Kolis are perhaps the real aboriginal people of the Indian subcontinent and one of the most ancient communities of modern India. They are in very large numbers in Maharastra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajastan. Most of the Kshatriya Rajputs of Rajastan belong to Kshatriya kolis. The Mudirajas of A.P, the Muthurajas of Tamilnadu and the Bunts of Karnataka too belong to the same block of kolis. The bhils and jats living in MP, UP, Panjab and Rajastan also belong to the same block of kolis. Even the gypsies of Europian countries too belong to the same block of aboriginal Indians of vanara (vanjara & banjara) race. All these people, who spread in different parts of India and all over world came to be known with different names.

The most ancient and revered sage VALMIKI, the author of epic Ramayana belonged to this tribe. Bhakta Sabari of Ramayana Times from Kerala and Ekalavya of Mahabharat fame belonged to this tribe. King MANDHATA, a supreme and universal ruler whose reputation spread far and wide throughout India and whose stories of valor and yajna were described in the stone carvings of Mohanjo Daro, belonged to this tribe. The great King CHANDRA GUPTA MOURYA, Sant KABIR, BUDDHA's mother and his wife all belonged to this tribe.

In the State of Maharastra, SIVAJI's Commander-in-Chief and several of his Generals belonged to this tribe. In Saurastra, Sant THUTHALIMAL, Girnari Sant VALJINATH, Bhakta BHARDURDAS, Bhakta VALUMRAM and Sant KANJI Swami all belonged to this tribe.

WHO ARE KOLIS ? :Koli appears to be a derivation from the word 'kali' (black)-in some parts of Europe the Gypsies are called kalo also. In Maharastra, there are people with surname KALE - meaning black. The people having surnames such as KALE, KALMEGH, MEGHE, BHOR and KALBHOR in Maharastra are believed to the descendants of Kalabhras just like Mudirajas of Andhra Pradesh and Muthurajas of Tamilnadu. We have already seen that how the word KALABHRA got modified into different forms in different regions.

Kalabhras => Kalappars => Kalvars => Karvars => Kurvars => Kurubas
Kalabhras => Kalabhros => Kalbhros => Kalbhors => Bhors
Kala(bhras) => Kala => Kalo => Kale => Kali => koli

The Kalabhra kings of South India, who adapted Buddism as their religion, were once denounced by Brahmin epigraphists as Kali Asar (Black Demons). Kalabhras being the native people of tropical Indian subcontinent, they were mostly black in their skin complexion.

This clearly establishes the fact that Kala, kalo, kale or Kali means Black and koli means also black. The various modified forms of the title KOLI, which are in use today by various groups of people in India and around the world are kohli, kolhi and even perhaps kholi

koli => kohli => kolhi =>kholi

According to legend, the Koli claim to be descendents from the Black Dwarf that came forth from the body of King Vena.

Black Dwarf indicated Black man and black man is normally called KALI ( BLACKY).

Black = Kala = Kali = Kalo

WHO ARE GYPSIES ? : According to gypsies sa Roma phrala 'all Roma are brethren'. It was this feeling which was found amongst the Roma who came from different countries of the world at the St. Sarah's fair in France. Consequently, their language is called Romani and by no other name. Gypsy Theatre in Moscow is called 'Theatre Romen'. The first congress in London which was attended by the Roma from all over the world was thus named Romani Congress. Lacroix says that the Gypsies of the fifteenth century "called themselves Romi, or gens maries".

Romano => Roma => Romen => Romi => Rom

The Gypsies are also called by other names derivated from their main name 'Rom', The more extended form usually spelt Romanichal by English writers, seems to be as well known. One sees it referred to as Romano-chal in Germany and as Romanichel in Russia. In the neighborhood of the Pyrenees, specially in Basque districts of France the Gypsies are called Romanichel, Romenical, Roumancel or Roma-itcela. Romanichal also signifies 'wandering man' - cal in Sanskrit means 'moving'. This expressed their non-sedentary habits or the habit of roaming about.

Romanichal => Romanochal => Romanichel => Romanical => Roumancel =>Romaitcela
Chal => chel =>cal =>cel =>cela =>moving =>wandering
Romanichal => Wandering man

Besides Rom, the Romanichal or Romanichel, there is the term Romano Chavo used by the Gypsies of Hungary, Carpathia and Moscow. The word Chavo is derived from the Sanskrit word sava meaning 'young of an animal' denoting in the Romani language 'youngman' and 'son'. Dr. Kochanowski defines it as "sons of Rama. Paspati also suggests its connection with Rama, the incarnation of god Visnu. In some countries they are also called Kale Roma (black men) or simply Kale to denote the black colour of their skin.

Chavo => Sava => Young of an animal => Youngman => Son
Romanichal => Sons of Rama => Followers of Rama

This needs greater insight about the true origins of gypsies to understand the real basis behind using the term Romano Chavo with reference to gypsies. The hidden meaning of the term "Romano Chavo" perhaps poniting to the fact that the gypsies were the descenders of vanaras (monkey men => a kind of animal men). There can not be any better explanation than this - why they should be called "Romano Chavo => Young of an animal".

