|State Name:||Tamil Nadu|
|Population As Of:||2001|
|Area Magnitude:||sq. km|
Vettaikaranpudur is a village located 16 kilometres from Pollachi in Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu, India. It is 2 kilometres from Anaimalai, which is famous for its Arulmigu Maasani Amman Temple http://www.covai.com/temples/masani.htm. The villages around Vettaikaranpudur are Sethumadai, Kaliapuram, Odayakulam, Devipatinam. Vettaikaranpudur is enroute to Topslip (Anaimalai Tiger Reserve) from Pollachi.
Vettaikaranpudur is well connected by road to Topslip, Pollachi, Palani, Palaghat. The route from Pollachi to Topslip is very scenic year around and especially after the Ambarampalayam river the scenery gets better. The aerial convergence of foliage from trees on either side of the road near Thathur pirivu is spectacular. The drive from Vettaikaranpudar to Sethumadai has shady Tamirind trees planted 60 years back by V.K Palanisamy gounder. He was also one of the main architects of the now very famous PAP project. The roads are in reasonable order. Frequent government and private buses ply between Pollachi and this place. It takes approximately 30 minutes to travel by bus from Pollachi. The nearest airport is the Coimbatore International Airport, which is 60 kilometres away. The nearest railway station is the Pollachi railway station.
The scenic beauty of this village has made it an ideal outdoor location for the filming of several Tamil movies. Several block busters including Muratu Kaalai (Rajinikanth), Thevar Magan (Kamalhasan), Chinna Gounder (Vijayakanth), Thavasi (Captain Vijayakanth), Suryavamsam (Sarathkumar) were filmed here. Several personalities from the movie world including Suhasini have bought prime land in this area. Famous personalities from Bollywood like Aamir Khan, Shahrukh khan, Aishwarya Rai have been here. One of the first movies filmed here was a song sequence for the movie ' Baga Pirivinai', in which the legend Sivaji Ganesan & Sarojadevi starred in. Ironically the most popular actor MGR never made a film here. Initially filming was permitted free of cost by the naive farmer. However in the modern times, the now well informed farmer charges day rates for such activity. Apart from such movies latest movies such as Kandaen Kadhalay and illayathalpathy Vijay's movie Vettaikaran was shot in this location.
Tamil is the most common spoken language. As this village is near Kerala few people also speak Malayalam. Very few people speak Kannada. Saree is the preferred dress for ladies. Thavani/Chudidhar is worn by the young. Older men prefer to wear a well ironed/starched white/cream coloured shirt and white Waisti (Dhothi). The very old also don a white towel hanging from the shoulder. Cotton is the most popular material for clothing. The rich travel by car and also some have utility vehicles (Jeeps/SUVs etc.). Few decades ago, low bonnet Jeeps painted in Military green/black with an open roof were very popular. The Jeeps were fitted with a spade or axe to the sides to give a rough look. Late Motiappa Gounder had a good collection of classic cars including a cute Morris minor.
There are many communities (castes) in this village. Most of the people include their community name as the last name like Gounder, Mudaliar, Chettiar etc., This practice of identifying the name to a caste is dying with the younger generation (limited only to wedding invitations) demonstrating level headedness and respect for an individual irrespective of the caste. Even today in the event of a social dispute, matters are settled in the presence of an elderly person with minimal usage of the constituted legal system. The elderly are well respected and the young prefer to stand in their presence.
Farmers earlier were in an isolated state living in remote farms and now are better connected to the world with the advent of the Internet and mobile phones.
Traditionally the farming community of this village relied on the cultivation of rice, sugarcane, cereals and peanut. It was during the early eighties that a coconut revolution in the region was triggered by the late V. Janakaraj gounder. Since then the entire region has become one of the largest coconut growing hubs in India. Vanilla cultivation has gained popularity of late. The enormous wealth inherited/generated and the lavish lifestyle led by several landlords and their connections with the film doyen Sivaji Ganesan is well known in Tamil Nadu.
Wealthy landlords have built palatial houses and live close to the farms. Several are designed to entertain guests with bar facilities, games room, play house etc. Houses are built combining traditional and contemporary architecture.
