Tightrope walkers

Published: Wednesday 30 November 2005

Gypsies Tamil Nadu

The Kazhaikoothadi community in Tamil Nadu, which makes a perilous living by street performances such as tightrope walking and leaping through rings of fire, has found some support. Students of the Softview Visual Communications institute have made Kalai Pookal, a powerful film that explains the difficult livelihood of the community, the promise education holds for their children and the thwarting of that promise by the lack of community certificates. The team that directed the film -- B Arun, J S Avinash and K Raghuraman -- has reserved its attention for the biggest concern among the Kazhaikoothadi community, that about the next generation. The biggest obstacle on their path to higher education is the absence of official recognition of their caste. When asked about their origins, members claim that they came from Gujarat many decades ago.

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