About Coorg

History | People | Culture | Climate | Cuisine | Fact Sheet

People of Coorg

It is said about the Coorgs (or Kodavas as they are locally known) “They are easier to love than to like.” One of the most hospitable people in India, the doors of their homes are always open to guests. Cosmopolitan in their outlook, they make friends easily.

Kodava texts do not speak much of their origins and so there is no one definite theory to prove it. However, according to one, the 2500 year-old civilization of the Kodavas has evolved from a synthesis of people that originally lived in the region of today's Oman & Yemen. According to Yemen's history, people from there had migrated to the Coorg region around the fifth century BC.

Yet another belief claims that Scythian Greek soldiers brought by Alexander of Macedonian, stayed on after his return and married the local women of Kodagu, to form a new, distinct race.

Some even call them the descendents of people belonging to the Mohenjodaro civilization. One of their branches travelled south and stayed on in this land of beauty.

All these different people might have adopted the local Hindu customs and married local women, but they kept their valuable traditions, dress and Peechekati (traditional dagger) intact. These are now the cultural treasures of the Coorgs.

The Coorgs today are Hindus. They are a martial race and belong to the Kshatriya community. The Kodavas follow Hinduism but are more liberal and independent than any other Hindu sect in customs relating to marriage, divorce, remarriage, festivals, worship, ceremonies, dialect and also dress. They are probably the only Indian community that does not observe the dowry system. Child marriages too are unheard of.

They worship ancestors (Karana), and the river Cauvery as mother Goddess, while Lord Iggutappa is the presiding deity. Most of the temples in villages have their origin in Kerala.  The Brahmins from the Uttara/Dakshina (north/ south) Kannada districts look after the temples.

Coorg can be called a land of Generals-  Field Marshall Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of free India, and General Thimmayya being the most well known of the lot. Almost every household has at least one person serving in the defense force. The birth of a male child, as well as their death ceremonies, are still celebrated with a gun salute.

Text and images © 2002 - 2010