ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A MOOPAN
The MOOPAN (Rengaiyyan) belongs to the Irula community in Palagayur which is a tribal hamlet in Pudur Panchayat, Palakkad. Over 10,000 Adivasi families live in 187 tribal ooru (Tribal Settlements) scattered all over Attappady.
MORNING-A general morning begins after the sunrise and the Moopan goes out to do his daily chores.The earlier way of brushing with the ‘Appa or Kadalavanakku’ is till followed.
Though bathrooms are present, people of the ooru and the Moopan himself prefers to wash and take bath on the river Bhavani.Later he goes for grazing ദി cattle.The peculiar aspect of the cattle here is that it is the ‘naadan’ or localvariety and is not tied in the cattle shed but out in the open.Once the herd is untied they move on their own accord, down the hill and cross the river.They make their own way and the Moopan’s dog accompanies them.The herd would come back by the sunset.
This is the month for seed sowing and the Moopan with the Mannukkaran goes to the field to pray and sow the first few seeds. The Moopan also goes to bless the ‘kambalamkettu‘ceremony which is done to increase the productivity of the fields. The musical instruments include two drums and one flute(pe-pee) which the Moopan plays.While some women plucks the weeds,the others in the ooru, both men and women dance to the beats.The ‘komali’ or joker is the person who wears the ‘chilankai’ and pokes fun so that people would enjoy the work.
Meanwhile the breakfast preparation is going on in the moopan’s house.The moopathiseparates the ragi and grinds it to a white powder which is put into the boiling water and stirred.The‘ragi puttu’ is served with spinach which was plucked the day before from the field. It is served with tomato curry.Normally the food is served twice a day.Moopan leaves for work in the fields.
AFTERNOON-Meanwhile the Moopan is called for taking a young girl to the healer’s (Thatha)house.The moopathi is called to lead the puberty ceremony of a young girl.The Moopan blesses the girl and returns to his fields.
Whenever there is a death in the other ooru the ‘Kurutahala’(messenger) of that village comes to the Moopan and informs him. There was a death in chaavadiyur and the ‘kuruthala’ came to Palagayur Moopan to inform him about the death.
EVENING-The Moopan calls an Oorukuttam and decides who would proceed to attend the funeral ceremonies. There was also a dispute among two men which the Moopan solved by an extended discussion and symbolically gave them a beetle leaf to share.
The day of the Moopan ends with the sunset as wild animals roam free by the night.
The Oorukutam is not called every evening. Only when certain matters need to be discussed does the Moopan call for a meeting.Some days the Moopan also helps his wife in cooking and cleaning.
This report is prepared by Ms. Lakshmi Nair. P (MA History Student, Madras Christian College) as part of her Internship in KCHR.