Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Mangaluru :

    The controversy surrounding naming of Light House Hill Road took a historical turn with Sullia Amara Kranti Utsava Samiti too laying their claim to name the road. Turning back pages of history to shed light on role played by Vokkaliga community prior to India’s first War of Independence, the Samiti demanded that the road be named Bavuta Gudde Road and the hillock which also has St Aloysius College continue to be referred to as Bavuta Gudde.

    Gopal Peraje, convener of the Samiti said the 1837 revolt against the British, a good two-decades before the first War of Independence of 1857 was the offshoot of dethroning of the Kodava ruler in 1834 by imperial rulers. The revolt engulfed Kodagu, Sampaje, Sullia, Bellare, Puttur, Kumble, Manjeshwar and even Mangaluru which saw thousands of people rally round the leadership of Ramayya Gowda of Kedambadi. Ramayya was ably assisted by many leaders, he said.

    The dethroning of the Kodava ruler and change in taxation system from material to monetary terms were the main reasons for sparking the revolt, he said. The rebels that marched from Kedambadi took control of government treasuries in Sullia, Bellare, Puttur and Kumble and also went on to wrest control of Mangaluru from the British, he said. The rebels lowered the British flag that was erected on Bavuta Gudde and hoisted the flag of Haleri dynasty of Kodagu there.

    Noting that the rebels wilted under the East India Company’s counter-offensive and many rebels were captured and prominent leaders hanged in public at Bikarnakatte and another leader publicly hanged in Madikeri Fort, Gopal said the rebels ruled Mangaluru for 13-days from April 5, 1837. The Mangaluru City Corporation and state government must take this historic fact in to account and name the road as Bavuta Gudde Road to commemorate this freedom struggle, he noted.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Mangalore News / by Jaideep Shenoy, TNN / July 25th, 2017

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    CariappaMusicWingKF11jul2017

    by Nandu Andhare,

    The Cariappa Music Wing at Army Education Corp (AEC) Pachmarhi provides sheer delight, especially to one who loves and savours music, be it Western or Indian. Instrumental music emanating from the shining Brass saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, followed by the heart-beating drumming by the trainee drummers is something revering.

    The scribes visiting the Cariappa Music Wing took a melody out of the hills in their hearts. The visit was arranged by Defence PRO Wg Cdr Samir Gangakhedkar.

    Amid scenic beauty of Pachmarhi hills, the musicians were busy preparing for the farewell programme of the Station Commander.

    The sight was totally mesmerising. Seated in a semicircle under a 240-year-old huge Banyan tree, about 35 musicians, comprising of buglers, trumpeters, saxophonists, vocalists, drummers, repianists, flutiests and guitarists were waiting in anticipation. After the guests took their seats, the veil of suspense was lifted and out flew lilting tunes in perfect synchrony and harmony, enveloping the entire densely-wooded region with heavenly music.

    It was Field Marshal KM Cariappa’s idea to introduce music in military to instill patriotic feeling among personnel and help in bringing in uniformity, imbibing one-nation feeling. It was also his idea to shift the erstwhile location of the Military Music Wing at Belgaum to Pachmarhi.

    The Music wing offers three-year course in Martial Music to potential bandmasters. The school has experienced faculty from civil and military to train the new entrants in various instruments and even vocal. Hindustani classical music is also taught to the soldiers, who learn to play tabla, dholak, harmonium, jaltarang and various ragas based on which are some of the very popular Martial tunes and regimental songs, which when played with harmony can bring goose-bumps. Chests of soldiers and officers swell with pride when the band plays the signature song of the regiment. They may not have professional voices, but the voice of the vocalist exhibits raw patriotism, zeal and the strong will power to complete the task on hand fearlessly.

    The Music wing has a Shantiniketan Band Stand, enveloped under a 240-year-old Banyan tree, where the band practises in complete harmony with nature. Besides there are the Beethoven, Mozart, Tansen and Swami Haridas Training sheds. The Cariappa Music Wing of the AEC is on the lines of theworld famous Kimberly Hall of the UK, where trainees ranging from a Sepoy to Subhedar can pursue a course. Musicians from all the three wings of defence services are trained at the Cariappa Music Wing.

    It has a huge, impressive and up-to-date music library along with a section that displays an assortment of musical instruments, percussion items, with photographs of ceremonial presentations. The library has a good collection of Desh Ke Gaane, Tunes of Valsar, History of Music, Biography, Music Dictionary, Martial Music of Indian Army, Martial Bands and Music of the Indian Army. The Music school teaches Jazz, Pipe and Brass Band. Military music taught at the school is at par with international standards.

    For the visiting scribes, the musicians played the famous ‘Donau Wallen Waves of Danube Waltz’ which was simply haunting. This was followed by ‘Silver Sobre’, ‘Mack and Mack’, ‘Raga Bhupali’ on Jaltarang, and Vibraphon and Xylophone ‘In a Persian Market’. Devotional songs like ‘Deh Shiva’, an entity of Guru Gobind Singh, was also played much to the delight of the visitors.

    Another impressive part of the visit was the Protools Software or recording available at the state-of-the-art recording studio of the music school, where vocal recordings are made separately and then mixed with the rhythm of instrumentalists.

    The AEC Military Music Wing has also got its name in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records for having performed at Vijay Chowk Delhi in which 4,459 musicians played under One Band Master during the Asiad games.

    As one left the arena of the lilting music, one could see, bandmasters practicing with their mace, wand, drummers letting loose a volley of beats while practicing ‘Beating of the Retreat’.

    Bagpipers were practicing patriotic songs, trumpeters letting off the haunting bugle call of the Last Post. At various points, the sound echoed down the Satpura hills of Pachmarhi.

    source: http://www.thehitavada.com / The Hitavada / Home / by Nandu Andhare / July 06th, 2017

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    The Travancore wolf snake sprawled near the bathroom mirror of the author’s room / Photo by Medha Saxena

    The Travancore wolf snake sprawled near the bathroom mirror of the author’s room /
    Photo by Medha Saxena

    Homestays in Coorg offer visitors a glimpse of a unique eco-system. Coorg or Kodagu is part of the Western Ghats that have been declared a world heritage site. It has many plantations that host hundreds of threatened species

    It had beautiful dark coffee-brown scales with yellowish stripes and a sinuous slender body stretching no more than two feet.

    The languid Tranvancore Wolf snake lay sprawled on the bathroom mirror. It had sneaked in to avoid the gentle night precipitation and was basking in the steam left behind by the hot water running earlier. It was hard to miss once the solar light was flicked on.

    Gradually, it coiled back and slithered to a safer, darker corner behind the mirror. I was not sure at the time if it was venomous since it resembles the common Krait and is often targeted for the same reason. Suffice to say that I lay awake for most part of the night, wondering whether my nocturnal guest would like to take a peek at the room as well.

