with the daughter of a maternal uncle or paternal aunt is permitted by the caste : it is, however, disallowed with a maternal aunt's daughter. Exchange of daughters takes place. Outsiders are not admitted into the community.


The Andhs marry their daughters either as infants, or after they have attained puberty. If a girl becomes preg- nant before marriage, the father of the child is called upon by the 'caste Panchayat to get her married immediately. A girl bereft of parents or relatives is married to a man of her own choice. The Andhs celebrate their wedding in the Maratha fashion, The cere- mony takes place in the bride's house, after midnight, in a marriage pandal of twelve pillars. After the bridegroom has been brought m procession to the bride's house, the couple are made to stand face to face and, a curtain being held between them, the Brahman recites mantras and throws rice over their heads. They are then seated side by side, kankanams, or' bracelets of woollen thread, are tied on their wrists by a washerman and water from the blessed vessel (ravireni) is poured over their heads from the top of the wedding shed. A four-anna piece is afterwards dropped into the vessel and is claimed by the village patel, who is usually an Andh. Polygamy is permitted in theory to any extent but is restricted in actual* life to as many wives as a man can afford to maintain. Widows aft allowed to marry again, but not to the younger or elder brothers of their late husbands. The ritual of a widow's marriage is very simple. At night the widow is presented with a new sari and choli (bodice) and bangles, and the clothes of the pair are knotted together. Divorce is effected, with the sanction of the caste Panchayat, on the ground of the wife's adultery, or the husband's inability to maintain her. Divorced women may marry again by the same ritual as widows.

In matters of inheritance and succession, the Andhs conform to the usages of the local Hindus.


No vestiges of their primitive faith are now discerned in the religion of the Andhs. They worship the Hindu gods and employ Brahmans for religious and ceremonial purposes. Their household gods are Khandoba of Jejuri and Bhavani of Mahur. Ancestors, embossed on metal plates, are also honoured. On Amhil Dwadashi, or the 12th of the lunar half of Chaitra (end of March), Mahadeo is worshipped with offerings of amhil, or gruel prepared from jawari (Indian millet). Besides these principal gods, Andhs appease Mari Ai (the deity who presides over cholera), Sitala, or the deity of smallpox, and other minor deities and a host of ghosts and spirits, with animal offerings.

Disposal of the Dead

Bodies of married persons are burnt, and the unmarried are buried in a lying posture, with the head towards the south. In cases where cremation is resorted to, the ashes are gathered on the third day after death and thrown into a river. The Andhs observe mourning ten days for adults and three days for children, during which they abstain from any, food except dal (pulse) and bread. Sradha is performed on the 13th day after death, on the lunar third of Vaishakha (April) and in the dark half of Bhadrapad (September). The deceased first wife is appeased by the second in the form of Manoi, a vessel of water.

Social Status

Socially, the Andhs rank below the Maratha Kunbis, and above the Dhobi (washerman), Navi (barber) and all the unclelin classes. They will eat food prepared by a Kunbi, though the Kunbi will not take food or water from an Andh. They eat pSrk, fowl, mutton, fish of all kinds, venison, lizards, hare, peafowl and crabs and drink spirituous and fermented liquors. They do not eat the leavings of other people.


The majority of the Andhs are engaged in agriculture and are good and industrious cultivators. Some of them are patels of villages. Many of them are landless day labourers, bringing firewood from the jungles, and collecting wild bees' nests. 'They are'considered bom hunters and, as such, are employed by sports- men in the hunting of large and small game. They make good watchmen.

The following statement shows the number and distribution of

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