Harigovindan is a Paudwal, no he has no relation to the famed bollywood singer, he, rather belongs to a caste of drummers and is featured in last Sunday’s episode of the Dewarists. I have never seen or heard his music but I know of his instrument, the Edakka, a beautiful percussion instrument from Kerala that the West and even our own country knows little about.
|Edakka: Drums with emotions
What is important is however, how close my own family’s story is to Hari’s. Welcome to the picturesque God’s own country, only the dark truths is so far away from fiction that to a typical Keralite born and brought up outside, who spent her summer months trying to understand the mystical land of her forefathers, the fiction sometimes breaks down into harsh realities.
I was born into the more privileged parts of the ancient Kerala caste system, we are the Kshatriya equivalent of the Vedic culture. But the Dravidian system, more ancient than the Aryan one, was one of matriarchal societies. Now to most of the women I have met in my lifetime, this brought a huge amount of respect, but people do not realize how strict the real system was. Brahmins built the matriarchal society essentially to keep a lot of wives from other castes like mistresses and essentially not give their children the same right a true Brahmin child got. Thus, thanks to a crazy social system my father (a Kshatriya) couldn’t be present for his own father’s funeral.
The matriarchal system is the white washed face of a state with the highest cases of domestic violence reported in the country. It is the irony in a state that boasts of literacy and lacks education.
Hari’s story is similar; he attempted to sing his music at the Angadipuram temple and wasn’t allowed to because it was meant for a higher caste of musicians. Those who believe the caste system is dead and gone only need a brief visit to Guruvayoor, where the family of the Samarinds (Cochin’s royal family) is given special entry privileges or even at the temple in my village where we view the annual festivities on a raised platform and the rest of the “common” village is on the ground.
The punishments of our ancient history eventually caught up with us, with reservations and hard work helping the lower castes achieve so much more than our families. Nowadays, all movies and serials show Thampurans (our caste) as the big bad wolves of the caste system. Little do people know that it was a system of tyranny and ours was but one small part in the century old traditional systems.
Hari went on to build a temple for his father’s Edakka, world’s only temple dedicated to percussion instruments, no labourers came forth to build as it was against the caste system, no government funding as he isn’t exactly a “backward caste”. This is the current state in “God’s own country”, god left the country long time ago when a son was shunned from lighting his own father’s funeral pyre.
This week’s Dewarists Episode: