There is a village in India, where the inhabitants never wear shoes. Even if they have to go out, they go barefoot. Not only this, in this village, if someone gets sick, they don’t even go to the hospital. Likewise, villagers do not eat outside food after going out.
Vemana Indlu is a village 50 km away from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, India. The villagers call it their old tradition. According to the villagers, if the district officer wants to come to the village, he should take off his shoes outside the village. Erabba, the head of the village, says that this custom has been going on since our tribe settled in this village. He told BBC Telugu – When we go out, we enter the house only after taking a bath and eat. I went outside the village several times, once I had to stay out for five days due to court work. I did not even touch the food where I was sitting. Erabba says – I have been going out for court work for 47 years. But I never drank outside water. I take water from home and drink it. There is no question of drinking outside water, we don’t even eat outside food.
Vemana Indlu village is a village in Pakala mandal of Tirupati district in Andhra Pradesh. There are 25 houses with a population of 80 people, the total number of voters in this village is 52. Only a few of them have completed their undergraduate studies. The residents here are not very educated and depend on agriculture. The guests who come to this village must also follow that rule. Mahesh, a relative who came to the village, said – I had married my sister in this village. When we come here, we have to follow their customs. He says – when we come outside the village with our shoes open, then we have to take a bath. If someone in the family has died during menstruation or recently, they cannot enter this village.
The residents of this village consider themselves to belong to the Palvekri caste. The government has classified them as backward class. All the people of this village belong to the same clan. They also make their relationship within their caste. The villagers perform puja, prayers and rituals in the ancient temple. They worship Lord Narasimha and Gangama. Villagers don’t go to the hospital when they get sick, they leave everything to God. Erabba, the head of the village, says – if we are bitten by a snake, God will heal us, we do not go to the hospital, we circumambulate the snake hill (snake hill), the neem tree. God takes care of us, when we are sick, we circumambulate the temple and get well after two days, this is our tradition.
Village children go to school but they don’t wear shoes, they don’t eat lunch even if they give it to school. If they touch an outsider, they enter the house only after taking a bath. Bhavita, a woman from the village, says that pregnant women are not even allowed to be taken to the hospital. All women give birth at home. School going children don’t eat the lunch given at school, they eat it at home and go back to school.
Dalit community is not allowed to enter this village. Babu Reddy, who owns a ration depot in the village, says that if any official or MLA comes to the village, they should take off their shoes. He said menstruating women are kept outside for five days a month. A room has been built for them outside the village. Tirupati District Officer Venkatarami Reddy has said that awareness camps will be organized in the villages to bring about change in the villagers. – Translated from BBC Hindi