India | Kerala


Irulas, the second largest tribe in Kerala, are commonly found in Attappadi of Palakkad District. The tribe members are believed to be the descendants of Koyan Pattur, a sage who lived after the Yuga Pralayam (the great deluge). Some of them have settled in Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu.

They are traditionally honey collectors and hunters. For additional income, Irulas also engage in agriculture. They cultivate paddy, raggi, dhal, chilies and turmeric. Virtually Irulas are followers of Hinduism. They worship Shiva, Vishnu and Mother Goddess along with worshiping spirits of disease and trees.

Irulas live in Chalas (huts), which are built in rows of six and adjoined one another. The huts have mud walls and holes on the sides for ventilation. The north-western corner of the house, where ‘Kusangoney’ (ancestral pot) is kept, is considered sacred.

Irula Dance, related to Malleeswara (a local deity), is generally played during the harvest season. Played by both men and women, this dance is performed around the camp fire. Para, Thakilu and Kuzhal are the musical instruments used in accompaniment of the dance.

Updated on 19th August, 2005


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