Tribes of Kerala

1. Adiyan

Name of the community: Adiyan

  • Location
    District: Wayanad
    Taluk: Mananthavadi
    Villages:Thirunelly, Mananthavady , Panamaram and Pulpally Demographic details:
  • Population(KILA Survey 2008): 11196
    Literacy(KILA Survey 2008): 66.18%

Population in the 15-59 age group : 7034 (71.9%)
Students/not working due to various reasons : 1537
Agriculture labor as primary occupation : 4838
MNREGA as primary occupation: 1345
Animal Husbandry as primary occupation :111

Agriculture as primary occupation :88

Adiyan families are concentrated mainly in Wayanad District. About 99.80 per cent of the Adiyan population is settled in Wayanad District alone. A few families/persons have moved on to Kottayam, Idukki, Kozhikode and Eranakulam Districts . Adiyans used to be bonded to their land lords till the enforcement of the Abolition of Bonded Labour Act of 1976. They are now marginal agriculturists but majority are agricultural labourers. Now a days they migrate to Karnataka to work in agricultural farms. ‘Gaddika’ is a famous art form of Adiyan community.

Adiyans are bilingual. They speak a separate dialect of Kannada known as ‘Adiyabhasha’. Adiyan literally means ‘slave or serf’ in Malayalam. They call themselves as ‘Ravulavar’.

The community is divided into a number of clans called ‘Mantu’ or ‘Chemmam’ and the clan head is known as ‘Chemmakkaran’. The children take their mother’s clan. ‘Chemmakkaran’ regulates the life cycle rites of the clan. The hamlets are uniethinic and the head is known as ‘Kuntumoopan’ who settles disputes among members. The religious rites are officiated by ‘Kannaladi’. The ‘Nadumoopan’ or ‘Peruman’ controls the regional affairs of the community.

2.Aranada (Aranadan)

  • Name of the community: Aranda
  • Location
    District: Malappuram
    Taluk: Nilambur
    Villages: Muthedam, Vazhikkadavu, Edakkara, Pothukallu(Nilambur Block Panchayat), Amarambalam, Karulai, Kalikavu and Chokkad(Kalikave Block Panchayat

Aranadan community is found only in the Nilambur forests of Malappuram District. The community name is derived from two local terms,‘Aravam’ means snake and ‘Nadan’ means countrymen. They are one of the diminutive tribal communities. Their language is found to be a mixture of Malayalam, Tamil and Tulu.

Aranadans are endogamous with subdivisions called ‘Villa'(clan). Each settlement has a headman called ‘Chemmakkaran’ who settles disputes and officiates in the rituals connected with their life cycle. ‘Kalladikaran’ acts as the priest cum healer.

Aranadans are believed to be the original inhabitants of the erstwhile Eranad Taluk of Malappuram District. They were expert hunters and food gatherers with little interest in agriculture and cattle rearing. They used to hunt pythons and extract oil which was used as a remedy for leprosy. They also collect minor forest produces.

The deforestation and strict enforcement of Forest Laws have threatened their livelihood pattern. The community as a whole is very backward in terms of social and economic status.

3. Eravallan

  • Name of the community: Eravallan
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Gram Panchayaths: Muthalamada , Perumatty, and Kozhinjampara
  • Earlier the Eravallans were known as ‘Villu Vedan’, which means hunters using bows and arrows. In early Dravidian Language ‘Eravan’ is related to agricultural serfs. Among themselves they speak a crude dialect of Tamil but to others they can speak Malayalam.

The institution of headman is called ‘Talaivan’ and over a period of continuous subjugation the relevance of headman is not there and as a result the ‘Pujari’ (priest) performs the duties of headman.

Eravallans are landless agricultural laborers attached to the local landlords. They are experts in ploughing dry lands for the cultivation of various crops. Caste discrimination is high in their locality.

4. Hill Pulaya (Mala Pulayan, Kurumba Pulayan, Karavazhi Pulayan, Pamba Pulayan)

  • Name of the community: Hill Pulaya
  • Location
    District: Idukki
    Taluk: Devikulam
    Villages: Kanthallur , Marayur gram panchayaths

Hill Pulayas are divided into three endogamous sects, viz; Kurumba Pulayan, Karavazhi Pulayan and Pamba Pulayan. Kurumba Pulayans are found only in the ‘Anchunad’ area of Devikulam Taluk of Idukki District. They are early immigrants from Tamil Nadu. Kurumba Pulyans consider themselves superior in social status to the other two sects. The settlements of these three groups are separate. Kurumba Pulayans are seen in forest areas while the Karavazhi Pulayans are found in plain areas of Marayur and Kanthallur Grama Panchayats. Pamba Pulayans are seen in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary area in Idukki District. All of them speak a dialect of Tamil with a few Malayalam words too.Kurumba Pulayan community has their headman called ‘Arasan’. The head man of Karavazhi Pulayan is ‘Kudumban’. He has assistants and executives known under various names like ‘Varijan’ and ‘Kolkkaran’ respectively. Kurumba Pulayan community were food gatherers and hunters and practised slash and burn cultivation. They cultivate lemon grass and extract oil. They are found to be experts in sheep rearing. On the other hand Karavazhi Pulayans are landless agricultural serfs under the Caste Hindus. Currently both these two major sections are engaged in casual labour. Karavazhi Pulayans have many colourful forms of folk dances and they believe that dancing pleases the Gods and better blessings would be granted. They have had the opportunity to present their folk songs and dances in national forums.

