This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Thalaikoothal: The “Custom” Of Murdering One”s Parents in Tamil Nadu

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Shraddha Sankhe:

I believe- if some of the best emotions are poured into an article you write, or a work you do- when you’re fervid with anger or some feeling strong enough to melt your heart… you’d also move the human race and perhaps make it more human. I’d add that it is when the heart is rendered helpless and unsupported by our loved ones… the realities show their ugly face and tell us just how inhuman humanity or a part of it-could be. Something that happens in the districts of Tamil Nadu could unravel all the composure we maintain as sons and lovers of Mother Nature. The practice of thalaikoothal raged my heartbeats. I’m appalled even by the mere cacophonous sound of this very word-thalaikoothal especially after I knew what it stood for.

Shahina KK of Tehelka perfectly puts it, “Several glasses of coconut water. A mouthful of mud. Perhaps a poison injection. She is just one of many old parents in Tamil Nadu dying in this way. But no one blinks at these ritual murders.” Shahina is talking about Mariamma who could be killed because her family cannot afford to have her anymore. Yes, if you could add a mind over this matter-Mariamma is an old woman in Tamil Nadu. And she is not angry. She has accepted this as a matter of fate and circumstances. There are many more such parents who’re starved for days and then made to gulp down milk. So much milk, and in a ‘close the nose’ fashion that the milk being poured in the throat reaches the respiratory track and ultimately kills the person as “A starving person cannot withstand even a moment’s suffocation,” says 60-year-old Paul Raj, co-ordinator of a district elders’ welfare association in Shahina’s report.

This brings us to a level perhaps the greatest of leaders may not have expected as visionaries of a country that teaches children to believe that “Parents are Supreme Gods”. India has faced riots, famines, floods and draughts. So many unnamed mortals died a silent death under the plethora of money-less existence. Truly, the rich is becoming richer. And the poor is unfortunately, being murdered-by the sweat of reality and the dust and grime left of the ash of their dreams-broken, killed and burnt.

A reader, Bhaskarjyoti Mali rightly says, I was reading an article about how a family was inviting the whole Bollywood for a wedding, spending several crores and then this! Such a contrast!” Another reader Jaimin Desai adds, “Hunger, poverty kills thousands daily. But nobody gives it a second thought. ‘India shining’ is true only for those who’ve got a few shillings.”.

Thalaikoothal is an accepted practice in all the poverty-stricken districts of Tamil Nadu. So should we simply build a well in every district of every town-so that anyone who thinks he has an ‘expensive’ family member can have them go and jump in? Wouldn’t that also reduce all the head-ache of buying so much oil, milk and injections? Should the children who murder their parents be allowed to have children of their own? There are questions most authorities fail to ask. Local doctors, village heads and district magistrates are witnesses to the ritual murders and collective abandoning from the distinction between crime, custom and reality.

Are we so poor that we unmask the devil of helpless poverty to kill our parents by our own hands? Helpless poverty. That’s a term we’ve heard a million times-mostly over-used. Has poverty depressed our humanity to a blithe? Can we improve the situation? Can we change what we see? Is the urban India even aware that people are not just dying out of poverty but they’re killing too? Or are we too late already?

Image courtesy: / CC BY 2.0

You must be to comment.
  1. sus

    yes we need to release their problem but this is not the way yaar. if they need this then its alright. But if they have good life why the destroy it. And more importantly not so much painfully. they are also humans.Before doing this we should once think about our life. Cause that is the destination of every life.

  2. Amritapa Basu

    I am absolutely shocked to read this. India ‘shining’ and all talks about progressive India, developing India seem to be a farce when poverty is actually eating into the roots of the society.

    I loved the sarcasm in the part which read that we could have more wells for the ‘expensive’ family memebers could be made to jump into.



    1. JAMES

      By understanding/knowing all these things still we are not ready to take care our parents?, the one who make us capable to live in this world.

  4. nitmohan

    Thalaikoothal should be executed on Indian Politicians who don’t work and are occupying posts for more than decades

  5. Poonam Ahuja

    disgusting………such people who follow thalaikoothal, should be hanged till death

  6. meena

    This is crazy, what happened to humanity… here we talking about our parents. What kinds of system is this? According to Indian custom, parents lives with their son. Hard to believe that precarious life can be ending this way. We have to open our eyes and change this ugly system

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Zeba Zoariah Ahsan

By Raunak Das

By Anusha S

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below