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According to the Tamil Nadu forest department website, 6 tribal communities, Toda, Kota, Kurumbas, Irulur, Paniyan and Kattunayakan, have been identified as Primitive Tribal communities. Interestingly all the six tribes are natives to the Nilgiris. Here we present some information on those tribal communities.



The members of this community are short, have black skin, and have protruding foreheads. Hunting and collecting forest produce are the two main means of living for the tribe. They rarely mix with other tribes and still follow black magic and sorcery. They speak a language which is a mixture of Dravidian languages. Kattunayakans are known for their expertise in honey collection.



The Paniya have historically worked as agricultural labourers. The Paniyas have only a crude idea of religion. Their major deity, is called 'Kali’ and they also worship banyan tree. The Paniya speak the Paniya language, which belongs to the Dravidian family. In these tribes, there is no opposition to a man taking more than one wife if he can afford them.



Irulas are engaged in collection of minor forest products. Some of them are also engaged in looking after the herds of cattle belonging to others. They speak Irula, which belongs to the Dravidian family. Irulas are specialists in traditional herbal medicine and healing practices. Traditionally, the main occupation of the Irulas has been snake and rat catching.



The traditional occupation of the Kurumbas is food gathering, like collection of honey and forests produce.  Kurumbas are known to possess keen eyesight, gained possibly from constant watching of the honey bee to the hives. They still use bow and arrow for occasional hunting. Kurumbas are known for their painting and black magic.



Kotas claim to be blacksmiths by profession and making agriculture equipment and weapons for war. Kotas have their own unique language that belongs to the Dravidian language family. Kotas worship fire, moon and nature and perform poojas in front of the peepal tree. Kotas are known for their pottery and carpentry.



The Todas are an exotic race and are generally not dark; they are fair-skinned, ruddy with constant exposure to sunny to rainy weather. The eyes for most are light coloured varying from brown to grey. The Toda language belongs to the Dravidian family. They are traditionally pastoralists. Todas are known for their embroidery.