Saturday, March 14, 2009

178. Pithrodi in Udyavara

Reconstructed map of historical (ca. 150 years ago) Udyavara with Pithrodi area showing the mouth of River Udyavara joining Arabian Sea near Pithrodi.

'Kaipunjal' (from where my wife hails) is an odd name discussed by Ravi in Post 69 It is possibly named after (Kai+punj+al) a blind tributary or rivulet ("kai") flowing on the plains of a rocky stream ("punjal") that joins Udyavara river. If one reads the Post, one would get an insight into the origin of village name 'Polipu' (meaning 'a break' in the backward flow of water), adjacent to Kaipunjal.

'Pithrodi', around 3 km west of Udyavara town, is another place name, which is challenging my curiosity since May 2004. Let me put my hands to the plough now to decipher the secrets of this name. Pithrodi is a part of Udyavara, a historically famous place. 'Booduda Arasu', named Raja Udyavarma, ruled as 'Kappada Arasa' (subordinate king) to Barakur(Barkur) Kingdom, belonging to Alupa Dynasty, who used to shift their Capital from Mangalore-Udyavara-Barkur and vice versa. Some of the historical ruins are found in Mangalore, Udyavara, Brahmavara and Barkur.

Whenever I was at native place on vacation from Pune, I tried to elicit information about 'Pithrodi' from rickshaw drivers, shop-owners and members of my daughter's in-laws family. They were unanimous in saying that 'Pithlakadu'(Pittilakadu) gradually reduced to 'Pithrodi'. Translating the word literally, it means "a forest (kaadu) by the side of a house (Pittilu)". According to Narendra (my son-in-law), the area was abounding with dense forests with wild animals. It is difficult to gulp the explanation as it is. Pittilu>Bittilu>Hittilu (meaning a garden by the side of a house, i.e. kitchen garden (see page 2018 of Tulu Lexicon) is the logical change over for the word 'Pithla/Pittila'. Then, Pithrodi should have been Bithlodi, Pithlodi or Hithlodi. This explanation also does not fit into Pithla/Pittila Kadu .> Pithrodi.

Suffixes, such as Odi (elevated area), Oli (linear place), Ade (covering/resting place?), Adka (secluded vast area outside habitation site, used as burial ground in olden days - See A. Manner's Tulu-English Dictionary), Koppa/Koppala (colony in a remote/secluded place), Kodi (end, tip, side, nearness), etc. give a conspicuous angle to meaning of place names. According to me, this 'Pithrodi' is akin to 'Pithrubhoomi', i.e. cementery, a resting place of ancestors.

In olden days burying the dead was a common practice , especially elderly persons in a family, famous community leaders and religious heads. Normally, places are ear-marked in a corner of a field belonging to a family, or community burial place, called 'adka', and temple compounds (for religious heads) for such burials. Before my birth or so, there was a Cholera epidemic outbreak and there were many deaths. The dead were buried in sand mound area (belonging to Hosabettu Mogaveera Sabha) on southern tip of Hosabettu. Those were the days of Rajas (Kings) and feudal lords when battling for supremacy was paramount. Udyavara region being a historically important place, we can conjecture such battles/fightings in Udyavara, leaving many dead. One cannot deny the existence of forests around Udyavara during bygone days. It is possible that the present Pithrodi settlement, being a secluded place near the river bank, offered a suitable burial ground for earlier tribes inhabitating this region. Monuments are built over burial sites or over the funeral remains and/or personal effects of dead.

Pithrodi (western part of Udyavara) is a fishing village, skirted by Udyavara River and is preponderantly inhabitated by Mogaveeras. Seven fishing villages (Mogaveera Pattanas) of this region, viz. Udyavara, Kuthipadi, Kadekar, Kanakode, Bolje, Yenade and Kote are along the Udyavara River Banks and form a Federation, which is again under the federation of fourteen Mogaveera Pattanas. Late Shri Sadiya Sahukar was a pioneer Gurikara and was one of the community leaders of South Kanara (until fifties of last Century). The road from Udyavara town upto Pithrodi ferry point was the first and the only one feeder road much before the development of Malpe (Udupi) area. From this ferry point, one can reach the Udyavara sea beach. Besides being a philanthropist, he was instrumental in development of Udyavara in transport, commerce and trade.

In his article "Dolmens, Hero Stones & the Dravidian People" Dr. R. Rangarajan, an Archeologist, writes on dolmens:

"There are many megalithic burials, dating as far back as 7th & 8th Centuries BC in South India and for that matter in the length and breadth of India. These monuments are in the form of dolmens, cist burials and also some are urn burials with limestone/stone coffins. Impressive number of funerary deposits, like pots, iron implements, beads, metal-wares and charred grains are found in burials associated with Dravidians.

Dolmens, say Hero-stones (popularly called 'Virakallu' by scholars) consist mainly of three upright slabs, covering three sides, with a cap-stone and and an opening, oriented towards the south. In most cases, flooring is also of stone. These hero-stones were erected in memory of heroes, who laid down their life, defending their territory or making some kind of supreme sacrifice for the sake of community or region. These stones show the figure of hero with inscriptions, giving details of the hero, the battle, the king for whom the battle was fought and the person who erected the stone. Either they stand alone or in groups and are usually found outside the village limits, nearby a tank or lake (say a water-body). This suggests that they are located in the cemetery, an inhabited area. Dating of these dolmens are mainly based on typology and pottery.

A large number of dolmens and cairn circles in ancient megalithic sites show that almost all the people received such honours in the beginning but the later custom was confined to men of great valour and fame. Erection of memorial is a strong cultural trait of Tamils (read as Dravidians, as Tuluvas are not far behind Tamils). Such hero-stones have been found from almost 3rd c. CE to 16th c. CE, attested by inscriptions. The custom continued in a symbolic manner for other people, say elderly persons of a community, clan or family. Obviously, the tradition continued till very late.

Viewed from the angle of the builders of the memorials, the dead is a god. What is important for the present study is that dolmen form of hero-stone resembles a small village shrine. These are even now adored and worshipped periodically by the remote descendants of the heroes. It is this worship of the hero-stone that led to some of the cults of village gods. Wherever the people of a region migrated, they took that hero with them."

Such cult of worship of celebrated heroes (say historical figures) is seen in Tulunadu too. Spirit Worship is practised by all Tuluvas in Tulunadu, including Brahmins. It is said the spirits of our ancestors (daivas, who attained divinity) are more powerful than God and Goddesses (deities, supreme divinities).

Deciphering the origin of place names, particularly the odd ones, is a tough job in the absence of documented records. This situation is very much pertinent to place names in Tulunadu. Help from topography, word fossils and rituals, peculiar to a region, could be taken for a telescopic explanation. One can 'plough a lonely furrow', which means steadfastly holding a different view, opposed to others. Awesome legends are available in plenty to popular place names, feeding emotions and pride. In spite of all these attempts, it will remain an 'open question'. Hope, the readers will try to solve these riddles such as 'Pithrodi'.
-Hosabettu Viswanath
(Based on inputs from Narendra)

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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