Different Tribes of Kerala
The tribes of Kerala differ from each other depending upon the region they reside. All the tribes of Kerala build a rich, unique, varied and critical element of Indian tradition. There are 35 tribal communities in Kerala that make up about 2 percent of the state’s total population. The major tribes of Kerala are namely Irular tribe, Urali tribe, Paniyan tribe, Kapu tribe, Kanikkar tribe, Kadar tribe, etc. In Kerala, the Ulladan tribe resides in every corner of districts including the Idukki district, Kottayam district, Pathanamthitta district and the Kollam district of the state.
Irular Tribe: Irular tribe is a Scheduled Tribe of Kerala. This tribe was originally known as ‘Villu-Vedan’ meaning hunters using bows and arrows. The present name may be the corruption of an early name ‘Eravan’ meaning beggar as because some of them managed to survive by begging.
Urali Tribe: Urali tribe is found in Idukki, Kottayam and Kollam districts of Kerala. Most of them live on small huts made on tree tops inside the forest. They are engaged in cultivation and collection of forest produces.
Paniyan Tribe: The Paniyan tribal people of Kerala reside in some parts of Wayanad district, Malappuram district and Kannur district. The word ‘Paniyan’ signifies ‘worker’ and there are several occupations that are practiced by this tribal community including shifting cultivation.
Kadar Tribe: Kadar tribe of Kerala has a rich heritage of adapting the profession of food collection and some of them are the practitioners of art and culture of Kerala.
Pulaya Tribe: Another is the Pulaya tribe which falls into the list of various tribes of Kerala. Mainly due to the wealth of several art forms, namely, Margam kali dance and Chimmanakal, eminent anthropologists have held this tribal community in high esteem. They are the followers of Hinduism and also believe in spirits and magic.
Kuruman Tribe: They are seen in Wayanad district close to forests but live in good houses. All the different communities among them are jointly listed as Kuruman in the scheduled tribe list of the government.
Kanikkar Tribe: Most of the Kanikkar tribal people have a tradition of practicing unique rites and rituals at the time of celebrating wedding and also death.
Ulladan Tribe: The Ulladan are nomadic type of tribal groups seen in the districts south to Thrissur. They are grouped under Scheduled Tribes.