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Monday, 23 October 2017

Karnataka's legislature and the Vidhana Soudha (a chronology)



Vidhana Soudha, the largest state legislature and secretariat building in India, is spread over 60 acres. Known as the ‘people’s palace’, it is built of Bangalore granite and porphyry. 

Princely Mysore
Bangalore first became the capital of Mysore State in 1831. The Bangalore Fort Palace was made the administrative building. But, later, the palace partly fell in, was deemed unsuitable and thereafter demolished. Hence, in 1868, the administration was moved into the Public Offices building inside Cubbon Park. This two-storied, Grecian building, surrounded by verandahs, was later to be called the Attara Kacheri, meaning 18 offices in Hindi. The name came because Mysore had 18 administrative departments. The British transferred powers in the Mysore State to the Maharaja in 1881. The State headquarters was moved back to the city of Mysore. That year, C V Rungacharlu, the then Dewan of Mysore, founded the first Representative Assembly of British India in Mysore. Thereafter, Bangalore’s Attara Kacheri came to the High Court of Mysore. 
The Assembly had 144 members, to begin with, and comprised landowners and merchants. It would meet twice in session every year at Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore. In 1891, the first Assembly elections were held for citizens above the age of 18. The Legislative Council was founded in 1907 with the view that it would assist the Government of Mysore in making laws and regulations. In 1923 the Legislative Council's strength was fixed at 50.  The term of each assembly member was fixed at three years.  While the semi-annual Assembly sessions continued to be held in Mysore, the budget session came to be held in Bangalore’s (K P Puttanna Chetty) Town Hall.
On August 15, 1947, Mysore was made part of the Indian Union. Bangalore became the capital of Mysore State, once again. K Changalaraya Reddy was the first chief minister of Mysore State. The Assembly was held in the Library Hall of Attara Kacheri. This was continued until a separate hall was built on the third floor of the same building. The Council was also held on the third floor. The joint session of the two houses would be held in the Town Hall by the Rajpramukh, the Maharaja of Mysore. 
The need was felt for a separate and more spacious building. In 1948, the government wanted the chief engineer to construct a suitable office building. In 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect. Under the new constitution, the first Mysore Legislative Assembly was formed. It had 99 elected members and one nominated member. Mysore came to have a bicameral legislature, with two houses: the Vidhana Sabha lower house (Legislative Assembly) and the Vidhana Parishad upper house (Legislative Council).

Symbol of democracy
The 'House of Legislature' was first planned and decided by the KC Reddy cabinet. B R Manickam, a government architect and chief engineer, prepared the design. It was to have an Assembly hall for 200 members and a gallery for 500 visitors. It was also meant to accommodate a joint session of 261 members. In April 1951, plans for constructing the House of Legislature were ready. Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone on July 13, 1951. 
A stone plaque,  now near the main staircase, was installed to mark PM Nehru's visit. A huge procession went out until Town Hall to welcome the then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.  In February 1952, the plans and estimates for the roof of the auditorium were conveyed by the legislature secretary to the government. In April 1952, Kengal Hanumanthaiah succeeded KC Reddy as the chief minister.
Hanumanthaiah dismissed the first design citing that the design was like that of a plain, American building. Meanwhile, members of a Russian delegation who were taken around the city stated that all the notable buildings in Bangalore were by Europeans. They further enquired whether there were no buildings that were designed and built indigenously. Subsequently, Hanumanthaiah travelled across the country to gain ideas on how to build an administrative structure. He started preparations for a building which combined the two legislative houses, the offices of ministers and government secretaries, a library, archive rooms, party rooms, etc. Funds were allotted in the 1952 budget and the work began in the same year.
Manickam led a team of engineers and architects from the state public works department. As many as 5,000 people were employed as unskilled labourers and almost all of them were convicts. Over 1,500 chisellers, masons and wood-carvers were also employed. The result was the neo-Dravidian Vidhana Soudha legislative building, completed in 1956. Later, President  Dr  S. Radhakrishnan came to inspect the place.  
On November 1, 1956, Coorg (Kodagu), as well as the Kannada-speaking parts of Bombay, Hyderabad and Madras were integrated with the old kingdom of Mysore to form the new Mysore State. This resulted in the elected assembly seats increasing from 99 to 208. The first sitting of the Legislative Assembly in the Vidhana Soudha happened on December 19, 1956. In 1973, the then chief minister D Devaraj Urs renamed Mysore State as Karnataka.

Elaborate patterns
Vidhana Soudha has 172 rooms, the largest among them is the chief minister’s office. The front portion has a 20-metre central dome with the four-headed lion capital of Maurya Emperor Ashoka above it. The main foyer has eight columns. Enclosed balconies, each called a jharokha, a traditional Rajasthani feature, are seen jutting forward from the walls. The top of the building has the motto ‘Government work is God’s work’ engraved upon it in Kannada and English. 
According to the Karnataka Shilpa Kala Academy, the Vidhana Soudha domes were designed by the Mysore royal family’s sculptor Sri Siddalinga Swamy and his son, Nagendra Stapathi. The pillars and the arches were chiselled by Nagendra Stapathi and his disciples. 
Floral designs, ornamental motifs and geometric designs decorate the walls and ceilings. Inspired by Dravidian temple art, the lotus and other floral patterns are distinct and have not been repeated. The inner passages also have floral designs. The wooden doors have fine details. Some of the pillars are of different colours. Most of the chisellers employed were highly skilled and were from Soraba and Sagara regions. Porphyry has also been used along with granite. Different coloured granite stones such as the Magadi pink and the Turuvekere black have been used.

