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The Kodavas are a patrilineal ethno-lingual group from the region of Kodagu who natively speak the Kodava language. Traditionally they were land-owning agriculturists with martial traditions. By religion most of them are of the Hindu community. The Kodava Hindus are a non-Brahminical sect who believe more in reverence towards nature and their ancestors then in the strict following of the Vedic Hindu principles. Kodavas were called Kshatriyas based on their legendary descent, the rights they held to carry arms from the ancient times and their military traditions. They practice family exogamy and caste endogamy.

Kodavas have distinctive dresses, the men wearing wraparound robes called the Kupya (now only seen at ceremonial occasions), and the women with a distinctive style of wearing the sari. The Kodava woman wears a sari with the pleats at the back and the loose end pinned at the right shoulder. They have many distinctive practices such as carrying ceremonial knives, and martial war dances.