Certain words become ubiquitous, mainly because of their utility or usage in social, cultural and economic activities. ‘Kaţtţe’ is one such word which is seen in many Indian languages. Word ‘mārukaţţe’, used in Tulu or Kannada, has entered English language as ‘market’ because of marine trade in western coast of South India in the past.
Besides the kaţţe, there is also a word ‘padma-kaţţe’ in Tulu, which is used for specific purpose. This purpose-specific word may engage a young mind, away from his root, for a while to ponder over its significance.
It means a high place or platform, erected or constructed for any specific purpose. So, we come across many compound words with kaţţe as suffix or rarely as prefix. These kaţţes’ may be permanent or temporary structures suiting to seasons.
In general, the kaţţe means tied, surrounded structures of earth or stones to sit upon, embankment, dam across a river, causeway, bund of tank or platform built under tree on village green. (See DED entry #1147on page 108 and also entries in Tulu Lexicon).
There are shaded shelters under a tree for travellers on road sides. In olden days, kings, local chieftains, religious-minded or righteous persons used to construct such structure for free use for resting. Ashoka’s inscriptions give names of places where such ‘Dharma Chhatras’ are built for the convenience of travelers and passers-by during his reign.
We shall discuss some of the kaţţe examples around us:
Vasanta Pooja kaţţe, Nāga kaţţe & kaţţe Nema:
Besides kaţţes alongside roads, there are Vasanta-kaţţes (Platforms built around a peepal or banian tree) at different squares and lanes around a temple. The idol of particular deity is taken in procession as a part of seasonal Temple Festivals. It is kept on such a kaţţe for worship by devotees.
At some kaţţes, snake figures carved on stones, are kept for worship. They are known as ‘Nāga or Nāgara kaţţe’.
Annual celebrations, called as ‘kaţţe nema’, are held at some kaţţe s for Divine Spirits. These deities are believed by a local village or group of villages (māganes).
Sante kaţţe / Māru kaţţe (ಸಂತೆಕಟ್ಟೆ/ಮಾರುಕಟ್ಟೆ):
This is a fixed trading or market place for a variety of items in a village, town or city at regular intervals.
Sunkada kaţţe /Sāyira kaţţe (ಸುಂಕದಕಟ್ಟೆ/ಸಾಯಿರಕಟ್ಟೆ):
A toll/ custom/ Tax collecting place. (Post-358 of 2nd April 2016 on ‘Sayer or Sayir’ gives further insight into the topic).
Katte for Office or Post on road side:
Near Police stations, there are check posts at specific junctions.
Anche kaţţe (ಅಂಚೆಕಟ್ಟೆ):
A Post Office. In the past, we have seen the cases of one Post-man from a Post Office serving several villages around. Before the introduction of cycles, he had to walk fast or run to deliver letters, telegrams, parcels, etc.
Solakada kaţţe (Kannada: Harate- kaţţe):
A regular place for meeting or gossiping. It is also called ‘adda’ in slang/media terminology where wide spectrum of social figures – big or small - are interviewed by media people from time to time. It is not to be confused with ‘adda/adde’ (= den) used for illegal activities, such as bootlegging and gambling (betting, matka, playing cards, etc).
Kattes named after people, trees, etc
Tulasi Katte (A platform or pedestal for basil tree in front of houses), Hampana Katte (Mangaluru), Hangara Katte (A port with ship building facilities at the estuary of Seetha river in Kundapur Taluk of Udupi District) and so on.
Pan (=water)+ ga (= gaman, i.e. moving) = Panga>Hanga: That which is moving on water, i.e. boat. Pangara>Hangara = One who is working on boat. Note: Profession itself becomes a class name (Readers may read Post-300 of 30th April, 2012 on our analytical essay on Hangarakatte).
Padma Katte is same as ‘Aravattige’ (ara = room or shelf. Aravu (= wide and open room/area) + attige (roof-on). It is a platform or structure made around a tree (mostly around peepal or banian tree) with the intention of providing a shelter or resting place for a way-farer (TL Page153 & Page 1921). Pure drinking water (with or without jaggery) or butter-milk was being supplied there free of charge to thirsty passersby.
References in History
The speciality (Brit.) or specialty (USA) of TuluNadu is that such kaţţe s’ are also erected by kings, chieftains and other nobles (Brahmins, landed gentry, local authorities of kings and feudal chieftains). To show their pomp and pride, these kattes are built nearby ‘Bākimār’ land (bakillda> bakil > baki = in front of house-door or veranda+ mār = agricultural field), invariably near ‘kendali mara’ (Coconut tree yielding red-husked coconuts) on hedge of veranda. We get references about it in ‘Tulu PaDdanas’ (Oral Verses, describing heroic-tales - Veera Gatha = ballads of past heroes of Tulu Nadu, who are deified after death).
We find one such reference in ‘Bantera Sandhi’, i.e. PaDdana on Koti-Chennaya, the twin-brother heroes, who lived in circa 16th C. There was a conversation between Kinnidaru (eldest sister of the heroes) and Koti-Chennaya. She did not see her brothers right from their birth due to disputes between feudal lords. They fled Padumale Palace, after killing insolent Minister Buddyanta of Padumale, and came to Panja for seeking the help of their brother-in-law Payya Baide to get a job in Panja Rajya of Kemara Ballala. She could not recognize the youths, hence did not come out being alone at home. She requested them to wait outside and sit at assigned place in the veranda, as is vogue in those days, saying:
“If you are: Brahmins, sit at ‘Padma Katte’ near the ‘Kendali mara (ಕೆಂದಾಳಿಮರ)’; if Bants, sit in the Pandal (ಚಪ್ಪರ) earmarked for Bants (agriculturist class) and if are members of her community itself, sit on a swing cradle (ತೂಗುಯ್ಯಾಲೆ) at the porch or portico (ಮೊಗಸಾಲೆ).”
At last, she finds that they are her direct brothers.
[Note: There are books on ‘Koti- Chennaya’, based on the paDdana, written by Panje Mangesha Rao, Bannanje Babu Amin, etc. Panje’s translation was in my 6th Standard Kannada Text Book (1950-51).]
Aravattige in Kannada Literature
There is a beautiful stanza in Poet Lakshmeesha’s Classic Poetry ‘Jaimini Bhārata’, a translation of Sage Jaimini’s Sanskrit work. On the advice of Jaimini and Vyasa, King Yudhishthira decides to perform ‘Ashvamedha Yāga’ to ward off the sins of killing cousin Kauravas in Kurukshetra war. He sends his brothers to different parts of Bharata to win over the kings. Bhima goes westward with his army and reaches Bhadravathi (ancient Benki pattana, Benkipura or Venkipura in present Shimoga District). The name ‘benki’ must have been given on account of red soil, pregnant with iron ore. Bhima and his warriors are wonder-struck with the beauty of the city, nestled in Male Nadu (Sahyadri Range). They see the arrangement of Padma Kattes or aravattiges, managed by beautiful damsels. The following stanza gives a lucid explanation of mirthful ladies with lotus-like faces, teasing the thirstywarriors who visit their ‘Aravattiges’:
ಬಟ್ಟೆ ಬಟ್ಟೆಯೊಲಳೆಲ್ಲಿ ಯುಂಕುಳಿರ್ವೆರೆಸಿದರ
ವಟ್ಟಿಗೆಯ ಸದನಂಗಳಿಂದೆ ಬಾಗಿಲ್ಗೆ ಪೊರ
ಮಟ್ಟು ಕಲಶಮನೆತ್ತಿ ನೀರೆರೆವ ಕಾಮಿನಿಯರು ಬಾಹು ಮೂಲದೆಡೆಗೆ|
ದಿಟ್ಟಿವರಿವರಿದು ಮೊಗ ಮೊರ್ಗುಡಿ ಸೆಸರಿಸಕಳ
ವಟ್ಟ ಜಲಧಾರೆ ಪೊರಸೂಸೆ ಬಯಲಿಗೆ ಬಾಯ
ಬಿಟ್ಟು ನಗಿಸುವರಲ್ಲಿ ತೃಷೆಯಿಂದ ಬಂದ ಪಥಿಕರ್ಕಳಾ ಬಾಲೆಯರನು ||ಸಂಧಿ 2,ಪದ್ಯ9 ||
Substance of the stanza:
When the travellers asked for water, these beautiful ladies pour water into their palms. Though the palms are fulland water is falling on the ground, they goon pouring water but the absent-minded visitors, instead of quenching their thirst, are bent on looking agape the physical beauty of the girls. They lift their faces up again and again to catch sight of the fully blossomed breast right from arm-pit (bāhu moola), forgetting to drink and allowing the water go waste. The girls burst into joyous giggling, seeing the predicament of these way-farers. This is a mirthful experience to both the beautiful ladies and the thirsty warriors.
Note: Description of nature and beauties may not be an exaggeration, made by the Poet Lakshmeesha (lived around 15th-16th C) from Devanoor/Devapura (in Chikamagalur). Earlier poets had a penchant of describing their place of birth with a sense of belonging.
Mystery behind naming
Why this halting and resting place is termed as ‘Padma katte’ in Tulu Nadu? What is the meaning of ‘Padma’, if it is not ‘Water flower/Lotus’? Could it be ‘Padumara katte’, where ‘padam’ means ‘foot’? Thus, Padumara > Padma katte means a shelter for passers -by to cool off their heels and refresh with drinking water.
Alternatively, the seat on such a Katte might have been in the shape of a Lotus (Padma) and hence the name ‘Padma katte’. If not, canopy over such a katte was lotus-shaped.
Padma katte’ has been a time-honoured practice, which was witnessed by the author during his school days and up to fag end of last Century. Alas, this system has become a thing of the past! Construction of wide ‘Golden Quadrangular Highways’ with multi-lanes for rapid transport, has uprooted big trees and destroyed roadside ‘kattes’ and houses. Instead, road-side cafes with many facilities are taking care of travellers but with cost.
Change! Let us muse over the following wise sayings:
1) ಕಾಲೋ ಜಗದ್ಭಕ್ಷಕಃ (Time gulps everything in the world at its will).
2) “Old order changeth yielding place to new” (- Lord Tennyson).
3) “Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change “. (- Thomas Hardy).
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune