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Title: The Todas

Author: W. H. R. Rivers

Release date: October 8, 2023 [eBook #71828]

Language: English

Original publication: London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1906

Credits: Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at for Project Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Newly Designed Front Cover.




Publisher’s monogram.


Rivers’s Todas.

Rivers’s Todas.

D. R. R. Clark, Ld. Printers, Edinburgh


Original title-page.


All rights reserved


Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,



It has been my object in writing this book to make it, not merely a record of the customs and beliefs of a people, but also a demonstration of anthropological method. The great need of anthropology at the present time is for more exact method, not only in collecting material, but also in recording it, so that readers may be able to assign its proper value to each fact, and may be provided with definite evidence which will enable them to estimate the probable veraciousness and thoroughness of the record.

With this idea in my mind I have tried to describe as fully as possible the way in which my account has been built up, and have been careful to point out the different degrees of trustworthiness of different portions of my story. Perhaps I have been so anxious to make it clear when my record is of doubtful value that sometimes I may have laid undue stress on its uncertainties and deficiencies.

I have tried to make a clear distinction between my description of Toda custom and belief, and any theoretical conclusions drawn by myself, and have kept the latter for sections at the ends of chapters or for special chapters, of which those numbered xi, xix, xxix and xxx are the most important.

It may be thought by some that the book is unduly loaded with minute detail, and I am myself aware that I have often complicated, perhaps even obscured, the story I am telling by the mass of detail with which it is accompanied. I have had, [vi]however, no scruples on this score, partly because I wished my readers thoroughly to grasp the nature of the material on which my account is based, but still more, because details which may seem insignificant or trivial are often of great importance in the comparative study of custom and belief.

I have not attempted such a comparative study of Toda institutions. It was often very tempting to suggest resemblances with the practices of other peoples of the present or the past, but the result would have been to swell the book to unwieldy dimensions, and perhaps to have obscured the description of the life of the people. In giving parallels for Toda custom I have therefore limited myself to examples from other parts of India, and even here I have only dealt with a few resemblances which illustrate certain suggestions made in the final chapter on the origin and affinities of the Toda people.

In conclusion, I am very glad to express my gratitude for help received from many sources. The researches on which the book is based were undertaken in consequence of the award to myself of the income of the Gunning Fund of the Royal Society for the years 1901–2, and my work was also assisted by a grant from the British Association. In India I received every assistance from those whose official positions gave them the means of helping me, and my thanks are especially due to Mr. Edgar Thurston, whose kind interest and assistance I cannot sufficiently acknowledge. I owe much to the care and attention with which my two interpreters, P. Samuel and Albert Urrilla, performed their duties, and I am greatly indebted to the managers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society at Ootacamund for the services of the former, and to Mr. C. M. Mullaly and Mr. Hadfield for giving the latter leave from his forest duties in order that he might help me.

Of friends in England I am especially indebted to Dr. C. S. Myers, who kindly read nearly the whole of the book in proof; to Syed Ali Bilgrami for information on various points connected with Indian custom; to Don M. da Zilva [vii]Wickramasinghe for reading Chapter xxv, dealing with the language; and to Mr. H. N. Webber for help, especially in the revision of the genealogical tables.

Most of the illustrations in the book are from photographs taken under my direction by Messrs. Wiele and Klein of Madras, and I am indebted to H. M. India Office for permission to make use of illustrations from “An Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilagiris,” by the late J. Williamson Breeks (1873), and to Messrs. Longmans Green and Co., for permission to make use of illustrations from “A Phrenologist amongst the Todas,” by the late Colonel William E. Marshall (1873).

W. H. R. R. [ix]













THE TI DAIRY        83








THE TODA GODS        182 [x]


PRAYER        213












FUNERAL CEREMONIES (continued)        372










KINSHIP        483


MARRIAGE        502 [xi]






LANGUAGE        602











APPENDIX I        719




GLOSSARY        741

INDEX        749




1. Toda Man. Full Face 19
2. Toda Man. Side Face 20
3. Toda Woman. Full Face 21
4. Toda Woman. Side Face 22
5. The Village of Taradr, showing two Dairies in the Foreground and three Houses in the Background 25
6. The Village of Taradr, showing the Houses surrounded by a Wall, in which there is one Opening in the Middle 27
7. The chief House of the Village of Kiudr 28
8. The Village of Peivòrs, showing a Double Hut (in the Background). The two Buildings on the Left are Dairies, and the Structure in the Centre is a Calf-House 29
9. A Toda Man, Siriar (20), with his Wife and Child, showing the ordinary Method of wearing the ‘Putkuli 30
10. Kòdrner performing the Salutation called ‘Kaimukhti.’ His Right Arm is bared (‘Kevenarut’), and he has removed his Turban 31
11. Women Pounding and Sifting. The Broom is on the Ground to the Right 33
12. The ‘Kalmelpudithti’ Salutation taking place at the Village of Nòdrs. On the Left is the House; on the Right is the less important Dairy of the Village (the ‘Tarvali’), and in Front of it is the Stone called ‘Menkars 35
13. The Conical Dairy of Nòdrs. The Stone at the Right-Hand End of the Wall is the ‘Teidrtolkars 44
14. The lower part of the Conical Dairy of Nòdrs, which is hidden by the Wall in Fig. 13. The ‘Wursol’ is shown eating ‘Al’ from a Leaf-Plate 46
15. Òd (26) Churning 51
16. The morning Milking at the Village of Molkush. In the Background is a modern ‘Tu’ made of Wooden Palings 53
17. A Milking Scene 54
18. The chief Dairy Vessels [xiv] 59
19. The ‘Wursol’ of Nòdrs carrying the ‘Adimu’ and ‘Patatpun’ to fetch Water 63
20. The ‘Palikartmokh’ Saluting the Threshold of the Dairy at Kiudr, ‘Pavnersatiti 65
21. The ‘Kudrpali’ of Kars, with the ‘Kudrpalikartmokh’ standing on the Wall. In the Foreground is the Mound called ‘Imudrikars.’ In the Background on the Right is the Calf-House 67
23. The ‘Wursol’ of Kars, Kernpisi (56), standing by the side of his Dairy 75
24. The ‘Kugvali’ of Taradr. On its Left is the ‘Kwotars,’ and on the extreme Right, under the Tree, is the ‘Kush.’ The flat Stone to the Right of the ‘Kugvali’ is the ‘Püdrshtikars 77
25. The ‘Poh’ of Kanòdrs. The two Walls are shown 80
26. Showing the General Plan of the Ti Dairy 87
27. The ‘Palol’ Karkievan, saluting at Mòdr. He is standing in the ‘Pepkarmus.’ The Building next to the ‘Palol’ is the ‘Ti poh’; that on the Right is the ‘Karenpoh’ and between it and the ‘Ti poh’ can be seen the Hut where the Inhabitants of the ‘Ti mad’ sleep 95
28. To show the Attitude adopted by the ‘Palol’ when Praying 96
29. To show the Method of carrying the Contents of the Dairy. The boy Kalmad (64) is carrying the ‘Patatpur’; Karsüln (15) the ‘Ertatpur.’ In front of Kalmad is the entrance of the Pen at Kars called ‘Althftu 125
30. 1. A. The ‘Madth.’ B. A ‘Patat.’ C. Another ‘Patat.’ D. The ‘Parskadrvenmu.’ E. The ‘Irkartpun.’ 2. A. The axe. B. The fire-sticks. C. The ‘Majpariv.’ D. The ‘Pòlmachok.’ E. The ‘Ertatpun.’ F. A ‘Tek.’ G. The lamp 127
31. The Dairy of Kiudr with the ‘Palikartmokh’ Etamudri (58); on the Right of the Dairy above and to the Left of the head of Etamudri is the Stone called ‘Neurzülnkars,’ by which the ‘Patatmani’ is laid 129
32. The ‘Neurzülnkars’ of Kiudr, by the side of which the ‘Ertatmani’ are laid 130
33. The four ‘Neurzülnkars’ at Mòdr. Behind the Stones on the Right is Karkievan, the ‘Palol’ of the ‘Tiir’; on the Left is Nerponers, the ‘Palol’ of the ‘Warsir’; in the Centre is the ‘Kaltmokh,’ Katsog, carrying a sickle-shaped Knife 141
34. Punatvan (53) drinking during his Ordination as ‘Palikartmokh’ of Karia 146
35. Imitation Buffalo Horns 190
36. Midjkudr and Mongudrvan Divining at a Funeral [xv] 253
37. Punatvan and Pichievan attempting to make Fire at the ‘Erkumptthpimi’ Ceremony 277
38. Punatvan uttering the ‘Erkumptthpimi’ Prayer. He is holding the ‘Erkumptthkud,’ and one of the ‘Tudr’ Leaves in his hand can be distinctly seen 279
39. Stroking the back of the Calf with the ‘Toashtitudr.’ Punatvan is beginning the third Movement, and one of the Branches of Leaves can be seen on the Ground behind the Calf 280
40. Punatvan and Pichievan cutting up the Calf. In the Background Kòdrner is sharpening up the ‘Ko 281
41. Roasting the pieces of the Calf 283
42. The ‘Irnörtkars’ at Kars. In the Background is the ‘Wursuli 299
43. Gap in the Wall at Nòdrs through which the Calf is driven at the ‘Irnörtiti’ Ceremony 301
44. The ‘Nersatiti’ Salutation 304
45. The ‘Puzhars’ at Molkush 314
46. Tersveli sitting at the Door of the ‘Puzhars’ at Karia with her face turned from the Sun 325
47. Sintagars drinking at the ‘Marthk maj atpimi’ Ceremony. The boy, Pongudr, is sitting behind her 328
48. Funeral Hut round which women are lamenting. Several pairs are pressing their foreheads together. The Hut is not within a stone circle, showing that the Funeral is not being held at an old Funeral Place 339
49. The ‘Puzhutpimi’ Ceremony. In the Centre is the Corpse. The foremost man on the Left is kneeling down preparatory to throwing Earth 346
50. The ‘Puzhutpimi’ Ceremony. Throwing Earth backwards on the Corpse 347
51. The Wooden ‘Teiks’ at Inikitj 350
52. Leading the Buffalo to be Killed 353
53. The Corpse by the head of the dying Buffalo 355
54. Saluting the dead Buffalo 357
55. The Mourners round the Body 358
56. Kotas playing Music at a Toda Funeral 364
57. Keinba and Perpakh; the former is holding in his hand the imitation Bow and Arrow and has his Cloak over his Head 393
58. Bough of the ‘Tudr’ Tree. (From Marshall.) 434
59. The Memorial of Keirevan 440
60. Kuriolv and Pilimurg 552
61. Showing Methods of wearing the Toda Garments and of doing the Hair 573
62. Tilipa (12) wearing his Hair long on account of a vow made at a Hindu Temple [xvi] 575
63 and 64. To show Method of Shaving the Head of a Child 577
65. Karol (64), the ‘Wursol’ of Taradr, making Fire 582
66. To show a Stage in the construction of a Hut 584
67. (From Breeks).—The first Man on the Left is holding a Bow and Arrow; the second a Club (probably the ‘Nanmakud’) in his Right Hand, and the ‘Tadri’ in his Left; the third Man is carrying a Club, and the fourth Man is playing the ‘Buguri 587
68. (From Breeks).—The five Tribes of the Nilgiri Hills 629
69. A Badaga greeting a Toda 631
70. A view of Nòdrs. The Stone in the Foreground on the Left is the ‘Nerovkars’; that on the Right is the ‘Uteiks.’ In the Background in the Centre is an old ‘Tu.’ The lower part of the Conical Dairy can be seen between the Boy and the ‘Uteiks 646
71. The Stones at Pishkwosht called ‘Teuar 657
72. The Village of Umgas, showing the ‘Nadrkkars’ in the Centre. Behind the Stones is the ‘Poh’ of this Village, and on its Right are the Dwelling-Huts 673
73. Plan of ‘Etudmad 689
74. Plan of Ancient Toda Villages 690
75. (From Breeks).—A Cairn on the Nilgiri Hills 711
76. Various objects found in the Nilgiri Cairns, taken from Breeks 713




The following is the phonetic system which has been used in this book. The use of many of the signs is more fully described in Chapter XXV.


â, the a of father.   ò, the aw of law.
a, the u of hut.   û, the oo of moon.
ä, the a of hat.   u, the u of full.
ê, the ei of their.   ü, the German vowel.
e, the e of met.   ai, the i of bite.
î, the ee of meet.   au, the ou of house.
i, the i of hit.   ei, the a of date.
ô, the o of post.   eu, the French diphthong.
o, the o of pot.   oi, the oy of boy.
ö, the o of word.  


b, as in English.
ch, the ch of church.
d, used in the text for the English sound and also for the lingual consonant .1
f, as in English.
g, the g of sing.
gg, the g of finger.
gh, the ch of ich.
h, used for a sound of doubtful nature (see p. 611).
j, as in English.
k, as in English.
kh, the ch of auch.
l, used in the text for the English sound and for the lingual consonant .[xviii]
m, as in English.
n, as in English.
ñ, a nasal n, as in French.
p, as in English.
s, a sound resembling the English s.
sh, as in English.
t, as in English and also for the lingual .
th the th both of though and throw.
v, as in English.
z, the z of zeal.
zh, the si of occasion.

Sounds represented by ch, s, sh, and th, very frequently inserted euphonically in Toda words, have usually been omitted. I have also omitted the signs showing the long vowels whenever a word occurs frequently throughout the book, and the glossary should be consulted to ascertain the correct method of pronouncing such words. Similarly, Appendices III and IV should be consulted to ascertain the proper pronunciation of the names of places and plants.

I do not use the plurals of Toda words, either in the English form or in that proper to the Toda language; thus, I write “the two palol” and not “the two palols” or “the two palolam.”



The names printed in the same type as Kârs are those of Toda villages; the names in italics, as Nanjanad are those of Badaga villages; the names in small black type, as Ootacamund are those of towns with a general population, or of dâk bungalows. [1]

1 One of the most frequent consonantal sounds in the Toda language is dr which in the text always stands for ḍr; when d comes before sh, it also represents the lingual sound. In both cases the was hardly appreciated by my ear, and the European will perhaps most nearly imitate the Toda sound if he pronounces dr and dsh as r and sh





The people whose manners and customs I am about to describe live on the undulating plateau of the Nilgiri Hills in Southern India. The hills were visited by a Portuguese missionary in 1602, and have been invaded by Indian tribes on various occasions, but, at the beginning of the last century, the plateau and its inhabitants were absolutely unknown to Europeans. The earliest definite information about the hills at this time is given in a letter from William Keys, an assistant revenue surveyor, written in 1812, but it was not till several years later that further information about the people began to be published.

Of the various tribes inhabiting the hills, the Todas excited the greatest interest, and this interest has continued, partly because the people are so different from any other of the races by which they are surrounded, but still more because both they and their customs are so picturesque and, in many ways, so unique.

A very large literature1 has accumulated about the Todas and their customs. This literature is so extensive that when I determined to go to the Nilgiri Hills, I was reproached by more than one anthropologist for going to people about whom we already knew so much; and one even said that, so far as his department of knowledge was concerned, he was sure that we had all the information we could expect to get. [2]

A review of the literature, however, showed me that there were certain subjects about which our information was of the scantiest. This was especially the case in matters connected with the social organisation. Little was known of the system of kinship, and it was not known whether there was any definite system of exogamy. The Todas furnish one of the best existing examples of the custom of polyandry, but scarcely anything was known about the various social regulations which must be associated with such a practice.

I had not worked long among the Todas before I discovered the existence of many customs and ceremonies previously undescribed, and I was able to obtain much more detailed accounts of others which had already been repeatedly recorded. I found that there was so much to be done that I gave up an intention of working with several different tribes, and devoted the whole of my time to the Todas.

This book is not intended to be a complete account of all that is known about the Toda people. Their physical anthropology has been so ably dealt with by Mr. Edgar Thurston that I leave this subject almost untouched, and I omit all but a brief mention of my own psychological observations which I have published in detail elsewhere.2 The book deals almost exclusively with the religion and sociology of the people. Even here, however, the account will be far from complete. After several months’ work among a people about whom “we knew all there was to be known,” I came away knowing that there were subjects of which I had barely touched the fringe, and many others on which my information could have been made far more complete with greater opportunity. About certain subjects the Todas are extremely reticent, and my information is in consequence very defective. There are many points on which I know my information to be far from complete, and doubtless there are far more numerous examples of deficiency of which I am not aware.

Some deficiencies of the record are due to certain untoward events which occurred during my visit. After I had been working among the Todas for about four months, various misfortunes befell some of those who had [3]been my chief guides to Toda lore. One man who had pointed out to me certain sacred places fell ill and made up his mind that he was going to die. Another man lost his wife a few days after he had shown me the method of performing one of the most sacred of Toda ceremonies. A third man who had revealed to me the details of the ceremonial of the most sacred Toda dairy, suffered the loss of his own village dairy by fire.

The Todas consulted their diviners, who ascribed these events to the anger of the gods because their secrets had been revealed to the stranger. In consequence my sources of information ran dry to a large extent, and the difficulties in the way of the investigation of the more sacred topics were greatly increased. By the time it was settled that I was to blame I was nearly at the end of my visit, but it was in the last two or three weeks that I had hoped to overcome the scruples of the people and to obtain information on many doubtful points about which I had to come away unsatisfied.

One of the subjects on which my material is defective is the folk-lore. I have a number of tales, but they are only a small part of the store of Toda legend. I regret especially the incompleteness of my work in this respect because I believe that the Todas are rapidly forgetting their folk-tales and the legends of their gods, while their ceremonial remains to a large extent intact, and seems likely to continue so for some time.

I was especially struck by this because, in previous anthropological experience in the islands of Torres Straits with Dr. Haddon, we had found the exact opposite to be the case. In these islands, the ceremonial had disappeared, and the only record of it to be obtained was that derived from the memories of the oldest inhabitants. Nevertheless in Torres Straits the store of legend was still ample, and the agreement of the stories obtained from different individuals was so great that it was evident that the people had preserved their folklore with fidelity.

The difference between the two communities is easily explained. In Torres Straits missionary influence is strong, and missionary effort is always directed to break down the practices [4]associated with belief. The ceremonial in Torres Straits had been swept away, while the stories of the legendary heroes were almost all that remained to the people of the old life and were in consequence still cherished.

Among the Todas missionary influence, whether of Christian or Hindu, has had little effect, and the ritual of the Todas in some parts of the hills is almost, if not quite, untouched by outside influences.3 The effect of intercourse with other peoples seems to be showing itself largely in the form of loss of interest in the stories of the past.

One of the most striking aspects of the customs and ceremonies of the Todas is that these have in many cases no exact parallels in other places. Perhaps the most definite result which modern research in anthropology has brought out is the extraordinary similarity of custom throughout the world. Customs apparently identical are found in races so widely separated geographically and so diverse ethnologically that it seems certain the customs must have developed in total independence of one another. There seems to be an identity of idea actuating custom in peoples very different from one another in their surroundings and conditions of life.

The nearest parallels to Toda custom and ceremonial are undoubtedly to be found in the Indian peninsula, but even here, though there is often a general resemblance, this breaks down on going into detail. Even when the resemblance is so close as to suggest a common origin, the differences in detail are often very great.4

One clue to this exceptional nature of Toda custom and belief is to be found in the geographical position of the people, which has to a large extent isolated them from the world in general.

The plateau on which they live, broken by numerous hills and valleys, is the top of a scarp formed by the meeting of the Eastern and Western Ghats. Some of the hills project [5]more than the rest above the general level of the plateau, which ranges from 6,000 to 7,500 feet above the sea, and the loftiest of these hills reaches the height of 8,760 feet. The plateau is so high that, though it is situated only about eleven degrees from the equator, the thermometer rarely rises above 70° F., and in the nights of the cold season may touch the freezing point.

In every direction the sides of the hills leading up to the plateau are steep and often precipitous. To the south-east, east, and north-east there is a rapid fall of about 5,000 feet to the plains of the Coimbatore district, though to the south this plain only forms a gap about twenty miles in breadth between the Nilgiri and the Anaimalai Hills. On the north-west the slope is more gradual and is broken by the Wainad district about 3,000 feet above the sea. To the north there is a steep fall, but only for about 4,000 feet, to the plateau of Mysore, which is about 3,000 feet above the sea.

The south-western part of the hills is known as the Kundahs and may be regarded as a range separate from the greater part of the plateau, from which it is divided by a wide valley, the Avalanche Valley. From the Kundahs there is an extremely precipitous fall to the Malabar district.

The steep sides leading up to the plateau on which the Todas live are clothed with thick, almost impenetrable jungle, which is extremely malarious, so that a night spent on the way to the summit is very likely to produce fever.

The hills appear to have been for long an object of reverence to Hindus on account of their height and inaccessibility. Dubois states that “as it is very difficult to reach the top of this mountain, a view of the summit alone (and it is visible a long way off) is considered sufficient to remove the burden of sin from the conscience of any person who looks at it.”5

When the hills were first visited by Europeans, their use as a sanatorium was long delayed owing to the difficulty of making roads, and it was not till after many years that the hills became a regular resort of the European population. We shall see later that the isolation of the Todas has certainly [6]not been complete, and that the hills have been invaded by strangers, especially from the side of the Wainad; but the isolation has probably been considerable, and, for long periods, it may have been complete.

In their isolation from the world in general, however, the Todas have not been alone. Two other tribes, the Kotas and the Badagas, occupy the plateau with them, and the peculiar relations between the three tribes are among the most interesting features of the social life of the Nilgiris. The Todas are a purely pastoral people, limiting their activities almost entirely to the care of their buffaloes and to the complicated ritual which has grown up in association with these animals. The Badagas are chiefly agriculturists; the Kotas are artisans and mechanics; and both supply the Todas with part of their produce. There is here a well-marked instance of division of labour, in which the labour of the Todas is reduced to a minimum. Their privileged position is usually held to be due to the tradition that they are the “lords of the soil,” and the produce which the Todas receive from the other tribes is supposed to be of the nature of tribute.

The jungle on the slopes of the hills is inhabited by two wild, dwarfish tribes, the Kurumbas and Irulas, who have a general resemblance to the many other jungle tribes of Southern India. These people are much feared by the tribes of the plateau for their supposed magical powers, but they have little to do with the complex social life of the others.

The district in which the three tribes live is not extensive. The extreme length of the plateau, from east to west, is about forty-two miles, and its average breadth, from north to south, about ten miles, the maximum breadth being fifteen miles in the centre of the district. The total area of the plateau is less than 500 square miles. In this district there live about 800 Todas, 1,200 Kotas, and 34,000 Badagas. In addition, there are now extensive European settlements, the largest of which is Ootacamund, the seat of the Madras Government for six months of the year. The other large European settlements are Coonoor and Kotagiri, while Wellington, near Coonoor, is a military station.

The plateau of the Nilgiris is divided into four districts, [7]ordinarily known by the names, Todanad, Mekanad, Peranganad, and Kundanad, and these districts are recognised by the Todas. The Todanad is the largest district, and is the part where the majority of the Todas live. Their own name for it is Marsâdr.

The Mekanad is called by the Todas Karâdr, and is now very sparsely inhabited, though there are many old villages in the district.

The Peranganad is the eastern part of the hills, and is called by the Todas Purgòdr, and is the chief seat of a few of their clans.

The fourth district, or Kundanad, is that already mentioned as the Kundahs in the south-west part of the hills. It is the chief seat of one Toda clan, but it also contains villages belonging to others. It is especially visited in the dry season, since its large rainfall often provides ample pasturage when this is burnt up on other parts of the hills. The Toda name of the district is Mêdr.

A few Todas live near Gudalur in the Wainad, some 3,000 feet lower than the main plateau.



The description of Toda life to be given in this book is the outcome of an attempt to apply rigorous methods in the investigation of sociology and religion. In the brief time which was at my disposal, it was essential to employ methods of investigation which would enable me to tell with some certainty whether I was obtaining accurate and trustworthy information. Two great sources of error in anthropological investigation are the dependence on the evidence of only a few individuals and the necessity of paying for information.

The first source of error was easily avoided, and I was able to obtain my information from a large body of witnesses, usually independently of one another. As regards the second source, the Todas are inveterate beggars, and are now thoroughly accustomed to receive payment for every service rendered to the European, even of the most trivial kind. Payment for information was inevitable, but I [8]minimised the danger by arranging that every man who came to me for work should receive a definite stipulated sum as a recompense for his time and trouble. I paid, not for the information, but for the trouble taken in giving a day or half a day to my service. As a general rule, anything like payment by results was carefully avoided. The sum paid was for coming to me, and if anyone was reluctant to talk about one subject, we passed on to another. Only at the end of my visit did I depart from this rule on a few occasions, and offered rewards to one or two individuals for certain items of information; but by this time I was in a position to judge the value of the information I received, and I only employed this procedure in cases where I knew the degree of trustworthiness of my informant.

Definite methods for the verification of the evidence obtained were the more necessary in my work among the Todas, in that I was obliged throughout to depend on interpreters. I was, however, very fortunate in my assistants. I first worked with a forest ranger, Albert Urrilla, who knew the Todas very well, though he had no special knowledge of their customs. He translated faithfully, and, owing to his wide knowledge of the hills, he was extremely useful in helping me to become familiar with the names and positions of the many Toda villages. After about six weeks’ work, Albert had to return to his forest duties, and, except for a week towards the end of my visit, the interpreter for the rest of my work was P. Samuel, a catechist who had been endeavouring for ten years to convert the Todas to Christianity, under the auspices of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. When he began to work with me, Samuel had a very limited acquaintance with Toda ceremonies, but he was very familiar with the general life of the people, and was especially acquainted with the actual working of many of their social customs. Some of the Todas at first objected strongly to his helping me, probably on account of his missionary efforts, but he soon overcame this initial difficulty and gained the general confidence of the people. He was well acquainted with the Toda language, and soon became a very careful inquirer into customs and beliefs, and I owe much to [9]his help. He often obtained independent information about customs, and I was put by him on the track of much that might otherwise have escaped me. I had hoped that he would have continued to make inquiries for me after I had left the hills, and soon after my departure, he forwarded to me a very valuable account of a ceremony which I had not been able to witness and other important material. While with me he had discovered, however, how little progress he had made with the people during his ten years’ work among them, and how little he had known of their beliefs, and, soon after my departure, he asked to be given a new sphere of work and was removed to the Wainad, so that I have not had the opportunity for which I hoped, of making further inquiries into the many doubtful points which always arise in working up the notes of anthropological investigation.

One of the chief dangers arising from the use of interpreters is that they will often transmit, not what they are told, but their own versions of what they are told. They interpret the meaning as well as the words of the informants. I think I can be certain that this danger was avoided with both my interpreters, and that they gave me as accurate an account as possible of what the Todas told them. We always used the Toda names for all specific objects, individuals, and places, so that the information transmitted to me by the interpreters was often in such a form that nearly every noun was Toda in a setting of English verbs, adverbs, and pronouns. Thus, referring to one of my notebooks at random, I find the following: “After cleansing the poh in this manner, each palol puts salt in the ponmukeri, and takes it and the karpun to the upunkudi, taking also five pieces of tudrpül, five sprigs of puthimul, and a bundle of taf.” In fact, we habitually used so many Toda words that the Todas sometimes obviously knew the general drift of my questions before they were interpreted to them, and, similarly, I could often understand the general drift of the answer.

The first principle of my investigation was to obtain independent accounts from different people; I then compared these independent accounts and cross-examined into any discrepancies. The general result of this method was highly [10]satisfactory from the point of view of Toda veracity. The general agreement of the accounts obtained from different individuals was very striking, and, whenever discrepancies occurred, it was nearly always found that they were due either to misunderstanding or to differences in the practices of different sections of the Toda people. These differences are so great that in many cases it made a rigorous application of the method of direct corroboration impossible. There are distinct differences in the ceremonial and social customs of the two chief divisions of the Todas and some differences in the practices of different clans. In the investigation of the dairy ritual, there were found to be great differences in the practices of different dairies, and, for the practice of any one dairy, I had sometimes to be content with the information of one native only; but I did not content myself with such independent accounts till I had satisfied myself of the trustworthiness of the witness, and had learnt enough of the customs in question to be in a position to weigh the evidence. As regards the differences in the customs of different sections of the community, many of my informants were able to describe the practices not only of their own section but also of others.

After a time I managed to put myself on such terms with my chief informants that they were always ready to confess any deficiencies in their knowledge and would refer me to others whose special experience would make them more satisfactory informants. Occasionally, however, they carried this a little too far and pleaded ignorance of a subject when they were really only reluctant to reveal the more esoteric knowledge.

Still more important than this method of direct corroboration of independent accounts is what I may call the method of indirect corroboration. By this I mean the method of obtaining the same information in different ways. Often this indirect corroboration occurred accidentally. The whole of Toda ceremonial and social life forms such an intricate web of closely related practices that I rarely set out to investigate some one aspect of the life of the people without obtaining information bearing on many other wholly different [11]aspects, and the information so gained often afforded valuable corroboration of what I had been told on other occasions and by other individuals. Thus, in obtaining a prayer, various matters would arise which would confirm the accuracy of a legend obtained weeks earlier, or the investigation of a funeral custom would lead to the indirect corroboration of evidence concerning the regulation of marriage.

The most important way in which this method of indirect corroboration may be intentionally applied is by obtaining the same information first in an abstract form and then by means of a number of concrete instances. As an example of what I mean I may cite the method by which I inquired into the laws of inheritance of property. I first obtained an account of what was done in the abstract—of the laws governing the inheritance of houses, the division of the buffaloes and other property among the children, &c. Next I gave a number of hypothetical concrete instances; I took cases of men with so many children and so many buffaloes, and repeating the cases I found that my informant gave answers which were consistent not only with one another but also with the abstract regulations previously given. Finally I took real persons and inquired into what had actually happened when A or B died, and again obtained a body of information consistent in itself and agreeing with that already obtained.

By far my most valuable instrument of inquiry was that provided by the genealogical method.6 The Todas preserve in their memories the names of all their ancestors and relatives extending back for several generations. In the tables given at the end of this book, I have recorded the pedigrees of seventy-two families, including the whole of the Toda community. Whenever the name of a man was mentioned in connexion with ceremony or social custom, his name was found in the genealogical record and the relation was ascertained in which he stood towards others participating in the ceremony or custom. By this means a concrete element was brought into the work which greatly facilitated inquiry. [12]Customs and rites were investigated by means of concrete examples in which the people taking part were real people to me as well as to my informants. In a later chapter I shall consider more fully the rôle of the genealogies in anthropological investigation. I mention them here to give a preliminary indication of the extensive part they played in my investigations. In order to give my readers the opportunity of following my method in some measure for themselves, I have given after the name of any individual mentioned in the book the number of the genealogical table in which his name occurs; thus “Kòdrner (7)” means that Kòdrner is a member of the family of which the pedigree is recorded in Table 7.

I have already referred to the trustworthiness of the evidence given by the Todas. I must now speak of the great differences in this respect shown by different individuals. Some would give full and elaborate accounts of ceremonial which close investigation showed to be, so far as one could tell, thoroughly accurate. Others gave careless and slovenly accounts, full of omissions and inaccuracies of detail, though they rarely said anything which was distinctly untrue.

After some experience had been gained, one day’s work was usually sufficient to enable me to make up my mind whether a man was a careful witness, and if he did not seem to be so, he was not again called upon for help. Different men were known to have especial acquaintance with certain branches of knowledge, and I always endeavoured to obtain such people. In the case of the religious ritual, it was not practicable to make use, to any great extent, of men actually holding any of the sacred offices, but I always had recourse to people who had held these offices and were personally familiar with the ceremonial.

Among the many aspects of social life and religion, I soon found that there were some about which there was no reticence, and these could be discussed in public with men, women, or children standing by and perhaps taking part. There were others which were of a more sacred nature, and, if they were approached in public, it was immediately obvious [13]that the people were ill at ease and their answers became hesitating and unsatisfactory. After a short time I adopted the practice of devoting the mornings to my psychological work and to the discussion of affairs of a non-sacred character. In the afternoons I had private interviews with one individual at a time, or occasionally two. If I approached any dangerous topic during the morning, my guide made me a sign and I changed the subject, to return to it at an afternoon sitting.

In the investigation of all the more sacred ceremonies, it was found to be best that the narrator should be alone. He knew that he was telling what should not be told and was embarrassed if any other Todas were there to hear him.

One of the difficulties of anthropological inquiry is that the good and trustworthy narrators are often the most reticent. They are trustworthy because they are honest and pious members of their community, and are therefore naturally reluctant to offend against the sanctity of their religious customs by talking of them to a stranger. Some of my best informants were such men, who were gradually led on to tell me far more than they had ever intended, and then, having told me so much about a given subject, they would sometimes throw reticence to the winds and tell me all. It was very instructive in such a case to start a fresh topic which I knew to be forbidden ground and observe the complete change of attitude. One old man who had entirely lost his scruples in our absorption in the details of dairy ritual absolutely refused to speak a word when I turned to the subject of animal sacrifice, and for this and some other topics I had to be content with less scrupulous but at the same time less trustworthy witnesses.

I only found one Toda who was deliberately untruthful, and yet he was so much less reticent and less scrupulous than others that I often had to have recourse to his services. After I had been able to convict him more than once of having given unsatisfactory evidence, he was more accurate, but I was especially careful to check and obtain independent accounts of everything he told me, and I have only [14]made use of so much of his evidence as I believe to be trustworthy. His knowledge was not deep or accurate, but he often told me enough to enable me to extract the full account from others, who, seeing I knew something, thought they might as well tell me all. On one or two subjects, the whole of my information is derived from this man, but whenever this is the case I mention the fact, so that my readers may know the doubtful nature of the evidence. I only give such information, however, when I believe it to be correct. The informant in question was one of the cleverest of the Todas, and his usual fault was not that he deliberately deceived, but that he supplied the lacunæ in his knowledge by having recourse to his imagination. In the matter of folk-tales, where the difficulties of checking an account are especially great, I was obliged wholly to reject his assistance.

An altogether different type of witness was my constant attendant, Kòdrner. His special business was to bring me people as the subjects for my psychological work and to act as my guide in visiting various parts of the hills. He did not profess to any wide knowledge of custom or ceremonial, and was always diffident about the information he gave; but he was a good observer, and could give an excellent account of any ceremony which he had witnessed or of any procedure in which he had been involved.

Except in a few cases the Todas were quite unable to give any explanations of their customs, the answer to nearly every inquiry being that the custom in question was ordained by the goddess Teikirzi. In the few cases in which an explanation was forthcoming, it seemed to me that it was usually a recent invention. The explanations of customs given in this book are therefore almost invariably those arrived at by myself from the study of the available evidence.

While I was working I had by me the books or papers of Harkness, Marshall, Breeks, and Thurston, the chief previous writers on the Todas, and I inquired into most of the details mentioned by them; but I have not [15]attempted any criticism or comment on the work of others except on special occasions when my own information is lacking or when I am uncertain as to the truth of their statements. Except in those cases in which I definitely refer to the work of others, every statement made in this book is the outcome of my own inquiry or observation. Whenever my account differs from those of others, it may be accepted that I have inquired into the discrepancy and that my account represents the result of a careful investigation.

As some of the accounts of the Todas were written many years ago, there is always the possibility that two dissimilar accounts may both be true and that the differences may represent changes in custom with lapse of time. There is one fact, however, which makes it probable that this explanation of discrepancies is not the true one. The accounts of the Todas which show the closest correspondence with my own are some of the earliest, especially the book of Captain Harkness, published in 1832, and the papers of Bernhard Schmid and C. F. Muzzy, published in 1837 and 1844 respectively. In many cases my work agrees more closely with these than with the accounts of later observers.

This is, perhaps, a suitable place to mention what I believe to be the chief source of error in previous accounts of the Todas. In their extensive intercourse with the Badagas, the Todas use the language of this people, with which they appear to be perfectly familiar. The Toda language is very difficult to understand, and the literature shows that from the first, most of those who have investigated Toda customs have used the Badaga language or Tamil as their means of communication. Every Toda village, every Toda institution or office, and nearly every object used by the Todas has its Badaga name as well as its proper Toda name, and, owing to intercourse through the intermediation of the Badagas, these names have come to be used not only by nearly all who have written on the Todas, but also in official documents connected with the people.

The names by which the Toda villages are known to Europeans are always the Badaga names and not those of [16]the Todas, and similarly with the names of institutions such as clans, dairies, or ceremonies. The practice of giving Badaga names in their intercourse with Europeans has become so engrained that a Toda invariably uses these names when speaking to a European. During the first few weeks of my work, I received exclusively Badaga names, and to the end of my visit, whenever I visited a new district, the Badaga names would crop up till the people found that I wanted Toda and not Badaga. Kiunievan, who was the chief informant of Mr. Breeks in 1872, is still alive, and when I asked him why he gave Mr. Breeks the Badaga names in every case, he answered “He did not seem to want anything else,” and this answer seems to me to give the clue to much of the error which has found its way into many of the accounts which have been given of the Todas.

One of the most serious errors which has arisen in this way is one connected with the Toda clans. Every account which has been given of the clan-system of the Todas is that of a system which is current among the Badagas as the Toda system, but has only a limited correspondence with the actual system as it is in use among the Todas themselves. Every Toda, if asked by a European to what clan or division he belongs, will promptly give his division according to the Badaga classification, and this has led to the incorporation of this classification in all the accounts of the Todas which deal with their social organisation.

Some words are necessary about the general plan of the book. I should have preferred to begin with the social organisation, and to approach the religious aspect of the life of the Todas through the ceremonies accompanying the chief incidents of life, including birth, marriage, and death. The ideas borrowed from the ritual of the dairy, however, so pervade the whole of Toda ceremonial, that I have been obliged to consider the ritual of the dairy at an early stage. After a preliminary chapter sketching the general character and life of the people, I have therefore given a full description of the elaborate ceremonial which centres round the dairy; and on this follow the accounts of other ceremonies and sacred institutions and a general discussion of the [17]religion of the people. I then turn to the social aspect of life, and consider kinship, marriage, and the various factors upon which the social organisation depends. Then, after some chapters on diverse topics, I describe the relations of the Todas with the other tribes of the Nilgiris, and in the final chapters discuss certain special problems, including the origin and affinities of the Toda people. [18]

1 The bibliography of this literature is given in Appendix II

2 See British Journal of Psychology, 1905, vol. i., p. 321. 

3 As we shall see later, this is only true of some parts of the hills and some institutions. 

4 With more exact knowledge of Indian customs and ceremonies which have lingered on side by side with, though often obscured by Brahmanism, it is possible that these differences would be found to be much slighter than the evidence at present available suggests. 

5 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, part ii., chap. v. 

6 See chapter XX and Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1900, vol. xxx., p. 74. 




I do not propose to describe at any length the physical characters of the Todas.1 It must be sufficient to say here that the people differ remarkably in general appearance, and perhaps still more remarkably in general bearing, from the other inhabitants of Southern India. The average height of the men is about 5 ft. 7 in., and that of the women 5 ft. 1 in.; both are well-proportioned, and the men robustly built. Their heads are distinctly dolichocephalic, the cephalic index of the men being 73.3. The shaved heads of the children show very well the great length, and probably owing to the special method of shaving (see Figs. 63 and 64), this feature is in them exaggerated so as to seem almost abnormal.

The nose is usually well-formed and not especially broad, the nasal index being 74.9. It is often distinctly rounded in profile. The skin is of a rich brown colour, distinctly lighter than that of most of the Dravidian inhabitants of Southern India. The skins of the women are lighter than those of the men. There is much hair on the bodies of the men, who usually grow thick beards, and the hair of the head is luxuriant in both men and women. The men are strong and very agile; the agility being most in evidence when they have to catch their infuriated buffaloes at the funeral ceremonies. They stand fatigue well, and often travel great distances. One day I met an old man about seventy years of age going to the market at Gudalur for a supply [19]of grain, and in the evening I met him on his return carrying a large and heavy bag. He had travelled over thirty miles, had gone down and again come up some 3,000 feet, and most of his journey had been in a climate much warmer than that of his native hills.



My guide at the end of the day would sometimes go a distance of eight or ten miles and back to arrange for my supply of men for the next day’s work, and I have seen him on these occasions running at a steady pace which he would keep up for miles. In going from one part of the hills to another, a Toda always travels as nearly as possible in [20]a straight line, ignoring altogether the influence of gravity, and mounting the steepest hills with no apparent effort.



In all my work with the men, it seemed to me that they were extremely intelligent They grasped readily the points of any inquiry upon which I entered, and often showed a marked appreciation of complicated questions. They were interested in the customs of other parts of the world, and appeared to grasp readily the essential differences between their own ways and those of other peoples. It is very difficult to estimate general intelligence, and to compare definitely the intelligence of different individuals, still more of people of [21]different races. I can only record my impression, after several months’ close intercourse with the Todas, that they were just as intelligent as one would have found any average body of educated Europeans. There were marked individual differences, just as there are among the more civilised, and it is probable that I saw chiefly the more intelligent members of the community.



My time was largely devoted to experimental work, especially on the nature of the sensory and perceptual processes. The people entered readily into this work, quickly grasped the nature of the methods employed, and showed the same power of close attention and careful observation which, as I have found in other races, enable even more definite and consistent [22]results to be obtained from uncultured races than from most classes of a civilised community.



I had slighter opportunities of estimating the intelligence of the women than that of the men, but, as a general rule, it seemed to me that there was a very marked difference between the two sexes. Some of the younger women, when examined by various tests, showed as ready a grasp of the methods as any of the men, but most of the elder women gave me the impression of being extremely stupid. It was often obvious that they were not attending and were thinking far more of their personal appearance and of the effect it was having on the men of the party than of the task they were being set, but even when a liberal discount was made for this, it seemed [23]to me that they were distinctly less intelligent than the men.

The characteristic note in the demeanour of the people is given by their absolute belief in their own superiority over the surrounding races. They are grave and dignified, and yet thoroughly cheerful and well-disposed towards all. In their intercourse with Europeans, they now recognise the superior race so far as wealth and the command of physical and mental resources are concerned, but yet they are not in the slightest degree servile, and about many matters still believe that their ways are superior to ours, and, in spite of their natural politeness, could sometimes not refrain from showing their contempt for conduct which we are accustomed to look upon as an indication of a high level of morality. It is in the matter of ethical standards that the difference between the Todas and ourselves comes out most strongly.


The Village and the House

The Todas live in little villages scattered about the hills. The greater part of the plateau consists of grass-covered hills separated by valleys, sometimes narrow, more often of wide extent. In every valley there are streams and in many places swamps. In the hollows of the hills are small woods, generally known as sholas, and it is usually near these sholas that the Toda villages are to be found. Some parts of the hills are much more thickly beset with villages than others, and this is especially the case in the neighbourhood of the part known as Governor Shola, about six to eight miles west and north-west of Ootacamund.

In other parts one may go considerable distances without finding a Toda village, but relics of the former history of the Todas may be found widely scattered over the hills, and I think there can be little doubt that at one time the Toda habitations were much more generally distributed than they are at present. The bazaar at Ootacamund has now become an important place in the economic life of the Todas; they sell there the ghi or clarified butter in which form their dairy produce chiefly goes to the market, and they [24]procure in return at the bazaar the rice and grain and other things which have now taken their places among the necessaries of life. In consequence there exists a tendency for the larger part of the Todas, especially those of the Todanad, to live within an easy distance of Ootacamund, and many of the villages in the more distant parts of the hills are now only occupied for a few weeks in the year.

The Toda name for a village is mad,2 but this is now often replaced by the Badaga form of the word, mand, and the latter word is used exclusively by the Europeans and others living on the Nilgiri hills. A mad usually consists of several huts. In some villages there may be only one hut, and the maximum number I have seen is six. At some places where there was formerly a village with dwelling-huts there is now only a dairy, but the term mad is still applied to the place at which the dairy is situated. The term mad is also given to the funeral-places of the Todas. Sometimes the funeral-place is also a village at which people live; sometimes it has only a dairy; while in other places there may be no trace of human habitations; but the term mad is equally applied in all three cases. The term is also used for the dairies and accessory buildings connected with the most sacred herds of buffaloes (the ti). Each group of buildings is called a mad or ti mad. The term has therefore a wider significance than “village” and denotes rather a “place”—a place connected in any way with the active life of the Todas. The chief village of a clan and certain other sacred or important villages are called etudmad and other villages are often known as kinmad.



A typical Toda village consists of a small group of huts (ars), often on a piece of ground slightly raised above the surrounding level and enclosed by a wall (katu). In this wall there are two or three narrow openings, large enough to admit a man but not a buffalo. In most villages there is a dairy or there may be several dairies. Each of these buildings is also enclosed by a wall, usually higher than that surrounding the dwelling-huts. The dairies may be near the huts, but more commonly are at some little distance from [26]the latter. Somewhere near the dairy will be found a circular enclosure, the buffalo-pen, or tu,3 in which the buffaloes are enclosed at night, and there may be more than one tu for use on different occasions or for different kinds of buffalo. There will be a small pen for the calves which is called kadr, and there may also be a house for the calves (kwotars). A small structure called kush (? kudsh), used as an enclosure for calves less than fifteen days old, may often be seen, situated between the spreading roots of a tree.

Close to the village there will be at least one stream (nipa), and very often there are two streams. If possible, there should be two streams, in order that one may be used for the sacred purposes of the dairy, the pali nipa, while the other is used for household purposes, the ars nipa. Where there is only one stream, different parts are used for the two purposes, and the two parts of the stream then receive the names pali nipa and ars nipa. In this case the pali nipa is always above the ars nipa, so as to avoid the danger that the water used for the dairy shall have been contaminated by contact with household vessels. At some villages there may even be a third stream, or part of a stream, used in the ordination ceremonies of the dairymen.

It has often been a subject of remark by visitors to the Nilgiri Hills that the Todas have chosen the most beautiful spots for their dwellings, and interest has been taken in the love of beauty in nature which this choice shows. I think there can be little doubt that the choice of suitable dwelling-places has been chiefly determined by the necessity of a good water-supply, and if possible of a double water-supply, and the Todas have chosen the beautiful spots, not because they are beautiful, but because they are well watered. Their choice has been dictated, not by a love of beautiful scenery, but by the practical necessities of their daily life.

In the immediate neighbourhood of a village there are usually well-worn paths by which the village is approached, and some of these paths or kalvol receive special names. [27]Some may not be traversed by women. When I first visited the village of Taradr, nearly the whole population of the village met me at the spot where the path to the village leaves the road. We all went along together till I suddenly found that I was walking with the men and boys only, while the women and girls were following another path. We were going by the way over which the sacred buffaloes travel when leaving or approaching the village, and the women might not tread this path, but had another appointed way by which they were to reach their home.



Within the village there are also certain recognised paths, of which two are especially important. One, the punetkalvol, is the path by which the dairyman goes from his dairy to milk or tend the buffaloes; the other is the majvatitthkalvol, the path which the women must use when they go to the dairy to receive buttermilk (maj) from the dairyman. Women are not allowed to go to the dairy or to other places connected with it, except at appointed times when they receive buttermilk given [28]out by the dairyman, and when going for this purpose they must keep to the majvatitthkalvol. This path is sometimes indicated by a stone, the majvatitthkars, and the spot where the women stand to receive the buttermilk is called the majvatvaiidrn.



At many villages there are other stones which have definite names and mark the sites where certain ceremonial functions are performed.

The house is called ars, and is of the kind shown in Fig. 7. It is shaped like half a barrel, with the barrel-like roof and sides projecting for a considerable distance beyond the front partition containing the door. The size of the hut is by no means constant; in some cases it is sufficiently roomy to enable people to move about with ease and comfort, while in others it is so small that it is unbearably stuffy, and the smoke from the fire, which is always burning, makes it difficult to believe that anyone can long live in it. The entrance to [29]the hut is always very small, and is closed by a door which slides over the opening on its inner side.

Some houses are much longer than others, with a door at each end and a central partition, so as to form a double hut which is called epotirikhthars, i.e., “both-ways-turned house.” This kind of hut did not seem to be common, and I only saw three or four examples, of which one is shown in Fig. 8.

A much more common kind of double hut is called merkalars, i.e., “other-side house,” in which the back part of the hut is partitioned off, with a door at one side.



In some Toda villages there may now be found huts of the same kind as those of the Badagas. In the cases in which I found such huts, I was told that they had been built by Badagas who had lived in the villages while the Toda occupants were away. Todas may also occasionally be found living away from their own villages, usually near tea plantations. They do this because there is a demand for buffalo manure at the plantations, and when living in this way they not uncommonly use huts of the Badaga pattern.

In front of the hut on either side of the door there are usually raised seats called kwottün, and there are similar [30]raised portions, called tün, within the huts on which the people sleep. The floor of the hut is divided into two parts, which are marked off from one another by the hole in which grain is pounded by the women. The part in front of this is often used for churning, and with this part women have nothing to do, their operations being limited to the hinder part.



There is little difference between the dress of men and women. Each wears a mantle called the putkuli, which is worn thrown round the shoulders without any fastening. Under it is worn a loin-cloth called tadrp, and the men also wear a perineal band called kuvn, corresponding to the Hindu languti. The kuvn is kept in position by a string round the waist called pennar, a string which, we shall see later, is of considerable ceremonial importance.

There are various ways of wearing the cloak which will be [31]more fully described in Chapter XXIV. It will be sufficient to say here that when showing reverence, a Toda bares his right arm, this method of wearing the cloak so that the arm is exposed being called kevenarut. It is shown in Figs, 1 and 10.


The Daily Life of the Todas

The daily life of the Toda men is largely devoted to the care of their buffaloes and to the performance of the dairy operations. As we shall see later, much of the dairy work is the duty of certain men set aside to look after the sacred buffaloes and the sacred dairies connected with them. A large proportion, however, of the Toda buffaloes are not sacred, and their care falls on the ordinary Todas. The milking and churning is chiefly the duty of the younger men and boys, but the older men also take their part, while the head of the family exercises a general superintendence.



On rising in the morning, the men salute the sun with the gesture called kaimukhti, shown in Fig. 10, and then they turn to their work of milking the buffaloes and churning the milk.

When the dairy operations of the morning are over, the buffaloes are driven to the grazing ground, the people take their food and go about any business of the day. Some may [32]collect firewood and procure the leaves used as plates and drinking vessels; others may carry out any necessary tendance which the buffaloes require, or may go to fetch grain or rice from Badaga villages or from the bazaar. The chief men of the village may perhaps have to attend a meeting of the naim, or council, which holds very frequent sittings to adjudicate upon the many disputed points which arise in connexion with the intricate social organisation of the people.

While the men are doing their work, the women will have been seeing to their special tasks, of which three, represented in Fig. 11, have come to be regarded as pre-eminently woman’s work.

They pound the grain with the wask in a hole situated in the middle of the floor of the hut,4 and when the pounding is finished the grain is sifted with the murn, or sieve, and the hut is swept with the kip. It seemed that pounding grain is normally performed wearing the tadrp only.

Though these are the three operations which are regarded as pre-eminently woman’s work, the women have other things to do. They rub the seats or beds both inside and outside the hut with dried buffalo-dung, and use the same material to cleanse the various household utensils. They mend the garments of the family, and some women devote much time to the special embroidery with which they adorn their cloaks.



The ordinary routine of the day is often broken by the visits of people from other villages, who may have come to talk over a proposed marriage or transference of wives; to announce some approaching ceremony; to discuss some business connected with the buffaloes, or perhaps, but probably rarely, to pay a friendly call. Such a visit will probably give the opportunity of observing the characteristic Toda salutation shown in Fig. 12.5 This is essentially a salutation between a woman and her male relatives older than herself. If a man [33]visits a village in which he has any female relatives younger than himself, these will go out to meet him as he approaches the house, and each bows down before the man, who raises his foot, while the woman places her hand below the foot and helps to raise it to her forehead, and the same salutation is repeated with the other foot. This mode of greeting is [34]called kalmelpudithti,6 or “leg up he puts.” It is usually a salutation in which women bow down before men, but it may also take place between two men or between two women, while on certain occasions a male may bow down and have his forehead touched by the feet of a woman.

In the evening the buffaloes again find their way to the milking-place, and the operations of the morning are repeated. When these are finished the buffaloes are shut up in the enclosure, or tu, for the night; the lamp is now lighted and saluted by the men who use the same gesture as that with which the sun had been saluted in the morning. The people then take their food and retire to rest.


Sketch of Social Organisation

I shall consider the social organisation in detail at a much later stage, but it is necessary to give here a brief sketch in order to make its main features clear before going on to describe the Toda ceremonial, which often shows differences according to the division or clan with which the ceremony is connected. The fundamental feature of the social organisation is the division of the community into two perfectly distinct groups, the Tartharol and the Teivaliol. As we shall see more fully later, there is a certain amount of resemblance between these two divisions and the castes of the Hindus. There is a certain amount of specialisation of function, certain grades of the priesthood being filled only by members of the Teivaliol. Further, marriage is not allowed between members of the two divisions, though certain irregular unions are permitted; a Tarthar man must marry a Tarthar woman, and a Teivali man a Teivali woman. The Tartharol and Teivaliol are two endogamous divisions of the Toda people.

Each of these primary divisions is subdivided into a number of secondary divisions. These are exogamous, and I shall speak of them throughout this book as ‘clans,’ using this word as the best general term for an exogamous division of a tribe or community. [35]




Each clan possesses a group of villages and takes its name from the chief of these villages, the etudmad, and the people of a clan are known as madol, or village people.

The Tartharol are divided into twelve clans, which take their names from the villages of Nòdrs, Kars, Pan, Taradr, Keradr, Kanòdrs, Kwòdrdoni, Päm, Nidrsi, Melgars, Kidmad, and Karsh.7 The people of each clan are known as Nòdrsol, Karsol, Panol, &c. The Kidmadol and Karshol are much less important than the other ten clans, having split off from the Melgarsol in comparatively recent times. The original number of Tarthar clans appears to have been ten, and I have no record that any clan of this division has become extinct.

The Teivaliol are divided into six clans, or madol, taking their names from the villages of Kuudr, Piedr, Kusharf, Keadr, Pedrkars, and Kulhem. The people of Kuudr are called both Kuudrol and Kuurtol, and similarly the people of Piedr and Keadr are often called the Piertol and Keartol.

Here again two clans, the Pedrkarsol and the Kulhemol, are less important than the others. They are offshoots of the Kuudrol, but the separation is of very long standing.

There was some doubt as to the existence of another clan, the Kwaradrol, but it seemed certain that these people, who have now died out, formed a subdivision of the Keadrol.

One Teivali clan has become extinct, its last member having died, it was said, about a hundred years ago. This clan took its name from the village of Kemen, which was near Kiudr, but no trace of this village exists at present and I think it probable that the Kemenol have been extinct longer than the Todas suppose.

The villages of each clan are usually situated in the same part of the hills, though there are very often outlying villages far from the main group. At any one period of the year, only some of the villages of the clan are occupied. The people may move about from one village to another according [37]to the need for pasturage, and the villages in the Kundahs and other outlying parts of the hills appear only to be visited during the dry season before the south-west monsoon sets in.

Each clan is further subdivided, these subdivisions being of two kinds. One, called the kudr, is only of ceremonial importance, and we shall meet with it first in the chapter dealing with offerings. The other, called the pòlm, is of more practical importance, and is the basis of the machinery for regulating any expenses which fall on the clan as a whole. [38]

1 Those who wish for information on this point should consult the articles by Mr. Edgar Thurston in the Bulletins of the Madras Museum, vol. i., pp. 148 and 207, and vol. iv., p. 2. 

2 The word marth is also occasionally used. 

3 Harkness and others have called this pen tuel, but repeated inquiry on my part failed to elicit this form of the word. Tuelu would mean “where is the tu?” and it is possible that Harkness heard the word in this form. 

4 For the purpose of photography, a hole was made outside the hut exactly like that within the hut. The picture must not be taken to indicate that pounding is ever normally performed out of doors. 

5 The old man on the right in this picture shows a very characteristic Toda attitude, in which a person crouches down completely enveloped in the cloak. 

6 This salutation has been previously known by its Badaga name, adabuddiken

7 In these names and throughout the text the signs to indicate long vowels are generally omitted. In order to ascertain the exact method of pronunciation, the map or the list of villages in Appendix III. should be consulted. 




The milking and churning operations of the dairy form the basis of the greater part of the religious ritual of the Todas. The lives of the people are largely devoted to their buffaloes, and the care of certain of these animals, regarded as more sacred than the rest, is associated with much ceremonial. The sacred animals are attended by men especially set apart who form the Toda priesthood, and the milk of the sacred animals is churned in dairies which may be regarded as the Toda temples and are so regarded by the people themselves. The ordinary operations of the dairy have become a religious ritual and ceremonies of a religious character accompany nearly every important incident in the lives of the buffaloes.

Among the buffaloes held by the Toda to be sacred there are varying degrees of sanctity, and each kind of buffalo is tended at its own kind or grade of dairy by its own special grade of the priesthood; buffaloes and dairies forming an organisation the complexities of which were far from easy to unravel.

Each kind of dairy connected with its special kind of buffalo has its own peculiarities of ritual. The dairies form an ascending series in which we find increasing definiteness and complexity of ritual; increasing sanctity of the person of the dairyman-priest, increasing stringency of the rules for the conduct of his daily life, and increasing elaboration of the ceremonies which attend his entrance upon office. There are also certain dairies in which the ritual has developed in [39]special directions, and there are special features of the organisation of buffaloes and dairies not only in each of the two chief divisions of the Toda people, but also in many of the clans of which each division is composed.

I propose in this chapter to sketch some of the chief features of the buffalo and dairy organisation, and in succeeding chapters there will follow detailed accounts of the different dairies and of the ceremonial which accompanies the daily work of the dairy and the important events of buffalo life.


The Dairy Organisation

The first distinction to be made concerns the buffaloes. These animals are divided into those of a sacred character and those which may be called ‘ordinary buffaloes.’ The latter are known as putiir; they may be kept at any village, are tended by the men and boys of the village—in Toda language, they are tended by perol, or ordinary persons—and their milk is churned in the front part of the dwelling-hut. There is no special ritual of any kind connected with these buffaloes or with their milk, and there are no restrictions on the use of the milk or its products.

The classification of the sacred buffaloes is very different in the two divisions of the Toda people. The Teivaliol possess only one class of sacred buffalo and these buffaloes are called collectively pasthir. The Tartharol, on the other hand, have several classes of sacred buffalo, and, so far as I could ascertain, they have properly no collective term for all of them, though they are often spoken of by the Teivali term, pasthir.

Possessing only one kind of sacred buffalo, the dairy organisation of the Teivaliol is comparatively simple. The milk of the pasthir is churned in dairies at the more important villages of each clan. The dairy is, in general, called pali,1 and the dairyman is called palikartmokh, ‘dairy watch-boy,’ or palikartpol, ‘dairy watch-man,’2 according to his age; but, [40]probably owing to the general custom of employing youths or young men to fill the office of dairyman, the term palikartmokh is in far more general use, and is often employed even when the dairyman is an elderly man.

At many of the chief Teivali villages, there are two dairies; a large dairy, called etudpali, and a smaller, called kidpali. Each of these dairies should have its own palikartmokh, and this is still the case when both dairies are used, but at most villages at the present time one of the two dairies has been disused and there is in consequence only one dairyman.

Both ordinary and sacred buffaloes are the property, not of the whole clan, but of families or individuals, and the buffaloes tended at the dairy of a village are, in general, the property of the family living at that village. A large clan with many villages, such as that of Kuudr, has many dairies in working order and a corresponding number of dairymen.

Among the Tartharol the organisation is far more complicated. Most Tarthar clans have more than one kind of sacred buffalo in addition to the ordinary buffaloes or putiir. In every clan there is one kind of sacred herd which may be said to correspond to the pasthir of the Teivaliol. The milk of these buffaloes is churned in a dairy called pali by a dairyman called palikartmokh or palikartpol. There are, however, two grades of dairy corresponding to these buffaloes. The lower grade is called the tarpali, or more commonly tarvali, and is served by a tarvalikartmokh. The higher grade is called kudrpali, tended by a kudrpalikartmokh. There is no distinction of buffaloes corresponding to this distinction of dairies, the same buffaloes being tended sometimes at a kudrpali and sometimes at a tarvali. The distinguishing feature of a kudrpali is the possession of a mani, or sacred bell, and the greater elaboration and stringency of its ritual is due to the presence of this sacred object.

In addition to the buffaloes tended at the tarvali or kudrpali, most Tarthar clans possess other sacred buffaloes called wursulir. These buffaloes are tended by a dairyman called wursol and their milk is churned in a dairy called wursuli or wursulipali. One point which marks off this branch of the dairy organisation from the preceding is that [41]the dairyman, or wursol, must belong either to the Teivaliol or to the Melgars clan of the Tartharol. Both tarpalikartmokh and kudrpalikartmokh are chosen from the Tartharol, either of the same or of a different clan from that of the dairy, but the wursol must be taken either from the members of the other chief division of the Todas or from one special clan of the Tartharol, a clan which has many other peculiar privileges and occupies a position in some ways intermediate between Tartharol and Teivaliol.

The ritual of the wursuli is distinctly more elaborate than that of either tarvali or kudrpali, and the wursol is a more sacred personage, so far as one can judge from his rules of conduct and the elaboration of his ordination ceremonies.

Two Tarthar clans have dairies of especial importance and sanctity, in both of which there are distinctive features of ritual.

The people of Taradr possess a herd of buffaloes called kugvalir which take their name from the dairy, the kugvali or kugpali, meaning the chief or great dairy. The kugvalir are tended by a kugvalikartmokh, who must belong to the Taradrol. The six chief families of this clan take charge of the buffaloes for periods of three years in rotation, and the head of the family in charge selects the kugvalikartmokh.

The other Tarthar dairy which occupies an exceptional position is that of Kanòdrs, which is called a poh, and is tended by a dairyman called pohkartpol. The ritual both of this dairy and of the kugvali of Taradr resembles in some respects that of the most sacred Toda dairies, the dairies of the institution called the ti.

