(Last Updated on : 22-10-2009)
Kurichiya tribes of Kerala are the most ancient tribal community of Kerala and they reside in most part of the forest areas of this region and basically near Cannanore and Tamil Nadu districts. Following the tradition of most of the tribes of the Indian subcontinent, these Kurichiya tribes too have adapted to the profession of cultivators. Naturally the society of the Kurichiya tribes too arduously follows the norms and customs of the agrarian tribes.
It has been said by scholars that the name of the tribal group Kurichiya is perhaps derived from their practice of applying 'Kuri' or sandalwood paste on their chests and foreheads.
This tribal people were said to be the first to settle in the Wayanad hills as farmers. Later with the revolt with the British and Muslims they were defeated by the British. The society of the Kurichiya tribes is complex as they maintain caste hierarchy. They consider themselves to be the higher among all the Hindu castes. Matriarchal societal system is followed by the Kurichiya tribes. The society is controlled by the village headman. Being basically agrarian people, the Kurichiya tribes are also engaged in some other services. They cultivate some cash crops and sometimes pepper in their cultivable lands. Some of them earn their livelihood by selling wood. The Kurichiya tribal people are also known for martial arts, hunting and archery. The Kurichiya tribes speak in their local language called Kurichiya which has some similarities with Malayalam.
Culture and ethnicity is quite luxuriant and this has been highlighted in several aspects of the Kurichiya society. These Kurichiya tribes have developed their own food habits. These Kurichiya tribes build their houses and also see so that all their houses, premises and dress always are kept clean.
The society is matrilineal and all these Kurichiya tribes reside in joint families. In these types of families, Pittain is the head that has the entire control of all the household affairs. Maintaining the tradition of the joint family structure, all the members of the same family work hand in hand and contribute to the income of the Kurichiya family as a whole. Marriage is an important institution. Most of the Kurichiya tribes have got a preference for cross-cousin marriage. However, the polyandry is not at all preferred in this Kurichiya society.
As far as the administration and the control of these Kurichiya tribal community is concerned, the whole system is quite efficient. Very stringent rules are followed. If any one is found guilty of wrongdoing, he or she would be excommunicated from the society offenders being excommunicated. Keeping themselves at par with the norms of the modern day society, many of these Kurichiya tribal people have improved their financial status and opt for education and academics.
Some of the traits of the Kurichiya tribes are similar to some other tribes. The Kurichiya tribal people are the believers of Hindu religion. They worship Lord Shiva
and some other Hindu deities and tribal gods and goddesses. They also believe in evil spirits and demons and their supreme deity.