(Last Updated on : 19/08/2010)
Quite a handful of tribal communities reside in every nook and corner of the state of Maharahtra. Amongst them, Halba tribal community has caught the attention of so many tribal communities of the entire country. Apart from the Maharashtra state, these Halba tribes too have built their settlements in various places of other Indian state like Madhya Pradesh ,Chhattisgarh and Orissa. In Chhattisgarh also these Halba tribal community are found in several districts like Raipur, Durg, Bastar etc. As per the provision of the Indian constitution, Halba tribal community has been declared to be one of the Scheduled tribes of the Indian Territory.
Throwing light on the total population of the Halba tribal community, it is said that in the states of the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, number has been increased from 7,205 in 1971 to 2,42,819 in 1981. Thus it had proved the fact there has been 35-fold increment of the Halba tribal community in the time period of ten years.
The word Halba has got an etymological significance. If one dissects the word from the Halba , one can get Hal which signifies "Hal" that means the plough. Therefore it automatically lead one to conclude that the major sources of income of this Halba tribal community is based on cultivation and several of the agricultural activities. Nowadays under the influence of modern day civilization, several members of this Halba tribal
Community get themselves busy in other activities also. In fact the anthropologist also have emphasized that amongst several Indian tribal communities, this Halba tribal community is one of the most progressive and affluent tribal communities since they have ventured into the profession of land owning. Interestingly, among tribal communities, this Halba tribal community takes pleasure in high 'local caste status'. Although this Halba tribal maintain a good rapport with all the other tribes like Gond tribes, these Halba tribes have got their unique treasures of cultural elements viz, costumes, language, lifestyle etc.
In order to carry on conversation, this Halba tribal community speaks a wonderful language, which is an amalgamation of several other Indian languages, like Marati, Chhattisgarhi and Oriya.
The societal structure of this Halba tribal community too follows the customs and beliefs of most of the tribes of India. Like them , this Halba tribal community too held marriage in a position of prominence. Certain special rules are being performed that are closely related to the marriage. For instance a Halba female cannot opt the option of giving divorce to her spouses. It is also important to note that the Halba widowers can only tie the wedding knots for the second time to widows only. In the Halba tribal society, marriages amongst the cousins are very permissible.
Also over the years, this Halba tribal community develops tastes for various mouth-watering dishes. The Halba tribes also have addiction for wine and mutton. However, there are some people who have become 'Kabeerpanthis' do not drink it.
As far as the occupations are concerned, the maximum members of the Halba tribal community have taken up occupations like cultivation, poultry Farming, animal husbandry etc. According to some of the anthropologists, a number of tribal communities also vend some of the minor forest products like fruits, leaves, Datun ,fire wood, Basta (new infant root of Bamboo tree), Fish, baskets, Chiraunji (a dry fruit), Boda, Tikhur, Chati, Dhup, Soop (Handy gadget used for winnowing grains and like) made from Bamboo.
There is a school of thought of anthropologists, who also have pointed that quite a handful of Halba tribes are present who also have showed their skills in carving exquisite designs on wood. Images of beautiful birds and animals are been shaped out of the wood. They are mainly used for building houses. For carrying on conversation of the Halba tribal community, they speak in the beautiful language of Halbi.
Just like many other tribal communities, this Halba tribal community people, too have developed faith on numerous gods and goddesses. As per some important sources, the main deities include Danteshwari, Mawli Mata, Bhima Dev, Bhairam Dev, Ghat Dev, Aanga Dev, Seethla Devi. Some anthropologists have also opined a handful of this Halba tribal community also reveres nature and its various elements.
Fairs and festivals too play an integral part in making the culture and tradition of the Halba tribes so much enriched. Few lights are being thrown by the anthropologists in this regard also. Since many of the Halba tribes follow Hinduism as their religion, it is only natural that almost all the Hindi festivals are being feted with lots of enthusiasm. The major festivals of Hindus like Diwali, Holi,Dashehra,Goncha (The Rath Utsav), Fagun etc are some of the main festivals of the Halba tribal community.
The clothes and apparels bear the mark of cultural exuberance. According to the records of some of the anthropologists, these Halba tribes too have their own style of decking up. The clothes are scanty. Especially the Halba females adorn themselves with 'Khosa (beautiful lock of braid), Khinwa in ears (Ear tops), Phuli on Nose (a hanging ring type ornament made with gold or silver)'. Amongst other jewelries include Chapsari (a heavy necklace), Garland of Karipot (Black Pearl), Muhar Mala (A garland made with coins).Bangles , namely like Chude, Chudiya , prepared from metals like gold, silver, brass, aluminum, clay, lead and wood are in fashion. Tattooing their skins with numerous patterns also is quite prevalent in the Halba tribal community.