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Regions with significant populations
Tulu, Kannada

Mogaveeras are the major fishing community in coastal Karnataka, India. The word 'Mogaveera' is a modernised version of the old word 'Mogeyar'.

They dominate the fishing and marine business in coastal Karnataka. Native to the district of Kasaragod in North Kerala and the districts of South Canara and Udupi in Karnataka, many have migrated to Mumbai, Bangalore, Kodagu and other parts of India and beyond. Mogaveeras were the first people from South Canara/Udupi to visit Bombay and the coasts of Gujarat & Saurastra in the north and Colombo in the South.[1]


The Mogaveeras (also spelt Mogavira) represent the native fishing community of the Karavali Karnataka. In the Udupi area they are also known as Marakalas. To the south of Ullal they are known as Bovis. In the southern Karavali from Brahmavara southward they speak Tulu and in the north they speak Kannada or Konkani towards Karwar. Edgar Thurston describes them as Mogers, the Tulu speaking fishermen of South Canara reported that ‘these fishermen are called Mogeyar and are a caste of Tuluva origin.[2]

The Mogeyar are boatmen, fishermen, porters and palanquin bearers … Some Mogaveers are… taken to agriculture, oil pressing and playing on musical instruments.’ “The common caste title for Mogaveers in Udupi region is 'Marakala' or 'Marakaleru'. In Kundapura taluk, the title ‘Naicker’ is preferred.”[3]

In Uttara Kannada mostly Kannada or Konkani speaking fisher-folk are known as Harikantra, Kharvi and Bovi. In the interior Karnataka, they are Kannada speaking fisher-folks known variously as Ganga-mathastha, Besta, Ambiga, Kabbaliga or Koli. In Kerala fishing community is known as Mukkuvar. In Andhra fishing communities are known as Vadabalija, Suryavamsi etc. Fishing communities living in different areas may not be related owing to geographic and ethnologic separations.


They are known for community living, where disputes are settled within the community by a group of elders. The group leader is known as 'gurikara'.As all other Tuluvas, Mogaveeras also follow Aliya Kattu, where inheritance of from Uncle to Nephew.[4]

Mogaveeras live in community fishing settlements, called "Pattanas". The village Bhajana Mandali forms the centre of their social life.Bobbariya is one of the popular spirits traditionally worshipped by the Mogaveeras.

Mogaveera Pattana

The 150 km long coastline of undivided Dakshina Kannada district is home to hundreds of fishing villages. These villages have commonly come to be known as 'Mogaveera Pattana'. The Mogaveera community traditionally lives in coastal habitations called ‘Mogaveera Pattana'(=town). These Pattanas numbering about two hundred are located in the coastal talukas of Dakshina kannadsa viz. Kundapur, Udupi and Mangalore and also Kasargod taluka, now a part of Kerala State. A visit to these pattanas in their picturesque surrounding is delightful to the eyes. The infinite expanse of the Arabian sea with numerous fishing boats afloat, countless waves rising, falling and breaking into sprays, rows and rows of coconut palms waving with the wind leaves the visitor spell bound! It is in this enrapturing surroundings that the Mogaveeras struggle for living defying the waves and often encountering raging storms and tidal waves.

The self-governed fishery townships or Pattana may be an ancient feature of common to Dravida culture, since even the coasts of Tamil Nadu have similar historically old habitations called Pattanas.[5]Ibn Battuta, a traveler from Morocco mentions, alighting at a port called Pattana, for some time, while returning from Honavar, along the west coast of India. Ibn Battuta possibly was referring to Bokkapattna, the fishing village and port in Mangalore during the Vijayanagara regime of the 14th century.