Kale Roma => Black Men

From the above information about the connection of GYPSIES to Rama, it is very clear that the gypsies are the people of Indian origin and they are the descendants of Indian banjaras. It is also a fact that banjaras are non other than the vanaras, who were the servants of Lord Sri Ram of eternal epic Ramayana - written by sage Valmiky. In fact Lord Sri Rama and Sita always treated Hanuman and other vanaras as their sons and the vanaras always used to refer to Sita as mother.

The word BANJARA was a modification of the word VANCHARA. Vancharas means the people who move around in the forests (van) in search of food. This word vanchara got modified to vanara. kolis, mudirajas, vellalas, velamas, bunts, bhils, jats, banjaras and even gypsies must be the descendants of kalabhras who were in turn the descendants of vanaras.

The vanaras were most probably the forefathers of the kalabhras of South India with dominating features of austroid-negroid stock. Vanaras were the aboriginal dravidian people of Indian subcontinent whose culture and civilization was found to exist at various places such as Srilanka, Kishkinda, Harappa, Mohan-jo-daro. The vanara people of Vali and the demon people of Ravana were all dravidians except that vanaras learnt to coexist with Aryan influx who came from across Himalayas with vaishnava religion (Vaishnavism) and Ravana, the follower of Siva Religion (saivism) resisted to the Aryans.

So, Dr. Kochanowski who defined the word ROMANI as "sons of Rama and Mr. Paspati who also suggested its connection with Rama, the incarnation of god Visnu were perfectly right and the present gypsies are non other than the descendants of vanaras, who helped Rama in rescuing Sita from the clutches of Ravana and in destroying golden city of Lanka.

van => forest
chara => chala => chal => moving => wandering

vanachara <=> banachara <=> banchara <=> banjara => men wanderin in forests
vanchar => vanchara <=> vanjara <=> vanara => men wandering in forests

van(chara) <=> van(char) <=> van(chal)
char <=> chal <=> chel <=> cal <=> cel
Romanichal <=> Romaochal <=> romanichel <=> romanical <=> Roumancel <=>Romaitcela

There is no doubt that the gypsies are already acknowledged as the people of Indian origin by almost all the historians. Their connection to Indian Banjara and in turn Banjara connection to Vanara and thereby to kalabhras becomes very much evident for the specific reason that they are called KALE ROMA. Both the words KALE and ROMA with which gypsies are referred to, have a very strong Indian connection of mythological and medieval periods.

WHO ARE KALABHRAS ? : According to the theory of continental drift, millions of years ago, the entire land mass of Indian continent got separated from Austro-African land mass and moved towards Asian land mass, and finally got attached to great Asian continent with tremendous thrust creating the great Himalayan ranges with worlds highest snow covered peaks. Till it was connected to Asia, it was a drifting and an isolated continent surrounded by water from all the sides. It appears that the aboriginal and native people of this drifted Indian continent having Austro-African gentic connection evolved into a separate species over millions of years to be known as vanaras and then as kalabhras till the Aryan race entered into Indian continent, when the Indian land mass became a part of Asia.

This is the main reason - why we are coming across the people of Kalabhra origin with different names (blakies) in different regions, spread all over India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and even in Sri Lanka. These black people of kalabhra origin had even spread to Russian and many European countries in the name of gypsies. The gypsies are believed to be the people of Indian origin having links to Indian banjaras, who spread out from the great Rajastan sandy deserts, which resulted due to ecological disturbances in Himalayan Hill ranges and disappearance of a mighty Himalayan river -Sarswathi, which was fed with snow water of himalayan snow caps. Some of these people of kalbhra origin, who moved out from Rajastan to South of Vindhyas came to be referred as lambadas or banjaras.

Banjaras means Vanjaras or vancharas. Vancharas means the people who move in forests (van). This vanchara word also points to vanaras from whom the kalabhras are believed to descended.

vanara <=> vanjara <=> banjara
vanachar <=>banachar<=>banchara<=>banjara


The study of this water aspect of kolis will certainly throw a greater light on the aspect of artificial tank building and irrigation facilities created by the Kakatiya kings and Vijayanagar kings who were closely related to mudiraj community and believed to be the descendants of kalabhra race of South India. This water connection will also possibly give us a clue to the fishy connection Mudirajas with kolis. It certainly appears that kolis and mudirajas are one and the same people execept that these people in Maharastra and other North Indian states are known as kolis and the same people in Andhra Pradesh and other South Indian states are known as mudirajas, muthurajas and bunts.

The kolis, kurubas, vellalas, velamas and mudirajas of kalabhra origin were not only known for their valor and warrior qualities but also experts in water management which is an essential aspect for agricultural and fish farming. The following examples of water management skills by kolis and their variants in various parts of India prove that they were possessing skills of civil engineers since ancient times.

