Koya (tribe)

Koya are an Indian tribal community found in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Koyas are commonly referred to as Koi, Koyalu, Koyollu, KoyaDoralu, Dorala Sattam, etc. Koya tribes can be further divided into Koya, Doli Koya, Gutta Koya or Gotti Koya, Kammara Koya, Musara Koya, Oddi Koya, Pattidi Koya, Rasha Koya, Lingadhari Koya (ordinary), Kottu Koya, Bhine Koya, Raja Koya, etc.[1][2] Koyas call themselves Koitur in their dialect. The Koyas speak the Koya language, also known as Koya basha, which is a Dravidian language related to Gondi.[3]

Members of Koi community.jpg
Koya men
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh (incl. Telangana)590,739
Koya • Telugu • Odisi •
Traditional tribal religion (classified as "Hinduism" in the census)
Related ethnic groups
Gonds, Telugus, other Dravidian peoples

Population & LivelihoodEdit

The Koya population is concentrated in southeastern Telangana, northern Andhra Pradesh, far-southern Chhattisgarh and southwestern Odisha.[4] In Telangana they live mainly in Khammam, Bhadradi Kothagudem and Warangal districts and are sparsely found in the old Adilabad and Karimnagar districts. In Andhra Pradesh the Koya mainly live in West Godavari and East Godavari districts, while in Odisha they live almost exclusively and are the dominant tribe in Malkangiri district in the far southwest of the state. in Chhattisgarh they live in the far-southern Bastar region, mainly in the districts of Sukma and Bijapur.[5] The Koya in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had a population of 590,739 according to the 2011 census. However, many became residents of Andhra Pradesh when their lands became part of Andhra Pradesh during the Polavaram project. There are another 147,137 Koya in Odisha, and approximately 46,978 Dorla (who are a mixed group in-between Gondi and Koya) in Chhattisgarh.[6]

According to Edgar Thurston, the Koya were formerly armed soldiers in the service of the various palegars in the region, and the time of his writing, practiced podu cultivation. Today the Koya are mainly settled cultivators and artisans, expertise in making bamboo furniture including mats for fencing, dust pans, and baskets. They grow Jowar, Ragi, Bajra and other millets. Tubers and roots such as Tella Chenna Gadda, Kirismatilu and edible green leaves such as Chencheli, Doggali, Gumuru, bacchalakura, gongura, pacchakura, pullakusiru, Thota kura, Boddukura are dietary staples as are curries made from some of these ingredients.[2]

Koya village deity from Malkangiri district at the Odisha state tribal fair, Bhubaneshwar

Koya practice marriage after maturity, and infant marriage is not practiced. The bride's maternal uncle has the deciding factor in the match, and cross-cousin marriages are permitted and common. Usually a wealthy groom will have no issues in finding a bride, but if they are poor enough, they can bribe the village headman to allow them to capture the bride. In the most simple Koya wedding ceremony, the bride bends her head and the groom leans over her, while water is poured on the husband's head by friends. Once the water has drained off the bride's head, they are said to be man and wife. They then drink milk, eat rice, and walk around a mound of earth organised under a pandal. They then get elders' blessings and go to their new home.[7]


The tribal community faces the new threats of development and conflicts, posing a serious questions on its existence and civilization. For instance, the displacement and migration of Gotti koyas tribals taking place in Andhra Pradesh. In the absence of land and access to a forest, the Koyas depend on wage labour in farm lands. The scarcity of these jobs lead to malnutrition of children and instances of anemia in women.[8] The Andhra Pradesh state government proposed Polavaram Project is posing a serious threat of displacement of 170,275 Koyas of the tribal population and more than 276 villages in the Khammam district of Bhadrachalam, Palwancha divisions.[9][10]


  1. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA(SCHEDULED TRIBES)ORDER, 1950(C.O. 22)". Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Portal of Tribal welfare Department, Govt of AP". Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Language and culture". Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  4. ^ "State/Union Territory-wise list of Scheduled Tribes in India" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Brief Ethnographic Profile of Tribes of Andhra Pradesh". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  6. ^ "THE SCHEDULED TRIBES Census of India 2001" (PDF).
  7. ^ "The Castes and Tribes of Southern India 1". Nature. 84 (2134): 365–367. September 1910. Bibcode:1910Natur..84..365.. doi:10.1038/084365a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  8. ^ "Severe malnutrition among migrant Gotti Koya children". The Hindu. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Tribal villages face threat of submersion". The New Indian Express. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Stop Acquisition of Tribal Land for the Construction of Polavaram Dam, INDIA". Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.

External linksEdit