The Nilgiris Foundation Inaugurates Porivarai Workshop – A Hub for Irula Culture and Traditions

by Team TNF

Porivarai Workshop will be a home to traditional Irula practices and a community radio station.


The Nilgiris Foundation (TNF) inaugurated Porivarai Workshop to boost the conservation of Irula culture, tradition, art, and music.

In keeping with the spirit of preserving indigenous cultural practices of the Irula tribe, activities like beekeeping, foraging, organic farming, producing crafts, and artwork made from bamboo will be at the heart of Porivarai Workshop. Its core team includes 20 Irula youth from the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.

A new Porivarai Workshop

Porivarai community club was founded in 2018. Since its inception, it has been getting more popular among the local villages in the Nilgiris and its scope of activities has also been increasing.

That is why TNF partnered with the Porivarai Workshop to create a comprehensive space for all its initiatives under one roof. It was built using mud, grass and bamboo – the same way Irula ancestors built their homes. A tiled roof was constructed to facilitate electricity. The Nilgiris Foundation successfully fundraised for the workshop through the proceeds received from The Nilgiris Wild Food Festival – another TNF initiative that focuses on amplifying the local indigenous food and communities.

The new construction will further fuel Porivarai Workshop’s community radio station called Kwol radio (Kwol is a traditional Irula musical instrument). The community radio channel broadcasts carefully-researched ancient Irula stories, and traditional ways of living.

The inauguration of the Porivarai Workshop took place on April 21, 2023, and both Kannan, the leader of Porivarai Community Youth Group, and Sivaraj, an Irula community leader, were present among many other Irula members.

Ramya Reddy and Sarasasmeeta Pathy, two of the directors of The Nilgiris Foundation, cut the ribbon for the workshop, and several Porivarai members and TNF board members were also in attendance.

What makes Porivarai Workshop special?

During the occasion, Sivaraj spoke about the importance of the workshop and how it would benefit the community. The Irula community leader stated that around 70 percent of the village youth return to the community after completing their studies. He was hopeful that the workshop would create livelihood opportunities for members of the tribe.

According to Kannan, Porivarai’s work has been so successful that they have inspired youth in nearby villages to start similar projects. Keystone Foundation and The Nilgiris Foundation have been strong supporters of Porivarai Workshop, helping them with everything from training to selling their agricultural products.

The Porivarai members also create traditional musical instruments and teach local youth about traditional music. The workshop has musical instruments, photographs, and maps on display.

The Porivarai Workshop is a fantastic initiative that showcases the importance of preserving indigenous culture and traditions. The Nilgiris Foundation’s support has been essential in providing the community with a workshop space that will benefit the local community.