A village located on the Bajpe Airport road, on the banks of Gurupur River in Mangalore taluk, is known as Maravoor. The name is deceptively simple implying ‘a village of tree’. But the meaning looks out of place in Karavali region where trees are a common sight. Some people have replaced this name Maravoor with Malavoor, which seems inappropriate.
The adjacent village on the southern bank of Gurupur River is known as Marakada. The 'mara+kada' may not be the 'wooden bridge' as it appears on the face.The suffix ‘kada’ is short form of ‘kadapu’ or the river ferry; therefore Marakada represents the ferry -river crossing point on the banks of River Gurupur- to the Mara/ Maravoor village located on the opposite bank of the river. Incidentally, the name of the ferry- Mara-kada has subsequently been extended to the entire village on the southern bank of River Gurupur.
There are also other villages that carry similar word prefix of 'mara' like Maroli, Maravanthe, Marpadi, Marali,Maraali and Marne and so on.
Tree worship was a well known phenomenon in ancient India. The Kadamba, Ashoka, Banyan, Aswatha (peepal or Bodhi),Kasara(ka) and other trees were worshipped in ancient India by the early Indian tribes.
S.B.Joshi ( Sham.Baa. Joshi,1967), well-known Kannada researcher, has discussed the Marava(ru) tribes that once thrived in the Karnataka-Maharastra region. They were also distributed in other parts of southern India like the present Tamilnadu areas.
Probably the Marava(ru) tribes were connected with ancient cult of tree worship.There was also a belief of 'Kaval mara'or protected tree,especially among the ruling class of people.The tribes believed that a Spirit was embodied in the trees.The 'Kaval mara(m)' apparently contained the spirit of the King.In battles between Kings, the winner would make a royal drum ('muracu')out of the wood from the 'Kaval mara' of the defeated King.In Tamil areas the tree Spirit later, evolved or amalgamated into the cult of Murugan.
Until 10th century CE the Kannada country (Karnataka) was spread between the rivers Kaveri and Godavari according to the author of Kavirajamarga composed during the Tenth Century CE. That means the present Maharastra was a part of Karnataka in those days. This also explains the similarity of many of the Marati words to Kannada words.
S.B.Joshi has proposed an interesting theory that the word Marati has been derived from the phrase ‘Mara-hatti’, the ancient village(Hatti) of Marava(r) tribes. According to him the word ‘Marahatti’ with time was Sanskritized to the word ‘Maharastra’.
The data on Marava(r) tribes solves the puzzle of our place names like Maravoor and Maroli. Therefore the Maravoor was formerly the Marav+Oor, Marakada was Marav+kada and Maroli was Marav+Oli and so on. Thus it appears that Karavali region had several villages colonized by the Marava(r) tribes once common to and wide-spread in northern Karnataka and Maharastra regions. Incidentally, the Marol is also the name of a suburban village in Andheri East, Mumbai in Maharastra. This Marati Marol appears to be the equivalent of the Tulu place name Maroli in the suburbs of Mangalore.The spread of analogous tribes across the subcontinent makes an interesting point for the early historical studies.
Kannarapadi, Kalavar etc.
The data reminds us that Karavali had colonies of several tribes which are almost extinct now. The list includes Kanna or Kannar tribes, Koranga tribes and others. There are Kannara-padi and Kannara-gudde and other similar hamlets in the Karavali that once hosted the ancient Kanna tribes. Incidentally, 'kanna' in general refers to the art of breaking into houses in stealth; but it also could have other meanings or origin.It has been suggested to be related to 'kaaN' (to see or visualize)and so on. S. B. Joshi has suggested that the word Kannada might have been derived from the colonies of Kanna tribes that were once common in northern Karnataka.
Another related tribal group cited by him is of Kalavars.The word Kalavar apparently connotes experts in the art of theft,but S.B.Joshi opines that Kalavar were connected with fluids(rasa) as the word 'kalavar' is related to 'kaL', the (intoxicating)liquid. The Maravar and Kalavar were related since intoxicating liquids like Soma-rasa and toddy were obtained from the sap of the trees in the beginning.
There is village East of Surathkal on the way to Bajape that carries the name Kalavar.It is interesting to note that names of some of the earlier settlements of Kannars and Kalavars have been preserved for verification of the historians, even though these tribes have been assimilated into the mass of local population without noticeable tracers.
Further data on Maravars can be had from the study of their equivalents distributed in Tamilnadu region.Maravars, Kallars and Agamudyar communities prevalent in Tamilnadu are commonly known as Mukkulathor or Mukulathaar or the three clans.These ancient tribes were traditionally known as tough warriors and fought for Cholas,Pandyas and Chera Kings during the historical period.The maravars have been mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature.
A point of possible relevance to Tulu cultural evolution is that the Tamil word Mukkulathor bears resemblance to the Tulu word Mukkaldinar that refers to the priest dedicated to the worship of Spirits in Tulunadu.
Genetic evolutionary strings
It seems that some of the Maravar,Kannar,Kallar(Kalavar) tribals were initially vagabounds from northern Karnataka and Maharastra who migrated and settled in different parts of southern India including the Karavali. These tribes apparently merged into the mass of population in the course of time. The data from Tamilnadu that Maravar,Kallar and other tribal communities were traditional warriors in Tamil armies suggest that similarly the Karavali Maravars might have genetically merged their identities with local Tulu soldier tribes during course of time.S.B.Joshi suggests that Maravar and Kalavar,with passage of time became Kuruba(shepard) and Danagar(cattle-herder) tribes who further were adapted themselves into farming Kuduva and Okkal communities.These possibilities may be evaluated by modern geneticists who trace the evolution of genes through the space and time.
Sham.Baa.Joshi (1967) Karnata Sanskritya Poorva Peetike., Part I..[Kannada] Samaja book depot , Dharawad.
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