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Coluvanda Cariappa

Author

Mookonda Kushalappa

Brief Biography

Coluvanda Cariappa, was a Subedar and later Head Sheristadar of the Mercara taluk in Coorg. Madikeri was known as Mercara and Kodagu as Coorg in those days. The Head Sheristadar was a judicial clerical native officer. This position was one of the highest ranked Indian posts during the British Raj.

Cariappa was among the earliest Kodavas to complete his matriculation. He was also one of the original members of the Coorg Education Fund. This Fund provided support towards educating the people of Kodagu during the British Raj.

He loved hunting as a hobby and was in fact an accomplished game hunter as well. His Narimangala was held and attended by many people, both natives and Europeans. The ceremony got wide coverage.

Cariappa, along with a few other Kodavas of his times, helped promote education in Kodagu. Before the coming of the British to Kodagu, the Kodavas were largely unlettered. Most Kodavas were unable to read or write in any language before Cariappa’s times.

Feature

Given below are a picture and an article about his Narimangala published in London in 1873. This journal is available online on Google Books.

Colovonda Cariappa is in a white Kuppya and seated in this picture published in The Illustrated London News

Coluvanda Cariappa is in a white Kuppya and seated in this picture published in ‘The Illustrated London News’ (December 6th 1873, page 532, Vol. LXIII). He is mentioned as ‘Colovanda Carriapah, Head Sheristadar of the Mercara Talook’. This illustration was originally a wooden engraving sketched by Captain Belford Cummins. Cummins attended Coluvanda Cariappa’s Nari Mangala along with other Englishmen and women.

The Illustrated London News was a weekly newspaper published by Elm House and produced by the Ingram family. It was the world’s first weekly news magazine.

Citation

The Illustrated London NewsDecember 06th, 1873, pages 531 and 532, Vol. LXIII:

A TIGER WEDDING IN COORG

“The small province of Coorg, in Southern India, is situated among the mountains that separate Mysore from the Malabar coast to the west. Its late Rajah, being of cruel and treacherous misrule, was deposed in 1834, and the Coorgs, being put to the vote, unanimously desired to become complete subjects of the British Government. In 1852, the deposed Rajah visited England, accompanied by his daughter Gauramma, and paid his former enemies the compliment of seeking for her an English and Christian education. In June 30, 1852, she was baptized, the Queen herself standing sponsor, and giving her the name ‘Victoria.’ The Princess Victorian Gauramma, who was a constant visitor to her Majesty at Osborne and Windsor, eventually married an English officer of the name of Campbell. She died in 1864; her tyrant father lies buried in the Kensal-green Cemetery.
“A good description of Coorg will be found in ‘Eastern Experiences,’ by Mr. Lewin Bowring, late Resident or Governor of Mysore. The natives are distinguished for their fine appearance and warlike temper. They are skillful hunters, being trained for this from infancy; at the birth of a boy, the first thing done is to place a little bow and arrow in his hands, and to fire a gun outside the house, thus initiating his career as a huntsman and warrior.
“In the accompanying illustration there is abundance of music, feasting, torchlight, and dancers; and the owner of the mansion is brought in with triumph to graces the festival.
“A curious ceremony takes place when a tiger has been shot by a Coorg man. Tigers are not numerous in the country, and this ceremony has only occurred twice within the past four years. On the last occasion, March 9 of this year, the successful huntsman was Mr. Colovanda Carriapah, Head Sheristadar of the Mercara Talook. In this ceremony the man is wedded to the soul of the dead tiger.
“As shown in the Illustration, he is seated under a canopy in full warrior costume. On each side are placed his weapons and the household emblems of plenty, vessels of rice and milk, and burning lamps, analogous to the Masonic corn, wine and oil. So he sits, receiving the homage and congratulations of his relatives and friends. Each scatters a few grains of rice over his head, and gives him a sip of milk from a brass vessel resembling a teapot, and makes an offering in money, varying in value according to the means of the donor. The hero of the day is afterwards carried in triumph round the tiger, which is suspended to a high bamboo grame in the garden. The officers and ladies of the regiment stationed at Mercara, who reside in the late Rajah’s palace, were specially invited to attend.
“Mr. Carriapah is a native Coorg gentleman of high merit and distinction. He wears the gold Coorg medal, which was presented by the British Government to his father, for suppressing an insurrection in South Canara. Our correspondent would further testify to Mr. Carriapah’s unvarying support of English education among the Coorgs. A wealthy and influential man, he spares neither time nor money in this cause, and has, at his sole expense, erected schools for Coorg girls as well as boys, and has on several occasions received the thanks of the Government of India, as well as of the local Government of Mysore and Coorg.
“We are indebted to Captain Belford Cummins, of the Staff Corps at Mercara, for the sketch we have engraved.“

Main Sources:

1. Ingram, W., & Ingram, C. (Eds.). (1873, December 6). A Tiger Wedding in Coorg. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://books.google.co.in/books?id=rkbTw4pv3sYC&pg=PA531#v=onepage&q&f=false

2. Richter, G. 1870, Manual of Coorg (Coorg Gazetteer)

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