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374. Banga and Bangera Bari

The Bangera ‘bari ‘( ‘gotra’) is one of the common lineage systems prevalent in Tulunadu  and found in most of the Tulu communities. We sh...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

11. Boiled grains to steam cooked idlis

Ancient Greek reports (ca. 3rd century BC) mention that in northwestern India, some of the tribes were using boiled grains. Possibly, then boiling grains was not a usual thing or may be all the communities were not indulging in such practice of boiling grains at that time of history.
I was wondering whether the ‘some Indian tribes’ alluded to in the reports refer to the tribes that migrated to southern India like Tulu tribes. I believe that the practice of boiling grains was popular with the Tulu tribes, even when they were near northwest India before their migration. Possibly, it was the beginning of their invention of their pet food, the boiled rice. Subsequently, they boiled the paddy which was dried in the sun and later pounded to separate the husk/chaff and produce the boiled rice. The Tulu equivalent of ‘sambaar’(vegetarian curry) is called ‘koddel’ which is kodi+el meaning the boiled liquid dish.
They carried their experiments with boiling food items further, probably refined them after they settled in Tulunad, and invented the art of steam cooking. They used ground mixtures (semi-solid batters) of rice and black grams for steam cooking. For steam cooking they designed special vessels made out of natural leaves, available in plenty around them. They fashioned small vessels each made out of four jack tree leaves, knit together with vegetal sticks. It was called ‘gunda’, which means rounded space or rounded shape.
Or they fetched the prickly, thin long ribbon-like leaves from the mundevu shrub, separated their thorns and mended the leaves on light fire to make them more pliable, and fashioned tubular vessels out of those specially treated mundevu leaves. This leafy structure was called the ‘moode’, derived from mudetina (=knitted item).
The batter was filled into the tubular leafy vessels which were then arranged inside an earthen pot, half filled with water. The closed earthen pot with the leafy containers and water was kept on fire. On boiling, the water filled in the closed earthen pot generated steam that cooked the ground rice batter in the vegetal tubes, adding special vegetal aroma in the process.
Or they used various leaves like that of banana, teak, turmeric and so on to wrap the finely ground semi-solid rice batter and keep inside the steam-cooking earthen pot. These dishes were called ‘ireta-adde’ (= leafy food) or gatti or kottige etc. They also mixed chopped green leaves of tevu (kesu, in Kannada) with rice paste and prepared steam cooked patrade, which means patra (=leaf)+ ade(=dish).
With evolution in progress, metallic vessel makers, designed special vessels for making steam-cooked rice dishes without leaves. Such devices contained a number of empty spaces where the rice batter could be poured into. Because of this, the word ideli or idali came into being. Ide means interstitial space.
Gunda, moode, kottige, gatti, patrade (patrode) and other steam-cooked leafy rice dishes are popular even today in Tulunad.

10.Evolution of Culinary habits

Manjunath has made an important revelation on the evolution of food preferences and culinary habits of south Indians in general, since last five centuries. Based on his reference in Malayalam literature, he cited that the Portuguese imported several, now commonplace, agricultural crops to India that changed altogether or led to marked evolution of the culinary scenario. The list of crops imported by the Portuguese includes chilies, sweet potato and tapioca apart from the known vegetables and fruits like pineapple, guava, papaya, sapota, cashew, bread fruit, sunflower, maize, beans, tobacco ground nut, some gourds, ….etc.

I was surprised that the imported list included the humble sweet potato. In childhood days, when my granny used to tell me the story of Ramayana, that Rama and Laxmana ate tubers and roots in the forest, I conveniently imagined them eating sweet potatoes, which are, somehow, also edible in the raw form.

But sweet potato is native to South America, Manjunath assures me. Yes, sweet potato was introduced in India by the Portuguese but various other similar edible tubers were there in our land well before the arrival of the South American sweet potato. Words in south Indian languages are a revelation. In Tulu sweet potato is kireng (or kereng). Some Tulu variants may also have kileng. Tamil equivalent kilenk is also close to the Tulu word. The Tulu word kir (=lower, or under the soil)+ang(=part), distinctly refers to the below the ground buried growth of the tuber within the soil. The Tamil word apparently has also the similar derivation. Malayalam has also an analogous word kilannu.

