Castes and tribes of South India
Dasari's are the mendicants of Vaishnava orientation they dont belong to a particular caste and the story how they end up as Dasari is quiet surprising...
The family head, one being devoid of an offspring, vowes if he be blessed with children would devote one of his child to the service of his god. He subsequently gets many sons, one of whom he names 'Dasan' (Servant of God) dedicating him entirely to God. A Dasan is forfeited all claim to participate in his father's estate & subsequently his offspring are therefore all beggars. They usually wander about singing hymns playing a leather instrument called tappai. All Dasaris are Vaishnavites & admission to the community is obtained by being branded (Mudra affixation) by a Vaishnavite guru. They live by begging from door to door, the profession is almost hereditary in some families. The five insignia of a Dasari are the conch shell, which he blows to announce his arrival; the gong which he strikes as he goes his rounds; the tall iron lamp which he keeps lighted as he begs; the brass or copper vessel affixed with Vaishnavite symbols, suspended from his shoulder, in which he receives alms; & the small metal image of Hanumān, which he hangs round his neck. Of these, the iron lamp is at once the most conspicuous and the most indispensable. It is said to represent Lord Venkateshvara. Dasaris also subsist by doing pooja's at ceremonial and festival occasions.
Source: Excerpts taken from the "Castes and tribes of southern India"
by Edgar Thurston, & K Rangachari
Publication date 1909 Publisher Madras : Government Press
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