Sunday, January 30, 2011

269.Macchendra nath at Kadri, Mangalore

An idol of sage Macchendranatha, the founder of Natha cult, Kadri, Mangalore.

Alupa Emblem of twin fishes.

 A statue of Chouranginatha, Kadri, Mangalore.

 An idol of Gorakshanatha, Kadri, Mangalore

 A view of enclosure containing tombs of Natha sages at Kadri, Mangalore.

A view of white tower of Kadri Manjunatha temple, Kadri, Mangalore.
 Older posts on Macchendra (Post No. 80). Also read Posts 77. Natha cult and 82. Buddhism in Karnataka.

For more information on Alupa coins and emblem refer:
The Alupas: Coinage and History by Govindraya Prabhu S and Nithyananda Pai, M. (2006). Published by Govindraya Prabhu, Sanoor, Karkala, Udupi District. Pages 200.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

268. Nanda Rulers of Tulunadu

Many pages of earlier history of Tulunadu are obscure and have to be pieced together with random strings of data. A Nanda ruler of Tulunadu has been immortalized by the desultory adage alluding to the introduction of leather coins during the downfall of his regime (post 266): Nandarāyas inheritance was eaten away by foxes and dogs (Nanda rāyana baduku nari-nāyi tindu ponDu). It is usually believed that Nandāvara on the southern bank of River Netravati, Bantval Taluk, was the capital of the mythical Nandarāya. There have been suggestions that Nandarāya was a relative of Nanda Kings  of Pataliputra (former Patna, Bihar).However, analytical interpreted data provides some interesting insights into the Nanda issue. The data discussed below suggest that parts of Tulunadu were ruled by Nanda(n) Kings before the Alupa Period.
Nanda settlements
An overlooked historical aspect is that there are at least five or more ancient Nanda settlements in Tulunadu, apart from the well known Nandāvara. These are (1) Nandaneshwara (Panambur) (2) Nandalike (3) Nandara-bettu (4) Nandara padpu, (5) Nandarapura and (6) Nandi-gudde. With these place names we are bound to get confused over the actual location of the capital of King Nandaraya.
A common feature of these Nanda settlements in Tulunadu is that these are (or were) mostly located on the banks of rivers or beaches. Nandavara as well as Nandarabettu are located on the southern and norther banks of River Netravati in Bantval taluk. 
Nandarapura is now a hamlet near Mullarakadu and Akash bhavan area of Derebail-Konchadi in Kavur village, Mangalore.
Nandi-gudde (near Attāvar, Mangalore) is located close the former (ancient) course of River Netravati. [The Nandi-gudde in Attavar, Mangalore, possibly was ‘Nanda-gudde’ earlier.] Similarly, Nandalike (near Karkal) is located on (now dried up) banks of an ancient minor river. Nandara padpu is near Mudipu in southern part of Mangalore Taluk. Nandalike was the hometown of modern Kannada poet Muddana. Similarly Nandavara has been popularized by  Tulu researcher, Dr. Vamana Nandavara.
And Nandaneshwara is an ancient Shiva temple in coastal Panambur beach area, now part of New Mangalore Port. It is traditional in ancient India that the coastal temple towns were named after the Shiva temples of the area and vice versa. (For example: Pandeshwara, Manjeshwara, Mahābaleshwar, Someshwara, Murudeshwara, Dhāreshwara, Rāmeshwara, Bhubaneshwar, etc).
It is obvious that temple Nandaneshwara, of Panambur, was named after ancient King Nandana. Tamil Sangam (‘Chankam’) literature refers to a valiant Tuluva King ‘Nannan’. It appears that the ancient Tamil writers referred to this King Nandan as ‘Nannan’ rather than Nandaraya. Therefore, it appears that Nandaneshwara (Panambur) on the West Coast , was the capital of ancient Nanda Kings of Tulunadu. (Like Pandeshwara, Mangalore, was the capital of later Alupa Kings.)
Grama Paddati
The Grama Paddati (literally means "Village System") historic document of Tulu Brahmins refers to a list of 32 rulers of ancient Tulunadu. The list begins with (1) Nanda Nandana Rāya, (2) Nandana Rāya and (3) Vijaya Nandana Rāya (Nagendra Rao, 2005).Though the Grama Paddati has not assigned any specific time-span for these rulers, it may be presumed that the cited Nanda rulers of Tulunadu reigned during the period ca. 200 BC-100 AD considering that Mayura Varma (Kadamba) has been cited as nineth King in Grama Paddati.
However, in the actual history, there could have been more than three Nanda Kings, in Tulunadu , since the Grama Paddati has been compiled evidently at a later date, apparently based on legends preserved among the population of the period.

