About the okka
There are many Kotera okka’s in different villages and are not related to each other. Kotera okka in Murnad is said to be the original Kotera and all the other Kotera okkas are said to have simply adopted the name.
Their ancestors came away from Sunticoppa because of quarrels related to their land there, and settled here where they had jamma land. When their first ainmane got burnt, the three brothers built three ainmanes (balyamanes). One fell and was sold – that bhaga had only girls and was becoming kuthi nasha. Now only two bhagas remain,. These two have the same patte and pattedara. This okka had three brothers Kushalappa (who built this house), Madappa and Biddappa.
Muddayya Raja was pleased with karanava Kuttayya’s services during a war and named the okka after his fort (kote). This okka is the original Kotera okka. All the others, we were told, simply adopted the name. Besides naming the okka Kotera, Muddayya Raja got this ainmane and the small tank in front built for Kuttayya and gave him 100 bhatti bhumi, pleased with his services during a war. Karanava Kuttayya’s younger brother Motayya moved to Balamberi near the Kotera house. He was called Naḍangote (Naḍanḍa+ Kote) because the king gave him Naḍanḍa land. His okka was called Naḍanḍa. They have a smaller ainmane there.
There are many Kotera okkas in different villages. They are not related to each other, and can inter-marry. But they get together to form a team for the annual inter-okka hockey tournament.They have a very old odi kathi that they believe the Raja gave them. They do not know any story related to it.
Doḍḍa Veeraraja moved this okka from their earliest aroḍa in Kunjila to Nelji, the land that had belonged to the Koḍandera okka. (The Koḍandera okka had wanted more land than they had in Nelji, and were moved to Buttangāla). Of the five brothers of this okka who were living in Nelji, one brother – Bolliappajja came back here. By then the old aroḍa (dating back to the early 1600’s) here in Kunjila had fallen, and he rebuilt it. This ainmane and the Kotera mund mane in Murnsḍ-Baḍaga are probably the earliest of the Kotera houses (aroḍas). It is said that the Kotera land in Kunjila had originally belonged to the Chourira okka,who moved to Podd and have their ainmane there now.
The Kotera okka has a history that goes back at least to 1718, since it is known that Paradanḍa Diwan Ponnappa’s son Annayya (who revived the Kunjalageri Mukkatira okka in 1718 and became its karanava), married Ummavva from the Balamberi Kotera okka in 1720. But no details or names of the Kotera okka are known after that until that of karanava Kuttayya in the 1780s.
This okka along with the BoỊthanḍa and BoỊỊachettira okkas lived in small thatched houses in a gudde mane (a cluster of houses) in an ur guppe (settlement) in Kotath kaad, not far Balamberi. In 1818, during harvest time, some Meda boys were playing at make-believe cooking in a BoỊỊachettira shed, and the shed caught fire. The fire quickly spread to the BoỊỊachettira house and the Kotera house that was next to it. To this day one can see stones and bricks from the houses that burnt down, and the old well and lane they had there. Their ancestors built a temple to Kotathappa in Kotath kaad. That temple fell to ruins.
There is a nearly 300 year old relationship between this okka and the Chowrira okka of Podd (Hoddur). Both karanava Kuttayya and his grandson Appanna married from that okka. Karanava Kuttayya married Chowrira Diwan Appanna’s younger sister, and his son Somanna became a karyakara (commanding officer) in Lingaraja’s army. Diwan Chowrira Appanna had helped Lingaraja to become the king. But when he opposed the king from naming his son Chikka Viraraja as his successor, Lingaraja was furious with him and in a fit of anger got the Diwan killed by nailing him to a tree. At that time, he got all the Diwan’s relatives including his nephew Somanna killed.
Kuttayya’s grandson Appanna (his second son Belliappa’s son) married Chowrira Subedar Kalappa’s daughter. Appanna built this ainmane with considerable help from his father-in-law. The king’s permission (which was necessary those days) was obtained to build it as a mund mane. Appanna got a tank and well dug – but they were too far from the ainmane for the Kotera women to fetch water, and were used by women of the neighbouring Palandira okka. Later, a well was dug near the Kotera ainmane.
Once, when karanava Kuttayya was taking eth por to Payyavur, an ox strayed and got lost. Kuttayya prayed to goddess Pudiyodi and vowed to establish her in his house if the ox was found. After the ox was found, he established Pudiyodi in his ainmane and arranged for an annual Pudiyodi theare in the Otambala mand in the village. After some differences with the villagers, Kuttayya started celebrating the theare in his own fields once in five years. In 1949, the pattedara of the okka decided to celebrate the theare in the ainmane compound itself. It is a grand function (like the one in the Iychettira ainmane), and large crowds attend it and get Pudiyodi’s blessings.
Kotera Devappa and Ichoḍiyanḍa Poovanna (the fifth son of karanava Nandicha) who were good friends were employed as chavadikaras (guards)in the Raja’s fort in Madikeri. Having worked there for a year, when they were denied leave for Puthari, they left the fort without the king’s knowledge to be home for the festival. Fearing the king’s wrath, they prayed to every deity on the way from Maḍikeri to Balamberi. After Puthari, the two friends went hunting for muchchas (a kind of monkey) needing its hide to make dudis. They got separated in the forest, and Poovanna climbed a tree and hid there. Devappa, mistaking Poovanna for a muchcha, shot him dead. Horrified on seeing his friend’s body drop from the tree, Devappa was filled with grief. He took Poovanna’s gun and shot himself dead. When the king heard this news, he was furious that his chavadikaras had absconded from duty. As punishment, he got their bodies tied by the legs and dragged to the Battamakki forest nearby. The ghosts of the friends then started troubling way-farers from Balamberi to Battamakki. People complained about this to the king, who ordered the families of the two friends to cremate their bodies according to Kodava rites. When the villagers went to Battamakki forest, they could not find the bodies for ten days. When they did find them, they were amazed that the bodies had neither decayed, nor had been eaten by wild animals. They believed that the deities to whom the friends had prayed on their way home from the fort had protected the corpses. After their death, the two friends became beeras (hero spirits). The Kotera okka used to make offerings of cooked rice to their beera Devappa. This stopped in the 1900s.This okka has always been called a ‘koranda kula’ (a kula that is reduced), because it is a small okka with not many members.
Members of the Kotera okka have been village Patels for generations and, since the time of the Lingayath Rajas, this okka has had representation in the local Panchayath. About 10 or 15 years ago, they handed over their responsibility as village Patels to the Kongeeranda okka, because they found it difficult to go to the Revenue Office in Napoklu.
- Kotera M. Bheemaiah – Garhwal Rifles Maj. General
- Kotera Sharan Aiyappa – Major