The number and nature of the dairies are different in the different Tarthar clans and in different villages of the same clan. The Melgars clan has only one kind of dairy, the tarvali. The Nòdrs clan now has a tarvali and a wursuli, and at most Kars villages there are both kudrpali and wursuli, but formerly both at Nòdrs and Kars there were three kinds of dairy, tarvali, kudrpali, and wursuli. Some Pan villages have tarvali and wursuli, others kudrpali and wursuli. At Taradr there are both tarvali and wursuli in addition to the special institution of that clan, the kugvali. [42]

All these various kinds of dairy are situated at the villages where the people live. In addition, five Tarthar clans possess dairies where are kept herds of great sanctity, the herds of the ti or the tiir. These buffaloes are kept at special dairies far from any village where people live. A place where such a dairy is situated is called a ti mad, or ti village, and each sacred herd moves about from one ti mad to another at different seasons of the year, and the group of places, together with the herds connected with it, is known collectively as a ti.3 The ti is thus the name of a special institution comprising buffaloes, dairies, grazing grounds, and the various buildings and objects connected with the dairies.

The ti is presided over by a dairyman-priest called palol, who is assisted by a boy or youth called kaltmokh or, more rarely, kavelol. Formerly it was the custom in most cases that a ti should have two palol, each of whom had his own herd of buffaloes and his own dairy, so that each ti mad had two dairies. This custom now persists in full at one ti only, though in other cases there are still two dairies, of which one is not used, or is only used on special occasions.

Though the ti is, in every case, regarded as the property of a Tarthar clan, the palol must be chosen from the Teivaliol, and in some cases the choice is restricted to certain Teivali clans. The kaltmokh must belong either to the Teivaliol or to the Melgars clan of the Tartharol. The dairy of a ti is always called a poh.

The ritual of the ti reaches a far higher degree of complexity than is attained in any village dairy. The palol is a far more sacred personage than the wursol or the palikartmokh; his life is far more strictly regulated, and the ceremonies attendant on his entrance into office are far more elaborate. The ceremonies connected with dairy or buffaloes are more numerous, and when they correspond to ceremonies performed at the lower grades of dairy, they are much more elaborate and prolonged. [43]


The Dairy

There are two forms of Toda dairy. One resembles very closely the ordinary hut, and, but for its situation and the higher wall which surrounds it, it might often be supposed to be one of the huts. The vast majority of dairies are now of this form. The other kind of dairy is circular with a conical roof. There are now only three or four of these buildings in existence, though others have only fallen into ruins in recent times. Breeks, who wrote in 1873, says4 that at that time there were four, and a fifth in ruins.

The best known of these dairies is that at Nòdrs (the Manboa of Breeks), shown in Fig. 13. It has received the name of “the Toda Cathedral,” and is one of the show places of the Nilgiris. Another (shown in Fig. 25) is at Kanòdrs (the Mutterzhva of Breeks). Both are village dairies of especial sanctity; the Nòdrs building is in full working order, while that of Kanòdrs is only occupied occasionally. A third dairy of the conical form is at the ti place of Anto near Sholur (the Kiurzh of Breeks) and should be regularly visited once a year, though the year in which I was on the Nilgiris was an exception. The fourth dairy of the kind (called by Breeks Tarzhva) is at Tarsòdr on the Kundahs. It is also a ti dairy, but is now falling into ruins, having been disused for about twenty years. The ruined dairy mentioned by Breeks (Katedva) is said to be still in the same condition. It was used as a ti dairy, and is near Makurti Peak.

There is no doubt that conical dairies were at one time more numerous. There was one at the ti place of Enòdr, not far from Ootacamund. There was another at the village of Kars, and the circular wall which once surrounded the dairy still remains, and has been converted into a buffalo pen.



The various names given to the Toda dairies are at first sight very confusing. We have already seen that each kind of dairy is named according to the kind of buffalo connected with it—according to its position in the dairy-series connecting tarvali with ti. Each dairy has also its own special or individual [45]name; thus the kudrpali of Kars is called Tarziolv, and the wursuli of the same village, Karziolv.

In addition to these two sets of names, there is another distinction of a more general kind. There are two general names, poh and pali, and every dairy is one or other of these. The former name is given to every ti dairy, to every dairy of the conical form,5 and to certain other dairies at the older and more important villages. Some of the latter are ordinarily called pali, but the name poh lingers in the name employed for the dairies in prayer (see Chapter X), or in the individual names of the dairies; thus the dairy at the ancient village of Nasmiòdr is ordinarily called a pali, but its individual name is Tilipoh. I think it probable that originally poh and pali were the names of the two forms of dairy, the conical kind being called poh and the ordinary kind pali. At the present time every existing conical dairy is a poh, and every dairy which is said to have been in the past of the conical form is called poh. It seems probable that in many cases a dairy, originally of the conical form, has been rebuilt in the same form as the dwelling-hut, owing to the difficulty and extra labour of reconstruction in the older shape; and that in some of these cases the dairy of the new form has retained the name of the old and is still called poh, at any rate on certain occasions. All the dairies to which the name poh is ever given are either ti dairies or are situated in villages of especial antiquity and sanctity.

There is now no definite rule as to the grade of dairymen who shall serve at a dairy called poh. The poh of a ti is, of course, occupied by a palol and kaltmokh. The conical poh of Nòdrs, the old conical poh of Kars, and several old dairies which are still called poh in the prayers are, or were, tended by dairymen of the rank of wursol, while several poh of the ordinary shape belonging to the Teivaliol are occupied by dairymen called palikartmokh. The only place at which the dairyman takes his name from the poh is Kanòdrs, where the conical dairy is occupied by a pohkartpol. [46]



There is a considerable degree of uniformity in the orientation of dairies of all grades. The doors usually face in an easterly direction, and in the majority of those I observed the door faced north of east, the most frequent direction being some point between east and north-east. In one case, that of the ti poh at Mòdr, the door of the dairy faces south-east; but in front of the door there is a screen, and on leaving [47]his dairy the palol always turns to the left, so that he faces north-east as he goes towards his buffaloes. In a few dairies the door faces directly west, and, according to Breeks, this is the case at the conical dairy of Anto.


The Toda Buffalo

The Toda buffalo is a variety of the Indian water-buffalo, but the life on the hills seems to have produced a much finer animal than that of the plains. Although thoroughly under the control of the Todas, the buffaloes are semi-wild and often attack people of a different race from their owners, and Europeans have frequently been severely injured by the onslaught of these animals.

The Toda name for the male buffalo is er, and for the female ir, but either term may be used when the people speak of buffaloes collectively. Calves have different designations at different ages. A young calf is kar, one from one to two years of age is pòl, and a three-year-old calf is nakh.

Defective buffaloes, and especially those with only one horn, are called kwadrir, and those whose horns bend downwards are kughir. Barren buffaloes are called maiir.

There are considerable differences of colour among the buffaloes. Those much lighter than the rest are called nerir or pushtir, and there is a legend about the origin of these buffaloes, which, however, I failed to obtain. The only obvious way in which the animals differ from one another in marking is that some have a black stripe running down either side of the neck very much in the position which would be occupied by the chain suspending a bell.

There do not seem to be any physical differences between the buffaloes of different classes, and, as we shall see shortly, the nature of the breeding of the Toda buffaloes is such as would have entirely destroyed any distinctions of the kind if they had ever existed.

Every adult female buffalo has an individual name, which is usually given when her first calf is born. The number of buffalo names is limited, so that many buffaloes bear the same name. [48]

The following are among the buffalo names of which I have records:—Kûdzi or Kûrsi, Kâsimi, Pän or Pern, Kiûd or Kiûdz, Enmon, Koisi, Keien, Ilsh or Idrsh, Kârsthum, Perûv or Perov, Kebân, Enmars, Persud, Nerûv, Kôzi, Perith, Pülkoth, Persuth, Tòthi, Kerâni, Keirev, Püthiov, Peires, Nersâdr, Tâlg, Ûf, Köji, Persv, Arvatz, Kòjiû, Pundrs, Purkîsi, and Òrsum.

Both Tartharol and Teivaliol have the same names for their buffaloes, and it seemed that a buffalo of any village herd might have the same name as one belonging to the ti. It is possible, however, that certain names may be restricted to the ti herds. I collected some names which occurred only in these herds, but I cannot say positively that they might not also be used for less sacred buffaloes.

Male buffaloes are unnamed and appear to have little or no sanctity even when born of cows of the most sacred herds. The greater number of male calves are either killed at erkumpthtiti ceremonies (Chap. XIII) or given away to the Kotas. A few are kept for breeding purposes, usually in the proportion of two to every hundred females.

There is a singular absence of care about the breeding of the buffaloes. The Todas have many herds of which every female has some degree of sacredness, and it might have been expected that the bulls of a sacred herd would have been carefully chosen from the male calves of that herd. So far as I could ascertain after repeated inquiries, there was no restriction of any kind in the mating of the sacred animals; a bull of the ordinary buffaloes (putiir) of a village might even mate with the highly sacred animals of a ti dairy. No importance seemed to be attached to the question of paternity among the buffaloes, and so far as I could ascertain the people were quite indifferent whether the male was related or unrelated to the female, whether of the same or of another herd.

I did not hear of the existence of any ceremonies connected with the chosen male buffaloes. Marshall states6 that a bull new from one of the sacred ti herds undergoes a process of sanctification before he is permanently installed, [49]by being isolated for a day and night in a small pen in the sacred woods of the ti, during which time he is deprived of food, though allowed access to water. Marshall also states that it is permissible to introduce a bull from an ordinary drove “after due sanctification.” Though I failed to obtain definite confirmation of Marshall’s statement, it is possible that something of the kind may at one time have taken place or may even still take place.

At the present time the buffaloes are tended entirely by males, and males only are allowed to take any part either in the work of the dairy or in those dairy operations which are performed in the house. There is a tradition that at one time women attended to the buffaloes at the time of calving, and one incident is recorded in which women performed Cæsarian section on a dying buffalo (p. 78), but this custom has now long ceased to be followed.

The first buffaloes were created by one of the chief Toda gods, Ön, and his wife. The buffaloes created by the male deity were the progenitors of the sacred buffaloes, while the ordinary buffaloes or putiir are descended from those created by the wife. Certain other buffaloes are descended from ancestors created by other gods, but the account of their various creations may be deferred till the chapter containing the legends of the gods. I was told by some that the sacred buffaloes were descended from a sambhar deer, but it was later found that this was only believed to be true of one special group of buffaloes belonging to one clan.


Dairy Procedure

The general plan of the dairy procedure is the same in all dairies, the difference between different dairies lying chiefly in certain formalities accompanying certain stages of the procedure.

The day’s operations begin with the churning of the milk drawn on the previous evening. The milk is poured from the milking-vessels into earthenware pots, and during the night it will have coagulated. The coagulated mass is first broken up by the churn; water and butter already made are added, [50]and then the churning is continued till the milk separates into a solid part, which I shall speak of as ‘butter,’ and a liquid, which I shall call ‘buttermilk.’ It must be remembered, however, that these do not correspond to the butter and buttermilk of a European dairy. The milk coagulates before the cream has risen in any quantity, and there is no skimming. The ‘butter’ consists of both the fat and casein of the milk, while the ‘buttermilk’ ought perhaps rather to be called ‘whey.’

In order to avoid this ambiguity in the use of the words ‘butter’ and ‘buttermilk’ it might have seemed desirable to use the Toda terms for these products; but I have not done so, partly in order to avoid the too frequent use of Toda words, partly because the names are not constant among the Todas themselves, different terms being used in different dairies.

When the churning is finished, the butter and buttermilk are put into their appropriate vessels, and the dairyman goes out to milk the buffaloes, using for this purpose a bamboo milking-vessel, into which he has put some buttermilk from the previous churning. The newly drawn milk is poured into the earthenware vessels, in which it stands till the afternoon. By this time the milk will have become solid, and is churned as in the morning.

The ‘butter’ is used chiefly in the form of ghi, or clarified butter, for which the Toda name is nei. The butter is clarified by keeping it over the fire after the addition of grain or rice. The latter sinks to the bottom of the vessel, while the nei consists of the liquefied fat of the milk. The nei or ghi is partly used by the Todas, but is largely sold at the bazaar. The deposit of grain or rice is called al, and is one of the chief Toda foods. It is, no doubt, mixed with part of the proteid constituents of the milk precipitated during the process of clarification.

FIG. 15.—ÒD (26) CHURNING.

FIG. 15.—ÒD (26) CHURNING.

The milking-vessel is of bamboo, and several of the small vessels used in the dairy procedure are also made from bamboo of various sizes. The vessels into which the milk is poured and in which it is churned are of earthenware, and the vessels in which the butter and buttermilk are kept are also [52]of this kind. The earthenware vessels used in the ordinary dairy-work are made by the Kotas.

The names of the different dairy vessels vary according to the dairy in which they are used, and these, together with a complete list of the dairy vessels and implements, will be reserved till later.

The method of churning is shown in Fig. 15. The churning is always done within the hut or dairy, but in order to obtain a photograph of the process a staff was put in the ground outside a hut, so that the figure shows exactly the method used within the hut or dairy. The upright staff is called palmän, or ‘milk-tree’; the two rings by means of which the churning-stick is fastened to the palmän are called palkati, or ‘milk-ties.’ The cord by which the churning-stick, or madth is revolved is called kudinan or palv.

The general plan of the dairy operations appears to be much the same as that practised elsewhere in India. There are, however, two special features of the Toda procedure which, so far as I know, are not in general use elsewhere. One of these is the addition of buttermilk from a previous churning. This addition probably hastens the process of coagulation, and has a material use, but in the hands of the Todas it has become of great ceremonial importance, and forms the basis of some of the most interesting features of the dairy ritual.

The other special feature which does not seem to be generally found in India is the addition of grain or rice when clarifying the butter. Unlike the addition of buttermilk, this has no ceremonial value, and is chiefly important in providing the Todas with one of their favourite foods.


The Care of the Ordinary Buffaloes

The ordinary buffaloes, or putiir, of a village are looked after and milked by the males of the village; by those who in Toda terminology are perol, or ordinary men, as compared with those who have been ordained to one of the sacred dairy offices.

When the people rise in the morning, the buffaloes are [53]released from the pen, or tu, in which they have been enclosed for the night, and the animals make their way at once to the place where they are accustomed to be milked, the irkarmus. At the same time, or a little later, the calves are released from their enclosure, the kadr, and each calf runs to its mother. The milk of the previous night is churned in the interior of the dwelling-hut, usually by one of the youths of the family. In the dairy one man has to carry out all the dairy operations, and here the churning is always finished before the milking begins; but in the case of the ordinary buffaloes, where many take part in the work, the two operations may go on simultaneously, and while one man or boy is churning, others will be milking the buffaloes and carrying the milk into the hut. Usually it seemed that each of the males of the family was taking his part in the proceedings.



Whenever I watched the milking operations, I saw one [54]man, the head of the family, walking about and superintending the operations, while several other men and youths were milking the buffaloes or churning the milk within the hut. It seemed as if in general each buffalo gave very little milk, and a man soon left one buffalo to go to another, and as the bamboo milking-vessels are small and have soon to be emptied, there was a constant moving about from one buffalo to another and from the milking-place to the hut. A typical milking scene is shown in Fig. 16. Each man carries a stick, with which he keeps off troublesome calves who may come to suck while the milking is going on (see Fig. 17). If a buffalo and its calf are troublesome, milk is sometimes smeared on the back of the calf, and the buffalo occupies herself with licking the calf, a process which keeps both quiet. At other times, a man may pour milk into his hollowed hand which he gives to one of the buffaloes to drink.

FIG. 17.

FIG. 17.


When the milking is over, the buffaloes are driven to their grazing-ground, where they remain till the afternoon, when they return, often spontaneously, to the milking-place, and the operations of the morning are repeated.

While at the pasturage, one or two small boys are often in attendance to keep the buffaloes from straying beyond the proper grazing-ground. [56]

1 This word should probably be paḷḷi and was usually pronounced paḷthḷi, but I have adopted the spelling of the text for the sake of simplicity. 

2 According to some Todas, kart was a shortened form of karitht, milking or milked. 

3 In previous accounts of the Todas, the place where these sacred herds are kept has always been called a tirieri. This is not properly a Toda term, but is that used by the Badagas. 

4 An Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilagiris, 1873, p. 14. 

5 This word, in the forms boa, boath, &c., has by previous writers been limited to dairies of the conical shape. There is no doubt that it has at present a far wider application. 

6 A Phrenologist among the Todas, 1873, p. 132. 




This chapter will be devoted to a description of the various kinds of dairy which are found at the Toda villages. An account will be given of the daily course of the dairy operations and of the ritual accompanying it. The description of special ceremonies which occur in connexion with the dairy will be reserved till future chapters, in which ceremonies of the same nature occurring in all grades of dairy can be considered together.

A village dairy is often situated at some little distance from the huts in which the people live, though sometimes it is in their immediate neighbourhood. When of the same form as the hut, it may not at once be distinguished from the latter, but it is usually enclosed by a higher wall which surrounds the building more closely, so that there is very little room between the two. The door seemed to me to be usually smaller than that of most of the huts, and it is always capable of being closed by a shutter on the inner side.

The dairy is usually divided into compartments completely separated from one another by a partition extending to the roof, one room being entered from another by a small door of the same kind as that by which the dairy itself is entered. The majority of dairies have two rooms, an inner room called ulkkursh and an outer room called pòrmunkursh. Many dairies, especially among the kind called wursuli, have only one room. At five Tarthar villages, viz., Nòdrs, Taradrkirsi, Keradr, Akirsikòdri, and Tim, there are dairies which have [57]three rooms, the inner and outer rooms being separated by a third, called the nedrkursh. Each of the five villages at which these dairies are found is the funeral-place for males of the clan to which the village belongs, and the body of a dead man is placed in the outer room of the dairy at each place during the funeral ceremonies.

At Nòdrs and Tedshteiri (villages of the Nòdrs clan) it is said that there were at one time dairies each of which had seven rooms. The ruins of these, which were of the grade called kudrpali, are still to be seen.

Sometimes the same building serves for two dairies, especially at the less important villages of a clan. In these cases the building resembles that kind of hut which is called merkalars, one compartment of the hut opening at the side. At the villages at which I found dairies of this kind, the front part of the hut was a kudrpali and the part with the door at the side was a wursuli. In these cases each dairy has only one room.

In every dairy which has more than one room, the dairy vessels are kept in the inner room and the actual dairy operations are performed by the dairyman in this room. He only is allowed to go into the inner room, while other men may go into the outer room and, in those cases in which there are three rooms, into the middle room.

When a village dairy has two or more rooms, the outer room first entered from the outside is often used as a sleeping-place and in this case usually has two of the couches called tün, one on each side with a fireplace between them. That on the right-hand side as one enters is called the meitün (meiltün), or high (superior) bed, and that on the left-hand side is the kitün, or low (inferior) bed.

In the outer room is kept the kepun or kaipun (hand vessel), used to hold the water with which the dairyman washes his hands. The masth, or axe used for cutting firewood, and the tek or tekh, a basket used to bring rice or grain into the dairy, are also kept in this room.

The fireplace between the two sleeping-places is usually made of four stones and is called kudrvars. At the wursuli it is made of three stones and is called waskal. [58]

The room of the dairy which contains the dairy vessels is divided into three parts: the patatmar, the ertatmar, and the kalkani.

The patatmar takes its name from the patat, an earthenware vessel into which the milk is poured from the milking vessel and in which it is churned. The vessels kept in this part of the inner room, which are known collectively as patatpur, are those which are actually used in the milking and churning.

The ertatmar takes its name from the ertat, a bamboo vessel used to carry buttermilk or butter out of the dairy. The ertat and the vessels kept with it, known collectively as the ertatpur, are those which receive the products of the churning or are used to convey these products out of the dairy. The lamp and the fire-sticks used for making fire by friction are also kept in this part of the dairy.

In the third part of the room, called the kalkani, are kept leaves, firewood, knives, and various sticks or wands. According to some accounts, the vessel called penpariv is also kept here.

When the dairy vessels are taken into a new dairy (see Chap. VI.), they are placed on ferns. I do not know whether they always rest on a bed of ferns or whether the ferns are only used when the vessels are first placed in the dairy.

The following is a list of the patatpur, the vessels and other objects which are kept in the part of the dairy called patatmar:

Patat or tat. Earthenware vessels into which the freshly drawn milk is poured and in which it is churned (Fig. 18, F). There are several of these vessels, one of which may be used to hold water.

Irkartpun or patatpun. The bamboo milking-vessel (Fig. 18, I).

Parskadrvenmu or parskadrpenmu, i.e., milk churn butter mu (Fig. 18, H). This is also sometimes called kazhmu, and is a small earthenware vessel in which is kept the butter (pen) which is added while churning. Except when the churning is in progress, it is used as a cover for the patat.



  • A. The palmän.
  • B. The palkati.
  • C. The madth.
  • D. A tedshk.
  • E. The ertatpun.
  • F. The patat.
  • G. The pòlmachok.
  • H. The parskadrvenmu.
  • I. The irkartpun.
  • K. The adimu.

Adimu. An earthenware vessel (Fig. 18, K) into which [60]some of the coagulated milk may be poured while churning. It may also be used to fetch water from the dairy stream.

Madth or parskartmadth. Churning-stick (Fig. 18, C).

Palkati. Bamboo rings for holding the churning-stick while churning.

Parskurs or ularwurthkurs. Stick or wand used chiefly for driving off calves while milking.

Tatkich. The cut-up ends of a churning-stick, used for cleaning the patat.

Tedshk. Rings made of rattan (Fig. 18, D), used in carrying the dairy vessels.

The garment of the dairyman, called tuni, is also kept here, and when there is a mani (bell), it is kept on the patatmar. The churning-stick is kept on a stand called agar.

The following are the objects kept on the ertatmar:

Majpariv. Vessel in which buttermilk is kept.

Penpariv. Vessel in which butter is kept. (According to some, this vessel is kept in the part called kalkani.)

Ertatpun. Vessel used to take buttermilk or butter out of the dairy (Fig. 18, E).

Majertkudriki. A small earthenware pot used like a ladle to take buttermilk out of the majpariv. It is also called ashkiok.

Pòlmachok. A bamboo vessel (Fig. 18, G) used to hold the buttermilk which is distributed to the people of the village.

Nirsi. The fire-sticks for making fire by friction.

Pelk. The lamp.

Tòratthadi. Cooking vessel which may be used for anything except barley.

Put, a stirring-stick.

When there is only one room, the masth, axe for cutting firewood, may be kept on the ertatmar; otherwise it is kept in the outer room.

The vessels and other objects of the patatmar are those which come directly into contact with the milk of the buffaloes or which may at any time come into contact with the buffaloes themselves.

The vessels and objects of the ertatmar, on the other hand, are those which contain the dairy products which are going [61]out to ordinary people (perol), or which come into contact with food or other materials obtained from ordinary people.

The things of the patatmar are always kept apart from those of the ertatmar. When the buffaloes migrate from one grazing-place to another, the things of the patatmar are carried by one man and those of the ertatmar by another.

In connexion with many dairies there is a house in which calves are kept, the kwotars, and a place for very young calves, called kush or kudsh, which is sometimes partly formed by the spreading roots of a tree.

I am in some doubt as to whether the buffaloes belonging to a village dairy ever have a special tu in which they are enclosed for the night. In general, however, there is no doubt that the sacred buffaloes of the dairy occupy the same pen as the ordinary buffaloes. Similarly I am not clear whether the dairy always has its own irkarmus, or milking-place, or whether ordinary and sacred buffaloes are not often milked at the same spot, the dairyman recognising the buffaloes committed to his charge and milking them only.

Every dairy has its own place from which water is drawn the pali nipa. This may be a different stream from that used for household purposes, but is, perhaps, most commonly part of the same stream, the higher part being used for dairy purposes. When a village has more than one dairy, each dairy has its own place for drawing water, usually different parts of the same stream.

The foregoing account holds good of all kinds of village dairy. The different grades of village dairy present differences in the daily procedure, in the qualifications and rules of conduct of the dairyman, and in other respects. I will begin with the tarvali of the Tartharol.


The Tarvali

This is the name applied to the lowest grade of Tarthar dairy and may mean “the ordinary dairy,” the first syllable being probably the same as in the word “Tarthar.”

The tarvali is always of the ordinary form and is never called poh. The dairyman, or tarvalikartmokh, is often a [62]youth or man of the village to which the dairy belongs, but he may be taken from any other village of the clan or from other Tarthar villages, the choice in some cases being restricted to certain clans. The only Tarthar clan which is strictly limited to its own members in the choice of tarvalikartmokh is that of Melgars. In all cases this grade of dairyman must be one of the Tartharol; he is never taken from the other division of the Toda people.

When the dairyman is taken from another clan, he may receive certain wages, viz., two cloaks (putkuli) in the year and six rupees, together with the loan of a milking buffalo for the use of his family. I have no definite information whether anything is given to dairymen who are members of the clan or family to which the dairy belongs.

The dairyman is regarded by the Todas as a servant, especially when taken from another clan. I was often told that a man was working for another and was his servant, and always found that the so-called servant was palikartmokh at the dairy of the village at which the master lived. Correspondingly, there seemed to be no doubt that the dairyman was treated with very scant respect, except on ceremonial occasions and when actually performing the ritual of his office.

The tarvalikartmokh wears nothing but the kuvn, or perineal band, when he is in the dairy, and wears a loincloth called irkarthtadrp when milking. When away from his work or when looking after his buffaloes on the grazing-ground, he wears the ordinary cloak, or putkuli. He usually sleeps in the outer room of the dairy, but is allowed to sleep at any time in the dwelling-hut. When he goes there he may only touch the sleeping-place (idrtül) and the floor (kuter). If he touches any other part of the hut, he at once loses his office and becomes an ordinary person. There are no restrictions on the intercourse of the tarvalikartmokh with women.



When the tarvalikartmokh rises in the morning, he leaves the dairy, raising one or both hands to his face as in Fig. 10 and saying Sami or Swami. He often also says this word when getting up from the sleeping-place. He first lets the buffaloes out of the pen (tu) in which they had been put for the night and then goes into the dairy to churn. He does not light the [64]lamp in the morning unless it is dark, nor does he pray. The milk poured into the patat overnight will have coagulated, so that it forms a solid mass called adrpars. The dairyman puts the churning-stick into the patat and churns for a little time till he has broken up the adrpars.1 Then he pours off most of the semi-fluid milk into another vessel (also a patat), leaving about one kudi2 in the churning-vessel. He adds to this some butter from a previous churning, which he takes from the parskadrvenmu, adds also some water, and churns the mixture till butter is formed. He pours out the buttermilk into the majpariv, keeping the butter in the patat, adds more coagulated milk and water, and churns again, transferring the buttermilk to its vessel when butter is formed. He continues in this way till all the milk has been churned, and he then transfers the butter which has been formed to the vessel called penpariv, also putting a small portion in the parskadrvenmu.

The palikartmokh then goes out to milk, with the irkarthpun and the wand called parskurs or ularwurthkurs. He puts into the milking-vessel some buttermilk, the buttermilk used for this purpose being called pep, and he also smears some butter on the edge of the vessel to put on the teats of the buffaloes. When he goes out, he salutes by raising the irkarthpun and parskurs to his forehead in the same manner as is shown in Fig. 27. When he has filled the milking-vessel, he goes into the dairy and empties the milk into the patat and returns to the buffaloes. This is repeated till all the buffaloes have been milked, after which the dairyman takes food and buttermilk, but with no prescribed ritual as in the case of more sacred dairies. He also gives out buttermilk to the people of the village. After the work of the morning is over, the palikartmokh may go out to look after the buffaloes, or may collect firewood, leaves, or other things necessary for his work. During the later hours of the morning the palikartmokh may often be seen lying down taking a rest before he begins the work of the afternoon, which is more ceremonial than that of the morning. [65]



About three o’clock in the afternoon he goes to the dairy, bows down and touches the threshold with his forehead (pavnersatiti, Fig. 20), enters and touches a vessel on the patat side, and then a vessel on the ertat side. He then lights the fire and inspects the milk drawn in the morning. If it has not become solid, he puts it on the fire for a few minutes to hasten the coagulation. He lights the lamp and prays, using the prayer of the dairy (see Chap. X), and then churns as in the morning. When he has finished churning, he clears the churning-stick of the butter clinging to it, and after holding it to his forehead and uttering the sacred word “”, he puts it in the stand called agar. He then goes out to milk as in the morning, taking buttermilk in the milking-vessel. When the milking is over, he shuts up the buffaloes in the pen for the night, and as he does so, he repeats the prayer of the dairy, the prayer being exactly the same as that used when lighting the lamp. He then takes food and [66]goes to sleep, often saying Swami as he lies down for the night.

The tarvali of the Melgars people is in some ways regarded as superior to the other tarvali of the Tartharol. The Melgars tarvalikartmokh may not go to the tarvali of another Tarthar clan, though the tarvalikartmokh of another clan may go to a Melgars tarvali. This was said to be due to the higher degree of sanctity of the Melgars dairy and office, but there do not appear to be any differences of ritual corresponding to this different degree of sanctity.


The Kudrpali

The special feature of the kudrpali is that it contains one or more of the bells called mani. This involves several additions to the ceremonial of the dairy, and these are accompanied by more stringent rules of conduct for the dairyman.

Whenever engaged in his work, the kudrpalikartmokh must be naked except for the kuvn. In the cold Nilgiri mornings it must often be a very unpleasant task to have to milk the buffaloes with no covering, and I was told that at some places, and especially at Nòdrs, the people gave up the maintenance of a kudrpali on account of the difficulty experienced in obtaining men to undertake the office of dairyman.

When the kudrpalikartmokh is taking his meals, he must hold his food in his hands till he has finished. He is not allowed to put it down on the ground, as may be done by the dairyman of the tarvali.

Soon after beginning to churn, the kudrpalikartmokh takes up some of the broken-up curd (adrpars) and puts it on the bell (mani) three times, saying “” each time, and milk from the vessel first brought into the dairy is also put on the bell in the same manner.

At the kudrpali of Kars, the dairyman puts the curd and milk on a board called pato. The bells of this dairy have been lost, and the dairyman puts the milk on the board on which the bells used to hang. The process of putting milk on the bells is properly called terzantirikiti, but the Todas [67]often speak of the process as “feeding the bell.” At the kudrpali of Kuzhu, belonging to the Kars clan, milk is put in the same way on a gold bracelet.



When making butter, it will be remembered that the dairyman of the tarvali makes a certain amount, and then pours away the buttermilk, and repeats this till all the adrpars has been converted into butter and buttermilk. Whenever the kudrpalikartmokh pours away buttermilk, he takes a piece of the bark of the sacred tudr tree (Meliosma pungens and Wightii) and beats three times on the patat, saying “” each time. This ceremony is called pepeirthti, and is the exclusive privilege of the kudrpalikartmokh. If this ceremony should be omitted, the buttermilk may not be drunk by any one.

The kudrpalikartmokh is allowed to sleep in the ordinary hut, but only on special days—viz., Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday—and on these days he must, like the tarvalikartmokh, [68]avoid touching anything in the hut except the sleeping-place and the floor on pain of losing his office. He is allowed intercourse with any Tarthar woman, but must have nothing to do with the women of his own division, the Teivaliol.

While in office, the kudrpalikartmokh is not allowed to visit the bazaar,3 and if he does so he becomes an ordinary person at once. One afternoon when I was working with Parkurs (8), one of the elders of the Kars clan, Sakari (7), who had been kudrpalikartmokh at Kuzhu, came to announce that he had visited the bazaar at Ootacamund. He was therefore no longer palikartmokh, and he came to tell Parkurs that a successor must be appointed. It seemed to me in this case that Sakari had visited the bazaar because he was tired of office and wished to become free. I had a suspicion also that he wished to become acquainted with my proceedings, for he came straight to me from the bazaar and was one of my most regular attendants for some time after his deprivation. The kudrpalikartmokh is prohibited from entering a tarvali, though the tarvalikartmokh may enter a kudrpali.

The milk of buffaloes connected with a kudrpali is more sacred than that of buffaloes milked at a tarvali. Any one may drink milk from a tarvali, but the milk of the kudrpali may only be drunk by the palikartmokh. If any one else drinks the milk of the kudrpali it is believed that he will die. I could learn of no case in which a man had taken this milk, but Kòdrner (7) had seen a cat die on the day it had drunk milk of the martir, the buffaloes of the kudrpali of Kars. Kòdrner was somewhat of a sceptic in connexion with many of the beliefs of his people, but he was very much in earnest on this occasion, and when my interpreter said he should like to drink some of the milk, Kòdrner offered to give him one hundred rupees if he drank the milk of martir for four days and remained alive.

The buffaloes tended at the tarvali and kudrpali are of several named kinds. According to tradition, each clan at the original distribution of buffaloes by Teikirzi (see p. 186) was given a certain kind. To Kars were given the buffaloes [69]called martir; to Nòdrs were given nashperthir; to Pan, pineipir; to Melgars, persasir; these buffaloes originally given being called in general nòdrodvaiir; lit. “buffaloes who rule.”

In various ways the buffaloes originally given to one clan have passed into the possession of other clans. This has happened when buffaloes have been purchased, but is chiefly due to the existence of several customs which involve gifts of buffaloes. The tradition also runs that soon after the buffaloes were originally given, the Nòdrs people built the kudrpali with seven rooms to which I have already referred and begged the Kars people for martir to milk at this dairy. Similarly the people of Kanòdrs borrowed martir from Kars to milk at their conical dairy, and similar transferences of buffaloes may have occurred between other clans. In these and possibly in other ways buffaloes have passed from one clan to another, and as the buffaloes have in many cases kept their original names, most clans now possess buffaloes of several kinds.

I was for a long time very doubtful about the relation of the kudrpali and tarvali to one another, and had very great difficulty in finding out which buffaloes belonged to each kind of dairy. Finally, it became quite clear that the same buffaloes might be milked either at a kudrpali or a tarvali, and that the possession of a mani was the chief point which determined whether a given dairy was a kudrpali or a tarvali.

The same kind of buffalo may be milked at one kind of dairy in one clan and at the other kind in another clan. The nashperthir of Nòdrs are milked at the tarvali of that place, but those of Kars are milked at the kudrpali together with the martir. Further, in at least one case, the same buffaloes might be milked in one village of a clan at a kudrpali and in another village at a tarvali. The Pan people now live chiefly at Naters and the chief villages of the clan in the Kundahs, Pan and Kuirsi, are deserted during the greater part of the year. When these villages are occupied the pineipir are milked at their kudrpali dairies, but when the people are at Naters the same buffaloes are milked at the tarvali. The mani is left at Pan, and I was told that if the bell were to be [70]brought to Naters a kudrpali would have to be built for its reception and the pineipir would then be milked at this dairy.

At the present time the only clan which has a kudrpali in constant use is that of Kars. The Pan clan only uses its kudrpali during the few months that the villages in the Kundahs are occupied. The Nòdrs clan is said to have had a kudrpali at one time, but the fact that they had to borrow buffaloes for it from Kars points to the especial connexion of the kudrpali with the latter clan.

Although the Karsol and Panol are the only clans which have a kudrpali, the special feature of which is the possession of a mani, these are not the only clans which own these sacred bells. In other cases the mani belongs to the next higher grade of dairy, the wursuli, and the Kars clan itself also possesses mani kept at this grade of dairy. Indeed, although the Kars kudrpali is said to have bells as its special feature, these bells do not really exist, having been stolen some years ago. The fiction of their presence is, however, kept up, and, as we have seen, the place where they should hang is still ‘fed’ with curd and milk.

In one case, that of the Kars kudrpali, I worked out in detail the ownership and care of the buffaloes called martir. There were altogether forty-eight of these buffaloes kept at six places and tended by seven dairymen, who were chosen from the Karsol or from the people of Nòdrs, Pan, Taradr or Keradr.

The distribution at the time of my visit was as follows:—

Kutadri (7) possessed 8 buffaloes kept at Kars tended by Idjen of Taradr (22)
Kutthurs (12) possessed,, 8 buffaloes,, kept at,, Kars,, tended by,, Tilipa of Kars (12)
Parkurs (8) possessed,, 8 buffaloes,, kept at,, Isharadr tended by,, Kosners of Nòdrs (6)
Pidrvan (9) possessed,, 6 buffaloes,, kept at,, Pakhalkudr tended by,, Tidjkudr of Nòdrs (6)
Kuinervan (14) possessed,, 6 buffaloes,, kept at,, Peletkwur tended by,, Pons of Keradr (26)
Potheners (10) possessed,, 6 buffaloes,, kept at,, Keshker tended by,, Palpa of Pan (16)
Nudriki (8) possessed,, 3 buffaloes,, kept at,, Kuzhu tended by,, Mutkudr of Kars (15)
Mongeithi (15) possessed,, 3 buffaloes,, kept at,, Kuzhu,, tended by,, Mutkudr,, of,, Kars (15),,

It will be noticed that in only two of the dairies did the palikartmokh belong to the Karsol, and in each case he looked after the buffaloes of his own father, Mutkudr also tending the buffaloes of Nudriki. Idjen was the son-in-law of [71]Kutadri, and Palpa had married a Kars woman, who was not, however, closely related to Potheners, to whom he was acting as dairyman. Kosners and Tidjkudr were given to me as examples of a practice in which a man of one clan works for one of another,4 and they received the same wages as in the case of the tarvalikartmokh (see p. 62).

These facts show clearly that the kudrpalir are not regarded as the property of the whole clan, but belong to different families, and the same is true of the buffaloes milked at the tarvali. Each family possesses its own sacred buffaloes as well as its ordinary buffaloes or putiir, and in some cases the buffaloes of each family have their own dairyman, even when the milk of two herds is churned in the same dairy.


The Wursuli

Most of the Tarthar clans possess herds of buffaloes called collectively wursulir, each herd being tended by a dairyman called wursol at a dairy called wursuli or wursuli pali. The buffaloes of different clans have special names. At Nòdrs, they are called mersgursir; at Kars and Taradr, püdrshtipir; at Pan, kudeipir; at Keradr, miniapir; and at Nidrsi and Kwòdrdoni, keitankursir. The people of Päm, Kanòdrs, and Melgars have no wursulir; Päm and Kanòdrs both had buffaloes of this kind at one time, but they have been allowed to die out. Melgars, on the other hand, never had wursulir, the tradition being that none of these buffaloes were assigned to the clan at the original partition by Teikirzi.

The wursulir are said to have been given to most clans at the original partition of buffaloes, but no reason could be given for the creation of this special kind of buffalo. The Keradr clan are believed to have received their wursulir from Korateu (see Chap. IX), the buffaloes being descended from a sambhar calf given by this god.

A special feature of the wursuli is that the dairyman or wursol of this Tarthar dairy has to be taken either from the Teivaliol or from the Melgars clan of the Tartharol. The [72]Melgars people could hold the office of wursol, but had no wursulir themselves. At the present time the majority of men who hold this office are drawn from the Teivaliol, only two belonging to Melgars, and it seemed that it was only when the supply ran short among the Teivaliol that the Tarthar people had recourse to members of their own division. The Melgarsol do not share fully the privileges of the Teivaliol in respect of this office, for though they may perform the ordinary work of the dairy, there are certain duties of the wursol, such as those at the funeral ceremonies, which may only be performed by a Teivali occupant of the office.

The wursol has to go through more complicated ordination ceremonies than the palikartmokh, and has a distinctly higher degree of sanctity so far as one can judge from the rules for his conduct. He may not be touched by any ordinary person, and in general the rules regulating his conduct are more stringent than those for the ordinary dairyman.

The wursol has two dresses; one, the grey garment called tuni, which is worn at his dairy work and kept in the dairy; the other, the ordinary putkuli, which he wears when not engaged at his special work.

The wursol does not sleep in his own dairy, but in one of a different kind, a village which has a wursuli always having at least one other dairy. At Kars he sleeps in the kudrpali, and at Nòdrs in the tarvali. He is allowed to sleep in the hut of a Tarthar village on two nights in the week—viz., Sunday and Wednesday—and on these occasions he may have intercourse with any Tarthar woman. Except on these occasions he loses his office even if touched by a woman. He is not allowed to have intercourse with any Teivali woman, even with his wife if he is married, on pain of becoming an ordinary person.

He may go to any Tarthar village, but to no Teivali village—i.e., if one of the Teivaliol, he is allowed to visit none of his own people.

When he goes to the dwelling-hut, care is taken to remove from the hut the objects shown in Fig. 11—viz., the murn or sieve, the wask or pounder, and the kip or broom. It seems [73]as if these three objects are removed because they are used by women. The emblems of womanhood are not allowed to contaminate the house while the wursol is present, although, at the same time, he is not restricted from intercourse with the women themselves. On the mornings after he has slept in the hut he bathes from head to foot before going to the dairy, and prostrates himself at the threshold before he enters.

If the cloak of the wursol requires cleaning or mending, it may only be taken to the hut for these purposes on the same days as those on which the wursol may sleep there—viz., Sunday or Wednesday.

The food of the wursol is prepared for him by the palikartmokh of the dairy in which he sleeps. The wursol never prepares food either for himself or others, except on the occasion of the festival called irpalvusthi (see Chap. VIII).

Most wursuli have only one room, the exception being the poh at Nòdrs, and the wursuli of Nasmiòdr and Òdr. It is noteworthy that these, however, are three of the most ancient and important dairies of the Todas. The reason why the other wursuli have one room is probably the fact that the wursol is not allowed to sleep in the dairy, and consequently there is no necessity for an outer room. When these dairies have been rebuilt, or new dairies have been made, the Todas have probably not thought it worth while to keep two rooms except at the especially important and sacred places. I was also told, however, that each of the three places which have two rooms had been at one time a ti dairy, and, as we shall see later, dairies of this, the highest, grade always have two rooms.

Another indication of the special sanctity of these three dairies is that at them, and also at the wursuli at Kozhtudi, the wursol must never turn his back on the contents of the dairy—i.e., he must do all his work and go in and out of the dairy facing the place where the mani is kept. The Todas call this proceeding in which the back is never turned on the contents of the dairy “kabkaditi.”

The vessels of the wursuli are divided, like those of the ordinary dairy, into those of the patatmar and those of the [74]ertatmar. The following sketch of the arrangement was made by Kòdrner, but I do not feel confident of its accuracy.

FIG. 22.

FIG. 22.

  • A. Patatmar.
  • B. Ertatmar.
  • C. The mani or bell.
  • D. The pelk or lamp.
  • E. Waskal or fireplace.
  • F. The door.

The lamp is of iron, bought in the bazaar: it is called tudrkpelk or tagarspelk, according as it is hung by a hook or on a chain. This distinction probably holds for other village dairies.


The Daily Life of the Wursol

The dairy work of the wursol is carried out on the same general lines as that of the palikartmokh, but the order and method of the various operations are more strictly regulated. Before the wursol goes into the dairy in the morning he washes his hands with water from the vessel called kepun,5 bows down at the threshold and enters the dairy; salutes the mani (kaimukhti), goes to the ertatmar and touches the majpariv; then to the patatmar and touches the patat. Then, after lighting the fire, he takes the mu off the patat, and, if the milk has coagulated, he begins to churn. After churning for a little while he puts some of the coagulated milk on the mani. After the churning is over, he milks, putting some of the first milk on the bell.



After the milking is finished, buttermilk is distributed to the women, and a mixture of milk and buttermilk is given to the men, who come to drink it standing outside the dairy. The wursol then drinks buttermilk and eats. When taking [75]buttermilk he pours it from the vessel called ertatpun into the leaf6 from which he drinks. When he goes to attend to the buffaloes, he leaves the tuni in the dairy and puts on his putkuli in a special way which is only adopted by the wursol and only by him when engaged in looking after the buffaloes. Placing one end of the cloak over the left shoulder, he brings the other end under the right arm, and, taking this end in his right hand, throws it round the back of his neck so that it rests on the left shoulder. The result of this adjustment is that the front part of his body is uncovered as shown in Fig. 23. I could not ascertain why the wursol should wear his cloak in this special way, nor why this method of wearing the garment should be peculiar to his office.7 [76]

In the afternoon the wursol again washes his hands, bows down to the threshold and enters the dairy, salutes the mani, touches the majpariv and patat as in the morning, and lights the fire. He then lights the lamp, and prays, using the prayer of the village. Then he churns and “feeds the bell,” but his procedure differs from that of the morning in that he distributes the buttermilk at this stage of the proceedings. When he milks he puts some of the first milk on the bell, and when he shuts up the buffaloes in their enclosure (tu) for the night, he recites the same prayer as when lighting the lamp. He then takes his food, eating it outside the dairy, puts his tuni on the patatmar, and goes to rest.

The procedure thus differs from that of the tarvali and kudrpali in that the dairy vessels are touched ceremonially at the beginning of both morning and evening operations. The wursuli resembles the other dairies, however, in that prayer is offered in the evening only. The differences are less pronounced in ritual than in the rules of conduct.


The Kugvali of Taradr

The people of Taradr have a special institution which is in many ways intermediate between the dairies of the village and the institution to be described in the next chapter—the ti.

The buffaloes connected with this institution are known as the kugvalir. They are said to belong to the whole of the Tartharol, but this only seems to mean that they are so important that every Toda looks up to them and feels that they are in some measure his. It does not mean that every Toda has a voice in their management or share in their produce.

The people of Taradr are divided into six families (pòlm), and each family has charge of the kugvalir in turn for periods of three years, the head of the family having the chief direction. At the present time they are in charge of Siriar (20), having only recently passed to his family.

The head of the family in charge appoints the dairyman, who is called kugvalikartmokh. This dairyman must be a [77]member of the Taradr clan, but need not necessarily be a member of the family in charge.



Each of the chief Taradr villages has a special dairy for the kugvalir. It is called the kugvali (kugpali) or chief dairy (kug = etud = chief), and it was said to be the chief of all the dairies. All these dairies have one room only, except that at Taradr itself, where there are two rooms. These dairies do not at present differ in form or general appearance from dairies of other kinds. The kugvali at Taradr is shown in Fig. 24, and it is the dairy on the right-hand side of Fig. 5.

The kugvalir have one feature peculiar to themselves. They are never recruited from any other herd. Even the buffaloes of the ti often have additions to their number, especially through the ceremony of irnörtiti (Chap. XIII), but in no circumstances are any additions from outside made to the kugvalir.

There is a legend that the original buffaloes of this herd [78]were sent from Amnòdr8 by the god Ön to the people of Taradr. A long time after they came to Taradr the herd was on the point of dying out, only one cow buffalo remaining, which was so old that it had lost its teeth. This sole survivor was pregnant, and when about to calve the delivery was much delayed, and it seemed that the buffalo would die before the calf was born. Only women were present and they cut open the belly of the buffalo and took out the calf, which was tended very carefully and lived, and the existing kugvalir are descended from this calf.

This story preserves a tradition of the practice of women attending to the buffaloes at the time of calving, which is said to have been at one time the regular practice.

The kugvalikartmokh sleeps in the kwotars or calf-house, except at Taradr, at which place he sleeps in the outer room of his dairy. He is allowed to sleep in the ordinary hut on certain nights in the week, and may only have intercourse with Tarthar women.

He wears the grey garment, or tuni, which he ties round his waist when churning and wears over his shoulders when milking.

The work of the dairy is carried out on the same general lines as that already described, but with certain distinguishing features.

All the work is done kabkaditi; the dairyman never turns his back to the contents of the dairy. In those villages in which he sleeps in the calf-house he goes naked (except for the kuvn) to the kugvali, washes his hands, prostrates himself at the threshold, enters, and puts on his tuni which is kept on the patatmar. He salutes the mani which he feeds with curd and milk as in other dairies. He also knocks on the patat three times, saying “” each time.

As in the other village dairies, he only prays and lights the lamp in the evening. When he gives out buttermilk, he must use the vessel called pòlmachok. He drinks buttermilk (peputi) in a distinctly more ceremonial manner than in the ordinary dairy, sitting on the seat (kwottün) outside the dairy, and pouring from the ertatpun into a leaf-cup made of two [79]leaves of the kind called kakuders. He drinks three times only, raising the leaves to his forehead and saying “” each time.

In this more definite ceremonial when drinking buttermilk, we have a transition to the ritual of the ti, and this resemblance to the procedure of the ti is still more marked in the following features. In addition to the kugvalir, the kugvalikartmokh has certain ordinary buffaloes, putiir, to provide milk for his personal use, and these buffaloes are milked in a special vessel called kuvun (kupun). This vessel is also used to transfer butter and buttermilk from the patatmar to the ertatmar, i.e., buttermilk is not poured directly from the patatpun into the majpariv, but poured from the former into the kuvun and from this into the majpariv, and similarly the butter is transferred from patatpun to penpariv by means of the same vessel.


The Dairy of Kanòdrs

Another dairy-temple which occupies an exceptional position is the poh at Kanòdrs. This is a dairy of the conical form, shown in Fig. 25, which differs from that of Nòdrs in being surrounded by two walls (katu), both of which are shown in the photograph.

According to one account the people of Kanòdrs borrowed martir from Kars to be milked at this dairy, but at the present time, when the dairy is occupied, the cattle milked are those called nashperthir.

The dairyman at this poh is called pohkartpol and must be a Kanòdrs man. During my visit, the dairy was not occupied and the office of pohkartpol was vacant. At the present time a dairyman is appointed about once a year and holds office for thirty or forty days only. So far as I could ascertain, the failure to occupy the dairy constantly is due to the very considerable hardships and restrictions which have to be endured by the holder of the office of dairyman, and the time is probably not far distant when this dairy, one of the most sacred among the Todas, will cease altogether to be used. [80]



When a pohkartpol is in office he is allowed to have one companion, who is a perol, or ordinary person, i.e., he undergoes no special ordination ceremony. With the exception of the two men, no one is allowed to go near the building for any purpose. When I visited the place, my guide stayed a considerable distance away from and out of sight of the dairy while I went with my interpreter to inspect the building and its surroundings. The pohkartpol and his companion sleep in the kwotars, or calf-house, in which there is a bed (tün) for each. This building has no door and is a very flimsy structure, so that sleeping in it can differ very little from sleeping in the open air. There is a fireplace between the two beds, but its warmth can hardly be sufficient for any degree of comfort. Further, the pohkartpol may only wear the tuni, a very scanty garment as compared with the putkuli. The pohkartpol must be celibate while in office, and his companion, [81]must also be celibate while at the dairy. The pohkartpol must take his food sitting on the outer wall which surrounds the dairy. He must not put his hand to his mouth, but must throw his food in; nor must he put the leaf used as a cup to his lips, but must pour into his mouth from above.

Several of these rules and restrictions are even more severe than those for the palol, to be considered in the next chapter. The reason given for the strictness of ritual is that the god Kwoto or Meilitars “had done so many wonderful things on that side” (see Chapter IX).

One feature peculiar to the Kanòdrs dairy is that milk receives the special name persin. This is the name of the churning-vessel of the ti, but is not used for milk in any other dairy. Otherwise the names used at Kanòdrs are the same as at other village dairies.


The Teivali Dairy

Among the Teivaliol, the various grades of dairy and dairymen so far considered have no existence. Many Teivali villages have two dairies, but each is served by a palikartmokh of the same rank.

The general procedure of the Teivali dairy does not appear to differ in any very marked respect from that of the Tarthar tarvali. The most marked difference which I could discover is in the clothing of the dairyman. When engaged in the dairy operations, the Teivali palikartmokh wears, at any rate in some cases, the tuni, or garment of dark grey cloth of the same kind as that worn by the wursol.

The sacred buffaloes of the Teivaliol are known as pasthir, and there are no differences corresponding to the different grades of the Tartharol. Similarly with one exception, the Teivali pasthir of each clan have no special names like the martir, nashperthir, &c., of the Tartharol. The exception is that the buffaloes of the Piedr clan are called kudeipir or kudipir, apparently the same name as that of the wursulir of Pan.

The village of Kiudr, belonging to the Kuudrol, possesses a dairy of special sanctity (see Fig. 31). It is served by a [82]palikartmokh, and it does not appear to have any special complexities of ritual except in connexion with certain bells which this dairy contains. There are six of these bells, two kept on the patatmar, called patatmani, and four kept on the ertatmar, called ertatmani. During the dairy ceremonial these bells are ‘fed’ by the palikartmokh, the patatmani receiving milk and the ertatmani buttermilk. I only became aware of the existence of these bells incidentally, and had not the opportunity of ascertaining their history or meaning. It is clear, however, that they differ from the mani of the Tartharol and from those of the Piedr clan among the Teivaliol in that they are never used at a funeral (see p. 352). [83]

1 This is literally ‘cooked milk.’ It probably receives this name because the coagulation is often hastened by heating. 

2 About four pints. 

3 I am not sure whether this restriction does not also apply to the tarvalikartmokh

5 Probably a corruption of kaipun, hand vessel. 

6 This is done by folding a leaf in such a way that it forms a cup. 

7 The method of wearing the cloak adopted by the wursol is not unlike that shown in a picture at the Guimet Museum in Paris, which represents a Brahman engaged in prayer. 

8 The world of the dead. 




The ti is the name of an institution which comprises a herd of buffaloes with a number of dairies and grazing districts tended by a dairyman-priest or priests called palol with an assistant called kaltmokh. Each dairy with its accompanying buildings and pasturage is called a ti mad, or ti village.

In most cases there are two kinds of buffaloes at each ti, and each kind should properly be tended by its own palol and kaltmokh. There is, however, only one ti which possesses two palol at the present time, and they share a kaltmokh between them, though a second is appointed on certain ceremonial occasions. In other cases one palol tends both kinds of buffalo, and in others, again, the dairies are unoccupied for the greater part of the year and the office of palol is only filled for certain limited periods.

Each ti is regarded as the property of a Tarthar clan, but the palol has to be taken from the Teivaliol, the choice being in some cases restricted to one or two Teivali clans; thus, the palol of the Nòdrs ti must belong either to Piedr or Kusharf. The palol is chosen by the Tarthar owners, but the latter do not seem to gain any material advantage from their possession. In fact, it involves them in some expense owing to the necessity of giving certain feasts, and this expense was put forward as one reason why a ti is often unoccupied. Nevertheless [84]the Tartharol are very proud of the fact that the institution of the ti belongs to their division, and whenever I asked a Tarthar man why he considered his people superior to the Teivaliol, the answer always ran that they had the ti and that the Teivaliol who tended the ti were their servants.

The buffaloes belonging to a ti are of two kinds, distinguished as persinir and punir. The former are the sacred buffaloes, and the elaborate ceremonial of the ti dairy is concerned with their milk. The punir correspond in some respects to the putiir of the ordinary village dairy, and their milk and its products are largely for the personal use and profit of the palol and are not treated with any special ceremony. The persinir are usually of various kinds, but the nature of their classification is different at each ti and its consideration may be postponed till later.

I obtained most of my information from people connected with the Nòdrs ti. During the whole of my visit the herds of this ti were at Mòdr, which is only about a mile from the Paikara bungalow. Owing to the restrictions on intercourse with so sacred a personage as a palol, it was not practicable to obtain all my information from those actually in office, and I found it best to work with men who had formerly held the post and had retired. I worked chiefly with Kaners (63), an old man who had been palol at the Nòdrs ti, and with Koboners (58), who had been at the Kars ti. For some time I worked with one or other of these two men every day, paying occasional visits to Mòdr to observe as much of the ceremonial as I was allowed to see. On these occasions I was also able to consult Karkievan, the chief palol, on points about which the ex-officials were doubtful.

Both Kaners and Koboners were trustworthy witnesses, but Kaners was old and had given up his office some time before, and in consequence often committed faults of omission. Koboners was an admirable informant, and the fulness of the account of the ti ceremonial is largely due to him. It must be remembered that I was only able to see for myself a few superficial features of the ceremonial, and that my account is based on the descriptions given by these and other men, but [85]nevertheless I have a considerable degree of confidence in its essential accuracy.

The dairy of a ti is always called poh, whatever its shape may be, and at those places where there is, or should be, more than one palol, each has his own dairy. In these cases the work of one dairy goes on quite independently of the other, each palol being only allowed to enter and work in his own building. In addition to the dairy, or dairies, there is at each ti mad a hut in which the palol and kaltmokh sleep and in which the latter takes his food. When there are two palol, both sleep in the same hut. There is a house for the calves called karenpoh, corresponding to the kwotars of the village dairy.

The milking-place of a ti mad is called pepkarmus instead of irkarmus, as at the ordinary dairy, and is usually enclosed so that the buffaloes are screened from the eyes of ordinary people.

There is always one buffalo-pen, or tu,1 for ordinary use, and at some places two others, called pon tu, or festival pens, used on the ceremonial occasions of migration from one place to another and of salt-giving.

The surroundings of the dairy are called pül, and there is a special part of the pül to which alone the ordinary Toda is allowed to go, and he may only go there by a special path. Each ti dairy which I visited was by the side of a wood and the place for ordinary Todas was in the wood.

At a little distance from the dairy there is the source from which the water for sacred purpose is drawn. This source is called kwoinir, and at Mòdr, where there was a kwoinir for each palol, it was a spring built in with stones, and not a stream as at most villages. In addition to the kwoinir there is also a stream from which water is taken by the kaltmokh, who is not allowed to go to the sacred spring.

There are various stones and other objects of ceremonial importance at most ti places, but the description of these may be given with that of the ceremonies in which they play a part. [86]

At Mòdr, the dairy place I know best, all the buildings and objects of the ti mad are shut off from the outer world either by walls or by the natural configuration of the ground or forest. Within this screen, partly natural and partly artificial, there is the large milking-ground which may be entered by the buffaloes from two directions, and on one side of this are the three pens, the two dairies, and other buildings.

The more important of the two dairies has situated close to it the sleeping-hut and two huts for the calves, and this small group of buildings, shown in Fig. 27, is surrounded by a wall like that round the ordinary village dairy, leaving little space between the wall and buildings. These buildings, being within the outer boundaries of the ti mad, are already well screened from the world, and in consequence the surrounding wall is low. The other dairy is situated on the boundary, so that it can be seen by anyone outside the ti mad, and the wall around it is therefore high, so that a person standing outside can see nothing of the proceedings of the dairyman. At Mòdr the water springs are at some distance from the dairies and there is a special path by which the palol goes from the dairy to fetch water.

At another dairy, that of Anto, there is one path by which the palol goes to fetch water and another by which he returns, but I do not know if this is so at all dairies.

Although I visited Mòdr on many occasions, I never had an opportunity to investigate the buildings closely. I was never allowed to go within the walls enclosing the dairies, much less to go inside these buildings. If the annual programme of the ti had been carried out, the buffaloes would have left this place before the end of my visit, and I intended to make a thorough inspection after they had gone; but owing to various causes I mention elsewhere (see Chap. VI) the herds stayed at Mòdr till after my departure, and I had no opportunity of ascertaining the exact plan of the dairies and their surroundings.

The dairy of a ti always has two rooms, an inner room, the ulkkursh, and an outer room, the pòrmunkursh. These are divided from one another by a screen, or patun, which stretches [87]about two-thirds of the way across the breadth of the building and is about three feet high. The palol stands in the outer room and performs the dairy operations proper to the inner room leaning over the top of the screen. The object of the screen is to keep the sacred objects of the dairy from the gaze of anyone who may look in, and especially from that of the kaltmokh; but in the only dairy of the kind into which I had the chance of looking, the screen was made of vertical sticks with wide intervals between them, so that I could easily see through. This dairy was, however, unoccupied, and if dairy vessels had been there, it is possible that they would have been screened from view in some way. In this dairy the screen extended from the right-hand wall as one looked in, but at Mòdr I was told that the screen was attached to the left-hand wall, and there were certain facts which make it almost certain that this statement is correct, though I had not the opportunity of confirming it by actual observation.



  • A. Mani.
  • B, C, D. The three persin.
  • E. The idrkwoi.
  • F. The lamp.
  • G. The pelkkatitthwaskal.
  • H. The tòralthwaskal.
  • I. The patun.
  • J, K. The pohvelkars.
  • L. The screen in front of the dairy.

I did not discover whether there were any differences between the internal arrangements of the conical dairies and those of the dairies of the ordinary form. Breeks has given a description of the conical dairy at Anto, and from this it would seem that the dairy is divided into two rooms by a [88]partition extending to the roof, the two rooms communicating by a door. There are two possibilities as to procedure. It is possible that only one room of this dairy is used for the ceremonial and that it is again divided by an incomplete screen into inner and outer rooms, or it may be that the dairyman churns in the inner room. I have no information on this point, but the general nature of the churning procedure at the ti dairy makes it highly probable that the former supposition is correct and that the inner room is divided into two parts.

In the plan on p. 87, I have adopted the arrangement in which the patun, or screen, is attached to the left-hand side of the building, but this is certainly not the case in all dairies. In some dairies also the fireplaces are on the other side.

The Contents of the poh

(a) In the inner room. One mani.
Three persin.
Two tòrzum.
Two kòghlag.
One persinkudriki.
One pohvet or pohpet.
One kwoi.
One kwoinörtpet.
Several tedshk.
(b) Between inner and outer rooms. Pelk, or lamp.
(c) In the outer room. Two fireplaces Pelkkatitthwaskal.
Several alug.
Unused kòghlag.

Another vessel, the mòrpun, is kept in the sleeping-hut, where two or more horns are also kept which are blown by the kaltmokh every night before going to rest.

The things of the inner room correspond in general to those of the patatmar in the ordinary dairy, and the things of the outer room correspond to those of the ertatmar. The [89]things of the outer room are sometimes called the alugpur, just as those in the village dairy are called ertatpur, but I did not hear of any corresponding term for the things of the inner room. I have no record of the place where the fire-sticks (nirsi) are kept, but they will almost certainly belong to the outer room, since, in the village, they belong to the ertatmar.

The nature of each of the vessels and other objects of the dairy is as follows:

Persin. This is an earthenware vessel containing about five kudi, i.e., 2½ gallons. The freshly churned milk is poured into and churned in three of these vessels. The persin corresponds to the patat of the village dairy.

