By Bavna Achayya 

Progress: We progress every day, progressing exceeding the expectations we set for ourselves. Building bridges; man on the moon, life in outer space, robots to replace man’s best friend.

bavnaDespite all this progress, life throws at us simple questions, a way of living, a lifestyle choice. There is so much we are born into, a family, a religion, a culture, customs and a sense of belonging even. Of this, how much must we keep and live by and how much is better forgotten?

We educate so we have thinkers and not blind followers. Ones we believe to be rational enough to make the right choice for them-selves.

But then rises the question of how much is this a decision of self. Inter caste marriages: an un-ending, un-dying battle, so much more in the kaleidoscope of cultures called India and well so much more in the little heaven of Coorg.

We Kodavas battle every day, the battle between personal choice and a race to protect. A race whose culture is so varied and so fascinating and almost unheard of in the many corners of the world.

Does intermarrying dilute this amazing culture or does it only add to a stronger gene pool and build the race further? These are qualms we battle with everyday. Constant intermarrying among a small race is known to put an end to many exquisite races.

Isn’t it then unfortunate that the stories of many lost races remain untold? Would marrying among other races, have saved them and let them live another day to speak the tale?

Well then, must we as Kodavas be more open to strengthen our race and our gene pool and thus open our closed circle to the many others out there. Or does this cause the absolute dilution of all we believe in and do we see our rich heritage being washed away?

When asked to write of Kodavas inter-marrying, I found it hard to take a stand. It was more like an open ended debate forming in my head with counter arguments on both ends.

But I do strongly believe that progress we must, and the narrow road to progression comes from the freedom of self expression. Promoting growth while imbibed in the many threads of a rich culture we are born into. To hear the folk songs my grandmother sang me fade away, would be a sad story. But change is the only constant, said someone dear to me once, and the thought has stuck on. As the world moves, we must move with it and allow the colours of our rich tradition seep among those who walk with us.

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19 Responses

  1. cdr somana madanda says:

    Dear sir.. The Lady author has a good point on
    DNA improvevisation of KODAVAs by indulging Intercast marrieges…….
    Historical Resurcher Agree to a large extent !
    …….But change is possible only when a KODAVA MAN marries a LADY from another
    Caste, Culture, Race, Region, Religonw who are proved Superior or at least Equal in their
    Intelligence , DNA or may be Culturral origin…
    Plutonic theory of Ethopion thinking has some
    deep inroot in Improving / Elevating higher
    DNA amoung Human Races.
    However the Question is does this process happens when a KODAVA LADY marry an outsider / Non -Kodava….?………This
    May have some Cultureral Interimpose…or
    Exchange of Traditional Values…..but certainly
    Devalues our KODAVA CULTURE… the enhance The MANs Geni…!!…and not of her OWN Race.!….
    Highly debatable and Controversial subject. !!
    Every Thinking KODAVAAs must grind their
    deeper minds to Reasurch on this before coming to a logical conclusion.
    I am writing this as I happened to be a Victim
    to such circumstance…..however mine turned out to be a reasonably successful experiment
    lasting short 0f fourty years. It almost suceeded in International Culturral, Traditional, Linguistic better understanding
    between two Different Nations, Culture and many more. My KODAVA and Non Kodava Friends have different views….however it is
    NOT demeaning.
    Let your Learned Readers give their churning
    views !!!

  2. Sundar Muthanna says:

    Despite our small numbers, the Kodava gene pool is still flexible enough to continue marriage within the community for some more time, without paying the price (in terms of having children with defects, etc.). Thanks to constant warfare and a hostile terrain with difficult weather, which claimed many lives, Kodavas in the past seem to have often married outside the community, because people from within were difficult to find. Therefore the gene pool is not small but a varied one. The identity hardened later because of constant invasions from outside. This past left behind a people who have common behavioural traits, even if only 60% of them today look like what we must have been around a 1000 years ago. We had the advantage of time and a unique geographic and cultural environment which could strengthen our genetics and reinforce the expected behaviour for hill tribal warriors. Coming to whether inter-marriage today will dilute the culture. Most certainly, it will. We don’t have the same cultural and geographical environment today, which we had a 1000 years ago, which could absorb outside influences and turn these families (even if took long periods of time) into what is considered ideal Kodavas. If Kodavas don’t look like Kodavas, or talk or dance, or fight against overwhelming odds like Kodavas have always done, well….then are they still really Kodavas? The further dilution of this community’s gene pool and culture, would be not only our loss but the whole Country’s.

