By P.T. Bopanna

The Kodava community (Coorgs) in Karnataka was once known for its progressive and cosmopolitan outlook. But things have changed. Nowadays, a section of the women in the community observe everything through ‘saffron tinted’ glasses.

These women are upset with actress Rashmika Mandanna of ‘Pushpa – The Rise’ fame for wearing sleeveless blouse while wearing a Kodava or Coorg style sari recently.  

Rashmika wore a midnight blue georgette sari by designer Nitika Gujral. The gorgeous sari featured antique zardozi embroidery. 

When I posted Rashmika’s photo in Kodava sari on Facebook, some of these matronly ladies left comments (hidden!) disapproving Rashmika showing her bare arms.

These ladies forget the fact that fashion is a form of self-expression at a particular period and place and in a specific context.

I wish to bring it to the notice of these ladies, that in the past, a Coorg widow wore only white in the case of the sari, blouse and vastra (head dress). This is not strictly adhered nowadays which is an indication of the progressive thinking in the Coorg society.

For their information, sleeveless or half-sleeved blouses are of recent phenomenon. In the olden days, Kodava women wore Kala Kupya with long sleeves and closed up to the neck.

Gradually, the short sleeved, round-necked choli replaced the traditional jacket. There was a considerable amount of change in this garment after the British annexed Coorg in 1834. There were variations in the styling of the neck. The jacket saw the introduction of the high neck and the band collar. The placket was also first seen with the jacket having an opening in the front. The sleeve also became stylish and fitted with an opening at the end with a sleeve placket.

The jacket initially was a shapeless garment only serving the purpose of an upper garment. Following the influence of the British, the stitching patterns changed. What was initially a garment without darts, had darts in front and at the back. Then came the princess seam and also the patch pocket to serve the utilitarian purpose.

The fabrics changed from cotton to silk to experimental fabrics such as satin and velvet which were more often than not imported. The trims also became more fanciful and instead of the usual press buttons, pearl and shell buttons were used.

For more on Kodava sari, follow the link below:


By P.T. Bopanna

The Coorg style sari recently worn by actress Rashmika Mandanna (in picture), who is fresh from the success of the movie ‘Pushpa-The Rise’ has thrown the spotlight on Kodava (Coorg) sari.

Rashmika, who won the title National Crush of India, hails from the Kodava community in Karnataka’s Kodagu (Coorg) district. Kodavas have a distinct culture.

The Coorg style of draping a sari involves tucking the pleats at the back of the waist, instead of the front. The end of the sari is brought below the left shoulder, and secured over the right shoulder in a firm knot. This style suits Coorg women leading an active life while climbing up and down slopes in their mountainous homeland in the Western Ghats in the Indian State of Karnataka.

Sharing the ‘Coorg Sari’ video featuring Femina Miss India (Miss Photogenic) 2011 Dayana Erappa. Directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa, the video featuring Dayana, an international model who is also from Coorg, demonstrates step by step the sequence involved in draping the Coorg style sari. 


C, the first exclusive website devoted to Coorg jewellery and costume, has completed 10 years. The culture of Kodavas (Coorgs) in Kodagu district of Karnataka is distinct from that of its neighbours in southern India.

Besides jewellery, the website has sections for Coorg sari, men’s costume and accessories.

The unique aspect of some of the Coorg jewellery is that they are hollow and lac is filled inside to give them a sturdy appearance. The repousse work commonly used in Coorg jewellery, uses a small quantity of metal, beaten to paper thinness, to convey an impression of weight and solidity, and a three-dimensional effect.

Coorg style bracelets (kadagas) have become popular with non–Coorg women in cities like Mysuru and Bengaluru.

An interesting part of the website is a video featuring Dayana Erappa, an international model who is also from Coorg, on how to drape a Coorg style sari. The video has been directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa.

There is a section devoted to Coorg wedding which is a colourful affair and an occasion that allows women an opportunity to show off their saris and jewellery.

Input for the website was contributed by Chindamada Arati Monappa, textile designer. Designer Mevada Deepali Vedprakash also offered valuable help.

The website also features a Coorg jewellery video put together by Dr Dechu Puliyanda from Southern California.  Dr Dechu was helped by Koopadira Aiyanna.

The website was part of the effort by journalist P.T. Bopanna to chronicle the rich traditions of Coorg. The jewellery website was designed by Tiramisu, a Bangalore-based new media solutions company.

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