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Other Tribes in India
Akas Gutob Gadaba Mudhili Gadaba Ollar Gadaba Muria Gondi Southern Gondi Halbi Irula Juang Kodaku Mishmis Rajabonsi Gond Korku

Tribals in Kerala are living on the hill ranges, mainly on the Western Ghat, bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. As a natural border, the mountain has branches in Kerala as well as in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The tribals on the Kerala hills are only listed here.

1. Akas

Alternate names: Aka, Hrusso, Angka, Angkae, Tenae
Population: 4,600 (1991 census)
Literacy: 16%
Language: Hrusso and Kora.
Religion: Animistic (Donipolo – Sun and Moon)
Geography: Arunachal Pradesh, India

The People

Aka, in Assamese means ‘painted’. The women folk of the people group paint their face in colour to hide their beauty and thereby protecting themselves from outsiders. The name 'Aka' is given to them by the people of the plains and they call themselves 'Hrusso'. According to the 1991 census, they have a population of 4,600 with two major dialects spoken, namely Hrusso Aka and Kora Aka.

Where do they Live

The Akas are inhabitants of the south-eastern part of Kameng district of Aunachal Pradesh. Their main concentration is noticed in the Thrizine area.

How do they Live

Akas are a closely knit community, with eleven clans and sub clans. Polygamy is widely practiced in their society.

They have shift cultivation and rear domestic animal Mithun. The main food of Akas is maize and millet. Handicrafts, basket weaving and woodcarving are the principal arts among the Aka tribe. Aka men wear a silky Assamese toga, while the women wear a long dark red garment that covers the entire body. Silver ornaments play an important role in the female costume. Vase shaped earrings and for the richer ones, a fillet of silver chain is worn around the head.

Akas are proud of their long history. They claim that King Bhaluka, the grandson of King Bana who was defeated by Lord Krishna at Tezpur, was their ancestor. Both the Aka groups follow the same religious beliefs and practices. Akas profess and practice dono poloyism. Donyi Polo means the sun god and the moon god. They believe that the universe is controlled by the Omnipotent supreme controller of all living and non-living things of the universe, the donyi polo.

However centuries of Buddhist and Hindu influences have greatly shaped the religious rites of their religion. Superstition and magic has an important role in their belief system. Shizon proved to be the most popular form of magic ritual among the Aka.

The rituals of the Shizhon involve slaughtering a dog, draining the blood from its head, and either sprinkling a few drops of the blood into the enemy undetected, throwing them into his house, or burning them in his hearth.

2. Gutob Gadaba

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Population: 56,911
Language: Gutob Gadaba.
Religion: Animistic (Donipolo – Sun and Moon)
Location:

The People

According to one tradition, they were the cup bearers of Bikram Deva the king but very little is known about their background. The total population, according to the 1981 census of India of all Gadaba in Orissa is 56,911.

Where do they Live

The Gutob Gadabas are found in Orissa in three districts (Nowrangpur, Malkangiri and Koraput) and the highest number is in Koraput district, especially in Lamtaput block. One recent survey estimates about 10,000 Gutob Gadaba people in the state and about 5,000 in the Lamtaput. The movement of bulldozers for the erection of two major hydroelectric power projects has chased away a good number of the peace-loving rural Gadaba community to other interiors parts. This dispersed minority elsewhere also gradually shifted their speech to the local Desiya language. But forty villages in Lamtaput still speak Gutob-Gadaba, their heart language.

How do they Live
Village

People live in clusters and a typical village will have houses between 30 and 80 and about 200 to 500 people. The social administration of the village will be handled by the three-tier leadership- The Naik, Chalan and the Barik. Naik is the village elder and the post comes by succession. Chalan who is selected from the elders assist the Naik. Barrik comes from a lower caste family who live in the village.