The farmers adopt a very forward-looking approach towards agriculture technologies. There are many farms that follow INTEGRATED farming system and ORGANIC techniques. A model vermi-compost farm and use of ORGANIC farming techniques is that of V Chinnasamy (located opposite to Precot Mills factory - Devipattinam on the way to Sethumadai / Topslip).
Coconut farming results in several by-products which can be used as organic soil conditioners such as coco peat, cut fiber, coconut shell chips. Farmers have exploited this area and have established companies such as Ecots Sancta and the products are exported to several countries.
A fertilizer agency started by late V. A. Somasundaram Chettiar and succeeded by his son S.Gunasekaran has been providing the village needs of fertilizer and pesticides for more than 30years. Labourers work in the agriculture farms on a daily wage basis. Everyday pickup and drop services are provided with the use of tractors and minidors. Few stay in the farms and work as full-time employees. One of the gravest concerns in the modern times is the dwindling numbers of farm labour. Economic boom in cities like Tirupur and Coimbatore have attracted a majority of them to those places. Daily wages have increased considerably and in some cases an advance has to be paid to ensure that they come for work the next day.
Though inflation has caught up with all other commodities, the price of a coconut has remained the same for over a decade (Rs-3.5 to 5.5). Abundant supply, change in the dietary habits of the modern generation to pizzas, burgers, North Indian dishes, change in the way a woman presents her hair (shampooed and bouncy; whereas coconut oiled and neatly combed is a thing of the past) have all contributed to this problem. However free electricity and no tax on agricultural income have kept the farming community going. In addition several agricultural loans worth millions obtained by the already wealthy are generously written off when a new government takes over. The current situation however is not sustainable and integrated farming and novel techniques as mentioned in the previous paragraph are actively being pursued.
With the booming real estate prices in Coimbatore/Chennai and uplift of the modern economy, there is a big demand for farms in this area. A majority are procured to regularize income (turn black to white) or show losses in tax returns and a few smaller farms are bought as a life style choice. It is economically nonviable to generate profitable income when procured at the current price.
Administration of the village is through the Panchayat. All streets in the village are named and clear signs are displayed as in the developed world. The village has a primary school and a high school. A lot of students from the neighboring villages travel to Vettaikaranpudur for high school studies. The high school is currently undergoing a major uplift. Forest Hill academy is a popular English medium school in this village. There are several private schools such as Mahatma Gandhi English medium school available in this village. A government veterinary hospital cares for the well being of various domestic animals of which cattle being predominant. The public library acts as a knowledgeable resource. Kala mandapam is a club where inter state volleyball competitions used to be fiercely held. The village at one time even had the luxury of a Tennis court.
A government hospital exists for the common public. Alva hospital run by Dr. K. S. Alva caters to the needs of this village and the few hundreds surrounding it. Ananda Stores, a textile shop started by late V.C.Sivanandam Chettiar and now managed by V.K.Kanakasabapathy has been in existence for over 50 years.
Sasikala tea stall and Bonda Naicker tea stall have been in existence for over 35 years providing 24/7 services to the local community. Senbaga theatre and Abirami theatres have provided a means of entertainment for the thousands who toil the fields everyday. A petrol station next to the high school owned by Sabapathy Gounder has been in existence for several years. Several Nadar and Chettiar maligai (grocery) shops are present. The village has cable TV facilities and of course a wine shop. The village has some fine gold smiths. ICICI bank (formerly Bank of Madura) and South Indian bank have branches in this village. ATMs of ICICI bank and Axis bank are available. Mobile (cell) phone reception is good (two communication towers have been commissioned in the medu).
The telephone exchange in Anaimalai caters to this village as well. A community hall owned by the Late Kittu Gounder is used by the village residents for small occasions. A marriage hall in medu is used for marriages and other functions. A Hindu burial ground exists near the Azhukku swamiyar temple by the river, although the wealthy prefer using the incinerator at Pollachi. Weekly shandy (sunthai) is scheduled every Saturday. A post office exists. The nearest police post is the Anaimalai police station.
