Kodava: Wikis


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From "The people of India: A series of photographic illustrations..." 1875 (New York Public Library).

The Kodava (ಕೊಡವ Kannada script anglicized as Coorgs) are an ethnic group from the region of Kodagu, in Karnataka state of southern India. They were traditionally land owning agricultural community with a martial tradition and natively speak Kodava takk. [1]. The Kodavas have a well defined military tradition during the course of their recorded history and Kodavas generally dignify themselves as Kshatriya, however they are not recognized as belonging to the Kshatriya caste [2] [3] [4]. Their rituals are closely aligned to forms of nature and ancestor worship rather than following strict Vedic principles [3].


Demographics and distribution

The Kodava community numbers about one-fifth out of a total population of over 500,000, speaking the Kodava takk language. Many Kodava people have migrated to areas outside Kodagu, to other Indian cities and regions, predominantly to Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Ooty, Chennai, Mumbai, Kerala, Hyderabad and Delhi for better job prospects. Some of them have now migrated outside India to foreign countries, like North America (the US and Canada),the Middle East(especially Dubai in UAE and Muscat in Oman) and the UK.

Land and Society


Organizational structure

Kodava settlements in coorg are in the form of Okka family groups that are scattered across agricultural and forested holdings, where traditional ainemane houses form focal meeting points in the rural landscape. okka. It is a joint patrilineal clan with males of common ancestry. The male members of an okka share an okka name. Currently there are about 1000 okka names and families in Kodagu. Traditionally all the members of an okka lived in a large ancestral ainemane house (ayyangada mane – House of the Elders).The emergence of townships, as such, has been a relatively recent phenomenon and many of the main towns in Kodagu are inhabited by recent migrants and non-Kodavas. This cluster of homes and property form the nucleus of a village called ur. A group of ur or villages is called the nad. A number of nads make a sime. Traditionally there were eight simes in Kodagu. The land belonging to the okka is cultivated jointly by the family members and cannot be partitioned or sold. The oldest member of the family is the head of the okka and is called pattedara or koravukara. It is a hierarchy that is passed on to the eldest member of the clan by right. Similarly each ur (or ooru), nad and sime has a headman called as takka. The takkas settled disputes and imparted justice after consultation with other elders.

Jamma (Privileged tenureship)

A system of land tenure, known as Jamma, was formerly instituted in Kodagu during the pre-colonial Paleri Dynasty of the Lingayat Rajas [3]. Jamma agricultural lands (generally reserved for wet-rice cultivation) were held almost exclusively by Kodavas as a hereditary right, and were both indivisible and inalienable. Importantly, rights over the adjacent forests (bane) were also attached to Jamma tenure, such that relatively expansive agricultural-forestry estates have remained intact across Kodagu. The exclusion of plantation crops, such as coffee, from India’s Land Ceiling Act has further insulated these holdings from postindependence land reform efforts across India. Importantly, rights over the adjacent forests (bane) were also attached to Jamma tenure, such that relatively expansive agricultural-forestry estates have remained intact across Kodagu. A unique feature of Jamma tenure is that tree rights remained with the Rajas, and were subsequently transferred to the colonial and post-independence governments and remains an import determinant of land use practices in the district.


The Kodava rituals are closely aligned to forms of nature and ancestor worship and under certain circumstances, related to their former hunting culture, the Kodavas would even conduct ceremonies symbolically uniting in marriage the spirits of killed tigers with the spirit of the hunter, highlighting the intimate relationship between Kodava culture and the wildlife living in their forest realm. Sacred groves, known as devarakadu (devara = God’s and kadu = forest), continue to be maintained in their natural state amongst the coffee plantations Rajas [5]. Each village has at least one devarakadu, which is believed to be an abode of the gods, with strict laws and taboos against poaching and felling of trees [6]. These groves are also an important storehouse of biodiversity in the district.

Coffee cultivation

Coffee cultivatuion is widely believed to have been introduced in the western ghats from the Yemeni port of Mocha by the Muslim saint, Baba Budan, in the 16th century [7] and some time after its introduction, coffee cultivation was embraced by the Kodavas in western Karnataka [8].Following the British annexation of Kodagu in 1834, large numbers of European planters began settling in the forested mountains to cultivate coffee, dramatically changing the economic and environmental management structures of Kodava society [9]. Today, more than one third of India’s coffee is grown in Kodagu district, making it the most important growing district in India, the world’s fifth largest coffee-producing country [10].


