Young Kodava Women wearing pathak

The Kodava pathak (from padakkam) is an ornament worn by women that symbolizes their married status. It consists of a gold coin surmounted with a stylized cobra hood, set with tiny rubies for the eyes— a gemstone associated with longevity—which is fashioned into a pendant attached to coral beads interspersed with hollow gold beads. This is strung on minute black glass beads and worn fairly close around the neck. A pathak is placed around the neck of a bride-to-be by her mother on the eve of her wedding. The cobra hood is a fertility symbol, and coral beads are considered auspicious, averting the evil eye. There can be much variation in the style of a pathak: early versions used a plain gold coin as the pendant the most popular being the Victorian sovereign. The original Kodava ornament was a more robust necklace, devoid of overtly religious symbolism. The coral beads can be rounded or tubular, plain or covered with fine gold wires worked into patterns. With the growing influence of Hinduism, the pathak often uses a coin stamped with Lakshmi, or the more recent trend of repoussé work depicting Gajalakshmi.