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TRIBALS IN OOTY OF THE NILGIRIS

 

TODA TRIBE IN OOTY

On this earth, in India, Todas, a primitive tribal group, are found only in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu state, As per 2001 census, the total population of the Todas is 1560(757 males and 803 females) and their literacy rate is 76.87 per cent. Todas are known by several names like Todas, Tuduvans, Toras and Todar. The name Toda is supposed to be derived from the word tud, the sacred ththudr tree (Meliosma simplicifolia) of Todas.

The Government of India identified the Toda as one of the six Primitive Tribal Group (PTGs) of Tamil Nadu. Todas speak a dialect, which is an independent language of the Dravidian family. The Toda village is called a mund, means a herd of cattle's and people. Toda mund is usually a collection of five to nine half-barrel shaped huts, each hut with a small doorway, measuring only 32 inches by 18 inches. Besides the huts, the mund has another hut with a smaller doorway, called tirieri or dairy temple. In the vicinity of the mund is the buffalo open shelter, called as pen. The uniqueness of their half-barrel shaped huts given speculations to researchers regarding their origin ranged from Rome to Sumeria. But the Toda adult informants always assured that they had always been on the Nilgiri hills. The traditional garment of a Toda is known as put-kuli, a thick white cotton cloth with red and blue strips which is embellished further embroidery by the Toda women is thrown around the body by men and women like "Roman Toga" (shawl). Metal ornaments, known as "Toda jewelry" is worn by both men and women. Todas are traditionally lacto-vegetarians.

The Toda community is divided into two endogamous divisions known as teivaliol and tartharol, which is further divided into fourteen exogamous clans. They avoid marital alliance within a clan. In the past, the Toda followed adelphic type of polyandry, a form of plural marriage, but now they strictly follow monogamy. The life cycle rituals are markedly different from other tribes, during the dead body cremation, they sacrifice a buffalo. Rules of inheritance restricted to the sons only. Todas are purely a pastoral people. The car of buffaloes and the duties connected with the dairy formed the sole work of the Toda men. The Toda tribal council is not permanent body but only a group of elderly Toda Males selected by common consent for a particular dispute. The Government of Tamil Nadu, recently included a Toda man ad a Member in its: Tribal Development Board". The Toda concept of religion is associated with a highly ritualized dairy and buffalo- cult. They have priests to perform rituals. The goddess tokisya is honored by them as their principal spirit. Todas have unique folklore embedded with variety of songs, proverbs, myths etc. and their traditional dance is an exclusively ceremonial. A few Todas have embraced to Christianity. Todas who are living nearer to towns have joined main stream development. A few of them are working in the Government and private sectors. Anthropologists consider Todas as internationally popular ethnic community, because of their rare cultural traits like polyandry, social paternity through bow and arrow ceremony, vegetarianism, buffalo sacrifice, priesthood, sacred diaries etc.,

 

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