Sunday, June 15, 2014

Gowli Tribe: The Cattle Herders of Dandeli

Dandeli in North West Karnataka is home to many unique cultures. In my earlier posts, I spoke about Lambani (the nomadic gypsies), Medar (the Bamboo craftsman) and Siddi (the African tribe). Here, I would like to talk about the Gowli tribe, the people who used to and still supply milk and milk products to this part of the country.

Elderly Gentleman from Dandeli's Gowli Tribe
This gowli tribe, who have been herding cattle for generations belong to the Yadav community of North India. The Gowlis of Karnataka are said to be closely related to the Gowlis of Maharashtra and Goa. They are Hindus who believe a lot in Lord Krishna and Goddess Durga.

Elderly Gowli Tribe Woman near Dandeli, Karnataka
While traditionally, they used to herd cattle and sell milk and milk related products (like ghee or clarified butter, paneer or cottage cheese, yoghurt, etc.), these days only a small part of community continue to herd cattle. The newer generation are more into construction labor, government jobs and business.

Gouli Community man selling milk at Dandeli, Karnataka
This community who live outside Dandeli have been following their own traditions and try as much as possible to keep their gene pool undiluted. They celebrate major Hindu festivals like Diwali, Holi and Janmastami.

Gowli man with his cattle at a village near Dandeli
Even though education levels have been improving across the members of this community, a lot of the community finds it difficult to manage 2 square meals a day and even if they do get proper food, they struggle for healthcare and other basic needs.

Gowli family from a village near Dandeli, Karnataka
If you plan on a holiday to Dandeli or thereabouts, do try and see if you can spend some time interacting with them. The Gowlis are extremely nice people and open up to most tourists.

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