The two fishing villages of Thanthirayankuppam and Nadukuppam are located next to each other on the coast. They've been feuding for years – the young people refuse to speak to anyone from the other village, just like their elders.
After the tsunami, all the fishermen up and down the coast decided they wouldn't go fishing until the government paid the compensation – they didn't want them to say it was all fine now, and back to normal, and delay for ever their receiving all the money which they know has been collected in their favour. That gave those of us in the rehabilitation scene quite a challenge: it's not been possible to just go ahead with getting everyone back on their feet, to get over the trauma by getting on with life as usual, to work off the shock with lots of hard work. Faced with so many healthy young men in enforced idleness, we took up their request to organise a cricket tournament between all the cricket clubs of the 25 “kuppams” (fishing villages) which Auroville is working with. The elders promised that they would maintain law and order.
Alas, when it looked like Thanthirayankuppam would win against Nadakuppam (and the game was being played in Nadakuppam) the youth and even the grown-ups couldn't control their emotions, and a brawl broke out. The game had to be called off, the tournament was stopped, and the elders felt embarrassed and disgraced. Thanthirayankuppam leaders even drew up plans and an estimate to build a big wall between the two communities.
But it didn't end there, when Moris, the Coordinator of Village Action, went to discuss this with the elders it came out that they'd been feuding for years, and wanted to take the opportunity of Auroville's presence to settle it. Several preliminary meetings had to be held, and several postponements occurred, but eventually the elders of both villages, together with the respected elders of the other villages as well, met. They brought up stories from 10 years ago, they screamed and shouted. Moris was afraid the Kuilapalayam villagers, in whose Cultural Centre the meeting was being held, might come and protest, adding to the fire, but they didn't. And finally, they agreed to bury the hatchet, give up their old resentments, and carry on freshly. It was wonderful to see the handshake between the two leaders, the sense of relief as if a great burden were being removed from their shoulders, and to see immediately the young men slapping each other on the back and talking animatedly together.
A few days later, the headman of Chinnmudliarchavadi Kuppam told Moris, “This is really by far the most valuable thing you have given us, it's worth more than all the food and boats and houses.” We think so too, and feel that the mutual recognition of this is a tiny step toward Human Unity which is our Aurovilian goal.