Ilavan in India

Photo Source:  Nazly Ahmed  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Ilavan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 5,827,000
World Population: 5,896,000
Primary Language: Malayalam
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.02 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ilavan are also known as Izhava or Ezhavas. They live primarily in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They work as toddy-tappers. This means they extract sap from palms such as coconut and palmyra to make an alcoholic beverage. They grow coconut, palm and sugar.

Some of them converted to Christian while under British rule. Because of the makeup of their society, this segment became a separate subgroup known as the Chogan.

A caste association was established in the group in 1903. It was named after Narayana Guru. He established an ashram where he proclaimed his message of "one caste, one religion, one god".

Where Are they Located?

Most of the Ilavan live in the Indian state of Kerala. Today, some of them have decided to migrate to other major cities in India, such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and some others have decided to migrate to the Arab states of the Gulf. A few of the Ilavan have decided to live in the West.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Ilavan are either farmers or toddy tappers, however some of them had become builders, chauffeurs, handymen, lorry drivers and taxi drivers. Nowadays, some of the Ilavan have decided to become businessmen, teachers or lecturers.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most of the Ilavan are Hindus, although some are Christians. As low-caste Hindus, they believe that all religions lead to the same path, so an Ilavan who becomes a Christian would not lose his identity as an Ilavan.

Text Source:   Joshua Project