Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tradition, Beliefs & Taboos

Even though current customs slightly differ from region to region, some of the below are accepted and followed.

As among many other castes, opprobrious names are given to children. For example, a boy, whose elder brother has died, may be called Pentayya (dung-heap). As a symbol of his being a dung-heap child, the infant, as soon as it is born, is placed on a leaf-platter. Other names are Thavvayya, or boy bought for bran, and Pakiru, mendicant. In a case where a male child had been ill for some months, a woman, under the influence of the deity, announced that he was possessed by the goddess Ankamma. The boy accordingly had the name of the goddess conferred on him.
If there is " leg's presentation " at  childbirth, the infant's maternal uncle should not hear the infant cry until the shanti ceremony has been performed. A Brahman recites some mantrams, and the reflection of the infant's face is first seen by the uncle from the surface of oil in a plate.

When a girl reaches puberty, she has to sit in a room on five fresh palmyra palm leaves, bathes in turmeric water, and may not eat salt.


We practice Caste Endogamy and Clan(Gothra)Exogamy.

A man most frequently marries his maternal uncle's  daughter, less frequently the daughter of his paternal aunt. Marriage with a deceased wife's sister is regarded with special favour. Marriage with two living sisters, if one of them is suffering from disease, is common. In a note on the Medaras of the Vizagapatam district, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that girls are married before or after puberty. A Brahman officiates at the marriage ceremonies. Widows are allowed to remarry once, and the sathamanam (marriage badge) is tied by the new husband on the neck of the bride, who has, as in the Gudala caste, to sit near a mortar. Widow remarriage is permitted. A widow can be recognised by her not wearing the tali, gazulu (glass bangles), and mettu (silver ring on the second toe).

Formerly all the Medaras were Saivites, but many are at the present day Vaishnavites, and even the Vaishnavites worship Siva. Every family has some special person or persons whom they worship, for example, Virullu, or boys who have died unmarried. A silver image is made, and kept in a basket. It is taken out on festive occasions, as before a marriage in a family, and offerings of milk and rice gruel are made to it. Bala Perantalu, or girls who have died before marriage, and Perantalu, or women who have died before their husbands, are worshipped with fruits, turmeric, rice, cocoanuts, etc.

We do not accept bride from other communities and attributes this to the requirement of the occupational skills. In this regard the stereotype is that other caste people are not well versed with necessary skills. In the case of inter caste marriage have to face problems in getting livelihood because basketry is a familial output rather than individual one.

Some of the Saivites bury their dead in a sitting posture, while others resort to cremation. All the Vaishnavites burn the dead, and, like the Saivites, throw the ashes into a river. The place of burning or burial is not as a rule marked by any stone or mound. But, if the family can afford it, a tulsi fort is built, and the tulsi {Oczmjtm sanctum) planted therein. The death pollution is said to last for three days, during which the caste occupation is not carried out. On the third day, a fowl is killed, and food cooked. It is taken to the spot where the corpse was burnt, on which a portion is thrown, and the remainder eaten.


The potency of charms in warding off evil spirits is believed in. For example, a figure of Hanuman the monkey-god, on a thin plate of gold, with cabalistic letters inscribed on it, is worn on the neck. And, on eclipse days, the root of the madar or arka plant {Calotropis gigantea), enclosed in a gold casket, is worn on the neck of females, and on the waist or arms of males. Some members of this, as of other castes, may be seen with cicatrices on the forehead, chest, back, or neck. These are the scars resulting from branding during infancy with lighted turmeric or cheroot, to cure infantile convulsions resulting, it is believed from inhaling tobacco smoke in small, ill-ventilated rooms.

As among many other castes, the SthambaMuhurtham (putting up the post) ceremony is performed when the building of a new house is commenced, and the Deeparathana (lamp-worship) before it is occupied.

Some Beliefs:-

  • Pournami is a sacred day for Medar and is observed monthly once. All the Medar stops work on that particular day. If any body violates the rule will be fined severely. It is the cultural prescribed notion,which is imbibed in their occupation for taking rest during that period.
  • They are said to cut the bamboos in the forest on dark nights, in the belief that they would be damaged if cut at any other time
  • There is no representation of women in their traditional council society. In spite of contribution of equal manpower in preparation of baskets, female folk are not entitled for significant position. They are restricted to enter in the council meeting, unless it is essential in dispute resolution. Women don’t have any role or voice in decision-making aspects are restricted.
  • Presence of women at graveyard and some other works are taboo.
  • The lowest castes with which the Medaras will eat are, they say, Komatis and Velamas. Some say that they will eat with Satanis.
  • They do not, like the Korachas, make articles from the leaf of the date-palm (PJiamix).


Coorg Medara's:-
In the Coorg country, the Medaras are said to subsist by umbrella-making. They are the drummers at Coorg festivals, and it is their privilege to receive annually at harvest-time from each Coorg house of their district as much reaped paddy as they can bind up with a rope twelve cubits in length. They dress like the Coorgs, but in poorer style.* It is recorded by Bishop Whitehead f that, "in Mercara taluk, in Ippanivolavade, and in Kadikeri in Halerinad. the villagers sacrifice a kona or male buffalo. Tied to a tree in a gloomy grove near the temple, the beast is killed by a Meda, who cuts off its head with a large knife, but no Coorgs are present at the time. The blood is spilled on a stone under a tree, and the flesh eaten by Medas."