In Nilgiri District , the Kattunayakans are found in Gudalur and Pandalur Taluks. The Government of India identified them as one of the Primitive Tribal groups of India. The Kattunayakans are also Known as “ Kadu’ or Shola Nayakans. Their name correctly can notes that they are the Nayakans (Chiefs) of the kadu or Kattu ( forest). The Kattunayakans speak Kannada language mixed with many Telugu words. The Kattunayakans village is called ‘ Padi’ . The represents five to ten huts in a hamlet. They are short black in color with protruding foreheads. Men wear short dhothi and half sleeved shirts and women tie a long single piece of cloth round their body just below the neek, leaving the shoulders and arms bare. They are non- vegetarians.
Character and habits of Kattunayakans
The Kattunayakans do not have a Tribal Council, but every Kattunayakan settlement has a Headman called ‘ Karanavar’ or ‘ Modale’. The post is hereditary and succession is by the brother or the eldest son. The ‘ Karanavar is obayed and respected. His presence is necessary at all scoial functions. Kattunayakans still like in olden days, worship natural things like Rock, Hills, Animals like snakes and Elephants, they even claim origin from them.
The Tribal Kattunayakan men and women are did not like to take bath. The men are always using tobacco and smoking (Beedi) and women are always using the bettle leaf. They went to forest and hunting animals and put meat into the fire and they can eat. Also they collected some kinds of roots from the forest and put into the fire and eat.
Worship of the Kattunayakans
They have implicit faith in charms, sorcery, black magic and uttering prayers or mantras. They also worship Lord Siva in the name of ‘ Bairava’ They are gradually moving more towards Hindu cults by establishing shrines and worship places nearly their settlements.
Economic Condition of the Kattunayakans
The Kattunayakans, who were considered as the chiefs of the forest with knowledge on plants and wild animals also marginally tasted the mixed economic activities in their habitat Though 38. 45 percent of the Kattunayakans still remain as gathers of minor forest produce, honey and other edible fruits, 19.85 percent of them are working in the Forest Department. Out of their total income, Kattunayakans spend 32.40 percent on food and cloths and 30.75 percent to celebrate their cultural life cycle activities besides 29.55 percent on recreation activities.
The Kattunayakan’s Residence conditions