Kerala

Singing and dancing, they plant millet seeds

Tribespeople of Attappady singing and dancing while planting seeds as part of reviving the Kambalam festival.

Tribespeople of Attappady singing and dancing while planting seeds as part of reviving the Kambalam festival. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The tribespeople living in 190-odd hamlets on the hills of Attappady are excited and enthusiastic about the upcoming monsoon. They have revived a traditional agricultural festival named Kambalam by celebrating the pre-monsoon preparations for cultivation.

With the support of the Kudumbasree Mission, the tribespeople of Attappady have started planting the seeds of their traditional millet crops such as finger millet, little millet, foxtail millet, corn, kodo millet and pearl millet by invoking a festival mood.

They sang and danced while tilling their farmland, and planted seeds by merrily invoking their traditional custom. “Kambalam has been a custom observed by the Adivasis for centuries. It represents the significance of agriculture in their lives, their cultural identity, and their means of livelihood,” said Manoj B.S., assistant project officer of the Kudumbasree Mission in Attappady.

Although there are Irula, Muduga, and Kurumba tribes in Attappady, the Kambalam is celebrated largely by the Irula groups.

Saiju E., coordinator of Farm Livelihood, who helped the tribes-people revive the Kambalam festival, said that the tribal groups used to give great importance to song and dance as a means to mitigate the physical effort involved in tilling the land and planting the seeds.

The Kudumbasree Mission has tied up with the civic bodies of Agali, Sholayur and Pudur in the Kambalam revival as part of its Comprehensive Tribal and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ Development Programme.

Last week, the festival took place at Kallakkara hamlet in Sholayur panchayat and Kunnanchala hamlet in Agali panchayat. The hamlet at Nellipathy will witness the Kambalam on Tuesday.

Tribal leaders such as the Moopan and Mannukkaran Vandari will lead the Kambalam rites. Under the leadership of Mannukkaran, a puja will be held in the farmland before tilling it and laying the seeds in a religious fashion. “The tribes-people traditionally respected everything on earth, living or non-living,” said Mr. Saiju.

As many as 4,128 tribal women are involved in group farming in 1,035 hectares in 1,032 groups. They are laying stress on their traditional millet farming. Finger millet, little millet, foxtail millet, corn, kodo millet and pearl millet are their choices.

The Kudumbasree is marketing 32 tribal products under the brand Hill Value in Attappady. The Kudumbasree Mission has started the State’s first Millet Café at Pudur.

Kudumbasree officials said that Kambalam would continue in several hamlets until June 20.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 4:58:34 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/singing-and-dancing-they-plant-millet-seeds/article65476721.ece