(Last Updated on : 27/10/2012)
Indian Tribal people or "Adivasi" is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous phylum of ethnic and tribal groups living in various stares in India. They are counted as a minor but they occupy a larger part of the country as they are the original inhabitant in India. The same term "Adivasi" is used in Sri Lanka to refer to the native Vedda people. The word is also used in the same sense in Nepal as is another word "Janajati", although the political context differed historically under the Shah and the Rana dynasty of Nepal (lasts till 1951).
According to Article 342 of the Constitution of India
there are 697 tribes as counted by the Central Government. These Indian tribal groups of people have been notified to occupy more than one State. More than half of the Indian tribal population is concentrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh
, whereas in Haryana
no community has been notified as a specific tribal group. Other Indian tribal societies are found in Rajasthan
, Andhra Pradesh
, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
, West Bengal
and other states in north eastern part of India.
History of Adivasi
The "Adivasis" were self governed from the very inception that is the 'first nations'. In most parts of the pre-colonial period in India, they were notionally part of the 'unknown frontier' of the respective states where the rule of the reign in fact did not extend, and the Adivasis governed themselves outside of the influence of the particular ruler.
Scholars and historians are of opinion that in the epic Ramayana
dated 200 B.C to 500 B.C. "the kingdom of the demonic king Ravana
and 'Kishkinda', the homeland of the Vanaras (depicted as monkeys) were places situated south of Chitrakuta hill and north of Narmada River
in middle India. Accordingly, Ravana and his people was an aboriginal tribe in India, most probably the Gond, and the Vanaras, like Hanuman
in the epic, belonged to the Savara and Korku tribes whose descendants still alive in the forestry belt of Cental India. Even today, the Gond holds Ravana, the villain of Ramayana, in high esteem as a chief. Lord Rama
, the hero of Ramayana, is also known for slaughtering of the demons in the forests.
In Mahabharata, it is referred that the demise of Krishna at the hands of a Bhil Jaratha showed the existence of tribal people in India. In the ancient scriptures, considered to be sacred by the upper castes, various terms are used depicting Adivasis as almost animals. The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata
, the Puranas
and other so-called 'sacred books' refer to Adivasis as Rakshasa (demons), Vanara (monkeys), Jambuvan (boar men), Naga (serpents), Bhusundi Kaka (crow), Garuda (King of Eagles) etc. In medieval India, they were called derogatorily as Kolla, Villa, Kirata, Nishada, and those who surrendered or were subjugated were termed as slaves and the robbers.
The introduction of Permanent Settlement Act
by the British in 1793 conferred the control over vast territories, including Adivasi territories, to designated feudal lords for the purpose of revenue collection by the British. This drastically commenced the forced restructuring of the relationship of Adivasis to their territories as well as the power relationship between Adivasis and the modern people.
Tribes of North East India
In the north eastern part of India, there is a concentration of a number of tribes. The tribal people of Meghalaya
are categorised in two major groups namely the Garo tribe
and Hynniewtrep. Chakma tribe
is one of the important tribes of Mizoram
. The Pawi Tribe
of Mizoram is named not after the name of the clan but after the name of the place where there are residing. Another important tribe of Mizoram is Ralte tribes. The tribes of Manipur
are as follows Aimol
, Kacha Naga
, Lamgang, Mao, Maram
, Lushai tribes, Monsang
, Purum, Ralte, Sema, Simte, Sukte, Tangkhul
. Bodo tribe
and Mishing tribe constitute the largest population in Assam.
Tribes of North India
North India also encompasses many tribes. Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir
have strictly descended from the Indo-Aryan group of people. With normal Indian food
being their staple diet, these north Indian tribes believe in both Hinduism
. Tribes of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand
comprise a colossal portion under the north Indian tribal section, with variety speaking out from every section and every sphere of daily life.
Tribes in Haryana
basically are consisted of nomadic and semi-nomadic individuals, with a somewhat decaying condition of their social and economic condition. There are approximately 25 nomadic tribes, with their total count exceeding 15 lakh. Tribes of Himachal Pradesh
can be singled out for their looks, good conduct and religious behaviour towards every kind of situations and places.
Tribes of East India
East Indian tribes come to a significant numbering count under the vast section of Indian tribes. Tribes of West Bengal with their incredible talents and improvisations have elevated Bengali tribes into a prestigious hold. Tribes of Orissa
have their own set of faiths when it comes to marriage and holy union. Tribes of Jharkhand
are diversified through their handy-work and religious customs.
Tribes of West India
West India, comprising the states of Rajasthan
house sufficient section of Indian tribes. West Indian tribes have been pocketed in several far-away areas, living a life of their own. Agriculture and harvesting seem to be the basic occupations of the tribes of Gujarat since olden times. Tribes of Rajasthan
have been involved with rest of the Rajasthani population since ancient times, with their unique customs and culture spreading each other day. Tribes of Maharashtra
are primarily classified in the groups of nomadic tribes and scheduled tribes.
Tribes of Central India
Tribal life in Central India is an excellent instance of the blending of rural and urbanity. Tribes of Madhya Pradesh
are basically classified under the group of scheduled tribes, with other sub-groups of tribes also making their presence felt. Madhya Pradesh likes to concentrate wholly upon their festivities and celebrations. Tribes of Chhattisgarh
primarily consist of a significant number that even surpasses the urban population.
Tribes of South India
The numbers of South India tribes are perhaps unlimited with their miscellaneous existence, which has now gained popularity throughout the country. The tribes of Tamil Nadu
comprise significant number of population ranging from dwindling to massive. Tribes in Karnataka
are astoundingly enormous in number, with the count exceeding a bare minimum. Tribes of Kerala
are perhaps the most unique among all the south Indian tribes discussed. Residing basically in the mountainous terrains of the state, they have been striving to uphold their indigenous traditions and customs from any foreign influence.
The interesting and novel mode of lifestyle that such Indian tribal people lead, accounts for a vast section of Indian travelogue. Various styles of eating, drinking, working, singing, dancing, clothing, accessorising, or religious customs are followed by the Indian tribal people and they lead a life of their own.