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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    More than 5,000 people from Darang and neighbouring districts of Assam have found work in plantations of Belur and Sakleshpur taluks.— Photo: Prakash Hassan

    More than 5,000 people from Darang and neighbouring districts of Assam have found work in plantations of Belur and Sakleshpur taluks.— Photo: Prakash Hassan

    Assam may be famous for its tea gardens, but a good number of Assamese workers have found employment in the coffee estates of Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu.

    More than 5,000 people from Darang and neighbouring districts of Assam have come to work in plantations of Belur and Sakleshpur taluks. Many more work in estates spread over Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu districts.

    “We hardly find jobs in our hometown. If we get work for a week, we remain jobless for next few weeks,” said Habizur Rahman (25), who has been working in Hasurugudda Estate of IBC company near Arehalli in Belur taluk for the last four years. Both men and women are enrolled as contract workers in estates for a daily wage of Rs. 228. In Assam, women hardly get the opportunity to earn in fields, he said.

    The wave of migration started five years ago, when a manager of an estate in Belur taluk came in contact with planters in Kodagu, where workers from Assam had begun to arrive. “Those days we were struggling to get local people to work. We were looking for people who could work. The first batch of 25 people came from Assam five years ago. As they got work for the entire year and wages were better than what they got in their homeland, they brought more people from their State,” said Fazlur Rahman, manager with IBC estate.

    Election trips

    The manager pointed out that many planters have employed Assamese as they are hard workers, though they are not well-versed in the skill of maintaining coffee. These workers have brought their family and all of them make a trip to their homeland during elections. “Voting is significant as there is a serious issue of illegal migrant voters from Bangladesh,” said Shwahidul Islam, who always keeps his voter’s identity card in his pocket.

    However, the workers are unhappy with the poor facilities provided in the estates. Around two or three families are forced to settle in one house with plastic sheets to separate them. For over 80 families there is only one toilet, in one of the estates visited by The Hindu .

    “We repeatedly demand for proper facilities, but our cry does not reach the people concerned. If anyone falls sick, we neither get paid holiday nor medical expenses reimbursed,” said Habizur Rahman.

    The district administration has set up a tent school for children of migrant workers, but they find this of no use. “We need a proper school where our children can get education from teachers who know Hindi,” said Marina Khatun, one among the women workers in the estate.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Sathish G.T. / Hassan – September 27th, 2015

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    September 30th, 2015adminSports

    India hockey mid-fielder SK Uthappa said that team team would aim to become a stronger attacking unit during the upcoming away Test series against New Zealand.

    SK Uthappa says New Zealand tour will help India polish our skills for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Image: Hockey India)

    SK Uthappa says New Zealand tour will help India polish our skills for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Image: Hockey India)

    New Delhi:

    The Indian hockey team would aim to become a stronger attacking unit during the upcoming away Test series against New Zealand as it prepares for the Hockey World League in November-December, mid-fielder SK Uthappa has asserted.

    Aiming to do well in the tournament, which is scheduled from October 2 to 11, Uthappa said the team would look to showcase the dexterity gained from the ongoing preparatory camp.

    The New Zealand tour will be in preparation for the Hockey World League Raipur scheduled from November 27 to December 6 in Raipur, followed by the all important Rio Olympics next year. (Team Working on Penalty Corners And Defence, Says Manpreet Singh)

    Well aware of the fact that mid-fielders have played an active role in scoring goals, Uthappa emphasised on ball possession to craft well-connected passes.

    Speaking ahead of the Tour, Uthappa said, “The team has been trying to give their best so far and the New Zealand tour will help us to polish our skills for the most important 2016 Rio Olympics. We aim to capitalise more goal scoring opportunities and make our attack even stronger in the tour ahead.

    “We will look to carry out our game strategies in high detail and structure as we expect an intense clash. The coach is working on different combinations so that we are aware what works best for us before the all important tournaments ahead. With Manpreet and Dharamvir back in the squad it automatically adds huge boost to the line-up.”

    India and New Zealand A will be playing their first match on 2nd October 2015 in Auckland.

    source: http://www.sports.ndtv.com / NDTV.com / Home> NDTV Sports> Hockey> News / by Press Trust of India / Sunday – September 27th, 2015

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    September 30th, 2015adminBusiness & Economy

    Madikeri :

    The Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) has completed the project to supply power from Kaiga to Kozhikode in Kerala amid protests. The 400kV transmission line was opposed in Kodagu on grounds that it would damage forest cover. Due to opposition from environmental organizations and farmers’ association and court cases, work had been halted for some time in Kodagu.

