Monday, August 2, 2010


Second Workshop with Kurumbas of Semmanarai

 Workshop exercises:

1.  Drawing their perspective of the forest

2.   Self-portrait

3.   One word exercise- say whatever comes to your mind after I say the following words:
 Gooseberry, honey, medicinal herb, elephants, panther, bear
God Rangaswami, masaniamma( first harvest is always offered to the god as a ritual), Biscoti climber, beeswax, Livelihood

 Changes or the lack of it in terms of worshipping, cash Crops not being sufficient anymore as means of livelihood, changing role of crops and cash,  no change in terms of marriage beliefs( no inter-cast marriages allowed still), the celebration of kumbhadeva on the peak of a hill

1.  Community cooking has grown over the years 
2.  Cross cultural participation has increased
3.  Kurumbas as a community are preferred to conduct the ceremonies amongst   other   communities, so they are really proud of being such an important part of other’s lives
4.  Land has changed as well as the land use pattern because of the extensive tea plantation 
5.  Before , they always used to have grains/millets at home for domestic use, now even though they sell crash crops to acquire provisions, its not sufficient because of the ever increasing rates of things in the regular economy
6.  Before, there wasn’t any fertilizer in the food, now even if they give money and buy food, it has chemicals
7.  Forest cover has changed due to rapid deforestation and tea plantation, it has caused migration of bees and other major changes in their lifestyle because they are basically forest people and their lives are intertwined with the forest and its produce.
-instant cash is not really that useful, since everything is so expensive
-Even though they are really attached to their old lifestyle, now wildlife conflict is really   difficult to deal with
-Movement/ travelling has increased outside the forest
- use of new technology like mobile phones and television which has made their lives convenient( they also realize the pros and cons of new age technology)

 -Their intervention has not only helped them with their livelihood by providing them regular wages, and new ways of sustaining themselves but also helped them revive their own history which they were slowly losing touch with
-They helped them see the use of beeswax and produce various by products with it which they used to go to waste before that
-revival of traditional culture is one of the biggest contributions ( *helped them regain their confidence in their culture and construct their own identities out of the traditional values)

-Only enough to sustain their basic needs( which is not sufficient like any of us
-If they had more than that , they would invest in their fields
-Send kids to better schools, than the govt. Provided (realize the importance of good education)
-Invest in personal/household objects
It has brought about a change which they like

There is a contradiction here, some of them feel like they were happier earlier, when they were just living off the forest, with introduction of money in their lives , it has made their life more difficult, while some of them feel that it has brought about changes which were needed and those changes make them happy and their lives more convenient. A shift in mindset can be seen.

They go through major risks to just obtain the honey, depending on their beliefs and traditions.
The process is really systematic and each person has a role to play.
Their lives revolve around the forest, and their beliefs, honey is everything to them.
They are seemingly comfortable with the transition in their lifestyle.
The resources are not enough.
In the effort to provide them with resources and employment, the government has changed the entire land use pattern, and the forest cover which is having major implications on their lifestyle and the forest which is intertwined.
Because the government provides them with a daily wage to work in the tea plantations, they prefer doing that than actually carrying out their traditional practice of honey hunting, because the government job gives them more security. As a result, slowly their traditional practices are being
forgotten. Keystone is trying its best to help them retain their identity which is attached to those forests and its produce and their traditional practices using different methods.
Marketing their forest produce which is locally processed as well is just one step towards providing them with a means to sustain their cultural identity as well as their livelihood.
How much change is good? If they want to let go of their cultural identity and merge with the rest of us, is that okay? Is convenience the only reason or lack of resources the major reason for their need to change? Is it fair to provide them with a means of livelihood which makes them forget their culture in place of nothing?


No comments:

Post a Comment