5. Irular,Irulan

  • Name of the community: Irular
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Villages: Agali, Sholayur and Pudur Grama panchayaths
    Irular community is distributed in Palakkad District and they are mainly concentrated in Attappady region. They are also found in Tamil Nadu. They have a dialect of their own called ‘Irula bhasha’, which has more affinity to Tamil. Their traditional social organisation is endowed with various functionaries, namely; ‘Ooru Moopan’ (Chieftain),‘Bhandari’ (Treasurer), ‘Kuruthala’ (assistant to Chieftain) ‘Mannukaran’ (soil expert), ‘Marunnukaran’ (healer) etc. These positions are hereditary and succession is by the son. This traditional institutions play a decisive role in the social control mechanism of Irular community.

Earlier Irular were hunters, gatherers and shifting cultivators. Now they have become experts in settled agriculture and also work as agricultural labourers. The major area in Attappady falls under rain shadow region and as such the important crops raised by them under dry farming are ‘Ragi’, ‘Chama’, ‘Thina’, ‘Cholam’, ‘Thuvara’, ‘Kadala’ etc. For cultivation they stay away from their hamlet and erect temporary huts. Irular community has attractive songs and dances which tell about their forest, cultivation, emotions etc.

They have been empowered through ‘Thaikula Sangham’, exclusively for women and‘Ooruvikasana Samithi’ organised under the Attappady Hills Area Development Society. Their livelihood means have been affected due to the influx of non tribal population both from other parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

6. Kadar (Wayanadan Kadar)

Name of the community: Kadar (Wayanad Kadar)

  • Location
    District: Wayanad, Kozhikode
    Taluk: Manathavadi(of Wayanad)
    Villages: Thariyode , Vellamunda, Thondarnad ,Edavaka , Pozhuthana and Padinjarethara  Grama Panchayats

Wayanad Kadar is a new addition into the list of Sheduled Tribes following the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 10 of 2003). Wayanad Kadar is found mostly in Wayanad District. A few families also live in Kozhikode District. Wayanad Kadars are marginal farmers and agricultural workers. Being a small community they are yet to shape their future development vision.

7. Kanikkaran

  • Name of the community: Kanikkaran,Kanikar
  • Location
    District: Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam
    Villages: : Vithura, Peringammala , Tholikkod , Pangode,Amboori and Kulathupuzha Grama Panchayats

Kanikkar are distributed mainly in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam Districts and in the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. They were called ‘Kanikkar’ by the Sage Agastya, signifying ‘hereditary proprietor of the land’. ‘Kani’ means land and ‘Karan’ means owner. Their spoken language exhibits features both of Malayalam and Tamil. The Kanikkar have an allegiance to Travancore Kingdom and they visit the Raja annually to present hill produces and in turn receive gifts from the Raja.

The ‘Kanikudi’ or ‘Kanipat’ (settlement) is the basic unit of social, economic, political and religious organisation. Each ‘Kanipat’ is headed by a ‘Muttukani’ who enjoys great powers. The ‘Vilikani’ (Convener) is the headman’s assistant and in some areas the headman is known as ‘Muthalpat’. The ‘Plathy’, next in hierarchy, is the magician cum medicine man. Earlier they subsisted on hunting, minor forest produce collection and cultivation. Now they practise settled agriculture like cultivation of rice and tapioca. The major cash crops raised by them are arecanut, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cashew etc. There are a number of medicinal herbs in the ‘Agasthyakoodam’ peak and their traditional knowledge system is noteworthy as they are able to identify appropriate herbs for curing almost all diseases. Kanikkar living in the plain areas along with other communities have improved much in their lifestyle while those living in the interior forests called ‘Malamkanis’ are still deprived of the basic amenities of life.

8. Karimpalan

  • Name of the community: Karimpalan
  • Location
    District: Kozhikode, Kannur Wayanad
    Villages: Naduvil, Udayagiri, Alakode and Ulikkal Grama Panchayats.
  • Livelihoods:

Karimpalans are found in Kozhikode, Kannur and Wayanad Districts. The name appears to have originated from their occupation of collecting ‘Kari’ (Charcoal). Karimpalan listed as Scheduled Castes has now been included in the list of Scheduled Tribes in 2003. The institution of the headman called ‘Karnavar’ has now became weak. The clan organisation of Karimpalan is known as ‘Taravadis’ which regulate marriages. Traditionally they were engaged in shifting cultivation, making baskets, work as labourers in plantations for felling trees and collecting timber, bamboo and fire wood. Now they are engaged in settled cultivation. They are also found to be working as agricultural labourers. The younger generation has started to acquire new skills for employment. The community is progressing much ahead of other Scheduled Tribe communities living in their locality.

9. Kattunayakan

  • Name of the community: Kattunayakan


  • District: Wayanad, Malappuram, Palakkad
    Villages: Thirunelli, Noolpuzha, Poothadi, Mullamkolly and Pulpally Grama Panchayats.
  • Demographic details:
    Population(KILA Survey 2008): 17051
    Literacy(KILA Survey 2008): 60.15%
    Kattunayakans are distributed in Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad Districts. They are also found in the neighbouring States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. An overwhelming majority of the population is concentrated in Wayanad.               The term Kattunakayan is derived from the words ‘Kattu’ (forest) and ‘Nayakan’ or ‘naickan’(lord).

Thus Kattunayakan literally means lord of forests. Jenu Kurumban and Ten Kurumban are the synonyms used for the Kattunayakan community. They speak a dialect akin to Kannada. They can converse withoutsiders in Malayalam. Basically Kattunayakans are forest dwellers and hence their social life and economy are forest based. They were used as mahouts and in elephant capture. Among tribal communities they are found to be the best honey collectors applying different techniques. They were mainly hunters and food gatherers with sporadic shifting cultivation around their settlements. They still subsist on non timber forest produce collection. The headman is called ‘Muthan’ or ‘Muthali’ who also officiates as priest. They have already responded to quality education and the implementation of development programmes may help them to improve their quality of life Kattunayakan is a community with the largest population among PVTG in Kerala.

