Story of Kakotuparambu Kakotachanda Namme – Mevada Aalia Chondamma.
An article which was the part of the essay writing competition on festivals of kodagu organised by kodavaclan during the lockdown.
Mevada Aalia Chondamma.
Story of Kakotuparambu Kakotachanda Namme
Kakotuparambu is characterized by it’s gently sloping and emerald hued ‘parambu’, or hillock. Tucked away to the right of the parambu, is the shrine of Kakotacha, named after‘Kakotuparambu’. Every year, on the second week of Birchyar(December) usually after the annual celebrations of Puthari, the grand festival of Kakotuparambu Kakotacha is held. But hold on, not so fast….Before we delve into the festival, listen to the story, without which, I will have shamed my village. It is a story as old as the parambu itself, and crosses many miles and borders….
Go back in your mind to the time of our ancestors, say, some millennia ago.The sandy shores of an island was witness to the birth of two gods. They arrived in the form of two conches, one glittering gold, and the other, sparkling silver. Out of the gold conch, arose the brother, and out of the silver conch, arose the sister.
They looked around themselves in bewilderment and pondered about their next course of action. Just then, an eagle offered his services. Mounting on the bird, they flew and landed in a place reeking of fish. Then they also landed near Bendrkoll. Unable to stand the odour, they decided to move. They rejected the invitation of the presiding deity to stay, saying that the first puja would be done not to him, but the host, so what was the point? Thus they crossed many lands, rejecting invites everywhere.
Finally, they scaled the mountain of Kabbe-kundh, which offered a panoramic and bewitching view of Pommale Kodavu(olden day term of Kodagu) . And right then brother made up his mind that this was where he was going to stay, come what may.
They reached the periphery of the Padi Igguthappa temple. The brother knew that he was considered by the Kodavas as a father figure and was as revered as the Thayoor Pole that sprung from Brahmagiri. “I do not wish to disturb or anger Him.” Said He,and avoided the rain god’s territory.
So they took a detour and ended up near the Chelavara falls. It was here that something arose in the sister’s mind. Not afraid to voice it, she told her brother, “ Dear one, if we travel together, people will suspect us to be husband and wife. Bring somebody to stand between us, so that our bond may not be mistaken or broken.”
The brother realised the wisdom behind her words and set his sights on a tribal man named Kaari Kotta, who was working in the nearby fields for the Bachamanda okka. He gave him magical powers and transformed him into a demigod. “You shall hereby be known as Mandanna Murthy!” blessed the lord, and placed him in between him and his sister.
They moved on to Palurappa’s abode, and here too, like everywhere else, declined his invitation to stay…
They moved to a place named Korambane, which was deemed unfit to stay by the brother. He then landed in Chotikaat motte, and from there, he came to Peeli motte. It was here that Kakotacha first laid his eyes on Kakotuparambu. His heart instantly bonded him to the place and he declared, “We have found our people and a home!” Well, he now needed to spread the word to the fearless and proud Kodavas who stayed there.
So he possessed a few cowherds from the Ammandira okka. Chappachanda Poovanna, who was walking by, relayed the news to the elders of the Ammandira okka. News spread like wildfire and the people accepted Kakotacha into their fold. He told them his story and progressed to settle to the right of the parambu.
But Kakotacha had overstepped a huge fact… Nalkeri already had a presiding deity: the fierce, short tempered and benevolent Chaundi.
And you can imagine how Goddess Chaundi must have reacted…
“WHERE IS HE??!’” she bellowed, rage coursing through her veins. She chased him to the temple square, trying to get her sword on him.
But a transformation engulfed her at the temple square. Chaundi, the mother goddess, the most feared of all, understood. She blessed her people and forgave Kakotacha for setting foot on her territory. She also proposed a condition that she would still get the first puja. This was a little more than what Kakotacha had bargained for, but he was in such raptures with the beauty of Kakotuparambu, that he readily agreed. Also, no one wanted the Goddess to fly into another rage.
Thus the people finally celebrated the journey of their new lord for three days with enthusiasm and gaiety. He handed the responsibility of hosting the annual festival to the Ammandira okka. This tradition still persists, and the temple treasures are guarded by the Ammandira clan. He also named them as his Deva thakka.