The Building
The northern wing has a ground and three upper floors. The southern wing has a cellar floor, a ground floor and three upper floors. The central wing has a banquet hall on the ground floor and the Legislative Assembly Hall above it.
The Legislative Assembly Hall can seat 254 members and with some adjustments, it can accommodate 100 more members. Its visitors’ gallery has 500 seats. Teakwood panels enclose the hall. The ceiling is curved and is made up of acoustic material. Uniform illumination lighting is provided in order to avoid shadows. Ventilation is provided by an evaporative cooling system. The Cabinet room has a door made of sandalwood. The Speaker’s chair is made of Mysore rosewood. Every member has separate microphones and earphones whose master control is with the Speaker.  The Legislative Council Hall can accommodate 88 members. Its gallery can have 250 visitors. The Banquet Hall has an 800-seat capacity. The Secretariat accommodates ministers, secretaries and general staff.
With all these unique features, Vidhana Soudha is not just an epitome of democracy, but also an architectural wonder. The building is illuminated during the evenings on Sundays and public holidays. Entry is prohibited to the general public.  
In 2005 Chief Minister S. M. Krishna built the Vikasa Soudha as an annexe to the Vidhana Soudha. On 30th April 2016, an underground metro station was opened near Vidhana Soudha. This is named after Dr B. R. Ambedkar. It was constructed by means of carefully blasting the underlying rocks without disturbing the Vidhana Soudha and  Attara Kacheri premises. Karnataka has got 225 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and 75 Members of the Legislative Council () today.

Celebrations
On October 25 and 26, this year, a two-day state celebration is being held to commemorate the diamond jubilee of the Vidhana Soudha. President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint session of the Karnataka Legislature on October 25th. His 90-minute speech is on the Vidhana Soudha and Karnataka's contribution to the nation.  
Families of the first three Chief Ministers of Mysore - K. C. Reddy, Kengal Hanumanthaiah and Kadidal Manjappa will be honoured. Several people will receive the ‘Lifetime Achievement Awards’ for their contributions towards the development of the State.
Girish Kasaravalli’s documentary on the Vidhana Soudha and T. N. Seetharam’s documentary on the Karnataka Legislature will be screened. Master Kishan, former child artiste and director, will produce a 3D mapping and virtual reality show on the Vidhana Soudha. This will give viewers a 360-degree view of the structure. Grammy Award winner Ricky Kej and his team will present a musical symphony. The PWD will wash and renovate the Vidhana Soudha and also spend Rs.3.5 crore on the lighting alone.

The people's palace
Mookonda Kushalappa, Oct 24, 2017, 0:00 IST


(Tomorrow is the two day Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Vidhana Soudha.)
Online version : 
Mobile web version : 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

REMEMBERING MAJ. MUTHANNA

By Mookonda Nitin Kushalappa
CoorgNews.in
MAY 31, 2017

Major Mangerira C. ‘Vinod’ Muthanna was an army officer who guarded India’s frontiers in the Kashmir valley against cross-border terrorists. He was born in 1964 in Chettimani village, near Bhagamandala town, Madikeri taluk in Kodagu. Joining the Officer’s Training Academy in Chennai in 1984, he was commissioned into the army the following year. He first served in Jammu and Kashmir (1985-1991), then in Punjab (1991-1993), next in Arunachal Pradesh (1993-1996), later in Bangalore (1997-1999) and finally again in Jammu and Kashmir (1999-2000).
 Mangerira Muthanna statueDuring his 15 years’ tenure he rose from the position of a Second Lieutenant to that of a Major. He was part of the 5th Sikh Light Infantry unit,  Rashtriya Rifles. In the year 2000, Major Muthanna was posted at Khanabal in Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir. This remote army base was however near Srinagar and along the main National Highway of Kashmir. Under constant attack from terrorists, it was the army’s responsibility to guard the civilians and the infrastructure around the camp.
On an eventful day, the 12th of January that year, four Lashkar-e-Toiba militants arrived in a Maruthi Omni van, at around 6 in the evening. Armed with AK47s, grenades and rocket launchers, they forced themselves into the barracks and began to fire indiscriminately. But the Jawans returned fire and stopped the moving vehicle. One militant was promptly shot dead and another was wounded by the soldiers. However, the remaining two escaped unseen into a small, two-storey building nearby.
Major Muthanna informed his Commanding Officer about the situation. The attack had stopped for a while but the militants’ location within the camp was unknown. Upon the CO’s instructions the Major had the area sealed and searched. The militants were discovered in that building, which was across the road. It had only one entry-point and a stairway. Two jawans then entered the building in order to capture the militants. But they were shot at and cornered.
At that moment Major Muthanna decided to risk his life in order to save his men. He quickly entered the building after them. While he provided cover to the two injured jawans, they were taken away to safety. In the meantime he managed to shoot dead one of the two militants. But in the process he was fatally wounded himself. He sustained a bullet wound on his right side below the hips. A grenade hurled at him had exploded in his face, again on the right, and badly injured him. Seven hours had flown by since the militants’ arrival. The time was 1.30 in the midnight. The Major had lost consciousness by then.
The two Jawans who were undergoing treatment had informed the others that Major Muthanna was fine when they parted. The Army had fired upon the building in order to save the Major trapped within. The remaining militant pretended to surrender and was to be taken away. Before he was to be disarmed an interrogation took place. It was then that he began to fire again at the soldiers from inside the building. The soldiers shot back at him. He was killed but not before he removed the pin of a grenade and held on to it while dying. His intention was to blow up anybody who would lift his corpse.
The building was taken by the army at 3.30, in the wee hours of the morning. Meanwhile the Major, aged 36, succumbed to his injuries. His corpse was found inside the structure. The alert soldiers became aware of the unexploded grenade. They were able to prevent any further damage to themselves from the probable explosion. The terrorist’s final plan was hence thwarted.
Lives of civilians and soldiers were saved by Major Muthanna’s courageous deed. He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously. This military decoration, an equivalent of the Vir Chakra, was for his bravery and self-sacrifice, beyond the call of duty, during an enemy attack in times of peace.
Major M. C. Muthanna Marg (road), Major M. C. Muthanna Army Goodwill High School / Public School and a recreation hall named after him, all three in Khanabal in Jammu and Kashmir, were inaugurated by the Indian Army. Manjunath Acharya of Somwarpet made the sculpture of him which was unveiled near the Town Hall at Madikeri in 2010.


