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GENERAL NOTICE OF THE TRIBE
Grierson describes it as, “A minor dialect of Berār and the Central Provinces which occupies a position like that of Gondi between Canarese, Tamil and Telugu. The so-called Kolāmi, the Bhili spoken in the Pusad tāluk of Bāsim and the so-called Naiki of Chānda agree in so many particulars that they can almost be considered as one and the same dialect. They are closely related to Gondi. The points in which they differ from that language are, however, of sufficient importance to make it necessary to separate them from that form of speech. The Kolāmi dialect differs widely from the language of the neighbouring Gonds. In some points it agrees with Telugu, in other characteristics with Canarese and connected forms of speech. There are also some interesting points of analogy with the Toda dialect of the Nilgiris, and the Kolāms must, from a philological point of view, be considered as the remnants of an old Dravidian tribe who have not been involved in the development of the principal Dravidian languages, or of a tribe who have not originally spoken a Dravidian form of speech.”
The family names of the tribe also are not Gondi, but resemble those of Marātha castes. Out of fifty sept names recorded, only one, Tekām, is found among the Gonds. “All their songs and ballads,” Colonel Mackenzie says, “ are borrowed from the Marāthas: even their women when grinding corn sing Marāthi songs.” In Wūn their dress and appearance resembles that of the Kunbis, but in some respects they retain very primitive customs. Colonel Mackenzie states that until recently in Berār they had the practice of capturing husbands for women who would otherwise have gone unwedded, this being apparently a survival of the matriarchate.
It does not appear that the husbands so captured were ever unphilosophical enough to rebel under the old regime, though British enlightenment has taught them otherwise. Widows and widowers were exempt from capture and debarred from capturing. In view of the connection mentioned by Sir G. Grierson between the Kolāmi dialect and that of the Todas of the Nilgiri hills who are a small remnant of an ancient tribe and still practise polyandry, Mr. Hīra Lāl suggests that the Kolāms may be connected
1 Linguistic Survey, vol. iv., Munda and Dravidian Languages, p. 561.
with the Kolas, a tribe akin to the Todās 1 and as low in the scale of civilisation, who regard the Kolamallai hills as their original home.? He further notes that the name of the era by which the calendar is reckoned on the Malabar coast is Kolamba. In view of Sir G. Grierson's statement that the Kolāmi dialect is the same as that of the Nāik Gonds of Chānda it may be noted that the headman of a Kolām village is known as Nāik, and it is possible that the Kolāms may be connected with the so-called Nāik Gonds.
The Kolāms have no subtribes, but are divided for purposes of marriage into a number of exogamous groups. The names of these are in the Marāthi form, but the tribe do not know their meaning. Marriage between members of the same group is forbidden, and a man may not marry two sisters. Marriage is usually adult, and neither a betrothal nor a marriage can be concluded in the month of Poush (December), because in this month ancestors are worshipped. Colonel Mackenzie states that marriages should be celebrated on Wednesdays and Saturdays at sundown, and Monday is considered a peculiarly inauspicious day. If a betrothal, once contracted, is broken, a fine of five or ten rupees must be paid to the caste-fellows together with a quantity of liquor. Formerly, as stated above, the tribe sometimes captured husbands, and they still have a curious method of seizing a wife when the father cannot procure a mate for his son. The latter attended by his comrades resorts to the jungle where his wife-elect is working in company with her female relations and friends. It is a custom of the tribe that the sexes should, as a rule, work in separate parties. On catching sight of her the bridegroom pursues her, and unless he touches her hand before she gets back to her village, his friends will afford him no assistance. If he can lay hold of the girl a struggle ensues between the two parties for her possession, the girl being sometimes only protected by women, while on other occasions her male relatives hear of the fray and come to her assistance. In the latter case a fight ensues with sticks, in which, however, no combatant may hit another on the head. the girl is captured the
1 India Census Report (1901), p. 287.
DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD
marriage is subsequently performed, and even if she is rescued
The tribe bury their dead, and observe mourning for 3. Disposal one to five days in different localities.
The spirits of deceased ancestors are worshipped on any Monday in the month of Poush. The
mourner goes and dips his head into a tank or stream, and afterwards sacrifices a fowl on the bank, and gives a meal to the caste-fellows. He then has the hair of his face and head shaved. Sons inherit equally, and if there are no sons the property devolves on daughters.
The Kolāms, Colonel Mackenzie states, recognise no 4. Religod as a principle of beneficence in the world; their gion and
superstiprincipal deities are Sīta, to whom the first - fruits of the tions. harvest are offered, and Devi who is the guardian of the village, and is propitiated with offerings of goats and fowls to preserve it from harm. She is represented by two stones set up in the centre of the village when it is founded. They