Such is the story of Kakotacha. Now, onto the festivities. As mentioned in the story, the festivities go on for three days. Twelve days before the namme, a ‘peeli mand’ is held every night. It is held at the peak of the parambu, where a sacred fire is lit. The men dance around it into the night. What is a peeli, you ask? It is a bunch of peacock feathers. The person appointed to carry it has to be ‘pure’ that is, hemust not eat meat, or consume any alcohol until the namme is over. He can then hold the peeli and lead the men to do a peeli aat. He is aided by another man who ‘sings’. The ‘song’ and the ritual that concerns it is known as ‘Mandakkana paado’ .
Then come the festivities. On the first day, as evening gently arrives, the Martha Therey(s; both of them are known as Martha Thereys) come to bless their people. Interestingly enough, the area where they ‘dance’ is right on an elevated area leading down to the temple. This is done to appease Mandanna Murthy.
They travel across the parambu. A ritual is completed by the Kunjira okka and later, from the Keri of Thonur, the Bandhara arrives.
The next day is the main festival.In the wee hours, when the stars are still in the sky, all the clans in Nalkeri set off to the temple. This time is known by a beautiful name…. Irbolk. It’s a combination of ‘irt’ (dark) and ‘bolk’. (Light). When fused together, the name Irbolkis formed. It literally translates to ‘darkness and light’; but in fact is the name of the Lord’s sacred lamp, or bolcha.
After Irbolk, and after ‘thappadka’ the people return home, where the medas, or folk musicians arrive at our doorstep. They have been there for the peeli aat. They play their instruments, while we dance. Finally, as they leave, we give them both money and some rice as a way of saying “Thanks!”
People leave for the temple after lunch. There are little makeshift shops lining the road, it’s as if the sleepy village has transformed into a lively bazaar! The air is thick with the fragrances of fast food and flowers, and all around you is the sound of shopkeepers crying out their wares and the distant ‘dum thak thaka thak’ of chendes….
All the four keris bring four objects for the temple.
From the Keri of Pemmad, comes the sacred horse.
From the Keri of Pandmaad comes the chowri.
From the Keri of Thonur comes the bandhara.
Then, the menfolk dance the robust bolkaat in the temple square.
Soon enough, the Thadambu is lead to the large peepal tree. It goes around it twelve times.
Okay… Ritual time is over! The Chaundi Therey, sporting a towering crown, or mudi, dressed in a furious red sets her sights on the Thadambu. She roars as her aide clears a path and rushes towards the Thadambu, sword aloft in her hand, as it escapes.
This is the main attraction of the festival. Watching the scene, it’s hard not to imagine the real legend, the real scene that played out so many years ago….
Finally, She walks to the temple square, where she blesses her people. She is appeased and calm now. She leaves with an eternal warning to the priest: “ Do not stray into the path of dishonesty and impurity. Carry out the rituals properly. These are my people. Help them, and do so unconditionally!”
The festival resumes next evening. The azure sky tinted with Saffron is a contrast to the loud clanging and banging going on in the temple square. This is a ritual wherein, people believe that the spirit of the Lord enters the priest. The entry of the spirit is noted by minute vibrations that the priest experiences.
The lord, then with his aides, walk to bethri and take a holy dip in the Thayoor Pole(in case you didn’t figure it out, it’s River Kaveri). He is stopped and worshipped on his way back, and by the time he reaches, it’s nightfall. He circles the temple again, and finally, sets the Thadambu in the sanctum sanctorum.
And this grand festival ends with a Mahapuja that is symbolic of destroying the darkness in all hearts and replacing it with acceptance, forgiveness and peace. Sounds a lot like the legend, does it not? The next evening, the Bandhara is led to the thakka’s house, after a discussion with all the elders. This officially draws the namme to a close. It is not a thing to be said, but a thing to be experienced…. Experienced by all the senses and the soul…
This is the story. This is the festival. This is Kakotuparambu.
- The present thakka of the temple is Ammandira Chethan.
- The festival is held in the month of Birchyar (December), during either 14th,15th,and 16th, orduring 15th,16th, and 17th.
- The address of the temple is Kakotuparambu Kakotacha temple, Kakotuparambu, Nalkeri Village.
- The temple is simple in name: Kakotuparambu Kakotacha Kalabhairava Devasthana. The deity is Kakotacha Kalabhairava.