Friday, January 20, 2012

294. Mystery of Ekkār.

It is well known that the Tulu language shares many of its basic words with its sister languages like Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. Some of the ancient words might have become extinct in some of these languages because of various factors during the course of evolution, but preserved somehow in other languages that serve as a reminder to the past heritage.
Let us examine the case of the word Ekkār. The Ekkar (or Yekkar) is a well-known place name in Mangalore Taluk. However, meaning of the word ‘Ekkar’ has not been enlisted in Tulu Lexicon, indirectly suggesting that the original meaning of word might have been forgotten, in Tulunadu, with passage of time due to lingua-cultural changes. The Dravidian Etymological dictionary(DED) contains the word Ekkar (or Ekkal or Ekkali),  which broadly means  Sand dunes or beach sands (ie Sand heaped up by waves, or the sand caste ashore by rivers etc) in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu languages. The lost meaning of Ekkar is significant as it throws light on the heretofore undocumented geomorphological past of the Karavali Karnataka.

The DED Entry # 770  reveals that in Tamil, ‘ekkar’ or ‘ekkal’ means a sandy area or sand heaped up (as by waves)or  sand-hill. ‘Ekku/Ekki’ has the meaning of ‘to be heaped up’ (as sand on the shore). Similarly, in Telugu, ‘Ekkali’ means sand washed down by a river (DED 657)and in Malayalam, ‘Ekkal/Ekka’ means sand cast ashore by rivers.

Ekkar ( usually written as, Yekkar) is a large composite village in Mangalore Taluk, located about six kms East of the present Sea coast (as crow flies), presently divided into northern ‘Badaga Yekkar’ and southern ‘Tenka Yekkār’ administrative villages. [‘Badaga’=northern;’ Tenka’=southern]. The west flowing River Pāvanje (alternately known as Nandini or Kateel stream) traverses  through these village. The holy shrine of Kateel (dedicated to Goddess Jaladurga or Durga Parameshwari) is located on an island within this river. Yekkar villages are also known for the native Jarandaya and Kodamanittaya spirit shrines and the villages were in news recently for the vehement protest against the acquisition of the region for the second phase expansion of Special economic Zone (SEZ).
The place name Kateel (or Katil) is also interesting. There are some strange interpretations for this word wherein the word ‘kati’ has been interpreted as hip or waist (of the Goddess). However, if you accept it as a simple Tulu word, then the Tulu term  ‘Kateel’ represents a built house [kaTee + illu ]. Traditionally, it is a common practice in Tulunadu to refer to houses as Posalla (new house), Paddayill (Western house), Mittill (upper house), Kedill (house beside lake) etc. Therefore, Katil in this series, simply means a later constructed house in contrast with ancient traditional house. Thus basically the place name Katil  refers to a landmark house.
 The famous temple of Kateel Durga Parameshwari  is located on a minor rocky island [made of dolerite] between the braided river of Nandini/Pavanje. The river island abode earns the epithet of ’Jaladurga’ to the Goddess.

Alternate Possibilities
There are several other possible  meanings for the forgotten word Ekkar, which we shall discuss briefly before arriving at conclusion:
1. Ekk, ekka
The word Ekkār could be split in possible either ways: (1) Ekk+ār or (2) Ek(k)+kār. It is clear that in Tulu language, both ār and kār   do exist as spatial suffixes in place names as discussed in several older posts herein. The suffix   ār means an open ground or field (for example Bayar, Bolar, Mangar etc), whereas the kār means a forest or wooded area (for example, Ajekar, Kadekar, Kajekar, Alankar etc) in general.
The prefix ‘Ekka’ survives in place names such as Ekkar, Ekkundi and Ekkadka. The Ekka could have been short for the Ekkamāle, a rustic herbal flowering plant which is also known as Ekka (in Kannada).
The root ‘ekk’ has several shades of meaning possibly suggesting sequential evolution under diverse cultural environments and subsequent admixture of sub-cultures in the antiquity. Check up the following shades of meanings offered by the word: ekk.
Ekk 1 represents wide, vast stretch or spacious as in the Tulu usage Ekka-samudra (=Vast ocean). Therfore,  Ekkar could be a spacious open field (for example like a beach).
Ekk 2 (verb) = to stretch (for example, ekkal or ekkol toopini= to  stretch ones neck in order to observe) or to reach or touch (for example, to reach or touch a distant object by stretching the hand).
Ekk 3    = (a) breath. (b) breathlessness, or choked breath (as in ekk kaTTuni). (c) to become weak (as in ekku paaruni). (d) hiccup (as in ekkude). (e)breath in  or draw the stomach in (as if in hunger).(f) decline, etc.
Ekk 4  =   specific time in the recent past; at that time; a while ago (as in ekaD or ekaT).
Ekk  (a) = to gin or clear the cotton.  (b) Ekka-sakka  means haphazardly or disorderly.
2. Ekkala
Besides the above usages covered by the Tulu Nighantu, there are some more  similar sounding analogous words  like:
 Ekkala = wild hog, porcupine; Ekkale =cockroach; Ekka=  A tribe called Ekka or Yaksha. Derived from’ Yaksha.’ (The term Ekkalagāna was used for Yakshagāna in medieval Kannada literature).
 In Tamil, Ekkaru also means 'a strong desire'. It is 'Ekkanale' in Tulu (a gluttonous and greedy person). 
Badaga & Tenka Yekkar Villages: Ancient beach line (ca 500 BC) and Regression of Sea.