  3. Kokkalera Kuttappa says:

    From which Caste/Religion we get better “Gene” to strengthen our race? Inter-caste/Religion marriages are only the result of circumstances and one doesn’t think of the “Gene” at this or that point of time 🙂

  4. Bavna Achaya! What an analysis and what a vivid thought! Very well written. My take is that not intermarrying is like not razing old building to build a new solid concrete one. Those who are for this thought are heritage lovers. Coorgs have strikingly different cultural traits by virtue of their DNA conditioned and rearranged by their practical, hard, nature dependent, clan protected, ‘giving out more than taking from’ traits as is evident from their past. Richness of culture is just a perception which is very subjective. I compare the Coorgs with the salmon fish in the sea, the only species moving away from the vastness of the sea, swimming not along the flow of the river but against the current, uphill, procreate, become fodder to many with a few surviving young, only to return to the enormous sea, of their life, intact, without cross cultural induction in their sordid saga of evolution. That’s why the salmon is unique so are the Coorgs!!

  5. Devaiah Muccatira says:

    Perceptions versus realities and convergence versus divergence…. the simple fact we do not understand is that what is the composition of primary Kodava to set the bar or baseline for both genotype and phenotype traits. Has there been assimilation earlier? The issue reflects time in regards to perceptions and realities with its imperatives and mysteries of origin of primary individuals and existing individuals.

  6. Kuttappa says:

    it’s very difficult to come to conclusion on this subject,
    In this present world where every individual has freedom to live there life in there own terms. caste,community,culture takes a back seat
    Now everyone is behind lifestyle & making it better and better, here when you start explore life you exploit yourself. As a corporate slave i myself has come far away from my community, just the name reminds me of my culture and Kodavame….

    • Nitin Raghav says:

      I agree with you. Why everybody thinks that only stopping intercaste marriages will save their culture. I just want to ask with due respect to all, what other than this is being done in order to save the culture ???

  7. kaushalya poothera says:

    oh finally…!!! u said it !! i think the inter-caste marriage or anything for that matter should be more of a personal choice more than it being about the gene pool o whatever. but yeah u made me think about the other things too.. 🙂 saving the culture and traditions need not be done only through the marriage or anything.. there are a lot of other ways too… i think its more important to be a human first and respect every individuals’ choices rather than focusing or forcing people to give up their likes 🙂 just saying.. no offence 🙂

    • Commander Somana says:

      Hi. ..what the much Fuss about. ..! i really wonder the affect of Intercaste/ origin marriages….Does the Culturel change is for MAN or WOMAN..? HOW DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE PERTICULAR SOCITY?
      For an example. ….a KODAVA marries a lady of Chinese origin…..Who changes Whom..?
      Debatable subject….! Interesting though…

    • Nitin Raghav says:

      That’s what I would love to hear from a human being . Remember we are human first. All these caste, religion, culture etc. are man-made.
      Just be a human first and try to spread happiness wherever and whenever you can. Rest everything comes later. And by the way if people are worried about the culture and tradition, I would love to give an example here. Sikhism is one of the newest religion of India and is very open and flourishing one as well.

  8. Parvathy Subbaiah says:

    I am late entrant into this conversation. I am not going to debate on whether it is right or wrong. What has been bothering me is the fact that Kodava Samaja, Bangalore, does not allow a girl from another caste or creed married to a Kodava boy to get Samaja membership. Is this the right path in fostering Kodava culture?

    • Cdr somana says:

      …sad case…not to worry…all small-minded Kodavas…Im sure the present President might mitigate things…I am also a poor victim. Help IGGUTAPPA…

  9. Rashmie B says:

    Hello All,

    I personally feel that the preservation of the culture could even be done with intercaste marriages. I’m saying it here that the love of my life is a Kodava and we are seeking for approval. I guarantee that the broader perspective will really help in making everyone happy. In fact, I’m more passionate to follow all the intricate beliefs that form base of the culture that I adore. All everyone need is the belief and you could see how all the culture and traditions would be imbibed to the future generations.

