Monday, December 24, 2007

62.Characterization of Spirits of Tulunadu .1

Tulunadu has a tradition of Spirit worship possibly dating back to 700-800 BC coinciding with the immigration of the Early Tulu tribes who introduced the initial cults of Bermer (also pronounced as ‘Birmer’ or ‘Bermeru’) and Panjurli. The subsequent history has seen introduction of a host of Spirits. Tulu communities since early days believed in the personal powers of their community heroes and believed that they continue to roam around after sudden martyred deaths. They believed that worshipping their spirit forms would absolve them of their frailties and ensure protection against adversities like crop failure, famine, diseases etc.
Following the traditions of Tulu oral literature, oral anecdotes pertaining to some of the spirits prevalent among Tulu elder people were gathered and presented here.
The Jarandaya- Bobbariya historical encounter reflects the conflict of egos that plague our society even today.
I wish that our compatriots shall consciously overcome these frailties like clash of egos that lead to meaningless revenges and live a life of mutual understanding, friendship and universal brotherhood.
‘Jarandaya’ was the ninth son of a Jain King of Barkur. He used to travel along the west coast from Barkur to Nileswar dispensing justice and solving disputes among the general public. He had an assistant (‘banta’) called ‘Koteda Babbu’ also referred to as ‘Kotdabbu’.
Koteda Babbu
Koteda Babbu (means Babbu of the Fort; ‘koTe’=fort) was a talented professional, a fort-building expert, from the Mundala community, who is said to have migrated to Barkur, from the upland Kannada area. He was a sorcerer, expert in witchcraft, water divining and native medicine.
During his sojourns from Barkur to Nileswar, the Jain Prince Jarandaya, used to take Koteda Babbu along with him, as his personal assistant. After sometime, Koteda Babbu voluntarily stopped accompanying Jarandaya as there was some difference of opinion between them.
Bobbariya was a tall and well-built Muslim trader, who was influential among the fishing community of coastal Kapu area. Bobbariya was born of an alliance between a Muslim father(Sulikall Murave) and a converted Bunt woman(Patima).Born in Goa and grown up in Kochi according to Pad-danas He was engaged in fish trading and was popular in the region among the local Mogaveera community. He was usually associated with a band of dedicated youth probably drawn from the fishing community.
Bobbariya owned a provisions store near the fishing village and was having flourishing business. Gradually, he employed special carpenters from the upland area and commissioned a large boat (‘padavu’) for carrying out sea trade. He had band of sailors consisting of local fishermen and Muslims. Soon he prospered and became a leading figure in the area, on account of flourishing trade through his padvau.
Conflict of egos
Somehow, Bobbariya did not like the interference of Jarandaya, an outsider from Barkur, trespassing into his domain to solve minor local skirmishes. During one of his journeys, Jarandaya was humiliated by Bobbariya, in the Kapu area, especially when his assistant Koteda Babbu was absent. He blocked the path of Jarandaya with the help of his henchmen and asked him to kneel down and pass between his astride legs.
Jaranadya could not stomach the insult and later he consulted his advisor cum assistant Koteda Babbu, on the modus operandi of avenging the insult. Koteda Babbu thought for a while and designed a plan involving another character called Neecha Taniya.
Neecha Taniya
The revenge plan contrived by Koteda Babbu involved using pork and beef to intimidate or flabbergast Bobbariya and his team. ‘Neecha Taniya’, as the name describes (‘neecha’=lower; ‘taniya’=Saturn), was from a lower community who generally do not have inhibitions towards beef or pork.
The Revenge
Neecha Taniya went ahead with the Jarandaya revenge project. He threw cut leg of a pig at Bobbariya who was totally dumb-founded. During this moment of utter confusion, Neecha swished a sword, slashed at Bobbariya and severed one of his legs. Bobbariya, with one of his legs amputed, bled to death.
Tulu Spirits
In Tulunadu, the spirit of Jarandaya is worshipped even today along with his assistant( banta daiva ) Koteda Babbu. Similarly, Bobbariya is worshipped with Neecha Taniya.Mogaveera pattanas invariably have an Bobbariya gunda amidst the colony. Tulu fishermen believe that the spirit of Bobbariya shall protect them in the rough sea and help them get a good catch of fishes.
Neechag balsuni’
Many Tulu families traditionally keep aside some food at the beginning of the dinner on all auspicious days, devoted and earmarked to Neecha. They call the custom of serving food to Neecha as ‘Neechag balsuni’.
The popularity of Koteda Babbu was not tolerated by his rivals. Some of the upper caste rival soothsayers planed to bump him of. They invited him to inspect a problematic open well at Kanchinadka, near Padubidri. Koteda Babbu descended into the well to verify the problem. By then they covered the opening of the well with stone slabs, with the intention of burying him alive. Somehow, Koteda Babbu realized that he was trapped inside the well and began shouting for help.

