The study of the evolution of bari lineage system in Tulu communities is an interesting subject given its importance in the overall evolution of the heritage, language and culture in the region. The Koraga community being one of the earliest settlers and inhabitants of this land bear clues to the early evolution of our heritage. A popular spirit deity from the Koraga community known as Koragajja, has been considered a powerful spirit and is being believed and worshipped by many devout people.
However, the community in general has been ignored and remained backward and poor for many years. The situation is being remedied in the recent years as a result of encouragement and support from the governments well as welfare agencies and it is hoped the community shall get better employment opportunities and live with natural justice and pride on par with rest of the members of the society.
Agave fibers for clothing
Traditionally, fibers derived from “daddel” shrub (Agave) are offered symbolically along with “aghel” (offering) to the dead along with food offerings in the posthumous ceremonies among the Koraga community. The usage of agave fibers as symbol of cloths among the Koragas, is a vestige of ancient practice of offering clothing material to the dead along with food. Bālarāj suggests that the fibers of agave were used for fashioning cloths in the early days of civilization among the community.
The Koraga community follows the bari system of genetic lineages like other Tulu communities. Probably, for the first time, we present information on the bari lineages existing in Koraga community.
Naḍusāl bari lineages
Traditional Tulunadu region has been conventionally divided into northern part, central part and southern part for convenience of reference. The central part (from Pavanje River upto Brahmavara ) is commonly referred to as “naḍu-sāl” among the tribes.
Five baris in the nadu-sāl Korags:
Among the Koragas of the “baḍakāyi sāl” (northern part) and” tenkayi sāl” (southern part) may have different bari lineages. (Data to be collected).
It is interesting to note that the five baris have equivalent baris existing in other Tulu communities. The Taḍpenār is considered equal to Tālianna or Salian bari. The Pāḍḍyanār is considered equal to Bangera or Bangeranna lineage among other communities. The Tirgenāar Is considered to be equal of Shriyaan lineage and Mookenār has been considered to be equivalent of Muncharianna and Kotian baris.
Analysis and implications
It is interesting to note that at least three of the above cited five baris are apparently unique to the Koraga community and probably not repeated among other communities. The Mookenār and Kundaranna appear to have been present in other Tulu communities.
It appears the three basic baris- Taḍpennār, Pāddyanār and Tirgenār indicate three types of early professions followed by these tribes in the early civilized society. Based upon simple word analysis of the bari names, we can infer that Taḍpenār originally represented a set of tribal artisans specialized in basket weaving and “ taḍpe” making. A taḍpe is a traditional woven hand crafted plate designed from tender pieces of bamboo stalks or other similar type of tender plant material and utilized in cleaning rice and other grains. The Pāḍḍyanār, possibly represented tribal artists devoted to singing ballads, the pāḍ/pāḍḍya being referred to songs. In the same lines the Tirgenār bari probably represented the group of wanderers who conducted the marketing of the handicraft products among the civilized society. The word “tirgu” means to wander, spin or rotate”. However, Shri Balaraj suggests that the Tirgenār is the person who is able to divert the decisions in tribal panchayat meetings.
The origin and meaning of the lineage sects Mookenar, Muncherianna and Kundaranna are not clear at present: It is probable that these baris represent ancient tribal groups/subgroups that merged with the community.
Recognition of equivalent baris has certain important implications. One, it suggests that those baris considered equal to the basic Koraga baris possibly represent parallel tribal groups that settled, inhabited and probably partially assimilated with the community in the antiquity. Two, it suggests that in the early historical period, the degree of communal discrimination was insignificant among the tribal communities. such that members of the Koraga tribal community could openly consider equivalents among the newly invaded and settled tribes in the land. In other words all the tribes were relatively poor and shared common problems of livelihood. And the discrimination in the tribal society probably was set in later as a consequence of recognition of socio-economical rich- poor dichotomy among the various tribal groups.
The essential information is gathered from Shri Palli Gokuldas (80 years) and Shri Bālarāj Kodikal, two leaders of Koraga Community in Mangaluru. The interview was arranged on 15-09-2016 with the help of Shri Dinesh Salian, Mulki and Shri Peroor Jāru. The blogger is indebted to these gentlemen for kindly providing the information and sparing their time and efforts for him.