When KG Bopaiah talked about ‘killing and marrying the tiger’, he was referring to ‘Nari Mangala’, a tradition of the Kodava community from the Kodagu region.
After a tiger attacked and killed four people in Karnataka’s Kodagu district recently, the state government has issued a shoot-at-sight order for the big cat.
This comes after a boy was killed and a plantation worker seriously injured in a tiger attack at Belluru village in Ponnampet taluk of South Kodagu on Monday. The boy was identified as Rangaswamy (8) while his grandfather, Kencha, was injured and has been hospitalised in Mysuru.
After this incident, two Kodagu MLAs on Tuesday took up in the Assembly the issue of repeated man-animal conflicts.
BJP MLA from Virajpet, KG Bopaiah, said in the Assembly, “If the forest department cannot catch or kill the man-eating animal, let us know. We will take necessary action. We will kill and marry the tiger (referring to ‘Nari Mangala’ tradition of the Kodava community.”
Echoing Bopaiah, Appachu Ranjan, another MLA from the district who represents the Madikeri constituency, said, “The animal has already killed four people in the district. We will kill that tiger if you (forest department) cannot.”
Responding to this, Arvind Limbavali, Karnataka’s minister for forests, Kannada and culture departments, said that the forest department is putting in all possible effort to stop the predator. “I have given instructions to forest department officials on Monday itself to shoot the animal,” Limbavali said during the ‘Zero Hour’ in the Assembly.
The unique Kodava tradition of ‘Nari Mangala’
When KG Bopaiah talked about ‘killing and marrying the tiger’, he was referring to ‘Nari Mangala’, a tradition of the Kodava community from the Kodagu region. In Kodava language, ‘Nari’ means tiger and ‘Mangala’ refers to wedding. ‘Nari Mangala’ is an age-old, unique custom according to which the hunter of a tiger is wedded to the soul of the animal.
Speaking to indianexpess.com, Kodava Sahitya Academy former president Bacharaniyanada Appanna said, “The ‘Nari Mangala’ custom was stopped long ago after strict rules were laid down to ensure animals are not hunted. When we had monarchy, and even during the British colonial period, this tradition was popular in the Kodava community.”
Appanna added, “According to this tradition, every time a tiger was hunted down and killed, the villagers would in a procession carry the carcass of the animal to ‘Mandu’, a place in every village in Kodagu where celebrations took place. The man who first shot the tiger and the one who first touched its tail were treated like heroes. The king used to reward these men with silver bangles.”
This used to be a very special occasion among the warrior community of Kodava, Appanna said. The occasion of ‘Nari Mangala’ used to end with a Kodava dance around the carcass of the tiger. Rituals were held to honour the man who killed the tiger. The night would end with singing and gala feasting.
Kodagu is now known for man-animal conflict
Kodagu, the hilly district on the Western Ghat, has been in news in recent years due to repeated instances of man-animal conflict, which have been a cause of concern for and caused untold suffering to the local residents.
Apart from tiger attacks, many of which have been very serious in nature in the South Kodagu region in the last few years, conflicts between humans and elephants are very frequent as well.
Local residents have said that at least 16 animals have been killed by the tiger on the prowl in the last few days. There have also been strong protests — Kodagu Rakshana Vedike and various other organisations have been leading the agitation — with people saying that the forest department has “failed” to control the escalating number of man-animal conflicts.
Kodagu Rakshana Vedike president Pavan Pemmaiah told indianexpress.com, “If the forest department had captured the tiger in February itself, the situation would not have come to this. Now those working in coffee plantations in South Kodagu are frightened for their lives. No step has been taken by the forest department or legislators to control man-animal conflict.”
Forest officials said the tiger might have strayed out of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in the district.
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