Can Stealing be a Profession?
Can stealing be a profession? It is, among some tribes in South India.
Can Stealing be a Profession?
Stealing is a sin. It is written in the hearts of all human beings as all the religions accept! But still many people are involved in stealing forced by their circumstances.
Nowadays the Indian newspapers especially in South India deplore over the daily increasing incidents of thefts and burglaries which baffle the police and the public. In the State of Kerala the thieves find it very convenient and it has become a seasonal harvest for them!
Training to steal
It may be surprising to learn the there is a village in Bihar where parents prefer to get their children trained as professional thieves, pickpockets, burglars and gangsters rather than send them to school. In the village Musepur-Jurabganj, under Korha police station in Katihar district in Bihar, about 200 km from Patna, expert elders train the children in the art of stealing. Children are not sent to schools and are being trained to steal. According to the local statistics only a few children are enrolled in schools. The officials of the village state that most people in the village, which has a population of about 4,000, are engaged in the same stealing profession. After training the children the elders send them to cities and small towns across India. It is compulsory to send the collected money back to the village committee because it distributes money and goods to thieves and others engaged in similar profession. They have all arrangements for providing legal protection to these culprits if they are caught.
Another story from South India
Teams of thieves have invaded the Kerala state from particular areas of the neighborhoods and loot houses and shops with the technical skills that they had learnt from their elders and the media. Jewelries and currency are their main targets. Very rarely they steal other things like electronics and other materials.
Rituals before starting the stealing profession
There are certain castes or communities who are traditionally involved in this profession. Some communities like Jangama, Uchalya, Ottunaika, Kallar and some vagabond like tribes are said to be involved in this profession. Certain villages around Kambam, Theni, Vedasandur, and some others are known for such people. They call their starting of stealing as “Climbing Mountain” (Malayerudhal). They perform special pooja (ritual ceremony) to their goddess Mariamman. They cut a chicken, sprinkle the blood on those who go for stealing and offer the remaining blood and other things to the goddess. Then they do other ceremonies and wear the ash of sacrifice on their foreheads. After reaching the target place they conduct group prayers before their attempt promising offerings to their favorite gods. The one who enters the house and executes the theft is called “Sooriyakaran” (Main Executive) and the others standing out are “Othoovi” (Helper). Their booty is shared as per their norms. The main executer gets twice as that of the helper. The whole village supports them and so it is not easy for the police to find out the culprits.
Prehistoric evidence in literatures
In the prehistoric Tamil literatures like “Tholkappiam” which is said to have existed before the Sangam Period and “Purananooru” (Sangam Period) stealing of oxen and cattle is mentioned as a part of warfare to weaken the country which a king is going to invade. Tamil prosodic tradition mentioned in the ancient Tamil grammatical treatise Tholkappiam also classifies Puram (objective) poems into seven Thinais based on the subject of the poems. These are Vetchi Thinai when the king provokes war by attacking and stealing the cattle of his enemy, Vanchi when the king invades the enemy territory, Oozhinai when the king lays a siege of the enemy's fortress, Thumbai when the two armies meet on a battlefield, Vaakai when the king is victorious, Paataan when the poet praises the king on his victory and Kanchi when the poet sings on the fragility of human life.
Whatever may be the reasons, stealing cannot be justified. But it is the duty of all of us to curtail such growths of evil elements.