Tòrzum. This is an earthenware vessel containing two or three kudi. Two of these vessels are kept in the inner room, one, called the karitòrzum, to hold water, and the other to hold the butter added while churning. The latter is called the peptòrzum because it is also used to give buttermilk to the buffaloes on certain occasions. When not in use the two tòrzum are placed on and act as covers for two of the persin. The tòrzum corresponds to the mu of the ordinary dairy.

Kòghlag. This is the churning-stick which corresponds to the madth. Both kòghlag and madth are alike in having the peculiar shape shown in Fig. 18 (see also p. 111). The thong by means of which the stick is turned, ordinarily called palv, is here called poinurs, and consists of a strip of the skin of a male calf. The kòghlag is made by the palol from bamboo growing on the Nilgiris. In addition to two used and kept in the inner room, five or six new churning-sticks are kept in the outer room.

Persinkudriki. This is a small piece of bamboo with a handle called tutth, used to knock against the persin when praying.

Pohvet (pohpet). A wand used when praying.

Kwoi. A bamboo vessel containing about three kudi. It is the vessel taken out by the palol to milk the buffaloes. It corresponds to the irkartpun of the village dairy and is made by the palol from bamboo obtained by the kaltmokh. [90]

Kwoinörtpet. A wand carried by the palol with the kwoi and used to keep away the calves when milking.

Tedshk. Rattan rings used when carrying the dairy vessels.

Idrkwoi. A bamboo vessel containing about one kudi. It is used to transfer butter and buttermilk from the vessels of the inner room to the vessels of the outer room, and is kept midway between the two rooms. There is nothing corresponding to it in the village dairy, except at the kugvali, where the kuvun is used in the same way.

Alug. Earthenware vessels used as receptacles for buttermilk and butter in the outer room. There are at least two of these vessels, usually more. This vessel corresponds to the pariv of the village dairy.

Uppun. A bamboo vessel which is used to hold the buttermilk which the palol drinks.

Mòrkudriki. A vessel used like a ladle to transfer buttermilk from the alug to the uppun or the mòrpun. It corresponds to the majertkudriki or ashkiok of the ordinary dairy.

Karpun. A bamboo vessel used to milk the punir, or ordinary buffaloes of the ti herds.

Turavali. The cooking-pot of which the ordinary name is tòratthadi.

Guduboi. An earthenware pot to hold nei or ghi. Its ordinary name is pathrs.

The mòrpun, kept in the sleeping-hut, is a bamboo vessel used by the kaltmokh to hold buttermilk both for himself and for certain privileged visitors called mòrol.

The earthenware vessels of the inner room are not obtained from the Kotas, like the ordinary vessels, but are made by Hindus, and are procured through the Badagas.

The palol has two garments, one of which, the kubuntuni, he wears when not engaged in dairy-work, while the other, the pòdrshtuni, is worn during the dairy-work or other ceremonial. The latter is kept in the outer room when not in use.

There are usually two kinds of bell at the ti, one kind connected with the more sacred buffaloes and another belonging to the punir. The bells of the first kind, called mani, are [91]kept in the inner room, and are tied on the necks of certain buffaloes for a short time on special occasions. The other bells, called kudrs mani, are kept outside the door of the dairy and are put on the necks of the punir on the same occasions.

There were several points of interest about the lamps used to light the dairies. At one time it seems that every palol was provided with an iron lamp with a number of cavities, each cavity being fitted with a wick. These lamps are reputed to have been as old as the foundation of the ti dairies. One of the lamps which is still in existence at the Nòdrs ti (that of the warspoh) is said to have been brought from Amnòdr. There is some doubt about the exact number of cavities and wicks in these lamps, but in the existing lamp of the Nòdrs ti there seems to be little doubt that there are seven cavities and wicks, and the lamp is called önavpelk, “the lamp of the seven holes.” All the seven wicks are only lighted on special occasions (ponnol), and on most days only one is used. At some dairies these iron lamps have been long lost, and in these cases the palol used to make lamps of the bark of the tudr tree. According to Marshall (p. 141), these lamps have five wicks, and this appears to be still the case at the Kars ti, where there were formerly two iron lamps, one with five cavities and one with four, and in the lamp now used at this ti they still keep up the use of five wicks on special occasions, using only two on ordinary days. It is possible that Marshall derived his information from a man who had been palol at this ti. At one of the dairies of the Pan ti there is an old iron lamp with seven cavities, and at the other, where a bark lamp is used, it has three wicks. At the present time the dairymen rarely trouble to make bark lamps, but are content with earthenware lamps procured from the bazaar. If these are broken and cannot be replaced at once, bark lamps are used during the interval. The wicks of the lamps, for whichever lamp they may be used, are always made of tuni taken from the garments worn by the palol, and the substance used in the lamps is butter.

Of the two fireplaces in the outer room, the tòratthwaskal is used for ordinary purposes, for cooking food, &c. The [92]other, called pelkkatitthwaskal, or sometimes persinkaftthwaskal, is used for lighting the lamp or for any other purpose directly connected with the vessels of the inner room.


The Daily Life at the Ti

The inhabitants of the ti rise before it is light, probably about five a.m., and on getting up from the bed some say “ekirzam meidjam.”2 The kaltmokh goes at once to open the tu in which the buffaloes have been penned for the night. The palol salutes with hand to forehead when he leaves the sleeping-hut and goes to the front of the dairy, where there is water standing in a bamboo vessel called papun, corresponding to the kepun of the village dairy. He washes his hands and face, and then washes out his mouth by taking up water with his right hand, pouring into his left, and taking the water into his mouth from the latter. It is noticeable that the palol uses his left hand for this purpose of personal cleanliness, and not the right hand, which is chiefly used in his sacred work. He then ties up his straggling hair at the back of his head, bows down at the threshold of his dairy and enters, in some cases saying “ekirzam meidjam” as he does so.

When the palol enters the outer room of the dairy, he transfers fire from the tòratthwaskal, where it has been burning all night, to the other fireplace, the pelkkatitthwaskal, and then takes off the kubuntuni, which has been his covering during the night and puts the pòdrshtuni round his loins. He lights the lamp by means of three pieces of wood of the kind called kid, taken from the pelkkatitthwaskal, and while so doing begins to pray, using the prayer of the ti. After lighting the lamp, and while still continuing to pray, he takes up the persinkudriki and knocks with it on the middle of the three vessels called persin, going from one persin to another, when he pauses to take breath. I had the greatest difficulty in finding out exactly what happened in connexion with this [93]prayer, but after I had settled on the foregoing description as correct I was allowed one day by the kaltmokh to go near the dairy while the palol was praying, and was able to hear the beating on the earthenware vessel with each word of the prayer.

The next step is to take up the pohvet and place it against the wall, and then the palol begins to churn the coagulated milk in the middle persin, milk in this state being here called kudabpol instead of adrpars, as in the ordinary dairy.

In those cases in which the mani is ‘fed,’ the palol puts kudabpol on the bell shortly after beginning to churn. This is done three times, the syllable being uttered each time. When the palol does anything three times in this way, he says that he does it mushtiu. This expression for ‘thrice’ is not used in the ordinary dairy.

The next steps are to pour into the kwoi and karitòrzum most of the coagulated milk which has been broken up by the churning, to add to the milk remaining in the persin some persinpen, or butter especially kept for the purpose in the peptòrzum, to add water, and to churn the mixture of coagulated milk, water, and butter in the middle persin. When the new butter is formed, the palol pours out the buttermilk into the vessel called idrkwoi, keeping back the butter with his hand. The buttermilk is transferred from the idrkwoi to one of the alug in the outer room. Some of the milk which had been put into the kwoi or karitòrzum is then poured back into the middle persin, more water is added, and the mixture is churned, after which the buttermilk is again transferred by means of the idrkwoi to the alug, while the butter is kept in the persin. This procedure is repeated till all the milk of the middle persin has been churned.

The persin on the right-hand side of the palol is then taken, and its position exchanged with that of the vessel hitherto used, and the churning is continued in exactly the same manner. The buttermilk is transferred to the alug, but the butter when formed is transferred to the persin, which had been originally in the middle. When the contents of the second persin have been churned, the third persin is placed in the middle and the same procedure is followed, so that when [94]the churning is over all the butter which has been formed will be in the persin which was originally in the middle. Some of this butter is put into the peptòrzum to act as persinpen on another occasion, and the remainder is transferred to the butter alug by means of the idrkwoi. The two tòrzum are then put on the tops of two of the persin as covers, the peptòrzum being placed on the middle persin and the palol takes the milking-vessel (kwoi) and wand (kwoinörtpet) in his right hand and goes out to milk, having first put some buttermilk, called pep, into the kwoi.

When the palol leaves the dairy, he raises the milking-vessel and wand to his forehead and salutes in the way shown in Fig. 27. The Todas say that he is saluting the sun and the buffaloes. It is probable that, in general, the palol faces approximately east as he salutes, but there is no doubt that, at the present time, his salutation is chiefly to the buffaloes. He salutes in the same direction both morning and evening, and certainly pays no attention to the direction in which the sun lies.

This salutation is now often done in a very perfunctory manner. The vessel and wand may be raised hastily to the forehead for a few seconds only as the palol goes towards his buffaloes, and I am doubtful whether the salutation is ever performed exactly as shown in the figure, for the vessel contains some of the buttermilk called pep, which might be spilt if the vessel were held quite horizontally.

When the palol salutes, he says “” three times, and repeats two or three clauses of the dairy prayer, usually the kwarzam of the more important gods of the dairy.

When going to milk and when going from one buffalo to another, the kwoi and kwoinörtpet are always held together in the right hand. When the kwoi is filled, it is taken into the dairy. If it is the custom of the dairy to put milk on the mani, this is now done three times, saying “” each time, and then the milk is poured into the middle persin, the kwoi being held in the left hand, and the palol goes out again to refill the kwoi. When all the persinir have been milked, the milk of the three persin is mixed together by pouring from one to the other. The reason for this is that the buttermilk, called pep, [95]is only taken out in the kwoi on first going to milk, and in consequence the pep would affect the milk of the middle persin only if its contents were not mixed with those of the vessels filled later.



The palol next goes out to milk the punir, taking for this purpose the vessel called karpun and an ordinary wand, the kwoi and kwoinörtpet being only used for the more sacred buffaloes. There was some difference of opinion as to what should be done with the milk of the punir. According to [96]some it may be used to fill the persin if these are not filled by the milk of the persinir; according to others it is wrong to do this, and the milk of punir should on no account be put in the more sacred vessels of the inner room. I think there is no doubt that at the Nòdrs ti at any rate the first procedure is followed. At this ti the punir outnumber the persinir by far, and it is probable that the milk of the former is used to supplement that of the more sacred buffaloes, although it is contrary to tradition that this should be done.

The three persin being filled, the tòrzum are again put on as covers, and the palol takes up the wand called pohvet, and prays, standing in front of the screen (patun) with his hands lying over one another cross-wise on the top of the stick as shown in Fig. 28. He recites the full prayer of the ti, then replaces the pohvet between the persinand the patun and this act of replacing the wand marks the end of the more sacred part of the dairy operations. If a Toda wishes to ascertain if the work of the dairy is over, he asks, “Has he taken the pohvet?”



The palol now unties his hair, sees to anything necessary in connexion with his food, fills the uppun with buttermilk, and then leaves his dairy and goes to sit on the seat called pohvelkars on one side of the door of the dairy, viz., on the opposite side to that on which the mani is placed. At Mòdr he sits on the stone on the right side of the door when going [97]in (K in Fig. 26), and the fact that he does so is one of the reasons which make it probable that the arrangement of the poh of that place is as I have given it in the plan.

When the palol has seated himself on the pohvelkars, he calls out to the kaltmokhKaizhvatitva,” “Come here and pour buttermilk!” When the kaltmokh comes, the palol gives the uppun to the boy, who says three times “Kaizhvatkina”, “Shall I pour buttermilk?” and the palol replies each time, “Vat!” The kaltmokh pours from the uppun into a cup made of the leaf called kakuders held by the palol, who drinks after raising to his forehead. This is repeated till the palol is satisfied, when the leaf-cup from which he has been drinking is thrown away,3 and he goes again into the outer room to get food. He gives food to the kaltmokh, who eats it in the sleeping-hut, while the palol himself eats sitting on the pohvelkars. If any mòrol (see p. 107) are present, they are fed at this stage with buttermilk and food by the kaltmokh, who gives them the buttermilk out of the mòrpun, pouring it into leaf-cups as when giving to the palol.

The rest of the morning is passed in looking after the buffaloes, cutting firewood, plucking leaves used as cups and plates, or doing any other work connected with the ti.

In the afternoon the palol returns to his dairy and goes through the same operations as in the morning, except that he fetches water from the kwoinir early in the proceedings, usually bringing enough for the work of that afternoon and of the next morning. He churns the milk drawn in the morning, and when the time for milking has arrived, the buffaloes will have returned to the milking-place, and as soon as they arrive their calves are let out from the house (karenpoh) in which they have been kept.

When the churning and milking are over, the buffaloes are shut up in the tu for the night. The palol then takes buttermilk as in the morning, and both he and the kaltmokh take their food. The latter eats his food in the sleeping-hut as in [98]the morning, and the palol does not enter till the boy has finished. As the palol enters, the kaltmokh says “” thrice, takes the horn or horns, and standing at the door blows three times (if there are two horns, three times on each horn), and then re-enters the hut and all go to rest.

In the afternoon the palol prays three times; when lighting the lamp, and after milking and filling the three persin as in the morning, and again after shutting up the buffaloes in the tu for the night, when he stands in front of the entrance to the pen. In each case he uses the whole of the ordinary prayer of the dairy. He also utters a few clauses of the prayer when going out to milk. These prayers will be given in Chap. X.


The Palol

The palol, who must belong to the Teivaliol, is chosen by the members of the Tarthar clan to which the ti belongs. He may hold office for as long as he pleases up to eighteen years, and, according to some accounts, he might continue in office even after this period, though there is no case known in which this has happened.

The usual duration of office seems now to be only two or three years, though a man may often be reappointed either to the same or another ti. At the time of my visit, one palol had been continuously in office for sixteen years, another for six years, and the rest for shorter periods. At the present time the office of palol is vacant at several dairies owing to the difficulty of obtaining qualified occupants.

During the whole time he holds office, the palol may not visit his home or any other ordinary village, though he may visit another ti village. Any business with the outside world is done either through the kaltmokh or with people who come to visit him at the ti. All business with the Badagas is transacted through a special man of this caste called the tikelfmav. If the palol has to cross a river, he may not pass by a bridge, but must use a ford; and it appears that he may only use certain fords; thus it is easy to cross the Paikara river just above the bridge, but the palol of the Nòdrs [99]ti was not allowed to do so and had to use a ford nearer to the dairy at Mòdr.

The palol must be celibate, and if married, he must leave his wife, who is in most cases also the wife of his brother or brothers. According to the account given by Finicio in 1603, the palol could send for his wife and meet her in a wood every week or so and might also send for the wives of any other Todas. It is possible that this may still happen, but I failed to obtain an account of it and understood that the palol was really celibate. According to Finicio the restriction to which the palol is subject is that he may not touch a woman in the house. We have seen that in the lowest rank of the dairyman-priesthood intercourse with women in the house is allowed at any time and in the higher ranks only on certain days of the week. It is quite consistent with this that in the highest rank intercourse in the house should be altogether forbidden, but might still be allowed in the forest, and it is quite possible that Finicio is correct. I was unacquainted with his account at the time of my visit, and all other writers had been so unanimous as to the complete celibacy of the palol that I did not press my inquiries on this point very closely.

If a death occurs in the clan of a palol, he cannot attend any of the funeral ceremonies unless he gives up his office. If he resigns he is not again eligible for the office till the second funeral ceremonies have been completed. When a man of one clan gives up his office in this way, his place must be taken by a man of some other clan. Karkievan of Piedr was palol of the Nòdrs ti eighteen years ago and resigned when his wife died, his place being taken by Tulchievan of Kusharf. Two years later Karkievan resumed office and has been palol continuously since that time. Though there have been many deaths among the Piedrol, he has not attended a funeral, and has not, therefore, had to resign his post again.

In old times, it seems probable that it was usual to give up the office of palol when there was a death in the clan. According to tradition, the division of the Keadrol into the Keadrol and Kwaradrol by Kwoten (see Chap. IX) was ordained in order that there might still be men to undertake the office of palol when there was a death in the clan, the men of the [100]Keadrol taking office when there was a death among the Kwaradrol and vice versa.

It has been stated by several writers on the Todas that the palol does not profit in any way by his sacred office. I made most careful inquiries on this point, and there seemed to be no doubt that the palol may often make a considerable income from the sale of the ghi made from the milk of the herd under his charge; one palol was stated to make six rupees a week in this way, and while he has been in office is said to have increased his own herd (i.e., that of his own family) by no less than twenty-five buffaloes. In one recent case, a man has resigned the post of palol to the Pan ti because he found the income was too small.

According to my informant, Kaners, a man used always to accept the office of palol unwillingly. When the offer came to him, he would say, “I cannot leave my buffaloes; I cannot leave my wife and my children.” Then the people would say, “You are born for the ti; it is your birthright; you must not refuse”; and the man would reluctantly consent. Now the Todas are in more need of money than they used to be, and there is no difficulty in obtaining candidates for those dairies at which the pecuniary advantages are sufficiently great, so that people will now beg to be appointed as palol to certain dairies, and it is even whispered that bribes have been offered in order to obtain office. There is no doubt whatever that the pecuniary reward is the chief inducement to people to undertake the charge.

The Nòdrs ti has the largest herd of buffaloes, and I was told that this ti is very much coveted, while others which have few buffaloes are unable to obtain a palol at all. My Teivali friends invariably talked about the ti in exactly the same kind of way that an Englishman talks about a benefice.

At the present time there are several instances in which the office of palol is vacant, and there seems to be a growing difficulty in filling many of these places. There is little doubt that the chief reason for this is that the herds have become very small, so that the resulting profit does not offer sufficient inducement; but there is also no doubt that the exclusion from the home and the limitation of intercourse [101]with the world in general act as deterrents to those who are thinking of becoming candidates for the vacant places.

Another point about which several writers have erred is in supposing that the palol is important in the general government of the Todas and in stating that the Todas go to him for counsel and advice. I inquired into this very carefully, and there seemed to be no doubt whatever that the palol has absolutely no functions outside the management of his dairy and of ceremonies connected with it. He has no place on the naim, or council, and only appears before it as defendant or witness in matters connected with the ti. I could not ascertain that any one ever consults the palol on any business except that of the ti, and outside his office he has nothing whatever to do, and is little thought of by the Todas. The sanctity attaching to the palol and the reverence paid to him are attached and paid wholly to the holder of the office and not at all to the man.

The ordinary Toda may only approach the palol on two days of the week, Monday and Thursday. On other days, if he wishes to communicate, he must stand a considerable distance from the ti—it was said as much as a quarter of a mile—and carry on his conversation from this distance. I had, however, the opportunity of observing that the distance was diminished on some occasions.

On no account may a palol ever be touched by an ordinary person. A palol becomes himself an ordinary person, or perol, if either he or his dairy should be touched by any unconsecrated person. Recently Nòdrners (67) lost the office of palol to the warsir at the Nòdrs ti, because a Tamil man went to his dairy while he was out looking after his buffaloes; he was soon reappointed, but to another ti.

The Toda who approaches the palol must go kevenarut, i.e., with his right arm out of the cloak, and there is a definite form of salutation which is different for Tartharol and Teivaliol. When one of the former approaches, the palol says “Bañ,” and the Tarthar man replies “Ir kaûdâ,” literally “Buffalo, calf, have you?” To one of the Kuudrol, the chief Teivali clan, the palol says the kwarzam, or sacred name of Kuudr, followed by the word idith, i.e., he utters the words Ivikanmokh [102]kûtmeil teu idith. When any other Teivali man approaches, the palol says “Pekein,” but all the Teivaliol reply with the same formula as the Tartharol. If a Tarthar man and a Teivali man approach the palol together, the former will be greeted first. The palol greets the man to whose division the buffaloes belong before the man of his own clan or division.

If a Toda is in the condition called ichchil, i.e., has been defiled in connexion with funeral or other ceremonies, it was said that he might not approach the palol. I had an interesting example, however, of the way in which a regulation of this kind is observed. While Teitnir(52) had ichchil, owing to the fact that the funeral ceremonies of a relative had not been completed, he went with me to the Mòdr ti one day and approached within a few yards of the palol. He had taken off the semi-European clothing he often wore, and had his right arm bare, but no greeting of any kind took place between him and the palol; the latter did not recognise his presence in any way and behaved as if Teitnir were not there. On this occasion Teitnir was ichchil on account of the death of a more or less distant relative. Later his wife died, and then there seemed to be no doubt that he would not under any circumstances have approached the ti or the palol.

There are several regulations concerning the food of the palol. Any grain he eats must be that provided by the Badagas. At the present time more rice is eaten than was formerly the case. This is not grown by the Badagas, but nevertheless the rice for the palol must be obtained through them. The palol may drink milk, but only that from the buffaloes called punir. He must take his food sitting on the seat, or pohvelkars, outside the dairy, and, as we have seen, he uses for this purpose the seat which is not on the same side as the mani. He usually prepares the food himself and cooks it on the fireplace called tòratthwaskal in the outer room of dairy; but there is also a fireplace outside the dairy which is used sometimes, especially when food has to be prepared for many people, and then the palol may be assisted by the kaltmokh. If food is prepared by the kaltmokh, the fireplace outside the dairy must be used. [103]

The only food which the palol is altogether forbidden is chillies.

The palol wears garments of the kind called tuni, of a dark grey material made at Nulturs in the Coimbatore district. They are brought to the palol by the Badaga called tikelfmav.4 Each palol has two of these garments. One is worn as a loincloth and is called pòdrshtuni. It is only worn when definitely engaged in dairy-work and on certain ceremonial occasions, and at other times is kept in the outer room of the dairy. The other garment is called kubuntuni, and is worn like the ordinary cloak, but always with the right arm out (kevenarut). It is worn when not engaged on sacred business, and on a few occasions is worn together with the pòdrshtuni. The small perineal cloth ordinarily called kuvn is made of the same material as the tuni and is called kagurs at the ti, while the string which passes round the waist and holds the kagurs in place is called kwainur or kwoinur.

I was told that the palol should never cut his hair or his nails while he is in office.

If a palol has held office for eighteen years without a break, he performs a special ceremony. The essential feature of this ceremony is that the palol has intercourse in the day-time with a girl or young woman who must belong to the Tartharol. The woman is chosen by the palol and the matter is arranged by the clan to which the ti belongs. On the appointed day the woman is brought to a village near the dairy at which the palol is living; if he is at Mòdr, for instance, the woman will come to the adjacent village of Perththo. She must bathe carefully and be adorned with all possible ornaments and fine clothing. After the work of the morning is over, the palol gives rice and milk to the kaltmokh and tells him to have food ready for him when he returns at night. He then goes covered with his kubuntuni to a wood near the village, where the woman will be awaiting him. Later the woman returns to the village and the palol remains in the [104]wood completely naked till sunset, when he dresses and returns to the neighbourhood of his dairy, but remains in an adjoining wood till midnight. He then bathes in a stream and going to the dairy calls “Kaltmokhia!” twice. The kaltmokh comes out of the sleeping hut and brings a stone resembling the pohvelkars, on which the palol sits, and the kaltmokh pours buttermilk (kaizhvatiti) for the palol according to the customary ritual. Then the kaltmokh brings the papun, and the palol washes his hands and goes to rest. There was some difference of opinion among the Todas as to whether the palol would continue to hold office after this ceremony. He undoubtedly returns to his work, but it seemed probable that he would retire after a short time and his place be taken by another. In this ceremony the celibate priest after eighteen years of office has intercourse with a woman belonging to the division not his own. This takes place in the day-time, the palol thus committing an act which is ordinarily regarded by the Todas as immoral.5

The last occasion on which this ceremony was performed was when it was done by Kodrizbon, who lived before the time of the grandfather of Kaners, who is himself an old man. Karkievan has now been palol of the Nòdrs ti for sixteen years, and there was already at the time of my visit much talk among the Todas about the ceremony which he might be expected to perform two years later.

A man who has given up the office of palol is known as patol. It was quite clear that, on resigning office, he entirely lost his sanctity, and it did not seem that he derived any great social importance from having held the sacred office. I could find no instance of a man who had been palol having any special influence or power either in his clan or among the Todas generally. Only in one way are the patol important, and that is as repositories of the knowledge of the dairy ritual, and any man about to enter on the office of palol will learn the details of the ritual from those who have held office before him.

I could learn of one privilege only pertaining to a patol. [105]He is allowed to go to the ti mad on the day called upkarvnol, after the ponup ceremony (see Chap. VIII), and on that occasion he receives food from the palol.


The Kaltmokh

The kaltmokh is usually a boy, but he may occasionally continue to hold office till he is about twenty years of age. He must belong either to the Teivaliol or to the Melgarsol. He is a general assistant to the palol, and has also certain definitely assigned duties, such as giving buttermilk to the palol and blowing the horns at night. He also takes part in several important ceremonies.

When away from the dairy and its immediate surroundings he wears an ordinary cloak, but always with his right arm outside. When engaged in his work at the dairy or in the pül of the ti, he must be naked except for the kuvn. When he has been away from the ti he may not return by the path used by the palol, but must use a special path, carrying the cloak folded and hung over his shoulder. At the Mòdr dairy, however, I noticed that the kaltmokh sometimes kept his cloak in a tree just outside the ti mad, and then went in and out by the same path as the palol.

The kaltmokh sleeps in the same hut as the palol, from whom he receives his food. When there are two palol and only one kaltmokh, the two dairymen divide the duty of feeding the boy between them.

The kaltmokh never goes into the dairy, but he may put his hand into the outer room to take out those vessels which he is allowed to touch. He may never touch the vessels of the inner room.

There are two grades in the office of kaltmokh, a lower called perkursol and a higher called tunitusthkaltmokh or full kaltmokh. The latter wears a piece of tuni called petuni on the left side of the string (kerk) supporting the perineal cloth.

The perkursol is allowed to go to certain places and do certain things which are not allowed to the full kaltmokh. Whenever it is necessary that the kaltmokh should do any of [106]the forbidden things, or even if he is likely to be in such a position that he may have to do these things, he becomes perkursol. This he does by throwing off the petuni and dipping one leg either into the pool of water called tarupunkudi (see p. 177) or into the dairy stream (pali nipa) of an ordinary dairy (if he dipped his leg into the ars nipa, or part of a stream used for ordinary household purposes, he would at once lose his office entirely and become an ordinary person). As soon as he has dipped his foot, he becomes perkursol and may do the following things summed up in the general expression tarskwarârkûdthodi. He may pass a village where there is a woman in the seclusion-hut (puzhars), or where the relics of the dead are being kept between the two funeral ceremonies; he may go to a place where the people have been in communication with a village in which either of these conditions exist; he may pass a river by a bridge, and he may go to the wursuli of a Tarthar village. If the full kaltmokh does any of these things, even unwittingly, he would at once become an ordinary person (perol). The kaltmokh degrades himself to the rank of perkursol even when there is merely the danger that he may infringe any of the restrictions; thus, one day when there was a woman at Karia who was in seclusion after childbirth, the kaltmokh at Mòdr, Katsog (55), was going to the hut of the forest guard near Paikara. He would not have to pass Karia, but there was a chance that the forest guard might have been in communication with the people of Karia, and therefore Katsog became perkursol. A perkursol is regarded as of the same rank as a wursol, and the people spoke of perkursol as a ti word for wursoli.e., a wursol at the ti was called perkursol, just as a madth (churn) at the ti was called kòghlag. In order to regain his rank as full kaltmokh, the perkursol has to perform the same ceremony as that which takes place at the end of the ordination to this office (see Chap. VII).

While the kaltmokh is degraded to the rank of perkursol he may not touch any dairy vessels; he may not pour buttermilk for the palol, nor may he blow the horns—i.e., he may do none of the more important and sacred duties of his office. [107]


The Mòrol

I have said that no ordinary Toda is allowed to approach the palol except certain days, and then may only go to a certain place in the surroundings of the ti. There is, however, one very remarkable exception to this rule, the members of certain clans having the privilege of going to the ti at any time and taking buttermilk (mòr). Owing to the latter privilege they are always known as mòrol.

The most important mòrol are the members of the Melgars clan, and at the Nòdrs ti they are the only people possessing these peculiar rights. A Melgars man may go to the ti on every day of the week, when he enters the small enclosure in which the dairy is situated, going, however, by a special opening at the back so that he does not actually pass the dairy and sits down in front of or may enter the sleeping hut. He is given buttermilk by the kaltmokh after it has been given to the palol, and he also receives food. At the Nòdrs ti the two palol divide the responsibility of providing food between them; if four mòrol come, each palol gives food for two men.

The rights of the Melgarsol appear to be exercised very constantly. I rarely visited the Mòdr ti without finding several mòrol present, and so far as I could observe they made the most of their privileges and enjoyed themselves well. It was very remarkable to see several Todas making themselves quite at home at the ti, while other Todas were standing outside wholly prohibited from entering into the life of the place. On one occasion when I visited Mòdr, the brother of one palol was standing without at the appointed spot waiting till the business of the morning was over, while several mòrol were within enjoying their privileges to the full.

The Melgarsol have certain other rights and duties in connexion with the ti, and especially on the occasion of the procession which takes place when the buffaloes migrate from one place to another (see Chap. VI), after which ceremony the mòrol sleep at the ti mad. At some dairies members of other clans may act as mòrol, but in no case do they occupy quite so privileged a position as the people of Melgars. Thus, at [108]the Kars and the Pan ti the people of Kars are mòrol, but they may only visit the ti and take buttermilk and are not allowed to sleep there, nor have they any of the special ceremonial duties of the Melgarsol.

When the dairy of a ti mad needs to be repaired or rebuilt, this is done by Melgars men, who must previously undergo an ordination ceremony of the same character as that for the office of wursol, and the men rank as wursol while engaged in the work. The hut of the ti mad is also repaired or rebuilt by the Melgarsol, but in this case the work is done without any special ceremony. In either case the Melgars men are not allowed to leave the ti mad, and they sleep in the living hut while the work is being done.

Another duty of the Melgarsol is to assist in carrying the corpse of palol who has died in office.

On the occasion of the teutütusthchi ceremony in 1902, when the palol and kaltmokh left the dairy at Mòdr for several hours, I found a Melgars man in the neighbourhood of the dairy, and it seemed to me that he was watching the dairy while the regular guardians were away. I was told however, that this was not one of the recognised duties of a mòrol, and I suspected that he was stationed at Mòdr at the time of my visit, because it was feared that I might take advantage of the absence of the palol to make a closer inspection of the dairy than was allowed.


New Dairy Vessels

The earthenware vessels of the inner room (persin and tòrzum) are procured from Hindus through the Badagas. They were formerly obtained from a place called Kulpet (Kundapeta), near Nanjankudi in Mysore, and I was told that the Todas used to go down to fetch them.

The earthenware vessels of the outer room (alug) are obtained from the Kotas like those of the ordinary dairy. The churn or kòghlag is made by the Todas themselves from the slender bamboo growing on the hills.

The material out of which the bamboo vessels (kwoi, idrkwoi, karpun, uppun) are made, is procured from a place [109]called Ebenput(?) near Musinigudi. When new vessels are required, and there is only one kaltmokh, a second is appointed, who goes to Ebenput, where he cuts bamboo called kôli, which is large enough for the dairy vessels. The bamboo is taken by the kaltmokh to the ti, and the new vessels are manufactured by the palol.

It is possible for the kaltmokh to go to Ebenput and back in one day, but if unable to do this he may stay the night at Taradr, the nearest etudmad to Musinigudi. The bamboo for the new vessels, however, must not be taken to Taradr, but must be left in a wood near the village, and taken on to the ti mad on the following day.

Any new vessels or implements must be purified before being used. The earthenware vessels of the inner room are taken from the Badagas who bring them, and are rubbed over, inside and out, with the bark of the tudr tree, after which the bark is put inside the vessel, water is poured in three times, saying “,” and the contents rinsed round and poured out. Water is then put in the vessel, which is placed for a time on the fireplace to make it look old, the fireplace used being the pelkkatitthwaskal. The kòghlag or churning stick is purified by rubbing tudr bark over it and pouring water all over it three times. The churning stick and the earthenware vessels of the inner room are both purified in the outer room of the dairy, and the purification must be performed on a Sunday.

The kwoi is purified on the same day of the week in front of the buffalo enclosure or tu. After churning, the palol takes the new kwoi, and a tòrzum full of water, and purifies the former with tudr bark and water three times in the way already described. He then milks into the new kwoi for the first time, and on this occasion he must be careful not to fill the vessel completely.

The idrkwoi is purified in the same manner as the other vessels and also on a Sunday, but the purification is performed at the junction of the inner and outer rooms of the dairy.

New vessels and other objects belonging to the outer room are purified with the same procedure in their own room, but on a Tuesday or Wednesday. [110]

The kwoi or milking vessel is the only vessel which is not purified inside the dairy. With the exception of this vessel all the other objects used in the dairy are purified in the outer room or at the junction of the inner and outer rooms.

All old, broken or worn-out vessels or implements are thrown away except the kwoi, which must be buried in a wood near a dairy. Thus this vessel is treated unlike other contents of the dairy, both when being purified and when rejected as of no further use. I could obtain no explanation of this, and can only suggest that the exceptional treatment is due to the fact that it comes into actual contact with the sacred buffaloes.


The Five Ti

At present there are only five ti in existence, belonging to the clans of Nòdrs, Kars, Pan, Kwòdroni, and Nidrsi. The Keradrol are said to have had a ti at one time which was spirited away by the god Kwoto (see Chap. IX) and the name of one of its places, Tîkîrs, is still preserved.

The most important ti belongs to Nòdrs and this is one of the original institutions, the ti of Kars and that of Kwòdrdoni being the others. The Pan ti is derived from that of Nòdrs (see story of Kwoten), and the Nidrsi ti is an offshoot of the Kwòdrdoni institution.

Of these five ti, that of Nòdrs is the only one which still has two palol. The Kars ti has only one palol, and similarly that of Pan. The ti of Kwòdrdoni and Nidrsi are at present unoccupied. At the Kwòdrdoni ti the office is filled once a year for a limited period in order to satisfy certain requirements of the Kotas.

No ti is allowed to be vacant when the final funeral ceremonies are performed for any member of the clan to which the ti belongs, and it is only on the occasion of these ceremonies that palol is now appointed to the Nidrsi ti.

Each ti has certain features of organisation and procedure peculiar to itself. There are certain differences of ritual and differences in the names and kinds of the buffaloes and sacred objects. The history and special features of each ti will now be considered. [111]


The Nòdrs Ti

The goddess Teikirzi lived at Nòdrs and was its ruler, and Nòdrs was in consequence especially favoured when the various buffaloes were distributed by this deity. When Püv died and Ön went away to Amnòdr (see p. 185), the Nòdrs ti and its buffaloes went with him. Teikirzi, who remained behind, found after a time that it was not good to rule a country without a ti, so she complained to Ön and asked him to send the buffaloes back. He consented and people were sent from Nòdrs to Amnòdr to fetch the buffaloes. Ön gave them the buffaloes and all the things of the ti, and he also gave a milking vessel and a churning stick made of gold. When the men started to bring back the buffaloes, they went some way and then found that they had forgotten the gold vessel and churn given to them by Ön. So they went back and asked Ön for the two things. Ön refused to give them up as they had not been taken at first, and it is believed that they are still in the dairy at Amnòdr.

Ön told the men who returned to ask for the things they had forgotten that the Todas were to make the vessel and churn of bamboo. They were to go to the hill called Teikhars or Kulinkars, where they would find a flower called kavulpuv, and he told them to make a new kòghlag of the same shape as that flower. They did so, and ever since that time the churning-stick both at the ti and at the ordinary village has been made so that it is like the flower kavulpuv.

Another incident which occurred during the journey of the ti buffaloes back from Amnòdr was the birth of a mani. One of the two palol was carrying the dairy vessels of the inner room, and the other was carrying the mani called Keu. When they were about half-way back to this world, the palol who was carrying the dairy vessels found that they had become very heavy, so he put them down, and, taking off the tòrzum which was covering one of the persin, he found a bell in the milk of the persin. So they called the bell Persin because it was the son of a persin, and to this day the bell is fed with milk because it was born in milk. It is the mani which is kept in the ti poh of the Nòdrs ti, while the other [112]mani Keu, carried by the other palol, is kept in the wars poh and this bell, Keu, is not fed with milk.

When the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti returned from Amnòdr, they talked like men. One day when the palol told the kaltmokh to bring the calves, the buffaloes used bad language such as may not be uttered before women; they would not obey the palol, and refused to allow him to milk them. Then Teikirzi found that it was bad that buffaloes should have the tongues of men, and she dragged the tongues out of the mouths of the buffaloes and made them new tongues of tudr bark. The buffaloes could then talk no longer, and they allowed themselves to be milked.

Originally the Nòdrs ti had three places, or ti mad, given to it by Teikirzi: Anto, Òdrtho, and Kulâdrtho. Later the people made other ti mad, and at one time, in addition to the three, they had the following places:—Mòdr, Kudreiil, Majòdr, Mûkòdr, Tidj, Pûth, and Pòos. Several of these are now disused or have disappeared altogether, but are still mentioned in the prayer of the ti. Of the three original places, Kulâdrtho has disappeared and its place is occupied by the Prospect tea estate. The sites of Tidj and Pûth are also occupied by tea estates. The way to Pòos has been blocked by a Kota village, so that the buffaloes would be unable to reach it without being defiled by going through the village, and, in consequence, this dairy is not used. Mukòdr is very close to another ti mad, probably Majòdr, and the palol “were lazy” and allowed it to fall into ruins. There is a conical dairy, now in ruins, near Makurti Peak, which belonged to the Nòdrs ti, and it is possible that this is the dairy of Mukòdr.

The herds now spend the greater part of the year at Mòdr, but still go in most years to Anto, Òdrtho, Kudreiil, and Majòdr at certain seasons.

The Nòdrs ti has two kinds of persinir, the tiir and the warsir, each of which has its own palol. There are also the punir for the special use of the palol. The tiir have three subdivisions, the unir, the atir, and the teirtir, so called because descended from certain buffalo ancestors, or nòdrkutchi, who were connected with Anto, Tidj, and Teir. The warsir, [113]are divided into two groups, the kulatir and the perithir, so called because their nòdrkutchi were connected with Kulâdrtho and Perithi respectively. Teir is close to Mòdr, but does not seem at any time to have been itself a ti mad, and I could not ascertain why it should have given its name to one group of the buffaloes. Perithi is near Gudalur, and in the prayer of Anto (see p. 225), there is a reference to a ti dairy at this place from which the buffaloes evidently took their name.

At most of the dairies the buffaloes stand together and the two palol occupy the same ti mad, though each has his own dairy; but when one herd, that of the tiir, goes to Òdrtho, the other herd, that of the warsir, goes to another place called Kudreiil. These two places are quite close to one another, but are regarded as separate ti mad. The reason given for this separation was that at one time the warsir did not behave properly at Òdrtho, and Teikirzi ordered that they should not stand there again, but should go to another place. I could not ascertain what the buffaloes did to merit this punishment.

I obtained a full account of the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti at the time of my visit. There were seven unir; four adult buffaloes, called Kôzi, Perith, Kâsimi, and Uf, and three young buffaloes not yet named; five atir, Persuth, Enmars, Tòthi, and two unnamed; three teirtir, Pülkoth, Köji, and one unnamed. Of kulatir there were four, Köji, Keirev, and two young buffaloes; of perithir five, Kâsimi, Kiûd, Persv, and two unnamed. Thus the ti palol had fifteen persinir, and in addition about thirty punir, while the wars palol had nine persinir and about fifteen punir.

The dairy of the tiir is often called the ti poh, and that of the warsir, the wars poh, and every dairy has also its special name; thus, at Anto the dairy of the tiir is called Medrpoh, and the dairy of the warsir is called Kadpoh or Kadvoh. One of these dairies is of the conical form, but my record does not tell me which. According to Breeks the name of the conical dairy is Kiurzh. This is possibly the same word as Kad(poh), the name of the dairy of the warsir. The two dairies at Mòdr are Pänpoh and Känpoh. The name of the ruined conical dairy near Makurti Peak [114]which belonged to the Nòdrs ti was Kateidipoh (Breeks, Katedva).

The palol of the Nòdrs ti must be chosen either from the people of Piedr or from those of Kusharf. Originally it was ordained that the palol should be chosen from the Piedrol, but later the Kuudr people obtained the right of becoming palol. This lasted till about seven or eight generations ago, when there is a story that the people of Kwurg (Coorg) came to fight the Todas and drove off the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti, which were standing at Mòdr. The palol was touched by the Kwurg people and in consequence ceased to be palol, but instead of pursuing the invaders, he sat down by the ti waiting till he could be reinstated in his office. The kaltmokh, who belonged to Piedr, followed the Kwurg people, who had carried off a large mani called Kän, and some people of Nòdrs and Kusharf also followed with the boy. The Kwurg people saw the kaltmokh and told him that he might have the buffaloes back if he would give them as many rupees as Kän would hold. The kaltmokh had inside his loincloth a little gold coin called pirpanm, which he took out and put into Kän and immediately the bell became full of rupees and the gold coin fell out. The Kwurg people took the rupees, and the kaltmokh took the bell and drove the buffaloes back to Mòdr.

As the Kwurg people were making their way home, they suddenly found that all the rupees had disappeared, so they turned and pursued the kaltmokh and the buffaloes. Then the kaltmokh prayed:

Per wadrth vêdrmâ, kârs wadrth vêdrmâ, män mas vêdrmâ.

“May the high hills be broken, may the rocks be broken, may the trees fall down.”

Directly there was a loud noise, the hills were divided, stones rattled, and trees fell down. Then the Kwurg people were afraid and returned to their own homes.6 The Todas held a council, and it was decided that, as the palol had not [115]followed the buffaloes, the Kuudr people should no longer have the privilege of becoming palol of the Nòdrs ti, and that in future the palol of this ti should be taken either from Piedr or Kusharf.

At the present time7 the palol of the tiir is Karkievan of Piedr, who has now been continuously in office for sixteen years, having also had a previous period of office as palol. The palol of the warsir is Nerponers of Kusharf (66), who had been in office for about a year at the time of my visit. The kaltmokh is Katsog of Kuudr (55).

Although now one palol belongs to Piedr and the other to Kusharf, it is not necessary that this should be so and it has happened frequently that both palol have belonged to the Piedrol.

The mani of the tiir, which is said to be made of iron, is that called Persin, of whose miraculous birth an account has been given. The mani of the warsir is called Keu, and is said to be made partly of gold, partly of silver, and partly of iron. Milk is put on the former bell by the palol at every churning and milking, but Keu is not ‘fed.’

In addition there are four mani of the kind called kudrs, which are tied to the punir and kept outside the door of the dairy. Three of these belong to the punir of the ti palol, and are called Arvatz, Kiûdz, and Kerâni, and should be tied to buffaloes named Püthiov, Peires, and Nersâdr respectively. The fourth bell belongs to the punir of the wars palol, and is called Kerâni. It should be tied to a buffalo named Tâlg.

The lamp of the wars poh is one of those made of iron, and is said to have come from Amnòdr. It is called Önâvpelk, the lamp of the seven holes. The ti poh had a similar lamp at one time, but it has been lost.

Three horns are kept in the sleeping-hut of the Nòdrs ti. Two belong to the tiir, and are called Kiûdrkûdr and Pudothkûdr. The third belongs to the warsir, and is called Teigun. (For the origin of these horns see the story of Korateu or Kuzkarv in Chap. IX.)

One feature of the ti poh at Mòdr, which is certainly not [116]general, is the presence of a screen in front of the door. The effect of this screen is to protect the palol from the gaze of the ordinary Todas when they are standing in their appointed place. When I visited Mòdr I was allowed to go into the enclosure where the buffaloes are milked, but this privilege was not accorded to my Toda guides, and in consequence I was often able to observe the doings of the palol when they were hidden from my guides by the screen.

The wars poh, on the other hand, has no such screen, but the wall surrounding this dairy is much higher than at the ti poh and effectually screens the palol from the public gaze. The door of the wars poh faces between north and north-east, and that of the ti poh south-east, but owing to the presence of the screen the palol has on coming out to turn to the left, and therefore faces north-east when saluting.


The Kars Ti

The following story gives the traditional origin of the ti mad at Makârs, one of the chief places of the Kars ti, but I could not ascertain definitely whether it was supposed to give the origin of the ti as a whole or only of the ti mad at Makârs. The story runs that Anto created buffaloes, one of which came to Makârs, where a tudr tree was standing. The buffalo rubbed against the tree and part of the bark came off, and that is why the place became a ti. When the buffalo found that there was no palol at Makârs and no kaltmokh, it was very angry and raged about furiously. While it was doing this, it jumped some stones and fell into the river called Kitheri, and it also jumped a stream called Warwar. In spite of its falling into the river, however, it did not die, but got out and pushed stones together with its horns so as to make a tu. Later a dairy was built near the tudr tree. Whether this was the origin of the ti or only of the ti mad of Makârs, it seemed quite clear that the Kars ti is believed to be one of the very early institutions of the Todas. Its two ancient places were Enòdr and Makârs. At each there were two dairies, and one [117]at least of those at Enòdr was of the conical variety and had the special name of Medrpoh. Enòdr has now fallen into disuse. It was a few miles to the north-east of Ootacamund, and it was no longer visited because the buffaloes would have had to pass through Ootacamund in going from Makârs to Enòdr and would have been defiled. Makârs, which is near the Nanjanad valley, is now the chief place of the ti, and the buffaloes were there at the time of my visit.

Another important and ancient place of the Kars ti is Kòn (Lingmand) in the Kundahs. In the story of Kwoto (see p. 204) the buffaloes were going to Enòdr from Kòn when the boy showed his miraculous knowledge of the buffalo kwarzam. Two other places are Nerâdr and Pars. Both Kòn and Nerâdr are still used, but Pars, which is not far from Ootacamund, is no longer used, having been given up because Badagas went to live near it.

As at the Nòdrs ti, there are two kinds of persinir in addition to the punir. The two kinds are called pürsir and parsir, the former being also sometimes called enòdrir. Although there are two kinds of sacred buffalo with their corresponding dairies, there has never been more than one palol. When a palol is appointed to this ti, he is ordained to the office of palol to the parsir, and, for the first month, he attends to these buffaloes only and enters their dairy, the parspoh, only. At the end of the month, he becomes palol to the pürsir, with certain ceremonies, to be described later, and from that time to the end of his period of office he works in the pürspoh only and never enters the parspoh, although he continues to attend to the parsir as well as to the pürsir. The milk of the parsir is mixed with that of the pürsir in the vessels of the dairy belonging to the latter kind of buffalo. This dairy, which is usually called pürspoh after the buffaloes, has also the special name of Kakanmudri.

There is one bell belonging to the pürsir which has three names, Perner, Uner, and Persagan, but it is also often called Ner. Koboners told me that this bell is usually quite black, but that he had once rubbed off the thick layer of soot and dust with which it is covered and had found that it was made of gold. It seems to have been of a light colour and [118]may have been made of bronze. There is also a bell belonging to the parsir called Talg.

Formerly the palol of the Kars ti was chosen from the Melgarsol, but this clan lost the privilege owing to the misbehaviour of one of their number when holding the sacred office. The buffaloes were standing at Enòdr, and the Melgars palol was milking a buffalo, when he saw a honey-bee. He got up, left the buffalo, and went after the bee, leaving his milking-vessel behind. He followed the bee, found the nest, took the comb, ate some of the honey, gave the remainder to the kaltmokh to put in the hut, and then went back and continued to milk the buffalo, whose name was Kän. When he had finished milking, he was taking the milk into the dairy when a plank fell on his head and he was killed. Then it was decided that Melgars people should no longer be palol, and that the office in future should be filled from the Teivaliol. Whenever the Todas wish to refer to the fact that the Melgars people have lost the right of being palol, they say, “Kän kârvûk kiûztheniz ûpi vûchi,” or, “Kän milking, bee he followed after.”

The palol is now taken from Piedr, Kusharf or Kuudr, and the present holder of the office is Nòdrners (67) of Kusharf. The dairies of this ti are always near those of the Pan ti, and the two palol share one kaltmokh between them, the present holder of this office being Teitun (64) of Piedr.


The Pan Ti

The legend of the origin of this ti will be given in full in the story of Kwoten (Chap. IX). When this hero was reproved by his wife because the Pan people had no ti, he obtained buffaloes from the Nòdrs ti, so that the Pan ti appears to have been later in origin than those of Nòdrs and Kars, and to have been derived from the former.

Certain of the buffaloes are reputed to be descended from an ancestor made by Teikhars or Kulinkars (see the story of this god in Chap. IX).

The most important dairy of this ti appears to have been situated at Tarsòdr or Tazòdr in the Kundahs, which is the [119]place to which the buffalo created by Teikhars found its way. Tarsòdr is about two miles from Kòn, and there is still a dairy of the conical kind at this place which is probably one of those mentioned by Breeks under the name of Tarzhva. Its special name was Pôhûjpoh or Pûverizpoh, and it belonged to the group of buffaloes of the ti called tarsir. It is now falling into ruins, having been disused for about twenty years. The last palol who went there was Pethovan (70) of the Kwaradr division of the Keadrol. He died at Tarsòdr soon after going there in perfect health from Kudòdr. His son, Kiudners, later became palol to the tarsir, but was afraid to go to Tarsòdr because his father had died there. Like his father, Kiudners died in office at Kudòdr, and the death of both father and son while holding the office of palol so alarmed the Todas that no one has been to the dairy of Tarsòdr since. I was told that the dairy had been given up because the gods of Tarsòdr were so severe, i.e., it was assumed that both father and son had been killed by the gods for some infringement of dairy regulations. New dairies have since been built near Kòn, the seat of the Kars ti in the Kundahs.

The place at which the buffaloes were standing at the time of my visit was Kudòdr, near Makârs, and this is the ti mad which is occupied during the greater part of the year. Another dairy is at Nerâdr, again near the ti mad of the same name belonging to the Kars ti.

A fourth place, Uterâdr, is now rarely visited, since the buffaloes may only go there when there are two palol.

There seems to be a very close association between the ti institutions of Kars and Pan. The buffaloes of the two always move about together, and the dairies are so close to one another that, at present, they are able to share the same kaltmokh.

The Pan ti has two kinds of buffalo in addition to the punir, viz., the tarsir and the warsir. At one time the warsir belonged to one division of the Pan clan, called the Panol, and the tarsir belonged to the other division, the Kuirsiol. At Kòn there are two dairies, one for each kind of buffalo, and each kind should also have its own palol. At the present time there is only one palol, who looks after the tarsir. [120]The dairy of the warsir, or the warspoh, is closed and may not be entered by the palol, and he is not allowed to milk the warsir, though he may milk the punir belonging to the warspoh.

Formerly the palol of the tarsir was chosen from the Kwaradr division of the Keadrol and the palol of the warsir from the other division of this clan, this arrangement being said to have been ordained by Kwoten.

The Kwaradr division is now extinct and the remainder of the Keadrol are not very numerous, and the present palol of the tarsir is Peilet (64) of Piedr. A few years ago both dairies were occupied, the palol of the tarsir being Naburs (64) of Piedr, and the palol of the warsir, Pichievan (69) of Keadr. The latter is said to have thrown up his office because the income was not large enough.

If there should be a death among the Panol, the second funeral ceremonies (the marvainolkedr, or so-called ‘dry funeral’) could not take place unless both dairies were occupied. Since Pichievan resigned, no Pan man has died, but when this happens a second palol would have to be appointed before the marvainolkedr could be held.

The tarsir have two bells, called Kòsi and Pongg. The former is tied on a buffalo called Kòsi, and Pongg on one called Enmars. Milk is only put on the bell called Kòsi. At the dairy of these buffaloes there is an iron lamp of the ancient kind with seven cavities and seven wicks, and the horn is called Kwatadr. The warsir have one bell, called Keituzan, which is put round the neck of a buffalo called Kòjiu. The old iron lamp belonging to these buffaloes has been lost and an earthenware or bark lamp is used in its stead. The horn is called Persagan, but as these buffaloes have no palol, this horn is not now blown.

The people of Pan are mòrol at this ti.


The Kwòdrdoni Ti

There was some difference of opinion as to the origin of this ti, which is often called the Arsaiir ti by the Todas. According to one account, given to me by Kwòdrdoni people, [121]the buffaloes called arsaiir came from the sea and were the mothers of all the tiir. Another account, which seemed to be more generally accepted, was that the Kwòdrdoni ti was instituted by Ön, like those of Nòdrs and Kars, but that one day, when the palol was milking, the mani, called Pushodipongg, came from the sea and sat on the side of the milking-vessel.

The chief place of this ti is Pursâs, situated between Kwòdrdoni and Kotagiri. The other dairies in the past were at Kakwai, Karküln, Pobkars, and Kadrin, but only the first of these, which is close to Kwòdrdoni, is now used.

At the time of my visit there was no palol, and the buffaloes, only about eight in number, were standing at Kakwai, but were not being milked.

A palol is appointed every year shortly before the ceremony in honour of the god Kamataraya, which is celebrated by the Kotas in January. When the Kotas announce that they are about to hold this ceremony, a palol and kaltmokh are appointed who go to Pursâs. The buffaloes are milked and the ghi which is obtained from the milk is given to the Kotas. The palol remains in office for about twenty days, and his appointment is made altogether on behalf of the Kotas, who would be very angry if it were not done. It seemed that the success of the Kota ceremony would be seriously impaired if there were no palol at the Kwòdrdoni ti.

A palol would also be appointed if it were wished to hold the second funeral ceremonies, or marvainolkedr, of a Kwòdrdoni person.

The Kwòdrdoni ti has never had more than one kind of buffalo, and never more than one palol or kaltmokh. The buffaloes, or arsaiir, are those which disobeyed the commands of Ön (see Chap. IX), and are said to be responsible for the dangers suffered by buffaloes from tigers.

The people of Nòdrs and Kars have the privilege of taking buttermilk and food at the ti, and are known as mòrol, but they may not sleep at the ti mad, nor do they take any part in the buffalo migration. According to one account, the people of Pan are also mòrol, and may even sleep at the ti. [122]


The Nidrsi Ti

This is an offshoot of the Kwòdrdoni ti. One evening, after the buffaloes and calves of the Kwòdrdoni ti had been shut up for the night, the women of an adjoining village were pounding the grain called ragi. When the calves heard the noise of the pounding, they ran out of their pen and made their way to Pursâs. One of the wooden tasth which bar the entrance of the pen became entangled in the neck of one of the calves, and when the calf reached a place near Edrpali village, the tasth dropped and became a wood, and the place is now called Tasthnòdrpem. From here the calf went on to Pursâs. The Kwòdrdoni people went to Pursâs to fetch back the calf, but when they got to the place they changed their minds and said that the calf should stop at Pursâs, and that the Nidrsi people should make a ti there and appoint a palol; and this was the origin of the Nidrsi ti, which is called kar ti because it was derived from a calf, while the ti of Kwòdrdoni is called ir ti. The two institutions have different dairies, but both are at Pursâs.

I could obtain little satisfactory information about the customs of the Nidrsi ti. There is only one ti mad, viz., that at Pursâs near the dairy of the Kwòdrdoni ti. Any of the Teivaliol may hold the office of palol, but at the time of my visit there was no palol, and the six buffaloes, which are all that remain of the herd, are being looked after, though not milked, by a Tarthar man, Todrigars (41), at one of the ordinary villages. A palol would have to be appointed before the second funeral ceremonies of one of the Nidrsiol could be performed, but apparently he would only hold office for a short time. [123]

1 The proper name for the pen at the ti was mukadr, and for the calf-pen, tülkkadr, but my informants always used the ordinary words tu and kadr

2 These are the kwarzam, or prayer names (see Chapter X) of Teikirzi and Tirshti. They were used by Naburs (64) who had been palol at the Pan ti, but it is doubtful whether their use or the use of any other kwarzam on these occasions is an established custom. 

3 In the story of Kwoto and the Keradr ti (Chap. IX) the kaltmokh has to pour away buttermilk at an appointed spot. It is probable that this buttermilk is that unfinished by the palol, and possibly this custom is still followed but was not mentioned by my informants. 

4 According to Breeks (p. 14) these garments are made by the Badagas of Jakaneri. This may be correct, but it is much more probable that they are procured through the Badagas living in this village. 

5 It is possible that Finicio was told of this custom, and that his statement about the relations of the palol to women only refer to this ceremony. 

6 This legendary account probably preserves a tradition of a real invasion of the Nilgiri Hills by the people of Coorg. The Todas put the date of the occurrence at about seven or eight generations ago. In 1774 Linga Raja, with 3,000 Coorgs, invaded the Wainad and remained there for five years. During this time it is highly probable that the Coorgs would have explored the Nilgiri Hills. (See Mysore and Coorg, by Lewis Rice, Bangalore, 1878, vol. iii., p. 110.) 

7 In 1902. 




At certain seasons of the year it is customary that the buffaloes both of the village and the ti should migrate from one place to another. Sometimes the village buffaloes are accompanied by all the inhabitants of the village; sometimes the buffaloes are only accompanied by their dairyman and one or more male assistants.

There are two chief reasons1 for these movements of the buffaloes, of which the most urgent is the necessity for new grazing-places. During the dry season, lasting from about December to March, the pasturage around the villages where the Todas usually live becomes very scanty, and the buffaloes are taken to places where it is more abundant. Many of these places are in or near the Kundahs, where the rainfall is greater than over the rest of the hills, and others are scattered here and there about the hills in spots where, owing to favourable conditions, the ground is less parched than elsewhere. At other seasons of the year it may happen that the grazing in the neighbourhood of a village becomes exhausted, and it becomes necessary to take the buffaloes to another place.

The other chief reason for the migrations is that certain villages and dairies, formerly important and still sacred, are visited for ceremonial purposes, or out of respect to ancient custom. Some of these places, such as the villages of Piedr [124]and Kusharf, are in outlying parts of the hills, and are entirely unoccupied except on the occasion of these ceremonial visits. Another example is the ancient and sacred village of Nasmiòdr, of which there now only remains a dairy, situated in a grove in the middle of a valley cultivated by Badagas. It is visited once a year by the wursulir of Kars for about a month, and, as there is only scanty pasturage available, there is little doubt that the visit to this dairy has no utilitarian motive.

At the ti the same reasons hold good. Several of the ti herds have dairies, in or near the Kundahs, to which they go during the dry months of the year, while other dairies of special sanctity are visited only for a short time in each year. The dairy of Anto is a good example of the latter case; it is in an outlying part of the hills, and should be visited for one month every year, because it is the most sacred dairy of the ti.

The migrations of the ti buffaloes are more strictly regulated than are those of the village herds, and there are definitely prescribed rules for the order in which the dairies of the ti shall be visited, and for the duration of the stay at each, though, as we shall see later, these rules are not always followed.

As a general rule, the more ancient and sacred the dairy to which the buffaloes are going, the more elaborate are the ceremonies on reaching the new destination.

The day of migration is called irskidithbutnol or irnödrthnol.


Migrations of the Village Buffaloes

My account of the ceremonial accompanying the migration from one village to another is unfortunately very incomplete. The following accounts were given by Teivali men, and I cannot guarantee that they hold good for both divisions and for all clans.



When it is decided to move to a fresh village certain men are chosen to help in the removal, and are told to come on the appointed day, which must not be one of the sacred days of the village (see Chap. XVII). On the morning of this day [126]the palikartmokh abstains from food. He does the ordinary work of his dairy, and gives out buttermilk and butter to the women as usual. He then calls to the chosen men who have come to the village, and they stand outside the door of the dairy. The palikartmokh comes out, holding in his right hand the milking-vessel (irkartpun) and churning-stick (madth). He stands facing the sun, and salutes holding the vessel and churn to his forehead, and says “ekirzam meidjam,” the kwarzam of Teikirzi and Tirshti. Then all present pray, using the prayer of the dairy. The palikartmokh puts the milking-vessel and the churning-stick at the back of the dairy (the palimerkal), and then brings the other dairy things, carrying out those of the patatmar first and then those of the ertatmar. Two stout sticks are prepared, each called pütusht, and the various objects of the patatmar are fastened on one stick and those of the ertatmar on the other, in the way shown in Figs. 29 and 30.2 When the things have been fastened on the sticks, all go to the front of the huts of the village and take food, after which the procession starts. It is headed by the buffaloes, followed by the dairyman and the men carrying the dairy vessels. Each of the latter carries the staff on his left shoulder and has the right arm out of the mantle. The man carrying the things of the patatmar walks in front of the man carrying those of the ertatmar, as shown in the figures. After the buffaloes, the dairyman, and the dairy vessels, there follow any men who are accompanying the procession, and if all the inhabitants of the village are migrating, the women and children follow the men.

On leaving the village the women and girls may have to go for a certain distance by a different path from that taken by the buffaloes, but during the greater part of the journey there does not seem to be any regulation to prevent the women following in the wake of the sacred animals.

FIG. 30.—1. A. The madth. B. A patat. C. Another patat. D. The parskadrvenmu. E. The irkartpun. 2. A. The axe. B. The fire-sticks. C. The majpariv. D. The pòlmachok. E. The ertatpun. F. A tek. G. The lamp.

FIG. 30.—1. A. The madth. B. A patat. C. Another patat. D. The parskadrvenmu. E. The irkartpun. 2. A. The axe. B. The fire-sticks. C. The majpariv. D. The pòlmachok. E. The ertatpun. F. A tek. G. The lamp.

