Toda culture maintained in Muthanad Mund and Taranad Mund hamlets (Nilgiri) – Tamil Nadu

Toda elders
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The Hindu, July 5, 2013 – Read the full article and view more photos >>

K. JESHI visits Muthanad Mund, the fountainhead of the Todas, and discovers some less known facts about the tribe’s culture […]

The outing turns out to be a date with the history of the Todas, one of the earliest tribes of The Nilgiris. On that misty morning, accompanied by members of the Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA) R. Jagadeesan and S. Malli of Sangamam Toda Women Federation, we set off to the Toda Mund. […]

The temple, a common worship place of a cluster of Toda Munds, stands tall at 15 feet and is an architectural wonder. Built with bamboo planks that are latched together at intervals by a spiral of cane, it has a patchwork on top with aufful grass in a receding pattern. “The slowly receding conical structure is akin to the engineering marvel of the Tanjore temple,” says Dr. C. Maheswaran, director of the Tribal Research Centre in Ooty. Author W.H.R. Reverse in his book The Todas discusses the structural stability of the temple which dates back to several thousand years and is as old as the Todas.

While a parabolic half-barrel shaped structure or the milk temple is prevalent in every hamlet, the conical one is found only in Muthanad Mund and Taranad Mund in Ooty. The temples are constructed at a sunken place from the slope, and the temple priest has to crawl on all fours to enter the temple. “They saw the rainbow and built this,” says Mohan Kud, a football player who has represented the Todas at National Football Championships for tribals. “It’s a sacred mund because we believe our female deity ‘Thekirzi amman’ created the clan and played about in the grounds here with her 12 children.” He retraces the history as we sip piping hot coffee at his home. S. Malli, a Toda woman, and Jayamuthu, both clad in ‘Poothukuli’ (the Toda shawl) join us and discuss the intricate Toda embroidery, which has recently won a GI certification.

The Toda population in The Nilgiris is estimated to be around 1500. “In 1881, there were 125 munds according to an assessment of the British. Now, 65 munds are fully occupied and the remaining used for agricultural purposes,” says M. Alwas, honorary secretary of NAWA who is also a Toda.

Muthanad Mund is significant for ‘Mudhpirthth’, an annul congregation of the Todas. “Every mund makes an offering of Re. 1 for every male in the family. We have 15 distinct clans, which belong to the ‘Thevileoll’ sect and ‘Thortazoll’ sect. ‘Oll’ refers to atkal or people. We begin our day with a salutation to the Sun. At sunset, we praise Nature. The traditions still continue. We still have the annual salt festival especially for the buffaloes— Paniuppu in winter and Koruppu in the summer.

There is no idol worship and the ritual paraphernalia comprises a few earthen vessels and bamboo receptacles to store milk, curd, butter and ghee. From time immemorial, Todas have lived in these huts shaped like a rainbow, to tackle the wind velocity at high altitudes. Gradually however, traditional Toda homes are giving way to modern concrete dwellings.

Toda culture is buffalo-centred and the prosperity of each mund is judged by the number of wild buffaloes each one owns. The buffalo motif is every where. Stones at the temple bear the motifs of buffalo head, the crescent, sun and the stars. Every mund has a buffalo shed or Thoovarsh , a circularly large open space. The kodarsh is a small shed for the new born calves of the temple buffaloes. Todas also believe in re-incarnation, and follow an elaborate funeral ceremony, which involves the slaughter of buffaloes. […]

Source: Time travel with the Todas – The Hindu
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Date Visited: 16 December 2020

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