Men of valour and courage

Men of valour and courage
By Mookonda Nitin Kushalappa,
Deccan Herald, Spectrum, Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Boad Festival


Published in the Spectrum, Deccan Herald, April 18th, 2017 (Time to soak in the revelry)
Go to link :
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/606871/time-soak-revelry.html


















Original Draft :




Every year, during the months of April and May, different villages in Kodagu celebrate an interesting festival called Boad namme. Usually these celebrations are associated with shrines of Bhadrakali. Residents of Chembebelloor (also called Chembebeliyur), Bilugunda and other villages roister around their respective temples on different days.


The observances, however, begin with a stringent period called Pattani, when a number of foods (including those cooked in oil, using coconuts or non vegetarian), and certain common activities (such as cutting coconuts within the house), are prohibited.


The revelry that follows has boys and men wear various guises and dance around the village. During that night and the following day, these performers masquerade accompanied by musicians who mostly play percussion. Going from one house to another in the village they bring vehicles on the roads to a brief pause.


Some of the entertainers participate in Band Kali, where they have mud smeared all over their clothes, heads, arms and legs. Some others, the Puli Vesha (tiger guise) performers, wear shorts and have their bodies painted in tiger skin patterns. When money is thrown at them they stoop down in impossible angles and with much care pick up the notes with their mouths instead of their hands. Many other enactments, including those by cross dressing males, are performed as well.


Chembebelloor

The Chembebelloor Bhadrakali is west facing and there is a small Mahadeva shrine inside the temple. One performer carries the moga, a parasol with a mask upon it, of Bhadrakali and performs the theray. A theray, a sacred dance ritual by costumed dancers who emulate spirit deities, is organised at the shrine. During the day of the Kudure aatta (horse play), teenaged boy representatives wear horse shaped cane frames around them. One horse performer comes from each of the three keri (hamlets) of Chembebelloor.


According to Coluvanda Jappu, Chembebelloor village comprises of three keri : Podakote, Podikeri and Nadikeri. The villagers and the performers from each of the three keri all gather in the ambala, a public gathering place, in the centre of the village.


We were guests of Uncle Suresh Subbaiah's extended family in Chembebelloor last year. There was one performer, in black rags and a tin over his head, who called himself a bear. There was another who came guised as 'Black Money', dressed in a black robe and with money notes strung around his neck. Others included those in various priestly garbs; some of them came as saffron clad Sannyasi monks while one man came dressed as a Padri. Last time's attraction, however, was a set of men who dressed up as Spartans, in purple chitons and hoplite helmets with red coloured mock horsehair tufts on top.


Folk singers from the Kundera and other families paid a visit. They sang the mane paat, a song in praise of the resident family visited, as they did in each house, while they struck on drums that they carried. John Napier, an Australian ethnomusicologist, was also present in the village to record the event.

Later we went to the temple yard where we sat and watched with the rest of the villagers. Some villagers with leafy twigs kept in their shirt collars entered the temple at the head of procession, as per tradition. All the actor and musician performers entered the shrine after them.

Bonda

The Bhadrakali temple of Bilugunda is in what was the village of Bonda and now between the Bilugunda and Nalvathokkal villages. It is south facing and has two entrances: one leads to the south and the other to the east. During the Bilugunda Boad namme, the people from Bilugunda enter from the east while the people from Nalvathokkal enter from the South.


One year the dand theray, or two theray, happens and the next year the naal theray, or four theray, happens in Bonda. During the dand theray, as in last year, Bhadrakali and her sister Karikali are impersonated while during the naal theray the two daughters of Karikali, one of them being incapable of speech, are also emulated. The Bonda theray performers dress in white panches (sarongs) around which are tied red skirts that are held up by canes. Upon each of their white turbaned heads they hold up flat wooden framed white umbrellas each of which have flowers and a metal mask of the fanged goddesses. At the back of this parasol hangs a red cloth.


The chief oracle wears a white panche, is independent of the theray and is called a Thiralekara.
One horse performer comes from Bilugunda and one from Nalvathokkal. The nine extended families and eighteen houses of Bilugunda take turns every year to have a teenaged boy become the horse performer and a younger boy dress as a woman. Traditionally the horse and the woman performances happened on separate days but now due to time constraints they are being combined to happen on the same day.


The Bilugunda horse performer last year came from my paternal great grandmother's Madappanda clan house. Mandepanda Dali and other folk singers sat within the Madappanda house and sang the Dudi paat as some of us listened. Last year's Nalvathokkal performer belonged to my maternal great grandmother's Bonda Mukkatira family.


