A gay wedding in traditional Kodava attire in the US has shocked the tiny martial community of the Kodavas in Karnataka.
Sharath Ponnappa, a native Kodava and a California-based doctor married his partner Sandeep Dosanj, a North Indian settled in the US, on September 26. Ponnappa had migrated to the United States 20 years ago and has settled there since.
Their wedding took place according to Kodava customs in California in the presence of some of his friends and family members. Their wedding picture has been widely shared across Kodagu district and other parts, triggering condemnation from traditional Kodavas.
Madikeri Kodava Samaja president KS Devaiah said the community will expel and ostracize Ponnappa for this “blasphemous” act. “Such a shocking thing has never happened in the past. It is an insult to our community and our beliefs. We can’t tolerate such a thing. Gay marriage is one thing and wearing sacred Kodava attire to solemnise a gay marriage is another thing. We are against the latter,” said.
Another Kodava community leader said that the entire clan is “embarrassed” and “humiliated”.
Ponnappa was not available for comment. His parents who live in Dubai declined comment.
A year ago, a five-star resort in Kodagu was in the news for serving its guests in Kodava attire. After outrage, the resort chain apologised to the Kodavas.
Kodavas wear their traditional dress only on special occasions and non-Kodavas are discouraged from wearing it. For them, the traditional dress is sacred and any misuse of it is not tolerated by the community.
There are around 3 lakh Kodavas all over the world and one third of them still live in Kodagu, their ancestral place.
Kodavas are a martial race who are mainly into growing coffee. Kodagu, their native place is known for its deep forests, mountains, waterfalls, rivers and streams. The river Cauvery originates in Kodagu and considered holy by the Kodavas.