India is home to a large number of indigenous people. Territorial and familial, the tribes of the country are still unaffected by the lifestyles of the modern world. Some of the major tribal groups in India include Khasis, Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, Angamis, Bhutias and Great Andamanese. Each tribe has its own culture, traditions, lifestyle and language.
Here are a few beautiful, wacky, progressive and intriguing tribal traditions in India:
One of the largest tribes of India, the Bhil tribe stays mostly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh and can also be found in Tharparkar District of Sindh, Pakistan. In a country where feminism is hardly picking up, the Bhils are a very progressive tribe where women are treated as equals! A woman smoking and drinking in public is not looked down upon. Infact, a woman can practice polyandry (have more than one husband).
This tribe from the state of Jharkhand, although small in number, has achieved notable feats. Not restricting themselves to their settlements and villages, people from the tribe have travelled across the nation and have earned laurels in the fields of politics, sports and literature. Did you know that Padma Shri award winner Mr. Ram Dayal Munda is a member of the tribe? A peculiar thing about the tribe is the way it derived its surnames. Each Munda tribe surname has an interesting story behind it.
Living in the hilly regions of Andhra Pradesh, the Chenchu tribe understands love! In a society where ‘arranged marriage’ is still the norm and where ‘love marriage’ is mostly looked down upon, Chenchu youth are free to marry whoever they wish to. Parental pressure or opposition to the marriage is unheard of! The only rule is that the youth cannot marry within their gotra (lineage). The tribe also consents to divorce and widow remarriage.
If dance forms fascinate you, you have to witness a tribal dance of the Kharia tribe. The Kharia people are known to be excellent dancers. Youth of both the genders dance together and sometimes, they form two groups of each gender and then sing and dance one after the other. To a spectator, this dance looks like a beautiful rhythmic conversation.
The Hmar people, also known as Mhar or Mar, are the dwellers of the North east India. They predominantly inhabit Meghalaya, Mizoram, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Tripura. Nicknamed ‘the Christian Tribe of India’, Welsh Missionary Watkin Roberts introduced the tribe to Christianity in the year 1910. The chief of the Hmar tribe village council is called ‘LAL’. LAL is the law. He is all-powerful and everybody in the tribe follows his leadership and instructions.
A tribe which does not believe in idolatry, the Santhals instead worship natural elements and spirits. This tribe mainly occupies parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and Jharkhand. The last thing you will find people doing over here is worshipping an idol!
Following a Matrilineal system, it is the mother who is the head of the family. Moreover, the children take up their mother’s surname, not their father’s! And it is the mother who inherits property. After the death of the mother, her property goes to the daughter (youngest daughter in case of two or more daughters). Girl power all the way!
Having their roots way back to the Mahabharata, Dimasas live in the Jatinga Valley in the north Chhachar Hills of Assam. They are supposed to be the aboriginals of the Brahmaputra Valley, ascending from the Himalayas with their roots connecting them to the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Predominantly a patriarchal society, the people of the tribe have three types of property- paternal property (cash, real estate, weapons and cattle), maternal property (jewellery and clothes) and common property (utensils, bowls and dishes and household equipment). According to the customary law of inheritance, the paternal property is inherited by the sons, the maternal property is inherited by the daughters and common property is shared by the sons and daughters equally.
The Jarawa tribe of Andaman has its own customs. For some reason, although they devour pigs, fish, chicken and other meat, they don’t hunt deer which are available in abundance on the island! Another tradition that the tribal people follow is changing the names of their children post puberty. They are also aware of contraceptive measures and use herbs and plants as protection!
Which tribal traditions would you like to incorporate in your locality/ city? Let us know by commenting below.
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