Nanda tribes
The available data suggest that Nanda were a widespread ancient tribe in Indian subcontinent as well as South-east Asia and Australia. Nanda surname can be found extensively in Punjab, Rajastan and Gujarat. Among Ahirs three sub-communities of cattle-herders are known: (1) Nanda (2) Yadu and (3) Gopa. These tribes have been cited in Bhagawat and in the legends of Shri Krishna. Shri Krishna made use of a sword called Nandaka.
(Various variants of Yadu tribes in Tulunadu, such as Yadava, Edava, Yeda, Ideya, Yeya etc have been discussed in older Posts). Apart from Nandas and Yadus, Gopa tribes also have left their signature in the West coast in place names like Goa (Gomantak), Gokarna etc.
Nanda tribes were cattle-herders and it is but natural that Nandi, (ox) , the male species of cow, has been named after them (or vice versa). Nandi has been depicted as the vehicle of Lord Shiva. One of the peaks of Himalaya has been named as Nanda Devi.
Nanda tribes have left their signatures in ancient place names not only in Tulunadu but all over India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.There are ancient Nanda tribal settlements known as Nandagiri and Nandidurga in peninsular India. Nandi hill was known as Nandidurga or Nandagiri formerly. There  are towns known as Nandagiri near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh , as well is in Maharastra.One Nandagudi is near Hosakote on the way to Kolar. Nandihalli is a village proximal to Sandur in Bellary District.There is a Nandipet in Nizambad district and a Nandyala in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.
Likewise there is a Nandap village near Kalyan, Mumbai, Maharastra.
Nanda Kings of Pataliputra (Bihar) who predated Chandragupta Maurya were well known in the history of India. One King Nanda ruled ancient Myanmar. Similarly Nandapur is a famous historical town in Orissa. We find similar Nandapurs in Maharastra, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and in Bangladesh (Swalpa Nandipur). And there are places known as Nandipur in Orissa, Bangladesh and Pakistan.There are villages called Nandivādi in Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh.

There is a ‘Nandagiri’ in Maharastra, also known as ‘Nandurbar’ which similarly was ruled by an ancient Nanda King. The region was was called 'Rasika' in olden days, bounded by  present Districts of Berar (ancient  Vidarbha), Nemad (ancient Anup) and Bhir (ancient Mulaka).  It was a part of erstwhile District of Khandesh, later on bifurcated as Dhule and Jalgaon.  In 1998, Dhule was again bifurcated as Dhule and Nandurbar districts.  Nandurbar now is a city and District headquarter, in North-western part of Maharashtra. bordered by Gujarat on West and North and Madhya Pradesh on North-east with Narmada River, determining its northern boundary.  It is predominantly a tribal district, inhabited by Bhils, Kolis and Ahirs.  Ahirs are now  cowherds in this region.  
The Shiva temple in the Panambur beach close to the New Mangalore Port enclosure is known as “Nandaneshwara Raya” as can be seen in the name emblazoned at the entrance to the temple.Needless to say that the temple-name reminds of an ancient king Nandaneshwara Raya, who installed the original temple.It also may be possible that the temple was founded by one of his off-springs in the name of Nandaneshwara Raya.
However, it is interesting to note that the place name "Nandaneshwara " has not been preserved to date as in the case of other temple towns like Pandeshwara, Manjeshwara, etc. This could be explained by the evident dominance of Panamb (<.Pani) merchant tribes (later known as Nakara merchant class) in the ancient historic town of Panambur subsequently as recorded in the Kadire epigraphs (Post 107) .

