Avyayam: The Strongest Indigenous Tribes of India
India is a country that enjoys a unique diaspora. Geographically, we are adorned by the great heights of Himalayas, to sprawling beaches, and dry terrains. Historically, we introduced civilisation to the world, and have built some of the greatest empires over the years.
At this very moment, we are standing at the cusp of a deciding political and economic change but in the midst of all this, we carefully ignore some of the backbenchers of our population, the people who reside away from the comfort of materialism, and who thrive and build their lives amidst nature, the tribal people of India.
The beautiful forests and mountains of our country are homes to various tribes who represent the beautiful history that our country stands for as well as vouches for the fact that our country is indeed democracy in absolute diversity.
Alas, the beautiful and rich culture of these tribes is slowly being plucked away by the thirst for modernisation and urbanisation. This is why only a few of the indigenous tribes of our country still stand strong whilst the others seem to have faded away.
The Banjaras are the colourful gipsies of India’s tribal who find their roots in states like Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
You often spot them in popular culture with their blingy outfits, chips of mirror attached to their garments reflecting shafts of light, and large hippie-esque jewellery. They are almost always completely covered up in clothes and jewellery due to their great reverence for silver and other reflective materials.
They are most well known for their dance, the Lambadi dance, that is, in fact, often an attraction for western tourists. The dance is composed of women, fervently shaking their hips to the sound of the flute and the dhol, and is extremely dexterous. It is considered the Indian equivalent of the Middle-Eastern belly dance style. Their costume style has caught on to such an extent that their embroidery is hugely adapted in fusion clothing.
°The Naga tribes: Konyak tribe
The Naga tribe is most known for their intricate way of life, and their moral living. The government of India recognises seventeen tribes that fall under the conglomerate of the Naga tribes, who inhabit the northeast Indian states of Nagaland, and parts of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. They are most known for their headgear and their detailed dressing style although the Naga tribe gained fame for their practice of headhunting.
The most well-known amongst these is ‘The Konyak Tribe’. They would hunt for their enemies, and slay their heads only to preserve it as a mark of prestige and honour. This practice also believed to lend some of the enemy’s power and valour to the man who had slain him. The man who would bring home an enemy’s head gained fame and respect like no other.
°The Jarawa Tribe
The Jarawa tribe of The Andaman Islands have been going through a strange shift in lifestyle. Secluded from the hinterland of the main country, on land that is virtually unaffected by contemporary changes in culture, the Jarawa tribe lived a life of exclusiveness and were more oblivious of the happenings in the country than others.
With their interaction with outsiders resting at a bare minimum, they were found to be extremely hostile in situations of interaction, often resorting to incensed reactions. This tribe is at risk and seems to be fading away due to increased westernisation and tourism but it is eminent to protect and preserve whatever part of it that we can.
Aghoris are sadhus belonging to an unconventional clan who are Shiva worshippers. While some believe that they have divine powers with which they can bless people, the others think that they are sadhus with black magic which can, in turn, harm people. But these assumptions are undoubtedly a cause of their mystical personalities.
Aghoris are seen to be mostly naked and accepting of their bodies. You can see Aghori in completely naked bodies covered in ashes from the dead bodies. It definitely scares some people while some people find it enticing. Aghoris immerse themselves in the devotion of Lord Shiva. They believe that Lord Shiva is the answer to everything as he is omnipresent and absolute. They perform penance, which is of three kinds that are called Shiva Sadhana, Shav Sadhana, and Smashaan Sadhana. Some people also believe that they are the incarnations of Lord Shiva
°The Dropka Tribe
For centuries Ladakh has been a crossroad of Asian cultures. Different tribes have settled here from the hot Indian plains or migrated across the Tibetan mountains. Once a year they get together to show off their cultures. Yet amid all this colour one group stands out, and not just because they wear flowerpots. Known as the Drokpa, they’re said to have come all the way from Europe.
The Drokpas are a very old tribe in India. They are in fact associated with the ancient Aryan tribe. ‘Drok-Pa’ is a Ladakhi word which means ‘white-skinned’. This is a tribe which is abundant with nearly 3000 people situated into three to seven tribes along the Indus River.
You see back in the fourth century BC Alexander the Great invaded northern India. The story goes that some of his Greek soldiers decided to hang around and put down roots and the community they founded has stayed entirely separate for more than 2000 years. This tribe are also associated with their unique and beautiful sense or ornate fashion which leaves you spellbound!
Mainly because of the way they seem to be fading day by day, it has become absolutely essential to invest time and money into studying, reading and educating oneself about the rich culture, deep and beautiful past as well as the amazing traditions that the tribes have been carrying with them for ages.
This has become the need of the hour in order to make sure that their culture and knowledge as well as traditions stand the heavy test of time and they for sure, stand strong and true to themselves forever.
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