Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It is with a tinge of sadness some of us read the news in Kannada daily Udayavani, a couple of days back, about the collapse of the ancient Badettu House and saw the photographs of a bewildered couple (Cheeya and Rema) standing among the ruins with a fore lorn look. I was informed about it by Radhu who is at Paniyur after reading the news item. Later I contacted Vedavyas who confirmed about the same as reliable news. A larger question that begs for an answer is whether this even signifies the end of the word Badettu once for all as the present owners of the property are reported to have indicated that they do not want to do any thing to restore the building into a habitable living place.

History may not pardon those who had the responsibility cast on them to protect the place in spite of knowing pretty well that this heritage building was in danger of falling apart for want of urgent repairs. Though there are well to do members in the umbrella family of Badettu Narnappaya, every body was helpless because none had the right to touch the building because of legal consequences. Only owners have the right to do any thing with the approval of the local authorities unless necessary power of attorney is given to a particular person on whom they have confidence. Now that the hallowed Badettil is no more, have we not lost our identity once for all and does any one have the right to use the name Badettu family any more? Probably no!

I am reminded of a similar case in Padubidri, that of Kande family to which my late mother belonged. After neglecting the dilapidated building, situated hardly a few meters away from Badettil, all its male descendants except one are not living at present. For a donkey number of years it was lying vacant, with no one in that family even visiting the place. One fine day it collapsed and now what remains is a mound of debris. This family lost all the land during nineteen sixties to the tillers under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act and even the compensation due was lying with the government for decades as no claimants came forward for the same! It was only recently that the last surviving second generation member and a nephew bribed through the bureaucratic system to receive a small amount, symbolizing the end of Kande family! I always wondered what happened to all the traditions, Naga bhanas, deities and other paraphernalia there which are part and parcel of every Brahmin family in Dakshina Karnraka! To day almost all the male descendants of Kande family  are non-discript people with nothing to boast of!  Could it be due to the curse of the family Devaru and other celestial spirits present there during the glorious yester year? I do not know and shudder even to think about it.

What will be the consequences of the collapse of Badettil? One vital difference between Kande House and Badettu house is that the former was never partitioned and all the descendants were the equal owners where as Badettil was gifted to Ananthrama Chikkappa as a part of the partitioning deal made by late Narnappaya.  Of course being experienced as they are in dealing with local customs and traditions, the inheritors of Ananthrama Chikkappa can be expected to do whatever is necessary to propitiate the diving spirits associated with that heritage place. In the past when the Naga bhana was to be renovated or the Bhootha Gudi had to be rebuilt many members of Badettu family as a whole did pitch in with their donations liberally. But now that there is no place like Badettil any more the identity of all members is likely to be lost for ever!

During my last few visits to Badettil, I was impressed by the dedication with which the occupants of Badettil were observing all the traditions including pooja in the Naga bhana, the Bhoothas and the house deity. Since the old portion of the building built with mud had collapsed, it might have affected the pooja room also. It is hoped that the deities are properly taken care of by shifting them to the 'Padsale" portion which was constructed relatively recently. It is God's blessings that no grievous injury has been caused though the place is no more habitable due to serious structural damage caused by incessant rains prevailing in that place for the last few days. One can understand the dilemma of Cheeya and Rema as they can neither leave the place nor live there. I am sure they will find a suitable living place nearby. Let us wish them good luck.

Is it not surprising that except for late Govinda Rao of BTH, Kochi no person choose to prefix "Bedettu"before his name and with the demise of Badettu Govinda Rao a couple of years ago that chapter is also closed. I suppose all that remains now is a restaurant in the name of Badettu in Kochi under BTH group as a proof of existence of Badettu family! With only Lakshmi Chikki being the only linkage we have now with Badettu family name, let us all worship her as our Goddess as long as we are blessed with. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Lot has been written about the glory and reputation of Brahmasthana, Badettu Narnappaya's pre-eminence there during his hay days and the importance of Thambila and Dakkebali for those born and brought up in the Padubidri village. While some believe that this venerable worshiping place is unique and unparalleled with the Vanadurga avatar here being very powerful, there are many who are not that much convinced about the place and its holiness. Only those who participate in Thambila and Dakkebali will get an idea about the sanctity of this worshiping place after witnessing the performance of Pathiris which at the least is a superhuman phenomenon. Otherwise how any one can explain the "running and jumping" of a person aged above eighty years under the trance when he performs as a Pathiri during Dakkebali?

Badettu family is indeed blessed by Brahmer Amma, as she is popularly known in the local area as seven hundred and odd members of this family scattered all over the world are living a good life with minimum hassles and no major mishaps. Of course we may have instances of unhappiness here and there but life is after all a blend of happiness and misery. If happiness is much more than misery we should consider ourselves blessed. Though Badettu family did not prosper in business ventures as one would expect, God has enabled many of the younger generation to get educated and becoming some body in life. Of course some may feel that it is all because of their brilliance, intelligence and hard work but fact still remains that without God's grace nothing is possible. Thank our Gods for our relatively hassle free lives. 

There has been one peculiar trait in our family about which I always felt puzzled and that is whether our "hiriyaru" really loved us? This is because most of us never had the luxury of hearing a single good word from our parents or showing affection openly and in stead they seemed to be always critical and frowning on us. Even good academic achievements are never publicly lauded. Compare this with present day kids. The parents are always crooning over them showering goodies whether they ask for them or not, spending sleepless nights to coach them during examination season, fighting with teachers and the schools management for giving special attention to their wards and many other things which would be blasphemy for out parents during our school days. Looking back we have to realize that it is not that they were not loving us but they were not knowing how to express their feelings plus some ego! According to Dr P Vedasvyasa Rao, the present "Pithamaha" of Badettu family even our venerable Ajja, Narnappaya had great concern for his grand children as illustrated by the following note he gave to me recently. Same is described in his words below.

"Along with Ajja, Seena, I once attended the night Thambila at Brahmasthana. The Thambila started at 10 pm and was over by midnight at at 12. We returned home and sat for dinner. Generally Seena, aged about 11 years at that time, was an addict of drinking water during food time and it was noticed that there was silence as no demand was being done for water. It seemed some one asked why Seena was silent and not asking for water without realizing that Seena was not there in the house! It was then realized that Seena did not return from Brahmasthana along with us and every one was shocked, becoming literally panicky, the most visibly shaken being Ajja himself. No body could make out why he did not return after the function was over along with us. All of us got immensely scared thinking about the consequences and were silent, almost reaching the breaking point. Ajja, immediately got up after finishing his food in one great gulp, asked me to accompany him with a lantern and literally ran to Brahmasthana . Great silence and a sense of panic only accompanied us as no one dared to talk out of fear of the worst that could have happened. When we reached the place there was complete darkness except for a couple of flickering wig lights that were lighted during Thambila function, almost on the point of extinguishing. Lo!, to our great solace and release of the suppressed grief, Seena was fast asleep  on the flat top of the rock on the northern side of the sandy quadrangle where Thambila was performed. Curiously he was not alone as a dog was also found to be giving company to him lying nearby! Once we approached the place the dog disappeared among the dark interiors of Brahmasthana, never seen there after by any one in the locality. Seena was woken up and Ajja was seen releasing a long sigh, a sign of relief to the stress and agony he was experiencing at that point of time. He was immensely joyful after returning home and shared the same with others. What can one make out of this episode? Every one felt that it was a miracle that Seena was saved and any thing could have happened if he was left there for some more time because of many nocturnal creatures inhabiting the wooded place. We believe that Devi Khadgeswari , our Brahmer Amma herself in the form of a dog was guarding Seena while he was in deep slumber. What ever it is this incident clearly indicates that Badettu Family is greatly blessed by Brahmasthana and if we believe and pray Her, She would always protect us" 

Since Vedavyas was an eye witness to the above episode there is no reason for us to doubt the veracity of the narration. This is not a folklore passed on from generation to generation but a real life happening witnessed by some of the members of the then Badettu family. Prompt action by Ajja, his presence of mind, love for his grandson and confidence in Brahmeru are evident from what Vedavyas has narrated and I am sure Seena and his family will remember this episode as an act of the Goddess. The present care taking of the Badettu house and maintaining all the traditions started by Ajja by Seena and his brothers are indeed a tribute to the sagacity and greatness of Badettu Narnappaya!   

Answer to the last Quiz  

Sethuram was the son of Kollam Vasudeva, Jayaram was the son of Kande Krishnanna, brother-in-law of Vasudeva and Raghuram was the son of the sister of Badettu Narnappaya. Two cousins and an uncle!  

Quiz for the current issue

How many members are in the Badettu family with names starting with the alphabet "A"? Name them.      


Wednesday, May 29, 2013


The story of Badettu family will not be complete without focusing on one of the mildest personalities borne into this family, the late Ananthrama . He was the twin brother of Kollam Padmanabha and it was amazing that these brothers showed a temperament and disposition remarkably similar to each other. He was famously called "Ginda" though I do not know why he was being referred to by the above common name. For a while I thought Ginda might be referring to his plumb and short physique but this could not be the reason because his twin brother was also equally plumb. Now I realize that he was called Ginda because he always drank tea from a "Gindi" a large utensil as he wanted large quantity of tea whenever he wished to have tea! May be I am wrong! 

Many of us do not know who is elder of the two but it is believed that Ananthrama was delivered of half an hour before Padmanabha and therefore former is the elder brother. One thing is sure, that is both were gentle human beings rarely seen in an angry mood. Interestingly Ananthrama was assigned to the Alleppey operations while Padmanabha got into Kollam business. Since his wife and family were based in Badettu House he used to shuttle between Alleppey and Padubidri. While at Alleppey he used to stay at the Hotel and his duty was linked to that of Subbraya and at any given time only one of the two would be in Alleppey. In contrast to the stern disposition of Subbraya, Ananthrama had a mild manner, never shouting at any one and even children used to like him for his somber manners. With Subbraya he was the co-owner of a property at Chananakkavu in Alleppey which was sold of when they left the town once for all after settling their business share. 

Interestingly Ananthrama married Janaki, his aunt's daughter in the Kinnitu family whose house was located near the Badettu House. This is one of the two alliances Badettu family had with families of Badettu Narnappya's sister and Badettu Radhakka's brother's family. It may be recalled that Saraswathi, wife of Gopalakrishna, the last son of Narnappaya was the daughter of the brother of Radhakka, Venkata Bhaya. Orignal family of Janaki had such illustrious connections with people like Mukkanna who was a legendary hotelier in Madras. Though both Subbraya family and Ananthrama family were staying at Badettu House for quite some time, former shifted to Karkata House at Admar later which was the ancestral home of late Paddakkaya. It was more or less understood that Ananthrama would inherit the house eventually and it was a tribute to the wisdom of Narnappaya that no inheritance problem ever cropped up after his time with all other sons cooperating in keeping the house as a heritage center for the entire family. Thanks are due to Ananthrama and his sons that they treated all their relations with kindness and good hospitality whenever they visited the place. Even to day Badettu House, though not structurally or aesthetically sound, still evokes respect and admiration for the great pioneers, Narnappaya and Radhakka.   

