A typical working day for the Irulas begins at 10 a.m. They head to their fields or to the woods to gather honey, tamarind and wild berries. They are back at about 5 p.m. to cook raagi puttu and greens for dinner.

The Irula society is matriarchal. Even during a casual stride across the hills, it's the wife who leads her husband. Once in a year, the village gathers to pay homage to the dead. Called kanji seeru , the ritual happens during the night. People feast on a salt-less horse-gram dish and dance into the night.

Irulas are extremely polite, with a keen sense of observation and a good memory. They are superstitious. A snake crossing one's path or the call of the saguna kuruvi , for instance, are considered bad omens.