Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Kenchamma Character Analysis

Kanthapura’s patron goddess, Kenchamma supposedly battled a demon on the red Kenchamma Hill near town “ages, ages ago” and has protected Kanthapura’s people ever since. The villagers frequently pray to her for help, perform ceremonies to honor her, and thank her for their good fortune. Kenchamma exemplifies the traditional religion that Kanthapura’s people gradually come to leave behind.

Kenchamma Quotes in Kanthapura

The Kanthapura quotes below are all either spoken by Kenchamma or refer to Kenchamma. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Kanthapura published in 1963.
Section 1 Quotes

Sometimes people say to themselves, the Goddess of the River plays through the night with the Goddess of the Hill. Kenchamma is the mother of Himavathy. May the goddess bless us!

Related Characters: Achakka (speaker), Kenchamma
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 11 Quotes

Changing he changes not,

Ash-smeared, he’s Parvati’s sire,

Moon on his head,

And poison in his throat,

Chant, chant, chant the name of Eesh,

Chant the name of Siva Lord!

Related Characters: Moorthy, Kenchamma, Sankar
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 13 Quotes

“This is all Ramayana and Mahabharata; such things never happen in our times.”

Related Characters: Dorè (speaker), Moorthy, Rangamma, Mahatma Gandhi, Kenchamma
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 18 Quotes

“In the name of the goddess, I’ll burn this village”

Related Characters: Rachi (speaker), Rachanna, Kenchamma
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Kanthapura LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Kenchamma Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Kenchamma appears in Kanthapura. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...hear this as the Goddess of the River playing with the Goddess of the Hill. “Kenchamma is the mother of Himavathy,” explains the narrator. (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
“Great and bounteous” Kenchamma is the town’s goddess. Once, “ages, ages ago,” a demon came to take Kanthapura’s children... (full context)
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
The goddess Kenchamma also cures disease. By walking through a holy fire, everyone has been cured of smallpox... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
The narrator prays that Kenchamma will protect the village “through famine and disease, death and despair.” She promises that the... (full context)
Section 5
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...hills around our village.” Decrepit, miserable, starving coolies were regularly marched through Kanthapura, past the Kenchamma Temple to the Estate, by the maistri who recruited them from their dried-up, foodless villages. (full context)
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...the ill asks who the local goddess is and then makes a small charm to Kenchamma; she wakes up without fever, but one of the children gets worse and worse despite... (full context)
Section 6
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...force when he asks for his 76 rupees in unpaid wages. The family before goddess Kenchamma’s grove and heads to Kanthapura, where Moorthy brings them to Patel Rangè Gowda, who orders... (full context)
Section 8
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...of yarn per day, and he asks them to take an oath before the goddess Kenchamma—but they refuse, saying they cannot handle her anger. (full context)
Section 9
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...horoscope compatible with her daughter Ranga’s. She is so delighted that she weeps and thanks Kenchamma. Word spreads around the village; the other brahmins congratulate Venkamma and Ranga on their luck. (full context)
Section 10
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to Karwar and the Skeffington Estate, respectively, and the Gandhian villagers agree that the goddess Kenchamma will free Moorthy—except Vasudev, who thinks the government will hold him for “a good six... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...“Patel-ship,” which means the government has broken “the ancient laws,” and the villagers pray that Kenchamma will destroy the government. (full context)
Section 12
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...from the mountains through the valleys and into Kanthapura, where its residents thank the goddess Kenchamma. Rangè Gowda, who no longer runs Kanthapura, asks the villagers about their preparations for the... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...the people still recognize as their true Patel, rides his horse into town. The Goddess Kenchamma appears to the townspeople, and Rangappa splashes the bulls with holy water. Rangè Gowda identifies... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...ask for rain and Moorthy’s return, in exchange for which they make various offerings to Kenchamma. That afternoon, Postman Subbayya runs to Rangamma’s house town with the Blue paper and announces... (full context)
Section 18
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...helped them at all. She declares that they were “mad to follow Moorthy.” The goddess Kenchamma and river Himavathy never refused their prayers, she laments. But suddenly she feels “some strange... (full context)
Section 19
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...Bombay men, and even Waterfall Venkamma left town. Rangè Gowda prayed for blessings from Mother Kenchamma and Father Siva before leaving town, but admits that “my heart it beat like a... (full context)