Thurumbar, also known as Puthirai Vannar, is a minority low caste division in Tamil Nadu. Thurumbar are fighting for their rights in 2020 because the Government has mistakenly categorized them as ‘Adi Dravida’ (Dalits).

Every caste in India is recognized by its traditional occupation, e.g. Bramins are the temple priests, and Sathriyas are the army-men. Similarly, Thurumbar are the launderers and house servants of Dalits. There are over 5000 caste divisions in India.

“We are not Dalits”, says Kamal, a Thurumbar community leader. “We wash their clothes and serve in their homes. We are considered untouchable even by them”.

The struggles Thurumbar encountered were colossal 20 years ago. Allegedly, it was bad luck to see them during the daytime. Due to centuries of such dominance, the community lacks access to basic human rights. They need to receive exceptional status and special attention from the Government.

The majority of Thurumbar reside in huts, and any effort to improve them is curbed by high caste people. A Thurumbar community leader was attacked and verbally harassed for trying to run for the ‘Ward Member’ position which was designated for Dalits. The assailants were Dalits who blamed him for purportedly trying to surpass them. This incident happened in 2019 near the Villupuram District in India. Justice officials dismissed this act of caste-based violence as a “street fight”, and therefore reduced the severity of the verdict. Despite having strict rules and penalties against such clashes, the felons fell through the cracks.

SHAPE is fighting for the rights of such undocumented vulnerable groups. We need your support and love to endure.

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