    While the line was in place in Kerala, the missing link has now been completed. PGCI warned people that it’ll charge the line and residents of the area should be careful.

    The 120-km high-tension wire from Mysuru to Kozhikode passes through 55km in Kodagu. Of this, 4.45km is forest land, while the remaining is private land and plantations. The lines in Mysuru and in the opposite direction between Manandavadi and Kozhikode were completed two years ago.

    Workers on coffee plantations and school children would face the maximum threat. Following protests, the Kodagu district administration distributed compensation to land owners where power lines passed. The PGCI completed the project with police protection and many cases were booked against agitators.

    The corporation said the wire through Kodagu was laid 15 metres above the ground and would not harm elephants.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Bengaluru / TNN / September 29th, 2015

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    Members of United Kodava Organisation taking out a padayatra from Talacauvery to Bengaluru, passed through Mysuru on Monday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

    Members of United Kodava Organisation taking out a padayatra from Talacauvery to Bengaluru, passed through Mysuru on Monday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

    The Talacauvery to Bengaluru padayatra launched by the United Kodava Organisation (UKO) reached Mysuru on Sunday.

    The participants stayed overnight at the Kodava Samaja at Vijayanagar in the city, before resuming their journey towards Bengaluru on Monday. The purpose of the walk is to to draw the attention of State and Union Government to their demands for development of Kodagu and Kodavas

    UKO convener Kokkalamada Manju Chinnappa said the 17-day-long padayatra, which began from Talacauvery on September 18, will reach Bengaluru on October 4, after covering 414 km.

    The UKO has sought a law to check conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes, subsidy of Rs. 10,000 per acre for growing paddy, stopping forced eviction of small coffee growers and dropping the Union government’s proposal to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in coffee cultivation.

    The participants, who are scheduled to stay overnight at Baburayana Koppal near Srirarangapatna on Monday night, will pass through Mandya, Maddur, Channapatna and Ramanagaram before reaching Bengaluru

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mysuru – September 29th, 2015

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    One morning, I came to a place, known as Kakot Parambu, near the town of Virajpet. Parambu, meaning a holy meadow in the Kodava language, is known for its scenic beauty.

    The green landscape stretches over a hillock within a gateway and is visible from the road. Before it stands a school ground and a ceremony hall. At one side within the precincts is a small shrine dedicated to Chavundi (Chamundi), while on the other side is the Kakot Achchayya Temple.

    Legend has it that Kakot Achchayya and his sister Kakot Akkavva walked to this place in the ancient times. Kakot Achchayya, also known as Kombu Meeshe (horn moustache) Achchayya, had a manservant called Kari Kotta to attend to them.

    They settled down here and a Mahadeva Temple was built for them. Over the years, the Kakot Achchayya Temple came to be known as the Kala Bhairaveshwara Temple.

    The Kala Bhairaveshwara Temple has a horse figure representing the kshetrapala, guardian of the region, overlooking it. Behind this temple is the shrine of the kodi beera (war hero). This smaller shrine is dedicated to an ancestor of the Mandetira family who had died a violent death. He is represented by a rock placed upon a platform. To the side of the main shrine is a large tree upon a platform called the Kariyappa Sthana.

    Beyond that is the shrine of Akkavva, known as Akkavva Sthana, which has a well near it. Before the Akkavva shrine is a tree with the small figure of a crane under it. Beside this tree is a temple pond which also has a similar crane figurine by its steps.

    The Mandetira family is the Deva Takka of the temple. Deva Takka family members are responsible for the management of the temple. According to their family tree, the earliest known Mandetira ancestor is one Bogayya. His son Achchunna was the brother-in-law of Utta Nayaka of Kadnur, a very powerful chieftain in the 1780s. Achchunna went to Tulunad (Dakshina Kannada) and sent an archak (priest) called Sankana from that land.

    Sankana and his descendants, the Kukkemane family, thereafter served as the priests of the Kakot Temple. Achchunna never returned. A memorial was built for him there at Kodapada village in Dakshina Kannada. During times of strife and conflict, Achchunna’s son Medayya was beheaded by a king. A memorial, called the Kodi Bira Sthana, was built for him at the place behind the temple where his head fell. Medayya’s young son Subbayya was the last remaining member of his family.