Tanni Managa
A local lady of Mugera community, while was passing by, heard the wails from the closed well. She came near the well and slided the slabs covered over the well. She found a person trapped inside the well and felt pity.
Koteda Babbu, trapped inside the well, asked the lady to help him out of the well. But the lady had no appliances to pull him out. Babbu suggested that she lower her sari so that he can hold it and come up. She hesitated, because the poor lady was wearing only a sari, with no other clothes underneath, as was the general custom with poor class women then. But she agreed to save him when Babbu promised that he would not look up at her nakedness.
While ascending up the wall inside the well, Babbu turned his head up to verify how much distance remained to be covered. But the lady was upset. When Koteda Babbu realized that he offended her sensibilities, he slashed his forehead several times with his sword as penance against the error he committed unknowingly.

(Acknowledgement: The oral anecdote data is gathered by Shri K Dinesh Mulki).


  1. Awesome...i just loved the stories...i am fascinated by the spirit worships and their origin..the stories really made me happy.....

  2. Thanks for visiting and writing the comments.

  3. Dear Ravi Mundkur,
    I just found your very interesting blog and I wonder if can ask some advice. I am helping with a translation from English to German of a long essay on the mythology, ritual performaces and handicrafts of Tulunada, and on the Butas. The problem is that German versions of the various specialist terms or local names differ from the English. Do you happen to know of any German specialists on the subject, or of any books in German? Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Malcolm Imrie

  4. I read with great interest your valuable research work. In Zurich, Switzerland, there will be an exhibition on rituals and masks of South India, with emphasis on Tunuladu, at the Rietberg museum, from May 17 thru October 18. Just for info


  5. bobbariya was born of outcasted brahmins and bought up by foster muslims(beary) parents according to paddanas and what i have seen in kolas

  6. Like PaDdanas the relevant legends are also passed on orally through generations. It is natural to expect several variants of the history and legends. What appears more relevant is that religion/class/caste considerations have taken a back seat as far as Spirit cults are concerned!

  7. 1. Dhumavati/jumadi bunta
    2. Pancha jumadi bunta
    3. Marl jumadi
    4. Kaanteri jumadi
    5. Kolatha jumadi
    6. Kolla pootha jumadi
    7. Mardal jumadi
    9. Annappa panjurli
    10. Kallurti-panjurli
    11. Kuppettu panjurli
    12. Baggu panjurli
    13. Golidadi panjurli
    14. Kalyaboodu panjurli
    15. Dendoora panjurli
    16. Paajei panjurli
    17. kadambare panjurli
    18. jodu panjurli
    19. male panjurli
    20. guliga panjurli
    21. Varna panjurli
    22. alera panjurli
    23. Malara panjurli
    24. Bollela panjurli
    25. Tembailu panjurli
    26. Chombakallu panjurli
    27. Kaanthavara panjurli
    28. Hebri panjurli
    29. Kukke panjurli
    30. Kadri panjurli
    31. kadapu panjurli
    32. Ambadadi panjurli
    33. potta panjurli
    34. Kadambare panjurli
    35. Guliga panjurli
    36. Kalkuda-kallurti
    37. Odilthaye
    38. Pilichamundi/ vyagra chamundi
    39. Bobbarya
    40. Jaarandaya
    41. Kodamanithaya
    42. Kukkinanthaya
    43. Baikadthi
    44. Chikkamma
    45. Daaram ballalthi
    46. Kalabhairava
    47. Kalarahu
    48. Kaalarkai
    49. Kumara swamy
    50. Kanyakumari
    51. Mahakali
    52. Paatala bhairava
    53. Mayandal
    54. Malaraya
    55. Koteda babbu swamy
    56. Tannimaniga
    57. Chavundi
    58. Guliga
    59. sankale guliga
    60. subbiyamma subbi guliga
    61. guliga bhairava
    62. raudrandi guliga
    63. rahu guliga
    64. netther guliga
    65. Paatala guliga
    66. Neecha (koraga taniya)
    67. Kamberlu
    68. Abbaga daaraga
    69. Kshetra paala
    70. Nandigona
    71. Maisayndaya
    72. Rakteshwari/lekkesiri
    73. Raahu
    74. Jattiga
    75. Naga bermer
    76. kaalamma
    77. kanapadithaya
    78. kuriyodithaya
    79. kallerithaya
    80. dayyengul
    81. ullalthi
    82. moovar daivangal
    83. naalkatthaya
    84. satyadevate/ posa bhuta
    85. mantradevate
    86. bunta daiva
    87. vaidyanatha/ mundathaya
    88. ajji bhuta
    89. shiradi daiva
    90. koragajja
    91. korati
    92. poyyathai
    93. hallathayi
    94. koti chennaya
    95. bhavana
    96. vishnumurthy
    97. birnachari
    98. padkanthaya
    99. brahma mugera
    100. uliyathaya
    101. pattorithaya
    102.mantradevathe .. Tulunad daiva ... By karthik shivaji

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. I keep referring your blog every now and then. And I almost always find answers to my questions here. Thanks for putting up all the details here.

  10. Thank You.Most of the posts here have originated as a part of our own quest for answers.


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 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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