Friday, November 11, 2011

288.Manja in Tulu

 Words, being vehicle of thoughts and actions, are born every now and then and are ever living – generation after generation – may be with varying meanings, which crystallize with the passage of time.  Some words attain sublimity and some others notoriety.  Some are having different shades of meaning and that too  undergo changes in usage over the time.
What is striking about the word ‘Manja’?  It means different things to different people, regions and culture.  It needs no illustration for those who know about it.    To give just an example, ‘manja’ in kite flying is known to everybody, particularly in Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Here ‘manja’ is a special string, smeared with glass powder, to give it a cutting edge in kite fighting.
‘Manja’ in Tulu
‘Manja’ in Tulu language of coastal Karnataka and Kasaragod (Kerala) means generally an ‘elevated place’.  There are many usages of Manja, as documented painstakingly in Tulu Lexicon by scholars.
1.     Kayimanja:  Kaimanja is a small shrine for departed souls, also known as ‘Kayimada’.  On the burial place, a mound is made so as to place food, offered to manes.  Well-to-do people make a shed-like structure for this purpose.

Kadri Kambla 2010, Mangalore
2.    Manjotti:   In Kambala (Buffalo race), it is a raised place at other end of buffalo race slushy field.  It is a reaching point for buffalo as speedily as possible with adept handling by handler.  Speed is measured by time.  Pair of buffalos taking the least time is declared a winner.  Winning buffalos are known as ‘Manjottigone’.  There is a folk narration (PadDana) by name ‘Manjottigona’, which tells about exploits of a young he-buffalo and its tragic end.  This song is sung in group by women in agriculture field while planting nursery plants of paddy.  It is sung when buffalos are not around.
Coming to spirit worship, it means a purification ritual to ward off pollution of the shrine.
3.       Ritualistic act:  Tuluvas are animists. ‘Manja’ is an archaic use in worship of Divine Spirits in Tulunadu.  Manja ritual is a vow fulfilled periodically or on special occasions for appeasement of Divine Spirits of household, village or group of villages (Maganes). There are several Bhutas (Divine Spirits), exploits of whose are described in respective PadDanas, a kind of Tulu literature orally preserved. It is a custom (which is in vogue in Tulunadu) of offering meat (chicken), fish, etc. (with toddy in certain cases). The ritual is known as ‘Manja Balasuni/Malpuni’.
In Siri Festival, a main and lengthy ritualistic celebration, ‘Manja Balasuni’ to Siri Kumara is a less known performance.  RRC News Bulletin of Jan-March 2003 throws light on this performance (q.v. Prasanga –

4        Place & personal names: Manja is used in place names, such as Kalmanja, Ballamanja, etc., with specific meaning of ‘elevated place’.  Probably, Kalmanja means a village, beset with rocky mounds and Ballamanja, a high place, full of creepers and bushes.
As for popular names, we can cite Manja and Manjanna as male proper names and Manjakka, a feminine name.  Probably, giving these names has some bearing on physiques.
5      Times of a day:  Manja is used either for evening, darkness or early morning. So it indicates different shades of light as day proceeds.
6       Raised Platform in market: Primarily, it means a ‘raised platform’ for a seller. So, ‘Manja’ literally means a market-place.
7        Engagement Feast: ‘Manja’ is used for a ceremonial feast in bride’s place on consummation of an engagement. In these days, we do not hear this word for the function.  It is now just an engagement party in a hotel.

     The term ‘Manja’ has been explicitly used in several Tulu place names. Mangalore was known as Manjarur especially during 10th and 11th Century CE. Manjanadi is a village in Mangalore Taluk, bordering with Kerala. There are several Manjanakatte, Manjara pāde, Manjarapalke, etc hamlets across Tulunadu.
      Similar analogous names exist in Uttara Kannada district also. For example Manjuguni near Ankola.
      The Lord of Kadri Temple, Mangalore is well known as Manjunatha. The Lords name was later replicated in now renowned Dharmastala temple. Manjeshwara is a coastal town in Kasargod Taluk, south of Mangalore. There is a locality known as Vamanjur in Mangalore as well as in Manjeshwara. In earlier posts we interpreted that’ Vamanjur’ could have been originally Om-manjur, named after immigrant Om tribes of Africa.
    Manjanna, Manjappa, Manjamma etc proper names were common in  Tulunadu and adjoining Kannada areas. These may have an obscure tribal heritage that needs to be explored further. The proper name 'Manja' in these could possibly be traced to an ancient Paisachi-Prakrit word 'manja' that represented man (Post 261). The old word 'manja' evidently evolved into 'manuja' with passage of time.

Words are not dead objects, though they undergo changes with passage of time.  They live with people of a region, state and country, perpetuating the  extant beliefs, traditions and culture. This is manifest on exploration of ‘manja’, pertaining to Tulunadu.
 Sometimes, in the antiquity the words have crossed borders to remote countries or words  in usage in different continents may had similar roots to begin with.Note for example: An 'Igloo' means a hut/house made of ice blocks among the Eskimos. Another parallel word 'Illu' in Tulu and some of the other Dravidian languages  means a dwelling place.

-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune


  1. Also name given to he-buffallo "Manju" like Kale, Bolle, MoDe, PunDe.
    - Kowdoor Narayana Shetty

  2. Think differently. Maan is deer-Manjotti?. Manjarur_ may be a place with Mango cultivation?


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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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