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Bunt (community)

The meaning of «bunt (community)»

Bunt (/ˈbʌnt/[1]) is an Indian community, who traditionally inhabit the coastal districts of Karnataka.[2] Bunts were originally a warrior class community[3][4] with agrarian origins,[2] and form the landed gentry of the region.[5] They are the dominant, land-owning farming community of Tulu Nadu and speak Tulu as well as Kundagannada as their mother tongue.[6][7] The Bunts today are a largely urbanised community with a population size of 1 million worldwide.[8][9]

The word Bunt means powerful man or warrior in Tulu language.[5] Bunts are also referred to as okkelme, which means farmers or cultivators and references their agrarian origins.[2]

American anthropologist Sylvia Vatuk states that the Bunt community was a loosely defined social group.[10] The matrilineal kin groups that constituted the caste were linguistically, geographically and economically diverse, which were united by their arrogation of aristocratic status and power.[10] The Bunts speak Tulu and Kannada as their native language and were traditionally an agrarian caste engaged in rice cultivation.[11][2][12][13][14] The Bunts follow a matrilineal system of inheritance called Aliyasantana.[15] They have 93 clan names or surnames and are divided into 53 matrilineal septs called Bari.[16] Members of the same bari did not intermarry.[16][a] According to S. D. L. Alagodi, the Bunts "originally belonged to the warrior class. Being the martial race of Tulu Nadu, they served the ruling chiefs which brought them considerable benefits and allowed them to become the landowners and nobles of the region."[5][17]

Bunt clans claim descent from the ancient Alupa dynasty (circa 2nd century CE - 15th century CE). Historian P. Gururaja Bhat mentions that the Alupa royal family were of local origin possibly belonging to the Bunt caste.[18] The title Alupa (Alva) survives till this day among the Bunts according to historian Bhaskar Anand Saletore.[19] Some ruling and feudal clans of North Kerala adjacent to Tulu Nadu were also likely descended from Bunts. Indian anthropologist Ayinapalli Aiyappan states that a powerful and warlike clan of the Bunts was called Kola Bari and the Kolathiri Raja of Kolathunadu was a descendant of this clan.[20]

Norwegian anthropologist Harald Tambs-Lyche, states that the Bunts were warriors of the Jain kingdoms.[21] Jainism gained a foothold in the Canara region during the rule of the Hoysala dynasty who were themselves Jains.[22] The Hoysala Ballal kings are known to have appointed Bunts as military officers[22] A section of Bunts believe that they were originally Jains who later became a caste group.[23] A legend prevalent among the Bunts states that one of the Jain kings of the Bunts abandoned Jainism and took to eating peacock meat to cure a disease.[23] Veerendra Heggade, the hereditary administrator of the Dharmasthala Temple has also publicly spoken about the Jain origin of the Bunts.[24] Heggade is the current head of the Pattada Pergade family of Bunt heritage which continues to practice the Jain religion.[25]

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