Sankethi people

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Sankethi people
Regions with significant populations
Sankethi language
Related ethnic groups
Tamil people

The Sankethi people are a South Indian community located in Karnataka, India, mostly in villages in the south of the state. They speak a Dravidian language known as Sankethi, which is related to Tamil and Kannada,[1] their traditional occupation is agriculture, engaging in the cultivation of crops such as areca nuts (also known as betel nuts), palm nuts, tobacco, bananas, and coconuts. The community has traditionally adhered to Advaita Vedanta and maintains the ancient practice of avadhanam, as well as having a long tradition in Carnatic classical music.

The two largest Sankethi groups initially settled predominantly in Kaushika near Hassan, Karnataka and Bettadapura, Mysore district, and even in the periyapatna taluk [mysore district] becoming the Kaushika and the Bettadapura communities, respectively.[2]


Sankethis venerate a woman known as Nacharu, respectfully called Nacharamma; the appended -amma marks her status as the figurative mother of the Sankethi people, who lead them out of Sengottai after mistreatment at the hands of the local Brahmin orthodoxy. Certain details of the story vary, such as her caste, as some accounts say that she was Brahmin herself or the wife of a Brahmin man. M. Keshavaiah's account states that this is according to telling of the story by the residents of Alwarkurchi, though they are not Sankethi.[3] Several tellings of the story exist within Sankethi community, as such the exact details are difficult to ascertain. Whatever the case, Nacharamma and her family were outcasts of their community due to their poverty and lack of education; as a result, this resulted in their exclusion from society.[citation needed]

Migration and other history[edit]

According to Dr. B.S. Pranatartiharan, a researcher in Sankethi studies and writer, the first wave of migration of Sankethis was in 1087 CE and was prompted by the Nacharamma episode.[4][5] There is evidence, according to an inscription preserved in a museum in Shimoga, that the Sankethi community received a land grant from the king of Vijayanagara in 1524 from Krishnadevaraya in recognition of Vedic scholarship.[6]

A schism emerged in the early 20th century as many Indians began to go to Britain in pursuit of higher studies; the more conservative members of the community were strongly against their sons leaving India for study, citing prohibitions against Brahmins traveling by sea. A man known as B. K. Narayana Rao sought to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, and ignored the elders' objections,[7] he opened doors for Indian medical postgraduates to study in Europe, and also modernized Indian eye care in Mysore.[8]


Sankethi cuisine is not especially distinctive from other southern Karnataka cuisine, though there exists a definite influence from Tamil Nadu and Kerala cuisines. For example, shavige, a popular Sankethi dish is highly similar to idiyappam from Kerala, but is often flavored like sevai from Tamil Nadu. Sankethis by and large are vegetarians, so their cuisine consists entirely of vegetarian dishes. There is also avial and kutu, two other popular dishes in the Sankethi community, which are also found in Tamil cuisines. Due to their migratory history, influences from all over South India are evident.


  1. ^ Nagaraja, K.S (1982). "Tense in Sanketi Tamila Comparative Note". Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute. 41: 126–129. JSTOR 42931419.
  2. ^ Chatterjee, Rajeswari (2003). Lifescapes of India: Religions, Customs, and Laws of India (PDF). Frandsen Humanities Press. p. 45. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  3. ^ Keshavaiah, M. (1936). Life of Nacharamma (The History of Her Migration). Sree Panchacharya Electric Press. p. 19.
  4. ^ Pranatarthiharan, B.S. (2010). ಸಂಕೇತಿ: ಒಂದು ಅಧ್ಯಯನ (Sankethi: A Study). Samudaya Adhyayana Kendra.
  5. ^ Ramachandran, C. N. (16 June 2011). "Trailing a tiny bunch". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  6. ^ Viswanathan, Trichur S. (4 April 2013). "Tale of two villages". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  7. ^ "NASA - Fostering the global Sankethi community". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Mysore's visionaries". Deccan Herald. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

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