Kaniyan in India

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Kaniyan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 122,000
World Population: 122,000
Primary Language: Malayalam
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.46 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kaniyan are a scheduled tribal people who live in South India. Their traditional occupation is kaniyan koothu performance at temples. In this ritual art form, they sing and dance to invoke the spirit of graveyard God Sudalai Madan. which is performed today in its southernmost end kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and nellai districts Their calling is belived to be derived from the tamil term for seeing or calculation.The primary language of the Kaniyan is Tamil.

Where Are they Located?

The large majority of the Kaniyan live in the Indian state of Kerala. Smaller groups live in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

What Are Their Lives Like?

South Indians know the Kaniyan tribals for a festive art form called Kaniyan Koothu. This art includes music, dancing, special costumes and chanting. Only Kaniyan men can perform this rite. Two Kaniyan men dress up as women and dance in a frenzied fashion to fast, loud music. Koothu art honors Sudalai Madan, the graveyard god and offspring of Shiva and Parvathi who was banished to earth after it was discovered that he preferred eating human flesh to the nectar of the gods. The Kaniyan tend to marry within their group. What little property they possess it passed on from fathers to sons. The main food of the Kaniyan is rice. They also eat vegetables, fruit and grains.

What Are Their Beliefs?

They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon especially the destroyer god Shiva and his son, Sudalai Madan. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kaniyan desperately need the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, to shine into their hearts. They need help in educating their children and in learning new job skills. The gospel will have to be presented to them in oral form since so many of them cannot read.

Prayer Points

Pray that Indian Christians are moved to share the love and mercy of Christ with the Kaniyan in practical ways.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through those ministering to the Kaniyan people.
Pray that God will overthrow spiritual forces of darkness opposing the spread of His Gospel among the Kaniyan.

Text Source:   David Kugel