Introduction / History
A few hundred years ago Urali people had gone into the interior hills to escape the heavy taxation of the Kochi kings and fearing Tippu Sultan's onslaught. Some from Tamil Nadu too migrated to these hills and joined the Urali mainstream. More than the history, their present plight of life is more important. With the advent of new administrative reforms the tribal head—Kani—does not have much say. Urali people do incorporate changes. Uralis, who inherit property through maternal line, elect Kani in the same way.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Urali people absorbed changing life trends fast. One can discern changes in their food habits, dress and houses. Earlier they used to live in tree huts. Now amidst houses made of bamboo, one can see houses made up of bricks, hollow bricks and tiles. The community, which was eating roots and fruits once, has started cultivating all sorts of food crops now. Root vegetables, tapioca, plantain and paddy form their staple food. Cash crops like coffee, cardamom and arecanut are also found there. There are enough remains to prove that they had tried even planting rubber.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Though they are inclined to eat wild beasts, they are not interested in hunting. Their old style of chewing pan with wild ingredients has given way to betel, arecanut and lime. Traditionally they did not consume alcohol. But recently they began distilling country liquor and selling it.
The Uralis talk about how they managed to live in the dense forests. Although Uralis reside in the woods they are not strangers to the towns and its developments. Moving from one mountain to another Uralis settled in interior forest. Uralis do not fear elephants. In order to stop the wild beasts from entering residential areas, they have electrified fences powered by solar energy. Some houses have lamps lit by solar energy.
For the education of the children there is a single room hut at the entrance of the village. In this school run by the government and manned by one teacher, they study till 4th standard. For high school education they have to cross the forests.
Before marriage of the children, land is divided, and they build new huts for the couple. After the marriage of the children parents live alone.
The word for dowry is not found in the oral dictionary of Uralis. Parents or the sister of the bridegroom have to initiate the marriage proposal. Sisters of the bridegroom come with the bridal garments to the makeshift-wedding spot known as pandal. Holding the hands of the uncles, the wedding couple comes before the burning candlestick. With silent acknowledgement, uncles lock the hands of the couples. As a testimony to the marriage covenant the couples surround the candlestick seven times. This will be followed by a wedding feast at the residence of the bride.
As a next step, it is the journey to the hut of bridegroom. Whosoever goes there can partake in the feasting. The menu comprises of rice, cabbage and other vegetables. Local arrack distilled from sugarcane will also be on the menu. Guests contribute a sum towards the feasting. The newly married couples start their home in the newly built hut.
When one dies, Uralis say that he became Sathyavan meaning that he became personification of truth or became righteous. Magician priest Plathi will preside over the death ceremony. Amidst silence Plathi's sound that emanates from the nose can be heard. Newly made winnow, earthenware pot and candlestick, tender coconut and some flowers gathered from forests are used for this ceremony.
What Are Their Needs?
Uralis believe that the dead souls will travel from the grave. They try to confine the dead souls at the grave.
The Uralis people need a John 10:10 blessing: The abundant life Jesus offers those who are willing to submit to his lordship.
Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers to minister among the Urali and teach them about eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Pray for this tribe to have spiritual hunger and discernment so they can embrace truth.
Pray for the Urali 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.
Scripture Prayers for the Urali in India.
Philipose Vaidyar, Copyrighted © Used with permission