(Last Updated on : 28-08-2015)
Mahli is the name of a tribe of India
. Mahli Tribes are mostly found in the Santhal Parganas of West Bengal
. Apart from West Bengal, people of this community are also found in Odisha
. Some are also scattered in the districts like Gumla
. This tribal community is reckoned as one of the Scheduled Tribes
of West Bengal. The Mahli tribes are segregated in 5 sub-groups namely "Patar Mahli", "Tanti Mahli", "Munda Mahli", "Bansphor Mahli" and "Sulukhi Mahali". Their population is dwindling. Day by day these Mahli tribes are decreasing in number.
Livelihood of Mahli Tribe
The Mahli tribes traditionally meet the demands of their sustenance mainly by selling items made of bamboo
. Among various items that are prepared by these Mahli tribes are "Machi" (a small bench), "Sop" and "Chatai" (for lying down and sleeping), a tiny bench, umbrella and raincap (special cap covering head, and upper back for protection from rains during work). A special utensil, "Soop" is used in kitchen mainly for removing dust particles from cereals etc. The people of this tribal community are also engaged in agriculture
, labour, collecting forest products etc.
Economy of Mahli Tribe
The Mahali economy is based on basketry, collection of forest produce, agriculture, carrying palanquins and labour. The main means of Bansphor Mahli has been basket making, Patar Mahli - basket making and cultivation, Sulukhi Mahli - Cultivation and Labour, Tanti Mahli - carrying palanquins and Munda Mahli - cultivators.
Dwellings of Mahli Tribe
The material culture of the Mahli tribes reveals their existence-oriented economy. The houses of this Mahli tribal community are made with the help of bamboo, mud, tiles, kosi grass and wood. The houses are rectangular in shape. Each house has two rooms, a veranda and a courtyard. The houses do not have windows. The door is of bamboo made called Tati.
Culture of Mahli Tribe
The people of the Mahali tribal society practice monogamy in case of marriage. Moreover, in some cases, bigamy and tri-gamy are also granted. Levirate, sororally and widow remarriage
are allowed. They strictly abhor parallel cousin and cross-cousin marriage. In their society levirate and widow remarriage are permissible. The boy or girl is not allowed to marry with a girl or boy of the same clan. This is the reason why each tribe is divided into several clans. Intra-clan marriages are strictly prohibited and inter-clan marriages are practised. The marriages can be held within the village. The Mahli tribes have the custom of tattooing their names on their hands.