Khuls : Kuhls are a traditional irrigation system in Himachal Pradesh- surface channels diverting water from natural flowing streams (khuds). A typical community kuhl services six to 30 farmers, irrigating an area of about 20 ha. The system consists of a temporary headwall (constructed usually with river boulders) across a khud (ravine) for storage and diversion of the flow through a canal to the fields. By modern standards, building kuhls was simple, with boulders and labour forming the major input. The kuhl was provided with moghas (kuchcha outlets) to draw out water and irrigate nearby terraced fields. The water would flow from field to field and surplus water, if and, would drain back to the khud.

The kuhls were constructed and maintained by the village community. At the beginning of the irrigation season, the kohli (the water tender) would organise the irrigators to construct the headwall, repair the kuhl and make the system operational. The kohli played the role of a local engineer. Any person refusing to participate in construction and repair activities without valid reason, would be denied water for that season. Since denial of water was a religious punishment, it ensured community participation and solidarity. A person was also free to participate by providing a substitute for his labour. The kohli also distributed and managed the water.

These type of irrigation system are found in other parts of Northwestern India. Rules for Management of the Institution (a) The irrigation system irrigates about 20 acres of paddy fields to 23 farmers Social: Not reported (b) The irrigation community is operated by a "Kohli" on behalf of the water users. The kohli's role is multifunctional. He is in charge of rebuilding the dams each spring and coordinates and administers the distribution of water as well as other social and political aspects of the system. (c) Resource Allocation Not reported Conflict Resolution Mechanism.

This is a old community irrigation system (Kuhl) managed and operated by Kohli(water tender) on behalf of the water users. The Kohli's post is heriditary. For rendering services he is paid in kind. At the harvest he is given equal amount of grain to the weight of the seed sown. He is in charge of rebuilding the dams each spring and coordinates and administers the distribution of water as well as other social and political aspects of the system.

Kohli Tanks : The Kohlis, a small group of cultivators, built some 43,381 water tanks in the district of Bhandara, Maharashtra, some 250-300 years ago. These tanks constituted the backbone of irrigation in the area until the government took them over in the 1950s. It is still crucial for sugar and rice irrigation. The tanks were of all sizes, often with provisions to bring water literally to the doorstep of villagers.


We can get a greater insight about the kolis, the people of kalabhra origin and their extensiveness in their living all over India. We will surely feel the pulse to believe that the people of Mohanjo Daro were non other than the kalabhras. Let us read what keshavbhai j patel from Mandhata Community says:

Young and old alike, on a number of occasions, have asked about the background to our Mandhata Community. Some vague assertions have been put forward. No comprehensive answers have so far been forthcoming. Sometime one gets the feeling that the questions are being avoided as though there is something to hide in our past. All the historical findings suggest that our ancestry left behind an illustrious record of their achievements that the whole world can be proud of. Students of history and anthropology find so glowing a past of this ancient tribe of India and more is being uncovered as research continues.

Over the centuries, various scholars have written about their findings on this subject and various treaties by different scholars in different publications and in various Indian languages are in circulation.

This article is based on two authoritative publications 'The History of Koli Tribe' a book edited by Shree Bachoobhai Pitamber Kambed and published by Shree Talpoda Koli Community of Bhavnagar (1961 and 1981 editions) and an article by Shree Ramjibhai Santola published in Bombay Samachar in 1979.

In studying the aboriginal tribes of India scholars have consulted our most ancient records and documents, the various Vedas and the epics in different languages, archaeological records and notes and various other publications.

The one conclusion that they have all drawn from their findings is that the Koli Tribe which in its various subgroups form almost 20% of the population of present India is mentioned continuously through the centuries past way back to Mohanjo Daro and beyond.

Koli tribe they declare is the most ancient tribe of India. Historians and scholars find that Koli tribe, a ruling Kshtria Caste, was spread far and wide all over India. Their heroic exploits and learned reputation and relationships with the most powerful of those times regarded them with awe and respect.

Famous personalities of ancient kolis : And not without reason. The most ancient and revered sage Valmiki, the author of epic Ramayana belonged to this tribe. King Mandhata a supreme and universal ruler whose reputation spread far and wide throughout India and whose stories of valor and yajna were described in the stone carvings of Mohanjo Daro, belonged to this tribe.The great King Chandra Gupta Mourya, Sant Kabir, Budhha's mother and his wife all belonged to this tribe.

In the State of Maharastra, Sivaji's Commander-in-Chief and several of his Generals belonged to this tribe.

In Saurastra, Sant Thuthalimal, Girnari Sant Valjinath, Bhakta Bhardurdas, Bhakta Valumram and Sant Kanji Swami all belonged to this tribe.

The Koli Samaj therefore have given India and the world great sons and daughters whose teachings are of universal import and of relevance to modern day living.