How remarkable it is that Anthrama's eldest son Srinvasa, popularly called Seena was able to achieve an exalted position as Professor of Chemistry in Manipal after obtaining his Master's degree from Banarese Hindu University through sheer hard work and determination. Anathrama was the father of 3 sons and 4 daughters but it was unforunate that one of his daughters, Sushhela passed away at relatively young age due serious illness.  Recently it was reported that the second daughter Mandakini also passed away about a few days ago at Pavancha. Other two surviving daughters are well settled with their families in Padubidri and Belappu near Kaup. Seena, after retiring from KMC Manipal is settled down in Chennai with his son Satish who is a senior executive in the Hyubdai Car company. His second son Ranga is presently in Kochi working as a senior executive in BTH hotel of late Govinda Chikkappaya. The third son Cheeya who worked in the Alleppey Sri Krishna Bhavan for a number of years got back to Padubidri and with his noble wife Rema is managing the property on behalf of his brothers and sisters. 

Interestingly all the fourth generation off springs in the Ananthrama house hold are settled down in life in a reasonably good way. What is amazing is that Sriram, son of Cheeya achieved the incredible in getting an engineering degree recently under trying conditions that prevailed in Badettu House during the last few years. It is a matter of pride for all of us that he is well placed professionally working for an MNC at Bangalore. He along with Satish, son of Seena are the two engineers in Ananthrama family. Seen'a daughter is also an engineer working in Mumbai as a faculty member in one of the engineering colleges there. 

Many may be wondering as to how Seena, the eldest in this family is able to fulfill all the responsibilities inherited by him in looking after the Naga Bhana, Bhootha Gudi, commitments to Padubidri temple and other related customary practices passed on from Narnappaya. He does visit Padubidri regularly to carry out all the duties cast on him including conducting poojas and other functions which were part and parcel of Badettu family traditions. Even to day the three brothers serve panaka to hundreds of devotees during the annual Chariot Festival in Padubidri Mahalingeshwara temple in the month of March, a practice started by Narnappaya decades ago! They have also made arrangements for conducting regular pooja inside the house as well as at the Bhana daily without fail whenever all of them are out of town.  It is hoped that Seena and his brothers will be able to restore Badettu House to its old glory and every member of Badettu family will have opportunity to visit, stay and experience the thrill of being close to the souls of all their ancestors regularly. 

Answer to the last Quiz

The only surviving second generation member in Badettu family is KollamLakshmi Chikki who is approaching 90 now and enjoying good health for her age. She is now in Udupi visiting Kicha for about three months and I had the previlege of speaking to her just yesterday. Let us all pray that she outlives all her contemporaries and cross the hundred year mark without much hiccup.

Quiz for the present Blog

What is the connection between the three Rams-Sethuram, Jayaram and Raghuram? What is their relationship?            

Flash News

I feel terribly depressed to recall the sad demise of Mandakini, second daughter of Anantrama Chikkappa, recently, a few days ago at Pavancha, near Padubidri. It was a terrible shock as I met her on April 28 2013 when she came to participate in the obsequies function of lete Paddakkaya at Raghavendra Muth in Uchila. She was looking perfectly normal and healthy and cheerfully invited me to visit her home at Pavancha. Very sad indeed. Let us pray for her soul to rest in peace.

Monday, May 6, 2013


The oldest of the bahu ranis of Badettu Narnappaya who was a beacon to all of us so far, Paddakkaya passed away on April 17 2013 at 4.40 pm at her Admar residence peacefully without suffering too much though she was aged 96 years. It is a tragedy of great dimension and she belied all our hopes of completing the much coveted century as fate had willed otherwise. This is the second disappointment for many of us after the earlier demise of Narnappaya himself who missed the century mark by a few months. To some extent Narnappaya's death was brought upon by his stubborn insistence to come to Padubidri from Alleppey where he enjoyed a healthy life. This is not to blame those who looked after him at Badettil after his return to Padubidri but to lament about the situation brought about by his return to a place where medical access was rather limited and time consuming. But the wishes of senior people especially during their old age cannot be denied and no one can blame any body for this fateful event.

Paddakkaya's situation was also same as she was weak, especially during the last 5-6 years with some pain on her knees making her mobility some what restricted. Similarly her stubborn reluctance to move to Alleppey where living conditions are some what better and medical facilities are reasonable might be one of the reasons for her health deteriorating fast ending up with her demise eventually. Here again no one can be blamed for this situation because being a very senior elderly person it is difficult not to succumb to her wishes and force her to do what she did not want to do. All said and done, it cannot be denied that she enjoyed her life at Admar with her son Raghupathy and daughter - in- law Madhavi providing her succor and relief during her stay there. Besides she had all her daughters, living nearby visiting her frequently while her two sons from Alleppey frequented the Karkate Mane at Admar as often as possible. What more a mother wants but to see her children and grandchildren as often as possible! 

