Kuruba is one of the oldest existing communities of India, tracing its history back to prehistoric times. Before the Tamil Sangam, South India was inhabited by megalith-builders. These were a pastoral people who lived in caves and in the wilderness. They made weapons of stone & metal and pottery. These people built dolmes and cromlechs for their noble dead. Kurubas are believed to have descended from these people. People of Kuruba have long practised a variety of professions such as shepherds and farmers.
Kuruba people and their communities traditionally were shepherds and blanket weavers from centuries. They maintained this profession and tradition even as they migrated to different parts of India. The elders of Kuruba community did not seek education for their younger generation and also did not heed to the need for a united Kuruba stronghold as these were spread out throughout India in need of making their daily livelihood. Importantly, the prior ruling dynasty members and representatives did not contribute to the upliftment of the Kuruba people and its communities; instead they concentrated on their individual development by trying to influence people and communities holding higher power and positions at that period of time. Moreover, the Kuruba professionals during the Vijayanagara rule did not contribute individually in terms of knowledge transfer in the fields of science, technology, politics, economics, etc so that their contribution to the society and motherland could have been written in history and appreciated in future for the overall Kuruba unity, growth and development. Therefore, the Kuruba community, which upheld their tradition, profession and religion with pride, spread to various parts of India and started to become a part of various other traditions, culture and languages.
Kurubas are Hindus who follow the Halumatha tradition, referred to as Palamatha in some parts of India, the religion of the Palakas. They are primarily shaivite and worship the various forms of Lord Shiva such as Revanasiddeshwara, Beeralingeshwara, Mailaralingeshwara, Siddarameshwara etc. Generally, priests in Beeralingeshwara and Mailaralingeshwara temples are also Kurubas.
Kurubas are of two major divisions: the larger one is the Kannada-speaking pastoral caste of Western Karnataka, while the other is the Kurumba language speaking tribe of Nilgiris and surrounding parts. Kurubas traditionally and religiously have a ritual of wearing ‘Kankana’ (a form of bracelet). This is further divided into two forms know as Hatthikankana and Unnekankana. The Kurubas wear the Kankana, with pride, as they believe that by wearing them it would give them the power and determination to do good and contribute significantly to the over all growth and development of the society.