Kodavas have distinctive dresses, the men wearing wraparound robes called the Kupya (now only seen at ceremonial occasions), and the women with a distinctive style of wearing the sari. The Kodava woman wears a sari with the pleats at the back and the loose end pinned at the right shoulder. They have many distinctive practices such as carrying ceremonial knives, and martial war dances.


Boiled rice (Koolu) and rice gruel(kanjee) formed the staple food of the Kodavas. The coconut, jackfruit, plantain, mango and other fruits and vegetables were widely used. Ghee was used in well-to-do families and on festive occasions. Rice in the form of Kanji or Koolu was served at meals along with curries and other additional dishes. Non-vegetarian food was not objectionable and alcoholic drinks as a rule weren't prohibited. Pork, chicken and river fish were commonly consumed as also were game meat occasionally but beef was prohibited, as killing of the cow was resented and the Kodavas had a pious attitude towards cows like other Hindus. The wealthy owned large herds of milch cattle. Sweet dishes like akki payasa were prepared during festive occasions. Other special dishes included Otti (rice roti), Paaputtu (similar to idli), Noolputtu (rice noodles), Thambuttu (a sweet), etc.


Girls and boys from one okka cannot marry within the same okka. However, cousin marriage between children of brother and sister is accepted (but not between children of two brothers or two sisters). Once married, a girl assumes the okka name of her husband. Unlike many other Hinducommunities, a widow is still allowed to participate in happy occasions like marriages of her children. She is the principal figure to conduct the marriage ceremony that traditionally is conducted without a Brahmin priest. A widow is allowed to remarry and this is a common practice as it is fully accepted.


Coorgs affection to guns has added an element of primitive bravado in celebrations, where gunfire is essential part. The 1891 Census of India classified the Kodava among the Martial races. Recognizing their proficiency in Guns the Britishers gave them rights to own guns without license. After independence of India the Coorgs were exempted from Arms Act so that they can carry light rifles without license within the Coorg district limits.

Other communities and social relationship with Kodavas

Amma Kodava


Amma Kodavas live in the southern parts of Kodagu and follow some of the Brahmin customs. They were the progeny of intercaste marriages between Brahmins and Kodavas during the ancient times. They belong to 44 family names and 2 gothras. Unlike other Kodavas they are vegetarians, they abstain from alcohol, wear the sacred thread and study the Vedas. Otherwise they follow the Kodava habits and customs, dress like other Kodavas and speak Kodava Takk. They are also known as the Kaveri Brahmins. But because of their mixed race they were treated as a lower caste. While the Kodavas are a Forward caste the Amma Kodavas are a backward caste.

Non-Kodava immigrants

These include communities such as Airi, Male-Kudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapala,Heggade, Kavadi, Kolla, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Maleya and others. Many of these communities had migrated into Kodagu from the Malabar region during the period of Haleri Dynasty. They were traditionally treated as lower castes. The Heggade and the Kavadi were agriculturists who weren't permitted to carry arms, the Airi was the village smith and carpenter, the Kaniya was the astrologer, the Madivala was the washerman, the Nainda was the barber, the Setty or the Moplah was the trader, the Bonipatta was the wandering mendicant and the Kembatti was the farm labourer. The forest tribes of Coorg were the Yeravas and the Kurbas (Betta Kurbas and Jenu Kurbas) who were nomads from Wynad and Mysore. The Brahmins from neighbouring lands (Tulunad and North Malabar) served as temple priests in Coorg but didn't possess land in Coorg.


Kodavas were called as Kodagas by Mysoreans, Kodakars by Malayalis and Coorgs by the British. Kodavas are ethnically and culturally distinct from the other people of South India. There are several claims regarding the origin of the Kodavas.


1. One view is that the Kodava culture resembles the culture of the ancient trading stock of Arabia (Moeling 1855).

2. Another view is that the Kodavas are descendants of Scythians (Connor 1870, Rice 1878). According to yet another view, the Kodavas belong to the Indo-Scythian race.

