Our Customs and Culture

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About Koli Samaj

The Koli Samaj(society) is about 30 % of the general population of Gujarat state and 30% among Hindu population of Gujarat numbering around 13 millions. The number is based oncensus taken in 1931 which is the last time caste based enumeration was taken in India. According to sociolists (e.g. Lancy Lobo, Achyut Yagnik) percentage of Koli population has remained same. The Koli Samaj is spread throughout Indian subcontinent.

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Koli Communities

The Koli community is found throughout India. Kolis are found in Maharashtra, Gujrat, AndhraPradesh and rest of India. In Maharashtra they are found in the coastal regions of Maharashtra. They are also one of the original inhabitants of Mumbai, then known as Bombay islands.

In Maharashtra the Kolis almost exclusively speak Marathi language, though some Koli communities speak a variant dialect of Marathi. The Kolis of Mumbai are dispersed all over the city, especially along the western coast of the city. The Kolis of Vasai are Hindu and Christian, though both belong to the Marathi ethnic group. The community has several subcastes , the prominent ones are Koli kolis, Mangela Kolis, Vaity kolis, Christian Kolis, Mahadeo kolis, Suryawanshi kolis.

The name is possibly derived from the Marathi word “Koli”, which means a spider (one who spins a web – in Marathi that translates to ‘one who weaves a net’, and hence the fisherman, who weaves the net, is also called a Koli).

In 1901 the number of Kolis in all India was returned as nearly 3.75 million, but this total includes a distinct weaving caste of Kolis or Koris in northern India.

The estimate of Koli population in Gujarat is based on 1931 enumeration which is the last time caste based enumeration was taken in India. more….