Bastar being a tribal territory has the largest number of tribes associated in the country. Bastar in fact has the oldest and the densest population of tribe in the country, almost untouched for many years now. It is the rarest of conserve culture of the primitive man.
The tribal people have their own rules and regulations with women wearing attire which is very different and colorful and jewelry made of beads and metals. The tribes in Bastar are known for their unique culture and traditional living style. They live in their own world with trust worthy and honest smiling faces.
Each tribe has their own dialect and differs from each other the way they dress, their language, life style, celebration and ritual, etc. All of them worship Goddess Maa danteswari, Mavali Mata, Bhima Dev, Bhairam Pattdev, Angdev, etc. Folk songs like Mariro, Sona, Dhankul, Chait Parab, Kotni and Jhaliana are very famous.
Festivals amongst the tribe are celebrated almost all throughout the year with superstitions being prevalent amongst. However, the tribes are becoming economically weak due to deforestation as lot many of them are dependent on trees. With the extinction of natural forest it is becoming very difficukt for them gradually.
A large number of tribe live amongst them and avoid mixing with local people and always trust each other. They live in complete harmony and worship the trees to protect the forest. Modern society has a lot to learn from them especially the ways to conserve the environment.
Let us look into some of the most popular tribes of Bastar,
The Gonds recognized as Koytorias/Kotoriya tribe mainly predominates the forest of Bastar. Some believe they are the oldest tribe of the world. The Gonds are uniquely known in India due to their Ghotul system of marriage. The Ghotul system is related to Goddess Lingopan. Lingo, the supreme deity created the first Ghotul.
Gonds are the largest tribe in terms of population. The economy of the tribal people is dependent on works like forestry, hunting, fisheries and cottage industries. They mainly practice Hindu customs and marry within the family. Gond society is matriarchal where the groom pays dowry to the bride to pay due respects. They live in small villages with special skills which they pass down to their generation and use plants and herbs for curing and medicinal purposes.
The three sub castes of the aboriginal Gond tribe are the Dorla, Maria and Muria races.
The word Madia originated from the word Mad of Gondi dialect which means hills. Thus Madia are the people who live in the hills. In the mountains of Abujhmad, spreading across Narayanpur, Bijapur and Dantewada live the Maria tribes of Bastar.
They have coppery complexion with straight black hair, wide mouth and thick lips. The women are graceful, light in complexion and wear exotic jewelry made of canes, grass and bead.
Both boys and girls are allowed to spend the night out at the Ghotul, a house just like others. As per the tradition, the unmarried boys learn song and dance from their masters, sleeps in Ghotuls every week. The dance is also performed by the girls as well. it is like a pilgrimage.
Goddess Danteswari is the reigning deity of the Marias with an abandon respect for black magic as well.
They are mainly farmers and are not only found in Bastar but they are spread in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra. They speak Halbi dialect which is a language the king of Bastar used to speak. Halbas of Bastar believe that their ancestors were from Warangal with Raja Anam Dev.
The origin of the word Halba is from the word Hal meaning plough and thus known as Halba.
These tribes are found in the Adhar and Chintgarh areas of Bastar who are known for their bravery. The clothing style, hair style, jewelry and everything on a woman’s body distinguish them from the others. The tribe has given birth to warrior Gunndadhur who led the tribal community in 1910.
The Dhurvas are proud, courageous and highly caste conscious race who mix with people of equal social standing. They are religious and worship the village Goddesses with a marital system just like other tribes. Tobacco and liquor consumption is a must during celebrations and activities and are consumed by both men and women, young and old.
Dhurva community celebrates a festival known as Gurgal for one month continuously every year which is known for its musical importance.
The people of this tribe are mainly found in the areas of Konta and Bhopalpatnam of Bastar. Their dialect is Dorli influenced by the Telegu language. Their ancestors are also from Warangal. Dorla community has affinity with cows and pays much respect to deity Bheema Dev.
The word Mur is a Sanskrit word meaning Mool which is the root. It denotes the first inhabitants. The Murias are neat, industrious and good cultivators who constitute the major block of the population. They Muria economy is agrarian and they cultivate rice in plenty. Some of them are also dependent on collecting forest products and edible parts are consumed by the poverty ridden tribals.
The Muria society is devoid of caste system and practice magic and wizardry and believe worshipping cult Gods and Goddesses.
Some of the famous cultural activities of significance is also listed below.
Weekly haats are held in every village wherein small to big stuffs are sold by the tribes in order to earn a living. The local people come to the haat to enjoy and spend some time buying and having fun. One can even try the local snacks that are sold. Exclusive items like local liquor made from dried mahua flower, rice bear/landa, salphi are the items mostly found here in plenty.
They bring thei hand made craft to the haats for better prices. Cock fight is a regular scene to watch here.
Dorlas are famous in celebrating marriage feats of frogs to get sufficient rains known as “kappal pandum.” It is celebrated by the women where a date is fixed by the priest and the ladies collects frogs from the field and keeps them in a new pot. This pot is covered with a new cloth as well. The pots are then taken to the village head’s house and kept for almost a week after which they are taken in a procession and left to the nearby stream and ponds.
During the occasion the aged women pay special homage to the clan God.
From birth to death and in every step of life, dance is inseparable part of the tribes. Use of colorful costumes, ornaments and head gear are important characteristics of the tribal dance. To add more charm, gungroos and bells are tied to the body which creates a musical sound.
Collective dancing is a part of the tribal culture with some of the famous forms being,
Madia/Maria – Karsad, Gaur
Muria – Halki, Mandri, Gedi
Gond – Bilma, Fag
Baiga – Fag
Dorla – Dorla
Bastar is famous for its black magic or gunias. Almost in every village there are black magicians. The villagers have beliefs and faith in them helping them settling their family disputes.
They cure diseases using black magic and in fact the modernity could not diminish their importance in the Bastar people’s life.
The Chaprah Chutney is also known as the red ant chutney. If you are thinking of chutney made with red ants, then you are absolutely correct! The red ants along with the eggs are collected from the nest and are mixed with tomatoes and spices. This creates chutney with red ants in it. Any guesses why red ants are used? Because red ants are considered to be rich in proteins.