Discerning India- Living Cultures of Tulunadu



Discerning India- Living Cultures of Tulunadu is a unique Online Course that attempts to introduce the participants to the distinctive cultural traits of Tulunadu and look at what makes the region surrounding Manipal, India -a microcosm of India. The region stretching across the Arabian Coast from Byndoor in Karnataka to Kasargod in Kerala, known as Tulunadu in the popular lore, is a mosaic of cultures. This cultural hub with intriguing and fascinating domestic diversity offers a glimpse of the essence of Indianness. The indigenous worship traditions, vibrant folk theatres and syncretic living ways add a distinctive richness to the region.  This course introduces the participants to the glimpses of this cultural heritage and leaves them with a desire to delve deeper.


The idea of the course...

This course is primarily designed to introduce the unique cultural aspects of Tulunad and to provide a general overview about the knowledge systems of the communities. It is an attempt to introduce the participants to the region and its ways of living. 

One way to define Tulunad is to understand it as the geographical location where the people speak in Tulu language, and hence the name Tulunad [Tulu + Nad (land, place)]. Tulunadu may be also viewed by extending the geographical location to those places where Tulu was spoken in the past and where the people’s social and cultural lives embody certain ideas which are now considered to be pre-dominantly present among the current Tulu speaking population. We consider both these definitions in what we understand Tulunad to be.

We are aware that there is no one homogenous authentic lived experience shared by all the people of the region, but the attempt is to provide an understanding of the practices and ideas of the people.


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The course engages the audience with lectures, video documentaries, and reading materials on different units. The participants will be exposed to diverse contours of living cultures of the region from the interspersing points of view of religion, culture and society of Tulunadu- the region surrounding Manipal.

The Level 1 Course comprises the following Units:

Worship Traditions:

Bhutaradhane (Bhuta Worship of the Region)

Nagaradhane (Worship of Naga of the Region)

Theatre and Performance:

Yakshagana (Folk Theatre of the Region)

Community and Sports: 

Kambala (Slush Track Buffalo Race of the Region)









Yakshagana is a vibrant and unique traditional art form that is performed in the coastal districts of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.






As a culturally unique practice, Bhuta worship epitomises Tulunad. The worship practices followed by Tuluvas mirror life in various ways ranging from social, economic, and religious aspects.






Nagaradhane is a distinctive worship tradition of Tulunad. The beliefs associated with Naga or the Cobra in this region are symbolically represented in the ritual forms of Nagaradhane.







Kambala is a traditional slush track buffalo race that takes place in different parts of Tulunad from the month of November till March. Kambalas are integrally connected to agricultural activities of the region, and the worship of land and nature.