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The Kodavas

origin, kodavas, coorg

Kodava are an ethnic group from the region of Kodagau or coorg, in Karnataka state of southern India. The Kodavas have a well defined military tradition during the course of their recorded history and Kodavas generally dignify themselves as Kshatriya. Kodava also called coorgies or coorgs are identified by a family name or okka. In olden days, 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.

Kodavas are known for coffee cultivation and agriculture. Expansive agriculture - forested areas have remained intact across coorg. The land is known for greenery. 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. 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.

Kodavas follow their own distinctive dressing. There are several claims regarding the origin of Kodavas. One view is that the Kodava culture resembles the culture of the ancient trading stock of Arabia. People from Arab reached coorg through the Arabian sea coast during earlier days for trade and settled back in Coorg. 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. These are all theories, and there isn't any definite clue or evidence to prefer one theory over another. Even to this day the tradition followed by Kodavas during wedding and death ceremonials resembles the muslims who stay in coorg. During the rule of Tippu Sultan, coorg were converted to muslims. This could be a reason for following similar methods of traditions during functions.
Published: 2010-05-05
Author: Sanjana Uthappa. N

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