Friday, February 23, 2018
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CITY GUIDE

People

People   ❯    Customs
People
▪ Koyas   ▪ Malmis   ▪ Melacheris   ▪ Religion   ▪ Language

Lavadance popular in MinicoyAs per 2011 Census, the population is 64,429with  literacy rate. People here are ethnically similar to that of the people of Kerala. A special feature of the social set up of the territory is the division of the population into various classes, viz. Koyas, Malmis and Malacheris in Laccadive group of Islands; Manikfans, Thakurs and Raveries in Minicoy and Tarwad, Tanakam-pranaver, Kudiatis and Melacheris in Amini.

Koyas

The Koyas were the chief land owning class of the society. Formerly they were known as Tarawadis or the Karnavar class. Originally, the class consisted of the Principal families of Tarwads known as Karnavans who sat as jurors in the community Panchayats. They regarded themselves superior to others and hated alliance with others. In earlier days, the Karnavans were the real masters of the land.

Malmis

The Malmis are the sailors. The word Malmi is connected with the signs of ways. In the past the Malmis were the tenants of the Koyas and they served as sailors under them and exported their produce in the odam. Piloting of vessels is not the only privilege of this class and anybody who acquired mastery over the nautical table is as competent as a successful Malmi.

Melacheris

The Melacheris were the original labour class of the islands and formed the major part of the population of Amini of the Laccadive Group of islands. The people of Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra are all Melacheris who have migrated from Amini and from the coast. Their traditional occupation is to collect coconut tree nuts and tap neerah, the sweet toddy. It appears that the name has its origin in their traditional place of residence on the western side of the island. Mala means West, Cheri denotes a village.

Among the class system of Minicoy, the Manikfans are considered to be of the highest class. They alone owned private property and were the leisured class. The Thakrufans were the sailors who mainly piloted sailing vessels. Takrus worked in the boats during voyages while the Raveris were the Labourers. Women of the four classes are known as Manikka, Beefan, Beebee  and Kambilo respectively. In between Thakrufan and Thakru , there is a sub-caste known as Bebe.

In Amini, the class groupism appears to have been based on property. The tarwad class comprised a few families which alone had tenants in the days of early settlement. The Tanakampranavar were those possessing property of their own but with no tenants under them. The Kudiyatis were the tenant class. The Melacheris were originally the landless Labourers.