July 5, 2009

The tribal people of Kanjirakolli

The tribal people of Kanjirakolly are very backward in various levels of life. Their communities are concentrated in hilly and forest regions. They differ from one another in many respects- in traits, social organization, cultural pattern, language, economy, religion, customs and beliefs etc. Some of them, especially the Paniyas, are still living in a very primitive condition. They do food gathering from the forest and are nomadic and not at all ambitious in their nature. They are illiterate, timid, and prefer a secluded life being very shy of contacts with sophisticated non tribal people. They, especially Paniyas, avoid entering towns and cities, keep close to the jungle and the hills and manage to live on forest produce. Economically they are poorer, less sturdy and more primitive than their brethren elsewhere.

The uncomfortable reality is that all the Paniyas and over 90 percent of the other tribal people here are living below poverty line. In spite of the land reform and distribution elsewhere in Kerala, 30 percent of tribal families here are still landless. Among Paniyas, the number of landless families are much high. ‘Paniya’ means ‘a worker’. A long tradition of low self-esteem hangs around their necks. The Karimpalas have been inhabitants of this region from time immemorial while other groups migrated about half a century ago from other villages of Kannur and Vynad districts. Karimpala, Kurichya and Paniya communities form the major portion of the Adivasi or tribal groups of Kanjirakolly. They have their own culture, traditions and rituals different from that of Hindu main stream.
The Paniyas have their own culture, traditions and rituals different from that of Hindu main stream.



The traditional dance of Panias

Most part of the year- except when the monsoon showers are very heavy- Paniyas, the most downtrodden of the “dalith” or backward communities of Kanjirakolly, desert their shattered huts and lead a jungle life, eating whatever they get from the Karnataka forests nearby and taking night shelter on the rough plains of rock there by the riverside. The helpless tribal cannot afford to undergo treatment when they are ill. They do not and cannot even dream of educating their children.




The religious concepts of Paniyas are almost pantheistic. Here we see the temple of Choman Moopan, the local chieftain of the Paniya tribe here. It is a hut with a roofing of plastic sheets. Though the wall decorates the pictures of some Hindu deities, the most venerated thing here is a stone representing “Mother God”


Distributing rice and dress at Kuttimavu Paniya Colony as the part of “GREESHMOLSAVAM 2008” conducted at Kanjirakolly by VALLEY LIFE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE:-

Adv. K.T.Mary (Sr.Sudeepa), trust board member of Valley Life, with a Pania child Anitha at her hut. Anitha got back her eye sight after a surgery at Vasan Eye Hospital Ernakulam.


Statistics of tribal people at Kanjirakolly (2010)

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