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An untouchable (in olden days, not now there is untouchability )as a deity? Yes.The Tuluva pantheon has Koraga Thaniya
Unlike other ‘bhutas’, Koraga Thaniya cracks jokes, entertains
From elders to youngsters, everyone loves the name, Koraga Thaniya. Those who worship Bhutas (deity) of tulunad are afraid of their deities due to many reasons. But when people hear the name Koraga Thaniya everyone’s face turns wider with smile due to his entertainment and jokes done by the lord.
Whenever there is a theft or valuable is misplaced they pray to Koraga Thaniya for help and they offer him a bottle of alcohol/spirit. Soon after they worship him in this manner, the items that they have lost will soon be found. Also, any problem to cattle, they please Koraga Thaniya for help. He is worshipped in almost all the parts of South Canara.copy rights reserved (C)Dr Lakshmi G Prasad
He is worshipped by offering Kola and Agelu (spiritual performances) to him. His attire is so simple. There is no special ornaments or other things on him. Folklore has it that he is regarded as a brave warrior.
His birthplace was in Koragara Koppa. In ‘Paddana’, we can see many places where many Koraga community members live -- Kadri, Jeppu, Moodbidri and Mulki. Folklore has it that in Koppa Koraga and Korappolu, a baby boy is named Uravana Odi. When this baby grows into a matured man they search a suitable girl for him to marry. His uncle says “There is a girl in Thirthamale Koppa”. When they reach the place, they say that girl is in Kadpamale Koppa. So, they travel to Kadpamale Koppa, while many of them arrive near home where Koroppolu Maire who would be fetching lice from her father’s head sees the people and says “Wow, see the beauty of relatives arrived at our sweet home, dad”. While her dad says “You are still very small and you are not old enough to be sought in marriage”.
Later, he asks her to arrange some water and to welcome the guests. Gives some beetle leaves with tobacco to eat. Later, they ask for a girl. At first her father rejects saying she is very small to send her. But later they agree to teach her everything. Later, they mutually accept the marriage and they decide to fix a date. They get married. One day, she learns that she is pregnant. She prays to lord Kantaavara and says she will do a special puja to Ullaya if she delivers safely. Later, when it was time for delivery, Maira remembers her curse given by Lord Shiva where he thought her as Parvathi and tries to force himself on her. But Maira regards him as lord and offers him puja. Angered by this, Lord Shiva curses her that she will deliver a baby boy and with this her whole community will be vanished.copy rights reserved (C)Dr Lakshmi G Prasad
So, when Koraga Thaniya was born, his mother dies while feeding him. His father too dies while trying not to keep his son starved. Later, his aunt dies too. After all his family was banished, he alone went to faraway places to lead his life. Later, in a big street he would be doing some funny activities. But would cry missing home. Seeing this, a lady called Bairakka, her daughter Manjakka, and brother Chenneya take him to their home. There he learns to make pots and bags from bamboo. During the Nema of Marl Jumadi, Mada Maisandaya, Padavu Lakkesiri, lot of goods including coconut fronds, tender arecanut fronds and other items need to be sent to temple. Seven persons were supposed to carry these items to the temple. But they do not turn up. Upset, Bairakka’s husband asks Koraga Thaniya, if he could give it to temple.
He agrees to do it if they provide whatever they used to offer as treats to seven members. He is offered all that and he takes the goods all alone. While going, he turns back and says to Bairakka, “You have taken care of me very well but today you don’t have full faith on me to return”. Baidyakka feels very bad and asks him not to go. To which Koraga Thaniya says, “Once I take up the goods on my head, I will not leave it until I reach my destination.” But at the temple, people say “You are untouchable and cannot take the goods inside the holy place”.
Upset, Koraga Thaniya asks “If I pluck those coconut leaves and offers it to Lord, he has no problem. But if I bring these goods and take them inside the temple, it is a big issue?” Angered Koraga Thaniya, drops everything outside the temple. Later, he sees a tamarind tree near the roof of the holy place. He remembers his mother’s words, “Need to get tamarind to make a pickle.” So, he climbs up the tree and keeps his one leg on the roof of the daivasthanam and tries to pluck tamarind. But he goes missing which indicates that he turns one among the daivas. Hence, he is worshipped as Koraga Thaniya daiva.
Koraga Thaniya always carries one stick in his hand and he is fondly called as Ajja/grandfather.
In Tulunadu culture, one who dies for the sake of divinity gets the status of daiva and is worshipped.copy rights reserved (C)Dr Lakshmi G Prasad
Dr Lakshmi G Prasad is a well-known Tulu folklorist. The author holds PG degrees in Kannada, Sanskrit, and Hindi as well as doctorates from Hampi Kannada University and Dravidian University. Currently, she teaches Kannada at Government PU College in Nelamangala. She blogs at www.laxmipras.blogspot.com
Artile published in Bfirst.in