miércoles, mayo 19, 2010

Quiero pertenecer a la tribu Toda

In the Nilgiri mountains, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, we found the ideal society: The Toda tribe.
Today, there are only 800 Toda. For untold centuries they've lived in these isolated mountains, where their solitude was undisturbed until the arrival of the English.

Certain ethnologists claim they're of Sumerian origin. They're also said to be descendants of Alexander's soldiers. But the Toda believe their mother goddess waved a magic wand and magnificent buffalo emerged from the river. Hanging from a buffalo's tail was a Toda.

No Toda girl is a virgin past the age of 13. Before puberty, they're entrusted to an experienced male to learn lovemaking. These lessons are part of their education, just like singing and cooking. Sex is a natural need, and throughout their lives, the Toda practice free love. The Toda language has no word for sex. They use the words "fruit" or "food."

Children don't go to school. Their education comes from their contact with nature. They often improvise collective poems like this one, which tells of our arrival in mocking fashion.

Toda houses are made of wood. The doors are always flush with the ground. Divided into 16 clans, the Toda are spread across their vast territory in small hamlets of a few houses.

Marriages are arranged from birth, but since there are fewer women than men, it's customary for a girl to marry several brothers of the same family. Since absolute sexual freedom prevails throughout the tribe, paternity is impossible to establish.
The oldest brother is the legal father.

A pastoral people, the Toda never wanted to farm. They're vegetarians, subsisting on milk from their buffalo, honey and wild fruits, and grains grown by neighboring tribes, whom they allow to cultivate some of their land. The land belongs to the community and cannot be sold.

The Toda have never waged war, never had weapons. They have no laws, leaders, or hierarchy. If a serious disagreement arises between two Toda, it's settled by a council of elders called for the occasion.

The Todas'buffalo are longhorns, unique in India. They're sacred and constitute the sole activity and sole wealth of the tribe. The Toda consider all other animals impure.

All the men, in turn, serve as priest for a year. The priest lives alone in the temple. No one can approach or touch him, and he must remain celibate. Each temple contains a sacred piece of metal, which is revered by the clan.

Every time a Toda woman meets a man from the tribe, she kneels and he touches his feet to her forehead. When a Toda dies, he goes neither to heaven nor hell. According to legend, he'll live forever in a wild valley that really exists, not far from their territory. His body and personal belongings
are burnt, and two of his buffalo are killed for company in his new world.

The Toda have contact with civilization, as this ceremony proves. It's the inauguration of an all-terrain medical van that will bring modern medicine to the villages. The Toda improvise a dance for the occasion. But civilization also means restrictions and encroachment. The English built a mountain resort in the middle of Toda territory, and it has grown. Indians have moved there from the plains for the richness of the soil. Industries have been created, and the Toda territory shrinks day by day. This government official explains that the Office of Water and Forest
will annex their grazing grounds to plant terebinth. It's a death sentence for the Toda. They'll be forced to abandon their traditional way of life. The Toda don't make a tragedy of it. They dance around the medical van as if to exorcise the civilization it symbolizes. They've seen many others since the English arrived. They've withstood missionaries, ethnologists, tourists and filmmakers. But this may be the final stroke. One might say, "What do 800 Toda matter anyway in a country of half a billion people?" But these 800 Toda are the last remnants of a free society that never knew war, hunger, prudishness, or injustice.

- De L'inde fantome. Serie documental sobre la India realizada por Louis Malle. 1969.

1 Invaluables opiniones:

Blogger Firmin dijo, aunque sin mucho sentido ...

un genial regalo. Gracias Guergana!

sáb. may. 22, 04:59:00 a.m.  

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