Introduction / History
The Madiga are a Scheduled Caste and are mainly in Andhra Pradesh (the term mainly from other sources) but also in Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
In Andra Pradesh, the Madiga are also called Adi Andhra, Jambavalu etc. They live mainly in the rural regions. They speak, read and write in Telugu. They are less than average in height. They are not vegetarian and alcohol is consumed. The traditional work of the Madiga is making footwear and leather work. Most of them work as laborers in agriculture. They are Hindus and worship the gods Shiva and Vishnu. Many have become Christians. In urban regions many have good jobs due to their education. The literacy level is low though. They use family planning and modern medicine. The young have taken a liking to computers and machines recently. (indculture0.tripod.com/madiga.htm).
The Madiga, Scheduled Caste, of Tamil Nadu are mainly in the northern districts. They are also called Madigollu. They speak in Telugu and can speak in Tamil also. The work they do includes shoemaking and tanning. Many are agricultural laborers but in urban regions many do industrial work. They have a five member local judiciary. They are Hindus but some have become Christians. They have a low literacy level.
There are only a very few living in Pondicherry and they are also called Adi Andhra. They are mainly leather workers. They are mostly Hindu with a few Christians and Buddhists. Most can read and write.
In Karnataka, the Madiga, Scheduled Caste, are also called Arundhatiyan, Gosangi and Purun Bhatta. They are not vegetarians and eat cereals such as rice. Marriage is permitted with the daughter of the sister of the father, the daughter of the brother of the mother and the daughter of the elder sister. Their main work is leather work, tanning and agricultural labor. They are Hindus but some have become Christians. Their literacy level is low.
The Madiga of Maharashtra, Scheduled Caste, speak Marathi and read and write in Devanagari. The women help in hide tanning and act as midwives. They work in agriculture for example. Not many own their own land. They are on the low side regarding literacy.
The Madiga in Kerala are also called Jambava or Mathanga. They are in the Kasargod region. They speak Malayalam, Kannada and Tulu with other communities. and read and write in Malayalam and Kannada. They eat beef, rice and ragi. They like to marry cousins. Marriages are usually done by exchange or by discussion. Divorce is not allowed but the bereaved can remarry. Inheritance goes to the oldest son. In childhood, ceremonies such as naming ceremonies take place. The dead are buried in their own section.
A traditional caste council judges in disputes among the Madiga. They follow the Hindu religion. They refuse food from the Holeya but accept it from other communities.
(Except for the very few in Pondicherry there is a low literacy level suggesting that there is a need for the gospel to be given in oral form too).
Singh, K. S., ed. "India's Communities A-Z", Oxford University Press, USA 1999