By P.T. Bopanna

Team Ammanichanda is the new kid on the block. The Kodava family hockey is dominated by over half a dozen families.

After a successful run for about 22 years, Kodagu’s (Coorg) biggest hockey tournament being conducted by the Appachettolanda family this season, has the participation of a record 336 families.

One of the highlights of the ongoing tournament at Napoklu is the emergence of the not so well-known Ammanichanda hockey team which reached the quarter finals this season.

What impressed me about the Ammanichanda family (in picture) was their social media post, on their valiant fight against the mighty Palanganda team on April 6. I wish to quote excerpts from their post:

“Team Ammanichanda warriors fought very bravely with the 5 times Champions Team Palanganda till the very end of the game, before going down 1-2.

“Earlier in the match, Team Ammanichanda dominated the opponent and Vignesh Bopanna gave the team an advantageous lead by scoring the first goal of the match, surprising the large audience gathered. Team Ammanichanda were in fact leading the champion team Palanganda 1-0.

But, during the course of the tough match, opponent got the upper hand by scoring two goals.

“Team Ammanichanda players put a valiant fight throughout the match and won everyone’s hearts by never giving up till the last minute.

For his impressive performance, Team Ammanichanda’s Yashwanth Nachappa was awarded the Player of the Match.

“Team Ammanichanda bid farewell to the prestigious tournament by becoming one of the best 8 teams out of 336 teams, at one of the world’s largest hockey event.”

The Palanganda family has won the maximum number of cups in the 22 tournaments that have been held up to 2018, by winning five times. The other teams with a good track record, include Kaliyanda, Koothanda, Kullettira, Nellamakkada, Anjaparavanda and Chenanda.

One of the less fancied teams which has reached the semi-finals this time is Kuppanda (Kaikeri).

The Appachettolanda Cup tournament was inaugurated by chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on March 18.

On April 7, the semi-finals will be played between Nellamakkada vs. Kulletira and Palanganda vs. Kuppanda (Kaikeri).



By P.T. Bopanna

Renowned researcher and an authority on Kodava culture, Boverianda Chinnappa (in picture) passed away on Friday night at Mysuru. He is survived by his wife and partner in his research works Dr Nanjamma Chinnappa.

The cremation of B.M. Chinnappa (89) was held on Saturday morning at Mysuru where the couple was living in the past few years.

This reporter is particularly saddened by the passing of Chinnappa as the couple had helped him immensely in his book and website projects.

Chinnappa was an engineer with degrees from Guindy, Madras University and Northwestern University, USA.

Nanjamma and Chinnappa, worked in Canada for nearly 20 years before they moved back to India after retirement.

Their first project was to translate into English “Pattole Palame”, a book on Kodava culture, folk songs and traditions, written by their common grandfather, Nadikerianda Chinnappa in the Kodava language and first published in 1924.

It took them nearly eight years to complete the translation of the book which runs into 700-plus pages and was published in 2003.

After completion of the translation project, they chalked out several other Kodagu projects. Their second project was documenting the Ainmanes or ancestral homes spread across Kodagu.

The couple visited close to 700 traditional and functional ainmanes belonging to all communities in Kodagu, and had taken around 1,500 photographs during their field-work which took them five years. Besides, they had listed more than 1000 ain-manes which either do not exist now or have been re-built on modern lines, and hence lost their originality.

Their book, ‘Ainmanes of Kodagu’ which covers their socio-cultural significance also, includes detailed maps showing the location of each ainmane that was visited. It also has many appendices related to Kodava culture, that sets the ainmane in its social and historical context. The book was published in 2014.

They were currently working on a web-site that contains detailed information and photographs of each ainmane visited, including oral narratives related to the okka to whom the ainmane belongs. Nearly 570 ainmanes have been uploaded on the website to-date. The website has provision for free downloads and has become very popular in Kodagu.

The passing of Chinnappa is a great loss, especially to the Kodava community as he had put in long hours of work daily with Nanjamma in documenting the various facets of Kodagu. The couple also encouraged various projects related to Kodava culture by giving talks at various forums and contributed articles to newspapers and magazines.


