Yanadis are one of the major scheduled tribes of Andhra Pradesh. Thurston (1909) noted that the people were natives of Sriharikota island and suggested that they derived their name from the Sanskrit word “anadi” denoting those whose origin is unknown. Now they are predominantly spread over the districts of Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasham and are concentrated in the Nellore district. Yanadis live in symbiosis with non-tribals.
Their population according to 1991 census reports is 3,95,739 in Andhra Pradesh. The total literacy rate among Yanadi is 14.78. Their mother tongue is Telugu.
Yanadis are non-vegetarians and eat the meat of rabbit, fowl, goat, sheep fish etc, but abstain from eating beef. Yanadis mainly subsist on agricultural labour. They are traditionally inland fishermen and are also engaged as watchmen to the fields and orchards of farmers. Collection of firewood, rickshaw pulling, rodents catching etc., constitutes secondary occupation of the Yanadis.
With a view to settle these poverty-stricken Yanadis, Land colonization schemes were started during the British period and continued after the Post Independence period for the rehabilitation of Yanadis. The State Government has also introduced land assignment schemes to provide land for cultivation to the landless Yanadis. Besides, the development schemes under the sectors like education housing, women and child development, medical, health and nutrition, roads etc are also under implementation for the benefit of the Yanadis.
The expected results could not be achieved despite all the above developmental efforts for the Yanadis. Therefore, a decision has been taken by the Hon’ble chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 09-09-1997 to establish a separate ITDA for Yanadis inhabiting Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasham districts.
A Yanadi Development plan has been prepared for the development of Yanadis inhabiting 3722 villages in 166 mandals on Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasham districts.
The Government vide G.O.Ms.No. 136, Social Welfare (TW.Bud.2) Department dated 19-12-2001 issued orders for establishing ITDA for Yanadis. The headquarters of ITDA is located at Nellore town in Nellore district.
The Project is headed by a Project Officer assisted by Development Officer and other supporting staff to implement various developmental programmes.
Yanadis are broadly divided into four endogamous groups on the basis of occupations and dietary habits. The sub divisions are: Manchi Yanadis or Reddi Yanadis (Cultivators and servants) Adivi Yanadis (those living in forests) Paki Yanadis (Scavengers) and Challa Yanadis (those who collect left out food from leaf plates in the dust bins).
The challa Yanadis and Paki Yanadis are considered to be unclear and low among Yanadis. Each division of the Yanadi is further divided into a number of patrilineal exogamous groups representing their lineage names (intiperlu).
Marriage by negotiations, by mutual love and elopement are usual modes of acquiring mates. The re-marriage of divorcees, widows and widowers is permitted. The nuclear type of family is more predominant.
The men and women folk jointly perform the traditional colourful dance viz., Bison horn on festive and marriage occasions. One of the men folk wears headgear made up of bison horn and one or two among them carries big drums and Konda Reddy men and women dance together rhythmically to the tune of the drums.
Each Yanadi habitat invariably consists of traditional village council (Kula Panchayat) for settling the disputes crop up among the Yanadis due to adultery, theft, land disputes etc. The hold of traditional council is still stronger. Generally, the culprits are admonished by way of imposing simple fines followed by feast.
They propitiate some village deities like Poleramma, Chenchamma, Mahalakshmamma etc. In addition to these, they worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses like Venkateswara, Vinayaka and Rama. They celebrate Hindu festivals such as Sankranthi, Ugadi, Dasara etc., and worship their deities.