3. Kodavas have a distinct appearance among people in south India since their average cephalic index is 80.6 and the nasal index is 65.2. This may prove that the Kodavas are the descendants of the brachycephalic stock who entered into the Indus Valley during the Mohenjodaro period and migrated to the Coorg region (Hutton, as quoted in Balakrishnan 1976).

4. There is also a legend that during the conquest of Alexander the Great, many of his Indo-Greek soldiers, the Yavanas, stayed back in India. They migrated as warriors down south, married the natives and settled down in the hilly areas of the Western Ghats[11]. These are all theories, and there isn't any definite clue or evidence to prefer one theory over another[12].


Puranic association

The Hindu Puranas (Kaveri Purana of Skanda Purana) claim that Chandra Varma, a Chandravanshi Kshatriya(lunar dynasty warrior) and son of Emperor of Matsya Desha , was the ancestor of the Kodavas. An ardent devotee of Goddess Parvati, he had gone on pilgrimage to several holy places all over India.Chandra Varma had a privy army who escorted him on his campaigns until he came into Kodagu(Coorg). Coorg,the source of the River Kaveri, was uninhabited jungle land when he arrived to settle here. Thereafter he became the first Raja of the Coorg principality. He had 10 sons, the eldest among them was Devavrata who later succeeded him as Raja. They were married to the daughters of the Raja of Vidarbha. These sons and their descendants cultivated and populated the land of Kodagu, they came to be called the Kodava race.Skanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text, is the largest Purana and is devoted mainly to the life and deed of Skanda(also called Subramani, Karthik or Muruga), a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him. The Puranas were recited by Skanda, and it also describes the Shaiva tradition in Hemakuta region (near Vijayanagar) of Karnataka, Kashi part describes the Shaiva tradition of Varanasi, and the Utkal part states about Shaiva tradition of Orissa.

Changalvas and Kongalvas

Both Changalvas and Kongalvas were the feudal lords of Kodagu. Under the suzerainty of Cholas, the Changalvas continued to rule when Raja Raja Chola was ruling in Tanjavur. The descendants of the Changalvas(Changa-lva) and the Kongalvas(Konga-lva)are found today among the Kodava clans of Changanda(Changa-nda) and Konganda(Konga-nda). The name of a Changalva lord Pemma Virappa shows that he belonged to the Pemmanda(Pemma-nda)clan of Kodavas. So these two sets of lords were Kodavas who also ruled parts of Hassan, Mysore and Wynad. Kodavas served as mercenary soldiers in their armied as well as the armies of the Rajas of Karnataka and Kerala. Also they were associated with several South Indian dynasties like the Kadambas, the Gangas, the Cholas, the Chalukyas, the Rastrakutas, the Hoysalas, and the Vijaynagar Rayas.

Hoysala period

During the 12th century local chieftains in the Chola kingdom rebelled against the Chola kings, among them the Changalvas of Kodagu,the Alupas of Tulunad and the Nairs of Kerala.However it was finally the Hoysalas, who were in Belur of Hassan district who drove away the Cholas from the Kannada area of Mysore and surrounding regions. But the Chengalvas who then became independent didn’t accept the rule of Hoyasalas easily. Incidentally, it was during the rule of Pemma Veerappa that for the first time we can see the word “Kodagaru” (Kodavas) carved on the stone shasanas and that the region was called Kodagu. At the same time Kongalvas also accepted the rule of Hoysalas. In the year 1174 AD, Bettarasa the army general of Ballala II, Hoysala King, laid siege upon the Fort of Palpare and fought two battles against the Changalva king Pemma Veerappa. In the first battle Pemma Veerappa defeated the Hoysalas in the “Palser” war but in the second, Bettarasa defeated the Coorgs and made them subordinates. The ruins of Palpare were rediscovered in the 1850s in South Coorg's forests. Inscriptions at Palur and Bhagamandala refer to a king by name Bodharupa (1380) who has not been identified so far properly. A Council of Elders governed over the Coorgs. Some important Coorg Leaders were (Ajjikuttira) Achunayaka of Anjikerinad, Karnayya Bavu of Bhagamandala, Kaliatanda Ponnappa of Nalknad and (Nayakanda) Uttanayaka of Armeri. The ancient Coorgs were allies of the Kolathiri and Arakkal kingdoms of Kannur, some Coorgs served as mercenary soldiers of these Hindu and Muslim Rajas, but in general they traded large quantities of rice in exchange for gold, salt and other commodities with them.