    This was my penultimate night at the Rainforest Ecolodge on Mojo Plantation nestled at 1100-m altitude in Kodagu, Karnataka. The monsoon in a rainforest comes with its own delights and surprises. Leeches are a case in point. They crave to attach themselves to any warm body passing by to satisfy their desire for blood. But their presence also indicates a fertile soil and ecosystem. They are both the predator and the prey.

    Beautiful butterflies found in plenty during monsoon in the rain forests of the Western Ghats /   Photo by Medha Saxena

    Beautiful butterflies found in plenty during monsoon in the rain forests of the Western Ghats / Photo by Medha Saxena

    Then there are the frogs, toads, spiders, wasps, dragon flies, lizards, snakes and birds. Their tribe multiplies and diversifies with every shower of water it seems. And the heavens provide them plenty of those here. But they only proliferate in undisturbed habitats. Each one of the creatures that call the rainforest home have adapted themselves to it over the millennia.

    Each adaptation and evolution is a fascinating revelation. Weaver ants are a marvellous example. Thousands of them coordinate with each other to stitch together nests out of leaves much bigger than themselves.

    Trees themselves appear like curated art installations climbing vertically and horizontally. They are draped with vines, creepers, fungi, moss, lichen, orchids and a variety of other epiphytes that resemble emeralds and jewels on a bride. They glisten and shine best on bright wet mornings.

    Twinkling fireflies circle the trunks during nightfall. The valley was covered with a million of these mating fireflies a month or so earlier in a perfect ‘symphony in light’ as the student-interns Meghna and Lily, working at the plantation recounted.

    Being in a rainforest during monsoon is also a musical extravaganza. Its inhabitants are engaged in a synchronised performance at all hours of the day. Louder than revellers in a marriage procession the frogs and cicadas often accompany the sound of rain, streams and wind. The cacophony is coupled with serenity in equal measure. If you listen hard enough everything in the forest sings. But how many of us really listen?

    Geography and Bio-Diversity

    Kodagu is part of the wide-ranging Western Ghats, older than Himalayas, spanning from Gujarat to Kerala for 1600 kms. It directly intercepts the Indian monsoon winds. One of the eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biodiversity, it has 325 globally threatened species (flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish) and many that are unique to this area.

    The lush green forests also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming /   Photo by Medha Saxena

    The lush green forests also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming / Photo by Medha Saxena

    This mosaic of natural beauty was inscribed as a world heritage site in 2012 meant to be protected by the Western Ghats Natural Heritage Management Committee (WGNHMC) and receive international support.

    The tag was achieved after much opposition by states that feared that development will be impeded. Critics said that an informed consent was not obtained from the gram sabhas and Forest Rights Act 2006 was not implemented properly during drafting of the proposal for grant of heritage status. It could also violate the historic customary rights of the adivasis.

    The forests of Western Ghats, however, aid economy and transportation by keeping the ports and creeks along western coast silt-free. The forests and mangroves also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming.

    Other critics say that the declaration has no effect on damaging developmental activities. As recently as June 2, 2017, there were protests in Madikeri over destruction of wildlife habitat, Cauvery river catchment area and forest land for the construction of railways, highways and power lines. As more of the landscape is disturbed there is more human-elephant conflict. Illegal construction, mining and corruption have caused water scarcity during summer months in an area that is generally overfed by rains.

    The ensuing struggles repeatedly point us back towards essential questions of what is development. Who is it meant for? Who do the forests belong to? And how are decisions to be taken in the interest of all parties concerned?

    Organic Farming

    In ancient times the exotic products of the Kodagu region were traded along the Silk Route and on oceanic routes via the Arabian Sea. Cardamom and black pepper were indigenous to this region. Rice was the main crop. Coffee was brought from Yemen to Chikmagalur in India by Baba Budanin in 1670.

    Legend has it that the Coorg Rajas may have given land to Moplahs near Nalkanad who introduced coffee seeds to the area. In the mid-1850s many European coffee plantations sprung up followed by private Indian ones. When the British left, they sold their lands to the local population. There are strong remnants of British culture here, like the North Coorg Planters Club dating back to 1883.

    A walk through the greens gives an idea of the rich biodiversity of the region /  Photo by Medha Saxena

    A walk through the greens gives an idea of the rich biodiversity of the region / Photo by Medha Saxena

    Now a good chunk of the land is covered in coffee, tea, rubber and palm oil plantations. Commercial chemical-based farming and unsustainable agriculture have eroded this landscape. Smaller landholders and farmers still find it difficult to turn a good crop and farmer suicides affect the Western Ghats as well. There has been an attempt to set up farmer-owned companies by Agriculture and Organic Farming Group India. Hundreds of homestays have also come up in Coorg in the past few years to complement agricultural income.

    Sujata and Anurag Goel, owners of Mojo Plantation, have successfully experimented with organic farming doing multiple cropping with cardamom, black pepper, coffee and vanilla under the shade of the rainforest. Spice trees, fruits and vegetables are also grown in open areas.

    A molecular biologist, Sujata Goel explained that fungi secrete enzymes to release nutrients from decaying wood and dead organisms. Shivani, the manager, described on a tour of the plantation that fungal mycelium act as telecommunication networks for the trees to convey threats. They are also used as biological pest control. Similarly, termites redistribute soil and recycle nitrogen. Even weeds have an important role to play as temporary hideouts for insects.

    Plants themselves synthesise compounds (terpenes, tannins, phenolics) to repel insects and convey distress signals to other plants and predators. Chemical pesticides kill the natural defence mechanisms of plants..

    The Wise, Old Relic

    Meghna and Lily recount a magnolia tree that they variously describe as a ‘tree of life’, ‘tree mother’, ‘earth mother’, ‘magical beautiful wise old relic’ that has twists, turns and huge branches that one can climb and roots that open up into giant cave systems and tunnels underneath – in the middle of a coffee plantation.

    It was ‘a metaphor for India’ for them, probably signifying layers of wisdom, age and continuity in a land of general mayhem. Neither trees nor our bodies survive in exclusion to their environment. The commune with nature is complete. If you listen carefully, everything in the forest sings.

    The author teaches in Delhi University

    source: http://www.nationalheraldindia.com / National Herald / Home / by Medha Saxena / June 10th, 2017

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    Role Models: Paintings of General K S Thimayya, Field Marshal K M Cariappa.

    Role Models: Paintings of General K S Thimayya, Field Marshal K M Cariappa.

    Kodagu is not just known for its serene landscape and picturesque surroundings, but also for the valour of its people. Rightly, the district boasts of several military heroes. The statues of such brave men can be seen in Madikeri. The Sudarshan Circle in Madikeri is flanked by the statue of Field Marshal K M Cariappa and the equestrian statue of Subedar Guddemane Appayya Gowda.

    One of the earliest revolutionaries from Kodagu, Appayya Gowda, was hanged by the British in 1837. His contemporary revolutionaries from Kodagu included Subedar Naalnaad Mandira Uthayya, Chetty Kudiya and Shanthalli Mallayya who were imprisoned for many years by the British. Further along the main road, you can see a circle with the statue of General K S Thimayya. If you take the deviation to the right, you will find Major M C Muthanna Circle near the town hall and Squadron Leader A B Devaiah Circle near the private bus stand.

    The first family

    In Kunda, near Gonikoppal, lived the Kodandera family, hereditary chieftains of a group of villages. I M Muthanna’s Coorg Memoirs mentions that Naad Parupatyagar (native village official) Kodandera Kuttayya was the grandson of Diwan Mandepanda Thimmaiah. Between 1901 and 1909, he was the assistant commissioner and highest ranked native official in the then Coorg province. When his wife Dechy, or Dechamma, passed away, a locality in Madikeri was named as Dechur in her memory.

    Two members of this family, Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa and General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, rose to become the chiefs of the Indian Army. Hence, the Kodandera family came to be considered as the first family of Kodagu’s military heroes. Field Marshal Cariappa was the son of Kuttayya’s younger brother Madappa, who worked in the revenue department. General Thimayya was the grandson of Kuttayya.

    Born in 1899, Field Marshal Cariappa, ‘the Grand Old Man of the Indian Army’, studied in the Madikeri Government Central High School and then in the Madras Presidency College. He gained admission at Daly Cadet College, Indore, in 1919 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Bombay’s 88th Carnatic Infantry, during World War I. The following year, he served in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and was promoted as a lieutenant.

    He became the first Indian army officer to attend the Staff College in Quetta. He married Muthu Machia, a forest officer’s daughter, had a son K C Nanda Cariappa, who later rose to the rank of air marshal, and a daughter, Nalini. During World War II, Cariappa was awarded the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). He became the first Indian to become a brigadier.

    Cariappa also served as India’s first commander-in-chief (C-in-C) between 1949 and 1953. Now this position rests with the President of India. He represented India as its high commissioner in Australia and New Zealand from 1953 to 1956. In 1986, he was made a field marshal. Thus, he became one of the two Indian army officers to hold this rank. He died in 1993.

    General Thimayya’s actual name was Subayya, while Thimayya was his father’s name. He was born in Madikeri in 1906. Admitted to the then Prince of Wales Military College in Dehradun, he was one of the six Indian cadets who underwent training in Royal Military College, Sandhurst, England. In 1926, he was commissioned into the Indian army. In 1935, he married Codanda Nina and the couple went to Quetta. During the Quetta earthquake that year the couple rendered outstanding humanitarian service.

    During World War II, Thimayya was awarded Distinguished Service Order (DSO). He represented India during the Japanese surrender. Between 1953 and 1955, Thimayya was the chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission. He gained international fame for the way he handled the exchange of the prisoners of war (POWs) held during the Korean War. In 1954, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Between 1957 and 1961, he was the chief of the Indian army.

    In 1964, he was appointed Commander of the United Nations Forces in Cyprus, where he passed away. Cyprus released a stamp in his memory, and later, his wax statue was displayed in Singapore. Both Cariappa and Thimayya are iconic figures in India.

    Fond memories

    According to Major General Arjun Muthanna, a great grandson of Kuttayya, Cariappa and Thimayya belonged to a generation of Indian officers who stormed the bastion of India’s colonial masters and deftly navigated unchartered situations. Both had huge responsibilities thrust upon them at a relatively young age and rose to the challenge. Cariappa, commissioned as a lieutenant when Indians were just being permitted to become British Indian Army officers, would ‘Outbritish the British’, probably to be accepted and treated as an equal by the British officers.

    A strict disciplinarian, he demanded punctuality and proper dress code. He was fiercely nationalistic and moulded the Indian Army into its current apolitical position.

    In 1948, the Kashmir situation grew tense and war was imminent. Lieutenant General Cariappa became the head of the Western Command and led Lieutenant General S M Shrinagesh and Major General Thimayya. It was during this war that Thimayya helped India secure Ladakh.

    Cariappa’s contemporary and friend, Lieutenant General Nathu Singh, was first offered the post of C-in-C but he declined and stated that his senior Cariappa, who won the 1948 war for India, was more eligible for the post. It was on January 15, 1949 that the three centuries old colonial army became a national army. That was the first time an Indian, General Cariappa, was made chief of the Indian armed forces.

    Every morning, Cariappa paid his respects to the portrait of his parents and the statue of a jawan. He was ever thankful to the soldiers for protecting the country. Hence, he was called the soldiers’ general. Cariappa would go to the war front, even after retirement, in order to motivate the troops.

    Muthanna narrates a personal anecdote about the Field Marshal, “When I called on him at his residence, in Madikeri, in May 1986, to invite him for my wedding, I was wearing a half sleeve shirt and trousers as appropriate for the hot summer day. After accepting the invitation, he commented on my attire saying ‘You’re an officer in the army aren’t you? In which case, you should be wearing a coat and tie.’ I had no response and thought in my mind I’m calling on my family elder. Pat came his next comment, as if he’d read my mind, ‘In case you’re calling on me as a relative you should be wearing our traditional dress of kupya.’ He walked the talk. He was always dressed formally as a respect to the person who was visiting him.”

    Thimayya was charismatic, approachable and had great interpersonal skills. When Thimayya visited his Dehradun alma mater as an alumni, one of the cadets there wanted to know how to address the general. Thimayya simply replied ‘Call me Timmy’, referring to his nickname!

    Some of the other military heroes of Kodagu are: Major Mangerira Chinnappa Muthanna, who was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously, and Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devaiah, nicknamed ‘Wings of Fire’, the only Air Force personnel to be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously so far.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / Mookonda Kushalappa / May 22nd, 2017

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    CoffeeKF30mar2017

    Famous for its coffee plantations, South India didn’t grow the crop naturally. Now a major producer with several hill tracts growing unique flavours of coffee, it is where the story begins… well, not exactly.

    The southern Indian state of Karnataka is strewn with coffee plantations. The state is, in fact, one of the major producers of coffee in India. ‘Arabica’ and ‘Robusta’ are the kinds of coffee that are grown here under methods which are unique to this part of the country, rather, to the world.

    The coffee here is grown under the shade of tress and is often inter-cropped with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, giving it a unique flavour and aroma.

