(Last Updated on : 22/10/2009)
The tribes of Wayanad district can be broadly categorized into three main divisions like the The Paniyas, The Adiyas and the Kurichyas.
A vast majority of tribes in Kerala
State come from the Paniya tribal division. About 71.95 percent of the total tribal population is found only in Wayanad district. The Paniyan means 'worker' as they were supposed to have been the workers of non-tribes that means they had to work for the general non-tribal people. In earlier days Paniya settlement used to have a headman called 'kuttan' appointed by the landlord. Next in rank to Kuttan was the 'Mudali' or head of the family. Both 'Kuttan' and 'Mudali' are called 'Mooppanmar'. Monogamy appears to be the general rule among the Paniyas.
In marriages also there is some points which resemblances the characteristics of other tribal communities such as bride price. Widow remarriage is also allowed. The Paniyas have only a crude idea of religion. Their major deity is 'Kali' who is believed to be malevolent and so powerful. They also worship Banyan tree
. They hesitate to cut such trees and also possess a belief that if anyone attempts to cut them they will fall sick.
The Adiya tribe is also like the Paniyas. This is also one of the slave tribal wings in Kerala. In the nuclear Adiya family the husband is the head of the family. Bride price is given to the parents of the bride from the groom. Polygamy is practiced as well as Divorce, widow marriage, etc., are also permitted. Even if their women commit such offences they are allowed to undergo "purificatory" ceremony known as 'Kalachu Veypu' to join their community back. The Adiyas call such women as 'Chullachi'. The Adiya tribal community is divided into 20 classes called 'Mandu' whereas the head of the Mandu is called 'Chommikkaran' or 'Peruman'.
This particular Kurichyas tribe of Wayanad has a great martial tradition. They constituted the army of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja who fought the British forces in several battles. The descendants of those warriors are still expert archers. Recently various centres exhibit the excellence of Kurichya archery in many ways. The Kurichyas are the most developed among the adivasis and they also own small lands. The art performed by Kurichyas is 'Nellukuthu pattu' which is very famous among the localites.