Around 5.00 am in the morning, I pushed myself out from the bed, to visit the market in the Gokarna town. The previous night had been a long one, spent along the shores with a few travellers from Russia; snacks, chats, sea breeze, starry sky and some good music!
The early rise was thus not easy. Walking along the narrow lanes of the market, there were women sitting on either side, selling flowers. Approaching the temple premises, they seemed to be more in number. I had read about them earlier; the women from the ‘Halakki’ Tribe. The ‘Halakki’ tribes are confined to the coastline of Northern Karnataka.
Padmavathi let me capture a photograph of hers. Like Padmavathi, the others come all the way from their ‘koppas’ or mud huts in their village, carrying flowers and garlands, walking barefoot along the muddy paths. The ‘Halakki’ women are very hard-working.
The women of this tribe are known for two things; their attire and also the songs they sing. Padmavathi too was dressed up in her traditional attire. She wore a saree without a blouse and had draped it around in layers, with a bareback. And to add to her attire, she had worn a jasmine flower band on her white hair.
She had layers of black and yellow beads all around her neck and also a few metal bangles. Her lips were stained from the use of beetle leaves. Most ‘Halakki’ women wear a nose ring too. With the help of a friend who knew the local language, I communicated with her; I was really curious to know about the women from her tribe. She also added that this attire of the tribe is very comfortable, especially in the type of climate they live in.
As mentioned earlier, ‘Halakki’ women are extremely good singers. They sing continuously. They sing about anything and everything; from singing about imaginary subjects to singing about their daily chores!
The ‘Halakki’ tribe and its rich legacy is slowly disappearing as the younger generation is attracted to the modern lifestyle and are pulling themselves away from their roots. This attire and way of life is only followed by the elderly women these days!