Tribal life then and now
TRIBAL LIFE THEN AND NOW
BY- DEBANJAN MUKHERJEE
2. Tribal Lifestyle
3. Affect of the colonial rule on the
4. Birsa Munda and his Movement
5. Significance of the Movement
6. Revolts against British
Who are Tribal people?
Tribals are a group of people that live and work
together. Tribal people in India are called Adivasi .
Adivasi is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous set
of ethnic and tribal groups considered the aboriginal
population of India. India has approximately 645
tribes. Some of the major tribes in India are:1. Gonds
• Many Tribals live in widely dispersed villages, with
families living on farms surrounded by fields.
• They hunt and fish, using plant-based poisons to stun
the fish. Some tribes use shotguns for hunting, others
use bows and arrows, spears, or blowguns with darts
tipped with curare.
• They grow vegetables and fruits like manioc, corn, beans
• Many Tribals believe that if someone is ill it is because
they were attacked by an evil spirit of been cursed by a
witch. Many regions where tribals live are off limits to
outsiders. This is so their cultures are not disrupted and
the tribals are not exploited or harmed.
Affect of the colonial rule on the tribal life
The Colonial rule affected the tribal life by the following
ways:• Forests were the abode and the provider of food for the
tribals. Tribal communities suffered when the British
declared forests as state property. Tribals were not
allowed to practice shifting cultivation and to collect
fruits, food and woods.
• The tribal chiefs lost many of their administrative powers
and had to follow the rules which were formulated by the
British. They also had to pay taxes to the British.
• They were exploited by traders and moneylenders.
Traders involved in the silk trade sent their agents to
Santhals who reared cocoons. The Santhals were paid Rs
3–4 for a thousand cocoons. These cocoons were sold at
much higher prices in Burdwan and Gaya.
• They were recruited at extremely low wages and were
also prevented from returning to their homes.
Birsa Munda and His Movement
• Birsa Munda -15 November 1875 – 9 June 1900) was
an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero
who belonged to the Munda tribe. He spearheaded a tribal
religious Millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal
Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century, during
the British Raj, thereby making him an important figure in the
history of the Indian independence movement. The revolt
mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti,Tamar,
Sarwada and Bandgaon.
• Munda Rebellion is one of the prominent 19th century tribal
rebellions in the subcontinent. Birsa Munda led this
movement in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900. The
ulgulan, meaning 'Great Tumult’. Birsa Movement was started
to get freedom from British.
Significance of the Movement
There was two main significance of Birsa Movement
1• The colonial government was forced to introduce
laws so that the tribal lands cannot be taken up by
2• It is one of the top examples of showing how
tribal can fight against any injustice and express their
disagreement towards the rule.
Revolts against the British
On 30th June 1855 two Santal rebel leaders,
Sidhu and Kanhu Murma, mobilized ten
thousand Santhals and declared a rebellion
against the British Colonist.
• In 1857-1858 the Bhil revolted against the
British under the leadership of Bhagoji Naik
and Kajar Singh. They were the first to raise a
movement against the British in Rajasthan.
• In 1891 the tribals of the North eastern India
revolted against the British under the
leadership of Tikenderajit Singh. This revolution
led to the Anglo-Manipur war of 1891
• Location - Santhal, also spelled Santal, also called Manjhi, ethnic group of eastern India,
numbering well over five million at the turn of the 21st century. Their greatest concentration is in
the states of Bihar, Jharkhand,West Bengal, and Orissa, in the eastern part of the country.
• Clothing - The santals have their own clothings and distinctive draping styles. Now days
people wear the sarees and dhotis what ever available in market. ... Women wear petticoat, saree
and blouse. But the old ladies rarely wear blouse as everyday clothing.
• Food Habits -
Santhal food habits include large amounts of rice, which is either eaten with
watery potato gravy, or with watery pulses with salt and chilly to enhance the taste. Gone are the
days when they had a variety of green vegetables on their plate.
