The Tribal Life of Wayanad
Wayanad is one of the most beautiful places in South India. When you are here, you not only get to enjoy the mesmerizing scenic nature but also get to know the tribal culture.
Wayanad has the largest tribal settlement in India with varied lifestyle and cultural practices.
If you are interested in martial arts and archery, you have to visit the villages of Kurichyas. They have great martial art skills passed on through generations. These tribal men are considered the strongest among the tribes and they constituted the army of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, who engaged the British forces in several battles. The descendants of those warriors are still expert archers. The Kurichya tribe is the most developed among the Adivasis and they are small landowners. They are highly respected and well-known for their food. People love to see their art performance which is called “Nellukuthu pattu”.
Paniyan means ‘worker’ as they were supposed to have been the workers of non-tribes. They have an interesting hierarchy. In olden days, Paniya settlement had a headman called ‘kuttan’ appointed by the landlord. Next in the rank of Kuttan was the ‘Mudali’ who is the head of the family. Any major decisions of the family were taken by Mudali. Both ‘Kuttan’ and ‘Mudali’ are called ‘Mooppanmar’. Paniyas follow monogamy practice. Widow remarriage is allowed. The Paniyas have only a crude idea of religion. Their major deity called ‘Kali’ is believed to be malignant and powerful. They also worship the Banyan tree. They hesitate to cut such trees and it is believed that if anyone attempts to cut them, they fall sick.
Just like Paniya, this tribe also belongs to the slave sects of Wayanad. Men are the head of the family and they go out to work in the higher tribal homes and fields. The Adiya tribal community is divided into 20 classes called ‘Mandu’. The head of the Mandu is called ‘Chommikkaran’or ‘Peruman’. They also follow monogamy and a fixed price is given by the groom to the bride’s family. Practices like divorce, affairs are considered impure for the tribe and if any of the members fall into these ill-practices they are forgiven by a purificatory ceremony called ‘Kalachu Veypu’.
Another peculiarity of tribal life is their holistic herbal medicine. Having lived in harmony with nature for centuries, the tribes in these regions have identified various herbs which can heal a variety of diseases like back pain, asthma, anxiety etc. The best part about these tribal treatments is they have no side effects. This indigenous stream of herbal medicine gets increased attention nowadays and more and more people, not only belonging to a tribal community but those from the outside civilized world, approach the tribal medical experts to take the medicine. Their approach to curing the disease not only includes taking the medicine but also following some diets along with it. They may also suggest some changes in the lifestyle also depending on the type of diseases. Their treatments are taken in practice for visitors in various resorts in Wayanad.