Thiruvananthapuram

Resentment among Kani tribe mounting

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Forest Department lifts ban on women trekking the Agasthyarkoodam hills

Opposition to women trekking to the Agasthyarkoodam hills is mounting among the indigenous Kani (or Kanikkar) tribe in the region .

However, it is highly unlikely that the area will witness violent agitations like those in Sabarimala in protest against the entry of young women to the temple.

While the customs of the Kani community do not permit women beyond Athirumala, 6 km from the peak, there will be no such restrictions this year onwards.

However, trekkers will be denied access to places where pujas are conducted by the local community in accordance with the Kerala High Court judgment.

Expressing his dismay over the current turn of events, Agasthyarkoodam Temple Kanikkar Trust president and Adivasi Mahasabha State president Mohanan Triveni said that the Kani community would respect and also abide by the high court order.

Reluctanct

“Even while we cannot wholeheartedly back a decision that contravenes our customs and age-old tradition, we will not obstruct the path of women trekkers,” he said.

The community will, however, organise an ‘achaara samrakshna yajnam’ at Bonacaud the day the first group of women trekkers begin their trek.

A large number of women representing the Kanikkar tribe will take part in the programme.

Besides, the Forest Department, which has lifted the ban, has decided to fence the area where the tribespeople will offer their pujas.

While the pujas will commence under the aegis of the Agasthyarkoodam Temple Kanikkar Trust on January 15, special payers will be held during the Shivarathri puja that will be held on March 2, 3 and 4 in accordance with tribal customs.

A procession will be taken out from the Kottoor Mundani Madan temple as part of the rituals.

Ready to trek

G. Rejitha, State coordinator of the Sakhi Women’s Resource Centre, who is all set to undertake the trek, pointed out that while a particular group was well within its rights to observe their customs, they could not hinder or encroach upon the freedom of other people.

“We do not intend to disrupt their practices or access places where their rituals are undertaken. Trekking is our sole intention. We have been struggling against the discrimination meted out to women in trekking up the hills all these years,” she said.

Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Warden Y.M. Shajikumar said two women guards will be posted at the Athirumala camp, where the trekkers halt overnight.

A large shed will be erected here with the portion being reserved for women. Besides, 32 guides will be deployed during the trekking season.

Insure trekkers

The Forest Department will also insure all trekkers at no additional charge.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:05:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/resentment-among-kani-tribe-mounting/article25935222.ece

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