On reaching the new village, the palikartmokh purifies [128]the dairy by throwing into it water mixed with tudr bark.3 The dairy things are taken off the sticks at an appointed spot. The palikartmokh salutes the sun with irkarthpun and madth as in the morning, and then all pray. After the prayer, the palikartmokh takes some ferns (taf) and puts them on the place within the dairy where the things of the patatmar are to stand, and these are put in their places on the ferns. The things of the ertatmar are then arranged in the same way. The palikartmokh makes fire by friction, lights the lamp, and then goes to milk the buffaloes. If he has brought milk with him, he will churn it. Meanwhile a ceremony called nòtiteiti will have been performed by a little girl about six or seven years of age in those cases in which all the inhabitants of the village are migrating. Before leaving the village from which the people are coming this girl will have been given food in the dairy. On reaching the new place, the girl plucks three blades of the slender grass called kakar and goes to the front of the dairy and sweeps the threshold with the grass. She does this with her right arm outside her cloak, and when she has swept she bows down with her forehead to the threshold three times. If there is more than one dairy, she sweeps the threshold of each. The palikartmokh then gives her a small handful of butter and the girl goes to the huts. Up to this time the women will have been waiting near the village, but when they see that the girl has performed her ceremony, they go to the huts and prepare the food called ashkkartpimi.4

When the palikartmokh has finished milking, he also prepares food, and when it is ready he throws some into the fire, tòrtütrsersthi, “food into the fire he throws,” and then gives out the food to the people, and they eat both this and that prepared by the women.



At some places the ceremonial is more complicated than at others, the degree of elaboration depending on the sacredness of the dairy to which the buffaloes are going. When they migrate to the especially sacred village of Kiudr the extra [129]complexity seems to depend on the presence of the bells of the dairy of that village. When the palikartmokh reaches Kiudr, he puts the dairy things he has brought with him at the back of the dairy. Another palikartmokh goes into the inner room and brings out the bells called patatmani and lays them by stones called neurzülnkars at one side of the dairy (see Fig. 31). He enters again and brings out four ertatmani, which he lays by the side of another group of stones called neurzülnkars (see Fig. 32). The second palikartmokh then purifies the dairy with tudr bark and puts the vessels which have been brought to Kiudr in their places on a bed of ferns in the way which has been described. After all the vessels are in their places, he takes the patatmani to the dairy stream, while the first palikartmokh brings tudr bark. The tudr bark is pounded and the juice squeezed over the bells. The two patatmani, having thus been purified, are then put on a forked stick and carried to their usual place in the dairy. The same [130]procedure is repeated with the ertatmani, which are strung on a piece of bamboo and hung on another piece of bamboo which projects from the wall on the ertat side of the dairy. Then milk is put on the patatmani and buttermilk on the ertatmani as usual.




Migration of the Ti Buffaloes

I obtained a very full account of the migration of the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti and will first give an account of the proceedings for this herd.

The Toda year begins during October with the ceremony of teutütusthchi (see Chap. XIII) and at this time the buffaloes should be standing at Mòdr, near Paikara. Soon after this ceremony, the herd goes to Anto, the most important and sacred of the ti places. They stay here for a month and then go to Majòdr, not far from Makurti Peak, where they [131]stay during the dry season, stopping about three months or longer, according to the nature of the weather. It is often not until May is reached that the buffaloes return to Mòdr and stay there till August, when they cross the Paikara river to the two dairies, Òdrtho and Kudreiil, on the opposite bank. The tiir stay at Òdrtho and the warsir at Kudreiil for a month and then both return to Mòdr.

In 1902 this plan was very much disturbed. In order to go from Mòdr to Òdrtho and Kudreiil the herds and their attendants have to cross the river, and under no circumstances is the palol allowed to cross by the bridge. He usually watches his opportunity till the river is low enough at a certain ford to allow him to cross, but the summer of 1902 was unusually wet and the river was never sufficiently low to allow the passage, and in consequence Òdrtho and Kudreiil were not visited in that year.

Later it was arranged that the migration to Anto should take place on November 2nd. I was told that I might accompany the procession for part of the way, and was looking forward greatly to the occasion, as it was evident that it was my only chance of seeing and photographing the contents of the dairy. As the day approached, the migration was postponed because Teitnir, who was celebrating the funeral ceremonies of his wife and was therefore ichchil, had crossed the way by which the procession would have to pass. The ceremony was next arranged for November 23rd, but was then further postponed till the 30th. This was the last Sunday before the day on which I intended to leave the hills, and again I made arrangements to see the proceedings. No sooner had I done so than I was told that the procession was postponed for a week and was to take place on the day after I had left Ootacamund. I at once altered my plans and arranged to see the procession on December 7th. A new obstacle at once intervened, and I was told that the journey to Anto was deferred indefinitely, and, as I learnt afterwards from Samuel, the buffaloes did not go to Anto at all that year, but went direct from Mòdr to Majòdr on Wednesday, January 7th. All this occurred after the misfortunes had happened to [132]which I have already referred—misfortunes which were believed to be the direct consequence of my investigations—and it seemed quite clear that the various postponements and final abandonment of the journey to Anto were due to the fear that some misfortune might befall the sacred herd if I saw the procession.

It will be noticed that the herd of the Nòdrs ti may pass the greater part of the year at Mòdr, which is not one of the three most ancient dairies of the ti. It has become the most frequented because it is the most convenient, occupying a more central situation than most of the other dairies. Majòdr is also not one of the most ancient dairies, but is visited purely on account of grazing necessities. Anto and Òdrtho, the two out of the three places given originally by Teikirzi according to the legend, are visited not from necessity, but on account of their sanctity, and, as we have seen, it may happen under exceptional circumstances that neither place may be visited and the whole year passed at Mòdr and Majòdr.

It is only when going to Anto and Òdrtho that some of the most remarkable features of the buffalo migration ceremonies are carried out, and if these dairies should fall into disuse, as would seem not improbable, these features of the migration ceremonies would certainly vanish.

As we have seen, the migration to the relatively unimportant dairy of Majòdr may take place on a Wednesday, but when going to the more important places a Sunday must be chosen. The orthodox day is the first Sunday after the new moon, but so far as I could gather from the various days appointed for the migration during my visit there is no very strict adherence to the rule. A week before the migration a second kaltmokh is appointed who goes through the customary ordination ceremony. It is also arranged that a Melgars man (mòrol) shall come to carry some of the contents of the dairy. When the buffaloes are going either to Anto or Òdrtho it is absolutely necessary that a mòrol shall be present, who goes in front of both palol and kaltmokh and has certain well defined duties. The procession may also be accompanied by any Toda who has no ichchil and these people may help in driving the buffaloes and in carrying the [133]less important things from the dairy. Badagas may also accompany the procession.

The day of the migration is called irnödrthnol, and on the morning of this day the churning is done as usual, and sufficient milk is drawn to provide as much as can be safely carried in one of the persin without spilling it. All who take part in the procession must go without food on the morning of this day, and the palol does not take buttermilk as usual. The various objects which are to be taken with the buffaloes are brought out of the dairy and laid by a stone called the pepkusthkars, which in some places, and possibly everywhere, is in or near the wall of the tu.

The dairy vessels are carried according to well-defined rules. The things of the inner room and the intermediate objects, the lamp and the idrkwoi, are carried by the palol. The mòrol carries some of the things of the outer room and one of the horns. The two kaltmokh carry the other things of the outer room, the other horns and their own possessions.

The dairy vessels, &c., are carried by each man on a staff cut from the mòrs tree, the staff being called pepkati (the pütusht of the village migration). Each of the persin and alug is fixed on the staff by placing it on a roll of kakhudri, called a tedshk, round which six pieces of the string called twadrinar are tied. The six strings are passed round the vessel and fastened to the staff. The palol fastens on the three persin in such a way that when the staff is on his shoulder two of the vessels will be in front of him and the other behind his back, one of the vessels in front containing milk. The tòrzum are placed on the top of the persin as when they are in the dairy, and the persinkudriki is carried in the peptòrzum. The kwoi is fastened on in front, and the kòghlag and wands are placed along the staff. The lamp is put inside the idrkwoi and the latter tied to the end of the stick, so that it is behind the back of the palol when being carried. Care is taken that an interval is left between the idrkwoi and the other things; even when being carried from one dairy to another the objects intermediate between those of the inner and those of the outer room are kept separate from and not allowed to touch the more sacred vessels of the inner room. The staff with its [134]burdens is carried by the palol on his left shoulder in the same way as is shown in Fig. 29, illustrating the method of carrying the things of the village dairy.

The mani is carried by the palol on his right side. A staff of kiaz wood is cut, about five cubits (mogoi) in length, which must be perfectly straight with a fork at one end. The bell is covered completely with kiaz leaves tied with rattan fastenings, and put on the fork of the staff by its ring. The staff is carried upright in the right hand of the palol; if he becomes tired he may rest it on his shoulder, but this must be done in such a way that the forked end of the stick carrying the bell comes in front of his body, otherwise the palol would be presenting his back to the sacred object.

At the Nòdrs ti there is an exception to the ordinary rule in the case of the mani of the tiir. It will be remembered that this bell is reputed to have been born in a persin during the migration from Amnòdr, and the bell is therefore carried in one of the persin during the migration from one dairy to another. In its place the palol of the tiir carries in his right hand the churning stick with its churning end upwards.

The mani is the only object of the inner room which is covered with leaves, so that it may not be exposed to the vulgar gaze. The lamp is also hidden from view within the idrkwoi, but I do not know whether this is for the same reason or merely because it is a convenient way of carrying it.

The mòrol carries the large earthenware vessels of the outer room (alug), which are at least four in number. They are tied on a staff by means of tedshk in the same manner as are the persin. This is done by the kaltmokh, who puts the staff and its burden on the left shoulder of the mòrol, taking particular care that the vessels do not touch the man. The mòrol carries one of the horns in his right hand.

Before the procession starts each mani is hung on the neck of a calf, left on for a minute or so, taken off and put on its staff. The mani of the tiir called Persin is put on the neck of a two-year-old calf of the unir, and that of the warsir, Keu, is put on the neck of one of the perithir.

If any dairy vessels or implements are not taken with the buffaloes, they are not left in the dairy, but hidden in a wood. [135]

The procession then starts with the mòrol at its head. In some cases a halt is made when passing certain places, and prayer is offered by the palol. In going from Mòdr to Anto the procession stops first at Pòrstib near Tedshteiri village (belonging to the Nòdrsol), where the wars palol puts the staff carrying the mani on a stone and prays while touching the staff with his hands. The next halt is made at Ponvtüt, where the buffaloes separate from the palol and follow a slightly different route, and here the wars palol again prays. The procession halts for a third time at a place called Teirpül, near Anto, but this time it is the ti palol who prays after having placed the churning stick and bell on a stone.

On its way to Anto the procession passes near the village of Kiudr. When the buffaloes are seen to be coming, the women leave the house and go to the outskirts of the village, taking with them the pounder, sieve and broom, and wait there while the procession is going by. All the people of Kiudr fast on this day till after the buffaloes have passed.

It was said that on this day the palikartmokh of Kiudr used to rub clarified butter on the stones called neurzülnkars, but there was some doubt about this, and if the custom ever existed it seems to have fallen into disuse.

According to some accounts, certain clauses especially referring to the migration of the ti buffaloes are used in the prayer of the Kiudr dairy (see Chap. X).

On reaching the outskirts of the new place, the Todas who have accompanied the procession go away. The staff carried by the mòrol is taken off by the kaltmokh, who is again very careful that the vessels do not touch their bearer. Although the mòrol is allowed to carry some of the less sacred vessels, care is taken throughout that the vessels shall not be contaminated by touching his body or his clothing.

All the dairy vessels are taken off and laid by a stone called the perskars, and then follows the ceremony of peputi. Each palol has carried with him some milk in one of the persin. Some of this is poured into the peptòrzum5 and given to certain buffaloes, one of each kind belonging to the ti; thus, at the Nòdrs ti, the milk is given to five buffaloes, to three by one palol [136]and to two by the other. The milk may be given to buffaloes directly from the tòrzum, or it may be poured into the hands of the palol from which the appointed buffaloes drink.

The next business is the purification of the dairy, called nòdrkorsi arspishpimii.e., we wash with nòdrkorsi. The palol goes to the dairy spring or kwoinir with the karitòrzum, carrying the kwoinörtpet under his left arm. He throws tudr bark into the spring, fills the karitòrzum and returns. He puts tudr bark into the karitòrzum and also into the idrkwoi and then pours the water from the karitòrzum into the idrkwoi, which he takes to the dairy and throws the water with his hands first over the dairy vessels and then well into the dairy itself so that it penetrates to the inner room. He throws the water first on the floor, then to the roof and to the sides, three times to each. Next he takes three sprigs of the plant ordinarily called kabudri (Euphorbia Rothiana), but at the ti called nòdrkorsi and ties it over the door of the dairy.

The dairy vessels, which have been untied and placed on the ground near the perskars, are then purified and put in their places. The palol first takes up the peptòrzum with the persinkudriki within it, the kòghlag, the kwoi and kwoinörtpet, all in the right hand, and carries them to the front of the dairy, where he repeats certain kwarzam of the prayer, then turns to the east and says the whole prayer of the dairy, salutes the dairy holding the four things to his forehead, enters, puts the things except the kwoinörtpet in their places, comes out with the kwoinörtpet under his left arm and without turning his back to the interior of the dairy, and shuts the door of the building. He then takes in the other vessels of the inner room, carrying the kwoinörtpet under his left arm and without repeating the prayer. One persin is taken in first, then the others, the karitòrzum and the tedshk. Then the mani is taken, being carried in the right hand and laid temporarily on the floor near the persin; when taking in the bell certain kwarzam are said.

The wand called pohvet is next taken in and laid in its place, and then the things intermediate between the inner and outer room—viz., the lamp, which is hung in its place, and [137]the idrkwoi, which is put exactly at the line of junction of the two rooms.

After this the things of the outer room are put in their places. Fire is made by friction, and the tòratthwaskal lighted, light transferred from this to the pelkkatitthwaskal, and with the fire so made the palol lights the lamp.

In most cases the buffaloes are then milked, but at Anto and Òdrtho, before milking, the palol begins an extraordinary ceremony, in which the kaltmokh is concerned, which is continued till the following day.

For this ceremony food is especially prepared by the palol. He mixes husked grain (patcherski), brought by the Badagas who accompany the procession, with buttermilk and jaggery,6 spreads butter on the mixture, and, putting it on a kakud leaf, takes it out to one of the two kaltmokh who is sitting in a given place about ten yards from the dairy. The kaltmokh must now stay on this spot till the evening.

After the palol has milked, he takes food himself and gives it to the mòrol. Before going to rest for the night a ceremony is performed called irtupadrchiti, “he prays for the buffaloes at the tu.” The two palol go to the front of the tu7 in which the buffaloes have been put for the night and they pray, using the kwarzam of the ti and of the gods only. They then go to the sleeping hut, where the second kaltmokh has swept the floor and prepared a fire. When the palol come to the hut they bawl out in a high key three times and the kaltmokh does the same and they go to bed, the two palol occupying one bed (tün) and the mòrol and the second kaltmokh the other. After they have been in the hut some time, the first kaltmokh, who has been sitting till now outside at the place where he was given food, creeps into the hut and lies down to sleep between the two beds without any covering. No notice of him must be taken by the other occupants of the hut.

The following day is called punirsnol. In the early morning, before the others are awake, the first kaltmokh must get [138]up, light the fire, warm himself, and then go out and sit on the same spot as on the previous evening. He remains there till the two palol come to him to continue the ceremony in which he is concerned.

When the palol rise they do their usual work, and when they have milked they perform a ceremony called karkutkîrsiti,8 in which the calves are prayed for in the same way that the buffaloes were prayed for on the previous evening. The second kaltmokh collects the calves in the pepkarmus, or milking-place of the buffaloes, and the two palol, each with empty kwoi and with kwoinörtpet, pray as on the previous evening using the kwarzam of the ti and some of the kwarzam of the gods, and then bawl out in a high key three times in order to scatter the calves.

The ceremony with the kaltmokh is then continued. Each of the palol takes the vessel used for ladling buttermilk (mòrkudriki); one palol fills his vessel with the milk of punir and the other fills with nei (clarified butter). Each leaves his dairy, and they both call to the kaltmokh, who comes to the threshold of the ti poh, and stands there while the two palo, mix the milk and nei. The kaltmokh is then told to hold out his hands, and each palol pours out the mixture into the hands of the boy, who rubs it over his head first, and then all over his body. After the kaltmokh has thus been bathed in milk and nei, the three people walk in procession to the spot where the kaltmokh had been sitting, the kaltmokh going first, followed by the wars palol and the ti palol in order. As they walk, the two palol say the following words:—

Köda die mâ; may (he); pîrzi tiger puti catch vurmâ; (him) may; pob snake ers bite vurmâ; (him) may; per steep hill pûdith fall down vurmâ (on him) may; pâkh river pûdith fall vurmâ (on him) may9; pudi wild boar eri bite mâ; may; kâdr wild beast pat hold (catch him) mâ; may; kedrman bear par carry (him) away mâ. may. [139]

When they come to the spot where the kaltmokh had been given the food, the boy remains standing there while the two palol turn round and walk back in the dairy, saying:—

Köda die mâ, may (he), idvaik, as was said, ultâmâ; may he be well; pîrzi tiger par carry away mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, para carry away vômâ; may not; per steep hill pur fall mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, puva fall vômâ; may not; pòb snake eri bite mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, eria bite vômâ; may not; pâkh river pur fall mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, puva fall vômâ; may not; kâdr wild beast pat mâ, catch may, idvaik, as was said, pata catch vômâ; may not; kedrman bear par carry away mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, para carry away vômâ; may not; pudi wild boar eri bite mâ, may, idvaik, as was said, eria bite vômâ. may not.

The ti palol then enters his dairy and brings out an especially large ball of the food called ashkkartpimi, more than can possibly be eaten at one sitting. It is given to the kaltmokh, who sits on the same spot as before, and eats as much of it as he can.

All this ceremony has been done after milking, and before drinking buttermilk (kaizhvatiti), which is now poured out by the second kaltmokh for the palol, who then go about their usual business. When the first kaltmokh has eaten as much as he can of his ball of food he leaves it on the spot where he has been sitting, and goes with the palol. The Todas say that the food left behind will never be touched by the crows, who will eat any other food.

In the afternoon the palol transact their ordinary dairy business and the kaltmokh returns to his place and resumes the consumption of his ball of food, staying on the spot till the end of the day. When the two palol have gone into the sleeping hut for the night, the kaltmokh goes into the hut after them and may then talk to the other occupants, and after this follows the usual routine.

During the whole of this ceremony the kaltmokh, who takes so prominent a part in it, is called the neurzutpol.

At the other dairies of the Nòdrs ti a ceremony which is obviously closely connected with that which has been [140]described is performed at certain stones called neurzülnkars. At Mòdr there are four of these stones (shown in Fig. 33), and three of them are rounded and worn quite smooth, probably by much repetition of the ceremony about to be described.

On the day following the migration each palol takes a mòrkudriki, which one fills with milk and the other with butter (pen, not nei, as when rubbed on the kaltmokh). The two palol put milk on the stones and then rub them with butter. There is no cursing and the kaltmokh plays no part in the ceremony. There can be little doubt that the stones are regarded as taking the place of the kaltmokh, for while the latter is performing his ceremony he is called neurzutpol, and the stones anointed in the same way are called neurzülnkars.

The ceremony with the kaltmokh which follows the migration to the dairies of Anto and Òdrtho is one of the most extraordinary of Toda ceremonies. The leading feature of the ceremony appears to be the cursing of the kaltmokh, followed immediately by the removal of the curse. I was wholly unable to obtain any explanation of the ceremony from the Todas, but it seems probable that the kaltmokh is being made responsible for any offence which may have been committed against the very sacred dairies of Anto and Òdrtho. The kaltmokh having been cursed, and so made responsible, the curse is then removed in order to avoid the evil consequences which would befall the boy if this were not done. [141]



It is possible that the kaltmokh is chosen as the person to be made responsible merely because he is the most convenient person to act as the recipient of any evil consequences. It is, however, probable that on this day the kaltmokh does something which he does not do on ordinary days, and thus commits an offence which has to be expiated. On the day of migration the kaltmokh does, as a matter of fact, see the sacred vessels of the inner room which are ordinarily hidden from his gaze behind the screen of the dairy. He sees the mani in its leafy covering, and he may even see the bell itself before it is covered. He also touches some of the vessels of the outer room which he does not [142]ordinarily touch, and it may be that the cursing and other features of the ceremony are intended to obviate the possible evil consequences of these acts. At the ancient and sacred dairies of Anto and Òdrtho the ceremony is still carried out in its entirety, but at other dairies many of the chief features of the ceremony have disappeared and all that remains is the anointing of the neurzülnkars, which take the place of the head of the kaltmokh.

When the kaltmokh comes into the sleeping hut on the first night of the ceremony, my informants laid great stress on the fact that the other occupants of the hut must take no notice of the boy, who creeps in after the others have taken their places on the beds, and he must go out in the morning before they show signs of waking. It is probable that the boy had originally to sit all the night in the open air at the appointed spot, and though he is now allowed to come into the hut, no notice is taken of him because theoretically he is not there. It is quite in accordance with Toda ideas that this should be done and other instances of similar procedure will be given.

Another noteworthy feature of the ceremony is the act of giving the kaltmokh a larger portion of food than can possibly be consumed at one meal. This feature occurs in other Toda ceremonies, and especially in connexion with the ordination of the palol, to be described in the next chapter. I know nothing of the significance of this procedure.

At some time during the day following the arrival at the new ti mad, the dairy is well cleansed with dried buffalo-dung. Soon after the migration—on the following Wednesday at the Nòdrs ti and on Sunday at the Kars and the Pan ti—a special ceremony called ponup is performed, in which salt is given to certain sacred buffaloes, but this will be described, together with the other salt-giving ceremonies, in Chapter VIII.

The Melgars man who accompanies the procession of the Nòdrs ti stays at Anto till the following Wednesday; at other places he only stays till the day after the procession. The Toda way of putting this is that at Anto he stays erdpunrsi.e., “two punrs.” One punrs is a day and its next day, so that erdpunrs is equal to four days. At other places the Melgars [143]man stays only one punrsi.e., he leaves the ti mad on the day following the migration.

The foregoing account applies to the Nòdrs ti. The general procedure is the same at the migration of other herds, but the ceremonial is, in general, less elaborate. At no other ti is there anything corresponding to the ceremonies in which the kaltmokh plays so important a part, and at no other ti is it absolutely necessary that a mòrol should take part in the procession, though, as a matter of fact, he usually also leads the way at the migrations of the Pan ti.

At the Kars ti the buffaloes pass the greater part of the year at Makars. They usually go to Neradr, where they stay about a month, and then go to Kòn for the dry season, returning to Makars in April. Sometimes they again stop at Neradr on their way from Kòn to Makars. It is probable that when the sacred dairy of Enòdr was still in use the ceremonial was more elaborate than it is at present. In the legend of Kwoto (see Chap. IX) an account is given of a ceremonial which occurred in former times during the migration from Kòn to Enòdr, and it is possible that this persisted until Enòdr was given up as a ti mad.

The herds of the Pan ti usually migrate with those of the Kars ti. They stand during the greater part of the year at Kudòdr, near Makars, and go to Neradr and Kòn as the dry season approaches.

In the case of the Pan ti, it seems that the bells travel on the necks of buffaloes; the mani called Kòsi on the neck of a buffalo called Kòsi, Pongg on a buffalo called Enmars, and Keituzan on one called Kòjiu. In this procession a mòrol goes first, followed by the tars palol, the wars palol, and the two kaltmokh in order.

At the present time there are no migrations of the buffaloes of the Kwòdrdoni ti or of the Nidrsi ti, and I have no information about the past. At Pursas, the present dairy of the Kwòdrdoni ti, there is a stone called neurzülnkars. I was told that nothing was done to it in connexion with the migrations of the buffaloes, but that it was rubbed with clarified butter and milk whenever the irnörtiti ceremony (see Chap. XIII) was performed at the ti. [144]

1 The buffaloes may also move from one village to another if sickness should break out among them, but I do not know whether this would become the same ceremonial occasion as in the other kinds of migration. 

2 The vessels used for the purposes of these photographs were not the real vessels of the dairy, but those of the house. The method of fastening the earthenware vessels does not correspond to that described for the ti dairy, and I am doubtful whether the method of fastening for real dairy vessels would not have corresponded to the procedure of the ti rather than to that shown in the figures. 

3 This is probably only true of Teivali dairies. 

4 This is a special food used on important ceremonial occasions, the mode of preparation of which is given in Chapter XXIV

5 The vessel derives its name from this ceremony. 

6 Palm juice sugar. 

7 At Anto, and probably at some other dairies, there is a special tu for use on this occasion. 

8 This word was translated “he prays for the calves.” One verb is used in naming the ceremony of praying for the calves and another in the case of praying for the adult buffaloes. 

9 Probably this should be translated “may the river (when in flood) swallow him. 




Before a dairyman enters upon office he has to undergo certain initial rites, which may fitly be spoken of as “ordination ceremonies.” These ceremonies vary greatly in their elaborateness, according to the dairy in which the candidate is to serve.

In the case of the ordinary dairyman, or palikartmokh, the proceedings are simple and may be accomplished in a few minutes, while for the highest grade of the priesthood they are extremely elaborate and prolonged over more than a week.

The essential feature of all the ordination ceremonies is a process of purification by drinking and washing with the water of a stream or spring used for sacred purposes only (palinipa or kwoinir). In every case the water is drunk out of certain leaves, and the body is rubbed with water mixed with the juice of young shoots or bark.

A general name for ordination is pelkkodichiti or pelkkatthtiti, “lamp he lights.” This name is derived from the fact that the first act in connexion with the dairy work which a new dairyman has to perform is to light the lamp of the dairy. The former of the two names given above was used especially in the case of the ordinary dairy and the latter in the case of the ti, but I am doubtful whether there is any strict limitation of the terms in these senses.

Another general name used for the ceremony of ordination is niròditi, which in a more limited sense is applied to the drinking and purification at the dairy stream or spring which [145]is the essential feature of the ceremony. This term was very often used for the ceremony of ordination to the office of palol.


The Palikartmokh

The ceremony of ordination of the palikartmokh is called pelkkodichiti and very often muliniròditi, the latter being derived from the muli leaves used in the ceremony. The ordination may take place on Sunday, Wednesday, or Saturday. On the day before the ceremony the candidate goes to the dairy, takes his food there, and sleeps at night in the outer room. His food is prepared and given to him either by the outgoing palikartmokh or by some other man holding this office.

On the morning of the ceremony the candidate washes his hands in the pali nipa and goes to the front of the dairy, having a piece of the ordinary mantle round his waist. The assisting palikartmokh will have placed a small piece of the dark cloth called tuni on the threshold of the dairy, this small piece being called petuni. The candidate bows down (nersatiti), as in Fig. 20, at the threshold to the petuni, which he then raises to his forehead and puts in the string of his kuvn on the left side.

The candidate then plucks seven leaves of the kind called muliersi.e., leaves of a plant called muli (Rubus ellipticus). This plant is also often called pelkkodsthmul, after the ceremony in which it is used. He also plucks a handful of young shoots or nan of the same plant, and takes the leaves and shoots to the dairy stream. At the stream he pounds the shoots with water on a stone, takes up some water from the stream with the pounded shoots, drops this water into one of the leaves three times, raises the leaf to his forehead, drinks (see Fig. 34), throws the leaf over his head and puts the shoots down on one side. When he squeezes the water from the shoots into the leaf-cup he holds the former in his right hand and the latter in his left, but when about to raise the leaf-cup to his forehead and drink he transfers it to his right hand. The candidate then takes a fresh piece of the pounded shoots and repeats with a second leaf, and so on till the seven leaves are [146]finished, throwing the leaf over his head in each case after drinking.

He then takes all the pounded shoots which he has placed on one side, dips them in water, rubs them over his face and body three times, and puts them in his back hair, whence they are allowed to drop anywhere. In the only case in which I saw this ceremony I noticed that they remained in the hair till the end of the day.



The candidate then goes to the dairy, bows down at the threshold as in Fig. 20, and enters. If there are two rooms, he bows down in the same way at the threshold of the inner room. If there is a mani, he salutes it (kaimukhti) with hand to forehead. He next bows down to the patatmar and to the ertatmar, and finally touches a vessel of the ertatmar, usually the majpariv, and a vessel of the patatmar, the patat, and by doing this becomes a full palikartmokh. He proceeds to light the fire and the lamp and goes to milk the buffaloes. [147]

There are a few small points in which the ordination of a Teivali dairyman differs from that of the Tartharol. The Teivaliol use three pieces of the grass called kakar, with which the candidate sweeps the threshold of the dairy before bowing down and entering, the grass being left on the threshold. Among the Teivaliol also the place of the petuni may be taken by the special kind of cloth called twadrinar, which is manufactured by the Todas, and in the case in which I saw the ceremony, the candidate wore this instead of petuni. The Tartharol must use petuni.

In the only case in which I saw this ceremony the ordination was to a Teivali dairy and the candidate was completely naked except for the kuvn. The Tarthar tarpalikartmokh wears part of an ordinary mantle as a loincloth during his ordination. The ceremony is the same for the kudrpalikartmokh as for the tarvalikartmokh, except that the former is quite unclothed except for the kuvn and that he alone has a mani to salute.


The Wursol

The ceremony begins either on Tuesday or Friday and lasts two days. On the first day the candidate goes early in the morning to the ordinary dairy of the village at which he is to be wursol; at Kars he goes to the kudrpali. He receives food from the palikartmokh and eats it sitting on the seat (kwottün) outside the dairy. He stays near the dairy till the afternoon. When the palikartmokh has finished his afternoon work and has distributed butter and buttermilk, one of the men of the village comes to the candidate and says, “Niròd!” The candidate throws off his cloak and is given either a full tuni or a piece of this garment called petuni. The palikartmokh then stands in front of the door of his dairy, and the candidate stands opposite to him and asks three times “Tunivatkina?”—“Shall I put on the tuni?” The palikartmokh replies each time “Vat!”—“Put on!” Then the candidate raises the garment to his forehead and if he has been given a complete tuni he puts it on; if only a petuni he puts it in the string of his kuvn. This string is [148]ordinarily called pennar, but is now called kerk, and this part of the ceremony is called kerkatiti. The fact that this name is given seems to indicate that properly the complete garment should not be given till a later stage of the proceedings.

The candidate then finds seven leaves called muliers and seven shoots or nan of the same plant and goes through exactly the same ceremony at the stream as in the ordination of palikartmokh, putting the shoots in his back hair at the end. This part of the ceremony is called muliniròditi, and its object is to make the candidate a palikartmokh as a step towards becoming wursol. He is taken through the lower degree on his way to the higher.

After muliniròditi the candidate goes to the wall of the dairy and stands outside it. The palikartmokh brings a firebrand from the dairy and lights with it a fire of muli wood, at which the candidate warms himself. The firebrand must be one of the three following kinds—kid, pasòr or kiaz. After warming himself, the candidate goes to fetch bark of the tudr tree, which must not be cut, but knocked off with a stone. He also brings seven perfect tudr leaves, and goes again to the dairy stream. He pounds the bark on a stone and dips it in water, squeezes the water into one of the tudr leaves, drinks, throws over his head and puts the bark on one side exactly in the same way as before, but using tudr bark and leaves instead of the shoots and leaves of muli. After doing this seven times he dips the pounded bark in water, sprinkles his head and face three times, puts the bark in his hair, and, going a little way off, shakes his head.

The candidate then goes again to find bark and leaves of tudr, and repeats the whole ceremony and continues to repeat it till he has done it seven times—i.e., he drinks out of the tudr leaves seven times seven. After this he goes to the wood near the stream (at Kars, called Tarskars) and the palikartmokh comes to him there with the ertatpun filled with buttermilk, and with four leaves of the kind called kakuders. Two leaves are given to the candidate and two kept by the dairyman, and each folds the leaves in the usual way to make a cup (ersteiti). The dairyman then puts the ertatpun between his [149]thighs and, holding it there, depresses it so that he can pour buttermilk into his leaf-cup; from this he pours into the leaf-cup of the candidate who then drinks, and this is repeated till the latter is satisfied. The palikartmokh brings food and fire from the dairy and both stay in the wood for the night, being allowed to have companions. The place where they sleep is called tavarpali.

In the morning the candidate again goes for tudr bark and leaves, and carries out the whole ceremony seven times as on the previous evening. He then goes to the tavarpali and waits there till the palikartmokh has finished his morning work, when the candidate again receives buttermilk and food. Then both go out together to look after the buffaloes.

When they return in the afternoon the candidate goes to the dairy stream and bathes from head to foot. This bathing is called tudraspipini (tudr I have washed), its object being to wash off the tudr bark previously used. After this he takes a piece of the cloth called twadrinar and, using it as a girdle in addition to that he already wears, he goes to the wall of the dairy while the palikartmokh digs up a vessel called mu which is buried in the buffalo pen. (At Kars the mu which is used is that of the tarvali.) The palikartmokh then puts the mu on the ground and stands by it. The candidate asks three times, “Muvatkina?” “Shall I touch the mu?” and the palikartmokh replies each time “Muvat!” The candidate then touches the mu, and by doing so becomes a full wursol. The mu is reburied by the palikartmokh.

All the ceremonies so far have taken place at or near the ordinary dairy, either tarvali or kudrpali, or at the stream belonging to one or other of these dairies. The candidate now for the first time goes to the dairy in which he is to be wursol (the wursuli) and prostrates himself at the threshold. He next enters and prostrates himself to the patatmar and then to the ertatmar. He takes up and puts in its place one of the vessels of the ertatmar and then one of the vessels of the patatmar. He salutes the mani (kaimukhti), lights the fire and the lamp and prays, using the prayer of the village. He then cleans the vessels and goes to milk, doing mani terzantirikiti with the first milk as usual. [150]

I was especially told that if the candidate for the office of wursol wishes to scratch his head during his ordination ceremonies he must do so with a stick, but this is probably a feature of all ordination rites.

In the case of the wursol, it seemed that there is a difference in the ceremonial according to whether the dairy is occupied or not when the new dairyman enters upon office. The foregoing account applies to the case in which the dairy is already occupied and the new dairyman replaces another, so that there is no break in the continuity of the dairy proceedings. If the dairy should be unoccupied, I was told that the candidate would have to sleep for two nights in the wood, and there would almost certainly be additional purifications, but I did not learn the exact nature of the proceedings in this case.

Though I was only told of this difference of procedure in the case of the wursol, it is not unlikely that there is a corresponding difference of procedure in the case of other dairies when the dairy has been unoccupied. There will certainly be a ceremony of purification of the dairy, such as takes place when the buffaloes migrate to a new village, and probably the dairy vessels will also have to be purified.


The Kugvalikartmokh of Taradr and the Pohkartpol of Kanòdrs

The ordination ceremonies of these two dairymen appear to be almost identical. So far as I could ascertain, the feature which the kugvalikartmokh of Taradr and the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs have in common is that they serve institutions to which a high degree of sanctity is attached. The ritual of both dairies bears some resemblance to that of the ti and, as we have already seen, the regulations for the conduct of the pohkartpol are, in some respects, even more stringent than those of the palol.

The kugvalikartmokh is ordained either on Wednesday or Sunday, the pohkartpol on Tuesday. On the night preceding the ordination the candidate sleeps in the wood. Seven [151]leaves are used of the following kinds: pelkkodsthmul,1 puthimul, änmul, takmul, kadakmul, tòrimul, and pathanmul. One leaf of each kind is taken and the leaves pounded together and used in the same way as the shoots of muli or the bark of the tudr tree, water being dropped from them into leaves of puthimul. The pounded leaves are then placed in the back hair as usual. This is followed by the ceremony of drinking water three times out of a leaf containing water and some buffalo-dung. The bark of the tudr tree is then rubbed all over the body, though no tudr leaves are used for drinking. The candidate attains his full office by touching a mu, prostrates himself at his dairy, enters and begins his work as in the dairies of a lower grade.


The Kaltmokh

The ordination of the kaltmokh begins either on Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday. In the case of a kaltmokh of the Nòdrs ti, the first part of the ceremony takes place at the village of Nòdrs, while in some cases it seems that the candidate may go to the same village of Òdr which is visited by the palol during his ordination. I have no information about the place of ordination in the case of the other ti dairies.

A boy who is to become kaltmokh of the Nòdrs ti goes to Nòdrs either on Sunday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and, going to the ordinary dairy of that place (tarvali), he is given water by the palikartmokh in the vessel called pòlmachok. The boy washes his hands with this water and puts on a tuni which the palikartmokh gives him, after saying the same formula as in the ordination of wursol. He then does muliniròditi and so reaches the grade of palikartmokh. This and the following ceremony are done at a special stream at Nòdrs called niròdigudr. The purification ceremony is then performed with tudr bark and leaves till the candidate has drunk seven times seven. Food and buttermilk are given by the palikartmokh, and then the boy together with the [152]palikartmokh and the wursol of Nòdrs pass the night in the wood near that place.

The next morning the candidate goes to the ordination stream and washes himself from head to foot. This is called tudraspipini, its object being the same as in the ordination of the wursol. The boy next goes to the front of the tarvali, where the palikartmokh gives him a special string made of twadrinar, which he puts round his waist as kerk, and then warms himself at a fire of muli wood. The palikartmokh brings a mu, which the candidate touches with the same formalities as in the ordination of wursol, and by so doing reaches the grade called perkursol, which is of the same rank as that of wursol. The perkursol then takes the mu into the tarvali, prostrating himself at the threshold before entering. He prostrates himself to the patatmar and to the ertatmar, puts the mu on the patatmar and comes out. He then goes to the poh, or conical dairy of Nòdrs, prostrates himself at the threshold, enters, and prostrates himself before patatmar, ertatmar and, finally, before the mani. Up to the point of saluting the bell in this way he keeps on the tuni but at this stage he throws it down and comes out of the dairy naked (except for the kuvn), puts on the ordinary cloak and goes to the dairy at which the ti buffaloes are standing.

When he reaches the ti mad, the candidate goes to the palol, whom he salutes with the words “îr kar ûdâ,” this salutation being called pîrwadrikpini. He goes to the sleeping hut, prostrates himself before the horns which are kept in this building, and then goes to the front of the dairy. He is now perkursol, and in order that he shall become full kaltmokh or tunitusthkaltmokh, the palol gives him a piece of tuni (petuni). The boy asks three times, “Tunitusthvaskina?”—“Shall I go to wash the tuni?”—to which the palol answers each time “Tusthva!”—“Wash, go!” The boy takes the petuni to the stream for ordinary use (not the kwoinir) and bathes from head to foot. He puts to himself three times the question, “tunitoikina?” and laying the piece of tuni on a stone, he pours water on it three times and returns with the petuni in his hand to the palol who will be sitting on his [153]pohvelkars in front of the dairy. The palol asks three times, “Tunitusthpacha?”—“Have you returned from washing the tuni?”—and each time the boy replies, “tunitusthpuspini”—“I have come from washing the tuni.” Then both palol and boy go to the front of the kadr in which the calves are kept and the palol puts into the gate three bars (tasth), which shut the opening of the enclosure. The boy asks three times, “Tasthvatkina?”—“Shall I touch the tasth?”—and each time the palol replies “Tasthvat!” The boy, who hitherto has been perkursol, now touches the tasth, and by so doing attains the full rank of kaltmokh, and at once goes and pours buttermilk (kaizhvatiti) for the palol.

The latter parts of the ordination ceremonies of the kaltmokh, from the point at which he receives petuni from the palol to the touching of the tasth, are always performed whenever the kaltmokh returns to the ti after a journey in which it has been necessary to degrade himself to the rank of perkursol (see p. 106). The initial stages of becoming a kaltmokh are known in general as niròdibudnudr.


The Ordination of the Palol

In accordance with the fact that the palol belongs to the highest and most sacred grade of the dairy-priesthood, we find that the ceremonies preceding his entrance upon office are far more elaborate and prolonged than for the minor grades.

In order that a Teivali man may become a candidate for the office of palol he must first have gone through a preliminary qualifying ceremony called tesherst. When the office of palol becomes vacant, the people of the clan to which the ti belongs are restricted in their choice to those men who have been through this ceremony. When one of these qualified men has been selected, he then goes through the proper ordination ceremonies, known as niròditi.

In the case of a palol of the Nòdrs ti, the niròditi ceremonies are performed partly at Nòdrs, partly at Òdr, one of the most sacred villages of the Nòdrs clan, and finally at the ti mad where he is to hold office. [154]


The Tesherst Ceremony

This qualifying ceremony for the office of palol is always performed by a number of men at the same time. The number taking part must be three, five, seven or nine. There seemed to be no doubt that it was not permissible for four, six or eight men to perform the ceremony together. One or two Todas told me that an even number of men might do the ceremony, but all the more trustworthy witnesses were agreed that there must be an uneven number, and on all the occasions of which I could obtain records of actual ceremonies, an uneven number of men had done tesherst together. The ceremony may not be performed while the funeral ceremonies of any Teivali person are uncompleted.

At the time of my visit there were only nine or ten men who had been through the tesherst ceremony, including those who were holding or had held the office of palol. It was proposed that a number of the younger men should perform the ceremony about this time, but it had to be delayed till the second funeral ceremonies of two Teivali women had been held.

The tesherst ceremony always begins on a Monday after the new moon. It takes place at certain villages where people are living, and in all the cases of which I obtained records it had been done at Kudrnakhum, belonging to the Nòdrsol, or at Pushtar, belonging to the Taradrol. People must be living at the village at the time the ceremony is performed.

The candidates go to the village on Monday evening, accompanied by two or three Nòdrs men. All go to a stream by a wood and the ceremony begins after sunset, when all the candidates throw off their cloaks and stand in a row. A man of the Nòdrs clan has a tuni in his hand and each candidate asks three times, “Tunivatkina?”—“Shall I touch the tuni?”—and each time the Nòdrs man replies, “Tunivat!” The first man in the row touches the tuni and then the others in order. The Nòdrs man then gives the tuni to the first man who touched it, and he tears it into as many pieces [155]as there are candidates, giving a piece to each man, who puts it in the string of his kuvn. All then go in search of the leaves of muli and each plucks seven leaves and seven shoots. They go to the stream, one by one, and each drinks and rubs himself with the shoots seven times, as in the ordination ceremony, and puts the shoots in his back hair.

While they are doing this, the Nòdrs man will have made fire by friction, using the wood of muli, and the men warm themselves at the fire. Each man then goes in search of seven tudr leaves and tudr bark and carries out the usual purification ceremony once only, drinking out of each of the seven leaves, after which the men take food prepared by another of the Nòdrs men, and all pass the night in the wood. Next morning the men fetch tudr bark and leaves and repeat the drinking and rubbing ceremony of the previous evening, but on this occasion each man says “Teshniròdinem,” as he throws the leaf over his head after drinking. All then bathe completely in the stream.

While they are doing this, the Nòdrs men have been cooking a large amount of food, more than the candidates can readily eat, and an old woman of the Tartharol who is to take part in the ceremony has bathed and dressed in her best clothes and put on all the ornaments she can procure: gold earrings, necklace, bracelets, and rings. When the men have bathed, they wait till the message comes that the food is ready, and then each man takes off his piece of tuni and his pennar and his kuvn, so that he is completely naked. The Nòdrs man portions out the food and puts it on tudr leaves, the portion for each man being more than he can possibly eat at one sitting, and the portions of food are given to the old woman, who sits down with her back to the men. Each man goes up behind the back of the old woman, and she gives him his portion of food by putting her hand behind her back so that she does not look at him, and in doing so she says three times “Teshtòrtudenk?”—“Tesh food have I not given?” The men take the food, go into the thickest part of the wood and eat it. None of the food prepared on this occasion may be eaten by the Nòdrs men or by the old woman, but though the amount is excessive, the whole of it must be eaten by the [156]candidates during the day. After each man has eaten to the full he may put on his cloak. The Nòdrs men and the old woman go back to their villages and they must hold no communication of any kind with the candidates after the food has been given. The men remain in the wood all day, and when it is getting dark they go to the nearest village at which any of them live, taking care that no one sees them on the way.

One of the most remarkable features of this ceremony is the part taken by the old woman. She must be one of the Tartharol; she must be past the age of child-bearing, and she must never have had intercourse with one of her own clan. In the last particular the word of the woman is trusted, for it was said that she would never deceive in such a matter. Every woman believed that if she did not speak the truth she would die, and all those concerned in the ceremony would either die or have serious illness. I was told that it was by no means easy to find a woman who fulfilled this requirement, and in each of the cases of which I have records the same woman officiated—viz. Naspilthi of Taradr (21).

Other remarkable features of this ceremony are that the men should be given more food than they are readily able to eat, as in the ceremony connected with the kaltmokh after the migration (p. 139), and that they receive this food in a condition of complete nudity, a condition which only occurs in one other dairy ceremonial.

The tesherst ceremony is one in which candidates for the office of palol go through certain of the rites which ordinarily form part of the process of ordination, with the addition of special ceremonies, in which a superabundant portion of food is given by a woman who fulfils certain peculiar conditions.

When the office of palol becomes vacant, the clan to which the ti belongs chooses from among those who have been through the tesherst ceremony, and the chosen man has then to undergo the ordination ceremonies proper, or niròditi. [157]


The Niroditi Ceremony

The ceremony begins on a Saturday evening, after the new moon, when the chosen candidate goes to a village of the clan to which his future ti belongs and sleeps there in the ordinary hut.

On the following morning he goes before daybreak to the front of the dairy of the village, naked except for his kuvn, and a man of the village stands at the door of the dairy holding a tuni in his hand, and says three times, “Tunivatkia!”—“Touch the tuni!” The candidate answers, “Tunivatkin,” and takes the tuni. If the garment is a complete one, he puts it on; if only a piece, he puts it in his pennar and taking seven tudr leaves and tudr bark he goes to the stream of the dairy and performs the usual drinking and rubbing ceremony, and after putting the tudr bark in his hair, goes a little way off and shakes his head so that the bark falls out. He repeats the ceremony twice, so that it is performed three times altogether—i.e., he drinks from the tudr leaves three times seven. This ceremony is called teshnir, and is done in view of the inhabitants of the village. The candidate stays for the rest of the day at the village. If there is a wursol there, the food of the candidate is prepared by this dairyman2; if no wursol is present, it is prepared by the palikartmokh. The food is grain boiled in milk, and is only eaten in the evening. The candidate sleeps that night in a wood near the village, but not the same wood as that by the stream where teshnir had been done. Either the wursol or the palikartmokh must pass the night in the wood with the candidate, and other men of the village may also be their companions. Until the candidate lies down to sleep he must remain naked (except for the kuvn), but when sleeping he may cover himself with his ordinary cloak.

Next morning (Monday) the candidate gets up at sunrise, [158]lays aside his cloak, and goes to bathe completely in the stream, saying three times, “Tudraspinem,”3—“Tudr I have washed,” thus washing off the tudr of the previous day. He then returns to the place where he had slept, puts on his ordinary cloak with the right arm out, and goes to the front of the dairy. He is given food by the wursol, or, in his absence, by the palikartmokh, and eats it outside the dairy, after which he washes. He then goes to the ordinary stream of the village (ars nipa) and takes up water with his hand, and by so doing he becomes peroli.e., he loses any sanctity he has acquired by the ceremony of the previous day.

The candidate then goes direct to the village of Òdr and stays near that village till the evening, when he makes his way to the front of the dairy of that place. He stands about ten yards from the dairy and throws off his cloak. A man of the clan to which his future ti belongs now gives him a complete tuni of the kind worn in the village dairy (a mad tuni, not a ti tuni), saying three times, “Tunivatkia,” to which is replied “Tunivatkin.” The man who gives the tuni now remains as assistant and companion till the candidate reaches his future dairy. The candidate puts the tuni round his loins, goes to the stream of the dairy, and performs the drinking and rubbing ceremony with muli leaves and shoots as in the ordination of palikartmokh. The assistant makes fire by friction and lights a fire of muli wood, at which the candidate warms himself.

The drinking ceremony with tudr is then carried out in the same way as at teshnir, and then the wursol of Òdr brings buttermilk in an ertatpun and gives it in cups of kakud leaves to both the candidate and his assistant. They also receive food from the wursol, while any other men present go to the ordinary hut for their meal. That night is passed at a special spot under a tree not far from the dairy at Òdr, the wursol and assistant being the companions of the candidate. On that night the candidate may not [159]touch his ordinary cloak and has to be content with the scanty covering of the tuni.4

On the next day (Tuesday), the ceremony with tudr leaves and bark is repeated three times as on the previous days, and after the wursol has finished his dairy work he gives buttermilk and food to both the candidate and his assistant. On the afternoon of this day the tudr ceremony is performed again, but on this occasion seven times, so that the candidate drinks from the tudr leaves seven times seven. In the evening buttermilk and food are again given by the wursol and the three men pass the night in the wood.

On the next day (Wednesday) the candidate fetches bark of the tree from which the material called twadrinar is made and makes for his temporary use a rough kuvn. When it is ready, he bathes in the dairy stream, takes off the old pennar and kuvn and puts on the newly made garment, together with the tuni, and goes with the wursol to the dairy where the buffaloes of his ti are standing. When they approach the ti mad the wursol goes away and leaves the candidate to go to the dairy alone, where he sits on the outskirts (pül) of the ti mad. When the kaltmokh sees the candidate approaching, he collects the buffaloes at the milking place (pepkarmus) and catches hold of the tails of certain buffaloes which are to be taken in charge by the new palol, saying to himself three times for each buffalo, “Tover vatkina?”—“Tail shall I hold?”—and replying to himself each time, “Vat!” At the Nòdrs ti if the candidate is to be palol of the tiir, the kaltmokh holds the tails of three buffaloes, one of each kind; if he is to be palol of the warsir, two buffaloes only take part (see p. 112). After this the kaltmokh prepares food in the pül of the dairy and gives it to the palol designate. While the kaltmokh is attending to the new palol he must become a perkursoli.e., he degrades himself to this rank before undertaking these duties. During the night the candidate together with the kaltmokh and the other palol already in office [160](if there are two, as at the Nòdrs ti) sleep in the hut of the ti mad.

The next day (Thursday) the new palol goes to the stream and performs the tudr ceremony three times in the morning and nine times in the afternoon; i.e., he drinks from the tudr leaves three and nine times seven. On this day the kaltmokh milks the punir, takes the milk to the pül, churns there and gives buttermilk, butter and other food to the new palol. On that night all sleep in the karenpoh or calf-house.

The proceedings of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the same as those of Thursday, except that the new palol may now drink the milk of the punir like the full palol.

On Monday morning the new palol enters on his office. In the morning he bathes and then takes off the temporary pennar and kuvn he has been wearing and replaces them by others made in the same way. A Badaga (the tikelfmav) then brings one of the two cloaks of the palol, that called pòdrshtuni, and lays it down at the outskirts of the dairy. It is taken up by the kaltmokh and given to the new palol, who spreads it out on the place where the buffaloes are milked. He then takes pounded tudr bark, says the kwarzam of the gods, of the ti and of the buffaloes (see Chap. X) and throws the pounded bark on the garment. He turns the garment over so as to expose the other surface and purifies this in the same way. He then asks himself, “Pòdrshtuni tutkina?”—“Shall I tie the pòdrshtuni?”—and throwing off the mad tuni he has been wearing hitherto, he puts on the pòdrshtuni. The kaltmokh returns the mad tuni to the Nòdrs people, who come on this day and stand on the outskirts of the place.

The new palol then purifies his dairy by sprinkling it with water and tudr bark in the same way as is done when going to a new dairy (see p. 136). He next takes the uppun, puts into it water and tudr bark, and turning towards the Nòdrs people with the vessel to his forehead, says three times to them, “Poh pûkhkina?”—“Shall I enter the dairy?” All the Nòdrs people cry “Pûkh!” and the new palol enters his dairy with the full rights of his position.

At some period before entering into office as full palol [161]the candidate touches a tasth or bar of the entrance into the tu. This ceremony is similar to that performed by the kaltmokh, and as in this case it seemed to be the special indication of entrance on full office, but unfortunately my notes do not make it clear exactly when this touching of the tasth is done nor with what ceremonial it is accomplished.

For a month from this day there will be what is called pon, nothing being either sold or given from the dairy. At the end of the month, on a Monday, a tuni of the kind called kubuntuni is brought by the tikelfmav, and is put on in the usual way. (During the previous month the pòdrshtuni will have been used both as a cloak and as a loincloth, and will have been taken into the sleeping hut.) The palol is visited by the dairymen of his rank from the other ti dairies, and there will be many visitors from all the Todas, who come and sit in the pül of the dairy and feast. The new palol also receives greetings on this day from the Todas for the first time since his entry upon office. He greets the Tartharol first, saying “Bañ” in the usual way, and then the Teivaliol, saying “Pekein,” and each reply in the customary manner.

The ordination ceremonies of the palol are thus very prolonged. There is a preliminary qualifying ceremony in which the would-be candidates receive pieces of tuni, perform both the muli and the tudr purificatory ceremonies, each once only, and on the following day go through the very peculiar ceremonial in which they are given superabundant food by an old woman while in a condition of complete nudity.

The proper ordination ceremonies begin on a Sunday, when the candidate receives tuni, performs the purificatory ceremony with tudr three times seven, and sleeps in a wood. On Monday he washes off the tudr, becomes a perol, and goes to the village of Òdr, where he again receives tuni, goes through the muliniròditi ceremony which makes him a palikartmokh, and then performs the tudr ceremony three times seven and sleeps in the open, covered only with the tuni. On Tuesday he performs the tudr purification three times seven in the morning and seven times seven in the evening and again sleeps in the open. On Wednesday he bathes and assumes a special kuvn and goes to his future dairy, where the kaltmokh [162]performs the tail-holding ceremony and the candidate sleeps in the hut. On the four next days the tudr ceremony is performed three times seven in the mornings and nine times seven in the afternoons, and the calf-house is used as a sleeping-place. On the following Monday the palol enters upon office, assuming the pòdrshtuni, touching a tasth, and entering his dairy.

The foregoing description of the ordination of the palol applies primarily to the Nòdrs ti, but in its main details it holds good for other places.

I am doubtful as to the part taken by the village of Òdr, and am not clear whether part of the ordination ceremony is performed at this place by every palol or only by those of the Nòdrs ti. It is possible that it is only the latter who visit the village, but I do not know of any corresponding village visited by the candidates for the post of palol at other ti dairies. My impression is that every candidate for the office of palol visits this village.

The only definite modification of the ceremonies attendant on entrance into office of which I know occurs at the Kars ti. Here the palol is first ordained to the parsiri.e., he becomes the palol of this herd of buffaloes and tends them only. At the end of a month he becomes palol of the pürsir, and the ceremony of entrance upon this office was spoken of as pelkkatthtiti to the pürspoh. In this case the ceremony of ordination to the parspoh is called niròditi, and that of removal to another dairy pelkkatthtiti.

On the afternoon of the appointed day the palol churns the milk of the morning in the parspoh and then shuts the door of this dairy, which he never re-enters as long as he is in office. He could only do so if he should cease to be palol and be re-ordained to the same ti.

A new pòdrshtuni is brought by a Badaga and is assumed by the palol after purification in the usual manner. At the same time he puts on a new kagurs,5 which has been purified by the kaltmokh, who has also cut a new kwoinörtpet on the hill of Kulinkars which the palol then purifies with tudr bark in the usual manner, saying the names of the four deities, Anto, Nòtirzi, Kulinkars, and Kuzkarv. [163]

The palol then digs up earth from the footprints of one of the pürsir, saying the whole prayer of the ti as he does so. He drives the buffalo slightly to one side by touching it with the wand, and takes earth from the exact place where the foot of the buffalo had been resting and puts the earth into a cup which he has made of tudr leaves. He adds pounded tudr bark and goes to the spring (kwoinir) of the dairy, where he mixes water with the earth and bark. He then goes to the stone called pepkusthkars, where he has previously laid a complete set of new dairy vessels and implements of the inner room, together with the lamp and the bell (Ner) of the pürspoh. The bell is laid on the stone, the other things by its side.

Wearing the pòdrshtuni and holding the kwoinörtpet under his left arm, the palol sprinkles the contents of the leaf-cup over the dairy vessels and other objects, beginning with the bell, and as he does so he prays, using the whole prayer of the dairy. He then ties all the vessels and other contents of the dairy on a staff called pepkati in exactly the same manner as when taking them from one ti mad to another. The bell is tied up in a leafy covering of kiaz and everything is done as in the migration from one place to another, and the staff with its burden is then borne by the palol from the pepkusthkars to the stone called perskars, by the side of which the dairy vessels are laid, while the mani is uncovered and laid on the stone. The staff is then placed at the back of the dairy.

Having untied the dairy vessels and arranged them by the stone, the palol pounds fresh tudr bark, and with the kwoinörtpet under his left arm goes with the karitòrzum to the sacred spring, into which he throws the bark, takes water, and returns. Taking more pounded bark, he puts it in the idrkwoi and pours water into this vessel from the karitòrzum. He takes the idrkwoi with its contents to the front of the dairy, and with his right hand sprinkles the water over the outside of the dairy and then into its interior till the vessel is emptied. The dairy vessels are not again purified, but are taken into the dairy with the same procedure as that described in the last chapter. The vessels of the outer room, which have been purified by the kaltmokh, are then taken to their places. Fire is made by friction; one fireplace is lighted [164]and fire transferred to the other, and from this the lamp is lighted, and the palol, who is now palol of the pürsir, goes out to look after and milk his new charges. On this evening no food is taken, nor does the palol drink buttermilk as usual, and the kaltmokh does not blow the horn in the evening. On the following day, which is the occasion of a feast for all Todas, the usual routine is followed.

The most interesting feature of this ceremony at the Kars ti is that the vessels of the inner room are taken by the palol from the pepkusthkars to the perskars, a distance said to be about fifty yards, in exactly the same manner as that in which they are carried from one dairy to another during the migrations when the distance may be many miles.

The essential feature of the various ordination ceremonies is purification by drinking water from certain leaves and rubbing the body with the juice of certain plants or the bark of a tree mixed with water from a dairy stream or spring. The ordinary dairyman uses the leaves and shoots of muli; the dairymen of the Taradr kugvali and the Kanòdrs poh use seven kinds of leaves and rub themselves with tudr bark, while the three grades of dairyman open only to Teivali or Melgars people not only rub with the juice of tudr bark, but use tudr leaves for the purificatory drinking.

The palikartmokh drinks and rubs himself seven times only, the wursol and kaltmokh seven times seven, while at various stages in his ordination the palol uses tudr bark three times seven, seven times seven, and nine times seven.

The final stage of ordination or induction is marked by touching some sacred object of the dairy. The ordinary dairyman touches one or more of the sacred vessels of the dairy; the wursol, kugvalikartmokh, and the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs touch the mu, a dairy vessel buried in the buffalo pen, which is dug up for the ordination ceremony. The kaltmokh and the palol touch a tasth, the former touching a bar of the calf enclosure and the latter one in the opening of the pen used for adult buffaloes.

According to one account, the Teivali palikartmokh also touches a mu on entrance into office, but it is very doubtful if [165]this is correct. Nothing was said about it at the ordination at which I was present, and I saw nothing to indicate that this vessel was being used, but it is possible that the mu had been dug up earlier in the day and put inside the dairy.

Another interesting feature of the ordination ceremonies is that a dairyman of a higher grade may be taken through the lower stages on his way to the higher office. Thus both wursol and palol perform the purificatory ceremony with muli, which is the chief feature of the ordination of the palikartmokh. There did not seem to be any stage in the ordination of the palol when he could be said to be a wursol, though the ceremonies of Monday evening and Tuesday are very much like those of the wursol, the chief difference being in the exact number of times that the tudr purification is performed. [166]

1 This is the ordinary muli used in the ordination of the palikartmokh

2 This is inconsistent with the statement made on p. 73 that the wursol never prepares food except at the irpalvusthi ceremony. It is possible that the food is only given to the candidate by the wursol and is not prepared by him. 

3 This has not the same form as the word uttered by the wursol and kaltmokh in the corresponding ceremony. In some cases different verbal forms are used at the ti, and this may be an instance. 

4 It has been stated by Harkness, Marshall and others that when the palol is entering on his office he has to sleep in the wood completely naked. This is not strictly correct, though the covering afforded by the tuni is so meagre that the statement is almost justified. 

5 The ti name of the kuvn




I have so far dealt with the organisation and ritual of the dairy, with the ceremonies accompanying the movements of the buffaloes from one place to another, and with the ceremonies attendant on the entrance of the dairymen into office. There remain ceremonies which accompany certain events in the course of the dairy ritual or in the lives of the buffaloes. One of these, the pepkaricha ceremony, is performed whenever any evil befalls a certain dairy vessel which is buried in the buffalo pen. Another ceremony celebrates the birth of a calf, and a group of ceremonies are connected with the act of giving salt to the buffaloes.


The Pepkaricha Ceremony

In the account of the daily work of the dairy, it will be remembered that whenever the dairyman goes out to milk for the first time he puts some buttermilk into his milking vessel. This is done in every dairy, and the buttermilk so added is called pep. The milk of every day has mixed with it some of the buttermilk from the milking of the day before, and in this way continuity is kept up in the dairy operations. Under certain conditions this continuity is broken and new pep has to be made, and the process of doing so is the ceremony called pepkaricha, pepkarichti, or pepkarichanudri.e., “pep he purifies,” or, “if pep is purified.”

In some cases new pep has to be made for the whole clan [167](madol); in other cases it has only to be made for one of the dairies of the clan.

The ceremony is performed for the whole clan whenever anything goes wrong with a certain dairy vessel called mu, which is buried in the buffalo pen at the chief village of the clan. We have seen that this vessel is used in the ordination to certain dairy offices, and it is also inspected as a matter of routine about once a year. If it is broken or has been stolen or tampered with in any way, it becomes necessary to make new pep for the whole clan.

Among the Tartharol, new pep has also to be made after the funeral of a male on account of the defilement of the mani involved in its exposure to the ordinary people at the funeral ceremonies.

The conditions which necessitate the making of new pep for a single dairy are, (1) if a Tamil or other “foreigner” has entered the dairy, (2) if an ordinary Toda (perol) has gone into the dairy at night, (3) if the dairyman has used tobacco. In these cases the people of the village at which the offence has been committed procure a new mu, and, after purifying it, go to some other dairy of the clan, where they procure some buttermilk to act as pep and take it to their own dairy. It is only when new pep has to be made for the whole clan that the prolonged ceremony of pepkarichti has to be carried out. This ceremony differs in its details for each clan, and is more complicated in some cases than in others. As an example, I will give the proceedings for the Kuudr clan.

