On equality and sharing: “a truly amazing sight” – Tamil Nadu

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara, The New Internationalist, September 14, 2012

Culture is a tricky thing. How do we define it? Who decides when customs and traditions, even ancient, cherished ones, can be dispensed with? These and many other similar questions have been debated by the Adivasi groups we (ACCORD, an NGO in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu) work with for the last 25 years. Yet, culture was not a priority, it was neither life threatening, nor in clear and present danger (we thought). And so land, human rights, health, education and housing took priority.

A quarter of a century later, we realize with dismay that the Gudalur Adivasi kids who go to local schools are losing their language, customs and traditions.  […]

The young people began discussions about each other’s customs. The youngsters doing the course were Paniyas, Bettakurumbas and Kattunaickens. They exchanged stories of how equality and sharing was instilled even in little children in their individual tribes. We non-adivasis were constantly stunned by the fact that Adivasi kids never fought for a sweet, however tiny. They always shared it solemnly and equally, a truly amazing sight to see.

At the end of the first week, Stan then gave them a weekend assignment. They were to go home and ask their parents and grandparents to tell them stories of the past. The stories about customs, traditions and food, or just stories, were to be recorded and shared when they returned.

The group came back on Monday morning brimming over with information.  […]

‘We are going to teach all the kids what Adivasi means and that our people are spread out all over India and all over the world.

Read the full blog and earlier ones by Mari Marcel Thekaekara here:
Lessons of the past for young Adivasi — New Internationalist
Date Visited: Thu Sep 20 2012 14:22:25 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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