King Mandhata was a koli : Archaeological finds of Mohenjo Daro is estimated to date back to 5000-3000 B.C. The stone inscriptions there describe the great Koli Kings and their Pyanchayet method of administration in their Kingdoms. References to the Great King Mandhata is found many times and in various aspects of his deeds of valor and yajna. During his times there were only three castes - Brahmin, Kshtriya and Vaishia.

Mandhata's father Yuvenashawer was known as belonging to Ishvaku-Sun Dynasty and their descendants were known as Sun Dynasty Koli Kings. Archaeological findings when pieced together show several descendants of Mandhata as illustrious and just rulers. Buddhist texts prove these beyond any doubt. Lord Budhha's mother was a Koli princess, and when Gautam the prince who was later to become Lord Budhha described the qualities of a princess he would be prepared to marry - such a princess could only be found in a Koli Kingdom. A son called Rahul was born to them.

Long before Lord Buddha, India was host to various migrant communities entering through the North-West passages. Dominant among them was the Aryans who settled and adopted local customs and philosophy to their own. This rich culture produced the Vedas and other works which are now the foundations of Hindu Religion.

These migrations from the North caused the ethnic communities into conflict and they either retreated South or into the forests. The Aryans however meant no harm and in time these intentions were translated into harmonious living creating a very rich and everlasting philosophy and culture. The descendents of Mandhata played a vital role and our ancient Vedas, epics and other relics mention their important contributions in the art of war and state administration. They are referred to in our ancient Sanskrit books as Kulya, Kuliye, Koli Serp, Kolik, Kaul etc.

kulya => kuliye => kaul => koli serp => koli

During Lord Budhha's time the Caste system was already well established and had fully deteriorated into a Caste decided by birth instead of merit. The teachings of Lord Budhha was seen as a threat by the established vested interest. The will of the higher caste Brahmin prevailed. For the ruling Kshtria Kings, the word of a Brahmin was a word of God. Very quickly the teachings of Budhha was completely banished from India.

It appears that Koli Kingdoms with their relationship and affinity to Budhha suffered most from this persecution. Although the vast majority never embraced Buddhist teachings, they appeared to have been cold shouldered and their influence veined.

Over the centuries deprived of their ruling and warrior duties this once powerful Kshtria tribe took up farming, trading, seafaring and other skilled occupations. To this day they have shuned domestic services.

Koli kshatriyas lost power and importance along with their sword : The upheaval must have proved too much for the Koli Kingdoms and it appears that the prolonged deprivations in the highly complex Hindu Society, a once powerful tribe, hardworking, skilled, loyal, self-sufficient but easily provoked into war lost its central position. A tribe that founded and built Bombay - named after the name of their Goddess Mumba Devi, finds it hard even to this day to get into positions of political or academic influence. For centuries now other tribes have looked down upon them and this psychological effect have been devastating for the whole communities of these Kshtrias. While individuals from our distance past to present day have left their mark the community as a whole is still backward in almost all spears of life.

Could it be that the one dominant skill they had in the ancient time - that of fighting wars - once lost, they remained at the lower end of the scale right up to the present day? Be as it may the various sub-groups of this ancient tribe from the early years of this century are writing their names into modern history. In India and in other parts of the world where they have migrated in large numbers are reasserting their once glorious past.

In present day India Koli tribe is to be found from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and are known by slightly different names according to the languages of the regions. The following are some of the major groups: Koli Kshtria, Koli Raja, Koli Rajput, Koli Suryavanshi, Nagarkoli, Gondakoli, Koli Mahadev, Koli Patel, Koli Thakor, Bavraya, Tharkarda, Pathanvadia, Mein koli, Koyeri, Mandhata Patel etc.

Koli Patel and Mandhata Patel are the land owning communities from the Surat and Bulsar Districts of Gujarat in Western India. When in the late 19th century the English set up their trading depot in Surat these people were the first to go to South Africa, New Zealand and East Africa to work on plantations and Railway projects. When their contracts came to an end the majority stayed in those countries and set up in businesses and other occupations.

- by keshavbhai j patel


The Koli tribes are located in southeastern Pakistan. They are primarily concentrated in the fertile flood plain of Sindh State and in the lower Thar Desert, just east of the Indus River. There are several major subdivisions of Koli in that area, including the four main i.e Parkari Koachchhi, the Wadiyara Koli, the Kutchi Kohli (or Lohar), and the Tharadari Koli.

Very little is known about the history of the Koli. There is conflicting information about their origins as well. It is thought that the Tharadari Koli originated in the city of Tharad, which is located in Gujarat, western India. There is also a large group of Koli who were the earliest known inhabitants of the Bombay area on the west coast of India, south of Gujarat. According to one source, the Koli were once a fishing community.

As Hindus, the Koli of Pakistan are a minority. Most of the other Hindus fled to India in 1947 at the partition of India and Pakistan. The Koli tribes all speak their own Indo-Aryan languages. Only the Kutchi Koli, who speak Kachi Koli, are considered a subgroup of the Gujarati.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Agriculture is the basis of the Koli economy. As sharecroppers, they raise cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, corn, and oil seeds. The biggest problem for the farmers is the control of the water supply. Some of the tribes live near the eastern tributaries of the Indus River, which serve as an irrigation system for their crops. However, most of the farmers are dependent on canal irrigation from the Indus.

