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Since the adivasis here led a fairly insular life up until recently, and Wayanad itself is sealed in by its geography, the stories are all set in a 40 sq km area stretching from Muthanga and Pulpalli, according to Tharuvana.
Valmiki’s ashram is in Ashramkoly and Sita is believed to have gone plucking flowers in Irulam (place of darkness).
Tharuvana’s book has just been made into an award-winning documentary and was shown recently at a seminar at the history department of Delhi University.
It reaffirms the point made so strongly by scholar and poet AK Ramanujan in his much-debated essay, that the Ramayana has always been open to interpretation by the communities that own it.
It may be recalled that seven years ago the essay was dropped from the Delhi University syllabus after protests from hardline Hindu groups.“These stories are particularly significant in the times we live in when multiculturalism is under threat,” said Tharuvana, an assistant professor at Farook College in Kozhikode.
“Ramayana is a literary text in the hands of Valmiki, Kamban, Tulsidas and Ezhuthachan, but it is a living oral tradition for many like the adivasis of Wayanad.