    Interestingly, growth of coffee here is so dense that it might come across as shocking when someone tells you that it all started with the seeding of mere seven coffee beans, which were smuggled to the hills of Karnataka.

    The story that goes around in the coffee plantations down south is that an Indian saint, named Baba Budan, once went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and from there to Mocha – a port city in Yemen and a major coffee hub.

    It was here, in the 18th century, that Baba Budan first discovered coffee, when he tasted it in form of a dark and sweet liquid called Qahwa. It is said that he found the drink so refreshing that despite it being a protected Arabic beverage and industry, he sneaked out seven coffee beans by strapping them to his chest and brought them to India.

    The Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka

    The Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka

    These seven beans, Baba Budan planted in the courtyard of his home, in Chikmagalur, Karnataka – the place now synonymous to the origins of coffee in India. It is from this small patch of land that coffee began to spread over an entire hill – now called the Baba Budan hill – and then gradually to rest of Karnataka and South India.

    Coffee cultivation further boosted in India under various colonies. First, the Dutch began to grow coffee in the Malabar region of south India and then the British steered its movement all over the peninsula, where they found the conditions to be apt for the growth of the crop.

    In fact, coffee plantations in India were made commercial under the management of JH Jolly of Parry & Co, a trading company. Jolly saw the potential of coffee beans growing in the plantations of Chandragiri in Andhra Pradesh and had a petition sent to the Mysore government in the adjoining state of Karnataka, for 40 acres of land to grow coffee.

    This not just boosted the growth of coffee but, post this, the plantations flourished with their production turning into the sole business of many from the region and coffee becoming a major commercial product. Eventually, a coffee board was also set up, which took care of the marketing of Indian coffee. It is this board that we know as the Coffee Board of India, the Indian government’s body taking care of coffee commerce in India.

    Today, the coffee industry in India continues to be a flourishing one with the hill tracts of South Indian states dominating its production and the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu following Karnataka in the list of traditional coffee growing regions. Coffee routes have further elongated to non-traditional areas, including Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on the eastern coast of the country and Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh of North-Eastern India.

    The production of the crop that started on an ambiguous note has prospered into a full fledged industry, supporting the livelihood of many, especially, in the remote hilly areas of South India.

    source: http://www.mediaindia.eu / Media India Group (MIG) / Home / posted in Freestyle / by Surbhi Kapila / New Delhi – March 30th, 2017

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    KodavasKF17feb2017

    Are Kodavas (Coorgs) Hindus? The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. If one defines Hinduism as a way of life, then Kodavas are Hindus. If one looks at Hinduism from a rigid caste-centric angle, then Kodavas are not Hindus.

    Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), former president of India, who was one of the most erudite scholars of all times, had said: “Hinduism is not a religion, but a commonwealth of religions. It is more a way of life than a form of thought. The theist and the atheist, the sceptic and the agnostic may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu system of culture and life. Hinduism insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook of life. Hinduism is not a sect but a fellowship of all who accept the law of right and earnestly seek for the truth.”

    The concept of Hinduism as propounded by Radhakrishnan was lofty and incorporated the essence of the ancient Indian civilisation. But in the present era of ‘Mandal’ and ‘Kamandal’ politics, it is caste which determines the Hindu identity.

    Kodavas are a unique race of people who live in Kodagu (Coorg, as the British called it), the smallest district in Karnataka. Very little is known about the origin of this community of warriors who have lived on the slopes of the Western Ghats of South India from time immemorial. This land-owning community known for its martial traditions, has a distinct culture that is strikingly different from that of the neighbouring cultures.

    If caste is used as the yardstick to ascertain whether Kodavas are Hindus, then this small community, numbering less than two lakh, are certainly not Hindus because they do not belong to any Hindu caste and there is no caste system among the Kodavas.

    Another important factor which characterises the Hindu caste system is the belief in the supremacy of Brahmanism. Judged from this yardstick too, Kodavas are not Hindus because there is hardly any role for Brahmins in the various Kodava ceremonies related to birth, marriage and death. It is the elders in the community who conduct all rituals.

    Kodavas are basically ancestor and nature worshippers. Every Kodava is a member of a patrilineal okka (clan) that has descended from a common ancestor. The Karanava, the first ancestor of the clan, is revered as a god, and Kodavas worship the ancestral spirit, their Guru Karona.

    While their ancestors are their guiding spirits, Kodavas consider their elders as their living guides. The youngsters greet their elders by touching their feet three times and the latter invoke their ancestors when they bless them.

    Every ancestral home (ainmane) invariably has a kaimada, a small shrine nearby, where prayers to ancestors are offered. The ancestral homes face the east, and Kodavas start their daily chores by opening the main door of the house and saluting the sun in prayer. And idol worship is non-existent. A lamp (bolcha) or hanging lamp (thook bolcha) is lit, both at dawn and dusk, to invoke the blessings of the ancestors. The lamp is kept in the nellakki nadu bade (central hall in the ancestral home).

    The sacred area around the lamp is empty and no idol or photograph adorns the space. The same goes for the space where meedi (offerings to the ancestors) is kept. Most of the important decisions are solemnised in front of the lamp. However, in recent years, in some ainmanes, framed photos of Hindu gods are kept in these sacred spaces.

    There are no idols in the kaimada, the central place of ancestor worship, where the annual ritual of Karonang Kodpo is held in memory of the ancestors. A few kaimadas have figurines resembling humans, to represent their ancestors. To sum up, Kodavas believe that there is a direct link between the living and their ancestors.

    Major deviation
    Kodavas worship river Kaveri as water and not as an image. During Kaveri Sankramana to celebrate the birth of the river, goddess Kaveri is symbolically represented by a decorated coconut or cucumber.

    Another major deviation from mainstream Hinduism is the practice of meedi offerings for ancestors which consist of food items, including non-vegetarian dishes like pork, the signature dish of the Kodavas. Along with the food, liquor is also offered to invoke the blessings of ancestors. This practice is inconsistent with the rigid notions of ‘pollution’ practiced by orthodox Hindus.

    Though Kodavas had maintained their own religious identity of ancestor and nature worship, things began to change after 1600 AD with the advent of the Lingayat or Haleri kings in Kodagu. The Haleri Rajas built Hindu temples and appointed deva thakkas (temple headmen) to propagate their faith among the Kodavas. Tulu and Kannada-speaking Brahmin priests were brought from outside Kodagu to perform pooja at these temples.

    Over the years, temples dedicated to deities such as Bhagavati or Muthappan have come up in Kodagu. These deities mainly belong to the neighbouring Kerala. Igguthappa, the god dedicated to rain and harvest, was also one such belonging to Kerala. Kodavas also worship a few spirit deities like kulika, pashana murthi etc who belong to Tulunad or Kerala.

