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Saliya Caste

Synonyms : Chaliya, Sali, Sale

Other Sali Castes : Some of the other Sali castes are:
  • Padmasali - Andhra Pradesh (Telugu)
  • Devanga - Karnataka (Kannada)
  • Saliyar: Tamil Nadu (Tamil/Telugu)
  • Padmasaliyar: Tamil Nadu (Tamil/Telugu)
  • Pattarya: Kerala (Malayalam)
Saliya / Padmashali / Devanga is widely and sometimes interchangeably used. However, Kannada and Telugu Salis differ from Malayalee Salis in many cultural aspects. Former are patriarchal and follow many Brahmanical customs.

Religion : Hindu

Varna : Shudra

Chief Deity : Goddess Bhagavathi

Language : Malayalam

Regional Spread : Northern Kerala and Southern coastal Karnataka

Traditional Occupation : Weavers

Marriage Preference : Prefer marriages within their caste

Division amongst Saliyas : Saliyas are divided into two groups:
  1. Left-Hand caste or Edanga - spread mainly in Kasaragod and Mangalore
  2. Right-Hand Caste or Balanga - concentrated in Kannur
Balangas form 84% of the total Saliya population.
About Edanga Saliyas : Edanga Saliyas follows matrilineal system. As a result of this system the inheritance of Gothras is through mother. The significant illums or gotras of Edangas are Kongn'ni, Anjari, Badiyar, Njand, Murund and Tarurti. Edanga Saliyas do not have surnames.

According to a legend, Saliyas were of Brahmin origin. At some point of time, they struggled to survive performing only Brahmanical rituals. Since manual labor was forbidden for Brahmins, the only way left was becoming shudras and commencing their life as weavers.

Some anthropologists believe the word 'Sali' is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning 'silk cloth'. However, linguistic construction of Dravidian languages traces it's root to Proto-South-Dravidian word 'saal'. In Tulu, 'Saalye' or 'Taalye' means spider. Probably, that indicates why this word was used for weavers. In Tamil, it is 'Saalikan' or 'Saaliyan'. In Kannada, it is Shaaliga or Shaaliya and in Malayalam, 'Chaaliyan'.

About Balanga Saliyas : Balanga Saliya community is mostly found in Kannur. Balanga Saliyas have taken up the caste name Padmashali.

Saliyas Today : Post independence era saw total destruction of Edaanga Saliyas handloom industry in the face of power looms elsewhere in India. The present generation of Saliyas is hardly employed in weaving. Most of them have become professionals. Typical with other Malayalis literacy is near total in Saliya community.

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