Nation Current Affairs 09 Mar 2018 3-day tribute to Nan ...

3-day tribute to Nangeli who defied breast tax

Published Mar 9, 2018, 2:05 am IST
Updated Mar 9, 2018, 2:05 am IST
Nangeli’s paintings by T. Murali, on display at Cherthala. 	— DC
 Nangeli’s paintings by T. Murali, on display at Cherthala. — DC

ALAPPUZHA: The legend of Nangeli, the Ezhava woman who cut off her breasts in protest against the breast tax on low caste women  in the then princely state of Travancore in the 19th century, has come alive in pictures at  Mulachi-parambu at Cherthala where she lived. The three-day exhibition of three paintings by artist T. Murali is being held in the open ground in connection with the  Women’s Day. One painting shows Nangeli cutting her left breast with a sickle while another portrait depicts  her standing in a pool of blood spread in the pond of Padmanambha Swamy temple, the worshiping deity of Travancore royal family. The third one shows the dead body of Nangeli in front of the blindfolded rulers and tax collectors in the erstwhile Travancore state and nearby her parted breasts are kept in a plantain leaf.                 

According to the story,   in the early 19th century, Nangeli protested against the mulakkaram (breast tax system) and refused to uncover her bosom and pay the breast tax. When the village officer came to her home asking her to pay tax, she chopped off her breasts and presented them to him in a plantain leaf. She died the same day from loss of blood. Nangeli’s husband, Chirukandan, jumped into her funeral pyre and committed suicide.  Following this, a series of people’s movements were set off and the breast tax system was ultimately annulled in Travancore. The place she lived came to be known later as Mulachiparambu (land of the breasted woman).

“I wanted to convey the  message that Nangali’s blood finally ended up in the  pond of  Padmana-bhaswamy temple bec-ause the onus is on the Maharaja. Her blood represents that of all oppressed women. The blindfolded patriarchy is  functional in various forms in our society to snub women,” he says.      “Nangeli is the first feminist that Malayalis have seen,” he said and added that doing justice  to women is the only way to engineer a better society.

Location: India, Kerala


More From Current Affairs