Over 400 attend grand ceremony in Boston
Boston: The North American Kodava Convention was hosted by Kodavas of Greater Boston area from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.
Kodavas from across Continental US, Hawaii, Canada, India and UAE joined the convention that was one of the largest gathering of Kodavas in North America. Over 400 people attended the event.
The community came together as ‘Okka’ at the convention which was aimed at bringing the community closer, renew old relations and forge new ones, facilitate connections for youngsters who are growing up in a foreign land to their Kodagu roots and to help preserve and nurture the rich Kodava heritage, culture and language.
The event was organised at Marriott Copley Hotel in the heart of Boston. The weekend festivities kicked off with an informal meet of the gathering on the evening of Aug. 30 at the hotel lounge, followed by ‘Oorkuduva’ evening on Aug. 31 at the world-renowned MIT Media Lab, to showcase the intellectual side of Boston.
The ‘Oorkuduva’ evening had presentations regarding the origin of culture and biodiversity in Kodagu related to genealogy, including preliminary data from the ‘Kodava Genome Initiative’, which was presented by Prof. Maanasa Raghavan and her Ph.D. student Arjun Biddanda.
The evening also included a talent show of Kodava children in the art of public speaking, piano recitals, jazz-saxophone performance and singing. It was an idyllic setting for an ‘Oorkuduva’ gathering at the MIT Media, overlooking the Charles River and spectacular views of Boston skyline.
There was Kodava Vaalaga after dinner which got most of the guests onto the dance floor. The party then shifted to the Marriott Copley Hotel where Deep Chinappa entertained guests with his rock band, the ‘Deep C Divers’.
There were several daytime activities including tours of various historical and cultural Boston landmarks, walks along the popular Freedom Trail, kayaking on the Charles River and tours of MIT and Harvard campuses. The highlight of the Convention was the gala reception on Sept. 1 at the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel.
It was a Kodava wedding muhurtha-like atmosphere where guests sported their traditional attire. The programme included Kodava folk dances like ‘puthari kolaat’ by Kodava men, an up-tempo exhilarating ‘bode namme’ style carnival dance.
The programme also had panel discussions that covered topics like, “Our enchanting Kodagu: Change is inevitable! The resources are at their limits. How do we advance our beloved Kodagu on a global scale in a sustainable way, while preserving our unique culture, family values, and one-of-its-kind natural bounty? What role each person can play towards achieving these goals? How do we inspire youngsters and serve as role models to excel in whatever field they choose?”
The panellists included Belliappa Cheppudira, an educationist, coffee planter, an entrepreneur, an accomplished novelist and author of several books including ‘Tale of a Tiger’s Tail’, ‘Yarns from Coorg’, ‘Nuggets from Coorg History’, and ‘Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg’.
Others were Dr. Zarin Machanda, Assistant Professor at Tufts University and Director of Kibale Chimpanzee Project in Uganda and Dr. Naren Anjaparavanda, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Cincinnati.
After the discussion, the guests were treated to delicious authentic Kodagu food including ‘kadambuttu,’ ‘nooputtu,’ ‘Onakyerchi’ ‘nucchi kum’ curry, ‘kadale payasa’ and of course the traditional ‘pandi’ curry.
The evening’s programme also included an annual update from Kodava Koota and presentation of high school achievement awards sponsored by Bachranianda Muthappa and Rani Education Fund.
The convention ended with a resolve to organise the next convention at San Francisco Bay Area in 2020.