    His widowed mother, who was from the Iychettira family, raised him. Upon coming of age, Subbayya joined the Raja’s government and was given his family property. A painting, which shows him paying the Raja his respects, was commissioned in 1805.

    Subbayya remained in the government of the Kodagu Rajas for a long while, serving under Dodda Vira Rajendra, Devammaji, Linga Rajendra and Chikka Vira Rajendra. When the British took over the administration of Kodagu in 1834, the native officers were all retained. Unlike his father Medayya who had antagonised the ruling power of his times, Subbayya had remained loyal to the Rajas and later to the British, under whom he came to earn a medallion and pension for three generations. He later retired as parupatyagara, a senior government official.

    Much of the family history has been documented by the clan members. The Mandetira, the Kukkemane, the Nellamakkada and a number of other families have helped renovate the temple over generations. Every year, ceremonial dances are held in the Kakot Parambu mand. In 2007, the Mandetira family organised the annual Kodava Hockey tournament.

    The Ainmane, the ancestral home of the clan, has a wooden portico and entrance wall. A family tree of the Mandetiras is displayed by the entrance. The beautiful but small and old painting depicting the Kodagu Raja Dodda Vira Rajendra and Mandetira Subbayya is within a wooden frame placed on the wall behind the hanging prayer lamp. The kaimada, a private shrine built in remembrance of clan ancestors, and a sanctuary for el koot murthy (seven spirit-deities) are located nearby.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements / by M P Nitin Kushalappa / September 29th, 2015

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    ‘Jabhoomi Baalo-2015’ Talacauvery-Bengaluru padayatra leaves city


    Mysuru :

    “Kodavas should also get the same status and facilities accorded to Parsi community,” opined Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha.

    He was speaking at a programme organised at Kodava Samaja in Vijayanagar first stage here to mark the arrival of ‘Jabhoomi Baalo-2015’ Talacauvery-Bengaluru padayatra in the city yesterday.

    Noting that the Parsi community, a minority community having less population, is playing a key role in the country’s economy and industrial sector, the MP said that many Parsi achievers such as renowned scientist Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha and senior advocate Fali S.Nariman have brought honour to the country.

    “The Union Government, taking note of the dwindling number of Parsis, has come up with ‘Jiyo Parsi’ campaign for the survival of the community. Likewise, the Government should come forward to save the Kodava community, which has given two Generals, 28 Lieutenant Generals, 5 Hockey Captains and other greats in different fields,” he said and added that he would urge the Union Government to extend the status and facilities accorded to Parsi community to the Kodava community as well.

    Noting that Kodagu is a distinct district known for its rich forest cover, culture and geographical features, he said that Kodava culture, land and language was a unique one and the government should take appropriate measures for preserving this.

    The MP also stressed for unity among Kodavas to get all due government facilities.

    United Kodava Organisation (UKO) Convenor Kokkalemada Manju Chinnappa, in his address, said that the Talacauvery-Bengaluru padayatra, which was launched at Talacauvery on Sept. 18, has been undertaken to draw the attention of State and Union Governments towards their 18-point charter of demands aimed at development of Kodagu district and survival of Kodava race.

    The demands include: Bringing a new law on the Kerala-model to check conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes; Subsidy of Rs. 10,000 per acre for growing paddy; Suitable amendment for replacing Paisari with ‘Takkamaye’ in Section 6 of revenue land schedule; Stop forced eviction of small coffee growers; Drop the Union government’s move to facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in coffee cultivation and Legalisation (Sakrama) of lands encroached for growing coffee.

    As the padayatra reached Hinkal junction on Hunsur road yesterday, the office-bearers of Mysuru Kodava Samaja joined it and marched along with UKO members to Kodava Samaja in Vijayanagar I Stage where a stage programme was held later.

    The padayatra team, which stayed overnight at the Samaja, resumed its march this morning. The team will stay for the night at Baburayana Koppalu in Srirangapatna taluk on Mysuru-Benglauru road. The padayatra will culminate in Bengaluru on Oct.4.

    Karnataka Pradesh Hotel Owners Association President M. Rajendra, Mysuru Kodava Samaja President Moovera K.Kuttappa, Vice-President Balyamanda M. Nanaiah, Hon. Secretary Mandira P. Kalaiah, former President Mechanda M. Karumbaiah, former Secretary Kekada M. Belliappa and others were present.

