Friday, January 10, 2014

323. Ajji biru, the Rainbow – An exposition

The rainbow is popularly known as, ‘Ajji biru’ (or Ajja biru) in Tulu language.  Literally, it means a ‘bow of grandma (or grandpa) or even bow of an old woman. This archaic word is still extant in local tongue in rural areas. So it has rightly and deservedly found an entry in the mighty Tulu Lexicon (page 51).  However, the origin of this word is obscure. An attempt is made here to find out the secret of this word in pursuance of our inquisitiveness.
We have been using this word during our upbringing in native villages.  Besides the natural ‘ajjibiru’ seen during rainy days, we used to create it while bathing near draw-well or pond. By standing opposite to the Sun, we puff out and splash the water collected in the mouth to create a magical imagery of rainbow for a few seconds.
Who has not seen a rainbow near waterfall or fountain on spraying water?  A rainbow means a bow or arc of prismatic colours.  It appears on eastern or western horizon when clouds are opposite to the Sun.  Rainbow is created by the refraction of the Sun’s rays through the drops of rain water. Momentary appearance of this natural phenomenon is encased in a Tulu Proverb:
ಅಜ್ಜಿಬಿರು ಅಜ್ಜೆ ಬನ್ನಾಟ ಕಾಪಂದು” (Ajjibiru ajje bannaata kapandu).
=A rainbow does not wait till grandfather comes.

Let us explore the origin of word ‘Ajjibiru’, which is also pronounced as ‘Ajjibeer’ erroneously by some:
1.   The most probable explanation is that the rainbow bending is compared to bending of an old woman (or old man)
2.   ‘Aje’ in Tulu means ‘a row’ or ‘raised line’ (as is used for clothesline). So it could be explained as ‘a row or range of bows’.
3.   Next explanation could be ‘bow created by ‘Aaji neeru’ (i.e. evaporated water).
4.   There is one more reason for originating this name.  Whenever a rainbow is seen on the horizon, it is elders, say grandma or grandpa, who point out first the rainbow to their young ones.
5.   Another explanation is ‘Aaji biru’, meaning ‘six (coloured) bows’.  But this is a highly improbable proposition, as rainbow has seven colours and not six. Could it be a mistake in counting when this word is coined by our forefathers?
6.   The phrase ‘Ajji biru’ might have originated as an  idiomatic phrase to represent the colorful bow (‘biru’ in Tulu) shaped rainbow shown to children as a momentary object of curiosity and intensive interest by grandmothers.

Aja biru
7. Another probable argument that   'Ajabiru' (= Brahma dhanu) has been corrupted to 'Ajjibiru' in the course of time  by illiterate rustics. Brahma, (= Aja), has the meaning of 'Big or Great'. So, Aja biru means 'a great bow'.  This reminds us the story of  'Tripura Samhara'.  After the death of their father Tarakasura by Lord Kartikeya, his three sons (Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali) after rigorous penance get the boon of invincibility in three worlds from Lord Brahma.  Brahma gives boon with a condition that they would be killed together with one darting of an arrow.  He orders them to get three citadels (fortifications) made through Demon architect Mayasura.  These three cities are movable in sky but they are not to align in a line, so that Shiva can destroy them (in Pushya Nakshatra) with a single arrow, as per the condition. They know that being devotees of Shiva, he would not kill them. They start troubling one and all in three worlds as Lord Shiva is also helpless single-handedly.  With three energies of Brahma, Narayana and Shiva put together, Lord Shiva destroys the three citadels altogether

Readers may not agree to our logical listing of reasons.We invite them to come out with the correct reasoning in coining the Tulu word ‘Ajjibiru’, i.e. rainbow. 
A bright display or event is also compared to a ‘rainbow’.  A visionary goal or ambition is alluded to ‘rainbow’. Example: “He went in pursuit of ‘rainbow’ of becoming so and so in life.”  It also means a range of things, groups, etc.  Rainbow is, therefore, a symbol of brightness, a dream and a logical connection for peaceful co-existence.

-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

323.  Ajji biru, the Rainbow  – An exposition

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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