Nanda Kings of Tulunadu apparently had origins in nomadic cowherds who migrated south from northern India ca 500 BC or before. The civil war of Yadavas and submergence of Dwarakapuri  as depicted in the  final parts of legends of Shri Krishna possibly displaced the Yadavas to different parts of India and south-western coasts, known as 'Sapta Konkan'. might have settled in various parts of south India as cowherds as well as farmers. Their ‘Raya’ title might have been even derived from, ’raita’, the farmer. With passage of time, Raita > Raya >Rai derivation is one of the historic possibility. Nanda Kings of Tulunadu or other parts of Deccan may not be a single dynasty or related directly to the Nanda Dynasty of  Magadha (ca. 421-321 BC, ancient Bihar) as visualized by some of our historians. On the other hand, all these Nanda Kings might have had origins in ancient Nanda cowherds.

Nagendra Rao, Dr. (2005). Brahmanas of South India: Historical and Tradition .Gyan Books, New Delhi, 216 p. [Google Books.].

- Ravi and Vishwanath.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

267. Forgotten words 3: Kairangala

Among the list of ancient place names of Tulunadu, we find several names (or words) whose meaning is unknown at present. Such a condition can happen because of the drastic changes our language has undergone during the course of evolution. Words that existed once upon a time in this land as evidenced by their immortalization in the form of prolonged, surviving topo-nyms, have been forgotten by dis-usage that resulted rom drastic changes in cultural-lingual fabric of the ancient society.
Kairangala is a village located close to Mudipu and Konaje in southern part of Mangalore Taluk.The place-name Kair+angala is quite perplexing as there are no words like ‘kair’ in usage in the present Tulu parlance.
The word ‘angala’ [=ang+ala] means an open area .Probably to begin with open field areas by the side of rivers were known as ‘angala’, because suffix ‘ala’ is suggestive of river or river bank.
Interestingly, there is another similar sounding Tulu place name, usually confused with Kairangala.That is Karinagala. Kariangala is a village located on the bank of River Phalguni (Gurupur) and close to Polali, the reknowned seat of diety Rajarajeswari. The atribution of the meaning of an open area close to river or river bank,to the word ‘angala’ suits this place very well. However, the prefix ‘kari’ (=black) seems out of place, since there is nothing black or dark here, no black soils, as anyone can generally presume.There may be argument that ‘kari’ means elephant here, which again seems inappropriate.
I suggest that this place ‘Kariangala’ was also originally known as ‘Kairangala’, like the one near Mudipu discussed above, but inadvertently modified by people later to ‘Kariangala’.
In Tulunadu, we find many of the place names repeating themselves in different areas. (Some of the repeating place names include: Uchila, Someswara, Vamanjur, Pandeswara, Alike, etc.).
Kairo, Cairo
What is the meaning of this apparently strange word Kairo?  As you know, ‘Cairo’ is the name of the capital of Egypt (United Arab Republic).
The word Kair or Kairo shall make sense if you accept the theory of migration of human tribes during the early history and transfer of ‘words’ along with them! Genetic scientists are finding increasing evidences   in favour of migration of tribes out of Africa in several phases.
The word ‘Cairo’ means victory or victorious jubilation. The ancient word ‘kairos’ is also found in Greek where it means specific time event, season or celebration.
If we extend this meaning of the word ’kair’ or ‘kairo’ into our place name ‘Kairangala’, it represents an open area related with celebration of victory.
Apparently in olden days, among the rival tribes after waging fierce war in an open field, it was a practice of the victorious side to celebrate the event, by renaming the war field as ‘Kairangala’.