    Ponjanda Lovely Appaiah compered the programme.

    MLC rues vanishing of Kodava race: MLC G. Madhusudan has regretted the dwindling number of Kodavas in their homeland, which gave hundreds of great warriors to the country.

    He was speaking at a programme organised at Kodava Samaja in Vijayanagar here yesterday, marking the arrival of ‘Jabhoomi Baalo-2015’ padayatra to the city.

    Appealing the Kodavas not to undergo family planning for the sake of survival of patriotic fervour in the country, Madhusudan expressed concern over the increasing tribe of selfish and anti-development families.

    Stating that the migration of Kodava families to cities has resulted in Kodavas losing touch with their rich culture, the MLC called upon all Kodavas to stay in their homeland and strive for enriching the Kodava culture besides reviving the spirit of patriotism.

    Noting that Kodagu district geographically resembles Shivalinga figure, the MLC said Kodagu is covered by rich forests and receives heavy rainfall.

    Pointing out that Kodagu is the birth place of Cauvery river, which flows through Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar districts and Tamil Nadu before joining the sea, the MLC said that the river is the lifeline for crores of people. He called upon the expatriate Kodava families to return to Kodagu and strive for Kodagu to regain its past glory.

    He also declared that he would extend full support for the ongoing agitation to demand development of Kodagu district and assured that he would raise issues concerning Kodagu district in the Legislative Council.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / September 28th, 2015

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    N. Dharmaraj, President and D.Vinod Sivappa, Vice - President

    N. Dharmaraj, President and D.Vinod Sivappa, Vice – President

    Mysuru :

    N. Dharmaraj was elected as the President and D.Vinod Sivappa as Vice- President of United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) for the year 2015-16 at the Annual General Meeting of UPASI held on Sept.24 at Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

    Dharmaraj has over 41 years of experience in plantation business, working with companies like Brooke Bond, Unilever etc. He is currently the Chief Executive and Whole-time Director of Harrisons Malayalam Ltd.

    Dharmaraj was Chairman of the UPASI Tea Committee and Chairman of the UPASI Commodities Exchange Limited. He was a member of the Tea Board of India and Founder-Convener of the Golden Leaf India Awards (TGLIA). He is currently a Member of Tea Council of South India constituted by the Tea Board as also a Member of the Core Committee of the Tea Board of India.

    Vinod Sivappa, son of former President of UPASI (late) D. Sivappa in the year 1970-71, hails from a coffee growing family for more than 160 years. Vinod Sivappa was on the Committees of Codagu Planters’ Association and also was the Chairman of the Karnataka Planters’ Association. He is involved in many sporting activities. He is a Director of many organisations and various companies, according to a press release from Ullas Menon, Secretary General, UPASI.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / September 27th, 2015

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    Review of Kaveri Ponnapa’s book “The Vanishing Kodavas”


    Title : The Vanishing Kodavas / Author : Kaveri Ponnapa / Pages : 360 / Price : Rs. 7,500 / Publisher: Eminence Designs Pvt. Ltd. [Order from www.thevanishingkodavas.com]

    New Light on Kodavas of Kodagu – 1

    People are interested in history because they want to know their roots; they want to know who they are; they want to know their progenitor. And with their physical features, colour and gait being different from their immediate neighbours, they want to know the why and how of it. The desire to know their ancestry becomes even more strong if their customs, costumes, culture, cuisine, language, songs of oral tradition and even Gods are different from those of others. The question arises if they could be of the land where they have been living from time immemorial or did they come from another part of this country or from another country traversing thousands of miles by land or sea due to historical reasons? War, pestilence or famine?

    The Kodavas of Kodagu district in Karnataka belong to this class of unique people who want to know. Hence, there is an abiding interest among the successive generations of Kodavas, even scholars, to know their ancestry, history of their land of hills and valleys with thick rain forests, criss-crossing rivers and streams, having very high rainfall for over four months in a year. They are the high-landers and hardy people — physically strong and daring at any task and in war.

    In retrospect, I myself being the son of that clan and soil, it can be said that these Kodavas lived on this land from the dim past to this day fighting all the time for survival with the nature and wild animals like tigers, elephants and vermins that destroyed their paddy fields and other crops; fighting the local chieftains of their own clans and the invaders from the neighbouring kingdoms till the geographical unity and political stability was attained when Kodagu (with Sulya and Puttur) became a kingdom under the Haleri Dynasty from 1600 to 1834 — 234 years.

