Where blessing and curse merge with life and death: Local beliefs in contemporary Lower Kuttanad
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The principal rationale behind the present research was to explore the relationship between the people and key resources, the land and the water, in the agrarian region known as Lower Kuttanad in the state of Kerala. In order to accomplish this aim, the main focus was set on the local beliefs in this region, related with the old practise of human sacrifices of agricultural labourers by their landlords, in the mud-bunds surrounding the paddy fields. The inhabitants' belief in the cycle of blessings and curses' and the process of death giving way to life' as in the case of human sacrifices, have been investigated and analysed. The study sheds light on the sense of place of the inhabitants and the factors that bind them to the region of Lower Kuttanad. The changes that have come up, in this once remote water-locked region in recent years, with more frequent contacts with the outside urban world, have also been explored. Qualitative methods have been used to gather data from the field. Both individual and group interviews have been conducted to extract evidence. In the backdrop of a series of failed developmental activities in the region, it is expected that the present study would provide a new way to approach the problems in the region, taking into account the sense of place of the inhabitants, which are often ignored while planning policies in Kuttanad.