- Among the many bizarre and inhuman customs of the time was the 'breast tax' system
- Nangeli chopped off her breasts and presented it to the village officer on a plantain leaf
Nangeli, who lived at Cherthala in the erstwhile state of Travancore, cut off her breasts to protest the oppressive caste system and the unjust treatment of women which were prevalent in Kerala at the time.
Among the many bizarre and inhuman customs of the time was the 'breast tax' system (mulakkaram), according to which women of lower caste were required to pay a hefty tax to the king to cover their bosom in public.
However, Nangeli refused to pay the tax or uncover her bosom. When the village officer repeatedly asked her to pay tax and threatened her, she chopped off her breasts and presented it to him on a plantain leaf. She bled to death the same day.
Overcome by anger and grief, her husband Chirukandan committed suicide by jumping into her funeral pyre.
Following the incidents, the breast tax system was abolished in Travancore, and the place she lived came to be known later as Mulachiparambu, meaning 'the land of the breasted woman'.
The story is still relevant, with the country witnessing a rise in crimes against women and minors. And Sonam is the latest to draw inspiration from Nangeli.
I don't know why this story moved me more than any other that I've read about women #Repost @women_ofhistory ・・・ In India, 1803, one woman cut off her own breasts to protest the oppressive caste system. Her name was Nangeli and she lived in Cherthala as an Ezhava woman. The Indian government used money to suppress the castes - they were already poor but faced rigid taxes to do most things. Nangeli, as a member of a lower caste, was not allowed to cover her breasts. She would have to pay an enormous tax to do so. Lower castes, of course, did not have many financial opportunities and these taxes kept them down. But Nangeli refused to uncover her breasts or pay the tax. When an officer appeared at her home demanding money she chopped off her own breasts and presented them on a plantain leaf to him. She would die later that day from blood loss, leaving an utterly distraught husband who threw himself into her funeral pyre to die with her. After this the breast tax was abolished and her home became known as the Land of the Breasted Woman. This photo from 1942 is of an Untouchable, the very bottom caste. #India #caste #womenshistorymonth
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:41 PM IST