There are 21 Kodava-speaking communities in Kodagu against the 18 mentioned in a book, Kodava Bhashika Moola Nivasiya, published by the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy here.
These communities speak Kodava and follow the same dress code and food habits, celebrate festivals in a similar manner and consider the "Guru Karona" (ancestor) as their god. They also worship Nature. Each community has a family name. Most of the communities have "Ain Mane'' (ancestral house). Though they speak Kodava, they have remained scattered in different groups.
Kodava is the predominant community among them. Kodavas are in the forefront in all spheres. Though there are several attributes to the origin of Kodavas, it is an established fact they have been the principal tribe of Kodagu. There are over 800 Kodava families with a population of two lakh.
Kodava Bhashika Moola Nivasiya mentions about the "Heggade" community, which has 57 families with a population of 11,000. The "Amma Kodava" community has a small population in the district. "Amma Kodavas" are believed to be once the principal "archaks" of Kodagu. "Airi" is the other Kodava-speaking community. "Airis" are known for making Kodava ornaments such as "peechekatti'' worn by men. "Kaniyas'', who speak Kodava, are believed to have migrated from Kerala, who specialise in astrology. There are minor differences between Kodavas and Kaniyas in terms of observing rituals. "Kapalas'' are the poorest of the Kodava-speaking communities with a population of 300. They do not have family names, but have "Ain Mane''.
There are "Poomale Kudiyas'' who have made the hilly areas of the district their homes. The "Kembatti'' community comes under the Scheduled Caste category in Kodagu. Though "Kembattis" follow the Kodava culture, they have remained backward. The "Koyuva''; "Koleya''; "Golla''; "Nayar''; "Nayinda'' (barbar); "Panika''; "Banna'', which has two groups - "Aat Banna" and "Alak Banna"; "Baaniya''; "Boonepatta''; "Madivala''; "Maliya'', which specialises in herbal medicine; "Marangi''; and "Meda'' are the other communities that have adopted the Kodava custom in true spirit.
There have been talks of bringing these Kodava-speaking communities under one umbrella.
The president of the Akhila Kodava Samaja, Matanda C. Monnappa, said the idea was still there and it only had to be expedited. Members of the "Koyuva'' community with "Chokira'' family name at Srimangala in South Kodagu were taken into the Kodava fold in the 1980s. Similarly, there were applications pending with the samaja from "Airis'' and "Bannas'' to take them into the Kodava fold, he added.
The idea is to foster the unique Kodava culture followed by these communities. There are instances where Kodava girls marrying non-Kodavas taken into the Kodava fold by giving them new family names.