THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Alcohol ruins a person, his family and in the case of tribals, it destroys a way of life.
For years now, since the beginning of 1990s, when people began committing suicides in tribal settlements, the tribals had realised where they were headed to.
But it is for the first time that the young tribals belonging to different tribal groups have set out together to take the message against alcohol to settlements across the state.
The 15-member group began their journey on January 16, from Kasargod, reached the capital on Thursday and on Friday they concluded their ‘kala jatha’ at the Gandhi Bhavan compound.
The Kerala Adivasi Forum, which is heading the ‘kala jajha’, completed its tour in 71 tribal settlements in the state. ‘’Alcoholism is one of the grave issues tribal settlements face. Because of which, our men have become useless, they fall ill, their children turn orphans, their women are made single-mothers and their natural assets are stolen by outsiders.
Men are lured by foreign liquor and they fall prey to it. We are taking a message to them to stay away from the bad influence or get uprooted totally from their lands,’’ said Raghavan Adukam, the kala jatha coordinator.
According to him, liquor is an easy tool of exploitation.
The tribals are offered bottles in exchange of a day’s labour. The ‘kattu kallu’ or the indigenous toddy made of certain plants or fruits in tribal settlements ensured good health but this is not the case with foreign liquor. As a result of alcoholism among men, the children are not able to study, he said.
The members of the kala jatha, through a musical and theatre form, explain in detail the problems faced by tribal settlements.
They tell the officialdom that, spending big amounts on tribal population is not effective.
Our men are told that their dwellings are not clean, their food is not healthy or their clothing is bad when actually it is indigenous to them. This has to change,’’ Raghavan said.
The team members are Sanjeevan Kasargod (jatha captain), Sasi M Kasargod, Joji Mathew, Girija, Rameshan, Gopakumar, Nidhin, Retna, Santi,
Rajani, Ravi, Suresh, Shameer and Savitha. The members belong to Koraga, Malavettuvan and other tribal groups.