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Native to India
Region Kodagu, Karnataka
Ethnicity Kodava
Native speakers
200,000  (2001)[1]
Kannada script, Coorgi–Cox alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kfa
Glottolog koda1255[2]
Kodagu: home of the Kodavas shown above in the map of Karnataka, India (in orange)

The Kodava or Coorg language (Kannada script: ಕೊಡವ ತಕ್ಕ್ Kodava takk, meaning 'speech of Kodavas', in the Kodava language) is a Dravidian language and the original language of the Kodagu district in southern Karnataka, India. The term Kodava has two related usages. Firstly, it is the name of the Kodava language and culture followed by a number of communities from Kodagu. Secondly, within the Kodava - speaking communities and region (Kodagu) it describes the dominant Kodava caste. Hence, it is not only the primary language of Kodavas but also of a large number of other castes and tribes in Kodagu. The Kodava language has two dialects: Mendele (spoken in Northern and Central Kodagu, i.e. outside Kodagu's Kiggat naad) and Kiggat (spoken in Kiggat naad, in Southern Kodagu).


Dolls in Kodava attire

Although Kodava is the language of the original Kodavas and the Amma-Kodavas, the native speakers of Kodava Takk who were mainly settled in the district of Kodagu,[3] it is also the native language of some other castes such as the Kodava-Heggade, Airi, Male-Kudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapala, Maringi, Kavadi, Kolla, Thatta, Kodava Nair, Koleya, Koyava, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Ganiga, and Malaya. Many of these later mentioned castes had migrated into Kodagu from the Malabar Coast region during the period of the Rajas. According to Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy, apart from the Kodavas, 18 other ethnic groups speak Kodava Takk in and outside the district including Amma Kodava, Kodagu Heggade, Iri, Koyava, Banna, Madivala, Hajama, Kembatti, and Meda.[4] There is no research done so far to find out the variation in Kodava language in terms of these communities. As per 1991 census, the speakers of Kodava Takk make up to 0.25% of the total population of the Karnataka state.

Kodavas Proper[edit]

The Kodava caste numbers are estimated to form about one-fifth out of the total population of Kodagu. The indigenous people of Kodagu, they gave their name to the land. Many Kodava people have now migrated to areas outside Kodagu, to other Indian cities and regions, predominantly to Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Ooty, Chennai, Mumbai, Kerala, Hyderabad and Delhi for better job prospects. A few of them have now migrated outside India to foreign countries, like North America (the US and Canada),the Middle East (especially Dubai in UAE and Muscat in Oman) and the UK.[5]

Amma Kodavas[edit]

The Amma Kodavas were believed to be the original priests’ at all important temples in Coorg including temples of Talakaveri, Igguthappa and Irupu. However, with the coming of the Brahmins into Coorg, it appears that the priestly functions gradually slipped out of the grasp of the Amma Kodavas and fell into the hands of the Brahmins. The religious customs and practices of the hill people of Coorg gradually and subtly began to be influenced by the Brahmin practises and rituals. The role of the Coorg priest, via Amma Kodavas, declined and that of the Brahmin priest increased. In due course, the Amma Kodavas had no role to play in the religious aspects of the people of Coorg.

The loss of this important role earned some powerful Brahmin sympathisers, one of whom was a Havyaka Brahmin Thimmapaya, who had a large following of Amma Kodavas. During the later part of the 19th century, it appears that an attempt was made for assimilating the Amma Kodavas into the Brahmin fold. One batch of Amma Kodavas performed the rites to wear the sacred thread. Another batch is reported to have done so early in the 20th Century. Both these batches were assigned the Gothra names of their Brahmin patrons. The process of assimilation did not move any further. Today, many of the Amma Kodavas wear the sacred thread, a large number of them performing the rites a day before marriage (not after puberty, as done by the mainstream Brahmins). There are as many, who do not wear the sacred thread. Some of the Amma Kodavas do not have gotras assigned to them. They are vegetarians and endogamous. However, all other social activities such as marriage, dress and festivals are similar to the Kodavas. [6]

Kodava Heggade[edit]

The Kodava Heggades (Peggades) are another of these indigenous castes of Coorg who speak the Kodava language although originally they were believed to have come from North Malabar. They have around 100 Family names. They follow the Kodava habits and customs, dress like other Kodavas and speak Kodava Takk. The Kodava Heggades and the Amma Kodavas are similar to the Kodavas and hence might have been related to them in the ancient past.[6]