By P.T. Bopanna

I have been working on putting together all my Kodagu-related papers, documents and article clippings with a view to hand them over to the library at Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Government College, Madikeri in Kodagu (Coorg) district.

My papers include official documents relating to Kodagu’s Jamma land tenure, firearms exemptions given to Kodavas (Coorgs) and articles on Kodagu written by me in the last two decades. There are also maps, and papers related to my journalism course at Bhavan’s Mumbai where I studied my post-graduate diploma in journalism.

In this herculean task, I have been helped by K. Eshwar Rao, who works at a printing unit near my house located in First Block Jayanagar East, Bengaluru. He has been in the printing line for 55 years.

The idea for putting together my papers came when I had been to his shop a few months ago for binding a book. He had done a meticulous job. This prompted me to think of organising my papers related to Kodagu as I was keen to pass them on to FMKMC College where they have started a M.A. degree course in Kodava language.

It may be recalled that two years ago, I had donated copies of all my books to FMKMC College.

I felt the books will be useful for the students to understand the contemporary issues pertaining to the district.

Since some of my books were out of print, I had saved a few copies for donation as the books could be made available for reference in one central place. For some of the books, I had multiple copies with me which I sent to the college. I had similarly donated my books previously to the Cauvery College at Gonikoppal in Kodagu.

I have been informed by the FMKMC College librarian Dr C. Vijayalatha that my books are put to good use by the students after the Mangalore University started M.A. degree course in Kodava language.

The college authorities have created a special space for my books in the shelf devoted to Kodagu culture.


By P.T. Bopanna

Sadguru Appaiah Swami (Palanganda), founder of Kaveri Ashrama in Virajpet, Kodagu district, inspired a generation of Kodavas (Coorgs) with his spiritual discourses. Appaiah Swami (in picture) had committed followers, both Kodava men and women, who were involved in running hostels at Virajpet, where thousands of Kodava children stayed as boarders over the years.

Kaveri Ashrama was in the news recently when the present head of the Ashrama, Vivekananda Sharana Swami, the son of Sadguru Appaiah Swami celebrated his birth centenary. The junior swami, won the hearts of people with his simple living and spiritual talks.

I used to call on the junior swami whenever I visited Virajpet town and handed over my books. Our conversations used to be amiable, though we held different points of view – Swami was a Vedic scholar, whereas I was a rationalist.

The Ashrama is an iconic institution of Kodavas with a record of service to the community. There have been speculation on the future of the Ashrama, its assets and the school being run by the organisation, in the wake of the aging swami not in a position to shoulder the responsibility.

Well-meaning Kodavas should take up the initiative to restore the Ashrama activities to benefit the community. For more on Sadguru, follow the link below:



By P.T. Bopanna

Vivekananda Sharana Swamiji (Palanganda) of the iconic Kaveri Ashrama, Virajpet in Kodagu district of Karnataka is celebrating his birth centenary on January 12. The Swamiji (in picture), is the son of Sadguru Appaiah Swami who founded the Kaveri Ashrama in 1941.

The senior Appaiah Swami was born as Palanganda Appaiah in 1885 at Kadangamurur in Virajpet taluk.  He was in government service. Though he was married and had children, he was inspired by Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda. He became a spiritual teacher and founded a monastery in Virajpet which had several members of Kodava community who had renounced their worldly lives and pursued the path of spiritualism and service. Appaiah Swami passed away in 1956 at the age of 71.

Appaiah’s son who is known as Gappu Annaiah in family circles, became a monk and took the name of Vivekananda Sharana Swami. He was a pious man who later took the responsibility of running the Kaveri Ashrama at Virajpet. Presently, he heads the Sri Kaveri Bhaktajana Sangha which is involved in running the affairs of the Ashrama and other properties attached to the Ashrama.

There have been speculative reports on social media that a Bengaluru-based Ashrama was taking over Kaveri Ashrama as Vivekananda Sharana Swami was too old to carry on the affairs of the Ashrama. There were also reports that vested interests were trying to grab the properties of the Ashrama spread across Kodagu.

A spokesman for the Ashrama clarified that the Ashrama was being run by a trust of 15 members. All the trustees are Kodavas except a member of the Omkar Ashram in Bengaluru who has been included in the trust to offer spiritual guidance.

It is a fact that the Ashrama which was buzzing with activity in the past, has become inactive because the aging Swami is not in a position to shoulder heavy responsibility. It is time for the Swamiji to shed his responsibilities in favour of other trustees.

Since vested interests are spreading misinformation, the Kodagu district administration should keep an eye on the developments to safeguard the interests of the Ashrama.  

The spokesperson claimed the Ashrama belongs to Kodavas and will remain in the control of Kodavas.



By P.T. Bopanna

Kodavas, a microscopic minority community hailing from Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, were once known for their leadership qualities. This Kodava trait of being natural leaders was very much in evidence in the Defence services and Kodagu came to be known as the ‘Land of the Generals’.

However, in the last few decades, the community has not produced many truly outstanding men and women, except in the arena of sports.

There could be many reasons for the setback. Though Kodavas are one of the most highly educated communities in India, they have not been able to break the glass ceiling in their chosen areas because of the lack of killer instinct.

As a chronicler of Kodagu, I felt one of the reasons for their inability to play leadership roles, was the absence of enough ‘role models’ in the community. There was a time when many from Kodagu used to crack the IAS, but in the recent years, one hardly comes across such achievements.

Probably, because of the reservation policy of the government, it has become difficult for Kodavas to get representation in the all-India services.

With a view to reignite the famed leadership qualities in the community,
I decided to promote ‘role models’ by starting ‘Coorg Person of the Year.’

The concept first took shape in 2005 and Dr Kavery Nambisan,
a novelist and medical practitioner, was selected as the first Coorg Person of the Year. The selection was made based on the basis of a poll I conducted through my news portal There has been no looking back since then. Every year, I conduct a poll to select the Coorg Person for that year. The final choice is made by me after going through the feedback I receive from the members of my Facebook groups and pages, numbering more than 25,000.  

I did not want to confine the competition to the Kodava community, as I feel people from all communities hailing from Kodagu should be involved in the exercise. For instance, one of the joint winners of the title in 2018 was industrialist Ashok Kumar Shetty, who donated part of his land to the government for building a road which was damaged by the floods and landslides of 2018. This, despite the fact that he himself had lost a big chunk of his land to the landslide.

In 2013, Dr S.V. Narasimhan, a bird-watcher and environmentalist, who is also a medical practitioner from Virajpet town, was the choice for Coorg Person. He was featured under two categories in the 2013 edition of the Limca Book of Records.

Dr Narasimhan, the author of the book “Feathered Jewels of Coorg”, pioneered the concept of spreading wildlife conservation messages through his unique hand-painted cards.

Age is no bar while selecting the Coorg Person. For instance, the winner of 2020, Dr Sanjana Kattera, a corona warrior, is in her twenties.

I do admit that sometimes the most deserving people have failed to win the Coorg Person title because the selection is made on the basis of the contribution of a person in that particular calendar year. One of the persons who richly deserved the title, but failed to make it was the late Pandanda M.  Kuttappa, who conceptualised the Kodava ‘family hockey’ festival.

Source: ‘Coorg Role Models’ authored by P.T. Bopanna (in picture). Rolling Stone Publications (2021).  The paperback book is available on both Amazon and Flipkart.

Amazon link:

Flipkart link:



By Maj Gen Codanda K Karumbaya, SM (Retd)

I am glad that Justice (Retd) P.P. Bopanna agrees with me that Kodavas are not Hindus. He has rightly pointed out that we presently come under Hindu laws. This anomalous situation has arisen because the Union government decided to bracket small communities like Kodavas, who do not belong to any major religious groups, with the majority Hindu religion, since it is impractical to have exclusive laws for every community in India, due to the large number of communities involved.

