Thursday, July 23, 2009
200. Kakke tribes : Totem crow
Ancient tribes and cultures believed in strange animal totems. They respected the creatures which they adopted as totems for their tribes. Existence of Totem cultures in Tulunadu has evidences from sub-community groups like Salians that apparently had a totem of spider in the antiquity as discussed in earlier posts. One more totemistic tribe that carries the name of common crow can be deciphered in the Karavali based on the existence of ancient ethno-nyms.
The name of common crow (“Kakke”=crow, in Tulu) repeats in several place names suggesting the relevance and significance imparted by certain tribes to this humble bird. It seems the followers of this bird totem were called as ‘Kakke’s. The Kakke (=crow) is a respected bird in traditional Indian culture. Many people believed crows as symbol of their dead ancestors. During the annual ceremonies conducted to commemorate forefathers, festive food was kept away in the open yard so that dead ancestors may consume the food in the physical form of crows. Possibly this belief and custom derived from an ancient tribe that strongly believed that they originated from crows and or their dead ones became crows after death. It appears that the Kakke tribe has become extinct during the recent history.
We shall analyse some of the village/hamlet names that bear the signature name of Kakke tribes:
Kakva=(Kakk+va). A place inhabited during early history by Kakke tribes. Kakva is presently a hamlet near Atikaribettu northeast of Mulki town.
Kakkepadavu (=Kakke+padavu). A plateau dominantly inhabited by Kakke tribes. Kakke-padavu now a village in Bantval taluk.
Kakkara bettu (=Kakke+ara+bettu). An upland inhabited by Kakke tribes, now a locality in Mijar village.
Kakkebettu: A plateau inhabited by Kakke tribes during the past. Kakkebettu is a hamlet near Kulashekara Kalpane in the outskirt of Mangalore city.
We can find the signature villages and hamlets of totem crow tribes outside Karavali also.
For example the Kaginele village, Chikamagalur district, connected with legendary sage- poet Kanakadasa possibly represents an ancient village of Kāgi tribes. (Kāge=crow; nele=place, in Kannada).
The 'kakke' tribal name has been preserved in some of the Tulu surnames like Kakke-bannaya , Kakke-Odittaya' (Tulu Lexicon,p.596)and Kakkilaya etc..
A caw-cawing crowing black bird is a common scene in mornings or where food particles are scattered especially in coastal areas. It is considered as a bird of omen. It is a meek but sometimes audacious, scavenging bird. The crows generally live in groups. Talkative boasting persons are likened to crow.
Crow in Ramayana
This poor and simple bird is honoured in the Epic 'Ramayana'.In Baalakaanda Chapter, during swayamvara (an event of selecting a groom from the invited and assembled princes)of Seetadevi, the king of Sri Lanka, Ravana obtruded himself uninvited with the intention of marrying Seeta. Ravana was a mighty king, who defeated all kings of three worlds. The contest of swayamvara was to lift the heaviest bow, bestowed by Shiva, and shoot the arrow.
All the assembled kings were frightened. The celestial beings, who came to witness the event, ran helter skelter and disappeared. God Yama (the Celestial Judge and Destroyer) seeing a crow, entered its body taking tiny form. When Ravana went away, disgraced by his failure, Yama came out and blessed the crow that crows would be honoured by mankind in future by offering them food at the last rites of a departed soul and during periodical remembering of ancestors. This custom is relevant all over India. In Tulunadu, this custom is known as 'kakkegu nuppu dippini or kakkegu pinda dippuni'.
There is another story in Ayodhya-kaanda how a crow is able to see both sides, having one eye. Jayanta, son of Indra, incurred the displeasure of sage Atri, who cursed him to be a crow. Redemption for this curse was when Jayanta wallowed in the dust particles from the august feet of Seeta during the banishment of Rama to forest. So Jayanta kept a trail of Rama's movement. While in Chitrakoota hermitage Rama and Seeta went for a long walk in woods. On getting tired, they took a playful bath in lotus pond waters. Seizing the opportunity of Seeta coming out of water alone, the accursed crow swooped down to touch the feet of Seeta. Frightened and hurt Seeta cried for help. Uttering divine words,Rama threw a sharp arrow of grass blade. Jayanta's request for protecting him from the chasing arrow was refused by all Gods. Indra advised his son to go back to Rama and ask his pardon. Since it was powerful arrow and could not be reversed, Rama took one eye from the arrow and blessed the crow to see both sides with the dilation of the eye lens of the remaining eye. On redemption of his magic spell, Jayanta offered his obeisance and returned to his abode in the Sky
There is a funny story in a Kannada Primer:
A respected person, Raya of a village vomited three times. ("Rayaru mooru saare karidaru"). The news spread like a wild fire from mouth to mouth and finally got corrupted as "The respected person vomited three crows (Rayaru mooru kage karidaru)".
-Additional inputs Hosabettu Vishwanath.
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