Paleri period and Mysorean invasion

From around 1600 until 1834 the Haleri Rajas ruled over them. But in between from 1774 until 1792 the Mysore Sultans were their rulers. Under the Paleri (Haleri) dynasty Kodagu attained a status as an independent kingdom. When Linga Raja I died, Hyder Ali imprisoned the royal family and took direct control of Kodagu. This enraged the Kodavas and they started heckling the Muslim garrison in Madikeri. In 1782 the Kodavas took power back from Hyder Ali. In the same year, Hyder Ali died and his son Tippu Sultan started his ambitious expansion of the Mysore kingdom. Around 1785, Tippu attacked Kodagu, while returning from Mangalore to Srirangapattana, his capital city. He retained control of Kodagu for sometime by very repressive means. Both Hyder Ali and Tippu were interested in Kodagu because of its abundant rice crop which brought much revenue to the state treasury. Tippu never could continuously hold his power in Kodagu. As soon as he turned his back on Kodagu, the local heroes revolted and took power back from the Muslim rulers. Tippu returned to reclaim control though he found the Kodavas hostile. During his campaigns in Kodagu, Tipu Sultan captured many Kodava men,women and children and took them as prisoners with him to Srirangapattana. The captured Kodavas were asked to embrace Islam or die with their families, those who resisted were put to death while the rest converted. After the demise of Tipu Sultan these Kodava Muslim converts returned to Kodagu but were not accepted back into the Kodava community. They continued to stay in Kodagu and came to be known as Kodava Mapillas. In 1788, Dodda Vira Rajendra, who had been taken prisoner, escaped and defeated Tippu and recovered his kingdom. In 1790 Dodda Vira Rajendra signed a treaty with the British, who promised to protect his kingdom against Tippu’s onslaught. In 1792 Kodagu became independent of Mysore once again. Eventually, the Kodavas backed the British troops and Tippu fell in the year 1799. In addition to the kings' samadhis, samadhis were built for Diwans and for Rajguru Rudrappa. We can see samadhis built for army chief Biddanda Bopu, who was the commander-in-chief for the army of Dodda Vira Rajendra, and his son Somaiah’s samadhi too. On the samadhi of Biddanda Bopu, there is a plate carved in Kannada praising him for his bravery shown in the wars fought against Tipu Sultan. The Paleri rulers continued to rule until 1834, when the British exiled the last of the rajas Chikka Vira Raja. Chikka Vira Raja was a tyrant and was an exceptionally cruel individual who inflicted numerous atrocities on his subjects, the Kodavas in particular. This led the British to intervene and send him into exile. Cheppudira Ponnappa was retained as Dewan of Coorg and later his descendants assumed the role of administrators. The Coorgs were classed as a martial race by the British and were recruited into the British Indian Army. The British recognised the exceptional martial abilities of the Kodavas and used them to put down most uprisings in the region which were done with characteristic efficiency and brutality.

British Period

During British rule, Coorgs entered politics, government service, medicine, education, and law. Under British protection, Kodagu became a State with nominal independence. The Kodavas in turn earned a name as valiant soldiers and officers in the army. Many Kodavas fought in the two World Wars. They earned a reputation as able commanders and brave fighters both under the British rule as well as post independent India. Eventually, famous sons of Kodagu became prominent members of the armed forces of India. General K.S. Thimayya DSO and Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa OBE are both well known names to Indians.In 1950 Coorg was recognised as one of 27 different states of the Indian Union but in 1956 the state of Coorg was merged into Mysore (now Karnataka).