(Y)ekkar: a place name
There are several places in southern India, Srilanka, Thailand and Mali that carry the name of Ekkar, suggesting the ancient distribution of common ancient words as well as shared tribal cultures attributable to human migrations. For example, in Changkam diction (Sangam Tamil usage), ‘vaal ekkar’ in Srilanka means white sand dunes or sandy stretches (Refer the Etymology   section of Tamilnet). Since diverse regions in southern India share similar historical place names we can conclude that Ekkar in coastal Mangalore Taluk originally referred to a sandy stretch of land.

Receded beach-line
After overall analysis and correlation with available geological data we would like to conclude that the word/place name Ekkar (Yekkar) originally referred to a sand stretch of ancient beach that existed in the area sometime around 400 to 800 BC. It appears that the Ekkar village represents a former beach front that receded with passage of time. The Sea-fronts and the Beaches all over the world are known to change their playing grounds during different periods of history, depending upon the fluctuating regional climatic conditions and ambient geological events.
On-going geological research and indirect historical evidences provides ample scope for such a proposal. The surrealistic scheme also conforms to the legend of Lord Parasurama prevalent in the West Coast of India.

 Parasurama Shristi!
  According to legends,  a valiant sage known by the name of Parasurama ( A Rama with an axe; parasu=axe) requested Varuna, the Lord of Arabian Sea to recede back  up to the mark delimited by the axe thrown by Parasurama into the Sea. The Puranic 'fairy' tale appears to have been actually based on a geological event of regression of Sea that occurred in the (geologically) recent past probably around 200-100 BC.

We shall discuss more details of this  regression event of the Arabian Sea in a later post.

-Ravi .&.  Vishwanath.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

293. Peenya, Bangalore

Some   of the newcomers to the Karavali coast, used to express that there are a large number of odd sounding place names in Tulunadu. The Place names sound odd when we find it difficult to understand their meaning in the currently prevalent   language in usage in that area. Odd sounding place names are not exclusive to Karavali; you can find them all over India.
The Bangalore city, the capital of Karnataka, contains several such place names. Peenya is one such place name, of which most of have to struggle to understand the meaning of the word.
Peenya is a industrial hub in the NW part of Bangalore city, now under burgeoning under fast paced  flyovers and metro developmental works.
The place name’ Peenya’ (peeN+iya) is interesting. The global suffix ‘–iya’ represents a land or region as we see in diverse place names such as Asia, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia, Australia on one hand and Sullia, Iddya, Sampya, Murulia;  Purulia, etc.
Then what is ‘piN’ or ‘peeN’? The word Peen was a tribal name. Persons were named Peena, Peenanna etc in the past. One Ajila jain chieftain   who ruled Venur region in the Karavali in the pre-British era was known as Pinnāna Ajila (1490-1515). The personal name Pinnāna could have been a modification of Pinnanna (the Pinna brother), the suffix ‘anna’ being an honorific south Indian appendage meaning an elder brother. Or as per the pronunciation it could be Pinna +aaN, ( a male named Pinna). The ‘Pinna’ or Peena could be a regional  variant of the name of Puna(r)  or Pnar tribes.
Punar, Pnar tribes
Punar tribes were widespread in southern India and their domain was known as Punnata in ancient Karnataka.
Equivalents of southern Punars known as Pnar tribes live in Khasia-Jaintia hills region Meghalaya in NE India. The Pnars are also known as Jaintia or Synteng tribes and are matrilineal. In Jaintia hill district Meghalaya, (NE region of India) they traditionally speak Pnar dialect and their religion is known as ‘Niamtre’. The Pnars are considered to be of Austro-Asiatic ( Munda)in  origin.
Place names such as Peenya remind us about some of the forgotten pages in the history and the natural spread of ancient tribes in different parts of India in the antiquity.

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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