Origin of Kodava Hockey Festival
The Kodava Hockey Festival was the brainchild of Mr. Pandanda Kuttappa, a former first division Hockey referee in Karnataka. Aware of the passion for Hockey in Kodagu, Kuttapa reasoned that organising an annual hockey festival would be a great idea to bring all the Kodava families together. Another reason behind his choosing hockey as the main theme of the festival was to further facilitate the upbringing of the junior hockey players of Kodagu. 60 families participated in the first edition of the festival. Mr. Kuttappa also framed some rules for the tournament.
After successfully organising the inaugural tournament, an academy named 'The Kodava Hockey Academy' was established to govern all activities related to the tournament. The Kodava Hockey Festival gained popularity year by year. It saw the participation of highest number of 280 teams in the Kaliyanda Cup, held at Napoklu in 2003. The maximum number of women players participated in the Cheppudira Cup, which was organised at Ponnampet in 2000. 30 women took part in the tournament. The winners and runner-ups of the tournament are presented cash prizes, along with traditional Kodava ornaments like Thodang, Pommale, Thookbolcha, Kuthibolcha, etc. The man of the series also receives a special prize.
Features of Kodava Hockey Festival
The principal rule of the Kodava Hockey festival is that all the members of a team must belong to the same family (surname) and participate in full hockey attire. The women members of a family were also allowed to be a part of the team.
Each year, the Kodava Hockey Festival is organised by different families and the tournament is named after the organising family. The organising family is responsible for arranging the finances and infrastructure needed for the festival and the cost is recovered from the sponsors and raffle tickets. Apart from the organising family, the other families participating in the tournament also bear a part of the cost, depending on their capacity. The inaugural edition of the festival was named as Pandanda Cup, after the organisers, Pandanda family.
Apart from organising the hockey tournament, the Kodava Hockey Festival is also quite famous for its extraordinary opening and closing ceremonies. A special guest inaugurates the tournament by doing a pass-back of the hockey ball using a silver hockey stick. In the opening and closing ceremonies, the Kodavas demonstrate various forms of dances and martial arts and entertain the spectators. The festival also boosts the economy of the area by large, as several people setup stalls for business purposes around the venue. The festival attracts many tourists as well, who come and enjoy the excitement of the matches.
The Kodava Hockey Festival has played an important role in the total development of Indian hockey in the recent years. The Kodavas have so far presented several extremely talented hockey players to the country. These players have represented India with distinction in various international tournaments, including the Olympic Games. More than 50 Kodavas have so far played for India, including 7 Olympians. Some of the most notable amongst them are B P Govinda, M P Ganesh, M M Somaiya, C S Poonacha and Arjun Halappa.
A table consisting information on the Kodava Hockey Festival is given below