Content Research by Prateek
Not just a tribe, The Halakki are more than that. They are women who stand distinctively to sing their 400 year old story history.
Deep in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka are a caste group called Halakki Vokkaliga. Living in the foot of Western Ghats they chose to live a very simple life with the belief that if they take care of mother earth, she will in return take care of them. The word “Halakki” literally means milk (Haalu) and rice (Akki) in Kannada. Like many indigenous of tribal communities that have no documented literarure of their past, the Halakkis have stories and songs of how they were named-
Parvati trips and falls spilling rice and milk on the mud while carrying food for her husband Shiva, who is ploughing the field. Disappointed with this, she makes a male and female doll out of the wet mud and returns home. Shiva, searching for his wife finds these dolls that come to life upon his first touch. Then he tells them that they could work in the field with him and since they were born out of rice and milk, they would be called Halakki.
This is the story the women of this group believe. When we talk about Halakki, we talk about the women. The women of this group are the glue who have been holding this 400 year old ancient tradition alive. Halakki women are hardworking they make paddy fields and sing along their songs when going through the hills and forests. They drape their sarees in a distinctively beautiful way, their naked necks and shoulders are covered with the layers or beaded necklaces they wear. This attire is their identity and makes it comfortable for them to go through hard work in the fields.
The Halakki has a musical history which they have been carrying till date. Over so many years nothing else but the harvest and the songs associated with harvest makes these vibrant women so happy! The women truly believes that music can change people, so they chase this belief and sing their songs as often as possible to remind their people of their roots and sing them so that the world could never forget them.
Tragically, today there are only 4 women left in the tribe who sing. Only 4 women who remind the world of their 400 year old history. The younger generation moved out to urban areas to pursue their modern dreams but these 4 old women stay back to where they belong and they sing. They sing about fantasises, about daily lives, marriages, protest, about yesterday and about the days to come.
I read an interview where one asks Sukri Ajji (leader and one of the 4 women who sing in the tribe) that what would she speak to a large number of people from cities and other places?
Sukri Ajji replies “Come to our village. Lets sing together!”