“We are so much more than that”: Book by S. Swarnalatha documenting the lives her own community, the Irula, who are known for their knowledge of nature and medicinal herbs – Tamil Nadu & Kerala

“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’
URL: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/irulas-much-more-than-a-community-of-snake-catchers/articleshow/63035204.cms
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 >>

Learn more: Bondage | Bonded labour | Human trafficking | SlaveryZamindari >>
Human trafficking is a crime. To report in India, call Shakti Vahini
+91-11-42244224, +91-9582909025 or the national helpline Childline on 1098.

“The recent rape of an Adivasi woman in Bengaluru was one of many incidents of suffering that workers had endured over the decades. […] 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.” – Rights Groups Call for Probe Into Trafficking Networks After Rape of Adivasi Migrant Worker >>

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 >>

Photo credit: The Hindu.com: see report on Irulas on 6 September 2009
Learn more about the Irula community >>

Find up-to-date information provided by, for and about Indian authors, researchers, officials, and educatorsMore search options >>
Search tips: in the search field seen here, type the name of any tribal (Adivasi) community, region, state or language; add keywords of special interest (childhood, language, sacred grove, tribal education, women); consider rights to which Scheduled Tribes are entitled (FRA Forest Rights Act, protection from illegal mining, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, right to education, Universal Declaration of Human Rights); specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, health, nutrition and malnutrition, rural poverty)

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 >>

Related posts

About website administrator

Secretary of the foundation
This entry was posted in Anthropology, Childhood, Customs, Ecology and environment, Education and literacy, Endangered language, Ethnobotany and ethnomedicine, Games and leisure time, Languages and linguistic heritage, Misconceptions, Music and dance, Names and communities, Nature and wildlife, Organizations, Press snippets, Quotes, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Storytelling, Worship and rituals and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.