Kayar, kair trees
An alternate explanation for the place name would be Kayar+angala, where ‘kāyar’ is one of the divine cult trees associated with ancient royal families of Tulunadu. Kāyar trees are common in Tulunadu and place names containg Kayar trees like Kayartadka, Murukaveri (Mujikayeri in Tulu) exist in the coastal area. (Botanists may kindly help me to ascertain the binominal nomenclature of native kāyar trees of Tulunadu.)
However, the tree known as ‘khair’ in northern India is a semi-xerophytic one and is not common in precipitation rich (rainy) Tulunadu.
Thus the Kāyar trees (also known as kāyer, kāveri etc) of Tulunadu are different from the ‘khair’ (Acacia catechu or Acacia chundra) trees popular in other parts of India. The kair or khair tree is botanically known as Acacia catechu or Acacia chundra. Khair trees are also said to be referred to as Karangali. Incidentally, there is a place known as Karangalpadi in Mangalore.
All these data, add an aura of mystery to the place name Kairangala. Kair is also a place name in Delhi and similarly Kayar in Senegal.
What is interesting here is the association of kayar or khair trees with royal rites (even though different tree species represent similar sounding tree names). Kayar tree is associated with some of the royal families of Tulunadu. Parts of hard wood of Acacia catechu (Khair) were said to have been used for fashioning handles of knives swords etc since ages apart from other utilitarian items.

Kayyāra, Kaivāra
The place name ‘Kayyara’ (kai+ara) associated with one of the reverent heroes of modern Tulunadu, Kayyara Kinhanna Rai may also be mentioned here, though may not be directly related to the topic of kair. There is a similar place name ‘Kaivara’ in Kolar district.
Kayyara (kai+ara) and Kaivara (kai+vara) may be words unconnected to Kairangala as Kai+ara  possibly represents an open field ('ara' or 'vara') beside a 'kai'(stream tributary).

Kaira lineage
There is a possibility that the ‘Kair’ was the name of an ancient tribe that emigrated from Africa. It is interesting to note that the name ‘Kaira’ has also remained in Tulunadu as a lineage (bari) name among Bunt Nadava communities.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

