The months of September, October and November are joyous months for the Kodavas – simply because it’s their festive season; making it time for mouth-watering food and family gatherings. The Kodavas celebrate Kail Polud in the month of September, Kaveri Sankramana in October and Puttari in the month of November-December.
Kaveri Sankramana usually celebrated mid-October, is a festival celebrating the birth of the River Kaveri which originates at Talakaveri in Kodagu. During this period, there is a precise moment when the sun enters Tula Rasi, and simultaneously, tirtha (holy water) springs from the kundike (pond) and empties itself into the larger holy tank at Talakaveri.
People immerse themselves in this water as they consider it to be holy. This holy water, otherwise known as tirtha, is collected in bottles and distributed among every Kodava household. This sacred water is meant to be preserved at every person’s dwelling. Such is the importance of the River Kaveri in this land, its significance doesn’t simply end here. This water is fed to the dying in the belief that they will attain moksha (salvation).
On the following day, Kani Puje (worshipping mother earth) is performed. Kani is a reference to Goddess Parvati, and Goddess Kaveri is her incarnation. Married women drape themselves in lovely silk sarees and perform rituals. A taliyatakki bolca (an oil lamp placed on top of rice grains spread on a bell-metal plate), a vegetable wrapped in red silk- believed to be a symbol of Goddess Kaveri, and adorned with jewellery and flowers, three betel leaves and three areca nuts are placed on a plate. All the family members offer prayers to the lamp by sprinkling grains of rice on it.
This ritual is followed by the elder members of the family blessing the younger ones, and the older woman of the house drawing water from a well. It is this water that is used for cooking all meals on that day.
The one thing that stands out about this festival is that the Kodavas turn pure vegetarian on this day. All their famous meat-dishes are given a day’s rest. Dosa, vegetable curry, payasa and other vegetable dishes find their way into the otherwise predominantly non-vegetarian menu.
Just like their other two festivals, Kaveri Sankramana too is celebrated with a lot of zeal. After all, a festival is the best time to celebrate with family while the spirit of joy floats around everywhere!