JEST FOR TAMASI.. ( By Mallengada Neeraj)
Whats in a nammme…?
In addition to the already numerous confusing theories of our origins – Greek, Arabic, Iranian etc. etc. – I propose an American connection..
Today’s world is all about numbers – be it in the news, in stock markets, in sports, fashion or in entertainment. So we start with some basic namme-rology.
The number 18 is a popular number in the Jewish culture (which probably has the largest community living in the US). The number 18 represents good luck and has a spiritual significance symbolizing chai or life.
In Kodagu, Kavery shankramana almost always falls around October – 18.
Kailpodhu is on the 18th day after the sun enters simha raashi or leo
Our famous ‘maddhu koolu’ prepared from leaves of the highly medicinal plant has its highest potency and is prepared only after the 18th day of kakkada month.
As Kodavas, our most important festivals are kailpodhu, puttari and kaveri sankramana.
Our Kailpodhu festival celebrated on September – 3 almost exactly coincides with Labor Day in the US, which is celebrated on the first Monday in September.
Kailpodhu is characterized by heavy feasting, drinking and get-togethers by the kodavas while Labor day across the US is celebrated with picnics, barbecues, parades, fireworks displays and other public gatherings.
Kail podhu signifies completion of “naati”(meaning transplantation of the rice crop) while Labor Day here symbolizes the end of a busy summer for Americans and the start of a hopefully bounteous and fruitful autumn season.
Puttari meaning “new rice” is our rice harvest festival in Kodagu and falls around late November or early December which almost coincides with Thanksgiving in the US and also symbolizes the end of the harvest season. It also involves giving thanks to God for the good harvest, and celebrations along with close Family and the
community in general.
Thanksgiving is of course synonymous with the lavish dinners involving roast turkey, dressings and gravy, cornbread, various stews, casseroles, meat pies, dessert pies, puddings etc. Puttari on the other hand is also famous for our lavish local delicacies of thambuttu, puttari kalanjii, kadambuttu, pandi curry, meen curry, holige, puttari payasa etc.
Our Kaveri Sankramana falls around mid October ..which is very close to Halloween in the US – although there is absolutely no similarity between the origins of the two holidays, their timing in the year is still a funny coincidence. .
Also both festivals do involve pumpkins ..The celebration in Kodagu involves married women performing puja to a vegetable(symbolizing Godess Kaveri) after decorating it with flowers and jewels. It is followed by a meal of dosey – kumbala kari – payasa in kodagu while in the US there is the decorating and carving of the kumbala (or pumpkins) and eating of pumpkin pies.
On Kaveri shankramana, younger members of the community ceremonially seek blessings by visiting the elder members within the family and the neighborhood community. The parallel in the US is the popular fun activity of trick-or-treat where children visit homes in their neighborhood (to perform tricks to earn their treats) which again symbolizes Love or blessings from the adults.
For the American kodava, who is at the happy confluence of both of these worlds, all of these festivals therefore hold double the significance – he gets to eat his pie and keep his payasa too!