    In between, there was an interregnum when Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan ruled Kodagu uneasily, under constant armed resistance from Kodava chieftains, for 11 years from 1780 to 1791 when Madikeri was renamed as Zaferabad.

    In a classic example of the saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” the Kodagu Rajahs cultivated British of the East India Company, who were engaged in fighting Tipu Sultan, a sworn enemy of Kodagu Rajahs. So Tipu’s enemy, the British, became the friend of Kodagu Rajahs. But alas, in a tragic play of history, the British were able to de-throne and deport Chikkaveera Rajendra Wodeyar in 1834 after being betrayed by the Rajah’s trusted Dewans Cheppudira Ponnappa and Apparanda Bopu. Despite the Rajah’s army successfully resisting the British at the other two fronts, at the Eastern stockade it was a meek, humiliating surrender by Dewan Apparanda Bopu with a party of 400 Kodavas at the present Kushalnagar to Col. Frazer (hence Kushalnagar was known as Frazer Town).

    The Dewan then “led the British troops back to Madikeri where the Union Jack was hoisted on 6th April 1834. The last battle for Kodagu was a sad betrayal,” writes Kaveri Ponnapa in her magnum opus of a book on Kodagu and Kodavas titled “The Vanishing Kodavas,” the book under review.

    However, let me submit a caveat here. The records indicate the young King Chikkaveera Rajendra was more into outdoor activity, ironically with visiting Englishmen, of hunting and camping leaving the matters of State in the hands of trusted and able Kodava Dewans and also a Dewan from his own caste Kunta Basava, an evil genius no doubt, and another Muslim Dewan, probably to neutralise the power of Kodava Dewans mentioned above. When the relation between the Rajah and the East India Company got strained on the question of extradition of fugitives and the Kodava Dewans realised the end result of an inevitable war, they counselled the King to negotiate peace. But, the King was adamant. The Kodava Dewans, in the circumstances, decided that ‘discretion was better part of the valour.’ The British had already defeated a more powerful Tipu Sultan than the Kodagu King and as for weapons of war, the Britishers had cannons which the Kodagu Rajah did not have. If only Chikkaveera Rajendra had negotiated peace, he could have continued in the throne like the Mysuru dynasty under the suzerainty of the British Company.

    Curiously, a large number of scholars and people, who have read the history of Kodagu written by many, are fed with information that shows the Haleri Kings, specially Doddaveera Rajah, Linga Rajah and the last Rajah, Chikkaveera Rajendra Wodeyar in poor light, as tyrants and mentally deranged towards the end of each one’s rule.

    The history of Kodagu commissioned by Doddaveera Rajah in 1807 known as “Rajendranama” and another by Linga Rajah known as “Hukumnama,” the land laws of 1812, can be verified to find out its veracity and the good administration delivered by these rulers. The secret, if the word can be used, of the Haleri Rajahs ruling Kodagu for so long, 234 years, is no doubt because they never interfered with the land holdings of Kodavas, their customs, culture and, in short, Kodavas’ way of life. And Kodavas in return served their Kings loyally till the ‘betrayal,’ for self-preservation of Kodagu and Kodavas, came in 1834.

    The proof of the Haleri Kings being good rulers is in the representation made to the British Government on 13th April 1834, just 7 days after the surrender, signed by 400 senior officials of Rajah’s Government, expressing their entire satisfaction with the Rajah’s rule and with grief requesting that the Rajah be allowed to remain in Kodagu.

    Kaveri Ponnapa writes, “Despite the fact that he had an infant son, Prince Chitra Shekara, when he was conducted out of his kingdom, no attempt was made by the British to restore Haleri rule by placing a Regent over Kodagu, as had been done in some States, including nearby Mysore.” One would wish the author had given more information on Prince Chitra Shekara. Pray whatever happened to him? Interestingly, the Rajah begot more children in exile — in captivity at Varanasi ! To jest, what else could he have done with nothing else to do !

    This book by Kaveri Ponnapa, based on 15 years of research, nearly 200 visits to Ainemanes (ancestral houses), historical locations, sacred places and interviews with elders in Kodagu, debunks many tendentious works on history and culture of Kodavas. The wealth of information, not so much on political history but on other aspects of Kodava life and culture, contained in the book The Vanishing Kodavas astonished me no end.

