Paniyan in India

Joshua Project has identified the Paniyan only in India






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The name Paniya comes from the root word pani, meaning work. The word refers to a worker or laborer and in general, a member of the tribe Paniya. They were literally slaves to the landlords in Northern Kerala.

The famous Valliyurkavu festival in Wayanadu district is reminiscent of the resultant slave trade. During this festival, slaves were sold, purchased or even exchanged by landlords and local chieftains, in front of the Bhagavathi temple. Annual pacts were renewed binding the Paniya slave to work for another year. Cloth, oil or a nominal amount were exchanged, to seal the deal. This practice slowly died, when slavery became illegal. The scars of this practice are still visible in how the Paniya conduct their lives.

Where Are they Located?

Paniya reside mainly in Northern Kerala (Wayanadu district), with relatively few in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. With the government resettling them in housing colonies, Paniyas now reside mainly in colonies of between eight and twenty-five houses. Very few among them have any form of education and their main means of income is subsistence farming and daily wage labor. They prefer not to associate with others living in the area.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Paniya do not have many religious practices. They tend to associate a spirit behind anything in their seen-world and include spirits of their dead for worship. Their main god is that of the forest, called kadubhagavathi, or kuli, which is neither male nor female. Its shrine is usually represented by one or more stones, placed under a tree. Their worship at this shrine is usually through offering boiled rice, half a coconut and a few coins. The Banyan tree is very significant in their unseen world as if they believe that spirits live on it.

A few Paniya have started following Jesus as a result of many years of ministry. These new Christians, though meeting together as a church, find it difficult to grow into maturity as the truths of the Scripture are not available to them in their language.

Prayer Points

* Complete freedom in their world view, from past scars of slavery and that they would become selfsufficient through education and economic development.
* The Paniya Christians to become strong in faith and reach their community through evangelism and church planting.
* The Word of God in their mother tongue to open their hearts to see Jesus and help them to grow in His love.

Profile Source:   Anonymous  

Expanded PDF Profile

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-10-02
People Name General Paniyan
People Name in Country Paniyan
Population in India 113,000
World Population 113,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Pannayar, Panniyar
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Malayali
People Name General Paniyan
Ethnic Code CNN23b
People ID 17834
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file:  6  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kerala (91,000) Tamil Nadu (20,000) Karnataka (1,100) Pondicherry (400)
Delhi (100) Andhra Pradesh (60)
Total States on file:  6  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kerala (91,000) Tamil Nadu (20,000)
Karnataka (1,100) Pondicherry (400)
Delhi (100) Andhra Pradesh (60)
Languages & Dialects on file:  8  (up to 20 largest shown)
Paniya (70,000) Tamil (20,000) Malayalam (18,000) Kannada (300)
Telugu (70) Kodava (40) Tulu (30) Hindi (20)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Paniya 70,000 Tamil 20,000
Malayalam 18,000 Kannada 300
Telugu 70 Kodava 40
Tulu 30 Hindi 20
For Primary Language: Paniya

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Hinduism

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.19 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
99.73 %
0.04 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.03 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Philipose Vaidyar   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Omid / Joshua Project / Global Mapping Intl  
Profile Source: Anonymous  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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