Occupation

Agriculture, tending cattle are common occupation for the Gutob. Farming is done on wetland as well as dry land. Rice, regi, millet, vegetable and cash-crops like ‘grape seed’ (a kind of oil seed like jingly) and mango are grown in these fields. Cattles are used for plowing and for meat. Buffaloes, sheep, goats and pigs are reared. Other seasonal works are making broom from wild grass and collecting fiber from a shrub known as ‘muruga’ plants. The poor who do not own much land engage in manual work.

Read more about the culture: Food Habits, Marriage, What do they Believe- Religion, and Festivals: https://tribalscape.blogspot.com/2021/03/trekking-tribal-trail.html

3. Mudhili Gadaba

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Population: 11,000
Relgion: Animism
Literacy: 4 %
Location: Vizianagaram District, AP

Where do they Live

The Mudhili Gadaba people live the Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikulam districts of Andhra Pradesh. There were 11,000 people in the region according to the 1981 census.

They claim to be the earlier inhabitants of the Godhavari deltas; hence their name carried the word Gadhaba.

How do they Live

Mudhili Gadabas are non- vegetarian. Unlike many other tribals, they eat beef and pork. Rice and ragi are their staple food. Occasionally, both men and women drink alcohol, purchased from the market or distilled at home.

Mudhili Gadaba society has several clans, each with a unique surname. They have closely knit community ties with their own people beyond their villages. They are endogamous. All of them are related to each other in some way or other. Gadaba people live together in hamlets within the village. They live in a single room hut with walls made of mud and stones and thatched roof or tiles, provided by the government.

Gadabas own land and are very hard working people. They do farming and also earn by collecting forest products. Tending flocks and cattle are other source of their income. They have a very good sense of saving money among them though many do not manage finance wisely. Most of them have Saving Banks accounts and Life Insurance policies. They are not able to manage the money properly. In contrast to this they also have Barter system still existing in the society.

Read more about the culture: Marriage, What do they Believe- Religion, and Festivals: https://tribalscape.blogspot.com/2021/03/trekking-tribal-trail.html

4. Ollar Gadaba

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Population: 15,000
Religion: Animism
Literacy: 6.53
Location: Koraput District in Orissa

The People

'Ollar Gadabas' are one of the primitive tribes of India and the most distinctive of all tribes in Orissa. They are also known as Sano Gadaba. There are 15,000 Ollar Gadaba people living in Orissa.

Where do they Live

Ollar Gadaba community lives in Koraput and Malkangiri, the Southern districts of Orissa. This mountainous region linked to the Eastern Ghats, is very typical in its structure. The hills are chained and flat-topped. Ollar Gadabas have made their settlements on these hill tops. Most of the villages are spread out on the plateau, on the slopes of the hills and the narrow strip of valleys lying between the hills.

How do they Live
Occupation

Ollar Gadabas live in remote areas and do not have much interaction with the main stream societies. They are mainly farmers and observe traditional forms of agriculture. Their main income is from agriculture and breeding of livestock. Hunting and fishing are also other occupations which fetch income for some. They own land and practice shift-cultivation. The landless among them work as laborers in the fields of others. Rice and ragi are their staple food. They are non-vegetarians and prefer to eat chicken and mutton though some of them eat beef and pork as well. Both men and women drink alcohol occasionally, either bought from the country liquor market or brew it at home. Though they tend cattle, they do not drink milk, but they have a special charm for liquor called pendum.

Social Administration

In each village, there is 'Nayak' as the chief who settles the matters. Under 'Nayak' there is 'Chalan' and under him there is 'Barik'. But the Gadabas are intensely democratic. Influence in the community and social status depends on the ability and economic status. Women are able to make decisions in house hold matters and take part in all the social, ritual and religious matters of the community.

Read more about their culture: How do they Dress, What do they Believe, and festivals: https://tribalscape.blogspot.com/2021/03/trekking-tribal-trail.html

5. Muria Gondi

The People

Gonds are the second largest tribe in India, next to Bhils. Based on the different dialects they speak, they can be classified as nine groups. ‘Muria Gondi’ is the dialect spoken by Muria Gonds. Muria Gonds are also called ‘Gottul Murias’. They call themselves Koytor, which means landowners; they are settlers unlike some nomadic Gonds who shift their places.

