Malayali in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Subgroups: 2

Subgroup Name Population
Kolli 17,000
Paccha 900

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

Two distinct groups of people from one geographically small area both claim the name Malayali. One group is from the southern Indian state of Kerala, and that is also the name of the local language. The second group, and the one that this profile focuses on, is found primarily in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with smaller populations in the states of Karnataka, Pondicherry, Delhi, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. These two groups, while fairly close to one another in terms of geographic distance, are separated by the southern end of the Western Ghats mountain range. While the Malayalis are a tribal people, they have only inhabited the southern tip of India for about 10 generations. The ancestors of the Malayali slowly immigrated from the Middle East and through South Asia, combining with other peoples along the way, to eventually end up in their current location. It is Malayali tradition that three brothers each settled on separate nearby hills to form the three oldest Malayali villages. According to legend, in the late first century, the Apostle Thomas evangelized and performed miracles throughout southern India, specifically in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In later years nearly all of the peoples of southern India were introduced to seafaring traders from other locations such as China, South East Asia, Eastern Africa, and Europe. Some of these Europeans, such as the Dutch, enslaved groups like the Malayali as a major source of slaves for their plantations.


What Are Their Lives Like?

The Malayali are still primarily a tribal people. Most of them live in a rural setting with an economic emphasis on farming, herding, and gathering non-timber products from the forests around them. Some of their most common crops include rice, millet, and a variety of spices. Many Malayali people live in mud huts or small houses with thatched roofs. Most Malayalis speak Tamil, the primary language of Tamil Nadu and the oldest of the four Dravidian languages that descended from Sanskrit. In 1961, only 2% of the Malayali population could read and write, and that number remains low today. Traditional ways of doing things are very important to the Malayalis. For the process of engagement and marriage, for example, they have elaborate rituals involving almost all of the family, multiple ceremonial visitations, traditional scripts to be recited, and a bridal price to be paid. A social hierarchy rules parts of Malayali life. There is a Govendan, who is the leader of the highest tier, the Mooppan, who is the intermediary between the Govendan and the common people, and then the common people on the lowest tier. Also, elders are generally highly respected. Family is important to the Malayalis, and they are not afraid of going out of their ways or being inconvenienced for the sake of family. The average Malayali of Tamil Nadu does not make much money, but they are content with what they have. More recently, scientists have been working with the Malayali to study the non-timber forest products that they use for traditional medicine. They are adaptable and are able to meet the challenges that a modern world brings.


What Are Their Beliefs?

Almost all Malayali practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Their brand of Hinduism is influenced by animism. The Malayali worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain "moksha" or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Malayali visit Hindu shrines and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Malayali people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama’s birthday. The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Dalits and tribal peoples are outside of the caste system. As a tribal people, Malayali are outside the Hindu caste system. The Malayali believe several traditional bad omens, such as crossing the path of a widow during a marriage ceremony, passing by black cats, and hearing the bark of a barking deer. While traditionally women and men have different roles in society, apart from their rituals and ceremonies Malayalis are beginning to value equality between men and women more.


What Are Their Needs?

Tuberculosis and leprosy are still found today among South India's rural inhabitants. The Malayali need access to modern medicine to combat these two diseases. Many rural Malayali are unable to read and write. Their children need good schools and teachers.


Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Malayali in India.

Pray that the Lord would send workers to the Malayalis and that they would be effective in explaining the gospel. Pray for a church planting movement that the Lord can use to sweep through the Malayali population. Ask the Lord to provide for parents so they can meet the needs of their children.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Malayali
People Name in Country Malayali
Population this Country 371,000
Population all Countries 1,578,000
Total Countries 13
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 2  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 7
Alternate Names Cochin Jew; Malai Gounden; Malai Jati; Malaikaran; Male Gounder; Moplah; मलयाली
People ID 17433
ROP3 Code 112836
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 6
Largest States
Tamil Nadu
360,000
Karnataka
5,800
Puducherry
5,200
Delhi
400
Odisha
200
Andhra Pradesh
50
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 6
  Tamil Nadu 360,000
  Karnataka 5,800
  Puducherry 5,200
  Delhi 400
  Odisha 200
  Andhra Pradesh 50
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Tamil (358,000 speakers)
Language Code tam   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 9
Secondary Languages
Malayalam
12,000
Kannada
2,000
Hindi
400
Telugu
200
Marathi
30
Urdu
English Gujarati
Primary Language Tamil (358,000 speakers)
Language Code tam   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 9
Secondary Languages
  Malayalam 12,000
  Kannada 2,000
  Hindi 400
  Telugu 200
  Marathi 30
  Urdu 10
  English 10
  Gujarati 0
People Groups Speaking Tamil

Primary Language:  Tamil

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1714-1956)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1715-1998)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1727-2016)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Father's Love Letter
Audio Recordings General Ministry Resources
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Oral Bible
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Finding Peace
Film / Video Following Jesus (India, JF Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Tamil
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Bible Visuals
General Comprehensive list of Tamil Resources
General God's Simple Plan
General Gospel website in this language
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
0.01 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.11 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
99.73 %
Islam
0.11 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.01 %
Unknown
0.04 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2021  Southeast Asia Link - SEALINK  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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