Tulu people

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia
Information red.svg
Scan the QR code to donate via UPI
Dear reader, We need your support to keep the flame of knowledge burning bright! Our hosting server bill is due on June 1st, and without your help, Bharatpedia faces the risk of shutdown. We've come a long way together in exploring and celebrating our rich heritage. Now, let's unite to ensure Bharatpedia continues to be a beacon of knowledge for generations to come. Every contribution, big or small, makes a difference. Together, let's preserve and share the essence of Bharat.

Thank you for being part of the Bharatpedia family!
Please scan the QR code on the right click here to donate.



transparency: ₹0 raised out of ₹100,000 (0 supporter)

Total population
c. 1.8 million
Regions with significant populations
 India1,846,427 (2011 census)[1]
Om.svg Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Pancha-Dravida, Dravidian, Kannadigas, Konkanis, Kodavas, Malayali [3]

The Tulu people or Tuluvas are an ethno-linguistic group from Southern India. They are native speakers of the Tulu language and the region they traditionally inhabit is known as Tulu Nadu. This region comprises the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in Karnataka and a part of Kasaragod district in Kerala,[4][5] with Mangalore, Karnataka being the commercial hub. The Census report of 2011 reported a population of 1,846,427 native Tulu speakers living in India.[1]


According to Keralolpathi, the name Tuluva comes from that of one of the Cheraman Perumal kings of Kerala, who fixed his residence in the northern portion of his dominions just before its separation from Kerala, and who was called Tulubhan Perumal.[3]


According to mythology, Tulu Nadu was reclaimed by Parashurama from the sea.[6] According to the 17th-century Malayalam work Keralolpathi, the lands of Kerala and Tulu Nadu were recovered from the Arabian Sea by the axe-wielding warrior sage Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu (hence, Kerala is also called Parasurama Kshetram 'The Land of Parasurama'[7]). Parasurama threw his axe across the sea, and the water receded as far as it reached. According to legend, this new area of land extended from Gokarna to Kanyakumari.[8] The land which rose from sea was filled with salt and unsuitable for habitation; so Parasurama invoked the Snake King Vasuki, who spat holy poison and converted the soil into fertile lush green land. Out of respect, Vasuki and all snakes were appointed as protectors and guardians of the land. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar theorised, that Senguttuvan may have been inspired by the Parasurama legend, which was brought by early Aryan settlers.[9]

People and identity

Tulu speakers are divided into various castes. The major Tulu speaking castes are, Bunt, Billava, Shettigars,Tulu Gowdas, Devadiga, Kulalas, Koraga, Mogaveera, Tulu Brahmins, Vishwakarmas, Nayaks etc. Mangalorean Protestants are also Tulu speakers.[10] A Tulu woman is called Tuluvedi [11] Bhuta-aradhana in Tulu Nadu is similar to the rest of South India though the bhutas as well as their worship differ. The kola or nema is the yearly ceremony celebrating the festival of bhutas. They have attained a godly status among some worshippers, mainly non-Brahmins, and even have their own bhuta-sthanas (a place of abode similar to temples). Bhutas can be animistic as in Panjurli (boar) or Pili-bhuta (tiger). However, in many villages the Brahmins, who consider these spirits as their protectorates, conduct the yearly ceremonies. A second variety can be representatives of characters taken out of the Puranas like Bermer (Brahma), Lekkesiri (Raktesvari, Kali) or Vishnumurti etc. A third category is deified human beings like Gulige, Annappe, and Koti-Chananye etc. The fourth kind is strictly local characters like Male-Chandi (from the male-Nadu), Ullaldi (from Ullal), and Malaraye (from the Ghats). Then there are bhutas which provide comical relief during nemas, namely Marlu-Jumadi (crazy Jumadi) or Potte (dumb/deaf demigod). Newer bhutas also have been added like Posa-bhuta (new demigod), Vokku-Ballala, and Muttappe etc.[12]


Nagabana: The Nāga deities are worshipped in sacred groves
Ritual dance performing the Buta Kola dance in honour of the deities worshipped by Tulu speakers

Tuluvas follow a matrilineal system of inheritance known as Aliyasantana, where inheritance is from uncle to nephew, except for Brahmins, Tulu Gowda, Shettigar caste and Vishwakarmas.[13] It is similar to the Marumakkathayam of Kerala.[14][15][16] Other distinctive features include the rituals of Yakshagana, Bhuta Kola, Nagaradhane[17] Aati kalenja and Kambala.[18] Bhuta Kola is similar to Theyyam in Kerala.[19][20]

Tuluva New Year is called Bisu Parba, which falls on the same day as Baisakhi, Vishu and the Thai New Year.[21]

Tuluva Paddanas are sung narratives, which are part of several closely related singing traditions in Tulu language, Paddanas are sung during occasions which describe the evolution of Tulu tribes and Tulu culture.[22]

Demand for Tulu Nadu

From India's independence and following the reorganization of states, the Tuluvas have been demanding national language status for Tulu[23] and a separate state for themselves called Tulu Nadu (Land of Tuluvas), based on their language and distinct culture. Though somewhat subdued for a while, this demand has grown stronger in recent years. Several organizations like the Tulu Rajya Horata Samiti have taken up the cause of the Tuluvas, and frequent meetings and demonstrations are held across towns in Tulunadu (such as Mangalore and Udupi) to voice their demands.[24][25][26]

Prominent Tuluvas

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "ABSTRACT OF SPEAKERS' STRENGTH OF LANGUAGES AND MOTHER TONGUES - 2011" (PDF). censusindia.gov.in. Indian Census 2011, Government of India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. "Population by religion community – 2011". Census of India, 2011. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 J. Sturrock (1894). Madras District Manuals - South Canara (Volume-I). Madras Government Press.
  4. "Tulu". ethnologue.com.
  5. "Tulu Nadu, Kasaragod, Kerala, India". Kerala Tourism. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  6. "History of Mangalore" (PDF). ICICI. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  7. S.C. Bhatt, Gopal K. Bhargava (2006) "Land and People of Indian States and Union Territories: Volume 14.", p. 18
  8. Aiya VN (1906). The Travancore State Manual. Travancore Government Press. pp. 210–12. Retrieved 12 November 2007.
  9. Srinivisa Iyengar, P. T. (1929). History of the Tamils: From the Earliest Times to 600 A.D. Madras: Asian Educational Services. p. 515. ISBN 978-8120601451.
  10. Shetty, Malavika (2010). Telling Stories: Language, Narrative, and Social Life (Identity building through Narratives on a Tulu Call-in Show). Georgetown University Press. pp. 95–108. ISBN 9781589016743.
  11. Poojary, Kiran. "Tulu Lesson 13: Adjectives – Part 1". Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  12. "Tulu Nadu: The Land and its People by Neria H. Hebbar".
  13. Yogitha Shetty. "Ritualistic World of Tuluva: A Study of Tuluva Women and Siri possession cult". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  14. "CiNii - Transformation of the Marumakkathayam System in Malabar: The Malabar Marriage Act, 1896 and the Nayar Tarawads". ci.nii.ac.jp. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
  15. Page 35-39 Kandamathu Kudumba Sangamam Published by K. K. N., Neyyattinkara, S. India 1995
  16. Jeffrey in the Decline of Nayar Dominance in Travancore, See notes under C V Raman Pillai
  17. "Nagapanchami Naadige Doodadu". Mangalorean.com. 18 August 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  18. "Connecting with nature". Deccan Herald. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  19. "'Devakoothu'; the lone woman Theyyam in North Malabar". Mathrubhumi.
  20. "Devakoothu: This year, Devakoothu gets a new face | Kozhikode News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  21. "Star of Mysore". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  22. Peter J. Claus, "Variability in Tulu Padannas". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  23. "Demand in RS for official status to Tulu, Kodava languages". Daily News and Analysis.
  24. Tulu Rajya Horata Samithi has urged that the region comprising Tulu speaking people should be given the status of a separate state."News headlines". daijiworld.com.
  25. "Now the time has come for all Tulu natives to pressurize the union government with the demand for a separate Tulunadu state", said renowned Tulu litterateur and Yakshagana artiste Kudyady Vishwanath Rai."Beltangady: Litterateur Kudyady Vishwanath Rai Voices Need for Tulunadu State". daijiworld.com.
  26. "Vedike demands separate Tulunadu State". The Hindu.

Further reading