After Lingayats, Kodavas demand minority faith standing in Karnataka

BENGALURU: Two days after the Karnataka government accorded minority religion tag to the dominant community Lingayats, Kodavas, a martial race from the coffee growing district of Kodagu has demanded that they should too be declared as a religious minority.

On Wednesday, a memorandum was submitted to state minorities department on behalf of the community by . The department has forwarded the demand to .

The memorandum said , the Kodavas deserve the tag since their population is less than 1.5 lakh and the Centre has considered to include Kodava thakk, the Kodava language without a script, in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and a notification has been issued to initiate the process.

“We are nature worshippers and don’t follow many customs of the Hindu religion. None of our rituals involve Brahmin priests and all their scriptures are in their own language.. We also have distinct costumes and pork is our staple diet,” they said in their memorandum, justifying the demand.

Supporting the demand, Kodagu Natural Sciences Society president Lt. Gen. B C Nanda said that Kodavas inhabited Kodagu 2,000 years ago and the first recorded instance of Kodavas was found in 1174 AD during Hoysala dynasty in the state.

“Kodagu was a tiny independent state ruled by the Haleri (lingayat) kings till 1830s. The British annexed Kodagu and ruled it separately till 1947. After that it was declared as “C’” state and CM Poonacha was its first and last chief minister. On November 1, 1956 it became a part of Karnataka,” Nanda said

“Kodava is the only community that has lineage based clan system. They too have a sacret text called pattole palame, a record of the distinct culture, compiled in the late 19th century by Nadikerianda Chinnappa,” said some Kodava leaders

Some Kodava activists are also demanding that they should at least get an autonomous hill council status on the lines of Gurkha Hill Council (GHC).

Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has also favoured autonomous status to Kodagu and promised to place a private bill in the parliament. During his visit to Kodagu recently, Swamy, a Rajya Sabha MP, said the demand for autonomy for Kodagu was perfectly justified to protect their race, community, traditions and customs. He had promised to extend his support not only for autonomy to Kodagu, but also the inclusion of the Kodava language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

No tribal status

Karnataka government had initiated an ethnographic and socio-economic survey last following a memorandum from (CNC) to see whether the community qualifies for the tribal status but it was abandoned mid-way following objections from some Kodava and tribal leaders in the Congress. “ The presence of Kodavas is limited to just two assembly seats in Kodagu compared to 100 seats of Lingayats. I don’t think any party or government will heed our demands considering our limited political influence. We are hoping that some government or party will be our savior someday after they understand our issues, culture and dwindling population,’’ said CNC leader N U Nachappa.

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