Kodava Maaples[edit]

'Kodava maaple' or Maaple (Kodava and Kannada :ಕೊಡವ ಮಾಪ್ಳೆ) is a Muslim community residing in Kodagu district of Karnataka State in southern India. In Coorg many Kodavas were converted into Islam during the rule of Tippu Sultan. They are called the 'Kodava Maaple' or 'Jamma Maaples' ( not to be confused with the Kerala Mappillas). However some of the Kodava Maaples have married with the Kerala Mappilas and Mangalore Bearys, since they contract marriage alliances with the Muslims of Coorg, Mangalore and Kerala. The Kodava Maaples belong to Sunni Islam, refrain from alcohol and eat only Halal. They maintained their original Kodava clan names and dress habits and spoke Coorg language although now they do follow some Kerala Muslim and Beary customs also.

Other related groups[edit]

These include communities such as, Airi, Malekudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapala,Kavadi, Kolla, Koyava, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Maleya and others. Many of these communities had migrated into Kodagu from the Canara, Mysore and the Malabar regions during the period of the Rajas and culturally ingrained themselves into the Kodava Society. They speak Kodava takk and follow the Kodava customs and habits to some extent.

The Brahmins from neighbouring North Malabar were invited by the Kodavas into Kodagu to serve as temple priests but they didn't settle down or possess land in the region. The Kodagu Gowda speaks Are Bhashe (Kodagu Gowda 'half-tongue', an admixture of Tulu, Kodava language and Kannada), wears the Kodava dress and follows some of the Kodava customs and habits. Most of the Kodagu Gowdas were originally Tulu speaking Gowdas who came from Sulya in South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) and were settled in Kodagu by the Kodagu Rajas in around 1800 AD. After the war with the Mysore Sultans, the Rajas of Kodagu had to bring the Gowdas into the region to settle down in some of the deserted farms of the dead Kodava families to continue the economic activities of the region.[7]


Proto Tamil-Kodagu, Origin of Kodagu language (Kodava takk)

Linguistically, it shows some deviations from other Dravidian languages. For instance, most Dravidian languages have 5 short and 5 long vowels. Kodava has two more vowels, namely the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/ and the mid central unrounded vowel /ɘ̞/, which can likewise be short and long (Balakrishnan 1976). These peculiarities and distinctness of the language had attracted the attention of scholars from the sixteenth century. However, they did not consider Kodava an independent language. It was considered as a dialect of Kannada, closer to Tulu (Ellis 1816), or closely related to Malayalam and Tamil (Moegling 1855). It is closely related to and influenced by Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tamil. A majority of the words are common between Kodava and Beary bashe, a dialect which is a mixture of Tulu and Malayalam spoken by the Beary and Belchada community. It was in early 20th century that the philologists and linguists recognized it as an independent language.


Family histories, rituals and other records were scripted on palm leaves called Pattole (patt=palm, ole=leaf) by astrologers in the ancient times. When Kodava was written, it was usually with Kannada script, sometimes with minor modifications, and sometimes in the Malayalam script as well. The folk songs of the Kodavas, called the Palame (also known as the Balo Patt or Dudi Patt), were orally transmitted across several generations. The language had no significant written literature until the twentieth century. Appaneravanda Hardas Appachcha Kavi, a playwright, and Nadikerianda Chinnappa, a folk compiler, are the two important poets and writers of Kodava language. Other important writers in the language were B D Ganapathy and I M Muthanna.

The Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions compiled in the early 1900s by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, was first published in 1924. The most important Kodava literature, it is said to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, collection of the folklore of a community in an Indian language. Nearly two thirds of the book consists of folksongs that were handed down orally through generations, sung even today during marriage and death ceremonies and during festivals relating to the seasons and in honour of local deities and heroes. Traditionally known as Balo Pat, these songs are sung by four men who beat dudis (drums) as they sing. Kodava folk dances are performed to the beat of many of these songs. The Pattole Palame was written using the Kannada script originally; it has been translated into English by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa, grandchildren of Nadikerianda Chinnappa, and has been published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi.[8]


The Kodava Cinema industry is very small. A few movies portraying the native culture and traditions of the Kodavas have been produced in this language. The first Kodava film 'Nada Mann Nada Kool' was directed by S.R.Rajan and produced in the year 1972.