The Tulu Nigantu lists a number of kireng (subterranean tuber) species like: tuppe kireng, mullu kireng, tooNa kireng, guddoLi kireng, koLLi kireng, pottel kireng, NaaTi kireng, apart from the usual kempu kireng (red sweet potato), bolpu kireng (white sweet potato) and the mara kireng (tapioca).

Apart from the numerous native species we have, the Tulu and Tamil words for the edible tuber kireng / keelank speaks of the antiquity of the tuber in India. First, the mutual influence of Tulu and Tamil words should take the time machine back to early period of the Christian era. The early Dravidian languages, proto-Tulu and proto-Tamil may have separated somewhere during 3rd century BC- 3rd century AD period. I deduce that this proto-Tamil -proto-Tulu co-existence and mutual influence was at the Pirak- Multan evolutionary stage (ca.1700 BC) that I discussed in some of the previous postings. After 4th century AD Tulu is closely associated (geographically and socio-politically) with early Kannada. Hence, after this period (4th century AD ) we can expect mutual influence of Kannada and Tulu, rather than Tamil and Tulu. Because after that period Tulu-Tamil contacts are limited to short term political warfare during ca.7th or 8th century AD, other than usual trade relations. Incidentally, Kannada has a different word genasu for the said tuber, totally unconnected with Tulu-Tamil words.

Second point of interest is that for most of the imported vegetables, tubers and fruits south Indians have retained their original names in the land origin like, pineapple, beans, cabbage, etc. But the term sweet potato was not inducted into local languages. It appears that the name kireng was also extended (ca five centuries ago) to the imported sweet potato which was similar in features to some of our native kirengs.

Shocking news is that chilies are in the said imported list. That means our Indian food was lacking in hot - khara- taste with we are familiar with now.

Again, another Tulu word uppaD (=pickle) has something to say. UppaD is now a popular food accessory, often the basic one in poor families. Basic summer food in many rural Tulu families, often also preferred by the rich, consists of boiled rice porridge (ganji) with uppaD. I used to wonder since childhood days why this uppaD which is characteristically rich in chilies, speaks only of uppu(=salt) +aD (=food preparation) .I was perplexed because in the word there is mention of chilies, the important ingredient in that dish.

With the revelation that chilies came only some five centuries ago, I have got the answer why pickle is named only uppaD! Our ancient uppaD did not have any ingredient of chilies. It was only the vegetable (raw mango, limbu, cucumber, raw jack fruit etc) with salt.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Ruminations

I have used the title Tulu ‘research’ in my blog. ‘Research’ is probably a pompous word to be on a blog title. Somehow, I decided on the title word to give myself a dose of sincerity and seriousness to my blog work. Similarly, I felt that the word would also earn some respectability of the reader.

Similarly, I feel that it is the duty of the blogger to define and describe some of the basic words used in the blog like, Tulu, Tuluva and Tulunad.

The present day Tulunad (naaD= land) is a conglomeration of not only customs, castes and communities but also the playground of a host of languages and sublanguages, cultures and subcultures. In diversity as well as in unity, it is a micro-India. In general, the people of Dakshina Kannada district and southern Udupi district in Karnataka and parts of Kasargod district in Kerala speak Tulu. However, the enterprising Tulu communities have spread in various parts of India and globe as employees, professionals, businessmen or educationists.

Yet, basically the concept of Tulunad is entirely mythical aspiration, in that there is no specific geographic boundary or socio-political entity that can be demarcated as Tulunad. Tulunad lies in the minds of Tulu speaking people. Historically, Tulu people were part of Kannada kingdoms since several centuries and the present status continues to be the same. Socio-politically, the notional Tulunad is as a Tulu speaking region within the State of Karnataka, in India.