Rice is the main food. "Kamban soru" and "Rai Kali/koolu" are very popular during the summer months. "Kedaai vettu" (religiously slaughtered goat) and "Kochai kozhi" (game bird) are to treat family, "Pangalis" (cousins) and friends. "Elaneer" (tender coconut) "Neer moru" (skimmed butter milk), "Nongu" (palm fruit) are consumed in large amounts during summer.
During the old days when hunting of wild life was permissible, "Maan" (deer) and "Panni" (wild boar) meat were very popular. "Aaathu meen" (river fish) and "Kulathu meen" (lake fish) are a rare delicacy. During "Guru poojai" in Azhukku Swamiyar temple, a very special "Kanji" (cold cereal broth) is served with chutneys. Mobile bonda/bajji (Tempura made using green plantain/egg/egg plant/onion) stalls appear in the medu (opposite to Ananda Stores) during the evenings and serve local people hot fast food. Of course the mobile ice cream man (kone ice, kuchi ice, paal ice, semia ice, grape ice) and the "Soan papadi" man (green jar/buttermax light/tingtingting) deserve mention.
During Pongal season, "Motchai" (a type of bean), "Poosanikai" (pumpkin), "Arasanikai", "Senai kilangu" (a tuber) are prominent vegetables. Exotic fruits such as "Nagapalam", "Seenipuliyankai", "Nellikai" (Gooseberries), "Elanthapalam" are sold door to door. In the bygone days, "Kambar cut", "Jow Mittai", "Thaen mittai", "Kadalai barupi", "Kadalai urundai", "Elantha vadagam" were favourite snacks among the children and sold by vendors in front of school's. As the Kerala border is near, "Kallu" (Toddy-a fermented alcoholic brew) is within vicinity.
Close to the river, is a shrine for "Azhukku" Swamiyar. Legend has it that this swamiyar (holy man) lived for several hundred years. The shrine is frequently visited by N. Rangaswamy, the present Chief Minister of Pondicherry. The temple has undergone a major uplift recently, primarily as a result of a major contribution provided by N.Rangaswamy. The village has several temples, Murugan temple, Maari amman temple, Kamaatchi amman temple (Chettiar Kamatchi amman temple), Vinayagar temple, Perumal temple. Various people from the village visit Kaliamman temple in Sethumadai on religious occasions and theertham (holy water) from the well (which never dries) within the temple is brought back to their homes. There is no church or mosque in this village as the population is predominantly Hindus. The few Muslims and Christians in this village visit Anaimalai for religious worship. One other character lived in the village, Raghavan, who was mentally challenged and is considered by certain believers as a saint. He had a psychiatric disorder, travelled with a bag collecting thrash.
Between the months of November to January, temporary shrines of Lord Ayyapa are erected in various temples such as Mariamman temple, Murugan temple etc. These shrines are built using bamboo and woven coconut leaves. Bajanai (group of people singing in praise of god with traditional music instruments) is conducted in Vinayagar temple on Friday evenings. In the month of December (Tamil- Margazhi), Bajanai processions are held on the streets during early morning hours wherein songs from the famous Thiripavai & Thiruvenpaavai are sung. Till the nineties Pulavar Mayilswamy conducted this bajanai for kids on this month.
Volley ball has been a liked sport. V.K Sundaraswamy gounder started a state level Volley ball torunament 30 years ago at Kala mandapam. V.A. Muthumanickam gounder was a popular player. Several people from this village have made a name in Rekhla race such as V.K Sundaraswamy gounder, V.S.Senthil Gounder, V.Chinnsamy Gounder, V.A.Thiagu, V.J. Thiagu, V.M.Ravichandran and V.T.Parthiban. Rekhla race is very prestigious and has gained popularity covering a belt of 140 km from Erode Dharapuram district to Palakkad in Kerala. Participation has crossed over 100 pairs and the prize money is also in ounces of gold. It is held in over 15 places in a year attracting feverish participation and the (participants / audience) include over 10000 people, sometimes bringing a village or town to a standstill during the event. With such popularity this event is crying for attention in terms of stadia like cricket (crores being spent) but this passionate farmer sport has to find takers for it to survive as it transcends cultural barriers and puritan celebration, standardized rules and evolving technologies to keep it abreast with the times.
Cock fight and ram fight were prominent during the olden days and involved betting. But animal rights issues have almost brought these sport to extinction.