Flooding along the Indus is common after heavy rains, which occur from July until August. Unfortunately, the flooding has caused serious deforestation, soil erosion, and water logging. Much of the groundwater in the region has also become salty and unfit for agricultural use. Surface drains have been built to help solve these problems.

The Koli tribes living in the eastern portion of the Thar Desert (also known as the Great Indian Desert) raise livestock in the steppe areas. This region consists mainly of sand dunes with patches of clay. Camels are their main mode of transportation. Because these tribes live in drab surroundings, they often exhibit a vivid array of colors in their paintings and other artistic designs.

Koli houses vary from region to region. Some of the people live in simple houses with thatched roofs, mud walls, and dirt floors; others live in decorative homes with tiled roofs, brick walls, and paved or cement floors. Sadly, most of the people live in poverty. Less than half of the Koli are literate. Their social status is considered low, but not "impure," since some of the higher castes (social classes) accept water from them.

Most of the Koli tribes drink liquor and eat fish, fowl, and pork. However, as Hindus, they are not allowed to eat beef. Structurally, they are divided into exogamous clans, which means that they are not permitted to marry within their own families.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Only a small percentage of Koli (less than 5% from each tribe) have converted to Islam, the dominant religion in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The majority of the tribes are Hindu.

Hinduism teaches that the soul never dies, but is "reborn" after the body dies. This continuous process of rebirth is called "reincarnation." Hindus believe that the soul may be reborn as an animal or as a human. The law of karma states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. Hindus believe that if a person lives a good life, his soul will be born into a higher state; but if he leads an evil life, he will be born into a lower state, perhaps into the body of a worm! They believe that a person continues to be reincarnated until he achieves "spiritual perfection."

"Pure Hinduism" does not exist in the state of Sindh. Rather, it is mingled with elements of Islam and other ethnic beliefs of the Koli. The primary deity of the Koli is the tiger god, Vaghdeva. The people worship carved wooden images of Vaghdeva.

Finally the Kohlis, descendants of the hunting and gathering population once subsisted on Thar's abundant fauna, fruit and wild products such as honey. Although the only original inhabitants of Thar (all the remainder have colonised in historical times), the Kohlis are now the poorest and least established. They enjoyed a period of respect as soldier for the pre-British rulers, but now with the disappearance of game, are reduced to making the painful adjustment to herding and farming.

KOLI, KACHI: a language of Pakistan


We can understand in a greater detail about telugu mudiraj by understanding the fishy connection of kolis and why the people of mudiraj community in telangaana region of Andhra Pradesh, a neighbouring state to Maharastra, are so closely connected to fishing and fishing business since unknown times. It is believed by some historians that the kings of kakatiya were from fishing community.

The Koli fishing community of Bombay are the city's oldest residents. The Kolis-fisherfolk-of Mumbai are a distinct community. They live in simple, old-fashioned comfort in fishing villages along Bombay's vast coastline. The Kolis are the original inhabitants of Bombay, they have been here even before the time Vasco da Gama came sailing in his dhow in 1497 to claim the seven islands of Bombay for his Portugal king from the Sultans of Gujarat. In Marathi, Koli means the originally heterogeneous marginal tribe-castes that took late in history to agriculture and were often press-ganged for porterage in army service. The same word also means spider and fisherman, presumably because the fisherman makes and uses a net to catch his prey as a spider his web.

Mumba Devi Temple : The temple was built in honour of the Goddess Mumbai, from whose name the word 'Mumbai' is derived. The original temple built by Koli fishermen was demolished around 1737 and a new temple was erected in its place at Bhuleshwar. The modern shrine contains an image of the Goddess Mumbadevi dressed in a robe with a silver crown, a nose ring and a golden necklace. To the left is a stone figure of Annapurna seated on a peacock. In front of the shrine is a tiger, the carrier of the Goddess. The Goddess personifies Mother Earth and is still worshipped by descendants of the dravidian population of western and southern India. Tuesday is the chief day of worship.

"NOTE : The worship of Goddess Mumbadevi by descendants of the dravidian population of western south India is clear indication that kolis are basically people of Kalabhra origin"

The catch of the day that comes into their trawlers' nets does not always make it to the fish markets. Some of it is converted into delicious Koli cuisine in their homes, UpperCrust reports. In Their dress, their language, their food and their lifestyle they are easily distinguishable. Especially the economically independent Koli women who are aggressive to the point of being quarrelsome.

Kolis, as the fisherfolk are known in Mumbai, are known to be easily excitable. Even an ordinary conversation between them often leads to a noisy quarrel in which abuses are easily exchanged. An exaggeration it may be but the statement is not inaccurate, that 'a Koli sentence never begins without a vulgar epithet.' Rather pleased with her aggressive image is the kolin and in the regional Marathi language kolin has become a synonym for an 'abusive quarrelsome woman'. The kolis speak a local variation of Konkani which is a dialect of Marathi.

