Kammas: Types of Kammas and sub-sects – 1: Pedda Kammas and Chinna Kammas

If Kammas of this generation are posed a question, “Do you have any knowledge about types of Kammas”, almost 100% of the respondents may draw a blank face.

Some of them might heard of general division i.e. ‘pedda kammas’ and ‘chinna kammas’. However majority of them are not aware how a ‘kamma’ can be ascertained as a ‘pedda’ or ‘chinna’ kamma. This generation has limited cognizance on history of Kammas, their rituals, divisions among them, traditions and genealogy. Even the elders, except a few, don’t evince any interest in discussing and passing on the knowledge to the next generations.

Though Kammas constitute a very small portion of total population in the states they reside, both today, as well in history, the entire community was not identical or homogenous. Kammas, chiefly cultivators since the moment their record was available, were composed of multiple sub-sects. Such division was based on multiple factors including social customs, economic position, work habits, marriage rituals, traditions, way of living et al. Also the division varied from region to region. Literatures available on Kammas say that there were 36 sub-sects in total. This article explores the sub-sects in Kamma community and basis of such segmentation. Also there was no uniformity in the geographical spread of these sub-sects. A sub-sect may be predominant in a district but the same sub-sect was sparsely seen in the adjoining district. Let us understand each sub-sect within the confines of information available. Each sect would be presented in purview of its history, rituals, and social traditions in the later articles.

Segmentation based on ‘economic status’

Zamindari Kammas: The word ‘Zamindar’ picked up from Persian language literally means land-owner, who owns vast tracts of land and huge control over farming community in their territories. Some of the Zamindari clans in Kammas include Dommeru Zamindars and Annavarapupet Zamindars from West Godavari district; Yarlagadda Clan of Challapalli and Vasireddy clan of Mukthyala from Krishna district; Balusu clan of Kapileswarapuram; Vasireddy clan of Chintapalli/Amaravati; Manne clan of Kodamanchili; Bollineni/Bollini clan of Melkalathuru, Pemmasani Clans of Naickerpatti and Kurivikulam Estates, Ravella clan of Ilavarasanandanal Estate from Tamilnadu.

Pedda Kammas: After Zamindari Kammas, Pedda Kammas comes next in the hierarchy. Though they were not equivalent to Zamindaris in economic status, they follow the same social traditions and rituals, which Zamindari Kammas follow. In the past Pedda Kammas confined marriages among themselves and they don’t have the ritual to share relationships with Chinna Kammas. Nevertheless, there is no such disparity today. Pedda Kammas were used to worship swords till the point British entered India. Most of the Pedda Kammas belong to Gandikota area and majority of them migrated to Tamilnadu. Statistics say that there are between 7 Lakhs – 8 Lakhs Pedda Kammas in Tamilnadu today.

Chinna Kammas: Those Kammas who lived as peasants and cultivators by either owning small pockets of land or cultivating others lands after taking them for lease. This section of Kammas was not very comfortable in terms of wealth and economic status. Most of the families either belonged to middle class or below middle class. However, as the time progressed this particular sub-sect focused on education enabling their children to carve out better careers both in employment and entrepreneurship.

In the next article we shall review the sub-sects in Kammas formed on the plank of lifestyle and social rituals.

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