Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Brimming Noyyal's Autobiography

  • River Noyyal at Perur
    “ 'Noyyal' People could have named me so, as I was smaller than all other rivers like Ganges, Yamuna, Godhavari, Cauvery and Krishna. Since ' Noy' literally means 'little thing' I must have been christened so, on account of my being a small river. However, various kings, who ruled Coimbatore, constructed several dams, tanks and canals for the purpose of agricultural in Coimbatore. Do you know a dam called Athi Rajaraja Vaaikal in Perur? It is from this dam I pass through 16 other canals irrigating the paddy fields of Coimbatore and drain into Periyakulam at Ukkadam.

    Despite people calling me 'Noyyal' , my name is 'Kanchimanathi' in many Shaivite literature with 'Kanchi' referring to a deity.

    Well, let me tell you where I originate from and which other waters join me in my journey.

    You should have heard about the hill Vellingiri in Coimbatore. Shouldn't you ? Being equaled with Kailash in North India, Vellingiri is the hill abode, which is visited by a great number of people, who are unable to visit Kailash. Pilgrims of Coimbatore hike through the seven hills of Vellingiri from the Tamil months Masi to Chithirai. On the seventh hill, they bath in a spring called 'Aandikalai' whose waters come down from a height of 6000 feet to join me at the foot of Vellingiri. Further, Siruvani water gushing from a spring in Porathi Hills hugs me up in the south. A cascade on Karimalai by name Kodunkai Pallam branching into Periyar and Chinnar, meets me at Chadivayal. At Muttam, water from the Neeliamman Canal drains into me and water from Maruthamalai flows into me at Vadavalli. Also, cascades in the forests of Anubavi, Mangarai, Palamalai and Kuridimalai come down the hills and join my journey through the woods.

    On my way through the forests, I used to come across tribal people like Malasars, Irulars and Kadars, who drank from me and worshiped me as a God. I know these tribal people were once peaceful inside their woods consuming honey and millet flour and worshiping their hill chieftain Muruga. However, in due course, they lost their land and produce when people living in plains intruded into their forests . Worse still, the government failed to protect their natural rights and culture, in the name of ' modernizing' them “

    Note: Noyyal did not know that she too would be a victim of modernity, at the time she was narrating her story in a book written over five decades in Coimbatore

    Compiled by : B Meenakshi Sundaram

    Source : Kanchimadhevi – An Autobiography of Noyyal - By Kovai Kizhar - 1957

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