When it becomes necessary to make new pep for the whole group of dairies belonging to the clan it is necessary to take the buffaloes to one special dairy. The Kuudr people go to the dairy of Kwirg near Sholur. On the day of going to Kwirg, a feast is held at which the food called ashkkartpimi is eaten.

Whenever new pep is made it is necessary to have a new palikartmokh, and the man who is to undertake the duties goes to Kwirg with the milking buffaloes of the pasthir and is accompanied by a number of Kuudr men. The men take with them a new and complete set of dairy vessels, and reach Kwirg in the early morning of a Sunday after the new moon. [168]The buffaloes are at once penned in the tu. The first business is the ordination of the new palikartmokh, which is carried out as usual. When at the stream for the purification ceremony, the palikartmokh has with him a new mu, which he fills with water at the stream. He takes this vessel to the tu in which the buffaloes are penned, and knocks one of the buffaloes on the back with his wand (pet), so that it moves to one side. Then with the wand he digs some earth from the spot where the hoof of the buffalo had been resting, and mixes this earth with tudr bark. He places part of the mixed earth and bark in the mu and puts the rest on one side; this part of the ceremony is called mukatchkudrspini, or purification of the mu, literally “mu purification I have purified.”

The palikartmokh then brings all the other dairy vessels and implements, beginning with the patat, and purifies them by throwing on them mixed earth and tudr bark, sprinkling them with water from the mu three times, saying “ each time. The things of the patatmar are purified first and then the things of the ertatmar, and the purified objects are placed in the dairy. Fire is made by friction and the palikartmokh goes out to milk. Buttermilk is not put into the milking-vessel as usual, and the lamp is not lighted. The milk is poured into the patat, and the palikartmokh then prepares food, which he gives to the people who have come with him, but he himself fasts. All the men then go away except one or two, who are to remain as companions of the dairyman. In the evening the palikartmokh takes off some of the cream,1 which has risen to the top of the milk, and puts it into the lamp which he lights, and then prays, using the kwarzam of Kwirg2 and the kwarzam of the pep only.

If the milk has coagulated it is now churned, and then the buffaloes are milked as usual, but if the milk has not coagulated, it is left till next morning. In the evening the dairyman takes food as usual.

On the following day, it seems that the milk has always [169]become solid and is churned. Immediately after churning and without taking food, the dairyman puts together the dairy things according to the usual method followed when going from one village to another, and goes with his buffaloes to the village of Kiudr. The dairy vessels are carried in the usual manner, the new buttermilk called puthpep being in the patat and the butter in the mu.

The people living at Kiudr leave the village, and the man who has been filling the office of palikartmokh there throws away all the old dairy things and takes the mani to the stones by the side of that dairy called neurzülnkars (see p. 129). After leaving the bells there for a little time, the dairyman takes them to the pali nipa, and then his office ceases and he becomes perol.

The new palikartmokh, who has come from Kwirg, purifies the dairy and his new dairy vessels and the mani in exactly the same way as when reaching a new dairy, and then places the bells, vessels, and other objects in the dairy. During the next month, till the following new moon, the dairyman and his companions stay alone at Kiudr doing the ordinary business of the dairy. During this time they may be visited by men of the Kuudr clan, but neither by women nor by men of other clans. At the end of the month, on the Sunday after the new moon, the palikartmokh drives the buffaloes (now called ponir, festival buffaloes) to Kuudr, taking with him the puthpep and the dairy vessels. When the people at Kuudr see the dairyman coming with the ponir, they leave the village and all go to Kiudr, which the buffaloes have just left. There they hold a feast to which many people of other clans, both men and women, are invited.

When the palikartmokh reaches Kuudr, he purifies the dairy as he had done at Kiudr and puts the vessels in their places.

Certain men of the clan then come, each with a new mu, and these vessels are laid by the side of the stones called keinkars and tashtikars in the wall of the pen. At Kuudr fifteen new mu should be brought by the fifteen heads of families of the Kuudr clan. The palikartmokh then purifies each mu with tudr bark in the usual way and places the [170]vessels on the patatmar of the dairy, after which he gives food to those who have provided the vessels.

The palikartmokh with his companion or companions then stay at Kuudr for a month, when, again on a Sunday after the new moon, all the Kuudrol assemble at Kuudr and hold a feast. On that day a new palikartmokh is appointed for each dairy of the Kuudr clan. Each man goes through the usual ordination ceremony and then receives one of the new mu containing some of the new pep, which he takes to his dairy. Each new dairyman also provides new dairy vessels, and, when he reaches his dairy, purifies the mu and the new dairy things in the way already described. He puts the vessels into the dairy and then goes to milk, taking some of the new pep in his milking-vessel, and thereafter matters go on as usual. Each new dairyman fasts while going to his dairy with the new pep, although the rest of the people are feasting.

Those who remain at Kuudr bury the mu in which the pep was brought from Kwirg. It is buried by the side of the pen, under a tree called teikhkwadiki.

The ceremony of making new pep is carried out on the same lines in all dairies, but usually it is less complicated and fewer villages have to be visited than in the case of the Kuudrol. It seems that there is a tendency in some clans to perform the ceremony less rigidly than of old. Thus, the Kars people used to go to Keshker for new pep, but now they perform the ceremony at Kars itself, so that the migration to a new place with its attendant ceremonial is avoided.

There are certain differences in the procedure in the case of Teivali and Tarthar clans. One, the necessity for new pep after the funeral of a male, has been already mentioned.

Another difference is that there is a buried mu for each kind of dairy, so that a clan which has two or three kinds of dairy will have two or three mu buried in the pen. If it is the mu belonging to the wursuli which is broken or tampered with, the ceremony is performed by the wursol, who takes earth from the footprints of one of the wursulir. If the mu of the kudrpali is injured, the kudrpalikartmokh performs the ceremony, taking earth from the footprints of one of the other [171]kinds of sacred buffaloes. Thus at Kars he takes it from the prints of the martir.

At Kanòdrs new pep has to be made at a place called Kautarmad, which I could not identify. It is a long way from Kanòdrs, but the people have to go there because the god Kwoto used to make pep there. There is one feature peculiar to the ceremony for this clan. Earth has to be taken from a certain spot from which it was taken by Kwoto, and this earth is mixed with that taken from the footprints of the buffalo.

Another special feature of the Kanòdrs dairy is connected with the buried mu and is probably the result of the fact that this dairy is now only occupied occasionally. When the pohkartpol leaves the dairy on vacating office, he takes up the buried mu, pours into it a small quantity of pep, and reburies the vessel, covering it on the top with a stone. When he resumes office, he takes up the mu and purifies it with the two kinds of earth used in the full ceremony, and puts the pep which has been buried into his milking-vessel when he goes out to milk for the first time. As in other Tarthar clans, the full ceremony of pepkaricha is only carried out when the mu is broken or stolen, and after the funeral of a male.

A characteristic feature of Toda dairy procedure is the coagulation of the milk before it is churned. This coagulation occurs in a few hours without the addition of rennet or other special coagulating agent, the milk drawn in the morning being nearly always solid at the time of the afternoon churning. This rapid coagulation of the milk is almost certainly assisted By the added buttermilk or pep, the curdling being probably an acid coagulation set up or hastened by the addition of the sour buttermilk. If this were the case, it might be expected that habitual failure of the milk to coagulate might be regarded as a reason for making new pep, and I therefore inquired carefully into this point. It was quite clear, however, that delay in the coagulation was not looked upon as a reason for the ceremony. If there was habitual delay, it was customary to consult the diviners, and they always gave one of two reasons for the delay: either that it was due to the action of a sorcerer, or that the dairyman had committed one [172]of the offences against the dairy of which a list is given on p. 295.

If delay were said to be due to the first cause, the sorcerer would be invited to the village, entertained with food, and induced to remove his spell; if to the second cause, the dairyman would have to perform the irnörtiti or similar ceremony; but there was never any question of making new pep, the necessity for this ceremony being entirely dependent on the condition of the buried dairy vessel.


The Irpalvusthi Ceremony

The ceremony of irpalvusthi (buffalo milk he milks) is performed about the fifteenth day after the birth of a calf. It only takes place when one of the sacred buffaloes has calved, and is not performed in ordinary villages for putiir, nor at the ti for punir. It is performed after the birth of both male and female calves. The ceremony is carried out in the same fashion at the wursuli, the kudrpali and the tarvali, but has different features at the kugvali of Taradr and at the ti.

There are special days for the ceremony. At the tarvali, it must be performed on Sunday, Wednesday, or Saturday; at the kudrpali and wursuli, on Sunday or Wednesday; at the kugvali on Saturday. The ceremony is performed at the ti, but I omitted to obtain any account of the proceedings at this grade of dairy.

When this ceremony is held at the village of Kuudr, a man from Òdr belonging to the Nodrsol must attend, and similarly a man from Kuudr must be present when the ceremony is performed at Kuudr, this regulation being the result of certain events in the histories of the buffaloes of these places (see p. 647).

At each of the three kinds of dairy which follow the same procedure, the chief part is taken by the dairyman. At the wursuli, the wursol officiates, and at the kudrpali and tarvali, the palikartmokh.

The first appropriate occasion after the fifteenth day from the birth of the calf is appointed and the dairy is purified with [173]dried buffalo-dung. Contrary to the general rule, the lamp is lighted on the morning of this day. All the buffaloes are milked as usual; one or two pun of milk being poured into the patat and all the rest into the ertat.

The dairyman then puts some milk into the milking-vessel, and, carrying his wand, he leads the fifteen-day-old calf to its mother to be suckled. While the calf is being suckled, the dairyman strikes the mother on the right side of the back three times with the wand, saying “” each time. He then puts the wand on the top of the milking-vessel and, holding both in his left hand, milks the buffalo once or twice with the other hand, so that the milk splashes on the wand as it falls into the vessel. The vessel and wand are then laid at the back of the dairy, which the dairyman enters to prepare food, boiling grain or rice with milk in a special vessel (ertat) kept for the purpose. While the food is being cooked the dairyman takes some of the grass called kakar and the plant called kabudri, and sweeps the interior of the dairy with them, beginning at the patatmar. While doing this and during his other operations on this day, he must not turn his back to the contents of the dairy. After having swept the dairy, he lays the kakar and kabudri by the wall of the building, again takes the milking-vessel and wand from the back of the dairy, and, having called the people of the village, he salutes by raising the vessel and wand to his forehead and prays, all present praying with him. I am not certain whether it is the prayer of the village or a special prayer which is used on this occasion. After praying, the dairyman lays the wand on the top of the patat and pours the milk which he obtained from the buffalo into the patat over the wand. He puts the latter in its appointed place and then goes to the ertatmar, where he prepares a large number of leaves on which he portions out the food (tòrkisthiti) which he has prepared, and all the people present take this food outside the dairy. On the following day, the buffalo which has calved is milked with the rest.

When this ceremony is performed at the wursuli dairy, it is the only occasion on which the wursol prepares food; at all other times, the food of this dairyman is prepared by [174]the palikartmokh. On this occasion the wursol not only cooks food for himself but for all those present. Another distinctive feature of this ceremony is that it is the only occasion on which the milk of the wursulir is ever drunk.

The day of irpalvusthi is the only day on which the dairymen of the three kinds of dairy, with the exception of the wursol of certain dairies, do their work kabkaditi, i.e., do not turn their backs to the contents of the dairy.

At the kugvali of Taradr, the ceremony is more elaborate. It begins in the afternoon, when the dairy is purified with dried buffalo-dung. Three large pieces of the wood called kid are brought, and the dairyman ties the small piece of cloth called petuni to the milking-vessel and to a special wand called irpalvusthpet.3 He also ties petuni in the form of rings round the ring and little fingers of his right hand and round the ring finger of his left hand. He then goes out with the milking-vessel and wand, and after saluting by raising them to his forehead, he goes to the place where the buffaloes are milked and prays there.

The kugvalikartmokh then takes the calf to its mother and milks as at the other dairies, but in this case he milks the buffalo completely, and if, by doing so, he has not filled his milking-vessel, he fills it with the milk of putiir. He pours this milk into the majpariv, which has been carefully cleaned, and puts the three pieces of kid wood in the fireplace. He puts into the milk three measures (ak) of rice, but adds neither salt nor jaggery. When the food is ready, he portions it out on leaves and gives to those present, who must on this occasion be limited to the people of the village. This ceremony occurs on Saturday evening.

On the following day, the ceremony is repeated, being called on this occasion îrpatadûthti, i.e., “buffalo milk he uses publicly.” When preparing food on this day the kugvalikartmokh puts into the milk eleven ak of rice4 and adds both salt and jaggery. The number of pieces of wood used is not limited to three, but any quantity may be burnt. When the food is ready, he goes out of the dairy and finds [175]assembled a large number of people, including guests from other villages and clans. Among them a Melgars man must be included or there could be no ceremony. When the dairyman sees the people, he says “Ol pudra?” “People, have you come?” They answer “Pudspimi,” “We have come.” The dairyman then brings the stirring-stick (put), and, taking up some of the food on the stick, says “Tütr erkina?” “At the fire shall I throw?” and the people answer “Tütr eri!” “At the fire, throw!” The dairyman then throws the food on the stick into the fire, and portions out the rest of the food among the people, who eat it outside the dairy.

From the birth of the calf until this ceremony, the buffalo is not milked and the calf is kept, when not with its mother, in the small enclosure called kush. After the ceremony, the buffalo is milked like the rest of the herd, and the calf joins the others in the ordinary calf-house, or kwotars.


Giving Salt To Buffaloes

Salt is given to the buffaloes five times a year, both at the ti mad and the ordinary village. At the ti the salt is given with buttermilk, and the ceremony is known as mòrup. At the ordinary village buttermilk is not given, and there is no general name for the ceremony, though there are special names for three of the five occasions on which salt is given. These special names are also used at the ti. The first occasion is kòrup, or ‘new grass salt,’ which takes place in the month Nalani (February-March). The second is marup or ‘again salt,’ a month later in Ani. The next two occasions have no special names, but in the ordinary village are known as arsup, ‘house salt,’ given in the months Ovani and Kirdivi (June-July and September-October). The last occasion is in the month Emioti (November-December), and is known as paniup, meaning ‘frost salt.’ In the case of kòrup and paniup, it seemed that salt was given shortly before the time at which the young grass and frost respectively were expected.

At the ti the ceremony is performed on the Sunday or Tuesday following the new moon. At the Nòdrs ti it should [176]be done for the tiir on Sunday and for the warsir on Tuesday, but this now only happens when the buffaloes are at Òdrtho and Kudreiil, where the dairies of the two kinds of buffaloes are at some distance apart. At Mòdr and Anto and other dairies, the ceremony is performed for both kinds of buffalo on a Sunday. At the Pan ti the day for the ceremony is Tuesday, and at the Kars ti, Sunday.

On the day before the ceremony each palol5 digs a round hole called the upunkudi at a prescribed spot, or more commonly enlarges the hole remaining from a previous ceremony. On the following day each palol carries out the usual morning churning and milking, but before drinking buttermilk the dairy is cleansed with buffalo-dung. The palol then pours into the vessel called alug two kudi of buttermilk and takes the vessel and some salt to the upunkudi. He throws bark of the tudr tree three times into the hole, three times into the buttermilk and on the salt, and going to the spring he throws the bark three times into the water, saying “” each time. The palol then fills the alug with water from the spring, mixing it with the buttermilk already in the vessel. He adds salt, saying “” three times, and the whole is poured into the upunkudi. A special buffalo is then brought to the upunkudi; at the Nòdrs ti the ti palol first leads up the buffalo belonging to the unir which is called Enmars and the wars palol takes the buffalo of the perithir called Òrsum, this act of sending a special buffalo first being called îrpârsatiti. After this all the buffaloes are taken to drink in groups of five or six. When the hole has been emptied, it is refilled with salt and water, but this time no buttermilk is added. When all the buffaloes have drunk, each palol pulls some of the grass called kargh and throws it into the hole three times and returns to his dairy to take buttermilk from the kaltmokh as usual.

At the ordinary village the salt-giving ceremony is performed about a week after it has been done at the ti. Any day may be chosen except the madnol, palinol, or arpatznol.6 Thus at Kuudr the ceremony may be performed on any day [177]except Tuesday and Friday; at Kars, on any day except Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

On the three occasions with special names, kòrup, marup, and paniup, guests come from other villages, but at the arsup this does not happen. As in the case of the irpalvusthi ceremony, a man from Kuudr must be present at the salt-giving ceremony of Òdr and a man from Òdr must be present at Kuudr.

The ceremony is performed by the palikartmokh after the people of the village have made the hole or upunkudi.7 The palikartmokh takes from the dairy the vessel corresponding to the alug of the ti, viz., the tat, but does not take buttermilk. Tudr bark is used in the same way as at the ti.

At a Teivali village, the pasthir drink first. At a Tarthar village at which there is a wursol, the wursulir drink first, the act of sending certain buffaloes first being called irparsatiti as at the ti. After the buffaloes have drunk, kargh grass is thrown into the hole, first by the dairyman and then by all the others present, but it is only thrown once by each person, who says “” as he throws.

The object of this ceremony is said to be that the buffaloes shall give a plentiful supply of milk.


The Ponup Ceremony

At the ti dairy salt is given to the buffaloes on certain other occasions and with a far more elaborate ritual. The ceremony is then called ponup, or ‘festival salt,’ and takes place soon after the migration from one dairy to another. At the Nòdrs ti the salt is given on the Wednesday following the Sunday on which the migration has occurred, and at the Kars ti and the Pan ti, on Sunday, a week later than the procession.

On the night before the ceremony the palol shuts up the buffaloes in the special pen called the pon tu.

On the morning of the appointed day, when the churning is finished, but before the buffaloes have been milked, each palol brings six sprigs of the shrub called puthimul, each sprig having on it five or six leaves. Three of these sprigs [178]are put on one side, and the other three are used as follows:—Rice has been previously prepared and placed either on the leaf called kakuders or on that called katers. The palol makes a hole in this food in which he puts butter, and, taking the first sprig of puthimul, he plucks from it one leaf and, using it as a spoon, takes up some of the food and puts it on the fire in the fireplace called tòratthwaskal, saying the name of the chief teu or god of the ti. He then takes some of the butter, and holds it over the fire till it drops, when he utters the name of the same god. He repeats this with a second leaf of the puthimul, saying the name of the second most important god of the ti, and so on with the other leaves. I obtained the fullest account of ponup from Koboners, who had been palol of the Kars ti, and here food and butter were put on the fire six times, saying the names of Anto, Nòtirzi, Kuzkarv, Kulinkars, Onkomn, and Karmanteu.

The kaltmokh then brings water taken from the ordinary stream in the vessel called mòrkudriki, and gives it to the palol, who sits in the outer room facing towards the inner room, and throws some of the rice in front of him once, some behind him once, and the rest outside the dairy. He puts some salt on the fire, and taking the water brought by the kaltmokh, he sprinkles it before and behind him as he had done with the food.

Then follows kaizhvatiti, i.e., the kaltmokh pours out buttermilk for the palol. This is the only occasion on which this act takes place before the buffaloes have been milked, the ceremony of drinking buttermilk on every other occasion taking place when the morning’s work is over. The palol gives food to the kaltmokh, and here, again, there is a feature peculiar to this day, for the kaltmokh eats his food sitting in the place in the hut where the palol usually sits.

The buffaloes are then milked, after which the palol fetches three sticks of the kind ordinarily called kwadrikurs, but at the ti, kakul. Each is used for a special purpose and has a corresponding name, one being called irpasthkakul, the second kwarkul, and the third parkul.

The palol takes buffalo-dung in both hands and the irpasthkakul in the right hand, and separates certain buffaloes [179]from the rest by knocking their backs three times with the dung and stick. At the Kars ti two buffaloes are separated in this way; at the Nòdrs ti five buffaloes are set apart, one of each kind, three by the ti palol, and two by the wars palol. These buffaloes are known as ponir. The dairy is then purified with the dung and water. The irpasthkakul is laid on one side, and the palol puts salt in the basket called ponmukeri, and takes it with the water-vessel called karpun to the place where salt is to be given, taking also the remaining sprigs of puthimul and a bundle of fern.

At the place for the ceremony there is a stone called ponkars (when there are two palol there will be two stones), and at the stone the palol makes a vessel of clay and water so as to resemble a milking-vessel. This clay vessel is called teukwoi (teu, god, and kwoi, milking-vessel).

The palol then takes two perfect tudr leaves, and fastens them together with the petioles of other leaves, so that they form a cup which is called püvup. Salt is placed in this leaf vessel, which is laid down by the side of the teukwoi. One such vessel is made for each buffalo, two at the Kars ti and five at the Nòdrs ti.

The palol then takes the stick called kwarkul, and with it makes a hole in the middle of each teukwoi, saying (at the Kars ti) “antok teukwoi ûrîj, paln!” (“To Anto in teukwoi make hole, O palol!”). He then makes other holes round the sides of the clay vessel, saying the names of the other gods in the same manner. (At the Kars ti those which have already been given. At the Nòdrs ti the names of five gods are mentioned—Anto, Kulinkars, Nòtirzi, Kuladrvan, and Kuzkarv.) Two pieces of tudr bark and a sprig of puthimul are then placed in each hole, saying for the first, “Antok teukwoi et, paln!” (“To Anto in teukwoi put, O palol!”), and this is repeated with the name of a different god for each hole.

Next the palol takes the stick called parkul, which has a sharpened end, and makes small holes called upunkudi as in the mòrup ceremony. At the Kars ti only two upunkudi are made; at the Nòdrs ti one palol makes three and the other two holes. Tudr bark is thrown three times into the holes and into the water of the spring. Water is taken from the [180]spring in the karpun, salt is put into the water three times and the salt and water are poured into the holes, and the buffaloes previously set apart are led to the holes and drink three times, one buffalo from each hole. The leaf vessels previously made (püvup) are then given to the buffaloes, and are eaten by them. Care is taken to give the leaf vessels in such a way that the end of the leaf corresponding to the petiole enters the mouth of the buffalo first.

The palol takes Anto’s leaf from the teukwoi and puts it in the karpun with water, then faces towards the place where Anto lives (Anto’s hill) and pours in that direction, saying “Antok,” “to Anto.” This is repeated with the other leaves, the palol in each case turning and pouring towards the place where the god lives.

Then follows the ceremony called tafkeirpudrti, i.e., “fern pool he strokes.” The palol takes the bundle of fern which he has brought with him and goes to the stream, which is blocked up, so that the water accumulates and forms a pool. He waits till the pool is so deep that the water would come half-way up his thighs, when he steps in with the bundle of fern in his right hand and strokes the bundle over the water, saying the kwarzam, or prayer names of certain gods and buffaloes (at the Nòdrs ti the palol says, “Anto idith, Kûlinkârs idith, Nòtîrzi idith, Kûlâdrvan idith, Kuzkârv idith, Mûv idith, Mòrs idith, Pan idith, Kûdreij tîdj idith”: see Chapter X). The palol then buries the fern at the bottom of the pool, so that there is no chance that it may come up again, and throws the grass called kargh into each upunkudi once only.

The palol then goes to the buffaloes and knocks one of the ordinary kind called punir to one side with a bush called pîrskwadriktûr and pours a little water on its back. This is called punîr ûvk nîr atiti, i.e., “he pours water on the back of the punir.”

Finally the palol goes to a stream near the upunkudi and washes there from the hands to the elbows. This final washing is called peiaspiti. Pei is the Tamil word for ‘demon,’ and the word suggested that there was an idea of warding off the influence of some kind of evil spirit, but it [181]seemed that peiaspiti was merely the ti form of kaiaspiti, “he washes the hands.”

The following day is called ûpkârvnol. On this day small Badaga children go to the ti mad and the palol gives them clarified butter on a leaf. On this day also any one who has been a palol (patol) may go to the ti mad and receive food unless the funeral ceremonies for one of his clan should still be uncompleted.

The ceremonies of ponup were said to be designed to invite the gods to be present by means of the clay vessels. The tudr bark and leaves were said to be used in order to purify these vessels after their defilement by human hands in the process of making. [182]

1 This is the only occasion on which this cream is used by the Todas. It is used because there are now neither butter nor ghi at the dairy. Its use here is an indication that the process of coagulation is less rapid than usual. 

2 See p. 222

3 I am doubtful whether a special wand is also used in other dairies. 

4 Eleven ak = one kwa (see p. 588). 

5 When there is only one palol for both kinds of buffaloes, as at the Pan ti, he only digs one hole. 

7 This hole at an ordinary village is sometimes known as a tarupunkudi




The ceremonies which have been described in the last five chapters make up a large part of the ritual of the Toda religion, but there is one important feature of this ritual which has so far been left on one side, or only cursorily mentioned, because its full consideration only becomes possible after an account has been given of the Toda gods.

In describing the ritual of the dairy and the various ceremonies connected with the buffaloes, it has been mentioned that at certain times the prayer of the dairy or the prayer of the village is used. In these prayers there are references to various incidents in the lives of the gods, and many of the clauses would be unintelligible without a knowledge of these lives. It therefore becomes necessary to consider this branch of Toda mythology before dealing with the prayers in detail.

The typical Toda god is a being who is distinctly anthropomorphic and is called a teu. In the legends he lives much the same kind of life as the mortal Toda, having his dairies and his buffaloes. The sacred dairies and the sacred buffaloes of the Todas are still regarded as being in some measure the property of the gods, and the dairymen are looked upon as their priests. The gods hold councils and consult with one another just as do the Todas, and they are believed to be swayed by the same motives and to think in the same way as the Todas themselves.

At the present time most of the gods are believed to [183]inhabit the summits of the hills, but they are not seen by mortals. Before the Todas were created, the gods lived on the Nilgiri Hills alone, and then it is believed that there followed a period during which gods and men inhabited the hills together. The gods ruled the men, ordained how they should live and originated the various customs of the people. The Todas can now give no definite account of their beliefs about the transition from this state of things to that which now exists.

Each clan of the Todas has a deity especially connected with it. This deity is called the nòdrodchi of the clan, and is believed to have been the ruler of the clan when gods and men lived together. I am doubtful whether there is at the present time any belief that the nòdrodchi exerts an influence over the clan with which he is connected.

There was no department of Toda lore which gave me greater difficulty than the study of the beliefs about the gods. There was no doubt that two gods stood out pre-eminent among the rest. One was a male deity whose name was Ön, and the other a female deity, Teikirzi. A simple question which I had the greatest difficulty in settling was the relation of these deities to one another. According to one account they were brother and sister; according to another, father and daughter. It seemed quite certain they were not husband and wife, and most probable that they were brother and sister. Others of the gods were believed to be related to one another, but on such points as this I found it almost impossible to obtain trustworthy information. It may have been reticence which made the difficulty, but I do not think so, and am inclined to think that the Todas have now only vague ideas about the histories of their more ancient gods, and have nothing like the definite traditions which they possess about deities of obviously more recent origin.

Sometimes there were discrepancies between different accounts which I could not clear up, and in such cases I give the account which seems to me to be the most trustworthy. [184]



This god is the earliest of whom any tradition is preserved. His name is Pithi or Püthi, and he is often called Pithioteu. He was born near the sacred dairy of Anto in a cave which had the same shape as the ordinary Toda hut. According to one account, Pithi created Todas and buffaloes, but there seemed to be little doubt that this is not the correct tradition, which assigns the act of creation to his son Ön. There is a suggestive resemblance between the name of this god and the Sanscrit word for earth, Prithivi, which is in common use in Southern India.



Ön was the son of Pithi. He created the buffaloes and the Todas and became the ruler of Amnòdr, the world of the dead, where he now lives.

One day Ön went with his wife Pinârkûrs to Mêdrpem (the top of the Kundahs). There he put up an iron bar which stretched from one end of the pem to the other. Ön stood at one end of the bar and brought forth buffaloes from the earth, 1,600 in number. Then Pinarkurs tried to produce buffaloes and she stood at the other end of the bar and produced 1,800 buffaloes.

Behind Ön’s buffaloes there came out of the earth a man, holding the tail of the last buffalo, and this was the first Toda. Ön took one of the man’s ribs (parikatelv or magalelv) from the right side of his body and made a woman, who was the first Toda woman. The Todas then increased in number very rapidly so that at the end of the first week there were about a hundred.1

The descendants of the buffaloes created by Ön became sacred buffaloes, while the descendants of those created by his wife are the ordinary buffaloes. [185]

Ön had a son called Püv. One day when Püv was acting as palikartmokh at Kuudr, he was churning in the dairy with a ring on the little finger of his right hand. When the dairyman goes to fetch water he should always take the churning stick out of the patat or vessel in which the milk is churned. On this occasion Püv left it in the patat and went out to fetch water. As he was going a black bird called karpüls tried to check him, saying “tîs, tîs, tîs,” meaning “Don’t go to the water,” but Püv paid no attention and went on. When he was taking the water the ring dropped from his little finger into the spring. Püv saw the ring in the water, but could not reach it, and so he got into the spring. The water was not deep, and yet as soon as he stepped into the spring it completely covered him and he was drowned. When Ön found that his son was lost he cried very bitterly and covered himself with his cloak (tuni). (Ön is said to have been a palol at this time.) When Ön covered himself he looked downwards and saw, as through a veil, his son in Amnòdr playing with the ring, putting it on and off his finger.2

When Ön saw that his son was in Amnòdr he did not like to leave him there alone and decided to go away to the same place. So he called together all the people and the buffaloes and the trees to come and bid him farewell. All the people came except a man of Kwòdrdoni named Arsankutan. He and his family did not come. All the buffaloes came except the arsaiir, the buffaloes of the Kwòdrdoni ti. Some trees also failed to come. Ön blessed all the people, buffaloes and trees present, but said that because Arsankutan had not come he and his people should die by sorcery at the hands of the Kurumbas, and that because the arsaiir had not come they should be killed by tigers, and that the trees which had not come should bear bitter fruit. Since that time the Todas have feared the Kurumbas, and buffaloes have been killed by tigers. All the Todas and all the buffaloes appear to have suffered for the evil deeds of Arsankutan and the arsaiir.

Then Ön went away to Amnòdr, taking the buffaloes [186]and the palol of the Nòdrs ti with him, and since that time Ön has ruled over Amnòdr, which is sometimes called Önnòdr after him.



This goddess is perhaps the most important of the Toda deities. She is said to have been the sister, and probably the elder sister, of Ön. I could learn very little about the story of her life, but nearly all the customs of the Todas were referred to her, and it seemed clear that when Ön left this world Teikirzi became the ruler or nòdrodchi of the Todas. Whenever I tried to obtain from the Todas an explanation of any ceremony or custom I nearly always received the reply, which was regarded as final, that it had been so ordained by Teikirzi.

It seems doubtful whether Teikirzi dwells in any special hill like other Toda deities, though there is a hill near Nòdrs especially connected with her. I was told that she lives everywhere in this world, and in answer to a question it was said even that her influence extends to London, where she dwells as she dwells everywhere else.

She is regarded as the ruler or nòdrodchi of all the Todas, and this world is often spoken of as Eikirzinòdr. At the same time Teikirzi is especially connected with Nòdrs, and she is the special nòdrodchi of this clan.

Five customs, or sets of customs, are ascribed especially to Teikirzi. These are:—

(i) Madol pâkht kwadrt vai, “Who divided and gave madol (clans).” Teikirzi is also said to have divided the Todas into their two chief divisions.

(ii) Ir pâkht kwadrt vai, “Who divided and gave buffaloes.”

Below Nòdrs, near a swamp called Keikudr, there is a small stream which at the present time Todas will not cross at a certain spot, and Teikirzi stood in this stream. According to one account she beat the water with a wand, saying “Ir padri ma” (“May buffaloes spring”), and buffaloes sprang out of the stream; but it seemed to be more generally accepted that she only divided the buffaloes on this spot by touching each animal on the back with a wand and saying [187]the name of the clan to which it was to belong. The first portion went to Nòdrs, the second to Kuudr, the third to Kars, and the fourth to Taradr. Up to this point she used a wand of kid wood (kidkurs). For the next clan, that of Keadr, the kidkurs was put away and she used a wand of tavat wood, and several other kinds of wand were used. Teikirzi was also said to have ordained at the same time that wursulir should be milked by Teivaliol and to have settled the general regulations concerning the different kinds of buffalo.

(iii) Püliol pâkht kwadrt vai, “Who divided and gave püliol.”

Teikirzi is said to have ordained that certain people should be the püliol of a man, and that püliol should not marry one another (see Chap. XXI).

(iv) Ir patz id vai, “Buffalo catch who said.” Teikirzi ordained that buffaloes should be caught at the funeral ceremonies (see Chap. XV).

(v) Kwarzam pep ostht ad vai, “Who told the kwarzam and gave pep.”

Teikirzi gave to each village its kwarzam, or sacred name, and settled the method of making new pep.

The name of Teikirzi occurs frequently in other legends. One story not mentioned elsewhere is the following:—

When Teikirzi was living at Nòdrs the people of Mysore came to fight her, but as they approached, the woods made a great noise. When the Mysore people heard the noise they stopped, and then Teikirzi cursed them and said, “Let them become stones,” and they were turned into stones, which are still to be seen below Nòdrs.


Teipakh, or Tirshti

I know very little about the life-history of this deity, but he is very widely mentioned in the prayers and incantations of the Todas, and is one of their most important gods. He was the brother of Teikirzi, and differs from most other Toda deities in being a river god, Teipakh being the Toda name of the Paikara river.

Teipakh is the nòdrodchi of the Piedr and Kusharf clans.

Although there was considerable agreement that Teipakh [188]and Tirshti were one and the same god, there was some doubt about it, and, according to one account, Tirshti was only another name for Teikirzi.



I am very doubtful about the name and identity of this god. There seemed to be little doubt that he had the same name as the chief dairy of the Nòdrs ti and was the chief deity connected with this dairy. According to one account he was the son of Ön, but it is possible that the two deities were identical, Anto being Önteu. His name was sometimes pronounced Anteu or perhaps more correctly Änto or Änteu.

I have only a few incidents from the life of Anto. He once rolled a huge stone with the hair of his head from Nelkòdr in the Wainad to the top of a hill called Katthvai near the dairy of Anto. The god now lives near this dairy, resting his head on a spot called Ködrs, and stretching his legs on a spot called Tudrs. These places are about two furlongs apart so that Anto is evidently a god of a large size.

Anto is said to have made buffaloes, and the buffalo which founded the ti mad of Makars (see p. 116) was one of his creation. The fact that Anto created buffaloes increases the probability of his identity with Ön, but this is far from conclusive for there were undoubtedly several independent creations of these animals.



This deity is the nòdrodchi of the Kars clan. His original name appears to have been Kulin, and this was changed to Kulinkars. He is also called Teikhars. He inhabits a hill near Makurti Peak, which is so steep and rocky that “no man has ever climbed it.”

The following story is told of Kulinkars or Teikhars:—He once knocked on the ground and so made two buffaloes. He then told the monsoon (kwadr) to drive the buffaloes to the place to which they were to go, saying, “you must push them on.” As the buffaloes were being driven on by the monsoon, [189]a tiger went after them. When they reached a certain hill, the hill divided into two and the buffaloes went between the two parts, but still the tiger followed them. Then the buffaloes came to Kwaradr and went into the pen, and the tiger also went into the pen. When the buffaloes saw that the tiger had come into the pen, they kicked it and it died. Then one of the buffaloes said to the other, “You stay here in the pen; I am going to Tarsòdr.” Then the monsoon drove on this buffalo to Tarsòdr, which is one of the dairies of the Pan ti. The descendants of the buffalo which stayed in the pen are the pasthir of Kwaradr and the descendants of the other are among the buffaloes of the Pan ti.

Kulinkars was connected with the erkumptthpimi ceremony (see Chap. XIII) and was the mokhthodvaiol or paramour of Nòtirzi. His relation to Nòtirzi is said to have been the origin of the mokhthoditi custom (see Chap. XXII), but I was not able to obtain any detailed account of this part of the history of the god.

Kulinkars has a son called Teikhidap, who lives on Makurti Peak, and the proper Toda name for this hill is Teikhidap.



I have no details of the history of this female deity. She is the nòdrodchi of the two important clans of Melgars and Kuudr, and lives on the hill now known as Snowdon, the Toda name of the hill being the same as that of the goddess. This hill is especially sacred, and any Toda who visits it has to salute with hand to forehead (kaimukhti) in all directions. Like her mokhthodvaiol, Kulinkars, Nòtirzi is connected with the erkumptthpimi ceremony. She is said to have had a son called Tikuteithi or Teukuteithi. It is possible that this is the same as Teikuteidi, who appears in the story of Kwoten (see p. 193), but they are more probably two different deities.

A stone which is said to have been thrown by this goddess from her hill is shown close to the village of Pòln, under the tree known to English visitors to the Nilgiris as the ‘umbrella tree.’ [190]


Korateu or Kuzkarv

Korateu was the son of Teikirzi. One day when Teikirzi was going from one village to another she went into a cave called Teivelkursh, by the side of a stream called Kathipa, near Kakhudri, and there gave birth to a son, who was called Azo-mazo. The afterbirth dropped into the stream and was carried down to Teipakh (the Paikara river). It travelled down the river as far as a place called Marsnavai, where there were growing two plants called tib and purs in which it became entangled. The afterbirth then slowly arose and became a boy, and the boy was Korateu. When Azo-mazo became a man he went to live at Pernòdr in the Kundahs, but Korateu lived in the river till he was eight years old. The river Teipakh was the brother of Teikirzi. As he sat in the lap of his uncle Korateu used often to play at making the buffalo horns called tebkuter (Fig. 35).3 When he was eight years old he founded a ti and created a male and a female buffalo, making both out of earth. He also built a dairy and a buffalo pen and made the garment called tuni. As soon as the buffaloes had a calf, he went to fetch a churning-stick from Kaiers, beyond Makurti Peak, and took it to Nerva, near Mòdr, where his buffaloes were standing. He then went to Kurkòdr, a bamboo grove near Meipadi in the Wainad, and made a kwoi or milking vessel. He next made the persin and the [191]mani and all the other things of a ti and became palol of the buffaloes at Òdrtho. There was a buffalo here of the kind called kughir, with the horns growing downwards. Korateu cut off these horns and gave them to the kaltmokh at Òdrtho and they are now the horns of the Nòdrs ti. Korateu then made a law that the people of Piedr should fill the office of palol and that the kaltmokh should be taken from the Melgarsol. He appointed a palol and a kaltmokh from these clans, handed over the charge of the ti to them, and went away to the hill Korateu, where he lived in an iron cave which he called a poh. He used to bathe in a pool near the hill.



At this time Korateu was not recognised as a teu, and when the gods held council he was not summoned as a member. This made him very angry.

Near Korateu there was a wood in which there stood a tree of the kind called mòrs (Michelia nilagirica) which was about 80 feet high. Korateu ordered that honey bees (peshtein) should come to the tree, and after a time there were about 300 nests, which made the tree bend down with their weight. One day about twenty men came to collect honey, Todas, Irulas, and Kurumbas. The Todas made a fire under the tree, while the Irulas and Kurumbas climbed and collected honey from the nests. When they had collected the honey from all except three or four nests, the tree became so light that it sprang back and killed the Irulas and Kurumbas, and the Todas went home.

At this time Korateu was unmarried and he carried a stick of iron. One day a Kurumba woman came to the mòrs tree in search of honey. Korateu knocked her on the head with the iron stick and at once she became pregnant. That evening she gave birth to a daughter, who was very beautiful, and Korateu decided to marry the child and sent away the mother that night. (According to another version, the child was so beautiful that the mother was frightened and went away to her own village, and Korateu fed the child with milk and fruit and honey, and when she grew up he married her.)

Soon after the death of the Irulas and Kurumbas a sambhar calf came to Korateu, who caught it, tamed it, and [192]kept it for a month. Then certain Todas went to Korateu and asked him for a place. Korateu gave them a place and said that it should be called Keradr. The people of Keradr then asked for buffaloes. So Korateu gave them the sambhar calf and said that it should become buffaloes for them, and he ordered that the buffaloes should be called miniapir, and that the calves should be called mâvelkari.e., calf from a sambhar. This was the origin of Keradr and of its wursulir, which are still called miniapir, and they are the only buffaloes of the Todas which were made from sambhar.

After these things had happened the gods recognised that Korateu was a teu, and calling him asked him who he was. He answered that he was the son of Teikirzi, and the manmokh or sister’s son of Teipakh. He was then admitted as one of the gods and now lives on the hill Korateu, but still sometimes sits in the lap of Teipakh. He is the nòdrodchi of the Keradr and Keadr clans, and the chief villages of these clans are near his hill. He is called Kuzkarv when mentioned in prayer.

Another god, called Etepi, is said to be the same god as Korateu. It appeared, however, that Korateu lived on one hill and Etepi on another, and I could not ascertain the true relation of the deities to one another.

Azo-mazo is mentioned in the prayer of the Kars ti as two deities, Azo and Mazo.


Puzi and Kurindo

I am very doubtful as to the identity of Puzi. According to some accounts Puzi or Purzi was merely another name for Teikirzi; according to other accounts Puzi was a male deity and the husband of Teikirzi. In the following story Puzi is a female deity, inhabiting a hill near Nòdrs. She gave birth to a son called Kurindo. As soon as Kurindo was born he became fire. Puzi did not approve of this, as it seemed to show that the boy was too powerful, so she took a leaf of the kind called kwagal, pounded it and mixed it with water and sprinkled it on the fire. The fire then turned back again into a boy who was bent to one side. [193]

Puzi said, “I will put you on a hill opposite to me.” So she put him on the hill called Mopuvthut, near the village of Naters, and in order to make the hill higher she put three baskets of earth on the top, so that her son might be seen by everybody.

When Kurindo was on his hill he thought to himself, “My mother has treated me badly; she sprinkled me with water and quenched my power, and she has made me bent to one side; I do not like to be opposite to her.” So he went away to a hill near Kanòdrs. This was before the time of Kwoten and before the Kamasòdrolam had run away (see p. 195). While Kurindo was living on this hill a strange tribe came to the hills, so Kurindo again moved and went away to the hill of Arsnur on the Mysore side, where he still lives.

There is a hill called Puthi on which a fire is lighted at certain times (see p. 291) and the god inhabiting this hill was, according to one account, the husband of Teikirzi. It is possible that Puthi and Puzi are the same, but I think it more probable that they are two separate gods, each having his own hill, Puthi being the husband of Teikirzi, and Puzi being the deity of this legend.

The following legends differ from the preceding in that they appear almost certainly to record the lives of deified men. The first legend deals with three men of different clans, but the sons of three sisters. The second deals with the life of Kwoto, and professes to be the history of a being of miraculous birth who came to be accepted by the gods, not only as one of their number, but as superior to themselves. These two legends were known far more thoroughly and universally than any of the preceding. It seems most probable that they are records of men who really lived, and that the life of each has become a nucleus round which have grown various miraculous and portentous incidents.


Kwoten, Teikuteidi, and Elnâkhum

There were once three men, the children of three sisters. The eldest was Kwoten, who belonged to Pan, the second was Teikuteidi, who belonged to Taradr, and the youngest [194]was Elnâkhum of Nòdrs. (According to one account the father of Kwoten was Purten, and his mother was Tiköni of Keradr. They lived at Pan and Kiursi, and Kwoten was born at Pan. Purten died when Kwoten was thirty years old and Tiköni died six years later.)

Kwoten had a wife called Kwoterpani. She did not like her husband, but preferred a man of Kanòdrs called Parden. One day Kwoten took his wife to a place called Timukhtar (near the spot where Sandy Nullah toll-bar now stands). He gave her only the loin-cloth called tadrp to wear, hoping that she would be cold and uncomfortable and would sleep with him, but she refused. Kwoten then took her to Kûdrîdjpül near Mulòrs, where there was a large wood. In this wood there was a tree of the kind called külmän, into which Kwoten climbed and made a bed. Below him, about three feet above the ground, he made a small bed for his wife, and under the tree, close to his wife’s bed, he tied a big male buffalo. He did this because he thought a tiger might come to take the buffalo during the night when his wife would be frightened and would climb up the tree to his bed. During the night a tiger came and took away the buffalo, but even this did not induce the woman to go to her husband. Next morning Kwoten took his wife to Pòlâdri, which belonged to the Panol. This village was near Miuni, and there Kwoten became a palikartmokh. One day Kwoten was in the dairy and his wife in the hut when Parden came from Kanòdrs. Kwoten’s wife knew that her husband was in the dairy, and endeavoured to prevent Parden from going into the hut by giving him buttermilk. Kwoten found that Parden had come, and sharpened a big knife to kill him, and when he came out of the dairy, Parden ran away towards Kanòdrs and Kwoten followed with the knife.

Kwoten’s sister had married a Kars man and was living with him at Nasmiòdr, and at this time Kwoten’s mother was staying at this place. As Parden ran away, pursued by Kwoten, they had to pass Nasmiòdr, and Kwoten’s mother saw them, and said, “How is it that my son does not catch Parden?” Then she cursed Parden, saying “On sati udairnùdr, Kârkaḍith mul uḍith pâtmâ”—viz., “If I have reverence [195]to the village, may he be checked by the tree with thorns in the Kark wood.” When Parden reached a stone now called Pardenkars, Kwoten caught him up and tried to kill him, but the knife struck the stone instead and split it into two pieces. Then Parden ran on to the wood called Kark, where he was caught by a tree with thorns (brambles) so that Kwoten was able to kill him.

When the news of the death of Parden reached Kanòdrs all the people were very much afraid, and all ran away except one old man and his wife. As the people were going, they sent a message to the Kotas at Tizgudr. Two Kotas took a grain pounder (wask) and went to Pòladri. When Kwoten was told that the Kotas were coming he went and hid himself. The Kotas came and stood near the village and were told that Kwoten had gone away. Then they told Kwoten’s wife, who at this time was pregnant by Parden, to come out of the hut. She came out and went to the Kotas, who asked her where Kwoten was. She said she did not know, whereupon the Kotas were vexed, and pierced her belly with the pounder, so that she died. Her funeral took place at Tadendari, and that of Parden at Arâdr.

The people of Kanòdrs ran away to a place called Penasmalpet, near Malmathapenpet, and are known as the Kamasòdrolam. They have never been seen since, but the Todas have heard from various wandering tribes that they still exist and that they live on a hill from which they can see Kanòdrs, and that when the Kamasòdrolam see a fire at Kanòdrs they shave their heads and make a special kind of food called ashkkarthpimi.

When the Kanòdrs people ran away there remained behind one old man called Muturojen and his wife Muturach,4 who were living in a village near Kanòdrs called Mîtâhârzi. When the people left, the old man went to the Kanòdrs dairy to churn the milk left there by those who had run away, and he stayed there, sleeping in the kwotars or calves’ hut, as the dairyman should do at Kanòdrs. His wife used to come every day as far as a place called [196]Pîtipem, where she rubbed a place with buffalo-dung and sat down.

While sitting there one day an eagle (kashk) sat on her head, and she became pregnant, and went back to the village and gave birth to a son. When Kwoten heard of this he wished to kill the child and set out to do so. The old woman’s daughter, who had married a Kars man, sent her husband to warn her parents that Kwoten was coming to kill them. The Kars man met Kwoten and ran away from him towards Kanòdrs, followed by Kwoten’s dog. When he came to a hill above the village he called out that Kwoten was coming. When the old man heard him, he cursed Kwoten and those with him; the latter became stones and Kwoten himself (according to the story as told by the Kanòdrs people) was stung by honey bees and died. The people of Kanòdrs are descended from the son born to the old woman. If this old woman was not a Toda, as her name and that of her village suggest, this would seem to point to a tradition that the people of Kanòdrs are descended from an ancestor of a different race from the other Todas (see p. 640).

Owing to the behaviour of Kwoten to the Kanòdrs people there has ever since been karaivichi (trouble) between the people of Pan and Kanòdrs. They do not intermarry and no Kanòdrs man may go to one of the chief villages (etudmad) of the Pan people nor may a Pan man go to an etudmad of Kanòdrs.

According to the above account Kwoten died after being cursed by the old man, but this is only a feature of the story as told by the Kanòdrs people, and in the account given by others Kwoten had many other adventures and finished his life in this world in a very different manner. He married a second wife, who, like the first, objected to her husband and preferred a man of Keradr, whose name was Keradrkutan. Kwoten lived with this wife at Kazhuradr, near Isharadr. At that time women wore the garment called än, which is dark grey like the tuni of the palol, and is now only used as a funeral garment. [197]

Keradrkutan used frequently to come to Kazhuradr, and this vexed Kwoten, who told his wife to have nothing to do with the man. She encouraged Keradrkutan, however, and this vexed Kwoten so much that he took off her än and brought a thorny bush called peshteinmul and beat her all over with the bush, so that she became covered with blood. Kwoten at this time wore the garment called tuni, which he then took off, dipped it in water, and rubbed it all over his wife so that she became the colour of tuni, and then he gave her back her än and went to his dairy. While he was in the dairy Keradrkutan came stealthily to the village. When the woman saw Keradrkutan she cried very bitterly and said, “Kwoten has beaten me very severely so that I shall die; come and see me.” When Keradrkutan went into the hut, the woman died.

Before this time, when Kwoten was one day beating his wife, she abused him, saying, “Talrs ti oditha vai, Kòlrs kûv oditha vai; en puspad”—“You have no ti, you have no Kotas: why do you beat me?” This was to reproach Kwoten because the Pan people had no ti buffaloes and had no Kotas to make things for them. So Kwoten went and complained to his brother Teikuteidi. Teikuteidi was very sorry, and in order to remove the reproach he persuaded Elnâkhum of Nòdrs to give certain buffaloes of the kind called unir from the Nòdrs ti. Elnâkhum gave a two-year-old calf (pòl) and a one-year-old calf (kar), and also two bells (mani) to put on their necks. The two bells were called Tarskingg and Takhingg. The calves were then standing at Kuladrtho and were taken by Kwoten to the tars poh of Pan. He tied the two bells to one of the calves called Kazhi. These bells ought properly to have been tied to the buffalo called Enmars which remained behind at Kuladrtho. Then Enmars went to Anto and complained as follows:—

“kî mêdr, “inferior neck, kî kevi, inferior ear, ninkûtth to your council pòrâni”5 I will not come”

i.e., “I will not come to your presence with naked neck and [198]ear.” Anto told him not to grieve because he had lost the mani, and that instead

Melgarsol Melgars man teirpülk pül of Anto to mudâ mâ in front go may nî pud you come Antosh at Anto pep ûn pep drink

i.e., “When you go to Anto, a Melgars man shall go in front of you to the pül of Anto; when you come to Anto you shall drink pep.” To this day, when the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti go in procession to Anto a Melgars man goes in front and the buffalo called Enmars drinks pep at Anto. At the same time Anto prophesied to Enmars that a misfortune would befall Teikuteidi, saying

“wûrâdr “whole year nols day Teikuteidi tan himself ennâth without numbering piriedkin, I will divide, at vokh!” go away!”

When Teikuteidi heard of this prophecy he was much grieved, and was very careful to do all the following ceremonies:—erkumptthiti, upatiti, punkudrtiti, tatmadthkudrtiti, petkudrtiti, mukudrtiti, adikudrtiti, parivkudrtiti, tatòtiti, muòtiti, ponkastiti and irpalvusthi—viz., sacrifice of calf, salt-giving, purification of pun, tat and madth, pet, mu, adi, and pariv, etc.6 He performed all these ceremonies to escape the prophesied evil, for if he had succeeded in doing them all for the whole twelve months the prophecy would not have been fulfilled. On the very last day he forgot the prophecy and did not perform the ceremonies, but went to a place called Kirspem, where he sat under the shade of pülmän. There is a flower which blossoms on this tree in the rainy season only, and then the bees come. When Teikuteidi was sitting under the tree it was not the rainy season and he was very much surprised to hear the humming of honey bees in the tree. The noise was being made by a kazun7 which had taken the form of a [199]bee. He looked up to see if there were any flowers to attract the bees and could not see them, neither could he see any bees. Then he thought for a little while and remembered Anto’s prophecy, so he did not remain under the tree, but went away to Kirsgòrs to attend the funeral of a wursol of Nòdrs (see p. 439). When the funeral was over Teikuteidi set out with companions to go to Kerkars (a place near Paikara). On the way they passed Kwongudrpem (near Kuudi). There he stopped and began to count his companions; he counted them, but forgot to include himself, saying that there were twenty when they started and now only nineteen, and he thought for a long time who the lost person could be. When he was looking in the direction of the funeral-place for the lost companion, he saw a lame man named Keikarskutan, who had a purs and ab (bow and arrow). Keikarskutan lay down and shot the arrow8 and it came towards Teikuteidi with a sound like a bird’s voice. Teikuteidi was looking to see what sort of bird it was when the arrow pierced both his eyes9 and he died. When his companions found that he was dead, they held the funeral at Kerâs, and at the place where he died they made a mark with four stones like a cross, one for his head, one for his legs and one for each hand.

Kwoten was responsible for various features of the organisation of the Pan people. He divided them into two parts, the Panol and Kuirsiol, and also divided the ti into two parts, the wars ti, which was to belong to the Panol, and the tars ti to the Kuirsiol. He settled that the palol of the ti should be chosen from the people of Keadr. When there is a funeral in any clan a palol belonging to that clan must give up his office; hence, in order that his ti should never be without a palol, Kwoten separated the people of Keadr into two divisions, the Keadrol and the Kwaradrol, so that a member of one division might be palol if a member of the other division died. [200]This was the origin of the division of the Keadr people into the Keadrol and the Kwaradrol.

One day Kwoten went to the wars ti of Pan and took buttermilk and slept there, and he did the same at the arsaiir ti of Kwòdrdoni, and since that day the people of Pan have had the privilege of taking buttermilk and sleeping at the places of each ti.

Kwoten also made two teiks (stones or wooden posts at which buffaloes are killed at the funerals), the parsteiks for the Panol and the kirshteiks for the Kuirsiol.

It is owing to the example of Kwoten that the Todas now take meals in Kurumba villages. Before his time they had never done so, but Kwoten one day went to a Kurumba village and took food, and since that time all Todas have done so.

Kwoten was also the first Toda to go to a Kota village. He wanted one day to go to Mitur in the Wainad, and as it was getting dark and he was still on his way, he went to the Kota village of Kulgadi (Gudalur). He sat on their tün, or bed, got new pots and food from them, and, taking both to the stream called Marspa or Marsva, he cooked and ate the food there, and then, returning to the village, slept on a Kota tün. Since that time Todas have gone to that village, and have done as Kwoten did, but they will not go to any other Kota village.

One day Kwoten went with Erten of Keadr, who was spoken of as his servant, to Pòni, in the direction of Polkat (Calicut). At Pòni there is a stream called Palpa, the commencement of which may be seen on the Kundahs. Kwoten and Erten went to drink water out of the stream at a place where a goddess (teu) named Terkosh had been bathing. When Kwoten was about to drink from his hands, he found in the water a long golden hair; he measured the length of the hair and found it was greater than his height; he had a long stick in his hand called pirs, and found that the hair was longer than this stick. Then he asked Erten about it. Erten knew it was the hair of a teu, but thought it best not to tell Kwoten, and tried to persuade him that it was of no importance, and proposed that they should return home. [201]Kwoten, however, insisted on finding out from whom the hair came, so they went along the stream. Kwoten went first and Erten had to follow him. As they went they met the bird called karpüls going from the right side to the left,10 uttering its cry. Kwoten asked Erten why they met the bird, why it went from right to left, and why it made a cry. Erten replied as follows:—

“Nòdr udoi “Country (God) if there is kwudrpedrshai; Naraian sami kaipedrshai.” you will die; Naraian will kill you.”

In spite of this warning, Kwoten persisted in going on, and finally they came to Terkosh, who said to Kwoten, “Do not come near me, I am a teu.” Kwoten paid no heed to this, but said, “You are a beautiful woman,” and went and lay with her. Then Terkosh went away to her hill at Pòni, where she is now, and to this day the Kurumbas go there once a year and offer plantains to her and light lamps in her honour.

Kwoten and Erten returned home. Kwoten went to Kepurs, a village now in ruins, close to Nanjanad, and Erten went to a village called Kapthòri belonging to the Keadrol. Kwoten had about five hundred buffaloes grazing at Pazhmokh, near Kepurs. That night Kwoten slept on the idrtul over which he had spread a sambhar skin. He had on his finger a thick silver ring, which may still be seen at Naters and is used in the funeral ceremonies of men of the Pan clan. When the people awoke next morning they found that Kwoten had disappeared and that there only remained, lying on the sambhar skin, the silver ring and some pug.11 Kwoten had been carried away by Terkosh and it was found that his five hundred buffaloes had also disappeared.

When Erten got up next morning he went to Kepurs and called out to the wursol of that place, “Wursolia, tar tûrshoḍthrska12—“O wursol, is the man up yet?” The wursol [202]replied, “Pülmâv tars pògh udisvichi”—“On the sambhar skin blood is lying.” Erten replied, “Aroth pun pârs Pâlmän kwark putvai, nadrtivadr”—“Take sixty vessels of milk to the wood of Palmän and pour out.” So the wursol took sixty pun of milk and poured it out in the wood as Erten had ordered him.

Then since Kwoten had gone away, Erten did not want to live any more; he took a large creeper called melkudri, and tied it round his neck and tried to strangle himself, but when he pulled the creeper it broke into several pieces. He was much disappointed, but took another kind of creeper called kakkudri, but this broke in the same way. He then tried teinkudri, which also broke. Finally he took kakhudri,13 and with this he succeeded in strangling himself. Then the wursol and all those who had helped in pouring out the milk also strangled themselves with kakhudri. Since this time it has been a custom among the Todas to commit suicide by strangling.

Kwoten and Terkosh are now living on two hills near Pòni, which face one another, and Erten has also become a teu and lives on a smaller hill near those of Kwoten and Terkosh. Whenever a Toda sees Kwoten’s hill for the first time, he lies down on his right side and sings twice the following words: “Seizâr zon, Kwoten âr zon, Seizâr zon, Terkosh âr zon.” I could not discover the meaning of these words, and fancy that the Todas themselves do not know exactly what they mean. It is possible that âr is the word meaning six.

The history and fate of Teikuteidi, the second brother of Kwoten, has been given in the story of Kwoten. He belonged to Taradr, and according to one account the kugvalir of that place were sent to him. Very little is related about the third brother, Elnâkhum. He had 1,800 buffaloes, but though he had so many, he was always going to other Todas and saying “I have nothing to milk; lend me a buffalo to milk,” and all his life he used to beg. It is owing to his example that the Todas have begged ever since, and are not ashamed to do so even when they are rich. [203]

Elnâkhum is said to have built the long wall which still exists at the village of Nòdrs.

The story of Kwoten reads very much like that of a man who really lived and was deified after his death. The minute detail with which several of the natural incidents of his life are known might be held to point in this direction, but perhaps more important is the fact that his ring can still be seen, and that his spear was, according to Breeks, in existence not long ago. It looks as if Kwoten was a man who raised Pan from a comparatively insignificant position among the Todas to be one of their chief clans, and was the means of introducing several innovations in Toda custom. It is probable that he was deified after his death, and that some of the incidents of his life have acquired miraculous characters.


Kwoto or Meilitars

There was once a man belonging to Melgars who married a woman of Kanòdrs and took her to Melgars. When she became pregnant, the woman was taken by her husband to Kanòdrs. On the way back to Melgars they passed Ushadr, the place where the funeral ceremonies of Melgars men took place. They were standing in front of the funeral hut at that place when the man found a good twadri tree,14 and, cutting three or four sticks from it, brought them to his wife, who stripped the bark from the sticks. While she was doing this, the pains of labour came on, and soon after she gave birth to a gourd (kem). Both husband and wife were very much ashamed, and they decided to say that a child had been born and had died, and the man went round to all the villages to say that this had happened and that the funeral would be held at Ushadr. Accordingly they had the etvainolkedr (first funeral ceremony) at Ushadr, the gourd being covered with putkuli (cloak), so that it was taken to be the body of a child.

First the buffaloes were caught and killed, and then the supposed corpse was taken to the burning-place, where a fire [204]was made and the gourd in its mantle was put on the fire. The fire first burnt the cloak, and when it reached the gourd, this broke into two pieces. One piece became a little baby, a boy, which took a piece of the burnt cloak and went away in the air to Neikhârs, where there is a big tree, under which it alighted. The other piece of the gourd was split into many fragments by the heat of the fire, and some of the fragments were driven with such force that they killed a kite which had come to the funeral. (To this day the kite does not eat the buffaloes at funerals at Ushadr, though it does so at other places.) The father and mother followed the child to Neikhârs, where they found it sitting on the tree.15 The father and mother said to the child “Ena, itvâ”—“My son, come here,” and the boy came down and went to them, and was taken away by his parents to Melgars.

As the parents and child were on their way to Melgars they met the buffaloes of the Kars ti going from Kòn to Enòdr. At that time the buffaloes of Melgars and Kars used to go with the ti buffaloes as far as a place called Irgûdrval, on the way between Kars and Enòdr. A Kars man went with the buffaloes, and he wore on his right wrist a gold bracelet (which is still kept at Kuzhu). At Irgûdrval there is a stone called Pidûtkars, and it was the duty of the man with the bracelet to sit on this stone and to make the Melgars buffaloes pass on the right side, the Kars buffaloes on the left side, and the ti buffaloes in the middle. When he had done this, the palol prayed at the stone, and then the buffaloes of Melgars and Kars turned back and the ti buffaloes went on to Enòdr. When the man and his wife saw the buffaloes coming, they waited near Pidûtkars, and while they were waiting the baby laughed. The father asked the boy, “Why do you laugh?” The boy answered, “I know the kwarzam16 [205]of the ti buffaloes, perner persagun; I know the kwarzam of the Melgars buffaloes, narsüln natüln nâkh; also I know the kwarzam of the Kars buffaloes, inâtviḍshti inâtvan; that is why I laughed.” After the buffaloes had gone on to Enòdr, the parents and child went on their way to Melgars. After they had been at Melgars fifteen days, they noticed that the child grew so rapidly that they could see him getting bigger from day to day, and he was soon grown up. He was called Kwoto.

