Ethnic Communities of Kerala

Tribes in Kerala are the indigenous population found in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Most of the tribal people of Kerala live in the forests and mountains of Western Ghats bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Tribal people groups who are food gatherers (without any habit of agricultural practice), with diminishing population and very low or little literacy rates can be come under PVTG. Cholanaikkans, Kattunaikkans, Kadars,Koragas and Kurumbas are the five PVTGs in Kerala. Cholanaikkans can be said as the most vulnerable among them and found only in the Malappuram district. Kattunaikkans, another lower hill community related to Cholanaikkans, are mainly seen in Wayanad district and some in Malappuram and kozhikode districts. Kadar population found is found in Thrissur and Palakkad district. Koraga habitat is in the plain areas of Kasargod district. The Kurumbas are living in the Attapadi block of Palakkad district.


Adiyan or Adiya people lives in Wayanad district of Kerala. Some of them are living in Kannur district too. Most of them are agricultural labourers. It is believed that they were agricultural slaves in the past. During the annual festival at the Valliyoorkavu temple inin Mananthavady, Wayanad, the Adiyar people used to gather where they were sold and bought by landlords. As the name indicates, they were the bonded labourers of landlords.  The State Government rehabilitated many Adiyan families after the enforcement of Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act.  Their language is a mixture of Malayalam and Kannada. The Adiya tribal community is divided into 20 classes called Mandu. The head of the Mandu is called Chemmakkaran or Peruman. Thudi (drum) and Koyal (flute) are their important musical instruments. Dance and music are an integral part of their life. Adiyan is an endogamous community.



            The Boyan have migrated from coimbatore and Udumalapettai of Tamilnadu to Kerala in search of work. According toThurston, the Boyan are also called Odde. They are also titled as Nayakan or Naickan. They live in Malampuzha and Kozhinjampara of Palakkad and Chittoor taluks. The language and script used with family members are Tamil and Telugu. With others they use Tamil and Malayalam. The Boyan are tank digeers, well sinkers, road makers and work as mason in the construction of buildings and dams. They are very hardworkers and their hereditory occupation is stone cutting, stone lifting, etc. They also carry stones from the quarries and sell them to others. They are landless.


Cholanaikkantraditionaly reside in the Karulai and Chunkathara forest ranges near Nilambur, which fall in Earned Taluk of Malappuram district. They currently have a 16% literacy rate. The Cholanaikkan call themselves as ‘ Malanaikkan’ or ‘Sholanaikkan’. They are generally of short stature with well-built sturdy bodies. The complexion varies from dark to light brown. They live in rock shelters called ‘Kallulai’ or in open campsites made of leaves. They are found in groups consisting of 2 to 7 primary families. Each group is calledaChemmam.  The Cholanaikkan’s speak the Cholanaikkan language as a mother tounge. It is a member of the Dravidian family around half of them also have a basic knowledge of Malayalam.

Ganjam Reddis

The Reddiar of Kerala are believed to have migrated from Tamilnadu some 120 years back. They have three sub-groups (Ahodhya, Ganjam & Kota). Their major concentration is in Kollam and also distributed in major business towns of Kerala, Trivandrum, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad. Their population figure in Kerala is not known. With other communities they use Tamil and Malayalam, with in kin group they use Telugu. The main source of income is trade and commercial activities. The resource owned by them are commercial and business establishments. Some of them have entered private service and others have taken up self-employment.
Hill Pulaya(Mala Pulayan, Kurumba Pulayan, Karavazhi Pulayan, Pamba Pulayan)

Irulas are an ethic group of India. They inhabit the area of the Nilagiri mountains, in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Kerala they live in the Palakkad district and Attapady and Walayar panchayats. Early 20th century anthropological literature classified the Irulas under the Negrito ethnic group.
Kadar (Wayanad Kadar)

Kadars are a small tribe of southern India residing along the hilly border between cochin in the state of Kerala and Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Kadars ere living in the forests and do not practice agriculture, building shelters thatched with leaves and shifting location as their employment requires. They have long served as specialized collectors of honey,wax,sago,cardamom, ginger and umbrella sticks for trade with merchants from the plains. Nowadays many Kadar men work as labours. The Kadar population was estimated at approximately 2,000 individuals in the early 21st century. They speak the Dravidian languages of Tamil and Kannada.


