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The Muthuvan community, primarily concentrated in Idukki District and contiguous hill areas of Ernakulam and Thrissur, has a fascinating history and unique social organization. It is essential to distinguish them from the Mudugar community in Attappady area, as they are distinct ethnic groups.

Historical Origins and Social Organization:

The Muthuvan community traces its origins to the former parts of the Pandya Kingdom in Tamil Nadu. The name 'Muthuvan' is believed to signify "one who carries weight on the back," reflecting their historical activities. They speak a dialect closely related to Tamil. The social organization of the Muthuvan community is characterized by the presence of 'Chavadis' or dormitories in each settlement, where boys and girls reside separately. The community is led by a headman known as the 'Moopan,' who holds significant control and oversees the council of elders. In some regions, a 'Kani' is appointed to liaise with officials.


Traditionally, Muthuvans are known for their organic cultivation of crops such as ragi and paddy. They practice shifting cultivation, moving to new cultivation sites every two years. Additionally, they rely on the cultivation of wild varieties of cardamom and pepper, which form the foundation of their economic stability.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Despite their rich cultural heritage, the Muthuvan community faces certain challenges. The traditional value system, which includes notions of purity and pollution, has affected the education of their women, hindering formal education attainment. Additionally, women are encountering new health problems. Addressing these issues requires holistic development projects aimed at improving their living conditions and promoting gender equality.

Moving forward, there is immense potential for promoting organic cultivation in their areas, which could offer sustainable livelihood opportunities. Encouraging agriculture-based schemes can lead to the community's sustainable development, harnessing their expertise in cultivation and forest labor.

The Muthuvan Community Beyond Idukki District:

It is important to note that there is another Muthuvan community residing in the eastern side of the Chaliyar river in Malappuram and Kozhikode Districts. Their dialect has evolved to Malayalam, and their traditional livelihoods revolve around agriculture labor, forest labor, and cultivation.


The Muthuvan community of Idukki District and beyond holds a rich cultural heritage and has been historically engaged in organic cultivation and other livelihood activities. By addressing their educational and health challenges and investing in sustainable development initiatives, the Muthuvans can continue to preserve their unique traditions and contribute to the socio-economic growth of their regions.

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