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Halaki vegetable vendors

The Aborigin village: Dhevarna, Karnataka

Along the western cost of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka, hidden between the Arabian Sea on one side and the forest covered hills on the other lies the small tribal village of Dhevarna. This village of Dhevarna is en route to the pilgrim town of Gokarna and hence access to this village is easy.

The nearest railway station is Gokarna Road which is about 12km away, only a few trains stop at this railway station. Kumta is the next closest railway station with all major trains halting at here. Kumta is 34 km away from Dhevarna village. From the respective railway stations, the best and most affordable way to get to the village is by boarding a KSRTC bus.

Gokarna town

The people from the village of Dhevarna belong to the Halakkai tribe. The Halakkais are supposed to be the aboriginal people of Karnataka. This fact also makes them the original landowners but this is sadly not a fact anymore.


Devanna village

The village of Dhevarna is very poor with most of the Halakkai people earning their living by working as shift daily wage labourers, working in paddy fields run by their landlords. A few of the men are into finishing. It is a common sight to see the elderly Halakkai women carrying a head load of fire wood.

The Halakki women can also be spotted by the entrance of the Mahableshwar Temple in Gokarna selling flowers and other puja offerings to eager tourists.

The attire of the Halakki’s in Dhevarna is still very much traditional for both the women and men. The women are dressed in bright coloured saris wrapped in a special way and are worn without a blouse leaving the back exposed. Their necks are adorned with numerous necklaces of black, yellow and blue beads, while glass and metal bangles adorn their hands.

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However widowed members do not wear the beaded necklaces. The women’s hair is well oiled and neatly combed back and rolled into a bun and decorated with flowers like that of the palm tree and jasmine. The traditional attire of men is simple and comprises of only a langoti which essentially is a loin-cloth.

The younger generation have adopted a western dressing style. Many of the children from this village can often be spotted taking a dip during the afternoon to beat the heat in the water near the salt pans which is just a kilometre away from the village.

The Halakki language is a dialect of the state language—Kannada and is known as ‘Halakki Kannada’. A typical Halakki home known as ‘Hullu mane’ in the local dialect comprises a thatched hut with mud walls. Their food is very basic and simple and comprises of rice, dal, vegetable and fish.

Another typical feature of a Halakki home is a small temple of the Lord Venkatesha built on the left side of the house. Lord Venkatesha is an important god for the Halakki people and is referred to as their Kula Devaru.

Suggi Habba is the biggest, grandest festival of the Halakkis and is celebrated with great pomp every year during the month of May. This festival is celebrated to ward away all kinds of evil and also for a good harvest.

The only issue one will have while visiting Dhervana village is the language barrier, no one in the village can speak or understand any other language except Kanadda. Since the Halakkis are tribal’s they are naturally very shy and if they feel threatened they will send their house dogs chasing threats.

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To avoid such a scenario it is advisable that one should take a local from the town of Gokarna to help with the translation. The Halakki’s of Dhevarna are still very much in rooted in their tribal culture and this is a village that has a very rich cultural heritage.

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