The Kammaras are the blacksmith section of the Telugu Kammalas, whose services are in great demand by the cultivator, whose agricultural implement: have to be made, and constantly repaired. The name Baitakammara meaning outside blacksmiths, is applied to Kamsala blacksmiths, who occupy a lowly position, and work in the open air or outside a village. A section of the artisan communities working with wood, stone, metals like iron and gold noted by generic term Kamsala in Andhrapradesh. The Kammaras are adept at smelting iron and making implements out of it. (Dravidian Encyclopedia)


A Kannada speaking community of Tamilnadu. The Kannadiyans are mostly found in the former north, and south Arcots and Chingleput districts of Tamilnadu. In Karnataka they are called Gaulis. Though they claim that military service was their former occupation, now they are cattle breeders and cultivators. Some of them are traders in the southern regions of the state of Tamilnadu. The main occupation is the manufacture of cured and butter which they sell in the towns and cities. They do not even touch the sheep or goat. They engage in cattle rearing and they manufacture cured and butter only from the meals of cow and buffallow.


Kanisu are known by different names in different regions of Kerala, such as Kaniyar or Ballerayya, in northern areas, the Panikar in Central Malabar, the Ganaks or Ganika in Cochin area the Kani or Kaniyan or Kanisan in Travancore area. Traditional occupation is astrology. Today they engaged in almost all services.


Kanikkar is one of the largest tribes of whole kerala state. As per the census report of India, brought out in the year 1981, the total population of Kanikkar tribes has been enumerated to be fourteen thousand.  Just like any other tribes of kerala, these Kanikkar tribe have taken up the profession of cultivation, However, there are some Kanikkar tribes who even tried their hands in fishing and hunting. The origin of these Kanikkar tribes has few interesting stories that are popular throughout the region. These Kanikkar tribes have the tradition of using herbal medicine in order to heal up their wounds as well as for curing diseases.

The word Kattunaikan means the King of the jungle in Tamil. The members of this community are short, have black skin, and have protruding foreheads.  They live very much in tune with nature. Hunting and collecting forest produce are two main means of living for the Kattunaikkan tribe. However, the restrictions to protect native forest and wildlife have forced them to find work outside the forests. Although willing to work for very low wages, unemployment and poverty is very severe among the Kattunaikkan.


The Kavuthiyan are known by several synonyms. Presently they are distributed in all the districts with the concentration in the Malabar region. They distinguish themselves from the Izhavathi who are barbers for the Izhava (in Cochin and Travancore). The Kavuthiyan, act as barbers for the Thiyya of Malabar region. They speak Malayalam. Land is the main natural resource of the Kavuthiyan. It is conteolled by individual proprietorship. There are land owning and landless people in the community.  Inaddition they also earn as barbers. They are also engaged in business, govt. service and self employee.



The title Mudali is used chiefly by the offspring of Deva-dasi’s (dancing-girls), Kaikolans, and Vellalas. The Vellalas generally, take the title Mudali in the northern, and Pillai in the Southern districts. By some Vellalas, Mudali is considered discourtesy as it is also the title of weavers. Mudali further occurs as a title of some Jains, Gadabas, Occhans, Pallis or Vanniyans and Panisavans. Some Pattanavans style themselves Varunakula Mudali.



The Koteyar inhabit in Kasargod district and the adjoining areas of Karnataka. They are also called Kotegara/KKotegar, Sharegara/Sharagar, Servgar, Keteyara/Koteyavara, Rama Kshathriya, Rama Raja Kshathriyan, Kotekshathriya and Motri. The Koteyar’s main natural resource is land. A few have their own land. They are engaged cultivation private and govt. jobs, agricultural labourers. Their traditional occupation was connect with forts. They speak Kannada.

Koraga tribal community found mainly in the kasargod district of Kerala south India. The 1901 census report noted the Koraga as being a lowly tribe of basket makers and labours, some of whom were employed as scavengers.  Koraga people are known for drum beating and it is one of their cultural contributions. The Koraga people are an educationally disadvantaged tribe but progress is being made.


