Coorg - Culture & Tradition

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date_range14 Jul 2024

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Coorg or Kodagu- is known for its serenity, and nature’s bounty. A land that has a blissful presence in the lives of the inhabitants as well as the visitors exploring this beautiful region. A South-western region in the state of Karnataka, Coorg is nestled among the Western Ghats towards its periphery. The sacred river - ‘Talakaveri’ flows through the entire district. The verdant fields of pepper and coffee plantations make Coorg a picturesque hamlet that visitors flock in for.

Coorg Culture and Traditions

Often referred to as the ‘Scotland of India’, this district is home to the ancient clan with extraordinary martial abilities called ‘Kodavas’. When compared to the more than 7 billion population of the world, Kodavas are a mere 1.5 lakhs and thus constitute an ethnic minority of the world.

Besides being a terrestrial belle, this place is also known for its unique native inhabitants. The history of Kodavas showcases that the people of this tribe have a soldier-like charm of their own for their ancestors lived the life of warriors staying in jungles and fighting invaders to protect their community.

The traditional attire and rituals of the ‘Kodavas’ are strong enough evidence that relates to their ancestral characteristics, albeit there are more than 11 theories making it unclear a confirmation on the actual origin of this community. Their astute valour and chivalry set them apart from their neighbouring communities.

Kodavas, still follow the clan system and are known for their unique family names. The rustic charm of the tribe can be viewed in their traditional rituals. This tribe tends to worship the Mother nature (in its raw form) and their ancestors. This clan cannot be segmented into a particular religion or class. This concept is also visible in the Census data filling in which there is a completely different format for ‘Kodavas’ as against the regular procedure for the rest of the population. 

Kodava Festivals:

One of the most popular festivals of Kodavas is ‘Kailapodh’. This festival honours and worships the weapons carried by Kodavas, for they are known for their macho appearance since time immemorial. The festival of harvest celebrated by the Kodava community is known as ‘Puthari’. Coffee and pepper plantation contribute to the population’s income source. It was common practice until recently that these festivals were conducted in the form of grand ceremonies and used to light up the entire region. The most striking feature of this community is the equality amongst men and women.

Kodava dance:

The women folks of Kodava tribe have a traditional form of dance which is called ‘Umma that’. They perform this dance in a group to the tunes of songs dedicated to ‘kAvEramma’ (the river Cauvery goddess). On the other hand, the dance performed by men folks is called ‘Bolak-aat’ that represents their heroism and gallantry. There is another group of menfolk who recite Balo Patt or Dudi Patt (or ancient ballads) to honour the principle people present in a gathering.

Kodava Traditional Dress:

The Kodava tribe’s uniqueness is also reflected in their attire. Males wear a thick black ‘Kupya Chale’ and a dagger ‘Peeche Kathi’ which gives them a robust appearance. Similarly, females have a different take on how they drape their saris. They tuck their pleats at the back unlike the traditional form of draping the saris across India.

Kodava Food:

Kodavas are very fond of their cuisine and women of this tribe usually sit together for a variety of their unique food preparations. Some of the most delectable and sumptuous food items one may find in every Kodava household are Kadambuttu (Prepared with Rice), Otti (Roti Prepared using rice) and Pandi curry (usually a pork delicacy). The spice distinctive of this region is Kachampuli that is used as a souring agent by the Kodavas


Kodava Wedding and Dance:

The Kodavas also have a unique marriage ritual. Here, there is no priest who conducts the ceremony but the elders perform all the activities. The sacred lamp with Lord Cauvery’s picture is considered the only witness of a Kodava wedding. During a marriage, people of the community assemble to have a wedding feast. Once the wedding ritual has completed, the attending men and women folks dance and perform a tradition (Ganga Pooja) to the music played by a band.

The Coorg culture is beautiful and has a mystic charm to it. Kodava community constitutes one of the most significant aspects of the Coorg tradition. However, due to globalization, the younger generation of Kodavas is moving out of the district to other parts of Karnataka or other states.

Coorg has given the country some of the bravest of men and women in all the major areas of society. Field Marshall K.M. Kariappa and General K.S. Thimmaiah have their names embedded in the history of the nation and they belonged to this community. In today’s era, some of the popular Kodava mentions from the sports and silver screen are Rohan Bopanna, Poovamma, Robin Uthappa, Nikhil Chinnappa, Kaveri Ponnappa, Joshna Ponnappa, Gulshan Devaiah, and the list goes on.

However, in the wake of modernization, the magnanimity of this tribe is slowly diminishing and is also deafening the senses of the modern generation. This situation calls for the people of this community as well as the government to educate the younger generation about the values and the strength of their culture and make the population who have gone astray come back to build the community back again.

The team at Royal Brothers – Bike rentals has taken up the task of discovering the fascinating true stories about Coorg, its flamboyance, and bring Indians a bit closer to their roots (which is slowly being forgotten about). This is our endeavour to re-introduce the ‘Scotland of India’ to its people. Here’s a video covering a few visuals and interesting stories narrated by a native Kodava- Click here To get hands-on experience, you could rent a vehicle from Royal Brothers in Coorg and explore this land of warriors and their culture. Why wait then, come visit this ecstatic marvel of Mother Nature- Coorg.


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