India | Kerala


Pulayas (harijans) are a backward community in Kerala. The Pulayas were mostly agricultural labourers in the olden times and were extremely loyal to their masters and worked as slaves in their fields. The word Pulayan is said to be derived from 'Pula' which means 'pollution'. They were a homogeneous group with common caste customs and practices. There were several internal divisions within the Pulaya group, with some of them claiming superiority over others. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Pulayas were not allowed to walk through the streets, and to own cows, brass or copper vessels and umbrellas. They were considered untouchable and non-approachable. They were also not permitted in temples, schools and the females of the tribe were not allowed to cover their breasts. But now, on account of reformatory measures adopted by the government over a period of time, the caste has to a great extent, become socially and economically forward.

Updated on 29th January, 2016


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