Muria Gonds are native tribals who live in the northern side of Bastar district in Madhya Pradesh. They live in the forest regions and depend on the forests for their livelihood.

History of the People

Little is known about the ancient origin of the Gondi speaking community. Some assume that they are an ancient Dravidian tribe who migrated to the northern part of India during the prehistoric period. Others postulate that Gondi is the adopted language of many of the original tribal population of Central India. These larger groups were known by the generic term “Gonds”. Before the Mogul era, splendid Gondi Empire existed under the control of several Gond Rajas (kings). In the fifteenth century, they fell into the Mogul invaders but the direct authority of the Mogul conquerors was exercised over the Gonds lasted only for a short time before the ruling authority returned to the Gond Rajas. Under the loose political structures the Gond dynasties flourished until the seventeenth century when they were conquered by the Marathas. In the later years the Gondi speaking people came under the dominion of the British. Today they are incorporated into the respective Indian states in which they live.

Where do they Live

Northern Bastar district, the home of the Muria Gonds, occupies most of the large mountain plateau from Keskal in the north to Konda goan in the south. Most of the areas are relatively flat; occasional low hill ridges break the monotony of the terrain. As one approach the Narainpur area this flatness gives way to more ridges on the Abhujamad hills. Gonds make their dwellings on the ridges and use the lower areas as fields where paddy is the major cultivation.

Forest covers about 80 percentage of Bastar district, which means there are fewer laid roads with good transportation. Narainpur, the culture nerve centre of Muria Gonds, has limited bus services. Buses also ply twice a day on some of the mud roads during the rainy season. There are weekly markets on the plain where they go to buy their provisions and necessities.

How do they Live

According to 1991 census, the population of Muria Gonds was 400,000 in the Bastar district. They also live in Orissa and Maharashtra. There are a few towns in the Muria area with an average population of 10,000 people, dominated mostly by outsiders consisting business people and government officials. Very few Murias live in towns. They confine themselves to their settlements in the jungle villages. The villages are scattered in the clearings of the forest. A Muria village will have about twenty five houses which will include two or three paras (area or side) with a population of 100 to 150 people.

In every Muria village there will be one or two families who belong to Halbi or other Gond sects, who are not tribals. Apart from them no outsiders live in the village. A few Murias who have found works in the towns usually do not identify with the villagers and even they deny that they can speak Muria.

Murias are proud of their social identity though other caste groups consider them as low caste and ill-treat them. There are several clans within the Murias and some clans are occupational like the blacksmiths. There are no different levels of prestige within the group.

Social Organisation

The most notable social institution that distinguishes the Muria Gonds of the Narainpur Tahsil from the other people of the area is the Gottul, a village dormitory. The unmarried youth and older children of the village gather each night to sing, listen to stories, play games, dance, and discuss matters that concerns them. Men and women have separate gottuls. Although entertainment appears to be the order in the gottul, the institution does not exist merely for fun. Its major functions appear to be religious and educational. Without exception, every religious festival of the community will be dominated the with singing and dancing by the members of the Gottul. The preparation of the young for adulthood, including sex education is interwoven with the routine life at the Gottul.

Until marriage the girls are required to stay in the village and are not supposed to spend the night outside the village. If a girl fails to come regularly to Gottul, the members or even the villagers would not attend her wedding. A fine up to Rs.200 has to be paid to the Gottul in order to settle it. Parents arrange the marriages of their children between the ages of 1 to 12 or even more. Premarital pregnancies are rare in the Gottul. If that occur, both the girl and the boy are married off to the persons who had been chosen for them by their parents many years ago in accordance with the practice. Divorce and elopement are common. Elopement is relatively rare as the boy or his parents must pay a fine to the village elders and to the family of the bridegroom to whom the bride had originally been promised. Marriage outside the caste is not common but not considered as a serious matter.