The caste name literally means belonging to Krishna, but probably means nothing more than belonging to the pastoral class; They use Malayalam and Tamil language. They were also known as Krishnavakakkar most were land owners, and many remain cultivators and dairy farmers.



The Kudumbi also known as Kudubi, claim to have migrated to Kerala from Karnataka, years sgo for reasons unknown to them. They speak separate language called Kudubi, with in Kin group which has Konkani and Malayalam influences. Kudumbi are a landless community. ‘Aval Idikyunnadu, ie. Pounding paddy is being given up. Some of them are school teachers and some others are employed in micellaneons occupations.
Kurichchan (Kurichiyan)
Kurumans (Mullu Kuruman, Mulla Kuruman, Mala Kuruman)


A community of potters in Andhrapradesh also known as Kummara, Kumbhar. They supply the ceremonial Ariveni pots for weddings in the houses of the Kammas, Kapus, Velamas etc. The traditional occupation of the Kumbarans is making pots, bricks, tiles, and selling them. Now some of them have taken to agriculture in addition to their traditional occupation.

Kurumbas (Kurumbar, Kurumban)


Kusavan includes Kulala, Kulala Nair. Presently Andhuru Nair is distributed in Kozhikode and Kannur district. The language used is Malayalam. Andhuru Nair are landless people eventhough land is the main natural resource. They manufacture earthen pots, and tiles. The number of them engaged in cultivation, and govt. service as daily wage casual labourers, is increasing.

Latin Catholics

Latin Catholics are generally found along the coastal areas and many are fishermen going out to sea. The outstanding feature of the community organization is the parish church. Every Latin Catholic is a member of one or another. They were mainly distributed in Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kollam.


Madivaqla is also known in the names of ‘Agasa’, which means a person cleans clothes. In some parts they are known as ‘Rajaka’. They were distributed in the Kasargod district of Kerala and in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. The language spoken at home is Tulu, with outsiders they use Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu.




The Malayan are distributed in the Malabar region comprising Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram districts. Their mothertongue is Malayalam. The major natural economic resource of the Malayan is land. They are mainly landless. Traditionally, they are exorcists, spirit dancers and medicants. Their primary occupation at present is agricultural labour. Some of them are employed in govt. Or private services, while a few of them are in petty business. Animal husbandry, midwifery, non-skilled wage and casual labour are their secondary occupations. Yhe Malayan have art and crafts associated with their Theyyam, Thira and exorcism.


Malayekandi also known as Maloikudi and Maleru, they are spread through the Dakshina Kannada and Chikmagalur districts of Karnataka, with a small number (598 persons at the 1981 sensus). Spilling into Kasaragod district. Though the mothertongue of most of them is Tulu, those who have settled in Kerala speak Malayalam. They were traditionally hunters and gatherers, and used to prefer the thickers to parts of the widerness. Now they subsist mainly by collection of minor forest produce, and as agricultural labour. They also make and sell bamboo mats and baskets. Some cultivate their home steads, with horticultural crops.


Thye community is spelt differently such as Mappaila, Mappilla denotes the Muhemmadans in the region of Kerala Malabar or the Syrian Christian, or the Jews, who were known as Jonka, Nasrani and Judomoplans, respectively. They have a wide spread distribution in the districts of Kozhikod, Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad. They use Malayalam. The land is the Mappila’s main natural economic resources, which are individually controlled and owned by people themselves. They are traditionally engaged in trade, business, agriculture and service which they still continue.


A community considered in former times as a criminal tribe, Marava, are mostly found in the Madurai and Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli districts on the coast from Kanyakumari to Ramanathapuram. The Zamindars of Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and a few minor Zamindars in the Tirunelveli district belong to this community.

Generally the persons who functioned as the Kaval personnel in the villages, where regular police personnel were absent. Generally the persons who functioned as the ‘Kaval’ personnel in the villages invariably belonged to the community of ‘Maravas’. Some members of this community had also functioned as poligars or feudal chiefs under the ‘Nayaks’ of Madurai, Tiruchi and Tanjavur, though most of the poligars were the Telugu speaking persons. Brave and active, though capricions the member of this community were adequate to safeguard villages, particularly those villages were peaceful cultivators lived when no central authority capable of maintaining law and orders in villages existed. They were entrusted with the duty of protecting the villagers, their houses, and crops from theft and robbery.

The Maravas  constituted nearly the whole of the village police though they were also the thieves and robbers at times. In some cases, the thief and the watchmen happened to be the members of the community, if not the same person. They are even now thieves, robbers, village policemen and detectives.


The Marati are also called  Maratha or Marathi. They speak Marati, Telugu and use Kannada script with in the family, with others they speak Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu and scripts used are Kannada and Malayalam. Present day distribute as percieved by the community is in Kasaragod district of Kerala and in other states. Land is the Marati’s major economic resource which is controlled by individuals. The Marati are a landowning community with individual proprietorship. Primary occupation of the community is agriculture. Some of them are also engaged in animal husbandry, business, govt. and private services. There are many agricultural or daily wage labourers among them. A few of them are engaged in basketry and carpentry.


Maruuthuvar probably got the name from ‘Marunthu’. A Tamil word for medicine. They were traditionally medicine men and surgeons serving the kings and their soldiers according to the people’s traditions. They were mainly distributed in Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur districts. Their concentrate is in Tamilnadu. Maruthuvar are traditional barbers, midwifes and is on the decline. They are mainly landless community.


The Mukkuvar Muslim are the fishermen of the Malabarcoast. They mainly found in the coastal areas of erstwhile Malabar region, namely Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Trissur. Their main economic resource is sea. The resources are controlled by the government. Still their main occupation is fishing. Thgey employ fishing labourers from the same community. It is a landless community. This community profess Islam.


The Nadar, also called Channar or Channars, are a numerically dominant community in the southern most Taluks Chirayankizhu, Neyyattinkara and Thiruvananthapuram districts. Two major subgroups of Nadars are Hindu Nadars and Christian Nadars. The Nadars regional distribution in Kerala is in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Idukki and Palakkad districts. They use Tamil and Malayalam within the community and outsiders. Land is the main economic resources of the Nadar which is controlled by individual proprietors. They are mainly a landowning community but there are many who have very little land, toddy taping, and gur, palm Jaggery making from limited toddy are the means of livelihood for many of them. Traditionally, some of them also practiced traditional Ayurvedic medicine which emphasised on messages at nerve centres and martial art of Kerala. Agriculture, animal husbandry, basket making, mat weaving and masonry are important subsidiary occupations.


The word ‘Nayakan’ means a leader or chief. Naik, Naickan, Naicker, Nayak or Nayakkan has been returned, at recent times of census, by the Tamil Pallis, Irula, and Vedans and also by various Telugu and canarage classes. It is noted by Mr:Talboys Wheeler that, in the city of Madras in former days, police duties were entrusted to a Hindu official, known as the Pedda Naik or elder chief who kept a staff of peons and was bound to make good all stolen articles that were not recovered.


Odan also known as Otan. They are inhabitants of Thrissur and Palakkad districts. According to Iyer(1981), Otans are a class of potters who were originally Tamil Sudras. The language spoken with in the family members is Tamil and with others Malayalam. The script used with in the family and with outsiders is Malayalam. Land is the main resource of the Otan which is controlled by individuals. Earlier, their traditional occupation was pottery which is continued now only by very few Odan. They are landless and work as agricultural labourers, masons and daily wage labourers in construction work. Rise in the agricultural and casual laborers is recorded.

S.C Converted to Christianity


The Pandithar are also called Ambattan, Pranopahari. Some of them have titles such as Pandithar. The community migrated from Tamilnadu. Tamil is their mother tongue. Now they use Malayalam among themselves and with others. They are mainly distributed in Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram districts. The Pandithar is mainly a specialised service community, and are working as barbers. Their economy is mainly centred around this occupation. In the past, some practiced as country doctors or as quacks. The community is mainly landless. Some of them have taken government and private employ as their main occupation. Traditionally Pandithars were barbers to the Kshatriyas and Brahmans and have close associate with them on the basis of the service given.



The Pattariya are distributed in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Trissur districts. The term Pattariya is derived from Pattusalia meaning silk weavers. The title of the community is Pillai. According to them, the community migrated to its present habitate from Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu. They speaks Malayalam with in the family as well as outsiders. The major economic for the Patariya community is land. It is mainly a land owning community with ownership of individual proprietors. The traditional occupation of the community is silkweaving. Now they are engaged in cotton weaving and agriculture. They weave towel or lunkies, thoorthu, mund, kaili, etc. Some of them work as daily wage labourers in the cooperative weaving societies. They are also engaged in trading, business, government employment, private service and also as labourer.

Peruvannan (Varanavar)

            Peruvannan who are gifted artistes specialising in the presentation of dietics in the famed Theyyam performances. They were not considered as a polluting caste and were endogamous. They have been so long in Kerala that most of them adopted Malayalam as mother tongue and only those in border areas are conversant in Tamil.


The Pulluvan is a small community belonging to the OEC in Kerala. The Pulluvan are distributed mainly in Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Trissur, Malappuram, Palakkad and Kannur districts of Kerala.  There are only very limited number of Pulluvan households in each districts. Malayalam is their mother tongue. The Pulluvan are economically backward. Except a Few, they do not own landed property and live in small thatched houses build on the wastelands of landlords or in Purampokku. They earn their livelihood by their traditional occupation of singing Pulluvanpattu. The pulluvan are specialised in the art of drawing Sarppakkalam. They use traditional-musical instruments such as a Pulluvakkudam which consists of an earthenware pot with its bottom removed and fully covered with leather except the mouth. Some of the Pulluvan have taken to white collar jobs like teaching and business.


They said that they have migrated from Rajapura Taluk, Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra as such they are called Rajapuri or Rajapura. In Kerala they inhabit Kasargod and also in the coastal districts of Karnataka state. They speak a mixture of Konkani and Marathi with in family and kind people. The script used within family and kind people is Kannada or Malayalam. With others they speak Marathi, Kannada, Tulu, Konkani or Malayalam. Land is the main natural economic resource of the Rajapur which is owned and controlled by individuals. Yhurston (1975) writes that the ‘Rajpuris’ are a Konkani speaking caste of traders and cultivators of south Canara. The Rajapura of Kerala cultivators. the community has a mixture of landholding and landless people. Generally they grow paddy, pepper, etc. Besides agriculture they are also engaged in business, private/govt. Jobs, industries (as labourers), etc.


The Reddiars of Kerala are believed to have migrated from Tamilnadu some 120 years back. They have three subgroups- Ahodhya, Gannjam and Kota. The Reddiar’s major concentration is in Kollam and also distributed in major business towns of Kerala- Trivandrum, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad. The dialect spoken with in kingroup is colloquial Telugu and the script used is Tamil. The languages and scripts used with other communities are Tamil and Malayalam. The Reddiar’s source of income is trade and commercial activities. The resources owned by them are commercial and business establishments. Some of them have entered private servuices and others have taken up self-employment. They have been successfull in establishing as traders of textiles, oil, jwellers, bankers and in a few places as hoteliers.


The Chakravar are also called as Sakravar, Kavathi and Chakamar. Locally, they are known as Kavathi and Ambittan because of their traditional occupation as barber. They catered to the Nadar. They also practiced indigenous medicine and their women were village midwives. The Sakravar are of Tamil origin and their concentration is in Taminadu (Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts). The Chakravar’s distribution, is in the Neyyattinkara and Nedumangad talukes of Trivandrum district and inn some parts of Kollam adjoining Tamilnadu. Recent immigration from Tamilnadu also has taken place. In Kulathur and Karodu villages of Neyyattinkara taluk they are concentrated. They use Tamil and Malayalam languages. Land is the next important natural resource, which is under the control of individual proprietors.


In the manual of Madura district, the Patnulkarans are described as a caste of Surat silk weavers, whose ancestors were induced to settle in Madura by one of the earlier Nayakkan kings, or in response to an invitation from Tirumala Naik, and who have thriven so well that they now from by far the most numerous of all the castes resident in the town of Madura. They are very skilful and industrious workmen and many of them became very wealthy. The Patnulkarans delight to call themselves Saurashtra Brahmans; the Tamils consider them to be a low caste.


The Saliyan in earlier days were known as Chaliyan. In the recent past, a trend started among this community for a preference to be known as Pattaraya in the erstwhile Cochin state. The Saliyas of Cochin affix Pillai to their names. They are said to be the immigrants from Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. The Saliyans of erstwhile Cochin and Malabar region are completely Malayalised and and they speak Malayalam. They are distributed in Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala. Land is the Saliyan’s main natural resource. Most of them possess some amount of land. Weaving is their traditional occupation, and from this there has been a shift. They have taken to various other occupations such as agriculture, business, white collar jobs, and self-employment.

Senai Thalavar/Elavaniar

Their synonyms are Elavaniar, Kodikkal Pillaimar, Kumbakaran, Senaikudayan, Kodikkal, Kodikkar, or Kodikkalakaran, meaning betel vine man, is the occupational name of a sub-division of Vellalas, and Labbai Muhammadans who cultivate the betel vine. Kodikkal is further a sub-division of the Shanans, who derive the name from Kodi, a flag, and five flag – bearer as its significance. Kodikkal Pillamar is a synonyms of the Senaikudaiyans, indicating Pillamars who cultivate the betel vine.

S.I.U.C (excluding Nadars specified to items 44)



The Tholkollans or Tolans (skin people) are leather workers and dyers, and also gymnasts and teachers of gymnastics. They are also called Vattikurup, Chayakurup and Vilkurup. Their title is Kurup. The Tholkollans are started to be blacksmiths by caste, who abandoned their hereditary trade for leather works and they are chiefly employed by Mappilas.


Thurston spelled this community as Thottian. In the districts other than Madura and Tinnevelly, the name Thottiyan is applied by Tamil-speaking castes to the Jogis who are beggers and pigg breeders.

Vaduvans, Vadugans, Vadukars and Vaduken (Vadukans)

The term Vadukan means bondsman or a northener generally reffering to the Telugu. But the Vadukan of Palakkad are not of Telugu origine; infact, their history is in obscurity. They are traditionally tenants of the Akathethara and other princely families of Chittoor and Palakkad. Transportation of goods by pack bullocks and bullocks carts, before the improvement in road transport systems, was also one of their traditional occupations. Their synonym is Vadukan. The Vadugan’s distribution is localised in Palakkad in the areas of Kuthanoor, Naduvathoor, Chittoor, Ambat, Puthussery, Vadasseri, Alathoor, Puvally, Kadukamkunnu and Akathethara; Their estimated total population is between sixty and eighty thousand. They speak the Vadukan dialect among themselves and use only Malayalam script within kin group. Both Tamil and Malayalam languages are spoken with outsiders, while script used is only Malayalam. Land is the main economic resource of the Vadukan which is controlled by individual proprietors. Majority of them are land owners. Their present primary occupations are settled cultivation, animal husbandry and agriculture, etc..

Velaans (Velaan, Velaar)

Their synonyms are Anthooran, Kosavan, Kumbara, Vela, Kusavan, Kuyavan. Veelan people are traditionally potters in Kerala. They use wheels to make pots. Malayalam is used for communication. They were founel all over the southern parts of the state.

Vanian (Vanika, Vaisya, Vanibha Chetty, Vaniya Chetty, Ayiravar, Nagarathar and Vaniyan)

The community members identify themselves as Vanika Vaisya. They are reffered to as Vaniyan. The Vaniyan are also known as Chakkan. They affix Chettiyar to their names. The word Vaniyan signifies trade and trade in oil as well as its manufacture, and it is the usual employment of the Vaniyan. The Vaniyan are distributed mainly in Trivandrum, Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Palakkad districts of Kerala. They speak Malayalam with outsiders. Major economic resource for the Vaniyan community is land. Only a few families have considerable amount of land hlodings. Oil pressing is their traditional occupation. Most of them have shifted to various occupations such as agriculture, whitecollar jobs, business and industry. A few are running oilmills.


Vakkalinga (Vokkaliga)

Part of a numerous community in the Karnataka state, there are a few in the Kasargode district. Though they retain Kannada as the mother tongue, they are conversant if not bilingual in Malayalam. Traditionally owners and cultivators of land, they are now found in govt. Service, jobs in private establishments and business. Some survive as manual workers. They engaged Shivalli Brahmins as priests.

Veerasaivas (Yogis & Yogeeswara)

Veerasaiva community is scattered all over Kerala. The main concentrations are in Trivandrum, Kollam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Kannur districts. Traditional occupations are continued by majority of the Veerasaiva such as mendicants, musicians, pappada makers, confectioney, garlandmakers, priests and ritual performers. They are mainly landless community and others are landholders under settlement rights. Their subsidiary occupations are animal husbandry, industrial works, self-employment, govt. And private services.

Veluthedathu Nair (Veluthedan & Vannathen)

The Veluthedathu Nair is also known as Veluthedan or Veluttedan. They use the title Nair. Their distribution is almost in every district of Kerala. Language spoken is Malayalam. Water is the main natural resource which is controlled by individual proprietors and by lineage proprietorship. Most of them are leaving their traditional occupation (washing clothes) and even it is considered a disgrace to be known by their original occupation.

Vilakkithala Nair (Vilakkithalavan)

They are the professional village barbers, and Shave Nayar and all castes above them. Their customs with regard to marriages, inheritance and religion are similar to those of the Nair; A few families of these people are to be found in every village and their services are employed for all ceremonious and other occasions. Occupationally, a few remain in the traditional niche. They have taken education and secures jobs in govt., etc. Many survive as casual labourers. Some are engaged in business. Those who remain barbers open saloons, where they serve all customers.


The Vishavan, a small group of people, are known to the people of the surrounding areas as Malankudi (Mala=hill, and kudi=hut , people living in the huts on the hills). Their main concentration is in the Talumkandan settlement of Idamalayar forest range, which comes under the Adimali block of Idukki District. Traditionally they are engaged in shifting cultivation of paddy on the hill slopes and hunting and gathering. They can do only very minimal hunting and gathering which is a subsidiary occupation is forest labour and collection of reed and bamboo and in other forest labour activities.

Yadavas (Kolaya, Ayar, Mayar, Maniyani and Iruman)

The Yadava are also known as Erumanar, Maniyani, and Gosangi. A few use title Nayudu. They use Malayalam. They are mainly distributed in Kozhikode, Palakkad, Kannur, Kasaragod and Wayabad districts. Land is the Yadava’s natural resource controlled by individual proprietors. They are the mixture of landowning and landless people. Their traditional occupation is tending cattle and selling milk. Beside this, they are also engaged in settled cultivation and in govt. Services.



4 thoughts on “Ethnic Communities of Kerala

  1. Yogeeswara community is not explained correctly. Though by mistake it included within the brackets of Veerasaiva community, its totally a different community in all aspects. for details refer or contact Gautham Yogeeswar-9745008834


    1. Thank you for your comment. We are happy to update the data if you can provide a write up about the Yogeeswara community with references.


  2. Yogeeswara, pandaram, Tambiran, othuvar, Deiskar, gurukkal, Sivachariyar are coming under sub-caste of Veerasaiva olny in Tamilnadu. Thank you


  3. യോഗീശ്വര എന്നത് ഒരു സംസ്കൃത വാക്കാണ്‌ .
    ഈശ്വരനോട് യോജിച്ചവൻ
    ഈശ്വരനോട് എത്തിയവൻ / യോജിച്ചവൻ
    പ്രവർത്തികൊണ്ടു / കർമ്മം കൊണ്ട് ഈശ്വരനായ വെക്തി അയാളാണ്…യോഗീശ്വരൻ.

    ആരാണ് ഈശ്വരൻ …?

    ഈ :- ഇഛച ,ചിന്ത
    ശ്വ :- ശ്വാസം ,പ്രാണവായു
    ര :- അഗ്നി ,ചൂട്
    അർഥം :ചൂടിനേയും ,ശ്വാസത്തെയും, ചിന്തകളെയും ഈ ശരീരത്തിൽ കൂട്ടിച്ചേർത്ത് നിറുത്തുന്നവൻ ആണ് ഈശ്വരൻ .
    യോഗ ..ധ്യാനം ..തപസ്സ് …എന്നിവയിലൂടെ ഈശ്വരനിലേയ്ക്ക് ഉയര്‍ന്ന ഋഷി പരമ്പരയാണ് യോഗീശ്വരര്‍ .


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