    In today’s circumstances, it is essential that we maintain our Kodava identity instead of trying to embrace mainstream Hinduism where we do not belong. The belief in ancestor and nature worship is much more rational and scientific, compared to belief in myths and rituals which are alien to Kodava religious practices. It is best they tribe remains Kodavas and not Hindus.

    (The writer is a senior journalist and author based in Bengaluru)

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Panorama / by P T Bopanna / February 17th, 2017

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    The invigorating aroma of the coffee blossoms carried by chilled breeze, the midnight green ambience along the loopy roads… it is not just the abundant natural beauty that makes Kodagu a distinct place. Its people — the Kodavas — with discrete culture and heritage, boost the glory of this coffee land.

    Be it the language (Coorgie), cuisine, attire or rituals, Kodava culture moves away from the humdrum reckoning a distinct ethnic identity. And safeguarding this ethnicity while preserving their way of life is the architectural legacy known as the ain mane or ballya mane.

    Ain Manes (ain in Coorgie translates to original) are the ancestral heritage homes of the Kodavas that reflect the eminence of a sanctum sanctorum. With quintessential framework, an archetypal heritage home comprises traditionally-carved wooden pillars, bricked white and red walls, intricately-carved wooden doorways and windows. With a typical style, each of them has an unmatched old-world charm.

    Every corner of the house is given a name and holds mythical importance. With two types — the othe pore (single roofed house) and mundh mane (courtyard house) — the traditional features of ain manes include kannikamba (a sacrosanct pillar), kayyale (verandah), aimaras (wooden slabs in the verandah), machi (wooden ceiling), mundh (open courtyard) and kannikombre (worship room). Most of the ain manes have kaimadas – a sacred shrine built to worship the ancestors. Since the existence of nuclear families, there were outhouses built around the premises called ale pore.

    While the interiors reflect somber and subdued beauty, its exteriors manifest valour and strength. As Chakku Chengappa, a member of Nadikerianda clan, explains, “Hidden and safeguarded amidst the estate were the fort-like structures of ballya mane (ballya means huge); built in this manner to prevent an ambush from enemies. The entrance to the ain mane has many sections. There is a long curvy oni (alley), bakka pare and ala pare (extensions of the alley), which lead to the verandah.”

    Nonagenarian Nadikerianda Muthamma adds, “The Kodava women were known to be beautiful, and this is why ain manes needed to be protected at the time of British rule. However, today the ain manes play an important role in reuniting families.”

    “Much more than just a roof over the head, ain manes are an important part of the tangible heritage of the native community of Kodagu,” write Boverianda Chinnappa and Nanjamma in their book Ainmanes of Kodagu. Built in the ancestral or the jamma land, the ain mane is a binding force that is a pillar of strength — both literally and figuratively. Many findings state that the inception of the concept of ain mane dates back to eighth century.

    The origins

    “The early settlers of Kodagu stayed in forests as a family. Due to feudal fights, it was common for people with the same bloodline to stay together in a small thatched hut. These settlements grew in size and became stronger, which made the ruling king seek their support. In return, the king gifted them land, which is the jamma land. As their living conditions improved, they built a strong fort-like structure on the jamma land, which came to be known as ain mane or ballya mane,” explains Boverianda Nanjamma.

    However, the architectural style takes its root from Kerala. She adds, “Kodagu grew paddy abundantly but depended largely on Kerala for other commodities. During the travel for exchange of commodities, the Kodavas were pleased by the Kerala architectural style and there flowed workmanship from Kerala to build the ain mane.”

    While there are over 900 clans in existence in Kodagu, not all of them have an ain mane. Nanjamma explains, “During the research work for our book, we found out that many deteriorating ain manes were never rebuilt.” According to their findings, only 40% of the ain manes were renovated keeping the tradition intact and the rest did not see the light of the new era.

    Today, there are over 400 ain manes in existence and each of them belongs to a patriarchal clan, which is recognised by unique family names known as mane pedas. They bustle with ritualistic celebrations during festivities including Putthari, Kailpodh and annual kola (spirit dance). “The annual hockey matches conducted between families shed light on the revival of ain manes,” opines Kayapanda Shashi Somaiah, a journalist in Kodagu. Nonetheless, the revival of the ain manes are not just a process of renovation of age-old structures but also a resurgence of Kodava culture.

    Unity in diversity

    The Kundyolanda clan, which has 35 families, has its ain mane in Kolakeri village that was recently renovated to its pre-eminence. The rituals followed in this ain mane are uncompromising and many. “It is a family temple for us. We strictly adhere to the rituals and it is mandatory for women to wear traditional Coorgie saree and vastra (veil) over the head while entering the house. Apart from this, there are various other restrictions followed religiously in the ain mane,” explains Kundyolanda Dinesh, owner of a hotel.

    They have a 400-year-old othe pore ain mane with 14 rooms, but there is no one residing here. However, it is made sure that lamps are lit twice a day and the house is maintained meticulously. “Each nuclear family of the clan takes turn to maintain the house and no one can back out from their duties,” he explains.

    The Nadikerianda clan, with over 40 families, has a mundh ain mane in Karada village, which bustles with ritualistic activities during the festivals. A diligently maintained heritage home, it reflects the glory of the past and is keeping alive the culture and traditions. A 350-year-old house, it has a kaimada and a snake shrine in its premises. With 10 rooms, it has a beautifully-carved wooden window frame and a small wooden post box at the entrance. The huge mundh open to the skies is supported by four wooden pillars — all carved differently.

    The Arapattu Mukkatira clan has their ain mane in Kadanga village. With 13 rooms, the uniqueness of this ain mane is that it has two mundhs and two kayyales. A 300-year-old structure, it is said that the temple treasure from the village Bhagavathi Temple was locked safely in a wooden treasure box kept in the attic of this ain mane. This wooden treasure box still lies in the attic. “We are a clan of 45 families. The age-old rituals are still in practice here. The renovation of the house is soon to take place with help from all the family members,” explains Katty Uthappa, deputy manager of a bank.

    The Biddanda family has the ain mane built in the property gifted by King Veeraraja in 1795. With eight partitions in this mundh mane, there is a kaimada close by and the pictures of ancestors of eight generations can be seen hanging on the wall at the entrance. “One of our ancestors, Sarvakayaka Bopanna, was very close to the king. His (Bopanna’s) tombstone is right next to King Veeraraja’s tombstone,” explains Biddanda S Ganapathi, a retired navy officer.

