Also known as Gowdas, the Vokkaligas comprise more than 15 percent of Karnataka’s 6 crore population. Vokkaligas are spread across southern Karnataka districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Mandya, Mysore, Hassan and Chickmagalur.
Vokkalathana in Kannada means tilling land and Vokkaliga means one who tills the land. Alternate etymologies include the work vokku (to thresh grain out of the ear stocks).
This community are also known as Kongu Vellalars of Tamil Nadu. Vokkaligas are living in other states in the country. They are being called by different names in the country based on their local dialects.
The Yelahankanadu Prabhus were Gowdas or tillers of the land. They belonged to Morasu Vokkalu sect; the ancestors of them were migrants. Fourth in succession from Rana Bhairave Gowda, founder of the dynasty of Avati Nadu Prabhus and great grandson of Jaya Gowda, who established separate dynasty, is the famous Yelahanka Nadu Prabhus, Kempe Gowda I who ruled for 46 years commencing his reign from 1513. Jaya Gowda accepted the sovereignty of the Vijayanagar emperor.
The city of Bangalore itself was established by Kempe Gowda in 1537, as the capital of his erstwhile kingdom.
Different sub-castes of Vokkaligas in Karnataka
- Morasu Vokkaliga
- Kunchitiga Vokkaliga
- Rodhagaru Vokkaliga
- Reddy Vokkaliga etc.
Different sub-castes of Vokkaligas in Maharashtra
- Marata Pateel
Different sub-castes of Vokkaligas in Andhra Pradesh
- Kapu Reddy
Sub-castes of Vokkaligas in Tamil Nadu
- Gounder etc
Vokkaliga matrimony is done in marriage halls, however; some wedding in the rural areas also take place in ancestral homes. Some of the pre-marriage rituals include Nischitartha. Some of the interesting customs followed during Vokkaliga matrimony are chapparashastra, ganga puja, Saptapadi etc. During the marriage the groom ties the “Mangalsutra” around the bride’s neck. The “pallav” of the bride is tied to “shalya” of the groom. During the marital knot, the couple goes around the “mandap” three times, after which they go outside to view the sun.
The newlyweds then seek the blessing of the elders by touching the feet of all the elders present after which they leave for the marital home. The bride then enters her new home by tipping over a small measure of rice with her right toe for well-being and prosperity.