Washerwoman’s autobiography released in Tamil Nadu

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By Robancy A Helen

“Oorukku Oru Kudi” (A Family per Village) is the autobiography of a 38-year-old woman, who belongs to the Puthirai Vannan community, known as Dhobis (washermen and women) or Thurumbars in Tamil Nadu, south India.

Juliyes Vanathaiyan, a woman from the district of Villupuram in Tamil Nadu, shares her experience of oppression and caste discrimination from childhood to adulthood.

Dr. D. Ravi Kumar, a writer and Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from the Villupuram Constituency, released the book and spoke highly of the author and the book. He is the General Secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

Advocate Lucia and Elizabeth, the President of Thalir (the Widows Forum), Annammal, and Antony received the first copies of the book. 

This is the first autobiography of a woman from the Thurumbar community who was once considered untouchable.

Juliyes, having completed her elementary school, is motivated to empower the children of her community, who are deprived of education and human dignity.

She spent the money she received from the cultural troupe she was part of building a centre called the Life Empowerment centre and educated 60 students in higher education, which delighted the politician.

Having converted from Hinduism a few decades ago, the family of Juliyes was assigned to do all the menial jobs like washing the clothes of the Dalits, puberty, and funeral rituals.

The book was released on March 8, 2023, to mark International Women’s Day at the Devi Bala Hotel in Villupuram.

“I realized that Juliyes has had concerns about society’s leadership qualities since childhood. She used all the opportunities and the training she undertook. She not only empowered herself but also the children who belong to her community,” says Father Devasagayaraj Zackarias, mentor of Juliyes.

“The path I crossed is rough and painful, but I am overwhelmed by the growth of the girls and boys whom I helped, who are now graduates and working in different fields. There are 70 of them. It is my success and achievement,” Juliyes said.

The students who were educated at the Life Empowerment Centre are contributing to the education of others at the centre.

“I am grateful to Father Benjamin Chinnappan and Father Devasagayaraj, who helped me financially and supported me morally,” Juliyes added.

She thanked all the bishops, priests, nuns, and other people who helped her uplift the Dhobi children.

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