By Team Mangalorean - Mangalore
Mangalore April 18: The legend of Koti-Channiah has never failed to enthrall the people of Dakshina Kannada it did with the last three generations with its powerful portrayal of two youngsters' struggle against tyranny and oppression in an age when there was no elected governments or rule of law that can be trumpeted about. The legend of Koti Channiah though is now re-reeled twice on the silver screen and is out of circulation the images linger in the minds of people of the district.
Even today when the Tuluvas who are demanding a separate state for the Tulu people they feel that Mangalore and Dakshina Kannada have been not been given its full compliment of resources by the state government. They feel that Koti Chenniah should be re-born to lead the struggle again- this time not against tyranny and oppression but neglect and mismanagement.
Legendary heroes of Tulu Nadu, Koti and Channiah in Yakshagana attire
The struggle of two backward community (Billava community) youth Koti Chenniah against oppression and tyranny twins who were brought up by upper caste Hindus find out during their youth that the social discrimination had been eating into their community and they revolt against the social system that prevailed in their time. But tyrannical elements win in the end by killing one of the brothers Koti by deceit, not able to withstand the grief the second brother Chenniah also dies. They later emerge as 'Daivas' (spirits) and are worshipped by the Billavas in three districts at 'Garodys'- special shrines dedicated to Koti Chenniah.
The legend of Koti Channiah still moves the people in the three districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasargod. Folk Scholars like Prof. Vivek Rai (presently the Vice Chancellor of Kannada University Hampi and Dr. Vaman Nandavar who has written his doctorate thesis on the legend of Koti Chenniah have kept the legend alive even in the modern world. Koti Chenniah have their appeal among all age groups. They were known to be having tremendous physical strength as well as being handsome figures. Their social concern which makes them revolt against the caste discrimination has made them the first warriors for social justice. This combined with their personality and their strength elevates them to the level of folk heroes says Dr. Nandavar.
D H Balakrishna (Koti), Vinaya Prasad (Kinnidaru) and Shekar Kotian (Chennaiah) in the film Koti Chennaiah.
Nordic scholar of folklore late Dr. Lauri Honko from Finland who documented the 'Siri Paddanas' well remembered to have paid a special tributes of Koti Chenniah stating 'Koti Channiah legend is unparalleled in the world. Their valour and concern for the socially oppressed backward communities was extraordinary. Lauri Honko and his wife Aneli Honko created the 'Siri Pardhanas' rendered by Machar Gopal Naika in 1990. This work is known to be only four lines shorter than Homer's Illads ? world's longest song. They in all sense become the true 'folk heroes' late Dr. Kushi Haridas Bhat also shared the same sentiments for Koti Chenniah so as late Jnanpith award winner Dr. K. Shivaram Karanth.