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Submission for April Issue, 2023 (Vol. 4, No. 1) is going on. Last date for submission is 31 March, 2023.

GOD’S OWN LAND—ONCE DEVIL’S OWN HELL

 


GOD’S OWN LAND—ONCE DEVIL’S OWN HELL

-         K. V. Dominic (India)

 

Visitors call my State God’s own land

Climate, landscape prove it true

130 years back Swami Vivekananda

visited Kerala and called it “lunatic asylum”

True, it had a notorious past in 19th Century

Full of filth with caste system and social inequalities!

Untouchability at its oppressive peak everywhere

Majority of people belongs to lower caste

Men and women of lower caste denied

covering their chests before higher caste people

Low caste men and women had to pay tax to government

when they become labourers at fourteen

“Breast tax” and “Moustache tax”!

In 1803, Nangeli, a brave woman defied this law

And clothed her breasts along with many others

Infuriated, tax collector arrived

at her house with police to collect tax

Instead of placing money in a plantain leaf

she cut off her breasts with a sickle

and presented them to him!

Thus she sacrificed her life in protest of the law

Her husband Chirukandan jumped into

her funeral pyre committing suicide

Arattupuzha Velaydha Panicker,

another valiant youth sacrificed his life

while protesting against cruelty to low caste

This cruel law and practice prevailed till 1859

Lower caste people lived like slaves

Can’t worship in temples, education denied

Women sexually abused by high caste men

Cruel punishments to those who protested

 

But this State is God’s own land now

Literacy almost cent percent

Highest wages for labourers in India

Very few live in poverty

Caste, gender discrimination very little

Purely multicultural and secular

 

Kerala owes deep gratitude

to fights and protests led by

several spiritual-philosophic leaders:

Sree Narayana Guru, Chattampi Swamikal,

Ayyankali, Sahodaran Ayyappan,

Dr. Padmanabhan Palpu, Mannathu Padmanabhan,

V T Bhattthirippad, C V Kunjiraman,

Kumaran Asan, Vakkam Moulavi

and many other reformists 

****