Religion is a sensitive issue in the minds of devotees. The faith and devotion inherent in the religion contribute to the basic psychological strength and well being of the people since ages. The core concept of Maari cult is of Spirit worship origin in the ancient peninsular India and later in time sequence was absorbed into or developed in tune with the Shakti worship. Analogy with the Bhagavathi worship is most obvious.
The concept of Maarigudi was introduced to Tulunadu by the Ikkeri rulers. It appears that the original Kapu Maarigudi was initially modeled on Sirsi Maarikamaba temple. Under the rule of Ikkeri Kings, the Maarigudi had a strong influence on the local people.
Over the years, Maarigudis proliferated in the Kapu area. The religious history of Kapu area may be an example to show how people live with and adapt to diverse religious cults over the years.
The area around Kapu (older British spelling: Kaup) has several interesting aspects of historically significance. In the Early centuries of Common Era, it appears to be a centre of Buddhism that superposed on an earlier period of Spirit worship.
The Tulu/Kannada word ‘Kapu’ (=reserved area) is derived from the pre-Tulu (Koraga /Munda) word ‘Kavu’ (=reserved grove). The Uchila Mahalingeshvara temple shows evidences of relics of Buddhism in the region. An early period of Buddhism was succeeded by the worship of mainstream Hinduism represented by Mahalingeshvara (Shiva) Janaradhana (Vishnu) and Mahalakshmi. Later Jainism has also played a key role in the region. A Tulu Jain Basadi (‘Dharmasthana’) under the custody of State Mujarai Department, in Kapu still bears the title of ‘Rakshna Sthana’ (protected area), suggestive of the reserved area status in the place name.
The cult of Bobbariya, a spirit of Muslim Beary merchant was also evolved in the Kapu area.
Nayaka Kings of Ikkeri (now part of Shimoga district) ruled over parts of Tulunadu after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire. Ikkeri Nayakas were Lingayaths in faith. In the year 1607, Ikkeri Nayakas overpowered the ruling Jain Chieftains of Barakur and destroyed much part of the historical city. The army of Jain Chieftains consisted mainly of Billava and other backward castes.
During the time, the trade in the Kapu region was dominated by Konkani merchants (GSB,Gauda Saraswath Brahmins) who had settled in the area for business purposes during the period of Ikkeri Kings. The Karavali coastline was brimming with export related trade activities and the Portuguese were in a powerful position in the West Coast. The Konkani merchants maintained flourishing trade relations with the Portuguese. In the ambient atmosphere there was a strong business rivalry at that time among the GSB Konkani Brahmins, Jains, and Bearys of the area.
The Maari worship is common in peninsular India (mainland Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilandu.). The word ‘Maari’ refers to contagious diseases in Kannada, whereas in Tamil ‘Maari’ also means rains. The latter meaning also exists in Tulu language. (Note the Tulu word ‘mariyala’ that refers to rainy season.).The Maari was a pre-Vedic village deity (grama devata) originally but nowadays she is worshipped as a form of Durga or Shakti.
The tradition of worshipping Maari was introduced to Tulunadu by the Ikkeri Kings who held sway over the Karavali from Gokarana in the north upto Nileswara in the south in the Seventeenth Century CE. The few Maarigudis existing in the Karavali Tulunadu region are distributed in Kapu and Surathkal.
In the 17th Century CE Ikkeri Kings constructed the first Maarigudi at Kaup, where the idol of ‘Ucchangi,’ a Maari Spirit prevalent in the Malnad area was installed. Animal sacrifice was in vogue according to the old customs of the Maarigudi. Livestock like ox, sheep, goat and chicken were butchered in the name of sacrifice to ‘please’ the wild Spirit deity. It was practice since Ikkeri days to bring butchers of Rane community from the Malnad region to carry out the ritual of animal sacrifice. Ikkeri Kings who were afraid of the rebellion against their rule had no faith on the local people. They brought soldiers from the upland Malnad area known as "Rama kshatriyas'.Some analysts opine that Ikkeri rulers perpetuated animal sacrifice to induce fear psychosis among the locals and to contain any possible rebellion.
Mahatma Gandhi who visited the Mangalore during 26 October 1927 advised the natives to abolish the cruel practice of animal sacrifice. Members from backward castes including Billava were not allowed inside the Maari temple in those days until the State Government imposed rules to ban the communal discriminations after 1973 and 1976.
After the Ikkeri period the administration of the said Maarigudi was managed by Gauda Saraswaths and Bunts of the area.
Tippu Sultan captured Kapu during the latter part of Seventeenth Century CE. Tippu was irritated over the Maarigudi probably because it was controlled by the Ikkeri administrators and their henchmen. He prohibited natives from participating in the Maarigudi. Subsequently, he ordered demolition of the Maarigudi and constructed a Mosque in its place. After the construction of Mosque (Palli) the locality was known as Palli padpu. After Tippu’s defeat and death, in the year 1799 the British who took over the administration of the region, allowed the locals to shift the Mosque and rebuild the Maarigudi in the old place.
The religious influence of Maarigudi on the natives increased. Since the administration of the Old Maarigudi was controlled by the Gauda Saraswaths, a new Maarigudi was separately built by the Bunts of the area.
Subsequently several other communities in the Kapu have built independent Maarigudis controlled by their individual communities. In the course of time, a Maarigudi was also built in the Tadambail area of Surathkal.
Kapu also holds a record for massive conversion of members of ‘lower’ Tulu communities into Christianity. In the Nineteenth century, Tulunad witnessed communal discordances and social disparities. Experts in the Basel Mission, Mangalore were actively involved in the systematic learning of the local languages like Kannada and Tulu. Missionaries exploited the social discordances and during 1851 massively converted disgruntled members from Billava and other lower communities of Kapu area into Protestant faith. The consequent Protestants preferred to use their mother tongue the Tulu language.
The post is based on the material collected by Dinesh K.Mulki
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
Copy? Right - but kindly remember to acknowledge!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.