    The ain manes are a matter of pride to the Kodavas and are unique to their ethnicity. This uniqueness in architecture has been adopted by many resorts in Kodagu that woo the tourists. However, ain manes do not just demonstrate pride but bespeak culture. They are the souls of Kodava rituals, and their revival provides a surety to Kodavas’ customs and legacy.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / Prajna G R / January 24th, 2017

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    Exservicemen01KF16jan2017

    Land of Generals and War Widows

    by Mandetira N. Subramani, President, VeKare Ex-Servicemen Trust, Mysore

    M N Subramani

    M N Subramani

    Most of the Ex-Servicemen of yore, who joined the British Indian Armed Forces during early 1940s, and participated in World War-II, are no more. However, there are still numerous widows of World War-II veterans, around 70 odd years of age, living in Mysore and Kodagu region, who narrate their helplessness and pathetic stories.

    It was customary for men of yesteryears to marry a life partner who is younger to them by 10 to 15 years. It is quite but natural that most of such wives become widows and may live for 10 to 15 years, or even longer, after the demise of their husbands. Trends have changed. The present day men don’t mind marrying a life partner elder to him by 3-5 years and the educated ladies consider it as out of fashion and a mismatch to marry men who are 3 or 4 years elder to them.

    Reverting to the subject of helplessness of widows of World War-II veterans, a gentleman barged into my office a few days ago with a complaint that his 76-year-old mother, living in a remote village called Kiggal, near Murnad, Kodagu (erstwhile Coorg), is not being granted defence family pension even after a lapse of 12 years after the demise of his father, due to some vague reasons projected by the Army’s EME Record Office, Secunderabad. The hapless widow happened to be one Mrs. Kaveriamma, widow of a World War-II veteran, Naib Subedar Ballachanda Nanjappa Ayyappa.

    Mrs. Kaveriamma & late Nb Sub B.N. Ayyappa.

    Mrs. Kaveriamma & late Nb Sub B.N. Ayyappa.

    I being not only an Ex-Serviceman myself but also a son of a World War-II veteran who served in the Corps of EME and died unsung and unheard 22 years ago, decided to help the Late Nb Sub Ballachanda N. Ayyappa’s widow Kaveriamma with whatever little bit of knowledge and expertise I had gained during the course of taking up the cause of Ex-Servicemen and widows of Ex-Servicemen since the past 22 years after I quit the Armed Forces.

    I believe in “seeing is believing.” Hence, I told late Naib Sub B.N. Ayyappa’s son, Ganapathy, that I wished to see his mother Kaveriamma personally, without doubting his (Ganapathy’s) version of the pathetic story of his mother. Without a second thought, Ganapathy informed me that his 76-year-old mother has been suffering from all sorts of old age ailments and that if I wished to see her, I would have to visit his ancestral Ballachanda House in Kiggal village in Coorg, which is well over 150 kms from Mysore. He also suggested that I could accompany him the following day itself to his village to see his mother. Though there was a clash of opinions between my mind and heart regarding his suggestion, I decided to listen to my heart, which is always weaker than the mind. The widow’s old age and ill health became a priority over my next day’s assignments and engagements all of which I had to abort.

    It was indeed a huge expedition on the next day. It took almost nearly three-and-a-half- hours to reach the 100-year-old ancestral house of late Nb Sub Ayyappa in his village, which resembled a bit of British architecture. However, it took me waiting for nearly two hours to get the audience of the grand-old-lady, as she took time to wake up from her sleep, get ready and come out of her bedroom with the support of her son.

    B.A. Kaveriamma, widow of late Nb Sub B.N. Ayyappa.

    B.A. Kaveriamma, widow of late Nb Sub B.N. Ayyappa.

    During the waiting period, in Kaveriamma’s house, I had to perforce spend my time speaking to an 87-year-grand-old gentleman, who was resting in his easy chair. I was amused when he kept showing extra attention and courtesies to me than what I really deserved. This grand-old-gentleman, however, kept firing some uncomfortable questions to me such as, when did I join the Armed Force? When did I quit? Why did I quit? What was the last rank held by me? What I have been doing after quitting the forces etc… etc… as if I were put in a witness box for some crime committed by joining the Armed Forces! If someone around my age had asked me those questions, I would have blown my trumpet about my life in the Armed Forces, my last rank held as equivalent to one of those one star or two stars rank etc. But, I held back, because, in my subconscious mind I saw something very special in him that made me to tell him only the truth, including the last rank held by me, that is, Sergeant in the Indian Air Force.

    While answering all the questions fired at me by this grand-old-gentleman, I was also looking at the walls of the huge verandah to deter him from firing anymore questions. However, I found some old photographs of late Naib Sub Ayyappa’s father, who was a Sub-Inspector of Police during the British regime, hung on the wall. Among the numerable old photographs on the walls, I also noticed a certificate framed and hung in a remote corner, which I could not read because of the size of the certificate, and my failing eye sight. I was compelled to remove the framed certificate and read it just out of curiosity. To my surprise, it was a citation of a gallantry award, that is, “Mention in Dispatches” awarded to Flight Gunner Sgt. Ballachanda N. Medappa.

    Ex-Warrant Officer B.N. Medappa, M-In-D

    Ex-Warrant Officer B.N. Medappa, M-In-D

    I became very curious and asked Ganapathy as to who this Flight Gunner was ? Ganapathy pointed out at the grand-old- gentleman who was sitting on the same easy chair busy reading a Kannada daily Mysooru Mitra and said, “he is my father Nb Sub Ayyappa’s younger brother Ex-Warrant Officer of the Indian Air Force.” I realised that he is really an ‘Ex-Air Warrior,’ a term commonly referred to all Ex-Air Force personnel of late. I too sometimes proudly call myself as an Ex-Air Warrior to my advantage but it proved to be otherwise all the time with my retired rank ‘Ex-Sergeant.’

    In the meantime, the widow of Nb Sub Ayyappa managed to come up to the verandah with the support of her son. As per the customs of the Coorgs’, I touched her feet to seek her blessings, and took a few photographs of her from my worn camera. After speaking to her for a few minutes I casually told her that I would try to resolve her defence family pension issue, at which she nodded her head casually, without any anxiety or hope of receiving it in the near future. I understood that she was fed up of trying for her defence family pension for the past 12 years.

    On our way back to Mysore from Coorg after having met the widow, my thoughts were more on the unassuming Ex-Air Warrior I met that day than the problem of the widow of World War- II veteran Ayyappa. I tried to make a guess as to how many such great war heroes were still living or dead, unheard and unsung, among the tiny Kodava Community besides the number of General Officers this tiny Coorg District has produced till date. I even started calling up all my fauji friends, as if there was an impending war.

