The word Kuruba means “warrior”. In Kannada the word “Kuruhu” means trust. Kuruba community is a very old one tracing back to the pre-historic times. In Kannada, the word Kuruba means shepherd. Their main occupation was looking after the sheep and living in caves. It is said that this community was the first human inhabitants to take up animal husbandry as a way of sustaining their families and form settled communities. Kurubas are present in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The emperor of Maurya dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya, was a Kuruba. Incidentally, Mauryas was the first dynasty in India. The icons of Vijaynagar dynasty, Hakka and Bukka were Kuruba’s. The downfall of Vijayanagara empire was a setback to the Kurubas, as they became a minority community in Karnataka.
Kurubas generally follow the Halumatha tradition. They worship Lord Shiva in various forms like Revannasidheshwara, Kalleshwara, Bhimalingeshwara. Shri Revannasiddaih is their main deity. The different sub-caste of Kurubas in Karnataka are:
• Kadu Kurubas
• Jenu Kurubas
• Gowda Kurubas
• Pattadha Kuruba
• Halumatha Kuruba
• Betta Kuruba
• Sanchari Kurubha
Kuruba Gowdas of Karnataka have a rich culture and traditions. Their festivals and fairs showcase their rich cultural diversity. One such festival which is very famous is the “Beereshwara” festival which is held in Medleri village in Ranibennur Taluk of Haveri district. More than two lakh people from the community assemble at this village to celebrate the festival of “Beereshwara”, the community deity of Kurubas. This festival runs for more than seven days in the month of February every year. Another famous aspect of this festival is the “Guddadaya dance”. This dance is performed by the “Goravas”, Dalavoys” and “Eergaras” belonging to the Kuruba community. As history says it, this amazing dance, drum beating is apparently a show of strength to keep away the wild animals from their herds of sheep in ancient times and also a warning to the enemy tribes about the strength of their community.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Kuruba matrimony is the use of “Hatthi Kankana” and “Unne Kankana”. “Hatti” in Kannada means cotton and “Unne” is the wool from sheep. Kankana is the thread made with either of them and tied to the wrists of the bride and groom during Kuruba matrimony. One of the features of Kuruba matrimony is the marriage is held between the same groups of people, i.e; the Hatti Kankana followers marry the followers of same custom and vice versa. However, modern day Kuruba matrimony does not witness this ritual.