Source : Govt. of India tribal photo
Synopsis : There are over 645 tribes who are the original inhabitants of India. Most of them remain poor and isolated due to their lack of education and skills that are required to get jobs and a way out of their poverty. But they remain resilient and proud of their culture and heritage that they try to preserve against all odds. The blog looks at some of them and their unique lifestyle to make people appreciate them.
Today I present to you 4 videos with English narration and subtitles to show you the beauty of the tribes of Kutchch in Gujrat and in Rajasthan of India in all its glory. There are over 645 tribes living in India as per the census. The twenty most recognized tribes are shown below. It is not possible to write about all the tribes in India so a few are chosen for this blog to give you some information on them.
The tribes are the original inhabitants of India who have their history dating back thousands of years. They have remained isolated , mostly uneducated and limited to their tribal lands that now face serious threat from encroachment from outsiders. The government now makes it easier for them to get education and jobs. It provides them training in new skills that can get them jobs and a better way of life. They have helped Ram build the causeway between India and Lanka ( now called Sri Lanka) that Ram’s army crossed to fight the King Ravana and rescue Sita but the Ramayana describes them as monkeys denigrating them as sub humans.
But the tribals are known for their resilience, their beauty in women and their survival skills in harsh environment. Their way of life is under pressure in modern India but they try to remain faithful to their culture, language, their ethnic clothes, their art and handicraft that they sell to make a living.
In the last part of this blog I present to you four incredible videos on the tribes of Gujrat and the nomads called the Rabaris on Rajasthan.
Major Tribes in India (State-wise)
|Arunachal Pradesh||Aptani, Mishmi, Daffla, Miri, Aka, Sinpho, Khamti Nyishi etc.|
|Assam||Chakma, Mikir, Kachari, Bora , Bodo etc|
|Meghalaya||Garo, Khasi, Jaintia, Hamar etc|
|Nagaland||Angami, Konyak, Lotha etc|
|Manipur||Kuki, Lepcha, Mugh etc|
|Tripura||Bhutia, Chakma, Garo, Kuki etc|
|Mizoram||Mizo, Lakher etc|
|West Bengal||Asur, Bhumij, Birhor, Lodha, Lepcha, Magh,
Mahali, Malpaharia, Polia , Santhals , Toto etc
|Jharkhand||Santhal, Paharia, Munda, Ho, Birhor, Oraon,
Kharia, Tamaria etc
|Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand||Tharu, Bhatia, Jaunsari, Bhoksha, Raji, Khasa,
Bhuia, Kharwar, Manjhi, Kol etc
|Odisha||Zuang, Sawara, Karia, Khond, Kandh etc|
|Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh||Hill Maria, Muria, Dandami, Gond, Baiga. Parja,
Bhattra, Agaria, Bhil, Saharia. Korwa, Halba etc
|Himachal Pradesh||Gaddi, Gujjar, Kinnar etc|
|Jammu & Kashmir||Gaddi, Bakarwal etc|
|Rajasthan, Maharashtra||Bhil, Meena. Kathoria, Garasia , Warli etc|
|Andhra Pradesh and Telangana||Chenchu, Yandai, Kurumba, Khond, Bagdaz,Koya, Bagata, Gadaba etc|
|Kerala, Karnataka||Irula, Kurumban, Kadar, Puliyan , Kodava, Soliga , Siddis etc|
|Tamil Nadu||Kota, Kurumba, Badaga , Toda etc|
|Andaman & Nicobar||Great Andamanese, Nicobarese, Onge, Jarawa,
Shompen, Sentenalese etc.
Note : The tribes mentioned below are highlighted in the list above in bold letters.
The photos and the information related to them come from the Indian Government website.
Known for their valor, the Gond tribes are mostly found in Central India in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. They are also found in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. So when you are on a tour in Madhya Pradesh, muttering and mulling over the titillating sculptures of Khajuraho and Sanchi Stupa respectively and wheeling from majestic palaces to whispering woods of Kanha and Bandhavgarh, steer towards the Gondi forest and experience the unique lifestyle of the Gonds. The Gond tribes have a good command over Telgu, Hindi, Marathi, Parsi and many other Dravadian languages.
