Sankethis – The Brahmins of Karnataka

Posted on December 21, 2006
Filed Under Hinduism, brahmin, sects | 9 Comments

The Sankethis are a brahmin sect that originate from Sengottai (literal translation: Red Fort) in Tamil Nadu.

Historically, they are known to have migrated to Karnataka from Sengottai sometime in the last 200-400 years. There is a very interesing legend as to how they came about:

Long ago, in a ‘Sabha’(Congregation of Brahmins), one Acharya made a mistake while reciting a Shloka. A lady in the audience pointed out the mistake. Male chauvinism being as old as manking itself, she was punished for her arrogance. The punishment meted out was that she had to prepare and serve food to the Brahmins while wearing a saree coated with chalkstone. Now chalkstone would make the saree slippery and difficult to hold in place. The resourceful lady conceived a new way of tying the saree which would be held in place with a knot. Nowadays this style of wearing the saree is called the “Gandi” style (from “Gath” which means knot, perhaps).

Later, the community split and several members moved to places in the Hassan, Mysore and Shimoga districts in Karnataka, where they have remained to date. Their Tamil has since been corrupted, and is sometimes irrecognizable in itself. Some even go so far as to say they might be from the Trichur district of Kerala, which might have acted as a stopover on the way to Karnataka via Coorg. and are two websites where you can learn more about them.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done when it comes to tracing the migratory paths of communities in India. Little or no historically verified information is available regarding the origins and family trees of many sub-sects. With the slow but progressing dispersion of people from their homelands, the challenge seems all the more steeper.