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A Day With a Palmyra Taper

A Day With a Palmyra Taper

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Published by S.Rengasamy

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Published by: S.Rengasamy on Aug 21, 2011
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Dr. Muniyandi - A Day with a Palmyrah Tapper 
- PAD Documents Series 
Male Tree with floral rachis
Paalai Female Tree with palm fruit-Nungu
 A Day with a Palmyra TaperDr. Muniyandi*
(With Vinod Ambedkar** & Ramesh***)
Palmyra tapping is one of the ancient occupations of a section of people in Tamilnadu, India. Thephrases
“Kallundu kalithungal
” meaning good sleep after drank toddy and
” meaning just like a monkey which drank toddy in ancient Tamil literatures
denotethe ages of this occupation. This Occupation is highly dangerous and warrants heavy physicalwork 
One Day Routine of a Palmyra Taper
An active palmyra
taper‟s work starts by 2 A.M every day. He claims around 50 palmyra trees,
collect the palmyra juices (Pathaneer) from 4 to 5 pots hung around the crown of each tree (onepot/floral rachis), into the bigger pot or tin hung with his waist (this pot is called locally as
), slice the tip of each floral rachis
‟ in Tamil)
with a sharp sickle kept in anotherwooden box tied with his waist. Each pot hung with the floral rachis is given a coat of limepowder which also will be kept in the wooden box. The limed pots are hung as usual with therachii. On reaching the ground, the palm juice in his waist pot will be transferred to anotherbigger pot kept in the ground (this pot is called locally as
). By 7 A.M, the taper maycomplete the works with around 50 palmyra trees. By 6 A.M, a female member of the taperfamily will be ready with the utensils for boiling the palmyra juice for the preparation of palm jaggery (Karuppatti). The utensil for boiling the palmyra juice is a wide mouthed shallow depth
Dr. Muniyandi - A Day with a Palmyrah Tapper 
- PAD Documents Series 
flat bottomed vessel made of alloy metal. If the boiling process is delayed for another one hour,the juice will not be suitable for Karuppatti preparation. Hence the process of Karuppattipreparation should start immediately after the juices are collectedApart from the above mentioned aids, a palmyra tapper will have a round rope called
‟. This rope is made out of the palmyra leaf rachis peel. A strong leaf rachis peel will
Table 1
Palmyrah Tapper readyfor his work
Various Gears
Dr. Muniyandi - A Day with a Palmyrah Tapper 
- PAD Documents Series 
be chosen and its two ends are tied with one another to form a ring. It is kept between the twotoes with the trunk of the palmyra tree in between the toes while claim and returning from the
crown of the palm tree. This rope helps the tapper to claim the trees easily. A tapper‟s arsenal
also contain two sickles, one sickle is for slicing the floral rachis which is less thicker than theother sickle which is used for cutting the palmyra leaf rachis etc. In the ground, a tapper will
carry along with him a „T‟ shaped wooden instrument called as
. It is amultipurpose instrument. It is used for carrying two palm juice pots at a time hanging the potsone at each end. It is also used as a base wood for sharpening the sickles. The pointed bottom
end of „T‟ is used for killing snake and other trouble creating creatures on the way of the palmyra
tapper. The height of the Murukuthadi will be about 1.25 mt. Before claiming a palmyra tree,
the tapper will keep the Murukuthadi in the bottom trunk of the tree with the pointed „T‟ in the
Collecting Palm Juice (Pathaneer) at the top of the Tree

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