: Students of the Department of Sociology, KNM Government Arts and Science College, Kanjiramkulam, got an opportunity to witness and experience what they were taught in classrooms. The students, who are offered a course in Tribal Society, recently visited a tribal settlement in Wayanad to get a better understanding of their subject.

“Chipran, a student of the Kananvu, which is an alternative school for tribal students, guided us to a settlement near the banks of the Karapuzha dam called the Cheepra colony, where we were able to learn about the tribal way of life. Here we met the people of the Paniya tribe,” said Jyothi.S. Nair, the teacher-in-charge.

The students were eager to understand the customs and traditions of the tribal people. “They were very friendly and invited us to their house, most of which were built with mud .These houses had very tiny doors and we had to sneak in through these doors. They said the houses were builtin such a way as to protect it during strong winds”, said Divin Raj, a student.

Though the group wanted to interact with the youth from the community, they were told that most of the young and middle aged men and women had gone to work in coffee plantations.

The interactions with these natives not only helped them understand the tribal traditions but also grasp the various issues faced by them.

What caught Divin’s attention was how many had switched from traditional farming to casual labour in the various plantations.

“Though, many were willing to carry on with the traditional way of farming, many were forced to take up jobs in plantations to earn a living. However, they were very specific about following some of the traditions. But one could see the unwillingness among the people to adapt to our culture,” he added.

The students were also fascinated by the tribal jewellery. “They were wearing ethnic earrings made of bamboo reed, ‘kunnikkuru’ and honey wax,” said a student.

According to Ms. Nair, the students observed that many tribal children discontinued their studies after Class 7 at the AUP School at Vazhavatta while very few went to tribal schools at Mananthavady.

The visit also helped them understand how activities in the name of development had affected the tribal life, she said.

Sociology students of KNM Government Arts and Science College visit a Paniya tribal settlement in Wayanad.