One day Kwoto went into the buffalo pen and played there with the buffalo-dung, so that he was covered with the dust of the dung. His father rebuked him and was blowing on him to get rid of the dust when the boy changed into a kite and flew away. The next day he resumed human form, but from that time he only stayed in the village at times, and at other times stayed in the woods. This went on for about eight days, and then he refused to take food from the village and became a companion of the gods.

At this time the gods used to hold councils on the slopes below a hill called Tikalmudri. The place where they sat was called Pòlkab. When the gods were holding council at Pòlkab, Kwoto went and sat on the top of the hill Tikalmudri. Then the gods said to one another, “How is it that he sits on the top of the hill while we sit below? It is not at all good.” They consulted together and decided to kill him. So three or four of the gods went to Kwoto and said in a cunning way, “We will show you your country” (i.e., the place which should belong to him; each of the gods had his appointed place). So they took him to a steep precipice called Teipâper, and having deceived him that they would show him his country, they threw him down. Kwoto, however, was not killed, but took the form of a kite and flew back to Tikalmudri. Then all the gods were surprised that he was not dead, but decided to try and kill him again, and they took him to the hill Kòdrtho, near Nidrsi, and threw him down. (The hill Kòdrtho was inhabited by the god Kòdrtho.) Kwoto was not killed, but pulled up a bamboo tree with its roots, and flew back and struck Kòdrtho on the head, and Kòdrtho’s head split into three pieces. One of these pieces is now the well-known [206]hill, the Drug, seen from Coonoor, while the other two pieces are eminences on the ridge running out to the Drug.

Kwoto then returned to Tikalmudri. The gods said, “We cannot kill him; he has some power; let us try his power.” So they gave him the following task:

“Peivoi Low tirikvâ, turn pîdâr high pîrichvâ?” fill?

i.e., “Can he turn the low stream and fill the high stream?” (According to another account the words in which the task was given were, “Alvoi tiriki, Kalvoi pîrsvôka,” i.e., “Can he turn the stream Alvoi and fill the stream Kalvoi?”)

Kwoto then took a huge stone, which may still be seen near Kanòdrs, and put it in the stream so that it flowed upwards. Then the stream begged Kwoto, “We are going upwards according to your order, but it is very difficult for us; we wish to be allowed to go our ordinary way.” So Kwoto took away the stone and the stream resumed its natural course.

The gods saw what Kwoto had done and decided to try his power in another way, so they said:

“Kânêr Sun ât, tie, kutei stone kurs chain ütia?” can he do?

i.e., “Can he tie the sun with a stone chain?” Kwoto then took a stone chain and tied it to the sun and brought the sun down to Nern, near Kanòdrs, and tied it to a tree. When the sun wanted to drink, Kwoto took it to the stream Kalvoi, from which the sun drank, and there is now to be seen a hole in this stream at the place where the sun drank.17 Then Kwoto took the sun to a pool surrounded by trees called Nerpoiker, also near Kanòdrs. While the sun was tied in this way, it was dark both in this world and in Amnòdr. Then the people of Amnòdr came to the gods and asked why they allowed Kwoto to do these things, and said that they were now living in thick darkness, and they begged that Kwoto should be allowed to put the sun back in its right place. Then the gods went to Kwoto and asked him to put the sun [207]back, and they acknowledged that he was a god and the most powerful of the gods. They said that he should no longer be called Kwoto, but that his name should be Meilitars, because he was superior to all the gods; also that he should go “parnur nòdr, putnur nòdr”, “to 1,600 places, 1,800 places,” i.e., he should not belong to one place only, like the other gods, but should go everywhere.

Then Meilitars put back the sun in its proper place.

(According to another version, the task of tying the sun was given in the words:

“Kânêr Male buffalo ât, tie, pîrsagun sun patrôkâ?” can he catch?

The sun was said to have been at this time sitting on the back of a male buffalo, and Kwoto was told to tie the buffalo and catch the sun. According to this account Kwoto first used an iron chain, kabantagars, which was melted by the heat of the sun. Next he tried a bronze (?) chain called kuchtagars, which also melted. Then he used a stone chain, or karstagars, which did not melt, and he succeeded in tying the sun with this. (This version of the story corresponds with that given by Breeks.)

Kwoto or Meilitars was closely connected with two clans, those of Melgars and Kanòdrs. It is said to be owing to the fact that Kwoto was a Melgars man that Melgars people have the special privileges and duties which are peculiar to that clan. At any rate, this is the view held by the people of Melgars. At Kanòdrs, the name of Kwoto occupies a prominent place in the prayer of the dairy, and several of the special features of the ritual of the Kanòdrs dairy are said to exist in consequence of the many wonderful things which Kwoto had done in its neighbourhood. When new buttermilk has to be made for Kanòdrs, it is made at a place called Kautarmad, far away, because Kwoto made new buttermilk there, and in the ceremony at this place earth is taken from certain places from which Kwoto took it.

Kwoto or Meilitars is the hero of several stories, in none of which does he play a very creditable rôle.

At one time the Todas used to go to and fro between this [208]world and Amnòdr. Those who were dead stayed permanently in Amnòdr, but living people could go to visit them and return. One day Punatvan of Kars went with Meilitars to Amnòdr. They stayed there two days and two nights, and then Meilitars came away without Punatvan’s knowledge. At that time the people of Kars were living at Nasmiòdr, so Meilitars went to Nasmiòdr and said that Punatvan intended to stop in Amnòdr, and wished the Kars people to perform the funeral ceremonies for him, killing thirty buffaloes. So the Kars people caught thirty buffaloes, the chief one being called Enmon. Round the neck of Enmon were hung the two bells (wursuli mani) called Karsod and Kòni. They cut a piece of stick and put it in a putkuli to represent the dead body and then killed the thirty buffaloes. As the buffaloes were on their way to Amnòdr, they met Punatvan on his way back. Punatvan asked the chief buffalo, Enmon, “Why do you come here?” Then Enmon told him what Meilitars had done. The man and buffalo put their heads together and cried, and their tears became a pool of water.18 Then Punatvan took the two bells from the neck of Enmon and sent them back to Nasmiòdr, where they are kept to this day, but he returned to Amnòdr with the buffaloes. Then Ön, the ruler of Amnòdr, ordered that in future no one should return to the world of the living from Amnòdr, and since that day the Todas have not been able to go to and fro between the two worlds as they used to do.

At the present time the people of Keradr have no ti. Once they had a ti which they lost through the action of Kwoto, who went one day to their dairy at Tîkîrs, near Mòdr, and, hiding the kaltmokh in the wood, took his place. When the palol milks, it is the duty of the kaltmokh to let out the calves and send them to the palol. Kwoto did not do this properly, but sent more calves than were required, so the palol became angry and took his stick (kwoinörtpet) to beat the supposed kaltmokh, but the stroke missed and fell on the palol himself.

Another day the palol told Kwoto to pour out the remainder [209]of the buttermilk at the appointed place. Instead of doing this Kwoto poured it into the stream, and the buttermilk so poured became a god called Mòraman, who sends smallpox.19 Then the palol became very angry and said he would no longer be palol, if he had to keep such a kaltmokh. Then Kwoto revealed to the palol and to the real kaltmokh that he was a god, and gave them a medicine called mûvòmad, which has the property that anyone who takes it will never grow old.

After giving mûvòmad to the palol and kaltmokh, Kwoto sent them into the air, together with the dairy and the buffaloes and everything belonging to the ti, and they all went in the air to Kupars, near Pan; they stayed there for some time and then disappeared, and now nothing can be seen of them, but if people go near Kupars, they hear the voices of the palol and kaltmokh when they are talking to one another.

Since that time the people of Keradr have been without a ti.

Another story in which Kwoto played a prominent part is connected with the custom of eating flesh. I received several versions of this story and was unable to satisfy myself which was correct.

According to one account Kwoto once went to Mitur in the Wainad, where Kurumbas live. Kwoto played with these people, and one day caught and killed a wild buffalo. He said to the Kurumbas, “I have killed this buffalo; let us eat its flesh”; and he gave to each a portion. The Kurumbas ate their portions, but Kwoto only pretended to eat; he held out his putkuli in front of him and instead of eating dropped his portions inside the cloak. When the Kurumbas had finished, Kwoto got up and all saw on the place where he had been sitting the flesh which he had pretended to eat. Then the Kurumbas were angry and went to beat Kwoto with sticks, asking why he had not eaten the flesh, and they insisted that Kwoto should eat some of it. Kwoto ran away, and when the Kurumbas pursued him he [210]pretended that he was lame and consented to eat some of the flesh of the buffalo. He also told them that he was a god and said that he would dance before them, and did so like a lame man. He told the Kurumbas that whenever he came in the future, he would dance to the Kurumbas first and then to the Todas; and now the Kwoto teuol, or diviner (see Chap. XII), when he dances, does so first to the Kurumbas, and when he dances before them he does so as if he were lame.

After this Kwoto disappeared and since that time has not been seen. He is said to live in a temple at Mitur, but “wherever there is a god, there also is Kwoto, or Meilitars.”

According to another account, this story was told of the people called Panins (Panyas), but in this version Kurumbas were also said to be present, though it was the Panins who were made to eat the flesh.

According to a third account, obtained, however, from an untrustworthy informant, Kwoto practised this deception on the gods themselves, and made them eat the flesh of a calf while only pretending to eat himself. This was said to have been the starting-point of the erkumptthpimi ceremony, and Kwoto was said to have killed the calf with the same formalities as are now used in this ceremony. All other Todas strenuously denied that Kwoto made the gods eat flesh. There was, however, so much reticence about the erkumptthpimi ceremony and its history, that I am not confident that Kwoto was not in some way connected with its origin, and that the version of my untrustworthy informant may in this case have been correct.


Other Gods

There are very many other deities. Of the following I can give little more than the names.

Atiato is the nòdrodchi of the Kwòdrdoni clan and also of Pedrkars. He lives near the chief villages of these clans, and has a temple of which the priest is said to be an Irula, and Todas sometimes give to this god offerings of clarified butter. [211]

Konto or Konteu is the nòdrodchi of the Panol, and lives on the hill Konto, to which fire is set by the palol of the Kars or Pan ti (see Chap. XIII).

Kòdrtho is the nòdrodchi of Nidrsi. He played a part in the history of Kwoto, and according to some accounts he was the mun, or maternal uncle, of this god.

Near the source of the Paikara river, there is a cave in which there is a pool called Alvoi. Sometimes this pool gives forth a loud bubbling noise, and this is believed to be due to a teu dipping himself in the water. The name of the god is Alvoi Kalvoi, Kalvoi, situated at some distance from the pool, being a hill on which the god usually lives.

There are other gods about whose histories I have no information. Tiligush is the nòdrodchi of Päm and Karadr of Taradr. Pòrzo inhabits a hill near Nòdrs, and Karzo, a hill near Kars, and the names of other gods, such as Kaladrvan, Teikhun, Peigwa, Karmunteu, Kondilteu and Mundilteu, are mentioned in the prayers of the ti dairies.

In addition to these, who are certainly true Toda gods, the Todas also pay respect to the gods of the other tribes on the Nilgiris, while occasionally the names of Hindu gods are mentioned in their ceremonies. If a Toda be asked if he worships one of these gods, he will almost certainly assent, but at the same time he distinguishes them from his own gods. The only deity who seemed to be confused with their own gods by some of the Todas was Petkon, whose Badaga name was said to be Betakarasami. Breeks calls him Betikhan, and states that he is a hunting god; and according to some Todas Petkon was a son of Teikirzi.

Previous accounts of the Toda gods have been very erratic. Some writers have given the names of Hindu gods. Breeks gives the names of dairies as those of gods, though he also records abbreviated versions of several of the stories given in this chapter. The most curious account, however, of the Toda gods is that of Marshall, who gives20 the following as the names of five gods which are muttered when milk is put on the sacred bells:—Ânmungâno, Godingâtho, Beligoshu, Dekulâria, and Kazudâva. We puzzled over these words for [212]a long time, and could not discover the names of gods even remotely resembling them. Finally it became clear that the last was “kars ud âva” (“Give me one rupee”). Similarly there was little doubt that “Beligoshu, Dekulâria” stood for “beli karsu tudkersia” (“Will you not give me a silver coin?”), the Badaga equivalent of the last word being very much like Dekulâria. The first two names we could not identify with certainty, but the first is possibly “en mûn gânei” (“Do not see my face”), and the second is possibly the name of a Badaga buffalo-pen. [213]

1 This account of the creation of men and buffaloes was obtained from Arsolv (27) of Kanòdrs, one of the oldest living Todas. It agrees very closely with the story as related to Mr. Breeks. 

2 According to another account, Püv died from trying to catch the image of a white calf in the water. At that time, it was the custom to kill and bury any calf of a white colour, and one had been buried close to the spring. 

3 Usually called petkuter

4 These are quite unlike Toda names, nor is the name of the village, Mîtâhârzti, like a Toda name. 

5 ? Pòdrâni or pudrâni. 

6 I do not know exactly to which ceremonies tatòtiti and muòtiti refer. The words mean “he takes the tat” and “he takes the mu,” and evidently refer to some dairy ceremonial. Ponkastiti probably means that he kept pon throughout the year—i.e., gave or sold nothing from his dairy during the year. 

7 A spirit which brings death (see p. 403). 

8 When Keikarskutan shot the bow and arrow he lay down. According to my informants, Keikarskutan lay down to shoot the bow and arrow because he was lame, but shot it in the ordinary way and did not use his legs in doing so. Breeks, who gives a brief version of this legend, was told that the arrow was shot by means of the legs and refers to this method as the ancient Indian custom. 

9 I give this as it was told. 

10 To meet this bird going from right to left is a bad omen; if going from left to right, it is a good omen. 

11 I could not find out the exact meaning of this word, but it appeared to be a name for the blood-stained froth which may come from the mouth of a dying man. In a sentence which occurs later the word appears as pògh (blood), but my informants were certain that pug itself is not blood. 

12 See p. 616

13 This is a creeper used in the funeral ceremonies. 

14 Probably the tree or bush from which the material called twadrinar is manufactured by the Todas. 

15 My informants could not say whether the boy went away in the air as a child or as a kite. The boy often assumed the form of a kite later, and it is tempting to suppose that the assumption of this form by the child was connected with the death of the kite, i.e., that it was a case of transmigration. The fact that the child went away in the air and was found sitting on a tree makes it highly probable that it flew in the form of a kite, but my informants could not say that this was definitely part of the legend. 

16 The kwarzam is the name used in prayer (see Chap. X). 

17 This place is close to the spot at which the path from Pishkwosht (Bikkapatimand) to Kodanad crosses a stream soon after leaving the former village. 

18 This pool has been converted into the Marlimand reservoir, the source of the water-supply of Ootacamund. 

19 The Hindu god who sends smallpox is Mari or Mariaman. The Toda name for buttermilk is mòr

20 P. 142. 




In the chapters in which the ritual of the dairies has been described, one of the most important features of the ceremonial has been passed over which must now be fully described. This feature is the prayer which is always offered at certain stages of the dairy operations. In the village dairies, of whatever kind they may be, no prayer is offered at the morning ceremonial. In the evening the prayer of the dairy is recited twice—once when lighting the lamp, and once when shutting the buffaloes in their enclosure for the night, the prayer on this occasion being said in front of the entrance to the pen.

At the ti dairy the palol prays both morning and evening. In the morning he prays when lighting the lamp and after he has finished milking; in the evening prayer is offered on both these occasions, and also when shutting up the buffaloes for the night. The palol also repeats a few clauses when going out to milk. Prayers are said on certain other ceremonial occasions, and clauses from the prayers are frequently uttered during the many ceremonies of the dairy.

At the evening ceremonial of the village dairy the prayer is said when the lamp is lighted, while during the morning ceremonial, at which the lamp is usually not lighted, there is no prayer. This suggests that the prayer is especially related to the lamp-lighting, and that some idea of worship of the light is involved, but occasionally for some special reason, such as unusual darkness, the lamp may be lighted in the morning, and on these occasions the prayer is not used. Nevertheless, the relation between lamp-lighting and prayer [214]both at the village and ti dairies has probably some significance, and, taken in conjunction with the undoubted salutation of the sun, it points to some degree of worship of light and its sources which may at one time have formed a more marked feature of the Toda religion than seems at present to be the case.

The prayer when shutting up the buffaloes for the night is common to both ti and village dairies. The night is the dangerous time for Toda buffaloes, which are not infrequently killed by tigers, and the prayer on the occasion of closing the pen is probably designed to promote their safety.

At the prayer uttered at the close of the milking at the ti dairy the palol adopts a special attitude which is shown in Fig. 28. He prays leaning on his wand, the pohvet, with his hands crossed over one another. This attitude is not employed in the village dairy, and only on this occasion at the ti dairy.

In all cases the prayer is uttered “in the throat,” so that the words cannot be distinguished by any one who may hear them. Whenever I listened to the recital of a prayer as it was being offered by a dairyman within the dairy, I heard only a gurgling noise in which no words could be distinguished. On one occasion I was allowed to approach the ti dairy at Mòdr while the first prayer was being offered by the palol. I heard the beating on the persin (see p. 92) which accompanies this prayer, and at intervals in the monotonous sound produced by the voice of the palol there were pauses. As we shall see, the prayer of the ti has certain sections which are distinguished from one another, and it seemed possible that these pauses marked off the different portions of the prayer, but it was clear that this was not the case, the palol only stopping when the necessity for taking a new breath became imperative.

Each village has its own prayer, and so far as I could ascertain this prayer is used in all the dairies of the village; thus I believe that at Taradr the same prayer would be used in both kugvali and tarvali. This is not, however, a point on which I can speak positively, for there was much reluctance to talk about this subject and many of the Todas absolutely [215]refused to discuss it. One point seemed quite clear, at any rate among the Teivaliol, viz., that the different villages of a clan had different prayers, though often with many clauses in common.

In general, the prayer of the ti is longer and more elaborate than that of the village dairy. Different prayers are used at different dairies of the same ti, though here again they may have many clauses in common.

In all cases the prayer consists of two distinct parts: a preliminary portion consisting chiefly of names known as kwarzam, followed by a portion which may be regarded as the prayer proper.

The prayer proper should be the same in every dairy, but it seemed to me that there was a good deal of laxity as regards this portion, and there is no doubt that it is often slurred over hastily and is less strictly regulated than the preliminary portion of the prayer.

The following is the most generally accepted form:

Tânenmâ; may it be well
may be blessed;
târmâmâ; may it be well
may be merciful;
îr kark tânenmâ; with the buffaloes and calves may it be well; nûv ârk mâ; may there be no disease; kazun ârk mâ; may there be no destroyer; nudri ârk mâ; may there be no poisonous animals (snakes and insects); kâvel ârk mâ; may there be no wild beasts (tigers, &c.); per kârt pâ mâ; may be kept from (falling down) steep hills; pustht kârt pâ mâ; may be kept from floods; tüt ârk mâ; may there be no fire; mâ un mâ; may rain fall; maj eu mâ; may clouds rise; pul pûv mâ; may grass flourish; nîr ûr mâ. may water spring.

The prayer then concludes with the names of two of the most important gods or objects of reverence, followed by the words:

âtham them idith for the sake of emk for (or to) us tânenmâ. may it be well.

There does not seem to be any strict regulation as to the clauses of the prayer, and in different versions some of the [216]given above were omitted, while others were added, especially requests for protection against special animals, as pob ârk mâ, “may there be no snakes,” and pîrzi ârk mâ, “may there be no tigers.” One man concluded with the words erdâdrsink erdâdri ini, “I know half to pray, I know not half to pray,”1 but I do not know whether this was an individual peculiarity or a special feature of the prayer of his dairy.

It seemed clear that the whole prayer referred to the buffaloes. It may be summarised as follows:

“May it be well with the buffaloes, may they not suffer from disease or die, may they be kept from poisonous animals and from wild beasts and from injury by flood or fire, may there be water and grass in plenty.”

The first part of the prayer contains a number of clauses each of which usually consists of the name of an object of reverence followed by the word idith (often contracted into ith). This word is said to mean “for the sake of,” so that the prayer as a whole seems to consist of clauses mentioning a number of objects of reverence for the sake of which the prayer is said, followed by the prayer consisting of clauses directed to avert evils or bring blessings on the buffaloes of the dairy. The word idith is used in the sense of “for the sake of” in ordinary language. Thus, “for my sake, leave him,” would be “en idith, an pidr” (me for the sake of, him leave).

The objects of more or less sanctity thus mentioned in the prayer are not called by their usual names, but are referred to by means of special names to which the general term of kwarzam is given. In some cases the kwarzam differs little from the ordinary name, while in other cases it bears no resemblance to it.

The kwarzam mentioned in the prayer fall into several groups: there are the kwarzam of the gods, of the buffaloes, of the villages, of the dairy and of its various parts, vessels and implements. In some cases, especially in the case of the ti, we shall find that different dairies differ in the prominence given to each kind of kwarzam; that the prayer of one place [217]consists chiefly of kwarzam of the dairy, while in the prayer of another the kwarzam of the gods or of the buffaloes predominate.

In some prayers there occur kwarzam of a special kind containing references to incidents in legend—incidents which occurred in the life of some deity especially connected with the dairy at which the prayer is used, or other kwarzam may refer to incidents in the history of the dairy or of the village in which the dairy is situated.

I had great difficulty in obtaining examples of the prayers, or rather of those portions consisting of the kwarzam of the sacred objects. There was little objection to giving the prayer proper; it was only when the kwarzam were approached that the difficulty arose. It was evident that it was this portion of the prayer which was regarded as especially sacred and mysterious, and this was doubtless due to the mention of sacred beings and objects by their sacred names.

With much difficulty I succeeded in obtaining the prayers of four village dairies, three belonging to the Kuudrol, while the fourth was the prayer, or part of the prayer, of the Kanòdrs poh. I was also successful in obtaining two ti prayers and fragments of others.


The Village Prayer

The following are the kwarzam of the prayer used in the dairy of the village of Kuudr, the etudmad of the Kuudr clan. On the left-hand side of the page are given the kwarzam, each of which is followed by the word idith when the prayer is uttered. On the right-hand side of the page are given the objects, beings or incidents to which the kwarzam refer.


Prayer of Kuudr

Atthkâr Kuudr village and probably also the Kuudr clan or Kuudro.
òners Kuudr village.
palitûdrpali large dairy at Kuudr (tûdrpali).
palikidpali small dairy at Kuudr (kidpali).
tûdrpalshpelk lamp (pelk) of large dairy.
kidpalshpep all the sacred objects of small dairy. [218]
tûtòdrtho large buffalo-pen () at Kuudr.
tûkidtû small buffalo-pen () at Kuudr.
kadrtorikkadr calf enclosure (kadr) at Kuudr.
keishkvet sacred buffaloes (pasthîr) of Kuudr.
tarskivan ordinary buffaloes (putiîr).
känpep portion of buttermilk (pep) originally given by Teikirzi for pasthîr.
âtthpep portion of pep for putiîr.
mutchudkars stone in buffalo-pen at Kuudr where the vessels of the large dairy are purified.
tarskikars stone in pen where the vessels of the small dairy are purified.
nîrkiznîr sacred dairy spring of Kuudr.
Eikisiov a buffalo whose milk was the origin of the spring.
Pülmâlpül a hill near Kuudr.
Emalpûv a buffalo which once lived at Kuudr.
Kakathûmûk a hill near Kuudr.
Karstum a buffalo which once died on this hill.
teikhkwadiki a tree by which the dairy vessel called mu is buried (see p. 170).
manikiars the kiars tree by which the sacred bell (mani) is laid when the dairy things are being purified.
Keikars a hill near Kuudr.
keitnòdi hill near which the erkumptthiti ceremony is performed (see Chap. XIII).
petüt pati pethût ir chief buffaloes given when Teikirzi divided the buffaloes with wand in hand (see p. 186). Literally, “wand with divide chief buffaloes.”
pûthion nâkh tarzâr maj calf which was the ancestor of the Kuudr putiîr.

Thus, the prayer would run, “Atthkâr idith; òners idith; palitûdrpali idith; .…. and the translation would run, “For the sake of the village and clan of Kuudr; for the sake of the village of Kuudr; for the sake of the large dairy of Kuudr;.…” as far as the end of the kwarzam given above, and then would follow the prayer proper, “tanenma, tarmama,.…”

This prayer begins with two kwarzam of the village or clan, followed by others referring to the dairies and dairy vessels, buffalo pens and buffaloes. Then follow certain kwarzam of the pep or buttermilk which is of so much importance in the dairy ritual, and those of stones which play a part in the ceremonies attending purification of the dairy vessels. After the kwarzam of the dairy spring, there follow a number of kwarzam referring to certain incidents in the [219]history of the dairy. Eikisiov is the kwarzam of a buffalo which was one day being milked at Kuudr when some of the milk was spilt on the ground. From that day the ground became swampy, and on digging, a spring of water was found which has ever since been used as the dairy spring and is called kiznîr. The two following kwarzam refer to incidents of which I have no record. Karstum is the kwarzam of a buffalo which was one day grazing on the hill Kakathûmûk when it began to bellow and could not be induced to stop; the people tried to take it back to the pen, but it would not go and died on the hill, and has ever since been remembered in the prayer. These kwarzam are followed by two referring to trees of ceremonial importance—one the tree by which is buried the mu on the integrity of which the continuity of the dairy procedure depends, while the other is connected with the sacred bell.

Then follow the kwarzam of a hill on which there are cairns and that of the sacrificial place of the village. The prayer concludes with two kwarzam of a different kind. The first refers to the act of the goddess Teikirzi, who portioned the buffaloes and assigned to each clan its share. In so doing we have seen that she touched each buffalo on the back with her wand, saying in each case to whom the buffalo should belong, and this act is commemorated in the prayer in the form, “for the sake of the dividing of the chief buffaloes with the wand.” The last kwarzam is that of the calf, from which the ordinary buffaloes or putiîr of Kuudr are descended, but I was unable to ascertain the meaning of the words, except nakh, which is the name of a three-year-old buffalo.

In the Kuudr prayer several of the kwarzam refer to incidents of a more or less miraculous nature which are believed to have happened at the village where the prayer is used, while the last kwarzam but one refers to one of the chief events of Toda mythology.

It will be noticed that many of the kwarzam used in this prayer correspond very closely to the names in ordinary use. Some, such as keitnòdi and teikhkwadiki, are the same words as those in general use, while others differ from [220]the ordinary words in the reduplication of part of the name, tûdrpali becoming palitûdrpali and kiznîr becoming nîrkiznîr.


Prayer of Kiudr

The following are the kwarzam of the prayer used at Kiudr, which is one of the most sacred of Toda villages.

Kwarzam of
Kîlvòh the dairy at Kiudr.
kerâni one of the patatmani of Kiudr.
mêdrâni the other patatmani.
pongg one of the ertatmani.
nongg another ertatmani.
pelteirzi the lamp of the dairy.
îrtîrzi also the lamp.
känmûv the way by which the dairyman goes from the dairy to milk; the punetkalvol.
nîrtâkh the dairy stream.
nîrtîrshki also the dairy stream.
keitu the buffalo-pen.
tülivaners the posts at the entrance of the buffalo-pen.
tashtpâlûv the bars of the entrance of the pen.
kadrtûlikkadr the calf enclosure.
arkatchar the household stream.
inerti also the household stream.
ârsvitchkârs the house (ars) at Kiudr.
eivitchâv also the house.
nersâdrvel the milking place.
keikûdr the stream which runs between the house and the dairy (see 307).
kwoteiners all of Kiudr village.
arspem slope of hill (pem) near Kiudr.

The special features of the Kiudr prayer are the large number of kwarzam of the village and the inclusion of the kwarzam of the house and household stream. The prayer of Kiudr is the only Toda prayer in which either the house or household stream is mentioned, and this fact is in accordance with the high degree of sanctity which has become attached to this village. It will be noticed also that [221]the buffaloes are not mentioned, and that nearly all the clauses of the prayer apply to the buildings and their contents or to other parts of the village or to the village itself. Only the last kwarzam of the prayer applies to a place not actually in the village itself, and I could not ascertain why this place was so favoured. With this exception, the Kiudr prayer is one in which the kwarzam are entirely limited to those of the village and the dairy.

It will be remembered that when the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti migrate from Mòdr to Anto they pass by the village of Kiudr, and that the occasion is observed in various ways by the people of the village (see p. 135). I was told that certain kwarzam referring to this occasion are used in the Kiudr prayer. According to one man, these kwarzam are always recited in the prayer before those which have been already given, but others denied that they were so used. It is possible that these kwarzam are only said on special occasions, such as the day of migration, or it may be that they were formerly used, but are now being forgotten.

These kwarzam are as follow:

uner pâgit nòdr ti buffaloes, come near country.
unkeu pâgit nòdr bell of wars dairy, come near country.
eupalol pâgit nòdr god palol, come near country.
eutuni pâgit nòdr god tuni, come near country.
eitût pâgit nòdr hair done up, come near country (this has reference to the practice of tying the hair which is followed by the palol when engaged at his sacred work (p. 92).
Teigun ürpit nòdr horn (of warsir) blow country.
Kiudkudr ürpit nòdr horn (of liir) blow country.

Then follow the kwarzam already given.

These kwarzam are of a different form from those used in the general form of prayer, and the various persons or objects mentioned are referred to either by their usual names or by slight modifications of them, as in eupalol or euvalol and eutuni. There seemed to be no doubt that these words were abbreviations of teupalol and teutuni, the omission of an initial t being not uncommon in the Toda language. Thus in this prayer the dairyman is called “god palol,” and his garment “god tuni.” [222]


Prayer of Kwirg

Kwirg is one of the villages of the Kuudrol and is the place to which their buffaloes go when it is necessary to make new pep for the whole clan.

Kwatakwirg Kwirg village.
kûlpudshol Kwirg village.
palikeithiolv the dairy.
tûmadshû the pen.
kadrkeiri the kadr (calf enclosure).
nîrtiûdsh the dairy stream.
pinpunûv a hill.
pilkârs a hill.
âtthpep see Kuudr prayer.
petüt pati pethût îr
pûthion nâkh tarzâr maj

It will be seen that many of the clauses are common to this prayer and that of Kuudr.

The three kwarzam of pep were said to be used in every dairy of the Kuudrol, but it did not appear that they were used at Kiudr. The third, mutchudpep, is not included in the Kuudr prayer, but mutchudkars appears in its place. Two hills are mentioned in the Kwirg prayer, but there are none of the references to special events connected with the village such as exist in the prayer of Kuudr.


The Prayer of the Kanòdrs Dairy

When I was staying at Pishkwosht and visited the conical dairy at Kanòdrs with Neratkutan, he told me that the prayer of this dairy had forty kwarzam referring to the gods, as well as many of other kinds, but on going into detail I could only obtain the following:—

Pâr nûr teu the 1600 gods.
pût nûr teu the 1800 gods.
Kwoto Kwoto or Meilitars (see p. 203).[223]
Atioto Atioto (see p. 210).
Kurindei teu Kurindo (see p. 192).
Konteu Konteu or Konto (see p. 211).
Anteu Anto (see p. 188).
Pòrzo Pòrzo see p. 211.
Kòdrtho Kòdrtho
Kârzo Karzo
Teikhunteu Teikhun
mänpóh Kanòdrs village.
mutîrshpóh ditto.
tûnertû the pen.
kânêr the sun ? (see p. 206).
kuteikurs the stone chain used by Kwoto (see p. 207).
aners Kuzhu village.
tûtashki Pishkwosht village.

This prayer is quite unlike those of the other village dairies and was much more like that of a ti dairy. As we have seen, the poh of Kanòdrs resembles a ti dairy both in the elaborateness of its ritual and in the high degree of sanctity of its dairyman, and this resemblance is now seen to extend to the prayer used in the dairy ritual.

Other dairies of the Tartharol which have an especial degree of sanctity are the kugvali of Taradr and the conical dairy of Nòdrs. I made great endeavours to obtain the prayers used in these places, but without success.


The ti Prayer

The prayers offered at the ti dairies are as a general rule longer and more complex than those of the ordinary village dairy. The latter portion of the prayer, or the prayer proper, does not seem to differ from that of the ordinary dairy, the differences being in the kwarzam recited at the beginning. The different dairies of the same ti may have different prayers; thus, at the Nòdrs ti there is a special prayer for the dairy at Anto which is longer and more complicated than that used at Mòdr, but it is probable that this is exceptional and is owing to the great antiquity and sanctity of Anto. The other dairies of this ti probably use much the same prayer as at Mòdr, though there may be certain slight modifications at each. [224]


The Anto Prayer

This prayer is characterised by a very large number of kwarzam referring to the dairy, its contents and surroundings. On ordinary days a shortened form of the prayer is used which consists wholly of kwarzam of this kind. On special days, such as the occasions of ponup and irnödrthiti, other kwarzam are said, including those of gods and buffaloes.

The following kwarzam are those in daily use, each being followed by the word idith as in the village prayer:—

Kwarzam of
Anto the ti.
eithipôh ditto.
mêdrpôh the ti poh.
pôhtîrzh the wars poh.
ûv the milking place (pepkarmus).
pero the special pen used on the night before the ponup ceremony.
keirv the pen used on the night before the migration of the buffaloes.
kâtû the ordinary pen.
Teirz a hill near the dairy on which Anto lives.
tîlkav the back of the dairy (pohpalikef).
îrbâr the way by which the kaltmokh goes to and from the dairy.
Pîthipôh the cave where the Pithi was born (see p. 184).
nersâvul sacred path to the dairy by which the mani, pep, &c., are taken.
karkadr path by which ordinary people approach the dairy.
tadipül ditto.
einpül path by which the palol goes to draw water.
panpül path by which the palol returns from drawing water.
Kiûln a hill near the dairy.
Keini another hill.
titkîn stream at which the palol bathes and washes his garments.
tîtòr stone by this stream marking the spot by which the palol bathes, &c.
teirpül spot at which the palol halts and prays for the third time during the procession to Anto (see p. 135).
teirpôh ditto.
nîrkûli place at which palol and kaltmokh defæcate.
Katthvai hill near Anto (see p. 188).
Kubul ditto.
Ködrs place near Anto (see p. 188).
Tudrs ditto.
teibithikars stone rolled by Anto.
teibithival lower part of the hill Katthvai (see above).


On ordinary days these kwarzam are followed by the prayer tanenma tarmama, &c. On special occasions the following kwarzam are inserted between those already given and the prayer proper:—

Kwarzam of
Ekîrzam meidjam Teikirzi, Tirshti.
Kûdreij Kudreiil dairy.
tîdj ditto.
Kûlâdrtho Kuladrtho dairy.
Perithi ti vaners ti dairy at Perithi in the Wainad.
Kòti One of the hills at which fire is lighted by the palol at the teutütusthchi ceremony (see p. 291).
pagvôh ditto.
Pûthi another hill at which fire is lighted.
ânul ditto.
Kûlinkârs Kulinkars (see p. 188).
Nòtîtrzivan Nòtirzi (see p. 189).
Kuzkârv Korateu (see p. 190).
unir one group of tiir (see p. 112).
unkeu mani of wars dairy.
Persin mani of ti dairy.
kûdrs mani bells of punir.
tadsth axe which came from Amnòdr with the buffaloes.
tâpâr an iron bar.
âter the second group of tiir (see p. 112).
teiter the third group of tiir.
Keirz the buffalo which has the mani called Keu put on its neck.
pîlti buffaloes (unir).
persv ditto.
Keirv buffalo which drinks pep on day of migration (see p. 135).
Kîthi buffalo which wears the kudrs mani.
kudûvòrs the path at Mòdr by which ordinary people approach the dairy.
tadrpòrs place near Mòdr at which the palol and kaltmokh defæcate.
tarikipül place near Mòdr where the erkumptthpimi ceremony is performed.
kidkadr calves’ hut (karenpoh) at Mòdr.
ponpôh ti dairy at Mòdr.
kidpôh wars dairy at Mòdr.
Òdrtho ti dairy at Òdrtho.
Kûdreiil wars dairy at Kudreiil.
munârten a ti dairy.

The following is all I was able to obtain of the prayer used at Mòdr:—“Ekîrzam meidjam idith, Anto eithipôh idith, Kûlinkârs idith, Nòtîrzivan idith, Kûlâdrvan idith, Teukuteithi idith, Kûdreij tîdj idith, Kuzkârv idith, Alvoi Kalvoi [226]idith, tanenma tarmama,” &c. Two of these kwarzam, “Teukuteithi idith” and “Alvoi Kalvoi idith” are not mentioned in the Anto prayer. I have no doubt that the list of kwarzam is very incomplete.


The Prayer of Makars

The following is the prayer used at Makars, the chief dairy of the Kars ti. The kwarzam of the dairy are here comparatively few in number, but the prayer is especially rich in the kwarzam of gods and buffaloes, and it furnishes a very good example of the relation of the prayer formulæ to the Toda legends.

The kwarzam of the prayer run as follow:—

Anto The god Anto.
Nòtîrzivan Nòtirzi.
Kûlinkârs Kulinkars or Teikhars.
Kuzkârv Korateu.
Onkonm Onkonm who lives on a hill in the Kundahs.
Ekîrzam meidjam Teikirzi and Tirshti.
Azo Azo and Mazo.
Katadrvanpoh place near Kûlinkars.
Peigwa god living on hill near Makurti Peak.
Karmunteu Karmunteu.
Kotzgârth the Paikara river (Teipakh).
Kondilteu Kondilteu, a god opposite the hill of Kòti.
Mûndilteu a god on a hill near the last.
Onûlvpoh place near Majòdr.
Kûlâdrazenteu god on a hill near Kuladrtho.
kaban adi arten teu “iron door shut god.”
kaban kûl eiten teu “iron stick held god.”
mòrs ver arten teu mòrs tree under event god.”
kûghîr kùdr kwaten teu “crooked horned buffalo horn cut god.”
tebkúter at, tan mun madrik teu “imitation buffalo horns took, his mother’s brother’s lap god.”
mâvel kâritan teu “sambhar from calved god.” (The last six kwarzam refer to the story of Kuzkarv (see p. 190).
pülnerkûrz buffaloes of called pürsîr.
tetnîrkan ditto.
pirsk muneki potitth îr “sun to facing that came buffalo.”[227]
nerk muneki potitth îr “bell to facing that came buffalo.”
putûḍr mun kekitth îr tûḍr tree back (face?) rubbed buffalo.”
Kitheri kûtk ethkitth îr “Kitheri stream to jumped buffalo.”
pâtûsh kattith îr “desolate pen from made buffalo.”
Warwark ethkitth îr “Warwar (stream) to jumped buffalo.”
ö khuberam kitj erditth êram “seven heaps buffalo-dung fire set buffaloes.”
pêrnêr bell (mani) or pürs dairy.
unêr ditto.
persagun mani of pars dairy.
talg ditto.
nârvtüls lamp.
poikar pürs dairy.
pârsvôh pars dairy.
tînnudri pen.
kakûnnudri ditto.
nîrkar dairy spring.
tülinîr ditto.
pünpôh dairy at Enòdr.
kâtû pen at Enòdr.
pünnîr spring at Enòdr.
Enòdr Enòdr ti mad.
mêdrpôh dairy at Pars.
peiltû pen at Pars.
tülinîr spring at Pars.
Pars Pars ti mad.
âtârnudri dairy at Neradr.
nêrieners pen at Neradr.
Neradr Neradr ti mad.
pülvôh dairy at Kòn.
aners ditto.
tedrvâs pen at Kòn.
pûvârsnîr spring at Kòn.
Kòn Kòn ti mad.

Then follow “tanenma tarmama,” &c.

The kwarzam of the prayer given above are arranged in a definite order. First come the kwarzam of sixteen gods or of hills or places closely connected with gods, then follow six kwarzam referring to various incidents in the life of the god Korateu. These are followed by two kwarzam of buffaloes, and then follow six referring to various features of the founding of Makars, of which an account has been given on [228]p. 116. Then follows a kwarzam relating to an incident which is probably recent. The palol of this ti used to make seven heaps of the dung of the buffaloes. There is a law that the dung should not be sold, which the palol disobeyed, and soon after a fire broke out suddenly from the seven heaps, and this event is commemorated in the prayer by means of the kwarzam meaning “seven heaps of buffalo-dung, fire set buffaloes,” and is included among the kwarzam relating to buffaloes, probably because there was a belief that the anger of the buffaloes was the cause of the fire.

The buffalo kwarzam are followed by eleven referring to the bells of the ti and to the dairy, pen and spring of Makars, and these are followed by kwarzam referring to the other places of the ti—viz., Enòdr, Pars, Neradr, and Kòn. In each case there are said the kwarzam of the dairy, pen, spring, and place except in the case of Neradr, where for some reason the kwarzam of the spring is omitted.

The feature of the Makars prayer which is especially interesting is the reference to legend in the kwarzam. This reference occurs in the Kuudr prayer and in those of Kanòdrs and Anto, but the references are far more elaborate in the Makars prayer. These references were very useful in providing incidental confirmation of the details of legends previously obtained, while in other cases they put me on the track of stories which I might otherwise have failed to obtain. One point of interest connected with them is that, in the absence of the legends, they might easily be supposed to be meaningless sentences. We have seen that there is reason to believe that the Todas are forgetting much of their mythology, and if the legends referred to in the Makars prayer should be forgotten, these kwarzam would become meaningless formulæ. This appears to have happened already in some cases; there were certain kwarzam of which I could obtain no translation; thus, all the kwarzam of the clans and villages were of this nature and could not be explained, though they almost certainly had a definite origin. A good instance of a kwarzam which is on its way towards a similar fate is that at the end of the Kuudr prayer. The meaning of only one word was clear—viz. nâkh—while maj was probably the word for cloud, and [229]the kwarzam appears to refer to some incident of legend in which a three-year-old calf and a cloud were concerned, but I could obtain no record of the incident, nor of the legend of which the incident was a feature.

I have treated these formulæ of the dairy as prayers, and I think there can be very little doubt that they are of the nature of supplications, and are believed to invoke the aid of the gods in protecting the sacred buffaloes. It must be confessed, however, that there is no actual evidence in the formulæ of direct invocation of the gods. The name of no god is mentioned in the vocative form. In some prayers there is barely mention of a god at all, if the term ‘god’ be limited to the anthropomorphic beings of the hill-tops.

The exact relation between the formula and the gods largely depends on the exact meaning of the word idith, which is not quite clear. But, whatever the meaning of this word, it is evident that it is used in exactly the same way in the case of a god as in the case of a buffalo, a place, a dairy vessel, or other even meaner object.

Perhaps the nearest approach to an appeal to gods in the prayer is in the words at the end, in which the names of certain gods are mentioned, followed by the words âtham idith emk tânenmâ, “for their sake may it be well for us.”

There is little doubt that the Todas offer prayers to their gods in their ordinary daily life, altogether apart from the dairy ritual. I was told by one man that when anyone leaves an etudmad he should pray that he may return safely, and in this case my informant said that he prayed to Teikirzi. Unfortunately I did not ask the exact form of the prayer, and do not know whether the goddess was invoked by name or whether kwarzam were uttered of the same form as in the prayer of the dairy. We may, however, be confident that the idea of supplication to the gods is not foreign to the Toda mind.

We shall see later that in the formulæ used in Toda sorcery, the names of gods are mentioned, followed by the same word idith which is used in the dairy formulæ. In the magical formulæ the evidence of appeal to deities is somewhat stronger than in the case of the dairy formulæ, [230]which are certainly of a religious character. It seems most likely that the word idith was at one time used especially in connexion with the names of gods, and carried with it some idea of supplication. Gradually other sacred objects were included in the prayer, the same form being used for them as for the gods, this inclusion being prompted by the belief that the mention of any sacred object might help to promote the efficacy of the prayer. Later, when any mysterious and seemingly miraculous incident occurred at a village, it seems to have become the custom to commemorate it in the prayer.

It is quite clear that at the present time the earlier portion of the prayer, consisting of the kwarzam, is regarded as more important than the latter portion, which reads like the actual prayer. I suspect even that in practice the prayer proper is often omitted, or that only the first two words, tanenma, tarmama, are said. There certainly seemed to be no very rigorous laws as to the exact number or order of the clauses of this part of the prayer. The earlier portion, on the other hand, is very strictly regulated, and the order in which the kwarzam are to be uttered is definitely prescribed. Certainly there is far more reticence in connexion with the kwarzam, and this may safely be taken to indicate that a higher degree of sanctity attaches to them than to the words of the prayer proper.

It is probable that the alteration in the relative importance attached to the two parts of the prayer would have to go little further in order to produce a state of things in which the Toda dairyman would use the first parts of the formulæ only, and an anthropologist visiting the Todas at this stage would find them using formulæ which would not be recognisable as prayer.

If, at the same time, the process of forgetting their mythology should also have advanced, the Todas would then provide an excellent example of a people using in their religious ritual meaningless forms of words, and the Toda kwarzam seem to furnish one way in which people may come to use such meaningless forms. [231]

1 Erd means two, and this translation is a free rendering of the Toda words, though it probably conveys the proper meaning. 




In the preceding chapters I have given an account of an elaborate ritual wholly connected with the buffalo and with the dairy. This ritual is certainly of a religious character, and, though there is much in the nature of the dairy formulæ which is uncertain, there can be little doubt that they are intercessory and that they bring the dairy operations into definite relations with the Toda deities.

It seems most probable that the general idea underlying the dairy ritual is that the dairyman is dealing with a sacred substance, the milk of the buffaloes. This sacred substance is to be converted into other substances, butter and buttermilk, which are to be used by the profane. At the present time much of the butter goes to those who are not even Todas and are regarded by the Todas as inferior beings.

It seems most probable that the elaborate ritual has grown up as a means of counteracting the dangers likely to be incurred by this profanation of the sacred substance, or, in other words, as a means of removing a taboo which prohibits the general use of the substance.

Similarly the migration ceremonies have the general underlying idea of counteracting any possible evil influence which may accompany the passage of the buffaloes through the profane world from one sacred place to another. During the migration, objects may be seen by the multitude which under ordinary circumstances are strictly screened from the general gaze, and objects may be touched, or be in danger of being touched, by people who ordinarily may not even see them. [232]

Again, the ceremonies connected with entrance upon any dairy office are intended to purify the candidate and make him fit to see and touch and use the sacred objects.

The purpose of some of the other ceremonies is less obvious. The irpalvusthi ceremony seems to be of the nature of a thanksgiving, one of its most important features being a feast, but in this feast people may partake of the milk of sacred buffaloes, which is not ordinarily used by them, and there is a suggestive resemblance to those religious ceremonies in which communion is held with the divine by eating or drinking the divine.

The salt-giving ceremonies seem to point to a time when salt was difficult to procure. According to the Todas the object of these ceremonies is to ensure a plentiful supply of milk. There is a belief that salt is beneficial to the buffaloes, and the occasions on which the salt is given have become religious ceremonies which at the ponup of the ti have reached a high degree of elaboration with very special relations to the chief gods of the dairy. The ceremonies of making new pep are especially mysterious, and I will reserve some speculations as to the general idea underlying them till later (see p. 242).


Comparison of the Procedure of Different Dairies

One of the most striking features of the ritual in all its branches is its increasing elaboration and complexity from the lowest to the highest grade of dairy.

One of the details of the ritual which runs through the whole series of dairies is the separation between the vessels and objects which come into contact with the buffaloes or their milk, and those which come into contact with the outside world, or with the products of the churning which may go to the outside world.

In the proceedings with the milk of the ordinary buffaloes in the huts where the people live, there is, so far as I know, no distinction of this kind.

In the lowest grade of dairy we already meet with the [233]separation. All the vessels are kept in the same room, but in different parts of the room, the patatmar and the ertatmar, and this distinction between the two sets of objects is kept up in the migration ceremonies where they are carried by different men.

There are no striking differences in this respect between the lower grades of dairy, whether tarvali, kudrpali, or wursuli; in all, the two sets of vessels are separated, but no strict measures are taken to prevent a vessel of the patatmar from coming into contact with a vessel of the ertatmar during the dairy operations. It is only on reaching the kugvali of Taradr that we find an intermediate vessel, the kuvun, used to transfer substances from a vessel of the more sacred to one of the less sacred kind, and to prevent possible contamination of the former by the latter.

It is in the ti dairy that these precautions reach their highest degree of development. Here the two sets of vessels are kept in different rooms, separated by a screen, and the dairy products are never transferred directly from a vessel of one kind to a vessel of the other, but always by means of an intermediate vessel. The butter and buttermilk produced by the churning operations in the inner room are transferred to the vessels of the outer room by means of the idrkwoi, which is kept on the dividing line between the two compartments. Similarly the vessels into which the butter and buttermilk are received are never allowed to come into direct contact with objects from the outside world, but their contents are transferred to vessels used outside the dairy by means of intermediate vessels, the uppun or the mòrpun.

In the migrations of the ti buffaloes this strict separation between the two kinds of vessel is still kept up. The things of the inner room are carried by the palol himself, while the things of the outer room are carried by others. The idrkwoi, though carried by the palol on the same staff as the things of the inner room, is kept apart from the rest, and is not allowed to touch them.

The fires of the ti dairy furnish another interesting example of the principle by which sacred objects are prevented from coming directly into relation with objects which may have [234]been contaminated by contact with the outside world. The lamp is not lighted directly from the tòratthwaskal, which is probably sometimes touched by the kaltmokh, but fire is transferred from this fireplace to the pelkkatitthwaskal, from which the lamp is lighted. Here, again, the use of an intermediary object is limited to the ti dairy.

The principle of management by which the palol prevents the contamination of the sacred by the profane in the dairy is adopted by him in other ways. Whenever I paid any money to the palol at Mòdr, I placed it on a stone from which it was taken by the kaltmokh and handed to the palol. A similar procedure is generally adopted whenever anything is brought to, or taken from, a ti dairy. The kaltmokh in the above instance acts as the intermediate link between the palol and the unclean.

In the ordinary procedure of the village dairy, except at the kugvali of Taradr, no example occurs of this use of intermediate links, but there is such an example during the ordination of the wursol. When the palikartmokh gives the candidate milk from the ertatpun (p. 149), he does not pour it directly into the leaf-cup from which the candidate drinks, but first pours it into another leaf-cup and then from that into the cup used by the candidate.

Other features of the ritual in which there are differences in different grades of dairy are in the ceremonial touching of dairy vessels, in the avoidance of turning the back towards the contents of the dairy, in lamp-lighting, in the ritual connected with the bell, and in the frequency with which the prayer of the dairy is recited.

At the tarvali and kudrpali, the dairyman touches ceremonially the majpariv and the patat at the beginning of the afternoon churning, while at the wursuli this is done both morning and afternoon. At the ti, however, this ceremonial touching does not occur, or, at any rate, I failed to obtain any account of its performance.

The method of carrying out the dairy procedure kabkaditi, in which the back is never turned on the sacred vessels of the dairy, is not followed in the tarvali, except at the irpalvusthi ceremony. I have no record of it in the kudrpali, except on [235]the same occasion, and it is only followed regularly in certain dairies of the wursuli grade, viz., Nòdrs, Nasmiòdr, Òdr, and Kozhtudi. The first has a conical dairy, and Nasmiòdr and Òdr are especially ancient and sacred places. At the kugvali and the ti dairy, on the other hand, the dairy ceremonial is always performed kabkaditi. At one ceremony, that of irpalvusthi, the work of the dairy is performed kabkaditi in every dairy of whatever grade.

The lamp-lighting is another feature which becomes more frequent and more ceremonial in the higher grades of dairy. In all the village dairies, including the kugvali of Taradr,1 the lamp is only lighted ceremonially at the afternoon churning, the lighting being made the occasion of prayer. If the morning is dark, the lamp maybe lighted, but it is clear that this is not done ceremonially, and the lighting is not accompanied by prayer. At the ti we have already seen that the lamp is lighted in a more ceremonial manner and in the morning as well as in the afternoon.

Some of the details of the ritual are definitely associated with the mani, and since the presence of a mani implies a higher grade of dairy, this leads to an increase in the elaboration of the ritual. The mani is treated in much the same way in all the grades of dairy which possess this sacred object.

Another feature in which the increasing sanctity of the dairy is shown is the frequency with which prayer is offered. At all the village dairies the dairyman only prays at the afternoon ceremonial when lighting the lamp, and when shutting up the buffaloes in their pen for the night. As already mentioned, there is a definite association between prayer and the ceremonial lamp-lighting.

In the ti dairy, prayer is offered both morning and evening; at the morning ceremonial twice and in the afternoon three times. On both occasions the first prayer begins when the lamp is being lighted and is continued while the palol knocks on one of the persin with the persinkudriki. The second prayer in each case is offered at the conclusion of the milking, and the third prayer of the afternoon corresponds to [236]the second prayer of the village dairy, being offered when shutting up the buffaloes for the night.

The increasing sanctity of the different grades of dairy is shown very clearly by the increasing stringency in the rules of conduct of the dairyman. The tarvalikartmokh may sleep in the living hut on any night in the week, and there are no restrictions on his intercourse with women. The kudrpalikartmokh may only sleep in the hut on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and is prohibited from intercourse with Teivali women. The wursol is limited to two nights, Sunday and Wednesday, and, though himself a Teivali man, is prohibited from intercourse with Teivali women. The kugvalikartmokh has similar restrictions, but the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs must avoid women altogether, and this is almost certainly the case with the palol also.

The tarvalikartmokh takes his buttermilk and food without any ceremony. The kudrpalikartmokh must hold his food in his hands throughout his meal and must not put it on the ground.

In the case of the wursol we meet first with the ceremonial drinking of buttermilk, which must in this case be poured into the leaf-cup from the vessel called ertatpun. The kugvalikartmokh drinks buttermilk sitting on the seat outside his dairy and pours from the ertatpun, drinking three times only and saying “” each time.

The pohkartpol of Kanòdrs has to take his food with very special precautions. He sits on the wall of his dairy and his hand must not touch his mouth nor the leaf-cup his lips. At the ti the drinking of buttermilk has become a definite ceremony in which the kaltmokh pours out drink for the palol with prescribed formulæ, but, strangely enough, the palol does not suffer from the same restrictions against touching his mouth as the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs, though the latter holds an office which in most ways is distinctly less sacred than that of the palol.

The clothing of each grade is also regulated. Perhaps the most important feature here is the use of the garments called tuni. These are made of dark grey cloth of a quite different kind from that of the ordinary clothes worn by the Todas. [237]The garments are procured from the Badagas, and cloth of the same kind, called än, is used to enwrap the corpse in the funeral ceremonies. It is mentioned as the ordinary clothing of a woman in the legend of Kwoten, and is almost certainly the ancient clothing of the Todas still persisting in ceremonial in connexion with the dead and in the dairy ritual.

The tuni is only worn by the higher grades of the dairyman-priesthood and by the palikartmokh of the Teivaliol. The palol wears tuni only, both his loin-cloth and his mantle being of this material. The kaltmokh has no need for a tuni, for when he is engaged in his work at the ti he has to be naked, and when away from the ti and in the sleeping hut he wears a small piece of tuni, the petuni, in his girdle, the piece of cloth marking the difference between the full kaltmokh and the perkursol.

The wursol, the kugvalikartmokh, and the Teivali palikartmokh only wear the tuni when actually engaged in the dairy work and leave it inside the dairy at other times. I am doubtful whether the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs resembles the palol or the lower grades in this respect.

Although the palikartmokh of the tarvali and the kudrpali never wear the tuni, a small piece of this cloth is put in the girdle during the ordination ceremonies, and this may be a relic of a time when every dairyman wore the tuni.2 In the secret language (see Chap. XXV) the word petuni is used in one place as the equivalent of ‘uniform,’ and this seems to indicate that the petuni is regarded as the badge of a dairyman.

The use of the leaves and bark of the sacred tudr tree is another feature which distinguishes different dairies. In the tarvali it is, so far as I know, not used at all. In the kudrpali it is only used in the pepeirthti ceremony. The wursol uses tudr in his ordination ceremonies, but not in the ordinary ritual of his dairy, nor is it used in the daily ritual of the ti dairy, though largely used in the purification of the dairy and of the dairy vessels, and in the ordination ceremonies of the palol. [238]

The use of tudr in the ordination ceremonies is only allowed to the members of the Teivali division and of the Melgars clan of the Tartharol.

Special kinds of dairy or special dairies may have features peculiar to themselves; thus the pepeirthti ceremony, in which the dairyman beats on the patat with a piece of tudr bark, is only performed at the kudrpali; the prescription of nakedness when milking is confined to the kudrpalikartmokh; the special method of wearing the putkuli open in front when going to the buffaloes is only practised by the wursol, and the method of taking food sitting on the wall of the dairy and throwing the food into the mouth is peculiar to the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs.

One feature of interest in the dairy organisation is the existence of different names at different dairies for the dairy products, and for the various objects used at the dairy or in connexion with the dairy ceremonies. The chief differences are found on comparing the village dairy with the ti, nearly every object having a different name in the two places, though occasionally a peculiarity of nomenclature may be confined to one dairy, as at Kanòdrs, where milk is called persin, the name of the churning vessel of the ti. As a general rule it seems that the name used in the village dairy is the same as that in ordinary use; thus, the dairy vessels used in the house for the milk of the ordinary buffaloes are known by the same names as those of the village dairy.

The use of special names in the more sacred dairies is probably connected with their high degree of sanctity. The names of the dairy vessels of the village are in common use, and it would doubtless seem sacrilegious that the names of the vessels of the ti should be thus in everyone’s mouth. Consequently nearly every object used in the ceremonial of the ti dairy has a special name, and in the ordinary life of the Todas these words are probably never uttered.

One striking feature of the dairy ritual is the use of the syllable . With one exception (p. 177) this word is always uttered thrice, and it seems to be especially connected with the act of putting curds or milk on the bells. It has a suggestive resemblance to the mystical syllable Om of the Hindus. It is [239]also possible that it may be a form of the name of the god Ön, or, again, it may be a corruption of the word mani, of which the initial letter has been dropped, a process of which other examples have been given.

It is doubtful how much significance is attached to the right and left sides in the dairy ritual. There is no doubt that in the most sacred acts of the ritual, such as saluting the buffaloes and the sun, or feeding the bell, it is the right hand which is used. This preference of the right hand is emphasised by the action of the palol in washing out his mouth, when he takes the water into his mouth from the left hand, because it is his right hand which has most to do with the sacred objects. In the migration ceremonies the dairy vessels are carried on the left shoulder, but at the ti the choice of this shoulder by the palol is obviously due to the fact that either the mani or churning-stick is carried in the right hand, and in other cases it is probable that the choice of the left shoulder is due to the necessity of leaving the right hand free. When the candidate drinks in the ordination ceremonies he holds the cup in the right hand, and this hand certainly has the preference throughout the dairy ritual. On the other hand, the petuni is worn on the left side of the waist-string, both by the kaltmokh, as a sign of his full rank, and by the palikartmokh during his ordination ceremonies.

In the ordinary dairy the side which is on the right hand in entering seems to be the more sacred, and the platform on this side is the meitün or superior bed. In the ti dairy, on the other hand, there was some doubt as to the more sacred side. At Mòdr it seemed that the mani is on the left hand side of the palol as he is performing his duties, but it is doubtful whether this is so at other places, and it may be that my account of the Mòdr dairy is wrong in this respect.


The Sanctity of Milk

The different degrees of sanctity attaching to the different dairies are associated with differences in the rules regulating the use of milk, and these rules seem to show clearly that [240]the milk of buffaloes belonging to the more sacred dairies has a higher degree of sanctity than that churned in the lower grades.

The milk of ordinary buffaloes may be drunk by anyone, man, woman, or child. The Todas do not ordinarily sell milk, but if they do so, they may only use the milk of ordinary buffaloes for this purpose. I have a note that anyone may also drink the milk of buffaloes belonging to the tarvali, but I suspect that this only applies to men who must drink it at the dairy.

The milk of the kudrpali may only be drunk by the kudrpalikartmokh himself. It is believed that any other person or animal who should drink milk from this dairy would die.

At the wursuli milk may be given to men at the dairy, but it must be mixed with buttermilk. At the kugvali of Taradr the milk of the kugvalir themselves is not drunk by anyone, the dairyman having certain ordinary buffaloes for his own use, and this is also the case at the ti. I believe that not even the palol would drink the milk of the persinir, the sacred buffaloes of the ti.

There is one exception to the rule that ordinary people may not use the milk of the sacred buffaloes of the village dairies (except in the form of butter and buttermilk). At the irpalvusthi ceremony at all the village dairies, including the kugvali, food is prepared with the milk of one of the sacred animals and this food is given to the people of the clan to which the dairy belongs and also to members of other clans.

In the case of the wursuli, I was especially told that this is the only occasion on which the milk of wursulir is used by people in general. At the kugvali, people of other clans are only given this food on the second day of the proceedings, and the distribution of the food is preceded by a ceremony in which some of the food is thrown into the fire. The milk used on this occasion is the milk of the buffalo which has recently calved, the ceremony being in celebration of this event.

At the wursuli it is noteworthy that the food is cooked by the wursol himself, the ceremony of irpalvusthi being the [241]only occasion on which a dairyman of this grade prepares food. Thus, when the milk of the wursulir is used ceremonially as a food by ordinary people, the food is prepared by the dairyman-priest. One feature of the irpalvusthi ceremony is that the work is performed kabkaditi in every dairy, and it is possible that this sign of increased respect is intended to counteract the desecration which is about to take place in the use of the milk by the profane. As I have already pointed out, the irpalvusthi ceremony has a strong resemblance to a sacrificial feast, in which people partake of the sacred animal, but in this case it is the milk of the animal and not the animal itself which is taken.

A further indication of the sanctity of milk is given in the prohibition against the drinking of milk by a widower or widow during a period which, as we shall see later, may extend to many months.