The horse performers wore white coloured turbans, long shirts, trousers and horse frames. They were accompanied by a procession comprising of their respective family and village members. A Thiralekara walked before each performer while another man carried a native Oide Katti war-knife and walked beside him. Two other men carried dudi drums and sticks. A young girl carried a lighted oil lamp on a plate.


A small boy from Bilugunda, who, as an exception, was from the Iynanda family, was dressed in a simple red sari. In his hands were held a mirror and a betel leaf and he walked behind the horse performer. A woman of the house accompanied him in order to help him with the dress if required. Likewise there was another young boy from Nalvathokkal as well.


Both horse performers came and stood before the shrine in front of the fire altar. Then they raced twice on fallow fields, once in Bilugunda to the east of the temple and the second time in Nalvathokkal to the west of the temple. Once they finished the races they returned to their starting points, by walking rapidly backwards each time. Meanwhile the two small boys who dressed as women were made to stand on either side of the temple door. In Bilugunda there were some performers who dressed up as army men and some as Yakshagana dancers.















Bisu Changrandi (Edmyaar Ond)

EDMYAAR OND IS THE KODAVA NEW YEAR

By Mookonda Nitin Kushalappa

(Part of the debate series Are Kodavas Hindu which was initiated by Palanganda T. Bopanna, author and journalist)

Edmyaar Ond (the first day of the Kodava month of Edmyaar), is the New Year for the Kodavas. This year, the day falls on April 14. It marks the commencement of the Kodava calendar and the agricultural cycle in Kodagu. On this day prayers are said and cattle are yoked and made to plough the paddy fields.

Bisu Changrandi, the Kodava New Year’s day, corresponding to Vishu in Kerala and Vaisakhi in North India, is observed in mid-April. Also called Edmyaar Ond, Bisu commences when the sun seems to enter the first Zodiac sign of Aries.

Kodavas follow the solar calendar, which was the same as the Tulu, the Malayalam and the Tamil calendars, although the month names differed. While Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada followed the solar calendar, the rest of Karnataka followed the lunar calendar. The months of this lunar calendar begin and end with a new moon.

There is a reason as to why Kodavas now celebrate Ugadi and not Edmyaar Ond. The Rajas of Kodagu (c.1600 – 1834) came from the Shimoga region to Haleri in Kodagu. They followed the Hindu lunar calendar and implemented it in Kodagu for all administrative purposes during their reign. Their chief festivals were Ugadi, Shivarathri and Ayuda Pooja (Dasara). Thus these Hindu festivals were popularised in Kodagu.

Ugadi, when Bevu-Bella (neem leaves and jaggery) is eaten and mango leaves are hung upon doors, also happened to be a major festival in neighbouring Mysore. The event is showcased well by the present-day Kannada media. The influence of the neighbours and of the media has increased the popularity of the festival. As Kodavas moved out of Kodagu to live in the cities, Edmyaar Ond, observed in the fields, is no longer celebrated by them. The disappearance of paddy fields and oxen has led to the further neglect of the festival by Kodavas. Therefore, the significance of Edmyaar Ond faded while Ugadi gained prominence. Presently Kodava political outfits have been trying to popularise Edmyaar Ond in Kodagu once again.


The months of the Kodava calendar and their corresponding Indian zodiac signs are : Edmyaar (ram), Kadyaar (bull), Adare (twins), Kakkada (crab), Chingyaar (lion), Kanyaar (maiden), Tholyaar (scales), Birchyaar (scorpion), Dalmyaar (archer), Malyaar (crocodile), Kumbyaar (water bearer) and Minyaar (fish).

My article translated into the Kodava language by Poomale weekly (April 19th, 2017 issue) ....


Disclaimer :
I personally observe three new year days annually (these speak of my cultural influences) :
1. January 1st, the Western New Year
2. Yugadi, the Kannada Indian Lunar New Year in March and
3. Bisu Changrandi, the Kodava Indian Solar New Year in April

A temple feast (keywords : Arapattu Bhagwathy temple)



Original Draft :

There are a number of village temple festivals as well in Kodagu. The major festivals are the Bhagwathy namme and the Boad namme, associated with the Mother goddess temples. While the first is celebrated in the Bhagwathy temples the second is celebrated in the Bhadrakali temples. These happen at different times in different village temples.


Bhagwathy namme

I attended as a guest of my uncle Mukkatira Roy and cousin Ashok. Traditionally Arapattu village had fifty families and Poddavadi village had ninety families. The Arapattu Bhagwathy temple is supported by the villagers of Arapattu and Poddavadi, known as Dand Keri, or two hamlets. In the past, the Bhagwathy and the Vishnu Murthy shrines of this region used to be managed by the Mukkatira family of the Arapattu village, as it is said that the temples were on their lands. But since some decades ago the management is by a village committee.


Nerpanda Chitra member of the Arapattu Bhagwathy temple committee was supposed to manage the festival affairs but since there was a death in his family he didn't, as per custom. In his stead another member of the village temple committee, Mukkatira Changari, presided. Mukkatira Changari had this to say on the last day of the feast, “From the seventh until the eleventh day of the Fish month (Minyaar or Pisces), every morning and evening, dance and song is conducted in the name of the goddess, special light arrangements are done, people come for the Darshan and offer money, flowers and tilak of sandalwood paste are distributed and then finally everyone disperses home.


On the seventh of the month of the fish, the villagers get together and observe a special fast. Fines for deviations from ritual observances are paid and the main Puja is held in the evening each day. A temple priest carries the idol upon his head and a dance occurs. On the ninth of the month, the astrologers meet the villagers at the temple in the evening. Then they all go to the shrine of Mandana Murthy. On the tenth day, every family from the two villages, brought fine rice on the backs of the oxen and presented it to the goddess.


Today on the eleventh of the fish month, at four in the afternoon, the two villages come together, took part in the goddess' dance and song and took the money offerings. Then afterwards, we the villagers pay any fines for deviations from ritual observances and go down to the stream along with the priest dancer where the idol is bathed. After the decorations and the main puja, flowers and the tilak are distributed, we have dinner and we disperse.”


On the finale day of the week long festival, lunch was offered at the temple. A member of the temple priest's family wore the priestly robes and carried the Bhagawathy idol, called the thadamb, upon his head. Bidderianda Satish, a designated native called the Thiralekara, wore the traditional white Kuppya Chele costume and danced the thirale ('whirl') before the idol. He also behaved as an oracle, answering to the devotees queries.


Late in the afternoon, the idol was taken down, across the fields and by devotees on foot, to the stream to be washed. Bisi Bele bath was offered to the accompanying people. Then the idol was brought back and taken around the temple. While taking the idol around the temple the carrier also danced on his feet, all the while holding the thadamb upon his head. After this coconuts hung up in the air are shot at with guns. Finally the priests served a vegetarian feast for the devotees. Dr. John Napier, an Australian ethnologist and guest of Balyameederira Subramani of Arapattu, recorded the events of the last day.


Temple history

According to Kanniyada Prakash, secretary of the Arapattu Bhagwathy temple, “The Bhagwathy goddess came to Kodagu from Soli, in Kerala, accompanied by her assistant gods, Mandana Murthy and Vishnu Murthy, along with my Kanniya family, who are astrologers, the Banna people, the Maleya people and the Pale people. The Kanniya were given farm land and settled in Arapattu. They perform the ceremonies at the Mandana Murthy shrine. The anji kutt murthy (five spirits) and the patt kutt patala (ten protectors) are also given place at the shrine.”


Normally wherever a temple was built for this Bhagawathy a shrine was also dedicated to Vishnu, in the Vishnu Murthy form, and his five companion spirits. The five spirits Anji Koot, are also called the Kootali, bodyguards or companions, of Vishnu Murthy. They are Kutti Chatta, Kala Bhairava, Kari Baala, Kuliya, also known as Gulika, and Nuchchute. Each of them have some peculiarities.


According to the Pattole Palame , the worship of Choli Povvadiamme (Soli Bhagwathy) in Kodagu was first established in Kirundad village, then in Arapattu and next in Kokeri. Thereafter the worship was begun in several other villages of the region as well. Three individuals find mention as having assisted the worship, an astrologer Movayi Kaniya and two shamans, Anata Banna and Manat Maleya, who settled in Arapattu, Podavada and Kirundad respectively. The Pattole Palame is a compilation of the folk songs of Kodagu by Nadikerianda Chinnappa. Published in Kannada in 1924, it was translated by his grandchildren Bovverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa into English.


In the past a folk hero Kayyandira Appayya of Arpattu and his successors, chiefs of the Kayyandira and the Bidderianda families, would wear the white Kuppya Chele and be carried in a palanquin to the Arapattu Bhagwathy temple during this festival. The practise was however stopped many years ago.


It is said that once Kullachanda Chondayya of Ammathi was the undefeated warrior champion of Kodagu. He received tribute obtained from the regular share people gave to the village temples. But one day Kayyandira Appayya, a young boy at that time, challenged him to a duel. In this Appayya outwitted Chondayya by throwing mud into his eyes. When the warrior was momentarily stunned, Appayya slew him. Thereafter Kayyandira Appayya and his successors received the title of Periya Moli.


Published in the Spectrum, Deccan Herald, February 7th, 2017 (A unique temple festival) 





Sunday, 29 January 2017

Of Gods and men (The story of Igguthappa)


Go to link (coorgtourisminfo.com) :
PADI IGGUTHAPPA TEMPLE DEDICATED TO RAIN AND HARVEST GOD OF COORG

Beliefs

Many theories abound about the origins of humans. Scriptures claim that all the human race descended from one intelligently designed man, call him Swayambhuva Manu, call him Adam, call him what you might. Likewise Science would let you know otherwise. Some scholars claim that the human species gradually developed in a single place, others would claim that the species evolved simultaneously at more than one place.

However if you would ask me what I believe in, I would say the theory which states that humans evolved in Africa and then spread out across the globe over several tens of thousands of years. They made their way through the Horn of Africa, then into Eurasia, populating West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Europe, besides Africa itself. They also moved further into Australia, the Americas, Oceania and every other island.

Mythologies across the globe have had common origins. A well known example is the Flood Myth. Accordingly, a great deluge comes upon the earth which would wipe out the human race. But one man would survive this calamity and his descendants would repopulate the earth. To some he was Vaisvata Manu, to some others he was Gilgamesh and to many others he was Noah. Another such a popular legend is the gods versus giants battle. While in the Hindu Puranas the Devas beat the Asuras, in Greek mythology the Olympians defeat the Titans.