She was cremated near the house itself and this is a small luxury we living in towns and cities cannot hope for after our death. What a comfortable feeling for all those living as well visiting the Karkade Mane will have when they can feel her presence there reminding all of them about the indomitable spirit and fighting qualities she embodied during her life time. It was on March 22 this year I had the unique privilege of seeing her personally with Radhu during my visit to Udupi for the Brahmarathothsava and Chandika Homa. It never occurred to me that she would be no more in less than a month! Also I talked to her on the Ugadi day on April 14, just 3 days before her demise for seeking her blessings. Though she was some what incoherent at that time but still cheerful enough after walking to the hall from her room crossing a high threshold door. It is indeed a personal loss to me because I have lost an icon whom I could always depend on for advice when I needed about Badettu family.

One of the remarkable things about the obsequies functions organized by her children is the meticulous way they were planned for 4 days beginning April 26 with Dharmodhaka and ending on April 29 with Vaikunta Samaradhane at the Uchila Raghavendra Swamy Muth. No efforts were spared by her children to make these functions as religious as possible and it is a tribute to their sagacity and perseverance that they stayed in the Muth for almost a week under conditions that cannot be considered satisfactory for urban folks like us! It is to be noted that Vedavyas and Vittal are in their seventies while others were late fifties and sixties! While about 50 close relatives participated during the first two days, more than 200 people, all well known to Padakkaya during her long innings on earth, took the trouble of coming to Uchila from different parts of the country. I, along with Govinda, Mohana and Kicha were fortunate enough to attend all the four days' functions. Padakkaya would must have been a happy soul to see 25 cousins belonging to 3rd generation who were present for seeking her blessings during one or the other day of the obsequies. Remarkably almost 90% of her own family branch spread over third, fourth and fifth generations were there to pray for her soul. 

What struck me as unique was that in no single function in the past, 25 cousins gathered at a place like this and in a way she was instrumental in making this happen between 26 and 29 April. It was in June 2005 that another iconic daughter in law of Narnappaya, Kaveri passed away in Alleppey. The 3rd generation members who participated include Bangaru (Vasudeva lineage), Vedavyas, Vittal, Raghupathy, Chummi, Sunitha, Radha (Subraya lineage), Vishala, Sunanda, Harihara, Jagadisha, Nataraja, Radhu, Giridhar, Vicha and Nandini (Venkatraya lineage), Seena, Ranga, Cheeya and Mandakini (Anantrama lineage), Govinda, Mohana and Kicha (Padmanabha lineage), Chetha and Appukutta (Gopalakrishna lineage). I am sure others also would have attended but for some personal inconveniences.   

My visit to Udupi also took me to Chummi's house at Bailoor where Mr Sripathi Rao, her husband is recuperating from some ailment. To my knowledge he is one of the most honest, brightest and brilliant son-in-laws in Badettu family who retired as IT commissioner in Bangalore a few years ago. A person of high integrity, in spite of the fact that this department is ridden with corruption he was standing tall         
as one of the gems in that department being a friend of honest tax payers and a threat to others who indulge in tax suppression and evasion. It was interesting to see him in high spirits watching the traditional "Atta" performance on the TV with rapt attention following every move of the actors. May God bless him with long long life.

Answer to the last Quiz

Atulya is a PUC student, daughter of Sarada (daughter of Gopalakrishna of Kollam and wife of Mr Sahadevan at Kollam) is an accomplished dancer with national credentials. She gained early recognition from her peers in this art and every Badettuan should be proud of her, being the only practicing dancer. Badettu Narnappaya would have been happy to see one of his fourth generation descendants making a mark in an unchartered field like dancing. 

Quiz for the current issue

Who is the only surviving second generation member of Badettu family? 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Childhood follies and pranks can be very amusing when one recollects the same after decades of aging. It is rightly said that living with children, especially aged between  1 and 5 years can be quite exciting provided one is willing to be alert 24 hours a day to protect them from grievous injuries. The thrills and pains of rearing kids are fully comprehended by people when they grow enough to become grand parents. Some of the information I am sharing here in this Blog piece pertains to my own stupid childhood which I can recall with nostalgia.

I was supposed to be a non-serious kid during my early childhood with practically no interest in learning. My father, to me at that time was a "tyrant" though it took almost 5 decades for me to fully appreciate his noble intentions. Serious schooling was indeed a heart breaking effort and any excuse was good enough to skulk the classes. Realizing that I would not become some body in life about which parents could be proud of, father invariably threatened me with stopping the schooling and taking me to the hotel for grinding batter for idli, vada and dosa! It was in this context the idea of tuition was thought about and I had to be restrained every day in the evening for "coaching" by the tutor. Though there were good text books which I was supposed to read, lazy as I am it never occurred to me that reading is necessary at all. Every day the tutor would give a small home work and one day he asked me to read some thing about Indian history. Next day he asked me a question which I thought very simple viz who rules the world? Without battling an eye lid I answered that our Moopathi ( the servant maid) who comes every morning and sweeps the front of the house is the one who rules the world! Probably I got mixed up between ruling and sweeping prompting me to shoot the answer. Though it provoked laughter at that time, my coaching sessions became more and more rigorous as a result of the stupid answer.

