By Peter J Claus, DP Pattanayaka
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Extra resources for Indian Folklore, Volume 1
Both she and her son became devotees. Madappa was selected to be in charge of preparing Madeswara's oil bath. i and Chennaya is linked with a cult devoted to their worship as heroes. The epic is usually only sung as a part of the cult activities. There it is sung only by members of the Parva caste, a low untouchable caste of sweepers, despite the fact that the caste of the epic is the Billava (Toddy-Tapper) caste, whose members make up most of the cult's devotees. i, or gymnasium. On the following night, a dance dramatization (kola) of their story is performed by the same Parva caste members.
Even a sample list of what they include is staggering. Caste tensions, personality conflicts, relations between kin groups, selfcriticism of communities, tips about family skills, medical information including knowledge of herbs, seasonal changes of weather, crops, qualities of food items, childrearing practices, behavior codes for different social situations ----- these are just a few of the items noticed in the sample provided by the group. That proverbs acquire textual status when they are perceived by the community as collective wisdom authored by elders form legendary times is evidenced by an experiment made by Pushkar Chandervfakar in 1936.
Among the Manipuri (a Tibeto-Burmese language-speaking people) there is no caste system. Audience and performers and drawn form the community at large. Among the Telugus, Kannadigas and Tuluvas---- all Dravidian language speakers --- a caste system is an important part of the social context. The epic heroes, the performers and a large part of the audience are in some way associated with particular castes. ava) caste. The Madeswara epic is more generally associated with a local Shaivite sect, but draws heavily from the Shepherd and Untouchable castes, a feature which perhaps could be linked to references in the text to Madeswara's leather-working and early conversion of Shepherd caste leaders.