• Occupation - The occupation of the Santhals revolve around the forests
in which they reside. Their basic needs are fullfiled from the trees and plants
of the forests. They are also engaged in the hunting, fishing and cultivation for
• Language - Santali also known as Santhali, is the most widely spoken
language of the Munda subfamily of the Austroasiatic languages, related to
Ho and Mundari, spoken mainly in the Indian states of Assam, Bihar,
Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal.
• Festivals - Santhals celebrate blossom festival. Santhals celebrate 'Sarhul'
or blossom festival in Mayurbhanj district. Celebrating the beauty of mother
nature, the tribals, mainly Santhals, are observing 'Sarhul' or blossom
festival in Mayurbhanj district. The unique festival, which is known as 'Baha' is
dedicated to flowers.
• Location -
Gonds live in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana,Andhra Pradesh, Bihar,
• Clothing - The women wore saris, choli and jewellery, protective gadgets. The male members of Gond
society wore dhotis and shawl
• Food Habits - Gond diet has two staple millets – askodo and kutki. They are often day meals in the
form of broth and night meal in the form of dry cereal with vegetables grown in gardens or picked up
from forests. One cereal that is a luxury for them is Rice. Gonds enjoy rice during special festivals and
• Occupation - Agriculture is the main occupation of the Gonds.
Although majority of the Gond's family are associated with agriculture.
Like their ancestors they still depend upon it for their livelihood.
• Language - The majority speak various and, in part, mutually
unintelligible dialects of Gondi, an unwritten language of
the Dravidian family. Some Gond have lost their own language and
speak Hindi, Marathi, or Telugu, depending on which is dominant in
• Festivals - Pola, a cattle festival, Phag, and Dassera are some of their
major festivals. In Gond folk religion, adherents worship a high god
known as Baradeo, whose alternate names are Bhagavan, Sri Shambu
Mahadeo, and Persa Pen. Baradeo oversees activities of lesser gods
such as clan and village deities, as well as ancestors.
• Location - Bhils are listed as indigenous people of the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan-all in the western Deccan regions and central India-as
well as in Tripura in far-eastern India, on the border with Bangladesh.
• Clothing - Bhil women wear traditional saris while men are dressed in long frock and
• Food Habits - Main foods of Bhils are maize, onion, garlic and chili which they cultivate in
their small fields. They collect fruits and vegetables from the local forests. Wheat and rice are
used at time of festivals and other special occasions only.
• Occupation - Most Bhils are farmers. However, the pressures
of subsistence agriculture, uneconomic land holdings, the burden of
debt, and frequent drought have forced many Bhils to leave the land
and turn to other occupations.
• Language - Bhils are an Indo-Aryan speaking ethnic group in
West India. They speak the Bhil languages, a subgroup of the
Western Zone of the Indo-Aryan languages.
• Festivals - The Baneshwar fair is the main festival celebrated
among the Bhils. This fair is held during the period of Shivatri (in
the month of January or February) and is dedicated to Baneshwar
Mahadev also known as Lord Shiva. On this occasion Bhils gather
all together set up camps on the banks of the Som and Mahi river.
• Location - Khasi lived in Meghalaya in the districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West
Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi,West Jaintia Hills and East Jaintia Hills.
• Clothing - Women belonging to the tribe of Khasi wear a Jainsen along with a blouse. ...Women
wear a long Assam Muga silk piece in the form of a dress during Ka Jainsem Dhara. The senior women of
the tribe wear Jainkup which is made up of woollen cloth.
• Food Habits - The Khasi people eat a variety of food, but rice forms their staple food. They are very
fond of meat like pork, beef, chicken and others. Fresh and dried fish are also popular non-vegetarian
• Occupation - Khasis occupation is called as Jhum
means shifting cultivation for their survival. They have a
peasant based economy. There are more than 100 Khasi
villages in Sylhet Division. The Khasi people mainly
do farming, grow betel palm and do other business.
• Language - Khasi is an Austroasiatic language spoken
primarily in Meghalaya state in India by the Khasi people. It
is also spoken by a sizeable population in Assam and
• Festivals - The Khasis, Jaintias and Garos of Meghalaya
celebrate several festivals which are directly and indirectly
connected with religion. They are full of joy and happiness
which is expressed outwardly in the form of dance, feast
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