(Last Updated on : 12/12/2008)
The Kurichya Tribe is one of the most ancient tribes that ever resided in India. Their ancestry dates back to the times of Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. The Kurichyas reside in the Wayanad district, one of the most loved hill stations in northern Kerala
. Wayanad is nestled within the lofty mountains of the Western Ghats. A considerable population of Wayand are tribals. Besides the Kurichya tribe, the other adivasis (tribals) primarily consist of sects like Paniyas, Kurumas, Adiyars, Ooralis and Kattunaikkans.
The Kurichya tribe of Wayanad is equipped with an incredible martial tradition. In fact, it was this tribe who represented the army of Pazzhassi Veera Kerala Varma Rajah, who battled hostilities with the British forces in a number of combats. The descendants of those warriors are still known to be professional archers. The brilliancy of Kurichya archery has recently been demonstrated in umpteen centres.
Recorded history of Kurichya tribes of Wayanad in northern Kerala is available since the 18th century. During olden times, this land was ruled by the Rajas of the Veda tribe. In later days of British imperialism, the king Kerala Varma Pazhassi Rajah of Kottayam had to severely contest the colonialists, tremendously failing in his attempt. When the Rajah was driven to wilderness of Wayanad, he organised a colossal war. It was then that he composed the Kurichya tribals into a sort of people's militia and engaged the British in numerous guerrilla face-offs. And it is for this precise reason that the Kurichya tribals are still esteemed as skilful warriors.
No religion is predominant in Wayanad in northern Kerala. A distinguishing characteristic of Wayanad is a large adivasi (tribal) population. Though adivasis belong to Hinduism, primitive forms of worship still exist among them. Ancestral worship and offerings to pacify the spirits of ancestors are still widespread. Two deities commonly worshipped by the tribals are Thampuratty and Vettakkorumakan. They also worship Hindu Gods of various temples in the district. Adivasis do not have any temple of their own. Paniyar, Adiyan, Kurichya, Kurumar, Kattunaikkar, Kadan and Oorali are the different aboriginal tribes of Wayanad. The Kurichya tribe are the most developed among them. They engage themselves as small landowners, whereas the members of other tribes are mostly labourers. The chief tribal arts performed in the district are Vattakali and Koodiyattam. The Kurichyas perform these arts by employing Nellukuthu pattu.
The Kurchiya tribes of Wayanad in northern Kerala constitute to a population of 29,375 (according to the 1981 census) and speak the languages of Kurichya, Kurichia and Kurichchia. The tribe comes under the categorisation of unclassified Dravidians.