The Kolin's entire position in society, her freedom of speech and action it a result of her economic power and independence arising from her kurga (her daily earnings). Dealing, as she has to, with all sorts of customers at the bazaar or during her door to door sales, she learns to quickly shed all coyness and freely interact with the men. She provides tremendous economic stability to the family and hence will not tolerate a bullying or wayward husband. Her financial position makes her more than welcome with her parents.

In return for her economic power she pays rather heavily by way of hard work. Her day begins at the break of dawn. After cooking for the family she takes off to the wharf to buy her fish and returns home only after the heavy load on her head is sold. At home, innumerous chores like mending fishing nets, fish baskets and drying to fish await her attention.

The Kolis are divided into two main occupational classes: the Dolkars and states. The Dolkars do the actual fishing while the latter purchase the haul wholesale. They usually set forth in boats to meet the returning Dolkars and buy the fish. Their popular folk song Dolkar dariyacha Raja (Dolkar, the king of the sea) underlines his supremacy.

The name Dolkar is derived from dol or dhola the large funnel shaped net. The smaller nets are known as jal. Every Koli house comprises an oti (verandah) which is reserved for weaving and repairing nets. Though house patterns differ, every house has a chool (kitchen), vathan (room) and a devghar (the worship room).

Even in the poorest of families, living in one room tenements one corner of the house is reserved for the God. Deeply religious, even the Christian converts, follow their original Hindu beliefs as well. The annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Ekvira, at the Karla caves in Pune district in undertaken by both the Hindus and the Christian Kolis. The chief Hindu religious festivals are 'Gauru Shimga' and 'Narial Poornima'. No. Koli whatever his faith, will recommence fishing after the rainy season without offering a coconut to the sea on Narial Poornima day.

The Hindu Kolis worship Mahadev, Hanuman and Khandoba and the Christian Kolis worship these and images of Christ and Virgin Mary. A few worship ancestors (Vir) and are known in the community as Virkar in opposition to the Devkars who worship only God. The oldest members of the family both male and female are also worshipped.

[NOTE : In the community of MUDIRAJ too, there are two groups. One group underatakes puja of veerulu (veerla kolupu) and the other undertakes puja of devara (devra kolupu) at the time of marriages and on auspecious occassions. Ankamma an equivalent of Mubadevi is the devara of most South Andhra mudiraj and some others worship lord venkateswara with the same fervor"]

Songs from an important part of the Kolis culture. Almost every ceremony of restival has its special song without which the ceremony does not commence. At the beginning of every such song a stanza is devoted to the deities. The deities are invoked and invited to the ceremony.

'Gondan' (tattooing) to is given religious significance as it is considered a mark of recognition by God. They believe that after death at the gates of heaven a woman is asked Godhun aali ki choruni? (Do you bear the mark of God or are you sneaking in?).

The name Mumbai is derived from the goddess, 'Mumba', the patron deity of the pre-Christian Kolis, the earliest inhabitants of the island. In the present day the shrine of Mumbadevi, situated at the south-west corner of the Mumbadevi tank in the very heart of the city is accorded more reverence than perhaps any other shrine.

Various records reveal that Kolis have been found in Mumbai from early times. Dr. Gerson da Cunha in the book 'Origin of Mumbai' describes old Mumbai as 'the desolate islet of the Mumbai Koli fishermen. The Kolis are reported to have occupied the land in A.D. 1138. Mumbai-Heptanesia as it was once known, comprised seven separate and amorphous isles namely Kolaba, Old Woman's Island, Mumbai, Mazagaon, Sion, Worli and Mahim (all of which have now been joined by bridges and reclamations). Records of the earlier settlements of Mumbai speak of Koli villages in all the seven islands. Though they are completely dwarfed by the high rise, congested apartments, Koli villages exist all along the sea coast of Mumbai even today. Mazagaon, it is believed, owes its name to fish, Machchagaun meaning fish-village, Kolaba means the Koli estate.

machagaun => mazagaon
kolibasti = > kolabasti => kolaba

In the matter of dress too, Kolis possess an individuality. Standing out distinctly, even in the sea of humanity that is Mumbai, is the koli who has not given up his or her traditional attire. The dress of a Koli woman consists of two or three garments namely a lugat(sari), a choli (blouse) and a parkhi (a shoulder scarf). The Christian Kolis don't use a parkhi and wear a typical red-checked saree with a tiny border and use the palla of the saree to cover their shoulders. Lugat is really the lower garment, nine yards in length in bright floral designs. It is worn in a peculiar way so that when draped at the waist it reaches just below the knees and is drawn up tightly between the legs.

The men generally wear a surkha (a loin cloth). It is a square piece of cloth, thrown diagonally in front on a string tied round the waist. The lower end of the cloth is tightly drawn through the legs and knotted at the back so as to cover the divided of the buttocks. A waist-coat and close fitting cap complete the attire. When not at sea the modern Koli wears a pair of pants and shirts.