Names of family members[edit]

Mother Amma/ Avva
Father Appa/ Ayya/ Pappa/ Appayya
Grandfather Thatha / Daddappayya
Grandmother Avvayya / Avva / Thaayi /Thathi
Maternal Uncle / Paternal Aunt's husband Mama / Mava
Maternal Uncle's wife / Paternal Aunt Mavi / Mayi
Eldest Paternal Uncle / Eldest Maternal Aunt's husband Baliappa / Doddappa
Eldest Paternal Uncle's wife / Eldest Maternal Aunt Baliavva / Doddavva
Elder Paternal Uncle / Elder Maternal Aunt's husband Bojappa
Elder Paternal Uncle's wife / Elder Maternal Aunt Bojavva / Bojamma
Younger Paternal Uncle / Younger Maternal Aunt's husband Kunjappa
Younger Paternal Uncle's wife/ Younger Maternal Aunt Kunjavva / Kunjamma
Youngest Paternal Uncle / Youngest Maternal Aunt's husband Cheriappa
Youngest Paternal Uncle's wife/ Youngest Maternal Aunt Cheriavva / Cheriamma
Father-in-law Mava
Mother-in-law Mavi / Mayi
brother-in-law (elder) / cross-cousin (elder, brother) / lineal cousin (elder, sister)'s husband Bava
sister-in-law (elder)/ cross-cousin (elder, sister) / lineal-cousin (elder, brother)'s wife Mamme
brother (elder) / lineal cousin (elder brother) / cross-cousin (elder, sister)'s husband Anna
sister (elder) / lineal-cousin (elder, sister) / cross-cousin (elder, brother)'s wife Akka
brother (younger) Thamma
sister (younger) Thange
Wife Ponne
Husband Wadiya
Son Movae
Daughter Movva

Numbers (1 to 10)[edit]

Number Kodava Tamil Kannada Malayalam Tulu Telugu Proto-Dravidian
1 ond oṉdru ondu onnu onji okaṭi *oru
2 danḍ iraṇdu eraḍu raṇdu raḍḍ renḍu *iru
3 mūṉd mūṉdṛu mūṟu mūnnu mūji mūḍu *muC
4 nāl nāṉgu nālku nālu nāl nālugu *nān
5 añji ainthu aidu añchu ayN ayidu *cayN
6 ār āṟu āṟu āṟu āji āṟu *caṟu
7 ēḻ ēzhu ēlu ēzhu yēl ēḍu *ēḻu
8 eṭṭ eṭṭu eṇṭu eṭṭu edma enimidi *eṭṭu
9 oiymbad oṉpathu ombattu oṉpatu ormba tommidi *toḷ
10 patt patthu hattu pathu patt padi *pat(tu)


Kodava words[edit]

Kodava Kannada English
Moodi Hudugi Girl
Kinha Huduga Boy
Poyi Hoguwa Go
Karri Saaru Curry (English origin from Tamil Karri)
Koole Anna Rice
Ide Idu Keep
Thimbake Thinnalu To Eat
Koolli Snaana To Bathe
Und Untu Is There
Bappi Baruthene I will Come (Farewell Greeting)
Ullo Iddene Am There
Bandan Ullo Bartha iddeeni Am coming
Yenne Ulliya? Hegidiya? How are you?
Māṅge Maavu Mango (English origin from Malayalam Māṅge)
Kaḷḷa Kaḷḷa Thief
Sooroole Modalu First
Kere Pamb Kere Havu Rat Snake
Mūle Mūle Corner
Āme Āme Tortoise
Bēli Bēli Fence
Beeja Beeja Seed
Bādege Bādege Rent
Chatte Sante Market
Ēni Ēni Ladder
Puḷi Hunasi (Huli) Tamarind
Gaali Gaali Wind

Kodava calendar[edit]


The Kodava months are named after the Signs of the Zodiac. Thus Cingyaar (from Simha or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on.

Comparative table showing corresponding months of other calendars
Months in Kodava Malayalam calendar (Northern Malabar system) Tamil calendar Saka era Sign of Zodiac Gregorian Calendar
Edmyaar Medam Chithirai ChaitraVaisakha Aries April–May
Kadmayaar Edavam / Idavam Vaikasi VaisakhaJyaistha Taurus May–June
Adare Mithunam Aani JyaisthaAsada Gemini June–July
Kakkada Karkadakam Aadi AsadaSravana Cancer July–August
Chingyaar Chingam Aavani SravanBhadrapada Leo August–September
Kanyaar Kanni Purattasi BhadrapadaAsvina Virgo September–October
Thoolyaar Tulam Aippasi AsvinaKartika Libra October–November
Birchyaar Vrscikam Karthigai KartikaAgrahayana Scorpio November–December
Dalmyaar Dhanu Margazhi AgrahayanaPausa Sagittarius December–January
Maalyaar Makaram Thai PausaMagha Capricorn January–February
Kumbyaar Kumbham Maasi MaghaPhalguna Aquarius February–March
Minyaar Minam Panguni PhalgunaChaitra Pisces March–April



The days of the week in the Kodava calendar, like other systems, are based on the names of the planets.

Comparative table showing corresponding weekdays
Kodava Malayalam Tamil Kannada Hindi English
Njayar ache Njayar azhca Nyaayiru Bhanuvara Ravivar Sunday
Thingal ache Thinkal azhca Thinkal Somavara Somvar Monday
Chowva ache Chowva azhca Chevvai Mangalavara Mangalvar Tuesday
Padhan ache Budhan azhca Budhan Budhavara Budhvar Wednesday
Byalha ache Vyazham azhca Vyazhan Guruvara Guruvar Thursday
Bolli ache Velli azhca Velli Shukravara Sukravar Friday
Chani ache Shani azhca Sani Shanivara Shanivar Saturday



  1. ^ Kodava at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kodava". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Kodava-speaking people seek one identity". The Hindu. 
  4. ^ "Will Kodava find a place in Eighth Schedule?". The Hindu. 
  5. ^ K.S. Rajyashree. Kodava Speech Community: an ethnolinguistic study. LanguageIndia.com, October 2001
  6. ^ a b 1. B.L.Rice, Mysore & Coorg Gazetteer, Vol-III. published in 1878, 2. Rev.H. Moegling "Coorg Memoirs" published as in 1855. 3. M.N.Srinivas, ‘Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India’ published in Oxford in 1951.
  7. ^ Gazetteer of Coorg (Rev.G.Richter,1870)
  8. ^ "– Official Website of Kodava Community". Kodava.org. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  9. ^ a b c Kushalappa, M. "The Early Coorgs", 2013.


  • R A Cole, "An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language"

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodava_language — Please support Wikipedia.
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14 news items

India Today

India Today
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 23:00:00 -0700

She has also lodged a police complaint accusing the professor of raping her on several occasions by making false promises of marriage. The student, who studies Kodava language under the varsity's Kannada Development Project, alleged that Professor ...

Times of India

Times of India
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 05:30:00 -0800

Swarathama performed fused a famous tribal track in Kodava language in their set, pleasantly surprising the local members from the audience. Solder rocked the audience on stage, at the camp site and many other places of the festival campus, making them ...
Daily News & Analysis
Sat, 12 Nov 2011 19:35:20 -0800

It is an annual fest to celebrate the first harvest of paddy. Under full moonlight, stalks of paddy are cut and joyous gunshots mark the occasion. The Kodava language is a mix of its geographical neighbours with many surprises thrown in. Malayalam ...
Deccan Herald
Mon, 10 Jun 2013 12:56:02 -0700

The issue was raised by JD(S) MLCs Basavaraj Horatti and M C Nanaiah, BJP MLC Y A Narayanaswamy, with regard to the Sapthagiri medical college, which has got recognition as a Kodava language minority college. According to the Opposition MLCs, the ...
The Hindu
Wed, 09 Nov 2011 21:42:58 -0800

A prime agenda for the organisation is the establishment of the Kodavaland Autonomous Region, under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, protection of the Kodava language under the Eighth Schedule and implementation of reservation for the community ...
Deccan Herald
Sun, 05 Jan 2014 11:40:03 -0800

Haradasa Appacchha Kavi, popularly known as the Adi Kavi of Kodagu had penned many plays including 'Savithri,' 'Yayathi,' 'Kaveri' and 'Subramanya' in Kodava language. The same were translated to Kannada language by Dr I M Muttanna, who also ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Mon, 29 Jul 2013 02:51:47 -0700

Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa College, a constituent college of the university at Madikeri, would offer the diploma and post-graduate diploma in Kodava language and culture. Any other colleges affiliated to the university can come forward to offer the ...
Times of India
Mon, 23 Apr 2012 16:20:22 -0700

Why are they called Pandhis, meaning pigs in Kodava language? Rammohan explains that their liking for the specialty pork dish pandhi curry from Kodagu prompted them to choose the name. "My wife is a Coorgi and picking the name pandhi, so similar to ...

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