Being a kid of boundless energy playing when not sleeping was the main avocation. During the early childhood during one of my tree climbing activities I fell down inflicting a deep wound on my forehead which after healing created a permanent scar. What is interesting was not getting wounded but my subsequent action in stuffing the deep wound with sand to hide from the parents and getting into the bed without telling any one. It was only later that they discovered that I had a wound with oozing blood for which necessary medical treatment was given. In one way it was a lucky incident because for almost 70 years my permanent identification mark has been this scar!

Growing in a house surrounded by schools of all colors and hues probably would inculcate among the children some interest in studying. Alas that was the last thing in my mind. Playing games like Vattu Kali, Andi Kali, Kuttiyum Koum, Chati Kutu with friends was the top priority. The big compound of S D V school in front of our home at Alleppey was a great place for playing all sorts of games with a fulfledged foot ball ground. Though there was a gate which invariably was locked most of the time our usual route is climbing over the wall and jumbing down about 5 feet to gather near the trees for spending the time in exciting local games. One of my friends used to help me in Andi Kali which uses raw unshelled cashewnuts as the main playing material and every one playing this game required a master Cashewnut ( known locally as Vakkan) of big size with which the scoring has to be done. After throwing the nuts into a small hole on the ground some 5 ft away, the player has to take aim at the particular one shown by his opponent and if it is hit all the nuts can be taken by the winner. The Master nut is some time prepared specially by replacing the kernel inside with lead to make it heavy and for hitting the nut precisely. My friend must have supplied me at least about about two dozen such master nuts for which I had to shell out heavily! Some times this game is played with tamarind fruit seed also. Vattu kali is played using glass marbles which are used to hit the opponents marble using deft fingers!

One of the amusing incidents I still remember was the visit of Pangal Seshagiri Rao to Alleppey to see my sister Vishala as a prospective bride. The old house at Thondankulangara could be accessed during rainy season only through a small channel overflowing with water and the bridegroom's party coming all the way from Madras had to wade through about 2 ft deep water before arriving at the house. After entering the house Dr Seshagiri Rao leaned on one of the wooden pillars in the main hall and it was a terrible sight to see the pillar getting loosened from its fittings ending up in his hands! It was a miracle, in spite of such a welcome, he was bowled over by the "girl" agreeing to marry her. Rest is history! This marriage gave me an opportunity to visit Madras where the wedding was organized. Being totally ignorant of Kannada language, speaking as well as writing, going to the house of Pangal Sreenivasa Rao (father of Dr Seshagiri Rao) was a nightmare but eventually picked up little bit of conversational Kannada. Is it not surprising that to day Tulu appears to be the language even Kannada speaking people want to talk and providentially picking up Tulu from us has helped our Bhava to settle comfortably in Paniyur and the Kannada I picked up from his family during my many visits helped me to settle down in Mysore! The well maintained Fiat car of our Bhava was some thing we all yearned to get in as he was the first one among our relations to own a car! To day those who do not own a car in Badettu family are very few! Pangal Vadiraja Rao, a renowned physician, Pangal Krishna Rao, a reputed veterinary surgeon, late Pangal Govinda Rao, a senior bank official and their spouses are extra ordinary people, with impeccable credentials. My frequent visits to Kombattu Vittal Rao, another remarkable personality who married my second sister Sunanda can be the subject matter of another story for another time!

Coming back to my school days, it was with great pride I took my slate after one of my examinations with the marks scored by me to father imagining that I did very well. I was shocked when I got a spanking in stead of appreciation! It turned out that my teacher wrote down my single digit marks, 5 out of 100 in bold, spreading the whole slate which I thought was very good! This trend continued till the SSLC though I never was retained in any class during my school days. My friends used to tease me saying that I got pass because I supplied the teachers with Vada from our hotel during examination time! It was only after the arrival of Seena, my cousin from Padubidri with whom I went to S D College for 4 years I got the competitive spirit in learning and I was not far behind him in studies there after. Probably my 63% marks in B.Sc as against 65% for Seena was indeed notable considering my previous track record. In a twist of fate, Seena ended up in Banarese Hindu University doing his M.Sc while I, after failing to get admission there, served as a demonstrator in S D College for one year. As luck would have it I got admission in Department of Chemical Technology, Mantunga, Bombay for B.Sc (Tech) in foods, eventually obtaining my Ph.D in the same subject. Seena probably should get some credit for what I am to day while late Jayaram Bhaya was my mentor while in Bombay.

My poori loving days are interesting indeed but cannot be described here for want of space. While I loved poori-masala, Vedavyas was a masala dosa worshipper and my father was a vada loving person their dedication to their chosen food items being almost fanatic! Hearing about my love for 'eacha mithai" (fly sweet, so called because of the flies swarming the container), my pretha fear, "cheating" the Jayalakshmi annachi, taking regularly changes from my father's shirt pocket or the hotel cash for meeting my daily "obligations", fight with mother for avoiding eating "Kanji", "Gulla Bajji", "Padippe Mudde", my near drowning in Mullakkal pond, my RSS DAYS etc are some thing on which I must write one day!

Answer to the last Quiz (B-1034)

Alleppey Venkatraya ( my father) might probably the only person belonging to second generation who traveled all over the country including Srinagar, Haridwar, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Varanasi, Budda Gaya, Konarak Temple, Kolkatta, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Rameshwaram in 1986 accompanied by me to fulfill one of his wishes. At the age of 78 he showed better grittiness, courage and stamina than me, 32 years younger to him!

