“When I got married and came to Kerrair (Bhikapaty mund), most of the plants and trees are forest species here. But now, there are so many invasive species specially souk (Eucalyptus) that there is not even enough space for a rat to pass through. Even the traditional grass is not growing because of the eucalyptus trees. There is not even enough grass for the buffaloes here, they are going to the neighbouring villages like Iduvatti for grazing. Earlier even if it rained for short periods, like from 12 noon to 3 pm, all the mist would get cleared. Now there is continuous mist for many days. The rain has reduced a lot now, earlier there used to be three types of rain, kodai malai (summer rain), kuda malai (umbrella rain) and kerrai. Now, these types of rain are hardly there. Earlier, most of the livelihood options for Toda people were mostly related to buffaloes and buffalo herding because there were many buffalo herds. In those days, milk, ghee, buttermilk was all prepared at the village by us. Now, over 12-13 buffaloes have died due to reasons such as tiger attack. The situation has changed so much now, that if you are walking in front, there’s a possibility of a tiger attacking from the back. We are left only with 3 buffaloes now, and my brother has a few more. Our other source of income is Toda design shawls, stoles, which is not much but we make something of it. And we need to keep the tradition going. Toda embroidery is not taught at schools, if I stitch and embroider, then my child sees and learns through observation. Earlier, our designs were more limited, nowadays, we make many more varieties of designs.” Sugander Poo, Nilgiris .

Subscribe to the picture