The fishing communities at Pattana level are well organized into ‘Grama-sabha’ (village council) with a group leader called ‘Gurikara’. The Gurikara was a hereditary leader and traditionally wore a steel or gold bangle around his wrist and a single ring on his ear, as insignia of the leadership. The role and authority of Gurikaras is diminishing with rise of democratically elected bodies. The group leader of a fishing team is called ‘Tandela’. Under the masthead of Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahasabha (established in 1923), there are 146 Gramasabhas that have been federated into ten Samyukta sabha-s.the pattanas were affiliated to sanyukta pattanas or the union of villages known as "nalku pattana" "elu pattana"and "hadninaru pattana" and these in turn were 325 gramasabhas in three hobalis in dakshina Kannada known as "mangalore hobali" "barkur hobali" and "bagwadi hobali"with an apex body known as "sarva hobali mahasabha"


Day-to-day affairs of the village were looked after by village headmen or Gurikaras until about 1950, when elected committees were instituted in most of the villages. These representative bodies regulated fishing, social and religious activities of the Mogaveera community. In addition, all civil disputes between members of the community were settled by the committee. A well defined system allowed submitting written statements both by the plaintiff and the defendant and producing witnesses in support of their respective claims. The head-man or President of the committee extensively questioned the litigants and the witnesses to bring out the truth.[6]

The statements are made in a place of worship where the meetings generally took place. If the judgment is not considered acceptable, the litigants are allowed to go in appeal to the higher forums such as the Sanyukta Pattanas, Hobali or the Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahajana Sangha. In the olden days decision arrived at the Mogaveera Kula Maha Sthree Amma Temple, at Bennekuduru, Barkur was considered final as it was the ultimate seat of justice. Mogaveera kulaguru or the High Priest Known as "Mangala Poojarya" had his head- quarters here.


Some members of the Mogaveera community have adopted to other occupations during the evolutionary history and these have been recognized as sub-communities of the Mogaveera group.

Sapaliga or Sapalya sub-community represents those adopted to musical professions connected with temple culture in Tulunadu. Ganiga sub-community represents those resorted to the profession of extracting (coconut)oil.

Bovi represents those who adopted to the menial profession of carrying palanquins in the historical period.

Early Historical Period[edit]


Mogaveeras follow the Moolasthana system of Tulu lineages (Bari system). The origin of Moolasthana notion dates back to some ca.700-600 BC or earlier corresponding with the migration of Tulu tribes in the Pirak region of NW Indian subcontinent.The initial places of settlements became their new Moolasthanas in Karavali. Thus many of the surnames of Mogaveeras refer to location of their initial settlements (Moolasthanas) like Bangera (<. Bengare), Suvarna (<.River Swarna), etc. The bootha (spirit deity) shrines worshipped by Tulu people consist of small single room structures called ‘sana’ or ‘saNa’. The Tulu word ‘sana’ carries same meaning as the Sanskrit word ‘sthana’. The ‘moolasthana’ or ‘moolasana’ is actually the primary or the original (‘moola’) ‘sana’ for the particular family which became a lineage during the course of time Tulu people do not marry within the same lineage. For example, A boy from bangera ‘bari’(=lineage) is not permitted to marry a girl of the bangera lineage. They are supposed to be brother and sister in relationship, being derived from the same bloodline or lineage.

The bari (lineage) concept is similar to the ‘gotra’ in Brahmin communities. Many of the bari names may have come from the place of their early settlement. The Bangera bari appears to have been named after ‘bangare’ or ‘bengare’ (= the sandy barrier spit along the coast), near Hoode, the estuary of Swarna and Sita rivers north of Udupi town. Similarly, the bari Suvarna might have been named after the river Swarna. Both these names indicate geographical locations where the tribes settled initially. The ‘kunda’ in ‘Kunder’ refers to an earthen or stone pillar or a place like the present Kundapur. ‘Suvarna’ means gold and similarly ‘Kanchan’ also refers to gold. The adjective gold may signify the gold extractor (gold panning expert) or simply may indicate the golden skin colour of the founder person of the lineage. Incidentally. The Sanskrit surname ‘Shriyan’ refers to ‘shri’ or wealth. ‘Kotian’ refers to one who maintained the ‘koti’ (= the storehouse), if not the ‘kote’ (=the fort). ‘Puthran’ basically means ‘sons’ or ‘the sons of’. ‘Salian’ stands for the annual whereas ‘Thingalaya’ means the monthly.

Lineage Surnames

Mogaveera families have acquired lineage surnames based on Moolasthana or the place of their original settlement. The following lineages based surnames are commonly found among the Mogaveera group of communities (in alphabetical order): Bangera, Chandan, Gujaran, Kanchan, Karkera, Kotian, Kunder, Maindan, Mendon, Pangal, Puthran, Salian, Shriyan, Suvarna, Thingalaya etc. Some of Mogaveera of earlier generation had the word ‘Tulu’ in the name/surnames, suggestive of their ancient Tulu heritage that migrated from North.

Kadamba Period[edit]

Sapaliga : During the 4th century CE, a new Kannada dynasty was established based on Banavasi (now part of Uttara Kannada) by Kadamba King Mayura Varma. He established new temples in Tulunadu dedicated to Shiva, Ganesha etc. within his territory that included Tulunadu. At that time the culture of temples was new to Tulunadu and only different forms of spirit worship and the cult of Buddhism prevailed until then. The Alupe Kings who ruled Tulunadu, were chieftains under the Kadamba king. The newly established temples were manned by Brahmins brought from Ahicchatra. The location of Ahicchatra has been disputed; it may be either on the banks of Godavari or near Bareily, in Uttar Pradesh. The temple proceedings demanded musical artists to orchestrate the pooja and other ceremonies. A set of Mogaveera youth were trained, in parts of ancient temple towns of ancient Tamil Nadu like Kanchi and Madhurai, to play instruments like Nadaswara, drums and other musical instruments, now vogue in the temples. These musical artists were later designated ‘Sapaliga’ or ‘Sapalya’. The word ‘sappala’ means sound. The families of these musical artists were settled around agrahars around the temples and these with time became a sub-community known as Sapaliga-s.

Ganiga : (pronounced gaaniga). The Karavali being a region replete with coconut palms, the extraction of coconut oil was a special profession, some of the Mogaveeras ventured into since early history. The oil extraction unit was known as gaaNa; hence those worked with gaaNa became Ganiga-s.]These have become an independent sub-community but maintain equivalent relations with Sapalya sub-community.

Bovi : During the regime of ancient Kings and chieftains, one of the menial professions was carrying palanquins of royal persons. Fishermen adapted to this job were known as Bovis. Now the members of Bovi sub-community are concentrated in the Ullal to Manjeswar region in the southern part of Karavali. Similarly, in Uttara Kannada, there are Konkani speaking members of Bovi sub-community Kharvi fisher folks.

Early Brahmins : Kadamba King imported male Brahmin Priests from Ahicchatra to conduct Pooja rituals in the newly built temples of Karavali Tulunadu. Some of the immigrants were uncomfortable in the new environs and wanted to return. Therefore, the King allowed them to marry with the Tulu tribes and settle in the agraharas around temples. Oral anecdotes among the Mogaveera people, suggest that the young Brahmin priests were married to girls of fisher-folk community.[7][8] Consequent on the event, the descendants of earlier generation of Tulu Brahmins acquired lineage surnames characteristic of native Tulu communities. The event may be of relevance to human genetic haplotype studies and interpretations.

Vijayanagar Period[edit]

Matti Brahmins : During the 14th century, it is said that Vadiraja Acharya of Udupi Mutt converted Mogaveera families of Mattu village into Brahmins.[9] The descendants of the community continued to follow some of the marriage practices native to Mogaveera heritage. Buchanan reports that these Matti Brahmins have a Bobbariya gunda in their village like other Mogaveeras.


Alupa period[edit]

Mogera: It appears that the fisher-folks of the Karavali Tulunadu were originally known as ’Mogera’. Manjeswara Govinda Pai had suggested that the word ‘mogera’ was derived from the word ‘mudgara’. Conversely, it also may be true that mudgara is a subsequently Sanskritized version of the original word ‘moger’ or ‘mogera’, (since the Sanskrit was introduced into the region during Kadamba period after 4th century CE.) Francis Buchanan has used the term ‘Mogeyar’ in his description of castes of south India. The word was used in the literature of British period to represent the fisher-folks of Canara (Karavali) and Malabar (Kerala). Buchanan reported that Mogeyar people worship Shiva, Vishnu or Mastriamma (<.Maha Stree Amma.>) The Tulu word ‘moger’ represents the low lying flood plains by the side of rivers. Possibly, the term was applied to people who initially inhabited in riverbanks and side plain lands and pursued professions of fishing and boating. Most of the original settlements or the ‘Moolasthanas’ of ‘Mogaveera and other related Tulu people, are located on the river banks, estuaries or beaches. Alternately, the word may be related to the verb ‘mogepu’ that means to swish or paddle in water.

‘Mogeyar’ is essentially a Kannada word possibly coined during the Vijayanagar reign of Barkur a region of Tulunadu. There is a view that the northern part of Karavali were originally Tulu speaking areas that became Kannada areas partly during the regime of Kadamba kings (Uttara Kannada) and later during Vijayanagar kings(Udupi to Kundapur area). The word ‘Mogeyar’ represents those who swish or paddle in the water. Incidentally, the Malayalam equivalent word for the community, ‘Murukkan’ also has the similar meaning. Now, consequent upon socio-political changes over the years, the Mogaveera of Dakshina Kannada speak Tulu, whereas those in areas North of Kalyanpur and Brahmavar speak Kannada.

The word Mogaveera[edit]

Hoige-bazar Mohanappa Thingalaya, a freedom fighter, is credited with. Coining the new word ‘Mogaveera’, in the early years of the 20th century, to replace the old fashioned ‘Mogera’ or ‘Mogeyar’. (Ramachandra Baikampadi, 2006). Accordingly, the Mumbai Sangha was named as Mogaveera Vyavasthapaka Mandali (MVM), registered in 1929. The first Kannada monthly published from Mumbai, from the house of MVM was named ‘Mogaveera’. Now the name Mogaveera has almost completely replaced the old words Mogera and Mogeyar.

Vijayanagar Period[edit]

Marakala : A sub-community of Mogaveera, especially around Udupi area is known as Marakala. The word Marakala is used almost synonymously with Mogaveera in Udupi region.Origin of the word ‘Marakala’, the caste name used for a subgroup of Mogaveera people in the Udupi area has an interesting history. It is said that during the time of ancient regal wars, the Mogaveera youth were employed as soldiers in the advance force in the Vijayanagar army. These were specialized in the art of breaking fortified wooden main doors of the enemy forts. They were called 'marakala'. The origin of the word is ‘mara’ (=wood, ~wooden fort door) and ‘kalapuni’ (=removing). The 'kaLapuni' is a Tulu usage special to Udupi region). Thus, the experts in the art of ‘mara-kalapuni’ were designated as ‘Marakala’. The word mara-keela (‘keeL’, means to remove, in Kannada) was also in some usage in earlier days.[10] The special word designating war professionals was said to have prevailed during the period of Vijayanagara region in Tulunadu (c. 14th century). It is also possible that the profession existed before the Vijayanagar rule.

Prominent Community Institutions[edit]

Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahajana Sabha (DKMMS)

Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahajana Sabha (DKMMS) was established in 1923 with 146 gramsabhas. Earlier, gramsabhas were functioning at Mangalore, Barkur (with members speaking Tulu) and Bagwadi (members speaking Kannada). The Mangalore and Udupi area gramsabhas joined to form a federation, whereas the Bagwadi federation functioned separately. This division was basically on the basis of language spoken by the local communities. The Bagwadi federation is called the “Mogaveera Mahajana Seva Sangha” The operational area of the DKMMS ranges from Uppala in Kerala just beyond Manjeshwara south of Mangalore to Manur in Kota – a total stretch of 115 kilometres of coastline.[11]

This Social body was started on 9 August 1902. It is involved in the socio-economic fabric of the Mogaveera community in Mumbai & runs schools, colleges & Banks for the overall development of the community which includes not only its own community members but also other communities as well. The mandali publishes a monthly Kannada magazine by the name of "Mogaveera"(first Kannada monthly to be published outside Karnataka) which was started in 1940. They are the first organisation in the country to start a free Night High School in 1908.

The Bank was started in 1946 in Mumbai Suburban district, is one of the leading co-operative banks catering to all the sections of the society.