Village Administration

Patel, a traditional leader, is the head of the village. There is another contact person or representative for the government called sarpanch. Patel calls the meeting of elders to decide matters regarding the village, settlements of disputes and other government matters. For five or six villages in the area, there is a ‘patwari’ (village officer) appointed by the government, who deals with the land revenue and related matters. Similarly the police department has a ‘Kothwar’ who reports about the births and deaths in the villages. He will be a local person and does not have any power in the village. Apart from these there is another ‘Nakedar’ (forester) who is supposed to guard the forest. Most of these officials except the Kothwar, exploit the tribals. Due to the exploitation by the government officials and business class the Naxalite activities are quite common. There were instances for tribals obliging to their directions like not voting in the state election.

6. Southern Gondi

Population 2,50,000
Religion: Animism
Literacy: 15%
Location: Gadchiroli, Chandraput And Yavatmal District of Maharashtra
Adilabad District of A P

History of the People

The Southern Gonds are one of the five people groups of the larger Gond tribe who live in central India in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Many years ago they were a ruling class in this region. Though economically poor and backward, the Gonds still enjoy a higher social status as compared to the other communities in the villages.

Where do they Live

The Southern Gonds are one of the five people groups of the larger Gond tribe who live in central India in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. There are approximately 2,50,000 Southern Gonds who call themselves, “Koitor”. They are mostly found in Gadchiroli, Chandraput and Yavatmal district of Maharashtra and Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. Gondi villages are usually near forests and hilly regions.

How do they Live

They sustain their living by farming. To supplement the produce, they would occasionally do hunting in the nearby forests.
Though they are included to Hinduism by the government, they are mainly Animists. Witchcraft and sorcery is very common among them.

7. Halbi

The People

Halbi is language spoken by about 200,000 people both as a mother tongue and as a second or trade language. The Halbi speaking communities are primarily found in the Bastar District, of Chhattisgarh states and the bordering areas of the adjacent states in Northern India.

Where do they Live

Halbi community lives in clusters of villages around which agricultural fields are located. One village is divided into sections known as "para". Each para will be occupied by a caste or clan of the same tribe. The Halbi community has several sub-divisions; some are treated 'high' while others 'low'. Most of the people live in mud houses, roof thatched with dry grass or clay tiles baked in the village.

How do they Live/ Social Organization

They have many festivals celebrated throughout the year and each of them is associated with a community activity. It is customary for them to do things together as a community. Seasons of farming, fishing, gathering of forest products, game and so on start with a festivals.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages is a widespread practice, which ruins the society. A newborn is given a few drops of alcohol to begin with. The wife manages the family, in most cases including the financial affairs of the household. Extended family system is in existence, but is diminishing gradually.

Marriage as an institution is highly honoured. A boy has to marry his maternal uncle's daughter. If he renounces, he has to pay a fine decided by the 'Panch' (village court).

What do they Believe

The Halbis are mainly Animists, who worship the spirits of ancestors. However, they have a very strong concept of a Supreme Being who is the creator God. They have a worshipping place called Gudi, in the corner of the village. No idols are there except for a stone slab, on which they perform sacrifices and make other offerings. The priest enjoys unlimited power as he can invoke divine judgment on people. They believe that the spirits causes sickness, famine and all evil things. To appease the spirits sacrifices are offered by families and the community.

Bali is a festival before the beginning of cultivation; sacrifices are made to the 'rain god'. Evil possession and dancing are part of the worship. "Sira' is the head of all witch doctors. There are women spirit mediums that are almost powerful as a 'Sira'. The Siras predict the mishaps and calamities. They also prescribe remedies and the one who seeks help has to perform it.

In the recent past, Hinduism has been making inroads into this tribal community. Government offices and other work places have conscious efforts for cultural and religious infiltration. Festivals celebrated and practices observed in schools encourage them to be adherents.

Concept of sin is relative. Man is a created being. After death the spirits of the people wander around and live in the jungles on Pipal trees. They take rebirths to the same clan in the course of time for a better life. Good people will go to heaven and the bad to hell. Evil is considered as an unavoidable element of life.

