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This ethnographic profile provides insights into the cultural practices, livelihoods, and social organization of the Malai Pandaram community residing in the eastern hill areas of Kollam and Pathanamthitta Districts in Kerala. The Malai Pandarams are known for their nomadic forest-dwelling lifestyle, moving from one place to another in search of non-timber forest produce.

Geographic Distribution

The Malai Pandaram community is primarily found in Piravanthur and Ariankavu Grama Panchayats in Kollam District and Ranni Perunad, Seethathodu, and Aruvappulam Grama Panchayats in Pathanamthitta District.

Language and Social Organization

The Malai Pandarams speak a dialect that incorporates phrases from both Tamil and Malayalam. Their social organization follows a territorial system, with area-wise groupings known as 'Koottam.' The headman, known as 'Muttukani,' holds authority over the community and plays a crucial role in their rituals and customs.



Traditionally, the Malai Pandarams were known as the best collectors of non-timber forest produce in the erstwhile Travancore area. They used these forest resources for subsistence and engaged in trade by bartering their hill produces with country traders to obtain essential items. Even today, their livelihoods heavily depend on forest resources.

Challenges and Development

Despite developmental programs, the Malai Pandaram community has struggled to produce a steady first generation of literates. They continue to face challenges in improving their livelihoods and living conditions. To uplift their community, specific initiatives tailored to their unique needs and circumstances are necessary.

In conclusion, this ethnographic profile sheds light on the cultural richness and traditional lifestyle of the Malai Pandaram community in Kollam and Pathanamthitta Districts. As they continue to adapt to changing times and face developmental challenges, it is essential to recognize their distinct cultural heritage and provide targeted support for their socio-economic progress. By understanding and respecting their unique way of life, efforts can be made to empower the Malai Pandaram community towards a more prosperous future.

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