10. Kochuvelan

  • Name of the community: Ulladan/Kochuvelan
  • Location
    District: Pathanamthitta,Kottayam,Idukki,Ernakulam
    Gram Panchayaths: Chittar, Naranammoozhy (Pathanamthitta District), Mundakkayam (Kottayam District), Kanjikkuzhi (Idukki District), and Kuttampuzha (Eranakulam District)
  • Livelihoods:

Kochu Velan is a locally known term used by the Ulladans (sometimes as the name of their headman) living in the eastern areas of Pathanamthitta District. ‘Ullu’ means forest areas and ‘Aliyavar’ means those who ruled. It is believed that their original settlements were in forest areas and later on they came down and settled in plain areas too. Their traditional dialect is almost not in use and they now speak Malayalam. Generally head man of Ulladan community is known as ‘Kanikaran’. The headman presides over the council of elders. They were semi nomadic in the past. They have the indigeneous knowlege of collecting medicinal herbs which they sell in the local markets. They have the right to enter even the sacred groves for the collection of medicinal plants. Ulladans living on the banks of Western Kuttanad backwaters are good carpenters and are known for their expertise in canoe making. They have become wood cutters also. They also subsist on non timber forest produce especially honey collection.Today a major section of them are agricultural abourers. Ulladans who are settled in urban and semi-urban plain areas have responded to development and progressed in their own way.

11. Koraga

  • Name of the community: Koraga
  • Location
    District: Kasargod

Villages: Panoor

Koragas are distributed only in Kasargod District and in the adjoining area of Karnataka State. Ninety Families living in Pavoor Colony having an extent of 311 acres of land at Manjeswaram, had embraced Christianity way back in 1913. They had a glorious history of having a Koraga region under Hubashika Raja, but later on they were enslaved by their rulers. ‘Kora’ means sun and it is said that they worship sun and hence the term ‘Koraga’ originated from it. They speak Tulu. They live in ‘Mathadi’(settlements) and the headman is known as ‘Koppu’ or ‘Guru Kara’ who controls the social and cultural practices. They had also a council of elders for decision making and awarding punishments. Koragas were treated as agrestic slaves and were sold along with the land by their respective masters. They are experts in basketry and weaving a variety of items like winnowing fans, cradles and baskets. They collect the raw materials like bamboos, canes and creepers available from the nearby forests. Currently the community faces severe health problems. Koraga can march ahead through planned development. A concerted effort has to be made for their economic upliftment and redeeming them from the disparities in social position as well.

12. Kudiya, Malakudiya

  • Name of the community: Kudiya
  • Location
    District: Kasaragod
    Villages: Paivelika , Puthige, Panathady , Enmakaje , Vorkadi , Meencha, Belur

Kudiya and Melakudi are found only in Kasaragod District and in the South Karnataka. Those who live in lowland are called Kudiya and highlanders are the Melakudi. They speak Tulu. A caste council of elders existed among them. Their headman is called ‘Gurikara’ or ‘Malemudiya’,who intervenes into transgression of caste rules. The religious functions are officiated by a ‘Purohit’ (priest). Traditionally, they were hunters and gatherers and in the course of time, they turned into marginal farmers. They subsist on rearing pigs, poultry, cattle and work as agricultural abourers. They also make baskets. Being a community having a population of 911, their development plans are to be focused on family based projects. Those living in remote and isolated areas do not have adequate infrastructural facilities for their total development.

13. Kurichan (Kurichiyan)

  • Name of the community: Kurichiyan
  • Location
    District: Wayanad
  • Contact details of Informants:
  • Demographic details:
    Population:25266 (KILA 2008)
    Literacy: 84.76% (KILA 2008)

Population in the 15-59 age group : 16952
Students/not working due to various reasons :4970
Agriculture as primary occupation : 4674
Agriculture labor as primary occupation :3878
MNREGA as primary occupation:1498
Animal Husbandry as primary occupation :510

And 2.98% of the population works in Government projects and sector.

Kurichiyans are divided into four groups, namely; ‘Jati’ Kurichiyans of Wayanad,

‘Kunnam’ Kurichiyans of Kannur, ‘Anchilla’ Kurichiyans of Tirunelli and ‘Pathiri’(priest) Kurichiyans who embraced Christianity way back in 1908-10. They speak the North Malabar dialect of Malayalam, but the elders still talk in their own dialect. A Kurichiyan leader, Thalakkal Chandhu along with Pazhassi Raja fought with bows and arrows against the Britishers between 1802 and 1805. The Kurichiya rebellion of 1812 showed how they were organised to fight bravely against the policies of Britishers. Kurichiyans of Wayanad follow joint family system called ‘Mittom’ consisting of 30 to 100 or more members. The elder male in a mittom is called ‘Poopan’ and his wife is known as ‘Poopathi’. Their teritorial head is called ‘Nadu Moopan’. They still adhere to then customary laws and practices. The younger generation has shown a tendency to form nuclear families. Kurichiyans are rated as the best paddy cultivators among the Scheduled Tribes of Kerala. They cultivate many species of rice. They are also adapted to the cultivation of ragi, coffee, pepper, arecanut etc. Both men and women participate in almost all agricultural operations irrespective of their age. They have an expert knowledge in identifying medicinal plants for curing certain diseases.

14. Kuruman(Mulla Kuruman, Mala Kuruman)

  • Name of the community: Mullakkurumar
  • Location
    District: Wayanad
    Meenangadi,Noolpuzha, Nenmeni, Poothadi, Ambalavayal, Pulpally, Kaniyambetta and Sulthanbathery grama panchayaths
  • Demographic details:
    Population(KILA Survey 2008):20983
    Literacy(KILA Survey 2008):

Population in the 15-59 age group: 15024

Students/not working due to various reasons: 4887
Agriculture labor as primary occupation: 5142

Agriculture as primary occupation: 1316
7.48 of the population works in Gov sector.

Mullu Kuruman, Mulla Kuruman and Mala Kuruman refer to a single ethnographic community called Mulla Kuruman. They are distributed mainly in Wayanad District and also in the adjoining parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka States. It is belived that they are the autochthones of Wayanad and descendants of Veda Kings who originally ruled there. The older generation speak a dialact of their own and new generation has switched over to Malayalam Mulla Kuruman settlements are known as ‘Kudi’. Each settlement has a ‘Porunnavan’ who controls the traditional social organisation. He is assisted by a ‘Porathavan’ and a few others. A group of nearby settlements is controlled by a common headman and above all there is a chief headman called ‘Nadukarnavan’. Their traditional political organisation was so strong that they had fortified centers and remants testify the same .

15. Kurumbas

  • Name of the community: Kurumbas (Kurumbar, Kurumban)
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Villages: Agali, Pudur
  • Demographic details:
    Sex ratio(Sensus 2001) :  1000:996

Kurumbar are distributed in Attappady Block Panchayat of Palakkad District. They are the earliest inhabitants of Attappady area and are called ‘Palu Kurumba’ to distinguish them from the ‘Alu Kurumba’ of Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu State. The language spoken by them is a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. The traditional social organisation of Kurumbar is similar to that of Mudugar and Irular communities residing in that area. Kurumbar mostly living in Reserve and Vested Forest areas have been practising shifting cultivation called ‘Panja Krishi’. They cultivate Ragi, Thuvara, Chama etc. They are experts in cattle rearing. They are also collectors of non timber forest produces. They maintain a community life by sharing land and labour. Kurumbas were once hunters and gatherers and shifting cultivators of Attappady Valley.

However, among the five PVTG of Kerala, the younger generation of the Kurumba community have shown more interest than others in organising themselves and getting educated.Kurumba community is settled in Agali and Pudur Grama Panchayats of Palakkad District.

16. Mahamalasar

  • Name of the community: Mahamalasar
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Villages: MuthalamadaDemographic details:

Sex Ratio (Sensus 2011) : 1000 : 932

  • Livelihoods: Food Gathering, Collection of non timber produces.

Maha Malasar, living in inacessible high forests of Palakkad District, is numerically the smallest Scheduled Tribe community of Kerala. Their counterparts are distributed in the Anamalai Hills of Tamil Nadu State. They speak a dialect of Tamil. Maha Malasar prefer to live in forests at high elevations. They have a headman called ‘Moopan’ which is hereditary. Their major economic activities are food gathering and collection of non timber forest produces which they exchange with petty traders from the plains for food grains, cloths etc.

The forest laws and menace of the wild animals prevent them from any type of cultivation.There are only 40 families of Maha Malasar community and all are settled in Muthalamada Grama Panchayat, Palakkad District

17. Malai Arayan

  • Name of the community: Malai arayan / Malayaran / mala arayan
  • Location

District: Kottayam, Idukki
Taluk: Meenachi (Kottayam), Thodupuzha (Idukki)
Villages: Melukavu , Moonnilavu, Mundakkayam , Koruthodu and Erumeli Grama Panchayaths of Kottayam and Velliyamattom, Arakkulam, Udumbannur and Vannappuram, Adimali,Kanjikuzhy, Muttom and Kokkayar, in Idukki District Ranni Perunad (Pathanamthitta District),Thalanad (Kottayam District), and Kuttampuzha (Eranakulam District)

Mala Arayans, are mainly distributed in Meenachil Taluk of Kottayam District andThodupuzha Taluk of Idukki District. They have migrated and formed a few settlements in the Districts of Eranakulam, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvananthapuram and Wayanad. This is the first Scheduled Tribe community in Kerala to embrace Christianity and this group comes to 30 per cent of their population. The conversion dates back to 1853 and the missionaries started vernacular schools and as a result their march to progress has been fast and steady. They speak Malayalam although they had a dialect of their own which became obsolete. The Poonjar Raja had suzerainty over the Malayarayar people residing in his jurisdiction. The Raja used to confer a title to the Malai Arayans called ‘Ponamban’ and a silver headed cane. The subjects paid a nominal tax. There has been a council of elders to operate the social control mechanism of the community.

Mala Arayans have become settled agriculturists. It is seen that sizable portions of their land holdings have been turned into rubber plantations. Other commercial crops are also there.

18. Malai Pandaran

  • Name of the community: Malai Pandaran
  • Location
    District: Kollam, Pathanamthitta
    Villages:Piravanthur and Ariankavu Grama Panchayats in Kollam District and Ranni Perunad, Seethathodu and Aruvappulam Grama Panchayats in Pathanamthitta District
  • Demographic details:
  • Sex Ratio (2001) : 1000 : 1024
  • Livelihoods:

Malai Pandarams are found on the eastern hill areas of Kollam and Pathanamthitta Districts. They speak a dialect with many Tamil and Malayalam phrases.The social organisation of Malai Pandaram is typical of a territorial nomadic forest dwelling community as they remain for some time in one place and move on to another in search of non timber forest produces. There is area wise grouping called ‘Koottam’ ie, territorial. The headman is known as ‘Muttukani’ who acts as their ritual head also. In the erstwhile Travancore area, Malai Pandarams were known as the best collectors of non timber forest produces which they used for their subsistence and trade. In the past they contacted country traders for bartering hill produces to obtain essentials. Even now they depend on forest produces for their livelihood. The developmental programmes has not helped them to produce even a steady first generation of literates. They need community specific initiatives for improvement of their livelihood.

