Nere Kettuvo – Tying of Harvest Leaf Clusters at Puthari

As the okka (patrilineal descent group) prepares to bring in the harvest, a newly woven palm leaf mat is spread on the floor, the puthari basket placed on it, and the men of the okka gather to tie together small cones made of specially selected rolled leaves. Nere are made with the rolled leaves of the pipal, gamhar and wild cashew trees, with strands of balloon vine, and bound with strips of fibre from the tulip-wood tree. There are variations in the choice of leaves in different parts of Kodagu.  Each of these is believed to be symbolic of different attributes such as sacredness, temperance, mortality, hygiene and good health. The gathered men chant ‘poli deva’ continuously, through the ceremony of preparing the nere, invoking the gods to shower down blessings and a bountiful harvest. Once again, the solidarity of the okka is emphasised in this collective activity and invocation. The prepared nere are gathered in the puthari basket, and carried down to the fields, where they will be filled with sheaves of freshly harvested, sacred grain, and carried back to the ain mane (ancestral home). Once all harvest ceremonies conclude, they will be carried away by individual members of the okka to sanctify and bless their own homes.

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