Tribes in and around Mudumalai
Mudumalai is a region in Tamilnadu that is well known for its rich diverse flora and fauna, and various tribes that still inhabit the region. These ethnic groups resided here since 1200 BC, and are different from each other in their way of living. The tribes in Nilgiri Hills can be roughly divided into six groups.
- First is the Kattunayaks, who form around fifty percent of the total tribal population and reside in around Mudumalai region. This community of tribes is mainly engaged in collecting and selling of forest produce to make a living. Apart from worshiping Hindu gods, these tribes consider various animals, birds and trees. In short, all forms of nature are respectable to them. They are non vegetarians and their source of entertainment is singing, music and dancing.
- Another prominent tribe of the region is Kurumbas. Their source of origin is actually mysterious. Said to be descendents of Pallavas, these tribes today live by engaging in agriculture and working in the plantations. Fond of golden and silver jewelry, Kurumbas are known for their elaborate song and dance ceremonies, and also are adept at playing various instruments.
- Todas is another tribe that gathers lots of attention because of their unique beliefs and customs. They are said to be worshippers of cows, and dairy products form a big part of their livelihood. They are religious and social by nature, and are known to be fine poets and singers.
- Kotas is another tribal community which has been of great interest to the anthropologists. They earn their livelihood by engaging in agriculture, doing pottery, as leather workers, blacksmiths, carpenters etc. They follow Hinduism as their religion and their socioeconomic status has improved , though very gradually, due to education.
- Other small but interesting tribal groups of Mudumalais are Irulas and Paniyas.
Various social and economic steps have been taken to include these tribal groups in the mainstream economic and social hierarchy.