Cultures of Food – Indigenous Practices of the Palani Hills

The INTACH Kodaikanal chapter with the support of ICH Division undertook a project on – ‘the people of Palani hills’. The report for the same was submitted. The report has been written by Ms. Nishita Vasanth and Priyashri Mani, INTACH Kodaikanal. It is a well written account of various aspects covered under the project with special reference or focus on the intangible cultural heritage (ich) elements of the people of Palani hills.

The areas covered under this report include the details of the origin and historical evolution of the people of Palani hills, their livelihood, sustenance strategies, their heritage and traditional practices. The communities which have been covered under this project include the indigenous Paliyans and Puliyans, the Mannadiars, Arunththiyars, Aasaris, Telugu Chetniks, PirimaliKallars, Sri Lankan repatriates and others. The report is illustrated with important maps, images, datasheets strategically placed, to help the reader in understanding the complexities revolving around the subject. Not only has data from various relevant organisations has been procured and used but there is data collated on ground (over an eight month period 60 villages were studied) through personal interviews, videos and photo documentation.

In the chronological order of study, the report describes the Dolmen people; the earliest inhabitants of this place. This was followed by a study of Paliyans – the hunter-gathering community and the Puliyans. The Paliyans celebrate ‘Boothanacciamman Festival’ a dance festival which goes on till late night.  The Paliyans and other communities too share similar cultural traits. There is folklore about the origin of Puliyans and formation of ‘Periyur’ (big village). It is related to ‘ManjamNeeradumVali’ spring incident which led to the formation of various communities. The report has several other references to folklore, customs and rituals of several other communities.


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