“Bunta” means a powerful man, Bhata or soldier. Bunts, Nadavas are also known as Vokkelakulu of Tulunadu, is a fascinating and vibrant community, spilled all over the world now. They have firmly in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi , Kundapur and some parts of Kasargod etc.
Piecing together the available information it is believed that they had been helping the kings, as second in command enjoying the king’s trust and confidence by discharging their duties with devotion. Bunts, Naadavas” residing in the northern part of South Kanara extending from Baindoor to Chandragiri River,are a branch of Bunts’ community, who speak Kannada. In Kannada “Naadu” means village or root, sometimes it is mentioned as Plant. This indicates Nadavaru settling down with agriculture. As the kingdoms came to an end,the smaller kingdoms also became weak and lost their existence such as “moolas” of “bailugadi” ajilas of Venur,raja’s of Kumble,Tholahas of Sooral,Bhangas of bangadi Heggades of Nelyadi, Chautas of Puthige , bairarasa of Karkala, Marda heggade of Kava, Maramma Heggade of Yermal, they still remember the history of their ancestors. Due to the decline of kingdoms, Bunts lost their position and jobs, resulting in a fight for their survival. Fortunately, the land given to them by the kings in appreciation of their bravery ,selfless service and loyalty to kings came to their rescue. They diverted their spirit of fighting towards cultivation and became the landlords, there by improving their living standards. The Agriculture became their main occupation. Originally they did not cultivate the land given to them as gifts by kings or by themselves, but got it done by other communities. This shows their dominant characteristics. British recognized Bunts as one of the most handsome people in South-East Asia well built and well mannered.
In the earlier days all member of the family lived in one house under the patronage of the Yejman and Yejmanthi, including sisters and nephews and nieces, sometimes numbering in excess of hundred. Extensive land holding spread all over the region was leased out to tenants on a hereditary basis. Our ancestors were following this system for generations together and according to their custom the entire property vested with eldest member of the family, either male or female known as “Yajaman” or “Yajamanthi”.
This system of living in ancestral home under a joint family system governed by yajamana or yajamanthi is “Aliyasanthana” (Matriarchal) tradition.
Historical origin of Aliyasthana
The Aliyastana system came into practice and was followed by the Bunts’ community with the belief that it was an ancient practice. Bunts still believe that this tradition was inherited from a king Bhutala Pandya who ruled Tulunaadu and introduced this system – in 77 A.D. It is said that when the maternal uncle,king Deva Pandya of prince Bhutala Pandya wanted to launch his newly constructed ships with valuable cargo in them. The king of Demons Kundodara demanded a human sacrifice. The king Deva Pandya desperately asked his wife’s permission to offer one of his sons for sacrifice,but his wife refused and went away with her seven children.But his sister Satyavati offered her son Jaya Pandya for the sacrifice.The king of demons, Kundodara discovering the child’s sign of future greatness, waived the sacrifice and permitted ship to sail. He then took the child, restored to him his father’s kingdom of Jayantika and gave him the name Bhutala Pandya. When some of the ships brought immense wealth,the demon again appeared and demanded from Deva Pandya another sacrifice.
The king Deva Pandya again was frustrated and consulted his wife,she refused to comply with the request and publicly renounced her title and that of her children to valuable property brought in the ships. Then Kundodara demanded that Deva Pandya disinherit his sons of the wealth which had been brought in those ships and also of the kingdom and to bestow all on his sister’s son Bhutala Pandya.So Bhutala Pandya inherited his kingdom from his maternal uncle not from his father. And ruled for 75 years during 77 A.D.Then his nephew Vidyadyumna Pandya inherited the kingdom and ruled 81 years and like. The Aliyasantana/ Materiarchal gives property rights to the lady and all rights are centralized on her.
The Bunts community normally adopted Tulu and Kannada as their main languages.The Tulu language is considered to be one of the languages from the Dravidan family of languages.Dravidan languages consists of Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tulu. Tulu occupies the fifth position in Dravidan languages.
Today our bunts community spread across the world.. The traditional farmer status of the Bunt community has also transformed into a wide variety of different vocations. The Bunt diaspora has spread to areas outside Tulu nadu, especially to Bombay, Kuwait where they have made a name for themselves in hotel industry. The entrepreneur Bunts also excel in business and other service industries.