The customs that are followed on a person’s death plays a vital role in Kodava community. Not everyone are cremated, few are buried. The main idea behind this is to show respect to the deceased person.
- 1 Chhaavu Mane
- 2 Pol thekath kootuvo Padathi
- 3 Thekathe kootuvo padathi
- 4 Onik Illivo padathi
- 5 Aruva Shastra
- 6 Ritual Bath and dressing
- 7 Kattkaal
- 8 Arrangements for Burying
- 9 Arrangements for firing
- 10 Procedures followed after the arrangements for burying/firing
- 11 Kadpathnaal
- 12 Kullik nippo Padathi
- 13 Rituals for burying the body
- 14 Rituals for firing the body
- 15 Next day after cremation
When death approaches, i.e when a person’s eye starts glazing, he is immediately taken to Nellakki Nadubade of the house and laid on the mat under the lamp, placing head to the east.
When the dying man opens his mouth, a coconut is broken inside kachi thaliya and this coconut water is dipped either with tulsi/Basil leaves or white cloth and poured inside the mouth of the dying person. If Theertha or Holy water is available even that can be used.
When it is confirmed that the person is dead, either unmarried man or woman will go to the patti and fire a gun shot once in the air; if married, they will fire it twice rapidly. This is done in order to announce the news of death to the neighbours. Once people hear this gunshot, they gather in the Chhaavu Mane (death home).
If the person dies before noon, the cremation will take place on that day itself; if it is after noon then the next day.
Pol thekath kootuvo Padathi
If the cremation takes place on the day itself, then immediately after the gun shot, the dead persons both the thumb fingers of leg are tied together, Eyelids and mouth are closed. A piece of white cloth is tied around the head to jaw; nose and ear buds are plugged with cotton. Later on the dead body is placed in the North South direction (head toward north, leg towards south). A white cloth is spread on the body. This procedure is called as “pol thekath kootuvo Padathi”.
Thekathe kootuvo padathi
If the person is dead after noon “Thekathe kootuvo padathi” . In this method, people will enter the thekath koot where the dead body is kept; remove the spread cloth only from face, take the blessing and then enter the house. In this way the dead body is laid there till 10.30 in the night and after 10.30 the dead body is made to lean on the north side of the wall, navel is tied with salt watered cloth, kachhi thaliya is placed behind the head and covered with white cloth. After this procedure no one will see dead person’s face until next day morning. Oorkara, kerikara, menekara and relatives will guard the dead until next day morning; also Poleya with volaga.
Onik Illivo padathi
Early in the morning when chicken starts crowning, rice is kept on the Oni. This is called as “Onik Illivo padathi”. After this padathi the dead body is placed on the wooden plank, on the steps, in front of the house.
If the dead person is married then his wife and children, if he is unmarried then the person who is younger to him in his family will step into Oni (onik ilivo).
When offering water to dead person’s mouth, a piece of coconut, rice on a banana leaf, water in a Mug, wick dipped in oil, white cloth to drape over their shoulders are taken and the people who perform “Aruva Shastra” are gathered. From house to Oni one coconut piece upon that a wick is lighted on both the sides.
Once the coconut gets over, rice is placed and mug of water is taken on the left shoulder and sprinkled on the right shoulder and hands are washed. If it is the wife of the dead person then their hair let loose and a white cloth is draped over their shoulder. After this ritual, a gunshot is fired once in the air if unmarried; if married, fired twice rapidly.
People from “Aruva Okka” will perform all the work related to the dead and also serve food to the people gathered in the death home. They get food inside the house from back entrance. Fire place is not lighted in the death house.
If Aruva is not present in okka, then the food is brought from neighbouring house or mothers or wife’s thaamane.
Ritual Bath and dressing
After these rituals the body is placed under the lamp in Nellakki Nadubade. The body is leaned to the wall and made to sit with crossed folded legs on a flat surface. Tulsi garland is put, using 3 fingers Kuri unde is applied on forehead for 3 times, Mouth and nose is filled with red cloth, a piece of white cloth is tied around the head to jaw.
If the dead person is woman, same procedure as above except draped with Kambi podiya.
Kattkaal is prepared by neighbours and family members. To do this, an old chair with hand is chosen. A rope made out of creepers such as Rhaphidophosra pertusa is tied on both the sides of the leg and a branch of plant called as “Kaarate” in kodava thakk is broken into 3 pieces are tied around the chair. The stem of Kaarate plant is broken and bent in the form of arch and tied on both the sides of chair from front hand to back hand. On both the corners of backside of the chair, a “Kaarate” stem is tied along with coconut shell.
Rope made out of “Pulp Balli” (in kodava thakk) is taken and to the tip of this rope one piece of “Kaipuli” is tied with cut portion facing downwards; on top of it “Manja Putt”, “Paambalera thund” is tied. This rope is then tied on both the sides of arch.
Bunch of grass covered with white cloth is tied around the place where the leg is kept.