Thus, basically any person who speaks or writes in Tulu, whenever occasion permits, is a Tuluva. He may communicate in Tulu because it may be his mother tongue or because he has to converse with another Tuluva or simply he loves to do so. So by definition there are Tuluvas by birth and Tuluvas by choice. Tuluvas by choice may have their own mother tongues, which they nourish and cherish in their heart like all good human beings do. Thus Tuluvas by choice or Tulu associates may also communicate in Kannada, Havyaka, Nadava, Aregannada, Konkani, Beary, Koorgi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi Gujarathi, Hindi, English or any other language of this land.

My definition of Tuluva includes all those who are able to or love to communicate in Tulu language and it should include both Tuluvas by birth and Tuluvas by association or choice. In realities of the global village, a Tuluva has telescopic multi-cultural identity, as besides being a Tuluva, he is also a Kannadiga. He is also an Indian and further in the sense of pervasive universal brotherhood he is a citizen of the world.

Tulu language and culture has a history of nearly four thousand years. During this extensive period, Tulu has witnessed several episodes of migration of human races, evolution of the language and customs. It is the right of every Tuluva to discover the hazy paths of remote past along which the Tulu language and cultures have evolved. The evolution of Tulu language and culture is intimately connected with the evolution of diverse languages and composite culture of India and, in essence it is the evolution in nut shell of Karnataka as well as India.

Tulu language and culture have suffered because of the absence of historical documentation. Piecing together strings of historical evidences and collation of data is not an easy job. One way of doing this is the analyses of the language, words and customs in Tulu as well as in associated languages and cultures.

My father, Budha Shivalli (1923-1982) compiled a book, ‘Tulu Patero’ (paatero=language) on the philology of Tulu language and grammar written in Tulu language using Kannada script during 1982 and it was eventually published in 2004. Like ‘the Tuluvas by birth and by choice’, I described above, there are linguists by education and linguists by choice or pure love of the language. Budha Shivalli belonged to the second category. For the benefit of those who are unable to read his original Tulu book, I am planning to provide a translation of his work in a separate blog connected to this blog. I shall inform you more about it at later.

During editing and composing the typescript of Tulu Patero, somewhere during 2004, I felt that it requires a supplementary editorial in view of the developments during the intervening period of 1982 to 2004.I gathered information from books and internet and synthesized my deductions and inferences, in the form of an editorial ‘Tulu nadath battina saadi’ (=The evolution of Tulu). Like my father I am a philologist and linguist by choice and hobby. I am geologist by profession and philologist by love of the language.

The basic aim of the said editorial was to invigorate research on the historical evolution of Tulu language and culture and definitely not to draw any mileage from sensationalism. However, some critics found the editorial ‘controversial’, without any further remarks. Branding any work, ‘controversial’ is a diplomatic way of declaring and recommending that the work is unreliable or unworthy of perusal.

Well, I started this blog originally with the intention of providing a translation of Tulu Patero. But before jumping directly into the actual translation that needs quite lot of spare time, attention and patience, I thought of practicing myself by offering some appetizers by reevaluating some of my favorite topics, earlier published in Tulu, in the form of the cited editorial. But, this bogging is like a momentum or chain reaction that induces you to contribute some more. And also I find that my line of ‘controversial’ thinking is quite away from the rather puritan style adopted by Budha Shivalli. And the ‘controversial’ label attached to me, should not discourage the people from reading and referring to his work which I feel is an invaluable contribution. In view of these, the Tulu Patero shall be on an independent blog.

Back to my blog, Tulu Research, I must confess that I have used terms like Tulu ‘tribes’ in the style and meaning used by other researchers on ancient races and groups. The word ‘tribe’ signifies those early migrant families. It is not to be confused with the socio-political modern term ‘tribe’ as in scheduled tribe or caste. Similar explanation holds well about the controversial word derivation Bantu and Bant also. It is meant for the etymological derivation of the original ancient word that is an indicator of a profession. No offence is intended to any communities that have adopted such names today.

No disdain is ever meant to any of the groups, since the author believes in the universal brotherhood and the genetic equality of human beings.

One of the joys of blogging is finding new friends to comment upon my postings. Manjunath Vadiari, who writes blogs on ‘Theories on past events,’ is a frequent commenter on my postings. I like comments, including the dissents. Dissident opinions force you to look further and check if you have made any erroneous assumptions or judgments in the course of your studies.

The blogging ethics demand that I should make my intentions transparent. The basic intention of my postings is discovery of evolutionary trends in our historical heritage. The approach to the discovery of facts pertaining to the remote historical past may be divergent and similarly the inferences drawn may be divergent, but in the long run truth alone shall prevail. Satyameva Jayate!

To reassert my commitment to the sincere discovery of facts, I would like to repeat what I wrote (1989) in the preface to my doctoral thesis on geology, under the strong and analytical influence of my guide Prof. B. Krishna Rao:

“Accepting that for any problem there can be only one real and truthful answer, new avenues towards truth should be welcome, hoping that in the long run, only those ideas that stand test of the time will prevail. In the meanwhile, some of the concepts that aim at unraveling the truth or that may lead to new ideas elsewhere have to be encouraged.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

9.The Moolasthana concept

Do we have moolasthana concept in other parts of India?

Many of the TuLu communities have the concept of a moolasthana, moola (original) +sthana (place), where the ancestors of their lineage originally settled and lived. The lineage is called bari (pronounced as short ba as in bun) in Tulu. It is equivalent of bali (pronounced as short ba as in bun, li as heavy Li common in south Indian languages) or baLLi in Uttara Kannada and gotra in Brahmin communities. The term baLLi means plant creeper, which is symbolic of the family lineage. The term bari must be Tulu equivalent of the word old Kannada word baLLi. This explanation is required because in TuLu, word bari has another meaning ‘the side’.

The moolasthanas in Tulunad have a small temple dedicated to the divine spirit (Daiva or Bootha), Naaga or the Bermer′. As a consequence of socio-cultural evolution, many of these moolasthanas have replaced the original deities with subsequent deities like Durga or other Gods and are located near the beaches or in the proximal areas in the coast. Tulu families have a ritual of visiting their respective moolasthanas at least annually. At the small temple there they conduct ceremonial worships.

I visited one such moolasthana near Hoode, about ten kilometers north of Udupi town. Hoode hamlet is located near the estuary of Sita and Swarna rivers. The word Hoode is a place indicator. ‘Ade, ide, ode’ etc place indicators mean ‘there,here,where’ respectively in Tulu.(Similar words exist in Malayalam).

The moolasthana is located at Bengare near Hoode. The word bengare or bangere has equivalent meaning of a sand spit. Ben+kare stands for ‘a place opposite coastline or beach ’. The lineage indicator bangera is apparently derived from bangare. This is the moolasthana of TuLu people of bangera lineage. Interestingly, all TuLu communities belonging to the lineage of bangera have designated this site as their moolasthana. The present day castes like poojari, sapalya, moolya, marakala etc have been formed on the basis of their trades or professions. But all these TuLu communities carry common lineages tags (surnames) like bangera, putran, anchan etc. Lineage of a person is affixed based on the lineage of his mother (as in matriarchic society).

The common lineage for diverse communities indicates that the lineage system predates the classification of people into diverse communities based on trade or profession. It seems the trade based classification, the varna system, came into being in the post Vedic times after elucidation of chaturvarna. By Chandragupta (ca. 340-293 BC) and Chanakya period (ca. 350-283 BC), it was firmly entrenched in Indian society as reported by Greek historians. Therefore, it can be inferred that the maternal lineage system of Tuluva people is probably of late Vedic age.

The moolasthanas appear to the earliest settlements of Tulu people in the west coast. (Possibly, there were other inhabitants in the land before the arrival of Tulu tribes. Like, the early Munda tribes that gave plethora of village names with Munda prefix. (cf. 8.Mundkur, Munder) It is interesting to note there is a similar sounding place Mool-thaan (Multan) near Salt Ranges. The word thaan in Prakrit is analogous to sthan in Sanskrit. The inhabitants of Pirak and Mehrgarh area had settled near a place they called Multan or original place.

However, due to various reasons, several families migrated southward through Rajasthan Gujarat, Maharastra and settled in sites in the West Coast. It appears that when their offsprings/progenies migrated again within Tulunad, these coastal settlements were again called moolasthanas.

