Introduction / History
The Kodagu (also known as the Coorg) live in the Coorg district of Karnataka State, southwestern India. The word kodagu literally means "situated to the west," and their district, Coorg, stands in the ridges of the Western Ghat Mountains. The forested area is rugged and hilly with a high annual rainfall. They speak a South Dravidian language that is also called Kodagu.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Kodagu, known as a "little nation of warriors," have been praised for their courageous nature, honor, and loyalty. They have always been involved in political movements and fought bravely on the battle fields, gaining much respect for these efforts. It is said that war and agriculture are their twin occupations. For their bravery, the Kodagu have been honored with medals, swords, land, and money, both by the Indians and by the British. They are rugged, athletic, war-like people, who are proud of their lands and their ancestry.
In times past, every Kodagu village was self-sufficient. They had workers in many occupations, such as potters, blacksmiths, carpenters, goldsmiths, and barbers. Their prosperity waned, however, and they have since sought other jobs, such as working on coffee plantations or doing other types of agricultural labor. Both men and women are industrious and disciplined. In addition to their work in the home, the ladies also bear the brunt of the labor on the farms.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Modern individualism is adversely affecting the unity that was once found in Kodagu families. Traditionally, families were led by the fathers. However, today the discontented younger generation is continuing to breakdown this system by becoming more individualistic. It is also becoming more common for families to sub-divide their property in order to help maintain the land and pay the land taxes. In an effort to restore the "community spirit" that once existed, the Indian government has sponsored many community development projects.
Kodagu houses are typically situated beside the rice paddy fields and are surrounded by plantain, orange, and other trees. Their homes are raised off the ground and are always built facing the East. Large "family houses," where families gather for rituals, are built of stone and mortar, with solid, carved wood work. High-walled lanes lead up to these buildings.
The Kodagu traditionally wear long coats with silk sashes tied around their waists, sheathed swords at their sides, and turbans on their head. On ceremonial occasions, knives are also worn at their waists. The women wear scarves on their heads. Kodagu women have a reputation for being industrious and hospitable.
There are innumerable castes within the Indian society, of which the Kodagu are a part. There are different families and ethnic tribal groups in every village that have formed strong ties with one another. Nonetheless, the Kodagu strictly observe the caste hierarchy and do not form relationships with those of other castes. Even food that has been cooked by someone of a lower caste is considered untouchable.
The Kodagu, like all Hindus, believe in the law karma, which states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. If one is born into a higher caste, it is believed to have been caused by his good works in a past life. They also practice ancestor worship, particularly the first member of their family who is known as the Karanova. They believe that the Karanova is God himself and that by worshiping him, they are worshiping God directly. In addition, each village has a presiding god to which animal sacrifices are offered.
What Are Their Needs?
There only a few known Christians among the Kodagu. Prayer is the key to reaching these people with the Gospel.
* Ask God to encourage and protect the few known Kodagu Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Kodagu towards the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that the Lord will raise up long term workers to join the few who have already responded.