By P.T. Bopanna

Renowned Kodava researcher Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa (in picture) passed away on the morning of March 31 at Mysuru in Karnataka.  

According to family sources, Nanjamma (89) was briefly hospitalized for the last few days. Nanjamma’s husband Chinnappa had died last year in March.

Both Nanjamma and Chinnappa were Kodava cultural icons. Their contributions will be remembered for generations to come.

I am deeply indebted to the Chinnappa couple who supported me in my website and books projects.

The couple who worked as a team, will be remembered mainly for their monumental book ‘Ainemanes of Kodagu’, on the traditional dwelling places of Kodavas (Coorgs) in Karnataka.

According to the Chinnappas, the “Ainmanes and their surroundings were sacred heritage sites that need to be preserved for future generations.”

The Chinnappas visited close to 700 traditional and functional ainmanes belonging to all communities in Kodagu, and taken around 1,500 photographs during their field-work which took them five years. Besides, they have listed more than 1000 ainmanes which either do not exist now or have been re-built on modern lines, and hence lost their originality. The book was published in 2014.

Nanjamma was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ in 2006 for documenting the rich cultural and architectural heritage of Kodagu.

I was in constant touch with Nanjamma Aunty through WhatsApp and sought her feedback and help, especially pertaining to Kodava cultural matters. In her last message, she informed that she was giving final touches to her website that contains detailed information and photographs of each ainmane visited, including oral narratives related to the okka to whom the ainmane belongs. Nearly 570 ainmanes have been uploaded on the website to-date. The website has provision for free downloads and has become very popular in Kodagu.

Nanjamma was a Visiting Fellow of Cambridge University (1973-74), on whom the Mangalore University conferred the Honorary Doctorate Degree (D.Litt) in 2006 for her contributions to the fields of statistics and education.

Dr Nanjamma and her husband Chinnappa, a Master’s degree holder in engineering from the United States, worked in Canada for nearly 20 years before they moved back to India after retirement.

Their first project was to translate into English “Pattole Palame”, a book on Kodava culture, folk songs and traditions, written by their common grandfather, Nadikerianda Chinnappa in the Kodava language and first published in 1924.

“Pattole Palame”, literally meaning silken lore, was compiled by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, a police officer in the early 1920s. The book is known to be one of the earliest and most extensive collections of folklore of a community in any Indian language.  He started translating the folklore book into English, but died in 1931 before he could complete it. 

It took Dr Nanjamma and her husband nearly eight years to complete the translation of the book which runs into 700-plus pages and was published in 2003. 

Nanjamma has also narrated folk-tales in the Kodava language for All India Radio, Madikeri, and has given talks related to Kodava culture on many different occasions. 


Nanjamma has a Masters degree in Statistics from Madras University and one in Advanced Statistics from the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

She pursued her career in Statistics that spanned 40 years, in various capacities in India and Canada. She retired from the Canadian Department of Statistics, as their Senior Statistical Advisor and received the Career Excellence award of the Department.

While working as a statistician, she taught statistics at National and International courses, and was a Statistical Consultant for many National and International agencies, including the World Bank and the World Health Organisation.

She has represented Canada and served in various capacities in international associations and committees, and was the President of the International Association of Survey Statisticians for a term of 2 years.

The Chinnappas are survived by two daughters.

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1 Response

  1. Prabha Kannan says:

    Hello ! Our family knew her as Rajamani 😊My sister Bhama was her classmate and I remember that when she came to Kolkata – then Calcutta ! – with her father , to join the Statistical Institute, , my father, V K Rangaswami , was her local guardian. We continued to be in touch with her , and with Chinappa , over the years . I was about to WhatsApp her , saying I wd be coming to the Mysore Lit Fest and wd definitely meet her. My daughter Deepa sent me this link and I am deeply saddened that I was unable to meet her earlier

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