    I really admire the question that is been put up here by Parvathy. My humble request is please do have faith in the human community in general. This is a tremendous moment to say that things are changing around and please do welcome the change. Where there’s love there would be abundance, joy , happiness and everything will fall in place.

    Thank you

  10. Madiah says:

    This article sounds like a conversation between 2 people who have met at the paan shop. Hardly any substance. And an opinion that the author seems very unsure of. Cannot even generate a decent discussion. Waste of time all around.

  11. Aiyappa says:

    This article baffles me as I wonder what the author stands for. We Kodavas enjoy a lot of privileges which I do not see in any other race in this swamp of “culture” called India. Though we are not fully aware of our origin, we stand out from rest of the fellow countrymen.

    Kodavas are known for being talented, outgoing, and patriotic.Though we are born into such a race that is rich in culture, and tradition, a few who do not realise the honour of being born a Kodava, are swayed or mesmerised by the outlook of other cultures and fail to appreciate their own.

    One of the reason for Donald Trump to enter the American presidential race was that he could not stand anymore to witness what his country was becoming by welcoming people from all over the world.

    It is our responsibility to protect and uphold our custom and tradition and to show the world how such a small race has achieved great things despite evils such as “attempts to dilute Kodava community”.

  12. Bhagya Appachu says:

    Choosing a partner is a personal choice. Men/women don’t really think about finding a partner from another caste/race/nationality to ‘upgrade’ the gene pool. They just do it simply because they fell in love with someone from a totally different background.

    As much as I appreciate the freedom and individualism while choosing outside the community/nationality, I m deeply concerned about many Coorg girls(myself included) in finding a Coorg when most prefer to marry outsiders.

    The male-female ratio would be 800:1000 among Coorgs. For every 1000 women, there are only 800 men.. There are more daughters in every household, so the number of eligible bachelors have dwindled.

    Despite this, when Coorg boys living abroad prefer other nationalities over Coorgs for reasons like citizenship, lesser expenses, a mixed breed off-springs, it hurts a little..although Coorgs marrying Coorgs and producing extremely good looking kids are not uncommon.

    Again I m neither for or against inter-caste/inter-religion/interracial marriages. At the end, it only shows your love for the community , your personality and YOU as a person.

    Every choice we make has it’s consequences.

  13. Machangada Indu says:

    Firstly I am proud to be a Kodavathy. The customary fact is that where ever we are born, we accept the culture, tradition and other lessons of life first.We all have the fundamental right to choose our life partner.
    But if we marry in our own community it would be great!

  14. Kavya Muthanna says:

    This is an interesting topic and is a topic that is quite close to my heart. I have lived through this debate all through my adult life and have experienced quite some hardship by going through a marriage to a man who I met during my life journey. Marriage to a non-Kodava does not change who you are nor does it dilute the culture. In fact, it enriches a person’s experiences in life.
    I feel I have become an evangelist for the Kodava culture. I get to interact with and educate my extended family and my kids about the Kodavas and our culture. In fact, my curiosity and the need for learning more about our culture, traditions, and values after I got married.

    It is the Kodava community that needs to have a united front and welcome outsiders into the community to protect Kodava language, traditions, customs, and Kodagu. Kodavas are dwindling in numbers and leaving Kodagu in masses. Kodava identity is tied to the land. We need to save Kodagu to save Kodavas. The more people we have for this cause, the better our changes are to save our unique community.

    Kodagu without Kodavas is not Kodagu anymore.
    Kodavas without Kodagu are not Kodavas anymore.

    Hence I would like to start a dialogue on how we can save Kodagu for Kodavas.

  15. CHERAMANNA says:

    To me there is no superior gene to Kodava gene. The system of respecting elders by touching the feet three times is in Kodava only. The cuisine is peculiar to Kodava only. Inter caste marriages were not heard in olden days.

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