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SHANAR CHRISTIANS. (453) THE introduction of Christianity has evidently much improved the condition of these people. Formerly few were able to read; devil worship exercised a degrading influence on their minds; the women were not allowed to cover their bodies above the waist, and their moral and social conditions were very low. Numbers have now been educated in the English seminary at Nagurcool and other mission schools; improvement and progress are visible to a wonderful extent among them. Most of the poorer Shanars continue to follow their former occupation of collecting and extracting the juice of the palmyra palm tree for the preparation of sugar; but of late years many have become rich by cultivation, trade, &c. There are about 18,000 of this race, or caste, under the instruction of the London Missionary Society, and some 7,000 in connection with the Church Missionary Society. Their former religion was quite different to that inculcated by the Brahmins. The objects of the Shanar worship being demons, were supposed to dwell in trees and other localities; and to these demons they offered sacrifices of goats and fowls, and presents of fruit, &c. The Christian Shanars, however, are under a regular system of Christian instruction; every village contains a few Christians, a small church or small chapel, and sometimes a school-room. These Christians exhibit their practical interest in Christianity by contributing liberally in proportion to their means to the Missionary, Tract, Bible, and other Societies. Last year the Christians of South Travancore contributed above Rs. 4,200 for those purposes. They, of course, have put away all their former heathenish customs in connection with marriages, burials, &c.; also the kadumi, or lock of hair, worn by other castes.--[[italics]]Official Report[[/italics]].
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