Kodagu, also known as the Kashmir of Karnataka, is one of the most visited districts in the state. The nature, serene feel that Kodagu always offers, never fails to mesmerize the visitors. Kodagu coffee ranks among the bests in the country and the world. The tourist spots and peaks Kodagu has are the major attractions for tourists.
Kodagu is popular for its hills and waterfalls. The splendid paradise on earth also plays a major role in Karnataka’s life, as it is the birth place of the river Cauvery, which is the lifeline of southern Karnataka.
The original inhabitants of Kodagu are called Kodavas. For Kodavas, Cauvery is more of a Goddess than just a river. They worship nature and their ancestors than they do with the Gods. Cauvery is more of an emotional, devotional bonding for the Kodavas.
For any major event in the family, Kodavas visit and offer prayer to Goddess Cauvery at her birth place Talacauvery. When a baby is born, parents visit Talacauvery and offer prayers to the goddess to bless the newborn within a year. Among Kodavas, husband and wife visit Talacauvery, offer prayers and seek blessing from Goddess Cauvery within three months of their marriage. When a death occurs in the family, again, Kodavas visit Talacauvery, offer prayer to the river Goddess and pray for the peace of the demised soul.
According to the mythology, the story of the birth of river Cauvery goes like this. There was once a sage called Cavera who was childless. He prayed to Lord Brahma and was blessed with a baby girl. The baby was named Cauvery, daughter of Cavera. It is also believed that Cauvery is the daughter of Brahma and was called as Lopamudra. Cauvery grew beautiful with the passing years. Once, maiden Cauvery was wandering in the woods. Meanwhile, sage Agasthya, believed to be the avatar of Lord Shiva, encountered the beautiful Cauvery, enchanted by her beauty, he approached to marry her. Cauvery obliged to his wish with a condition. Her condition was that, from the day of their marriage, Agasthya should always be with her and should take her with him wherever he goes and in case he doesn’t, she will go away from him the next moment. Agasthya accepted the condition happily and both got married and lived happily.
Years passed and once Agasthya wanted to take bath in the kalyani (river) before offering a pooja. As he couldn’t take Cauvery along with him, he transformed her into water, put her inside his kamandala, kept the kamandala on the banks of the kalyani and went to bath. Cauvery was upset regarding this and prayed to Lord Shiva. Shiva ordered his son Ganesha and thus Ganesha, in the form of crow pushed down the kamandala. Cauvery who was already in anger rushed out in force. River Cauvery started flowing in an utmost speed.
The place where River Cauvery originated is called as Talacauvery. Cauvery flows from Talacauvery of Kodagu district to the southern part of Karnataka and then through Tamil Nadu it joins Bay of Bengal.
Along with the people of Karnataka, we cannot deny that even the people of Tamil Nadu offer prayers and have built temples for River Cauvery.
It is believed that every year Goddess Cauvery gives darshan to her devotees in the form of fountainhead which is popularly known as theerthodbava. Theerthodbava occurs on the first day of Tula Masa (month) according to the Hindu calendar, which normally falls in mid October. On this auspicious day, thousands of devotees flock to Talacauvery to witness the rise of fountainhead (theerthodbava), when water gushes up from the spring at a predetermined moment.
This is the most auspicious day for Kodavas. People gather to dip in this holy water during theethodbava. The water is collected in bottles and reaches every home throughout Kodagu. This holy water is called Theertha, and is preserved in all Kodava homes. A spoonful of this water is fed to the dying, in the belief that they will attain moksha. On this day, married women wearing new silk saris perform pooja to a coconut, symbolising goddess Cauvery. The coconut is wrapped in a piece of red silk cloth and decorated with flowers and jewels, mainly, Pathak, Kodava mangalasuthra. This is called Kani Pooje. Three sets of betel leaves and areca nut are kept in front of the goddess with bunches of glass bangles. Youngsters seek blessings of elderly members of the family and the elder members of the family ceremonially bless the younger. On this day, breakfast menu is always dosa and pumpkin curry. This is the only festival for Kodavas which is strictly vegetarian.
The day is popularly known as Tula Sankramana. This year, Tula Sankramana falls on October 17 where Cauvery theerthodbava will occur at 6:29 am at tula lagna. Tala Cauvery is 8 kilometre away from Bhagamandala and 48 kilometres away from Madikeri, the headquarters of Kodagu district.
-By Shrithi Joyappa K