Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

While the flora and fauna of Madhya Pradesh engages the ecologist, the tribal culture of Madhya Pradesh is any anthropologist’s dream.

India is the home to large number of indigenous people, who are still untouched by the lifestyle of the modern world. India has the largest population of the tribal people in the world. Each tribe has its own identity and culture which varies greatly from each other. The tribes have their distinct social or economic, cultural, political and religious institutions which are important part and parcel of the cultural heritage of India. We have contributed immensely towards the history and culture of India. At present, they do approximately 697 trips in a bit different parts of India. More than half of the Indian tribal population is concentrated in the states of central India.

Ecstatic Ethnicity

Tribals of Madhya Pradesh

Diverse Culture

Statistically, the tribal people is roughly 20% of the entire population of Madhya Pradesh.

Around 46 tribes from Madhya Pradesh have been officially documented by the constitution of India.

These tribes in Madhya Pradesh have been eternally living with harmony with their land and help preserve the quality of the natural environment for generations.

The vivid imagination and innovation of the Madhya Pradesh’s local tribes has led to the development of some of India’s simplest yet most creatively and skillfully constructed musical instruments.

A generic reference to these tribal people is “Adivasis” and each of these tribes follow a vastly different culture & lifestyle.

Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

Baiga Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

The Baiga tribal people of Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, lives in and around the dense sal forests and hence, prefer to adorn white.
The tribal women of Madhya Pradesh have a distinct decorative appearances & they decorate their faces with tattoos, which is unique to each indigenous tribe which has been adopted by them with their own distinctive style.
The “Korku” women, have a stylish “M” mark just between their eyes, near the forehead.
The “Bhadia” women have bow shaped lines above their eyebrows with delicate dots and straight lines on their entire forehead.
Most of the tribes in Madhya Pradesh have different dialects, traditions, religious beliefs and social structures, and have kept themselves largely aloof and excluded from mainstream development.
Not long back many of these tribes were partially nomadic.
Few of them would live solely off the food they could hunt or collect from the forests while most would depend on the primary source – shifting cultivation, an ancient agricultural technique by which they would burn a strip of forest ground, grow crops on a recycle for a few years and then abandon the land & move to fresh pastures.
Today, however, many tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh have adopted modern farming methodology
They are now using modern technology & equipment’s so as to reap a better harvest.
With declining opportunities in their local villages, many have shifted to towns & cities looking for a better life.

Bhil Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

The Bhils, a prominant tribe of Madhya Pradesh, whose primary habitat is the drier areas, compensate for their arid environment, usually dress in bold, vibrant colours.

Madhya Pradesh is indebted to it’s own indigenous tribes that have contributed to it’s rich culture.
The handicrafts, jewelry, fabrics, handloom carpets and furniture’s that have made the state so popular around the world are made primarily by the tribal folk, and are based on their ancient traditions of arts and designs.
The indigenous tribes continues to be a force of magnitude in Madhya Pradesh, and are notable contributors to the life and vibrancy that the state is so well known for.
The ingenuity of the state’s local tribes has led to the development of some of India’s simplest yet most creatively and skillfully constructed musical instruments.
The term ‘tribe’ or ‘tribal’ is a British legacy and the use of this word has been started by the travelers, explorers, traders, missionaries and British colonists to distinguish and describe the local native people and their way of life and culture found in Africa, Asia and Australia etc. India occupies the second position in the world, next to Africa; so far the tribal population is concerned and there are 8.6% of total population of India belongs to tribe (census 2011). The use of the term ‘tribe’ or ‘tribal’ does not appear in the traditional Indian literature.

There are some communities, even if known as ‘tribe’, but are not necessarily included within the Scheduled Tribe list in some specific area. For example, the Panika tribe, which is one of the tribal groups of central India, mainly found in Anuppur, Chhatarpur, Datia, Dindori, Mandla, Panna, Rewa, Satna, Shahdol, Sidhi and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh. In some parts of central India, they are considered as tribe while in other parts they are identified as Other Backward Class Community. Besides, there are two other governmental classifications of tribes which refers to specific histories and vulnerabilities of these communities, viz., De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

Many tribes are present in more than one state. The largest numbers of scheduled tribes are in the states of Odisha (i.e. 62). Madhya Pradesh is the 2nd largest state of India. Because of its centrally location, it is often called as the ‘Heart of India’. Each of these tribes has its own identity and culture which varies greatly from each other. The tribes have their distinct socio-economic, cultural, political and religious institutions which are important part and parcel of cultural heritage of India. They have contributed immensely towards the history and culture of India.

The Central India consists of plateaus and mountainous belt between Indogangrtic plain to the north and roughly to the Krishna River to the south. In this present article, the tribal residing in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, south-eastern Rajasthan, northern Maharashtra, northern Telengana, northern Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, southern Utter Pradesh and south-western West Bengal are considered as tribes of central India. The important tribes inhabiting in this zone are the Agaria, the Asur, the Baiga, the Bhils, the Bhuinya, the Bhumij, the Birhor, the Bondo, the Borida, the Gadava, the Ho, the Juang, the Kamar, the Katkari, the Kharia, the Kharia, the Kol, the Kondh, the Koraku, the Lodha, the Munda, the Muria, the Oraon, the Pardhan, the Santal / Santhal, the Savara etc.

On the basis of the distribution of the tribal population by states, Madhya Pradesh stands first having 14.7% of the total tribal population.

The tribal population of central India can be distinguished from one to another on the basis of their size of population, like, the Gonds, the Bhils, the Santals (Santhals), the Oraons, the Mundas etc have a population between one million to seven millions. On the other side, there are some tribal communities, like the Birjia, the Asur, the Birhor etc have a population of less than 200 persons.

The tribal languages of India is divided into four different linguistic families, namely, Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and the Tibeto-Burman sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan languages. Only a few tribal groups, like the Bhil, the Halbi used to speak Indo-European family of language. For example, the Gonds usually speak their own Gondi dialect for their intra tribal communication but while they used to speak with their neighbouring people, they speak either the Chhattisgarhi or the Hindi. Similarly, the Bhil speaks ‘Bhili’, the Santal speaks ‘Santali’, the Ho speaks ‘Ho’, the Munda speaks ‘Mundari’, the Kondh speaks ‘Kondhi’ as so on as their main dialect for intra tribal communication but they also speak the other languages as per their requirement to communicate people from other communities. Recently, some tribes of central India have developed their own scripts for easy and better communication and spread of their language.

Religion and magic are the integral part of the tribal culture. Most of the tribes of central India are animist in nature. Besides, the worship of ancestral spirit is also in practice. Superstition and traditional beliefs are deeply rooted with their religious practices. It is a general belief among all the tribes of central India that everything what ever happening to them are either by the blessing or curse of the supernatural power or evil spirits. . Usually, the family or clan deities are worshiped by the head of the family or clan members but for the village level or tribe level worship they seek help of their Ojha or religious head. There are nine distinct groups of gods found among the Gonds. The Bada Deo or Ma-hadev (Pen) who is conventionally thought to be Shiva of the Hindu traditions is considered as the principal god of the Gond. Similarly, the Singhbonga (the Sun God) is the principal deity of the Santals, the Mundas and the Hos. Other deities of this tribe are Jahir era, Monika, Marangburu etc. The Juangs of Odisha believe in the supernatural power. The ‘Dharm deuta’ (sun god) is their supreme deity and the ‘Basuki mata’ (earth goddess) is his counterpart.

Most of the rituals and festivals of the tribes of central India are associated with their economic activities, i.e. related to hunting, fishing, agriculture etc.

Some major tribes of Madhya Pradesh are :

  • Bhil
  • Gond
  • Mina
  • Oraon
  • Munda
  • Kol
  • Karwa
  • Korku
  • Halba
  • Saharia

"It is a known fact that tribes of India are endowed with rich expressive traditions – folktales, songs, music, dance, art, designing etc. But this tradition is undergoing irrecoverable change under various pressures. It will be a great loss of cultural heritage in India."

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