(Last Updated on : 12/12/2008)
The beautiful state of Kerala
is an abode of quite a large number of tribal communities, who have mainly scattered in several areas like Devikulam, Adimali, and Nedumkandam block Panchayats. These Muthivan tribes love to live peacefully in the lapse of dense forestry.
The origin of these Muthuvan tribal societies has got a significant history behind. As per the observation of many anthropologists of the Indian territory, the Muthuvan people tribes serve as obedient subjects of the royal dynasty of Madurai. In fact the popular legend is that when the dynasty was thrown out of power, these existing royal members immigrated to several places of the central Kerala, like Travancore, and accomplished the famous dynasty of Poonjar. While going to Kerala state, the Muthuva tribes carried along with them the images of the deity of the regal family, Madurai Meenakshi, at the back of their bodies. What is also interesting is that the word Muthuvan has been taken from the word "muthuku" which stands for back in both the Malayalam
and Tamil languages.
Indian anthropologists have thrown some lights on the lifestyle of these Muthuvan tribes. It is one of the few tribes who have still abstained from developing connections with the people of the outside world. These Muthuvan tribes are quite independent and do not rely the people of the civilized society. These Muthuvan tribes have restrained from partaking academics and education. So much so, that most of these Muthuvan tribes also refuse to maintain connection with other tribes also. Especially, the Muthuvan females have to obey to the strict rules of the society of not maintaining any relation with the people outside their tribal community, including all the males. Instances are cited where it has been found that the Muthuvan females had to stay aloof and live an isolated life in the bamboo huts without talking or even seeing men outside the Muthuvan tribe.
Agriculture is the main occupation of these Muthuvan tribes, producing quite a number of products like ragi, cardamom and lemon grass. They have got three to ten acres of forest lands allotted for farming and other related activities. However, these Muthuvan tribes also being exploited by the mediators. Taking advantage of their simplicity and lack of awareness, these people pay less for various products like cardamom.
By nature, these Muthuvan tribes have adopted to the habitat of the wild life. Generally, they swallow water from the dense forest streams, devouring wild roots and living a simple and hassle free life. Thus in many respects these tribes are quite different from all the other tribal communities in India. Just like many of the tribal communities of the Indian subcontinent, these Muthuvan tribes have developed addiction to tabacco and that too at a very early stage of their lives. Men are very much addicted to alcohols and other intoxicants. In the Idukki district mainly, these Muthuvan tribes extracts starch and palm vines applying a special method extraction.
The starch that has been extracted is utilized for the preparation of several dishes .
However palm vine is devoured directly with no fermentation.
Another interesting feature of these Muthuvan tribes is that they have development their own methods of treating ill people who suffer from various diseases. In fact six varieties of piper are mostly user as medicines.