NILGIRIS: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday visited Muthanadmund, a Toda tribal hamlet near Thalaikundha in the Nilgiris, and interacted with tribal community members, visited their temples, and got a taste of their hospitality with some traditional food.
Fresh from a court relief staying his conviction in the Modi surname case, the Wayanad MP was on his way to the constituency in Kerala when he stopped at Muthunadumandu.On his first visit to the hill station, Rahul was presented with a traditional shawl upon his arrival from Coimbatore by road.
The tribals, which are one of the earliest tribes of the Nilgiris, took the Congress leader to their two native temples and explained their traditional practises and their culture and food habits. Tribal women and their leaders offered ‘paalsadham’ (made of buffalo milk, jaggery and cooked rice), the traditional food of Todas, to Rahul Gandhi.
The youth of the village performed lifting of ilavatta kal (spherical stone) to demonstrate their strength. On the way to Wayanad by road from Coimbatore Airport, the leader also met tea plantation workers and hugged one of the DMK women cadres at Aravenu near Kotagiri.
“We come to know about Rahul’s visit to our mund only on Thursday. We have taken him to two of our temples and explained our tradition. We have been lighting our temple lamp only using ghee made from a buffalo dedicated to the temple. We don’t use matchsticks and we light the lamp by rubbing two tree barks,” Yasri Kuttan, a Toda man, told TNIE.
He also said that as per tradition, women members are not allowed along with him inside the temple.
Rahul also met Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot who flew aboard Soyuz T-11 on 1984 as part of the Soviet Interkosmos Programme, at Ketti near Ooty on Saturday.
P Srikanth vice-president, toda tribal welfare association, Nilgiris district, told TNIE, “We have been requesting the state government to protect and increase the population of buffaloes which is our main demand for over a decade.”This will improve our livelihood and protect our culture,” he said.