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Mannan, the Nomads on the Mountain

Fort-like mountains can be seen from Adimali, a hill town in Idukki district on the eastern border of Kerala. Steep rocks are featured with occasional trees. It is hard to imagine that a community has survived, living beyond these monolithic mountains with a lifestyles that haven’t changed in the past hundred years. We continued trekking to the top of the rock hill, heading towards Chinnappara kudi. (‘kudi’ means village).

Chinnappara kudi is situated down the valley. The Mannan settlement nearest to the town can be viewed at a distance from the top of the rocks. Each Mannan cluster of about 50 houses is referred to as a kudi.  There are altogether 600 houses in Chinnappara, dotted about sporadically on the hill slopes between cultivated lands. A plain valley in the middle is visible from here. It was made into a field with paddy, plantain, tapioca and corn. Because of the rats, tapioca has become rare. Small houses built of bamboo were seen among cashew and areca nut trees. Most of the houses built with handmade bricks and with thatched roofs were untouched by the development or the town at the corridor.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the population in the four provinces of Idukki districts are tribal people. The sources add that there are totally 14 tribal communities. Among those who stay in the interior hills there are many who are totally insulated from the outside world. Malayarayan, Muthuvan, Mannan, Urali, Ulladan, Palian, Irular, Malappulayan, Malavedan, Malappandaram are the known tribes. Records show that they have existed for at least 600 years.

Read more…

Heritage and migration, The Mannan king in Kozhimala…..
Worship hill gods- the spirits of their forefathers…
Displacement through the forest department laws.…
Practice of shifting the forest clearings....
Village clusters and village headmen…..
Special way of observing strangers and accepting visitors....
Village dormitory of girls until  marriage, a strange practice….
The  vanishing sathrams- guest houses…
 Bridal hunt by grooms for marriage!...........
Their neighbours- the Muthuvan tribe….. 

Read the complete story of Mannan in A Peep into the Tribalscape
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