Nayadi in India

Nayadi
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Isudas  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Nayadi
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 101,000
World Population: 101,000
Primary Language: Gujarati
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
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 name of this people group comes from the word nayattu, meaning hunting.
They are one of the lowest of the untouchables of the Hindu castes living in southern India's Malabar Coast. They are probably one of the original inhabitants of Kerala. The Nayadi speak Malayalam. This people group is found only in India, mainly in the state of Kerala with a few also residing in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In recent years their age old cultural heritage and knowledge systems have been rapidly disappearing. The Nayadi spend their days searching for water and firewood, making ropes, and gathering herbs for sale. Once skilled hunters and trappers, modern Nayadi are scavengers and beggars. Many are reduced to panhandling on city streets.
They have their own peculiar cultural traditions, religious customs, cults, totems, legends, myths, folklores and medicinal practices. These tribals have an in-depth knowledge of the surrounding flora and utilize over 500 plant species for treating various ailments.
As members of the Dalit communities, they may accept assistance from higher classes, but cannot return the favor. They are not accepted by caste Hindus. Until fairly recently the Nayadi were not even allowed to walk the same streets as Brahmins.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Nayadi believe in a pantheon of Hindu gods. They also worship regional deities such as Mallan, Malavarhy and Parakutty. Being hill dwellers, they worship "maladeivangal" (Gods of the mountains) to appease the mountain spirits for their life and protection.
The Nayadi keep memorial monuments to deceased ancestors beneath a mango tree in a special garden. During this ceremonial ritual, they offer solemn prayers for the souls of the departed in hopes of being protected from the ravages of wild beasts and snakes.

What Are Their Needs?

The present generation of Nayadi is struggling to obtain higher education because of their low caste position. The authorities responsible for them turn a blind eye to their plight and sometimes refuse to issue "community certificates," which is necessary for them to pursue education. Children who are educated through various social organizations are often forced to abandon their dream of entering colleges which serve as portals to modern civilization. Their low caste status also blocks access to good employment opportunities which could raise their standard of living.

Prayer Points

Pray the Nayadi community gets fair access to clean water, healthcare and education.
Pray that the Lord breaks down the barriers of the caste system so the Nayadi may have justice and equality.
Pray for Holy Spirit empowered laborers to be sent to preach and demonstrate Gods love to them.
Ask God to pour out his Spirit, softening hearts and opening eyes that have been blinded by the god of this world.
Pray for mission agencies and churches in Kerala to have a burden to reach the Nayadi people.
Pray for Nayadi disciples to make more disciples.

Text Source:   Joshua Project