The Class 4 boy Sakthivel was dressed with turban and bedecked with numerous garlands and was made to ascend the symbolic “throne,” where he was given a scepter signifying his power at a meeting in Mullimaduvu tribal hamlet in Jamunamarudur block in the Jawadhu Hills of Tiruvannamalai district recently.
A senior official with knowledge of tribal traditions said, “the move is aimed at tribals reclaiming their lost power and glory as they were given this position by the British, who divided the hills into various ‘nadus’ for easy adminstration. When tribals followed this practice, the hills had peace and there was no sandalwood smuggling. But, once politics intervened, the hills lost everything and the nattar his clout.” A tribal leader seeking anonymity said, “the position is hereditary. Sakthivel’s father, Muthusamy, should have been the headman, but his horoscope was not benevolent. So, it was decided to make Sakthivel the headman. However, Muthusamy will act as regent till Sakthivel attains 30 years of age.” Sakthivel will have power to ostracise locals and in marriages, he will hand over the ‘thali’ to the girl.