Kerala State Population and Religions

Kerala state has a population of around 33 million, with 56 per cent following Hindu religion, 25 per cent Muslims and 19 per cent Christians. Followers of other religions are an invisible minority in Kerala. One percent of the population consists of adivasis - descendents of the original forest-dwellers of Kerala.

Population Factors in Kerala

Kerala has achieved control over its population growth and has the lowest growth rate among all Indian states. Gender ratio (females to males) is positive, indicating the absence of such practices as female infanticide.

With the highest literacy percentage, lowest infant mortality and a strong showing on other human development indicators, Kerala is best compared with the developed world rather than with other states in India.

However, economic progress has not been commensurate with social progress and Kerala suffers from high unemployment. People tend to migrate to Arab countries and other Indian states in search of livelihood. This situation might soon change with Kerala gaining a reputation as one of the best states for business.

Religions in Kerala

In separate articles (see links in adjacent column) we discuss the evolution of different religions in Kerala. The overall picture that we see is as follows:

  • Arrival of paleolithic people (along with nature and ancestor worship) around 1000 BC into the mountainous forests of eastern Kerala.
  • Development of practices such as setting up and worshipping "hero stones" (stone memorials erected to honor warriors dying in battle) in an age when rulers were battling each other and needed warriors willing to die fighting.
  • Jews arrive in King Solomon's trading ships and settle down in Kerala as traders.
  • Arrival of Jainism and Buddhism during 300 - 200 BC through emissaries of North Indian emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka. These emissaries actively propagated their religions in Kerala.
  • St Thomas the Apostle journeys from Alexandria in a trading ship and lands at Kodungalloor in 52 AD and introduces Christianity into Kerala.
  • Arab travelers bring Islam into Kerala soon after Prophet Mohamed preached Islam in Arab lands.
  • Local rulers bring in Aryan Brahmins from the North and settle them in Kerala. The Brahmins strengthen Hinduism, incorporating tribal, Jain and Buddhist deities and practices into the religion.