Othai, at the foot of the Cholar hills on the banks of Chaliar River, can be reached by travelling through Arikode or Edavanna in Malappuram district, Kerala. Looking to the east from Othai, one can see Cholar hills. Mala means hill in Malayalam, and the inhabitants of these hills are called Malamuthans. They are seen in many hills in Nilambur forest region.
Although the government provided them with colonies for rehabilitation in Nilambur, Kalkulam, Chokkad and Cherupuzha, Malamuthans prefer to remain in the Cholar hills. Malamuthans living in the hills have a higher standard of living than their counterparts who settled in urban, tribal colonies.
While scaling the steep mountains and reaching the summit, one can see occasionally cashew plantations and some houses, roofed with tiles. Some houses are camouflaged by surrounding trees. People carried tiles and the materials for constructing these houses from the nearby towns on their heads.
While climbing up, we saw many people on a downhill journey. Some were on the way to their daily jobs in the nearby towns and children were going to school.
Bamboo, which is abundantly grown here, is cut and dispatched to the valley for sale. The felled trees are laid, stacked and fired to make coal. This coal is in great demand since it is the most commonly used fuel in hotels in the towns. The wholesalers of bamboo and coal used to come to the valley. Other important cultivations of Malamuthans are plantain, tapioca and paddy. Some fields of these Muthans are given on lease to the people in the town at throwaway prices.
Untouchability and racial taboos.…..
Read the complete story of Malamuthan at A Peep into the Tribalscape
Worship of the hill goddess…..