Therefore our customary laws, which were first codified by Maj. Gen. Rob Cole in 1871, have changed and are bound to change in the future also, until we have a Uniform Civil Code as envisaged in the Constitution.  I consider that these changes are good for us and for the country. This decision of the government does not mean that we are Hindus and not a separate community. Under Article 25(2) of our Constitution, even bigger religious groups like Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists come under Hindu laws; but that has not prevented them from getting minority status.

As regards Justice Bopanna’s contention that Kodavas are a separate ‘race’ and not a ‘tribe’, it is true that a number of early writers have referred to Kodavas as a separate ‘race’.  However they have also referred to Kodavas as a unique ‘tribe’. For example, G Richter in his book ‘The Gazetteer of Coorg’ writes “The Coorgs or Kodavas as they are properly called, are the principal tribe of the country and from time immemorial, the lords of the soil………..”. But the same author writes elsewhere that “Coorgs are a hardy race and bear with fortitude a great deal of hardship…………”. Both the terms were used rather loosely by many early writers to indicate that our community is different from others in many ways.

After Independence, in pursuance of the government policy to discourage distinction between communities based on race, the 1951 Census of India did away with racial groups in India altogether. The National Census of India no longer recognises any racial group in India. Prof Ponjanda Appaiah in his book ‘A History of Coorg’, notes the views of the UNESCO published in 1951, that no race today can be called pure and that there is not the slightest scientific basis for considering race as a determinant of inferiority or superiority in the physical and mental capacities of people.

I have consulted a fellow Kodava, Dr Cheyanda Manu, who teaches anthropology in the University of Mysuru. He has confirmed that Kodavas are a separate tribe and not a race. Even the constitutional expert, Prof Balveer Arora has this to say: “While earlier the Kodavas referred to themselves as a distinctive race and/or nationality, a more accurate description of the Kodava people would be in terms of a linguistic and cultural community with distinctive tribal characteristics.” Therefore to call ourselves as a separate race would be wrong and will not be accepted. To call ourselves boastfully as a ‘martial race’ is doubly wrong because there are other communities in India that are equally brave.

Some recent authors refer to Kodavas as an ‘ethnic minority’ meaning ‘a group within a community which has different national or cultural traditions’.  According to Dr B.S. Guha, a noted sociologist, the people of India are derived from six main ethnic groups, viz. Negritos, Austrics, Mongoloids, Dravidans, Western Brachycephals and Nordics. He thereafter lists various communities coming under these different ethnic groups. Coorgs and Parsis are the two communities in India who belong to Western Brachycephals. Parsis have been given minority status. Why have Kodavas not been given the same status?

A comprehensive list of tribes in India in alphabetical order is available in the website  Kodavas are rightly included in this list and it has been correctly stated that members of the Kodava tribe live in the Kodagu region of Karnataka, which lies in the Western Ghats. I have gone through the entire list of these tribes. Out of 645 tribes in India which comprise 8.6% of the total population of India, only Kodavas have been denied scheduled status. (I request others to cross check my findings). I feel that this decision of the government is justifiable as we Kodavas are mostly land owners with houses of our own and good education. We therefore do not meet the criteria laid down for measuring the backwardness of a community.

Armed with facts and statistics, we should convince the policy-makers that Kodavas are a rare and unique tribal community in India which needs to be given Constitutional protection. We definitely meet the criteria for earning minority status and special status for our homeland Kodagu, where our Ainmanes (ancestral homes), Kaimadas (ancestral shrines) and Jamma lands (ancestral land with hereditary tenure) are located. We have been accorded linguistic minority status (thanks to the initiative taken by some Kodava educationists) which, however, is not the same as full minority status which entitles us to many more benefits.

