By P.T. Bopanna
The Bangalore Kodava Samaja, a socio-cultural association of the Kodavas (Coorgs) living in Bengaluru, has deviated from the Kodava religious faith by performing ‘homa’ in its premises.
Kodavas hailing from Kodagu (Coorg) district in Karnataka, are basically nature and ancestor-worshippers. Though bracketed under Hindu religion for official purposes, the community practices tribal faith which does not involve any Vedic practices like ‘homa’, a sort of public fire ritual, performed by Brahmin priests.
Brahmin priests have no role in any of the ceremonies related to birth, marriage and death in the Kodava community. It is the Kodava elders who conduct the rituals. Kodavas worship the elements of nature.
In the circumstances, the holding of several homas on the day of the Kaveri Sankramana, celebrated on October 18 to mark the birth of river Cauvery, has vitiated the significance of the Sankramana festival.
The homa rituals were held in the premises of the Kodava Samaja located at Vasanthanagar by Brahmin priests which was attended by the Kodava Samaja office-bearers, including its president M.T. Nanaiah, an advocate.
Sources in the Samaja said the homas were held this year to ward off the effects of the pandemic and also in view of the poor finances of the Samaja which has lost substantial revenue that used to accrue from renting the premises for weddings.
But many in the community feel that conducting homa during Kani Puje, to celebrate the birth of Cauvery, will dilute the significance of the Kaveri festival.
According to Maj Gen Codanda K Karumbaya, SM (Retd), “We are a tribe, and that our Kodava tribal faith, even though very simple, is more in consonance with ongoing scientific discoveries and modern concepts of humanism. We should be proud of our faith.”
On the influence of Hinduism on the Kodavas, the major general noted: “The Haleri Rajas (1600 to 1834 AD) had got several Hindu temples built in different villages, and appointed some Kodavas as Deva Thakkas to propagate their faith among Kodavas and to impose their Puranas which can be easily invalidated through the study of both history and science.”
The Bangalore Kodava Samaja owes an apology to the community for deviating from its religious practices and an assurance that such distortions will not occur in future.