Clay pots on a bullock cart
Clay pots on a bullock cart

Rajakariya, or the King's Duty, was the tie that bound us. All of us gave 40 days each year to this principle. During this period we worked for the benefit of the whole community. It was this spirit that we call Mahasammata, or the common consensus.

Yuthukarna, or duty, was also considered rajakariya. All of us were born to perform a particular function or duty. Call it karma or destiny. In puranagamas each function became the duty of a given clan. In such a manner, quality was maintained in everything we did.

Those who worked with clay and created pots lived in one village. Those who made the drums speak lived in another. Blacksmiths made our plough-shares, axes and knives. All the washing and ritual purification connected with our homes and farms were carried out by hena mama, the water farmer, and ridi nanda, the laundry woman.

There were several other needs which were provided by different groups living within a cluster of villages: astrology and the casting of horoscopes; traditional medicine and its application; providing salt, jewelery, treacle, honey, coconut toddy, reed mats and cotton cloth—are just some of those functions.

Every family in the village truly enjoys doing this for one another. We do not see this as a form of labor; instead, we look at this as a bond that keeps us all as one.

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