As of now, we Kodavas, can blame no one but ourselves for not being united in asking for our rights under the Constitution. We do not belong to the majority communities who enjoy political power, nor do we belong to those classified as minorities, and SC/STs (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes), who are privileged to get more benefits. Ordinarily Kodavas would prefer that all citizens of India are treated equally; but because Indian politics is highly communalised, that is not going to happen. This inequality has become further aggravated by the division of the country on linguistic basis in 1956.

Unfortunately, our politicians, in whom Kodavas have so far placed great faith, have failed to promote our legitimate demands as they do not want to be on the wrong side of their political masters who belong to the majority communities. Their subservient attitude and survival instincts are understandable; but some of them have been guilty of coming in the way of Kodava unity. Prof Balveer Arora in his speech at Gonikoppal, in December 2007, at the invitation of the Codava National Council, stated: “The Codavas will need to be made aware that unless they themselves claim these as distinctive markers of their identity, the efforts to seek and gain Constitutional recognition will not find adequate support in policy making circles”.        

Our main drawback is that we do not have a common non-political organization based on democratic lines, where we can sit together, discuss our problems, find solutions, and project our demands in an appropriate manner.

Source: Are Kodavas (Coorgs) Hindus? by P.T. Bopanna (2018). For paperback copy of the book on Amazon, please follow the link below:



By P.T. Bopanna

This is the season of the year when Kodavas (Coorgs) in Kodagu district of Karnataka perform the annual ritual of Karanang Kodpo held in memory of ancestors.

A lamp is kept in the nellakki nadu bade (central hall in the ancestral home). The sacred area around the lamp is empty and no idol or photograph adorns the space.

“What this means to me is that for Kodavas, the relationship between ancestors and the living is direct, unmediated by anyone. Our ancestors are as much a part of us as we are part of them”, says Dr Sowmya Dechamma, Fulbright scholar and researcher, specialising in minority and Kodava cultures.

The same goes for the space where meedi (offerings to the ancestors) is kept. Most of the important decisions are solemnised in front of the lamp.

However, in recent years in some ainmanes, framed photos of gods are kept in these sacred spaces. In the olden days, even the hanging lamps were not there in the central hall, and the lamp was placed in a hole made in the wall. And river Kaveri is worshipped as water and not as an image.

Kodavas should ensure the sacred spaces are preserved and avoid hanging photos and calendars in the central hall of the ancestral homes.

Every ancestral home (ainmane) invariably has a kaimada, a small shrine nearby, where prayers to ancestors are offered. The ancestral homes face the East, and Kodavas start their daily chores by opening the main door of the house and saluting the sun in prayer.

Photo courtesy



By Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa*

The second edition of the Kodava reference book Pattole Palame will be launched on October 1. The second edition has all the songs, ballads, proverbs, stories etc. in Kodava thakk with the corresponding English translation presented side by side. The book will be launched at the Madikeri Press Club at 2 p.m.

It is nearly a century since our grandfather, Nadikerianda Chinnappa, compiled and wrote the Pattole Palame in Kannada, with the songs, stories, proverbs etc., written in the Kodava language (using the Kannada script). It was published in 1924, and has run into seven reprints – the latest being in 2019. The eighth reprint to be published by the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy is due shortly.

It is 17 years since our English translation of the Pattole Palame was published in 2003. This book has gone into three prints, and is now out of print. It is deeply satisfying to know that it was well received and that there is a continuing demand for both the original Pattole Palame and its English translation. That has encouraged us to work on this, the second edition of our translation, in which the English text, for the most part, is the same as in the first edition, with some additional footnotes and a few improvements. The significant difference, which enhances the value of this edition, is the bilingual format adopted in it as described in what follows.

Over the years since its publication, we have gathered more information related to our customs and folklore and better nuanced the translation of some words for which we had not got the exact meanings earlier. The additional information and corrections are based on what we learnt during our many field visits all over Kodagu during 2003 to 2008 when we collected information on ainmanes (ancestral homes) for our book, ‘Ainmanes of Kodagu’ (2014), and later, when we helped authors Boverianda Uthaiah and Thangamma in editing their Kodava language dictionary, ’Kodava Arivole’ (2016). 

Very early on, some readers of our translation of the Pattole Palame had suggested that it would be useful if the next edition could adopt a bilingual format, with the English translation of the songs, stories, proverbs etc. presented alongside the originals in the Kodava language – and that is exactly what this edition does. 

In the bilingual format, the songs are presented in two parallel columns on each page, with the original Kodava song in the column to the left and its English translation in the column to the right. For stories, proverbs and larger texts, the original Kodava text and its English translation are given on facing pages. Occasionally, where the text is a short one, the original Kodava text is given first, followed by its English translation. We believe that this format will help readers and researchers of the Kodava language and culture to better understand and appreciate the words and phrases in the original work. Occasionally, in a traditional narrative in the Kodava language, the compiler has used Kannada for an introduction or a short explanation. In such instances, we have retained his Kannada text, and given the English translation next to it.

We have in this edition aimed for a closer verbal and visual equivalence between the original Kodava lines and the English translation. We have also made greater use of the recurring phrases in the original Kodava songs in the English translation too, to try to capture the lyrical resonance in the songs.   

We take this opportunity to add some observations and comments that we believe are important for the reader of the Pattole Palame to keep in mind. 

  • The Kodava language is an independent Dravidian language and not a dialect, as was wrongly surmised by early western writers. Studies have shown that the Kodava language belongs to the South Dravidian group of languages, which branched off from Proto-Dravidian, probably around 3000 years ago (1000 B.C.)
  • Besides Kodavas, about 20 other smaller communities who immigrated to Kodagu long ago consider the Kodava language as their mother tongue, and have generally adopted Kodava cultural practices and songs. They too have kept this oral tradition alive. 
  • The compiler, Nadikerianda Chinnappa, in his documentation of Kodava culture in the Pattole Palame, described the social order and value system that was prevalent when he wrote the book (late 1800s and early 1900s), without being judgmental about it.
  • Some aspects of Kodava customs, where current practice differs from what is given in the Pattole Palame, clearly show the influence of Hinduism/Brahminism on Kodava culture – an influence that appears to be increasing with time. For example, many Kodavas today follow some Hindu traditions such as the one that requires the eldest son to light the funeral pyre of his parents, although that is very unlike the Kodava tradition where it is the spouse who lights the funeral pyre. Interestingly, most people consult and follow the Pattole Palame even today, in spite of the fact that it describes the cultural practices prevalent in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  • The influence of Hinduism/Brahminism on Kodava culture is also seen in some of the songs. The Songs of Kaveri and of Sarthavu are based on Hindu legends. So are the references to Yama, Shani and Narayana in the Funeral Song and to Hindu gods in other songs. The Songs of Gods and Goddesses in Chapter Four (all except the Song of Sarthavu) which narrate the stories of gods who ‘came‘ to Kodagu from Kerala or through Kerala clearly show the influence of religious practices and traditions prevalent in that region. On the other hand, the Songs of Heroes in Chapter Five describe the social order and traditions in the native Kodava community, with the exception of the Song of Seven Maidens.
  • It is also notable that in the Songs of Heroes, Kodava women are shown to be bold and unafraid, talking to strangers and inviting some of them to their homes. They also do not hesitate to question and challenge elders in public. In one story, a Kodava woman attacks and kills a tiger, and is honoured for that in the same traditional fashion as a man would be.

Incidentally, early in 2000, Sri G.N.Devy, Director of the project ‘Literature in Tribal Languages and Oral traditions’ of the Central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, asked us if we could work on a trilingual edition of the book, to include a Kannada translation besides English, and add a transliteration of the Kodava songs etc., in the Roman script. The International School of Dravidian Linguistics, Trivandrum, asked us if we could work on a transliterated version of the Pattole Palame along with the English translation. The current bilingual edition is a first step in that direction. We would like to work on the Kannada translation and the transliteration of the Pattole Palame. Both these tasks need time. If we cannot, we hope that someone else will undertake this work in the future. It should be noted that a few of the songs have already been translated into Kannada by various authors.