Arrangements for Burying
The ground is dug in the North – South direction; small piece of thorn stems, short stick with hook at one end, one Sickle and one spade with handle are kept on the burial ground.
A pendal/Chappara is built near this.
Arrangements for firing
A green mango tree and a few dry woods are chopped off.
2 ½ feet is dug on all the four corners of the ground in a square form and wooden poles are placed on each corner. In the middle of these poles, two large pieces of wooden poles (2 feet width 3 feet long) are placed in north south direction. On top of this, a bulk of chopped pieces (3 feet long) of wood are placed in East – West direction and one more bulk in North South direction.
A pendal/Chappara is built near this.
Procedures followed after the arrangements for burying/firing
After preparing the cremation ground as mentioned above, people return back to death home and place all the equipments like sickle, spade, etc., in front of the house and go inside and take the blessings of the body. Then they inform the members about their work in the thootengala. After this, one of the family members will go outside and fire a gunshot.
Chopped wood from Booty tree is placed on Banana leaf lamina and fired. This fire is taken outside from the front of the house and is taken to thootengala.
After this procedure, Kattkaal is bought infront of the house and placed in North South direction. Body is bought out along with Palambu (mat) and place on the Kattkaal. Rapid gunshot for two times is fired to give identification that the dead body is lifted up. This gun is tied behind the chair, to the right side. Along with this, a large bill hook is tied on the other side.
Two plates are placed on both the sides, one to offer money and other one for water and Tulsi leaf. Members gathered there, will pour water into the mouth of dead. After this, few people will join hands to lift Kattkaal on all the four direction and will place it on their shoulder and rotate for 3 times in anticlockwise direction; one woman will throw Samayathakki. After the third round when the Kattkaal faces the front of the house, it is swinged to and fro for 3 times and then taken to thootengala.
On the way to thootengala, 3 times the Kattkaal is put down without touching the ground, when this is done the relation of the dead will touch feet and take blessings. This shastra will be carried out thrice until they reach thootengala. The body is now placed under the Pendal in the North South direction.
If the dead is cremated on Tuesday or Friday then that day is referred as “Kadpathnaal”. On this day, a chicken is made to fly in front of the body and money is thrown.
Kullik nippo Padathi
If the dead man is married, then his wife and children; if he is unmarried then younger people in his relation will stand for the padathi called “Kullik nippo”.
Whoever stands for “Kullik nippo” will go with one kindi, one coconut, one mud pot, basket of Samayathakki. After washing their face and leg, a ring made out of dry grass will be tied to their middle finger. Thombda made of grass and top of it mangoe leaves will be placed.
- The person who stands infront will hold kindi with dry grass (garikepille) and mango leaves.
- The person in the middle will hold mud pot. (The kindi and mud pot will be filled with water)
- The person who stands behind will carry coconut on his head.
A person will pass the Samayathakki basket on top of these 3 persons for 3 times and for the fourth time Samayathakki will be poured out of the basket. A white sheet of cloth will be held on these three people’e head. These 3 will go near the dead body by pouring little water from mango leaves until they reach the spot. They will go around the burial ground/wooden plank for 3 times. After this they will go near the dead body and place kindi behind, mud pot in the middle and coconut in front. After placing all these things, they will go around the body for three times.
Coconut will be broken by kneeling down by the person who was carrying it; kindi water will be spilled by the person who was holding it and the mud pot will be hit to the chairs leg.
Kullik Nindha person will not have milk, honey, meat, fish, egg, otti, dose; also will not season curry. They will sit on the thombuda and will sleep on a mat by placing their head on small stool.
Rituals for burying the body
The white cloth which was spread on top of the body will be tied tightly and a bit of cloth from the mouth will be teared. The body is placed inside the ground in such a way that head faces north. People surrounding the pit will throw mud on the body for three times. After this, using spade with handle the pit is filled with mud and packed tightly. On top of this thorn and sticks are placed.
The food box which was carried on the way will be placed on the ground, near the head of the body uttering “Maarkoodchee” following a gunshot and return home.
Rituals for firing the body
The dead body will be lifted from the Kattkaal and will be placed on the wooden plank facing north – south direction. The broken wooden pieces will be stacked on all the four direction.
If married, wife or aged children, if unmarried, younger person will perform the funeral rites of lighting the Pyre and then return back home. People staying there, will tear the palmbu (mat) into two pieces and swing the mat on both the direction on the fire to burn quickly.
After sometime, the carried food box is opened and kept to the left side of the body uttering “Maarkoodchee” and then a gunshot is fired.
After returning home, raw banana is chopped and prepared for dinner. Only after the cremation, the fire place inside the kitchen will be lit.
Next day after cremation
After reaching the spot, they will start clearing the ashes from the ground; the ashes are spilled on the roots of the tree (which produces milk). The cleared ground is now poured with water until the heat on the ground reduces. After this procedure, paddy is sprinkled and milk is poured on the wet ground.
Before sunrise, little bit of ash is taken in the basket and poured to the running water. Younger people in the relation will shave their head, moustache and beard.