Language and literature

The Kodava language, Kodava takk, itself is related to, and borrows heavily from the neighbouring languages of Kannada, Malayalam, and Tamil; a point which has led ethnologists to speculate that their female ancestry is from the surrounding regions of Kodagu. Kodava takk has a lot of similarity in accent and pronunciation with that of Beary bashe, a dialect spoken by Bearys of Tulunadu. Family histories, rituals and other records were scripted on palm leaves by astrologers. These ancient, scripted leaves called Pattole(patt=palm, ole=leaf) are still preserved at Kodava Aine manes. Appaneravanda Appachakavi and Nadikeriyanda Chinnappa are the two important poets and writers of Kodava language. The Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions compiled in the early 1900s by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, was first published in 1924. The most important Kodava literature, it is said to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, collection of the folklore of a community in an Indian language. The fourth edition of the Pattole Palame was published in 2002 by the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy. Nearly two thirds of the book consists of folksongs that were handed down orally through generations. Many of these songs are sung even today during marriage and death ceremonies, during our festivals relating to the seasons and during festivals in honour of local deities and heroes. Traditionally known as Balo Pat, these songs are sung by four men who beat dudis as they sing. The songs have haunting melodies and evoke memories of times long past. Kodava folk dances are performed to the beat of many of these songs. The Pattole Palame was written using the Kannada script originally; it has been translated into English by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa, grandchildren of Nadikerianda Chinnappa, and has been published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi.[1]

Practices of worship

The temple tank of Omkareshwara Temple at Coorg, the town in the background

Shrines and deities

The Kodavas of Kodagu were originally ancestor worshippers. The chief deities are Bhagwathi(Parvati), Mahadeva(Shiva), Bhadrakali (a form of Parvati as Kali or Durga), Subramani and Aiyappa. Iggutappa, the most important local God, is an incarnation of Lord Subramani , the God of snakes, rain, harvest and rice.The reverence of various spirits in addition to the established gods of Hinduism is also part of their religion. This is similar to the bhuta aradhana of Tulunad. There are many spirits worshipped in Kodagu. The Kodavas also practiced snake worship. On their ancestral clan lands they have a shrine (Kaimada), which is the shrine of the clan's first ancestor (Guru Karana),where they offer prayers and obeisance. The spirits of departed souls who were prominent figures in the community and had done good deeds while they were alive were worshipped. These spirit gods do not have a set form of physical representation. Symbolically a piece of rock is sanctified and considered as such a spirit deity. A number of weapons, made of wood or metal, are kept in the Keimadas. The shrine is usually made of clay or wood or covered with sheet metal, and housed within a roofed structure built near the entrance to the ain-mane. The founder of each clan (Okka), the Guru Karana, is worshipped by the members of that particular clan. Sometimes it is simply kept on a platform under a sap-exuding tree near the entrance of ainemane. Some clans conduct a karana kola, a dance of the ancestral spirit during which a Malayalee migrant dresses in elaborate colorful clothing and dances in a trance and acts as an oracle. During this ceremony he is symbolically possessed by the karana, the original founder of the particular clan. In every home a lamp called Nellakki Bolucha is lit in honor of the Guru Karana. The lamp in the central hall is lit by the embers of the kitchen hearth every day. Kodavas were also nature worshippers revering sun, moon, earth and fire. Fire of the kitchen hearth is especially sacred. Each village had a Bhagwathi, each lane had a snake daity and each nad(region) had an Aiyappa. The Kodavas worshipped Mahadeva as well.

Socio-religious link with Malabar of Kerala

The word Kodakar was the Malayalam word for a Kodava, and it comes from the word "Kodag-kara" (people from the "Coorg"(kodagu) district of Karnataka). Devotees from Kodagu(Coorg) District of Karnataka were, and still are, frequent visitors to the temples of Kannur and Waynad (districts of North Kerala). These temples are in places like Payyavur, Bytur, Thirunelli, Kanjirath and Payyanur. Members of a clan of Nambuthiri Brahmins of a place in Payyanur (both that place and that clan is called the Kalakat Illam) would serve for years as temple priests in Coorg during the ancient times. So the Kodavas from time immemorial would attend the annual temple festivals at Kalakat Illam. This family of Brahmins are allegedly gifted Manthravaadi Thanthras(Tantrics). The Kudakar (Kodavas) plays an important role during the Kaliyattam at this Illam. They have a practice of worshipping the Manthramoorthi of Illam from so many years. They worship certain weapons also at their temples which are believed to be the weapons used by the goddess Bhadra-kaali. If they have a temple at their place in Coorg and the root of that temple is in the Kalakat Illam, they come to this Illam during kaliyattam every year and do komara darshanam of the manthramoorthi pooja, to increase the power of their weapons, seek blessings from the thanthris at Kalakat Illam and go back satisfied. So they bring their weapons during the kaliyattam, perform pooja and takes it back after the 3 day festival. See main article: Kalakat Illam

Kodava Mappillais

The descendants of the Kodavas who were captured and converted to Islam by Tipu Sultan during his various forays into Kodagu called Kodava Mappillais.


