The Karavas also known as Karawe, Kaurava Kshatriya , Kurukula, Kurukulam, etc. were the traditional warrior caste of Sri Lanka.
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. 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.
All ancient Sinhala literature and rock inscriptions of Sri Lanka, state the Sri Lankan caste classification as follows:
1. Raja - Royals, nobles & warriors
2. Bamunu - Brahmins
3. Velanda - Traders
4. Govi - food producers and workers
As such the Royal warrior caste was the highest and the Govi caste was the lowest in the historical Sri Lankan caste structure.
That had been the local adaptation of the following Indian terms and labels:
1. Kshatriya - Royals, nobles, warriors, land owners
2. Brahmina - priests
3. Vaisya - Traders, land owners
4. Sudra - food producers and workers
As the Karavas are a traditional warrior (Kshatriya royal) caste it ranks highest in the traditional case hierarchy. Its leaders were the kings of Sri Lanka after the medieval period. See timeline of kings
The Karavas were the traditional warrior caste of Sri Lanka. True to their traditional claims of such ancestry, the Karavas are the only Sri Lankan community to bear ancestral names ( see family names ) that signify a warrior heritage, possess an array of ancient battle flags ( see Karava flags ) and use swords, tridents and other ancient royal symbols and flags (see royal insignia) at family ceremonies. Their inherent martial demeanor and fearless qualities also corroborate their claim.
No. That is a British period invention. It was initially instigated by a small group of ambitious colonial servants who created a new caste identity called 'Govigama'. As this group grew by assimilating other upstarts, they too used their official positions to reinforce this label. When the British left the island in the 1940s after transferring political power to the Govigama caste, successive governments propagated this theory at public expense. See Govi supremacy myth.
The traditional fishermen of Sri Lanka were the Kevulas (see Govigama )and the names of their villages still survive as Kevulgam (now being changed or altered as Kivul Gedera etc). As the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka and their population centers were situated inland, all these Kevul Gam (fishing villages) are also situated in the interior of the country and near the reservoirs used for cultivation..
True to their traditional claims of royal ancestry, the Karavas are the only Sri Lankan community to have origin traditions of such nature, bear ancestral names ( see family names ) that signify a warrior heritage and royal ancestry, possess an array of ancient flags ( see Karava flags ) and use ancient royal symbols and flags (see royal insignia) at family ceremonies. Their inherent martial demeanor and fearless qualities also corroborate their claim.
Just like all other Sri Lankn communities, they too have come to Sri Lanka in different waves of migrations. See Migrations from India for some of the historically documented migrations of Karavas
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka