Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Manjampatti Valley - Mungilpallam Village

Mungilpallam (Moongilpallam) village at 1,080 metres (3,540 ft.), at the headwaters of the Ten Ar, the third village going up the valley, is a hamlet of just 20 houses of Pulaiyar people (pop: m-22, f-18), on the north side and above the Kumbaar stream. They practice some shifting cultivation on their south facing slope. There is a steep cliff trail from here which leads east to Kumbur village at the end of the road from Kodaikanal.
There are 24 Muduvan and Paliyan families living there. They were said to have migrated from Manjampatti 200 years ago because of their fear of herds of wild elephants. They originally lived in caves. They eat wild roots, maize, fruits from wild plants, honey and bamboo rice. Their limited income comes from selling bamboo products and lemon grass oil, which they spend to buy rice from other villages.
These people are nature worshippers. They do not worship regularly or have a particular place of worship but have a sacred area in their village. They visit this area to celebrate the harvest festival Pongal and the rain (Mari) festival, during which they sacrifice a goat.
They believe that diseases are manifestations of punishment inflicted by God. Till recently they only took native medicines. A witch doctor from the community was summoned for assessment and further treatment of serious illness. If the witch doctor’s said the patient would die, food and medicines were withdrawn and the patient kept in a small hut away other until he or she died. In 2005, more than 50% of the children here suffered from severe chronic malnutrition.
Since 1995, a registered Christian charity "Tribal Education and Medicare Vision" (Team Vision) has assisted the villagers to get identity cards and ration cards from the Revenue Department and Civil Supplies Department. Also, corrugated steel sheets were provided for home roofing. 18 new huts were erected in a new location in 1999.
The Forest Department helped the villagers lay stones on the tortuous way to the village. They also erected two solar lamps. A kindergarten school was started and 20 children were enrolled in 1998. In 2005, 9 children from Mungilpallam were attending elementary & secondary school in Kodaikanal.
Maangapaarai is another remote settlement and highly inaccessible because of bison attacks.