By Koopadira Deepthi Aiyanna
There are many signs of being a Kodava. One of them is feeling immense joy at the drop of the word “Puthari”. Just try it. Close your eyes, bring a genuine smile and say “Puthari”. Aren’t you just elevated to be in the midst of festivities and transcended to a time with your tribe? Didn’t that just unlock all the joy and happiness?
While some of us have made the choice of living outside the motherland, we are still woven together in the fabric of love and protection provided by Goddess Kaveramme to us all. We bring our tribe together wherever we go. More importantly, we realize our children don’t grow up as closely intertwined with our culture as we did. We make every effort to simplify the essence of our ancestral messages and pass those on to the little Kodavas and Kodavathis (Kodava woman) so they can continue to imbibe the essence of Coorg (Kodagu district in Karnataka) within them.
The annual Puthari get-together of Kodavas of Southern California was recently hosted by Puliyanda Dechu and Shyam at Los Angeles. To the careful eye, the house had little notes in Kodava takk (Kodava language) which tuned up the festive feeling up a notch.
Crisp winter, rain clouds, cold breeze with a hint of rain caressing your face and beautiful bright orange produce set out in baskets. “Kadhe” grown with all the love in the garden of Cheranda Natash and Kiran, set before a bolcha (lamp) completed the setting for a great evening.
The evening was kicked off by the kids aged 3 – 13 years, who put together a beautiful narrative of how Puthari is celebrated. Starting from the when, the how, the what and of course, finished with “I love Puthari”, which is now officially viral. The kids dolled up in vastras (head scarf) and kupiya-chaley
(Kupya is a collarless, short-sleeved coat (wrap-around) that reaches below the knees and worn by Kodava men (Coorg men) on formal occasions. It is usually made of black cotton or wool and is secured at the waist by a chele, a red gold-embroidered silk sash) looking adorable and warming the hearts of all gathered.
The 13 – 18 years performed a rap version of “Ballopaate – Desha Kettuva” version, in jeans and hoodies. They taught us about how Kodagu was divided into Ambalas and Kombus. They blew us away with the American-ness of the Kodava culture, bolstering some of the key things that our culture allows us to do – respectfully adopt and pass on the essence of being Kodavas. Let the kids take a dip in the culture and create a version that is fun to learn and more importantly, sticks with them.
This act was
followed by that of 5 wise men looking all handsome in kupiya-chaley,
performing their first ever rendition of “balopaate” in Southern California to
the beat of the “dudi”. It genuinely tuned everyone listening to the true purpose of why we were all gathered. Imbibe, preserve and persevere our culture
for us and our generations just like the paddy does – imbibe all the
essentials, preserve that is important to grow and persevere through rain and
sunshine to provide for generations to come.
We culminated this per traditions with our “Pattedara” Boveriyanda Raghu Nanjappa, leading the “kadhe edpade” ritual for us all. Offering this to goddess Kaveri and seeking blessings for SoCal Kodavas and the entire community. We finished it up with a good round of Kodavaate, relishing all the homemade Kodava delicacies prepared by all our tribe and taking some “kadhe” and produce to each of our homes. Until, the next time we get to celebrate this again. Poli Poli Deva! Happy Puthari to all!
Younger Kids: Puggera Ishita & Aanya, Iychodianda Krish & Tanya, Koopadira Ayan & Ansh, Kattera Janya
Teens: Cherumandanda Sahit & Sanjith, Konganda Shawn & Neil, Kokkalera Pranav & Gaurav
Wise Men: Cherumandanda Subbaiah, Pulianda Chengappa, Kokkalera Uthaiah, Iychodianda Chengappa, Koopadira Aiyanna.