Quiz for the current issue of the Blog

Has any one heard of a name Athulya who is a fourth generation descendant of Badettu family who is a highly accomplished dancer with no one to rival her? Look for further info about her in the next issue.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Some youngsters to day seem to have very low opinion about the institution of marriage, considered sacred by out forefathers. Probably they may have their own logical reasons to view marriages as being organized during early days, which were formal, ritualistic and practicing caste rigidity, as impractical and unacceptable. It pains many old generation and old fashioned people like me to see the sacredness of marriage being progressively diluted due to many reasons, some stupid and others valid. Unfortunately our seers have not moved with time and are slow to respond to modern developments and highly interactive nature of society to day. It is no wonder that the new generation descendants are asking inconvenient questions to which we have no logical answers to provide!. Modern education has instilled a sense of self respect and empowerment to women which were denied to them for centuries. We respect and worship Goddess Durga but consider our own women folks as subservient to the interests of the dominant males! Wailing about shortage of brides does not carry us any where and this is the time for deep introspection for self correction and change our society into an equitable one with mutual accommodation and appreciation, irrespective of gender. The guiding principle in life should be that "bow before knowledge and prostrate before a person if he or she is more knowledgeable than you". I am reproducing below an incisive article which appeared recently which is very relevant to most nucleus families to day.  

"N Gopal Rao, headmaster of the Vivekananda High School in Sullia, Karnataka, has an interesting hobby. He loves scanning the matrimonial advertisements in newspapers. Sometime ago, he got intrigued by an ad in Vijaya Karnataka. It was inserted by a Bangalore-based Brahmin photographer looking for a bride. As the ad started reappearing regularly, Rao continued to keep a tab on it. It's been two years now, but the search is still on. Across Karnataka, lower middle-class Brahmins in traditional occupations like cooking and farming arefinding it difficult to get a bride. The prospective brides, who are mostly well-educated, prefer upwardly-mobile bridegrooms with modern education, urban lifestyle and high income. The boys have now started looking beyond the borders of Karnataka, sometimes as far as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir, in search of brides".

"M.G. Sathyanarayana, director of the Kashyap Seva Kendra, a Brahmin organisation, is spearheading the campaign of finding brides from north India. He hit upon the idea in 2007, after a visit to Rohtak, Haryana, where he had met several Kashmiri Pandits. The National Capital Region is home to more than 1,00,000 displaced Kashmiri Brahmins. Though he approached the Pandit leaders with the profiles of nearly 20 Kannada bridegrooms, Sathyanarayana was asked to wait till January 2013. But, in February 2012, hundreds of Pandits returned to Kashmir, after the government promised that their assets and properties would be returned. The government also offered them financial assistance for acquiring a house, free transit accommodation, a waiver of interest on loans and 15,000 jobs. But the government is yet to deliver on these promises. The fate of Sathyanarayana's bachelors now depends on whether these Pandits decide to return to Delhi or prefer to stay on in Kashmir". 

'Since the Pandits remain undecided, Sathyanarayana travelled to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in September in search of prospective brides. He also placed matrimonial ads in three regional newspapers, but received only a handful of responses. He even sent a delegation to Assam to scout for eligible girls, who were orphaned by the riots. Though the inter-regional alliances can be hampered by language barriers and differences in culture and lifestyle, Sathyanarayana argues that the north Indian families are not averse to sending their daughters to Karnataka. The relatively high standards of living and the absence of dowry are big attractions. But since this is the first time that such a social experiment is being attempted, the Kashyap Seva Kendra is taking all precautions. They are collecting the birth and medical certificates and educational records of all the girls and boys. They will also be closely monitoring the couples for the first two years of their marriage".

"There are several reasons for the scarcity of the brides. The skewed sex ratio is the primary culprit. According to the 2011 census, there are only 968 girls for every 1,000 boys in Karnataka, and this ratio is even more skewed among the Brahmins. The socio-cultural and economic norms prevalent among the Karnataka Brahmins have accentuated the crisis. "The predominant feature of the Kannada Brahmins has been their migration from rural to urban areas and their ability to turn agrarian capital into non-agrarian capital and thereby establish their dominance over the knowledge economy, be it in education, bureaucracy or law," says Ramesh Bairy, professor of sociology at IIT Bombay. "The Brahmins took up new spaces that opened up in the economy. However, a section of them, like the Havyakas, whose primary investment was in plantation cropping, decided to stay back and not partake in the modernisation wave. Concomitant to this was the education of the girl child, with the establishment of good colleges, even in the interiors." 

"Notably, the scarcity of brides is more common among four sub-castes of the Karnataka Brahmins, who trace their origins to north India: Shivalli, Havyaka, Karhade and Chitpavan. The Havyakas, for example, claim that they were brought to Karnataka around the end of the 3rd century AD from Uttar Pradesh by the efforts of the Brahmin king Mayooravarma. "If a Brahmin couple has a son and a daughter, they will make the son a priest, and educate the daughter. Because of this, girls are better educated and they demand a bridegroom with equal education," says Jitendra Bhat, a journalist from Mangalore, who has been searching for a bride for quite sometime now. Venkataramacharya, a Brahmin who has been running a marriage bureau in Udupi for three decades, says he started noticing a paucity of brides from the mid-80s. The cooks and priests might earn up to Rs. 60,000 a month, but the girls consider it demeaning to be married to them. They are also unwilling to settle in villages or stay with joint families. "Earlier, the preference was for sons, but now, Brahmin families are praying for daughters," says Venkataramacharya. "If I could do it again, I would still become a cook. But I wish Brahmin families would educate their daughters about our culture and traditions so that they would not be ashamed to be married to us," said 38-year-old Gopal Bhat from Borkatte, who now rests his hopes with the Kashyap Seva Kendra, after 
ads and brokers failed to find him a bride". 

