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"Mahadiga" redirects here. For the 2004 film, see Mahadiga (film).
Total population
9000000(90 lakhs)
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana
Telugu language, Kannada
Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Telugu people, Kannadiga, Dravidian peoples

Madiga or Maadiga or Maadigar or Maadar is a Scheduled Caste that is found primarily in the southern Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharastra and Tamil Nadu.[1] They are also referred to by other names such as Maatangi, Makkalu, Madigowd and Madigaru.[2]


Madigas migrated in large numbers to Tamil Nadu at various times. Maathaari, is the original name of the Indian tribe that has been otherwise relegated to a low caste and if not alternatively, derogatively called by various other names. The correct south Indian name is Madiga(Matanga > Madaga> Madiga) the caste has all India presence.In north Kashmir, Gujarath, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, HimachalPradesh Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh . In cental and south India the community has its presence in the states of Telangana, Maharashtra, Madyapradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Matangs are known as Madigas in Andhra Pradesh. It is believed that MADIGAs race roots are from West Asia and parts of Southern Africa and even Europe etc., many centuries ago this tribe came into India and existed with local Adi Andhra caste people.

References to Matangs are found in ancient Jain literature.[citation needed] According to Jain literature, Vinami, the great grandson of Rishabh the first Teerthankar of Jainism, was the founder of Matang race. Suparshvanath, the 7th Teerthankar of Jainism himself was a Matang. His Yaksha (attendant god) was also a Matang. The Yaksha of Mahavir the 24th Teerthankar was also a Matang. Matang Yaksha is Jain God of Prosperity.There is the story of Matang in Jataka Literature of Buddhists.There Matanga is the First fighter against Caste-untouchability(?)

Madigas traditional occupation skill that they were leather-working Madigas produce leather goods is largely constructed for such workers are very small fraction. Madigas are 99% from agriculture background. Skilled workers in Leather industry, Shoe making Industry in India.

Culture & Arts[edit]

Madigas contributed a lot to the music and dance. The origin for the Tribal drums comes from the primitive but exact rhythm and beat producing "Thappeta"(halagi) tanned skins covered on the wooden round frames and were played by beating them with two sticks. The sound variation they bring by warming them when the weather is wet and humid. "Sindu" or "Chindu" is the warrior dance where men dance to the drum "thappeta" beat. They tie the "gajjelu" to their feet, similar to other South Indian dances such as Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi.

Gotra or Clans[edit]

Madiga society is organized into clans, known as bedagus. They do not intermarry within their respective bedagu, analogous to proscription within upper-caste gotras.In karnataka different type bedagus viz.Kuriyaru,Sanna-akkiru,Elubunaru(MLA),Muchuldaru,Basavanaru,Hegderu,Iholeru,Chathriru.Badukulor,Seventhlar,Sindhoger, muchuldar,sindhogere, Doselaru

Supernatural world[edit]

Clarence Clark, in his Talks on an Indian Village, describes the spiritual beliefs of the Madiga people in following sentences, "... there were evil spirits all around him living in trees and streams and large stones, and they would do him a great harm if he is not careful." Clarence continues to 'talk' on how offerings were made to the 'special' stone outside the hamlet smeared with red plant as follows, "... would take a little grain or a few marigolds and put them down in front of this stone, so that the spirit would not be unkind to her..." About the deity in the hut which usually was a rough wooden image painted with few colors placed in a shelf at the corner of the hut he says, "... some rice was put in a bowl in front of her in case she should be hungry, and some times thread for sewing. But strangest thing of all was this -- as well as food and drink and thread, there was a stick in case she needed to be kept in order."

The symbolism involved with food, thread and stick suggests they believed in God(Dess) who can be hungry and thirsty, who is industrious and who is vulnerable. Madigas saw behind every natural calamity the divine wrath and behind every bounty the divine blessing. Often offerings were made to propitiate the Deity who withholds the rain. Even as construction of canals and dams were shown as the means to water the lands and provide livelihood to Madigas during the famine.[1]

Madiga priestesses[edit]

