Costumes, eating habits, beliefs, rituals, and body language are just some aspects which are largely influenced by a culture. Culture, indeed plays a huge role in shaping us, hence it won’t hurt to say that culture defines us. It defines who we are and what we are supposed to be. It tells us what to believe in and the traditions we should follow, which in the long run is what makes us who we are.

One of the aspects of culture is the costume. The way we dress and how we dress are also highly culture specific. The simplest example of this is how we Indians have saris as the national costume for women. This style of dressing is deep rooted in our culture. Hence every country has a national costume or one would rather say, their own style of dressing/costume which is influenced by their culture.

India being a land of multiple ethnicities, every state in the country has its own set of traditions and values. Apart from this, they have their own style of dressing too. Very often, we even guess which part of the country the person belongs to by just looking at the costume they are wearing. Such is the importance of costume/dressing.
Coorg, our very own Scotland, has its own style of dressing too. Their traditional costume is highly distinctive. Hence one look at the costume and we know that the individual is from the Kodava land.

The traditional Kodava costume for men is the ‘Kupya’, a knee length half sleeved coat. This Kupya is worn over a full sleeved white shirt. The costume doesn’t end here. Apart from the coat, a maroon and gold sash called the ‘Chale’ is tied at the waist.

A beautifully decorated silver dagger called the ‘Peechekathi’ is tucked into the chale. One might ask why a silver dagger is part of the Kodava costume. Well, the significance of it lies in the Kodava culture. Weapons, such as daggers, play a significant role in their culture. Moreover, weapons are worshipped by them. Hence the dagger being part of their costume is just a representation of their culture.

Kodava traditional costume

Men’s Traditional Costume

Apart from Peechekathi, Odikathi, a knife, is also tucked into the Chale, at the back.

When it comes to the Kodava women, their traditional costume stands apart. This is because of the unique way in which they wear their saris. The sari is pleated at the back and its pallu is also wrapped in a unique way. The sari is worn with a full or three-fourth sleeved blouse and the head is covered with a scarf. A gold beaded necklace with a gem pendant is largely worn among the Kodava women.


Kodava Attire – a Class Apart  Picture courtesy: Bavna Achayya

This description of their costume is enough for one to know how distinctive the Kodava culture is. Their attire is not just unique but also pleasing in appearence and highly representative of their land.