Puthari – Ritual Rice Paste Decorations

On puthari (rice harvest festival) night, before the harvest, decorating various implements and sacred spaces with wet rice paste to welcome the new crop is an important ritual. It is usually performed by the wife of the pattedara (eldest member of the family) or one of the senior ladies of the okka (patrilineal descent group). Soaked and pounded rice is mixed to form a thick, wet paste, and a cross section of a bitter-gourd is sliced and used as a stencil. Patterns, palm prints and large dots are stamped first in the nellakki nadubade (scared central hall); the area surrounding the tookbolcha (hanging lamp); kanni kombare (small scared chamber dedicated to ancestors), all doorways, and various implements and vessels associated with the harvest, such as the kuthi (wooden or copper receptacle to used carry the ceremonially harvested grain); kotthi (harvest sickle); kathi (knife); the mana and pani (measures), as well as the earthenware pot used at puthari. Three korvakarthis (senior women)— Rani Subbaiah, Vasanthi Muddaiah and Sheela Chermana led the ceremonies at the Kundyolanda ain mane where these puthari rituals were recorded. The rice-  paste decorations, a symbol of auspiciousness, were made by Rani Subbaiah while the dudipatkaras (traditional singers) of the family sang balo pat through the ceremony.

The living puthari traditions described above were documented on 7 th December, 2022 at the Kundyolanda ain mane.