People of South Kanara

W.J.Pais Food for Thought - The Konkan Coast

People of South Kanara

Bunt people

The origins of the Bunts is not clearly known. Whether they were indigenous or immigrants to Tulu Nadu (coastal Karnataka) is shrouded in mystery. They follow a dravidian social system. The community of Bunts (anglicized from Buntas), also referred to as Nadavas, form an important and integral part of the socio-economic culture of Tulu nadu.

It is also postulated that the Nairs of Kerala are originally migrated from the Tulu nadu as noted here: Manual of Madras Administration Vol II (printed in 1885) notes that the Nadavas are the same people as the Nairs of Malabar and the Bunts of Southern Tulu nadu.


The word Bunta in Kannada implies soldier This is derived from the Sanskrit word Bhata again meaning 'a mercenary' or 'a soldier'. The Tulu equivalent is Bunte or Bunter(plural).

Geographic distribution

Bunts are mostly found in the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka, the Kasaragod district of Kerala and in Mumbai. They share Tulu nadu with other prominent religious, caste and ethnic groups like the Billavas, Mogaveeras, Brahmins, Konkanis, Catholics and Jains. The southern Bunts inhabiting Dakshina Kannada, northern Kasaragod and Udupi and Karkala taluks of Udupi districts are Tuluvas. Bunts in Kundapura speak a dialect of Kannada called Kundagannada.


The Bunts community is made up of several subcastes. The chief among them include Yadav, Bantaru, Nadavaru, Jain Bunts, Masaadika, Parivaara, Setru, Halarusetru, Baraga, Ullaye, Dokkaludethi, Kartharu, Palavaru and Ikkelakalu.


Bunts are part of unique culture of coastal Karnataka. These cultural aspects along with the dialect of Tulu spoken are common to many non-Brahmin castes in this region.

Rituals and Worship

Bunts usually follow the Tulu(Also, found in Kerala) traditional rituals of Bhuta Kola or the spirit worship and Nagaradhane or snake-worship. Bunt households in the villages had earmarked spaces for Bhootada Gudi or the rest space for spirits, literally translated it means Spirit House. During Bhuta Kola, the eldest male member of the family will be called by name by the Darshan Paathri (the person who invokes the spirit),in the presence of villagers and prasadam will be given.

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