‘Kudla’: The Eternal Land of Uniqueness

July 13, 2022

‘Kudla’ to me has always been something akin to a sprawling land of coconut palms swaying to the cool breeze of summer and the wild swinging to the heavy rain lashing on a perfect monsoon day. The city is one-of-a kind having indigenous and historically codified ways of living that one can understand by just looking/ seeing the Mangalurean. It is probably the only place on earth where every community/race that has interacted with her called her by a unique name, making her the land of nine names. It is a place where we notice omnipresence and omnipotence of this diversity in the languages, spoken and the taste that one has arrived at the golden land of Mangaluru.

True that different communities have their own languages, but language by itself was not a hurdle between people who associated themselves as Mangalurean. The seniors do tend to harp on 'the good old days' when communication was far easier, less complicated and seldom raised eyebrows. It is not unusual today for organisations and institutions to enforce the Kannada only rule. Of course, it is the state language and every person who lives in this state must have a working knowledge of the language. The question to ask here is does moving towards uni-language in communication – official or otherwise build a bond on oneness or does it demolish the other languages, other people and other races?

Speaking form the heart the Tulu language is the most acceptable but often ridiculed, probably because it is not taught in the school curriculum. Why Tulu – one of the oldest Dravidian languages next only to Tamil is forbidden and often ridiculed when as grownups, it is our only identity when one is outside Mangaluru? Though in Kudla each community speak different languages be it Konkani, Beary or Tulu, it is only Tulu which is accepted as the common language. Yet it is considered 'course' and 'crude' or 'plainly simple' or 'uncultured'.

The present day parents speak to their children in Kannada so that their children learn the language that is used in government offices, helps them in the educational setting and probably find jobs when they grow up. They believe that they are doing so in the best interest of their children. As it stands today Kannada has become the first language in schools for the children of Mangaluru and South Kanara. Knowing and loving Kannada should not be shunted. It has to be integrated into the multi-linguistic indigenous languages of Mangaluru and made a part of our cultural identity without one language considered superior and the other subsistent.

Let us take a look at Kudla or Kodial as Mangaluru is known in Tulu and Konkani languages respectively. The culture of this land is the uniqueness of our individuality and the collectivism of our existence. One of the best examples we could take is the banking sector. South Kanara is the cradle of banking civilisation. Each community had their own bank. The Hindus had the 'Canara Hindu Permanent Fund'. The Muslims had the 'Canara Banking Corporation' and the Konkani speaking GSB community had the 'Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate'. However, people of all communities had bank accounts in any of the banks. The commonality of these names of these banks is the word Canara. Just like the children of the same partents have their own names but the common family name or sir name. However today, two of these banks have been merged with other banks and the sole Canara Bank has its headquarters in Bengaluru.

Looking at this situation, may look absurd that we enforce the one language rule among our children. The linguistic diversity must be nurtured. It would be harsh to unknowingly destroy our language and our rich heritage because language is a major part of our cultural identity.

Surly, our younger generation must not be deprived the pleasure of being born and brought up in a land of diversified languages which is perhaps the uniqueness of our rich cultural heritage. A sensitive of being unique and at the same time belonging to the rich philosophy of oneness. When we pronounce Mangaluru, we need to emphasise on M – for both Mother and Mangaluru. We have a long way to go to move towards acceptance and appreciation of all our languages. I don’t think there is a alternative. 



By Dr P G Aquinas
Dr P G Aquinas is the professor and chairman Post Graduate Department of Studies and Research in Social Work, Mangalore University, Mangalagangotrhi. He can be contacted at pauleeda@gmail.com +91 9448109870.
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Comment on this article

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Thu, Jul 14 2022

    Many thanks for your Well written and beautifully explained article ! Mangalore is a belt of Konkani Language oriented place where our ancessestors slogged and worked hard for their own existance ! We all Love that pace with its little known diversity !

  • Maria, Mangaluru

    Thu, Jul 14 2022

    Very well said Sir. India as a whole is multicultural and multi linguistic country, we must appreciate all the languages and converse in our mother tongue and local language.

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