Kota - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The Kotas are socially differentiated by families, clans (or ke-rs), and villages. The precise manner in which these differentiations are articulated varies from Village to village. Certain families and/or clans share particular ceremonial responsibilities while others may or may not play particular ritual roles. Oral history indicates the nature of these responsibilities, and the assignment of ritual roles also varies with time. The Kotas do not perceive their community as divided by anything like Hindu castes (jati), so although social differentiation exists there is no formal hierarchy. Ritual responsibilities are not necessarily seen as a form of social power. Little formal differentiation exists at the village level, though each village has what might be called a "reputation," which may have social ramifications when villagers meet. For example, Ticga-r is famous for women's song and dance, the "dry" funeral is famous in Me-na-r, and the Kamatra-ya festival and instrumental music are famous in Kolme-l.

Political Organization. Each village is led by a headman or treasurer called gotga-rn; in Me-na-r there is also a gotga-rn for all the seven villages. Whenever a dispute arises the gotga-rn calls a meeting (ku-) and adjudicates. Within a village the gotga-rn and elders decide when festivals are to be held and how to solve problems in the community.

Social Control. Justice is meted out within the larger Indian judicial system, but local decisions—especially those relating to the enforcement of Kota cultural dictates—are handled by the village ku-t.

Conflict. There is no solid evidence of warfare in the Nilgiris involving the Kotas and other tribes. They claim, however, that the ritual drum, e-rtabatk, was originally used in battle.


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