    The book is a treasure trove of many informations hitherto presented in a distorted manner or suppressed from us to justify British occupation of Kodagu. I am reminded of a great Nigerian proverb which says that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Let it be.

    It is, therefore, necessary for us to question the description of Chikkaveera Rajendra as a bad King in the eponymous novel by Masti Venkatesha Iyengar. No wonder there were protests and criticisms when Masti Venkatesha Iyengar was given Jnanpith Award for this book and when an attempt was made to produce a film-based on the book. ______________________________________

    New light on Kodavas of Kodagu – 2

    The book, The Vanishing Kodavas, however, does not answer the fundamental question: If not the natives of the land, where did the Kodavas come from? Many have ventured to address this question without any answer, leaving us in a sea of absurd speculations. One had tried to trace Kodavas’ origin to Rajasthan and parts of North India by drawing similarities between names of some clans there to the family (Okka) names of Kodavas. They also link the similarity in the distinct individual Kodava names like Muddappa, Muthappa, Machiah, Ponnappa, Somaiah, etc.

    Some have speculated that a breakaway army unit of Alexander-the-Great had trekked to Kodagu from North India looking for a safe haven. Some others speculate Arab descent finding strong similarities between the Arab cultures and social life and that of Kodavas — the headgears (red-check vastra, head scarf) worn while at work and on special occasions, the ornate gold or silver dagger held by the sash (chale) tied around the waist, the white one-piece knee-length upper garment etc., complete with other artifacts.

    Yet, some researchers on the origin of Kodavas opine Kodavas are Scythians, Eurasian nomads who landed in Kodagu. A 1398 Kannada dictionary says Kodavas are Mlenchas come from outside the country. Others have told us that Kodavas are Kurds, a hill-tribe of Arabia come here after a long journey by the sea, landing in Malabar coast of Kerala, then making an arduous journey to a safe hilly place inhabited sparsely by the local tribals — Kodagu. Well, if this is so, I doubt, the name Kodagu could not have been derived from the Tamil word ‘Kodimalenad’ — Hill Forest Land, an eponymous name as speculated in the book under review.

    Extending this kind of speculation a bit further to Kurds, one can say the name Kodagu might have come after these Kurds (pronounced Koords) occupied this land, suggesting it is the land of Kurds which name, in its corrupt form or with minor distortion in pronunciation, must have become Kodagu the land of Kurds, Kodavas. The English called Kodava as Coorg and in early Church records it is Kurg.

    To add to the confusion, of late, we have a Greek come to Kodagu making similar speculation — Mr. Antonios Vasileiadis. He says the customs of the people of Kodagu bear a striking resemblance to those of Ancient Greece. Can we connect this to the earlier speculation of Kodavas being the breakaway warriors of Alexander’s Army? 300 BC!

    The book also does not address two other important questions. One, the origin of Kodava language which is a dialect and the other, the origin of the name of each okka clan or family — like Ajjikuttira, Apparanda, Biddanda, Chowrira, Kambiranda, Nadikeriyanda etc. And so far, no one has answered these enigmatic questions including that of our origin. I guess these questions will remain riddles wrapped in mystery inside an enigma even as Kodavas may vanish in the next 100 or so years from their ancient land Kodagu, perhaps, leaving behind their land, language, okka names, personal names, traditional dress, customs etc., in short, the treasure chest of their hoary past. Thereafter, they can be seen or heard only in the digital library or in books like “The Vanishing Kodavas.” Which is why, this book is a wonderful Collector’s Item, specially for Kodavas.

    Is the title of the book prophetic? Time alone can say! UNESCO has already sounded the warning saying Kodava language is among the disappearing languages of the world. If so the people who speak the language may also disappear lost in a diaspora. And even as one reflects on the dismal future of this unique race under the sun, one will wonder how was it that these Kodavas whose number is 2.3 lakh (with 1.5 lakh living in Kodagu) survived for centuries as an ethnic people, practising a distinctive life found nowhere else in India or in the world. In a sense, it is providential that Kodavas survived so long in Kodagu in the absence of a religious or temporal head from their own blood-line to hold the flock together and bind them under a singular culture common to all Kodavas.

