History

In November 1973, a leading Newspaper from Kerala (South India) published a series of articles about a hitherto unknown hill tribe called ‘Cholanaikans’ living in the interior depths of Manjeri forests in Nilambur Panchayat of Kerala State. The article, aptly captioned “Manushare Kanatha Manushar” (Men who have not seen other men) described vividly the primitive life style of these tribals which was no different from that of the stone age people. It was no surprise that this news sent shock waves among the public who found it hard to believe that such a group of people existed even in this century.

The news also attracted the attention of a group of believers, who met a couple of times to pray and decide what they could do to these poor tribals living under their very nose!

Cholanaikans

In 1975, a team of believers led by Dr Pushparaj undertook a hazardous journey in this wild animal infested forests in search of these “Cholanaikans” and to verify the statements published in the newspaper. Risking their lives, these men of God walked through ways never traveled before by other men and located these tribals.

The Cholanaikans lived in caves, clefts of rocks and on tree tops. Scantily dressed, they communicated among themselves by sign language. Their only contact to the outside world were some businessmen who exploited their innocence and swindled precious forest products like honey, elephant tusks etc. from them and in exchange gave them rice, salt and arrack.

 

After spending two days with these people, the team returned and shared their experiences, prayerfully with other believers. Reminiscent of the narrative recorded in the books of Acts chapter 13, where Holy Spirit guided the Church at Abtioch to separate Paul & Barnabas to go as missionaries among the gentiles, the Spirit of the Lord put a burden in the heart of the believers to form a missionary society for the social and spiritual upliftment of the tribals especially with the prime motive of carrying the Gospel to them. Thus in 1977, a group of believers drawn from different denominational Churches formed “Tribal Mission”, registered it as a Charitable society under Travancore-Cochin Societies registration Act with its head office at Perumbavoor, Kerala State. The first missionary family was stationed at Pattakarimbu (Nilambur) to minister to the Cholanaikans and other Tribal Groups in Nilambur forest range.