If indeed the Kodava language is silenced and the Kodava culture is forgotten, as is feared by many, these efforts at transliteration and translation of documented Kodava customs and folklore into other languages may at the very least help retain the memories of the identity and cultural heritage of the Kodava speaking people. We, however, dare to hope that the future will challenge and disprove such apprehensions, and that these efforts will promote the preservation of the Kodava language and culture and contribute to the celebration of the diversity of languages and cultures in India.

We have been blessed by circumstances that gave us the opportunity to translate the Pattole Palame written and published by our grandfather. It is our sincere hope that this edition will further help in understanding and preserving our living traditions and folklore – a precious heritage that was handed down orally in the past and was first committed to writing in the Pattole Palame.   

* Photo of Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa, researchers



By Dr Veena Poonacha*

Background of Ethnography Frozen in Time

My review essay, ‘Ethnography  Frozen in Time,’ written in 2003, for the Economic and Political Weekly was born out of my discomfort with  Prof. M. N. Srinivas’s book Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India. This book, first written in 1952 and reprinted in 2003, with a fresh introduction from Andre Beteille, is considered a sociological classic. Yet, it was a book which disturbed me deeply, when I first read it, as a post-graduate student of sociology.  The reason why the book disturbed me was because I felt the book gazed at the Coorgs/Kodavas, as if they were specimens under a microscope.

I felt Srinivas’s interpretation of Coorg culture was not the culture I knew. As a child born to Coorg parents, I presumed I knew the culture I grew up in. It was a culture that did not recognize the ritual authority of the Brahmin priest; the various Coorg rites associated with birth, marriage and death are conducted without an officiating priest. Yet, here was a sociologist who argued that the Coorgs sought to rise in the caste hierarchy by adopting certain Brahminical values, through a process he called ‘sanskritization.’

I would have had no objection to his theory, if he was describing a simple process of acculturation (i.e., the process of cultural exchange and adaptation) which occurs naturally in a shared socio-cultural space. What I found objectionable was the ways by which his own caste location as a Brahmin coloured his view of Coorg society and religion. In my view, although moulded by several strands of cultural influences, Coorg culture is unique.  It was a culture that did not acknowledge the ritual superiority of the Brahmin priests.

The flipside was that I decided way back in 1985 to pursue my PhD and study the Coorg cultural heritage.  I was awarded a PhD degree in 1991 for my thesis Women in Coorg Society: A Study of Status and Experiences through the Use of Proverbs, Folksongs, Oral Histories and Genealogies. It was an attempt to study Coorg culture from the standpoint of women’s experiences.

While undertaking my thesis, I was advised by my guide, Dr.Neera Desai, an eminent sociologist, not to question Srinivas’s concept of ‘sanskritization,’ since he was considered one of the doyens of Indian sociology. However after receiving my PhD, I have been able to present an alternative interpretation of Coorg culture within social history. It was only when the Economic and Political Weekly asked me to review his book in 2003 that I was able to voice my critique in the review.

Srinivas’s interpretation of Coorg culture is still largely unchallenged. So defining was Srinivas’s work, that even writers like B.D. Ganapathy, who in the 1960s to 1980s wrote extensively on Coorg culture, did not question it. This is not to discount the importance of B.D. Ganapathy’s work.  I have referred to his works extensively for my thesis. I feel B.D. Ganapathy’s works as well as I. M. Muthanna’s works should be preserved and made available widely.  It is in this context that I feel, the translation of Pattole Palame by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa into English is extremely important. It has made Nadikerianda Chinnappa’s valuable work available to all scholars on Coorg. In translating this classic into English, Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa have rendered yeomen service to scholars who undertake the study of the Coorgs. Many other Coorg scholars are now writing about our unique heritage, which to my mind is a positive trend.

Source: Are Kodavas (Coorgs) Hindus? by P.T. Bopanna, Rolling Stone Publications, 2018.

*Photo of Dr Veena Poonacha

The paperback copy of the book is available on Amazon: