Kerala houses a multitude of tribal communities where they have settled down over the years. In the northern portion of the Godavari district, the Koya tribes dwell in the mountainous ranges. Several Koya tribes are also located in the Malkangiri districts. In the district, Koya tribes are located in Kalimela, Podia, Malkangiri and Korukonda areas. In numerous places of the Mathili and Manyamkonda districts aged Kora tribes have settled down.
The origin of these Koya tribes is quite interesting. The popular saying is that these Koya tribes have a heritage of belonging to the famous family of the Gond tribe
. The Koya tribes have convention that about two hundred years ago they were driven out by famine and disputes from the plateau in the Baster districts. The Koya tribes are one of the scheduled tribes of India.
These Koya tribes have got the highest population among the tribal communities in India. These tribal people have the habit of building their houses in their own hands using several tools and techniques. These Koya tribes reside in low level houses with thatched roofs. Their village comprises of near about thirty to forty Koya tribal families. Rituals and rites are integrated to the lifestyle of these Koya tribes. There is belief popular amongst the Koya tribes that if they settle down at any area on a permanent basis, the local deity might get angry or some natural disaster might occur. These Koya are very fond of various animals like pigs, goats, cows and hens. In fact these Koya tribes used to domesticate them with lots of care and concern.
Several festivals are celebrated by all the Koya tribal community. The major festival of Koya tribes is `Bijapandu` festival, which has been feted, in the month of Chaitra. Just like many other tribal communities of the Indian Territory, these Koya tribes also have taken up the occupation of cultivation and farming. These Koya tribes produce in ample amount things like tobacco leaf, Mandia, Maize, Bhatta Paddy.
Mahula and Salapa are the favorite drinks of these Koya tribes. These Koya tribes believe in worshipping gods and goddesses. Indigenous medicines are used for curing several illness and diseases. What is also interesting is that these Koya tribes use very little amount of milk.
Administrative system of these Koya tribes too is quite good. Ped is the chief of the Koya village who holds the post on a hereditary basis. There are a handful of villages where “Mutha” or “Panchayat” systems are prevalent. The chief of the Mutha was popularly called “Muthadar”. To assist the Muthadar in any of the village matters, a “Katual” was selected.
There are several qualities for which these Koya tribes have drawn the attention of the people. Unity and patriotism and several other values are there which these Koya tribes use to hold in high esteem. The name of these Koya tribes is also being mentioned in the history in golden letters. Interestingly, as early as 1880 under the leadership of the great Koya leader Tama Dora, a revolt occurred against the then British rule. This was known as “Koya Revolution” in annuls of history of India.
A society is enriched by its cultural excellencies and this Koya tribal society also cannot be an exception. The “Badajatra” of Malkangiri has been feted for quite a lot of time. This is based on legends, folktales and the beliefs of the group of people. In the ancient period, the Kanamraju, Potraju and Balraju that are worshiped by Koya Tribe, have got a close link with several deities like Lord Krishna
. Due to their long association with the Gond community, these Koya tribes believe Bhima as their forefather.