Kodava festivities center around their agriculture and military tradition. Originally most of their lives were spent in the field: cultivating, harvesting and guarding their fields from the depredations of wild animals, or otherwise they were either waging war or hunting for game. Kodavas celebrate only three festivals:

Kailpodhu (Festival of Arms )

Kailpodhu is celebrated on the 3rd of September. Officially, the festival begins on the 18th day after the sun enters the Simha Raasi (the Western sign of Leo). Kail means weapon or armory and Pold means festival. The day signifies the completion of "nati" - meaning the transplantation of the rice (paddy) crop. The festival signifies the day when men should prepare to guard their crop from wild boars and other animals, since during the preceding months, in which the family were engaged in the fields, all weapons were normally deposited in the "Kanni Kombare", or the prayer room. Hence on the day of Kailpoldu, the weapons are taken out of the Pooja room, cleaned and decorated with flowers. They are then kept in the "Nellakki Nadubadec", the central hall of the house and the place of community worship. Each member of the family has a bath, after which they worship the weapons. Feasting and drinking follow. The eldest member of the family hands a gun to the senior member of the family, signifying the commencement of the festivities. The whole family assembles in the "Mand" (open ground), where physical contests and sports, including marksmanship, are conducted. In the past the hunting and cooking of wild game was part of the celebration, but today shooting skills are tested by firing at a coconut tied onto the branch of a tall tree. Traditional rural sports, like grabbing a coconut from the hands of a group of 8-10 people (thenge porata), throwing a stone the size of a cricket ball at a coconut from a distance of 10-15 paces (thenge eed), lifting a stone ball of 30–40 cm lying at one's feet and throwing it backwards over the shoulders, etc., are now conducted in community groups called Kodava Samajas in towns and cities.

Kaveri Sankramana (Worship of river Kaveri)

The Kaveri Sankramana festival normally takes place in mid-October. It is associated with the river Kaveri, which flows through the district from its source at Talakaveri.At a predetermined time, when the sun enters Tula Rasi (Tula sankramana), a fountain from a small tank fills the larger holy tank at Talakaveri. Thousands of people gather to dip in this holy water. The water is collected in bottles and reaches every home throughout Kodagu. This holy water is called Theertha, and is preserved in all Kodava homes. A spoonful of this water is fed to the dying, in the belief that they will attain moksha (spiritual emancipation) and gain entry to heaven. On this day, married women wearing new silk saris perform puja to a vegetable, symbolizing the goddess Kaveri. The vegetable is usually a cucumber or a coconut, wrapped in a piece of red silk cloth and decorated with flowers and jewels (mainly 'Pathak' (Kodava Mangalasuthra)). This is called the Kanni Puje. The word Kanni denotes the goddess Parvati, who incarnated as Kaveri. Three sets of betel leaves and areca nut are kept in front of the goddess with bunches of glass bangles. All the members of the family pray to the goddess by throwing rice and prostrating themselves before the image. The elder members of the family ceremonially bless the younger. Then an older married woman draws water from the well and starts cooking. The menu of the day is dosa and vegetable curry (usually pumpkin curry (kumbala kari) ) and payasa. Nothing but vegetarian food is cooked on this day, and this is the only festival which is strictly vegetarian. The Kaveri Sankramana festival was introduced to Kodagu with the advent of the Brahmins in the 1600s.

Puttari (Harvest festival)

Puttari means “new rice” and is the rice harvest festival (also called huttari in Kannada). This takes place in late November or early December. Celebrations and preparations for this festival start a week in advance. On the day of Puttari, the whole family assembles in their ain mane (the common family house), which is decorated with flowers and green mango and banana leaves. Specific foods are prepared: thambuttu, puttari, kari and poli poli. Then the eldest member of the family hands a sickle to the head of the family and one of the women leads a procession to the paddy fields with a lit lamp in her hands. The path leading to the field is decorated. A gunshot is fired to mark the beginning of the harvest, with chanting of "Poli Poli Deva" (prosperity) by all present. Then the symbolic harvesting of the crop begins. The rice is cut and stacked and tied in odd numbers and is carried home to be offered to the gods. The younger generation then lite fire crackers and revel, symbolizing prosperity. Groups of youngsters visit neighboring houses and show off their dancing skills and are given monetary gifts. A week later, this money is pooled and the entire village celebrates a communal dinner. All family members gather for this meal. Dinner normally consists of meat dishes, such as pork, and fish curry. Alcoholic beverages are also served at such feasts.

