Sunday, November 20, 2016

371. The Manser Community

The Manser community is one of the lesser understood, unfortunately   downtrodden set of ancient people. Nevertheless, the studies on the aspects of socio-cultural evolution of the community are significant in understanding the overall pattern of human evolution and heritage in the coastal Karnataka and the Tulunadu. 
The members of the Mansa community are distributed mainly in the coastal Karnataka especially in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Kasargodu (Kerala). There may be distribution of members in Hassan, Kodagu and Chikamgaluru districts and elsewhere also. Because of the downtrodden stigma attached, now they prefer to be known as members of Adi-dravida , which means Early Dravidians. And some of them have embraced Buddhism.

 The term “Manser” is the plural form (in Tulu language) of the singular noun “Mansa”. It appears that the etymology of the word Mansa in their original language –now lost- of the Mansa language means the human being.  In this regard it is interesting to note that the ancient term Mansa has been adopted as the basic and essential term in most of the Indian languages to represent the human beings, the “Manush” or the “Manusha”.  These terms are conventionally considered to have been introduced after King Manu who, as described in our traditional legends, is considered to have repopulated the Earth/Bharathavarsha after a great deluge. In any case, the adoption of the ethnic word in Indian languages signifies the antiquity and significance of these ancient   tribes in our land.

Bari system in Tulunadu
Most of the tribes and communities in Tulunadu follow a genetic lineage system known as the “bari” system. In fact this recognition of genetic family lineages is characteristic of all ancient Indian communities and known as gotra or bali or bedagu or other terms in different languages and regions of India.  The members   of a particular bari lineage are considered blood relatives. And it was an ancient taboo to select and marry a person from the same “bari” lineage group.  And the custom of prevention marriage within relatives is also endorsed by modern geneticists in view of the fact that cross breeding would reduce the chances of recurrence of genetic defects in the off-springs.  The bari type of lineage systems prevailed in ancient societies before the formation of castes and communities. (For additional details peruse older posts in this blog).  Thus the antiquity of the bari system imparts special significance in the study of our evolution and culture.

Bari system in Manser
 Presently we could collect a list of 17 bari groups existing in the Mansa community of Tulunadu. The information has been provided by   Shri. Mohan R. Bodhi,   a member of the Mansa community through   the consistent efforts of my friend Shri Dinesh Salian Mulki. (Any of the readers having additional information may kindly add here through comment section or email)
1. Kannada-dān
2. Koḍyāḍ-dān
3. Kolambu-dān
4. Heena-dān
5. Māja-dān
6. Parike-dān
7. Bakuda-dān
8. Miyār-dān
9.  Kumer-dān
10. Angāra-dān
11. Bolya-dān
12. Pāle-dān
13. Ballad- dān
14. Vallad- dān
15. Kelinja -dān
16. Kallar- dān
17. Kandannāya