    All armed forces veterans who served three decades ago know that there was a separate Coorg regiment, which largely included people from non-Kodava backgrounds while the Kodavas themselves served in different other regiments; this is in keeping with the Army’s non-bias policy. Field Marshal Kodandera Cariappa of the Rajput regiment and General Kodandera Thimayya of the Kumaon regiment are the most distinguished Army men among the Kodavas. Other illustrious Kodavas from all ranks lead from the front in their own way, not only during wars but also in war-like situations and counter insurgencies.

    Lt. Gen. Apparanda Aiyappa is best remembered for his contributions towards the Corps of Signals and towards Bharat Electronics Limited. There were several war heroes as well such as Nadikerianda Bheemaiah, a JCO who was the first among Coorgs to be awarded the Vir Chakra for conspicuous bravery in J&K Operations during 1947, and Air Marshal Cheppudira D. Subia, a daring fighter pilot, was awarded the Vir Chakra during 1950 for his courageous and relentless attacks on the enemy targets which has largely contributed to the successful capture of Garais in Jammu & Kashmir.

    Squadron Leader Ajjamada B. Devayya (known as the ‘wings of fire’), a fighter pilot of rare acumen, was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra after the 1965 Indo-Pak War, posthumously. Lt. Col. Ganapathi Puttichanda Somaiah (then known as the ‘Major who kept his cool’) was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his conspicuous bravery of fighting against the militants under odd condition while deployed in Sri Lanka as part of Indian Peace Keeping Force.

    Lt. Col. Anjaparavanda Ganapathy was decorated with Vir Chakra for his valour during the 1965 war. Maj. Gen. Kuppanda Nanjappa and Colonel Mandettira Ravi were decorated with Vir Chakra for their valiant display of courage and gallantry in the face of the enemy on land during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Sqn. Ldr. Mandepanda Ganapathy was awarded Vir Chakra for shooting down one of the first Pakistani Sabre Jets, which intruded into Indian air space during the 1971 war.

    Wg. Cdr. Ballachanda Karumbaya is another war hero to be decorated with the Vir Chakra for displaying his gallantry in the air during the 1971 war. The youngest among the above said war heroes is the then Capt. Baleyanda M. Cariappa to be decorated with Vir Chakra on 21st June 1999 for displaying repeated acts of valour, bold leadership, unparalleled courage, leading from the front and devotion beyond the call of duty in the face of the enemy.

    Kodagu being one of the smallest districts across India, today boasts of the highest density of devoted, daring, dedicated, disciplined and duty-bound gentlemen soldier officers, with many adorning the highest echelons of the defence services in India.

    At any given point of time, till 1980, the number of persons serving the forces far exceeded the proportion of any other set of people from any other region in India. The contribution of Coorg to the cause of the nation has been phenomenal and Armed Forces Martyrs from Kodagu District are innumerable.

    The appended list of Army General Officers the tiny District of Kodagu [population 5 lakh and population of Kodavas is about 1.3 lakh] has produced over the last 65 years is testimony to the fact that the District is a cradle of mighty Generals:

    1. Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa, OBE; 2. General Kodandera S. Thimayya, DSO; 3. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Apparanda C. Aiyappa PVSM, MBE; 4. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Biddanda C. Nanda PVSM, AVSM, ADG; 5. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Codanda N. Somanna PVSM; 6. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Bittianda K. Bopanna PVSM, AVSM, VSM; 7. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Ballachanda K. Chengappa; 8. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Guddanda C. Somanna; 9. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Kongetira M. Chengappa; 10. Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kotera C. Bheemaiah; 11. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Codanda K. Karumbaya SM; 12. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Cheppudira I. Jay Appachu AVSM; 13. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Somaiyanda K. Kariappa AVSM, YSM; 14. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Madaiyanda M. Belliappa AVSM, VSM; 15. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Bovverianda M. Aiyanna; 16. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Bachamanda A. Cariappa; 17. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Moovera C. Nanjappa AVSM, VSM; 18. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Kuppanda P. Nanjappa AVSM, VrC; 19. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Kelapanda B. Swaraj; 20. Maj. Gen. Kodandera Arjun Muthanna; 21. Maj. Gen. Paruvangada M. Cariappa VSM.

    Courtesy: Star of Mysore

    source: http://www.exservicemen.in / Ex-servicemen India / Home> India> News> Views, Articles / by M N Subramani / October 19th, 2012

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    Kodava elders hope the festival of Kailpodh will encourage the community’s youth to enter international sporting events

    Image credit:  Shawn Sebastian and Tejaswi Dantuluri

    Image credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejaswi Dantuluri

    Deep in the sanctum of his 150-year-old ancestral home, Lokesh Achappa is surrounded by weapons. Dressed in a Kupya, the traditional Coorgi outfit of knee-length black overcoat, a gold and maroon sash with an ornate, carved silver dagger tucked in its folds, Achappa prays to an array of weapons: an antique double-barrel, a .22 mm rifle, traditional daggers and swords, all garlanded with flowers and smeared with sandalwood paste.

    Once the ritual is complete, he steps out of the house, and a series of thundering gun shots reverberate across the valley.

    Coorg, a district in Karnataka famous for its coffee, is home to the Kodavas, a martial hill tribe with a population of less than six lakh. Historically, the community has shared a deep connection with its weapons. Valiant guerrilla fighters and agriculturists, the Kodavas once defended territories with locally made bow-and-arrows. With the advent of firearms, guns became central to Kondava life. Weapons appear frequently in important social customs: births and deaths in the Kodava tribe are announced with gunfire, every newborn touches a bow and arrow, as initiation into the tribe. At the annual harvest festival of Puttari, one of the most important events on the Kodavas festival calendar, everyone in the valley opens fire.

    Weapons are also celebrated at Kailpodh, the annual Kodavas (or Coorgi) festival in the first week of September which marks the end of hardships for the agrarian community – once the paddy has been transplanted. During the festival, Kodavas clean and worship weapons to express their gratitude for the protection they have offered.

    “The period is a time for jubilation when distant families get together,” local resident Ashik Appanna explained.

    Image credit:  Shawn Sebastian and Tejaswi Dantuluri

    Image credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejaswi Dantuluri

    With the tightening of gun regulation laws, the ban on hunting, and due to large-scale migration of younger generation Coorgis, many have predicted that the Kodava weapon culture will disappear altogether. Elders of the Kodava community are hoping that festivals like Kailpodh will encourage young Kodavas to return to their traditional shooting skills.

    Gun Rights and Regulations
    In 1861, the British administrators granted Kodavas an exemption from the Arms Act, for their support to the East India Company in administrative and military affairs.

    “Gun ownership is a birthright for us,” said Appanna Bacharinanyanda, an 80-year-old retired lecturer who exhibits antique Kodava weapons and utensils in his front yard every Kailpodh.