19. Malai Vedan (Mala Vedan)

  • Name of the community: Mala Vedan / malai vedan
  • Location
    District: Pathanamthitta, Kottayam , Kollam and idukki
    Villages: Naranammuzhi Grama Panchayat in Pathanamthitta District, Piravanthur, Thenmala (Kollam District), Pramadom (Pathanamthitta District), Erumeli and Manimala (Kottayam District) Grama panchayath(In addition, they have rspresentation in 7 more districts, but not in sizeable population)
  • Demographic details:
    sex ratio as 1000 : 1069
  • Livelihoods: Manual Labourers

Malavedans are found mainly in the Districts of Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam.They are also scattered in the neighbouring areas. They are considered to belong to ‘Pre-Dravidian Race’. They speak a dialect of Tamil and Malayalam. In social organisation, they are divided into five endogamous sub-divisions, ‘Tolvedans’,‘Cheenkannivedans’,‘Cheruvedans’,‘Elichathvedans’and ‘Valiyavedans’. Traditionally the headman acts as the medicine man.

Malavedans who subsisted mainly on food gathering and hunting have turned as manual labourers. Both men and women are experts in collecting medicinal herbs. They have lost all their traditional resources and heavily depend upon external support. An integrated rehabilitation measure with proper extension work can build up a first generation of development oriented persons among them.

20. Malakuravan

21. Malasar

  • Name of the community: Malasar
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Taluk: Chittur
    Villages:Eruthempathy, Kozhinjampara, Perumatty, Vadakarapathy, Muthalamada, Nelliampathy and Pudusseri Grama Panchayats

Malasar community members are distributed both in the plains and valleys of Chittur Taluk of Palakkad District and also in the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. They speak Tamil. They live in settlements called ‘Pathi’ and each ‘Pathi’ is headed by a headman called ‘Moopan’ who is assisted by a few others. They have lost their command over resources and now they depend upon manual labour to eke out their living. Community specific programmes are to be chalked out to address their development in future

22. Malayan, Nattu Malayan, Konga Malayan (Excluding the areas comprising the Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode Districts)

  • Name of the community: Malayan
  • Location
    District: Eranakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad
    Villages:Pananchery Grama Panchayat in Thrissur District has the largest representation of Malayan community among 33 Grama Panchayats which have population of the community. Vengur (Eranakulam District), Pazhayannur, Puthur, Varandarappilly and Athirappilly (Thrissur District), Ayiloor and Kizhakkanchery (Palakkad District) are the other Grama Panchayats

Malayan, Nattu Malayan, Konga Malayan (Excluding the areas comprising Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikod Districts) recognised as Scheduled Tribes have two sub divisions, viz; ‘Nattu Malayan’ who are the original inhabitants in the hill areas of Kerala and ‘Konga Malayan’ who appears to have migrated from the forests of Coimbatore District in Tamil Nadu. There is another distinct community with the same spelling, classified under the list of Scheduled Castes and the area restriction is imposed to distinguish these two communities. The ‘Nattu Malayans’ have a dialect of their own while the ‘Konga Malayan’ speak a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. They have a headman in every settlement called ‘Elumoopan’ who is assisted by a ‘Kaikaran.’ The primary occupation of Malayan community is forest labour and collection of non timber forest produces. They are efficient in cutting bamboo and reeds from the forest. They are also agriculturists. But the Forest Laws have restricted many of their cultivation and they are now striving to get their traditional rights through the fair implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006. The irrigation projects like Peechi and Chimminy have affected their livelihood pattern.

23. Mavilan

  • Name of the community: Mavilan
  • Location
    District: Kannur, Kasargod
    Villages:Madikkai, Pullur Periya, Kuttikol, Bedaduka, Balal, Kallar, Kodombelur, Panathady, West Eleri and Kinanoor-Karinthalam (all in Kasaragod District)
  • Livelihoods: Agriculture, Agriculture labour

Mavilan community is distributed in Kasaragod and Kannur Districts only. There are a number of versions regarding the etymology of the term Mavilan. Some say that they used ‘Mavila’, ie; leaves of the mango tree to cover their body. Some others say ‘Mavila’ is medicinal herb used by them and a few others say ‘Malayilae Velan’ (Forest Velan) came to be known as Mavilan.        They speak Tulu and have a good talking knowledge of Malayalam. Earlier the headman was known as ‘Kiran’ appointed by their landlord mainly to control the work force and also to settle disputes. Now ‘Taravad karnavar’ acts as the headman and officiates the religious rites and rituals too. They have been experts in ‘Punam Kothu’ which involves clearing of virgin forests and converting the same for wet land paddy cultivation owned by their landlords. They were experts in shifting cultivation. Collecting medicinal herbs, non timber forest produces and bamboo provide many with employment. Basket making is also found among them. Anoverwhelming majority of them subsist on agricultural labour. A few of them are marginalfarmers. They have switched over to non agricultural labour too.

Mavilan community has been enlisted under the category of Scheduled Castes till 2002. Their cultural identity and political awarness has grown up and formed organisations to empower themselves. As such the community is ready to adopt innovations brought through planned development.

24. Malayarayar

  • Name of the community:
  • Location
  • Demographic details


25. Mannan

  • Name of the community: Mannan
  • Location
    District: Idukki
    Villages:Adimaly, Mankulam, Udumbanchola, Vazhathope, Kanchiyar and Kumily
  • Demographic details:

Mannan community is believed to have migrated to Idukki from Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Their language is a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. Among the Scheduled Tribe communities of Kerala, Mannan is the only community headed by a Raja, called ‘Kozhimala Raja Mannan’ whose word is final among their society. There is a ‘Mantri‘ (Minister) working under the Raja Mannan. Each settlement has a headman called ‘Kanikaran’. In the past the Poonjar Raja conferred certain privileges to the Mannan community like acting as agents for management of the jurisdiction and collection of taxes Earlier they were nomadic agriculturists and practised shifting cultivation. Now they have become expert settled agriculturists. They also supplement their economy by the collection of non timber forest produces wherever available. They are also associated with the activities under the Eco Development Committees and Vanasamrakshna Samithis. The self perception of the community is high. But educationally they are very backward. Therefore,for their survival, the focus should be on human resources development. Nearly 97 per cent (9064 persons) of Mannan community are inhabitants of Idukki District.

