Marayoor's Tribals and their life.
According to tribal legends Muthuvas were loyal subjects of the dynasty of Madurai. When the dynasty was deposed, the surviving royal members migrate to Travancore, central Kerala, and established the famed Poonjar dynasty. On their way to Kerala, the Muthuvas carried the idols of Madurai Meenakshi, the deity of the royal family, in their backs. The word Muthuvas seems to be stem out from the word "muthuku" which means back in Tamil and Malayalam languages. The tribe which carried the idols in their muthuku later settled in the forests near Tamil Nadu, and came to be known as Muthuvans.
Muthuvans are a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe community of Marayoor area. They are not aborigines and constitute one of the largest groups of tribes. Still a primitive group they are mostly agriculturists. They prefer a secluded life fostering their own traditions and customs.
Muthuvans tend to be highly superstitious, believing in animism and totemism. They prefer their own medicinal system. The tribal medicines are mostly plants and herbs. Muthuva tribe is very independent and reluctant to contact with outside world. They do not trust the civilized world and hesitant to partake education. They are an exclusive tribe which refuses to connect with other tribes and outside world. Their women folk are strictly prohibited to have contact with outside clan or other people, especially other men.
Their economical, social and educational improvement is negligibly nil and it has been a phenomenon for centuries. Their reluctance and refusal to social development has been little bit changed and they are being motivated continuously for a better life. They begin consuming tobacco at an early age. In the jungle habitat, they took up shifting cultivation as the primary mode of subsistence and continued it for generations. For the Muthuvans, undergoing the cycle of shifting cultivation was and still is a way of life. Their most colourful social institution of dormitory system(bachelor halls), festivities, collective eating and sharing of food known as Koodi thinnuthu,beliefs and practices characterizes the Muduvan society.
The language that they speak had no connection with Malayalam but was a corruption of Tamil having a peculiar intonation. They were held in great respect by all other classes of hill-men, which was indicative of a noble ancestry however remote. Due to declaration of the forest tracts as Protected Areas, and due to the ban imposed on hunting and shifting cultivation, these forest dwelling tribal communities who were living in these areas as hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators for several generations, were therefore forced to abandon their traditional subsistence modes of shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering. The Muthuvans, living in one particular region, negotiated with the Forest Department to take up lemongrass cultivation as a primary source of income. They cultivate Ragi and cardamom in their own farms. They have 3 to 10 acres of forest lands for cultivation.Their ignorance in the modern farming methods and their inability to invest money for agriculture are being exploited.
With regard to the patronage, the Muduvan enjoyed from the erstwhile kings of the region, the Poonjar Chieftains, whose family claimed descent from the Pandyan kingdom, had treated the Muduvan as vassals, even though they resided in the hilly forests of the territory. With regard to the etymology of the name Muduvan, mentioned that when they came to the High Ranges of Travancore from Madurai via Bodinayakanur, they carried their children on their backs, up the ghats, and hence came to be known as Muduvan, which literally means, 'those who carried something on their back' (locally, the term Mutugu means back). Another version is that, when they left Madura, they carried with them the image of the goddess Meenakshi on their backs and brought the image to Neriyamangalam. According to a legend prevalent among the Muduvans living in the settlements where the present study has been made, they carried only Kannagi (a divine lady known for chastity of woman who forms the principal character in the Tamil epic Silappadikaram) on their back, when she proceeded towards the hills after destroying Madurai i.e. after putting it to the flames. The elderly among the Muduvan often pronounce Kannagi as Karnakai. They strongly believe that Karnakai and goddess Meenakshi represent one and the same deity. After they all reached these jungles, before she disappeared, Kannagi blessed them to live in peace and harmony with each other and lead a cohesive life. This legend strongly prevails among all the Muduvans even today, irrespective of their living areas. A significant feature of the Muduvan society is the practice of collective eating and sharing of food known as Koodi thinnuthu.
It was believed that the first abode of Malapulaya community. After many years,as the increase of population, by setting up to new(ooru) habitation. The places like, Kumittamkuzhi, Pattikkad, Cheruvadu, Karimutty, Alampetty, Nachivayal, Poothavayal and Champakadu, Denducombu, Cherukkulam and Pongampilli in Kanthaloor Panchayat. They continued to lead their life. In this period Malavedar come there. Healthy andInnocent Malapulayars mojority were suppressed by Malavedar community. They had pistols Swords and Shields. They considered them to cleared the forests. They used to give food only and considered them as their sevvants. Every Kudi has a head, the next position is Kolkaran. Traditionalty the head had been selected from the same families. All desisions wered taken by the head in a general assembly. Kotkaran goes to every house to inform about the meeting. Meetings were conducted at the heart of colony usually. The seat of the head is wider round ston that put on the stage. It was the right of Kolkaran who controlled the people, he dedicates himself to the God then follows the justifications.
The God of colony people is Arunakshiamman, which is in Marayoor. (to worship once a year. It is their privilage)( There are two classes of Malapulaya, Karavali pulay and Kurumba pulayar. Karavalipulaya uses the meats of domestic cottages astheir food but the Kurumba takes only vegetables. The same rituals follows by the two classes. But they frowned upon the intermarriage.
The tribal settlement has been changed in to colonies. Thick forests were changed into blank hills Pambar and Muttakunnu stream are very thirsty to get water from the oozing of shrubs. Young generation in under the modern mirages. The life of Tribals in the past is the lost dreams.