Sunday, 17 October 2010

Kaveri Sankramana / History & festval of River Kaveri

Kaveri Sankramana

The Kaveri Sankramana festival normally takes place in mid-October. It is associated with the river Kaveri, which flows through the district from its source at Talakaveri.
At a predetermined time, when the sun enters Tula Rasi (Tula sankramana), a fountain from a small tank fills the larger holy tank at Talakaveri. Thousands of people gather to dip in this holy water. The water is collected in bottles and reaches every home throughout Kodagu. This holy water is called Theertha, and is preserved in all Kodava homes. Those who cannot worship at TALAKAVERI will worship GODESS Kaveri at HARISHACHANDRA, BALAMURI & GUYYA. A spoonful of this water is fed to the dying, in the belief that they will attain moksha (spiritual emancipation) and gain entry to heaven.
On this day, married women wearing new silk saris perform puja to a vegetable, symbolizing the goddess Kaveri. The vegetable is usually a cucumber or a coconut or a Papaya, wrapped in a piece of red silk cloth and decorated with flowers and jewels (mainly 'Pathak' (Kodava Mangalasuthra)).
Kanni refers to the goddess Parvathi, who incarnated as Kaveri. Three sets of betel leaves and areca nut are kept in front of the goddess with bunches of glass bangles. All the members of the family pray to the goddess by throwing rice and prostrating themselves before the image. The elder members of the family ceremonially bless the younger. Then an older married woman draws water from the well and starts cooking. The menu of the day is dosa and vegetable curry (usually pumpkin curry (kumbala kari)) and payasa (sweet dish). The old man of the falily takes the dosa & keeps them on the Bottu ( nishane or a small pole made of bamboo , top spilt into 4 pieces & Both Balli is tagged as well)). Nothing but vegetarian food is cooked on this day, and this is the only festival among the Kodava speaking people where only vegetarian food is had and served; day with veg food.

Totally the celebration starts 1 day before with the planting of the bamboo/ stick on all the paddy field, coffee estates, Grassing field & so on which is a fixed property. Scientific reason is also to get the birds sit on these poles in the paddy field & keep the pests away .Second day is full of Pooja, Dosa, Kanni Puje lasts for 3 days & then the vegetable, the replica of goddess is left to the flowing river, lake or kept under jackfruit tree. After the festival during the seven days married women are supposed to come home as per the tradition & as said & followed by older generation in Kodagu /Coorg.

The legend of River Kaveri
The main river of Kodagu is the legendary Kaveri. River Kaveri has attained a sacred status in Kodagu, not unlike River Ganga in the North. Kaveri takes origin in Brahmagiri hills in Kodagu, in a place aptly called Talakaveri (head of Kaveri). It starts from a small spring (kundike – pond), gathering body as it courses downhill. It is joined by its two tributaries Kanake and Sujyoti. The confluence of these three rivers takes place in Bhagamandala. From here River Kaveri courses through its serpentine route, giving life and sustenance to millions of people, through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, to eventually drain into the Bay of Bengal on the eastern shores of Tamil Nadu, near Kaveripattinam.
River Kaveri is said to be an incarnate of Goddess Parvati. Lopamudra was an adopted daughter of Sage Kavera. She was given in marriage to Sage Agatsya, who had crossed the Vindhya Mountains and ventured down south. Sage Agatsya is credited with bringing Aryan religion to the southern regions of India. Goddess Parvati had promised Prince Chandravarma, who had propitiated and meditated on her that she would appear in Kodagu as a river. Lopamudra, who was the incarnate of Goddess Parvati, became River Kaveri in Kodagu.
Chandravarma was the son of king Siddhartha of Matsya kingdom. He traveled to various temples like Kanchi, Tanjavur and Chidambaram and came to Brahmagiri hills in Kodagu. Here he performed penance and Goddess Parvati, pleased with his devotion granted him the boon of a horse, a sword and an army. She gave him the power to overthrow the mlecchas (foreigners) and take over the kingdom of Kodagu. She also promised him that she would bless the land with her incarnation in the form of River Kaveri. A Sudra girl was created by Parvati as a bride to the Kshatriya Prince, who bore him eleven sons. The sons married one hundred daughters born to Sudra wives of the Kshatriya king of Vidarbha. The hundreds of children they bore settled in the land of Kodagu, with the blessings of River Kaveri.
The brave grand children of Chandravarma leveled the hills for cultivation with their bare hands like the wild boars. Hence the land came to be known as Kroda Desa (kroda meaning a hog or a boar). This later came to be called Koda Desa and eventually Kodagu. Chandravarma in his old age relinquished his kingdom to his eldest son Devakanta. Thus the patrilineal society where the succession is based on the primogeniture became the practice.
Tula Sankramana (first day of Kodava month of Toleyar – mid October) is celebrated as the day of birth of Kaveri. Legend has it that Parvati appeared in a dream to Devakanta and asked him to gather the family of his father Chandravarma in Balamuri and await her arrival. He did as he was instructed and on the day of Tula Sankramana, River Kaveri came flowing down. The families of Chandravarma bathed in the holy waters of Kaveri and were purified. The force of the water moved the pleats of the saris of women to the rear. Hence the unique habits of the Kodava women of wearing the sari with the pleats in the back and not in the front as commonly worn by Hindu women
Complied from River Kaveri to the maps of river Kaveri