    The book bears the stamp of not only the scholarship of the author, the love of labour of a patriotic Kodavathi but also the tremendous research and leg-work that have gone into its making. It has between its 360 pages, 12 chapters devoted to specific subjects, 300 colour and sepia photographs of superb quality and of archival value, most helpful guide to a reader of this kind of a researched book. The glossary of Kodava words is exhaustive and descriptive to leave no doubt in the mind of a serious reader about the import of those Kodava words and names; the select bibliography authenticates what is researched and will help those who wish to write on Kodavas and Kodagu in future.

    Kaveri Ponnapa is beholden to so many who co-operated and helped her in writing this book. A grateful author recognises each one of them and also okkas acknowledging their help — proof of her deep sense of gratitude. I am sure in the next edition some more names will appear should she learn there are omissions! Index to a book of this kind can never be understated but here it is done with such meticulous care one is left wondering at the hard work by the team that put the book through production. Photo credits too are there which is as it should be.

    I must mention here the depth and sweep of her work of extraordinary research with just one example. It is about least of an item used by Kodavas to deserve a research. It is about a ceremonial walking stick, made of black wood, known as gejje thand, a waist high staff. Her research finds out that it is made from the male kari mara (botanical name Diospyros ebenum) decorated with strips of beaten silver and tiny bells. She writes in detail about its significance and power as spirit medium and more. I guess Kaveri Ponnapa does not seem to have left a single stone unturned in her research that concerned Kodava life and culture.

    At one point she mentions of the precepts delivered by an elder at the time of solemnising the marriage. Readers would wish a sample text of it was published. May be the next edition will find a place for it.


    New light on Kodavas of Kodagu – 3

    For those Kodavas, who have been opposing the Jamma tenure of land holding in Kodagu, an act which is self-defeating in the context of the need to keep their land for themselves and thereby their identity as a unique people, here is some food for thought from the book:

    “Since time immemorial the ownership of land has been the foundation of Kodava identity, and the thakkas and Haleri Rajahs, in their wisdom, made the Jamma lands inalienable, with reason.”

    Lewis Rice, writing in 1878, summed it up best, his words proving to be prophetic in today’s Kodagu: Hence the Coorgs who hold lands on Jamma tenure are prohibited from alienating them, a restriction which was in force in the time of Rajahs, and which is absolutely necessary in order to prevent all the land in the province from gradually falling under the ownership of settlers from the low country. And should the ownership of the soil, which rightly belongs to them as a nation, pass away from the Coorgs… the independence and self-respect of a fine race will be sacrificed…

    No wonder Britishers did not interfere with the land holdings in Kodagu. British did not also interfere with the law prohibiting slaughter of cattle and sale of beef that existed during the rule of Haleri Rajahs in Kodagu. I am one of the irrelevant majority of Jamma holding Kodavas, Gowdas, Mapillahs and others in Kodagu who agree with Rice and his warning.

    The beginning of the end of Kodagu and Kodavas was when Kodavas felt betrayed by their elected leaders. The book says, Cheppudira M. Poonacha, the then Chief Minister of Kodagu, a Kodava himself, went down in Kodava history as the man responsible for the merger of Kodagu with Karnataka in 1956.

    The fate of Kodagu and Kodavas was hermetically sealed by this unholy, sinister merger once and for all accelerating the ‘vanishing’ of Kodavas and Kodagu. According to Kaveri Ponnapa, this political move of merger “cost them (Kodavas) their independence, wrested the control of their land from their hands, severely depleted the natural resources and eroded the Kodava identity.”

    Now, after Kodava political leaders gave away Kodagu on a platter to Karnataka for their own selfish political ambitions, the Kodavas and Jamma land owners became victims of the new Land Revenue Act of Karnataka that is often used to keep them under constant threat of eviction from their land — Jamma, Bane, Paisari. Kodagu’s development suffered under Karnataka. The Revenue Department practically rubbished the land records under all pervasive corruption and favouritism. The roads were neglected. For example, Hunsur-Gonikoppa road had remained unmotorable for six years. Many private bus operators stopped service and car owners avoided this road. The high-tension power-line was drawn across Kodagu forests, paddy fields and coffee estates despite objections and agitations. There are more trees in coffee estates today than in the forests. The latest threat to their land holding comes from the UNESCO plan to declare major parts of Kodagu as Eco-Sensitive Zone and the controversial Dr. Kasturi Rangan report that will adversely impact 55 villages. That probably will be the last nail to the Kodagu coffin.

