Devanga (also known as Lingayat Devanga, Devanga Shetty, Devanga Chettiar)[1][2][3] is a Hindu caste from South India that traditionally followed the occupation of textile merchandise, weaving and farming[2] mostly found in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.[4][5]

Regions with significant populations
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha
Mostly Lingayat sect of Hinduism
Related ethnic groups

Origin and culture

The caste claims to be descended from Devala, an ancient Hindu sage.[5] They originated from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire they migrated to Tamil Nadu.[6] They are of Shudra status in the Hindu caste system.[7][8][9][10] However, they use the Devanga Purana, a text sacred to the Devangas, to claim Brahmin status, despite having a non-Brahmin profession.[11][12] They replaced their native local gotras with Sanskritic gotras.[13]

Devanga is a Sanskrit word that means "Body of the God".[14]


There is a theory that the Devanga and Padmashali communities were once a single entity, with a split arising when the Devanga element took up Shaivite Lingayatism or Veerashaivism while the Padmashalis were Vaishnavs.[15][16] While some Devangas wear the yagnopaveetam or janivara, others consider the Viramustis as their traditional preceptors, from whom they take precepts and wear lingam.[5]

During the medieval period, the Veerashaiva weavers supported anti-caste movements such as that of Basava. However, that movement itself became consumed with caste superiority against other Veerashaivas and Brahmins (who were non-Veerashaivas). The weavers began claiming higher caste status and claim that in 1231 a king granted them rights that were traditionally accorded to upper castes, such as wearing the sacred thread, riding a palanquin, and displaying a flag.[16]

The main goddess of the Devanga people is Sri Ramalinga Chowdeshwari Amman in the South Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu regions.[17][4]

In the Central and North Karnataka regions the main goddess of the Devanga people is Sri Banashankari Amma Temple.[18]

Devanga Purana

Around 1532, Devangas of the Godavari requested the Telugu poet Bhadralinga Kavi to write their kulapuranam, or mythological history. He composed the Devanga Purana in the dasimatra-dvipadi style.[19] The Godavari Devangas also helped to Sanskrtize Devangas from eastern Andhra.[16]


Most members of this community were professional artisans who were specialized in weaving silk apparels with motifs and specialized with brocade, damask and matelassé. They were accordingly primarily concentrated around major textile centres in the Godavari district.[15]

They were known for great craftsmanship in weaving clothes of silk and superfine quality cotton textiles. Weaving the loom is usually done by men whereas women dye the yarn and spin the thread and children assist tasks such as looming. They are also very good entrepreneurs and expert in marketing of clothes. Some of them are also engaged in farming.[5]

Notable people

Punishment for inter-caste marriage

In 2004, the Devanga leaders of a small village in Belagur, Chitradurga district, Karnataka, fined and socially excluded ten families from the community for marrying people outside the caste.[25] The decision was criticised and alleged to be unconstitutional[26] but a similar thing happened to five families in Shivani village, Ajjampura, Chikmagalur district in 2011.[27]


  1. ^ Gautham, Komal (30 April 2016). "MGR magic still spins votes from Coimbatore weavers". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b Nainar, Nahla (21 March 2014). "Silence of the looms". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  3. ^ Brown University "Page.8 (Lingayat Devanga), Page.11 (Devanga Shetty),"
  4. ^ a b George, Anubha. "For 500 years, a Kannadiga community of weavers has produced Kerala's iconic white and gold saree". Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Acharya, Prasant Kumar (2003). Sacred Complex of Budhi Santani: Anthropological Approach to Study Hindu Civilization (2003 ed.). New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. pp. 240–246. ISBN 978-81-8069-049-5.
  6. ^ Ramaswamy, Vijaya (2014). "Mapping Migrations of South Indian Weavers before, during and after the Vijayanagar Period: Thirteenth to Eighteenth Centuries". In Hoerder, Dirk (ed.). Studies in Global History: Studies in Global Migration History. Vol. 15. Brill. p. 108. ISBN 978-90-04-27136-4.
  7. ^ Ramu, G. N. (1997). Family and Caste in Urban India: A Case Study. Vikas Publishing House. pp. 28, 171.
  8. ^ Kaushal, Molly (2001). Chanted Narratives: The Living "katha-vachana" Tradition. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. p. 123.
  9. ^ Chaudhary, Bhupen (2006). Indian Caste System: Essence and Reality. Global Vision Publishing House. p. 213.
  10. ^ Schwalbe, Gustav Albert (1998). Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie. Vol. 82–83. E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. p. 308.
  11. ^ Ramanujam, Srinivasa (2020). Renunciation and Untouchability in India: The Notional and the Empirical in the Caste Order. Taylor and Francis. pp. 978-0-429-31765-1. ISBN 9781000113600.
  12. ^ Bhattacharya, Ranjit Kumar (2002). Indian Artisans: Social Institutions and Cultural Values. Anthropological Survey of India. pp. 24–25.
  13. ^ Ratnam, L. K. Bal (1991). Anthropological Research and Tribal Situation. Centre for Training and Research in Anthropology and Management. p. 43.
  14. ^ Mysore State Gazateer: Govt of Mysore. page 111
  15. ^ a b Swarnalatha, P. (2005). "The Social World of the Weaver". The World of the Weaver in Northern Coromandel, c. 1750 - c. 1850. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan. pp. 36, 37. ISBN 978-81-250-2868-0.
  16. ^ a b c Reddy, Prabhavati C. (2014). Hindu Pilgrimage: Shifting Patterns of Worldview of Srisailam in South India. Routledge. p. 183.
  17. ^ "A ritual of pain to connect with the past - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Standing the test of Time". Deccan herald. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  19. ^ Swarnalatha, P. (2005). "The Social World of the Weaver". The World of the Weaver in Northern Coromandel, c. 1750 - c. 1850. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan. pp. 39–45. ISBN 978-81-250-2868-0.
  20. ^ Roy, Tirthankar (28 January 2020). The Crafts and Capitalism: Handloom Weaving Industry in Colonial India. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-000-02469-2.
  21. ^ "Once upon a time in Thyagaraya Nagar…". The Hindu.
  22. ^ "Wo are famous Kannada actors and their castes". 16 March 2020.
  23. ^ "BJP fields K Narayan for bypoll for Karnataka Rajya Sabha seat". Deccan Herald. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  24. ^ "BJP's K Narayan enters Rajya Sabha unopposed". The Times of India.
  25. ^ "Ten families facing 'social boycott'". The Hindu. 22 December 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2015.[dead link]
  26. ^ "Seer calls for end to social boycott". The Hindu. 23 December 2004. Archived from the original on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  27. ^ Khajane, Muralidhara (29 January 2011). "Protection for 'social boycott' victims sought". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 May 2015.

Further reading