The foggy Igguthappa (Malma) hill as seen from the Padi temple

Origins

Likewise there is an obscure belief in seven supernaturals, revered in different pockets across Asia. Invariably these seven were six men and one women. To the Babylonians these seven were rulers of the heavenly bodies. The six gods were known as Nanna the Moon, Utu the Sun, King Merodach of Jupiter, Ninurta the war god Saturn, Nabu the Mercury god and Nergal the fire god Mars while the goddess was their relative Inanna, the goddess of Venus. Interestingly there is a modern West Asian people who believe in seven angels, six of them male and one female.

Similarly an ancient Hindu pattern existed in the Kodagu hills of South West India. This region has a pantheon of local gods and goddesses. According to the local mythology, seven children gods of Kodagu came from across seas to land on the Malabar coast. From there they moved inland to live among the Coorgs.

According to his commemoration song, Igguthappa was one of six brothers and a sister, reincarnations of various deities. Igguthappa is revered as Lord Subramani incarnate, the war-god who commands snakes as well. These seven are analogous to the seven ancient planet deities of West Asia. But the planetary significance has long been forgotten.

The first among the seven West Asian gods was the Moon god, the chief of the West Asian pantheon. The crescent moon is a common motif among the Kodavas, the children of the legendary Chandra Varma (Moon Warrior). The crescent is represented as the Kokkethathi necklace pendant and found upon the peechekatti war-knife. This Kodava crescent is akin to the symmetric, convex Chandra-Bindu (moon-and-dot) of the Hindus rather than the Islamic Crescent which is depicted in profile.

The second of the original Seven was the Sun god, again the Sun was revered by the Kodavas. The third was called King; while to the Babylonians he was Merodach, the King of the gods, representing Jupiter or Zeus, to the Coorgs he was Bendru Kolurappa, the Emperor Marajendra or King of kings Rajarajeshwara.

The fourth god was the war god, known as Saturn Ninurta and as Igguthappa, a form of Subramani, the Hindu war-god. Saturday the day of Saturn is sacred to the Coorgs. Mercury and Mars have not played as significant a role as the other planet gods. The last was a goddess, called Venus, Inanna or Ponnangalatamme.

In Kodagu, while the river goddess Kaveri is called the Kula devi or patron goddess, the hero god Igguthappa is venerated as the Mahaguru, or chief preceptor. Mahaguru Igguthappa is also called and invoked as the Wodeya (ruler) and ajja (elder).

Song of the Seven

Hills seem to naturally inspire worship hence some of them have shrines. The chief temple of Igguthappa is at Padi, near the small town of Kakkabe. The Igguthappa Betta of this area is called the dwelling of Igguthappa. This is the centre of Puttari, the annual harvest festival of Kodagu, since Igguthappa is especially remembered during that time of the year. He has the rights over the new crop.

The story of the Yevva Makka Debuva (seven children gods) is a folk story which every Kodava has heard as a child. Legend has it that Igguthappa and his siblings came to earth for the good of the people. There are slight variations to the legend of Igguthappa and his six siblings. But the most common one will be narrated here. Seven demigods, six brothers and one sister, emerged from a large conch shell on a distant land across seven seas of the celestial milky ocean of Hindu folklore. They arrived as children upon the Northern Malabar coast. They came to be revered by the people despite being mere children because they had a divine aura about them.

1. The seven children gods cross the seven seas upon a conch shell (own sketch)

At first they came to the meadow and village of Madayi in the Malayala region (Kerala) where they lived for a while. Then they moved to the vicinity of the town of Tali Parambu. They halted in the nearby village of Kanjirath (Kanarat). This village on level ground had priests, drummers, flowers, banana trees and cattle. Pleased with the place the eldest brother, a reincarnation of Lord Vaidyanath, settled down there and became known as Kanjirathappa.

Kanjirathappa sent his younger siblings further inland. But the second brother, a local manifestation of Sri Krishna, settled only a little distance away, at Thiruchambara, a village which he deemed suitable, and hence came to be known as Thiruchambaratappa. The third brother, a reincarnation of Lord Rajarajeshwara, came to live in Bendre Kolur, another appropriate village, and became known as Bendru Kolurappa or Marajendra (King) Kolurappa. Even today these three temples, in and around Tali Parambu town, are known as brother temples in Kerala.

In Kodagu
After the elder three siblings settled down in the Malabar itself the remaining four siblings moved on towards Kodagu. The four siblings were armed with bows and arrows and carried an earthen pot.
The Brahmagiri hill jungles of the Western Ghats that border Kodagu on the south and the west pose as a natural barrier between Karnataka and Kerala. They are home to several species of flora and fauna.

2. Kanjirathappa tries to send his siblings towards Kodagu (own sketch)

The four deities crossed the Western ghats en route into Kodagu. They passed Yermakutte poley (rivulet), Thondangund mott (hillock), Kannadi parambu (meadow), Irthkad poley, Manat parambu and other such landmarks towards Payyavur from where they moved on further ahead. They stopped and faced Baithur (today known as the villages of Vayathur and Ulikkal in Kerala and near Iritty town in Kannur district) to pay obeisance to Lord Baithurappa. Baithurappa was the guardian deity of Kodagu, known to protect the region at its southwestern entrance. The Baithurappa temple is called as Vayathur Kaliyar Mahadeva temple and is in Ulikkal in the present-day. The gods then crossed Udumbe poley, Eltha Kundu mott, Adake theri bakka (gateway) and entered Padi Thora (mountain pass).