266. Kordel 2: Archaic Kulshekar, Mangalore

It appears that there are several ‘Kordels’(pron: korDel) in Tulunadu and at least two of these are in Mangalore city only! Apart from the disused place-name ‘Kordel’ (for archaic village of Tannirbavi), there is another ‘Kordel’ (also written as ‘Cordel’) on NH 13, near Kulshekar Church, Mangalore. Old name ‘Kordel’ for the Kulshekar area suggests that it was ancient colony of ‘Kor’ (>. Koraga) tribes, probably well before being ruled by Alupas.
There is one more Kordel hamlet on the way to Kuppepadavu from Yedapadavu in Manglore taluk.
Kulshekar Kordel
The location of Holy Cross Church, Kulshekar (also written and pronounced as ‘Kulashekhara’), Mangalore, is also known as ‘Cordel’ (Kordel).  The Church was founded by a French Catholic Friar Fr. Alexander Dubios on September 14, 1873.  He was fondly called as “Frad Saib of Franco Cordel”, locally known as Kulshekar.  He was also known as “Kullerda Ajjer” in Tulu (meaning ‘grand old man of Kuller’).
 Kulshekar area of Mangalore, was named after Alupa King Vira Kulashekara (ca 1115-1155 CE). He was apparently known as ‘Kuler’ among the aborigines, possibly the word ‘Kuller’ being kings nick name.
Alternately it may be argued that the origin of the name Kuller as:  Kul+er. (‘kul’=lake, ‘er’=edge). ‘kuller’= raised edge of a lake. Another place name in the proximity ‘Saripalla’, also hints at the presence of a lake. However evidence for existence of a dried up lake in the area is yet to be traced.
Agonies of Conversions
The parishioners were migrated Goan Catholics and also the then newly converted down-trodden people of surrounding area. It can be presumed these new converts were mainly from ‘Kor’ or ‘Koraga’ tribes and other backward classes. There was a tinge of stigma connected to older generation of Christians of Mangalore.  Suspecting their allegiance to Europeans (esp. British), Tipu Sultan ordered that  60,000 Christians be taken as prisoners and were kept in captivity (from 1784 to 1799) at Srirangapatna, Mandya district (formerly, Srirangapattam).
 Note the irony of fate!  Goan Catholics along with Hindus fled Goa to Konkan and Tulunadu to escape hardships at the hands of colonialist force. Last major migration took place when fierce battle was raging between Portuguese and Maratha forces. They suffered untold miseries from both the forces).   They suffered loss of many lives on their journey through rugged terrains - to and fro on foot.  Those who remained at Srirangapatna were converted to Islam and married Muslims.  It is reported that this group is now speaking a pidgin Konkani, mixed with Kannada and Urdu.
Nandaraya- Nannan-Nandavara
Apart from Habsiga, in Tulunadu we have anecdotes of another Harijan King called Nandaraya. Possibly, the Tulu King ‘Nannan’ referred to in Tamil Sangam literature refers to ‘Nandan’ or the ‘Nandaraya’. He was said to have been born of a Brahmin woman and a Koraga man. The village name ‘Nandāvara’, Bantval Taluk, Dakshina Kannada, located on the southern bank of River Netravati) probably was derived from the name of ancient King ‘Nandan’ (or ‘Nannan’). There is also a possibility that Nanda(n) was a surname of former rulers of Tulunadu like Nanda of Magadha.
Story of Nandaraya is well-known in Tulunadu from the popular proverb: “Nandurayana badku nari-nayi thindindu” (Kannada version: ‘Nandurayana baduku nari-nayi thinditu’.  English:  ‘The inheritance of Nanduraya was eaten away by foxes and dogs).
Nanduraya was said to have raised a fighting force of hunting dogs to vanquish enemies and introduced leather money.  Ultimately when he was vanquished and his palace was in ruins, the decayed leather currency of his period, provided good food for foxes and dogs.
Nanaya, Nonaya
Nanaya  is an old proper name among Tulu and other Dravida people. A teacher in Tulu Garadi (School of Martial Arts) is traditionally called  'Nanaya'.  'Nonaya/Nanaya' proper names were in vogue till  twentieth Century.  One of my childhood and school days friend is 'Nonaya'., hailing from Doddakoppala (near Surathkal) and his father was a Mendon (a surname) then living just near my house.  I was wondering about the meaning of this name. Similar 'Nanaya'  names are found in Andhra also.   Nannaya was an Andhra Poet during Vijayanagar period.  Names like Nannayya (Bhat)  are found in Brahmins too.Apparently Tulu and other Dravida tribes acquirred this proper name from prior Kor / Koraga aborigines of this region.
It would be interesting to study further if these names Nannan/ Nandan and Nanaya/ Nonaya are related old proper names.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

