(Last Updated on : 07/08/2010)
Pardhi tribe occupies a distinct position in the list of tribal communities and they are mainly found in the western provinces of India. The term Pardhi is derived from the word 'paradh' which means 'hunting' in Marathi language
. 'Shikari' is the other term that is commonly used as their alternative name. Though the major occupation of the Pardhi tribes are hunting and gathering, some have taken up diverse occupations like cultivation and some other occupations following the traditions of most of the tribes of the country. Following the tradition of most of the tribal communities of Indian subcontinent, the Pardhi tribal community adapted to occupations like hunting, working as labourers, etc.
Pardhi tribes mainly belong to the Maratha country. The Pardhi tribal community follows numerous practices and norms, mostly related to religion. Interestingly, their customs differ largely with their different localities. Although this Pardhi tribal community has their own indigenous beliefs, nowadays Pardhi tribes also taken up religions like Hinduism
and Christianity. It has been estimated that about one percent of the Pardhi tribal community are Christians.
The main language of the Pardhi tribes is their local dialect which is of the same name. Many of them also talk a dialect of Gujrati language.
In the northern parts of the country, they speak a combination of Hindi language
and Marwari language
. The alternative names are Bahelia, Chita Pardhi, Lango Pardhi, Paidia, Paradi, Paria, Phans Pardhi, Takankar, Takia. It belongs to the famous Indo- Aryan language family. Also these are several dialects like Neelishikari, Pittala Bhasha, Takari which are also popular amongst the Pardhi tribes. The origin of the Pardhi tribal community has got a rich history behind it. Seeing the treasures and prosperity of the Gujarat
region, when the Mongol kings invaded it at the end of the 13th century, the Maratha kings counterattacked them and also established an empire in Gujarat. At that time the Pardhi came under Maratha influence and grew in exuberance. There is a reason why the anthropologists of the country have shown so much of interests on the Pardhi tribal community.
The Pardhi tribal community has several endogamous groups. Their principal sub-castes are the Bhil Pardhis and Shikari. Other groups have also been recorded. Caste system is also not prevalent and also leads a life of isolation. Records of the British era, this Pardhi tribal community is regarded as one of the 'criminal tribes'. In the contemporary period, quite a handful of these Pardhi tribes take oil from crocodiles, carry out monkey shows, or kill only birds that are black. People belonging to Pardhi tribal community never kill or sell a dog. They do not hunt wild dogs. The societal structure and formation of these Pardhi tribes have some identifiable attributes. Like for instance, Phans Pardhis are not permitted to travel in a train and some of them are also prohibited from travelling in a cart. Marriage has been held in high esteem by these Pardhi tribes. For example, these Pardhi tribes can marry only within the same tribal family. Their principal deity is Goddess Devi, also known by different names. Pardhi tribes still maintain the primitive method of trial or ordeals.