Karava (pronounced Karaava) also Karawa, Karawe, Karave, Kaurava, Kshatriya, Khatriya, Kuru, Kuru Kula, Kurukulam, Kurukulum, Kurukulather or Kurukulathar is the traditional military (warrior / Kshatriya / royal ) race, of Sri Lanka. The Karavas were one of the interconnected ruling dynasties of the Indian region. Royal succession in Sri Lanka passed on to Karava kings during the Polonnaruwa period. Karava king Gajabahu II (AD 1131 - 1153 ) was one of the greatest rulers of Sri Lanka, and the Kandy Perehera and other annual pageants of Sri Lanka that end with the water cutting ceremony commenced as pageants in honour of his invasion of south India . Fragmented kingdoms of Sri Lanka were thereafter ruled by Karava Kings and sub-kings until the last three kingdoms passed over from Karava royal families to Europeans; Kotte and Jaffna in the 16th century to the Portuguese and Kandy in the 19th century to the British (see Timeline of Kings)
True to their royal ancestry, the Karavas are the only Sri Lankan community to bear ancestral family names that signify royal ancestry, possess an array of ancient flags and use royal insignia at family ceremonies.
The fortunes of the Karava community has seen ups and downs over the centuries dependent on the fortunes of the leading Karava royal families and their victories, defeats and alliances with South Indian royal dynasties. European colonization ended all native dynasties and rulers of the region and was therefore disastrous for the Karavas as well as the Kshatriya Rajputs of India. (see Timeline of the Karava I) The post-independence period too has been particularly disastrous for the Karavas. Whatever lost wealth and power the Karavas had regained during the British period was taken away from the Karavas by Govigama dominated post-independence governments of Sri Lanka. (see Timeline of the Karava ) and Sri Lanka government sponsored propaganda during the 1900s has attempted to falsely portray the Karawas as the "Fisher caste" of Sri Lanka (see Govi supremacy myth)
The Karavas have migrated to Sri Lanka over several centuries, mostly from the ancient Kuru Mandalam (the kingdom of the Kuru's -now Coromandel) coast of South India as Kings, Princes, Naval Commanders, Mercenaries, Warriors, Soldiers and fighters. See Migration from India for a list of some of the known migrations.
Karavas are now a diverse community spanning the socio-economic spectrum and include speakers of Sinhala, Tamil and English and practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity.
The majority of the Karavas reside in the southern, western and northern districts of Sri Lanka. Since independence, many Karava professionals and former land owners have migrated to western countries and continue to do so.
Above: One of the many ancient flags of the Karavas
The Karava have their own unique story of origin from the Mahabharata Kauravas of the ancient Kuru Kingdom of India and many Karava clans trace this journey to Sri Lanka through the Coromandal (Kuru Mandalam) region of south-east India. See migration from India
Most other Sri Lankan Castes too have their own origin stories and there isn't a single caste group in Sri Lanka that can honestly claim a beastly origin from Sinhabahu or the lion of that story. See Lion myth
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka