When it rains in Kodagu...


When it rains in Kodagu...

Kodagu and rain share an inseparable bond. Even when rain keeps away from the rest of the state, it pours in Kodagu. It is rain that brings character to Kodagu. The whole district is draped in green, and the paddy fields are a sight to watch.

Come June, and the atmosphere in Kodagu changes. The hills take on a blue hue, while the rain-bearing clouds gently caress the peaks. With the onset of rain, life too changes in Kodagu. It is a familiar sight to spot umbrellas and rain gear in every house. People brave the rain and get on with their routines, undeterred.

Rain also brings much cheer to farmers in the district. The agricultural implements that gathered dust in the corners of their homes are taken out, given a thorough dusting and put to good use. Farmers wear the ‘goraga’ or the headgear to shield themselves from the rain. In recent years though, thanks to climate change and global warming, the timetable seems to have changed a bit. The monsoon that would till a few years back, start by the end of May, now begins in the second or third week of July. The amount of rainfall has also come down over the years.

Also, another factor that has been affecting Kodagu is deforestation. Tracts of forest land are being eaten into. Home stays and resorts are raising their heads in the middle of coffee estates. The shortage of agricultural labourers, the human-elephant conflict have all meant that the farmers are abandoning their paddy fields.

As agricultural activities take a dip, so do several rituals, customs and a way of life associated with agriculture. It is the rain that feeds the mighty Cauvery. Every time rain fails the district, there are problems over water sharing between the state and its neighbours.

All this hasn’t meant that the Kodavas have lost their spirit. Even now, with the onset of the monsoon and paddy sowing, Kodagu witnesses a flurry of sports events. Amidst pouring rain, Kodavas, irrespective of caste, creed or gender, participate in events such as tug-of-war, volleyball, football and cross-country races.

The events are held by the joint efforts of the Department of Sports, Nehru Yuva Kendra, the Youth Hostel Association and the district and taluk youth federations. During the first week of this month, teams from Kodagu came out in flying colours in the state-level sports contests.

At a time when rural sports are dying, it is interesting to note that these sports events have a lot of encouragement. Three days after the sports event was held at Kaggodlu, a ‘Male Habba’ (rain festival) was held in Mukkodlu, a hamlet in Madikeri taluk by the Kodava Sahitya Akademi.

As part of the festival, women from the hamlet participated in paddy-sowing activities, while the men ploughed the fields. Then, there was a game of tug-of-war. Even people’s representatives participated in this festival. There was also an exhibition of fruits and vegetables that are typically grown during the monsoon including pumpkin, cucumber, plantain and jackfruit.

Agricultural tools that continue to be in use, even at a time when tractors have taken over, were also part of the exhibition. Then, the swords, guns and other weapons which are an invariable part of Kodava life drew attention at the exhibition. The paddy sown now will be harvested in a couple of months.

Once the harvest is done, the festival of Hutthari, is celebrated. Again, many indigenous sports including kolata, ummatthat and bolakat are organised in celebration. The cycle of rain, sowing and harvest, marked by festivities and celebrations go on.

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