What to experience? The rural colour with mud walls and thatched roof houses, earthen pots, traditional wears – men in dhoti and women in sari and ornaments, the festivals of Keslapur Jathra and Madai and ritual performances are the ones to experience.
If you are on your royal wheels for a trip to Rajasthan, moving from massive forts and palaces to Jain temples, then discovering the lifestyle of the Bhil tribes is an absolute contrast. This tribal community in India is mostly found in the Aravali Ranges of Sirohi in Udaipur and some places of Dungarpur and Banswara districts of Rajasthan. Further, the settlements of the Bhil tribes are also found in parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tripura. What to experience? The cultural harmony – Ghoomar dance, Than Gair (a religious dance and drama) are Baneshwar Fair that is held in the month of January or February are the major attractions. Whereas the Bhili language, which is an Indo – Aryan language, is one of the most interesting features to experience.
The Santhal tribes are the major tribes of West Bengal and are mostly seen in the districts of Bankura and Purulia. They are also widely seen in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam. The journey to the abode of Santhals heads from the cultural capital of India, Kolkata, en route the terracotta temples of Bishnupur and Bolpur. The Santhals are largely dependent on agriculture and livestock; further, they are well versed in the art of hunting. What to experience? The Santhali dance and music is one of the major attractions that you can’t miss when you are wheeling to Bankura and Purulia. Moreover, festivals like Karam, Maghe, Baba Bonga, Sahrai, Ero, Asaria, Disum Sendra and Namah often fascinate travellers.
4. Great Andamanese tribe
Back in 2010 when Boa (one of the speakers of two Great Andamanese languages, Khora and Bo) died, the world lost two languages. So before the extermination of these unique tribes, speaking Jeru and Sare, plan an ocean cruise to Andaman and explore the indigenous survival land. The Great Andamanese Tribe, which includes the Onge, Jarawa, Jangil and Sentinelese, are said to be the first inhabitants of the islands. But today a significant number is on its way to extinction. Nonetheless, the left over population of the Great Andamanese are largely dependent on the vigorous campaign by Survival and Indian organizations. What to experience? Well, it is hard to distinguish them by their appearance – complexion and dress, still you are another traveler who will end up capturing their lifestyle. The Great Andamanese are mostly spotted in Strait Island and parts of Rutland Island.
If you are seeking to discover the culture hidden in the mystical mountains of Meghalaya, the ethnical clamour of the Khasi tribes, who are filled with lots of music, playing musical instruments like drums, guitars, flutes, wooden pipes and metal cymbals, surely going to make your tour to Meghalaya bright and striking. The Khasi tribes are mostly found in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and are also found in parts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and West Bengal. What to experience? Other than the language, which is an Austro-Asiatic language AND dress – Jainsem for women and Jymphong for men, the five day long extravaganza, the Nongkrem festival is a feast for travellers’ eyes.
One of the few remaining matrilineal societies in the world that are mostly spotted in the hills of Meghalaya, the Garo Tribes are ideally known for their vivid lifestyle. They are also seen in the neighbouring areas of Bangladesh and parts of West Bengal, Assam and Nagaland. It is easy to distinguish the Garo tribes from other tribes of Meghalaya. Women are often found in varieties of traditional ornaments, whereas men are seen wearing turbans with feathers stuck behind them. What else to experience? The unique form of Garo architecture like Nokmong, Nokpante, Jamsireng and Jamadaal are some abstract capture in your lense. Further, the Wangala festival of Asanang is something that you can’t miss.
It’s the famous Hornbill Festival of the Angami Naga tribes that pulls in travelers to the farthest corner of North East India, Nagaland. The Angami Nagas are one of the major tribes of Nagaland, widely present in the district of Kohima. Apart from the Hornbill Festival, the major attraction remains their intricate and beautiful woodcraft and artwork. The Angami Nagas are known for the producer of bamboo work, cane furniture, beds, shawls and powerful machetes. What else to experience? The form of language, the Angami Language that is identified with different names such as Gnamei, Ngami, Tsoghami, and Monr, is another major feature to get hold off. Further, their dressing style – men in white Mhoushu and black Lohe and women in Mechala along with ornaments like Beads, miniature mask pendants, bangles and bracelets – is surely going to arrest your eyes. Well, the hardcore carnivore travelers may try out some unique pork dishes from the Angami.
Don’t miss the Nupur dance when you are in the abode of the Munda tribes. Their settlement is largely based in the Chota Nagpur Plateau region and is mostly found in the dense of Jharkhand. Further, parts of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha are also inhabited by the Munda Tribes. Amidst the vast eco sphere, these Munda tribes display a simple and basic lifestyle that follows the Sarna religion, believing in a God called Singbonga. What to experience? Mage, Phagu, Karam and Sarhul are the major festivals of the Munda tribes that attract travellers from different parts of the world. Further, the Killi language is also another major feature to get hold of.
Dominating the landlocked territory of Sikkim that is bordered by the Indian Himalaya, the Bhutias are widely known for their traditional grandeur, art and cuisine. One cannot forget the unique preparation of momo, steamed meat dumplings and thukpa, slurpy, burpy and yummy! Travel into the land of the Bhutias during the Losar and Loosong festival and experience the vivid culture – dance, music and religion. The hardcore carnivores can try out some spicy beef.
The Chenchu tribes are one of the indigenous people of Andhra Pradesh inhabiting over the years in the midst of the forest of Nallamala Hills. They are mostly seen in the districts of Mahboobnagar, Nalgonda, Prakasam, Guntur and Kurnool. Life is hard for them as they are largely dependent on hunting and trading jungle products like roots, tubers, fruits, beedi leaves, mahua flower, honey, gum, tamarind and green leaves. What to experience? Well, other than the languages having Telegu accent, they are skilled in various form of arts and crafts. Further, the Chenchu tribes are extremely ritualistic. Their ritual performances of various gods and goddesses are the major attractions for travelers.
So, when you steer onto the Mysore – Madikeri Road from Mysore, you are slowly heading to the abode of one of the distinct race in India, the Kodava tribes, known for their bravery since ages. Coorg, flourishing as one of the eco – tourist destinations in India, attracts lot of weekenders from nearby cities of Karnataka and travelers from different parts of the country and world, BUT the harmony and ethnicity of the Kodava tribes is one of the major attractions for the explorers. Digging into the cultural diorama, the Kodava tribes are fond of music and dance. One can witness such hues during the festivals of Puttari, Kaveri Sankramana and Kailpodhu. Moreover, these people are also passionate about hockey with both men and women playing the game. If you want to seek such a playful panorama then be there during the Kodava Hockey Festival, which is held every year.
One of the isolated tribal groups inhabiting the village of Totopara in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal is the Toto tribes. They have a simple lifestyle and are largely dependent on trading vegetables and fruits. In spite of the fact that they define themselves as Hindus, the Totos are believers of god Ishpa and goddess Cheima. If you are wheeling to Totopara during the peak winter season, then steer to Jaldapara National Park, which is one of the popular national parks in India that is located approximately 20 kilometers from Totopara. Don’t forget to try out Eu, which is a type of country liquor made from fermented marua, rice powder and malt and is served warm in Poipa (wooden glass).
Expert snake and rat catchers, that’s what make the Irula tribes of South India special. With a population of approximately 3,00,000 the Irulas inhabits parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Moreover, the Irulas are the second largest tribe in Kerala and is mostly seen in the district of Palakkad. So, when you are on a holiday in Kerala to enjoy the sprawling hues of the Nilgiri Mountains and cruise down the sparkling backwaters of Alleppey, just for a day steer to Palakkad. What to experience? The Irulas are largely dependent on agricultural products like paddy, raggi, dhal, plantains, chilies, and turmeric. Further, the major attraction remains their varied ritual performances. All though most of them are Hindus but they still believe in worshiping their own diety, Irulas are also known to be conversant in white and black magic.
The Nyishi tribes are the largest inhabitants of the mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh and are mostly found in the districts of Papum Pare, Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, parts of Upper Subansiri. Whilst a majority of them have converted to Christianity, their religion still involves a belief in spirits associated with nature. What to experience? The Nyokum Festival, which is dedicated to goddess Nyokum, held in the month of February, is a major attraction where you as a traveler can seek the interesting cultural heritage and ethnicity of the Nyishi tribes.
Believed to be the early settlers of Assam, the Bodo tribes today are found in Udalguri and Kokrajhar of Assam and parts of West Bengal and Nagaland. If you are keen to seek the traditional colors of the Bodo people, then travel to North East during the time of the Baishagu Festival, dedicated to Lord Shiva (locally known as Bathou), which is celebrated during the spring season every year. Further, the Bodo tribes are meat eating people and hence , just wake up the carnivorous nature in you and try out some unique preparation of pork and fish. What else to experience? Weaving is one of the most intrinsic part of Bodo culture and hence you can buy some hand loom products.
The Warli or Varli tribes of Maharashtra and Gujarat display a unique form of art and painting that reflects the mural paintings of 500 – 10,000 BC carved in the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. Their form of art follows the rudimentary technique with mixture of earth and cow dung, branches, red ochre, rice paste, bamboo stick and more. If you want to seek such grandeur then visit during the Warli Folk Art Dancing People Festival, which is held during the month of March every year. Well, don’t miss the Tarpa Dance, which is a folk dance performed during the harvest season.
Dominating parts of the Nilgiri Mountains, the Toda tribes are largely dependent on cattle-herding and dairy-work. They are also skilled in art and architectural works like embroidery products and dogles, type of oval and pent shaped huts made of bamboo canes and thatched roof. If you are traveling to Ooty, which is one of the popular hill stations in South India, you will come across several such Toda huts as well as people inhabiting the area.
Another major tribe dominating parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Kurumban tribe exhibits a simple lifestyle, depending largely on agricultural products. Moreover, they are widely known for witch-craft and magical performances as well as traditional herbal medicines.
Inhabiting the dense forest of BR Hills of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Soliga tribes are yet another indigenous group of people, further divided to five sub groups – Male Soliga, Urali Soliga, Pujari, Kadu and Burude. Even if you steer your wheels towards Bandipur National Park, you may chance upon the Kadu Soliga tribes and hence can experience little bit of their lifestyle.
The Siddi tribes of Karnataka are believed to have descended from the Bantu people of Southeast Africa who were treated as slaves by Portuguese merchants. Today, the Siddi people are predominantly found around Yellapur, Haliyal, Ankola, Joida, Mundgod, Sirsi, Belgaum and Dharwad in Karnataka apart from some pockets of Pakistan. The Siddi people are mostly Roman Catholic but some follow Hinduism and Islam. What to experience? Other than mulling over their historical facts, the major attraction remains the ritual practices, dance and music.
Here I present to you the 4 videos in English highlighting the tribes in Kutchch in Gujarat in dazzling colors and high definition , their handicrafts and life style. You will be amazed by their beautiful women and their art work, potteries, embroidered clothes and jewelries. They are very joyful people proud of their culture, heritage and their way of living in harsh conditions of Kutchch in Gujrat.
Source : U tube video of Kutchch tribe and their culture
Source : U tube video of tribe in Kutchch and their needle craft
The following two videos are on the nomadic tribe of the Rabaris who are found in Rajasthan as well as in Pakistan border area. They are known for their resourcefulness living in the desert conditions of Rajasthan where they eke out a meager living but maintain the colorful culture, their lifestyle and their handicraft. They are nomads so they move around a lot looking for grazing lands for their animals and water.
Source : U tube video of Rabari nomads
Source : U tube video of Rabari nomads and their ornaments
I hope that you will find the blog informative about the few tribes mentioned here and share the blog with anyone you like.
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