Bringing in the Harvest 2

Even as our rice fields shrink, with each passing year, a fragile sheen of past celebrations blots out —for a while —the crush of tourists, crowded towns, the traffic jams. The Coorgs retreat to their homes, fields and ancestral strongholds to harvest, feast, sing and dance. Quite often, driving along a road deep in the countryside, you catch a glimpse of a group of men with small drums, singing, disappearing down a quite lane. As people receive the new harvest in Kodagu, the countryside comes alive with groups of dudipatkaras, the bards of Kodagu, who walk to ancestral homes, singing the histories of the clans and re-creating the entire season of ploughing, sowing, transplanting and harvesting, in the puthari song. They also sing the histories of the clans, mane pat, walking from one ancestral home to the next. It's a beautiful way of remembering dead heroes of the clan, old deeds and stories, of waking up slumbering old houses, and singing people into forgotten frameworks in an ancient land. Houses are freshly painted, doorways strung with garlands of marigolds and mango leaves, and men gather everyday to practice the celebratory harvest dance, Puthari Kol. Women summon grain and plenty in the graceful movements of the Ummath Aat. It's the most beautiful time of year in Coorg. If you are fortunate enough to celebrate Puthari at an ain mane, and follow, on cold, bare feet, the bobbing light of the lamp down to the paddy fields to watch the first sheaves of paddy being harvested under the light of a full moon, it's an experience that will link you to the land forever.