Urali in India

Joshua Project has identified the Urali only in India






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

Make a wound on the thigh and keep ash in it and chant a particular mantra and they could keep elephants away! Uralis talk about themselves how they managed to live in the dense forests. Although Uralis reside in the woods they are not strangers to the towns and its developments. Moving from one mountain to another Uralis settled in interior forest. Uralis are mostly found on the Idukki hills of Kerala, known as God's own land in south India. Dwellers of Memari (a place on the hills) reached these higher hills due to the Idukki reservoir for the hydro–electric project.

Uralis do not fear elephants. In Memary there are other wild animals too. In order to stop the wild beasts from entering residential areas, electrified fences powered by solar energy are provided. Some houses have lamps lit by solar energy.

A few hundred years ago Uralis had gone into the interior hills to escape the heavy taxation of the Kochi kings and fearing Tippu Sultan's onslaught. Some from Tamil Nadu too migrated to these hills and joined the Urali mainstream. More than the history, their present plight of life is more important. With the advent of new administrative reforms the tribal head - Kani- does not have much say. Uralis do incorporate changes. Uralis, who inherit property through maternal line, elect Kani in the same way.

The community, which was eating roots and fruits once, has started cultivating all sorts of food crops now. Root vegetables, tapioca, plantain and paddy form their staple food. Cash crops like coffee, cardamom and arecanut are also found there. There are enough remains to prove that they had tried even planting rubber.

Though they are inclined to eat wild beasts, they are disinterested to hunting. Their old style of chewing pan with wild ingredients has given way to betel, arecanut and lime. Traditionally they did not consume alcohol. But recently they began distilling country liquor and selling it.

Uralis absorbed changing life trends fast. One can discern changes in their food habits, dress and houses. Earlier they used to live in tree huts. Now amidst houses made of bamboo, one can see houses made up of bricks, hollow bricks and tiles.

For the education of the children there is a single room hut at the entrance of the village. In this school run by the government and manned by a single teacher, they ought to study till 4th standard. For high school education they have to cross the forests and reach Kannambady and few take this adventurous path from Memary.

Before marriage of the children, land is divided and new huts are made for the couple to live. After the marriage of the children parents live alone.

The word for dowry is not found in the oral dictionary of Uralis. Parents or the sister of the bridegroom have to initiate the marriage proposal. For all events they follow Malayalam calendar. Bride's side will enquire how many will be attending the marriage. Any number can attend the marriage but feast provided only of for the number agreed up on earlier.

Sisters of the bridegroom come with the bridal garments to the make shift-wedding spot known as pandal. Holding the hands of the uncles, the wedding couple comes before the burning candlestick. With silent acknowledgement, uncles lock the hands of the couples. As a testimony to the marriage covenant the couples surround the candlestick seven times. This will be followed by wedding feast at the residence of the bride. Those who were already chosen go to the wedding tent and have food.

As a next step, it is the journey to the hut of bridegroom. Whosoever goes there, can partake in the feasting. The menu comprises of rice, cabbage and other vegetables. Local arrack distilled from sugarcane will also be served. Guests contribute a sum towards the feasting. The newly married couples start their home in the newly built hut.

When one dies, Uralis say that he became 'Sathyavan' meaning that he became personification of truth or became righteous. Magician priest Plathi will preside over the death ceremony. Amidst silence Plathi's sound that emanates from the nose can be heard. Newly made winnow, earthenware pot and candlestick, tender coconut and some flowers gathered from forests are used for this ceremony.

Uralis believe that the dead souls will travel from the grave. To confine the dead souls there, 'some works are allotted to them'. The instruments they use to do their work before death are used for this purpose. The knife that is made deliberately less sharp, slit bamboo sieve and a pot is kept on the top of the grave. Since these materials are of no use they cannot finish the work and as a result they won't wander from the grave, believe the Uralis.

Is there a life after dearth? If so how can Uralis get the hope of the life after death that is eternal? Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers to minister among the Urali and teach them about eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Profile Source:   Philipose Vaidyar  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Urali
People Name in Country Urali
Population in India 73,000
World Population 73,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Kolayan, Kolayan Urali Gounder, Thantan, Urali Gounder, Uraly, Urli
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster Malayali
People Name General Urali
Ethnic Code CNN23b
People ID 18284
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:  5  (up to 20 largest shown)
Karnataka (45,000) Tamil Nadu (15,000) Kerala (13,000) Delhi (100)
Maharashtra (50)
Total States on file:  5  (up to 20 largest shown)
Karnataka (45,000) Tamil Nadu (15,000)
Kerala (13,000) Delhi (100)
Maharashtra (50)
Languages & Dialects on file:  13  (up to 20 largest shown)
Malayalam (38,000) Tamil (11,000) Tulu (8,300) Kannada (5,700)
Konkani, Goan (3,600) Konkani (3,500) Urali (700) Telugu (200)
Hindi (30) Gujarati (10) Marathi Oriya
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Malayalam 38,000 Tamil 11,000
Tulu 8,300 Kannada 5,700
Konkani, Goan 3,600 Konkani 3,500
Urali 700 Telugu 200
Hindi 30 Gujarati 10
Marathi 10 Oriya 10
Urdu 0
For Primary Language: Malayalam

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1811-1968)
New Testament Yes   (1829-1995)
Complete Bible Yes   (1841-2004)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible Gateway Scripture Text / Printed Matter
Bible Visuals General
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
Bibles, Bible League Text / Printed Matter
Fathers Love Letter Audio Recordings
Following Jesus (India, JF Project) Film / Video
God's Story Video Film / Video
Gods Simple Plan General
Got Questions Ministry General
International Bible Society Text / Printed Matter
Jesus Film: view in Malayalam Film / Video
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online Bible (Bibles India) Text / Printed Matter
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online Scripture (Talking Bibles) Audio Recordings
Oral Bible Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project) Film / Video
Primary Religion: Hinduism

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
1.76 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
98.19 %
0.01 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.01 %
0.04 %

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: Philipose Vaidyar  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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