| Koraga Adivasi - The Primitive Tribal Group of Kerela
As we all know Koragas are one of the extincting PTGs community. Their population is declining. They are untouchables even for the dalits including all the caste Hindus. Their traditional Hero Kanthara agitated with the caste Hindus for the dignity of the community and killed by the upper caste people. Hubashika, once upon a time the koraga king has a dynasty and ruled the coastal region but beaten, enslaved by the Mayura Sharma the famous Kadamba king of Banavasi and since then koragas ran away to the forest and in medieval period the jain kings who ruled the coastal part brought the koragas from the forest and tamed them for ajal practices. In the ajal practice the bad things, evils, shani, grahacharas, diseases of the upper caste people and the naadu (village) is symbolically transferred to the koraga community members. The tip of the nail and hair of the upper caste person is mixed in to the rice and that will be provided to the koraga community members through this practice. Hundreds of such practices are in the ajal. By the intervention of the SGA, koraga started to organize themselves since 1990Ã¢â¬â¢s and in the year 1993 August 18th first time in the history of the community they made a rally at Mangalore and urged the administration to have the study of the community. Dr. Mohammad Peer committee is formed.
The committee gave the recommendations to the government. Prominent recommendation was to provide the land to each family and agriculturise the koraga community members. Since then koragas are fighting with the administration to provide the land. Lot of agitations in a variety continued, they went to jail, they went forwarded even in front of the guns of the forest officials, they encroached the forest land, they made continues dharna from panchayath to district level and ultimately in 2002 the Karnataka Government decided to provide the land to the koragas and at present 450 women got the land entitlement deeds with the extent of minimum one acre each.
Rehabilitation work is going on and slowly koragas are becoming the agriculturist. In the organization process the identity of the koragas became the stronger motive and in the process they questioned the caste Hindus and they analysed the structural causes for the situation of the koraga community and ultimately rejected all the believes, rituals, traditions connected with the hindu caste society. This leads to a movement on abolition of Ajal practices. Ultimately the Government of Karnataka passed the Karnataka Ajal Abolition Act. While doing so they rejected all the cultural tools, music dances, entertainments because all are connected with ajal, untouchability and Hindu caste society.
Ashok Kumar Shetty
Samagra Grameena Ashram, Pernal, Udupi
Following part is added by Editor / Moderator
The origin of Koragas is associated with a few legends such as rise and fall of certain dynasties and empires in the pre-historic period of northern Kerala. Thus koragas are believed to be the ancestors of a defeated dynasty, which was driven to forests and subsequently became slaves to the mighty. Another legend is regarding the issues of a Brahmin woman by a sudra. It is said that the social unacceptability of their children in the caste-dominated society was so rigid that the children were looked down upon with contempt and their future generation was named as Koraga.
The area of habilitation of Koraga is Kasaragod District. According to the PTG survey 1996-97, the population of Koragas is 1349. Their population during 1981 Census was 1098. A study undertaken during 1988 by KIRTADS, the State's Tribal Research Institute, shows that the Koraga population during 1998 is only 1330. The diminishing trend is not much significant as in the case of Cholanaikans. Considerable number of Koragas is seen in Karnataka State also.
The Koragas are seen mostly in rural areas. Due to their unhygienic way of life all other communities used to observe untouchability with Koragas. In earlier days they used to remove carcasses and ate the decaying flesh of dead animals.Even now a section of the non-tribals treat them as unapproachable and untouchable and all of them were slaves till the State banned slavery through the Bonded Labour Abolition Act. The Koragas speak a language of their own with resemblance to Tulu and Kannada. They have very little interaction with other communities.
The Koragas who live in plain areas are called Kuntu Koraga and those found in forests are named as Sappu Koraga [ living in the forest]. In Kerala only Kundu Koragas are seen and the Sappu Koragas are found in Karnataka State. The Kuntu Koraga covers two sections of Koragas viz. Badiyadika group and Pulikoor Group. Out of the 111 Koraga families living in Pavoor colony, a major portion is following Christianity and is known as Christian Koraga. Koragas are also classified as sappu Koraga and Kuntu Koraga on the basis of their clothing habits . Those who use garments of leaves are called Sappu and other group who uses clothes are called Kuntu. In fact, all Koragas in plain areas use clothes. Now- a - days sappus are also using clothes.
In Kasaragod District, Koraga live in 52 settlements distributed in Kasaragod and Manjeshwar blocks. There are two settlements in kasaragod block, one each in Kasaragod Panchayat ( Vidhyanagar colony] and Mentalloor Panchayat [ Pulikur colony). In Manjeswar Block, there are 50 settlements distributed in the following panchayats, viz. Badiadka, Meencha , Vorkady , Paivalige [ 11], Puthige , Mangalpady, Bellur , Enmagage [ 6], Kumbala  and Manjeswara .
The Koragas of Kerala follow makkathayam [patrilineal] rule of succession. Still a portion of the Koragas have nothing much to entail, except a few implements and household utensils. A large faction of the Koragas is engaged with basket making. In olden days a few were engaged in scavenging. They used to beg rather than undertaking agriculture activities or minor forest produce collection. Koragas were experts in crocodile capturing and they used to eat its flesh. Now none of this occupation could give them the subsistence level income for their livelihood.
The conventional Koraga houses are thatched huts with grass or leaves, with open sides. Now more than 80% families have received departmental houses.
The traditional God of Koragas is sun. Mariarnma and Kata (swami] are their popular Gods. However, the new generation is interested in worshipping the Hindu Gods.They bury the dead.
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