About the okka
The Kalyatanḍa okka is believed to have settled in Kunjila around the 12th century AD. Kalyatanḍa Ajjappa’s was one of the most famous legendary heroes of Koḍagu, Kalyatanḍa Ponnappa (son of karanava Kuttappa) was a warrior who attained god-like status and is worshipped all over Koḍagu as Kalyatanḍa Ajjappa. He lived during the time of the first king of the Paleri dynasty, Veeraraja (1600 – 1608). Ponnappa, who learnt magic in Malabar, befriended BoỊthu of the KataỊa tribe from BoỊỊur in KeraỊa, who had left his home after an altercation with his father and came to Koḍagu. Ponnappa also decided to leave his home after a similar incident with his own father. The two friends set off to Thavunaḍ where the Nayaka, Karnem Bahu, who was opposed to Veerarāja, tried to befriend Ponnappa. When Ponnappa spurned his offer of friendship, Karnem Bahu tried to capture him. Ponnappa sought the help of Veeraraja, who sent him a troop of five hundred men under the command of Kutta Pale Mayila.
Karnem Bahu got the two friends drugged by an old woman. When they staggered in a stupor to Ponnappa’s mother-in-law’s Kuttanjettira house, they were surrounded by Karnem Bahu’s soldiers. In the battle that followed, Ponnappa struck down all his enemies single-handedly, but succumbed to his wounds and died. Heart-broken by this, his friend BoỊthu killed himself. The spirits of the two friends caused body aches and pains to everyone they touched. The worried people of the naḍ got a thanthri to capture their spirits, but they were released by their friend Kutta Palee Mayila. They then went to god Sarthavu in Makki and asked for god-like status. Sarthavu granted them their wish and gave them places to stay by his shrine. He also granted them the power to cure those suffering from aches and pains.
Ponnappa is said to have been 30 years old when he died near the Kuttanjettira ainmane. He was cremated there and his tomb was built at the spot where he died.
The first adi neleof Kalyatanḍa Ponnappa (Ajjappa) is in Kunjila, in the kaimada (Beera kota) of the Kalyatanḍa okka. There is another Ajjappa nele near the ambala in Nalaḍi. Ajjappa and BoỊthu have been established in many shrines in Koḍagu, the most famous one being the Makki Sarthavu temple.
It is believed that besides these, Ajjappa has sthanas in each of the 12 kombus of Koḍagu. The ones that the okka knows of are in Beth Kaḍiyathur, Palur, Bettageri, Nelji, Napoklu, Podd, Nemmale, and Kothur. Annual festivals are conducted in these shrines in Ponnappa’s honour, when a Maleya or Baṇṇa is possessed by Ponnappa’s spirit and acts as an oracle. These oracles are authorized by the chief oracle in the Makki Sarthavu temple.
Ponnappa is also worshipped in many okkas where his theare is conducted. The one possessed by Ponnappa at these theares limps when walking, because Ponnappa fell and hurt his leg during the battle with Karnem Bahu’s soldiers.
- Kalyatanda B Chinnappa
- Kaliyatanda Vidhya