|Kurichiyas are one of the most developed tribes in Wayanad district. It is said that the name `Kurichiya’ is derived from the kuri or the sandalwood paste that they apply on their foreheads and chests as a custom.
They are small land owners and largely depend on agriculture for a living. They have clean food habits and keep their houses, premises and dress always clean. They follow a matrilineal system and live in joint families. In their small plots, they mainly grow pepper and other crops. They select a chieftain called Pittan and the function is followed by a ritual performed before their idols. A frenzied dance also accompanies the ritual and the chieftain wears an auspicious silver handled knife at his waist on the occasion. Under the control of this chieftain, Kurichiyas live in harmony. Polyandry and breaking dietary laws are some of the offences for them and the offenders are excommunicated.
They follow age-old customs and one of them is, on returning from a journey, they will bathe before entering the home.
The martial skills and traditions of Kurichiyas are well known and history speaks a lot about their valour in fighting the British, along with Pazhassi Raja in the early 19th century. Their skill in archery is famous and they are experts in hunt for game meat. Nellukuthu pattu is their art form.