Kodimunai is a village situated in Southern Arabian seashore in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is 22 km north-west of Kanya Kumari (Cape Comorin), the southernmost tip of peninsular India. Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest Major City,(68kms). The distance from Chennai to Kodimunai is 714 kms.
Historically some believe that these villagers are originally from East coast of Tamilnadu settling in the current location and they are the original inhabitants of this area. Initially villagers did not own land, but put their hut on the seashore / unsurveyed land. The majoriy of the villagers are from "Mukkuvar" community. It is believed that in December 1544, over ten thousand fishermen, living on the sea coast from Poovar to Pallam were baptized by one of the greatest missionaries of modern times, St Francis Xavier and Kodimunai was part of this conversion. In later part, to make the people of this village to interact together, a community was formed, which was named as “Muzhuvalarchi Sangam”. Few years later considering the advice of Kottar Bishop, Fr. Edwin on 1978-79 started a new community named “Anbiyam”. It's very proud to say that Kodimunai was the first to start “Anbiyam” in India. At present there are about 35 Anbiyams in Kodimunai. The representatives in each Anbiyam and the Parish Priest leads the village towards development. This has lead to a terrific development.
|The Kodimunai Church|
Kodimunai is sitated in Southern Arabian seashore in the India along the valey of Western Gates mountains ( We can see it from the sea ). Kodimunai is naturally protected by two huge rocks in the sea; these big rocks that are present are nearly 150 mts far from the village shore.
|150mts in the sea there is a huge rock which protect this village|
These rocks protects the village from tidal sea waves and all natural calamities, it stands as a natural boon to the villagers. Its contribution to protected Tsunami waves in 2004 was immense, due to which a minimum damage was caused with less causalities.
The main occupation of this village is fishing and the livelihood items for the fishermen’s are Boat, Vallam and Kattumaram. It is sad to note that, among the fisher-folk population, only 44 percent is fully employed, 52 percent occasionally and 4 percent partially.
|Kattumarram are main vessel for fishing|
Building Kattumaram is done occasionally here. Although the ancestors are fishermen and kodimunai is a fisherman village, the children of soil has given a number of IT Professionals , Professors , Doctors and Religious priests and nuns.
|Kattumarram are built locally for fishing|
Kodimunai population of around 6,020 peoples by 1997 (as per the Population count, Kottar Diocese, December 1997). This consists of around 1,550 families. Most of the villages having tiled and thatched roofs houses. The main source of living is Fishing. Most of the people either go to Kerala or Middle East for their living. It is only during the southwest monsoon, when a ban on fishing is in force in most states, that most of the bread wining members are present at their home.
Over the years pressure on fishing has increased, as lack of alternate opportunities for income. Due to these high competitions in fishing, conflict amount fisherman has increased drastically and to wide spread violence in sea are very common now a days. Most of the time the conflicts are between Mechanized boat, Vallam and Kattumaram owners. The villagers started making country bombs and use during these conflicts, due to this, the village is also known as “Mini Japan”.
The living standards in this village has not improved to human standards, even though there are visible changes.
The 3 major problems for this village is :
Sanitation: Sanitation is a major problem as only 7% of houses in kodimunai have private toilets. Mostly the villagers use the coast as open latrine.
Drinking water: The water tank’s present capacity is 5,000 litres. It serves only for half an hour a day. It actually needs a tank with capacity of 1,00,000 litres.
Washing and bathing water: The river, the water source, is far away from the village.
The mean distance to colleges for this village is 30Kms, as they prefer their cildren to colleges in Nagerkoil and it is the farthest amongst 39 communities in Kanyakumari District.
Source: Basic Needs Of 39 Coastal Fishing Communities in Kanniyakuamri by Rene J.C. Verduijn Associate Professional Officer (Fishery Resource Economist) Bay of Bengal Programme.
At December 26th 2004, Tsunami (which terrified the whole world) attack Kodimunai too. 224 houses were destroyed and people were left helpless. At that time “Caritas Schweiz” a NGO Organization came forward and provided food and shelter. It also provide houses for those who lost their homes and it was named as “Friends Colony”. All credits go to “Caritas Schweiz” which did Relief and Rehabilitation to Kodimunai.
There were other NGOs like Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (VAK), Kottar Social Service Society (KSSS), AIMS India who had contributed to the recovery of villagers from Tsunami.
Aftermath of Tsunami is still visible in this village, large area of destroyed house are still present near the sea shore. To save this village for another similar kind of distruction, the Tamilnadu government has dumped huge rocks in the sea shore and due to this the beauty of the sea shore is lost! One advantange now would be that the villagers can walk up to the Rocks which were once reached by Kattumaram.
The people of Kodimunai are majorly Roman Catholic Christians. The Christianity spread here on 1544 AD by a Lisbon Jesuit priest( now saint )St. Francis Xavier. A church for St. Barthalomeo was constructed by former Bishop Anjus Swamy and Rev. Fr. Barnabas was appointed as a first parish for Kodimunai. Moreover St. Antony’s Chappell is built on the the rock that protects the villages from tidal sea waves. This gives confidence and courage to the fishermen who goes to the deep sea.
|This Village has a very old Church which is very visible from the sea|
This Parish falls under Diocese of Kottar.
Christmas is main festival in this village, during Christmas the entire village irrespective of men or women will have a holy bath in the sea. They also visit St. Antony’s Chappell situated at the rock and offer their prayers. It is also a time for union for members who had gone to different places in search of living. During this festival the village organises best decorated "Kuddil" Competition.
‘Lurdu Annai’s festival’ festival is another festival which is celebrated every year at ‘Lurdu Annai’s’ kebi. As this village of christian population, all Christian festivals like Ash wednesday, Easter are celebrated in a grand manner.
|The Landmark - "Church"|
Kodimunai has a government school, which provides education till 10th standard (Tamilnadu State Board). Kodimunai also has a dedicated post office and a Library.
Cricket is the most popular sports for the youngsters in this village. The huge space near the Church is used for playing cricket. Also, the very huge "oopalam" is used as ground for conduction cricket matches. Other games like Shuttle & Volley ball are played near the government school
Playing cards is more popular with elders of the village. Most of the time it would be played for money, sometime leading to quarrels too. "Thonuku" is one of the most played Card game here along side "Rummy". we can find villagers playing under the shades when you enter this village.
---Amalraj, Reji, Anto & Loyola
Note: The pictures above were taken before 2004 Tsunami