Frequent gathering by some of the Kannadiga bureaucrats like late Sri. Shiva Rao and Late Sri. Shankar Rao, during mid thirties took a more definite shape under late Sri U. Venkat Rao’s guidance and efforts. He roped in distinguished persons like late Capt. Narasinga Rao, (Lecturer in the Coimbatore Medical School) & late Dr. Vittal Rao, a Dentist.
Among the early Dakshina Kannada settlers in Coimbatore, an advocate Sri. B R Bhat, was also one. He was a man of multifarious activities and broad social contacts. By the efforts of these two active and far sighted individuals “Karnataka Association”, was formed in 1938 with Sri B R Bhat as President and Sri U Venkat Rao as Secretary. Membership was expanded from those who hailed from South Kanara to any citizen of the Akanda Karnataka and other Kannada speaking people. It was registered as ‘Karnataka Association’, Coimbatore on 29th May 1944. There were many members, who could not speak Canarese, but who sympathized with the objects of the Association and were interested in social and cultural life of Karnataka.
The Main objects of the Association
- To build social contacts among Kannadigas in Coimbatore
- To organize cultural, social activities of the Kannadigas
- To build familiarity and friendship with the local public
- To help Kannadigas from outside the state who come to the city, and provide accommodation for an over-night stay if necessary.
Ever since, the Association has been growing in strength as well as in its activities. Initially the programs were held at the Government Arts College premises, and later in the gardens of the then Woodlands Hotel, where, the present Cheran Tower now stands. Dignitaries like His Highness Jayachamaraja Wadayar, Maharaja of Mysore were our guest at the lawns of Woodlands Hotel. The annual gatherings were held in Devanga High School grounds.
A reading room and a library of Kannada books were opened for our members in the clinic of late Dr C V Ramaraj, who was then the Secretary.
In the year 1962 with munificent donations from members & friends, a site was purchased, at a cost of nearly Rs, 20,000/-, and by early 70s with additional contribution by members & well wishers, and a grant of Rs. 50,000/ from the Government of Karnataka a building was constructed and inaugurated on 8th June 1974, by the then Governor of Tamilnadu His Excellency K. K. Shah. Smt Dr Sarojini Mahishi, Minister of State for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of India, presided. Since then our gatherings were conducted here.
1965 was the Silver jubilee year. The then Chief Minister of Mysore Sri S. Nijalingappa, inaugurated the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Association, presided over by Sri B Vaikunta Baliga, the then speaker of Mysore Legislative Assembly. The Chief Minister advised us “As Kannadigas you are the Cultural Ambassador in Tamilnadu, try to bring about harmony between Tamilnadu and Karnataka”. We have stood by the advice to this day and have reaped the benefit by the love, regard and help shown to us by the local public.
In the year 1990 Golden Jubilee Celebrations were held on 28th March. Sri M Rajasekaramurthy, Minister for Finance, Government of Karnataka was the Chief Guest, Dr K Jeevaraj Alva, Member of Legislative Assembly presided and Sri A M Raman IAS, District Collector, Coimbatore was the special invitee. In commemoration of the Golden Jubilee, a corpus was raised to help educate deserving financially poor students hailing from Karnataka, studying in Coimbatore.
As the years passed by, the Association activities grew multifold with the regular annual features like Annual General Body Meeting, Members Day, Independence Day celebration, programs involving other Associations in Coimbatore, Yakshagana, Navarathiri, Ladies Nite Celebrations, Karnataka Rajyotsava Day, Children’s Day, Fancy dress and music competitions, Sri Purandaradasa Day and so on.
Since 2009, Sri Purandaradasa Day is being celebrated as Purandara Daasa Krithi Music Competition, open to all school & college students. It is not just a competition to evaluate the singing talent, but also emphasized on the correctness of the Sahitya. To ensure the participants render the Kannada songs correctly a workshop is arranged before the competition for all the competitors to correct the pronunciation, perfect the diction and also to understand the meaning of the song. This competition has come to be accepted as a role model for ‘how a music competition should be organised’. Today it stands as a flag ship program of the Karnataka Association Coimbatore.
Our Association comprising of around 450 members is playing a great part shedding away various traditional, ideological, cultural and linguistic differences between the people of Tamilnadu and Karnataka. It has also developed a spirit of brotherhood and friendship, cementing the co-existence of the people of these two states.
The Karnataka Association has completed 75 years of its presence in Coimbatore and the Platinum Jubilee was celebrated on 14th June 2014. Dr Veerendra Heggade of Dharmastala, Sri Santhosh Hegde, former Judge of the Supreme Court, and Dr. B K Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Coimbatore participated.
Our focus is in augmenting the ‘Educational aid fund’ to help the needy Kannadiga students in Coimbatore. While recognizing the meritorious students, we also extend financial grant to poor & needy to pursue higher education. We propose to widen the scope of beneficiaries by increasing the fund to over Rs 20,00,000. Under similar lines, the medical assistance to Kannada speaking public in Coimbatore helps the underprivileged to meet the emergency needs in time.