Coyler Sackett, an Anglican missionary, for whom possibility of women-priest was an anathema, describes the attire of the Madiga priestess. "Mark her bold manner, impudent stare, fine figure, and the roll of matted hair lying as an ensign of her trade upon her proud head. She was given to the service of the gods early in life, and what she does not know of immorality, bestiality, and brazen-faced evil can be learnt. Her body belongs to the God. See her in her mad frenzy as, with hair flung free, she serves the deity, face aflame with ungodly lust." Madiga priestesses were consecrated for the purpose early in their life and no restriction of propriety was imposed on them throughout their life. They were free to choose their mates but they usually settle with Baindla priests. The role these priestesses play can be illustrated in the narration of P.Y. Luke and John Carman about a ceremony of sacrifice to Goddess of cholera:

A winnowing fan is put on the pot and clay lid on the fan; some oil is poured onto it. and then a wick is put in and lit. A Kolpula woman sits facing this light inside the enclosure, and she stares steadily at the light. All the goddesses were thought to appear to her through that light. Outside the enclosure, the Baindla priests stand and invoke the goddess, beating their special drums. The Kolpula woman goes into trance, closes her eyes, and is taken possession of by one of the goddesses. The people outside break a coconut, kill a chicken and pour a libation of toddy on the ground where the sacrifice takes place. The women’s face is washed with toddy. Before she becomes unconscious she utters the name of the goddess

In the following rite, the Kolpula woman gets into the platform near the shrine to the goddess Uradamma. A sheep is let loose as an offering to Uradamma, and priestess pierces its stomach with her sword. The entrails, liver, and the lungs are removed. The lungs and liver will be put in the Kolpula woman’s mouth and the intestines around her neck. A new sari and blouse are dipped in the blood of this sheep and then the Kolpula woman put them on. Lime, vermilion, black ash bottlu are put on her whole body, a broken pot on her head. She holds a broomstick in her left hand, a winnowing fan in her right hand, and goes through all the streets of the village, starting from the shrine of Uradamma. Her brother and the Baindla priests follow her, and the Magidas beat drum in front of her.

Madigas also incorporated some of the Sanskrit heroin into their pantheon and deified them. Goddess Gonti or Gontellamma is Madiga version of Sanskrit Kunti. While in Hindu mythologies these women loyally serve their gods, in the Madiga interpretation gods serve these deities.[2]

Popular culture[edit]

A documentary film, Mahadiga, was made by Lelle Suresh in 2004. The documentary film was critically acclaimed.[3]

Genetics of Caste[edit]

Entire population of India are the result of two founder groups one Ancestral South Indians who are not genetically similar to any other population outside India that is ASI are Native to India and the other group Ancestral North Indians are genetically similar to the people of Middle East, Central Asia and Europe (West Eurasians). Genmi (genetic mixing) of ASI and ANI in a major way is estimated to have happened around 2000 BCE that is 4000 years ago whereas ASI are in India since 60000 years. The estimated % ANI content (ASI content is 100-ANI approximately) in various castes is: The ANI genetic content (shown in brackets) in various castes of India: Mala (38.8), Madiga (40.6), Chenchu (40.7), Bhil (42.9), Satnami (43.0),Kurumba (43.2), Kamsali (44.5), Vysya (46.2), Lodi (49.9),Naidu (50.1), Tharu (51.0), Velama (54.7), Srivastava (56.4), Meghwal (60.3), Vaish (62.6), Kashmir Pandit (70.6), Sindhi (73.7), Pathan (76.9). It is interesting to note that Madiga, Mala, Chenchu and Bhils genetically cluster into one founder group that parented all Indians along with West Eurasians since 2000BCE a period that coincides with the collapse of Indus Valley Civilization and the arrival of Indo European languages into India. References:

   [1] Reich, D. et al, Nature 461, 489-494, 2009.
   [2] Priya Moorjani et al, The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2013. See:  
   [3] Elie Dolgin, Indian Ancestry Revealed, 
   [4] Indus Valley Civilization,  
   [5] Bouckaert, R., Lemey, P., Dunn, M., Greenhill, S. J., Alekseyenko, A. V., Drummond, A. J., Gray, R. D., Suchard, M. A., & Atkinson, Q. D.*, Mapping the origins and expansion of the Indo-European language family. Science, 337:957–960.   , 2012.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hassan, Syed Siraj ul (1989). The castes and tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's dominions ([Facsim. ed.]. ed.). New Delhi, India: Asian Educational Services. ISBN 9788120604889. 
  3. ^

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