    A feeble effort is being made to overcome these dangers by Codava National Council (CNC), led by Nandineravanda Uthappa Nachappa demanding creation of a Kodava Autonomous Region, but there seems to be little hope as Kodavas are divided among themselves.

    Now, before I vanish from these columns, a few words about the author Kaveri Ponnapa whom I had the privilege of meeting along with her husband Kambeeranda Naresh Ponnapa, a big-time software industrialist in Bengaluru, at their house of unique architecture in Whitefield. There was very little about her in the book which says that she studied English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and took a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology in London. Like nature, she wants to remain half-revealed. Let us respect her sentiment but let me reveal that she is the daughter of Lt. Gen. B.C. Nanda, now settled in Kodagu.

    The book is too heavy to handle. It is more like a Coffee-Table Book in its style of page layout. The font size needs to be increased. Such small type is harsh on eyes. It is best to have this book in two volumes with photographs compatible only to the text, not to please individuals who might have assisted the author. The next edition needs to take these changes, nay the challenge, seriously to make it reader-friendly. Should the expensive art paper be of that thickness merely adding to the weight of the book?

    And finally, my most sincere thanks to Kaveri Ponnapa for giving us this pictorial book which will preserve for posterity the religious, social practices and agricultural activities, with keepsake photographs of Kodavas who are likely to join the ranks of Lost Tribes of the world.

    e-mail: kbg@starofmysore.com

    source : http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Abracadabra…..Abracadabra / by K.B.Ganapathy / September 26th, 2015

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    What would life be without spicy food, ice-creams, perfumes, fragrant flowers, late-night parties and alcohol? Ask Sunalini Menon, who swears by this regimen.

    No, she’s not a health freak or someone prone to allergies. She’s been practising abstinence for the sake of her passion, which is also her profession.

    Asia’s first and only woman professional in the field of coffee cupping (tasting), Sunalini has experienced the aroma of several thousands of coffee types and spent a considerable time in the fields. “I love ice-creams and soft drinks but they affect my taste buds. My profession requires them to be extremely sensitive. So, I steer clear of cold food items or beverages,” she said. The chief executive of Coffeelab, one of India’s largest coffee exporters, Sunalini spoke to TOI on the ocassion of Coffee Santhe, a three-day carnival hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath.

    Restraint and discipline are core attributes of a good coffee cupper. “It is essential to preserve the palate, the instrument vital for coffee tasting. We’re advised to avoid spicy food. Alcohol and smoking are a strict no no. Late nights and poor health can be a hindrance to the job,” she explained.

    Coffee cuppers have to perform regular tongue exercises not only to keep their taste buds active but also to pick up foreign flavours. “Cupping with experts from other parts of the world helps calibrate one’s potential and understand the coffee produce of other countries. One also needs to perceive through the eyes, nose and palate of other cuppers,” she said.


    Habituated to taking a sip and playfully swirling the liquid in her mouth before spitting, Sunalini said her job doesn’t allow her to swallow the coffee, however aromatic and delicious it be. “Coffee can have the distinct enzymatic flavours of apples, apricots, peaches and berries; sugar-browning flavours of chocolate, caramel, honey or those of spices like clove and pepper. It is an inborn acuity of taste, knowledge, experience, memory and good communication skills which help the cupper differentiate one flavour from another,” she said.

    Sunalini, who entered the male bastion decades ago, said her journey hasn’t been easy. “I wasn’t lucky enough to be handheld when learning the tricks of the trade. I had to learn on my own, especially the chemistry of the coffee bean. It took a long time for me to be accepted into the fold, but once there, you are in,” she said.

    Cupping as a Career

    There are certifications for coffee tasters issued by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). The SCAA issues two types of certificates. One is called the Licensed ‘Q’ grader and the other, the Licensed ‘R’ grader. The ‘Q’ grader licence is a certificate for proficiency in evaluating arabica coffees and the ‘R’ grader for proficiency in evaluating robusta coffees,” said Sunalini.

    She admitted that coffee tasting as a career could have some limitations.

    “To overcome them, one needs to perhaps complement tasting with other jobs such growing, roasting or marketing coffee,” she said.Coffee tasting is more of a passion; it may not help you financially, especially in the first 10 or 12 years. Credibility comes only through knowledge and experience,” Sunalini signed off.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Bengaluru / by Sreemoyee Chatterjee, TNN / September 26th, 2015

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    September 26th, 2015adminUncategorized
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