The Urali do not Fear Elephants
The Urali make a wound on the thigh, keep ash in it and chant a particular mantra to keep elephants away! They talk about themselves how they manage to live in the dense forests. Although Uralis reside in the woods they are not strangers to the towns and its developments. Moving from one mountain to another, the Uralis settled in interior forests. Uralis are mostly found on the Idukki hills of Kerala, known as God's own land in south India. The inhabitants of Memari (a place on the hills) reached these higher hills as a result of the construction of the Idukki reservoir for the hydro-electric project.
The Uralis do not fear elephants. In Memari there are other wild animals too. In order to stop wild beasts from entering residential areas, electrified fences powered by solar energy have been provided. Some houses have lamps lit by solar energy.
A few hundred years ago the Uralis went into the interior hills to escape the heavy taxation of the Kochi kings and fearing Tippu Sultan's onslaught. Some from Tamil Nadu also migrated to these hills and joined the Urali. More than their history, their present plight of life is of utmost importance. With the advent of new administrative reforms the tribal head, Kani, does not have much say. The Uralis do incorporate changes. Those who inherit property through maternal line, elect the Kani in the same way.
The community, which once ate roots and fruits, has started cultivating all sorts of food crops now. Root vegetables, tapioca, plantain and paddy form their staple foods. Cash crops like coffee, cardamom and areca nut are also found there. There are enough remains to prove that they had even tried planting rubber trees.
Though they are inclined to eat wild beasts, they show little interest in hunting. Their old style of chewing pan with wild ingredients has given way to betel, areca nut and lime. Traditionally they did not consume alcohol. But recently they have begun distilling country liquor and selling it.
The Uralis were quick to changing life trends. One can discern changes in their food habits, dress and houses. Earlier they used to live in tree huts. Now besides houses made of bamboo, one can see houses made up of bricks, hollow bricks and tiles.
Read the complete story of Ulladan (1,200words) at A Peep into the Tribalscape
Marriage of the children, division of land……..new huts………Marriage proposals…. role of sisters, uncles and the burning candle at the ceremony.
the feast………the marriage covenant………. Who are the guests at the wedding feast ? contribution of guests…… Death and magic around the funeral ………..strange beliefs…..
The Uralis believe that the dead souls will travel from the grave. In order to confine that place, 'some works are allotted to them' . Life after death….