Economy:

The main source of income is agriculture and produces from the forest. But the real benefits are reaped the business communities who do not pay fair prices to the harvest. The exploitation is unbridled even for basic necessities of life. Their illiteracy and ignorance are often taken as advantage by the traders, agents and employees from the government departments. There are many government welfare schemes, known as 'Tribal Development' which exists and carried out in books and documents!

Village administration

The village Panch administers disciplinary actions and decides on disputes of various sorts. 'Sarpanch' – (the village head) is an elected member from the village. All other members/office bearers hold their post in succession. "Kotuval' is the village police, who has a link with the government police department. Kotuval refers cases/disputes, which are not settled in the village council, to the court. Any decisions arrived upon in the village is also binding to the legal courts! "Patel' is the one who keeps the land records of the village and he assists the govt. surveyor (Patwari) to collect taxes from people.

8. Irula (Tamilnadu)

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Alternate Name: Irular
Location: Tamil Nadu

The People

Irula is a native tribe who used to be on the hills. Irul means darkness and in several respects their life was in darkness.

Where do they Live

The Irula people are found in the remote and distant stretches in Tiruvalluvar and Tambaram areas. They preferred to stay in the shade of bushes and on the hills, in ambush for rats and snakes. Deforestation and the state’s ‘welfare measures’ relocated and brought them downhill. Now they live in small groups in distant settlements in the backyards of the town. The village heads have marked their boundaries and are considered untouchables and live in poor and non-hygienic conditions, including no drinking water facilities. They fetch water from ponds where they also wash themselves and their clothes.

How is their Life Like:

They live in small groups of 3 families minimum and up to 22 families (Irula tribe is considered as “low caste”) The village head allots a place for them to live near a pond in the village which is away from the villagers. In some villages they are accepted a little and in some they are still considered untouchables.

Occupation

The once snake and rat catchers are caught up with poverty and live as un-kept illiterates in ignorance. Some of them are engaged in jobs like cutting firewood, climbing trees or in the farms of the villagers seasonally, which are sparse. Children below 5 years do not wear any cloths and about 90% of them are victims of malnutrition. Moral and social norms are not strict and marriages not formal among them. Births and deaths of children are a common feature among them as there is little external help sought for child birth. They seldom go to a hospital or sending children to school has not become part of their thinking. The huts they live do not have a doorpost and even if there is one, it does not carry a number! They mostly are ‘non-existent’ people who do not register their birth, death or marriages. Development may be still far away from them.

Irulas as a tribe are unskilled in doing any kind of job. They earn their living by doing odd agricultural or woodcutting works. They work as laborers in the fields of the landlords during the sowing and harvesting seasons or by working in the rice mills.

They are also engaged in household or domestic works of the landlords. Fishing is also an occupation in some of the Irulas' villages. Some of them also gather firewood from forest to sell.

Years of neglect by people who are strong are also responsible for their economic hardships. Often the landlords treat them as bonded laborers in many of these villages.

The rice mill laborers live in dreadful conditions. They stay and work in the rice mills, as they have no other place to go. In addition the fear of the outer world, forces them to continue their livelihood within the four stockades of the mills.

They are ignorant about their own benefits as a Schedule Tribe and often are objects of cheating. Most of them lost ownerships of the land they had.

Read more about the Irula of Tamil Nadu at: https://tribalscape.blogspot.com/2021/03/trekking-tribal-trail.html

Watch an interesting video of the Iruala- A Day with the Irula People: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83vWwqqV4FA

9. Juang

Population: 30,876
Religion: Animism
Location: Orissa

History of the People

Juang is a tribe who are found only in the state of Orissa. According to the 1981 census returns there are 30,876 Juang people. The Juang people were food gatherers and hunters and lived in the forest areas until the early part of the 20th century. They made leaves their dress and forest their dwelling. But the reservation of forest by the government in the1900’s deprived them of their original livelihood and led them to a settled life and made them learn the occupation of agriculture.

How do they Live

Today apart from agriculture, a large portion of the population makes a living by making baskets, selling firewood and working as laborers. Most of the Juang live below the poverty line.

Juang are predominantly animists. In addition to other deities, they also worship the sun god and the earth goddess. Women do not have any role in the religious activities of the community. Witchcraft and sorcery are practiced. The sick are taken to a sorcerer for treatment; the community tends to use modern medicine only when the traditional means of healing are proved to be a failure. In the recent past, as a result of increased propaganda by religious fanatics, some among the community started taking part in Hindu festivals.

Language and Literacy

The literacy rate among the Juang is very low. Schools being in the state language, Oriya, have failed to attract students at the beginner's level. There are no schools or teaching of literacy in their mother tongue. Secondly the focus of education is not on the girl children. Out of every 100 girls only about two get an opportunity to go to a school. Apart from lack of motivation to go to school, the education of a girl child is not valued.

10. Kodaku

Alternate names: Koraku, Korku
Population: 1 lakh
Literacy: 11%
Language: Kodaku
Religion: Animistic
Location: Chattisgrah, Jharkand, U.P

The People

Kodaku are known so by their mother tongue. The alternative name for Kodaku is Korku. They also speak Sadri and Chhattisgarhi as their trade languages.

Where do they Live

Kodaku people are one of the primitive tribes in the central part of India, who live in hills and forest of Chhotanagpur; the bordering area of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh states. Kodakus live in hamlets in the jungles surrounded by mountains.

How is their Life Like

Elephants and other wild animals are common in these reserved forests, destroying the houses and crops of these poor villagers. Kodakus live in constant fear of being attacked and most of the hamlets have groups to fight against any immediate threats. Most of them worship spirits and offer sacrifices in their name for the protection of their village.

‘Saila’ is a famous singing and dancing event where they recite some song for pleasing their spirit god ‘Ramdev’. This is usually once in ten years and sometimes more frequent. It begins when the village shaman (priest) identifies a specified time for the event which is followed by strict planning by the villagers. Kodakus spend days to practice this spirit dance, by which many of them get possessed by demons, which is the culmination of the spirit worship.

11. Mishmis

Population: 16,000
Literacy: 16%
Language : Digaru, Miju.
Religion: Animism (Donipolo – sun and moon)
Location: Arunachal Pradesh

The People

Mishmis a tribe with the weakest in economy conditions live in Arunachal Pradesh.

How is their Life Like:

The main economic resources of the Mishmis are land and forests. They are primarily farmers. One of the traditional occupations of the Mishmis is weaving, which also involves them in trading in order to sell what they make. Mishmis also produce shawls, blouses, jackets, bamboo baskets, skirts, coats, bags and bead-necklace. Mishmis are non-vegetarians. Men and children consume pork, beef and all other kinds of meat available. However, the women eat only small birds and fish. Their houses are made of Bamboos and the roof is thatched with a long grass. The peculiarity of these houses is that they are made on pillars and the basement of the house is used for keeping pigs and hens.

Mishmis belong to hereditary shamanism. The most important characteristics are the complex system of belief in the spiritual qualities of nature and the concept of one Supreme Being. Donyi-polo the sun and the moon are regarded as the symbol of eternal truth.

Animals like mithun and pigs are sacrificed for a number of rituals and pujas during festivals. They have pre and post delivery rituals. They believe in some malevolent and benevolent spirits. Mishmis are the followers of the animistic Donyi-polo faith, known as Phong kelum, with some Buddhist influence, notably in their rites.

12. Rajabonsi

Population: 25,00,000
Literacy: 25%
Location: West Bengal and Assam

History of the People

The Rajabongshi People live in the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. There are different beliefs as to their origin. According to one view, they belong to the great Bodo family that entered India in the 10th century B. C., from the East and settled on the banks of the river Brahmaputra and gradually spread over Assam and the whole of North and East of Bengal. They have several mythologies connected to their Kings and palaces.

Where do they Live

Rajabongshis number about 25,00,000 and are distributed in the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. They are mostly found in the districts of Cooch Behar, Jailpaiguri, Darjeeling, North and South Dinajpur of West Bengal. In Assam they are found in the Goalpara region. Cooch Behar is considered to be the home land of Rajabongshis. The biggest concentration of the people are in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar.

How do they Live

Rajabongshi people are mostly farmers and have rich varieties of cultivation. They prefer to live in their agricultural lands, unlike those prefer to stay in clusters. A Rajabongshi landlord is called Jotedar, who will never build his home outside his own land. When a Rajabongshi buys a plot of land for building a house, he consults a Panjiar (a Rajabongshi Pundit) to see if the land would be suitable for the purpose. The Panjiar draws some figures on the earth to determine whether it is ideal for living and thereby good for purchase.

Agriculture is the main occupation and the chief source of income. There are also business men, government employees and daily labourers among them. Cultivation includes rice, potato, onion, garlic, carrot, cabbage, beetroot, beans of different kinds, ground nuts, green peas, cauliflower, ladies’ finger, brinjal, and almost all kinds of vegetables. They have twenty-five varieties of leafy vegetables and several types of chilies. Fruits like mango, jackfruit, olive; different kinds of berry fruits are also available. Mostly they themselves sell these products in the market.

13. Gond

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

14. Korku

The Korku the Remnants

The Amaravati and the Korkus in Maharashtra came into the world's media spotlight in 1992. The BBC went into the interior villages, and reported that children belonging to Korku tribe were starving as the outside world looked on in amazement. The causes include ignorance, ill-health, irresponsibility, and exploitation.   Help came in the form of food packets and medicines through the World Health Organisation.  In addition, many voluntary organizations stepped into the field. Today these incidents have been forgotten.

From Nagpur, it takes seven hours to reach the Chikaldara hills. Melghat Tiger Reserve and Project Tiger are two of the welcoming bill board signs. Sources say there were 88 tigers in 1992 in this tiger reserve. Awagad is one of the Korku villages situated in the vicinity of Chikaldara, 33 km from Semoda on the Dharni - Paratwada road. To 'serve' the people here, forest, education and health departments vie with one another.

The Korkus who are also known as Vanavasi (meaning forest dwellers) work for the forest department. When they are employed, they are expected to fetch a bunch of firewood for use in the hearth of forest officials. If the coolies work for two days, they fetch Rs. 14 per day, provided they thumb sign a voucher stating that three days wages have been given to them. Once the officer has left, one day's wage has to be returned to the forest guard.  If the same Korku happens to chop a bamboo for building his hut, he will be fined Rs. 20 by the aforesaid forest official.

If the Korku manages to offer a chicken or a bottle of country liquor, he may be exempted from paying the fine. Every year during the harvest, each Korku family has to supply 5 kilos of Jawari (grains in this region) to the forest guards - another example of exploitation.

The Korku in Awagad live in darkness, in the absence of electricity. Many years ago, the electrical supply had been extended to the village. In 5 houses, electric wiring was finished. But due to the objection of the forest department, the lines were never activated, saying that the line might touch a tree.

Read more on

How they trek to procure kerosene or how they lit the village..
How the Korkus make their houses…
The acute shortage of water in summer and the solution offered to them…..
How pupils up to fourth standard are taught in a school with two classrooms…..
The unfair deal of ration shops for basic provisions….
The sick public health centres and the paid visits by regional medical practitioners..
Bridges and roads which exists on paper and washes away in rains…

How the uncomplaining lifestyle of Korkus helps them meet both ends meet….

I visited this place in 1993. In the last 15 years the condition of the Korkus certainly must have changed – for better or worse. But the scourge of malnutrition frequently plagues these hills. In 1992 about a thousand children died of malnutrition. In the year 2001, the Outlook Magazine reported 1,400 deaths in the region.

Read the complete story of Korkus in A Peep into the Tribalscape

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