KUNTI WORSHIP (KONTI POOJE)

            Konti Pooje(ಕೊಂತಿ ಪೂಜೆ) is a folk ritual related to fertility rites. ‘Konti’ is the dialectical usage to denote Kunti, the mother of Pandava princes. This ritual is practiced extensively in the Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagara districts of South Karnataka. This worship takes place occasionallly even in the districts of Shivamogga, Tumkur and Bangalore Rural districts. This is confined to the communities of gangaDikAra okkaliga, golla, besta, uppAra, kunchiTiga, kumbAra and AdikarnATaka communities. This ritual is performed by unmarried girls and women without children. The ritual commences in the month of kArtIka, fifteen days before the full moon day. (huNNime)  In some places it takes place through the month. Kunti is idolised as an ideal mother and a dutiful wife. Consequently worshipping her is deemed to be auspicious. Various stages of her life from childhood to marriage are enacted during the ritual. A symbolic relation exists between Konti Pooje and the initiation rites when a girl attains puberty, as also the rites performed during nuptials.   

            This is a simple ritual, wherein the women gather in the front yard of their home after the daily chores are over. The front yard is thoroughly washed and cleaned with cow dung. An enclosure in the shape of a horse shoe, (inverted U) at a distance of about 30 feet from the western wall of the house is constructed either with clay or cow dung. This represents the hut in which Kunti is worshipped. 

Usually Konti is a beautiful icon made of clay, soap stone or teak wood. Some times a make shift spherical stone is assigned the role of Kunti. This icon is duly worshipped with auspicious material such as flowers, turmeric, vermillon (kunkuma) etc. Songs which are called ‘konti pada’ are sung through out the ritual.

            ‘konti pada’s have the life of Kunti right up to her wedding as their thematic material. However, the composers have managed to give the broad out lines of the entire Mahabharata story during the recitation. The women divide themselves in to two groups. The first group presents the songs and the second is confined to a rendering of the chorus lines. (pallavi) The language and the details used by the rural women singers suggest a tragic vision of their own sorrows and sufferings in the back drop of Kunti’s travails. Kunti strikes a sympathetic cord in the hearts of every rural woman. The settings are essentially rural and this metamorphosis is very crucial for the purposes of communication.

            On the last day of the ritual, huge idols of Kunti and Pandu are made and they are carried in a procession to a field out side the village by two boys decked as a man and a woman. The idols are worshipped once again and then left in the field. This concludes the ritual for that year.

            D. Lingayya (1967) and Kyathanahalli Ramanna have written monographs on ‘Konti pooje’. 

 

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