Kaniyan in India

Provided by Joshua Project
Send Joshua Project a photo
of this people group.
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Kaniyan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 100,000
World Population: 100,000
Primary Language: Malayalam
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.48 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Malayali
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kaniyan are a tribal people who live in South India. Their name means astrologer, their traditional occupation. The Kaniyan do horoscopes, cast out demons and perform magic rituals for their livelihood. Many Hindus and even some Muslims hire their services to set a propitious date for a wedding, plant crops or begin a business venture. Many of the Kaniyan are illiterate and thus unable to compete for jobs in modern Indian society.

The Kaniyan are a OBC group, meaning that they are entitled to public jobs and special consideration for university admission. The primary language of the Kaniyan is Malayalam. Some also speak Tamil and Kannada so they can communicate with people outside of their group.

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 for fortune telling, practicing black magic and 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 Kaniyan are not looked upon has diligent workers because of their reputation as beggars.

The main food of the Kaniyan is rice. They also eat vegetables, fruit and grains. As Hindus, they will not eat beef.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kaniyan practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. 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. The Kaniyan visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers and incense to their gods. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs.
The main yearly holidays of the Kaniyan people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.

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