"Some exasperated boys now seem to be amenable to the idea of seeking brides from other castes. Their only condition is that the girl should be a vegetarian. Says 37-year-old N.R. Anand, a Smartha Brahmin from Mysore, "For me, caste was never a priority while searching for a bride. But it is important for the older generation. Today, heads of mutts and priests themselves are advocating inter-caste marriage because of which there is a shift in the rigid principles of our fathers and grandfathers." Anand started searching for a bride seven years ago. He is now looking for an alliance from the Gowda community. He is encouraged by the fact that there was a precedent of inter-caste marriage in his family.  While some mutts have openly endorsed inter-caste marriages, others staunchly refuse to do so. "Brahmins have a unique culture and tradition which will be diluted by inter-caste marriages," says Shri Visvesha Theertha Swami of the Pejawar Mutt. Others like Shri Laxmivara Theertha Swami of the Shirur Mutt have adopted a milder stance: "The times are changing and we have to change with them. Maintaining purity of castes might not be feasible in the future." In his famous book The Annihilation of Caste, B.R. Ambedkar advocated inter-caste marriages for eradicating caste system from India. Today, the Karnataka Brahmins are following his advice. May be 'not by choice', but by the 'lack of it'."

Is it not an irony of history ( or mythology?) that Shivalli Brahmans who were supposed to have been brought from Ahichatra area ( now in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh) by the great Kadamba King Mayura Sharma, a Brahman himself, to purify his kingdom through brahminic rituals and worshiping practices, are now trying to reach out to the North for sustaining their Kula through marriage alliances? Whether the Ashtamuta Swamijis condescend or not there appears to be no going back on this new trend because of practical compulsions. A moot question that will remain unanswered is whether there will ever be a union of old traditions and new developments in the society which only can prevent conflict of minds which other wise can accentuate with each passing generation! Unless the Ashtamuts make a conscious effort for such a reconciliation and recalibration it is a question of time before Shivalli Brahmans become an extinct species in this planet!   

I am not sure as to how many parents in Badettu family umbrella are facing problems in finding peace and tranquility through marrying of their sons and daughters against the background of the above article. Many parents feel that their responsibility on earth is over once they make enormous sacrifice to educate and settle their sons and daughters comfortably in life and then recede to the background without being a drag on their off springs. But unlike our forefathers to day.s children have their own mind, aspirations and ideals which may be totally different from that of the parents. Best course to day is to work hard till children are well educated and self supporting before conceding them their right to do what they want. Providing advice, guidance and help can only be attempted, if they are sought. The old type perception that children are investment for future of the parents is no more valid under to day's environment and perpetuating such hopes would end up in disappointment, strained relations and frustration which can be easily avoided.

History has shown us one thing, that is the relatively stable family life most of our earlier generation people had and divorces were an unheard thing, probably due to many reasons but that is a fact. Whether one marries as per the established system of horoscope matching or by mutual family appreciation, enormous efforts have been made by the newly wedded couples to understand, adjust, forgive, forget, share the grief and happiness together and make the marriage a success. According to my limited understanding, family to family bonding is the true foundation stone for a successful marriage. I cannot imagine a life without my parents or my wife's parents to whom I invariably turned to when in distress and if I am playing the same role our parents did 5 decades ago, it is because of what I learned from them during my early periods of married life. Given an opportunity again I will do the same thing by actively seeking and listening to the elders about what they advice. 


Friday, March 8, 2013


Naming ceremony (namakarana) is an important phase of one's life and along with "seemantha" the soon-to-become mother undergoes in her husband's home form the twin events for a new family. Is it not interesting that practically every religion has the naming ceremony in one form or the other and it is often said that the "given" name becomes the standard identity for any person through out life. Naming also differentiates humans from animals though these days even domestic animals/pets are given a variety of names to which surprisingly they respond also. It is another matter that in many western countries the hospital where the child is delivered insists on an instant name for creating the necessary documents immediately after the new child is born. Legal necessity for registering new births with local bodies also calls for a name to be assigned to the child. Probably this could be one of the reasons why we see lot of new types and varieties of names are nowadays given to children, some of them difficult to even pronounce and remember.

According to the system we follow among Madhwa community, a new born child is given three names on the eleventh day or any other auspicious day decided by elders and each name given has a significance. One of the three names should be synonymous with the star when the child was born, second one synonymous with the Kuladevaru and the third one a common name by which the child is to be called through out his/her life. I doubt whether many of us remember our other two names given to us during the christening time. At least I am not aware of the same! Only recently this aspect aroused my curiosity when my last two grandchildren were to be named. Mitra and Kushi, Smita's children were christened as per Kodagu traditional practices and their names were later told to me as Mitra Poonacha Chimmanda and Kushi Kamini Chimmanda. Here the first name is the commonly called one while the second one may be as per the advice of the elders, the third being their family name. Look at to day's practices! There is no nakshathra, no kuladevaru attached to your name! 

