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Shepherd’s Sacrifice: Southern Gond

A crude gate on the mud road, with wooden poles on both sides, and a beam across it standing high enough for any one to enter; with remains of bundles and ropes hung on it. Among them you may find a new bundle of shrinking animal skin. If you see these before a village, you can be sure that you are entering a Gondi village.

The Gonds call themselves Koytor.  They are tribals (native people) found in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. Gonds in each of these regions have a language and culture of their own. The Gonds who live in the south eastern districts of Maharashtra (namely Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Yavatmal) and the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh have many similarities culturally and linguistically.

Though the Gonds are listed as a tribe today, they regard themselves as a higher race. They were the native rulers once. The eight centuries old fort still stands in Chandrapur town and the remains of the fort in Manikgarh are the historic proofs of their kingdom. Some descendants of the kings are still active in the politics of the state.

The Gonds celebrate their legacy every year during Dasara. On that occasion, all living heirs of the crown in each generation are honored by carrying them on a pallak (royal cart carried on the shoulders).

The Gonds are agriculturists and choose to live on riverbeds close to forests. Most of them possess agricultural land. Those who have a good portion of land cultivate rice, javar (cereals) and green dal (pulses). Tending goats and cattle are also common. Some poor Gonds work in the fields of the rich Gonds. There is not much work available for them except in farming seasons. If there is any work, men get about Rs. 25 and women Rs.20 as a day's wage. They love hunting and wild meats are their favorites.

Read more on…..

Southern Gonds live in clusters……. 25 to 30 huts...
Animal offer sacrifices at the end of each...
Sickness in Mansoon...
Beliefs in evil spirits….Sacrifices to keep away these evil spirits...
Interesting story of the scapegoat…..The great feast after the sacrifice...
Why the Southern Gonds prefer to consult witch doctors even when a Public Health Centre is accessible.
Festivals and the traditional drum…. How the cows and bulls are honoured...
Village schools… the heart language Gondi...
Marriage practices…how the lovers should run away…. arranged marriages and the real bridal price….. Clan regulations and how many marriages one can have...

The one time rulers of a kingdom tend sheep here today to make a living. The shepherd knows his sheep and calls them by name. Do the sheep here know who their master is?

Read the complete story of Southern Gonds in  A Peep into the Tribalscape

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