They had entered Nalnaad in Kodagu. Nalnaad, called Nalknad in Kannada, comprises of the four naad (counties) of Padi, Noorambada, Nelji and Perur and is in Western Kodagu. When they reached the edge of the Brahmagiri hill range of the Western Ghats they had a panoramic view of the land before them. Lead by Igguthappa the eldest among them, they arrived near a hill called Malma Betta. Near this hill was the Ambala poley stream. In the shadow and at the foot of this hill was the prominent village of Kakkabe.

The four gods decided to have an archery contest among themselves. Igguthappa's arrow fell far but his sister's arrow went furthest. The brothers grew jealous and decided to teach her a lesson later on. However for now they were hungry.

Thangamma (sister), please cook food for us” the brothers requested their younger sister.

But the sister fell into a quandary. “How can I cook food without a fire or rice?” she asked.

Then Igguthappa, who was also the god of harvest and rains, replied, “I will provide you with rice, but on the one condition that you must cook it without fire”

“I will do so” agreed the sister who later added, “Only if all of you eat it without salt”. The brothers conceded to this. Igguthappa brought an earthen pot of rice before her.

These siblings were on private family land. They were chided severely by Ummavva of that family for taking leaves off their banana plants. These banana leaves were to be used to eat meals upon. Igguthappa cursed the family property to henceforth not yield any plantain.

Nambimada Muthanna was the Pattedar (elder) of Ummavva's family. Muthanna came to hear of the siblings camping upon his property and hence rushed to the place. When he came to know that they were divine people he paid them salutations. Igguthappa thereafter called Muthanna as Parada (searched), as he had searched for them. Muthanna was to eventually become the ancestor of the Pardanda family.

They came to a meadow in Naaladi. The sister saw a cow, which belonged to the farmer Muthanna, grazing nearby. She milked the animal and poured the milk into the pot of rice. Meanwhile, the brothers fell asleep under the boughs of a tree. The goddess took the pot and buried it under the hot sands upon the bank of the Ambala stream. When the rice got cooked she took it out and called the brothers for lunch. The four ate till they were full.

The fifth brother Palurappa, who detested the food, took some of the remaining rice and playfully flung it into the air. As it fell to the ground he spoke “Look how the hail stones fall from the sky”. Thangamma got angry when she saw how the food was being wasted. She took up the cooking ladle and hit him heavily on the back. “Look how the thunder strikes in the monsoons” she said. All the siblings laughed together.

Hence even today when the people of Kodagu look up to the skies during a hail storm, they point at the hail stones and the thunderbolts. “See how the god has strewn food! See how his sister beats him!” they exclaim. The face of Palurappa's idol in his temple is turned left to show the impact of that noisy blow.

Ponnangalatamme

Later, the four deities chewed upon betel leisurely. They spat out the betel unto their palms and compared whose chewed betel was reddest. Afterwards, the brothers flung the betel behind their necks.

3. Ponnangalatamme follows Igguthappa's arrow (own sketch)

But the sister who liked to imitate her brothers presumed that they had put the chewed betel back into their mouths. So she did what she thought was likewise. The brothers who noticed this said it was very unmannerly to do so. They protested, they called it a disgusting act. It was commonly told that such an action, eating what was spat out, would make one lose their caste. They consulted with their three elder brothers who decreed that the sister would have to be separated from them. She wept bitterly upon hearing this and so Igguthappa pitied her. He decided that she was to live near where he lived so that he could look after her.

Igguthappa then threw down an arrow from atop the hill. It struck a mango tree in the hamlet of Ponnangala in Yavakapadi village. Then he told his sister to go and settle down there. The sister took the form of a crane and flew down to the spot. Thereafter she became known as Ponnangalatamme.

When the mountain top of Igguthappa Betta is covered with clouds the natives say that Igguthappa is gloomy and misty-eyed, thinking about his sister's separation. However the sister's casting out of the community actually had a greater purpose to be served. This way she was able to become a goddess of the poor.

Muthanna had a temple built for Igguthappa near Malma betta (also called Igguthappa betta) to settle down in. This became the Padi Igguthappa temple. From Malme Betta Igguthappa first went to Ammangeri village near Nelji. Then he went to Nelji and Perur. Hence two other ancient Igguthappa temples came to be built near Padi, one at Nelji and the other at Peroor, by the local clans there. Nelji is said to be the place where rice was first grown and hence was initially named Nelachi or 'rice grew'.

4. Pemmayya before the palace with the tigress, the she bear and the wild buffalo cow (own sketch)

The elder among the remaining two gods was an avatar of Lord Mahalingeshwara. He settled down in the village of Palur along the river Kaveri and came to be known as Palurappa. Pemmayya, the last of the brothers, went south to the Brahmagiri hills dressed as a yogi. He met Chieftain Appa Kongi
Balu and crossed the Brahmagiri hill range. Pemmayya cured the Chief's wife of an unknown ailment by bringing a wild buffalo cow, a tigress and a she-bear, milking them in the palace and offering the mixture as medicine. He was thereafter allowed to settle down in Thirunelli, presently in Wayanad district, and his temple became known as the Janardhana temple, named after the deity whose avatar he was.

Later events

The descendants of Muthanna, the Pardanda family, called the Padil Parada (the Parada of Padi), became the Deva Thakka, or hereditary managers of the Padi Igguthappa temple. The Pardanda were also one of eight Sime Thakkas, or regional chieftains, of Kodagu. The Baddanjettira family are Deva Thakka at Nelji Igguthappa. The Machchuda and the Mekmaniyanda families are Deva Thakka at the Peroor Igguthappa.

