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Marriage and Kinship of the Gangadikara Vokkaligas of Mysore (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAM045
Author: Mrs. Bhavani Banerjee
Publisher: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute
Language: English
Edition: 1966
Pages: 238 (38 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 10.0 inch x 7.5 inch
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description

The cultures of peninsular India, and more specifically of the part south of Maharashtra, had its own genesis. It certainly influenced and was influenced in turn by other culture, especially from the north and the east. Within this area there are smaller regions, each with its own pattern, and within each region castes show certain peculiarities of their own. Kinship organisation lends itself to cultural analysis of this type, but only a few studies have been undertaken in this direction. Dr. Irawati Karve has drawn the attention of the anthropologists towards the importance of these studies. Anybody who has gone through her monumental work on kinship organisation in India, will understand how vast the field is and how little has been done. Mrs. Karve has given models in outline for large areas and these need to be examined in detail and so the author undertook this investigation under the guidance of Dr. Karve.

Everywhere and in every society there is always a line which separates the persons whom one can marry from those whom one cannot marry. This basis of exogamy varies from society to society, from the simple family to the most complicated six or eight clan systems. The clan is one such basis of exogamy and in South India it is practically the universal system.

In the course of her study the author came across a clan system based on the worship of gods hitherto only half known or meagrely described. This system which determines the unit of exogamy is called Devara Vokkalu. Families who worship a common divine couple form such an unit.

The investigation posed two alternatives—1) to study only the clan systems in a large area or 2) to study clan in relation to other aspects, viz. kinship and territory, in a restricted area. It was seen that kinship and territory have influenced the nature of exogamy to a great extent and so it was decided to choose the second alternative. Even then the study is far from complete. Actually it can claim to be no more than a small chapter in this field of research.

This work would not have been completed but for the help and suggestions from various sources. My guru, Dr. Karve, not only guided me throughout the whole process of my field-work, tabulation, and writing, but it is from her alone, that I constantly drew inspirations.

I am grateful to Shri Zainuddin Ansari, M.A., who supervised the drawings.

I am also thankful to Shri Srinivasamurthi of Pannikanahlli, Shri Krishna-murthi of Ommadihalli and the Shanbhog of Bogadi for rendering constant help during my investigations in their respective villages.

Thanks are also due to Shri Swaminathan and Shri Beerappa, the then Deputy Commissioners of Mysore and Mandya Districts respectively.

I can never forget the troubles my father undertook to help me in my work. But for his help and encouragement this thesis would never have been completed. No words can sufficiently acknowledge my debt to Dr. S. M. Katre. I am also indebted to the constructive criticisms of Dr. M.N. Srinivas.

Last but not the least I gratefully recall the help rendered by Sri. Mallappa, Police Constable, Mysore during my field work.

N.B.—At the time when the thesis was originally written the present Mysore state had not come into existence. The references to Mysore therefore refer to the territorial limits of the old princely state.


This work was undertaken in order to investigate the kinship and marriage practices of a Kannada caste. The caste chosen for the purpose is called Gangadikara Vokkaliga. It is one of the major agricultural castes of Mysore.

Rice mentions Gangadikaras as the most important and numerous tribe of the “Wokkaligas”. He gives their distribution in different districts, a brief description about their religion and merely mentions their original settlement in the kingdom of Gangas.

Thurston puts them under the name ‘Okkalian’. He improves upon the information given by Rice by devoting a few lines to the description of their marriage and funeral customs with emphasis on rites.

Iyer describes them under the name ‘Gangadikara Okkalu’. He gives a detailed description of the marriage rites and also describes the exogamous groups called ‘kulas’ of the caste. He gives a list of kulas and writes about the marriage restrictions of the caste in the following words—“Two sisters may be married by either one or two brothers, the younger marrying the younger and the elder the elder Brother. Exchange of daughters is allowed but does not find much favour.”

In his “Marriage And Family In Mysore” Srinivas mentions the caste casually here and there in the course of his discussions. About their exogamy he says, “Kula exogamy prevails in almost all the Non-Brahman castes including the Komatis (Vaisyas) but seems to be totally absent among the Brahmans.”....”The Kula objects are not used by the members of the groups. The taboo relationship is the rule between the object and the member of the group. Such a relation exists among the Bedas, Kurubas, Sadas, Okkaligas, Ganigas, Holeyas, Madigas, etc.”

Describing Mallava exogamy he states that among the Gangadikara Vokkaligas also persons worshipping the same female deity are tabooed from marrying each other.

Thus, though the existence of exogamous groups and cross-cousin marriage among Gangadikara-Vokkaligas was known and described by the previous authors, the exact nature of the exogamous groups, the type and the extent of cross-cousin marriage were not investigated. Neither was the nature of exogamous groups fully studied.

In the present work an attempt has been made to discuss in detail these three features of Gangadikara Vokkaliga social structure.

The material presented in the thesis was collected from three villages, one in Mysore district and two in Mandya district. They were:

(1) Bogadi (District––Mysore)

(2) Pannikanahalli (District––Mandya)

(3) Ommadihalli (District––Mandya)

The number of houses visited in each village were—Bogadi seventy three, Pannikanahalli twenty-one and Ommadihalli thirty—in all one hundred and twenty- four.

The visits to the villages were made in two periods. During the first series of visits the necessary information was collected and brought to Poona where the material was collected under the guidance of Dr. Karve. After a complete analysis of the data it was thought the some more information would make the study more complete. So a second visit was planned, during which besides collecting the needed information the old data were also rechecked. The following table shows the exact periods of survey.

VillageDistrictPeriod of Study
First Visit
Period of Study
Second Visit
1. Bogadi(Mysore)28-5-1954 to 17-8-195414-61956 to 12-7-1957
2. Pannikanahalli(Mandya)14-12-1953 to 21-2-195419-12-1955 to 18-1-1956
3. Ommadihalli(Mandya)4-3-1954 to 13-5-195413-12-1956 to 16-1-1957

Being very near to the villages and offering good accommodation, Mysore city and Mandya town were selected as field headquarters, from where daily visits were made to the villages. During these daily visits the author had the privilege of receiving the kind help of the Shanbhogs (village accountants) of the respective village, who rendered every possible assistance. Yet the Gangadikara Vokkaligas of Pannikanhalli and Ommadihalli proved rather non-co-operative and antagonistic towards the author and did not readily give the desired information. The primary reason for this antagonism seems to be a simple one. The author being a woman was the object of ridicule especially for coming alone so far to investigate. She was questioned “Why have you come unaccompanied by any of your relations? or “Why are you not yet married?” or “When you yourself are not married, why do you ask questions about our marriages?” etc. However, it will be unjust to them if the author does not acknowledge the help of a section of the caste who supplied the information to the best of their abilities. The non-co-operative sections remained so even during the second visit. Under the circumstances the author was confronted with two alternatives. The first alternative was to pool together the complete data supplied by the co-operative section along with the scrappy data provided by the non-co-operative section and give some kind of a total picture of the village.

The second alternative was to present the data as supplied by the co-operative section as representing the pattern for the whole village.

The second alternative was chosen because the sample was of reasonable size as it included in all thirty-one households.

The Gangadikara Vokkaligas of Bogadi on the other hand gave the fullest possible co-operation. Therefore, the author was able to get information about each and every Gangadikara Vokkaliga of the village. A complete and exhaustive study of the caste in the village was thus rendered possible.

In all the three villages a house to house enquiry was made. In each house, the author called at, she met and talked to the eldest member, male or female, whoever was available at the time. Generally for such interviews a number of family members were present accompanied by a few neighbours also. The author collected the data about the member of each family in the following way:

(1) Name of the informant.

(2) Place to which the informant belonged as also name of the village of the spouse.

(3) Distance between the villages of each marriage partner.

(4) The kula (clan) and Devaravokkalu of each marriage partner.

(5) A record regarding the kinship of each married couple before their marriage.

With so many people present to help one another, the data was discussed and any mistake was quickly rectified. When the final analysis of the genealogies was made it was found that the separate genealogies in each household could be joined into genealogies belonging to a small number of patrilineal clans. The number of genealogies were reduced to twenty in case of Bogadi, twelve in case of Pannikanahalli and six in case of Ommadihalli.

Before proceeding further it is necessary to describe the genealogies presented in the appendix and also to explain the various columns of the accompanying registers. The name of the informant who supplied the genealogies is placed in blocks in the genealogical tables and is underlined in the corresponding registers. Members of the genealogies are numbered consecutively from left to right and from top to bottom, including all the marriage partners, starting from the male or the female of the oldest generation at the top left hand ending with the youngest child, at the bottom of the right hand corner of each genealogy. The registers and genealogies were prepared as a check, one on the other. For the presentation of the thesis the genealogies would have been quite enough. But, the register of names is necessary for cross-references. Besides, the register represents material which can be utilized for other sociological studies. The names in the register show prevalence of certain name types in a caste as also in a linguistic area. It also shows repeatations of names over certain generations. Hence the register is given as a separate appendix.

The exogamous unit was called Devara Vokkalu in the village Bogadi and kula and Derara Vokkulu in the other two villages. The Devara Vokkalus were given different letters of the alphabet and the Kulas were symbolised numerically. Shortage of the letters forced the author, in some cases to use the same letter with a comma over it, viz. B’, J’, etc.

An important point to be noted in this connection is that whereas both kula and Devara Vokkalu were in concurrent use in Pannikanahalli and Ommadihalli, only Devara Vokkalu was present in Bogadi. As such the symbols used for Devara Vokkalus of Bogadi and also those dealing with Bogadi were specific to that village only and never apply to the parts dealing with either Pannikanahalli or Ommadihalli.


Preface ix
Introduction xi
List of Devara Vokkalu of Bogadi xv
Kulas and Devara Vokkalus of Pannikanahalli and Ommadahalli xvi
Gangadikara Vokkaligas xx
Chapter 1: Marriage and Kinship in Bogadi Village 1
Devara Vokkalu in Bogadi 5
Devara Vokkalu and Kinship 11
Marriage and Kinship
Marriage and territory
Chapter 2: Marriage and Kinship in Pannikanahalli 30
Kula Exogamy 30
Devara Vokkalu 77
Marriage and Kinship 100
Marriage and Territory 110
Chapter 3: Marriage and Kinship in Ommadahalli 63
Kula and Devara Vokkalu 117
Marriage and Kinship 125
Marriage and Territory 138
Summary and Conclusion 81-84
Appendix 1 85-86
Appendix 2 87-124
Appendix 3 125-150
Appendix 4 151-170
Bibliography 171

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