The restrictions on the use of the milk of the sacred animals have the general characters associated with taboos, and the whole daily ritual of the dairy would seem to be designed to remove the taboo. It is possible that at one time the milk of the sacred buffaloes was not used at all, and that these animals only suckled their calves. If then the Todas had begun to milk the sacred buffaloes, it is natural that the milking and churning should have been accompanied by ritual designed to counteract the evils to be expected from the profanation of the sacred substance and the breaking of the taboo. In certain circumstances even now the Todas do not milk their sacred buffaloes, but allow them to suckle their calves only. If a ti dairy, or even one of a lower grade, has no dairyman, the buffaloes are not milked, though they are still tended by some unsanctified person and are kept ready to take their part in the dairy ritual if a dairyman should again be appointed.


Special Dairy Customs

The general method of treating the milk in the dairy procedure seems to be the same as that generally followed in India and other hot countries. The milk is allowed to [242]coagulate and the curd is churned. The butter so obtained differs from that of European countries in containing the proteid as well as the fat constituents of milk. This butter is then clarified, but in this respect there is an important difference between the ordinary Hindu procedure and that of the Todas. The usual Hindu method is to heat slowly over a fire without the addition of any other substance. The Todas add grain or rice to the butter before clarification, and this sinks to the bottom of the vessel and forms a substance called by the Todas al, which is one of their chief foods. This deposit of grain or rice will carry down with it some, possibly all, of the proteid constituents, and the al will, therefore, be a nourishing food.

The only other detail in which the Toda procedure is peculiar3 is in the addition of buttermilk from a previous churning to the newly-drawn milk, the buttermilk or pep being put into the vessel before milking. This addition probably hastens the process of coagulation, but its chief interest is derived from the fact that it has become the nucleus of some of the most interesting features of the dairy ceremonial.

This addition of buttermilk seems to be regarded as forming a thread of continuity in the dairy ritual, and the ceremony of pepkaricha, or making new pep, is held whenever this continuity is broken. The pep is connected with a dairy vessel of the kind called mu, which is buried in the buffalo pen, and if any evil befalls the mu, it is held to be a cause for making new pepi.e., the usual course of the dairy procedure will be interrupted, in some cases for months.

The buried dairy vessel seems to be linked in some mysterious way with the fortunes of the dairy, and especially with the buttermilk which forms the element of continuity in the dairy procedure. The buried dairy vessel, or mu, is not one which is now generally used to hold buttermilk. There are two kinds of mu in the dairy, one which contains the butter added during the churning, while the other is used, [243]partly as a receptacle for the milk which is about to be churned, and partly to fetch water from the stream. It is highly probable that there was at one time a third mu in the dairy, which was a receptacle for the buttermilk added before milking.

At the especially sacred dairy of Kanòdrs, where ancient procedure is likely to have lingered, the buried mu is still used as a receptacle for buttermilk. When this dairy is unoccupied, a certain amount of buttermilk is kept in the buried mu, and when the dairy is again occupied, this buttermilk is used to add to the milk. In this case the continuity of the dairy procedure is directly kept up by means of the buried vessel, and this procedure of the Kanòdrs dairy is strongly in favour of the view that the buried vessel was formerly a receptacle for the pep.

There are other indications that the mu is the most sacred of the dairy vessels. It is this vessel which is touched by the wursol the kugvalikartmokh of Taradr and the pohkartpol of Kanòdrs, as the final act which gives them their full status at the ordination ceremonies, and we shall see later that in the funeral ceremonies at Taradr a temporary building is made to represent a dairy by placing in its inner room a mu. In this last case, it would seem that the mu is regarded as the emblem of the dairy, and that placing a mu in the inner room of the temporary building makes it a dairy.

The representative of the mu at the ti dairy is the peptòrzum, but it does not seem that this vessel is specially distinguished from the rest, and it does not appear to have the sanctity and importance which attaches to this kind of vessel at the village dairy.

There seem to be two chief possibilities in explaining the existence of the buried mu. It may be that it was at one time the custom to bury the pep while the village was unoccupied, and that this custom now only persists at Kanòdrs, the mu at other places being no longer used for this purpose, though it has continued to be of ceremonial importance. The other possibility is that, as the pep acquired increased importance in the dairy ritual, the sanctity of the buttermilk was transferred to the vessel which contained it, and the [244]sanctity of the vessel became so great that it was not thought right to leave it exposed to the dangers it might incur in the dairy, especially in the various migrations, and it was therefore buried in the buffalo pen of the chief village of the clan. It is probable that the custom arose in the way suggested by the procedure of the Kanòdrs dairy, but that the full development of the custom has been largely due to the belief in its special sanctity.

The obscure observance of having a ball of food larger than can be eaten at one sitting occurs twice in the various dairy ceremonials. It is a feature of the ceremonies which the kaltmokh has to undergo on the day after the migration of the Nòdrs ti to Anto, and the superabundant portion of food has also to be eaten by the candidate for the office of palol in the preliminary ceremony called tesherst. In each case the food is of the ceremonial kind called ashkkartpimi. I can offer no suggestions as to the meaning of the observance, nor do I know of any parallel for it.


Purity and Impurity

The idea of ceremonial purity is one running through the whole of the dairy rites. Many of the details of the ritual, the purification of new vessels and of dairies revisited after a period of disuse, the ordination ceremonies of the dairyman, the elaborate ceremonies accompanying the making of new pep, all show a very deeply engrained idea that men and things have in themselves some degree of impurity, and that in order to be made fit for the service of the gods, they must be purified and sanctified by appropriate ceremonies.

As regards man two grades of impurity are recognised: (i.) the impurity of the ordinary man which is perhaps an absence of ceremonial purity rather than actual impurity; and (ii.) the special impurity which is the result of certain events and especially of those accompanying birth and death.

The impurity of the ordinary man does not prevent him from visiting the dairies of the lower grade, but it prohibits him from taking any part whatever in the actual dairy operations. With certain exceptions, he is rigorously excluded [245]from actual contact either with dairies or dairymen of the higher grades. He is perhaps regarded as unsanctified rather than impure. The definite impurity which is the condition of those who have attended funeral ceremonies or have been in relation with a woman in the period of seclusion after childbirth is something very different. Such a man is not merely unsanctified, he is unfit to hold any sacred office; even the prolonged ceremonies of ordination would not fit him to hold office in the dairy or to perform any part in the tendance of the sacred buffaloes, and he is not allowed even to approach the members of the higher grades of the dairyman-priesthood.


Women and the Dairy

Women take no part in the dairy ritual, nor in the milking and churning operations which are carried on in the hut. It is said that at one time the women took charge of the buffaloes at the time of calving, but this is not the case at the present time.

Women go to the dairy to fetch buttermilk, using an appointed path and standing at an appointed spot to receive it.

Females enter, dairies under two conditions only. They may enter the outermost rooms of those dairies which are used as funeral huts while the bodies of men are lying in them. Here they may sit only on one side of the room, and only when the dairy operations are not in progress. Women also enter the temporary funeral huts of men, which are called pali, or dairies.

The other condition under which a female enters a dairy is at the migration ceremony of the village, in which a girl, seven or eight years of age, is given food in the dairy of the village which the buffaloes are leaving, and sweeps the front of the dairy of the village to which they are going. This ceremony is one in which a girl seems to take a definite part in dairy ceremonial, but the girl chosen for this office must be below the age of puberty.

The relations of women with the different grades of dairymen have already been considered; a point which may again [246]be mentioned is that the emblems of womanhood, the pounder, sieve, and broom, may be removed from the hut while the dairyman is present, though the women themselves remain.

During certain dairy ceremonials, women must leave the village altogether, and during the passage of the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti near the village of Kiudr, the women leave the village, taking with them the pounder, sieve, and broom.

Although women are thus excluded from all participation in the dairy ceremonial, we shall see later (Chapter XIV) that an artificial dairy plays a part in some of the ceremonies connected with pregnancy and childbirth.


History of the Dairy

The Todas can give very little information which throws any light on the development of this complex organisation of the dairy with its elaborate ritual. According to tradition, the most sacred dairies, and especially that of the Nòdrs ti, date back to the time when the gods were active on earth and were themselves dairymen.

Beyond the belief that buffaloes of different kinds were assigned to the different clans by Teikirzi, I could obtain no account of beliefs about the origin or growth of the other grades of dairy. One fact as to the past which seemed clear was that ti dairies were at one time more numerous than at present, and several places now possessing village dairies of the ordinary kind are said to have been at one time the seats of ti dairies. Thus it is believed that Kiudr was formerly a ti place, and the old weatherworn stones shown in Figs. 31 and 32, which are still called neurzülnkars, seem to provide evidence that tradition is here correct. The village of Teidr is said to have been at one time a ti, and here again two stones called neurzülnkars are to be seen about a quarter of a mile from the village.

There is another feature of the Kiudr dairy which suggests that it may at one time have been a ti dairy. It contains six bells called mani, which clearly differ in nature from the mani of the other village dairies, especially in the fact that they [247]are not used at funerals. They are also distinguished as patatmani and ertatmani, a distinction not met with in any other village dairy. It seems probable that they are the representatives of the two kinds of bells of a ti, the mani proper and the kudrsmani. The ertatmani of Kiudr are ‘fed’ with buttermilk, a procedure not followed, so far as I know, in any other dairy, but it may be that this is a feature of the procedure of the ti dairy which escaped me. Certainly the most likely explanation of the existence of these bells at Kiudr is that they are survivals of its former position as a ti dairy.

The villages of Kiudr and Teidr both belong to the Teivaliol, and this raises the question whether this division of the Todas may not have possessed ti herds and ti dairies of their own at one time, and may not always have had to be content with providing dairymen for institutions belonging to the Tartharol. No information could be given on this point, but it seems unlikely that dairies and places belonging to a Tarthar clan should have been handed over to the Teivaliol when they were no longer used as ti dairies and ti places.

Certain Tarthar villages are also said to have had at one time ti dairies, especially the sacred places of Nòdrs and Òdr. This probably means that there is a tradition that the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti were at one time kept at these places which, as we have seen, are still visited by the palol during his ordination ceremonies.

The process of extinction of ti institutions can be seen in progress at the present time. The Nidrsi ti is not now in working order; there has been no palol for some years and its dairies are unoccupied. It is said that a palol would have to be appointed temporarily if it was desired to perform the second funeral ceremonies of a Nidrsi man, but in the present condition of the Nidrsiol, it seems to me not at all unlikely, either that the rule will be disregarded, or that the second funeral ceremonies will not be performed, and that the Nidrsi ti will become absolutely extinct, possibly dragging down another institution into extinction with it.

The Kwòdrdoni ti is now only active for a short time once every year in order to satisfy a ceremonial requirement of the [248]Kotas, and this institution may possibly soon become little more than a name. If it were not for the Kotas, it would undoubtedly be as near extinction as the ti of Nidrsi. One palol of the Pan ti has recently ceased to be appointed, and the same difficulty which has led to his disappearance will probably sooner or later vacate the other office, and Pan will follow in the footsteps of the other clans. Many of the dairies belonging even to the more prosperous ti institutions are now disused, and some have completely vanished. The legend of Kwoto preserves a tradition of ceremonial accompanying the migration of the buffaloes of the Kars ti which has now entirely disappeared, and nothing is known of the special features of ritual which were practised at many ti dairies which have become extinct.

Of dairies of other grades, the poh of Kanòdrs is now only occupied for a short time once a year, and its ceremonial may soon also become extinct. The conical poh of Kars and the seven-roomed kudrpali of Nòdrs are dairies which have ceased to exist, and with the extinction of the latter have gone completely all traces of the ritual which was practised in this kind of dairy, and nothing is known as to the meaning of the seven rooms.

Some of these changes are recent, and due to the altered conditions produced by the general invasion of the Nilgiris, but others date back to a time before Europeans came to the hills, and were due to intrinsic conditions, chiefly the hardships connected with the ritual practised in certain of the dairies. The altered surroundings of the Todas are undoubtedly hastening the process of decay, and institutions which would probably have lasted for centuries will now almost certainly disappear in a few decades. [249]

1 I am doubtful about this point at the poh of Kanòdrs. 

2 It is in favour of this supposition that in the legend Kwoten wore the tuni when acting as palikartmokh although he was one of the Tartharol. 

3 It is an Indian practice to add sour buttermilk to the milk to promote coagulation, but this is usually done after heating the milk. It is possible that in some parts of India it may be added to the milk before or immediately after it is drawn. 




This chapter will furnish a very good example of specialisation of religious and magical functions among the Todas. We shall find that certain Todas have the power of divination, others are sorcerers, and others again have the power of curing disease by means of spells and rites, while all three functions are quite separate from those of the priest or dairyman. The Todas have advanced some way towards specialisation of function in this respect, and have as separate members of the community their prophets, their magicians and their medicine-men in addition to their priests.



Certain men among the Todas are reputed to have special powers as diviners, and are known as teuòdipol, “god-gesticulating men,” or more commonly as teuol. Samuel, my interpreter, always spoke of their performances as devil-dancing and evidently regarded the teuol as like those whom he called the devil-dancers of his own people.

In several cases these men are said to have inherited their powers from some near relative, often a grandfather, but it seems that anyone who showed evidence of the necessary powers might become a teuol. All but one of the present diviners are Teivaliol, but the divining power is not limited to this division. There is no relation between the various offices of the dairy and the power of divination, and, in [250]fact, a diviner necessarily gives up his divining if he becomes a palol.1

Each of the teuol is believed to be possessed by a special god when he falls into the divining frenzy, and when in this state it is said that the diviner does not, as a rule, speak in his own language, but in some other, most commonly in Malayalam, or one of its dialects. The following are those who are at present credited with the power of divination:—

Midjkudr (63) of Piedr, who is inspired by the gods Kulinkars and Petkon. He speaks in Malayalam, and he does not appear to have succeeded anyone else as teuol. He is the most successful of those who are at present practising the art, and played the chief part in all the divining which took place during my visit.

Tadrners (60) of Kuudr, inspired by Ethrol and Arivili, succeeded his mother’s father, Kasorivan (66) of Kusharf. He is said to speak the language of people whom the Todas call Mondardsetipol living in the Wainad, a language which appears to be a dialect of Malayalam.

Pangudr (66) of Kusharf, also succeeded Kasorivan, his grandfather, and is inspired by Petkon and Meilitars. There was some doubt as to the language used by him.

Ethgudr (52) of Kuudr is inspired by Arivili, and, like Tadrners, speaks the language of the Mondardsetipol.

Terkudr (63) of Piedr, inspired by Teipakh, the river god, succeeded his grandfather Keitolv. When inspired, his speech is like the babbling of a running river, “like the river’s voice,” and cannot be understood.

Kangudr (62) of Piedr, who lives at Kavidi in the Wainad, is inspired by Meilitars and speaks Malayalam. He succeeded Tarsvan (62), his father, and Tarsvan had succeeded his father Keithiolv.

Kobuv (61) of Kuudr, is inspired by Meilitars and Kuderol and speaks Malayalam.

Pöteners (54) of Kuudr, is inspired by Petkon and speaks the language of the Mondardsetipol. [251]

Karkievan (63), the palol of the Nòdrs ti, was formerly a teuol, but gave up divining when he became palol.

All the above belong to the Teivaliol, and the only Tarthar diviner at the present time is Mongudrvan (13) of Kars. He is said to be inspired by the god of Miuni village, and to speak the Toda language. The village of Miuni belongs to the Teivaliol, so that the only Tarthar diviner is inspired by a god connected with the division to which the majority of the diviners belong.

Two other Tarthar men, Kerveidi (5) and Tevò (3), both of Nòdrs, are said to have been teuol at one time, but they have ceased to divine. They succeeded another man of their clan. Kangudr, who is inspired by Meilitars, has to ‘dance’ or divine before the Kurumbas, and when he does so he dances as a lame man. This custom is reputed to have come down from the time of Meilitars (see p. 210), who danced as a lame man before the Kurumbas, and promised that whenever he came in the future he would dance to the Kurumbas first and then to the Todas.

It will be noticed that many of the deities by whom the diviners are inspired are not true Toda gods. Petkon, who inspires Midjkudr, Pangudr, and Pöteners, is said to be a hunting god. According to some he was a son of Teikirzi, but is almost certainly not a true Toda deity.

Arivili inspires Tadrners and Ethgudr, who are both reputed to speak the language of the Mondardsetipol, and he is probably a god of these people, a tribe of the Wainad. Ethrol, who also inspires Tadrners, is probably another deity of the same people. I do not know anything about Kuderol, by whom Kobuv is believed to be inspired.

It is noteworthy that the only existing Tarthar teuol speaks the Toda language when divining, and is believed to be inspired by a local Toda god; while the diviners belonging to the Teivaliol seem to speak dialects of Malayalam, and many are believed to be inspired by gods who are almost certainly not true Toda deities.

The teuol are consulted whenever any misfortune befalls a Toda. The following are various instances in which I have records of resort to divination: sickness or death of a Toda [252]or of any of his family; sickness or death of a buffalo; failure of milk in a buffalo and persistent kicking of its calf; failure to make a buffalo go to the spot at which it is to be killed during a funeral ceremony; failure of milk to coagulate; burning down of a dairy; disappearance of the bells of a dairy; loss of a tukitthkarsor lifting stone. In this last instance the stone at the village of Nidrsi was carried away some years ago by a party of English people who came to picnic near the village while the people were away. They carried the stone for some miles and then threw it down. The Nidrsi people could not find it, and consulted Midjkudr and Mongudrvan, who were able to reveal where the stone was to be found, and it was restored to the village, where it can now be seen.

The diviners usually work in pairs, though occasionally it would seem that one only may be consulted. If they are asked for an explanation of some misfortune which has befallen a man, the teuol usually find either that the sufferer has committed an offence against the dairy or that he is the subject of spells cast on him by a sorcerer. In the former case, they prescribe the ceremony which must be performed in order to expiate the offence. In the latter case, they name the sorcerer so that the sufferer may know with whom to make his peace.

I have already said that towards the close of my visit a number of misfortunes befell the Todas; one man fell ill, the wife of another died, and the dairy of a third was burnt down, and these events kept the diviners busy, but probably because I was implicated I was not allowed the chance of observing the diviners at work.



The only occasion on which I saw the process of divining was at a funeral. The buffalo which was to be killed had been caught at some distance from the place appointed for its slaughter. The animal was unusually refractory and at length lay down and all the natural efforts of the Todas failed to make it move. Midjkudr and Mongudrvan were then called upon to discover the cause of the obstinacy of the buffalo. Mongudrvan first began to dance slowly to and fro, away from and towards the buffalo. He had [253]taken off his cloak and was only wearing the tadrp. As I already knew the man, I was able to observe that his general appearance was unaltered and that he did not appear to be in any abnormal mental condition. He was soon joined by Midjkudr, who danced up and down much more wildly (Fig. 36). His general appearance was very different to that usually presented by a Toda man. His hair seemed to stand out from his head, although it shook with each of his violent movements; his eyes were abnormally bright and his face gave every appearance of great mental excitement. I had not previously known the man, but when he came to see me a few days later I could hardly believe that the quiet, self-possessed man whom I saw before me was the same individual whom I had seen dancing at the funeral. It was obvious that he had been in a distinctly abnormal condition of frenzy during the divining process. After dancing for a time Midjkudr began to utter broken sentences in a loud and almost chanting voice, while Mongudrvan [254]remained silent throughout. After Midjkudr had in these sentences given the reason for the obstinacy of the buffalo, and had prescribed what was to be done, he took a red cloth and dancing more violently than ever waved the cloth before the buffalo and pushed against the body of the animal. Then after the people had dragged the buffalo a little way, it rose and went quietly to the place where it was to be killed.

I had much difficulty in finding out exactly what Midjkudr had said. When he came to see me a few days later he stated that he did not know at the time what he was saying, and that his only knowledge was derived from those who had heard him, and I am inclined to believe that he was speaking the truth. His appearance during the divining was remarkably different from that of ordinary days, and strongly suggested a semi-hypnotic state, during which he might well have had no knowledge, or only a very vague knowledge, of anything he said.2 In his ordinary condition he professed to be ignorant of Malayalam, the language which he was said to use in his frenzied condition.

My ignorance of Malayalam, and the obvious difficulties of the investigation, make me hesitate before expressing any decided opinion as to the real nature of Midjkudr’s condition when divining, but I have a very strong leaning towards the idea that the man was in a genuinely abnormal condition, allied to the hypnotic state, and I am disposed to accept the statement of the Todas that he was speaking in a language of which he had only a very vague knowledge when in a normal condition. It is, of course, quite possible that the abnormal appearance of Midjkudr was merely due to the exercise of dancing and to mental excitement, and that he knew perfectly well what he was doing and saying. I can but record my impression that there was something more, and I only commit myself to this extent in regard to the special occasion on which I saw Midjkudr divining; even if I saw a genuine hypnotic or semi-hypnotic phenomenon, it does not follow that all Midjkudr’s performances are wholly, or even partly, [255]of this nature, and still less does it follow that the performances of all the teuol are of this kind. Nothing struck me more than the contrast between the frenzied condition of Midjkudr and the calm, ordinary demeanour of Mongudrvan, his fellow diviner.

In the case I have described the necessity for the intervention of the diviner arose out of the funeral proceedings, but it appears to be not uncommon for divination to be practised during funerals. Both Mr. Walhouse and Mr. Thurston have seen the process of divining going on at funerals. In Mr. Thurston’s case he notes that the diviners talked in Malayalam, and offered an explanation of a gigantic figure which had suddenly appeared and as suddenly disappeared some time previously.



I met with greater difficulties in discovering the methods of sorcery than in any other branch of my work. It was quite certain that there were men called piliutpol (sorcery praying people), or pilikòren, who had the reputation of possessing magical powers, comprised together under the title piliutvichi or piliutiti. I was able to obtain the names of these people from several sources, but when I approached any one of them on the subject he professed total ignorance and usually suggested that I should apply to some other man, who, he said, was a real piliutpol. Occasionally someone would give me a fragment of information, but would impress on me carefully that he had heard it from somebody else and did not know whether it was true or false.

One or two men, who were certainly not sorcerers, told me that they hoped that I should succeed in finding out the methods and would tell them, for they said that the Todas who had no magical powers were always trying to find out the methods of the sorcerers and were never successful.

I was told by two men that they believed that a sorcerer, by merely thinking of the effect he wished to produce, could produce the effect, and that it was not necessary for him to use any magical formula or practise any special rites. [256]

It was not until my last week on the Nilgiris that I was told of some of the magical rites by Teitnir, who had previously denied all knowledge, though he was said by others to be a sorcerer, and he knew that I was aware of his reputation. He was not a trustworthy informant, but his account was consistent in itself and was in agreement with fragments which I had picked up elsewhere, and I believe it is correct, though I cannot guarantee its accuracy with the same degree of confidence which I feel in regard to most of my information.

The following men were said by various people to be pilikòren:—

Kaners, Kudrievan, and Teikudr (63), Ishkievan (60), Keinkursi (54), Puthion (64), and Teitnir (52), among the Teivaliol; Keitan (6), Mudrigeidi (1), Kiunervan and Usheidi (14), and Karseidi (8), among the Tartharol. Pushteidi, the elder brother of Keitan, was a noted sorcerer who paid for the belief in his magical powers with his life. It will be noted that magical powers appear to be fairly evenly distributed between the two divisions and do not greatly predominate in one as in the case of divination.

The power of sorcery was said to belong to certain families, and I was told that it was inherited. It seemed probable that a sorcerer only communicated his methods to his sons, and usually only to one of his sons, or if he communicated his knowledge to all, it was often one of them only who obtained the credit for magical powers.

We have already seen that when a man sustains a misfortune of any kind, he consults the diviners, and they find whether the misfortune is due to a fault committed by the sufferer or whether it is the result of sorcery. In the latter case, they say by whose magic the misfortune has been produced, and the sorcerer is then propitiated and removes the spell, the nature and details of the process varying according to the method of sorcery used and the offence which had led the sorcerer to exert his powers. Thus when Pirsners (9) fell ill, he consulted Midjkudr, who said that Kudrievan had bewitched him. Pirsners went to Kudrievan and gave him food, and asked him to remove the spell, and Pirsners became well soon after. [257]

There are two chief reasons which induce a sorcerer to work his magic on another. One is when a request by the sorcerer for assistance has been met by deception. If the sorcerer asks a rich man for a buffalo, or for money, and the rich man refuses point-blank, it does not appear that the sorcerer proceeds farther; but if the rich man promises a gift and does not give it, or if he delays giving a positive answer and puts off a decision from day to day, it is a clear case for the application of occult measures. The other chief motive for sorcery is a quarrel with a sorcerer. The methods are different in the two cases. In the first case the sorcerer procures some human hair—it may be the hair of any one, even his own hair. It is not the hair of the man he wishes to injure because it would be impossible to get it. Five small stones are taken and tied together by means of the hair, and both hair and stones are tied up in a piece of cloth. Then, holding the stones and hair in his hand, the sorcerer utters the following incantation:—

Pithioteu Ön idith, Teikirzim Tirshtim idith;   â those teu gods sati power udâsnûdr; if there be; an his nòdr country nòdr country udâsnûdr; if there be; an kar warkhi his calf sleep peu mâ; go may; an îr his buffaloes têrgi pûti wings grow pâr mâ; fly may; ath on nîr he I water ud puk âthm drink as he also nîr un mâ; water drink may; on nîkh I thirsty as puk am as âthm he also nîkhai mâ; thirsty be may; on eirt I hungry puk as âthm he also eirth hunger mâ; may; en my mokhm children ödrth cry puk as an his mokhm children ödr cry mâ; may; en my tazmokh wife kûtm ragged cloth pût wear puk as an his tazmokhm wife kûtm ragged cloth pûv wear mâ. may.

This incantation was freely rendered by Teitnir as follows: For the sake of Pithioteu, Ön, Teikirzi, and Tirshti; by the power of the gods if there be power; by the gods’ country if there be a country;3 may his calves perish; as birds fly away may his buffaloes go when the calves come to suck; as I drink water, may he have nothing but water to drink; as I am thirsty, may he also be [258]thirsty; as I am hungry, may he also be hungry; as my children cry, so may his children cry; as my wife wears only a ragged cloth, so may his wife wear only a ragged cloth.

When he has uttered the incantation, the sorcerer takes the hair and stones in their cloth to the village of the man upon whom he wishes these misfortunes to fall, and hides them secretly in the thatch of the roof of the man’s hut.

It seemed that this method of sorcery is only justified when the sorcerer is a poor man, and the references in the incantation to the poverty of the sorcerer confirm this.

When a man who has prevaricated with the request of a sorcerer suffers any evil fortune, he consults the diviners, and they may tell him not only who has produced the misfortune, but why the sorcerer has brought the misfortune upon him and they may advise the sufferer to become reconciled with his enemy and to give him what he has asked. The man goes to the sorcerer, who is usually only too ready to take the credit of the affair, and it is arranged that he shall come to the village of the sufferer. Whenever he comes a third person must be present, who is called the nedrvol, or intermediate man.4 The nedrvol brings about the reconciliation, and arranges the terms, and then the sufferer bows down before the sorcerer and performs the kalmelpudithti salutation. The sorcerer then utters the following formula while his foot is resting on the head of the man:—

â Those teu gods udâsnûdr, if there be, an his nòdr country udâsnûdr; if there be; taned cold peu go mâ; may; term mercy ai become, peu go mâ; may; in this îr buffalo kark calf to elm all ultâmâ; be well; en my mans mind elm all tülsvîshpini, cleared from guilt have I, tan his mansm mind also tüli clear mâ. may.

Teitnir rendered this freely as follows:—

By those gods if there be gods, and by their country if there be a country; as water is cold, so goes my anger; as mercy comes, may my anger go; may his buffaloes and [259]calves be well; I have now nothing evil in my mind, you must also have no evil in your mind.

Food is then given to the sorcerer, who also obtains the object for which he had originally asked. Later the sorcerer goes secretly to the hut of the man and takes out the stones and hair which he had hidden in the thatch.

In removing the spell the sorcerer does not mention the names of the four gods, but speaks of them as “those gods.” The object of this is that the names of the four gods whom the sorcerer invokes shall not become generally known.

If any one quarrels with a sorcerer, the method adopted by the latter is different. He obtains a bone of a man, buffalo, or some other animal, or if unable to obtain a bone, he may use a lime. He sits, holding the bone or lime in his right hand, and utters the following incantation:—

Pithioteu Ön idith,   Teikirzim   Tirshtim idith;   a teu sati   udâsnûdr,   an nòdr   udâsnûdr;   ank to him pudra will destroy pîrsk disease pat come mâ; may; ank to him ud one ultâkhâth incurable pun sore come mâ; may; an his kal leg muri broken ûmâ; may be; an his kai hand mûri broken ûmâ; may be; an his kan eye pudri destroyed ûmâ; may be; an his ârs house ulrsh into an his kûdûpel family ûvòdink to all sakötam trouble come mâ; may; âth he enk to me sakötam troubles kasvai did who agi accordingly ankm to him also sakötam troubles ö occur mâ; may; an his nòdr country udi there is ed that ariken we shall know â those teu gods udi there is ed that kanken; we shall see; i this elv bone nels into the ground alaiu what happens, ai that òlkm man to also alâ happen mâ. may.

The only clause of this incantation of which the meaning is not clear is the penultimate, and the free rendering of this was said to be “as there are undoubtedly gods, we shall see all this happen”; it seems that ariken, which means literally “we shall know,” is often used in the sense “without doubt.” If he is using a lime, the sorcerer substitutes îrsimitch for elv in the last clause.

The bone or lime is then buried in a wood near the village of the man who is to suffer the misfortune. [260]

When the misfortune comes, and the diviners have discovered its cause, the matter is arranged by a nedrvol as in the other kind of sorcery, and it is usually settled that the sufferer shall give a one- or a two-year-old calf to the sorcerer. When the matter is arranged, the sorcerer visits the village of the bewitched man, who does kalmelpudithti to the sorcerer, and the spell is removed with the following words:—

teu udâsnûdr,   an nòdr udâsnûdr;   taned peu mâ;   term ai peu mâ5;   mokh son madrik children an to his kûdûpel family elmk; all to; in this mel after en my mans mind elm all tülsvînem cleared from guilt   (as I) in uli this well agi be ; may; nûv disease put, leave, nudri troubles put leave peu go mâ. may.

The sorcerer is then given food and goes away with his calf, and later he goes secretly and takes the bone or lime out of the ground.

I have already mentioned that these methods of casting and removing spells were obtained with great difficulty and only from one man. This man, Teitnir, was one of the most intelligent of the Todas, but was not a very trustworthy guide. In this case, however, the account he gave was so consistent in itself and with the general character of Toda customs and beliefs that I have no doubt that his methods are those actually in use. It is more than probable, however, that other sorcerers may use other methods, and even that Teitnir’s account is not a wholly accurate description of the methods of any one sorcerer. The other Todas had told me that Teitnir was himself a sorcerer, but even after he had given me the above account, he denied that he had himself magical powers, but said that he had learnt the methods from Ishkievan. I had been told of one instance in which Teitnir had practised sorcery on Teikudr (63), but Teitnir gave a different account of this event. Teitnir and Teikudr had quarrelled and in consequence Teitnir had been angry with Teikudr, a condition which the Todas call murthvichi. Teitnir belonged to the chief family of the Kuudrol, which is known as the mani kudupel; “it is a bad thing for one of so important [261]a family to have murthvichi” and any one who has been the cause of such a state of things is liable to suffer misfortunes. When therefore some of Teikudr’s buffaloes died and Teikudr consulted the teuol, these diviners gave as the reasons for the misfortunes the murthvichi, not the piliutvichi, of Teitnir. According to Teitnir, Teikudr was himself a sorcerer and there were reports that the recent death of Teitnir’s wife was due to the piliutvichi of Teikudr, and just before I left the hills, I was told that the teuol had arrived at the conclusion that Teikudr had had a hand in her death.

The Toda sorcerers are not only feared by their fellow Todas but also by the Badagas, and it is probably largely owing to fear of Toda sorcery that the Badagas continue to pay their tribute of grain.

The Badagas may also consult the Toda diviners. In one recent case a Badaga consulted Mongudrvan, who found that the misfortune from which the man was seeking relief was due to the sorcery of Kaners. Kaners was, no doubt, propitiated by the Badagas, and it is probable that the belief of the Badagas in the magical powers of the Todas is turned to good account by the latter.

In some cases Todas have been killed by the Badagas owing to this belief. About ten years ago Pushteidi of Nòdrs (6), the elder brother of Keitan, was a very notable sorcerer, much dreaded by both Todas and Badagas. He visited the Badaga village of Nanjanad on the occasion of a feast, and soon after a Badaga child died and its death was at once ascribed to the sorcery of Pushteidi. Not long after, Pushteidi’s dead body was found near his village, and there seemed to be no reason to doubt that the Badagas had killed him, but owing to the fact that the Todas held the funeral and burnt the body before they made a report to the police, the crime could not be thoroughly investigated nor the murderers brought to account.

One of the events which the Todas ascribe to sorcery is failure of the milk to coagulate. If there is much trouble in getting the milk to form adrpars, the teuol are consulted, and they sometimes find that it is due to sorcery and sometimes [262]that some offence against the dairy has been committed. I have no information, however, as to the method which the sorcerer uses to prevent the coagulation of the milk of any one who has offended him.

The only other indication of Toda methods of sorcery came to me from a Badaga source. A Badaga maistri said that he had been given an account by a Toda. According to this account, the sorcerer takes three leaves of each of the plants which the Badagas call jakalmul, pemmul, and tupumul (evidently varieties of the muli of the Todas), puts the nine leaves in a new earthenware pot and buries the pot in a wood after saying certain formulæ in which he wishes evil to a given man whom he mentions by name. When the man falls ill and the diviners say by whom his illness has been produced, a reconciliation is effected and the sorcerer digs up the pot of leaves when the sufferer again becomes well. This information came from a Badaga source and I could not obtain confirmation of it from the Todas but it is possibly an approximation to the method employed in one form of Toda sorcery.

The Todas dread the sorcery of the Kurumbas more than that of their own pilikòren. The latter can be remedied, but the sorcery of the Kurumbas, called kurubudrchiti (Kurub = Kurumba), is much more dangerous and cannot be remedied. If it is found that a Kurumba has made a man ill, the only thing to be done is to kill the Kurumba (see p. 641).

When Kutadri became ill while he was with me in the Kundahs, the first suggestion was that the Kurumbas were responsible. Soon after this I went to Kotagiri, and Kòdrner, Kutadri’s brother, who was to accompany me, said that as the Kurumbas were very numerous in that part he did not like to go alone with me and made a stipulation that while I was on that side of the hills I was to provide him with a companion. Mr. Thurston6 describes a similar experience in which his guide was afraid to walk from Ootacamund to Kotagiri lest he should come to grief at the hands of the Kurumbas. In this case it seemed that the man was using his fears as an excuse, and in my case the fear may have been [263]used as a lever to provide occupation for a friend, but that there was a very real fear of Kurumba sorcery I have no doubt.

It is easy to see how this belief in the magical powers of the Kurumbas may have arisen, or, more probably, how its existence may have been maintained. The slopes of the hills on which the Kurumbas live are extremely malarious, and it must often have happened that a visit to a Kurumba village was followed by an attack of fever of a severe kind. We probably have here a good example of a vicious circle. Whenever two tribes of different degrees of culture live near one another, the members of the lower usually acquire the reputation of being sorcerers. For this and other reasons they are driven to a less healthy district, and the unhealthiness of the district helps to maintain and reinforce their reputation for magical powers.


The Evil Eye

Various misfortunes may befall a man if any one says that he is looking very well or is very well dressed. It is also unlucky that any one should look at a man when he is eating. Similarly it is unlucky for anyone to say that a buffalo is giving much milk; she will probably kick her calf or will suffer in some other way soon after.

This kind of misfortune is usually called kanarvaznudr, which was translated, “if looking anxiously.” It is also often known now by the Tamil name konduti or kontushti or evil eye. One of the commonest effects of kanarvaznudr is indigestion. When anyone is suffering from evil effects of this kind, he calls in one of certain people called utkòren, or “praying people,” or, probably more correctly, “saying incantations people.” Piutolvan (10), Keitazvan (15), and a woman, Sinpurs (7), are utkòren of repute. Any one of the male utkòren may be spoken of as an utpol, but I was doubtful whether this name would also be used for a woman.

The utpol rubs the belly of the sick person, holds one corner of his cloak in his left hand, and, putting some salt on the cloak, strokes the salt with a thorn of the plant called [264]pathanmul.7 The thorn and some of the salt are then put into the fire, and the utpol utters the following incantation:—

Pithioteu Ön idith,   Teikirzim Tirshtim idith,   tan his âv mother kan eye pudrs perish kan eye pudri be destroyed ûmâ; may; tan   in father kan pudrs kan pudri ûmâ;  

and this formula is repeated, substituting for av or in the names of the following relatives:—an, akkan, nòdrved, mun, mimi, pian, piav.8 Then follows the same formula repeated, in which the names of various tribes are substituted for those of the relatives, as “mav kan pudrs kan pudri uma”—Badaga eye perish, may his eye be destroyed.” The people mentioned are mav (Badaga), pedr (Tamil), suti (? chetties), kurub (Kurumbas), erl (Irulas), panin (Panyas).9 The last clause is möditi kan pudrs kan pudri uma, extending the imprecation to the women of all the people already mentioned. When the incantation is finished, the remainder of the salt is eaten by the sick man.

The Toda utkòren may practise ‘absent treatment.’ If a man wishes to treat a sufferer from the evil eye, and is unable to visit his patient, he puts the salt on the ground and strokes it with the thorn of pathanmul, repeating the above incantation as he strokes. He then sends the salt to the sick man, by whom it is eaten.

The treatment in any case is repeated till it has been done three times.

If it is a buffalo which is suffering from the evil effects of kanarvasnudr, the utkòren use the same method, and the salt is eaten by the buffalo.

In the special case in which the evil is produced by saying that a man is looking well or is well dressed, the utkòren have a different method. They take a piece of the root called kabudri,10 and a plant called kwagal, and squeeze the juice of [265]both into a vessel. An incantation is said, the same as, or similar to, that already given, while the utkòren strokes the sick man with the corner of his cloak. After the incantation the sufferer drinks the juice.


Various Magical Remedies

The utkòren also practise various other methods of treatment.

Headache. This is called madersnûdr, “if head aches.” For this the utpol places his hand on the head of the sufferer, and says the following incantation in a low voice, so that the patient may not distinguish what is being said.11 After the names of the four gods, as in previous formulæ, it runs:—

nâkherov cobra mad head tathi kan broken into pieces tath mâ; not break may; ker a snake mad tathi &c. kan tath mâ;  

and the same formula is repeated, substituting first the names of other kinds of snake and then of other animals. The following are the animals mentioned: kûrûpatz, a black poisonous snake; putpob, a variegated snake, which is called the foolish snake, because it will not get out of the way; taverûni, a green snake; pâlipob, another green snake; uitch, a kind of lizard reputed to suck blood; anîli, a squirrel; kapan, a frog; tugûli, a crayfish(?); kadrmad, a water animal of some kind; mîn, a fish; îgal, an earthworm; nelnpüf, an insect found under stones; âpipüf, an insect found in buffalo dung. After all these animals have been mentioned with the same formula, the names of Pithioteu and Ön are again uttered, followed by the words tathkhma. The utpol flicks the corner of his cloak first against the ground, and then against the forehead of the sufferer, and then, if the man is sitting, he says, “ateuk ir,” “sit there off!” and the man moves a little way from the place where he had been sitting. If the man is unable to sit, and is lying down, the words will be “ateuk padr,” “lie there off!” or “lie a little way off!” [266]

I could not obtain a satisfactory account of the exact meaning of the incantation; it was said to mean “may the snake’s head be broken in pieces, and so may your head be broken”—i.e., so may the pain go; another rendering was “may the pain go to the snake’s head,” the latter being by far the more probable meaning. Three divisions of the incantation are recognised: in the first, snakes only are mentioned; in the second, things which live in the water; and in the third, things which live in the earth. The treatment is repeated on one or two days, if necessary, but it is never done more than three times, “because the ailment is always cured in that time.”

Another condition treated by the utkòren is stomach-ache, which is called püfkwatnûdr, “if worms bite.” The utpol places his hand on the belly of the sufferer, and after reciting the names of the four gods, he continues:—

kêrs kêrs tree pûv flower kâdkanm fallen as fall kâl down mâ; may;

and this formula is repeated, substituting the names of various trees and other plants for the name of the kêrs tree. The trees and plants mentioned pirzkh and kûrêrs, trees having edible fruit; pul, kîl, kwadriki, kid, trees from which bees get honey; kab, sugarcane; teg, coco-nut; patm, samai; ners, rice; eri, ragi; kîtj, potato; perigi, chillies; melkh, pepper; kwatimeli, Coriandum sativum; kadrkh, mustard; and kîri or kîrsi, red amaranth.

Thus the last clause would run: kîri pûv kâdkanm kâl mâ, and this would be followed by the names of Pithioteu and Ön. Then the utpol flicks his cloak three times, first against the ground and then against the belly of the sufferer, and says, “ateuk ir,” or “ateuk padr,” according as the man is sitting or lying down, and the sufferer moves a little from his place.

The names of flowers are used because the Todas believe that worms come from eating honey, and the honey has come from flowers. The flowers mentioned belong to four groups;12 (i) those of trees which bear edible fruits; (ii) those from which bees get honey; (iii) those of trees or plants part of [267]which are eaten; (iv) those of trees which give pungent substances like chillies and pepper.

There were various other complaints for which the utkòren are consulted, such as:—elptûksnûdr, depression in the chest of a child when it breathes (elp or elv = bone); tekhpkâdathvüdnûdr, pain in the side; kankpudithnûdr, if anything gets into the eye; erutûthtinûdr, if cut or wounded in any way; pobersnûdr, if snake bites.

Each of these has its appropriate treatment, but the only method of which I obtained an account was the last. Certain men have a special reputation for the treatment of snake-bite. A cord is made of woman’s hair and this is bound tightly round the bitten limb in three places. The doctor takes a piece of pathanmul and strikes the bitten limb while he utters the appropriate incantation.13 The ligature is kept on the limb for two or three days and the incantation is repeated three times a day during that period. Anyone whom a snake has bitten must not cross a stream. If it is absolutely necessary that he should cross, he must be carried over it.

If wild animals attack the buffaloes, a procedure which closely resembles those already described is carried out by the utkòren. The procedure is called kâdrkatinamûdri.e., “wild beast tie mouth if.” It is also carried out if a buffalo is lost, and in this case the charm will keep the animal from injury by wild beasts. The utpol takes three stones secretly and goes at night to the front either of the dairy or hut and utters the following incantation:—

Pithioteu Ön idith,   Teikirzim Tirshtim idith;   pef big pîrzi tiger kût teeth terz fastened nil stand mâ; may; kâkh black kerman bear mûn face terz nil mâ;   padr crowd kenai red dog amûn other side terz nil mâ;   pob snake teuv erect head terz nil mâ;   pef big per hill terz nil mâ;   pef big po river stream terz nil mâ;   pef big pòdi porcupine mul14 quills terz nil mâ.   [268]

Then come the names of Pithioteu and Ön, followed by

âth these ûvòdin all before kati tie vaiumâ. keep may.

The utpol then takes a piece of ragged cloth in which he ties the three stones and hides them in the thatch of the hut. If a buffalo has been lost it will come back the next day, and even if it remains in the wood no tiger would touch it while the stones are in the thatch. When the buffalo returns the stones are taken out and thrown away.

All the remedies so far described resemble one another in that they are applied by one of the people called utkòren. The following remedy is applied by the sufferer himself. If a man is frightened in any way, as by a sudden noise when he is passing along a road, he will go home and put the hoe (kudali) and a stone called neilikal into the fire till the hoe is red hot. He puts the hoe and stones into a brass vessel called terg and pours on water. He then covers himself entirely with his cloak and remains covered till the water in the vessel ceases to bubble, when he opens his cloak, drinks water from the vessel three times, and throws the rest away.

There was some difference of opinion as to the use of the stone called neilikal at ordinary times. It was said first to have been used for making fire before matches were introduced, and there seems to be no doubt that fire was sometimes made in this way. Others said that the neilikal was used for sharpening iron tools. The only neilikal I saw was at Nidrsi and this was a large piece of quartz, and there seemed to be no doubt that this had at one time been used for making fire.

In one of the methods of sorcery which have been described it will be remembered that human hair is used. The Todas take the same kind of precautions about hair and nail-parings which are so widely spread throughout the world, but the reasons for the precautions differed from those usually given. I was told that the Todas do not ordinarily cut their hair, but the heads of children are shaved and adults also shave their heads on special occasions. The hair removed [269]at these times is hidden in bushes or hollows in the rocks, and the reason given is that it may not be taken by crows.

Nail-parings are buried in the ground, and this is done in order that they may not be eaten by the buffaloes, for “nails are poisonous to buffaloes,” who will die or become ill if they find them when grazing.

There was some difference of opinion as to what was done with the hair cut off at the ceremony called tersamptpimi (see p. 333). It was clear, however, that care was taken that it should not be eaten by crows, for if crows obtained any of the hair first cut from a child’s head the child would suffer from shaking of some kind.

Both at the first head-shaving and at the tersamptpimi ceremony special bangles are put round the wrist of the child, and these are certainly of the nature of charms, for it is believed that the child would fall ill if they were not used.

The Todas believe in certain injurious influences which they class together under the name of pudrtvuti,15 but I was able to obtain very little information about them, and I suspect that belief in these influences is largely of recent growth and due to contact with Hinduism.

One variety of pudrtvuti is the evil influence of Keirt (Keirtpudrtvuti) at the ceremonies after childbirth (see p. 326). Another variety is kòdipudrtvuti (kòdi, demon?). The Todas now adopt as a preventative of this evil influence a round mark made with ashes above the nose. If a Toda should suffer from the effects of kòdipudrtvuti, two remedies are adopted. One is called kavkal wart atpimii.e., “kavkal (a stone) grind, pour we.” I did not obtain an account of the remedy, but it is possibly the same as that already described which is used by a man when frightened. The other remedy is kwagal atpimi. Kwagal (Polygonum rude or P. Chinense) is the same plant which is used in one of the remedies for the evil eye (see p. 264) and it is possible again that this remedy is the same as that already described. Kwagal is also the plant used by the goddess Puzi to quench the fire of her son, Kurindo.

It will have been noticed that the formulæ recorded in this [270]chapter have the same general form as the prayers of the dairy ritual. They consist of sentences ending in , which seem to be of the nature of supplications that certain things may come to pass, preceded by the names of certain deities followed by the word idith, occasionally with other sentences allied in meaning to these. The two parts of the prayer are represented, but the first part, consisting of the kwarzam, does not appear to have acquired the same degree of importance as in the prayer. Thus the magical formulæ of the Todas have precisely the same general form as those used in their religious ritual. In the case of the prayer, I have pointed out that the actual words leave one in doubt as to whether there is anything of the nature of a direct appeal to the gods. In the magical formulæ, on the other hand, the case for an appeal to the gods is stronger. In all the formulæ, whether used by sorcerers to bring evils on their enemies or by medicine-men to remove sufferings of various kinds, the names of the same four deities are mentioned, and these four deities, Pithioteu, Ön, Teikirzi, and Tirshti, are undoubtedly four of the most ancient and sacred of the Toda gods. It is noteworthy that the sorcerer does not say the names of these gods when he is removing his spells, but simply refers to them as “those gods,” and it is clear that he does this because he does not wish his victim to learn the names of the gods by whose power his misfortunes have been brought about and are now to be removed. This procedure leaves little room for doubt that it is through the active intervention of the gods that the sorcerer is believed to work.

There still remains the question whether the words of the magical formula imply anything of the nature of supplication, or whether the sorcerer is not rather using forms of words which will compel the gods to exert their powers in the way the sorcerer wishes. I have no definite information as to the belief of the Toda sorcerer on the point, but the almost contemptuous tone of the two clauses which follow the names of the four gods might perhaps be held to point to the latter conclusion, and to indicate that the sorcerer can use the gods as his instruments of wrath much as seems to have been the case with the magicians of our mediæval times. [271]

On the other hand, it is not unlikely that the words, “â teu sati udâsnûdr, an nòdr nòdr udâsnûdr,” may have originally had a meaning very different from that which the bare translation seems to give to them. A similar formula occurs in the story of Kwoten (p. 194) in the curse uttered by Kwoten’s mother, which has the proviso, “on sati udairnûdr,” which was translated, “if I have reverence to the village.” This makes it possible that the translation of the words of the magical incantation should rather be, “if I have proper reverence to the gods and to the gods’ country.” The interpretation on page 257 is that which was given to me by Teitnir, but it is not at all improbable that it is wrong, and that a translation on the lines of that given for the curse of Kwoten’s mother would be more correct.

The nature of the words used makes it clear that the remedies employed by the Toda utkòren, or medicine-men, are of a magical kind. The words are essentially the same as those used by the pilikòren, or sorcerers, to remove the evils they have brought about by their previous magical incantations. The same formulæ are used to remove ills supposed to be due to natural causes as are used to remove those due to the workings of magic. It seems clear that the Todas have advanced beyond the stage of human culture in which all misfortunes are produced by magic. They recognise that some ills are not due to human intervention, but yet they employ the same kind of means to remove these ills as are employed to remove those brought about by human agency. The advance of the Todas is shown most clearly by the differentiation of function between pilikòren and utkòren, between sorcerers and medicine-men, and we seem to have here a clear indication of the differentiation between magic and medicine. The two callings are followed by different men, who are entirely distinct from one another, but both use the same kind of formula to bring about the effect they desire to produce. It seems that the powers of the utkòren are less definitely passed on from father to son than in the case of the pilikòren. There is no doubt that these powers depend largely on a knowledge of the words to be used, and especially on a knowledge of the names of the four gods, but it [272]is probable that this knowledge is transmitted from one old person to any other who may be likely to inspire confidence. It will be noted that a woman can practise the magical remedies of the utkòren, but I do not know whether this is a recent innovation. It seems clear that a woman could never become one of the pilikòren or sorcerers.

When discussing the formulæ of the dairy ritual, it was mentioned that one difficulty in the way of regarding these formulæ as prayers is that the names of deities are not uttered in the vocative form, and that this might be held to negative the idea that they involve supplication to higher powers. In the magical formulæ there seems to be a clearer case for the presence of a distinct address to deities, though it is doubtful whether this address is of a supplicative or compelling character. If there is a distinct address in the case of the magical formulæ, which every Toda would acknowledge to be used for an evil end, it is very probable that the words of the dairy formulæ also involve the idea of an address to deities. These formulæ are always directed to avert evils from and to call down blessings on the buffaloes, and it seems almost certain that for this good end the words imply not only an address to the powers of the gods, but also one of a supplicative rather than of a compelling character.

One distinction between the formulæ of the dairy and those of the sorcerer may be pointed out. In the latter the names of the gods are those used in ordinary conversation, i.e., Teikirzi, Tirshti, and are not the kwarzam, i.e., Ekirzam meidjam.

One of the most interesting features of this chapter has been the clear evidence given in the formulæ of the close relation existing between magic and religion among the Todas. The formulæ of magic and of the dairy ritual are of the same nature, though the differentiation between the sorcerer and the priest who use them is even clearer than that between the sorcerer and the medicine-man. It is probable that the names of the gods with the characteristic formulæ of the prayer are later additions to the magical incantation; that at some time the sorcerer has added the names of the most important of his deities to the spells and charms which at one [273]time were thought to be sufficient for his purpose. It is also possible, however, that the similarity of prayer and spell points to a time when the functions of priest and sorcerer were combined in one person; that as the restrictions which hedge round the life of the dairyman-priest increased, it became impracticable for him to exert his magical functions, and that there has therefore come about a differentiation of function, though the means used continue to show a close resemblance.

It may perhaps be said that the clear evidence of the supposed influence of the gods takes the facts which have been described in this chapter out of the realm of magic and puts them in that of religion. The Toda’s methods of procuring ill to his neighbours are clearly in their essential nature of a magical kind, but their close blend with religious ideas is the reason why I have considered them in their present place.



The Todas do not pay much attention to omens, but meeting certain animals is regarded as lucky or unlucky. The most definite instance of an omen-animal is a black bird called karpüls, which is said to be the Indian cuckoo. If a Toda is going on an errand and sees this bird on the left side, he takes it as a bad omen and turns back; if on the right side, it is a good omen. This bird appears twice in Toda legend. It warned Püv, the son of Ön, and in the last scene of the life of Kwoten, it appeared going from left to right. It is noteworthy that when Erten is interpreting the omen in this legend, he brings in Naraian (Narayan), who is certainly not a Toda deity, and this suggests that the whole incident of the omen-bird may be an accretion to the legends, and that the belief in omens has been borrowed from the Badagas or other Hindus. [274]

1 From the account of Finicio (Appendix I), it would seem that at one time the palol and wursol possessed the power of divination. 

2 For an account of what Midjkudr seems to have said and the consequent proceedings, see p. 392

3 I am very doubtful whether the meaning of this and the preceding clause is correctly given in these words. 

4 The middle room of a three-roomed dairy is the nedrkursh

5 For the meaning of this see above. 

6 Bulletin, i. p. 182. 

7 The leaves of this plant, Solanum indicum, are used in the ordination of the kugvalikartmokh

8 For the meaning of these kinship-terms, see Chap. XXI

9 It is noteworthy that the Kotas are not included. 

10 This is the plant, Euphorbia Rothiana, used at the purification of the ti dairy (p. 136). 

11 I think it is probable that all the incantations are said in this manner, but I only had it specifically mentioned in this case. 

12 This distinction was pointed out to me by my informant. 

13 I did not obtain this formula. 

14 Mul, which means bramble and thorn, is here used for the porcupine’s quills. 

15 Pûdrt is probably the Toda form of the word bhût




In this chapter various ceremonies will be described which may all be regarded as examples of propitiation of the higher powers by sacrifices or offerings. We shall see later that in the funeral ceremonies buffaloes are killed, but it is clear that there is no idea of propitiation or atonement connected with this slaughter, the animals being killed so that they may go to the next world for the service of the dead.


The Erkumptthpimi Ceremony

In this ceremony a young male calf is killed and eaten. The ordinary name is erkumptthpimi (“male buffalo we kill”) or erkumptthiti, but at the ti the ceremony is called ernudrtipimi. I met with great obstacles in obtaining a satisfactory account, the men who had told me all the details of the dairy ceremonial denying at first all knowledge of any ceremony among the Todas in which a calf was killed or eaten. As soon as they found that I knew positively of the existence of the ceremony, they acknowledged that they killed a calf, but said they could not tell me anything about it. I succeeded at last in obtaining a record of the ceremony from Teitnir, and when I was endeavouring to identify the various parts into which the sacrificial animal is divided, we met with such difficulties1 that Teitnir agreed to allow me to see the ceremony on the condition that I would provide the cost of the calf. [275]

Owing to the general reluctance to talk about this ceremony, I was not able to obtain such independent accounts from other people as I should have liked, but the details of the sacrifice as given me by Teitnir agreed with those of the ceremony I witnessed, and I have no doubt as to its essential accuracy. I had hoped to have obtained independent evidence on some doubtful features at the end of my visit, but these hopes were entirely frustrated by the death of Teitnir’s wife a few days after the ceremony which had been performed for my benefit, her death being generally ascribed to the anger of the gods because the secrets of erkumptthpimi had been revealed. After I had left the hills, however, Samuel succeeded in obtaining information on several doubtful points, and was given an independent account which entirely confirmed the accuracy of the proceedings which he had witnessed at the same time as myself.

The ceremony is performed both at the ordinary village and at the ti dairy. At the ti there is no doubt that it is performed three times a year, but there was much discrepancy in the accounts of its frequency at the village. According to some, the sacrifice only takes place once a year at each village in October, soon after the ceremony of teutütusthchi, to be described later in this chapter. According to others, the ceremony is performed whenever the people have a suitable male calf to sacrifice. During the ten years that my interpreter, Samuel, had been living among the Todas, he had come to the conclusion that the ceremony is performed fairly often, his opinion being based on chance remarks made by the children. I think there is very little doubt that a calf is now killed in each village more often than once a year, and the ceremony at which I was present was almost certainly one of the occasional performances, though the time of year at which it took place makes it possible that it was the chief annual occasion of that village.

There was also some doubt whether there is an annual ceremony in every village for the people living in that village, or whether the annual ceremony is only performed in the etudmad, or chief village of each clan, for all the people of the clan. The true state of affairs at the present time is probably [276]that the ceremony is performed at the Nòdrs ti in October. Fifteen days later it is performed at the other ti mad and at the chief village of each clan. In addition to these annual celebrations the sacrifice is performed on two other occasions at the ti, while at a village it may be performed whenever the people of the village have a suitable animal.

The place at which the sacrifice is performed is called the ernkar, and at Karia, where I witnessed the ceremony, the ernkar is in a wood nearly half a mile from the village at a spot where it is very unlikely that the proceedings would be disturbed by chance visitors. It seems that there is not only a special ernkar for each ti and for each clan, but that each village has also its appointed place.

The ceremony is performed on appointed days, different for each ti and clan. In the case of the Kuudrol, these are Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the ceremony which I witnessed at Karia, a village of this clan, took place on a Sunday. The chief officiator at the sacrifice at an ordinary village is the palikartmokh of the village, who must, however, for this occasion be of the same clan as those who are celebrating the sacrifice.

On the day arranged for the ceremony at Karia the palikartmokh was ill, and as none of the other inhabitants of Karia was able to undertake the office, an elderly man, Punatvan (53), had to be fetched from another village. On his arrival he had first to go through the ordination ceremonies for the office of palikartmokh, a lucky chance which gave me the only opportunity I had during my visit of observing these proceedings.

At the ernkar wood for the fire is collected, and over small firewood the people place several logs about three feet in length, so that the fire is of an oblong form. The firewood must be of one or both of the kinds called main and kiül. While some of those present are making the fire, others will be fashioning sharply pointed stakes of wood on which the parts of the calf are to be impaled. These sticks are called ko, and must be made of one of the following four kinds of wood: avelashki, karkekoi, kwadiki, or pohvet. It was said that exactly fifty of these ko must be provided. [277]

The first stage of the ceremonial is to make fire by friction, which should be done by the palikartmokh. The only occasion on which I saw fire made by friction during an actual ceremony was when I witnessed the sacrifice at Karia, and on this occasion both Punatvan and his chief assistant, Pichievan (69) of Keadr, twirled the fire-sticks alternately, but though they soon produced some smoke, they failed to light the rag used as tinder. My constant attendant, Kòdrner, was called in, and with his more powerful manipulations was almost immediately successful, and the lighted rag was carried by Punatvan to the heap of firewood, which was soon in a good blaze.

FIG. 37.—PUNATVAN AND PICHIEVAN ATTEMPTING TO MAKE FIRE AT THE ‘ERKUMPTTHPIMI’ CEREMONY.This and the succeeding photographs were taken in a badly lighted wood, and represent the actual ceremony.


As soon as the fire is alight the calf is brought to the [278]ernkar, and the palikartmokh goes to cut a log of tudr wood and three small branches of tudr leaves. The calf should be fifteen days old and must be without blemish. Its ears must not be split, its tail must not be cut, and its eyes must be clear.

The log of tudr wood is for the killing of the calf and is about four feet in length and about three inches in thickness. Such a log is usually called tudrkud, but on this occasion is named erkumptthkud. The three branches of tudr must consist of perfect leaves. Such branches are usually called tudrkwunak, but on the occasion of this ceremony they receive the name toashtitudr.

The palikartmokh then stands in front of the calf, holding the log and leaves in his right hand. He raises the log and leaves to his forehead as a salutation, and then recites the appointed prayer. This prayer is different for each clan and consists of clauses in each of which the kwarzam of one of the villages of the clan is followed by “——k per mâ.” Thus the first clause of the Kuudr prayer is atthkârk per mâ; atthkâr is the kwarzam of Kuudr, k is the suffix, meaning “to,” and per mâ is “may increase” or “may there be increase.” All the clauses of the prayer are of this form except the last two, which are karsêram parsêram; Nòtîrzk êr usht mâ; the first of which is a kwarzam of Kulinkars, êram probably meaning buffaloes, while the second means, “may the buffalo appear to Nòtirzi.” The calf is supposed to appear to Nòtirzi and then to go from the hill of this goddess to the hill of Kulinkars. The complete prayers of Kuudr and Kars are given on pp. 288, 289.

The palikartmokh touches the head of the calf with the erkumptthkud (Fig. 38) as he utters each kwarzam till he comes to the penultimate clause of the prayer, at which point he begins the following series of actions. He draws the three branches of tudr leaves along the back of the calf from head to tail and then drops one of the three toashtitudr on the ground behind the calf. The two remaining branches are drawn along the back of the calf from tail to head in the reverse direction to the first, and on reaching the head one of the two branches is dropped on the ground at the head of the animal. [279]The remaining branch is drawn from head to tail and dropped on the ground by the side of the first (see Fig. 39).

The animal is then killed by striking it on the head with the erkumptthkud. The palikartmokh then takes up the three toashtitudr, and, taking them in his right hand with the log, passes them round the calf three times. In doing this, the body of the calf rests on its side, while the log and leaves are passed between the two fore-legs, then between the two hind-legs, round the hind-quarters, and forward over the back and head, so that they make a complete circuit of the animal, and this circuit is twice repeated, so that the log and leaves are passed completely round the calf three times.



The palikartmokh then proceeds to cut up the calf (Fig. 40), [280]beginning with a complete incision round the neck. The knife used is of the ordinary kind called turi, but on this occasion it is called ab, or “arrow.” On the occasion on which I saw the ceremony, the calf seemed to have only been stunned by the blow on the head and began to kick as soon as this incision was made. The animal was, in consequence, vigorously belaboured over the testicles with the log of tudr wood, and this was repeated till the movements of the animal ceased.



The next incision is down the mid-ventral line; incisions are made through the skin above each hoof, and the palikartmokh then removes the skin of the whole animal except the head and feet, beginning at the right fore-limb. [281]

When the skin (tars) is removed, it is laid on the ground with its outer surface downwards a few yards from the spot at which the animal is being cut up, and the palikartmokh proceeds to cut the animal into the following parts:—

Kwelthkh, hoof and attached skin and bones.

Mogâl, lower segment of fore-limb (metacarpus).

Kemal, or kemalth, upper segment of fore-limb corresponding to fore-arm.

Kanòdri, shoulder.

Mêdrkwelv, trachea and larynx.

Tòdrthars, lower segment of hind-limb (metatarsus).

Pevutth, upper segment of hind-limb (leg).

Ûrûf, liver.

Putth, gall-bladder.

Pushk, kidneys. [282]

Kwur, small intestine.

Tütkwur, large intestine.

Mulikudri, urinary bladder.

Agelv, pelvis, including thigh bones.

Mudri, sternum and part of ribs attached.

Nüdz, heart.

Püth, lungs.

Kwotinerûf (kwotinûrûf?), spleen.

Pâlvîr, stomach full of milk, called pâlvetâr when emptied of milk.

Mutelf, lower part of backbone with parts of lower ribs attached.

Nòdi, upper half of backbone with parts of upper ribs attached.

Mad, head.

The parts of the calf are removed approximately in the order in which they are given above. The palikartmokh first cuts off the four feet of the animal, beginning with that of the right fore-limb and the four kwelthkh are placed under the skin, one at each corner.



The next part to be removed is the right mogâl, and then the three other corresponding parts. Up to this point, everything must be done by the palikartmokh himself, but after the mogâl have been removed any one may help, and on the occasion when I witnessed the ceremony, several operations were going on simultaneously after this point of the proceedings, and it became difficult to ascertain exactly what was being done and the exact order in which the parts were being removed. The cutting up of the calf was performed chiefly by Pichievan, while the palikartmokh, Punatvan, occupied himself with other operations.

After the removal of the mogâl, the remaining parts of the two fore-limbs are removed and placed on the skin. The larynx and windpipe are taken out together, and in doing this the large vessels of the neck are divided. The body of the animal is then taken up and held over the skin, so that the blood runs out over the parts placed on the skin, and these parts are then moved about, so that they become smeared with blood, and are then placed on the stakes (ko), [283]and each ko with its part of the animal is stuck in the ground on one side of the skin. Some of the other parts when removed are rubbed in the blood on the skin.

When the different parts have been impaled in this manner, the palikartmokh cuts from each part a small piece of flesh called mîis and puts the pieces on a stake. From the ribs and sternum, he cuts a part called the tütmîis, much larger than the other fragments, and puts this on a stake. I could not ascertain exactly of what the tütmîis consisted, but it seemed to be the lower end of the sternum with some of the diaphragm attached to it.3



After cutting off the mîis, the palikartmokh begins to put the parts round the fire (Fig. 41), beginning with the mogâl, [284]which are placed, one on each side, about the middle of the fire, but rather nearer that end at which the head is to be placed later. The mogâl must be put in this position by the palikartmokh himself, but the other parts may be arranged in any order. While the palikartmokh is manipulating the parts first cut off and placing them round the fire, his assistants will be continuing the division of the animal. When the liver is taken out, the gall-bladder is cut from it and thrown on one side. The intestines are removed and put on stakes by transfixing every few inches of their length.

The small intestine is placed on more than one ko, while, so far as I could see, the large intestine is put on one stake. The urinary bladder is thrown on one side. The ribs are cut through nearer the back than the front, and the sternum and anterior parts of the ribs form one part, the mudri. It was from this part that the tütmîis was taken. The spleen is put on one side in order that it may be given to a cat, and its name is derived from this fact. The stomach when taken out of the body is filled with milk and in this state is called pâlvîr. Its contents are poured out and it then receives the name pâlvetâr.

As soon as the cutting up is completed and all the other parts have been placed round the fire, the head is put on a ko, and this is stuck in the ground at one end of the fire and about half a yard from it, and the four kwelthkh are placed on the ground round the head. Some of the parts placed round the fire may by this time have charred, and they are turned round so as to expose the opposite side to the flames.

The next step is to take up the head on its ko and place it in the middle of the fire for about a minute, after which it is replaced. The object of this is to singe the ears, which the palikartmokh then pulls off. He also takes certain fragments (mîis) from some of the other parts and throws them, together with the ears, into the fire, standing at one end, the opposite end to that at which the head is placed. He then takes three charred pieces of wood from the fire, and throws them over the fire and over the head, so that they fall beyond the latter, saying as he throws each time, “Nòtîrzk per mâ, mañ!” the [285]last exclamation being the sound which is ordinarily uttered when calling a calf.

When the flesh is sufficiently roasted the palikartmokh eats the tütmîis, while the others present may eat any portion. When enough has been eaten, the remainder of the cooked flesh is carried to the village. The mogâl, agelv, mad, and kwelthkh are carried to the dairy by the palikartmokh and kept there. The flesh of these parts is eaten by the dairyman or by other men, but may on no account be eaten by a woman. The other parts are taken to the hut and given into the keeping of the women, and the flesh of these parts can be eaten by any one—man, woman, or child. Butter is often put on the flesh before it is eaten.


The Sacrifice at the Ti

The sacrifice at the ti is called ernudrtipimi, and is performed at every ti three times in the year. The first occasion is about fifteen days after the ceremony of teutütusthchi in October. The second occasion is about January, when the buffaloes of the ti migrate to the Kundahs or elsewhere for the dry season. The third occasion is after the ceremony of giving salt, which is known as kòrup (see p. 175). The ceremony may take place at any ti mad except Anto.

The appointed days are Sunday and Wednesday. On the day before the ceremony wood is taken by the palol and kaltmokh to the sacrificial spot, called ernkar as at the village. At Mòdr the wood in which the sacrifice takes place is called Turikipül.

The sacrifice may be performed either in the morning or evening, and takes place, in either case, before kaizhvatiti, the ceremonial pouring of buttermilk. This means that the sacrifice takes place during and not after the dairy ceremonial, and thus forms part of the dairy ritual. Each palol wears the pòdrshtuni, while the kaltmokh is naked throughout except for the kuvn. The kaltmokh arranges the firewood and the chief palol (at the Nòdrs ti, the ti palol) lights the wood with fire brought from his dairy. The calf is then killed and cut up with exactly the same ritual as in the village ceremony. [286]

After the flesh has been placed round the fire both the palol return to their dairies, leaving the kaltmokh at the ernkar to look after the roasting flesh. Each palol prays as usual and takes buttermilk without the aid of the kaltmokh, and then returns to the ernkar, the chief palol taking butter with him. At the place of the sacrifice the palol eats the tütmîis only, first putting it, together with butter, on leaves of kakud, from which he eats. The kaltmokh eats part of the liver at the ernkar, and is not allowed to touch any other part of the animal unless given to him by the palol. The mogâl, agelv, mad, and kwelthkh are then carried by the palol to the dairy where they are kept. They are eaten only by the palol and kaltmokh. Some parts are carried by the kaltmokh to the sleeping-hut, and are eaten by the kaltmokh and mòrol; other parts are taken to the outskirts of the ti mad and given to any Todas who may visit the dairy.

In connexion with the erkumptthpimi ceremony, I was told of a device employed to induce the mother of the sacrificed calf to continue suckling after her offspring has been killed. Several days before the sacrifice the calf to be sacrificed and a female calf of about the same age are shut up together in the kush, or small structure in which young calves are kept. On the floor of the kush are spread some of the grass called nark4 and some leaves of the kiars5 tree. When these have been broken up and mixed with earth by the trampling of the calves, a handful of the mixture, together with milk, is rubbed on the backs of both calves, and this is repeated for three or four days. The object is that the mother shall not know which is her own calf, and shall suckle both, and continue to suckle the female calf when her own has been taken away. During the days on which the calves are shut up together the dairyman should keep pon, i.e., he should not sell or give away any of the produce of the dairy.

If this device is not employed or is unsuccessful the skin of the sacrificed calf is placed on the back of a female calf, and in this way the mother may be induced to suckle the latter. [287]When Teitnir performed the erkumptthpimi ceremony for my benefit, he did not succeed in getting the mother to suckle another calf and demanded 60 rupees6 as compensation for the loss of milk which he would suffer till the buffalo had another calf. When he found that I had no intention of paying this sum, he adopted the second device just described, and this expedient was successful.

The erkumptthpimi ceremony was first mentioned by Harkness (p. 139), who witnessed the sacrifice. The details of the ceremony which he gives agree in general with those observed by myself. He calls the sacrifice “yerr-gompts.” A still more complete account which agrees closely with my own was given by Muzzy in 1844. Breeks mentions the ceremony, as is usual with him, under its Badaga name of kona shastra, and his account contains several features which disagree with those of Harkness, Muzzy, and myself.

I could obtain no satisfactory account of the origin of the sacrifice. Teitnir gave me a circumstantial story of the way in which Kwoto or Meilitars induced the gods to eat the flesh of a male calf. Teitnir stated that when Kwoto was visiting the gods in the form of a kite, and before he had tied down the sun (see p. 206), he killed a male calf with exactly the same ceremonial as that practised since, and taking some of the flesh threw it into the midst of the gods, saying, “I have brought the flesh; it is sacred flesh; I have partaken of it, and if your counsel is to be right, you must partake of it.” At this the gods were very angry and blamed Kwoto, whereupon he said, “I am not blameworthy; if you blame a man who should not be blamed, why do you not eat flesh which should not be eaten?” Kwoto was then given the task of tying down the sun, and when he succeeded in doing this and had been acknowledged by the gods as their superior, the gods agreed to eat the flesh, and since that time the Todas have sacrificed a male calf, just as Kwoto did, and have eaten the flesh of the calf.

The truth of this account, given by Teitnir, was denied by every other Toda whom I questioned, and I have not therefore included it in the story of Kwoto given in Chap. IX, but [288]I think it is possible that Teitnir was right, and that the denial of the other Todas was due to their reluctance that I should know the real belief about this ceremony. Even if not correct, Teitnir’s account is valuable as a record of an ingenious example of Toda reasoning.

At the ceremony I witnessed there was one feature of some interest. When it was found that the calf had not been killed by the blow with the log of tudr wood, the animal was belaboured over the testicles. This procedure had not been included in the account given to me before the ceremony, and I could not discover how far it is an established custom to kill the animal in this way if it is not killed by the blow. The interest arises from the fact that in the ancient Vedic sacrifices, the animal was killed by stopping its mouth and beating it severely ten or twelve times on the testicles till it was suffocated.7 I have not been able to discover whether this method of killing an animal is still practised in India. If so, it has probably been borrowed by the Todas; but if not, this ancient Indian method may have been preserved by the Todas. I did not observe that the mouth of the calf was stopped at the sacrifice which I witnessed, but this was probably done.


The Erkumptthpimi Prayer of Kuudr

This consists of clauses of the form Atthkark per ma in which the following kwarzam of villages are mentioned: Atthkâr and Òners (Kuudr), Kidnârs and Toarsòdri (Ars), Moskar and Manêthi (Òdr), Keikòdr and Karsülh (Melkòdr), Kwoteiners and Kwelpushol (Kiudr), Tashtakhkush (Pirsush), Kwotirkwirg (Kwirg), Toarskâria (Karia), Pârners and Tîindeuk (Miuni). These are followed by the final two clauses, karsêram parsêram, Nòtîrzk êr usht mâ.

The chief features of this prayer are that the chief villages of the Kuudrol have each two kwarzam and that two kwarzam of Òdr, a Nòdrs village, are included (see p. 647). [289]


The Kars Prayer

This consists of the kwarzam of the villages of the Karsol followed by -k per mâ, as in Mutashkitik per mâ, but in this case only one kwarzam is mentioned for each village. The following are the kwarzam with the corresponding villages in brackets: Mutashkiti (Kars), Karadrners (Kuzhu), Kiugners (Keshker), Külnkars (Taradrkirsi), Nersmi (Nasmiòdr), Eḍstârs (Tashtars), Keiikârs (Kerkars), Kuzhârmûdri (Isharadr), Pòḍshners (Pòdzkwar), Peleiners (Peletkwur), Tarskidt, Tüli, Sing, Keitaz. In the last four cases the kwarzam and ordinary name of each village are the same. These kwarzam are followed by ekîrzam meidjam, Nòtîrzk êr usht mâ. The place of karsêram parsêram in the Kuudr prayer is taken by ekîrzam meidjam, the kwarzam of Teikirzi, but I do not know how far this is a special feature of the Kars prayer. It may be that the Tartharol have the latter formula. It is remarkable that the Karsol should omit karsêram parsêram, for it is the kwarzam of their nòdrodchi, Kulinkars.

Several of the kwarzam of this prayer are those of villages which no longer exist. The prayer thus preserves a record of Toda institutions which have entirely disappeared.

These prayers are also interesting as records of a number of village kwarzam. It will be noticed that in many cases there is a considerable degree of resemblance between the ordinary name and the kwarzam; in other cases the words are wholly different.

In villages on the west side of the Paikara River the palikartmokh says, “Teikhârsk êr usht mâ,” may the buffalo appear to Teikhars, instead of Nòtîrzk êr usht mâ as the last clause. Teikhars is merely another name for Kulinkars. The reason for the modification is probably connected with the fact that the calf would have to cross the sacred Paikara River in order to go to Nòtirzi (Snowdon) on its way to Kulinkars.

I was unable, as usual, to obtain any information from the Todas on the significance of the erkumptthpimi ceremony, but the prayer offered before the calf is killed seems to make [290]it clear that the idea underlying the ceremony is that of promoting the general welfare of the buffaloes. The actual words of the prayer are directed to bring about an increase to the various villages of the clan, but there is, I think, no doubt that in this prayer, all have the buffaloes especially in mind and that the meaning of the prayer is, “may the buffaloes of … increase!” The sacrifice of the calf would seem to be of that kind in which one is killed that the rest may prosper.

There is one feature of the sacrifice which might be held to be out of harmony with this suggestion—viz., that the sacrificed calf is a young male, and hence a comparatively worthless animal. The name of the ceremony means strictly “we kill a male buffalo,”8 and it is possible that at one time an adult male was sacrificed, but even then the sacrifice would be of an animal comparatively little valued by the Todas. As we shall see, the animals killed at funerals are always female, but there is an obvious reason for this, as the buffaloes are to be of use to the dead person in the other world. Formerly large numbers of buffaloes were killed at funerals, and it is possible that it was found impracticable to use female buffaloes also for the erkumptthpimi sacrifice.

There is another possible reason for the use of male buffaloes. The flesh of the sacrificed animal is eaten, and it is possible that the Todas may have preferred to use for this purpose the less sacred male buffaloes, and not to risk any possible evil effects which might follow the consumption of the flesh of the females. It is probable that utilitarian motives have played the chief part in the choice of a male, but other more religious motives may have had some influence.


The Teutütusthchi Ceremony

This is an annual ceremony in which a fire is lighted at the foot of a hill by the palol and kaltmokh. The name teutütusthchi or teutütusthtiti means “god fire he lights.” It [291]is performed in the month which the Todas call Tai, beginning with the new moon in October.

The two palol and the kaltmokh of the Nòdrs ti perform the ceremony on the first or second Sunday after the new moon, and make the fire in alternate years at the hills called Kòti and Puthi. The two palol of the Kars and Pan ti set fire together at the hill Kònto on the following Tuesday. This ceremony is not performed by the palol of either the Kwòdrdoni or the Nidrsi ti. In 1902 the Nòdrs palol went to the hill Kòti on the second Sunday after the new moon (October 12th).

The hills of Kòti, Puthi, and Kònto are said to be chosen because they are very high, and have the highest teu, who are spoken of as elder brothers.

The palol and kaltmokh set out when they have taken buttermilk after the morning work, abstaining from other food till the ceremony is over. They take with them the nirsi or fire-sticks, some leaves of kakud, a piece of tuni, and some dried grass from the thatch of the dairy. Each palol wears both the pòdrshtuni and the kubuntuni.

When they reach the foot of the hill they make a heap of firewood. They then spread the kakud leaves on a stone and powder the thatch of the dairy on the leaves, and each palol makes fire with the fire-sticks and lights the powdered thatch. Then the kaltmokh says, “Teutütusthtkina?”—“Shall I light the god (or sacred) fire?”—and both palol answer “Teutütustht!” Then the kaltmokh takes the lighted thatch and applies it to the heap of firewood. As soon as the fire burns well, each palol takes off his kubuntuni and, standing some little distance from the fire, the two dairymen pray, using the usual prayer of the ti with the following additions:

Kòr Young grass pûv flower mâ; may; tein honey pûv flourish mâ; may; pom fruit purzh ripen mâ. may.

After the prayer the dairymen and their attendant return to their dairies so as to be in time for the afternoon work.

The object of the ceremony is to make the grass and honey [292]plentiful, as the additions to the prayer indicate. The Todas told me that in ancient times they lived largely on wild fruits, nuts, and honey, and that then the ceremony was of great importance. At the present time the Todas in general seem to take but little interest in the occasion, but its former importance is still shown by the fact that the Sunday and Tuesday on which the ceremony is performed are among the chief Toda feast days, when the people of every village eat the special kind of food which they call ashkkartpimi.



The ceremonies which have been described are sacrifices or offerings which occur at regulated intervals. Teutütusthchi is certainly an annual ceremony, and it is probable that erkumptthpimi was also originally an annual ceremony, though now it may be performed several times in the year. Even now, however, there seems to be little doubt that on one occasion in the year this ceremony is regarded as of special importance.

The ceremonies which remain to be described are of a different nature. They are mostly occasions on which offerings are made to avert or remove misfortune. Some are distinctly of the nature of sin offerings, but are only made when an offence which has been committed has brought some misfortune on the offender. In these cases the object of the offering seems to be propitiatory and to bring about the removal of the misfortune.

In other cases the offering may be made with the object of removing a misfortune which is not due to any fault on the part of the sufferer.

The simplest kind of offering is usually spoken of as kwadr kwadrthpimii.e., we give kwadr. The word kwadr probably means gift, but seems now to be often used in the sense of ‘fine.’ The kwadr takes the form of a buffalo. When a man gives a buffalo in this way it means that he undertakes not to give or sell the buffalo to anyone and not to kill it at a funeral. The buffalo is to be allowed to die a natural death, but so long as it is alive the owner has the full use of the milk [293]given by the animal. The idea of this offering is that the buffalo is given to the gods, according to some, or to the Amatol or people of Amnòdr, according to others. I also heard it spoken of as if the buffalo were given to the man’s father or grandfather (pia)—i.e., as if it was not given to the Amatol in general, but only to the spirit of the giver’s father or grandfather. It is possible that I have confused together two or more separate things, but so far as I could learn these cases resembled one another in that the owner was not allowed to kill or part with the buffalo.

When the man devotes a buffalo in this way he mentions the buffalo by name, saying that he gives it to the gods or to his fathers, and as a sign that he has done so he bows down before an elder and performs the salutation of kalmelpudithti.

This offering was made at the funeral of a child at which I was present, when the diviners found that a buffalo about to be killed was of the wrong kind, and said that Kuriolv, the father of the child, should give a buffalo. In this case the diviners said that a special buffalo called Perov was to be given. Kuriolv made a vow to give this buffalo and performed the kalmelpudithti salutation to Perner, the grandfather of the dead child. Another example of this offering will be mentioned at the end of this chapter.


Irnörtiti to the Ti

Another kind of offering is to give a buffalo to one of the ti dairies. This is called irnörtiti, but must be distinguished from another kind of irnörtiti to be presently described. A man gives a buffalo to a ti when he has committed any offence against the ti. In one case in which I have a record of this kind of offering, the cause was the refusal of a man to become palol after he had promised to undertake the office. One of the results of my visit to the Todas was a wholesale sentence from the teuol that the people were to do ti irnörtiti (see p. 310).

The Tartharol may sometimes give buffaloes to the herds of a ti when they have not committed any offence against the dairy. This is done when the buffaloes of the ti have become [294]very few in number, and this offering is also known as irnörtiti, and is given with the same ceremonial as when an offence has been committed.

The gift of a buffalo to the ti dairy must take place on a Thursday or Sunday. On the morning of the day the man making the offering, who is called the irnörtpol, abstains from food and goes to the ti mad with a female calf between one and two years of age. He may be accompanied by other men, usually those closely related to him. The men go to the outskirts of the dairy and wait there till the morning business of the dairy is concluded, each man carrying a green stick, either a kwadrikurs or avelashkikurs. When the palol has finished his work he goes towards the men on the outskirts of the dairy, also carrying a stick of the same kind, and as he approaches, the other men drive the calf towards him, and when it reaches the palol, he drives it so that it joins the buffaloes of his herd. The palol then gives food to the irnörtpol and his companions, who eat it on the spot, where they remain till after sunset, when they return home. If the calf given belongs to the putiir, it becomes one of the punir of the ti, but if it is of one of the sacred kinds, pasthir, wursulir, &c., it joins one of the sacred herds of the ti.


Irnörtiti, Tuninörtiti and Pilinörtiti

We now come to three kinds of offering, with their attendant ceremonial, which are of a much more complex nature. These are irnörtiti, tuninörtiti and pilinörtiti, in which the offerings are a buffalo calf, a piece of the cloth called tuni, and a silver ring respectively. The first two offerings are made only when one of a certain number of recognised offences has been committed, and in order to bring about the removal of some misfortune which has befallen the offender. Pilinörtiti, on the other hand, is usually performed to bring about the cessation of some ill-fortune which is not due to any fault on the part of the sufferer, but it may also be done in expiation of an offence.

One essential feature common to all three offerings is that [295]the primary divisions of the clan called kudr (see p. 542) here become of importance.

Nearly every Toda clan is divided into two kudr, and the offerings in the three ceremonies always pass from one kudr to the other. The offering which is given by a man of one kudr becomes the property of the members of the other kudr. At the present time the kudr is of no importance except in connexion with these ceremonies, and, so far as I could learn, it never had any other significance. There are a few clans of recent origin which have no kudr, and members of these clans cannot make the offerings. In other clans, one kudr has become extinct, and so long as no occasion for these ceremonies should arise, nothing is done to supply the deficiency. As a general rule, it is only when some trouble arises which may require one or other of these ceremonies that a redistribution of the members of the clan is made, and it is decided that one or more of the pòlm or smaller sub-divisions of the clan shall be constituted a new kudr.

The following are the chief offences for which the irnörtiti or tuninörtiti ceremonies have to be performed:—

(i) Stealing milk, butter, buttermilk, or ghi from the dairy.

(ii) Going to the dairy after having had intercourse with a woman in the day-time.

(iii) Quarrelling between people of the same clan on a feast day.

(iv) Quarrelling in the dairy.

(v) Going to the dairy after visiting the seclusion-hut for women (see Chap. XIV).

(vi) Going to the dairy after taking food with a man who has been to the seclusion-hut.

(vii) Going to the dairy after throwing earth at a funeral (see Chap. XV).

(viii) Going to the dairy after chewing tobacco.

(ix) Buying or selling buffaloes on the madnol or sacred day of the village or on the palinol, the sacred day of the dairy (see Chap. XVII).

(x) Driving buffaloes from one place to another on these days. [296]

Going to the buffaloes or touching the buffaloes is an offence of the same rank as going to the dairy.

The general name for all these offences is paliwörtvichi; they are all regarded as offences against the dairy.

For the first three of the offences it is customary that the irnörtiti ceremony shall be performed. For the last seven tuninörtiti is more usual. For the fourth offence the punishment varies according to the status of the offender. If he is a palikartmokh, he usually has to give the tuni only, but if an ordinary man he may be ordered to give a buffalo. It is a far smaller punishment to give a piece of cloth worth about one rupee four annas than to give a buffalo calf, and it would seem therefore that the first three offences are regarded as more serious than the last seven. It would seem also that if a dairyman quarrels in his dairy it is regarded as a less serious offence than in the case of an ordinary man.

The decision as to which ceremony shall be performed rests with the teuol or diviner, but although a diviner usually follows the rules I have given, it seems that he may order otherwise, and if he does so I was told that his decision would be followed. I have a very strong impression, however, that if a diviner ordered a man to do irnörtiti for one of the more trivial offences, the offender would take further advice and consult another teuol before obeying.

There were several other offences for which it was said by some that a man might have to perform irnörtiti or tuninörtiti; thus, if a dairyman gave up his office on any but one of the appropriate days of the week he might be ordered to do irnörtiti, and the same penalty might be incurred if a man assumed office on a wrong day. Similarly a dairyman might have to perform one of these ceremonies if he spoke to a woman in the day-time, and probably if he broke any other of the laws regulating his conduct or made any serious mistakes in carrying out the ritual of his office. One occasion for irnörtiti was said to arise if anyone crossed the Paikara or Avalanche rivers on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, but this is certainly a dead letter at the present time (see p. 418).

There was some difference of opinion about the penalty for buying, selling, or driving buffaloes on the arpatznol, or day [297]on which the father of a man had died. According to one account, the proper penalty for this is that the offender should give a buffalo to his ancestors—i.e., that he should name a buffalo which he would neither kill at a funeral nor sell to others.

In one definite case, however, it appeared that driving buffaloes from one village to another on the arpatznol had been one of the offences for which a man had been ordered to do irnörtiti. In this case, however, other faults had been committed, and it is possible that if driving buffaloes on the arpatznol had been the only offence a slighter penalty would have been inflicted.

The ceremony of irnörtiti was performed thirty years ago after the disappearance of the sacred bells of the Kars kudrpali. In this case the diviners were consulted, and they found that the bells had gone away and would not return. It was thought, however, that the palikartmokh, Kakarsiolv, might have committed some offence against the dairy, or have made some mistake in the performance of his duties, and it was thought best that he should perform the irnörtiti ceremony, though, so far as I could learn, it was not directly prescribed by the diviners.

As we shall see, the irnörtiti and pilinörtiti ceremonies may have to be performed as expiation for revealing the secret lore of Toda institutions, but this is an innovation in custom for which I am afraid I was indirectly responsible.

It does not seem that the penalties with their attendant ceremonies are inflicted merely because it is known that a man has committed any of the recognised offences. It is only when some misfortune befalls a man which obliges him to have recourse to the diviners that the ceremonies are performed.

The usual course of events is that a man, his wife, children, or his buffaloes fall ill, or the buffaloes will not give milk or kick their calves, or the milk in the dairy will not coagulate properly. Whenever any of these ills happen the man concludes that for some reason the gods are angry with him and he goes to the diviners to ascertain the cause of their displeasure. [298]

The diviners may find that the man’s misfortunes are due to the action of a sorcerer, or that he has committed some offence against the dairy, possibly some offence which it is well known he is in the habit of committing. The diviners not only announce the cause or causes of the misfortune, but also give information as to the course to be pursued to remove it. If the diviners decide that an offence has been committed and that one of the ceremonies should be performed, the offender goes on the following Sunday to the dairy or dairies of his village and makes a vow that he will perform the ceremony which has been ordered. The following is probably a typical instance. Ten years ago Kòdrner fell ill and one of his buffaloes died. He and his brother consulted the teuol, who said that they had bought things (i.e., given money from the village) on Mondays and Thursdays, the madnol or sacred days of Kars and Kuzhu. They had also driven their buffaloes from Kars to Isharadr on their arpatznol; there had been sickness among the buffaloes and they had driven them to Isharadr without thinking that it was the arpatznol. The teuol said they must do irnörtiti, and on the following Sunday Kòdrner went first to the kudrpali of Kars (Tarziolv) and then to the wursuli (Karziolv) and made the following vow at each:—

Ir kar Buffalo calf ultâmâ, may it be well, pîrsk illness from ultâkh en, be well I, irnörtkin buffalo will I give,

or “May the buffaloes and calves become well, may I recover from my illness, I will give a buffalo.”9



From this account it seems clear that the ceremony of irnörtiti is not a mere punishment for offences committed. If a man commits any of the recognised offences habitually and with the knowledge of the whole community, it does not appear that anything is done. Only when some severe misfortune befalls the offender does he appeal to the diviners to learn how he has offended and how he can atone for his fault. He gives the buffalo with the definite idea of recovering from the illness or removing any other ills which his [300]offences have brought upon him. Giving the buffalo is clearly of the nature of a ‘sin offering,’ but the offering is only made when the sin has already had evil consequences and it is made in order to remove these consequences. Its object is atonement for an offence committed. It seemed that a man only had resort to the advice of the diviners in the case of exceptionally severe misfortunes. The act of giving the buffalo is attended by ceremonial which involves considerable expense to himself and great inconvenience to all the members of his clan. The expenses and inconvenience are so great that the ceremonies of irnörtiti and tuninörtiti are rarely performed, and in some clans it is many years since they have occurred.

There is one case in which the irnörtiti ceremony may be performed for a reason quite different from any of those given above. Owing to a quarrel which took place many generations ago, the people of Pedrkars (and probably also those of Kulhem) may not hold the office of palol. They may become eligible, however, if they perform the irnörtiti ceremony at Kuudr or Kiudr. It would seem as if they can only hold the office by expiating the offence committed in the remote past by their ancestors.


The Irnörtiti Ceremony

This ceremony takes place at certain prescribed villages, usually at the chief village of the clan, though when a clan has several important dairies the ceremony may be performed at any of them. Thus, members of the Kuudrol may give the buffalo at Kuudr, Kiudr or Miuni.

At nearly every village there is an appointed spot, usually marked by a stone or a group of stones, called irnörtkars, at which the ceremony is to be performed. At Kars there is a row of stones, shown in Fig. 42. At Nòdrs the appointed spot is a pool of water (Fig. 43) by the side of a gap in the long wall of that village.



On the day before the new moon following the vow to give the buffalo, all the women leave the village at which the [302]ceremony is to take place, and all the men of the same kudr as the man who is giving the buffalo must also leave the village if they should be living there. Their place is taken by men of the kudr which is to receive the buffalo. If men of both kudr are living at the village, those of the giving kudr go and those of the receiving kudr remain; thus, when Kòdrner, who lives at Kars, made his offering, he and his brother left and went to live at another village of the clan, while Parkurs and his brothers, who belong to the other kudr, remained behind. If there is a wursuli at the village, the wursol remains at his post. If the palikartmokh is of the same kudr as the offender, he leaves and a new dairyman from the other kudr is appointed. All the men who remain at the village sleep in the outer room of the dairy—at Kars, in the outer room of the kudrpali. The palikartmokh does his dairy work in the inner room as usual and sleeps in the outer room with the rest.

The people live thus at the village for a month, no women, no men of the offending kudr and no people of other clans being allowed to visit them.

The actual ceremony takes place at the end of this month, on the Sunday following the new moon. On the Saturday the man, called the irnörtpol, who is to make the offering brings a female calf between one and two years of age to a wood near the village and makes a rough temporary calf enclosure (kadr), tying the calf to a tree. If the calf is troublesome, the man and his companions may sleep in the wood by the side of the calf, but generally they leave it in the wood and go to sleep in the village where they have been living. The calf must have no blemish, its eyes must be clear, and no part of its ears or tail may be cut.10

On the following morning a boy between ten and fifteen years of age is chosen, who is called ponkartvaimokh, the boy who observes the festival. It is his duty to drive the calf.

All those who are to be present take in their hands green sticks of the kind called kwadrikurs. All have their right [303]arms outside their cloaks (kevenarut), and must have bathed in the morning and abstained from food.

When the time for the ceremony comes, the ponkartvaimokh, who is followed by the irnörtpol and other men of his division, drives the calf towards the village. The people in the village then call out “Irnört! it vos!”—“Give the buffalo! Come here!” and they go to the appointed place and stand on the dairy side of the irnörtkars, or other spot appointed for the ceremony, while the calf is driven up towards the stones or other mark from the side away from the dairy. The palikartmokh, naked except for the kuvn, and the wursol, with the tuni round his loins, stand with the people of the receiving kudr. When the ponkartvaimokh has driven the calf up to the place, he asks three times, “Irnörtkina?”—“Shall I give the buffalo?”—and the palikartmokh replies each time, “Irnört!” The boy then drives the calf across the stones or other mark to the place where the buffaloes of the receiving kudr are standing. According to one account, the calf is driven direct into the tu, but it seems almost certain that this is wrong, though it may be that it is the practice of some clans. The calf then becomes the property of the kudr whose representatives have been living at the village. At Nòdrs the calf is driven through the gap in the wall and across the pool of water in the direction of the conical dairy.

All those present, both the man who has given the calf and his companions and those who have received the calf, bow down to the ground, resting their foreheads on the ends of their cloaks (as in Fig. 44), and utter a formula different for each clan. At Kars it runs:—

Swâmi, Teikîrzi, Târziolv, Kârziolv, Kârzû ultâmâ; îr kark ultâmâ; îrnörtvuspimi,11 ultâmâ.

Then all present go to the dairy or dairies and bow down at the threshold. At Kars they go to Tarziolv (the kudrpali), to Karziolv (the wursuli), and to Karzu (the buffalo pen) and [304]bow down at the threshold of each, and then all partake of a feast. The food has been prepared by the dairyman, and includes the special kind called ashkkartpimi, which is eaten outside the dairy. Only the men of the clan who have taken part in the ceremony may be present at this feast.



After the feast all the men belonging to the kudr of the irnörtpol must again leave the village, but the only one of their number who is subject to any special restrictions is the boy who has acted as ponkartvaimokh, who must avoid women and must sleep in the dairy of some village until the end of the whole business. He is spoken of as being in the condition called pon and derives his name from this.

The wursol and the palikartmokh of the village at which the ceremony has taken place must stay there for another month, but the men of the kudr which has received the calf may stay there or not as they please. No women and no [305]people other than men of the same kudr may visit the village during this time.

At the end of the month the people who have been occupying the village rub the dairy or dairies thoroughly with buffalo-dung (palikâratiti, dairy he purifies). All the people of the village then return and another feast takes place, in which the food is rice boiled in milk. Then the usual inhabitants of the village return to their houses, and if any men of the receiving kudr have come from another village, they return and life resumes its normal course.

The ceremony of irnörtiti may thus involve the removal of the usual inhabitants from a village for about two months, and the giving of two feasts, while the man who has offended also loses a calf. The Todas probably think little of the inconvenience of removal, though probably they are more troubled by it now than in former times, especially when they have to leave a village like Kars, which is, under normal circumstances, always inhabited at the present time. It seems that the inconvenience, together with the expense of the feasts, is sufficient to render the ceremony a very unusual incident in the lives of the Todas.



The smaller importance of this ceremony as compared with irnörtiti is shown in several ways. The ceremony may be performed at any village at which there is a dairy, and it is not necessary for the people of the receiving kudr to stay at the village for a month before the ceremony is performed.

The prescribed day is Sunday, and on the previous day all the people of the same kudr as the giver of the tuni leave the village, and the men of the other division come and sleep in the dairy as before the irnörtiti ceremony. The man who gives the tuni is called the tuninörtpol, and he procures the garment from a Badaga, paying for it about 1 rupee 4 annas.

On the Sunday morning the tuninörtpol comes with some companions, all having abstained from food. The palikartmokh, who must be of the same kudr as the other men at the village, goes to the front of the dairy and one of the men calls out, [306]Tuninörtpol bon!”—“Cloth giving man, come!” The tuninörtpol, who is standing at an appointed spot not far off, goes to the dairy, lays the tuni at its threshold, and bows down, touching the cloth with his forehead. While he is doing this the palikartmokh prays in the inner room of the dairy and the men staying at the village pray in the outer room. Then the tuninörtpol enters the dairy and is given buttermilk and food by the palikartmokh, after which he stays in a wood near the dairy all day and returns to the village where he is living after night-fall. The people of the receiving kudr stay at the village for a month, at the end of which they have a feast and then all return to their own villages.



In this ceremony a man gives a silver ring. The offering is differentiated from those already described in that it may be given to bring about the removal of misfortunes which are not due to any offence committed by the man. In some cases, however, the ceremony may be undertaken as an atonement for an offence. Kòdrner, my guide, had to give a ring to the dairy at Kiudr in the general distribution of penalties which followed my visit.

The custom of pilinörtiti is limited to certain villages or clans. According to some accounts it is only followed at the villages of Kiudr and Kanòdrs, noted for the special sanctity of their dairies. According to others the ceremony is performed by the Karsol at the dairy of Kuzhu, and at Nidrsi I was shown a small stone, almost completely buried in the ground, which was called the pilinörtkars, and this indicates that the ceremony was also at one time performed at this village. The ceremony is certainly of especial importance at Kiudr, and the following description is of the procedure at this place.

If a man has no children, or if he becomes ill, or if his buffaloes give no milk, he may make a vow to do pilinörtiti. If he is a member of the Kuudrol, the people of the kudr to which he does not belong go to the dairy. The offerer of the ring sleeps the night before in the dairy of his village and goes [307]in the morning with one companion to Kiudr, taking care that no one sees him by the way. Both must go without food.

On reaching Kiudr the two men go to the stream called Keikudr12 which flows between the dairy and the dwelling-huts, and after washing hands and face in the stream they wait there. The people of the other kudr who are in the dairy light a lamp and place it between the two rooms, and then one goes to the door of the dairy and calls out three times “Pilinörtpol bon!” The men at the stream are not within sight, but they hear the summons and come to the front of the dairy. The men in the dairy lay the tuni of the dairyman at the threshold and the pilinörtpol places the ring on the cloth and bows down, touching the cloth with his forehead, and prays as follows:—

Tânenmâ, May it be well, târmâmâ; may it be well; atch little kar calf give mâ, may, atch little mokh son give mâ; may; kar calf kulâth, not refuse milk, kar calf kuleiti take milk give mâ, may, kar calf nesâth, not kick away, neseiti stand give mâ; may; opath once ûtm meal âthi it is punerd twelve kwar years arki vow madi; will; may there be ârk mâ; no disease; nudri may there be ârk mâ; no trouble; kazun may there be ârk mâ; no kazun; per may there be ârk mâ. no Tamil.

The free rendering of this prayer was said to be as follows:—

“May it be well; may my buffaloes have calves; may I have children; may my calves have milk, and may they not be kicked away by their mothers; as surely as I am shortly to take food, do I make my vow for ever and ever; may I and my buffaloes be free from disease; may no evil befall me; may there be no kazun (see p. 403) to kill me; may no Tamil or other outsiders come to disturb me.”

The last clause was said by Samuel to be interpreted: [308]“Let me not get into trouble with the government,” but it is probably much older than this interpretation would indicate, and refers to the former dislike of the Todas to any intercourse with people other than the Badagas and Kotas. “Twelve years” is a common expression for an indefinitely long time, and may be translated “for ever.” The practice of combining positive and negative sentences as in this prayer is one which seems to be not uncommon in the Toda language. It will be noticed that several of the clauses are identical with those of the prayer ordinarily used in the dairy.

When the pilinörtpol has finished his prayer he rises, and the palikartmokh takes up the tuni and the ring and puts them in the dairy. Then the pilinörtpol and his companions go into the outer room of the dairy and take food prepared by the dairyman, after which they go to a wood near Kiudr and stay there till after nightfall, when they make their way home, taking care not to be seen by anyone.

If the ring is given by one of the Kuudrol it becomes the property of the men of the other kudr, but as its value is very small, only from four annas to two rupees, it is not divided, but is usually taken by the man of the kudr who takes the chief part in the ceremony.

The ceremony as described above resembles those of irnörtiti and tuninörtiti, in that the offering is given by a man of one division of the clan to the members of the other division.

Pilinörtiti may also be undertaken by a man as an atonement for wrong-doing, and in the only case of the kind of which I know, the wrong-doer, although he belonged to the Kars clan of the Tartharol, had to make the offering to Kiudr. In this case there was no question of the ring passing from one kudr to another, and it probably became the property of the man connected with Kiudr who took the chief part in conducting the ceremony.

Various unfortunate events which occurred during my visit to the Todas illustrate very well the working of the regulations which have been described in this chapter. One of these misfortunes befell Kutadri, who went with me to visit the Kundahs, the headquarters of the Pan clan. Mr. [309]Mackenzie, with whom I was staying, had shot a sambhar, and Kutadri joined others in making a hearty meal on the flesh of the animal. The next day he felt far from well, and searching in his mind for the cause of his sufferings, his suspicions did not fall on the sambhar, but wavered between sorcery of the Kurumbas and the anger of the gods of the locality, because he had shown me certain sacred features of the land. He was unable to continue to act as my guide, rendering my visit to the Kundahs largely fruitless, and on his return home he frightened himself into serious illness.

Teitnir, who had told me many things, but, above all, had dared to show me the erkumptthpimi sacrifice, lost his wife a few days after this ceremony. She had given birth to a dead child, and in spite of obviously serious fever, she had gone through a trying ceremony connected with removal to the seclusion-hut, and had walked a long way to this hut. Two days later she died.

Kaners, who had been my chief informant on the procedure of the ti dairy, awoke one morning to find the dairy of his village burnt. No human agency seemed possible, and no doubt was entertained that it was another manifestation of the displeasure of the gods.

Numerous councils were held, and the diviners were consulted, on this occasion Midjkudr and Tadrners. They found that Kutadri’s misfortunes were due to his having revealed to me secrets about Pan, although, as a matter of fact, his illness had prevented his telling me anything of importance. It was decided that he was to give a buffalo to the Pan ti.

The death of Teitnir’s wife was found to have two causes.13 The first was that Teitnir had shown me the erkumptthpimi ceremony; the second was that he had gone with his wife to Lake View, the house of the Zenana mission, and had stayed there for several months, Teitnir having done this in order to avoid losing his wife according to the terersthi custom (see Chap. XXII). For the first offence Teitnir was to do irnörtiti to his clan, the Kuudrol, and for the second offence he was to give a buffalo to the Amatol, [310]his pia, or grandfather, being especially singled out among them. The latter penalty was paid before I left the hills. Teitnir devoted a sacred buffalo (pasthir) to his grandfather, and as a sign that he had done so, he did kalmelpudithti to Ivievan (52), one of the chief men of his family. The giving of the buffalo was followed by a feast.

The teuol were also consulted on account of the burning of the dairy belonging to the village of Kaners. They decided that the loss of the dairy was due to spontaneous combustion, “had burnt of itself,” because Kaners had revealed to me the secrets of the ti, and, as he had told me chiefly the procedure of the Nòdrs ti, he was sentenced to do irnörtiti to this institution.

Kòdrner, who had been my general assistant, was directed to perform pilinörtiti to Kiudr, and the teuol also said that all the Todas were to do irnörtiti to the ti dairies because the elders had not intervened and put an end to the revelations which the people had been making to me.

Unfortunately these decisions of the teuol were only given out very shortly before I left the hills. Indeed, the divination appeared to be still going on when I left, probably in order to obtain further light on the troubles. I had therefore no opportunity of witnessing the various ceremonies which were to result from my visit. I hoped that Samuel might have been able to see some of them, but the only proceedings of which he was able to give me any account took place on January 5th, nearly a month after my departure, when all the Todas assembled at the ti mad of Mòdr, where the buffaloes of the Nòdrs ti were standing, and prayed to the ti to pardon them for the sins they had committed in revealing its secrets. After praying, they took food in the pül of the dairy, and did not return home till the evening. I was not told of the existence of any such ceremony of atonement by prayer only, and I strongly suspect it was an innovation adopted in order to avoid the expense of the general irnörtiti to the ti which the diviners had prescribed.

Several of the offerings which were thus ordered by the teuol seem clearly to have been of the nature of punishment. Kòdrner was to do pilinörtiti because he had helped me, and [311]the Todas in general were to give buffaloes to the ti dairies. When I was first told about these offerings, I was inclined to regard them in general as punishments and to treat them as if they were social regulations. With further knowledge it seemed clear that they were distinctly of a religious nature, and were really sin offerings designed to propitiate the gods and bring about the removal of misfortunes which had come upon the offenders. I have therefore described these offerings in the same chapter as the ceremony which is clearly a sacrifice.

The variety of the irnörtiti ceremony in which a buffalo is given to the ti dairy is that which approaches most nearly to a sacrifice; the offered animal is not killed, but in going to the sacred herd of the ti, it may clearly be regarded as devoted to the service of the gods. The ceremony of pilinörtiti to the sacred dairy of Kiudr is again an example of an offering to a higher power in those cases in which the ring is given by a man of another clan so that the mechanism of the kudr does not come into play.

These clear examples of offerings to gods or sacred places are, however, very closely related to the other cases in which offerings simply pass from one division of the clan to another. It seems that we have in these offerings a good example of something which is midway between a social regulation of the nature of punishment and a definitely religious rite of propitiation of higher powers.

There are two chief possibilities. The idea of offering to a higher power may be primary, and the ceremonies of irnörtiti, &c., in which the property merely passes from one division of the clan to the other may be secondary modifications to keep property within the clan. On the other hand, the mechanism of the kudr may be primary, and irnörtiti to the ti dairy and pilinörtiti to Kiudr may be religious developments of what was originally a social regulation.

I have no information which enables me to say that one of the two possibilities is more probable than the other. The solution probably depends on the much larger question, whether the Todas are people whose religious system has developed out of the state of many primitive people where [312]social regulations exist without anything which can clearly be called a religious sanction, or whether they are a people whose religious system has degenerated from one higher than that they now possess.

If the former supposition is correct, it is probable that the religious sanction has been added to the system of social punishment, which seems to be all which clearly exists in the offerings when these are kept within the clan. If the latter supposition is correct, it seems more likely that the whole mechanism of the kudris a device by which offerings which should be made to a higher power may remain the property of the clan.

The fact that the giving of the buffalo or other offering is accompanied by prayer and the various restrictions of a more or less religious nature which accompany the ceremonial show that at the present time the ceremony has in all cases a very definitely religious character, but it is quite possible to regard these features in two ways, either as accretions to a system of social punishment or as vestiges of what was once a purely religious sacrifice in which the offerings were given to the gods. [313]

1 Our final difficulty, the laughter over which seemed to overcome Teitnir’s scruples, was in the identification of the spleen, which was described as “a little tongue.” 

2 This and the succeeding photographs were taken in a badly lighted wood, and represent the actual ceremony. 

3 The importance of the omentum in Indian animal sacrifices suggests that the tütmîis might have been the omentum, or have included part of the omentum. At this stage of the proceedings, so many operations were going on simultaneously that exact observation became very difficult. 

4 Andropogon Schœnanthus, a strongly-scented grass. 

5 ? Kiaz. 

6 This estimate included the value of the calf four years hence! 

7 Haug’s Aitareya Brahmanam, Bombay, 1863, vol. ii., p. 85, note II

8 I have some reason to think, however, that er may be used as a term for ‘buffalo’ in general, whether male or female. 

9 From the nature of this formula it might be expected that the ceremony would only be performed if the man’s wishes are fulfilled, but, in practice, I think it is clear that the performance is not conditional on the recovery of himself or his buffaloes. 

10 The special mention of uncut ears and tail in this and the erkumptthpimi ceremony suggests that the widely spread practice of cutting the ears of animals may occur among the Todas, but I have no other notes on the subject. 

11 Or irnörtpuspimi, “buffalo giving have we come.” The whole formula runs, “Swami, Teikirzi, the kudrpali, the wursuli, the buffalo pen, may it be well; may it be well with the buffaloes and calves; buffalo giving have we come, may it be well.” 

12 This is mentioned in the prayer of the Kiudr dairy (see p. 220). 

13 According to a later finding of the teuol, the death of Tersveli was due to sorcery (see p. 261). 




The ceremonies connected with childbirth begin before the birth of the child. These ceremonies are only performed for the first child or when the woman obtains a new husband, so that they may, from one point of view, be regarded as marriage ceremonies. Nevertheless, I prefer to consider them here, and to leave the ceremonies more strictly connected with marriage till a later chapter. These latter ceremonies are far less elaborate than those to be described in this chapter, and may be more fitly considered in connexion with the social regulation of marriage.

At or about the fifth month of pregnancy, a ceremony is performed which is called ûr patitth kaitütitthpimi, “village left, hand we burnt,” or more shortly, ürvatpimi, “village we leave,” or kaitütitthpimi. The ceremony is named from its two essential features; the woman leaves the village and lives secluded in a hut and her wrists are burnt.

When it is known that the ceremony is to take place, a special hut, called puzhars (Fig. 45), is built in a prescribed place at some little distance from the village, or if this building already exists, it is put into good order. The word puzhars means “mud-house” or “earth-house,” which would seem to point to a time when a temporary hut of mud was used, but at the present time it is built of wood, though it is of much simpler and rougher construction than the ordinary house.

The distance of the puzhars from the huts in which the people live depends on the degree of sacredness of the village. According to Breeks, the distance is greatest in those villages [314]which have a dairy of the conical kind, but it seems that there is no real difference between these villages and any other etudmad. In some cases when the dairy has a high degree of sanctity, the puzhars may be at an adjacent village; thus, a pregnant woman of Kiudr goes into seclusion at Molkush, about a quarter of a mile away, and at this village the seclusion-hut (Fig. 45) is about a hundred yards from the house in which the people live.



I may mention here that the objection to the presence of a pregnant woman in one of the more sacred villages may extend to a time when she is not in the seclusion-hut. When I [315]visited Kiudr for the purpose of testing the people of the village for colour-blindness, Sintagars, who was pregnant and was living at Molkush, was not allowed to come to the hut to be tested like the rest, but sat on the mound shown in the foreground of Fig. 7, about thirty yards away.

The features of the hand-burning ceremony as performed by the Tartharol differ considerably from those for a Teivali woman, and I will begin with a description of the former.

On the day of the new moon, the woman goes to the puzhars. The husband (or in his absence his brother or other near male relative) cuts six sticks of the kind called kwadrikurs and sets them up so as to represent a dairy with two rooms, which is called pülpali. He then cuts four bamboo-reeds called wadr, about eighteen inches long, which represent dairy vessels; two of them are called patatpun, and the other two ertatpun. He fills these with water taken neither from the pali nipa nor from the ars nipa, for if he touched the water of either of the streams, they would be defiled and their water could not be used. He therefore fetches the water from a stream at some distance from the village.

The husband brings the reeds half filled with water and places those called patatpun in the inner room of the pülpali. He takes the other two—the ertatpun—to a two-year-old female calf (pòl), and pours out the water from one reed on the left side of the middle of the back (ûv) of the calf, and catches the water in the other. He then gives two leaves (kakuders) to the woman, who makes a leaf vessel, into which he pours three times from the ertatpun the water which has flowed from the back of the calf. The woman raises the leaf vessel to her forehead and then drinks, and the man puts the two ertatpun into the outer room of the pülpali.1 The woman then bows down with her forehead to the threshold of the pülpali, and the man takes up the sticks forming the imitation dairy and the four reeds and throws all away. [316]

The woman has brought with her a new earthenware pot called mâtkûdrik, into which she puts food (rice or grain) and water, and places it on a small oven made on the spot with stones. When the food is cooked, the woman takes two leaves called pelkkodsthmuliers, i.e., leaves used in the ordination of the palikartmokh, and portions out the food on the leaves. She then brings two pieces of wood called parskuti (Eleagnus latifolia), puts them in the ground and covers them with a blanket. The two leaf-plates with the food are now placed on the two pieces of wood, one on each, and the woman asks Pîrn podia, Piri podia? (podia = have you come?) My informants could tell me nothing about Pirn or Piri, except that the former was supposed to be male and the latter female.

The woman throws the parskuti into the bushes, this procedure being called tapi kûrs vutpimi, “bushes stick throw we,” and then makes a little roll of threads which is called pashti, puts it in the fire and burns herself with the roll in four places, two on each hand, once on the prominence formed by the carpo-metacarpal joint of the thumb, and once on the prominence formed by the styloid process of the radius. The burning is sometimes done for her by the woman who is to stay in the puzhars with her2 during her period of seclusion. When the ceremony is over, the woman goes into the hut with her companion and stays there for nearly a month, till three or four days before the next new moon. While in the seclusion-hut, the woman is visited by relatives and friends, who do not, however, come near the hut, but stand some way off and say kaitütudpatia? (“Have you had hand-burning?”) They leave a present of rice for the woman and go to the people of the village, by whom they are entertained.

When the woman comes out of the puzhars at the end of the month, there is a ceremony called marthk maj atpimi, “To the village buttermilk we pour.” Early in the morning of the appointed day a man of the Melgars clan comes to the village and milks one of the ordinary buffaloes (putiir) into the vessel called kabanachok. The buffalo must not have [317]been milked by any one else since the time it last calved. The Melgars man places the milk in front of the hut where the woman usually lives, and then goes away, and the milk is taken by the people of the village. In the evening, after the day’s work is over and the buffaloes are shut up for the night, a woman is chosen who has had no contact with the secluded woman, and she takes the milk drawn by the Melgars man to the puzhars, together with the leaves of the kind called parsers. She pours out the milk three times into these leaves and gives to the pregnant woman to drink. The latter has previously bathed and put on a new mantle, and after drinking she returns to the ordinary hut and may resume her household work.

The milking is done by a Melgars man for all the Tarthar clans except that of Kwòdrdoni, where the buffalo is milked by a man of that clan. I do not know why this clan forms an exception to the general rule, but Kwòdrdoni is one of the most remote Toda villages, and it is possible3 that the difficulty of getting a Melgars man to come to them has led the people to do this part of the ceremony themselves.

For fifteen days after leaving the seclusion-hut, the woman must drink buttermilk procured from a Melgars dairy, and must take food called peritòr,4 viz., grain or rice which has been cooked in Melgars buttermilk. At the end of the fifteen days she gives up taking the peritòr, but continues to drink Melgars buttermilk for another fifteen days.

For a woman of the Teivaliol, the ceremony of urvatpimi is much more simple. No pülpali is made, and the husband fetches two pieces of reed only, which are called ertatpun. They are half filled with water, which is poured from one over the back of a calf into the other as in the Tarthar ceremony, and the woman drinks in the same way, but this is immediately followed by the hand-burning, and the rite with the two sticks and the invocation of Pirn and Piri is entirely omitted. [318]

The Teivali ceremony on coming out of the puzhars takes place in the early morning. A man (not the husband) fetches water from the ars nipa in a brass vessel called achok. He takes the vessel to a pregnant buffalo and tries to milk the buffalo over the vessel of water. Although no milk comes, the attempt is supposed to convert the water in the vessel into milk. The woman then leaves the seclusion-hut and is given two leaves (parsers), of which she makes a leaf cup, and the man pours the water which is supposed to be milk into the cup three times, and the woman drinks each time after raising the cup to her forehead. The woman and her companion then go to another special hut, called aliars, and stay there for a week, or if there is in the village a house of the kind called merkalars (see p. 29), the woman may go to the hinder part of this house instead of to the aliars, but in this case all the household things have to be removed from the merkalars.

At the end of the week in the aliars or merkalars, there follows the ceremony called marthk maj atpimi. Early in the morning the palikartmokh brings penmaj (i.e., butter and buttermilk) in an earthenware pot and two firebrands (tütkuli) to the front of the hut, puts the brands on the ground, lays the pot on them for a time, and then puts the pot on the raised platform in front of the hut. He then goes away, and a woman brings a brass vessel (terg) and transfers the butter and buttermilk to the terg, and gives it to the woman, who drinks and goes to the ordinary hut.

While the woman is in the aliars or merkalars, she is not confined to the dwelling as when in the puzhars, but may go about. She must not, however, do any household work, nor go to any other village, nor to the ordinary huts of her own village. If in the hinder part of the merkalars, she must not go to the fore part of the house.

Thus the ritual of the Tartharol differs greatly from that of the Teivaliol in these ceremonies. The rite of making an artificial dairy is entirely omitted by the Teivaliol, and, as we shall see later, it is also omitted in a similar ceremony performed after childbirth, though the pieces of reed used to pour water over the calf are named after dairy vessels in both cases. I could obtain no explanation of the difference of [319]procedure, nor of the omission of the invocation of Pirn and Piri by the Teivali division. It is possible that this latter ceremony has been borrowed, but if so, there is no obvious reason why it should have been borrowed by one division, and not by the other.

In the ceremonies accompanying the return to ordinary life, it is perhaps natural that the Melgars man should only take part in the proceedings of his own division. The other chief difference in the procedure of the two divisions is that the return takes place in two stages among the Teivaliol, while the Tarthar woman goes directly from the puzhars to the ordinary hut. I was told that the difference was connected with the fact that the Tarthar women drank milk, whilst the Teivali women did not, but I could not discover why this should lead to a difference of procedure.


The Pursütpimi Ceremony

About the seventh month of pregnancy a ceremony is performed, which is called pursütpimi, “bow (and arrow) we touch.” This ceremony begins on the evening before the day of the new moon. The pregnant woman goes into a wood about a furlong from the village at which she is living. She is accompanied by her husband, or if she has several, by the husband who is to give the bow and arrow. The husband cuts a triangular niche in a tree,5 of which the Toda name is kers. The niche is large enough to contain a lamp, and is made a few feet above the ground, so that it is about on a level with the eyes of the woman when she is sitting on the ground. Ghi is then put in an earthenware lamp, which is lighted and placed in the niche. Some sort of arrangement is made on the tree to provide a covering under which the woman is later to sit, but I could not satisfy myself exactly how this is done. Husband and wife then go to find the wood called puv,6 and the grass called nark.7 A bow (purs) is made from the wood by stripping off a piece of bark and stretching it across the bent stick so as to [320]form the string of the bow.8 The grass is put in the little artificial bow so as to resemble an arrow.

The husband and wife return to the tree with the bow and arrow, and the relatives of the pair come to the spot. The father of the woman promises a young female calf, the offspring of a given buffalo, which he names, saying after the name pòl todein, or “calf I have given”; thus, Kemars pòl todein would mean, “I have given a calf, the daughter of Kemars.”9 Then husband and wife salute certain people by bowing before them and raising their feet to the forehead (kalmelpudithti). The wife salutes in this way all her male relatives and those of her husband older than herself—i.e., she salutes those whom she would salute in this way under normal circumstances (see Chap. XXI). The husband salutes all the male10 relatives of his wife, irrespective of their being older or younger than himself.

The wife then sits down beneath the tree in front of the lamp, and the husband gives her the imitation bow and arrow. In doing so he says the kwarzam of his village followed by the words “Teikirzi Tirsk, pursvat!”—i.e., “To Teikirzi and Tirshti, hold the bow and arrow!” The wife replies, “purs iveru?”—“What is the name of the bow and arrow?”—and the husband then gives the name of the bow and arrow, which is different for each clan. The question and answer are each time repeated so that they are said three times. The formulæ repeated on this occasion differ for each clan in the kwarzam of the village and in the name of the bow. For the Kuudrol the latter was pursgârûv, so that a Kuudr man would first say, “Atthkar Teikirzi Tirsk pursvat,” and in answer to his wife’s question he would answer, “Pursgârûv”. The only clan which does not say the kwarzam of the village is that of Nòdrs, where only the names of the gods are mentioned.

I only obtained the special names of the bow from three clans—those of Kuudr, Kars and Taradr. That of [321]Kuudr has already been given; the name of the Kars bow is pulkiûkhm and that of Taradr pursüdsk. When the husband gives the bow and arrow to his wife, she raises it to her forehead and then, holding it in her right hand, turns to gaze at lamp in the tree. She looks for an hour or until the lamp goes out, and then all present11 go to the village for food, except the husband and wife. The man makes a fireplace, lights a fire and cooks jaggery and rice in a new pot, using only ghi, and not butter, to mix the rice, and while he is doing this his wife ties up certain kinds of food in a cloth and puts the bundle under the tree. This food includes rice, ragi, barley, wheat, the grain (?) called kirsi (see p. 266), some jaggery and salt. Some pieces of honeycomb are also placed on leaves, which are then thrown away. When the food cooked by the man is ready both husband and wife eat together.

Later the relatives return from the village and all pass the night in the wood, the relatives keeping at some distance from the married pair. At daybreak on the following day, the day of the new moon, all return to the village and feast, food being given to all visitors.

Several of those who have described this ceremony have included in the description an account of “tying the tali.”12 So far as I could ascertain nothing of the kind is done. I inquired into the point many times and all agreed that it formed no part of the Toda ceremony and that its equivalent was the giving of the bow and arrow. More than one man spoke of the pursütpimi ceremony as “tying the tali,” but the latter expression is merely the equivalent of “marriage ceremony,” and the very man who used this expression denied vehemently that tying the tali or anything else round [322]the neck of the woman formed any part of the Toda ceremony.

It seemed, however, that after pursütpimi the woman is allowed to resume her ornaments, which she has been prohibited from wearing up to this time, and it is possible that this resumption of her ornaments may have been mistaken for “tying the tali.” It seemed clear, however, that the ornaments were not put on by the husband, nor did the resumption of the ornaments partake in any way of a ceremonial character.

As I hoped to have a chance of witnessing this ceremony during my visit, I did not thresh out the details of pursütpimi as thoroughly as those of most other ceremonies and my account is not as complete as I could wish.

The ceremony of pursütpimi is of the greatest importance from the social point of view and, as we shall see later, the fatherhood of the child depends entirely upon it. The man who gives the bow and arrow is the father of the child for all social purposes, and is regarded as such even if he has had nothing to do with the woman before the ceremony.

The ceremony must always be performed during the first pregnancy of a woman and it takes place in any succeeding pregnancy only when it is desired for any reason to alter the fatherhood of the children. One of the most serious scandals in Toda society is the birth of a child when the mother has not been through this ceremony.

Both the pregnancy ceremonies are performed at the first funeral of an unmarried or barren woman. In the case of an unmarried girl the bow and arrow are given at the pursütpimi ceremony by a matchuni of the deceased—i.e., by a relative whom the deceased girl might herself have married. The hand-burning of the urvatpimi ceremony is usually performed by a woman of the same clan as the deceased.

Since the ceremonies are only performed at the first pregnancy, or when it is desired to change the fatherhood of a child, it seems clear that they closely resemble marriage ceremonies. They would seem to be either marriage ceremonies which have been postponed till shortly before the [323]birth of the first child,13 or, what is more probable, pregnancy ceremonies resembling those customary in India, which have acquired social significance and have come to resemble marriage ceremonies. But the numerous ceremonies which are performed during pregnancy by the Hindus take place during every pregnancy and are, therefore, sharply differentiated from the Toda rites.



When the woman re