Cultural Symbols || Rituals || Social Culture || Personal Culture



The people of Karnataka are the kannada speaking people who are generally referred to as the Kannadiga.The Kannadigas belong to the Dravidian ethnic group. The history of the state of Karnataka and the Kannadigas dates back to nearly more than two millennia. The history, culture and the development of Karnataka have been contributed by major empires and dynasties. The culture of KARNATAKA can be best expressed as comprising the following :

The origin of the different dynasties of the state has got the presence even in different other parts of the country too. Many kingdoms like the Sena Dynasty of Bengal, the Karnatas of Mithila, the Chindaka Nagas of central India, Gangas of Kalinga, Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Chalukyas of Vengi, Yadava Dynasty of Devagiri were all of Kannada origin.

The Kannadigas contributes at least 70% of the total population of the state of Karnataka and thus invariably they form the most predominant ethnic group. The Kannadigas are the original speakers of the classical language of Kannada. Kannada is not only the official language of the state but it is also been recognized by the government of India under the recommendations of the Committee of Linguistic Experts as one of the classical language of the country. The people of the state feel proud of their rich tradition and heritage. India being the home of ancient civilizations is noted for its cultural diversity. The uniqueness of the ethnic value of the people or the Kannadigas has carved out its own cultural niche.

Karnataka noted for its varied religious traditions along with their renowned history has helped the state and the people in achieving a rich cultural heritage for the state. Though Kannadiagas have Karnataka as their home town, the state is also the place for Tuluvas, Kodavas and Konkanis. Karnataka also accommodates minority of Tibetan Buddhists and tribes like the Soligas, Yeravas, Todas and Siddhis.There are mentions about this region in the period of the great epic Ramayana as Kishkindha. Based on literary factors the region of Mysore is called as Mahisha Mandala after a demon named Mahishasura.The neoteric or the contemporary theatre culture in Karnataka is still resonant with people like Ninasam, Ranga Shankara, Rangayana and Prabhat Kalavidaru continuing to build on the foundations laid by Gubbi Veeranna, T. P. Kailasam, B. V. Karanth, K V Subbanna, Prasanna and others. In the cultural history of India one can strongly say that the Haridasa devotional movement has brought a great change. It then nearly took six centuries to give the culture a proper shape by several saints and mystics. The culture change by spiritual influences also includes art and philosophy which was more concentrated in the state of Karnataka.

The theatre culture is one of the most common traditions among the Kannadigas. The theatre culture is also referred by the name Rangabhoomi. Natakas is also a common tradition among the people of Karnataka where a number of literatures related to epics and puranas are also written in praise of the heroic characters. Another common tradition among the Kannadigas is that in the temples on special occasion or on auspicious days like Dasara and Maha Shivaratri battles, stories, devotions or vratha are sung or narrated by the experts to the public and the devotees. Harikathe also comes as a part of tradition where a person tells a story in an outstanding manner accompanied by music at background and this goes on for the whole night. The Kannadiga weddings are more like the traditional Hindu weddings. The kannadigas very much adhere to the traditions customs and rituals at the time of wedding. There is a traditional practice of worshipping the spirits (generally referred as the Bhootas) mainly by the people of North Karnataka.

The Kannada marriages follow most of the customs similar to that of a Hindu marriage only for the matter it varies according to the area. The Kannadigas as a pre -wedding custom perform the Nandhi pooja so that the wedding takes place without any disturbance. On the day of wedding the Mandan puma is done to cleanse the place where the wedding is happening. Then the groom ties mangalsutra around bride's neck.

The traditional costume of the kannadigas, the women folk is the saree. Ilakal Saree and Mysore silk are quite famous. The draping of the sari varies depending on the area like Kodagu, North and South Karnataka and Karavali. Davani is a traditional costume of the young females. The traditional clothing for the men folk is the Dhoti, known as Panche. Mysore Peta is the traditional headgear of southern Karnataka, while the pagadi or pataga which looks like a turban is preferred in the northern areas of the state. Of course the costume the urban Kannadigas varies which includes all the modern outfits.

Mangalorean fish curry, and gadbad ice cream are some of the popular dishes relished by the people of Karnataka. Bisi bele bath is a rice-based dish that is quite popular among Indian and foreign cultures. The Mysore pak, a sweet delicacy made of flour, ghee and sugar is known far and wide in India and abroad. Other famous sweets of this area include Karadantu of Gokak and Amingad, Belgaavi Kunda and Dharwad pedha. Palm jaggery is a commonly used ingredient in the northern part of Karnataka. Udupi cuisine which has chain of shops all the world is highly noted for its sambhar.The Kannadigas also follow the traditional practise of serving food on a banana leaf. Rice and Ragi form the staple food in South Karnataka, whereas Jolada rotti, Sorghum is staple to North Karnataka. Jolada rotti, Ragi mudde, Uppittu, Benne Dose, Masala Dosa and Meddu Vade are some of the popular food items in Karnataka.

Farming and cattle rearing are some of the main occupation of the people of Karnataka. In coastal Karnataka the people concentrate more on fishing. Karnataka has India's oldest and largest gold mines at the Kolar gold fields which offer works for people in mines and industries. The Kannadigas are also known for hand carving and its related art. Of course now Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka is one of the major cities in the industrial and software field.

Kuvempu - poet, Jnanpith awardee.

Da Ra Bendre - poet, Jnanpith awardee.

K.Shivaram Karanth - Kannada writer, Jnanapith awardee.

Masti Venkatesh Iyengar -Jnanpith awardee.

Girish Karnad - Kannada writer, playwright, actor, Jnanpith awardee.