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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Bisu Changrandi (Edmyaar Ond)


By Mookonda Nitin Kushalappa

(Part of the debate series Are Kodavas Hindu initiated by Palanganda T. Bopanna)

Edmyaar Ond (the first day of the Kodava month of Edmyaar), is the New Year for the Kodavas. This year, the day falls on April 14. It marks the commencement of the Kodava calendar and the agricultural cycle in Kodagu. On this day prayers are said and cattle are yoked and made to plough the paddy fields.

Bisu Changrandi, the Kodava New Year’s day, corresponding to Vishu in Kerala and Vaisakhi in North India, is observed in mid-April. Also called Edmyaar Ond, Bisu commences when the sun seems to enter the first Zodiac sign of Aries.

Kodavas follow the solar calendar, which was the same as the Tulu, the Malayalam and the Tamil calendars, although the month names differed. While Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada followed the solar calendar, the rest of Karnataka followed the lunar calendar. The months of this lunar calendar begin and end with a new moon.

There is a reason as to why Kodavas now celebrate Ugadi and not Edmyaar Ond. The Rajas of Kodagu (c.1600 – 1834) came from the Shimoga region to Haleri in Kodagu. They followed the Hindu lunar calendar and implemented it in Kodagu for all administrative purposes during their reign. Their chief festivals were Ugadi, Shivarathri and Ayuda Pooja (Dasara). Thus these Hindu festivals were popularised in Kodagu.

Ugadi, when Bevu-Bella (neem leaves and jaggery) is eaten and mango leaves are hung upon doors, also happened to be a major festival in neighbouring Mysore. The event is showcased well by the present-day Kannada media. The influence of the neighbours and of the media has increased the popularity of the festival. As Kodavas moved out of Kodagu to live in the cities, Edmyaar Ond, observed in the fields, is no longer celebrated by them. The disappearance of paddy fields and oxen has led to the further neglect of the festival by Kodavas. Therefore, the significance of Edmyaar Ond faded while Ugadi gained prominence. Presently Kodava political outfits have been trying to popularise Edmyaar Ond in Kodagu once again.

The months of the Kodava calendar and their corresponding Indian zodiac signs are : Edmyaar (ram), Kadyaar (bull), Adare (twins), Kakkada (crab), Chingyaar (lion), Kanyaar (maiden), Tholyaar (scales), Birchyaar (scorpion), Dalmyaar (archer), Malyaar (crocodile), Kumbyaar (water bearer) and Minyaar (fish).

My article translated into the Kodava language by Poomale weekly (April 19th, 2017 issue) ....

Disclaimer :
I personally observe three new year days annually (these speak of my cultural influences) :
1. January 1st, the Western New Year
2. Yugadi, the Kannada Indian Lunar New Year in March and
3. Bisu Changrandi, the Kodava Indian Solar New Year in April

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