Cheramans are styled in the vernacular Cherumakkal. These tribes belong to the agricultural community of whom Pulayas are more in number. They have dark complexion and strong physique. The Pulayas in the olden times were extremely loyal to their masters and worked as slaves in their fields. The word Pulayan is said to be derived from 'Pula' which means pollution. Most of the members of the community do not like to be called Pulayas.
They prefer to be called Cheramar. There are a lot of Christian converters among them who were attracted to the Christian faith at a time when the Hindu aristocracy regarded them as untouchables and denied them their legitimate place in the Hindu religious fold. They along with many other downtrodden communities including the Ezhavas were not allowed on the main streets and to enter temples.
The Pulayas had to suffer a lot due to constant conversions and re-conversions thrust on them by the religious leaders of Hindu and Christian faith. They were so confused about their beliefs that they intermittently visited the Christian church and the Hindu temple and belonged to both the faiths or to neither.