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Society & Social Issues > Lifestyle

Nadars Struggle for Rights of Public Water Tanks IV

the sentiment of the higher castes against the Shanars is not of the same uniformity of harshness in all villages and is modified by the factors as to the well being practically a tank with steps leading into it, the existence of only one drinking water well in a village, as to the well being a deep wide one irrigating a garden and whose water is, therefore continually baled out and purified and so on. Bat there is no evidence on the defendant's side that in any other of the numerous villages to which the evidence relates, a public tank on Poramboke site has ever been reserved for the higher castes alone though in the case of public well, such reservation is not unusual. We have had the evidence recorded in this case as to the custom in the neighbouring villages fully discussed and analyzed before us.

The evidence is wholly confined to wells and to private tanks and throws no light on the right, prima facie existing in all castes including lower castes to the use of a public tank into which cows can walk to quench their thirst.

The Shanars have got their own oorani (Kalkulam oorani) near their quarters, in 1875, and it was noted that the plaint oorani was used by the higher castes, in 1885, the Shanars wanted to bathe in the tank after a death pollution and to take water from the tank to be used in washing the corpse but were prevented from doing so and there was a riot, (d) about 1906, a Shanar household took water for neermalai (bathing of corpse), evidently from the well inside the tank.

There was a case in 1885 also about this well, that the Nadars had no necessity to use it as they have their own tank and wells near their quarters and that they should be bound over to keep the peace.

The Shanars have, no doubt, a tank of their own near their quarter of the village. It is probable, therefore, that unless the water therein dries up (the evidence being to the effect that it holds water for only about six months in the year), they never go near the plaint tank to water their cattle or to fill their pots with water for human consumption. But this cannot deprive them of their common law right to the use of a public tank when it is of not inconsiderable size.

It has left the impression in my mind that the higher castes (as a whole) did not intend in 1885 or 1891 to deny the right of the Shanars to use the plaint tank water on ordinary occasions but only to bathing in it when they were under death pollution. (The higher castes failed in their attempt of 1891). In another neighbouring village (Puliyuran village), the Pillais, while admitting that the Shanars had a right to bathe in a tank, (fed by a large spring) on all ordinary occasions, attempted in 1903 to prevent the Shanars from bathing while under death pollution.

Bsram B


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