In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh members of a small caste, Chindu by name, act out a confrontation between Jambava, the first ancestor of Madigas, and ‘Brahman’. Madigas are one of the two major, formerly ‘Untouchable’ caste clusters or blocs of linked endogamous groups of this region. Their main traditional occupations have been focussed on leather. Chindus are not themselves leather workers; they are performers with the right and duty to perform for village communities of Madigas as part of their hereditary occupation.
The confrontation of the ‘Untouchable’ and the Brahman, at first sight the key feature of the performance, displays the centrality and opposition of these two sections of Indian society […] A living caste purana here provides a complex of richly contextualised and related stories and contentions, presented by those for whom they are directly significant and to informed and for the most part personally involved audiences. […] A prime significance of this caste purana […] is in providing a forceful reminder of a previous and here persisting order in which the sheer negativity of the Untouchable category had yet to take hold, in which, in varying degree, the castes so reduced were able to distinguish their identities with pride. What emerges is a world view which does not seek to explain away the discrimination under which they labour but contextualises it and focuses on presenting an embraceable identity.