Introduction / History
The Kuravans or Kuruvars is the name given to the indigenous peoples who live in the hills and forests of South India and Sri Lanka. Until modern times they were hunter-gathers who also practiced "shifting agriculture." In this type of farming an area of ground is cleared of vegetation and cultivated for a few years and then abandoned for a new area until its fertility has been naturally restored. The name Kuravan may come from the Tamil words meaning fortune telling woman, and their women are still noted for telling fortunes.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Kuruvan women tell fortunes and use herbs to cure ailments. The Kuruvan are known for their ability to reveal the future by reading palms and for their knowledge of herbal medicine. They make household items out of bamboos and palm leaves and sell them to obtain cash. They raise pigs, goats, and chickens for their consumption and to sell. The Kuruvan like to tattoo their bodies and drink toddy, a palm sap wine. They Kuruvan marry within their own community. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young couple. Village priests and elders officiate at important family functions such as births, weddings and funerals. They bury their dead. Today they speak Tamil or Malayalam, and their own language is dying. Many Kuruvan are unable to read and write so the gospel must be shared with them in oral and visual forms. Though they are officially Hindu, they have a very low position because of their tribal background.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Kuruvan people claim to be Hindus but a better description of them would be those who practice folk religion. The Kuruvan believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. Theses spirits must be appeased by offerings and prayers or they may bring disaster upon the Kuruvan people. They especially worship and serve the spirits of their ancestors.
What Are Their Needs?
As a poor, indigenous people, the Kuruvan have many needs. They need to learn how to read and write. Their children need good schools. Solar panels can bring electricity to their villages. Most of all they must hear the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can free them of their fear of ancestral spirits and can forgive their sins.
Pray that God will send believers to make friends and share the gospel with the Kuruvan. Pray that the small church among the Kuruvan would grow and be established in the faith. Pray for a disciple making movement among Kuruvan that will help them to grow spiritually, socially and economically.
Scripture Prayers for the Kuravan (Hindu traditions) in Sri Lanka.