The present-day priests of the Padi Igguthappa temple belong to the Hebbar Brahmin community. A number of families of astrologers, ritual performers and farmhands such as the Ammangeri Kaniya, the Ballatnad Maleya, the Kundu male Kudiya, the Payyanur Banna, the Chirammangala Panika, the Kandimakki Paley, the Kuttanjetira Poleya and the Aranoot Kapla, each of them connected to their respective villages, are also associated with the temple.

In the precincts of Padi Igguthappa are the shrines of Aiyappa, Povvadiamma (also called Bhagwathy), Vishnu murthy and Baynadappa. Baynadappa, or Baynad Balwan, was a legendary man who came from Wayanad (also called Bayanad) to guard the Igguthappa shrine.

5. The image of Igguthappa (own sketch)

History

It was around 1810 when Linga Rajendra was the Raja of Kodagu. Upon the suggestion of his minister, Diwan Apparanda Bopu, Linga Rajendra came on an elephant hunt to the Balyatri forest, near Padi Igguthappa. Initially the Raja found no elephants and was displeased with the Diwan. After a whole day of futility the king ordered Diwan Bopu to find elephants the next day. Otherwise he was to face dire consequences. Surprisingly, the following day, the Diwan found several elephants for the Raja.

The hunting party shot dead 34 elephants and captured 8 elephant calves that very day. A three-fourth foot tall silver elephant statuette was made and gifted to the Padi temple. This statuette had an inscription upon it to commemorate the event.

Temple entrance (P.C. Vishwanath 'Vinay' Balladichanda G.)

Later in 1835 the same Diwan Bopu got the Padi Igguthappa temple renovated and a golden
kalasa (auspicious pot) placed above the Garbha Gudi sanctum.

Festivals

The main annual temple festival of Padi Igguthappa happens around the month of April during Minyaar, or the Kodava month of Pisces. Four other festivals are also observed in the temple. They are the Chingyaar festival, held on the tenth of the month of Leo, the Tholyaar festival, observed on the tenth of the Libra month, the Birchyaar Kalladcha festival, held during the Scorpio month, and the Kumbyaar Kalladcha festival, during the month of Aquarius. During the inauspicious month of Kakkada (Karkataka in Kannada) the month of the crab, certain pujas are not performed.

Temple (P.C. Vishwanath 'Vinay' Balladichanda G.)

The Birchyaar Kalladcha festival, held around November or December, is also called Puthari. The date of the Puthari festival is decided by the Kaniyas (astrologers), from the nearby Ammangeri village, who are associated with the Igguthappa temple. The festival begins in the temple and the rice crop is first offered here. Then the people of Kodagu celebrate the festival the next day onward. During this harvest festival, the people invoke Igguthappa, Mahadeva and Baithurappa.

During the Kumbyaaar Kalaadcha festival certain ceremonies such as the Ett Porata, Thulabara, special poojas and sevas are performed. Ett Porata is a ceremony where decorated oxen from certain households are made to carry rice loads upon their backs. Thulabara is where a person's weight is weighed often in rice and offered to the temple. There is a large scale kept in the temple and used for this purpose.

How to get there

The Padi Igguthappa temple is accessible from the towns of Madikeri and Virajpet. From Madikeri one has travel to Napoklu town. The Madikeri-Napoklu route is on a deviation to the left after Bettigeri on the Madikeri-Talakaveri route. From Napoklu one needs to go along the Field Marshal Cariappa road, turn left again (the road on the right goes towards Talakaveri) and go towards Kakkabe. This main road meets the Virajpet-Talakaveri road. Take this road to the left and reach the Kakkabe town market. From there the Padi Igguthappa temple road lies to the right.

Temple side view (P.C. Vishwanath 'Vinay' Balladichanda G.)

Another route exists, from Virajpet to Padi Igguthappa. On the way to Madikeri from Virajpet and at the Kadnur junction begins the Virajpet-Talakaveri road. One crosses Kadanga-Marur, Poddamani, Arpattu and Cheyyandane along that road. At the Kakkabe town market and to the left begins the Padi Igguthappa temple road.

While travelling by car is the easiest mode of transport, there are regular buses, both government and private, during the day. Autos also ply the route to the temple from Napoklu and Kakkabe. The Igguthappa temple at Nelji is near Napoklu and Kakkabe. The Igguthappa temple at Peroor is near the Nelji-Bhagamandala road.

The Palur (Paloor) temple is also near Napoklu town. It is on the left from Karagunda bus stop on the Madikeri Talakaveri road. The Ponnangalatamme shrine is on the way to Padi Igguthappa and near Kakkabe town.

The temples eaves and roof over an etching (P.C. Vishwanath 'Vinay' Balladichanda G.)

References


  1. Chinnappa, N. 2006 [1924]. Pattole Palame (Kannada) Madikeri: Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Akademi.
  2. Chinnappa and Nanjamma, B. Pattole Palame (English) New Delhi: Rupa.
  3. Kushalappa, M. 2013. The early Coorgs (English)
  4. Rice, B L. 1878. Mysore and Coorg (English) Madras: Superintendent Press.
  5. Shankaranarayana Bhat, Y K. 1999. Sri Igguthappa Mahime (Kannada) Bhagamandala: Sri Ramakrishna Prakashan.

Stone etching at the temple depicting the forest, the stream, the three temples (shown as hyperboles), the temple bells and the Igguthappa temple Deva Thakkas gathering at Malma. (P.C. Balladichanda 'Vinay' Vishwanath)