“My grandmother told me if someone ever pointed out our dance movements are peculiar, we should tell them these are the feline steps of a hunter” | To read the full story, click here >>
Swarnalatha belongs to the tribal Irula community, known for their snake-catching skills. “We are so much more than that. We follow a tradition rich in music, dance and love,” said Swarnalatha, who now runs an NGO that works for the upliftment for people in her community.
Swarnalatha is among a group of Irulas and academicians who had gathered to celebrate the launch of a book documenting the lives of these tribals in the plains. The book is a collection of observations made by students and outreach workers associated with Loyola Institute of Social Science Training and Research of Irulas who live in Tindivanam, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram.
Irula (people of darkness) inhabit mostly in the northern TN districts and some parts of Kerala. Researches have shown that the tribe have their origin from ethnic groups of Southeast Asia and Australia. They speak Irula language that is closely related to Dravidian languages like Tamil and Kannada.
Manjula C, a scholar on Irulas, said although a lot has been documented on the tribal community in the hills, there have been hardly any records on those who live in the plains. “Both the groups are completely different. They don’t even speak the same language,” she said. Nature, she said, features in all aspects of their lives, in the songs they sing, the medicinal herbs they take and the goddess (that are often made of mud) they worship.
Speakers at the event urged the government to do more for members of this community, who are often trapped into bondage by rice mills and brick kiln owners.
Source: ‘Irulas much more than a community of snake catchers’
Date visited: 17 January 2022
[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]
“Many brick workers in India are trapped in a cycle of debt-bondage, forced to toil in harsh conditions with little recourse to the law. Anti-Slavery has recently concluded a successful project on this issue. Working with our partners, we supported improvements in working conditions at 31 brick factories and secured the release of 2,251 workers from debt bondage.” | Learn more >>
“As per a study on human trafficking, the state of Jharkhand has emerged as India’s trafficking hub with thousands of tribal women and girls being trafficked out of the state each year to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and beyond [while] human traffickers are also involved in many cases of missing children.” – The Wire | Shakti Vahini | Tourism locations | Adivasi tribal bondage slavery trafficking (Safe search) >>
Video | Dungri Latar (At the foothills): In quest of “a life beyond the world of quarry” >>
Irulas are very knowledgeable about medicinal plants. We buy raw materials from them that are used in making herbal products. Their children now go to schools and the drop-out is zero. We are integrating them into mainstream colleges and institutions. | Watch a video and read the full interview with author and nature lover Zai Whitaker >>
Find up-to-date information provided by, for and about Indian authors, researchers, officials, and educators | More search options >>
Search tips: in the search field seen below, combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community; add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the Forest Rights Act (FRA); and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, women’s rights, and children’s right to education; specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, effective measures to prevent rural poverty, bonded labour, and human trafficking).
For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>
“Together, we must endeavour to strengthen tribal communities which are the role model in preservation of water, forest and land, and learn from their connection with nature and the surrounding environment for the sake of the entire human race.” – journalist and tribal rights activist Dayamani Barla in The Wire >>
- Atree.org | Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (posts)
- Biodiversity | Hyderabad biodiversity pledge | Nilgiri Biosphere
- Climate change | Audio | The Climate Question (BBC Podcast)
- Ecology and environment
- eJournals & eBooks | Background guide for education
- eLearning: Center for World Indigenous Studies
- Ethnobotany & ethnomedicine
- Forest Rights Act (FRA) | Legal rights over forest land
- Gandhian social movement
- Health and nutrition | Recommendations by the Expert Committee
- Indigenous knowledge systems
- M S Swaminathan
- Native science
- Nature and wildlife
- Revival of traditions
- Rural poverty
- Sacred grove
- Shola Trust
- Success story
- Tagore and rural culture
- “The tribal food basket has always been diverse and nutritious”
- Tribal culture worldwide
- United Nations on climate change
- Vandana Shiva
- Wildlife tourism
- What is the Forest Rights Act about?
Who is a forest dweller under this law, and who gets rights?
Tips for using interactive maps
- toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
- for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
- scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest
- explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>
To locate the Museum of Santal Culture in Bishnubati village (near Santiniketan) on the map seen below, open by clicking on the left button: