Story of Devikulam

Meaning of the village:
”Devi” means Goddess and “Kulam” means pond, the name of the village means Goddess of the Pond, the village name can also described locally as meaning ‘Village Blessed by God’.

Address of the village:
Devikulam Village, Nadukuppam Panjayat, Marakkanam Block, Tindivanam Taluk, Vilupurram District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Population:
There are a total of 358 people (86 families) living in Devikulam.

Households:
Within Devikulam household occupancy is generally between 4 - 7 people. Houses are mostly hut styles with either cement or mud floors, walls made from mud or burnt brick and the roofs are either thatched or made from palm leaf. Houses generally have thatched bathrooms without a toilet and open defecation is the common practice.

There is also a group housing scheme in which houses were provided by the Government to residents of the Schedule Caste. Such houses are made from burnt brick and concrete. The group houses built under this government scheme are in urgent need of maintenance.

Most households also have some livestock; either cattle or goats and chickens.

Occupation:
The main occupations in Devikulam are farming and agricultural labour. Some people are also employed as prawn farming labourers in surrounding farms or by the local fishing industry. Paid employment generally occurs on an irregular basis for Devikulam residents.

Language:
Tamil

Religion:
Hindu

Castes:
There are 2 major castes in Devikulam: the Scheduled Class (SC - formerly Dalit) and the Most Backward Class (MBC). The MBC live in the region known as Devikulam Village while the SC live in the area referred to as the Colony. The relationship between the two castes is generally very good and caste mingling occurs at certain functions.

School:
The Devikulam crèche caters to children below 5 years of age. The Devikulam Primary School was built 27 years ago and is for children aged 5 - 10 years. There are currently 36 students attending the Primary School and there is one teacher and a headmaster. Adolescents travel to either Nadukuppam (4km) or Marakkanam (16km) to attend secondary school.

Transport:
There are very few transport options in Devikulam, there are no common bus facilities available to residents. Approximately 12 families in town own a motorbike and about one third of the families have a bicycle. Bikes are generally ridden only by men. Therefore for women, children and older people in the community walking is the main mode of transport. There is no ration shop in Devikulam so families walk to nearby Nadukuppam (4km) for food, secondary education and other services.

One family in Devikulam has a tractor and approximately ten other families have bullock carts to assist with transportation and agricultural needs.

Roads:
Roads in and around Devikulam are generally made of gravel however the road that runs between Devikulam and Nadukuppam is a tar road of good quality. Those traveling by road on foot to Nadukuppam often complain however about the unpleasant conditions, as open defecation generally occurs roadside between the two villages.

Currently, the most direct road to Pondicherry from Devikulam is along a gravel road. This route is largely impassible however during the monsoon season and residents of Devikulam have to take an alternative route to Pondicherry, adding an additional 26km for the trip each way.

Shops:
The shop in the Devikulam village recently closed down however a very small shop containing basic items still operates in the colony.

Cemetery:
There are 2 burial grounds in Devikulam, one servicing the needs of the village and the other for the colony. There is an old man living behind the cemetery who is believed to practice black magic and astrology, many people in Devikulam are fearful of his powers.

Recreation:
Volleyball, cricket and playing carom (a type of board game) are very popular pastimes of young people in Devikulam.

Festivals:
The main festivals in Devikulam are the local temple festivals where millet and rice are offered to the respective Gods of each temple. The three temples in Devikulam are the Ganesh Temple, Mariyamman Temple and Ayennar Temple.

Arts:
Women partake in the local practice of creating kolams outside the front of their houses each morning. A kolum is a form of sand painting drawn using rice powder by Hindu women in southern India. A Kolam is a type of artistic prayer; rice powder is sifted through the fingers and the hand moves in sweeping motions to create a line drawing of curved loops around a grip pattern of dots.

Medicine plants:
While vegetation is common in Devikulam and the surrounding areas; very few herbal plants exist in this area. Herbal medicines for both people and cattle (prepared in Nadukuppam) are available through the dispensary at the Women’s Centre in the colony. A new initiative being implemented through local women’s Self Help Groups is the establishment of Kitchen Herbal Gardens for individual households. It is hoped that supplies from these gardens will be used for cooking and herbal remedies in the future.

Environmental Features:
Devikulam is named after the beautiful lotus pond, which is a central feature of the village. The pond was once used as a source of drinking water but in more recent years has been used for bathing, washing cattle and swimming.

There is an area of approximately 3 - 4 acres of common, public land in Devikulam that is largely covered by coconut trees and other plants. The coconut trees provide a good source of tender coconut for consumption and the palms and leaves are used for items such as brooms and thatching for roofs.

While the ground water level is relatively high in Devikulam there are growing concerns in the region about increasing salinity and its effects on drinking water quality.

Devikulam is located near the Kalivelli Tank and largely surrounded by prawn farms. Much of the land in Devikulam was spoiled after the 2004 tsunami as salt-water contamination occurred in the region via a local backwater. Agriculture was affected in the seasons that followed and soil quality has only recently begun to improve.

Best time to visit:
December- February, after the monsoon.

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Download Devikulam household statistical information in pdf format

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