(Last Updated on : 07/07/2011)
Tribes of West Bengal have occupied a large section of the total population of West Bengal. West Bengal state is the abode of numerous tribes who reside in the rural parts of the state. Their culture, religion, costumes, tradition have enriched the culture and tradition of West Bengal. Many of these tribes of West Bengal have adapted to diverse religious practices. Among them, Hinduism
, with its subdivision of various castes and native tribes, has filled three fourths of the total tribal populace of the West Bengal state. Apart from Hinduism, followers of Islam
are also found among the tribal groups. Most of the people of the tribal groups of West Bengal speak in Bengali with their own localized accent. In fact these tribes are quite proud of their enriched culture and language. Variant dialects are also equally popular amongst these tribes of West Bengal. They are, in general, confined to the rural belt of the state. However, a small portion of this population has now moved to the urban belt, in search for employment and a better lifestyle.
Various tribes in West Bengal
Among the various tribal groups of West Bengal, most significant tribes are the Garo Tribe
, Lohara Tribe
, Mahli Tribe
, Mru Tribe
, Munda Tribe
, Oraon Tribe
, Paharia Tribe
, Kora Tribe
etc. These tribes comprises of less than one-tenth of the total population of the state. Each of these tribes has their own history of origin and some of them are said to be in connection with Bengal before the independence. Fair and festivals are enjoyed with great merriment among the tribal groups of West Bengal. The festivals and occasions of Bengal reflect in the fests and festivals of the tribal groups of this region. Most of the people of the tribal groups have adopted the religious culture of Bengal. Some of the gods and goddesses are worshipped by the tribal groups of this region. Durga Puja
is one of the most major festivals of Hindus of West Bengal. This festival is also celebrated by the tribal groups with much gaiety. Some other festivals like Makar Sankranti
, Kali Puja, etc are feted in the whole of tribal society. They have their own tribal occasions and festivals too.
Bhutia tribes is one of the prominent tribes residing in West Bengal. They generally speak in Sikkimese language. The Bhutia tribes are mostly farmers, producing several vegetables and fruits. They are followers of tantric Buddhism
Festivals and fairs are an integral part enriching the culture and tradition of the whole of the Bhutia tribal society. Amongst the main festivals of Bhutia tribes, the Losar and Losoong festivals worth mentioning. The Mru tribes are mostly found in various areas of the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. The occupations of the Mru tribes are mainly agriculture. Festivals are an integral part of this Mru tribal society. Cooking sumptuous dishes as well as making handworks creates attraction amongst the people. Bhuiya tribes of the state have a rich origin. Most of these tribes have different culture and tradition. Even some of them belong to high castes of Hinduism and they are 'titular Bhuiya'.
Garo tribes are located mainly in Burdwan district, Meghalaya
, Cooch Bihar, Jalpaiguri
and Dinajpur of West Bengal. The main language spoken by these tribes is Garo, also known as Garrow and Mande. There are a huge section of Garo populace who has followed Baptism and Roman Catholicism. One of the most significant among Garo festivals is the Wangala, which is a festivity of thanksgiving after harvesting. The Garo people are very fond of music and dance.
Oraon tribes of West Bengal are one of the biggest tribes in the whole of south Asia. These Oraon tribes converse with each other in Kurukh, a popular language belonging to the Dravidian family. Most of the Oraon tribal communities have taken up the profession of cultivation.
Munda tribes are one of the largest tribes of India. Main languages spoken by these tribes include 'Munda' or 'Killi', Santali and Mundari. These Munda tribes are pious and religious minded, and mainly practice Hinduism.
Occupation and lifestyle
The tribes of West Bengal are mostly farmers but many of them are engaged in some other occupations like carpentry, weaving, hunting, fishing etc. Rice
is the staple food of the tribal people of Bengal and sometimes they include fish, meat, chicken and fowls in their diet. Some of the tribes are adept in art and craft and their created items give evidence to the exclusive tribal arts. Tribes of West Bengal are famous all over the world for its proficiency in art and crafts. They are truly skilled in creating splendours to its outstanding works on carpentry, terracotta, drawings, and textile. Earthenware, brass and copper ware, needle works, wall-hanging, hand looms, fine muslin and silk clothes, wood statues, cane works etc. are a couple of examples of handcrafts which have developed from the villages households of these tribes of West Bengal. Maximum of these craft products embellish the cottage industry of the state and have been spine of the economy of the rural provinces of the West Bengal state.