Dasaiah (dAsayya) (ದಾಸಯ್ಯ) is the name given to a community of religious mendicants, professing the Vaishnava cult. The lord Venkateshvara of Tirupati is their clan God. Usually, they hail from the communities of nEkAra, bOvi, dAsa okkaliga and gangaDikAra okkaliga. It was mandatory for the families belonging to the ‘daasa okkaliga’ community, to have at least one member as a ‘dasaiah’ in a given generation. Of course it does not mean, that he should go around begging alms all through the year. The Saturdays in the month of ShraavaNa are earmarked for this activity. It is speculated that the influence of Sri Ramanujacharya and his sect on the non-brahmin castes must have lead to this practice.
Dasayyas are obliged to wear stereotyped costumes during their regular or occasional meanderings. A white cloak like shirt, an yellow turban and a white dhoti tied crosswise constitute his garments. A necklace made of basil beads (tulasi maNi) and another which is essentially made of cotton threads adorn his neck. A bronze medal with an image of AnjanEya is tied to the second necklace. He holds a conch (shanKa) and a brass plate and a stick to beat it (jAgaTe) with him. Bhavanaasi is a bamboo basket used to collect alms given by the devotees. He carries around a silver arrow with twelve bells tied around it and a colored mask called ‘herega’.
Dasayyas are initiated in to the order, only after they learn a number of chants (mantra) and hymns from their chosen master. They recite hymns such as ‘narasimha gadya’, ‘rAma gadya’ and ‘vishNu pAramya’. Dasayyas have specific roles to play both during their travels and when they are in their native place. They are expected to perform their act during auspicious occasions. Usually they collect alms meant for the Lord Venkateshvara from the rural folk and surrender it to the God when they visit Tirupati.
There are two unique rituals associated with dasayyas. They are ‘maNEvu’ and ‘harisEve’. During these ritual Dasayyas are invited to the homes of the devotees and they worship the God and the tools of their trade. After that many goodies such as honey, jack fruit, bananas and cooked food are spread on huge leaves. Dasayyas eat them directly without using their hands. The leftovers are distributed among the devotees as prasadam. The Dasayyas bless the family after consuming the food.
and their songs were very familiar in the villages of
sociological study of a Vaishnavite mendicant sect of