There are several customs and rituals practised in agrarian society in India, some resembling to practices in Tulunadu. There are rituals, which are very specific to Tulunadu, such as Kambala, Pookare, Karangolu, Kangil or Kangilo-Mayilo, etc. Now-a-days, these ritualistic dances are evolved as performing arts and are staged in theatres by artists in villages and urban areas alike.
Pookare is associated with the buffalo race known as Kambula (Kambala). The Kambala is a religio-social function. (Post-276; April, 2011). This article is to give some more insight into the significance of Pookare.
Tulu Lexicon (p.2087) explains the word meaning as “an ornamental post decorated with flower set with specific rituals in some selected paddy fields and fields of buffalo-race to ward off evil spirits”. This ritual is evolved into a dance form, in which people worship Mother Earth before starting agricultural operations. We may recall that a ‘Pookare’ dance is staged on 11th March, 2011 on the eve of World Kannada Conference held in Belagavi (Belgaum).
Pookare Kanda means a dedicated paddy field where this ornamental ‘Pookare' Post is erected for Kambala event or for remembering the dead of family.
‘Kare’ (ಕರೆ) : ‘Kare’ generally means an edge or border or shore of sea or bank of a river. It also means a boundary of a paddy field. In particular, it means a track laid in an agricultural field, earmarking it for annual buffalo-race or planting the Post or Staff. It is a narrow stretch of low-lying slush field, apportioned with ridges on both sides along the track.
We learn from news in vernacular newspapers, like Udayavani, etc., that college girls of Nalanda College, Perla, Kasargod District, are acquainted with the technique of Paddy Plantation under National Service scheme. One such event took place recently in Pookare paddy field, owned by Battunni Master at Sheni, Enmakaje Grama Panchayat.
Word meaning: ‘Paniku’ (under water drop, i.e. dew) ‘ Kulluni’ (Sitting, i.e. in open field at night when dew falling is common). It is a ritual of guarding of the field designated for buffalo race (Pookare Kanda) on the previous night against evil spirits as well as against evil intentions of miscreants of rival manor houses or other landed gentry. Members of the scheduled community sing, beat drums and dance throughout the night after worshipping their deity in the night, exposing themselves to the mist of night (q.v. Tulu Lexicon P.1923).
Stealing of Pookare
Pookare, the ritualistically decorated and venerated Pole/Staff is planted on the field to declare the consummation of buffalo race. It is considered as a protector against evils and harbinger of prosperity in the form of a good harvest. It is a centre of attraction and hence a coveted piece. The splurge and pride speaks for it. Envious manor houses used to steal such Posts, making the owners to guard it even after the racing event. (q.v. e-Book of Castes and Tribes of Southern India Vol.1 Page 16 on Bants)
A serious Concern
The area under cultivation is dwindling day by day in Tulu Nadu owing to rapid industrialization and urbanization, thereby affecting Pookare Kandas and also the agricultural related customs and rituals. These days the Kambala Committees are coordinating the Kambalas, which is a welcome sign but the old pomp and pelf is missing.