Fond of jewellery, even their men wear armlets, bangles and earnings. The women don't believe in bank accounts and invest almost all their savings in gold. They wear traditional chunky typically Koli jewellery like the earnings patterned like the Pisces symbol (fish swimming in opposite directions) worn by almost all of them.

Otherwise the Kolis live a very simple life. The ordinary Koli meal consists of curry (ambat), rice, and fried fish. When at sea the men eat dried fish and rice gruel. They make a lot of sweet dishes at the Koli women are extremely fond of them. You only wish it would give them a sweet-tongue!

COOLIE : Kolis are highly hard working people and can accept any kind of manual labour in addition to their traditional jobs of soldiers, farmers, water tenders, fishers, etc. This character of their ever readiness for all types manual labour, any where and at any time, the word KOLI gave rise to a new terminology for labourer as COOLIE. It became so popular through out the world, that this word found its rightful place in English dictionary also.

koli =>coolie

It is worth to note here that the kurubas of Karnataka, who are also believed to be the descendants of kalabhras are known as BUNTs. The various community titles used by bunts are - shetty, rai, ballal, etc. The word BUNT also has a similar and closely related meaning and it really means SERVANT. While BUNT or BANT generally means a monthly paid labourer or bonded labour, COOLIE means a contract labourer, whose wages are paid @ daily rate / @ hourly rate / @ contracted rate.

The title BUNT might have originated to these people of KALABHRA origin due to the hidden fact that the kalabhras were most probably the descendats of VANARAS. The undeniable truth is that the VANARS were known as RAM BUNTs (SERVANTS OF RAM) through out the world. In telugu language, bantu means a servant. An other example of bantu or bantlu is that the guards working in royal courts, palaces and such high security places are known as bhatulu. In telugu bhatulu (many bunts) stands for plural meaning of the word bhutudu (one bunt).

Ram bunts => Ram Sevaks => Servants of Ram
Ram bunts => bunts
Raj bunts => Raj bhats
Bunts =>bhats =>bhatulu

One of the glaring points to be noted with these people of Kalabhra origin is that they are worshppers of mother Goddess as their principal deity. The Telugu Mudirajas worship mother Goddess in the name of ANKAMMA. Kolis of Mahastra worship her in the name of MUMBADEVI. Kakatiyas of Telangana region in A.P worship her in the name of KAKATI. The truth is that the aboriginal dravidians (kalabhras) of Indian continent developed their spiritual vision to see the divine power as mother. These people of dravidian kalabhra race worshipped mother Goddess in different forms and names in different regions.

Another glaring point that is to be noted among kolis and mudirajas is that there are two branches among both of these groups in the matter of worship. One of the branches known as virkars in kolis worship the DEAD WARRIORS (virs) and their counter parts in Andhra Pradesh also worship DEAD WORRIORS (veerulu) in the name of VEERLA KOLUPU. The other branch of kolis are devkars who worship mother Goddess ( dev) and their counter parts in Telugu mudirajas worship mother Goddess in the name of DEVRA KOLUPU.


The Kashyaps are a Rajput Community. Tortoise in Sanskrit means Kashyapa. Kashyaps were warrior kshatriyas who ruled parts of India. Thry were defeated by Kachawahas (Kachhawas / Kushwahas ). Kachhawas gat their clans name as they had defeated Kashyapas. Rajputs of kashyap gotra are doing agriculture in Rajastan.

Kashyaps seem to be primarily a North Indian community. They are spread across Punjab, Rajastan, Haryana, Utternchal, Utter Ptredesh and even Kashmir in India. The Kashyap Samaj had rendered yeoman's services to the society.The Kashyap is a surname of Kayasthas in Punjab. Some Kahyaps seem to be a contemporary artist community in Kasmir using river materials such as clay.

One Moti Kashyap has a vast experience in fish farming for over six decades.Some Kashyaps in Maharastra claim to belong to koli community and mention their gotra and subcaste as Kashyap. The subcaste claim is some thing similar that of some kolis of Hyderabad claiming their Main Caste as Koli with subcaste as Mudiraj. It is also seen some people claiming their Main Caste as Mudiraj with subcaste as koli.

The Kashyaps are a dalit caste in some states and traditionally live and find work along the river side. Mallahs, Kewats, Vindhyas, Nishads and Kashyaps are natural swimmers and divers. Mallah and the Kewats, Bind, Dhewar, Kashyap, Godia, Manjhi, Majhwar,Bathamas, Raikwars, Koli, Bhoi, Machchimar etc.are the most populated persons of the Nishad society in India. These communities are having their inter marriage relations.

Kashyaps are backwards in Utter Pradesh but they don't have the status of neither SC nor OBC.The condition and isolation of communities like Rajbhars, Nishads, Kashyaps, Nais, Gonds is similar to that of the Dalits.

