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Nangeli – The Brave of Cherthala

The taxes levied in the past

Nangeli’s is not a fairy tale but an actual incident that took place in the black rule of erstwhile Travancore kingdom in the early 19th century.

Nangeli who had lived at Cherthala in Alappuzha district over 200 years ago, that is, precisely in 1803, gained her place in history as the woman who cut off her breasts in protest against the inhuman Mulakkaram (breast tax) imposed in the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore.

Besides breast tax, tax was levied from peasants for right to use jewellery, for right to grow moustache, for right for women to cover their breasts. All these taxes were imposed only on lower castes.

Nangeli was a poor Ezhava woman. The tax collector then called Parvathiyar came to the house of Nangeli for tax collection. She could not pay as she was pauper. Instead of money she cut off her breasts and presented them to the Parvathiyar in a plantain leaf. Seeing this the tax collector fled in fear and Nangeli bled to death at her doorstep.

Her husband Chirukandan who was out at that moment saw the wife lying dead and mutilated when he came home.He ended his life by jumping into her funeral pyre. Nangeli’s is not a fairy tale but an actual incident that took place in the black rule of erstwhile Travancore kingdom.

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