The abandoned tribes and the abuses- Kunde Habba

I had always wanted to witness this celebration but had been quite apprehensive about facing the wrath of the abuses that would follow with the joy of celebration.. And moreover, this festival happens in the southern part of Kodagu district and I always got to know about the celebration of this festival only after it was over!

But some wild wishes and what one truly seeks, do come true. This time my encounter was unplanned and I’m glad it happened.. I got to witness the unique celebration in Kodagu district, of a festival called “Kunde Namme” a.k.a. Kunde Habba or the “Festival of abuses”.

The tribes belonging to the Jenu-kurubas, Betta-Kurubas, Yeravas, Paniyas, Kembetti and other sects all congregate in a common place- usually a town area to celebrate their festival of abuses and to make merry. By abuse- I mean abuse God, man, machine and everything that they come across on that day. This is a tradition that has passed on through generations among these tribes.

Kunde Namme- The masked men
Kunde Namme- The masked men

Legend has it that the main deity Aiyyappa had taken the tribe into a thick jungle for hunting. Deep in the jungle, he fell in love with Bhadrakali and eloped with her leaving his followers abandoned. Since then, the day is observed every year where these tribes abuse their god for betraying them. They find god in everything and every person they come across and hence abuse them in turn.

The tribal folk, mostly men are togged in weird clothes. Many take to cross-dressing, some dress like ghosts, some like witches and some dress up in costumes that are just random and as weird as possible.

They block every man(folk who belong to communities outside the above mentioned tribes) on roads, barge into shops in the town and demand money. If their demands are not met, then profound abuses are hurled at them. But one must not assume that they can escape from the wrath of the abuses by simply meeting their demands- they still get abused..!! Remember, no god will come to your rescue on that day as he himself is in being abused 😀

Kunde Namme- Dressed up men all set to charge into a shop
Kunde Namme- Dressed up men all set to charge into a shop

Also, most of the members of this group belong to the labour class who work in estates, domestic helps etc. Hence, the day doubles as a good opportunity for them to vent out all the frustration on their masters..!!

Kunde Namme- The band set guys
Kunde Namme- The band set guys

But, by the end of the day, they all congregate in their common place of worship and surrender to their god, plead for his mercy and ask for his blessings for the rest of the year. A portion of the total money collected by them on that day is religiously offered to the deity and the remaining is used for a lavish community dinner.

This festival happens on the 4th Thursday in the month of May and is celebrated in and around Gonikoppal considering its proximity to the Nagarhole National Park where most of these tribes are based.


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