Now a days, Nishads and the Kashyaps are not aware of their community, even they are not using their surnames and people do not know their caste. Nishadas of North India are dravidians, who once lived along the banks of Ganga and Yamuna rivers. They were hunters, fishermen and boatsmen relating to koli community of Dravidian races.

Kashyaps converted to Buddhism : After Buddha had crossed the Ganges, the Glorious one, went to the hermitage of Kashyapa at Gaya called Uruvila. There, he received as bhikshus the Kashyapas at Uruvila and the others along with more than a thousand of their disciples, and bestowed upon them together all kinds of spiritual knowledge along with the power to give up all worldly [inter-]action. The conversion of kashyapas to Buddhism seem to had taken place during ancient medieval period of Mauryas ( Kolis Or Koli variants) at Sanchi & Bharhut.

Kashyaps are fishermen and they are part of kolis : It is said that Valmiki cursed a Nishada hunter for hitting a bird which was sitting with its spouse. Sri Rama while going on exile to forests was helped by one Nishada king Guha to cross the river Ganga with his boat. The famous Nishada king named Guha who befriended the Kosala prince Raghava Rama was also was the king of Manimat kingdom.

Nishada was the kingdom of the Nishada Tribe, a tribe of people who the Vedic people considered as out-casts. The son begotten by a Sudra upon a Kshatriya women, becomes a Nishada and the duties assigned to him have reference to the catching of fish. When Bharata approached SriRama to return back and become the king of Ayodhya, Guha the king of Nishada tribe asks his relatives to guard the river bank and get ready for a battle, if necessary, with Bharata. Then, Guha approaches Bharata with a welcome-drink of honey, meat and fish. Sri Rama was also a koli Dravidian in the lineage of Mandhata and not different from Guha racially.

Nishadhas are Kshatriyas. The Kshatriyas called Atirathas, Amvashthas, Ugras, Vaidehas, Swapakas, Pukkasas, Tenas, Nishadas, Sutas, Magadhas, Ayogas, Karanas, Vratyas, and Chandalas have all sprung from the four original orders by intermixture with one another While some Nishadas battled for the sake of Pandavas, some others battled for Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War.

Ekalavya was a king of a Bhil Nishada tribe. He attacked Dwaraka once, and was killed by Vasudeva Krishna in the battle. This kingdom was located in Aravalli ranges in Rajasthan state of India, possibly the district named Bhilwara. Other than the kingdom of Ekalavya there were many other Nishada kingdoms. Some of Vena's descendands became Nishadas and some others were called Mlechchhas, who resided on the Vindhya mountains.

Most of the warrior community people in South India today were the migrants from the banks of dried up mythical Saraswati river in Rajastan and it was the home land of Nishada, bhil, and koli fishermen communities. . A spot named Vinasana on the banks of Saraswati River is mentioned as the gate to the kingdom of the Nishadas. There the river is completely dried up and exist as a dry river channel. Sarswati river of Vedic period, which dried up a long time back, was a hot bed of early dravidian civilization and also the place of Aryan - Dravidian racial mixup producing several Indo-Aryan tribes and clans. These were the people who followed vedic religion who composed great hymes.

The Atharva Veda is a sacred text of Hinduism, part of the four books of the Vedas. The Atharva Veda was mainly composed by two clans of fire priests known as the Bhrigus (also called Atharvans) and Angirasas. It also includes composition of certain other Indo-Aryan clans such as the Kaushikas, Vasishthas and Kashyapas. Kashyaps seems to be the descendants of Sage Kashyap. Kashyap's son was Vivaswan ( Surya = Sun ). Thus the Vamsha of Kashyap's descendants is Suryavamsha. The kolis also belong to Suryavamsa in the lineage of Emperor Mandhata of Mohenjodaro, who belonged to royal clans of Manu. Manu comes in the lane down sage Kashyapa in Suryavamsa ( Solar Race).

After the alleged anihilation of kshatriya race by Parashurama, a state of anarchy was created after the sage Kashyap had accepted the gift of the earth from him,and handed over the same to brahmins. Sage Kashyap saved her from anarchy. The earth prayed him to give her the rulers and said that she had hidden many kshatriyas born of Haihaya ( Chedis & kalachuris ) race and described further how and where she had hidden other kshatriyas and requested him to install those kings, for protecting her . Accordingly Kashyapa called all those kings ,which were mentioned by the earth and installed them on thrones.

Kokolu Anka Rao
Nagpur, M.S, India

Our Caste Names & Subcastes : Mudiraj Muthuraj mudhiraj Mudiraja mudhiraja Muthuraja mudduraja muddhuraja mudduraju muddhuraju Mutharacha Mutharasu Mutharasi Mutrasi Mutharayar Mutharaiyar bunt bant bantulu bantlu Aryar Arayar Araiyar Aryan Arayan Araiyan valavan valayar valaiyar Ambalakkarar gounder koli koliyan kolian raju rajulu Bedar Ramoshi Valmiki Tenugu Tenugolu Tenugollu Tenigolu Tenigollu