12 July 2007

The Royal Bath

A temple festival isn't really complete without elephants in Kerala, India. They are flaunted (by their owners), revered and they also enjoy celeb status within the community. These are images from my visit to a bathing session of one such celebrated pachyderm by the name of 'Lakshmikutty'.
Lakshmikutty and her mahout , Trissur, India.
Subrah, the mahout preparing for the task ahead.
The audience watching her highness.
While her entire body was immersed in cool water on this hot summer day, she keeps her trunk out of water to make sure she doesn't drown! Her Royal highness obediently ties her trunk into a knot as per her mahout's instructions.
Lakshmikutty enjoying a nice splash of cool water.
The irony of the bird in the golden cage.
Subrah later told me that this 'scratching' session is Lakshmikutty's favorite part of the bathing session.
Wonder how he balances himself like that!
Ah! My Favorite pose.
Heading back home after a fresh royal bath.

10 July 2007

2007 Exhibition

01 July 2007

Documentary- SEED

There is a factory next to the home. The grinding of the machinery inevitably drills into your ears throughout the day and night. The building which is now an orphanage was once a factory too…. with broken cement floors and creaking doors. But the little faces that beckons you inside simply says, ‘welcome’ ! At 23, when Kalarani left her work at a convent , she had a mission in mind. To provide food , shelter and above all, love; to all those who are abandoned or disowned. She called her mission SEED- A society for Education, Empowerment and Development of destitute girl children and the aged. Unlike most charitable institutions, Kalarani had a unique concept for her home. At SEED, the children and the aged inmates would stay under the same roof to benefit the comfort of each other. Her dream had manifested itself into reality 5 years ago. But she had soon realised that the little go-down was running out of space as more and more children came knocking at her door. In 2005, much to the grief of everybody in the family, the aged inmates were shifted to another building a few kilometers away from the orphanage. Even then, it was not the end of their problems. At present, there are about 37 children living at the orphanage; from 3years to 23years of age. All cramped into a little hall where they eat, sleep and study. The orphanage has but one single toilet which is used only by the house hold helpers who lived there. At 5am , the rest of the children troops into an open waste land 2kms away to attend nature's call. With temperatures soaring to 40 degree Celsius and above at their little village called Avinashi, the children walks bare feet to the public taps, to collect water for their daily needs. The only tap in the house provides no more water than is required for cooking. Despite the lack of facilities of their home, the inmates of SEED, are happy, and at peace with themselves and with the rest of the world. Perhaps, for them, this loving world with all of its superficial short comings is nothing less than heaven when compared to the hell holes they were rescued from. Every other inmate is their sister and Kalarani their mother. And the ‘mother’ has been wise in nurturing a sense of responsiblity towards the society in her children. The aged inmates, takes one step further. Guruswamy and his friend spends their entire day at the road side serving butter milk to the thirsty public. After 5 years of constant struggle, Kalarani has managed to buy a piece of land to build a home for the children. An institution which would be home to both the aged inmates as well as the children. But she says that the battle is only half won; the struggle to gather enough money to build the house still continues…..

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January 2009

PS : Im happy to say that SEED has successfully relocated to a new larger building accommodating 45 children and 30 elderly inmates. Given below is their new address.

Society For Education, Empowerment & Development (SEED) (Regd. Under TN Societies Registration Act 27 of 1975, Regd No : 316/2000) Rehabilitation Centre for Destitute Girl Children & Aged Samathanam Children's Home (Recognized by Dept, of Social welfare, Govt. of Tamil Nadu) 1/849, Kasikountan Putur, Mangalam Rd, Rakiyapalayam P.O, Avinashi, Coimbatore - 641654

Ph: +91 4296 270638 Mob: +91 9443727638

The Tribe of Nilgiris

Panniyas Paniyas(which literally means "workers" in local usage) are found in Gudalur taluk and many more in Kerala. Paniyas were found to be coming under a subtle from of bonded labour. They were released from bondage and a few have been since rehabilitated in various schemes.

They are scattered throughout Gudalur Taluk and are one of the most backward tribal communities. Under an age old system, most of the Paniyas were working under local land owners for low wages with little or no liberty to work for others for competitive wages. After Independence, however, the majority of the Paniyas broke away from their masters and started working as casual agricultural labourers, bamboo cutters and estate labourers. The Paniyas, by and large, live in poverty irrespective of whether they are bonded or not. During 1976, 481 Paniyas in 252 families were freed from bonded labour and they have been rehabilitated in the Paniya Welfare Land colonisation Co- operative society and other schemes.

Kattunaikans

This tribal community is also found only in Gudalur Taluk. They are like Paniyas, farm labourers and their condition is no better than that of Paniyas.

Kurumbas

The Kurumba houses known as "GUDLU" are temporary constructions in the forests. The traditional occupation of the Kurumbas is food gathering, like collection of honey and forests produce. Now, they are mainly engaged in agriculture and those who do not own lands work as casual agricultural labourers. The Kurumbas are had working people, but the economic condition of the Kurumbas is very poor.