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Kudubi Holi Celebrations of Udupi

Kudupi Holi in Udupi

Kudubi, originally from Goa are tribal inhabitants of the coastal areas in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttar Kannada districts. They live in small organized groups known as ‘Koodukattu’ or ‘Koodalike’ headed by a ‘Gurkar or Gaonkar’. They are a very conservative and follow their customs very strictly. Even though so much has changed in their village be it structurally or culturally, this tribal community has never compromised in their following their rituals and customs.

Holi of Kudubi - 5 days of Kunitha

Holi is a spring festival of fun and colors celebrated all over India but this tribe of Udupi has an unique way of celebrating Holi. Kudubi Holi is celebrated within the very boundaries of their ancient customs handed over to the people of this land by their earlier generations.

Usually Holi is celebrated near the house of a Gurkar or in a place specified by him. A day before the day of celebration people of the village gather at the Gurkar’s house and perform a small coconut Pooja in front of Tulsi. This pooja signifies the commencement of the 5 day grand celebration of the festival. During the celebrations men perform their traditional folk dance where they dance in circles whilst singing their folk songs. The songs are mostly about Vasantritu and epics like Ramanayana and Mahabharata. This folk dance is known as Holi Kunitha.

Holi Kunitha or the traditional dance of Holi is spectacular to watch and is very popular all over Udupi. People who perform the dance are known as ‘Khele’. Once all dressed up they look very similar to Yakshaga artists. They dress in colorful turbans decorated with wild flowers known as 'Abbalige' and each dancer holds a 'Gummate'; a percussion instrument made of clay. For the next 5 days they wander in the village dancing in front of houses and only return home on full moon day.

The dancers receive various gifts from people. Even people from other communities invite these dancers to their homes. The Kudubis do not take bath for 5 days and do not eat non vegetarian. After Holi ends they all hunt together. Then comes another important part of their ritual, known as Kama Dahana. In this ritual the dancers jump across a strait of fire and then take a bath.

This ritual signifies the burning of 'Kamadeva' and purification of the lives of those who participated in the festival. After taking bath they break the coconut which was placed on the Tulsi on the first day of festival at the Gurkar’s house. Finally, they all sit together and eat their dinner.

Till this day, a total of 65 families of Kudubi celebrate their Holi with the above mentioned enthusiasm. These tribes spend lavishly to make sure there is no short of resources while celebrating Holi. They start collecting necessary items to be required in the ritual from months before the festival. Items like feathers found in the tails of 'Hatti Mudda', a bird normally found in the forests during the Holi season, pelts of 'Harga' for covering the 'Gumtas,' a kind of percussion instruments played with hands, unique shirts with pleats, coats, shawls with linings, anklets etc. are gathered in advance. Every villagers' kith and kins gather for the festivities and enjoy together. It is like a reunion and everybody enjoys it thoroughly.

Which ever the way of celebration, the theme behind Holi of every tribe and community is the same. It is a festival celebrating the onset of harvest season. Bonfires are lit to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes.

You are sure to feel the vibrant vibe of the festival on your visit.

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