Kola Devaru (Clan Deity)
The Badagas are divided into fifteen ‘kolas’ (clans) which are traced in the male line. The originator of a particular clan is the clan deity (kola devaru) of that one. The originator is known as ‘devva’ and the word ‘devva’ is derived from ‘deyvam’, which means god. ‘devva habba’ (festival of god) is basically an clan deity worshipping festival and it is a living tradition of Badagas in which almost everyone in the village participates making it a real social thread connecting the entire society. The festival is one of the thanks giving harvest to ‘devva’ and it still remains untouched and is performed year after year with unprecedented pomp and splendour. Because the universality of appeal, it is firmly rooted in the religious faith and traditions and has assimilated various other cults.
To Badagas forefathers are their gods and they pay obeisance during this festival. In religious observances of Badagas the ancestral worship is predominant. We can identify fifteen ancestors for their different clans (exogamous septs). All these ancient men are called in unison as ‘hiriyodayya’, which can be equated with Tamil ‘peru udaiyar’ i.e. the great lord, lord Siva. It is to be noted here that the ancestor worship was the earliest form of worship.
Clans are maintained by two prohibitions, one on inter dining and the other on inter marriage.
It is in ‘devva’ festival time Badagas are seeking to reaffirm their identity and commitment. They are special cause to rejoice, because year after year they try to find their roots and keep their tradition afresh. This festival is important on many different levels; it has existed for centuries and sustained devotees while maintaining its complex ritual cycle. There is something intangible but deeply felt. Badagas relationship with this festival is intense often very moving.
Each clan has its own ‘devva mane’ (house of ancestor) at ‘ooru’ (head – hamlet of a clan). In the same way each hamlet has a ‘doddamane’ (ritual – house) which represents ‘devva mane’. Basically for Badgas ‘devvamanes’ are their temples and special rites are performed there during festival days, A particular ‘devvamane’ represents the particular founder of that ‘oor’ and it is important not only for its history but its rituals. The other place which has connection with this festival is ‘banagudi’ (forest temple), memorial of ancestor. It gets ‘poojas’ once in a year that too during this ‘devva’ festival. Any Badaga can act as a priest but among the clan of agnates. The essential features of ordination are abstain from meat eating on particular days, preparing him for ‘pooja’ like taking bath in stream, sleeping the previous night at devvamane etc.
While all the articles in conducting poojas are traditionally held in reverence, there are some that top the other in terms of divine association. In Badaga tradition ‘juvikindi’ (water – jar), ‘ele kannadi’ (bronze mirror), ‘jegande’ (bell) represent the very deity itself and these articles get pooja once in a year that too on ‘devva’ festival. Except this festival days rest throughout the year these articles are kept in a hidden place at forest. ‘thumbe’ (leucas), the flower that has religious significance is an integral to ‘devva habba’ and offering honey to deity is also occur.
In this festival Badagas offer their forefathers the food prepared with newly harvested ‘ganje’ (barley, hordeum vulgare) and the milk of a cow which yeaned first time. Badagas make fire by friction for boiling the milk and cooking the ‘ganje’ and offer cooked ‘ganje’ without salt or sugar. This festival is celebrated throughout Badaga land with full devotion and they are strict enough to observe the vow that not to consume any agricultural produce of a particular year up to this festival.
Hethes are goddesses of human origin and they lived different times of history. Fourteen Hethes are identified and worshiped by the Badagas. Hethes take prominent role in the overall life and activities of the Badaga society. Due this few jump to consider that Hethes are our clan deities. First of all, all the fifteen clans are not having their own Hethes. For example, the ‘thodanadu’ has no Hethe of its own. Among fourteen Hethes only few lived along with ‘devva’ (ayya). Secondly, Badagas trace their descent from one or other certain specified exogamous clan descending in the male line. In this background there is no room to consider Hethes as clan deities.
Two responses to the article
1.Hariharan Emarald Bhojan :
The Badugu Gowda clan call their clan deity by the name “Hiriyodayya”. The Badugu Haruva clan call by the name “Maalingaiyya”. Wodeyaru call by the name “Jedayalinga” or “Jedayasomi”, Thoreyaru address by the name “Ketharayya” and Adhikari Clan address by the name “Kariyabettaraya. The Badaga Community is an agglomeration of various Jatis and Clans which trace their ancestry to varied family trees but speaking the same language. Although we may look like a homogenous community to an outsider, factually we are not. While sincerely applauding your knowledge and work, I would appreciate representing certain practises as they are.
2. Bellie Lakshmi Ramakrishnan :
A very enlightening writeup/article. Research on our community is very engrossing and enlightening, making us yearn for more such researched articles. I kindly request you to provide more such articles about our community.
Further, we should collectively organise seminars and workshops on the cultural aspects of our community. Researchers and others interested in the welfare of our community should be encouraged to present papers on specified topics for the collation of information for the wellbeing of the community. Your steadfast approach to bring out the unlettered knowledge of our community in writing is extremely inspiring.
I personally feel a seminar or series of seminars would ensure uniformity in presenting our cultural knowledge. Knowledge is Power and every Badaga should endeavour to imbibe the knowledge about our community.
To my knowledge, please correct me if I am wrong, majority of research material on our community was done by persons outside our community, now, the advent of the educated Badaga, the Badaga researcher, calls for us to be more uniformaly unanimous in our projection of facts about our community. The research done by the Badaga on the Badagas would stand more scrutiny.