Dora Koya in India

The Dora Koya have only been reported in India
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Introduction / History

The Koya language, also called Koyi, is closely related to Gondi and has been strongly influenced by Telugu, the tongue of the neighboring Hindu population. The Koya are one of the few multi-racial and multi-lingual tribal communities in India. Most Koya speak either Gondi or Telugu, in addition to Koyi.

Since India's independence from the British in 1947, the Indian government has increased its influence over the Koya peoples. As a result, the Koya have rebelled numerous times. The Koya resent the restrictions that have been placed on their use of reserve forests and distillation of liquor. They also resent the hydroelectric projects and rehabilitation of refugees in their land.

Where Are they Located?

The Koya live in the forests, plains and valleys on both sides of the Godavari River, which lies in the central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Many also live in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. The Koya are said to have migrated to central India from their original home in Bastar, northern India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Dora Koya are primarily farmers. They once shifted from one plot to another, farming various areas. However, the government has now restricted their movement and has encouraged them to farm on fixed plots. They showed the Koya how to farm coconut and coffee. They also granted the Koya permanent ownership rights to their land if they would grow rice there. In the hill regions occupied by the Koya, there are still no permanent farms. They grow crops in small clearings for only two or three years. Rice and tobacco are the main cash crops for those in the hill regions.

Their staple food is sorghum, but they have a strong affinity for palm juice. The Dora Koyas consider the palm tree as a gift of nature, and every family owns at least four to eight of them. During the four-month palm season, Koya families live almost entirely on palm juice.

Because their income from farming is very low, many of the Koya who do not own land work as hired farm laborers. Others weave bamboo baskets and sell them at the weekly markets to Hindu merchants. They also are excellent hunters. Good hunters are regarded as heroes. Hunting is valuable to provide food and protection from wild animals. Many still use bow and arrows for hunting and to attack their enemies. Koya gather forest produce to supplement the vegetables grown in their home gardens. Cattle are symbols of wealth, and they are kept for their dairy products, meat, fertilizer, and trade. They are also used in religious sacrifices.

The Dora Koya usually live in villages. Occasionally, they can be found living with other tribal and non-tribal peoples. Koya villages are located near dependable water sources. The larger villages are situated near the rivers while the smaller ones can be found in the hills and jungles. Their wood, thatch, and mud houses are built without windows. They usually have two rooms and a porch around the outside.

All Koya belong to one of five sub-divisions called gotrams. Every Koya is born into a clan, and he cannot leave it. Birth, marriage and death are three important celebrations in Koya villages. The family group is called the kutum. Sons usually live separately from the family, but still work the farm with their parents and brothers. They practice monogamy. Most marriages among adolescents are arranged by the parents with the consent of the girl. Marriage ceremonies last for three days in the summer when palm juice is plentiful. They involve both the bride and groom's villages.

What Are Their Beliefs?

According to Dora Koya mythology, life originated from water. The Dora Koya practice their own ethnic religion, but also worship a number of Hindu gods and goddesses. Many Koya deities are female, the most important being the "mother earth." Village priests carry out their sacrifices. They believe their main deity still resides in a cave in the Bastar region.

The Dora Koya do not believe in heaven, hell, or reincarnation. When a person dies, his body is carried on a cot which is covered with grain, liquor, new clothes, money, and a cow's tail. At the appropriate place, the cot is faced towards the West, and the body is burned. They place the ashes in a clay pot. The Koya believe that their spirits either linger about the clay ancestor pot, patrol the sky over the village or wander about the village disturbing daily life.

What Are Their Needs?

Cholera, smallpox, and malaria are big problems for the Dora Koya. They need quality medical care as well as health and hygiene education.

Prayer Points

Pray for Dora Koya families of believers loving and serving others to grow reproducing churches.
Pray for a chain reaction of Dora Koya families reaching families that results in thousands of new believers who share their faith with others.
Pray for grace and truth expanding into the entire Dora Koya society as all believers learn to love others.
Pray that churches and believers will bless their entire people group in such a way that God's love will change the Dora Koya people like yeast changes dough.

Scripture Prayers for the Koya Dora in India.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Koya Dora
People Name in Country Koya Dora
Natural Name Dora Koya
Alternate Names Dora; Koitur; कोया डोरा
Population this Country 37,000
Population all Countries 37,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 21165
ROP3 Code 117988
ROP25 Code 304259
ROP25 Name Koya
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 3
Largest States
Andhra Pradesh
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 11  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 3
  Telangana 25,000
  Andhra Pradesh 7,800
  Chhattisgarh 3,400
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.80 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
98.92 %
0.09 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.19 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Koya (15,000 speakers)
Language Code kff   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 5
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Koya (15,000 speakers)
Language Code kff   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 5
Secondary Languages
  Telugu 14,000
  Kuvi 2,100
  Chhattisgarhi 600
  Hindi 200
People Groups Speaking Koya
Photo Source Srikanth4sravya - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Keith Carey 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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