Have you ever heard of a person by name Padubidri V Rao belonging to our family? He is none other than our present "Karanavar" of Badettu family Dr P Vedavyasa Rao! Similarly I was known to many as Venkatrao H Potty and my father must be wondering whether I was trying to usurp his name and glory! Take the case of Vittala and shockingly he is Narayanappa Vittala! Sreenivasa, son of Ananthrama chikkappa has no initial at all! BTH Govinda Rao is officially called Badettu Govinda Rao and he was so proud of Badettu family name that there is even a restaurant in Sarovar Hotel in Ernakulam by that name! Our life time name identity happens at a most critical juncture during our life time when some one escorts us, crying all over, to the much dreaded school which signifies that our "grachara" is about to start and spending happy times at home eating, playing and enjoying is about to be over! Once the admission process starts those who take us to the school invariably have no clue regarding who we are except that we are the children of such and such father and blurts out information which may or may not be accurate. 

I wonder how many among us have read the famous book by Maneka Gandhi providing hundreds of names with their meaning? I am sure many of us must have taken appealing names from her book while considering the naming of our children. A stark difference between our old system of naming and the present one is that most names given to us were those of Gods or Goddesses either singly or in combinations for which there is no shortage in Hindu religion. Other names like Kamala, Jalaja, Vanaja, Raja, Guru, Mallika, Champaka, Gulabi, Geetha, Maya, Vasanthi, Tulasi, Ganga, Yamuna, Kaveri, Sheila, Sundari etc, most of them associated with nature, are also given. Can it be that this system allows the parents to utter the names of God frequently every day without actually praying as per the custom, a painless process of earning punya!  

Have you ever thought about the "pet" names used by our family to call us? This is a very interesting area of inquisitive thinking. There are umpteen number of such names in Badettur family also. Nanu is the pet name of Narnappaya and he is better recognized by his contemporary fellow Padubidrians. Then we have names like Ginda, Gopa, Padda, Apri, Chachu, Bangaru, Nandi, Easha, Gidha, Vicha, Subba, Kicha, Seena, Cheeya, Chetha, Appukutta, Chachi and a few others commonly used. In my own family I use Gubi, Anji, Nichu, Bhavu, Palli, Appu and Ammu!  is it not terribly complicated to remember who is who? That is the essence of life! 

Among Christians, names are repeated over generations by affixing Roman numbers after the name. Also in vogue was affixing the word junior to the names of the ancestors. We also have a system of using same names by which our ancestors were known. Take for example the name Vasudeva the second generation patriarch in Badettu family. As far as we know the name of the father of Narnappaya was also Vasudeva. Similarly Venkatramana, the name of another second generation patriarch was a repetition of the name of Narnappaya's grand father! Coming to third generation, we have a Narayana in Kollam, last son of Vasudeva which is repetition of that of our great Ajja. Thinking about it those of us who regularly follow the sharda practice every year in memory of our mothers and fathers may not be realizing that this system provides us with a mechanism to remember all our ancestors at least once in an year. Is this not remarkable? It is another matter that many of us do not have correct information about all the relatives who passed away before us in whose name we have to do tharpana. Our family with over 700 members will find it increasingly difficult to name our ancestors if a conscious effort is not made collectively to perpetuate their names through accurate documentation. Who will come forward to do this, is a million dollar question! 

Coming to the practice of using our fathers' name following our given name is truly an anachronism of history because according to me the mother also deserves a mention for the trauma of conceiving and giving birth. Probably I would have preferred to be known as Hariharan Kaveri Venktraya rather rather than Venkatrao Hariharan Potty! There is a Malayalam picture by the title Baba Kalyani in which Mohanlal says that he is proud of using the name of his mother Kalyani because of his appreciation of her sacrifice. Another tradition that defies logic is why after marriage the newly wedded bride has to change her name at all. Is it not ridiculous that some mother-in-laws even rename the newly brought bride forcing her to forget her own family given name by which she was identified before marriage for the rest of her life! Why can not she retain her original name? Probably I may be ostracized for my provoking thought by many conservatives but is it not logical? This argument is all the more relevance in to day's world where both husband and wife are earning members of the family sharing their happiness and grief on equal terms. From practical point of view also one set of names through out life make it easy for retaining the identification ans satisfying all legal requirements.

Other day some one asked me why any body should have a name at all? A truly significant question because more than the name what one needs is the AADHAR number or Election Commission Card or the Ration Card to be recognized by most of the government agencies which do not do business with unless you have the necessary photo identity! Even to day in the defense forces and police community one is known and called by number! Many people do not like the names given by their parents and change them through public announcements and legal proceedings. Don't we know that Yeddyurappa and Jayalalitha who mutilated their original names by changing the spelling slightly on the advice of their astrologers! In spite of all said and done, human beings will never change the existing naming practices come what may, simply because the name recognition is still a social necessity, though it has lost much of its relevance long ago!  

Answer to the last Quiz

The one and the only popularly known LN, aka L N Potty aka Lakshminrayanan Potty ( Vasudeva Doddappa's first son-in-law) is the person I had in mind. He must be in his mid eighties  now and it is quite some time since I ave seen him, an unpardonable lapse on my part. He was a popular teacher and many of our third generation members were taught by him in Kollam. Besides he is a muli talented person with fluency in many languages, an accomplished musician, a small time politician operating only in Kollam town area, an editor, poet and has many other accomplishments to his credit. Let us all wish him good health and a few more years of useful life.

Quiz for the current issue

Who among the second generation members of Badettu family had traveled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari?