Kattunayakan is a primitive tribal group of the southern states of India. They are settled mainly in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. This community is believed to be the modern representatives of the ancient Pallavas.
The word 'Kattunayakan' means 'the king of the jungle'. Kattunayakan is one of the earliest known inhabitants of the Western Ghats, who are engaged in the collection and gathering of forest produces.
The members of this community are short, black in colour with protruding foreheads. The men wear short dhotis and half sleeved shirts. The women attach a long single piece of cloth round their body just below the neck, leaving the shoulders and arms bare. Child marriages were common, but these days the girls marry after attaining puberty. Monogamy is the general rule among the Kattunayakan community.
Kattunayakan believe in Hinduism and have a language, which is a mixture of all Dravidian languages. The main deity of the tribe is Lord Shiva under the name of 'Bhairava'. They also worship animals, birds, trees, rock hillocks and snakes, along with worshipping other Hindu deities.
Kattunayakan are non-vegetarians and fond of music, song and dance. They are also called Cholanaickan, Pathinaickans and Ten Kurumans.