A land of chivali and pride, a life of solitary splendour, with rich food and spices is in short termed the warriors land coorg. Taste the oranges, small the coffee, and savor of honey. Popularly known as the Scotland of India. It is known that the coorgs or kodavas are the most hospitable people in India.
However kodava text do not speak much of their origins and there is no theory to prove it. According to one the 2500 year old civilization of the kodavas has evolved from a synthesis of people that o0riginally lived in the region of today’s omen and Yemen. Accor4ding to Yemen’s history, people from there had migrated to the coorg region around the fifth century bc.
Yet another belief claims that Scythian soldiers brought by Alexander of Macedonian stayed on after his return and married the local women of kodagu, to form a new, distinct race.
The coorgs today are Hindus; they are a marital race and belong to kshathriya community. Kodava fallow Hinduism but are more liberal and independent than any other Hindu sect in customs relating to marriage, divorce, remarriage, festivals, worship and even dress. They are probably the only Indian community that does not observe the dowry system.
People of kodagu:
The coorgs are known for their great hospitality and sense of humor. Their friendly nature makes visitors travel to coorg over and over again. People of coorg speak kodava takk, with no script of its own.
The attractive kodava dress, unique form the rest of Indian traditional wear, has its own value in the kodava community. It is worn on special occasions like marriage, festivals or other community gatherings.
Kodavas celebrate their own festivals which has its own traditional flavors such as;
It is celebrated on 3rd September. That is on 18th day after the sun enters the simha rashi. Kail means weapon and pold means festival. The day signifies the completion of nati means the transplantation of the rice crop. Normally during the months in which the family is engaged in the fields, all weapons are deposited in the “kanni kombre” called as prayer room. The festival signifies the day that men ahould prepare to guard their crop from wild boars and other animals.
This festival normally takes place in the mid of October. It is associated with river kaveri, when the sun enters tula rasi a fountain from a small tank fills the bigger holy tank at talakaveri. People throng in thousands to take a dip in this holy water. The water is collected in bottles and reaches evry house in coorg, and this is called theertha-holy water. This water is preserved in all kodava houses, and a spoonful of this water is fed to the dying, in the belief that they will attain moksha.
Puttari means new rice, and is the rice harvest festival. This takes place in late November or early December
A gunshot is fired to mark the beginning of the harvest, with chanting of “Poli Poli Deva” (prosperity) by all the people present there. Then the symbolic harvesting of the crop begins. The rice is cut and stacked and tied in odd numbers, and is then carried home, to be offered to the gods there. The younger people then burst firecrackers and revel, symbolizing prosperity. Groups of youngsters then visit the neighboring houses and show off their dancing skills, and are given monetary gifts. A week later, this money is pooled and a community dinner of the entire village is celebrated.
All the family members gather for this meal. Dinner normally consists of meat dishes such as pork and fish curry. Alcoholic beverages are also served at such feasts.
Ain-mane is surrounded by large property (jamma) and by huts of laborers attached to the okka, who provide necessary services. This cluster of homes and property form the nucleus of a village called ur. A group of ur or villages is called the nad. A number of nads make a sime. Traditionally there were eight simes in Kodagu. The land belonging to the okka is cultivated jointly by the family members and cannot be partitioned or sold.
The oldest member of the family is the head of the okka and is called pattedara or koravukara. It is a hierarchy that is passed on to the eldest member of the clan by right. Similarly each ur (or ooru), nad and sime has a headman called as takka. The takkas settled disputes and imparted justice after consultation with other elders. Girls and boys from one okka cannot marry within the same okka. However, cousin marriage between children of brother and sister is accepted (but not between children of two brothers or two sisters).
Once married, a girl assumes the okka name of her husband. Mother is held in high esteem in Kodava society. Mother is the first one to bless a young married couple or a journeyman. Unlike Hindu society, a widow is still allowed to participate in happy occasions like marriages of her children. She is the principal figure to conduct the marriage ceremony that traditionally is conducted without a Brahmin priest. A widow is allowed to remarry and this is a common practice as it is fully accepted.
Many come to Coorg just to enjoy the monsoon. If one likes the rain, Coorg is the right place to visit. One can wear a good pair of waterproof footwear and go for a jaunt in the coffee estate. Getting oneself thoroughly drenched in the torrential rains is an experience by itself. This adventure in the rain can be followed sitting next to a fireplace and catching up on reading.
Home-stays in Coorg offer the tourist a unique experience of living with a Coorg family and tasting some of the typical local cuisine. Served with ‘Akki Otti and Bamboo shoot curry’ “This is food for the Gods!” You could request your home-stay host for this combination. Even during off-season, most Coorg homes will have some Bamboo shoot pickled and squirreled away in the attic.
There are quite a few places of tourist interest in Coorg. There is the Mercara Fort, Raja’s Seat, Gadige (royal tombs), Omkareshwara temple, Talacauvery, Nalknad Palace etc. Nature lovers will find the Nisargadama, near Kushalnagar, a wonderful place to visit. There is an elephant camp where visitors can feed the behemoths and interact with them. One of the unique places to visit is the Tibetan Colony in Bylekuppe near Kushalnagar. This is Little Tibet. There are Buddhist monasteries, temples and buildings built in typical Tibetan style. This entire area of about 1500 acres is home to the Tibetans displaced from their homeland during 1962. It is now the second largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet! Tibetans are enterprising and hardworking people who have turned this once barren area into highly productive agricultural land. This place is also known for many typically Tibetan handicrafts, especially their exquisite carpets.
coorg known for its beautiful scenery and hospitable people. Those travelers who love nature, the unspoiled charm of villages should get off the beaten track and visit Coorg, a wild and rugged region located in the state of Karnataka.
The wooded slopes, quaint villages, colorful scenery and undulating landscape has fascinated tourists until today. Endless mountain ranges, ridge after ridge of grassy and forest clad slopes raising to the sky, give Coorg its unique & irreplaceable character.
If you’re the type who likes to mingle with nature, romance in the mountains, feel the tingle of the cool and gentle breeze, watch leaves flutter in dance-like movements and hear sounds of birds fill the air, then Coorg is just the place for you.!
– Pavana santhosh