Basically, the list of bari groups in Manser reveals the nature of amalgamation of individual ancient tribes into the community of Manser. In other words, each bari represents an ancient tribes which   probably have lost their individual entities in the subsequent period of time.
(This is a common feature that has happened in the case of all traditional communities in the Tulunadu. Or, this may be a common evolutionary characteristic feature that occurred all over India. With influx of additional details, we can discuss more about the individual tribal units in later blogs.)
Maori tribes
Dr. Kota Shivaram Karanth, the well known multi-talented Kannada writer, has referred to these people as “Māri Mansa” in his writings. It is understandable that he has used an expression that was vogue in the society. In fact the preservation of the tag word “Māri” hints at an forgotten historical link in the origin and evolution of the community of these tribes.
 We have pointed out in older posts in this blog, several lines of evidence to prove that ancient African and Austro-Asiatic tribes immigrated to coastal Karnataka (and naturally other parts of India) and settled here in the antiquity. Essentially, the presence of significant number of   fossil words of African and Austro-Asiatic origin, amalgamated or still surviving as such in our languages and culture proves this theory.
In this light, it may be mentioned   that   the “Māri” in the epithet “Māri Mansa” is a corrupt form of the “Maori Mansa”. The Maori is a Polynesian tribe of New Zealand. There is an island of Manus near New Zealand. Therefore an ancient episode of immigration of Maori Manus tribes that settled in our coasts can be envisaged.   In the Maori language, the word Maori means normal or ordinary; thus the tribe Maori Mansa stands for normal human beings. Besides, one of the Austronesian tribes of Papua New Guinea is known as Mansa tribe.
"Mansa" is also a proper name in African countries like Mali. The term "Mansa" means a king in Mande language of Africa.
There may be several hints in our land and culture to prove this theory of ancient episode of migration and settling of Maori tribes in this land. One of the evidence is existence of “Maori Teertha” in Tulunadu.
Maori Teertha
In the Tulu pāDdana of Mugera Sandhi we find references to an open well/pond water source known as “Maori teertha”, located somewhere in Puttur or adjacent part of Beltangadi Taluk. The term “teertha” refers to an open source of water. (In case any of the reader is aware of the exact location of this open well/lake, it may be informed). The word Maori has no other meaning in the Tulu language, hence it should have been an ethnic fossil word brought by the ancient Maori   tribes. In other words the Maori teertha located in Tulunadu and cited in one of the traditional the pāDdana refers to a water source divined or conventionally used by the Maori people.
* *
The cooperation and help of Shri M.R. Bodhi, Mudabidri and Shri Dinesh Salian, Mulki in compiling the list of bari groups among the Manser community are gratefully acknowledged.
Readers conversant with Manser culture and traditions are welcome to contribute additional information to this post.  
It is earnestly hoped that understanding the evolution of our culture and heritage would dissolve or at least decrease the pain and burden of down trodden and neglected sentiments among  some of our communities. It is aspired that the studies and consequent understanding the facets of social evolution would pave ways for an egalitarian and truly democratic society.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

370. Tulasi- Venkataramana in Ankola

The different patterns of worshipping divine forces of the nature can be seen in different parts of the world. Traditionally the herb basil or Tulasi, which has excellent medicinal properties as recognised by our ancestors, has been the divine symbol of health, sanitation and prosperity for Hindus and we can see pedestal structures in front of houses wherein the herb of holy basil (tulasi)   is devotedly planted for regular nurture and worship. 
The holy basil is utilised by members of all communities, irrespective of religions, in the coast for the beneficial medicinal properties. 
The conventional pedestal erected for the implant of Tulasi herb in front of the Hindu houses is known as Tulasi katte in Kannada as well as in Tulu. In south Indian devout  houses the Tulasi is being worshipped on regular basis and annually special pooja are offered on the designated day of Tulasi pooje that follows  twelve nights after the joyful festival of lights, the Deepavali.

Tulasi pedestal with image of Venkataramana  in  Hichkad Village, Ankola, Uttara Kannada. 
Tulasi worship in Ankola
In Uttara Kannada district especially around Ankola we can see the modification of the Tualsi pedestal structures in front of the traditional houses into a small shrines  structure comparable  to the Spirit (‘boota’) shrines of Tulunadu. These shrines in front of the traditional joint family houses are commonly known as the “Tulasi”.  Normally one joint family shall have a common Tulasi which shall have adesignated member of the family to look after routine pooja rituals for the Tulasi shrine. 

It is interesting to note that the Tulasi shrines especially in Ankola region have been modifed to accommodate images of  Lord Venkataramana (usually along with other village deities or spirits). Thus we can see the vestiges of ancient spirit worship as well well the worship of Venkataramana fused into the worship and legends of the holy herb Tulasi. Probably this amalgamation occurred in this region about five to six centuries ago when a few Nadava families migrated  from the Kundapura region and settled in Ankola -Gokarna- Kumta region in coastal Uttara Kannada.
A wooden plaque containing sculptures of Venkataramana -and other wooden dolls probably representing village deities - are placed in front of the Tulasi pedestal which is housed inside a small shrine like structure. Routine rituals connected with Tulasi with Venkataramana (with other minor deities)are conventionally conducted by a designated senior member of the joint family.
Such Tulasi-Venkataramana shrines are not newly constructed in newly built houses these days. Only the older composite Tulasi shrine structures belonging to the particular joint families of the yester years are being renovated and maintained.
Tulasi marriage
In Karavali West Coast on the twelfth night (“dwadashi”), traditionally people celebrate a festive night known as “Tulasi parba”. The Tulasi festival conducted with lamps lighted up around the decorated pedestal of Tulasi in front of the house is traditionally considered to be the annual celebration of the ancient  event of marriage of the Lady Tulasi with Lord Vishnu.


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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