Coorg has a long history and it is really interesting to know about its cultures, festivals and traditions. Coorg is a land of blissful presence and beautiful region among the western ghats of Karnataka. You can see rugged hills, slopes, valleys, coffee plantations etc.
Over the centuries, different dynasties ruled Kodagu and thus have been adopted many cultures and traditions. Kodavas are among the early inhabitants of Kodagu. They belong to the community of hunters, warriors and rulers.
Coorg is often referred to as Scotland of India. The history of Kodavas takes us back to traditional attires and rituals. The earlier tribe used to workship mother nature and even now follow the same clan system of keeping unique family names. Having said so, let us study and get to know about the different norms followed by the Kodavas!
The kodavas give major importance to their tradition cultures. This comprises of dress, language, customs, festivals, songs, dance etc. The culture followed by Coorgis are very unique and highlights the South Indian Culture.
The Kodava Woman drapes sari in a very unique style compared to the other South Indian women. They tuck the pleats at the back of the waist keeping the pallu on the left shoulder. Nevertheless, the jewellery worn by the Kodava women is inspired by nature such as Moon, Flowers, Fruits etc. Coming to the Kodava Men,they wrap around a Long Black or White Tunic often called as Kupya among the kodavas. They secure it with a red gold embroidered silk called as Sash in their native language. Also, they tie a white turban called Mande Thuni, a red scarf called Chouka.
The language followed by the Coorgis is called Kodava Thakk. While they belong to the independent Dravidian community, their languages have a mixture of Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu etc.
As a mark of respect to the elderly people. The younger generation touch the feet when they meet socially or during any auspicious occasion. Kodavas are sighted worshipping elements of nature such as the Sun, Fire and Water. They have a lamp which is an important aspect of their life. The lamp is a witness during naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals. They generally workship the God of Rain and Crops. Also, they do workship Ayyappa - The God of Hunting, Bhadrakali and Bhagavathi - Village Deities.
While Kodavas follow their customs and traditions very seriously. The three main important festivals of the Coorgis are Puthari, Kail Polud and Kaveri Sankramana. Kodavas generally believe in offering meat and alcohol to their ancestors and the village deities.
Kaveri Sankramana is celebrated in Coorg during the month of October. It is celebrated as a birth of river Kaveri. The goddess Kaveri is worshipped in every home when the water nourishes within a specific time and day. The ritual called Kani Puje is often performed being decorated by coconut and cucumber.
Puthari is among the grandest festival which is celebrated in Coorg. It is referred to as the rice harvesting festival and is celebrated during the month of November - December. The people of Coorg celebrate this festival by cutting a paddy in the sheer mid of night. Coorgis are the most unique people in India, who consider night as a auspicious time to cut the first crop of the year.
Coming to the Kail Polud, it is celebrated in the year September which marks the presence of End of Paddy Growing Season and Start of Hunting Season. The tribals would now workship the arms that are used of hunting. The villagers also showcase their strength by gathering at the field and play a game of skill and fight! While both Men and Women equally participate in this event. Few people who are interested in Sports Led Events play hockey.
The traditions of Kodavas can be seen during the Wedding events. The unique part of a Kodava Wedding is that this auspicious marriage is conducted by the elders of the family and not the priests. While you must have seen in a typical South Indian Wedding that the groom ties a knot to the bride to mark the marriage. However, in the Coorgis style, they cut the banana stem to equal parts which means odikathi. The most important part in Coorg style is not the Sapta Padi and Kanya Dhaan as compared to the North Indian and South Indian Style. But, they follow a tradition called as Sammanda Kodupa, which means they give more respect and value to the people and not just them being a Groom or Bride.
You can also witness something called as Nari Mangala in the Kodava Tradition. Which means ceremony to honour a man or a woman who have killed a tiger at least once. They are seated and honoured by hanging a tiger on the bamboo scaffold.
If you happen to visit the Coorg once in your lifetime. You can witness that the Kodava Festivals and Traditions are celebrated with amazing fun, joy and happiness. They sing their folk song and dance to the tune. All the members of the family sit together and have a combo of Meat and Liquor Feast!
When it comes to the respect for sons and daughters of the family. Both are given equal choice and respect in the society. They give first preference to the education and well settlement of their children. Therefore, you can often witness late marriages and delayed child birth in the history of Coorg Culture.
Now that we have known the different traditions, cultures and festivals of Coorg. We must also respect the fact that Coorg has given us some of the most bravest men and women. The coorg culture is the most beautiful thing you can see while you happen to visit the Western Ghats.
In the end, Coorg have been known to follow these unique culture, customs, heritage and lifestyles. Even while the britishers tried to invade these custom, the unity in diversity among the people of Kodavas have helped preserved their culture till date. If you are planning to visit South India as your next holiday destination. Do not miss out to visit Coorg and witness all these facts by yourself.