Cricket matches are played during the weekend at the high school. Ram Annan had been a key organizer for several years. Cricket matches played between Vettaikaranpudur and Anaimalai are feverish and can be compared to India versus Pakistan.
In the bygone days, hunting used to be a popular sport and often the hunted wild life were paraded on the street. Families owned several dogs for hunting purposes and included the breeds "Kombai" and "Rajapalayam". Games played by children such as "Gundu" (marbles), "Gilli", "Rani Kal" (stones) have been substituted with cricket these days. In the olden days "Rummy" (13 cards) was played at Kala Mandapam. As with sport anywhere in the world, some level of gambling exists here as well. Kids playing "Gundu" gamble on cinema pictures or match box labels. Very few have also ventured into horse racing and V.S.Udaya Kumar Gounder and late Collector Thangavel Gounder being among them.
Pongal in Vettaikaranpudur is a must see. The week long festivities include "Maattu pongal" and "Poo Pongal" which are very colourful. Mattu pongal is the farmers way of acknowledging the hard work put in by his cattle during the year. Cattle are washed in the morning and the horns of bullocks are beautifully painted. Bullocks are adorned with vibhuthi (holy ash), sandalwood paste and kumkum. Bells are tied to the bullocks. Bullock carts are decorated with neem leaves and flowers and paraded on the streets. Patti's are organised in the farms in the evening and several guests are invited. The cattle are fed with rice offerings after worship and a peculiar sound is made by people around . The celebrations often go late into the night.
In Medu (heart of the village) on Poo pongal day several characters lighten up the spirit of the festival. "Kummi" dancers from far come to perform. "Rattan dhuri" (mobile roller coaster) is an attraction for the kids. Girls and women are beautifully dressed and in unison go to the river to offer their prayers in the evening."Adi nombu" is unique as an organic toy gun made of bamboo "Paputaankulal" in combination with organic bullets (seeds of a plant) yield a powerful sound.
"Divali" (Deepavali)is colourful as everyone in the village takes an oil bath with "Arappu" (organic shampoo) and "Seevakai" (organic conditioner) early in the morning and don their new clothes. With the availability of shampoo sachets in every nook and corner, Arappu and Seevakai usage has declined considerably. Sweets such as "Je-lay-pi", "Laddu", "Mysorepakku" and snacks such as "Murukku" and "Olapakkavadai" are distributed among cousins on this day. Fireworks commence during the night and continue towards the early hours of the morning. Many travel to Pollachi to watch a new Kollwood release. The local theatres also screen a recent movie.
With education taking prominence over agriculture in recent years, the highly educated younger generation from this tiny but affluent place are now distributed worldwide including the USA, UK, Dubai. The "well to do" take pride in sending their children to expensive boarding schools in the Nilgiris. A majority of the youngsters seek placement in Pollachi, Coimbatore and Chennai. The recent commissioning of a few textile mills has supported local employment.
Several names from this village have made it big through education as follows:
The educational course of choice in the modern times is IT/Engineering. There are numerous people from this village working in IT industry all over the world. Some include
Marriages are mostly of the arranged type and often within the same caste and is commonly performed among cousins so that the wealth/inheritance remains within the family. Historically as anywhere, there was a lot of male dominance; however in the modern times "education" has brought a sense of equality in both gender and caste. Mrs. Sudha Thiagu was elected as the second woman Panchayat President for the village. Bonded labour has also been abolished in many farms.
The older types of "Kaatai vittu kallu kudichalum gounden, gounden thaan" (If a goundan sells the property and waste the money in drinking toddy, he won't loose the characteristics of a Goundan) have been succeeded by the modern generation who are not only highly educated but are also shrewd in handling their finances appropriately. The downside of this being the loss of that distinct Vettaikaranpudur "fearless hunter" instinct (aruvala eduthomna, satavarla adicha) and the pure country naiveness - "nangayellam pattikadu appa" (we are all from the rural area, we don't know what's happening in the rest of the world), nangellam sani valichi kottaravangathena (we are nothing but barn cleaners), nangellam masappasankappa (excuse us for our limited knowledge, we can't understand complexities), nangellam mattu pochula kol etha thaan laiki (we use primitive means of transport).