Kattunayakan in India

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Kattunayakan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 80,000
World Population: 80,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.49 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kattunayakan are a tribal people who live in south India. Their name means "chiefs of the forest. They are believed to be among of the earliest inhabitants of south India. Their main livelihood is collecting and selling of honey. They also fish, hunt and collect forest products to eat and sell. The Kattunayakan are a scheduled caste meaning they are eligible for special consideration for public jobs and college admission.

The Kattunayakan are one of the few tribal peoples of India who still live as hunter-gatherers. The literacy rate is very low for both men and women. They practice traditional medicine and live without modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing.

Where Are they Located?

The Kattunayakan live mainly in south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They live in deep forests and try to stay away from modern Indian society.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kattunayakan live much like their ancestors have for hundreds of years. The Kattunayakan like to live in separate family dwellings of about ten people. A council of elders makes decisions for the family groups. Honey plays a special role in their lives. They eat it, use it for medicine and trade it for things they need. The Kattunayakan can climb 20-30 meter trees in search of honey. One hive can yield over 25 pounds of honey. They get so many bee stings that their bodies develop immunity. Their main competition is bears, which they sometimes have to fight off to get the honey.

The Kattunayakan are known for their dancing and singing. They pass on their history and customs through song and dance. The Kattunayakan are monogamous with girls marrying when they reach puberty. The main languages that the Kattunayakan speak are Tamil and Telugu.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kattunayakan practice folk religion with some elements of Hinduism. Their main god is a form of Shiva, the destroyer. They are animists who believe that spirits inhabit rocks, trees, rivers, snakes and other animals. The Kattunayakan believe in magic which many of their women practice. They perform rituals to protect themselves from evil spirits. They honor and venerate their ancestors. A small number of Kattunayakan have become Christians.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kattunayakan need a stable source of income. When honey and forest products are available, they survive. When these items are not available, the Kattunayakan can starve. Most all of, the Kattunayakan need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord leads some workers to live with the Kattunayakan to help them with learning how to read the Bible.
Pray the tiny number of believers may be trained to share the gospel with their brothers and sisters.
Pray that a strong movement to Jesus will bring whole Kattunayakan families and communities into a rich experience of God's blessing.

Text Source:   David Kugel