    Bacharinanyanda says the Kodavas never “misuse” guns. He expresses a deep apprehension over the government’s attempts at over-regulating weapons: “These days authorities have started demanding bribes to grant us the exemption certificate, which is completely unacceptable.”

    With the Wildlife Protection Act of 1971, hunting has been prohibited in India. The legislation came as a big blow to the Kodavas, for whom hunting was an integral part of life and survival.

    Naveen Bidappa, a young Kodava lawyer, pointed to a photograph in his house of a man named Tiger Thimmaiah. In the picture, Thimmaiah stood next to a tiger he had killed and then tied to a tree.

    “He shot 12 tigers, hence the name,” smiled Bidappa.

    Since tigers posed the biggest menace for livestock, tiger hunters were once highly venerated figures in the Kodavas society.

    “Narimangala (tiger-marriage) was a big tradition in the olden days,” he said. “The tiger hunter was married to the tiger he killed, and villagers would offer them gifts and cash as a mark of respect.”

    Changing relevance of gun culture
    In early September, scores of Kodava youth assembled at a school ground at the Coorgi village of Chettali. Each carried a gun.

    Bidappa, a 70-year-old elder from the community, walked into the ground filled with curious onlookers, and shot a coconut hung several yards away to inaugurate the annual shooting competition that coincides with Kailpodh. He hit the bulls-eye with a single shot.

    “Shooting skills are in our blood,” he said, shrugging at the crowd’s deafening cheers.

    Over the last few years, shooting competitions that were once limited to households have turned into larger events, with an increasing number of shooting enthusiasts showing up from all over Coorg.

    “Our aim is to prepare and pass down shooting skills to the younger generation,” Bidappa said.

    Over the next five years, local shooting competition organisers plan to develop a shooting range in the village to groom young shooters, and train them for national shooting competitions.

    “Festivals such as Kailpodh have found a new meaning in changing circumstances,” he said.

    A Kodava shooting competition. Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    A Kodava shooting competition. Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Fifteen-year-old Lakshan Ayyappa is a widely recognised face at Kodavas shooting competitions. He is the great-grandson of Tiger Thimmaiah, but has also established himself as an ace shooter in his own right – he has won more local competition prizes than he can remember.

    “My target is to make it for 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he said. Ayyappa first learnt to shoot at the age of five. He was taught by his mother.

    “Whenever I see a new gun, I discuss it with my dad,” he said. “I know everything about its make, calibre, range, the cartridges used. I feel by the time we are born, we are already half trained.”

    Like in Punjab, it is usual for Kodava households to send a member of their family to join the military. Many attribute this to early affinity Kodava youngsters develop with weapons.

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Shooting is not a male sport in the Kodavas tribe. Kodava women traditionally kept guns to protect their families when the men left for hunting and battle. Everyone from septuagenarian grandmothers to 16-year-old girls participate in local shooting competitions.

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Shooting is not a male sport in the Kodavas tribe. Kodava women traditionally kept guns to protect their families when the men left for hunting and battle. Everyone from septuagenarian grandmothers to 16-year-old girls participate in local shooting competitions.

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Credit: Shawn Sebastian and Tejasvi Dantuluri

    Several modern-day sports like shooting and archery have been born of indigenous communities across the world. In India, the attempts at unearthing such indigenous talents have been poor.

    A few notable exceptions are people like Laxmirani Manji, from the Santhal tribe in Jharkhand who represented India in archery at the 2016 Rio Olymipcs, and Limba Ram of Ahari tribe in Rajasthan, an Arjuna awardee archer who represented India at three Olympics. If they are given enough support and attention, many modern-day Tiger Thimmaiahs might emerge from Coorg.

    We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

    source: http://www.scroll.in / Scroll.in / Home> Magazine> After the News / Point & Shoot

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    Bengaluru :

    As the martial Kodava race gets together to celebrate the annual harvest festival, Puthari, on Tuesday in their homeland Kodagu, they have reason to feel optimistic about their future.

    The Karnataka government has initiated an ethnographic and socio-economic survey to see whether the community qualifies for the tribal status. It’s the second time the survey has been taken up, a response to the alarming decline in population.

    “Our department has been doing the survey for the past two weeks. Apparently, the culture and traditions of the Kodavas are akin to tribals but the government cannot grant them the status unless the survey establishes it,” said P Manivannan, secretary, social welfare department.

    The Centre has also considered a long-pending demand to include Kodava thakk, the Kodava language without a script, in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and a notification has been issued to initiate the process.

    In 2011, the UPA government directed the then BJP government to take up the survey following petitions by the Codava National Council (CNC), which has been spearheading the community’s cause. It was put on the backburner for political reasons.

    AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, along with Brijesh Kalappa, legal adviser to the Karnataka state government, recently impressed upon chief minister Siddaramaiah to order the survey to protect the race.

    “Our community is dwindling in numbers very fast for many economic and sociological reasons. The population of Kodagu district is around 5 lakhs, of which Kodavas are not more than 65,000. There is an urgent need to sustain the Kodava genus constitutionally under Articles 340 and 342 of the Constitution that provide for recognizing ethno-linguistic tribal minority nationality,” CNC president N U Nachappa said.

    Kalappa said: “When the last survey was taken up around two decades ago, many Kodava leaders, including prominent political leaders, had opposed it because they felt it was demeaning for the race, renowned for gallantry and sportsmanship. But now there is a sense of awareness among the community because they’ve realized it’s inevitable.”

    The survey report will be given to the government by early next year and the Centre will take a final call based on the recommendations.

    Earlier Kodavas were seen in large numbers in civil services, police and other government jobs but their numbers have dwindled owing to lack of reservation. Though they have been granted Other Backward Classes (OBC) status in the reservation schedule of the state government for jobs and higher education, Kalappa said his community has not gained much since they have to compete with the politically powerful Vokkaliga community that they share under 3A category.

    Will Kodavas qualify?

    Some anthropologists said Kodavas, as a race, are progressive and different from other tribes. “They cannot be compared to tribes like Bedar, Hakki-Pikki and Kadu Kuruba, among others,” said A K Ravesh, a researcher studying socio-cultural anthropology in Kodagu. The Kodava marriage and funeral rituals, among other things, portray a distinctive culture. A former minister also felt that Kodavas will not gain much if they are granted tribal status since the combined reservation for all STs is just 3% compared to 4% under OBC offered by the state government.

    Scheduled Tribe tag

    The Constitution does not provide a definition of a Scheduled Tribe. Artice 366 (25) mentions “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes…” According to the website of the Union ministry of tribal affairs: “The criterion followed for specification of a community as Scheduled Tribes are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness”.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City News> Bangalore News / TNN / December 13th, 2016

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