265. KorĎēl : archaic Tannirbāvi & Koragas

I heard some Tuluva uttering the word ‘KorDēl’ while I was in Mumbai last mid-November.  Mention of this ‘lost name’ had an electrifying effect on me.  Living away from Tulunadu for more than five decades, I have altogether forgotten this name.  The casual remembering of this parallel name for Tannirbavi stirred my imagination to explore the meaning regarding:
 1) when and how the village got this name, 2) whether it is applied to certain part of Tannirbhavi and 3) whether this nomenclature has any bearing on erosion (Tulu: korevuni) aspect of Gurupura  ( Phalguni) River or tribal aspect of ‘Kor’s (Koraga,Kuruva,Kuruba), who were the predominant early tribes of historical India?
 Though I had traversed this place several times up to 1956, before my moving out to Mumbai, it never tempted me to decipher the meaning. 
Kordel village on coastal belt
KorDel is a village in the Mangalore coastal belt (from Suratkal, Hosabettu, Baikampadi, Panambur, Kuloor, Kordel, Boloor and Bengare).  It is now disjoined after the construction of artificial all-weather New Mangalore Harbour at Panambur in the seventies that gobbled up a fertile arable land.  We can ascribe erosion aspect of Gurupura aka Phalguni River for the village name, but we cannot altogether deny the possibility of applying ‘Kor’ tribal signature.
Possibility. 1: On dissecting the word ‘KordEl, we can get ‘Koredu + El’.  Koredu = eroding + el = melting of, say sand (in this case). ‘El’ could also mean ‘al’, i.e. water.     Coastal area around western bank of Phalguni after Kuloor is ‘KordEl’.  I think, this nomenclature in local Tulu tongue must be due to the acute erosion of sandy bank by the river after south-westerly bend at this stretch.  This erosion is still more acute in monsoon swell.  I have noticed in my teen-hood, the brink, i.e. steep edge or fall, along western bank.  Time-line for coining this name must be the year when Gurupura River changed its course abruptly.  It could be the year 1887 CE (cf: Posts on Mangalore) as there was no Tannirbavi-Bengre sand spit prior to this.  The legendary shift may still be etched in memory of villagers, percolating through generations.
However, owing to displacements, consequent to harbour project, and dwindling older generation, there are very few who can provide older information on the area.  Ms. Jyoti Gautam, a former scion of Tannirbāvi, now settled in Mumbai, could elicit a brief data from her aunt thus:
 “The place is called ‘Kordel’  in Tulu and ‘Kodikal’ in Kannada. Earlier tribes used to reside near the river Gurupura but now they have moved towards Thanirbhavi as Harbour   has come up. Few people like Harijans Christians and Muslims still reside there but Mogaveeras have moved out of Kordel. These earlier tribes now are much modernised and secured jobs in government offices. They do not prefer to be called as tribals now.”
Possibility 2: Alternatively, ‘Kordēl’ could be Kor (a tribe, like Koraga) + Da (land, area) + el (stream, water-source). It means a village beside river inhabited predominantly by Kor  tribe. This explanation is more convincing as Koragas in Tulunadu (and for that matter their cognates elsewhere in India) were powerful during early history and reportedly built ancient kingdoms.  It is reported that Habbasiga (or Hubasic), a Koraga King, fought with Kadamba King Mayura Sharma (aka Varma, ca. 400 CE).  Hubasic was defeated by descendants of Mayur Sharma later on. This event apparently   forced Koragas to flee to forests in hills.
Forgotten Well
In Land revenue records, Kordel is known as Tannirbāvi. What I understand, Kordel (western bank) or Kodikal (eastern bank) are locales a former larger village, Tannirbāvi. Topography  of coastal beach in the Tannirbāvi west and lateritic or rocky ridge on the eastern Kodikal.   Tannirbhavi beach can be approached by road from Panambur or by river from Boloor-Bokkapatna ferry points.
 A perennial fresh-water well of potable water, must have been instrumental in giving the place name Tannirbavi.  In olden days potable water wells were scarce in the beach area.  Water near coast is brackish in general because of saline incursion from the sea.  The legendary well must be sweet and potable all the year round and was catering to the entire village.  Hence the proverbial place-name:  Tannirbāvi.
Koragas of Tulunadu
There are conspicuous imprints of aboriginals and ancient tribes all over Tulunadu.    In Tulu, ‘kādināye’ or ‘kādtaye’ (male person from the forest) and ‘kādināl’ or Kādtāl (female person from the forest.) mean a Koraga, dwelling in forest.
 They are known as ‘Korava’ (also ‘Gorava’) in Kannada and Telugu  and ‘Kuruvan’ in Tulu, Tamil and Malayalam.  Alternative names are Koragar, Koragara, Kuruva, Korangi and Korra.  In Orissa, they are known as ‘Karanga’ and ‘Korga’. (There are ‘Korangara pādi’ in Udupi and ‘Karangala pādi’ in Mangalore.) Goravas from upland Karnataka were the preists in early Shiva temples of Tulunadu.
Koraga demography:
 Koragas, grouped under Scheduled Tribes in the modern Indian Constitution, are primitive ancient exogamous tribal clans with 17 ‘balis’ (lineages), now marginalised, in Tulunadu. They were the original inhabitants and rulers of Tulunadu and rest of West Coast in historical past with general features like medium height, thick lips, broad noses with rough and bushy hairs. They are usually classified into four sub-tribes: Ande Koraga, Kappada Koraga , Kappera Koraga, Sappu or Tappu Koraga. They live in forests and village outskirts in isolation in their ‘koppas’, colony of primitive houses made up of leaves in remote places. It is said that they are forbidden to live in houses of clay and mud.
They are Sun worshippers and name their babies by the week-days of birth, like Aitha (Sun), Toma/Soma (Moon), Angara/Mangara (Tuesday), Booda (Mercury) , Guruva (Thursday), Tukra/Shukra (Friday) and Taniya (Saturday).  Girls are named Aithu, Tomu/Somu, Mangaru, etc. This feature of naming after members of solar system, they could have picked up from Tulu tribes because even among Tuluvas this was a common feature in earlier days as discussed in older posts.
  Earlier, Koragas wore an apron of twigs and leaves over their buttocks, which practice is said to be a punishment meted out to them, for one of them asking for a upper class girl in marriage in their heydays.  When they were subdued, upper class decreed that their women should not wear any kind of dress.  To avoid disgrace, they took recourse to forest leaves to hide and protect their private parts.  In my childhood, I have seen males wearing black cloth (short lungi) around their lower parts and upper part with white cloth (This may be the reason for contemptuously calling them as ‘black legged’).  Their cap is made up of spathe of areca-nut palms (known as ‘muttale’ in Tulu).  Women wear sarees but without blouse.  Now, modern Koraga people wear dresses, common in the modern society.    Their population was 15,146 as reported in Census-1981.
Language: Koragas are mostly illiterate, though there are now educated youth in the changed circumstances.  Their language, considered as a dialect, is well-guarded and not shared with outsiders.  Some books are available on Koraga language. A Vocubulary of Koraga Language is included in the South Kanara Manual-1895”. Mr. Stuart mentioned it “as a dialect of Tulu in his 1891 Census Report.  But modern Koraga language is influenced by both Tulu and Kannada.  Regional versions of Koraga Bhase, spoken by geographically scattered Koraga Groups are as under:
1)      Ande Koraga (Hebri-Karkala – Southern Part): Bilingual influence with Tulu.  Kasargod Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam – Central Part.
2)       Sappu (Tappu)/Kappada Koraga (Udupi and Mangalore): Bilingual with Tulu and Kannada.
3)      Northern Part: Both Groups have borrowed from Kannada and Tulu respectively but in Kundapur, it is influenced by Kannada because Kannada speakers are greater in number there.
For a general introduction to Koraga language, refer: Post-108: Koraga Language – A Primer.
Koraga: primitive powers of aborigines
The available data on the evolution of language and culture in India, including data from Tulunadu specifically, suggests that waves of immigrant tribes dominated the terrain after confiscating socio-political powers from the aboriginal primitive tribes like Koragas. However, the immigrant settlers, including Tuluva were apprehensive of the unknown, special occult powers residing with the aboriginal tribes. Some of the traditional ritual practices of Tulu people like ‘feeding the forest tribes’ (‘Kaadinalegu Nuppu Dippini’) or ‘gifting to koraga’ (‘koraga dāna’) can be seen as examples of this psychology.
Kaadinalegu Nuppu Dippini
It is  customary in Tulu families to serve food to ‘Korapalu’ (female Koraga) on auspicious days as a part of ritual.  Korapalu (or Korageti) is invited to the houses of upper class communities, including Brahmins. 
In rural areas, formerly, the affected or sick child is made to sit with the mother or an elder, on a stool. The cooked food, containing rice and vegetable curries, are served in a banana leaf placed on a winnowing basket.  Korageti goes around the child and the mother with the offerings three times and blesses the child by waving the winnowing basket of food over the head of the child. The child is handed over to Korageti and exchanged three times.
 In the case of new-born  babies, a lactating Korageti is allowed to breast feed the child for the purpose of curing  unknown ills of the child.  Even Brahmins have followed this custom.  Korageti names the child as ‘Korapalu’, if it is female and ‘Koraga’, if male.  This is considered as new birth to the child, warding off all ill-omens.
  Note that there is no hint of practice of ‘untouchability’ in these ancient occult ceremonies.  Irony of it, the other members of the family are not allowed to touch and come within the shadow of Korageti.  This practice is originated from fear of power of black magic practiced by the Koragas.  Koragas are animists, who believe in spirits and ghosts.  There are many Divine Spirits from Koraga community, such as Koraga Taniya, Mankaldi, etc.
They are treated as untouchables, prior to enacting various Laws, banishing this practice.  They accept food and water from all communities but water sources are not shared.  They do not enter temples but beat drums and dance at allotted niche outside. They accept prasād or naivedya (holy food offered to God) at temple festivals.  As folk-dancers, they go house to house as Siddis, Kangilo-mayilo, etc.  In olden days, they were present at marriages and other social celebrations of various castes but accepted only left-over food after the feasts.  During bonded-labour days, there existed cultivator-labourer relationships.
Traditional Wickerworkers 
Most of them are highly skilled in wickerwork handicrafts making baskets from rattans, canes and wicker.  Their products include: ‘tottilu’ (craddle), ‘kurve and kudpu’ (baskets), cylindrical containers to hold paddy, ‘tadpe’ (winnowing baskets), ‘kalasige’ (scale pans for measuring grains –usually measuring 14 seers), boxes, ‘tatti-kudpu’ (rice water strainer), ring stands for supporting pots, ‘kattavu’ (coir rope from coconut fibres), etc.  They used to sell these articles to merchants or at periodical markets at different localities at cheaper rates.  Now, they have organized themselves and sell their handicrafts in their own shops run on co-operative basis at market-places.
Some of them were employed as scavengers in Health Department of town or city municipalities.  Now it is banned.  Dead cattle are salvaged by them for hide and bones, which are sold to merchants.
‘Ajalu’ Prohibition
Untouchability is abolished under the Constitution.  Karnataka Government passed an Act, named “Karnataka Koragas (Prohibition of Ajalu Practice) Act, 2000”.  Ajalu practice means, performing of any act or ceremony: (i) differentiating between Koragas and persons belonging to other communities by paying no wages or lessor wages to Koragas for using their service, (ii) treating Koragas as inferior human beings as compared to others, (iii)  mixing hair, nails or any other inedible or obnoxious substance in the food  and asking Koragas to eat that food, (iv) driving Koragas to run like buffaloes before the beginning of Kambala (buffalo race in marshy land).  The Act imposes penalty for persons using or abetting the using of the services of a Koraga for Ajalu practices with or without the consent.
Following quotation fascinated me: “The most radical revolutionary will become conservative the day after the Revolution”.   This is demonstrated by Koragas in holding demonstrations in Mangalore recently against ‘Ajalu practies’.
In spite of several laws, right from British era, for the uplift of down-trodden, they are neglected.  “Kundapura Koragas in Karkada wait in darkness for light”:  is a news Item in dated August 2, 2010.  There is a ‘Spoorthi’ Orphanage for hapless children, run by a couple.  It is struggling for patronage from public and Government to carry on their noble work.
·         Encyclopaedia of primitive Tribes in India, Vol.2 – By P.K. Mohanty (Read page 362-378)
·         Ethnographic Atlas of Indian Tribes – By Prakash Chandra Mehta (Google Book)
·         Castes & Tribes of Southern India (7 Vols.) – By Edgar Thurston (Though commendable work, it is reported that there are many inaccuracies).
·         Koraga Language (1971) - by D.N. Shankar Bhat
·         UOM-1997-523-3 – A Paper on Koraga Language
·         Ethnic identity & intangible cultural heritage – A Study of Koraga Community of South India – Dr. V. Jayarajan (
·         An Atlas of Tribal India (with compiled Tables) – by Moonis Raza & Aijaruddin Ahmad
·         Mangalore Headlines – Aug. 18, 2010 – Mangalore Koragas celebrate ‘Bhoomi Pooja’.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

Blog Archive

Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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