26. Muthuvan

  • Name of the community: Muthuvan
  • Location :
    Taluk: Devikulam
    Villages: Devikulam
  • : Kudi
  • Settlements :
    Kanthalloor – Ollavayalkudi,Mangapparakkudi, KulachivayalKudi,Nakkuppetti,Theerthamalakkudi

Marayur Panchayath – Champattikkudi, Soosanikkudi, Karpoorakkudi, Peliyakudi, kavakkudi, Kulathukalkudi, Nellippetty, Kammalan kudi,

Vattavada Panchayath-Iruttalakkudi, Puthukkudi, Vellakkalkudi, Olikkudi,  Koodalarkudi, Samiyarala kudi, Keezhvalasapettykudi, Melvalasappetty,

Chinnakkanal Panchayath : Pachappulkudi, Chempakathozhukudi,

Mankulam Panchayath – Tankukudi, Seval Kudi, Chikkannankudi, singkukudi, Koyalakkudi

Munnar : Subrahmanyankudi, Kampanikkudi, Veliyamparakudi,

Idamalakkudi panchayath(Tribal ) – Andavankudi,  Idalipparakkudi, Vellarakkudi, Shettukudi, Elapparakkudi, Keezhthandam, Penaypparakkudi, Kavakkattukudi, Nooradikkudi, Valyamparakkudi, Parakkudi, Mulakutharakkudi, Irippukalkkudi, Nenmanalkudi, Ambalapparakkudi, Vellakkasham Kudi, Vazhakkuthkudi, OOdalarkudi, Perumkadavkudi, Nadukkudi, ParappayarKudi, Thenparakkudi, ThandathKudi, Meenkuthkudi, Puthukkudi

Shanthanpara Panchayath – Kasappumeenkudi, Kavakkattukudi, komalikkudi,kandathkudi,Udumbanpara, Vazhakkuthoor, Vayakkdavkudi,Kundalakkudi,Aduvizhunthankudi,

Adimali Panchayath – Kattamudikkudi, Kunchippettikkudi, Ilambilasserykkudi, Padikkappukudi, Veliyamparakkudi, Muuthasserykudi, Thalarappankudi, Choorakettankudi, Thumbipparakkudi, Thattekkkannan Kudi, Ozhivuthadam Kudi, Njavalpara kudi, Plamalakkudi, Noorankarara kudi, Korangattikkudi, Machiplavukudi
Baisan Valley Panchayath : Chokramudikkudi, Irupathekkarkkudi, Pethallakkudi

Mankulam Panchayath : Kozhiyalakkudi, Shevalkkudi, Kambanikkudi, Kallakkuttikudi, Sinkukudi, Parakkudi, Pikkanamkudi,

Rajakumari Panchayath – Manjakkuzhi Muthuvakkudi,

Kattappana Panchayath – Idukkikkavala Tribal Colony

  • Livelihoods: Shifting Cultivation, Crop Cultivation, Oil Distillation, Wage labor
  • Other Details : Less Sociable , Wage labor recent change

Muthuvan community mainly concentrated in Idukki District and its contiguous hill areas of Eranakulam and Thrissur. Mudugar community found exclusively in Attappady area of Palakkad District, are really two distinct communities. The term ‘Muduvan’ is a synonym of ‘Muthuvan’. Again the people who are refered as Muthuvan community found on the eastern side of Malappuram and Kozhikkod Districts have no connection with the Muthuvans of Idukki District. Details of these ethnic groups are given below:

(a)    Muthuvan: Idukki, Eranakulam and Thrissur Districts Muthuvan community just  like the Mannan community, also came from the erstwhile parts of Pandya Kingdom in Tamil Nadu. Etymologically, it is said that ‘Muthu’ means back and ‘van’ means one who carries weight on the back. The  dialect spoken by them is closely related to Tamil. The social organisation of Muthuvan community is unique and they have‘Chavadis’ (dormitories) system in every settlement to house both boys and girls separately. The headman called ‘Moopan’ holds supreme control of the communityand presides over the council of elders. In some area a ‘Kani’ is nominated to dealwith the officials. Muthuvans are known for their organic cultivation of ragi and paddy. They shift the cultivation site every two years. The wild varieties of cardamom and pepper strengthen their economic base.

The traditional value system of purity and pollution ideas prevalent among the Muthuvans distanced them from other communities, especially their women to attain formal education. Their womenfolk face newly developed health problems.There should be a holistic development project to improve their living conditions. There is scope for promoting organic cultivation in their areas.

(b) Muthuvan: Malappuram and Kozhikod Districts Muthuvan community residing beyond the eastern side of Chaliyar river.  They had a dialect which has given way to Malayalam. The headman controls the affairs of the community. Traditionally they have been expert cultivators. They also depended on forest produces. Now they subsist on agriculture labour, forest labour and cultivation. Geographical isolation has affected their educational development. If agriculture based schemes are revived, the community can attain sustainable development in future.

27. Mudugar

  • Name of the community: Mudugar
  • Location
    District: Palakkad
    Villages: Agali, Pudur

As already mentioned Mudugar distributed in Palakkad district, is one among the three communities of Attappady region. They have a distinct identity because of their traditional right to climb the Malleeswaran Peak and light the lamp on the ‘Sivaratri’ day. They have a dialect of their own known as ‘Muduga Bhasha’ Mudugar have the institutions of ‘Ooru Moopan’, (Headman)‘Bhandari’ (Treasurer),‘Kuruthalai’ (Assistant) and ‘Mannukaran’ (soil expert). This system is similar to the traditional social organisation of the other two tribal communities of Attappady, viz; Irular and Kurumbar.

Mudugar practise settled agriculture with many features of shifting cultivation. They used to cultivate ‘ragi’, ‘chama’, ‘thina’ etc. They also collect non timber forest produces. Their land has been alienated as they have little knowledge to secure documents relating to their possesion. The working population among them has become agricultural laboures as agriculture and animal husbandary, have slowly been changing as their subsidiary occupations. The community is pro-educative and inputs to agriculture can sustain their livelihood means.

28.Palleyan, Palliyan, Paliyar, Palliya

  • Name of the community: Palliyan
  • Location
    District: Idukki
    Taluk : Kattappana (? Taluk Search)
    Villages: Puliyanmala,
  • SettlementsKattappana Panchayath – Shivalingakkudi

Vandanmedu – Kadashikkadav IMS Colony, Paliyakkudi, Pachupilla Palikkudi, Hemakkadav Paliyakkudi,

Chakkuvallam Panchayath – Chakkuvallam Paliyakkudi

Kumali Panchayath – Paliyakkudi

Vazhathopp Panchayath – Kolumpan Colony

  • Demographic details:
    Population :4879 (Check : KILA)
  • Livelihoods:

They are distributed in Idukki District and in the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. Their dialect has affinity to Tamil. Each settlement has a headman called ‘Kanikaran’. Thesystem of traditional headman has given way to a commonly accepted or sometimes elected president (Oorumoopan). In the past, Paliyans were nomadic in their territorial area. They practised shifting cultivation. Few of them had land to cultivate. But majority of Paliyans has become plantation labourers in various tea estates of Idukki District. Community specific programmes can address their low standard of living.

29. Paniyan

  • Name of the community: Paniyan
  • Location
    District: Waynad
    Mananthavadi, Vythiri, Bathery,Thondarnad, Kalpetta, Panamaram, Kottathra, Periya, Edavaka Grama Panchayaths
  • Socio Political head : Chemmi/Mothali
  • Demographic details:
    Population:69116 (KILA 2008)
    Literacy : 64.72 (KILA 2008)
  • Livelihoods:Population in the 15-59 age group : 4297
    Students/not working due to various reasons :9380
    Agriculture labor as primary occupation : 229
    Animal Husbandry as primary occupation : 151
    Forest resource collection as primary occupation :369

Paniyan community which is the numerically largest among the Scheduled Tribes of Kerala is mainly distributed in Wayanad District. They are also found in Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad Districts. Paniyan community living in the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu is recognized as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) there.

Etymologically ‘Pani’ means labour and ‘Paniyan’ signifies ‘one who works’. According to their oral tradition, they lived freely in Ippimala, a mountain near Banasura Peak in Wayanad and was enslaved by the farming immigrants of the early centuries. They speak a language of Malayalam mixed with Tamil words which is called ‘Paniyabhasha’.

The headman of each settlement is called ‘Kuttan’ appointed by the landlord. A group of traditional areas called ‘Nadu’ had a hereditary headman called ‘Koyma’. Under him, there are ‘Chemmi’ the actual head of each settlement who is assisted by messengers called ‘Karayma’

Paniyans treated as slaves of their respective landlords, were victims of bonded labour system. During the festival of Valliyurkavu near Mananthavady the contract to work as bonded labourer, was renewed annually where the landlord paid an advance called ‘Nippu

panam’. Paniyans who possessed muscular bodies could carry out any hard physical labour. They have been and continue to be the best tillers of soil. Although they have been freed by the enactment of the Abolition of Bonded Labour system since 1976, they still subsist on agriculture labour or any other manual labour. They migrate seasonally to Coorg and other nearby places in Karnataka for employment. The post independence rehabilitaition measures like land for landless have helped a few families while majority of them lead appallingly low life. Their self perception is low because of the attitude of others. Their human capital is to be tapped. A new holistic development package has to be planned in consulation with their ‘Oorukoottams’. Paniyans are the largest community among Scheduled Tribes. But they are the most backward and the poorest among the Scheduled Tribes in the state.

30. Ulladan, Ullatan

  • Name of the community: Ulladan/ Ullatan
  • Location
    District: All districts except Palakkad and Kannur
    Villages:Ulladan community is settled in 12 districts (except Palakkad and Kannur) and in 263 local bodies in the state. The local bodies include one Corporation (Kochi), 17 Municipalities and 245 Grama Panchayats. Thus Ulladan community has the honour of havingrepresentation over in the largest number of Panchayat Raj Institutions in Kerala.However, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki and Eranakulam are the 5 districts which have sizable population of Ulladan community. There are 4864 families of Ulladan community and their population is 17557, consisting of 8560 males and 8997 females. The family size is 3.61 where as the sex ratio works out to 1000 : 1051. Even though the population of the community is distributed in a large number of Grama Panchayats, population above 500 has been recorded only in a few Grama Panchayats. Chittar, Naranammoozhy (Pathanamthitta District), Mundakkayam (Kottayam District), Idukki Kanjikkuzhi (Idukki District), and Kuttampuzha (Eranakulam District) are the examples.

Kochu Velan is a locally known term used by the Ulladans (sometimes as the name of their headman) living in the eastern areas of Pathanamthitta District. ‘Ullu’ means forest areas and ‘Aliyavar’ means those who ruled. It is believed that their original settlements were in forest areas and later on they came down and settled in plain areas too. Their traditional dialect is almost not in use and they now speak Malayalam. Generally head man of Ulladan community is known as ‘Kanikaran’. The headman presides over the council of elders. They were semi nomadic in the past. They have the indigeneous knowlege of collecting medicinal herbs which they sell in the local markets. They have the right to enter even the sacred groves for the collection of medicinal plants. Ulladans living on the banks of Western Kuttanad backwaters are good carpenters and are known for their expertise in canoe making. They have become wood cutters also. They also subsist on non timber forest produce especially honey collection. Today a major section of them are agricultural labourers. Ulladans who are settled in urban and semi-urban plain areas have responded to development and progressed in their own way.

31. Mala Vettuvan (in Kasaragod and Kannur Districts)

  • Name of the community: Mala vettuvan
  • Location
    District:Kasaragod and Kannur.
    Villages: Kuttikol, Balal, Kallar, Kodombelur, East Eleri, West Eleri and Kinanoor Karinthalam (Kasargode)
  • Livelihoods: Traditionally Malavettuvans are experts in ‘Punamkothu’. Now they subsist mainly on agriculture labour

Malavettuvan community classified as an Other Eligible Community (OEC) till the Amendment (Act 10 of 2003), is a new entry into the list of Scheduled Tribes of Kerala. They are distributed only in the Ghat areas of Kasaragod and Kannur Districts. They speak a dialet of Malayalam and Tulu. The headman of Malavettuvans was called ‘Kiran’ who according to tradition was appointed by their respective landlords. The ‘Kiran’ took orders from their landlord and supplied manual wokers to the landlords. The relevance of ‘Kiran’ is no more there and each settlement has a leader known in common term as ‘Moopan’. Traditionally Malavettuvans are experts in ‘Punamkothu’. Now they subsist mainly on agriculture labour. Their area is backward and they themselves are backward socially, economically and educationally. However the community is organised and ready to respond to development initiatives.

32. Ten Kurumban, Jenu Kurumban

  • Name of the community: Ten Kurumban
  • Location
  • Demographic details:

33. henadan, Thachenadan, Moopan

  • Name of the community: Thachenadan Mooppan
  • Location
    District: Wayanad
  • Livelihoods: They are marginal farmers. They are experts in bamboo basket making and they know carpentry.

Thachanadan Moopan is found only in Wayanad District. This community is also a new entry to the list of Scheduled Tribes since 2003. Originally the community was known as ‘Koodammar’. It is said that they came from ‘Thachanadu’ area in Nilambur and hence came to be known by this name. They speak Malayalam. The Thachanadan Moopan has two headmen in every settlement. The senior is called ‘Muthalai’ who settles disputes, arranges marriages and performs oblations to male deities. ‘Eleri’ the second headman is the priest and magician and he is the competant person to fix the date and time of marriage and to make offerings to female deities. They are marginal farmers. They are experts in bamboo basket making and they know carpentry. But the entry of plastic baskets have affected their traditional occupation.

34. Cholanaickan

  • Name of the community: Cholanaickan
  • Location
    District: Wayanad
    Amarambalam, Karulari and Vazhikkadavu Grama Panchayaths
  • Contact details of Informants:
  • Demographic details:
  • Livelihoods:

Cholanaickans are found only in the evergreen recess of the forests of the Ghat section of Karulai and Vazhikkadavu forest ranges of Nilambur Valley of Malappuram District. They have been geographically isolated and leading a life fully with dense tropical rain forest environment. ‘Chola’ means shade and ‘Naickan’ or ‘Nayakan’ denotes leader. They speak a dialect of their own having a mixture of Kannada and Malayalam. Cholonaickans are distributed in ten hamlets in the deep forest called ‘Jemmom’ and each ‘Jemmom’ has a leader called ‘Jemmakkaran’ who performs both socio political and religious functions. The families associated with each Jemmom do not trespass the rights of other Jemmoms. They practise Jemmom exogamy.

Among the Scheduled Tribes of Kerala, Cholanaickan has a unique position in the sense that they are the only community who depend solely on non timber forest produces for their consumption and for exchange or sale. Their territory is blessed with abundance of non timber forest produces. They spend most of their forest life in natural rock shelters.

35. Malapanickar

  • Name of the community: Malapanickar
  • Location
    District: Malappuram
  • Livelihoods: Agricultural labor

Malaipanicker community is found only in Malappuram District and they got constitutional recognition only in 2003. They speak Malayalam retaining certain variations of their own. The social control mechanism is maintained by the head of the family called ‘Karnavar’. They were cultivators of the land owned by the Nilambur ‘Kovilakom’. Earlier they practised shifting cultivation. Now they have become marginal farmers. Majority of them work as agricultural labourers. The developmental issues of smaller communities especially those having below 1000 population like the Malaipanicker have to be viewed separately so as to ensure social justice to all.

36. Vettakuruman

  • Name of the community: Vettakkurumar
  • Location
    District :Wayanad
    Thirunelli, Ambalavayal, Noolpuzha, Panamaram and Poothadi Grama Panchayats.
  • Demographic details:
  • Population(KILA Survey 2008): 6472
    Literacy(KILA Survey 2008):67.53%
  • Livelihoods: Once pursued wide variety of artisan occupations such as pottery, blacksmith, basketry etc. They supplied agricultural instruments and earth wares to the whole of the district.
    Population in the 15-59 age group : 4058
    Students/not working due to various reasons :869
    Agriculture labor as primary occupation : 2355
    MNREGA as primary occupation : 245
  • Vetta Kuruman, which is recoginized as a Scheduled Tribe community in 2003, is found only in Wayanad District and its adjoining areas of Karnataka State. In the local parlance they are known as ‘Urali Kurumans’. Prior to 2003 they were under the guise of Scheduled Tribe Uraly community of Idukki District and as such returned as Uraly in Census records.Their real identity is revived now. They are bilingual in Kannada and Malayalam. But among themselves they use their own dialect.They have a headman called ‘Megalan’ who preside over all their social functions like initiating marriages, negotiations, arranging agricultural activity etc. Vetta Kurumans are basically forest dwellers. They have a unique position among all the Scheduled Tribes of Kerala. They have been well known for their artistic skill in making hand made pottery. They cut and fashion wooden artefact and carry out carpentry work connected with the construction of their houses. Thus they possess many skills and as such they can be called the ‘jack of all trades’.

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