It’s mid-summer in Kodagu, a district in Karnataka. Amidst pristine hills, rolling coffee plantations, and large estate homes, the locals - known as Kodavas - are in the thick of two activities - winding down the coffee-picking season and taking stock of the produce, and gearing up for the annual family hockey festival. Hockey fields, spilling over with sports enthusiasts, play host to the largest independent hockey festival, one at which family pride and honour are at stake.
The Kodava Hockey Namme - meaning festival in Kodava takk, the local language - is seen as both a celebration of the game of hockey and a reason to gather the dwindling and scattered Kodava community in one place.
The annual event will hold its 22nd edition in April and May this year. Last year’s event saw a little over 3,000 players from an estimated 300 families participating. Featured in the Limca Book of Records as the largest and longest field hockey tournament in the world, the festival attracts, on an average, crowds of four to five thousand spectators per game; the number climbs to as high as thirty-five thousand closer to the finals.
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About the Writer
Bhumika K. is an independent journalist, and freelance writer-editor based in Bangalore. She has over 17 years of experience in print journalism, having worked full-time with three leading Indian national dailies - The Hindu, The Times of India, and The New Indian Express in various capacities. @BangaloreBhumi