Introduction / History
Ulladan are so called because they come from the interior forests. Ullu means inside parts and ulladan can mean interior people. Yet there is another story behind this name. Before the advent of British Empire, a group of soldiers belonging to Central Travancore in Kerala, went to forests with their families to protect their lives from the internal warfare between local kings. They settled themselves in the forests. After being in exile for several years some of them returned to their native places. Locals called them Ulkadans, means forest dwellers with the implication that they possess the nature of forest dwellers. That term Ulkadans shortened and became Ulladans after a period of time.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Those who eked out a living by hunting and eating root vegetables and fruits had to seek new avenues for living when they migrated to the towns. At that time, the feudal lords, who were high caste people, gave them safe haven by making them their tenants. Cultivating their lands and working the fields, the Ulladan were able to start new lives. Dependents of their feudal masters, they faced social discrimination and were deprived of education.
In the 1970s many Ulladans received lands adjacent to the forests, thanks to the land reforms implemented by the government. As a result, many migrated to the lands in the vicinity of the forests. In order to protect themselves from the attack of wild beasts they made huts on the trees and lived there. Natural calamities and epidemics took its toll and made their life all the more miserable.
Ulladans live in lands near the forests of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Hunting and fishing are part and parcel of their life. Although development is taking place under the control of the government, their standard of living is low and educationally backward. Liquor consumption and smoking are prevalent among them. Irrespective of age they chew betel and other pan. They have their own dialect and terminology.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Each locality has one elder. The elder will preside over important issues and matters concerning marriage and death.
Earlier child marriage prevailed among them. When the boy or girl becomes 5-6 years old, parents find a bride or bridegroom for their child. Both parties confirm the marriage by word. The families conduct the wedding when the boy is seven. After that, the bride lives in the bridegroom's house. A girl's coming of age is trumpeted as another marriage ceremony called Thirandu kalyanam.
The dead are washed and wrapped in new clothes as part of post death ceremony. There is a practice of applying oil over the dead by the relatives. Another custom is to spread linen cloth over the dead by the relatives. After this the body is buried.
Few of the Ulladans believe in a life after death. They offer prayer in temples and believe in witchcraft.
What Are Their Needs?
The Ulladan people need a John 10:10 blessing: The abundant life Jesus offers those who are willing to submit to his lordship.
Pray for the Ulladan culture to be renewed and enhanced by a work of the Holy Spirit and shaped into a God-centered and God-honoring mold.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among their family and community leaders to seek his face and enjoy his blessings.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers who will be compelled to nurture a disciple making movement among the Ulladan people.
Pray that soon the Ulladan people will have faith that will lead them to live honorable lives that will draw others to the savior.
Pray for workers to be raised up to minister among the Ulladans.
Scripture Prayers for the Ulladan in India.
Philipose Vaidyar, Copyrighted © Used with permission