(Last Updated on : 23/09/2009)
The five major tribes found in Uttar Pradesh are Tharu, Jaunsari, Raji, Bhotia and Bhoksa. They are mainly found in the present state of Uttarakhand comprising areas like Uttarkashi, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Haridwar
, Chamoli, Bageswar, Udham Singh Nagar, Pithoragarh, Champawat, Almora, Dehradun
The tribal population of Uttar Pradesh mostly hails from the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh and belongs to the Jat or the Gujjar race. These tribal people are concentrated in the districts bordering Nepal and owe their lineage to the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Scythian tribes. Interestingly the tribals of Uttar Pradesh have physical features that are very different from those residing in either Oudh or Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The tribal population of Uttar Pradesh comprises only a small percentage of the entire population of the state and is also one of the weakest communities in the entire state. In spite of innumerable external influences the tribes of Uttar Pradesh have retained their uniqueness and ethnicity. They have distinctive cultural characteristic which can easily be differentiated from the rest of the state. The culturally distinct and ethnic population is divided mainly within three regions like the terai-bhabhar area near Bahraich district, the Vindhyan tracts near the frontiers and the marginal mountain tracts of Garhwal, Kumaon and Uttarakhand.
The Jaunsari tribe occupies the major portion numerically in the state and claims their lineage to be from both the Rajputs
and the Brahmins
. On the other hand tribes like the Kolis, Koisor Koltas, the Aujis and the Doms are some of the minor tribes of Uttar Pradesh and are known by the name Harijans. The Terai-bhabhar area is concentrated with the Bhoksas and the Tharus whereas tribes like Agaria, Bhumiyar, Bhil, Chero, Gond, Ghasia, Kol, Oroan, Panika, Parahiya, Korwaa, Pathari and Sahariya dwell near the Vindhyan mountain ranges.
Till date only five tribal communities have been given the status of scheduled tribes by the government of India abiding by the provisions of the Constitution
. The tribes which have been defined as the scheduled tribes are those dwelling in the border sensitive areas and comprise the Bhoksa, Tharu, Bhotia, Raji and the Jaunsari. Along with the Tharus and the Bhoksas there are some other tribes in Uttar Pradesh who trace their origin from the Mongoloids and the Khasas of the Himalayan region belonging to the Indo-Aryan stock. On the other hand the Bhils and the Saharujas belong to the Indo-Dravidian lineage whereas the Gonds and Kols belong to Munda-Dravidian stock.
As per as the occupation of the tribes in Uttar Pradesh is concerned it has been found that the Koltas till the land for the Khasa tribe. The Jaunsaris can be termed as labourers as they mostly work as labourers in fields, farms and forests. The Bajgi tribe has taken up the profession of tailoring while the Lohars and the Sonars are the blacksmiths and goldsmiths respectively. Certain tribes of Uttar Pradesh like the Ghasias, Agarias and the Panikas serve the Gonds, though in the present day the Gonds have lost their status of supremacy.
Liquor is among the most favourite of all the tribes in Uttar Pradesh. Rice Beer is a very popular alcoholic drink among the tribes and is prepared by the Tharus, Kathawaras and the Dangwarias. The Kora and the Raji tribe depend mainly on wild fruits and tree roots for their daily consumption. Although in the present day the tribes of Uttar Pradesh put on the dresses which the other inhabitants of the state wear but traditionally they prefer gaudy outfits and jewellery.
It is true that the tribes of Uttar Pradesh have their own religious beliefs and faiths but interestingly they worship many of the Hindu Gods
and Goddesses. For instance the Kol tribe of the Banda region worships Rama
, Sita and Lakshmana
because they believe that they are closely associated with them while they were in exile in Chitrakoot. On the other hand the Sahariya tribe believes that they are closely associated to Shabari who was a por Bhil woman and had impressed Lord Rama during his visit to Chitrakoot.
It is true that the tribes of Uttar Pradesh follow a patrilineal and patriarchal structure of society yet the women of the tribal society enjoy a dominant status within their society. Women play an important role among the Tharus in Nainital. Polygamy remains as a status symbol among the tribes of Uttar Pradesh and polyandry is practiced by the Jaunsari tribe. The Korwas and the Bhotias have a custom that on the death of the elder brother, the younger brother can rightfully marry the widow.
Merry making and music in the form of song and dance are an integral part of the tribal life in Uttar Pradesh. Both men and women participate in the dances among the Jaunsaris and the Bhotias. The Kols encourage only the women dancers, whereas among the Bhoksas the dancing of a woman is not permitted. The Tharu women are found dancing only during the festival of Holi.
Altogether it can be concluded saying that the tribes of Uttar Pradesh have a charming way of life. Their colourful life filled with simplicity has become a significant feature of the state and in fact their diverse culture and way of life is an important ingredient in the life of Uttar Pradesh.