Bisu Changrandi (Edamyar Ond)
Article By Mathranda Vilma Poonacha
This Article won the First Prize in the Essay competition conducted by Kodava Samaja Youth Council, Bangalore in association Kodavaclan
Edmyaar Ondh is the 1st day of a new year according to the solar calendar (falls on April 14th this year), which most of the Indian communities follow. Edmyaar being the first month in our calendar. It has been called with various names all over India and we call it Bishu Changrandi. Vishu in Kerala which is celebrated on the same day is believed to have been celebrated since 844 AD. Majority of our community believe that we celebrate this day as our new year after being influenced by the neighboring community, without questioning as to why it couldn’t be that we influenced our neighbors. (This article was written with the intention to improve my knowledge, and eventually others with stories and experiences of people who grew up celebrating this day, rather than comprehending why our community ended up celebrating Ugadi and such.)
My whole family – on both sides – hail from Kigattnaad , and while talking to my grandmother as to how they celebrated edmyaar ondh during her childhood, a time before modernism affected the young generation of kodagu. She recalled that it was the day they would ready the oxen/buffalo to plough the field. We as a community never start anything without seeking blessings from Kaveramme , Iguthappa , Eshwara and Guru karana and similarly before hauling the cattle to field, prayers followed by ceremonial throwing of rice ( Akki ido ) are carried out – even if they weren’t ready to carry out the ploughing of all the field they would do three rounds to symbolically mark the day.
Ponnaar – my grandmother recalls rubbing a piece of gold to the iron front of the plough/neegi ( kollu ) as a way to bring in luck during the paddy season. The men used to break a branch off the Naru mara (the leaves of the tree are also called kadambutt leaf) which had leaves in it and use it to guide the cattle on the field and then on returning to the house it was tied to the front roof of the house (kaukol). While discussing with my family about the traditions carried out during this day, my father’s eldest brother delineated the steps our family carried with a few more details. The cattle are brought to the front yard in front of the house ( patti ), everyone gathers in the Baade to light the lamp and seek blessings from our Gods, goddesses and ancestors, followed by akki ido . The cattle are then hauled to the field and made to stand facing the Sun, the plough/ negi is tied to the cattle and the field is ploughed in the circle for 3 rounds.
He also mentions that if the new year falls on a Monday, we do not carry out the rituals as it is considered as the day cattle, Basava, was born. When this happens, according to the calendar the next auspicious day is considered to carry the rituals out.
On this day every household offers prayers to their ancestors in the form of Meedhi , which we call meedhi beppo. Few families gather in the Kaimada a day before or on the day and offer prayers and thanks to their Guru karana ( Karana Kodpo ) – although my uncle did mention that it doesn’t need to be on this day itself, also reiterating that it is not connected with bishu changradi, although in the village my grandmother stays, Tuchamkeri, families believe in ending the previous year and starting the new one with paying respect to the ancestors.
This ritual of celebrating our ancestors is very unique and endearing. This day is celebrated in various parts of India in different forms Poila Baisakh in Bengal, Baisakhi in Punjab, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam – all of which are festivals celebrating the commencement of the new year involving feast, celebratory dance and praising the lord. We are the sole community that offers prayers to our ancestors on occasions like this.
The beauty in the way of a farmer or a nature worshiper is that he celebrates the new year by dedicating himself to agriculture. These are the principles that help found our rich culture which have not been lost even with the increasing modernization and influences from various cultures and communities.