Do we have moolasthana concept in other parts of India?

I request other researchers to comment or contribute with any relevant information that they may have.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

8. Bantu, bant′ II

Manjunath has disagreed with me on bantu > bant′ derivation. I wrote an explanation to him on the comment box but due to my distraction with a phone call, I could not properly save it in time in the blog. Instead of rewriting the whole response again, on second thoughts, I decided to post additional explanation on the aspect.

Bant′ (Tulu), banta (Kannada) and bantu (Telugu) all these words basically imply the same meaning that is a reliable assistant and/or bodyguard. The Telugu meaning of Bantu, a suicide squad, is only expansion of the basic meaning. In early days, Bantu meant a professional bodyguard who can be relied upon. Possibly, this profession was practiced by some Bantu persons who migrated from their original homeland due to adverse living conditions. Subsequently, the word Bantu meant any reliable bodyguard. Thus the word Bantu became an indicator of a profession.(This is something like our practice to call any Jeep- like rugged field vehicle as jeep , often forgetting that Jeep is a specific brand name and not a type of vehicle.)

Manjunath feels that the Tulu/Kannada word banta came through Prakrit from the Sanskrit term bhata. We have tacitly assumed since school days that many of our words are derived from Sanskrit, the tatbhavas. However, my inferences suggest that Prakrit was one of the languages of the people of Pirak during early Vedic times of ca. 1700 BC. The words Prak and Prakrit appear to have been derived from the place name Pirak (cf. my posting 3.Pirak). Pirak was a multicultural, polylingual society where proto-Tulu, proto-Dravida and early Vedic societies coexisted. The term Sanskrit itself means refined and cultured language; it was refined from the preexisting prakrit and related languages.

So the Sanskrit word bhata could have been derived from the word bantu/ bant. The Sanskrit bhata means a soldier or guard; without connotation of any of the reliability, bodyguard tags implied in the said South Indian languages.

Presence of random African tribes in India is not a new discovery. Siddi tribes of African origin in the Western Ghats area of Karnataka may be relatively recent additions to our diversity. Manjunath opines that population genetics do not support any African genetic affinity for south Indian groups. I am not sure if any detailed genetic studies have been carried out in India. But a recent heterozygosity study confessed that they were unable to get adequate Indian samples.

It is said that the Nadava are mentioned in a 13th century inscription for the first time in Tulunad area. It was the period when Tulunad was under the suzerainty of Vijayanagar kingdom. Possibly, Vijayanagar administrators referred to local cultivating community as as nadava to distinguish from the soldiers brought along with them from Vijayanagar mainland. Presently, Nadava are a Kannada speaking community widespread in Uttara Kannada. According to the Nadava sources, about five centuries ago, five Nadava families migrated from Kundapur area and settled around Ankola and Gokarna in Uttara Kannada district. This probably serves as an example for the number of population/tribes that migrated in the history.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

7. Banta, Bantu

The African word ba (many)+ ntu (people) stands for a dominant tribe. Research studies show that the Bantus spread or migrated to different divergent areas in and out of Africa after the desertification of Sahara region. It is interesting to note that Tulu words bant′ (>bante) means personal assistant and/ or bodyguard. The Kannada word banta also means the same. Originally, the Tulu word bant′ possibly referred to Tulu kings or chieftain’s personal bodyguard. Some of the Bantu people migrating from Sahara on account of desertification of that region must have landed in the west coast. They must have been dependable, strong, powerful personalities, so that they were absorbed as bodyguards or security assistants to the local kings and chieftains. Later, the word must have been extended to a group of people, who settled in this land who professionally formed the security cordon around the king or the chieftain.

Manjunath Vadiari in his blog, Theories on past events, has added additional information on Telugu Bantus, who formed suicide squads in ancient Andhra. This info not only throws light on early Tulu-Telugu relations, but also affirms migration of Bantu tribes from the west coast to the eastern Andhra part of the peninsula.

The attachment of bant′ name-tag for a specific Tulu the community, who are also known as nadavas appears to be a later part of the evolution. Incidentally, the term nadava means the native or those belonging to the naad or land/country

Blog Archive

Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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