People & Culture

Gonds

Gonds are not only the largest tribal group in India but also are a  majority of the tribal population of Bastar.They are mainly a nomadic tribe and also called as Koytoria.The name Gond is extracted from the Telugu word ‘Konda’ which means hill.Agriculture, collecting minor forest produce ,forging metal goods in cottage industries , fishing,hunting, are the main occupations of Gonds.Gond survived by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the grove, but they also trade and sell cattle. Others hold wage-earning jobs. They do not make their own clothing or jewels but buy them from neighboring groups. The Gond does not marry within their own clans and cross-cousin marriages are preferred as are multiple spouses.They still practice old traditions like worship of nature in different forms, animal sacrifices during religious ceremonies, adorning head with horn, etc.

They have a typical painting style that cannot be seen else where in the country. Apart from painting on paper, people this tribe engage themselves in wall painting and floor paintings as well. These paintings serve the ritualistic purposes as well as keep the surroundings harmonious and pure. The Gonds, predominantly Hindu, speak a Dravidian language and their local language is ‘Madia’ and ‘Gondi’.

Murias

The Muria are a sub-group of the Gond tribe.The Muria, unlike the typically nomadic Gond, live in permanent villages. They survive mainly by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the forest. The Muria are generally very poor and live in bamboo, mud, and thatched roof houses. Each house is surrounded by a fence.The g hotul, or temporary dormitory for unmarried youth, is a significant building within the Muria villages. It contains no domestic furnishings and is basically a social club and sleeping place for the young and unmarried. Sixty percent of the Muria are Hindus,and the remaining 40% are animists . They are convinced that the forest is the dwelling place of the gods and ancestral spirits. They believe that these spirits use wild animals to warn the tribe about future events. The Muria regularly pray to the ancestral spirits for protection and blessings. They believe that a person will live two or three lives before coming back to live in the house as a god. For this reason, the ancestral spirits are included in all activities.

Abhujmaria

Known variously as Abudjamadis, Abujmariya and Hill Maria, these tribes are found in the geographically inaccessible areas of Abujhmar Mountains and Kutrumar Hills in the Bastar district.They speak a Dravidian language called Abujmaria. The Hill Maria are semi-nomadic farmers who use the “slash and burn” method of agriculture. After farming an area for two or three years, they abandon their houses, move to a different location, and make new land clearings. They survive by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the forests. They hunt with spears, and bows and arrows, and eat the game that is killed. Wild buffalo, boar, deer, and tigers live in the dense forests of the region. The people vow to protect the tiger, which is highly honored, feared, and respected.

Although the Hill Maria are less civilized than other Gond, they far surpass the others in strength and ability. A strong sense of community exists between them. Liberty, equality, and brotherhood are highly valued principles.

Halbas

The Halbas dirived their name from the term”Hal”,meaning the plough.They are primarily agriculturists.Halbas are one of the developed and rich tribal groups and many of them are land owners or land lords . Halbas enjoy high ‘local status’ amongst the tribals in the state,because of their costume,dilect and social activities.Their dilect is a raw mixture of Marathi,Oriya and Chhattisgarhi.They are mainly followers of Kabir.Although they consume meat and wine, the people who become ‘Kabirpanthis’ abstein from non-vegetarian food and wine.