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Sunday Scribblings #172: Kanda Padya: A Kannada Poetic Form: Of the Wondrous Land I Grew Up In

This weekend, many across India celebrate harvest festivals. Each region has a different name for the festival but the intent remains the same, to thank nature for all it bestows on us. We celebrate Pongal in our home, while others celebrate Makar Sankaranti, Lohri, Bihu variously. With this in mind, I bring you the Kanda Padya: a Kannada poetic form. This is from the wondrous land I grew up in – Karnataka (which celebrates Makar Sankaranti).

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #172: Kanda Padya: A Kannada Poetic Form: Of the Wondrous Land I Grew Up In

Poetic Sundays: Kanda Padya: A Kannada Poetic Form

As I mentioned earlier, today I am featuring a Kannada poetic form on the occasion of the Makara Sankaranti harvest festival.

What is the Kanda Padya Poetic Form?

The kanda padya (ಕಂದಪದ್ಯ) is a Kannada poetic form. Some of the earliest references/use of this form date from the Kavirajamarga era of around 850 C.E. This form contains four lines, with the first and the third lines equal in length and the second and fourth lines equal in length to each other.

The Kanda Padya’s Characteristics

So the Kanda Padya’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:

  • stanzaic: a poem with one or more quatrains (4-line stanzas)
  • metric, or rather maatraa-based: lines one and three have 3 units of 4 maatraas each, while lines two and four have 5 units of 4 maatraas each. A maatraa can be short (1) or long (2), and many Indian languages use the concept of maatraas. So in English, we can try to use the short and long sounds for the vowels in place of these maatras.
    • there are certain rules (below) on how to use this, but of course they are not mandatory! So feel free to deviate from them (just ensure you follow the basic one mentioned above of 3*4 and 5*4)
      • odd-numbered units should not be ‘u-u’. (short-long-short or in terms of English metre, should not be an amphibrach)
      • sixth and the twelfth units should be either ‘u-u’ or ‘uuuu’ (short-long-short or short-short-short-short, that is should be either an amphibrach or two pyrrhus)
      • eighth and the sixteenth units must have a long at the end (so ‘–‘ or ‘uu-‘, so either a spondee or an anapest)
  • rhyme-schemes: while there is a mention of internal rhymes, it is not specified anywhere, so rhyming is optional (internal/end rhyme up to the poet)

How the Kanda Padya Looks


And while there are many ways it can go, using some of the rules mentioned, here is an example using the ‘u’ and ‘-‘ for short and long sounds respectively

uu- / u-u / -uu
u-u / — / u-u / uu- / —
-uu / uuuu / uu-
u-u / -uu / uuuu / — / uu-

My Attempt

I need to practice some more, and this one is a very rudimentary one though heartfelt. While I do not actually write letters to my parents, I have many things I do want to tell them but cannot, those thoughts kind of like unmailed letters. I show the breakdown by the units of this form below with ‘/’.

Letters I Wrote
I wrote a letter to her my amma
And yet another to my appa as well yesterday; did not mail
them anywhere. They lie there with more of
their type, some I did not finish yet and they – wait – for, well, me.

~ Vidya Tiru @ ladyinreadwrites

I wrote a / letter to her / my amma
And yet ano/ther to my / appa as well / yesterday ; / did not mail
them anywhere. / they lie there /with more of
Their type, some/ I did not /finish yet and / they wait / for, well, me.

(amma* – mom; appa* – dad)

h/t and further reading and tips

  • Kanda Padya
  • One easy way to distinguish between short and long sounds in English is
    • sounds where the vowel “says its name” are called “long vowels”/long sounds. As in ‘play’ or ‘use’ or ‘meal’. ‘
    • Whereas ‘a’ in ‘apple’, ‘e’ in ‘elephant’, ‘i’ in ‘it’, ‘o’ in ‘on’ and ‘u’ in ‘umbrella’ are short sounds.


On My Blog

My recent posts since and including my last Sunday Scribblings:

And At Home

Rushing towards the finish line for my daughter’s Eagle Scout project before she turns eighteen in just a few weeks! Where did the years fly by? I don’t know but for now, I am so heartened by how her troop members (adults and scouts) are banding together to help her get it done on time. She is building benches for her elementary school on their request. I will post the pictures of the finished benches in a couple of weeks here.


On My Blog and Home Front

Hoping to continue posting everyday on my blog for the UBC, and note that I have a couple of bookish giveaways coming this week for you!

On the homefront, we are celebrating Pongal, and will be continuing work on my daughter’s project.

This Week’s Celebrations (includes a Poetry Break)

Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also)

  • Literary birthdays this week include: Ernest J. Gaines on the 15th; Susan Sontag and Rebecca Stead on January 16th; Jan 17th is Anne Brontë, Benjamin Franklin, Michelle Obama, and Javed Akhtar; the 18th of January is A.A. Milne; Edgar Allan Poe, Patricia Highsmith, Pat Mora, and Julian Barnes on the 19th of January; Tami Hoag, Vanessa Diffenbaugh on January 20th
  • Book Publishers Day is on January 16 every year
  • The 17th is Popeye Day!
  • January 18th is National Thesaurus Day and National Winnie The Pooh Day
  • It is Universal Letter Writing Week this week.

Foodie Celebrations

Other Celebrations

  • And if you want to do nothing, none of these celebrations, then there is a day for that! It is National Nothing Day on the 16th of January!!

Related Reads and More

Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. Will you attempt to write the kanda padya or any other Kannada poetic form you know, or other regional poetic form? Do share your favorite regional poetic forms with me. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

14 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #172: Kanda Padya: A Kannada Poetic Form: Of the Wondrous Land I Grew Up In

  1. I think my favorite of the food holidays would be Bagel day. So many fun ideas for holidays and celebrating.
    This form of poetry is a lot of work. I am impressed that you were able to make this type of poem.

  2. Hi Vidya,
    I feel like have just audited a university class on writing poetry.
    My university classes were mostly math and science so my poetry writing ended in high school.
    Thanks for teaching us about India and its cultural customs.
    Blog on!

  3. Great read! I do enjoy reading your poetry posts. The Poetic Form is quite different than anything I’ve ever heard before, but it also appears to be very interesting.

  4. I’ve not really written much poetry myself so am quite unfamiliar with various types of poem styles and their layout. Kids do grow up so fast. Mine are a bit younger but they have grown super fast.

  5. What a delightful read! Exploring the Kanda Padya poetic form alongside your personal attempt is a unique and enriching experience!

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