The word ‘Ulladan’ has got an etymological significance. It means interior people, thereby suggesting the possibility that these Ulladan have migrated from the internal forest areas.
There is another story relating to the origination of Ulladan tribes, which is popular amongst the people of the region. According to it, much before the arrival of the British rulers, a gang of soldiers came down from the central province of Travancore and settled down in the forest interiors just to save their lives from the attacks of the local kings. After many years they returned to their original village. However, due to loss of connection for so many years they did not adept to the customs of the civilized society.
Thus, native people named them Ulladan thereby implying that inherited the rustic nature of any of the forest dwellers. Some are also of the opinion that the word ‘Ulkadan’ has been shortened and became Ulladan after a certain point of time.
Life Style of Ulladan Tribe
In order to sustain their living, maximum of these Ulladan tribes have taken up the profession of hunting and gathering root vegetables. Many of them became cultivators and few of them work as laborers in the fields. Later, quite a handful of these Ulladan tribes have emigrated to towns and cities and thus adept to other professions. Till date, these Ulladan are considered to be backward and received no education.
These Ulladan tribes have developed their own tongue, which they use widely while conversing with each other. These tribes also have developed several habits like consumption of alcohols, smoking etc. Majority of these Ulladan tribes chew pan as well as the betel leaves.
Following the tradition of most of the tribes of the state, these Ulladan tribes ardently pray to the deities and also carry on the practice of witch crafting. For better controlling, they have bestowed upon the responsibility of an aged person. He is the person who takes significant decisions regarding matters like marriage and death.
Marriage System of Ulladan Tribe
What is interesting is that the child marriage is quite prevalent which attracts the attention of the eminent anthropologists. The moment the boy or girl attains the age of five or six years, parents start finding the bride or groom for their child. Both the family fixes the marriage and gives assurance verbally. After two years when the boy becomes seven years old, the marriage ceremony is held. From that day onwards, the Ulladan bride starts living in the house of the groom. Another type of marriage that is prevalent in the Ulladan society is called Thirandu kalyanam. It takes place only after the Ulladan girl attains puberty.
Special rites are followed not only at the time of marriage but on several other occasions. Just one month before the delivery, these pregnant women of Ulladan society live a life of seclusion. She lives in a separate tent. An aged woman gives company to the pregnant woman and also provides her food and clothes to the tent. Pregnant woman have to remain in the tent starting from the day of her delivery till up to the sixteenth days.
Rituals Followed at the time of Death
Rituals followed at the time of death too are followed quite arduously by all these Ulladan tribes. Dead body is moistened and draped in new clothes. There is also a ritual of applying oil over the dead by all the Ulladan relatives. Another custom is to spread linen cloth over the deceased person body. After this the body is taken for burial. Quite a few Ulladan tribes who thought that there is life even after one passes away.