Recent developments

Expatriate Kodavas both in other states of India as well as in countries other than India have formed Kodava Samajas(Kodava Associations) in their states and countries of domicile. Examples are the Bangalore Kodava Samaja with 33 branches in Bangalore, and the Canadian Kodava Samaja in North America. These associations of non Kodagu origin retain the cultural uniqueness of the Kodavas at the same time adapting many practices to the times and country of their adoption. Efforts have brought together all Kodava groups the world over under an umbrella " Federation of Kodava Samajas". The Society owns and manages a large number of educational and other institutions. The foundation of the Coorg Association (predecessor of the Kodava Samaj) was laid in Bangalore, in 1912. The Kodava Samaja(R) is an organization created for the upliftment and welfare of the Kodava community. It is headquartered at Vasanthnagar in the city of Bangalore in Karnataka State, India. A number of socio-religious reform movements in India took shape from 1800s. The Kodavas also felt the need for reform in response to such changes. Throughout the medieval period and until well into the 19th century, the Kodavas had a pre-eminent role in Kodagu. By the middle of the 19th century, however, this dominance started waning. British individuals bought large stretches of land in Coorg and founded plantations. Institutions like the joint family system began to disappear. The sense of decline gave an impetus to the spirit of reform that expressed itself in the work of religious men like Sadguru Appaiah Swami. Trouble arose for the community during the post-colonial years, after the Land Reform Act enacted in 1974. Many large land owners lost their lands to the tenants (land to the tiller) and the socio-economic structure of the prominent community of Kodavas changed irreversibly. These Land reforms led to massive loss of land-ownership by the Kodava gentry who were relegated to poverty overnight. The decline of Kodava dominance was however tempered by their conversion through the 20th century to the academic and professional classes and their dominance in Kodagu politics.


  1. ^ Veena Poonacha, A Contract in Social Relation. The Samband Edipa Ceremony among Coorgs in South India, Economic and Political Weekly, 29 October 1988, pp ws-50, 51
  2. ^ Peter Franz Owsanecki, Kanni-Mangala: A Microcosm of Coorg Identity Toward an Alternative Interpretation and Analysis of the Coorg Marriage Ceremony, in Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 34 (1 & 2), Bombay, March, September 1985, pp. 102-4 and 114
  3. ^ a b c M.N. Srinivas, Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India, Bombay, 1952
  4. ^ T.P Vijaya, Honour in chains: The problem of hitti-bitti-chakri in jamma tenure in Coorg, 1800-1930. Indian Economic Social History Review 1995, 32, 135
  5. ^ Chandrakanth, M.G., Bhat, M. G. and Accavva, M. S. (2004) ‘Socio-economic changes and sacred groves in South India: Protecting a community-based resource management institution’, Natural Resources Forum 28 (2): 102-111
  6. ^ Bhagwat, S.A.; Kushalappa, C.G.; Williams, P.H. and Brown, N.D. (2005) ‘A Landscape Approach to Biodiversity Conservation of Sacred Groves in the Western Ghats of India’, Conservation Biology 19 (6): 1853-1862
  7. ^ Ukers, W. H. (1935) All About Coffee. New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company
  8. ^ Richter, G. (1870) Gazetteer of Coorg: Natural Features of the Country and the Social and Political Condition of its Inhabitants. Reprinted 2002, New Delhi: Low price Publications
  9. ^ Kariappa, C.P., Dhunjeebhoy, H.D., Ramaswamy, V., and Datta, A. (2004) Planting Times, MacMillan and UPASI, Bangalore
  10. ^ Coffee Board of India (2006) Database on Coffee. Bangalore: Economic & Market Intelligence Unit Coffee Board
  11. ^ Enchanting Coorg - www.bangalorebest.com

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





Kodava (plural Kodavas)

  1. A member of the ethnic coorg Community.


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