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The Irular of Northern Tamil Nadu An Indigenous Community and Their Traditional Knowledge

Author Name: Manjula Chinnadurai | Format: Paperback | Genre : Educational & Professional | Other Details

Indigenous communities are identified with their special way of living and harmonious relationship with the local flora and fauna, but unfortunately, this rich knowledge and skills of nature are rapidly getting eroded in a globalized and increasingly uniform world. The Irulars are one of the iconic tribal communities of Tamil Nadu, who are well known in the northern districts of the state for their snake and rat-catching skills. They also have another facet to their traditional knowledge, which is the deep understanding of the local ecosystem, the plants and the animals, and a life lived through sustainable utilisation of bioresources. This book largely details their traditional knowledge of healing through plants to treat a gamut of ailments and their understanding of diseases, poisonous bites, food and medicinal plants. The book also gives some details on their culture, based on experiential and historical information. Many indigenous communities are at crossroads – the inevitable necessity of embracing the changes brought in by modern progress and the reality of losing their biocultural heritage. It is important for all of us to also learn and appreciate the value of harmonious existence on earth, respecting all interweaving life from such wise indigenous communities. 

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Manjula Chinnadurai

The author, Manjula Chinnadurai, has been working in the non-governmental sector (NGO) in the field of biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge, livelihoods and gender. After a Master’s degree in Ecology, she worked with an indigenous community, the Irular, on their traditional knowledge of healing, for about eight years in an NGO on conservation of their knowledge and plants. During that period, understanding the rich knowledge of the community regarding the local flora and fauna and the increasing knowledge erosion amongst the group, she decided to delve deeper into their healing system through a PhD. Later, with the intention to firstly acknowledge the ecological and healing knowledge of the Irular amongst other people, the thesis was worked into a book form. Most importantly, the Tamil version is to encourage the Irular youth to continue towards the progress to be part of the larger society, but at the same time conserve their rich biocultural heritage.