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It has been argued that Malas and Madigas are one, and the sub-categorisation of 15% SC reservations leads to break their unity. If at all, if there is any similarity is to be arrived at, it is like the relation that exists between the Twice born, the Brahmins and the Vaisyas among vegetarians, the Kammas and Kapus among the Sudras. The Malas and Madigas are different in the sense that they among the so-called Un-touchables or Dalits. But in reality there was nothing that unites the Malas and Madigas, according to researches done by Anthropologists.
Malas and Madigas have Different Origins
On the nature of Malas and Madigas, Anthropologist Dr. V. Ramachandra Rao analysed in the following way:
“The Mahars in neighbouring Maharashtra akin to the Malas. Similar communities are found, the Mala- pahadiyas in Bengal and a similar caste in Tamilnadu. There may be a link to the Mallahs of UP, who are ferrymen (river crossing boats), but I’m not sure. Overall, the Malas are still very poor labourers, but many have taken to education and have joined the middle class. The number of educated professional people with a Mala background, like doctors, engineers is rising steadily. There are many in government service. Long time Mala politicians are quite rich, of course. There are very few Mala industrialists.”
Anthropologist, Dr. V. Ramachandra Rao writes about the Madigas:
“One of the largest Scheduled grouping in India, the Madigas has a very ancient presence. They are today mainly poor leather workers and agricultural labourers, although there are references in ancient literature and stories, which allude to their important role. The Madiga community is known as the Mang in Maharastra, the Chakkaliya in Tamil Nadu and possibly the Matang in North India.”
George W. Briggs writes:
“The great leather-working caste of the Telugu country is the Madiga. He lives on the outskirts of the village. He is described as coarse and filthy, as a cater of unclean food, and as a user of obscene language. He works in leather, and serves as a menial and as a scavenger. Many (p. 31) Madigas are practically serfs. Most of them are field labourers. They beat drums at festivals. In some parts of the country they still have their perquisites (jajmdn), these are disappearing under competition. They perform the revolting parts of bloody sacrifices, and aid in removing the demons of disease. Their girls are often dedicated to temple service (behaves). The caste is divided into a number of endogamous divisions with exogamous steps, some of which seem to be totemistic. Widows are re-married. Divorce is easily secured. They have a patichayat, or council. They both bury and burn their dead. In 1902 ten per cent of the Madigas were returned as Christians.” (George W.Briggs, The Chamars, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1920, p. 32)
Malas and Madigas differ in Physical Appearance
It was stated in the Internet Encyclopaedia from Googly, that Malas are well-built people:
“The Malas are generally healthy, well built, stock, dark complexioned, with large heads and faces well proportioned limbs etc.. They are very tough and capable of sustained physical work, which few communities can match. Perhaps that’s why they have a good sense of humour and are cheerful. By the way Andhra area was renowned for wrestlers and wrestling, locally called Malla-yuddha. (Could there be some connection to Malas?)”
Regarding the Mala (Caste) – Wikipedia, the Eree Encyclopaedia, contains as follows:
“Mala or Malla (not the same as the family name Malla) is derived from Sanskrit word Malla for wrestler, which can be loosely translated, as soldier or even, associated with an ancient ruling dynasty in North India and Nepal. It should be noted that the word Mala in Proto – Dravidian means a mountain.”
Anthropologist Dr. V. Ramachandra Rao writes that the Madigas are thin and delicately built:
“The Madigas are light brown to dark complexioned, usually slim and smooth – featured, in some cases delicately built—the girls are said to be of padmini-jati as the old Indian saying goes---- Physically quite different from the Malas. The Madigas are mentioned in very old Indian books so they have been in these parts from a long time.”
George W.Briggs writes:
“Their women are beautiful, and from amongst them are usually chosen the woman for the coarser form of sakti worship.” (George W.Briggs, The Chamars, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1920)
100 years back: Malas are Employees, and Madigas are Coolies
“As bearing on the social status of the Malas and Madigas, which is a subject of dispute between the two classes, it may be noted that all the billets in cotton factories which require any skill, such as engine-drivers, valve-men, moulders, turners, etc., are held by Malas. The Madigas are generally only three-anna wage men, and do such work as turning a winch, moving bales, and other trivial jobs. At a factory, whereat I stayed, at Adoni, there were three wells, viz.:--for Malas , for Madigas, and for the rest of the workers, except Brahmans. And the well water for the Malas was better than that for the Madigas.” (Edgar Thurston, and K.Rangachari, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Government Press, Madras, 1909)
Frequent Collusion between the Malas and Madigas
“A Madigas chindu, or sword dance, was prohibited in 1859 and 1874. But a petition, referring to its obscene nature, and it’s being the cause of frequent collision between the Malas and Madigas, was submitted to the Collector of Kurnool in 1887, by a missionary. The dance was performed at festivals, held annually or triennially, in honour of the village goddess, and during the time of threshing corn, building a new house, or the opening of a newly dug well. The dance, accompanied by song containing grossly indecent reflections against the Malas, was also performed, under the excitement of strong drinks, in the presence of the goddess, on the occasion of marriages. One verse ran as follows: “ I shall cut with my saw the Malas of the four houses at Nandyal, and, having caused them to be cut up, shall remove their skins, and fix them to drums”. (Edgar Thurston, and K.Rangachari, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Government Press, Madras, 1909)
Regarding the culture of the Madigas, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, contains the following:
“Madigas contributed a lot to the music and dance. The origin for the Jaaz drums comes from the primitive but exact rhythm and beat producing “Tappet ”Tanned Skins covered on the wooden round frames and were played by beating them two sticks. The sound variation they bring by warming them when the weather is wet and humid.”
Dr. V. Ramachandra Rao writes that the Malas are cunning and wise and attached to their caste:
“At the same time they are said to be always thinking about some shortcut scheme or the other, somewhat lazy (if they can get away with it). They are said to be unselfish, “have a helping nature” towards everybody, but slightly suspicious of intentions of the forward communities. They are very much attached to their community-caste (although they act as if they are not –they act innocent until caught, when they embarrassedly laugh).” (http:/indeulture0.
Very soon the Malas will become “BC” rather than “SC”
Anthropologist Dr. V. Ramachandra Rao writes that Malas have to be removed from the Scheduled Caste List and be placed in the Backward Caste list; his words are as follows:
“Unfortunately the Malas look down on the Madigas and traditionally had no use for them, and there is a history of clashes with the Madigas, who are another large SC community of south India.”
“Overall, at least in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the Mala-Mahar is forging ahead very rapidly. They are very deeply attached to the works of Dr.Ambedkar. But few Malas have taken to Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh. The Mala quarters in villages generally have a statue of Dr. Ambedkar. Very soon the Malas will become “BC” rather than “SC”. It will display better social development indicators as a community.”
“The upper crust of the Malas in cities are taking to education in a big way and rapidly modernising. (Actually in Andhra Pradesh many of these urban Malas ought to be considered BC not SC if social indication are any index)”
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