by Bellie Jayaprakash
Freedom from occupation of the land
by aliens. Celebrations.
But what about freedom
from exploitation of gender and hunger
from fights over caste and religion
from inequality based on creed and region
India, my great land of legends
when are you going to be really FREE?
Freedom Struggle in the Nilgiris
Notwithstanding its remoteness and the influence of the British, the Nilgiris played its due role in the freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to the hills from Jan 31 to Feb 4, 1934 stoked the freedom call. Gandhians like Rev.C.F.Andrews and Marjorie Sykes further encouraged the movement among the locals. The house arrest of Sarat Chandra Bose, brother of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose in 1942 in Coonoor and his address in public meetings influenced many inhabitants of all classes.
Mrs.Anne Besant, George Arundale and B.P.Wadia were interred in Col.Olcott’s house in Ooty from June to September 1917 for their role in Indian Home Rule movement.
The freedom struggle not only touched the most numerous Badagas, it also equally influenced the small community of Todas on the hills, who composed a remarkable song to welcome Gandhi to the hills.
O wise man!
The like of you has been neither made nor born!
Who is was that acquired learning first? Mahatma.
Who it was that acquired wisdom first? Mahatma.
Who it was that behaved like a father to all? Mahatma.
Who it was that released all men from fetters? Mahatma.
Who it was that fought with the tiger? Mahatma.
Who it was that did what he considered right? Mahatma.
Toda songs have both a lyrical component as well as a melodic component. The songs consists of several lines. The essential component of each line is a ‘konh’ which comes from the memory of the senior Todas describing various significant events on the hills.