Prominent Mogaveeras[edit]

  • Malpe Madwaraj : M.L.A. in 3rd Legislative Assembly of State of Karnataka from udupi, Industrialist, philanthropist.[2]
  • Manorama Madhwaraj : Cabinet Minister in Government of Karnataka, Former-Member of parliament For India.
  • Budhi Kunderan : India Test Cricketer. First wicket-keeper to have scored more than 500 runs in a Test series.
  • Sureshkumar Salian:Ex Dy Commissioner of Sales Tax,Govt of Karnataka.
  • Sadasiva Salian: Kannada and Tulu film actor. [3].
  • Pradeep Uppoor : Bollywood film and television soap producer. CID, Aahat fame.
  • U.R. Sabhapathi: Former congress MLA from Udupi,Karnataka.[4].
  • K.Arun prasad: EX Zilla panchayath member shimoga district and writer, researcher about moger community.
  • Dr. G. Shankar: Nadoja Award winner,Industrialist, philanthropist. [5].
  • Lalaji Mendon: Ex-Member of legislative assembly for Karnataka.
  • Y R Manohar: Business Person & Hotelier - Paradise Isle Resorts
  • Mr. Lokesh Mendon : International Athlete, Power Lifter & Shiv-Chatrapati Award Winner.


Religious faiths[edit]

The nature of the religious faiths has changed among the Mogaveeras during the evolutionary period of past 2700 years in the Karavali Tulunadu. In the beginning Mogaveeras worshipped exclusively spirit deities like Bermer, Panjurli etc. Subsequently, several spirits were added to the list like Bobbariya, Korathi, and Haiguli etc.

Spirit worship

Mogaveera worship a number of spirits like Bermer, Panjurli, Bobbariya, Korathi and Haiguli. Some of the places of worship, interestingly also contain idols of Vedavyasa and Atharva Muni.


Bobbariya was a tall and well-built Muslim trader, who was influential among the Mogaveera community of coastal Kapu area. Bobbariya was born of outcasted Brahmins and bought up by Muslim foster parents.Born in Goa and grown up in Kochi according to Pad-danas He was engaged in fish trading and was popular in the region among the local Mogaveera community. He was usually associated with a band of dedicated youth probably drawn from the Mogaveera community. Most of the Mogaveera Pattanas have Bobbariya gunda in them. Mogaveera traditionally believe that the benevolent Bobbariya spirit brings them good luck and ensures safety in a wild Sea.

He was popular in the Mogaveera Pattana of Kapu and was having flourishing business. Gradually, he employed special carpenters from the upland area and commissioned a large boat (‘padavu’) for carrying out sea trade. He had band of sailors consisting of local Mogaveeras and Muslims. Soon he prospered and became a leading figure in the area, on account of flourishing trade through his padvau.

Vedavyasa and Atharvamuni

Some of the Mogaveera worship centres, contain idols of Vedavyasa and Atharva Muni. It is an historically interesting feature since Vedavyasa, born to Matsyagandhi or Satyavathi, was a product of the fishing community. The exact character of Atharva Muni is not clear, since it is believed that the Atharva Veda was compiled by sage Bhrughu and his clan, with inputs from sages of the Angirasa clan. The fact that Mogavirs hold these ancient sages in esteem suggests that they were connected in some way in the remote historical past. This may also be suggestive of the migration of Mogaveeras from northwestern India.

Vishnu and Shiva

With advent of mainstream Hindu Gods into Tulunadu during (4th century CE) and after Kadamba period, Mogaveeras adapted to the worship of Shiva, Vishnu.


  1. ^ Daijiworld Online, Thursday, December 11, 2008
  2. ^ * Thurston, Edgar and K. Rangachari (2001) Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Asian Educational Services. p.3366. Original Edition published in 1909
  3. ^ Buchanan, cited in Thurston & Rangachary,(2001)
  4. ^ Analysis of the 1931 Census of India
  5. ^ Ibn Battuta, Morocco (ca. 1343 CE)
  6. ^ •Venkataraja Punimchattaya.(1993)“Mogaveerara Sanskriti”. Karnataka Sahitya Academy, Bangalore, 157p
  7. ^ Shriyan, T.C. ( 2005) The Mogaveeras. ‘Mogaveera’, Mumbai, March 2005. pp 19–23
  8. ^ Ramachandra Baikampadi. (2006).’Tulunadina Adi Brahmanaru moolata Mogaveerare?’
  9. ^ Buchanan, Francis (1807) A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar. T. Cadell and W. Davies, London.
  10. ^ Narayana A Bangera, Mitrapatna, 2007 ‘Mogaveera’ Mumbai, 2007
  11. ^ • Gururaja Budhya and Solomon Benjamin(2000).The politics of sustainable cities:the case of Bengare, Mangalore in coastal India. Environment and Urbanization, vol.12, No2.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^

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