BENGALURU: As Kodavas retreat to their Kodagu homes from the hurry-burry of the city to rest and celebrate the annual harvest festival, there are some who will be celebrating the Puthari (also known as Puttari and Huttari) festival in the city this time.
“It is hard for me to head back home this time because Puttari falls mid-week,” says Pratvii Ponnappa, who is born and brought up in Bengaluru but usually heads back to Coorg to celebrate the festival. “My father will be going to Coorg, but I will be staying back and celebrate it on the day local Kodavas decide”.
“Celebrating in Coorg means coming together with your family, celebrating in the city means coming together with your community,” Pratvii says.
M T Subbaiah, administrative officer of Kodava Samaja, says, “We have 13,000 Coorgis in the association. This year there will definitely be more celebrating the festival with us since it falls on a week day.” Around 3,000 to 4,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Samaja festival.
Puthari, which means the paddy festival, will be celebrated on December 13 this year. Last year it was in the end of November.
On the day of the festival, family members assemble in their ancestral house or ‘Ain Mane’, which is decorated with flowers, mango and banana leaves.
The children play with fire crackers and in an “auspicious hour” the eldest of the family hands a sickle to the head of the family.
The auspicious time is decided by the Igguthappa temple.
The family together head to the paddy field. A woman leads the procession holding a lit lamp in her hands. A paddy stick is cut and a gunshot is fired to mark the beginning of the harvest. The chanting of “Poli Poli Deva” is recited and the paddy is stacked in odd numbers to be carried home and offered to the gods.
Small bundles of paddy straw are handed to the family members, which are received as a symbol of prosperity.
Since there are no paddy fields in and around the city, the Kodava associations usually get paddy from Coorg and distribute them among the people who come to celebrate. This year, the Kodava Samaja will be celebrating it on Tuesday evening.
The programme will commence at 6:30 pm when all the members will gather for an annual awarding of scholarships and for a speech by community leaders. By 7 pm, everyone will gather in a small 10*8ft piece of paddy land in the office premise to follow the customary ritual. At 9 pm special foods such as thambuttu (made of mashed bananas and roasted rice powder and topped with grated coconut and melted ghee), kadaumbuttu (rice dumplings with coconut milk and ghee), holige (flatbread from flour, jaggery and ghee) and puttari payasa (from rice, coconut milk and jaggery) will be served.
Kishoo Uthappa is heading to Coorg today for the festival since he has grown a small amount of paddy in the field for this festival and he does not want to miss it.
“I am an entrepreneur so I can take off whenever I want,” he says. “Most importantly, I don’t want my children to miss the festival.”